The art of sky replacement can be broken down into two main areas. One is salvaging footage to correct for over or under exposed skies (or skies that jut don’t look attractive). The other is for turning normal skies into something unexpected or supernatural to create a new look and feel. You see artists use sky replacement techniques in both videography and photography, but the concepts remain the same.
Here are some of the best tutorials and breakdowns for using sky replacements in your medium of choice.
If you’re familiar with editing photos digitally, you’re probably using the industry standard — Adobe Photoshop. If you’re new to the platform, I’d recommend diving in through Adobe’s online tutorial portal to learn the basics. However, once you’re up to speed, executing a more advanced edit like sky replacement can be a bit intimidating without some explanation — like from this video below.
Like Photoshop, Lightroom is another Adobe program that specializes in digital imaging. However, unlike Photoshop, which is more graphic design focused, Lightroom is much friendlier for the photography-minded. That being said, here’s a great tutorial that shows you how to sky replace in Photoshop while using Lightroom to further develop and touch up your composite image.
Final Cut Pro X
Moving outside of photography and into video, Apple’s Final Cut Pro X has been an industry staple for years. While not quite as popular or powerful as its Adobe counterparts Premiere Pro and After Effects (more on those below), FCPX is a great resource for beginners looking for a more intuitive and quick video editing platform. In the same vein, doing a sky replacement is quite simple.
Adobe Premiere Pro
Premiere Pro is a timeline-based video editing program considered by many to be the best (and most popular) non-linear editing software. It’s not as quite well known for its higher end graphic capabilities, but using the right tools you can still complete advanced techniques like sky replacement if you don’t have After Effects as an option.
Adobe After Effects
If you’re dealing with video footage that you’d like to salvage or enhance, your best best will be to edit in After Effects. When it comes to moving footage that requires tracking and motion, After Effects will be your best tool to analyze and create new layers in your composition. Here are two tutorials that break down how to work with salvaged footage to make it look natural, as well as a behind-the-scenes on how to create a supernatural skyscape.
Top image by Sergey Shubin