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Overview of Colorama

From: After Effects: Insight into Effects

Video: Overview of Colorama

Colorama is one of the most powerful and also probably one of the most confusing color manipulation effects inside After Effects. However, power users will tell you it's one of the most flexible color effects as well, so it's worth mastering. In the next three movies, I'm going to show you, how to set up Colorama and explain what the parameters do, how to use it as the ultimate Tint effect. It goes way beyond Tritone and similar effects. Then how to use it to create Color Cycling, an old psychedelic effect, where colors travel through gradients. So settle down, spend some time, master this really cool powerful effect.

Overview of Colorama

Colorama is one of the most powerful and also probably one of the most confusing color manipulation effects inside After Effects. However, power users will tell you it's one of the most flexible color effects as well, so it's worth mastering. In the next three movies, I'm going to show you, how to set up Colorama and explain what the parameters do, how to use it as the ultimate Tint effect. It goes way beyond Tritone and similar effects. Then how to use it to create Color Cycling, an old psychedelic effect, where colors travel through gradients. So settle down, spend some time, master this really cool powerful effect.

First let's show the basic Colorama setup and explain some of its parameters. Select the footage and apply Effect > Color Correction > Colorama and watch out because the defaults are really garish. A lot of effects in After Effects do have defaults that are a little... non-optimal, shall we say. Well, the first thing you want to do in Colorama is twirl down the Input Phase and the Output Cycle. This basically says where do you want to take your input from, where do you want to get an underlying grayscale image, and then how do you want to output it.

What colors do you want to convert that grayscale ramp into? So in the Input Phase, you may want to start with something such as Lightness. That is a basic grayscale ramp. You can pick just a Red channel, Green channel or Blue channel, and it's worth looking at our special topics movie on Grayscale Shootout to show the differences between these. But you can also pick up the parameters such as Value another way of measuring the grayscale. The Alpha, the Hue, the Saturation. I'll start with Lightness. Now that you have an Input channel, pick your Output Cycle.

How do you want to send this out? And Colorama ships with a nice set of presets. Now just to start out simple, I'm going to ahead and pick Ramp Grey as my starting point. So take Lightness in and go to Gray out, and that's a quick way of setting up a grayscale image. You might be wanting to take this and save it as an Animation Preset and in the future instead of applying Colorama straight from the Effect menu, apply this preset so you already have Input and Output setup, and it should be a little bit less garish when you get going.

Okay! Now that we've got an image we are going to look at, let's start playing around with these different options. Input phase as we mentioned has different choices for picking say the Red channel, the Green channel or the Blue channel, in addition to other parameters such as Hue, Lightness, Saturation and Value of an image. You see that Lightness is indeed different than Value. I'll pick Lightness for now. You can use a second layer to mix in with this grayscale ramp.

In this case I'll have one layer in my composition, I could even pick the same movie and pick a different parameter such as say the Red channel and mix that in with my Lightness. How they get added together, these two different layers, is set by the Add Mode. Here I'm wrapping around. As I go beyond white, it's going back to black again. That's kind of crazy. I can Clamp, which basically says posterize the whites. Average, average together the two channels. Now that's kind of interesting, because at least I could pick say the Blue channel and Red channel and average them together to create a different type of grayscale image or use the blending mode Screen to mix these two together.

You don't need to use your second channel. I can set back to None. You can pick just Lightness, but you can pick more than one property and you can pick another layer. Phase Shift basically says do you want to offset these Input gradients that you are going to then be mapping colors to? This is of little use for color correction because these start creating strange wraparounds as you add and go through these different levels. It is much more useful when we talk about color cycling, which is in a separate movie.

Okay! We've got our Input Phase set. Now let's talk about the Output Cycle, what do we map our colors to. I'm going to cover this in much more depth in the next movie, but I just want to show you quickly. There are many different presets you can go ahead and choose from, Red, Caribbean, Fire And Smoke colors, all sorts of different color setups and in the next movie, I'll show you how to edit those color setups. I'll go back to Ramp Grey for now. Cycle Repetitions, you can have this color ramp appear more than once in your map.

For example, you can go from here to here, as you go from 0% to 50% gray, then start all over again and at 51% gray, you go from here around this wheel to 100% gray. That would be two Cycle Repetitions. Again, not that much use for normal Color Correction. It's of a lot of use when you're doing things like Color Cycling. We'll talk about Interpolate palette in the next movie as well. You don't have to alter the entire image. There's a couple of interesting areas down here, such as Masking and Pixel Selection.

