Join Richard Harrington for an in-depth discussion in this video The Levels effect, part of Fixing Video Exposure Problems in Premiere Pro CC.
The next effect I want to show you is a classic, particularly if you're used to working with still photos, and that's a levels adjustment. Now, the way the effect behaves inside of a Windows machine is a bit different than a Mac, and it's one of those unusual areas where the user interface differs between versions of Premiere Pro. Let's take a look at this level sequence. I'll press the backslash key to fit everything. And we've got our original shot, which looks pretty good, and our corrected shot, which just has better contrast over all.
With a clip selected, I want you to choose levels. Again, you'll find it under the adjust category. You'll note that it is an accelerated effect, which means that it will benefit the Murphy playback engine and give you more real-time performance. We'll apply that, and take a look at the controls. Now on a Mac or Windows machine, you do have all of these numerical controls. And these controls are a bit intimidating, but essentially you can go after the overall black and white inputs as well as the gamma and the outputs.
Or deal with one channel at a time. I typically find that working with the input values works well. So, for example, I can lift the blacks slightly, and as I drag that, you'll see that more things are mapped to black. So, just pulling that in a bit, say to a value of about 15. Did a nice job of making the blacks a bit darker. Same thing with the white input. This makes it easier to push things to be brighter. And look at the highlights raise up to 100.
I don't want to go too far, but a slight lift there. Looks pretty good. Now, it's simply a matter of playing with the output, and the Gamma. Using the black output, notice how you can lift the blacks if they're too dark. And the entire bottom lifts. In this case, I'm going to leave that at zero. But the brights are a bit high, so I'll knock those down a little bit with the white output. The adjusting the gamma moves the midtones around and you see how you could really change the overall feeling of exposure.
Now, on a windows machine this gets a lot easier if you just click this button here. Which opens up a user interface that may look a bit more familiar, particularly if you're a Photoshop user. Now you could simply pull those sliders in as you see fit and adjust that middle. And then when satisfied, click Ok, and it updates. Remember, because you have individual channel control, you can go after just an individual color. So, for example, I want to move the red gamma slightly.
And note, by adjusting that just a little bit, I could put a reddish cast in or pull it down a bit, which looks a bit better. Same thing, let's go into the blue channel here, and adjust the blue gamma. And you'll notice that we can introduce a slight color cast to the scene. There we go. By adding a bit of blue and subtracting a bit of red. I was able to take that shot, and really change the apparent time of day. You'll also see that the whites and blacks are better under control, and that the levels adjustment is a great way to take control over contrast and exposure.
The thing is that because the levels adjustment is a bit nonintuitive with all of these sliders, or the pop-up user interface. We're going to take this knowledge of how levels works and we'll reinvigorate it later by using the fast color corrector, which has levels built inside.
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- Using the Waveform Monitor
- Toggling effects on and off
- Working with Auto Contrast, Auto Levels, and Auto Color effects
- Using color correction effects to fix exposure and tone
- Controlling noise and grain
- Keyframing effects
- Sending projects to After Effects with Dynamic Link
- Extracting backgrounds with the Roto Brush tool
- Adding a vignette to footage
- Working with raw video
- Legalizing video for broadcast