I’m taking a breather from the next installment of eCommerce talk. Not that discussing the glories of PunchOut catalogs and on line supplier services isn’t hoot – but I needed to add a little color so I
grabbed a bit of video I had lying around and I did just that. If you take a gander at the clip here ther’s a couple tricks that are pretty easy to create some very dramatic and colorful footage out of well, kind of drab footage.
The clip here has the original footage, first – just a simple few seconds of the back yard around the house here on a typical Seattlish late afternoon. Meaning – it’s overcast and dark. And that’s not a bad thing – in fact the nice thing about it always being overcast here is that it’s easy to light a video shot, and you seldom ever have to worry about over exposing the shot. But life isn’t always about various shades of grey. Now, the original footage isn’t all that bad – there is some color there. But as you can see its a bit washed out. So one of the first fun things you can do to boost the color is to replace the sky entirely. So I did – I spent a few minutes out there on Flickr and got a very nice flaming red sunset.
¹Fun tip for Video and Design:
Which … btw – is under a creative commons license that allows it to be used. Flickr has a very nice feature that allows you to do a search for works that are under the Creative Commons – so keep that in mind. It’s under the Advanced Search settings – scroll to the bottom of the search options and check the boxes for Creative Commons reuse policies. You can even have it search for stuff that you can use commercially – which – is pretty cool. (Be even cooler if you could download actual video instead of flash videos – but hey, beggars can’t be choosers.)
Anyway, like I said, I got on on Flickr and looked around for a very very dramatic flaming red sky since I really wanted to give the shot a vibrant dramatic boost. Now the trick to doing this with a shot that’s very effective and very quick is not to roto-scope all the frames but to do a color matte. What’s a color matte? It’s really simple to do in After Effects and it’s very useful. First things first – is to duplicate the shot, and then desaturate it completely. Then hit the levels and totally boost the sky so it’s got a really almost black and white look. Then, last but not least bring in a good luma key. Drop the photo in behind it so it shows through the key – and wallah – you have a very dramatic sunset. Now, you may have noticed that it’s ALL black where it’s not colored sunset… so drop a mask across the area you want to show at the bottom and pin to that the original footage. Do a little color correction on it and you have the very dramatic scene you see here. (A little more work and we could get the little color spots out of the edging – but this was done very quickly – even still its very dramatic. Got a nice vibe to it and the colors’ literally scream at you.
What it is not however … is particularly realistic. And the downside of this technique is that you really make the fine details get blocky and pixelated. So its really good for less than photo realistic effects but you need to use it wisely or it really will drown out any moments that need to be done subtley. So … how do you color it up without losing detail and without making it… blah? Color correction gel. What’s that?
Simple – the way you’d get a similar effect is to use Andrew Kramer’s free AE plugin – the Colored Gel Effect. It takes a bit of getting used to and tweaking to get just the look you want – but the results are awesome. If you look at the detail of the trees – they keep that very soft pine needle blur, and when they move in their own way they’re very … cabin on the lake. I was tempted to play around with a mask or two on the barn down there – but decided to leave it be – basking in the golden sun. You know they say that Lighting sets the mood for a shot quicker than anything – faster than sounds, faster than anything in the shot. So play around with some color, have some fun with it. I will.