• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint
Share this Page URL

Premiere Pro: Making The Move

Premiere Pro: Making The Move

It was a big move. Even though we cherished the old Premiere, it was a little rundown. The new program has everything the old one had and much more. Premiere Pro isn't just newer; it has a more modern design, and a sturdier construction. And instead of just fixing up the old software, these improvements were built-in from the ground up. Premiere Pro has a new look, a streamlined editing model, and a more unified interface—not to mention a host of new features. Naturally, the transition was a bit of a shock, and it took a little getting used to the new environment. But it was worth the effort. And though we look back on the old Premiere fondly, we hardly miss it at all.

For a time, it wasn't clear whether we should think of Premiere Pro as version 7 in a long line of software, or as a break with the past called version 1.0. Now we know: Adobe has labeled the latest version Premiere Pro 1.5.

Sure, after the excitement of moving to Premiere Pro, version 1.5's improvements seem relatively humble. Even so, they're significant. After proudly showing off the new program, Adobe has been busy rearranging things, making improvements, and adding features that didn't make it in the first time around. Improvements are evident throughout the program: better integration with other software, enhanced and new effects, better audio keyframing, a refurbished title designer, and better import and export functions. This version also includes enhanced waveform and vectorscope displays and some eagerly awaited media management features, like a project trimmer. If Premiere Pro represented a bold fresh start, then version 1.5 feathers the nest.

Whether you've moved to Premiere Pro to create video for multimedia, video broadcast, DVD, or the Web, this book shows you around the new digs. It guides you through this expansive and complex program in a thorough, concise, visually appealing way. It also conducts you to the new additions and points out the recent renovations. If you're new to editing with Premiere Pro, this QuickPro Guide will ease your transition; if you're coming back, it should help you settle in.

The Visual QuickPro Series

Chances are good that you're already familiar with Peachpit Press's QuickStart series of books. They're known for their concise style, step-by-step instructions, and ample illustrations.

The Pro in QuickPro, as in Premiere Pro, implies that the software under discussion appeals to more advanced users. For this reason, this QuickPro guide is designed for intermediate to advanced users and assumes that you have significant experience not only with computers, but also with the use of some form of digital media.

That said, the QuickPro series remains true to the essential QuickStart traditions. The approach still emphasizes step-by-step instructions and concise explanations. If the book looks a little thick for a “concise” guide, consider that it contains over 1,000 screen shots that clearly illustrate every task. Like other books in this series, Premiere Pro 1.5: Visual QuickPro Guide strives to be quick without failing to guide.

Using This Book

Although the text restricts itself to the task at hand, it doesn't hesitate to give you critical background information, usually in the form of sidebars that help you understand the concepts behind the task. If you're already familiar with the concept, feel free to skip ahead; if not, look to the sidebars for some grounding. Also keep an eye out for tips, which point out shortcuts, pitfalls, and tricks of the trade.

Chapters are organized to present topics as you encounter them in a typical editing project, but the task-oriented format and thumb tabs let you jump to the topic that you need. To avoid bogging you down with potentially lengthy and redundant information, technical topics pervasive to digital video and audio settings are compiled in the final chapter, “Video and Audio Settings.” Turn to it whenever you need a more thorough explanation of a setting, or use it as a technical handbook.

By explaining how to use Premiere Pro, this book inevitably touches on a multitude of related topics: formats, editing aesthetics, special effects, audio sweetening, Web delivery, and so on. Discussing the fundamentals and background of each of these areas is far outside the scope of this book (and even books that don't have the word quick in their title). Nevertheless, this guide tries to provide enough information to keep you moving and point you in new directions.

How Premiere Pro Works

Premiere Pro is digital nonlinear editing software. A breakdown of this description can give you clues about how the program works:

Digital: Premiere Pro manipulates digital media: digital video and audio, scanned images, and digitally created artwork and animation stored in various formats. Regardless of the particular format, these materials are stored as files on your computer's hard disk. Strictly speaking, Premiere Pro doesn't convert analog video and audio to digital form, although it does contain controls that do so in conjunction with built-in or add-on hardware, such as a capture card or IEEE 1394 connection.

