Topics

Cinematography Class - Textbook Recommendations

Sean P. Malone
 

Respected Colleagues,

I teach part time at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, CA. This coming Fall, I will be teaching "Cinematography I" for the first time in my career.

I am reaching out to get your recommendations for foundational cinematography textbooks. I could mention what books I am familiar with already, but I'd rather just hear your raw recommendations. I plan to structure the class as very hands on, and focus heavily on composition and lighting. Because of this, strong photography textbook recommendations are also welcome. 

I also welcome ANY input from those of you who have taught or taken a cinematography class in the past (ideas, approaches, exercises, whatever). I want the class to be truly engaging and eye-opening for these young filmmakers!

Gratefully,

Sean P. Malone
DP/Producer
Orange County, CA 

www.seanpmalone.com

 

Geoff Boyle
 

I can't help now, but chase me directly next week...

cheers
Geoff Boyle NSC
EU based cinematographer
+31 637155076
www.gboyle.co.uk

On Mon, 9 Jul 2018, 03:54 Sean P. Malone, <sean.malone@...> wrote:

Respected Colleagues,

I teach part time at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, CA. This coming Fall, I will be teaching "Cinematography I" for the first time in my career.

I am reaching out to get your recommendations for foundational cinematography textbooks. I could mention what books I am familiar with already, but I'd rather just hear your raw recommendations. I plan to structure the class as very hands on, and focus heavily on composition and lighting. Because of this, strong photography textbook recommendations are also welcome. 

I also welcome ANY input from those of you who have taught or taken a cinematography class in the past (ideas, approaches, exercises, whatever). I want the class to be truly engaging and eye-opening for these young filmmakers!

Gratefully,

Sean P. Malone
DP/Producer
Orange County, CA 

www.seanpmalone.com

 

Art Adams
 

How to Shoot Movies without Shooting Yourself in the Foot (Jack Anderson) – one of my mentors, so I'm biased.

Shaping Light for Video in the Age of LEDs (Alan Steinheimer) -- my regular gaffer, so once again I'm biased.

I also recommend "The Simple Secret to Better Painting" by Greg Albert. Even though it's a book about painting, and composing one frame at a time when you have total control over doing so, I think it teaches some great techniques that help beginners learn how to construct interesting and intentional compositions. I feel like a lot of young filmmakers either compose intuitively or accidentally—both largely side effects of DSLR culture, where one can move around with a camera until something looks good and then hit record, or hit record and move around until one accidentally captures something that looks great in editing for a couple of frames or a second—and there's a lack of understanding that one can create a composition, containing specific elements arranged in specific ways, that tells an intentional story. (I also think there's some good stuff in there for when UHD and 4K projection become a common thing, as telling the eye where to look within a complex frame becomes more important as resolution increases.)

Oh, and make them watch every single episode of "Every Frame a Painting" on Youtube.


On Sun, Jul 8, 2018 at 7:54 PM Sean P. Malone <sean.malone@...> wrote:

Respected Colleagues,

I teach part time at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, CA. This coming Fall, I will be teaching "Cinematography I" for the first time in my career.

I am reaching out to get your recommendations for foundational cinematography textbooks. I could mention what books I am familiar with already, but I'd rather just hear your raw recommendations. I plan to structure the class as very hands on, and focus heavily on composition and lighting. Because of this, strong photography textbook recommendations are also welcome. 

I also welcome ANY input from those of you who have taught or taken a cinematography class in the past (ideas, approaches, exercises, whatever). I want the class to be truly engaging and eye-opening for these young filmmakers!

Gratefully,

Sean P. Malone
DP/Producer
Orange County, CA 

www.seanpmalone.com

 



--
Art Adams
Director of Photography
San Francisco Bay Area

Stu Willis
 

Using Every Frame A Painting as a springboard, here's some more general "film form" suggestions. I think you could turn these into practical exercises to demonstrate the power of the image as a storytelling tool.

Bruce Block's The Visual Story. It is kind of Art Theory 101 for filmmakers, but I like that it is it is about designing the visual language of a film over time. Because it's abstracted from specific technology, I think it works as a good foundational read regardless of discipline. (I think it's perhaps better for cinematographers than Shot By Shot or the Grammar of the Film Language because it's more about the aesthetics of the image than shooting coverage).

Similarly, I think the blog 'Temple of the Seven Golden Monkeys' written by a Disney story artist is a great resource for teaching visual storytelling. Some of it is very specific to story artists (e.g. all the stuff on actual sketching) but there's some broader stuff that's fantastic. Here's two specific specific examples that are somewhat myopic but good reads:

Flat is Funny, Depth is Dramatic

and

Staging and How it Affects Mood and Drama

HTH,

--
stuart willis
editor
Melbourne

skype: stuwillis

daan@...
 

