Dance Film Lab

Master Class: Camera Operation Shooting Strategies

Wednesday, October 12th marked our Dance Film Lab Master Class on Camera Operation and Shooting Strategies with dance filmmaker Amy Greenfield and cinematographer Jeremiah Story. The evening was split in two halves. First Amy spoke on the technical aspects of dance filmmaking. She emphasized framing options, for example following the dancer versus allowing the dancer to leave the frame, and depth of field, hitting on the importance of parameters of distance of subject to camera, focal length and aperture. The space at Dance New Amsterdam combined with Jeremiah’s camera allowed for play time. Amy discussed these ideas and with the bodies of participants, Jeremiah put them into action in front of the camera. Below is a video explanation of depth of field Amy recommended.


Production shot from Transport

For the second half of the evening, Amy showed her film Transport to demonstrate her personal application of these techniques and at the end of the class, each student received a copy of her publication FilmDance.  In her article, Amy acknowledged that “the ‘duet’ between camera motion and performed human motion was, for me, at the heart of a dance for camera.” In the picture to the left, the cinematographer complements Amy’s arch. Rather than confronting the movement frontally, the placement of the camera allows Amy’s motion to seem as if it is falling either directly into or away from the lens, establishing the strong duet between the camera and the dance. Throughout the class, Amy returned to the importance of this dynamic and encouraged the dance filmmakers to experiment given the technical parameters to maximize the impact of their dance film.

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