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news • 5 October 2023

What's the Point of Cinematography?

Clement Gharini profile picture

Written by Clement Gharini

Head of VFX

Big news! We’re releasing a series of tutorials about cinematography for animation, games and VFX. The series is created and presented by Clement Gharini, our Head of VFX, whose background as a Camera Operator and Compositor for more than 20 years makes him an ideal fit for this topic. This first episode addresses two simple questions: What is cinematography? And why do we need it?  

Historically, a Cinematographer is the person on a film set in charge of creating the image of the movie, from a technical and aesthetic point of view. Practically speaking, cinematography is the art and science of lighting as well as the control of the camera, from the lense to the sensor. Cinematography is effectively the discipline that captures scenes in the real world and turns them into a motion picture. But why do Game Artists, VFX Artists and Animators need cinematography so much?  

The answer is very simple. Whether we deal with live action sequences, or animated characters, or interactive worlds, we are all creating images. That's the common ground. Game Artists, VFX Artists and Animators are effectively image makers. In other words, we are all Cinematographers. The process of capturing a scene - be it real or virtual - is effectively the same in the real world and in 3D. It involves the same three components - a scene, a camera, and ultimately the creation of an image. 

If you think about it... someone may have the best 3D modelling skills, but without light, those impressive skills will never be seen. So, cinematography, or indeed being able to control how to capture those virtual scenes, is crucial to everything we do. Cinematography is consequently as important as your primary digital expertise (Games, VFX, Animation).  

This series of tutorials is specifically designed to help VFX Artists, Game Artists and Animators to get more familiar with the parameters of cameras and lights, and to eventually acquire the necessary cinematographic expertise required in the industry.  

The cinematography module for first year students has now started at our new campus, where they will be able to make the most of practical cameras, lights and lenses for all the first term. 

Interested in taking a deeper dive into the point of cinematography? Check out this insightful video from Clement, below.