September 13, 2017
IBC 2017

Adobe Creative Cloud Takes Aim at Media Composer

The goal of this refresh from Adobe is to speed up your workflow so you have more time to be creative.

Adobe has unveiled a refresh across the Creative Cloud line in time for IBC 2017, with two big areas of improvement being new features in both Premiere Pro and After Effects. The overall theme of all the updates is speeding up your workflow, enabling filmmakers to move through the post process more quickly, with more time spent making creative decisions and less time and effort wasted on busywork.

The updates for Premiere Pro take aim squarely at Avid Media Composer's biggest remaining strength, its shared project workflow. As more and more editors and post houses move from Avid onto Premiere, and potentially Resolve 14, the main argument that many still make for Media Composer is the ease with which it enables multiple editors to work on the same project and media at the same time. Resolve 14 has moved aggressively on this territory with its latest release, and Adobe has quickly moved into the space as well with the new set of updates. 

Users can now keep multiple projects simultaneously open, enabling fast switching back and forth between projects, which is a huge time saver if you are working on a complicated show that might be broken up into several episodes or acts. Those projects are also now able to be opened by multiple users at the same time. While only one user at a time will have editable access at a time, other users will be able to view a locked, read only version of a project, which is useful for copying over sequences and media and reviewing footage. This functionality clearly echoes the bin sharing functionality of Media Composer, but using projects instead of bins.

Credit: Adobe

Of course, Adobe has had Team Projects as a cloud-based service for awhile, however, cloud sharing for projects hasn't really taken off yet in North America. With our slow internet and the increasing size of videos files, it doesn't seem likely too soon. Having this sort of functionality at the local level, where multiple users on the same local network able to share a project, is a huge plus for Premiere. Of course, you will still need the hardware infrastructure of a local network and a shared media server to support it. Those network solutions are available from a variety of sources, including EditShare and Avid, who promote their Premiere functionality. 

Adobe hasn't been slacking in the motion graphics and visual effect world either, with one of the coolest new features being an officially supported workflow for data driven motion graphics. For instance, if want to create a motion graphic map displaying a table of data, you previously had to use unsupported hacks to turn that json data into a motion graphic. If you wanted to update that map regularly with new data in new tables, it was a hassle. Adobe has now built a native workflow for driven animations with databases, which is going to be huge in the motion graphics world, especially for creators who regularly display scientific data visualizations in their work. The developers are also doing a lot of work in GPU acceleration, now motion blur and linear transforms are GPU accelerated. This increases renders sometimes up to 5x, bringing renders from 3fps to 15fps.

Credit: Adobe
Speaking of GPU acceleration, the integration of Mettle technology into Creative Suite continues with a host of new VR tools that are all driven GPU only. Adobe has put a ton of work into the preview process for VR, enabling the display of timeline and palette tools while previewing your piece in the immersive environment of your choice. This, in combination with better tools for applying VR plugs and transitions across the edge boundaries of the space and a greater ability to change the rotation of the sphere, should be useful to filmmakers exploring VR.

Adobe is working to bring AI processes into the post work with Adobe SenseI implementation, which brings auto-ducking to Adobe Audition.  Additionally, ADR tools are improved to help actors time out their ADR more easily. We're going to start seeing more and more AI tools deployed to make our workflows faster in the next few years, with auto ducking as a great place to start.

Credit: Adobe

The biggest takeaway here is the improved shared workflow tools for multi-editor projects. Even a few years ago there were clear distinctions between NLE platforms, with certain workflows requiring certain software to function. The pace of development is accelerating rapidly, however, and with this latest round of updates, it's obvious Adobe is aiming to place Premiere as a viable choice for projects from the smallest social video to the biggest multi-user TV show.

For more info check out Adobe Creative Cloud.      

Your Comment

13 Comments

If Adobe was able to merge Premiere and AE in one single tool...
this would be a dream for lot of us.

No need for "replaced AE" footage anymore. Direct access.

September 13, 2017 at 12:18PM, Edited September 13, 12:19PM

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JeffreyWalther
Steadicam Operator
1493

I've been hoping they do that for a while. If I were a betting man, I'd say that Blackmagic will merge Resolve and Fusion in the near future.

September 13, 2017 at 12:23PM

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Can't really combine them, nor is there are reason to. They serve completely different purposes, while working together. Workflow differences are radical as well. Layer based vs track based. You can't really mix that. Adobe just needs keep improving dynamic linking and make it more stable. When it works, its great. When it bugs out and corrupts a project, NOT good.

