It’s no secret that glass is highly reflective, and unfortunately, this means that it can produce unintended glare/reflections if shot in a certain way. Removing glare from your videos can be a relatively simple solution, but how do you do it?
You can remove glass glare during filming by using a circular polarizing filter or CPL. This will drastically cut down on visible glare, making the glass appear crystal clear. You can also do simple tricks, such as asking a glasses-wearing subject to adjust their positioning for a better angle.
We will be going in-depth on how to remove the glass glare from your video. If you would like to learn more, we encourage you to read further.
The Problem With Glass vs. Video Production
Whether you are shooting an interview, video review, or making a show/film, there is a lot to consider during the filming process. It may look easy to point and shoot a camera, but you have to watch out for a million things such as the lighting, environment, camera equipment, microphones, etc. If you are new to this sort of thing, then it can be daunting. But as we say: one step at a time!
For now, let’s focus on the first part: Lighting. This is one of the most important factors for shooting video. It will affect how your overall video will look. Most people will perceive a video’s quality based on lighting alone.
An Overview of Lighting in Video Production
Unfortunately, as with anyone who is into video production, getting the lighting right is tricky. It may seem simple on the outside, but there is a big reason why special equipment comes into play for people making professional-looking videos.
Most environments aren’t going to have the best lighting conditions by default. You can have a well-lit room, but professional videos will still require extra help from lighting equipment. If you are filming outdoors, you generally won’t need to be worrying about this, mainly if your outdoor videos consist of exploration or are nature-themed in general.
However, for indoor filming, if you want your videos to stack up against even mid-sized youtube channels in quality, you will want to invest in lighting equipment.
The right lighting can make videos look wonderful; however, additional lighting can also add to new challenges, namely the issue with glare for people wearing glasses or showcasing a glass object.
Why Is Glass Glare a Problem?
It’s not widely known, but oftentimes video producers would prefer to film people who don’t wear glasses than those that do. The reasoning being that a workaround needs to be done to avoid the dreaded glare that glasses produce when light hits them.
Glare can be distracting and make a video appear of lower quality than it is. You might have noticed that you hardly see light glare on glasses when it comes to higher-end video production unless it is intentional or the shot isn’t focused on the person.
For example, if you are filming a video review, during shots where the reviewer talks to the camera, eliminating that glare becomes important during these scenes but not as much when focusing on the product itself. Such as shots that showcase the reviewer using and focusing on the product .ie scrolling on a phone and typing on a laptop.
When it comes to filming a movie or show, things get a bit more complicated since the focus is generally more on the person themselves, and unwanted glare can make certain scenes distracting.
With the power video and photo editing tools available, you can manipulate things as much as you want to make scenes look intended. But anyone who has experience in video editing will tell you that it is time-consuming work when you have to make advanced edits. Furthermore, you have to be precise to make the edits look convincing enough not to be a distraction.
Removing Glass Glare in Editing
What if you have already shot a video and need to remove glare? For static images, this is a relatively quick job, but for video, you’ll need to work frame by frame.
We will be using Adobe After Effects in this example. To be clear, this is specifically for reflections where you don’t want the user to see something, for example, if someone is wearing sunglasses and the camera is visible in the reflection.
- First, you’ll need to create an adjustment layer, two if you are trying to remove reflections from glasses; next, select the pencil tool and draw around the glass; if you have another layer, select it and repeat it.
- After you have drawn around the area that you want to remove reflections, go into masks > Mask 1, and create a keyframe on the path. You want to update the keyframe as the video progresses. If the line you have drawn around the glass follows the video, you can now blur the image.
- Go to effects, select presets, and search for “blur.” Select the camera lens blur and apply it to the reflection you would like to remove. You can change how strong the blur effect is by pulling on the blur radius tab to get the look you want.
- Finally, to ensure that the blur effect is seamless and doesn’t look unrealistic or off. Go back to the mask and adjust the mask feather to around 17 percent. This will blur the outside of the mask to hide any hard edges discreetly.
We have essentially applied a frosted glass type of effect. This is handy if you haven’t prepared beforehand, but it is essential to get the effect to look believable or else it will really ruin the overall quality of your video. If you don’t have a lot of experience with video editing software, it can be daunting at first, but with patience, you will get it down!
How to Prevent Glass Glare
Now, we want to go through some of the preventative measures you can take to avoid hours of work later on.
Removing Glare From Sunglasses
Sunglasses are especially reflective – they can sometimes be like mirrors attached to a person’s eyes! This can be used to a film’s advantage if you want to keep multiple characters in the frame while only showing the person wearing the glasses.
Reflective sun-glasses can also be a problem since they can show things that are not intended to be seen or distracting during certain moments. You could ask the person wearing the glasses to move in a certain way to avoid unwanted reflections, but restricting an actor’s movements is generally not something you want to do unless it is for specific moments.
A really easy solution to removing reflections from sunglasses is to use frosted glass spray such as Krylon Frosting Aerosol Spray Paint. Simply spray both lenses on the outside, wait 15 minutes, and you are good to go.
