Category Archives: Adobe Premiere

Review: The HP Z1G3 All-in-One workstation

By Brady Betzel

I’ll admit it. I’ve always been impressed with HP’s All-in-One workstations — from their z840 to their zBook mobile workstation and now their HP Z1G3. Yes, I know, the HP line of workstations are not cheap. In fact, you can save quite a bit of money building your own system, but you will probably have tons of headaches unless you are very confident in your computer-building skills. And if you don’t mind standing in the return line at the Fry’s Electronics.

HP spends tons of time and money on ISV certifications for their workstations. ISV certification stands for Independent Software Vendor certification. In plain English it means that HP spends a lot of time and money making sure the hardware inside of your workstation works with the software you use. For an industry pro that means apps like Adobe’s Premiere Pro and After Effects, Avid Media Composer, Autodesk products like 3DS Max and many others.

For this review,  I tested apps like Avid Media Composer, FilmLight’s Baselight for Media Composer color correction plug-in, Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Media Encoder and Adobe After Effects, as well as Blackmagic’s Resolve 12.5.2, which chewed through basic color correction. In terms of testing time, I typically keep a review computer system for a couple of months, but with this workstation I really wanted to test it as thoroughly as possible — I’ve had the workstation for three months and counting, and I’ve been running the system through all the appropriate paces.

I always love to review workstations like the HP Z1G3 because of the raw power they possess. While HP sent me one of the top-of-the-line Z1G3 configurations, which retails for a list price of $3,486, they have a pretty reasonable starting price at $1,349. From Intel i3, i5 and i7 configurations all the way up to the all mighty Intel Xeon — the HP Z1G3 can be customized to fit into your workflow whether you just need to check your email or color correct video from your GoPro.

Here are the specs that make up the HP Z1G3 All-in-One workstation I received:

● 23.6-inch UHD/4K non-glare and non-touch display (3840×2160)
● Intel Xeon E3-1270 v5 CPU, 3.6GHz (4 Cores / 8 Threads)
● 64GB DDR4 SODIMM 2133 GHz (4 x 16GB)
● Nvidia Quadro M2000M graphics (4GB)
● Two Z Turbo drives (512GB, PCIe M.2)
● Wireless keyboard and mouse
● Two Thunderbolt 3/USB 3.1 ports
● USB charging port
● Media card reader
● DisplayPort out

As I mentioned earlier, I tested the Z1G3 with many different apps, but recently I’ve been diving deeper into color correction, and luckily for my testing this fits right in. A few of the most strenuous real-world tests for computer systems is running 3D modeling apps like Maxon Cinema 4D and color correction suites like Resolve. Of course, apps like After Effects are great tests as well, but adding nodes on nodes on nodes in Resolve will really tax your CPU, as well as your GPU.

One thing that can really set apart high-end systems like the Z1G3 is the delay when using a precision color correction panel like Tangent’s Elements or Ripple. Sometimes you will move one of the color wheel balls and a half a second later the color wheel moves on screen. I tried adding a few clips and nodes on the timeline and when using the panels, I noticed no discernible delay (at least more than what I would expect). While this isn’t a scientific test, it is crucial for folks looking to plug in external devices.

For more scientific tests I stuck to apps like Cinebench from Maxon, AJA’s System Test and Blackmagic’s Disk Speed Test. In Cinebench, the Z1G3 ranked at the top of the list when compared to similar systems. In AJA’s System Test I tested the read/write speed of the hp-z1g3-aja-system-test-copynon-OS drive (basically the editing or cache drive). It sustained around 1520MB/s read and 1490MB/s write. I say around because I couldn’t get the AJA app to display the entire read/write numbers because of the high-resolution/zoom in Windows, I tried scaling it down to 1920×1080 but no luck. In Blackmagic’s Disk Speed Test, I was running at 1560MB/s read and 1497.3MB/s write. The drive that I ran this test on is HP’s version of the M.2 PCIe SSD powered by Samsung, more affectionately known by HP as a Z-Turbo drive. The only thing better at the moment would be a bunch of these drives arranged in a RAID-0 configuration. Luckily, you can do that through the Thunderbolt 3 port with some spare SSDs you have lying around.

Almost daily I ran Premiere Pro CC, Media Encoder and Resolve Studio 12.5.2. I was really happy with the performance in Premiere. When working with QuickTimes in inter-frame codecs like H.264 and AVC-HD (non-edit friendly codecs), I was able to work without too much stuttering in the timeline. When I used intra-frame codecs like ProRes HQ from a Blackmagic’s Pocket Cinema Camera, Premiere worked great. I even jumped into Adobe’s Lumetri color tools while using Tangent’s Ripple external color correction panel and it worked with little discernable delay. I did notice that Premiere had a little more delay when using the external color correction panel than Media Composer and Resolve, but that seemed to be more of a software problem rather than a workstation problem.

