Lesson ten: Editing in Premiere Pro
If you have not done so already, you’ll first need to download Premiere Pro. There is a trial option in case you don’t want to commit to paying monthly.
Note: As with any software, there are continuous updates to Premiere Pro. I don’t always have a chance to update my lessons as quickly as the updates are released. So if something confuses you or you notice anything new/different about Premiere Pro that doesn’t match up with the lesson info, please let me know and I can update it. I’m also including a few links straight to Adobe tutorials for specific features that are updated often, so you’ll always have fresh information available straight from the software creators and experts.
Customizing Your Workspace in Premiere Pro
Open the program and become acquainted with your workspace in Premiere Pro. The panels in Premiere Pro are dockable, meaning you can rearrange them by dragging and dropping to other panels, and you can add/remove panels using the list in the Window menu tab. As you change the size of a frame, other frames change size to compensate. To save your preferred layouts (ie. for different editing tasks), go to Window > Workspaces > Save as new workspace. Then it will always be available in your bar along the top of your editing window.
Common Keyboard Shortcuts
i /o : in / out (when trimming clips in source monitor)
Spacebar: play clip or sequence
Command + s: save
up/down arrows: move between edit points
Left/right arrows: moves left-right through timeline by frame (holding down shift moves 5 frames at a time)
Alt + [ and ]: set work area bar to preview or export specific region (hit enter to play, or a export only work area bar)
+ and -: zoom in and out
Ctrl + d: default transition (or you can select a sequence and add these using the sequence tab)
Ctrl + shift + d: default audio transition (or you can select a sequence and add these using the sequence tab)
Command + pull down on clip to nudge a clip into the timeline
V : Selection tool - The default tool, used to select clips in the timeline.
B : Ripple Edit tool - Adjust an edit point and move other clips in the timeline to compensate.
C : Razor tool - Cut a clip (or multiple clips) into two clips.
H : Hand tool - Drag timeline left and right
T - Title tool - Draw a text box over a clip to add a text overlay or to create a title
workflow for creating your film
Broken down into steps, with instructions detailed below. This is a lot of content, so work through it at your own pace and take breaks/ask questions as needed.
(Reminder: RENDER AND SAVE OFTEN WHILE EDITING)
1. start new project
Start new project. Title it something you can remember for reference and decide where you’d like to store all your Premiere Pro video projects (this means the version you are editing; not your final exported project). Mine are located here:
2. import clips
Import video clips from desktop folder for your first project (or wherever you save them if you have been filming for a while already). I now have a dedicated external hard drive (EHD) for all my video projects since the files are large and I have made so many films, and that is backed up automatically to Time Machine. It keeps my computer running more efficiently.
Be sure to also import supplementary audio clips from external microphones or other devices.
3. organize your footage
Organize your footage if you have various frame rates, multiple cameras, or audio from a separate device. The best way to do this is by creating bins and sorting everything out first. It’s an extra step, but you’ll appreciate the organization as you are working on your project. I think of it like gathering the ingredients and prepping them into mixing bowls and spoons before I bake. It’s not essential, but it makes the process go smoother.
I first expand my view in the Project panel so I can see the specs for my clips (in list view, not icon). Then I click on frame rate to sort by frame rate, leaving all standard frame rate clips as they are and highlighting + (right click) duplicating the 60fps clips to drop them into a new bin in the bottom of the Project panel. See Bin icon below.
That bin will be slow motion clips for audio use kept in their native frame rate since you won’t be using the video, just the audio from the clips (to layer into your film when you want the ambient sounds or talking of that moment but the voice is out of sync with the faces--you can layer it anywhere you’d like!). The original 60fps footage can be dragged into another new bin and interpreted into slow motion. Then any additional audio clips or other camera footage you have collected can go into their own bins with labels, if you’d like.
Note the different colors above. You have the option to label your clips with colors so you can identify them easily by type in the timeline. Right click, label. I like to label my slow motion rose color and my slow motion for audio clips mango so I can see where they are floating when I bring them into the timeline. I also usually label my imported audio clips.
