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  • Overview
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8.1 Color Grading

We will examine various color grading methods for aerial video and how we can apply them to make our footage look more cinematic.

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Camera Settings

UAV Preparations

3.Optical Fixes
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Reducing 'Jello' Effects in Post

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Adding Motion Blur

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8.Color Grading Aerial Footage
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8.1 Color Grading

This lesson we're gonna look at some various methods you can go about color grading your aerial footage in After Effects. Now when you color grade your footage, it's basically gonna be up to your own discretion because I'm assuming your gonna have a look in mind for your particular short-film or your aerial video. So a lot of this is gonna be up to your creativity for you to experiment with and find a look that suits your shot I'm gonna go over lots of different ways you can go about getting your look. Whether that's through free effects in After Effects or some other paid plug-in effects that you can purchase and use with After Effects. There's quite a few different methods, I'm gonna go over here. So I'm sure some of those are going to be suitable for the look you're wanting. I'm gonna be working with some of the example clips from the project files. You can work with any clips that you want to. I'm gonna start off with a clip that we used in the color correction lesson. If I actually click on a clip here, we can still see some of the effects that we applied from our initial color correction. Now when it comes to colored gradient, you can apply your effect directly to your already color corrected footage, just put them below them right there. What I like to do is actually add a new adjustment layer I'm gonna right click here, and click new adjustment layer, and I'll click on it and hit enter, and I'm just gonna call this color grade. [NOISE] And actually I'd like to apply my effects to this adjustment layer instead of directly on my footage, that way I can toggle this adjustment layer on and off and see the changes that I've made to my footage throughout the code writing process. Now I'm gonna go over to the Effects and Presets panel here. If you don't see this, you can go to Window and click Effects and Presets. And you'll see here we have lots of different options here in After Effects but we have this color correction area here, if I toggle this down. You can see all these different color effects that we have access to natively in After Effects. So you're gonna have a lot of different options you can go about to apply your color grading. One of my favorites that I like to use and my go to with color grading is the Curves effect. So I'm gonna select the Curves effect and just drag this onto my color grade adjustment layer. And again, this is gonna be up to your own creativity, but you can use the curves effect for a variety of different things. You can apply contrast to your shot like we did with our initial levels effect. I'm going to reset this, because I actually don't want to do any contrast adjustments. I want to do some color channel adjustments. So if you check this right here under channel, you have access to all the different RGB channels here. It's like the blue channel. If I want to pull some blues up into the shot, maybe make the shot look a little bit cooler. Or if I just wanted the blues to be in the shadow, I can click again so that those are only into the shadow area. Now you can see we have a very cool stylistic look here. Almost kind of a cold, indie look on this footage when we scroll through here and see kind of how this looks. Very cool, and we can go to the red channel here if I wanted to add some reds into the highlights up here. She never kind of gave me a little bit of a cinemal look, here we have this kind of warmer tones up here in the lighter colors, and the darker blue. So that's just one way we could go about it with the curves effect, I'm gonna reset that again. I'm actually gonna go to the green channel here, I'm gonna pull up the greens. I'll go to the blue, maybe pull the blues. Back a little bit, and we can add kind of a storm look. This is a common color grey that you might see before like a tornado or something is about to strike if you want to make this storm look a lot more menacing. So you can see in a relatively few clicks that we've got a very cool stylistic look using the curves effect. Now I'm going to go ahead and delete the curves effect and show you another effect I like in after effects. And as the photo filter effect to, which is also one of the color correction effects. I'm just gonna drag this over to my adjustment layer. What photo filter is, basically like adding a filter on the front of your camera. You have access to all these warm and cool filters, and some other custom color filters here. And I'm gonna increase the density on this o web to 100%, so we can see the full effect of this. And you can check on or off the preserve luminosity. I typically leave it on. I think it looks a little bit better with the whites kind of popping out here. We can scroll through these filters here and look at the different colors we have. We can add a cooling filter if we want it to be a little cooler shot, or we can just add some of these custom color filters here, such as a red and be a violet. And again you can control the density of these. So if you just want to add them in maybe to make sure around 70% or 50% there. All these look really good. And you an also go down here to a custom color. When you select that you can custom select the color you want the filter to be. So you have a lot of options here with this effect. So that's the Photo Filter effect there, I'm gonna go ahead and delete that. I'm gonna go over to the Effects & Presets, I'm gonna type in gradient here. I'm gonna add the effect Gradient Ramp to our adjustment layer. What this is gonna do is add a gradient ramp of two different colors here. So what I wanna do is emulate a gradiated filter that would be on the front of our camera. That is where I wanna apply a color just to the top portion of our shot, basically fading down into nothing. So I turn this off here on the visibility adjustment layer. The sky is really blown out up here and I wanna add just a little bit of blue color to this, but not affect this grass or trees down here. This is really easy to do, so I'm gonna turn back on the visibility of the Adjustment layer. I wanna leave this bottom color white cuz it's basically gonna be nothing. But this top color. I wanna select basically a blue tone here. Maybe a cyan color there. And for the channel of our adjustment layer under mode here, if you don't see that you can toggle the switches here til you do. I'm gonna set this to multiply. Now we can start to see what's happening here and we can adjust the height of the ramp here by adjusting these values of the start of the ramp and the end of the ramp, so I can pull this up here. So that we're kinda getting just a little bit of blue at the top portion of this here. Again, this can really help if your sky's blown out and you want to add a little bit of blue tone to your [INAUDIBLE] I do this quite a bit. So we can scroll through here and see what this looks like. If you want to adjust the overall power of