Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Feature Wish List for Adobe Premiere CS4

For the past two months I have been editin a feature film in Adobe Premiere CS4.1.  While I still think Premiere is the right choice for editing a feature shot on RED, there are definitely some things lacking from the program.   A few are minor things, but a few are MAJOR shortcomings of the software.

I should have been putting this together over the course of the entire project, but I just thought to do this now.  And I guess late is better than never.  Hopefully I can remember most of the things I “wished” for while working with the program.

I submit “feature requests” to Adobe all the freaking time.  I assume my pleas fall on deaf ears, so I’m at least going to put a list together just to document my needs.  Perhaps some of these are actually already implemented, and some kind soul who stumbles upon this post will leave a solution to one of these wishes in the comments.

I will keep adding to this list as things come up.  Please feel free to cut and paste any of these wishes to Adobe Feature Request.

For some insane reason, Adobe has decided to completely ignore time code synchronization of sound/video in Premiere CS4.  This means if you record your audio to an external source, as ALL professional shoots do, you have to MANUALLY sync your audio and video.  And by manually, I mean line your waveforms up with the slate clap visually.  We recorded our audio (24 bit, 48KHz) to an eight track digital recorder.  We had a time code smart slate.  In regard to Premiere, it doesn’t matter, because Premiere won’t chase audio time code.  I can’t get over this.  This is like making an editing program that won’t handle video.  INSANE.
The work around is to sync all your audio via time code in Final Cut Pro, export the footage via XML, and then import the XML into Premiere.  When doing this, there are some very important things to remember.  You MUST place the footage on a timeline in FCP before exporting the XML.  Premiere does not link audio and video in the bins (stupid, stupid, stupid –see next wish list item) so the audio/video MUST be on a timeline to remain synced when it’s imported into Premiere.  Also, we found that FCP 7 would not work for this process.  We actually had to use an older copy (FCP 6) for the XML export/import to work.

I cannot believe you can’t link audio and video files in the project bins.  This means you can’t use the bins to select clips for your edit.  You have to cut and paste EVERYTHING from a sequence/time line.  This makes me so angry that I can’t even write about it any more.  Moving on…

I am currently having to go through my project files to manually find each and every clip that has been manipulated by scale and position (keyed/cropped/scaled clips).  It would be phenomenal if I could simply generate a list of all the clips in a sequence that had been manipulated.  Same goes for effects.

When you generate an EDL for, say, color grading, any information regarding anything but in and out points is completely lost when the EDL is imported into wherever it’s going.  In order to recreate any changes you’ve made, the person importing the EDL will need a list of any clips that have been changed.  Thus, you have to go through each of your sequences manually to find any changes you made to each clip, and then give those changes to the person who is opening the EDL so that they can re-implement your changes.  Being able to generate a list of these changes would save an incredible amount of time.

You can import an XML, why the hell can’t you export one?!

RED cameras generate 16 digit file folder names.  The EDL format that Premiere uses (CMX3600) only handles 8 digits for the file folder structure.  Thus, when the color house imported all our files, they had to go in and manually add the missing information.  I can’t imagine they were happy about this.

Believe is or not, you can’t copy/cut any text in the clip “info” box window.  What in the FREAK?!  Why would such a thing be disabled?  Since I’m having to let my color guy know the file name, instance number, and in/out point of the clip he needs to manually scale and adjust, I am constantly in need of being able to copy the information regarding a clip, but I have to manually type out all the information, because you can’t select any text in the “info” box.  Infuriating.

There is no place to find a clip’s instance number.  In an EDL, each clip is referred to by it’s instance number… simply which clip it is in numerical order.  In order to determine the number of a clip in a Premiere sequence, you either have to count the number of clips up to the clip in question (unacceptable in a sequence with hundreds of clips), or search an EDL you’ve generated for the clip’s file name (and then make sure you’ve got the correct instance if that file has been used for multiple clips).  How easy would it be to simply put the number of the clip in the “info” box?!  Grrrrrr.

Since I’m having to go through and manually find each clip that’s been resized and/or cropped, I need the “motion” line in the Video Effects Panel to remain open.  Since it doesn’t, I’m having to go through hundreds of clips, click on them, then click on the little triangle next to “motion” to expand the details to see if any changes have been made to scale and position.  If I could set the “motion” line to remain open for all clips, it would save a LOT of time.

That’s it.  Not much more to say here.  OMF export performance is spotty at best.

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