2 Setting Up a Project
In this lesson, you’ll learn how to do the following:
Choose project settings.
Choose video rendering and playback settings.
Choose video and audio display settings.
Create scratch disks.
Use sequence presets.
Customize sequence settings.
This lesson will take about 60 minutes to complete. You will not need any of the downloadable lesson files.
Starting the lesson
If you’re not familiar with video and audio technology, you might find all the options a little overwhelming. Luckily, Adobe Premiere Pro gives you easy shortcuts. Plus, the principles of video and sound reproduction are the same no matter what you’re creating.
It’s just a question of knowing what you want to do. To help you plan and manage your projects, this lesson contains information about formats and video technology. You may decide to revisit this lesson later, as your familiarity with Premiere Pro and nonlinear video editing develops. You don’t need to understand all of these concepts to edit videos.
In practice, you’re unlikely to make changes to the default settings when creating a new project, but it’s helpful to know what the options mean.
A Premiere Pro project file stores links to all the video, graphic, and sound files you have imported. Each item is displayed in the Project panel as a clip. The name clip originally described a section of celluloid film (lengths of film were literally clipped to separate them from a roll), but these days the term refers to any item in the project, regardless of the type of media. You could have an audio clip or an image sequence clip, for example.
Clips displayed in the Project panel appear to be media files, but they are actually only links to those files. It’s helpful to understand that a clip in the Project panel and the media file it links to are two separate things. You can delete one without affecting the other (more on this later).
When working on a project, you will create at least one sequence—that is, a series of clips that play, one after another, sometimes overlapping, with special effects, titles, and sound, to form your completed creative work. While editing, you will choose which parts of your clips to use and in which order they’ll play.
The beauty of nonlinear editing with Premiere Pro is that you can change your mind about almost anything, at any time.
Premiere Pro project files have the file extension .prproj.
Starting a new project is straightforward. You create a new project file, import media, choose a sequence preset, and start editing.
When you create a sequence, you’ll choose playback settings (such as frame rate and frame size) and place multiple clips in it. It’s important to understand how the sequence settings change the way Premiere Pro plays your video and audio clips (clips are automatically adjusted to match the sequence settings). To speed things up, you can use a sequence preset to choose the settings and then make adjustments if necessary.
You need to know the kind of video and audio your camera records because your sequence settings will usually be based on your source footage to minimize conversion during playback. In fact, most Premiere Pro sequence presets are named after cameras to make it easier to choose the correct option. If you know which camera was used to capture the footage and which video format was recorded, you’ll know which sequence preset to choose.
In this lesson, you’ll learn how to create a new Premiere Pro project and choose sequence settings. You’ll also learn about different kinds of audio tracks and what preview files are.
Creating a project
Let’s begin by creating a new project.
Launch Premiere Pro. The Home screen appears.
If you have opened Premiere Pro a few times, you won’t see links to tutorials (as mentioned in Lesson 1). Instead, in the middle of the screen you’ll find a list of previously opened projects. You should see Lesson 01. You could click that project to open it, but you’re going to make a new one.
Notice that you can thin out the list of recent project files by typing some text into the Filter text box, where it says Filter Recent Files—only project files whose filenames contain the text will be displayed.
There are a couple of other items in this window:
Magnifying glass button: Click the magnifying glass at the top right of the Home screen to open a multipurpose Search screen. If you enter text into the text box at the top of the screen, Premiere Pro will list the names of previously opened project files and tutorials from Adobe Premiere Pro Learn & Support that contain the text. You must be connected to the Internet to access the tutorials.
User button: Next to the magnifying glass is a thumbnail of your Adobe ID profile picture. If you have just signed up, this may be a generic thumbnail. Click the button to manage your Creative Cloud account online.
Click New Project to open the New Project dialog box.
Below the new project name and file location fields, this dialog box has three tabs: General, Scratch Disks, and Ingest Settings. All the settings in this dialog box can be changed later, and for most projects, you’ll want to leave them as they are. For now, we’ll finish creating our new project using the default settings. Later, we’ll take a look at what all of those settings mean.
Click in the Name box, and name your new project First Project.
When choosing a location for your project file, you may want to choose a recently used location from the Location menu.
