December 10, 2015 at 9:03AM


Can I achieve a film look with HD camcorder

Can I achieve a film look with HD camcorder?
Sony HDR-CX240 Full HD Handycam Camcorder.


and also from a HD Cybershot Or generally cheap HD video cameras

December 10, 2015 at 9:08AM, Edited December 10, 9:18AM


Can you set the camera to shoot at 24 frames per second? I see that it is capable of 60fps, but not sure if you can modify that. That'd be your first step.

Second, the sensor is very small, so in order to have control over your Depth of Field you may have to shoot long. In this case, I'd only use the optical zoom (not digital) and move farther away from the subject and zoom in on them. Then when you focus you should have more control over the depth of field. Otherwise, you're gonna be looking at a fairly flat image. That's fine in the cinema world, but can take away from important scenes where you want focus on one particular subject or object.

Aside from all that, the biggest thing that will help you with your film look is how you light your scenes. Definitely make that your strong point if the camera is a weak point. I'm curious to see what you come up with. Good luck with everything!

December 10, 2015 at 10:22AM

RJ Ortiz

The camera you are using ( Sony HDR-CX240 ) has a 1/6 of an inch sensor, so you can only produce shots with pretty much everything in focus. So take a look at the feature film "Tangerine" (2015) that was shot with the iPhone 5s, because that's pretty much the best look you can achieve with your camera in terms of DOF.

To compensate for the limitations of your camera you can do a few things to help give it a more "filmic" look...

1- Lighting : Use proper lighting to give your shots more drama. Flat lighting is not "filmic" while dramatic lighting is.

2- Shot Composition : Make sure you compose your shots well.

3- Good Audio : An audience can be very forgiving of a film's image if the audio is good, but definitely not the other way around. Crappy audio is just bad.

4- Use tools like FilmConvert to give your shots a "filmic" color-space, where you can choose from dozens of film-stock settings to transform your footage to look more like film.

These things, along with good story and acting will enable you to produce something that definitely feels "filmic" to the audience.

Also, I would not worry about frame rates. If you've got 24p as an option then definitely shoot with it, but if you don't I would not worry about it. Just make sure that your finished footage has NO interlacing artifacts, which is an obvious sign of an amateur camera.

December 10, 2015 at 10:47AM

Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer

One option you can look into is using a Depth Of Field adapter. That was all the rage before the DSLR revolution. They aren't really being manufactured most places as far as I know but you should be able to find one second hand on ebay or craiglist and such. There's a few name brand ones on ebay for good prices (Letus35, Cinevate35, etc...)

December 11, 2015 at 5:56AM

Alex Everingham
Video Editor

I recommend you watch the film Dancer in the Dark and then have a good long thought about what defines the "film look." It really depends on what style of film you are going for. Even something like the film Following would be a good watch for you. I would consider both of those very good films that look like films even though they were made with low quality cameras.

Audio is of utmost importance though if you can't get a great image. Overall though, just focus on making something cohesive and if the story is good, people will watch it.

December 11, 2015 at 10:21PM

Jeremiah Kuehne

Another way to look at it is that there are plenty of people who can't achieve the film look even with film - so pretty much what the others advised about using lighting, composition, colour, etc.

December 12, 2015 at 2:21PM, Edited December 12, 2:22PM

Saied M.

I have had that same camera before, it's not going to ever look cinematic. You are going to want to get a camera that has interchangeable lenses, that's gonna let you have blurred out background or (depth of field) thats common in pretty much any film. Frame rate must be 24 fps to get that motion blur effect, video looks fake and "news broadcasty" at 60 fps and no depth of field. Canon t2i or t3i or t4i or t5i is a good starting place to get into changeable lenses.

December 12, 2015 at 8:12PM

Graham Uhelski
Director of Photography/Video Editor

That obsession with blurred out background is so ridiculous. What about being obsessed with content instead? When I watch series that are in fashion these days, whether it's the Man in the High Castle, Transparent, etc, I'm noticing more and more that there is much less blurred background than I can see in more "traditional" films shot in the past. There's practically no blurred background in Tangerine and I guarantee you people went to see it in a theater. I wish people would be obsessed with writing instead.

December 13, 2015 at 7:31AM


Back in the day before de adapters and DLSR era, I used MiniDV cameras to do my first short films at school. And certainly I can tell you that you surely will be able to do some things that look cinematic enough if you do this:
1. Plan your shots, use wide, extremely wide, close ups, etc. keep variety
2. Try o keep your camera as stable as possible, especially if you don't have the option to shoot 24p o 30p. I shot films only with tripod with great results (back then we didn't had the chance to use sliders, glidecams etc.)
3. Progressive shooting will help, but even if you can't do it, you can deinterlace in post or even do pulldown with very decent results.
4. Zoom in the lens as much as possible in close ups (set the camera as far away as possible).
5. Grade your image to set the mood to your film, use color. It will help to fade away the "video look" to your audience.
6. Work with your lighting, try to make it as interesting as possible, work with contrast, levels, etc. Try to not blow up whites or make it too dark (unless of course you want to, but that's another story). Small video sensor require a lot of light in order to produce a pleasing image with little noise.
7. Work your audio, a great audio and sound design will help a lot.
8. I've should've mention this first, but try to use your camcorder in Full Manual Mode if possible.

That's for image, but, certainly, content is king. Make sure you have a good story and a good way to tell it. Best of luck to you!

December 13, 2015 at 12:27PM

Ulises Bravo
Filmmaker, DP


December 15, 2015 at 2:45PM


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