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View Full Version : 1 minute short film: Does this look cinematic?



Tracey Lee
07-23-2010, 09:00 AM
Hey fellow film makers. I would like your opinions here. I will cut right to it. I am not asking for any comments or opinions on the content/story of this film. I only want your opinions/suggestions on the over-all cinematic quality of this piece.

Any and all responses are welcome. I just want to know if you think it has a cinematic feel to include all aspects: framing, coloring, dof, etc etc.

Thanks in advance!

http://www.thesmalls.com/members/tracey-lee/films/love-note.go

GH13
Nikon 35mm

PS Sorry it's not viewable in its HD glory...haven't gotten it up to vimeo yet.

Lammy
07-23-2010, 09:22 AM
It's kinda hard to decipher whatcha mean by look cinematic, because the difference between cinema is the content, tone and length and you've restricted us from commenting that ;)


Especially in today's age when you get converging mediums like adverts (30 second short films...) and TV. However, their standards are incredibly high and to throw the word 'this is cinematic' would dilute the terminology. Because if that looks cinematic, than these would be super duper cinematic, and actual cinema would be off the scale. Very rarely would anyone say that in regards to those mediums, unless they were super lush like- like BMW or Guinness adverts.

So is this work cinematic? Nope!

Is it competently shot and have tone? Yes, you did a great job! =]

diego1235467
07-23-2010, 09:24 AM
I like it. Both the story and the look. I think your could have used one or two shots without something between the lens and the subject, but honestly it doesn't matter to me. I thought it looked pretty fantastic :)

Give us the link when it's on Vimeo!

And I agree with Lammy.

Blaine
07-23-2010, 09:28 AM
It has the look and feel of a television commercial to me.

Lammy
07-23-2010, 09:50 AM
Saying that though, what should be classed as 'cinematic' are emotions that are brought from out of the audience - a catharsis. This could come from the entire length of the movie through the story, performance, the music, or heck, even 1 shot.

Beauty adverts do it very well, albeit in a shallow and short cut way. For example cars on open horizons, or a few subliminal voice-over primer words about life. - because those are things we havent got must show us where we can go. Make us feel wow the world is so deeeep and beautiful man.

The lady in your advert does seem to have her own happy at the end, but the audience has not joined this lady on her journey. Unless I'm just retarded and don't understand the shaving legs metaphor - hence why I'm saying more specifically why it doesn't look nor feel cinematic. =] Ack, sorry I'm talking about the content again rather than the technical aspects.

I guess shooting on 35mm (the candles and blown highlights would roll off better...), and lighting more harshly (to sculpt shadows, her wrinkles and give shape) would also make it look more professionally too...

Vince K
07-23-2010, 09:54 AM
It has the look and feel of a television commercial to me.

+ 1....
looks good but to me does not look cinematic at all.

butler360
07-23-2010, 12:32 PM
I agree with the others, approaching cinematic but mostly reaching commercial.

Rory_B
07-23-2010, 12:53 PM
The lighting is too 1 dimensional to be cinematic. Even film with very even lighting tend to have texture.

You have one shot where I can see a candle is lit. You would have been better suited to use more candle and some ambient lighting to help create more shadows and definition.

Still looks nice, but feels like you went in to the bathroom and flipped on a switch and that was it.

I like available light shooting as much as anyone; however, even then you need to work to bounce it and create dimension.

Gary Huff
07-23-2010, 01:04 PM
I only want your opinions/suggestions on the over-all cinematic quality of this piece.

It looks like a local business commercial.

stoneinapond
07-23-2010, 01:06 PM
To me it's a matter of context. To echo Lammy 's comments, there's little emotional attachment to the subject, because of the length and the present lack of story.

And yes, the lighting be could be improved, as Rory mentions.

But some nice framing.

