by Filip Milovanovic (Post-production expert, ELEMENTS)
The video production community has for a number of years been split between those who favour Avid Media Composer and those who favour Adobe Premiere Pro for use in their editing workflows. Media Composer was my first choice for quite some time, until I realised that both applications are different tools that can be utilised in many different ways. Since then, I have been using both of these NLEs for different projects, however, choosing a tool per project is not always possible in a large post production environment.
Adobe Premiere Pro vs. Avid Media Composer
These two programs, though generally similar in function, provide very different workflow benefits (or disadvantages) depending on the perspective. Premiere Pro for instance works seamlessly with various types of footage. This is possible due to the fact that Premiere Pro upon import creates supporting files to allow editing directly with the original footage. This workflow makes Premiere Pro very flexible and of benefit to fast-pace editing projects. Avid Media Composer on the other hand takes an entirely different approach. Whilst working directly with the original footage is possible, it comes with considerable cost to application performance. The recommended workflow requires the creation of the so-called Avid MediaFiles — copies of the imported footage. Though more complicated at the beginning, having consistent media files simplifies the workflow and provides a stable environment for Media Composer to operate in. This approach allows the user to maintain structure and to keep control over the media files, even on long running projects.
The biggest benefit of Media Composer has for a number of years been its project sharing capabilities. Whilst using Media Composer with purpose-built shared storage such as Avids own Nexis or any ELEMENTS system, the project sharing function allows multiple users to work on a single project. The first user to open any bin in the project gets granted a write access whilst other users can open the bin in a read-only mode.
Aware of the benefits that project sharing brings, Adobe have been seeking new ways to implement this functionality through multiple approaches in the most recent versions. First through the introduction of Team Projects — a cloud-based project sharing solution available to Creative Cloud for enterprise (CCE) and Creative Cloud for teams (CCT) licensed users. With the release of Creative Cloud 2018, Adobe has offered another feature — one called Shared Projects. This function, when enabled, allows automatic project locking. Additionally, opening multiple projects at once was also made possible. This was a considerable improvement to their project sharing capabilities but it still wasn’t as simple and easy to use as the approach implemented by Avid.
The third and most recent addition to Premiere Pro’s project sharing capabilities is called Premiere Pro Production, which offers a similar experience to Avid Media Composer.
Premiere Pro Productions
On the 14th of April 2020 Adobe made a big announcement about the introduction of Premiere Pro Productions. This is an entirely new concept and it is available to all users in Premiere Pro 14.1. A Production can be seen as a container for multiple projects and it is very straightforward to set up and use. On the Premiere Pro starting screen instead of creating a project, simply navigate to File / New / Production; then simply name the Production and choose a location on the shared storage.
In the newly created Production any number of projects can be created. Projects currently opened by other users will be locked — indicated by a red padlock on the project icon and the username of the user with the write access will be displayed. These projects can still be opened, but only in read-only mode. In the lower left corner of the project window a symbol is displayed, indicating a write access (green pen) or a read-only access (red padlock). If desired, the user can pass the write access over to another user by either closing the bin or by changing their status to read-only by clicking on the green pen symbol. This project sharing mechanism prevents users from accidentally overwriting each others work.
To help with sorting the projects folders can be created. A big benefit that productions bring is the fact that all included projects share the same settings such as scratch disks. This means that only one user needs to create preview files and all other users in the production will benefit from smoother playback, as these are also stored on the shared storage as the production. The scratch disk settings of the whole production can be found in File / Production Settings.
Clips from any project in the production can be reused in other projects without needing to copy the master clips. This is a great way to keep the projects simple and prevent overcrowding.
Further increasing the efficiency
Imagine a browser-based editing application with no per-user licensing, that can be used to create rough cuts and assign them to individual editors. This application, even when used over the internet, provides maximum performance as it has a direct local access to your footage. This is exactly what the ELEMENTS Media Library offers. Importing rough cuts created in the Media Library into production-based projects is just as easy as with regular Premiere Pro projects. This can be done via a simple drag-and-drop or through the ELEMENTS Premiere Pro Plugin, thereby keeping all previously created comments.
The Premiere Pro project locking feature is an amazing tool for controlling and organising your projects. The usefulness of this feature can however, be expanded to help with tasks such as archiving and ensuring that no one can change the projects after they have been finalised. By utilising the ELEMENTS Workflow Automation engine, predefined sets of actions can be triggered directly from the MacOS Finder or the Windows Explorer, using just one click. Furthermore, the Workflow Automation engine can help with tasks such as one-click consolidation of all the media used in any Premiere Pro project. This job can be used on any computer on the network without even having to install Premiere Pro. Notification tasks can be set up to send Email, Client or even Slack notifications to selected users, informing them about the job status and the work done.
The new project sharing capabilities allow for more efficient and dynamic workflows. The content, once imported, will be easily available to all users in the production to reuse, together with the generated previews. Splitting the work between multiple editors and keeping track of the progress is now a lot easier.
Premiere Pro has taken a big step forward in relation to its usage, especially within larger companies — an area of the industry that Media Composer has dominated for some time now. In my opinion we are seeing these two widespread NLEs copy each other whilst cross-adopting successful and proven functions. The changes that Avid has brought to the Media Composer 2019 have made it more Premiere-like. Premiere Pro on the other hand seems keen and able to grow into bigger workflows, I doubt that Media Composer can easily win over users with fast-moving projects that seem to be ever-more present in the general media landscape. And that’s not even considering the benefits of other products in the Adobe CC package, which Premiere Pro forms a part of.
If anyone has ever experienced issues whilst opening projects created in a newer version of Premiere Pro, why not take a look at the ELEMENTS free project file Downgrader.