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Is Premiere Pro a better NLE for editing documentary films?

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Anna Wong
Is Premiere Pro a better NLE for editing documentary films?
on Jan 17, 2017 at 5:45:46 pm

Hi all,

I am going to edit a feature length documentary film with a few hundreds hours of footages in different formats. Which NLE (Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro X & Final Cut Pro 7) would you recommend in terms of its stability and convenience? I used to use Final Cut Pro 7. But it requires to transcode all the footages into one format like ProRes Proxy to edit. Does Premiere Pro have a simpler process or other advantages? Thanks a lot in advance.

Best regards,
Anna


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Is Premiere Pro a better NLE for editing documentary films?
on Jan 17, 2017 at 6:05:36 pm
Last Edited By Dave LaRonde on Jan 17, 2017 at 6:12:22 pm

Here's just one guy's thoughts:

1) DO NOT USE FCP 7!!!! Just don't do it! It's old! It hasn't been supported for something like six years! It can't run on new operating systems! You have to buy installation disks on Ebay! Avoid it as you would the Ebola virus!

2) Do you like the way you used to cut in FCP7? Do you want to learn a totally new way of working in edit timelines that doesn't make any sense to FCP7 editors? If the answers are "yes" and "no", stay away from FCPX and go with Premiere Pro -- it works a lot like FCP 7.

3) But don't go with the most recent version of Premiere Pro -- go with version CC 2015.4 or 2015.3.
People report that they are very stable. A LOT of people report that the newest version is not, and for bizarre, tough-to-diagnose reasons.
If you can ace the placement exam for IT Guy, you'd probably be good with the new version. If you're more about editing, go with the older version. There are also "Premiere Pro for FCP 7 Editors" training materials available to get you going quickly.

The usual admonitions about good organization of footage, not cutting an epic on a laptop, having lots of memory, fast processors, a video card that works well with the selected application and a boatload of fast,reliable storage on a fast connection still apply.

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Oliver Peters
Re: Is Premiere Pro a better NLE for editing documentary films?
on Jan 17, 2017 at 6:51:07 pm
Last Edited By Oliver Peters on Jan 17, 2017 at 6:54:14 pm

I would say either FCPX or Premiere Pro are fine. And I am perfectly willing to recommend the latest version of Premiere. I use it all the time on large productions. Does it crash? Yes, but not much more than previous versions.

The choice really breaks down between subscription versus ownership and between tracks and no tracks. Also don't forget Avid Media Composer. Still the most robust option and you can rent or own it.

In general, for the best results with either app, make sure your source media is properly transcoded and organized first, before bringing it into the NLE. This means a codec like DNxHD, ProRes or XDCAM and unique file names. I bring this up because you commented about transcoding for FCP7. Premiere can work with many native, but non-professional formats, like DSLR and smart phone camera files. But this is a terrible way to work, if you think you will ever need to interchange the project or media with other editors, other systems, color correction in Resolve or audio post in Pro Tools. So take the time to transcode.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Chris Wright
Re: Is Premiere Pro a better NLE for editing documentary films?
on Jan 17, 2017 at 8:35:49 pm

for speed, if you chose smart rendering codecs, the final output render time will be 4x-10x faster as premiere won't need to recompress any frames. any h.264 probally will be hard on your cpu to edit. any phone stuff will need to be transcoded to constant framerate with handbrake as premiere doesn't support variable framerate stuff. you can also edit full online as well with cineform, if you have fast hd. transcoding to a non-long GOP like a wavelet proxy will also reduce crashes as premiere won't have to reassemble delta frames while processing.


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Anna Wong
Re: Is Premiere Pro a better NLE for editing documentary films?
on Jan 18, 2017 at 2:29:03 am

Hi Chris,

Thanks very much! I do have footages shot with mobile phones.
Which codec would you recommend for unifying all footages in different formats? I have put this question to Oliver too.
Hope you can help too. Thank you!

Best regards,
Anna


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Is Premiere Pro a better NLE for editing documentary films?
on Jan 18, 2017 at 2:41:40 pm

[Anna Wong] "...I do have footages shot with mobile phones..."

Oh, now THERE'S a red flag! I really hope you got the apps for those phones that makes them shoot at a fixed frame rate... and the frame rate you need. I also hope you had a photographer who knew about this and shot accordingly.

Converting variable frame rate video from phones to fixed frame rate video -- which PP or any good NLE needs to have -- results is minor speed changes in the video. I hope this stuff doesn't have sync sound.

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Anna Wong
Re: Is Premiere Pro a better NLE for editing documentary films?
on Jan 18, 2017 at 2:19:30 am

Hi Oliver,

Thanks very much for your prompt reply. After listening to the advice from you and other friends, I will transcode all the footages. Most likely, I will use Premiere Pro CC. Which codec would you recommend? The footages are in wide range of formats. Some archival footages are still in DV tapes (Resolution 720x576) and some are interlaced video. The new footages are shot in HD with Sony A7II. Thanks in advance.

