Adobe Premiere Pro CC (2016)

7. Adding Transitions

Lesson overview

In this lesson, you’ll learn about the following:

• Understanding transitions

• Understanding edit points and handles

• Adding video transitions

• Modifying transitions

• Fine-tuning transitions

• Applying transitions to multiple clips at once

• Using audio transitions


This lesson will take approximately 60 minutes to complete.


Transitions can help create a seamless flow between two video or audio clips. Video transitions are often used to signify a change in time or location. Audio transitions provide a useful way to avoid abrupt edits that jar the listener.

Getting started

In this lesson, you’ll learn to use transitions between video and audio clips. Video editors often use transitions to help an edit flow more smoothly. You’ll learn best practices for choosing transitions selectively.

For this lesson, you’ll use a new project file.

1. Start Adobe Premiere Pro CC and open the project Lesson 07.prproj.

Open the sequence 01 Transitions.

2. Choose Effects in the Workspaces panel, or choose Window > Workspaces > Effects.

This changes the workspace to the preset that was created to make it easier to work with transitions and effects. If you have been using Premiere Pro for a while, you may need to reset the workspace to the saved version by clicking the Effects menu in the Workspaces panel.

3. If necessary, click the Effects panel to make it active.

What are transitions?

Adobe Premiere Pro offers several special effects and preset animations to help you bridge neighboring clips in the Timeline. These transitions—such as dissolves, page wipes, dips to color, and so on—provide a way to ease viewers from one scene to the next. Occasionally, a transition can also be used to grab viewers’ attention to signify a major jump in the story.


Adding transitions to your project is an art. Applying them starts simply enough; it’s a mere drag-and-drop process. The skill comes in their placement, length, and parameters, such as direction, motion, and start/end locations.

You can adjust settings for transitions on the Timeline and in the Effect Controls panel. In addition to the various options unique to each transition, the Effect Controls panel displays an A/B timeline. This feature makes it easy to move transitions relative to the edit point, change the transition duration, and apply transitions to clips that don’t have sufficient head or tail frames (additional content to provide an overlap). You can also apply a transition effect to a group of clips.


Knowing when to use transitions

Transitions are most effective when they help the viewer understand the story. For example, you may switch from indoors to outdoors in a video, or you may jump forward in time by several hours. An animated transition, a fade to black, or a dissolve helps the viewer understand that time has passed or that the location has changed.

Transitions are a standard storytelling tool in video editing. Most viewers understand the language of transitions and will correctly interpret their use. For example, a slow fade to black at the end of a scene is a clear indication that the scene has finished. The key with transitions is to use restraint—unless, of course, a total lack of restraint is the result you intend to show. Most importantly, the effects you use should look intentional.

Only you can know what is right for you creative work. As long as it looks like you meant to include a particular effect, your audience will tend to trust your decision (whether or not they agree with your creative choices). It takes practice and experience to develop sensitivity for the right time, and wrong time, to use effects such as transitions.

Implementing best practices with transitions

Many editors overuse transitions, perhaps because it’s easy to use them to add visual interest. You may be tempted to use them for every cut. Don’t! Or at least, get them out of your system with your first edit.

Most TV shows and feature films use cuts-only edits. You’ll rarely see any transitions. Why? Because an effect should be used if it gives a particular additional benefit, and most often, transition effects do not. In fact, they can be distracting.

Image Note

Transitions are fun and interesting to add to your project. However, overuse can make a video seem amateurish. When choosing a transition, make sure it adds meaning to your project. Watch your favorite movies and TV shows to learn how to use transitions elegantly.

If a news editor uses a transition effect, it’s for a purpose. The most frequent use in newsroom editing is to take what would have been a jarring or abrupt edit—called a jump cut—and make it more acceptable.

Transitions do have their place in carefully planned stories. Consider the Star Wars movies with their highly stylized transition effects, such as obvious, slow wipes. Each of those transitions has a purpose. In this case, George Lucas purposely created a look reminiscent of old serialized movies and TV shows. The transition effects send a clear message: “Pay attention. We’re transitioning across space and time.”

