Spotlight: Digital Cinematography at Full Sail University
An in-depth look at digital cinematography studies at Full Sail.
The digital cinematography curriculum at Full Sail is for those students who are ready to take their visual storytelling project ideas from concept to creation. These online courses go beyond just the technical skills students need to succeed with an emphasis on time management, hands-on projects, and professionalism expected in the industry.
Program Director Bob Truett explains how the online program teaches students how to take a project from script development to post-production in an entrepreneurial career as a cinematographer.
He explains that the beginning courses lay a foundation for students with an overview of the cinematography industry: the roles, expectations, and inner workings behind film projects. This includes cultivating critical thinking skills and understanding the professionalism required for successful producing, directing, and editing as an entrepreneurial cinematographer.
"The industry values critical thinking. And as a digital cinematography student, you will be challenged to think both analytically and creatively," says Bob.
Intro to Digital Cinematography
In the first half of the digital cinematography curriculum, students learn the foundational skills for a career in video production and digital cinematography. That means doing a deep dive into script creation, narrative storytelling, and the essential elements of scripts for commercials and other visual formats. In this portion of the coursework, the emphasis is on pre-production. Students learn how to pre-plan their projects using industry-standard tools and techniques.
To complete hands-on projects, students also receive a professional camera package that includes everything they need to learn basic camera operations, including depth-of-field, lens selection, camera framing, and movement.
Students will also receive a lighting kit which will be used for hands-on instruction in the basics of three-point lighting, creating dynamic lighting, and learning how to engage your audience through light. That includes crafting scenes using existing lighting conditions and the resources available in a working environment.
Using professional equipment and software, students learn to edit, create graphics, and post their work using Adobe Creative Cloud. Along the way, they'll create numerous polished projects for their portfolio. Grads walk away with examples of scene studies, documented hours on a real-world production, and a short film about themselves titled Who I Am As A Filmmaker.
"All of these projects can be used to market your skills to potential audiences," says Bob.
In the latter part of the curriculum, students deepen their knowledge of digital cinematography with course directors mentoring them through several intensive projects. Bob says, "You'll create projects including documentaries, narrative short films, and commercial work, which will deepen your understanding of the realities of working on a professional production."
That means several projects will require students to work beyond the classroom and use their own production hours. "It is crucial to plan your projects and manage your time," he says.
In fact, for many grads, this aspect of the program helps set them apart post-graduation. With long hours and tight deadlines, students get a feel for the pace of the real world in their prospective industry and stand out to employers when they're ahead of the curve.
Another one of the ways Full Sail is unique is in its emphasis on hands-on, real-world education. In these studies, students aren't just learning the theoretical concepts of cinematography, and they're doing more than just learning the technical skills. They're creating and contributing to a working portfolio to showcase their work and personal brand.
"The digital cinematography concentration will coach you on how to gain more exposure as a developing professional while providing you with numerous opportunities to work in real-world production environments," says Bob.
Collaboration is another important piece of the digital cinematography curriculum. Students gain experience in various positions on a production team and as well as on their own as a freelance storyteller.
Bob explains, "The program will not only mentally prepare you for these challenges; it will also empower you with the technical skills you need to succeed."
Film vs. Digital Cinematography
While studying digital cinematography is a great option for aspiring filmmakers, this educational path is not for everyone. If you're more interested in working as a part of a large crew or specializing in a specific position, you may be more interested in Full Sail’s film studies.
Students studying digital cinematography learn what it takes to be an entrepreneur in film, with emphasis on becoming a "jack of all trades" for projects like independent films, documentaries, and web content. In the on-campus film curriculum, students learn how to specialize in roles as a part of a larger, on-set film crew.
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