Overhead practical lighting in Stanley Kubrick’s 1956 film noir classic, The Killing

Link to downloadable course syllabus >> NFLM3515-SP18_CDougherty_SYLLABUS

Spring 2017

Course Title: Cinematography and Lighting, NFLM 3515-B
Class Meeting Schedule: Thursday, 7 – 9:45 pm
Room:  6 E. 16th Street, Room D-609/610
Instructor: Cecilia Dougherty
Contact Information:

Online Course Component: 1), log on and click on the “CANVAS” icon; and 2) this WordPress site,

Course Description
Students learn practical and theoretical elements of HD cinematography with an emphasis on lighting and camera technique. Technical topics include camera operation, composition, HD video basics, and camera settings including ISO, aperture, shutter speed, focus, and focal length. Lighting basics include working with both indoor and outdoor lighting, using professional light kits, and lighting accessories (flags, gels, cookies, filters), as well as important information of lighting safety. Practical tests and scenes are shot during class time with an eye towards solving practical problems and learning both cinematography and lighting well enough to design and shoot your own films. Students will have the opportunity to create one short film project and one longer final project during the semester.

Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of the course, a student should possess the following abilities and knowledge:
1. Understanding of the role of the cinematographer and the effectiveness of attention to cinematography and lighting design in the creation of a film/video
2. Proficiency in operation of HD cameras; fundamentals of shutter speed, ISO/gain, depth of field, white balancing, color temperature, lens selection
3. Proficiency in use of camera supports – tripods, slider, dollies
4. Fundamentals of lighting theory and basics of lighting design for video production
5. Competence with proper selection and use of light kits, flags, gels, bounce cards and diffusion filters
6. Understanding of crew responsibilities, proper slating, lighting safety, electrical safety
7. Ability to design production situations in terms of framing, lighting, and visual storytelling skills
8. Gains necessary skills and confidence to DP one’s own or a classmate’s film

Skill Level
Students generally come into this class at various skill levels from beginner to having previous classes or experience in video and film production. If you have no experience, this is a good place to get started. If you already have experience, it’s a good place to refine your skills. Students should know something about digital editing since these skills will not be covered in class.

Our class website is at Students will find equipment info, camera and lighting manuals, readings, videos, and useful links posted as the semester progresses.

I send all course-related emails to your New School address. My email address is at the top of each page. Students are to use email to notify me of absence and to ask questions about
anything course-related.

Required Texts
1. Lighting for Cinematography by David Landau, reprint, Bloomsbury Academic,2014
ISBN: 978-1628926927, available in Kindle version
2. Filmmaker’s Handbook, A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age by Steven Ascher & Edward Pincus, 2013 edition, Plume, ISBN-13: 978-0452297289, PDF (slightly different edition) provided

Useful Text (not required)
Cinematography Theory and Practice by Blain Brown, third edition, Focal Press, 2016
ISBN: 978-1138940925, available in Kindle version

Materials and Supplies
Students are expected to purchase at least one SD card for recording their video work, such as a SanDisk Ultra 32GB card (not expensive) or any SDHC (high capacity) card; Lexar Pro SDXC (extended capacity), 64GB is pricey. Recommended to have an external drive for storing media files and projects. External drive should be 500GB-1T and should have a default spin rate of 7200rpm. If you’re not sure what this means, ask the sales person or check the drive specs online before you buy anything. 7200rpm is a speed suitable for transferring media files.

Individual Project – Framing, Feb 8
Group Project 1 – Non-fiction sequence/framing & shot types, Feb 15
Midterm – written exam, Mar 8
Individual Project – Lighting, Apr 12
Group Project 2 – Narrative sequence/camera movement, actors, lighting, May 3

Production Team & Crews
In-class projects will be done as production-team assignments. I will create the teams based on the attendance roster. Each production team must have a minimum of 5 crewmembers. Don’t always take the same position, but rotate positions so that you have experience in more than one or two production crew jobs.
1. Director
2. Cinematographer
3. Gaffer
4. Key grip/dolly grip
5. Talent

• At the end of production assignments, each group splices all your footage into a rough assembly (called ‘assemblies,’ or ‘dailies’). Save these to a hard drive or flash drive.
• Although we will cover equipment in class it is your responsibility to take time outside of class to learn how to operate the cameras and to feel comfortable with the lighting equipment. It takes more than one or two classes to get to know the equipment.

