DIY Video Vignette -Diana Huang

In this tutorial, I’ll teach you how to create a vignette effect in a video. A vignette blurs or darkens the edges of a frame, and therefore highlights what is happening in the lighter areas. You often see this in photographs (here’s an example) but clearly it can be useful in videos as well.

Unfortunately, Premiere does not (to my knowledge) have a built-in vignette effect, unless you buy expensive add-ons. However, you can achieve a similar effect in a few easy steps with the use of Photoshop.

So you have an idea of where this is going, my video starts with a stuffed animal in the middle of the shot and simply zooms in on the face over time.

On the left is the first frame of the original video. On the right is the final frame.

I want the video to darken the edges of the screen to highlight the face. Also, I want the darkened edges to spread over the course of the video.

To do this, first open Photoshop and open a blank white image the size of your video frames. In my case, this means 640×480 px.

Match the image dimensions to your video dimensions.

Then, set the background color to black and fill the image with black by clicking on your blank image and pressing ctrl/cmd + delete.

Ctrl/Cmd + delete fills the image with the selected background color.

Set the foreground to gray by setting hue and saturation to 0 and brightness to 50.

Then choose the brush tool and click on the brush panel (third icon to the right in the options window). Make sure that the brush is set to 0% hardness.

Next, set the brush size to very large by repeatedly hitting the ] on your keyboard. The final brush size should be a fraction smaller than the image, but not by much. Click about 3 times in the center of the image. You should see light gray spreading into the black. Save this image as a psd file titled vignettefinal.

Save this image as vignettefinal.

Then, continue clicking on the center of the center of the image until only the corners of the image are still black. Use save as to save this new image as psd file vignettestart.

Save this image as vignettestart.

You can now close Photoshop and open Premiere. Set up a new project and import your video and two images (vignettestart and vignettefinal). Drag your video file into video 1. Drag vignettestart to beginning of video 2 and vignettefinal so that the end of the block matches with the end of the video file. Then, extend each of the images so that they meet in the middle.

Click each image block and change opacity to 80% with blend mode: hard light. Depending on the effect you want, you may want to instead use soft light, or otherwise change the opacity settings. These settings decide how the vignette overlaps with the main video.

Find Cross Dissolve under Video Transitions -> Dissolve in the Effects window. Drag Cross Dissolve two the crossing point of the two images and drop it. Then, extend Cross Dissolve out both ways until it takes up the entire length of Video 2.

Now, you can render the video and play it. You will see that the black edge creeps into the video as time goes on.

The effect I produced in this video is overly strong to make the effect clearer (this is due to the opacity setting I chose), but you can easily adjust this to your needs. You can also adjust the placement of the bright spot by changing the Photoshop images you produce, or do more detailed animation by increasing the number of images you crossfade together or changing the timing of the images.

Inspiration for this DIY came from watching this psdtuts tutorial by Phil Beard on creating a ondestructive vignette in Photoshop. I then applied this technique to videos in Premiere.

– Diana Huang


~ by Diana Huang on March 13, 2011.

One Response to “DIY Video Vignette -Diana Huang”

  1. In my opinion, Diana’s post is one of the most engaging of the DIY How To posts. She combines clear instructions with multiple step-by-step images to ensure that the reader knows exactly how to create a vignette effect in his or her video clip. Unlike other effects, this is not a one-step process included in the Premiere basic package (like transitions, separating clips, etc). Diana clearly spent a sufficient amount of time creating this instruction manual for readers. Even as a newcomer to the world of video editing, I’m confident that I could apply this effect to my video because Diana’s instructions are thorough and concise.

    – Jen Hirsch

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