Faking HDR Timelapses

I spent a weekend in upstate New York last fall, shooting almost exclusively time lapses.

Upon editing the footage, I found myself struggling with contrast corrections.  Many of the shots had to have shadows brightened, which blew out the sky.  I could have shot HDR, but that opens a whole new realm of workflow problems, not to mention triples my images.

As usual, After Effects provides the solution.

I precomposed the layer, then duplicated the precomp.  Each precomp got its own individual color grading, one focusing on shadows, the other on highlights.  Then, in the main composition, I simply masked out the appropriate places, such as the sky.  The result is a fairly convincing portrayal of HDR in an easy to digest workflow.

While this process isn’t a replacement for true HDR, it is a useful workaround for those times when you can’t handle the image load or the workflow.  It’s fast, easy, and work great.

 

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