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Blend modes were a feature of Adobe Photoshop for ages before they came to Premiere Pro. And you'll find now that quite a lot of third party applications have support for the concept of Blend modes as well. The way that it's implemented in Premiere Pro is very, very simple. For example, I've got a sequence here where in the background, I've got some of this baseball footage and in the foreground, I've got this incredible lightning bolt array going on. If I want to combine these with Effects, I could, for example, go over to my Effects panel, bring up a Luma Key throw that on to the top layer here, and I'll have a combined composition based on the luminance values of this lightning bolt foreground.
And that's fine although it just means I'm making a selection on the basis of the luminance and there may be other ways that I'd like to combine these layers. So, if I take that Luma key off for a moment and expand down my Opacity controls as well as the regular Opacity that I can drop and blend the two layers together, I also have this Blend mode option. Now, Blend modes are what Adobe would classify as a fixed effect. So, here I've got my motion, opacity, and time remapping.
These apply to every single visual clip that you have on your Timeline. So, the Blend mode is always going to be there. You don't have to add it from the Effects list. If I want to choose a different Blend mode, then I just pick an item from the menu. Say, for example, I choose Multiply or Lighten might make better sense. What each of these blend modes does is rather complex and it can be quite hard to remember what each individual kind of blend mode does.
If I describe, for example, the Lighten Effect from the Adobe Help website, it says that each result color channel value is the higher or lighter of the source color channel value and the corresponding underlying color channel value. Essentially, what this is saying is that Premiere Pro is going to compare each pixel of the foreground with each pixel of the background and whichever is brighter, that's the pixel you're going to see.
Effectively, this is giving me something kind of like a Luma key. Each of these different Blend modes are very suddenly divided into categories. You'll see at the top, I've got Normal and Dissolve and then we got darkening effects and lightening effects, and various different kinds of combining effects including ones that we'll do things like combine the hue values. Essentially, what's happening here is that Premiere Pro is looking at the values assigned to each pixel and doing some maths with it.
So, for example, if I take the Hue option, this is going to give me the luminance and the amounts of color saturation of my background but, it's going to take the precise hue, the color from the foreground. So, if I choose this option, you can see it's pretty subtle. But perhaps if I make this full screen, I'm getting the colors from the foreground, but no color in the background, well, I am getting color in the background but it's being replaced by the color in the foreground.
And of course, the foreground is black where these areas are black and white, I'm getting the amount of saturation, I'm getting the brightness from the background, I'm just changing the hue in a pattern. Now, I think you would agree that that looks pretty awful, but if you combine this Hue option, for example, with something like a graphic or an animation, you can get some really spectacular results. The key to using the Blend modes, I guess, there's two keys really. The first key is to go to the Adobe.com website and look at the list which describes every single Blend mode available.
And just be aware that what's happening here is, like so many effects in Premiere Pro pixel by pixel. Simple math is being done to combine each of the pixels in your image based on the numbers assigned to the two layers of video that you're working with. This screen mode, for example, multiplies the channel values, that means that when ever you see or hear the word channel, we're talking here about the red channel, the green channel, and the blue channel information.
It combines the two together and the result is a brightening effect which is a, a nice blend of the different luminous levels. Well, all the RGB levels for the pixels in the foreground and the background is described on the Adobe website as being very similar to projecting multiple photographic slide simultaneously on to the same screen. So, it's like combining images from two video projectors. So, the first key is to take some time look over the Adobe website and find out the descriptions. And the second key, as with so many effects, is to put stuff on your Timeline, combine them with blend modes, try them out, and get a sense of the ones that you like the most.
And it's a very, very, versatile effect, but to really unlock the power of it, you need to be planning ahead and shooting for it. You need to be thinking about your lighting, thinking about how you're going to combine your post production workflows with your production workflows.
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