… for Visual Effects

Tip #338: How to Create Retro Looks

These can be used in Premiere Pro, After Effects, Final Cut Pro X and Media Composer.

An image from a Red Giant tutorial on using Universe.

Topic $TipTopic

This tip – featuring Red Giant Universe effects – first appeared as part of a YouTube segment from Kelsey Brannan, showing how this can be created in Premiere Pro. However, these effects can be applied in recent versions of Final Cut Pro X, Avid Media Composer, and After Effects, as well.

Select the clips to which you want to apply a retro look.

NOTE: A “retro” look is one that makes your footage look like it was shot years ago, using older technology.

  • Search for Universe Stylize in your Effects browser.
  • Within the folder, select uni.retrograde
  • Inside uni.retrograde, browse the presets to view a selection of 8mm and 16mm scans
  • To give a bit more “stuttery” effect to movement, select 18 FPS
  • Adjust frame, vignette, grime, and color treatment settings to create a more realistic effect


Here’s the link to Kelsey’s original video.

And here’s the link to learn more about Red Giant Universe.

Please rate the helpfulness of this tip.

Click on a star to rate it!

… for Visual Effects

Tip #435: Faster Still Image Rotoscoping

The secret is to let Photoshop figure out where the edges are.

The girl was rotoscoped, then the color was removed from the background.

Topic $TipTopic

Rotoscoping allows you to select a portion of an image by tracing the edges of the subject you want to isolate. The problem is that rotoscoping is really, really tricky; especially when hair or other soft edges get involved.

While this tip involves Photoshop, I’ve used it constantly to extract images for my video projects.

  • Open the image you want to rotoscope in Photoshop.
  • Convert the image to a layer; click the small lock icon on the right side of the layer.
  • Choose Select > Subject. (I don’t know when this feature showed up, but it’s magical.)

Photoshop makes its best guess and selects what it thinks is the subject. At which point, you can do whatever you want with it.


To create this screen shot:

  • Convert the image to a layer
  • Chose Select > Subject
  • Inverted the selection
  • Deleted the color from the selection

Took me 15 seconds. And, yes, I remember how hard this was in the past.

… for Visual Effects

Tip #403: Blue or Green: Which Keys Better?

Green and blue background yield different results.

Typical green-screen background and lighting.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Charles Yeager, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is an excerpt.

Chroma key compositing is the actual technique of layering two images together based on color hues. The solid color background essentially acts like a matte for your footage. Later, in post-production, you can remove the solid color background to make it transparent, allowing for compositing.

We use green and blue backgrounds because they are the furthest colors from human skin tones. But the two colors don’t give the same results. In an EXCELLENT article, Charles Yeager explains when to use green and when to use blue backgrounds. Here are the highlights:

Green Screens Pros:

  • Results in a cleaner key because digital cameras pick up more information
  • Requires less lighting
  • High luminance is good for daytime scenes
  • Uncommon color in clothing

Green Screen Cons:

  • Color spill can be too heavy, especially on fine details and edges (or blonde hair)
  • High luminance is not great for dark or night scenes

Blue Screen Pros:

  • Less color spill is great for subjects with fine details and edges
  • Lower luminance is good for dark or night scenes

Blue Screen Cons:

  • Requires more lighting, which can be expensive
  • Common clothing color, making it difficult to key in post

… for Visual Effects

Tip #413: Mask Multiple Clips with an Adjustment Layer

Adjustment layer masks can apply to one or more clips.

Masking applied to an adjustment layer in Final Cut Pro X.

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Both Adobe Premiere Pro and Apple Final Cut Pro X support adjustment layers; though you’ll need to create one first for Final Cut. This is a technique you can use in both.

NOTE: This tutorial explains how to create an adjustment layer for FCP X.

If you want to mask a single clip, Draw Mask in FCP X, or the masking tools in the Effect Controls panel (Premiere) work great. But, what if you want to mask multiple clips?

Well, you could create a mask in one clip, then copy and paste it to multiple clips. That works, until you need to make a change. Adjusting multiple clips is a pain in the neck.

Here’s the better way: Use an adjustment layer.

In Premiere:

  • Open the sequence you want to mask.
  • Choose File > New > Adjustment layer and match the settings in your sequence.
  • Add the adjustment layer to the top of your timeline, then select it.
  • Use the masking tools in the Effect Controls panel to create the shape and effect you want.


  • After you create an adjustment layer, you’ll find it in the Titles browser. Drag it so it is on top of all other clips in the timeline.
  • Apply Effects > Masks > Draw Mask to the adjustment layer.
  • Create the shape and effect you want.

In both software, once the mask is applied to the adjustment layer, all clips under it will be masked. If you need to make changes, you only need to change the adjustment layer.

This is a huge timesaver.

… for Visual Effects

Tip #418: What is an Anchor Point?

The anchor point determines rotation and scaling.

A repositioned anchor point in Adobe Premiere Pro CC.

Topic $TipTopic

When it comes to altering the position of an image, both Premiere and Final Cut allow us to adjust the “anchor point.” But what does it do?

The anchor point is that spot around which an image rotates or scales.

By default, it is in the center of the frame, allowing us to rotate or scale from the center. However, you can achieve some interesting effects by moving it.

In Premiere:

  • Select the clip you want to adjust. (Anchor points are adjusted on a clip-by-clip basis.)
  • Click the word Motion in Effect Controls, then drag the plus sign in a circle in the Program Monitor to where you want to reposition the anchor point. (See the screen shot.)

In Final Cut Pro X:

  • Select the clip you want to adjust. (Like Premiere, anchor points are adjusted on a clip-by-clip basis.)
  • While you can’t adjust the anchor point by dragging, you can change its position in the Video inspector > Transform > Anchor.

