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The word “Cinematic” gets thrown around a lot lately. “Cinematic” is a pretty broad term, but lets focus on just one element for now – the image. Let’s talk about what makes an image “Cinematic”. Is it the lighting, lens, composition, movement? What does the word “Cinematic” mean? Well, to me it means it has depth and emotion. In this series I’m going to focus on how smoke and haze creates depth in an image, how to get it, and why it’s so important.

One of my most favorite ways of not only creating depth, but diffusion, is with smoke & haze. Hazing a scene Introduces an element into your image that literally adds texture, and creates physical depth. Objects in the foreground that have less haze between the lens and the object will have more contrast than an object in the background that’s being washed out by the thicker amount of haze. Like looking at a distant mountain, the further away an object is the less contrast and more washed out it’ll appear. This technique is especially useful when shooting digital because our digital sensors are capturing the image on a flat plane whereas film is an actual 3-dimensional capture medium with physical depth, so whatever you can do to create or add physical depth to your scene – do it.

Here’s some times I’ve used smoke or Haze to elevate scenes, each in their own way.

THE GREATEST GAME

Smoking day interiors is one of my favorite things to do. This morning breakfast scene doesn’t reveal shafts, but it creates that gauze. Remember, always be obsessed with subtleties. Those subtleties stack up and help to create that “Cinematic” experience we’re all so eager to create.

The texture was perfect for our intro to young Francis and notice the light on the mom. She becomes the guiding light in Francis’ journey. Shooting through thick smoke and strong backlight gave her an ethereal presence.

ACT OF VALOR

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The reason Act of Valor seems so filmic, and not like HD, is because I diffused all of the interiors and most night exteriors with smoke or haze. It wasn’t just a 35mm sized sensor and adding grain in post. It was the texture of smoke that helped us cross cut seamlessly from 35mm motion picture film and the 5D. Using the smoke in the Costa Rican compound, gave it that realistic feel. It also helped take the edge off of the HD capture and added a natural texture that was not 5D noise but a type of diffusion. Just this simple organic tool can really help push your story forward, and that’s what it is all about. Story.

TERMINATOR SALVATION

My vision for this film was that the world was always smoldering, never having been put out from SkyNet’s extermination. So the use of smoke was everywhere in this film. The mood that it infused was one of neglect, uncertainty and determination, which I felt was perfect for this world that McG had created. The resistance would rise to fight, and like a burning ember, it can be stomped on, blown up, but the smoke, the resistance, will remain smoldering. Maybe I am thinking a little too deeply, but this is how I think when I make a decision. It cannot be there just because it looks good. It has to help tell the story and transport the audience into an uncomfortable world that is unstable and on edge. The mine field was one of my favorite sequences to shoot. Lighting 25 acres at night, with smoke, fire, bombs and debris flying. Yeah!

WE ARE MARSHALL

The diner scene was one of my favorite locations on this film directed by McG. There’s a reality that is conveyed when you have the limitations of a real location. You cannot just blow the wall out to get the camera in the right place! You have to embrace the limitations.

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SHOOTING TIPS FOR SMOKE

I always try to make it a priority to shoot our female cast’s close-ups early. It is just good practice to build that into your daily schedule. There we were at 3 am, in the diner scene of We Are Marshall, a pivotal and emotional scene, and it’s January Jones’s close up.

She had just done several emotional scenes prior and was exhausted. She had to look alive, luminescent, stunning. I turned to my EFX team to up our smoke level and use it as my diffuser, instead of pulling out any kind of glass diffusion. We shot the medium with a little heavier smoke level, then kept that consistency when I went to the longer lens. By using the longer lens and the heavier smoke levels, it softened her face and gave her this inner beauty. The compression of the glass compresses the smoke and makes it look thicker.

That is why when you use smoke you cannot do wides and tights at the same time. Your wide shot needs thicker smoke levels, but your longer lens work needs lighter. January Jones is one beautiful woman, and that night, I thought we knocked her close-ups out of the park! Her expression when she realizes her husband was in that plane – that’s cinematic.

THE OLD STANDARD

For the longest time the diffusion I used to go to time and time again, was smoke. This is a very powerful tool. Remember, having the patience is key, because it will take some very subtle efforts to get the right consistency with your smoke or haze and it will take even more patience to work at keeping it at that consistency. How long that haze stays in the air can make or break or day. That’s why my old go to smoke/diffusion used to be the DF-50 by Reel EFX.

