Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Premiere Pro CS3 - New Project Settings

Yesterday we asked some tough questions about our workflow and the choices that we are making when working with digital multimedia evidence (DME). Premiere Pro CS3 is an incredibly robust program. It can help us do some amazing things with video and images. But, many users are frustrated and confused by the many options available in setting up projects. I don't blame them.

One of the things that I've found hilarious over the years is when books are written to help users, and they say things like "you'll be sure to find a pre-set that will match the majority of the media that you'll likely be working with." That statement rarely applies to our work. Where's the preset for "Costco DVR" or "Eyemax 9120?" Readers of other blogs will find comments like "its your camera's problem, not Premiere's" when you are looking to solve problems related to small or odd frame sizes or slow frame rates.

So what are we looking for? What do we do to start with? 

I fired up my Virtual Machine and created a folder to serve as my project files' save location. If Premiere's goal is to work with good video, then do I want to choose some setting that's close to those that I'm bringing in? Or do I want to create a custom set-up for each project? I think that you'll want to set-up each project from scratch based on the unique properties of your media.

Start with changing your Editing Mode to Desktop. Then, you'll want to change the Timebase to reflect your file's frames per second. But, it only goes as low as 10 fps. Oops. What now? What happens if your DME runs at 7.5 fps ("on average") and you drop it on a timeline that's waiting for a 10 fps file? Premiere makes it work. What does that mean? It means different things for different files depending on a number of variables. Ouch! How do I explain that one?

You can hack your Project settings file and change the frame size. It's pretty easy to find. But, since you can change these settings easily enough in the dialog box, this is one of those "emergency" solutions that may come in handy after your project is well underway.

Look again at the project text file (open up the project file in Wordpad). You can clearly make out the frame size settings. But, look at the frame rate entry. Would you believe that this equals 29.97 fps? Want the long answer? We'll get into that in a future post - yes ... there is a way. There's always a way. The short answer to the question is that I haven't found a way around this issue that I'm entirely comfortable with. I've had success with some files, and it's butchered others. 

Premiere Pro CS3 won the informal poll as far as being the most popular video capture solution. But as you can see, it's a product that is designed with specific end-users in mind. There are many uses to the program that can help us tremendously. But is it ready for DME straight out of the box? The jury's still out. As always, I welcome input and user experience. Every little bit helps.

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