4 Organizing Media – Adobe Premiere Pro Classroom in a Book (2020 release)

4 Organizing Media

Lesson overview

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to do the following:

  • Use the Project panel.

  • Stay organized with bins.

  • Add clip metadata.

  • Use essential playback controls.

  • Interpret footage.

  • Make changes to your clips.

This lesson will take about 90 minutes to complete. To get the lesson files used in this chapter, download them from the web page for this book at www.adobepress.com/PremiereCIB2020. For more information, see “Accessing the lesson files and Web Edition” in the Getting Started section at the beginning of this book.

Once you have some video and audio assets in your project, you’ll begin looking through your footage and adding clips to a sequence. Before you do, it’s well worth spending a little time organizing the assets you have. Doing so can save you from spending hours hunting for things later.

Starting the lesson

When you have lots of clips in your project, imported from several different media types, it can be a challenge to stay on top of everything and always find that magic shot when you need it.

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to organize your clips using the Project panel. You’ll create special folders, called bins, to divide your clips into categories. You’ll also learn about adding important metadata and labels to your clips.

You’ll begin by getting to know the Project panel and organizing your clips.

  1. For this lesson, you’ll use the project file you used in Lesson 3, “Importing Media.” Continue to work with the project file from the previous lesson. Alternatively, open the project file Lesson 04.prproj from the Lessons folder.

  2. To begin, reset the workspace to the default. In the Workspaces panel, click Editing. Then click the panel menu adjacent to the Editing option, and choose Reset To Saved Layout.

  3. Choose File > Save As.

  4. Rename the file to Lesson 04 Working.prproj.

  5. Browse to the Lessons folder, and click Save to save the project.

    By saving a new version of the project file you can always go back to the previous version—it’s an electronic paper trail.

Using the Project panel

Everything you import into your Adobe Premiere Pro project will appear in the Project panel. As well as giving you tools for browsing your clips and working with their metadata, the Project panel has folder-like bins that you can use to stay organized.

In addition to acting as the repository for all your clips, the Project panel gives you important options for interpreting media. All your footage will have a frame rate (frames per second, or fps) and a pixel aspect ratio (pixel shape), for example. You may want to change these settings for creative or technical reasons.

The Project panel in List view. To switch to this view, click the List View button at the bottom left of the panel.

You could, for example, interpret video recorded at 60 fps video as 30 fps to achieve a 50% slow-motion effect. You might receive a video file that has the wrong pixel aspect ratio setting and want to correct it.

Premiere Pro uses metadata associated with footage to know how to play it back and can display and edit additional metadata (such as location log notes) in the Project panel or the dedicated Metadata panel. If you want to change the clip metadata, you can do so in the Project panel.

Customizing the Project panel

It’s likely that you’ll want to resize the Project panel from time to time. You’ll alternate between looking at your clips as a list or as thumbnail icons. Sometimes it’s quicker to resize the panel than to scroll to see more information.

The default Editing workspace is designed to keep the interface as clean as possible so you can focus on your creative work. Part of the Project panel that’s hidden from view by default, called the Preview Area, gives additional information about your clips.

Let’s take a look.

  1. Open the Project panel menu.

  2. Choose Preview Area.

    The Preview Area shows useful information about clips when you select them.


    You can access lots of clip information by scrolling the List view or by hovering your pointer over a clip name.


    There’s a quick way to toggle between seeing the Project panel in a frame and seeing it full-screen: Hover your pointer over the panel, and press the ` (accent grave) key. You can do this with any panel. If your keyboard does not have a ` (accent grave) key, you can double-click the panel name.

    The Preview Area shows you several kinds of useful information about a selected clip in the Project panel, including the frame size, pixel aspect ratio, and duration.

    Click the Poster Frame button to set the clip thumbnail displayed in the Project panel.

    If it’s not already selected, click the List View button at the bottom left of the Project panel. In this view, you’ll find a lot of information about each clip in the Project panel organized in columns, but you need to scroll horizontally to see it.

  3. Choose Preview Area from the Project panel menu again to hide it.

There is also a Freeform view in the Project panel, which can be used to organize clips or even begin to build sequences (more on this in “Freeform view,” in this lesson).

Finding assets in the Project panel

Working with clips is a little like working with pieces of paper at your desk. If you have just one or two clips, it’s easy. But when you have 100 to 200, you need an organizational system.


You can scroll the Project panel view up and down using the scroll wheel on your mouse, or using a gesture if you have a touchpad.


When you scroll to the right in the Project panel, Premiere Pro always maintains the clip names on the left so you know which clips you’re seeing information about.


You may need to drag a heading divider to expand the width of a column before you can see its sort order indicator or all of the information available in the column.

One way you can help make things smoother during the edit is to invest a little time in organizing your clips at the beginning. If you rename your clips after importing them, you can more easily locate content later (see “Changing names” in this lesson).

  1. Click the Name column heading at the top of the Project panel. Each time you click the Name heading, items in the Project panel are displayed in alphabetical order or reverse alphabetical order. A direction indicator next to the heading shows the current sort order.

    If you’re searching for several clips with particular features—such as a duration or a frame size—it can be helpful to change the order in which the headings are displayed.

  2. Scroll to the right until you can see the Media Duration heading in the Project panel. This shows the total duration of each clip’s media file.

