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The Five C's of Cinematography: Motion Picture Filming Techniques

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  754 ratings  ·  40 reviews
With the aid of photographs and diagrams, this text concisely presents concepts and techniques of motion picture camerawork and the allied areas of film-making with which they interact with and impact. Included are discussions on: cinematic time and space; compositional rules; and types of editing.
Paperback, 251 pages
Published August 3rd 2005 by Silman-James Press (first published 1983)
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4.14  · 
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 ·  754 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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Scott Rosenkrantz
Dec 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
It's rather dense (~244 pages), but it's still one of the best books on cinematography I've read so far. It equips the cinematographer with a better understanding of why certain visual/technical choices work over others. The final chapter on Composition is simply amazing, and the conclusion feels like Mascelli's attempt to impart every single piece of wisdom to his students before we're released into the unexplored yonder.

I tried reading this book before I entered film school, and for whatever
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There is not a single wasted word, example or illustration in this book. It is jam-packed with practical insight, technique, and tastefulness. Even if you don't intend to work in this medium, this book will enrich the way you watch film, etc.
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Should've had a dedicated chapter on lightening.
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art-instruction
Surprisingly useful from a painter's point of view. I've never seen such a good description of which factors affect balance in composition. I'm also a fan of how the author classified images by angle (high, low, eye-level) and by zoom (long shots, medium shots, close-ups). It's very useful when I catch myself drawing the same angle at the same distance over and over again.

Four stars as a painter. Possibly worth five to a filmmaker, but I wouldn't know.
Sai Vignesh Krishnamoorthy
Jun 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
You need to know the rule in order to break the rule.

Well, you can learn to do both with this book. This probably is the best I can suggest for any aspiring cinematographer/photographer. For a photographer, this book adds a whole new dimension to his compositions and for a cinematographer, this book is a bible. Buy this book, spend some time over it and enter into a world of totally different perspective when you see your camera again.
Nathan Pilgrim
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I came to this book as a recommendation of Scott McDaniel as a MUST READ for drawing comicbooks or any other kind of visual storytelling, and hell, he was right.

It is dense, it took me several attempts to end it, but FINALLY did, and I'm really happy for it. Everything the guy says is on point, and even when sometimes gets really complicated, he puts great written and visual effects to make you get the point. 10/10 would read again.
Sharad Kaplingad
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Everything you need to know of cinematography is there in this book. A Bible for cinematographers.
Gaurav Prabhu
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Terrific,in a word. Simple & exhaustive.
Must read for photographers & cinematographers.
Dec 04, 2008 is currently reading it
At first I was thrown off by the overlapping ideas of the 5 c's (it should be 4 c's, I think at this point) but its turning out to be very informative.
Yasser Mohammed
Oct 28, 2012 rated it liked it
A good starting book for Cinematography
Jordan Harland
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read in film school many years ago. Still a book that informs my career and decision making in my industry 15 years later. With every minute I spent diving into its pages, despite being a dense read whilst I was still new to the topic. Now it's just a reference book to go back to, to freshen myself up. The fact it still has a lot of value so far down the line speaks volumes.
John Pozer
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A seminal text and required reading for film students. In my many years of teaching, I've asked hundreds of learning filmmakers if they can tell me what the 5 C's stand for (without looking at their phones) - and I can count on one hand the number of students who were able to remember. The funny thing is that when I point out the 6th 'C' (mentioned in the Introduction) - they never forget it!
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If your looking to learn and study film this is a must on your reading list.
Joey Madia
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Helpful, with plenty of stills as examples but very dated.
Karthik S V
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cinema
A great introductory book. Acquaints one with the basics.
Jan 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Great read on the basics of cinematography!
Oct 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, film
This book is rich with insights. For any filmmakers, I strongly recommend this book!

The two sections that I learnt most from was continuity and composition. I've come to understand why actors have to enter and leave the frame on certain side, and how relationships can be established on screen. I've learnt to appreciate how important it is to create depth within the two-dimensional frame, so as to create a three-dimensional illusion on the screen. This later point is the greatest learning point f
Mark Heiliger
Sep 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Sometimes painful to drag your eyes through, but only because it covers such fundamental material for anyone remotely educated in filmmaking. I can only imagine what an experience it would be to a 14 year old who has never before considered the "rules" of good camera work. 60% of the book is actually more useful in an editing context, which was surprising. Good for those days you need a reminder of the basics of cinematic storytelling.
B.C. Crow
Apr 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The book may be dated, but the advice is timeless. Definitely worth owning and reading/re-reading for anyone aspiring to be in the film industry. Much of it's advice is even worthy of non cinema enthusiasts. So many principles for motion photography seem like they could apply to still photography also.
Tripp / Smash
Jul 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
If you're at all interested in the complexities of visual style as it pertains to film, this book is terrific.

Not only does it break down the entire process of cinematic structure, it gives a clear visual representation of each category. That knowledge is priceless when you pick up a motion picture camera for the first time.
Susan Phelan
Mar 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Nice, basic overview. It is old and I am not a cinematographer, so I am guessing there are new techniques and rules, but I'm thinking most of the basics are still the basics and that is all I wanted.
Feb 19, 2008 rated it liked it
This is a valuable book for all DP's, Directors and editors.
Jennifer Meyer
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended for illustrators
Ed David
Mar 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rereadallthetime
This is the definate book on Cinematography - these are the rules. Learn them then you can break them.
Daniel Crouch
Jul 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is the most practical and thorough discussion of cinematography, and it is a must-read for all interested in movies and film.
Liston Morris
Mar 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
An incredible book about everthing you need to know about cinematography. This is an ultimate guide to using a camera.
Nischal Bajrachrya
Jun 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It's great book which can make you better
Harry Pray IV
Jan 08, 2008 marked it as to-read
a book entitled, "The Five C's of Cinematography: Motion Picture Filming Techniques" has got to suck...doesn't it?
i like cinematogrphy
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