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TUTORIAL: Grading & Effects: Lighting enhancements

Posted: Thu, 13th May 2004, 11:35am

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Simon K Jones

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Chromanator Tutorials: Grading & Effects

Lighting enhancements

Lighting can often be the crucial factor that either completes a composite or ruins it. When combining several effects with live action, special care has to be taken to match lighting between all the elements, otherwise the seams will become worryingly obvious. Chromanator's grading tools can help to augment the original lighting and blend everything together.

For this example I'll use a relatively simple lightsword scene and demonstrate how Chromanator can be used to enhance the lighting,

The live action plate looks like this:

Using AlamDV, the lightsword effects are easily created and exported on black:

Using the Add composite mode (available in a timeline object's Properties dialog, accessible from its menu), the lightsword can be easily composited onto the live action:

As you can see, the lightsword effects include a clash for when the two blades connect. However, the illusion is somewhat dampened due to the clash failing to cast any light on the surroundings. This is where the grading tools become useful.

First I place another copy of the live action clip between the lightsword effects and the main clip:

The second clip will be where we provide the lighting enhancements. If I were changing the lighting of the whole shot I could just do it to the original clip, of course. But for this example I'll be a little more specific.

I need to alter the second clip's lighting, so I select it and switch to the Object View, then go to the Grading toolset.

The obvious choice is to use the brightness tool, but this tends to wash-out the picture and lack impact:

Instead, I want to use the Super Contrast tool, which enables close manipulation of the light and dark areas of the image.

  • Raising the black point darkens the shadowy areas of the shot.
  • Lowering the white point brightens the light areas of the shot.

By lowering the white point to 147 and raising the black to 42, a very dramatic increase in light can be achieved, whilst retaining and deepening the shadows:

However, in this instance I don't want the lighting to effect the entire set, so I'll add a quick garbage matte:

The garbage matte is carefully drawn in a shape to highlight the areas that should be illuminated by the lightsword clash.

  • The garbage matte needs to be inverted, so that everything except the selected area is removed.

As there is an identical clip directly underneath, the areas removed by the garbage matte will still appear to be there, whilst the middle clip contains the graded version. This is the result:

As you can see, the three clips are composited together so that it appears that the live action clip has a bright area in the middle. Of course, the bright area still has a rather obvious edge.

  • Adding a feather of 60 to the garbage matte blurs the edges, giving a natural appearance to the artificial lighting.

Compared to the original composite, this version is far more dynamic and convincing, creating the illusion that the lightswords are actively affecting the surrounding lighting.

Click here to watch the clip in action.

Last edited Thu, 13th May 2004, 3:36pm; edited 2 times in total.

Posted: Thu, 13th May 2004, 12:34pm

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er-no

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Really simple yet really effective.

Superb tutorial, made sense to me smile
Posted: Thu, 13th May 2004, 10:41pm

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averagejoe

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Most interesting indeed. Methinks this might work for Muzzle flashes too...
HMMMMmmmm...

Especially if the muzzle flash is not in front of the camera. Like lets say the gun goes off between two poeple. ANd one of those people has his back to the cam. Then you could use this method to light up everything in front of him to simulate the flash. While his back is still shadowed by the blast. Opens the door to some really endless uses.

So far all the the new tutes have been great! Tarn, you do a great job showing the versatility of Chromie. This is going to be a really useful tool for those people that think "out-of the box" if you will. Cool stuff man! biggrin
Posted: Fri, 14th May 2004, 12:29am

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Axeman

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Good stuff, good stuff.

Another point to keep in mind is that if the light source has a color cast to it, you can adjust the hue of the clip to match the light cast by the effect or whatever. If you add a fuel explosion, for example, the light it throws about is invariably red. To sell the effect, the surroundings will have to recieve a red cast.
Posted: Fri, 14th May 2004, 7:10am

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Andreas

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that worked really good! brings the lightsword to more "natural" look.
Posted: Tue, 18th May 2004, 9:03pm

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Pooky

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Ooooo AlamDV3 Lightsabers! biggrin
Posted: Tue, 18th May 2004, 9:08pm

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Brettsta

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will you be able to do that directly in adv 3?
Posted: Tue, 18th May 2004, 9:55pm

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Simon K Jones

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Those are actually just AlamDV2 lightsabers, hence the old-style clash.

AlamDV3 won't be able to affect footage directly like this. However, the clashes themselves will be a lot more impressive to begin with.
Posted: Wed, 19th May 2004, 12:20am

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Pooky

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biggrin I would have thought you would use AlamDV3 for the Trailer, no?
Posted: Wed, 19th May 2004, 12:36am

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Evman

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pooky wrote:

biggrin I would have thought you would use AlamDV3 for the Trailer, no?
He probably doesn't want to reveal ADV3 sabers yet. We will see them soon enough next week....

