Achieve a Stunning Professional Film Cinematic (Cheaply and Easily)

Introduction: Achieve a Stunning Professional Film Cinematic (Cheaply and Easily)

Now streaming art, design and gameing at twitch live! a follow would be amazing and I would love to talk to you! ^.^ - Link also in discription -

Ever wanted to get the extra special film look, but just can't get that video mojo? well It may be simpler than you think. In this Instructable I'll tell you how to easily and cheaply create that filmic look and make you videos look more professional. This can all be achieved with only budget of 0$ but to really impress (recommended) a budget of around $400-1000. Which is extremely cheap for what you can achieve with this budget. So lets get started!

First before we get started...

Here Is 2 great examples of what you can achieve.

1 - (Easier)

I Just filmed some casual things around my house then: stabilized, color corrected/edited and aded music. Which made the video look professional, entertaining and interesting. hopefully :)

2 - (Harder)

I filmed at a location near where I live, and put a lot more effort into the shots. I used DIY Movi stabilizer and spent a lot more time editing. This will hopefully give you an idea of what you can achieve in this instructable.

These videos and instructable took quite a bit of time and prep and make so it would be highly appreciated if you check them out :) also just a simple like and comment would help me out a lot, thanks :)

Things you will need on budget (recommended)

- Camera: A camera with manual focus and manual settings will make the video look a whole lot better (ALL movies, TV shows and professional skits use manual setting). For filmmakers I would with no doubt recommend a DSLR for filming. They have, manual settings, interchangeable lenses, great depth of field, FHD recording and also can take beautiful photos. Here is a list of the top budget DSLR’s for filmmakers:


Rebel T5i,T4i,T3i and T2i/700D, 650D, 600D and 550D

60D ,70D, 5D mark i, ii and iii


D5200, D5100, D3200, D7100



(If I mist any cameras you would recommend, let me know)

The camera I would recommend would be the canon Rebel T3i or T4i/T5i (600D and 650/700d). They are cheap, great quality, and produce amazing video (example was filmed on a T5i/700D). off eBay they cost around $500-$700.


Adobe After Effects, Final Cut Pro, Sony Vegas and Magic Bullet Looks for color correcting the footage (free software can also be usable) (pirating these programs is not recommended, thanks)


Steady cam, tripod, slider, lights and mic. All of this gear will set you back about $600 or more. So if you have a tight budget, yet you want some type of stabilizer, DIY stabilizers can work just as well, for a fraction of the price.


if the audio if bad the whole video will be practically ruined. So ether use a good onboard mic or a external mic like the zoom t4n or the rode video mic (That is if the camera offers a external mic input like the T5i/700d). for something cheaper, just a external recorder like a phone will work quite well.


The lights is one of the most important parts in some cases. lights can be used to reduce noise, change scene coloring, illuminate subjects and cast shadows. this will be a major part when used at the right time. the good thing about lighting is its cheap. light rigs are easy to make out of fluro lights a some reflectors (foil and wax paper).

Items on a small budget/already owned:
Camera: A compact camera (point and shoot) with 720p or higher or even a good phone camera.

Software: A free video editing software such as, iMovie, movie maker or a trial of Adobe After Effects

Gear: For just a small amount you can make a DIY stabilizer, tripod and slider (Many tutorials on youtube). for more detail check step 2. I even used my DIY stabilizer and slider for the video example which cost me nothing, I just used scrap material and some bolts and bearings.


Step 1: Camera

Step 2: Filming and Stabilization

Step 3: Color Correcting/Editing

Step 4: Examples

Step 1: Camera

There is hundreds of cameras now a days that can shoot in HD and FHD. Whilst most are usable, some are significantly better than others. There is 6 main feature that will drastically improve the video quality and help you to achieve the cinematic look (recommended):

- Manual settings

- Manual focus

- 24fps at 1080p/720p

- External mic jack

- Interchangeable lens

- Low noise

Here is a list of the best budget camera types, There capabilities and price range

DSLR (recommended) (Mirror-less comes under this category disregarding size):

Pros: One of the best all round camera for filming. They are reasonably priced and are capable of stacking up to more professional video cameras, if handled right. They have a great depth of field which will add to the cinematic look and can have different lenses, therefore adding to the versatility. They also have a good Weight ration and full manual setting.

Cons: A bit expensive and thats out it.

price - Mid range $400 - $1100 High range $1600 - $3600


Pros: You can achieve great video quality. They are reasonably priced and are very common (so chances are you might own one)

Cons: not many manual setting, normally no manual focus. lenses are not interchangeable.

Price - Mid range $100 - $400 High range $600 - $1200


Pros: Cheap and Cheap. Most can film in HD and some in FHD. Some Have manual setting and will fit in a pocket (e.g. Casio Exilim series).

Cons: light weight (can be good, but in this case it makes the footage more shaky). They Have no manual focus and have small lenses with not much depth of field.

Price - Cheap $50 - $200 Mid $200 - $400

Action cams (GoPro):

Pros: decently priced and can be used to film extreme things. for more intense entertaining footage.

