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Tips for Non-Linear Editing

particularly Adobe Premiere 6 & 6.5

Welcome to the Zenvideo "Editing Tips" page. The information presented here is intended to help video editors with project management and other useful bits and pieces. Although the info relates mainly to Adobe Premiere, most of it also applies to other similar NLE software. We assume that you already have an understanding of using Microsoft Windows to create, move and delete files or folders and that you have also read all the instruction books or user manuals that came with your editing system ;-).

Setting Up Projects

Video projects usually contain at least three elements: Video, Audio and Titles, and some have Stills or Music tracks. Some of these elements can be broken down into further categories such as voice-overs, maps, animations, etc. NLE software has bins or libraries that can be created to help you organise your "media content" whilst editing. One of the things that confuses people most is that the information presented in the edit software doesn't tell you what's actually stored where on your computer's hard disk drives.

Here's what we would recommend before you start, in order to make things a little easier. Using Windows Explorer, create a directory or folder on your video drive for each new project. Within that folder create separate folders for each element of your project and give them meaningful names, e.g. Video, Music, Scans, Anims.

Make a set of bins within your project that mirror the folder names on your video drive. Then when you are either capturing, recording or preparing data for use in your video projects, use these folders (and bins) to store the media content. If you adopt this approach for each of your projects you should find them much easier to maintain. When a project is finished, provided you don't need the data for anything else, you can simply delete the main folder.

Adobe Premiere creates temporary folders for previews or exporting rendered sequences. Often these get left behind when you delete a project and take up disk space. It makes sense to set the Preferences (Scratch Disks->Device Control) within Premiere to place video/audio previews in the project folder itself (same as project). That way the previews are also erased when the project folder is deleted from the hard disk.

Previews while Trimming

This tip is for Adobe Premiere. When trimming clips on the timeline, can you see the last frame of the In or Out point updating in the timeline preview window? If you can't then right click on the Timeline window and enable "Edge View".

Shortcut Keys

Most Windows software has some kind of shortcut keys that perform a function you would otherwise use the mouse for. Ctrl + S is one of the most common and is the shortcut for "Save". However, Adobe Premiere has loads of shortcut keys for all sorts of functions. You may think that keyboard shortcuts are just too complicated - but they are by far the best way to increase your productivity.

You really do get used to the shortcut keys quickly. If you make the effort to start using just a few of them you'll soon be hooked and you will wonder how you managed without them. When you have a lot of footage to get through in a short space of time then using these shortcut keys will make a major contribution to increasing your work-rate.

Here is our list of useful Premiere Shortcuts for High Speed Editing.

J - Play backwards (press again to play faster)
K - Pause
L - Play forwards (press again to play faster)
Left Arrow - Move one frame backwards (hold down shift for 5 frames backward)
Right Arrow - Move one frame forwards (hold down shift for 5 frames forward)
V - Selection tool
N - Mark Work Area tool
C - Razor Tool
I - Mark In Point
O - Mark Out Point
. (full stop) - Insert Clip at Edit Line
, (comma) - Overlay Clip at Edit Line
Ctrl + D - Apply Default Transition

Converting 4:3 Video Graphics & Images for 16:9

In order to use graphics or images that where originally generated for 4:3 video you need to crop/stretch the image (and lose quality) or put up with edge borders (not so bad for logos with an alpha channel, etc).

Let's assume you have a full screen image file suitable for 4:3 video which is 720*576 pixels. (These examples all use PAL D1 format).

(A) In Photoshop, resize the Canvas to 960*576
(B) Resize the Image to 720*576 with Constrain Proportions UNTICKED


(A) Resize the Canvas to 720*432.
(B) Resize Image to 720x576 with Constrain Proportions UNTICKED

There's no way of avoiding either a quality drop or borders - so the best advice is to output graphics in 16:9 format in the first place.

