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Self-assembling timelines

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Jonathan Bierman
Self-assembling timelines
on Dec 1, 2016 at 9:10:15 am

I have an idea for a workflow enhancement at my place work and I'm trying to figure out how to implement it, I was hoping someone could give me some pointers.

Background: I am a compositor for an animation studio. Animations are made in Adobe CC Animate and I export individual characters and moving props as .swf files. The backgrounds department supply me with layered Photoshop .psd files. Shot by shot, I sandwich these together, add effects, blurs, blending, camera moves and so on, and render an output that adheres to a naming convention, eg:

DOM207_A037_V02_JB.mov
[show and episode]_[shot number]_[version]_[compositor name]

What I would like to be able to do is create an editing timeline in Premiere which automatically assembles the most current, up to date version of each episode based on querying the folder hierarchy and names of files inside a particular folder on the server. Every shot is ordered, so A_037 is the 37th shot in the episode's sequence, V02 tells us this file is the second render of that shot (after retakes/revisions), and the initials at the end says who comped the shot. The timeline would self-assemble by looking to see whether a particular shot number exists, if so inserting it into the timeline, at the appropriate timecode, and also swapping out each shot in the timeline for the latest version as new ones arrive.

Is this a job for XML perhaps? Or are there features in Adobe CC that can help me do this?


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Ricardo Marty
Re: Self-assembling timelines
on Dec 19, 2016 at 3:43:24 pm

You're looking to become unemployed.

Richard Marty


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Jonathan Bierman
Re: Self-assembling timelines
on Dec 19, 2016 at 7:09:55 pm

Excuse me? What do you mean by that exactly?


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Blaise Douros
Re: Self-assembling timelines
on Dec 28, 2016 at 6:11:12 pm

Ricardo was making a joke that it would put your editor out of a job--he didn't read the part where you said you were a compositor.

Your idea is good, but the problem is that Premiere relies on file names to link media. So every time you add a new version of a shot, Premiere would have to know to look for it. And Premiere doesn't know that. So you have to do something sneaky.

The only way to do this would be to build a template Premiere project with dummy files on your server, and you need to set it up with all dummy files present at the beginning of the process. Animators would replace the dummy file with the current version, so that when Premiere looks at that file, the name remains constant but the data inside the file changes. So that means that you need to have a naming convention that works like this:

[show and episode]_[shot number]_CURRENTVERSION.mov

Then, previous versions would need to be renamed to Rev1, Rev2, etc. as they were replaced. You probably can't track the compositor's name in the file structure, because unless you know six months in advance which compositor is going to work on which shot, you won't be able to build a dummy file structure that accurately reflects who is working on what.

Does this make sense? Premiere doesn't have any ability to go and autonomously search for new file versions--but if you can fool it by putting new data in a filename that Premiere already has imported, you can have it update this way.

You also won't be able to build a timeline that automatically scales with varying lengths of shots in each project--since shot 2 in project 1 and shot 2 in project 2 are going to be different lengths, Premiere won't be able to scale them on the timeline. Instead, you'd leave them in the bins, select all the media, and create a new timeline each time you opened the project to check the completeness of the project.

So there you go. There's a way to do it, but it's a bit clunky, and will require a compromise on your media organization system.


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