Archive for the ‘Premiere Pro’ Category.

Eyematching by syncing audio

I recently edited a project that featured interviews with people in Zimbabwe speaking their native language. I don’t know what language they were speaking, but to facilitate our editing we were provided ProRes exports with English translations burned into the picture.


We also received camera original media, and after the cut was mostly locked-down I worked to replace the burned-in translation clips with clean camera clips so we could apply a translation that we had more stylistic control over.

The challenge: The translation-burned clips were edited compilations of all the interviews from that day. There was no timecode reference back to the camera originals, I was left to eyematch the shots.

There were about a dozen clips that needed replacing, and some were pretty easy to accomplish. I would find a frame where a hand came up, or they looked off to the side in a way that I could visually locate in the camera originals. But after a while I found some challenging clips where I couldn’t easily locate a visual match and since I didn’t speak the language it didn’t help me to listen to the camera files.

Then I had a brainstorm: The computer could listen for me! What if I could get PluralEyes to use its audio waveform-syncing capabilities to link up the camera originals to the placeholder media I had been editing with.

I fired up PluralEyes, added the interview compilation clip and the camera originals, then I clicked Synchronize. It didn’t work!

Of course there’s no way it could work. The compilation clip was a long edited stringout of many interview answers, when considered as a whole it is not the same as any piece of camera media. So no sync. But also no problem. I just needed to export the small section of an interview I needed to locate in the camera clips. I parked on the interview clip in my timeline and did a Match Frame to load the source clip (the interview compilation) into the source monitor marked with an In and an Out. I exported this clip In-Out range to a H.264 file.

Now, armed with the small export from the compilation and the camera original media, I tried PluralEyes again. This time it worked great!


I exported this synced sequence to XML for Premiere Pro. After importing and relinking the media I was able to get the timecode I needed in the camera source then do a replace edit in my timeline. BTW, I was doing a replace edit on a clip that was a copy of the clip from the compilation, added on a track above. With the two clips stacked vertically I put the top clip in Difference Mode and that helped me make sure I was dead-on with the camera media. If it was off, I slipped the camera original until it was perfectly aligned and the composite of the two shots went black. Difference Mode is very helpful when matching shots.

After posting my success to Twitter, @adkimery asked why I used “PE instead of PPro’s own synch by waveform function?” It never occurred to me!

So I tried it, and it worked too!


For this task it ended up being easier to use Premiere Pro’s built-in syncing. I created a Multicamera Source Sequence using the short compilation excerpt export and the camera original media. Next I opened the multicam clip in the timeline and found where in the camera clip was the section I needed.

Even though this isn’t the intended purpose of the technology, using audio syncing to match up placeholder media with camera originals was a big help to me in this project.

Syncing Premiere Pro keyboard settings

With the CC releases, Adobe introduced a settings syncing feature allowing users to upload and download keyboard settings, output modules and other preferences. This can be pretty useful if you work between multiple systems and want your personalized settings to follow you. I’m old enough to remember when we freelance editors would arrive to a facility with a floppy disc containing our Avid keyboard settings. Plus, leaving your settings on a system was a fun “I was here” marketing strategy.  If you had “Wes Plate” in your list of users on your Avid, you were something special <grin>.



But this isn’t your father’s floppy disc, this is the Cloud!


If  it were up to me, the Adobe Apps would remember my Sync Settings password longer. In my experience I have to enter my password after every application launch. After you’re signed in and you choose to sync your settings you are presented with this dialog.




Do you want to take the settings stored on your local machine and upload them to Creative Cloud (overwriting what is there)? Or do you want to overwrite your local settings with the version stored in Creative Cloud?

What I don’t like about these two options is I can’t say for sure which version is newer. Many kinds of preferences are set once and then left alone, but in my experience keyboard shortcuts are evolving. When I last used my Mac Pro I may have set a keyboard shortcut for a newly-learned command, but did I remember to upload my changes to Creative Cloud? Did the change I made to my MacBook Pro’s settings based on settings downloaded from the Cloud or did I forget to download before I started making changes here?

