Cameras are the most essential components of any cinematic production. Cinematography can be defined as the art of handling cameras and framing scenes. The screenplay, the acting and the VFX would not carry any substance unless the camera movements carry emotions and essence. The audience is exposed to the top-layers of a film, hence, they only observe the elements of a movie that are on the surface. In this age, when most movies follow the practice of spoon-feeding content, the appreciation of true cinematography has dwindled even more.
The camera is equivalent to the brush an artist uses. The camera movements dictate emotions and cause the sub-text of a scene to amplify, pause, sway or leap. As the camera can be thought of as the set of eyes for the audience, one can only imagine the amount of artistic substance invested in the cinematography.
A shot from the popular movie, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a beautiful example of profound cinematography (Source- Nerdwriter1). Well-choreographed camera movements are visible in the scene where Arthur Weasley tells Harry Potter about a man who has a bloodlust for Harry and warns Harry about the danger. The scene starts with Arthur taking Harry away from his friends, away from an environment of love and company. Arthur then starts telling Harry about the killer, and soon walks him into an even more secluded place, to prevent people from hearing; this symbolises severity and solitude in the truth Harry gets to know. The conversation scene then moves into framing only Arthur and Harry. When the gruesome reality is finally revealed to Harry, the scene solely shows Harry’s face in the frame, symbolising how he has been alone without his parents, amplifying the eerie and melancholic aura of the scene.
Cinematography can reveal so many shades in a plain shot. A conversation scene can have very different impacts if it depicts the two people in one frame and if it does so in changing cutscenes. A simple scene depicting a character thinking about something can have different meanings if the camera is still, versus if it is in motion. Cinematography can convey sub-text and meanings beyond ordinary perception. The art of camera-direction does not receive enough thought from people, which is essential for deep contemplation and appreciation. The camera is the device that forms the ground for other arts to perform. There is always emotion, style and substance in cinematography is one just has to pay attention, which costs way less than the movie tickets.
-Udaybhanu Singh, Shiv Nadar School, Noida