Tag Archives: premiere

Improving The Quality Of Your Video Compositions With Creative Cloud

I’ve been spending a lot of time with Adobe video tools lately… everything from videos for the blog, to promotional videos, to help/technical videos.  Here are a few topics that beginners in video production need to think about… audio processing and color correction.

First, you can make so-so video look great with a few simple color correction techniques. Second, a video is only as good as its audio, so you need solid audio to keep viewers engaged.  Hopefully this post helps you improve your videos with simple steps on both of these topics.

To give you an idea what I’m talking about, check out this before and after video. It’s the exact same clip played twice.  The first run through is just the raw video straight from the camera and mic.  Colors don’t “pop”, it’s a little grainy, and the audio is very quiet.  The second run through has color correction applied to enhance the visuals, and also has processed audio to enhance tone, increase volume, and clean up artifacts.

Let’s first look at color correction.  Below you can see a “before” and “after” still showing the effects of color correction.  The background is darker and has less grain, there is more contrast, and the colors are warmer.

Before and After - Color Correction

Before and After – Color Correction

The visual treatment was achieved using two simple effects in Adobe Premiere Pro.  First I used the Fast Color Corrector to adjust the input levels.  By bringing up the black and gray input levels, the background became darker, and it reduced grain in the darker areas.  Then, I applied the “Warm Overall” Lumetri effect to make the video feel warmer – this enhances the reds to add warmth to the image.

Color Correction Effects in Adobe Premiere

Color Correction Effects in Adobe Premiere

You can enhance colors even further using color correction tools inside of Premiere Pro, or open the Premiere Pro project directly within SpeedGrade for fine tuning.

Next, let’s focus on audio…

You can get by with a mediocre video with good audio, but nobody wants to sit through a nice looking video with terrible audio. Here are three simple tips for Adobe Audition to help improve your audio, and hopefully keep viewers engaged.

In this case, I thought the audio was too quiet and could be difficult to understand.  My goal was to enhance audio volume and dynamics to make this easier to hear.

I first used Dynamics Processing to create a noise gate. This process removes quiet sounds from the audio, leaving us with the louder sounds, and generally cleaner audio.  You could also use Noise Reduction or the Sound Remover effects… the effect that works best will depend on your audio source.

Dynamics Processing (Noise Gate) in Adobe Audition

Dynamics Processing (Noise Gate) in Adobe Audition

Next I used the 10-band graphic equalizer to enhance sounds in specific frequency ranges.  I brought up mid-range sounds to give more depth to the audio track.

10 Band EQ in Adobe Audition

10 Band EQ in Adobe Audition

Finally, I used the Multiband Compressor to enhance the dynamic range of the audio.  Quieter sounds were brought up and louder sounds were brought down to create more level audio that is easier to hear and understand.  However, be careful not to make your audio too loud when using the compressor!  If you’ve ever been watching TV and the advertisements practically blow out your eardrums, this is because of overly compressed audio.

Multi-band Compressor in Adobe Audition

Multi-band Compressor in Adobe Audition

Want to learn more?  Don’t miss the Creative Cloud Learn resources to learn more about all of the Creative Cloud tools – the learning resources are free for everyone! If you aren’t already a member, join Creative Cloud today to access all Adobe media production tools.

Time-Lapse Photography with Creative Cloud

In addition to my addiction to aerial photography, I’m also fascinated by time-lapse photography. With time lapse photography, you set up your camera to take pictures on an interval. This could be every few seconds, every few minutes, every few hours, or heck, once a day. It’s really up to you how you want to set up your shots and what you want to shoot. In any case, you can end up with a lot images – each by itself could be great, but it only tells a limited story.  However, you can put all those images together in a sequence to create some truly amazing visuals. Subtle motion becomes pronounced, and you can clearly view the passage of time. Often, this ends up with an amazing visual story that would be hard to otherwise capture.

All that you need start diving into time-lapse photography is a camera that is capable of capturing images on an interval – normally there is some kind of time lapse mode that lets you set up your image frequency and duration. Then, once you’ve got your images, you can process them with Creative Cloud tools to bring out their full potential.

Here are two time-lapse sequences I created this week–one a snow storm, one a sunset.

Neither sequence required a lot of specialized or expensive equipment. I used a GoPro Hero 3 Black camera, set it on my window sill, and let it do it’s thing. (I do want to upgrade to better gear, but this still works fantastically, and I love the GoPro.)

GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition

GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition

The sunset was a ten second interval captured over about 2 hours and played back in 30 seconds. The snow storm was a 60 second interval captured over roughly 14 hours, played back in 40 seconds.

