This has to be the age old question what is cinematic? In my opinion cinematic is anything that tells a visual story well. My favorite movie of all time has to be Shawshank Redemption in my opinion its the most cinematic movie ever. Roger Deakin’s did an amazing job in shooting this film before there were post production houses devoted to color grading your movie. It started off cold most likely shot on tungsten stock film to make everything seem more cool but as the story proceeded it became warmer and warmer eventually at the end its full of warmth and color to portray the “redemption” aspect.
But to get back to what is Cinematic? Cinematic is all perception! How we perceive things are the most important part of the cinematic experience. For me cinematic is long dolly shots, slow camera tilts and pans, crane and techno crane shots, steadicam and helicopter shots. So my perception of cinematic is really camera movement but more importantly for me cinematic is the lighting. I love lighting and the more a scene has the better or the more cinematic I think it looks. People always want to argue about “over lighting a scene” and yes this can happen; however, in all my years of shooting I still have not scene what is an over lit scene? Some cinematographers will argue that an over lit scene is one that has back light or kickers that don’t need to be there but if the kicker of back light ads to the cinematic experience and the perception that it looks better. Well I guess it is not over lit.
Other people will argue that cinematic is your shutter speed and frame rate; however, this too is perception. And this is why, since you were a baby you same movies that were shot in 24 frames a second at 48th of a second shutter speed at 180 degree angle of a 360 degree shutter. All of your life you have been looking at this “cinematic perception.” However, if you grew up about 100 years earlier when 12 frames was the standard your perception of cinematic would be entirely different. To that notion Peter Jackson shot the movie the Hobbit in 48 frames a second at 96th of a second shutter speed. And a lot of people think it did not have the “cinematic look” or what they are referring to is motion blur. In my opinion it looked even more cinematic because I could actually see all of the action vs guess all of the action.
So at the end of the day what cinematic means to you or me is really irrelevant because what matters is what is cinematic to your audience.