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Old October 7th, 2013, 06:52 PM   #1
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Cinematographer ? what's that ?

This is interesting. Last week I had a potential client that needed a "cinematographer" and not a videographer. I asked her if she knew the difference. She said that a cinematographer makes the capturing look more like film rather than video and that cinematographers are more artistic as well as more refined in what they do. She went on to say that she relates a videographer to videotape which is a thing of the past. Now after a lenghty discussion with her to straighten things up, which I eventually did with a lot of explaining, she booked. I thought to myself for a moment, who coined up that phrase/word of cinematographer in our recent past ? I have been a videographer for many years and even though the capturing is still done with a camera and lens, it is the medium and the presentation apparatus which has changed. Tape and tube vs media card and lcd/led screen. Does recent advancements in the hardware department make me a "cinematographer" instead of the lowly " videographer " ?
If there is a real difference between the 2 trades, please enlighten my ignorance, as I really do not have a clue.
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Old October 7th, 2013, 07:30 PM   #2
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Re: Cinematographer ? what's that ?

I could be off but there is actually quite a bit of difference between a cinematographer and a videographer. A cinematographer heads the camera department on a production. Their primary responsibility is to capture a specific image that is dictated by the director. They are responsible for a lot of the planning and coordination of camera and lighting crews. I like to think of the cinematographer as someone who bridges the gap between the artistic vision and the technical details of capturing an aesthetic. It does not matter what the media is, video tape, digital image, film, whatever.

A videographer is someone who is more in line with capturing a specific event. It could be a wedding, concert, behind the scenes, but their primary focus will be more on capturing the event. That isn't to say that a videographer wouldn't be able to do what a cinematographer does, but most people don't really understand what a cinematographer does. Most people thing they are the ones behind the camera. They may be on a smaller production, but their first focus is on the planning of how to capture the image.

I've had it explained to me by cinematographers and directors that a good cinematographer is someone who can help you create a look an be able to repeat it. They also are like great chefs, they have never mixed two ingredients before but they have the skill and knowledge to have a very good idea of what it would taste like if they did. Cinematographers are kind of like that. They have a really good idea what you'll get when you setup and shoot a scene with different equipment.

At least that's one way to think of it.
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Old October 7th, 2013, 07:30 PM   #3
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Re: Cinematographer ? what's that ?

We've always seen references to cinematography on movie credits, etc. but not so for videography. So yes, I think people, in their minds, associate the word 'videography' with 'video camera'; whereas 'cinematography' is what George Lucas and Steven Spielberg do! If we are indeed producing professional quality wedding films with technical and artistic proficiency, we certainly may refer to ourselves as wedding cinematographers. That's how I see it anyway...
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Old October 7th, 2013, 07:35 PM   #4
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Re: Cinematographer ? what's that ?

Hi Arthur

In the wedding industry it appears that Cinematography is being applied to the more creative...DSLR/slider/shallowDOF kind of production and videographer to the more documentary type of production.

I think we just find names to suit us and as far as I'm concerned a Cinematographer is someone that shoots on film stock (or used to in the old days) essentially for the big screen compared with videographers who worked for the TV networks and shot on tape.

Seriously, either or both could have or have no creative talent. On wedding forums I think the early guys who discovered they could shoot video on their DSLR's decided to call themselves "cinematographers" but then again that hardly specifies talent or skill's only a name. I could be working as a toilet cleaner or if I prefer I could ALSO call myself a Sanitary Engineer ..but I'm still doing a good job and the same job.

Take your choice and use one or the other or even both !!

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Old October 7th, 2013, 07:39 PM   #5
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Re: Cinematographer ? what's that ?

Thanks everyone. I guess I am a videographer then. Just as I thought.
Then when someone advertises himself as a cinematographer willing to capture the wedding as a one man show, then he is really using a fancy name to glorify himself as a Spielberg. Am I right ?
Likewise a plumber can advertise and be referred as a water management engineer.
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Old October 7th, 2013, 07:44 PM   #6
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Re: Cinematographer ? what's that ?

I'd say call yourself whatever you want. Your videos should speak for themselves. It's not like on a movie set the DP sits around taking photos. It's just a name and while there may be some validity to a more "filmic/artistic" look with someone who calls themselves cinematographer, most reasonable clients will focus on your work and not on what you call yourself. And it looks like that couple did just that so nice job! :)
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Old October 7th, 2013, 08:43 PM   #7
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Re: Cinematographer ? what's that ?

i believe this explains it....
Modern Wedding Cinema for the Modern Bride
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Old October 7th, 2013, 10:07 PM   #8
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Re: Cinematographer ? what's that ?

I laughed so hard at that example video ... fantastic explanation in simple terms!

Most client's have an idea of what cinematography is and just like with any job title, it will mean a bit more or less to clients.

To me it's just about being a creative editor and about using certain shots that you generally only see in the movies rather than conventional tripod mounted, handheld video.
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Old October 7th, 2013, 10:28 PM   #9
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Re: Cinematographer ? what's that ?

From Wikipedia.
Decide what you want to call yourself then go from there. Hell as far as I'm concerned you can call me what ever you want just spell my name right on the check.

