This is the unofficial Adobe Premiere FAQ v1.4

The latest version can be found at

Please send any comments, additions, new items to

  1. Things to get you started
    1. What does Premiere do?
    2. What does Premiere not do?
    3. Where can I buy Adobe Premiere for a good price?
    4. Will this FAQ tell me everything?
    5. Where can I get more information about Adobe Premiere?
    6. I need a copy of the Premiere manual. Can I buy one?
    7. Are there tutorials online to get me started?
    8. When will the next version be released?
    9. Extras on the 6.5 CD-ROM (Windows version)
  2. Bugs in Version 6
    1. Pixel aspect ratio does not adjust footage correctly. (fixed in 6.5)
    2. When applying Premiere base effects, footage is blurry. (fixed in 6.5)
    3. When letting Premiere resize footage, the quality is bad.
    4. Version 6.5 announced July 22, 2002
    5. Premiere Pro announced July 7, 2003
  3. General Questions and How-Tos
    1. Importing stills for a slide show type video.
    2. Picture in Picture
    3. Slow motion
    4. Make video play backwards
    5. How do I add a transition?
    6. I do not see any transitions (effects etc.), just an "X" in the monitor window.
    7. What is 4:3, 16:9, etc.?
    8. What is drop frame coding?
    9. What the heck is pixel aspect ratio?
    10. Will Premiere automatically detect scenes when capturing from DV?
    11. Why does Premiere tell me my disk is full? I have plenty of space left!
    12. Where is the "Save for web" option in Premiere 6.5?
    13. What do the different pixel aspect formats look like?

2003-07-14 v1.4 Section 2.13
2003-07-07 v1.3 Section 2.5, 1.8
2003-03-17 v1.2 Section 3.12
2003-01-02 v1.1 Section 3.10, 3.11
2002-09-14 v1.0 Section 1.3, other misc notes
2002-09-04 v0.9 Section 1.8, (note about OSX), 1.9
2002-09-03 v0.8 Section 1.8, 3.9 other misc. updates and rearranging
2002-08-01 v0.7 Section 1.6, 1.7
2002-07-22 v0.5 Section 1.2, 2.4
2002-06-29 v0.4 Section 2.1 support for PAL and widescreen!
2002-06-27 v0.3 Updated links in section 1.5
2002-06-26 v0.2 Added section 3.8


v0.1 Initial draft by Jeremy A. Moore

1.1 What does Premiere do?

Adobe Premiere is a nonlinear editor (NLE) allowing you to edit video on a timeline. The "nonlinear" part comes from being able to edit at different points of the timeline. In contrast, a "linear" editor is like recording to VHS tape. Once you have recorded the first part, you generally cannot go back and edit it. You can capture video (with supported hardware, including Firewire), put it on the timeline with other footage (audio, video, stills, titles, etc.) add transitions and effects to your footage, then output your video to a movie file for the web, CD-ROM, export to hardware, or other cool stuff. For a complete description, check out the Adobe web site. A limited trial version is available for download and may also be available with other Adobe products.

A few major features were added to Premiere 6.5

  • MPEG export from timeline using new Adobe MPEG export plugin (Windows only)
  • New enhanced titler with features not see in other Adobe applications, and quite a few features that are in other Adobe applications.
  • Real time preview. This is software based and will depend on your processor speed. Reduce the size of the monitor window to speed things up.
  • Bundled with DVDit! LE
    Note that there are multiple editions of DVDit! and this is the LE version. Here is a link to describe the differences in the different version:

1.2 What does Premiere not do?

Adobe Premiere is a pretty powerful piece of software, but there are a few things Premiere does not do.

