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Creating Video Effects in Premiere 6.5

Premiere's popularity stems in part from its myriad exciting video enhancements. They come in two forms: video special effects and motion video effects. In this lesson author Jeff Sengstack introduces video special effects, demonstrates how you gradually can change one or more effects over time, and how to put video clips in motion.

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This chapter is from the book

Premiere's video effects give you more ways than you can imagine to jazz up your video and dazzle viewers. You can put clips in motion, distort them, shrink them, fly them across other clips, and change their color, style, and overall appearance.

You can apply these effects—video and audio—gradually over time or immediately. You can combine effects. For instance, you can "posterize" a clip, flip it around, and fly it off screen. It's a cliché, but it applies—the only limit is your imagination.

The highlights of this hour include the following:

  • A brief introduction to video effects

  • Using keyframes to change audio and video effects over time

  • Applying motion and changing clip shapes

Introducing Premiere's Video Effects

This hour marks the beginning of a three-hour "video effects" section. Premiere 6.5 ships with 79 effects, and dozens more are available from third-party providers.

Take a quick look at the Video Effects palette. I've illustrated part of that palette in Figure 11.1. (The screen resolution would have to be set to 1280x960 to display all the effects.)

Figure 11.1 The Video Effects palette.

As a convenience Adobe created 14 categories to organize these video effects, but you'll find that one category can sometimes seem a lot like another, and video effects in different categories can be very similar.

You'll notice there are two Video Effects icons: the one with the V is a standard Premiere Video Effect, and the one with the number 4 is an Adobe After Effects–created effect. We'll look at the AE effects—they tend to be a little wilder and more involved—as well as the After Effects software in Hour 13, "Wrapping Up Effects with After Effects."

You apply video effects much like audio effects, by simply dragging and dropping them to a video clip or the Effect Controls palette for a selected video clip. As with audio effects, you can add multiple video effects to a single clip. But unlike multiple audio effects, adding more than one video effect to a clip sometimes has surprising and unpredictable results.

I'm going to have you briefly try out a few video effects just to get an idea of their variety and value. Then I'll ask you to put them aside while you tackle keyframes and motion/shape settings.

Task: Convert a Clip to Grayscale

I'll begin with Premiere's simplest video effect—Black & White. It converts any clip to grayscale (shades of gray). Follow these steps:

  1. Add a brief video or linked video/audio clip to your timeline. Select the video portion of that clip by clicking it with the Selection tool.

  2. Open the Effect Controls palette.

  3. Open the Video Effects palette by double-clicking its tab in the Transitions/Effects palette.

  4. Open the Image Control file folder and drag and drop Black & White on the clip on the timeline or to the Effect Controls palette. As with audio effects, this action adds the video effect name to the Effect Controls palette. I've illustrated this in Figure 11.2.

Figure 11.2 After the Black & White video effect is applied to a clip, it appears in the Effect Controls palette.

The Black & White video effect happens immediately. The video image in the Program Monitor screen shifts instantly to a grayscale image.

You may note that the Black & White video effect has no options. It's either on or off. In this case, because the little f is visible next to its name, it's on.

Alt/Option-scrub through your clip to see the Black & White effect "in action."


If you want to see video effects in real time, you have two options:

  • Use the time-honored Alt/Option-scrub method.

  • Try Premiere 6.5's new real-time preview. Shift+Enter will play back your clip with the video effect applied. It may be a bit jumpy, depending on your system power.

Note that if Preview to Screen is on in the Project Keyframe and Rendering settings, then Shift+Enter will build a preview file. In that case, simply using Enter runs the real-time preview.

You may recall from Hour 7, "Adding Audio," that if you don't have too many audio effects, you don't have to render (or preview) the clip to hear it. That's not the case with video effects. You need to preview or Alt/Option-scrub to see them.

