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Digital Cinematography I - TFT00041M

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  • Department: Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media
  • Module co-ordinator: Mr. Matt Brannan
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22
    • See module specification for other years: 2022-23

Module summary

This module explores the cinematographic process in detail from both technical and aesthetic perspectives for single-camera production.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2021-22

Module aims

This module aims to:

  • Provide an understanding of the principles and practice of cinematography, and of how digital cinematography build on and differs from imaging on 35mm and 16mm motion picture film
  • Provide an understanding of how cinematography functions as a tool in cinematic storytelling
  • Provide an understanding of workflow and other data-management implications of certain camera and camera-menu choices
  • Provide an essential grounding in the technical, practical and aesthetic principles of lighting for digital cinematography
  • Provide a framework for understanding the disciplines and craft of photographing dramatic dialogue and action (in fiction films and television) and documentary sequences and interviews (in non-fiction films and television)
  • Provide an understanding of the practices and industrial conventions associated working within a camera department, including set operations.

Module learning outcomes

Upon completion of this modules, students are expected to be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of how digital cinematography has evolved, preserving or reproducing some key aspects of celluloid origination; and how new aesthetics and techniques are emerging as digital technologies advance.
  • Demonstrate an ability to apply the principles of composition, camera movement, and the staging and blocking of action, actors, and documentary contributors.
  • Demonstrate an ability to make creative and appropriate lens choices, whether using prime, zoom or certain specialised lenses
  • Demonstrate an ability to apply camera menu settings and other controls (including matte boxes, filtration, non-standard shutter speeds and angles) to achieve certain 'looks' and in-camera visual effects
  • Demonstrate an ability to light interior dramatic scenes in different fictional genres, and to light documentary sequences in observational and more formal film- and programme-making styles
  • Demonstrate an ability to translate screenplays, storyboards and shot lists into completed sequences
  • Demonstrate an ability to interpret the instructions and vision of the director, and to communicate with other members of the camera department and to lighting, grips, and other crew, both verbally through the use of common industry terms and through the development of documents such as lighting plans, Look-up Tables (LUTs), and other visual references.


Task Length % of module mark
Group Project
N/A 30
Individual Project
N/A 70

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Group Project
N/A 30
Individual Project
N/A 70

Module feedback

Students will receive written feedback on all assessments and reassessments

Indicative reading

Essential reading:

Stump, D (2014) Digital Cinematography, Burlington: Focal Press

Elkins, D. (2009) The Camera Assistant s Manual, Amsterdam and London: Focal Press

American Cinematographer [Monthly magazine - available online from the University Library]

Suggested reading:

Alton, J (1995) Painting With Light, Berkeley, University of California Press

ASC Manual, 10th Edition (2 volumes), (2013) Los Angeles: ASC Press

Bailey, J (2008-) John's Bailiwick [Blog] Los Angeles: ASC

Brown, B (2012) Cinematography: Theory and Practice, Oxford: Focal Press

Brown, B (2008) Motion Picture and Video Lighting, Oxford: Focal Press

Ettedgui, P (1998) Cinematography Screencraft, Hove: RotoVision

Fauer, J (2005) Cinematographer Style, Vols I & II, Los Angeles: ASC Press

Malkiewicz, K, (1992) Film Lighting: Talks with Hollywood's Cinematographers and Gaffers, New York, Simon & Schuster

Mascelli, J (1965) The Five C's of Cinematography, Los Angeles: Silman-James Press

McCarthy, T (1993) Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography, [DVD] Los Angeles: ASC

Wheeler, P (2007) High Definition Cinematography, Oxford: Focal Press

The following films are indicative of those that will be screened as part of the module:

Fargo (Roger Deakins)

Saving Private Ryan (Janusz Kaminski)

Delicatessen (Darius Khondji)

The English Patient (John Seale)

Taxi Driver (Michael Chapman)

Manhattan (Gordon Willis)

Paris, Texas (Robby Muller)

Easy Rider (Laszlo Kovacs)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Haskell Wexler)

Reds (Vittorio Storaro)


The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.