The figure 960 is arrived at by the following: 720*(16/9)/(4/3)=960
The figure 432 is arrived at by the following: 576/(16/9)*(4/3)=432

For 4:3 - Screen aspect ratio is approximately 1.33:1
Square pixel width for 576 height would be 768 (=576*4/3) - TV Pixel aspect ratio is approximately 1.067:1 (=768/720)

For 16:9 - Screen aspect ratio is approximately 1.78:1
Square pixel width for 576 height would be 1024 (=576*16/9) - TV Pixel aspect ratio is approximately 1.422:1 (=1024/720)

To scan or generate images in a computer (square pixels) for TV output (non-square pixels), in either 4:3 or 16:9 format,  you need to use the following image sizes (or higher multiples of these figures that you can scale down or pan round, eg for zooming into and panning around a scanned photographic image).

4:3 PAL
Generate square-pixel Computer Image (size 768*576) - resize this to 720*576 for 4:3 TV

16:9 PAL
Generate square-pixel Computer Image (size 1024*576) - resize to 720*576 for 16:9 TV

*** In Premiere Pro, there is an added complication when importing stills into a project set for a wide-screen (16:9) aspect ratio. The software always appears to default to making 720x576 images appear with a 4:3 aspect ratio set within a 16:9 background (i.e. with black borders down either side). To correct this, right-click on the image in the bin and select the "Interpret Footage as" option that has the correct wide-screen aspect ratio, and then the image on the timeline will fill the screen (unless it actually was a 4:3 image, in which case Premiere was doing you a favour by scaling it down!). 

Realtime stills

The Matrox RT series handles 32bit Targa images in realtime, so you can import your scanned images and play them back on the timeline without rendering. This is great news, but what about when you want to use a still image for a PIP (picture in picture) or apply a 2D/3D DVE ?

Well, you can do it in real-time provided you use a 32bit .TGA (Targa) image with an Alpha channel. Easy enough, right? Wrong !! PhotoshopLE is bundled with some versions of Premiere, and while it is a very good photo package, one of the bits that's missing in the LE version is the channel controls. Effectively you can't create Alpha channels with PhotoshopLE.

So how do you achieve real time PIP or 3D effects using still images with the basic RT2X00 software bundle? Here's a workaround using Title Express from Inscriber, as bundled with every RT2x00. It's a cut down version of Inscriber's TitleMotion professional title creation package. Launch Title Express from within Premiere - with Premiere 6 choose FILE/NEW/INSCRIBER TE or from Premiere 5.1 choose PROJECT/CREATE/INSCRIBER TE -  then load your graphic file as a background into Title Express - do this by clicking on the grey square box in the bottom centre of the display. Once you have loaded in the background image choose FILE/EXPORT and set the file type to TGA and (if available) tick "32 Bit". Title Express will convert your Targa to an RT-friendly 32bit TGA with an Alpha channel ready for import into Premiere.

Smooth slow motion

Real time slow motion is possible with cards like the RT2000/2500 using Adobe Premiere. But the results are so jerky that they're useless. There have been a number of suggestions on how to improve the quality of slow motion video, such as offsetting a second duplicate layer of video by one frame with 50% transparency applied, or outputting a clip as a series of stills, then importing them as an image sequence and reducing the speed. By far the simplest method is as follows.

Right click on the clip you want to slow down - choose the desired speed (say 50%) then drag & drop the "Brightness" filter (from Video/Adjust/Brightness & Contrast) onto the clip. The result renders very quickly and gives very smooth slow motion.

Timeline tricks with bigger clips

Since version 6.0, Premiere has an annoying "feature" when you place a clip onto the timeline. If the clip you place is longer than the amount of timeline you can see, Premiere will jump to the end of that clip. This is fine for straight cuts but no good if you intended placing a transition at the join or wish to preview the edit. Scrolling back can be a real pain and consumes valuable time. A quick and easy way to get back to the original edit point is to force a re-draw of the timeline window by pressing +(plus) then -(minus) on your keyboard (don't use the plus and minus on the numeric keypad - they don't work in Premiere, choose the ones below F9 & F10).