This will almost entirely remove any reflections, and so if this is what you want to achieve, this is a perfect solution. Do note that this will entirely change the glasses’ look overall, which can potentially be a double-edged sword if you want some reflections to be visible.
Preventing Glare on Regular Glasses
It’s widely known that glasses glare is something people generally want to avoid when on video or in photos. To try to solve this issue, anti-reflective glasses are available. If the person who is being filmed is part of videos frequently, it might be worth investing in these special types of lenses to avoid worrying about angles, lighting, and editing the glare out.
However, it’s worth noting that glass is glass, and glasses that are labeled as anti-reflective can only counter so much glare. If you have a strong LED shining on them, you will still get some amount of glare, if not an enormous amount of it.
To prevent glare fully, you will need to adjust where your lighting source comes from and/or where the person is standing/has their glasses positioned. The thing about glasses is that they are very small sheets of glass, and that glare can be moved out of the way with only slight movements. Finding the sweet spot when filming a glasses-wearing subject is relatively easy as long as you know how to do it properly.
- Angles. Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of an angle change for the glare to disappear. If the subject is facing the light source, you don’t have to move them and compromise a shot; instead, angling the camera differently might be a better option. You can also have the subject move their head in a specific direction to get the glare off of their glasses. Ideally, the lighting should also be slightly high and slightly angled toward the subject.
- Tilting the glasses. Small adjustments can make a big difference. Another simple way you can get rid of glare is to have the subject tilt their glasses slightly, either up or down. This works best for photos, but if all of the subjects are speaking, it can be an effective trick for video shoots.
- Putting the light source behind them. To avoid the light source shining on the subject’s glasses, you can put the source of the lighting behind them if possible. This light source can be anything, the sun, a street lamp, or lighting equipment. This may not be ideal for some lighting conditions, but if you can preserve the video’s quality while having the light source behind the subject, it’s a really good option!
- Using a soft source of light. This is where anti-reflective glasses come in handy. A soft light source means that the lighting covers a large area relative to the subject. The more compact the lighting is, the more glare that will be noticeable.
Here is a video showcasing this very subject. He goes into detail and showcases how lighting and angles can make glare either disappear or become negligible to the point it doesn’t matter.
A particularly interesting part of the video is when he gets into how using a soft light source can create a glare that isn’t distracting when the subject looks around. Some glare is fine, and it isn’t going to impact the video negatively; it’s when you have a concentration of glare darting around on the glasses where it can take away from the video.
These tips are mainly for interview/review types of videos, but they can also apply to other types of video production where glare can be annoying to the viewer or show something that isn’t meant to be seen, such as filming gear.
Use a CPL Filter
Some things are easier to do while filming than if you were to go back and edit it. This is the case when removing glare, but how would you go about doing this during filming? The answer is to use a Circular Polarizer Filter (CPL). CPL filters reduce the amount of reflected light you see, and they have used a variety of scenarios.
One example where CPL is often used is to reduce distracting reflections or reflections that prevent the user from seeing something. One scenario that is a good showcase for a CPL filter is where the sun is shining down on a car window and blocking something the viewer is supposed to see, such as the driver or an item inside the car. Simply activate the CPL filter, make the according to adjustments, and suddenly it is as if the unwanted glare was never there.
It’s also useful in photography to make an environment seem drier than it is. For example, let’s say you are shooting a picture where puddles are present, reflecting a lot of light. A CPL filter will get rid of the distracting glare so viewers can focus on the shot as a whole.
You can also use a CPL filter to make water appear transparent. It won’t make dirty water appear clean, but it can allow the viewer to see what is under the water’s surface by getting rid of the glare covering the surface.
Lastly, you can use a CPL for things other than reducing glare as well. You can change the sky’s appearance, for example, to make clouds stand out more in a shot, or you can turn a bright, sunny day into a deeper blue. You can essentially use a CPL filter to darken the sky and make it appear more saturated overall.
CPL filters are pretty much essential for outdoor photographers and filmers if they want a perfect image, but they shouldn’t be abused. There are times when they can ruin a shot where reflections would be welcome, or a bright blue sky compliments the environment.
A good example of a CPL filter will hamper an image if you shoot a video or image across a lake with a lovely mountain behind it. Most people will prefer the symmetrical reflection of the mountain gleaming across the water’s surface over an image where this reflection either isn’t there or is reduced.
How Do You Use a CPL Filter?
CPL filter is something that you physically apply to a camera lens, and you can get them for both DSLR cameras and smartphone cameras. Once you have it attached to your camera of choice, using it properly is key to getting the best results.
A key thing not to do is point your lens directly at the sun or have it facing away from it when the CPL filter is attached. You will want to maintain a 90-degree angle to get the most out of it.
If you point the lens directly into the sun, it’s not going to do anything. And so if you don’t see a change in your image, this might be the reason why. Similarly, pointing the lens in the sun’s opposite direction won’t allow you to utilize the filter as intended.
Another thing to note is that if you are shooting with a wide-angle lens, you may find that the polarization becomes stronger at one end of the photo than the other; in this case, you will have to find the sweet spot sun is in a perfect position. If you are still getting uneven polarization, it might be best to either not use the wide-lens or shoot when clouds are apparent to break up the uneven effect.
