Surprisingly, there is no function in Premiere Pro that allows you to change project settings (e.g., frame dimensions/resolution, frame rate and TV system). If you are in the middle of editing a project in Premiere Pro and want to change the settings, you can copy the video and audio clips in your timeline into a NEW project in CS3 (File – New Project) or a NEW sequence in CS4 – CS6 (Sequence – New Sequence) that you created with your new project settings.
What will happen?
- All the clips in the new project will appear in the new timeline just as they were in the old project;
- Any video and audio effects that you added to the clips in the timeline old project WILL be applied to the the clips in the timeline of the new project;
- Any video and audio transitions (e.g., dissolves and fades) that you applied in the old project will NOT survive the cut & paste. You will have to redo all the transitions. Note: In CS6, this problem appears to have been solved. The transitions will also appear.
- There is, unfortunately, a good chance that you will experience a serious problem with the audio part of the project while you are editing the new sequence in CS3 and CS4. The steps for dealing with this problem are described further down this page.
Project Files and Bins
In CS3, all the assets (e.g., video and audio clips) that are used in your timeline WILL appear in the new project widow. However, if you organised the assets into bins (i.e., folders) in the project window of the old project, these bins will NOT appear in the new project (all the assets will appear in one long list in the project window). Similarly, if you have any assets in the project window of the old project that you haven’t already added to the timeline in that project, these assets will NOT appear in the new project in CS3. You can work around the problem in CS3 by first importing the whole project file into the new project.
For CS4-CS6, If you start a new sequence all your bins will still be in place; you will just be working with a new timeline.
Steps for Importing Project Files & Copying Timelines
Step-by-step instructions are shown below (note that the program may crash while importing or copying):
1. Open a new project (CS3) or sequence (CS4-CS6), select the desired project settings and save it.
2. In Cs3, import the old project (File – Import – find and select your project – select Whole Project). Save the project. This is an optional step when using CS3 and is not required at all in CS4-CS6. It is only necessary if you want to make sure your old bins to appear in the new project or if you want to ensure that you move any assets that you imported into the old project but have not yet added to the old timeline. This will take some time and your program will appear to be unresponsive for a while.
3. Open the old project (CS3) or sequence (CS4) that you want to change.
4. Using the Selection Tool, hold the left mouse button down and draw a rectangle around all the video and audio clips in your timeline. This will select all the clips. When you release your mouse button, the rectangle will disappear, but the selected clips will be highlighted differently (video clips in the timeline will appear lighter and audio clips will appear darker).
5. Copy the items (e.g., Right click and select Copy / CTL+C / select Edit – Copy).
6. Open your new project. Left click once in the new timeline window; then select Edit – Paste or Edit – Paste Insert. You should see the video and audio clips appear in your timeline and project window.
You may find that when you re-open the file after a period of time the audio files don’t work properly. The tracks are shown in the timeline, but there is no audio. You can do one of two things. If you are in the middle of working on your project, for each affected clip do the following:
- Right click on the clip and select ‘Reveal in project‘
- Right click on the file in the project window and select ‘Make offline‘
- Select the ‘Keep media files on disk‘ option
- Right click on the file in the project window and select ‘Link media‘
- Link it to the original video file
If you have almost finished your editing and you don’t need to worry about mixing audio tracks, you can go back to the old project/sequence and export all the audio tracks as a single WAV file then import this audio file into the new project/sequence.
Can’t I Just Import an Old Project into a New One?
You can also try this option, but I don’t see how it would be useful for changing project settings. You can open a new project and select File → Import (whole project or sequence). You will get the old timeline sequence which you can drag into the new timeline. However, this sequence will be the equivalent of one long video clip. You won’t be able to edit the individual audio or video clips that were used in the original timeline. They will all be joined together as in a finished video.
I find it weird that it is so difficult to change the project settings in Premiere Pro; it is very easy to change the equivalent (Composition Settings) in Adobe After Effects.
*Theoretically, it should be possible to open the Premiere Pro file in a text editor and change the code affecting project settings, but you would need some serious skills to be able to do that.
If you have any comments or suggestions, please let me know. I’d really like to know if there is some way to include the the transitions in the cut and paste.
(For help with Premiere Pro and After Effects, the forums at Creative Cow—www.creativecow.net/—are great. The contributors are much more knowledgeable and experienced than I am. The how-to pages I am adding to this blog are intended to help beginners like myself tackle some basic problems).
My Other Articles on Video Editing
- Exporting HD Video for YouTube: Premiere Pro CS3 & CS4
- Choosing Premiere Pro Project Settings for HD Video: Very important, as it is difficult to change project settings once you begin
- Changing Project & Sequence Settings: Premiere Pro CS3 and CS4: Premiere Pro CS3 & CS4
- Premiere Pro CS4: Maximum Render Quality: For better image quality, especially with video of fast-moving objects
- Exporting Video for YouTube: Pixel Aspect Ratio Basics: How to get a pixel aspect ratio of 1:1
- Troubleshoot Export Failures: What to do when you see the error message: Application Failed to Return a Video Frame
- Exporting Video for Nico Nico Douga: Recommended settings
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