Watch this demo on organizing footage in a First 48 film:
4. working with multiple frame rates
Creating a slow motion effect using 60fps clips: Here are two ways to interpret your slow motion clips to see the footage slowed down and use them in your film. Without being interpreted, higher frame rate footage will look a bit ‘off,’ but won’t look like slow motion until you slow it down:
Technique #1 – Slow clips down in your timeline
This one is simple and straightforward if you only have a few slow motion clips. Place a 60p clip in your timeline.
Right click > Speed/Duration
Set your speed to 40%.
Now your footage is in smooth slow-motion. You can experiment with frame blending and optical flow options to achieve your desired visual results. I find I generally prefer Optical Flow.
Technique #2 – Re-interpret frame rate
This is an efficient way to make multiple clips slow-motion in one simple step once you have all your footage organized. This will make any selected clips in your bin slow-motion, so if you want to keep your original 100% speed clips in your project, you’ll want to duplicate them (right click > Duplicate) before doing this, as I mentioned above in Organization.
Select your clips in your bin that you want to make slow-motion. Right click > Modify > Interpret Footage.
Select “Assume this frame rate” and set the value to your Timeline’s frame rate to create the slow motion effect. Then just add them to your project as usual, but they will now be in smooth slow motion. You can also choose optical flow to enhance the slow motion look for such clips by highlighting and choosing that option under the menu bar. Clip settings > Modify.
5. rough cut
Now that your footage is ready, let’s get started with our rough cut! There are a few ways to create the basic structure of a film. As with everything creative, find what works best for you. Please get into a good habit of SAVING AND RENDERING continuously (to render is to process the footage and effects by clicking Sequence > Rendering entire workspace or whichever option is most relevant for you after your edits). Think of rendering like ironing out wrinkles as you work; it enhances the efficiency of Premiere Pro and speeds up your workflow. I render and save every 5-10 minutes, or anytime after intensive detail editing work like refining and audio or effects editing. Here are two ways to lay out your film:
One by one: To add in each clip individually, select a clip from the Project bin. It will appear in the Source monitor. Using i /o to signal in / out points (when trimming clips) and using the spacebar shortcut to play the clip or sequence, trim clip in the Source monitor and transfer video (drag and drop from film icon) or audio (drag and drop from wavelength icon) or both (grab image of clip itself and pull into timeline). The advantage of this method is seeing your film laid out in real time, knowing the length it will be as you go, and not having all your footage waiting to be culled down in the timeline (which can feel overwhelming to some).
I personally prefer ‘timeline base editing’ which means we lay all the clips out in the timeline by highlighting all and dragging and dropping, then scrubbing through the sequence viewing clips and (if you wish) listening to the audio, trimming off the excess and adjusting as you go along. To trim, simply move the end bars to make a clip shorter. You can also use the ripple edit tool to hold as you scrub across the clip and release to trim, and the spaces will close right up. You can also use the razor blade tool in the editing toolbar to slice up a clip into smaller clips. If you are not using the ripple delete tool, you can either click the space and hit delete OR right click > Ripple delete. Audio tracks will prevent spaces from being deleted in video timeline, so they need to be moved out of the way before a ripple delete can be made OR you can lock any tracks you want to stay put (be mindful of attached and floating audio clips when you do this, you want to preserve the integrity of your project).
Once you have laid out your rough cut footage and you can visualize the general structure and mood of your film, you can pull in any supplementary audio clips you collected and place them where you feel they best tell or support the story. You can also pull audio from your uninterpreted slow motion for audio folder. You can browse these clips, or you might recall something that happened while you were filming and you want to use the audio from that moment. Think outside the box with this; the audio need not have happened at the same time as the moment to be impactful and relevant. Think of these as emotive sound bytes to bring life to your story. *Please note that audio tracks will prevent spaces from being deleted in the video tracks, so they need to be moved out of the way before a ripple delete can be made OR you can lock any tracks you want to stay put (be mindful of attached and floating audio clips when you do this, as you want to preserve the integrity of your project). Same goes for locking video tracks when trying to ripple delete audio.
