As an editor, I love cutting in LightWorks; it’s the fastest, most distraction-free editing environment I’ve come across*. I want to be able to focus on story and content and know that when I’m done, I can easily hand off my edit for finishing without having to worry about platform. Adobe Premiere has proven itself very flexible in format support; so it seemed like a natural gateway to the other Adobe tools.
When starting this project, we knew we were going to use After Effects to embellish or augment a number of shots (43 to be precise). Premiere integrates really well with After Effects and Photoshop; and the real-time composition sharing really appealed to me. Since “Hung My Halo” is a small music video project (only around 32 minutes of footage), I thought it would be a good test-run into how CS5.5 could practically be used in a workflow for a larger film.
The video was filmed on the Canon 7D. I embedded reel and timecode metadata using a fantastic piece of software called QT Change.
Next, I used Adobe Bridge to rename the clips, as the automation tool is frankly amazing (Though I do wish the application would also modify the names of the THM files). My approach to renaming these files was by reel and clip number. This is consistently the easiest method on the media management side. I typically work with syncs and ghost (aka subclips) in LWKS that get renamed.
Next we imported the footage into LWKS using the transcode method, with DVCProHD as our target resolution. Inside the edit we made good use of the Sync-Bins, being able to freely add clips to a bin when we found sync in the b-roll was a huge time saver.
GOING TO PREMIERE
We fist tried exporting an EDL from LightWorks as a method of getting footage into Premiere. This caused a number of issues – the largest being that Premiere groups EDL shots together and seemed to only want to relink via tape-capture.
Our second route was, and admittedly what we should have tried first, was exporting an AAF out of LightWorks. LWKS automatically traces the edit (meaning that it removes all subclip and sync names and creates an edit that references the name of the original media file), and this opens perfectly in Premiere.
This is where we hit a bit of a issue. The exported AAF attempts to reference the original “cookie” materials generated by the LWKS transcode. When attempting to relink to those QuickTime files, Premiere crashed or would report that the connections could not be made.
We were able to get the files to connect manually by pointing to the original H.264 files, but this process was tedious and made working with effects sluggish. I’m not sure if this Relink issue was a problem of compatibility of the media produced by LightWorks or issues in Premiere’s ability to relink files. In a more perfect world, had we had more time in our schedule, I would have transcoded the H.264 to a better format.
NOTE: I did in fact, attempt to transcode the files using Adobe Media Encoder, and MPEG Streamclip. AME produced clips with wildly incorrect timecode while MPEG Streamclip produced clips with no metadata at all. We didn’t have time to properly work out a solution to this problem so we went ahead with the H.264 files.
For what it’s worth, I was seriously impressed at the speed with which both Premiere and After Effects handled the H.264 files. Using CS5.5 did end up saving a huge amount of time organizing the effects shots. I was able to quickly create an After Effects composition, do the required work and show it to my partner.
The color correction tools natively found in Premiere are not great. For this project a majority of the color correction was about applying a specific LUT and basic shot-to-shot correction. I was able to get by using Red Giant Colorista Free and LUT Buddy. I find the color correction tools in LightWorks much more powerful and more aptly designed for this sort of work. That being said, I know there is a lot of buzz around the fact that Adobe has included Speed Grade in CS6. I’m excited to try this workflow again with the more advanced grading tools.
The final export was smooth, as Media Encoder was able to quickly create master copies and a handful of internet formats we needed.
There is a future in this sort of workflow, and it’s important that LWKS is able to integrate well with tools like Adobe CS. Since Premiere is already so tightly integrated into all the important parts of CS, it seems the logical focus should be on improving the way LWKS can exchange edits with Premiere.
I would like to be able to understand the issue with Premiere’s inability to reconnect to media that was created by LWKS. In this situation (where we are cutting at online quality) it could have saved a couple of hours of work dealing with manual relinking issues. Another option might be to have an option in the LWKS AAF export to have an option to “relink to media with same file name as clip.”
I’m not sure if I would use this exact workflow for future long form projects. I will most likely return to a more traditional way of working between LWKS and AFX, at least until there is a more direct solution for the relinking issue. That being said, I will certainly be keeping an eye on future possibilities, and look forward to tinkering with new ways to streamline an open workflow.