One really neat thing about CPL filters is that they are versatile. You can adjust how strong the polarization effect is with just a twist of the filter itself. You can make the sky as dark or light as you wish, as well as adjust how reflective something appears. This is important because there is a big difference between when the polarization effect is at its max vs. an in-between setting.
If you are trying to achieve a specific look in your shot, you can make the needed adjustments to set the tone.
If you believe you will make good use of a CPL filter, we highly recommend picking one up. It will be difficult and time-consuming to replicate the effects of one in editing, especially if you are trying to reduce reflections. You can save yourself a lot of time at the desk with a good quality one.
How to Choose a CPL Filter
There are a few things to consider before choosing a CPL filter that you should be aware of. Not all of them are created equal, and choosing the right one is crucial to get the best results that you can get.
Choosing the Diameter
CPL filters come in different sizes for placing on multiple lens sizes indicated by millimeters (Ex: 16mm to 300mm+). If you have multiple lenses that you would like to use the filter on, you could buy multiple CPL filters for each of those lenses, but considering how quickly the cost can add up from doing that, it’s not the most financially sound choice to make.
Instead, it is more efficient to buy a CPL filter that matches your largest lens diameter and use an adapter ring so that it can fit the rest of your lenses. By using this technique, you effectively save hundreds of dollars that you can put elsewhere.
Choosing the Brand
Like with most things, certain brands will be more highly regarded than others depending on their track record – it’s no different when choosing a CPL filter. Certain brands are considered trustworthy and high quality by a large consensus, and we recommend sticking with these to play it safe.
Brands such as Lee, Hoya, Heliopan, and Cokin are highly regarded and sell great filters that you can trust to deliver the results you want.
Choosing the Thickness
This is a very important area to consider. If you are not sure what to get, it is best to ask people knowledgeable on this subject due to the many different possible combinations of lenses and filters.
There are two main types of CPL filters when it comes to thickness. One is normal, and the other is referred to as slim/ultra-slim or thin.
These differences matter because, depending on the lens and filter combination, you can end up with footage showing a vignetting effect on the edges, which is obviously not a good thing. Focal length, camera type, and aperture all play a role in how well your filter will play with your specific camera.
As a general rule of thumb, wide-angle lenses will require a slim filter.
And we arrive at the ever so common topic – money. You’ll see a huge range of prices for CPL filters; they can go as low as $30 to up to $200+. It’s easy for us to recommend not to choose a bottom of the barrel filter, they are cheap for a good reason, and they will compromise the image quality of your videos.
A good CPL filter should get you better results than if you didn’t use one (depending on the context), and thus it is always a good idea to go for a trusted brand and spend on what doesn’t sound too good to be true. Cheap filters will have unwanted ghosting, flaring, fogginess, and less effective CPL.
Good polarizing filters typically start at $100, and for most people, this is the sweet spot if you are going to make use of it frequently. As we mentioned above, the right filter will depend on your camera and what your lenses use; if you are unsure, we recommend asking folks who are willing to help you out due to how broad this subject is.
Putting Everything Together
We went over some of the easier ways to prevent/remove glare from videos. You can use a CPL filter to prevent unwanted that so that viewers can see through glass or underneath a body of water, and we recommend having one on hand if you are regularly shooting footage where glare might be a problem. You can also use a CPL filter to provide contrast to your video – it’s more than a one purpose tool!
Just ensure that you get the right filter for the camera and lenses that you have to get the best results, and remember to shoot in a way where the sun is at a 90-degree angle; otherwise, the CPL filter simply won’t work or won’t work to its full potential.
You can also adjust how you shoot. Try different angles, use a different light source, and position said light source in a way where the glass won’t reflect the light at the viewers. If you want to avoid sunglasses’ reflections, using a frosted glass adhesive spray is the simplest way to get rid of glare. It will save you some time in editing while potentially looking more convincing overall.
If you must edit out glare, it can be pretty tricky depending on what the job entails, but if you need to blur out reflections to obtain a more frosted glass type of appearance, this is relatively simple if you know your way around your favorite editing software. The steps mainly consist of blurring the area you want to remove the reflections from and having the traced area follow where the object is going.
If you have a much more complicated task on your hands, such as editing out glare from conventional glasses, this video explains and shows how to do this very well:
Glare can be very tricky to deal with; it distracts the viewers and can even hide things that they are supposed to see – or show them things they aren’t supposed to see. The best way to avoid glare is to take the appropriate preventative measures to avoid spending a lot of time editing it out. Various factors can be accounted for to help with glare
Furthermore, those who frequently shoot video should consider a CPL filter to combat glare and add contrast to their footage. As long as you keep these tips in mind, you should be good to go!
- Expert Photography: What is a CPL Filter?
- Cole’s Classroom: 3 Easy Tips for How to Avoid Glasses Glare in Photos
- DIY Video Studio: How to Avoid Glare on Glasses in Zoom video
- Les Deux Pieds Dehors: How to Choose a Polarizing Filter?
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