Cinematography Courses and Certificates

Cinematographers visualize stories, choosing how the next blockbuster looks when it hits the screen. Courses in cinematography help you learn how to choose lighting, assist directors in plotting a film's visuals and communicate the writer's vision. Certificate and degree programs are available in the field; keep reading to learn more about them and what you'll study. Schools offering Digital Cinematography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Classes in cinematography cover various aspects of film development, including the use of special effects, digital imaging, camera placement and lighting. You can take cinematography classes through programs that deal with directing, motion pictures or cinema studies.

Degrees Bachelor of Science in Digital Cinematography, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Motion Picture and Television, Master of Fine Arts in Cinema Directing
Certificates Certificate in Cinematography, Certificate in Digital Cinematography
Courses Visualization and exposure, lighting workshop, camera workshop, composition and framing for motion picture camera, language of filmmaking

Can I Earn a Certificate in Cinematography?

Cinematography certificate programs are available from a wide variety of colleges and universities. These programs are available as undergraduate or graduate-level programs and usually last about one year, and they often concentrate specifically on the skills of cinematographers. Classes in a certificate program may include cinematography techniques, history and art of cinematography, and even shooting on a green screen. These classes are very technical in nature and may provide you with hands-on experience shooting in high definition and with digital or 16MM film. A Motion Pictures and Television Certificate may be available with coursework in these areas of study:

  • Story structure and character development
  • Film shorts
  • Pre/post-production techniques
  • Screenwriting
  • Directing
  • Producing

What Will I Study?

Cinematography classes often include lighting, message development and visual presentation of the director's vision. Other common classes include film history, documentaries, experimental films and film analysis. Some programs emphasize film criticism and programming for film festivals and museum film programs.

Lighting classes may discuss how to use lighting to achieve moods or emotional impacts. They may also teach you how to place lights for the best effect and the most aesthetically pleasing image. Cinematography classes show you how to place the camera, use lenses and filters properly and select the best film.

What About Degree Programs?

If you are looking for a degree program, you may also enroll in an associate's or bachelor's degree program in cinematography, though some schools label the program as film studies or cinema studies. Options include an Associate of Arts and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Motion Pictures and Television degree program. Select schools also offer a Master of Fine Arts in Film with an optional concentration in cinematography.

What Online Options Are Available?

Though fully online programs in cinematography are not commonly available, some schools offer online classes in cinematography. Other schools may offer individual online classes in cinematography through their distance education or continuing education departments. A digital cinematography course may cover various topics like visual storytelling, camera placement and color theory. A Bachelor of Science in Digital Filmmaking or Digital Cinematography may be available for students who are interested in enrolling in a fully online program.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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