It wasn’t long ago that when asked, a blockbuster editor would have told you that Avid Media Composer was the “Industry standard” for editing. Even recently that same inquiry would have collected the reaction that it was Final Cut Pro. As the ‘movie biz’ keeps on developing and big name editors/filmmakers are moving to Adobe Premiere Pro, its not just indie films but also big budget Hollywood movies making the change to a piece of software that anyone can download and start using.
There’s a whole bunch of reasons to this change. Between the constant updates, new features added monthly, dynamic link and Adobe Bridge pulling multiple applications together, and as new producers and editors climb the ladder, and experienced professionals search for better softwares, Premiere Pro gets approval from new majority.
Here are my top 10 movies and TV shows where Premiere Pro was used in the editing process and little insight into each one.
How did you get introduced to the idea of editing with Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
Miller: When I got the gig for Deadpool, I talked to a lot of people in the industry. I’m not ashamed to admit that I don’t know everything so I went out and I asked questions. One of the people I asked was David Fincher. Coincidentally, he’d just finished using Premiere Pro CC to cut Gone Girl and told me what a good experience he had. The idea that Premiere Pro CC was built from scratch with filmmakers who are very picky and discerning made me think that it was going to be a product that would have some legs.
Was there anything about Premiere Pro CC that worked particularly well for Deadpool?
Miller: Even if he’s not your typical superhero, Deadpool still has a ton of action and special effects. One of the biggest things for us when we heard about what the new Premiere Pro could do was its interoperability with After Effects. What we need in an editing package is really an uninterrupted flow between the idea and the output. You have to be able to do basics really well. You have to be able to put together footage, do cuts only, and do quick dissolves in a really organized and efficient way. And you want it to be solid, you can’t have it crashing all the time. With Adobe, it’s pretty clean and fast to get from, “This is what I want,” to, “There it is.”
Act Of Valor, 2012
Jacob Rosenberg: Throughout Act of Valor, the Bandito Brothers team wielded its extensive technical expertise. They used Adobe Encore® to create Blu-ray discs, .FLV files, and DVDs for review and website presentation. Adobe Media Encoder helped them create Digital Picture Exchange (DPX) digital intermediate files for sending to labs and vendors for finishing.
The team also used Adobe After Effects Warp Stabilizer—a must for easily and automatically stabilizing hand-held HDSLR footage—as well as plug-ins from Re:VisionFX and The Foundry for frame-rate conversions, stabilization, and reducing shutter artifacts. Computer screen mockups were created in Adobe Illustrator®, After Effects, and Adobe Photoshop®. Adobe Photoshop Extended software helped the team generate subtitles for the wide variety of languages used in the film.
Gone Girl, 2014
Gone Girl was shot on the RED Dragon Camera at 6K and was then offlined at 2054 x 1152 (which allowed them to reframe shots and monitor them at 1920 x 800) in Adobe Premiere CC, before being conformed in Adobe Premiere CC and Adobe After Effects CC at 5120 x 2560. All the computers that were used were fitted with Nvidia’s latest Quadro GPUs and all debayering, stabilisation and reframing was performed in real time using a CUDA based version of REDline (no REDRocket cards required)
According to Jeff Brue, CTO of Open Drives, this was the first feature film originated at 6K on the RED Dragon and the first feature edited and conformed on Adobe Premiere CC in this way. The final movie was conformed by nesting After Effects projects into the Premiere timeline eventually reaching the stage where over 80% of the timeline was embedded After Effects projects.
To be able to maintain real time playback in this situation is a testament to the way Adobe have worked together with Nvidia to leverage the GPU using their Mercury Playback Engine, and how Open Drives are able to configure storage arrays that meet the bandwidth and access requirements of a project of this size.
Gareth Edwards: According to Edwards, Adobe Premiere® Pro software supported a tapeless workflow that simplified the ingest process. Edwards imported the same footage directly from his editor’s timeline and set up linked Adobe After Effects projects where he could created rough versions of each shot for pre-visualization that automatically updated in the final film. “For Monsters, I used full cinema resolution at true high definition,” he says. “I could scrub the timeline in Adobe After Effects, and it was like liquid. It flowed perfectly and we did not have to wait long to see renders.”
“Colin and I each had a computer, networked through a fast optical connection,” he explains. “As he created scenes and edited them together, I could open the same projects on my computer and start chipping away at pre-vis or effects. That’s what’s great about Adobe Premiere Pro—I can open the scene that’s cut, right click, and send it to After Effects through Dynamic Link. Our first shot was done in literally half an hour, and people thought it was a live shot, not an effect.”
The editing team decided to use the Adobe suite for their editing workflow. Here is Tyler Nelson on why they chose Adobe Premiere:
“Kirk and I have been using it for years. One of the editors, Byron Smith, came over from House of Cards, which was being cut on [Apple] Final Cut Pro 7, so that was an easy transition for him. We are all fans of Adobe’s approach to the entertainment industry and were on board with using it. In fact, we were running on beta software, which gave us the ability to offer feedback to Adobe on features that will hopefully make it into released products and benefit all Premiere users.”