  3. Click the Media Duration heading. Premiere Pro now displays the clips in order of media duration. Notice the direction arrow on the Media Duration heading. Each time you click the heading, the direction arrow toggles between showing clips in order of increasing duration and decreasing duration.


    The Project panel configuration is saved with workspaces, so if you want to always have access to a particular setup, save it as part of a custom workspace.

  4. Drag the Media Duration heading to the left until you see a blue divider between the Frame Rate heading and the Name heading. When you release the heading, the Media Duration heading will be repositioned right next to the Name heading.

Filtering bin content

Premiere Pro has search tools to help you find your media. Even if you’re using the nondescriptive original clip names assigned in-camera, you can search for clips based on a number of factors, such as frame size or file type.


Graphic and photo files such as Adobe Photoshop PSD, JPEG, and Adobe Illustrator AI files import with a default frame duration. You can change this by choosing Preferences > Timeline > Still Image Default Duration.

At the top of the Project panel, you can type in the Search (or Filter Bin Content) field to display only clips with names or metadata matching the text you enter. This is a quick way to locate a clip if you remember its name (or even part of its name). Clips that don’t match the text you enter are hidden, and clips that do match are revealed, even if they are inside a closed bin.

Try this now.

  1. Click in the Filter Bin Content box, and type jo.


    The name bin comes from film editing. The Project panel is also effectively a bin; it can contain clips and functions like any other bin.

    Premiere Pro displays only the clips with the letters jo in the name or in the metadata. Notice that the name of the project is displayed above the text-entry box, along with (filtered). This is the only indication that some of the clips in the Project panel may be hidden.

  2. Click the X on the right of the Search field to clear your search.

  3. Type psd in the box.

Premiere Pro displays only clips that have the letters psd in their name or metadata. In this case, it’s the Theft_Unexpected title you imported in the previous lesson as a layered image—this is a Photoshop PSD file. Using the Filter Bin Content box in this way, you can search for particular types of files.

Some types of metadata can be edited directly in the Project panel. For example, you can add notes to the Description field, and these will immediately be searchable.

Be sure to click the X on the right of the Search field to clear your filter when you have found the clips you want. Do this now.

Using advanced Find

Premiere Pro also has an advanced Find feature. To learn about it, let’s import some more clips.

Using any of the methods described in Lesson 3, import these items:

  • Seattle_Skyline.mov from the Assets/Video and Audio Files/General Views folder

  • Under Basket.mov from the Assets/Video and Audio Files/Basketball folder

At the bottom of the Project panel, click the Find button . Premiere Pro displays the Find dialog box, which has more advanced options for locating your clip.

You can perform two searches at once with the advanced Find dialog box. You can choose to display clips that match all search criteria or any search criteria. For example, depending on the setting you choose from the Match menu, you could do either of the following:

  • Search for a clip with the words dog and boat in its name.

  • Search for a clip with the word dog or boat in its name.

You can refine your search with the following menus:

  • Column: This menu lists the columns in the Project panel. When you click Find, Premiere Pro will search only within the column you choose.

  • Operator: This menu contains a set of standard search options. You can choose to have the search return clips that contain your search term, match it exactly, begin with it, end with it, or lack it entirely.


You can find clips in sequences too. With a sequence open and the Timeline panel active, choose Edit > Find.

  • Match: Choose All to find a clip with both your first and your second search text. Choose Any to find a clip with either your first or your second search term.

  • Case Sensitive: Select this option to return only results that exactly match the uppercase and lowercase letters you enter.

  • Find What: Type your search text here.

When you click Find, Premiere Pro highlights a clip that matches your search criteria. Click Find again, and Premiere Pro highlights the next clip that matches your search criteria.

Click Done to exit the Find dialog box.

Working with bins

Bins allow you to organize clips by dividing them into groups.

Just as with folders on your hard drive, you can have multiple bins inside other bins, creating a hierarchical structure as complex as your project requires.

There’s an important difference between bins and the folders on your storage drive, however: Bins exist only in your Premiere Pro project file to help organize clips. You won’t find individual folders representing project bins on your storage drive.

Creating bins

Let’s create a bin.

  1. Click the New Bin button at the bottom of the Project panel.

    Premiere Pro creates a new bin and automatically highlights the name, ready for you to rename it. It’s a good habit to name bins as soon as you create them.

  2. You have already imported some clips from a short film, so let’s give them a bin. Name the new bin Theft Unexpected, and press Return (macOS) or Enter (Windows).

  3. You can also create a bin using the File menu. Let’s do this now: Make sure the Project panel is active, and deselect the bin you just created. (If a bin is selected when you create a new bin, the new bin is placed inside the selected bin.) Choose File > New > Bin.

  4. Name the new bin Graphics, and press Return/Enter.


    It can be difficult to find a blank part of the Project panel to click when it is full of clips. Try clicking just to the left of the icons, inside the panel, or choose Edit > Deselect All.


    If you accidentally create a new bin inside an existing bin, drag the new bin out of the selected bin or choose Edit > Undo to remove the new bin and create it again after deselecting.

  5. You can also make a new bin by right-clicking a blank area in the Project panel and choosing New Bin. Try this now.

  6. Name the new bin Illustrator Files, and press Return/Enter.

    One of the quickest and easiest ways to create a new bin for clips you already have in your project is to drag and drop the clips onto the New Bin button at the bottom of the Project panel.

