4 Awesome Ways To Use Masking In Premiere Pro


Hi guys! Jordan with Motion Array.  And if you’ve used Premiere Pro for a while, chances are you’ve probably had to use the masking tool before.  It’s pretty awesome, but you may not be aware of just how many uses it actually has. Today we’re going to be going over 4 ways to use the masking tool that you might not have thought of.

4 Awesome Ways To Use Masking In Premiere Pro 

This text has been transcribed from the video for optimal reading

So let's start off with:

1. Make Objects Disappear

If you’re working with existing footage and you don’t have the opportunity to go back and re-shoot, then you want to make sure you can get the most out of what you’ve got.  Like in this example here. It’s a great shot of the beach but what if there was a change of plans and instead of someone walking through the frame, you actually wanted it to be just the ocean.  What do you do? Well you can make this person disappear in using the following method.

With your footage on the timeline, create a mask under opacity, I’m just using an oval mask because the shape generally works for this example.  And I’m going to keyframe mask path and then make it to follow our subject from beginning to end. Cool, so now we should have just an oval following our subject with a black background.  Next up, feather the mask a lot, and if it starts to cut into your subject, expand the mask. And then finally go down to the invert option and select it, so that now our scene is everything except our subject.    

Next up, duplicate your layer and place one copy directly on top of the other.  Then you’re simply going to go to the bottom layer and delete the mask. So what you should be left with is just a plain scene, looking like we actually didn’t do any work to it.  But that’s about to change. Because right now what we have is that our top clip is isolating for everything except our subject, and the bottom clip is just what’s showing through, which includes our subject.  So what we want to do is take our bottom clip and move it to a different time so that it doesn't show our subject within the mask. So to do that, simply select your slip tool, which is y, and move your bottom clip forward or backward in time.  If you can’t make your clip slip at all, you might have to cut some of the beginning or end to make it move in time. But once you’ve done that, you should see that your scene now has effectively removed your character from the scene.

Depending on how you shot your footage, this method may or may not work, but it’s always an awesome method to have in your back pocket.

2. Make Isolated Lighting and Color Changes  

If you’ve got a small part of your scene that feels a little overexposed, underexposed, or you just want to manipulate some colors around, you can actually create your own makeshift power windows to tame certain areas.  

Right click anywhere in your project manager and create a new adjustment layer.  Then drag that overtop of your clip. Then with your adjustment layer highlighted, select the pen tool under opacity and select the area that you want to control.  For me it’s just this area here. Then with the adjustment layer highlighted, any lighting or color adjustments will be isolated to this region. Make your scene feel more professional, or completely surreal.  

And if you don’t want to use adjustment layers, you can actually mask directly from the lumetri color effect in your effect controls panel.  

3. Masking Your Text To Make It 3D

By masking your text, you can quickly achieve the effect that your text is actually within the world of your footage.  Giving the impression that it’s got depth within the scene. For example, I have this shot here with people moving about in the frame.  If we add a simple mask around the text so that it’s visible, our text will remain unchanged. But let’s say that now I want to make it disappear in a way that makes it look like it’s being covered up by this passing subject here.  

To do that, simply keyframe the mask path and as you move forward in time, make the edge of the subject line up with the outer edge of the mask.  Adding a subtle feather to the mask will also make a huge difference.

4. Track A Subject's Face To Give It More Life

So you might remember that in tip 2 we isolated an area to change it’s lighting, and that’s similar to what we’re doing in this case, except with an added little twist.  Because a person’s face isn’t really ever completely stationary, we’re going to create an oval mask under opacity, position it over the subject’s face, and then track it forward with this play button here beside mask path.

The tracking feature for masks in premiere pro is really really good at recognizing faces.  So once we wait for this part to finish, we can see that we have an isolated face that we can work with on it’s own.  By duplicating the layer, placing it on top, and deleting the mask on the bottom layer, now we can work with only the face layer.  From here I’m going to do something very simple, i’m just going to increase the exposure on the face, and then increase the feather on the mask.  That’s it. It’s a simple thing but what you might not realize is that it can draw the attention of your audience even more towards the face of your subject.  But you can take this effect above and beyond if you really wanted.

I’ve even gone as far in the past as to track the eyes of my subject individually and brighten them up as well to make them pop even more.  You don’t really notice it at first but once you toggle on and off your work you can really see what a subconscious difference it actually makes.

Well, that concludes this tutorial. I hope you found it helpful, if you did, please give us a thumbs up and if you’d like to see more tutorials please go ahead and subscribe because we’re making new ones all the time.  I hope you guys found it helpful.  If you did, we’ve got lots of other Premiere Pro tutorialsAfter Effects tutorials and filmmaking tutorials!

Thanks for watching and see you in the next video.

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