Look at this for example from the movie “The Jungle Book – 2016” – Mowgli meets Kaa.
When you look at the video, everything seems to flow so smoothly that we don’t even notice how each shot is different. But if you want to be a cinematographer, it’s time to start noticing. The shots of this scene look something like this
Now you see 9 different shots taken from different angles, some are close-ups of Mowgli while some are so far, and look how the mood is set so dark with low lighting.
Who made all these decisions??? Yes, a cinematographer!
Cinematographers, now known as Directors of Photography are like the eyes of the film. They decide the overall visuals of what we see on the screen, be it the angle of the shot, placement of light, or the composition of the same. Read the blog further to know more about how to become a cinematographer – the education, skills, and job preparation required.
Who is a Cinematographer?
In order to generate dynamics on screen, a cinematographer combines the skills of a director, editor, and photographer. Lighting, camera movement, the chosen lenses, and other factors are all under their artistic input.
They typically participate from the storyboards to post-production during the whole production lifecycle. In order to generate the pictures you see on film, they collaborate with the director.
How to become a Cinematographer? [Step by Step Guide]
Step 1: Stream Selection
Cinematographers usually require a degree in photography or video production or other such related fields which needs to be chosen post your 12th. Therefore, after 10th you may choose any stream that you like. Humanities/Arts would be a better choice since it will usually have people with similar interests.
Step 2: Certificate courses and Project Courses
If you’re unsure about cinematography you may test it out by registering for a range of time-efficient and pocket-friendly online courses. There is no prerequisite for them, thus you can enrol in them after getting your 10th grade.
|Certificate Course||Institute offering the Course||Duration|
|Photography Basics and beyond: from smartphone to DSLR||Michigan State University through Coursera||3-6 Months|
|Getting your film off the ground||Michigan State University through Coursera||1-3 Months|
|Learning Cinematography: 1 Narrative Fundamentals||LinkedIn Learning||2 hour 44 mins|
|Learning Cinematography: 3 hands-on Techniques||LinkedIn Learning||45 mins|
|Psychology in Filmmaking: Create Films with stronger emotions||Udemy||1 Hour|
|Cinematography Masterclass: The Complete Videography Guide||Udemy||6 hours|
|Cinematic Lighting||Udemy||5 hours|
|Cinematography 101: Absolute beginner course||Udemy||1 hour|
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Step 3: Educational Qualifications to become a Cinematographer
How to become a Cinematographer after 12th?
A) Undergraduate/diploma course in India
Cinematographers don’t really require a degree. However, formal training is always preferred. The following are some of the undergraduate degrees that you can pursue:
|Bachelor of Fine Arts – Major in Film||3-4 years|
|BA in Film and Media Production||3 Years|
|Bachelor of Mass Media||3 Years|
|Bachelor’s in Film and Television Production||3 years|
|BFA in Motion Picture Arts||3-4 years|
There are also some diploma/certificate courses that you can do. Some of them to check out include:
|Diploma Courses||Institute offering the course||Duration|
|Certificate Course in Cinematography||Whistling Woods||3 Months|
|Course in Cinematography||Institute of creative excellence||3 Months|
|Certification in Cinematography and Lighting||Mumbai Film Academy||6-12 Months|
|Diploma course in cinematography||ZIMA||6 Months|
|Certificate course in cinematography||Deviprasad Goenka Management College of media studies||6 Months|
Also read: Career As A Film Critic
B) Top Colleges in India:
- Wilson College
- St. Xaviers college
- Loyola college
- Mithibai college
- Ruia College
- Amity University
- Jamia Millia Islamia University
- Banaras Hindu University
If you want to pursue a degree from film school, then the following are the best options:
- Film and Television Institute of India, Pune
- Whistling Woods International, Mumbai
- AAFT, Noida
- Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute
- International Institute of Mass Media (IIMM), Delhi
- MIT School of Film and Television, Pune
- YMCA, New Delhi
- JNU, New Delhi
- Ramesh Sippy Academy of Cinema and Entertainment, Mumbai
- Sixteen by Nine Media, Pune
- Annapurna College of Film and Media
To become a Cinematographer abroad
A) Undergraduate/Diploma Courses abroad
Some of the courses abroad that you can check out to become a cinematographer are:
|Undergraduate Course||Estimated Duration|
|BA Hons in Cinema Studies||48 Months|
|Bachelor of Arts in Cinema Studies||48 Months|
|BA/BFA in Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts||48 Months|
|Associate in Arts degree in Video Arts||24 Months|
|B.A. In Cinematic Arts||120 hours|
You can even pursue some diploma courses if you don’t want to invest so much time and money in such courses. Some of them that you might want to check out include
|Diploma/Certificate Course||Institute offering the course||Duration|
|Certificate in Filmmaking||New York Film Academy||Many options available|
|Advanced Diploma in Digital Cinematography||Ontario College||3 Years|
|Advanced Diploma in Broadcasting – Film, Television, Digital Media and Radio||Centennial College||36 Months|
|Graduate Diploma in Film and Television||Deakin University||12 Months|
B) Top Colleges
- Berkeley City College, USA
- Vanderbilt University, USA
- Ulster University, UK
- University of Colorado Boulder, USA
- The University of Chicago, USA
- New York University, USA
- University of Toronto, USA
- National Film and television school, UK
- Wiltshire College, UK
Step 4: Job preparation required for a Cinematographer
A Cinematographer’s job is not easy to get. It requires an adequate amount of hard work and portfolio creation. Some of the tips to get you started are given below:
- Start small:
Helping out on a movie set and watching a professional in action would be a wonderful place to start. Therefore starting small as a cameraman or videographer helps. Many of the abilities required to be a skilled cinematographer are developed via practice and experience.