Hey,

As a book, I enjoyed reflections (benjamin bergery) most. 

More options on teaching light would be the asc's tech tip video's, shane's inner circle or the older kodak masterclasses which are all very informative and offer things books can't. 

A site i like too is moviesincolor.com

Enjoy teaching!

Daan Steijnen van Eck, 
Director/Dp, Amsterdam 

Picha Srisansanee
 

Hi Sean,

I've been doing questions for occupational tests here in Thailand for the past few months, I kept going back to these books, all written before the current digital acquisition days. I think these are great in teaching the basics and technology agnostic. 

In no particular order:

Job Descriptions for Film, Video & CGI by William E. Hines, SOC. 
 It's an old, out of print book, but you can always find a nice used copy on Amazon.  It was written in the film days so doesn't have all the new positions like DIT etc.  But its great to see all the positions breakdown into simple to understand departments and positions (and how they relate to each other) and from a major studio perspective.

Set Lighting Technician's Handbook: Film Lighting Equipment, Practice and Electrical Distribution by Harry Box,
I've just talked to a electrical union business rep at CineGear and he said this is the book the local recommended.  I have the older versions of this, and it's always informative.

The Grip Book by Michael Uva
is always great.

The Five C's of Cinematography: Motion Picture Filming Techniques by Joseph V. Mascelli
Still very relevant in how to tell a story.   

And most important of all, keep reading and try to understand CML!

Picha Srisansanee
DP and shopkeeper
Bangkok, Thailand

Jose del C Martinez
 

Hi Geoff

  Can I ride with you this morning? I am close to the hotel.

Jose

On Mon, Jul 9, 2018, 4:21 AM Geoff Boyle <geoff@...> wrote:
I can't help now, but chase me directly next week...

cheers
Geoff Boyle NSC
EU based cinematographer
+31 637155076
www.gboyle.co.uk

On Mon, 9 Jul 2018, 03:54 Sean P. Malone, <sean.malone@...> wrote:

Respected Colleagues,

I teach part time at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, CA. This coming Fall, I will be teaching "Cinematography I" for the first time in my career.

I am reaching out to get your recommendations for foundational cinematography textbooks. I could mention what books I am familiar with already, but I'd rather just hear your raw recommendations. I plan to structure the class as very hands on, and focus heavily on composition and lighting. Because of this, strong photography textbook recommendations are also welcome. 

I also welcome ANY input from those of you who have taught or taken a cinematography class in the past (ideas, approaches, exercises, whatever). I want the class to be truly engaging and eye-opening for these young filmmakers!

Gratefully,

Sean P. Malone
DP/Producer
Orange County, CA 

www.seanpmalone.com

 

Mitch Gross
 

I suggest “Cinematography: 3rd Edition” by Kris Malkiewicz & CML’s own M. David Mullen. 

I have each edition of this book and it is an excellent entry into the craft. 


Mitch Gross
Cinema Product Manager 
Panasonic Systems Solutions Company of North America
New York

On Jul 9, 2018, at 3:51 PM, Picha Srisansanee <thepicha@...> wrote:

Hi Sean,

I've been doing questions for occupational tests here in Thailand for the past few months, I kept going back to these books, all written before the current digital acquisition days. I think these are great in teaching the basics and technology agnostic. 

In no particular order:

Job Descriptions for Film, Video & CGI by William E. Hines, SOC. 
 It's an old, out of print book, but you can always find a nice used copy on Amazon.  It was written in the film days so doesn't have all the new positions like DIT etc.  But its great to see all the positions breakdown into simple to understand departments and positions (and how they relate to each other) and from a major studio perspective.

Set Lighting Technician's Handbook: Film Lighting Equipment, Practice and Electrical Distribution by Harry Box,
I've just talked to a electrical union business rep at CineGear and he said this is the book the local recommended.  I have the older versions of this, and it's always informative.

The Grip Book by Michael Uva
is always great.

The Five C's of Cinematography: Motion Picture Filming Techniques by Joseph V. Mascelli
Still very relevant in how to tell a story.   

And most important of all, keep reading and try to understand CML!

Picha Srisansanee
DP and shopkeeper
Bangkok, Thailand

Sean P. Malone
 

Respected Colleagues,

A sincere thanks to all who responded. I will be looking into all your recommendations!

Since this is CML and there is no shortage of opinions (a glorious asset!) let me run one more idea by you:

I had considered using the ASC Manual (10th Edition) and a 6 month subscription to AC magazine as required texts. I see how valuable the AC subscription could be to my students (it was very valuable to me at that level) but do you think there is a place for the ASC Manual in this type of class as well? More broadly, in what circumstances and for what applications do you find the ASC Manual most useful?

