Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 offers a full array of export options—methods of recording your projects to tape, converting them to files, or burning them to DVDs.
Recording to tape is straightforward, while file creation has many more options. For example, you can record only the audio portion of your project; convert a video segment or entire project into one of many standard file formats; or export still frames, sequences of still frames, or animation files.
Of greater relevance are the higher-level video encoding formats available in Adobe Media Encoder. You’ll use that powerful tool to create projects for posting on a web site, for burning to multimedia CDs, or for exporting to mobile devices using the new Adobe Device Central CS5 software. If you need to create Flash Video for web sites, you can export Flash Video with web markers. Adobe Media Encoder is a stand-alone application that handles exports in batches, so you can export in several formats simultaneously and process in the background while you work on other applications, including Adobe Premiere Pro.
Overview of export options
When you complete a project, you have a number of export choices:
- You can select a single frame, a series of frames, a clip, or an entire sequence.
- You can choose audio-only, video-only, or full audio/video output.
- You can export directly to videotape; create a file for viewing on a computer or the Internet; or put your project on a DVD with or without a complete set of menus, buttons, and other DVD features.
Beyond the actual export formats, you can set several other parameters as well:
- Any files you choose to create can be at the same visual quality and data rate as your original media, or they can be compressed.
- You need to specify the frame size, frame rate, data rate, and audio and video compression techniques.
You can use exported files for further editing, in presentations, as streaming media for Internet and other networks, or as sequences of images to create animations.
Checking out export options
The first step in exploring export options, naturally, is opening a project with some content to export.
- Start Adobe Premiere Pro, and open Lesson 20-1.prproj.
- Click somewhere in the Sequence 01 Timeline to select the sequence.
- Choose File > Export.
Adobe Premiere Pro offers seven export options (some options might be dimmed because of the particulars of the content you’re exporting):
Media: Selecting this option opens the Export Settings dialog, which allows you to export to all popular media formats.
Title: Since Adobe Premiere Pro stores Titler-created objects in the project file, the only way to use the same title in more than one project is to export it as a file. To use this option, you need to select a title in the Project panel.
Tape: This option transfers your project to tape.
EDL: Use this to create an edit decision list (EDL) to take your project to a production studio for further editing.
OMF: This option exports active audio tracks from an Adobe Premiere Pro sequence to an Open Media Format (OMF) file that programs such as DigiDesign Pro Tools can import if the DigiTranslator feature is licensed.
AAF: This option exports to an Advanced Authoring Format (AAF) file that allows you to exchange digital media and metadata between platforms, systems, and applications, such as the Avid Media Composer.
Final Cut Pro XML: This option exports an XML file that you can import into Apple Final Cut Pro for further editing.
Recording to tape
If you captured your original video from DV or HDV tape, you may want to write the finished project back to tape for safekeeping. If so, follow the steps listed here.
You can use an analog tape recorder without video control, but doing so takes some extra effort. That will be explained later in this lesson.
- Connect your DV or HDV camcorder to your computer, just as you did when you captured the video.
- Turn it on, and set it to VCR or VTR (not to Camera, as you might expect).
- Cue the tape to where you want to start recording.
- Select the sequence you want to record.
- Choose File > Export > Tape.
If you’re working with a DV camcorder, you’ll see the Export to Tape dialog shown here.
Here’s a rundown of options:
Activate Recording Device: When you select this option, Adobe Premiere Pro will control your DV device. Deselect it if you want to record to a device that you’ll control manually.
Assemble at timecode: Select this option to pick an In point on the tape where you want recording to begin. When this option is not selected, recording will begin at the current tape location.
Delay movie start by x frames: This is for the few DV recording devices that need a brief period of time between receiving the video signal and recording it. Check your device’s manual to see what the manufacturer recommends.
Preroll x frames: Most decks need little or no time to get to the proper tape recording speed. To be on the safe side, select 150 frames (5 seconds), or add black video to the start of your project (see the previous “Bars and tone or black video” tip).
The remaining options are self-explanatory.
