Pro Tips, Tutorials

How to Make Objects Appear to Move on Their Own in Premiere Pro

Like much of the world, I have happily binge watched Stranger Things, spending a considerable amount of time dreaming about what it would be like to live in the world of the show. Without spoiling too much for those who haven’t yet gotten around to watching it (what are you waiting for?), I created this tutorial for a Stranger Things inspired “telekinetic” effect that can be accomplished with a simple combination of props and Adobe Premiere Pro.


Filming and Equipment

To accomplish this effect, you need to film two scenes of the same exact shot: 1) A shot without any actors in frame and 2) a shot with your actors and object in place. The key here is that you don’t want the tripod or camera to move at all.

You’ll need a camera, a tripod, a boom pole (or broom), and fishing line (to connect to the object you want to move). Here is the exact kit I used. I also used two LED lights to help light the scene, but use what you have.

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Cut roughly four feet of fishing line and connect one end to the object you want to move (in my case, I used a Joby GorillaPod as my object). Tie the other end to the tip of your boom pole. If you don’t have a boom pole, you can use a broom pole or rake.

Frame up your scene and hit record. Have a friend or assistant off-screen holding the boom pole above the object, ready to go. After you say “action,” have them slowly lift the object from the surface and move it toward the actor performing “telekinesis.”

Fishing line connected to and above the GorillaPod

After you film a couple of takes, tell your actors to move off-frame and record about 30 seconds with no one in the frame, so you have an empty shot.


Creating the Effect in Premiere Pro

There is no need to use After Effects for this type of effect — it can easily be accomplished with Adobe Premiere Pro. First, you need to layer the two shots on top of each other in the timeline. Place the shot with noone in it on video layer one (v1) and the shot with the object and your actors on layer two (v2).

Next, use the Opacity Mask tool to create a mask around the fishing line on layer 2 (v2). You will need to invert the mask, and I’d recommend adding some feathering (about 40px).

Next, keyframe the mask to move with the fishing line as the object moves. This will remove the line from your shot, making it appear as if the object is moving on its own.

80s Film and VHS Effects

If you want to give the video more of an 80s feel, I used some plugins to accomplish this. First, I added a FilmConvert plugin that gives the video a film-like quality. I chose an FJ 8543 VD film stock with the plugin.

Finally, I applied a Red Giant Universe VHS effect to both video layers. I changed the preset to “Clean VHS,” used the “VHS” tape style, and kept the original 16:9 frame style. You can also use a 4:3 film style, but it all depends on the framing of your scene. I needed to keep mine at 16:9.

And that’s it. Pretty simple, right? If you have any questions about how to achieve this effect, just leave a comment below. Also, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel, Premiere Gal, where I post weekly video editing and production tips to help you create better videos.