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How to Optimize Your VFX Workflow in Premiere Pro

How to Optimize Your VFX Workflow in Premiere Pro

Knowing where to begin is key when it comes to optimizing your VFX workflow in Premiere Pro.

From media ingest to final export, Adobe’s Creative Cloud gives you the tools you need for producing a professional Hollywood film. At the core of Adobe’s products is Premiere Pro, where your footage, visual effects, color grading, graphics, and sound all come together.  

In the video production industry, it’s tempting to think only in terms of a siloed workflow. “I’m an editor, so I’ll cut some dailies together and render out clips for the VFX team.”

However, working in Adobe’s Creative Cloud enables non-destructive editing across an industry-leading NLE with a seamless experience within a powerful VFX environment - and even offers a ton of compatibility with third-party software to align with your workflow. 

Should VFX Artists Learn Premiere Pro?

While many VFX artists primarily use After Effects for post-production work, Premiere Pro is a great asset for the visual effects team to use for collaborating with editors throughout the filmmaking process. 

Not only can Premiere Pro offer insightful metadata to the VFX team, but it also gives editors a great way to generate direction for VFX artists. Because of dynamic linking with After Effects, Premiere Pro is a program VFX artists need to be incredibly familiar with, in order to work efficiently and productively with their team, and other studios.  

In addition to all of the above reasons for using Premiere Pro in a VFX environment, VFX artists can also use it to lay out their sequences and prioritize them in post for round-tripping to After Effects.

Best Practices for Working in Premiere Pro

Karl Soule provides a great look into Hollywood best practices in Premiere Pro in his speech below:
Here are some key takeaways from the presentation:
  • How you begin your workflow determines your project’s success in the end
  • Utilize .ALE files for logging and linking metadata to footage from dailies (now your VFX artist has insight on which clips need VFX work)
  • Use multi-camera source sequences to quickly link audio and video
  • Premiere offers a lot of flexibility for various aspect ratios for framing correction and interesting sequences
  • Utilize split-screen compositions to bring the best takes from your actors into a single sequence
  • Editors can use Premiere Pro to generate rough cuts of compositions for VFX artists to refine and complete in After Effects with dynamic linking
  • Premiere Pro has an awesome list of modifiable keyboard shortcuts in the Keyboard Shortcuts menu, and features more shortcuts than there are keys on a keyboard
  • The function, Make Subsequence from In to Out brings everything from your in and out positions into a single subsequence in the source monitor, allowing you to preview and shift entire scenes throughout your project’s timeline (including all effects and audio) - especially handy for VFX artists

How to Edit Faster with Premiere Pro

It’s no secret that proxy files are critical to the timely delivery of high quality assets for film production, and if you haven’t made a habit of using proxy files when necessary, you absolutely should.

Matt Johnson offers an in-depth look at his workflow for working with 4k, 6k, even 8k footage in Premiere Pro in the video below:
Matt’s Premiere Pro preset for working quickly with proxy files can be downloaded from his website.

How to Work with VFX in Premiere Pro

Mission Impossible: Fallout editor, Eddie Hamilton ACE, recently released his AVID project template for the film, which was an incredibly complex and streamlined look at what Hollywood editors and VFX artists live in on a daily basis.

Vashi Nedomansky has used Premiere Pro for his work on Hollywood blockbusters like Gone Girl and Deadpool, and took inspiration from Eddie’s timeline to release a Premiere Pro version of it, which you can see in action below:
It’s important to note the tip he shows on how you can display track titles within Premiere Pro, because even though he is a Hollywood editor, Vashi’s blog says he had to reach out to Adobe for help on finding this functionality.
You can see how helpful it is for VFX to be integrated into a Premiere Pro timeline in this fashion, and how much flexibility it allows the director and rest of the team to have when working with VFX.

The Premiere Pro project can be downloaded from the site.

“The key to successfully editing feature films is starting with a project timeline that will handle all your assets cleanly over the arduous months of post-production. No matter what NLE you use for editing…the principles of organization and efficient workflow remain the same.” -Vashi Nedomansky

Regardless of your current level in your VFX/filmmaking career, project organization and streamlined processes like these should be a staple of your day-to-day work.  We hope these tools empower you to be more organized, edit more quickly, and be successful!

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