Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2015 review: Extending video editing beyond the desktop
Now featuring built-in Hue CC color correction tools, a new Lumetri Color panel, and a lot more.
By Alan Stafford
At a Glance
Powerful new Lumetri Color panel for creating looks
Better integration with mobile apps
Still some inconsistencies in desktop application interface and controls
Lumetri Color overlaps with other color tools
With this version, Adobe is making a clear effort to bring in tools usually found in other Adobe applications. This makes Premiere Pro closer to being a one-stop video editor.
Last year, as I was sprinting down the street trying to stay ahead of six angry bulls in Pamplona, Spain, I held my phone behind me to capture some video of the experience, all the while thinking, how am I going to color-correct this video? And then I looked up at the beautiful old buildings facing the street and thought, hey, that palette would really work well with the talking-head videos I had been editing in my hotel room the night before. But how to capture those colors and reuse them? Thankfully, Adobe has solutions for these vexing problems in the latest version of its video-editing application, Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2015.
Okay, so I didn’t run with the bulls—I was busy climbing Mt. Everest at the time—but if I had, I could have used two iOS applications, Adobe Premiere Clip and Adobe Hue CC, which attempt to expand video editing beyond the desktop. Adobe Premiere Clip has been around since last year; it allows you make simple edits to video on your phone and then upload the composition to Premiere Pro, which will retain the edits and let you make additional ones. Hue CC is new; you can use it to take photos and capture their “looks”—color hue sets—which you can then import into Premiere CC and apply them to other videos. So, for example, you could capture a cold, cloudy beach, with its blueish, muted colors, and apply them to a nice, short video of a large bull chasing you.
Adobe’s integration of these applications isn’t yet round-robin, though it soon will be. Now, you can create a look in Hue CC or in Premiere Pro CC, but you can only apply a stock look in Premiere Clip; you can’t create or import one, though an updated version of Clip that will add these capabilities is due any day, according to Adobe. [Update: Version 1.2 of Premiere Clip is now live; it allows you to apply looks from your library.]
Pick a color
You can create looks in Premiere Pro CC 2015 by using a new Lumetri Color panel. Premiere Pro picked up the Lumetri Color engine from Adobe SpeedGrade in 2013, but then, you couldn’t create looks in Premiere Pro; you had to create them in SpeedGrade. Now, you can import and export look files in Premiere Pro, but only using the Lumetri Color panel. In the Effects panel, you’ll find Lumetri Presets—but you still can’t add any to this list unless you use SpeedGrade.
However, if you drag a Lumetri Preset to a video on your timeline, it appears in your Effects Control panel as a Lumetri Color effect, and you can edit it there. You can access looks from your Libraries panel, which pulls from your online Creative Cloud account, but they do not show up as options in your Effects panel or even the Lumetri Color panel. They will appear in the Lumetri Color panel once you’ve dragged them from your Libraries panel to your timeline video. You cannot import a look by using the Lumetri Color panel; you can only do so by using the Libraries panel.
The Lumetri Color panel has a large number of controls, many of which overlap with other color controls—some are even named the same—but they often don’t do the same thing or with the same power. For example, you can add the Three-Way Color Corrector as an effect to a video, and you can add Lumetri Color as an effect, too. Both have color wheels for shadows, midtones, and highlights, but using similar settings in each and then toggling between them will show dramatically different results. Furthermore, the Lumetri Color panel uses check marks to enable or disable settings, whereas most other effects use the “fx” icon. You cannot set keyframes in the Lumetri Color panel, either; for that, you must use the Effects Controls panel.
The point of the Lumetri Color panel, I think, is not color correction, though you can certainly use it for that. Premiere Pro CC 2015 has plenty of color correction tools, including the aforementioned Three-Way Color Corrector. Rather, I suggest that Lumetri Color is better suited for creating and applying bold, atmospheric styles, feels, looks—sepia, noir, cold and gray—not for trying to achieve spot-on, accurate color. Think Minority Report or Sin City, not the nightly news.
Premiere Pro CC 2015’s updated task-oriented workspaces are a little more useful than workspaces in the past. You can still switch among them, choosing from standbys like Editing, Effects, or Audio, and a new Color one, all of which are optimized for their respective functions, and you can create your own custom workspaces. You don’t have to go to a menu, either—a list appears in a small horizontal menu at the top of the screen.
A little magic with the makeup
Adobe has added two new features to help your talking-head videos shine. Face Tracker lets you draw a mask on a face and then apply effects to the mask, even as the face moves (within limits, of course). This seems like an enhancement of the Masking and Tracking feature introduced in Premiere Pro 2014, which was mainly for applying identity-hiding masks. Now, you can use it for more precise effects, such as-changing eye color, applying a nice tan, or making steam burst from one’s nostrils. As with most such effects, I found that it worked best with a person looking directly at the camera. A fun extra: You can export the Face Tracker data for use in Adobe’s new Character Animator, a feature found in Adobe After Effects CC 2015. You can make weird facial expressions, save them, then apply them to an animated character, which will then mimic your expressions.
When editing talking-head video, often we want to edit out the ahs, ums, and the boring parts—which doesn’t leave much left over, but you work with what you’ve got. Premiere Pro’s new Morph Cut can help disguise the transition between two clips—but only if they are of people’s faces. It won’t even let you try it on, say, beach scenes. I found that it worked well as long as the face in the preceding clip was positioned close to where it was in the subsequent clip.
If you’re faced with the opposite problem—your talking head blathered on too long, and you have to hit a precise video duration—then the new Time Tuner option in the Media Encoder may help. You can enter a duration change of up to 10 percent, plus or minus. If you prefer, you can just set an exact duration, and Premiere Pro CC 2015 will add or remove frames to hit that target. Whichever method you choose, it will not let you exceed 10 percent, which is probably good, because even a 5 percent increase in duration caused occasional, obvious interpolations in my exported video. A 3 percent decrease looked better, but I could still see some artifacts, but perhaps that’s because I was looking for it.
Premiere Pro CC 2015 is becoming more than an application where we dump all of our assets and then work on them in just that small box. It makes sense to bring the video editing tools closer to the actual captured video, and to expand our creative options beyond the desktop (or laptop, of course). The integration still feels a pretty clunky at times, but I like the direction.
Editor’s note: Updated 6/16/15 at 2pm PT with availability info about Premiere Clip 1.2.