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5 Super Simple Luma Key Effects (Premiere Pro Tutorial)

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Video Effects

Color Grading, directional blur, gaussian blur, glitch, luma key, luma transition, mist filter, rgb split, selective color grading, transition

Learn how to use the luma key effect and create 5 super simple effects and transitions in this beginner tutorial in Adobe Premiere Pro.

Super simple luma key effects

Have you ever used the luma key effect in Adobe Premiere Pro? You haven’t?! Well, you should! It’s such a powerful and highly underrated effect that can be the base for so many transitions and effects. Let me show you 5 different effects that you can create with the luma key.

What is luma key?

First things first, what is the luma key effect? How does it work? Well the luma key has two properties that you can alter. Threshold and cutoff.

Playing around with the threshold slider affects the range of darker values that are transparent while cutoff sets the opacity of nontransparent areas that are specified by the threshold. So in order to key out light ares you need a threshold with a low value and a cutoff with a high value. For darker areas it’s vice versa.

Luma key properties

5 Super simple effects with luma key

luma transition

This is an effect/transition that has been used a lot by creators on YouTube for travel videos. It was mostly known by the bigger audience after watching Sam Kolder using it in his videos. You basically put two clips above eachother in the timeline, use the luma key at the end of the upper clip and animate the threshold and cutoff from 0 to 100 and that creates a smooth luma transition.

Mist Filter Replicator

Mist filters are filters that you put onto your lens to create smooth and soft highlight. It also diffuses the highlights and blurs them a bit. But these filters cost money so here’s a way to replicate the effect for free in Premiere Pro.

Once again, it’s super simple. Duplicate your shots, use the luma key on the duplicate layer and use the cutoff to isolate the highlights. Then apply the gaussian blur effect to is, set a custom amount and voila, you have replicated a mist filter.

Red Giant Universe Glimmer Effect

Red Giant has a ton of amazing effects but it also costs a ton of money. So how cool would it be if we could replicate one of the effects for free? Well we can easily do the glimmer effect. Just like with the mist filter, duplicate the layer and apply the luma key to isolate the highlights. Then use a directional blur effect with -45 degrees blur direction. Then duplicate the layer and set the upper one to 45 degrees. And now you have a cool retro shiny glimmer look.


Light trail effect

Next up is a fun effect to use on night time shots of cars driving by. Duplicate your layer again and make a mask around the highlights of a car, track the mask and apply the luma key to isolate the highlights. Then apply the echo effect and animate the echoes overtime. This will create an awesome light trail effect.

Colorgrading with luma key

Yes it is actually possible to use the luma key for colorgrading. With the luma key you can isolate bright highlights or dark shadows so when you then colorgrade your clip or use a tint or RGB effect, everything will be affected accept those isolated areas. Super useful!

You can also use the luma key to create glitches in your footage, more about that in our tutorial!


VideoPacks and Courses

If you want access to amazing video assets like drag and drop presets, transitions, particles and so much more, have a look at the video packs on our website. And if you want to learn more about color grading, editing in Adobe Premiere Pro or After Effects, check out our courses!

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