Film grain is something that is useful to every colorist, visual effects artist, and all filmmakers in general. Whether you like the look of film grain or not, it can be a very useful subliminal tool that can help reduce the visible banding, add texture after noise reduction, and generally take the digital "edge" off your footage, sometimes without even making grain visible.
In a time when many are shooting at very high resolutions, up to 6K, and digital cameras, even at 1080p, are so sharp and clean, adding film grain helps adds some "motion" to the frame that our brains have almost subliminally come to expect. On the technical side, it can help break up visual "banding" and help bring back some "life" after a heavy noise reduction pass (when necessary). Unfortunately, as Vimeo and YouTube compression mainly destroys all but the heaviest of grain, the best experience is on the big screen or watching BluRays, especially older films. You'd be amazed at the variety and uniqueness of each film stock AND each film, as the process of film development itself caused variations between each reel of developed film. Working with digital negatives, we only have to match different digital cameras formats, but color timers (the analog precursor to digital colorists) working with film had to match each DAYS work coming back from the film development lab, and ensure all the negative was being developed consistently and up to that timer's personal level of quality.
The other night I was trying to finish a project at UHD (16:9 4K) and when searching for high quality 4K film grain, I was sorely disappointed. Either the scans we so costly that they ate the projects entire budget or they looked like badly faked digital grain (some looked liked they were created with the noise effect in After Effects, honestly). In my frustration, I came upon an idea that would allow me to create my own "emulated" film grain AND give it some variety (hence the emulated aspect, as I manually attempted to add the "Kodak" and "Fuji" qualities I saw in true high-quality 1080p film scans) . As I'm experimenting with the development, I decided it would be a great time to get feedback WHILE giving back. In other words, These 4K ProRes film grain clips can be downloaded for free using the link below. I simply ask that you will leave some feedback so I can make them better in the future. They are available as 35mm, 16mm, and 8mm, all with a Kodak and Fuji variety, that can be downloaded below.
Please enjoy and share these with others. Thanks again for the feedback, which can be left below.
Tips for Use: In your chosen NLE or compositor, layer the film grain on top of your footage. Change the composite / blend mode to overlay (although you can experiment with other modes). The film grain is fairly subtle (especially 35mm), so you can stack, rotate, flip and otherwise manipulate them for a more intense and varied effect. You can also adjust contrast or sharpening of the grain to intensify \ reduce the effect. In testing, 8mm doesn't stack as well due to the large size of the grain. Enjoy!
Huge thanks to Jarred Land and Matt Scott for the source footage used in the demo video.