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The Hobbit "Highlight Blooming"

Robbie Fatt

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I'm interested to know how Andrew Lesnie achieved the "highlight blooming" effect throughout the Hobbit trilogy. Did he use a filter (pro mist?), net his lens or was the effect done in post? Either way, the footage is very lovely and it was shot on an old Red Epic camera with Zeiss Ultra Primes.


I had the privilege of talking to Andrew before he passed away at an ACS meeting in Sydney a few years ago, but I never got to ask him how he achieved this effect.




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One way to do it in post is make two copies of the clip and put them on two different video layers


Apply a blur filter to the top layer and then make the whole layer semi transparent try 25% opacity.


The transparent blurred layer will give you your bloom. You can experiment with different amounts and types of blur and level of transparency till you get the effect you like.


If you want to get fancy you can colour correct the different layers differently for different effects or apply a luma key to the top layer so it just blooms the highlights rather then everything.


I pretty much do this on lots of things if i don't have the option of camera filters. If your very subtle its perfect for taking the edge of digital footage without loosing too much sharpness

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Quick test on a photo of my dog Mabel.





Overlay of Gaussian Blur layer:



Trying to get more halation, I tried the "luminosity" blending instead of the "overlay" blend in Photoshop Elements, don't really know what those do but this was the result:


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In the current version of Davinci Resolve, they have a 'glow' filter, which does this remarkably well, and with a great deal of control.


I find it very useful for matching diffusion qualities on shots that have been shot clean for whatever reason.

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