Click Browse, and browse to the Lessons folder. Click Choose to establish this new folder as the location for the new project.
Click OK to create your new project. You’ll explore the project settings in detail later in this lesson.
Setting up a sequence
In your Premiere Pro project you will create a sequence (or several sequences) into which you’ll place video clips, audio clips, and graphics. Just like media files, sequences have settings that specify such things as the frame rate and image size. Frame rates and frame sizes for clips that don’t match the sequence settings are converted during playback to match the settings you chose for your sequence. This is called conforming.
Each sequence in your project can have different settings. You’ll want to choose settings that match your original media as precisely as possible to minimize conforming during playback. Matching the settings reduces the work your system must do to play your clips, improving real-time performance, and maximizes quality.
If you’re editing a project with mixed-format media, you may have to choose which media to match with your sequence settings. You can mix formats easily, but because playback performance improves when the sequence settings match, you’ll often choose settings that match the majority of your media files.
If the first clip you add to a sequence does not match the settings of your sequence, Premiere Pro checks if you would like to change the sequence settings automatically to fit.
When you’re starting out in video editing, you may find the number of file types, codecs, and formats available a little overwhelming. Premiere Pro can work natively with a wide range of video and audio formats and codecs and will often play mismatched formats smoothly.
However, when Premiere Pro has to adjust video for playback because of mismatched sequence settings, your editing system must work harder to play the video, and this will impact real-time performance (you might see more dropped frames). It’s worth taking the time before you start editing to make sure the sequence settings closely match your original media files.
The Preset Description area of the Sequence Presets tab often describes the kind of camera used to capture media in this format.
The essential factors are always the same: the number of frames per second, the frame size (the number of pixels in the picture horizontally and vertically), and the audio format. If you were to turn your sequence into a media file without applying a conversion, then the frame rate, audio format, frame size, and so on, would all match the settings you chose when creating the sequence.
Creating a sequence that automatically matches your source
If you’re not sure what sequence settings you should choose, don’t worry. Premiere Pro can create a sequence based on your clip.
At the bottom of the Project panel, there’s a New Item menu . Use this menu to create new items for your project, including sequences, captions, and color mattes (full-screen color graphics useful for backgrounds).
To automatically create a sequence that matches your media, drag any clip (or multiple clips) in the Project panel onto the New Item menu. A new sequence will be created with the same name as the first clip selected, and a matching frame size and frame rate.
You can also select one or more clips, right-click the selection, and choose New Sequence From Clip.
Using this method, you can be confident your sequence settings will work with your media. If the Timeline panel is empty, you can also drag a clip (or multiple clips) into it to create a sequence with matching settings.
Choosing the correct preset
If you do know the settings you need for a new sequence, you can configure the sequence settings exactly. If you’re not so sure, you can use a preset.
Click the New Item button at the lower-right corner of the Project panel now and choosef0038-02.jpg Sequence.
The New Sequence dialog box has four tabs: Sequence Presets, Settings, Tracks, and VR Video.
When you choose a preset, Premiere Pro applies settings for the new sequence that closely match a particular video and audio format. After choosing a preset, you can adjust these settings on the Settings tab if necessary.
You’ll find a wide range of preset configuration options for the most commonly used and supported media types. These settings are organized based on camera formats (with specific settings inside a folder named after the recording format).
You can click the disclosure triangle to see specific formats in a group. These are typically designed around frame rates and frame sizes. Let’s look at an example.
Click the disclosure triangle next to the group Digital SLR.
You can now see three subfolders, based on frame sizes. Remember that video cameras can often shoot video using different frame sizes, as well as different frame rates and codecs.
Click the disclosure triangle next to the 1080p subgroup.
Choose the DSLR 1080p30 preset by clicking its name.
For this sequence, use the default settings. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the description displayed on the right.
Click in the Sequence Name box, and name your sequence First Sequence.
Click OK to create the sequence.
Choose File > Save.
Congratulations! You have made a new project and sequence with Premiere Pro.
Customizing a sequence preset
Once you’ve selected the sequence preset that most closely matches your source video, you may want to adjust the settings to meet a particular delivery requirement or in-house workflow. Let’s take a look at those settings.
