Monday, June 15, 2009

The Premiere Pro CS4 4.1 update...

I’ve been using the new 4.1 update for Premiere Pro CS4. It’s a great update with some nice new features, and some great new support. “Big deal, Addison,” you may be thinking. “I cut with Final Cut Pro or Avid. Why would I care about Premiere Pro?” Well, that may be true. However, I know that many of you out there have (smartly, in my opinion) purchased the entire Adobe CS4 production suite but only use After Effects and Photoshop…Premiere Pro sits there idle, lonely, and waiting to be called into service. Maybe you’ll find yourself in a situation where you’ll think, “Hey, I need to do [insert problem here]. I seem to recall that Eric Addison guy saying Premiere Pro can do that. Let’s boot it up and try.”

One new addition came in handy this week for a project I’m working on. I was called on to add some clips to a DVD project I originally did last year. I didn’t have the master tapes handy to pull the clips needed, but I did have DVDs that contained the clips and I could pull those clips right into Premiere Pro. Normally, I would never do this. To maintain the highest quality, I always try and pull footage from the camera original tapes, or use the edited master. But, as I mentioned, I didn’t have access to those, and securing them would take some time so this way was the quickest.

To begin, I created a new project in Premiere Pro, then put the DVD in the DVD player, and in the media browser within Premiere Pro I was able to see the VOB files on the disc. Finding the one I needed, I loaded the video clip in the preview monitor, marked the in and out points that I needed, and then dragged the segment to the timeline. From there I was able to export out an AVI file with the DV codec. No opening up DVD ripping software, no playing the DVD while recording to tape…none of that. Just import the video as I would any other media, and drop it on the timeline.

I did this for the other clips I needed, and finished off the new DVD in Encore. And you know, the footage looks fine – you’d never know where it came from. Again, this isn’t something I would normal want to do – I always try and get the best quality. But sometimes, you have to work with what you got to make a deadline. One other note about this, if I needed to do more editing to the clip, I could have. I can actually edit together different clips from the same DVD...I'm actually editing video from a DVD source.

Something else improved in the 4.1 update is the support for RED cameras. Premiere Pro works with native RED files – the actual .R3D files, not the Quicktime proxies. If you want to work with 4K footage, at 4K resolution, Premiere Pro is your editor. I know that most computers will have issues with 4K footage, but the scaling functions included in the new RED support allows you to create a 4K timeline, use 4K footage, but drop down the resolution playback quality so that you can get good performance playback. You also can go in and adjust all the source clip settings (the ASA, the exposure, white balance level, color space, etc.) with the footage on the timeline. And as always, you can import your finished edit into After Effects for any finishing work you may need to do. Or just finish it all in Premiere Pro.

I could go on about the RED workflow, but to be honest I’m still learning it myself. I’ve got a lot of RED footage, and I’m going through the new features and teaching myself (with the help of tutorials) the ins and outs of working with RED. It’s really rather remarkable – I can even edit 4K footage on my laptop…my laptop! But I do feel confident in taking on any RED projects out there.

So, maybe this encourages you FCP and Avid owners who have the Adobe production suite installed to click on that Pr icon and open up Premiere Pro…maybe it doesn’t. But if it doesn’t, then I say come on – live a little! It’s not like the Apple or Avid police will storm in and indict you with treason. Have some fun and see what some of us other kids are playing with. You may just find yourself wanting to, oh…I don’t know, edit a project with it? You never know…

There's also other new feaures in the update...maybe I'll cover those in a future post.

Next time, I’m going to share about a very handy and powerful tool used when doing keying. I got it not too long ago, and I’ve been learning it so as to be ready for the next compositing job I get. I can already see it making my job so much easier, as well as giving me better keys.

Lastly, I’ve no idea how many of you out there read this, but to those that are, I hope you enjoy it and find it useful. If there’s anything you’d like me to cover, or if you have any questions, speak up and I’ll do my best to respond.

Be sure and check out, if you haven’t already, my new website…

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