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Adobe Delivers Salvation for HDSLR Shooters

Cutting 7D Footage Natively with Adobe Premiere CS5

By Clint Milby | November 12, 2010

Without a doubt, the greatest challenge for HDSLR shooters has been editorial. I recently read of another new software that's supposed to magically make your HDSLR footage palatable for the finicky Final Cut Pro. Why you would ever want to put yourself through the misery and expense of purchasing an additional piece of software that takes hours to work and may crash your computer just so you can cut with FCP is beyond me. The good news is, now you don't have to...

I recall the first time I tried to cut footage I shot with a 5D Mark II into Final Cut. My heart just sank as if I had been cheated on by the love of my life as it wouldn't load into FCP. I began the burden of experimenting with various decompression softwares only to become bitter and frustrated with the inconsistences and empty promises. I felt like a man in the desert, dying of thirst and running towards the oasis that is never there. That is until this May with the release of Adobe Premiere CS5.

There's a ton of reasons to look at CS5, to many to list here. For me the biggest feature was the claim that Premiere could take native HDSLR footage right into the timeline without any pre-render or decompression. Could this be true? Could Adobe truly be the oasis I've been looking for? I was skeptical at first, then I tried it. Oh my God! It was literally like the heavens parted and light beamed down upon me with the goodness only Adobe could give. From that moment on, I was shooting, cutting and exporting more than ever before. For months now I've been meaning to sing the praises of Premiere, but I've been caught up in the freedom I've found in being able to shoot and cut with such ease.
Some of you may still be clinging desperately to your FCP, ever committed to the software because it's the one "professionals" use. That might have been true at one time. However, when I attended Shane Hurlbut's HDSLR Bootcamp, it put to bed any doubts that Premiere had finally come of age. It's one thing for me to say Premiere is the way to go, but it's totally another thing to see a cinema professional like Shane using the software on a 25 foot screen cutting 5D Mark II footage that was just shot minutes before.

Of course I could tell you this all day long, and some of you may just refuse to believe. If you've become jaded by the empty promises of decompression software or you're just another one of FCP's jilted lovers, you may refuse to believe. Trust me when I say, I understand. That's why I've made this video that's proof that the promised land actually exists.

Here, I'll take you through a step by step process of cutting 7D footage right off of the compact flash card. That's right! Right off the card! Some of the instruction might seem a bit elementary, but the point here is to show that with Adobe Premiere CS5, you can now shoot, cut and render within the time frame it takes you to prep your footage for editing with FCP. For the HDSLR Shooter, I have good news, the promised land does exist, and it's called Adobe Premiere, CS5.

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danielbeanfilms: | November, 12, 2010

Premiere CS4 was such a pain to edit with compared to FCP. It was like night and day: Premiere was slower, less intuitive, and just plain clunky. I’d like to believe there is a perfect solution out there, my brain just has a hard time believing it comes from Adobe, and especially that it comes from the next upgrade up from Premiere CS4 which, as I mentioned earlier, just plain sucks.

Also, I understand that the factor that is supposed to make CS5 be able to do this is hardware acceleration. That leads to the obvious conclusion that one’s benefits from this feature are directly proportionate to how good one’s hardware is. So, that leads me to speculate: how good was the author’s hardware, and what would be the minimum hardware requirement to enjoy the miraculous benefits described in the article? (Are we talking 8 or 12-core Mac Pro, or will someone with a fairly recent iMac be editing in real time as well?)

Martijn Schroevers: | November, 12, 2010

Native HDSLR editing in Premiere… I’m happy with this video because it clearly shows it sucks. Everything you do on the timeline needs rendering!! Even the smallest adjustment of contrast or color. Not to mention the horrible GUI of Premiere. Transcoding DSLR footage in MPEG Streamclip is a no-brainer so I can edit in a format (ProRes) that doesn’t need rendering. I just read in an email from Steve Jobs that FCP will have a major overhaul early next year… so probably Apple will adress this soon.

Clint Milby: | November, 12, 2010

Thanks for reading Daniel.  If you watch the the video, I show I’m using an HP tower with an i7 quad core with 12g of RAM.  I’ve seen this system on a 2 year old iMAC with no problems.

Clint Milby: | November, 12, 2010

Thanks for watching Martijn.  I tend to render as I go to save time on the back end, but you don’t have to.  Especially with mere color correction you can continue to work and see the results instantly.

