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Soft Contrast (softening glow)

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Brad Higerd
Soft Contrast (softening glow)
on May 20, 2011 at 1:03:35 pm

Having searched countless forums (this one included), online tutorials, and books, I've joined Creative Cow to ask what is probably anything BUT a simple question:

I've recently switched from Sony Vegas Pro 9 to Adobe Production Premium CS5, and I'm finding it incredibly challenging to achieve the look Sony offers through the "Soft Contrast" plug-in (dialed back, as the default settings are ridiculous). Summarizing what the "soft contrast" plug-in could accomplish; it could "soften" video, add a slight "glow," and then increase/control the contrast (all on sliders). And if that weren't enough, a second tab introduced a powerful and flexible vignette (shapeable and movable in x,y coordinates). The plug-in greatly crimped performance (as expected), but the results were amazing.

SO, that leaves me wondering how to accomplish something similar through my copy of Adobe's Production Premium CS5? If someone has done something similar with the built-in power of After Effects, can you please provide a list of the "effects" I'd need to use to accomplish what I've described? If so, that would be awesome! And for what it's worth, I used to blend identical tracks with a Gaussian blur on one to get the softening I'm looking for. I'd hate to imagine I have to go back to that to get the look described above, but if that's the best solution AE / PP offer (without purchasing plug-ins), then give it to me straight, please.

As far as the vignette, I've learned the basic way to do it with a circle and/or garbage matte in PP. It's something, but a far cry from the accuracy I'm looking for.

Thanks,
Brad

(And please know that I could care less about software loyalty comments. These are tools, and all I'm interested in accomplishing is achievement of a "look" that's not easy to achieve...aside from a plug-in not readily available in the toolset I'm currently attempting to utilize.)


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Jason Mettler
Re: Soft Contrast (softening glow)
on May 20, 2011 at 3:22:39 pm

Hmmm, I'm not familiar with the Vegas effect but to add a softness to a scene w/vignette I'd use an adjustment layer and add a fast blur with a low setting (it's O.O by default) Depending on whether the blur was part of the vignette or not I'd either use the same adj. layer or add a new one. To add a separate vignette, add a new solid and select the square mask button. Hold your click and choose the ellipse. Double click the oval and it will automatically insert to fit the comp window. If you click off the mask and click on a handle you can move the points individually. If you double click on the mask you can move it as a whole and scale it.
The mask has twirl down options in the layer panel. Feather the heck out of it and increase the expansion until it's right.
To add a soft glow, use "effect/stylize/glow". Mess with the settings.
The order of the effects and layers can make a difference so play with that too.
Hope that's what you're looking for.


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Brad Higerd
Re: Soft Contrast (softening glow)
on May 20, 2011 at 5:52:40 pm

Thanks Jason,
I'll give your advice a try!


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Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Re: Soft Contrast (softening glow)
on May 20, 2011 at 5:51:53 pm

AE has a great set of plugins that can achieve the look you're after.
For the soft glow I would recommend Channel Blur (it can blur the RGB separately) or Remove Grain.
The easiest way to achieve a vignette is to comp the layer on top of itself, draw an oval or rectangular mask set on Subtract and apply Levels to darken the top layer. You can control the softness of the vignette and the expansion by using the Feather and Expand controls for the mask.

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Soft Contrast (softening glow)
on May 20, 2011 at 5:55:29 pm

I'd also check out a trick from Days Of Yore that often worked like a charm.

Google the following: "instant sex" AND Meyer. See if an old AE version 3 tutorial turns up.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Walter Soyka
Re: Soft Contrast (softening glow)
on May 20, 2011 at 6:25:58 pm

[Dave LaRonde] "Google the following: "instant sex" AND Meyer. See if an old AE version 3 tutorial turns up."

The "AND Meyer" part is important!

There may literally dozens of ways to accomplish this using AE's built-in tools. Can you post a before and after screen shot showing what you've done in Vegas that you're trying to replicate in AE?

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Brad Higerd
Re: Soft Contrast (softening glow)
on May 20, 2011 at 7:36:28 pm

Thanks guys! Sincerely!

Ironically, I ordered the Meyers 700+ page AE book two nights ago. It'll probably be 2047-2048 before I get through it, but hopefully, I'll learn AECS5 by then.

And obtaining a screen capture from the "soft contrast" plug-in is a great idea. Hopefully, I can do that sometime this weekend. Looks like the "image upload" button is the way I'd do that? (As a newbie to Creative Cow, I'm learning...and I really like the idea of becoming a Kobe Cow, drinking beer, and having my butt rubbed all day. ...But a Creative Cow and a Kobe Cow are probably not the same thing?)


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Walter Soyka
Re: Soft Contrast (softening glow)
on May 20, 2011 at 7:50:34 pm

[Brad Higerd] "And obtaining a screen capture from the "soft contrast" plug-in is a great idea. Hopefully, I can do that sometime this weekend. Looks like the "image upload" button is the way I'd do that?"

Yes. After you upload the file, you can select it from your list of uploaded files and copy the embed code. Paste it in your post and we'll all be able to see it inline.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Brad Higerd
Re: Soft Contrast (softening glow)
on May 23, 2011 at 11:42:37 pm

Sorry for the delay:

original:


With "soft contrast":


Not sure how well these show what I'm asking about, but open to comments!

Brad


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Soft Contrast (softening glow)
on May 20, 2011 at 8:07:05 pm

[Brad Higerd] "I ordered the Meyers 700+ page AE book two nights ago"

Oh, well then, go look up Instant Sex in that new book of yours. They originated the trick.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Darby Edelen
Re: Soft Contrast (softening glow)
on May 20, 2011 at 10:28:28 pm

[Dave LaRonde] "They originated the trick."

I still remember being floored when they showed this trick off in a presentation for Adobe at NAB a few years ago... because I had been using this technique for years and didn't get a single book deal out of it :(

In all seriousness, never underestimate the power of blending modes and adjustment layers. Blending footage back into itself with effects applied is a very powerful tool and can be used to achieve countless interesting effects including: any kinda glow, high-pass filter, increasing/decreasing contrast, bleach bypass, and beyond!

Darby Edelen


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