For Pixel Selection, I can pick a color in the underlying layer such as say just the blue of this water, turn Colorama back on, and say match the RGB values of that water. Now you notice that just the water and similar colors have been turned grayscale, while the rest of the colors have been left untouched. In other words, Colorama will only affect the areas that match this color. And there are different matching modes. There are times when you want to use Chroma instead. You'll see here it still picked up the water.

That's left the mountain alone. Chroma is good for real video. RGB is good for synthetic images such as Illustrator or Flash artwork. I'll turn this off for now. There is also a masking selection. We'll go ahead and choose any layer on the composition and use a property of it such as its Intensity, basically its Luminance values or its Alpha channel to act as a mask for the Colorama Effects. In this I've chosen Intensity, so Colorama is only going to affect in the areas that high intensity to them.

But I'll leave this off for now and affect the entire image. Composite Over Layer becomes important in the next movie. Basically, I can choose to create holes in the image with Colorama. If I want the original layer underneath, I'll just composite over myself. And again, there is good old fashioned Blend with Original. The last section is really tricky and it's basically Modify. It says do you want to modify all the channels of the image? In this case turn Red, Green and Blue all into a grayscale image. Do you want to modify just one of the color channels of the image? Do you want to modify two of the color channels, so just the Red and the Green channels? Do you want to modify some other property such as the Lightness? The Hue and the Lightness, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Colorama is just extremely flexible in allowing you to say what characteristic of the color of the source image and/ or another layer do you want to pick, what colors do you want to map those to, and how do you want to reapply those layers back into this image. Flexibility can be daunting, but you don't need to do with all those things. You could go ahead and set the Input Phase to something like Lightness, Output Cycle to something like a preset to start with, then start working with the Effect. If you know you are going for a particular treatment, that's when you can get in to second layers for Phase, modifying specific color channels, etcetera.

The power is in there, but don't get distracted by it. Okay, now you know how to set up Colorama. In the next movie let's show working with this Output Cycle wheel and how you can use it to tint an image.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for After Effects: Insight into Effects
After Effects: Insight into Effects

47 video lessons · 10279 viewers

Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2m 6s
    1. Welcome
      2m 6s
  2. 7m 27s
    1. The Effects & Presets panel: finding effects
      2m 42s
    2. The Effects & Presets panel: animation presets
      4m 45s
  3. 1h 24m
    1. Bilateral Blur
      5m 30s
    2. Box Blur
      5m 33s
    3. CC Vector Blur
      6m 18s
    4. Creative Channel Blur
      2m 2s
    5. Corrective Channel Blur
      1m 47s
    6. The pros of Compound Blur
      4m 35s
    7. The cons of Compound Blur
      3m 3s
    8. Directional Blur
      2m 35s
    9. Fast Blur and Gaussian Blur
      5m 16s
    10. Lens Blur: iris effects
      6m 17s
    11. Lens Blur: depth maps
      4m 41s
    12. Overview of Radial Blurs
      4m 16s
    13. Radial Blurs shootout
      3m 29s
    14. Reduce Interlace Flicker
      4m 12s
    15. Corrective Smart Blur
      4m 26s
    16. Creative Smart Blur
      7m 40s
    17. Unsharp Mask theory
      5m 5s
    18. Unsharp Mask and Sharpen
      3m 59s
    19. Unsharp Mask power tips
      4m 14s
  4. 41m 5s
    1. Overview of Calculations
      3m 55s
    2. Creative Calculations
      3m 32s
    3. CC Composite
      4m 54s
    4. Overview of Channel Combiner
      2m 49s
    5. Channel Combiner and color space
      3m 56s
    6. Channel Combiner and transparency
      4m 0s
    7. Remove Color Matting
      4m 24s
    8. Set Matte vs. Track Mattes
      6m 45s
    9. Set Channels and Shift Channels
      2m 0s
    10. Solid Composite
      4m 50s
  5. 1h 1m
    1. Auto Color vs. Auto Levels
      6m 21s
    2. Auto Contrast vs. Auto Levels
      4m 44s
    3. Channel Mixer
      5m 34s
    4. Corrective Color Balance
      8m 15s
    5. Creative Color Balance
      3m 19s
    6. Color Stabilizer
      4m 51s
    7. Overview of Colorama
      7m 40s
    8. Tinting with Colorama
      5m 48s
    9. Colorama and color cycling
      3m 12s
    10. Hue/Saturation tips
      5m 4s
    11. Hue/Saturation vs. Color Balance
      2m 17s
    12. Tint vs. Tritone
      4m 34s
  6. 14m 40s
    1. Compound effects
      5m 43s
    2. Grayscale shootout
      6m 45s
    3. Repeat Edge Pixels
      2m 12s

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