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February 2, 2015

Multichannel Audio in Premiere Pro

“You know, it’s a shame that Premiere Pro can’t output more than stereo audio.”

“What?? Are you kidding?? Premiere Pro handles multichannel audio output great. Up to 32 channels, depending on formats. Where’d you get that idea?”

“I’ve tried it. Even if I set my output to multiple channels, I end up with a stereo pair on A1 & A2, and a bunch of blank channels. It doesn’t matter how many tracks I have in my timeline, it all mixes down to Stereo.”

Does this conversation sound familiar?

It’s becoming more and more common for people to want/need to output more than a stereo mix down from a Premiere Pro sequence. Some need multiple languages in a single file. Others want to keep a discrete output of a music track, or a voiceover, so it can be updated later. Yet most people have trouble understanding how this is done in Premiere Pro, and it’s one of the biggest differences between Premiere Pro and FCP7.

It All Starts with the Sequence

Take a look at any existing sequence you may have, and scroll all the way to the bottom of the audio tracks. You’ll see something there called a Master track.

Master Audio Track picture

The Master Audio Track

The Master track is the mixed-down version of all the other tracks in the sequence. It doesn’t matter if you have a single audio track or 99 audio tracks – they all are getting mixed down into this Master Track. It’s similar to the way an audio mixing board works – you have a slider for each input track, but you also have a Master slider at the far right of the mixing board. It’s one extra place you can make a final adjustment of the mix volume before going out. For example, if you like the overall mix, but it’s just a little too hot, you can use the master slider to nudge the volume down a bit. This preserves the overall mix, but lowers the final output volume.

Why is this important to multichannel output? Take a look at this icon on the Master track:

This icon indicates a Stereo Master track.

This icon indicates a Stereo Master track.

That’s a STEREO master track. Most of the sequence presets that come with Premiere Pro are set by default to use a Stereo Master track. If we want to output multichannel audio, we’ll need to use a multichannel audio track. There’s currently no way to change the Master audio track in a sequence, so it’s best to start with a new sequence, and copy/paste from your existing sequence into the new sequence.

Start by creating a new sequence (File-New-Sequence) and pick out the format that best suits your resolution and frame rate. But before you click OK, go to the Tracks tab at the top of the panel.

Creating a New Sequence with a Multichannel Audio Master track.

Creating a New Sequence with a Multichannel Audio Master track.

In order to output multichannel audio, you need to use a Multichannel Master Track. This will enable you to output up to 32 discrete channels of audio. And, it’s flexible, and the number of output channels can be changed at any time in the sequence or in the audio mixer.

For those who use a lot of multichannel output, be sure to set a new sequence preset using a multichannel master track, and take note of the default pan and channel assign controls found here in the Track tab of the New Sequence box – we’ll reference them later in this tutorial.

Using the Multichannel Master Track

The Multichannel master is really flexible – it can be set to 2-channel for output of stereo, and any other number of channels up to 32-channel. To change it, just click on the number in the track header here:

Click here to change the number of output channels at any time.

Click here to change the number of output channels at any time.

You can also adjust the number of output channels in the Audio Track Mixer here:

Select the number of output channels from the Audio Track Mixer.

Select the number of output channels from the Audio Track Mixer.

Notice that when you change the number of output channels, the VU meter to the right of the timeline also changes – it matches the number of output channels. There are Solo buttons at the bottom to listen to individual pairs of channels.

VU Meters with 8-channel output selected.

VU Meters with 8-channel output selected.

Let’s take a further look at the Audio Track Mixer, because this is also where you assign channels to the various output channels. Notice that by default, all of the audio tracks are assigned to output 1+2. This means that currently, the mixer is assigning all the output tracks to mix down into output channels 1 and 2. In the mixer, go to Track A2, and change the output assignment to 3+4. Notice that you need to uncheck 1+2 and check 3+4 to make this happen – it’s very easy to duplicate audio out to discrete tracks this way! For example, lets say you need to cut a promo with mixed music, SFX, and V/O tracks, but also want to keep discrete versions of all 3 tracks:

Audio routed in the Track Audio Mixer.

Audio routed in the Track Audio Mixer.

