How to edit video in Photoshop CC and CS6

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Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.

Did you know that you can edit video within Adobe's image-editing program? There is no need to learn the ins and outs of Premiere or Final Cut when Photoshop does just fine for some simple edits and transformations.

Video editing has been part and parcel of Photoshop since CS3 Extended. If you are running an older version of Photoshop, here is our tutorial on how to cut video using CS5 Extended.

Photoshop CC and CS6 are mostly the same when it comes to video features. Photoshop can read the following major file formats and more:

  • .264

  • AVI

  • MPEG-4

  • MOV (QuickTime)

  • MTS

A full list of supported file formats is available on this Adobe support page.

Getting started

Open up Photoshop and head to the Window menu. Make sure that Timeline is selected, which will bring up the video toolbar at the bottom of the screen. Alternatively, head to Window > Workspace > Motion to bring up the entire suite of video controls.

Now it is time to import the video file. Either drag a supported video into the Photoshop main window or click the filmstrip icon in the timeline and select "Add Media".

Alternatively, for more precise control over the file when it comes to exporting, go to File > New. Select Film & Video from the drop-down menu and change to the appropriate values. Once the new document has been created, import the video file itself by going to Layer > Video Layers > New Video Layer from File.

(Screenshot by CBSi)

The video will now be available for editing in the timeline. Like any traditional video editor, Photoshop lets you scrub through the footage and gives you some basic controls over audio. Note that if you playback the file within the edit window, Photoshop may drop the frame rate to keep displaying the footage in real time.

The next thing you should do before launching into the edit is to turn the video layer into a Smart Object. This will allow you to apply filters to the entire video image in one particular layer — even if there are cuts or transitions. Choose the correct layer name and then select Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object.

A purple clip means that the layer has been converted to a Smart Object.
(Screenshot by CBSi)

Once this has been done, any adjustments you make through filters will be reflected in all frames on that particular layer.

Making edits

Editing video using Photoshop uses many of the same principles you may be familiar with when working with still images.

Depending on the camera and lens combination used to shoot your video, you may want to apply a lens correction filter. Photoshop may be able to automatically detect what camera the video was filmed with. Head to Filter > Lens Correction, and Photoshop should auto-detect the camera.

Note that Photoshop may not detect it if the video was created using a smartphone. If this is the case, you can apply corrections to the video image using the Custom tab in the Lens Correction window. The controls are quite comprehensive, including the ability to add or remove a vignette, make adjustments for chromatic aberrations or adjust perspective.

Add some custom lens corrections in this window.
(Screenshot by CBSi)

Videos can be split by selecting the scissor tool on the Timeline. This will cut the video in two at the position of the playhead. Like any other video editor, in Photoshop you can move clips back and forth to other layers on the Timeline.

Add in any extra audio files using the dedicated Audio Track layer. Click the musical note icon to import music or other sounds. To make adjustments to the audio recorded with the video file, right-click on the appropriate clip, and then select the musical note icon to adjust the volume or mute it.

The adjustments palette.
(Screenshot by CBSi)

Some basic filters will be accessible via the Adjustments layer palette in the workspace. Options available include black-and-white, photo filter, curves, exposure and brightness/contrast adjustments. Photoshop will include these filters as a separate, non-destructive layer that you can toggle on or off using the regular layers palette.


Photoshop has some common transitions built in, such as fades and crossfades. These can be found in the Timeline toolbar, denoted by the split-square transitions icon.

Select a transition from the menu, and then drag it on to the appropriate layer on the Timeline. Transitions can be extended or shortened by dragging the duration slider just underneath the video image on the Timeline. Alternatively, right-click on the transition itself to change the duration with more precise control.

A list of the simple transitions available in Photoshop CC.
(Screenshot by CBSi)

To change the speed of a clip, right-click on the appropriate layer. Select "Speed" to increase or decrease playback speed using the slider or a percentage value. To slow down motion, choose a speed such as 50 per cent.

Transitions can also be applied to audio. Again, to work with audio recorded with a video, right-click on the appropriate clip, and go to the musical note icon. Apply fade in or out transitions where desired.

Text and objects

Photoshop lets you add text to videos using the same method as still images. Select the text tool from the side toolbar, place the cursor on the image and start typing. Photoshop places the text on a new layer so you can move it to the desired place in the timeline.

To add a transition to text, simply use the same method outlined above for the video image — just drag the transition over the text layer instead.

Adobe has detailed information on working with more complex motion on its website.


When your masterpiece is ready to go, head to File > Export > Render Video. Make any adjustments to output file type, or select one of the many Adobe presets to make a YouTube or Vimeo-ready short film. Make sure that "Adobe Media Encoder" is selected rather than "Photoshop Image Sequence", or you will end up with a series of still JPEG images rather than a video.

When you are satisfied with the export settings, press Render and let Photoshop make your movie.

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