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Add Film Halation Effect In DaVinci Resolve, Capture One & Lightroom & Get Your Shots to Look Like Film

Updated: May 2

If you’ve been shooting with film, you know there’s one characteristic of film that digital can’t capture natively - the halation effect. Even if you’ve nailed the color aspect of analog on a digital medium - through your custom film simulations or found some good film presets - you’re still missing a key piece.

And today - I want to show you various methods that can help you emulate the halation effect in your footage. Be it video or stills.

What is Halation in FIlm?

Let's start with the basics. What is this halation effect?

Halation is an artifact produced by film stocks - when light passes the film emulsion and reflects back of the pressure plate, it produces a halo around high contrast transitions between shadows and highlights. The light "bleeds" into the darker area. Hence the name "halation". This halo effect is often reddish-orange, because the red layer of the film emulsion is the most affected by the scattering of light.

In this image that was shot with the Cinestill 800T, for example, you can distinctly see this red halation effect.

halation example

What's really interesting? This slight glare can also subtly appear in low-constrasty & mid-tone areas with some red tones. Like in this Goodfellas still.

halation on film

This effect has existed ever since film stock was born, so it's also present in black and white stocks, yet heavily analyzed and emulated in color.

If you're wondering why we don't see this effect as much on modern film stocks, well...Most modern film stocks have an anti-halation layer, but even so, you might notice some halation effect when shooting with these, it will just be subtler.

Halation used to be considered a "parasite", something that many film photographers wanted to get rid of. This makes sense though - if you wanted to capture natural phenomena, halation interfered with an accurate representation of what you were trying to shoot. In astrophotography, for example, halation makes it impossible to shoot a weak star next to a super bright one.

I just find it fascinating - we are now trying to recreate the artifacts of film photography, to add a halation effect to our digital shots, yet back in the day photographers tested many methods to get rid of this “enemy” or “collateral image”.

And that’s why anti halation layers were born. Most modern film stocks are packed with this anti-halation layer.

Except for a few. 🔽

Films with strong halation effect

CineStill 800T

cinestill 800T halation

The infamous film stock that made gas stations a main subject in photography. The CineStill 800T doesn’t have a carbon ramjet layer, and that’s what produces this strong halation effect.

The CineStill 800T is basically Kodak's Vision 3 500T motion picture cinema film - without that anti-halation layer & repacked as a 35mm film.


P.S. - I’ve created a CineStill 800T film recipe for Sony cameras that you can use to get the look on your JPEGs. To this day, it’s one of my favorites. If you want to achieve the Cinestill 800T look in post-processing - check out the CaptureOne & Lightroom film presets!


The Washi F 100 B&W-Film 135/24

washi f

Another one I found - the Washi F 100 - suuuch a dreamy, ethereal vibe that the halation provides. Here are more shots with it. My girlfriend shot a roll with it - super excited to see the outcome.

CineStill 50D

cinestill 50d sample

The CineStill 50D produces a subtle halation effect. With some shots, you’ll get halation with others, not so much.

Worthy Mention - The Infrared Efke IR820 Aura 120 mm (discontinued)

I stumbled over this infrared film while going through a book - and it got me super intrigued. It looks so eerie, psychedelic even.

Take a look.

Efke IR820 Aura example

halation in black and white film stock

The aura that you can see in bright areas gives the whole image a unique mood that really caught my eye.

The Film Halation Effect In Movies

As I said - in the past, halation was a flaw, something to be removed. However, some photographers pushed the medium and played around with artifacts like film halation.

What about now? Well, if you look closely, plenty of movies capture the halation effect. One of my favorite examples? Christopher Doyle’s work in “Fallen Angel”. Take a look at this:

Another great example is Atonement (2007) by Joe Wright. This movies feels like an impressionistic painting - it's full of halation, bloom, and softness.

MONODES has a great article on halation with soo many examples that you can study.

Halation in B&W film - examples

Let's also take a look at examples of halation in black-and-white movies. Noir movies are probably most known for this - since anti-halation layers weren't a thing back then.

Ways to Emulate the Halation Effect in Digital Format

All the previous examples I’ve shown come from movies or photos shot on film. But you can actually emulate the halation effect, even if you shoot digitally.

