Introducing Optical Jitters

A free tool for creating the film look

Updated:June 17, 2024

Creating a film look for your digital video or CG footage can be challenging but achievable with the right tools and techniques. Whether the decision to go for a film look is your own or a client's instructions, understanding the process and having the right tools at your disposal is key to success.

Some of the more well-known and commonly used tools to achieve the vintage film effect are film emulation LUTs, film grain overlays, frame masks, scratches and damage, lens flares, light leaks, and film burns.

But even when using all these techniques in tandem, your shots can still feel like video: too clean, too clinical. That's where FX Elements' Optical Jitters come in. Our film jitters are not generated by a computer algorithm but instead are precisely captured tracking data from actual historical films.

Film Jitters

The good news is that you can now simulate film jitters in your own footage using our new Optical Jitters footage and provided tracking data, and it's all 100% free!

Using optical jitters is a great way to add some subtle (or not so subtle) movement and life to your footage to help complete the organic film look.

What are film jitters?

Film jitters – also referred to as gate weave – are small, rapid movements or shakes in the image that occurs during film capture and projection.

What causes film jitter?

Film jitter is caused by slight irregularities in the path of travel of a roll of film as it passes through the film gate.

In modern 35mm film cameras this effect is essentially nonexistent, but in older cameras and in Super 16mm and 8mm film cameras it can be quite pronounced.

Creating Optical Jitters

To create this unique VFX pack, we started by finding sources that we could track in order to extract the jittering movement. To accomplish this, we got our hands on some high-resolution film scans from Hollywood movies throughout the decades.

Tracking optical titles

Once we had the footage in hand we decided the best thing to track was the optically printed titles. First of all most titles were filmed with a completely locked-off camera devoid of any motion.

When considering general static camera footage, it's impossible to know if wind, crew member movements, or other external forces could have caused subtle camera movement. Whereas the optical title camera would be completely isolated in a controlled environment.

Additionally, the sharp edges of the text on-screen offer ideal tracking points to allow for rock steady tracking.

Creating the final product

Once we had tracked the source films, we created our own title card and applied that tracking data. This serves two purposes, it allows you to quickly visualize the results of the included tracking data and provides a clean easy-to-track image that can be easily tracked by you if our included tracking data does not suit your needs.

Film jitters delivered by era

When selecting our source footage we decided to choose a few films from each decade or era of cinema history. We started with the silent era, which represents films prior to 1930. The Golden Age of cinema represents movies from the 1930s and 40s, and then starting with the 1950s we covered every decade through to the 1990s.

Each era has a distinct look and feel and generally becomes more and more subtle with each progressive decade.


Cameras were not nearly as precise in this era, and the resulting footage has large jumps, bounces, and other chaotic movements.


In the 1930s and 40s, cameras were steadily improving, but large movements were still possible. These jitters are clearly noticeable while refined from the previous era.

THE 1950S

Cameras are really starting to become well-oiled machines, and thus the effects are becoming more and more subtle. These jitters are still visible, but less obvious.

The 1960s

The effects are becoming even more refined in this era. The large jumps and bumps from previous eras are mostly absent.

The 1970s

By this decade, the jitters are becoming quite subtle. If you’re not looking for them, they are easy to miss. The exception here is low-budget “grindhouse” films that can have tons of random movement. Therefore we have included one track from that subgenre as well.

The 1980s

At this point, the jitters become really hard to spot, and you might have to look closely to see them.

The 1990s

This is where the jitters become practically imperceptible. At this point, it is more or less a subconscious effect. When paired with a subtle film grain overlay, this can produce very pleasing results.

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Adding Film Jitters to your project

If you’re working in Adobe After Effects, Nuke, Flame, or many other compositing apps you can simply copy and paste the provided tracking data. But for all other situations, you can do a quick track of the high-resolution ProRes Quicktime file and link that tracking data to your source footage.


Not just for compositors

Our Optical Jitters are easy for video editors or any creative to use with just a few clicks. Most modern NLEs, such as Adobe Premiere Pro have the ability to track a shot, and therefore our footage can be tracked and utilized with just a few clicks.


Wrapping Up

By using film jitters in your video footage, you can create an authentic film look and feel that will impress your audience. Our easy-to-use tracking data makes it simple to apply the jitters to your project, regardless of your level of expertise. With just a few clicks, you can add this subtle effect to give your videos an extra level of polish. So don’t wait, try out our film jitters today!



What are the benefits of using optical jitters?

There are many benefits to using optical jitters in your footage. By adding some subtle movement, you can add a sense of life and realism that can be lacking in digital video. Additionally, it can help to take the edge off of overly clean and perfect footage.

How do I use optical jitters?

Simply download our provided footage and tracking data, then apply the optical jitters to your own footage in your preferred compositing or video editing software.

What software do I need to use optical jitters?

Optical jitters are compatible with all major compositing and video editing software programs.

Do I need any special skills or knowledge to use optical jitters?

If you can do simple point tracking and/or apply preexisting tracking data, then you can use Optical Jitters in your project.