We’ve looked at the two biggest tasks Prelude is designed to help you accomplish: ingesting media, and logging it. There’s one last thing that Prelude can do and which is worth looking at: the ability of creating rough cuts. This will lead us to talk about an important piece of the pipeline, which is the transition from Prelude to an NLE.
Rough cutting in Prelude
After you spent all that time getting your media all organised, it’s time to start editing. If you like to make preliminary edits, you’ve got the option to create a Rough Cut within Prelude. This is little more than a rudimentary sequence editor. I’m talking Quicktime Pro level of rudimentary editing. But it serves a purpose, which is getting an edit together quickly.
As you’d expect, you drag and drop clips onto the timeline, use basic trimming tools (trim begin/end to playhead), add simple video transitions, and add an audio track if you so wish. There’s only one video track available, and clips are playing back to back without the option of putting gaps in between clips. While this all sounds pretty limited, remember that this feature’s job is to make a quick and dirty edit. If you need more than what it can do, then maybe it’s time to move over to a proper editing suite.
There isn’t much more to say about it really. If you work in Premiere, you can send the rough cut to a currently open Premiere Pro project where it will be converted to a sequence that you can then edit normally, with all the tools Premiere gives you access to.
From Prelude to Premiere Pro
Once your media is ready for proper editing, you will want to send all your bins and clips to Premiere. This is the point where Prelude fails pretty badly in my opinion. This isn’t so much that it doesn’t do the job properly, but more like me wanting to use the software in a way it’s seemingly not designed for (but should in my view). Before I can elaborate, let’s see how this actually works.
You’ve got two ways of transitioning from Prelude to Premiere Pro. The first one is to export your Prelude project as a Premiere Pro project. (Note for Mac users, you can also export as a Final Cut Pro XML as well). To be honest I’ve never done it this way, because I much prefer the other option.
If you have Premiere Pro open with a project loaded, you can in a couple of clicks send individual clips, bins and rough cuts straight to the Premiere project. It takes seconds to shift a hundred clips like this. If you send a single clip, it will also replicate in Premiere the bin hierarchy it had in Prelude. It’s a really cool feature on paper but the very wording of it betrays the issues I have with it. “Send to…”.
You see, unlike SpeedGrade or After Effects, there is no real link between Prelude and Premiere. When you hit that “Send to Premiere”, it’s a bit fire and forget. Premiere has seemingly no idea where the data comes from, and Prelude doesn’t even look at what’s in the Premiere project. This has the following side effects:
- Because Prelude doesn’t know or care about the Premiere project’s structure, it will happily duplicate bins if you don’t send your clips in one go.
- Subclips sent to Premiere will forget who their parent is. This means that for instance that, in Premiere, you can’t make the subclip longer than what it was when you sent it from Prelude.
- In a similar fashion, editing the in and out points of a subclip in Prelude won’t translate to Premiere as there is no link between the two.
- For the same reason, clip markers won’t update either.
There’s one last issue, but that’s more a plain mistake than a design flaw: When you send a rough cut to Premiere, all the involved clips will be sent too, but without their bin hierarchy.
Basically, if you don’t use it the intended way, Prelude can take all you carefully organised clips and scatter them across the floor…
Most of my annoyances with the Prelude-Premiere relationship come from the fact that at that stage of the process, I’m probably using Prelude “wrong”. All the aforementioned behaviour points to the idea that Prelude is a stage in the pipeline that comes before Premiere, and that once you’ve crossed that bridge, you’re not coming back. When you consider that in bigger productions, the two applications will likely be used by two different people, you think “OK, fair enough”. But because you can send media to Premiere so easily and quickly, Prelude screams for being used side by side with Premiere.
I may have mentioned a bunch of issues throughout this series of posts, but it’s really a “tough love” kind of thing. I will keep using Prelude, because frankly, unless you’re dealing with a tiny number of files, I can’t see any reason not to use it if you have access to it. The file renaming on ingest alone makes it worth integrating into your workflow.