All of the postproduction for this project was done in Adobe Photoshop using various plug-ins: DFT-55mm, Nik Software Color Efex Pro 3.0,Digital Anarchy-Knoll Light Factory and Richard Rosenman DOF-pro 3.0.This is a step by step tutorial of making the post for one of the five frames but a similar method was used for the other four.
This is the pure render right from the render machine, there are no corrections.
There are two additional passes with the foreground trees and the grass that will be introduced later in the post production. First thing of all, here is to take all of the color channels from the multimatte elements and literally brake the render into layers for easier color correction. This is a method that we use in every project. There is a color channel for every material in the scene from the leaves of the trees to the various materials of the house. There are total of 84 layers of fine adjustments, color correction, curves, "re-paints" and blurs in the final frame.
The first thing that I did was to generally "light up" the picture a little bit because the original render was too dark. I work the same way every time. First I make a level correction for all the layers, then I start color correcting layer by layer. When I'm happy with the general result, I collapse all the layers and start up some plugins and play around.
The house on this picture has 3 layers on top of the original. I used levels and curves to give it more contrast, also there is a little bit of painting with the dodge and burn tool to enhance the light from the sun and the bounced light at the bottom. That is all, there is nothing more done to the house.
Now the really tricky part.
I put in and color correcte the pass with the displacement grass to match with the rest of the green in the picture, also there is a subtle gradient from dark to white with blending mode set to screen, this will give more depth to the grass. The two foreground trees on the left and right have layers with levels and curves to enhance the contrast. The light was then manually enhanced with the dodge tool. All of the leaves had the dodge treatment. In the original render the leaves are made with sub-surface scattering, so I wanted to enhance that and add an extra simulation of the light scattering effect. In the left upper corner are added some additional branches with leaves. The bark of the big tree on the right is "over-painted" and I placed somewhat cool photo filter in its layer. Some of the leafs in this stage are intentionally over exposed or burned, in the next stage I will reintroduce the original render with opacity set to 20 to dial down the burned area. There is also a warm filter applied to all of the leaves in the scene. The background trees have more pronounced dark areas and a little more light from the sky to simulate real world light reflection, they are also desaturated and cooled a little bit to get the effect of depth. A little bit of vignette effect and level adjustments finish this stage.
Leaves with bokeh effect are added in the foreground, to achieve a similar effect in PS you must find a good Depth Of Field generator, I use Richard Rosenman's DOF-pro it's a wonderful plug-in with a lot of capabilities. In one of the other final pictures there is a branch on focus and the house is fully blurred, there DOF-pro played a big part in achieving the final look. The blur in that frame is made with Z-Depth channel that is loaded as a depth map in DOF-pro, then in the aperture tab the aberration is altered to make the aperture shape. At this stage there is also a curves adjustment layer that affects everything in the scene, the sky is cooled down and a little glow is added to simulate light passing through the leaves. I regularly copy all the layers into a new one on top of them. I do this to preserve layers and previous corrections in case I need to undo. I used DFT 55mm and Nik Software Color Efex Pro for additional color correction.
Here additional layers are added using the plug-ins.
A foreground plant is added also, and blurred with motion blur. A little bit of chromatic aberration is added, the vignette is strengthened to frame the house better. And this is all, this is the final look and feel of this frame.
This is our way of working at RED-VERTEX. We make the post production for almost every static picture in the exact same steps. Everything is subjective when it comes to color correction and post-production because everyone perceives colors differently and sees things in his own way. The main thing is to be critical of your work, and of course learn from the best to become one of them.