Quick & Easy: How to Import Videos in Premiere Pro for Beginners

November 11, 2020

Three Easy Ways to Import Videos Into Premiere Pro

Here are three quick and easy ways to import your footage and other media files into Premiere Pro.

Each method has a different reason why you may choose to import in this way.

Let's walk through each method so you can decide what makes the most sense for your video project.

You may also be having trouble importing certain types of files into Premiere Pro. If that's the case, scroll on down to discover some common reasons for import failure in Premiere Pro.

If you're new to Premiere Pro, be sure to check out more beginner Premiere Pro tips & tutorials on the blog.

Method 1: Double Click in the Project Window

Why Use This Method: It's the quickest and easiest (imo).

1 | Once you've opened up Premiere Pro, navigate over to your Project Window.

Program Window In Premiere Pro

2 | Simply double click anywhere in this box and a window will open, allowing you to find the footage or files you'd like to import.

Import window for Premiere Pro

3 | Select one or multiple clips and hit 'import'.

File imported in Premiere Pro

4 | You can also right-click anywhere within your Project Window and select 'Import' to open the same import menu.

Right click in program panel to import new footage

Method 2: Use the Drop Down Import from the File Tab

Why Use This Method: It's the easiest to remember for beginners or if you get lost.

1 | Navigate to the top menu bar of Premiere and select 'File'

Import files into Premiere Pro from the dropdown file menu

2 | Select 'Import' and a browser window will open up allowing you to choose which files you'd like to import into Premiere Pro.

Select one or more files to import through the browser window

3 | Select the files you'd like to import and click 'Import' to add them to your project.

Method 3: Open Media Browser Inside of Premiere Pro

Why to Use This Method: You can leave it open while continuing to work on your project for continued access. It also works best for more complicated file imports from certain video codecs (RED camera footage, for example).

Note: If your footage is buried in a confusing list of folders with unrecognizable file types, you likely need to use media browser. This will ensure that the correct file types are imported, along with the correct meta data attached to each file.

The Media Browser gives you quick access to all your assets while you edit making it easy to browse to files. Unlike the Import dialog box, the Media Browser can be left open and docked, like any other panel. 

1 | Navigate to the top menu and select 'Window > Media Browser'

2 | The Media Browser panel opens. On the left, there is a list of folders. On the right, the contents are displayed. You can toggle between list view and thumbnail view.

Media Browser Panel in Premiere Pro

In the list of hard drives and folders in the Media Browser, click the triangles next to folder names to open them.

3 | To view only files of certain types, click the Files types displayed icon, and select a file type. To select an extra type, open the menu again and make another selection. Repeat until all desired types have been selected.

4 | Select one or more files from the list of files.

5 | To preview the clip in the Media Browser, move the cursor over the thumbnail. Alternatively, double click the clip to open it in the Source Monitor. You can also right-click the file in the Media Browser and select Open In Source Monitor.

6 | To import your chosen clips, right-click the file in the Media Browser and select Import.

Right click on clip in media browser to import

You can drag the file from the Media Browser into the Project panel, or drag the file from the Media Browser into a Timeline.

7 | The Media Browser will now import the file into the Project panel.

Method 4: Drag and Drop Files from the Finder Window

Why Use This Method: Personal preference or if you want to directly import from another location on your computer.

1 | Navigate to the files you wish to import within a finder window on your computer.

2 | Select the files you want to import and drag them into your project panel in Premiere Pro.

Note: you'll see a little green plus icon if the file is compatible in Premiere Pro.

Drag and Drop Files into Premiere Pro Project Panel

That covers the three primary ways to import your footage and other files into Premiere Pro.

But what if you've encountered an issue when trying to import your files?

Here are some common problems you may encounter while importing files into Premiere Pro and how to fix them.

