Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 (Entertainment)

Published Date
01 - Dec - 2007
| Last Updated
01 - Dec - 2007
Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 (Entertainment)

Premiere Pro isn’t for the faint of heart, but whether you’re creating a family vacation DVD or your own “I’m-going-to-be-a-YouTube-star” video, it’s the ultimate tool for video editing. We’re going to assume you’ve been through the “Getting Started” part of Premiere’s help file, so don’t get all acidic if you can’t understand the instructions here.

Get Your USB Microphone Working

If you’ve got a USB microphone—this may well be the one on your webcam or USB headset—and it isn’t working with Premiere, there’s a simple fix. First, in Windows XP’s Sound Control Panel applet, make sure you’ve selected your microphone as the default recording device (Control Panel > Sound and Audio Devices > Audio). In Premiere, go to Edit > Preferences > Audio Hardware and click on the ASIO Settings button. Under DirectSound Input Ports, select your USB microphone.

Working With Titles

Every movie needs introductory credits. To start with yours, go to File > New > Title. The dialog you see is replete with all sorts of text tools, not to mention drawing tools, should you feel the need to add shapes to your title. At the bottom of the dialog, you’ll find an assortment of styles that you can apply to the title—these work pretty much the same way as Layer Styles in Photoshop.

Once you’ve created a title, drag it from the Project panel to the Timeline panel and place it in one of the four video slots—usually the topmost, but we won’t judge you if you choose another.

Besides the obvious purpose, you can also use titles to create masks and use in other effects—we’ll come to those in a bit.

The Magic Of Track Matte

The Track Matte effect can be used in Premiere the same way adjustment layers and masks can be used in Photoshop. If you’re not familiar with the latter, forget about it and read on. For example, if you’ve got a close-up shot of yourself, you can use the Track Matte effect to hide all those pores and skin blemishes without losing detail around the eyes and mouth—where your viewers are most likely to notice your tampering.

First, duplicate the video clip in the Timeline panel—we’ll be using this duplicate to clear out all the blemishes. Now scrub (that’s “drag the progress indicator”) over to the shot in question—this will help you place the track matte. Go to File > New > Title to bring up the Title dialog, and use the ellipse tool to draw ellipses over the eyes and mouth. They don’t have to be entirely accurate—just not too much bigger than said facial features.

This is what your title should look like

In the Effects panel, choose Gaussian Blur under Video Effects > Blur and Sharpen (we prefer using the search text box in the panel—just type in “gauss” and you’ll have your results). Drag the effect onto the upper video. In the Effect Controls panel, expand the Gaussian Blur effect and adjust the Blurriness till you’re satisfied all the blemishes are gone. You might have to adjust the opacity to avoid edges looking too blurry, too. Ignoring the eyes and mouth for now, stop when you’re satisfied with the way the shot looks. Now drag the title you made into the video track above this clip.

You've  smoothened the skin , now to bring back the details in the eyes

Finally, get to the Track Matte Key effect in the Effects Panel (it’s under Keying) and drag it on to the video you blurred. In the Effect Controls panel, expand Track Matte Key and in the drop-down menu next to Matte, select the video track that has your title. You’ll find that the ellipses are gone, and now you’ve got yourself a shot where the eyes and mouth are blurry, but the rest of the shot is the original. All you need to do is select the Reverse checkbox, and your effect is done. Almost. You might notice that you can easily make out where the ellipses’ edges were. To fix this, just apply a Gaussian Blur effect to the title clip and kick up the Blurriness till you’re happy.

Voila No more blemishes

You can also use the Track Matte Key to create a frame for your video, not to mention that “through the binoculars” effect that was so popular in spy movies of old. You can also use it with the Mosaic effect for the “kids-shouldn’t-be-seeing-this” look—especially if kids shouldn’t be seeing the portions in question.

Transitions Using The Keyboard

If there’s a video transition you use very often, you can set it as your default, and then apply it using [Ctrl] [D] every time you need it. To set a transition as a default, go to the Effects panel and expand Video Transitions. Choose your transition, right-click on it and select Set Selected as Default Transition. When you want to use it, all you have to do is make sure you’ve selected the clip you want to add the transition to, and hit the shortcut.

To change the duration of the default transition, go to Edit > Preferences > General and change the values to what you want.

Recovering Corrupt Projects

Random OS crashes or power failures have a way of laying hard work to waste, but with Premiere Pro, there might just be some hope when files go corrupt. Before you try anything else, though, remember that Premiere Pro auto-saves projects—you can find them in the same folder that you saved your project. In many cases, the last auto-save suffices, but if you’ve disabled auto-save (silly, silly) or you just have to have the latest version, try this: first, get yourself an XML editor like XML Writer or XML Wrench. Open the corrupt project file—it’s just an XML document with a different extension—and use the “Check document” (or equivalent) tool. The editor should point you to invalid garbage like <NAME>&$d.~</NAME>. Delete the data between the tags, but leave the tags themselves. Keep doing this till the XML editor stops giving you warnings—the exercise should take you about a quarter hour. Save the file to another location (remember to add the .prproj extension) and open it—it should work now.

All About FLM

Adobe’s Filmstrip (FLM) file format enables you to do neat things like drawing on individual frames—and if these drawings form a coherent animation, it’s called rotoscoping. You can’t do this in Premiere, though—you have to take your movie to Photoshop. After working on your movie, export it to the Filmstrip format—go to File > Export > Movie. Click on the Settings button in the export dialog box and choose Filmstrip under File Type. This file is going to take up a ridiculous amount of disk space, so make sure to take only a few seconds of video at a time (3 minutes of video took up about 8 GB when we did this).