Cons: the fish-eye lens on most of these camera look good in some cases but not for shooting a cinematic video. basically no setting besides from quality and frame rate.

Price - Mid $200 - $400

So which one should I buy?

Well It all depends on your budget. If you are looking at higher end video for al round filming I would recommend a DSLR but on a low budget a cam corder can do the job if used correctly.

recommended: A very popular DSLR that is cheap and versatile is the canon T3i/600d you can get a the camera and kit lens off eBay for only around $550 or for $150 more you can get the T5i/700d with a touch screen silent continuous auto focus and stm lens. (I have nothing agents nikons I'm sure they produce great video I just haven't had much experience with them and I just know for sure that canons are great in this department :)

A good DSLR lens for filming now a days can be quite pricy. So I would recommend buying a vintage prime lens (wide aperture) online. they are cheap great quality and produce stunning video. the only down side is that they are manual, but if you are shooting good video you should only need manual. to adapt a old lens onto and newer DSLR, just search online for one, they normally cost from around $4 to $20. (e.g. Canon eos ef mount to Pentax PK lens)

Once you get your camera sorted, have a play around with it and get use to the setting. Now to the next Step!

Step 2: Filming and Stabilization

Filming is another major part that if not done right can ruin the video. But if done correctly, even with a lower budget camera, can make the video look a whole lot more professional and eye capturing.

Settings and Filming Recommendations:

If the camera you use has manual settings and quality setting, here is the settings you need:

- A frame rate of 24fps so the footage it not to smooth and not to jerking (used in movies)

- 1080p preferably, but 720p will do

- Manual setting of: Shutter speed: -1/48 (24fps) (usually double the frame rate)

- Aperture: preferably wide as possible to get a depth of field (blurred background) e.g. 3.5f (for blurrier background) and if required around 5f-10f in brighter situations.

- iso: low as possible without darkening the video (if the iso is to high the image will be to noisy.

- A aspect ratio of 2.39:1 or 2.40:1 (used in movies)

- Set the contrast, sharpness and saturation to the lowest setting to prevent the camera adding additional color and sharpness in the the video. Doing this will result in improved video quality. The video may look a bit flat, but the the color mojo will be put buck into the video with color correction (This step will also make color correction easier).


- Prime lens (a lens with a fixed zoom, a wide aperture, great depth of field and excellent in low light) e.g. 50mm f1.8.

- If the video is overexposed rather than loosing the depth of field or bumping up the shutter speed. A neutral density filter can be put on the camera (tint filter) to reduce the light coming into the lens.

- Using a stabilizer can make a huge difference in the quality of the video (see next paragraph)

- Good lighting can make all the difference. The cheapest way to light up a subject is to use foil or a reflective materiel to direct natural light. A flashlight with a defuse like wax paper will also be better than no light. for something more effective a DIY light box with a row of fluros pointed in different directions with a defuse. Flood lights is also a good option for higher power lighting.

- Good audio is also a must, by using a external mic or a mic with a output (like a H4n or Video rode mic) or on a budget a phone with a good mic will work.

Stabilization (recommended)

Stabilization is something that is quite easy to achieve and will improve the quality and look of your video drastically. Some stabilizers can cost thousands of dollars but this tutorial is on a budget, so the best way to achieve a great stabilized shot is to go DIY :) You can produce some great shots with DIY rigs from $5 to $40. There is heaps of tutorials you can find on youtube and many different type to suit the style of filming. many of them are just made from PVC and bolts. In the second picture on this step there is 2 of the stabilizers I have made with just stuff around the house. I was very surprised how well they work. Both of my homemade stabilizer are the only rigs I used in the example video (if you haven't seen it I would recommend checking it out in the introduction of this Instructable) There also is great reasonably priced stabilization rigs online that are obviously more expensive than DIY, but in most cases they are smoother and more reliable.

Here is the main stabilization methods and price ranges:


A tripod is a must. They can be used in many different ways for filming and also photography. for panning, still shots, jib like low shots and many other inventive ways. In this case its better to buy than make, just because of all the intricate and fine parts. A tripod may cost a medium amount but it will defiantly come in handy.

Price: Cheap $20 - $80 Medium $100 - $200


Sliders can be very useful fore reveal shots (e.g. sliding out from behind a tree thats blocking the view to reveal a important object or person) it also adds to the professional look. They work by a camera mount rolling/sliding along a track.

Price: Medium - $20 - $100

External Stabilizers:

External stabilizers are the most cheap and effective way to achieve a stabilized moving shot. They can be mounted to the shoulders and hands or can be just handheld. By centering the balance point to the pivot/mount point all the movement made by the operator will be slowed down to one smooth action. Some incorporated bearing a swivels so certain movement like tilt will be cut out complexly.

