Once you’ve created a Prelude project and before you can do anything useful with it, you need to add some content to your project. This is called the Ingest stage. In the world of video production, ingesting media is a basically a fancy term for importing your files from your memory cards or external hard drive into your editing suite. When working with Adobe Prelude however, it deserves its fancy name as it becomes more than ever an involved stage in the pipeline.
Just like Premiere, Prelude has a project view where you can see all the media that has been imported in this project. Just like Premiere, you can create bins to organise your content. To add content to the current bin, just click that big Ingest button, which opens the following window:
It allows you to browse to a directory and select the files you want to ingest, as you’d expect from an import window. But it can do much more than that.
The first thing to notice is that, like a project view, you can move your mouse over a clip to quickly scan what’s happening in it. If you double click on a clip, you can then play it back normally using the JKL commands, and you can even set in and out points which we’ll talk about in a bit.
A cool thing about Prelude is that it deals with pretty much any file format that Premiere can read natively, and that includes audio files and still images. This way I can make sure that my video and audio files stay together so I don’t have to search for them when I need to create my syncs. Speaking of which, I would have really liked if Prelude had an auto-sync feature, a la PluralEyes, automatically creating synced sequences with audio and video so that it’s ready to go when the project in sent to Premiere. In other words, I’d like to see an evolved version of Premiere’s Merge Clips in Prelude.
Also on the wish list is the option of creating image sequences at ingest time, because as it stands, you have to deal with timelapses outside of Prelude, which as a shame as this tool is supposed the one-stop shop before you start editing your video.
Tick all the files you want to add to the Prelude and you’re… not quite ready to hit the Ingest button. Well you could, but bear with me for a moment.
If you look on the right hand side of the ingest window, you can see that there are 3 actions that can be applied to each file you have selected for ingest: Transfer, Add Metadata, and File Rename. They’re all optional, but worth considering to make the most out of Prelude.
Allows you to decide whether you want to leave the files where they are and just add them to the Prelude project, or copy them somewhere else. In my case, the media is more often than not still on the memory card when I’m ingesting media, so I usually want to transfer that to the hard drive. Note that you can put them anywhere you like, as Prelude seems to be quite clever when it comes to re-linking media (just point to one file, it will find the rest). This is useful since it means I don’t have to exactly mirror my folder structure on my laptop and my desktop PC. Having some flexibility is nice.
you can also define a sub-folder to transfer the media in, which can be useful depending on your folder structure. The annoying thing with it is that the sub-folder name defaults to the time when you opened the ingest window, down to the minute. Seriously? Who needs this? This feature would be fantastic if I could define a template for the sub-folder. But at the time of writing, I can’t.
Another thing you can do as you transfer the media is transcode it. I don’t do it as I don’t need it, but I can see the use of this, especially if you have to conform the media coming from different cameras for instance. The presets for transcoding are the ones from Adobe Media Encoder (since it’s Media Encoder which does the transcoding job).
If you decided to put in and out points in the clips you’ve selected for ingest, you’re doing what is called a partial ingest, as only the part of the clip defined by the in and out points will be transferred. And for that you HAVE to transcode your media. I’m a bit puzzled by that to be honest. QuickTime Pro can trim a video clip without having to transcode it, surely Prelude could do the same. Another item on the wishlist.
If you choose to transfer the data without transcoding it, you have the option to add a verification stage which ensure that none of the copied files got corrupt in the process. There are different methods of verifications, living in different places on the spectrum of speed versus thoroughness.
And last but not least, do you see that “Add destination” button? It gives you the ability to transfer your data to several locations at the same time, effectively allowing you to backup your media as you ingest. All the options mentioned above are tweakable for each destination, so for instance you can transfer the media to 2 different locations with two different codecs (e.g. a “work” codec and an “archive” codec).
This one is pretty much self explanatory. You can add custom metadata to files you’re ingesting. Custom being the operative word here. Unfortunately, this action doesn’t let you set some of the default XMP metadata (such as copyright info, Camera label, etc.), so unless you work in a company that uses tools requiring the media to be tagged in a certain way, you’ll probably never use that feature.
Hands down the single most useful feature of the ingest process with Prelude is the ability to rename the files you’re ingesting (even if you’re not transferring them). This is where I can turn MVI_XXX.mp4 into something useful (as we already discussed). You can create naming templates, so that you can save your naming conventions, which can leverage some of the metadata.
I do find that template creation a bit lacking, though. For instance I’d like to be able to define text constants, so that the user (me) doesn’t to remember to include those pesky underscores. It would also be nice being able to rename the fields where the user has to input some text. I sound like I’m complaining a lot, but it’s still much better than renaming the files manually, one clip at a time.
Eat Sleep Ingest Repeat
My folder structure and file naming conventions make that for a given memory card (or other media source), not all files will be copied to the same folder and named following the same pattern. So ingesting the content of a memory card can take several ingest passes (at least with my workflow). In theory, this isn’t a problem as the actual ingest happens in the background, and while it’s happening you can work on something else (such as preparing the next ingest pass). In reality, when you re-open the ingest window, Prelude has to reprocess all the files on the memory card, which is already busy transferring files, making everything a bit slower.
Because I can’t tell clips apart by their name, I have to wait until the processing is finished. I would have liked to be able to queue ingest tasks from the same window.
One notable feature is that you can ingest several folders at the same time (provided they share the same parent folder), in which case, Prelude will create one bin per folder, and ingest content accordingly. This can be practical if you decide to start using Prelude on a project that was already organised in folders. In other situations, this has a tendency of throwing a spanner in the works. For instance, my Zoom H6 puts each recording session in its own folder (for arguably valid reasons), meaning I have to either ingest my audio clips one by one, or move them to a temporary location so I can ingest them all at once. If Prelude offered the option to flatten the folder hierarchy on ingest, it would save me quite some time.
At the end of the day, chances are you will see the Ingest window quite a lot if you wish to make the most of what Adobe Prelude has to offer. After all, it’s not a coincidence if the Ingest button is always easily accessible. The process could be smoother, but none of the issues I’ve outlined have to do with the core concepts of the application, and all of them could be addressed in a future update. Despite these, I really like how Prelude is helping me organise my content. Below is a recap of my wishlist for the ingest process, which I will update as and when (if) they get implemented.
- Ability to auto match and sync video and audio clips (PluralEyes style). Replace audio track or create synced sequence (with automatic trimming/padding).
- Ability to ingest image sequences, for timelapses.
- Name templates for the subfolder when transferring media.
- Partial ingest without transcoding.
- Fill in standard XMP metadata fields at ingest time.
- Ability to rename custom text labels in File Rename templates.
- Ability to add text constants to file rename templates.
- Ability to prepare several batches of ingest without having to re-process the folder.
- Ability to “flatten” the hierarchy when ingesting several folders in one go.