  • It does not allow you to directly paint on your video like Photoshop does for a still image
  • Does not directly export to MPEG, but you can use the "Save for Web..." feature which calls up the Cleaner 5EZ export plugin. It has a few MPEG settings such as VideoCD. In the 6.5 update, Adobe has replaced the Cleaner EZ (which is not supported and has a few problems running under Windows XP along with no version for MacOSX) with the Adobe MPEG compressor. See 1.1 above.
  • Does not automatically detect scenes in DV footage. Lots of newer consumer applications are doing this and is really pretty cool. DV stores a the date and time each frame is recorded which allows an application to detect when you started and stopped you recording, but not in Premiere.
    Your capture card (or firewire card) may have come with its own software to do this. You may want to check out for a pretty good tool that will "idex" your entire tape and then allow you to extract scenes.
  • Does not create a VideoCD. Premiere will not author to DVD or VCD. You need a separate application to do that. Premiere will produce the video content, and does this pretty good. You will then need to export your video to a DV file and let your authoring application recompress the video. Premire 6.5 comes bundled with DVDit! LE to allow you to create a DVD video. See for more information.

1.3 Where can I buy Adobe Premiere for a good price?

Adobe sells the product on their web store and it can also be found at most any other software retailer. Probably the best way to get Adobe Premiere is with some kind of bundle. Some computers will ship with a scaled down version of Premiere (an LE version). In the past, Adobe has offered a discount on the full price if you have the LE version. Other bundles with capture cards are great deals offering as much as a 50% discount from the full price, and includes the hardware. For instance, has the ADS Pyro Platinum package that includes Adoeb Premiere 6.5, a firewire card, and other software for $259.95. (as of 14-Sept-2002)

1.4 Will this FAQ tell me everything?

NO! That would just not be very fun ;)

The best place to start is the manual. You do not have to read it cover to cover, but check out the basic stuff. The online manual (in HTML) is almost an exact version of the paper manual and has a very good index. Adobe probably has some of the best online help I have come across in a long time. Those guys should be proud. Make use of their work!

You can also check out the Premiere version of "Classroom in a book" from Adobe Press. This is basically a step by step tutorial and a good intro for those who have never used a NLE before.

1.5 Where can I get more information about Adobe Premiere?

Premiere at Adobe.COM

Adobe Forums
Yahoo Adobe Premiere list
DV Magazine
Premiere User's Page

1.6 I need a copy of the Premiere manual. Can I buy one?

Well, one should have come with your boxed version of the software. If you have lost it, do not worry. The entire manual is actually the same as the online help, but in a searchable HTML format. As stated above, Adobe has some of the finest online help I have seen for software, make use of their work!

The 6.5 upgrade comes with the old 6.0 manual plus a supplement for the new 6.5 features. All the manuals are on the CD. As a matter of fact, there is even a PDF version of the help !? That makes at least 4 places you can read the manual:

1) Hardcopy of manual (6.0 and 6.5)
2) PDF of manual (6.0 and 6.5)
3) PDF version of the help
4) HTML help files (use the "Help" menu in Premiere)

1.7 Are there tutorials online to get me started?

The best place to start is the training CD-ROM that comes with Premiere. It includes video tutorial on how to get started and become familiar with how Premiere works with video on the timeline. One you understand the timeline and transitions, you are about 80% there. The rest is just coming up with creative ways to put your project together. After you have gone through the video, browse through the online help to get used to finding information there. It has answer just about every one of my questions I have ever wanted to know.

Still need more help? Try Adobe's web site. They have even more online tutorials to help you. Check out the links above in section 1.5 for some great information.

1.8 When will the next version be released?

The latest version of Adobe Premiere is 6.5 and was announced July 22, 2002. Adobe does not discuss future version until about a month before they are released which they usually allow you to pre-order. Like most other major software companies, they do have an internal schedule that they try to keep to. If you look back at the time between previous releases, you can try and guess when the next major version will be released. The following is from Adobe's press releases available on their web site:

Version Announce or ship Date
5.0 Ships 1998-05-18
5.1 Announced (free update avail end Oct.) 1998-10-14
5.1 RT Ships 1998-12-14
6.0 Announced 2000-12-11
6.0 Ships 2001-01-08
6.5 Announced 2002-07-22
6.5 Ships 2002-08-12
Pro (7) Announced 2003-07-07 (to ship late Aug.)

