Learning from the big boys

Film reel blog title image

So many times we’ve heard of filmmakers wanting to incorporate high-end Hollywood style aesthetics into their creations, yet the budget simply won’t allow it. Well, there are many tricks that you can learn from the big boys, and they certainly don’t cost the earth. From pre to post production, there’s simple ways to bring a cinematic edge to your films.

Writing in Premium Beat, Caleb Webb gives his 9 tips for shooting cinematic footage, starting with storyboarding, “Storyboarding is one of the most overlooked yet vital aspects of filmmaking. While you may not be able to storyboard for every project (like, say a documentary), you should always be storyboarding for a narrative film. Storyboarding allows you to get the ideas from your head onto paper so you can share them with the rest of the crew. Even if you think you have an incredibly clear vision for your film in your head, you will inevitably run into a point on set where your original creative vision is getting a little fuzzy under pressure. Take time to storyboard each shot before you arrive on set. You don’t have to be the best artist in the world. Just jot down composition notes as best you can.”

Shooting in RAW is essential in gaining a Hollywood gleam to your videos. RAW saves all of your data to a card, giving you far greater control in the handling of colours, when the footage is in your chosen software.

PetaPixel gives an excellent lowdown on the pros and cons of shooting in RAW. Using dramatic lighting is another option, Dr. Robert G. Nulph writes, “Today's video cameras are so sensitive to light that it is sometimes hard to shoot on a sunny day without adding neutral density filters to your lens to cut down the intensity of the light. We live in an age where it's easy to achieve dramatic lighting with just a little know-how and some ingenuity.”

Dramatically lit forest

Now, onto editing, with a quick run through of the best video editing software. Adobe Premiere is most commonly used for editing software. For a cheaper version, Vague Ware have suggested Adobe Premiere Elements, “Adobe Premiere Elements, which is the lighter version of Adobe Premiere Pro, is one of the most popular software applications for video editing. Its basic features include multicam editing capabilities, intuitive closed captioning, speeding up or slow motion effects, and multi-GPU support. Transcoding and rewrapping are also easier done using this program. It can also instantly publish your videos to Vimeo.”

When talking about the Hollywood aesthetic, it’s a matter of narrowing it down to what exactly appeals to you, for example, one idea could be the great classical extravaganza’s of MGM and Warner Bros, starring the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Cary Grant, on the other hand the golden-hued movies of recent years might be what you're after. There’s a ton of advice out there for capturing whichever look you desire, and YouTube should always be your first go-to for handy tips.

If you’re working in Adobe Premiere Pro, YouTuber Alex Halford has a tutorial on creating a contemporary Hollywood look, in just over four minutes. To secure the true cinematic look, many video editors use Magic Bullet colour grading. However, with the software costing over £700, there are simpler ways to achieve a certain colour tone, as George from Big Air Media explains in his video.