Thanks very much,

Sean P. Malone
DP/Producer
Orange County, CA 

On Mon, Jul 9, 2018 at 6:27 AM, Mitch Gross <mitchgrosscml@...> wrote:
I suggest “Cinematography: 3rd Edition” by Kris Malkiewicz & CML’s own M. David Mullen. 

I have each edition of this book and it is an excellent entry into the craft. 


Mitch Gross
Cinema Product Manager 
Panasonic Systems Solutions Company of North America
New York

On Jul 9, 2018, at 3:51 PM, Picha Srisansanee <thepicha@...> wrote:

Hi Sean,

I've been doing questions for occupational tests here in Thailand for the past few months, I kept going back to these books, all written before the current digital acquisition days. I think these are great in teaching the basics and technology agnostic. 

In no particular order:

Job Descriptions for Film, Video & CGI by William E. Hines, SOC. 
 It's an old, out of print book, but you can always find a nice used copy on Amazon.  It was written in the film days so doesn't have all the new positions like DIT etc.  But its great to see all the positions breakdown into simple to understand departments and positions (and how they relate to each other) and from a major studio perspective.

Set Lighting Technician's Handbook: Film Lighting Equipment, Practice and Electrical Distribution by Harry Box,
I've just talked to a electrical union business rep at CineGear and he said this is the book the local recommended.  I have the older versions of this, and it's always informative.

The Grip Book by Michael Uva
is always great.

The Five C's of Cinematography: Motion Picture Filming Techniques by Joseph V. Mascelli
Still very relevant in how to tell a story.   

And most important of all, keep reading and try to understand CML!

Picha Srisansanee
DP and shopkeeper
Bangkok, Thailand

Steven Bradford
 



On Jul 16, 2018, at 12:00 PM, Sean P. Malone <sean.malone@...> wrote:

I had considered using the ASC Manual (10th Edition) and a 6 month subscription to AC magazine as required texts.

When you say you are looking for a “foundational Text” what is the background of the students? Are they general cinema majors who may become anything from a director to a DP to a sound recordist to a screenwriter? Or are these students who are on cinematography track?

Steven Bradford
Cinematographer/Instructor
Seattle Film Institute

sarith krishnan
 

As a student I feel that learning art ...watching paintings and films are the needs...and I love the asc magazine,they tell u any practical experience vividly and the technology they improvise with.

I feel that there are very few books which talk abt natural lighting patterns ...I have not come across any yet...

Nobody talks much abt lensing at schools and different sensor sizes that are available and the relation of depth .

I have used a text book called film lighting to understand various equipments 



On 17-Jul-2018 7:56 am, "Steven Bradford" <bradford@...> wrote:


On Jul 16, 2018, at 12:00 PM, Sean P. Malone <sean.malone@...> wrote:

I had considered using the ASC Manual (10th Edition) and a 6 month subscription to AC magazine as required texts.

When you say you are looking for a “foundational Text” what is the background of the students? Are they general cinema majors who may become anything from a director to a DP to a sound recordist to a screenwriter? Or are these students who are on cinematography track?

Steven Bradford
Cinematographer/Instructor
Seattle Film Institute

Sean P. Malone
 

"When you say you are looking for a “foundational Text” what is the background of the students? Are they general cinema majors who may become anything from a director to a DP to a sound recordist to a screenwriter? Or are these students who are on cinematography track?"

Poignant question, Steven. They are cinema majors who may take different career tracks. 

Sean P. Malone
DP/Producer
Orange County, CA 

On Mon, Jul 16, 2018 at 7:21 PM, Steven Bradford <bradford@...> wrote:


On Jul 16, 2018, at 12:00 PM, Sean P. Malone <sean.malone@...> wrote:

I had considered using the ASC Manual (10th Edition) and a 6 month subscription to AC magazine as required texts.

When you say you are looking for a “foundational Text” what is the background of the students? Are they general cinema majors who may become anything from a director to a DP to a sound recordist to a screenwriter? Or are these students who are on cinematography track?

Steven Bradford
Cinematographer/Instructor
Seattle Film Institute

Art Adams
 

I'd look at Film and Digital Times. I find AC to be really lightweight these days. I guess it's okay for students, but I feel like FDT is the only real craft magazine out there at the moment.

I find AC particularly annoying when it comes to lighting. There's all sorts of talk about lenses and cameras and LUTs, but almost nothing about how things are lit for a particular look. Half the time the articles show production stills, which give no insight into how concepts are executed.

FDT speaks to professionals, and if students want to be professionals then I think that's the stuff they should be reading. International Cinematographer is slightly more crafty than AC, but it uses a lot of the same writers and goes into only slightly more detail.

--
Art Adams
Director of Photography
San Francisco Bay Area