DO YOU KNOW YOUR MEDIUM? (free home-brew film grain + some rambling)

Lately I've been watching interviews and reading articles about the great cinematographers of our time. Each have vastly different backgrounds and upbringings, differences in taste and style and opinions about what works and what doesn't. The one thing that was consistent throughout however, was their knowledge of the medium they worked with - in most cases, film. One of the obvious limitations of film was that you never REALLY knew what you were going to get. You had to "know" what you were going to get, based on your experiences  behind the camera and time spent in DI (digital intermediate) suites. You really had to KNOW how a certain film stock would react to the scene at hand. But take it a step further, and then you have the ones that would play around with chemical processes, experiment with flashing and other techniques....all to get a desired and deliberate finished look. The point being that today, we don't shoot with film. Today, we shoot with digital cameras that either bake in a look for us, or shoot in formats that need to be developed. This means that today's cinematographers need to learn how to process digital formats like RAW, 4:4:4 and other high fidelity flavors of digital image capture. Without an intimate knowledge of how to process your images, you are missing out on some huge potential. I've mentioned how important lighting, lensing and composition is to the art of cinematography, but let's not forget the importance of mastering your capture medium.

This post won't cover how to do that unfortunately (there's an ever-growing tutorial collection at the top of this page for that), but I'll be sure to follow up with some new material soon. I do however, have something pretty cool to share with you. Shooting digital often means capturing a super clean, grainless image which seems to be critizied by the old schooler's as looking too "digital" or "overly sharp and clinical". This is why everyone wants "the film look". What the hell is the film look anyway!!?!? Rather than go into that, I'm happy to share with you a project that allows you to create you're very own, customized, organic film grain for 4K. All you need to do is find or scan your own 5000 x 3000pixel (approx 16mp) film grain image, import it and voila! 32 seconds of awesome FREE film grain, in 4KHD. I have supplied one already to go, so go ahead and download it from the downloads section at the top of the page and watch the tutorial below for more info.

If Vimeo is playing up (above), try this YouTube version :)

Posted on August 20, 2013 .