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Using lighting Effects in Adobe Premiere Pro

Lighting is something that all camera operators seek to control at the source wherever possible, since the lighting of a shot can make the difference between a good take and a bad one. As in most areas, digital technology gives us the freedom to work with lighting in post production and other effects in ways which were simply not possible using analogue media. Sometimes you make subtle changes to a clip’s lighting and other times they are more sweeping. Whatever your aim, it’s not difficult to achieve in premiere. 

Step 1 – Drag and drop the effect

Load up a clip and then from the effects bin go to Video Effects > Adjust > Lighting Effects. Drag and drop the effect onto the clip you want to change and then in the Source window, select the Effect Controls tab to view a live preview of the effect. 


Find the Lighting Effects plug-in inside ythe Video Effects > Adjust menu in Premiere

Step 2 – Choose a light type

From the Effect control window, locate the Lighting Effects section and then expand Light 1. You can use up to five lights per effect but we’ll just look at one here. From the Light Type menu, choose a type. If you select Directional, you can apply a lighting effect across the whole scene. Select a light colour and give the clip a tint.  

[pic02 lighting]

The light type determines how the light spreads, and you can of course control this in great detail.

Step 3 – Change light type

If you select an Omni directional light source you can be more targetted with the effect. Here, I have chosen Omni and then used the Centre, Major Radius and Intensity controls to place the light source at the upper left hand corner of the clip, simulating a bright sun even though in the shot the sun does not actually appear. 

[pic03 lighting]

Change the way a shot is lit in post production. Adding sun effects is easier than removing them!

Step 4 – Use spotlights

Here I have changed the light type to a spotlight and used the radius, angle, intensity and focus controls to place the spotlight effect over a specific part of the frame. This is easy to do by simply dragging the value sliders to place the spotlight and change its brightness, providing you have a preview of the clip open. 

[pic04 lighting]

Simulate spotlight effects to hilight areas of the frame, and alter the feather and intensity of the effect.

Step 5 – Animate the effect

[pic05 lighting]

Now the clever part. Like most effects in premiere, lighting effects can be easily animated using keyframing in the Effect Controls window. Any parameter that has a tiny stopwatch icon next to it can be changed over time. Try this, for example with the position of the spotlight effect. You can also keyframe the radius of the effect to make a spotlight get wider or narrower, or sharper or softer in its focus.

Animate and keyframe lighting effects over time to make a spotlight follow a subject for example, or to turn day into night. 

Step 6 – Work with colours 

For special colour effects, apply a light type and then choose a colour from the picker, or use the eyedropper tool to select one. This can be keyframed as well, so colours can morph over time as well as other lighting settings. Working with light colours is good for more specialised effects, particularly music videos. 

[pic06 lighting]

Special effects using coloured light can be great for music videos or more experimental subjects. 

Hollin Jones

Hollin Jones | Articles by this author

Hollin Jones was classically trained as a piano player but found the lure of blues, jazz and boogie too much to resist. After cutting his teeth producing with Portastudios he graduated to hardware and then computer-based recording, and has remained at the cutting edge of recording technology ever since. Formerly a lecturer in soundtrack composition, videographics and music production, Hollin has been a freelance writer on music technology, multimedia and Mac issues for over a decade, along the way publishing several books on Reason. As well as consultancy, full-time journalism, video production and the occasional tech support, he still finds time to produce his own music, running a band as well as composing for film and TV. He occasionally plays session keys for people who ask nicely.


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