How to Get a Cinematic Look on the Cheap

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh from Pexels

You may not have thousands to drop on a professional-grade digital camera – but that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve that “cinematic look.”

In a new video, Creative North’s Jonny Von Wallström of Creative North explains how your films can look cinematic on any camera.

Color and Saturation

Wallström warns novice filmmakers not to oversaturate images. There’s no one single cinematic look, but the typical style features low contrast and desaturated colors. More saturation and contrast will give you more of a TV look.

Plan for Post-Production

Wallström recommends that you shoot in long mode on your camera so that it doesn’t have too much contrast or saturation in the files. Also, he says you should lower the sharpening and noise reduction in the camera and learn how to do it in post. This will help you with grading.

Have an Intent

Wallström points out that you can absolutely choose not to go in the standard or typical direction. Making a film is all about finding your own vision and cinematic look. Maybe you like oversaturated colors, for example. He says consistency is what’s important.

Camera movement

Using a super stable camera movement will make your film look cinematic. It’s not that you can’t use a gimbal, but it’s going to result in a different asthetic. Handheld styles can work too; they can make you feel closer to the story. Slow dolly moves might be a good choice too.


Consider using a prime lens, because it’s much harder to achieve the cinematic look with a zoom lens.

Check out the full video below:

Composition and Framing

You also can’t go wrong focusing on composition and framing, no matter what camera you use. Here’s a crash course:

There’s one other important thing to keep in mind when you embark on your filmmaking journey. Your very first script (or film) will probably not be your best. Your style will also change and evolve over time. It’s okay to make mistakes and figure things out as you go! Maybe it’d be fun to make shorts or social media videos before you begin your feature-length masterpiece.

Lessons and Tips