CineD Review of Dehancer Pro

Part I: The State of HDR Film Emulation LUTs

Part II: Moving Beyond Traditional Film Print Emulation

Part III: CineD Review of Dehancer Pro

Part IV: Dehancer Print Film Profiles

Part V: Negative and Print Clarified

“It’s ironic that all of the characteristics that make film look like film are really flaws in the technology. Defects that film manufacturers have been trying to get rid of for years”.

That’s how Florian Gintenreiter, contributing writer for CineD, inauspiciously begins his review of the Dehancer Pro plugin for Resolve. That remark, together with the startling admission that he can’t even fathom why audiences find the look of photochemical film pleasing, betrays a glaring blind spot that makes Gintenreiter uniquely unqualified to judge a film emulation plugin. Especially since print film emulation is first and foremost about color, borrowing heavily from a century of tradition which gave us the most incredible color science we as humans have ever known (to paraphrase Cullen Kelly); and applying a LUT like Kodak 2393 is the easiest way to make digital footage resemble film, with grain, halation etc. being refinements of the look. Consider for a moment the order of operations in any film emulation plugin: film stock invariably takes precedence. Yet remarkably, during the sixteen and-a-half minute presentation, the reviewer wastes no time discussing any of the plugin’s sixty film stock emulations!

One commenter on the CineD website, insisting we’re mistaken about color being preeminent, maintains that film emulation is “equal parts color and ‘acutance’ (texture/grain/softness/halation, etc.)”, a hopelessly inaccurate proposition: firstly, because film emulation LUTs only affect color and cannot contain textural information and secondly, because, while film emulation plugins without grain, halation, gate weave and bloom exist, none dispense with film stock profiles.

Desperate to make the case for grain being the defining characteristic of the film look, someone in the comments section of the YouTube video makes the bold claim that it’s the organic noise of the Alev sensor (modeled after laser scans of actual film stocks no less) that has made ARRI so wildly popular among filmmakers for a decade now – and not the color science, latitude and dynamic range the legendary brand is famous for.

Be that as it may, once colorists have finished applying a film emulation LUT and Resolve grain, Cinegrain or LiveGrain, you can bet it’s no longer possible to even identify the original sensor noise, regardless of whether the picture was shot with an ARRI, a Sony Venice, Panavision or RED – whereas enthusiasts can differentiate between the colors of various popular film stocks. Some highly respected colorists, like Walter Volpatto (Dunkirk, Star Wars: The Last Jedi), even balk at adding grain to footage because compression kills it.

As none of us are debuting at Cannes, opening at local theaters or streaming on Netflix and must contend instead with video sharing platforms whose aggressive compression algorithms absolutely destroy high frequency detail, turning the voluptuous grain seen in the viewer of DaVinci Resolve into unsightly macroblocking or simply making it vanish altogether, it may be preferable to not add grain to projects at all. After all, we can’t recall a single instance where a viewer, however sophisticated, complained of the absence of grain in a YouTube or Vimeo video, but there have been countless criticisms of the way grain has been botched on Blu-ray discs and on streaming networks.

Part I: The State of HDR Film Emulation LUTs

Part II: Moving Beyond Traditional Film Print Emulation

Part III: CineD Review of Dehancer Pro

Part IV: Dehancer Print Film Profiles

Part V: Negative and Print Clarified

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