If you haven’t guessed by now, my last two posts were satirical looks at filmmakers’ desires to make their videos cinematic. The “tips” I suggested were tongue in cheek, but the truth is, many videographers and filmmakers do those things to make their videos feel like movies, i.e. “cinematic.” (Ahem, even a certain African-American blogging filmmaker who shall remain nameless has dabbled once or twice in those tips I gave two days ago. 😉 In truth, some of them really are not bad at all. They can be a fun way to present a video (and I’m sure in the wedding world, many couples request songs from their favorite movie scores).
But what does “cinematic” really mean anyway?
What truly makes something cinematic? The composition? The music? The lens? The frame rate? The format you shoot on? The aspect ratio? The camera you use? The ratio of the size of your rig vis-a-vis the camera? All those things? None of those things? I don’t think there’s a magic formula.
Let’s take a movie like “Once” that came out a few years ago. From best I could tell it was shot on Panny DVX100 (based on what I can see in the behind the scenes). The production values were, well, rather crappy. But I would see that movie a hundred times over “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” or even “Star Wars Episode I” for that matter. The video Edit:Transform that my friend Zack Arias made a couple of years ago for ScottKelby.com is way more compelling than a lot of stuff I see on Vimeo, and he shot that on a FlipMino for crying out loud. My friend and colleague Chris P. Jones (co-founder of the In[Focus] Event) is an award-winning wedding filmmaker named to the Event DV Top 25 list three years in a row, and much of his work is still 4×3 SD. (Gasp!) Do you see my point?
So, What’s the Moral?
Some people thought my series this week was a commentary on “cheesy” effects or gimmicks. It wasn’t. Nor was it meant to be a mean-spirited ding on an industry I deeply care for and respect (as I’ve pointed out, I too have done some of the “tips” I mentioned.) This was all about the eternal question I frequently hear, “How can I make my movies more cinematic?” Or “How can I get the movie look?” When it comes down to it, in my humble opinion (and this is just my opinion), all that stuff doesn’t matter. If you tell a great story that keeps me engaged, you can put an animated singing tub of popcorn in front of your video for all I care.
I think we need to stop asking the question, what can I do to make my videos more “cinematic,” and start asking the question, “what can I do to make my videos more compelling to watch. Period.”
What do you think?