Cinematography Skills

CC image showdown in cinecitta technicolor - Frank & Harmonica by Karl-Ludwig Poggemann at Flickr
CC image showdown in cinecitta technicolor – Frank & Harmonica by Karl-Ludwig Poggemann at Flickr

Material below was adapted from the 2019 IB Film Teacher Support Material

Project Description

A cinematographer must understand basic composition techniques, be comfortable with their camera and have a good understanding of how to control light. Experience is crucial when working as a cinematographer, and the more opportunities that students have to experiment and practise with the key skills the better. This will also give them more options for their complete film.

  1. Review the Cinematographer’s Journal tools and resources (at the bottom of the Cine. Journal page)
  2. Collect a series of shots that will challenge your camera and lighting skills
  3. Carry out research for these to be successful

Sample Activities

  • Examples of activities might include the following:
    • Reflections in a dark window
    • Zoom shot of fast-moving action, such as a vehicle or a sport
    • A sunrise or sunset
    • Running water with a lens flare
    • Over-the-shoulder shot of two people talking
    • Tilt shot (on a tripod) of a tall building
    • Panning shots of a busy street
    • Tracking shot in a forest (also track-in or crane shots, where feasible)
    • Mixed focal lengths between two household objects


  • Research Cinematographer’s Journal YouTube resources
  • Watch film scenes
  • Create a blog post titled, Cinematography Skills
  • Copy and paste these headings into the post:
    • Summary
    • Inquiry
    • Action
    • Reflection
  • Complete the Inquiry section
  • Complete the Action heading
    • Replicate something your researched in the Inquiry activity
    • Include some evidence from the Evidencing the Role section of this project
    • Complete and embed film clips and upload to YouTube as unlisted
    • Write what skills/choices you performed/made are observable in the film in the Action section
  • Complete the Reflection section
    • Where is the room for improvement
    • What would you do differently next time your completed a project like this
  • Complete the Summary section
    • Describe the what and why of the project

Evidencing the Role – Cinematographer

Generate the following types of evidence for assessing your work in the role of the cinematographer:

  • Findings of research on genre, conventions and techniques of influential films
  • Notes from collaborations with other production team members such as emails, storyboards,photos, drawings for all three phases
  • Notations on scripts, storyboards and shooting schedules
  • Shot lists for each scene
  • Notes and diagrams from location scouting including consideration of lighting, camera placement and movement
  • Notes on test shoots
  • Checklists of equipment
  • Evidence of planning for new or tricky shots and sequences
  • Production notes with evidence of choices made, changes to original planning and any issues that came up during the film shoot
  • Notes and reflections after test screening

Required Components


Reflect on watching, discussing, and/or writing about films in preparation for this project
Identify areas of filmmaking that excite and inspire you about this project
With your team, develop filmmaker intentions you would like to achieve through this production work

Selected a film production role
Research/Acquire techniques required to work in this role
Plan for practically exploring the chosen film production role in order to acquire, develop and apply skills, and to fulfill stated filmmaker intentions


Undertake a range of practical production activities in the chosen film production role
Experience working both individually and collaboratively in film activities
Grapple with the skills associated with the film production role
Attempt to effectively fulfill stated filmmaker intentions


Make clear links to the identified films and filmmakers that inspired this work
Reflect on explorations and on the impact this learning has had on your understanding of the film production role and the extent to which they fulfilled their filmmaker intentions.