10 Things Adobe Could Do Immediately To Make ‘Prelude’ 10 Times As Good

Adobe Prelude is an exciting new product, and it’s good to see Adobe building a standalone application dedicated to managing video metadata effectively. Let’s hope this product becomes a centerpiece and a major part of the Adobe video editing experience in the years to come, and is robustly developed for the professional editor, even as it continues to be easily accessible to producers and generalists alike.

In the meantime, here are 10 things Adobe could do (virtually overnight) to make Prelude 10 times better:

1. Thumbnail and hover scrub after ingest.
In Adobe Prelude, ingest is the only place you can see thumbnails or use hover scrub. Which is really too bad, because thumbnail and hover scrub are useful for more than just ingest, and critical for most rough cut B-roll editing. For example, say I’ve ingested 2 hours of B-roll; lots of clips of varying lengths, all imported at the same time from a single shoot. Now, I’m going to start logging all my media. In the current version of Prelude, you can only view a giant list of files, where just a moment before when you were ingesting, you were able to hover scrub each piece of media and see a thumbnail of it. Why can’t I see thumbnails of the media I’ve just imported so that I can decide where I want to start or what I want to do next? Even more importantly, suppose I’m building a rough cut of B-roll and I’ve got lots of shots of a single type of subject, with varying names for subclips. If I’m cutting B-roll I want to look at thumbnails and use hover scrub to build out that rough cut, not look at a list clips and try to remember what each item looks like. The list view, is useful for cutting an interview where I want to look at a list of clips with clip names (not thumbnails) - but for cutting anything visual, a list is often inferior to thumbnails and hover scrub, which already exist in the Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 Project panel, so it’s inexplicable that they aren’t in the Prelude project panel. Thumbnail and hover scrub in the Prelude project panel are critical to making Prelude a useful tool.


Hover scrub and thumbnail preview exist only at the point of ingest in Prelude, even though they are critical for assembling a rough cut, and are already available in Premiere as viewing options in the project panel.


2. Option for subclips to not truncate media.
Currently, when you send subclips to Adobe Premiere, the ‘In’ and ‘Out’ points marked in Prelude are “hard ins” and “hard outs” - without handles of any kind. This is problematic if your assistant trimmed a bit too close, or if the editor wants to get confirmation that a shot really is as short as it was clipped, or perhaps even extend a shot beyond the original subclip length. Once the subclips have been sent to Premiere, there is no way to do this, except to match frame to the original media and reinsert it to the timeline which is very cumbersome for a small edit. A simple preferences option in Prelude like ‘Truncate subclips on export’ which could be ‘unchecked’ would enable the user to send subclips to Premiere Pro that could be extended beyond the original subclip length. Subclips that are part of a Prelude rough currently have this behavior; they can be extended once they are brought into Premiere Pro, but subclips created in the project panel and sent to Premiere from Prelude do not. This is another critical improvement for smoother workflow.

Subclips sent directly to Premiere Pro from Prelude should be able to be extended to the full length of the original media clip.


3. Ability to reconnect media.
Once I’ve ingested my media, I have no way to reconnect the media if the location of the media files changes. This is extremely problematic for large clip libraries, and even a headache for small ones. In its current release, Prelude can only find the media again if you put the clips back into their exact location and then don’t move them. This is often not possible to do, or is extremely laborious at best.

There is no way to reconnect media if file locations change.



4. Timeline UI Improvements.
It would be very useful to be able to directly rename subclips and comment markers in the timeline without having to use the Marker Inspector to fix a simple typo. Also, the CTI should be able to be moved more easily without having to click on the very narrow brown bar to indicate the new CTI position. Clicking anywhere on the filmstrip and audio waveforms should move the CTI to that position.

Subclips and comment markers should have the ability to be renamed directly in the timeline without stopping playback.


The CTI is cumbersome to move directly in the timeline because the brown bar is too narrow, and the filmstrip and audio waveforms don’t respond to clicks.