I have no idea which of my two systems or the Creative Cloud has the most up-to-date settings for my keyboard. I really want Premiere Pro to just “sync” the settings. Do it Dropbox-style. All settings are synced all the time. And if I make a change on my laptop it is immediately stored in the cloud and my Mac Pro automatically receives the update. It should be invisible to me. I want whatever changes I make on one machine to be available wherever else I sign in and to always be up-to-date.

I have an idea for how you can do this today.

I mentioned Dropbox. I wondered if the keyboard settings file that gets updated locally could be synced by Dropbox even though it isn’t inside the Dropbox folder. I’ll bet some enterprising editor can make that work, but I was not successful. Plus, even if it had worked for me it was complicated. I wanted an easy solution I could easily explain to others. Also I don’t really want to go installing my enormous Dropbox on someone else’s machine when I’m only looking to sync one file.

The following screenshot shows the file that gets updated whenever I change my Premiere Pro CC 2014 keyboard settings. The settings files are in a folder called “Profile-CreativeCloud-” and the keyboard settings are stored in a platform-specific folder.



How to keep two arbitrary folders synced between multiple systems? I decided to try BitTorrent Sync.

BTSync is a peer-to-peer folder syncing application that runs on both Mac and Windows. I have used it to sync files between me and other production companies while editing remotely. Like Dropbox the synced folders stay automatically up-to-date, but there is not a cloud server and in my experience the transfer speeds for BTSync are much better than Dropbox.

Here’s how I synced the keyboard settings between my MacBook Pro and my Mac Pro using BitTorrent Sync.

Install and launch BitTorrent Sync. Click the Add folder button then navigate to the folder that contains the keyboard settings and click Open.



Next you’re asked to assign some settings. Should the “peers” that you’re syncing with have Read-only or Read & Write access to the folder? Choose Read & Write so that your syncing and setting updated and happen no matter which system you’re on. You might want to turn off the peer approval security feature, you’ll see why later.



Then you click on one of the sharing buttons along the bottom. You’ll receive a very long URL that you can open on the other system that you want to stay in sync with. Just open that link and you’ll have the chance to download BitTorrent Sync if you don’t already have it.


If the peer system already has BTSync, you can paste the URL into the Enter a key… dialog found from the gear button in the top right.




Click Next and BTSync will ask you where on the peer system you will store the synced files. Click the Change… button and then navigate to the Profile-CreativeCloud- folder on that computer.



After you click Open, click the Connect button at the bottom of the window to complete the connection. BTSync will probably warn you that the Mac folder already exists, you want to proceed.


When I set up this share I left on the default option to require peers to be approved. So next I need to return to the first computer and accept the request. This could be bad if I didn’t have access to that other computer when setting up the peer. So you may want to turn off the security option.


That’s it! Now, any change I make to my Premiere Pro keyboard settings on my laptop automatically appear on my tower and visa versa.

There is an obvious downside to this: both computers need to be turned on and connected to the internet.

Otherwise this idea seems to have some merit, though I hope in a future update Adobe improves the Sync Settings feature to have this kind of behavior by default.

What do you think? Do you have other ideas for syncing settings between systems?


BTW, you will want to know how to turn this off if you’re working on someone else’s system. Open BTSync and from the far-right menu button choose Disconnect. Syncing will no longer occur.





Here’s a video demonstrating how I set this up. It is not a perfect solution, but it is an idea for now.

Open Sequence In Timeline new in 2014.1

I was reading Scott Simmons’ new feature roundup of the new Premiere Pro CC 2014.1 and was excited to learn about the Open Sequence In Timeline command.


This is a feature I have requested in the past along with many other editors, so it was with excitement I put down Scott’s article to try it out. If you are similarly interested in this feature, I want to point out to you that the command is hidden away a bit.


Click the “Settings…” wrench button in the lower-right of the Source Monitor to access a menu with Open Sequence in Timeline near the top.


