Resolving Transition Technical Issues

Finally, it's time to use transitions on real video clips. First, however, I want to use the sample clips provided with your copy of Premiere to show you a "gotcha."

Add the sample files to your Project window:

  1. Right-click a white area in the Project window to open a menu and select Import, File (or use the double-click shortcut to open the Import window directly).

  2. Go to the Premiere file folder. Its default location is C:/Program Files/Adobe/Premiere/Sample Folder.

  3. Select the five AVI files and click Open.

  4. Drag two of those clips (it doesn't matter which two) one at a time to the Video 1 track on the timeline.

You may notice something about their appearance. They have little gray triangles in their upper-right and upper-left corners. I've highlighted those triangles in Figure 5.11. They mean that the entire original clip is on the timeline. No extra tail or head frames are available in the original clip file to create an overlap for a transition.

Figure 5.11. The triangles in the upper corners of the clips indicate there is no extra head or tail material to create a properly overlapped transition.


You need overlapping video to make a transition?extra tail material in the A clip and extra head material in the B clip to allow one scene to move into another.

You have at least two ways to remedy this. The first involves the standard means to add a transition to your project?dragging and dropping a transition from the Transition window to the edit point on the timeline. You will do this time and time again. This will be your first crack at it.

Task: Use Freeze Frames to Generate Head and Tail Material for a Transition

To use the freeze-frame technique to create head and tail material for a transition, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Transitions palette.

  2. Locate the Cross Dissolve transition (actually just about any transition will do).

  3. Drag it to the edit point of the two sample clips, make sure it changes color to show it's in the proper position, and then drop it there.

    A dialog box like the one shown in Figure 5.12 pops up, telling you that there are not enough tail and head frames to make a transition. In this case there are none.

    Figure 5.12. This dialog box pops up when you place a transition at an edit point and the two clips do not have enough frames to make a smooth overlapping transition.


  4. You have only one option in this case?Repeat Last and First Frames. This option creates a "freeze frame" from the last frame of the A clip and another freeze frame from the first frame of the B clip. Premiere then uses those freeze frames as overlap material. Select OK to accept the default values.

To see how this transition looks using the actual video, follow these steps:

  1. Double-click the light-purple transition segment on the timeline (if the segment is not wide enough to locate with the Selection tool, press the =/+ key to expand the scale).

    Up pops the now familiar Cross Dissolve Settings dialog box. This time, as noted in Figure 5.13, it has a new check box: Show Actual Sources.

    Figure 5.13. When you drag a transition to an edit point between two clips on the timeline, a new check box appears?Show Actual Sources.


  2. Check that box, and your two clips show up in the two windows.

  3. Drag the slider under the A clip box and watch your dissolve in action.


Dragging a slider is not the most elegant means to view your dissolve. At this point, it's sort of a stopgap approach. If you go to the timeline and drag the edit line to the Cross Dissolve transition segment and press the spacebar to play that segment, you will not see the dissolve but rather only a straight cut edit. Premiere needs to "render" that dissolve before it can play back in real time. We'll take care of that later.

On the other hand, if you have a high-end video card such as the Matrox RT 2500, a simple dissolve will play back in real time from the timeline without rendering. Also, if you have a high-end PC with Windows XP or a Mac with OS X, you can use Premiere 6.5's new Software Real-Time Preview.

The second means to resolve clips with no extra tail or head frames is to use the old-fashioned A/B editing style.

Although I don't recommend switching from single-track to A/B editing in the middle of a project, in this case it's a good alternate way to resolve this non-overlap issue.

Task: Use A/B Editing to Create an Overlap for a Transition

To create an overlap for a transition by using A/B editing, follow these steps:

  1. Use the fly-out arrow to open the Timeline window's menu.

  2. Select A/B Editing. Your timeline should look like the one in Figure 5.14. Note the gray areas I've highlighted. Those are the freeze frames Premiere automatically built to create something like faux overlap frames.

    Figure 5.14. Switching to A/B editing shows how Premiere handles transitions for which there are not enough head or tail frames. The highlighted gray boxes are sets of "freeze" frames.


  3. Delete the two clips and the Cross Dissolve transition by selecting them one at a time and pressing Delete (or right-clicking them and selecting Cut).

  4. Drag and drop one of the sample AVI clips to the Video 1A track.

  5. Drag and drop another sample AVI clip to the Video 1B track. You'll notice that you can drag either clip anywhere on those bars?even if they overlap. If they overlap and you move the edit line to them to view them, only the clip in the Video 1A track will display. As with single-track editing, the highest clip in the timeline covers everything below it.

  6. Drag the clip in Video 1B so most of it is to the right of the clip in Video 1A. Leave some overlap (a second or so; use the timeline as a reference) as I did in Figure 5.15.

    Figure 5.15. Starting fresh in A/B mode shows how you can overlap clips to add a transition without forcing Premiere to resort to using "freeze" frames.


  7. Drag the Cross Dissolve transition icon to the Timeline transition line and drop it between the two clips at the overlap point. It automatically sets a length that equals the overlap amount. I added that in Figure 5.15 as well.

  8. Double-click the purple Cross Dissolve transition segment to open the Cross Dissolve Settings dialog box.

  9. Select Show Actual Sources and drag the slider under the A clip window. This time you will see no freeze frames. The dissolve will look much nicer.

  10. Complete this task by closing the Cross Dissolve Settings dialog box and switching back to single-track editing (use the fly-out menu).

The resulting edit is sort of difficult to decipher in the single-track view. To get a better picture, click the little two-box icon next to the Video 1 track label. It will split the track so you can see the edit in more detail. Unfortunately, this is for display purposes only. You can't make adjustments to this kind of overlap edit in single-track mode, whether in this expanded view or not.


While in the expanded single-track editing view, if you delete the transition by selecting it and pressing Delete, the two clips will jump back to a non-overlapping-style straight cut edit. You may note, as highlighted in Figure 5.16, that those little gray triangles are no longer in the corners of the two clips at the edit point. The reason: When you created the original edit in A/B mode you overlapped the tail and header of each clip. When you removed the transition, that sliced off the overlapping frames, leaving enough tail and header frames available in the original clips to make a transition. If you switch back to the unexpanded single-track mode and drag a transition to the edit point, no warning box will appear. There are enough tail and header frames available to make the transition.

Figure 5.16. Using the expanded single-track editing view and deleting the transition made in A/B mode cuts off the overlapping footage.


    Part II: Enhancing Your Video