Undergraduate Degree




DF2003 Cinematography I

[Studio Contact Hours: 39 hours; Pre-requisites: NIL; Academic Unit: 3.0]




Academic Unit


3 AU

Course Description


Learning Objective

Through a study of theory and hands-on practice, to deliver to students the principles of the cinematic mise-en-scène and the lighting and camera techniques of narrative filmmaking.


In the making of a film the cinematographer governs such things as the colour, focus, framing and choice of media and therefore plays a major part in determining the overall look of what the audience sees on the screen. Through hands-on project based practice, this course develops the student's ability to communicate with other members of the production crew and camera team, as well as developing the important skill-sets and responsibilities required of the cinematographer within a film production. This course will enable the student to manage a camera crew in the cinematographic creation of a film narrative.

Course Outline




• Intro to course

2 - 6

• Overview of the role and responsibilities of a film director during pre-production,production and post-production.

• Lighting principles and colour theories and the formal creation of film vocabulary.

• The evolution of the film camera. 

• Traditional film camera / digital film camera.

• The relationship of exposure to depth-of-field, and the use of lenses in visual storytelling.


• Mid Sem review of assignments

8 - 12

• Introduction to the main project: the creation of a cinematic form.

• On-set crew management and set protocols for camera, lighting and grip during film production.

• The visual psychology of camera movement and the principles of a narrative mise-en-scène.

• The cinematic system of narrative and visual continuity.


• Final review of assignments

Learning Outcome

The student will have a practice-centred awareness of the importance of the cinematographer to the establishment of the look of a film.

Student Assessment

  1. Final Assessment: 30%

  2. Continuous Assessment: 70% (of which at least 15% is participation)

Continuous assessment components may include:

  • Studio-based exercises and projects

  • Individual, group and team-based assignments


  1. John Alton, Painting with Light, University of California Pres

  2. Rudolf Arnheim, Visual Thinking, University of California Press

  3. Rudolf Arnheim, Film as Art, University of California Pres

  4. Rudolf Arnheim, Art and Visual Perception – A Psychology of the Creative Eye, University of California Press; Deluxe edition, 2004

  5. Stephen H Burum, American Cinematographer Manual

  6. American Cinematographer; 9th edition, 2007

  7. Blain Brown, Cinematography, Theory and Practice, Focal Press

  8. Joseph V Mascell, The Five C's of Cinematography: Motion Picture Filming Techniques, Silman-James Press