  7. Drag and drop the clip Seattle_Skyline.mov onto the New Bin button.

  8. Name the newly created bin City Views, and press Return/Enter.

  9. Make sure the Project panel is active, but no existing bins are selected. Press the keyboard shortcut Command+B (macOS) or Ctrl+B (Windows) to make another bin.

  10. Name the bin Sequences, and press Return/Enter.

If your Project panel is set to List view, with the Name heading selected for sorting at the top of the panel, bins are displayed in alphabetical order among the clips. Newly created bins in List view are automatically expanded, with their disclosure triangles set open.


To rename a bin, right-click it and choose Rename. Type the new name, and click away from the text to apply it.

Managing media in bins

Now that you have some bins, let’s put them to use. As you move clips into bins, use the disclosure triangles to hide their contents and tidy up the view.


When you import a Photoshop file with multiple layers and choose to import it as a sequence, Premiere Pro automatically creates a bin for the layers and their sequence.

  1. Drag the clip Brightlove_film_logo.ai onto the Illustrator Files bin icon. This will move the clip into the bin.

  2. Drag Theft_Unexpected.png into the Graphics bin.

  3. Drag the bin called Theft_Unexpected_Layered (created automatically when you imported the layered PSD file as individual layers) into the Graphics bin.

  4. Drag the clip Under Basket.mov into the City Views bin. You may need to resize the panel or switch it to full-screen to see both the clip and the bin.

  5. Drag the sequence called First Sequence into the Sequences bin.

  6. Drag all the remaining clips into the Theft Unexpected bin.


    You can make Shift-click as well as Command-click (macOS) or Ctrl-click (Windows) selections in the Project panel, just like you can with files on your hard drive.

    You should now have a nicely organized Project panel, with each kind of clip in its own bin.


    To expand or collapse all disclosure triangles, hold Option (macOS) or Alt (Windows) while you click any disclosure triangle.

    You can also copy and paste clips to make extra copies if this helps you stay organized. In the Graphics bin, you have a PNG file that might be useful for the Theft Unexpected content. Let’s make an extra copy.

  7. Click the disclosure triangle for the Graphics bin to display the contents.

  8. Right-click the Theft_Unexpected.png clip and choose Copy.

  9. Click the disclosure triangle for the Theft Unexpected bin to display the contents.


    When you make copies of clips, you are not making duplicate copies of the media files they are linked to. You can make as many copies as you like of a clip in your Premiere Pro project. Those copies will all link to the same original media file.

  10. Right-click the Theft Unexpected bin and choose Paste.

    A copy of the clip is added to the Theft Unexpected bin.

Finding your media files

If you would like to know where a media file is on your hard drive, you can right-click the clip in the Project panel and choose Reveal In Finder (macOS) or Explorer (Windows).

The folder in your storage drive that contains the media file will open. This can be useful if you are working with media files stored on multiple hard drives or if you have renamed your clips in Premiere Pro.

If you moved all the remaining clips into the Theft Unexpected bin, you should have an Audio 1.wav clip in that bin now, which is the voice-over you recorded in an earlier exercise. If you tried recording voice-over multiple times, you may have more than one audio clip, each with a different number. Let’s remove the clip but keep the audio:

  1. Right-click that voice-over clip and choose Reveal In Finder (macOS) or Explorer (Windows).

  2. Switch back to Premiere Pro. Click the icon for the Audio 1.wav clip to select it, and press Backspace (macOS) or Delete (Windows) to remove it.

    Premiere Pro displays a warning message to remind you that the clip is currently used in a sequence. Clicking Yes will remove the clip from the Project panel and any sequence that contains the clip.

    Click Yes to remove the clip.

  3. Switch back to the folder containing the file in your storage. It’s still there!

    Removing a clip in Premiere Pro does not remove it from your storage.

Changing bin views

Although there is a distinction between the Project panel and the bins inside it, they have the same controls and viewing options. For all intents and purposes, you can treat the Project panel as a bin; many Premiere Pro editors use the terms bin and Project panel interchangeably.

Bins have three views. You choose between them by clicking the List View button , Icon View button , or Freeform View button at the bottom left of the Project panel.

  • List view: This view displays your clips and bins as a list, with a significant amount of metadata displayed. You can scroll through the metadata and use it to sort clips by clicking column headers.

  • Icon view: This view displays your clips and bins as thumbnails you can rearrange and use to preview clip contents.

  • Freeform view: This view displays clips and bins as thumbnails that you can assign different sizes, group together, and place freely in a large area. More information on this view is coming up later in this lesson in “Freeform view.”

The Project panel has a zoom control, next to the List View, Icon, and Freeform View buttons, which changes the size of the clip icons or thumbnails.


When you double-clicked the Theft Unexpected bin to open it, it opened in a new panel in the same group as the Project panel. You can keep as many bins open as you like and place them anywhere in the interface to help you stay organized.

  1. Double-click the Theft Unexpected bin to open it in its own panel (the option to open bins in a new panel when double-clicking can be changed in the General preferences).

  2. Click the Icon View button on the Theft Unexpected bin to display thumbnails for the clips. You may want to resize the Project panel to view more thumbnails.


