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That Old Film Magic

Creating an aged film look in After Effects Pro By Stephen Schleicher

Over the last couple of months Ive gone over some film look treatments that you can do yourself in Adobe After Effects without the need of an expensive plug-in.  In this AE6.5 exercise, Ill demonstrate how you can use Fractal Noise to really age a video clip complete with vignette, scratches and crud marks.

Fractal Noise is, by far, the most versatile effect in the entire After Effects package.  Besides just creating a fractal noise pattern for whatever weird bacteria commercial you are working on, it can be used in a variety of situation from creating puffy clouds to TV interference noise to scratches and crud on a piece of film that has seen better days.  What makes this effect one of the best ones in the set is the fact that you can adjust the width and height amount to stretch the noise in any direction.  I first picked this trick up way back in 1997 when working with fractal noise in LightWave 3D as a way of creating a brushed metal surface, and it is this trick we will use to create scratches on our video.

Film scratches come in two shades; black or white.  Black scratches are created during the shoot (perhaps by a dirty gate) and appear on the negative as white lines.  When the positive print is made (the one you see in the theatre), the white becomes black.  White scratches are created on the print of the film after it has been run through too many dirty projectors and the emulsion is scratched off.  This is what you typically see at the $1.00 movie houses; the print has been though so many theatres and projectors that by the time it hits the cheap-o theatre it is in pretty rough shape.  It is the white scratches we will be creating in this project.

Step 1:  Create a New Composition and Import your video clip.  Place the clip in your Timeline.

For this exercise, I went and shot The Great Race (www.greatrace.com) that came through Hays, KS this week. The race is being run this year between Jacksonville, FL and Monterey, CA. Check the site to see if the race is coming through your community.

Step 2:  Create a New Solid (Command+Y on the Mac, Control+Y on the PC).  Make the solid the same size as the composition.  At this point the color does not matter.  Name the layer Scratches.

Step 3:  To the Scratches layer, apply the Fractal Noise effect. 

When you think about it, scratches on film are nothing more than random noise.  The difference between the scratches and the default Fractal Noise effect is that the scratches are long and narrow, while the default settings for Fractal Noise are big and splotchy.  Like the brushed metal looked I learned many ages ago, scratches can be created by changing the size of the Fractal Noise pattern.

Beginner Tip:
What?  You say your Scale Height value only goes up to 600?  While it is true that the slider for the Scale Height range from 20 to 600, you can actually enter a value much larger.  Click on the blue Scale Height value and enter that outrageously large number.  While you can enter values larger than 600, you can not enter values larger than 10000.
Step 4:  In the Effects Control Panel, twirl down the Transform Property.  Turn off Uniform Scaling and change the Scale Height to an outrageously large number like 10000.

The result is something more akin to a light beam effect than that of scratches.  This setting could be applied to the ?Beam Me Up exercise and used in conjunction with the sparkling particles to give a different look.


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Related Keywords:old film, after effects, adobe, professional, fractal noise, schleicher, tutorial, great race, crud, aged film


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