You created a new sequence using the File menu this time. There are often several ways to achieve the same goal in Premiere Pro.
Choose File > New > Sequence.
Choose the DSLR 1080p30 preset again by clicking its name. This lets you view the settings while reading about them.
Click Settings at the top of the dialog box.
Premiere Pro will automatically conform footage you add to your timeline so that it matches your sequence settings, giving you a standard frame rate and frame size, regardless of the original clip format. This makes the sequences settings a critical part of your project configuration.
You’ll notice that although you chose a 30 fps preset, the Timebase menu defaults to 29.97 fps, which is used when broadcasting NTSC video on traditional TV networks.
The new sequence is intended for online distribution only, so change this to 30 fps to accurately measure playback speed.
For now, leave the settings as they are, but review the way the preset configures the new sequence. Look at each setting from top to bottom to build familiarity with the choices required to configure a sequence.
If your media matches one of the presets, it’s not necessary to change the settings.
You’ll notice that some settings cannot be changed when you use a preset. This is because they’re optimized for the media type you selected on the Sequence Presets area. For complete flexibility, choose Custom from the Editing Mode menu.
Understanding audio track types
When you add a video or audio clip to a sequence, you’ll always put it on a track. Tracks are horizontal areas in the Timeline panel that hold clips in a particular position in time. There is more than one video track, and video clips placed on an upper track will appear in front of clips on a lower track. For example, if you have text or a graphic on your second video track and a video clip on your first video track (below it), you’ll see the graphic in front of the video.
The Tracks tab in the New Sequence dialog box allows you to preselect the track types for the new sequence. This is perhaps most useful when creating a sequence preset with names already assigned to audio tracks.
The Audio > Master setting configures the sequence to output audio as stereo, 5.1, multichannel, or mono.
All audio tracks are played at the same time to create a complete audio mix. To create a mix, simply position your audio clips on different tracks, lined up in time. Narration, sound bites, sound effects, and music can be organized by putting them on different tracks. You can also rename tracks, making it easier to find your way around more complex sequences.
Premiere Pro lets you specify how many video and audio tracks will be included when the sequence is created. You can easily add and remove tracks later, but you can’t change the option you choose from the Master menu under Audio, which is the final audio mix type your sequence will produce. For now, choose Stereo.
An audio track can be one of several types. Each track type is designed for specific types of audio clip. When you choose a particular track type, Premiere Pro shows the right controls to make adjustments to the sound, based on the number of audio channels in the track. For example, stereo clips need different controls than 5.1 surround-sound clips.
The types of audio tracks are:
Standard: These tracks are for both mono and stereo audio clips.
5.1: These tracks are for audio clips with 5.1 audio (the kind used for surround-sound mixes).
Adaptive: Adaptive tracks are for mono, stereo, or multichannel audio and give you precise control over the output routing for each audio channel. For example, you could decide the track audio channel 3 should be output to your mix in channel 5. This workflow is used for multilingual broadcast TV, where precise control of audio channels is used at the point of transmission.
Mono: This track type will accept only mono audio clips.
The Submix options available in the Track Type menu are used in advanced audio mixing workflows. You can’t accidentally put an audio clip on the wrong kind of track. Premiere Pro makes sure clips go to the right kind of track. In fact, Premiere Pro will automatically create the right kind of track if one doesn’t exist already.
Explore the Project Settings
Now that you have created a new project and added a sequence, let’s explore the important options available in the Project settings.
You will usually configure the project settings when creating the new project, but all of the options can be modified at any time.
Choose File > Project Settings > General to open the Project Settings dialog box for your current project.
Choose video rendering and playback settings
While you’re working creatively with video clips in your sequences, it’s likely you will apply some visual effects to adjust the appearance of your footage. Some special effects can be played immediately, combining your original video with the effect and displaying the results as soon as you click Play. When this happens, it’s called real-time playback.
Real-time playback is desirable because it means you can watch the results of your creative choices right away, staying in your creative flow without waiting.
If you use lots of effects on a clip or if you use effects that are not designed for real-time playback, your computer may not be able to display the results at the full frame rate. That is, Premiere Pro will attempt to display your video clips, combined with the special effects, but it will not show every single frame each second. When this happens, it’s described as dropping frames.
