How to Import Video into Adobe Premiere Pro (Part Two): Project Settings

In Part One we looked at how to set up a hard drive and folder system for Adobe Premiere Pro. We also looked at the two fundamental ways in which to import clips into the NLE.

Exclusive Bonus: Download my free guide (with examples) on how to find the best camera angles for dialogue scenes when your mind goes blank.

In this part, we’ll look at how to choose the right project settings, and how to set up your scratch disk.
Adobe Premiere Pro GUI

Project Settings

One of the questions asked the most is: Should my project settings correspond to my final delivery or the source footage?

E.g., if you’ve shot 1080p, but want to deliver the file as 720p, should your project be in 1080p or 720p? The same can be said of frame rates, field rates, interlacing, color and so on.

The answer is simple. Your project should correspond to your source footage.

Sometimes, you have more than one kind of source footage (different resolutions, frame rates, codecs, whatever). In that case, I recommend the following methodology:

  • Choose the A-cam and use its settings. If you don’t have that information, then
  • Choose the ‘most important’ footage (points of view) and use that information. If you can’t tell, then
  • Choose the footage which has a clear lead in overall footage time. E.g., if you have 5 hours of footage, and Camera 1 has shot 2/3rds of it, then choose that. If you still can’t make a decision, then
  • Choose the footage that has the best resolution and/or color. This is tricky, SO when in doubt, choose the last option:
  • Choose the delivery format and get it over with.

99% of the time, you should be able to get your answer within the first two points above.

Presets or Custom Settings?

Now that you’ve established the source settings for your project, you can choose them from the menu presented as soon as you click New Project.

The desired project setting will be found among the presets presented to you. If you’re having trouble with it, don’t select anything. Hit ‘Cancel’, and import your footage as explained in Part One.

Once your footage is in the Project Window, right click (for Windows) or go to File>New> and choose New Sequence from Clip. A new sequence will be formed, with the settings of your source footage. It couldn’t be simpler.

However, there are instances in which you might have ‘odd’ source formats, like vertical video, for example:
New Sequence Settings
You might have shot video vertically, or it might be a still image sequence or whatever. Adobe allows you to choose your aspect ratio, no matter what.

The maximum frame rate allowed is 60p, and the minimum is 10 fps. If you’re shooting high-speed, then you will need to conform to one of the ‘established’ frame rates.

Video Previews

The size of the video preview is important. The higher the resolution, the more the rendering. Editing does not need maximum color or render quality. However, there are instances where it is important. E.g., if you’re finishing and editing on the go, with a reference monitor connected to your system, you might want to maximize color bit depth. Adobe Premiere Pro supports a maximum of 10-bit color depth per pixel.

It supports 16-bit image files, but can’t display more than 10-bits. Why should it, since there are very few monitors on this planet that can display more than 10-bit?

What size to choose? Simple. Choose the lowest size that doesn’t interfere with your creativity. As far as codecs are concerned, keep the defaults unless you have strong reason not to.

Why is this setting important? If you select a lower resolution than your source footage, and you select a playback resolution of 1/2, say, then your actual resolution is less than 1/2. In Adobe’s on words:

If your previews are rendered at a resolution below the sequence resolution, the playback resolution is actually a fraction of the preview resolution. For example, you can set your preview files to render at 1/2 the sequence frame size (1/2 resolution) and your playback resolution to 1/2 resolution. The rendered previews play back at 1/4 of original resolution (assuming that the resolution of the original media matched the sequence resolution).

If you don’t want the headache, then choose a preview resolution similar to your source footage format. However, make sure your computer can handle the additional rendering.

One oddity you’ll notice is that the video preview doesn’t give you the option of oddball aspect ratios. This is probably because they are based on established codecs and formats.

The Project File

Next, you will come across this box:

Premiere Pro New Project Settings

If you have an Adobe-certified GPU, you will have the option of ‘Mercury Playback Engine Hardware’. Otherwise, you’ll have to do with the ‘Software’ version. If you have a choice, always choose the hardware version.

Next you’ll need to choose where your project file will be saved.

A project file will have the extension: *.prproj. Where should you save your projects? Good question. Here’s Adobe’s answer:

Note: Whenever possible, specify a location and name that you won’t have to change later. By default, Premiere Pro stores rendered previews, conformed audio files, and captured audio and video in the folder where you store the project. Moving a project file later may require moving its associated files as well.

I used to save these files in my C Drive (where the OS and Premiere Pro resided). After a while, I realized there were too many project files and it was difficult to tell which was which. The second choice is the Scratch Drive (or Cache/Page/Temporary Drive). For similar reasons, this is to be avoided.

Obviously, I won’t be writing project files on the source footage drive, which only leaves one last drive – the Export Drive. This is the drive that is in charge of receiving my final master when rendered. It makes sense, each master is accompanied by its project files, which makes backup and archival easier.

