Add Some Mischief to Your Holiday Fireplace — DIY Decoration Editing

Guest Written By Robert Holland

AtmosFX offers a collection of marvelous Christmas videos, featuring a wide variety of scenes to set a mood or tell a story. When I put together a projected scene for our company holiday party, I wanted to amp up the interest of our younger guests.

My original scene included a fireplace mantle with roaring flames and smoke images rising up the chimney. The Festive Fireplace is from Santa’s Visit, and the wall display version includes a fireplace hearth and mantle, complete with hanging stockings. This scene is soothing, but not quite right for my purpose.

From the Night Before Christmas collection, there is a scene called Holiday Hearth, which features elves interacting with the flames, preparing the hearth for Santa’s arrival. This scene is for TV and does not include a fireplace or mantle. You are meant run it on a TV within an actual fireplace. I thought these elves would be ideal if they were within a fireplace projected onto a wall.

I will show you how I edited the Holiday Hearth into the Festive Fireplace, using Adobe Premiere Elements and Photoshop Elements. I am certain you could use your favorite editing tools to do the same.

First, remove the hearth portion of the Festive Fireplace. Load the Festive Fireplace video into Premiere Elements and create a still image of any portion of the video. One still is all you need. Export to an image.

To remove the fire and hearth, you must create a matte image. Open your new image file with

Photoshop Elements and create a new layer. Your goal is to draw around the edges of the inside of the hearth, creating a solid shape that fits it perfectly. To do this, zoom in the image and select the brush tool. Default settings are OK at this point.

With the image enlarged, brush selected, and new layer active, place your mouse pointer in the lower corner of the hearth. Shift-click your way along the straight edges of the hearth, making sure to connect the brush strokes together. To trace curved places, you can try freehand drawing, or you can zoom in closer and make shorter straight-line brush strokes.

When done, zoom out, then fill your hearth outline with one color of paint, black or white. Zoom out to make sure your solid shape remains within the hearth. 

Because we are working with video, we do not want sharp edges for this hearth shape—it should blend into the fireplace video seamlessly. While still in Photoshop Elements, select your hearth shape in its layer, and apply a Gaussian blur (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur). 2-pixel blur works very well. For the matte, we need only the bit you created. Delete the fireplace background layer and name the file Fireplace Matte.

Open Premiere Elements and import three files (Add Media): Holiday Hearth, Festive Fireplace, and your Fireplace Matte. Place Holiday Hearth in Video 1 position, Festive Fireplace in Video 2, and Fireplace Matte in Video 3.Select the Fireplace Matte and stretch it across the entire timeline.

Select Video 1 and resize and position it as needed to fit within the fireplace.

Delete Audio 2 because Holiday Hearth will provide all the sound from Audio 1.

With the videos stacked in this order, your matte file will create a hole in Festive Fireplace so that Holiday Hearth can fill that void.

To make this magic happen, select Video 2 and apply the effect named Track Matte Key, using values Matte: Video 3, Composite Using: Matte Luma, with "Reverse" checked.


One final editing tip for success with these two videos: Examine the brick walls of the fireplace while Festive Fireplace is running. You’ll notice the light from the fire flickering off the brick surround. That is fine for when there is a fire in the hearth, but the elves extinguish the fire for much of the Holiday Hearth video. You don’t want your fireplace walls flickering light when there are no flames. To overcome this, snap a still image from Festive Fireplace at a point where the light on the brick is dimmest. Use this “fire is out” still image in the Video 2 position in place of the Festive Fireplace during the scenes where the hearth is dark. When the fire re-lights, start the Festive Fireplace video again. Be sure to use a video fade transition between still image and active video.

That sums up the basic approach. There are many good instruction videos on Youtube for Adobe Premiere Elements. With practice, you can use this technique with AtmosFX videos to put together any scene you like and this is a core skill to develop for projector mapping.

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