After Effects White Balance – Two methods compared, Levels and CC Color Neutralizer

Paul Shillito Editing / VFX Leave a Comment

After effects is a great tool for apply all sorts of effects on your video and you can so much with it, however there has always been a glaring omission with the fact that is no dedicated quick and easy white balance tool.

Now to a seasoned pro this is not a problem but to a relative beginner this can seem a bit odd. In Adobe Premier Pro there is the white balance tool within the fast colour corrector,  which whilst not being perfect it does do quite a good job on footage which is not too far out when it comes to the white balance.

However, Adobe After effects is one of those programs that rewards people who spend just a little bit more time in finding out how to do a particular job and white balancing is definitely on of those jobs.

Like they say there is more than one way to skin a cat and white balancing can be done in several ways. The two way I have chosen to use is using the levels and the CC Color Neutralizer. I was going to do Curves as well but this then makes the video even longer and the way Curves work, it adds an extra layer of complication which needs more time to show.

Of the two the CC Color Neutralizer is the easier to get a quick and simple result from but as I showed in the Premiere Pro White Balance video you need to really get in to the inner controls of this plugin to make really get the job done, especially if you have a stronger colour cast.

Youtube video here http://youtu.be/6BX7P_WhCbQ

However the three color pickers do give you a great starting point and once you have the controls for the shadows, mids and highs open its quiet easy to see what is going on.

Levels and it’s more complicated looking cousin Curves are totally manual control, there are no handy color pickers to get you going and as such they can work wonders in the right hands but to the uninitiated they can also makes thing looks a whole lot worse.

One of the main points to remember is that you need either some frame of reference in the scene like a color chart / grey scale or a very good eye and even then,  that can be affected by things like how well you monitor is calibrated or you need tools to show that you are getting the results that you really want.

Although After effects doesn’t have waveform monitors built in like Premiere Pro there is a plugin which comes bundled with After Effects from Synthetic Aperture called Color Finesse and this does have a whole load of wave form monitors, vector scope, levels, curves and more to do color correction with more accuracy.This really need a couple of videos to explain how it all works but there are tutorials out on the web for anyone interested.

And don’t forget you can use these processes in After Effects from within Premiere Pro with the dynamic linking function built in to Premiere Pro so you don’t have to quite out of one program, jump to another and then restart again in Premier Pro.

If you have any questions about the process in After Effects just drop them in the comments below.

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