Adobe Premiere is one of those easy-to-learn, hard-to-master programs. Here are 15 things I’ve learned along the way that will help you become a pro.
Are you tired of spending all of your time figuring things out in Premiere? Looking to speed up your editing workflow? Do you want to delete the program and never look at a render screen again, then sell your belongings to begin a life of solitude in the mountains? Well, don’t do that. Today, I’m going to show you 15 things I’ve learned in Premiere over the years that I wish I knew as a beginner, so you can move beyond that amateur stage and become a Premiere . . . pro.
Get it . . . ? Never mind. Let’s get started.
1. Audio Syncing
When I first started using clips recorded on a separate audio and video system, I would always sync each clip individually with a clapper, and use the manual process of lining the clips up correctly. I was doing that until I found the much-easier route: the synchronization button.
Drag your audio and video clip into the timeline, then select both. Right-click, and then select Synchronize. The sync window will pop up, and from there, select the audio button to sync both tracks. Remember, your camera needs scratch audio for this to work, so make sure you’re recording onboard audio before you shoot. Once you click the sync button, your tracks will sync.
If you’d like to make a bin full of synced clips, you can select your synced clips, right-click, select group, and then drag those merged clips to a new bin.
2. Color Coding with Bins
If you’re like me, you have trouble keeping your project window organized. A little thing I learned to keep it clean from the moment you start your project is by importing folders directly into Premiere. You don’t have to group-select each clip to import them all — you can drag the entire folder into Premiere, and it will automatically turn it into a labeled bin.
So to make things easier, organize your assets during ingestion to your hard drive, then when you need to import, you can just drag the folders in. To organize even further, try color-coding your clips. Highlight the clips in each bin, and select a color from the label tab. Now, each folder will have its own corresponding color in your timeline, which will help you keep track of each type of asset, especially if you have many types of audio and video clips from different cameras and recorders.
3. Workspace Customization
Your Premiere workspace is critically important to the speed of your edits. Here, I’ve got Premiere open. This is the normal edit page that most editors use. The three windows that I tend to use the most are the Lumetri Color tab, the Effects tab, and the Effect Controls tab. On the right side, I put the Lumetri tab and the Effects tab together so they’re easily accessible during an edit. I’ll also add the Essential Graphics tab over there for quick graphic access.
Once you’ve customized your space, you can save it by going to Window > Workspace > Save as New Workspace. Now, you can access your tailor-made space even after you close down the software. One keyboard shortcut you should know is the full-screen shortcut: the tilde key will maximize any window in Premiere, which helps if you would like a quick full-screen view of your program window.
4. Option + Drag to Copy a Clip
Tired of the old Command C + Command V to duplicate your clips? For a quick duplication, simply hold the option key and drag a selected clip to the side to duplicate that clip. You can also use the option key to select individual layers of grouped media, such as a video clip with attached audio. I use this all the time to batch delete scratch audio off my timeline once I’m done syncing.
5. Ctrl/Cmmd + K for Splitting Clips
One of my biggest pet peeves as a beginner in Premiere was using the cut tool. It was clunky, and it wasn’t as efficient as I wanted it to be when I wanted to split a clip. With the Ctrl/Cmmd + K shortcut, you can create a split directly on your timeline at your playhead. This is probably my most-used shortcut, and for good reason — it saves time.
6. New Item Tab – Bars and Tone, Black Video, Color Matte
One thing that many new users don’t know about in Premiere is the New Item tab. There’s a whole load of assets in there that are super useful for your videos. Here are three that I find the most useful.
- The adjustment layer is perfect for applying an effect to your entire timeline. If I’m trying to apply a LUT to my entire timeline very quickly, I will add an adjustment layer to the top of my timeline and then add the LUT from there. That effect will transfer to everything below the adjustment layer.
- The black video item is great for placing underneath graphics that need a black background.
- Bars and Tone is also very convenient if you need to bleep someone out.
