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Real World Metadata usage in Premiere

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greg janza
Real World Metadata usage in Premiere
on Oct 2, 2018 at 8:51:45 pm

I recently wrapped up a large project in which in order to work efficiently in post I made use of the metadata options within Premiere. FCPX is well known as a program that thrives when metadata tagging is used. By contrast, in my day to day use of Premiere, I rarely have made use of metadata tagging. And in retrospect, it was a game changer overall.

This project was for a company that creates online employee training modules. Employees take an online course in which they are presented with a variety of real world workplace dramatic scenarios and with each decision that they make in their reaction to what they witness they are then presented with further scenarios as well as an "instructor" to comment on their decisions as well as to guide them throughout.

The production involved shooting the "instructor" commenting on and stepping a user through each of the nearly 200 scenes and decision points. In addition, there was a multitude of dramatic scenes and a variety of character reactions within each scene as a result of which decision the user selected. So when I began the editorial process I was given five days worth of raw media in which the only material that was shot in order was the instructor's scenes. Many of the dramatic scenes were shot out of order due to sharing the same locations as other scenes.

Final delivery would involve four types of timelines: Instructor intro into dramatic scene, dramatic scene into instructor outro, instructor only or dramatic scene only.

In approaching the organization of the project, there were only three relevant organizational items: scene number take number and best take. I initially thought in terms of folders for each scene and then all respective takes related to that scene contained in those folders. But I quickly realized that this approach would be highly inefficient and a waste of precious time.

So that's when I dove into the metadata options in Premiere and quickly learned that I could add two dynamic media columns of "Scene" and "Take" to every media file of the project. I also added a third column of "label" to indicate best takes by color coding them. There was very good slating on-set as well as detailed paper shot logs but the slate info and logs didn't make it into the media metadata. Therefore this was the labor intensive portion of the post experience. I went through each and every clip and added a scene number, take number and color coded the logged best takes.

Once this arduous process was completed, I could then start building the timelines. And it was at this point that the power of metadata tagging was revealed. Simple scene number searches in the Premiere bin would bring up that scene's takes as well as the best take. I could work extremely fast by having such easy access to the media. On average I was able to build out 20-30 timelines per day.

And when I coupled this approach with using master clip color effects I could really move through the post process quickly. I color corrected the first take of a scene, saved that master color effect as a preset effect and then dragged the preset onto all of the other takes of the scene. This became a huge time saver when I was asked to tweak the color of a few scenes. I would modify my master color effect on the first take for whichever scene, re-save it out as a preset, highlight all of the clips of the scene, control click and disable the master color effects and then drop the newly made preset onto those same highlighted clips. The benefit of this is that the new color would be populated onto any instance of these clips in any timeline.

I write this to encourage others to make use of the metadata functions in Premiere as well as master color effects but also to say that Premiere needs to improve the metadata engine overall. Text searching within Premiere should be easier. The search window sometimes becomes grayed out for no reason and therefore renders it unusable which requires a restart of Premiere.

In addition, there currently is a bug which limits batch changing metadata of any item to only two clips. This is a huge limitation to having users adopt the metadata function overall. Adobe, please fix this bug. And with a few improvements this can become the most powerful function within Premiere.

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