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Cinematographer

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Where you swept away by the Deathly Hallows' tale in the latest "Harry Potter" installment or captivated by Hobbiton in "Lord of the Rings" and wanted to visit the Shire?

Then thank the real experts that made it possible: The cinematographers.

Cinematographers play a key role in film making. It's their responsibility to create the mood, tone, and determine how a scene should look. While the film's director will have the idea of a scene, the cinematographer will make it happen.

They have to convey the story or project visually. Cinematography requires a high level of technical knowledge and a keen eye for imagery. Cinematographers work closely with the director to make sure each scene is shot to precisely capture the director's vision.

They are experts in both technical and artistic capabilities of a camera. Cinematographers work in conjunction with the lighting crew, art director, and production crew to ensure each scene is captured using the right lens, filter, and other shooting techniques. Their attention to detail is exquisite.

The head cinematographer may also be credited as director of photography or DP, although the two titles are not always interchangeable. Cinematographers may specialize in movies, documentaries or television programs.

Experience is important with technical and artistic training. Some cinematographers undergo an apprenticeship period, where they study and work under a more experienced person in the field. This is useful, and can lead to camera work on independent films or low budget Hollywood productions.

Becoming a cinematographer requires years of technical training in the use of a professional camera and video equipment. Most cinematographers hold Bachelor's degrees or have completed a highly specialized training program from a film school. The coursework will include the study of lighting, cinema history and technique and the latest in photographic technology.

While actors and directors garner the major bucks, U.S. cinematographers can expect to pull in between $58,728 and $88,287. But salaries vary depending on the size and budget of the project. Think you've got what it takes?

Lights, camera, ready for action? Click here.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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