How to Replicate the Dreamy 'Deakinizer' Effect in Post

The Assassination of Jesse James
Roger Deakins pulled off this dreamy effect in-camera, but here's how you can do it in post using DaVinci Resolve.

Roger Deakins is one of the most exciting, visionary DPs working today, blowing audiences away with the gorgeous imagery in films like 1917, Blade Runner 2049, and No Country for Old Men. What filmmaker doesn't want their work to have at least hints of the Oscar-winning cinematographer's iconic aesthetic? 

While reproducing his creative sensibility is impossible, you can use some of the tricks he has used to give his work that unique flair, like the old-time camera effect from The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, which produces an intriguingly dreamy tilt-shift/split diopter vignetting via lenses dubbed "Deakinizers".

In this video, certified DaVinci Resolve trainer Lewis McGregor, (you probably know him as Ugly McGregor) shows you how to create this effect quickly in post—no "Deakinizer" lenses required.

As you can see from the tutorial, recreating this effect is really straightforward and simple.

You're essentially applying 2 different blur effects: Tilt-shift blur (applied once horizontally and once vertically) and Prism blur. From there, you can add some film grain and do some color grading if you want to further change your image's look.

Now, maybe you're more into achieving this look in-camera like Deakins. How do you do that?

Well, Deakins explained how he pulled it off in an interview with American Cinematographer back in 2007, saying, "I used to use this gag where I put a small lens element in front of a 50mm to get a similar effect. I went to Otto Nemenz and asked how we could create that effect in a better way, with more flexibility and lens length. The lens technician suggested taking the front element off a 9.8 Kinoptic, and also mounting the glass from old wide-angle lenses to the front of a couple of Arri Macros. Otto now rents out three Deakinizers. Removing the front element makes the lens faster, and it also gives you this wonderful vignetting and slight color diffraction around the edges. We used different lenses, so some were more extreme or slightly longer than others. Sometimes we used [Kardan] Shift & Tilt lenses to get a similar effect."

The test footage below shows you how these "Deakinizers" affect the image. If you want to know more about the construction of each lens, American Cinematographer included a great write-up with the video.

What are some other interesting in-camera effects you can recreate in post? Let us know down below.     

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