cinematography and videography

Cinematography And Videography: The Differences Explained

People involved with video production and filmmaking often come across two interchangeable terms- Cinematography and Videography. Now, anyone who is distantly viewing the world of media and video production will think that both the terms are synonymous.

However, people equipped with proper knowledge about the general system of media productions and filmmaking will know that both terms account for a number of differences.

The common part about cinematography and videography is that both deal with a camera that captures moments in time. The factor that stands out in building a clear gap between a cinematographer and a videographer is the involvement of art and skill. Videography is a skill and cinematography is a superior combination of skill and art.

In other words, every cinematographer is a videographer, but not every videographer is a cinematographer. Literal terms differ videographers to be rich with skills who shoot commercial videos and anything that is not a film.

On the other hand, cinematographers are intensely dedicated to shooting films that not only require the use of skills but also need the creative side of the professional to make the cinema tell the story it is supposed to.

Let’s get deep into the concepts of both videography and cinematography one by one to understand the difference and similarities vividly.

Videography- The Skill

Videography is the technical term used for shooting videos that require little or no voluntary creativity. A videographer records events such as weddings, seminars, parties, etc. All these events are unscripted and thus let the videographer cover the event as it is. 

Obviously, the videographer can make some arrangements to capture a fully exposed and perfect video, but no other factors such as lighting, art designs, props, etc., are important elements of a videography skillset.

Videography involves the use of proper camera features such as exposure, ISO, and depth of field to capture a correctly exposed video. Videography usually demands client satisfaction and thus, a videographer has no say in making creative changes to make a video aesthetically pleasing.

Videographers are required to capture an event from beginning to end and deliver the same with as much required editing as demanded by the client. Videographers usually work in a team and are properly equipped with the knowledge of video shooting through a camera. 

However simple it may sound, videography is a challenging task. A videographer has to deal with multiple nuances and demands while shooting that can get difficult to manage sometimes. They also must be prepared with all types of emergency management equipment because if a system fails to work, the alternative must be immediately taken into use.

This is important as an event will not be repeated in time and if a videographer fails to shoot it, then a part of the event will remain undocumented on camera.

Videographers and their skills

A videographer must be proficient with some of the primary features of video production. A videographer must be able to handle the camera and all of its functions to bring out perfect footage irrespective of all the real-world, uncontrolled scenarios. The most important skill set possessed by videographers are:

  • Camera Feature: It goes unsaid that videographers must know what their job is. Thus, a videographer must know how to capture videos. How is that possible? By equipping yourself with all the knowledge about video capturing through a camera. A videographer knows when to scale up or down the exposure, ISO, and shutter speed. He/she also knows how to mount and dismount cameras and lights.
  • Eye for details: Capturing a live event is one of the most challenging tasks as unexpected things might happen. Thus, it is essential for the videographer to have a sharp eye that notices minute details in the event and covers it through the camera. This results in a diverse composition of elements and leads to better video production.
  • Good Editing: A videographer not only covers an event, he/she also edits the footage and compiles all the important parts to make a final video. Thus, the videographer must also have editing skills so that a complete video is delivered to the client.
  • Communication skills: A videographer has to deal with numerous clients and people who demand certain types of video aesthetics. It is the job of the videographer to have clear communication with the client so that the ideas and requirements are vivid to both the client and the videographer. The demand of intellectuality also involves explaining videography aspects to the client so that unrealistic expectations can be avoided.

Cinematography- The Art

“I think the point of cinematography, of what we do, is intimacy. Is intent, is the balance between the familiar and the dream, it is being subjective and objective, it is being engaged and yet standing back and noticing something that perhaps other people didn’t notice before, or celebrating something that you feel is beautiful or valid, or true or engaging in some way.”

Christopher Doyle

Cinematography is the art of framing seconds in time with aesthetics, story, purpose, lights, and color. It is the way how a certain series of events is not only recorded in a camera but also creatively designed. In other words, cinematography is the art of filming cinematic videos such as a film, concept commercials, music videos, television series, web series, etc,

As the word itself suggests, cinematography is directly related to filmmaking. Cinematographers are also called the director of photography in a film set. The job of a cinematographer is to design a scene with respect to the director’s vision of storytelling.