*mouth waters in anticipation...
Posted: Wed, 19th May 2004, 1:10am

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Aculag

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evman101 wrote:

We will see them soon enough next week....
Next week?
Posted: Wed, 19th May 2004, 1:11am

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Evman

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ummm..... check the news... They are doing a spotlight on ADV3 lightswords early next week.
Posted: Wed, 19th May 2004, 1:20am

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Aculag

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*checks the news*

I see... Sounds good.
Posted: Wed, 19th May 2004, 9:45am

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Simon K Jones

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Pooky - yep, you're right. For the promo video itself, it'll use AlamDV3 effects.
Posted: Wed, 4th May 2005, 6:08am

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hatsoff2halford

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I'm confused because every time I use the "Super Contrast" my changes to it don't show up in the temp render or render. I thought that Super Contrast only worked for when you were keying something.

After I add it, I click project from the keying tab and it renders, but my changes aren't there.
I really need help...So if you can that would be great.

-Logan
Posted: Wed, 4th May 2005, 6:43am

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Simon K Jones

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You need to use the Super Contrast from the Grading toolset, not from the Key Grading toolset.
Posted: Wed, 4th May 2005, 9:50pm

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BlueSmudge

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There is no super contrast in the grading toolset. Only regular contrast.
Posted: Fri, 20th May 2005, 10:24am

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mattgray

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Yes there is. Use the scroll bar on the right of the grading tools and Super Contrast is at the bottom
Posted: Tue, 31st May 2005, 5:35pm

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robosays21

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but how do you do it so the light is there for only 2 frames?
cause everytime i do it its light the whole entire scene.
Posted: Wed, 1st Jun 2005, 9:22am

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Cogz

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Apply the effect to the clip "super contrast" in this case i think.

Don't touch any of the sliders, so it remains at default. In the timeline you notice a keyframe at the beginning of the clip now, this is holding the current "default" settings.

You just need to copy this keyframe, and paste it in the frame just BEFORE you want the effect to take place. NOW move to the frame you want the effect to take place, and adjust the sliders in the grading effect.

For it to only happen to the two frames, you will need to copy the keyframe you changed, into the end position, then copy the default keyframe on the frame AFTER that. I'm sure this makes no sence, so I will try to visually represent it

D = default settings
C = changed settings
- = empty keyframe (nothing is in it)

D----------------DCCD------------------
Posted: Wed, 1st Jun 2005, 2:00pm

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jotoki

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is it possible to create a similar effect but with a differnt coloured light. For example the particles used in a recent Dr Who episode lit up the person they surrounded at the time with an light orange glow. On set they used lights, orange gels and dimmers to create this effect. Could a similar effect be created using chromanator (or effectslab) to add say orange lighting to a clip first before adding the particles. Obviously the same masking technique as the tutorial applies to this as it will light only an area of the frame but can it be done ?

Just wanted to avoid trying to set up lights n dimmers n stuff
Posted: Wed, 1st Jun 2005, 2:03pm

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Simon K Jones

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Yes - simply import a coloured still image (blue, for example), place it on your top layer and then mask it appropriately, and add transparency. I tried this in a lightsaber fight once, with a blue lightsaber illuminating the person entirely blue and the red saber lighting up the bad guy entirely in red - it worked really well, although it was slightly OTT (looked kinda like the sequence near the end of the 2nd season of Clone Wars, when Anakin is fighting the sith girl in the dark temple). smile
Posted: Wed, 1st Jun 2005, 2:47pm

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jotoki

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Yes of course I really must get into a better mindset on this. I'll work this stuff out one day lol Thanks for the help once again oh great and knowledgable Tarn
Posted: Wed, 1st Jun 2005, 5:40pm

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Simon K Jones

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Oh, one other nifty thing is that you can use the hue shift wheel to change the colour of the overlay if necessary. Can be quicker than having to make several different coloured cards.

Last edited Fri, 17th Jun 2005, 10:57am; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Fri, 17th Jun 2005, 10:56am

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jotoki

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sorry i'm going back to thisafter so long but i'm just about to try and apply this technique so i need to get it right. I assume i could use the hue shift and multiple layers to use the same say orange card to layer in a more natural effect creating differening levels and colours in different place. one thing that interests me not i've though about it. Can this hue shift wheel be used to change the effect outlined in the tutorial and make that orange rather than using a solid colour plate ?