    You can also change the font size in the Project panel or a bin by clicking the panel menu and choosing Font Size. This is particularly useful if you are working on a high-resolution screen.

  3. Try adjusting the zoom control.

    Premiere Pro can display large thumbnails to make browsing and selecting your clips easier.

    You can also apply various kinds of sorting to clip thumbnails in Icon view by clicking the Sort Icons menu .

  4. Switch to List view.

    When you’re in List view, it doesn’t help that much to zoom, unless you turn on the display of thumbnails in this view.

  5. Open the panel menu, and choose Thumbnails.

    Premiere Pro now displays thumbnails in List view, as well as in Icon view.

  6. Drag the Zoom control to the right to increase the size of thumbnails.

    The clip thumbnails show the first frame of the media. In some clips, the first frame will not be particularly useful. Look at the clip HS Suit, for example. The thumbnail shows the clapperboard, but it would be useful to see the character.

    Notice the numbers in the clip names. These are the original media file names that were retained when adding descriptive names. For these lessons, we’ll only refer to the descriptive clip names and omit the numbers from the original media.

  7. Switch to Icon view.


    Selecting a clip by clicking its thumbnail reveals a small timeline control under it. Drag on this timeline to view the contents of the clip.

    In this view, you can hover the pointer over clip thumbnails to preview clips.

  8. Hover your pointer over the HS Suit clip. Move the pointer until you find a frame that better represents the shot.

  9. While the frame you have chosen is displayed, press the I key.

    The I key is the keyboard shortcut for Mark In, a command that sets the beginning of a selection when choosing part of a clip that you intend to add to a sequence. The same selection also sets the visible frame, called the poster frame, for a clip in a bin.

  10. Switch to List view.

    Premiere Pro shows your newly selected frame as the thumbnail for this clip.

  11. Choose Thumbnails from the panel menu to turn off thumbnails in List view.

Assigning labels

Every item in the Project panel has a label color. In List view, the Label column shows the label color for every clip. When you add clips to a sequence, they are displayed in the Timeline panel with this label color.

Let’s change the label color for a title.

  1. In the Theft Unexpected bin, right-click Theft_Unexpected.png and choose Label > Forest.

    You can change label colors for multiple clips in a single step by selecting them and then right-clicking them to choose another label color.

  2. Press Command+Z (macOS) or Ctrl+Z (Windows) to change the Theft_Unexpected.png label color back to Lavender.

    When you add a clip to a sequence, Premiere Pro creates a new instance, or copy, of that clip. You’ll have one copy in the Project panel and one copy in the sequence. Both link to the same media file.

    When you change the label color for a clip in the Project panel or rename a clip, it may or may not update copies of the clip in sequences.

    You can set this by choosing File > Project Settings > General and enabling or disabling the option to display the project item name and label color for all instances.


Once your clips have the right label colors, you can right-click a clip at any time and choose Label > Select Label Group to select and highlight all visible items with the same label.

Changing names

Because clips in your project are separate from the media files they link to, you can rename items in Premiere Pro and the names of your original media files on the hard drive are left untouched. This makes it safe to rename clips—and it can be helpful when organizing a complex project.

If you opened the Theft Unexpected bin by double-clicking it, it will have opened as a new panel in the same group as the Project panel. Let’s begin by navigating between bins.

At the top left of the Theft Unexpected bin, you’ll see a button to navigate up . This button appears whenever you are viewing the contents of a bin by opening it. Just as Finder (macOS) or Explorer (Windows) have navigation buttons, you can use this button to browse “up” to the container of the current bin. In this case, it’s the Project panel, but it could just as easily be another bin.

  1. Click to navigate up to the Project panel.

    The Project panel comes to the front and becomes the active panel. The Theft Unexpected bin is still open.

    Whenever you navigate between bins that are already open, the existing open instance is displayed. This way, you won’t have multiple instances of the same bin taking up space on-screen.

  2. Open the Graphics bin.

  3. Right-click the clip Theft_Unexpected.png and choose Rename.

  4. Change the name to TU Title BW (that is, Theft Unexpected Title Black and White). After typing the new name, click the background of the Project panel to apply it.

  5. Right-click the newly renamed clip, TU Title BW, and choose Reveal In Finder (macOS) or Reveal In Explorer (Windows).


To rename an item in the Project panel, you can also click the item name, wait a moment, and click again, or you can select the item and press Return (macOS) or Enter (Windows).

The original media file is displayed in its current location. Notice that the original filename has not changed. Earlier you deleted a clip in this project and the original media file renamed—in a sense this is similar to renaming a clip in a project. Changing the clip does not change the media file.


When you change the name of a clip in Premiere Pro, the new name is stored in the project file. Different Premiere Pro project files may use different names for the same clip. In fact, you could have two copies of a clip in the same project with different names.

It’s helpful to be clear about the relationship between your original media files and the clips inside the Premiere Pro project because it explains much of the way the application works.

Customizing bins

When set to List view, the Project panel displays a number of columns of information about each clip. Depending on the clips you have and the types of metadata you are working with, you might want to change the columns that are displayed.

  1. In the Project panel group, select the Theft Unexpected bin tab to bring it to the front of the group.

  2. Open the panel menu, and choose Metadata Display.

    The Metadata Display dialog box allows you to choose any kind of metadata to display in the List view of the Project panel (and any bins). All you have to do is select the checkbox for the kind of information you would like to be included.

