Twenty Premiere Pro CS6 Power Tips for FCP Editors

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This article is an updated and expanded re-write of its original version
found at 10 Premiere Pro Tips for FCP Editors on Premiumbeat.com.

These power tips are geared toward the FCP editor and will you get up to
speed quickly with the nuances and new features in Adobe Premiere Pro CS6!

Maybe you’ve come to Adobe Creative Suite Production Premium from Final Cut Pro or Avid Media Composer. If so, you’ll want to take advantage of the new features found in Adobe Premiere Pro CS6. I myself am a switcher and a former Final Cut editor. Professional editors want a powerful, reliable app that can handle various workflows, and those new to editing want an NLE app that is easy to use and intuitive. In this article I’ll share some power user tips to make you more successful and comfortable with Premiere Pro.

1. Customize your keyboard shortcuts

Premiere Pro includes keyboard presets for Final Cut Pro and Media Composer. This way you aren’t having to learn all new shortcuts, so you can edit just as quickly as you did in the other apps. You can also modify the keyboard presets for functions that are specific to Premiere Pro. For example, I often send clips to Adobe Audition to remove noise, so I’ve mapped the Shift + A keystroke to “Edit Clip into Adobe Audition.”

2.Set up your Preferences before you start working

Just like FCP, Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 assumes you are are going to tweak your preferences (default transition length, Autosave, etc.). You should set your preferences before you start working. Preferences I consider essential are Transition duration, Default scale to frame size, Auto Save, Memory & Trim.

3. Preview Area

By default the Preview Area is hidden. From the Project pull-down menu, select “Preview Area.” You will now see an icon of the clip and information about it. You need to have the Preview Area viewable for the next tip.

4. Poster Frame (Identifying Frame)

Select the Clip in the Project, then go up to the video window at the top of the Project window. Play the clip with the play button or drag the slider bar to a new frame, and click the little “still camera” icon. You now have changed the identifying frame for the thumbnail in the project.

5.Clip vs. Track Audio

If you want to apply an audio filter or an effect to a clip, use the audio effects found under the Effects tab. If you want apply an audio effect to a whole track, use the audio mixer. You can also use a submix in the mixer if you want to apply the same effect to multiple tracks.

6. Setting Project & Scratch Disk

When you launch Premiere Pro for the first time, you are greeted with a “New Project” dialog box. Here you choose where your Project and Scratch Disk are being saved. Premiere Pro defaults this to to user/documents/Adobe/Premiere Pro — your Scratch Disks and Preview files will follow the project by default. Be aware that if you are working with tapeless media, you’ll have to manually move your files from the memory card to your scratch disk, as tapeless files are considered imports and not captured media.

Personally, I save my media and projects to a folder on my media drive (it’s my fastest drive). I put my Premiere Pro Auto Saves and Previews / Renders on a separate drive, and back up the projects to Dropbox on a daily basis.  Whatever strategy you choose, please back up your project! If you forget or need to change your scratch disk after launching the project, go to Project > Project Settings > Scratch Disk to make modifications.

Post Haste is a free software application that will help you with this file organization.  It creates a folder structure for you, and you can modify the defaults and create your own templates.

An additional resource is this handy guide for disk setups on the Adobe forums.

7. Workspace Shortcuts

Creating workspace shortcuts will speed up your editing work.  My rule of thumb is to make a shortcut for anything I use on a daily basis.

Here’s a general guide to customizing shortcuts in Adobe Premiere Pro that’s worth a look.  Meanwhile, a few of the workspace shortcuts I use religiously are:

  • Control + U resets my current layout when it gets disorganized and messy
  • Command + 1 brings up the Audio Workspace
  • Command + 2 starts the Color Correction Workspace
  • Command + 3 shows the Editing Workspace

8. Bin Behavior

Double-Clicking on a bin will float it.  If you Option-click on the bin, it will open in a tab. Command-click will open in place (you can change this behavior in Preferences).

9. Adjustment Layers

This is one of my favorite new features in Premiere Pro CS6. Adjustment Layers are borrowed from Photoshop and After Effects, and are an invisible layer wherein you can apply effects. The advantage of this is, say I wanted to apply an a Tint effect to all the clips in my Sequence. Instead of applying it to each clip, I just apply it to the adjustment layer — and the tint is automagically applied to all clips below it.

10.Working with Clips in a Sequence

By default, when you drag a clip into a Sequence from the Source Window you are performing an Overwrite Edit.  If you’d like to perform an Insert Edit instead, which pushes other clips further on down the timeline, just hold the Command key (on a Mac), or the Control key (on a PC), when you drag the clip to the Sequence.

Often you will want to rearrange the order of clips within a Sequence.  Select the clip, drag the clip to a new location, then hold Command / Control + Option / Alt before you let go of the mouse (just make sure snapping is turned on). This is called a Swap Edit.

11. Maximize Window Shortcut

You can enlarge the window you’re working in by placing your cursor over the window you want to maximize and press the Tilde key (right below the Escape key). Press it again and it reverts back. I use this constantly!

12. Trimming Shortcuts

Select the nearest edit point by pressing T and use Control + T to cycle between the trim types (roll, ripple and standard edit). Be careful with the standard edit type (one sided red trim, as it will leave a gap).

