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This course was created and produced by Chris Meyer. We are honored to host his material in the lynda.com Online Training Library®.
Final Cut Pro: Adding Lighting Effects in Post demonstrates how to use any version of Final Cut Pro to easily add animated lighting effects to existing footage. Going beyond basic techniques, Chris Meyer shares his personal experience and uses many examples to teach the best way to select and fine-tune lighting clips to enhance a variety of underlying shots. He presents techniques for subtle enhancements that will help hold the viewer's attention while adding production value to virtually any shot.
Let's move onto some examples. First, I'm going to arrange my window just so we can get things closer together. Here's a clip of a women in an office. It's nicely done, it's nicely lit. It just doesn't have much going on. There is no lights going on in the background, three is no lights going across her face. It's relying on the action to carry the whole shot. Well, we can enhance this by adding lighting layers. For example, let's turn on this candidate. Again, this is a sort of soft, out of focus, gently moving candidate that may make a good lighting layer.
When choosing our composite mode, my first candidate is usually Overlay. We like to see if that one works, then I'll move off of this one and try other ideas. In this case, it adds some nice highlights and some nice interesting kind of color saturated shadows to this footage. Notice in Final Cut, as soon as I use the composite mode, my Render bar goes red. I'll hit Command+R to go ahead and render it. This is the only time I'll make you sit through this. In the future I'll just cut out the renders and jump straight to the action.
Here's the result. You'll notice we have got some nice shadows moving along with this back wall now and a little bit of light playing across to her face. It's nothing too demanding or exciting, but it does enhance the overall shot. Now in case of this footage, this is primarily a white shot. When my footage is primarily white, another good mode to try out is Multiply. Multiply keeps white areas at their same original values and then darkens underlying footage based on the black areas. Let's go back to the head and play and again we have some subtle movements and shadows and light play going on.
So this is another candidate. Let's look at another shot. Now this shot is something that is much more colorful. It has lot of oranges in it, which kind of complements the browns and oranges and pinks in the flesh tones. Again, the first mode I'll try is Overlay mode. Render and play, and now I have a much more richly saturated result with much more obvious lights going on. If this is too obvious, you've got a couple of choices. One is choose a different Composite mode. For example, Soft Light is a less severe version of Overlay. It has less of an effect. It still warms it up.
But it's nowhere near as drastic. Put it back to Overlay for now. Another option is to simply reduce the Opacity of this layer. I'll open up its Motion tab, twirl down Opacity and back it off until it has the blend that I like. Here's the original clip, fully modified clip. I'll pick something more subtle there in middle to give me my desired result. Let's look at the third example. This clip is that black one which has some white areas we discussed earlier. Unlike the white clip where I use Multiply mode, now that I have the clip like this, I'll choose something such as either Add mode or Screen mode. These brighten the underlying clip. Add you'll see has a very bright effect. Screen is a less severe version of Add mode.
Again there's some areas where I notice that's just a little too severe and burning it out too much. Again I'll open my lighting layer, go to it's Motion tab, twirl down Opacity and pull back until I just have a more subtle enhancement. Just go ahead and render that one. And play and now I just have some traveling highlights moving around the scene. Again it's a subtle enhancement not a big whizzy graphical element but it does add some animation to the shot. Let's look at another shot that's inherently boring and try to bring it to life. This shot includes a person in prison and it's basically pretty stark and basically has pretty even lighting.
You don't have many fancy lighting rigs in a prison. Let's go ahead and turn on a potential enhancement layer and you'll notice that I've chosen one that has strong vertical elements into it. The idea is for that to compliment the strong vertical elements in the bars behind. There's my shot. I'll select it, pick a Composite mode, again I'll start out with Overlay and notice how that adds real strong colors to these shots. If I drag through you notice the colors animate through the entire scene. Now that's a bit too strong of an effect but again I'll open it up in its Motion tab, Opacity and back it off a bit to just have a more subtle result rather than a very strong result.
I go to its head and play and now you see I have some subtle shadows and lights playing across the bar and playing across his hands. I'm just adding a little bit more visual interest to this scene and making it a little bit less dark. Another clip to try is something like this. There is very strong vertical elements into it. I go back to home and play. You notice that it has a strong traveling motif in it as well. This is about as crazy and as strong and obvious of the lighting layer as I may try.
I'll go ahead and try Overlay mode as my starting point. Drag my time cursor. Notice that it's fairly strong. So I'll double click, click its Motion tab, maybe back off the effect a little bit. So that it's little less obvious or I can always try a less severe mode such as Soft Light mode. Now I can go ahead and bring my Opacity back up again. Now I have just something more like bands of light rather than really obvious shifting lights. Home and play and now you'll see that I got my light elements moving across the bars. And you'll see why I'm kind of against fast moving sharp elements. They can be too obvious and a little difficult to use.
Quite often it's better to use something more subtle like this layer was, which just had gently shifting elements going across my frame. Let's look at another inherently boring example: a hand on a mouse. It has the information that we need, this person clicking the mouse, but it's not visually exciting. So let's go ahead and make it more exciting by playing around with some lighting effects. First we'll try this layer. This one just has little sparkly elements that appear and disappear throughout this scene. It has a nice and warm tone to it, which will also hopefully compliment our hand underneath. Let's go ahead and pick some modes. Again when I have a clip that's predominantly black, I'll try something like an Add or a Screen mode. Composite > Add. Adds some very bright highlights.
Kind of interesting sparklies but maybe too much. So let's try different mode first. Composite Mode > Screen and now that's more subtle. Let's go ahead and go to home on that and play. And now I just have some fun light playing and sparkly elements going across my scene. I don't like those orange elements. I can go ahead and try hue shifting them. Let's try some other lighting effects. Here's the case of something that has very interesting swirly patterns but what is of more interest to me is that it has a strong diagonal orientation. Now my underlying shot is on the diagonal.
Notice that the mouse cord comes in from this angle and the fingers come down from this angle. I basically have an upper right to lower left angle. That's why I chose a lighting layer that has a similar diagonal orientation. It's mostly black, so again I'll try Add or Screen modes, Composite > Add, and I've got sort of a high-tech swirly look going across her hand. Let's just go ahead and drag the time indicator through the scene and you'll see what's going on. Might be little too sharp. In this case I might try to blur that underlying layer and again we'll discuss tricks like that in the last movie.
Finally, let's try this lighting layer. I warned you earlier that I felt that this may be too interesting, too sharp, too fast moving. Let's give it a shot anyway just to confirm our suspicions. Composite > Overlay. I'm going to go to home and play. And again you'll see that even though it is an interesting clip, it draws too much attention away from the inherent action. I want my viewer focusing on clicking the mouse. Instead they're looking at the swirly lights.
So you do need exercise some caution in what clips that you choose. If you'd like to see some more examples, the next movie contains four more scenarios of how you can pick a lighting clip to best enhance different types of underlying shots. If you think you already have the basic concept down, you can skip the next movie and move on to the last set of movies that show you how to further enhance lighting clip to match the layout, the color and other factors of your underlying footage. So let's go.
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