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Digital Cinematography I - TFT00093M

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  • Department: Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media
  • Module co-ordinator: Mr. Matt Brannan
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

Cinematography has always been at the forefront of technological change in the film and television industries, but particularly over the last decade. This module is designed to prepare you to work with knowledge and flexibility in an industry where that change will continue. In particular, you will have an aesthetic and technical grounding in visual storytelling, developed with the skilled use of the school’s ARRI, RED and Sony cameras packages and lenses. The module emphasises the central importance of composition and lighting in cinematography, and you will be expected to put the cameras, lighting and grips available to them to full creative use in different settings.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2023-24

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 with working in camera and lighting departments..

Module learning outcomes

Upon completion of this modules, you 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 and actors for camera.
  • Demonstrate an ability to make appropriate creative lens choices, whether using prime, zoom or certain specialised lenses.
  • Demonstrate a basic ability, skill and knowledge related to operating a range of camera packages, including accessories and settings (e.g. matte boxes, filtration, non-standard shutter speeds and angles, etc.).
  • Demonstrate a basic understanding and technical ability through working with a range of professional lighting, grip and electrical equipment.
  • Demonstrate an ability to light interior dramatic scenes in different fictional genres, with awareness of how skills developed can be applied to non-fiction forms of film and TV production.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of how to breakdown scripts from a cinematographic perspective for film and TV production.
  • Demonstrate an ability to interpret visual instructions and visions of the director, and also how to communicate with other members of any film/TV cast or crew with the emergence of knowledge and use of common industry terminologies.


Task Length % of module mark
Coursework : Cinematography Portfolio
N/A 50
University - project
Other assessment : Cinematography Project
N/A 50

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Formative assessment may be conducted earlier in the module to provide experience and opportunity for developmental, verbal feedback.

Summative assessment will consist of students shooting a short scene, working as cinematographers in groups made up from other MA programme core modules. The first summative will assess their technical and creative practical skills through the submission of a filmed/edited scene and the second summative will assess their ability to communicate their creative and technical intentions on the project through written and verbal means (e.g. possible presentation with slides).


Task Length % of module mark
Essay : Cinematography project
N/A 50
Essay : Report
N/A 50

Module feedback

You will receive written feedback in line with standard University turnaround times.

Indicative reading

Essential reading:

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

Elkins, D. (2009) The Camera Assistants 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

Goi, M (c2013) American cinematographer manual, Berkeley: University of California Press

Holben, J (2016) Behind the lens: dispatches from the cinematic trenches, New York: Focal 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 in this module:

Fruitvale Station (Rachel Morrison)

Fargo (Roger Deakins)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Ellen Kuras)

Saving Private Ryan (Janusz Kaminski)

The Neon Demon (Natasha Braier)

Delicatessen (Darius Khondji)

Children of Men (Emmanuel Lubezki)

The Wrestler (Maryse Alberti)

The Girl on the Train (Charlotte Bruus Christensen)

Mon Ange (Juliette Van Dormael)

Frozen River (Reed Morano)

Paris, Texas (Robbie Muller)

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.