I use Control + R for “Select Nearest Edit Point as Ripple Out” and Option + R for “Select Nearest Edit Point as Ripple In.” To trim heads and tails (from the AVID style of editing), I use [ for “ripple trim to previous edit” and ] for “ripple trim to next edit”. I find head and tails trim very fast, and that is becoming my default way to ripple edit (and you don’t need an edit point selected for these to work).

Extend edit now works more like it did in in FCP.  Select the nearest edit and move your play head and then press E — interestingly, if you press Control + T to get to a ripple edit and then press E, it ripples that side.

13. Render from “In and Out”

The work area defines what clips and effects are rendered. I prefer to use “n and out” instead, as this is a standard editing convention. This setting is in the Sequence Menu pull-down.  When you change this, it also changes the Sequence Menu settings to “in & out” instead of work area.

Here are two Premiere Pro CS6 render shortcuts that are worth memorizing and using!

  • Render In / Outs with Command + R
  • Render Effects with Option + R

14. Show Audio Time Units

This lets you work with audio in smaller increments, which is particularly helpful when removing a pop or other audio issue.  In the Timeline Menu pull-down, select “Show Audio Time Units”.

15. Clip Usage in Sequences

There’s a quick way to find out where and how many times a video clip has been used in a Premiere Pro sequence. If you select a clip in the project window, at the top of the window to the right of the thumbnail viewer, you will see details about the clip, including how many times it has been used in a sequence. If you click on the “clip usage” pulldown, select the instance of the clip you want to see and it will open that sequence if it is in multiple sequences.  This is a handy way to find clips.

16. Change Track Height

In FCP7 you could change the track height in the Timeline of video & audio tracks with the shortcut Shift+T or by clicking the Toggle Timeline icon.  In Premiere Pro CS6 you can assign a shortcut to increase or decrease the video track and audio track height. Unfortunately however it’s not a toggle.

You can use the old FCP shortcut of Shift + T, but it conflicts with the default “Reveal Nested Sequence.”  Instead, I use Command + H to increase track height and Option + Command + H to decrease track height.  Note: The tracks have to be expanded for this to work successfully.

17. Sync Lock

Un-check Sync Lock when you want a Premiere Pro CS6 track to stay in place. A common use for this is when you don’t want your music track to get pushed down when you perform an Insert Edit.  See the highlighted Sync Lock button in the screen grab to the right.

By default, Insert Edit will push all tracks down unless Sync Unlock is switched off, or if the track is locked.

18. Creating Markers

Use the keyboard shortcut M to create a marker in a Premiere Pro sequence You can see your markers in the Markers Panel, and change their length and add comments, which is very useful for adding editing or producers notes.

To create a marker on a clip, load the clip into the Source Window & press M — the Marker Panel will show sequence markers if the Sequence is selected, or clip markers if the Source is selected.

Selecting the Marker in the Marker Panel will take you to the marker in the clip or sequence. Work smarter, not harder!

19.Using Hover Scrub

Premiere Pro CS6 defaults to Icon view, instead of List view like previous versions.  Put your cursor over an icon, and the clip will play backwards or forwards as you drag your mouse. If you click on the clip, you you get a yellow bar showing the “in & out” points, and a playhead.

You can drag the playhead, or use the J, K or L shortcuts to play the clip. You can set in and out points with I and O.

The filmstrip icon indicates clip usage in the project and the waveform icon indicates that the clip has linked audio.

20. Enable / Disable Clip

I use the Enable / Disable clip toggle often on B-roll when I want to see what is on the track below. Generally It is a bad idea to turn off a clip and leave it off, as it will not render. For that reason I tend to turn it off and then turn it back on when I’m done. By default Premiere Pro does not have a shortcut for Enable Clip.

I suggest you create that shortcut, and I personally use Control + D for “Enable Clip” (the default in FCP7 is Control+B). You can select more than one clip by lassoing the clips you want.

Hopefully these tips give you a better idea of how to get around Adobe Premiere Pro CS6, and will save you time in your switch from FCP or Media Composer. The Online Help function is a recommended resource that you can access from the New Project window or within Premiere Pro via the Help Menu. And there’s even more assistance to be found in a free video class from Adobe’s Todd Kopriva that covers the all of the new features in Premiere Pro CS 6. It’s located at http://www.video2brain.com/en/premiere-pro-new-features — enjoy!

About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Ga, Clay Asbury is an Adobe Certified Instructor for Premiere Pro and After Effects, who balances training with freelance videography/editing. Clay has been working in education and post production for 15 years. He started with Avid Media Composer and Media 100 in the ’90’s, before working with FCP from version 1 to version 7. He wrote the Trimming Chapter for the book Edit Well: Final Cut Studio Techniques from the Pros, edited by Larry Jordan.

His background is photography, which he continues to explore along with filmmaking with his Canon 5D Mk. II. Clay’s site Post Tips is a free online resource of tips for video editing and motion graphics, covering Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After effects, and much more.


FTC 16 CFR 255 Disclaimer: This article is sponsored by Adobe. Adobe reviewed and approved the contents of this article prior to its publication on DV Info Net. The author was commissioned by and received remuneration directly from DV Info Net in exchange for providing this article, which is an updated and expanded re-write of its original version found at 10 Premiere Pro Tips for FCP Editors on Premiumbeat.com.

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