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Hour 3. Video Capture and Scene Selection > Tour the Video-Editing Workspace

Tour the Video-Editing Workspace

Before diving into nonlinear editing (Hour 4, “Using the Storyboard or Opting for Cuts-only Editing”), I want to give you a brief tour of the video-editing workspace.

Start at the lower-left side in the Timeline window.

The Timeline

This is where you'll do most of your actual editing (because this is Premiere, there are always multiple means to perform any one task). Figure 3.2 shows the standard Premiere timeline. Anyone who has edited with an NLE will feel comfortable using it. Anyone coming from the linear, videotape-editing world may find a timeline a bit daunting at first but soon will come to love it.

Figure 3.2. Premiere's NLE standard timeline approach is second nature to anyone who has worked with other computerized editing products.

Basically the timeline is a collection of video and audio tracks with an option to display a transition track.

You can build transitions only between video clips on track one (1A and 1B in A/B editing mode). In addition, anything placed in a higher-numbered track covers up anything below it. You'll use those higher-numbered tracks to build special effects such as videos in small frames that slide over the screen, translucent images, or graphics with windows that let whatever video is below them show through.

Audio tracks follow different rules. One audio track does not cancel out another. All play back as an ensemble. Premiere's built-in audio mixer keeps multiple audio tracks from becoming a cacophony.

Premiere allows you to use as many as 99 video and 99 audio tracks. I can't imagine any project using that much real estate, though.

Configuring the Timeline

As I mentioned in Hour 2, “Premiere Setup,” for those of you who fired up Premiere before cracking open this book, you already may have opted for the A/B editing workspace. Here's a quick means to switch to single-track editing.

The windows in Premiere have nifty fly-out menus accessible by clicking a handy little arrow in each window's top-right corner. I've highlighted it in Figure 3.3. In this case, click the arrow and then switch between A/B editing and single-track editing. You'll note that A/B editing fits the old film-editing model by displaying tracks 1A and 1B with a middle section labeled Transitions.

Figure 3.3. This handy fly-out menu lets you customize the timeline appearance and functionality.

What supposedly makes A/B editing intuitive is that you can see how clips overlap so you can judge how long a transition will last.

If you switch back to single-track editing, you'll see that there is no “Transition” section. Not to fear—Premiere lets you create something like an A/B environment with the click of one other icon. See Figure 3.4 for that icon's location.

Figure 3.4. Click this tiny double-box icon and the single-track editing timeline will shift to something very much like an A/B editing timeline.

When you edit using a single-track timeline, you place a transition at the junction of two clips. Premiere automatically creates an overlap.

Here's the bottom line: Stick with single-track editing.

I'll explain more about transitions and how Premiere handles them in Hour 5, “Adding Transitions: From Dissolves to Zooms.” For now, a little explanation may clarify things.

If you use A/B editing and want to make a dissolve, you place one clip on video track 1A and the next one on track 1B, such that its beginning overlaps the end of the previous clip. You drag a Transition icon to the Transition line between the two clips, and that transition will automatically last for however much time the two clips overlap.

In single-track editing, you place one clip on video track 1 and the next one on the same track, directly following and adjacent to the previous clip. There is no overlap. If you want to add a transition, Premiere automatically creates an overlap—the default is 30 frames or one second—by extending the first clip 15 frames beyond the end you previously selected and adding 15 frames to the beginning of the second clip.


To reiterate, two monitors are better than one. The default workspace setting for single-track editing has two monitors, whereas A/B opens with only one monitor.

You can switch between one and two monitors by using the monitor window's nifty fly-out menu. Click the handy little arrow icon in the window's upper-right corner and then select Single View or Dual View (the third option, Trim View, is a means to edit two adjacent clips from within the Dual View window). A faster way to switch from one monitor to two is to click the little double-window icon above the monitor window. I've highlighted it in Figure 3.5.

Figure 3.5. It's easy to switch between one monitor and two. Click the little double-monitor icon.

Project Window

In the upper-left corner you'll find the Project window. This is where you store and access your original video clips—your raw footage—as well as audio files and graphics. It uses bins (Adobe's name for file folders) to organize your “assets.” We'll take a closer look at this in the next hour.

Transitions, Video, Audio Palette

This window's tiny size belies its power. Neatly tucked away in its three file tabs are 178 special effects. Scene transitions, such as dissolves and wipes; video effects to alter the appearance of your clips; and audio effects to spice up your sound. I'll begin covering these powerful (but frequently overused) tools in Hour 5.

Task: Explore Premiere's Transitions

For now, here's a quick and cool preview of coming attractions. Figure 3.6 shows how your Transitions window should look at the end of this little exercise:

Click the Transitions tab (if you don't see a Transitions window, click Window, Show Transitions).

Open the handy fly-out menu by clicking this window's little arrow in its upper-right corner.

Click Expand All Folders.

Click Animate.

Click anywhere inside the Transitions window.

Figure 3.6. An easy way to see all your transitions in action.

All the transition icons demonstrate how they work. Cool. This animate feature works only with transitions, not audio or video effect icons. You can drag the edges or corners of the Transitions palette to view more transition icons.

Navigator, History, and Info

Here are two useful tools and one of only minor interest:

  • Navigator gives you a visual representation of your entire project and allows you to move quickly to different locations. This comes in mighty handy if you are working on a long production.

  • History tracks every step you take in your video production and lets you back up if you don't like your latest efforts. Its default display is the most recent 15 edits or changes, but you can change that to up to 99 steps. To do that, click Edit, Preferences, Autosave and Undo. Then type in a number in History/Undo Levels. When you back up to a previous condition, all steps that came after that point are cleared as well. You cannot extract a single misstep buried within the current list.

  • The Info tab is of limited usefulness. It offers only a brief snapshot of whatever element—clip, transition, or effect—you've currently highlighted.

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