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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
Let's go ahead and pick a few shots that are basically good and see if we can further improve upon them. Like here is a nicely composed shot of a businesswoman turning around and looking at the camera. She's nicely framed, she has interesting and blurred up background behind her, she's a silhouette, she's taking off her glasses. This was basically a good idea. However, I don't see any animation happening with this light. She is perhaps little bit underlit. It could be easy to overlook this scene or just not get too excited about it. So let's try adding some lighting to it.
My first attempt is going to be a lighting layer such as this. I love soft, amorphous, slow moving layers like this. Just perfect for adding dancing light to a scene. So I'll select it and try our first call such as Overlay mode. And now you see we've got animated swimming lights in the background rather than a very constant background light. So it already is an improvement. Now it is basically a dark layer. So I'm going to try Color Dodge, instead of Overlay to see how that works. Now that's also an interesting layer. It brightens the whole shot a little bit. And again I've just got some animation and some movement going on in this background. The plain background had no movement going on and it was easy for me to lose interest in the shot, to be honest.
Turn it back on and turn it off. Okay, let's try some other ideas. Not all amorphous layers work. This is another basically nice background layer. It's soft, it's slow moving, has moving highlights. But notice the composition. It's sort of a diagonal composition. It's bright in the lower right; it's dark in the upper left. But meanwhile, our businesswoman has a very vertical composition. She is the center pillar and there's two bright pillars on either side.
So the lighting layer is not really composed the same as this underlying layer. When I turn it on and put it on something like Overlay mode, you'll see that basically the layers are fighting each other. She's lost some illumination. The really interesting things are happening down here in the lower right, which was the most interesting area, the lighting layer. It's pulling my attention away from her and putting it down in this corner. I can try other modes, such as again, Color Dodge. It does add some illumination back but again I'm getting distracted in to this area. I'm not supposed to be looking here. I'm supposed to be looking here at this woman. So that's an idea of a clip that doesn't really work that well.
Let's try something else. Here is a really fun clip from the Dreamlight collection by Artbeats that has streams of light coming down from the top of the frame. That has more potential because this has a vertical orientation and my main footage has a vertical orientation. My main footage is bright along the top, showing us where the light source is. My lighting footage is coming from the top, showing me that's where the light source is. Good combination. Just go ahead and pick my lighting layer. It's basically lights against a black background, so let's go ahead and use something like Add mode. And now you see we've added a lot of very bright, almost angelic lights to this scene. And go ahead and pull the Opacity down to blend it in more subtly. Now I just have a little bit of light play going on, little more atmospheric rather than just the ordinary scene.
Or again I can try something like Color Dodge mode. Increase the effect. Now I've got some nice colored lights playing across the scene, but I'm not distracting from the center focal point, the businesswoman. That's what we're supposed to be looking at, not the lights. So this is a lighting layer that does indeed enhance this piece of footage. Let's move from the human to something fairly industrial, like gears. Let's play this one. Again, for an industrial shot this is actually very well done.
You got nice highlights in the front of the gears, nice dark shadows behind the gears, you've done a nice job framing this. But there's not a lot going on. Yes, the gears are moving and yes, the gears have shadows, but I've got solid black areas in here and the gears have very even lights across their faces and across the metal on the top and bottom. We can add some excitement to this layer. So let's try a few different lighting layers. One idea might be something like this. It's nice and soft and amorphous. Its color tone also is roughly the same as the gears. So this is perhaps a good starting point. I'll select it and try a few different modes.
For example, Overlay is my classic starting point. And now you see, particularly if you look through these center gears, some lightness going into shadows as the clip goes on. Very subtle effect but it's more interesting than just having the same lighting during the entire course of the shot. Now this is a very bright layer. So I might try something again up in the Multiply area, which darkens the overall image, or something like Color Burn, which is a more exciting sort of a treatment in this area. Now you see I'm going for a more saturated color. I've got basically the same composition that I had before but I've got some animation and the lights across top and bottom.
I've got some subtle color shifts going on here. This is a more interesting shot. If I find this to be too strong, I'll just back off the Opacity and blend it in more lightly to taste so there's a more subtle lighting effect compared to a full strength effect. Turn that off and try something else. This background is much more strong. It has a much stronger color, more saturated, more movement, it's a lot more obvious. So let's see how this one works. I'll go ahead and try it in Overlay mode and you'll see it's added a very rich color to this scene. Since, this is basically in the red-orange realm just like the original underlying source was, the colors work together pretty well.
