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Before demonstrating specific examples let's look at what makes a good lighting layer. This is an excellent example here. It's out of focus, it's soft, it moves slowly. So this means it'll not draw undue attention to itself. But it is a grayscale, which means it won't add a color shift to the underlying footage, and it does still have some noticeable movement in bright areas and in slightly dark areas. This is what will create the movement or animation in our lighting effect. This is another good example. Even though it's predominantly black, we can choose a composite mode that'll treat these white spots just as highlights, additional light sources on our underlying footage.
It will become equivalent of light streaming through a window or through the leaves of a tree. Here's another good example. Even though it's not strictly grayscale, it's colors to compliment common colors in footage such as flesh tones and again it's out of focus, it's slow, so does not draw undue attention to itself. But it does have noticeable movement in bright areas and slightly dark areas and that's where our light animation comes from. Here's an example of a layer that's going to be less successful as a lighting layer.
It's beautiful in its own right but it's very fast, it has very sharp lines, and at the end of the day it's going to be too much of an obvious graphical element when all we want is a subtle enhancement. Now we've been showing black and white layers for lighting but you can use color layers as well to good effect. For example this is another excellent candidate for a lighting layer. It's subtle. It's out of focus, has slow movement but again has noticeable movement so it'll be a nice lighting effect. It has a blue tint. We'll either have to pair up it up with footage that has its own blue tint or shift the hue of the shot.
Here's another movie that works well. Again it's out of focus, it's relatively subtle, it does have a strong vertical orientation and certain colors but we just choose it to go ahead and compliment other footage that shares its characteristics. Now a clip that does not work quite as well is something like this. It's relatively fast, it's relatively sharp and at the end of the day it may end at being more of a distraction than an enhancement. And that's the goal of this trick, to enhance footage not to create a brand new whizzy graphical element.
So by now you should be starting to get an idea of what makes a good lighting clip and what doesn't. What we've done is we've built a large library of some of the clips over the years that we can then reference during any job. Some of our favorite collections include the Artbeat Soft Edges, Liquid Ambiance and Dreamlight collections as well as also Liquid Abstracts and Nature Abstracts collections that we created for Artbeats. Indeed if you have access to a camera, you can shoot your own lighting footage. Look for a scene with nicely moving highlights and shadows, shoot it well out of focus, bring it into the computer, slow it down, give it a unified color scheme and maybe add other filters as necessary.
Indeed if you have Final Cut Pro you may have Final Cut Studio which is a full suite of programs including Apples Motion. Motion has more filters and also includes a great particle system where you can create your own synthetic lighting clips. Anyway now that we know what makes a good lighting clip, let's start picking lighting clips to enhance certain types of footage.
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