  3. Click the disclosure triangle for Premiere Pro Project Metadata to show those options.


    Notice there’s a Search box at the top of the Metadata Display dialog box. Enter the name of an item here to locate it if you’re not sure which category to browse in.

  4. Select the Media Type option.

  5. Click OK.

Media Type is now added as a heading for the Theft Unexpected bin only. You can apply the change to every bin in one step by using the panel menu in the Project panel to access the Metadata Display dialog box, rather than in an individual bin.


Several useful bin columns are displayed by default, including the Good check box. Select this box for clips you prefer, and then click the column heading to sort selected shots from unwanted content.

Some columns provide information only, while others can be edited directly in the bin. The Scene column, for example, allows you to add a scene number for each clip, while the Media Type column gives information about the original media and cannot be edited directly.

If you add information and press the Return (macOS) or Enter (Windows) key, Premiere Pro activates the same box for the next clip down. This way, you can use the keyboard to quickly enter information about several clips, jumping from one box to the next without using your pointer. You can also use the Tab key to move between boxes toward the right, and you can press Shift+Tab to move between boxes toward the left. This way, you can switch to a faster keyboard workflow for metadata entry (it also leaves a hand free to hold a cup of coffee…).

Having multiple bins open at once

Every bin panel behaves in the same way, with the same options, buttons, and settings. By default, when you double-click a bin, it opens in a new panel, in the same panel group.

You can change this in Preferences by choosing Premiere Pro > Preferences > General (macOS) or Edit > Preferences > General (Windows).

The options in the Bins area of the General preferences allow you to choose what will happen when you double-click; Command-double-click (mac OS) or Ctrl-double-click (Windows); or Option-double-click (macOS) or Alt-double-click (Windows).

Once you are familiar and comfortable with navigating between bins, you may want to change these options to match the way Finder (macOS) or Explorer (Windows) open folders, with bins opening in place when you double-click, for example. The settings shown here are a good match.

Reviewing footage

The greater part of video editing is spent watching or listening to clips and making creative choices about them.

Premiere Pro has multiple ways to perform common tasks, such as playing video clips. You can use the keyboard, click buttons with your pointer, or use an external device like a jog/shuttle controller.

  1. Continue working in the Theft Unexpected bin.

  2. Click the Icon View button at the lower-left corner of the bin, and use the Zoom control to set the thumbnails to a size you are happy with.

  3. Hover your pointer over any of the images in the bin.

    Premiere Pro displays the contents of the clip as you move your pointer. The left edge of the thumbnail represents the beginning of the clip, and the right edge represents the end. In this way, the width of the thumbnail represents the whole clip.

    This is called hover scrubbing.

  4. Select a clip by clicking it once (be careful not to double-click or the clip will open in the Source Monitor). Now, hover scrubbing is turned off.

    While hover scrubbing, a tiny navigator appeared at the bottom of the thumbnail. When the clip is selected, this navigator gets larger, and a small gray playhead appears. Try dragging through the clip using the playhead.

    When a clip is selected, you can use the J, K, and L keys on your keyboard to perform playback, just as you can in the Media Browser.


    If you press the J or L key multiple times, the video will play at multiple speeds. Pressing Shift+J or Shift+L reduces or increases playback speed in 10% increments.

    • J: Play backward

    • K: Pause

    • L: Play forward

  5. Select a clip, and use the J, K, and L keys to play the video in the thumbnail.

    When you double-click a clip, Premiere Pro displays the clip in the Source Monitor and also adds it to a list of recent clips.


    Notice that you have the option to close a single clip or close all clips, clearing the menu and the monitor. Some editors like to clear the menu and then open several clips that are part of a scene by selecting them in the bin and dragging them into the Source Monitor together. You can then use the Recent Items menu to browse only the clips from that selection. You can also toggle between clips on this recent list by pressing the Source Monitor panel keyboard shortcut, Shift+2.

  6. Double-click four or five clips from the Theft Unexpected bin to open them in the Source Monitor.

  7. Open the Source Monitor panel menu to browse your recent clips.

  8. Open the Zoom Level menu at the bottom left of the Source Monitor.

    By default, this is set to Fit, which means Premiere Pro will display the whole frame, regardless of the original size. Change the setting to 100%.

    Your clips will often be higher resolution than the monitors.

    It’s likely scroll bars have appeared at the bottom and on the right of your Source Monitor so you can view different parts of the image. However, if you are working on a very high-resolution screen, it’s possible the image got smaller.

    The benefit of viewing with Zoom set to 100% is that you see every pixel of the original video, which is useful for checking the quality.

  9. Choose Fit from the Zoom Level menu.

Using essential playback controls

Let’s look at the Source Monitor playback controls.

  1. Double-click the shot Excuse Me (not Excuse Me Tilted) in the Theft Unexpected bin to open it in the Source Monitor.

  2. At the bottom of the Source Monitor, you’ll find a blue playhead marker. Drag it along the bottom of the panel to view different parts of the clip. You can also click wherever you want the playhead to go, and it will jump to that spot.


    Hover the pointer over each one to see the name and keyboard shortcut (in parentheses).

  3. Below the time ruler and its playhead, there’s a scroll bar that doubles as a Zoom control. Drag one end of this scroll bar to zoom in on the time ruler. This will make it easier to navigate longer clips.

