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Rgrain: a Low-cost Solution for Adding Realistic Film Grain to Your Videos

02.27.12 @ 8:22PM Tags : , ,

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:

Here is a tutorial for Rgrain using Premiere Pro CS5 – they also have tutorials for After Effects, Final Cut Pro X, and Sony Vegas:

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.

Link: Realistic Film Grain Plates for Your Digital Footage – Rgrain

[via planetMitch from planet5D via HDCamTeam]



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Description image 41 COMMENTS

  • I actually like this more than CineGrain.

  • John Jeffreys on 02.27.12 @ 8:43PM

    i really like this. very subtle effects, not dramatic and fake like cinegrain

  • I rather wait for decent and affordable solution to remove grain. My pictures are grainy enough already ;-)

    • I’ve used Neat Video on many occasions. After a pass I actually add very fine grain back in to tighten accutance/sharpness. Plugin is about $100.

  • Back in the 1980s I first started seeing Film Look software at NAB and Show Biz Expo, etc. But ya know what, I’ve never heard a patron say, when leaving a movie, “the plot sucked, but I really liked the grain.” :)

    • Tyrannosaur on 03.1.12 @ 10:02PM

      And there he is! The token “don’t-worry-about-the-technical-stuff-it’s-story-that-matters” guy, there’s one in every thread!

  • To be honest, the difference is negligible in my experience. At the end of the day, it’s just grain floating over the image. Film grain adheres to the contours of the image better.

    Funny that nobody but pixel peepers will ever notice the difference on a screen of any size.

  • Sounds very interesting. It’s all about the feel, I personally think that adding grain with products like Rgrain makes the footage look more appealing and organic. I tried many grain plugins and the grain is always “sizzling” or too crispy, all the examples from Rgrain are nice and smooth and for that price I think i’ll get one to see how it works on my stuff. Thanks for posting this.

  • It appears to be a cheap knock off. Price is the plus, but you pay for what you get.
    Grain with fake effects over the top that loop awkwardly.

    • If anyone ever spot a grain noise loop of 1 minute, or even 10 seconds… if there are no scratches and deterioration signals that’s just impossible.

    • I wonder how you can say “It appears to be a cheap knock off. Price is the plus, but you pay for what you get.
      Grain with fake effects over the top that loop awkwardly.”?

      “cheap knock off”, “fake effect” and “loop awkwardly”? you still did NOT buy it but you do assume that as fact?

      Very weird… and not a professional opinion at all indeed

  • aw cmon who needs to buy some grain?! if you are not a complete retarded you can make customizable grain in ae with no effort. No this lame prebuilt grain…ohhh its loopable O_O!!! Are you kidding?!

    • I think that the use of real grain offers a next step in the look of a narritive. There is a difference between a simulated grain the actual thing in texture. Just because it’s not for you doesn’t mean you should be a dick about it. Save the $60.00 and go on your way. I’m actually glad there is a low/practically no cost solution to this for me.

      • if you cant do it ask yourself how much effort are you putting in your work. render a 5 10 30 etc loop takes you 30 secs and no plugins, or 1 minute on google to find the solution if you dont know how to. go and waste money on every stupid piece of stock footage, silly rig, or plugin there is, you deserve to be punished.

        • Woah, calm down dude. Yeah, it’s not actual scans, but this looks a hell of a lot better than AE simulated grain or making a film plate jitter randomly in AE, and would take a lot less render time too. Personally, for the amount of time it would take me to approximate this look, I’d rather pay someone else a modest amount and spend that time on perfecting an edit, further tweaking my color, or revising a script. Do what you want to do, I’ll pass no judgement, but no need to blow a gasket. You’ll give yourself acne with all this stress.

  • Some people here are completely wrong.

    AE plugins usually require lot of rendering time. In the other hand blending a layer like when using rgrain is way faster, no comparison to a plugin.

    Who needs to add grain? well, there are lot of situations where you’d want to add it.

    Just to mention some cases: to get more filmic look, minimize banding, minimize moire, increase sharpness, give a more pleasant overall look to the many times “flat” digital video, etc.

    The results I’ve seen of Rgrain on Vimeo have nothing to do with lot of plugin that usually give you a noticeable fake grain look. Rgrain looks way more natural.

    Serious editors know what I’m talking about, but it would be really good to post a comprehensive article to let hdslr users know more about the benefits of adding film grain in the proper way and amount.

  • We bought Rgrain to test at our office and everybody was VERY surprised by the quality. Looks real good and like the previous poster said it’s a lot faster than rendering fake looking plugins. Some people have no clue what they are talking about.

    • When you buy it are they just picture files? I guess my question is… Is if my friend and I went in on it could we both use it on our own computers??

  • What does everyone think about this versus Gorilla Grain? I think I’d like a simple solution for my web work and both are reasonably priced, although for the record I think I’d throw down the money for CineGrain if I get around to shooting a feature.

    • Might be moot these days what with ever-higher bandwidth connections, but be aware the adding grain will raise the bitrate needed to stream your file and will increase your file size. Just a thought if web delivery is your final goal!

  • CineGrain’s the only one that took the time to actually shoot 8mm, 16mm, and 35mm. Everyone else just resizes the same grain and augments it in the computer and calls it something new.

