If you use a dslr or mirrorless camera for shooting video the unfortunate issue you may struggle with is that your footage always looks a bit too much like “video” and not enough like film. In truth those filmic qualities come from multiple sources, lighting, set design, colouring, but the one thing this hack overcomes is how overly sharp and digital modern cameras can make footage look. The tool to fix that and that this tutorial is based around is a pro-mist filter. For this video we’re using the K&F Concept Black Mist at a ¼ strength, but there are loads of similarly branded filters on the market. I only bought the K&F version because I’m a cheapskate.
In short a pro-mist filter softens highlights with a bloom style glow that spills into the shadows of your shot, creating less contrast in your image. The softening of your contrast, gives your footage a hint of a filmic feel as it drops some of the digital sharpness away. It is a great tool for filming on faces, as it softens the skin and the harshness associated with higher resolution, digital video.
But.. a filter on its own won’t make your shots cinematic. You need to look for conditions where the black mist filter levels up your simple clips, to more cinematic footage, and that is where this video comes to life in a true 3 examples fashion. Like a top 3; after all its youtube where attention spans are limited. So let’s go.
Number 1 – Soften Skin Tones
First Up this filter is perfect for shooting talking head shots, it should be a go-to for fashion or portrait footage. When the subject is a person, you can see the smoothness across the skintones. The “hilation” or blooming of the light source spreads across the frame, gently softening your subject and best of all it does this without losing any texture or detail. In particular, I love the subtle haze created, which instantly gives my subject and frame more visual interest.
There is some noticeable drop off in contrast here, this is because I am using a one quarter filter strength, which is fairly strong. If I wanted to have a less dramatic effect, I could use the softer one eight filter instead.
Number 2 – Light Leaks
This filter isn’t just great at beautifying faces. In this shot, facing the sun you can see the dreamy atmospheric difference that is given to the video as soon as the filter is added. I would say this is possibly my favourite use of this filter. When finding shots like this that amplify the filter’s effect, we are seeking out light flares and dramatic changes in highlights, any situation where we can get light to flare across the lens. By doing this we create a really interesting texture and aesthetic that can easily be achieved with the Pro-Mist filter.
Number 3 – Adding Texture
One of the best indoors shots you can get to elevate your footage with this filter is with some natural light spilling into a room. To create this shot I’m using a single key light to the front of my subject and a blast of a smoke machine to create some soft movement, texture and interest with the light. I love how a mixture of the light, and this filter “combined” give you a frame filled with character and depth.
Beyond those three tips, there’s many more ways you can get the pro-mist filter to transform your footage. From seeking out sources of light, especially at night and also my favourite, sunrise or sunset shots, which simply look incredible with it.
So there you have it, the $80 tip that was kept firmly a Hollywood secret until the Cinematic Organisation of Camera Know-How exposed it for you. But the juicy tips don’t end there, before you go off and buy dozens of these filters for all of your lenses, stop. Just by the biggest version you can afford, probably the 82mm and then get a cheap set of step-up rings. This way you can adapt that one filter, to all of your lenses and save yourself a small fortune. It’s all part of the free service from the Cinematic Organisation of Camera Know-How.
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