Watch this demo of ‘timeline based editing’ as I cull the first part of a personal film, and review organizing of footage and conversion to slow motion:
Using the toolbar: Note the vertical toolbar with ripple edit tool selected. Other tools I utilize are the razor tool, selection arrow, and text tool. Also note the Snap (magnet) for the timeline is selected, this means that when clips are moved they will ‘snap’ together to make it easy to drag and drop for a close fit without gaps or overlapping. The available features of a complex editing system like Premiere Pro are extensive and vast, and my goal for this course is to empower you, not overwhelm you. But you are certainly welcome to read about all the additional features Premiere Pro has and explore them as you feel ready!
A bit about Sequences: Every time you lay down a series of footage in the Timeline, you are creating or adding to a sequence. This reference icon also shows up in your Project panel, and reflects all the changes as you edit. I prefer to work in one single sequence for each of my projects because that’s how I learned and it feels comfortable to me. But I know others who like to work with multiple sequences. You won’t use multiple sequences right away, but as you begin getting into more complex projects, you may wish to isolate a series of clips to work on by creating a sequence that matches the characteristics of the primary assets (clips) that you’ll be editing. You can create a sequence that matches the characteristics of a clip by dragging the clip to the New Item button at the bottom of the Project panel. See New Item icon below.
Or go to File > New > Sequence and select the type of camera your footage is from and the settings of the footage.
Every Premiere Pro project can contain one or more sequences with multiple audio and video tracks running parallel to each other in the Timeline, and each sequence in a project can have settings different from the settings for the others. For example, one project can contain one sequence optimized for 30fps widescreen clips, another for standard 24fps, and still another for 60fps footage intended for slow motion. You can assemble and rearrange sequences in one or more Timeline panels, where their clips, transitions, and effects are represented visually. You can open a particular sequence on a tab in a Timeline panel among other sequences, or keep it by itself in its own dedicated Timeline panel. Multiple tracks are used to superimpose or mix clips. A sequence must contain at least one video track and one audio track. As I mentioned, most of my projects are in one single sequence (and all other clips in the sequence conform to the settings of the original clip I first laid down), but using separate sequences can be useful if you get into more complex projects and combining different types of footage/effects. Read more about Sequences from Adobe here.
6. storytelling while editing
Editing is truly where so much of the magic happens! Here are some tips for storytelling while editing:
Only include the portion of each clip that makes you feel something or that is important/beautiful, and worthy details that enrich the story. Trim the rest away!
Try to ensure that the action completes itself during the frame. If a child is running through, end the clip once the child leaves the frame. If someone twirls, wait until the twirl is complete before ending the clip. These approaches will leave you with meaningful moment after moment while creating a greater emotional impact, and will also make the most sense to the viewer.
Try not to include the same type of camera movement back-to-back, but rather lay down your clips with variety and purpose. Sprinkle in the B-roll footage as it is relevant to the scene and as you see fit.
Now here’s the BIG one. Try to organize your story with intention while editing:
Visualize the story as a whole
Look for themes, emerging from the footage
Consider the traditional story arc with opening, middle, and closing and see if your story lends itself to that structure
Lay your story out in a way that makes sense to the viewer AND is visually inspiring
Consider whether your story will be linear (chronological) or structured around a theme or a single scene, with time playing a lesser role? Will there be scene development (in different rooms, with different activities, etc) with transitions between scenes, or is it a series of moments and details from a single time or event strung together in an emotive and thoughtful way? There is no right or wrong way, but good filmmakers always seek to give viewers an exceptional experience. And YOU are the primary viewer, so you should be loving your film regardless of what anyone else thinks
Above all, always consider what your goal is in telling a story, whether it be for yourself or for someone else
7. create a title
For a quick way to create a simple title, you can overlay text using the Title tool (select T tool, then click on the clip you want to draw the text box in). Finally, select the clip where the Title is in the timeline, and click on the Effect Controls panel to adjust the text. If you want to create a blank background title, you can select new item > matte color (default is black) and drag that into your timeline to add your title overlay. The Titles functions for Premiere Pro are ever-evolving, so I recommend learning straight from Adobe’s Title and Graphics instructions for this since I am constantly updating myself on the new options and interface. You can also right click and export a Title as a Motion Graphics template, which can save you time when creating client films with your logo and/or consistent Title/Closing clips.