Using edit points and handles

To understand transition effects, you’ll need to understand edit points and handles. An edit point is the point in your Timeline where one clip ends and the next begins. This is often called a cut. These are easy to see because Premiere Pro draws vertical lines to show where one clip ends and another begins (much like two bricks next to each other).


When you edit part of a clip into a sequence, the unused sections at the beginning and/or end are still available but hidden. Clip handles are those unused sections.

When you first edited a clip into a sequence, you set In and Out marks (also known as In and Out points) to select the part you wanted. There’s a handle between the clip’s original beginning and the In point you chose. There’s also a handle between the clip’s original end and the Out point you chose.


Of course, you may not have used In or Out points, or you may have set one or other mark at the beginning or end of the clip. In this case, you would have no unused media or unused media at one end of the clip.

If you see a little triangle in the upper-right or upper-left corner of a clip, it means you’ve reached the end of the original clip and there are no additional frames.


In this example, the clip has a handle available at the start (on the left) but no handle at the end (on the right).

For transitions to work, you need handles. When your clip has handles, there are no triangles displayed in the upper corners of the clip.

Portions of a clip that are not normally visible will be used when you apply a transition. Essentially, the outgoing clip is overlapped with the incoming clip to create an area for transitions to occur. For example, if you apply a two-second Cross Dissolve transition centered between two video clips, you’d need a one-second handle on both clips (one additional second each that would normally be invisible in the Timeline).

Adding video transitions

Premiere Pro gives you multiple video transition effects to choose from. Most options are available in the Video Transitions group in the Effects panel.

The main transitions are organized into seven effect subcategories. You’ll find additional transitions in the Video Effects > Transitions group in the Effects panel. These effects are meant to be applied to an entire clip and can be used to reveal the footage (typically between its start and end frames). This second category works well for superimposing text or graphics.

Image Note

If you need more transitions, check the Adobe website. Visit and click the Plug-ins link. There, you’ll find several third-party effects to explore.


Applying a single-sided transition

The easiest transition to understand is one that applies to just one end of a single clip. This could be a fade from black on the first clip in a sequence or a dissolve into an animated graphic that leaves the screen on its own.

Let’s give it a try.

1. Use the sequence 01 Transitions.

This sequence has four video clips. The clips have long enough handles for transition effects to be applied between them.

Image Note

You can use the Search field, at the top of the panel, to locate the effect by name or keyword, or you can manually open the folders of effects.

2. In the Effects panel, open the Video Transitions > Dissolve group. Find the Cross Dissolve effect.

3. Drag and drop the effect onto the start of the first video clip.


A highlight shows you where a transition effect will be added.

4. Drag the Cross Dissolve effect onto the end of the last video clip.


The Dissolve icon shows that the effect will start before the end of the clip and complete by the time it reaches the clip’s end.

Because you’re applying the Cross Dissolve transition effect at the ends of clips, where there is no connected clip, the picture dissolves into the background of the Timeline (which happens to be black).

Transitions of this kind don’t extend the clip (using the handle) because the transition doesn’t reach past the end of the clip.

5. Play the sequence to see the result.

You should see a fade from black at the start of the sequence and a fade to black at the end.

When you apply a Cross Dissolve effect in this way, the result looks similar to the Dip to Black effect, which transitions to black. However, in reality you are causing the clip to become gradually transparent in front of a black background. The difference is more obvious when you work with multiple layers of clips, with different colored background layers.

Applying a transition between two clips

Let’s apply transitions between several clips. For the purposes of exploration, you’ll break some artistic rules and try a few different options.

1. Continue working with the previous sequence, 01 Transitions.

To make the transition you are about to apply easier to see, zoom in closer to the Timeline.

2. Move the playhead to the edit point between clip 1 and clip 2 on the Timeline, and then press the equal sign (=) key three times to zoom in fairly close. If your keyboard does not have the = key, use the zoom slider control at the bottom of the Timeline.

Image Tip

It’s easy to remember that pressing the = key zooms in because it normally has a + symbol on the same key.