Task: Try the Camera Blur Video Effect

Black & White is as basic as Premiere's video effects get. To move things up a notch, try the Camera Blur video effect:

  1. Remove Black & White from the Effect Controls palette.

  2. Open the Blur file folder and drag and drop Camera Blur onto the timeline or the Effect Controls palette.

  3. This effect has one control: Percent Blur.

  4. Click Setup to view the Camera Blur Settings dialog box.

  5. Move the percentage slider to see its effect in the Preview window (see Figure 11.3).

Figure 11.3 Camera Blur has only one option—Percent Blur.


When you preview an effect in its Settings window, the image displayed is always the first frame of the video clip. You can have Premiere display a different frame. Move the edit line to that frame, right-click (Windows) or Option-click (Mac), select Set Clip Marker, and then select 0 Poster Frame.

As with most video effects (and audio effects), Camera Blur has a keyframe option—the little grayed-out box next to the f. I'll explain keyframes in a few minutes.

Experiment with the following simple video effects:

Facet—Found in the Pixelate file folder, this effect is reminiscent of Gauguin paintings. It creates a smooth oil painting–like effect by clumping together pixels of similar color values. As with Black & White, there are no options.

Crystallize—Found in the Pixelate file folder, this effect creates a distorted mosaic by placing adjacent pixels into solid-colored polygons. Choose a value from 3 to 300 pixels per polygon. A setting of 5 works nicely.

Pointillize—Found in the Pixelate file folder, this effect is reminiscent of a Seurat painting. But even at the lowest setting (3), the chunky points don't match his fine style. Pointillize does work well with landscapes.

Replicate—Found in the Stylize file folder, this effect divides the screen into tiles and displays the whole clip in each tile—from a 2x2 grid to 16x16.

Solarize—This effect is found in the Stylize file folder. By blending between a negative and a positive image, Solarize makes your clip look like film briefly exposed to light during developing. A setting of 0% leaves your clip unchanged, whereas 100% turns it into a negative image.

Before moving to keyframes, I want to take you through a few more basic-but-useful effects.

Task: Apply the Spherize Video Effect

The Spherize effect distorts your image, making it look like someone's pushing a basketball against it. Here are the steps:

  1. Remove Camera Blur from the Effect Controls palette.

  2. Open the Distort file folder and drag and drop Spherize into the Effect Controls palette.

  3. As shown in Figure 11.4, this video effect has one numeric value and an additional control: Mode. Adjust these as desired. Here are some points to keep in mind:

    • Adjusting the Amount setting from –100 to +100 either "pushes" or "pulls" the clip into a spherical shape.

    • Under Mode, you face three options: Normal, Horizontal Only, and Vertical Only. Normal looks like a ball, whereas Horizontal Only and Vertical Only expand out and squeeze in along their respective axes.

    • The little buttons (+ and -) beneath the preview window let you zoom in on or away from your subject to more clearly see the change in shape, but this does not affect the final effect.

    Figure 11.4 Spherize offers two options to create the appearance of a basketball pressed against your clip.


    Many times a video effect's Settings dialog box offers no more options than those listed in the Effect Controls palette. So why bother using the Settings window? One advantage is that it usually has a preview window. The disadvantage is that this window, by default, displays only the first frame of your clip (unless you've changed the poster frame).

    If you use the Effect Controls palette, the Program Monitor screen displays whatever frame is beneath the edit line. As you change the Effect parameters in the Effect Controls palette, the results appear promptly in the Program Monitor screen.

Take a look at three other effects from the Distort file folder:

Pinch—The "pull" move squeezes/pinches the center of the image. The "push" move bulges out the image like Spherize.

Shear—This is the "fun-house mirror" effect. It distorts your clip along a line that works much like the Path Text tool. Drag the line's two endpoints around the perimeter of the box, create "handles" anywhere on the line, and drag and contort that line. The effect of your handiwork shows up immediately in the preview window.

Zig Zag—You can create pond ripples and other radial effects with Zig Zag. The Amount setting (-100 to 100, with 0 being no distortion) represents the magnitude of distortion and the reflection angle. Ridges is the number of ripples (direction reversals), and Style sets the general appearance (Pond, Out from Center, or Around Center) .

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