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Cinematography: Theory and Practice by Blain Brown

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Is from: Southold, US
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Sun 12-Dec-21 02:53 PM | edited Thu 16-Dec-21 04:56 AM by Obregon
Cinematography: Theory and Practice: For Cinematographers and Directors 4th Edition by Blain Brown

Given the changes that occur almost daily on the equipment side of cinematography, it’s easy to understand why this book is now out in a new edition. While it may be updated, it still has many weaknesses.

There are general discussions of the ways that cameras and lenses can be utilized, including subjects like the effects of different focal lengths and aperture openings. Similar discussions are aimed at lighting, including both lighting equipment and the ways to control the spread of light, and provide the electricity to drive the lighting. There is also a discussion of set operations, including everything from who says when to load the digital media into a camera to who yells “cut” at the end of the scene. There is lengthy review of the schemes employed by various cameras to capture a wide gamut of lighting by coding the image data in different ways, but little advice on which scheme might be appropriate to use for a particular situation.

The book is aimed at larger crews and both the equipment and procedures described may have little application to the small or one man crew. Moreover, at most, the description of say, lighting equipment, is just an introduction. There is nothing to tell you how to turn a big light on or off. One would have to spend a lot of time with manuals, or getting instruction from a more experienced member of the crew, to understand how to actually operate this equipment.

Also lacking is any instruction on how to turn all of the equipment into a story. Presumably one selects a certain length of lens or a type of light because it is the best thing to use to tell the story, given the budget for the film or video. You will have to go elsewhere to learn that.

On the other hand, no one should think that one can learn the art of cinematography from reading just one book. Still, perhaps the long pages describing the kinds of lights could have been leavened with a peek at how a director or cinematographer could use those lights.

The book includes a link to on-line material in the form of brief videos. For a book aimed at professionals, the videos are amateurish, and either duplicated material in the book or that could as easily have been included in the book.

I have to mention the Vital Source Bookshelf software needed to read the on-line book. It is difficult to use. Most other reading software offers the possibility to move down the page of a book by both the mouse scroll wheel and the pressing of a key, usually either the page down key or the space bar. On my Windows 10 computer, the page down key only moved the text down a single line. The space bar did whatever the last click of the mouse did. Links in the text brought you to the text under an image placed at the top of the page, and required you to scroll upward to see the picture. Meanwhile a link to the place you had linked from appeared in a box at the bottom of the page. Clicking on that box would return you to the original link, but then the space bar would no longer move the reader down the page. As if that weren’t bad enough, many of the photographs described in the original link were not the subject described in the caption.

This book will provide a general guide to the use of the equipment used in making a large scale production. However, you will have to learn a lot more before you dare go on a set.