Premiere Pro uses metadata associated with clips to know how to play them back. This metadata is normally added correctly by the camera, but occasionally it might be wrong. You’ll need to tell Premiere Pro how to interpret a clip.
You can change the interpretation of clips for one file or multiple files in a single step. All clips you have selected are affected by changes to interpretation.
Choosing audio channels
Premiere Pro has advanced audio management features. You can create complex sound mixes and selectively target output audio channels with original clip audio. You can work with mono, stereo, 5.1, Ambisonics, and even 32-channel sequences with precise control over the routing of audio channels.
If you’re just starting out, you’ll probably want to produce sequences mastered in stereo using mono or stereo source clips. In this case, the default settings are most likely what you need.
When recording audio with a professional camera, it’s common to have one microphone record onto one audio channel and a different microphone record onto another audio channel. These are the same audio channels that would be used for regular stereo audio, but they now contain completely separate sound.
Your camera adds metadata to the audio to tell Premiere Pro whether the sound is meant to be mono (separate audio channels) or stereo (channel 1 audio and channel 2 audio combined to produce the complete stereo mix).
You can tell Premiere Pro how to interpret audio channels when new media files are imported by choosing Edit > Preferences > Audio > Default Audio Tracks (Windows) or Premiere Pro CC > Preferences > Audio > Default Audio Tracks (macOS).
If the setting was wrong when you imported your clips, it’s easy to set a different way to interpret the audio channels in the Project panel.
Right-click the Reveal clip in the Theft Unexpected bin, and choose Modify > Audio Channels.
When the Preset menu is set to Use File, as it is here, Premiere Pro will use the file’s metadata to set the channel format for the audio.
In this case, Clip Channel Format is set to stereo, and Number of Audio Clips is set to 1—that’s the number of audio clips that will be added to a sequence if you edit this clip into it.
Now look at the channel matrix below those options. The Left and Right audio channels of the source clip (described as Media Source Channel) are both assigned to a single clip (described as Clip 1).
When you add this clip to a sequence, it will appear as one video clip and one audio clip, with both audio channels in the same audio clip.
Open the Preset menu, and choose Mono.
Premiere Pro switches the Clip Channel Format menu to Mono, so the Left and Right source channels are now linked to two separate clips.
This means that when you add the clip to a sequence, each audio channel will go on a separate track, as separate clips, allowing you to work on them independently.
It’s common for professional video to be recorded on a camera with relatively low-quality audio, while high-quality sound is recorded on a separate device. When working this way, you’ll want to combine the high-quality audio with the video by merging them in the Project panel.
The most important factor when merging video and audio files in this way is synchronization. You will either manually define a sync point—like a clapperboard mark—or allow Premiere Pro to sync your clips automatically based on their original timecode information or by matching up their audio.
If you choose to sync clips using audio, Premiere Pro will analyze both the in-camera audio and the separately captured sound and match them up.
If you don’t have matching audio in the clips you are merging, you can manually add a marker. If you’re adding a mark, place it on a clear sync point like a clapperboard.
Select the camera clip and the separate audio clip, right-click either item, and choose Merge Clips.
Under Synchronize Point, choose your sync point, and click OK.
A new clip is created that combines the video and the “good” audio in a single item.
Interpreting video footage
For Premiere Pro to play a clip correctly, it needs to know the frame rate for the video, the pixel aspect ratio (the shape of the pixels), and, if your clip is interlaced, the order in which to display the fields. Premiere Pro can find out this information from the file’s metadata, but you can change the interpretation easily.
Use the Media Browser panel to import RED Video.R3D from the Lessons/Assets/Video and Audio Files/RED folder. Double-click the clip to open it in the Source Monitor. It’s full anamorphic widescreen, which is too wide for the intended sequence.
Right-click the clip in the Project panel and choose Modify > Interpret Footage.
The option to modify audio channels is unavailable because this clip has no audio.
Right now, the clip is set to use the pixel aspect ratio setting from the file: Anamorphic 2:1. This means the pixels are twice as wide as they are tall.
In the Pixel Aspect Ratio section, select Conform To, and choose DVCPRO HD (1.5) from the adjacent menu. Then click OK.
From now on, Premiere Pro will interpret the clip as having pixels that are 1.5 times wider than they are tall. This reshapes the picture to make it standard 16:9 wide-screen. You can see the result in the Source Monitor.
This won’t always work—in fact, it often introduces unwanted distortion—but it can provide a quick fix for mismatched media (a common problem for news editors), particularly if the image content is of natural environments without a frame of reference like a person in the shot.
Working with raw files
Premiere Pro has special settings for .R3D files created by RED cameras, .ari files created by ARRI cameras, and several others. These files are similar to the Camera RAW format used by professional digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) still cameras.
RAW files always have a layer of interpretation applied to them in order to view them. You can change the interpretation at any time without impacting playback performance. This means you can make changes, for example, to the colors in a shot without requiring any extra processing power. You could achieve a similar result using a special effect, but your computer would have to do more work to play the clip.
The Effect Controls panel gives access to controls for clips in sequences and in the Project panel. You also can use it to change the interpretation of RAW media files.
If it isn’t already open, double-click the RED Video.R3D clip to open it in the Source Monitor.
Using the panel name, drag the Effect Controls panel over the middle of the Program Monitor, and release the mouse button. This will place the Effect Controls panel in the same frame as the Program Monitor, so you can see both the Source Monitor and the Effect Controls panel at the same time.
Because the RED Video.R3D clip is displayed in the Source Monitor, the Effect Controls panel now shows the RED Source Settings options for that clip, which change the way the RAW media is interpreted.
In many ways, this is a set of color adjustment controls, with automatic white balance and individual adjustments for the red, green, and blue values.
Scroll down to the end of the list, where you’ll find Gain Settings. Increase the Red gain to about 1.5. You can click the disclosure triangle to reveal a slider control, drag the blue number directly, or click and type over the number.
Take another look at the clip in the Source Monitor.
The picture has updated. If you had already edited this clip into a sequence, it would update in the sequence too.
Scroll to the top of the list of settings in the Effect Controls panel, and click the As Shot button to reset the appearance of the video clip.
For more information about working with RED media, go to http://helpx.adobe.com/premiere-pro/compatibility.html.
Different RAW media files will give different Source Settings options in the Effect Controls panel. There are many other ways to adjust the look of your video clips, and you’ll be looking at some of the options in Lesson 14, “Improving Clips with Color Correction and Grading.”