- Click Record (or Cancel if you don’t want to make a recording).
If you haven’t rendered your project (by pressing Enter for playback instead of the spacebar), Adobe Premiere Pro does that now. When rendering is complete, Adobe Premiere Pro starts your camcorder and records your project to it.
Recording to an analog recorder without device control
To record to an analog machine without device control, set up your camcorder for recording.
- Render the sequence or portion you want to record by pressing Enter.
- Play the sequence to make sure you see it displayed on your external recording device.
- Cue your tape to where you want recording to begin, position the Timeline current-time indicator to where you want playback from your sequence to begin, press the Record button on your device, and play the sequence.
- When the sequence or segment finishes, click the Stop button in the Program Monitor and then stop the tape on the device.
Exporting single frames
Oftentimes, you’ll want to export single or multiple frames from your video projects. Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 has a new simplified workflow for still-image export, as well as the tried-and-true multiple-frame export via Adobe Media Encoder. Let’s look at the new Export Frame function.
Exporting a single frame via the Export Frame function
Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 has a new, simplified workflow for exporting single frames. Note that you can use the Export Frame function both in the Source panel, with content selected from the Project panel, and in the Program Monitor, with a frame selected from the active sequence. When using the Export Frame function from the Source panel, Adobe Premiere Pro will create a still image that matches the resolution of the source video file. When using the Export Frame function from the Timeline, Adobe Premiere Pro will create a still image that matches the resolution of the selected video sequence.
- In the Program Monitor, click the Export Frame button on the lower right.
- In the Export Frame dialog, choose the desired filename, still-image format, and path, clicking the Browse button to open the Browse for Folder dialog.
- Click OK to export the frame.
Using the Export Settings dialog
Whenever you choose File > Export > Media, Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 opens the Export Settings dialog, which is where you create all stand-alone still-image, audio, and video files.
- If necessary, open Lesson 20-1.prproj.
- Choose File > Export Media.
Let’s spend a few minutes looking over this important dialog, with a particular focus on new, modified, or particularly important features and options.
It’s best to work through the Export Settings dialog from the top down, first choosing your format and presets, then the output, and finally deciding whether you’d like to export audio, video, or both.
- Choose the FLV|F4V format and the F4V-Web Large, NTSC Source preset. This doesn’t match our sequence setting precisely but will expose some of the issues that you’ll face when working with the Export Settings dialog and Adobe Media Encoder.
- Note that the tabs presented on the bottom right of the Export Settings dialog will vary by format. Most of the critical options
are contained on the Format, Video, and Audio tabs, and the options here will vary by format as well. Here’s an overview of
the various tabs:
Filters: The filter available for encoded output is Gaussian Blur. Enabling this filter reduces the video noise introduced by slightly blurring the video. Export the project without this filter to see whether noise is a problem. If it is, increase noise reduction in small amounts. Increasing noise reduction too much will make the video blurry.
Format: This determines the type of stream to which the video and audio are multiplexed.
Video: The Video tab allows you to adjust the frame size, frame rate, field order, and profile. The default values are based on the preset you chose. Note that in this case, if you were outputting the video for actual deployment, you would want to change your Frame Height setting to 360 to eliminate the letterboxes shown in the figure, or choose a wide-screen preset. You would also want to change the Frame Rate setting to 23.976 to match your sequence setting and source footage.
Audio: The Audio tab allows you to adjust the bit rate of the audio and, for some formats, the codec. The default values are based on the preset you chose.
FTP: This tab primarily allows you to specify an FTP server for uploading the exported video when it is finished encoding. Fill in the appropriate FTP values supplied by your FTP host if you want to enable this feature.
- Moving to the left side of the Export Settings dialog, look over the Source Settings drop-down list, where you can choose to export the work area bar selected in the sequence, a region selected using the handles directly above the drop-down list, or the entire sequence. This is useful when you want to export selected regions on the Timeline rather than the entire sequence.
- Also on the left, note the Source/Output tabs, the latter of which shows a preview of the video to be encoded. It’s useful
to view the video on the Output tab to catch errors like the letterboxing shown in the previous figure.
