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What is 'Cinematic?

2024/3/31

When watching movies, we often experience a special atmosphere and texture, which is referred to as 'Cinematic.' It distinguishes movies from other forms of visual media, providing a unique viewing experience. This term is widely used in the film industry. Have you ever been asked by clients to create videos with a 'Cinematic ,' even if it's just a one-minute video? This unique and impactful imagery is meant to grab the audience's attention immediately, capturing their interest from the very first second. However, achieving this is not a simple task. So how do you respond to clients asking for that 'Cinematic'?



 

 

Opening Scene 《 Dune 》(2021)

 

1.Story and Characters

 

Create a story and dynamic characters that belong to your world. A strong story beginning can intrigue the audience, making them want to know more about the story behind it. The ups and downs in the middle create dynamism, influencing the audience's emotions and feelings. Conveying this feeling can be done through setting and character makeup. Choosing the right actors is crucial; their appearance and personality should blend seamlessly into the world you're creating, and their interactions and emotions with the surroundings should convince the audience that they truly belong in that environment or situation. Most importantly, they should not interact with the camera. The audience should feel like they're merely observers in their 'lives.' This sense of genuine detachment is also a part of achieving the cinematic feel. For example, in the movie 'Dune' (2021), the epic world-building begins with an environment far from the audience's everyday life - a marine planet instead of a realistic setting. The desert environment allows the audience to imagine the realm of this location. The young male protagonist's background as a noble and warrior adds to the dynamic and challenging setting. This feeling forms the cornerstone of creating a cinematic feel and is indispensable.




2.Photography, Cinematography, and Editing

 

Once we have a compelling storyline and well-developed characters, the cinematographer translates these elements into visuals, using various camera equipment and movements to effectively convey each scene to the audience. They excel at employing different photographic techniques such as composition, depth of field, perspective, and contrast to create depth and a sense of layers. The use of camera movements, coupled with post-production editing, can also add dynamism and drama to the visuals. For instance, tracking shots and camera movements can enhance tension and suspense, while slow-motion and fast-paced editing can create dramatic effects. Skillful application of these techniques can immerse the audience further into the story, deepening the cinematic experience.

 

In the movie "Inception" (2010), as the characters delve into each layer of dreams, director Christopher Nolan and cinematographer Wally Pfister meticulously crafted shots, transitioning from slow-motion to accelerated motion, complemented by the camera's movements and post-processing, to maintain coherence and order throughout. This extreme visual aesthetic is one aspect of the cinematic feel. Therefore, achieving this visual sensation requires the use of lightweight and compact cameras and lenses to ensure that the entire filming process can be completed quickly and efficiently. DZOFILM's Vespid is tailored for such shooting scenarios. With its comprehensive focal range, lightweight design, and consistent gear pitch, it allows for seamless transitions and versatile shooting options, bringing even more cinematic feel to the film.


《 Inception 》(2010)


 

3.Lighting and Color Grading

 

Artificial lighting serves to enhance the depth and narrative of the visuals, with considerations for brightness, color temperature, and placement. When light falls on actors, its sharpness or softness can vividly portray character personalities, enhancing the actors' expressiveness. Such lighting techniques are not commonly seen in reality. In movies, cinematographers enhance them, allowing for interactions between light and shadow, creating the sophisticated cinematic feel generated by lighting. Of course, certain items relevant to the plot or requiring emphasis are highlighted to create visual focal points, allowing the visuals to speak for themselves. When these artistic treatments are further refined through color grading in post-production, the visuals achieve a balance of black and white and color, evoking a painterly, cinematic grandeur. High-quality movie lenses can precisely capture every pixel illuminated by light, smoothly transferring colors onto the screen, with full-frame lenses excelling in this mission. DZOFILM offers a wide range of full-frame movie lenses, providing creators with superior quality choices. From the fixed focal length Vespid to the zoom Catta and wide-angle Pavo, all are larger than full-frame Vista Vision.

 

Catta Zoom

 

 

Pavo Anamorphic

 

 

Vespid Prime

 

 

Speaking of lighting, it's impossible not to mention the recent film "Barbie" (2023). When the protagonist Barbie is in the Barbie world, cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto chose to brighten the lighting, using challenging flat lighting with low contrast and almost no shadows, making the character's face and background resemble a toy world, an unreal realm. The high-saturation color grading in post-production also affects the final visual perception. However, when the protagonist enters the real world of Los Angeles, the contrast between light and dark on her face significantly increases, with light and shadow present in the surroundings. The face appears more three-dimensional, and there's depth between the background and the characters. The color grading also becomes more natural and restrained. Lighting and color grading thus become the painters of the cinematic world, crafting the cinematic feel.


Barbie World, "Barbie" (2023) 



Real World, "Barbie" (2023)


4.Sound and Music

 

The "audiovisual language" - can't be separated from "listening." It's one of the most crucial perceptions besides what the eyes see when watching a film. Elements such as background music, sound effects, dialogue, and off-screen narration can enhance emotional expression and create atmosphere in the visuals. By designing sound recording, mixing, and editing, the right blend of sound complements the visuals, transforming them into a multidimensional experience, allowing the audience to immerse themselves and feel the emotional resonance of the film. Additionally, post-production sound effects processing can create a realistic environmental feel and enhance the immersive audiovisual experience, amplifying the impact and cinematic feel of the film. Taking the example of the 95th Academy Awards Best Sound winner "Top Gun: Maverick" (2022), sound designer Al Nelson incorporated a plethora of sound designs such as aircraft carriers and jet engine effects seamlessly into the plot, effortlessly placing the audience in the same scenarios as the film. With up to 72 sound artists creating grandiose sound effects for the film, combined with the masterful editing of editor Eddie Hamilton, rarely heard sounds were interwoven into the soundtrack, creating an epic auditory spectacle.




Audio and video editing timeline footage, "Soaring Ambition: The Lone Wanderer" (2022)


In summary, to create a genuine cinematic feel, effort must be dedicated to aspects such as storytelling, characters, cinematography, lighting, editing, and sound effects. The harmonious coordination of these elements can evoke emotional resonance in the audience, immersing them in the world of the film. Through meticulous craftsmanship and professional technical application, we can meet clients' expectations of a "cinematic feel" and deliver unforgettable cinematic experiences. Whether through captivating storylines, outstanding visual effects, or moving music, we have the capability to take the audience on a heart-pounding cinematic journey.

 

 

References:

https://www.quora.com/What-gives-a-movie-its-cinematic-look-1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0d2UpBIFgYI

https://ymcinema.com/2022/08/31/top-gun-maverick-the-avid-media-composer-timeline/

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1745960/fullcredits/?ref_=tt_cl_sm