Bring movies into the photoshop

You can now open the FLM file in Photoshop—make sure you shut Premiere and other demanding applications, because this process can make your system scream bloody murder. Advance through frames using the Animation panel; to draw on frames, create new layers on them and work your magic. Once you’re done with a frame, flatten the layers to save on file size. When you’re done with all the frames, remember to save the file in the FLM format again. You can now get it back into Premiere for any other work you want to do with it.

Automating Drive Defragging Sessions

Defragging is a must. Vista has an inbuilt scheduling feature that allows you to set when you want your drives to be defragged. Start Disk Defragmenter. Click on Modify Schedule and select when you want the defragging to take place. You can set the frequency, the day and time for the defragment process.

Adobe Soundbooth CS3

Adobe Audition makes way for Adobe Soundbooth in the CS3 release (the former is being sold separately for audio professionals), and though it lacks the über-professional qualities of Audition, it makes for a more-than-competent audio editing tool. You’ll find the Soundbooth demo on this month’s Entertainment DVD. Again, we’re assuming you’ve spent some time familiarising yourself with Soundbooth before reading ahead.

Soundbooth's interface lets you access a lot of oft-used tools easily

The Interface
If you’ve used Adobe Audition before (or its predecessor, Cool Edit Pro), you’ll find some familiar and some totally different aspects in Soundbooth’s interface. For one thing, the interface has been tweaked to be “task-based”—so you’ll find audio clean-up tools in the same place, for instance. You’ll find the Tasks panel on the left of the interface.
You won’t find a separate tool for audio normalisation any more—at the bottom of the Editor panel, you’ll find a slider that says 0.0 db—click and drag this to increase or decrease the overall volume of your sound clip. You also have buttons that’ll instantly apply a Fade In or Fade Out effect to your sound clip.

Reading Sound

When you open a music file in Soundbooth, you see the Waveform view, which shows you the amplitude of the sound over time. You’ll also be able to use the Spectral Analysis view (View > Spectral Frequency Display)—this shows you the frequencies that make up the sound. The vertical axis shows the frequencies, and the colour indicates how loud that particular frequency component is (blue is soft; yellow is loud). Just as you can use the waveform view to selectively listen to different time-slots of the clip, you can choose to hear only specific frequency slots in the spectral view. Just choose the Frequency selection tool, highlight the frequency range you want to hear, and hit Play.

The spectral display shows you the different frequency components of your sound clip

All this might sound like goofing off, but there’s a very important side-effect to knowing what the Spectral Display is showing you—it lets you visually identify clicks, hiss, and other such undesirable noise in your audio. Use the Zoom tool to zoom really close to the spectral waveform, and by looking at the right frequency ranges, you’ll be able to tell the difference between noise and the sound you want to be working on. If you look at the higher frequency ranges and see a lot of red speckles, that’s hiss. You can now use the Rectangular Marquee tool (Shortcut: [M]) to select the offending areas and hit [Delete] to get rid of them. If you see bright vertical lines in your audio, it’s usually an indication of a nasty crackle or pop. You can even increase the detail in the spectral view by changing the Resolution under Remove a Sound in the Tasks panel. Higher resolutions will get you more detail, but will slow down your PC considerably.

Hiss and pops show up in the Spectral Display

Bear in mind that these are extreme measures that you should resort to only after you’ve tried the regular audio cleaning tools under Clean Up Audio in the Tasks panel.

Compose Your Own

One of Soundbooth’s main tasks is to give you a tool that you can use to add soundtracks to your videos; the AutoCompose tool lets you create, or rather customise, background music for any video. You can also use the tool to add a little life to sounds you’ve already got. You’ll find AutoCompose Score in the Tasks panel. The idea is that you start with a score that’s already provided by Adobe or the community, and then customise it to meet your needs.

To start using the AutoCompose tool, open the video you want to add a soundtrack to (you don’t have to if you just want to play with this feature) and select the Browse Scores button in the Tasks panel. This will take you to Adobe Bridge, where you can browse through and preview all the scores stored on your machine. You’ll be able to get a lot more scores online as well.

Play with key frames to customise your AutoCompose score

To start customising the score, select the Keyframing button next to Editing in the Tasks panel. In the Editor panel, you’ll now be able to set keyframes for different values of Intensity, Synthesiser and Volume. To set a keyframe, just click on the track at the level you want—for example, if you want to suppress the score’s intro at the beginning, just create a keyframe near the bottom on the intensity track. To kick up the intensity later, just create another keyframe close to the top. It’s actually much simpler and more intuitive than it sounds—try it.

Stacking Effects

If you experiment with a number of effects at a time, Soundbooth lets you add effects in Stacks—in the Effects panel, choose up to five effects to apply to your audio, and hit the Apply to File button to process them all. By default, the most-recently-applied effect is put on the top of the stack, but you can change the order.

The Effect  Stack  lets you apply a  number of effects together

To adjust the settings for each effect, double-click on the effect in the rack or click on Settings. If you want effects’ settings dialogs to open as soon as you apply them, do Edit > Preferences > General and select Auto-Open Effect Custom Settings.

Fade Out Tricks

The Fade Out button in the Editor panel doesn’t let you customise the fade-out time. However, hidden away at the top corners of the Editor panel, you’ll find a semi-transparent fade icon (see image) that you can drag out into the waveform.

The almost-invisible fade handle lets you control your fade-ins and fade-outs better

Use the trim handles to cut unwanted portions out of your clip

While dragging, move your mouse up or down to adjust the curve of the fade; you’ll see a live preview of how the sound wave’s going to be altered. In the same vein, at the middle of either side of the Editor panel, you’ll find Trim handles that’ll let you easily cut out silences from the beginning or end of the clip.

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