In terms of new or modified features, here are some highlights:
Match Sequence Settings check box: This is a no-muss, no-fuss way to export the edited sequence using the settings selected for the sequence. For example, let’s say you shot your video in DVCPROHD 1080p24 and chose that format/resolution for your sequence preset. If you wanted to render video out in that format, just click the Match Sequence Settings check box, and Adobe Premiere Pro will output in that format.
Use Maximum Render Quality: This option was available in Adobe Premiere Pro CS4, but only via the Export Settings wing menu. Consider enabling this setting whenever scaling from larger to smaller formats during rendering, but note that this option requires more RAM than normal rendering and can slow rendering by a factor of four or five.
Use Previews: This option, also available only in the wing menu in Adobe Premiere Pro CS4, uses previews created while producing your project as the starting point for the final rendered file, rather than rendering all video and effects from scratch. This can speed encoding time but can also degrade quality when rendering to a format different from your sequence preset. For example, if you used HDV as your sequence preset and were outputting to Flash in H.264 format, basing the H.264 encoding on HDV-encoded preview files may degrade the quality slightly. (If you were rendering from scratch, Adobe Premiere Pro would send uncompressed frames to Adobe Media Encoder rather than HDV-encoded video.)
Use Frame Blending: Enable this option to smooth motion whenever you change the speed of a source clip in your project or render to a different frame rate than your sequence setting.
Metadata: Click this button to open the Metadata panel.
Export: Select this option to export directly from the Export Settings dialog rather than rendering via Adobe Media Encoder. This is a simpler workflow, but you won’t be able to edit in Adobe Premiere Pro until the rendering is complete.
Queue: Click the Queue button to send the file to the Adobe Media Encoder, which should open automatically.
Working with Adobe Media Encoder
Adobe Media Encoder is a stand-alone application that can be run by itself or can be launched from Adobe Premiere Pro. Working from within Adobe Premiere Pro, after you choose your export settings and click OK, Adobe Media Encoder adds your export to its queue.
In addition to sequences loaded from Adobe Premiere Pro (like the second file in the batch shown in the previous figure), Adobe Media Encoder can also encode from several sources.
For example, it can encode stand-alone files of multiple formats added to the batch by choosing File > Add. The final file in the batch shown in the previous figure was added via this technique.
You can also import and encode compositions from Adobe After Effects by choosing File > Add After Effects Composition, and you can import sequences from Adobe Premiere Pro by choosing File > Add Premiere Pro Sequence. The third file in the previously shown batch is an Adobe Premiere Pro sequence loaded from Lesson 15-5.prproj.
You can also create watch folders by choosing File > Create Watch Folder and then assigning a preset to that watch folder. Source files dragged into the folder later will be automatically encoded to the format specified in the preset.
You choose a Format/Preset separately with each approach, and once the encoding tasks are loaded into Adobe Media Encoder, administration is straightforward. To change any encoding setting, you click the target task and then the Settings button on the right.
You can add, duplicate, or remove any tasks by using the like-named buttons and drag any tasks that haven’t yet started encoding to any place in the queue. If you haven’t set the queue to start automatically, click the Start Queue button to start encoding. Adobe Media Encoder encodes files serially, rather than in parallel, and if you add any files to the queue after starting encoding, they’ll be encoded as well.
Speaking of setting the queue to start automatically, this is a critical new feature to the Adobe Media Encoder CS5 that you control in the Preferences dialog by choosing Edit > Preferences (Windows) or Premiere Pro > Preferences (Mac OS). Specifically, check the “Start queue automatically when idle for: x minutes” box, dial in the desired delay time, and Adobe Media Encoder will start encoding automatically after the specified time expires. This is a critical enhancement to watch folder functionality. In previous versions, you had to click Start Queue to begin encoding, which prevented unattended operation. Now, if you have access to a designated shared folder on a network, you can encode files immediately without any action on your part—a very significant enhancement.
