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Reviewing footage

The greater part of video editing is spent watching or listening to clips and making creative choices about them.

Premiere Pro has multiple ways to perform common tasks, such as playing video clips. You can use the keyboard, click buttons with your pointer, or use an external device like a jog/shuttle controller.

  1. Continue working in the Theft Unexpected bin.

  2. Click the Icon View button at the lower-left corner of the bin, and use the Zoom control to set the thumbnails to a size you are happy with.

  3. Hover your pointer over any of the images in the bin.

    Premiere Pro displays the contents of the clip as you move your pointer. The left edge of the thumbnail represents the beginning of the clip, and the right edge represents the end. In this way, the width of the thumbnail represents the whole clip.

    This is called hover scrubbing.

  4. Select a clip by clicking it once (be careful not to double-click or the clip will open in the Source Monitor). Now, hover scrubbing is turned off.

    While hover scrubbing, a tiny navigator appeared at the bottom of the thumbnail. When the clip is selected, this navigator gets larger, and a small gray playhead appears. Try dragging through the clip using the playhead.

    When a clip is selected, you can use the J, K, and L keys on your keyboard to perform playback, just as you can in the Media Browser.

    • J: Play backward

    • K: Pause

    • L: Play forward

  5. Select a clip, and use the J, K, and L keys to play the video in the thumbnail.

    When you double-click a clip, Premiere Pro displays the clip in the Source Monitor and also adds it to a list of recent clips.

  6. Double-click four or five clips from the Theft Unexpected bin to open them in the Source Monitor.

  7. Open the Source Monitor panel menu to browse your recent clips.

  8. Open the Zoom Level menu at the bottom left of the Source Monitor.


    By default, this is set to Fit, which means Premiere Pro will display the whole frame, regardless of the original size. Change the setting to 100%.

    Your clips will often be higher resolution than the monitors.

    It’s likely scroll bars have appeared at the bottom and on the right of your Source Monitor so you can view different parts of the image. However, if you are working on a very high-resolution screen, it’s possible the image got smaller.

    The benefit of viewing with Zoom set to 100% is that you see every pixel of the original video, which is useful for checking the quality.

  9. Choose Fit from the Zoom Level menu.

Using essential playback controls

Let’s look at the Source Monitor playback controls.

  1. Double-click the shot Excuse Me (not Excuse Me Tilted) in the Theft Unexpected bin to open it in the Source Monitor.

  2. At the bottom of the Source Monitor, you’ll find a blue playhead marker. Drag it along the bottom of the panel to view different parts of the clip. You can also click wherever you want the playhead to go, and it will jump to that spot.

  3. Below the time ruler and its playhead, there’s a scroll bar that doubles as a Zoom control. Drag one end of this scroll bar to zoom in on the time ruler. This will make it easier to navigate longer clips.

  4. Click the Play/Stop button to play the clip. Click it again to stop playback. You can also use the spacebar to start and stop playback.

  5. Click the Step Back 1 Frame and Step Forward 1 Frame buttons to move through the clip one frame at a time. You can also use the Left Arrow and Right Arrow keys on your keyboard.

  6. Try using the J, K, and L keys to play your clip.

  7. Try holding K while you press and release the J or L key. The playhead will move one frame and play associated audio, making it useful when seeking a precise moment in dialogue.

Lowering the playback resolution

If you have an older or slower computer processor or are working with RAW media with large frame sizes, such as Ultra High-Definition (UHD, 4K, 8K, or above), your computer may struggle to play all the frames of your video clips. Clips will play with the correct timing (so 10 seconds of video will still take 10 seconds), but some frames may not be displayed.

To work with a wide variety of computer hardware configurations, from powerful desktop workstations to lightweight portable laptops, Premiere Pro can lower the playback resolution to make playback smoother.


There are separate menus in the Source Monitor and Program Monitor to set the playback resolution. The default resolution is 1/2.

You can switch the playback resolution as often as you like, using the Select Playback Resolution menu on the Source Monitor and Program Monitor panels.

