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In After Effects CS5 Essential Training, author Chad Perkins discusses the basic tools, effects, and need-to-know techniques in Adobe After Effects CS5, the professional standard for motion graphics, compositing, and visual effects for video. The course provides an overview of the entire workflow, from import to export, as well as detailed coverage of each stage, including animating text and artwork, adding effects to compositions, working in 3D, and rendering and compressing footage. Exercise files are included with the course.
Now we're going to look at creating cinematic color. Folks, movies have a certain color to them and it adds so much of the experience of watching a movie, so different than video. I've recently worked on a film called White. And what I was challenged to do was to take this film, which was about a post-apocalyptic Seattle. And so here we have a little girl running. And this is her dad here and they are running past a dead body. And this is supposed to look like this wasteland and everybody is dead and it's all that kind of stuff.
But the problem is this doesn't look very much like a movie. This looks like a photo that someone took outside. So, the mood isn't really set. And in a film that's what you're trying to do. You're trying to tell a story. And so my challenge was to take it and what I did is I made it look like this. So, you can see the difference between the bright vibrant pinks and just kind of the random color palette and all those things brought together to make one cohesive dark scary visual effect. So, again, you could see the difference in the way each one makes you feel and this one just doesn't feel very cinematic.
When you look at it instantly, you're not really exactly sure what story it's trying to tell you. But this you can tell that it is a dark scary world because of the color palette. This is a very exciting subject of discussion for me personally and that is what we're going to make now. I have here this footage, this shot from the Hansel and Petal flower shop, and the colors are just kind of as-is. This is just the way the place looks. It doesn't really tell us a story and when you are creating cinematic color you want people to be able to feel a certain way based on the instant they look at an image.
So, we want to kind of shape our viewer's perception of this flower shop. Are they supposed to love it and feel like home? There's already some kind of like warm color tones here happening, and it definitely feels like this eclectic homey vibe, but we could enhance that with a cinematic color treatment. The way I prefer to do this in After Effects is by using the Color Balance effect. So, I'm going to do search on that here, and we don't want Color Balance (HLS). We want just regular old Color Balance, so I'm going to drag-and-drop this effect on to our footage.
And let's first try to make this all warm and homey. The way that we do that is by adding warm colors. We add oranges and yellows and reds. Those are safe, friendly, warm, and inviting colors. So, when we're playing around with the Color Balance effect, we really have three different color choices in three different categories. We have Shadows, Midtones and Highlights and within each of those Shadows, Midtones and Highlights we have a slider for Red, Green and Blue. Now this is where you need to know your colors a little bit, because there isn't a yellow slider.
There isn't an orange slider, so you kind of got to be able to play around with these to get what you want. So, for example, if we want to add red to the shadows, I can click and drag and move to the right to increase the red amount. I'm just going to exaggerate this so you could see where that's going. So that goes up to 100 there. You could see the difference in the red shadows. If we wanted to add yellow to that, there isn't a yellow slider, but we get to yellow by subtracting blue. Blue and yellow are opposites. So, as we increase this to 100, we add blue, as we decrease this to 100 you could see that we've actually added yellow.
Now this is way too yellow. It's actually making me a little nauseous, so dial that back a lot. And you could see when you are playing with Color Balance, it really is kind of this juggling act where you might add something to the highlights, and then you might go back to the shadows, and then you might add some midtones and then go back to the highlights and so on and so forth, just kind of playing around. There are no hard and fast rules about what colors to add, so I am going to add a little bit of red balance here. And I might add a little bit more red to the midtones and maybe subtract some blue from the midtowns to add a little bit of yellow. Not too much though because again it starts looking like that, where it's too yellowy.
That might be cool if you are creating an effect like 1970's stuff, but it's not really what we're going for here. Add a little bit more red and that's looking pretty good. Now what I can do here as well is add another effect. In this case, I'm going to add Hue/ Saturation because what I want to do is I like this color palette, but it's a little bit too saturated. It takes me out of the scene, so I'm going to take the saturation down a little bit so that it still a believable color palette.
So, this looks kind of similar to what we started with. However, if we go down here at the Timeline panel, go to the Master fx icon for the layer and click it, here is the before and here is the after. So, again, very different. We might also want to go and add maybe a Levels effect and we could apply Levels to this. So, you could see the cinematic color is not really like just one effect or one button that just kind of gives us what you want. I've kind of got to play with it a little bit, but that's part of the fun. We could enhance this. We could drag the Midtones slider to the right to make the colors a little bit darker, or we can lighten it up by dragging this to the left and make it seem kind of more angelic and maybe nostalgic a little bit.
But again, we have definitely guided our viewers from this to this. It feels just a little bit more warm and inviting and again, we could play around with these colors a little bit more and make this more warm, but you get the idea. Now let's go on a different direction. Let's try to make this dark and creepy, which is kind of going to be hard because it really isn't a dark and creepy place at all. But it's a good exercise in what's possible and how to shape an audience's perception by the use of color. So, I'm going to go to the Color Balance effect at the Effect Controls panel and right in Color Balance I'm going to go to this Master Reset button and once we click this, it's going to completely reset all of the values for the Color Balance effect back to its default, which is to have no adjustment whatsoever.
Now our first order of business in making this look dark and evil is to get rid of that red that is so warm and inviting. So, I'm going to go to Shadow Red Balance, click, and drag this all the way to the left to -100. Midtone Red Balance, click on this, drag this all the way to -100. Highlight Red Balance, same thing, all the way to -100. Just get rid of all of that red. Now if we're going to make something scary, blue is good. Blue is cold. And then we add a little touch of Green in there to kind of add some just nausea, just to make this feel like a little bit uneasy.
Blue is cold and unfriendly, but blue with a little bit of green is a little bit more sinister. But here we have a little bit too much green. So, what I'm going to do is maybe subtract a little green from the Highlights, Midtones and Shadows. We could also add a little blue to the Shadows. I am going to add a little bit of blue to the Midtones, and that's looking pretty good. Add a little blue to the Highlights, okay. So, I'm liking where this is going, but we do have some problems for sure. I'm going to add some Levels here, and let's make this really dark.
Let's take this Midtone slider to the right to darken things up quite a bit. And if we zoom out here to get a good look, oh, looking pretty creepy. The big problem here now is, of course, saturation. So let's go and add Hue/Saturation effect to this, drag- and-drop it on ther,e and take Master Saturation down to about there, and now maybe we need to lighten this back up a little bit. So, now if we see this here, this is starting to look pretty creepy.
I want to add a little bit more saturation to make sure those blues are looking creepy. I'm looking at this wall, this balance of textures between the original warm wall and now the blue and green that is crept in, just looks very unsettling and delicious. So, if I go to this fx icon here in the layer in the Timeline panel, click this. This is before. This is after. So, again, we've really changed how the viewer should feel about this environment based on our color choices. Now we're going to actually continue from here in the next movie where we're going to talk about adding a vignette.
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