© 2015 ellathompson



I was only able to attend the Wednesday class, not the Friday class, during week 1. Although I missed out on hearing a broad overview of the course on Friday, I’ve managed to piece together an understanding of what to expect during the coming weeks.

My understanding is that this course is going to teach us to think of a scene and read a script in terms of the camerawork. We will practice thinking from the perspective of the camera. We may look at elements within a shot – lighting, focus, blocking, camera shot size/angle/movement etc. – as well as the shot construction of a scene. I suppose that this means that editing will come into play as well, which I didn’t initially think about upon electing this studio for Media 5. However, I definitely need to improve my familiarity with editing theory/practice, so this may be a good opportunity to do so. We will study scene-making in both a theoretical and practical regard; however, we may gradually tailor our individual experimentations in this course to whatever interests us within the realm of scene-making.

My understanding of the course excites me. I am really looking forward to individual work (long overdue in this Media degree!). I am excited to figure out what fascinates me and what I want to further look into – I already have a number of ideas.

I’m also excited because I get to balance this camera-focused subject with my sound design elective. It’s interesting to compare the subjects – so far, both are progressing quite similarly (tasks requiring us to break down scenes in terms of either shot construction or sound construction), despite looking at very different sides of filmmaking.

This course seems like exactly the course that I want and need right now. Cinematography is of enormous fascination and interest to me, and it is an equally enormous weakness of mine. I’m aware that this course is a little more complicated than ‘cinematography 101’, but it sounds like the ideal course for me right now. I’m looking forward to getting into it!



The task was to shoot a scene using a single shot. Each group received the scene in a different format – i.e. scripted actions and dialogue, or brief story synopsis.

The shooting experiment was quite a clever idea; it was intriguing to see the different kind of coverage that groups came up with from slightly different ‘mapping’ instructions. I would still expect shot constructions to have varied from group to group had everyone been given identical scripts; however, I believe that groups would have shared far more similar shot constructions.

My group worked relatively well together and we managed to use our time efficiently to come up with a somewhat creative coverage of our assigned script. It was really the blocking / shot composition that was most visually interesting in our scene, the odd pan or tilt only serving to accent this.

I was surprised at the lack of camera movement in many of the groups’ final scenes, even in my own. Some groups elected to keep the camera completely stationary. I’m naturally inclined towards exceedingly dynamic shots – I like thinking about how much / what kind of camera movement I can fit into a scene in order to make it as dynamic as possible. Hence, I was bewildered by the overwhelmingly opposite approach of my own group and other groups. I guess it kind of made me take a step back and re-evaluate my usual thought processes in regard to imagining a scene. I think that I need to be careful not to make things excessively stylistic for the sake of making them stylistic. I shouldn’t assume that making a scene where the only camera movements allowed are pans and tilts means that pans and tilts should be used wherever possible. Instead, I need to evaluate what is appropriate for the scene in regards to the script. It’ll be a challenge to pry myself away from this instinctive excess in terms of technical/stylistic choices (e.g. camera movement), but I suppose that these class exercises will present good opportunities for practice!

On a similar note, one of the clips showed during class was a nice example of calculated appraisal of what camera movement is suitable for a scene. I think this was the second clip that Robin played. I think it was a scene in a single shot. I distinctly remember the frame composition being strikingly unusual, and the camera only moved (panned) when necessary to cover the characters’ blocking. The scene was sparing but still creative with its camera movement. The composition of each frame was perfectly calculated to achieve aesthetic balance, especially in terms of its characters’ positions. The blocking in particular was quite complex. I remember someone remarking about how “constructed” it looked the second time they watched it. But I thought the shot construction was brilliant and extremely innovative. Camera movement was tailored according to the action in the scene, and, although a lot was going on in each frame, there was always one element in frame that drew the eye more than any other. I guess that’s what good cinematography is supposed to do – encourage focus on certain visual elements that communicate the story. I think those two things are important to keep in mind throughout this studio workshop: tailoring camerawork according to action in the scene, and drawing the audience’s eye towards what will best communicate the story / meaning.

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