One relatively common though quite cool visual effect you might see floating around is the filmic-style grunge, scratches, edge fog and light leaks. These looks are often used for transitions or just as a stylistic treatment over footage. It’s ironic that in these days of pure, clean, digital acquisition we still want to mimic that old film style.

There’s a range of products from a company called Luca Visual FX that will help you create this effect. One is a plug-in for Noise Industries FxFactory that provides transitions and filters that will work in Final Cut Pro, Motion and After Effects. The other options are film effects and light transitions that are self-contained QuickTime clips and can be used in any application, including Avid Media Composer.

Light Kit

The seven available FxFactory filters

If you’re using Final Cut Pro, you probably have FxFactory installed. The Luca Visual FX Light Kit is a $49 option that includes two transitions and seven filters. Don’t let the small number of filters and transitions in the FxFactory plug-in fool you. There are a lot of options to customize the filters once you have them loaded onto your clip. Besides the usual array of sliders for each option there are also a lot of good presets available to help get you started.

One of my favorites is the Regional Light. Here’s the description from the Light Kit 1.1 page:

This is a stylish plug-in that can re-create localised light effects, with or without flicker. If you have underexposed, dull images that need to be brightened, they can be improved with Regional Light. It can also be used to add slick spot, ambient lights and localised colored lights. You can even recreate light and shadow effects like light leaking through gaps or venetian blinds.

Film FX and Light Transitions

The other product line includes Film FX and Light Transitions.

Transitions Pack 1.0 is $59 and “provides 30 clips reproducing either individually or combined a number of film effects, most of which are camera light leaks: the effect of light leaking inside a film camera and/or the negative being, somehow, exposed to light.”

Transitions Pack 2.0 costs $69 and provides, as the site says, “23 unique grungier film effects, including more light leaks, film burns, scratches and dirt. With this new release we are also introducing new leaders and old film textures. For the first time we are offering unparalleled natural-like ‘scratch on film’ transitions, purposely manipulated to create striking edge wipe effects with a retro touch.”

There’s also Light Transitions Pack 1.0. This $59 option includes a “selection of freely interpreted transitions coming in a variety of shape, color and length that offer alternative solutions to standard transition effects.”

What’s really worth noting about the individual Film FX and Light Transitions packs is that they are platform independent and not a part of the FxFactory package. They are Animation codec 1920×1080 QuickTime files with a embedded alpha channel. Toss them into After Effects or Final Cut Pro on the video layer above a video clip and they integrate well. Bonus points if you adjust the blend modes to composite them even more. They are Avid Media Composer compatible too and will import with the alpha intact.

A more in-depth review of the Luca tools was done last year over at the Digital Films blog. There’s  a lot of detailed information on exactly how to integrate these things into both an Avid and FCP workflow.

The Luca FX page includes both some demo clips for download as well as a tutorial on how to use these tools. This type of effect isn’t for every job but when it is skillfully integrated, and not overused, it can create a nice visual style. And style still rules, even in this digital age.