Easy Ways to Brighten Video in After Effects

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This tutorial teaches you two simple ways to brighten video clips in After Effects. You’ll use the Auto Levels and Curves effects to brighten your footage.

Auto Levels in After Effects

To set this up let’s say you already have your clip in your Composition. Now, find the Effects & Presets panel. If you don’t know where that is, go under the Window menu and find Effects & Presets.

After Effects window menu with Effects & Presets selected
Go to the Window menu and select Effects & Presets

In the search box in the Effects & Presets panel type in “levels” or “auto levels”. Select the Auto Levels effect and drag and drop it onto the video layer you want to brighten in your After Effects Composition timeline.

After Effects' Effects & Presets panel with Auto Levels selected
Search for the Auto Levels effect

If your video is dark, which it probably is if you’re reading this tutorial, then when you do this your video clip should automatically become brighter. There’s nothing else for you to do with this effect. To tweak it, you can use the Effect Controls panel but I find the default brightening to work for most simple color corrections.

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A before and after using Auto Levels effect in After Effects to brighten a video clip
Before (left) and after (right) using Auto Levels

Curves to Brighten Video in AE

Another quick method to brighten video in After Effects is to use the Curves effect. Go back to the Effects & Presets panel and now type in “curves”. Take the Curves effect and drag and drop it onto the layer in the timeline.

This time nothing happens by default. Go to the Effect Controls panel and in the Curves graph select the middle of and pull it up and to the left as needed (see image below).

Effect Controls panel in After Effects for Curves effect brightening video
Pull the Curves line up and to the right

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If you’ve read this tutorial and you still can’t figure it out, please leave a comment and I’ll do what I can to help troubleshoot it. But if you can now easily brighten video clips in After Effects, I hope you stick around and check out some of the other After Effects tutorials on my website or consider signing up to get notified about new blog posts and happenings around EVF.

– Josh

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