Motion: Mastering Adobe Premiere 5

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Some premieres are more successful than others. Just ask the producers of Waterworld-and of Adobe Premiere 5.0. The long-awaited upgrade of this veteran video-editing program packs professional-level features and a greatly enhanced interface (see Reviews, September 1998 ). But in a world of innumerable system configurations and dozens of different video-capture cards, Premiere 5.0 didn't always play to rave reviews. The program's debut was marred by some bugs and performance problems-and by incompatibilities with many third-party video-capture cards (see "Surviving Premiere's Flaws"). Adobe addressed some of Premiere 5.0's problems with the 5.1 update ( ), but we'll help you navigate through the sticky points that remain.

Despite its flaws, Premiere is still a video-editing powerhouse. To take full advantage of its considerable capabilities, make it a point to learn and apply Premiere's shortcuts and timesaving features. Version 5.0 sports more of these goodies than did earlier versions, and you'll find guides to the best of them in "Taking Charge of the Monitor Window" and "Timeline Tricks." Unless otherwise noted, all processes apply to both the Mac and Windows versions of Premiere. Speaking of which . . .

Now that Premiere 5.1 and QuickTime 3 are available for the Macintosh OS and Windows alike, it's easier than ever to set up a multiplatform editing shop. You can move Premiere 5.1 projects between platforms, but to ensure a smooth journey, keep the following tips in mind.

File Carefully

It's a good idea to stash all the files a given project requires in a single folder. This makes it easier to move the project's assets between platforms. When you open the project on the destination platform, Premiere will display an Open dialog box and ask where the project's assets are located. Navigate your way to the folder containing the first file that Premiere is looking for, and then click on OK. Because you put all the files in the same place, Premiere will automatically locate the rest.

It's also a good idea to name files with cross-platform compatibility in mind. Specifically, be sure your Mac projects end with the .ppj file extension-that's how the Windows version of Premiere identifies project files. And if your network software truncates long file names, you might want to stick with the old-fashioned eight-by-three naming convention: a maximum of eight characters in a file name, with a three-character extension.

Kill the Previews

Remove preview files before transferring a project from one platform to another. To delete all preview files, press and hold command-option-shift (Ctrl-Alt-Shift on PC keyboards). Next, move your pointer to the work-area bar on the Timeline window. When the mouse pointer turns into a small trash icon, click the mouse. Then save your project and send it packing to the other platform.

Use the Right Codec

For both your source clips and your project, be sure to choose a compression scheme that's available on both platforms. Cross-platform codecs include Component Video, Sorenson Video, and Cinepak, all of which are available in QuickTime 3 Pro.

It's too bad that Premiere 5.0 shipped with some bugs and that some third-party capture-card vendors have dragged their feet in releasing Premiere 5-compatible drivers. But while Premiere 5.0 may have been heckled at its debut, it's still a powerful player with a bright future. And that's more than the producers of Waterworld can say.

January 1999 page: 116

The Monitor window is a cornerstone of Premiere 5's enhanced user interface. Premiere's new look-and-feel mimics that of high-end video-editing workstations, thanks in large part to the program's side-by-side Source and Program views; the former harbors individual clips, while the latter houses your whole project. You can now quickly assemble projects, using primarily the Monitor window and its battery of buttons.

Instant Inserts

In previous versions, inserting one clip in the middle of another was a multistep process. In Premiere 5, it takes just a couple of clicks: with the new clip visible in the Source view of the Monitor window, position the Timeline window's edit line (see A in "Timeline Tricks") where you want the insertion and then click on the Monitor window's Insert button. Premiere 5 splits the clip that the edit line bisects and inserts the new clip at that location.

Quick Cutaways

When you use the Insert button, Premiere 5 pushes anything to the right of the edit line forward in time, extending the length of your project. But if the clip you're inserting is a two-second cutaway–say, a shot of an interviewer nodding her head in agreement to an answer–you'd want the cutaway to replace two seconds' worth of the clip to the right of the edit line. In cases like this, add the new clip by clicking on the Overlay button instead of the Insert button.

All the Trimmings

When you need an extra measure of editing precision, switch the Monitor window into trimming mode by pressing command-T (Ctrl-T on PC keyboards). In trimming mode you can fine-tune cuts down to the single-frame level.

