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Tutorial: Multitouch Editing in Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2015

Premiere Pro CC has harnessed the power of multitouch gestures for a variety of editing functions. Let's look at some of the ways you can be a more efficient editor with multitouch.

Most of the Adobe Creative Cloud applications have offered some sort of multitouch input for several versions, but a few weeks ago Adobe took these capabilities to the next level. Pinch to zoom, multi-finger scrolling and multi-finger rotation have been featured in Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and After Effects already, but with the increasing popularity of tablet computers, Adobe has added more advanced features that are exclusive to touch input devices.

Video editors are a unique breed. They usually have very particular tastes when it comes to input and interaction methods. Some prefer a trackball mouse; some prefer large trackpads. Others swear by a good mouse; others can seemingly use Jedi mind tricks by editing almost exclusively by keyboard shortcut.

Years ago, I developed my own unique editing input style by simultaneously using a trackpad and mouse along with occasional keyboard use. Part of this was out of necessity. At the time, I was confined to a small desk and didn’t have the real estate to move my mouse very far. I primarily used the trackpad to whip the cursor quickly around the screen while using the mouse buttons and scroll wheel for more delicate work.

Through this hybrid input technique, I came to appreciate the multitouch gestures that Apple included in their OS and later how they were incorporated into the Adobe applications that I used on a daily basis. I’m currently in the midst of a major home remodel, so I’m without a desk. My day-to-day editing is done on my 15" MacBook Pro with the built-in trackpad and keyboard as my only input. Again, I’ve had to adapt to this new method.

Fortunately, Premiere Pro has already harnessed the power of multitouch gestures so that my work is still very efficient despite the limitations of my equipment. Let’s look at some of the ways you can be a more efficient editor with multitouch.

Basic Touch Functions in the Premiere Pro UI

Let’s start with the Source Monitor that is usually at the upper-left corner of the Premiere Pro interface. A two-finger pinch gesture can zoom in and out of the loaded footage. A two-finger swiping gesture will scrub through the footage forwards and backwards. These are faster than the typical ways of performing these actions. The former requires clicking on the zoom box and selecting a specific zoom level. The latter allows you to scrub at any speed with having to click directly on the playhead (Figure 1, below).

Figure 1. Using touch features in the Premiere Pro Source Monitor. Click the image to see it at full size.

The zoom feature works any time the pointer is over the image area. If the pointer is over the scrub bar, it will zoom in or out for moving the playhead in greater or less detail. The two-finger scrub works when the pointer is over either the image area or the play head area.

Moving down to the project window, you’ll find multitouch is most useful in Icon view. I generally prefer List view, except when I’m having a hard time finding specific shots among a lot of footage. When the pinch action is used in Icon view, the thumbnails will become larger or smaller. Scrubbing specific clips can be done simply by dragging the pointer over any clip’s thumbnail.

Finally, the timeline shares most of the same features as the source monitor. Two-finger dragging can be used to scrub quickly without having to precisely select the playhead. Pinching can be used to zoom in and out of the play head view area and to resize the image in the program monitor.

New Advanced Touch Gestures for Tablets and Trackpads

While these features are very useful, the newer touch gestures included in the latest updates to Adobe’s CC video applications are especially useful on devices such as Microsoft’s Surface tablet or Apple force touch trackpads.

Going back to the bin in Icon view, you’ll find with these advanced input devices new ways to organize, view, and utilize your clips. Scrubbing over a clip in the bin will bring up play/pause, step forward/reverse, and mark in/out buttons directly over the image. You can quickly access these controls without keyboard shortcuts or navigating through a menu.

When dragging a clip to the Program Monitor for insertion into your timeline, numerous options appear at different points on the display. You can easily have the clip inserted before or after, have it overlaid on a different layer, replace or overwrite or simply Insert at Playhead (Figure 2, below).

Figure 2. Touch-based clip insertion options for Premiere Pro CC 2015. Click the image to see it at full size.

All of these shortcuts make working with touch-only devices and inputs much more efficient, and learning them can give your productivity a boost.