Attendance is required. Repeated lateness counts as absence. More than two absences not due to illness results in grade reduction. Being absent more than four times results in automatic failure for the course. If repeated absence is due to repeated illness, you may consider withdrawing from the course for health reasons and taking it in another semester.

Most of our exercises in class will be hands-on. Students are required to participate in production and lighting workshops during class time. First priority for the course is to give each student enough experience with the camera and lighting equipment so you can have a practical basis for practicing techniques in your own work and in any further film classes you may take.

Participation in instruction workshops and in-class projects 10%
Individual framing assignment 10%
Individual lighting assignment 10%
Midterm exam 20%
Group Project 1 – Non-fiction sequence: framing & shot types 20%
Group Project 2 – Narrative sequence: camera movement, actors, lighting 30%

Grading the two production projects takes into account ability to work in crews, originality, ambition of concept, willingness to take chances, and production outcome.

Attendance affects your grade – more than 2 unexcused absences results in grade reduction

Certificate Students
If you are a non-credit student planning to pursue the Certificate, make sure you are registered as a Certificate student (before the second week of class). Students must be registered as a Certificate Student in order to count this class towards their requirements and students must complete all assignments and do minimally the equivalent of “B” work for the class to earn an AP (approved) grade. If you have questions, please contact or

Late Work and Makeup Policy
If illness prevents a student from completing an assignment on time, the student should notify the professor as soon as possible that the assignment will be late. Otherwise late assignments will be marked down one-half to one full grade point.

A grade of “incomplete” may be assigned by the professor at her discretion. If a student is offered an incomplete, the student has a maximum of 4 weeks after the last day of class to complete and submit to the professor the outstanding work or the work agreed upon by the professor and student. An incomplete becomes an “Unofficial Withdrawal and Failure” (WF) if the work is not submitted by due date.

Class Sessions
Weeks 1 – 3, Cameras, lenses, camera supports
Jan 25
Introduction to the cameras, setting up the cameras, basic camera functions
Panasonic AF 100
Panasonic HMC 150
Reading for Feb 1: Filmmaker’s Handbook (from this point referred to as FH), Ch 1, Digital Film Basics, pp. 5 -28; and FH, Ch 9, Composition and Shot Selection pp. 323-332

Feb 1
Camera Supports: tripod, baby legs tripod (hi hat), shoulder mount
Fundamentals of camera movement
Fundamentals of framing, shot types
Reading for Feb 8: FH, Ch 4, The Lens, pp. 133-139; 141-162
Assignment due Feb 8: Individual assignment for next week is to take a series of photos and videos (use cell-phone cameras or digital cameras) illustrating framing and shot types. Download your photos and videos from your camera and bring them to class next week as jpegs and mov/mp4 files to review. Every tech assignment is also a chance to make aesthetic and content choices – start now to develop your style and interests.

Feb 8
Camera settings: frame rate, shutter speed, ISO/gain, white balance
Lenses – interchangeable for the AF100, and zoom for the HMC150
The lens: aperture, f/stop, focal length, depth of field, using ND (neutral density) filters
Focusing the lens; using the follow focus
Using available light
Individual framing assignments due. Upload them to the classroom desktop and we will screen them and discuss.

Week 4 Feb 15 Workshop/Group project
Group project using available light: form into crews of at least 5 people. Each crew will create a sequence of clips based on the shot list provided. Key areas are framing, shot types, and camera movement. Pay attention to aperture, focal length, depth of field, white balance, follow focus.
We will screen the clips and compare group projects.
Reading for Feb 22: FH, Ch 12, Lighting;
and Lighting for Cinematography (from this point referred to as LC), Ch2, Who and What Makes Light

Weeks 5 – 7 Lighting Essentials
Feb 22
Studio lighting: Introduction to studio lighting, basic 3-point and 4-point lighting
Tungsten (ARRI & Mole Richardson Light Kits), Kino-flo (color-balanced florescent), and LED lighting
Color temperature
Light stands, barn doors, sandbags
Lighting safety, electricity basics, amps and watts

Mar 1
Gels, filters, flags and gobos
Lighting grip: C-stands, sandbags, apple box, clamps, gloves, stingers

Mar 8
Review of lighting essentials and lighting safety
In-class project: class sets up and lights scenarios based on guidelines provided; screened at the end of today’s class. Remember to rotate crew positions.

