What is Light Wrapping? Tips & Tutorials
Take an in-depth look at the art of light wrapping in post-production.
If you do a lot of keying than you’re probably familiar with the term “light wrapping“. Light wrapping as a concept is easy to understand, but in practice it can be rather difficult to get a perfect light wrap. In the following post we will take a look at light wraps and examine a few easy methods for creating them yourself.
What is Light Wrapping?
Light wrapping is a compositing technique designed to blend keyed out green screen footage with a background plate. When done correctly, light wrapping can really help give realism to your scene. If overdone, it can make your footage look soft and unbelievable.
Often times light wrapping is preformed automatically when using a keying software. However, just like in photography, automatic doesn’t always mean better!
How to Light Wrap
In a nutshell, light wrapping works by softening the hard edges produced when keying out a green screen footage. By adding in a feathered portion of the background to the edges of the keyed subject you can make your scene look more like a composition than a series of layers. Check out the following diagram:
As you can see light wrapping is a very subtle effect that, when done well, isn’t going to be noticed by your audience. The light wrapping layer is merely using the outline of the keyed footage to blur out a small portion of the background. Light wrapping is used to simulate the ambient light that is supposedly casting light onto your subject in the scene. In some circumstances (like mixed lighting) it can be better to use another layer besides your background layer for the light wrap, but it all depends on your scene.
Light Wrap Tutorials
Even though light wrapping is a pretty straightforward concept there is a seemingly endless number of ways to create a good light wrap. The following tutorials illustrate a few ways to tweak and manually create a light wrap.
Easy Light Wrap by Mikey
In this After Effects video tutorial, AE expert Mikey Borup shows us how to create a light wrap using only a few effects including the Set Matte, Fast Blur, and Channel Blur.
Light Wrapping in After Effects
This video created by Marcos Salvi illustrates how light wrapping can be used to simulate lighting, even if it doesn’t use the background layer at all.
A lot of higher end keying applications have light wrapping built-in, including the Keylight software that comes with Adobe After Effects. However, if you want to get stunning light wraps check out a few of our favorite plugins for creating realistic light wraps:
Key Correct is an industry-standard when it comes to light wrapping, noise reduction, and any other key-related feature you can imagine. In Key Correct you will find 15 stand-alone plugins designed to help you clean up your green screen keys. The results are fantastic and you can even get a free trial from Red Giant’s website.
Borris Continuum: Key and Blend
Serving as a small portion of the larger Boris Continuum Complete, the Key and Blend pack gives users of After Effects, Premiere, FCPX, Resolve, Nuke, Media Composer, and even Scratch the ability to preform realistic light wraps with ease. The pack comes with 20 plugins and filters designed to help with the compositing process. Boris is also offering a free trial of Key and Blend so you can use it today.
If you want to learn more about other filmmaking concepts check out the video production section of the PremiumBeat blog. We have hundreds of articles and tutorials dedicated to helping you become a better filmmaker.
Have any other tips for light wrapping? Share in the comments below.