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Issues with the Import Workflow based on student usage

Explorer ,
Mar 09, 2023 Mar 09, 2023

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Hi all,

 

As someone who offers technical assistance to schools in using Premiere Pro - I'd like to highlight a few usability issues with the new Import screen that I've seen tripping up new users. I've given demos to new students of Premiere Pro (often being their first experience of an editing program) for the past 5-6 years now and the 2023 release in particular has caused a fair amount of confusion.

 

1) Project Name and Project Location is not prominent enough and the page makes it difficult to remedy after you've created the project.

This bar along the top has proven too inconspicious for a lot of students. When I hover around the room and ask them to click in the 'Project name' field - the first place most of them are looking at is:

  • The big blue button/bar along the bottom.
  • The sidebar on the left or the right.
  • The last place they look, if they notice it at all, is along the top where the fields are.

 

I feel this could be down to the small text size, particularly in comparison to the 'Import Settings' heading or the secondary colour highlight of the project creation bar along the bottom. Perhaps bigger text, a different colour background or putting it in one of the sidebars with a big heading 'Project settings' would aid it's discovery and make this process more intuitive to new users.

 

If a student has not chosen the right save location for their project (in school settings, usually not the default folder supplied) this can then be difficult to remedy because of a weird quirk with the import/edit/export tabs:

 

For one, a number of students have been triggering this screen (which I assume is a glitch) by:

  • Clicking on the import tab to try and find the 'Project name' and 'Project location' fields they realise they missed when creating their project, except those fields don't show up after the project has been created.
  • They then try to 'go back' by clicking on the Home icon
  • Thinking they can edit it from there, they then click on the project they created when they see it in the recent projects list.
  • This results in this weird amalgamation of the Import/Edit screen which to be honest is not only confusing to new users but was also confusing to me when I first saw it:

Benagain_0-1678356203058.png

 

If this is in fact a glitch - it is still present: the screenshot above was taken in the current Premiere Pro Beta.

 

Secondly, once I'd caught wind of enough students not having saved their projects in the right spot, I asked them to go to 'File -> Save As' and put it in the appropriate folder. However, this context menu item is disabled when the 'Import' tab is selected, even after a project has been created. This means that anyone who had gone back to the Import tab to try and find the fields they missed or, who had triggered the Import/Edit screen glitch, were unable to click on the menu item I was directing them to.

 

2) It is incredibly easy to import a lot of files you didn't mean to

On a number of occasions I am seeing students start off with a huge amount of unintended clutter filling up their project bin or lagging Premiere Pro. The reason for this is that students are accidentally selecting folders of content they didn't mean to and not realising that those folders stay selected even as you navigate deeper into the file system.

 

Since Premiere will start tallying up all of the contents of the folder you selected, this problem compounds the more they misclick, especially on network shares, resulting in an incredibly laggy experience.

Benagain_1-1678360777604.png

If you then click on 'Create' without realising how much stuff you've selected, you'll now be waiting for Premiere to load every image, sound file and scrap of video it can find and loading it onto the timeline for you. To new users, the array of folders down the bottom once again is inconspicious; not being recognised as something that's reacting to their every misclick.

 

It's my observation that many students have been accidentally selecting a folder by either:

  • Not double-clicking a folder fast enough, which selects the folder they were intending to open. As mentioned, on network shares, this can be incredibly slow. They then continue to navigate to their folder to select their footage, see that it's already selected, don't realise that their selection includes everything that they've navigated past on their way to the current folder and click 'Create' - importing the entire contents of the network folder into their project.
  • Clicking on the wrong folder first, then double-clicking on the folder they intended to click on - meaning that wrong first-click is now a selection for import even though it's 'no longer on screen' - it may be on the selection bar, but it's not 'selected' in the mind of the student because this interface works differently to a typical file browser (where highlighting files in a folder and then going into another folder instigates a new selection).
  • Accidentally click/dragging and highlighting a bunch of folders, which is even easier to do if the interface is laggy because you've misclicked on a root folder of the network share, which then makes the import screen laggy - making it easier to accidentally highlight more files accidentally as they navigate to their folder. The problem compounds the deeper they go.

 

A common thread here is not realising that the bar along the bottom indicates selected files and that files can be selected even though they're not visible in the current file view. It's also not super intuitive that for them to 'unselect' files they have to hover over the icons along the bottom, see if the filepath/filename is one they intended to select, right-click that icon and then choose 'Clear.'

 

Perhaps a split-pane where you drag/double-click the media you want directly into the 'Project Bin', an animation showing selected files moving down to the selection bar to make it more obvious to the user or some kind of secondary action that adds the selected media to the queue.

 

Conclusion

My grumpy professional opinion is that I avoid using the new import screen in my own work because I want to be able to playback clips in the source-viewer, view metadata and reveal media so I can use other processing software, among other things, and I'm inclined to encourage students to do the same. But it would mean tutoring against the workflow the software is trying to guide them into, when the workflow itself, as far as ordering is concerned, isn't really the issue. The import screen could have easily been a special workspace of tried-and-tested panels that already exist - the default Assembly workspace, sans all but the Project Bin, Media Browser, Source Viewer and the addition of a 'Project Settings' panel. You could even lock the damn things in place if you were really set on this 'non-flexible' interface stuff... from where the influence comes isn't hard to see - but Premiere's adjustable panels have always been an asset.

 

My more optimistic opinion is that the import page is a step in the right direction - but currently it feels like there's more traps for students to get caught up in before they've even created their first sequence - and this is in a classroom with a technical assistant that's dealt with the software enough to come up with solutions fairly quickly. For brand new users going at this solo, I imagine this could be quite a frustrating experience... because even knowing how to work around the issues, it certainly has been for us.

 

Thanks,

Benjamin.

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Import and ingest , Performance or Stability , User experience or interface

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1 Comment
LEGEND ,
Mar 09, 2023 Mar 09, 2023

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Excellent post! Hoping that @TeresaDemel pops in here ... she would know who to pass this onto.

 

And I do mean that is an excellent post to read through! Detailed and precise listing of problems, then cause & effect of each, step-wise & in order. MOST impressive.

 

And helpful.

 

I teach Pr also, though you get to a lot more early students than I do!

 

My process, is to start by telling them there are two ways to build a project, both start here on the Import page ... but you have to get through this page to the Project panel to use the other process.

 

And I go directly to the bit about using the Name, Location, Create to skip the rest of this page at need.

 

Because not hardly anyone ever figures out on their own that you can skip importing anything via this page, and most users should skip importing via this page.

 

So your points about the process not being intuitive are very, very well put.

 

Neil

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