Rgrain: a Low-cost Solution for Adding Realistic Film Grain to Your Videos
Yes, you're probably thinking, why is yet another company making film grain plates? Especially when there are already others doing it well, including CineGrain, which we've covered here before. Well, Rgrain is a little different, as their process does not involve scanning real film frames, but instead is a very close approximation of the real thing. This also gives Rgrain a huge advantage compared to the other guys: cost. Let's take a look at some samples:
At only $60, Rgrain is relatively inexpensive if you are looking to give some character to that clean digital footage. With less and less films being shot on actual film, I expect this technique to be used for years to come, as some projects or scenes require a bit of texture that digital images do not have. Here is a description from their website:
- Seven 1080p ProRes 422 film grain plates at 23.976 fps (Each clip loops for 1min—5.6Gb total download.)
- 35mm, 16mm, and 8mm ultra-realistic film stock emulations
- Looks and feels like the real thing
- Includes a set of 8 aspect ratio hard mattes (PNG 24)
- Removes the digital "plastic" look
- Easy to use. No time consuming plugins to render
- NO luminance or color shift to your footage when applying film grain
- Smooth and natural flicker
- Clean and dirt free plates unlike other film grain packages (Note: The "Super 8mm Nostalgia" and "16mm Old Stock" do have moderate damage)
- Helps in dithering gradient banding. Better-looking compression on video-sharing sites
- Works with all professional MAC or PC NLE and compositing suites
- Great for special effect work / compositing
- NO licensing fees. Use Rgrain on any projects, anytime
I personally think that there is a time and a place to use filters like this. For example, I could see the 16mm or 8mm filters being used to dirty-up a fashion video, or one of the cleaner 35mm patterns for a period film that was shot on a DSLR. Digital cinema has caught up and is now surpassing film in terms of overall image quality, but when it comes to motion characteristics and texture, film still has a specific advantage, and there are times when too clean can be a bad thing.
Is Rgrain better than CineGrain, or any of the other film grain companies out there? It's tough to say, but from looking at the Vimeo examples, Rgrain is doing a fantastic job emulating real film grain, and when the footage is online, I don't see too much of a difference. One of the benefits to Rgrain is that their pattern is "clean," meaning that the textures that aren't supposed to have film damage will not. This may or may not make much of a difference to you, but if you want just the grain pattern without any film damage, Rgrain should be a tiny bit cleaner.
I don't think we are too far off from film disappearing altogether, but if you're a purist, or you want to add a bit of texture, Rgrain is a good solution. At some point if I can get samples, I'll do an in-depth review of Rgrain, CineGrain, and GorillaGrain together.
Rgrain is also planning on adding 2K and 4K sometime in the future. Their introductory price may not last long, but if you order by March 15th, they will throw in an additional filter called Instant Vintage.