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Many filmmakers aspire to creating a
film look with their DSLR footage also known as a cinematic look – because this sort of film appears professional and is interesting to watch. But what exactly is the film look? A film look is broadly defined as the look and feel of the footage you would see in a feature film. As you know there are many techniques involved in
creating video, but there are a few which are especially important to achieve this
look. This look is best achieved through
techniques involving both the settings of the camera
capturing the video, as well as editing in the post-production stage. Creating a film of some sort starts with the camera, so it makes sense that the camera settings are especially important in controlling
the look of footage. It is still possible to create a cinematic look in post-production with just about any
footage, but controlling the camera settings will give you much greater control over
the final product. First up, make sure that the camera is
operating in manual mode to allow for complete control of the
settings. In most Canon DSLRs this setting is called Movie Exposure – so
make sure that this is set to manual. A frame rate of 24 or 25 franes per second is one of
the most important aspects of shooting video that will look like film. The frame rate is one factor that changes the amount of motion blur in footage, and this is why it is so distinctive from other formats. I can’t show you what
30 frames per second or 50 frames per second looks like, because this tutorial itself is being played
back at 25 frames per second, however it easy to find examples. If you search for comparison of frame rates on the internet you will get a taste of what the others feel like. High frame rates have an odd feel to them. The technical reason for this is that the motion is smoother and
there is less motion blur than traditional film. Also, we have been conditioned to perceive
24 or 25 frames per second as film, because
this is the traditional frame rate shown in cinemas. Higher frame rates look more realistic but realism is not
what we’re looking for in this case. You can change the frame rate of Canon
DSLR’s under the movie recording size. The shutter speed also changes look of motion blur, and so this needs to be matched with the
framerate. The general rule is that for natural-looking motion set
the shutter speed at double the frame rate. This means that when filming at 24 or 25
frames per second, choose a shutter speed of fifty. This is
known as the 180-degree shutter rule and it comes from the traditional shutter size of film cameras. Here’s an example of what a high shutter
speed can look like. As you can see the motion of the cars appears to stutter. This is what a shutter speed of 1/50th of a second at 25 frames per
second looks like. The motion of the cars appears more natural. A shallow depth of field is usually associated with the film look.
Depth of field is the distance between the nearest and
furthest objects that are in focus. A shallow focus means that you can get
shots that look like this. The subject is in focus and the
background is blurred. This is good for directing the attention
of the viewer. A deep focus works better for wide shots when you want to keep everything in
focus. To control the depth of field, adjust the aperture. The f/stop:
value controls the aperture: a lower f/stop value means a wider aperture (and a shallow depth of field), while a higher f/stop value means a smaller
aperture and a deeper depth of field. It’s reversed to what you think. To
control the exposure change the ISO setting. In bright daylight the picture might still be overexposed at
the lowest ISO when you have the aperture wide open so you will have to reduce the aperture
and sacrifice the shallow depth of field to maintain a proper exposure (Correction: Please see comments on ND Filters). By default, most cameras increase contrast and
sharpness while filming.This makes footage look good right out of the camera, but if you intend to
color-correct footage later it reduces the flexibility that you have.
Many cameras have a neutral picture style preset for this reason. Make sure that you enable this to have more flexibility in post-production. Remember that you can always add
contrast or sharpness later. Whatever footage you have to work with you can always make it look better in
post-production. A common issue with low budget DSLR filmmaking is making smooth camera movements. A shaky effect can have its applications but in most feature films you’ll see
that the camera movements are silky- smooth. The professionals use hardware stabilisers like this, but these are expensive. We can achieve a
similar effect with the software that we already have.
Beginning with after-effects CS 5.5 and Premiere CS6, Adobe included an effect called Warp Stabilizer which is super easy to use. To use Warp Stabilizer search for it in the effects panel and drag it onto your footage. It will start to analyze the motion in your
footage and then try to stabilize it after it does
some processing. Keep in mind that it could increase render times a fair amount, and that it usually reduces the resolution slightly. In some cases artefacts appear when the
footage is too shaky. Sometimes lowering the smoothness
in the effects control panel can help but this could just mean that the clip
just isn’t suitable for stabilization. This effect usually works
great without any tweaking, but you can adjust the settings for your taste. The smoothness control does just what it says: it controls the amount of smoothing applied. along with stabilizing the footage for smooth motion, Warp Stabilizer can also make the camera look completely still. To do this change the motion result to
“No Motion”. This is helpful for shots that should have
been done on a tripod but weren’t. One of the most powerful ways to change
the emotion of a shot is through color grading. Feature films use color grading to convey the mood of
footage visually. For example: dark blues convey a depressed or dark tone while warm colors suggest happiness. Without any color grading it is very hard
to achieve a cinematic look. Here’s an example of a shot with the original footage and the color graded footage side by side. you can see there is a massive difference. There are plugins that can automate color
grading but by doing it manually you can have full control. Some useful
tools built into Premiere and After Effects that will effectively grade your footage are RGB curves and Three-Way Color Corrector. Other compositing applications have similar effects. You can use RGB curves to adjust the
darkness of the darks and brightness of the highlights in your
footage. To start using RGB Curves, search for it in the effects panel and then
drag it onto your footage. You will see these graphs on the left here.
Basically this graph shows the highlights and darks of your footage and by adding a point to it you can change the
response of these different areas of your
footage. A popular cinematic look is to have the darks darker and to make the
highlights even brighter. To do this, add two points to your line by clicking on it; bring the
bottom point lower, and bring the top point higher to increase the highlights. How you change the curve depends on the
footage that you have and the effect you are looking for. For example, a comedy short film will have a different look to a thriller. The Three-Way Color Corrector effect can change the color tone of the darks, mids and highlights of your footage. To use it; search for it in the effects panel and drag it onto your footage. Once we scroll down here we can see there are three circles for each of the parts of your image –
the shadows, the midtones and the highlights. A popular cinematic effect is to make the
shadows a blue hue and to make the highlights a warm color. So to do this, we drag the circle for the
shadows to the blue part of the spectrum, and move the highlights circle into the orange and yellow part. There are an infinite number of ways to color grade footage so it’s best to experiment and see what you like. You will notice that
most films are not framed in the same aspect ratio that most DSLR footage is. Standard video from most consumer
cameras is in the 16 by 9 aspect ratio, also
known as widescreen while most modern films are shown in the 2.35 to one ratio, also known as ultra-widescreen. There
are numerous ways of achieving this ultra-widescreen effect in
Premiere, but the easiest way is adding black pass to the top and
bottom of the picture, also known as letter-boxing. You can achieve this by making an image
mask yourself in the right aspect ratio or downloading this image in the
description. After importing the image to Premiere you can use it by dragging it to a video
layer above your footage. It will then mask off the top and bottom with black bars. That’s all there is to it. One of the drawbacks of this method is
that you lose the detail at the top and bottom of your image, so it’s best to decide if you will use this
format before you start filming say can keep it in mind when you frame your shots.
So that’s the basics of achieving a film look with your footage. There isn’t one right way to developing this look, and there are all
sorts of plugins and overlays that you can apply to help the effect. As always the best way to learn is experiment with the tools that have –
because you don’t always know what you want until you see it. Thanks!

