In Part One we looked at XMP and the Adobe Prelude workspace.
In this part we’ll look at the ingesting and logging workflow. The goal is to discover whether Prelude fits in with the kind of footage you are dealing with on a regular basis.
Supported Media Files
We saw in Part One that XMP isn’t supported by RAW formats (among others, we’ll soon see), but can still deal with them (not with all features, though) using the .XMP sidecar file. However, Prelude cannot make that work:
If you ingest RED or ARRIRAW files without transcoding them, you can still add them to rough cuts. You cannot, however, save any markers or metadata associated with such media.
Here are some limitations:
- Prelude doesn’t do stills/images or pure audio codecs.
- There is no support for logging RAW formats on set, including CinemaDNG.
- There is no OnLocation (but it supports opening OnLocation projects)!
- There is no support for logging raw MTS streams.
Some of these limitations are quite serious, and in my opinion, undermine its utility. The positives:
- Prelude can playback all formats supported by Premiere Pro*, so you’re not totally left in the dark.
- Support for AVCHD and H.264.
- Support for Canon XF (MXF) and XDCAM (MXF and MP4).
- Support for P2 media.
- Support for DPX, TIFF and JPEG.
- Support for AVI and MOV wrappers.
- Support for ingesting R3D only*.
*The manual claims to support ARRIRAW, but the software doesn’t list it as a supported format, and I haven’t been able to open it either. I have to conclude that Prelude cannot open or ingest ARRIRAW. I couldn’t open CinemaDNG or XAVC (not supported in Premiere Pro) either. R3D works.
I have a simple question to Adobe: If I can’t log RAW files, then what’s the point of ingesting them in Prelude? The only other functionalities it offers are transcoding and rough cuts, both of which can be done better with Premiere Pro.
However, my biggest gripe with Prelude is the fact that it doesn’t have OnLocation’s scope-ability. Today, many professionals use monitors to double-check footage, but if I’m forced to carry a laptop on set to ingest footage, I might as well have the functionality. In my view, this is a blunder.
If you work in (or aspire to work in) a RAW format, then forget Prelude. It’s not worth the learning curve. However, if you’re in a broadcast or HD-centric workflow, Prelude is definitely worth a serious look.
As explained in Part One, you click the Ingest button, and get the following popup:
Supported files can be viewed as thumbnails. If you try to ingest an unsupported format, you will get an error. You can view error logs in the ‘Events’ window, available at Window > Events. The error I got earlier with Arriraw were XMP import errors.
Similar to Premiere Pro, you can scrub through your thumbnails by just moving your mouse pointer over them. If you don’t want to ingest the entire clip, you can scrub to (or use JKL) an in point and hit ‘I‘ on your keyboard. To mark the out point, hit ‘O‘. This is called a partial ingest. This is what it looks like:
Important: Partial ingest works only if you transcode your footage.
You can do this with clips in various folders by checking each one. Hit ‘Ingest’ and go from there. Before you do, remember that Prelude gives you two cool options for:
- Duplicating or Backing Up
Prelude calls these ‘Transfer Options’:
If you want to create a copy of your clip check the Transfer Clips to Destination box. By default you already have a Primary Destination. It has the following parts:
- You choose the main folder where you want to make a copy.
- Check Add Subfolder if you want to create a folder in the primary folder for your copied files.
- Transcode (we’ll deal with this next).
- Verify – to check the integrity of your copy. You can do a basic ‘file size comparison’ or a more thorough ‘bit-by-bit comparison’. The latter will take more time. This feature is cool because you don’t need sophisticated third-party checksum software while creating duplicates. This is a checksum operation.
If you want to make further copies at the same time, you click ‘Add Destination‘, and you get another box named ‘Destination 01’. Refer to the above image. It, too, allows you the choice of copying or transcoding, but without the verification option. If you’ve created an additional destination but decide against it, click the ‘Remove‘ button.
I suggest you keep the ‘Events’ window open during this process, because it tells you exactly what is happening.
Make sure you have Adobe Media Encoder open. If you don’t, Prelude will open it when it needs to transcode.
Once you check the Transcode box, the following will be available to you:
- Select the file format you want to transcode to.
- You will get options to create proxies, dailies, etc. There are no custom preferences, only fixed presets. To add your own presets, you need to first create and save them in Adobe Media Encoder.
- Select Concatenate if you want to merge several clips into one big file – this works with Premiere Pro only.
- Only the Primary Destination transcode appears in the Project Panel upon ingest.
