I will admit right at the beginning – the idea is stolen from Autodesk Smoke 2013. I hope they don’t have a patent for that, because it’s so fantastic. But first let me make an obligatory digression.
There are a few things to like in Smoke, and there are other not to like. Something that really turned me off was the fact that something as simple as a clip with an alpha channel would not play in the timeline without rendering. Excuse me? As far as I know there is no other NLE on the market anymore that requires it. And we’re not even in 2013 yet. This constant need of rendering was something that turned me away from Final Cut Pro. I thought we’re long past that.
I also didn’t like the fact that the order of applied effects is pretty strict, although ConnectFX, and Action are really well developed and pretty flexible tools coming from the makers of great finishing software. This is the part which I liked. But after creating your comp and coming back to the timeline, you always have to render it to preview. Period.
The real trick of Smoke rooms seems to come to clever media management that is obscured from the user. I fail to comprehend how it is different from rendering a Dynamic Linked composition in Premiere Pro. Except from the fact that Premiere will at least attempt to play it, if ordered, and Smoke will just show “Unrendered frame”. But then, it’s just me.
However, Smoke has a feature that in my opinion is awesome, and should be implemented in Premiere Pro as soon as possible. It treats each source clip as a sequence from the get-go. It’s a brilliant idea.
In case you are wondering why I am so excited about it, let me make a short list on what you could do with the clips before you put them on the timeline when such option is available:
- Set audio gain and levels.
- Add additional audio channels or files and synchronize them.
- Composite another clip on top – or even make it a fully-fledged composition.
- Add versions of the clip.
- Apply LUT or a grade.
- Pre-render clip into proxy or dynamically transcode like in After Effects.
Can you see it now? You can work with your source material before making any edit. At the same time all these effects will be applied to the clips being inserted to the timeline or already present after the edit is complete.
I would love to see this implemented in Premiere. I don’t think it would be that hard, since sequence nesting is already possible, as is merging the audio clips. It seems to be only one more step with perhaps some clever way to turn on and off layers or effects of the clip already present on the timeline. It is the ultimate flexibility that would allow for quite a few new workflows to appear. I hesitate to use the abused words of “a game changer” – but I can’t help to feel terribly excited about it.