Speech Search Meets ScriptSync

Adobe and Avid get synergistic
Steve Hullfish
By Steve Hullfish 10.03.09


Anybody remember that classic commercial for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups? "Hey! You got peanut butter on my chocolate! No! You got chocolate in my peanut butter!" Then the two injured parties in the commercial realize that peanut butter and chocolate are really two great tastes that taste great together! They shouldn't be kept apart. They should be celebrated in a joyful, delicious and nutritious union of flavors!

Well folks, today I'm getting Adobe in my Avid and Avid in my Adobe. Now most of you are probably thinking, "Duh. Everyone combines Photoshop and After Effects with Avid. That's nothing new." But I'm taking my Adobe cravings one step beyond the ordinary. I'm going for a Media Composer and Premiere Pro sandwich!

To keep the analogy going, this isn't some simple "peanut butter and jelly" combination we've heard a dozen times before. No! I'm going all out with your Kim Chi and Jolly Ranchers combo or Danish and haggis entr©e.

"But why?" I hear you cry. The reason is simple, it combines Adobe's Speech Search - with it's vibrant notes of lavender, leather and florals - with Avid's ScriptSync - imparting a complex bouquet of citrus, oak and melon.



OK, enough with the wine and food analogies. Let's get to work.

So the gist of this article is that Adobe Premiere Pro can transcribe on-camera interviews with its Speech Search function and Avid has ScriptSync, which allows you to treat scripts like bins. So if you combine the two, you get a semi-automated process by which you can do a very fast edit of an interview-based documentary cut together almost like a word processor. Now, if that doesn't sound very "artistic" to you, I understand. The "art" part actually comes after you've got the best parts of your interview assembled into a solid story. By doing the story part quickly and painlessly, you have even more time for the "art."

Choices, choices

To start with, we have to determine where we want to capture, edit and finish. The question of which product to use for ingesting your footage depends largely on the camera used for shooting. If you shot with a mini-DV or HDV tape camera, you could probably ingest using either system. For file-based cameras, I'd have to give the edge to Adobe. Premiere Pro can view footage from P2, RED and XDCam without even having to import it. Avid's new AMA plug-in allows a similar workflow, but Adobe Bridge and Premiere Pro's Media Browser are pretty compelling reasons for going with Adobe for capture. For old-school tape formats, like BetaSP or DigiBeta or even the high-end HD tape solutions, it will depend on what hardware you own already. If you don't own any hardware for video capture, then the choice will probably be to capture with Premiere Pro because you can use third party cards and capture boxes like AJA or Blackmagic.

Despite having friends at Adobe, I think the majority of editors in the world would say that you'd want to edit in Avid if you had your choice between the two. It's a tried and true editing interface. About the only benefit to editing in Premiere Pro would be to maintain the metadata of the clips throughout the entire edit process. Nobody does metadata like Adobe and there are compelling reasons on the back end for maintaining the metadata, as we will see later.

Which solution you use for output will also depend on what your deliverables are and whether you want that metadata. If your deliverables are tape-based, then I think Avid is probably the better solution. Though if cost is a factor, the Nitris and Mojo solutions are considerably more expensive than AJA and Blackmagic. But color correction and tape control are bulletproof on the Avid. The trick is that with output to filebased deliverables to go to the web or delivery on computers or straight to DVD, the advantage goes to Adobe. Using Dynamic Link, you don't have to render until the final output in Encore as you hop back and forth between Premiere, After Effects and Encore. Even the final sequence doesn't need to be rendered before being passed on to Encore. And with filebased media, there is still the issue of Adobe's ability to retain metadata, which will come into play shortly.

A variety of workflows

I can't run through all of the possible workflows that those six choices create, so I'll pick one of them and you can adapt it to your personal situation. The interviews I want are on DigiBeta and I'd prefer to capture them via my Kona card than to use my original model Mojo. (I have an ancient Avid Symphony Meridien that would be my first choice for capture, but the OMF Meridien capture is not supported by anyone really.) Also, since the first step in the process is to do the transcription in Speech Search, this means I don't have to take the additional step of exporting the media from Avid to Premiere. Another similar workflow would be to use OnLocation to capture directly to disk on set or on location. Then do the easy transfer of footage from OnLocation to Premiere. That is similar to the file-based workflows of bringing P2 or XDCam or RED into Premiere.

If you wanted to start with Avid doing the capture, you can easily do that, then cut the full length of all of the interviews into a sequence and export the entire sequence. Then in Premiere Pro, import the file and a bin will be created with the sequence and media just as it left the Avid.

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