How to Lighten a Very Dark Videoby Rob Clarkson
Properly adding light to a dark video is a delicate process that goes much further than simply clicking a button within any given video-editing program. When considering adjusting the light balance of a shot that was not well lit, consider several editing techniques to get the effect desired. Certain methods can be effective but detrimental to overall video quality, while other methods take a little more precision, time and skill but produce far superior results.
The Right Software
Before attempting to edit any footage, make sure you have an adequate editing suite. Plenty of options are available that range from beginner and home use to professional and studio-quality grade. For most daily use and needs, a simple free or preinstalled video editor such as Microsoft Movie Maker, Apple iMovie or Avidemux, will do. If more professional results are desired, consider a higher grade editing program such as Adobe After Effects, AVS or Sony Vegas.
Brightness and Contrast
The easiest way to brighten a dark video clip is to simply increase the brightness and adjust the contrast ratio. This can be done using any free or paid video editing software. More advanced software give you more options, such as specific level adjustment. Simply increasing brightness and adjusting light levels can often granulate an image and decrease the overall quality of your video. Use caution when adjusting a video's brightness if high-quality results are a primary concern.
In most cases, the best way to increase the overall brightness of a video is to adjust the colors rather than the light levels. Fixing a video's white balance and hues allows you to set the mood and make certain images more vibrant and less faded without sacrificing overall quality. Color balance and adjustments enable you to make a video seem brighter without making it look overexposed or granulated, which often happens when simply adjusting brightness settings.
If the video being edited is something that can be reshot, such as a film project or scripted work, consider redoing the scene in better lighting. If the video cannot be reshot, such as a video of a concert or family event, try various editing methods to increase the brightness and go by personal preference in choosing the final look of the project. Take a break from editing your project periodically to prevent eye fatigue. Always consult with others for their opinions throughout the editing process to ensure the highest quality final result.
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