Tom Daigon: | November, 12, 2010

This is great if you are limited to cutting just images. But if you have the need for After Effects in your project you definitely want to convert to Prores to avoid the nasty artifacts and image degradation that will happen if you stay with the Canon codec. It is a acquisition codec and not really good for editing.

Clint Milby: | November, 12, 2010

Thanks for reading Las—I don’t think that’s true, because with Adobe’s Dynamic link you can actually import clips into After Effects simply by right clicking on the clip and selecting replace with After Effects Composition.  Once you’ve done that, After Effects opens and loads the clip and automatically replaces the clip in the Premiere timeline with the After Effects composition.

Tom Daigon: | November, 12, 2010

You misunderstand what I said. I as referring to the h.264 ccodec that Canon uses for its files. It is a high compression codec that gets nasty when you do things in After effects (i.e. compositing, particles, color correction). Prores is a much cleaner codec that does just fine in the AE environment.

Alphadelta: | November, 12, 2010

Hi Clint, great video. I was just intrigued really as I stumbled upon this - as a Final Cut Pro user of a few years. I must say, having used PRCS5 at work recently I am converted, to a certain degree!!

The one things I am yet to really go to town on are multicam editing (which I REALLY loved about FCP7) and I haven’t yet bothered to research/learn the keyboard shortcuts as I have with FCP. One I can’t yet find is the shift+z equivalent to fit timeline to window!! This is one of the issues I have, so if you have a comprehensive list that would help, then go ahead!!

Anyway, a well delivered video and look forward to more.


Karl Soule: | November, 12, 2010

Zoom timeline to Fit is the Backslash () key. It’s actually dual-function - it remembers the zoom level, so if you tap it a second time, it’ll zoom back into the same zoom level you had before. It’s very useful for moving around a long timeline.

Karl Soule: | November, 12, 2010

Martijn, There still are some effects that require rendering, and Clint uses some of these effects in his video. However, the following effects DON’T require any rendering in a properly configured system:

Blending Modes (including 25 blending modes from Photoshop)
Fast Color Corrector
Three-Way Color Corrector
RGB Color Corrector
RGB Curves
Gaussian Blur
Color Balance
Gamma Correction
Ultra Key (Chroma Keying)
multiple Garbage Matte Effects
Track Matte
Basic 3D
Drop Shadow
Edge Feather
Dip to color effects

This isn’t a full list, but should give you some idea of the effects that are real-time, and don’t require rendering.

Now, what is a “properly configured system”? It just means that the system has a recommended graphics card, like a $300 GTX 470 card. These effects are all GPU-accelerated, and won’t give the “red bar” on the timeline.

PhotoFusion: | November, 12, 2010

Clint which Video card are you using because you don’t appear to have the Mercury Playback Engine enabled.

Those contract corrections should all be played without rendering through MPE.

If you don’t have a CUDA enabled video card go get yourself a GTX470 and you’ll really start shifting then!


Karl Soule: | November, 12, 2010

Las, neither Premiere Pro nor After Effects use QuickTime to decode the H.264 files from Canon DSLR cameras. We use a 3rd party codec with some special “tweaks” created in conjunction with Canon to ensure color fidelity and maximum quality.

Once the footage is in either app, (depending on your settings) it’s decoded into a 32-bits-per-channel uncompressed color workspace. And, since you don’t have to render to bring files from AE back to Premiere Pro (Dynamic Link), you avoid having to render back to a file when finishing a comp.

Codecs like ProRes are still useful when working outside the Adobe suite, but they are not necessary when just going back and forth from Premiere and AE.

Karl Soule: | November, 12, 2010

AlphaDelta - there’s a video on AdobeTV that covers keyboard shortcuts, and how to best manage them:

The bottom line is that you can customize the keyboard shortcuts to continue to use the commands that make you work the fastest.

Karl Soule: | November, 13, 2010

Also, Andy - here is a video that goes into Multicam editing:

In the video, Jason Levine uses mixed media - each camera in his multicam edit is a different format. I don’t think Jason specifically calls this out.

scott erickson: | November, 13, 2010

I dunno about you but I don’t really want to edit my 7D footage natively. I love my EOS-1 plug-in for FCP Log & Transfer. I get a clean professional codec that allows me to edit/grade with no worries about integrating graphics/fx later on, regardless of what app I’m in. I get all the metadata from the camera passed into my clip data. I get the chance to choose just the clips i want and portions of clips I want. I get to name and store my media where I want it. I get to store my card data in my media archive in case I even need to go back to it, i can restore a project. And I get to spend time getting organized and familiar with my footage which helps me be faster than any rendering advances could ever do.

