Film & TV

Cinematography

Ron Howard

Lesson time 19:34 min

Ron thinks about cinematic choices almost like a character in the movie. Learn how lighting, lenses, and stylistic choices can add visual power to your film.

Play
Ron Howard
Teaches Directing
Ron Howard teaches directing, editing, and storytelling in 32 exclusive video lessons.
Get All-Access

Preview

I've never been a director who wants to put a personal stamp on a project based on a look or an aesthetic. I've always thought of myself, more like a-- I guess the way an actor understands a character and tries to inhabit that character. I want to understand the character of a movie and sort of inhabit it as a director and try to fulfill the possibilities that I think are most appropriate. Now, of course, my personality, my taste, it's going to influence movies in similar ways. And I try not to work in opposition of that. But I like to try to understand a movie and let it begin to talk to me. I like to begin to understand what's visually possible and what would most reflect, I suppose, the themes, the story. It always keeps coming back to me, to supporting those ideas. What's it about? What's it trying to convey? And how is it supposed to transport the audience? How is it supposed to feel? And then begin to understand what sort of visual style will enhance that. How will it help us understand the characters? How will it help engage the audience? There's a kind of an ironic thing that happens, that suddenly you're going to hear a lot more about that subject. So now I'm thinking about becoming a doctor, and suddenly there's a great documentary about what it means to be an ER doctor. And oh, look at this. I'm really noticing that those people over at Starbucks, they're nurses. And I think I see a doctor over there, and they're talking. And maybe I'll go up and just talk to them about what med school they went to. It's all-- boy, this is amazing. Suddenly everywhere I look, it's all about medicine and doctors. Well, it's just that your antenna is tuned. My sense of this is that that information has always been there, but now you've focused your train of thought. I think as a director, you have the opportunity to do the same thing, to begin to focus on your subject. And you'll be amazed how many ideas can start flooding your way. And a lot of that comes to you as visual language. And it's great to start taking notes. You see a photograph. Pull it out-- well, if you can. If you already own the magazine, pull it out. Collect it. Give yourself something to talk about, to think about, to dream about, and just begin the process of understanding what that movie could be. At least that's how I like to work. And I never have any interest in having a particular kind of shot that I always do to start the movie or end the movie-- no signatures like that. For me, it's about a story finding its proper voice, its existence within the medium of cinema. A lot of what we perceive in life has to do with light. Bright shafts, stark backlight, so that things are a little bit muddled. Distance is often about-- the way the optics work is you start to lose detail and the light isn't registering with you on a distant figu...


Direct your story

Ron Howard made his first film in 15 days with $300,000. Today, his movies have grossed over $1.8 billion. In his first-ever online directing class, the Oscar-winning director of Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind decodes his craft like never before. In lessons and on-set workshops, you’ll learn how to evaluate ideas, work with actors, block scenes, and bring your vision to the screen whether it’s a laptop or an IMAX theater.



Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

This one is phenomenal. I have to say it's the best one so far. The only thing I would improve is add more reading material and exercises for the Masterclass assignments. I felt that Aaron Sorkin and David Mamet masterclasses both had a lot of good and productive assignments. Having said that, the workbook was still very well done. Great overall! Thank you.

I’ve learned that I have much to learn but am eager to get started. I plan to revisit the assignments and think about the lessons all again. Thank you!

This was really extraordinary! Ron covered so much and was so generous about his process. This is incredibly inspiring!

Thank you for taking the time to educate, inspire, and influence us in a grand way. This was amazingly wonderful to listen to your vast knowledge of filmmaking.


Comments

Mary K.

Love Ron Howard movies and he provides very insightful commentary. However, like others, I was VERY disappointed that there were NO visual examples to illustrate his points. MasterClass has great creative talented presenters who have extremely valuable experience to share, but they need to consult some actual TEACHERS (those who are experts in their field of transmitting ideas in an effective way) on how to make classes such as this effective. Provide specific examples would have been their first recommendation. Talking heads are the LEAST effective way to teach. This was a real missed opportunity.

KathrynElise E.

I really liked the comment about the cinematographer "feeling the movie", it gave me a greater understanding .

Glen W.

I agree with some of the other comments. Frankly I'm miffed why more visual examples haven't been used to this point. If I wasn't such a fan of Ron Howard I might have tuned out by now. Static shots and slow dollies of one man sitting in a chair are very boring. I'm guessing (and hoping) he'll move on to a set soon and start showing us some examples of what he's talking about.

Mal D.

Images and 'movie clips' to illustrate what he is talking about is sorely missing from a section called 'Cinematography'

svetlana Y.

So true about fluidity and being flexible when working with a cinematographer. One of the reasons I love hand held camera, everything is much more organic when you are movable.

Matt H.

In my studio lab. That is robot Alicia Keys. We practice singing and acting all day. Both children of the 80's...

Pétainguy M.

Page 17 / line 4 is a mistake : "the" is repeated two times. Nice course. Really great. Could add some video extracts to illustrate.

John H.

I agree with the comments that there should be clips included to help us better understand

Ray

Getting 0 Visual representation when talking about Cinematography really hurts the quality of the lesson.

EK T.

Nice to know that technology is changing some ways movies are made if it is for the better. Good information, but on some level, I felt like I was wearing a blind fold, trying to imagine what was on the screen.