How Video Editing Works

Editing a Video: Capture and Clips

The Capture dialog from Adobe Premiere

After you shoot raw footage with your camera, you need to load that footage into your computer. To do this, connect your camera to your computer with a FireWire cable. Select the Capture... option in the File menu of Adobe Premiere. You will see a window like this:

The controls at the bottom of the Capture dialog let you control your camera. You can rewind, fast forward and play. Typically, what you would do is:


  • Hit the Rewind button in the dialog to rewind the tape in the camera.
  • Hit the Play button in the dialog to start playing the tape.
  • Hit the red Record button to start capturing the footage onto your hard disk.
  • When the footage is done playing/recording, hit the Stop button. Premiere will ask you for the file name that you want to use for this footage.

You can either capture all of your footage in one big file, or your can capture it in a number of smaller files. (Note that some operating systems and video editing software packages limit file size to 2 gigabytes. Other packages limit file size to 30 minutes. You also need to make sure that you have enough free disk space to hold all the captured footage.)

Premiere will create AVI (on the PC) or MOV (on the Mac) files on your hard disk at a rate of about 1 gigabyte per three minutes of raw footage.

As an example, look at this piece of raw footage from the zoo:

  • A cougar

The footage is 35 seconds long, and the AVI file that Premiere created when it captured the footage is 130 megabytes. We've converted the raw footage into an MPG file so that you can view it on the Web. It is typical "raw footage" with all sorts of debris and problems that you find in most raw footage. In the next section, we'll see how to clip out one usable piece from the raw footage.


Let's take the shot of the cougar from the previous section as an example . It's a decent shot of a cougar lying on the ground for 30 seconds. In the middle of the shot the cougar yawns. Let's say that you would like to clip out the yawn and use it in your movie. To do this, take the following steps:

  • You first need to "import" the file containing the raw footage into the current project so that Premiere can use it. If you captured the footage in Premiere, then it was imported automatically. If not, choose Import... from the File menu and locate the AVI or MOV file you wish to add to the project. Adobe uses the concept of a "bin" to hold AVI and MOV files. A bin is like a folder -- it is just a collection of files. In complicated projects, you may have several bins that store different types of footage. Here's what you'll see after you import the footage: This project area has had five AVI files imported into one bin. One AVI file contains a cougar, the next an elephant, and so on.
  • Drag the cougar file from the Project window into the Source window.
  • Play it in the Source window to see what you've got by pushing the Play button.
  • Mark the IN and OUT points for a clip you want to use in the Source window.

There are several ways to mark the IN and OUT points. As you are playing the video, probably the easiest way is to hit the I and O keys on the keyboard when you see the IN and OUT points. Once you rough them in, you can fine-tune them with the mouse by dragging them.

Now that you have selected a clip, you can add it to the timeline.