As this shows, I’ve assigned all the audio into 1+2, so this will be my mixed version. But I’ve also routed copies of each tracks into 3&4, 5&6, and 7&8, respectively. This way, the output file will still contain “clean” versions of the music, VO, and SFX. Someone else could recut the promo later with a different voiceover, or change out the music, just by using these extra tracks in the finished file. (and assuming the playout server knows to ignore these extra channels for play-to-air.)

The Pan knobs in the mixer also affect the output – If I have mono content in a track, and the pan knob is left as the default (center), then it will go to both assigned output channels equally. If I need it to go discretely into a single channel in the output, I need to pan the track either left or right, depending on which channel I want the audio to go to.

For example, if I have a mono V/O in A4, and I want it to ONLY be in A9 of my output file, I would do the following:

Assign A4 to output 9+10
Pan to -100 (left channel)

It should look like this (I labeled the track to Mono VO to avoid confusion):

A4 set to output a single mono channel to output 9.

A4 set to output a single mono channel to output 9.

Most people I know who use Multichannel audio like to set up the mixer the same way each time – don’t forget that the output channel assign AND the Pan control can be set to a default setting in the New Sequence box. Having the mixer output pre-set in the custom sequence is the key to using this quickly and efficiently. Don’t forget.

Saving a sequence preset with default settings makes things much easier.

Saving a sequence preset with default settings makes things much easier.

Out of the Pan, into the Output Settings

The output from Premiere Pro is also super-flexible – you can pare off unwanted channels for a specific output, add additional blank channels for file compatibility with playout servers, and more. But, with great power comes great responsibility. You’ll want to check to make sure your output settings match what you want, or else your rendered file may be different from what you’re looking for.

Select your sequence, and go to File-Export Media. Then click on the Audio tab.

Audio Tab in Export Settings.

Audio Tab in Export Settings.

The number of channels in the Export tab depends greatly on the file format chosen and the audio codec you’re using. Here, in this example, I’m using MXF OP1a as my output format, and I’m using AVC-Intra-100 as my video codec. This usually has uncompressed audio, and that’s what’s shown in the Audio tab.

The number of output channels can be limited sometimes by the video codec as well. Certain camera makers have specific numbers of channels that are supported. In AVC-Intra 100, I can’t choose 12-channel output. I have to choose 10-channel or 14-channel, or it wouldn’t be a valid AVC-Intra 100 file.

Another example would be IMX-50. This only supports 2, 4, or 8-channel audio.

Export with IMX50 MXF OP1a. Note the limited output options.

Export with IMX50 MXF OP1a. Note the limited output options.

For maximum flexibility for audio, QuickTime uncompressed audio is very open, with choices ranging from 1-32 tracks, and special output options for 5.1 sound as well.

QuickTime Export options for uncompressed audio - note all the choices for multichannel audio.

QuickTime Export options for uncompressed audio – note all the choices for multichannel audio.

So, what happens if my Master Audio track in my timeline and my Export settings don’t match?

Premiere and AME will use the Export settings, and add/remove tracks as necessary to make them match. For example:

If my Master Audio track is set for 16 channels, and I set the Export for 8 channels, the resulting output file will have the first 8 channels from my sequence. Anything assigned to channels 9-16 will NOT be in the output file.

If my Master Audio track is set for 8 channels, but my playout server needs 16 channels, I can set the Export Settings for 16 channels. The exported file will have the exact audio from my sequence – all 8 channels routed the way I assigned them – in channels 1-8. It will also have blank channels 9-16 so that the file will pass the QC system and play on my broadcast server.

Quick Recap

The Master Audio track in the timeline determines the maximum number of discrete audio tracks that can be in the output file. For example, if the Master Audio track is a Multichannel track, and it’s set for 16 channels, that’s the maximum number of output channels available.

Routing of the tracks in the timeline is done in the Audio Track Mixer. Tracks on the timeline aren’t tied to particular output channels – it’s up to the editor to assign tracks to specific audio output channels.

The Audio tab in the Export Settings box has an additional choice for number of output tracks. The number of tracks depends on the format – some formats are much more rigid in the number of audio tracks. QuickTime AAC, for example, only supports 2-channel. QuickTime Uncompressed audio will support up to 32-channel. If the number of channels in the Export settings is different from the number of channels in the Multichannel Master track in the sequence, Premiere will either add blank tracks, or remove tracks. For example, if the Multichannel Master is set for 32 channels, but the export setting is only set to 16 channels, the exported file will only have the top 16 channels. Another example – if the Master track was set to 2 channels, but the export setting was set for 16 channels, the output file would have 2 channels with active audio, and 14 blank channels. (useful for playout server compatibility.)

