OK, if you have been following me for a while, you know that I use both Avid Media Composer and Final Cut Pro…and I am pretty proficient with both. If you haven’t been following me for a while… I use both Avid Media Composer and Final Cut Pro, and am pretty proficient with both. I am a fan of both. I might lean more towards FCP, because it better fits the way I like to edit. But I know that Avid had strengths in many areas that far surpass what FCP is capable of. Plus I started out on Avid MC. So I am comfortable with both.
But, I like to be a well rounded person. Mainly because I dish out post advice, and I like to be sure to give people the proper advice based on many factors in their post/production workflow. For this reason I have owned and used capture cards from all three major FCP capture card makers…AJA, Matrox and Blackmagic Design (As well as Aurora…I had a Pipe Pro Studio). So, now I am digging into Adobe Premiere Pro, to see what all the hoopla is about. I hear a lot of people raving about how much better this is than FCP or Avid. It’s about time I looked for myself.
Took a little looking around to see what was where. I couldn’t find the INSERT and OVERWRITE buttons for a while. Always used to them being in the PROGRAM (Canvas) monitor. In Premiere, they are in the PREVIEW (Viewer) monitor. But, they are there. You can drag clips onto the timeline, or use the period or comma buttons (insert and overwrite), or drag into the Canvas. Many ways to get things there. Standard J-K-L keys for keyboard operation, and I and O for marking IN and OUT. So that is comfortable enough. And you can customize the keyboard…which helps those of us with pretty set in “muscle memory.”
I like the media browser. Allows me to find the media I want to import from my various tapeless sources. I can OPEN files in the Preview monitor before I decide to add them to the project…so I can see what I have. And then I hit upon the thing that people RAVE about Premiere. The ability to import all sorts of tapeless media, without converting/transcoding.
OK…I will have to admit…this is frickin’ COOL. I could get used to this. I have a small external drive with DEMO files on it. AVCIntra, DVCPRO HD (both from P2 cards), AVCHD, Canon DSLR, XDCAM EX, RED. Stuff I use to demo things, and to test things. Well, I was able to bring in all the footage into the project with ZERO transcoding. Just a few seconds to make the clips and there they were, ready to go. Now, when you choose a new sequence, you have to choose the settings of that sequence.
For this test, I choose AVCINTRA 1080p24. I imported clips from my AVCIntra card, then some DVCPRO HD, AVCHD, XDCAM EX. All instantly…all natively. Man, I can get used to this. I mean, sure, first I’d have to copy the cards to my media drive, but still…instant import into the application is slick. I was able to mix the footage fine. I got a yellow render bar…even with the AVCIntra footage, that the sequence was designed for. Maybe that isn’t a render bar…a QUALITY bar? I’ll have to do more reading up on that.
When I added the DVCPRO HD footage, it was smaller on the screen, and the render bar turned red. Well, it was 720p, so it did appear smaller. Didn’t automatically scale like I am used to with Avid MC and FCP…but I right-clicked and there was an option to scale to sequence, and I did, and it went to the yellow render bar, to match everything else. And I was able to play all this footage back, no problem. LOW resolution…it started at 25%, but I made it 50% at least. And it was fine on my tower. My laptop slowed a little, so I made it 25% for that, and things were fine (running off a FW800 G-Drive mini).
AUDIO MAPPING ISSUE
OK, at first I was really annoyed by the following behavior, until I noticed it only happened when I mixed media types. Now it still annoys me, but a little less. So in this AVCIntra sequence, I have 4 channels of audio from the footage…4 mono tracks. They show up on the first four channels, and I can move them up or down…anywhere I want (after I unlink them from the video). But when I added an AVCINTRA clip…and DVCPRO HD clip…the audio clips from them ONLY appeared if I dragged the footage from the Viewer to the timeline. OVERWRITE wouldn’t bring over audio…only video. I could drag audio down LATER, after video. Or DRAG the clip and get both, but not with the mappable keys, or the Overwrite option. AND…to top it off, they appeared on different tracks than the other 4 clips. It appeared on track 5…and I can’t move it…up or down.
After talking with a couple people it seems that the AVCHD audio is showing up as a STEREO track, while the AVCIntra audio is all MONO. And because of that, they cannot be on the same audio track. Premiere will bring in a stereo track as a single track, to save space. The same thing happened with the DVCPRO HD clip…one track only. But that is odd, because when I made a DVCPRO HD sequence…I see THREE channels of audio.
I was pointed to Premiere CS5 articles on how to set up audio preferences and deal with this, and I did set my default Audio track format to MONO. That DID allow me to bring in all 3 channels of DVCPRO HD p2. BUT, again, when I tried to drag onto the timeline, it relegated the audio to lower tracks. 5-8. And I cannot move them up to 1-4 to be with the AVCIntra footage. None of this is an issue with media of the same type…this is all about mixing media types as far as I can tell. Even though all the media is 48khz and 16bit, and told to come in as Mono…they won’t mix.
This puts a SERIOUS hamper on my editing workflow. Because I assign audio to specific tracks. 1-2 is narration or VO, 3-6 is Sound on Tape (SOT), 7-10 is Sound Effects, and 11-14 is music. I keep this uniform for most of my projects. FCP does this…Avid does this. Premiere seems to be very resistant to doing this. And I have spoken to a few people who have said, “Yeah, that’s an OLD issue…been that way forever.”
OK…how do you all deal with this…Premiere editing peoples? I’m used to delivering for broadcast, and with working with multiple editors so we need a uniform way to organized audio track assignments. This behavior puts a serious hamper on my workflow…and is throwing me for a loop. I love the ability to instantly add media, with zero transcode time. I love the ability to mix media on the timeline and edit. But this audio thing is really tripping me up. Small thing, I know. But still big enough to put me off to the application. Small things matter. Demo the Avid MC ability to add footage and preserve the transition and we all go NUTS! It’s small, but at the same time huge. Just like this…small audio thing, yet huge.
OH, and another thing. Avid has DNxHD as it’s main codec. FCP has ProRes. Adobe Premiere has…?? What? There doesn’t appear to be an Adobe format used for mastering. I posed this on Twitter, and got a variety of responses. From “Adobe likes to work natively, and then you render out to what you are delivering…DVD, BluRay. Output to tape.” Other said they use ProRes, or DNxHD as final masters. Well, with ProRes, you need FCP installed. No encoder for that without FCP on the system. And DNxHD…that codec and encoder is provided free of charge from Avid.com And that is cool. So now I can encode to a finishing format. But why doesn’t Adobe have one? Just curious.
So…I like the interface, love the ability to instantly import and access my footage, edit mixed formats. But audio mapping issues have me stymied. But, I’m still learning…still playing around and figuring things out. If anyone has solutions, feel free to post them in the comments. OK, back to digging into Premiere.
EDIT: (With mixed media and using my MBP 2.4Ghz laptop, I am dropping frames like crazy. Something that my Octo 3.0 MacPro does not do. So the computer does mater quite a bit.)
YET ANOTHER EDIT: Kevin Monahan, who is a professional editor who used FCP extensively but now works for Adobe, pointed out this great video to me. It explains all about the audio tracks and how to get the audio into them. Explained from the point of view of an editor switching from FCP to Premiere. Which I am doing. http://tv.adobe.com/watch/switching-to-adobe-premiere-pro-cs5/audio-/