Can You Shoot a Cinematic Video With a $94 Camera?

You guessed it right. It doesn't have two memory card slots and it doesn't shoot 4K, but so doesn't an old ARRI cinema camera. This is a cheap point and shoot camera challenge where the creator of the video tries to make its footage look cinematic with the least amount of cheating.

This is such an entertaining and informative video where a professional cinematographer and filmmaker shows how to get the most of a sub-100 dollar camera without using expensive tools, but going DIY entirely. The camera is a cheap point and shoot Canon he buys off of eBay. It shoots video in a fully automatic mode and there's not much control over it. There's no internal stabilization and the challenge is to avoid using expensive gimbals. The video is an example how a cheap tool in the hands of a professional filmmaker can do a significantly better job than many of the great and accessible tools we have today in the hands of a non-experienced person.

The two basic accessories that were built for this camera were for stabilization and for controlling the exposure. Stabilizing a small light camera is achieved by intentionally making it heavier. A little cheating in post was used but in general, this is how you can stabilize any video-recording device. The second accessory was using a graduated ND filter out of a cheap sunglasses to bring down the exposure of the sky while maintaining a fairly decent one on the lower part of the frame. Adding a skateboard acting as a dolly brings more value to the production. Adding sound and a bit of software stabilization results into a footage that looks quite decent knowing it was made on a very tight budget.

To see more great videos like that, head over to Potato Jet's YouTube channel.

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Jonathon Rusnak's picture

I don't like to be a negative Nancy, but why are these questions being asked? The answer is always yesno or noyes. And I'm not sure but I think your skill as a cinematographer has more to do with creating cinematic footage than the gear you choose.

Who needs this information? Anyone with any real aspirations of becoming a film maker is probably much more concerned with their skills and not the gear they are currently using.

Or maybe im a complete dummy. :)

user-189304's picture

I think any counter-narrative to 'you have to have the best gear to make quality work' can only be a good thing.

But sure, let's take the example of a 14 year old kid who has aspirations and some talent, but the whole marketing machine tells them they need tens of thousands of dollars in gear...

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

As William Murray said above, it's a good example. If such examples are applied over the gear many low-budget filmmakers have, this could be an inspiration for them. Most such filmmakers are not shooting with a $94 camera, but are not shooting with an ARRI either. They may not have several thousand for a Steadicam, but still want to make something out of nothing just to make some nice portfolio and get noticed.

Every time I read “cinematic video” it makes me nauseated....

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

The term is very vaguely used and by many it's mostly related to the "black bars." In this case the video is indeed cinematic, because it's directed in a way that resembles a movie sequence (I'm talking about the clip with the motor bike at the end).

Simon Patterson's picture

Maybe you need to swallow some cement to harden up!

Anthony Cayetano's picture

Short answer: yes. A very crafty, imaginative and creative videographer will get good footage with any gear. And getting better gear will only make it better.

Brian Albers's picture

Not specifically related to this article, but just a general question-

So if somebody were to give a broad definition of 'cinematic video,' I take it it would be 'stabilized tracking shots, often times rotating around the subject, often times in slow motion.' Yes?

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

Quoting myself from another comment above:

The term is very vaguely used and by many it's mostly related to the "black bars." In this case the video is indeed cinematic, because it's directed in a way that resembles a movie sequence (I'm talking about the clip with the motor bike at the end).

Stabilization doesn't make it cinematic, because sometimes non-stabilized is cinematic (Saving Private Ryan). Slow motion is not always cinematic. Just looks cool. But this is a nice question that deserves an article.

Hans Rosemond's picture

I actually really enjoyed the video! Seems like he made it as a fun challenge to himself to see if he could get a decent result out of cheapo gear. It was well done and entertaining.

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

It was definitely entertaining.

Francisco Mendoza's picture

Next time get a canonT1i

Francisco Mendoza's picture

they go around $100 used on ebay

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

I see. Well, the author of the video probably wanted a more dramatic plot choosing a camera that doesn't look like a DSLR.