3. Drag the Dip to White transition from the Dissolve group in the Effects panel onto the edit point between clip 1 and clip 2.


4. Next, drag the Push transition from the Slide group onto the edit point between clip 2 and clip 3.


5. Click the Push transition effect on the Timeline and go to the Effect Controls panel. Change the direction of the clip from West to East to East to West.


6. Drag the Flip Over transition from the 3D Motion group onto the edit point between clip 3 and clip 4.

Image Note

When you drag a new video or audio transition effect from the Effects panel on top of an existing transition, it replaces the existing effect. It also preserves the alignment and duration of the previous transition. This is an easy way to swap transition effects and experiment.

7. Review the sequence by playing it from beginning to end.

Having watched this sequence, you can probably see why it’s a good idea to use transitions with restraint.

Let’s try replacing an existing effect.

8. Drag the Split transition from the Slide group onto the existing transition effect between clip 2 and clip 3. The new transition effect replaces the old one, taking the duration of the old effect.

9. Select the Split transition effect icon on the Timeline. In the Effect Controls panel, set Border Width to 7 and Anti-aliasing Quality to Medium to create a thin black border at the edge of the wipe.

Image Note

You may need to scroll down in the Effect Controls panel to access further controls.


The anti-aliasing method reduces potential flicker when the line animates.

10. Watch the sequence to see the new transition effect.

Transitions have a default duration, which can be set in seconds or frames (it’s frames by default). The duration of a transition effect will change depending on the sequence frame rate, unless the default duration is set in seconds. The default transition duration can be changed in the General tab of the Preferences panel.

11. Choose Edit > Preferences > General (Windows) or Premiere Pro > Preferences > General (Mac OS).


12. This is a 24-frames-per-second sequence, but this doesn’t matter if you change the Video Transition Default Duration option to 1 second. Do so now, and click OK.

Image Note

You can copy a transition from one part of a sequence to another. Just select the transition effect icon using your mouse, and choose Edit > Copy. Then move the playhead to the edit point where you want to add the transition, and choose Edit > Paste.

The existing transition effects stay the same, but any future transitions you add will have the new duration.

Few transition effects employed by professional editors are as long as a full second in duration. You’ll learn more about how to customize transitions later in this lesson.

Applying transitions to multiple clips at once

So far, you’ve been applying transitions to video clips. However, you can also apply transitions to still images, graphics, color mattes, and even audio, as you’ll see in the next section of this lesson.

A common project type that editors encounter is the photo montage. Often these montages look good with transitions between photos. Applying transitions one at a time to 100 images would take a long time. Premiere Pro makes it easy to automate this process by allowing the default transition (that you define) to be added to any group of contiguous or noncontiguous clips.

1. In the Project panel, find and open the sequence 02 Slideshow.

This sequence has several images edited sequentially.

2. Play the Timeline by pressing the spacebar.

You’ll notice that there’s a cut between each pair of clips.

3. Press the backslash (\) key to zoom out the Timeline so the whole sequence is visible.

4. With the Selection tool, draw a marquee around all the clips to select them.


5. Go to the Sequence menu and choose Apply Default Transitions to Selection.


Image Note

If you’re working with clips that have audio and video linked, you can select just the video or audio portions if you Alt-drag (Windows) or Option-drag (Mac OS) with the Selection tool. Then choose Sequence > Apply Default Transitions to Selection. Note that this command works only with double-sided transitions.

This will apply the default transition between all the currently selected clips. The standard default transition effect is a one-second Cross Dissolve. You can change the default transition by right-clicking an effect in the Effects panel and choosing Set Selected as Default Transition.

6. Play the Timeline to see the difference the Cross Dissolve transition makes to the montage.


You can also copy an existing transition effect to multiple edits using the keyboard. To do this, select the transition effect and press Control+C (Windows) or Command+C (Mac OS). Then hold the Control (Windows) or Command (Mac OS) key while you lasso to select other edits.

