We get it, sifting through footage might be the most glamourous part of the editing job. You need to watch dozens of clips, possibly MULTIPLE hours of footage, and be expecting to take the best of everything and condense it down into a visually captivating story. This part of the job might not be the most fun part, but it’s certainly a VERY crucial one.
During the selection phase, you need to make sure you are finding all the best moments in order to have the best material to work with when it’s time to start assembling. But it becomes a drag when you have to constantly have to cut and delete and move and trim. So how does one make this as painless a process as possible?
The answer is quite simple…
Hotkeys (or keyboard shortcuts) can VASTLY speed up this process by taking actions which might require multiple clicks, and condensing them into a single button!
In fact, my method doesn’t require ANY clicks (at least after the footage is in the timeline) and can get you through the selection process much more efficiently.
Let’s get into how I conduct my selection process when prepping footage for a project in Premiere Pro!
BRING ALL CLIPS INTO ONE TIMELINE
The framerate of these clips will not matter because this isn’t going to be your project timeline. you can call this timeline “SELECTS.” Now it’s time to start watching the footage and trimming the fat!
USE THE “JKL” KEYS TO SHUFFLE
These keys are your shuffle keys. They are gonna be moving your playhead along the timeline as you watch your footage. J will move backwards, K will stop the playhead, and L will move forwards. I personally never use K and opt to use the spacebar instead.
You can also hit J or L multiple times to speed through footage faster.
Q - Ripple Trim to Previous Clip
A ripple is a gap between between two clips. The long way of getting rid of ripples would be to use the blade tool, add a cut to the clip, delete that cut, then drag that clip back to the end of the previous clip.
ORRRRR, hit Q to do everything at once
W - Ripple Trim to Next Clip
W does the same thing, but it deletes everything after the playhead instead of before, and brings all clips down the timeline back to it.
This is where you can start selecting your moments. Move your playhead to where you see a moment you’ll want to keep in the edit. Hit Q to delete everything before that moment. Move your playhead to where you believe that moment ends, then hit W to delete everything after that moment.
C - Add Edit
Sometimes the clip is long and there may be several other moments in one clip. That’s where Add Edit comes in! By default, this action is set to CTRL/CMD + K. But we like simplicity and so I have my add edit set to C. After I have a moment selected from the clip, and I want to see what other moments are remaining, I’ll hit C instead of W to mark the end of that moment. Then I’ll continue moving down the rest of the clip until I find my next moment. From there, I repeat the process and hit Q to delete everything before that moment.
DEL - Ripple Delete
This one is pretty simple, set your DELETE key to “Ripple Delete” to delete an entire clip and bring your timeline to the playhead. You’ll want to make sure you have “Selection Follows Playhead” turned on for this to work. You can find that under the “Sequence” drop down menu.
FINALLY, if there’s a moment that I really like that I FOR SURE will want to include in the final edit, I’ll select that clip and hit ALT + UP to nudge that clip up one layer. That way, when I look at my timeline as a whole, I can see where those key moments are for my editing.
I’ve seen several different variations of shortcuts for different editors. For example, someone would rather have their “Add Edit” key set to E instead of C so that their pointer finger doesn’t have to travel as far for the cut. Remember that at the end of the day, the goal is to have a set up and best fits YOU!