this gradient ramp, you can select your color grade layer and hit t on the keyboard for opacity and you can just lower the opacity of this. I want to do something like 50% on this particular shot, and that's a quick and easy way you can apply a gradiated filter to your shot. I'm going to go ahead and delete the gradient rant. I'm going to set the capacity back to 100 and put this back on normal. Now I want to show you a cool third party plug-in by Red Giant, which is called Colorista. This is a paid plug-in that you actually have to purchase from Red Giant that works in conjunction with After Effects. The plugin runs for about $200, but adds quite a few quick and easy features that you'll find very handy if you do decide to purchase the plugin. So I'm gonna go to Effect > Magic Bullet > Colorista III. I'm gonna just pull this out here, so we can see everything going on here. And the first thing we have is a three way color correcter seeking adjustments like we did with the curves effect. I'm gonna zoom in here just so you can see what's going on. So we got a blues into the shadows, we just adjust the overall contrast of the shadows. Do lots of fine tuning color adjustments here. Right in this one effect, that's what's convenient about this everything is just in one panel. I want to reset this here and show you another cool feature. That is the auto balance feature. It's like this color picker here, and it's like the area of my shot that's supposed to be white. So up here in this cloud short great. I'll click, and you can see I did some quick and easy auto adjustments for our shot. It much really good here. I might have added a little bit too much contrast. I can always adjust that over here in the shadow section. You can see if I check this on and off here for the effect. They did a really good color balance there. There's a little bit of red toning on the initial shot up here in the clouds, and that's pretty common with DGI footage, so we'll turn the effect back on. You can see it's corrected for that. There's lots of other cool effects here, such as the pop, which is basically kind of a sharpening and contrasting of the shot there. You can see how that really made the features of the shot pop out. So you can see what a nice color grade we've added to our shot in just a few quick clicks here. Using the Colorista plug-in I'm gonna go ahead and delete this and show you some other options here. Something else that's very popular in color grading is using what's called lookup tables or LUTs. And these are basically universal color presets that you can use on your footage that work in After Effects, Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, anything that you can use a lookup table. I've actually included three custom lookup tables that I created with the project files that you can use on this footage and your own footage, just to get you started using look up tables for your color grading. I'm gonna go over to another example here and show you kind of how this works. So in order to apply a look up table to our footage and after effects, we need to come here to the effects panel and type in lut. And you'll see the effect here, Apply Color Look Up Table. If we apply that though I'm going to right-click here and add a new adjustment layer. I like to apply my LUTs] to adjustment layers and I'll show you why. But mainly, so I can just adjust the overall power of the effect using the opacity slider. So I'm going to name this LUT, for look up table layer, and I'm gonna apply the code, look up table to the LUT adjustment layer. That's gonna immediately pop-up a window on your computer for you to locate where your look up tables are located. And I've already located mine here. And these are the three that are included with the project files, Rich Greens, Sunrise, and Vintage Blue. I gonna click Sunrise. So I want to select that and click open. And now you can what this has done. The sunrise look up table basically makes your shot look as if it was shot at sunrise or sunset. You can see it add some cool golden tones. A little bit of red here in the shadows and we can scroll through here. Adds a cool look to the shot. And we can check this on and off just to see what that looks like. But there are lots of different look up table options out there, so you can find different ones and get different effects on your footage. Again, this one is meant to emulate sunrise. So I'm gonna select my adjustment layer here and hit T for opacity. And let's say I wanna adjust the density of this, so I could bring this down to around 50%. And you can just use these to fine tune your shots. And you can actually color grade your shot and apply a lookup table to them or vice versa, just to add a little bit more to your color grade I'm gonna bring the opacity back up to 100% here. Let's go ahead and check out a couple other of the look up tables that are included with the project files. So if you wanna change that, you can just click choose up here. Now let's choose the rich greens lookup table. Now you can see what this has done. It really pops out the greens, almost makes them a little bit nuclear green as I would call it. it's definitely a stylistic choice. If you want to use rich greens on your shot, you can check this on and off to see the difference there. That's pretty cool. Let's go on and check out this last one here. The final one is called vintage blue. This adds a nice kind of Sian look to our footage, almost vintage film looking there. So you can definitely experiment with these look up tables and create your own custom looks. Finally, something that's gotten really popular in the last couple of years for digital footage is what's called film emulation. And there are a couple of different film emulation plug-ins for after effects that will make your digital footage look like it was actually shot on film, and the first one of those is called FilmConvert. So I'm gonna go ahead and apply that now. Go to effect> filming relation>film convert. Again, this is a third party plug-in for After Effects. It runs a about $200.00. What's cool about this is you can go here and select your different camera settings. In this case I can select. DJNR and inspire one, click apply. Which will automatically cause the plug-in to do some adjustments here, so I get accurate film representations of these different film emulations here. So I can scroll down here and scroll through some of these. And you see this adds just a very cool esthetic to the image. Even adding some accurate film grain to the shot, so that it matched the film look even more. I go ahead and check this effect on and off here, so you can see how drastic of a change it's actually doing to the footage. I really enjoy using film convert for color grading. I use it quite often. There is another film emulator you might want to check out too though which is called Koji Advance ,so I go to effect here. Koji color, koji advanced. This is another film installation plug-in and it also runs around $200 and you can select your different film stocks here. In this case I'm gonna select canvas Canon cuz this matches the inspiron pretty closely. And you can select a different film stock here, and you can see this adds a very nice film esthetic to the footage as well. In the next lesson we're gonna learn how to do some basic 3D camera tracking to our aerial footage. We'll also look at how to add in some basic 3D text and a logo to make it appear as if it's actually in the scene.

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