When you lasso this way, you select edits rather than clips. With the edits selected, you can press Control+V (Windows) or Command+V (Mac OS) to paste the transition effect onto all the selected edits.

This is a great way to apply matching transition effects between multiple clips.

Sequence display changes

When you add a transition to a sequence, a red or yellow horizontal line may appear above it in the Timeline panel. A yellow line indicates that Premiere Pro expects to be able to play the effect smoothly. A red line means that this section of the sequence must be rendered before you can record it to tape or view a preview without dropped frames.

Rendering happens automatically when you export your sequence as a file, but you can choose to render at any time to make these sections play more smoothly on slower computers.

The easiest way to render is to press the Enter key. You can also add In and Out points to select a part of your sequence and then render. Only the selected part will render. This is useful if you have many effects that need to render but you’re concerned with only one section for now.

Premiere Pro will create a video clip of that segment (tucked away in the Preview Files folder) and will change the line from red or yellow to green. As long as the line is green, playback should be smooth.


Using A/B mode to fine-tune a transition

The Effect Controls panel’s A/B editing mode splits a single video track into two. What would normally be two consecutive and contiguous clips on a single track are now displayed as individual clips on separate tracks, giving you the option to apply a transition between them, to manipulate their head and tail frames (or handles), and to change other transition options.

Changing parameters in the Effect Controls panel

All transitions in Premiere Pro can be customized. Some effects have few customizable properties (such as duration or starting point). Other effects offer more options for direction, color, border size, and so on. The major benefit of the Effect Controls panel is that you can see the outgoing and incoming clip handles. This makes it easy to adjust the position of an effect.

Let’s modify a transition.

1. Switch back to the sequence 01 Transitions.

2. Position the Timeline playhead at the Dip to White transition you added between clips 1 and 2, and click to select the transition.

3. In the Effect Controls panel, select the Show Actual Sources check box to view frames from the actual clips.


Image Note

You might need to resize the Effect Controls panel to make the Show/Hide Timeline View button (Image) visible. Also, the Effect Controls Timeline may already be visible. Clicking the Show/Hide Timeline View button in the Effect Controls panel toggles it on and off.

It’s now easier to judge changes you make to the transition’s source clips.

4. In the Effect Controls panel, click the alignment menu and switch the effect to Start at Cut.

The transition icon switches to show the new position.

5. Click the Play the Transition button (Image) to play the transition in the Effect Controls panel.

6. Now you’ll change the duration field. Enter 1:12 for a 1.5-second duration effect. The diagonal bars (often called zebra stripes) indicate that freeze frames have been inserted.


Play the transition to see the changes. Let’s customize the next effect.

7. Click the transition between clip 2 and clip 3 in the Timeline.

8. In the Effect Controls panel, hover the pointer over the edit line at the center of the transition rectangle.

That’s the edit point between the two clips, and the pointer that appears is the Rolling Edit tool. This tool lets you reposition the edit point.


9. Drag the Rolling Edit tool left and right, and note that the changing Out point of the left clip and the changing In point of the right clip show up in the Program Monitor as soon as you release the mouse button. This is also called trimming. You’ll explore trimming in more detail inLesson 8, “Advanced Editing Techniques.”


Image Note

When trimming, it’s possible to shorten a transition to a duration of one frame. This can make it hard to grab and position the transition effect icon, so try using the Duration and Alignment controls. If you want to remove a transition, select it in the sequence and press the Delete or Backspace key.

10. Move the pointer slightly to the left or right of the edit line, and notice that it changes to the Slide tool.


Using the Slide tool changes the start and end points of the transition without changing its overall length. The new start and end marks show up in the Program Monitor, but unlike using the Rolling Edit tool, moving the transition rectangle by using the Slide tool does not change the edit point between the two clips. Instead, it changes the timing of the transition effect.

11. Use the Slide tool to drag the transition rectangle left and right.

Using a Morph Cut effect

Morph Cut is a special transition effect that aims to be invisible. It’s designed specifically to help with “talking head” video interviews, where a single speaker looks in the direction of the camera. If your subject pauses a lot or there is inappropriate content in the footage, you may want to remove a section of the interview.

