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How to use the Timeline A1 V1 Track Controls

What do the numbers to the left of the timeline mean and how to use them to speed up your workflow

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Premiere-pro-track-controls

This is a run down of what the numbers on the left of the timeline do and how you can use them to speed up your editing workflow. I’ll be showing you in Premiere, but the concept is pretty much the same across all editing software. 

 

WHAT IS A TRACK

First things first you need to understand what a track is. A track is each of the rows on your timeline. You’ve got video tracks and audio tracks.

premiere-pro-timeline

V1 = Video Track 1

V2 = Video Track 2

A1 = Audio Track 1

Etc.

Simple.

So to the left of your editing timeline you’ve got two columns.

 

 

THE FIRST COLUMN OF V & A NUMBERS

premiere-pro-timeline-track-control-left-column

The first column relates to the source that is in your source monitor. You will see V# and/or A# (where # is a number) appear. How many Vs and how many As you see will depend on how many video and audio tracks make up the asset that is currently showing in your source monitor.

premiere-pro-source-monitor

The Premiere Pro source monitor

For example, if you have a still image in your source monitor you will only see a V1 and no A1 because the image has no audio. If you have a .wav audio file in your source monitor then you will only see A1 and no V1 because the audio file has no video. And if you have a video file in your source monitor that has 8 channel surround sound that you should see V1 and A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, A6, A7, A8 down the side.

If you click on the V# or A# symbol in the left column on the timeline then it will turn off that track. This means that when you insert the source into the timeline it will not include the track that you have turned off.

For example if you turn off the A#s then it will only place the video on the timeline, and vice versa. If you wanted both audio and video on the timeline and it’s only putting one or the other on, make sure both channels are selected before placing the source on the timeline.

You can also drag the A# and V# on the left of the timeline to different tracks.

Why is this useful?

Well if you are doing a music pass and you wanted all music on one specific channel, say A5, then you could highlight that track and then use keyboard shortcuts to drop the audio on that particular track only. This would ensure you don’t overwrite clips on any other track, and keep your timeline nice and tidy. A tidy timeline is a tidy mind.

Obviously the same is true for video tracks as well.

 

 

THE SECOND COLUMN OF V & A NUMBERS

premiere-pro-timeline-track-control-right-column

The second column has got a V# or A# on every track that increases in number the further you get from the centre of the timeline. There’s an obvious reason for this, and that’s because these are your track numbers. If ever you need to identify what track (or row) your audio or video clip is on, this is the track number.

The track number can be in two states – highlighted or not highlighted.

When a track is highlighted it means that assets that you place on the timeline will be positioned only on the highlighted tracks. The assets will be placed on the track closest to the horizontal centre of the timeline.

For example, imagine you have V2, V4, V5, V6 highlighted and A4, A5, A6 highlighted. You have a video in your source window that you’d like to put on the timeline and it has one channel of video and stereo audio split over 2 channels. When you place the video clip on the timeline, the video will land on V2, and the two channels of audio will land on A4 and A5.

You can use this feature in useful ways by completely disabling all audio channels for example. By having no audio tracks highlighted you can very quickly build a timeline filled with video clips without audio by using keyboard shortcuts. Perfect when you need to pepper some b-roll across your edit or build a timeline of b-roll selects.

Using these track controls can really help speed up the process of getting footage on your timeline.

You can even assign each of the track numbers to a keyboard shortcut to enable/disable each track at the push of a button. This is some big brain efficiency that will take some getting used to to master, but will bring with it a satisfying speed boost.

If you want more ways to speed up your workflow, check out my gold-standard keyboard shortcuts I use to edit faster than most of my peers.

 

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