Graphics
 

Adobe After Effects CS5 : Color Look Development

11/26/2011 3:51:26 PM

Hue/Saturation: Color and Intensity

The third of three essential color correction tools in After Effects is Hue/Saturation. You can use this one to

  • desaturate an image (or add saturation)

  • colorize a monochrome image

  • shift the overall hue of an image

  • de-emphasize or remove an individual color channel

The Hue/Saturation control allows you to do something you can’t do with Levels or Curves, which is to directly control the hue, saturation, and brightness of an image. The HSB color model is merely an alternate slice of RGB color data. All “real” color pickers include RGB and HSB as two separate but interrelated modes that use three values to describe any given color.


Thus you could arrive at the same color adjustments using Levels and Curves, but Hue/Saturation is more directly effective. To desaturate an image is essentially to bring the red, green, and blue values closer together, reducing the relative intensity of the strongest of them; a saturation control lets you do this in one step, without guessing.

Often colors are balanced but too “juicy” (not a strictly technical term), and lowering the Saturation value somewhere between 5 and 20 can be a direct and effective way to pull an image adjustment together (Figure 1). It’s essential to understand the delivery medium as well, because film and even images from the web on your phone can be more tolerant and friendly to saturated images than television.

Figure 1. Boosting a saturated image’s contrast can make its saturation a bit too juiced up with color (top); if you recognize this, a simple and modest pullback in overall Saturation is a quick solution.

The other quick fix with Hue/Saturation is a shift to the hue of the whole image or of one of its component channels. The Channel Control menu for Hue/Saturation has red, green, and blue as well as their chromatic opposites of cyan, magenta, and yellow. In RGB color, these secondary colors work in direct opposition, so that lowering blue gamma effectively raises yellow gamma, and vice versa.

Tip

When in doubt about the amount of color in a given channel, try boosting its Saturation to 100%, blowing it out—this makes the presence of tones in that range very easy to spot.


The HSB model includes all six individual channels, which means that if a given channel is too bright or oversaturated, you can dial back its Brightness & Saturation levels, or you can shift Hue toward a different part of the spectrum without unduly affecting the other primary and secondary colors. This can even be an effective way to reduce green or blue spill .


There are lots of ways to adjust the color levels of an image, with new ones emerging all the time, but most rely to some extent on these same basic component tools.

Tip

One alternative usage of these basic color correction tools is to apply them via an adjustment layer, because you can then dial them back simply by adjusting the layer’s opacity or hold them out from specific areas of the image using masks or track matte selections.


Color Finesse and Three-Way Color

Colorists define the look of contemporary film and television. Make your way into the suite of a high-end colorist, and whether he or she is working with Lustre, Scratch, DaVinci Resolve, or even Apple Color you will find the same three or four color pots and accompanying wheeled surface controllers. This is also known as a three-way color corrector, and it has been the major missing color tool in the shipping version of After Effects until now. Synthetic Aperture’s Color Finesse version 3, now included with After Effects, fills this gap.

Although Color Finesse is a full color correction application that has been included with After Effects for many years, major upgrades to the version 3 included with CS5 finally make it a toolset, for two basic reasons. First, it now has a simple interface that runs in the Effect Controls panel, which provides three-way color correction and more. Second, the full Color Finesse application now offers a full complement of features, allowing you to navigate through time and save your color work in the form of a LUT.

What does all of this mean? Apply the SA Color Finesse 3 effect and twirl down the Simplified Interface. Now play with the hue offsets; for a typical modern color look, try dragging the point at the center of Shadows toward the cobalt blue 4:00 and Highlights in the opposite direction, toward the orangey 10:00. Gently nudge the midtones toward 2:00 or so for a warm look, or more like 8:00 for the Matrix (Figure 2).

Figure 2. The simplified interface of Color Finesse delivers color pots to After Effects, here used to take the image in a cooler direction.

Note the other controls right here in the Effect Controls—Curves properties with identical control to the Curves effect, but a friendlier multichannel interface, as well as HSL and RGB controls corresponding to Hue/Saturation and Levels, respectively. These are broken down to correspond to all four color wheels: Master, Highlights, Midtones, and Shadow effects.

You could perform all of your color corrections here, without opening the full Color Finesse interface, but when you do open it, you’ll find more ways to take complete control of the color look (Figure 3). In the lower left are slider controls for all four color modes: HSL, RGB, its opposites CMY and the YCbCr controls of analog video, along with full Curves and Levels controls (with histogram), a Levels alternate called Luma Range, and a Secondary control for particular colors you might want to isolate and change.

Figure 3. Color Finesse brings scopes into—or at least makes them available to—After Effects CS5.

The top half of Color Finesse contains most of the professional modes of viewing and analyzing a digital video image for color. Parade, vectorscope, histogram, and tone curve slices of the image as well as a split view, a reference image toggle, and a luma range view to look only for areas that might be blown out or crushed.

Finally, note that under the File menu of Color Finesse, you can choose Export and t format, and the application will create a file containing a 3D color lookup table that can be saved for use in After Effects or used in most of the world’s leading compositing and color correction applications, including those you see on the list: Autodesk Lustre and Smoke, LUTher, Scratch, and Truelight Cube, among others.