December 27, 2014

Understanding Premiere Pro Metadata

This was originally a quick answer to a question on the Moving to Premiere Pro forum on Facebook, which is where you’ll find me most of the time. This blog doesn’t get used too often these days due to Twitter and Facebook, but I still maintain it for more complicated questions like this one.

Someone asked a series of questions about where Premiere Pro stores metadata, and why there are a lot of duplicate fields in the metadata panel, in two separate groups.

The Adobe engineers have found that people use metadata in one of two ways, typically – some use it on a project-specific basis, adding notes, descriptions, and commentary that relate specifically to that one project. In this case, the raw assets shouldn’t hold the metadata, as it could confuse other editors using the material. The other group wants to add metadata to the raw clips, so all editors, present and future, can take advantage of the information added.

Basically, Premiere Pro has two systems in place to accommodate either workflow – it can store in the individual files (or an adjoining sidecar) or it can store metadata as a clip property in the project file itself. Plus, there’s a special way to “link” these two systems together, in cases where you want to auto-populate from project to asset, and visa-versa.

The easiest way to see these two systems is to pull up the Metadata panel:

Metadata1

Any metadata entered in the top portion (under Clip) is just local project metadata. It’s tied to the selected clip, but nothing gets modified in the original file (or XMPsidecar.) This is great for people that are marking up clips in a specific way related to this project. Nothing added will be visible in other project files.

Any metadata entered under the bottom portion (under File) is embedded into the original asset if possible, and placed into an XMP sidecar if it’s not possible. (varies depending on read-access and file format.) This is great when you want to permanently mark up a clip for use with multiple editors, or add metadata that others will use in the future. However, be advised that this is one of the ONLY times that Premiere Pro could be modifying your original assets.

There is an exception to this Clip/File separation  – if you look at the screen grab, you’ll notice that the Description field in both areas has a little chain link icon on the right-hand side. This indicates that anything that’s entered in one area will automatically be copied into the other area. If you don’t want this information copied from the project into the file and visa-versa, click the little chain icon and turn off the link.

BTW – the Project bin has a slightly different view of the Clip properties, and anything entered there will also show up in the Metadata panel. It’s just more of a column, multi-clip view. Here’s part of the Project Bin showing the Description field for the clip in the above example:

Metadata2

If you want to modify the column view in the Project bin, use the bin flyout menu, and choose Metadata Display.

Once a property is linked in the Metadata panel, it doesn’t matter where you enter the metadata – for example, if Description is linked, you could enter it directly in the Project bin, and you’d see it show up under Clip metadata and (since it’s linked) in the File metadata.

The Link icon won’t magically copy metadata that’s already entered, so it won’t overwrite anything unless you type something new.

Any questions?

 

Question 1: What do you mean that Premiere Pro sometimes writes in the original file, and sometimes uses a sidecar?

In the Metadata panel, under the File section, Premiere Pro is capable of adding metadata to the original source media. It will do this if the file format supports metadata in the header, and the read/write privileges are enabled on the file. Common file formats like MOV typically support metadata in the file header, but there are some exceptions. For example, M2T has no place for common metadata. In these cases, or in cases where the files are locked read-only, Premiere Pro will create an XML file in the same location as the original clip, and store the File metadata there.

 

Question 2: I want a global way of turning on/off the linking of Clip and File Metadata. Is it possible?

As of Premiere Pro CC 2014.2, there is a setting for this. Look under Preferences -> Media -> Enable Clip and XMP Metadata Linking.

 

Question 3: You refer to XML files, but the software talks about XMP. What’s the difference?

XMP is a very specific form of XML, used for metadata for photos, images, and now video. It was originally developed by Adobe, but is now an ISO standard. More info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extensible_Metadata_Platform

 

December 17, 2012

On 48fps

I got the opportunity to see The Hobbit this week in mini-IMAX, 48fps 3D, and I think I’ve figured out what I both love and hate about this new format.

First, my take is that some of it works beautifully at 48fps. The scenes with Gollum make him look so incredibly real, I half expected him to come out at the end of the screen and answer questions from the audience. He’s actually there in every scene – no hint of being a digital character.

