Adding Some Straightforward Transitions to a Project

Once again, it's time to experiment.

Task: Review the Available Transitions

To review animated examples of Premiere's available transitions, do the following:

  1. Open Premiere to your workspace.

  2. Grab the Transitions palette and drag it to the upper-left corner of your workspace.

  3. If the Transitions palette is not already open, open it by double-clicking its top bar.

  4. Click the handy fly-out window arrow and select Expand All Folders.

  5. Open that window again and select Animate.

  6. Now expand the Transitions palette as much as you can by dragging the lower-right corner down and to the right. If you're working in a 1024x768 or higher resolution window, you'll see every transition Premiere has to offer. Figure 5.2 shows the screen at a lower resolution (1024x768 doesn't translate well to print), but it gives you an idea of what you should see.

    Figure 5.2. Dragging the Transitions palette to its full size is a good way to get an overview of all Premiere has to offer.


  7. Click somewhere inside the window and watch all the transition icons give you an idea of how they work.

Where to begin? It's all a bit mind-boggling. To bring some order to this chaos, I'll show you a simple way to get a more precise idea how each transition works by starting with the most familiar and easiest-to-use transition?the cross-dissolve.

Find the Cross Dissolve icon in the Dissolve section of the Transitions palette and double-click it. As shown in Figure 5.3, this pops up the Cross Dissolve Settings dialog box. Every transition in Premiere has its own Settings dialog box, each with its own set of options. The cross-dissolve has only one option, and you may never use it (see the following note).

Figure 5.3. The Cross Dissolve Settings dialog box for cross-dissolve transitions. This the most frequently used and easiest-to-use transition.



Every transition Settings dialog box in Premiere offers the option to swap the order of the clips within the edit. You do that by clicking the little arrow next to the animated window in the lower-right corner. I've highlighted it in Figure 5.4. The default setting has the arrow pointing down. Pointing to the right would be more intuitive, but the arrow's direction reflects old-school A/B transitions that went from track 1A (higher on the timeline) to track 1B (lower).

Figure 5.4. The down (default) or up arrow sets the direction of the transition. Clip A to B (default) or B to A.


Pointing down means the transition will proceed sequentially, as you'd expect?clip A will transition into clip B. If you click the arrow, flipping it up, two things will happen: The animation in the small window will change (B will transition into A), and the A and B clips will swap places in the two larger windows at the top.

This is a useful tool if you place two transitions side by side while using the same clips. In that way, you can transition from one clip to another and then back to the original in one smooth, unbroken sequence.

Drag the slider button beneath the A window and watch. That's a cross-dissolve. The A clip fades away while the B clip replaces it.

Taking Additional Transition Options for a Test Drive

I'll have you apply a dissolve to two clips in a few minutes. Before you do that, take a look at a few more transitions that offer some additional options.

Task: Test out the Page Peel Transition

To explore the Page Peel transition, do the following:

  1. Cancel out of the Cross Dissolve Settings dialog box.

  2. Double-click the Page Peel transition in the Page Peel section. Now, this looks cool. People used to spend big bucks and way too much time to add this to their videos. Now you can do it with a drag and a drop.

  3. Drag the slider under window A again. That's how the transition will look.

  4. Check out the little, constantly animating window in the lower-right corner. You'll note that a few features are added. Four miniscule triangles (one red and three white) and a tiny button labeled "F." I've highlighted them in Figure 5.5.

    Figure 5.5. Clicking one of the little triangles around the small window sets the direction of the transition animation. Clicking F or R alters the flow.


  5. Click the F button and it changes to R. Note what that does. Instead of clip A peeling away to reveal clip B, clip B rolls over clip A. Although some may quibble with which transition is "forward" and which is "reverse," that's what those two letters stand for. Click the R to turn it back to F.

  6. Now click one of the miniscule white triangles. In the "F=Forward" case, this changes the corner where the page curl begins. In the "R=Reverse" case, it's where the curl ends. Experiment with several possibilities.

All but a handful of transitions let you switch between Forward and Reverse. Feel free to exit out of Page Peel Settings and take a look at two other transitions in the 3D Motion section at the top of the Transitions palette: Curtain and Fold Up (double-click one, try it out, and then cancel out of it; then double-click on the next one).

I've selected these because they are the only Premiere transitions that have just the Forward/Reverse option:

Curtain? The Forward setting has the A clip open like a curtain to reveal the B clip. The Reverse setting "closes" the curtain over A, revealing B.

Fold Up? The Forward setting has the A clip fold back, like a piece of paper being folded in half over and over, to reveal the B clip. The Reverse setting "unfolds" the paper on top of A, revealing B.


Although double-clicking a transition icon gives you a quick visual representation of a transition's function, you can also access a written explanation. Merely select a transition in the Transitions palette and then click the Info tab in the Navigator palette. A one-sentence description pops up.

Task: Play with the Border Option

Next up, borders. Most of Premiere's 70+ transitions let you add a border to them. In most cases this helps viewers see that, yep, this is a transition. Premiere lets you adjust the width of the border and its color. Here's one standard example:

  1. Cancel out of whatever transition you're working on and then double-click the Wipe transition in the Wipe section.

  2. Move the slider under the A window to the right about half way.

  3. Slide the Border triangle button to the right and watch as the line in the A window between clip A and clip B gets thicker. It should look like what's shown in Figure 5.6.