If you’ve used the transcode option, and have selected In and Out points, you’ll be ingesting the trimmed version (you’ve just performed logging). Otherwise, you’ll always ingest the full native or transcoded file.
If you’ve selected quite a number of clips, the transcode might take some time. Progress is shown both on Prelude (bottom left corner) and Adobe Media Encoder.
The transfer feature is simply brilliant. In a single stroke you can:
- Create dailies
- Create proxies
- Create intermediary codecs for editing
- Create backups and verify them with a checksum algorithm
- Log your footage (snip off the ends)
Organization of Media
The purpose of Prelude is to help reduce clutter in your editing workflow. You could train an assistant or data wrangler to use Prelude on set, or an assistant editor to ingest and log footage with it in post. I feel the set is where Prelude will truly shine.
Most cameras create folders of their own for clips, and these will need to remain as-is through the entire workflow. Prelude attempts to clear the confusion by showing you only what is relevant, which is your media. It is important to understand that unless you know Prelude very well, and have tested your workflow thoroughly, things will appear confusing. Don’t jump head first into a project without practicing and understanding the entire chain of events.
It’s easy to go haywire making duplicates and transcoding to create proxies for editing, but you need to first list out the media structure, folder names, sub folder names, etc. If you don’t do this, don’t blame Prelude or Premiere Pro for your woes.
Generally, I like to organize media based on either:
- Camera (for a multi-camera setup), or
There are no hard and fast rules. If your editing team prefers a different organization structure, be prepared to follow that. E.g., I remember footage date-wise, because I’ve been through the ordeal of shooting it. An editor hasn’t shared the experience, and the date-wise organization has no relevance to his or her work.
What about organizing files by scene? It seems the ideal way, but it’s hell on a shoot. Projects are rarely shot in sequence, so it’s easy for someone to make a mistake. Scenes also undergo changes during production, and new scenes are added. What I’m trying to convey is: Don’t take even a ‘simple’ task as dumping clips into folders lightly. Even if you’re your own editor, it is much better to learn a proper organizational structure than be lazy.
When Prelude transcodes, it keeps the same file name for later reference. If you move these files around from their folders, Prelude has the ability to relink to them. But the functionality stops there. If you change names, Prelude can’t get them back.
To relink files:
- Click the file or files (select all of them).
- Right-click and choose Relink.
- Navigate through the folders and choose the file. All chosen files are relinked if they are in this folder.
- Click ‘Open‘.
In Part One we looked at three Marker windows:
- Marker Type
- Marker Inspector
- Marker List View
What is a Marker? Think of a marker as a temporary tattoo. You could ‘brand’ your clip with any kind of tattoo (marker), and it sticks. The Prelude tattoo parlor has the following marker-types:
|Subclip||Creating In and Out points – Logging|
|Comment||Add a comment or note|
|Flash Cue Point||Trigger external events such as synchronizing graphics, providing navigation options. and loading other video files.|
|Web Link||Add a URL|
|Chapter||Chapter Markers for Premiere Pro or Encore|
|Speech Transcription||To edit speech-to-text content created in software such as AdobePremiere Pro, or to manually add such content.|
For now, Flash Cue Point, Web Link, Chapter and Speech transcription can be ignored. The first two are for interactive web videos. Chapter is okay if you have a DVD or Encore-specific workflow. while the last is for those who have too much time on their hands. I will be dealing only with the two most important:
- Subclip – this is what Logging is all about
- Comment – if your editor has time to read your ramblings
Before moving on, let me recap: Marking is one way of appending metadata on to a file or video or clip, via markers. Adobe Prelude uses XMP to do this. Such metadata can also be called Dynamic metadata.
On the other hand, there is also Static metadata – which is the metadata originally as per the file format. Static metadata is expected to be permanent – they are born and die with the file. In the real world, though, metadata, static or dynamic, can be changed, so the definitions are fuzzy at best. I suspect these terms have been carried over from ActionScript (programming language Adobe Flash uses, and which is the basis for Prelude customization).
You can also add or change ‘static’ metadata using the Metadata window:
- Window > Metadata
- New popup opens, where you can change whatever Prelude allows you to change.
- There you go – what Prelude calls ‘static’ can also be changed.
Let’s end this part with a word on XMP. Quicktime (MOV) and AVI support XMP directly, and the metadata is embeded in the file itself. Others, like MXF, don’t support XMP directly. For these files, you get a .XMP sidecar stored alongside the file in the same folder. RAW footage has no luck at all.
In Part Three we’ll look at logging and rough editing.