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Columbia College Chicago


Who is the cinematographer?

A cinematographer is the person who makes a film happen. He/she visualizes the script and makes it, physically, into images. He/she must be talented, creative, knowledgeable in all areas of filmmaking. He/she must be good in dealing with people and must be able to improvise. Ultimately he/she is fully responsible for all images on the screen.

About Cinematography

The goal of the cinematography program is to give students a pre-professional level of knowledge and competence necessary to conceive and create images for the screen.

Students on completing the Cinematography area of study should be able to:

  • Understand the concept, practice, and aesthetics of lighting.
  • Be able to link a lighting concept to dramatic material.
  • Develop a coherent film or video with the emphasis on communicating the message of te piece visually.
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of 16mm and 35mm cameras and responsibilities of an assistant camera and a camera operator.
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of electronic imaging, image optics, special effects (optical and digital), and film stocks and laboratory practices.
  • Be able to translate a director’s concept into a complete short film that both demonstrates proficiency of craft and creativity and fulfills the director’s explicit intention.

Cinematography is a very demanding profession and only the strongest, most talented and most persistent students can survive. Cinematographers are self-motivated.

Cinematography students should decide as soon as possible in their academic careers to pursue this profession. Your success depends greatly on who you know. Your ability to make genuine contacts begins the day you walk in the door. You should always be on the look out for people with whom you wish to collaborate, especially potential directors and producers. You can learn a great deal from shooting other students’ projects.

The required classes for graduation cover only a minimum.

Because cinematography requires such a broad knowledge in many areas we strongly encourage cinematography students to take all courses our program offers, especially those who are interested in persuing a career as Directors of Photography.