Thumbnail blending options part 2

Blend modes part 2


This is the second part of the blending options blogpost. Last time we talked about the options Darken through Darker Color, now I would like to discuss the options in the area below: Lighten, Screen, Color Dodge, Linear Dodge and Lighter Color.


Blend modes


Intuitively, I often use the blending options as found in Adobe Premier and After Effects, or Blend Modes. The options, in the Lighten area of the dialogue box, allow you to make the dark area’s vanish on the layer you are working on, leaving the lighter area’s untouched. In fact it is the opposite of what happens when you use Darken.

Where with Darken the darker tones prevail, with Lighten this is quite the opposite. Dark tones disappear, the lighter tones remain. By using the colour/black&white pallet which I made, you can clearly see what happens.

Basic still shotUngraded Wide shot made in Cholula Mexico

color palet 2Colour/Black & White pallet


With the colour pallet placed above the video layer, blend mode set to Lighten, you’ll see the blacks and greys start to disappear. In general all dark tones will start to fade. The whites and bright yellows will remain. Nowadays, shadows in pictures and video will often be colored and brightened to create a vintage look. This option is ideal, if you want to achieve this look. If I were to place a dark red layer above the video layer, all the shadows will become lighter and have a red hue.


Color layer opacity set on 50%
Above you can see the original frame. Below you can see the same frame but with a red colour filter which gives the shadows a red hue and makes them lighter. The lighter colors, like the white clothes of the woman remain “unharmed”.



The blending option Screen is the direct opposite of Multiply from the Darken area. Screen preserves the brighter tones and the darker tones become more transparent or disappear.
Black disappears, colours and lighter parts remain. That’s why Screen is often used with film burns. In this video you can see how it works:



Color Dodge

Color Dodge achieves an even brighter effect than Screen. Color Dodge, as the name hints, amplifies the colours between two layers and decreases contrast. Though it can be a nice filter for your shot, it is also a very strong effect. Apply it with care, except perhaps when your filter is of a dark tone. As you can see in the image above, the darker colours only change a little, the lighter ones, however, are too bright.

The colour matte, which I have placed above the video layer, has been cropped to a strip, so you can clearly see how it effects the image. Not only does it colour, it makes the image lighter as well. The great thing about Color Dodge is that black remains black.

How to make a dull grey sky colorful with Color Dodge:
Again cropped half way so you can clearly see the difference.


Linear Dodge (Add)
Linear Dodge increases brightness and basic colours, depending on the quantity of the blend colour. The difference can be seen with Color Dodge:
Above blend mode Color Dodge is featured and below you can see Linear Dodge, both with the same filter. You can see that the dark leaves have become lighter and have more colour, in fact the colors are even a bit brighter than with Color Dodge.
This option kind of works the same way as blend mode Screen, however with Linear Dodge the tones are even more saturated. Great, nice to know all these comparisons, but what can you do with this knowledge? Good question.

Of al the options in the Lighten category, this is the one which colorizes and lightens the most but blends the least. You can use this blend mode if you have some footage of smoke with a black background like this:

The smoke layer is set to Linear Dodge, opacity set to 65%.
For some reason, smoke has appeared in the hall where three men are watching a kidnapped woman. You can also achieve this effect by using Screen, however when using Linear Dodge the smoke becomes a little brighter.


Lighter Color
When using lighter Color, Premiere calculates which colors are the most bright of the two layers. These will then become more prevalent in the frame.
As seen clearly here, the bright colors to the left of the centre cover everything except several white flowers. The darker tones disappear except where the source video is darker.

By using the option Lighter Color, you can achieve a similar effect as double exposure in photo camera’s. The lighter are remains, the darker area of the picture disappears. You could use it, for instance, with shots where the background is completely dark or where only a silhouet can be seen in front of a light background.

It is a distinctive look, perhaps a bit strange even and doesn’t make it any more realistic. If your film or videoclip is more about effects than reality, these options are perfect to fiddle about with.

This concludes part 2 of the blogpost about blend modes and blending options in Adobe Premiere (and Photoshop, After Effects and Final Cut). I hope it has been of great use to you and that possibilities which can be achieved have become more and more clear.

If you are familiar with the opening credits of True Detective, please do check out how they made this super cool sequence at A lot of techniques have been used to achieve this work of art, however, the idea of using double exposure as explained in this post remains the same.




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