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Red lighting over skyline?

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K. Ray
Red lighting over skyline?
on Mar 28, 2013 at 3:21:23 pm

I am shooting a scene tonight in Queens that will show the Manhattan skyline in the background. Over the skyline, I want to create a red flash similar to lighting behind a few clouds, not a dramatic Zeus powered thunderbolt or anything.

Any ideas on how to achieve this?

Could I create this with putting the raw footage (I'm shooting with a 7D) in After Effects?

Or is this something that will take a more complicated setup?

Anything I should prepare for/know before shooting tonight?

-K. Ray 。[-ิω•ิ]。

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Tom Daigon
Re: Red lighting over skyline?
on Mar 28, 2013 at 4:02:07 pm

Without seeing the image you are talking about its a crap shoot but here goes...

In AE on one layer you could draw a matte around the clouds you want the lightning (you spelled lighting but Im assuming you wanted lightning)
so the cloud is isolated.

On the next layer (below the first) copy the same clip.

Then sandwich in between these two layers another plain layer. On this one apply the AE flare effect. Animate the opacity and placementand blend it to taste.

Just one of many ways. And alternate would be to assign a glow to the middle layer which now is a dup of the other two . Animate the glow . Mask it if necessary.

Tom Daigon
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Greg Neumayer
Re: Red lighting over skyline?
on Mar 28, 2013 at 5:30:08 pm

I've had some surprisingly easy results creating in-cloud lightning by adding a soft-edged solid on ADD or maybe COLOR DODGE on top of the existing clouds in the shot. Clouds often have a lot of unnoticed texture until you highlight it with a burst of light, so the detail already there helps quite a bit with the effect. If you don't have stormy-looking clouds in your shot in-camera, the most important thing you can probably do is prepare your shot with the knowledge that you'll need to replace the sky. Where possible, look for clean edges you can either hand-mask or pull a key from, e.g. static building edges or at least good contrast.

Beyond that, for extra interest, instead of overlaying a solid and enhancing the underlying cloud structure, try it with another piece of cloud imagery or a fractal noise pattern. You'll introduce additional texture that may make the shot more interesting.

Lightning also has the interesting effect of lighting the cloud from the opposite side you were just looking at. So, essentially it can look a bit "inverted" in it's value (light/dark). Try taking a soft-edged swatch of the cloud in the shot, desaturate it, and then invert it's values with Curves (so it looks like a black and white negative). Then, lay that back over the top of your existing cloud and uh...push the "finesse" button. You have the button, right? :)

Antifreeze Design

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Dave LaRonde
Re: Red lighting over skyline?
on Mar 28, 2013 at 6:11:13 pm

I've done this thing by replacing the sky. It assumes that you have an accurate mask for the skyline, AND that you intend these lightning strikes are very far away. Don't count on using the existing sky in the shot: it's probably inadequate for the final look.

In my case, the Storm Clouds DVD from Artbeats was my very good friend. In your case, you could simply tint one of the cloud layers to the color of your choice.

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

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John Cuevas
Re: Red lighting over skyline?
on Mar 28, 2013 at 10:22:11 pm

Aharon Rabinowitz did 3 tutorials on the Cow for doing weather/storm creation. They are old, but the concepts still apply.

Weather 1

Weather 2

Weather 3

Johnny Cuevas, Editor

"I have not failed 700 times. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work."
---THOMAS EDISON on inventing the light bulb.

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