5. Ability to drop the file name from the subclip name in the rough cut.
You’ve just spent several hours organizing media and making it useful in a Prelude during logging. It’s nicely labeled and organized and now you’re building a Prelude rough cut. But when you begin dragging clips to the timeline, the rough cut now has the original (and usually useless) file name appended to the beginning of each labeled subclip. Even worse, when the rough cut is exported to Premiere Pro, the subclips retain these appended file names, which makes it very difficult to read the names of the subclips in the Premiere Pro timeline without zooming in. This should be optional or configurable. The timeline often goes from being neat and organized in Prelude, to a jumbled mess in Premiere because of the redundant filename added to the front of each subclip in the timeline.

Names given to subclips in Adobe Prelude, are crowded out by the media filename which is appended to the beginning of each clip in the rough cut.


6. Ability to manually mark media as ‘logging complete’.
As I progress through the media I am logging, I want the ability to note which media I’ve completed logging. Then I want to temporarily hide that media from the project panel, so I can focus on logging the remaining media. Having the ability to ‘hide logged media’ and then ‘unhide logged media’ could be a simple way of decluttering the project panel during logging.


7. Ability to select from multiple folders and subfolders on ingest.
There are many times when you want to ‘import’ or ‘ingest’ selected clips from an entire day worth of shooting which is in a number of folders and nested subfolders. Or perhaps you want to ingest multiple selected folders from your entire clip library at different levels in the folder tree. Currently you can only import media from a single folder level and then you have to repeat the ingest process for any files or folders at a different folder level, ingesting the contents of each folder individually (unless you want all of the contents of the subfolders) and constantly having to navigate the folder tree. It would be much better to be able to import from multiple folders, at various levels in the folder tree as part of a single ingest, the functionality should be the same as importing media in Adobe Lightroom.

Adobe Lightroom supports ingesting media from multiple folders at once. By ‘including subfolders’ users can import media from DCIM subfolders without having to navigate the folder tree, and also add to that selection at other levels of the folder tree, specifically selecting and deselecting individuals files or folders, as part of a single import session. This functionality is critical to making Prelude’s Ingest efficient.



8. ‘Don’t import suspected duplicates’.
Seems like a really useful thing. Let’s say I’ve imported a bunch of clips into a project, log them all, but need a few more. I go back to ingest more clips from the same location,  and there is no way to determine which clips have already been imported. If you attempt to import or ingest a clip that has already been imported, it produces an error message which doesn’t explain that the clip has already been imported.

Adobe Lightroom’s ‘Don’t Import Selected Duplicates’ greys out files that are suspected duplicates at the time of import. This would be a very useful feature inside Adobe Prelude's Ingest panel.

Importing duplicate clips in Adobe Prelude produces this inexplicable error message; not even a file list of the files which were already imported.



9. Ability to drag subclips directly from ‘Marker List’ to rough cut timeline.
The Marker List panel is a great breakdown of clips with icons for a single piece of media. Having the ability to drag a selected subclip directly from the Marker List panel to the rough cut timeline would be a big productivity boost. Alternately (and even better) would be to simply create an ‘icon’ view in the project panel, in addition to the ‘thumbnail & hover scrub’ view mentioned above. An ‘icon view’ could be another way of accomplishing the same UI improvement and be identical to the Marker list view but the contents could be dragable from the project list into the rough cut timeline.



10. Ability to do Speech-to-Text directly in Prelude.
Voice analysis is already bundled and built directly into Premiere Pro and OnLocation. Why not in Prelude, which is where it would be most useful if Prelude is to become the video logging and metadata hub of the CS.

Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe OnLocation already support Speech Analysis; but Adobe Prelude is where it would be most useful, because speech analysis is fundamental to logging and media metadata organization.



All of the above leverage existing Adobe technology. None of the above is anything ‘new’ — they’re just simple ways of making this tool much better without very much development.

I want to emphasize that it’s exciting to see Adobe taking a step into video media asset management; Adobe Prelude is the beginning of that. But for the time being it will be hard to meaningfully integrate into the workflow until some of these items are ironed out or integrated. Let’s cross our fingers for a point release really really soon so we can get to work using Prelude - it has the potential to be a really excellent tool, and there is already much that is good about. These are 10 easy things to make it 10 times as good - and they could be implemented very rapidly.

