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Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 power tips

Jan 27, 2011 10:30 AM, By Franklin McMahon


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Getting the most out of any program is always the key, but these days, most software has hundreds of features, so it takes some exploring to really dig in and find some gems. Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 is no exception. There are many options, parameters and tools, so it’s always good to explore and find some that help your workflow go more smoothly. Here are four good places to start:

Using keyboard shortcuts always makes workflow go faster, but creating your own set with exactly the commands you want can take productivity to a new level. Click image to enlarge.

Using keyboard shortcuts always makes workflow go faster, but creating your own set with exactly the commands you want can take productivity to a new level. Click image to enlarge.

Keyboard Customization
You may be used to using Final Cut Pro, but you may be surprised to learn that Adobe has included an entire group of FCP keyboard commands right within the program. If you go to the Edit menu and choose Keyboard Customization, you’ll find a dizzying array of keyboard shortcuts for nearly every command in the program. There are sets built-in, including a set for Final Cut and Avid Xpress, and, of course, for Premiere Pro. In each keyboard set, there are three sub-categories, Application (menus), Panels and Tools.

To change any keyboard command, just click on it, and type in what you want. You’ll see that the keyboard set now switches to Custom, and you can save this as a new keyboard set. If you ever wonder what keyboard command goes to what feature, you can look in the pull-down menus or just mouse over a button on the interface; in a second, a yellow label will appear with the correct command. Using keyboard shortcuts always makes workflow go faster, but creating your own set with exactly the commands you want can take productivity to a new level.

Under the Resource Central tab, you’ll find some new professionally designed themes for free. Click image to enlarge.

Under the Resource Central tab, you’ll find some new professionally designed themes for free. Click image to enlarge.

Resource Central
Want to grab some free templates for your productions? Go up to the Window menu, and choose Extensions/Resource Central. You’ll see a new tab appear that says Templates, with several categories — including Corporate, Sports, Travel and more. You’ll also see a little green light that pops on to signify that you are online. Scroll through and choose any template, and click the arrow button to download. In a few seconds, you’ll have some new professionally designed themes for free.

You can also do keyword searches looking for specific templates such as “Lower 3rd” or a color like “Orange.” This is very handy for creating something professional quickly or looking for an inspirational template to start creating with.

It’s easy to overlook the History tab, but if you are constantly experimenting and hitting Undo, then it’s worth bringing this panel front and center. Click image to enlarge.

It’s easy to overlook the History tab, but if you are constantly experimenting and hitting Undo, then it’s worth bringing this panel front and center. Click image to enlarge.

History
It’s easy to overlook this powerful tab, as it is usually hidden away. However, if you are constantly experimenting and hitting Undo, then it’s worth bringing this panel front and center. Just go to the Window menu, and choose History to get started. In fact you may want to undock it, extend it and keep it on the side of your editing screen. As you work, you’ll see every step you make. You can click any task to immediately go back to it and then click again to go to your current step.

In fact, you can use the arrow keys, both left and right, to scroll through your steps. This is much faster than traveling up to the Undo menu and tapping the arrow keys back and forth can give you a real sense of how your changes are affecting your production. When you find a step you don’t want, you can click on the trash icon to delete it.

Also, at any time you can click the pulldown menu of the History tab and clear out all the steps. This won’t actually undo everything, but it will give you a fresh start if you have hundreds of steps listed.

With the Normalize Track option, you can set the dB you want to come in at and then let the program smartly level things accordingly. Click image to enlarge.

With the Normalize Track option, you can set the dB you want to come in at and then let the program smartly level things accordingly. Click image to enlarge.

Normalize
Another feature that is powerful but easy to miss is the Normalize Track option. Although you can use keyframes and lift up your audio to match the level of other audio tracks, why not let Premiere Pro do the heavy lifting to provide you with a running start? Just go to the Sequence menu, and choose Normalize Master Track. You can set the dB you want to come in at and then let the program smartly level things accordingly. If you don’t like the results, you always have the History panel to dial it back.

There are dozens of hidden and handy features buried in the vast array of Premiere Pro’s tool bars and menus, and sometimes the best thing to do is just surf through them. Quite often, we are editing on a deadline and don’t have time to explore. However, Adobe is constantly packing more and more features in each new version of the program, so it’s worth trying these tips out and discovering new ones.

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