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After Effects: Adding Lighting Effects in Post demonstrates how to use virtually any version of After Effects 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. Chris also discusses how to create lighting clips from scratch, either with a camera or by using Fractal Noise.
- Adding fractal lighting effects Transforming images with lighting and color correction Using vignetting to set the scene Adjusting blur for a subtle change
Skill Level Intermediate
In the previous example, I was using a black and white lighting clip so therefore, I was not getting any color shift. However, color shift can occasionally be a problem. For example, I've got these nice gears here. I want to add some shadows, lighting effects to them. I have decided that this movement in this lighting layer is the exact type of movement that I would like. It has a strong vertical orientation just like the gears and it has some fun flashing going on. The problem is that this clip is very colorful. So if I apply to it something like an Overlay mode, you'll see we're going to get a lot of color shifts in the underlying gears. Too much so to be honest. There's a couple of ways of fixing that.
Mainly we want to turn it to grayscale image. The common way of doing it is to apply Color Correction > Hue/Saturation and back off on the Master Saturation. Get it down as much as you want, to where it's just a lighting effect rather than a colorization effect. I'm going to go ahead and RAM preview. And now you see really fun shadow play going on across this scene, adds some excitement to it. However, oddly enough, Hue and Saturation is not the best tool in After Effects to make an image grayscale. Let's go ahead and look at in isolation, turn off the Master Saturation, all the way down -100. And look at these frames like around here. Do you see that black line? That's a color transition, which just isn't looking so good when I reduce the Saturation. I'm going to save a snapshot, Shift+F5, remove Hue/Saturation, and instead apply Effect > Color Correction > Tint. Believe it or not, adding a black and white tint effect is a better way of getting a grayscale than removing Saturation, at least in After Effects.
Here's the result after removing Saturation. You will see I have these odd artifacts and lines. This is the result of using just the Tint effect. Much nicer, much smoother. Go back to put it in Overlay mode. RAM preview again. And now I have just my shadow play going across the scene without getting these blues and greens and all the colors coming in. If it's too much, I can always just back off the amount of Tint and get some of the colors back in that was in the original footage. Let's pick a happy balance somewhere around there so we just get a low bit of coloration.
Okay, sometimes you want the colors. You just want a different color. Here's our gears again, which we are very familiar with. Here's another potential lighting layer. I like the motion of it. Nice brights and darks, lot of interest, swirliness going on into it. That's predominantly blue where my gears are predominantly red. Now let's turn it on and apply it on a mode such as Overlay. I am getting some coldness mixed in with the otherwise red rust tones of these gears. I'm RAM previewing and you see the color shift just doesn't look so good.
It's very simple. Just select your lighting layer and apply Effect > Color Correction > Hue/Saturation. And then in this case, rotate the Master Hue until you get a composite color that you like in the scene. For example, I kind of like going into these dark reds, yellows, oranges. That's a nice complementary set of colors. If I just look at my lighting layer in isolation, you'll see that I shifted it now to be much more of a brick red in tone than its original blue tone.
Put it back in Overlay mode. RAM preview the combination. And now I have a lighting layer that is much more complimentary to the colors in the underlying footage. It's no longer cold. It's no longer jarring. And again if I want to reduce its effect, I'll just pull back its Opacity. That's something more subtle like around there. That's a much nicer final effect. I have got my shadows and lights but I haven't changed the color of the scene. Let's do another one. And sometimes my lighting layers have just too much color in them. You remember this woman who was working out earlier. Let's say I decided that this would make a nice sliding layer. Again it had nice vertical orientation and she also is moving in a vertical direction so the arrangement is correct. But it's very colorful, it has a lot of different colors coming in and out.
If I was just to apply this in say Overlay mode, I've got a lot of colors fighting back and forth here, where I've got purples and blues and oranges and it's a little too psychedelic for my taste. Let's go ahead and put it back in Normal for now. I'm going to go ahead and apply Effect > Color Correction > Tritone. Tritone is the best effect in After Effects to apply a nice color tint to footage because it keeps the black and white points the same and moves just the middle color. What shall we use for the middle color? Well, let's use the original footage.
I'm going to turn off my lighting layer for now. The effect is still applied, but I'm seeing my original layer underneath. I'll take my Eyedropper, I'll pick one of these nice warm oranges, or flesh tones such as around there, turn my layer back on. Now it has much more of the pinkish-orangish tone. And I pick a mode such as Overlay. Now I've got a much nicer, warmer, more complementary scene. Now as I RAM preview, you will see that instead of having those rainbow sherbet colors, I've got a nice, warm reds and oranges that compliment the scene rather than changing it or fighting it. I think this is more appropriate. Now if you don't like that tone, there's a few ways of going. You can go ahead and interactively change the color of your Tritone. Darker, lighter, play with the hue little bit, maybe little bit more yellow.
Or if you find opening up another dialog bit too fussy, you just go ahead and apply Effect > Color Correction > Hue/ Saturation and now rotate the Hue of your lighting layer on top. There we go. If it's too strong, just back off your Opacity. There's the original. There's a little bit of warming light, added RAM preview, and now I have a much more subtle lighting effect. It doesn't really change the scene. It just adds more excitement to it.