Video Production

Jul 14, 2021

Masking in Premiere Pro: Here’s How

Masking in video editing is for those who want to take their video editing skills to the next level. Wondering how to go about masking your videos in Premiere Pro? Look no further. We’ve put together everything you need to know about masking, from creation to adjustment, tracing, and advanced masking.

What is masking — and why should I be doing it?

Before we get into it, let’s cover just what masking is: it’s a video editing technique that allows you to apply a particular effect only to a specific area of the video frame.

In other words, if you want the foreground of the video to have a yellow tint and the background a blue one (all within the same frame), masking makes that possible.

Adding masks to your videos in Premiere is quite simple once you get the hang of it. The tool allows you to add a mask to the layer itself or create an adjustment layer above the layer you are working on.

Masking in Premiere Pro: How to

Want to start working with masks in Premiere Pro? Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can do just that.

How to create a mask

  1. Go to Effect Controls > Opacity > Mask. Here you’ll find the option to add an elliptical mask or rectangular mask.

  2. Once you have selected one of the two, you will see the shape appear over your video. 

  3. You now have the option to adjust the size of the mask by dragging the corners or by holding down on Shift and dragging to make the entire mask bigger or smaller.

How to adjust your mask track

Alright, getting set up is easy — now it’s time to adjust the mask to your needs. Because a video has moving images, and you might only want to apply the mask over a specific object or scene, you can use the Math Path function — to determine how the Mask should move throughout your video.

Go ahead and select > Effect Controls > Opacity > Mask Path and click on the wrench symbol.

Now you can also select:

1. Position:

The simplest mask track, as it only changes position, not perspective.

2. Position And Rotation:

The mask’s position is moved and rotated — not ideal if the camera is also moving towards or away from the object or person — changing the frame scale.

3. Position, Scale, and Rotation:

You will want to select this one if all the things are happening, the object or person is moving, and the camera is moving towards or away from it/them and rotating.

Once you’ve found the best option, simply edit the outline of your mask frame by dragging the corners to adjust the size until you’re happy.

To map the path of your mask:

  1. Go to Effect Controls > Mask Path.

  2. Place your mask over the subject or scene that you want to track.

  3. In the Mask Path row click on > Track Selected Mask Forward/Backward.

  4. Now let Premiere Pro do the heavy lifting for you: the mask will track the object or the scene.

To track manually:

  1. Go to > Effect Controls > Mask Path.

  2. Now select a keyframe by clicking on the Stopwatch icon next to the Mask Path.

  3. Next to the Mask Path column, you will find video, move forward to the frame where you’d like the mask to end (be last seen), and move the mask to the endpoint.

  4. Now the mask will follow the path that you created.

Advanced masking in Premiere Pro

Alright, now that we’ve got the basics down, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of advanced masking.

Adjust/blend the edges of the mask

When you go to Effect Controls > Mask, you will also find the following to adjust the edges of your mask, which will help you blend effects with other areas of the video and fine-tune your result.

  • Mask Feather: this is the best way to ensure you don’t have straight edges; you can adjust how strong the feathering is using the slider by blending the edges.

  • Mask Opacity: this is great if you want to increase or decrease the effect of the mask. Less opacity means that the mask will be more transparent and vice-versa.

  • Mask Expansion: use this if you want only to expand the radius of your mask

  • Inverted: by selecting the inverted checkbox, you can apply the effects outside the mask you chose; this is great if you want to protect particular objects or areas of the frame and leave them without effects.

Color grading with masks

To color grade/adjust the foreground or background of your video using masks, go ahead and:

  1. Drag and drop Lumetri Color > Effect controls (onto the clip).

  2. You will now see the rectangular and ellipse-shaped mask appear; go ahead and select one of them.

  3. To blend the effect with the rest of your video, select Effect Controls > Mask Feather.

  4. Now go to > Basic Color and adjust your color scheme.

Premiere Pro masking tutorial

Want to see Premiere Pro masking in action? We dug up this fantastic tutorial on masking that will get you started in no time.

Want to level up your Premiere Pro editing skills even more? Check out our blog post about removing video backgrounds in Premiere Pro.

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