Power Window plugin for Adobe Premiere Pro

Power Window Interface.

Since it’s the Christmas season, I hope you’ll appreciate the new addition to the Creative Impatience toolbox: meet the Power Window filter.

After creating the Vignette plugin, I decided that even though it did most of the things that I wanted it to, there were still some image manipulations which were pretty hard to achieve. For example, a simple operation of lightening the inside of a selected shape, turned out to be pretty problematic to perform in a decent manner.

Therefore, I set out to create a variant of the CI Vignette, which would manipulate directly lift, gamma, gain and saturation values of the pixels inside, and outside of the shape. Most of the code was reused from the Vignette, and the rest was pretty uncomplicated to write. Frankly, I spend most of the time trying to figure out how to circumvent something that I perceive to be a bug in Premiere. But then, this is the life of a software developer. We have to live with what we are given.

Without further ado: Power Window plugin for After Effects and Premiere is up and running. Be sure to visit the download page for the file, read the instructions on how to install it, and if you have problems operating the plugin, take a look at Instructions and Tutorials.

Power Window Interface.

Hopefully some day I will manage to create some decent videocast on how to use these tools. In the meantime, feel free to experiment, and let me know how it goes.

Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

Continuing Premiere’s FCP XML export woes…

If you are familiar with my recent complaint about the issues with FCP XML export, let me throw two more problems into the mix. They might not be as important as the drop and non-drop frame issue, because no data is lost in the process, and they are fixable, although they might be quite an annoyance.

After fixing the problem with exporting zero-marker duration, we shall find out two things:

  1. Although subclips are correctly exported to FCP XML, for some reason Premiere creates additional markers in the main clip which span through the whole duration of each subclip…
  2. …but in each subclip, each marker’s in point is wrongly calculated, and their positions change, often beyond the subclip’s borders.

Example

There’s a clip that has 1 marker in it, and 1 subclip. The subclip starts at a frame 228, and ends at the frame 645 of the main clip. The marker starts at frame 355 and ends at 528. After export, you will get:

  • 2 markers on the main clip:
    • 355-528
    • 228-645
  • 2 markers on the subclip:
    • 355-300 (sic!)
    • 228-417

And what you should get:

  • 1 marker on the main clip: 355-528
  • 1 marker on the subclip: 127-300

I think you have already figured out, what’s going on – the subclip’s offset is not removed from marker’s in point. As I said – hardly a big problem. Merely an annoyance. But it requires a tool to fix it if you are using certain kind of workflow: the subclip-spanned markers should be removed, the real markers’ in points in subclips recalculated.

Depending how you look at it, the fact that the very same errors are present in FCP XML exports from Prelude, can be either disheartening – because you’d think it’s such a basic functionality that somebody should have had noticed in in the production stage – or encouraging – because if they fix it in Premiere, they will also fix it in Prelude.

On a positive note – I’ve been in contact with Jesse Zibble from Adobe about XML export in general, and I know they have been working on these issues. But judging from the release cycle of previous bug fixes, I don’t think this is going to be amended in the current release.

All of us not using Creative Cloud yet, feel free to express your disappointment now. And if any of you needs a tool to fix these markers, drop me an email.

Enhance your Premiere Pro productivity – keyboard shortcuts galore

There’s a tip that I wanted to share with you, which increased my productivity with Premiere Pro tremendously. And it’s very simple: customize your keyboard shortcuts. But make it wisely.

First tip: make use of the search box which is present in Keyboard Shortcuts dialog in Premiere. There is a ton of shortcuts, and if you know the proper name, or even part of the name, it’s easier to type it in the search box, and browse among the remaining entries, than to wade through all the options.

First and foremost – track selection

Separated from source patching in CS4, constantly improved, but still hardly perfect, track selection tends to be one of the most annoying things if you don’t remember about it (like wondering why match frame shortcut does not work). It has also been pretty cumbersome. But in CS5 we got a nice addition that allows us to finally make it more of a feature than a nuisance.

