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Review: Adobe Premiere Clip

Premiere Clip, Adobe's new iOS editing app, is a simple cut/trim editor, not a full-blown editing app. How useful is it for pro editors who need to do mobile editing on-the-go?

Last fall, Adobe launched a slew of mobile apps, including a mobile video editor: Premiere Clip. The iOS-only application gives users the ability to combine audio, stills, and video on an Apple mobile device. Trimming clips is done with fingers, not mice--by tap, rather than click--and final projects can be exported to several different destinations right from the application. I was sent an Adobe-issued iPad to give this lightweight version of Premiere Pro a spin, so I decided to see how a pro might use it remotely to start a rough cut before returning to the edit bay.

The first thing one must understand about Premiere Clip is that it is not a full-blown NLE. It is meant to be a very simple cut/trim editor, useful for basic pre-edit and rough cut work. For non-professional users, it is a simplified version of Premiere Elements that can be used by families on vacation who like to bring along their iPad or iPhone only. There are few-to-no effects available. The few detail-oriented capabilities of Premiere Clip include basic audio-level adjustment, overall color treatments, and adding music. That said, there are still some useful features available to pros.

Adding Files to a Project

One of the hangups I have with Premiere Clip is obtaining clips for editing. When adding files to a project, you are presented with four options: Camera Roll (already on your iDevice), Creative Cloud folder, Title, or using the device camera to immediately capture. Essentially, this limits the user to either recording directly on the device being used or getting all remote clips into the Creative Cloud folder before they can be accessed.

For my test project, I didn’t want to lug an iPad all over Atlanta, so I opted to shoot on my Moto X instead. Since the Creative Cloud mobile application for Android doesn’t allow uploading video files, I had to let the files sync to my Dropbox account on my Mac at home. When I returned, I uploaded the files a second time to my Creative Cloud folder (Figure 1, below). Only then was I able to access the files in Premiere Clip for editing. Obviously, this is not an elegant solution, but it got the job done without making me look like a goofy tourist shooting video on my iPad.

Figure 1. The Creative Cloud folder on my iPad, loaded with media captured on my Moto X

Importing clips into a project is basically done the same way as in any other NLE application. Premiere Clip is limited to importing one clip at a time since it’s not set up with a bin-like interface. Each clip you import goes directly into your timeline. If you don’t want a clip in your project, it is deleted from the project entirely.

Title Tool

For pros, Premiere Clip’s title tool would be mostly useful for annotating clips or adding placeholders to the timeline. There is no alpha channel support in Premiere Clip, so adding title overlays to video or stills isn’t possible. This can easily be adjusted in Premiere Pro later if desired. For my project, I used a simple white-on-black title to describe the video.

Trimming Clips

Trimming clips in the timeline (Figure 2, below) works more smoothly than I expected. Being used to precise, frame-level editing, I figured trying to use my meaty pointer to tweak a clip’s length to just the right In/Out point would be frustrating. The sliding purple bars responded quite nicely on the iPad’s capacitive surface, making it easy for me to get clips just where I wanted them.

Figure 2. The Premiere Clip timeline

There’s even an overlay of the audio waveform to help you track down offensive audio bugs (Figure 3, below).

Figure 3. Clip trimming and the audio waveform in Premiere Clip

After basic editing, you can choose to add one of a dozen or so pre-loaded music tracks and give the edit a different feel.

Related Articles
In late 2014, Adobe unveiled a mobile editing app called Premiere Clip for iOS--a well-designed and useful app, if not a full-fledged pro editing solution like Premiere Pro. Here we look at the recently introduced Android version to see if it measures up to the iOS app and what, if any, new functionality it introduces.