In this post, we’ll show you how to use the Corner Pin Effect in Adobe Premiere Pro – a handy tool for compositing signage or elements in your video frame, even at an angle!
Let’s say you want to ‘composite’ an item into your shot that is a rectangle but needs to sit on the side of a parked van…or maybe on a wall behind a person you’re interviewing. One of the main objectives it to make the composited element not look composited – it needs to look like it belongs in the shot (especially tricky if it’s at an angle). For that, you need the excellent Corner Pin effect in Premiere Pro…and a little understanding of how to ‘nest’ your layers if you want to add some pan and zoom!
In this example, we’ll take some footage with a sign on it …
Let’s say for arguments sake that we want to replace this sign with another sign that may promote our company or hide some details that we don’t want to show on camera. Keep in mind that the sign is positioned at an angle (more on that later).
Compositing with Premiere Pro Corner Pin
To start with you need to create your new sign in Photoshop or another photo editing application and then bring it into your project. Drop it into your timeline (top layer) and trim it out to the same length as your footage.
New Sign Brought into Project
New Sign in Program Monitor
At this point it is tempting to go to the Effects Control Panel and start to play with the ‘Motion’ or ‘Fixed’ Effects to try and make it fit. However, this is exactly what you should NOT do!
Motion or Fixed Effects in the Effects Control Panel
What you want to do is keep the sign you created at the same size (if possible) as the sequence you are working in.
This means that if you are the one specifying how the sign ought to be created or you are creating it yourself, try to create the sign using the same dimensions as your sequence. Then, when it is brought into your project it will fill the Program Monitor. While this isn’t essential, it is ideal and will save time later on.
Next, find the ‘Corner Pin’ Effect in the ‘Distort’ category in your ‘Effects’ panel.
The Corner Pin Effect in the Effects Panel
Now apply the Corner Pin Effect to the new sign you created. Then, go to the ‘Effect Controls Panel’ making sure you click on the sign in video layer 2 to see all its’ controls.
Corner Pin Effect Controls
At first, it’s tempting to start to drag at the hot text in the effect to move the corner pins, but this isn’t the best way to use this effect. Whenever you see the following icon on an effect (noted by arrows below) it means you can click on the name of that effect and then adjust it live in the Program Monitor. So click on the name ‘Corner Pin’…
Icon Indicating this Effect can be Controlled in the Program Monitor by Clicking on its Name
… and you will see the following in the program monitor.
‘Handles’ in the Program Monitor
Now you can select the handles and drag them into position.
Click and Drag to Adjust the Handles to the Sign
If you struggle to get the handles to just the right position, there is a zoom option at the bottom of the program monitor that will allow you to zoom in. By doing this you will get scroll bars along the side and bottom of the Program Monitor to get a more precise placement.
Zoom Option in the Program Monitor
Scroll Bars in the Program Monitor when Zoomed
Once you have the handles in the correct position don’t forget to click the zoom option and put it back to ‘Fit’.
At this point you have achieved your goal using the Corner Pin Effect in Premiere Pro. The sign has been replaced with your own sign that fits perfectly at a perspective. And, as long as no one walks in front of the sign this will work very well. However, if someone or something was to move in front of the sign it would break the illusion (then it’s time to start masking!)
Lastly, what if you now want to do something like starting fully zoomed into your sign and then pulling back to reveal the sign in place on your footage?
If you tried to do this with the 2 layers you would quickly find that it is very hard to do as the two layers are independent of one another. What you really need is some way to make Premiere Pro see both layers as if they were one item that could be scaled and moved, with both layers ‘locked together’. Thankfully that is something that Premiere Pro can do very well.
Select both layers, right click them and choose ‘nest’ …
The Right-Click ‘Nest’ Option
Then, to help you know what you’re dealing with I would also advice right-clicking and renaming the nested sequence in your timeline – although this will only update the name in your timeline and not your project panel!
Right-Click Rename Nested Sequence
Now, Premiere Pro will see this newly renamed nested sequence as a single piece of footage that you can scale and move however you like, without losing the relationship between the two items inside that nested sequence. So if you wanted to start fully zoomed into the replacement sign and then pull out to reveal the whole shot, that would be easy to do on the nested sequence.
This is a prime example of how to make use of the Corner Pin Effect in Premiere Pro. It can help you cover, remove, replace or add items to a shot…potentially saving a lot of heartache!