One of my favorite parts about using a system with an Nvidia graphics card, especially a Quadro card like the M2000M, is the ability to encode multiple versions of a file at once. Once I was done editing some timelapses in Premiere, I exported using Media Encoder. I would apply three presets I made: one square 600×600 H.264 for Instagram, one 3840×2160 H.264 for YouTube and an Animated GIF at 480×360 for Twitter. Once I told Media Encoder to encode, it ran all three exports concurrently — a really awesome feature. With the Nvidia Quadro card installed, it really sped along the export.

Media Composer
Another app I wanted to test was Media Composer 8.6.3. Overall Media Composer ran great except for the high-resolution display. As I’ve said in previous reviews, this isn’t really the fault of HP, but more of the software manufacturers who haven’t updated their interfaces to adapt to the latest UHD displays. I had filmed a little hike I took with my five-year-old. I gave him a GoPro while I had my own. Once we got the footage back home, I imported it into Media Composer, grouped the footage and edited it using the multi-cam edit workflow.

Simply put, the multi-camera split was on the left and the clip I had in the sequence was playing simultaneously on the right. Before I grouped the footage into a multi-group, I transcoded the H.264s into DNxHD 175 an intra-frame, edit-friendly codec. The transcode was nearly realtime, so it took 60 minutes to transcode a 60-minute H.264 — which is not bad. In the end, I was able to edit the two-camera multi-group at 1920×1080 resolution with only minor hiccups. Occasionally, I would get caught in fast forward for a few extra seconds when J-K-L editing, but nothing that made me want to throw my keyboard or mouse against the wall.

Once done editing, I installed the FilmLight color correction plug-in for Media Composer. I had a really awesome experience coloring using Baselight in Media Composer on the Z1G3. I didn’t have any slowdowns, and the relationship between using the color correction panel and Baselight was smooth.

Resolve
The last app I tested with HP’s Z1G3 All-in-One Workstation was Blackmagic’s Resolve 12.5.2. Much like my other tests, I concentrated on color correction with the Tangent Ripple and Element-Vs iOS app. I had four or five nodes going in the color correction page before I started to see a slow down. I was using the native H.264 and ProRes HQ files from the cameras, so I didn’t make it easy for Resolve, but it still worked. Once I added a little sharpening to my clips, the HP Z1G3 really started to kick into gear. I heard the faint hum of fans, which up until this point hadn’t kicked in. This is also where the system started to slow down and become sluggish.

Summing Up
The Z1G3 is one of my favorite workstations, period. A while ago, I reviewed the previous All-in-One workstation from HP, the Z1G2, and at the time it was my favorite. One of my few complaints was that, while it was easy to fix, it was very heavy and bulky. When I opened the Z1G3 box, I immediately noticed how much lighter and streamlined the design was. It almost felt like they took away 50 percent of the bulk, which is something I really appreciate. I can tell that one of the main focuses with the Z1G3 was minimizing its footprint and weight, while increasing the power. HP really knocked it out of the park.

One of the only things that I wish was different on the Z1G3 I tested was the graphics card. While the Nvidia Quadro M2000M is a great graphics card, it is a “mobile” version of a Quadro, which has 128 fewer CUDA cores and 26GB/s less bandwidth than its desktop equivalent the M2000. I would love the option of a full-sized Quadro and instead of the mobile version but I also understand the power consumption will go up as well as the form factor, so maybe I give HP a pass here.

In the end, I know everyone reading this review is saying to themselves, “I love my iMac so why would I want the HP Z1G3?” If you are a die-hard Apple user, or you just saw the new Microsoft Surface Studio announcement, then it might be a hard sell, but I love both Windows- and Mac OS-based systems, and the Z1G3 is awesome. What’s even more awesome is that it is easily upgradeable. I took off the back cover, and with simple switch I could have added a 2.5-inch hard drive or two in under a minute. If you are looking for a new powerful workstation and want one that not only stands up to Resolve and Premiere Pro CC, the HP Z1G3 is for you.


Brady Betzel is an online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood, working on Life Below Zero and Cutthroat Kitchen. You can email Brady at bradybetzel@gmail.com. Earlier this year, Brady was nominated for an Emmy for his work on Disney’s Unforgettable Christmas Celebration.

Frame.io’s Emery Wells talks about Premiere Pro collaboration

In this business, collaboration is key. And without a strong system in place, chaos ensues, things get missed and time and money is wasted. The makers of Frame.io, a video review, sharing and collaboration platform, know that first hand, having been hands-on post pros. Recently, they came out with a realtime tool for Adobe Premiere Pro, aptly named Frame.io for Premiere Pro. The product includes the entire Frame.io application, redesigned and re-engineered for Adobe’s panel architecture.

