Sculpting Clipped Highlights – Roll-offs, Tints, Glows, and Streaks

January 11, 2020

Dealing with clipped highlights is a regular annoyance. Learn how to make these artifacts look more natural & intentional with color grading.

Day 11: 24 Insights In 24 Days – 2020 New Year Marathon!

How to make clipped highlights look more natural or more intentional (in DaVinci Resolve)

It turns out, even in this world of raw & log footage formats, we still occasionally run into blown-out, unrecoverable highlights.  In my day-to-day, I handle a lot of reality & doc content, where blown-out highlights are very common due to poorly controlled lighting conditions. But these issues crop up in commercials and features as well.  Handling them gracefully is a big part of a colorist’s job.

In this Insight, I share a collection of basic go-to techniques I use in Resolve to smooth clipped highlights and integrate them into the scene plus a couple of fun methods to give bright sources, like light fixtures, a bit of character.

Techniques Covered

  • Roll-offs (Y soft clip, Y curves)
  • Tints (RGB soft clip, key + offset, RGB curves)
  • Glows & Streaks (flexible manual method that avoids OFX )

Related Insights

Here’s a list of other great Insights related to highlights:


“Loved Ones” TVC footage courtesy of The Film Bakery

Ursa Mini 4.6k Test Footage courtesy of Blackmagic Design
Download Links:  Balcony Shot  Car Park Shot

Comments and Questions?

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Homepage Forums Sculpting Clipped Highlights – Roll-offs, Tints, Glows, and Streaks

  • Scott Stacy

    Great overview, Peder, and nice a very cool trick at the end demonstrated with the key mixer.

  • Marc Wielage

    Yes, that’s a very imaginative technique for creating what I call the “patented J.J. Abrams” anamorphic lens flares. Very cool idea with a lot of control.

  • Ron S

    fantastic tutorial. It really opened my eyes to some techniques I wasnt aware of

  • Peder Morgenthaler

    Its a fun technique. For more complex flares, I’ll stack a few of these with different shapes colors, all based off the same original key, using node sizing to shift their position. You can really build some interesting light effects that way.

  • Peder Morgenthaler

    Thanks Scott! I’m finding a lot of uses for the key mixer these days.

  • Jason Bowdach

    Very neat technique for creating fun lens flare elements! Love that key mixer trick

  • Seth Goldin

    I think there might be an issue with the downloadable file–I’m not seeing any audio track in the file. Is it only me?

  • Seth Goldin

    This is really, really great. Tons of great ideas here. Thank you, Peder!

  • Scott Stacy

    Cool flare trick. Love it!

  • Kemist G

    love this

  • Daniel W

    I tried to do this effect myself compositing real lens flares I shot separately over a black background, but couldn’t get past the tricky highlight mixing part, the last part with the layer mixer is how you finish it off to look natural. Glad to see this deconstructed!

  • Julian S

    Hey guys, the downloadable video file comes without audio.
    Would be great if you could fix it, thanks.

  • Robbie Carman

    Hey Julian –

    It was working just fine on my end. I pulled it down and played it in a few different players. Refreshed the link by pasting it in again on our back and seems to work just fine too. Can you try again or do a cache reset and see if that solves it for you?

  • Julian S

    Hi Robbie, you are right, thank you!..
    I just downloaded the file again and it’s completely fine now. :]

    First time something like this happened to me… It’s really weird, when I downloaded the video two weeks ago it was only 391mb (full video track, but missing audio track) and the file I just downloaded now has 751mb. Maybe my browser messed something up while caching the download. :s

  • Eric Batke


    It looks like the Film Bakery clip is now gone.

    Edit: nevermind!

    • Patrick Inhofer

      Eric – Did you find that footage? When I clicked on our link for it just now, I’m getting a 500 error.

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