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a insider to the cinematographer career


Director of photography

They read the screenplay and work closely with the director to discuss the look and feel of a film. They then research how to create the look through lighting, framing and camera movement and what they will need in terms of kit and crew to achieve this.

the director of photography (DoP) is also known as a cinematographer

on the set

On each day of filming, DoPs and their camera crews arrive early to set up and rehearse. Working with the director, the DoPs do blocking (decide the exact movements of both actors and camera). They discuss any special camera moves or lighting requirements with the camera operator, gaffer and grip. Each shot is marked up for focus and framing by the focus puller and then the DoP oversees the lighting of the set for the first take. It’s the job of DoPs to make sure every shot is usable and flag them when they’re not. They view the rushes (raw footage) with the director and work closely with the colourist in post-production. On smaller productions they shoot as well.

whats a director of photography good at

Photography: have an eye for composition, know how to tell a story through a shot, understand camera and lighting techniques, know how to use them to affect emotions Technical knowledge of cameras: have an in-depth understanding of all motion picture equipment, cameras, lens, monitors and lights Editing knowledge: understand the post-production work flow, have a good eye for colour in the editing process Making decisions: think quickly, often under pressure Organisation: plan, know how to do things and how long it will take, get the right kit and crew, manage the budget, think about logistical and artistic considerations at the same time Communication: ensure everyone in the team knows what’s expected, work closely with the grips and the gaffer, lead the team and resolve conflicts in situations that can sometimes be stressful

who does the dircetor of photography work with?

Camera operator Camera operators capture the shots. They make sure the cameras and rigs are set up and ready to use. During filming they handle the camera and attend to the composition of the pictures, all the time listening to the director and director of photography. It’s a senior role, a large step-up for focus puller. Many camera operators will develop additional skills such as Steadicam, aerial or underwater experience to improve employability.

Steadicam operator A Steadicam is a system that keeps the camera’s movements smooth regardless of how fast the operator is moving or how bumpy the ground might be. Steadicam operators are responsible for setting the Steadicam up, balancing the camera on it and making sure the shots work. Many are camera operators who have undergone specialist training. It’s physically demanding work as the Steadicams are heavy.

Script supervisor During shooting of a film or TV drama, script supervisors stand by the cameras to make sure no dialogue has been missed. See separate profile: script supervisor