The forecast for the day was rain. Everyone was dreading it. We managed to get through the first look and the ceremony, but on our way to the reception, the heavens opened up and dumped rain on The Club, their beautiful reception venue. The Club is one of the most classic venues in Birmingham. Built in the 1950s it was originally a restaurant that featured a bar, live band, and dancing. Although it's had many facelifts over the decades it has remained the pinnacle of southern charm and elegance for the iron city. I wanted the reception to uphold this quality and also wanted Katie and Luke’s wedding day to be remembered rain free. How could I do that with puddles and grey skies everywhere?
That’s where visual effects come in. VFX isn’t just explosions and monsters. Visual effects is changing the image, usually in After Effects, and can be as simple as taking out a green screen or masking out objects that are in a shot (like wires if someone is flying in a movie). My goal was to tell the story the way we all wanted to remember it.
The first thing I wanted to do was show The Club, that everyone knows and loves, was going to house this warm, fun, and inviting party. That meant replacing this ominous grey sky with the radiant “La La Land” sky that popped out hours later at sunset. I did this simply by feathering a Luma Key and masking out the tree. The result perfectly captured the loving atmosphere we experienced the whole night.
Step two was this wonderful moment I got lucky enough to capture between Katie and Luke. As the camera pushed in, they looked at each other and laughed naturally and softly. The problem was, this adorable moment was lost because the background was entirely white. The sky was, as we say, “blown out”. I’d exposed their faces so I could actually see them but in doing so lost the sky. Later on that night we re-created this same shot when we had that magical sky backdrop but their faces were too dark. After trying a couple different options, I was left with one choice: remove them both and all the umbrellas and chairs manually. This process took about twenty hours total but the result was so worth it.
Finally, I was trying to figure out what their name and date end card would look like. I was tired of doing the typical after effects template with a cute animated floral design. I wanted to really give her something special and classic in alignment with their landmark venue. After having setup that we were at The Club, it just made sense to replace the venue’s old school neon sign with the bride and groom’s name. This was the one thing I didn’t know how to do. A great YouTube tutorial walked me through the process in After Effects. He even provided the font! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-36U3feGtuE)
I share all this because it’s remarkable that we’re finally at a point where these tools are accessible and learning them is quicker and cheaper than ever. The tools are never what matter most though, it’s how we use them. We can harness the power of technology to make it seem as though another rainy day in Alabama was actually a perfectly dry evening under a swirly, cotton candy sky.
My Best, Ezra