How to Import Other Types of Files Into Premiere Pro

Importing Photos (JPEG, PNG, TIFF, PSD and more)

Here are all of the many types of files that can be easily imported into Premiere Pro:

AI, EPSAdobe Illustrator 
BMP, DIB, RLEBitmap
DPXCineon/DPX 
EPSAdobe Illustrator 
GIFGraphics Interchange Format
ICOIcon File (Windows only)
JPEGJPE, JPG, JFIF
PNGPortable Network Graphics
PSDPhotoshop
PTL, PRTLAdobe Premiere title
TGA, ICB, VDA, VSTTarga
TIFFTagged Interchange Format

As long as your still image or graphic file falls under one of these types of extensions, you can simply import it in any of the three easy ways to import we covered at the beginning of this article.

Here are some more detailed notes to keep in mind for best practices when importing still photos into Premiere Pro.

Best Practices for Importing Still Photos in Premiere Pro

The maximum frame size that can be imported for still images and movies is 256 megapixels, with a maximum dimension of 32,768 pixels in either direction. 

Preparing still images before importing

Before you import a still image into Premiere Pro, you should consider doing the following in order to reduce rendering time within Premiere Pro.

  • Set the pixel dimensions to the resolution you will use in Premiere Pro. If you plan to scale the image over time, set image dimensions that provide enough detail at the largest size the image has in the project.
  • For best results, create files with a frame size at least as large as the frame size of the project so that you don’t have to scale up the image in Premiere Pro. Scaling an image larger than its original size can cause loss of sharpness. If you plan to scale up an image, prepare it at a larger frame size than the project’s. For detailed instructions about scaling and setting to the correct frame size in Premiere Pro, be sure to check out this video I made all about it.
  • Crop the parts of the image that you don’t want to be visible in Premiere Pro.
  • If you want to designate areas as transparent, create an alpha channel or use the transparency tools in applications such as Photoshop or Illustrator first.
  • Save the file using the correct naming convention. For example, if you plan to import the file into Premiere Pro in Windows, use a three-character filename extension.
  • When you prepare still images in applications that support color management, such as Photoshop, colors may appear more consistent between the application and Premiere Pro if you prepare images in a video-friendly color space, such as sRGB or NTSC RGB.

Importing Photoshop and Illustrator files

You can import files from Adobe Photoshop 3.0 or later, or from Adobe Illustrator. You can control how layered files are imported.

Empty (transparent) areas of nonflattened files are transparent when imported into Premiere Pro, because the transparency is stored as an alpha channel. This lets you import graphics and superimpose them over clips in other tracks with no extra effort.

You can import layered Photoshop files either with selected layers imported as individual clips into a bin, with selected layers imported as individual clips into a bin and sequence, or with selected layers merged into a single video clip.

Also, you can import Photoshop files that contain video or animations if they are saved from Photoshop in timeline animation mode.

Importing Illustrator images

You can import an Adobe Illustrator still-image file directly into a Premiere Pro project. Premiere Pro converts path-based Illustrator art into the pixel-based image format used by Premiere Pro, a process known as rasterization.

Premiere Pro automatically anti-aliases, or smooths, edges of the Illustrator art. Premiere Pro also converts all empty areas into an alpha channel, so that empty areas become transparent. 

Even though the layers in Illustrator are merged in Premiere Pro you can edit the layers by selecting the clip and choosing Edit > Edit Original.

Importing Unique Video Codecs

There are a handful of unique video codecs that Premiere Pro simply won't recognize.

You may see the following error message: Codec missing or unavailable.

If this happens, you simply need to convert your incompatible files into files that Premiere Pro understands.

For a list of compatible video codec formats in Premiere Pro, check out this list on Premiere Pro's site. It's lengthy and constantly being updated, so I wanted to link you straight to the source.

Here are two free programs that work on both PCs and MACs to convert just about every type of file format to a format that's compatible in Premiere Pro: VLC and HandBrake.

How to Convert Files in VLC Media Encoder:

  1. Click on Media -> Convert/Save
  2. Drag your file into the window
  3. Click Convert/Save
  4. Choose your file destination and rename it

These are both free programs that will convert your files into a more compatible format that Premiere Pro will recognize.

How to Import Fonts Into Premiere Pro

1 | Download your font

2 | Double click on the .zip file for your download

3 | If your file is a .otf or a .ttf file, simply double click and your computer should automatically load the font window.

