From Glass to Software
Tiffen’s DfX filters for Post Production
So let's say you want your footage to have a specific aesthetic, but would rather not spend top dollar on expensive glass filters or a new piece of hardware. The Tiffen DfX plug-in for Final Cut Pro can likely help. Whether you're a professional editor, videographer, or simply just an enthusiast, this unique digital filter suite really packs a punch, regardless of experience level.
First, I should mention how easy the entire package was to install. I just ran the one install file and grabbed my license key. In seconds, hundreds of new filters were at my fingertips. It really couldn't have been any easier.
Browsing through the new folders in my effects tab quickly revealed just how many new filters I had to choose from. I won't be able to review every one in this article. Instead I'll go over a few applications where DfX can really come in handy.
Ok, so what if I wanted that "gritty" look for a project; think "Fight Club" or "The Shield". Well, there's a few ways to go about it, some methods are certainly more difficult than others.
Option 1: I could shoot the entire project on 16mm film with all its nice grain and desirable blown-out highlights. The major hurdle involved with this option is that I'd likely need a crew, not to mention a 16mm camera with some decent film stock. I'd also have to get all that film developed. Development could include a few extra hits on my wallet, including as bleach bypass or something similar. Ugh, talk about being expensive and time consuming!
Option 2: I could use a high definition video camera and shoot my desired look by changing the scene file settings. The major problem with that method is I could potentially "lock" myself into a certain style. If there's a good field monitor around, this method might be okay (sometimes preferred.) With no monitor, I could have footage that's very hard to work with during post-production. For some projects, option #2 might be too limiting, especially if the director wants to experiment with various styles.
Option 3: I could shoot all my footage with dynamic range preservation and noise reduction in mind and make my adjustments using DfX filters. The added flexibility can be really helpful in a variety of situations.
Let's take a look at this scene I shot on my Panasonic HVX200.
The HVX200 is nice because DVCPRO HD gives me 4:2:2 color space; in short, my footage likes filters… a lot. I'm looking to make this footage a little gritty. First I think we need to brighten up the scene. This shot appears to be exposed rather poorly (go me!) Well, let's see what we can do… how about I throw some simple color correction on the shot using DfX.
That's much better. Next I think we want to use the Bleach Bypass filter. This filter simulates the oft-used method that's sometimes implemented when color film is developed, known by the same name or sometimes referred to as ‘skip-bleaching'. In film it can add some additional depth to footage by introducing a more gritty style. How about we throw this on our shot and see what happens…
As you can see the result comes in form of more contrast across the shot with blown-out highlights and crushed blacks. I think I dig it. My only issue is that I'd like the scene to be a tad brighter. I'm in luck since that's something I can tweak using the color correction filter. Commence increase-brightness!
Lastly, I think it would be nice to throw in some film grain for good measure. Perhaps I wasn't able to shoot on 16mm, using DfX however, I can definitely make it look like I did. The coolest part about the Grain filter in DfX is that it has many presets which actually simulate certain film stocks. How awesome is that? Super awesome in my book.
There we go. Now, when I watch this scene in Final Cut Pro, it's very close to what I originally considered doing; shooting on 16mm film. This was all accomplished in my NLE with underexposed footage and only a few seconds of rendering. Can't beat that!
There are so many things to explore within this filter package and I've only began explore all the possibilities. What if I need to make a scene look like a dream sequence? It's got that. How about warming some shots recorded under florescent lights? Easy as a drag and click. Well, I think I'm going to go explore some more, until next time, happy shooting!
Tiffen DfX is available in several packages, including Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop, Avid DfX and Apple Aperture.
For a list of all products highlighted in this article, click here.