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How can I make a specific item glow?

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Neil Myers
How can I make a specific item glow?
on Apr 8, 2010 at 6:42:05 pm

I have a project where I have video footage of a sign, shown here:

I want to highlight the blue neon sign that says OBSERVATION DECK. I am guessing a glow might work, but I don't have enough experience to make just a single element glow. If I glow the who image it looks pretty cool, but is not what I was looking for.

Any ideas? I have Adobe Master Suite CS4. I am thinking After Effects, but I am open to other suggestions.


Neil Myers
Connect Public Relations
CS4 Master Suite, 3DS

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Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Re: How can I make a specific item glow?
on Apr 8, 2010 at 6:56:37 pm

The best way is to isolate that element with a mask and apply glow to it. After Effects can do the trick.
There are several methods to use.
1. The "classic" method. Draw a mask (single black and white frame) in PSD. Track in AE the element in the shot. Apply that data to the mask frame. Now you have a animated mask of the "observation deck" element. Composite the shot on to itself, top l;ayer using the animated mask as alpha, and apply glow to the element.
2. The "quick and dirty" method. Duplicate the layer of the shot. Draw a rough mask around the element with a generous feather. Animate that mask by hand or track. Apply glow to the layer. This may actually work out just fine for your shot.

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist
Bucharest, Romania

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Joey Foreman
Re: How can I make a specific item glow?
on Apr 8, 2010 at 7:02:19 pm

Add an Adjustment layer to the comp and draw a mask on it just covering the letters, then apply Glow to the adjustment layer, set to Color Channels. Pick a nice Blue or whatever for Color A.
Another method would be to use a Luma Key.
To do this, duplicate your layer and draw a mask around the letters on the duplicate layer.
Apply a Luma Matte effect and set it to Key Out Darker. Tweak the controls until only the letters are left. (Turn off the lower layer so you can see what's happening.)
Apply the Glow effect, set to Alpha Channel. Tweak to taste.

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Erik Waluska
Re: How can I make a specific item glow?
on Apr 8, 2010 at 7:05:42 pm

AE would probably be easiest. Just duplicate the image layer and on the duplicated top layer draw a mask around the part you want to glow. In this case, since the "observation deck" is much brighter than the black sign background you don't have to be very precise with the mask, just draw a loose mask around the text but be more precise where it intersects the other red sign text. Then apply the glow effect and play with the settings until you get what you want. Use the Glow Threshold setting to exclude the darker parts of the image from the glow.


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John Fishback
Re: How can I make a specific item glow?
on Apr 11, 2010 at 5:02:04 pm

If I were doing this with Apple Color, the first thing I'd try to do is create a mask based on the exact color of the blue lettering then apply a glow effect. IMHO, this approach is much easier with moving footage as it eliminates the need to track and rotoscope the blue, particularly, as it intersects blocking elements of the sign. I've never thought to try a similar approach in AfterFX, but maybe a color key would work similarly.


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