Local TV Commercial Editing Workflow

Premiere Pro CS6

In my day job, I produce TV commercials for local car dealerships in Northwest Illinois and various cities in Indiana. On a monthly basis, I deliver over 40+ spots to cable and network providers which are shot and edited a few weeks prior to the start of the next month. If I have commercials I need to produce for the month of January, I will shoot and edit them in December so that we can have them running at the beginning of the month. Aside from the production schedule of the monthly commercials I produce, I use an editing workflow that allows me to be efficient and maintain a level of speed that can handle unforeseen circumstances. I’m going to detail my editing workflow in Premiere Pro and hopefully provide some tips and insight into delivering multiple commercials to multiple vendors.

Setting up the project & gathering assets

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Before I shoot a month’s worth of commercials, I use a template project that has folders and assets which I know will factor into the edit. I change the scratch disks and project save location so I can keep my original template project intact; or I use PostHaste, depending on the project. From there, I add more folders that I may need for auxiliary assets like third party motion graphics and more. I also make sure that I have logos and monthly artwork from each brand I deal with at my agency. Once I’ve set up my project for the month, I wait until the shoot day before I do anything else.

Storage & Preparing the footage

When I’m shooting commercials for clients, I alternate between the Panasonic AF-100 and Sony PXW-X70. These cameras give me best of two worlds, which are interchangeable lenses and small but powerful broadcast cameras. Both cameras record with the AVCHD codec. The X70 also has its own proprietary codec which is the XAVC codec. When it comes to bringing footage from either of these cameras, I typically transcode the clips into Apple Pro Res or Pro Res HQ. Although Premiere can take most formats natively, with the hardware I have available (and based on past experiences) I choose to play it safe using a codec meant for editing. Before I do that, I always make sure to backup the SD card in two locations in sparse disk bundles using the Create Disk Image app.

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Once I’ve taken care of storage and encoded my footage into Pro Res, I move the footage to my network based RAID and import it into my project file so I can begin building sequences.

Building a selects sequence

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I place all of my footage into a sequence so that I can sort out the best takes, as well determine which clip goes with what dealership. I use timeline markers to group my clips together so that I can use the Markers panel and search for dealerships quickly. Once the selects sequence is built, I proceed to use the pancake timeline technique to build my main commercial sequences.

Structuring main commercial sequences & adjusting for time

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Using the pancake timeline technique, I put my selected sequences on top of my main commercial sequences, and drag clips into their appropriate places according to what is written in the script. From there, I add voice-overs, branding graphic assets, running footage, and more to time out each commercial to 30 seconds. If my footage, voice-overs, or other assets don’t meet that length, then I trim until everything does. Once I have my main commercials assembled and timed out, I add motion graphics and finishing touches like color correction/grading.

Motion graphics & finishing

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For motion graphics, I tend to use After Effects… unless I’m not looking for intricate animations. Lately, I’ve been using it for text animations as well as graphic overlays, especially since the update to Premiere Pro CC 2014.1 introduced the feature of Render & Replace. With that function implemented, I can now use dynamic linked After Effects comps and render/unrender them inside Premiere when I want to. In terms of finishing, I level the audio to broadcast specs and fix color balance and/or apply a simple color treatment, along with a Sharpen filter.

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Once I have motion graphics and finishing locked, I begin exporting my main commercial sequences to Media Encoder to get them to my broadcast vendors.

Exporting from Media Encoder and Delivery

Inside of Media Encoder, I set up my commercial sequences to be exported in a variety of codecs. Most of my broadcast vendors take either H.264 or Pro Res HQ. With Media Encoder, I use presets I created prior to encode one sequence to multiple Quicktime movies.

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Once I have exported my commercials into various Quicktime movies, I run one of them through Sorenson Squeeze to encode to WMV for brand compliance. With my Quicktime movies ready for broadcast delivery and my WMVs ready for brand compliance, I deliver each of them to their appropriate vendors and brands. In regards to compliance, if they approve it, then my broadcast deliver is cleared. If it is disapproved, I fix whatever mistake I have and re-export it for compliance and broadcast until it is correct.

