One of the questions asked the most is: Should my project settings correspond to my final delivery or the source footage?
E.g., if you’ve shot 1080p, but want to deliver the file as 720p, should your project be in 1080p or 720p? The same can be said of frame rates, field rates, interlacing, color and so on.
The answer is simple. Your project should correspond to your source footage.
Sometimes, you have more than one kind of source footage (different resolutions, frame rates, codecs, whatever). In that case, I recommend the following methodology:
- Choose the A-cam and use its settings. If you don’t have that information, then
- Choose the ‘most important’ footage (points of view) and use that information. If you can’t tell, then
- Choose the footage which has a clear lead in overall footage time. E.g., if you have 5 hours of footage, and Camera 1 has shot 2/3rds of it, then choose that. If you still can’t make a decision, then
- Choose the footage that has the best resolution and/or color. This is tricky, SO when in doubt, choose the last option:
- Choose the delivery format and get it over with.
99% of the time, you should be able to get your answer within the first two points above.
Presets or Custom Settings?
Now that you’ve established the source settings for your project, you can choose them from the menu presented as soon as you click New Project.
The desired project setting will be found among the presets presented to you. If you’re having trouble with it, don’t select anything. Hit ‘Cancel’, and import your footage as explained in Part One.
Once your footage is in the Project Window, right click (for Windows) or go to File>New> and choose New Sequence from Clip. A new sequence will be formed, with the settings of your source footage. It couldn’t be simpler.
However, there are instances in which you might have ‘odd’ source formats, like vertical video, for example:
You might have shot video vertically, or it might be a still image sequence or whatever. Adobe allows you to choose your aspect ratio, no matter what.
The maximum frame rate allowed is 60p, and the minimum is 10 fps. If you’re shooting high-speed, then you will need to conform to one of the ‘established’ frame rates.
The size of the video preview is important. The higher the resolution, the more the rendering. Editing does not need maximum color or render quality. However, there are instances where it is important. E.g., if you’re finishing and editing on the go, with a reference monitor connected to your system, you might want to maximize color bit depth. Adobe Premiere Pro supports a maximum of 10-bit color depth per pixel.
It supports 16-bit image files, but can’t display more than 10-bits. Why should it, since there are very few monitors on this planet that can display more than 10-bit?
What size to choose? Simple. Choose the lowest size that doesn’t interfere with your creativity. As far as codecs are concerned, keep the defaults unless you have strong reason not to.
Why is this setting important? If you select a lower resolution than your source footage, and you select a playback resolution of 1/2, say, then your actual resolution is less than 1/2. In Adobe’s on words:
If your previews are rendered at a resolution below the sequence resolution, the playback resolution is actually a fraction of the preview resolution. For example, you can set your preview files to render at 1/2 the sequence frame size (1/2 resolution) and your playback resolution to 1/2 resolution. The rendered previews play back at 1/4 of original resolution (assuming that the resolution of the original media matched the sequence resolution).
If you don’t want the headache, then choose a preview resolution similar to your source footage format. However, make sure your computer can handle the additional rendering.
One oddity you’ll notice is that the video preview doesn’t give you the option of oddball aspect ratios. This is probably because they are based on established codecs and formats.
The Project File
Next, you will come across this box:
If you have an Adobe-certified GPU, you will have the option of ‘Mercury Playback Engine Hardware’. Otherwise, you’ll have to do with the ‘Software’ version. If you have a choice, always choose the hardware version.
Next you’ll need to choose where your project file will be saved.
A project file will have the extension: *.prproj. Where should you save your projects? Good question. Here’s Adobe’s answer:
Note: Whenever possible, specify a location and name that you won’t have to change later. By default, Premiere Pro stores rendered previews, conformed audio files, and captured audio and video in the folder where you store the project. Moving a project file later may require moving its associated files as well.
I used to save these files in my C Drive (where the OS and Premiere Pro resided). After a while, I realized there were too many project files and it was difficult to tell which was which. The second choice is the Scratch Drive (or Cache/Page/Temporary Drive). For similar reasons, this is to be avoided.
Obviously, I won’t be writing project files on the source footage drive, which only leaves one last drive – the Export Drive. This is the drive that is in charge of receiving my final master when rendered. It makes sense, each master is accompanied by its project files, which makes backup and archival easier.
Regarding naming of projects, everyone has their own style. I prefer to name projects in this format:
where NAME is the name, ddmmyy is the date the project was created, and A and B are numbers that designate the saved version. The file name might look like TranscodersTheReturnofHDV120313v1.2.
After I make changes, I always Save As… to a different version (You can also use Save a Copy…).
Generally, I try to at least keep the last five versions. Sometimes, project files get corrupted, so this is ALWAYS a good idea, no matter how small your project. I will also backup my work daily. There is no excuse if you shirk this responsibility.
The Scratch Disk
The second tab in the above box specifies which drive to use as a Scratch drive. This is where Adobe Premiere Pro stores all the rendered material for temporary usage. This drive is entirely separate and needs to have excellent read and write speeds (Refer to the layout shown in Part One). Ideally, this drive should be a Pro or Enterprise level SSD with proven ability.
Note: By default, the scratch disk is assigned to the drive the project files rest in. Don’t forget to change it if you have an additional drive. Even a USB thumb/portable drive might offer better performance. If you don’t like things sticking out, use an SD/CF card, but these tend to be slower.
The size of the Scratch drive is important. The larger your data rate, the bigger this drive needs to be. I think 128 GB for anything less than 150 MB/s is all right. If you need to go over this and need real-time performance, you might want to consider a RAID 0 system as a scratch drive.
Don’t forget that your preview settings will also play a role here.
For Laptop Users: If you’re stuck on a laptop, try to get one with an SSD, or two physical drives. If it’s just one drive, use it for the OS and Apps. Connect your source footage drive via USB 3.0, Thunderbolt or eSATA. Use another port to connect a high quality thumb drive (ideally 64 GB or more) for your scratch disk. If that’s too much trouble use an SD/CF Card. I recommend Sandisk Extreme. When it’s time for final render, you can connect a third drive. Work in such a way that if your laptop crashed RIGHT NOW, all the important files are in external drives that can be taken to a different machine immediately. You’ll also have backups on your OS drive.
In Part Three, we’ll look at how to import each major codec type. We’ll also look at some common errors and glitches, and how to troubleshoot them.