Six Premiere Pro Game Changers

When a software developer updates any editing application, users often look for big changes, fancy features, and new functionality. Unfortunately, many little updates that can really change your day-to-day workflow are often overlooked.

Ever since the shift to its Create Cloud subscription model, Adobe has brought a string of updates to its core audio and video applications. Although there are several that have made big news, the more meaningful changes often seem less than awe inspiring to Adobe’s critics. Let me counter that narrative and point out six features that have truly improved the daily workflow for my Premiere Pro projects.

Auto Reframe Sequence. If you deliver projects for social media outlets, you know that various vertical formats are required. This is truly a pain when starting with content designed for 16×9 horizontal distribution. The Auto Reframe feature in Premiere Pro makes it easy to reformat any sequence for 9×16, 4×5, and 1×1 formats. It takes care of keyframing each shot to follow an area of interest within that shot, such as a person walking.

While other NLEs, like Final Cut Pro, also offer reformatting for vertical aspect ratios, none offer the same degree of automatic control to reposition the clip. It’s not perfect, but it works for most shots. It you don’t like the results on a shot, simply override the existing keyframes and manually reposition the clip. Auto Reframe works best if you start with a flattened, textless file, which brings me to the next feature.

Scene Edit Detection. This feature is generally used in color correction to automatically determine cuts between shots in a flattened file. The single clip in the sequence is split at each detected cut point. While you can use it for color correction in Premiere Pro, as well, it is also useful when Auto Reframing a sequence for verticals. If you try to apply Auto Reframe to a flattened file, Premiere will attempt to analyze and apply keyframes across the entire sequence since it’s one long clip. With these added splices created by Scene Edit Detection, Premiere can analyze each shot separately within the flattened file.

Auto Transcribe Sequence / Captioning. Modern deliverables take into account the challenges many viewers face. One of these is closed captions, which are vital to hearing-impaired viewers. Captions are also turned on by many viewers with otherwise normal hearing abilities for a variety of reasons. Just a few short years ago, getting interviews transcribed, adding subtitles for foreign languages, or creating closed captions required using an outside service, often at a large cost. 

Adobe’s first move was to add caption and subtitle functions to Premiere Pro, which enabled editors to import, create, and/or edit caption and subtitle text. This text can be exported as a separate sidecar file (such as .srt) or embedded into the video file. In a more recent update, Adobe augmented these features with Auto Transcribe. It’s included as part of your Creative Cloud subscription and there is generally no length limitation for reasonable use. If you have an hourlong interview that needs to be transcribed – no problem. 

Adobe uses cloud-based AI for part of the transcription process, so an internet connection is required. The turnaround time is quite fast and the accuracy is one of the best I’ve encountered. While the language options aren’t as broad as some of the competitors, most common Romance and Asian languages are covered. After the analysis and the speech-to-text process has been completed, that text can be used as a transcription or as captions (closed captions and/or subtitles). The transcription can also be exported as a text file with timecode. That’s handy for producers to create a paper cut for the editor.

Remix. You’ve just cut a six-minute corporate video and now you have to edit a needle drop music cue as a bed. It’s only 2:43, but needs to be extended to fit the 6:00 length and correctly time out to match the ending. You can either do this yourself or let Adobe tackle it for you. Remix came into Premiere Pro from Audition. This feature lets you use Adobe Sensei (their under-the-hood AI technology) to automatically re-edit a music track to a new target length. 

Open the Essential Sound panel, designate the track containing the cue as Music, enable the Duration tab, and select Remix. Set your target length and see what you get. You can customize the number of segments and variations to make the track sound less repetitive if needed. Some tracks have long fade-outs. So you may have to overshoot your target length in order to get the fade to properly coincide with the end of the video. I often still make one manual music edit to get it just right. Nevertheless the Remix feature is a great time-saver that usually gets me 90% of the way there.

Audition. If you pay for a full Creative Cloud subscription, then you benefit from the larger Adobe ecosystem. One of those applications is Audition, Adobe’s digital audio workstation (DAW) software. Audition is often ignored in most DAW roundups, because it doesn’t include many music-specific features, like software instruments and MIDI. Instead, Audition is targeted at general audio production (VO recordings, podcasts, commercials) and audio-for-video post in conjunction with Premiere Pro. Audition is designed around editing and processing a single audio file or for working in a multitrack session. I want to highlight the first method here.

Noise in location recordings is a fact of life for many projects. Record an interview in a working commercial kitchen and there will be a lot of background noise. Premiere Pro includes a capable noise reduction audio filter, which can be augmented by many third party tools from Accusonus, Crumplepop, and of course, iZotope RX. But if the Premiere Pro filter isn’t good enough, you need look no further than Audition. Export the track(s) from Premiere and open those (or the original files) in Audition.

Select the Noise Reduction/Restoration category under the Effects pulldown menu. First capture a short noise print in a section of the track with only background noise. This “trains” the filter for what is to be removed. Then select Noise Reduction (process). Follow the instructions and trust your own hearing to remove as much noise as possible with the least impact on the dialogue. If the person speaking sounds like they are underwater, then you’ve gone too far. Apply the effect in order to render the processing and then bounce (export) that processed track. Import the new track into Premiere. While this is a two-step process, you aren’t encumbering your computer with any real-time noise reduction filter when using such a pre-processed audio file.

Link Media. OK, I know relinking isn’t new to Premiere Pro and it’s probably not a marquee feature for editors always working with native media. When moving projects from offline to online – creative to finishing editorial – you know that if you cannot properly relink media files, a disaster will ensue.

Media Composer, Final Cut Pro, and Resolve all have relink functions. They work well with application-controlled, optimized media. But at other times, when working with camera original, native files, it might not work at all. I find Premiere Pro works about the best of these NLEs when it comes to relinking a wide variety of media files. That’s precisely because the user has a lot of control of the relink criteria in Premiere Pro. It’s not left up entirely to the application.

Premiere Pro expects the media be in the same relative path on the drive. Let’s say that you move the entire project to a different folder (like from Active Projects to Archived Projects) on your storage system. Navigate to and locate the first missing file and Premiere will find all the rest.

The relinking procedure is also quite forgiving, because various file criteria used to relink can be checked or unchecked. For example, I frequently edit with watermarked temporary music tracks, which are 44.1kHz MP3 files. When the cut is approved and the music is licensed, I download new, non-watermarked versions of that music as 48kHz WAV or AIF files. Premiere Pro easily relinks to the WAV or AIF files instead of the MP3s once I point it in the right direction. All music edits (including internal edits made by Remix) stay as intended and there is no mismatch due the the sample rate change.

These features might not make it into everyone’s Top 10 list, but they are tools generally not found in other NLEs. I use them quite often to speed up the session and remove drudgery from the editing process.

©2022 Oliver Peters

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