Premiere Pro displays colored lines along the top of the Timeline panel, where you build sequences, to tell you when extra work is required to play back your video. No line, a green line, or a yellow line means Premiere Pro expects to be able to play without dropping frames. A red line means Premiere Pro may drop frames when playing that section of the sequence.
A red line at the top of the Timeline panel doesn’t mean frames definitely will be dropped. It just means visual adjustments aren’t accelerated, so on a less powerful machine dropped frames are more likely.
If you can’t see every frame when you play your sequence, it’s okay! It won’t affect the final results. When you’re done editing and you output your finished sequence, it’ll be full quality, with all the frames intact (more on this in Lesson 16, “Exporting Frames, Clips, and Sequences”).
Real-time playback can make a difference to your editing experience and your ability to preview the effects you apply with confidence. If frames are being dropped, there is a simple solution: preview rendering.
When you render, Premiere Pro creates new media files that look like the results of your effects work and then plays back those files in place of the original footage. The rendered preview is a regular video file, so playback is at reasonable quality and full frame rate, without your computer having to do any extra work.
You render effects in a sequence by choosing a render command from the Sequence menu.
Back in the Project Settings dialog box, in the Video Rendering And Playback settings, if the Renderer menu is available, it means you have graphics hardware in your computer that meets the minimum requirements for GPU acceleration and it is installed correctly.
The menu has two types of setting you will choose between:
Mercury Playback Engine GPU Acceleration: If you choose this rendering option, Premiere Pro will send many playback tasks to the graphics hardware on your computer, giving you lots of real-time effects and smooth playback of mixed formats in your sequences. You may see an option to use CUDA, OpenCL, or Metal for GPU acceleration, depending on your graphics hardware. Performance can vary and some graphics hardware configurations allow multiple types of acceleration, so you may need to experiment to find the best option for your system. On a Mac, you’ll only be able to choose Metal. Some advanced system GPU configurations also allow you to choose a persistent Preview Cache in Premiere Pro to improve playback. You’ll want to experiment with this option for optimum playback performance.
Mercury Playback Engine Software Only: This mode will still give excellent performance. If your system does not have graphics hardware that can be used for GPU acceleration, only this option will be available, and you won’t be able to open the Renderer menu.
You may also see an option described as deprecated in the Renderer menu. This uses an approach to hardware acceleration that will work but is less efficient than the other options. You will almost certainly want to choose GPU acceleration and benefit from the additional performance if you can. However, if you experience performance or stability issues using GPU acceleration, choose the Software Only option in this menu. You can change these options at any time—including in the middle of working on a project.
Choose a GPU option now, if it’s available.
Setting the video and audio display formats
The next two areas of the General tab in the Project Settings dialog box allow you to choose how Premiere Pro should measure time for your video and audio clips.
In most cases, you’ll choose the default options: Timecode from the Video Display Format menu and Audio Samples from the Audio Display Format menu. These settings don’t change the way Premiere Pro plays video or audio clips, only the way time measurement is displayed—and you can change the settings at any time.
The Video Display Format menu
There are four options for Video Display Format. The correct choice for a given project largely depends on whether you are working with video or celluloid film as your source material. It’s rare to produce content using film, so if you are not sure, choose Timecode.
The choices are as follows:
Timecode: This is the default option. Timecode is a universal system for counting hours, minutes, seconds, and individual frames of video. The same system is used by cameras, professional video recorders, and nonlinear editing systems around the world.
Feet + Frames 16mm or Feet + Frames 35mm: If your source files are captured from film and you intend to give your editing decisions to a lab so it can cut the original negative to produce a finished film, you may want to use this standard method of measuring time. This system counts the number of feet plus the number of frames since the last foot.
Frames: This option counts the number of frames of video. This is sometimes used for animation projects.
For now, leave Video Display Format set to Timecode.
The Audio Display Format menu
For audio files, time can be displayed as samples or milliseconds.