So IMHO, it could be cinematic in a bigger story, but because of its form, looks for now more like a commercial.

thisisapocalypse
07-23-2010, 03:08 PM
I have to say no due to lighting - lacks texture, depth, color, feels like a home movie to me. Exposure is part of telling the story and it's very flat leaning on underexposed and given the setting it ends up looking a bit dull. It doesn't look like you had control over the image, and I don't mean that to sound as harsh as it does, but to me something that looks cinematic has a certain "confident" look about it, it's solid, exposure is right, lighting and color are right, framing is right, depth/texture is right - now of course using the word "right" is all subjective, but I think in the end for any shot you just have to ask yourself "did I have control over this? Is this how I wanted it to look in my head?" if you end up answering yes to that, and what you want in your head is a cinematic image, then there's a good chance you'll have one on film.

I know it when my stuff looks good, and I know it when it doesn't, and that gap is huge. Look at the shot, if you could imagine it being projected in a movie theater as part of a movie of sufficient quality to be projected in a movie theater and it being in place there, then it looks cinematic, if you think it would look out of place under those circumstances, it probably is.

Erich Ocean
07-23-2010, 05:52 PM
I just want to know if you think it has a cinematic feel to include all aspects: framing, coloring, dof, etc etc.

I personally did not feel the framing was cinematic. In addition, I found the camera movement distracting, but I do recognize that a lot of films have a "shaky" camera. I personally think you would do well to add (a lot of) weight to the camera if you're going to handhold it -- or get a Steadicam Merlin.

I know you said not to mention the story, but the biggest thing IMO to the "cinematic" look is that it tells a story. Story is the defining characteristic of (narrative) cinema. I did not sense much of a story in the admittedly short film, but it can be done.

Put another way, I didn't think the visuals told a story -- hence, not cinematic. I'd wager that the "confidence" thisisapocalypse is talking about is related to the "telling a story" thing I'm talking about. In cinema, everything about a shot is the way it is for a reason, and that reason is to tell a story. What you achieved is what I would call a "mood". Nothing wrong with that, but it's secondary to telling a story -- and most of the mood came from Moby's music anyway (as is true in most films).

HDkilledFILM.
07-23-2010, 06:17 PM
#1 thing that makes this not cinematic for me is the dof. It's too flat.

#2 is the lighting, it's too flat.

#3 is the fact that there is sooooo much white! White walls,are the number one thing I avoid shooting against.

try shooting this same project with the same framing with shallower dof, three point lighting and in a better location and then compare the two results.

diego1235467
07-23-2010, 06:45 PM
I disagree about the DOF. Shallow DOF does not equal "cinematic." The rest I agree with.

Gary Huff
07-23-2010, 07:26 PM
i disagree about the dof. Shallow dof does not equal "cinematic." the rest i agree with.

+1

MattinSTL
07-23-2010, 09:14 PM
Rory beat me to it... lighting is everything.

It looked decent enough... but "cinematic"?... for that you gotta' have layers of light.

seanmcleod
07-23-2010, 10:20 PM
I don't know guys... I agree with you about lighting and framing adding up to a cinematic feel, that's obvious. But I think it's all about context too. The opening CUs I would say are cinematic in feel and look, save the double shadows on the bath tub.

To me this had the same aesthetic as The Wrestler, and would you say that's not a cinematic feel? I think the key to achieving an cinematic experience for your viewer is more like a recipe than any one thing, ingredients like characters, story, lighting, framing, sound, soundtrack, DOF all are added to create cinema, some people add more of a certain ingredient, some don't add one but add more of another, and that's where taste comes in, but there is a recipe for cinema by which all other recipes are derived.

So I'm a little confused by "I am not asking for any comments or opinions on the content/story of this film". I think too many times on here people just talk about the technical and not about the story, which is a huge mistake.

