Premiere Pro CS5 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

When to cut


Premiere Pro CS5 Essential Training

with Chad Perkins

Video: When to cut

One of the questions you'll probably ask yourself most often is, when should I cut? And that is the constant question of the editor. We're going to be using some old movies here to help us figure out when we should cut. One of the times that we should not cut is when we want to show a period of transition from one period of time or space to another. For example, in this clip from "Night of the Living Dead" this guy is building these barricades on the doors and windows to secure himself and his friends from zombies.
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  1. 4m 1s
    1. Welcome
    2. What is Premiere Pro CS5?
      1m 41s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 25s
  2. 16m 44s
    1. The Premiere Pro workflow
      2m 21s
    2. Adding footage to the Timeline
      2m 19s
    3. Understanding timecode
      3m 3s
    4. Making basic edits
      5m 15s
    5. Getting familiar with the interface
      3m 46s
  3. 21m 59s
    1. Setting up a new project
      3m 48s
    2. Creating a new sequence
      5m 30s
    3. Capturing and ingesting footage
      2m 51s
    4. Importing files
      5m 23s
    5. Sorting and organizing clips
      4m 27s
  4. 33m 19s
    1. Making a rough cut
      4m 0s
    2. Making preliminary edits
      4m 55s
    3. Creating overlay and insert edits
      4m 16s
    4. Using video layers to add B-roll
      3m 47s
    5. Using ripple edits and ripple delete
      3m 1s
    6. Performing slip edits
      2m 54s
    7. Using the Razor tool
      3m 51s
    8. Moving edit points
      3m 47s
    9. Navigating efficiently in the Timeline
      2m 48s
  5. 28m 45s
    1. The job of an editor
      2m 59s
    2. When to cut
      5m 54s
    3. Avoiding bad edits
      6m 31s
    4. The pacing of edits
      3m 47s
    5. Using establishing shots
      2m 44s
    6. Using emotional cutaways
      2m 1s
    7. Fixing problems with cutaways
      2m 48s
    8. Matching action
      2m 1s
  6. 21m 38s
    1. Using markers
      3m 31s
    2. Replacing clips
      2m 36s
    3. Exporting a still frame
      1m 51s
    4. Creating alternate cuts
      1m 25s
    5. Rearranging clips in the Timeline
      2m 15s
    6. Targeting tracks
      2m 32s
    7. Disconnecting audio and video
      5m 0s
    8. Reconnecting offline media
      2m 28s
  7. 9m 46s
    1. Adjusting the rubber band
      3m 13s
    2. Adjusting clip position
      1m 21s
    3. Moving the anchor point
      2m 50s
    4. Adjusting clip size and rotation
      2m 22s
  8. 8m 15s
    1. Changing the speed of a clip
      1m 58s
    2. Using the Rate Stretch tool
      1m 57s
    3. Playing a clip backward
      4m 20s
  9. 10m 26s
    1. Understanding pixel aspect ratio
      5m 15s
    2. Understanding frame rates
      2m 15s
    3. About HD standards
      2m 56s
  10. 10m 32s
    1. Using layered Photoshop files
      2m 31s
    2. Animating clip position
      3m 33s
    3. Fading layers in and out
      4m 28s
  11. 12m 40s
    1. Applying transitions
      6m 2s
    2. Using transitions effectively
      4m 41s
    3. Setting up the default transition
      1m 57s
  12. 38m 31s
    1. The importance of ambient audio
      6m 35s
    2. Cutting video to music
      7m 38s
    3. Changing audio volume over time
      9m 55s
    4. Fixing audio problems
      9m 57s
    5. Censoring audio
      4m 26s
  13. 16m 25s
    1. Creating censored video
      5m 22s
    2. Creating a lens flare
      2m 20s
    3. Creating a logo bug
      3m 27s
    4. Creating background textures
      5m 16s
  14. 13m 23s
    1. Intro to compositing
      1m 11s
    2. Removing a green screen background
      9m 14s
    3. Compositing with blend modes
      2m 58s
  15. 22m 37s
    1. Adjusting white balance
      2m 24s
    2. Increasing contrast
      3m 5s
    3. Adjusting luminance
      4m 30s
    4. Creating cinematic color
      5m 21s
    5. Creating a vignette
      3m 12s
    6. Creating a day-for-night shot
      4m 5s
  16. 16m 5s
    1. Creating titles
      4m 55s
    2. Creating a lower third
      9m 12s
    3. Animating rolling credits
      1m 58s
  17. 14m 13s
    1. Exporting sequences from Premiere
      3m 57s
    2. Exporting with the Adobe Media Encoder
      2m 13s
    3. The most common formats and codecs
      4m 42s
    4. Exporting portions of a sequence
      1m 54s
    5. Rendering letterboxed footage
      1m 27s
  18. 6m 46s
    1. Examining the other apps that come with Premiere
      4m 25s
    2. Working with Final Cut Pro
      2m 21s
  19. 20s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course Premiere Pro CS5 Essential Training
5h 6m Beginner Apr 30, 2010

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In Premiere Pro CS5 Essential Training, author Chad Perkins shows not only how to edit video with Premiere Pro, but he also explains how to use video to tell compelling stories. This course covers the Premiere Pro workflow from a high level, providing a background on how projects go from start to finish before diving into basic clip adjustments, such as color correcting scenes for more dramatic impact, applying transitions effectively, and slowing down and speeding up clip playback. The course includes creative techniques, such as making titles and removing a green screen background from a shot. Exercise files are included with the course.

Topics include:
  • Adding footage to the Timeline
  • Creating dynamically linked content
  • Making overlay and insert edits
  • Moving edit points
  • Playing a clip backwards
  • Understanding pixel aspect ratio and frame rate
  • Applying motion effects
  • Cutting video to music
  • Compositing with green screen and blend modes
  • Correcting color
  • Creating titles and lower thirds
  • Exporting sequences
Premiere Pro
Chad Perkins

When to cut

One of the questions you'll probably ask yourself most often is, when should I cut? And that is the constant question of the editor. We're going to be using some old movies here to help us figure out when we should cut. One of the times that we should not cut is when we want to show a period of transition from one period of time or space to another. For example, in this clip from "Night of the Living Dead" this guy is building these barricades on the doors and windows to secure himself and his friends from zombies.

And so he is just starting to put up the first board here, and that's not a good cinema. We don't want to sit here and watch him put up boards around the windows and doors, just constantly throughout the whole house. And so there is a transition here, there is a fade, a cross dissolve, as we'll talk about later in the transitions chapter. Cross dissolve from when he starts to when he finishes. Thankfully George A. Romero who directed this picture knew that it's not good cinema to watch this guy go through a Home Depot project, so now we're just seeing the final results. Hence a transition is used.

Here's another time where a transition was used. In "Plan 9 from Outer Space," noted by many to be the worst movie ever made, we have this woman here who is apparently killing someone at night, and then as we go to the next scene, which is the house during the day, there is again this fade to black and a fade from black. So again, when we are moving in time or space for great distances, then we use transitions as opposed to a cut. So, that is one thing. A cut is when we go straight from one clip to the next.

Now we also cut to get rid of bad stuff. If we go to the "get rid of bad stuff" comp, you'll see what I'm talking about. There is another clip from "Plan 9 from Outer Space." Pilots are sitting here in an airplane minding their own business, having conversation. All of a sudden there is a UFO that flies by and it knocks them for a loop. Now if you watch this pilot on the right, long after the UFO does a driveby, and long after the light is gone, and even long after the pilot on the left has come to his senses again, this guy is still freaking out over here on the right-hand side.

So let's watch that. (Pilot: American Flight A12 requesting?) (Whirrrrr.) So, now it's over and it's time for them to be still and he keeps going. (Clack clack clack) (laughing) And so, we go from that cut from this scene to seeing the UFO, which is actually just kind of sitting there, not really moving. But it was a pretty traumatic experience apparently. And what the editor should have done is cut it right here, because basically we want to show the pilots messed up, and then he looks over at the UFO and then we go to the UFO.

There's really no reason to have this extra jolt in there. It really takes you away from the movie, because now you're wandering why this guy is continually rocking back and forth even after the UFO episode is done. So, that is your job as an editor, to look at pieces of footage, even if the director has shot it, even if he wants to keep it in there, your job is to look at the story and say, "you know what, this little piece is not necessary and we need to remove it." Now, another reason that we cut is for the rhythm of edit. So we'll talk about pacing a little bit later in this chapter, but here's the good example of how the rhythm of the edit can be really off.

In this clip, I think it's from "Hercules Conquers the Moon Men," there is this giant mountain that is eating people. I didn't write it, but that's what the story is,. The mountain is eating people, and this light is the mountain that's eating people. And then we cut from the mountain that's eating people, that has just taken sacrifice of human life, and then we go to a throne room. And when we go to a throne room, these people are kind of already talking, so we're here with the mountain, apparently there's like a drawbridge that's closing or something, and then we cut to the throne room. These people were already talking and it's just very jarring to have this huge difference in time and space and be already kind of in the middle of a conversation.

