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One of Chris Meyer's favorite tricks is a technique for adding the glowing highlights and richly saturated colors often associated with footage shot on film. This trick originated as a way to compensate for the flatness of unaltered 3D renders, but it can be used to improve any source video, whether shot on DV, HDV, or even film. The effect can be achieved in many video editing and motion graphics applications using the same basic approach: duplicate the source footage, mix it back on top of itself using blend modes, then apply a blur or similar effect to the duplicate footage. In Adding a Filmic Glow to Your Footage Using Motion, Chris explores how to create and fine-tune this effect in Motion.
- Using the heads-up display in Motion
- Applying blend modes
- Puffing out the highlights
- Balancing shadows and highlights
- Using Levels to focus the effect
- Employing other filters, such as Prism and Bloom
Skill Level Intermediate
Now that we have the basic technique done, I would like to show you a couple of variations and ways that you really dial in custom look. Okay we are back in our 3D render here, which has a few nice spectral highlights that we would really like to emphasize. So once again we'll take our footage, duplicate it, put the top one in Add mode and then go ahead and add an effect such as Gaussian Blur again. Okay, as I increase it you can see that I have got quite a bit of blowout going on here. These spectral highlights in Add mode are way too broad and really overwhelming the image.
I can back off on the Opacity but there is a better way of focusing it. If we had some way of deciding to the spectrum of just the highlights, we can decide which colors will get emphasized. In this case, we'll take our copy of the layer that has Add mode applied to it as well as the Blur and add one more effect, in this case Color Correction > Levels and we are going to after the Gamma adjustment in Levels. Now you won't see that in the HUD, so you will need to bring Inspector forward to play around with it. This center slider determines where the mid-gray point is in our spectral highlight layer. As I move it around I can go ahead and really focus on just a few highlights. Instead of having a broad spectrum blown out, I can say hey, just take the highest values and that's what I want blown out.
Now I'll bring Blur back forward, maybe increase the Blur Amount just to get a little more of puffiness involved here. Then go back to Levels and focus it little bit more. There we go, something like that. Original footage, footage with this technique applied just to very focused highlights. And if we decide those highlights are still too bright, then go ahead and just pull back our output white point and just get just a touch of highlights going on here. Again before and after, really nice way of focusing it. And that Blur effect is still useful, notice without it, we are doing just a very harsh edition in those bright highlights. The Blur helps diffuse the highlights and again give them a nice puffy, slightly overexposed film look thereafter. Now the other important thing to know is you don't have to use just the plain old Gaussian Blur; you can use any other effect on that copy on top, as long as it alters the image in some way. So let's go ahead and delete the copy we have been playing with, make another duplicate and play around with some other effects.
Now, for example, in Motion there are other Blur effects. Blur Defocus for example gives a more camera-like blur as opposed to the smooth Gaussian Blur. Something you may not have considered using, something as say Prism. On footage that does not have a blending mode attached, it just makes this kind of smeary prismatic look. But remember take that copy on top; apply it with a mode such as Soft Light. Now we have something quite different going on. As we go ahead and take the Prism and increase its Amount, we are getting this interesting coloration around the edges with this little bit of halo prismatically glowing off of the edge rather than just a pure colorized image. That's with Soft Light. Let's try something else like say Screen mode. Bit hot, let's go ahead and back it down, there we go. Just a little nice prismatic glow around the edges. Something more intense, we can go to Add mode, get more of a highlight.
If that's too much Blur, we can go ahead and drop of the amount of Prism. There we get this nice little reddish halo on one side, blue halo on the other, kind of nice special effect and it's a nice variation on this filmic look. Let's switch back to our wedding couple and try another effect. I'm just going to duplicate it for now, so we can do a little bit of a before and after comparison. I'm going to try something from a different category, such as Glow > Bloom. Now if you say Bloom by itself, you'd go, this isn't all that attractive; it is creating this posterized blue look. It's creating this really blown out white highlights.
You might think initially it is not that useful of an effect. But let's try it in the context of this technique that we have been practicing. We'll select our layer and choose a Blend Mode, such as say Screen. Now the Bloom is much more subtle; it just is getting a little bit of colored glow around the edges rather than completely taking over the footage and again we can blend it down to taste, maybe something around there. Original shot, shot with Bloom and a Blending Mode attached and now you can se we have got a lot more subtle, lot more interesting of a look here.
Again since this is Motion, which can do a lot of things in real time, you can see what the effects look like the context. So now you know how to create this nice filmic glow in Apple Motion. It is one of our favorite techniques. It is particularly useful when we get a shot from the client that is not particularly exciting. It can give a real high production value look to almost anything. Hope you're able to use it in your work as well!