Image of Dan Scott with text How to Add Transitions in Premiere Pro as well as Premiere Pro logo

How to Add Transitions in Premiere Pro

Daniel Scott


This post goes to all directors, content creators, and editors. Start rehearsing your acceptance speech because you are now on the way to cinematic success.

In this step-by-step guide to video transitions in Premiere Pro we will explore basic transition styles and apply these to connect our fresh-cut clips into a smooth and consistent sequence. Finally, we will have a look at some dos and don’ts about editing and applying transitions.

This post is based on my Premiere Pro Essential Course, recently updated with a brand-new Merit Certificate. When you become a BYOL member, you gain access to this course as well as my 30+ additional courses on Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, Webflow, and more. As a BYOL member you will also enjoy personalized support, earn certificates, and tackle exciting community challenges. Head here to sign-up!

Ready to begin?

Lights, camera, action… cut!

Let’s talk like a pro!

We will begin with a set of definitions that will help us communicate efficiently with fellow editors, clients, or stakeholders. We won't get too deep, just some basic terms to build trust.

Non-linear editing: Premiere Pro is a non-linear editing software, meaning that a video can be cut and arranged from one or more sources, in the order we want, no matter how or when the clips were initially shot.

Post-production: Happens mostly in the cutting room. This is the stage where raw footage (filmed sequences) is cut and assembled into a final product. Music, sound, effects, and animations are also added during post-production.

Transition: Connects one clip of video (and audio) to another, closing gaps between them, ensuring smoothness and continuity in a sequence.

Standard Cut: The most common style of transition, Standard Cut immediately connects two clips without any effect involved. If effectively managed, this style allows for smooth flow with short viewer distraction. Modern movies, TV shows, and all media use this transition style to maintain a fast pace and keep attention spans focused.

Effect Transition: Effect transitions add a visual effect or motion to the clip or scene transition. If not used wisely, they can distract and compromise the flow or storytelling.

Dissolve Cut: Dissolve is a widely used effect transition style. Traditionally, it fades a clip to black or white or gradually blends two clips together. Dissolve cuts are often used to separate scenes or point a time or context change. Hollywood classics are full of notable examples of these transitions!

cross dissolve effect example in premiere pro

The cross dissolve cut is an effect transition that blends two clips together without an abrupt cut.

Wipe Cut: If you have seen any Star Wars movies you know exactly what these are. A Wipe effect transition connects clips by replacing one with the following through a vertical wipe movement, from one side of the screen to the other.

This is part of the essential vocabulary that you should know as a video editor. There is a whole lot more to take in, but we’ll go slow and steady, for now. We have covered our theory, let’s get down to editing our videos in Premiere Pro!

Timeout #1

A good video, whether it’s a short film or an ad for a brand of socks, delivers a message or tells an interesting story. Here’s an interesting article on how editing and transitions can impact storytelling

Adding transitions in Premiere Pro

Let’s see where we can find our transitions and how to apply them to the clips we have set in our timeline for some fun hack n’ slash work! 

Let’s look at our Project Panel, the window on the lower left side of our workspace, and click on the Effects tab. Next, we look for the Video Transitions folder (in Premiere Pro they are called bins), double click on it to expand its contents, and there we have the default transition styles available for our projects.

video transitions inside the effects tab in premiere pro

We can find Premiere Pro’s video transitions in the “Effects” tab of the Project panel.

One more thing before we move on: the most common transition that we can find in video editing is the straight cut. As we now know, a cut connects two clips or scenes without any effect applied. It is there from the moment we join them in the timeline or we make a cut at a specific point, generating two independent clips.

As shown above, we recognize a straight cut when we notice an instant change from one clip to the next. Simple and efficient, understanding how it works is vital for a successfully finished video sequence.

Default Transition and Quick Shortcut

This is the quickest way to apply a Default Transition to our video clips. With the Selection tool active, we press and hold SHIFT on both Mac and PC and click on the clips we want to connect. With our clips selected, we press and hold Command + D on a Mac of Control + D on a PC and that is it! Our default transition is placed and ready for previewing.

highlighted default transition connecting two clips in timeline in premiere pro

We can use a shortcut to place a default transition at the point where selected clips connect.

How do we set a transition as default?

Easy! Inside the video transition bin, we select the style and transition we want to set as default, right click it and hit the pop-up button “Set Selected as Default Transition”.

effects panel and set selected as default transition command in premiere pro

We can change Premiere Pro’s default transition at any time in the Effects panel.

Now we will move on to Effect Transitions. These have an extra impact on pace and style, and even contribute to storytelling as we apply them to our video edits. We will start with one of the most popular effect transitions:

Cross Dissolve in Premiere Pro

Inside our Video Transitions bin, let’s double click Dissolve to expand further content and find what transitions this style holds.

We will have a look at three of these Dissolve style transitions, there are many more, make sure you explore them all and stay tuned for future blog posts on Premiere Pro.

You can also check out my Premiere Pro Essentials or Advanced Courses, depending on how well you know this software or how much experience you have with video editing. Go for that merit badge that will stand out in your portfolio!

Let’s pick Cross Dissolve from this set. To apply it, we click and drag it to our timeline and place it between the clips we want to connect.

cross dissolve effect selected from dissolve bin in premiere pro

We want to apply a “Cross Dissolve” transition to our sequence, so we pick it from the Video Transitions bin.

As we can see, the Cross Dissolve transition is now visible and linking those two clips together. If it feels a bit hard to see all the elements at once, we can press and hold Option on a Mac or Alt on a PC and move our mouse scroll wheel up or down to zoom the timeline in or out. This is most helpful when we want to adjust our transitions and make cuts.

zoomed in sequence detail from timeline in premiere pro

We can zoom in or out from our timeline for a closer or wider view of all the elements being edited.

Depending on the effect we are looking for, we can place the transition over both clips, lined with the end of the first clip, or at the start of the second. Assess these options and see which one makes more sense to the scene or the editing process you are working on.  

Let’s stay with the middle option and change timings. We are looking for a smoother transition, so we will increase its duration.

This is quick and easy. We hover the mouse cursor over the transition start or end until the Trim-in or Trim-out icon appears.

adjusting transition duration in premiere pro

We can adjust our transitions' duration by clicking and dragging from their edges.

Next, we click and drag the transition’s edges to the point we want, expanding its duration as we drag. We now have a longer and smoother transition between clips or scenes.

expanded transition joining two clips in premiere pro

Expanding or reducing a transition duration can have a strong impact on our video’s overall viewing experience.

It looks great! This transition is recurrent in movies as a suggestion of time or location change. Classic directors and editors loved them! Try different durations and placements to see how this impacts your audience. It’s fun!

Dip to black in Premiere Pro

Let’s go back to our Dissolve bin and pick Dip to Black. We click and drag it to our timeline and set it on the desired connection.

dip to black transition placed over timeline in premiere pro

We can drag our new transition straight from the Project panel into its point in the timeline.

This transition has a fade out effect, our first clip will gradually lose its brightness until it’s fully dark and jumps to the next clip or scene.

dip to black effect transition on the preview monitor in premiere pro

Dip to black displays a quick brightness variation down to full black to indicate a visual cut between clips or scenes.

Dip to Black has a dramatic effect if slowed down, and it still cuts strong if it happens fast. It usually indicates the end of a scene.

Dip to White in Premiere Pro

Once again, we move to our Dissolve bin inside Video Transitions but now let’s pick Dip to White. Click and drag. Easy! It works exactly as the Dip to Black transition but has a stronger visual impact. The first clip will fade to white or, in other words, its brightness increases until it reaches full-white and jumps to the next clip or scene.

dip to white effect transition on the preview monitor in premiere pro

Dip to white is similar to dip to black, but the quick brightness change moves up to full white.

This one is less used than Dip to Black, but it efficiently represents a new beginning or a time jump. TV show CSI used it for flashbacks and animated forensic sequences.

Dip to Black as Fade In and Fade Out Effects

We can use the Dip to Black transition in Premiere Pro to begin or end a sequence with a Fade In from Black or Fade Out to Black. This is common in a wide range of media and editing styles and so easy to apply.

Let’s see an example of Fade Out to Black to mark the end of a lesson.

There is no difficulty at all, we just have to pick Dip to Black from the Dissolve bin, click and drag it to the end of the last clip in the sequence inside our timeline, set its duration and watch the preview!

dip to black effect transition working as scene end cut in premiere pro

A dip to black transition at the end of a sequence will cause a fade to black effect that marks the end of a scene.

Impressive, huh?

I’ve added this specific transition here so I could show you two other important terms for filming and video editing.

Timeout #2

A director shouts “Cut!” to his crew when he feels a good (or a bad) take is completed. As a video editor, how do we know the most efficient moment to make a cut? Check out this article and find out how a good edit makes everything clear and meaningful to your audience.

Bonus – Take 1: Pre-Roll and Post-Roll in video editing

As we learn in Premiere Pro, video editing involves lots of cutting and transitioning and, many times, to make these efficient we need some extra material to view and cut. Does it make sense? Let me explain:

Pre-roll is the footage captured or filmed before the video’s main content. It’s usually meant to be cut or overlapped by transitions but it’s important because of that. Pre-roll gives the editor the margin of time to properly set the start of a scene or ensure a smooth transition from the previous one.

Post-roll is the material captured or filmed after the video’s main footage. This material is often meant for the “cutting room floor” but, as in pre-roll, it plays a significant role in closing a scene or setting an easy transition between scenes.

post-roll material highlighted at the end of a sequence in premiere pro

Post-roll material is filmed to assist the editor with timing and cuts for linear and smooth scene transitions.

Whenever you see long fades in a movie or TV show, grasp that they were crafted over some pre-roll or post-roll material. And if the editor nailed it, you will thank him for the great cut and the director for filming those extra seconds.

Bonus Take 2: Don’t use these!

This is less of a lesson and more of a heads-up!

If you have studied Adobe Photoshop with me, you already know of the existence of the Hidden Law of Designers on Lens Flare. In three words, never use it! It is forbidden! Unless you want to, of course. But don’t!

In Premiere Pro, you will meet the Hidden Law of Video Editors on Page Peel and Barn Doors Transitions. It’s very clear: never use them! They are forbidden! It’s not a crime, of course. But don’t!

page peel transition example in premiere pro

Page Peel is great for fun and laughs but may not be efficient in adding a professional look to our videos.

barn doors transition example in premiere pro

Barn doors can bring your country life spirit to the surface, but may be a bit too strong for your video editing.

Jokes aside, know your transitions, stay true to your video’s message, and to the audience you are editing for. As in most creative or editing work, “less is more” will always be safer than “lots is more.” Too many effects or sounds connecting two scenes will distract and often overwhelm. If your transitions are noted by your audience, you will know you have done something wrong.

Check out some movies awarded for Best Editing and see how subtleness is usually the secret for a beautiful edit. Don’t be afraid to watch some low-budget productions and see where the editors may have gone wrong. There’s a lot to learn on both sides.

What 's Next?

Now that you know how transitions can be applied to your sequence in Premiere Pro, you can boldly face your new project with total confidence in your talent and new skills! When you become a BYOL member, you will gain access to my Premiere Pro courses as well as my 30+ additional courses on Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, Figma, Webflow, and more. As a BYOL member you will also enjoy personalized support, earn certificates, and tackle exciting community challenges. Head here to sign-up!

See you in class! – Dan