There are three styles of film; realism, classicism, and formalism. Realism is a particular style in which the film attempts to reproduce reality with minimal distortion. Formalism is also known as expressionism, the film is centered on distortions of reality and focuses on a more "artistic" approach to the production of the film--they are "stylistically flamboyant", according to Giannetti. Classicism is a style of cinematography which tries to bridge the gap between formalism and realism.
There are three types of cinema: documentary, fiction, and avant-garde film. Realistic films (which are defined as realist) tend towards a documentary style--focusing on urgency, a lack of stylistic camera angles, and more realistic situations. There are few dream sequences, expressionistic moments, and camera angles that function as the human eye does. Most fiction films are shot classically (which are defined as classicist) they also tend to combine the worlds of the expressionistic formalists and the realist documentaries. And of course, films of the avant-garde variety are much more focused on expressionism and artistic interpretation. The are often marketed as "art films" and do not appeal to the general public in most cases.
The camera shots, the angle of the shot, and the lighting styles create certain ambiances on screen. A shot is defined as the apparent distance of the camera from the subject. There are six kinds of shots that are used in film; the extreme long shot, the long shot, the full shot, the medium shot, the close up, and the extreme close up. The extreme long shot is usually used to establish the locale of a film. A long shot used to provide an idea of surrounding elements. A full shot is a shot that includes full visibility of a human body from the top of their head to bottoms of their feet. A medium shot contains a figure from the waist of knees up. A shot that shows very little locale, and focuses on a relatively small object is considered a close up, and a shot that focuses on a part of that object is an extreme close up. The angle of any of these shots is imperative to the filming of a movie. the placement of the camera in relation to the actors/objects on set can determine the entire mood of a shot. Whether the camera seems to be looking up, down, or at eye level with the characters - the audience immediately makes decisions about a character and their relation to the other characters in the film. But this can be investigated more in the section on Mise En Scene. Lighting also plays a role in the creation of a shot or sequence. High key lighting is generally used in comedies, television sitcoms, and generally happy pieces of work. Low key lighting provides shadows and gives an edge to the visuals of a film, and is most commonly used in mysteries, thrillers, and gangster films. High contrast lighting is the other kind, which provides harsh, unflattering light and streaks of black across the shot - obviously this is used in melodrama and tragedies.
The symbolism found in light, dark, and color via lighting through film can dramatically affect the audience's perception of it. Light can be joyfull or harsh, dark can be dangerous or serene, even sensual; depending on the placement of the camera and characters. Color is used in film to draw the audiences eye to particular characters and to characterize a character more often than not.
The various sorts of camera lenses (telephoto, wide-angle, and standard) provide a filtered reality and distort a scene in a positive way (to provide more meaning) or a negative way (to provide the wrong meaning). The role of the cinematographer is the main visual collaborator with the director and essentially assist the director, screen writer, and cast in realizing their vision their piece.
Mise en scene is defined as the way the visual materials of a film are staged, framed, and photographed. From the aspect ration (which are the dimensions of the screen's height & width) the cinematographer and director must constantly check themselves to make sure all that they want is in the shot, and all that they do not want in the shot is not, this is basically the ground work to mise en scene. The frame has a few functions, to exclude the irrelevant, pinpoint implications of the geography of the frame- by placement of top, bottom, center, and edges.
Images are structured by using the frame to organize the composition and design of the shot by employing visual cues to express contextual relationships. Such as the idea of the Territorial Imperative, which is how space can be used to communicate the idea of power. Staging in the bottom of the frame suggests weakness, the top of the frame- dominance, the center - the most important thing to watch, and the sides - the least important components. Color is also important in directing the eyes of the audience, contrasting colors (a character in the center wearing a red shirt, while everyone else is wearing black, for example) make a character immediately more important to the audience.
Proxemic patterns are how the distances between characters define relationships, as well as how the distance of the camera from the character defines his/her relationship with the audience. The closer two characters are, the more intimately their characters are related and the more tension is between them. The further away the audience feels from the character in the theatre, the more distant the character is in the film - the audience will probably have trouble relating to him as well.
Framing and forms ultimately define the comprehensive mood of the piece. Tight framing leads to a claustrophobic feel and a certain urgency to the shot. Loose framing gives off a more relaxed connotation, or depending on the plot, chaos. Open forms make the audience feel like the movie could be happening in real life, to them. It covers the expanse of the screen and there are no obstructions in front of any of the main action of the shot. Closed forms are very Brechtian. They remind the audience that the film is not real and that they are sitting in a movie theatre, watching a movie. The camera is very directed, the shots are clear, and parts of the action are blocked off by means of an object or a black frame around the screen.