How to Create a CCTV Video Effect With or Without Plugins
Learn how to degrade your image to make it look like security camera footage.
Whether you're shooting a movie about a bank heist or a found footage horror flick, you might be playing with the idea of having a scene that includes CCTV footage. And since it's totally ludicrous to use an actual security camera to shoot it, you have to find ways to degrade and colorize your images to make them look as if you did. The folks over at Film Riot show you how to pull it off with third party plugins, as well as with the tools native to Adobe After Effects in the tutorial below. Check it out:
The main point here is degrading your image to make it match the look of a security camera. So, the first thing you want to think about if you haven't already shot your footage is what kind of camera you're going to use. Film Riot uses a GoPro, which provides that wide angle look of a CCTV camera, as well as an image quality that might be poorer than your 4K workhorse camera. I'm pretty sure any SD or HD camera would do just fine—your phone might actually be a good choice, too—but you might have to use "optics compensation" in After Effects to give it that wide angle look.
Next is adjusting the colors and levels in your footage. If you have a plugin specifically designed to replicate security camera footage, sweet! Film Riot uses Red Giant's Holomatrix, but if you don't have the cash to splurge on plugins you can also use different tools right in After Effects to get pretty much the same look.
A few key things you'll want to do is:
- Change frame rate with Posterize Time
- Degrade the image with Posterize, Gaussian Blur, and Sharpen
- Use Curves to add contrast and crush blacks
- Desaturate if you want black and white
- Add text and timecode (with native "Numbers" plugin in After Effects)
- Add Gaussian and Directional Blur to text and timecode to make it look crappy like your footage
And there you go! It's really a simple process even without a plugin. What are some other ways to make video look like security footage? Let us know in the comments below!