Sony Vegas: “Movie Looks” via FX Presets or Cineform-FirstLight

Sony Vegas allows chains of effects (“FX”) to be built up, which can optionally be exported or imported as FX Presets.  Some generous people on the web have offered their own FX Presets to achieve “Movie Looks” (dramatic looks) of various kinds.  These are more about emphasizing different kinds of mood than achieving clinically pure or film-grainy image quality.  Further details below…

Further Details:

  • There exist well-known applications and add-ons such as Magic Bullet Movie Looks, which blend a number of grading/processing elements to achieve looks such as “Bleach Bypass” (an effect that was once achieved in film developing by omitting the bleaching stage). Other looks can be war, cool, monochrome, film noire, night-for-day etc.
  • There also exist some (free) FX Presets:
    • Presets are exported/shared/imported via FX Preset [.sfpreset] files (“sf” probably stands for “Sound Forge”, the original owner of what is now Sony Vegas).  Here’s how its done:
      • To install the presets on your computer, you need the Sony Preset Manager. If you do not have it, you can download it for free by visiting, then selecting downloads / utilities. Scroll down the download page until you see Preset Manager, then download the version correct for your operating system and install it.
      • Next, once you have downloaded a FX Presets file, simply double click it. The preset manager will open automatically, with the presets already highlighted. Select Copy to System from the Edit menu, and you’re done.
      • Alternatively to the above, here’s a video tutorial on Preset Manager etc.:  Maybe made for the methodical, but it is (for me) painfully slow.
    • Adam Stanislav
      • His first batch of seven presets:
        • Citrón, meaning lemon in Slovak, my language, gives the image a warm yellowish cast, which can make outdoor images appear as if shot in the morning, and just warm up all other images.
        • Dakota, named after the actor Dakota Sky, gives the image a warm reddish cast, possibly giving the impression of a sunrise or sunset.
        • Koliba produces the impression of an old faded film. The word koliba describes a hut in the mountains of Slovakia, where shepherds live.
        • Stínadla is a fictional place in the novels by the Czech writer Jaroslav Foglar. His heroes have had some unpleasant experiences in that dark and shadowy part of town.
        • Unter den Linden offers a cold greenish/cyanish look, very common in many movies, often setting a feeling of uneasiness and hardship.
        • Zuzana is blue. Named after the art student who painted my portrait decades ago. When it was finished, I asked her why my red hair was blue. She explained my blue shirt dominated the choice of colors, perhaps my first lesson in color grading.
        • Tianamen Square (天安門廣場) has a deep red cast.
      • His second batch of seven presets:
        • Bača has the feel of a very old film, almost, but not quite, colorless, mostly warm. It is similar to the Koliba preset from the first seven presets I presented above. Indeed, it is derived from it by lowering its saturation even further. Its name reflects the relationship, as in Slovak a bača is a senior shepard who lives in a koliba.
        • Bratislava, the name of my home city, gives an almost neutral feel, yet it is slightly on the warm side. I named it Bratislava because for some reason it reminds me of growing up in that city. Perhaps that is because this preset is subtle, so it looks quite realistic, without calling for attention, unlike some popular looks that just scream, “Hey, people, notice how fancy I am!” Maybe I’m just getting old, but I have always believed that special effects should support the story, not detract from it.
        • Čapek, named in honor of the Czech writer and playwright Karel Čapek (who introduced the word robot into almost every language), is a somewhat film noir version of black & white. As a child I saw many film adaptations of Čapek’s writings and they all had this look.
        • Petržalka offers a look complementary to that of Bratislava. Its hue adjustments are the exact opposite of those of Bratislava, while they both share the same adjustment to the brightness of the image. That makes them both opposite and same.
        • Špenátový opar, Slovak for Spinach Haze, is soft, hazy, green, expressing uncertainty, self-doubt, lack of confidence, indecision, perhaps even amnesia.
        • Temnica is the Slovak word for dungeon. I think its look is pretty self-explanatory.
        • Upír offers how I imagine the world might look like seen through the eyes of a vampire. Among other things, it tends to wipe out any expression from human faces, perhaps enraging the vampire and encouraging him to attack. All that accomplished by pure color grading with no other effects.
      • And a “Bonus Preset”:
        • Psychedelic.  Made purely by using the Sony Color Curves effect
    • FirstLight

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