4 | Click 'install'.

5 | Restart Premiere Pro if you already have it open.

6 | Your newly downloaded font should now appear in Premiere Pro when using the Essential Graphics panel.

How to Import Templates (MOGRT) and Premiere Pro Projects Into Premiere Pro

You can import Premiere Pro projects into your project panel in exactly the same way as other footage.

If you'd like a more thorough explanation of how to download, install, and import MOGRT files into Premiere Pro, check out this in-depth tutorial I made all about it.

How to Import Youtube Videos Into Premiere Pro

Typically YouTube videos are downloaded in the MKV file format. These types of files are not directly recognizable in Premiere Pro, so you'll need to covert them to a file format that Premiere Pro recognizes.

Using VLC and HandBrake, convert your mkv file into an .mp4 file.

Troubleshooting: Premiere Pro Import Not Working

Here are a few common problems that may arise when trying to import your media files into Premiere Pro and how to fix them.

Make Sure Sourcepatching is Turned On

Before anything else, make sure that both your video and audio source patching is enabled.

This is a common issue if you find that only the video or audio portion of your clip is importing.

Source patching simply tells Premiere Pro that you'd like to edit both the video and audio portion of your clip in the timeline.

1 | With your clip selected in the Project Panel, you should see V1 and A1 highlighted in blue on the left most side of the timeline.

2 | If you only see one or the other, simply click within that area to turn source-patching on.

File Import Failure Error in Premiere Pro

If you are getting the following error: 'File Import Failure. The importer reported a generic error.' Then read on.

There are a handful of reasons that you may be getting this error, but the most common reason why you may receive this error is because of a corrupt file or file type.

Here's how we can fix the File Import Failure Error in Premiere Pro.

1 | Make sure that you've updated your current version of Premiere Pro to the latest version.

2 | Restart both your computer system as well as relaunch Premiere Pro.

3 | Try to import your files once again.

4 | If you still receive the same message, more than likely you need to convert these files.

5 | Using VLC or HandBrake (both free), try converting one file to either a .mp4 or .mov file to see if this solves the issue.

6 | If that solves the issue, then you can choose a different type of file type to convert to if you wish.

7 | If you are STILL getting the error message, it's time to clear your cache files.

Navigate to 'Preferences' -> 'Media Cache'

Select the button that says 'Delete Unused' and hit 'OK'.

If none of those solutions work, then the problem could be on the software end, meaning you'll likely need to contact Adobe Customer Support for more specific help.

How to Import MKV Files (mkv Not Supported Fix)

Method 1: The easiest fix for this problem is to simply rename the file extension on your .mkv file.

  1. Navigate to the original file on your hard drive
  2. Select the clip and rename it (originalfilename.avi)
  3. Your clip should now import into Premiere Pro with no problems

Method 2: Convert the .mkv file into a more compatible format.

Using VLC and HandBrake, convert your mkv file into an .mp4 file.

Audio Imports To Premiere Pro But No Video

When you import your video file and drag it into your timeline, only the audio portion of your clip appears.

Make sure sourcepatching is turned on for both video and audio tracks on your timeline (see above for more detail).

This problem is caused because only the audio codec is being recognized and not the video.

Here's how to fix it.

  1. You'll need to download VLC or HandBrake
  2. Click on Media -> Convert/Save
  3. Drag your file into the window
  4. Click Convert/Save
  5. Choose your file destination and rename it

Reimport your newly converted file into Premiere Pro and that should fix the problem.

Note: if you have multiple files in need of converting, you can complete the same process by dragging them all into the VLC window at the same time.

Concluding Thoughts

Believe me, I know just how frustrating it can be to run into a technical problem like this in Premiere Pro.

If you have an issue that isn't easily solved by any of these solutions, leave a comment below and let us know exactly what the problem is and how you've tried to fix it.

I'd be happy to help you explore more solutions.

Thanks for reading!

-Beth

Hi, I'm Beth.

I started Handcraft Films to give other filmmakers and photographers the gift of documenting their own stories for years to come. I hope you'll learn something new and share your creativity here.
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