Overwhelmed by Premiere effects? Here are the five most important!

Premiere Pro! It sure is… powerful.

Just look at all these features. Mountains of effects. Transitions. A really awesome titler. Context menus! Windows upon windows!

It’s hard, really, to not feel like you’re missing out. I mean, just the effects alone. What do they all do? And where’s the stuff you actually need? Most of the time, all you want to do is get rid of some noise. Or make your footage a little more colorful. Seems like you can’t accomplish the most basic tasks without going on a treasure hunt, and going hunting isn’t very fun when you’re on a deadline.

Fortunately, you don’t need to know the function of every single effect. For simple videos, you can solve the most common problems by understanding only a handful. In fact, we’ve narrowed them down to five. Without further ado, here they are!

 

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Transcript

Premiere Pro. It sure is… powerful.

Just look at all these features. Mountains of effects. Transitions. A really awesome titler. Context menus! Windows upon windows!

It’s hard, really, to not feel like you’re missing out. I mean, just the effects alone. What do they all do?

Most of the effects you know are the ones you just kind of stumbled onto. You needed to fix the white balance, aaaaand… the channel mixer sort of did the trick.
And then there was that one time you wanted to pull off a “faded” look, and… well, it took a combination of Brightness & Contrast and three instances of Channel Mixer, but… I mean, that’s sort of faded, right?

Honestly, all those knobs and sliders and tiddlywinks? The sheer volume of stuff you could apply to your footage? All those options? They don’t really make you feel powerful. Mostly just overwhelmed. Enough to make you want to switch to something simpler.

Where’s the stuff you actually need? Seems like you can’t accomplish the most basic tasks without going on a treasure hunt, and going hunting isn’t very fun when you’re on a deadline.

Fortunately, you don’t need to know the function of every single effect. For simple videos, you can solve the most common problems by understanding only a handful. In fact, we’ve narrowed them down to five:

  • Lumetri Color
  • Threshold
  • Luma Curve
  • Dust & Scratches (alternatively, Remove Grain in After Effects)
  • Warp Stabilizer
  • Correcting imperfect shots

    Let’s say you’ve got a shot that just looks… off. Maybe it’s a little underexposed, or the white balance is off. Maybe you didn’t realize you were shooting under a bunch of green-tinted windows. Or maybe it just looks kind of washed out.

    Do you need a different effect for each kind of problem? Nope! You just need this one: Lumetri Color.

    See, Adobe has this habit of keeping every effect they’ve ever made inside their programs forever. Before Lumetri, you had to use Curves or Levels to change the brightness, Color Balance to raise the saturation, and so on. In other words, a lot of these effects do almost the exact same thing. There’s a ton of overlap.

    Now you have tools like Lumetri, which can do pretty much all of these other effects combined. Spend your time learning to use the one tool, and unless you’re doing something really niche, you can mostly forget about the others.

    So, how do you fix an underexposed shot? Use the Exposure parameter. Use the Color Temperature parameter to fix white balance. Use the Tint parameter to change the tint! And raise the Saturation if your footage is looking washed-out.

    Stylistic color correction

    Which leads me to the next problem: what if you want your footage to look washed-out? Or what if you want it to look like film? Or maybe you’re thinking that the background is too vibrant and those skin tones need to stand out more?

    Once again, Lumetri is the way to go.

    If you want your footage to look like an old 60’s noir film, choose an old 60’s film stock!

    And if you want to do some artful color-correction, the Hue and Saturation wheel is my favorite way to do that without getting bogged down in perfectionism.

    Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 3.57.57 PM

    If the skin tones are a little too pale, raise the saturation on those reds! Subdue that bright purple background. Make the grass look greener!



    Now, using this wheel does take some practice. But once you’re good at it, you can color correct quickly. No masks or stacked effects or endless tweaking required.
    There are two caveats to using Lumetri. One, for all you CS6 holdouts, you’re kinda SOL. It wasn’t introduced until Creative Cloud. But you can get some of the more basic effects using the Fast Color Corrector.

    The other caveat is that it can take a while to render. So, to save a bunch of time, make sure you disable every group of effects you’re not using.

    Recovering bad shots

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one. You set up a camera to use as a wide-shot backup, and then you went off and got a bunch of other shots. And then the light changed.

    When you went back to look at that camera?



    You can’t use this! It’s ruined!

 Or is it?

    The first thing you need to do is find out how much information has been lost. I do this using the Threshold effect.

    Set the level to about 240 out of a maximum 255. All these solid colors are the parts of the image that, sadly, you can never get back.

If the image looks like this, there’s not much you can do. But if it’s only a little bit blown-out the Luma Curve feature might be able to help you!

    Apply it to your clip, put a point right about here…

    …and drag it down to streeeeetch those colors downwards. Adjust it until it looks about as natural as you can get it. It’s not perfect, but it’s about as good as you can get without starting over again.

    Oh, and if you don’t want to remember another plugin, Lumetri has a curves function too.

    Removing grain

    Unfortunately, the only really good grain removal tool in the Adobe suite is called Remove Grain, and… you can only use it inside After Effects.

    Now, you can always replace a clip with an After Effects composition, set up the Remove Grain effect, and see the result in your sequence. But if you’d like to keep everything inside Premiere, the Dust & Scratches effect can be quite helpful.

    Although, to be totally honest, Remove Grain is probably worth the extra step, especially with Temporal Filtering turned on. Just be warned that this may add significantly to your render time.

    Stabilizing footage

    And, of course, no list of essential Premiere effects would be complete without Warp Stabilizer. If you want to make your handheld shots a little less vomit-inducing, slap some Warp Stabilizer on there and enjoy rock-steady footage.

    So, with the effects we’ve just gone over, you should be able to fix most of the problems you’ll encounter on a day-to-day basis. But what if you need to get a little more advanced?

    • What if you’re making a how-to video and you need to draw attention to something on the screen?
    • What if you need an easy-to-reproduce Ken Burns effect?
    • Or you need to superimpose an image on top of a computer screen?
    • Or you need a professional-looking green screen effect?
    • And once you have your effect on one clip, do you really need to go through and change the settings on every clip?
    • And what if you just really want to know what every single effect does?
    • Those are the subjects of the next two parts of this series, which should arrive in the next few weeks! If you’d like to be the first to know when they’re done, sign up for our newsletter at the end of this video! That’s all for now. Thanks for watching!

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