As you can see, it pays to have a workflow that allows me the space to be creative, but at the same time meet pressing deadlines. After each month, I examine what worked best, what can be improved on, and if other tools can be added to allow for both efficiency and higher production value. In 2015, I plan on looking for tools and techniques that will allow me to be even more efficient and creative. Below is one of my finished promos for this month.

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5 Tips/Tricks for Premiere Pro CC

Premiere Pro CS6

Over the last few years, Premiere Pro has really stepped up its game as being a dependable NLE for professionals across the world. Its ability to make almost any codec native editable allows it to be more than a viable choice for editors to use. I’ve professionally relied on it to get many projects done over the years, and with each iteration that has been released, Premiere has shown that it can compete with the best of the NLEs. With the release of the Creative Cloud, we have been introduced to features that make the life of an editor much easier. I want to share a few tips/tricks that can help you in using this versatile NLE.

Using Drop Down Menus

The source, program, and title monitor each have a drop down menu above them indicating what item is currently in view. Every time you enter a new item into these monitors, it changes to that item. The cool thing about the source and title monitor is you can load multiple items into them and cycle through each individually by using the drop down menu. For example, if I want to look at multiple video clips and not have to load them into the Source monitor one by one, all you have to do is select a group of clips in the project browser and drag them into the source monitor. By using the drop down menu, you can go through multiple clips one by one. Aside from using the drop down menu in CC, you can map shortcuts to these commands below to cycle through clips using the keyboard. Personally, I’ve found this to be a timesaver for high volume footage edits.

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You can also load multiple titles in the Title Tool and cycle through different titles. You can also edit them one by one without having to double click them individually.

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You can also use the drop down menu for the Program monitor when you have multiple sequences open. I rarely use the drop down menus when cycling between sequences, but it’s always good to know multiple ways to move around your interface.

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Opening Multiple Sequences

Having to double click to open sequences in Premiere can be a pain in the ass, especially if I have to do it to multiple sequences. Luckily, there is a shortcut in Premiere Pro CC that allows you to open multiple sequences at once. If you map a keyboard shortcut for the command Open in Timeline, this will definitely be handy for opening multiple timelines. Select your group of timelines in the Project browser, hit your custom keyboard shortcut for Open in Timeline, and all of your sequences will open at the same time. I discovered this trick while working on commercial spots recently, and it has been a real timesaver. I strongly recommend you try it out yourself.

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Creating Custom Dimensions for Layers

Not too many people know this, but you can actually determine the dimensions of a Color Matte, Black Video, Adjustment Layer, or Transparent Video Layer before you commit to it. When you go to create one of these layers by selecting the create new item button, a dialog box shows up with dimensions of your current sequence. Let’s say, for example, that you wanted a red square and you didn’t want to go to the title tool to create it. If I create a Color Matte with dimensions of 500×500, I will get a red square Color Matte.

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Knowing this tip can reduce the time you may spend creating shapes in the Title Tool, or farming out to Photoshop if you are so inclined.

Change Duration of Multiple Transitions

One of the things I enjoy about the Creative Cloud version of Premiere, is that I can select multiple transitions and change their duration at the same time.

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As cool of a trick as this is, I hope future iterations will have the ability to map a shortcut to change transition duration as opposed to using the mouse all the time.

Importing Favorites Bins/Custom Presets onto other machines

This was a tip I learned recently from the Adobe forums. If you create custom presets and bins for favorites, it is saved in a file known as Effect Presets and Custom Items. This file updates each time you import a preset or custom bin into Premiere Pro. The best things about this file is that you can copy and import it into other systems with Premiere Pro installed. The instructions I’m giving are on a Mac, but you can find instructions for this file on PCs if you search the help pages. First, copy the file from the User>Documents>Adobe>Premiere Pro>version #>profile folder. With the file on a flash drive, open Premiere Pro CC (2013 or 2014 works) and go to the effects browser. Right click on the Effects tab and select import presets. Select the file on the flash drive and you will get the custom presets you created, as well as the favorites bins you created on your other machines.

