How to Make Your Film Look Cinematic When Your Lighting Setup is Less Than Ideal
One of the most common questions young filmmakers ask is, "How do I make my film look cinematic?" Usually the answer is "good lighting", but what if you don't have access to any?
This is an issue Simon Cade of DSLRguide tackles in one of his newest videos, in which he uses 100% natural light to produce images that have that desired "cinematic" aesthetic. In it he explains what other aspects of filmmaking you can focus on to capture beautiful, professional-looking images if your lighting setup is less than ideal. Check it out below:
Cade also uploaded a video of the images he shot in his tutorial, complete with the different looks they capture:
Pro Tip: There's a lot that goes into making a shot "cinematic". Sure, your camera can do some of the work, but things like lenses, costuming, set design, camera movement, and most importantly, lighting are the true workhorses that produce this look. (Cade used a Canon T3i for the video, by the way.) Here are the 4 things Cade lists that will help you make up for bad, or at least less than special lighting:
- Locations and sets
The key to each of these things is that they help to create an emotional impact on the viewer. For instance, shooting a scene against a plain white wall won't create as big of an impact as shooting one against a vibrant red wall. Try to find locations that are peculiar, different, and interesting. Use colors overflowing with aesthetic energy that evoke emotions. (We talk a lot of about how to use color for storytelling here.)
This list includes extremely important and helpful things that create better, more powerful images, but it's by no means complete. I'd especially include "composition" and "camera movement", since those two things, if done right, can not only help make your shots more interesting and rich, but they can also help communicate your story/theme/tone to your viewer.
And also, you know, having a great story and dynamic characters don't hurt.
How do you make your shots more dynamic when you don't have access to good lighting equipment? Let us know in the comments below.