Enjoying Some Fun and Fast Editing Tricks

Once you learn the fundamentals, trying out some variations on various themes should come easily. Here is a collection of eight editing tricks that should liven up your projects. Most require only brief explanations.

Using the Razor Tool to Make a Sequence of Effects on the Same Clip

Keyframes allow smooth changes to an effect. If you want to create sudden shifts, slice a clip into smaller chunks and apply different effects to each segment.

As shown in Figure 17.15, I used the Razor tool (keyboard shortcut C) to slice a clip. Then I placed dramatically different video effects on each segment.

Figure 17.15. Use the Razor tool to create mini-clips within a clip to apply dramatically different effects to one apparently continuous clip.



Such slices do not leave any gaps in the clip, nor are they visible to viewers. With no effects applied it appears the sliced clip is actually intact.

You also can apply the same effect to each clip chunk and give each instance drastically different characteristics. Use this method to make quick shifts in color or quick changes from inverted images back to positive.

Using the Razor Tool to Shift from Full Motion to Fast or Slow Motion

The same razor-sliced clip approach works to make abrupt or smooth transitions from a full-motion clip to fast or slow motion.

Abrupt changes work well when you want to draw attention to movement. Consider a gymnast's floor exercise. Just before a twisting flip, slice the clip and place slow motion on the flip.

As another example, you could gradually slow down a horserace photo finish. As the thoroughbreds pound down the straightaway, make two or three razor slices, gradually slowing the motion in each segment.

As I've shown in Figure 17.16, you can apply different speeds to a clip by right/Ctrl-clicking the clip, selecting Speed, and typing in a new rate or duration. A negative number will make your clip play backwards.

Figure 17.16. Slow down or speed up a clip using the Clip Speed dialog box.


Using Title Designer for Tinting

The QuickTime Color Tint video effect does a fine job of creating a two-tone tint. But consider using Premiere's new Title Designer to take a different, single or massively multihued, approach.

Task: Create a Unique Tint with the Title Designer

Follow these steps:

  1. As I've illustrated in Figure 17.17, open the Title Designer and create a rectangle that goes well outside the boundaries in the Title window to ensure it entirely covers a clip.

    Figure 17.17. Use Premiere's Title Designer to create color mattes to tint your clips.


  2. Create a color matte. Open Fill under Object Style and select a fill type. Solid will give you a single color tint, whereas 4 Color Gradient creates a rainbow effect. Couple the latter with a twisting, contorted video effect and it's the 60's all over again.

  3. Use the Opacity settings and the Show Video check box to preview your matte. You can save this color rectangle at full 100% opacity and use the opacity rubberband to fine-tune its translucency later.

Adding Drop Shadows to Clips in Motion

This is a great way to add a sense of depth and realism to images or clips you float over another image. It works by placing a translucent black matte "beneath" each floating image (picture-in-picture) and just off to one side to give the impression of a shadow moving across the lower image. It's a little involved, but once you create the first floating clip with a drop shadow, adding more shadows is straightforward.


You may ask, Why not use the Drop Shadow Video Effect to do this? You can, but it's more tedious and less user friendly. To use Drop Shadow you first must use Transform to change the size of the clips you'll put in motion. Then you need to use keyframes to create a motion path. But as you move the edit line to a new position to set a new keyframe, the floating image disappears from the monitor window. It becomes a hit-or-miss proposition. The Motion Settings dialog box gives you immediate visual feedback.

Figure 17.18 shows how your timeline might look after completing this task.

Figure 17.18. How your timeline might look if you put several clips with drop shadows in motion over a clip on Video 1.


Task: Add Drop Shadows to Moving Clips Using Mattes

Here's how you do this:

  1. Place a clip on Video 1. For this task, trim it to about 15 seconds or so.


    Using a still image or freeze frame as the background clip on Video 1 simplifies this process. Plus it looks better and lets you place each floating clip in locations that work well with the background.

  2. Create several extra video and audio tracks. You'll need two video tracks for every clip you want to float above the clip on Video 1. Even though you'll delete the audio portions of the extra clips, you need available extra audio tracks; otherwise, Premiere will not allow you to place linked video/audio clips on the timeline.