When I need to get something out fast, down and dirty, FCP does a decent job editing h264 natively on a modern macpro. Sounds like Adobe’s made some nice advances in handling this media but it certainly isn’t a game changer for me. I’ve been working with FCP and DSLRS for the past year and editing natively/transcoding has never been an issue for me. Moire and aliasing for sure, but the post workflow has been working just fine thanks to pluraleyes and the EOS-1 plugin.

Clint Milby: | November, 13, 2010

Thanks for reading Scott.  Let me put your fears to rest, there is no problem integrating graphics/fx with the footage still compressed in Premiere.  Again, I’ve used Dynamic Link to actually import a clip out of the Premiere timeline, create an After Effects composition, and without having to do anything go back to Premiere which has converted that clip into the After Effects Composition right into the timeline.  It’s seamless.  Just because it’s fast doesn’t mean your sacrificing any quality.  Don’t take my word for it, download the trial from Adobe free for thirty days:

Tom Daigon: | November, 13, 2010

Clint…nothing like a little hard sell there at the end of your last post. Info is appreciated…sales pitches not so much.

keenast: | November, 14, 2010

Guys, use whatever, but it seems Mr. Clint Milby is getting really orgazimic !  Is it the money he gets from Adobe to be so uppity? I use FCP for my 7D footage and don’t really have problems - I wonder now what I’m doing wrong!

Clint Milby: | November, 14, 2010

If I come off as being unusually excited, it’s because I genuinely am.  Premiere has truly made a difference in my work by cutting the time it takes to get something from the compact flash card to delivery.  Why wouldn’t I want to share that with everyone?

Martijn Schroevers: | November, 14, 2010

Well Clint, I don’t mind you sharing your experience on Premiere with us, but since this whole section is sponsored by Adobe I simply don’t know how much Adobe is paying you for your sharing… that is the problem. ProVideoCoalition used to be an independent blog where opinions should be free of commercial influence. I prefer to have the ad’s separated from the content, but here everything get’s mixed up to a point I don’t know what and who to believe. This also is not the first (sponsored) post on why we all should switch to Premiere. PVC starts to look like an advertising vehicle for Adobe and Sony…

Micki4Mo: | November, 14, 2010

I second that opinion of Martijn. At first I overread that “sponsored by Adobe” tag and while I was reading I was thinking to myself “who is this guy and why is he allowed to write such an unbiased marketing blog for adobe on this platform?”. Only after reading the comments I realized what this all is about.

Regarding Premiere - I’ve just recently started playing around with it for it’s capability to conform edls coming from Avid and relink the edits to the original 5D/7D Media Files which I prefer to use for finishing in AE. This I do because transcoding with anything other than the terribly slow 5DtoRGB tool notably lessens the picture quality (especially Mpeg Streamclip which I love otherwise).
Other than this feature, there’s a couple of things on it that I’m liking better than FCP (e.g. way better render-managment: you don’t have to re-render things on your timeline only because you move them around) but it’s by no means “overwhelmingly better” and not even faster if you don’t have a GPU with Cuda.
I find it noteable that clint in his video is using a windows PC, which is something you don’t see that much around here and other video-professional forums. notable because cuda gpu’s for PC are widely available and fairly cheap, whilst on mac you have a very limited choice of rather expensive cards if you need cuda. Current iMacs for example come with ATI graphics and standard graphics option on the Mac Pro’s is ATI as well.

keenast: | November, 14, 2010

That wishi washi hidden advertisement on provideocoalition is really killing it. The visitor constantly has to second guess who is paid by who and who is shilling for who - it’s tiring. There was a time when media separated editorial from advertising, alas it seems to be gone. It’s one thing to have a section of provideocoalition ‘sponsored’ by a company, and another to have it essentially ‘owned.’

I would also appreciated if Mr. Clint Milby, whenever he ‘posts’ would just mention his relationship with the company he is writing about. But while he’s so genuinely excited to ‘share’ his wisdom, that wouldn’t go as far as sharing who’s paying him for that.

I’m afraid It’s just a question of time that the few writers here that are not paid and/or don’t play this aweful game (Adam Wilt i.e.) will leave the platform.

