Join Mark Christiansen for an in-depth discussion in this video Match levels with proportions, part of After Effects Compositing 02: Matching Foreground to Background.
Now let's get to work matching what seems to be a completely mismatched foreground and background, and make use of this custom setup. Once you get the hang of the technique I'm about to show you, you'll be more confident that if you just start with elements that are close enough, you can quickly complete the match right here in After Effects. So this will help you whether you find yourself on set with no reference, or working in 3D and potentially noodling a 3D object to death with lighting. Or even if as here you're taking an object from somewhere else completely and matching it into the scene.
As long as you don't have a fundamental mismatch of lighting quality or direction, you can do this. So the question is, how do you match the hue and contrast of an object that has no corresponding hues in the background? One way is to use a reference item. Now, I can use a gradient. But to make it more interesting in this case, I have a little cube that I've put in here made of three solids. And as I move my cursor and look at the info panel you can see that, that's pure white, 100%.
Pure black. And 30% grey. So I'll start by matching that and then I'll apply the match that I get from it to the object. We'll see how that comes out. To get started I'm going to match the white to the whites that I see in the background scene. Sure there's the walk signal, but that's self illuminated and the object is not. This is reflected light. But look a little closer and you do see some things that you can be pretty confident are white. This one way sign. And if I look at the values, they are 34, 37 and 44. I'm rounding those off. Let's compare those to this bicycle, 39, 43, 51.
How about this piece of trash right here? There are quite a few different values, but for example, here is 39, 44, 54, again, rounding off. So, none of those values were the same, but they all have something in common. Red is the lowest. Blue is the highest. But not only that, green is about 15% higher than red in each case. And blue is about 20, maybe 25% higher than green.
So really, it doesn't matter what I use as a white reference. Any of them will do. So for example, I could go over here to the back of the truck. And I can just move my reference views so they show both of those as well, right next to each other. And I'll just use these values. So again, rounding them off, I see 41, 46, and 56. How do we plug those in? Those will be the output values for each channel.
So output white for red will be 41. For green, 46. And finally blues, 56 value. And just like that, I suddenly have a cube that actually looks more or less like it's starting to belong here. To get the black values to match, I can use a reference that's right in front of there, the bike tire. Now it's a little hard to see until I raise exposure a little bit, maybe zoom in.
I think being that exposure's being raised in this view but not in these. So here I could actually do away with my 4 Views. And just work in here. And again, I'll work with the output values. I can start on blue. And just eye match this time. Green. And red. And when I go back to RGB, that looks pretty good. The test is to copy that levels, and apply it to the original colorful cube.
When I do that I see I've still got some work to do. But I can also see that it's a lot closer, before and after. One thing that'll immediately get it much closer, is to match the shading underneath the original cube. To do that, I've actually plugged in a solid in a pre-comp. And use the Pic Whip to attach it to this expression slider. I happen to know a value of 85 is going to look about right. But I could also slide it up and down to adjust it by eye.
If you don't know how to set up a slider like this, I'll cover that in a separate movie. Overall, you might be shocked at how easily you can get a completely mismatched foreground close to a background scene like this. Practicing this skill will improve your ability as a compositor and develop your sense of how color works, particularly when combined with the accompanying techniques that follow.
This course was created by Mark Christiansen. We're honored to host this training in our library.
- Matching color in black and white
- Matching levels with proportions
- Desaturating with tint
- Creating depth of field
- Reducing or removing grain