Asking us to discuss the cinema-ness of your film but not the story is like asking us to rate you as a basketball player, but ignore your jumpshot, you know what I mean?

maranfilms
07-24-2010, 05:23 AM
Sean makes a good point,

Set design and aesthetics are huge as well. It's obvious your going for something sensual, lady in tub, candle light, ect.. I think you could have made it much better with changing the details, Blue nail polish says teenie bopper, mr bubbles, shaving legs, all of these are issues working against you in my opinion. I would have had the room lit with candle light, had her paint her toenails, a deep reddish color. Use a classy bottle of bubbles, something from victoria secret, or bed and bath. mr bubbles is pretty ghetto for the look your going for. scratch the leg shaving, just the sound of it is a huge turn off. I would have had a decent makeup job. It looks like she's been cleaning all day and she's jumping in the tub to shave her legs and run out to the grocerystore. Anything can be cinematic, it's the look and point of the story that counts.

TimurCivan
07-24-2010, 05:33 AM
Isay if you have a white set.... go with it... make it brighter. blast the room with light and make it almost like a white box.

If you dont have the ability to shape light... just put it everywhere.... andi mean EVERYWHERE. sometimes its just crazy looking enough to work....

Here:
http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?t=140498

Get started and shoot!..... :)

HDkilledFILM.
07-24-2010, 05:39 AM
For me having deep focus was one of the things that made video a dead give away (I thought that was why we all went out and bought 35 adapters, and scrambled to get vdslrs in the first place?). To me 35mm film's dof is "cinematic" I'm not saying that every shot has to be bokah galore but having our focus as the audiance shifted to the subject instead of having every shot be deep focus would help. Only my 2 cents.

MattinSTL
07-24-2010, 06:14 AM
To me this had the same aesthetic as The Wrestler, and would you say that's not a cinematic feel? I think the key to achieving an cinematic experience for your viewer is more like a recipe than any one thing, ingredients like characters, story, lighting, framing, sound, soundtrack, DOF all are added to create cinema, some people add more of a certain ingredient, some don't add one but add more of another, and that's where taste comes in, but there is a recipe for cinema by which all other recipes are derived.

So I'm a little confused by "I am not asking for any comments or opinions on the content/story of this film". I think too many times on here people just talk about the technical and not about the story, which is a huge mistake.

I think the OP is looking for input specifically on the look of this footage, as shot, lit, and edited... otherwise I agree with your points about the "whole" of a film = cinematic... and I would expect that most others would as well(?)

Perhaps the OP is excited about the new-found ability to mimic high budget i.e. "cinematic" productions... and just wanted to know if he was doing that? That's how I answered... agreeing with others that the lighting (and therefore the shots) looked flat.

That's not to say that "looking cinematic" is always a good thing... you're right, that the look should depend on the story. On that note, for my taste, the wrestler didn't look cinematic... save for a few scenes. I thought it looked like a documentary most of the time. That sure didn't hurt it's success though... if anything it probably helped.

Lammy
07-24-2010, 07:31 AM
For me having deep focus was one of the things that made video a dead give away (I thought that was why we all went out and bought 35 adapters, and scrambled to get vdslrs in the first place?). To me 35mm film's dof is "cinematic" I'm not saying that every shot has to be bokah galore but having our focus as the audiance shifted to the subject instead of having every shot be deep focus would help. Only my 2 cents.


Yeeeaaah, except this video has a very shallow depth of field. Almost too shallow with the focus having to scan for her at times, combined with the shaky cam - it gives off a kind of trancey-accidental (if pervy) tone =]

But I also agree with other posters, shallow DOF does not equal "cinematic."

seanmcleod
07-24-2010, 08:51 AM
On that note, for my taste, the wrestler didn't look cinematic... save for a few scenes. I thought it looked like a documentary most of the time. That sure didn't hurt it's success though... if anything it probably helped.

No Matt I think you're totally right, but I think theres such thing as cinematic realism, if the story involves you. The Wrestler isn't cinematic as Seven was, but I believe it is in it's own brand, with movies like Primer, and In the Loop, and even The Bourne Identity.