Best regards,
Anna


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Oliver Peters
Re: Is Premiere Pro a better NLE for editing documentary films?
on Jan 18, 2017 at 2:38:28 am

Since you are on a Mac (I think), I would recommend transcoding all this footage to ProRes.

You should also transcode to the dominant frame rate. This will slow down or speed up some footage, but that may be preferable to dropped frames/stutter caused by maintaining speed. For example, if your sequence is going to be 23.98fps, then footage that is 29.97 would be transcoded to 23.98, resulting in a slight slowdown. Of course, anything with sync sound is a different case and will need to stay at the proper speed.

I recommend buying EditReady for doing the transcoding/frame rate changes. Then use Better Rename to do any file renaming.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Anna Wong
Re: Is Premiere Pro a better NLE for editing documentary films?
on Jan 18, 2017 at 2:50:03 am

Hi Oliver,

Thank you so much for your detailed reply! Yes, I am using Mac. My timeline will be in HD 25 fps.
Besides, is resolution a problematic issue? It seems frame rate is more problematic after reading your replies.
As I mentioned before, some archival footages are in 720 x 576. Should I keep it in 720 x 576?

Many thanks,
Anna


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Oliver Peters
Re: Is Premiere Pro a better NLE for editing documentary films?
on Jan 18, 2017 at 3:07:52 am

[Anna Wong] "My timeline will be in HD 25 fps.
Besides, is resolution a problematic issue? It seems frame rate is more problematic after reading your replies."


It sounds like you are in a PAL country (25fps), so my guess is that most of your footage will be OK. The oddball footage might be the phone footage.

[Anna Wong] "Should I keep it in 720 x 576?"

Since you want it to be HD, you'll need to blow it up ('scale to frame size' in Premiere). However, it's 4x3 in a 16x9 frame, so you will need to decide on how to handle the left and right edges. Maybe a graphic background. Some folks use the same image, blow it up a lot and blur it as a background. That's a design issue. In any case, if you blow it up, the top and bottom will be at the frame top and bottom and you will preserve the aspect ratio without stretching it horizontally. Blowing it up so that the left and right edges match will probably degrade the image too much.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Anna Wong
Re: Is Premiere Pro a better NLE for editing documentary films?
on Jan 19, 2017 at 6:35:10 am

Thanks Oliver. Yes, I am from 25p country. Safer.


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Chris Wright
Re: Is Premiere Pro a better NLE for editing documentary films?
on Jan 18, 2017 at 3:01:31 am

you'll need to take the handbraked video that is h.264 at RF 18 and transcode to prores 422hq. you can set to frame size vs scale to frame size. which one do you use video.






don't forget, any 23.976 stuff premiere will auto 3:2 pulldown to 29.97 for you! premiere can work well with 25 and 50, 23.976 and 29.97, 30 and 60; and 24 to 25 is a standard 4% change not too noticeable, especially with audio pitch correction.

obviously, you've figured it out, they are multiples and don't create massive judder. If you do get judder, premiere now has native optical flow built in.
https://blogs.adobe.com/creativecloud/optical-flow-time-remapping-tips-tric...


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Anna Wong
Re: Is Premiere Pro a better NLE for editing documentary films?
on Jan 19, 2017 at 6:34:04 am

Thanks Chris. I will study more! : )


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Matthew Gordon
Re: Is Premiere Pro a better NLE for editing documentary films?
on Feb 17, 2017 at 8:33:32 pm

Oliver, can you describe your workflow for editing long-form docs in Premier?

The last version of Premier I worked with was CS6 (on a 2012 Mac Pro with plenty of RAM). At the time, I found it to be very unstable and slow when working on large, complex projects (over 100 hours of footage and with lots of folders, clips, and sequences).

I've been using Avid Media Composer almost exclusively for the past few years and am contemplating switching to Adobe Premier CC, but I'm worried I will still run into the same problems.

I had these same problems with Final Cut Pro 7, but I got around them by creating new projects for each scene or sequence. And since FCP 7 open multiple projects at the same time, it was a great work around.

This multi-project workflow never worked for me in premier since I couldn't open projects at the same time (I know there are workarounds, like importing sequences and clips from other projects, but it just got too complicated).

So the three main questions I have are these:

1) Can premier cc now handle very large and complicated projects without bogging down?

2) If premier DOES still have problems with large complicated projects, what workarounds do you use in order to edit longform docs?

3) Have you had success switching a project from Avid to Premier CC?

I may just stay with Avid, but if Premier has continued to improve and can now handle big sprawling projects, it certainly would be nice to be able to more easily interface with After Affects, Photoshop, etc.

Thanks!
Matt


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Oliver Peters
Re: Is Premiere Pro a better NLE for editing documentary films?
on Feb 17, 2017 at 9:16:12 pm

Hmm... I can't say I've gone through anything that large. Probably the largest to date was around 60 hours of footage and that was with FCP7. No real issues there. However a lot of Premiere jobs with long timelines. Stability with Premiere depends on tons of variables, but the more convoluted your project gets, the more risky it becomes. Media Composer is probably still more stable overall. But here are some pointers.