Close-up: Looks and Colorista II

Red Giant Software was first to deliver three-way color correction to After Effects in the form of its Magic Bullet Colorista plug-in, which it followed with the more fully featured and unique Magic Bullet Looks, which has now been followed by the deluxe Colorista II. These are worth mentioning not only because they’re ubiquitous, but because Looks in particular works according to a unique UI metaphor. It offers tools that correspond to all five points from source to image: the subject, any matte box filters, the lens, the recording medium, and postproduction effects. It can be fun to concoct your own recipe from these modular ingredients, or to rely on one of the presets that comes with the application or can be purchased as add-on packages from Red Giant.

 
Others
 
- Adobe Fireworks CS5 : Applying the Unsharp Mask Live Filter
- Adobe Fireworks CS5 : Adjusting brightness with the Dodge and Burn tools
- CorelDraw 10 : Adding Graphics to a Page (part 3) - Optimizing images for the Web
- CorelDraw 10 : Adding Graphics to a Page (part 2) - Exporting the rollover graphic
- CorelDraw 10 : Adding Graphics to a Page (part 1) - Creating Rollover Graphics
- CorelDraw 10 : Adding Text to a Web Page
- Adobe Flash Professional CS5 : Transforming Gradients and Bitmap Fills (part 2) - Adjusting scale with the Gradient Transform tool, Setting gradient fill overflow styles
- Adobe Flash Professional CS5 : Transforming Gradients and Bitmap Fills (part 1) - Adjusting the center point with the Gradient Transform tool, Rotating a fill with the Gradient Transform tool
- Adobe InDesign CS5 : Joining Anchor Points & Using the Smooth Tool
- Adobe InDesign CS5 : Splitting Paths
- Adobe Flash Catalyst CS5 : Using design-time data (part 2) - Add and remove elements in the repeated item
- Adobe Flash Catalyst CS5 : Using design-time data (part 1) - Replace design-time images & Edit design-time text
- Adobe Flash Catalyst CS5 : Setting data list properties
- Adobe Illustrator CS5 : Learning the Truth About Transparency (part 2)
- Adobe Illustrator CS5 : Learning the Truth About Transparency (part 1) - Understanding Transparency Flattening
- Dreamweaver CS5 : Using Dreamweaver Templates - Adding Content to Template Documents
- Dreamweaver CS5 : Using Dreamweaver Templates - Using Editable Regions
- Adobe Photoshop CS5 : Fixing Depth-of-Field Problems
- Adobe Photoshop CS5 : Using the Dodge and Burn Tools
- QuarkXPress 8 : Combining type and graphics
 
 
Most View
 
- Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 : Designing a Successful Exchange Storage Solution - Storage Changes in Exchange 2013
- SQL Server 2012 : Delivering A SQL Server Health Check (part 1)
- Windows Phone 8 : Working with People - Rooms (part 8) - Adding an Appointment to the Shared Calendar , Creating a New Shared Note, Viewing Shared Notes
- Windows 7 : Encrypting File System (part 1) - How to Encrypt a Folder with EFS, How to Create and Back Up EFS Certificates
- Sharepoint 2013 : Managing and Configuring Profile Synchronization (part 4) - Configuring the Synchronization Connection
- Microsoft Visio 2013 : Creating a New Diagram - Using basic shapes and the Dynamic Grid
- System Center Configuration Manager 2007 : Distributing Packages - Creating Advertisements (part 2) - OpsMgr Advertisement - Additional Advertisement Settings
- Microsoft Access 2010 : Relating the Information in Your Database - The Types of Relationships
- Windows 8 : Sharing printers - Configuring shared printers, Configuring printing permissions
- Application Lifecycle Management in SharePoint 2013 : Managing SharePoint 2013 Development Teams (part 2) - Large Project Life-Cycle Models
 
 
Top 10
 
- Microsoft Visio 2013 : Creating and Validating Process Diagrams - Reusing existing validation rules
- Microsoft Visio 2013 : Creating and Validating Process Diagrams - Creating SharePoint workflow diagrams
- Microsoft Visio 2013 : Creating and Validating Process Diagrams - Creating subprocesses
- Microsoft Access 2010 : The Linked Table Manager - Move and Update Table Links
- Microsoft Access 2010 : Linking to Another Type of Database (part 2) - Linking to SQL Server Databases
- Microsoft Access 2010 : Linking to Another Type of Database (part 1) - Link to Excel Spreadsheets, Link to Other Databases
- Windows Phone 8 : Building Location Aware Apps - A Walkthrough of the Location Viewer Sample (part 2) - Displaying Location Using the GeoLocationView Page
- Windows Phone 8 : Building Location Aware Apps - A Walkthrough of the Location Viewer Sample (part 1) - GeoLocationViewModel Class
- Windows Phone 8 : Building Location Aware Apps - Getting Started with Location (part 3) - Code-Driven Location Simulation
- Windows Phone 8 : Building Location Aware Apps - Getting Started with Location (part 2) - Background Location Tracking