Nonlinear: Editing in Premiere Pro is described as nonlinear because your sources aren't constrained to a linear medium, such as videotape. In other words, you can access any source clip instantly, without shuttling tape, and you can change the order of clips in a sequence without rerecording.

Software: As a software-only package, Premiere Pro can be installed on any personal computer system that meets or exceeds the program's minimum requirements and doesn't require specialized hardware. But although Premiere Pro isn't an inextricable part of a black box, you can purchase it bundled with a system or with other hardware options.

Terminology: Digital and Analog

When you record audio and video, sound and light are converted to electrical signals. Analog media record these signals as continuously changing values. Digital media, on the other hand, record audio and video as a series of specific, discrete values. A playback device converts these values back to audio and video. The accuracy of each conversion greatly influences the picture and sound quality.

Because digital recordings use discrete values, it's easy to reproduce them exactly, time after time. In addition, you can take advantage of the computer's ability to manipulate these values—which means you can more easily alter the sound, color, and brightness and add effects.

Editing Strategy: Offline and Online Editing

It can be argued that all projects begin at the same point: the end. Setting your output goal determines the choices you make to achieve it. Therefore, the editing strategy you develop always proceeds from the same question: What is my output goal (Figure i.1)?

Figure i.1. This flow chart outlines the typical offline and online editing strategies.

Whether your animation is destined for film, broadcast video, CD-ROM, or the Web, familiarize yourself with the specifications of your output goal, such as frame size, frame rate, and file format. Often, you must reconcile your output goal with the capabilities and limitations of your system. These factors help determine your postproduction path—particularly whether you perform offline editing or online editing.

Online editing results in the final video sequence. You can edit online in Premiere Pro if your system is capable of acquiring, processing, and delivering a sequence at final-output quality. The higher the image quality, however, the greater the system requirements. To achieve your output goal, you may need a fast processor, a high-end capture card, and large, fast hard drives. If your system doesn't meet the output requirements, use another system for the online edit, and use Premiere Pro for your offline edit.

Offline editing prepares projects for an online edit. In an offline edit, you often edit with low-quality versions of the video. Rather than produce a final sequence at output quality, you produce an accurate draft version.

The completed offline edit can produce a kind of transcript of all your edits, known as an edit-decision list (EDL). You can use the EDL and source tapes to re-create a sequence quickly and easily in a traditional tape-based online-editing suite. You can also use your offline edit and EDL to re-create a sequence on film. Premiere Pro can export a project in the widely accepted Advanced Authoring Format (AAF), which can contain EDL and other data as well as the CMX3600 EDL format.

Alternatively, you can edit offline and online on the same system. Because lower-quality clips are smaller, more of them fit on your hard drive, and your computer can process them faster. For the online edit, you can recapture only the clips that you actually used in the sequence at the final-output quality. Premiere Pro automatically uses the high-quality clips in your final sequence, and no re-editing is required.

For an offline edit to succeed, you must have some way to accurately match your low-quality offline clips with their high-quality counterparts. Without a frame-accurate reference, there's no way to easily reproduce the sequence you created in the offline edit. That frame-accurate reference is known as timecode.

Timecode numbers identify each frame of video on a source tape. Premiere Pro and other video technologies use timecode to track edits in the offline edit and accurately re-create them in the online edit. Without timecode, an EDL would be meaningless, and recapturing clips would be impossible.

DV and Premiere Pro

For DV users, all this talk about offline and online editing may seem old-fashioned. DV is a high-quality, inexpensive video standard that not only has made video production more accessible, but simplifies postproduction, as well.

With DV, timecode is no longer a costly option found only in professional gear but is instead an integral part of the video signal. And generational loss—the progressive degradation of image and sound quality inherent in duplicating analog signals—isn't a concern with digital.