You can also preview while encoding via the “Preview while encoding” check box, which is a nice option that lets you check for errors during encoding and supplements the encoding progress bar to let you know how your encoding is progressing. You can also use the Preferences dialog to select a default output folder and many other options.
Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 can export in a number of formats; let’s run through them quickly to identify when you should use them.
Audio Interchange File Format: This is an audio-only file format popular on the Mac.
Microsoft AVI: This “container format,” available only in the Windows version of Premiere Pro, can store files using multiple compression technologies, or codecs. It’s useful for storing SD files in DV format, but it’s no longer used as a distribution format and is rarely used by HD producers.
Windows Bitmap: This is an uncompressed, rarely used still-image format with a .bmp extension. It’s available only on the Windows version of Premiere Pro.
DPX: DPX stands for Digital Picture Exchange and is a high-end still-image format for digital intermediate and special-effects work.
Animated GIF and GIF: These compressed still-image and animated formats are used primarily on the web. Available only on the Windows version of Premiere Pro.
JPEG: This is the most popular compressed still-image format for the Internet and other uses.
MP3: This compressed audio format is very popular on the Internet.
P2 Movie: This output option is used for rendering sequences back to P2 cards.
PNG: This is a lossless but efficient still-image format for Internet use.
QuickTime: This container format can store files using multiple codecs. All QuickTime files use the .mov extension and it is the preferred format for use on Macintosh computers.
Targa: This is a rarely used uncompressed still-image file format.
TIFF: This popular high-quality still-image format offers both lossy and lossless compression options.
Uncompressed Microsoft AVI: This is a very high-bit-rate intermediate format that is not widely used and is available only on the Windows version of Premiere Pro.
Windows Waveform (.wav files): This uncompressed audio file format is popular on Windows computers.
Audio Only: With this option, you can produce files in the Advanced Audio Coding format (the audio codec used with most H.264 encoding).
FLV|F4V: This is the only option for producing Flash output to be played back with Flash Player. It includes two options: F4V files that use the H.264 video codec/AAC audio codec and FLV files that use the VP6 video codec/MP3 audio codec.
H.264: This is the most flexible and widely used format today, with options for devices such as the iPod/iPhone and Apple TV, TiVo Series3 SD and HD, and services such as YouTube and Vimeo. H.264 files produced via this option can also be transmitted to smartphones, such as Android, Blackberry, and Palm devices, or used as high-quality, high-bit-rate intermediate files for working in other video editors. It’s also popular for encoding files for uploading to online video providers such as Brightcove and other user-generated content sites like Blip.tv. H.264 encoding produces files with the standard .mp4 extension.
H.264 Blu-ray: This option produces files for including on Blu-ray Discs.
MPEG4: Selecting this codec produces lower-quality H.263 3GP files for distribution to older cell phones.
MPEG2: This older file format is primarily used for DVD and Blu-ray Discs. Presets in this group allow you to produce files that can be distributed for playback on your own or other computers, but H.264 generally produces better quality at a smaller file size.
MPEG2-DVD and MPEG2 Blu-ray: These formats are to be used when producing files for burning onto an optical disc.
Windows Media: This option produces MWV files for playback using the Windows Media Player and on some devices like the Zune (Windows only).
That’s only a brief overview of the formats, but it should provide some useful direction when it’s time to produce your videos.
Using the formats
Let’s reverse this approach and take a user-centric view, identifying the use of the video and then pointing toward a format and preset. There are few absolutes, but these should get you in the ballpark. Just to state the blindingly obvious, try whatever option you choose with a short file first to test the workflow, before going live with it.
Uploading to a web site for Flash deployment: When you choose the FLV|F4V format, choose an FLV preset for producing the file with the older On2 VP6 codec, and choose F4V for the newer, higher-quality H.264 format. If you don’t know which format to use, go with F4V. In terms of resolution, the 720p Source, Half Size presets in both F4V and FLV formats encode your video at 740×360 (for HD source), which is a nice conservative resolution that should look quite good. Check with your web administrator for the format, resolution, data rate, and other details.