But I've got some animation going on. There's some light playing across the top and bottom metals and across the gear faces themselves. Again, if that's too much, I can try something like Soft Light or I could try reducing the Opacity to reduce the effect. We'll also discuss altering the color of your lighting clips in a later movie. Now I'll show again something that does not work so well. This is a fun interesting background. It's got lot of very interesting motion. It does have some peaches and oranges that kind of work in the background. But it's predominantly blue and turquoise where my underlying layer was predominantly kind of a rusty or watermelon red.
When I try this layer in something like Overlay mode, you see that the colors kind of fight. I've got this strange turquoise mixed in against my red. I've got some blues and greens and purples playing across the scene. This lighting layer does not work as well. But again if we really like the motion, we just don't like the color, we can alter the color of that lighting layer. Let's say that our footage actually looks pretty darn good and we just want to add even more excitement and more hype to it. Now here is a nicely composed shot of a person playing a trumpet. Very strong diagonal composition to it, strong spectral highlights off of the metal trumpet, fun lighting going on and shadows going on his hand, good shot to begin with. But his face is pretty consistent here, the lighting going against the tube of the trumpet is also pretty consistent. So let's try some lighting layers.
Now this has a diagonal composition. So for a lighting layer we may indeed want something that has a diagonal composition as well. This is the layer we rejected on the businesswoman but because of this composition it might work better with the trumpet player. So let's give it a shot. I'll select it and put it in a mode such as say Overlay to start with. Overlay tends to both darken and brighten something. It's maybe added too strong of a shadow in this case. So instead I'll pick something that basically lightens like Add, Screen, or Color Dodge modes. Now it's going to add just more interesting color highlights on his jacket, across his face and cheeks. Just add some coloration onto the tube of the trumpet. But it is not too distracting.
The lighting does not become a hero; it just becomes an enhancement. Now we do have a case here where his jacket's getting some interesting colors. His hands aren't really all that affected, and that's because this layer is more interesting in the lower right than it is in the upper left. Well, in that case we might want to rotate it to put the most interesting part of our lighting on the most interesting part of our underlying shot. So I'm going to select this layer, open up its Inspector, rotate it 180 degrees so now that I have got my bright area up in the upper left. And then go ahead and apply a mode such as Color Dodge. Now you see that I got lighting and animation and color going on in his hand, which is my focal point to start with, and I don't have any extra light going on in his jacket and the other background out of focus parts of the scene. My lighting is enhancing where I'm supposed to be looking at. And that's the whole idea.
Okay, let's try something else. Here is that bright orange layer that we played with earlier, very intense. And the colors in it might enhance the colors of the metal in the trumpet. It's not too far from skin tone. So we select it and we'll pick a mode such as say Overlay. Now you see we've got a very intense, very rich orange scene, we have got light playing across his shirt, light playing a little bit across his cheeks and face. It's enhancing the mood lighting of the shot. I mean this is just a trumpet player with a spotlight on him. This is the trumpet player out of a really cool dream. And if it's too strong, Soft Light is a less severe version of the mode. Or back off the Opacity to vary just how strong our lighting effect is.
Finally, I'll show one more well-lit scene that we're going to try to enhance even further. Here's a woman working out. A good job is already been done with the lighting. The background wall is out of focus and indistinct, there is nice highlights, good lighting on her, orange tone or filter on the whole scene. As we play through, it's a strong vertical composition as we go from her head down to her feet. Basically a very good scene. Let's see if we can enhance it any further with lighting. So again let's select some different lighting layers. Here's a layer that has lots of fun lights chasing around and basically has the same color range as our background.
Now normally I might say that this layer is on the very edge of what might work for lighting layer because it does have a lot of motion in it, a lot of activity but so does our underlying footage. So maybe the action in two will be a match. Again we'll pick something like Overlay mode, see how this works. Now we have some very interesting bright animated lights going on across the background. These are too strong and again I'm really seeing the light pattern on her legs. I'll pick something like Soft Light mode, which makes it less obvious. Or back off the Opacity. So it's just Highlights and it comes across as specular and lens flares rather than a strange layer being multiplied on top of original footage.
This is nice now. This is a nice subtle enhancement and just adds even more to this already interesting shot.