Price: Medium $30 - $200


The Movi by Freefly or a DIY 3 axis gimbal stabilizer, is one of the best and easiest stabilization systems a know of. I obtained one off eBay for only $500 and it is truly amazing (Check out my Old Golden House cinematic to see the use of the gimbal)


Many cameras now a days have built in stabilizers ether in the camera or the lens. Most of inbuilt stabilizers are great for removing vibrations and smaller movements.


There also is programs that can be used to stabilise the footage after filming (e.g. warp stabiliser in after effects). while these work surprisingly well your video will most likely be cropped, therefor loosing precious pixels.


planning is not alway crucial when making a small video but when it comes to a professional video, planning your shots and angles for the video to get different effects can improve the the look and feel of the video. If the video includes any Video effects that will be added later. Planning how to achieve the effects and what shots you'll need can be good to know before you start shooting, so they won’t need to be redone later.

Step 3: Color Correcting/Editing


Editing the video, as you will most likely be aware, is another crucial part of creating a atmosphere in the video you are creating. There is countless things you can achieve whilst editing a video, from color, trimming and transition to special effects and audio. (as this is a tutorial on how to get a cinematic look I will only be including the the main types of editing for achieving a cinematic look).

Color correcting:

Color correcting/grading in this case is the process of altering and enhancing the color of a video in this case digitally to invoke emotions and atmosphere. There is many programs that can color correct, some of them are free. To get a better idea visually of what you will achieve in this step, refer to the picture above.

What you'll need:

you’ll need a color correcting program, color correcting plug-in or a editing program with some type of color correcting capabilities. Here is some software/editing programs that are great for budget filmmakers:

By Red Giant software (Mid)


A simple solution for great and easy color correction, by using a couple sliders that will reproduce the looks of blockbuster films.

Price: $99

Magic Bullet Looks:

Yes the price may seem a bit steep, but this is great for people that don’t know to much in this department. you can achieve amazingly professional results in minutes. it is a plug-in, and is compatible with many editing programs.

Price: $199 (This price is as long as its used as non profit or student) Full: $399

Magic Bullet Colorista II:

A more professional color correcting plug-in with a bargain price. This one is great for the more the experienced users and can produce videos with a production standard quality.

Price: Full - $199

Magic Bullet suite (all of these and a few other programs by red giant in one big bundle with a good price) - $599

How To Basic (Red Giant):

Built in (Free/Mid)

Most editing softwares have some form of color correction built into the program, some are more advanced and some are some just have a few filters.

If you own a editing program or would like to get one, check the list below to see which software has color correcting capabilities and its quality. (if I have not included your software, refer to the programs description).

Adobe After Effect: very good

Adobe Premiere: very good

Final Cut Pro: good

Sony Vegas/Pro: very good

iMovie: minimal

Movie Maker: minimal

Avid: Good

How To Basic (Built in):

For a detailed tutorial on color correcting with any of these programs just check some out on youtube (I have a few links to some good tutorials on step 4)


(Very sorry, audio not quite finished)

Step 4: Conclusion/Examples

Hopefully this instructable was helpful and improves your filming and editing skills and knowledge. :)

Thanks for checking out my Instructable!
Please feel free to leave feedback and ask questions.

Here is a few of my favorite tutorials and examples on achieving the cinematic look, Thank you very much for checking out this Instructable, it’s much appreciated.



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    4 years ago

    I have a Canon Rebel SL1 and am wondering what lenses I can use to get a more filmic look. The lenses I currently have ( an EFS 18-55mm and a1.5m/4.9ft) don't seem to be working very well. Any recommendations would be great. Thanks!


    4 years ago

    Can i use Nikon D5300 or D5500 with same setting and get the same effect ?


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I always appreciate anyone sharing techniques with others. Its the true path to learning. I've been a film maker -- selling my work since 1978. I began with 16mm film. Today I use a RED system (not mine). The reason for telling you this is not to boast but to present credibility in what I'm about to say. You did ask for critique...

    Vignetting is a neat way to get atmosphere into a clip but overkill if its overdone. Clip one is a tad overdone. There is a process called 'Lap Dissolve' where one scene overlaps and fades into the next. Had you joined a bunch of clips together using this, you would have a truly 'professional looking' (I really hate that phrase) piece. Shortening the clips a few seconds and used lap dissolve to join them can build instant curiosity in a viewer.

    You have about 12 seconds to do this. The scene where the cat is walking through the grass is great. These sort of scenes grab people's attention as a lead up to the remainder of the piece. Barb wire with moving blades of grass doesn't seem to lead into anything but could be a leader of interest. I believe the whole purpose of a short edited piece is to instantly grab attention and hold it for the duration of the piece, leaving the viewer wanting more.

    Otherwise... Congratulations -- nice try for what I'm assuming is self taught movie production. A clean presentation that shows a level of dedication you will need to produce good movies. Books are getting expensive. I'm sure you'll find some on-line related to the art of script writing. This is where I'd point you if I were your mentor. From there to understanding attention spans of your intended audience will (hopefully) result in dynamic and gripping 60 second productions from you in the future. (read that as hugely profitable TV commercials!)


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, thanks for the reply. Also thanks for the constructive critique! :)