Regarding naming of projects, everyone has their own style. I prefer to name projects in this format:

NAMEddmmyyvA.B

where NAME is the name, ddmmyy is the date the project was created, and A and B are numbers that designate the saved version. The file name might look like TranscodersTheReturnofHDV120313v1.2.

After I make changes, I always Save As… to a different version (You can also use Save a Copy…).

Generally, I try to at least keep the last five versions. Sometimes, project files get corrupted, so this is ALWAYS a good idea, no matter how small your project. I will also backup my work daily. There is no excuse if you shirk this responsibility.

The Scratch Disk

The second tab in the above box specifies which drive to use as a Scratch drive. This is where Adobe Premiere Pro stores all the rendered material for temporary usage. This drive is entirely separate and needs to have excellent read and write speeds (Refer to the layout shown in Part One). Ideally, this drive should be a Pro or Enterprise level SSD with proven ability.

Note: By default, the scratch disk is assigned to the drive the project files rest in. Don’t forget to change it if you have an additional drive. Even a USB thumb/portable drive might offer better performance. If you don’t like things sticking out, use an SD/CF card, but these tend to be slower.

The size of the Scratch drive is important. The larger your data rate, the bigger this drive needs to be. I think 128 GB for anything less than 150 MB/s is all right. If you need to go over this and need real-time performance, you might want to consider a RAID 0 system as a scratch drive.

Don’t forget that your preview settings will also play a role here.

For Laptop Users: If you’re stuck on a laptop, try to get one with an SSD, or two physical drives. If it’s just one drive, use it for the OS and Apps. Connect your source footage drive via USB 3.0, Thunderbolt or eSATA. Use another port to connect a high quality thumb drive (ideally 64 GB or more) for your scratch disk. If that’s too much trouble use an SD/CF Card. I recommend Sandisk Extreme. When it’s time for final render, you can connect a third drive. Work in such a way that if your laptop crashed RIGHT NOW, all the important files are in external drives that can be taken to a different machine immediately. You’ll also have backups on your OS drive.

In Part Three, we’ll look at how to import each major codec type. We’ll also look at some common errors and glitches, and how to troubleshoot them.

Exclusive Bonus: Download my free guide (with examples) on how to find the best camera angles for dialogue scenes when your mind goes blank.

12 replies on “How to Import Video into Adobe Premiere Pro (Part Two): Project Settings”

  1. Sareesh,

    Thank you for the work.
    you wrote:
    “What size to choose? Simple. Choose the lowest size that doesn’t interfere with your creativity.”

    Can you offer some guidelines this point?

    you wrote:
    “If you don’t want the headache, then choose a preview resolution similar to your source footage format. However, make sure your computer can handle the additional rendering.”

    How do I determine whether my computer can ‘handle’ the rendering? Does that mean just be sure it can execute the render, or is this a matter of damaging the system by overloading it?

    thanks

  2. Hi Sareesh,
    like in the AE tutorials should the “Media Cache Files” go on the Scratch Disk and the “Media Cache Database” go on the Source Footage Drive? 

    Thanks

  3. Hi Sareesh,

    I didn’t quite get why shouldn’t i put the Scratch Disk and Project folder and Cache folder on one fast SSD?
    this are all stuff that needs read and write during work and they are all temporary aren’t they?

    Eli

  4. gotosb I don’t have experience with the Z5 so I can only offer some guesses:
    1. Did you copy the entire contents of the media?
    2. Do you have the right codec installed?
    3. Try restarting your computer and start a completely new project.

  5. Hi Sareesh,
    Every time I try to import mpeg files (shot on sony z5 using a card recorder) into premiere pro 6 it gives me an error (The importer reported a generic error) You have any suggestion? I wont really prefer converting all the footage to another format because there is a lot.

    Thanx in advance

    Soumitra

  6. Hi Sareesh,
    I have a newbie problem, could you please help me with it?
    I have some shooted video with GoPro 2 (720p 60f without converting) and now I trying to study how to use adobe app’s with it
    The AVCHD 720p60 preset is used in Premier Pro, my config: i7 3770, 16gb 1666mhz, ssd 256, gtx 660 (Mercury Playback Engine Hardware is enabled)
    My Timeline Color always in yellow – what can I do to improve it to green? Should I use another preset? Or should I convert video before editing ? Maybe upgrade can help me ?
    Thank you in advance!
    Roman

    1. Roman K Yellow is no problem. If it plays back without stuttering, which it should, you will be okay. Green is only for rendered footage – best is if there is no color.
      Yellow is okay. Start editing!

      1. Sareesh Sudhakaran also the color changes to red if I using the “Replace with AEC”. So this is okay too ?

        1. Roman K After Effects compositions always have to be rendered, which you can do in AE itself. The rendered files are stored temporarily so once you bring it into Premiere Pro it should show green.
          If you make additional changes, including editing, then it will become red again. This is normal behavior, nothing to worry about.

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