Learning to edit video takes three key elements: time, practice, and patience. Editors spend many years learning how to use Adobe Premiere Pro and developing their editing skills. What’s more, every type of film — narrative, promotional, documentary, and more — will require a different set of skills and talents.
It is unlikely that you will become a master in all forms of editing, but everyone has to start somewhere. So, if you’re new, this tutorial will help you get started with Adobe Premiere and guide you on how to use transitions, titles, music, and color effects.
At first glance, Adobe Premiere seems like a complicated piece of software that will be hard to grasp. A lot of would-be video editors are overwhelmed by the complexities of using Adobe software and opt for less robust programs such as Final Cut Pro or iMovie. However, this is where patience pays off as if you stick with it you will find Premiere is a far superior video editing tool that is limited only by your imagination.
Premiere Pro is divided into several screens to help simplify the user interface and keep all relevant tools in their place. The screens look like this:
- Learning: The learning Screen has a host of Adobe made tutorials and walkthroughs to guide you through the editing process.
- Assembly: This screen is designed to allow you to review and label your rushes, as well as to begin to build your assembly cut.
- Edit: This is where the main cutting, trimming and ordering of your footage takes place, along with any cropping, resizing and positioning of clips.
- Color: The color screen contains all of the tools you need for grading your film; either white balancing and matching your clips together or more stylized color palettes.
- Effects: The Effects screen is where you add all of the transitions between clips, along with any effects you want to add to the clips themselves, for example, Sharpening, Noise, and Grain.
- Audio: This is where you can manage all of your audio assets, including all diegetic audio (Sound for which the source is in the shot: actors voices, sounds made by objects in the film, etc) and non-diegetic audio (Sound which is added from outside of the film world: narration, soundtrack, etc).
- Graphics: This is where you will add any titles, lower thirds, and subtitles to your finished piece.
You can import footage from any of the screens, but best practice it to import from the Assembly to Editing Screen.
There are three ways to import your clips:
- Go to File on the top menu bar and select Import.
- Right-click in the Project Browser and select Import
- Press Command + I on your keyboard.
Once you have brought up the file browser, you can navigate to the location of your clips, select them and hit the Import button. You can select multiple clips at once, or you can select entire folders to import. Once imported the footage will be available for you to view in the Media Browser.
Creating a Sequence
Creating a sequence can be a little tricky as the settings your timeline requires will be dependant on the final output and destination of your video, for example, Instagram only allows square video, which Youtube needs the average 1080p size.
The most straightforward way to create a new sequence is to drag and drop a clip from the Media Browser to the timeline. A new sequence will be created based on the clip settings.
Alternatively, you can hit the New Item button and select New Sequence (Command + N on your keyboard) to bring up the sequence creator window. The Sequence creator window is quite confusing to look at, and there are a lot of options which can be overwhelming at first.
For the most popular format (1080p) click on the settings tab and scroll up to Custom. In the video size settings, ensure your width is 1920, and your height is 1080. The aspect ratio should read 16:9, if it doesn’t, click on the drop-down menu and choose the Square Pixels option.
Once you hit OK, your sequence will be created and will appear in the project browser alongside your clips. When you drag your first clip to the timeline, you may get a message telling you the sequence settings are different to the clip settings. If you choose the ‘Change’ option, it will amend your sequence settings to match the clip.
Or, if you are confident that you have set up your sequence the way you wish, click ‘Keep Existing Settings.’ Once your timeline sequence is set up, you can start adding and ordering your clips.
In the Edit screen, several tools can help you edit your sequence.
Switch to the color screen to start grading your clips. The first thing you’ll notice is that there are a lot of color options available. It’s well worth experimenting with all the various settings to understand what they do.
For now, let’s look at the Basic Correction Settings.
Once you add the Basic Correction settings, Premiere will assess the clip and provide the best options for white balance, exposure, contrast, and saturation. You can then go through and fine-tune them, or change them to create a unique style to your piece.
Use the color picker to select something ‘white’ within your frame. The White balance adjusts all the colors to what you have chosen as white. This helps fix shots that are a little yellow or blue based on the camera settings and lighting when filming.
Temperature & Tint
Temperature allows you to change the shot to be warmer or cooler by emphasizing the Oranges or blues. The Tint will enable you to add a color effect accentuating the Greens or Pinks in the shot.
The tone settings work by splitting your clips into the lights, medium, and dark colors. These settings allow you to effect each independently. For example, if you want your shadows to be darker, increase the shadows bar.
