Vignettes in Premiere & After Effects
A plethora of resources [updated]
By Rich Young | December 27, 2012
Vignettes have become more popular, and perhaps heavy-handed, especially in After Effects since the release of the DV Rebel's Guide by Stu Maschwitz. Of course there's numerous ways to make vignettes, and it looks like the topic is quite well-covered now, thank you. Here are a few tools & tutorials on the various options.
In Premiere, some techniques will break the hardware acceleration chain, and force a longer software render, so be sure that any effects used are accelerated, if render time is a factor.
- The 2014 NAB reveal showed a new feature for a new Premiere Pro CC 2014, Masking & Tracking, which has let users track a "power window," or basic feathered mask, on the Opacity property for every clip (even Adjustment Layers) and each effect applied. This could someday change how many will approach making vignettes in Premiere. Getting the right look may be tricky, as noted in an Adobe Forum thread, but using the Mask Expansion control may help you get to an acceptable look quickly. Using Opacity masks in an Adjustment Layers seems, let's say, unrefined in February 2015.
- In Premiere you can generate a vignette with the Edge Feather effect, which is an accelerated effect. Andrew Devis covers some of this ground in Color Correction 3: Vignette Techniques.
- Three ways to make a vignette in Premiere Pro by Bart Walczak of Creative Impatience discusses just that.
- Bart also created new plug-in effects Vignette (tutorials) and Power Window (tutorials) for Premiere and After Effects, but they're not accelerated. See also "Masking in Premiere Pro and the Future of Creative Impatience", with initial thoughts by Bart on the NAB 2014 reveal. For some, using non-CUDA plug-ins is a no-go anyway.
- Note also the Red Giant Magic Bullet resources for After Effects, which work for Premiere too. This family of tools is accelerated by Nvidia graphics cards. And in the 2015 version, Stu Maschwitz added a "how-did-I-ever-live-without-this Vignette slider."
- In Quick Vignette - Premiere Pro, Ann Bens silently demoed the 8-bit Circle plug-in, an non-accelerated effect. Recently, Create a Vignette in Premiere Pro by Brent Pierce also demonstrated the Circle effect method, with narration.
- There are various alternatives for plug-ins built into Final Cut and Motion; see more by Andy Mees and Alex Gollner (both free), or the fancier G_Vignette from Natresse.
- Create Custom Vignettes for Premiere Pro by Aaron Williams discusses using SpeedGrade to create a vignette inside a Look and use it in Premiere Pro CC!
- Jon Barrie posted PProCS6 - Making Vignettes using Adjustment Layers, which provides flexibility and acceleration:
- Torsten Dettlaff shared 3 Ways to Create a Vignette in Premiere Pro using a PNG overlay, the Magic Bullet Looks plug-in, and the circle tool within Premiere Pro CC 2014. He also posted some Free Film Grain Plates & Vignettes.
In Depth: Vignettes, by Michelle Yamazaki, covers plug-ins that specialize in vignettes (especially Mac-oriented ones).
- The 2014 NAB reveal showed a new feature for a After Effects CC 2014, Per mask effects, with individual composite mode. This also should change how some will approach making vignettes in After Effects.
- Chris and Trish Meyer posted More on Vignettes, including free After Effects Apprentice videos on using Masks to Create Vignettes., and links to similar treatments that previously as PDFs at Artbeats.
- Chris and Trish also have a one-stop shop of video tutorials on the topic, Extended Vignette Techniques, which shows "multiple approaches to guiding the viewer’s focus" -- as well as tips on masking, creating shape layers, editing gradients, painting in After Effects, lighting in 3D, motion stabilization, using filters like Circle, etc. (example embedded below).
- DV Rebel Tools, a palette of scripts from The DV Rebel’s Guide, is free from Prolost and includes a New Vignette button that creates sliders that drive expressions on the layer below.
Harry Frank posted notes and a free AE preset in a new quicktip Easy Vignette? Use the Circle Effect. For more on the Circle effect see Maltaannon's video tutorials on the 8-bit Circle effect, Uses of the Circle and Soft Focus (Circle tutorial Follow-up), which also showed making a vignette.
- ft-Vignetting Pro by François Tarlier, a now is a native AE filter that quickly adds a customizable vignette. (See the demo video below.)
- Vignettes are part of Red Giant Magic Bullet Looks and Colorista (32-bit; works in NLEs), as the Power Mask features. Check out Red Giant QuickTip #42: Using Vignettes in Magic Bullet Looks by Simon Walker.
- AE's built-in preset Vignette Lighting is available, but uses the 8-bit Calculations effect at the end of the chain.
- Ellipses rather than circles make be more appropriate, and are also easy to generate. Tutorials showing how to use masks and procedural mattes as vignettes are numerous. On YouTube, good ones include After Effects Tutorial - Easy Vignette by VibrancyDesign and Creating a vignette and blurring the edges without MBL by artificialanim.
- You can also apply a postcrop vignette (under fx) in Camera Raw; see Vignetting in Camera Raw CS5 by Matt Kloskowski. You can use Camera RAW in AE; see Use JPEG files in Camera RAW at AE Portal. On an AdobeAE Facebook post, Chris Meyer commented that the Raw dialog cuts off the high and low color values at the import stage and noted a workaround to recover missing highlights. You can also use the Vignette feature in the Lens Correction filter of Photoshop to add, correct or remove vignetting (it doesn't effects highlights so much).
- On AEtuts+, Momcilo Stojkovic helps you create a "Custom Effect" in Add A Vignette With Ease – Custom Effect.
- Motionworks posted After Effects: Quick Vignette.
- Aaron Williams shared his text, Quick and Easy Vignettes in Adobe After Effects.
- Evan Abrams also added a tutorial, How to Make Vignettes (embedded below).
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