Effect Masks as a Better Garbage Matte in Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2014

Easily one of the most anticipated and discussed features in Premiere Pro CC 2014 has been Masking and Tracking Effects. It is an incredibly useful feature, but one whose boundaries were quickly found. The CC 2014.1 release blessed us with a free-draw polygon pen tool and adjustable on-screen Bezier adjustments. These are quite frankly awesome and I already do not like to think about using Premiere Pro without them.

However, having fine masking controls over effects only highlights the comparatively crude Garbage Matte the program has to offer. 16 points are only so useful when they are hard polygons with not a feather in sight.

So I've come up with a little trick that lets you use the more advanced masking and tracking features when using the Garbage Matte effect. This will work in Premiere Pro CC 2014 and 2014.1.

  1. Apply a Four-Point Garbage Matte to the clip in question.
  2. In the Effect Controls Panel (Shift+5) click on the effect name so the points are visible in the Program Monitor.
  3. Drag all the points off of your frame. It can help to change the Zoom level so you can see the space outside your frame. The clip you are masking is now invisible.
  4. In the Effect Controls click on the type of mask you'd like: ellipse, polygon, or free draw.
  5. Adjust, invert, and feather to taste.

This little trick is fast and also means you can use tracking as well. I use this often when I have a client in the room during a finishing session and we notice a little something in the frame that needs to be removed. By duping the clip to a second layer and masking around a clean part of the frame you can then reposition the masked clip to cover the unwanted part of the bottom layer. Obviously for more complex keyframing and tracking a Dynamic Link to AfterEffects will be better, but this method can work wonders when the quick and dirty is what you need.