1.9 Extras on the 6.5 CD-ROM (Windows version)

The upgrade comes with the old 6.0 manual plus a supplement for the new 6.5 features. All the manuals are on the CD. As a matter of fact, there is even a PDF version of the help !? That makes at least 4 places you can read the manual:

1) Hardcopy of manual (6.0 and 6.5)
2) PDF of manual (6.0 and 6.5)
3) PDF version of the help
4) HTML help files (use the "Help" menu in Premiere)

You have NO EXCUSE not to read the manual! ;)

Take a look at the CD for some extras that are not installed. You can usually find some pretty cool stuff. Check out the Readme file that is installed with Premiere 6.5. Here is an interesting note:

"Cleaner EZ is no longer included or supported with Adobe Premiere 6.5, due to incompatibilities with Windows XP and Windows Media 8. There is an upgrade available to Cleaner Pro, which is compatible with Windows XP and Windows Media 8."

There is also not a version of Cleaner EZ of the MacOSX. Something to consider if you are using Cleaner EZ with Premiere 6.0x today. I guess you can use the separate encoding export plugins that are now available (Adobe MPEG Encoder, Advanced Windows Media, Advanced RealMedia Export) to take care of what Cleaner EZ did. You will no longer have the "Save for web..." option which started the Cleaner EZ export plugin. The following are just a few other items that can also be found in the Readme:

\Goodies\Adobe MPEG Encoder
There is a PDF and extra presets for the Adobe MPEG encoder. The PDF talks about how using the presets can speed up the conversion processes (with maybe a little loss of quality). There is even a graph showing the difference in speed (on a P4 2.2GHz).

\Goodies\Export Markers
I'll just quote the first paragraph of the PDF:

"The Export Markers plug-in is a Windows-only plug-in for Adobe Premiere 6.x. It is used to export marker data from the Premiere Timeline to a tab-delimited text file or to a table in an HTML file. Marker data consists of position, duration, comments, chapter, URL, and frame target. The files exported by the Export Markers plug-in can be used for group collaboration on a project, or may be read by DVD authoring programs for a head-start on the authoring process."

\User Documentation
These are the PDF version of the manual. And look at that, even an Italian version of the manual (including the "Supplemento")! I guess that makes 5 ways to read it ;) In addition to the manuals, there are a few "primer" documents to explain a bit about DV, DVD, and streaming media. The PDF version of the quick reference card is also there in case you have already lost yours.

\Third Party Products
Demos of some pretty nice plug-ins, a Cleaner EZ upgrade Offer to the full version that was mentioned above. Also, there is a nice looking PDF about the Mainconcept special offer for the stand alone MPEG Encoder.

Don't forget the "Introduction to Premiere 6.5" trainging CD and the "SmartSounds Quicktracks" cd that is also included in the box.

And one last note... Please check out the "Known Issues" towards the end of the Readme file. Especially the "Adobe MPEG Encoder" section.

2.1 Pixel aspect ratio does not adjust footage correctly.

(Fixed in Premiere 6.5)

See for specific details.

If your project is using a pixel aspect ratio (PAR) that is not square (1 to 1 width to height), and your footage is not the same PAR, Premiere does not adjust the footage correctly. Note that this is a new feature of Premiere 6 and should have made DV much easier to deal with. If all your footage matches your project PAR, there should not be a problem. Here is a section from the Premiere 6 manual help topic on "About D1, DV, and various pixel aspect ratios"

"If a file uses rectangular pixels, Premiere displays the pixel aspect ratio next to the file's image thumbnail in the Project window. You can change the pixel aspect ratio interpretation for individual files in the Pixel Aspect Ratio dialog box. By ensuring that all footage files are interpreted correctly, you can combine footage with different ratios in the same project and generate output that plays correctly."

If the PAR correction worked, all you would have to do is drag your footage to the timeline and render!

To work around this problem when using non-square PAR, you have to treat Adobe Premiere like it is an older version and not use the PAR features.

