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Understanding Premiere Pro Metadata

This was originally a quick answer to a question on the Moving to Premiere Pro forum on Facebook, which is where you’ll find me most of the time. This blog doesn’t get used too often these days due to Twitter and Facebook, but I still maintain it for more complicated questions like this one.

Someone asked a series of questions about where Premiere Pro stores metadata, and why there are a lot of duplicate fields in the metadata panel, in two separate groups.

The Adobe engineers have found that people use metadata in one of two ways, typically – some use it on a project-specific basis, adding notes, descriptions, and commentary that relate specifically to that one project. In this case, the raw assets shouldn’t hold the metadata, as it could confuse other editors using the material. The other group wants to add metadata to the raw clips, so all editors, present and future, can take advantage of the information added.

Basically, Premiere Pro has two systems in place to accommodate either workflow – it can store in the individual files (or an adjoining sidecar) or it can store metadata as a clip property in the project file itself. Plus, there’s a special way to “link” these two systems together, in cases where you want to auto-populate from project to asset, and visa-versa.

The easiest way to see these two systems is to pull up the Metadata panel:


Any metadata entered in the top portion (under Clip) is just local project metadata. It’s tied to the selected clip, but nothing gets modified in the original file (or XMPsidecar.) This is great for people that are marking up clips in a specific way related to this project. Nothing added will be visible in other project files.

Any metadata entered under the bottom portion (under File) is embedded into the original asset if possible, and placed into an XMP sidecar if it’s not possible. (varies depending on read-access and file format.) This is great when you want to permanently mark up a clip for use with multiple editors, or add metadata that others will use in the future. However, be advised that this is one of the ONLY times that Premiere Pro could be modifying your original assets.

There is an exception to this Clip/File separation  – if you look at the screen grab, you’ll notice that the Description field in both areas has a little chain link icon on the right-hand side. This indicates that anything that’s entered in one area will automatically be copied into the other area. If you don’t want this information copied from the project into the file and visa-versa, click the little chain icon and turn off the link.

BTW – the Project bin has a slightly different view of the Clip properties, and anything entered there will also show up in the Metadata panel. It’s just more of a column, multi-clip view. Here’s part of the Project Bin showing the Description field for the clip in the above example:


If you want to modify the column view in the Project bin, use the bin flyout menu, and choose Metadata Display.

Once a property is linked in the Metadata panel, it doesn’t matter where you enter the metadata – for example, if Description is linked, you could enter it directly in the Project bin, and you’d see it show up under Clip metadata and (since it’s linked) in the File metadata.

The Link icon won’t magically copy metadata that’s already entered, so it won’t overwrite anything unless you type something new.

Any questions?


Question 1: What do you mean that Premiere Pro sometimes writes in the original file, and sometimes uses a sidecar?

In the Metadata panel, under the File section, Premiere Pro is capable of adding metadata to the original source media. It will do this if the file format supports metadata in the header, and the read/write privileges are enabled on the file. Common file formats like MOV typically support metadata in the file header, but there are some exceptions. For example, M2T has no place for common metadata. In these cases, or in cases where the files are locked read-only, Premiere Pro will create an XML file in the same location as the original clip, and store the File metadata there.


Question 2: I want a global way of turning on/off the linking of Clip and File Metadata. Is it possible?

As of Premiere Pro CC 2014.2, there is a setting for this. Look under Preferences -> Media -> Enable Clip and XMP Metadata Linking.


Question 3: You refer to XML files, but the software talks about XMP. What’s the difference?

XMP is a very specific form of XML, used for metadata for photos, images, and now video. It was originally developed by Adobe, but is now an ISO standard. More info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extensible_Metadata_Platform



    This might be a dumb question, so please excuse my ignorance, but will this form of XML be advantageous for video sitemaps on websites? Can search engines read the metadata?

      Hi – This metadata may be useful if preserved in the output file. In the Premiere Pro Export Settings, there’s a button at the bottom for Metadata. Click that, and there’s a whole bunch of options in the Metadata Export panel. If you leave it set to Preserve All, it’ll carry the source clip metadata into the exported finished file.

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