Manipulating Clips in the Timeline

One of the beauties of nonlinear editors is how easy it is to add clips anywhere in the project, move them around, remove them altogether, or change their lengths. Here's how you do all that.

Moving a Clip

Make sure your cursor icon is a little arrow (the Selection tool). If not, move your cursor to the upper-left corner of the timeline and click the arrow button (see Figure 4.19). You'll use this frequently enough such that you might as well learn the keyboard short cut--press the V key to change your cursor to the Selection tool (note that the Timeline must be highlighted as the active window for this keyboard shortcut to work).

Figure 4.19. The ubiquitous and helpful Selection tool.


Now, grab a clip you want to move, drag it to a new location, either between two clips or at the beginning or end of your piece, and then drop it. The cursor turns to a hand and has to be over an edit point to make the move. You'll know that you can drop the clip at a specific location because you'll see the left part of the next clip turn blue. Releasing your mouse button will insert your clip at that edit point and shove the rest of the project to the right, increasing its overall length. That also leaves a gap where your clip used to be. We'll deal with that later.

Adding a Clip to Your Project

No matter how carefully you selected clips for your storyboard, you may choose to add a clip to your timeline later. Easy. Select a clip from one of your bins, drag it to an edit point, and drop it. It'll position itself in front of that edit point, and the rest of your project will slide to the right.

Removing a Clip

Select a clip by clicking it and pressing Delete. Gone. There's that gray gap again. We'll fix that later. If you want your clip back, select Edit, Undo.


As a reminder, you can undo all these edits. Clicking Edit, Undo will back up one step. Repeating that will take you back more steps. Clicking the History tab in the Navigator window will display a list of all recent edits. Scrolling up that list and selecting Automate to Timeline will take you back to the beginning of this project.

Changing a Clip's Length

Note that as you move your Selection tool across a clip, it changes shape to a left or right red square bracket--either "[" or "]". This little tool lets you change the length of a clip.

Move the bracket to the beginning of a clip, directly after the edit point. Notice that the bracket faces right. If you click and drag it to the right you will trim the beginning of that clip. You can look for an appropriate trim edit point by watching the Program Monitor screen. Release the mouse and your clip shrinks, leaving a gap where the trimmed footage used to be.

To trim the end of a clip, do the same thing except make sure the bracket faces left, into the clip. Then drag it to the left and release when you reach an appropriate edit point.


Premiere has a tremendously useful attribute called "Snap to Edges." It's a default setting, and in only a few instances will you want to deselect it. Snap to Edges means that as you drag a clip toward another clip, it'll jump to the edge of the clip to make a clean, unbroken edit. With Snap to Edges turned off you'd have to slide the new clip very carefully next to the other clip to ensure there is no gap.

It's also useful when making precise edits. Using the Selection tool to trim a clip is a bit inexact. You can make it frame specific. Locate the specific frame you want to edit to by scrubbing through your program to its approximate location and then use the Frame Forward buttons in the Program Monitor window to move to the specific frame. That places the edit line marker right at that frame on the clip in the timeline. Use the Selection tool and drag the edge of the clip toward the edit line marker. As it gets near it, it will "snap" to the marker, and you'll have made a frame-specific edit.

You can use this technique in all sorts of circumstances, including with the Ripple Edit tool.

Closing the Gaps

By now you may have left a few gray gaps in your production. Removing them and closing the gaps is a snap. Right-click a gap and select Ripple Delete (it's at the top of the pop-up menu because it's a very useful and frequently used tool). Ripple Delete fills the gap by sliding all the material after the gap to the left. Do this for all the gaps, and your production will play back smoothly.


Sometimes Premiere can be confounding. You'll drag a clip to an edit point and Premiere won't let you insert it. There may be a reason, but Premiere offers no explanation. It simply fails to cooperate. Sometimes you'll attempt to do a Ripple Delete and Premiere will "bing" and do nothing. Again, for no apparent reason. That is one reason why I like the idea of experimenting. If one means to accomplish a task does not work, try another route. If you can't use Ripple Delete, then use the Track Select tool (discussed later) to highlight all the clips to the right of the gray gap and drag them to the left to fill the hole.

