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Tutorial: Applying Effects to a Portion of a Image with Adobe Premiere Pro’s Track Matte Effect

This tutorial demonstrates how to apply an effect to a portion of a video image while leaving the rest of the clip untouched, and how to track that portion of the image throughout the duration of the clip, using the Track Matte effect in Adobe Premiere Pro CC.

Sometimes you need to apply an effect to only a specific area of a clip, while leaving other portions of the image unaffected. For example, maybe you lit a scene unevenly, and want to brighten, darken, or otherwise color-correct a portion of it without affecting other portions of the image, even those in the same tonal range.

Or perhaps you want to apply an effect more artistically, as in the example in Figure 1 (below), where I’ve applied a Black & White filter to the background, while keeping my daughter in full color as she dances “Dance of the Flowers” from the Nutcracker. Because we’re working with video, rather than a still image, it’s not as simple as applying the same effect to a portion of a still image, since that portion of the image that we want to apply the effect to--often an object, or in this case, a person--is likely to move. But it's actually easier than it might seem, once you learn how to use the Track Matte effect in Adobe Premiere Pro, which I’ll demonstrate in this tutorial.

Figure 1. A black-and-white filter applied to a clip in Adobe Premiere Pro with one region preserved in full color. Click the image to see it at full size.

Duplicating the Video Portion of the Clip

So, how did we create this? Let’s start with the subclip that I used in this particular sequence and then create a new sequence. You can see the subclip that I used, What – flowers just below the Tutorial clip in the Project panel in Figure 1. I’ll drag that onto the new item.

When you’re using a track matte, you have to duplicate the video portion of the clip and place it directly on top of the original. To select just the video portion of the clip (so that you don’t duplicate the audio), hold down the Option key (Mac) or the Alt key (Windows) and click on the clip in the timeline. Then right-click, choose Copy, and tell Premiere Pro to put it on Video 2, and then press Control+V to paste it.

Figure 2 (below) shows the two clips that I made in the timeline, and as you can see in the Program Monitor, they look pretty much like one clip.

Figure 2. Two identical clips in place in Video 1 and Video 2. Click the image to see it at full size.

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