Editing is really all about putting pieces of a puzzle together so that they fit in the most optimal way. Sometimes the puzzle pieces are really easy to work with and fit together seamlessly; other times, it may seem like you’re forcing somewhat matching pieces together that don’t really fit and the puzzle only kind of looks right, but you’re out of time and need to move on.
Either way, you need to stay productive and efficient to get through any road blocks, so here are some things you can do in Adobe Premiere to keep yourself going through the editing process.
1. Organize from the Start
This post on time-saving tips, which includes basics like having the right folder structure and using color-coded labels, is a good place to start. Another step you can add is creating a .zip file that contains all your bins, a Premiere project, and any items like lower thirds, image files, and logos that all get used on every project.
This way, when you unzip the file and your folder is created containing all your assets and sub-folders, you can just drag that root folder over to your new project and have everything you need to get started, saving you time from having to create anything new.
2. Use Proxies
Waiting around to render and moving around large files can be a huge pain and can cause some serious computer lag, especially with older computers. You can mitigate this by using smaller (in file size, not resolution) “proxy” files (sometimes proxy is the codec), then replacing them later, after you’ve done your assembly cut.
This takes a little more time up front because you have to convert them before you start editing, but it saves you time in processing speed during editing. Simply use conversion software (I highly suggest the amazing and free MPEG Streamclip) to convert your files with a smaller bit rate, codec, or container, but with the same resolution as your final files.
Then, when you’ve got your assembly edit complete, just replace (or re-link) the smaller proxies with the originals. As long as you’ve kept the frame rate and aspect ratio the same, all will be good!
3. Conform Your Media
Premiere is capable of working with multiple frame rates, aspect ratios, and file types, but that doesn’t mean it’s ideal for your workflow. Much like huge files, it takes a decent amount of horsepower for your computer to recognize and optimize them for your timeline, so you can speed things up by keeping it all the same.
Again, you’ll need to do a little extra work up front, but this will ensure you don’t have any dropped frames, cropping, or black bars when you don’t want them. Losing time because you have to go back and fix clips is counterproductive, so keep your files how you want them before you start working.
4. Use Master Clip Effects
You can really speed up your workflow by putting your effects on one file all at once instead of copy/pasting the effects to each cut section. All you need to do is open the file in the source monitor or project panel and drag the effect there. It will automatically put everything you’ve done on every piece of that master clip used in the sequence.
5. DIY VO
A lot of times you’re working on the edit with the knowledge that a voiceover is coming later, so in the meantime, you can do the productive thing and record the VO yourself. This can help you immensely with timing your edit to the script properly, even if you don’t have the visuals ready. If you’re hiring the voice actor yourself, you can also listen to see what sounds best for inflection, intonation, and emotion, and tweak it as you see fit.
6. The Most Game-Changing Shortcut
Of course there are many keyboard shortcuts that can keep you moving steadily throughout your edit. However, the biggest game-changer for me was when I discovered that the “~” button makes the window your mouse is on go full screen; it changed my editing completely. Push ~ and you can quickly go in and out for a full-screen preview of your program panel. Push ~ and get a huge timeline so you can make any small edits you need to. Push ~ and get an entire screen of your files in the media browser for easy viewing!
7. Utilize Workspaces
Maybe you’re just color correcting and grading your footage. Maybe you’re in assembly mode. Maybe you’re just a two-up type of person. Maybe you just really like being able to see the audio levels right smack dab in the middle of your screen. (I don’t know why you would want to do that, but hey, it’s possible if you want it that way.) Premiere has built-in workspaces that can usually do the job, but if you like your panels arranged in a specific way, just drag them where you want them and save the workspace. Whatever works best for you is what’s important to keeping you productive.
8. Color Presets and Lumetri Looks
An amazing feature Adobe added to Premiere a while back is the ability to use the Lumetri color panel. The basic gist is that you can really cut down on a lot of switching back and forth between multiple programs for editing and color correcting/grading by utilizing this panel, since it’s built-in to Premiere. It’s a great tool, and an asset when you want to create a specific look for your project.
9. Save Your Export Presets and/or Use Adobe Media Encoder
Once you’re familiar with how to export your project, the next thing to do to enhance your workflow is to create some presets. If you always have to export your projects in the same way, it’s easiest to just select that preset from the dropdown menu and move on. Also, your deliverables may need to be at a certain bitrate or may need to be under a certain file size, or you may be editing a VR video — the point is, save your settings so you can always access them.
You can also export multiple files from multiple sequences, as well as convert files and create watch folders that automatically get encoded as you choose using Adobe Media Encoder. You can access the AME in your export window or open it on its own, but it can be a great tool to do some conversion work for you while you work on other parts of your edit.
10. Link Dynamically
This is another one of those “aha” moments I’ve had during editing — when I first used a dynamic link to create VFX for my video that played back in real time! You need the other programs to do it, of course, but it’s incredibly helpful. At the most basic level, you can create live text and do your lower third and titles, but you can also do rotoscoping, explosions, key framing, and more!
When you’re dynamic linking, you’re essentially eliminating the need to export your video just to see if your VFX work. I’m sure all of us at one time or another have had to redo a graphic because it’s 2-3 frames too long or short or doesn’t look quite right; dynamic linking can fix all that and keep you completely dialed in.
The one caveat to this workflow is that it takes a good amount of processing power to keep it working efficiently, so know your computer’s limits.
Bonus: Make a Comfortable Editing Space
This one doesn’t have anything to do with Premiere, but it’s still important. Your editing space is where you’re spending most of your time when you’re making a video. It should be organized, tidy, and comfortable for you to be in and around. If you don’t like your editing space, then you will procrastinate and take much longer than you want to on your projects. Use velcro or zip ties to keep cords nice and neat and don’t leave card readers or random hard drives sitting out if you’re not using them. Use labels if you have to and it’ll save you time when you’re looking for footage from the past.
Another thing is to take a break every now and then to just give your eyes and brain a break. If you’re on deadline, it’s tougher, but still try and take a step back. I’ve pulled all-nighters, but in hindsight, my project took all night because I was so tired. You can edit faster and more efficiently on more rest, so don’t overdo it if you’ve got the time.
What other time-saving tricks do you use to optimize your editing workflow? Tell us in the comments!