How to Make a Cinematic Scene

How to Make a Cinematic Scene

Bella C |

It seems that the question asked is how to make the short film you make feel cinematic, not comparing movies and TV series? This is a very short question, but the answer requires a comprehensive film culture. Today, let's start simply from the director's side.

The Concept of Visual Unit

The so-called visual unit is how to express the script written in words on the screen.

How to break down the script into directorial units, convert the directorial units into visual units, and finally turn the visual units into individual shots.

When you read a script and read a scene, you can do it in a hundred ways, none of which is absolutely good or absolutely right, but, there is only one way how to do it, only one way that will best serve the story needs of your film and reflect your individual style. (There is only one suitable way to present the story and reflect your individual style)

I won't expand it here. In the process of pre-visualization, there are two basic ways to shoot stories.

Coverage vs. Shot by Shot Style

Coverage means to shoot all the actions, dialogues, etc. in a scene with different angles and lenses.

Shot by Shot Style means not standardized style of the shoot, where every shot is carefully planned. A scene is shot from a out.

A simple understanding is that when pre-visualizing a film without a cinematic feel, the director just wants to say how to shoot a story completely, while the shots of a film with a cinematic feel are carefully designed to help promote the story, and it exists independently. significance.

 Being Cinematic - Composition in Photography

If you learn film shooting and production, one of the questions that many people ask at the beginning stage is "how to make the things you shoot have a cinematic feel". The reason why a movie has a cinematic feel is not only ingenuity in photography, but also in art, props, lens language design, Blocking and Sequencing (performance and movement), Pre-visualazations (pre-visualization), and sound design. Cooperation can achieve results.

(The following article assumes that readers have a certain basic knowledge of photography)

The first question that people often ask on filming forums is "how to make the shoot looks cinematic". I feel that in terms of "movie feel", it is necessary to distinguish between Western Hollywood-style films and some low-budget micro-films.

Even though the expensive effects of Hollywood movies are sometimes very difficult to replicate with some low-cost means, there are some basically simple and zero-cost shooting ideas that can make your movie look like a "Hollywood movie" (" cinematic"). Whether it is a film camera or a flat camera, it will make you different from the average photographer.

From a photographic point of view, I would like to divide the following film-making part into 5 elements:

Framing, Lensing, Camera and Camera Movement, Lighting, Color

Of course these 5 aspects aren't the only cinematic aspect, but I think it's one of the basic criteria that differentiates Hollywood-style movies from home video.

Photographers put a lot of effort into learning composition, such as the nine-square method, the golden ratio point, diagonal composition, etc... I don't want to talk about the basics, but there are indeed some areas in so many compositions that I think are more important to distinguish the sense of film.

There are a few things you need to keep in mind when picking up the viewfinder---

Frame Size (the size of the image)

When communicating with the director in the early stage of the film to be shot, you need to clarify what size of screen you want to shoot. The popular sizes are 1.33 : 1, commonly known as 4 * 3, 1.78 : 1, also known as 16 * 9, 1.85 : 1 (that is, the so-called Academy, which is popular in recent years, and the name changes every year) or 2.35 : 1 (widescreen) or 2.40/2.39 : 1 (I call electronic widescreen because they output 1920*800)

What size to choose should meet the narrative requirements of the story. Although a lot of people think that widescreen is tall, but in many narrative situations, widescreen is not powerful. If your story has a huge cast and great art, then a widescreen will help your ambient expression. If you choose widescreen and your movie has nothing but white walls, then the wider screen audience will just get bored. Conversely, if your story is a very intimate romance, or if you're shooting in a limited location with a lot of stuff you'll have to put off the screen, then widescreen is obviously not the best choice. If the height of the actors in your movie is very different, there are old people and children... Like 1.33, which was very popular in the past few years, in the 1.66:1 picture you can easily express some very intimate pictures without being too intimidating. Compromise because of frame size. Although now 1.33 has become a "sense of TV series".

The choice of screen size should be negotiated at the earliest stages of pre-production, even before the story board. Like the movie The Dark Knight (Batman, 2008), they made two versions of imax and 2.35 spherical, but the director decided to break the tradition and mixed the two sizes of pictures. This bold move resulted in a very beautiful result. Once again confirmed the "no theorem of making movies" theory.

Building the Frame

Now you have the frame, but what to put in it? Thousands of articles and tutorials teach you what and where to put in your screen, but when looking at Hollywood-style movies and low-budget microfilms, it's "screen depth" that is important in composition. about the Chinese, this screen depth is not the depth of field, but a range in Hollywood movies where the setting and environment in the background are deliberately set for actors to perform. Many micro-movies were shot in very small locations, such as small rooms, small shops, and the like. On the contrary, Hollywood shoots in a large venue space, uh... This is indeed the production (film scale) of people who are rich and handsome, which makes it difficult for grassroots to imitate, but there are some things that can still increase the screen depth of hanging silk micro-movies .

One of the easiest and easiest ways to do this is to not place your subject in front of the wall. Not only will your light master be grateful to you, but you'll also get better angles and depth right away.

The second method is to shoot against the corner of the wall. This is a common simple trick, and shooting against the diagonal of a room will add depth to the space. Move your camera to the diagonal of the wall, or at least see the corner of the wall, to make your frame look instantly taller.

Third, bring the outside view into the room. If you are shooting where there are windows, add indoor lighting so everyone can see outside. You can even take a green screen shot and pretend to be outside. Many times novices tend to like to block the window or blow out the window, but if you can bring the scenery outside the window into the picture, you will often find that these inconspicuous exterior scenes strongly imply the environment, making the picture open very beautifully and letting the picture Depth dramatically increases.

Fourth, if you're shooting outdoors, try to take some landmark buildings to let the audience know where you are. If you are in the field, you can put the house or tractor in the background. If you're in a city, let the audience see the three streets behind the actor. These backgrounds do not need to be in focus and can be blurred, but these elements must be there.

Finally, I would like to talk about the impact of depth of field on the screen. Many, many people mistakenly believe that "large aperture and shallow depth of field" equals "movie feel". Depth of field is only one of the many elements that make up the feeling of a movie. It doesn't mean that you open the aperture wide and "wow" the movie feeling comes out. If you really pay attention when watching a movie, then shallow depth of field is usually only used in two of the following situations in Hollywood movies:

The first is that if you're shooting a semi-wide shot with a lot of information, you need to direct your audience's attention to something important. Imagine that there are about 20 group performances in a roadside cafe, and then you need the audience to notice that our superhero is answering the phone. At this time, we need to use a shallow depth of field to guide the audience "what to watch".

The second use of shallow depth of field in Hollywood movies is when shooting close-ups and medium shots. Shallow depth of field can help the audience focus on the content of the dialogue.

In addition to the above two points, feature films have already spent a lot of money to get a filming license for a venue, and they really want to shoot them all for you to see "Look, this place is amazing. Look, look, it cost a lot of money here. ." So establishing shots must be deep depth of field. And the dialogue between multiple people is also a deep depth of field. Deep depth of field will make your images look advanced, grander and more expansive. Many micro-movies look claustrophobic because the depth of the field is not enough.


Therefore, when you watch a Hollywood blockbuster, think about it and feel it, and think about the depth when composing the picture. You will be amazed that the picture you shoot will have a qualitative leap.

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.