Customizing Filters and Creating Presets in Perfect Effects
The process of opening a file is the same as with other modules. First select the shot you want to work on in the browser, then click on the Effects button near the top-right portion of the window. You will be asked if you want to edit the original file or a copy (Figure 9).
Figure 9 The onOne File conversion dialog allows you to choose format, bit depth, color space, and resolution.
I usually recommend people work on copies of their files, so that’s what I did for this example. I set up an 8-bit PSD (Photoshop) file, tagged with the sRGB color space (since the original JPEG file used these settings). Once you click OK the image will open into Perfect Effects. We’ll work with the same photo as shown earlier, to give the C-5 Galaxy aircraft a new look—something that emphasizes contrast with a slightly muted but stylized color, hopefully while maintaining an element of realism.
To start, notice the Filter Stack area. Initially, Perfect Effects generates an unaltered base layer from your photo, and then adds an empty (or unmodified) duplicate layer right above it (Figure 10). Buttons are also available for adding and removing layers and blending layers using a series of blend modes that are similar to the ones found in Photoshop.
Figure 10 The Perfect Effects Filter Stack is where you control the layering and blending of effects, including the ability to add different kinds of masks.
The first step is to choose a filter category that you want to work with. Keep in mind that while the order of the stacked filters may impact the look of the shot, you can manually re-stack your layers in any order you like at any time to change that look. For this shot, the first thing I wanted to do was to stylize the colors to emphasize the environment and main subject in a different manner than the original shot.
One thing to keep in mind about the Filters is that you can apply them in one of two ways: use one of the premade Filter settings available from onOne (in the Filters tab), or create an empty layer and then within the Filter Options panel (beneath the Filter Stack), choose a filter type from the pop-up menu. For this example, I chose the “Color Enhancer” filter, which is what generates the “Reduced Color” filter style shown earlier (among other color styles). The available settings are shown in Figure 11.
Figure 11 The Color Enhancer filter provides options for globally adjusting colors, or limiting adjustments to a specific range of hues.
Among the available controls, only the Color Range options provide the ability to target specific colors (and thus specific areas of the image, potentially). Keep in mind also that the first filter you choose will be applied to the aforementioned “Empty Layer” in the stack. So in that sense, you can create multiple layers for a single filter, applying different combinations of settings to each, using masks to allow all the layers to show through.
By default, this filter will apply an “auto correction” when first applied, so I started by turning that off (to give me more control over the final look). For this shot, I wanted to emphasize the blue skies a bit, and de-emphasize colors on the tarmac. So I reduced the Temperature setting a few points to help achieve both ends (since the tones on the ground were more yellowish to start). This added an element of realism as well, subduing the strong orange-like tint from the aircraft (which is actually more of a grey-green color). Next, it made sense (given the nighttime skies) to shift the tint a little bit away from green; this further intensified the blue skies. Figure 12 shows the changes to the sky via the before/after preview.
Figure 12 The Temperature and Tint options are useful for creating subtle color shifts that emphasize one region of the shot more than others.
Next I used the Color Range command to see if I could isolate the warm tones on the aircraft and tarmac. First choose a color. Here Orange seemed like a more accurate option compared to Yellow or Red. When I tested it by turning the Saturation down 100%, virtually all the color left the aircraft and tarmac (Figure 13).
Figure 13 Experiment with the different color ranges by selecting a hue and then make large changes to the saturation to see which areas are impacted.
Seeing that this color channel would work well, I pressed Cmd-Z (Mac) to undo the Saturation change. I needed to create a new Color Enhancement layer to isolate the changes in the sky from those on the ground; otherwise, the changes applied to one area will affect the other. Scrolling back up to the Filter Stack, you can click on the original base layer, then click the New Layer button (the + button) to create a second layer for your filter.
With my new layer selected, I went back down to the Color Range settings, chose the Orange channel again, and reduced the Saturation value to remove most (but not all) of the color from the tarmac. To create the layer mask in cases like this (where the mask boundary is a straight line across the image), use the improved Masking Bug (you can also use it to create vignette-shaped masks). Press M to access this tool, or click on the white rectangle icon in the toolbar. This will reveal the Masking Bug options above the image preview (Figure 14).
Figure 14 The new Masking Bug options in Perfect Effects.
