What’s the Difference Between Cinematography and Videography?

When it comes to creating recorded content (films and videos), there are some confusing terms that must be understood in order to ensure you choose the right partner. Whether you’re looking to create an informative video or a promotional piece, you need to know the difference between cinematography and videography. While similar, those two terms are not interchangeable. What’s different between a cinematographer and a videographer?

Cinematography

In the traditional sense, cinematography refers to shooting actual film or digital cinema with a large crew. It also implies other aspects of the traditional film making world – massive sets, cranes, dollies and track for the camera and operator to ride while filming, along with massive lighting fixtures and more.

Videography

Videography refers to capturing images via digital format, not traditional film stock. There may or may not be sets, lighting and other elements involved. Videography is usually not associated with film making, but it is seeing increasing adoption here. A videographer is usually a camera operator on a small crew or working solo.

Other Key Differences

In addition to the information above, there are other key differences between a cinematographer and videographer. Cinematography usually involves a large crew with a Director of Photography orchestrating the camera and lighting departments. There are more decision makers on set from the Producer, Director, Assistant Director to the Director of Photography. Camera operators work the cameras, while the cinematographer ensures that every decision benefits the vision of the film, the director and the objectives of the project. Cinematographers are often referred to as a Director of Photography and bring the vision of the Director to life through lighting and composition.

With videography, the situation is different. A videographer is usually the camera operator as well. Videography usually implies that the person is either working alone, or as part of a small crew. Where cinematography is associated with moviemaking and film production, videography is associated with things like live TV broadcasting, TV commercial creation, corporate videos, wedding videos and the like. Videographers can also handle other aspects of the process that can include editing and sound, while cinematographers usually don’t.

The Changes Induced by Technology

A good bit of the confusion surrounding cinematography and videography stems not just from the vague similarities between the two fields, but the change of technology. As mentioned, a cinematographer usually works with actual film stock, but that’s changing. Digital technology (DSLR cameras) as well as 35m digital cinema cameras are replacing film stock at an incredible pace. You’ll also find that the same technology is being utilized by videographers and the surrounding area. This puts the same technology in the hands of both sets of professionals, giving them something of the same capabilities, if not the same career focuses. Having said that, both professions require experience and a specific skill set, not only technically but creatively.

Of course, the qualities that make a great videographer go beyond technology. You can’t choose a professional for your needs based on whether they call themselves a videographer or a cinematographer. In fact, videographers are becoming the preferred option for most clients, whether you’re in need of capturing the story of your wedding or the story of your company. Videographers are dedicated to creativity, style, and creating a mesmerizing story that doubles as art.