Audio Samples: When digital audio is recorded, the sound level (technically, air pressure level) as captured by the microphone is sampled thousands of times a second. In the case of most professional video cameras, this happens at least 48,000 times per second. When playing clips and sequences, you can choose to display time as hours, minutes, seconds, and frames, or as hours, minutes, seconds, and samples.
Milliseconds: With this mode chosen, time can be displayed as hours, minutes, seconds, and thousandths of a second instead of samples.
By default, you can zoom the Timeline enough to view individual sequence clip segment frames. However, you can easily switch to showing the audio display format instead. This powerful feature lets you make the tiniest adjustments to your audio.
For now, leave the Audio Display Format option set to Audio Samples.
Setting the capture format
It’s most common to record video as a file you can work with immediately. However, there may be times you need to capture from videotape.
The Capture Format menu (under Capture in the Project Settings dialog box) tells Premiere Pro what videotape format you are using when capturing video to your storage drive.
Capturing from third-party hardware
If you have additional third-party hardware installed, you can connect your video deck for capture.
The Mercury Playback Engine can share performance with video input and output hardware for playback, thanks to a feature called Adobe Mercury Transmit.
You should follow the directions provided by the manufacturer to install your Input/Output hardware. Most likely you’ll install software that is supplied with your hardware. The software installer will usually discover Premiere Pro on your computer, automatically adding extra options to this menu and to others.
Follow the directions provided with your third-party equipment to configure new Premiere Pro projects.
For more information about the video-capture hardware and video formats supported by Premiere Pro, visit helpx.adobe.com/premiere-pro/compatibility.html.
Ignore this setting for now because you will not be capturing from a tape deck in this lesson, and you can change the setting as needed later.
Displaying the project item names and label colors
There’s an option at the bottom of the Project Settings dialog box titled Display The Project Item Name And Label Color For All Instances.
With this option selected, when you change name of a clip, or the color of the label assigned to a clip, all copies of the clip used anywhere in the project will update accordingly. If this option is not selected, only the copy you select will be changed. Both options can be useful, depending on your chosen workflow for a particular project.
Leave this deselected for now, and click the Scratch Disks area to view the options.
Setting up the scratch disks
Whenever Premiere Pro captures (records) video from tape, renders special effects, saves backup copies of the project file, downloads content from Adobe Stock, or imports animated motion graphics templates, or whenever you record a voiceover, new files are created.
The various scratch disks are the locations where these files are stored. Though they are described as disks, they are actually folders. Some of the files that are stored will be temporary, and some will be new media created in Premiere Pro or imported.
Scratch disks can be stored on physically separate disks, as the name suggests, or in any subfolder on your storage. Scratch disks can be located all in the same place or in separate locations, depending on your hardware and workflow requirements. If you’re working with really large media files, you may get a performance boost by putting each scratch disk on a physically separate hard drive.
There are generally two approaches to storage for video editing:
Project-based setup: All associated media files are stored with the project file in the same folder. This is the default option for scratch disks and the simplest to manage.
System-based setup: Media files associated with multiple projects are saved to one central location (often high-speed network-based storage), and the project file is saved to another location. This might include storing different kinds of media files in different locations.
To change the location of the scratch disk for a particular type of data, choose a location from the menu next to the data type. The choices are:
Documents: Stores the scratch disk in the Documents folder in your system user account.
Same As Project: Stores the scratch disk with the project file. This is the default option.
[Custom]: Enables you to specify any location. This option is automatically chosen if you click Browse and choose a specific location for the scratch disk.
Below each Scratch Disk location menu, a file path shows the current setting and the disk space available at that location.
Your scratch disks might be stored on local hard drives or on a network-based storage system; any storage location your computer has access to will work. However, the speed and responsiveness of your scratch disks can have a big impact on both playback and rendering performance—choose fast storage if possible.
Using a project-based setup
By default, Premiere Pro keeps newly created media together with the associated project file (this is the Same As Project option). Keeping everything together this way makes finding relevant files simple.
It also makes it easier to stay organized if you move media files into the same folder before you import them into the project. When you’re finished with your project, you can remove everything from your system by deleting the single folder your project file is stored in.
You can use subfolders to keep your project media, notes, scripts, and associated assets organized.
There’s a downside: Storing your media files on the same drive as your project file means the drive has to work a little harder while you edit, and this can impact playback performance.