This will change the total amount of color in your clip. As you decrease the saturation the clip will move toward greyscale, increase it and the colors will become more vibrant. If you want to learn more about color correction in Premiere Pro, check out this great tutorial.
In Adobe Premiere, there are a vast number of options for both effects and transitions. Experimenting and testing these presets is the best way to get to grips with what each does. As you begin your editing journey, there are two areas to focus on: video effects and video transitions.
Video effects are added to a clip to create an adjustment to the image. This could be as simple as sharpening the picture slightly (particularly helpful if the footage was shot with too much soft focus) or adding a stylized adjustment such as creating a painted look to your film.
To add an effect, drag and drop it from the Effects Browser to the clip you want to adjust, in the Effects Control panel you will be able to fine-tune the adjustment with all the effects you need to create the look you want.
Video transitions are the animated sequences between two clips, or at the end of a clip. You can add a transition by dragging and dropping the preset to the line between two clips. The Effects control panel will allow you to fine-tune your transition. Check out this article for more step-by-step instructions on how to edit your transitions.
Audio editing is a skill in itself with many sound engineers that specialize solely in that field. Many of these audio specialists will use different software and technology. But for now, let’s look at the basics of audio editing in Premiere.
Select a clip, and in the Essential Sound panel, you will be given a series of audio definitions: dialogue, music, ambience, and SFX. It is vital that you define what the audio is, as this will provide you with a range of different effects and options for that clip. The most likely thing you will want to do to your audio is to adjust the volume or remove some of the background noise.
Changing the Clip Volume
Select the clip and click on the relevant audio type to reveal the options. In each of the 4 audio types, the volume control will be immediately visible at the bottom of the Essential Sound panel. All imported audio will be set at 0.0 dB. You also have the option to decreasing the volume to -60dB or increasing it to +15dB. Set your editing device to a medium level, and then play around with the clip volume control until you are happy with how it sounds.
Removing Background Noise
You can only remove unwanted background noise from the dialogue. Select your clip and choose the dialogue audio type in the Essential sound panel, then set your clip volume. Click on the Repair tab and check the Noise Removal box.
Listening to your clip, you can use the slider to adjust how much noise you remove. Removing too much background noise will begin to affect the dialogue as well. This will result in ‘Wet Audio’ where it sounds like the audio is playing through
The Graphics tab is where you will add your titles and lower thirds (name and job title tags for talking heads). As discussed in the Timeline Tools section, you can select the Type tool and click on the screen to add text. But keep in mind that this will not be animated.
Adding a Title
An easy way to create an animated title or lower third is to use the Essential graphics panel. Here’s you’ll find a selection of presets available for you to use. Scroll through the options and view them by scrubbing along each graphic preview.
Once you have found a title that you like, drag and drop it to the track above the clip you wish to add the title to. You can drag the ends of the clip to retime it, and the animation will move accordingly. You may be given a warning message that you do not have the font the preset uses. Don’t worry about this as you can change the font later.
Editing the Title
Select the title in the sequence followed by the type tool. You can now click on the placeholder text and add your title. With the title clip selected, you will see a range of control options in the Essential Graphics panel, including font, size, color, position, and alignment. These settings are similar to most other programs that allow you to type text, such as Word.
Once you have completed your edit, you will want to export your film so you can publish it. Select the sequence and go to File > Export > Media, to bring up the export menu. Alternatively, once the sequence is selected, you can press command + M on your keyboard.
There are a host of export options available which can be confusing for new editors. The simplest way to export your film is to check the ‘Match Sequence Settings’ box. As you have already set up your sequence, you should be able to export a high-quality mp4 using these settings.
Be sure to you click on the name of your film to set the title and location of your export. Once everything is set, you can skim through your movie to check how it looks. You’ll want to confirm that everything lines up before selecting export to create your final film. For more information about other export settings, or exporting for social media, check out this article.
When you get down to the basics, Adobe Premiere Pro isn’t that difficult to use. Once you understand the UI and the workflow, you can experiment with the software and try out the various titles, effects, and color options built into the program.
Many websites, including Motion Array, offer a range of plugins for Premiere Pro, which can expand your editing capabilities. Along with regular updates, this means the Adobe Premiere Pro always has something new to be trying out.
We hope you have enjoyed this beginners’ guide on how to use Adobe Premiere Pro and are feeling more confident as a video editor. Now you know the basics of Adobe Premiere, put your new found skills to the test!