Project settings and presets

About project settings and presets

Project settings determine the properties of your video and audio project assets. For example, they determine their format (AVCHD), source (hard disk or Flash memory camcorder), and aspect ratio (standard or widescreen video). Project settings also specify the frame rate, audio sample rate, upper or lower field first, and bit depth for your project.

When you start a new project, Adobe Premiere Elements applies a project preset to it. A project preset is a collection of preconfigured project settings. You can use the default project preset of the television standard for the Adobe Premiere Elements version installed on your computer.

NTSC (National Television Standards Committee) is the television standard for the Americas, the Caribbean, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan region.

PAL (Phase Alternating Line) is the standard format for Europe, Russia, Africa, Middle East, India, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, China, and other parts of Asia.

Because you can’t change the project preset after starting a project, verify the format of your source footage before selecting a project preset.


If you specify lower-quality settings for output (such as streaming web video), do not change your project settings. Change your export settings instead.

Dynamic sequence preset

When you add a movie clip to the Expert view timeline, Adobe Premiere Elements automatically changes your project settings in the background to match the clip properties. They include dimension, fps, pixel aspect ratio, and field order.

Select presets and change settings

Adobe Premiere Elements includes default project presets for media from common sources like cameras, DVD discs, and mobile phones among others.

You can select from a list of available presets, however, you cannot create custom presets. The presets for any project can only be selected at the time of creating the project. You cannot change the preset for a project after it has been created.

To select a project preset when starting a new project, click Change Settings in the New Project dialog and select the preset that matches your footage.

If you add a movie clip whose preset does not match the project’s preset, to the Expert view timeline, a message is displayed. Click Yes to let Adobe Premiere Elements change the project settings to use the closest available preset. For more information, see Dynamic Sequence Preset.

Select a project preset

By default, Adobe Premiere Elements uses an AVCHD preset for the television standard you specify when you install the program. Select a new preset to create projects in a different format, television standard, or frame aspect ratio.

The preset you select becomes the default, which is used for all new projects, until you select another preset. If you choose a preset temporarily, change it when you’ve finished using it.

  1. In the Welcome screen, click Video Editor to start Adobe Premiere Elements.

  2. Choose File > New > Project.

  3. In the New Project dialog box, click Change Settings.
  4. Select the preset that matches the format and standard of the footage you want to edit.

  5. Click OK.
  6. Provide a name and location for your project, and click OK.

Change settings for an existing project

After you create a project, you can only make minor display-related changes to the project settings.


You cannot change the Editing mode and the format of Preview files after you create a project.

  1. Choose Edit > Project Settings > General.
  2. In the Project Settings dialog box, specify project settings for General, Capture, and Video Rendering.
  3. Click OK.

Check your project settings

Project presets include project settings under three categories: General, Capture, and Video Rendering. After you start a project, you can’t change most of the settings, such as frame rate, size, and aspect ratio. However, you can review the settings to ensure that the media you want to add to the project is compatible.

  1. Open the project in Premiere Elements, and choose Edit > Project Settings > [category].

    Third‑party products, such as PCs, capture cards, and hardware bundles sometimes include custom presets. See the third‑party documentation for details.

NTSC vs PAL presets

NTSC presets conform to the NTSC standard, where each video frame includes 525 horizontal lines displayed at 29.97 frames per second. The Standard NTSC preset applies to footage that has a 4:3 aspect ratio. The Widescreen NTSC preset applies to footage that has a 16:9 aspect ratio.

PAL presets conform to the PAL standard, where each video frame includes 625 lines displayed at 25 frames per second.

General settings

General settings (Edit > Project Settings > General) control the fundamental characteristics of a project. They include the editing mode used to process video, frame size, aspect ratios, count time (Display Format), and playback settings (Timebase). These settings match the most common source media in your project. For example, if most of your footage is DV, use the DV Playback editing mode. The quality of your video can deteriorate if you change these settings arbitrarily.

General settings include the following options.

Editing Mode

Identifies the television standard and format for the project. You cannot change the Timebase, Frame Size, Pixel Aspect Ratio, Fields, and Sample Rate preview settings. The editing mode determines these settings.

Note: The Editing Mode setting represents the specifications of the source media, not the final output settings. Specify output settings when you export a project.


Specifies the time divisions used to calculate the time position of each edit (PAL: 25, NTSC: 29.97).

Playback Settings

This button is available if you use a DV preset, a DV editing mode, or install a plug‑in that provides additional playback functions. For a DV editing mode, this option indicates where you want your previews to play. For information on the playback settings for third‑party plug-ins, see the developer documentation.

Frame Size

Specifies the frame pixels for your project playback. In most cases, the frame size for your project matches the frame size of your source media. You can’t change the frame size to compensate for slow playback. However, you can adjust the playback settings: Ctrl-click the monitor and choose Playback Settings. Adjust the frame size of the output by changing the Export settings.

Pixel Aspect Ratio

Sets the aspect ratio for pixels. The video format (PAL or NTSC) determines this ratio. If you use a pixel aspect ratio that is different from your video, the video can appear distorted when you render it and play.


Specifies the field dominance, or the order in which the two interlaced fields of each frame are drawn.

Display Format (video)

Specifies the way time appears throughout the project. The time display options correspond to standards for editing video and motion‑picture film. For DV NTSC video, choose 30-fps Drop‑Frame Timecode. For DV PAL video, choose 25-fps Timecode.

Title Safe Area

Specifies the frame edge area to mark as a safe zone for titles, so that titles aren’t cut off by TVs that zoom the picture. A rectangle with crosshairs marks the title‑safe zone when you click the Safe Zones button in the monitor. Titles require a wider safe zone than action.

Action Safe Area

Specifies the frame edge area to mark as a safe zone for action so that TVs that zoom the picture do not exclude the action. A rectangle marks the action‑safe zone when you click the Safe Zones button in the monitor.

Sample Rate

Identifies the audio sample rate for the project preset. In general, higher rates provide better audio quality in projects, but they require more disk space and processing. Record audio at a high‑quality sample rate, and capture audio at the rate at which it was recorded.

Display Format (audio)

Specifies whether audio time display is measured by using audio samples or milliseconds. By default, time is displayed in audio samples. However, you can display time in milliseconds for sample‑level precision when you are editing audio.

Video Rendering settings

Video Rendering settings control the picture quality, compression settings, and color depth that Premiere Elements uses when you play video from the Expert view timeline.

To access Video Rendering settings, choose Edit > Project Settings > Video Render. These settings include the following options:

Maximum Bit Depth

Allows Premiere Elements to use up to 32‑bit processing, even if the project uses a lower bit depth. Selecting this option increases precision but decreases performance.

File Format

Specifies the format of the preview video.


Identifies the codec (compressor/decompressor) that Premiere Elements applies to generate movie previews. The project preset defines the codec. You cannot change it because it must conform to the DV standard.

note: If you don’t apply effects to your clip or change its frame/time characteristics, Adobe Premiere Elements uses the clip’s original codec for playback. If your changes necessitate frame recalculation, Adobe Premiere Elements applies the codec identified here.

Optimize Stills

Select this option to use still images efficiently in projects. For example, you can use an image that has a duration of 2 seconds in a 30-fps project. Premiere Elements creates a 2‑second frame instead of 60 frames, each with a duration of 1/30 second. Deselect this option if projects encounter playback problems when displaying still images.

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