Vertigo and Cinematography

I’m teaching cinematography through Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo this week (through Tuesday), and I’ve been trying to track down a few film stills to support some in-class activities. The main difficulty is actually finding stills that are in the proper aspect ratio. Most of the stills online appear to be publicity stills (not film stills) or cropped. So far, I’ve found this book review with a couple of good stills. Any suggestions (in the comments or by email) would be much appreciated.

Update: Here are a few other Vertigo sites I found after my original post: A site called “Vertigo Described,” which includes an extende essay on the film as well as a few film stills (too cluttered for my purpose), and a very interesting news article on a “Vertigo Tour of San Francisco” that directs tourists to all of the locations Hitch used in the film. Finally, a site called NorCal Movies, which is dedicated to documenting films made in Northern California (this site has plenty of great film stills, but having a better method for finding stills would probably be a good thing).

Cross-posted at Palimpsest.


  1. Steve Shaviro Said,

    June 1, 2004 @ 2:41 am

    If you have access to a computer with a DVD drive, you should be able to just play the DVD, and get stills directly. Some DVD playing programs will do this automatically, but even if it doesn’t you should be able to find shareware that will override copy protection and do it, or in the worst case just use a screen capture utility.

  2. chuck Said,

    June 1, 2004 @ 8:33 am

    If I recall, my DVD player wouldn’t allow it because of copy protection. I’ll dig around for the shareware.

    Luckily I found some Vertigo stills that will work, at least for now.

  3. Chris Martin Said,

    June 1, 2004 @ 12:31 pm

    On a very tangential note, it’s Cary Grant month on TCM. Tonight they’re showing North by Northwest, Notorious, and Suspicion. It’s also Saul Bass month so Psycho and Vertigo are being screened this month.

  4. chuck Said,

    June 1, 2004 @ 10:31 pm

    Wow–sometimes I actually wish I had cable, TCM especially. I’ve taught NxNW several times, but I haven’t seen the others nearly often enough. I’ve just recently begun learning about Saul Bass, so it would be nice to have an excuse to have TCM to learn more about him.

  5. Chris Martin Said,

    June 2, 2004 @ 11:38 am

    There was a guy who did a lecture tour across the country a few years ago about title design. I saw him at the High Museum and he was really good. He showed a few Saul Bass titles, of course. I wonder if he has a videotape of his presentation. His web site is

    Then there’s this essay:

  6. Ben Said,

    November 4, 2006 @ 4:38 pm

    Hi Chuck,

    My name is Ben, I am a teacher of video production from a Hong Kong community college. I came across this post by searching cinematography class activities in google. I am not familiar with blogging and I see this post is actually from 2004, so I am not sure whether you will be able to read my new comment, hope it will get to you.

    I am facing problems in lesson planning of my cinematography class, and would like to seek your kind advise. The course is in a 3 hours session every week with a total of 15 weeks. Right now I am half way through the semester, but I am still facing diffiulty in planning how exactly should I
    plan the 3 hours seesion.

    Like what you said in your post, I also often find examples to illustrate lighting and compositions, and organize class workshop to shoot a short sequence. But I am feeling like I have nothing more to demonstrate in class after half of a semester. I am also a bit lost at how exactly to slice the 3 hours session into parts. Currently I have done some workshop on 3 pint lighting and practical light, and many operational practices of a video camera. It often seems 3 hours is a bit too long for me, I just can’t construct practices for students that justify a 3 hours session. What should I do?

    p.s. the school’s only resources is a few DV cameras, and some sets of 800w lights, and a few 2K lights.

    Thank you very much.

  7. Chuck Said,

    November 5, 2006 @ 12:19 pm

    Ben, my blogging software is set up so that I see all new comments, which makes it easier to keep conversations going (or to return to them later). I don’t teach production, so I’m not sure I have a good answer to your question.

    One of my colleagues required his production students to make a short documentary about their experiences as (first-year) students. The goal would be to make something that these students could show to future students to give them a sense of what college is like. That might be a bit ambitious for the constraints of your course, but his students seemed to enjoy the project quite a bit.

  8. Ben Said,

    November 9, 2006 @ 4:20 am

    Thanks a lot Chuck, will consider your advise. I agree, motivating students to project work is essential learning.

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