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FilmTouch (After Effects version): Tutorials & Tips

Basics Within FilmTouch for AE                          FilmTouch's main help page

FilmTouch 2.0 Pro is applied like any plugin effect in Adobe After Effects (Windows, CS5 or later, including any version of After Effects CC Creative Cloud). (NOTE: We currently have no MAC plugins for After Effects, but may soon! Click here to be notified.) Simply drag-and-drop FilmTouch 2.0 Pro onto a timeline layer, from the Pixelan folder of the Effects and Presets panel of After Effects. See below for the basic steps to using this plugin. After a few minutes of experimenting with the FilmTouch 2.0 Pro plugin, you will have much of the creative power of FilmTouch at hand for your projects. Note that all of this info is also available offline (for users who do not have Internet-connected editing stations) by clicking the FX Help button shown below.

FilmTouch 2 Pro tutorial for Adobe After Effects


The Pixelan Custom Interface Option

In the Effect Controls panel, all FilmTouch controls are available directly in the panel as shown above, like any After Effects plugin. But you can click the Open Pixelan UI button to access the Pixelan custom interface (as shown below). Both interfaces are similar, but the Effect Controls panel offers native keyframing of controls and is most convenient for quick tweaking of film looks. The Pixelan custom interface shows detailed help more visibly.


FilmTouch 2 Pro Pixelan Interface Tutorial

FilmTouch 2.0 Pro Presets

In FilmTouch 2.0 Pro there are THREE ways to access presets -- Effect Browser presets, AE Animation presets, and Section presets.

Effects Browser presets

This is the most powerful and visual way to access presets and is where 500+ film look effects presets are located. Click the Click here to load a preset... button at the top of FilmTouch 2.0 Pro (as shown by the smiley in the above image) to open a large Effects Browser window to visually choose/compare pre-made effects. The Effects Browser is shown below. To save your own custom presets in the Effects Browser, use FilmTouch controls to set up the desired look, then click the Save button.

Time-saving tips to load presets faster:
The Effects Browser is fast, but sometimes you may already know which preset you want to use, such as when you are applying the same preset repeatedly in a project. In that situation, selecting a preset by one of the following methods can be faster... To see recently chosen Effects Browser presets, click the Recent button. For a drop-down menu of Effects Browser presets, click the Menu button. To use a standard Open file dialog box, click the Open button.


Prefer to use the Pixelan custom interface instead of After Effect's interface? Instead of the above, use these shortcuts to load presets faster: To see recently chosen Effects Browser presets, click the Recent button. For a drop-down menu of Effects Browser presets, right-click the Click here to load a preset... button. To use a standard Open file dialog box, Alt-click the Click here to load a preset... button.

Handy tips while working within the Effects Browser:
• To scroll through presets in a folder while keeping your eye on the top preview image for comparison, click in the right panel then use left or right arrow keys.
• To increase/decrease the thumbnail image size, use the Size button at the bottom of the Effects Browser.
• To copy a favorite preset into the My Favorites folder located atop the left column of preset folders, right-click any preset image and choose Copy to My Favorites. To copy the preset into a subfolder within that folder (such as if you want to organize presets per project or per client), right-click the preset and choose Copy to My Favorites >> [new subfolder]. You can then name the subfolder as desired. After the subfolder is created, it will also appear in the right-click menu.
• To rename a preset that is in the My Favorites folder, right-click the preset there and choose Rename this preset. To remove a My Favorites preset, right-click and choose Delete this preset.
• To hide any preset, right-click the preset and choose Hide this preset. To show all hidden presets in a folder, right-click any preset in that folder and choose Restore all hidden presets here. To temporarily view the folder's hidden presets, which can be handy if you just want to momentarily browse them, choose Temporary show hidden presets.
• To toggle between viewing the source file image and the FilmTouch preset, click the top large preview image in the Effects Browser.

FilmTouch 2.0 Effects Browser

Section presets

Unlike the Effect Browser presets, these change ONLY the controls in ONE section of FilmTouch controls. Mixing presets from several sections is a quick and easy way to try hundreds of fresh film look effects and variations. Within any section (aka "twirly") of controls, choose from the Preset menu. (In the Pixelan custom interface, click the blue FX folder icon at the top right side of any section.) To choose a section preset visually instead of from a list, in the After Effects interface click the submenu to activate it, then use your mouse's scroll wheel. In the Pixelan custom interface, simply move your mouse through the choices.


AE Animation presets

If you prefer, you can save FilmTouch presets as animation presets in the usual place within After Effects, by selecting FilmTouch, then choosing Save Animation Preset from the Animation menu in After Effects or from the Effects & Presets panel menu.

