Create 3 Popular Cinematic Film Looks in Premiere Pro CC

Premiere Pro December 26, 2018 5 min read

When you watch a movie, there’s a lot of work that goes into making sure that film gives off a certain… je ne sais quoi. Things like set design, camera and lens choice, and casting all make an impact on how your movie feels. Creating a cinematic look in Premiere Pro is something that every video editor should know how to do, and one of the easiest ways to do that is with color. 

So today, we’re going to go over 3 popular film looks:

  • Desaturated / Post Apocalyptic 
  • The Matrix Look 
  • The Teal / Orange Look 

You can create all three of these pretty easily, and today you’ll learn how to get them right inside Premiere Pro. We’re going to go over them in order from easiest to hardest, and explain step by step how to achieve these cinematic looks. 

How to Create 3 Film Looks in Premiere Pro CC

Start with a Premiere Pro Preset

In Premiere Pro, each of these three options we’ll be going through has a built-in preset (or a few) that can kind of get you the look you’re going for. 

  1. In Effects, go to the Creative section, then Look
  2. Choose from the variety of preset looks available.
  3. The 3 that come close to our examples in this tutorial are SL Bleach HDR, SL Matrix Green (surprise, surprise) and SL Blue Ice.  

You can use these as starting points for your look, or as simple substitutes if you have absolutely no time to put into this. But we’re going to go in-depth and create each look from scratch. Most of your tweaking is going to be done in your Effects panel. So, let’s jump into Premiere and learn how to get these effects. 

1. The Desaturated Look

The first thing that you want to do with this look, as the name suggests, is lower the saturation. You can do this by highlighting your footage and hopping over to your Lumetri Color panel and downing the saturation. But it doesn’t stop there! 

Of course, the main thing that is central to this look is lack of color, but surprisingly, often a lot of brown creeps in. You can really get this looking great by playing around with that. So you’re going to do 2 things to make this look as good as possible: 

  1. Open your Color Wheels tab in your Effects panel. 
  2. On the Shadow wheel, move it a little into the area of the wheel that is closest to Brown
  3. Next, open up your Curves section. 
  4. Here you want to bring down your Shadows and raise your Highlights to give it an edgy look and feel.  
  5. Next, go down to your Hue/Saturation Curves wheel.  
  6. You need to make 2 selections, and the line between these 2 points is the color you will be editing (make sure this is as close to brown as you can get!).  
  7. Raise this line up a little to get a bit more of a muddy look.  
  8. Play around with your overall Saturation until you get something that is pleasing to your eye and gives the coloring you’re after.  

Here’s a helpful hint: Pull up a clip from a film that you like the look of, and try to match it as closely as possible in terms of settings! 

2. The Matrix Look

The green, Matrix-style look is well-known and futuristic. The green-blue creates a cold, unfeeling atmosphere, so it’s a great way to bring across that feeling in a project. Let’s go through how to achieve this in one of your edits! 

  1. Start by opening your Color Wheel corrector.  
  2. Push your Shadow wheel into the Green (bordering on Blue).  
  3. To prevent the skin tones from becoming too green, move your Midtones and Highlights a little into the Orange.  
  4. Tweak your Brightness on the sliders next to each wheel. You want your Shadows and Midtones to be a little darker, and your highlights to go up a touch to achieve the right look. 
  5. Under Basic Corrections, down your Color Temperature a little to give it a colder feel. 
  6. Drop your Saturation slightly, and you should be pretty close to The Matrix look! 

A lot of this is dependent on your own eye. Play around with all these settings until you are happy with the end result! 

3. The Teal / Orange Look

For the Teal and Orange film look, we’re going to be going a little more in-depth than the other two. This one is more saturated and somewhat warmer than the others, so you’ll need to play around a good bit to get it close to perfect. Let’s get started! 

  1. Up your Saturation just a little. 
  2. Go down to HSL Secondary. Here, you can isolate a color and make edits to that color specifically. 
  3. Using the Color Picker/Eyedropper tool, select the skin on your subject. You’ll see your selection is applied to the sliders under this tab. 
  4. Tick the box just below this that says Color/Grey. You’ll notice that a grey film covers everything on your video except the color you selected. This means that you can make changes to the color that is visible only. 
  5. Using the 3 sliders, play around with them until you get as much of the skin visible as possible. Make sure to exclude as much of the background as possible! 
  6. Play around with your Denoise and Blur sliders at the bottom. Refine this skin selection as much as you can.  
  7. Deselect Color/Grey, and invert it by clicking the button next to it. You can now adjust the background color, and your skin tone is not affected. 
  8. Using your Color Wheel, push it towards Blue to give your background blue tones. 
  9. Once you have a teal/orange shade going, move to your Curves
  10. Raise your Highlights and lower your Shadows. 
  11. If you want to work on the skin tones more specifically, you can use your Hue/Saturation Curves to select the skin range and adjust it to your liking. 

And with that, we have our classic teal/orange look. 

It takes a little more effort than other tutorials you might see floating around, but it gives more versatility to your color in Premiere Pro (if you don’t want to jump into another program for coloring).  

Final Fixes 

If you’ve created one of these looks in your project but it’s a little too intense, there’s an easy way to bring it back down to something that looks a little more natural. Try this out: 

  1. Duplicate your footage and place the duplicate directly above the original. 
  2. Go to your bottom layer and delete your Lumetri Color adjustment in your Effects Controls panel. 
  3. Slowly decrease the Opacity of the top layer, and you’ll see the color intensity begin to change. 
  4. Tweak this until you find what works for you! 

Creating these cinematic looks in Premiere Pro isn’t too difficult if you know the steps to follow! It can be tough to try and replicate popular film styles in your own projects, but this tutorial makes it quick and easy to achieve them. Once you know how, you can start playing around with them to create similar looks. It’s worth mentioning that you can also explore Motion Array’s tons of cool color presets to help you along your way!