So, you’ve captured the images, what next? 

You can check out the video below, or read on for further explanation how I processed and assembled the images into a video sequence, complete with links to Adobe documentation and tutorials.

Before putting everything together as a sequence, I wanted to enhance the photos to bring out as much detail as possible. Here’s where Adobe Lightroom comes into the picture. I used Lightroom to import all of my photos, add them to a collection, and then perform bulk/batch processing to enhance all of the images.

Editing Photos with Lightroom

Editing Photos with Lightroom

First, select an image to use as your baseline for adjustments. I wouldn’t start with your darkest image, and I wouldn’t start with your lightest either. I normally start somewhere in the middle. Select the image, and then switch over to the “Develop” module. I use the basic panel to make adjustments to this image. For the GoPro, I like to bring up the shadows and bring down the highlights to pull out details out. If I’m shooting a landscape, I also like to bring up the clarity and maybe even the vibrance and saturation – just don’t over do it. You could also use one of Lightroom’s presets if you want; it’s really up to you. Just be extra careful that it is not too dark or too light b/c we’re going to apply these settings to all images in the sequence.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom - Basic Panel

Lightroom – Basic Panel

If you want to adjust hue, saturation or luminance of specific colors, you can do that within the HSL/Color/B&W panel. Using this you can make specific colors more or less intense.  I normally try to tone down the yellows in my GoPro images after I’ve increased overall saturation.

Since I used the GoPro, there is a lot of fisheye distortion from the lens – the GoPro has a 2.77mm lens whichgives an ultra-wide 170 degree field of view. This makes for some awesome wide angle shots, but sometimes you don’t want that extreme distortion. This is where lens correction gets really handy. Next, I opened up the Lens Correction panel. As soon as you check the “Enable Profile Corrections” checkbox, Lightroom should automatically select the GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition lens profile based upon metadata within the image. I didn’t want to fully flaten the image, just reduce the wide angle, so I turned down the distortion correction using the “Distortion” slider.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom - Lens Correction

Lightroom – Lens Correction

Once you have your baseline image the way you want it, you need to apply these settings to all of your images in the sequence. Just select them all, and then either click on the “Sync…” button in the bottom right of the Develop module, or use the Settings -> Synch Settings menu. This will apply you changes on this image to all of the images that were selected. This will happen automatically if you are using auto-sync. You can learn more about synchronizing metadata between photos in the Lightroom documentation.

Next, be sure to view several images in your collection, the lightest to the darkest, and make sure they all look decent. If you need to make any changes because they are too light, or too dark, or don’t have the right contrast, then now is your time to fix it. Once you’re happy with the images in your collection you next need to export them. I exported as JPG with 100% quality at full resolution with sequential names.

Now we’ve got a lot of processed images. What’s next? We need to make a video!

At this point, I switch over to Adobe Premiere. Premiere is an incredible tool for producing videos. It makes the process of arranging video compositions very easy. It’s easy enough for a beginner to use, yet powerful enough to create high-dollar Hollywood productions. If you haven’t used Premiere before, definitely check out my Crash Course in Premiere, check out Video Editing for Non-Video Professionals, and don’t miss the Adobe Premiere channel on Adobe TV.

The first thing to do is create a new video project, then create a new sequence. If you want full HD, you’ll want to select an one of the 1080p presets (or create a custom sequence). Once you have your sequence created, you need to import your images for editing.

To import your images, select the File -> Import menu, select the first image in your sequence, and select the “Image Sequence” checkbox. (DO NOT MISS THIS STEP!)

Premiere - Import Image Sequence

Premiere – Import Image Sequence

Once imported, the image sequence will be treated like a video clip within Premiere. Drag it onto your sequence timeline, then start editing. You can speed up or slow down playback with time remapping, apply color correction, add transitions, or more.  Then add a title, add some music, and export it.

Editing within Adobe Premiere

Editing within Adobe Premiere

If you’re wondering how I got the motion in the time lapse sequence, no I didn’t have the camera moving. There are devices which make this possible, but I just used a video editing trick. The images are 12 MP, or 4000 by 3000 pixels. A “standard” HD video sequence is 1920 by 1080 pixels. The image below reflects this scale – the red area represents the 4000 by 3000 still image, and the yellow represents the 1920 by 1080 video.

