Red Giant Retrograde (review)

Retrograde is a Final Cut Pro X plug-in developed by Crumplepop engineers with the help of Red Giant Software. This application lets you create a worn effect as if you had shot your digital movie using an old analogue film camera. The plug-in uses real film, scanned by Crumplepop engineers to obtain the most realistic look and feel.

Parameters available in the plug-in include: frame size, image offset, edge style, vignette, colour process, saturation, exposure, film fading, flicker, blur, hair, dust, and splotch count, scale, lightness and opacity. Some of these parameters have little or nothing to do with the scanning of film, but they are there to let you decide how much of the old effect you want to be visible.

There’s a rather long list of film looks to choose from. You can select from 8mm and 16mm movie looks.

Red Giant Software Retrograde

Now, you might be forgiven to think this is yet another film look plug-in, but it isn’t. The fact that real film was scanned is highly visible when you leave the parameters at their default settings. It’s only when you start tampering with the sliders that it becomes less obvious the look you’re trying to create has anything to do with existing analogue film.

Even then, however, Retrograde cannot be mistaken for one of these digital, licked “worn” effects that you’d better describe as “mojo” or “grainy”. It remains very obvious this is the real thing. And that opens up creative possibilities. Personally, I think Retrograde should be in any Indie movie maker’s tool chest.

The following clip is meant to be an example of a 16mm “clean” film. It’s “clean” because it is not a home movie or a documentary; just straight 16mm film. The content of the clip doesn’t matter.

I also think Retrograde being available exclusively as a Final Cut Pro X plug-in should make people reconsider Final Cut Pro X as the viable NLE it has become with its latest update. Sometimes, sticking around or at least re-evaluating an app after a while pays off. In this case with a lovely set of effects that you won’t find anywhere else.