Premiere Pro CC: Create and Use Search Bins

Posted on by Larry

One of the problems of being a creature of habit is that you often overlook new features that can make your life easier. I ran into this problem myself this last week as I was planning my webinar on Media Management for Video Editing.

Normally, I import clips, store them in bins, and get on with my work. But, I discovered that I’m missing a very cool feature that can simplify finding exactly the clip I’m looking for.

These are called Search Bins, and Premiere Pro uses them to provide a flexible and dynamic way to organize and find clips as your projects get larger.

Let me show you how these work with a simple example.

THE SETUP


(Images courtesy: Jim Walker and Lobsters Gone Wild Productions)

I’ve imported five clips into a Premiere project. Obviously, this would, more practically, be fifty or five hundred clips; still, the process is the same.

We could, as I’ve done here, change the name of the clip or create new bins to store these clips. The problem is that a clip can only be in one bin at a time and, all too often, I’ll look in a bin to find a clip and, if a clip isn’t there, I won’t keep looking – I’ll use whatever is there. Speed wins over finding the best clip.

While this allows me to edit faster, it also means that I can easily overlook a better shot that I stored somewhere else.

Enter the Search Bin and the ability to add custom metadata. Now, if you are like me, the word “metadata” is just plain intimidating. I try to avoid it whenever possible. But, really, all metadata is simply a series of labels; and I’m very comfortable using labels.

So, go up to the Source Monitor panel and, on the right, you’ll find a tab called: Metadata. This opens up a wide range of potential fields you can use to organize your selected clips. The cool thing is that Adobe has made virtually all of their metadata searchable.

In our case, we’ll keep this simple. Scroll down in the top section of the Metadata pane until you find “Description,” “Comment,” or “Log Note.”

So, for this first shot of fish against some orange rocks, let’s add some search terms to the Description field: fish, resting, rocks, orange, CU. What we are doing is applying keywords to our clips that we can search through later to find exactly the shot we want, regardless of where the actual clip is stored.

NOTE: Entering metadata labels is a good reason to use shared or team projects to allow an assistant editor to enter metadata for a project while you are editing in it.

Or, you can use a third-party program like Kyno or Axle media asset managers to enter and track metadata for your clips, then have that metadata moved automatically into Premiere when you transfer the clips.


Here’s another shot and the metadata I entered for it: fish, open sea, school, WS.


And, just for variety, here’s another shot and the metadata: turtle, rocks, CU, swimming.

BIG NOTE: I put the metadata in the Comment field. This was intentional, though we can pretend this was an accident. Accidents happen, you know.

To help with this example, I added metadata to the remaining clips, but, you get the idea; I don’t need to show you every shot.

Granted, the process of adding metadata can be time-consuming. The goal is to do this work over time, as you import clips. You can also embellish your labels during the edit as you learn more about what you need to find for your sequences.

FINDING STUFF

Once you have the metadata entered, the magic can start. A Search Bin is, essentially, a dynamic saved search. As you add more media or revise keywords those changes are reflected within seconds in clips that are displayed in a Search Bin.

Here’s how this works.

Either right-click in the Project pane, or choose File > New > Search Bin, and create a new Search bin.

This window appears. Let’s enter a simple term: Resting and create the bin by clicking OK.

Look what just happened. Even though all my clips are stored in the Media folder, those clips that have “resting” in their file name OR in a metadata field now appear in this bin. We haven’t duplicated any media or increased our storage, Premiere simply duplicated the references to that media.


We can get more complex. Here, all clips that have BOTH swimming and fish in their metadata appear in this bin.

NOTE: See that word And in the popup menu on the left? This means that clips must contain both the top and bottom terms. If you change this to Or, it means that a clip can contain either the top keywords OR the bottom. “And” is more exclusive, “Or” is more inclusive.


For example, here, I asked for either shark or turtle. Notice that it found the turtle info even though I entered it in the wrong field, because it is searching ALL metadata.

NOTE: If I asked for shark AND turtle, nothing would have been found because no clip contains both the terms shark and turtle.

You can restrict the search to a specific field by selecting it from the “All Metadata” popup menu.

Keyword labels can contain multiple words; this one, for example, has “open sea”. For convenience, I tend to separate keywords with commas when I’m entering them in a metadata field.

These searches are dynamic, which means that if I change the keywords associated with a clip, those new clips will enter or leave a Search bin. Also, new clips that are assigned metadata labels will appear automatically in any relevant Search bins.

SUMMARY

If you are doing a fast edit, or working with just a few clips, entering metadata and creating Search bins is probably not worth the effort. However, if you are going to be spending a lot of time with a project, or it’s going to have lots and lots of clips, spending time up front adding labels to your clips can save a ton of time down the road as you are scrambling to find that one clip that is exactly what you need – if only you could find it.


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