- Get the right equipment.
The tools needed for a film shoot depend on the project, the setting, and the director’s vision. The cinematographer chooses the appropriate cameras, lenses, filters, lighting, digital media, and other tools to contribute to the visual style of the movie. Before a film shoot, the DP also makes sure that the appropriate rigging is set up.
- Practice photography
It’s crucial for prospective cinematographers to experiment with filmmaking and still photography in order to discover what makes for effective shot composition. Think about taking time away from filming to capture as much video and images as you can, while only accepting lighting jobs. The more you comprehend the fundamentals of film photography, the more naturally you can apply what you’ve learned to express tales through images.
Skills required to become a Cinematographer
- Technological knowledge
- Flexible Creativity
- Decision making
- Graphics and video editing
Salary of a Cinematographer
Salary in India for a Cinematographer
A cinematographer’s pay is greatly influenced by the film’s producers, performers, box office performance, distribution method (theatre or OTT), and a number of other factors. However, Glassdoor reports that the national average producer compensation is $31,678 per month.
Salary Abroad for a Cinematographer
The situation abroad is unchanged. However, the following provides a basic picture of how much a cinematographer makes depending on the different film industries:
|Average salary per year||$59733||£29748.||C$40000||45,100 EUR||€53,346||AU$63026|
Know more: Career as a Creative Director
Top Production houses in India
Usually, cinematographers work on a project basis. However, if you are just starting out, you may check out these production houses to see if they have any vacancies:
- Reliance Entertainment
- Dharma Productions
- Cape of Good films
- Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment
- Phantom Films
- T-Series Super Cassettes Industries Ltd.
- Emmay Entertainment Pvt. Ltd
- Zee Studios
- Salman Khan Films
- Pooja Entertainment India Ltd.
Top Production houses Abroad
- Universal Pictures
- Warner Bros
- Columbia Pictures
- Walt Disney Pictures
- Marvel Studios
- Paramount Pictures
- 20th Century Fox
- RatPac-Dune Entertainment
- Legendary Entertainment
- Relativity Media
Cinematography is fun if you like working with cameras. Like duh! Right? But what I mean is knowing what part of the story you want to focus on with your camera angles is a satisfying process in itself. Thus, while you are choosing to be a cinematographer, ensure you like the creative process of storytelling through the lens!
FAQs about how to become a Cinematographer
What credentials do I require to become a cinematographer?
A bachelor’s degree is required for cinematographers, who can further their education in fine arts or technical colleges that provide courses in cinematography theory and practice. Additionally, they need sharp eyesight, good hand-eye coordination, a creative eye, and a working knowledge of technology and digital cameras.
Is becoming a cinematographer challenging?
When the director and cast are chosen, you are responsible to oversee the entire camera department and be prepared to shoot. A cinematographer may be under a great deal of pressure to deliver. It’s your responsibility to address issues as they arise in order to realise the director’s vision.
Are a cameraman and a cinematographer the same?
The cinematographer, often known as the director of photography (DP or DoP), is also referred to as the lighting cameraman or first cameraman in the film industry. The DP has the option of using a camera operator or second cameraman to set the controls or operate the camera on their behalf.
Where may a filmmaker find employment?
Although their pre-production and post-production job may include scouting out locations, working on site, or analysing footage in a studio, cinematographers primarily work on film sets and studios.
What advantages do cinematographers enjoy?
The following benefits are also possibly connected to this position:
— The capacity to collaborate with other creative people in a creative atmosphere.
— Ability to travel, observe, and interact with new people and things.
— Working in a fast-paced atmosphere is a must.
— The capacity to operate independently.
How many hours a day does a cinematographer work?
You won’t be clocking out at 5 o’clock every day if you choose to work as a cinematographer. Be prepared to work a lot of unpredictable, unsocial hours. Filming can happen whenever it suits the needs of the project because of the nature of the industry. Sometimes, you could even have to work on the weekend.