No matter what non-linear editing software you use, blending modes can take the look of your footage to the next level. How do you use a blending mode on your footage? What are the differences between each blending mode? In this movie, author Jeff Greenberg demonstrates how to use blending modes in Apple Final Cut Pro X.
- I've found the best way to think and decode blending modes is to start with a timeline that has some representative variation of footage. That's a really fancy way to say take a look at my screen and I've got this piano player who's pretty light and a singer who's pretty dark and I've got some footage built on top of it and I just want to call out some features of it before we start decoding it and the first thing I want to show you is here I happen to have my major colors along with a gradient ramp. I have one of my bokehs and I happen to have here a shot similar to the shot underneath.
You may not know this about Final Cut 10, if you click on a clip and you hit the letter V it turns off it's visibility, you can see the difference in those two clips. There's another really cool feature here under the view menu called "clip skimming" that I want to turn on. Now when I take my playhead and I'm above, I see the result but if I go down into a clip I can see that individual element. This makes it really easy for me to go and look at the composite. All right, now that you see how my timeline's set up let's start talking about how my magic decoder ring works and I want to start with the weakest part of it.
The actual Final Cut Help file does very little to talk about actual composition settings but they're here, they're called blend modes. I'm gonna close that up. Down load the "Motion Manual" and you get a much better in-depth view of these so what I want to give you is my magic decoder ring and to do that I'm gonna start off here by placing just on this first clip, I'm just gonna move my playhead here, option click, there we go. I'm gonna bring open my inspector, that's a command + 4. And here are my blending modes, so secret number one, they're broken into really easy to digest groups.
Everything in this top group will make the items interact in a darker manner and everything in this group does a lighter manner and everything in this group is sort of a go back and forth and I'm gonna start with the brighter manner and the word Add. Add literally adds the RGB values together so it's going to make everything brighter. It's the most simple mathematics you can imagine. Let's just scrub through it, let's just grab all three of these, let's take all three of them and turn on Add on all three and so this way when we scrub through it we can see that bokeh interaction, the shot on top of itself, that's a really cool looking sort of ghosting look.
The only problem with Add is you can quickly get the shot to be too bright. Screen is friendlier version. If you really want the math it happens to be RGB values added together divided by, one divided by the other. It's not the math that's important it's that the look is Screen is just little bit more gentler version of Add. Lighten says, "Give me the lighter color values." Color Dodge says, "Dodge these colors with the way they interact." And Linear Dodge does it in a more linear fashion. They are in order from the most common choice to the least common choice.
For example I'll go to Add or Screen, in fact Screen I'd really like to be at the top of the list before I probably every come to the color dodges. Those become the experimental choices but it's just this idea, let's do Color Dodge and scrub through these. You can see it's too strong on this and it's doing almost nothing here but when I come to that middle shot, let's just take that and just back off that Color Dodge a little. There we go, there we can see that Color Dodge coming into play. We're just dodging the colors of where they interact. That's my lighter category.
Let's go down to this section, let's work on darkers. I'm going to select all three, I'm gonna again hold down my option key when I come down here. Option, click moving my playhead and I'm going to take these and I'm gonna switch them to Subtract. And where additive added them together, subtractive subtracts them. You'll see that grading becomes much blacker, the white almost has no interaction at all, the darker ones have greater influence with subtract. Let's see what the other two look like. You can see everything has become darker. Let's go back and select them again and let's pick multiply.
Multiply will be another favorite. It's a little too strong with these last two shots, especially the one with the bokeh. I'm gonna end up pulling it just way down. That happens to be a 4K shot, I should probably make it a little bit larger. You can see the edges peek out of the bottom and top of the screen. I'm okay about that but a great way if you ever wanna change it would be to come down here, switch to your transform and just scale it up a little bit. There we go, we don't see the edges anymore, I'll say done. Let's put it's opacity back so you can see it. But that's what it's doing with Multiply.
Darken, for example, refers to color values not brightness. It's sort of a theme for me it's always I start with Screen and Multiply over anything else knowing the other's tend to be just a little bit too strong. The second item here, my favorite blend mode, the one everybody's favorite blend mode, is always going to be the same. Everybody's favorite blend mode is Overlay. Now where Add made things brighter.... where Subtract made things darker....
Overlay kind of does both. It says, "Anything that is above 50 percent brightness do Screen, anything below 50 percent brightness, do Multiply." So when I choose Overlay here, I get this really nice interaction that's magic. I'm just gonna slide down my timeline for a second. I happen to have a piece of text here, everybody's favorite thing to do with text, everybody on the planet, is to go to the video tab, go here, and with white text, Overlay is just like magic.
It just looks gorgeous and it's how they get that sort of burnt-in look there. We're gonna come back to that in a second though. I'm gonna see what the other one's look like with Overlay because they do end up looking gorgeous. It's got that really nice interaction. I'm gonna come here to this shot and I'm gonna choose Overlay again. Now Overlay may end up being too strong. A lighter version of Overlay is Soft Light. A harder version of Overlay is Hard Light.
It pushes SATS more. And as you play through these lists knowing that these are brighter, these are darker, these are a mix, don't forget that at any time that you want you could play with the opacity to just make it a little bit more gentle of an interaction between the layers. Coming down to my last group I'm gonna have here this shot which we left at Overlay. Just the other categories here, the difference in exclusion, we're gonna save difference to the next section but it's between a difference of pixels.
But I want to look into the words Stencil and Silhouette. Stencil is the idea that we're gonna cut out the stuff underneath and you can see I know have video inside of the text that way. Silhouette is the opposite of that. It literally is the opposite, it's say take this object and say get rid of what's on the inside, keep everything else. I'm gonna say Silhouette Alpha. Right here won't make a difference whether you choose alpha or luma, we'll talk about that in a section dedicated to it. I'm gonna choose Silhouette alpha and you'll see we now have the text removed and we have everything sort of an invert of the two.
We're not going to in this class talk about alpha add or pre multiply mix, they're really specialized versions that come from motion, come from motion's need for interaction of alpha channels and dealing with pre-multiplication. But that's kind of my magic decoder ring. Lighter. Darker. In between with my favorite being Overlay or Screen and it's almost always where I start when it comes to the idea of transfer modes.
- How do blending modes work?
- Getting best performance from FCP X
- Overlay text
- Knocking out white
- Revealing elements
- Correcting color
- Creating day for night
- Using luma key for partial selections
- Creating alpha effects
- Using third-party flickers and grunge