A Really Easy Guide to Using Adobe Premiere Pro Video Editing Software

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If you’re going into journalism, chances are you’re going to have to learn to shoot and edit digital video. Shooting raw footage isn’t too difficult, and often can be done on something as straightforward as a smartphone.

However, news outlets will usually want reporters to use a professional editing program in order to give such videos a professional look. Probably the two most widely used programs are Apple’s Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro. Both programs are used by professional videographers and as such offer a lot of options, which can make them tricky to master.

But you don’t have to be the next Martin Scorsese in order to produce a 90-second video news report. If you can learn to trim clips, add titles and combine voiceover narration with b-roll, you’ll be most of the way there.

So here’s a bare-bones guide to using Adobe Premiere Pro, one that focuses just on the things you’ll need to know. (Note: there are lots of places on the web where you can find detailed instructions on how to use the program’s more advanced functions.)

Open the Program, Import Files

Open the program and click “new project.”

Give the project a name and click “OK.”

The next window will show “sequence one.” Click “OK” again.

Go to “file” at the top menu and click “import” on the drop-down menu.

Navigate to the video and audio files you want to use for your project. Click on the ones you want and click “open.” Use the control key to click on all the files at once.

The files you imported should be in the square in the lower left-hand corner of your screen. On the bottom right you’ll see the timeline that you will use to edit your video. At the top left is a screen you can use to watch the original files. At the top right is a screen that shows what’s on your editing timeline.

Drag the clips you want to use over to your timeline. You will see that there are numbered channels for both video and audio. You can drag your first clip into the “video one” and “audio one” channels. Drag your second clip into the “video two” and “audio two” channels and so on. These can be rearranged later.

Once your clips are in the timeline, you can watch what you have by clicking the play button under the timeline monitor or by dragging the sliding red stick across the clips to pinpoint the area you want to edit.

Edit Clips

The simplest way to edit a clip is to hit “C” on your keyboard (for cut). When you do that your cursor turns into a razor blade. Once that happens, click on the starting point of the clip you want to cut, then click again at the endpoint of the section you want to cut. Then hit “V” on your keyboard to revert back to your selection tool. Click on the section of the clip that you’ve just cut with the razor blade, and hit “delete.” Now there will be a space on the timeline where the deleted clip was, so drag the clips together on the timeline, making sure that your cursor is in selection mode instead of cut mode.

Create Titles

Navigate to the part of your clip where you want your title to be. Click “title” in the top menu and then click “new title” and “default still.” You will get a pop-up screen that gives the title a number. Click “OK.” A pop-up box will show your video clip. Click the area (within the defined boxes) where you want your title to go. Generally speaking, if you are identifying a person who is speaking in your video, the title with their name should go at the bottom of the screen. Click that area and a blinking box will appear. You can type the name or the title in that box, then adjust the size and the style of the font you want to use. Use conventional, easy-to-read fonts for your titles. Avoid weird fonts.

Once the title looks the way you want it to, close the title box and the title should appear in the lower left-hand box that contains the rest of your clips. You can now drag your title over to the timeline and position it where you want it to go. If you want the title to be superimposed over the video clip, then it needs to go into its own channel. So if your main video is in channel 1, the title should go into channel two. Once your title is in your editing timeline, you can shorten it or lengthen it by dragging it from the side.

Overlap Video Clips

Sometimes you will want to have video clips overlap one another. For instance, if you have a long clip of someone being interviewed, you may want to overlap part of that interview with some B-roll (background footage). So if your interview footage is in  video channel 1, place your b-roll in video channel 2 at the part of the interview you want to overlap. Now when you watch the clip you will see the video switch from the person being interviewed to the B-roll footage.

Note: when you have two video clips overlapping one another, you may have to adjust your audio levels (see below) so that the sound from your b-roll doesn’t overwhelm the sound of your interview.

Adjust Audio Levels

To adjust the volume of the audio on your clips, click the arrow just to the left of where it says “audio 1,” “audio 2,” and so on. When you click that arrow the audio track will expand to reveal the soundwaves within that track. In the middle of the soundwave you will see a yellow bar running through the middle of the clip. Click on that bar and drag it up to make the audio louder, or down to make it quieter.

Delete Audio From a Video Clip

If you want to delete the audio from a video clip, right-click the clip, then click “unlink” on the menu that pops up. This will separate the audio and video tracks of that clip. Then click on the audio clip and hit “delete.” The audio will be deleted from that clip.

Export Your Completed Video

Go to “file” at the top menu, then click “export” and “media.” Click the “export” button on the lower right corner of the pop-up box, and the program will begin to encode your video. This may take several minutes, depending on the length of your video. But once this process is complete, your video is done and ready to upload.


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