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How to Use Premiere Pro for Compositing Simple VFX Shots


Not skilled in After Effects or just trying to knock out a quick VFX shot in Premiere Pro? Here’s some tips on compositing inside the NLE.

Did you know that Premiere Pro actually has some pretty good compositing tools built into the app? It makes it easy for beginners to learn how to do some basic VFX like masking and layering clips.

I teamed up with Todd Blankenship from Am I A Filmmaker? to create some small DIY VFX shots that you can easily create at home. We used some models, toys, and all sorts of greeblies to create everything from a futuristic sci-fi city to and dinosaur-filled landscape.

Some VFX shots were at simple at setting up mini-cities and then adding elements, others were the classic green screen removal with background replacements.

In this video you will see how we built a miniature city in the office, captured it in camera, and then used that as our background plate for a VFX shot.

How to Remove Green Screen and Composite in Premiere Pro

Once inside of Premiere, add your green screen footage to the timeline. Here’s a quick look at the background plate on the left, and the layer we want to composite on the right. Open the Effects panel and search for the Ultra Key tool.

Add the Ultra Key to the footage clip with the green screen. Remove the green screen using the ultra key effect using the matte generation and matte cleanup tools. Make sure to remove any hard edges with softening. You can fine tune all of this in the Effects Control panel.

Once you have a clean key, put your background footage underneath your green screen clip. With the keyed layer on top, you should now see your background underneath. Don’t worry if the colors don’t match up perfectly. Let’s clean that up next.

In Effects, add a Lumetri effect to the top layer. Next, in the Effects Control panel, use the curves drop down in them lumetri effect to color correct the foreground layer to kind of make it match the background better.

For this shot, we wanted the background to be out of focus, so in the Effects search for Camera Blur. Apply it to the background bottom layer and use the camera blur effect to get a nice out of focus background.

Finally drop an overall color correction on top of everything to get it all married together.  You can add an adjustment layer on top of both clips, add another Lumetri to the adjustment layer and fine tune the look of the entire shot. And there you go.

That’s how easy it is to get started with compositing in Premiere Pro.

For some more overlay methods in Premiere Pro like keying multiple elements and layers together to create moving scenes, check out this quick tutorial we put together for our friends at Adobe.

If you are looking for some VFX elements to use in your project, check out some of our favorite elements you can use right now.