How To Create Your Own Overexposed Film Effect

We've all seen the film burn effect used to varying degrees while watching video. It's a stylistic choice on the part of the editor to create tone, texture, and mood for a video.

The film burn effect can be used as an overlay throughout an entire video to create a grungy, edginess, or youthful feel (depending on the project). Just consider how Rampant Design uses it here:

You've probably also seen videos incorporate an overexposed look, designed to imitate the effect one sees in motion picture film when it's under-cranked (i.e. changing the frame rate mid shot from 24fps to 12fps). You can actually see this effect around the :10 mark of the Friends closing credit sequence when Matt LeBlanc is dancing by the fountain.

In the case of Friends, as well as other videos, the overexposed look is used as a transitional element. This is the way I use it in some of my video projects, like this welcome video for the Oliver Creek church of Christ. 

Or this video for Tiffin Motorhomes I worked on way back in 2004.

You can download different film burn and overexposure effects from various stock libraries, but you can also create your own very easily. 

To create your own film overexposure look, do the following:

  • Take your camera and remove the lens. 
  • Aim your camera at a bright light source.
  • Use the lens cap or body cap to cover the camera's sensor.
  • While recording, roll the lens cap or body cap around the opening of the camera body, letting light spill in.
  • Alternate between moments of light and darkness.
  • Vary the speed of the transition.

And that's it. Next, take your footage and ingest it onto your system. Import it into After Effects and play with the blending modes until you get the look you want.

Have any other post-production tips? Be sure to leave them in the comments section below.