ATL Media Group
07-24-2010, 09:27 AM
No Matt I think you're totally right, but I think theres such thing as cinematic realism, if the story involves you. The Wrestler isn't cinematic as Seven was, but I believe it is in it's own brand, with movies like Primer, and In the Loop, and even The Bourne Identity.

I agree... The wrestler was a great example of storytelling with a shaky handheld camera to give you the impression you were there holding the camera yourself.
I think it's more about story than lighting, dof or anything else. This short looks and feels like a commercial because the story might have taken too much time on the woman prep to take a bath. After only a few seconds, i felt like I was being sold body wash or something.

Gary Huff
07-24-2010, 11:42 AM
But I also agree with other posters, shallow DOF does not equal "cinematic."

See: Citizen Kane and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Rory_B
07-24-2010, 12:24 PM
I agree with the need to either light it really hot. Or go all candles.

The look of the wrestler is perfect for the content.

The look here doesn't fit the subject.

Take 4 large candles strategically placed and you can add shadow, depth, texture, and a gorgeous warm roll off into the shadows for a really great feel that would match the scene. Your white walls are no longer white. They're now grades of white, red, and black just by eliminating the stark nature of the ceiling pot lights.

The stark flat lighting makes me expect a murder. That can always work too if you want to play on genres. But you still need texture.

The wrestler may have been doc style available light shooting, but they shot 16mm to give it a grungy grainy look that perfectly suits the story about a run down wrestler living in despair.

If the actress in this had been lit with a more sensual pleasing tone in mind, it would go a long ways to having the look match the story and create an more cinematic feel overall.

HDkilledFILM.
07-24-2010, 12:35 PM
Okay, I've seen citizen kane (as has every other film school grad lol) and the good, the bad, and the ugly (Sergio Leone is one of my favorite film makers and one of the pioneers of EXTREME close ups, ie super shallow dof) so while I understand where your coming from and appreciate what your saying those examples your using are not relevant to this post. The extreme dof shots in citizen kane have multiple planes of focus not one. TG,TB,ATU has wide open landscapes that are being shown off not white walls... Are you suggesting that this short reminds you of how those films were shot?Like I said, I'm not encouraging the op to shoot everything for a shallow dof effect, just have an idea what the subject of each shot is and frame, light, and focus accordingly. It's funny that so many people want to jump on my telling the op to keep his images within different planes of focus when we have people modding iphones with 35 adapters to get bokah lol.

Gary Huff
07-24-2010, 01:28 PM
Sergio Leone is one of my favorite film makers and one of the pioneers of EXTREME close ups, ie super shallow dof

An extreme closeup has nothing to do with super shallow depth-of-field. It can have that, but it doesn't mean it's a requirement.

TimurCivan
07-24-2010, 01:33 PM
An extreme closeup has nothing to do with super shallow depth-of-field. It can have that, but it doesn't mean it's a requirement.

well its kind of a by product of optics....

Shallow DOF on a closeup using a long lens is a matter of fact. unavoidable even at F22. Claiming its an aesthetic choice is like throwing a ball and taking credit for it hitting the ground as "a choice"....

seanmcleod
07-24-2010, 01:55 PM
well its kind of a by product of optics....

Shallow DOF on a closeup using a long lens is a matter of fact. unavoidable even at F22. Claiming its an aesthetic choice is like throwing a ball and taking credit for it hitting the ground as "a choice"....


Right, but it is a choice to use that lens vs. an 18mm or something

HDkilledFILM.
07-24-2010, 01:57 PM
Okay, I'm not trying to argue. lets all make friends, I was just giving my advice, I'm far from Wells or Leone myself. As a matter of course I'll just say this, what makes something cinematic looking to each and every one of us will differ so we can at least agree that no one can be "right" in a debate like this. To the OP, sorry for derailing your thread.

