Style and the Camera (Discussion)

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Depth of field

  • Explain what depth of field is -- using the textbook illustrations.
  • What is the difference between deep focus and deep space (as in mise-en-scene) -- using the textbook illustrations?

Focal length

  • Explain what focal length is -- using the textbook illustrations.
  • How does a zoom in/out look different from a track in/out?
  • How does the Vertigo effect illustrate the impact of focal length on the illusion of depth in an image? View clip (starting at 35 seconds)

Aspect ratio

  • Explain what aspect ratio is -- using the textbook illustrations.
  • Also explain letterbox, pillarbox and pan-and-scan.

Framing, height, and movement

  • Explain the significance of camera framing, height, and movement -- using the textbook illustrations.
  • When might movement be used that does not follow a character?
  • How is a Steadicam shot different from a handheld shot?

DP exercise

If you were a DP reshooting the Stranger Things and New Girl shots (below), how might you change these cinematographic aspects?

  1. Describe a cinematographic element's use in these two screenshots. I.e., start by describing the frame's depth of field (Group 3), focal length (Group 5), aspect ratio (Groups 6 & 1), and framing/height (Groups 2 & 4).
  2. Imagine changing that element's use in this frame.
    • Groups 6 & 1: these screenshots use different aspect ratios: 2x1 and 16x9 (1.78x1). Which is which? What if the DP choose to shoot these shows in 2.35x1 (anamorphic) or 1.33x1? How would that change the impact of the shot?
    • Group 5: how might a zoom lens (a variable focal-length lens) be used in this shot?
  3. How would such a change affect the scene's impact or the viewer's understanding of it?


  1. Butler, Jeremy G. Television: Visual Storytelling and Screen Culture. New York: Routledge, 2018.

External links