Because DV cameras record video in a digital format, there's no need to add a capture card to your computer to digitize, or convert an analog signal to a digital signal (for more about digitizing, see Chapter 3, “Capturing and Importing Footage”). With the help of an inexpensive IEEE 1394 (also called. FireWire or iLink) interface, Premiere Pro can transfer your footage to the hard drive for editing.

Just as important, IEEE 1394 simplifies postproduction. Whereas digitizing requires separate cables for video and audio, DV transfers both using a single IEEE 1394 cable. The cable also delivers DV's timecode information. Even device control (the ability to control a camera or deck from a computer) is accomplished over this same cable.

Compared to files digitized using older technology, DV footage consumes less storage space and requires only a modestly fast hard drive.

Whereas each type of analog capture card follows unique specifications, DV's characteristics are relatively consistent from one device to another. For this reason, Premiere Pro can include preset project and capture settings for DV, so you don't have to select video and audio settings manually.

Your Desktop Editing Suite

All nonlinear editing systems use a graphical interface that to some degree refers to their predecessors: film- and tape-based editing tools. Yet as these traditional tools yield to newer technologies, the metaphors lose much of their meaning. These days, many editors have never seen a film splicer or a traditional video-editing suite. Nevertheless, it may help you to understand what Premiere Pro does if you realize what it's designed to replace.

Before programs like Premiere Pro, offline editing was synonymous with inexpensive, but very limited, editing equipment. In a typical offline suite, you'd create a simple cuts-only edit (no dissolves or other transitions) using low-quality copies of the camera originals called window dubs. In a window dub, timecode numbers were recorded over the picture (not actual timecode, but a “picture” of the timecode). When editing was complete, you could painstakingly transcribe the timecode numbers at the beginning and end of each shot to create the edit-decision list.

Only after you were armed with an EDL would you proceed to an online suite, with its expensive decks and special equipment. At this stage, you'd finally be able to add transitions, effects, and titles and mix audio.

Programs like Premiere Pro blur the line between online and offline editing by offering the online features at the offline stage (and price):

A/B roll editing: In a traditional tape-editing suite, any transition other than a cut required two sources: an A roll and a B roll. As the two tapes played, a video switcher could mix the signal from tape A with that from tape B for recording on the master tape. This way, you could create dissolves, wipes, and other effects. If two scenes were on the same source tape, one had to be copied onto the B roll before dissolves and other transitions could be applied (unless you had a deck with a preread feature, but that's another story). All this was possible only in an expensive online editing suite. Premiere Pro allows you to create an even wider range of transitions during the offline stage.

Audio mixing and sweetening: Just as a traditional offline suite permitted only simple cuts-only video editing, audio editing was usually limited to volume control. Better audio editing was left to the online edit or even to a separate audio post session. Premiere Pro allows you to apply complex audio editing and effects from the start, including audio processing to adjust the level, placement, and character of the sound. You can set audio In points based on audio samples, which are more precise than video frames. In addition, you can fade, boost, mix, and pan almost unlimited tracks of audio. Premiere Pro's audio mixer even resembles a traditional mixing board. Moreover, you can sweeten the audio, subtly correcting the sound and adding special effects.

Digital video effects (DVE): DVE is the generic term for a device used to process the video signal digitally, in real time, to accomplish all kinds of visual effects. DVEs can rotate, resize, and move an image; change the colors; and add other visual effects. Premiere Pro's effect settings can achieve the same results, as well as many effects you won't find in a DVE. They take more time to process on the desktop, but these kinds of visual effects used to be unavailable outside an online suite.

Character generator (CG): A CG is used to create text for video, usually to superimpose over other images. Premiere Pro's Adobe Title Designer brings the tools and ease of desktop publishing to character generation for video.

