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Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2015 review: Extending video editing beyond the desktop

Alan Stafford | June 17, 2015
Last year, as I was sprinting down the street trying to stay ahead of six angry bulls in Pamplona, Spain, I held my phone behind me to capture some video of the experience, all the while thinking, how am I going to color-correct this video? And then I looked up at the beautiful old buildings facing the street and thought, hey, that palette would really work well with the talking-head videos I had been editing in my hotel room the night before. But how to capture those colors and reuse them? Thankfully, Adobe has solutions for these vexing problems in the latest version of its video-editing application, Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2015.

The Lumetri Color panel has a large number of controls, many of which overlap with other color controls--some are even named the same--but they often do not do the same thing or with the same power. For example, you can add the Three-Way Color Corrector as an effect to a video, and you can add Lumetri Color as an effect, too. Both have color wheels for shadows, midtones, and highlights, but using similar settings in each and then toggling between them will show dramatically different results. Furthermore, the Lumetri Color panel uses check marks to enable or disable settings, whereas most other effects use the "fx" icon. You cannot set keyframes in the Lumetri Color panel, either; for that, you must use the Effects Controls panel.

The point of the Lumetri Color panel, I think, is not color correction, though you can certainly use it for that. Premiere Pro CC 2015 has plenty of color correction tools, including the aforementioned Three-Way Color Corrector. Rather, I suggest that Lumetri Color is better suited for creating and applying bold, atmospheric styles, feels, looks--sepia, noir, cold and gray--not for trying to achieve spot-on, accurate color. Think Minority Report or Sin City, not the nightly news.

Premiere Pro CC 2015's updated task-oriented workspaces are a little more useful than workspaces in the past. You can still switch among them, choosing from standbys like Editing, Effects, or Audio, and a new Color one, all of which are optimized for their respective functions, and you can create your own custom workspaces. You do not have to go to a menu, either--a list appears in a small horizontal menu at the top of the screen.

A little magic with the makeup

Adobe has added two new features to help your talking-head videos shine. Face Tracker lets you draw a mask on a face and then apply effects to the mask, even as the face moves (within limits, of course). This seems like an enhancement of the Masking and Tracking feature introduced in Premiere Pro 2014, which was mainly for applying identity-hiding masks. Now, you can use it for more precise effects, such as-changing eye color, applying a nice tan, or making steam burst from one's nostrils. As with most such effects, I found that it worked best with a person looking directly at the camera. A fun extra: You can export the Face Tracker data for use in Adobe's new Character Animator, a feature found in Adobe After Effects CC 2015. You can make weird facial expressions, save them, then apply them to an animated character, which will then mimic your expressions.

When editing talking-head video, often we want to edit out the ahs, ums, and the boring parts--which does not leave much left over, but you work with what you have got. Premiere Pro's new Morph Cut can help disguise the transition between two clips--but only if they are of people's faces. It won't even let you try it on, say, beach scenes. I found that it worked well as long as the face in the preceding clip was positioned close to where it was in the subsequent clip.

 

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