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Creating cinematic color treatments


After Effects CS5 Essential Training

with Chad Perkins

Video: Creating cinematic color treatments

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.
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  1. 5m 40s
    1. Introduction
      1m 30s
    2. What is After Effects?
      3m 12s
    3. How to use the exercise files
  2. 28m 14s
    1. After Effects workflow overview
      2m 18s
    2. Bringing elements into After Effects
      2m 23s
    3. Adding elements to the Timeline
      1m 57s
    4. Working with layers
      3m 45s
    5. Creating animation with presets
      3m 24s
    6. Applying effects
      3m 34s
    7. Creating animation without presets
      5m 38s
    8. Previewing your work
      2m 46s
    9. Exporting content as a movie file
      2m 29s
  3. 27m 20s
    1. Touring the interface
      6m 2s
    2. How After Effects projects work
      4m 47s
    3. What is a composition?
      4m 52s
    4. Tips for adding content to compositions
      2m 49s
    5. Understanding the properties of video
      8m 50s
  4. 57m 8s
    1. Importing an Illustrator file
      4m 57s
    2. Animation basics
      7m 12s
    3. Animating opacity
      6m 40s
    4. Understanding anchor points
      4m 57s
    5. Animating position
      6m 8s
    6. Animating rotation
      4m 41s
    7. Animating scale
      7m 19s
    8. Using the Puppet tool
      7m 13s
    9. Copying and pasting keyframes
      3m 4s
    10. Animation shortcuts
      4m 57s
  5. 9m 42s
    1. Understanding precomposing
      6m 51s
    2. Navigating through compositions quickly
      2m 51s
  6. 1h 12m
    1. A showcase of effects
      2m 34s
    2. Creating a layer for effects
      3m 1s
    3. Applying effects
      4m 54s
    4. Animating effect properties
      4m 29s
    5. Using Glow
      5m 34s
    6. Creating patterns and textures
      6m 57s
    7. Creating a fireball
      7m 9s
    8. Using the Cycore effects
      5m 58s
    9. Adding blur
      5m 45s
    10. Creating a galaxy scene from scratch
      8m 38s
    11. Distorting objects with effects
      4m 7s
    12. Creating and using lens flares
      4m 21s
    13. Creating lightning bolts
      4m 3s
    14. Viewing random variations with Brainstorm
      4m 39s
  7. 30m 52s
    1. Shortening the duration of layers
      4m 23s
    2. Trimming in the Footage panel
      4m 14s
    3. Slowing and accelerating video speed
      7m 9s
    4. Applying video transitions between clips
      6m 7s
    5. Working with image sequences
      4m 47s
    6. Importing footage with an alpha channel
      4m 12s
  8. 36m 11s
    1. Brightening dark footage
      9m 12s
    2. Changing colors in footage
      6m 34s
    3. Creating cinematic color treatments
      8m 17s
    4. Creating a quick vignette
      3m 42s
    5. Colorizing black-and-white objects
      4m 50s
    6. Using adjustment layers
      3m 36s
  9. 21m 9s
    1. Creating and editing text
      7m 39s
    2. Applying text animation presets
      4m 41s
    3. Animating text manually
      4m 43s
    4. Applying layer styles to text
      4m 6s
  10. 28m 58s
    1. Let's get better
    2. Using work areas
      3m 37s
    3. Creating markers
      6m 17s
    4. Replacing layers
      2m 35s
    5. Mastering Timeline navigation
      3m 18s
    6. Aligning and distributing layers
      3m 4s
    7. Selecting layers quickly
      1m 56s
    8. Cropping layers
      3m 43s
    9. Adjusting comp resolution
      3m 51s
  11. 23m 53s
    1. Using the paint tools
      9m 35s
    2. Using the Roto Brush tool
      9m 25s
    3. Animating growing vines
      4m 53s
  12. 40m 29s
    1. Creating and using masks
      6m 42s
    2. Exploring mask options
      7m 57s
    3. Creating masks with Auto-trace
      6m 51s
    4. Masking objects with other objects
      5m 33s
    5. Making shape layers
      3m 43s
    6. Modifying shape layers
      9m 43s
  13. 30m 44s
    1. Turning 2D layers into 3D layers
      9m 22s
    2. Creating lights and cameras
