A STUDY ON
HALATION


Halation is a characteristic of celluloid film when a bright light bounces back a few times exposing the film a second time only affecting the red layer (and a bit of the green layer) of the film resulting in a reddish/orange glow. The Halation tint may be different based on white balance adjustments / color grading.

An anti-halation layer usually is a coating on the back of the film base, though it is sometimes incorporated between the light-sensitive emulsion and the base. Its purpose is preventing any light from being reflected back through the emulsion from the rear surface of the base, or from anything behind the film. This prevents a halo-like effect (halation). Even with an anti halation-layer there might be a Halo effect because the layer is not 100% black.

Halation Compound Node

Here is the Halation Node Tree. Packed in ONE “Compound Node” to keep the Node tree tidy and clean.

1. Add a CST Node: In “Color Space Transform” set Output Gamma to “Linear”.
2. Add a Layer Mixer Node. Set Composite Mode to “Add”.
3. Add a Curves Node: Shape the Curve like in the picture.
4. Add a Node for Blur & Gain: Blur the red channel more than the green channel. Play with the values. You can also tint the glow more towards orange using Gain.
5. Add another CST Node. Set Input Gamma to “Linear”.

“Input Color Space” and “Input Gamma” should match your camera.
The curve should look like in the picture. Put the “Halation Compound Node” at the first position of your node tree! Click this link to download the PowerGrade. It is free.

I did not come up with this Idea. I found it by watching this “Grade School Episode 3” video by Cullen Kelly.

Before Image After Image
Image source: ARRI camera sample footage
Before Image After Image
Image source: Own Footage – Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k

some “real” Halation examples

TOP TO BOTTOM:
Jackie (2016) / Directed by Pablo Larraín / © Fox Searchlight Pictures
Bronson (2008) / Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn / © Vertigo Films
Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020) / Directed by Eliza Hittman / © Universal Pictures
Moonrise Kingdom (2012) / Directed by Wes Anderson / © Focus Features
TOP TO BOTTOM:
The Wrestler (2008) / Directed by Darren Aronofsky / © Fox Searchlight Pictures
Bronson (2008) / Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn / © Vertigo Films
First Man (2018) / Directed by Damien Chazelle / © Universal Pictures
Moonrise Kingdom (2012) / Directed by Wes Anderson / © Focus Features
TOP TO BOTTOM:
Solaris (1972) / Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky / © Mosfilm
The Old Man & the Gun (2018) / Directed by David Lowery / Fox Searchlight Pictures
Jackie (2016) / Directed by Pablo Larraín / © Fox Searchlight Pictures
Moonrise Kingdom (2012) / Directed by Wes Anderson / © Focus Features
TOP TO BOTTOM:
Solaris (1972) / Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky / © Mosfilm
The Old Man & the Gun (2018) / Directed by David Lowery / Fox Searchlight Pictures
Jackie (2016) / Directed by Pablo Larraín / © Fox Searchlight Pictures
Wendy and Lucy (2008) / Directed by Kelly Reichardt / © Oscilloscope Pictures
TOP TO BOTTOM:
Jackie (2016) / Directed by Pablo Larraín / © Fox Searchlight Pictures
Jackie (2016) / Directed by Pablo Larraín / © Fox Searchlight Pictures
Black Swan (2010) / Directed by Darren Aronofsky / © Fox Searchlight Pictures
Carol (2015) / Directed by Todd Haynes / © The Weinstein Company (United States)
Steve Jobs (2015) / Directed by Danny Boyle / © Universal Pictures
TOP TO BOTTOM:
Jackie (2016) / Directed by Pablo Larraín / © Fox Searchlight Pictures
The Wrestler (2008) / Directed by Darren Aronofsky / © Fox Searchlight Pictures
Black Swan (2010) / Directed by Darren Aronofsky / © Fox Searchlight Pictures
Carol (2015) / Directed by Todd Haynes / © The Weinstein Company (United States)
Steve Jobs (2015) / Directed by Danny Boyle / © Universal Pictures
TOP TO BOTTOM:
The Squid and the Whale (2005) / Directed by Noah Baumbach / © Sony Pictures Home Ent.
Jackie (2016) / Directed by Pablo Larraín / © Fox Searchlight Pictures
TOP TO BOTTOM:
The Squid and the Whale (2005) / Directed by Noah Baumbach / © Sony Pictures Home Ent.
Jackie (2016) / Directed by Pablo Larraín / © Fox Searchlight Pictures
TOP TO BOTTOM:
Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020) / Directed by Eliza Hittman / © Universal Pictures
Carol (2015) / Directed by Todd Haynes / © The Weinstein Company (United States)
Jackie (2016) / Directed by Pablo Larraín / © Fox Searchlight Pictures
TOP TO BOTTOM:
The Old Man & the Gun (2018) / Directed by David Lowery / Fox Searchlight Pictures
Carol (2015) / Directed by Todd Haynes / © The Weinstein Company (United States)
The Squid and the Whale (2005) / Directed by Noah Baumbach / © Sony Pictures Home Ent.