Week 8 Mar 15
Midterm written exam covers camera basics, camera movement & shot types, aperture & f-stop settings, focal length, shutter speed, color temperature, lighting basics, 3-point and 4-point lighting, and anything else we have covered in class up to this point


Week 9 Mar 29
Return of graded midterms.
Using dollies: western/doorway dolly; spider/triad dolly and track; slider
Dolly workshop: form into two groups and shoot 2 assigned sequences using the western dolly and spider dolly. Rotate the following crew positions: director, cinematographer, gaffer, key grip, dolly grip, talent. Shot lists provided. Screen clips in class next week.
Reading for Apr 5: FH, Ch 9, Style and Direction pp 332-353.

Week 10 Apr 5
Screen dailies from dolly workshop.
Continuity and shooting for editing. Narrative and documentary styles.

Week 11 April 12
Actors moving through a scene.
Reading for Apr 19: LC, Ch 7, Dealing with Daylight 1: Shooting Exteriors

Week 12 April 19
Outdoor and available lighting. Camera settings, ND filters, reflectors.
Workshop using natural light: Form into crews of at least 5 people to shoot outdoors using available light.
Shot list provided. Create dailies. Screen and discuss.

Week 13 April 26
Class forms 2 crews. Each crew will create a short narrative sequence that will be shot in class next week with emphasis on lighting actors as well as camera position and movement.
Crews meet to discuss crew positions, location, story, and stylistic decisions (framing, lighting, camera movement, tone)
Crews provide TA with list of equipment needs for next week’s shoot

Week 14 May 3
Group Project 2 – each group formed last week will create a short narrative sequence that will be shot in class today and screened at the end of class. Please keep equipment kits separate – make sure your crew knows which equipment and cases are yours and make sure you return equipment to their proper cases. We will screen these assignments in class next week.

Week 15 May 10
Screen Group Project 2 in class.
Filmmaking on a budget; DIY lighting techniques
Where to go from here – jobs, internships, and grants for filmmakers


Policy & Protocol
Cell Phones and devices: Cell phone use during class is prohibited. Laptop use is permitted for note-taking and research at appropriate times.
Academic Honesty and Integrity: Compromising your academic integrity may lead to serious consequences, including but not limited to one or more of the following: failure of the assignment, failure of the course, academic warning, disciplinary probation, suspension from the university, or dismissal from the university.

The full text of the policy including adjudication procedures is found at

Resources regarding what plagiarism is and how to avoid it can be found on the Learning
Center’s website:

Instructor Delay: In rare instances the Professor may be delayed arriving to class. If she has not arrived by the time class is scheduled to start, you must wait a minimum of thirty minutes before leaving. In the event that the instructor will miss class entirely, a sign will be posted on the classroom door if the Professor is unable to notify students before-hand.

Student Resources
The University provides many resources to help students achieve academic and artistic
excellence. These resources include:
• The University (and associated) Libraries:
• The University Learning Center: The University Learning Center provides individual
tutoring sessions in writing, ESL, math and economics. Sessions are interactive, with tutor
and student participating equally. Appointments can be scheduled on Starfish or stop by
for a walk-in session, available every hour from 10:00am to 7:00pm. The ULC is located
on the 6th floor of 66 West 12th Street. For more information, please visit their
• University Disabilities Service:

In keeping with the university’s policy of providing equal access for students with disabilities, any student with a disability who needs academic accommodations is welcome to meet with me privately. All conversations will be kept confidential. Students requesting any accommodations will also need to contact Student Disability Service (SDS). SDS will
conduct an intake and, if appropriate, the Director will provide an academic accommodation notification letter for you to bring to me. At that point, I will review the
letter with you and discuss these accommodations in relation to this course.