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Color Management

30 Days of CS5: After Effects CS5: Vibrance

Color correcting, or color grading, video footage can be a difficult skill to master and a time consuming-process, even once one is familiar with the tools. As a result, color grading is frequently skipped in favor of strictly focusing on the content gathering and editing process. With the speed benefits from working in Premiere Pro CS5, I hope independent videographers and photographers shooting video will make color grading a regular part of their workflow. After all, you wouldn’t consider delivering a still photo to a client without first performing at least basic color, tone and contrast corrections. Why wouldn’t you take the same care with your video footage?

Even though Premiere Pro contains several useful tools for performing color correction to your video files, I prefer using After Effects for correcting individual clips, then using Premiere’s tools for making minor adjustments to the entire sequence (e.g. warming, etc.). This decision is based in the idea that the tools found in After Effects behave similarly to those in Photoshop, making color correction in AE a familiar experience to anyone coming more from a photographic than filmmaking background. For example, within After Effects, the Levels command allows you to control red, green and blue channels independently, just like in Photoshop, and provides a Histogram—a rare, but welcome sight for photographers working in video color correction.
Another familar tool found in a photographer’s Photoshop workflow that is now available in After Effects CS5 is Vibrance—a key ally for making your video clips snap.

You can add Vibrance directly to your clip using the Effect command (Effect>Color Correction>Vibrance), but I prefer to first add an Adjustment Layer (Layer>New>Adjustment Layer). This provides a similar workflow to working in Photoshop and allows me to mask the correction, change the correction’s intensity by reducing the layer opacity, or change the adjustment layer’s blending mode to target only the color or tonal information.

Vibrance in AE works identically to Photoshop, increasing the saturation of desaturated colors more than saturated ones. This makes colors richer without making them garish or artificial looking. I find that a ratio of three parts Vibrance to one part Saturation works well for most images. Check it out and see what works for you.

Here’s an example of a still from a video clip as it appears directly from the camera and one with basic levels correction, a minor hue-saturation adjustment on the greens and a Vibrance correction. What a difference these quick corrections make to the finished product!


2 comments for “30 Days of CS5: After Effects CS5: Vibrance”

  1. I see your point. If I use that way, I have to export each footage in Premiere to After Effect. The key point is the video cut in small peaces (in 10-second video, I’ve got 4 footages) and my computer (Toshiba satelite Core i5, RAM 2GB) does not work well with plenty of softwares. Moreover, if I put those footages to AE, then export them to lossless .mov file, the quality of video is maintain butthe size of the footage after exporting is larger, and vice versace, exporting to .mp4 file, the size is smaller but the quality is worse. How do you fix this problem?

    Posted by HoJuan | October 3, 2013, 10:49 pm
  2. You’ve distilled the challenge of a video workflow. The file size of an un- compressed workflow is challenging. You might try using ProRes LT or 422 which offers moderate compression with minimal or no quality loss.

    Posted by Jay | October 20, 2013, 7:19 pm

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