Premiere Pro Tutorial: Using the Project panel

What you’ll learn in this Premiere Pro Tutorial:

  • Using the Project panel

This tutorial provides you with a foundation for working with Adobe Premiere Pro projects. It is the first lesson in the Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 Digital Classroombook. For more Adobe Premiere Pro training options, visit AGI’s Premiere Pro Classes.


As mentioned previously, the Project panel contains references to all the footage files (video, audio, and images) that you have imported into Premiere Pro. As such, it is the creative hub for all you will create with this application. In addition to references to your imported footage, the panel holds the Sequences and Titles that you can create within the application, and is where you locate the items you want to add to the Timeline.

Understanding media management

Media Management is the organization or management of the media you work with in a project. There are two equally important aspects to Media Management. The first is how you manage the media on your hard drives, and the second is how you organize the different media references that you import into Premiere Pro.

To ensure portability, performance, and security, many users highly recommend that you store media on an external hard disk drive. The two standard connection types for external hard drives are FireWire (400 and 800) and USB 2.0. Most video editors recommend a FireWire drive because of its higher sustained bus speed, but any type of drive works for your projects. Newer technologies, such as thunderbolt and USB 3.0, also provide excellent connections for media storage drives. Depending on your system configuration, these connection types may not be available to you at this time.

The files that you will work with to complete the lessons in this book are organized into a single folder called Media Library. Within that folder, there are additional folders for each individual project. In each respective project folder, there are folders that separate the different types of media (video, audio, and still images) you will use. This type of hierarchical structure is also used to keep the project panel organized and makes it easier to locate the media you want to add to the Timeline panel.

Before you can edit any piece of footage on the Timeline, you must first add it to your Premiere Pro project. You can import a wide variety of media, including video, audio, still images, After Effects Projects, and other Premiere Pro projects.

In this section, you will import a variety of media files into your project that you can later organize and add to your Timeline.

1 With the pr0201-working file still open, confirm that you are using the Digital Classroom-Editing workspace that you created earlier in this lesson. If you have made any changes to the workspace, you should reset it now. If the Project panel is hidden behind the Program Monitor, click on the Project panel tab now to bring it forward and make it active.

2 Choose File > Import to open the Import dialog box, then navigate to the Media Library folder located inside the prlessons folder that you copied to your hard drive.

Select the Travelogue-Boston folder, and then select the Video subfolder to reveal the video files you will import for this lesson.

3 Inside the Video folder, there are six video files shot in the city of Boston: Boston-Bridge, Boston-Building Tilt, Boston-City, Boston-Marina, Boston-Paul Revere, and Boston-TD

Click the first video file in the dialog box, hold the Shift key on your keyboard, and then click the last file to select every file between them.

Click the Import button to import all the selected files into your project panel.

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All recently imported files are automatically selected/highlighted in the project panel.

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Holding the Shift key while selecting files only selects files in a sequential list. To select files non-sequentially, hold the Control (Windows) or Command (Mac OS) key and click individual files.

4 In addition to importing individual or groups of files, you can import entire folders and their content.

Choose File > Import and navigate to the Travelogue-Boston folder in the Media Library. In the Import dialog box, click once on the Audio folder to select it, and click the Import button.

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Importing entire folders is a quick way of importing multiple files, along with their content and subfolders.

When you import a folder into Premiere Pro, the application automatically creates a bin in the Project panel with the same name as the imported folder. The content of the folder on your hard drives, as well as the content of any sub-folders, is placed inside this bin.

In NLE (Non-Linear Editing) parlance, a bin is basically just the name for a file folder. The functionality of bins in the Premiere Pro Project panel is almost identical to those of the file folders on your computer.

5 Click the reveal triangle to the left of the Audio bin to show the clips that you imported.

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Each bin’s reveal triangle can show and hide the bin’s contents.

6 Choose File > Save or press Ctrl+S (Windows) or Command+S (Mac OS) to save the project file.

In the next part of the lesson, you will create a new bin to hold the video files you just imported and keep the project panel organized.

Creating and organizing bins

The term bins comes from the days of editing film when the developed film clips were stored in bins for easy organization. In the Premiere Pro project panel, bins serve as file folders to hold and organize your media assets. Bins can hold any combination of media: video, audio, still images, and even other bins. The organizational scheme you use for this exercise will create a separate bin for each different type of media used in the project.