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This is a fairly inexpensive machine and can smoke a very large area. It looks small, but it packs a wallop. This hangs for hours and gives you that consistent level. But this is mineral oil based, and SAG contracts no longer permit this type of smoke. So what to use when you have actors in the scene?

THE NEW SMOKE ON THE BLOCK

This V-Hazer from Rosco gives me smooth, evenly dispersed haze that has a relatively long hang time considering it’s a water based hazer. And because the fluid it uses is water based, it’s totally good to use with SAG actors, and doesn’t leave behind of that oily residue you might get with the mineral based DF-50. This baby’s quiet too! It’s really become my go to hazer for shooting inside, and honestly this Rosco V-Hazer packs a punch (and it ought to for eating 900 watts), so much so that I’ve even been using it outside with really surprisingly good results.

(Going over where I want the light to go with my Key Grip Dietmar)

(Recreating for The Inner Circle the Deadfall motel room scene)

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There’s a plethora of ways to control the V-Hazer too. You’ve got built in DMX and Multi-Link to run up to 4 machines from a single remote, and you can daisy chain Remote control of any combination of the Vapour, Vapour Plus or V-Hazer via daisy-chain of 3-pin XLR is possible.

APPLYING THE KNOWLEDGE

Here’s some examples of people taking the knowledge I’ve shared and applied it in their own work, then went out and helped spread the word on how amazing using smoke and haze can be!

Aputure recently came over to the Hurlbut Visuals Clubhouse

You can see the A-Team continuing to apply these smoke & Haze techniques throughout their latest tutorials here:

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We see the world in 3d so anything the helps to create that illusion of 3d within our 2d canvas is crucial for your storytelling, as it allows your audience to believe the world they’re seeing and get lost in it’s beauty. Try using some smoke and haze next time you shoot, and show off some of your favorite setups with smoke or haze in the comments below!

Peace,

Shane

FAQs

Which course is best for filmmaking? ›

Filmmaking Courses
  • Hollywood Film School: Filmmaking & TV Directing Masterclass. ...
  • Complete Filmmaker Guide: Become an Incredible Video Creator. ...
  • Filmmaking: Write, Direct and Distribute Your Feature Film. ...
  • Make Epic Videos for the Internet! ...
  • Learn to Storyboard for Film or Animation. ...
  • ULTIMATE FILM FINANCING.

Is film school worth the money? ›

Not only does film school help you in the field, but it can also aid in your post-graduate job hunt. Listing a film degree on your resume can increase your chances of being hired by a production company, editing house, or writer's room. This is because employers recognize the skills it takes to complete a film program.

What is Filmmakers Academy? ›

Filmmakers Academy is a versatile, premium online filmmaking platform that unlocks a whole new realm of educational possibilities for creatives.

Where can I study cinematography for free? ›

The StudioBinder Film School is an ever-expanding series of video master classes for anyone that wants to learn practical filmmaking and cinematography techniques. These filmmaking courses are 100% free and in video.

Which country is best for filmmaking? ›

There are many countries and areas with large film industries, making them some of the best countries to study film in.
...
These include:
  • USA.
  • UK.
  • India.
  • China.
  • Japan.
  • Germany.
  • France.
  • Spain.

Is film making a good career? ›

Despite the fact that careers in film can be incredibly rewarding, they typically come with a low level of job security as you'll usually be hired on a film-by-film basis. Wages, working hours and locations vary, depending on the size of the production you're working on and the level of funding behind it.

Is a film degree hard? ›

While film studies is not really difficult, it's a must for students majoring in it to obtain all the skills they can get and the network they can make in college for a promising career. Continue reading if your goal in life is to become a filmmaker, producer or movie crew.

Do you need a degree to be a filmmaker? ›

While there are no formal requirements to become a filmmaker, a bachelor's degree in film and television production is recommended as it will provide you with an opportunity to acquire many of the skills necessary to work in the field, as well as gain experience with projects and establish industry contacts.

Do most directors attend film school? ›

Some of our favorite directors started school then dropped out, while others are completely self-taught. Many of the best classic directors made their marks on film before film schools even existed. You're sure to find many directors you recognize on this list!

