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Post Production PVC Experts

Classic Course: Radial Blurs

After a break for NAB where you got to learn about all the cool new features in After Effects (how about that Content Aware Fill?), we’re back to help you learn about some of the features and plug-ins you’ve had forever in After Effects, but maybe never had time to master. We’re going to pick back up with movies from our discontinued Lynda/LinkedIn course “Insight into Effects” course, with a focus on blurs for the next few weeks.

Let’s start with a pair of movies on radial blurs. Most blurs create a soft, blooming, defocused area around a source pixel. In contrast, radial blurs pull the pixels in a specific direction to mimic movement or create other special effects.

First, here’s an overview of what radial blurs do:

Followed by a shoot-out of how a few radial blur effects differ from each other:

These movies previously appeared in our Insight Into Effects course on Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning. They’ve retired that course from their library, so we’re making them available publicly for free.

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Post Production PVC Experts

Classic Course: Channel Blur

To wrap up our exploration of ChOp (Channel Operation) effects, we’re going to look at a fun one that we touched on earlier in this series-within-a-series: Channel Blur.

This effect allows you to blur individual color channels, or the alpha channel. You can use Channel Blur creatively to soften the edges of an alpha channel, or to introduce “chromatic aberration” effects where it looks like the video was shot through a cheap plastic lens (such as the HolgaDiana, and Lomo cameras some creative photographers like to play with – us included). An interesting side effect of blurring a specific color channel such as green is that its complimentary color (in this case, magenta) will also appear:

However, this technique can also be used for a number of corrective actions, such as cleaning up artifacts in highly compressed image formats (such as old DV videos). A particular favorite trick of ours was slightly blurring the green or blue channel when doing greenscreen or bluescreen work (respectively) to remove noise in the background without having to over-crank your keying controls, potentially losing detail across all color channels (such those with the subject’s hair) in the process:

We’ll be taking a break during “NAB month” (April), and will return in May with more movies!

These movies previously appeared in our Insight Into Effects course on Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning. They’ve retired that course from their library, so we’re making them available publicly for free.

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Post Production PVC Experts

Classic Course: Channel Mixer

Continuing our exploration of a few choice Channel Operation effects, we look at the initially daunting Channel Mixer.

In short, the Channel Mixer allows you to create a custom mix of the red, green, and blue channel information, and use that mix to replace a channel’s normal information – such as mixing some of the green channel’s values into the red channel to enhance it.

Channel Mixer also has a Monochrome switch, converting it into a powerful grayscale mixer. All of this is demonstrated in the video below:

These movies previously appeared in our Insight Into Effects course on Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning. They’ve retired that course from their library, so we’re making them available publicly for free.

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Post Production PVC Experts

Classic Course: Channel Combiner – Transparency

One of the more confusing points on working with images is straight versus premultiplied alpha channels.

With a straight alpha, information in the color channels is at full strength, and any transparency is conveyed in the alpha channel. These images can look very odd when you view just their RGB channels, often sending clients into a panic.

Images with premultiplied alphas have the color in the RGB channels pre-processed by the strength of the alpha channel for those same pixels. These images look “correct” when you view just the RGB channels…but at the price of containing less color information.

The Channel Combiner effect gives you a way to convert potentially problematic straight alpha channels into premultiplied images. This is demonstrated in the video below:

(For an overview of how the Channel Combiner effect works, take a look at the first post in this series.)

These movies previously appeared in our Insight Into Effects course on Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning. They’ve retired that course from their library, so we’re making them available publicly for free.

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Post Production PVC Experts

Classic Course: Channel Combiner – Alternate Color Spaces

After Effects converts all of your source material into RGB color space, with a separate alpha channel. However, sometimes it is useful to process an image in an alternate color space, such as video’s native YUV. This separates the luminance channel out from the color channels. Our eyes are far more sensitive to luminance than color.

That means, for example, we can get away with blurring the color channels to clean up posterization or other compression artifacts, and keep its sharpness by leaving the luminance channel untouched.

In the movie below, we show you how to use the Channel Combiner effect in conjunction with other effects such as Channel Blur to operate on individual channels in these alternate color spaces:

(For an overview of how the Channel Combiner effect works, take a look at last week’s post.)

These movies previously appeared in our Insight Into Effects course on Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning. They’ve retired that course from their library, so we’re making them available publicly for free.

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Post Production PVC Experts

Classic Course: Channel Combiner – Overview

“ChOps” – Channel Operations, where you process individual color channels of an image (including the alpha channel) – is considered a Kung-Fu skill of advanced Photoshop users.

After Effects also happens to have a number of plug-in effects that give you access to those individual channels. In the next few installments of our Classic Course series, we’re going to look at a few of them.

We’re going to start with the power Channel Combiner effect. In this short overview movie, we’ll give you a taste for its power, from using it to create better grayscale images from a color original, to changing alpha channel types, to processing images using different color spaces, to its ability to look at a second layer as part of its processing:

These movies previously appeared in our Insight Into Effects course on Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning. They’ve retired that course from their library, so we’re making them available publicly for free.

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Experts Post Production

Classic Course: Calculations

Continuing our theme of often-overlooked utility plug-ins in Adobe After Effects that can create interesting composites with a minimum of layers and precomps, Calculations is a real Swiss Army Knife effect that can perform grayscale conversion and composite one layer with another with a variety of options. ‘

First let’s take a look at how Calculations works:

And now let’s explore how to recreate two of our favorite footage enhancement techniques – “instant sex” and “lighting effects in post” – using Calculations:

The use of Calculations has been enhanced by a new feature recently added to After Effects CC that allows all compound effects – Calculations included – to look at a second layer’s source (the old behavior), after masks have been applied to that layer, or after masks and effects. These choices now appear next to where you select the second, “control” layer in a compound effect.

These movies previously appeared in our Insight Into Effects course on Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning. They’ve retired that course from their library, so we’re making them available publicly for free.

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Post Production PVC Experts

Classic Course: CC Composite

This effect was long one of our secret weapons in Adobe After Effects to create looks like our “instant sex” treatment with just one layer, instead of a stack of layers and blending modes. Its blending function has been replaced by the Compositing Options now available in the timeline for each effect you apply, but it’s ability to also apply blending modes makes it still very useful:

These movies previously appeared in our Insight Into Effects course on Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning. They’ve retired that course from their library, so we’re making them available publicly for free.

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Post Production PVC Experts

Classic Course: CC Vector Blur

This fun blur from the Cycore Effects that come bundled with Adobe After Effects. It looks at a second layer as a map to determine how much to blur an image by, and in what direction. The results are often surrealistic:

Not an effect you’re going to use every day, but certainly a great one to pull out of your bag of tricks when you want a look you haven’t seen a thousand times already.

These movies previously appeared in our Insight Into Effects course on Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning. They’ve retired that course from their library, so we’re making them available publicly for free.

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Post Production PVC Experts

Classic Course: Bilateral Blur

Our next movie exploring blur effects dives into the mysterious, under-used Adobe After Effects plug-in Bilateral Blur. It is based on the concept that our eyes are much more sensitive to detail in luminance information (black and white) than they are to color information. By blurring the color channels and keeping the luminance sharp, you can create some dreamy, impressionistic images that are still easy for the viewer to “read”:

These movies previously appeared in our Insight Into Effects course on Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning. They’ve retired that course from their library, so we’re making them available publicly for free.