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Halation Effect in DaVinci Resolve 18 (Free and Studio version tips)

Ever noticed a warm, reddish aura around highlights in films? This effect is called Halation.

This visual effect appears when shooting on a film as a red-orange halo near the contrasting boundaries of over-exposed areas, as well as a red glare in the mid-tones. Usually, Halation is produced around bright light sources.

This effect is achieved via classic film lenses and digital cameras don’t naturally produce this effect, but you can achieve it in post-process. If you want to turn your digital clips into cinematic and especially retro style, Halation will do you a great job.  

Free Version

Here’s how to create a Halation effect in the free version of Resolve!

Go to the Color Tab. Right-click on your first node and select Composite Mode>Screen Mode. This mode will help us to select only the bright areas of our clip to highlight them.

Next, go to Effects and search for Edge Detect effect. Select it and apply to the Node.

Now, go to the effect’s Mode and select Grayscale Edges. It will allow us to switch from RGB to the specific color we choose.

Pick the color from the list - the best choice is to pick a cinematic reddish or orange tone. After this, click on the Edge Mask Overlay checkbox to activate it.

Now, go to the Curves menu and customize the curve as shown in the example. The curve should only have the area of highlights, so our reddish color will be applied there.

Here you can also adjust the blur - go to the Blur menu and increase the Blur radius. It will help us to achieve a slight blur, making our Halation more realistic.

Go back to the Edge Detect settings and customize the effect further. Here you can change the Edge Width to make the halo more slight and realistic. Additionally, make sure you set the slight amount of Brightness, because overdoing it will make your reddish halo way too intense.

Our effect is ready!

How to save the Halation as preset?

In case you will need to create a Halation effect in the future, you don’t have to repeat every step by scratch. Here’s the way you can save these settings as a PowerGrade and use them in future clips.

Go to Gallery and click on the Memories and Still Albums menus.

Now, select your Node and click Alt+1(in case it’s the first PowerGrade you’re creating). You’ll see that your power grade has appeared in the Memories list.

Now, get down to the open Still Albums menu and right-click on it. Select the Add PowerGrade Album from the list.

Here, simply drag the effect we’ve created to this PowerGrade album.

Your effect is saved! Now you can name it Halation and quickly apply it to any other video.

Studio Version

The studio version of DaVinci Resolve has a Halation effect itself, which you can apply.

Go to the Color Tab, make the adjustments you need and create the last Node in your tree. Search for the Halation among effects and apply it to the last Node - applying the effect this way will give the best result.

Here you get a bunch of professional color grading settings to choose from to customize the effect better.

Start from picking the Processing the Color Space - it’s a list of film lens presets, providing the original Halation effect. Here you can experiment with different results, or pick a specific lens from the list, for example Sony S-Gamut3.

Now you can customize the effect further by going to the Secondary Glow menu.

Here you can pick the Halation color(the same reddish-orange), and set the Strength, Gamma and Spread of the effect.

The Strength amount calculates the overall glow effect that is applied to your footage. Here you can pick the 0. 660 value, to not overdo the effect and keep it realistic.

The Spread is responsible for the glow effect on your footage and calculates how the highlights will spread. Keep the Spread value approximately at 0.450 to achieve a balanced effect. You can also click on the View Glow Alone button to preview the result.

Finally, go to the Isolation menu and customize the Threshold and Film Saturation Level to your liking. It will give us a complete Halation effect in DaVinci Resolve 18!

To Sum Up

Hope this guide was useful and you’ve created the Halation effect you aimed to - either with free or studio version of DaVinci Resolve. Keep in mind, that Halation is a delicate tool and you can always customize it further, fine-tune colors or duplicate the Node to make it more vivid.

If you’re looking for more DaVinci Resolve guides, check our blog - here we have guides on how to remove objects in both free and studio versions,  color grade as a beginner, replace the sky, add a VHS effect and much more!

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