Homunculus
07-25-2010, 10:44 PM
it's true, big aperture is not only way to make shallow DoF. shallow DoF can be also achieved by long lense zooming on someone. i'm actually not familiar with the appropriate process/phenomena responsible for this effect but i know that it is pretty much inviolable. i.e. no matter what aperture you're at if you zoom in on a subject and focus on it, the rest will be out of focus, i.e. shallow depth of field.

anyways to chime in I agree with what most of you experts are saying, the most important thing is lighting. just slick framing of your shots alone will not give you a cinematic look, you have to utilize lighting to give depth and dimension to your scene. imagine your film as a painting, a living painting that you are constantly recreating in every frame of every shot rather than a home movie on camcorder. as someone else said give some texture to the shadows, crevices, surfaces by lighting, whether it's some extra candles strewn about or whatever...

TimurCivan
07-25-2010, 11:31 PM
Right, but it is a choice to use that lens vs. an 18mm or something

you would only use an 18mm for a closeup if youre shooting a zany comedy, or something...

MattinSTL
07-26-2010, 06:11 AM
To put it back on trek... if there are any Star Trek TNG fans here, I thought that series was awesome... many of the episodes were far better (in my opinion) then the theatrical releases with the same cast... BUT, the theatrical releases looked cinematic... for me, that's the difference.

Sure, it's everything... framing, SCALE, shooting style, etc... but using my above analogy... TNG was shot with similar lighting to a soap opera... but the lighting style evolved with the show's evolution. The theatrical releases had weak story, but were cinematic... in the beginning of the film and on the ship anyway.

Analogies like that are what I'm using as a basis for "does this look cinematic"... vs. "does this feel cinematic".

Lammy
07-26-2010, 07:04 AM
you would only use an 18mm for a closeup if youre shooting a zany comedy, or something...

Aye, other exceptions are:

out of consequence due to tight location

if they want to see extra planes of focus (usually with a split focus diopter though)

"character's feels warped"

Michael Mann's latest films... Transpotting with drugs and babies... or Wong Kar Wai films... band music videos...



To put it back on trek... if there are any Star Trek TNG fans here, I thought that series was awesome... many of the episodes were far better (in my opinion) then the theatrical releases with the same cast... BUT, the theatrical releases looked cinematic... for me, that's the difference.

Analogies like that are what I'm using as a basis for "does this look cinematic"... vs. "does this feel cinematic".

Your analogy kinda works, but in order to feel cinematic, it has to look cinematic at the very least too. Otherwise you couldn't distinguish the terminology, you could say soap operas (some are bloody well written and make you cry...) feel cinematic. No, they don't.

The Wrestler has moments that look and feel cinematic, that tell alot (ie when he's rising above on the turnbuckle, when he's trying to relate to his daughter among the pier, etc the grungey cinema-verite feeling)

Star Trek TV episodes are better written, for sure, but the episodes never felt cinematic to me. With exceptions with of BORG 2 parters. Even the movies like Star Trek Insurrection didn't feel cinematic either, they just looked it.

thisisapocalypse
07-26-2010, 09:29 PM
you would only use an 18mm for a closeup if youre shooting a zany comedy, or something...

Or a Wes Anderson film...

Tracey Lee
07-27-2010, 09:09 AM
Thanks for all your suggestions and comments. Much appreciated. There is some really good advice here. I have mostly been impressed with lighting suggestions. There is a lot you can do with lighting and I hope to do more with it in future films. Though I do love the use of natural lighting, I know at least bounce cards should always be used.

Thanks again.

D90GH1_eric
07-27-2010, 10:46 AM
it's true, big aperture is not only way to make shallow DoF. shallow DoF can be also achieved by long lense zooming on someone. i'm actually not familiar with the appropriate process/phenomena responsible for t..

It is called "compression." It is not the same as DOF but shallow DOF and compression from a longer lens can both blur the background.

I have a general question, does this film help by the hack? It seems that one can do the same with the original GH1, correct?