Encoding for DVD/Blu-ray: Use MPEG2 for both, namely, MPEG2-DVD for DVD and MPEG2 Blu-ray for Blu-ray Discs. MPEG2 looks indistinguishable from H.264 in these high-bit-rate applications and will encode much, much faster. Better yet, input your sequence without rendering in Encore (choose File > Adobe Dynamic Link > Import Adobe Premiere Pro Sequence).
Encoding for devices: Use the H.264 format for current devices (Apple iPod/iPhone, Apple TV, and TiVo), as well as some generic 3GPP presets; use MPEG4 for older MPEG4-based devices, and use Windows Media for Zune. When encoding for smartphones, find the manufacturer’s specifications, and make sure the files that you produce don’t exceed these specs. As you’ll see, Adobe Device Central can help in this regard.
Encoding for uploading to user-generated video sites: H.264 has presets for YouTube and Vimeo in wide-screen, SD, and HD. Use these presets as a starting point for your service, being careful to observe resolution, file size, and duration limits.
Encoding for online video platforms (OVPs) such as Brightcove and Kaltura: Typically, H.264 is the highest-quality format. Check the recommendations and requirements of your service provider, and check the YouTube and Vimeo presets as a guide.
Encoding for editing in other applications: Export to Final Cut Pro XML (File > Export > Final Cut Pro XML) for Final Cut Pro, and try the AAF format (File > Export > AAF) for Avid Media Composer. If these options don’t work, use either QuickTime or Microsoft AVI format for SD files, using the DV codec. For HD formats, try creating a file by selecting the Match Sequence Settings check box, which will render in your acquisition format (if that’s what you used for the sequence). If that option isn’t available, encode in high-resolution, high-data-rate H.264, using the QuickTime format for Final Cut Pro; however, there are no presets, so you’ll be on your own when it comes to choosing encoding parameters. For other applications, use the H.264 format, which most editors now support.
Windows Media or Silverlight deployment: The Windows Media format is your safest option, though more recent versions of Silverlight can play H.264 files. If producing H.264 for Silverlight, follow the Flash rules provided earlier, since Silverlight should play any file produced for Flash.
In general, the Adobe Premiere Pro presets are proven and will work for your intended purpose. Don’t adjust parameters when encoding for devices or optical discs, because changes that seem subtle can render the files unplayable. Even with other presets, resist the urge to tinker unless you know what you’re doing from an encoding perspective. Most Adobe Premiere Pro presets are conservative and will deliver very good quality using the default values, so you probably won’t improve the output by tinkering, and you could even degrade it considerably.
Now let’s work through a specific example of producing a file for a mobile device.
Exporting to mobile devices
With the array of mobile devices that support video, it would be nice if there were a way to see what a video project would look like on various mobile devices. That is exactly what Adobe Device Central is designed to provide. In this exercise, you will export your project to Adobe Device Central and see how your video looks on various mobile devices.
Most mobile devices, such as iPods and 3GPP (third-generation) cell phones, support video encoded in the H.264 format. Two flavors of H.264 are available in the Adobe Media Encoder Format menu:
H.264: This is an MPEG4–based standard for encoding for a variety of devices, including high-definition displays, 3GPP cell phones, video iPods, and PlayStation Portable (PSP) devices.
H.264 Blu-ray: This is an MPEG4–based standard for encoding in high-definition for Blu-ray Disc media.
You’ll be using H.264 for this exercise.
- Make sure your Timeline sequence is selected in Lesson 20-1.prproj; then choose File > Export > Media.
- Select H.264 as the encoding format.
- Open the Preset menu.
Notice the variety of mobile devices set up for easy export. For example, it’s easy to create video that will play on the Apple iPod by choosing the iPod preset.
Many popular mobile device presets are already listed, and you can create or fine-tune your own presets. You’ll work with a generic preset for now.
- Choose the 3GPP 320 × 240 15fps preset, which you can test on multiple devices.
- Make sure the Open in Device Central option (shown here) is selected.
- Name the file, and click Queue. This adds the export to the Adobe Media Encoder queue. Click Start Queue to process the file.