September 13, 2017 at 12:26PM

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Josh.R
Motion Designer/Predator
949

Sure, you could combine them if you wanted.

And yes, both main tools serves different purposes (the one for cutting, the other one for VFX etc), but both are layer based.

There is no reason to split both worlds. There are already tools available or similar in Premiere and AE at the same time (e.g. warp stabilizer, mask tracker, text tool, Lumetri panel, pre-compose/nested sequences etc.)

September 13, 2017 at 12:44PM, Edited September 13, 1:08PM

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JeffreyWalther
Steadicam Operator
1493

Avid DS had a resolution independent timeline editor and a node based 3D motion graphic interface.

September 13, 2017 at 4:14PM, Edited September 13, 4:14PM

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I don't think shared/write only projects serve the same purpose as write protected bins. Very common for an editor to work on a cold open while another editor is working on act 1 within the same episode/project.

September 13, 2017 at 4:09PM

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If you want a bit more detail on the upcoming Premiere release check you my article here:

https://www.provideocoalition.com/adobe-announces-updates-creative-cloud...

September 13, 2017 at 9:23PM

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Scott Simmons
Editor
6

It seems like a good first step. This is way better than the current way multiple editors have to share Premier projects but its not yet an optimal solution.

The Avid implementation is still superior. The other thing the Avid has is more robust media management. This is really important and a huge pain with Premier.

When we get juniors in and teach them our workflow they quickly understand why Avid still is the go to system for large facilities and preferred option for (senior?) editors. Avid has its problems but it’s way more powerful and flexible than people assume but it requires some learning.

I’m sure in 5 years Adobe will get Premier where it needs to be. If Adobe decide to develop a compositing package then the future will be bright for Adobe. That is assuming they can get dynamic linking solid enough for prime time.

September 13, 2017 at 9:54PM

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Andrew Stalph
Editor
253

Hey Andrew,
This is a legitimate question. How is Avid's media management better in this case? I have limited experience with Avid but in general I've had the most headaches with missing or offline media (when receiving projects from out-of-house) etc.

I'm asking partly because I'm trying to get myself more into Avid for work purposes, but really don't enjoy the interface etc, and in general everything feels very slow. (lack of experience/muscle memory mostly),

Most people who are into Avid simply say it's better, it's faster, etc, without really giving much in the way of how/why. So for instance:

1. How is media management a pain in Premiere, and not in Avid?

2. What's superior about Avid's shared projects vs what Premiere is now doing?

3. What do you mean by Adobe developing a compositing package?

4. Do you really think Premiere is 5 years behind Avid?

Thanks!

September 14, 2017 at 5:21AM

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Some pretty in depth questions there but I’m happy to try and briefly answer them.

1. Avid manages it’s media with database files. If you link to media in the Avid (AMA link) it works kinda like Premier and loses links to files occasionally. We transcode our media for editing to a low data rate MXF which then is managed by Avid in a “Avid Media” folder on your storage drive. The benefits are that when you open Avid as soon as you see the interface you can press play and it plays, you don’t have to wait for Premier to find the media. Footage never becomes unlinked or missing. If something happens and there is a problem you can delete the database file (.mdb) Avid then checks the metadata for all the files in that folder and creates a new database. You can plug your drive in any Avid and it will check the “Avid Media” folder, find your footage and will ready to cut straight away. Things like having multiple copies of footage on multiple drives are not a problem because the drive name doesn’t confuse the application. The benefits of this might not be apparent until you connect 10 edits workstations to a single shared storage, or have editors working in different locations. Keep reading below if you want to find out how and why we transcode our footage.

2. Bin locking. An Avid project is a folder in Finder (or Explorer if your in windows). In that folder are some settings files and all your bins. Each bin (.avb) is a seperate file. This is really useful. Avid need only lock that bin to stop it being over written by multiple systems. How does this work in practice? If I’m editing day one’s rushes my assistant can be in the same project and create a new bin called “Day Two Rushes” she can work in that bin naming, synching and selecting with out effecting my Avid project. If her system loses power it won’t effect my system. Importantly I can open her bin while she’s working on it and check her work or look at the footage and it won’t cause a problem. All that happens on my system is I get a red padlock icon on the bin so I know any changes I make to that bin won’t be saved. This is better than Premier because when you import an edit from another project it brings in all the dependent media as well. Chances are you probably already have that media in the project but its not smart enough to know that. I was working on a Documentary with another editor in Premier recently and the process was workable but still annoying.

