Free Video: Quick & Easy White Balance Adjustment

Use blending modes in After Effects or Premiere Pro

A couple of months ago, we released a video training course titled Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects: Enhancing Production Value on spinning the straw clients often give us into visual gold. One of the movies in that course demonstrated a dead-easy white balancing trick that removed color tints from footage using Blend Modes:

The movie above demonstrates this technique using Adobe Premiere Pro CC, but it is equally easy to perform in After Effects. The first part of the trick is to create a full-frame solid graphic that is the color of what should be white in your video, but isn’t. For example, in After Effects you can select the Shape tool, click on the Fill Color swatch, use the eyedropper to click on a region that is the brightest off-white, and then double-click the Rectangle Tool to create a full-frame solid shape of that color. The second part is to then set the Blending Mode of that solid graphic to Divide mode (note that not all video apps that have blending modes support Divide).

Why does this work? If you remember your elementary school math, dividing any number by itself always equals 1. On a scale of 0 to 1, setting the R, G, and B color channels all to 1 will give pure white. So if you take a slightly off-white color, and divide that color by itself, the result is pure white. This same function will also divide out any white shift from all of the other colors present in your image. You can alter the Opacity of the solid graphic to fine-tune the depth of this effect.

Of course, the better solution is to get your color temperature right when you shoot the footage – but quite often, we’re given footage someone else has shot, or a color tint has crept in anyway as a reflection of the sky or other parts of the environment. This is a quick way to fix it.

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Chris and Trish Meyer

Chris & Trish Meyer founded Crish Design (formerly known as CyberMotion) in the very earliest days of the desktop motion graphics industry. Their design and animation work has appeared on shows and promos for CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, HBO, PBS, and TLC; in opening titles for several movies including Cold Mountain and The Talented Mr. Ripley; at trade shows and press events for corporate clients ranging from Apple to Xerox; and in special venues encompassing IMAX, CircleVision, the NBC AstroVision sign in Times Square, and the four-block-long Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas. They were among the original users of CoSA (now Adobe) After Effects, and have written the numerous books including “Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects” and “After Effects Apprentice” both published by Focal Press. Both Chris and Trish have backgrounds as musicians, and are currently fascinated with exploring fine art and mixed media in addition to their normal commercial design work. They have recently relocated from Los Angeles to the mountains near Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

  • ajmetz

    Tried the principle in Boris Red, and found there wasn’t a divide mode in the compositing options, =/. I got a bit closer, by inverting the colour (reversing the colour values), and then trying other compositing modes such as soft light and overlay and add.

    I wonder if there’s a way to do it in Red that’s any easier?

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