Edit-decision list (EDL) import/export: This feature produces a transcript of the edits in the final sequence so that it can be reproduced on another system—typically, a traditional higher-end system. Alternatively, it can read an EDL from another system. Premiere Pro supports the widely accepted AAF file format for exchanging data with other systems.

Batch capture: Batch capture uses timecode references to capture the proper clips automatically from a log or offline edit.


Regardless of whether you choose an offline or online editing path, you should look at your editing workflow as proceeding from simple to complex. You don't need to adhere rigidly to the following outline, but gradually fleshing out the final sequence is usually more efficient than plunging into effects, going back again to rough-cutting, and then discovering that the effects need to be redone. The Premiere Pro workspace options provide for an incremental process, optimizing the interface for editing, audio editing, and effects editing:

Logging: The most tedious (and, therefore, the most neglected) part of the editing process involves watching your source tapes and noting the selects—the shots you want to use in the project. Premiere Pro's Capture window and device control can make the logging process nearly painless. If your tape has timecode, you can log shots directly to your project; this log can serve as a batch list, a list of timecode start and end numbers that can be used to automate the capture process.

Capture: If you're using an IEEE 1394 connection, capture simply involves transferring video from your camera or deck to the hard drive. Analog sources require a capture device that can digitize the video. If you have timecode and device control, Premiere Pro can capture shots from a batch list automatically.

Import: At this point, you add to a Premiere Pro project the footage you want to use. You can import a variety of digital media: video, audio, stills, image sequences, and so on. Your project uses references to the source footage, not the footage itself.

Basic edit/rough-cutting: Arrange and adjust the sequence of clips into an edited sequence, using a variety of flexible and powerful editing tools. Because you're using file references, your decisions are nondestructive—that is, you can make as many changes as you want without permanently altering the source files.

Preview: Watch your sequences at any time, with or without transitions or special effects. Premiere Pro can render many effects in real time. That is, Premiere Pro can play transitions and other effects right away and at full playback speed using only your system's resources (and without special add-on hardware).

Fine-tuning/fine-cutting: Refine the edits in a sequence using any combination of editing controls, direct manipulation in the timeline, and the specialized Trim window.

Effects and character generation: Add titles, superimpose clips, add motion or video and audio effects, and animate effects.

Audio sweetening: Cut audio with sample-rate precision, mix tracks using a full-featured audio mixer, and enhance audio clips and tracks using a variety of built-in effects or any VST effect.

Output: Export the finished sequence directly to tape or DVD, or save a file in any number of formats for playback on other computers, CD-ROM, or over the Web.

New Features

The Adobe Title Designer—the most striking feature introduced in the last version of Premiere—is the only feature that survived the transformation relatively unchanged. So you might think of the following as a list of new features in the new version, or as a list of features included in Premiere Pro that weren't in its forebear, the recently retired Premiere:

Multiple and nested sequences: Premiere Pro not only delivers long-awaited support for multiple sequences, but also allows you to nest, or embed, one sequence within another. This functionality allows you to group elements and create complex hierarchies and effects you couldn't achieve otherwise.

Refined editing model: Premiere Pro discards the A/B roll editing model entirely, opting for the more streamlined single-track editing model. Related innovations include transitions for audio and video transitions for any video track (not just video track 1).

Unified approach to effects: You can control all effects (including transitions) in a revised Effect Controls window, which includes a timeline view. Using the timeline view, you can see and adjust transitions in an A/B format and animate any of a clip's effects, including motion, opacity, volume, or any filter. Alternatively, you can animate an effect by rubberbanding—manipulating a property graph in the timeline.

Enhanced audio support: Using the enhanced audio mixer, you can mix using effects, sends, and submixes. Premiere Pro also supports 5.1 surround, 32-bit floating-point audio, and greatly enhanced waveform displays and subframe editing.

