Blend Mode Compositing in Premiere Pro


One of the many things I picked up from using Photoshop for the last few years is the power that blend modes have on your images. With blend modes, I can mix images with objects, colors, and more into interesting composites. I have been able to apply many of the same principles that I learned in video editing to create interesting compositions. Many simple visual effects can be achieved by using blend modes. Using blend modes such as Add or Screen on footage that has a black background (like muzzle flashes) can remove the background and give you access to the flash. In the three video tutorials below, I will breakdown how blend modes were used to take ordinary footage to amazing motion graphic compositions.

Character Callout Tutorial

In this video tutorial, I show viewers how to take a clip of a snowboarder and turn it into a character callout animation when he completes his flip. Many motion graphics elements from Rampant Design Tools were used on this tutorial, but to give them the full effect that I desired, blend modes had to be used. For example, I used a clip which had film scratches you would find on old filmstrips. These clips were created with a white background embedded into them. In order for me to focus black parts of the film scratches, I utilized the blend mode of Overlay to do so. Overlay allows me to focus primarily on the dark parts of the clip, which are the black scratches, and suppress the white background. In further examples of the tutorial, I used blend modes such as Add and Screen to make clips with black backgrounds brighter. With some tweaking of the opacity of each layer, I was able to create something completely unique for my animation which wouldn’t have been achieved had I not used blend modes.

Edit With Lines Tutorial

In this tutorial from the folks of Edit with Light, they showcase how their product can be utilized using a variety of blend modes such as Screen, Lighten, and Hue to create cool motion graphics. I found the Hue blend mode to be the most interesting because the clips come with multiple colors and creates a tint-like effect when placed on top of footage. The subtle touch using blend modes with the Lines product is quite amazing. With the demonstration shown above, blend modes are able to take the concert footage from ordinary to awesome with little effort.

Match Up Tutorial

In this tutorial, I showcase how to create a sports match up animation. Using clips from Rampant Design Tools, blend modes was a necessity to make each scene in the animation. In the first scene with the trophy, I used the Screen blend mode to isolate the lens flare transitions and the Add blend mode to create the background using XFilm. In the second and third scene, I was able to place the cutout models in the background using a combination of the Overlay blend mode and Screen blend mode. Blend modes were necessary to make this animation flourish.

Blend mode compositing is definitely a skill that most editors should be familiar with. I can’t count how many times using blend modes has helped me. It is something I think about whenever I approach a graphics heavy project. Blend mode compositing is not only available to Premiere Pro, but to other NLEs and compositing programs as well. I strongly recommend that you experiment with all blend modes to see what you can create.

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