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This trick is also useful when Premiere is being sluggish and you need to trash preferences. You won’t need to recreate everything all over again. These are just a few tips/tricks that Premiere Pro has to offer. There are many more available when you really get to know the program. In fact, the updates coming for the next release of Premiere Pro CC 2014 look more promising than any release I’ve seen in years. Try these tricks out yourself and discover ways to move faster in Premiere to get your work done.

Sound Effects

Creating a Bin Structure Inside Your NLE

­Adobe Premier Pro Logo

One of the things I pride myself on having when I edit a project is a proper bin structure. When you are tasked with having a project that contains over 100 clips of footage, titles and miscellaneous assets such as photos, logos, motion graphics and more, your project browser can get very messy very quickly. Below is an example of a typical bin structure I utilize on projects. I add or delete bins based on my needs so this can change at a moment’s notice. I’m going to breakdown the significance of each bin and some of their sub bins so that you get an idea on how to structure your bin organization.

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Audio

In this bin it’s obvious what’s placed here. I have sub bins for royalty free music tracks and sound effects. If I need an additional sub bin for something like voiceovers, I would create another bin and title that VO. If I want to get even more picky and specific, I would create sub bins for audio formats such as .mp3, .wav or .aiff. I would create sub bins within the music sub bin and sound effects sub bin for each of those formats. The benefit of doing that is to know what format I’m dealing instead of grouping everything into one bin and being none the wiser.

Images

In this bin is where I place client images, artwork, logos and more. In this particular example, I have sub bins for many of the popular image formats such as jpeg, png, tiff, psd. With images, it’s really easy for it to become messy and confusing if you just import all your images into one bin labeled images. This sub bin structure is meant to help sort and differentiate between what I have to work with. In most situations, I may not need all these sub bins but I keep them in case I’m given more client images down the line.

Mograph

This bin is meant to hold any motion graphics elements I plan to use or any exports that were created in After Effects. I may have custom motion graphics I created and plan to use and the last thing I want is it scattered all over the place. AE renders is a base folder I would use when starting a project. I could add sub bins within that labeled client custom mograph or segments to reflect graphics exported from After Effects that need specific bins. The other sub bin you see has the name of some popular royalty free graphics developers I use on regular basis. This sub bin has a tendency to grow or shrink depending on the need of the project. For most cases, I usually have at least 3-5 sub bins in this section just in case.

Footage

By far the most important bin to have in any structure. This is where my footage will go but I usually have several sub bins with the Master Clips bin. I like to label my footage bin from what card and shooter/camera they came from so I can reference them in case anything goes offline. There are obviously different ways to go about this but essentially all footage will go here. If I plan on using sub clips in the edit, I would create a folder for that and place them there. I tend to rarely use sub clips in most edits I do because I have a different method of sorting my footage.

Sequences

It is in this bin where I’m extra picky and cautiously organized. I keep versions of my main sequences as the project progresses usually appending them with something like this: Project Name_Main_01. With the underscores, I am able to go back to the first cut of my main sequence in case I need to start over or pick an arrangement that worked previously.

The selects reel bin is meant to have sequences of my footage grouped by the following criteria: b-roll and sound bites. What I do is go through my master clips and drop them in the appropriate titled sequence. For example, if I come across footage that has interviews or dialogue relevant to my edit, I would drop them in my sound bites sequence. That way I no longer need to use my project panel to search for specific clips. I can go through my selects sequences for either interviews or b-roll and grab what I need. I found this method very efficient and it also allows me to move faster.

Conclusion

This bin structure is a useful base for which I organize most of my projects. With it, I can add or delete bins if needed and keep everything as organized as possible. It’s good to have an evolving bin structure as one structure may not always be sufficient and you need to examine how to make it better for any specific project. Overall, utilize a bin structure to maintain your sanity and have peace of mind when you are editing. I’m the NLE Ninja with AudioMicro asking you to stay creative.

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