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Movie Effects

Movie Effects

Today’s tutorial is based on a special effect I accidentally discovered while playing around with Photoshop on a rainy day. It’s very easy and does not take very many steps to show impressive results. Folks, today we will learn how to make your personal images seem like they are stills from a movie. Sound interesting? Then let’s get started!

For this tutorial, I am going to use the image given below:

This seems like an image of some very cool place. However, as anyone could tell, it’s not exactly what you would call a perfect image. So, first of all, we need to fix this image. To fix the image, we are going to go back to the usual suspects of level adjustment and color balance. We will use level adjustment to give the image some more depth and bring out the shadows so it complements the overall scenery.

To adjust the levels, press Ctrl + l or go to Image, Adjustments, Levels. Here, my goal is to make the image just a little bit darker to make it seem deeper (and I don’t mean that in a new age spiritual sort of a way). I used the settings shown below:

These are the settings I used. Your image should look a bit darker now, but don’t worry, we aren’t finished yet. Now, let’s move on to color balance. Press Ctrl + B or go to Image, Adjustments, Color Balance to pull up the color balance window. Now, there are various effects one can give to this picture, but the effect I am going for here is a warm Hollywood, happy romantic, comedy movie kind of an effect. Which translated in Photoshop language means a lot of red and yellow with a tinge of magenta thrown in. Okay, let me show you how.

I started by working on the midtones first. To give that warm effect, I threw in as much yellow as I could without making the picture look yucky. Put in half as much as red and top it off with just a little sprinkle of magenta. See the settings given below:

Now, click on the radio button that says Highlights. For highlights, I do the opposite for red and yellow. I throw in half as much yellow as the red. For magenta, I do the same thing. Just add a little dollop of it. See the settings I used in the screenshot below:

Your image should already be looking better than it was before. The colors are warmer and should give the image a movieish touch. Do they?! Well, yes, I agree it doesn’t feel like a shot from a movie yet, does it? Oh wait! This is what we are supposed to do in the last step. We’re going to create two strips filled with black color on the top and bottom of the image. Make a selection and fill it with black. Put one on the top and one on the bottom to give it the look of a wide screen movie. Simple! Does it look like a movie now? I bet it does! Here’s what I ended up with:

By using color balance, you can get any sort of a movie effect from the Matrix to When Harry Met Sally to the old westerns. The trick is to experiment. Don’t be afraid to give those sliders some spinning around and who knows what cool effect you’ll discover. Have fun!

~ Yogesh Bakshi