Make sure your footage matches your final output - if to normal TV, footage pixel size should be 4:3 ratio (like 640x480, 720x540, etc). Similar for other output ratios (16x9, etc.) You will need to crop or matte your footage if it does not match your output. Make sure "Maintain Aspect Ratio" is OFF for your footage on the timeline. This will cause Premiere to "stretch" the footage so it fills up the frame. Your content will look correct on final output (i.e. TV). If you have "Maintain Aspect Ratio" turned OFF, Premiere ignores any PAR settings for that footage and "blindly" resizes the image.

So how DO you export a DV 16:9 to a DV 4:3 project? Here is one "work around" that takes advantage of Premiere's PAR abilities, even though they are broke as described above.

Add these 8 lines to your "Interpretation Rules.txt" file located in the Premiere 6 plug-ins folder:

0, 0, 0, "0000", * = 640/854/"NTSC - Correct DV4:3 to DVWide", *, *, *
0, 0, 0, "0000", * = 720/854/"NTSC - Correct Square to DVWide", *, *, *
0, 0, 0, "0000", * = 720/640/"NTSC - Correct Square to DV4:3", *, *, *
0, 0, 0, "0000", * = 854/640/"NTSC - Correct DVWide to DV4:3", *, *, *

0, 0, 0, "0000", * = 768/1024/"PAL - Correct DV4:3 to DVWide", *, *, *
0, 0, 0, "0000", * = 720/1024/"PAL - Correct Square to DVWide", *, *, *
0, 0, 0, "0000", * = 720/768/"PAL - Correct Square to DV4:3", *, *, *
0, 0, 0, "0000", * = 1024/768/"PAL - Correct DVWide to DV4:3", *, *, *

Set your project to "Square" PAR. Now set your DV16:9 Widescreen footage to the new PAR of "NTSC - Correct DVWide to DV4:3". If you have any stills, you can use "NTSC - Correct Square to DV4:3" for them. Set any DV4:3 footage to square PAR. Make sure all your footage has "Maintain Aspect Ratio" turned ON. You can now freely mix digital images, DV16:9 and DV4:3 footage in the same project and the content will be correctly rendered as long as you use these "corrected" PAR settings for all your footage. Note that when you scrub the timeline in Adobe Premiere, you will see some weird stretching done to your footage, just ignore that. What you really want is correct output when rendered, and this should do it. It should look stretched left to right because you are telling Adobe Premiere that the project is square when it is really DV. Note also that this is for NTSC. If you need PAL, you can use the similar PAR options above. If you want to mix footage in a widescreen video, your project should still be square PAR, but your DV4:3 footage will need to be set to "to DVWide" PAR, and your DVWide footage will need to be set to square.

2.2 When applying Premiere base effects, footage is blurry

(Fixed in Premiere 6.5)

It seems that when Adobe decided to change the Premiere engine to support different pixel aspect ratios (PAR), they tried to use some programming from Adobe After Effects. Along with that was the new ability to use After Effects plugins. The problem is Adobe did not convert all the plugins over to the new type, so there are some that are still based on the Premiere way of doing things. The Premiere based plugins do not handle non-square PAR very well, so something as simple as "horizontal flip" will make your footage blurry when rendered out. You can recognize an After Effects plugin by the "plug" icon and a small number "4" in the corner. The Premiere plugins have a "film strip" icon and a yellow "V".

To work around this bug, you can set your project to be square PAR and your footage to square PAR. The filters will then be applied cleanly. Make sure you know the effects that this can have with your other footage.

2.3 When letting Premiere resize footage, the quality is bad.

This may not really be a bug, but a design decision. When Adobe Premiere has to scale footage, it acts like the "nearest neighbor" form of interpolation in Adobe Photoshop. This could have an impact on how your footage looks, but is very dependant on the content. Check out this page for more information:

2.4 Version 6.5 announced July 22, 2002

The press release

Adobe announced that it started shipping Premiere 6.5 on Aug. 12, 2002. Most people were getting their upgrades by Aug. 20.

2.5 Premiere Pro announced July 7, 2003

Adobe announces that Premiere Pro will be released in Late August 2003. The upgrade will be $199 and the full version will be $699. Check out for more information.