So, let's play this edit and see what I'm talking about here. It actually starts a little bit later. We don't need to watch this whole mountain thing. (Music playing.) (Male speaker: Queen Samara, your?) So, again we have this mountain thing, there is treacherous music, and then we're right in the middle of a conversation. (Music playing.) (Male speaker: Queen Samara?) We really didn't have a breath to take that in. And so, again, as an editor it's your job to give it that breath. There could have been a dissolve or they could have more footage to show this guy walking in to the room. Anything to make this kind of drawn out a little bit more.

We could have taken the music cues or we would have allowed the music to fade out a little bit before making that cut. Anything that we could do to make it so that this scene kind of fades away and we have a chance to catch our breath before we start listening to dialogue. Now, it's also an editor's job to watch for storytelling issues and continuity. So, as we have here again, this clip from "Plan 9 from Outer Space," as I've showed you before in this movie, we have Vampira going to kill some people here. And the people that she's killing-- if we back up a little bit further, here's her coming into the scene here-- are apparently these guys who are somewhere where it's daytime, and then they see her and she is somewhere where it's apparently night, and it cuts back to them being day.

This is what referred to as a continuity issue. This is probably one of the worst you'll ever find, but still it does a good job to illustrate the issue of continuity. Oftentimes, directors will not realize that an actor will have their watch on maybe their left-hand in one take, and then they will go out to lunch and take off the watch or whatever piece of clothing they are using, and they will put the watch on the other wrist. So, if at all possible, it's your job to watch for those things and to fix them so they don't take people out of the story. So hopefully these examples will make a little bit more clear about when we ought to cut.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Premiere Pro CS5 Essential Training .

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Q: When attempting to open the project exercise files into Premiere Pro CS5, an error message appears: 
This project contained a sequence that could not be opened. No sequence preview preset file codec could be associated with this sequence type. 
What could be causing the error, and how can the files be opened?
A: There are a few possible explanations. 

First, if the projects are not importing correctly, the error could be with the codecs being used on a particular machine. Check to make sure the Video Previews codec setting matches the file type being used.

Another possible issue could stem from using the trial version of Premiere CS5. Some codecs for encoding MPEG formats are available only with the full version of Premiere CS5. 

Additionally, the "Video Previews" codec setting for the Custom Sequence Presets could cause the issue if it is defaulting to “I-Frame Only MPEG”. Changing the setting to Microsoft AVI might fix the problem.

Lastly, if the projects are not importing into Premiere, try importing the video footage by itself, rather than the entire project file.
Q: How does one perform internal edits within a piece of video in Adobe Premiere? For example, if I have a single clip of video, comprised of multiple segments strung together, how would I go about removing gaps and/or cleaning up each segment and then assembling the clips in a desired order? Most tutorials emphasize laying down multiple clips on the Sceneline or Timeline, but not editing one clip of video.
A: To remove footage from a single video clip:
  • Drag the Current Time Indicator (CTI) to the first frame of the segment to be deleted, click the Split Clip button in the Monitor panel, drag the CTI to the last frame of the segment to be deleted, and then click the Split Clip button again.
  • Delete the segment by clicking on the clip and either choosing Edit > Delete And Close Gap, or pressing the Delete or Backspace key. That will remove the segment and the rest of the projectwill slide over to the left to fill the gap.
Q: I can't view the exercise files.
A: Most of the video clips in the training were encoded using H.264. If you are on a PC, you may need to download the latest version of the free
QuickTime player from Be sure to install QuickTime with your Adobe applications closed. QuickTime installs a series of codecs on your
machine, and many Adobe apps require QuickTime components to function properly.
Q: Why are many of the video files H.264 if some users must download additional components to view them?
A: This is one of the most common video formats in the world right now, certainly for distribution. This is because it is currently the most optimal
way to provide high quality video at the low files sizes that we need to be able to distribute these assets online. Even though it may require an extra
download for some users, this is the best way to be able to get you the highest quality exercise files. There isn't another video standard that is
cross platform that is free and that works as well as H.264.
Q: What is the most effective way to import a JPEG into Premiere Pro (i.e. best quality resolution, best playback speed)? When I import a photo as a JPEG and add it to a sequence, only a very small part of my photo is shown, because of the high resolution of these photos. Should they be resized in Photoshop first? Will changing it using effects provide the quality I am looking for?
A: Images can be scaled down using the Scale Transform in the Effect Controls panel as explained in the training. You can also scale down the images in Photoshop to match the size of your sequence in Premiere. But I prefer to use the Scale Transform as it gives me more flexibility and allows me to "zoom in" (aka scale up) photos without loss in quality. You'll probably want to make sure that the proportions of the image match the sequence though.
Q: Does Premiere Pro offer Z-axis editing like After Effects?
A: Premiere Pro does not offer 3D as After Effects does, but you can use the Basic 3D effect in Premiere to simulate that environment.
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