EXCLUSIVE: RNI Films is Working on Infrared Film Simulation Presets

We got an exclusive look at the next big project from RNI Films: Infrared Film Simulation Presets.

Photographers have been enamored with the look of Infrared films like Kodak Aerochrome. It spawned things like the creation of Lomochrome Purple and a few other emulsions. But, photographers have wanted it digitally for a while, which hasn’t been easy to create, and in fact, it still isn’t. But, RNI Films is working on a project to bring those to life. A film like this is pretty difficult to duplicate because of what it does–like turning greens into a red, purple, or pink. Granted, Aerochrome has been long gone for years, but photographers still pick it up on eBay or have some that’s frozen in their fridge. If you’ve been looking to find a way to get this look with ease, RNI films is arguably the best company to do so. They use a lot of science, studying, and time to figure out how to make just the right tweaks to images. So, we talked to Oliver on the company’s support team to discuss how this is all happening.

Phoblographer: So, you’ve been working on the latest styles for RNI films, which will bring the infrared film looks. What film emulsions have you folks been studying for this? And can you tell us what simulations customers can possibly expect?

Oliver: First things first – we still don’t know if it’s going to be an addition to RNI Films or a separate niche product. Right now, when I’m writing this, it’s just a folder of color profiles on our network drive, which are being constantly tested and tweaked. In terms of the origins – most of these new profiles are inspired by various versions of Kodak Aerochrome. And a few looks a probably coming from some mysterious infrared movie film used by Richard Mosse on one of his trips to Congo.

Aerochrome was quite a remarkable color film, a fascinating artifact of the cold war era, now sadly discontinued. Created mainly for military and surveillance purposes, Aerochrome was sensitive to both visible and infrared spectrums. It was rendering the vegetation in a kind of surreal crimson and pink colors, making people and man-made structures more visible in the surrounding vegetation.
With this work, we’d like to preserve its look in the form of a digital tool and to the best extent that can be achieved by profiling images captured in the visible spectrum.

As usual, from this product, our customers can expect a work of art in the form of creative profiles. It will be a cool, beautiful, surreal and finely balanced tool sharing its DNA with All Films 5 and offering such cool experiences as:

• The ability to smoothly tune the strength of each look down or push to 200% for greater intensity
• Film-like highlight compression
• Non-destructive editing
• Full native support of Lightroom Classic, Lightroom, Lightroom Mobile and, Photoshop ACR and ACR Smart Filters

Phoblographer: This, we know, has been a long-standing request of lots of folks. And it’s traditionally been incredibly difficult to do. We’re not going to ask for your secrets at all, but when it comes to applying them to your images, will these do better at certain white balances or with specific RAW files than others?

Oliver: There’s no big secret in how RNI film simulations are made. It is just a very tedious and boring process in fact. Day after day, lots of iterations of tweaks and tests across various subjects. Many small improvements, which accumulate over time, making for a really robust and universal profile library, something you won’t get bored with over a long period of your creative life. Will the infrared profiles work better for certain RAW files than the others? Probably. I’d say it’s more about the subject and the lighting rather than the technicality of the RAW formats and camera models. Certainly, a properly exposed daylight-balanced RAW of a well-lit landscape with people or buildings in it would look absolutely mesmerizing.

It is also quite cool to see how these profiles process the vegetation colors while sparing the skin tones and clothing items.

Phoblographer: I’ve known that RNI films from the start have always studied archives of these photos to figure out how to emulate them. Can you tell us what sort of archives you folks have been looking at? I know Aerochrome, for example, was used a lot by the US Army.

Oliver: In this case, it’s all based almost entirely on studying Richard Mosse’s photography. Mosse produced quite a significant body of work while documenting the civil war in Kongo using Aerochrome and inadvertently brought this visual style to the spotlight of the internet fame.

Phoblographer: RNI often delivers simulations with variations on the presets/styles. Can we expect that this time around? What sort of variants can we expect?

Oliver: Absolutely. We are preparing a number of base looks accompanied by process variations and profiles processed with our own color normalization algorithm, which makes for absolutely stunning color harmony and beautiful neutrals.

Phoblographer: Can customers expect these to come to the mobile app too? RNI Films is still one of my favorite apps to use on the iPhone!

Oliver: Thanks, Chris, we really appreciate that you’re using our app. That matters a lot to our small team, especially taking in account your experience and exposure to the photo tech! As for the infrared simulations – we are certainly going to make them available to the broader mobile audience too. Most likely it will come as a separate app based on our proven RNI Films engine.

Phoblographer: How will these work with RAW files from Infrared cameras?

Oliver: The only way to know is to release it to the world and wait for our customers to tell us. At this stage, I wouldn’t risk my mental health to even try to imagine that.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.