7. Dragging the Video or Audio tabs from clip
When you’re trying to throw on a B-roll clip from your source window, just drag it from the small film strip icon, and it will drag the video only onto your timeline — without the audio. The same goes for dragging the audio from the waveform icon next to the film strip.
8. Replace with After Effects Comp
If you need a quick AE title sequence on top of one of your clips, but don’t want to go through the hassle of opening a new project and rendering something out, try replacing your clip with an AE composition. Just right-click it, and select Replace with After Effects Composition. From there, AE will open with your clip, and you can add titles and effects directly to that clip. No need to render, either — just save the AE project, and it will automatically link to the Premiere project.
For more After Effects tutorials for beginners, check out Todd Blankenship’s series on After Effects.
9. Audio Gain
If you want to batch increase the volume of your audio timeline, the Audio Gain button is a super effective tool. Just highlight the clips you would like to increase, and select Audio Gain. From there, add a few decibels of volume, and your timeline will get louder.
10. Nesting Large Clips/Graphics
If you’ve got a huge graphics stack that is taking up way too much space on your timeline, try nesting your clips. It consolidates all of the selected layers on the timeline into a single layer. Just highlight your desired clips, right-click, and select Nest. It will shrink all those clips to one track. If you need to access the individual layers, just double-click the nest, and it will bring you to a sequence including the source clips.
11. Lumetri: Using the Curves
Adding contrast is one of the many things you’ve got to do to Log or S-Log footage to get it to look right. But the contrast slider on Lumetri Color just won’t cut it. Try “crushing the darks” of your clip by creating a sine curve in the Curves section of Lumetri Color. This will crush the darker parts of your clips while bringing up the highlights.
12. Lumetri Creative Tab
Most LUT tutorials will tell you to add the LUT to the “Input LUT” section of Lumetri Color. I mean, that seems like the most obvious one. But, you have no control over the intensity. Try adding it to the “Look” section of the Creative tab. It will allow you to use a slider to adjust the intensity of the LUT.
13. Copy and Pasting Attributes Using Ctrl+Alt+V
This is just a keyboard shortcut that I use a lot. Say I have a color grade on the first clip in my timeline, and a whole row of clips beside it that need the same grade. I would just Ctrl/Cmd+C the clip to copy its properties, then select the rest of the clips, and press Ctrl+Alt+V (for PC) or Cmd+Option+V for Mac. This will open up the “Paste Attributes” tab, which allows you to paste over attributes from your copied clip.
14. Masking and Tracking with the Pen Tool
One of the biggest misses in my early Premiere education was not learning how to mask correctly. If you want to raise the highlights on someone’s face, but not the background, create a new mask using the pen tool under Opacity. Circle your desired area, and then a new mask will appear. Duplicate your original clip and place it underneath the masked clip. Now, you have two individual layers that you can edit separately. If it’s a face that’s moving around, you can track it directly in Premiere. Just click the play button next to the mask in the Effect Controls, and Premiere will auto-track that face for the duration of the clip.
15. Time Remapping Settings
If you want to perform a speed ramp, don’t bother with the “Speed/Duration” effect on your clip. You can actually do it directly on your clip by right-clicking > Show Clip Keyframes > Time Remapping > Speed. This will place a little rubber band on your clip that you can use to increase and decrease the speed of your clip. Create a ramp by placing a keyframe with the pen tool and raising one side of the band. For more info about speed ramping, check out our tutorial on time remapping.
Interested in the tracks we used to make this video?
- “Fine Wine” by Soulish
- “Grooving Around You” by Ulas Pakkan
- “Flaming Lo Fi” by Trending Music
- “Abstract Chill Hop” by Trending Music
- “Tempting” by Trending Music
- “Warmer than Tape” by Sugar Beats
- “Hot Hip” by Trending Music
- “Classic Beat” by Sugar Beats
Looking for more on film and video production? Check out these articles.