8. import your music file
Import your music file (make sure it’s the WAV file for the final version--ok to use watermarked lower-res files while editing your project and testing out songs). You can easily substitute the watermarked track for the high quality track (saving all keyframes, effects, and splicing) by first navigating to the project panel. Find your original (watermarked or low quality) track in the panel. Right click on the audio clip and select Replace Footage. Then select the final version and click Open. Check to confirm that your audio has been replaced. As long as the tracks were of the same duration, this works great and saves so much time!
9. refining for emotional impact
Refining your film is an important step for infusing your creative voice, enhancing meaning, and presenting your story with intention. For greater emotional impact and a heightened viewer experience, here are ways in which I refine my films:
Sync music beats to film clips by listening to the music while you watch and trimming clips here and there, specifically when there is a change or distinct feature in the music. You can also align emotion in music with poignant moments where possible. You can zoom in and out (+/- in the timeline) as necessary to see the tracks up close as they play and visualize the waveforms of a song as you watch your film playing. This makes it easier to see and hear where to trim clips to add impact. This step can be time-consuming, but I think this is one aspect that sets my work apart from other artists and is the reason why people tell me they can watch my films over and over even when they don’t know the family personally. I trim away all the fat for a seamless and engaging viewing experience. This is what I’m known for. It takes a bit of practice, but once you get the hang of it it will become second nature and will actually be a fun step in refining your films.
Remove unnecessary audio by deleting the clips (you can highlight multiple clips along a track and click delete).
Adjust audio levels to have important audio be clear and distinct. Do this by pulling up on the line across the audio clip to increase volume of a clip. You can also right click > Audio Gain and bump up the gain by 5-10db to enhance the sound. Be cautious to not overdo it with this or you’ll end up with hollow, fake audio. If you do over-do it, you can right click > Remove Attributes and select audio effects to start from scratch again.
Add keyframes to adjust audio and video effects on a small scale and to transition them in and out gradually so they won’t sound or look jarring as a sudden change would. A keyframe marks the point in time where you specify a value, such as opacity or audio volume. To create a change in a property over time, you set at least two keyframes: one keyframe for the value at the beginning of the change, and another keyframe for the value at the end of the change.
I generally make two keyframes for each in/out so that I can spread them out for a longer transition. Premiere Pro then creates a gradual change in values between keyframes, called interpolation. You can work with keyframes either in the Timeline or in the Effect Controls panel.
In case you’re interested, this tutorial gives an in-depth look at keyframes.
Add any video or audio effects that you feel called to artistically or for technical or corrective purposes. Explore the Effects tab and use the Effect Controls to manipulate them to suit your taste. I don’t use these often, but occasionally I do use them to enhance a story or enhance footage. They can be very effective when applied thoughtfully. One effect you may find helpful to use occasionally is Warp Stabilizer, which will help to smooth and stabilize shaky clips. Video Effects > Distort > Warp Stabilizer (drag onto clip). Just watch to be sure there is no jiggle in the clip, paying special attention to the sides of the clip. You can tone this down in the Effect Controls by reducing the percentage.
Add video transitions and audio transitions (Effects tab). A note about transitions: Usually, you don’t want a transition to occur during the essential action in a scene. For this reason, transitions work best with handles—the extra frames beyond the In and Out points set for the clip (basically unseen footage that has been trimmed). The handle between a clip’s Media Start time and In point is referred to as a head, and the handle between a clip’s Out point and Media End time is sometimes called a tail. Sometimes, the source media does not contain enough extra frames for clip handles. If you apply a transition, and the handle duration is too short to cover the transition duration, an alert appears to warn you that frames are repeated to cover the duration. You’ll notice this with two raw, untrimmed clips butted together (notice the little triangle in the corner of an untrimmed clip). If you decide to proceed, the transition appears in the Timeline panel with diagonal warning bars through it. You could double click to shorten the duration of the transition, or trim the clips a bit to create a head/tail. Or you can just leave the transition as-is and for the most part that will work fine.
