BCM to go with an Adobe / Avid combination for Post

After months of testing, playing, discussing, testing, playing, and then discussing some more, we’ve decided that Biscardi Creative Media will support both Adobe Premiere Pro and Avid Media Composer workflows moving forward.

What we found as we went through the testing is that there are positives and negatives to both systems so it’s really hard to just choose one.   As my editors got to playing with both systems it became clear that for certain workflows, one tool works better than the other.   So why limit ourselves to JUST one or the other.  Put both tools in the toolbox and utilize the most efficient tool for the job at hand.

With Adobe, it still feels too much like it was “designed by an engineer” and not by editors.   If you go with the Adobe keyboard presets, it’s not all that intuitive if you’re coming from FCP or Avid.  Switching to the FCP presets makes things a bit better, but things like track assignments, stereo vs. mono tracks and other functions throughout the app that should be simple, sometimes are a bit convoluted.   Such as not making it all that easy to adjust your audio before placing the material into the timeline, FCP was much easier with the multi-tabbed Source window layout.  The more you play with Premiere Pro, the more you “forget FCP” and adapt your workflow to the new tool.

The biggest hit against Premiere Pro now out on the forums is the sometimes tremendous render times at the end of a project.   This is mainly due to the fact that Premiere Pro can utilize just about ANY format natively, and in realtime during the edit.   The price you pay is that at the very end of the project, you must render the entire timeline and depending on the raw formats, timeline settings and other variables, it can sometimes add up to a significant render time that far exceeds anything we saw in FCP.   This can definitely be a scary prospect when you’ve got a tight deadline to get something out the door.

Now the absolute positive about Premiere IS the ability to edit in just about any format.  I had a timeline with RED 4k, DVCPro HD, HDV and a few others and the darn thing just played.  No need for conversion, no waiting, no special formulas.   This is fantastic for shorter projects and we’ve especially found it useful for creating sizzle reels and pitches for networks.   I recently cut a 6 minute sizzle reel using YouTube videos, H.264 HD files, ProRes and an MPEG-2 in about 4 hours flat because I didn’t have to convert anything.   I even had time to design a quick logo and make lower thirds.  That was fast.

Adobe has gotten a ton and I mean a TON of feedback from newly converted FCP users and hopefully they’ll be able to combine the legacy of the underlying horsepower of their system with making the system more editor centric and less engineer centric as the product line moves forward.  They have been truly open and honest about listening to the end users.   I expect great things of Premiere Pro over the next few years.

Avid Media Composer 6 just far exceeded anything we expected from the third party support perspective.  AJA Kona Boards – Work.   Small Tree Ethernet SAN (NAS) – Works.   Tape capture and mastering – Solid.

The biggest thing to understand with MC6 is that while the AMA features do work, they tend to bog down the system very quickly.  AMA is Avid’s attempt to edit non Avid footage natively.   You can bring the footage into the project and you can edit with DVCPro HD, ProRes, DSLR footage natively, sort of.   Start putting these clips into the timeline and your system can crawl to stop.

The obvious way around this is to simply convert everything to DNxHD.  We have found this to be an incredibly painless and efficient process with Avid so that’s what we’re doing with all of our Avid projects.   The conversion happens by simply “Importing” the footage.  No “Log and Transfer” type of operation necessary.  Just grab the clips and “Import” and Avid will convert all the footage based on your Import settings you establish in the preferences.  Quite simple actually and we find the process happens faster than Apple ProRes conversion process.

Now the only unknown is to see how well Avid can transition from a big box company to a software predominated company.  That’s a big change to the open architecture so we’ll have to see how they make that work.

Now the other big reason why we are making this transition to both Adobe and Avid at this time is the cross platform nature of both applications.   As we are at the point where we need to start upgrading our older Mac Pro systems, these software platforms give me the option to transition over to Windows if I should so choose.  I would never change over my Mac to Windows overnight as that would be silly, but simply have the Macs work alongside the Windows machines as we need to upgrade and replace.

So for us, being an independent Post Production facility, we have found no reason to simply settle on either Avid or Adobe at this time.   We’ll simply use the best tool for the job at hand.

4 Comments

  1. Hello Walter,

    We’ve been using Premiere Pro CS5.5 for about a month or so after ditching FCP7. We shoot primarily H.264 footage right now and will be getting a C300 in in a few weeks. Even though PPro will edit with H.264 we decided to go with our old workflow of converting to ProRes422 for edit (after trying to edit in H264 and getting some slowdowns). We have also experienced some major slowdown (compared to FCP7) with rendering while editing in ProRes422 – anything more than one layer of video.

    My question is: For a large project, do you convert all footage to one common denominator or edit everything in its native format?

    If you do convert, what codec do you use?

    It has been a bit maddening to have to render after every little adjustment in the edit or small tweak on a filter and scale, etc.

    I’m also curious about your Premiere to Davinci round trip workflow. How has that been working out for you?

    Any thoughts would be helpful and appreciated.

    Thanks,

    ~ Marc

    MacPro 2.66 Quad-Core Intel Xenon *** 8 Core coming soon!
    16GB of RAM
    OSX 10.6.8
    NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 ***Quadro 4000 coming soon!
    Caldigit HD Element 4TB RAID

    • Hey there,

      Sorry for the delayed response, been a bit tardy with the blog of late.

      My question is: For a large project, do you convert all footage to one common denominator or edit everything in its native format?

      We are going to continue with the process of converting everything to one format and most likely that will be DNxHD because we are going to be using both Avid and Adobe in our shop. That allows us to easily share footage between the two. And converting the footage makes for the fastest renders because as we like to say “you’re going to pay somewhere along the project.” Either converting everything up front or long renders at the end to converge everything at the end.

      It has been a bit maddening to have to render after every little adjustment in the edit or small tweak on a filter and scale, etc.

      Shouldn’t have to do that, even editing with H.264 natively. On our Mac Pros we can do a lot of editing, filtering, tweaking etc without the need to render. Even my iMac 27″ machine can do quite a bit before it bogs down for editing. Much more realtime in Premiere Pro than FCP for editing.

      I’m also curious about your Premiere to Davinci round trip workflow. How has that been working out for you?

      Have not honestly tried yet. Really looking forward to getting my hands on SpeedGrade though.

  2. Hey Walter,
    I too have switched from FCP to CS5.5 for about all the same reasons. And I know there is one function I’m betting that we would both like to see in PP…

    We should be able to toggle off/on the external monitors with a keyboard shortcut. In AE CS5.5 it is “Command Forward Slash”. In FCP it was “Command F12″. In PP, it doesn’t exist…

    Not all edits need to be performed on a 42″ plasma in front of the clients. It saves on energy. And for the older plasmas, it prevents screen burn-in.

    You have their ear – could I beg of you to ask them for this…

    Thanks for all the great research and reading either way,
    Lonnie

    • Proper monitoring, capturing and master to tape are three big things I’ve been after Adobe about. Along with much better audio controls We will have to wait to see what CS6 brings.

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