But, some of it doesn’t work well. Too often, there are scenes that pull you completely out of the moment. People have described it as “suddenly watching Masterpiece Theatre from 1978″ or “everything looks fake,” but no one can put their finger on why. I think I figured it out.

Camera motion.

I felt most immersed in the 3d and the movie when the camera was static. Simple cuts between shots allowed my brain to process what was going on, and made me feel like I was standing, watching the action unfold. And it looked beautiful. But, as soon as a jib arm or dolly began making my point-of-view float away, something deep in my brain called BS on everything. Suddenly, the magnificent Shire looked like nothing more than a well-crafted set. I suddenly knew I was looking through a camera lens on a jib arm at a set in a sound stage. That’s what people are trying to articulate here – the experience, made using film techniques developed for 24p, aren’t going to work the same in the hyper-real world of 48p. It’s going to need to develop a language and style all its own, and that’s going to take time. Just as 3D requires a language, and even B&W and Color require different tools and techniques, this new world of High Frame Rate (HFR) will require a re-learning of filmmaking techniques to make it go. And I think we need to start looking at how we move the camera. I think it necessitates a “reality” perspective on the scene. What we think of as “high production value” at 24p (cranes, jibs, dollys) work against us at 48p. And, we associate it with videotaped shows of the 1970’s because that’s where we first saw it.

We may also have to revisit set dressing, making the sets as absolutely “real” as possible. Maybe, maybe not.

BTW – the 3D on this film was flawless. Beautiful. You don’t even think about it.

I want to see the movie in 2D, 24p as well, just to compare and contrast. I’ve seen on Twitter that at 24p, there’s motion blur, and it looks like a “normal” movie.

December 13, 2012

4k presets for Adobe Media Encoder

I was asked the other day when Adobe will offer a 4k output from the H.264 encoder. The answer is simple – it’s there today!
Currently, the Media Encoder (and, by association, Premiere Pro) doesn’t ship with presets for 4k H.264 output, simply because it’s not a common enough format. But it’s reasonably simple to make your own.
I won’t go into all the details of H.264 encoding here, but the key thing to know is that the encoder settings include something called Profile and Level. These settings set limits for what type of file you can create.

I’ve created some sample presets for you to play with – these use a really small bit rate, so you may want to tinker with the quality some and make your own presets accordingly, but these will get you started.

Click here to get ‘em:
4k Presets

Install them in Adobe Media Encoder by going to the Preset Browser, and clicking the button to Import Presets:

September 23, 2012

Edit Original – a “long lost” feature for Premiere Pro / After Effects workflows

We have a tendency to talk a lot about the benefits of the Dynamic Link function between Premiere Pro and After Effects, and it is a crazy cool feature. The first time you drop a comp from AE right onto the Premiere Pro timeline, without rendering it – well, it’s awe-inspiring.

Dynamic Link works by creating a sort of “frame server” in the background, and it serves up the AE comp frames into the Premiere Pro timeline. It works great for stuff you’ve RAM Previewed, or for smaller comps, like animated text.

But what about longer comps? Dynamic Link starts to break down a bit when comps get really complicated, or are longer than a few seconds (actual time depends on resolution and amount of RAM.) Let’s say I have a 5 minute comp in AE. Can I expect that to RAM Preview? Probably not. And you shouldn’t expect it to play real-time in Premiere Pro either. So, what to do?

Well, you could render a proxy in AE, or you could render the comp in Premiere Pro. These methods are viable, but not always the fastest.

There’s actually a workflow designed for situations like this, and it’s been around for so long, we tend not to talk about it enough. It’s called the Edit Original workflow. It works like this:

Create your comp in AE. When you’ve roughed it out enough to drop it into your edit, add it to the Render Queue.

In the Output Module, make sure the box is checked to Include Project Link, as shown below:

Make sure this box is checked.

Render out the file.

Now, in Premiere Pro, import the rendered file, and begin editing. You can close AE at this point, and just focus on editorial.

If/when you need to make changes to the comp, right-click on it in the Premiere timeline, and choose Edit Original:

Edit Original.

Premiere Pro will automatically launch After Effects, load the project file and comp that the clip came from. It’ll even place a new item in the Render Queue with the same pathing and name as the original file, so that, if you want to just replace the old media with the new, it’ll happen automatically. That way, your Premiere Pro timeline will update with the new media automatically.

