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Supported File Types

Clients throw everything at us. It’s rare that they understand that certain formats aren’t optimized for video editing. In their heads, video is video, photos are photos, and audio is audio regardless of where it came from.

It’s always best to work with the least compressed file type, with the XDCAM files instead of the Flash file that was posted to the Web, and with the TIFF rather than the JPEG from your client’s smartphone. Realistically, we don’t always get these choices. Fortunately, Adobe Premiere Pro handles almost everything.

You can find the full list of supported formats at

For all supported formats, remember that they’re imports, not captured footage. Adobe Premiere Pro merely links to them. If you move them (or eject the card), you’ll no longer have access to the footage (it’ll then be offline). You need to copy or clone the desired media to your media folder at the operating system level.

Footage Files

Adobe prides itself on keeping up with the latest changes in camera technology in Adobe Premiere Pro. As such, you’ll often see “dot” updates available that add support for new cameras. You can find the full list of supported formats at These formats can be read by Adobe Premiere Pro, providing access to their metadata. Some manufacturers provide drivers to mount their material on your system. Some also have their own players or utilities that allow you to examine the footage, assign card names, and adjust metadata. We strongly suggest you visit your manufacturer’s Web page and stay abreast of the latest information for your camera.

The major tapeless formats supported by Adobe Premiere Pro include the following:

  • Any DSLR camera that shoots H.264 directly into QuickTime
  • Panasonic P2
  • XDCAM (disc based or card based)
  • Sony HDV (when shot on removable media)
  • AVCHD cameras
  • Canon XF
  • AVC-Intra Frame (50/100 Mbs)

Graphics Files

Adobe Photoshop is a graphics tool used by 98 percent of all video editors. Fortunately, Adobe has also integrated a lot of its image-handling features into Adobe Premiere Pro. You can import most formats, including JPEG, TIFF, PNG, and PSD files.

With that said, here are a few key points to keep in mind when importing graphics into Adobe Premiere Pro:

  • PDF files won’t work. Perhaps it’s because PDF files span multiple pages that they won’t work. It’s a concept that just doesn’t make any sense in the video world. You can open a PDF in Photoshop and crop or extract images.
  • Develop DNG/Camera Raw files. You should process any raw still images using Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop. We recommend developing and saving 16-bit TIFF files.
  • Stick to RGB. Make sure your graphics are in RGB mode. In Photoshop, choose Image > Mode > RGB. In Adobe Illustrator, choose File > Document Color Mode > RGB. CMYK and even grayscale will cause weird color shifts or even incompatibility. Keep in mind that Adobe Illustrator files will be flattened.
  • Go big if you want. Unlike other editing tools, which may limit their graphics to 4 KB, you’ll have greater range in Adobe Premiere Pro. The maximum still or movie image frame size that can be imported is 256 megapixels. There’s also a maximum dimension of 32,768 pixels in either direction. Of course, keep in mind that bigger images use more RAM and need faster disk speeds to display.

Photoshop (.psd) files

One of the best features that illustrates how well the Adobe family communicates is the ability to import a layered Photoshop file into Adobe Premiere Pro (a workflow we explore in Chapter 12, “Essential Effects”). When you import a layered Photoshop file, the dialog in Figure 4.17 appears. Here you have four choices; each gives you a slightly different result.

Figure 4.17

Figure 4.17. The Photoshop Import dialog. Good naming conventions in Photoshop equals ease of knowing what to import to Adobe Premiere Pro.

  • Merge All Layers. This option brings in a single file and merges the layers based on what was visible when the file was saved in Photoshop. The new file will occupy one track in your Timeline panel.
  • Merged Layers. This option allows you to bring in a single merged file. You can choose which layers you want to be visible. The new file also occupies only a single track.
  • Individual Layers. This option lets you bring in each layer as an individual file. You can choose which layers you want to import.
  • Sequence. This option is similar to the Individual Layers option. The difference is that you get a sequence that matches the Photoshop file’s appearance. This makes it easy to animate layers with keyframes (see Chapter 12). You can place the sequence as a nested item inside another sequence.

If at any point you want to force a graphic to update in Photoshop (such as to adjust exposure or use the Clone Stamp tool to remove something), it’s easy. Select the clip in your sequence or Project panel and choose Edit > Edit in Photoshop.

Illustrator (.ai) files

Unlike Photoshop, Illustrator stores most graphics as mathematical vectors. The benefit is infinite scaling to size for specific applications, such as when printing or when working with vectors in After Effects. No matter how much a vector file is scaled up or down, the graphic remains crisp in Illustrator (or After Effects).

When you import a vector graphic from Illustrator into Adobe Premiere Pro, it will rasterize (be converted to pixels). If you scale it larger, the image will become pixelated. An Illustrator file comes across only as a “flattened” item—all the layers are combined.

If you intend on scaling up the graphics more than 125 percent, it’s best to open them in Illustrator and adjust the scale there. Simply choose Edit > Edit Original from within Adobe Premiere Pro to open the vector file. When you’re finished, close the file and save your changes. The linked file will update within Adobe Premiere Pro.

Audio Files

Pretty much every audio format you’ll encounter will work in Adobe Premiere Pro. You can toss in MP3, AAC (MP4), WAV, and AIFF. With that said, it is far better to work with uncompressed audio files. Otherwise, you’ll be forcing your system to work harder than necessary, which can lead to dropped frames and drifting sync during playback.

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