Seeing through the PR: What Apple Really Said in their Final Cut Pro FAQ

Part I: Click to enlarge: Read Between the Lines: What Apple REALLY Said in the Final Cut Pro X FAQ Part II: Click to enlarge: Page 2 - What Apple REALLY Said in their FCP FAQ

Honest Advertising: The True Features of FCP X

Click to go to my Flickr Page where I posted this:

Honest Advertising: The true features of FCP

final cut pro x the disaster movie.

BLACK TUESDAY, THE FCP TSUNAMI

How to explain the disaster that is Final Cut Pro X to non-FCP users in story form:

It’s almost impossible to express the shock waves that are being sent down the corridors of creativity and production throughout the professional film and video world. The sense of betrayal is palpable. Murmurs of class action lawsuits against Apple, allegations of false advertising, and people flocking to Avid, Premiere, Smoke, etc…. and not without reason.

If you’re not a Final Cut Pro editor you won’t quite understand the full extent of the carnage and damage that Apple has (inadvertently?) unleashed upon itself. The damage they have done is real, not contained to the professional world, and likely irreversible.

This is most certainly the end of Final Cut Pro as a professional’s tool, likely the end of Apple’s relationship with the professional world more broadly, and I suspect we’ll see a trend away from Apple hardware at the high end Mac Pro level over the next few years.

If you’re not a FCP Editor, here is a way to wrap your head around this:

Imagine you’re fortunate enough to own your own house, and have a long-standing relationship with an architect who works on your home.  In fact, he built your first home a long time ago.  Then, year-by-year, made improvements, added additions when you had children, renovated rooms, even renovated the basement at one point.  

The architect benefited too. All of your friends were so impressed by the work he had done on your home, that they hired him to work on their homes too.  

But this architect has been really busy over the last few years with some other very high-profile clients and has not had much time to do any work on your house.  In fact, some of the work you paid him to do many years ago still hasn’t been done, and things are starting to fall apart.  The roof is leaky, the floors are creaky, the walls are pealing…. this stuff needs to get fixed.  Fast!

Just when you began thinking, “Gosh, I think it might be time to move to a new house,” the architect tells you he’s got some extra time to work on your place.

Great, but this renovation is going to be a big one, so it’s probably best if you go on vacation for the summer, and come back when it’s done. “Fine, fine… anything to get this place back in working order,” you think as you head to the airport.

So while you’re on vacation, the architect sends you some photos of the new place.  You think, “Wow! Beautiful Italian tile, hardwood floors, hand-painted wallpaper! It looks great. This is going to be awesome! I can’t wait to get home!”

You’re so excited to get back from vacation you can barely contain yourself - -

When you arrive back at your beloved home, what’s there waiting for you is a disaster. And the architect is nowhere in site.

First, you’re locked out of your own house. But when you pry the lock apart, and get the door open, you see your newly renovated house has beautiful hardwood floors, and brand new chrome appliances - but no electricity. Gorgeous marble counter tops - but no HVAC system. A new swimming pool in the back yard - but no plumbing.  

As if that’s not enough, now, the kitchen and the bathroom are all in one room. That’s right, you take a shower in the kitchen, where you eat. The kids’ rooms are in the back lawn, in tents. The master bedroom is where the kids’ rooms used to be, and the closets have all been walled up and boarded over. No more closet space for you! (There won’t be any closet space in homes of the future! Far out!)

Finally, you get the architect on the phone and he says, “Well, I didn’t charge you very much….” and “That other stuff will be coming later, maybe” and “This is how people will live in the future” ….

You say: But what about the hundreds of thousands of dollars I’ve invested in this house over the years, what about all of my furniture!? Nothing I own fits into this new house at all. All of the photos I paid a lot of money to have framed don’t fit on the walls, and the dining room table I spent three years crafting by hand won’t fit in the front door. The Steinway grand piano that is a family heir loom, won’t fit through the front door, or the back door. It won’t even fit through a window! What do I do with that?


Apple: Hmmmm… well, give up the piano, maybe? We might be able to figure out a work around for some of that stuff, maybe. Hey, you could always take the piano apart and reassemble it inside. Don’t you like this beautiful Venetian tile, it was imported from Italy! This is the biggest advance in your home since we built your original house!

