Premiere Pro Tip: How to Make Video Black and White

October 4, 2020

Let's look at the quickest and easiest way to style your footage in black and white using Premiere Pro.

First we'll walk through the most basic and simple way to do this right inside the program.

Next we'll explore some more creative ways to style your film using black and white editing techniques.

Step 1: Import Footage and Place Clips Into Timeline

I always add color correction and video effects as one of the last steps in my editing process. This helps eliminate any unnecessary time spent editing clips that I won't actually use in the end.

For this reason, it's a good idea to already have at least a base edit in place before you start adding color effects.

Go ahead and drag your clips into the editing timeline and edit them to the timing and order that you prefer.

Drag clips to timeline

Step 2: Navigate to the Effects Panel

Before we add our black and white effect, you need to know where to find it first. If you don't already see your effects panel available, navigate up to Window -> Effects to make sure it opens.

Open Effects Panel

Step 3: Drag Black and White Effect to Your Clip

Once inside your effects panel, open the folder called Video Effects -> Image Control -> Black and White.

Black and White Effect in Premiere Pro

Drag this effect straight onto the clip that you'd like to transform into black and white.

You can also simply double click on the effect itself and it will be applied to any and all video clips that are currently selected.

Drag effects onto clip

If you're happy with the way it looks, you can stop right there. That's all there is to it.

However, there is so much more you can do to style your black and white clips. Keep reading for some further tips.

Tip 1: How to Add Black and White Effects to Multiple Clips at Once

In most cases, you'll want to apply this clip to more than just one clip. There are a few ways to make this process very quick and easy.

1 | Simply highlight or selected all the clips that you'd like to change to black and white and either drag the effect on top of them or double click the effect.

2 | Create an adjustment layer on the layer above your current video clips and apply the same affect to the adjustment layer by dragging the effect onto the adjustment layer or by double-clicking on the effect while the adjustment layer is selected.

Add adjustment layer in Premiere Pro

Keep in mind that an adjustment layer acts like a piece of glass. If you apply a filter on top of it, that filter will affect any layer that is underneath the adjustment layer.

For a more in-depth explanation of how adjustment layers work, check out this post all about it. Adjustment layers are really quite simple to use and can be super helpful in complicated edits.

Pro Tip: If you decide to make any changes to your black and white effect, it will be very helpful to use the adjustment layer method. This will allow any changes that you make to apply to ALL clips underneath that adjustment layer at once, instead of having to go through each clip one by one to make tweaks.

Tip 2: Quick Ways to Style Your Black and White Footage

Once you've applied the basic black and white effect, your footage may still need a little styling to make it look just right. Here are a few quick adjustments to give it an extra boost.

First, make sure that your Lumetri Color window is open. To do this navigate up to Window and ensure that it is checked.

Open lumetri color window

1 | Set Exposure

Before you make any further adjustments, you need to first make sure that your exposure is set correctly.

I'll never forget my college film professor who always told us when exposing our black and white film in the dark room - make sure you can see pure blacks, pure whites, and everything in between.

Correct Exposure for Black and White Video

Not every shot will be perfect, but this guideline has always stuck with me. When exposing your shot, expose it in such a way that you can see blacks, whites, and everything in between.

To adjust exposure, simply drag the exposure control bar under the Basic Correction tab in Lumetri Color.

2 | Add Contrast

In just about every case, you will want to adjust the contrast of your clip. This simply means making the dark areas more black and the light areas more white.

Simply drag the contrast controller under the Basic Correction tab in the Lumetri Color window. The amount will depend on your clip and your preferences. I set mine around 30 in this case.

3 | Choose Your Style

Now that we've covered the most traditional, Ansel Adams sort of styling for black and white footage, let's talk about a newer trend - the film fade.

You may like the look of a more muted, gray tone to your footage as seen below. That's perfectly fine. There are technically no rights and wrongs here. That's why film is an art.

You are the artist and it's totally up to your preference. If you want to achieve this more matte look, then follow these steps.

Method 1: The quick and easy way to achieve this effect is to navigate to the Creative tab within the Lumetri color window, next simply slide the Faded Film adjustment level to where you're happy with the desired look.
Method 2: If you want to have a little more control over your image, you can simply adjust the white and black levels individually. To achieve this same look, bring your whites DOWN and your blacks UP. These levels can be adjusted in the Lumetri color window, under the Basic Correction tab.

4 | Explore Professional Presets or LUTs

The final tip I'll give is to explore some of the incredible work out there already done by other talented artists.

If you aren't familiar with presets or LUTs, they are simply settings that other artists have already created that you can apply to your own footage to easily achieve a similar look and style.

There is absolutely no shame in having a few of these on hand. I have many and use them often to save time and to make my footage look even more cinematic.

Here are a few of my favorite black and white footage LUTs you may want to explore.

Black and White LUTs for Premiere Pro
Black and White LUTs for Premiere Pro

Concluding Thoughts

I hope you've seen how easy it is to style your footage in black and white using Premiere Pro. For more tips and tutorials, be sure to check out more of my Premiere Pro Tutorials here.

If you have any questions, just leave them for me in the comments below. Thanks!


Share on Pinterest:

Hi, I'm Beth.

I started Handcraft Films to give other filmmakers and photographers the gift of documenting their own stories for years to come. I hope you'll learn something new and share your creativity here.
Join Our Newsletter

Earn extra income with your photos & videos this month:

Ultimate Guide to Selling Stock Ebook

Latest Posts

November 23, 2020
Best Sequence Settings for Premiere Pro Videos: A Complete Guide

Everything you need to know about sequence settings in Premiere Pro, so you'll be able to pick exactly the best settings for every video.

Read More
November 18, 2020
How to Remove Background Noise in Premiere Pro: the Complete Guide

Here's exactly how to reduce annoying background noise caused by wind, bumps, air conditioning or poor microphone quality in Premiere Pro.

Read More
November 11, 2020
Quick & Easy: How to Import Videos in Premiere Pro for Beginners

Top three methods for importing all types of video and media files into Premiere Pro, as well as some common problems and fixes you may encounter.

Read More
November 3, 2020
Step by Step: How to Use Motion Graphics Templates in Premiere Pro

Create stunning & professional animated graphics in Premeire Pro. A detailed tutorial for beginners: download, import, and use MOGRT files.

Read More
October 27, 2020
After Effects Vs Premiere Pro [Comparison & Review]

If you had to choose just one, which would it be? We are exploring the major strengths and weaknesses of each of these programs in detail.

Read More
October 26, 2020
15 Surprisingly Easy Filmmaking Hacks To Try At Home

Camera equipment is expensive! Check out these unique ideas to achieve the same cinematic results at home with DIY filmmaking hacks.

Read More
October 18, 2020
Top Filmmaking Techniques Every Filmmaker Should Know

Here are the top filmmaking techniques used by filmmakers to evoke powerful emotions from the audience and to help tell a cinematic story.

Read More
October 13, 2020
Best Way to Reverse Clips in Premiere Pro

Check out the quickest and easiest way to reverse the speed of your footage, plus a few practical ways you may want to style your footage using this effect.

Read More
October 4, 2020
Premiere Pro Tip: How to Make Video Black and White

Learn the quickest and best way to edit your videos in black and white. Plus, here are a few tips to make your footage look even more cinematic.

Read More
September 28, 2020
The Perfect Career Path to Becoming a Video Editor

How hard is it to become a video editor? What's the best career path to take if you want to pursue video editing professionally?

Read More
1 2 3 7

Want more?

Subscribe to our newsletter for more tips and tricks delivered straight to your inbox.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram