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Studio One: Video Editing

PreSonus Studio One: Tips & Techniques By Robin Vincent
Published November 2023

Dragging a video clip into Studio One will automatically create a Global Video Track.Dragging a video clip into Studio One will automatically create a Global Video Track.

Studio One, from version 6 on, is now a surprisingly powerful video editor!

In version 6 of Studio One, PreSonus revamped the Global Video Track from a simple player into something more useful. Video can now become an editable part of your project, letting you build podcasts, pull out TikToks, grab Insta reels or orchestrate your latest movie. I’m sure there are other possibilities between TikTok and eating popcorn at your local flicks, but that’s a discussion for another time. The important thing is that working with film, footage, clips, video, grabs, or movies is now completely possible in Studio One. Let’s check out how.

Elegant Or Simple?

First of all, before we all get too excited, the video support in Studio One is rather elementary. This is not going to replace the depth and detail of Davinci Resolve or Final Cut Pro. There are just enough tools and possibilities to make it worthwhile exploring, but many of the vital things video editors need, like fades and crossfades, text overlay and colour correction, are unavailable. However, if you just shot a video podcast and need to take out all the coughs and “errs” then this is perfect. Alternatively, if you want to experiment with arranging video and audio clips side‑by‑side, this will do the job nicely. And if you are composing to video and need a bit of versatility and proper synchronisation when moving edits, then you will find what you need here.

The point is that a lot of the content we are creating nowadays is mixed media, and we often have to shift from one editing environment to another depending on what’s driving our production. The Global Video Track doesn’t solve that problem entirely, but it can keep you in the familiar space of Studio One more of the time.

In The Frame

As with most things in Studio One, the easiest way to import things is to drag them in from the browser. There’s no limit to the number of videos you can pull in. Use the Files tab to find the folder with your video files; if they are compatible, they will appear with a filmstrip icon. In fact, I think drag‑and‑drop is the only way to import video files, and you can drag them in directly from a folder rather than using the built‑in browser if you prefer.

The supported codecs will depend on your OS. Macs support QuickTime, MPEG‑4 and M4V using the H.264 and HEVC codecs. QuickTime also supports MPEG and Apple ProRes. On Windows, you have MPEG‑4 and M4V using H.264 and HEVC, and MPEG=PS using H.264 and MPEG. You will get the smoothest ride if all the clips within a single project use the same format and frame rate.

Drag your video into any space, and Studio One will automatically create the Video Track at the top of the project in the Global Track lane. Alternatively, you can open the Video Track yourself by clicking on the Global Track Visibility icon and selecting it from the menu. It’s the same place you’ll find the Chord Track, Lyric Track, Markers and so on. Studio One generates thumbnails for you, and they zoom and scale really rather smartly. A quick tip is that if you hold Ctrl or Cmd when you drag in the video, Studio One will extract the audio and place it onto a sub‑track for you.

If you are composing to the video then you probably want to be working in frames in order to keep the syncronisation as tight as possible. Studio One can detect the frame rate for you and set the timeline accordingly. There are a couple of places you enable this. First, you can right‑click the video track and select 'Use video frame rate in timeline', which also helpfully tells you what it is. Or you can get to it via the Song Setup window, where you’ll find, next to the Frame Rate entry, a button that says 'From video'. Click that button! You can make all this happen automatically if you dig around in the advanced preferences under the Video tab and tick the appropriate box.

A few options are available in the inspector column if you press the ‘i’ above the video track. These include turning off the thumbnails and frame numbers, showing the audio track, and breaking the link between video and its audio for editing. Under a special Action button, you can set the project frame rate to the video, and remove the audio sub‑track. You can also update the audio track, although I’m not sure what this means. It doesn’t appear to do anything, and there’s no mention in the manual. Answers on a postcard, please.

The Create Audio Playback Track option will put the video’s audio onto a sub‑track below the video.The Create Audio Playback Track option will put the video’s audio onto a sub‑track below the video.