This would normally produce a jump cut, but with the right media and a little experimentation, the Morph Cut effect might yield an invisible transition that seamlessly hides what you have removed. Let’s try it.

1. Open the sequence 03 Morph Cut. Play the beginning of the sequence.

This sequence has one shot in it, with a jump cut near the start. It’s a small jump cut but enough to jar the audience.

2. In the Effects panel, look in the Video Transitions > Dissolve group for the Morph Cut effect. Drag this effect to the join between the two parts of the clip.


The Morph Cut transition effect begins by analyzing the two clips in the background. You can continue to work on your sequence while this analysis takes place.

The Morph Cut transition effect works best when you experiment with different durations. Depending on your media, one duration may work better than another.

3. Double-click the Morph Cut transition effect to display the duration. Change the duration to 13 frames.

Image Tip

You can position the start time of a dissolve asymmetrically by dragging it. This means you don’t have to settle for the Centered, Start at Cut, and End at Cut options. You can drag the position of a transition effect directly on the Timeline too; there’s no need to use the Effect Controls panel.

4. When the analysis is complete, press the Enter key to render the effect (if your system requires it) and preview the effect.

The result is not perfect, but it’s close, and it’s unlikely an audience will notice the join.

Dealing with inadequate (or nonexistent) head or tail handles

If you try to extend a transition for a clip that doesn’t have enough frames as a handle, the transition appears but has diagonal warning bars through it. This means Premiere Pro is using a freeze frame to extend the duration of the clip.

You can adjust the duration and position of the transition to resolve the issue.

1. Open the sequence 04 Handles.

2. Locate the first edit in the sequence.

The two clips on the Timeline have no heads or tails. You can tell this because of the little triangles in the corners of the clips; a triangle indicates the last frame of an original clip.


3. Using the Ripple Edit tool (on the Tools panel), drag the right edge of the first clip to the left. Drag to shorten the duration of the first clip to about 1:10 and then release.


The tool tip that appears while you trim shows the clip duration.

The clip after the edit point ripples to close the gap. Notice that the little triangle at the end of the clip you have trimmed is no longer visible.

4. Drag the Cross Dissolve transition effect from the Effects panel onto the edit point between the two clips.


You can drag the transition only to the right side of the edit because there’s no handle available to create a dissolve overlapping the end of the first clip without using freeze frames.

5. Press V to select the standard Selection tool, and click the transition effect to select it.

6. In the Effect Controls panel, set the duration of the effect to 1:12. You may need to zoom in to make it easier to select a transition.


7. Change the alignment of the transition to Center at Cut.


In the Effect Controls panel, notice that the transition effect rectangle has parallel diagonal lines running through it, indicating the lack of head frames and tail frames. This means you’ll see a freeze frame for those parts of the effect.

8. Drag the playhead slowly through the transition and watch the result.

• For the first half of the transition (up to the edit point), the B clip is a freeze frame, while the A clip continues to play.

• At the edit point, the A clip and the B clip start to play.

• After the edit, a short freeze frame is used.

9. There are several ways to fix the issue.

• You can change the duration or alignment of the effect.

• You can use the Rolling Edit tool to reposition the transition.

• You can use the Ripple Edit tool to shorten a clip.

Image Note

Using the Rolling Edit tool lets you move the transition left or right but does not change the overall length of the sequence.


Rolling Edit tool


Ripple Edit tool

You’ll learn more about the Rolling Edit and Ripple Edit tools in Lesson 8.

Adding audio transitions

Audio transitions can dramatically improve a sequence’s soundtrack by removing unwanted audio pops or abrupt edits. The use of a crossfade transition at the end of (or between) audio clips is a fast way to add a fade-in, a fade-out, or a fade between your audio clips.

Creating a crossfade

You can choose from three styles of crossfade.


• Constant Gain: The Constant Gain crossfade (as its name implies) transitions audio by using a constant audio gain (volume) between the clips. Some find this transition type useful. It can, however, create a sudden transition in the audio as the sound of the outgoing clip fades out and the incoming clip then fades in at an equal gain. The Constant Gain crossfade is most useful in situations where you do not want much blending between two clips but rather more of a dip out and in between the clips.


