Tilt-Shift Lens Effect in Apple Color

Tilt-Shift Lens Effect in Apple Color

You may be asking, “what is a tilt-shift effect?”  If so, take a read on wikipedia here.
First off, if you want the tilt shift effect in your video, it all starts with the right shot.  Since the goal is to make your footage look like a miniature, your subject needs to be distanced from the camera.  This won’t work very well on regular or macro shots – you need the distance.  I think this has something to do with the way we perceive miniatures.  Think about it:  Miniatures  are small.  They are also typically painted with bright colors, so some saturation will help this effect.  Also, I think our eye is typically focused on one area and naturally everything else is out of focus.  All of these are principles we want to replicate in our shot.
For our test, we went downtown and found the tallest parking garage.  Parking garages are great for this effect because they are always open and don’t have windows (that equals lots of great places to put a camera and tripod).  In this example, we used time lapse footage, but it doesn’t have to be.  If you have the option to speed up the footage, I think it helps the effect because smaller things tend to have greater speed and less inertia.  Alright, enough with the setup, let’s move on to getting that effect in Apple Color.
Unless you have major correction to do, we will really only be working in the Color FX room.  If you don’t have sped-up footage, you might try taking it into your editing program and speeding it up a bit.  Once you are in the Color FX room, you want to add the following 4 nodes:  blur, alpha blend, vignette and output.  You may also want to add a saturation node if your footage doesn’t have much color.  Structure them in the following way:  Connect your Blur node to the left input of your Alpha Blend node.  Connect your Vignette to the right input of the Alpha Blend node.  Be sure not to reverse this or you will get a totally different effect that is–not good.  Connect the output of the Alpha Blend node to your Saturation node (if you choose to use it).  Do not put your saturation node higher in the node tree or you will adversely end up affecting only the vignette or the blurred portion of the image.  The last connection is to go from your saturation or alpha blend output to the Output node.
Now for the fun part – start tweaking your parameters to get the look you want.  Your Vignette is going to be the control point for your Blur node.  In other words, only the area outside the vignette will be blurry.  I find that a blur between .75 and 2.0 works well in most cases.  You don’t want to go too heavy on the blur or it ends up just looking like you have a dirty lens.  On the same side, don’t go too light on the effect or you lose your focal area.  Next, adjust the settings of your Vignette node.  I should mention that a shot with a horizontal subject works better than a vertical subject for this effect, so you will want to adjust the aspect of your vignette to be more horizontal (blurring mostly the top and bottom of the image).  You will also want to add some softness to the vignette as hard edges will ruin the effect.
If you want to see your results as you tweak individual parameters, double-click on the Output node and then single-click on the node you want to adjust.  This will keep the Output node in the preview window while allowing you to tweak individual settings for each part of the effect.
All of a sudden, I’m having flashbacks to Mister Rogers Neighborhood.

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