An Introduction to the Basics of Cinematography

There’s resources available online that can teach you almost anything you want to know. It’s funny how at this point in time, we can learn almost everything college has to offer; unfortunately, the only thing we can’t get is an actual degree. But either way, for those of us who are always hungry to acquire a new skill, there’s always a way to do so. For those of you that are filmmakers and videographers, here’s a video that introduces you to the basics of cinematography within the span of about forty minutes.

Richard Michalak, a cinematographer for over forty years now, is the man behind the video. Utilizing an entire set, he gives us the terms and definitions along with actual examples of everything he talks about. From the rule of thirds to hard and soft lighting, the video can essentially be retitled “Cinematography in a Nutshell”. If you’ve been looking for an easy way to learn the basics of filming with a DSLR, this is the most informative, well-put tutorial I’ve ever come across for it.

If you don’t have the time for almost an hour’s worth of watching, or just need to learn something specific, I’ve broken the video down for you guys to navigate through below.

:28 – Why not just leave the camera on automatic?
:53 – Describing your shot
1:48 – Choosing your shot
2:38 – Storyboard
3:38 – Framing your shot
5:58 – Height of the camera
6:14 – Continuity
7:07 – Eyelines
8:19 – Wide Lens and Long Lens
9:39 – Moving the camera
10:54 – How to move the camera handheld
11:44 – Focusing the camera
12:24 – Focusing a DSLR
13:24 – Frame rate
14:19 – Slow Motion
15:29 – Shutter speed
17:19 – F-etop
18:44 – Depth of field
19:44 – ISO/Gain
20:39 – Filters
22:51 – What camera should I shoot on?
23:41 – What lenses should I buy?
25:27 – White Balance
26:48 – White balancing on a DSLR
28:19 – Why should you light a film?
28:39 – 3 point lighting
31:08 – Soft light and hard light
33:43 – Angles of hard light
34:43 – Silhouetting
35:54 – Shooting with the sun
36:54 – Choosing your background
37:31 – Brightness of Background