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5 tips for more cinematic footage (filmed with a phone, ofc!)

In today’s episode, we want to share some quick ways to give your video a more “cinematic look.”

Ed Stennett image

Written by Ed Stennett

14 Sep, 2017  –  4 min read

In today’s episode, we want to share some quick ways to give your video a more “cinematic look.”

1. Shot variation

Our first tip is to have more than one camera shooting at a time, that way you can get a nice variation of shots. By approaching the same subject from a variety of angles and viewpoints, you automatically add an extra layer of dynamism to your video or to that scene.

If you’re already a Seenit user, then you’ve got a second, third, however many cameras that can capture different angles. But if you can’t have more than one camera, then try filming that scene from multiple angles yourself!

2. Shallow depth of field

Depth of field is basically the area in an image that will appear in focus. When you have shallow depth of field, this means a very small area of the image stays sharp and in focus. As you can see, using shallow depth of field, pulls your attention to what is in focus and everything else in the picture sort of melts away and creates this beautiful effect.

Now, that’s not to say that you should necessarily shoot everything with shallow depth of field and think you’ve got a cinematic masterpiece - in fact, a lot of people out there view it as a bit of a cliche. But if you use this technique with purpose, it can really lend impact to your story.

Shallow depth of field is used extremely effectively in A Handmaid’s Tale. Not only did it lend to creating a visually stunning program, it reinforced key themes of the show by allowing us to share Offred’s experiences and thoughts and to illustrate the limited perspective that the world of Gilead allows.

3. Slow motion

Slow motion can be a great tool for creating iconic and memorable moments.

It’s frequently used in action films and fight scenes, either to draw out the violence or to make the action more operatic and dramatic. In sci-fi and fantasy, it can show a character’s superhuman abilities.

It can help bring attention to detail that couldn’t be registered at normal speed.

It can also be used to get inside the head of a character, whether to express the moment someone falls in love, a heightened state of reality, or brash confidence.

Or to literally show a character’s altered perception from intoxication.

Slo motion is probably most associated with death scenes, as it gives the viewer more time to hold on to those last few moments of a character’s life.

4. Color and lighting

Do you want to create a specific colour palette to evoke a mood? An easy way to create a striking image is to capture high contrasting colors. (Use one clip with one color that stands out and another that is just a really nice color palette)

When you’re filming, check out where the light is coming from and figure out how to use it best. High contrasting shadow and light in a picture can give a sense of drama, mystery, or moodiness.

5. Fixing it up in Post

And finally, if all else fails, you can always fix up your video in post-production to up the “cinematic” quality with color grading, either to correct any colors that didn’t get captured when filming or to accentuate certain colors, and by adding mattes (those black bars) to put your video into a wider aspect ratio.

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