Want to create cinematic looking footage, without the Hollywood budget? Here are 8 simple ways to make your film more cinematic.

1. Cinematic Lighting

One thing that I used to do is over light scenes. But cinema is about having contrast and shadows, and shaping to your light. Use your lights to highlight important elements in a scene and create separation between foreground and background. Try to make the lighting seem motivated. If there’s a window to your left, don’t put the light on the opposite side. Using the natural elements in the scene to help tell your story is one of the ways to make your film more cinematic.

Christian Cashmir and Sean Keller prepare before a scene with Adam Barefoot on camera (Canon C300).

2. Color Grading

Applying a color grade to your footage is an important part of the cinematic feel. Depending on the style or feeling of your scene, you can adjust the color to match. For example if it’s a sad scene, you may use more blue or cooler tones. For a happy scene or flashback, you may want to go with warmer tones.  If you’re in Adobe Premiere, try using the Lumetri Color panel – which has a number of Look presets to get you started quickly. Be sure to check your waveform monitor scope to avoid any clipping so you don’t lose detail when grading.

3. Aspect Ratio/Crop Bars

I grew up watching a lot of widescreen movies, and have a certain affinity for the anamorphic look, which creates those cinematic black bars on your TV. You may not have the budget to film on anamorphic lenses, but you can add those cinema bars to your project to make it feel more like one of your favorite films. One way is to do a quick Google search for “2.35 to 1 black bars.” Download the .png from there, and add it as a track over your footage on your timeline. Always remember to keep aspect ratio in mind while filming so no important details get cropped out when the bars are applied. You can apply aspect ratio guides in most modern cameras. If you don’t have them, tape your monitor with some gaff tape so you know where the frame lines are.

Christian Cashmir reviews footage from a scene with Brielle Carter

4. Film Grain

Adding a film grain effect is another way to get that Film look and give texture to your footage. There are some cheaper options out there, but I highly recommend using a plugin like FilmConvert. This plugin has a ton of options to customize your style – you can even choose what type of film you want to emulate – 16mm or 35mm, etc, and it looks very natural.

5. Film in 24p (or 23.976)

We’ve come accustomed to seeing films projected at 24 frames per second. And now most video cameras have the option to film at 24p or 23.976. This frame rate gives a slight motion blur to your footage, and a unique motion characteristic, which maybe is what gives 24p that certain feel we know and love. Higher frame rates like 30p or 60p can look almost too real or seem to have that soap opera effect. It may be a matter of subjective taste, but most Hollywood movies are filmed in 24p still so it’s one of the simple ways to make your film more cinematic.

6. Shallow Depth of Field

Shallow depth of field isn’t always the best choice for a scene, and it can sometimes be overused today with all the full frame hype. But when shallow depth is used in the right shot, it can be very visually captivating and cinematic. To get shallow depth use a lens with a low f-stop – for example most prime lenses will go to 1.4 or 1.8. at least. The shallower depth pulls you into that frame, so we’re more focused on what the filmmaker wants us to see.

7. Camera Movement

With the popularity of camera gimbals these days, it’s easy to over-use camera movement, but when it’s done right and for the right reason in a scene, it can be more powerful than a static shot might be. Using a dolly or Steadicam or even monopod, are other tools you can use to add cinematic movement to your footage.

8. Slow Motion

Slow motion is another way to make your film more cinematic. It can inject a surreal quality to the scene and allow your audience to see things from a different perspective. Slo mo is a powerful tool, but use it wisely. Daniel-son, doesn’t always use the Crane Kick!

9. Use Softening Filters

Digital cameras have gotten so clean (and some might say clinical looking), that many cinematographers
today use softening filters in front of the lens to give scenes (especially of people) a more organic feel. We
use Schneider’s Hollywood Blackmagic filters. They just add a subtle softness and glow, that can really add
a cinematic feel to your footage.

What do you think about our 8 ways to make your film more cinematic? Let us know, and thanks for watching!

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THE EQUIPMENT WE USED TO FILM THIS VIDEO>> (Links to purchase go to Amazon):

-Rokinon 50mm T1.5 Lens – https://amzn.to/2NLeLni

-Canon C100/C300 – https://amzn.to/2u04CMm

-Schneider Black Magic Filter – https://amzn.to/2NOooRX

-Sony A7III (BTS & B-roll) – https://amzn.to/2CSlOtt

EQUIPMENT we use to film

-ARRI Skypanel s60 – https://amzn.to/2A67tXD
-Litepanels Gemini 2×1 Soft LED – https://amzn.to/2Mn8BJW
-Litepanels Astra (6x) – https://amzn.to/2OYdb3e

-ARRI Alexa Mini – https://litewavemedia.com/tampa-video-equipment-rental/
-Canon C300/C100 – https://amzn.to/2NuccGk
-Sony A7III – https://amzn.to/2L1Q8kQ

-Canon 24-105mm f/4 – https://amzn.to/2ILo9tp
-Canon 85mm f/1.2 II L – https://amzn.to/2KP1Xii
-Rokinon 50mm T/1.5 – https://amzn.to/2xngAEb
-Canon 24-70mm 2.8L II – https://amzn.to/2mRSlpz
-Fujinon Cabrio 20-120mm t/3.5 – https://amzn.to/2Irklu0

-Sachtler DV4II – https://amzn.to/2KTXbfH
-Sachtler Flowtech 75 – https://amzn.to/2xnCZ0w

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If you have any questions about making films, please reach out to us in the comments. Thanks for watching our 8 Ways to Make Your Film More Cinematic video!

Music by Jeffrey J Byron

Directed & Produced: Christian Cashmir

Cinematography: Sean Keller

Camera: Adam Barefoot & Sean Keller

Actors: Brielle Carter, Adam Barefoot

Grip: Brad Mamola

Photos: Catelyn Richard

Edit: Lucas Schatzberg

Social: Brianna Spieldenner

Web: Christopher John

Filmed on location at: Litewave Media in St. Petersburg, FL – Video Production Company in St. Pete, Florida.

Special Thanks to the St. Petersburg Clearwater Film Commission Digital Creator Program

Disclaimer: This video description contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission. It doesn’t cost any more for you, and helps support the channel so we can continue to make more videos like this. Thank you for your support!

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