Every time I go to a gig or a festival, I’m reminded of the parallels between the practice of filmmaking and the practice of making music. If you ever watch an electronic musician play, you see them pressing a million buttons at once, their fingers running everywhere, every sound so immediate and coordinated, it’s impressive to watch.

People are usually surprised to hear that there is just as much virtuosity among electronic music-makers than with any other musicians. People are even MORE surprised to hear you can turn FILM EDITING into a process as full-flowing and immediately-rewarding – just as if you were playing an instrument. With a combination of keyboard shortcuts, a little patience and a sleight of hands that you’ll develop faster than you can imagine – you’ll bring flair and showmanship into the edit suite.

One-Button Panel Navigation  

You‘re wasting so much time throwing your mouse from corner to corner, from your timeline to ‘project panel’ to the ‘effects panel’ to wherever. Having to hit the thin tab at the top every single time. Nightmare. Customise your keyboard shortcuts so that with one press of a button – a different panel will be highlighted. Cut down your mouse journey by half.

I use the “F1-9” keys to navigate between panels. F1 for ‘Project’, F2 for ‘Timeline’, F3 for ‘Effect Controls’, and F4 for ‘Effects’.

Blow (and Shrink) Your Timeline To Full Screen And Back

This is, by far, my favourite technique and one that any type of editor will enjoy, no matter how you like your work-space organised. This requires a combo of 3 keyboard shortcuts, which sounds a lot, but just watch how fluid:


  1. You memorise the ‘~ (tilde)’ key on your keyboard. That key expands your timeline to fill your entire screen.
  2. you customise a keyboard button for the “Expand All Tracks” command (Application > Expand All Tracks)…. And ANOTHER keyboard button for “Minimise All Tracks” (Application > Minimise All Tracks)
  3. Fly.


The main perks of this are that you can keep your Program Monitor (your film) as big and wide as possible, without having to compromise the size of your timeline. So whenever you’d need to make a change – you blow up your timeline (tilde key), expand all tracks, make the change, minimise all tracks, shrink your timeline, and you’re back to exactly where you want to be.

I use “Shift+Z” to expand all tracks, and “Shift+X” to minimise all tracks. For light speed editing, replace the ‘tilde key’ with “Shift+C” and you’ll fool people into thinking you’re pressing one button altogether.

Turning your Bins into storyboards

If the mouse and keyboard are your instrument, then Bins are your music sheets. Bins can be used in Premiere to navigate your way through your edit; whether it’s by quickly working back through your edit, or by finding and adding different texts, animations, sound effects or music loops…The possibilities are endless.

The way I like to work is quite simple, others may find their own avenues through making groups that are useful to them. I personally start with the 5 key Bins for a project:

  1. Media

This is all your footage. Within this Bin you can go into A Cameras, B Cameras or shoot days. The goal is to easily be able to assess exactly where your footage is and if you’re missing anything.

  1. Sequences

This is where you can really utilise the Bins function. Say you’re shooting an event and you have so much variety throughout of the day, you could organise your footage into, for example:

  • Establishing shots
  • Detail shots
  • Photo Shoots
  • Speeches
  • Dancing

This means you’d be able to quickly find these elements without spending ages scanning through your timeline. You can also create a sub-folder for certain points through your main edit, so if you really get stuck in a rabbit hole, you can step back to a previous edit.

  1. Graphics

This Bin can be used for titles, animations or After Effects projects. These can easily get  muddled up, but it’s key to stay on top of what you’re importing into your project.

  1. Audio

Songs really only need one folder, but that’s not all that goes into our edits. Sound effects can get very confusing, especially when you’re adding 30+ whooshes, whips, bits of chatter, bird songs or car noises. They’re never consistently named so it’s up to you to put them in their correct folders. This will also benefit you on other edits so you can quickly pull out sound effects to use on different projects

  1. Miscellaneous

This is my dumping ground of random adjustment layers, black video, or any other loose bits that you pick up along the way. But you should always still label and sort into the relevant sub Bin, just in case.