Lights, Sound, Camera, Action



Every director has given four words more than once:  lights, sound, camera, and action.  Maybe you have heard lights, camera, and action but not perhaps the word sound.   Some producers don’t need to call sound since the sound is all stored on the camera.  Those who need to call sound record their audio on a separate device that must also start.  Production companies have many stages they go through, from planning, producing, and editing production.  Many people see the day of the shoot and think that is all there is to it. 

Cinematography is a composition of techniques and processes to make films.  Cinema represents artistic expression from a broad dichotomy from fantasy to specific information to educate an audience about a particular topic.  On the day of the shoot, an immense amount of creative and logical collaboration must come together.  Cinematography is a simultaneous logistical and creative effort with anywhere from a few-person crew to hundreds of stages hands actors to deliver an engaging, entertaining piece for many to enjoy.

Cinematography first came about by Thomas Edison and William Dixon in 1891, who invented the first precursor to the movie projector, the kinetoscope.  This device is a cabinet with a window by which users can view the image of a moving image.  A perforated strip of celluloid film swings rapidly around a lightbulb lens and facilitates the ability of the viewer to see photos shot by the kinetoscope.  Some images shot included:  circus shows, women’s dances, cockfighting, boxing matches, and dental extractions. 

Edison held demonstrations of the kinetoscope in hotel libraries, amusement parks, and auditoriums as it became popular.  Within a short time, the concept of movie theatre surfaced, and customers could see a show for only .25 cents.  Friends suggested that Edison find a way for  kinetoscope to show images for a larger audience, but he said: “it would be a less profitable enterprise.”

Since Edison didn’t receive an international patent for the kinetoscope, it was soon replicated and distributed throughout Europe.  The entertainment invention became an overnight success.  Within a short time, many mechanics, inventors, and engineers started experimenting with projecting moving images onto a larger because of the golden opportunity they saw.

Two brothers, Auguste and Louise Lumiere were manufacturers of photographic supplies and achieved the most commercial success.  Thus on March 22, 1895, the first Cinematographe made its debut at the Société d’Encouragement pour l’Industrie Nationale, the first private demonstration of this new invention.  Later, in Paris, on December 28, 1895, the first public demonstration was at the Grand Café, Boulevard des Capucines.  Yes, within a few months, this new marvel is now being mass-produced and used all over Europe and North America. 

The Lumière brothers and their camera team produced over 1,400 films from people and places all over the world during 1894-1905.  Lumière technology became a new European standard as they sent their members in search of intriguing subjects, sites, and content

Now that you know how the first cinematograph came into existence let’s talk about what a cinematographer is.  A Cinematographer is responsible for taking pictures and movies and transferring them onto film.  They must choose the camera, lens, lighting, shot framing, camera monitoring, grip, and other departments that use electricity on the set.  Today the process has been majorly overhauled with the ability to shoot with digital cameras, and now we don’t use film.  However, the images and pictures save to electronic storage such as an SSD Card, USB, or hard drive. 

Now, if this sounds fun, wait; there is still the shooting day task of creating the right mood and tone in the producer’s hands.  The producer will work with the cinematographer to ensure the right feelings and style are reflected throughout the production, yielding a film that entertains viewers.

In 1929, cinematographer Bil Blitzer and D. W. Griffith’s concept of storytelling to captivate our emotions emerged.  During this time, the principles of filmmaking included:  soft focus, fadeout, closeup, and backlighting.  Next came the dawning of studios, including Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, MGM, and RKO, to name a few.  Actors started to become center stage and famous because of their work.  During the 50s’60s, Hollywood was officially born and produced big-screen films to intrigue, entertain and captivate their audiences.

Today the art of film production continues to evolve as new technology emerges; one can add effects such as 3D Pictures, interactive stories, and post-production stories; there is the ability to create magic not just on the set but off it.  Orbital Media, a total print center, marketing, and video production company, understands that producing high-quality films, reels, or commercials takes creativity, skill, and a passion for inspiring our audiences.



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