The Basics Of Video Editing Part III: Effects And Colour Correction

Today’s the fun lesson, where we look at basics effects, colour correction and titles for your video editing projects. We’re tackling all these topics in both Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 and Final Cut Pro, so come on in and we’ll get started!

The lesson is in the video, and this is a long one. It was supposed to be a short one, but it’s not. There’s a lot of stuff to cover when it comes to all the different kinds of effects you can do and show them in both applications, so we’re packing it in! Below you’ll find notes for this lesson. They won’t replace the lesson, but you can use them as a sort of cheat sheet to refer back to as you’re trying things out in Final Cut or Premiere.

Motion Effects

Final Cut, Premiere and most pro editing software come with basic motion effects you can apply to your footage. These are things like cropping, scaling, rotating, distorting, and more. Both Premiere and Final Cut have these settings in the viewer. To access them, just load up a clip you want to edit and click correct tab. In Final Cut it’s called Motion. In Premiere it’s called Effects Settings. Once there, you’ll see your options and a small timeline to the right of them. From there you can apply any adjustments you want, but one neat thing you can do is also add key frames. Adding key frames will let you animate the video in very basic ways, such as make it get bigger or smaller, spin around, and more. You can’t do anything really fancy here, but it’s useful for many simple operations you’ll need to perform when editing. For a demonstration on how this all works, see the video associated with this lesson.

Filter and Transition Effects

Filter effects allow you to manipulate your video in various ways and transition effects allow you to transition your video in various ways. The key difference is that filters apply to an entire video clip and a transition is a means of pleasantly transitioning between two different clips (something we’ve looked at in previous lessons more than once). Filters will let you do things like de-interlace interlaced video, crop the frame to a custom size and shape (this is known as a garbage matte) so you can, potentially, combine multiple video clips into one, and alter the image in different ways. Pretty much every video editing application comes with a huge array of filters and most of them are either useless or operations you’ll perform only on rare occasions. The best thing you can do is play around with all of them to get a better grasp on what they do. Transitions work in similar ways, and cross dissolve is pretty much the only one you’re going to use (with some exceptions here and there). To see a few demonstrations, check ou the video that’s associated with this lesson.

Colour Correction

Colour correction is generally handled by filters, but because it’s the filter you’re going to use most often it deserves its own section. The built-in colour correction filters that come with Final Cut and Premiere are not the best colour correction filters you can get. Personally, I use Magic Bullet Colorista as an alternative. It’s a giant step up, but it isn’t cheap ($US300, though I swear it was less than that when I bought it). Some editing software, like the higher end stuff made by AVID, does actually come with really great colour correction. You should try what’s built-in before you go out and buy something, although if you’re using Final Cut Pro I’d look elsewhere (even if you turn to colour, the dedicated application for colour correction in Final Cut Studio).

We’re not going to take a deep dive into the intricacies of colour correction here, but the basic principal you want to remember is that your goal is to use colour to either white balance your footage or unbalance it to convey a feeling/emotion. White balancing is really simple. Open up your colour corrector and look at your footage. If something looks off, you’re going to see it. For example, if the background seems too cold you’ll notice too much blue. If those blue areas are really dark, they’re in the shadow. If they’e in the middle, they’re in the midtones. If they’re bright, they’re in the highlights. Wherever they are, there’s a colour wheel in your 3-way colour corrector that represents each tone (shadows, midtones, and highlights, generally from left to right in that order — but they should be labelled). Each wheel should have a dot in the middle of it that you can move anywhere on the colour wheel. If you want to get rid of blues in the shadows, just locate blue on the colour wheel and start moving the dot to the other side. You’ll see the footage start to warm up. Stop before it gets unnatural warm, unless that’s your goal. If you want to convey a feeling of warmth or heat, pick warm colours and use the colour corrector to add more of them in the relevant tones (generally the midtones have the greatest impact because they’re the most visible). While professional colour correction is a nuanced art and is very difficult, basic colour correction is pretty simple. If you’d like a demonstration of what you just read, check out the video associated with this lesson.


Titles are really easy to create in both Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro CS5. In Final Cut, you go to your Viewer window and look for the little film strip icon with an “A” in it. It should be sitting in the bottom right corner, and you can see a demonstration in the video associated with this lesson. This will give you a nice drop down menu with lots of neat things you can generate, but we’re just going to concentrate on titles. While there’s a specific section for titles, if you select Boris and then Title 3D you’ll get the titles plugin with the most options. Boris’ Title 3D plugin isn’t as robust as what you’ll find in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5, but it is pretty capable. You can add various effects to your text and even animate it just like you would your footage (as described in the motion effects section).

Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 handles titles in a slightly different way. Adobe put a lot of thought into what they call the Title Designer and it’s really great. They obviously think pretty highly of it because they’ve dedicated an entire menu to titles. Believe it or not, it’s called the Title menu. If you want to create a new title, just go to the Title menu and choose the kind of title you want to create. Set it up how you want in the Title Designer and then close the window when you’re done. You don’t need to press OK or hit save because the Title Designer simply creates an asset in your file browser that you can drag onto the timeline.

For a demonstration of title creation in both applications, see the video associated with this lesson.

That’s all for today! Join us tomorrow when we’ll be talking about encoding and preparing your video for delivery.

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