If the files from the previous section are still encoding, the H.264 export will start when they are finished.
Adobe Device Central launches. The available devices are listed in the left panel of Adobe Device Central by category or manufacturer. If no manufacturers are listed, click the Browse button on the upper right to browse for devices online, and drag the devices (shown below) into the Test Devices panel.
- Click Emulate Video to return to the Emulation workspace.
- Double-click the BlackBerry Bold 9700 device. This loads your encoded video into an emulation of that device.
- In the right panel under Scaling, experiment with the various modes, clicking the Play button under the phone emulation to see how the video will appear.
- Choose different options from the Reflections menu under Display to see how the video might look under different lighting conditions.
- Double-click Asus P527 to see how the video will look on this phone with a smaller screen.
- Quit Adobe Device Central. Remember your exported encoded file is in the file location you chose in the export options.
Exporting to Final Cut Pro
At a high level, exporting from Premiere Pro to Final Cut Pro—and importing the XML file into Final Cut Pro—is simple.
- To begin, in Adobe Premiere Pro, choose File > Export > Final Cut Pro XML. Click Yes to save your project.
- In the Final Cut Pro XML - Save Converted Project As dialog, name the file, and click Save. Adobe Premiere Pro will let you know whether there were any issues exporting the XML.
- In Final Cut Pro, choose File > Import > XML, locate the file, and click Choose. Final Cut Pro presents a simple dialog and will let you know whether any problems arose during import.
As always, though, the devil is in the details—specifically, the file formats supported by the two programs. If you’re working in DV files in either AVI or QuickTime format, your results should be quite good. Unfortunately, if you’ve migrated to the HD world, which most producers have, you’re probably going to run into some issues, specifically because Adobe Premiere Pro and Apple Final Cut Pro have completely different file-compatibility philosophies.
That is, Final Cut Pro can import any file that you want so long as it’s in a QuickTime wrapper with an MOV format. Conversely, the Adobe way is to import all files natively. With many (if not most) HD formats, this means that files imported into Adobe Premiere Pro projects may not work in Final Cut Pro. Final Cut Pro will display the file in the Timeline with the proper In and Out points, but the media will be offline. The solution is to reimport the files into Final Cut Pro and then relink the files, which can be very time-consuming.
Working with edit decision lists
An edit decision list (EDL) harkens back to the days when small hard drives limited the size of your video files and slower processors meant you could not play full-resolution video. To remedy this, editors used low-resolution files in a non-linear editor like Adobe Premiere Pro, edited their project, exported that to an EDL, and then took that text file and their original tapes down to a production studio. They’d use expensive switching hardware to create the finished, full-resolution product.
These days, there isn’t much call for that kind of offline work, but filmmakers still use EDLs because of the size of the files and other complexities associated with going from film to video and back to film.
If you plan to use an EDL, you need to keep your project within some narrow guidelines:
- EDLs work best with projects that contain no more than one video track, two stereo (or four mono) audio tracks, and no nested sequences.
- Most standard transitions, frame holds, and clip-speed changes work well in EDLs.
- Adobe Premiere Pro supports a key track for titles or other content. That track has to be immediately above the video track selected for export.
- You must capture and log all the source material with accurate timecodes.
- The capture card must have a device control that uses a timecode.
- Videotapes must each have a unique reel number and be formatted with the timecode before you shoot the video to ensure there are no breaks in the timecode.
To view the EDL options, choose File > Export > EDL, which opens the EDL Export Settings dialog.
Your options are as follows:
EDL Title: This specifies a title to appear in the first line of the EDL file.
Start Timecode: Here you set the starting timecode value for the first edit in the sequence.
Include Video Levels: This includes video opacity–level comments in the EDL.
Include Audio Levels: This includes audio-level comments in the EDL.
Audio Processing: Here you specify when audio processing should occur. Options are Audio Follows Video, Audio Separately, and Audio At End.
Tracks To Export: This specifies which tracks to export. The video track directly above the video track selected for export is designated as the key track.