Finally, adjust rotation or scale and watch what happens.

… for Visual Effects

Tip #390: Super-slow Motion in DaVinci Resolve

Super-slo-mo, without requiring a special camera.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Rubidium Wu, first appeared in PremiumBeat. This is an excerpt.

Using some fancy new AI, DaVinci Resolve 16 can take your 60p footage and slow it down significantly by guessing what would be in-between the missing frames.

You need to first import for 60p footage into a 24p project. Before you drop it on the timeline, select Interpret Footage and tell Resolve to use it as 24p footage. Once you drop that part of your clip, you want to slow further. Select Change Speed from the contextual menu, and experiment with the settings. To get a 120 fps effect, reduce the speed by fifty percent.

The next step is to stay in the edit page and select the Speed and Timing tab. Instead of the default Project setting, set the retime process to Optical Flow and the Motion Estimation to Speed Warp.

You’ll need to reselect the part of the clip you want to slow down, since the retiming will tamper with the part that appears in the timeline. Once you’re happy with the selected area, render it out before doing any kind of color grade or editing. Unless you have a monster spec computer, it won’t play back in anything close to real time.

Once you’ve rendered the clip, import it back into Resolve, and you’ll have super-slow, smooth, 120p footage. This method works best when the movement itself isn’t too dramatic. If the object moves too fast, the optical flow will have a hard time guessing the missing pixels.

… for Visual Effects

Tip #391: Simulate Poor Streaming Connections

Glitches make pristine video look, ah, less so…

Image courtesy: Red Giant.

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This is an excerpt from a recent YouTube video posted by Red Giant. This features an effect called: Glitch, which is part of Red Giant Universe. This plug-in runs on all major NLEs.

  • Search “RG Universe Stylize” in the effects panel/browser
  • Apply the “uni.glitch” effect onto the desired clip in the timeline
  • In the effects panel or Inspector, in the uni.glitch effect, click “select preset” to browse a variety of preset glitch effects, both for video and text
  • If you’d like the effect to begin at a certain point, turn the “glitch frequency” to 0, turn on keyframe recording, and then move to the desired beginning glitch point, and type 100 for glitch frequency.
  • The same can be done with the compression, small glitch, and large glitch parameters in the effects panel

… for Visual Effects

Tip #396: Mask Your Microphone

This is also called “clean-plate masking.”

Image courtesy of www.pexels.com.

Topic $TipTopic

This article first appeared in MotionArray. This is an excerpt.

You might know that one thing that’s essential to getting high-quality audio is to get your microphone as close to your subject as possible. This is one of the reasons that lavalier mics are such a great tool!

If you’ve only have a standard shotgun mic and you want to get it close to your subject, that can get tricky. What if you want a wide shot of your subject and you can’t get the mic close enough without it being in the picture? What do you do? Bring it into frame anyway and get it close to your subject.

Yes, really! As long as there’s distance at all times between the mic and the subject, and the background isn’t moving like crazy, you can mask out the mic in post-production. Make sure that at some point, you have the same shot minus the microphone to use as your clean plate. This will be important for editing the object out.

  1. Open your shot in your video editor.
  2. Take a sample of the clip without the microphone in it. Place it on the bottom layer of your timeline.
  3. Create a still frame from the clean background.
  4. Place your normal clip (the one with the mic visible) on the layer right above this one.
  5. Mask out your microphone on your main footage layer (this will allow the mic-less bottom layer to show through).
  6. Lastly, feather the edges just a tad.

… for Visual Effects

Tip #370: 4 Steps to Better Skin Tones in Resolve

Quick steps to improve skin without damaging the rest of your color grade.

Color wheels in DaVinci Resolve.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Rubidium Wu, first appeared in PremiumBeat.

In this tip, we’re going to use DaVinci Resolve to improve skin tones, without affecting other color edits. Here’s how.

  • Make a Mask. In a new node, select the qualifying tool, and drag it across the most even and representative part of the face. Increasing the clean white also helps a lot.
  • Unify Tone. Once you have the skin isolated, increase the contrast and look for yellow, red, or green areas that don’t fit with the overall skin tone. In the Curves menu, select Hue vs. Hue, then select those colors using the curve up or down to shift the problem colors back to the central color.
  • Pare Imperfections. In the color tab, adjust the slider marked MD for Midtone Density. Turning this down gets rid of contrast in the skin, effectively hiding imperfections.
  • Separate. The last step is to add another node, then hit Option+L to turn this into a layer mixer node. Dragging the blue alpha arrow of the skin mask to the input on the lower of the two mixed nodes means that your skin grade will “pass around” anything done in the latter nodes. This lets you cool down the background — or desaturate it — without also affecting the skin.


… for Visual Effects

Tip #371: Changing Clip Frame Rates in Resolve


The trick is to duplicate your clip first.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, by Lewis McGregor, first appeared in PremiumBeat. Do you need two clips from the same video file to play at different frame rates in your DaVinci Resolve timeline – say to create slow-motion? Here’s how.

To change a video clip recorded at a higher frame rate to a lower frame rate to achieve slow motion in Resolve:

  • Right-click a media clip in the media pool (or timeline) and open the clip attributes.
  • Change the frame rate to match your project settings.

However, the problem is that you are changing the base attributes of the clip that exist within the media pool. To fix this, either:

  • Adjust the speed percentage of the second clip.
  • Duplicate the clip in the media pool, then change the clip attributes. By duplicating the media in the media pool, we are creating a new clip from Resolve’s perspective, which allows us to change the frame rate of the second clip without affecting the first clip.