  • Vladimir Druts on 02.28.12 @ 1:43PM

    I for one have never seen any grain plugin do film grain justice, this stuff is absolutely awesome! I love it.

  • I’ve been making some tests with RGrain and the 5D Mark II footage I’m currently editing.

    I tried different blending modes but “overlay” is evidently the one for which the plates where prepared.

    After the very first minutes, I decided to stay with 40% opacity with all the plates just to be able to compare.

    I’ve been switching from one plate to another with many clips, also looking inside the frame at 200-400% magnification.

    Nice surprise. RGrain is really a very good tool, offering quite convincing results, and opening the way to beautiful look&feels (“film grain” is not of course the same as “digital noise”).

    As with any other tool, the result also depends on the user (criterion, sensibility, and of course personal taste).

    The “coarse” plate offers the somewhat “sharper” grain some film stocks do actually show.

    But the whole frame results with any of the other plates doesn’t actually ring any alarm to my brain, no “lack of chroma randomness”, no “lack of sharper grain”.

    I do really appreciate the “moderate” side of the thing, compared with some plugins I could test which where producing oversharpened grain, overloaded with chroma randomness. These plates are likely to produce believable results with footage of any kind, light, dark, contrasted, low contrast, full of details, full of areas with no details… because they blend with the footage with much greater ease, not only giving more convincing results but also more beautiful. They actually offer wider possibilities than the plugins I tried.

    The hard mattes are quite a handy shortcut, good idea to provide them with the plates.

    The Super 8 matte + plate is of course a very suggestive evocation. Nobody would claim that full HD resolution and modern pro lenses would emulate Super 8, and nobody would claim that with this “gate” we are emulating an amateur 8 mm projector (maybe a professional one). But it worked beautifully for me with some clips of the sunset on the river, and recalled to my memory the emotions of some images I actually shot in Super 8 kind of 30 years ago.

    This is my own and honest opinion after using this tool (THANKS to the ones who took the time to share positive notes about it).

    P.D.: These clips are long enough (1 minute!) for the loop not to call for my attention even when there’s some amount of film damage, I should have a T-1000 Terminator brain recording the whole minute while filtering off what’s being represented “behind” the grain and film damage.

    • Any samples you can provide? Thanks.

      • I asked to producer, “no way” was the answer. Sorry. It’s commercial stuff and I guess it’s not just about eliminating the “synthetic” look, I think they want the equation “shot on film = higher production value”.

  • So If I buy this would I be able to share this with other friends if we all chipped in to buy it?

  • Here’s a quick comparison between Rgrain and After Effects:

    I think the Rgrain looks a lot better, and I was happy with the purchase.

    By the way, there’s nothing stopping you from sharing the grain overlays – aside from the fact you’re stealing revenue from the guys at Rgrain that made a very competitively priced product that works well. It’s only $60. If you can afford a $1000-$3200 camera and $500-$1000 lenses, you can throw $60 to these guys so they can keep making products for you.

  • Cara Mumford on 03.1.12 @ 3:53PM

    I would be very interested in seeing the results if you do get around to that in-depth review of Rgrain, CineGrain, and GorillaGrain together. Love film, love film grain. Was convinced to switch to a DSLR when I saw how it could make video look filmic but still miss the texture of film. The introductory price on this filter is great, but I would still love to see how it compares to the other options.

  • Wish I knew why FCP is altering the brightness of my image when I use the Overlay blending mode with Rgrain. Changing the opacity alters the brightness wildly. Feel like I’m doing something daft…

    • For using final cut pro with Rgrain, use a brightness and contrast effect instead of lowering the opacity. Just lower contrast or add some to adjust the amount of grain. FCP 7 acts weird when using opacity / overlay… In FCP X and all other NLE there’s no issues. Works like a charm. Love Rgrain.

  • Video geeks impressing video geeks trying to impress other video geeks.
    Meanwhile, Joe Public doesn’t even notice, the world keeps on turning and still there’s nothing worth watching.

    • You’re right. Most viewers wouldn’t be able to point this out, or explain what they see, or even articulate the difference between video noise and grain. These geeky things do, however, add up to a subconscious reaction that’ll make viewers react in one way or another, or make them feel like they’re seeing something of higher or lower quality, so it’s totally worth us taking the time to think about the geeky stuff.

      So far as there being a lack of stuff worth watching, well… write, rewrite, repeat. Nobody wants to watch gun pr0n.

  • Bjorn Tobiasson on 03.3.12 @ 8:20AM

    Thinking of buying it and using it for FCP 7. But reading the comment about the grain altering the brightness of the image got me worried. Can anyone clarify why this is happening and why?

    • For using final cut pro with Rgrain, use a brightness and contrast effect instead of lowering the opacity. Just lower contrast or add some to adjust the amount of grain. FCP 7 acts weird when using opacity / overlay… In FCP X and all other NLE there’s no issues. Works like a charm. Love Rgrain.

  • Rgrain is brilliant, easy to use and saving me a lot time! Love it!

  • If you do a comparison, please take a look at these other competing products as well.

    And this one is upcoming but I think they have it ready for reviewers.

  • Check out It’s the only film grain that goes up to 5k in native resolution and it has photography grain as well. It’s also way cheaper than the competitors.

  • What do you guys think about these film grain plates?
    (Joe, you might want to include it in your future comparison. I think you should ask the authors that they provide you film grain footage for comparison)