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Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2015 Enhances Color Workflow, Application Interoperability

This is a solid improvement for editors.

To reinforce the value of the Creative Cloud subscription, Adobe continues to improve its core video and design products, but the company is also expanding the implementation of mobile-to-desktop and cloud workflows. The Creative Cloud 2015 video products were previewed at the NAB Show and released this summer.

Mobile-to-Desktop

Incorporation of mobile products into the production pipeline has become an important theme for Adobe. For Premiere Pro CC users, this primarily involves two products: Premiere Clip and Hue CC. Premiere Clip is a lightweight video editor for smartphones. Shoot a video on your phone and start cutting. Premiere Pro now allows you to import Premiere Clip projects so you can continue cutting there. Media assets and projects can be moved among systems via Creative Cloud Libraries, powered by Adobe CreativeSync. With a Creative Cloud subscription, you can access your own library and shared libraries created by other users.

Adobe Hue CC can be used to develop creative looks to be applied to shots using the Lumetri Color panel.

Adobe Hue CC supports the new color workflow within Premiere Pro CC. This smartphone application was previewed at the NAB Show under the code name “Project Candy.” It is able to analyze the color tonality of any photo on your smartphone in 3D color space and generate a 3D LUT (color lookup table) from it. Adobe Hue CC displays this analysis in the form of floating color bubbles over the image. You can rotate the cloud of bubbles on your smartphone screen to change the relative values of the selected colors. When you’re happy with the choice, it is saved as a 3D LUT to your Creative Cloud Library. Back on your laptop or desktop in Premiere Pro CC, access this LUT through the Creative Cloud Library and apply it as a “look” using Adobe’s new color controls.

New Color Workflow

The most visible addition to Premiere Pro CC 2015 is the Lumetri Color panel. If you are familiar with Adobe Lightroom or SpeedGrade CC, then you’ll recognize the similarities. It combines several color grading functions into a single, multi-tabbed interface panel. These controls are accessible through either the standard Effect Control panel or the separate Lumetri Color panel. The best part is that you can keyframe all of the functions. With either control panel, you get a set of task-specific color wheels and curves. When the color workspace is activated, the display automatically docks the Lumetri Color panel, along with a new set of high-resolution real-time videoscopes brought over from SpeedGrade.

Moving the color bubbles in 3D space lets you control the dominance of colors selected in Hue CC.

There are two points within Lumetri Color to introduce LUTs. In the Basic Correction tab’s pull-down menu, you can add a log-to-Rec. 709 color transform LUT. Then in the Creative tab’s pull-down, you can add a stylized look. Premiere Pro CC comes with a number of color transform and custom look files created by Adobe and LookLabs (SpeedLooks). Some of these, like the SpeedLooks options, work in two steps for the best results. For instance, if you were applying the SpeedLooks Blue Ice creative LUT to an ARRI Alexa Log C file, you would also need to use the SpeedLooks profile for ARRI cameras.

Both generic .cube and Adobe .look formats work, so if you’ve purchased other LUT collections, like VisionColor Osiris, Rocket Rooster, LookLabs SpeedLooks, Koji or others, they will work with Premiere Pro CC. For example, I was able to easily access and apply a set of SpeedGrade look files I created last May inside Premiere Pro from the new Lumetri Color panel.

Editorial Enhancements

There are a number of improvements that editors will appreciate. Workspace selections are now grouped across the top of the viewers. They are still available as pull-downs, but by having them grouped across the top, it’s easy to change between layouts that have been optimized for editing, color, effects, audio, etc. These presets can be customized according to your needs.

The Basic Correction tab of the Lumetri Color panel includes slider control of balance, brightness and contrast.

One new marquee effect is Morph Cut, which is intended to make jump cuts in interviews appear seamless. This transition is similar to the Fluid Morph effect available in Avid Media Composer. Editors cutting talking-head corporate videos and documentaries are frequently challenged to assemble cogent soundbites from sentence fragments—the so-called “frankenbite.” The inevitable jump cuts in the interviewee’s video are either left to jump or are covered with B-roll cutaway shots. When you apply a Morph Cut transition, Adobe’s warp stabilizer technology analyzes the video and creates new in-between frames for a seamless transition across the cut.

In actual practice, Morph Cut isn’t a panacea for all situations. If the frame size and position match, if the person remains in the exact same spot, and if the speaker paused mid-sentence at the cut, then Morph Cut works quite well. However, if the camera has reframed, if the person has his head turned at either the out or in point of the cut but not the other, or if the speaker is still talking through the cut, then the result isn’t very pleasing. Morph Cut requires analysis before being applied, which can proceed in the background.

