Let’s break down what you should have in your cinematographer starter kit.
It’s daunting to think about the first few tools you’ll need in your cinematic tool belt. Knowing where to start is tricky, so we turn to seasoned cinematographers for advice.
Andy Rydzewski shot feature films, TV series, commercials, shorts, documentaries, sketches and more during his time as a cinematographer. After working 10 years in the industry, Rydzewski picked up a few tools that he found essential to his craft and his desire to create strong atmosphere through lighting and camera movement.
Courage in the cinema sat down with Andy Rydzewski to see what he thinks a rookie cinematographer needs in his tool belt. From mobile apps to specific types of lenses and filters, here’s what Rydzewski thinks you should have.
5 tools you need according to Andy Rydzewski
1. Have a quick goal.
In an age where inexpensive cameras still deliver gorgeous images, Rydzewski believes a cinematographer should focus more on the type of lenses they use rather than the specific brand of cameras.
When first starting out, Rydzewski thinks it’s important to start out with a fast lens. A fast lens that can open up to f/2 will allow you to capture in low light situations and help you capture great images when you don’t have a lot of gear. Fast lenses will allow for a shallower depth of field, allowing you to practice and understand the extremes of DOF.
2. Have a strong light source.
A strong light source streaming through a window can create a solid base from which to start illuminating a scene. Although a large light source can be expensive and require a larger team, the results are worth it.
3. Know where the sun is at all times.
Rydzewski knows how important it is to understand where the sun is at any given time so that he can prepare for the day of shooting. Using the Sun Seeker app, you can choose the time and places to start filming. This is beneficial for location shoots, as you’ll already know what time of day you should be shooting and which direction everyone should be facing before you even step on set.
4. Use the Artemis Prime mobile app when planning a shoot.
Artemis Prime is a digital viewfinder that lets you mount any camera with any set of lenses to help you line up shots. The app is already an indispensable tool used by filmmakers of all skill levels and it’s one that Rydzewski swears by. Artemis will help you plan the day of shooting in advance, while having a clear idea of what each lens will show you in space.
5. Have neutral density filters.
Rydzewski thinks one tool every filmmaker needs are neutral density filters. If your camera does not have internal neutral density filters, you can purchase variable NDs. These types of ND filters screw onto the end of the camera lens and you can twist them to let more or less light into your camera. These filters are beneficial because they allow you to start shooting awareness at certain f-stops and give you more control over your shots.
In your opinion, are there any tools that a beginner cinematographer needs? Let us know what they are in the comments below!