I'm working on a student film in which a character is so bored she counts the dots in a drop-ceiling tile. We have a static POV shot of the ceiling, and I'd like to highlight each small dot with a glow as she counts. The glow could either be a colored highlight or a spotlight (like the spotlight effect on individual icons in OS X's System Preferences when you use the search box).
So far, I've used the Aura and Color Balance filters on a copy of the shot to get a decent colored highlight of the entire ceiling tile. Not spectacular, but acceptable. I don't know how to combine this version with the regular version--through animated cropping?--so that as the voice-over counts, individual areas of the tile will light up.
I also wondered if maybe there's a way to use a particle emitter for this, but I'm not very familiar with Motion.
So, my question is: what would you do to accomplish this? If you think the approach I've tried is good, how would I finish it? If there's another approach, what would it be?
Assuming I've properly understood what you're trying to do, I would suggest something like this: create a solid circle shape, set the opacity to 50%, position it over one of the dots on the tile, and then resize, feather, and colour the shape to taste, readjusting the opacity as necessary and probably trying some different blend modes to see what looks good.
Once you're happy, simply duplicate this shape as many times as necessary, repositioning each one over a dot in the tile. Then you can animate the opacity of each one to fade it up in time with the counting.