Best DSLR Settings To Get Hollywood Film Look

Have you ever wondered why your videos didn’t look at all like these Hollywood films ? Actually, it really has to do with the camera settings. So I’m here to show you the best DSLR settings that can instantly help you achieve cinematic/film look.


Coming up !




What is film/cinematic look ?

Before talking about the camera settings, what does “film look” actually mean ?? Well, the film look refers to a video that is altered in overall appearance to appear to have been shot on film. It has to do with the frame rate, shutter angle, dynamic range, color grading… It doesn’t matter what type of cameras you’re using, you can still achieve film look in certain way. But it’s definitely better to have a DSLR or a professional cinema camera.

If you really want to take your filmmaking skills to the next level or just want to impress your friends with your videos, then this tutorial is gonna help you a lot. In the next few minutes, I’m going to show you step by step how I setup my DSLR for achieving that dramatic film look.


Apparently, the second one looks more cinematic



Frame rate and shutter speed

When you’re taking a video, it’s basically just a series of photos that are put together that make it look like a video. The frame rate refers to the umber of individual image that are displayed per second. So what is the most cinematic frame rate ? The answer is “24 frame per second”

Literally everything in Hollywood is played in 24fps. Why is this ? It’s because human brain can only handle about 24 images per second. That doesn’t mean we can’t see the difference between 60 and 24 fps, but 24 fps will give you the most cinematic look. 60 or anything above 60 fps is always used for slow-motion shots.

When it comes to filmmaking, the shutter speed matters a lot ! There is a rule called 180 shutter degree. That means whatever your frame rate is, you just double that. For example, if you’re shooting at 24fps, then you should set your shutter speed to 1/48. The shutter speed will dictate the motion blur in your videos.

The 180 degree rule will give us the most cinematic motion blur in a video. Every Hollywood movie is also filmed with 180 shutter degree. So shutter speed should not be the way that you change exposure(cause it will also change the motion blur in our videos) That’s why videography is more difficult than photography.




What aperture is the best ?

The aperture controls the exposure of your footage. Obviously, if you shoot with aperture wide open such as f/2.8, more light will get to the camera than if you shoot with small aperture such as f/22. It also controls the depth of field. The bigger the aperture is, the more shadow depth of field you will have, Whereas if you shoot at a smaller aperture, the deeper your focus will be, which is less shadow depth of field.

In general, you want to shoot at lower f/stop because it will give you that dreamy, nice shadow depth of field and also help to separate your subject from the background. Again… you should not change the aperture just to change the exposure because it will also change the look of your footage.


I know you might be thinking: What am I supposed to do if I can’t change shutter speed and aperture ? The answer is “use ISO or an ND filter to change the exposure of your footage !”

ISO is the sensitivity of your camera sensor, using software to change the exposure. The biggest downside of ISO is that your camera will also produce more noise when shooting at higher ISO. So we want to keep our ISO as low as possible.

If you’re in a situation that doesn’t allow you to change shutter speed and aperture, and you’ve already shot at the lowest ISO, but the footage is still too bright, that’s when the ND filters come in. An ND filter is just like a sunglasses for your camera. It can darken your footage without having to touch any camera setting.




How dynamic range affects your films

First of all, what is dynamic range ? How does it affect our videos ? Dynamic range describes the ratio between the maximum and minimum light intensities. The more the dynamic range, the more detail and information are going to be captured in the highlights and shadows.

For example, when you’re taking a video on a DSLR, the scene will always be either overexposed for the background/foreground or underexposed for the subjects. That’s because our camera doesn’t have enough dynamic range to capture both highlights and shadows.




Look ! the room is exposed properly, but the view outside the windows is completely gone. Or the view outside is exposed properly but the room is too black. This always happens on our DSLR camera. That’s why we need to shoot HDR(high dynamic range) videos.

Shooting high dynamic range will make our videos look like what we actually see in our eyes, which will be more real and cinematic. So I would highly recommend buying a HDR video camera.



HDR captures both highlights and shadows, which make it more cinematic.



Best color profile for film look

If you want to make your videos look like a Hollywood film, then you have to pay attention to the “color profiles” I would say that 90% of people are shooting in standard color profile, which is the reason why their videos didn’t look like a film at all. When shooting in a standard color profile, it’s just like you’re filming all the time with an Instagram filter put on the entire video. A standard profile will give you a nice, contrasty look, which is great for general use. But once you put a color profile into your footage, you can NEVER remove that ! It will be a big problem while color grading videos.

To achieve film look, we’d want to shoot everything in “Log” A log profile will pretty much wash out all the color, saturation, and contrast, giving you a very flat and desaturated look. Not gonna lie, the footage you get from a Log profile is really ugly and terrible, but that’s how you get more detail, information and dynamic range of your footage. It will give you tons of flexibilities in editing-process. I can 100% guarantee that all of the movies you’ve seen are filmed in Log profile.

As you can see, Log profile washes out all the contrast and saturation, but it will save more detail and dynamic range so that you can color grade your footage in any way you want. Unfortunately, some entry-level DSLRs don’t include the Log profile… But don’t worry, we can fake it ! What I mean “fake it” is that you can go to the camera settings > picture style(color profile) and then bring the contrast all the way down, and you’ll get a flat look.





That’s it !

That’s how you achieve Hollywood film look ! I hope this tutorial can help you a lot ! I know filming videos is not as easy as taking photos. But if you follow these simple steps, you can still make your videos look more cinematic than ever !


Best settings to get Hollywood film look – checklist

  1. Shoot at 24 frame per second
  2. Follow the 180 degree shutter rule – 1/48(1/50)
  3. Understand what f/stop you need
  4. Don’t change shutter speed and aperture just to change the exposure
  5. Set your ISO properly
  6. Prepare an ND filter
  7. Shoot everything in Log profile
  8. Enjoy your filmmaking journey 🙂






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