Friday, August 29, 2008

Book Review: The Five C's of Cinematography by Joseph Mascelli

It's not that often that I'll go out of my way to review or promote a book, but I was going through my shelves recently and came across and oldie but goodie that I hadn't looked at in a while.

I was quickly reminded what a useful beginners' tool / professionals' review book I had in The Five C's of Cinematography by Joseph V. Mascelli.

If you're experienced in the area, Mascelli still does a good job of reviewing things in a digestible way. If you're just starting out, he introduces concepts and principles that will largely form the basis of your cinematography work. It can be an especially useful read if you don't come from a strong still photography background and are therefore not heavily versed in shot composition, form, mass and the like.

Mascelli provides a wealth of relevant illustrations of each concept, framing and lighting actors and capturing the images that represent his principles in movie "screen capture" format. The book has been around for some time, and while techniques have evolved somewhat since the first printing, the fact remains that these principles do form the foundation of modern cinematography. You can't do trigonometry if you never learn arithmetic.

The New York Times review on the back states that "Mr. Mascelli provides the attentive reader with the equivalent of a complete course in filmmaking." While this may be a slight overstatement, it is true that there is great value for the time and money to be had within these pages, and especially so for the attentive reader. But attentive reading is generally required for all instances where you are reading to learn, rather than reading to escape. And Joseph Mascelli does a pretty good job of making it easy to remain attentive from cover to cover.

In case you want to take a glimpse inside the covers or at some samples of the writing, the link is available below.


Anonymous said...

dope dope book very nice

Bart's Bookshelf said...

Hi there. Great review!

Just dropping by as the host of the Aug 2nd edition of the Book Reviews Blog Carnival, to let you know I've added you to the post.

Thanks for submitting your review. :o)

Bill Raddatz said...

This is one of my favorite book and I can say with all sincerity that it influenced my life greatly when I first read it while at film school in the early 70's. I have referred to it many time during my long cinematography career and still look to it as a timeless reference on how to tell a story with pictures.