In the world of filmmaking and video editing, achieving a filmic look is often a highly sought-after goal. The rich tonality, smooth transitions, and unique color characteristics of film have long been considered the gold standard of visual storytelling. This distinct appearance not only adds depth and emotion to the visuals but also lends an air of authenticity and professionalism to the final product.
As a result, filmmakers and editors alike continually search for tools and techniques that can help them replicate the charm and allure of traditional film stocks in their digital projects. Enter Filmbox, a plugin for DaVinci Resolve that has been making waves in the industry for its exceptional film emulation capabilities.
In this review, we’ll dive deep into the features and performance of Filmbox and explore why it has become an indispensable tool for achieving that classic filmic look in the digital age.
Introduction to Filmbox plugin for DaVinci Resolve
Filmbox is a powerful OFX plugin specifically designed for DaVinci Resolve, a widely-used and respected color grading and video editing software. The plugin emulates Kodak’s Vision 3 series of film stocks, offering users an extensive range of options to choose from, such as 250D, 500T, 200T, and 50D. These options represent the ASA numbers, denoting the sensitivity and speed of the film stocks, and are further categorized into daylight (D) and tungsten (T) balanced variations.
What sets Filmbox apart from other film emulation tools is its commitment to faithfully reproduce the entire series of film stocks, providing users with an environment that emulates the entire film production chain. With a range of features and controls, Filmbox allows users to achieve a filmic look with a high degree of accuracy and customization.
Purpose: Emulating Kodak’s Vision 3 series of film stocks
The primary purpose of the Filmbox plugin is to emulate Kodak’s Vision 3 series of film stocks, allowing filmmakers and video editors to replicate the authentic look and feel of shooting on film. With its extensive range of options, Filmbox gives users the ability to choose from various film stocks, each designed for specific lighting conditions and creative purposes.
Filmbox’s detailed emulation process is based on real-world film scan data, which has been thoroughly tested and characterized for each film stock. This level of detail and precision ensures that the plugin delivers accurate and consistent results, closely replicating the distinct characteristics of each film stock.
By offering the full range of Kodak’s Vision 3 series, Filmbox provides users with an extensive toolkit for achieving their desired filmic look. Whether working on interior shots with tungsten lights or shooting outdoors in bright daylight, the plugin offers suitable options for every situation, helping filmmakers and video editors create visually stunning and authentic-looking footage.
Environment for emulating the entire film production chain
One of the standout features of the Filmbox plugin is its ability to provide an environment that closely replicates the entire film production chain. This comprehensive approach ensures that users can achieve an authentic filmic look that takes into account various aspects of the film-making process, from shooting to processing and printing.
The plugin’s interface is designed to resemble a complete film lab, enabling users to access and control various elements that would typically be part of a film production workflow. By offering an all-in-one solution, Filmbox allows users to fine-tune each stage of the process and achieve the desired look without needing to rely on multiple plugins or external tools.
Some of the key components of the Filmbox environment include:
- Source: You can use Filmbox plugin with a lot of different cameras, no matter if you shoot on Arri, RED, Sony, etc. It has got you covered.
- Camera settings: This section allows users to adjust exposure, temperature, and tint to match the conditions and desired look for their footage.
- Negative controls: Here, users can select the specific film stock emulation they want to work with, as well as the film gauge and other related settings.
- Print controls: These options enable users to adjust the density of the image and the contrast curve, either by using the full contrast range of the film emulation or dialing it back for a softer look while still retaining film tonality.
- Advanced settings: This section provides access to additional features such as the Halation model, grain settings, and GateWeave, among others, for achieving the perfect filmic look.
- Targeting Display Color Space: You can color grade using Filmbox for any color space be it, Rec.709 Gamma 2.3, DCI P3 or even HDR.
- Scene-Referred Workflow: Filmbox is designed to work in scene-referred workflows. It can be used while staying in the ACES or Davinci Wide Gamut without any issues.
- You can also export a LUT after doing a look development using Filmbox, to use it in the camera on set while shooting.
- It is now available for both Mac and Windows.
Algorithm-based emulation for smoother tonality and transitions
One of the most notable aspects of the Filmbox plugin is its algorithm-based emulation approach, which sets it apart from traditional LUT-based solutions. By utilizing complex mathematical calculations and operating in a floating-point space, Filmbox is able to deliver smoother tonality and transitions compared to many of its competitors.
This advanced emulation method allows for more nuanced and accurate color reproduction, resulting in images that are not only visually pleasing but also more true to the original film stocks being emulated. The smoother tonality and transitions can be particularly noticeable in gradients, where the Filmbox plugin excels at creating seamless transitions between colors without harsh edges or contouring.
