- View Offline
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
Okay, now let's move to some clips that are already pretty good, but we want to enhance them even further. This shot of a businesswoman, turning around, taking off her glasses slowly, was again well shot. Someone has a nice out of focus background, they have very moody lighting on her, but the lighting doesn't change over the course of the shot and she is a little bit in shadow, and it could be even better. So let's make it even better. Let's try this clip to start off with. Again, this is a nice cloudy clip, bluish in color, which compliments the blue of the original clip, nice subtle lighting effects. I'll start off with Overlay, which is my favorite mode to start with.
There is Overlay mode. I'll RAM preview and you can see how much more interesting this is. Rather than having constant lighting in the background, we now have a constantly moving sea of light in the background. It adds more interest to this shot and just makes it more interesting to view. Let's try another one. This is another example something it has some motion in it, very water like. However, I want you to notice that the framing is a bit balanced off to the right side here. It's bright on the right, it's darker in the upper left, but our original shot is very centered.
And again, this is where selecting clips is important. I'll again apply this Overlay mode, I'll RAM preview, and this doesn't work as well. It overly darkens the whole image, it's more interesting in those right corner, and just kind of takes attention away from her and puts it down here in this background. That's not what you want; you want the focus to be on her. So picking a clip that compliments your underlying footage is very important. Now this clip from the Artbeats Dreamlight collection has a nice set of rays coming down from the top and you see they have a nice bit of animation to them.
Let's try this one out. Again I tend to start with Overlay mode, but you can always experiment with different modes later, and let's RAM preview this. Now you can see where this adds some real nice animation playing across the scene. Our Dreamlights clip is bright across the top, just like our original clip, which is brighter across the top. The rays coming down help enhance the way the woman is being framed with these vertical bars on either side of her and a verticalness of her head and her neck. That is a nice addition to the clip.
Again, you might find a bit on the dark side. So you can try other modes. You can try something like Add, which might be a bit too bright, Screen, which knocks her down a little bit, or Color Dodge, which starts to add some interesting color shifts to the scene. Now this looks really nice because it blows out the top and just adds some nice filmic overblown atmosphere to the whole scene. Let's RAM preview and now we have a clip that looks a lot more interesting. This would have been difficult to light on the set this way, but it looks really nice to do in post. Now all it took was one more clip applied with a blending mode. The trick is selecting the right clip.
Let's look at another shot we can proof. Here is a shot of some gears, a full industrial shot. And again, some efforts have been made to make the shot more interesting. It does have nice sliding, it does have nice shadows, but nothing is changing during the course of the shot. Light stays the same; the shadow pretty much stays the same. Let's enhance it to add some movement across the scene. Let's try a clip such as this soft edges one. Again, here is something that is very soft, doesn't have a lot of movement on it, but it is noticeable, light areas, dark areas, out of focus. When something is particularly bright like that, I may start with something like a Darken or a Multiply mode. But even more fun is a color shifter like Color Burn mode. Now that's really helped enhance the colors of the scene. You can back it off the Opacity if I want. There is the original; there is the fully increased shot. I'll pick something in the middle there like about there. Now I'll just RAM preview.
Now you notice that shadow is actually playing across the scene. For example, the center gear starts out dark then emerges into light towards the end of the clip. You'll see some light and dark moving across here. It just adds more interest to the scene than the original untreated footage, which had no movement to the light. Let's try another clip. This is nice strong gold image, kind of compliments the red of the underlying footage. This is what it looks like in motion. Again soft, amorphous, kind of like some sparkly lights coming on and off.
Let's start off with something like Overlay mode. And again, these colors now add a lot of richness to the color of the underlying scene. Let's go ahead and RAM preview to full strength and you can see those sparklets in the lighting footage is now creating light play across the top and bottom metal work. But it also is changing the lighting on some of the gears. It's just something makes the scene more interesting. Now if it's too strong, back off this Opacity. Pick something in between or try different mode. Soft Light is a lot less severe for example. RAM preview.