Assign keyboard shortcuts 18 to Toggle Target Video 1-8. By default they are assigned to multicam, and if you are doing a lot of multicam work, you might consider remapping your Select Camera shortcuts to F1F12 . This way you will overwrite the defaults for help (F1 ), capture (F5 ) and batch capture (F6 ), but the chances are you’re not using them very much, and if you do, simply find a better place for them. Like Shift+Ctrl+Alt+H 😉

Then assign 9 to Toggle All Target Video On, and 0 to Toggle All Target Video Off.

Track selection is vital to every editing operation in Premiere, and once you get used to the new shortcuts, I assure you, that you will never go back, and will be ready to strangle anyone who would like to take it away from you.

Perhaps you might also find it useful to assign Toggle Target Audio 1-8” to Ctrl+1 to Ctrl+8 , although personally I found myself using only the shortcuts to Toggle All Target Audio On/Off (Ctrl+9 /Ctrl+0 respectively).

Be mindful that shift+number shortcuts are assigned to panels, but if you change them you will not be notified about it! And there will be no undo, you’ll have to revert these changes manually.

And while we’re at it, why not map labels to Ctrl+F1 and further on? It’s a bit more complicated, you need to navigate to Edit->Label in the keyboard shorcuts dialog, and then assign keys to each label, but it also might be pretty helpful at times.

Manipulation of In and Out Points

Setting the In (I ) and Out (O ) are pretty decent standards, but some of the other shortcuts in this area are suboptimal, considering the fact that you need to perform thousands of this kind of operations a day, and adding half a second to press Shift , or even Shift+Alt+Ctrl is a pain. This time it’s worthwhile to take example from Avid, and get these under your fingertips.

The most important one: Clear In/Out – map it to G . This used to be Premiere’s default before FCP users started to put pressure on Adobe to adopt their  keyboard mapping.

Clear In and Clear Out is not something I use very often. If I want to change the In, I just set an In in another place. However, if you find yourself using them often, E and R seem to be pretty good places to put them.

On the other hand Go To In, and Go To Out tend to be useful, and I map them under Q  and W .

Mark Clip also tends to be useful for many reasons, gap removal included, and I tend to have it under the slash key / . Mark Selection – not so often used, I map it to Shift+/ .

Setting Render Entire Work Area  to Shift+Enter is worthwhile. I generally turn off the work area, and use In and Out, and this option is replaced with Render In to Out in my workflow, but the shortcut stays the same.

A few more tips

An idea that navigating markers should use the M key is quite alien to me. I prefer having Go To Next Marker as Ctrl+PgUp , and Go To Previous Marker as Ctrl+PgDn . It frees the M key for more important things, like for example assigning Edit Marker to Shift+M .

Another function that I often use is Add edit, and Add edit on all tracks. Default Ctrl+K  is not necessarily so bad, but it still requires at least two fingers. Let’s reduce it to one. Throw out the zoom tool shortcut (honestly, when did you last time use that one?), and assign Add edit to Z , and Add edit an all tracks to Shift+Z .

Speed/Duration and Audio Gain – who says that invoking dialogs needs a modifier key? Map them to D and H respectively. Who cares about the hand tool anyway?

Ripple Delete – default Alt+Backspace is almost fine, but why not map it to the del key itself? You’ll have to remember that the Backspace and del will then have different behavior but I think it’s worth it. I would map it to backspace, but then it interferes a bit with the way project panel works, so delete is the way to go for me.

Two real kickers and trimming

The next two will save you tremendous amount of time during editing. I used to perform this operation with a mouse – when I felt that I had to make a cut, I ripple-trimmed my next edit point by dragging it with a Ctrl key pressed (which was BTW the best timeline interaction I’ve ever had with any NLE) – and now I can do it without, saving quite a lot of time. There are two great shortcuts that should again be at your fingertips by default:

  • Ripple Trim Next Edit to Playhead]
  • Ripple Trim Prev Edit to Playhead – [

They take time to get used to, because the shape of the characters is opposite to what it does, but their position is correct. I still sometimes press the incorrect one, but they are a real timesaver, especially in connection with track selecting. However, if you find yourself thinking too much, you might consider switching them, and seeing if it doesn’t work better for you.

