Skill Level Intermediate
- [Eran] Hey, everyone. Eran Stern here with another After Effects weekly episode. And in this movie, we'll investigate the effects under the utility category. Those seven effects works best with 32 bits per channel color mode. So, as a first step, I'll make sure to change the project bit depth by alt clicking twice over here. In this column, I have three layers that were created by Promotheus, a TV broadcasting post-house in Tel Aviv.
If you'd like to see more of their work, you can visit their website, www.promots.tv. And so, in this mock-up example, we are celebrating the new and last season of Game of Throne. It will be available locally on this company named Yes. I'll start by selecting the sword layer that was rendered in 3D using a hight bit depth EXR format.
The thing with this frame is that in this case it's actually using the wrong color profile. So if you want to convert it to a different profile, one way to work is to use the Color Profile Converter effect from the utility category. Now I must advise that in most cases, you should always use the automatic color management features inside After Effects. This will help you to convert from one color space to another rather than using the Color Profile Converter effect.
But sometimes it's a matter of taste, or maybe you just want to control one specific layer. And if this is one of those cases, then this is a great tool which will help you to achieve exactly that. So, I'm going to start by assigning an input profile. Instead of the project working space, let's go with sRGB. I happen to know that this is the correct input. And let's say that we want to output to something else, so I'm just going to select an output profile.
And in this case, I'm going to go with the Adobe RGB 1998. Now, since this was rendered in 32 bits per channel, I'm also going to linearize the output profile, which will give me this kind of result. Now, obviously, we have a better contrast and much greater definition in terms of colors, but I'm guessing that some of the colors over here are being overexposed. Now, in order to see the correct information here in the info panel, I'm going to make sure that this is set to auto color display, which means that it will take the definitions from the project settings, which I've changed to 32 bits per channel.
Anyhow, if I'm going to move my mouse on top of this, you can see that we have an extremely bright colors, way, way more than we need. So, one way to check those colors, of course, is to work with the Lumetri Scopes. If I'm going to open them, we can see that they will give you a representation of what colors are under zero or above 100. But in this case, I'm just going to close this panel because I really want some indication which colors are under or maybe overexposed.
And for that, we have a third-party utility which is shipping with After Effects. This is the CC Overbrights. So, I'm going to place it underneath, and note that this effect, as most of the other effects in this category as I mentioned at the outset of the movie, will work best at 32 bits per channel. I'm going to set the channel mode to RGB Clip, and now we can easily tell with this very vivid red overlay where are the problems.
Once again, this is a utility effect. You only use it in order to find out what went wrong. So, in order to compensate, you've got another option over here, which is the HDR Highlight Compression. So, I'm going to switch off the visibility for this effect. Actually, I'm going to take it underneath the HDR highlight compression, and I'm going to turn on and off the switch for this guy. And you can immediately see, take a look at those details on the top of the sword over here when we've got tons of reflections and bright colors that this effect actually managed to compensate.
I'm also going to move my mouse on top of it, and if I'm going to check the info panel, we can see that now we made those colors less bright, and they actually look much better. And also again in order to verify that this is indeed the case, I'm going to switch on the visibility for the CC Overbrights. And as you can see, we don't have any problems whatsoever. All right, I'm going to switch it off for the moment, and I'm also going to collapse it. Now, there is one effect here which is the Cineon Converter, and I'm not going to cover it.
This is a standard linear to logarithmic color conversion effect for Cineon files. So, if you are working with this file format, which is quite old but still useful, you can use this utility effect to help you develop the color spread for your images. I'm just going to apply it so you can see the settings that I have over here. But once again, this is not a Cineon file, so I'll move on to the next layer. So, let's just delete this guy, and let's go to the Promotheus logo over here.
And as you can see, I've already assigned the CC Radial Fast Blur effect, which is a 16 bit per channel effect. So if I'm going to click on this warning icon, After Effects will tell you that this effect only supports eight and 16 bit per channel color. And if you're going to use this effect in a 32 bit per channel project, you may reduce the color precision and may remove any high dynamic range values. And the only reason that I'm reading it to you is because I know that most of you are not going (laughs) to bother to read it.
