Adobe Premiere: How to Use Motion Effects

Every clip that you add to your Timeline as you work in Premiere Pro has the Motion effect already applied to it by default.   You can use the Program Monitor and the Effects Control panel, as you will soon learn, to adjust the effect properties. 

In this article, we are going to discuss:

  • The Motion controls and the Effects Control Panel

  • About adjusting the position, scale, and rotation of clips

  • Scaling clips

  • Rotating Clips

  • Adjusting anchor points

  • Positioning clips

  • Keyframes

  • Creating motion with keyframes

  • Keyframe interpolation techniques

About the Motion Controls

In Premiere Pro, Motion controls are fixed effects.   This means they are applied to every clip automatically.   Unlike other effects, you do not have to apply them manually. However, as you are working on your video, you may want to adjust or alter these effects.   You can do this by using the Effects Control panel.

You can view the Motion controls by clicking on the clip you want to work with in the Timeline. 

Next, go to the Effects Control tab (located with the Source Monitor). If you do not see it, go to Window>Effect Controls. 

It is pictured below.

Click the triangle to the left of Motion to open the controls.

Scale a Clip Manually

When you look at one of your clips in the Program Monitor, you are viewing it at 100% of its original size. When you go to position, scale, or rotate that clip, those values will be calculated by the clip's anchor point, which (by default) is the center of the clip. The anchor point can be adjusted in the Effects Control panel. The position, scale, and rotation of a clip can be changed in either the Program Monitor or the Effects Control panel. 

Select a clip in the Timeline. 

Go to the Effects Control panel.  Click the triangle to the left of Scale.

Deselect the Uniform Scale checkbox if you want to adjust height and width separately.

Drag the slider to the right to increase the size of the clip. Drag it to the left to decrease the size of the clip.

Scale to Frame Size

To scale a clip to frame size, select, then right click on a clip in the Timeline.

Select Scale to Frame Size. 

Scale a Clip Automatically

To scale clips automatically, go to Edit>Preferences>General.

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Choose Default Scale to Frame Size, then click OK.

Rotate a Clip

Select the clip you want to rotate in the Timeline.

Go to the Effects Control panel. Click the triangle beside Rotation.

Now you can do one of two things. You can click on the Rotation coordinate and type in a value, or you can drag the line inside the circle until you reach the desired value.

Adjust Anchor Points

The anchor points for a clip can be adjusted in order to create customized rotation effects.

To adjust the anchor points, go to the Effects Control panel.

For example, you may want to move the anchor point to the bottom left side of a clip in order to make that clip rotate around that "pivot" point. 

To adjust an anchor point, adjust its X and Y values. 

Adjust the Position

If you want to reframe a clip in a video, you can do so using the Position controls in the Effect Controls panel. 

Next, hover your mouse over either the horizontal or the vertical adjustment until you see it become a two-headed drag pointer. You can then drag the coordinates to the values that you want.

Introducing Keyframes

In Premiere Pro, keyframes allow you to animate special effects. For example, you can make a title move across ten frames. You can even adjust audio volume over frames.   However, before you start to think that keyframes are a complicated thing, let us assure you that they are not. Keyframes are simply points where you set values in order to create animation.

Let's use the example of moving a title across ten frames using keyframes.   You set a keyframe on the first clip, then again on the last clip where the title will show. Premiere Pro then interpolates the values so that the title moves smoothly across all frames, from the first to the last where you entered the values.

Using Keyframes

Let's use keyframes to fade-in a clip from black on the Timeline.

Before we begin, however, we have to configure effects in the Timeline. To do this, click on the Settings icon (the wrench) and select Show Video Keyframes.

Make the track you are working on bigger so that you can see the keyframe graph.

Now, let's add the fade-in from black effect.

Position your playhead at a quarter of the way into the clip.

Next, put your pointer over the keyframe graph at the beginning of the clip. When the pointer covers to the two-headed vertical drag pointer, press the Control key so it converts to a small cross.

Now, click on the keyframe graph to put a keyframe there. 

You can see the keyframe marked by a yellow diamond in the snapshot below.

Create another keyframe at the very beginning of the clip following the steps above using the Control key.

Drag the keyframe at the beginning of the clip down until you reach an Opacity value of 0.   This is shown in the yellow box.

You will have to repeat these steps for each track to achieve the fade-in.

Adding Motion with Keyframes

To add motion using keyframes, select the clip that you want to edit in the Timeline.

Next, go to the Effect Controls panel. 

You will need to see the Effect Controls Timeline. If it is not open, click Show/Hide Timeline View in the upper right hand corner of the panel.

It looks like this: 

We are going to adjust two effects to create the motion effect.   These two effects will be Position and Scale.

To start, click the toggle buttons to the left of each effect, as circled below.

This creates the keyframes for each effect.

Now, adjust either the rotation or the scale.   In the snapshot above, we adjusted the scale. 

Next, move the playhead to the location where you want the next keyframe.   You can again configure the Scale and Position values. New keyframes are created whenever you adjust those values.

Since we used a clip in our frame that showed a landscape, the motion effect we have applied now makes it seem like we are "flying over" as if we are in an airplane. 

About Keyframe Interpolation

Interpolation is the process that fills in the unknown data between two values.   This happens when are animating effects, as we talked about in the last section. Interpolation in Premiere Pro is used to animate movement, audio levels, image adjustments, color changes, transparency, etc. 

The type of interpolation used in Premiere Pro will depend on the effect you want to achieve.

  • Temporal Interpolation is used for motion. It applies the selected interpolation method to changes in motion. The default interpolation for temporal is linear.

  • Spatial Interpolation applies the selected interpolation method to changes in shape, such as if corners are rounded or angled. The default interpolation technique is linear, but sometimes it can be Bezier. 

  • Linear Interpolation will create an even paced change from one keyframe to another.

  • Bezier Interpolation will allow the rate of change to either accelerate or decelerate based on the shape of the Bezier curve. 

You can choose an interpolation technique by right clicking on any keyframe. However, not all keyframes offer all techniques. For example, scaling will only offer temporal interpolation.

To customize an interpolation technique, right click the triangle next to an effect name. As seen on the right hand side in the snapshot below, you can then adjust the control handles to the values that you want.

Practice using keyframes and applying different interpolation techniques to create different types of motion in your videos. Do not be afraid to change values and experiment.   Remember, you can always go to Edit>Undo if you need to undo any changes you make.