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CineGrain: For When You Want Your Digital Footage to Look Like (Grainy) Film

09.30.11 @ 1:34PM Tags : , , , ,

I like grain. Photochemical film grain, that is, not digital noise. Maybe it’s just because I’m used to seeing grain on 100 years of film-originated material, but even one of the best-looking digitally-shot films in history — [easyazon-link asin="B001U0HBQ0"]The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button[/easyazon-link] — added grain in post. So if you’re trying to give your digital footage an analog aesthetic by adding grain, you can do it by using any number of filters (I like Magic Bullet’s grain filter, because it includes highlight suppression options), or you can go buy a boatload of actual film scans and composite them on top of your footage, which is what the new CineGrain collection offers:


I’m guessing this will be overkill for most people, but if you’re looking for a genuine aged film look that’s not simply a digital simulation but is actual aged film, CineGrain is designed to appeal to you. The CineGrain site is a bit confusing — there’s no “store” — but from what I can tell if you have a budget of less than $50k you qualify as an “indie” and can download 50 clips for $299, or 100 clips for $499 on the indie page. As this clip shows, they went and actually shot footage with a variety of film cameras and then scanned it in at 2K:

The feature list:

  • Turn Digital into Film
  • Using REAL Film Scans
  • Add Any Major Film Stock to Your Footage
  • Filmed With 35mm, 16mm, And Super 8 Cameras
  • Works With Editing, Visual Effects, And Coloring Systems
  • Hundreds Of Film Clips Organized Into 8 Categories
  • For Use Over Any Digital Content
  • Resolutions up to 4K
  • Flash Frames, Light Leaks, Lens Flares, Roll Outs, Dirt & Scratches, Head & Tail Leader, Bad Registration, Hand-Crank, Full Gate With Keycode, And Many More Film Artifacts
  • Colored And Transfered Specifically For Composite Mode “Overlay”
  • The Highest Quality Film Look and Grain Solution Available

As for how to apply these clips to footage, there are a number of overlay/blending techniques:

As I said, overkill for most people, but nice to know it’s there if you have a project that relies heavily on an “aged film” look — but can’t or don’t want to actually shoot on film.

Link: CineGrain

[via planet5D]

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  • So, my question would be how much grain-control you really have; the above clips looked too “tampered.” if it were able to be much more subtle it may work very well

    • Since it’s just a new layer with the transfer mode set to overlay, you can easily adjust the strength by changing the opacity of the new layer.

    • It’s just a case of putting it on top of your footage with a transfer mode that suits (overlay, screen etc) then tweaking the opacity to reduce the grain amount that you’re going for. Any NLE or finishing software should allow you to do this

  • This will have a lot of use in hollywood films

  • I just got the 2K indie package and was blown away by the level of control i can get just with contrast on the grain layer. If you boost the con on the grain plate the texture will get more intense, and if you lower the contrast, it can be incredibly subtle. saw on their facebook that janusz kaminski used it on a mazda job to match alexa and 35

  • Bejamin Button was shot on 35mm, I doubt they would have double up on grain. All the same, I love grain, I’ll be sure to give this product a go.

  • Hmçm… Unless it is a very special case, I would not use something like this as a general aesthetic decision to make video look like film. Modifying profiles or look-up tables inside the camera to get the best lattitude is just a way to get “good” results, not (only) emulating what you get with film cameras. My opinion is that right now we have tools that shoot video, I don’t see the point of trying to make it look like another common way of shooting moving pictures. Of course, we try to achieve the best looking footage : not too sharp, no saturated whites etc… To me, adding this kind of effect is juste like changing the brand and model name of your cam to “Arri 435″ with a sticker.

    • I agree that there’s many other ways to get a great looking film like image. But yes, it does depend on the style of production you’re looking for. I’ve seen productions shot on video, converted to film and then back to video again just to achieve that emulsion look, so this would be a much cheaper option. Grain gives you warmth, it removes the sterile aesthetics that video produces. I’ve seen 35mm films like “Dawn of the dead” where the film has very little grain, the the color grading as been saturated and contrasted to the ridiculous, and you end up with a video looking film. Not a good look! I’ve also seen 5d dslr footage properly shot, lit and color graded with a touch of grain to cover up some of the compression artifacts, and the picture was amazing.

  • all i can say guys…. is that i can’t imagine not having this in my bag o tricks now!!
    yes it’s the artist behind the tools that makes something great
    but this tool is elegant and powerful

  • Can’t agree more David. I got the 50 clip Indie version a month ago and am looking to upgrade cuz I use it so much. It is super subtle when you need it to be too. I spoke with a guy over there and he said there’s actually a Professional Collection that’s even bigger, 150 & 250 clips I think. anyway I like to spread the word on gear that inspires me and this does.

  • I used to work with Shane, the cofounder of cinegrain. He did a demo in the 2K theatre and a packed house full of heavy hitting clients gave a standing o when all was said and done. I don’t think people realize that the ‘indie’ pack is literally giving access to a secret of the feature and commercial elite.

  • This is a big deal. Takes my 5D to a place it’s never been before. 250d-exp over Optical Flares is a hit.

  • Check it out, i believe it is a easy way to make your own film look, just use photoshop and use some special filters and save it as jpeg or something with a background color that can be remove from video editing software. then place the file in the timeline at the top and remove the color and you still have the film look effect on it. It’s easy. But it might not be easy for some other kind of looks

  • Isn’t this effect achievable using the “add nose” effect in After Effects, then playing around with intensity, size, saturation, animation, etc? God bless.

  • Hey Clyde, this type of effect is possible with add noise, but this is REAL film. Real 35mm, 16mm, 8mm. An algorithm can pretend, but it can’t get near the real texture of moving motion picture grain. Other than shooting and transferring film for your actual production, this is it!

  • Robert Blanchet on 10.7.11 @ 4:33PM

    the grain is very cool. Does any one know the name of this song?

  • Anybody have any idea where to torrent this goodness?

  • Amazing!! Can’t find it anywhere online. Will definetly buy it once I’ve got the money

  • Inexpensive grain packages are here: http://vegasaur.com/film-grain

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