This is true for myself as well. Anyhow, let's see how we can compensate to avoid this problem. And I just want to show you that I've already animated this effect, so I'm going to press U, and we can see that I have couple of key frames over here which actually use this effect in order to create this very, very nice highlight. Now, let's just zoom in to this area so we can see another problem. Before I'm going to fix the color problem, let's attend to this problem, which is part of the limitation of the CC Radial Fast Blur effect.
This effect can only work within the boundaries of the image itself, and since I took this amount very high, we can see that we are actually cropping those nice highlights or streak of light generated by this effect. So there is, of course, a utility effect which will help you to fix this problem, and this is the Grow Bounds effect. I'm going to take it and place it before the CC Radial Fast Blur effect, and this will help you to expand a layer before you are going to process it.
So in this case, let's just take it to 800 just so we will be safe, and we can see everything in the scene. I'm just going to scrub and verify that nothing is being trimmed. All right, now let's deal with the problem of the colors that we are losing. For that, we have another effect, which is the HDR Compander. So, Compander is a welding between compressor and expander. This effect is going to give you a way to work with effects that don't support high dynamic range color such as eight bit per channel and 16 bits per channel effects.
And it tries to do it without sacrificing the high dynamic range of the footage. Now in order to work with it, you need two copies of the effect, and you need to put the effects that doesn't work as a sandwich between them. So the best practice here is to apply the Compress-Expand Dynamic Range animation preset. So I'm going to go to the effects and preset index search. I'm going to start to type the word compress, and here it is under image utilities.
I'm just going to drag and drop this, and now we've got the compress and expand. And by the way, both of them are instances of the same effect, the HDR Compander. And if you want to verify, you can just click on the word about, and you can see this is the same thing. So, just in case you want to change the name of the effect, you can select it and then press return on the keyboard and type anything you like. Anyhow, I'm going to take the first instance and put it above the CC Radial Fast Blur in order for this thing to work.
And now, in order to see what we are gaining here, I'm going to reduce the gamma of the Compress effect to something a little bit lower in order to get more out of the effects that I'm applying. Now, the interesting thing here is that this animation preset actually holds a expression which will link between the value of the first effect and the value of the second one. So you can see that you only need to worry about the first instance, and the second one is going to follow along.
Now, if I'm going to switch off the Expand as well as the Compress, and take a snapshot so we can see where we are starting, and then I'm going to bring them both back and use this in order to compare. We can see that we are actually compressing the colors, and we are getting a better definition or a more accurate representation of light. So if this is something that you'll need to do inside After Effects, and you don't want to lose those colors, this is a great utility to use.
All right, I'm going to go to the beginning. Let's also fit the viewer so we can see everything. And I'm going to finish up with the last effect in the list, which is actually the first one over here, the Apply Color Lookup Table. This is an effect that will help you to apply an external lookup table if you are using it in some other system. Now, there are a couple of other ways to apply color lookup table inside After Effects, such as the Lumetri Color, but this one is an old-school effect, and it's very effective as well as very simple to use.
In order to show you what it does, I'm going to create an adjustment layer over here. And then I'm going to apply the effect to this layer. And immediately it's going to ask me to choose a lookup table. So I'm going to load out these Brannan.cube, and I'm going to say open. And you can see how this effect take hold. Now since I applied it to an adjustment layer, I can obviously change the blending mode as well as press D in order to fade out the effect, maybe change the opacity.
Let's reduce it, to say, 50%. So this is the before, and this is after. And if you want to replace your lookup table, just click over here where it says choose LUT, or lookup table, and load something new. So, hopefully I've helped you to remove some of the mystery behinds these utility effects. Those effects can help you to solve problems as well as offer some creative tools for better and more precise colors here inside After Effects.