Once you’ve ingested your media into Prelude, you can finally get started on what is the bread and butter of Adobe Prelude: logging content. This stage of the process is about adding extra information (metadata) to your clips, ranging from a description of the content, to the camera angle that was used.This is all in the name of making your life easier when you look for clips when you put your edit together. There are two ways to log content in Prelude: File Metadata, and markers. If you’re considering using Prelude, chances are it’s for the marker logging feature. But before we look into it, let’s see how that information can be of use once in Premiere.
As you may know, you can customise the project view in Premiere to display whatever kind of file metadata is relevant to your workflow. For instance, here’s the display I use (at the time of writing) to help me select clips when making an edit:
This way, I get more descriptive information about a shot than I can get from the thumbnail. Also, it saves me having to use a very complex file naming convention to get that info in the file name. Those metadata fields are there, I might as well use them. Note that this display configuration is not a general Premiere setting but is tied to the open project. That said, You can save that as a preset so you can re-use it in different projects.
The balancing act of media logging for a solo filmmaker
You may have noted that in the above screenshot, I didn’t fill in every field for every clip. There are two reasons for this. First, the field is not always applicable. For instance, I can’t really set a shot size if I’ve been zooming in and out when filming the clip. The second reason was that I did the rough cut of that edit within Prelude (did I mention you can make rough cuts in Prelude? I have now) at a time when the content was fresh in my mind so the metadata wasn’t as useful.
Which brings me to one very important point. Logging media properly takes a significant amount of time (it’s an actual full time job), so if you’re working solo, you have to strike a balance between the time you spend on it and the benefits you get out of it. Prelude makes the process faster, but you can still spend weeks logging media if you allow it.
It’s only as useful as the actual use you make of the metadata. I mean that there’s no point filling in a field if you realise that neither you or anyone you collaborate with actually uses the star ratings or the shot size. It’s up to you to figure out which metadata is useful to you.
I’ve customised my Prelude “List” workspace for easy editing of file metadata. I’ve also customised the metadata window to only display the metadata I might want to fill in. Technically speaking, you could do that in Premiere too, but the idea of using Prelude is that you haven’t moved your media across to a Premiere project yet, so you might as well do this in Prelude. Also, Prelude deals with clip markers far better than Premiere’s Source Monitor. Speaking of markers…
The other way of adding information to a clip is by using markers. Basically, it’s making a note of when something happens in the clip, and for how long it’s happening. They’re really useful to find and extract bits of a clip to put them in your sequence. I find those invaluable for editing interviews. You can also colour code your markers to categorise the type of content.
As you can see, the source monitor in Premiere doesn’t deal very well with overlapping markers, And adding markers with a duration just isn’t that nice to do in this interface. Plus we’re going back to the idea that once I’m in Premiere, all I want to do is edit, and that all the logging has already happened.
This is where Prelude reveals all its strength, and as I mentioned in the introduction, Prelude’s marker editing capability is really its selling point.
The first thing to notice on the timeline is that overlapping markers are displayed on separate lines, making it easy to spot all of them, even when you select one.
Then there is that big tag window. The idea is that as the clip plays, you click on the buttons to add markers with a predefined colour and duration. There is an app that even allows you to do it on set during recording, but for some reason, Adobe has decided to only release it for iPad (not even iPhone, just iPad)…
You can customise your tag list however you want, and create several tag sets that you can switch back and forth in a couple of clicks.
You can also assign keyboard shortcuts to some tags, allowing you to log faster. The idea is nice, but for them to work, the tag window needs to have the focus, which isn’t convenient with my workflow as I move back and forth between the tag window, the timeline and the Marker Inspector. If your tags are simple, you can log a clip in one playback, which is pretty cool. My logging conventions aren’t quite clearly define yet, but the more I’ll be using Prelude, the more I’ll know what information I want.
While tags seem the recommended way of adding clip markers in Prelude, you do have the option to add markers “manually”. Pressing 2 during playback will create a marker for which you can immediately type in the description and the edit the out point. This can be useful if you can’t be bother to create a tag for the comment you want to add. That said, it doesn’t seem possible to edit the colour code of tags added this way. It may or may not be a problem for you.
To subclip or not to subclip
Another potentially cool feature of Prelude is it’s capability to create subclips. In exactly the same way you create those “manual” clip markers, you can create subclips with the press of a key. I say potentially cool, because I gave up trying to use them after a while. Mind you, the feature works extremely well and there’s simply no other place in the entire Adobe suite where creating subclips is as time efficient as in Prelude. But because of Prelude’s integration with Premiere (which deserves its own blog post) and the way metadata is handled, subclips don’t really have a place in my current workflow and I prefer using normal clip markers.
Note that logging is done on the master clip, so every marker you add to the main clip will automatically get added to the sub-clip.Actually, as long as you’re in Prelude, you’re only ever editing the master clips. That’s where one of my issue with subclips comes from. Subclips inherit the metadata from their master clip and can’t be overridden. Considering it’s file metadata and not clip metadata, this makes sense, but for me that removes the reason to divide a clip into subclips.
But if you do use subclips on a regular basis, you will LOVE using Prelude.
Logging media can take varying amounts of time and has varying levels of relevance depending on the size and timespan of your project, and even if you choose not to use that feature, Prelude can do a number of really useful things such as helping you organise file on ingest and create rough cuts.