No matter how sophisticated your hardware is, video never looks as good as film. With DigiEffects' CineLook Broadcast, a new plug-in for Adobe Systems' After Effects 3.0, you can change all that.
Aimed at film and broadcast professionals, this powerful $695 (no UK price set at press time) filter allows you to alter video to make it look like traditional film stock. Grain, colour adjustments and film-like blurring can be added through the plug-in's controls. In addition, a special set of tools lets you easily create the look of old, damaged film.
CineLook can process frame sizes up to 768 by 486 pixels. CineLook FilmRes, priced at $1,995 and due in the first quarter of 1998, will process frame sizes up to After Effects' full 4,000 by 4,000 pixels. CineLook needs a lot of computing power. DigiEffects recommends at least a 132MHz 604 processor and at least 48MB of RAM (twice the amount of RAM required by After Effects).
Looks like grain
Unlike some other After Effects plug-ins, CineLook does not take advantage of multiple processors, but the company said a future release will. For optimal results with CineLook, you should use the best quality video possible, ideally Hi-8 or BetaCam.
The program offers settings for more than 50 film stocks, ranging from black-&-white 8mm film to several brands of high-speed 35mm film. You select a film stock from a pop-up menu in After Effects' Effects window. If the particular film stock or look you want isn't there, you can create your own by making changes to more than 50 parameters.
Like most After Effects plug-ins, these parameters can be changed numerically or through slider controls. DigiEffects goes further by including a completely separate environment for changing grain settings, colour curves and blur.
Similar to Adobe Photoshop's Variations dialogue, CineLook's ChromaMatch dialogue provides before-and-after previews and thumbnail views of the current frame with different settings applied.
CineLook's Curves controls, which can operate in RGB or HSL colour space, provide an easy, powerful way to make colour changes to a video clip.
As with all After Effects plug-ins, CineLook's effects can be stacked up with others on the same video clip.
CineLook's results are incredible. The film grain, whether fine 35mm or big, grainy 8mm, is authentic, while the preset colour changes really do look like film. DigiEffect's engineers have an amazing understanding of how film and film cameras work. Consequently, CineLook does much more than simply add noise and colour changes. Complex blurrings and adjustments to separate colour channels allow the program to mimic everything from the way a camera focuses light onto film to the lighting and focusing anomalies of a camera's rotating shutter.
CineLook is also speedy, averaging seven seconds a frame when applying a preset film stock to a video clip on our 180MHz, 604e-based Power Mac.
The DigiEffects package also includes FilmDamage, a filter that makes video clips look old and damaged. With a plethora of controls and parameters, FilmDamage adds tone changes, shutter flicker, vertical scratches, wiggling hairs, stains, jitter and more. While it's a little less useful than CineLook, it is no less impressive.
Macworld's buying advice
CineLook Broadcast is a bit pricey for someone who's just looking for a cool, film-like special effect; for that, DigiEffects' Aurorix collection of After Effects plug-ins includes a very nice Film Clutter effect. Professional film and broadcast users, however, will find CineLook much more affordable than using a professional effects house. For high-end users who need to combine videocomputer graphics and film, it's an indispensable product - let's get that UK distribution sorted out fast!
(ED Note: DigiEffects now has distribution in the UK, check out the reseller page on the DigiEffects web site)