To create a gradient or linear mask, choose the Gradient option from the Type pop-up menu. Click anywhere in the document afterward, and the gradient widget will appear. To control the transition from altered pixels to unaltered pixels, tweak the Feather value as necessary. You’ll see the dashed lines on the Masking Bug expand or contract as you do so. Next, you can move the widget into place by clicking on the circle at its center, then dragging it into place. Click the smaller circle with the two arrows and drag up or down to rotate the angle of the gradient. The masking bug is shown in Figure 15.
Figure 15 The enhanced Masking Bug in Perfect Effects.
I chose a Feather value of 3 to create a small transition zone between the tarmac and rest of the shot. No rotation was necessary in this case, so I dragged the solid (center) line directly to the base of the aircraft tires. The total effect of all the layers to this point (Figure 16), click the top-most layer and make sure all the visibility icons are set to “on” (the icons shaped like eyes are all “open”). Notice the layer mask created by the Masking Bug gradient.
Figure 16 Two Color Enhancement layers (one masked) combine to create an effect not possible with a single filter layer.
The next step in the process was to add some interesting contrast lines to the aircraft and sky, as the front of the aircraft had a slightly flat look to it. To accomplish this, I again selected my base layer and created a new layer. From the Filters tab, I selected the Tone Enhancer filter, which has a range of options for controlling brightness, contrast, details, and also a tone curve. You can also access the filter-specific presets from this area (Figure 17).
Figure 17 The Tone Enhancer filter controls are very useful for revealing hidden highlight or shadow details, and for tweaking overall contrast in the image.
To get a good starting point, I clicked open the Preset pop-up and moused over several of the options. As you do this, Perfect Effects will automatically update the image preview, showing you what each preset looks like. When I moused over Midtone Contrast (which is basically a traditional S-Curve flattened at both ends), it got me very close to the look I wanted. The details on the front of the aircraft were more apparent, and the glowing clouds relatively brighter, as seen in Figure 18.
Figure 18 The Midtone Contrast preset is often a good place to start customizing the contrast and details in your scene.
Next, I zoomed in too 100% to examine the nose of the aircraft and found some slight shadow banding, so I boosted the Shadows control (which recovers shadow detail) a modest amount to smooth out the tonal transitions there.
Figure 19 shows the total effect of all three filters to this point. It’s worth noting that unlike most filters, Tone Enhancer layers will use a Luminosity blend mode by default.
Figure 19 The combination of two Color Enhancement filter layers and one Tone Enhancement layer. Almost done!
To finish the image, I went a non-traditional route and created a new layer for the Dynamic Contrast filter. This filter contains three Clarity-like controls that allow you to modify the Small, Medium, and Large-grained details in the image. So not only can it affect contrast, but if used a certain way it can act like a smoothing (or noise reduction) filter. For this trick, you’ll want to zoom in to 100% because you’re viewing details the same as if you were reducing noise in the shot. Then zero out all three of the Detail settings to see the shot without any effects being applied.
First, I made a large reduction in the Small details. This produced a result close to what I wanted on the aircraft, but it also blurred the cloud details quite a bit. However, because the clouds in the original shot were not uniformly sharp, this didn’t bother me as it actually made the sky look a bit more consistent. Next, a small decrease in the Medium sized details got the aircraft looking just how I wanted. All that was needed was to increase the Large details a bit, to make sure stripes on the aircraft nose and other items continued to stand out.
To further mitigate any banding, I boosted the Shadow setting some to recover the details at the top of the aircraft. The result of the Dynamic Contrast filter layer is shown in Figure 20.
Figure 20 Reduce the Small details and other settings as necessary to mitigate the effects of grain and noise (note you will likely not remove all of it, so don’t go overboard).
From that point, all that was left was to re-activate the previously created filter layers and look at the total result, shown in Figure 21. Notice now we have a starker, blue sky with brighter moon-glow in the clouds above the aircraft, the aircraft itself maintains a nice color while having more contrast with less grain, and the tarmac’s colors are muted, allowing the eye to focus on the main subject areas.
Figure 21 The final image in Perfect Effects, showing the impact of all four filter layers that were applied.
To save the changes you’ve made, click Save & Close. Note that if you hold down this same button, you have the option of saving and then moving the image into one of the other Perfect Suite modules.