  3. Add a clip to Video 3 (not Video 2?you'll use that track for a black matte) and trim it to the same length as the clip on Video 1. Open the Motion Settings dialog box and give your clip some motion. You can make it as convoluted as you want?you can even distort the clip. In any event, reduce the clip to about 30% so it doesn't crowd the rest of the clips.


    As you add video clips, unlink their audio tracks and delete those audio segments; otherwise, you will have a cacophony.

  4. Save your motion settings. I've highlighted that button in Figure 17.19. This is a critical step because you'll use these saved motion settings on the black matte shadow. Give your file a descriptive name (for example, Motion-1) because you're going to do this for each clip you place above Video 1.

    Figure 17.19. Change the location for each point on the matte's path to match the clip above it but to fall just a bit down and to the right. Check your results in the preview screen.


  5. Create a black matte. Right/Ctrl-click within the Project window and select New, Color Matte. The Color Picker pops up, and the default color is black?all zero values for Red, Green, and Blue. Click OK and name it Black Matte.

  6. Place this black matte on Video 2 and extend it to equal the other clips.

  7. Expand the video track and use the opacity rubberband to reduce its opacity to 50%. That'll give the black matte shadow a realistic transparency. Use the Fade Adjustment tool (keyboard shortcut U) and hold down Shift to get an exact percentage.

  8. Open the Motion Settings dialog box for the black matte and load the file you just saved. The matte's motion will duplicate the clip on Video 3. If you preview it, you won't see the matte because the clip on Video 3 will cover it up.

  9. Here's where you create the drop shadow. Change the location for each point along the motion path. They're in the Info area highlighted in Figure 17.19. I recommend placing the matte two units down and two units to the right of the clip above it.

  10. Repeat this process for as many clips as you want. Four clips work well.


You can get a real-time view as you apply your location information. Click the endpoint in the motion path window and the clip will show up in that position in the preview screen. As I've illustrated in Figure 17.19, when you apply new location info to the black matte, the drop shadow will show up around the edges of the clip in the preview screen.


The motion settings' "visible area" is an 80x60 grid. So if your project has a 640x480 resolution, each unit in the Motion Settings dialog box translates to eight pixels. As a reminder, the motion settings' X/Y coordinates don't follow standard Cartesian methodology. The center point is 0, but the Y axis is reversed. The top is ?30, and the bottom is +30. The X axis works as you'd expect?left is negative and right is positive.

For example, to move the black matte two units down and to the right from ?21, -8 would mean shifting it to ?19, -6.

Creating Animated Text

Another use for motion settings is to give text some zest. As I've demonstrated in Figure 17.20, you can use the Title Designer to create some text. For this exercise, large text works well because you'll zoom in on it in the Motion Settings dialog box. I included a rounded rectangle backdrop as well.

Figure 17.20. Large text works well when using motion settings to zoom in on it.



Whether you make the background graphic first or last is not critical. To place it "behind" the text, select Title, Arrange, Send to Back (from the main menu bar).

Place your text on Video 2 and place a background on Video 1. I chose the color gradient I made for the tinting task earlier.

Apply motion settings to the title. As shown in Figure 17.21, I chose to duplicate that old newsreel effect of a spinning title appearing from a great distance, zooming to full screen (or beyond), and then zooming off the page. What also works well is applying distortion to the clip.

Figure 17.21. Apply motion settings to your text for a dramatic effect.


I like using motion settings in part because the process is intuitive and offers real-time feedback. You can achieve similar results using the Basic 3D or Transform video effect.

Panning Across and Zooming In on Stills

This is a really effective way to make a static shot more interesting. I use it a lot when making family history videos. If you've watched a Ken Burns documentary, you've seen it exploited to its maximum value.

Use the Motion Settings dialog box as your tool to create the pans and zooms. Zoom in on areas of interest, or start tight on an image and create the appearance you're panning across it (actually you're moving it across the screen). Here are some basic tips:

  • As illustrated in Figure 17.22, I started my image at full screen and zoomed to 150%. I set the start at the center by clicking the start hash mark on the Motion Settings timeline and clicking the Center button. The endpoint is a bit off center because I wanted to zoom in on an area of interest away from the middle of the photo.

    Figure 17.22. Use motion settings to pan across and zoom in on an image.


