Jeremy Dulac

Simulating Film Halation

Recommended Posts

I was wondering if anyone has any tips on simulating film halation, i.e. the red fringing around high contrast edges - I find it to be a very pleasing effect. I understand how to create highlight blooming, which is sort of what people think of when you say halation - but the effect (which seems it is probably a bit trickier to create) of red fringing around edges is really what I am after. I have attached an image for reference. Any pointers or tips would be super appreciated!




Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would point to the Oscar-winning film The Artist as an example where they not only digitally created "halation," but they went a step further and made modern 35mm color film look like 1920s B&W nitrate film. That's a very clever trick, and I think it helped sell the look and period of the film very well. Only Richard Deusy as Duboircolor in France knows exactly how they did it, but I think you can bet there were carefully-qualified keys, a glow filter of some kind, and some blur here and there. Great lighting and filtration in-camera probably helped as well. It's a great-looking film -- all shot on film, but (ironically) done at Red Studios on Cahuenga Blvd. in Hollywood. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Marc Wielage said:

but they went a step further and made modern 35mm color film look like 1920s B&W nitrate film.

Were they putting anti-halation backing layers in nitrate film of the 1920's?

Tried researching this on the internet, but haven't found any info about when these backing layers were introduced.

Interesting other info I discovered whilst searching - is that there's a type of halation called Light Piping, especially with polyester-based film. According to Kodak information, it 'can transmit or pipe light that strikes the edge of the film and result in fog'. I guess this probably looks like edge fog but must be very image-dependent.


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You can edge detect without using a plug-in:

1. Pull a luma key (node/layer a) and copy it to node/layer b

2. Very slightly blur and erode the key in A

3. Very slightly blur and dilate the key in B

4. Do a matte operator (matte merge or layer blend) and do a diff ( or is it an Or or Union? I forget but you can find the right combo by experimenting)

5. Viola! Edge-detect. Experiment with the matte tool operators by tweaking the blur amounts - maybe no blur at all on step 2, or add blur to the resultant edge matte for another look.

The exact methodology will of course vary depending on the grading platform, but the concept is the same. 

  • Like 5
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Orash Rahnema,


The edge-detect works. But it is detecting all the edges, do you know how would it be possible to make the edge detect working only for the highlights. I've tried using the secondaries on the ofx node, but it doesn't work, as well as different techniques. But no satisfying result.. because we got halation in the shadows too..  


Douglas Delaney, do you have any node tree to show us? I would be very interested 


Thanks guys,


Valentin Alt, ISP

Edited by Valentin Alt
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.