Note that Windows XP (Home or Pro) is required for this new version. No Mac OSX version will be available!

3.1 Importing stills for a slide show type video.

Make sure you note the bugs above when dealing with footage with different pixel aspect ratios (PAR).

If you are outputting for the web or CD-ROM so your video will be display on a square pixel device (a computer monitor) you can just bring in your stills in the bin and drag to the timeline. Nothing special needs to be done.

If your output is to DV, you need a little extra work. More technical details are above in section 2.1 Here are the general steps you need:

  1. Crop or matte your stills so the image size width to height ratio in pixels matches your final output display size width to height ratio. For normal TV's, this is 4:3. Examples are 640x480, 720x540, 1024x768, etc. Adobe Premiere has a max size of 4000x4000.
  2. If you are importing lots of stills, you should set the default setting under "Edit -> Preferences -> General and Still Image". Set the default duration to the time (in frames) you want each image to be. 150 frames is about 5 seconds. Make sure "Lock Aspect" is turned OFF.
  3. Use "File -> Import -> File..." or "File -> Import -> Folder..." to bring your stills into the bin. If you have all your stills in a single folder (with nothing else there) use the "Folder..." option. It will create a folder in your bin and put all the stills in it.
  4. Drag your images to the timeline. If you have all your images in a folder in the bin, you can drag that entire folder to the timeline to add them all at one time.

Because you had selected not to "Lock Aspect" in preferences, your stills will not have "maintain Aspect ratio" checked. The will stretch the still to the size of the video frame. When it is displayed on the TV, the stills will be correct.

In version 6.5 of Premiere, because the pixel aspect bug has been fixed, you can skip step 1 above as long as you turn ON "Lock Aspect" in step 2. This is a HUGE time saver! You can pretty much drag and drop your stills to the timeline and render without doing anything else.

3.2 Picture in Picture

  1. Place one clip on the timeline on the "Video 1A" or "Video 1B" track. This will be the background video.
  2. Place your second clip on "Video 2" track or above.
    • You have a few options here:Use "Clip -> Video Options -> Motion..." and set the begin and end time to the same settings (position and zoom). Use a zoom value of less than 100% (maybe around 25%) for the smaller images


    • Use the effect "Perspective -> Transform" and set the "Scale Width" and "Scale Height" to the same values (maybe around 25%). Set the "Position" where you want the video to be placed.

    Note that you can overlap many videos on top each other on the Video 2+ tracks and set the positions/size as above to get some really cool effects (multiple videos play and moving around, etc.) Set different keyframes for position, scale, and rotation to add even more complexity to your video.

    3.3 Slow motion

    The easy answer... Use "Clip -> Speed" to a value less that 100%

    For better quality slow motion, there are plugins that you can purchase that does some better field/frame interpolation. Just remember, when you slow down a video, you are adding frames to the video. The frames are completely made up out of thin air (or bits). The better the algorithm that you use for the slow motion (looking at the fields of a frame) the better your video will look.

    3.4 Make video play backwards

    Set the speed to a negative percentage. -100% will play normal speed backwards. -50% will play half speed backwards.

    3.5 How do I add a transition?

    You place a clip on the "Video 1A" track and the other on "Video 1B" track. Make sure the clips overlap the amount you want your transition to be (30 frames is a good number). Drag a transition from the "Transitions" pallet to the area between the two clips where they overlap. Some transitions have some really nice options, so make sure you double click them (on the time line) to see what they can do. If you cannot decide what transition to use, just pick "Cross Dissolve". Do not get overwhelmed by all the choices. Cuts and cross dissolves are probably all you really need to use 98.7% of the time.

    3.6 I do not see any transitions (effects etc.), just an "X" in the monitor window.

    Unless you have a real-time card, you will have to render your transitions to see them. You can do a "render scrub" by holding down the [Alt] key while scrubbing the timeline. That should get what you want. You can also "preview" your timeline video (just hit [Enter]). That will actually render frame by frame using your project settings to temporary files, then Adobe Premiere plays the final render.

