Call attention to an object in a scene by emphasizing its color and desaturating everything else using Hue and Saturation curve adjustments in Adobe Premiere Pro.

Commerce site features black and white video of hiker wearing blue backpack.

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Adjustments you make to the Hue (color) and Saturation (intensity) curves in the Lumetri Color panel in Premiere Pro can result in dramatic changes to your video — such as desaturating all but one color in a scene.

Place your footage — it’s ideal if it’s naturally saturated — in a sequence and switch to the Color workspace. Option/Alt-click the video clip in the Timeline panel and drag it up to create a copy of it in the track above. Keeping the upper clip selected, expand the Basic Correction section of the Lumetri Color panel and drag the Saturation slider to increase it slightly, depending on how muted the colors are. Open the Curves section, activate the eyedropper for the Hue vs. Sat curve, and click the color you want to isolate in your shot. This places three keyframes in the curve (horizontal line). 

In the Curves section of the Lumetri Color panel, click the Hue vs Sat eyedropper and select color to isolate.

In the Hue vs. Sat curve, drag the first and last keyframes down to reduce their saturation to zero. The isolated color will remain bright, while the others will become grayscale. Depending on the actual color you targeted, you may need to widen or narrow the curve (spacing between the three keyframes) either to sufficiently include the colored highlights and shadows in your object or to exclude colors appearing elsewhere in the shot that fall close to it in the spectrum.

Drag first and last keyframes in Hue vs Sat to zero, leaving the middle one. Ensure keyframes include shadows and highlights.

When adjusting the curve width fails to exclude all traces of color from extraneous areas, you’ll need to mask your primary subject so that it constrains the area affected by the Lumetri Color curve adjustments. In our example, we’re targeting the blue in the backpack and want to exclude all traces of blue from the hiker’s shoes and socks, as well as from the foliage. Open the Effect Controls panel (Shift+5) and click one of the Opacity mask tools to create the mask. Increasing the Program Monitor’s magnification may help you finesse the mask’s shape and position.

Opacity mask is added to the blue backpack to isolate the color in that object only.

You’re done now — unless your masked object moves. In that case, track the mask for the duration of the shot. Next to Mask Path, click the wrench icon to pick the tracking method that suits your moving object best. Click one of the tracking buttons to start the tracking process. If your object enters from offscreen, first move the playhead later in the sequence so your object is in view and then track backwards. Once you’ve tracked the mask to the beginning of the shot, go back to where you started tracking and then track forward. If the tracked mask strays from the object, click Stop in the Tracking dialog box, reposition or resize the mask as appropriate, and then resume tracking. This can be a laborious process.

Move the playhead and adjust mask as needed if object moves in the scene.

Play your sequence to ensure that your object is fully, accurately tracked. Only the area inside the mask will be affected by the Lumetri Color curve adjustments; everything outside will look normal. With the lower clip selected, expand the Basic Correction section of the Lumetri Color panel and decrease Saturation to zero. Play the sequence. Now only your targeted object should show any color throughout the shot. 

Basic Correction section of the Lumetri Color panel is selected, Saturation decreased to zero.

Once you’ve singled out the color in your shot, you can change it. With the upper clip selected, adjust the Saturation slider to intensify that color or make it more muted. Back in the Curves section of the Lumetri Color panel, click the Hue vs. Hue curve to add a keyframe and then drag it around to see how the color changes to something completely different.

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