  4. Click the Play/Stop button to play the clip. Click it again to stop playback. You can also use the spacebar to start and stop playback.

  5. Click the Step Back 1 Frame and Step Forward 1 Frame buttons to move through the clip one frame at a time. You can also use the Left Arrow and Right Arrow keys on your keyboard.


    Panel selection is important when using keyboard shortcuts (and menus). If you find the J, K, and L keys don’t work, double-check that the Source Monitor is selected (it will be outlined in blue).

  6. Try using the J, K, and L keys to play your clip.

  7. Try holding K while you press and release the J or L key. The playhead will move one frame and play associated audio, making it useful when seeking a precise moment in dialogue.

Lowering the playback resolution

If you have an older or slower computer processor or are working with RAW media with large frame sizes, such as Ultra High-Definition (UHD, 4K, 8K, or above), your computer may struggle to play all the frames of your video clips. Clips will play with the correct timing (so 10 seconds of video will still take 10 seconds), but some frames may not be displayed.

To work with a wide variety of computer hardware configurations, from powerful desktop workstations to lightweight portable laptops, Premiere Pro can lower the playback resolution to make playback smoother.

There are separate menus in the Source Monitor and Program Monitor to set the playback resolution. The default resolution is 1/2.

You can switch the playback resolution as often as you like, using the Select Playback Resolution menu on the Source Monitor and Program Monitor panels.

Some lower resolutions are available only when working with particular media types. For other media types, the work of converting the image to lower resolution might be more than the work saved by not playing full resolution because not all codecs can be played back at a lower resolution efficiently. In that case, some resolutions will be dimmed and unavailable.


If you are working with a particularly powerful computer, you may want to choose High Quality Playback from the monitor Settings menu. This maximizes preview playback quality, particularly for compressed media like H.264 video, graphics, and stills (at the expense of playback performance).

Getting timecode information

At the bottom left of the Source Monitor, a timecode display in blue shows the current position of the playhead in hours, minutes, seconds, and frames (00:00:00:00), according to the clip’s timecode. For example, 01:54:08:05 is 1 hour, 54 minutes, 8 seconds, and 5 frames.

Clip timecode will rarely begin at 00:00:00:00, so you should not count on this number to assess the duration of a clip.

At the bottom right of the Source Monitor, a timecode display in light gray shows the duration of your clip.

By default, this shows the whole clip duration, but later you’ll add special In and Out marks to make a partial selection. When you do, that duration shown will change accordingly.

In and Out marks are simple to use: Click the Mark In button to set the beginning of the part of a clip you want to use, and click the Mark Out button to set the end of the part of a clip you want. You’ll learn more about this in Lesson 5, “Mastering the Essentials of Video Editing.”

Displaying safe margins

Television monitors often crop the edges of the picture to achieve a clean edge. Open the Settings menu at the bottom of the Source Monitor , and choose Safe Margins to display useful white outlines over the image.

The outer box is the action-safe zone. Aim to keep important action inside this box so that when the picture is displayed, edge cropping does not hide what’s going on.

The inner box is the title-safe zone. Keep titles and graphics inside this box so that even on a badly adjusted display, your audience will be able to read the words.

Premiere Pro also has advanced overlay options that can be configured to display useful information in the Source Monitor and Program Monitor. To enable or disable overlays, open the monitor’s Settings menu and choose Overlays.

You can access the specific settings for overlays and safe margins by clicking the monitor’s Settings menu and choosing Overlay Settings > Settings.

You can disable Safe Margins or Overlays by choosing them from the Source Monitor or Program Monitor’s Settings menu again. Do so now so you can see the image clearly.

Customizing the monitors

To customize the way a monitor displays video, open each monitor’s Settings menu .

The Source Monitor and Program Monitor have similar options. In the Source Monitor, you can view the waveform of the audio in the clip, which shows amplitude over time (useful if you are searching for a particular sound or the start of a word).


If you are working with 360° video, you can switch to a VR video viewing mode using the Source Monitor and Program Monitor Settings menus.

Make sure Composite Video is chosen from the Source Monitor and Program Monitor Settings menus for now.

You can quickly switch between viewing the clip audio waveform and the video by clicking Drag Video Only or Drag Audio Only , just under the video display.

These icons are mainly used to drag only the video or only the audio part of a clip into a sequence, but they also provide this useful shortcut to view the audio waveform.

You can add, move, or remove buttons at the bottom of the Source Monitor and Program Monitor. Note that any customizations you make to the buttons on one of the monitor panels are applied only to that panel.

  1. Click the Button Editor at the bottom right of the Source Monitor.

    The complete set of available buttons appears on a floating panel.

  2. Drag the Loop Playback button from the floating panel to a spot to the right of the Play button on the Source Monitor (the other buttons will automatically make space for it), and click OK to close the Button Editor.

  3. Double-click the Excuse Me clip in the Theft Unexpected bin to open it in the Source Monitor if it isn’t open already.

  4. Click the Loop Playback button you added to enable it.

  5. Click the Play button to play the clip. Play the video using the spacebar or the Play button on the Source Monitor. Stop the playback when you’ve seen the video start again.

    With Loop turned on, Premiere Pro continuously repeats playback of a clip or sequence. If there are In and Out marks set, playback loops between them. This is a great way to review a section of a clip.