How much do cinematographers get paid? ›

Cinematographer Salaries in London Area

The average salary for Cinematographer is £34,923 per year in the London Area. The average additional cash compensation for a Cinematographer in the London Area is £1,751, with a range from £402 - £7,625.

Is film school free in Germany? ›

Most public schools in Germany are tuition-free for undergraduate students! Currently, only the state of Baden-Württemberg requires non-EU students to pay tuition for their education.

Can I learn filmmaking online? ›

The prestigious Sundance Institute which runs one of the world's most celebrated film festivals, offers a range of online filmmaking masterclasses on everything from Documentary Filmmaking to Crafting A Web series. Each masterclass is a 3-hour video and all are run by industry professionals.

How much time does it take to learn filmmaking? ›

How long is enough? If you're looking for a course which will make your work ready, a six-month full-time course is the preferred option. You will have just enough time to build confidence in your chosen field and create an industry-standard portfolio.

How long is a filmmaking course? ›

Universities offer courses ranging from 1 to 4 years, with the majority lasting 3 or 4 years. Conversely, films schools focus on shorter technical courses of 1 or 2 years.

Is Nyfa a college? ›

New York Film Academy - Los Angeles is a for-profit college located in Burbank, California in the Los Angeles Area. It is a small institution with an enrollment of 962 undergraduate students. The New York Film Academy - Los Angeles acceptance rate is 100%.

Which country is No 1 in film industry? ›

Top 50 countries ranked by number of feature films produced, 2005–2010
Rank (2010)CountryNumber of feature films produced1
2006
1India1,016
2US673
3China330
47 more rows

Which is the richest film industry in the world? ›

World's Top 10 Film Industries 2022
  • Cinema of the United States (Hollywood) ...
  • Hindi Cinema (Bollywood) (India) ...
  • Cinema of China. ...
  • Cinema of the United Kingdom. ...
  • Nihon Eiga (Japan) ...
  • Cinema of South Korea. ...
  • French Cinema. ...
  • Cinema of Germany.

Is film a stable job? ›

Generally speaking - no, it is not stable. Anything involved in actually producing the content is "project based," which means you are constantly chasing the next job. That being said -- stability seems to be more illusive than ever, across the whole economy, nowadays.

Is the film industry stressful? ›

So, of course, there is always stress in filmmaking and if you understand cinema by reading or assisting, then you will come to know about the pressures and stress of work. If you're ready for that stress then only you can think of yourself as a director in the near future.

What are the disadvantages of being a film director? ›

A disadvantage of becoming a movie director is the stiff competition you will face from other directors vying for the same jobs and sources of project funding. Producers and investors are bombarded with movie ideas and can have their pick of eager directors.

Do film majors make money? ›

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that film and video editors earn median annual wages of $62,650. Professionals who live in California, New York, and New Jersey earn the highest salaries. Metropolitan areas with the most job opportunities include Los Angeles, New York City, and Atlanta.

What university has the best film program? ›

Best Film Schools 2022
  • American Film Institute (AFI) ...
  • California Institute of the Arts. ...
  • Chapman University. ...
  • Columbia University. ...
  • Emerson College. ...
  • Loyola Marymount University. ...
  • New York University (NYU) ...
  • University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
1 Sept 2022

What is a film degree called? ›

Film studies can also be known as cinema and media studies. Instead of working with the technical equipment or shooting your own video, cinema and media studies is more an exploration and understanding of classic and iconic films.

How do I start a filmmaking career? ›

How to become a filmmaker
  1. Complete high school. The majority of filmmakers have a high school diploma, and most go on to earn a college degree. ...
  2. Finish a bachelor's degree. ...
  3. Seek an internship. ...
  4. Produce a short film. ...
  5. Develop film related experience. ...
  6. Build your professional network.
15 Mar 2021

What to major in if you want to be a director? ›

What educational requirements should a director have? While not always required, directors can benefit greatly from obtaining at least a bachelor's degree in a field such as film. Within a degree program like this, you can then select director courses like film editing, cinematography, screenwriting and film history.

What is the difference between filmmaker and director? ›

In most cases, the term filmmaker refers to the director, but the term can also be used to refer to the producer. Filmmaker is not an official title in Hollywood. You won't see someone credited as filmmaker at the end of any movie. Because of this, there is no set definition.

