HDR Enhancement using Premiere Pro

This tutorial was written by Digital Studio Student Assistant, Alben Chingo. Learn more about Alben and our other student assistants here.

Prepping the Footage

While holding down the Alt-key, select the footage and drag it up to duplicate it onto the tab above that (V3).


Select the duplicated footage. With the duplicated footage selected, go to the effects library (the effects library is located in the bottom left corner box).

The bottom left box should now show the effects library bin. In the search box, search for tint (which will then appear under the color correction folder which is within video effects).

Select the tint effect and drag it onto the duplicated clip. (footage will appear black and white, ignore for now).

Go into the Effects Control panel, in the top left box. Click on opacity. Uncheck the timer on the opacity row, and change the blending mode (under the Opacity row) to soft light.

Click on the right facing arrow in the opacity row to open a slider box beneath it. Move the slider to the 30%-40% mark. I prefer the opacity percentage to be closer to thirty (32%). This is subjective depending on the footage itself. This changes the prominence of the shadows, which you can manipulate to make it look more cinematic.

Time to REALLY Edit

Go back into your project bin, where you can see your clips (found in the bottom left box).

Go into “File”, click (or hover over) “New”, then click on “Adjustment Layer.”

An Adjustment Layer Box will appear, click “OK”. The Adjustment Layer will appear in the project bin as an all black box. Click and drag the Adjustment Layer onto the tab above your duplicated clip, and resize it to fit.

Next, go back into the Effects Library bin and search for “Unsharpen Mask”. It will appear under the “Blur and Sharpen” folder.

Click and Drag onto the Adjustment Layer like before. Now we can adjust the Amount, the Radius, and the Threshold in the Effects Control (found in the top left box).

Set the Amount to or around 250.

Home Stretch

Go back to the Project Bin (in the bottom left box). Go to File -> New -> Adjustment Layer (again). Click OK. Drag that second Adjustment Layer to the tab above the 1st adjustment layer and resize it to match.


Click on the duplicated Adjustment Layer. Once more, search for Unsharpen Mask in the effects library and drag it onto the duplicated Adjustment Layer. Set the amount of the Unsharpen Mask to your taste. I prefer to set it to around 75.

Open up the Opacity tab (Uncheck the timer if its checked) and change the Blending Mode to “Lighten”. Change the Opacity to your preference. I prefer around the mid 20s (25). Finally, choose a Color Grading you want, or color correct the footage to your taste on the very last clip.

Keep in mind, the amount in percentages of the effects is subjective. The point is to make it look as HD as possible, and the percentages will depend on the lighting and color of your footage as well as your personal preference. Adjust it to suit your own taste.

You can also remove excessive grain to increase the HD effect, which can be done in After Effects, but this also depends on the footage itself. Don’t forget to keep in mind that the footage will look slightly different after rendering it as well.