Although digital video is convenient, cheap to produce, and allows for much quicker creation of content — it’s also very clean. There’s no degradation of the image, and it can’t be scratched. Although this might seem like a good thing, a big chunk of the filmmaking community still stands by old fashioned film. But it’s expensive to buy, shoot on and develop film. So that’s where film grain comes in handy.
Using 8mm, 16mm, 35mm film has an imperfection and a warmth to it that is very different to the almost sterile digital video of today. And sometimes you might need to show an old film effect if the narrative calls for it. Fortunately, digital film scans can be used as overlays to enhance your digital video and give it a vintage, cinematic feel that will add depth and character to the image.
There are plenty of film grain overlays available, both premium and free. Here we’ve listed our favorite 18 free film grain downloads, followed by some tips on how to incorporate it in your own video projects.
Free Film Grain Overlays to Download
This free stock film grain from Motion Array is a convenient download that can be imported directly into your video editor. Simply drop it over your footage on the timeline, set the blending mode to Overlay and there you have it — instantly de-grade your footage to give it that old-fashioned, film look.
A cool 8mm grain effect here with 4 different colors: wine, ash, moss, and tobacco. Throw it onto your footage to ramp up the style of your creative projects. This one is free to download if you have a Motion Array membership.
This Super 8mm download is a wonderful 60s-style effect that will make your footage feel right at home with the Beatles and flared jeans.
This loopable film grain is easy to apply to your entire video, just duplicate the file and play it back to back and continue the effect.
This lovely warm analogue effect gets the best results when set to an overlay transparency effect. Simply drop the file on the timeline to get instant film grain on your footage.
This is a great bundle of grain overlays to create immediate film results. There are ten files in this pack so there’s bound to be something there that works for you.
This is a fantastic resource for premium LUTs and effects, but scroll down to the bottom of the page to dig out some 4K film grain overlays based on 35mm film scans. Each clip is 10 seconds in duration and can be used in After Effects and Final Cut.
This overlay template is a quick way to create Super 8mm footage with a vintage vibe. Great for giving modern video that dreamy, nostalgic feel.
More Super 8mm film grain here, and it was too good not to include despite it only being available in 720p. Try applying it to other footage using the ‘Screen’ blending mode to give it a rich, authentic vibe.
This is a pretty non-specific film effect but the dust and scratches are an effective way to instantly convert your footage into a vintage video.
This site includes a couple of premium options, but the free 720p film grain and film burns will add layers of character to your work, and you can use them to create stylish transitions too.
This subtle film grain is enough to add an extra level of richness to your footage, and you can download and start using it in just minutes directly from Edit With Light’s Google Drive link.
Looking for 8mm, 16mm or 35mm? The choice is yours with these incredible free 4K film grain overlays. Why not download them all? Experiment with different blending modes to see what works the best.
Grainzilla are offering three killer free downloads here – a 35mm grain overlay, a war film aesthetic and a very stylish beaten up old VHS vibe. Perfect for your vintage video projects.
A range of film scans here once again. Choose between 8mm, 16mm and 35mm and apply it to your 4K footage to give it a warm, cinematic feel.
This is a beautiful, cinematic film grain from a seasoned colorist. Download it below but also check out his thoughts on grading with film grain in DaVinci Resolve.
This procedurally rendered old film grain isn’t the most realistic of options, but it still gives your footage a great vintage character.
This 8mm Kodak grain is just the right subtle effect to add an extra layer of richness to your video.
This is a pack that contains 35mm, 16mm and 8mm film grain, but the 35mm is a stand-out way of giving your footage a pulpy, cinematic look. Lay these files over your clips on the timeline and experiment with the blending modes to get the desired results.
How to Apply Film Grain to Your Video
So you’ve sifted through these options, picked a couple of favorites, and now you’re ready to use them in your video project. Great. How do we get started?
- Well firstly, import the grain video file into Premiere Pro just like any other type of video.
- Drag the grain overlay on top of the footage you want to apply the effect to, in the channel above.
- Select the grain clip, head to Effect Controls.
- In the Opacity tab, choose a blending mode from the drop-down menu. Have a play around with these until you find one you like. Generally, something like Screen works pretty well.
- See the results unfold in your preview window!
Digital video cameras have completely transformed the film and video industry. Previously, videos were recorded with rolls of film, which were expensive to manage and develop. Scratches, burns, moments of overexposure all showed up on the final video and were very difficult to manage and predict.
But there’s also a nostalgic charm to that kind of film. If there wasn’t, there would not be such a huge part of the community providing free film grain overlays to make your content feel more worn. Every smartphone in the world now has the ability to record incredible, high quality video footage, but film grain overlays can help restore something that felt a little lost along the way.