• Constant Power: The default audio transition in Premiere Pro creates a smooth, gradual transition between two audio clips. The Constant Power crossfade works similarly to a video dissolve. When this crossfade is applied, the outgoing clip fades out slowly at first and then faster toward the end of the clip. On the incoming clip, the opposite occurs. The audio level increases quickly at the start of the incoming clip and more slowly toward the end of the transition. This crossfade is useful in most situations where you want to blend the audio between two clips.


• Exponential Fade: This effect is similar to the Constant Power crossfade. The Exponential Fade transition is a fairly smooth fade between clips. It uses a logarithmic curve to fade out and fade up audio. Some prefer the Exponential Fade transition when performing a single-sided transition (such as fading in a clip from silence at the start or end of a program).


Applying audio transitions

There are several ways to apply an audio crossfade to a sequence. You can, of course, drag and drop an audio transition just as you would a video transition, but there are useful shortcuts to speed up the process.

Audio transitions have a default duration, measured in seconds or frames. You can change the default duration by choosing Edit > Preferences > General (Windows) or Premiere Pro > Preferences > General (Mac OS).

Let’s take a look at the three methods for applying audio transitions.

1. Open the sequence 05 Audio.

The sequence has several audio clips.

2. Open the Audio Transitions > Crossfade group in the Effects panel.

3. Drag the Exponential Fade transition to the start of the first audio clip.

4. Move to the end of the sequence.

5. Right-click the final edit point in the Timeline and choose Apply Default Transitions.


New video and audio transitions are added. To add only an audio transition, hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) when right-clicking to select the correct clip.

The Constant Power transition is added to the end audio clip as a transition to create a smooth blend as the audio ends.

6. You can change the length of a transition by dragging its edge in the Timeline. Drag the length of the audio transition longer now and listen to the effect when you play the Timeline.

7. To polish the project, add a Video Dissolve transition to the beginning of the sequence. Move the playhead near the beginning, select the first clip, and press Control+D (Windows) or Command+D (Mac OS) to add the default video transition.

You now have a fade from black at the beginning and a fade to black at the end. Now let’s add a series of short audio dissolves to smooth out the background sound.

8. With the Selection tool, hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) and lasso all the audio clips on track Audio 1, being careful not to select any video clips.

The Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) key lets you temporarily unlink the audio clips from the video clips to isolate the transitions. Drag from below the audio clips to avoid accidentally selecting items on the video track.

Image Tip

Shift+Ctrl+D (Windows) or Shift+Command+D (Mac OS) is the keyboard shortcut for adding the default audio transition to an edit point near the playhead. Track selection (or clip selection) is used to work out where the effect should be applied.

9. Choose Sequence > Apply Default Transitions to Selection.


10. Play the sequence to see and hear the changes you made.

Image Note

The selection of clips does not have to be contiguous. You can Shift-click clips to select individual clips in a sequence.

Review questions

1. How can you apply the default transition to multiple clips?

2. How do you track down a transition by name?

3. How do you replace a transition with another one?

4. Explain three ways to change the duration of a transition.

5. What is an easy way to fade audio at the beginning or end of a clip?

Review answers

1. Select clips already on the Timeline and choose Sequence > Apply Default Transitions to Selection.

2. Start typing the transition name in the Contains Text box in the Effects panel. As you type, Premiere Pro displays all effects and transitions (audio and video) that have that letter combination anywhere in their names. Type more letters to narrow your search.

3. Drag the replacement transition on top of the transition you’re rejecting. The new one automatically replaces the old one while adopting its timing.

4. Drag the edge of the transition rectangle in the Timeline, do the same thing in the Effect Controls panel’s A/B timeline display, or change the Duration value in the Effect Controls panel. You can also double-click the transition icon in the Timeline panel.

5. An easy way to fade audio in or out is to apply an audio crossfade transition to the beginning or end of the clip.