  6. Click the Step Back 1 Frame and Step Forward 1 Frame buttons to move through the clip one frame at a time. You can also use the Left Arrow and Right Arrow keys on your keyboard.

Freeform view

The important third viewing mode in the Project panel is called Freeform view. This mode looks a lot like Icon view except that now you can position clips anywhere, including beyond the currently visible edges of the panel. You can set different thumbnail sizes for different clips and organize clips as stacks or groups. You can also snap the edges of thumbnails together to pre-arrange sequences.

By placing clips next to each other in a line, you can use hover scrubbing to quickly review multiple clips.

Let’s try this with some new clips.

  1. If you have browsed into a bin in the Project panel or if a bin is selected, the following steps will result in new items being added to that bin. To avoid this, use the Navigate Up button or deselect any bins in the Project panel before continuing.


    Importing a folder can work well if your media files do not include additional supporting files. DSLR footage will often work well. If you are using more advanced camera footage, you should import by selecting clips in the Media Browser.

  2. Click the name of the Media Browser to select it.

  3. Use the navigator on the left to browse to Lessons/Assets/Video and Audio Files.

  4. In the contents area on the right, right-click the Desert folder and choose Import.

    The entire contents of the Desert folder are imported, placed in a bin that is automatically created and named after the folder.

  5. In the Project panel, double-click the new Desert bin to open it in its own panel.

  6. Click the Freeform View button in the Project panel to switch to that view. Now double-click the name of the bin to switch the panel group to full screen, so there’s more room to arrange the clips.

    Initially, your clips may appear as a single column of thumbnails.

  7. Right-click an empty space in the Project panel and choose Reset To Grid > Name to make more efficient use of the space.

    Notice that even though you have chosen one of the many options to rearrange the clip thumbnails and you have set the panel to full screen, there are still horizontal and vertical scroll bars. Freeform view gives you a wide area to arrange your clips in.

While bins provide a convenient way to organize your clips, either as lists of items or as thumbnails, Freeform view allows you to group clips within a bin. Not only that, you can give different clips different thumbnail sizes.

Freeform view is an open canvas for you to arrange clips into groups and experiment with possible combinations before adding them to a sequence. Here are the features of Freeform view:

  • Thumbnails do not snap to a grid, although you can tidy up the view by right-clicking the background of the Project panel and choosing Align To Grid. Choose Reset To Grid, followed by an option, to both tidy up the view and sort the clips.

  • You can snap the edges of clips by holding Option (macOS) or Alt (Windows) as you drag a thumbnail.

  • You can save multiple Freeform view clip layouts by right-clicking the background of the Project panel and choosing Save As New Layout. Restore a layout by right-clicking the background of the Project panel and choosing Restore Layout. Choose Manage Saved Layouts to selectively delete layouts you no longer need.

  • You can select one or more clips and assign a thumbnail size. To do this, right-click one or more selected clips and choose Clip Size, followed by a particular size.

  • The Zoom control (and pinch and zoom on a trackpad) will zoom the whole view. You can also hold Option (macOS) or Alt (Windows) and scroll to zoom.

  • Open the panel menu, and choose Freeform View Options to enable or disable two lines of metadata, label colors, and badges.

Freeform view is a powerful alternative to the traditional clip and bin organizational system. Take a little time now to explore the options and familiarize yourself with this view. Most of the workflows presented in this book will apply to any of the three views, and you are likely to alternate between them often.

Modifying clips

Premiere Pro uses metadata associated with clips to know how to play them back. This metadata is normally added correctly when the media is created (by the camera, for example), but occasionally it might be wrong. Sometimes, you’ll need to tell Premiere Pro how to interpret clips.

You can change the interpretation of clips for one file or multiple files in a single step. All selected clips are affected by changes you make to interpretation.

Choosing audio channels

Premiere Pro has advanced audio management features. You can create complex sound mixes and selectively target output audio channels with original clip audio. You can work with mono, stereo, 5.1, Ambisonics, and even 32-channel sequences and clips with precise control over the routing of audio channels.

If you’re just starting out, you’ll probably want to produce sequences mastered in stereo using mono or stereo source clips. In this case, the default settings are most likely what you need.

When recording audio with a professional camera, it’s common to have one microphone record onto one audio channel and a different microphone record onto another audio channel. These are the same audio channels that would be used for regular stereo audio, but they now contain completely separate sound.

Your camera adds metadata to the audio to tell Premiere Pro whether the sound is meant to be mono (separate audio channels) or stereo (channel 1 audio and channel 2 audio combined to produce the complete stereo mix).

You can tell Premiere Pro how to interpret audio channels when new media files are imported by choosing Premiere Pro > Preferences > Timeline > Default Audio Tracks (macOS) or Edit > Preferences > Timeline > Default Audio Tracks (Windows).

The Use File option means Premiere Pro will use the audio channel settings applied to the clip when it was created. You can override that option for each media type using the appropriate menu.

If the setting was wrong when you imported your clips, it’s easy to set a different way to interpret the audio channels in the Project panel.

  1. Click the name of the Theft Unexpected bin to bring it to the front. If the bin is not open, double-click it to open it in the Project panel.

