The mirror effect is something that if you don’t know it’s there, it’s possible to go your entire premiere pro career without using. But you shouldn’t. It’s a really great effect! And literally every shot you saw in that montage used the mirror effect in some way. So let’s jump into Premiere and start learning!
The Mirror Effect
This text has been transcribed for optimal reading experience
The first thing we want to do is just bring our footage onto our timeline. We have a couple example clips that we’re going to go through to show you a few different variations you can achieve. So to use the mirror effect, we need to find it in our video effects folder. Either search through and find it under video effects > Distort > Mirror.
Here’s where you have two different options to apply this effect. You can either drag and drop it right onto your individual piece of footage, or you can place an adjustment layer on top of your footage and then apply it to the adjustment layer instead. We’re going to come back to the adjustment layer route later on, but for right now, let’s just add it to the piece of footage directly.
When we add it we should see nothing really change, but if we go to our effects control panel we should see the new effect is available to use. There’s only 2 parameters that you can work with, and they’re reflection center, and reflection angle.
Basically they both work together to tell premiere where to draw the mirror line within your shot. By default, at 0 degrees and the default center, your reflection should be just off screen to the right. But if we move the x axis over to the left, we can start to see the effect come into frame.
And right off the bat, you can see that you don’t have to make everything symmetrical. You can, but the reflection will show the mirror of whatever it’s up against. You’ll also notice that when the angle is completely vertical, moving the center in the y axis, up and down, won’t really do anything. It’s because you’re technically holding up an infinite mirror, and raising the mirror up doesn’t change what you see. You’ll only notice it when you start to shift the angle here.
Let’s try some more variations. Let’s rotate it 90 degrees and see what happens. Now our mirror angle has shifted so that it’s reflecting everything above it. So now our shot of the city looks like a perfectly still glassy ocean reflecting the clouds. Pretty cool right? And like before, we can move around where this image starts to be reflected, and at 90 degrees our left and right movement doesn’t look any different. Rotating it another 90 degrees to 180 gets us the inverse of what we first looked at, mirroring the opposite side. And finally another 90 degrees to 270 will get us this effect that you saw in the video. You may have seen tutorials on other ways to go about this sort of inception city on top of a city effect. And there’s more intricate and complex ways to get a much more specific and realistic effect for that. But for a purely stylized version, this is a pretty easy effect to achieve. And keep in mind that all of the other non-90 degree angles are capable of being used too. And we can stack them on top of each other to get multiple kaleidoscope effects. Like you saw in this shot here. Keep in mind though, once you start to layer more than 1 or 2 on top of each other, the effect will start to bog your computer down a little bit depending on how powerful your setup is.
Every time you stack a new mirror effect, it will take into account the whole picture. And if you take it too far, the effect won’t have enough to draw from the previous side, so it will show the black edge of the frame like it is right here. Keep this in mind as it’s an easy way to make your effect look bad. You can see that if we give a noticeable edge to the frame and we try to add another mirror effect to the frame, it doesn’t go past this edge even though it technically has area to reflect from. But you can get around this by utilizing the adjustment layers.
Let’s bring the adjustment layer overtop of this piece of footage and then add the mirror effect to it. Now when we move the mirror effect in the adjustment layer we can see that it starts to cover up this black space and now everything that was a part of the previous clip gets reflected. This is another advantage of using the adjustment layer to mirror your clips is that now anything below the adjustment layer gets reflected.
So if we raise the adjustment layer up a few tracks, and add some more footage in and blend it so that we can see all the layers through each other. Then we see that our final result is a reflection of everything that’s below the adjustment layer.
Play around with this effect and see all of the awesome things that you can come up with! Make a simple 1 angle reflection, or put together a bunch to get a trippy kaleidoscope effect!
We hope you found this video helpful. If you did, we’ve got lots of other tutorials for Premiere Pro, After Effects, and filmmaking in general! Also feel free to check out some of our Mirror Preset Packs!