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Adobe MAX

Adobe MAX: Creating Your First Video with Premiere Pro

You don’t have to be an expert to attend Adobe MAX, the conference that brings Adobe users, trainers, and executives together to learn and to celebrate creativity. If you’re not careful, however, you might leave as one.

One session that could have made this happen to you at this year’s Adobe MAX, held last month in Las Vegas, was “Getting Started with Video in Creative Cloud” by Jeff I. Greenberg and Abba Shapiro. The instructors aimed the class at people entirely new to video and Adobe’s editing software Premiere Pro. Even though I have edited some short films before, I decided to attend, thinking I might pick up some pointers. I wasn’t disappointed.

The instructors sent out an advance survey to people who had pre-registered to assess the students’ knowledge level and experience. This is an excellent idea that should be implemented by more instructors.

Greenberg and Shapiro made two passes through the video creation process, first to familiarize students with the software, then to provide helpful techniques.

Every Editing Job Ever

The instructors emphasized that every editing job follows the same steps: import, edit, trim, audio, color, titles, and output. This helps organize your thinking and your process.

They then reviewed the six windows you see in Premiere Pro and demonstrated the general order of work.

In the lower left of the Premier Pro screen you’ll find the Project Panel. This is the screen where you bring in the resources – video clips, music, graphics – that will make up your project.

Adobe MAX
The workflow for video follows this pattern in Premiere Pro
Above the Project Panel in the upper left you’ll find the Source Panel. This is where you set in and out points for your clips and prepare other elements of the project such as sound and special effects.

In the lower right, you’ll find the Timeline, where you drag and drop and stretch and cut video, music, and graphics. To the left of the Timeline is your tool box for working with the Timeline. To the right is an audio meter for monitoring sound.

Finally, in the upper right, you’ll find the Program Panel for viewing your output.

Get Organized and Get In

Greenberg and Shapiro provided a ton of recommendations, suggestions, and mnemonics. The ones I found most helpful follow.

They advised that before you even think about editing, and before you start shooting, you should buy a tripod and quality microphones. Always shoot with a tripod and get one with a fluid head. If you have a tripod without a fluid head, buy one for it.

Adobe MAX
A sample directory structure for video projects
OK, now you have high-quality video and sound. Now you can start editing.

First, get organized. Premiere Pro doesn’t bring all your media into a common file like a Photoshop PSD. Instead, it tracks locations of assets on the disk. If you start rearranging after you’ve started your project, Premiere Pro will not be able to find things. The instructors recommended the file structure illustrated here to avoid headaches and hassles.

They also recommended a free software product, Post Haste, available for Windows and Mac, that allows you to create reusable templates for a variety of creative projects.

Once you’re organized, they suggested bringing in your media using the Media Browser located in the Project Panel. This produces a more manageable, understandable environment than using Import.

Editing, Color, and Titles

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Just a few of the many shortcut keys in Premiere Pro

Greenberg and Shapiro told attendees that “you are smarter than you know” because many of the shortcut keys in Premiere Pro are the same as in Photoshop and other Adobe products. If you’re not sure about a shortcut key, go with your gut.

While editing, they suggested, you become more productive the more you can keep your hands on the keyboard and not grab for the mouse or even the cursor keys. Premiere Pro supports classic navigation keys such as “I-O-J-K-L” which go back to pre-mouse UNIX days.

Nearly every tool you’ll want to use is available with a single keystroke. If you do need to go to the menu, note the shortcut keys displayed to the right of the options. If you point the mouse at a tool, pop-up help will show you the shortcut. (I keep a printed cheat sheet on my desk.)

A crucial key to know is the accent grave (`), which will toggle full-screen on and off for any window. If you combine it with the control key, it puts your Program Panel into theater mode.

Adobe MAX
Premiere Pro CC 2018 makes working with titles and graphics much easier

Color correction has been simplified by adapting tools from other Adobe products. The new basic correction tool is “Lightroom-esque.” Still photographers moving to video should now feel at home.

Titles are now easier to do with the Essential Graphics panel which functions much like a word processor.

For output, Premiere Pro offers formats and presets. You need to know where you want your video to be seen. Greenberg and Shapiro pointed to H264 as the most common format. Premiere Pro includes presets for everything from 4K, to Facebook, to mobile devices, and YouTube.

Learning More

When you open the new Premiere Pro CC 2018 you see a demonstration video and several options for learning. Adobe provides more in-app training than ever before.

You don’t have to attend Adobe MAX to learn from Greenberg and Shapiro. Greenberg has over a dozen books on video available from the usual suspects, and has online classes at Lynda.com. Classes from Shapiro, an Adobe Master Trainer, can be found at CREATIVELIVE.COM.

Now you’re ready. Start that video.

About Leo Sopicki

Writer, photographer, graphic artist and technologist. I focus my creative efforts on celebrating the American virtues of self-reliance, individual initiative, volunteerism, tolerance and a healthy suspicion of power and authority.

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