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By Chris Meyer |

Enhance your production value at minimal expense

Enhance your production value

We’d all love to work on big-budget video productions where we could shoot any footage we wanted, but in reality many jobs are on small budgets and tight schedules. You may not have the time to get the lighting setup just right, or you have to make do with someone else’s B-roll, or what if you really should have used a tripod or a stabilization rig with that handheld shot? Regardless, your client is expecting you to spin their straw into gold—without hurting the schedule or budget.

We’ve been there, too. That’s why we’ve developed a set of quick-and-easy techniques to enhance the production value of already-shot footage, and distilled them into our latest course, Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects: Enhancing Production Value. These techniques—from tinting footage to change the mood or unify a series of unrelated shots, adding a filmic glow, and simple white balancing to compositing lighting effects shot on black, stabilizing handheld shots, and even changing lighting in already-shot scenes— take only a few minutes to learn and execute, with results ranging from subtle to dramatic.

You can perform most of these tasks directly in Adobe Premiere Pro, and some require dynamic linking into After Effects for more advanced processing. The core to many of them is mastering Blend modes: alternatives to simple opacity for mixing one clip on top of another. Depending on which mode you choose, and with the careful application of standard effects, you can quickly drop out black, make white transparent, alter the color, add a glow, enhance saturation and contrast, and add animated lighting effects.

We start the course by demonstrating how to apply modes; in Premiere Pro, you’ll find them in the Effect Controls panel under the Opacity section. Next, we explain what each family does, so you don’t need to take time individually picking modes from a long list. Cheat sheet: Start with Add or Screen when footage is shot against black, Multiply when its shot against white, and Overlay for colorful shots, or explore other modes for variations.

By the end of the course, you’ll be using 3D lights in After Effects to change the highlights and shadows in already-shot video (hint: this involves mastering the Material Options for a clip). You’ll also learn how to extract more out of the Warp Stabilizer and Rolling Shutter Repair effects, and get some ideas for shooting your own library of lighting clips to enhance other shots.

Master these techniques and be a hero to your clients for making a big-budget video production on a small budget—it’s that kind of sorcery that keeps them coming back.

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