A cinematographer (usually credited with the title director of photography, or DP) is the chief over the camera and lighting crews working on a film, and responsible for achieving artistic and technical decisions related to the image. The study and practice of this field is referred to as cinematography.
There are differences between the British and the American traditions as regards the role of the director of photography.
In the British system, the director of photography ("DOP"), sometimes credited as the lighting cameraman, is responsible for lighting the set and the visual look of the film, but has no final say over more purely camera operating-based visual elements such as framing. This system means that the director consults the lighting cameraperson for lighting and filtration, and the operator for framing and lens choices. "DOP" is the British and Canadian acronym for "director of photography".
In the American system, the camera operator and everybody else in camera department is subordinate to the DP, who, along with and next to the director, has the final word on all decisions related to both lighting and framing.
The cinematographer selects the film stock, lens, filters, etc., to realize the scene in accordance with the intentions of the director. Relations between the cinematographer and director vary; in some instances the director will allow the cinematographer complete independence; in others, the director allows little to none, even going so far as to specify exact camera placement and lens selection. Such a level of involvement is not common once the director and cinematographer have become comfortable with each other, the director will typically convey to the cinematographer what is wanted from a scene visually, and allow the cinematographer latitude in achieving that effect.

Strictly speaking, a videographer is a person who works in the field of videography, video production — recording moving images and sound on video tape, disk, other electro-mechanical device. News broadcasting relies heavily on live television where videographers engage in electronic news gathering (ENG) of local news stories. On a set, in a television studio, the videographer is usually a camera operator of a professional video camera, sound, and lighting. As part of a typical electronic field production (EFP) television crew, videographers usually work with a television producer. However, for smaller productions (e.g. corporate and event videography), a videographer often works alone with a single-camera setup or in the case of a multiple-camera setup, as part of a larger television crew with lighting technician, grips and sound operators.
Typically, videographers are distinguished from cinematographers in that they manage smaller, event scale productions (commercials, documentaries, live events, short films, training videos, weddings), differing from individualized large production team members. Due to reduced budget compared to full-length feature productions, videographers typically use electro-mechanical cameras while cinematographers record images on film. The advent of digital cinematography, however, has blurred this distinction.
Further, it is becoming more and more common for people to talk about "filming" with a camcorder even though no "film" is involved. Similarly, the term "taping" is often used (for lack of a better term) though no tape (or film) is involved, where live video is recorded directly to video tape, a direct to disk recording using a hard disk recorder, or a tapeless camcorder using flash media.
Videographers maintain and operate a variety of video equipment, edit footage, and stay up to date with technological advances.
The videographer is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the satellite, maintaining and repairing video walls, video editing in various formats, creating graphics for the speciality channels of cruise events information, shooting and editing video tapes, and broadcast programming the broadcast room (such as tuning a TV & radio).
What do I know? I'm just a video-O-grafer.
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Old October 8th, 2013, 01:41 AM   #10
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Re: Cinematographer ? what's that ?

As always the perfectionist Don!!

So technically if you have the camera in your hands you are not a cinematographer at all unless you have 3 underlings working under you and you are calling the shots. Unlikely at a wedding!

Yeah as long as they throw lots of money in my lap they can call me what they like.

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Old October 8th, 2013, 04:10 AM   #11
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Re: Cinematographer ? what's that ?


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Old October 8th, 2013, 04:20 AM   #12
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Re: Cinematographer ? what's that ?

You could say that videography is recording what happens whereas cinematography is telling stories with film.
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Old October 8th, 2013, 04:21 AM   #13
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Re: Cinematographer ? what's that ?

Cinematographer to a client = do some slowmo, use a glidecam, use a slider, get some shallow dof shots, assure you get clear enough sound and slap on some black bars on your video, euhm cinematic video. I do it all the time but I"m not calling myself a cinematographer, I just let the client decide themselves when they see my demo's. Words are cheap, I don't try to convince my clients that way, they either like or don't like my way of shooting, if one would want a specific shootingstyle I would tell them that what they see is what they get, if that is not "cinematic" enough to them they can go shop somewhere else.
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Old October 8th, 2013, 04:31 AM   #14
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Re: Cinematographer ? what's that ?

Like it or not - my company tag line is this -

"Not simply a recording - Your special day deserves cinema".

I think its pretty clear what I'm trying to convey.

Thats the only time I use the term, mostly for SEO reasons. Clients online are still by and large searching for 'videos' and 'videographers'. So for that reason I call myself a videographer!
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Old October 8th, 2013, 06:26 AM   #15
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Re: Cinematographer ? what's that ?

I hear the term more often these days and I've had a bride ask if I was.. but I assured her that I was not and neither was the prepubescent teenager with the trendy camera who had mentioned it first.

Its being used as a market term but it dilutes real meaning and it really bugs me.I'm a member of the Australian Cinematographers Society but would never use the term to describe what I do. I'm happy to call myself a DOP or lighting cameraman if I'm working on a short film but I'm so far removed from a 'real cinematographer' that I would never dream of using the term.

Don's Wikipedia excerpt is on the money but I hate the term videographer

I personally use Video Producer, it fits for me.
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