Ever wondered why Premiere won't let you place a large clip onto a video track exactly where you want it ? Sometimes trying to place a clip on a video track at the point you want becomes like a tug of war between you and Premiere. Every time you let go it shoots off to the left! Well, I don't have a fix for this niggle, but here is workaround that I use.

Before placing a large video clip onto the timeline I choose a dummy still image, or a very short clip such as video black or colour bars, and place it just before the point at which I want to place the long clip. Then I butt the long video clip up to the right of the dummy image/clip on the timeline. Once it's placed I delete the dummy clip and continue editing.

DVDit! - poor menu quality ?

DVD it can produce excellent quality menus but some users report problems with the image quality of menu items in DVDit! There are two common issues that can cause this. Firstly you must only use background images that are 640*480. This fact is actually buried in the DVDit! help file but it's well hidden. Secondly, if you are seeing poor quality outlines on text items check the desktop display properties of the machine running DVDit! are set to 32bit.

If you generate a DVD with only only one button you will notice that the button is "greyed" in appearance. This is particularly noticeable with using a thumbnail icon as a button. To prevent this you can create a dummy button in the bottom corner of the screen with a link to the same AV clips as your main button. The dummy button can be a dot (full stop) the same colour as the background.

Batch Capture is your friend!

Don't assume that batch capture means you have to log every scene on a tape - wearing out your camera/deck. For many people (e.g. event videographers) it can make sense to bring footage into the system in manageable chunks and chop it up inside Premiere.

You can use batch capture to selectively capture a job like a wedding  in, say, three 30 minute sections. This saves you sitting over the system watching footage being captured, and, if you leave your tapes at the end when you remove them from the camera, you can mark the out/in points as you wind back the tape. It's best to create a slight overlap at each in/out point, which Premiere can do automatically if you enter a value (in frames) into the Handles setting of the Batch Capture Options menu.

Unattended capture saves you lots of time and if you take my tip about starting at the end of your tapes and marking the ins/outs as you rewind it you will reduce wear and tear on your equipment. The only time batch capture is likely to fail in Premiere is if your tape has discontinuous time code or you mark a clip with the out point too close (i.e. within a second or two)  to the start or end of a tape - always leave a bit of black (or anything for that matter) at the start and end of every tape.

Have a browse around the batch capture options and do some experimenting - everyone that uses this method benefits from the improved workflow made possible by batch capture.

Too lazy for Batch Capture?

Matrox Media tools offers a single pass scan and capture facility that really works - we would encourage all Matrox users to try Media Tools.

Faster MPEG encoding for RT2x00 / RT.X10 / DigiSuite

Matrox video editing hardware systems like the RT2000 and DigiSuite are optimised for their native video formats i.e. DV and MJPEG. The Matrox plug-in for Premiere ensures very fast rendering within the edit. However, exports to non-native formats like MPEG-II IBP (for DVDs) and MPEG-I (multimedia) are crippled when working in Matrox mode. The solution is to temporarily switch Premiere's project settings from Matrox mode to Video-for-Windows mode.

When you are ready to export to MPEG using Matrox IBP, LigosLSX or the Adobe MPEG encoder, change the editing mode in Premiere's project settings from "Matrox" to "Video for Windows". This should result in much faster MPEG exports.

We tried this on a number of systems and it dramatically reduces the export time without affecting quality.

This doesn't apply to the RT.X100 since it already exports all multimedia files in real-time.


More editing tips to follow ...........
If you have a useful tip for editing video, and you'd like to share it with others, please contact us
(Note:- Please do not write if you have a problem - we cannot give help - please only write if you have a
solution to a problem.)

Advice on Setting Audio Levels and other technical articles are on the Advice & Info page

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Revised: 05 May, 2010