Adding motion blur in Premiere Pro is a fantastic way to inject a sense of speed and action into your videos. If you’ve ever seen a static image come to life with a blur that mimics the rush of movement, then you’ve seen motion blur at work.

How to Add Motion Blur in Premiere Pro

As a video editor, it’s a tool I often use to enhance the visual storytelling and add a professional touch to my projects. Adobe Premiere Pro provides a user-friendly interface and powerful effects that make achieving this dynamic look relatively straightforward.

In my experience, the key to adding effective motion blur lies in understanding the movement within your clips and using Premiere Pro’s built-in effects to replicate that motion. Whether it’s a speeding car, a fast-moving sports play, or even a simple pan across a scene, motion blur can help emphasize the velocity and direction of movement.

The Basics of Motion and Blur Effects

A great example of motion blur in action is the film Everything Everywhere All at Once when Michelle Yeoh’s character is shot back. Here’s the trailer for Everything Everywhere All at Once with the blur scene at around the 26 second mark:

While this is an extreme example of motion blur and how it can be used, it’s a great example of how you can enhance a rad scene with some natural motion blur.

In Premiere Pro, you can mimic this natural motion blur by tweaking a couple of settings, or by using effects to achieve the look.

Here’s a quick rundown of how to start:

  1. Open Effect Controls.
  2. Look for Directional Blur and play around with two main parameters: Direction and Blur Length.
    • Direction: Determines the angle of the motion blur. A value of 0° produces vertical blur, and 90° gives you a horizontal streak.
    • Blur Length: Sets the intensity of the blur. The higher the value, the more pronounced the blur.

Remember that the aim here is subtlety; you don’t want to overdo it and make your viewers feel like they’re on a roller coaster — unless that’s your goal, of course.

How to Motion Blur in Premiere Pro

Here’s how to add motion blur in Premiere Pro. Follow these simple steps to ensure you add motion blur in Premiere Pro naturally. 

Step 1: Add the Transform Effect

Add the Transform Effect

Open up Premiere Pro and import your footage into Premiere Pro.

Now go to Window > Effects panel. Then head to Video Effects > Distort subfolder. Now select the “Transform” effect and add it to your video clip in your Timeline.

Step 2: Animate the properties

You will need to animate the properties

By using the Transform effect it will give you the properties to keyframe. Here you can alter the X position. Alter the X position to move from either left to right, or right to left. 

Once animated you’ll be able to complete the last couple of steps by adding the motion blur.

Step 3: Alter the shutter speed (Shutter angle)

You can activate the motion blur by deselecting “Use Composition’s Shutter Angle”. Then set the shutter angle to your preferred setting. 

180 degrees is the default setting. The higher you set it, the more blur you’re going to get. For this blur to work perfectly, you must animate the properties using the Transform Effect discussed above. 

Note: Do not add the motion blur in Premiere Pro via the “Motion Tab”.

Step 4: Create a Preset

By creating a preset in Premiere Pro it will allow you to apply motion blur much quicker in any upcoming edits or projects you have. This will make you a much more efficient editor as it speeds the process of motion blur up. 

You can also create other presets and shortcuts in Premiere pro to speed your overall editing workflow up. 

To create a preset, simply Right-Click on the Transform Effect in the Effects Control Panel and click on Save Preset. 

Finally, name the preset and add a memorable description and save it!

Enhancing Your Motion Blur

Let’s break down the steps to achieve this using a couple of different methods.

Using the Transform Effect

To start off, I drop the Transform effect onto my clip from the Effects panel. Unlike using the built-in motion parameters, the Transform effect allows me to control the amount of motion blur separately. I make sure no keyframes are set before adding the effect. Once the Transform effect is in place, I can animate my clip’s position, scale, or rotation, and then I adjust the ‘Shutter Angle’ within the effect to control the blur’s intensity. A higher Shutter Angle results in more blur.

Adjusting Blur Length and Direction

The Directional Blur effect is a straightforward tool I use to simulate motion blur along a specific axis. Here’s how I do it:

  1. I search for the “Directional Blur” effect in the Effects panel and drag it onto my clip.
  2. In the Effect Controls panel, I locate the ‘Directional Blur’ settings.
  3. I click the stopwatch next to ‘Blur Length’ to set my initial keyframe at the frame where I want my blur to start.
  4. I then move to the frame where I want the blur to end and increase the ‘Blur Length’ to a value that looks good to me, automatically creating another keyframe.
  5. Adjusting the ‘Direction’ lets me align the blur with the motion of the object.