Some lower resolutions are available only when working with particular media types. For other media types, the work of converting the image to lower resolution might be more than the work saved by not playing full resolution because not all codecs can be played back at a lower resolution efficiently. In that case, some resolutions will be dimmed and unavailable.

Getting timecode information

At the bottom left of the Source Monitor, a timecode display in blue shows the current position of the playhead in hours, minutes, seconds, and frames (00:00:00:00), according to the clip’s timecode. For example, 01:54:08:05 is 1 hour, 54 minutes, 8 seconds, and 5 frames.


Clip timecode will rarely begin at 00:00:00:00, so you should not count on this number to assess the duration of a clip.


At the bottom right of the Source Monitor, a timecode display in light gray shows the duration of your clip.

By default, this shows the whole clip duration, but later you’ll add special In and Out marks to make a partial selection. When you do, that duration shown will change accordingly.

In and Out marks are simple to use: Click the Mark In button f0099-03.jpg to set the beginning of the part of a clip you want to use, and click the Mark Out button f0099-04.jpg to set the end of the part of a clip you want. You’ll learn more about this in Lesson 5, “Mastering the Essentials of Video Editing.”

Displaying safe margins

Television monitors often crop the edges of the picture to achieve a clean edge. Open the Settings menu at the bottom of the Source Monitor f0099-05.jpg, and choose Safe Margins to display useful white outlines over the image.

The outer box is the action-safe zone. Aim to keep important action inside this box so that when the picture is displayed, edge cropping does not hide what’s going on.

The inner box is the title-safe zone. Keep titles and graphics inside this box so that even on a badly adjusted display, your audience will be able to read the words.

Premiere Pro also has advanced overlay options that can be configured to display useful information in the Source Monitor and Program Monitor. To enable or disable overlays, open the monitor’s Settings menu f0100-01.jpg and choose Overlays.

You can access the specific settings for overlays and safe margins by clicking the monitor’s Settings menu and choosing Overlay Settings > Settings.

You can disable Safe Margins or Overlays by choosing them from the Source Monitor or Program Monitor’s Settings menu again. Do so now so you can see the image clearly.

Customizing the monitors

To customize the way a monitor displays video, open each monitor’s Settings menu f0100-02.jpg.

The Source Monitor and Program Monitor have similar options. In the Source Monitor, you can view the waveform of the audio in the clip, which shows amplitude over time (useful if you are searching for a particular sound or the start of a word).

Make sure Composite Video is chosen from the Source Monitor and Program Monitor Settings menus for now.

You can quickly switch between viewing the clip audio waveform and the video by clicking Drag Video Only f0100-03.jpg or Drag Audio Only f0100-04.jpg, just under the video display.

These icons are mainly used to drag only the video or only the audio part of a clip into a sequence, but they also provide this useful shortcut to view the audio waveform.

You can add, move, or remove buttons at the bottom of the Source Monitor and Program Monitor. Note that any customizations you make to the buttons on one of the monitor panels are applied only to that panel.

  1. Click the Button Editor f0100-05.jpg at the bottom right of the Source Monitor.

    The complete set of available buttons appears on a floating panel.

  2. Drag the Loop Playback button f0101-01.jpg from the floating panel to a spot to the right of the Play button on the Source Monitor (the other buttons will automatically make space for it), and click OK to close the Button Editor.

  3. Double-click the Excuse Me clip in the Theft Unexpected bin to open it in the Source Monitor if it isn’t open already.

  4. Click the Loop Playback button you added to enable it.

  5. Click the Play button to play the clip. Play the video using the spacebar or the Play button on the Source Monitor. Stop the playback when you’ve seen the video start again.

    With Loop turned on, Premiere Pro continuously repeats playback of a clip or sequence. If there are In and Out marks set, playback loops between them. This is a great way to review a section of a clip.

  6. Click the Step Back 1 Frame f0101-03.jpg and Step Forward 1 Frame f0101-04.jpg buttons to move through the clip one frame at a time. You can also use the Left Arrow and Right Arrow keys on your keyboard.

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