You: Yes, that’s very nice, but I can’t live in this house. What do you expect me to do?

Apple: Be patient, we’re going to take some of your thoughts into consideration. I’m just blown away by what we’ve been able to do for you!

You: Why isn’t there an HVAC system?

Apple: Over the last few years, our firm has we’ve moved away from residential architecture, and we’re doing a lot of work in more mild climates. Most of our other customers live in climates where you don’t need HVAC. We don’t think anyone will be using HVAC in the future.

You: But it freezing here in the winter, and blistering in the summer.  We need HVAC.

Apple: We showed this house to some of your neighbors while we were working on it, and their jaws dropped!  We showed it to some people who have never lived indoors before, and they said it was great! We can’t believe you don’t like it! Maybe there’s another company you can hire to do a work around for the things you want. You could always have HVAC air ducts installed on the outside of your house. That could work.

You: Why didn’t you build HVAC into the house to begin with? Every home in this area has heating and air conditioning.

Apple: We have a different approach to dwelling, something we think will be really a big part of the future. Your house was completely rebuilt from the ground up! Naturally, if you want to continue to be a client of ours, we have to do work that we feel fits into our firms larger identity. Installing HVAC now would destroy the beutiful Italian tiles! If we have to install HVAC all of the nice surfaces you have will be destroyed, and also the ceilings will be have to be lowered. Don’t you like your new high ceilings?

You: Ok, what about plumbing? Can I get some plumbing?

Apple: Well, that’s tricky… you see, we couldn’t use any of the old plumbing from the original house, so we thought it would be better to not have plumbing at all.

You: We at least need some electricity!

Apple: Yes, we agree with you, you probably will need some. That was a mistake of ours.  If you go ahead and just head down to the local hardware store and buy a gas powered generator, you could set that up in your front lawn and run some extension cords inside for your electricity! That should do the trick!

You: Some features you shouldn’t have to request by name. What about—-

Apple: [interrupting] You know, I’d love to talk to you about this, but I’m getting a call right now from another very important [cough] [cough] IOS [cough] IOS [cough] client. [hangs up phone]


Then this guy called ‘Adobe’ comes strolling down the street:

Adobe: Hey mister, I saw what Apple did to your house.  Looks nice, too bad there’s no plumbing.  

You: Yeah. Too bad. What am I going to do. I can’t even live here.

Adobe: Hey, I’ve got a house just down the block on Premiere Street. You’ll be able to take all of your furniture, kids rooms, and other stuff all there right away. There might be a few small things that need to be rearranged, but for the most part, we’ll be able to accommodate you, and it will be a whole lot better than your old house.

You: Really?

Adobe: Yes, and because you got screwed by that awful guy Apple, we’re happy to give you a discount because we feel so bad for you.

Meanwhile, Apple Architect notices who you’re talking to.

Apple: Don’t leave, please, we like you. We want you to stay. How about this, we’ll give you a refund until we can get you setup with some work arounds for some of those things you were requesting but we won’t support them long term, ok?

You: Yes, but you’ve ruined my house. I can’t live there.  There’s no electricity, there’s no plumbing, there’s no heating. All of my books are on the front lawn because you didn’t build any bookshelves! My kids are crying! How am I going to provide for my family? You insist this isn’t a problem, and that I’ll just ‘get used to it.’ I can’t even park my car in the garage because you split the garage in half for reasons I can’t understand. Why did you do that? Why?

Apple: Speaking of the car, maybe you and your family could live in there while we try to take some of your thoughts into consideration? Is the car owned by school? Press one.

You: I’m leaving.

Apple: Give us another chance!  Please we didn’t realize you wanted plumbing !

Epilogue:
In meantime, while you’re working out the deal with Adobe Architect, you take Apple’s advice and head down to the local hardware store to buy an electric generator so you can turn on some space-heaters for your family. But when you get there, you decide that gasoline will be a better antidote.  You then buy forty gallons, go home, remove your FCP Projects, and pour gasoline all over the house.  RIP FCP.