Audio Playback

I mentioned how you can automatically extract audio when you import the video. The audio will exist whether you extract it or not, but by default, the Video Player has the audio muted. This audio might be the sound picked up by the camera microphone and may not be what you will use. In a podcasting scenario, for example, you would probably have recorded the dialogue on a better microphone, to a recorder or into Studio One directly to another track. So you can safely leave the Video Player audio muted. However, when editing the footage and the recorded audio, the sound picked up by the camera can be very useful in helping you visually align the separate audio to the footage. So, if you didn’t automatically extract it, you can do so by right‑clicking the video track header and selecting Create Audio Playback Track, or hitting the little waveform icon next to the filmstrip icon.

You can now line up your recorded audio with the audio from the video and mute the camera audio. You can also play fast and loose with the audio track because, after all, Studio One is all about the audio. The manual suggests that the sub‑track is a bit basic when compared to a standard audio track but, to be honest, I can’t find anything you can’t do with it. It has its own channel in the mixer and access to all the editing tools, automation, effects and Event FX. But if you want to turn it into a normal audio track, all you have to do is drag it down to a new track.

Even if you don’t use the video’s original audio, it can still be useful when it comes to lining up your final audio.Even if you don’t use the video’s original audio, it can still be useful when it comes to lining up your final audio.

Going the other way is perhaps more interesting. You can drag your recorded audio track up into the video sub‑track and it will sit over the top of the original audio. The useful thing about that is that it will now move and can be edited with the video, as if it were the original audio. However, you can unlink the audio from the video using the little Link Audio Track Editing button that’s appeared next to the waveform (which has turned into an open folder) and filmstrip icons. So essentially, provided you’ve lined them up correctly, you can replace the dialogue, then edit it with the video.

The majority of the audio editing tools also work on video.

Edit Sweet

You’ll be pleased to hear that the majority of the audio editing tools also work on video. This includes the trimming of the front and back edges, using the knife to split the video, cutting, copying and pasting, duplicate and slip editing (which is where you move the contents rather than the container). Ripple editing works, too: when enabled, this closes the gaps between two clips if you delete something in between. You can also use the Replace function to drop one video onto another and retain all the edits. Simply hold Alt or Option when dragging in the video. This could be a new version of the video, or a colour‑corrected one, and so on.

One scenario I find myself in is where I want to cut a video clip of a product being used into the video of me talking about it. You can do this in the Video Track simply by dragging the product clip over the top. However, this will also replace the audio and is a reason, perhaps, why you wouldn’t want to drop your recorded audio into the sub‑track. In any case, you can pull the product audio out onto another track and drag the original audio back across the chunk that’s been eaten away.

The video player window is excellent for scrubbing and fine‑tuning your edits. If you press the little spanner icon, you can enable the Time Display. This is the time and frame display of the video clip only, and it doesn’t necessarily match the project timeline. If you place the mouse over the time display and roll your mouse wheel, you can scrub the video in very precise frames. You can also do this on the main transport bar. I’m very impressed with how fast and smooth this is. It doesn’t, however, scrub the audio track. You have to be in playback for that, which just ends up in a fight between you and the cursor.

Here’s one tip if you are in a scenario where you are choosing takes or compiling short clips from longer pieces of video. Open up the Arranger track and use it to name all the sections of your edit. When you’re ready to choose the clips, simply open up the Arranger inspector and Shift‑click the named sections. Hit the Copy To New Scratch Pad button, and all of your best clips are thrown together on the Scratch Pad. One last thing is to use the Remove Gaps command under the Events menu, so that the clips will butt up against each other and be ready for export.

The Export Video menu offers a number of options for your final video’s file format and quality.The Export Video menu offers a number of options for your final video’s file format and quality.

It’s A Wrap

Once everything is done, you’ve edited your video, composed your music, replaced your dialogue and Scratch Padded the best bits, you’ll need to export your finished video. Now, do remember that the audio that’s packed into a video file is compressed and not necessarily at the quality you want it to be, so you might want to export a mixdown separately; it all depends on your destination.

The Export Video option is found under the Song menu. You can select the file type and the codec along with the audio compression. The other options are the same as you’d find with audio export, including the ability to play along in real time.

The improved video features in Studio One version 6 are very encouraging, and I wonder if it’s something that will develop further over time. If PreSonus added fades, text overlay and the handling of image files, it really could do the majority of what I imagine most of us do in our video software.

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