    Figure 5.6. Using the Border option is one way to make it clear to your audience that "this is a transition."


  4. Click in the black Color box.

  5. Click somewhere in the resulting rainbow-like window (the Color Picker) to select a color for the border. Note that you can type in specific color numbers to ensure an exact match with other borders if you want. Click OK.

  6. Now you'll see that your border has more personality. Later when you place transitions between video clips you can select a color that matches or contrasts with the transition scenes.


If you click around the Color Picker long enough, you'll eventually select a color that prompts Premiere to pop up a little yield/exclamation mark sign stating, "Warning: Unsafe NTSC color" (see Figure 5.7). You've selected a color that will not display well on a standard TV set (it'll work fine on your PC's monitor, though). For instance, selecting a highly saturated color value of 250 or more for one color with a low number for one of the other two colors will cause the saturated color to smear on an NTSC monitor. You can fix that by typing in a lower number (249 or less should work) in the offending color's box or clicking around until you find a color Premiere likes.

Figure 5.7. Selecting a color value of 250 or more may lead to "smearing" on an NTSC monitor, thus leading to the little warning.


Every transition that offers a border option also has an anti-aliasing option. Aliasing is the jagged edge common along sharply defined diagonal lines in computer graphics and TV sets. If you look closely enough at a diagonal line, even in your PC monitor (which has a higher resolution than your TV set), you'll see stair steps. That's aliasing.

To get rid of aliasing, you select, ahem, Anti-Aliasing. Premiere's default setting is to disable anti-aliasing. I don't get this. Aliasing looks bad, so the default should be anti-aliasing. Nevertheless, on an effect such as a vertical or horizontal wipe, there should be no noticeable aliasing, whether you've opted for anti-aliasing or not. But if you click one of those little white triangles in the corners of the little monitor and switch to a diagonal wipe, you'll probably want to turn on anti-aliasing.

You do that by clicking the little stair-step icon that I've highlighted in Figure 5.8. One click puts anti-aliasing on simmer; two clicks and it's on high. One more click returns it to no anti-aliasing. You get some immediate feedback in the A or B monitor window. The border gets softer with anti-aliasing turned on.

Figure 5.8. Clicking the little Anti-Aliasing stair-step icon smoothes out the "jaggies" on diagonal transition lines.


Testing Some Specialized Options

Hang in there for a few more minutes. We're almost ready to apply these transitions to your video clips. Before moving there I want to go over a few other sets of transition options.

A handful of transitions?seven at last count?let you select very specific locations for them to start or end. This can be very cool when you want to "pull" your next scene from a TV screen or a person's eye in the previous scene or "push" the first clip into a drain on the second. Let's look at an example.

Task: Grow a Transition from a Specified Point

To make a transition spawn from a specific point, follow these steps:

  1. Double-click Iris Round.

  2. Note the little white box in the center of the A window. I've highlighted it in Figure 5.9. That is the starting point for the transition.

    Figure 5.9. Some transitions let you set the specific start- or endpoint for extra dramatic effect.


  3. Move your icon over the white box until it changes to a hand and move the box to some other spot in the window.

  4. Move the slider under the A window and watch. The B clip will appear at that point and grow to full screen.

  5. Later, when you make transitions using your original clips, you can display those clips in the A and B windows so you can precisely locate the start- or endpoint.

  6. You can change the start point to the endpoint simply by changing the F (forward) button to R (reverse).


Other Transitions that allow a custom starting or ending point are 3D Motion Tumble Away, Iris Cross, Iris Diamond, Iris Square, Zoom, Zoom Cross, and Zoom Trails.

Task: Set Custom Transition Options

Some transitions offer custom options unique to those specific transitions. For example, the Venetian Blinds transition lets you select the number of blinds; for Random Blocks it's the number of blocks, and for Slash Slide it's the number of slices. Here's how this works:

  1. Double-click Pinwheel in the Wipe section.

  2. You'll notice it has a Custom button. I've highlighted it in Figure 5.10. Only about 15 transitions have this extra button.

    Figure 5.10. About 15 Premiere transitions offer special custom settings unique to those individual transitions.


  3. Click the Custom button, select a number of wedges (the max is 32; each transition varies), and click OK.

  4. Move the slider to see the effect. Note that you can add a color border plus choose Forward or Reverse.

Before moving on I'd suggest trying out some other transitions with special custom options such as Iris Shapes, Band Slide, and Swirl (Slide).


Give the 3D Motion Flip Over transition a test drive. It takes the A clip and spins it like a flat board horizontally or vertically and then reveals the B clip on the "board's" other side. That flipping motion briefly leaves an empty space behind the board. You can change the color of that space and split the "board" into as many as eight slats by opening the Custom dialog box.

I have touched on most of the primary types of transitions but have purposely skipped several. They are specialized transitions that require a little more editing experience to tackle, so I'm saving them for Hour 9, "Advanced Editing Techniques and Workspace Tools," which is a catchall for other editing techniques. There, I'll go over the Image Mask, Gradient Mask, and QuickTime transitions. The latter rivals Premiere's entire set of 70+ transitions, all within one little icon. As an exercise later I'll suggest you do a little experimenting with the QuickTime transition just to get a taste for its depth.

I'll also explain why and how you can string together several transitions.

    Part II: Enhancing Your Video