Join Richard Harrington for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating a high-contrast look, part of Premiere Pro Guru: Blending Mode Secrets.
A high contrast look is a popular look for commercials and music videos. It essentially, really boosts the contrast in the image, often also reducing saturation along the way. There are lots of recipes out there, but I'd like to show you one of my favorite. Here's the original footage, and by combining multiple layers together, I've built up a pretty cool effect. It's starts with the initial base layer. Then, a duplicate copy is used. I like to use the Calculations Effect and Opacity.
If you take a look at Calculations, this is a fun effect. In this case, I took the grey channel, and combined it with the red channel. Channels are the components of color. And with a video file, you're dealing with red, green and blue. You can actually see these in Premiere Pro. In this case, I've taken the red channel. And layered it with the grey scale image. You'll see here if I choose different options, you get different looks.
And in this case, because I'm dealing with skin tones, layering in the red channel works very well. And by choosing a method like Hard Light, it really punches up the contrast. So, this has given me a great black and white image. Beyond that, a luma curve allows me to push the contrast even further. And I applied a bit of an S curve. Lifting the highlights, and lowering the shadows. You can see as you pull that, how it effects the blacks in the image and the white point as well.
And that gives you a really high contrast image. Once you've got that high contrast black and white, the Opacity adjustment works really well. Particularly something like the Multiply Blending Mode. At this point it looks really muddy, and that's okay. I was going for strong contrast, and lots of texture in the skin tones. Next, I'll add in another copy of the image. In this case, just making a simple black and white adjustment. And using the Screen Blending Mode. By combining a black and white version of the image, on top of the high contrast one, we're left with really clean blacks, but a lot of the lost detail is brought back into the highlights of the skin tones and the mid tones.
Finally, an adjustment layer finishes it off. Using your Fast Color Corrector, it's very easy to refine the levels for the shot, finding a proper balance for the overall exposure, between the shadows and details like the eyes. And then finesse the saturation. A lot of people will use a reduced saturation look like this. Or even a high saturation look. It's ultimately up to you to decide what's right for your particular production. You'll notice, though, that it plays in real time, giving us a very high contrast look that's popular for commercial production.
- Identifying blend modes
- Using blend modes in files from After Effects and Photoshop
- Color correcting with blend modes
- Softening skin
- Hiding noise and grain
- Creating high-contrast or cartoon looks
- Relighting a shot with blend modes