We talk a lot around here about the importance of achieving a cinematic quality in your film and/or video projects, but we also understand that, for those who don’t have much, if any, experience with film and/or video production, a cinematic quality isn’t always easily definable.
What makes one video more cinematic than the next? Well, a few things, and a lot of it comes down to the capabilities of the people you have creating your video, whether they’re in-house or you have to reach out, as well as the equipment you have access to, but there’s more to it than that.
As a NY / NJ video production company that prides itself on our ability to bring a cinematic quality to every project we work on, we thought we’d pass on a few tips for ensuring that you get people who are up to the task and that you do all you can on your end to make your videos more cinematic.
Don’t wait for production to begin.
For many businesses and marketers that aren’t too familiar with film or video production, they automatically think that they have to wait for the actual production phase to begin for any opportunities to start making things more cinematic, but that’s not the case.
Whether you’re doing most of the envisioning yourself or you’re working with an outside film and/or video production company, there’s plenty that can be done early on in pre-production to start generating that cinematic feel.
So, while things like scripting and storyboarding may not always be in the cards, such as if you’re making a documentary, when they are, you need to make sure that either you or the production people you’re working with are actively looking for ways to ultimately make the project more cinematic during those phases.
For more on the importance of pre-production and some tips, check out this post, Film and Video Pre-Production Tips for Creating a Better Production and Better Project, but the bottom line is that you’ll have more time to think and envision during pre-production.
So, rather than waiting for the chaos that is film & video production to begin on set, take it from us as a longtime video production company in NJ and NY, do yourself a favor and start thinking cinematically as early on in pre-production as possible.
A shallow DOF is key.
Like mentioned above, there are several elements that contribute to a film or video being labeled as cinematic, but one of the defining characteristics would have to be a shallow depth of field.
For those who don’t know, a shallow depth of field is simply when only a certain portion of the image is actually in focus while the rest appears somewhat blurry.
It’s a great way to draw attention to a certain area or object within the frame, which is often why the technique is applied in film and video, and there’s just something about the look it creates that screams cinematic.
The thing is, some cameras are better equipped to achieve a shallow DOF than others, and having telephoto lenses is also a big help. So, whether you’re going to be handling the production in-house or you’re reaching out for help, make sure the people doing it have the necessary equipment.
And, as always, speak with them about your intentions and preferences when it comes to things like this and look for examples of these kinds of shots in their previous work. For more on that, check out this post, The Shallow Depth of Field: Why It’s so Effective and How to Achieve It.
Lighting is keyer.
Now, while ensuring you get some great shots which utilize a shallow depth of field definitely goes a long way toward generating that cinematic feel, dramatic lighting is absolutely essential to the cinematic look.
It all starts with the basic three-point lighting setup, which, you guessed it, only requires three lights: a key light, fill light, and back light. For more on that, check out this post from ReelSEO, The Three Point Lighting Technique – Add Dimension to Your Videos.
Now, it’s not that you’re limited to three lights, of course, but just that you can make things look professional and cinematic this way. Honestly, you can achieve a dramatic look with a single light, but that will lead to a very specific atmosphere and tone that won’t work for every project.
From there, it’s up to the people producing your video to use the lights to create some contrast and a sense of drama. Low-key, or chiaroscuro, a style of lighting dominated by darker tones, is also great for creating a dramatic look.
Again, this leads to a certain atmosphere that may not work for every project, but the good news is that it doesn’t take much to attain since the darkness is key. The point is, the way you or the people you’re working with use the lights you have available to you will be critical to achieving a cinematic look.
There’s even more to it than that.
From there, like mentioned at the top, much of achieving the cinematic look comes down to the talent and experience of the people you have doing it, as well as the kind of equipment you have access to.
Do you or the production people have prime lenses? Experience with color grading? How about an ability to compose cinematic shots? Then there’s post-production and all the possibilities to be cinematic that phase presents. Quality camera movement is also critical to the look.
For more on that, check out this post, 3 Ways Effective Camera Movement Can Help Tell Your Story, but the bottom line is that there’s a reason so many people creating videos are striving to achieve a cinematic look. In fact, there are a lot of reasons, perhaps none more important than cinematic content’s capacity to captivate viewers and give them a reason to keep watching, which is not an easy thing to do these days.
About Us: KVibe Productions, a full-service film & video production company in NJ / NY, can handle every aspect of the production process. Whether it’s a corporate video production, a commercial video, a feature film, etc., at KVibe, we create to inspire.