Watch some of these editing techniques in action as I refine part of this fusion video (compilation of still photos + video footage):
10. color grading
Color grading is highly subjective, and the Lumetri color panel is another feature that is constantly evolving. It would be helpful for you to watch this tutorial from Adobe on color correcting and color grading using Lumetri color panel in Premiere Pro. That way you will understand how to color grade and correct your footage in a style that you prefer.
I prefer to edit in a clean style, for a timeless and natural look that won’t appear dated years from now. Here are the steps to my basic color correction and color grade:
I scan the footage as a whole and decide if I can batch color correct and grade (if they were shot in the same lighting conditions) or if I need to adjust clips individually (generally if they were shot in different lighting conditions).
Use sliders for quick basic adjustments to exposure, contrast, saturation, temperature, blacks.
Gentle S curve on the tone curve, if you like that look.
Adjust white balance using the eyedropper. Click the eyedropper and use it to select white in the frame, or the closest color to white. Then do minor adjustments with the temperature slider. Eyeball all the footage to ensure colors are consistent across the film.
Alternatively, I often apply the Kodak Fuji Reala 500D LUT supplied in the Creative Panel, and I always dial back the intensity to 15-25%. I find it gives me just enough pop, contrast, a hint of film look, while still maintaining a clean look. If you shot the footage in standard picture profile, a simple grade will be enough. If you shoot flat or neutral, you’ll want to make sure you are adding in contrast and maybe saturation/sharpness/etc as you wish within the Lumetri panel or your footage will look flat and dull. You will still need to check white balance if you use a LUT.
Once you’re happy with the way your color correction and color grade looks, you can save the preset. Simply right click on the Lumetri Color header at the top of the panel and select Save Preset. In the popup window, name your new effect something you can remember (either a basic workflow type name or specific to the session you are working on). You can now find your presets in the Effects panel under Presets or by searching for the name of your preset in the Effects search bar.
You can apply changes to multiple clips using adjustment layers. Make sure you are in the Project tab first. Then click File >New > Adjustment Layer in the menu bar. The layer will show up as a file in your Project bin. Drag it onto a video track above your clips and extend it to the clips you’d like to batch edit. Then make sure the adjustment layer is highlighted and click on the Color panel in the workspace tabs. Adjust what you’d like to, and the changes will affect all the clips encompassed by the adjustment layer. To break up the layer (if you don’t want the changes on a specific section of the adjustment layer) you can use the razor blade tool in the Timeline toolbar to slice out portions of the adjustment layer and delete them. This can be helpful for editing the adjustment layer away from an all white title slide.
11. create closing (title) slide
Create closing (Title) slide and add to the end of the timeline (same way you created the first Title slide)
12. frame capture for cover
Frame Capture for cover: Click the camera icon above the timeline, and direct your jpg to the preferred location for use as a cover in Facebook and Vimeo.
13. final render and save
Final render, save.
14. making fusion videos
Sometimes you may want to incorporate still images into your video project. This combination is called a fusion video. Here are the steps I use to create a fusion video:
To create a fusion video, select and edit still images in Lightroom that you want to incorporate into your video.
Export them at 16:9 aspect ratio to the folder containing your video files, so you can keep everything for that project in one place.
Import the stills into Premiere Pro and pull them into wherever you want them in the timeline.
Right click on Images and choose Set to Frame Size.
Trim clips and sync music to taste. You can double click on an image and change the duration (or select multiple clips at a time).
Add transitions from stills to video and vice versa (I like to select multiple clips and click Sequence > Add default transitions).
Color correct and grade.
In general, it’s best to represent different moments with stills vs. video, rather than to include a moment in both formats. This helps maintain interest and avoid repetition. Remember to always consider how to best tell the story for any given moment; choose stills for moments of quiet or stillness that can be strongly composed as a single frame or series, and choose video if the moment contains meaningful audio, movement, dynamic connection, changing light, or emotion that would benefit the story. I also often make stills when I have a whole family (or all the siblings) together in one frame, in addition to the film clips, just because having everyone in the frame is very valuable.