How to achieve a cinematic look? 8 Tips for your film skills

Vamify Felix

Posted on February 22 2019

how to achieve a cinematic look


Achieving the cinematic film look

This piece is meant for beginners and shall present ways to improve the look of your next production.

1. Proper Planning

Before you head out to shoot, there are some important decisions to be made. Depending on the time, the locations and the amount of your upcoming shots, you will need to plan ahead.
The first step would be to develop a shot-list. This not only helps you with your time management, but also to keep the overview? Try to picture your production, how many cameras will you use? What camera-angles are needed? In addition, if you want to shoot a scene at night you will need to bring artificial light to your set. If you shoot at noon you should bring along filters and reflectors. Write a list of all the gear you want to use while shooting. This includes proper sound equipment and a “dead cat” if it gets to windy. Good planing will safe you, time, money and a lot of nerves. Remember practise makes perfect, after a couple of shoots, the planning will soon become easier. You will learn what you really need and which equipment you never use while shooting.

2. Camera Work

The use of tripods, dollys and the like is quite expensive but has a huge effect on the look of your production. If you don't want to spend all your hard earned money on rentals or don't own a lot of equipment, fear not! All you need is a steady hand, practise and patience to achieve smooth and professional camerawork. Apart from that the prices of gimbals, tripods and sliders are not that steep anymore. Use what you have to your advantage. If you prefer or need exiting and active shots better stick to the hand-cam. But please don't over do it with hectic movements or your audience will rater feel nauseous than enthralled.

3. Film Crop overlay

Nothing screams cinematic look more than the cinematic crop. The black bars on top and bottom of your picture are a game changer for the professional look of your film. Try this Freebie Crop File for your next project! (Right click Save as)


4. Lighting

The light situation is one of the key essentials for achieving the cinematic look. Besides using natural light, depending on your budget, you can really achieve a high quality look using the right light units or if possible a professional lighting-gaffer.
If you ever wanted to learn the techniques and save cash on the long run, keep an eye out for our course on proper lighting, which will be released soon on Vamify.
Or if you have no time to wait for it, try out our “Stranger Light Leaks Pack” for your post- production.

5. Fitting Music

Do not underestimate the influence music has on your film. The emotions you want to evoke in you audience will be based almost primarily on the music you choose. We recommend to any freelancer on a tight budget. It has a great range of talented artist and you find matches for almost any mood. Another great but pricier place to find music is

6. Colour Grading

Colour grading has a big impact on your production, same as the music you choose. It will not only set the mood but can also become your signature for all your production. While you can correct and change a lot in post, I personally try to always start my filming with a proper white balance. This will save time in postproduction better spend on the over all colour scheme.
 We created our own cinematic LUT pack that helps you in creating a cool film look. This will work best, if you shoot your scenes with a flat gamma curve!

7. Progressing

As always practise makes perfect. So stick to your plan, finish your projects, adapt and improvise if needed. Time spend ahead of your shoot will always pay off in saving you from frustrating mistakes and hours in post production. Small thinks like the film crop overlay really make a big difference for the over all look of your projects. You don't need to stick to all of them, find your own look and visual language.

8. Bonus

Check out Peter McKinnon's camera hacks for additional inspiration on your camerawork and improvisations: 8 Camera hacks in 90 seconds

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