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Film: Production Design and Cinematography

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Jordan Menzies

on 9 April 2014

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Transcript of Film: Production Design and Cinematography

Film: Production Design and Cinematography
Alexa Porcelli
Chris De Cornielle
April 9, 2014

Film Production

Color performs many different functions in production design.
Color is not specifically used to achieving something that only seems true within the images; color can communicate multiple aspects of the film

What does color tell the audience ?

In visual storytelling, color is one of the movie makers’ greatest assets.
As in all areas of film making, the color design
must be given a lot of thought and must be thoroughly planned out

Its not just about presenting eye-catching colors, you are telling a story and explaining the characters
A set, location, or environment is interpreted by its use of color
Many colors come with a basic and essential symbolic meaning and work subliminally

Color is a powerful design tool that often works subliminally.
Many colors come with a basic and essential symbolic meaning.

In the film, “Avatar” the director used the two main colors blue and green
The reason they made the aliens blue was to show the differences without becoming a barrier

Movies Involving Color:

By Stefan Lupul


Pertains to the use of light and colour in film
Film/Stock Filters
Functions of Colour

Essentials of Cinematography

During pre-production, the cinematographer and production designer consult with the director
to define the film’s design = pre-visualization
The basic features of how the film will look

Identified by their manufacture and stock number (Ex. Kodak 5298)
Control image characteristics like light, colour reproduction, tolerance for diverse lighting conditions, amount of grain, contrast levels, sharpness and resolving power

Film Stock

Aspect ratio
The dimensions of the screen image
Began as 1:3
Used in the 30-40’s
Today films are viewed in 1.85:1 or 2.35:1
Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1)


Aspect Ratios

Contributes considerably to the emotional response an audience
has watching a motion picture

Hard Light- creates high contrst and fast f

Soft Light- diffused or scattered produced by using a filter in front of the light source or by bouncing light off of a reflective surfac

Light Design

Used to depict a viewpoint or perspective
Camera movement involves fixed shots, crane shots, dolly work, handhelds, tilts and pans

Camera Movement

Realistic Lighting – distributes light to simulate an explicit source on screen

Burnout – an effect in realistic design, refers to an overexposed portion of an
image which details are lost

Pictorial lighting – stresses purely pictorial or visual values that may be unrelated to
strict concerns about source simulation. Oftenvisually symbolize the thematic content of a

Colour design performs three basic functions in film Establishes symbolic meaning Narrative Organization Psychological Mood and Tone

Functions of Colour Cinematography

The Aviator exemplifies how a film uses cinematography to establish symbolic
meaning, narrative organization, and
psychological mood and tone

The Aviator

For the first half of the film, scenes appear in shades of only red and cyan blue; green objects are rendered in blue
This was done to emulate the look of
early bi-pack color films, which is the process of using two colours of the spectrum
Was the only colour process available during that era. (1927-1934)

The Aviator Part 1

The Aviator Part 2

Inception uses camera movement and angles to provide depth into the shot and help the audience to become more intrigued with what is actually happening on screen
Camera angles are used as a powerful tool to distort perspective


The second half of the story
brings back the greens and
bright blues to emphasize a
later time period
The post 1934 colour treatment
became the 3 Strip Technicolor
method (RGB)

Camera position refers to the distance between the camera and the subject
Long shots are typically used to stress environment and to show a character’s position in relationship to a given environment


Shane Hartwell
Production Design
MFD 204 MB

Production Design

What are the components?

What are the roles in each component?

What are the roles of the components involved
and what is their purpose?

Production Designer works directly with producer and director and creates the
setting that they want to portrait in the story

From Pre Production, the Production designer collaborates with the director to
establish a visual feel to the movie

What people and crew members
work on each component?

The Production Designer would then go to the lead staff members to create the films image
Some of the key departments that the Production Designer works with are:
Costume Designer
Hair & Make-up Stylist
Special Effects Director
Art Director
Set Designer
Concept Artist
Graphic Designer

Costume Designer

A costume designers job is to design costumes for film and stage productions
The designer has to ensure that the costume is balanced with the scene when dealing with color and texture

Make-up Artist

A Make-up artist is an artist who uses makeup and prosthetics whose canvas is the human body
There are various different types of techniques used such as theatrical make-up, fashion make-up, special effects make-up as well airbrushing

Special Effects Supervisor

Head of a special effects team which is responsible for making in camera effects as well as practical effects. This may include making props or creating illusions using pyrotechnics as well as atmospheric conditions

Set Designer

Set Designers works with the Director and other designers to establish a visual concept for the production/design of the environment
The Set Designer’s responsibility is to create an environment for the production

Art Director

Various artist are used to develop art pieces for different scenes, but the art director’s role is to supervise and put all the pieces

Avatar is 40% acting and 60% CGI.
This means that Rick Carter has to talk with the Graphic Designers to make the online world exactly what the Director wanted.

Alexa Porcelli
Shane Hartwell
Stefan Lupul

Jordan Menzies



Prince, Stephen. “Cinematography.” Movies and Meaning. 6th Ed. Pearson, 2013.
Ch. 2 page 47-73
Wheeler, Paul. Practical cinematography. 2nd Ed. Oxford: Elsevier/Focal Press, 2005.


Back light – illuminates the rear portion of the set and/or performer to establish a degree of separation between the actor and the rear of the set
Low-key – features a relatively bright key light in comparison with small use of fill light
High-key – opposite of low-key (bright tone)

Key Lighting – is the traditional three-point lighting used in Hollywood films
Fill light – fills in undesirable areas of shadow that are created by the
positioning of the key light and the back light

Types of Light

Hair Stylist

Hair Stylist work on a performers hair to suit the production requirements, may also work with wigs, weaves, hair extensions etc..
The Walking Dead

Walking Dead’s Production Designer Grace Walker has to work with the Set Designer to incorporate a lost world theme throughout the entire film.

Grace Walkers is also responsible for how all the characters look, alive or dead. They must move,
talk, look and sound like how the director wants.

The Aviator

The setting for the film The Aviator is based on life from 1914-1946
One of the things Production Designer Dante Ferretti had to incorporate was what costumes best fit best in each scene.

Special Effects are used in the Aviator to create realistic looking scenes of actor Leonardo
DiCaprio flying different planes.

Rick Carter also has to talk to the Set Designer to help make the current world what the director wants.

This is very different from the job of a production designer for a movie like Avatar.
Rick Carter, A famous production designer had a very different job that Grace Walker & Dante Ferretti

Rick Carter also has to work with the costume designer for real world as well as the CGI characters.

Image Sources


Information sources

Movies and Meaning Second Edition An Introduction to Film, Stephen Prince
The Filmmakers guide to Production Design, Vincent Lobrutto

Psychological Effects of Color

Different Genre's

The two colors that characterize the first section of Hughes’ story are
turquoise and orange-brown.
The significance of these colors are because the director wanted to stand
out in the film so he changed the filter in the film.


The design of a film can create a sense of
The atmospheric qualities of the sets,
locations, and environments are important

How does it Affect the Audience Psychologically ?

Over one hundred years of cinema history; it has been demonstrated that film narratives
can be organized into categories.

What each component does differently for
different genres of film?

Film Genres

Critics and philosophers call these categories
Each genre has its own unique way of doing
things that the production designer can
support or threaten.

Film Genres




Work Cited: Picture Sources


Book Sources:
The Filmmaker’s Guide to Production Design, LoBrutto Vincent
Second Edition: Movies and Meaning An Introduction To Film, Prince Stephen
Film/Genre, Altman Nick

Works Cited: Book Sources


Image Sources
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