Now this looks more like light that was just happening naturally on the set, rather than the special effect we've added on the top of this footage. Let's try another one. Now here is something that has a very different color. It's blue rather than the red of the footage. Again, selecting these clips is important. I'll start out on Overlay mode. Now I've got certain coldness to these gears and also some color shift. I've got some golds, I've some violet blues, I've some reds. Let's go ahead and RAM preview it. Even though the movement in the clip is very nice, and has nice lighting effects, the color is just aren't working with the underlying clip.
Now you can improve the color, but it's sometimes easier just to pick a clip that enhances the footage right out of the gate. That's why we have a library of clips like this that we can pull on quickly during the course of a job. Okay, let's move on to shots that are already really cool and now we want to make them even cooler. We've gone from boring, to okay, to hot, but now we are going to make them hotter. This is a nicely range shot of a trumpet player. Let's go ahead and add some light into the scene, because again, you can see his face is constantly in shadow, the trumpet has constant light across it here, let's make it move.
The first clip I'm going to try is this nice lighting layer. Now you remember we've rejected this lighting layer earlier for the businesswoman because there was bright in this corner, dark in this corner, had a diagonal arrangement. It was not appropriate for the woman, but you remember our trumpeter does have a composition that is diagonal. So we can go ahead and play around with it in this context. I'll turn it on. I'll start with Overlay mode, but in this case, it kind of darkened up to the whole scene that's already dark to begin with. So instead, I'll pick a brightening mode, something in the Add family.
Screen, or my favorite out of this family, Color Dodge. Now we have enhanced colors going on in the scene without really being noticeable as a graphic. Let's RAM preview and now you see we've got some light play across his jacket, across his neck, color is varying across the trumpet rather than just being constant. If you think that's not doing anything, I'll turn it off and now you remember what the original clip was like. Again with these lighting effects, I'm going for subtle not glaring, something that enhances the underlying footage. Now in this case, this clip was brighter on the corner, darker up here, but the underlying footage really had more of a focus on the hand.
In this case, I might go ahead and say rotate it at 180 degrees. Now I've got bright highlights in the corner, shadows down here where his jacket is. I'll RAM preview, and now I've got much more focus pulled down to his hand rather than on his neck and on his jacket. Again, the clip is important. Let's try another lighting clip. This is back to the nice gold clip, lot of interesting movement, little sparkley highlights again. I'll start out in Overlay mode, and the gold of the lighting clip really enriches the gold of the trumpet and the reddish tones of his hands.
RAM preview and now I've got something really interesting going on with light play around his jacket, little bit off of his face, little bit off of his hand, it just is a richer scene with some animation to it, rather than even lighting. Let's do one more example something we want to hype up. This is a nicely shot example of a woman working out. Already has kind of a nice soft abstracted gold background. The lighting is good on the scene, but we could punch it up more. So let's go ahead and do it. Here is a potential lighting layer. It has gold tones that might enhance the gold tone to the original footage. The animation in it is a bit faster, a little faster than I might use for something like the office shots, but since our original clip does have more movement in it, like a camera pan and a woman moving, I think a faster lighting layer may be appropriate.
We'll start off with Overlay mode, RAM preview, and now you see that what was a solid background now becomes an interesting animated background. Moving to this at the top here. Now that has a lot of punch to it. It may be too interesting and too exciting. So I might pick a mode that's a little more subtle. Soft Light is a more subtle mode for example and I'll RAM preview. That's a little bit less noticeable, and now it's more like an interesting lens effects, lighting effects going on in the scene. So I'll give you some ideas of ways of enhancing footage by adding these so-called lighting layers.
Again, something is fast and sharp may not work. You better off with things that have slow, subtle moment to them and are out of focus.
Sign up for a Premium Membership to download courses for Internet-free viewing.
Watch offline with your iOS, Android, or desktop app.Start Your Free Trial
After signing up, download the course here or from the iOS/Android App.