Lee Caller

Book Recommendation: Cinematography - Theory and Practice

August 8, 2021

It doesn't matter whether it's your first ever "bouncing ball" animation or your BAFTA/Oscar/"other awards are available" winning piece, the story you're telling is a combination of every element including (amongst others) animation, lighting, rendering and camera work. If you fail to exploit every aspect then you're selling yourself short.

Today's book recommendation tries to fix the last of those elements, the camera. If you're even vaguely interested in creating your own animated stories, and it's you who has control over the camera, then grab yourself a copy of "Cinematography - Theory and Practice" by Blain Brown.

It's well paced - builds nicely in terms of what you want to know about camera placement, "rules" - as in what to avoid unless it's intentional, shot types and hints and tips.

Highlight are:

  • Visual language/storytelling
  • Lens choices
  • Colour
  • ...and the huge section on Coverage and Continuity which is worth the price alone - every bit in here will be relevant to your CG animation (includes cutting, framing, movement - all those things you totally ignore but can mean you sell your animation in the best possible way).

What I would add is that you'll potentially find from the half-way point its relevance to the CG world drops off quickly - unless you fancy an informative and interesting insight the tools of a camera assistant you might be tempted to give up there. I'd suggest keep going, scan read where you hit those points - there are still nuggets that you can adapt and apply to your CG world and either way it's all building those lovely synapses/it's good to learn new stuff.

Cinematography Theory and Practice by Blain Brown
Cinematography Theory and Practice by Blain Brown (Focal Press)