And to come back to Adobe Premier: this software sucked for the longest time and it’s great to hear that it finally sucks less or even stops sucking. It’s coming a bit late as Avid and FCP rule the industry and the ability to easily switch projects with other editors is very important and Adobe’s going to have a very difficult uphill battle to establish a similar standing.

Besides, quoting another industry shill like Shane Hurlbut to underscore one’s point is…. a bad joke.

Karl Soule: | November, 15, 2010

Guys, before you read too much into that “Sponsored by Adobe” logo at the top of Clint’s blog, I would point out that the SAME LOGO appears above the articles listed in the “Focus on Final Cut” section. Click on Adam Wilt’s article on plug-ins, the Stills in FCP article from vittiPhoto, etc. It’s because Adobe sponsors various blogs listed on PVC, regardless of what they write about.

Adobe does have a Vendor Blog on this site, and we put a disclaimer at the bottom of every article that is either written by Adobe employees (like me) or is a “sponsored article,” meaning Adobe asked the individual to write it.

You’ll notice that this article from Clint DOES NOT have that disclaimer. That’s because the opinions expressed here are his own.

scott erickson: | November, 15, 2010

Right but there is a huge difference in the style of posts Adam Wilt writes and this one, that’s why I pointed it out. When I read a post from Adam, I know it’s his personal views on a camera or technology that he has tested extensively. He’s earned my trust over the years as an industry expert. Clint’s post talks about “salvation” by Adobe and the “promise land” and “oasis” that is Premiere. Excitement or not, this doesn’t instill trust in me or build confidence that what Clint is saying is objective. Especially when he pushes the 30-day trial in the comments section. 

I think the advances Adobe is making with Premiere are awesome and truly want to check them out. But I’d almost rather read them on the product blog because at least then I know where I stand and can make the judgement for myself. I spoke up because I felt there needed to be some counterpoint to the fact that other HDSLR workflows do exist and work well for others. Clint made it sound like until now, there was no other viable alternative which is very misleading.

Anyway, it’s very telling that until you mentioned the Sponsored by Adobe tag on Adam’s blog, I never noticed it. I think a lot of that has to do with his FTC Disclaimers he does on every post. PVC is great, all the bloggers are wonderful and I hope Adobe and Sony and everyone continues to support and promote this site. I just don’t think this post is a good example of a way forward.

Karl Soule: | November, 15, 2010

Heh, understood, Scott. That’s more about Clint’s personal style, which Adobe also has no control over. wink

In a similar vein, I just noticed the title of Steve Hullfish’s new entry:

“FREE Color iPad Awesomeness
Technology that’s just WAY too cool!”

Clint Milby: | November, 15, 2010

Scott, thanks for reading.  I’m sorry you were put off by my writing style.  If you were to ask anyone who knows me, they could tell you I’ve been excited about this product since it was released.  The purpose of this article wasn’t to do a side by side comparison, but merely to share what has been an overwhelmingly positive experience with some software that has been a solution for me.  Did I go too far with putting a link to trial software..?  Well it’s free, and it’s the most sure fire way for anyone with questions to find out if what I’m saying is true.  Again, thank you for sharing your comments and for reading.

hmcindie: | November, 15, 2010

Those who transcode with mpegstreamclip to prores and edit in FCP are giving their files a huge gamma shift. Just look at the original vs the transcoded.

Premiere CS5 works way better and easier.

There is also no image artifacting when copying the files straight to AE. Some of you guys spew stupid stuff with no experience like Lasvideo. I can just copy my timeline clips straight into AE, do color correction in 32-bit and render out. Works BRILLIANTLY. FCP / Color are a huge pain compared. The RED workflow with these programs is a joke compared to how well they work with CS5.

I use both Premiere CS5 and FCP at work but really wish I could just ditch FCP completely. I can’t yet as a lot of client projects come from FCP and Prores is still a great mastering codec. Luckily I can still use it.

Tom Daigon: | November, 15, 2010

Speaking of stupid stuff…hey hmcindie, most folks I know dont use mpegstreamclip clip and as such dont experience the problem you mentioned. Those that convert Canon files use the spectacular EOS plugin which not only generates a great conversion, but also assigns time code (so all clips dont start at 00:00:00) as well as allowing the addition and display of meta data.  And since you are of a higher intelligence than most of us, working as professional editors for 30 years, I an sure your wedding and home videos look very nice done on CS5. But someday you might work with real clients which will have certain expectations about which software you use   wink

Tom Daigon: | November, 15, 2010

Oooops, sorry…I forget to include cheesy independent wannabe films wink

hmcindie: | November, 15, 2010

Lasvideo: I work at a CGI posthouse as an editor, independent wannabe films are my hobby.