Creative Uses of Directional Blur

Directional Blur isn’t only for simulating linear motion. I often use it creatively to:

  • Enhance transitions: A quick burst of blur can smooth out a cut between clips.
  • Emphasize speed: By keyframing the ‘Blur Length’, I can ramp up or down the perceived velocity of moving objects.
  • Create illusions: Static objects can seem to move by subtly animating the ‘Direction’ and ‘Blur Length’.

Enhancing Your Video with Motion Effects

To add dynamic appeal to my videos, I often weave motion effects that amplify the viewing experience. Let’s dive into how I use keyframes and create transitions that make my footage look like it came straight out of a cinema.

Incorporating Keyframes and Animation

I use keyframes to manipulate the motion in my videos. Here’s a quick run-down:

  1. Select the clip: I pick the clip on the timeline where I want to apply the motion effect.
  2. Open Effects Controls: In the panel, I find Position, Scale, or Rotation properties.
  3. Create Keyframes: I click on the stopwatch icon next to a property to create a keyframe.
  4. Adjust Values: I move the playhead to a new position and adjust the values to animate the change over time.

The gradual shift from one keyframe value to another creates a smooth animation that enhances the motion in my video.

Creating Cinematic Transitions and Graphics

When I’m aiming for cinematic quality, I focus on transitions and graphics:

  • Transitions: I use the Effects panel to drag and drop a preset transition between clips. For a motion blur effect, I search for ‘Directional Blur’ and apply it to the edge of a clip. I make sure to adjust the blur length and direction to match the movement in my video.
  • Graphics: To add graphics, I select the ‘Graphics’ workspace and use the Essential Graphics panel. I might start with a template and customize it to fit my video’s style or animate text with keyframes to make it fly in and out of the scene.

By applying these techniques, I ensure my videos are engaging and have that polished, cinematic feel.

Shutter Speed, Shutter Angle, and Realism

To get a realistic motion blur effect, I pay close attention to shutter speed and shutter angle — these are the culprits behind that authentic camera blur.

  • Shutter Speed: Refers to how quickly the camera takes a picture. A slower shutter speed means the camera sensor is exposed to motion for a longer time, resulting in more blur. In Premiere, this translates to extending the duration between keyframes.
  • Shutter Angle: I think of this as the ‘blur dial’. It’s measured in degrees, and adjusting it emulates the time the camera’s shutter is open. Traditional cameras typically have a shutter angle of 180°, which is also a good starting point in Premiere.
    • A larger shutter angle increases the blur, making the motion softer and more fluid.
    • A smaller angle reduces the effect, for sharper, crisper motion.

Getting these settings right can be the difference between my video looking amateur and cinema-grade. Sure, it takes some playing around to see what fits best for my project, but it’s worth it when the motion in the video feels just like the real thing.

Motion blur in film

Motion blur occurs in most films. Blurring will happen naturally when shooting in 24fps. It is also easily captured in higher frame rates like 30fps and, as you well know, in real-time from the human eye. 

As humans, we subconsciously process the motion blurs, and when these do not occur in certain scenes we tend to process the picture or the scene as unnatural. 

This is when Premiere Pro (Or other video editing software) comes into play and you create an aesthetic motion blur. 

Also in video games and tv, motion blur is applied when a character does a certain action. For example, if the cameras panning quickly to follow the animated character running, intentional motion blur is added to create a naturalistic look.

Why is motion blur used in post production? 

As touched upon above, if the footage has been shot at a very high shutter speed or on an automated shutter speed you may not get the motion blur you wanted. 

You’ll probably have stuttery, choppy footage that looks unnatural. If you add motion blur in post-production you’ll be able to make the footage much more natural.

Or, you may want to add motion blur to the credits in your video. This is sometimes used in commercials and YouTube videos. 

Whatever the reason is adding motion blur can be done in Premiere Pro to give your footage a smooth, naturalistic look to it.

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