Transcode all oddball media, like MP4 files into ProRes before you work with them. The transcoded files are your "camera masters". Canon C300 files or Panasonic P2 are fine as is. Make sure you have unique files names on all of them. Keep an organized folder structure both on your hard drive and within the project. Use Media Browser within Premiere to import all files. Do not rename files.

Work in segments and do not keep tons of sequences. There's no problem in doing a "save as" to create a duplicate of your project and delete old rough cuts in the new copy, just to keep your project streamlined.

If you want to break the doc into reels, you can create individual projects for each reel and then import the final sequence into a "master project". This is the way Premiere deals with multiple projects. To do that you have to use Media Browser. It can access sequence files (and any other files) from within another Premiere Pro project file. Drill into each project and import the sequence for that reel. It will then import this timeline and all associated media. This timeline in the "master project" will be independent of the original, so changes made in either do not "ripple" changes between projects. This is more or less a lot like the "open bin" command in Media Composer for accessing bins from other Avid projects.

For example, I have an ongoing corporate client where are lot of the videos use interviews and these are mixed and matched in a variety of different videos. I have one Premiere Pro project just for assembling the interview clips. There I group into multicam clips and do my initial cutdowns. I go no further in that project. Then when I start a different video, I can import any of the interview selects sequences from the main interview project into the new project. I get the timelines I want as a starting point. Since everything is on the same drive, there's no media being copied, since Premiere is smart enough to know the links.

Does that help?

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Matthew Gordon
Re: Is Premiere Pro a better NLE for editing documentary films?
on Feb 17, 2017 at 9:27:29 pm

Yes, this does help! It definitely matches up with what some other long-form doc editors have said. When projects get long and complex, Avid seems to handle it better. Which means that Avid is still probably my best bet for long-form work.

That said, your Premier tips will come in handy for smaller jobs in Premier.

Thanks!
Matt


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Anna Wong
Re: Is Premiere Pro a better NLE for editing documentary films?
on Jan 18, 2017 at 2:37:05 am

Hi Dave,

Thanks for your advices! Yes, I don't have much good memory with FCP7 too.
You mentioned to use Premiere Pro CC 2015.4 or 2015.3. But how to reinstall the previous versions?
Thank you!

Best regards,
Anna


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Bill Davis
Re: Is Premiere Pro a better NLE for editing documentary films?
on Feb 18, 2017 at 8:05:27 pm

[Anna Wong] "Hi Dave,

Thanks for your advices! Yes, I don't have much good memory with FCP7 too.
You mentioned to use Premiere Pro CC 2015.4 or 2015.3. But how to reinstall the previous versions?
Thank you!

Best regards,
Anna"


Unfortunate you asked about this in a Premiere Pro forum.

If you not wedded to the idea of tracked timelines, you could be flying through things in FCP X with some half-decent training.

It has NO issues with iPhone footage or any other mixed media. Generally, everything you need for normal transcoding is already built into X.

It RARELY crashes at all on decent hardware - and when it does you typically lost NOTHING of your work to that point, as it gracefully re-launches to exactly where you left off.

This is a Premiere Pro forum. So that's a consideration. Basically if you ask how it's best to prepare fish in a steakhouse, the answer is typically going to be "grill it". It's a perfectly fine response. But it's conditioned on what the restaurant has the MOST experience with. It's not the full range of possibilities - just what most of the cooks in THAT restaurant are used to doing.

Just sayin'



Good luck with your project.

Creator of XinTwo - http://www.xintwo.com
The shortest path to FCP X mastery.


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Peter Garaway
Re: Is Premiere Pro a better NLE for editing documentary films?
on Feb 22, 2017 at 5:18:26 pm

Hi Anna,

Obviously I may be a little bias on what application I think is the best 😉 but of course you should have many tools in the belt and choose which one is best for the job at hand.

I thought I'd point you to a few helpful/inspiring sources of people that are using Premiere Pro in longform film making.

If you need any help along the way please feel free to reach out.

Great tips and workflow suggestions
http://vashivisuals.com/category/editing/

Premiere Pro customer stories:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLD8AMy73ZVxWIJEetrniROpS4x6qbaqeW

https://blogs.adobe.com/creativecloud/category/digital-video-audio/page/2/

Peter Garaway
Adobe
Premiere Pro


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Doug O'Connor
Re: Is Premiere Pro a better NLE for editing documentary films?
on Feb 27, 2017 at 4:53:29 pm

Anna,

Since this is a popular topic, I will jump in as well.
I am a doc editor and have spent most of my career on an Avid.
Up until recently, I considered Avid the best choice for ling form doc.
I have always found it better than FCP, which I am sure many will disagree with but having cut on both I just liked Avid better.

I am currently starting my third long form doc in Premiere.
I do not think I will go back to Avid. Definitely, do not cut in FCP as some have already voiced. It has aged out.
and save FCPX for shorter projects I think- myself, I am just ignoring it.
Premiere is a pretty remarkable program, and I think after the past few films, I am not looking back.

As for version, I am working in both 2015 and 2017. I have had no real issues in 2017, for what it's worth...

Good luck.

Doug O'Connor
Z Post


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