This open file nature of Avid is also useful for projects that share content. I can open (not import) a bin from another project. I could make a bin that has our custom countdown, and open it in every job I work on so I can put that at the start. Imagine a bin with every second of Ford Mustang commercial footage ever shot so if I need a Mustang shot for an Ad I need only open that bin. Not only that but every shot is logged and labeled so if I only want blue Mustang’s I can custom sift my bin with the keyword “blue” and it will show only the blue cars. I know metadata and sorting are a big thing for FCPX but I’ve been custom sifting my bins for “Scene 01” and “Mazda3” since I started using in Avid in 2000, it does require you to name your footage but your crazy if you’re not doing that anyway.

Also I need only send an updated bin (i.e. Edits.avb) to someone in another city (assuming they have the same media) and they will have my latest edit playable in their Avid.

3. Premier is for editing and AfterEffects is for motion graphics. After Effects is not a compositing package that is comparable to Nuke, Fusion or FLAME. You can do some VFX sure and potentially green screen work but you need a node based system for real VFX work. Weta, ILM, MPC, DNeg, Method, etc. don’t comp VFX in AfterEffects, they use Nuke (maybe Fusion). Depending on the size of the facility there will be a mix of systems, maybe (probably) AfterEffect was used for the title sequence and end credits. If you want to work in the VFX industry download Fusion for free and lean how to composite with nodes, if filmmaking is a hobby then you can do your VFX in AfterEffect, there is a large learning curve to composting with nodes and Nuke can be very confusing at first. I know people will argue AfterEffects is a serious composting package but my answer is a) why isn’t it the the go to package for Feature films? b) layers aren’t suited for complicated VFX. I find compositing in After Effects like cutting onions wearing oven mitts, I can kinda get there in the end but its very hard. If Adobe make a node based compositor the market might shift.

4. No they might be 6 months or 20 years behind Avid. Software development is complicated and costly. I imagine Premier is probably perfect for 95% of people editing in the world. Should they put the resources in to go after professionals like me? I don’t know. There are different types of professional editors, News, Wedding, Corporate, Instructional, Feature Film, TV Series, Documentary, etc. do they all need the same tools? No. Documentary and News editors want very different things from an editing package even though from the outside the are making material from live event footage. It might cost a lot to develop Premier in that direction and they’ll get no more subscriptions.

If you’ve bothered to read this far then here is a bonus answer about how we get footage into Avid. Avid’s bad at transcoding footage, they have this amazing “FrameFlex” thing for applying LUT’s and interpreting varied different types of footage. It’s bad “rendering” those files out to proxy files. We use Resolve to transcode. We have a Avid media preset, we apply any LUT’s we need to and hit render. We put those files into the “AvidMedia” folder and open Avid. Avid creates a database (.mdb) in the folder and we drag that .mdb into an Avid bin and bang! there’s your footage. We also use Resolve for grading so its a good way to check that the files are ok, no bad frame rate flags, etc.

The other reason I always transcode is for playback. Avid really good with effects for “offline” or “rough cut” edits. Green screens are realtime. I can have two foreground elements, a background plate, a graphic and a disclaimer and maybe a grade over the whole thing and it plays back realtime on my MacPro Trashcan. If the Avid was accessing the original Arri (or RED) files I’d have to render. This is important because I usually have a director in my suite and if I move a background plate or extend a shot I (we) don’t want to have to wait for it to render. The half an hour it take to transcode a typical shoot days worth of footage saves me more time in the edit session.

I hope this helped.

September 14, 2017 at 11:53AM

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Andrew Stalph
Editor
253

I'm currently switching from Premiere to Avid, for one reason: Premiere crashes on me, constantly. It doesn't even have to crash, the playback monitor can simply turn black out of nowhere or maybe the video simply refuses to render after six minutes.
It's also very common, I stayed up to 8AM last time to finish a project when I could have went to bed at 10PM the previous day had Premiere not constantly crashed.

The bugs and crashes are ridiculous - fix that, and I'll stay, because I love everything about Premiere Pro otherwise! Elsewise I'll continue to learn Avid!

September 14, 2017 at 12:40PM

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Aljoscha Kirschner
Writer/Director/DP
84

Just out of curiosity, are you using Premiere on a Mac or PC?

September 20, 2017 at 6:48AM

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that is really usefull thing

September 15, 2017 at 6:29AM, Edited September 15, 6:29AM

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