Video & Image Size Comparison

Video & Image Size Comparison

You’ll notice that leaves us with a lot of room to zoom and pan around the image. I zoom into the image so that it fills the entire horizontal space within the video sequence – you can zoom in more if you want. This leaves a fair amount of vertical content outside the clipping rectangle of the video. You can use this to your advantage by panning vertically within this area.  I just made the pan very slow and deliberate so it appears that there is constant motion of the camera throughout the entire video.

The final result is that the content in the video (yellow area) appears to move because the actual image sequence is moving relative to the video viewport.

Color Key/Green Screen Video Techniques with Creative Cloud

In my last post, I talked about masks in After Effects, specifically the new motion tracking feature for rigid masks. In this post, I’m again focusing on video composition, but instead of compositing using masks, I’m going to talk about keying.

Keying is a technique for selectively removing areas of a video based on content inside of that video, so that there is transparency.  With this transparency, you can add layers and special effects to your video compositions.  There is color keying, which removes pixels with specific colors from a video, luminance keying (luma key), which removes pixels based on brightness value, track matte key, and more…  all of which are just different methods of removing pixels from a video and adding transparency.

If you’ve ever wondered how news programs get the weather person to appear in front of an animated weather map, they’re just using color keying/green screen techniques. This is when the subject (the weather person) is captured on a green background, and the green background is removed using color keying.  Then you’re just left with the weather person, which can easily be composited/overlaid on top of the weather map.

Check out the video below to see two examples of keying in action (scroll down to jump directly to the video)… The first example shows how to use a green screen/color key technique in Adobe Premiere to overlay a subject on a background video.


Attribution: Dog Video, Beach Video - You’ll get better results with higher quality video – I just used these for simplicity. The dog video is licensed under Creative Commons with attribution, and the beach video is a preview file from Pond5.

The second example shows usage of color keying to overlay an explosion over a more complicated scene in After Effects – complete with motion tracking, and additional masking to make the explosion look like smoke is billowing down the streets between the buildings.


Now, check out the full video to see how to apply these techniques. You already have have everything you need for these within Creative Cloud.

Here are the techniques that I used in these samples:

If you aren’t already a member of Creative Cloud, learn more and join now at creative.adobe.com.


Video: GoPro Cameras, Quadcopters & Creative Cloud

Last week I had the opportunity to present an incredibly fun topic to the DC/MD/VA Creative Professionals user group… GoPro Cameras, Quadcopters, and Adobe Creative Cloud.  Thanks to everyone who attended.  This topic is a personal interest of mine, and I had a great time.  There were great questions and great conversations all around.

For those who weren’t able to attend, here’s a video of the full 2-hour presentation.  The audio quality isn’t perfect, but you can still catch most of it:

My slides are available here:

Slides: GoPro Cameras, Quadcopterss & Creative Cloud

Slides: GoPro Cameras, Quadcopterss & Creative Cloud

Attribution: I included some images from the GoPro photo of the day gallery.

Here are a few quick links for getting started with Adobe Creative Cloud for producing video and photography content:

For those who were asking about my copter rig, here are the details on what I am flying:

  • Copter: DJI Phantom
  • Gimbal: Beholder Lite (details on my configuration - definitely requires some tuning)
  • FPV: KumbaCam - Great for a remote viewfinder, though the GoPro feed flickers when in time lapse photography mode.  I put it on a tripod at eye level so I can quickly glance between LOS and FPV viewing (FPV = First Person View). I use this as a remote viewfinder, not a primary flight mechanism, and never go beyond line-of-sight.
  • Case: Nanuk 940 – perfect size to fit the Phantom
  • Batteries – get lots of extras b/c you won’t want to stop flying!
  • Camera: GoPro Hero 3 Black

Without the gimbal and FPV, you’ll get about 12-15 mins of battery per flight.  With the gimbal and FPV, I get about 7-8 minutes per flight… I’m currently researching options to extend battery life & flight time.

You can definitely get bigger copters with a heavier lift capacity, but this configuration is great for getting started, and is designed specifically for the GoPro. Then, use Creative Cloud to polish your images and video.

Creative Cloud Helps Me Fulfill My Creative Vision

In my last post, I proclaimed my love for Adobe Creative Cloud. This post will show you the reason why. I was playing around with some of the aerial footage I captured last week in San Francisco. Just for fun, I wanted to create a HUD (heads up display) to add to the first-person experience of the video. My inspiration was the HUD created for The Avengers & Iron Man, which was created using Adobe After Effects. This turned out far better and far more interesting than I could have possibly hoped, and it is all thanks to the power of Adobe Creative Cloud. Here’s the final video complete with special effects, and below I will discuss how I used Creative Cloud to get to this. (Best experienced at 1080p, with audio – preferably loud, with lots of bass.)