The Lumetri Color Creative tab includes LUT support to add stylized color correction looks from .cube and .look files.

A few of the less obvious improvements include trimming and timeline scrolling. These came with prior versions, but they are still worth noting. You can now loop the trim window and make trim adjustments, which are dynamically updated. You can also JKL-play the middle of the cut or either side of the cut in the trim window to make a direct “double-roller” or “single-roller” trim. The point at which you stop the playback is the point to which the cut is then updated. The timeline will scroll smoothly or page as you play, depending on your preference. Auto-selection of clips is new with Creative Cloud 2015. As you move through the timeline, the playhead auto-selects the clips that it is parked over, based on the enabled target tracks. This is a handy feature, but it’s always on, unless you deselect the target tracks containing your video clips.

Interoperability

A new Premiere Pro CC timeline function automatically selects the clip in the sequence over which the playhead is parked.

Adobe’s greatest strength has always been the interoperability of its various applications. Dynamic and/or Direct Links to Adobe After Effects CC, Adobe Audition CC, Adobe Media Encoder CC and SpeedGrade CC make it easy to use Premiere Pro CC as the central hub in your workflow. After Effects got a huge update with CC 2015. I won’t go in depth here, since this is mainly a Premiere Pro review, but the most important thing for editors is the performance bump. Playback in After Effects is now as easy as a spacebar tap. This will be in near-real time after caching, complete with audio. You can make dynamic changes without stopping playback. As you loop the playback, these changes are quickly re-cached. The bottom line for editors is that After Effects is finally becoming an interactive tool that fits with the temperament and workflow of most editors.

Premiere Pro CC can be used with touch operation on Windows-based tablets like the Surface Pro.

It’s not new with this version, but another workflow improvement is Premiere Pro’s Render and Replace command. When you send a set of clips from Premiere Pro to After Effects using Dynamic Link, those clips are replaced with an After Effects composition on the timeline. Until rendered, the After Effects composition is always “live” and negatively affects Premiere Pro’s performance. If you have a lot of compositions in the timeline, it can become bogged down. With Render and Replace, the “live” composition is replaced with rendered, “flattened” media. You are no longer having to access dynamic After Effects compositions, thus returning real-time playback to normal. Thanks to Adobe’s linking, you can still choose to edit that rendered file, which automatically sends you back to the original After Effects composition.

The Premiere Pro CC interface has been updated to include shortcuts at the top to quickly switch among task-oriented workspaces.

Interoperability between Premiere Pro CC and SpeedGrade CC has changed. Adobe had previously added Direct Link, which sends the Premiere Pro timeline to SpeedGrade. In the CC 2014 versions, color corrections applied in SpeedGrade show up as a Lumetri effect applied to the clip or adjustment layer when you send it back to Premiere Pro. The addition of the Lumetri Color panel in CC 2015 creates Lumetri Color effects in the Premiere Pro timeline, but these are not editable inside of SpeedGrade. The same is true going back to Premiere Pro.

During the testing period, when I had installed CC 2015 preview versions alongside CC 2014 applications, SpeedGrade was extremely unstable on both Macs. Fortunately, now that the release versions are out, these problems have been fixed. It’s noteworthy that the CC 2015 update replaces all previous versions, so maybe they found that running multiple versions caused problems. It now works likes it’s supposed to. Nevertheless, with the Lumetri Color panel covering 90 percent of what nearly any editor would want, there seems less justification to use the SpeedGrade round-trip. You can get nearly everything done right inside Premiere Pro.

This release has a number of large and small upgrades that will make editors and compositors quite happy. I like the direction Adobe has taken. It just reiterates that the product designers are working hard to integrate user input and build on the professional momentum that Adobe has earned to date.   dv

Product:Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2015

Score:

Pros: Continued editing enhancements and two new powerful features: Lumetri Color panel and Morph Cut. After Effects CC 2015 has also enjoyed a major performance boost. Builds on mobile-to-desktop workflows via Creative Cloud.

Cons: SpeedGrade CC performance is becoming more sluggish on older hardware.

Bottom Line: This is a solid improvement for editors. The new Lumetri Color panel covers most of the color correction tasks any editor normally encounters. Dynamic Link to a new and improved After Effects CC will encourage more users to make After Effects part of their effects workflow.

MSRP: $19.99/mo. for single application subscription (annual plan), $49.99/mo. for complete subscription (annual plan)

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