There are a few ways to go about it.

1. Use a Diffusion filter

Some people like using a diffusion filter to achieve that film halation. The Black Pro Mist by Tiffen is the most popular, but I haven’t had a chance to try this one out yet.

The same brand has a couple more filters using a Black Halation Diffusion system. If you’ve tried these, you can share your feedback & shots on the Sony Film Simulation forum, I’m really curious about the outcome!

I use the 7artisans black mist diffusion filter - it provides a soft halation, that you can then accentuate in post. And it's super cheap!! Highly recommend it. Check out these shots 👇

SOOC shots - Agfa Precisa film simulation w Sigma 24 mm f2 Contemporary & 7artisans Black Mist filter

2. How to Add Halation in DaVinci Resolve

If you’re looking to add halation to your video footage & you are a user of DaVinci Resolve, I suggest using their Halation add-on.

Here’s how to do it!

#1. First off, color-correct your footage. After you’re done doing that, add another node at the end of your tree. That’s where our halation effect will be.

#2. Go to the Color Tab.

How to Add Halation in DaVinci Resolve

#3. Go to the “Effects menu” and search for “Halation”. Beware that this add-on is only available for premium users of DaVinci Resolve.

How to Add Halation in DaVinci Resolve

#4. Drag the halation effect onto the desired node to start analyzing and adjusting the halation settings.

#5. Choose the color space processing to match the space you have shot in.

#6. Adjust Halation settings.

Let’s start with the Secondary Glow sub-menu. The main gist of it is lifting the Strength and pushing the Gamma to the max. And make sure you don’t overdo it with the Spread level. But that will leave you with some nasty-looking footage, so you’ll want to change the halation color as well. Choose something less vibrant.

For a more organic look, make minor adjustments in the dye layer reflection by tweaking strength ( I usually bring it down by a bit) and gamma settings (which you can lift if you want halation in low-contrast areas). Explore spread levels to control bleeding effects.

In the Isolation sub-menu - modify the threshold according to your clip's highlight points and adjust film saturation for subtle enhancements.

3. How To Add Halation In Capture One

If you don’t know how to add the film halation in Lightroom or Capture one, I’ve created a simple workflow that you can follow. You can watch the video or follow the instructions below.

Here's how I do it in Capture One.

  • Activate the Brush setting by clicking “B” and customize the Brush Settings.

Adjust the opacity of the brushes to control the intensity of the red halation effect. Utilize the brush menu to modify size, flow, and opacity settings according to your preferences. I usually go for a softer brush. Then, start painting over high contrast areas where halation would naturally appear on film.

  • Adjust the “Red Curve”

Go to the “Curve” menu and click on the red channel to crush the white point. 👇

  • Smooth out the edges.

I personally don’t like the hard edges between the bright and darker areas. Film produces softer edges. Soo - to replicate that

  1. Create a new layer in Capture One and copy the mask from the first layer.

  2. Turn up the brightness

  3. Go to the Curve settings → RGB → create blownout highlight by creating a ridiculous S-curve.

  4. Adjust the opacity.

Pro tip - Adjust the Luma range to refine the effect to match your desired look.

4. How to add halation in Lightroom

If you want to add that halation effect with zero fuss, I’ve created Capture One & Lightroom brush presets. The pack includes a bunch of halation brushes, a couple of Light Leak brushes, and the option to add those blown out highlights that finish the look nicely!

Alright - here's how to do it in Lighroom.

First off, you'll have to install the brushes.

Next up - go to Masking -> Brush -> Select the effect brush you want out of the bunch.

Then, adjust brush settings like flow, feather & density.

Use the red halation brushes to paint in areas of high contrast and the blown out highlights brush to smooth out edges.

Get Your Sony Shots To Actually Look Like Film

Hope you enjoyed this one! While film simulations are the first step to emulating the film look for JPEGs, recreating grain, halation, light leaks, and bloom will get you there entirely. If you want a simple workflow for this, pair the Sony film simulations with these brushes.

And if you already have a workflow in place for emulating halation, share it with us in the forum! I’m super curious of all the methods we can use to get there. Have a good one!

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