Once you dive into the world of content creation, film grain is something you might come across – but what is film grain? When people talk about film grain texture or film grain overlay, what do they mean? Don’t worry. We got you covered.
What is film grain?
Film grain comes from the process of analog filmmaking on equipment like Super 8 or VHS cameras. It’s the little specks, lines, and squiggles you’d see in an old movie, home video, photo, or TV program. These imperfections are collectively known as granularity, and they come from the metal particles present in the processed film reel.
It’s a random physical texture that’s always present when recording with physical celluloid film; it can be affected by variables like lens adjustment or the shutter speed of a camera. But basically, it’s a result of ye olde timey film equipment. So, when you can do everything digitally, why do people still harp on about film grain today?
Well, it’s kind of like vinyl. Some people like the warm, fuzzy feeling that analog music brings. Others would rather stick to their high-fidelity streams. If you want your content to look like it was filmed a long time ago, film grain is your friend.
Is film grain good or bad?
It’s a subjective thing and depends on what you’re aiming for with your content. As with most effects, film grain can be digitally created as an overlay on your work. This means you can shoot something digitally, then rough it up while editing to give it a specific feel. If you want to learn a little more about the best video editing apps and software, click here.
You probably wouldn’t use film grain in a corporate sales video or a how-to guide on business development. However, if you were filming some throwback 1970s-themed content to edit for a music video or an establishing shot, then film grain could be used to enhance the footage and lend it an authentic feel. Groovy.
Whether you’re shooting a vintage Western, filming a light-hearted recruitment video, or chroma keying your actors into a space-age epic, you’ll need something to soundtrack it adequately. At Epidemic Sound, you can rifle through our catalog based on genre, mood, length, tempo, and whether it’s vocal or instrumental – so you’ll never be stuck for ideas!
How do I use film grain in my content?
Even though it originates from an analog format, film grain is pretty easy to add to your content. Here’s how!
- First of all, you need to find the film grain you want to add to your content. There are thousands of different options, and paid-for services like Gorilla Grain, Holygrain, Rocket Stock, and more offer a wealth of material for under a hundred bucks. These services also throw out some freebies, and you can snag some more free grains from VisionCOLOR, Grainzilla, and Vegasaur, to name a few.
- Next, add the film grain to your editing software of choice. Double-check the grain is compatible with your editing software before hitting the download button, but they’re usually available in MP4 format. This means they’re compatible with Adobe software like Premiere Pro, Photoshop, and After Effects.
- Just drag and drop! In Premiere Pro and After Effects, you just drag the file onto your project timeline, change the blend mode to OVERLAY, and you're done! In Photoshop, you can create your own film grain overlays by adding noise in the Layer option.
From there, you can edit to your heart’s content. Film grain is a great way to inject your storytelling with some character and context, and you’d be remiss to stop at the visuals. Check out the sounds that’ll suit your fuzzed-up fantasies, and don’t let copyright and licensing get in the way with our royalty-free catalog.
Are you a video editor or filmmaker? Whether you’re an absolute master or just a beginner, discover what Epidemic Sound has to offer on our Epidemic Sound for Filmmaking page. Oh, and if you’re looking for some background music for your videos, we got you covered.