European Commission logo
English English
CORDIS - EU research results

Cinematic Atmospheres: Towards a New Ecology of the Moving Image

Project description

Exploring cinema's atmospheric ecologies

Cinema’s global success depends not only on its telling of captivating stories but also on its ability to embed these in emotionally charged and atmospheric worlds by such expressive techniques as sound design and camera movement. Although recognised as particularly atmospheric, cinema and its mode of atmosphere production, along with its experiential, aesthetic and ethical implications, have received little attention in film studies. The EU-funded CATNEMI project will address this research gap and develop an approach for studying the "atmospheric operations" of cinema; furthermore, it will ask what happens when these are no longer employed exclusively in the traditional narrative and aesthetic setting of the cinema but in other moving image media too, including news broadcasting, social media and sports refereeing.


Cinema is not just a representational but also an operational medium. Its global success is indisputably tied to its ability to embed its audience in affectively charged, atmospheric worlds and filmmakers carefully design their narrative worlds through ambient soundscapes, music, colorations, filters, camera movements, production design, mise en scène, rhythmical editing, and countless other features that arrange the emotional and affective experiences of the audience. Marginalized in film studies due to their ontologically indeterminate nature, cinematic atmospheres operate affectively and prior to cognitive, critical, and analytical reflection. This project examines cinematic atmosphere production in all its experiential, aesthetic, and ethical implications as an attractive but also problematic, even harmful, and ideologically loaded enterprise. It raises critical awareness of the basic atmospheric operations of cinema in a time when the medium is relocated into new media environments and its techniques are reused within ecologies that are not cinematic per se such as news broadcasting, videoconferencing, sports refereeing, and even terrorist recruitment.
This project i) develops a broad conceptual understanding of cinematic atmospheres as a way of organizing the perceptive, affective, and cognitive epistemic access to the world of the film, and ii) mobilizes this understanding to develop a method for the study of the operations and techniques that constitute cinematic atmosphere production before iii) expanding this method to deal with the question of how these cinematic operations and techniques for atmosphere production are no longer the property of cinema alone but increasingly employed outside of the narrative-aesthetic domain at the service of larger socio-cultural, economic, and political forms of organizing perception, cognition, and affect from art installations to social media.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 337 744,00
14482 Potsdam Babelsberg

See on map

Brandenburg Brandenburg Potsdam
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 337 744,00

Beneficiaries (1)