Basic Editing in Premiere

Overview

This article will cover the basics of Adobe Premiere. To learn how to start a new Premiere project from scratch, see our other guide here. Premiere is available in all of our labs in the DFL (6th Floor Ansin) and DPL (8th Floor Ansin), so come on by to get some hands on experience with the program.

We recommend learning Premiere if you aren't familiar with any editing programs. It is far more user-friendly than Avid, and Premiere is increasingly able to hold it's own against other programs. As with any editing program, Premiere will take time to learn and even more time to master. Our advice? Practice. Learn Premiere when you actually have a project that needs to be cut. Doing so will force you to become familiar with the program and make future editing projects seem less intimidating.

Getting Started 

Importing Your Media

  • Navigate to File > Import or use the shortcut CMD + I.
  • Find your footage in the browser window. If you already have your footage organized in folders within Finder, Premiere will import your folder structure as well.
  • Select your footage and hit "Import".
  • Your clips will now appear in the project window in the bottom left of your screen.

User Interface and Editing

Source/Record and Timeline

This is Premiere's main interface. The top left window is your source monitor. It previews the clip you currently have selected in the project window. To the right is the record monitor, which previews your sequence based on the location of your playhead. In the example bellow, the source monitor displays the original clip as it appears in the bin, while the record monitor displays the same clip with an effect that has been added in the sequence.

 

Beneath your two monitors is the project window (left) and timeline (right). The project window contains tabs for your media, info, effects, and more. When a sequence is open, it will appear in the timeline. Notice that in the example above, the clip of the streetlight has been used to create a new sequence, which also appears in the project window. Maintaining multiple sequences is important in organizing larger projects. Many editors, for example, will choose to have one sequence for every scene in their film; the sequences are then copied and pasted in order into a final sequence for finishing touches.

Tools

Like any editing program, Premiere has a set of tools for manipulating clips in the timeline. These tools can be found to the left of the timeline window. We strongly recommend that you learn the keyboard shortcuts for each tool, as they will increase your editing speed significantly.

  • Select (V) - The select tool selects. There's not much to it.
  • Track Select Forward (A) - This tool is great for moving large portions of a sequence without potentially disrupting the cuts you have made. Clicking anywhere on the timeline with this tool will select all clips to the right of that point.
  • Track Select Backwards (Shift + A) - Works the same as the Track Select Forwards Tool, only it selects clips to the left of your cursor.
  • Ripple Edit (B) - This tool will push and pull other clips in your sequence when you lengthen or shorten a clip.
  • Rolling Edit (N) - This tool will overwrite other clips in your sequence when you lengthen neighboring clips.
  • Rate Stretch (R) - Using this tool on the edge of a clip will cause the clip to slow down or speed up when extended or shortened respectively. Great for making quick speed adjustments.
  • Razor (C) - The razor tool makes cuts. Keep in mind that when snap is on (toggle with "S"), the razor tool will 'snap' to your playhead if it gets too close. Toggling snap off is useful for making more precise edits.
  • Slip (Y) - This tool allows you to tweak the contents of a clip already in your sequence. Clicking and dragging in a clip that has been cut down from its original duration will adjust which portion of the clip you keep in your timeline.
  • Slide (U) - Like a rolling edit, this tool will overwrite any clips it supersedes, but unlike a rolling edit, it moves the selected clip forwards or backwards as well.
  • Pen (P) - This tool is for keyframing, a way of triggering and controlling animations. For new users, this tool is probably most relevant for adjusting the volume of audio tracks. To do so, expand your audio track (scroll or double click in the black space between the mute/solo toggles and the sequence) and click on the white line that appears in between the two waveforms. Click elsewhere on the line to create other keyframes. You can move these points with the select tool to create ramps and valleys that will impact the volume of your track.
  • Hand (H) - Allows you to move through the sequence by clicking and dragging.
  • Zoom (Z) - Zooms in and out of the sequence. Hold ALT while using the tool to zoom out.

Adding Clips to a Sequence

  • Open a clip in the source monitor by double clicking it in the project window.
  • Set an in-point (I) and an out-point (O).
  • Insert or overwrite the clip using "," and "." respectively. Inserting a clip will push other clips in the sequence to the right of the playhead to make room, while overwriting a clip will simply superimpose that clip over any clips to the right of the playhead.

Tracks

In the left side of the timeline window are your track controls. Video tracks occupy the top half of the timeline, while audio tracks occupy the bottom half. In this example, I have expanded the V1 (video 1) and A1 (audio 1) tracks by double clicking in the empty space to the right side of the screenshot. Doing so brings up options for keyframing, shows a thumbnail on video tracks, and displays waveforms for the left and right inputs on audio tracks.

The small "S" icons will solo an audio track, meaning that all other audio tracks will be muted. The small "M" icon mutes an individual track. You may notice that there are two 'blocks' for V1 and A1: this is because the blocks on the left control how clips from the source monitor are added to the sequence, while the blocks on the right control how clips are pasted in the sequence.

You can also toggle sync lock and track output using the two icons visible above "Video 1" in the image bellow. Enabling sync lock blocks you from moving audio and video tracks from the same clip independently of each other. Disabling track output is the video equivalent of the mute toggle; it will disable that video track. Locking a track via the lock icon will prevent you from inadvertently making changes to that track.