January 14, 2017

Learn How to Make Your Footage Look More Cinematic in Adobe Premiere Pro

Making your images look cinematic doesn't end once the camera stops rolling.

Filmmakers are always looking for ways to make their footage look more cinematic. And while any seasoned vet would tell you that good lighting, camera movement, and set design are the key elements for pulling it off, they're not the only ways to give your images that sought after "film look." In this Adobe Premiere tutorial, Peter McKinnon shows you how powerful color grading can be in making your shots look that much better.

It's a bit of a myth that you need the latest camera and a whole bunch of expensive gear to make your films look, well, like a film. I admit, I certainly believed that when I first started out. However, so much more goes into making a film look cinematic, rather than your run-of-the-mill home movie. And yes, while post-production software like Premiere Pro can give you an aesthetic boost when you need it, it's incredibly important to understand that that kind of fix-it-in-post philosophy will lead to more problems than solutions, because it's difficult to fix poor exposure and a boring story in post.

If you truly want to make your film more cinematic, invest in lighting, use a dolly, slider, jib, or stabilizer to move your camera around, be intentional when you dress your set and your actors, and most importantly, have a good story to tell. These are the essentials that will give you a good foundation to work from when you do head into post to do your grade, and once you do, McKinnon's advice in this tutorial will really do you some good.      

Your Comment

14 Comments

This is my go to technique: https://vimeo.com/169517711

January 14, 2017 at 6:19PM, Edited January 14, 6:19PM

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Lane McCall
Producer/Director
358

Awesome.

January 16, 2017 at 8:05PM

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Brian
174

Loving this video. It's pretty much my workflow and sneaky tricks to make footage look more "cinematic"!
My question is about the actual shooting and acquisition of the footage. Any tips on how to shoot and what your flat footage should look like if you know you will be editing towards a lot of contrast to create that punchy feel?
My issue always seems to be skin tones. I'll shoot flat footage and then in the edit I create a nice looking cinematic contrasty image but the faces and skin tones are way off!

January 14, 2017 at 6:43PM, Edited January 14, 6:57PM

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Dave A
Freelance Videographer
8

Windowing or selective colour values to protect or change.

January 15, 2017 at 1:18AM

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Jonathon Sendall
Stories
874

Dave A, I ran into this same issue. As Jonathon has already suggested, windowing or selective color works great.

For myself, I find selective color is -- by far -- the best choice. Give a search in google for 'isolating skin tones' and you'll find tons of tutorials. For me I use a separate node with the ink dropper to hone in on the skin tones, tweak it to maximize how much skin tone is affected (with minimal effects on the non-skin tones), then a simple saturation boost to return some color and 'pop' to the skin.

I'm not a pro colorist, but selective color + saturation boost on the skin tones hasn't failed me yet.

January 15, 2017 at 2:09AM

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Why hasn't Adobe made it possible to import a still from your footage into Photoshop, make your color and contrast corrections there and use that correction back in Premier?

January 15, 2017 at 11:44AM

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Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
983

There is. You take a still on Premiere, import that still to Photoshop, you do your adjustments, save as lumetri preset, go back to you Premiere and you could import that lumetri preset. You could Youtube it probably could explain better.

January 16, 2017 at 1:31AM

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Keith Kim
Photographer
1421

Well... OK. Didn't realize that. Thanks!

January 17, 2017 at 11:17AM

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Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
983

No problem, I haven't really used this in awhile since photoshop has lumetri speed grade type of adjustments already. But only down fall of using this is that you can't make any adjustments to your presets after you do this. For instance this will only work in static shots. If you have any shots that moves where the exposure or color temp changes, its not going to go well. I mean you could always add more adjustments to it I guess.

January 17, 2017 at 12:58PM, Edited January 17, 12:58PM

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Keith Kim
Photographer
1421

I meant premiere has, sorry.

January 17, 2017 at 4:28PM, Edited January 17, 4:29PM

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Keith Kim
Photographer
1421

I know it's stating the obvious, but the problem with lots of 'footage' is that it tends to be whatever beginners shoot before they have any real projects in mind. Nobody really makes films about cats, the local park or cars passing at night. So they tend not to look filmic, however much teal you can push into the shadows.

If we spent as much time/money finding interesting things to film (or interesting places to film in) as we do on gear and tutorials, we'd be so much closer to a 'filmic' result before we even sit down to grade.

This, of course, doesn't mean we shouldn't learn about grading and other post. So thanks to all those providing tutorials.

January 15, 2017 at 4:56PM, Edited January 15, 4:59PM

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Got it. Click on Color, click on footage, wiggle bars until it looks the way you want.

January 16, 2017 at 7:59PM

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Brian
174

Technically this isn't color correction at all, as this guy states. This is color grading. He doesn't do any color correction in this video.

January 17, 2017 at 10:26AM

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Lane McCall
Producer/Director
358

Adobe premiere pro is one of the best app we can use for making movie based videos. I really like this very much.
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February 6, 2017 at 7:53AM

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Samihah Kassis
Florist
8