How To Brighten Dark Videos [In Premiere Pro]

In this post I’m going to show you how you brighten videos in Premiere Pro!

Hey guys, my name is Scott and I make full and mini tutorials like this one on Premiere Pro, Photoshop, and Freelancing tips. So please do consider hitting the subscribe button at the top right of this page, so you don’t miss any of those! Ok let’s get into how we can brighten videos in Premiere.

I have video here of a kind of creepy alleyway, with some lights flickering on and off. And the footage is sort of dark, so I want to brighten this up somewhat. There’s a few ways to do this in Premiere, so I’m going to show you the quickest and easiest way first.

If I go down to my effects panel, and type in brightness, an effect called “brightness and contrast” should come up. I’ll just drag and drop this onto my clip. Then, over in the effects control panel, there’s an option to adjust the brightness levels by increasing the amount of light or decreasing it. And I can do the exact same for the contrast. So I can play around with each of these settings until I get the right look that I want, and it’s pretty much that simple.

There’s another way that I usually prefer to use because I just like the way it’s set up better in Premiere. It’s an older effect, that’s listed in the obsolete effects. But if I go back to my effects panel and this time type in RGB curves, an effect by the same name should come up. Again, I’ll drag and drop this onto my clip. Heading back over to the effects control panel, I’ll go to the brightness and contrast effect and I can hide this effect by clicking on the letters “FX” next to the panel. When I do that I can turn on and off the effect, but I’m going to leave it off for right now. 

Below that should be the RGB curves effect that I just applied to the clip. And I like this effect because it’s very similar to a curves adjustment layer that you’d see in Photoshop (if you’re familiar with that). Basically I can create points on this diagonal line, and then move them up or down to adjust the brightness. For me, I think this gives me a better way to really fine tune the brightness and contrast rather than just typing in a set number.


The next thing I want to show you is, let’s say I want to brighten a specific part of the video, for example I want to make this green light at the end of the alleyway a little brighter. Well, if I go back to my effects panel and type in lighting effects, an option for that should come up. I’ll drag and drop that onto my clip. And just like before I’ll make sure all of the previous effects I added are turned off, just so you can better see how this effect changes the video. In the lighting effects panel, I’m going to select the light 1 option. 

From there, the first option should be to select a light type, I’m going to select Omni. I chose that because the other options would either spread the light out too much, or too little. For the light color, I’m going to keep it as white because I think that looks pretty natural. But if I wanted I could make it a different color by clicking on the white box and choosing another color.  Next, I can adjust where the light is centered in the video, so I just want to make sure it looks like it’s coming from the green light.

After that I can adjust the radius, which will determine how large the light will be in the video. And then really the last thing I need to do is go down to the Ambient light color, (and ambient light is not the actual light itself, but the light that you see reflected off of other surfaces like the walls and the street.) So I want the ambient light to match the green light at the end of the ally. To do that I’ll use the eyedropper to select the green color of the light. And now, the ambient light within my scene should match the green light. So if I turn this effect on and off, you’ll see what a difference it makes in lightening up the video and naturally enhancing the street light.

So that’s how you can brighten videos in premiere pro, what other kind of brightness or contrast issues are you having? Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll see if I can answer them! For more information on Premiere Pro, Photoshop and Freelancing tips head on over to my YouTube channel. Also, check out my other tutorial videos which I’ve posted on the right side of the screen here. Alright, that’s it for me guys see you in the next post!

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