Using a system-based setup
Some editors prefer to have all their media stored in a single location, for all projects. Others choose to store their capture folders and preview folders in a different location from their project. This is a common choice in editing facilities where multiple editors share several editing systems, all connected to the same network-based storage. It’s also common among editors who have fast hard drives for video media and slower hard drives for everything else.
There’s a downside with this setup too: Once you finish editing, it’s likely you’ll want to gather everything together for archiving. This is slower and more complex when your media files are distributed across multiple storage locations.
Setting up a Project Auto Save location
In addition to choosing where new media files are created, you can set the location to store automatically saved project files. These are additional backup copies of your project file that are created automatically while you work. Choose a location from the Project Auto Save menu on the Scratch Disks tab.
Storage drives occasionally fail, and you may lose files stored on them without warning. In fact, any computer engineer will tell you that if you have only one copy of a file, you can’t count on having the file at all. For this reason, it’s a great idea to set the Project Auto Save location to a physically separate storage location.
If you use a synchronized file sharing service like Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google Drive, storing your auto-save files using that service will mean you always have access to all your automatically saved project files.
In addition to storing automatically saved project files in the location you choose, Premiere Pro can store a backup of your most recent project file in your Creative Cloud Files folder. This folder is created automatically when you install Adobe Creative Cloud, allowing you to access files in any location where Creative Cloud is installed and you are logged in.
This useful extra safety net is available by choosing Premiere Pro > Preferences > Auto Save (macOS) or Edit > Preferences > Auto Save (Windows).
Creative Cloud Libraries downloads
You can also use the Creative Cloud Files folder to store media files that you can access from any system. Collaborators on a project can use the Creative Cloud Files folder to store and share standard assets like logos or graphic elements.
Use the Libraries panel in Premiere Pro to access these files. When you add items to the current project in this way, Premiere Pro will create a copy of them in the scratch disk location you choose here.
Motion Graphics template media
Premiere Pro can import and display prebuilt animated Motion Graphics templates and titles that have been created with After Effects or Premiere Pro. When you import a Motion Graphics template into the current project, a copy will be stored in the location you choose.
For this project, leave all your scratch disks set to the default option: Same As Project.
Choosing ingest settings
Professional editors describe adding media to a project as importing or ingesting. The two words are often used interchangeably but actually have different meanings.
When you import a media file into a Premiere Pro project, a clip is created in the project that is linked to the original file. The media file stays in its current location, and you’re ready to include the clip in a sequence.
When you enable the ingest options, things are a little bit different. The original media file may also be copied to a different location (which is useful for keeping your media files organized) and/or converted to a new format and codec before it’s imported into your Premiere Pro project.
In the Ingest Settings area, you can enable the Ingest option and choose what to do with media files before they are imported. You can:
There are several ways to import clips into a project. Once ingest options are enabled, they are applied regardless of the import method you use. Existing clips that have already been imported into your project will not have ingest options applied automatically.
Copy the media files to a new storage location. This option is useful if you want to be sure all your media is in one folder.
Transcode the media files to a new codec and/or format. This option is useful if you choose to standardize your media as part of a larger-scale workflow.
Create Proxies of the media file. This option converts them to lower-resolution files that are easier for a lower-powered computer to play and that take up less storage space. The original media is always available too, and you can switch between the full-quality and proxy-quality files whenever you like.
Copy And Create Proxies to combine copying the original media files to a new location and creating proxies for them.
Now that you have checked that the settings are correct for this project, click OK to apply any changes. Save, and close the project.
1. The Settings tab is used to customize an existing preset or to create a new custom preset.
2. It’s generally best to choose a preset that matches your original footage to minimize conversion during playback. Premiere Pro makes this easy by describing the presets in terms of camera systems.
3. Timecode is the universal system for measuring time in hours, minutes, seconds, and frames. The number of frames per second varies depending on the recording format.
4. When you’ve chosen the settings you want for your custom preset on the Settings tab in the New Sequence dialog box, click the Save Preset button, give the preset a name and a description, and click OK.
5. Use the Scratch Disks settings, which can be found in the Project Settings to specify locations for newly created files.