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Storyboard Editing Tricks in Adobe Premiere Pro

Editing a rough cut in Premiere Pro (or any NLE) can be a slow and laborious process, particularly if you have been tucking your footage in all sorts of different Bins, and even Bins within Bins. A lot of "to-ing" and "fro-ing" between them looking for the next shot. Of course because this is just a rough cut, it's highly likely that the shot order on the timeline is not the right one and needs to be changed. Thus rendering much of the previous to-ing and fro-ing as pointless. A waste of your valuable time and energy, don’t you think?

So why not try something a little more efficient instead, like this technique I’m about to show you called Storyboard Editing. It’s called that, as you will soon see, because it's akin to developing a storyboard with your footage, so you get the shot structure right, before you edit to the timeline. It's a huge timesaver, and generates more time and opportunity to experiment with the storyline. 

Step 1 - Mark an in and Out point on your first shot

Load your first clip from the Project window into the Source monitor and use J, K and L to find the potential in point. Mark in by pressing I. Then use J,K and L again to find an out point and press O to mark it. 

In and out set

In and out set

Step 2 - Create a Subclip

With the clip now marked choose Clip > Make Subclip...  to turn this marked area into a subclip (subclips are references to the marked section of media that will appear in the Project window as a fixed clip even after the original in and out points have been removed or reset. They do not create new versions of the original media). 

Name subclip

Name subclip

For this exercise name the Subclip *Clip 1 (the "*" before the "C" is important as it will keep all the subclips together in Alphabetical order in the Project Windows list view). 

Step 3 - Make more Subclips

Repeat Steps 1 and 2 until you have at least 4 or 5 subclips created. 

Lots of subs

Lots of subs

Step 4 - Make a new Bin

Press Command-/ to create a new Bin in the Project window and name the Bin “Subclips”.

Subclips Bin

Subclips Bin

Step 5 - Move Sublips to the Subclips Bin

Select all the Subclips you created in steps 2 and 3 and drag then to the bin named Subclips, so they appear inside that bin. 

Subclips in bin

Subclips in bin

Step 6 - Open the Subclips Bin

In order to facilitate the storyboard edit, we need to be able to work in the Subclips Bin on its own, so press and hold Command and double-click on the Subclips Bin Icon. 

Subclips bin open

Subclips bin open

This opens the Subclips Bin as a Tab in the Project Window. As we moved all the Subclips into this bin, the only clips that are visible to us are the subclips. We have got rid, from our view, of all the clutter of clips we are not using. 

Step 7 - Switch to Icon View

The list view won't work for us now, as it will always keep these shots in some kind of order based on Data. Press Command-Page Up to switch the bin to Icon View. 

Icon view

Icon view

Use the Panels fly-out menu to set the Thumbnails size to Large; this will make it easier to see the clips. 

Step 8 - Storyboard

The Panel is a little small, so to temporarily enlarge it to full screen, press ~. Then start dragging the *Clip 1, *Clip 2 clips into an order that best tells the story. Just like a storyboard, with the first shot at the left and the last shot at the right. 



A black line will highlight the areas a clip can be dropped into as you drag. 

Step 9 - Automate to Sequence

In the Timeline, place your playhead at the position you want to edit these clips to, then select all the clips in the storyboard. 

Automate to timeline

Automate to Timeline

Click on the Automate to Timeline button at the foot of the Project window and a pop-up window appears with some options: 

Order Options

Order Options

Choose to set the ordering to Sort Order as you have already sorted the clips into order. As it is the first edit to my sequence it doesn’t matter which method I use. However you might need to choose Insert or Overlay depending on what you're editing. Unless you planned to add them in, switch off any transitions and press OK.

Step 10 - View the Sequence

The clips are added into the sequence in the order you created in the Subclips Bin, and lots of time is saved. 


The Timeline

The real beauty now is that you can go back to the Bin and try a different order of clips to see if it might work better. It's so easy to keep trying different options now. 

Try it on one of your own edits, with more footage. It's a really great workflow. 

David Smith

David Smith | Articles by this author

David Smith is Scotland's most qualified Apple and Adobe certified trainer. Having completed his education at Edinburgh College of Art's BAFTA winning Film School, David moved straight into TV production, first as a Vision Mixer then quickly becoming, at the age of just 24, a director of live TV studio productions. In 2001 he moved into Higher Education where he became a lecturer in TV Production, specializing in post-production and live studio production. During this time, and working with the support of the BBC, Channel 4 and independent production companies, David was instrumental in the design, development and implementation of industry-approved vocational courses across Scotland's Colleges. In 2006, after working closely with Apple Computers to create a unique multimedia studio for education at the Music and Media Centre in Perth, David became Scotland's first Apple-Certified Trainer for Pro Apps. This led on to David forming the first Apple Authorized Training Centre for Education, north of Manchester. In 2008 David made the move to full time training and joined the ranks at Academy Class, Ltd. where he continues to train industry professionals as a certified trainer across the Adobe Creative Suite and Apple Pro Apps range.


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