Detailed Help on Each FilmTouch 2.0 Pro Control

IMPORTANT: To quickly try common settings in any section, use the Section Presets menu at any section's top. To vary a control over time, use After Effect's standard keyframing controls.


Adjust midtone contrast, brightness, or saturation -- the most common overall ways to fine-tune a film look.

Mid Contrast. Positive values increase the contrast in midtone areas. Negative values decrease.
Gamma. Positive values increase the proportion of brighter areas to darker areas. Negative values decrease.
Saturation. Positive values increase the intensity of colors. Negative values decrease.
Apply Saturation... Sets when the above saturation adjustment applies. After... is handy to easily saturate or desaturate the look no matter what other color adjustments occur below.
Split Preview. Easily compare the effect to your source clip’s original look. IMPORTANT: Be sure to turn this off before rendering to not include the split in your video.

Preserve in Source

Optionally leave untouched (from Basics and RGB section adjustments) an already “just right” color or luminance within your scene.

All pixels with... To define the Target area where the source clip's look will be preserved, select from Target’s color, Target’s luminance only, Target’s hue only, or Target’s hue & saturation only.
Target. In the preview, click the eyedropper on the color area to keep it unchanged. Or use the color swatch to choose a color or luminance. For example, to preserve the white in a source clip’s clouds, click the Target eyedropper in the cloud and select Target’s luminance only. To preserve skin tones, click in the skin and choose Target’s color.
Range. Positive values preserve additional hue/luminance areas that are similar to the Target. Negative values reduce the range.
Falloff. Positive values increase the feathering around preserved colors. Negative values decrease.
Invert. Switch preserved and adjustable image areas. Handy when clicking an adjustable color is easier than clicking a color to preserve.
View the Mask. Turn on to clearly see the preserved region’s mask.

RGB Low/Mid/High

Fine-tune a film look by adjusting shadows, midtones, or highlights per color channel. Easily tint only shadows towards a desired color, for example.

Low R/G/B. Fine-tune shadows by brightening or darkening the red/green/blue channel.
Mid R/G/B. Fine-tune midtones by brightening or darkening the red/green/blue channel.
High R/G/B. Fine-tune highlights by brightening or darkening the red/green/blue channel.
Pin Black/White. On protects pure black or white areas from adjustments in this section.


RGB Gain/Offset/Gamma

Fine-tune the film look by adjusting the strength and brightness of a color channel.

Gain R/G/B. Fine-tune highlights by adjusting the red/green/blue channel’s gain.
Offset R/G/B. Fine-tune all image areas by adjusting the red/green/blue channel’s offset.
Gamma R/G/B. Fine-tune midtones by adjusting the red/green/blue channel’s gamma.



Optionally add realistic light diffusion to a film look.

Blur. Sets the blur strength.
Blend Mode. To fine-tune the blur, choose a Photoshop-like blend mode.
Blend Opacity. Set the opacity of the blend mode above. 100% is pure blending, 200% is pure blur. For unusual looks, enter values outside the 0-200% range.
Dark/Light Bias. Increase to shift the diffusion into darker areas.
Range. Increase to spread the diffusion effect. 100% is uniform diffusion over the entire scene.
Glow. Optionally add a glow to enhance the diffusion realism.
Glow Size. Increase to spread the glow further into darker areas.
Glow Color. In the preview, click the eyedropper to choose a glow color from your scene. Or use the color swatch to choose a glow color.



Optionally add a realistic lens vignette to a film look.

Strength. Set how strongly the vignette conforms to the current shape.
Shape. Choose a shape from several options. Inverted choices brighten instead of darken the vignette.
Softness. Set the shape's edge softness.
Size. Set the shape's size.
Center. Position the shape within the image by dragging the center point. If Linear is selected, you can adjust its angle by moving the center point. For more precision, enter numerical values, such as to match the shape in two different film looks.
Style. Choose the vignette’s style, from standard to unique looks. Standard is a 'real world' lens vignette. Standard 2 is similar but treat colors in the vignette area differently. Color only vignettes only color adjustments (the RGB sections). Diffusion only vignettes only the diffusion section. Color and Diffusion vignettes just the Basics and RGB sections.

Mix with Original. To alter the film look effect’s overall strength, adjust its transparency with the source image. Positive values increase the source’s strength. Negative values can create unusual looks -- experiment! To fade in/out the entire film look effect, use After Effects standard keyframing for this control.

go to FilmTouch 2.0's main help page