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Making your footage look like film (if you're into that sort of thing)

Top Contributor

For years have I been trying to dial in the most 'filmic' look for my look. That doesn't always mean grainy, etc. To me, that just means pleasing and rich tones and colors, ultra-smooth highlight roll-off, and some form of 'x factor' that you can't describe. 

I've recently come across Dehancer, a plugin for NLE's and I thought it would be a good time to run-through an ultra quick workflow for how I get things looking filmic.

0.) Protect your highlights, use filtration, and a vintage lens (you don't have to).

1.) Blur the image to your liking (or not at all). When you compare film to digital, the first thing you'll notice is how sharp the digital image is.

2.) Blur the edges. Vintage lenses aren't perfect, especially around the edges. Create a subtle vignette blur and see if you like it.

3.) Grade your footage well. I personally use Phantom Luts and right now VisionTeal is my favorite one in the bunch. It instantly gives the 'x factor' film look that I am going for for a lot of my work.

4.) Add grain, halation, and blooming (to taste). 

Check out the few images below of my most recent grade experimenting with Dehancer for the first time. What do you think? Do you have any tips to make your images look more like film?

PACHAMAMA dh 2.JPGSanta Cruz Lodge d5 2.JPGSanta Cruz Lodge d4 2.JPGSanta Cruz Lodge d3 2.JPGSanta Cruz Lodge d2 2.JPGSanta Cruz Lodge d1 2.JPG


Top Contributor

I'm into this sort of thing. These evoke like an 8mm, Super8mm look to me! What about using vintage lenses themselves? I just wrote up some tips on how I like to use 'em, although it's only half the battle. Will keep Dehancer in mind. 

yea dude thanks. as far as vintage lenses go, they're one of the first places in your signal chain where you can take the sharp digital edge off.

Top Contributor

I think the significant impact of lenses on the final image is often overlooked, although if you start with a pristine image many optical characteristics can be reproduced fairly convincingly in post. A big part of the appeal of anamorphic is all the imperfections that the cylinder lens adds.

And defining the film look is next to impossible. The colour sections of Wizard of Oz like many 3 strip technicolour productions looks sharp, vibrant and colourful, dare I say video like. Some of this probably stems from the use of a prism in the optical path similar to that used on 3 chip video cameras. Vista Vision films have an immense amount of detail and very little grain. That combined with low distortion levels thanks to the use of spherical lenses tends to lead to Vistavision films lacking any obvious "character". Then in the 80's super 35mm became popular as it was relatively low cost and films became are more grainy and "crunchy". But the things that generally separate feature films and other big budget film productions from everything else is attention to detail, carefully considered framing and composition, good lighting and great care over exposure.

Alister Chapman