The media management strategy that you adopt depends on the specifics of the project and the quantity of footage. For larger projects, you might break the footage into bins based on the content of the video, location, or for dramatic works, the footage needed for a specific scene (scene-based organizational system).

1 If the Audio bin is still selected, click on any empty area of the Project panel to deselect it. Then create a new bin by clicking the New Bin button located at the bottom-right of the Project panel. Rename this bin video and press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac OS) to confirm the new bin name.

When you create a new bin, it will automatically be placed inside the bin that you currently have selected. This is why it is important to remember to deselect the Audio bin in this step.

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When you create a new bin, the default name is highlighted immediately so you can change it. If you click another item in the Project panel or click another pane, the name becomes deselected. To make the name editable again, right-click the bin name and choose Rename from the menu that appears. Additionally, double-clicking the name of any item in the Project panel makes the name editable.

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The term bin is a legacy from the days of film editing. In practice, bins function exactly like the folders on your hard drive.

2 Click the first video clip displayed in the Project panel, hold the Shift key on your keyboard, and click the last video clip to select every clip between them.

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Holding the Shift key allows you to select files in sequential order.

3 Release the Shift key and then click any one of the selected files and drag it to the Video bin. When the bin’s folder icon becomes highlighted, release the mouse to move all the selected files into the bin.

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Moving and arranging media items in the Project panel is similar to moving and arranging files on your hard drive.

4 Click any empty area of the Project panel to deselect the Video bin, and then click the New Bin button again to create a third bin. Rename this bin Boston Footage and again press the Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac OS) to confirm the new bin name.

5 Click the Audio bin, then press and hold the Control (Windows) or Command (Mac OS), and click the Video bin to select both.

6 Release the Control (Windows) or Command (Mac OS) key and then drag either of the selected bins into the Boston Footage bin. This moves both the selected bins inside the bin named Boston Footage.

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Storing bins inside one another is an efficient organizational tool and can prevent the Project panel from becoming cluttered.

7 Choose File > Save or press Ctrl+S (Windows) or Command+S (Mac OS) to save the project file.

Now that you have organized the Project panel, in the next part of the lesson you will modify the panels display so that it is easier to view the most relevant information about your media items.

Modifying the Project panel display

The Project panel displays information about each item it contains in a series of columns to the right of each item’s name. This information display can be customized so that you can control which properties display and in what order. This allows you to view only the attributes that are most relevant to the type of work you are currently doing at any given time in Premiere Pro.

Adding/removing columns in the Project panel

The default column display can be changed, to add hidden panels or remove panels that you may consider extraneous.

1 Since the Project panel is very small when compared with the overall Premiere Pro interface, seeing all the columns at the same time is impossible. The first thing you will do is expand the panel to full-screen size. Note that even in full-screen mode you may not be able to view every data column in the Project panel depending on your monitor’s resolution.

Click on any area of the Project panel to select it. You will know it is selected when it has an orange border around it.

With the Project panel selected press the tilde (~) key on your keyboard.

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The tilde (~) key acts as a minimize/maximize toggle for whichever panel is currently active.

2 The expanded Project panel makes it much easier to see each clip’s properties.

Click on the menu button located at the upper-right corner of the Project panel and from the menu that appears, choose Metadata Display. Metadata is information that is attached to files that contains extra information about the file. For a video clip, metadata could include information such as the length, audio information, or frame size and rate.

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Even though the clip properties are only used inside Premiere Pro they are still listed as a part of the overall metadata properties.

3 In the Metadata Display panel click on the reveal triangle to the left of Premiere Pro Project Metadata to reveal its properties.

Click and drag the lower-right corner of the dialog box to enlarge it so that you can see all the revealed attributes. Each attribute corresponds to one of the visible columns in the Project panel.

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Some clip properties are turned off by default in the Project panel display.

4 In the dialog box, disable the following attributes by clicking to clear the check mark to the left of the attributes.

Frame Rate

Media Start

Media End

Media Duration

Video Info

Audio Info

Tape Name

Log Note

Capture Settings





You do not need these attributes for the work you will do in this project. The Media (displayed in Timecode) and Tape Name properties refer to the tape that these clips were captured from. The Frame Rate, Video, and Audio Info and Capture settings are the same for all the clips you will work with in this project. You will not use the other properties, such as Scene, because they are intended for a different type of project workflow than you will be working with here.

Understanding timecode

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Timecode is used in video editing and motion graphics programs to keep track of your position along a Timeline, tape, or any time-based medium. You can identify timecode as a series of four numbers separated by colons or semicolons. As seen in the example above and reading from left to right, the numbers represent: Hours;Minutes;Seconds;Frames.

You can count hours, minutes, and seconds in much the same way as you would with a standard clock, but the counting begins at zero instead of one. The one variable with timecode is the number of frames that make up a second, which is based on the frame rate of the media you are dealing with. Depending on the Composition settings, you could be using the American television standard of 30 FPS (frames per second), the European standard of 25 FPS, or the film standard of 24 FPS. In essence, timecode provides a discrete address to each frame of video.

5 Click the OK button. The Project panel was reduced to a few columns.

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The visible columns in the Project panel can be adjusted at any time depending on the needs of your project.

6 Choose File > Save or press Ctrl+S (Windows) or Command+S (Mac OS) to save the project file.

Do not close this file; you will need it in the next exercise.

In the next section, you will edit the clip descriptions and change the order that the columns display in.

Adding a clip description

Some of the columns in the Project panel are purely descriptive; they display information about the properties of the footage you are working with. Columns such as Media Start, Media End, and Media Duration are non-editable, while others, such as Video In Point, Video Out Point, and Video Duration, can be changed as you work with your clips in Premiere Pro. Columns such as Description can be edited directly in the Project panel itself. Clip descriptions can be very helpful, especially when working on longer, more complex projects, or when working in a team environment. The Description column of the Project panel contains an editable text field that can be used to hold a wide variety of information, such as a content description, or to note intended usage.

1 With the Project panel still expanded to the full size of the screen and active, click the Description column header and drag it to the left. As you drag the column name, a dark highlight appears between each pair of names.

Drag the Description column until this highlight is between the Label and Video In Point columns, and then release it to rearrange the column order.

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You can drag any column title to the left or right to change the arrangement of the Project panel’s columns.

2 You have repositioned the Description column, but there is not enough room in the column to read all the text currently present.

Place your cursor on the dividing line between the Description and Label column headers. When the cursor changes to a double-headed arrow, click and drag to the right to change the width of the Description column and move all the other columns over.

After enlarging the Description column, repeat these steps for the Name column so you can see the full name of each audio and video file. Depending on the screen resolution of your monitor, enlarging the Name field may not be necessary.

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You can quickly edit visually the width of each column directly from the Project panel interface.

3 Locate the clip named Boston-TD You can edit a clip’s Description property any time.

Click in the clip’s description field and replace the current generic description with the following text: Pan from left to right past the sports arena. Press the Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac OS) key on your keyboard to deselect this clip’s text field and automatically select the next clip’s description.

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If you do not want to select the next clip’s description, you can click any empty area of the project panel with your cursor to deselect the active text field.

4 Press the tilde (~) key on your keyboard to return the Project panel to its normal screen size.

5 Choose File > Save or press Ctrl+S (Windows) or Command+S (Mac OS) to save the project file.

In your own projects, you should consider giving each clip in the project panel a unique description. This can include any information you feel is important to your editing process, such as time of day, the subject of the shot, or notes on camera position or movement.

Organizing content by columns

The columns of the project panel are used to control how the different items in the panel display. You can arrange your clips based on the content of any column.

1 In the Project panel, the default organization is alphabetically based on the name. In the case of bins, the bin name is used to arrange all the media it contains. The active panel shows either a downward or upward pointing chevron next to the column header.

2 Click the Column Name to reverse the standard ascending display order and notice how items reverse their display order in the panel and are now displayed in descending order. When working on your own projects, you can choose the order you prefer. For this project, we will place the Travelogue-Boston Sequence at the top of the display.

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The footage display in the Project panel can be based on any currently displayed column. Simply click on any column heading to reorder the footage in the panel.

3 Choose File > Save or press Ctrl+S (Windows) or Command+S (Mac OS) to save the project file.

Choose File > Close Project to close this project and return to the Premiere Pro welcome screen.

Continue to the next Premiere Pro Tutorial: Locating missing media >