Nondestructive Editing and Project Management

This chapter includes information about:

  • How nondestructive editing differs from film editing
  • Why file organization is important for video editing
  • A guide to setting up your project folders

Digital video editing makes it easy to combine many types of material: video footage, photos, audio files, graphics and more. Premiere and all other modern video editing programs are nondestructive, meaning they can use your source material without destroying the originals. This may seem obvious, but this hasn’t always been available in video editing. Before digital editing, physical filmstrips and video tape had to be cut with a razor and spliced together to make an edit. (This is why we still “cut” from one scene to another.)

For a look at how video editing used to work, watch this 1974 instructional video about film editing. Aside from changes in technology, the advice about editing choices remains relevant.

In nondestructive editing, your original material isn’t affected no matter how many digital cuts you make and how many effects you add. Instead of using up the material, Premiere continually draws upon the source material you’ve imported. However, if the program can no longer find that source material, it cannot display your edited version. This is a common problem when files move locations or — in the worst-case scenario — accidentally get deleted.

That’s why it’s important to keep all source material well-organized so Premiere can always find the correct files. The most important thing in organizing all your material is to keep it in one place. Create one project folder that contains all your material and your Adobe Premiere file. If you need to move your project around, like transferring it on a thumb drive, transfer the whole folder at once to keep all the material together.

Inside your main project folder, you may want to further organize your material.