Quick Editing

The Monitor window makes fast edits easy. Rather than drag a clip to the Timeline window, simply use the buttons for setting the clip's in and out points (H and G, respectively) and then drag the clip from the Source view (A) to the Program view (B).

Opening Clips in Separate Windows

If you prefer to open a clip in its own window as you could in earlier versions of Premiere, press option (Mac) or Alt (PC) while double-clicking on a clip in the Project or Timeline window. Clicking on the collapse button separates the controllers from the playback windows, enabling you to position each separately.

TIP If you have an NTSC monitor connected to your computer, you can instantly move the Source and Program images to the NTSC monitor by pressing command (Mac) or Ctrl (PC) while clicking on either image.

TIP If you collapse the Monitor window, you can quickly resize the Source and Program images by shift-clicking on either image.

Taking Shortcuts

Each of the Monitor window's buttons has a handy keyboard shortcut: Overlay, comma; Insert, period; Set clip's out point, O; Set clip's in point, I.

TIP Here are some undocumented keyboard shortcuts for the Monitor window's transport controls: press L to play a clip, K to stop playback, and J to play in reverse.

If you're using Premiere 5, you may fall victim to one or more of the following "issues." Here are some ways to get around them.

Frequent Crashes upon Launch

This could be caused by a corrupted font; try removing fonts until you isolate the flawed one.

Frequent Crashes as You Work

There's a good chance that your video-capture card isn't compatible with Premiere 5. Adobe changed Premiere's underlying architecture in ways that require capture-card developers to create new versions of their drivers. The rule is simple: if Adobe hasn't certified your capture hardware as being Premiere 5-compatible, don't upgrade to Premiere 5. How do you determine whether your capture hardware is Premiere 5-compatible? Check with its developer or check the compatibility matrices on Adobe's Web site at

Frames Dropped during Capture

To avoid dropping video frames during captures, ensure that your Mac's CPU is devoting all its attention to Premiere. Disable AppleTalk, choose LocalTalk in the Network control panel, and insert media (floppies, CD-ROMs, Zip cartridges) in all of your removable-media drives. Also, disable any extensions that talk to the CPU extensively; examples are screen savers and calendar or timer extensions. And follow the usual rules of video capturing: capture to your fastest hard drive, and defragment that drive before capturing.

Performance Is Slow as Molasses

Premiere 5, particularly the Mac version, is no speed demon. Some operations, such as performing a ripple delete or inserting a clip near the beginning of a large project, are downright plodding. The 5.1 update addressed a few performance problems, but you can further ensure that Premiere 5 is running at top speed by using the Finder's Get Info command to allocate at least 30MB to 40MB of memory to Premiere. And that's real RAM–always turn off virtual memory before running the Mac version of Premiere. You can allocate more than 40MB if you like, but be sure that at least 3MB remain free for the Mac OS and QuickTime.

The Timeline window is the best place to get a big-picture overview of a project and to apply filters, transitions, and other effects. Here are some timeline tips.

Fast Filter Copy and Paste

Say you've applied a few filters and special clip settings to one clip and you'd like to apply them to others. In the Timeline window, select the clip containing the effects and choose Copy. Then select the clip to which you want to apply the settings and choose Paste Custom from the Edit menu. In the Paste Custom Settings dialog box (at left), click on the Settings button and then check or uncheck attributes as appropriate.

Quick Timeline Navigation

Use Premiere 5's Navigator palette to quickly move around within the Timeline window and to change the window's time scale. The edit line (A) is Premiere's equivalent of a blinking cursor in a word-processing program. To move the edit line, press shift and then drag it. To change the time scale, use this slider (B). Drag it to the left to reduce the timeline and see a more bird's eye view, and drag it right to zoom in and view finer increments of time.

Toggling Snap to Edges

The Timeline window's snap-to-edges feature makes positioning clips easier by automatically snapping the clip you're dragging to the nearest clip, transition, or marker–much like the snap-to-guides feature that publishing programs provide. If you'd prefer to disengage the snap-to feature when moving a given clip, hold down the shift key while dragging the clip.

Faster Timeline Displays

For faster scrolling, configure the Timeline window to display only clips' file names rather than thumbnail frames, and turn off the display of audio waveforms. To do both, use the Timeline Window Options dialog box, which you can display by control-clicking within the Timeline window. In the Track Format section, click on the lowest radio button, next to Filename, and uncheck Show Audio Waveforms.

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