For those that know us, or follow this blog closely, you’ll know that 100 ACRE FILMS is an all Adobe house when it comes to post-production. We have been for years. And we run everything on Windows. These two things often confuse some of my fellow production friends. Many of them are Apple based, running Final Cut Pro. One producer a few years back asked me what we cut with, and when I answered Premiere Pro, he looked at me as if I had just told him I had cancer – “Wow…I’m sorry”. Funny how times have changed.
Since Apple released Final Cut Pro X, things are starting to shift in the world of video editing. Editors I know who are (or were) die-hard FCP users are looking at what else is out there – ready to jump ship. I really never thought things would end up this way. On June 21st, Apple released Final Cut Pro X, and it was not long after that Adobe and Avid began a fight for a huge number of disgruntled and unhappy Final Cut Pro users. And with so much focus being put on both Avid and Premiere Pro, I thought I’d share why we use the Adobe tools, and specifically Premiere Pro as our editor.
One of the biggest reasons is native format support. And when I say native, I mean native. If you’re shooting tapeless (like us), you just import the footage in with no transcoding or re-wrapping of any kind. Shoot RED – just import the .R3D files…no proxies needed. Shoot XDCAM EX (like we do) – just import the whole BPAV folder recorded on the SxS card. Premiere sorts out all the files and brings in the footage. It’s really that easy. Panasonic P2 files are a joy to work with. And once it’s in, you’re ready to start editing. Transcoding to some intermediate codec can take not only time but extra hard drive space as well. This way, I’ve only got one set of files on my main media drives – the originals.
Another reason Premiere Pro is our go to NLE is the Mercury Playback Engine. If you’ve never seen it in action, you’re missing something special. This really is what allows you to playback all this native footage so smoothly. And if you have one of the approved NVIDIA cards, your playback capabilities just got a lot better. We’ve got a Quadro 4000 card in our main workstation, and with it Premiere Pro is able to play back multiple streams of HD (or RED) in realtime with effects added to the clips…no rendering. The GPU of the Quadro card allows for this, and it’s really quite amazing. I can stack a number of effects onto a clip – color correction, blur, crop, keying, RGB curves…the list goes on, and it will playback in realtime with no rendering. Transitions – same thing. Many of the most common transitions are GPU accelerated meaning no rendering for them. This is so great because I can just keep working – I don’t have to wait for clips to render to see how things look.
We use After Effects…we use After Effects a lot! Premiere Pro and After Effects (and Photoshop for that matter) all play together very nicely. Through the use of Dynamic Link, I can bring After Effects projects right into Premiere Pro and treat them like footage. I can make changes to the After Effects project, and it will automatically update in Premiere Pro – I don’t even have to hit save. I can’t tell you how much easier this makes life. And this same functionality carries over into Photoshop, with the exception that I have to save in Photoshop, but once I do, the image will update in Premiere Pro.
Encore, Adobe’s DVD authoring tool, has this same ability. We have a few really big DVD authoring jobs every year. And the usual workflow is to do all the editing in Premiere Pro, open Encore and send over the sequences from Premiere Pro, and then do all the authoring. With Dynamic Link, after I get comments from the client about changes to the various clips, all I have to do is open Premiere Pro and make the changes. When I open Encore, the changes will be there as well so I just have to re-encode and burn a new DVD. I don’t have to worry about bringing new clips in and swapping them out.
And something we’re using more and more here for client review is Encore’s ability to create a Flash version of the DVD project. We post the files to our FTP site, and clients can go online and have the entire DVD experience right inside their web browser. Clients don’t have to wait for us to mail or deliver their DVD copy for review – they can see it as soon as we get it encoded and posted. We save on postage, time to deliver, and the cost of DVD media.
One other feature of note is Premiere Pro’s ability to import and export Final Cut Pro XML project files, as well as Avid AAF project files. So for those of you looking to move from Final Cut Pro 7, consider the fact that you can open your old projects in Premiere Pro. There are some limitations to this, but for the most part, your projects will import in ready to edit. As a Windows user, I’ve even opened up Final Cut Pro projects and they come in almost complete – just had to redo some titles and other effects.
I could go on listing feature after feature that makes working with Premiere Pro so easy, but the bottom line is that for us at 100 ACRE FILMS, it just works. It does the job, and it helps us tell our clients stories with ease. And at the end of the day, that’s really what it’s all about. It’s not perfect – no piece of software is. It does crash on occasion, the trimming tools are not as robust as Avid but they get the job done, the media management is in need of some improvement, and I’d like to see the built-in color correction tools improved. But those things aside, it’s the NLE that I look forward to working with. I can count on it to not get in the way of my creativity.
What’s fun as a long time user is to see other editors finally looking at Premiere Pro with different eyes. It was, for many of them, something they’d not opened or used in years, and their impression of it was that it’s still light years behind Apple and Avid. It was still the same version they had seen or used years ago. They are all now realizing that’s very much not the case. It’s a very powerful tool, and bundled with the other Adobe video applications, it really becomes the hub to an extensive and impressive toolset.
If you’re looking to move away from Final Cut Pro, give Premiere Pro a try – you’ll find it’s easy to pick up, and maybe a lot more than what you expected.