The Five C’s of Cinematography, as outlined by Joseph V. Mascelli in his book The Five C’s of Cinematography: Motion Picture Filming Techniques, are fundamental concepts essential to filmmaking. By understanding and implementing these techniques, filmmakers can effectively utilize their visual resources in order to best share their visions with viewers everywhere.
Camera angles are the angles at which cameras are positioned during filming. Various angles are used in order to develop the narrative and push the story forward,“Camera placement is determined by narrative significance.” For example, low-angles are used to make a subject appear bigger and more dominant in a frame. Basically, we see images on the screen as is necessary to follow a story line or realize a particular feature.
Continuity involves holding a viewer’s attention throughout the entire film without any distractions. Attention should be paid to the story line, and so distractions, such as inconsistencies with characters or objects that suddenly appear or disappear from one frame to the next, must be taken care of. Filmmakers take this into consideration during editing as well.
“All scenes should be linked together so that their combined effect, rather than their individual contents, produces the desired audience reactions.” The magic of film is that one can shoot a variety of scenes to tell a story. When a filmmaker strings together a series of images—from buildings to people, to anything that can be captured through a lens—it is the act of cutting, the organization and sequence of those scenes that becomes instrumental in evoking a particular effect on a viewer.
Close-ups are “up close and personal”, detailed shots of a subject. A variety of shots such as medium and extreme close-ups are used in order to zoom in and focus on a particular object in a scene or allow the viewer access to the intimate details of a character’s emotions, such as their tear-stricken eyes. These used wisely, result in beautiful and effective screenshots.
Last but not least, composition plays a big part in creating a mood and thus telling a story. Lighting, colors and spacing, among other visual aspects, are crucial in the composition of an image that will, as a result, leave a lasting impression on the audience.
Reference: Mascelli, Joseph V. (1998) The Five C’s of Cinematography: Motion Picture Filming Techniques. Silman-James Press.