With Adobe MAX and a new version of Premiere Pro officially in the public’s hands, I was excited to interview Francis Crossman, Senior Product Manager for Premiere Pro at Adobe. We discussed the efficiency of Premiere and took a look at the new features.
Andrew Ford (AF): Thanks so much for taking the time to talk, Francis. As a veteran editor, I know that Premiere is a fantastic tool for the power user, but let’s talk about how is it evolving as a tool of choice for users that are crossing over from graphic design or photography.
Francis Crossman (FC): Yes, it’s no secret that Premiere is an absolute powerhouse of a tool. We’re used by top films and documentaries, but as you say, graphic designers and photographers know that video is everywhere and their clients will be asking for video. The clients may say, “You’re a tech/computer person, how hard can video be?” Premiere helps that market by trying to make things easier to use and more intuitive.
One example of a feature set in Premiere that speaks well to photographers is the Lumetri color panel for color adjustments. We modeled that after the simple, easy-to-use sliders found in Lightroom. So, if you are a photographer coming over from Lightroom, you’ll feel right at home making color adjustments in Premiere.
Guiding you along
AF: Both beginner and expert users certainly appreciate efficient and easy-to-use software. It seems that the new Premiere updates cater to this promise.
FC: Absolutely. This is a really big update. We’re adding color management to h.264 and HEVC files, which represent the vast majority of files coming into Premiere. Basically, this means that we’re going to automatically identify the color space the file is recorded in. For example, if a user records an HDR file, it can be brought into Premiere and dropped onto a timeline. Premiere will then automatically configure the timeline correctly so that the user is editing in HDR. They don’t need to be a color scientist to figure that out.
AF: Helping take the guesswork out of sequence setup will be huge for many of our readers.
FC: Yes, and we also have hardware acceleration for 10-bit 4:2:2 HEVC. One might think that’s a bit of a mouthful and such a specific format, but that represents the high-quality format output from most mirrorless and DSLR cameras. Now that it is hardware accelerated inside of Premiere Pro, it means that it will playback smoothly and you won’t get dropped frames.
AF: Another feature I’ve enjoyed has been speech-to-text, allowing me to quickly make caption files. What else is new with this feature?
FC: It’s not the end of the line for speech-to-text development by any means. We’re super excited about the power this has delivered in terms of automatically performing transcription and captions. This update includes the ability to export transcripts with timecode and speaker identification. What’s great about that is you can now hand that off to a producer and do a traditional paper edit, and it’s also available as a .csv file for Excel. And, there’s a lot more to come from speech-to-text!
AF: The future certainly seems bright for speech-to-text capabilities. Before we get into the new beta features, are there any other notable features of this release?
FC: Totally! It’s called Simplify Sequence and it does what the name implies. It takes a messy or complicated sequence and automatically makes it the simplest version of that sequence.
AF: That’s perfect for preparing a project for handoff to someone else in a production! It’s amazing how Adobe keeps creating innovative features.
FC: What’s really interesting about the Simplify Sequence feature is that it came out of something that we do each year called “Innovation Week.” This is where we clear the calendar for a week and let our engineers work on whatever they think is cool. A quality engineer, who was a previous editor, came up with this idea to automatically get control of a messy sequence. He got some people to help him build it and now we’re releasing it in the product because it was just that good. This harks back to a famous quote from Chuck Geschke, who said that good ideas come from everywhere in the company. We’re living proof of that with this feature.
AF: I love that quote, as it’s so relevant to many businesses. It seems that Adobe is more focused than ever on helping users get more out of programs. What initiatives do you think have helped?
FC: Adobe MAX is the single biggest opportunity to reach our customers, and since we’ve gone completely free and virtual, it has been huge. A lot of training sessions are viewable after the fact, and it’s a great place to learn about your favorite software alongside peers and experts.
Another way that we are trying to make sure we build the right features is through our beta program. With Premiere Pro, you can download the public beta that has features we’re in the process of building. As a user, you can give us feedback. We’ll actually take that feedback, and in some cases, we’ll change the course of a feature and build it to do something slightly different from originally planned because of this valid customer feedback. We build better features because of it.
Talking beta features
AF: I encourage all users to check out the beta version and give feedback. Adobe truly does listen to the customer. Speaking of the beta program, let’s talk about some new beta features, like Remix.
FC: Remix has been one of the hidden Adobe Sensei gems. It’s been in Audition for quite some time, and was actually the first Sensei feature in the digital video and audio group. Now, we’re bringing it into Premiere. It’s brand new in beta as of Oct. 25. It automatically recomposes a piece of music into a different duration. You can take a long piece of music and shorten it down as needed, but also retain that natural ending of the music. Editors used to have to cut out the middle, stitch on the end and use transitions. It’s kind of difficult, but Sensei does that automatically. It saves you a ton of time, and in most cases will do a better job than you could do yourself.
AF: Even if you enjoy editing audio, there’s nothing wrong with working smarter and not harder! And Beta brings more features to speech-to-text as well, right?
FC: Oh, this is a big deal! When we first released speech-to-text, it processed in the cloud. There is some time associated with that process. Now, we are moving things on device. This means it can be done without an internet connection. There is also a huge speed improvement because we can leverage your machine’s GPU to do the machine learning processing. We’re not quite ready to share solid numbers on this speed improvement, but we can say it’s several times faster than before.
AF: I can’t wait to check that out in Beta! Any other beta features to discuss?
FC: An exciting feature coming to beta is called Auto Tone. It’s powered by Adobe Sensei and it uses machine learning to automatically adjust colors in your footage. It’s a one-button press and it’s all non-destructive. It is done by adjusting the values in the basic settings, so all of those adjustments are totally editable after the fact. You can see what Sensei did, start to learn how it was done, and recreate that.
The future of Premiere
AF: In closing, I’d like to get some forward-looking commentary from you on Premiere. What are some of the biggest challenges for Premiere to overcome?
FC: I think the challenges we need to overcome are with the newer video users. Premiere can be a little intimidating. We are looking at our core workflows to modernize them, as well as perform some big UX and UI improvements. Some of these initiatives are in beta now, such as the new import mode, new export mode and a unified header bar across the top of the interface. This makes it significantly easier to get a new project started and rendered out, even if you’re not a codec expert.
AF: That’s great! And finally, with Premiere and AE evolving side by side and having a lot of interaction with each other, are you planning to continue that into the future? Do you think that has an impact on growing your Premiere audience?
FC: Oh, absolutely. After Effects is integral to the success of Premiere. We find that a significant number of users say that they use Premiere because it plays so well with After Effects. After Effects also has huge gains coming with this release, especially with multiframe rendering and speculative preview. We will actually see some of the benefit of that in Premiere over time. Just like Dynamic Link and Motion Graphics Templates came to Premiere from After Effects, we have opportunity to take advantage of those accelerations in future releases.
AF: Thank you for that insight. As usual, it’s another great Adobe MAX conference and release. We can’t wait to see the innovations that you and your team come out with in the future!