What Is Cinematic Lighting?

The word cinematic gets thrown a lot these days in online video circles. Everybody wants their work to look cinematic—except maybe the guy filming his daughter’s piano recital with a Handycam.

However, other than Handycam guy, we all want our short films, brand videos and micro shorts to look like they just leaped off the big screen.

Cinematic lighting helps tell a story.

The difference between amateur lighting and cinematic lighting is story motivation. When you design your lighting to serve the story your film is telling, you’re officially doing cinematic lighting. While storytelling is the core of lighting, there is a wide range of techniques and tools that can be used to serve the story and create an infinite number of lighting looks.

If you don’t have a strong understanding of film lighting basics, then creating strong imagery will be impossible.

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