Creating Glow Effects With Continuum Complete

There are several Boris Continuum Complete (BCC) filters that were designed to produce the glow effect that is very popular for sports broadcast and commercial spots. In this tutorial, we will use BCC 5 AE in Adobe After Effects CS3 to give you an overview of the BCC Glow, BCC Colorize Glow, and BCC Glow Alpha Edges filters. These same filters are available for Avid and Apple Final Cut Pro editors with a similar workflow. In addition, the BCC Glow filters are included with RED 4.2, Boris FX 9.2, and Graffiti 5.2.

Apart from being a nice look when applied to just about any clip (even at its default setting), a popular example of the BCC Glow effect is to apply the filter to the tail of an outgoing clip and to the head of an incoming clip. The glow is then animated to generate a white-flash / glow effect, which acts as a very organic transition between the two clips in the timeline.

A second glow look is where objects in an image clip appear to have a glow but the glow color is not based on the pixels inherent in the original clip but rather it comes from a secondary source. We'll create this look using the BCC Colorize Glow effect and the secondary color source in the example that we are creating will be a color gradient generated using the built-in gradient editor within the filter.

The third type of glow that we are going to recreate is when an object that has been isolated from a background with a mask shape or key filter appears to have a contour glow that follows the edge of the mask or key. We'll create this look using the BCC Glow Alpha Edges filter effect.

Glow and Glow Transition Effect

Glow Effect

Let's start by importing the clips for the glow transition effect. The clips that we are using are of busses making their way through the city of London. The whites in the images are well suited to this stylization as are the colors in the reflection of the buildings on the river Thames.

  • Launch After Effects CS3
  • Import the source clip
  • Create a new composition with a length of 5 seconds
  • Drag the source clip from the project window into the newly created composition
  • Preview the clip via PTR (preview to RAM)

After Effects tutorial

Now we'll add the BCC Glow effect to the raw clip

  • Select the clip in the composition
  • Go to the AE Effects and Presets window
  • Twirl down the BCC Effects group
  • Drag the BCC Glow filter onto the source clip in the composition

After Effects tutorial

By default, the effect sill scale the whites in the image to which it is applied, producing a new glow effect. To increase or decrease the effect of the glow, you need only be concerned with two parameters in the BCC Glow filter - Glow Threshold (which determines the start point of the effect) and Glow Intensity (which sets the intensity of the effect and works in conjunction with the Glow Threshold setting.) We'll change the default settings of these two parameters to see what effect they have on the filtered result.

  • Drag the Glow Threshold parameter to the left, towards the 0 value.

After Effects tutorial

Observe that the Glow effect happens earlier in the image and that as we move towards 0 the glow affects black values as well as white values. Setting this parameter value to zero almost, but not completely, makes the image white.

  • Set the Glow Threshold back to the default value of 50

After Effects tutorial

Observe now that the glow is restricted more towards the white areas in the image clip. Setting this value to 100 almost, but not completely, negates the effect leaving just a slight glow in the sky.

  • Drag the Glow Intensity parameter toward the 0 value.

After Effects tutorial

Note that lower values reduce the apparent effect of the glow, and that a setting of zero completely eliminates any visible signs of the effect from the image. Higher values will increase the intensity of the glow effect with a value of 2 or more will blanket the image pixels in contained within the Threshold value in white.

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