Create the Vertigo Effect in Premiere Pro (Tutorial)

Premiere Pro 17/12/2018 3 min read

The classic vertigo effect has been an iconic shot in the world of film for a long time. But did you know you can create the vertigo effect in Premiere Pro? This unique effect, otherwise known as a “zolly” is where you simultaneously zoom with your lens and move the camera on a dolly in the opposite direction. 

Zolly vertigo effect

This effect is really awesome, but it can be challenging and time-consuming to get it right on set. However, there’s a way that you can actually achieve this effect in post-production. And the best part is that it’s easier than you might think. So, let’s get started!

How to Get the Vertigo Effect in Premiere Pro

Step 1: Shoot Your Footage

The first thing you need to do is shoot your video footage. What you’re going for is a clean, smooth motion either forwards or backwards. You can use a dolly, a slider, a drone, whatever you have and whatever works in your situation. 

Step 2: Stabilize Your Footage

From here, you’ll need to do two things. If your footage is at all shaky, you can add in a warp stabilizer. This will just help to smooth out your footage and give this effect a bit more of a surreal feel to it. Here’s how to do it: 

  1. Go to your Effects panel and search for Warp Stabilizer.  
  2. Drag and drop it onto your footage. 
  3. Select detailed analysis, choose Enhanced Reduction of Rolling Shutter, and then drop the Smoothness to whatever feels natural.  
  4. If you’re doing this for a shot from a slider, it should be pretty smooth already, so even 1-3% can give a great effect.  
  5. Finally, Nest the clip to make additional changes without messing up the Warp Stabilizer.  

Step 3: Keyframing

Now here’s the fun part. 

  1. Keyframe the Scale at the beginning. If your dolly movement is going forward, then zoom your clip in at the start. If your movement is going backwards, leave it at 100%.  
  2. Go to the end of your movement and make another keyframe
  3. Move the Scale in the opposite direction. For forward-moving shots, drop it back down to 100%. If your shots were moving backwards, scale up instead.

Step 4: Making Your Effect Pop

If what you end up with was a really nice subtle and slow effect, you might want to make it even more obvious. How? The key is getting a faster dolly motion. 

Let’s say you have a clip from a train window. It’s possible to capture a considerable distance in a short amount of time. And because the train is smooth, it acts like a perfectly smooth dolly push backwards. Now do the steps from before, but because our direction is reversed, we’re going to reverse the scaling.

Keyframe scaling at the beginning of the clip and leave it at 100%. Then, scale up significantly at the very end. Here’s what you can create:   

Embellished vertigo effect

Now, that’s a really obvious vertigo effect!

And that’s pretty much it. In summary, scale the footage up or down in an opposite motion to the camera move. Apply this to your short film projects and you’ll have that Spielberg-style vertigo effect in no time, thanks to Premiere Pro.