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FilmConvert – a plugin to recreate the look of the photochemical film with footage from digital cameras – has been around since 2012. In 2019 an update came out: FilmConvert NITRATE. Initially, it was only available for OFX hosts and Adobe video applications. Recently the Final Cut Pro X version came out. I gave it a spin.
I have been using FilmConvert in Final Cut Pro X since it came out, so I got the update as soon as it was released and want to share my first impression with you.
The basic functionality has not changed in FilmConvert NITRATE: The plugin is applied to a clip in the timeline and a button in the inspector opens a nodal GUI window that updates with the respective settings when you move from clip to clip that has the plugin applied – very handy.
In this GUI you still have the basic controls. These allow you to select a supported camera and the gamma the footage has been recorded in. If your camera is supported you can download a “camera pack”. These allow FilmConvert NITRATE to normalize footage precisely from a wide variety of recording formats. In then applies one of the 19 provided film stock emulations. The same film stocks that were available in the old version.
Before the conversion is applied, Exposure, Color Temperature, and Tint can be adjusted. You also have the choice to dial back how much of the film stocks gamma and color you want to apply.
The Grain system can now be adjusted both in strength and saturation. There is a curve editor to fine-tune your grain amount for Blacks, Shadows, Mids, Highlights, and Whites separately. The grain is not even across the frame in real film, so this also adds to the realism. 6K grain scans are perfectly fine for use on 4K material. Each film stock emulation has a preset curve that also helps to sell the effect.
Further down in the interface there is a simple 3-way color corrector with a global saturation slider, a histogram with Black, Mids- and Whites sliders as well as the new YRGB curves corrector.
I don’t use FilmConvert in every production, but when I need to take the video edge off a production fast – it’s my go-to solution and one of the very few plugins I have not gotten rid of over the years. When I finish projects in Final Cut Pro X, I use it almost every time, and be it just to add a touch of the film look and a pinch of grain.
I find the NITRATE version of FilmConvert a little easier to use than the previous plugin. I love the curves controls and I very much appreciate that with the bundle I can use it in Final Cut Pro X and Resolve if need be.
You can download a free trial at filmconvert.com and aside from single-host plugins they offer a cross platform (Mac & Windows) bundle of all the FilmConvert plugins for all available hosts (upgrade pricing is also available. I would very much appreciate a few more film stocks to choose from. Also, some kind of halation simulation would be dope.
Do you have any questions, or would like to share your favorite film look plugin with us? Let us know in the comments!
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Florian Gintenreiter is an award winning freelance cinematographer who learned his craft exposing photochemical film. Now he is bringing the same care and diligence from shooting film into today's fast moving digital world.