In comparison, LUT-based solutions may produce less smooth transitions, with visible ridges or abrupt changes in color. These issues can detract from the overall quality and realism of the image, making it less filmic and authentic.
Customization and Controls
Advanced settings for color, tone, grain, and more
One of the standout features of the Filmbox plugin is the extensive range of customization options and controls it offers, allowing users to achieve the precise look they’re after. These advanced settings provide filmmakers and video editors with the tools necessary to fine-tune various aspects of the film emulation process, including color, tone, grain, and more.
- Color and Tone: Filmbox allows users to adjust color and tone settings to achieve the desired look and feel for their footage. Users can manipulate the color balance, saturation, and contrast to match the specific characteristics of their chosen film stock, or create a unique visual style that suits their project.
- Grain: The grain feature in Filmbox is highly customizable and provides an authentic, organic feel that adds depth and texture to the footage. Users can control the size, intensity, and appearance of the grain to achieve the desired level of realism. Additionally, Filmbox offers the option to add dust and other film artifacts for those seeking a truly vintage film look.
- Halation Model: Filmbox boasts an impressive halation model, enabling users to recreate the subtle glow around bright highlights that is characteristic of traditional film stocks. This feature adds an extra layer of depth and realism to the footage, enhancing the overall filmic aesthetic.
- Gate Weave: The Gate Weave feature in Filmbox simulates the subtle jitter often seen in vintage films. By incorporating this subtle movement into the footage, users can achieve a more authentic and nostalgic film look.
- Lab Settings: Filmbox provides users with lab settings that include controls for vibrance and contrast, allowing them to manipulate the overall appearance of their footage. The vibrance control, an alternate saturation adjustment, operates within Filmbox’s film processing model and delivers slightly different results compared to using the Color Boost function on the Resolve control panel.
- Push and Pull Process Slider: This feature enables users to replicate specific film processing techniques, such as shooting a stop under and then push processing the film for a distinct look. This level of control allows users to experiment with various processing techniques to achieve the desired visual style for their project.
- Split Toning Controls: Filmbox offers split toning controls that allow users to adjust the color balance in the highlights and shadows separately, providing even more customization options for creating the perfect filmic look.
Customizable tone curve and grayscale neutrality
Another notable aspect of Filmbox is its ability to provide users with extensive control over the tone curve and grayscale neutrality. These features allow filmmakers and video editors to create a truly personalized look and feel for their footage while maintaining the distinct tonality that film emulation provides.
Upon analyzing the standard curve, I was impressed by the striking film curve that bore a close resemblance to the original Kodak 2383 print LUT. There were only minor luminance differences between the two. When comparing grayscale images, both the Filmbox emulation and Kodak 2383 displayed a similar blue push in the mid-shadows and a yellow push in the highlights. Filmbox’s emulation appeared to have a slightly more pronounced teal-green tonality that extended farther up in the curve, which added to its allure.
- Customizable Tone Curve: Filmbox enables users to adjust the tone curve to their liking, offering complete control over the contrast levels of the footage. By manipulating the curve, users can increase or decrease the contrast, resulting in a final image that suits their creative vision. The ability to fine-tune the tone curve provides users with the flexibility to achieve the desired look, whether they’re aiming for a high-contrast, punchy image, or a more subdued and subtle aesthetic.
- Grayscale Neutrality: The grayscale neutrality feature in Filmbox is an innovative tool that allows users to neutralize the color components of the film emulation. By adjusting this setting, users can reintroduce the neutral colors from the original image, effectively isolating the tonality from the film emulation without any color manipulation. This feature is particularly valuable for those who appreciate the unique tonality that film emulation offers but prefer to apply their color grading touch without the filmic color influence.
Film emulation Print Styles: Full, Standard, and Extended
Film emulation styles are an important aspect of the customization and control options offered by Filmbox. These styles are designed to provide different levels of contrast and visual impact based on the project’s requirements. Filmbox offers three primary film emulation styles, including Full, Standard, and Extended.
The Full style incorporates the entire contrast range built into the film emulation, delivering a striking, high-contrast, and punchy image. This style is intentional and reflects the film curve characteristics present in these emulations, making it ideal for projects demanding a higher visual impact.
The Standard style provides a slightly reduced contrast level compared to the Full style, making it more fitting for projects that require a more balanced image with less contrast.
The Extended style further decreases the contrast levels, delivering a more modern beauty grading feel while maintaining rich tonality. This style can serve as an excellent foundation for grading and is particularly useful for projects that require a lower contrast level but still retain a captivating tonality.
Overall, these three film emulation styles provide filmmakers and colorists with a range of options to achieve their desired look and feel while still maintaining the essence of the film emulation.