There are also two of the less often used – Extend Next Edit to Playhead and Extend Previous Edit to Playhead, which I tend to map to Shift+] and Shift+[ respectively.

I have never used Extend Selected Edit to Playhead. Ever. Perhaps I still don’t know something about editing, but I have not come upon a situation where I couldn’t replace it with any other available option.

Sometimes however I find it useful to immediately move to the nearest edit point and select correct trim mode. Therefore I usually map the following:

  • Select Nearest Edit Point as Ripple In to Ctrl+]
  • Select Nearest Edit Point as Ripple Out to Ctrl+[
  • Select Nearest Edit Point as Trim In to Shift+Ctrl+]
  • Select Nearest Edit Point as Trim Out to Shift+Ctrl+[

Transitions

For a moment I toyed with an idea to assign D to Apply Default Video Transition, but I decided against it. I needed other shortcuts much more, than I needed the transitions.

Interestingly, in CS6 you can specify a separate shortcut to add each of the following transitions:

  • Audio Crossfade
  • Video Crossfade
  • Dip To White
  • Wipe

If you tend to use any of these, definitely apply a shortcut to it. Also, if you use any other transition often, like for example Dip To Black (why it’s not in the list I have no idea), then use this one as a default transition, and apply a shortcut to Crossfade. Possibilities are really interesting, and I sincerely urge you to explore them.

Finally

Here is the .kys file for all of you lazy and impatient people to download:

Bart's keyboard shortcuts
(9912 downloads)

Feel free to use it and distribute it as you wish. However, I strongly urge you to explore keyboard shortcuts on your own.

To install the shortcut keys you need to exract the .kys file to the following folder (substitue $username and $version for appropriate values):

  • c:\Users\$username\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Permiere Pro\$version (Windows)
  • ~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Premiere Pro/$version (OS X)

I hope you’ll find these tips as useful, as I do. Enjoy.

Three features that would make Adobe Bridge useful for video review

In the video world Adobe Bridge tends to be under-appreciated. It’s true, that it was mostly designed to work with stills and assets for web development or desktop publishing. But it does have some rudimentary video preview options that most people are unaware of.

First, there is a possibility to play the video files. After clicking a video file, you will see a little playback control appear in the preview area. The control however is very basic, and makes it really hard to navigate to a specific frame, or to do anything sensible with it, for that matter

Secondly – there is an option to group pictures into so-called stacks, and set the frame rate at which the stack will be played. Simply select the whole image sequence, press ctrl/cmd+g, and voila! The stills will disappear and the thumbnail will change, giving you the possibility to see how many frames there are (upper left corner), and to play it back (the icon and slider above). The frame rate can be set by going to Stacks->Frame Rate and selecting the proper number.

Unfortunately, you can’t play the sequence in the preview area, only in the thumbnail area – I have no idea why.

I have three ideas that would make Adobe Bridge into a sensible video review tool.

  1. Frame by frame playback for video files in full screen mode using simple keystrokes.
  2. Video scrubbing like in Premiere Pro CS6.
  3. Possibility to add markers and comments for a given frame or a number of frames, which later on would be read by Prelude, Premiere, After Effects and other Adobe applications. Similar functionality was present in Adobe Clip Notes and  later in Adobe CS Review that was discontinued in April 2012. I guess it is coming back in another form to Creative Cloud, but right now we’re left in a void.

And come to think of it – why only markers? Why not set an in-point and an out-point as well? And integrate with Adobe Anywhere? Huh?

For those who are interested in supporting my ideas, here’s the link to the idea on the photoshop.com, where you can vote it up, so that people in Adobe community notice it.