(If you prefer to keep the original render, and make a new render, just append the file name – add an “02” to the name of the item in the render queue. You will need to import the new media into Premiere Pro, and option-replace the older clip. Or, to compare versions, stack it over the original clip in the timeline, and toggle the new clip on/off.)

This is the recommended workflow when dealing with long comps in AE, and it’s a handy workflow to be aware of – no hunting for the project file, no hunting for the source media, etc. As great as Dynamic Link is, it’s good to understand this option as well.

Special Thanks to Jon Barrie, who reminded me of this functionality while on the CS6 Road show in Australia this summer. Check out Jon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jon_adobe

July 23, 2012

Melbourne Video Track Details

Hi all!

I’m really excited to be in Melbourne for the very first time! Tomorrow is going to be a fantastic day, with a full day’s breakout session around the Pro Video tools. If you’re joining us, don’t worry – you won’t miss Photoshop. We’ll be rejoining the main presentation for the Photoshop demos at the end of the day.

The Schedule looks like this:

8.30am – 9.00am Registration and Showcase Visit
9.00am – 9.45am Welcome and Main Keynote
9.45am – 9.50am Announcement of Video breakout + Exit
9.50am – 10.20am Morning tea break/Partner booth visit
10.20am – 12.00pm Video Breakout – Premiere Pro in-depth
12.00pm – 1.00pm Lunch*
1.00pm – 2.30pm – Production Premium; showcasing the whole workflow.
2.30pm – 3.00pm Coffee Break/ Partner booth visit
3.00pm – 3.30pm Rejoin: Photoshop Tips and Tricks
3.30pm – 4.00pm Top feature Shootout
4.00pm – 4.10pm Closing + Lucky Draw

Register here: http://adoberegoready.com/cs6roadshow/index.php?v=Melbourne

 

Sydney is coming up Thursday! More details here: http://www.adobe.com/au/special/cs6roadshow/?sdid=JYNQE&skwcid=TC|22732|adobe%20cs6%20roadshow||S|b|15120985864

July 23, 2012

New AAF Importer up on Labs.

At Adobe, we believe in the concept of open, unfettered workflows. This means that you should be able to pick and choose between a wide range of tools. While we always strive for creating a world-class series of applications, we also understand that real-world pipelines don’t always use one set of tools from one vendor.

For this reason, Adobe is always striving for better compatibility between our video tools and other applications using exchange formats. In CS6, we included something called Pro Importer AE with After Effects. This featured AAF and XML file import direct into After Effects CS6, with some nice options how to relink files.

In an effort to bring improved support in Premiere Pro CS6, Adobe now has an AAF Importer available for Premiere Pro 6.01, which has a number of improvements to the existing AAF support.

Release notes and downloader here:  http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/aafimport/

Currently, we need testing of this on the Mac platform, and this preview release is only available for Mac Users, but as always, keep checking Labs (and this space) for additional information in the future.

It’s VERY important that we get feedback from real-world users and understand your needs for Avid-Adobe workflows, so if you download this preview, please please please participate in the Labs Forum. The more we hear from you, the better we can make this interop technology work.

Labs forum here:  http://forums.adobe.com/community/labs/aafimport/

July 12, 2012

Testing, 1,2,3… Is this thing on?

I’ve been living in Singapore for over a year now, and still unpacking stuff out of boxes! This blog was hiding at the bottom of my shipping crate – glad to finally get back to jt, and start writing again. stay tuned – lots to say in the coming weeks.

September 21, 2011

ProRes Codecs now a free download

Apple has released the ProRes Codecs as a free download for Mac QuickTime here:

http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1396

No word on a compressor for Windows, however.

UPDATE: These codecs still require an Apple Pro app installed to work. Cheapest option is still to get Compressor or Motion from the App Store for about $50. If the codecs are installed, Adobe apps can output ProRes.

September 20, 2011

FREE Color grading tutorials and presets for Premiere Pro

Jarle Leirpoll just posted some wonderful new assets for Premiere Pro here:

http://premierepro.net/editing/color-grading-and-finishing-in-premiere-pro-cs5-5/

His presets provide simple drag-and-drop effects for common grading and finishing needs for your video. Well worth a download! And, since they use the GPU-accelerated effects, they are REAL-TIME on a system with a supported GPU. No waiting to render.

Highly recommended. Get them today.

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