The masking tool – initially found in After Effects – is still one of the most powerful and versatile assets available in Premiere Pro CC. Having the ability to isolate areas of your footage has aided post-production workflows, unlocking more advanced color grading practices and making simple visual effects easier to achieve than ever before.
Some folks who are new to Premiere Pro CC, though, may find it a bit daunting to use masks, wondering how they can implement the tool in their productions. Thankfully, Jordan Dueck from Motion Array showcases four creative ways to use masks inside of Premiere Pro CC. All of the techniques outlined are extremely easy to achieve and may come in handy in your next project.
The first trick covered in the video refers to removing a subject from a stationary shot. If you’ve filmed a landscape and find an unwanted moving subject in the frame, it’s possible to use the masking tool to isolate it in a few easy steps. However, this effect will not work for all types of shots, including handheld shots, footage with camera movement, or shots with a lot of overlapping motion.
To tackle this, create a mask over the unwanted subject and animate the mask path to follow it over the duration of the shot. Once you’ve done this, increase the mask feather to a large amount (i.e., +120%). If the feather starts to overlap the subject, increase the mask path as well.
Afterward, duplicate your footage and place the duplicate on top of the base clip. Go into the base clip and delete the mask. The last step is to use the slip tool and move the base clip forward/backward in time so that your subject isn’t in the frame.
Please note that you will also have to cut some of your footage from the beginning and the end to properly use the slip tool.
Another technique shown in the video mimics DaVinci Resolve’s Power Windows, which are essentially masks used to isolate specific areas of the frame to manipulate the selected region’s color. The first step to achieving this effect is to create a mask around the area you wish to isolate. Then duplicate the footage and place the copy on top. Now, remove the mask from the base layer.
With your duplicate layer selected, add some feathering to soften the edges of the mask. After you’ve isolated your chosen image region, you are now free to make any color correction tweaks you’d like, helping you dial in the desired look for this specific area of your shot.
The previous trick can also be adapted to isolate an actors face – a common color grading practice used to add more emphasis to a subject. First, create a mask over your subject’s face. Add some feathering to soften the edges and click on the Track Forward (play button) located in the Mask Path property.
Premiere Pro CC will then go frame-by-frame to track your actor’s face, allowing you to more accurately fine tune your subject’s skin tones. Once the tracking is complete, you are free to make any color adjustments to the selected region.
With the masking tool, there is a clever editing trick you can use to make text feel like it belongs in a scene. This is a commonly used effect found in many movies and TV shows, wherein text disappears as an actor overlaps the text area by walking across the frame.
To begin, create a mask around your text. Using the Mask Path, animate your text’s mask to follow the edges of your object – such as a leg walking by the camera. Continue animating the mask frame-by-frame until your text has completely disappeared. As with the other techniques explained in this article, it’s recommended that you add a slight feather to soften the edges of your mask.
While you may not apply these masking techniques to all of your productions, it’s always great to have these tricks up your sleeve. Consider these tips as creative solutions to unforeseen situations you may come across while editing. However, if you want to improve your skillset, it’s worth taking the time to mess around with masks and explore the limitless possibilities of this powerful tool.