Technical and Creative Elements of Cinematic Expression

The Technique is of no value unless supported by an Idea.

The cinematic sequence compares to a symphony where the instruments are the elements of cinematic expression:
Light (Quality, Direction, Intensity, Mood, Style, Color), Lens (Focal Length, Aperture), Camera (Position, Movement), and Color (Thematic Relevance). Just like in a symphony, the wrong choice of any single instrument compromises the coherence of the expression as a whole. So is the painter who contemplates the interpretation of his idea. He visualizes the idea in terms of Composition, Light, and Color, to name a few, paying attention to the relevance of those choices to the message intended to be conveyed. The cinematic expression expands the interpretation with the dimension of Movement. Although the element of Movement is critical in cinematic expression, it seems to be most misunderstood and/or abused. The reason for the abuse finds its source in the progressive commercialization of art, where the creators seem to be overly preoccupied with the element of “energy.” They prioritize the movement (camera, editing), knowing it is the most direct way to coerce the viewer’s attention. The disregard for the necessity of motivation for the movement results in the opposite effect of silencing the camera and stripping the expression of its most eloquent tool of communication with the viewer. The Dancing with Light technique addresses Elements of Cinematic Expression in demonstration and students’ hands-on.

The image displays choices of elements of cinematic expression
Film Workshop – Cinematic Expression, Florence, Italy
The image displays choices of the elements of cinematic expression
The University of Southern California. MFA Cinematography
Example of expressive lighting

The Imaging System of Film and Video is based on the value of 18% Reflectance Grey Card.
Understanding the Zone System of Exposure is of great importance in cinematography. The creative process is about the ability to light from the mind rather than by the video monitor. Michelangelo eloquently related to the nature of the creative process:
“It’s in this stone; I just need to bring it out.”

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