Sharknado 2: The Second One, 2014
Why choose Premiere for a feature over more established feature tools?
Vashi Nedomansky: I edited Sharknado 2 entirely on Adobe Premiere Pro CC. This is odd because The Asylum is and has always been an Apple Final Cut 7 house. They have around 10 edit bays and all their previous films were cut on FCP 7. Since all the edits are off-lines and their uber-organized post workflow is rock solid…they have yet to change from a system that works for them day in and day out.
I chose to cut on Premiere Pro CC for several reasons. Speed, Stability and No Rendering. The average Asylum film project has 6 layers of video and up to 20 layers of audio during editorial. This includes layers for footage, VFX slugs, ADR slugs, Temp VFX shots and more. Each on its own layer, each formatted a certain to keep consistency throughout the shared project. In a FCP7 project, each time you adjust a layer in this large stack, you usually have to render that chunk for real-time playback. Adjust anything in one of the 20 audio tracks, you need to render or suffer the dreaded “Beep-Beep-Beep” all us editors know only too well. I did not have the time or patience to deal with any delays. Gotta cut now! Gotta keep plowing forward! Gotta finish this scene
Terminator: Dark Fate, 2019
Miller’s debut feature film was edited on Adobe Premiere Pro after a strong recommendation from Gone Girl director David Fincher. Miller and his editorial team knew that Premiere Pro and Creative Cloud were the only choice for the incredibly demanding editing and VFX workflows behind Terminator: Dark Fate.
One of the reasons that Miller insisted on working with Premiere Pro is his long history with Adobe, which began decades ago. Before he became a director of Hollywood blockbusters, Miller was an unknown animator and visual effects artist. Much of his day was spent working on Adobe creative solutions.
Another reason that Premiere Pro was the best choice for this film is its seamless integration with Adobe After Effects. Every movie has visual effects, whether it’s adjusting lighting to create a night shot or replacing the background in a scene. But with a sci-fi action movie like Terminator: Dark Fate, the number of visual effects grows exponentially. Miller and his team handled post-vis temp visual effects in-house using After Effects to make sure that shots worked before sending them to more costly visual effects vendors.
Hail Caesar, 2016
How did you approach making the switch to Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
McQuerrey: We met with Adobe a year before we started editing Hail, Caesar! There were certain tools we had to have because Joel and Ethan work in a very specific way. We gave our feedback to Adobe and they were great about including some of the things we felt were necessary to cut comfortably, such as support for embedded keycode , larger waveforms, and instant clip updates in the Media Browser.
What reaction did you get when you told people you were editing with Premiere Pro?
Farrell: Everyone we talked to was surprised to hear we were working with Premiere Pro. For many editors it is a leap of faith because it means changing from what they know. But as more people like us are successful, more people will realize the benefits of this workflow.
McQuerrey: Editors may be resistant to it until they realize the fluidity of the editing. It is really intuitive and a good editing tool. People may wonder if Premiere Pro can handle a big film. It can.
As sequences came together, the editorial department brought them into Adobe Premiere® Pro software to see the flow from shot to shot and gauge timing. “With Adobe Premiere Pro CS4, we were able to export files from Avid and import them into Adobe Premiere Pro without any loss of information or metadata, significantly reducing the weight on editorials’ shoulders,” says Murtha. “We were essentially working on cuts in parallel with Cameron, without him even knowing it.”
After Effects also powered “Simulcam,” a process pioneered by Virtual Production Designer Glenn Derry, that swapped the green screen with the CG backgrounds generated in Autodesk MotionBuilder 3D character animation software. This allowed Cameron to use his virtual production toolset while shooting live-action and was a great morale booster for the actors, who could see their performances in context. After Effects was also the engine behind the post-viz process of precisely tracking the live-action elements and adding the CG elements, as well as creating full-fledged comps to hand off to vendors such as ILM and WETA Digital for final production.
Rob Legato: “Adobe Premiere Pro is our Swiss Army knife. We can put virtually any file onto the timeline—or mix and match a variety,” says Legato. “The Adobe Mercury Playback Engine decodes just about anything and plays it back so quickly that as soon as we think of an idea, we can all view it and start fine-tuning. Adobe Premiere Pro allows us to do more creative iterations simply by playing out to and from the software. Thanks to Adobe Premiere Pro, we don’t have to wait to process footage, so the creativity keeps flowing without interruption.”
“Tracking isn’t one of my strengths, so now I use Warp Stabilizer in After Effects to stabilize shots instead of turning them over to somebody else,” he says. “Roto Brush is the same way. I can handle isolating objects or replacing backgrounds on my own. It all adds up to the ability to have more creative control and greater speed and finesse.”
There is an ongoing surge of excitement around Adobe’s Creative Cloud in Hollywood, with Premiere Pro at the center. It’ll be interesting to see what other big budget movies and television shows are being edited over the next few years with Premiere Pro.
– Tom R.