    For more information, check out: "Help -> Editing Video -> Previewing a video program"
    ... then for more info click at the bottom -> "Previewing by scrubbing the time ruler"

    3.7 What is 4:3, 16:9, etc.?

    When people talk about 4:3 and 16:9, they are talking about the width to height ratio of the actual TV display. For DV (NTSC) the frame size is 720x480. Notice that this is not 4:3 or 16:9! Yet it is used as the format for output to both of these display sizes. How can this be? Well, the content is stretched in different ways so that when the 720x480 image is stretched to the size of the correct TV, it looks correct. This is where pixel aspect ratio (PAR) comes into play (see 3.9 below).

    3.8 What is drop frame coding?

    Drop frame timecode is used so that the time code on your video matches actual time (time code of 4 minutes is really 4 minutes into the tape). The reason for this adjustment is that NTSC is NOT 30 frames per second, but 29.97 frames per second. The time codes for frames 00 and 01 are skipped at every one minute mark, except for every ten minute mark (including the start at 00;00;00). If this adjustment is not used, the time code will be off by a few seconds after only a few minutes. This can cause very bad problems with audio sync. For more details, check out

    3.9 What the heck is pixel aspect ratio?

    Pixels do not have any size, they are points, but when displayed on different types of display systems, the points that makes up the content is converted to some electrical (on a TV) or mechanical (when printed on paper) form to display the value of that point. This is the only time a pixel has a size. Because of the way pixels are displayed on TV screens throughout the world, they will be "shaped" differently. This is mostly an analog conversion artfact that lets the display a bit more resolution in width or height. In NTSC DV, the specifications are for a 720x480 pixel frame. This gets displayed on a 4 to 3 size ratio display. 720/480 = 1.5 does not equal 4/3 = 1.333. To account for this, the horizontal line on a TV is squeezed a little bit to fit the screen. The pixels will be smaller in width than in height.

    This is really just a rough explanation, but is still pretty hard to understand at first. There are many other factors that go to work in the real world of digital and analog video. To learn more (or be more confused) check out this great site:

    A Quick Guide to Digital Video Resolution and Aspect Ratio Conversions

    Square and Non-Square Pixels

    You may want to check out the Premiere manual (paper or electronic) for a different explanation. Just look in the index for "pixel aspect".

    3.10 Will Premiere automatically detect scenes when capturing from DV?

    No. DV is a really cool format. When recording, most cameras will store extra information in the video stream. When playing back, you should be able to determine scene breaks based on the date and time stored in the data stream.Any time there is a discontinuity in the date / time, you know the camera was stopped and started again. Unfortunately, Premiere 6.5 does not do this! Some capture cards come with deticated software to do this. You can also purchase third party software that does a really good job of working with batch capture. Try It will do a "fast forward" record in about 5 minutes to find all the scenes on a 60 minute tape. You can then select the clips you want and do a batch capture. A few features that I would like to see is a way to catalog the scenes in a tab delimited format that would allow you to import into spreadsheet, database or even Premiere. Nother cool feature would be the ability to export thumbnails and create an HTML page with the information. Greate for saving in a database or printing out and storing with the tape.

    3.11 Why does Premiere tell me my disk is full? I have plenty of space left!

    Depending on how your system in configured, you may be hitting a 2 gigabyte limitation to the size of a single file. You must be using Premiere 6.x and an advanced file system such as NTFS on Windows NT/2000/XP or HFS+ on a Mac. This will allow you break the 2 gigabyte limit. Here is the Adobe technote for more details.

    3.12 Where is the "Save for web" option in Premiere 6.5?

    As mentioned in section 1.9, Premiere 6.5 no longer includes the Cleaner EZ product which supplied the "Save for web" feature. If you have version 6.0 of Premiere, you may be able to copy it over to the 6.5 directories and get it to work. It will not work correctly under WinXP or Mac OSX.

    3.13 What do the different pixel aspect formats look like?

    You can see the differences in the formats here:
    A visual reference to common pixel aspect formats