86 thoughts on “How to achieve a Film Look – DSLR film making

  1. I feel like too many people overdue the color grading or rush it to a point where it just looks silly. Most big budget movies ive seen have more subtle color grading than some of the stuff shown by people trying to teach the technique.

  2. Hi! I tried 25 fps video.But after i added warp stab. in premiere pro,when i exported the file,i got a vibrating video.Any advice?

  3. I dont understand why all filmmakers say, that we should film im 25 fps, in my opinion 25 fps is soooo lagggyyyy and cant be used in slow motion

  4. Thank you for this awesome video , I've one small question please !
    Does those settings apply to mirrorless cameras ? And which lense should i go into

  5. I have no idea why I watched it (perhaps because I own dslr) since I am not planning on making movies.
    I have still enjoyed this πŸ™‚ now even tempted to try some of tricks here. Up from me.

  6. Great video should be standard issue to anyone new to DSLRs – You have the gift of sharing whilst not talking down to your audience. Bravo!

  7. Letterboxing with an image is the worst thing you could do, its better to adjust the sequence to 1920X822 for 21:9 Aspect ratio, and 192X720 for an animorphic look

  8. what would you suggest for a better look? lower ISO with no ND filter or higher ISO with an ND filter? i feel like i get way more contrast in the picture using the filter..and somehow the noise feels more cinematic

  9. My head and eyes hurts see too much up close and blurry shoots too soon. You're not letting the eyes and brain adjust! 4 sec at least in between each spinning up close blurry background footage thingy your doing while shooting your cam in the beginning.

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  11. Great video, I've just started posting videos, and wouldn't mind someone checking them out and giving me their honest opinion, if you can

  12. Great work Jake! This is the best tutorial – so comprehensive in such a short time, really well done! Thank you!

  13. You don't have to sacrifice the depth in bright light. Simply use an ND filter. Don't always shoot wide open. Watch professional films and learn when to shoot shallow and when not to. Learn how to color correct and color grade (separate things). Biggest beginner mistake is to crank up that color grade on your footage. Generally beginner films have way too much contrast and color in them. You want to correct your image and then gently layer in the "effects" once it has been corrected.

  14. Sometimes you would do something diffrent to be crewtive so. The we 25 fps is just cause you are use to it, and not cause it look better. I would say that a 60fps movie look way better thant 25 fps.

  15. Everything is fine, except for the color grading. I think you’re contrasts look too high and it makes it look artificial. Other than that everything looks amazing.

  16. The video is pretty good, but you missed two things, sound and lighting. They are more important to the film look than anything on this list. Also you got the aspect ration wrong, you should avoid adding a png letterbox overlay at all costs. On an ultra wide monitor, a 16:9 aspect ratio with a png on it wouldn't show up properly, and you would have black bars all around the image. As well as that, if viewed on a low resolution the edge between the footage and the black bars would be pixelated and blurry.

  17. "A film look is broadly defined as the look and feel of the footage you would see in a feature film."

    Please don't say anything so stupid ever again.

  18. I feel like a pro now after watching this. Then i will slam my keyboard because i cant figure out what you just did. LoL

    IF YOU FILMED IN 1920:1080 JUST USE 1920:800-820 INSTEAD.

  20. If you want shallow DOF in daylight when your ISO is already the lowest it'll go you can put an ND filter on your lens to cut some light so you don't have to close down your aperture and lose that shallow DOF you originally wanted.

  21. Im extremely new to film making. The color grading that you showed looks really low budget to me. Is this something that is unavoidable for someone on a budget?

  22. When I doubled the shutter speed for example 24fps with 50 shutter speed exposure got extreme all white, how to correct this

  23. Hi mate thanks for making this video. I am in Canberra and wanting to make short film on DSLR can you help me in this project. If you are in Canberra lets meet up

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