Enhanced UI: Each window shows advantages over previous versions of Premiere. The Project window includes a list view with thumbnails of clips, expanded headings, labels, and an icon view that doubles as a storyboard editor. The Monitor window includes viewing area navigational tools, more viewing options, and images that scale with the window. The Timeline window also includes better navigational tools and, with the tools in a separate window, a more streamlined look.

Enhanced media management: Premiere Pro helps you keep better track of your media files. You can unlink a clip from its media (and relink it) and delete media from within the project. New to Premiere Pro 1.5 is the Project Manager, which helps you collect and organize your media files as well as trim the project to just the media you used.

Windows only: Admittedly, Macintosh users may not find this a feature, but it is undeniably a difference from previous versions of Premiere. With Apple aggressively developing digital video tools for its own platform, it's not hard to imagine why Adobe found it prudent to focus its energies on developing programs for Windows.

The Digital Video Collection

Although Premiere Pro is dedicated to editing video, you can use it to bring together a range of digital media. But even though Premiere Pro's features sometimes overlap with other types of software, the ideal workflow includes tools specialized for each job. Chances are good that Photoshop is already part of your still-image editing toolkit, and you use Illustrator for advanced typesetting and graphics. For moving media, Adobe hopes you will use Premiere Pro together with After Effects (for motion graphics and effects), Audition (for advanced audio editing and music creation), and Encore DVD (for DVD authoring). You'll enjoy a discounted price if you purchase these programs together as what Adobe calls its Digital Video Collection.

In addition to selling these programs as a set, the folks at Adobe are trying their best to make the programs work as a set. As these software packages have matured, they have also become more integrated. Over time, it's become easier to move files from one program to another without performing intermediate steps or sacrificing elements of your work. Even the interfaces have grown more consistent with one another. (The landscape is similar; however, the customs aren't always the same. You may find that some shared features don't use exactly the same procedures or keyboard shortcuts.)

Your familiarity with other Adobe programs may give you a head start in learning Premiere Pro. You'll find that Premiere Pro has a lot in common with its sibling, After Effects. If you're thinking about buying Premiere Pro or other Adobe programs, you may find their consistency or bundled pricing appealing. In any case, Adobe's eye toward product integration may be an important consideration for you.

System Requirements

To use Premiere Pro, your system must meet these requirements:

  • Intel Pentium III, 800 MHz or better (Intel Pentium 4, 3 GHz recommended)

  • Microsoft Windows XP Home (XP Professional recommended)

  • 256 MB of RAM (1 GB of RAM or more recommended)

  • Large-capacity 7200 RPM UDMA 66 IDE or SCSI hard disk or disk array

  • 256-color video display adapter and compatible monitor

  • CD-ROM drive (DVD recordable required for Export to DVD)

  • DirectX-compatible sound card (multichannel ASIO compliant for surround-sound support recommended)

  • IEEE 1394 (also called FireWire or iLink) connection or Adobe Premiere Pro third-party capture card

Suggested System

These features aren't required, but they can make working with Premiere Pro a lot more satisfying:

Faster processor: The faster your system can make calculations, the faster it can process frames of video and create effects.

Additional RAM: Like all programs, Premiere Pro relies partly on RAM for performance and stability. In addition, the number of frames you can preview in real time without having to render depends entirely on the amount of RAM you can allocate to Premiere Pro.

Larger hard drives: Video files are notoriously large. Five minutes of DV footage, for example, consumes more than a gigabyte of storage space. Ample storage space allows you to work with more footage and with high-quality footage.

Faster hard drives: Your system's ability to play back footage smoothly relies partly on how quickly information can be read from the drives. Generally speaking, higher-quality footage requires faster drives. Drive arrays (RAIDs) use multiple drives to increase the overall transfer speed. To use DV footage, for example, your drives should sustain a data rate of around 5 MB per second.

24-bit displays: It almost goes without saying that it's best to work in True Colors.

Larger or multiple displays: Premiere Pro's interface can take up a lot of screen space. A large monitor can be more comfortable to work with. Many users like to spread out over two monitors, although others consider that arrangement to be overkill.