First things first, I had to design the HUD. I used Photoshop to pull in a still from the video footage, and started layering elements on top of it. I Googled images of real fighter jet HUD displays, and used those as inspiration. I obviously didn’t have all of the same information, so I couldn’t make my HUD absolutely real, but I could make it look “good enough”.

HUD Design in Adobe Photoshop

HUD Design in Adobe Photoshop

I got the mockup to a point that I thought looked good, and then it came time to implement it for real in the video. It turns out my initial design didn’t work great in the final implementation, so I came back to Photoshop played with colors, and sizes, and chopped pieces up into separate image assets that I could pull into the final composition.

Next, I pulled the video into After Effects, and started overlaying the HUD graphic elements.  I chose After Effects for this instead of Premiere because After Effects has better control over the visual output and effects – Premiere is my primary tool for sequencing multiple clips into a larger composition.

Editing in Adobe After Effects

Editing in Adobe After Effects

I added all of the HUD elements and manually animated rotation and position so that it fit well with the actual flight path. Everything seemed in place, but I felt like it needed more.

Why not have targeting indicators that follow the cars? With After Effects’ Track Motion feature, this was easily done. I created a “target” graphic, inserted it into the composition, and then used Track Motion to create a motion path for the graphic. To do this, select the video layer that you want to use for motion tracking, and go to a frame that has the object that you want to track. Then click on the “Track Motion” button in the “Tracker” panel. You’ll have to select an area that will be tracked. When you analyze frames, it will detect the movement of your selection over time, and translate that to x/y coordinates, which are applied to the motion target that you choose (the “target” symbol).

I repeated this step for a bunch of vehicles, and it started looking much better. Once I had the red target indicators in the HUD, I thought “that looks cool, but it’s still not enough, and it’s not believable.”

I added some color correction using After Effect’s Tritone color correction.  This made the HUD really stand out from the video, and gave it a nice cinematic look and feel, but I still wanted more.

I thought to myself… If you’re going to go “over the top”, you might as well go “way over the top”, so I started getting creative/ridiculous. I had this robotic fighter jet feel in the video, so I figured that something needed to blow up. I found this explosion and that’s when things started getting really interesting. I added one, then two, then three explosions to the scene by leveraging After Effects’ Linear Color Key effect so that the explosion was overlaid without the background. Add some color correction on the explosion, and voila… you have an explosion on top of the video with minimal artifacts.

Note: Keying is the process of removing pixels from the background based on pixel colors. You can also remove pieces of a video clip using the rotoscoping tool - it’s like a Photoshop selection over time.

This was really starting to come together. Since I had explosions, I needed more smoke. I first tried the After Effects particle system for producing smoke, but it didn’t seem real enough for this specific use case. I found some stock footage of smoke plumes and ambient smoke, and started going to town. Pairing the stock footage with Track Motion, I was able to add smoke to the landscape that followed buildings as the camera rotated to focus back on the building.

Like I said earlier, I wanted to go “way over the top”, so of course, why not add a flyby from some jets. So I added some stock footage of computer generated jets flying overhead, again with Keying to remove the background.

At this point, things were really coming together for this scene, so I wanted to add an intro title and some music… enter Adobe Premiere.

Composing/Sequencing in Adobe Premiere

Composing/Sequencing in Adobe Premiere

Here I added the title, and started adding the static effect overlaid in the beginning and the ending of the composition.  Next, I needed background music and sound effects.  Sound is critical to the experience of video.  It can help convey emotion, and tie everything together.

I pulled in some background music from Audio Jungle. Things were starting to come together really well, but I needed more sound effects… A while back I stumbled across freesound.org, which has a bunch of Creative Commons sound effects.  This has been a goldmine for me. I pulled in sound effects for the explosions, the ambient aircraft noise, ambient machine guns, and radar beeps.

Then I pulled some of the sounds into Adobe Audition for some fine-tuning…

Audio Processing with Adobe Audition

Audio Processing with Adobe Audition

Once I had everything sequenced where I wanted it, I just exported the video from Premiere, uploaded it to Youtube, and started sharing it.

The best parts of this entire process:

  1. I did this whole thing start to finish in a little over one day.  I started working with the video on Monday night, and uploaded it to YouTube this morning. Creative Cloud has an insanely productive workflow.
  2. My background is in software development, not in video production… I do that for fun. By using Creative Cloud, I already had all the tools I needed to put everything together.
  3. Creative Cloud helps me fulfill my vision.

Now, get out there, get creative, and have fun doing it!

Sound Attribution: