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Adobe On Location

Whether you are a Final Cut Pro user, Avid Media Composer user, or Premiere user, we'd like to introduce you to Adobe On Location.  In our opinion, this is an incredible application that is sometimes overlooked in the professional video industry.

It ships with the Adobe Creative Suite Production Premium. Trust us on this one, this software is really a nice addition to any video production professional.

Do you own a HDV camera which records to MiniDV cassette tapes, and have wondered what to do about it? I have given my Canon XHA1S the evil eye for some time now, but have not decided to upgrade to another model. The technological advances come so fast that it is difficult to make a reasonable choice, and waiting a few months may be priceless.

Camera rig.jpg

Adobe On Location may be the tool that helps you improve your footage until you are certain of what to do after HDV.

HDV cameras plug into a laptop by firewire cable. Even a 15 ft firewire cable produces perfect capture. I use a 6-pin to 6-pin 15 ft cable from my camera to a LaCie external drive (Rugged) that is plugged into the laptop. At times, I prefer a more mobile camera. By putting wheels under my tripod and attaching the laptop to the cross-struts with Velcro, and attaching the external drive to the wheelbase, I am able to move the camera reasonably well from location to location.

Turn on the camera before starting on Location.

*Please note: You can click on any of the images below for a hi-res version of the screenshot.

Open a project.

1 Full Screen.png

In the upper left is the Field Monitor.

2 Field Monitor.png

The taskbar shows timecode, then two levels of Zebra stripes (default: 100 and 75), a zoom tool (“Fit”), a split screen option, safe zone lines, a still grabber and an option to set a poster frame. The button in the upper right corner allows you to undock the panel, change the monitor input, check the recording format and adjust the monitor and zebra settings.

3 Audiometer.png

To the right there is the audiometer, which shows the exact dB level that is being recorded.

Next there is the waveform monitor which analyzes the luminance of the frame.

4 Waveform Monitor.png

Underneath you will find the Vectorscope.

By going to Window > Histogram, the waveform monitor will be replaced by a histogram of the frame.

6 Histogram.png

Finally, the upper right panel serves to display the Comment area where you can add comments and observations while recording. One can also prepare inserts prior to shooting. The middle tab in the panel houses the media browser, and the right tab contains all the metadata for the project.

7 Upper right panel.png

The whole lower project is dedicated to the project files.

8 Project files.png

It is populated with placeholders for a project imported from Adobe Story. Start recording by clicking on the red button in the field monitor panel.

9 Start recording.png

Click twice to start a new clip which will go to the bottom of you placeholder list. Insert notes in the Turbo Comments which will appear on playback as sticky notes in the timeline.

10 timeline with sticky note.png

On Location allows you to balance exposure, white balance and overall appearance of your frame before you start shooting. On Location not only records directly to the laptop’s hard-drive, but gives you a waveform monitor to judge exposure and distribution of brightness in the frame, and a Vectorscope and Histogram to analyze the color space. In addition, there is ample space to add Metadata to each clip as you record. A focus chart allows error-free focusing on the spot in your frame that you wish to be in perfect focus. The chart can be downloaded from Adobe.

11 focus chart.png

While planning a shoot there is the option of pre-populating the project with placeholders from the shot list. Additional placeholders are easily created when there is more than one take by clicking on the Add placeholder rectangles at the left top of the project panel. The same place allows you to create a time-stamped placeholder.

If you go to Window > click on Camera Setup Assistant a window appears which allows you to check the adequacy of your camera setup.

12 Camera Steup Assistant.png

The goal is to extend the blue lines as far to the right as your settings allow.

After you finish recording, the clips are easily imported into Premiere Pro for editing or export as Quicktime.mov.

Adobe Story is a web-based application that is designed to help script development as well as creating a shot list. Go to https://story.adobe.com and sign in with your AdobeID and password. Your Story account is free until April 12, 2012. Story allows you to organize your materials and set up scripts .

13 Adobe Story.png

There is adequate space to add all additional items that might be required for a successful production.

By subdividing the script into scenes, one can download the script to On Location where it will create placeholders for all the scenes in the script while storing the screen directions and dialog in the Metadata.

14 editing an AV scrript.png

Special thanks to Ed Gfeller, who is a former GeniusDV customer for submitting this tutorial.  Thanks again Ed!


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Importing video from a camera in Final Cut Pro X was the previous entry in this blog.

Pleasantville Effect Media Composer 6 is the next entry in this blog.

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