Video editors can use Adobe Premiere Pro transitions in a variety of simple yet effective ways to make a project feel more professional. Straight cutting from clip to clip is an efficient way to tell a story, but transitions can be used to reinforce narrative and emotive elements in your film. Here’s a quick example: the passing of time is often shown with slow Crossfades.
The best way to understand the theory behind when to use what transition is to watch your favorite movies, TV shows, and music videos. Look for when, where, and how they progress through each scene and have that inform your own projects.
In this Premiere Pro tutorial, we’ll be showing you the technical aspects of adding and editing video transitions. Let’s dive in!
What is a Transition?
A transition is an effect which is added between two pieces of media to create a dynamic animated link between the two. There are hundreds of options available, from a simple Cross Dissolve to more complicated effects such as glitch or whips. Premiere Pro also has an array of default transitions that you can add to your project.
What is a Clip Handle?
When you add a transition to your clip, a colored overlay will appear on the timeline where it’s applied.
Adding the transition will not shorten the clip to account for the overlapping footage, but continue the clip from your out/in point. Your Clip Handle is the part of the clip used beyond your In and Out points.
In the above image, you can see the transition up close. The diagonal line through the middle shows the graduation of the change between clips. In the top view, you can see how the transition has overlaid the clips and how much of each clip is the Clip Handle.
If you are adding a transition between 2 clips, you will need to make sure you have a long enough Clip Handle at the end of the first clip and the beginning of the second clip.
Applying a Transition Between Two Clips
Begin by editing your footage in the timeline until you are happy with the cut. Click on the to Effects tab at the top to change screens. In the Effects Panel, you will find a folder titled Video Transitions. This folder contains all of Adobe Premiere’s preinstalled transitions, along with any you add yourself (more on that later).
In the timeline, find the joining point between the two clips you wish to apply the transition to, then select your chosen transition in the Effects Panel. Once selected, drag it to the join between the two clips. If your Clip Handles are long enough, the transition will be applied.
Changing the duration of the transition is easy. All you need to do is drag out the effect in the timeline. Doing so will increase the duration in both directions, so long as you have long enough Clip Handles.
Advanced Transition Editing Explained
With transitions like the Cross Dissolve, there are very few options to change the overall look of it. More advanced transitions, such as Page Peel, have additional options in the Effects Control Panel to change specific elements. For example, you could modify the direction the page is turning.
How to Transition When You Don’t Have Enough Clip Handle
If you don’t have long enough Clip Handles for the transition you need to apply, there are two options to allow the transition to be added.
Edit Your Clips
The simplest solution is to re-edit your footage, by rimming off just enough of the clip to allow the transition to be added. Using the Ripple Edit tool (Press B on your keyboard), trim back the clips by the length you need the Clip Handle to be, and add your transition.
Most transitions are double-sided, meaning they get applied to both of the clips you wish to dissolve between as standard. Single-sided transitions, on the other hand, are only added to one clip and can be helpful when you do not have a long enough Clip Handle.
If one of your clips does not have a long enough Clip Handle, drag and drop the transition effect to the one that does, this will apply the clip while only using the Clip Handle that is available. Where there is no Clip Handle, the effect will use the Clip from the point the transition starts on the timeline.
Single-sided transitions can also be added to stand alone clips, for example, if you want to fade to black at the end of your film. Add your transition, in the same way, ensuring there is no other footage preceding or following it; this will automatically transition to black.
What if There are No Clip Handles?
Premiere is a clever piece of software and even has a solution for when there is no extra footage available to add the transition. Add the transition in the same way, and you will see a message pop up telling you that there is ‘Insufficient Media’ and that the transition will contain repeated frames. Premiere automatically creates its Clip Handles by repeating the end frames to form a freeze frame of the clip.
As you can see the effect looks a little odd, especially on clips that are panning or tracking. However, in some instances it can work well, creating a specific stylised transition type for your piece.
How to use Motion Array Transition Templates
Motion Array has a range of unique Premiere Pro transition templates that you can incorporate into your projects. Once the Plugin Installer has been downloaded and installed, the transitions will appear in your Effects Panel.
To create stunning visual effects with ease, drag and drop the transitions in the same ways we’ve shown you in this tutorial. Make sure you check the Effects Control panel for transition specific options.
Adobe Premiere transitions are a great way to add style and professionalism to your film. You will find some transitions work only for a specific piece, and others that become favorites and you use regularly. Stylistically it is crucial not to overdo it — sometimes less it more. One problem you should be aware of is the vast number of Adobe Premiere transitions available; both within the program and to download.
Video editors can lose hours in search of the perfect transition, or get lost in a download frenzy when new ones are released. So, remember to exercise moderation, or you’ll cut into your productivity.