Premiere Pro is tool that I’ve had a bit of a love/hate relationship with. I started using it in the summer of 2011 after FCP X was first released as I was essentially looking for a replacement for FCP 7 and Avid has never been my cup of tea. At that point, FCP X didn’t seem to be a great contender for much of my work (although there was a lot I liked about it) as I was worried that Apple had wanted to strip away all the professional features from Final Cut Pro permanently. I learned over the next few months that wasn’t the case and in fact by the end of this year, Final Cut Pro X should have some extremely competitive features that it needs to survive in today’s NLE market – specifically native R3D support amongst other things. Regardless, at the time it was a blessing in disguise as it forced me to brush up on the new Avid MC6 and give Premiere Pro a whirl.
In early 2011, I would have laughed if someone told me I would be using Premiere Pro on professional projects. The Premiere I remembered, I had used before FCP 1 even existed when I was a teenager. The program was buggy, unstable and couldn’t keep sync. It was clearly not a professional tool and from the moment I started using FCP 1.0, I never looked back. What I hadn’t realized though was in the last 10 years, a lot had changed. Around the time that Premiere became Premiere Pro, Adobe was clearly attempting to step up their game. The tool became improved in terms of it’s stability and functionality. But still, it had a stigma attached to the name that kept pro’s away. In fact in still does for many – especially in broadcast environments.
After deciding to give Premiere a go, I was fairly impressed. I could map all the keyboard shortcuts to FCP 7, and almost everything else was in the same place. After an hour or two on Premiere Pro I felt at home. I still wasn’t crazy about the interface as it felt quite clunky and there were some other little bugs that I wasn’t used to yet, but all in all it seemed like a nice new option. I especially liked the dynamic link between PPro and After Effects.
Skip to a few months later and I had already cut some small spots on it and decided to use it on my feature (More about that in my previous post – Why I am editing my feature film in FCP X). It was when I pushed Premiere to its limits that I started to see the faults in the software. Premiere started to feel like an NLE that was trying to do everything and did do everything, but didn’t necessarily do it well. In contrast to FCP X, I feel that in it’s current state, Final Cut is lacking a couple of key features, but the features that it does posses work exceptionally well – specifically Multicam.
Now skip another few months down the road and I had completed my feature in Premiere. Because it was such a hassle, I ultimately decided to stray from using it for a while. It wasn’t until the spring of this year that I had used it on a short (shot on RED) that I was on-lining/coloring. Even dealing with the short format, my fully loaded MacPro had some issues and the software was still buggy. So once again, I felt disgruntled and stopped using the software for a while.
All in all, up until very recently my thoughts on Premiere were as follows: It is a great conceptual piece of software. For certain scenarios and workflows it will do the job as well as FCP or Avid, but many of the most exciting/groundbreaking elements and features in the software need to have the kinks worked out. I’m not a huge fan of the interface, even though it is now cleaned up I still find it feels very 90’s. When the more cutting edge tools (such as native R3D support) are perfected, or additional features are added to allow it to function more smoothly, I will be more likely to use it more often. Until then, I am going to still to FCP or Avid for my needs as they are more robust systems that can handle heavy workflows.
Essentially I felt that I had no use for the software whatsoever, although I respected what they were trying to accomplish with it.
This changed over the past week though, when I was caught in a tricky workflow situation and the only way out was to use Premiere.
I was called to color time a film shot on RED and cut in FCP 7. The editor that was working in FCP 7 was given proxy files that were not generated properly and as a result, DaVinci would not accept the XML file from FCP 7 as the time codes were slightly off. After much trial and error and troubleshooting with BlackMagic Design on the phone, I started running out of ideas and needed to think out of the box. Ultimately I developed a custom workflow using Adobe Premiere that saved the day.
My workflow was as follows: Export an XML file from FCP 7, Import XML into Premiere Pro, Re-link all of the used media to the R3D’s rather than the proxies, Create a new sequence in 5k (Proxy version was 1080p), Copy edits from original sequence to 5k sequence, resize any shots as needed, Export XML for DaVinci Resolve.
And it worked. It was simply the only to get the job done in the amount of time that I had. Essentially the cause of the problem was that in DaVinci I could not force the software to link as the frame rates were slightly off, and the solution of course was to relink in Premiere and then send it over to Resolve, since Premiere will force the files to relink.
I tried many other workflows and options before this using other software, third party tools such as clip finder, etc. But ultimately if I didn’t have Adobe Premiere I would not have been able to do this.
With that said, the process did have some slight hiccups. Since the frame rates didn’t match, most of the source media in the timeline was off by 32 frames. Some of it was off by more frames than others though, and for no apparent reason. I did still need to go through shot by shot and ensure things were sync’d up, but it was still faster than re-encoding all the proxy material properly and rebuilding the edit with it, which would be one of the only other workable solutions.
Ultimately, at the end of it I realized that in its current state, for me – Adobe Premiere is much more valuable to me as a workflow tool as it is as an editor. Many will surely disagree with this and I’m not saying that this is the case for everyone. But for the type of projects I am working on and for the way that I like to work, I get the most out of Premiere when using it in these types of scenarios.
The fact that Premiere is so versatile makes it ideal for bridging the gap between software programs. It takes any kind of media you can throw at it and it plays very well with other applications as it does things like importing/exporting XML files. Having these abilities makes it a very powerful tool to use when workflow problems arise. It is not the first time I’ve had to use it in this type of capacity and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Any of the issues I have with it including the interface or general sluggish behavior when editing are non-issues when using it in this content, or at the very least those issues are minimized.
The good news it that it’s an extra tool that fills certain gaps in the NLE world and it will likely improve greatly over time. I’m looking forward to see where it goes and how it challenges FCP and Avid in the future.