Lights and Shadows–A Must-have Plugin for FCPX by Jon Belew
Last week I watched Jon Belew demonstrate his new plugin, Lights and Shadows. It was a brilliantly done demonstration. He’s a very good teacher. (He also offers Skype training services incidentally). Anyway, I’ll link his video below because it’s much more informative than my trial attempt here, but when you watch it I think you’ll agree with me that this is one of the best and most useful plugins ever developed for FCPX. I don’t think there’s even one like it for any other NLE.
It gives you the opportunity to add any one of 6 main lights, a whole bunch of atmospheric lights, and, if you download his Cucoloris plugin (which is currently free), you can add in a number of window effects and even bring in your own custom ones. And, of course, there are a number of parameters on each that are controllable, giving you an infinite number of possibilities.
Why would you need this?
Well, as a run and gunner, I do have and use my lighting kit. But too often the circumstances of available location, backgrounds, colors, etc., are far from ideal. So one does the best as one can in the short time allotted.
I just got it today and played around with it for about 20 minutes.
I took a frame from a recent corporate video where I had that awful combination of bad problems. 1) It was night, so no window light. 2) I was forced to use 3 different light sources (my own 2 LED panels, one of my Floros–because I needed some fill–which the controlled ambient light from windows usually takes care of), and 3) I had to use portions of the overhead florescent lighting, 4) The walls were green (corporate colors) , 5) The interviewee was wearing the same green.
Embarrassed as I am to show it, here’s the original shot out of the camera.
You can see I have a key light up and to his right and a kicker/backlight to his left (because there was no room to properly position a backlight).
I added just enough fill and exposed it so that he was separated from the background which was more or less lit by the overheads.
I then graded it with FCPX Color and Color Finale Pro and got this:
Then I used CoreMelts SliceX Vignette Shape Mask, which looks like this in the viewer (after manipulation):
This was the final look:
Not a bad recovery. I must say, the CoreMelt Slice X Vignette mask is the best on the market and the only vignette that gives you various parameter controls so you can shape it any way you want.
So, for my little test, I took off the vignette and played around with Lights and Shadows. If it was for real, I probably would have spent a lot more time on it to get it just right, but I must say, it was a lot of fun seeing what could be done even on a rudimentary basis. With more practice, I should be able to master it.
Here’s another before and after:
Here’s Jon’s video.
Do watch it. You’ll be impressed, I’m certain.
Here’s his web site. (the plugins are under the ‘FCPX Effects’ tab):