Where did Quentin Tarantino study? ›

Quentin Tarantino

Where did Quentin Tarantino go to film school? ›

Naturally rendering his work with a unique style, vicious dialogue and groundbreaking visual storytelling, Tarantino, famously, didn't attend any film school. In fact, Tarantino dropped out of high school at the age of just 15 and opted for work at a cinema, as well as a video store later in life.

Does Quentin Tarantino have a film degree? ›

Quentin Tarantino

The creator of Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill and Inglorious Bastards did not complete higher education either. He dropped out of school at 15 to start acting classes with the James Best Theatre High School but lost interest and left to work in Video Archives, where he learned a lot about cinema.

How do I start a career in filmmaker? ›

Steps to Going to Film School & Pursuing a Film Career in Cinematography
  1. Gain Experience in High School. ...
  2. Pursue a Degree in Film or Cinema Studies. ...
  3. Keep Working on Your Portfolio. ...
  4. Network in the Industry. ...
  5. Latest Posts.
14 Jul 2022

How do I learn film production? ›

How to become a movie producer
  • Pursue an education. ...
  • Get an internship. ...
  • Produce a short film. ...
  • Network in the industry. ...
  • Work as a production assistant or entry-level filmmaker. ...
  • Be a producer on a major industry film. ...
  • Gain experience in a mid-level producer role. ...
  • Advance into upper-level producer roles.

Can I learn filmmaking online? ›

The prestigious Sundance Institute which runs one of the world's most celebrated film festivals, offers a range of online filmmaking masterclasses on everything from Documentary Filmmaking to Crafting A Web series. Each masterclass is a 3-hour video and all are run by industry professionals.

How many years is a film degree? ›

Undergraduate degree programs in film and digital video production typically take four years to complete, and result in such merits as the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Filmmaking or Bachelor of Science in Video Production.

How long is a filmmaking course? ›

Universities offer courses ranging from 1 to 4 years, with the majority lasting 3 or 4 years. Conversely, films schools focus on shorter technical courses of 1 or 2 years.

Which stream is best for filmmaking? ›

For the graduate course in filmmaking, one needs to pass 10+2 with science/arts as the subjects depending on the course one is taking.

Do filmmakers need a degree? ›

While there are no formal requirements to become a filmmaker, a bachelor's degree in film and television production is recommended as it will provide you with an opportunity to acquire many of the skills necessary to work in the field, as well as gain experience with projects and establish industry contacts.

Can you make a film with no experience? ›

High-end TV and major film sets require you to have some experience, even for entry-level work. You will find it hard to work on a big film set without at least 3 previous credits in your role. As such, you might need to work on independent film sets before working in the professional film industry.

Can you become a filmmaker without college? ›

A filmmaker is not required to have a license in order to make movies. It is also not a requirement to have any kind of formal education. However, you will find that many jobs will ask for formal education as a contingency to apply for a job. It isn't a bad idea to have some knowledge beforehand.

How much money do film producers make? ›

Film Producer Salary

Film producers make $50,185 per year on average, or $24.13 per hour, in the United States. Film producers on the lower end of that spectrum, the bottom 10% to be exact, make roughly $30,000 a year, while the top 10% makes $81,000. Location impacts how much a film producer can expect to make.

Is being a film producer hard? ›

Being a movie producer is not an easy job, and becoming one is not particularly easy either. It requires hard work and commitment. Many people enter this field because they have one essential factor: a passion for producing works of art. However, passion alone is not enough.

How do film producers get paid? ›

Generally, Producers make money by receiving producing fees set out in the production budget. In other words, Producers don't normally get paid unless their film or television show is actually produced and financed. It is possible to make profits from a successful show, but profitable shows are few and far between.

Is film school free in Germany? ›

Most public schools in Germany are tuition-free for undergraduate students! Currently, only the state of Baden-Württemberg requires non-EU students to pay tuition for their education.

Is film making course easy? ›

Everything about filmmaking is extremely easy to learn. Anyone can do it if they wish. The challenge is filmmaking requires learning a huge number of skills. Each skill is easy to learn but the number of things you must learn is huge.

How do I become a director? ›

Becoming a Film Director

Most film directors typically hold a bachelor's in film or a related field and have several years of work experience. They often begin their film directing career as a film editor, actor, or assistant to an established director.

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