If you’re like me and find this command’s location a bit out-of-the-way, you might be happy to know you can map the command to a keyboard shortcut.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 5.04.28 PM


Another happy outcome of this is that I learned Premiere Pro had a Gang Source and Program command. I didn’t know! Both of these commands deserve easy-to-find buttons in the source monitor panel, but I’m glad I found them in the meantime.

Happy editing.


Logging magic with Adobe Prelude

During my time at Adobe I worked as the Product Manager on Prelude for about 18 months. I traveled the world talking with customers who used or needed to use Prelude as an ingest and logging tool. Prelude is used a lot in large broadcast environments where assistants, producers or journalists are preparing material for an editor. However in my own editing, I didn’t have much reason to use it. Like many one-man-band editors I usually find myself jumping into the cutting before I do too much logging. And Prelude really wants to be used before using Premiere Pro, so if I’m logging and organizing as I’m editing then it usually makes sense to just stay in Premiere Pro.

I recently worked on a project featuring some doctors talking to camera about the facility where they work and the patients they treat. I wanted the ability to easily find different answers as well as different version of the answers given. This meant I really needed to log this material, and this was a perfect chance to employ Prelude. I used Prelude to log this project because because of the powerful way it creates subclips and comment markers. I was able to invest some time in Prelude that paid off nicely in Premiere Pro.


You can enter text into the description field while Prelude is playing. If you would like to pause (K) or jump the cursor back (H) you can use the transport controls from the keyboard by adding the Option/Alt key.

With each clip I watched and listened creating comment markers that started with when the subject started answering and ended with the thought. Prelude makes it much easier to create markers with durations than it is in Premiere Pro. While playing, I was able to type quickly and summarize the answer provided by the interviewee, this text went into the comment marker’s description field.

Prelude also makes it easy to adjust the beginning and end of the comment in case that was important to me.

Next came a special step that helped me a great deal in Premiere, and this step can only be done in Prelude. I moved the CTI to the start of the first marker then selected all the markers and copied them to my clipboard.

Next, in the Marker Inspector I changed the selected markers’ type from Comment to Subclip.



Check it out: all of the Comment markers are turned into Subclips!

Then, back in the Timeline panel, I pasted the comment markers.

Now you can see in Prelude I have two sets of markers, comment and subclip markers. This may seem weird, but you’ll see in Premiere Pro why this was useful to me.

Next, send the clips from Prelude to Premiere Pro. You can also simply import the media files into Premiere Pro, and since Prelude stores the marker metadata inside the media files, Premiere Pro will read the clips and markers during import.


If your Premiere Pro bin isn’t showing the Description bin column, change your bin’s Metadata Display settings to show this field.

This makes it easy to find clips based on the content of the answer by looking at the notes I entered in Prelude. I can also use Premiere Pro’s search field to help me locate clips about a certain topic. This is cool, but there’s even more I like about working this way.

When I work with the sub clips, and even the master clip representing the media file, I get to see the comment markers in the source viewer and in the timeline as well. This helps me see even in the context of the timeline which clip is being used and what they’re talking about. And with Overlays enabled in the Program Monitor I can even see the source clips’ marker text front and center.




I found this method of working very helpful on this project. It pays to get organized at the start of your project and Prelude’s powerful marker editing features were key to my workflow.

Promo in Stop Motion

I recently worked with Alarming Pictures on this video promoting Bill Gates’ Feb 10 2014 appearance on Reddit’s Ask Me Anything.

The paper craft artwork was shot using a Canon 5D Mark III recording raw files to a tethered Mac laptop. The style was meant to be analog and papercrafty, so no specialized stop motion animation software was used, just the Canon EOS Utility.

GatesRedditAMAProduction1 GatesRedditAMAProduction2

Production was fairly straightforward with the team shooting the planned scenes generally in the order they were going to be included in the final piece. Shoot, nudge, shoot, nudge, etc. No attempt was made at attempting lip sync with the audio recording, the mouths were just cycled through and would be augmented in post.

