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Photography

Film Emulation for Digital Video, Explained

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:ShortLanguages:

In this lesson we examine film emulators, reviewing their common features and suggested uses. Film emulation is the process of converting digital footage to appear as if it was shot on film. This process works by matching the color values of digital footage to different film stocks. Film emulation can be achieved through stand-alone software, with plugins, or by using color look-up tables (often called LUTs).

Mentioned in This Tutorial

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Today we're going to take a look at film
emulation software. When DSLRs first

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hit the market the film look was all about
shallow depth of field. Recently, there's

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been added edit shift toward
film emulation, which changes the color values of

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digital footage more closely match
common film stocks. This can be achieved

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through stand-alone software, plug-ins
such as those for After Effects, Resolve,

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or Premier Pro, or by using color lookup
tables commonly referred to as LUTs.

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An easy way to think about this is that
it's the same process as color matching

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two different digital cameras using a
color checker chart, except now you're color

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matching your digital footage to a color
chart shot on film.

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So how does it a film emulator work,
and what all can it do? While all film emulators have

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different interfaces and specific
advantages, there are some general

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features they are usually share. Lookup tables are a bit different and we'll look at those in

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a second. With film emulators you have imported your footage you'll the option

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to specify which camera model and
color profile you shot with, such as cine-style

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S-log 2, or neutral. Once you've input
that information you can move on to

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the film settings best-looking which
film stock you want to convert your

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footage to. There are a variety of popular film stocks to choose from, like Kodak, Fuji and

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Polaroid.

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Adding in film grain is another popular
feature to film emulators.

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This can help really sell the look. Different
grains are typically scans of actual

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film grain from their respective film
stocks and using grain will also break up

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any color banding or unwanted artifacts
that could result on footage with a

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lower color bitrate. Other color
adjustment and fine-tuning options are usually

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included as well, and some even give you
the option to select your films size, such as

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35, 16, or 8mm, which will cut down on details
to match the vintage look. Look-up tables

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are more be quick drag-and-drop option
that can quickly color match your digital

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footage to specific film look. LUTs
won't have the same fine-tune options

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or grain but these settings can often
be tweaked in the programs you're already

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using to color grade with such as
DaVinci Resolve or After Effects. Since LUTs

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can usually be acquired individually or
in small sets these a more affordable option

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if you're doing something quick or on a
budget. It's worth noting though that most film

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emulators include a host of LUTs along
with their software, so you can also use

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those LUTs outside the application if
needed. In my opinion fil-emulated footage

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makes it easier to create your own
signature look

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because it allows you to quickly and
effectively stear your footage away from

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the sterile look of digital cameras. This
allows for more moody a nostalgic color

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grade.

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This look may not be for everyone though.
Some of the downsides to film emulation

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would be the higher contrast
look that is often associated with it. This can

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tear down the high dynamic range
appearance that you may have wanted to go for.

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This can still usually be adjusted
back to taste though through fine-tuning.

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Lower saturation can be another downside. This is because older film stocks typically

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weren't is highly saturated as the digital
looks we have now. This doesn't mean you can't

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achieve high saturation though, and again
this can still be tuned to taste, but

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just keep in mind when emulation is
first applied the footage may become

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desaturated, and if you're working with a
client isn't used to lower saturated

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film look they may perceive the footage
is being bland. I personally like this

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look, but to each their own.

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Some suggested uses for film emulation
would be any projects you want to have a

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throwback aesthetic on, or just projects you want to stray away from the standard digital

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look. I really enjoy using filling station
on CG and motion graphics to help give

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organic feel and to blend them in with my
footage. So there's definitely a variety of uses for

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film emulation. Finally, just a wrap up, two film emulators I highly recommend would be

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Koji Color which was developed by Del
Grande, a color timer for Steven

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Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola, and
Film Convert, which works with a host

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applications as well as a standalone version. Also good place to start if you're

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looking for film LUTS would be Vision
Color and their thirty five-millimeter

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film emulation packs. I'll provide links for all these in the blog description. This has been Charles Yeager for Tuts+,

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thanks for watching.



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