Rory_B
07-27-2010, 01:21 PM
Thanks for all your suggestions and comments. Much appreciated. There is some really good advice here. I have mostly been impressed with lighting suggestions. There is a lot you can do with lighting and I hope to do more with it in future films. Though I do love the use of natural lighting, I know at least bounce cards should always be used.

Thanks again.

Natural light is great, but as you say bounce cards, but also the way you position your actors and/or camera in relation to tat light can make a world of difference.

Shooting your actors backs to a setting sun creates an entirely different dimension than if you had them staring into it.

Same light source but 2 completely different aesthetics and feel.

Homunculus
07-27-2010, 02:21 PM
It is called "compression." It is not the same as DOF but shallow DOF and compression from a longer lens can both blur the background.

I have a general question, does this film help by the hack? It seems that one can do the same with the original GH1, correct?

thank you. i was always looking for the correct term for this phenomenon. can you tell me how it's not the same as DoF? Just wanting to learn more about it

JackBayer
07-27-2010, 02:54 PM
Hello Tracey!

Very nicely shot!

But since youīre here: Any chance of ever sending me those tentacle parts we agreed on as replacement for my rng35 and which you forgot to pack with the rails (which are really good btw)?

I couldnīt help but noticing that we arenīt facebook friends anymore, so Iīve sent a pm to you with my new home adress for your convenience.

Regards!

Ooze3d
08-03-2010, 07:54 PM
Quick answer: NO.

Elaborated answer:

It's all about the subtle things really. You can't take your brand new GH1, 7D, 5D... shoot a few takes on your bathroom and expect it to look cinematic, because it won't.

The main problem I see it of course the lighting. It looks totally flat and you haven't even graded it in post. Please note that I'm talking about simple grading, not adding a strong look from Magic Bullet or something like that. Just adding some contrast and adjusting the overall color to something more pleasant would've been perfect.

She's got a candle lit but it doesn't do anything to the overall lighting, so it's pretty much useless. Never put useless stuff on the screen. It makes the whole clip look less professional.

Also you tend to overuse the shallow DOF putting things close to the cam without really composing the take or letting it breathe. You may think that helps to the cinematic look, but it's doing right the opposite.

Also always plan your shoot to show exactly what you want to show. Be careful with your horizon line and use strange angles when they're really useful for the story.

If you're starting, try to look for movies with similar scenes and don't hesitate to copy camera angles and movements, lighting, setups...

khobar
08-13-2010, 10:36 AM
The shaky cam makes it look videoish. There are times when that look is appropriate - high intensity action scenes or "on the run" scenes come to mind. Tranquility, peace, harmony, love and shaky camera movement don't really fit.

As for the lighting, I agree with the others (even though I'm hardly qualified - I'm sure I'll be asking the same question in the not too distant future).

Also, what frame rate was this shot at? That can affect the look, too.

j1clark@ucsd.edu
08-13-2010, 10:51 AM
(Sergio Leone is one of my favorite film makers and one of the pioneers of EXTREME close ups, ie super shallow dof) .


While I've not watched GBU in quite a while, I did watch "Once Upon a Time in the West"(1968) recently, and one of the 'features' is 'deep focus' while maintaining a 'close up' look. Very often shots will have the actor in the 'near' foreground, sharp, and sufficent DoF to not fuzz out the background, distant... sometimes miles of distance...

One shot in the initial sequence has the actor's face nearly filling the screen top to bottom, but the shot framed so one can see the train steam engine coming down the tracks in the distance. While the distant engine is soft... it is not so soft as is popular with current shallow DoF styles... that it becomes some sort of 'impressionist' painting,
rather than a reasonably clear image, just slightly soft...

Ok, not my example above, but here's a similar setup...

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_bHSVCs9rX0A/SMYwXtntV4I/AAAAAAAAE1I/jOPF03nUGUE/s400/once-upon-a-time-in-the-west-claudia-cardinale.jpg

Claudia Cardinale is sharp, but you can also read the lettering on the water tank in the distant background... and naturally, everything in between...