When I received the CR2 files from production my first step was to import them into Lightroom 5. This gave me a chance to find obviously-bogus frames that wouldn’t ever be used, then I exported everything out as full-size 5760×3840 JPEG files.

The JPGs were imported as a sequence into After Effects CC and interpreted as 10fps. Then the image sequence was placed into a 1920×1080 comp running at 23.976, the same size and frame rate we would finish in. These HD comps, as well as nearly-full-size 5760×3240 23.976 comps were rendered out to ProRes 422.

With the prep work of turning the raw frames into QuickTime movies completed, I proceeded to edit just like I had any other footage. Because After Effects would be integral later on and because it was flexible in dealing with multiple frame sizes, Premiere Pro CC was selected as the editing tool. I created subclips for different scenes and starting building the structure of my sequence. Some clips were sped up for action, some slightly slowed down. On set, shots were not meticulously timed out, so I had a lot of freedom to just make it work.

I also had the ability to choose when we would cut to a closer shot, and I had plenty of resolution as well. At first I just scaled up the 1920×1080 “wide shot” then later the full-frame 5760×3240 ProRes clips were edited in and scaled down. Overkill? Yes, and it caused problems later.

As the edit became more refined I also turned my attention to refining the mouth movements– at least somewhat. The mouth opening and closing randomly while the character spoke was fine, but during pauses of voice the moving mouth was distracting. In Premiere Pro I would composite a freeze frame of the “resting mouth”, which was his smile. I used the crop effect to make a rough box around the mouth so that any animation in the rest of the frame could still be seen. It was rough, indeed, but it helped me quickly place the mouth rests in the realtime NLE environment.

This is about the time the crashing started.

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 3.48.38 PM

Over the course of the afternoon I crashed Premiere several times. With some help from Twitter I discovered my use of the very large 5760×3240 frames in Premiere was causing it to crash, and my cropping of one 5760 frame over another probably wasn’t helping.

I didn’t really need that many pixels, so I replaced the 5760×3240 renders with 4K versions and then I had no crashing problems at all.

After the timing was finalized in Premiere Pro I moved into After Effects to do for-real the adding of the mouth pauses. The freeze frame clips from Premiere helped me find where the pauses were to go, but I also ran the audio file containing the spoken answers through Prelude and along with a text transcript performed Speech to Text analysis which placed markers for each word that I was able to see in After Effects.

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 9.45.28 PM

When the character’s mouth pauses, it is actually his whole head that I replaced. It was easier to mask the head and place it on top than to try to replace just the mouth. In a few shots there was some flicker in the moving main shot and so the frozen head would not completely match, so I used the GenArts Sapphire FlickerMatch plug-in to make the head have the same flicker as the rest of the shot.

When I was done I rendered a QuickTime movie and edited it into my sequence on top of the dynamically linked comp/clip. If a change was needed to the After Effects comp I could easily choose Edit Original to reopen the comp. Then when done in AE I would rerender the comp and Premiere would immediately see the new render file.

The last thing to do was deal with the flicker that I mentioned before. I recently sent my friend Pete Litwinowicz from RE:Vision Effects a timelapse shot I took at Machu Picchu in Peru, he wanted to test their DE:Flicker plug-in with it. Because of that interaction I had it in my head that maybe DE:Flicker could Deflicker my stop motion movie. With the default settings I wasn’t getting the result I was after so based on a recommendation from the excellent AE-List listserve I tried Digital Anarchy’s Flicker Free plug-in. With the defaults I was able to have the flickering gone immediately. However, I ended up using the DE:Noise plug-in from RE:Vision with some settings Pete provided, because it was a little smoother. It is worth noting, however, that DA’s Flicker Free got about 90% of the way there with just the defaults.

Here’s a screenshot of the final timeline in Premiere Pro.

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 9.49.20 PM

It was a fun project and everyone involved was happy. I learned a lot too!