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With all time lapse images, a certain amount of flicker is to be expected. As well as a need to color grade. Now with this long exposure hyper lapse, we definitely have huge variations in the lighting. Both because we were driving through great distances. Some of these shots were a minute long. So, imagine driving down a highway for a minute, how much variety you're going to see in lighting conditions, at night. So, we needed to see some fluctuations here and really get things to auto stabilize, plus just a little bit of color. Let me walk you through a graded shot and explain the decisions that I made.
Let's put the recently-imported one into the same folder with the shot I've already taken a pass at. I've imported the same images, but I have two different compositions here. All right. I'm going to close everything else, except for these two compositions. Make it a little easier for you to see. This first one here, is the one that was just imported, and we've already applied frame blending, and sized it for the composition. And, here's my finished one, where I've done a little bit of extra work.
Well, let me explain the process. First off, there are a bunch of automated effects. So one of my favorites is to add an adjustment layer, Layer > New > Adjustment Layer. And then I'll choose Auto Levels. I can just type auto into the search field here. Making it a bit easier to see. There it is. And drag that on the adjustment layer. Now I like to name that layer, just press the Return key and actually name that Auto Levels, so it's easy to see what that effect is. The important option here, is that you turn on temporal smoothing.
I'm going to tell it to evaluate one second of material and then create the auto value. Also, I'm going to lower the white clip so we don't get any additional posterization. If you have the white set clip too high, it's possible that some of your highlights will posterize, so lower that. That looks pretty good. If I turn that off and on, you see that it's enhanced things a bit. Next, I like to add a power window or a vignette. So, I'll add a new solid, Layer > New > Solid. Take my eye dropper, and sample some of the dark shadows.
With that done, you get a solid layer, and if you select the ellipse tool, double-clicking will add a mask. It's now pretty easy to control that mask. I'm going to invert it and feather it. We'll drop this down to half quality to speed things up a bit. Do a nice value here of 250 pixels to feather. Give that a second to redraw. There's the vignette on top. I like that. And what I'll do here is set it to Multiply mode so it picks up the background a bit more.
And then T for opacity. Or you could just twirl it down to see the Transform commands. Lower that to about 60%. And it gives a nice darkening of the edges, drawing the viewer's eye to the center of the screen. All right, if we preview that, it looks pretty good. You'll see here that we've got a bit of color grading, and we have the vignette at the edges and it's got a nice, slow transition from one frame to the next. But we're definitely seeing some flicker across the board.
Let's play that. We see a lot of changes in brightness values. Fortunately, with the slow change from one frame to the next, it's mostly hidden, but there's an optional thing I can add. If I select this layer, there's a third party effect that you can try from Granite Bay Software, called Deflicker. And what you do is analyze the clip. It'll take a look at the histogram and give it the automated option of going through and deflickering.
So it can smooth things out automatically. If I click Analyze, it will take a look at all those frames, create new key frames or transitional amounts, and adjust the brightness over time. I've already done those things over here. You'll note that we have our image sequence with the deflicker plugin applied. I've applied auto levels and the power vignette looks great. Let's invoke a preview. Looks pretty good there, we've got a little flare, so let's take a look at the auto levels for a second and lower the white clip.
And we'll increase that smoothing to 2. There we go. The flicker is a little strong, and that's why we can go under the options, here. Let's change that to gamma. And that looks better there. So let's reinvoke a preview. So we changed the method. Note, with the correction methods, you have a few options there, and that did a better job. That prevented things from blowing out as much, and so now we have a smoother luminance value through the shot, and that feels pretty good. This would work very well for a transitional segment where we wanted it to be a little bit more abstract.
But, still feel the pulse of the energy as we drive across the desert.
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