EOS plugin is ok though it is EXTREMELY SLOW. We have a documentary project with about 20 hours of material and I’m in the process of converting it to the Premiere workflow as FCP just doesn’t cut it.

hmcindie: | November, 15, 2010

Lasvideo: It’s very easy to verify. Prores workflow with AE / Canon 7d clips doesn’t work properly. If you think it does it just shows your inexperience. I can’t really say much more to that.

Another minus to the EOS plugin is that isn’t very stable and a transcode that takes many hours and left overnight has a tendency to be borked.

Tom Daigon: | November, 15, 2010

I see. Well, I can understand why you would prefer the work flow you mentioned dealing with 20 hours of materials. As as Avid DS artist until recently I can appreciate there are many ways to edit material.
Every system has its advantages and disadvantages.
Some have to do with software and other have to do with client expectations. For me CS5 is not an option yet due to
1. Client expectations
2. Limited good third party support (especially FX Factory for innovative transition and filters - when needed).
3. Sweetening limitations that pale to what Sound track Pro has to offer (though I explored the beta of Audition and that seems very promising).

Tom Daigon: | November, 15, 2010

And a little education for you from the very article you linked to….

“Be careful people when you judge gamma shift (or the lack of it) by viewing your orig and transcoded clips in Quicktime (at least in Leopard)... QT has a notorious problem displaying H.264 faithfully… not ProRes…
I used to grade in FCP and compensate in Compressor (usually lowering the gamma and saving as droplet) because I was checking my exports in Quicktime. Big mistake, once uploaded to Youtube (I don’t work for broadcast anyway), the colors were different. Well it wasn’t a Youtube thing, just a Quicktime issue.
Now I check my exports in VLC and don’t feel the need to add a compensation when exporting. VLC and YT look the same.

What a mess. Even the same export parameters give a gamma difference depending on whether the source videos are the original H.264 files off the camera, or ProRes transcodes… so yes, I still have gamma-compensating presets, but just in case I had to edit out of H.264 files.
As much as I can, I work from transcoded files.”

It seems you might have a bit to learn your self….

hmcindie: | November, 15, 2010

1. This is true. A lot of our client projects come in as FCP projects. We could convert them to CS5 but clients are very familiar with FCP and the old “What? But isn’t Premiere bad?”- mantra still lives. And if it works why change it? Though for our next project shot with the RED I will see if I can convince to director to let me try out CS5 with it.

2. Premiere has a lot of great filters available. We have magicbullet, boris continuum, sapphire plugins and a lot of trapcode plugins for AE.

3. Well OMF export is starting to work (it didn’t work in CS4) so that’s good wink Premiere does have better audio management than FCP itself but Soundtrack Pro is good for general spicing up. Protools is our inhouse tool.

We’ll just have to see what Apple brings to the table for the next FCP. Who knows, they may add native dslr support too. Though FCP is very bound to Quicktime.

hmcindie: | November, 15, 2010

Lasvideo: The problem is that different programs see the gamma shift differently. For example Scratch which is our color grading application absolutely hates quicktime files as does our colorist because of the immense amounts of gamma shifts.

After Effects sees the file as quicktime gives it. Badly. Final Cut Pro also sees the final completely wrong. So I do CC inside FCP it will be borked. No matter how youtube sees it.

There are also countless threads about this, do I really have to link ALL of them here for you to believe when it’s very easy to just open a file converted by mpegstreamclip into FCP and compare it to the original h.264?

hmcindie: | November, 15, 2010

Do you think it’s just coincedence that people create elaborate “solutions” just as this:

The real solution is to use a program that can actually edit the files directly.

scottieb: | November, 17, 2010

About keyboard shortcuts: (I know I may well be the ONLY person who cares about this but) - from what I can tell, the numeric keypad is STILL not customizable - it will always control a “jump to timecode” function.  I have for years used a custom setup in Final Cut where I use the keypad for various controls (insert/overwrite and bringing different windows forward) but have not been able to use the same setup in Premiere. Am I missing something, or is this right, and if so, WHY can’t I customize those keys?

Clint Milby: | December, 03, 2010

Shane Hurlbut sounds on off making the switch from FCP to Adobe Premiere:

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