Light Film Noir Shots with a Projector and Adobe After Effects

Light Film Noir Shots with a Projector and Adobe After Effects
In this tutorial, I'll show you how to create the classic film noir light look... in an unconventional way.

Here's what I'll be using to bring this shot to life: 

Step 1: Setup a Projector

For the first step, I’ll connect a projector to my computer. A projector puts out strong beams of light, which I can use in a variety of creative ways. Don't worry about using something incredibly expensive or huge. I have a little Apeman M4 pocket projector, which is very simple. It is battery operated, has a focus wheel and an HDMI port. 

Light Film Noir with a Projector and Adobe After Effects

Step 2: Create Fake Blinds

To fake the blinds, I’ll create an image consisting of black and white horizontal bars. You can put these together however you’d like, but I’m using Adobe After Effects. This allows me to quickly control the width, opacity, brightness, and other aspects of my fake blinds. I'll use the pen tool to create a basic line shape with a white stroke, and then add a Repeater. 

Light Film Noir with a Projector and Adobe After Effects

Step 3: Haze the Room

Now it’s time to shoot. I’ll set up my Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, which is especially good at capturing images in low light with it's dual native ISO. I'll grab a can of haze (Atmospheric Aerosol) and spray the room. This will help bring out the strong light beams of the projector, making the shot much more visually interesting. Make sure you have good ventilation and follow all of the safety precautions when using any type of haze. 

Light Film Noir with a Projector and Adobe After Effects
Light Film Noir with a Projector and Adobe After Effects

Step 4: Fine-Tune the Look

Again, since I created my fake blinds in Adobe After Effects, I have a number of different ways to adjust the look. I can add a blur to soften the lines up, make them thin via the stroke width, and even control the spacing and brightness. In addition to tweaking things in Adobe AE, I can also simply move the projector around and soften up the look via the focus wheel. 

Light Film Noir with a Projector and Adobe After Effects

Step 5: Add a Person Moving Through the Shot

To up my production value, I’ll add the effect of people moving in front of the light. For this, I’ll grab the pen tool in Adobe After Effects and create a new black shape element. Then I'll animate it to move across the screen, and simply set playback to loop. To add some variation, I can duplicate and retime a number of similar shapes. 

Light Film Noir with a Projector and Adobe After Effects

And there you have it, a cool film noir style shot with a simple setup. If you'd like to download my After Effects project file, go here. Have any other ways to create the style? Let us know in the comments below.      

Disclosure: Boone Loves Video is a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide means for individuals to earn advertising fees by reviewing and linking to products.

Your Comment

4 Comments

So this is an incredible idea, but the accountant part of my brain asks,"How is this a better ROI in terms of time & expense?"
Besides the Adobe license, is is cheaper and faster to purchase the projector and invest in the 1/2 hour of digital prep, than just using a practical effect of fresnel & window blind, attached to two tripod stands?

September 17, 2020 at 10:10AM

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Bob Sirwaitis
Videographer/Editor/Director (Semi-Retired)
79

I suppose that would depend on whether or not you already have a fresnel, window blind, and two tripod stands at your disposal :)

I think it's a neat trick that could be applied lots of different money-saving ways!

September 17, 2020 at 11:21AM

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Cameron Sprinkle
Videographer
169

This is brilliant!!

September 17, 2020 at 11:13AM, Edited September 17, 11:13AM

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Zach
103

Whao, thank you very much

September 18, 2020 at 6:05AM

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Tommie Marshall
Writter
1