  2. Right-click the Reveal clip in the Theft Unexpected bin and choose Modify > Audio Channels.

    When the Preset menu is set to Use File, as it is here, Premiere Pro will use the file’s metadata to set the channel format for the audio.

    In this case, Clip Channel Format is set to stereo, and Number of Audio Clips is set to 1—that’s the number of audio clips that will be added to a sequence if you edit this clip into it.

    Now look at the channel matrix below those options. The Left and Right audio channels of the source clip (described as Media Source Channel) are both assigned to a single clip (described as Clip 1).

    When you add this clip to a sequence, it will appear as one video clip and one audio clip, with both audio channels in the same audio clip.

  3. Open the Preset menu, and choose Mono.

    Premiere Pro switches the Clip Channel Format menu to Mono, so the Left and Right source channels are now linked to two separate clips.

    This means that when you add the clip to a sequence, each audio channel will go on a separate track, as separate clips, allowing you to work on them independently.


    Be sure to use the Preset menu and not the Clip Channel Format menu to correctly change this setting.

  4. Click OK.

Merging clips

It’s common for professional video to be recorded on a camera with relatively low-quality audio, while high-quality sound is recorded on a separate device. When working this way, you’ll want to combine the high-quality audio with the video by merging them in the Project panel.

The most important factor when merging video and audio files in this way is synchronization for the audio. You will either manually define a sync point—like a clapperboard mark—or allow Premiere Pro to sync your clips automatically based on their original timecode information or by matching up their audio.

If you choose to sync clips using audio, Premiere Pro will analyze both the in-camera audio and the separately captured sound and match them up. The option to sync automatically using the audio in both clips makes it worthwhile attaching a microphone to your camera, even if you know you won’t use the audio in post-production. The following steps are described for your information only–no need to follow along.

  1. If you don’t have matching audio in the clips you are merging, you can manually add a marker to each clip you want to merge on a clear sync point like a clapperboard. The keyboard shortcut to add a marker is M.

  2. Select the camera clip and the separate audio clip, right-click either item, and choose Merge Clips.

  3. Under Synchronize Point, choose your sync method, and click OK.

There’s an option to use audio timecode (sometimes useful for older archived tape-based media).

There’s also an option to automatically remove the unwanted audio included with the audio-video clip. You may want to keep that audio, though, just in case there’s an issue with the external microphone audio.

A new clip is created that combines the video and the “good” audio in a single item.

Interpreting video footage

For Premiere Pro to play a clip correctly, it needs to know the frame rate for the video, the pixel aspect ratio (the shape of the pixels), and, if your clip is interlaced, the order in which to display the fields. Premiere Pro can usually find out this information from the file’s metadata, but you can change the interpretation easily.

  1. Use the Media Browser panel to import RED Video.R3D from the Assets/Video and Audio Files/RED folder. Double-click the clip to open it in the Source Monitor. It’s full anamorphic widescreen, which is wider than regular 16×9 footage. This wider aspect ratio is achieved by using pixels that are not wider.

  2. Right-click the clip in the Project panel and choose Modify > Interpret Footage.

    The option to modify audio channels is unavailable because this clip has no audio.

  3. Right now, the clip is set to use the pixel aspect ratio setting from the file: Anamorphic 2:1. This means the pixels are twice as wide as they are tall.

  4. In the Pixel Aspect Ratio section, select Conform To, choose Square Pixels (1.0), and click OK. Take a look at the clip in the Source monitor.

    The clip looks almost square!

  5. Try another aspect ratio. Right-click the clip in the Project panel and choose Modify > Interpret Footage. Choose DVCPRO HD (1.5) from the adjacent menu. Then click OK, and take a look at the clip again in the Source monitor.

From now on, Premiere Pro will interpret the clip as having pixels that are 1.5 times wider than they are tall. This reshapes the picture to make it standard 16:9 widescreen.

Review questions

1. How do you change the List view column headings displayed in the Project panel?

2. How can you quickly filter the display of clips in the Project panel to make finding a clip easier?

3. How do you create a new bin?

4. If you change the name of a clip in the Project panel, does it change the name of the media file it links to on your hard drive?

5. What keyboard shortcuts can you use to play video and sound clips?

6. How can you change the way clip audio channels are interpreted?

Review answers

1. Open the Project panel menu, and choose Metadata Display. Select the checkbox for any column heading you want to appear. You can also right-click a heading and choose Metadata Display to access the settings.

2. Click the Search field, and start typing the name of the clip you are looking for. Premiere Pro hides clips that don’t match what you typed and reveals those that do.

3. There are several ways to create a new bin: by clicking the New Bin button at the bottom of the Project panel, by choosing File > New > Bin, by right-clicking a blank area in the Project panel and choosing New Bin, or by pressing Command+B (macOS) or Ctrl+B (Windows). You can also drag clips onto the New Bin button on the Project panel.

4. No. You can duplicate, rename, or delete clips in your Project panel, and nothing will happen to your original media files.

5. The spacebar starts and stops playback. J, K, and L can be used like a shuttle controller to play backward and forward, and the arrow keys can be used to move one frame backward or one frame forward. If you are using a trackpad, you may be able to position your pointer over the video in a monitor or over the Timeline panel and use gestures to scrub through the content.

6. In the Project panel, right-click the clip you want to change and choose Modify > Audio Channels. Choose the correct option (usually by selecting a preset) and click OK.