Join Chris Meyer for an in-depth discussion in this video Selecting candidates, part of After Effects: Lighting Effects in Post.
Before working through specific examples, let's get an idea of what may make a great lighting clip. This is a very good example, soft and out of focus. The movement in it is relatively slow. These two things mean that it won't be distracting. It'll just be a subtle enhancement. It's grayscale, which means it won't shift the color of the underlying layer. But you can still see some animated light and dark areas. This is what will give us our animated lighting effect when applied on top of another clip. This clip is another good example. Even though it's predominantly black, we can choose a mode that will make these white areas just added highlights on top of the clip we apply it to.
You can think of these areas as light streaming through trees or through a window onto the background of the scene. Again it's out of focus, it moves slowly, but you still have noticeable animation between light and dark areas. Something that does not work quite as well is something like this clip. Now this clip is beautiful in its own right, but the relatively fast animation, the sharp lines, these are going to all end up being just too distracting when applied on top of another clip. Now, there are things we can do to a clip like this. For example we can blur it out.
But in general, this is not as good of a starting point. It's going to take attention away from the clip we are trying to enhance. I've mentioned that grayscale clips are good because they don't shift the color of the underlying clip. But sometimes colored lights can also be very useful. For example, this is a beautiful clip to use for lighting. Again it's out of focus, it moves slowly, it's not distracting, but it does have noticeable animation between bright areas and darker areas. This will give us our animated lighting effect. The blue tone may enhance some clips. If it's not appropriate for a clip, you can always shift its Hue. Here's another useful clip. Again, out of focus, slow, it does have a little bit more color in it. It does have a strong vertical orientation, but if we have a clip that's composed in a vertical fashion, this will end up enhancing the underlying clip.
Something that does not work very well is a clip like this. Again, fast movement, sharper lines, it's just going to end up being distracting. What we want to do is enhance the clip underneath. We don't want this to become a graphical element in its own right.
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