Comparing Filmbox to other film emulation solutions
While there are several film emulation solutions on the market, Filmbox stands out due to its algorithm-based emulation and advanced customization options. When compared to LUT-based, Dehancer, or Film Convert, Filmbox delivers smoother tonality and transitions, resulting in a more pleasing visual experience. Additionally, Filmbox’s advanced settings for color, tone, and grain offer more precise control over the final image, allowing filmmakers to achieve their desired outcome more accurately.
In comparison to other film emulation plugins, Filmbox offers a more comprehensive emulation of the entire film production chain. With options for camera settings, negative emulation, lab settings, and print settings, Filmbox provides an all-encompassing environment for replicating the film look. Furthermore, the ability to fine-tune the film emulation to match specific project requirements makes Filmbox a versatile tool for filmmakers.
In conclusion, Filmbox is an excellent film emulation solution for filmmakers who want to achieve a filmic look in their projects. Its algorithm-based emulation, customization options, and advanced settings make it stand out from other film emulation solutions. Whether you’re working on a vintage or modern project, Filmbox provides the tools you need to achieve the desired outcome.
Subscription and Pricing
Subscription-based pricing model
Filmbox is a subscription-based plugin that requires a quarterly or yearly payment plan. The cost of a quarterly subscription is $129, while an annual subscription costs $349. There are other plans as well but those are for post-production houses. While it may seem steep, the benefits of Filmbox’s high-quality film emulation make it an attractive investment for filmmakers who regularly work on projects that require a filmic look.
Determining if Filmbox is worth the investment
Whether Filmbox is worth the investment depends on the filmmaker’s specific needs and projects. For those working on projects that require a filmic look, Filmbox is a highly effective tool that delivers quality results. However, for those who rarely need to emulate film, the subscription cost may not be justifiable.
It’s also essential to consider the cost-effectiveness of Filmbox compared to other film emulation solutions. While some plugins may have a lower subscription cost, they may not deliver the same level of quality or customization options as Filmbox. Therefore, it’s crucial to weigh the benefits of Filmbox against other film emulation solutions before making a decision.
Overall, if the filmmaker frequently works on projects that require a filmic look and desires a high level of customization and control over the final image, Filmbox‘s subscription-based pricing model may be worth the investment.
Comparing Filmbox with Dehancer
When buying a film emulation plugin, Dehancer stands out to be a good alternative for Filmbox. For this comparative study, two high-profile film emulation plugins—Dehancer and Filmbox—are in focus. With a significant investment required to own them, these are not tools for the casual hobbyist but more for professionals who rely on color grading for their livelihood.
Functionality and Workflow
While both plugins promise to deliver that coveted film look, they approach the task differently. Dehancer and Filmbox simplify your workflow by offering quick camera and color format selections. However, each has its unique selling points and workflow implications.
Dehancer: For the Detail-Oriented Filmmaker
Dehancer aims for a high degree of authenticity, offering a range of specific film stocks to emulate. It also gives you granular control over each facet of the look, from film compression types to print characteristics.
Filmbox: Capturing the Essence of Film
In contrast, Filmbox opts for a more generalized approach. Instead of tethering you to specific film stocks, it aims to capture the essence of what makes film visually and emotionally appealing. It consolidates key elements into one robust plugin, prioritizing efficiency and ease of use.
User Experience: The Interface Matters
Cost-Efficiency and Investment Value
Filmbox, while initially more expensive, could pay off in the long run if you’re working on multiple commercial projects with tight deadlines. Dehancer, though similarly priced, offers a more exhaustive list of features that may appeal to those who desire full control over the film look.
Filmbox film emulation plugin is available for DaVinci Resolve on Windows. This opens up a plethora of creative opportunities for video editors looking to replicate the unique qualities of different film stocks in their digital projects. The plugin serves as a valuable addition to the already comprehensive toolkit that DaVinci Resolve offers, especially for those using the software on a Windows platform.
To make the most of Filmbox, you’d typically start by downloading and installing the plugin from its official website. Follow the installation guide to ensure that it integrates smoothly with your DaVinci Resolve environment.
Filmbox for DaVinci Resolve offers a high-fidelity emulation of Kodak’s Vision 3 film stocks, setting it apart with its algorithm-based approach that ensures smoother tonality and transitions. The plugin mimics the entire film production chain, providing a comprehensive suite of customization options from exposure settings to grain controls.
Compatible with various camera brands and supportive of scene-referred workflows, Filmbox is highly versatile.
Although it operates on a subscription-based pricing model, the quality and depth of features make it a worthy investment for filmmakers and video editors seeking an authentic, customizable filmic look.
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