Here is my complete Cinegrain Overview – covering everything you need to know:
What is Film Grain
For our purposes I define Film Grain as a Uniform Texture that sits “above” video footage, giving it interesting and unique qualities. Many would describe it as “Cinematic”
Years ago all film was shot on individual rolls of film – a process which creates grain. Over time our eyes got used to seeing grain in films. Today, most of the cameras we use are digital (I use a GH5) resulting in no grain. Some confuse grain with digital noise (which results from high iso), but not grain. In order to match the aesthetic qualities commonly associated with films, editors will add grain in post-production.
Benefits of Using Film Grain
Let’s say you have two completely different pieces of footage shot with two different cameras and you’re looking to match the footage. Putting a layer of film grain over the two can make them look much more uniform and coherent.
Grain is almost always used in special effects to “tie” the footage together. In the above example, I did double exposure with two completely separate videos. Putting them both together looks unnatural, but after applying a layer of grain it looks a lot more cohesive.
Banding is very ugly circles in the gradients. This often gets worse with when the footage is compressed and uploaded to Youtube or Vimeo. Placing a layer of grain over the footage will attempt to hide the banding- making it a little less noticeable.
I like to think of grain as the equivalent of mastering in music – the last step to “glue your piece together” – giving it a uniform texture and feel
There are a ton of companies out there such as Film Convert, Gorilla Grain, Red Giant and a ton of free ones making beautiful grain. The main difference between them is how the grain is implemented
Most companies use digital grain – meaning, grain is created through an algorithm and can be adjusted with a slider (as shown in the image on the right). This is great because the grain is very customizable, but the downside is that you are working with the digital grain.
Where Cinegrain shines is the fact that they take actual grain scans. So, when you use Cinegrain, you’re using actual film. While it is digital in a way, it is also incredibly analog – allowing for unique vibes and interesting aesthetic.
Cinegrain is mailed via a 2TB hard drive with a seemingly endless supply of grain scans. Using it is as simply as dropping the .mov files over your footage and setting the blend mode to ‘overlay’.
I discuss this in great detail in the video above
It’s fast, easy to use and looks great – however, it is very expensive (currently around $1,000). Due to the price tag, I feel like the average filmmaker is much better off looking into the alternatives.
You do not need Cinegrain to make films with amazing grains. Unless you have a lot of extra cash lying around I recommend going with one of the alternatives, such as FilmConvert.