Professional System Additions

Other additions can elevate your editing system to a more professional level:

Video capture/playback device: Your computer needs an IEEE 1394 connection and a similarly equipped camera or deck to transfer and output video in the DV format. If you want to digitize material from an analog source (VHS, Hi8, or BetacamSP), you may opt for an add-on capture card. You'll also need a deck to play and record tapes in your format of choice.

Video monitor: Video monitors and computer monitors display images differently. So if your work is destined for video or broadcast, a good monitor—preferably one with professional inputs and excellent color reproduction—allows you to judge it more accurately. A video capture device typically supports both your computer and video monitor.

Audio card: A standard built-in audio card is adequate for many applications, but you'll need a more advanced, ASIO-compliant audio card if you want to use Premiere Pro for multitrack recording or output to 5.1 surround. For more about ASIO and 5.1 surround, see Chapter 11, “Mixing Audio.”

Surround speakers: Although an advanced audio card helps process multitrack, high-data-rate audio in 5.1, you won't hear the full effect without a set of speakers to match. Like everything else, surround speakers vary greatly in price and quality.

DVD recorder: DVD recorders are quickly becoming as commonplace in a desktop editing suite as video tape decks. (Thankfully, they're becoming more affordable as well.) You can use Premiere Pro to output your edited sequence to DVD. To produce more full-featured DVDs (with menus and the like), you'll also need a dedicated authoring program like Adobe Encore DVD.

Third-party plug-ins: A multitude of third-party developers offer software plug-ins that expand Premiere Pro's capabilities. These products include improved or additional effects and transitions, audio effects, matchback tools to create EDLs for film, and tools that allow you to better evaluate and adjust the video signal.

Hardware acceleration: If rendering speed and turnaround time are of paramount importance, you may want to invest in a Premiere Pro system bundled with hardware to accelerate effects rendering.


You'll sometimes hear monitors and other video equipment referred to as NTSC, as in NTSC monitor. NTSC stands for National Television Standards Committee, a group that develops the television standards used in North America and Japan; its name describes everything that meets those standards.

PAL (which stand for Phase Alternation Line) is the standard used in most of Europe and other countries, whereas SECAM (Sequential Couleur Avec Mémoire) is used primarily in France, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe.

System Configurations

As the preceding sections suggest, your Premiere Pro setup can be simple or elaborate. As long as your computer meets the minimum requirements, you can install Premiere Pro and start editing. On the other hand, your system might include a television monitor and a camera or deck. Here's how a few common configurations might look:

DV camera configuration (Figure i.2): In this setup, a DV camera is used to transfer source video to your computer's hard drive over an IEEE 1394 connection. The completed edited project can be played back and recorded to a tape in the camera.

Figure i.2. This configuration includes a computer equipped for IEEE 1394 (also called FireWire or iLink) and a DV camera.

Analog capture configuration (Figure i.3): In this setup, the computer is equipped with a qualifying video capture card to digitize video from an analog source (such as VHS, Hi8, or BetacamSP). The capture card converts the signal from analog to digital so that it can be stored on the hard drive.

Figure i.3. This configuration includes a computer equipped with an Adobe-certified capture card and an analog video deck.

Enhanced DV configuration (Figure i.4): In this setup, several recommended options have been added to the system. An external IEEE 1394 drive provides additional storage space for media, a dedicated playback and recording deck reduces wear on the camera's tape transport, a video monitor displays the sequences as they will appear on a television screen, and external speakers provide the audio.

Figure i.4. This configuration uses several recommended options, such as a television monitor, speakers, external hard drive, and deck.

‐ Tip

  • Looking for a complete system? Several vendors offer preconfigured editing systems. You may find their pricing and service agreements attractive. In addition, Premiere Pro is often bundled with capture cards and real-time acceleration cards and even offered as an option when you purchase a computer.

  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint