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September 6, 2012
Premiere ProVideo Editing

Organizing Your Premiere Pro Project

Organizing your video editing project is key to an efficient edit.  In this post we’ll take a look at a few ways to organize footage and assets in Premiere Pro for editing success.

Adobe Premiere Pro Tutorial

Importing assets (video, audio, pictures, PSDs, image sequences, titles etc) into Adobe Premiere Pro projects is a simple task that can be done with the keyboard shortcut Control + I (on a PC) and Command + I (on a Mac).  You can also get media into your project with a quick double-click in the grey area of the project panel.  Importing is easy.  The hard part is keeping your video editing assets organized once they’re in the project!

Shortcut for importing in Premiere Pro (Mac)

Import Shortcut Premiere Pro

The first thing that needs to be said is – slow down!  Don’t rush to grab everything in a hurry and dump it in your Premiere Pro project panel and start flinging things into your timeline.  This reckless speed at the front end will cost you precious time on the back end.  Instead, take a moment to think about what you’re going to be adding to your project and where you want to keep those assets so that you can easily find them later.

This calls for ‘BINS’ – this is video editing language for ‘FOLDERS’ – and they can easily be created in Premiere Pro by either choosing FILE > NEW > BIN (make sure you have the project panel selected or else the ‘BIN’ option will be greyed out) or by clicking this icon at the bottom of the project panel.

BIN Icon


Once a BIN has been created you should always rename it so that it’s completely clear what you will keep inside it:

Renamed Bins - Adobe Premiere Pro

Now to the important issue of opening and navigating bins in Premiere Pro.

Probably your first impulse is simply to double-click on the bin, hoping that it will open in place. However, what you find instead is that the bin (annoyingly in my mind) has a default behaviour of opening up in a floating window.

Floating BIN Window


However, we can change the default setting in the Premiere Pro preferences. So, on a Mac go to Premiere Pro > Preferences > General or on a PC go to Edit > Preferences > General and look at the following section towards the bottom of the page:

BIN Preferences


As you can probably see, I have already changed the behavior of the ‘Double-click:’ from ‘Open in new window’ to ‘Open in place’.  I’ve also modified the +Ctrl shortcut (+Cmd on a Mac) to ‘Open in new window’. What this means is that when I double-click on any bin it will open in place but if I really want a floating window I can then choose to hold Ctrl/Cmd while double-clicking to get that.

Also note that Alt + Double-click will open the bin up in another tab in the project panel:

BIN in new tab


You can also change the order of these tabs simply by clicking on any tab and dragging it to another place as shown below:

Re-ordered Tab


OK, so now you’ve changed your Premiere Pro preferences so that bins open in the project panel and you’ve added assets to the open bin.  Now you want to get back to the main project panel with all your bins in it but you can’t see how!  To navigate back you need to use the icon shown below:

Navigate Back Up One level Icon


Some of the typical bins you will need for a basic project are as shown below. However, you may find it useful to create bins inside existing bins (for even better video editing organization!)  To do so, select a bin and hit that new bin icon again and a bin will be ‘nested’ or put inside of the bin you’ve selected.  For example, you may have a ‘Pics’ bin for your pictures but also want another bin inside it for your PSDs. You can see this more clearly if you look at your BIN structure using the ‘List View’ as shown below:

Nested Bins in List View


If you accidentally create a bin in the wrong place don’t worry because you can click on any bin and drag it in and out of any other bin.  The bin will move with all its contents to wherever you decide it should be.

In Premiere Pro you can import items directly into a bin.  To do so, simply open a bin and choose the standard import methods (as referenced above).  The items will automatically be imported into the open bin.  This can save a lot of time when organizing your Premiere Pro project.  Create bins specifically for your sequences to keep them organized and all in one place.

A Word About Video Editing Organization

Video Editing OrganizationAlways give your media assets names that mean something to you. With lots of tapeless formats available today, you may receive files with very technical and non-descriptive titles.  In Premiere Pro you can rename any asset with a name that means something to you, without losing or changing the original item.

Premiere Pro creates a link to the original asset on your hard drive and allows you to change the name of the file in the app without changing the asset. So, if you change a name from ‘Clip 001′ to ‘Tide coming in – early morning’ Premiere Pro will still always play ‘Clip 001′ on your hard drive every time you see ‘Tide coming in – early morning’ in your timeline/project panel/source monitor etc.

Names matter and a good naming convention will save you or someone else working on your project a lot of unnecessary headaches further down the line!  If you’re looking for more tips on naming see our previous post on File Naming for Video Editors, Designer & Photographers.

Start off by thinking about what your organizational gameplan from the start and do your best to maintain it throughout your post production workflow.  One way to simply your folder organization is to create a template project - an empty Premiere Pro project with all the bins you typically need.  Then, next time you need to start a new project simply open your template project with all the bins already created – do a FILE > SAVE AS and give it the name of your new project.  This will save you a bit of time!

Share your tips for video editing organization in the comments!

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  • Casey Simpson

    thank you so much for this very helpful post

  • Pingback: The making of “Waiting for Lightning”: recording and notes from seminar with Jacob Rosenberg « Premiere Pro work area

  • Michael Cox

    This is a very useful post, but I need help even “deeper” into the application. Specifically, I have an absolute dog’s breakfast of files and folders and subfolders and sub-sub folders full of prproj and pkf and wav and whatnot files, I can’t find a thing anymore, I’m dug in so deep in this three hour project with 80 some hours of video and God only knows how many versions of these sequences, it’s embarrassing and I have made a solemn oath that I will not start a new project until I absolutely have an ironclad, foolproof, idiot proof naming system and filing system not only for original media but also for all this…it begins with s.

    Can you offer some creative, positive help? I mean, something beyond what my shrink can do for me? Please reply mjscox at gmail dot com thanks.

    • Joseph Valenti

      I’ve attached a bin template of what I currently use for FCP, Premiere and Avid. A very experienced producer/editor named Mick Dog (nickname) showed this to me. My default project is in this bin structure and I manage my media the same way. It makes a world of difference when multiple editors are jumping in and out of the project. Good luck. And remember: Change is Good!

      • Christian

        Thank you that’s very helpful. Just wondering if you could clarify on the bottom 3 folders : I can guess but if you could explain ‘MASTERS / Source Files / Thumbs’ ?

        • Joseph Valenti

          Source Files: docs, PDF with notes, random notes, excel sheets or maybe signed model releases.
          MASTERS: High res master export with date. Usually a 1920×1080 pro res or a 50MB .mxf for broadcast.
          Thumbs: video thumbnails for web.

          Since I’ve posted this I’ve changed my ‘Capture Scratch’ folder to ‘Media’. Feel free to follow up with any other questions.

  • rusticb

    I have a quick question.. do you guys know of any tutorials on “best practices” as far as timeline organization? As in which tracks should you keep your main video and audio clips? (ex. A1 – Dialogue, A2 – SFX, A3 – Music). I’m about to hire some editors for a project and was wondering if there was any resource I could refer them to in order to have their final project organization make sense before going into color correction and final sound mixing…

  • Layne

    I would like to know the answer to Michael Cox’s request.

  • QJNM

    Hello! I’ve been cutting up source clips into many pieces and have renamed each piece. Is there a way to get these pieces into a bin, as well as the one source file? I have cut up hours of interviews into literally thousands of renamed pieces, and was wondering if premiere has a way to find them that is faster than scrolling through the entire sequences. The search tool does not recognise renamed clips either.

  • Pingback: The making of “Waiting for Lightning”: recording and notes from seminar with Jacob Rosenberg | Premiere Pro work area

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