  • If you plan to zoom or pan, then scan your image in more than the standard 72 dpi (dots per inch) TV screen display. That way, when you zoom in, the image will remain crisp.

  • As is the case with most images, they probably don't exactly match your project's aspect ratio. When you view them in the Program Monitor screen, they may look squashed or elongated. To resolve that, right/Ctrl-click the clip and select Video Options, Maintain Aspect Ratio.

  • Scan some images twice. One as a wide shot and another tight. Then place them side by side on the timeline and do a cross-dissolve between them. Use motion settings to zoom in on each but add a pause at the beginning on the tight shot to let the dissolve finish before starting the zoom.

  • To further emphasize the zoom, later dissolve in a track matte (see the following tip).

  • Consider putting a frame around your image. Do that either by using the Clip video effect and dragging in the edges a bit or by shrinking the clip slightly in the Motion Settings dialog box, placing a black matte beneath it, and applying the same motion settings to the matte.


In the previous hour I explained how to use a matte created in a graphics program to highlight an area of your image. As shown in Figure 17.23, you also can use Premiere's Title Designer to create that matte.

Figure 17.23. Use a graphic created in Premiere's Title Designer to highlight a portion of your image.


When creating that matte, use Show Video to line it up with the subject.

Place it on the timeline above the clip, setting Transparency Settings to Alpha Channel and Reverse Key.

To add some visual interest to your still image, use the opacity rubberband to fade it up to about 60% after you've zoomed in on the clip.

As illustrated in Figure 17.24, this process will dissolve in the rounded rectangle without completely blocking out the rest of the image.

Figure 17.24. Here's how this effect turned out.



The preceding tip brings up the "alpha channel, black equals transparent and white equals opaque" issue again. When you're using the Title Designer, all non-text regions (or, in this case, non-graphics regions) make up the alpha channel. The text, no matter what color it is, is not in the alpha channel and has an adjustable opacity. In this case, the rounded rectangle should be at 100% opacity.

When you use this rectangle, it acts as text and covers up whatever is below it on the timeline, while the alpha channel portion remains transparent. If you use Reverse Key, the alpha channel becomes opaque and the text or graphic portion becomes transparent.


One little quirk: If you apply opacity to the graphic within the Title Designer, using Reverse Key displays the inverse of that opacity. That is, a 20% opacity setting will display, when using Reverse Key, as 80% opaque. Therefore keep your black rounded rectangle at 100% to ensure it becomes completely transparent.

For an odd little effect, give the rectangle a color besides black and set 100% opacity. With Reverse Key on, this will create a color rim around the edge of the oval. If you want to give your oval a little tint with a color border, give it a color and set opacity to 80% or so.

Reducing Noise in Low-Light Clips

Video shot in low-light conditions typically looks "noisy." There are a few tricks you can use to try and fix that:

  • Adjust the contrast and brightness.

  • Use the slider controls below the histogram in the Levels video effect to increase shadows and highlights.

  • Try using the Color Balance video effect to boost Red values a bit.

Using the Storyboard to Create a Slideshow

This is a great way to display a bunch of still images. It uses the same basic storyboard methods covered in Hour 4, "Using the Storyboard and Timeline for Cuts-only Editing."

There are a couple fundamental differences in this case:

  • If you want your clips to play for anything other than the default five seconds, set a new default duration for still images. Do that by selecting Edit, Preferences, General and Still Image and changing the default duration to whatever works for you (30 frames equals one second).

  • A transition between each "slide" works nicely. Select a "default" transition by opening the Transitions palette, selecting a transition (I recommend something really obvious, such as Center Peel), opening the fly-out menu (as illustrated in Figure 17.25), and selecting Set Selected as Default. That opens the Default Effect dialog box. Set the duration and the alignment (Center at Cut works best with still images).

    Figure 17.25. Set a default transition using the fly-out menu.


  • Instead of Automate to Timeline, you could choose Print to Video. This is one of several means to export a video. I'll go over exporting projects to video and other media in Hours 19 and 20, but you can try this feature now. Just make sure your camcorder is ready to record (if it's analog, start recording before clicking OK). Accept the defaults and click OK. It should put your DV camcorder into record mode and record your slideshow to tape. It'll also display the slideshow on your computer monitor.

    Part II: Enhancing Your Video