      6m 14s
    3. Creating shadows
      4m 23s
    4. Using depth of field
      4m 42s
    5. Working with 3D effects
      6m 3s
  14. 18m 10s
    1. Removing a green screen background
      4m 37s
    2. Refining the matte
      4m 48s
    3. Compositing with color adjustments
      4m 50s
    4. Compositing with blend modes
      3m 55s
  15. 25m 44s
    1. Understanding spatial interpolation
      2m 5s
    2. Creating and adjusting motion paths
      3m 55s
    3. Orienting moving objects along a path
      1m 29s
    4. Drawing motion with Motion Sketch
      2m 51s
    5. Creating pauses in animation
      3m 6s
    6. Understanding temporal interpolation
      1m 56s
    7. Easing keyframes
      5m 57s
    8. About the Graph Editor
      4m 25s
  16. 12m 13s
    1. Stabilizing shaky footage
      7m 46s
    2. Tracking the motion in footage
      4m 27s
  17. 24m 58s
    1. Setting up parent layers
      5m 49s
    2. Working with null objects
      2m 31s
    3. What are expressions?
      7m 17s
    4. Modifying simple expressions
      2m 20s
    5. Using the wiggle expression
      7m 1s
  18. 6m 52s
    1. Understanding audio in motion graphics
      1m 22s
    2. Previewing and mixing audio
      3m 55s
    3. Enhancing audio tracks with effects
      1m 35s
  19. 11m 36s
    1. Adding comps to the Render Queue
      2m 30s
    2. Exploring key Render Queue settings
      4m 11s
    3. How should I export my video?
      4m 55s
  20. 7m 16s
    1. Using Photoshop with After Effects
      2m 10s
    2. Using Illustrator with After Effects
      3m 2s
    3. Using Flash with After Effects
      2m 4s
  21. 11s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course After Effects CS5 Essential Training
8h 39m Beginner Apr 30, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Understanding the After Effects workflow
  • Precomposing footage
  • Explaining the basics and beyond of animating
  • Creating glows, patterns, textures, and more with effects
  • Color correcting footage
  • Working with text
  • Manipulating video playback speed
  • Masking objects and shape layers
  • Removing backgrounds with keying
  • Compositing multiple pieces of footage
  • Integrating After Effects with the rest of the Creative Suite
After Effects
Chad Perkins

Creating cinematic color treatments

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.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects CS5 Essential Training .

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Q: In the "Creating a fireball" movie in Chapter 6, the author showed how to make a fireball. Unfortunately, it all centered around a blob layer that he made without showing how to make a blob layer. How does one go about creating a blob layer like the one used in the video?
A: To create a blob layer, make a shape layer using the Pen tool. Animate the anchor points over time to make it move. These concepts are reviewed in depth in Chapter 4, "Learning to Animate."
Q: In the Chapter 5 video "Understanding precomposing," the exercise file provided does not seem to match up with the file the instructor uses. My file does not include a "Biker Body" layer. Is there an error in the exercise file?
A: Unfortunately, the exercise file originally distributed for this chapter was incorrect. A new file was issued in February 2011. If you downloaded the exercise files prior to then, you can download the corrected file on the Exercise Files tab of the course page.
Q: How do I transition from one piece of animated type to another in After Effects?
A: There isn't an effect that can create these types of transitions. It's really a matter of animating the type and camera, using basic keyframing and positioning.
If you understand the basics of moving the anchor point of a type layer, animating the parameters of that layer (Scale, Rotation, Position, etc.) and then separately animating the camera around the type layers, you can achieve different types of transitions.  Check out the following videos for more information:

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