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Motion: Adding Lighting Effects in Post demonstrates how to use any version of Motion 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.
- Selecting the right footage for the right lighting effects Transforming images with lighting and color correction Using vignetting to set the scene Adjusting blur for a subtle change
Skill Level Intermediate
Before we start playing with specific examples, let's get a general idea of what makes a good lighting layer. On this piece of footage, from the Artbeats Soft Edges Library, is what I consider to be a perfect candidate for a lighting layer. It's soft and out-of-focus. The motion is relatively slow. This means that these objects will not draw the viewer's attention away from the object that it's being applied to. It's grayscale, which means it's not going to shift the color of the underlying layer, but it still has very noticeable movement, animation, in light areas to dark areas. This can be our light and our shadows. So I think this is a great candidate.
Another good layer is something like this one. That's primarily dark, but we can go ahead and choose a blend mode to make just these bright areas add light to the underlying layer as if it's light is streaming through a window or the leaves of a tree. Here is another candidate. It's not strictly black and white, but that's okay. We can choose colors to complement our underlying footage. We'll be talking about that a lot more later on. It still is very soft and out-of-focus and so has nice, slow motion and still has animation in bright to dark areas.
Now by contrast, here's a layer that may not work as well. It's a beautiful layer. I love how it looks. But it has very fast motion and has very sharp lines, and one has to be concerned then that this sharpness in detail of movement is going to distract the viewer from the underlying footage. The idea of this technique is that it's a subtle enhancement, not that it's a graphic element in its own right. Black and white layers make excellent lighting movies, but you can also use color movies, especially if they complement the underlying footage.
This is another example of what I consider to be a beautiful lighting layer, soft, out-of-focus, animating brights and darks. It has a blue tint. We'll either have to pair it up with footage that has its own blue tint or shift the hue of this shot. Another candidate would be something like this. Notice that this one has a strong, vertical orientation. So if I have an underlying clip that has strong verticals in it, this light pattern may help complement that clip. Again, it's soft and out-of-focus. It does have a few more colors though, blues and green.
By contrast, something that's not going to work as well is this movie. It's fast, it's sharp, it has some details in it. Overall, I'm concerned that this would be distracting and again, the lighting is supposed to be an enhancement, an addition, not a distraction, not a new graphical element in its own right. So by now, you should be starting to get an idea for what does or does not make a good lighting clip. What we've done is we've built a large collection of some of our clips over the years that we can then reference quickly during any job.
Some of our favorite collections include the Artbeats Soft Edges, Liquid Ambience and Dreamlight collections, as well as the Liquid Abstracts and Nature Abstracts collections that we actually created for Artbeats. Indeed, if you have access to a camera, you can go ahead and create your own lighting clips. Find a scene that has nicely moving highlights and shadows, shoot it way out-of-focus, bring it into the computer, open it in Motion, slow it down, apply some color correction to give it a unified color scheme and apply other plug-ins such Glows and Blurs to further enhance the shot. Another great thing about Motion is it has a really powerful particle system built-in.
So look through the presets for the different particle systems or learn how to create your own. That way you can make custom lighting footage to go with any shot. Speaking of which, in the next two movies, we're going to show how to pick lighting clips that enhance specific types of footage. So let's get going.