Using the Ripple Edit Tool

One way to avoid creating some of those gray gaps is to use the Ripple Edit tool. It's one of the dozen or so editing tools in the toolbox in the upper-left corner of the timeline. I've highlighted the Ripple Edit tool in Figure 4.20. To access it, click the third icon from the left in the top row. That opens a little fly-out menu. If the Ripple Edit tool is not already highlighted, click it (it's the third icon in this group of five icons).

Figure 4.20. The Ripple Edit tool. Using it saves you the extra step of doing Ripple Deletes on gaps in your timeline.


You use the Ripple Edit tool much like the Selection tool (its icon is sort of like a fat Selection tool bracket icon). Position it at the beginning or end of a clip you want to shorten and then slide it accordingly. Once you find the point where you want to make your edit, release the mouse button. The Ripple Edit tool shortens the clip and slides everything over to the left to close the gap.

Using the Other Editing Tools

Within the confines of those eight fly-out icon menus in the toolbox are several useful tools. These are noted in Table 4.1. I'll cover some in a moment, and the rest I'll save for other hours.

Table 4.1. Timeline Editing Tools

Tool Type


Tool Name




Selection tool

Multipurpose, all-around aide.

Select tools


Range Select tool

Discussed later.



Block Select tool

Used to create a "virtual" clip. See Hour 16.



Track Select tool

Discussed later.



Multitrack Select tool

Discussed later.

Edit tools


Rolling Edit tool

See Hour 9.



Ripple Edit tool

Already discussed.



Rate Stretch tool

See Hour 9.



Slip tool

See Hour 9.



Slide tool

See Hour 9.

Cutting tools


Razor tool

Discussed later.



Multiple Razor tool

Discussed later.



Fade Scissors tool

Discussed later.



Hand tool

Discussed later.



Zoom tool

Discussed later.



Link/Unlink tool

See Hour 7.

In- & out-point


In-point tool

Discussed later.



Out-point tool

Discussed later.

Select Tools

Not to be confused with the Selection tool, three of these tools let you select a group of clips. Once they're selected, you can slide them, delete them, cut/paste them, or copy/paste them.

  • The Range Select tool lets you drag and drop a box over any number of clips on any adjacent tracks. The box selects any part of a clip inside it.

  • The Track Select tool grabs clips on only one track. You can Shift-click to select other tracks.

  • The Multitrack Select tool selects all tracks at once.

Block Select Tool

The Block Select tool has a completely different function than its three siblings. In Hour 16, " Tips, Tricks, and Techniques: Part 1," I'll show you how it creates "virtual clips."

Edit Tools

I've explained the Ripple Edit tool. I'll cover the other four in Hour 9. One you might experiment with now is the Rate Range tool. It lets you stretch or compress a clip and in the process slow it down or speed it up.

Cutting Tools

Razor and Multiple Razor slice a clip or clips in two. These tools have multiple uses, and I'll cover them in several chapters. The Fade Scissors tool has limited functionality (I don't use it at all). It places two adjacent "handles" on audio and video "rubberbands." I'll introduce rubberbands in Hour 7, "Adding Audio."

Hand Tool

A limited-use tool, the Hand tool is used to move the entire timeline by grabbing a clip and sliding it to one side. It works the same as moving the scrollbar at the bottom of the Timeline window.

Zoom Tool

When you want to see a set of clips in greater detail, click and drag the Zoom tool around those clips. That decreases the time displayed in the timeline, thereby increasing the detail of the current view. Simply clicking the Zoom tool anywhere in the timeline is like pressing the =/+ key.

Link/Unlink Tool

This tool provides a means to link or unlink a video clip with an audio clip. By default, all your video clips have their nat-sound audio linked to them. There are times, however, when you'll want to unlink that audio to make certain kinds of edits. I'll explain more in Hour 7.

In- and Out-Point Tools

These are limited-use tools. Instead of dragging the edge of a clip to trim it, you can use these tools.

    Part II: Enhancing Your Video