A cinematographer always coordinates with the director and tries to understand what he/she wants to portray through a particular scene. 

Following the exchange of ideas, the director of photography designs a scene with the use of proper lights, props and camera angles. Cinematography is limitless. The cinematographer has the liberty to make a scene slightly exposed or fully exposed revolving around the storytelling.

Unlike videography, where the videographer must take perfectly exposed pictures and must commit to certain rules, the cinematographer has no strict written rules to follow.

Cinematography allows a creative input in terms of camera angles, lighting, and blocking of the scene. A cinematographer can use colors according to a customized color palette and build up the lighting according to the need of the intensity of a scene.

This is something that the cinematographer does to ensure that the scene captured is a cinematic masterpiece in itself.

Cinematographers and their art

A cinematographer elevates the vision of the director by using various techniques of building up a cinematic scene. Some of the key factors that shape the blueprint of their work are:

  • Visualization: A cinematographer produces the visuals of a scene by designing every aspect of it. He/she decides how the scene must be made available to the audience so that the vision of the director is known to them.
  • Lighting: The cinematographer or the director of photography commands the lighting of a set. Lighting plays a very important role in storytelling and character sketching. Some of the characters are defined by signature lighting to convey a personality review to the audience. Some scenes are uniquely lit up to emphasize their significance in the film. Thus, light design is one of the most essential elements of any cinematic piece.
  • Mood: The set designer is responsible for designing the set, but the cinematographer always has a significant say in it. A cinematographer makes sure that the color tones used in the visual production directly cater to the mood of the film. Following the finalization of color palettes for each scene, the cinematographer designs the lighting, camera equipment, and camera angles of a scene. 
  • Camera angles: Usually the director has a clear idea of the camera angles that will be used in the film because every angle and movement has a specific cinematic message to portray in the viewer’s mind. However, the cinematographer makes sure that the camera angles and movements are pre-defined to adhere to the director’s vision.
  • Creativity: A cinematographer as the director of photography must be creative. Cinema being an art itself, has the capability to impact lives and thus, becomes a responsibility to the makers. The director sometimes might fail to visualize the story, then it becomes the responsibility of the cinematographer to build clues and ideas that can make a certain scene better.

Key similarities between cinematographer and videographer

Both cinematographers and a videographer work with a camera and have sharp knowledge about the process of filming videos. These two professionals are somewhat interrelated when it comes to the essential work- filming. There can be many similarities between the above fields but the details widely differ.

Both cinematographers and videographers work in a team engaged in capturing the right moment. They must have basic to professional knowledge of video editing so that they can complete a project as per their vision or command the process of editing.

Key Differences between cinematographer and videographer

The differences between the two highly desired professionals are their areas of expertise. The videographer captures an event that cannot be reversed, leaving any chance of retakes. A cinematographer captures a framed visual that is open to as many retakes as needed.

A videographer is eliminated from the scope to dictate an event as per his/her vision, leaving little to no space for creativity, whereas a cinematographer opens his/her eyes to build a creative space that keeps getting modified as per changing visions. 

A videographer works in a team being one of the members, but a cinematographer works as the chief commander of the team that is entitled to shoot the film. Videographer himself/herself gets involved in the filming of the event and the cinematographer monitors the filming of a scene to make sure it follows all the design prints made.

A videographer usually edits his or her recorded videos as per the client’s demands and delivers the project. A cinematographer has less command over the editing. The editing process of a film or any other cinematic piece is monitored and dictated by the director. 


Cinematography and videography often become confusing concepts and people tend to fail at differing one from another. Hope every reader has a clear perspective of how different both the professionals are from each other and none of them can be considered as unimportant or the same. 

If one must search for a career in either of the professional fields, the need for a degree is secondary. For being a videographer, one doesn’t necessarily need an academic degree.

The knowledge of video shooting, use of camera, sense of framing, fundamentals of editing can land one as a good prospect for videography. However, a degree in mass communication or journalism can be beneficial to help understand the purpose of video making.

On the other hand, cinematography as an artistic profession demands a degree relevant to the field such as a filmmaking degree or others. Various academic programs can help one build a career in cinematography as one needs to learn deep aspects of filmmaking before becoming a cinematographer.

Whichever career one goes for, the growing digital consumption has a wide mouth, open for potential professionals.

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