This product, they say, is based on decades of real-world experience sitting in an editor’s chair. Features of the product include a shared cloud bin that multiple editors can work from; one click import and export of sequences, project files and entire bins; realtime comments directly in the Premiere timeline with no marker syncing; auto versioning for rapid iteration on creative ideas; comment marker syncing for when you do not have an internet connection; and sync’d playback in Frame.io and your Premiere timeline.

To find out more, we reached out to Frame.io co-founder and CTO Emery Wells (right) to find out more.

With this latest offering, you target a specific product. Does this mean you will be customizing your tool for specific editing platforms going forward?
Frame.io is a web application that can be accessed from any browser. It is not NLE specific and you can upload media that’s come from anywhere. We’ve started to build (and will continue to build) tools that help bridge the gap between the creative desktop apps like Premiere and Frame.io. Each tool we integrate comes with its own unique set of challenges and capabilities. Premiere’s extension model was compatible with Frame.io’s architecture so we were able to bring the entire feature set directly inside Premiere.

How is this product different from others out there?
It’s much more significant than an integration. It’s an entire realtime collaboration layer for Adobe Premiere and is transformative to the way video gets made. The Premiere integration has already been in the hands of companies like BuzzFeed, where they have 200 producers cranking out 175 videos/week. That is an absolutely maddening pace. Frame.io and our latest Premiere integration brings efficiency to that process.

Can multiple editors work simultaneously, like Avid?
No. It’s not a replacement for an Avid set-up like that.

What are the costs?
The Premiere extension comes standard with any Frame.io plan, including our free plan.

What speed of Internet is required?
We recommend a minimum of 10 megabits per second, which is fairly accessible on any broadband connection these days.

How easy to use is it, really?
It’s as easy as the Frame.io web application itself. Anyone can get up to speed in 10-15 minutes of poking around.

What do you think is the most important thing users should know about this product?
We’re solving real problems based on real experience. We built the tool we wanted as editors ourselves. Frame.io for Premiere Pro really allows you to go home at a decent hour instead of waiting around for a render at 10pm. We automate the render, upload and notification. You don’t have to pull your hair out trying to stay organized just to move a project forward.

Dell 6.15

Bandito Brothers: picking tools that fit their workflow

Los Angeles-based post, production and distribution company Bandito Brothers is known for its work on feature films such as Need for Speed, Act of Valor and Dust to Glory. They provide a variety of services — from shooting to post to visual effects — for spots, TV, films and other types of projects.

Lance Holte in the company’s broadcast color by working on DaVinci Resolve 12.

They are also known in our world for their Adobe-based workflows, using Premiere and After Effects in particular. But that’s not all they are. Recently, Bandito invested in Avid’s new Avid ISIS|1000 shared storage system to help them work more collaboratively with very large and difficult-to-play files across all editing applications. The system — part of the Avid MediaCentral Platform— allows Bandito’s creative teams to collaborate efficiently regardless of which editing application they use.

“We’ve been using Media Composer since 2009, although our workflows and infrastructure have always been built around Premiere,” explains Lance Holte, senior director of post production, Bandito Brothers. “We tend to use Media Composer for offline editorial on projects that require more than a few editors/assistants to be working in the same project since Avid bin-locking in one project is a lot simpler than breaking a feature into 200 different scene-based Premiere projects.

“That said, almost every project we cut in Avid is conformed and finished in Premiere, and many projects — that only require two or three editors/assistants, or require a really quick turnaround time, or have a lot of After Effects-specific VFX work — are cut in Premiere. The major reason that we’ve partnered with Avid on their new shared storage is because it works really well with the Adobe suite and can handle a number of different editorial workflows.”

MixStage             
Bandito’s Mix Stage                                                         Bandito’s Edit 4.

He says the ISIS | 1000 gives them the collaborative power to share projects across a wide range of tools and staff, and to complete projects in less time. “The fact that it’s software-agnostic means everyone can use the right tools for the job, and we don’t need to have several different servers with different projects and workflows,” says Holte.

Bandito Brothers’ ISIS|1000 system is accessible from three separate buildings at its Los Angeles campus — for music, post production and finishing. Editors can access plates being worked on by its on-site visual effects company, or copy over an AAF or OMF file for the sound team to open in Avid Pro Tools in their shared workspace.

“Bandito uses Pro Tools for mixing, which also makes the ISIS|1000 handy, since we can quickly movie media between mix and editorial anywhere across the campus,” concludes Holte.

Currently, Bandito Brothers is working on a documentary called EDM, as well as commercial campaigns for Audi, Budweiser and Red Bull.


Tutorial: Using Trim editing in Premiere Pro CC 2015

By Sean “Premiere Bro” Schools

Premiere Pro CC 2015 brought more to editors than awesome color grading tools and magical transitions. The new release also brought several enhancements to Premiere Pro’s trimming capabilities.

If you’re a Premiere Pro editor who has never edited in Trim Mode, CC 2015 is the time and version to start. This post highlights three new trim features along with many tips for maximizing the efficiency of Trim Mode editing in Premiere Pro.

1. Trim and Nudge Share Shortcut
Trim and Nudge can use the same keyboard shortcut. Premiere Pro blog: https://blogs.adobe.com/premierepro/2015/06/premiere-pro-cc-2015.html.

Shortcut sharing sounds like chaos: two editing functions — Trim and Nudge — battling it out underneath the keyboard for priority. But it’s not as scary as it sounds. Premiere Pro will perform a Trim when an edited point is selected and will perform a Nudge when a clip is selected. It’s actually profoundly intuitive and it’s a feature that will soon be taken for granted.

By enabling Trim and Nudge to share the same keyboard shortcuts, Premiere Pro consolidates valuable keystrokes by giving them twice the capability. Obviously, only the Trim function of the shared shortcut applies while in Trim Mode. This tutorial shows how to map Trim commands to the default Nudge keyboard shortcuts: https://youtu.be/iEsWIE7hx9I.

trim_editing_premiere_pro_cc_2015

2. Revert Trim Session
A Revert Trim Session button can be added to the Program Monitor to enable an edit point to be returned to its original position before Trim Mode was entered — Premiere Pro blog https://blogs.adobe.com/premierepro/2015/06/premiere-pro-cc-2015.html (Note: Revert Trim Session is also a keyboard shortcut.)

Simply put, Revert Trim Session undoes successive trim edits made in Trim Mode. The ability to return an edit point to its original place, prior to changes, with one click, will make Trim Mode more appealing to many Premiere Pro editors. The Revert Trim Session feature is also particularly intriguing because it introduces a new trimming terminology: “Trim Session.” Although it’s logical to assume that Trim Session refers to all trim activity within Trim Mode, there’s no official documentation for this functionality. It may be reading too much between the lines, but it’s as if Adobe is using this language to suggest an enhanced trim editing workflow. More on that in a future post. Learn how to set-up Revert Trim Session in this tutorial: https://youtu.be/yQb7a2ilgCM.

3. Loop Playback ‘Live Trimming’
In loop playback Trim mode in the program monitor, the I and O buttons can be used to adjust the position of the edit point on the fly — Premiere Pro blog: https://blogs.adobe.com/premierepro/2015/06/premiere-pro-cc-2015.html.

We’ll coin this feature “Live Trimming” until a more official term is given by Adobe. It’s similar to “J-K-L Dynamic Trimming” (which still works in CC 2015) but it’s uniquely different in that making an edit does not require playback to stop.

While playback is looping in Trim Mode, pressing “I” and “O” will set a new in and out point (based on the current trim type) for the outgoing or incoming clips. When an edit is made, loop playback will reset on the new edit point and further editing can continue.

In a way, Live Trimming feels similar to multicam switching in being able to watch playback and make an edit when it feels right. This new functionality within Trim Mode gives Premiere Pro editors a more dynamic and interactive trim editing experience. Watch this tutorial to see Live Trimming in action: https://youtu.be/FXe-mjxR5ko.

Key Point Recap
The following tips will increase the speed and efficiency of trim editing in Premiere Pro CC 2015:
• Assign keyboard shortcuts to each of the “Select Nearest Edit Point…” commands. This will allow you to jump to the nearest edit point with a specific trim type, instead of having to select the edit point and then Toggle Trim Type (Ctrl+T).

nearest_edit_point_shortcuts
• In Trim Mode, select your trim type before you begin loop playback. Playback must be stopped to change trim type.
• Try first using “I” and “O” Live Trimming to trim the edit point to where it feels right. Then, continue to finesse using the Trim keyboard shortcuts.
• Cmd+Z will undo the last trim edit without exiting trim mode or interrupting loop playback.
• Assign keyboard shortcuts to each of the “Toggle Target Video…” commands. This will allow you to make trim edits to clips on specific video tracks. Do the same for all the “Toggle Target Audio” commands.

toggle_target_video_shortcuts

Coming Soon to this space: a post defining Trim Session, including two feature requests, and how it is a unique trim editing workflow.

Premiere Bro is the alias for Sean Schools. Sean is the video editor for JK Design. He is a Full Sail University graduate who did time in Brooklyn. You can email Sean at premierebro@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter @premierebro. You will also find this blog on his website www.premierebro.com.