Simon Walker is an Adobe Certified Master Trainer, and trains industry professionals in the full range of Adobe Creative Cloud video tools. More info about Simon...




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Legal luma and chroma levels in Premiere Pro CC 2015

When working with broadcasters, legalising (legalizing!) always comes up as a pressing topic. 

In my experience, Premiere Pro’s Video Limiter effect has proven very useful as a method to keep luma and chroma levels legal for broadcast. It’s a much (much)better tool than Broadcast Colors. In fact Adobe think so too, as they’ve removed the Broadcast Colors effect from the CC2015 release!

“The Broadcast Colors effect has been deprecated in Premiere Pro CC 2015 in favor of the Video Limiter effect. It is provided in CC 2015 only to preserve the effect when opening older projects which used the effect, but new instances of it cannot be applied. Definitely check out Video Limiter as it's more capable and robust, and has GPU accelerated capabilities.”

Video Limiter is only really meant to catch stray illegal pixels, and isn’t a replacement for properly colour correcting the clips, which is the best method to manage luma and chroma levels. However, I do think there is a place for a legalising check, especially if you’re on a deadline, and I’ve seen it used successfully on time sensitive projects.

The trick to getting a good result out of Video Limiter is to set the Reduction Axis parameter to Chroma and Luma, rather than the default setting of Smart Limit. It’s also useful to apply the effect to an adjustment layer, set to the duration of the sequence. Video Limiter is a Mercury Playback accelerated effect, and therefore GPU enabled, so it won’t slow down playback or final output.

One thing that’s worth noting is that if you’re dealing with bright saturated colours the limiter can affect the final colour output, so be prepared to adjust the Chroma Max setting to compensate. 

On sport productions I’ve been involved with, I’ve found that the Chroma Max default setting of +130% can display an RGB gamut error on the scopes, and reducing this to around 100% removes the error (which is one of the techniques we used at the World Cup in Rio last year). However it also can desaturate the brightest colors. Whilst this will give a reliable result in most cases, it’s important to keep an eye on those bright orange and red saturated colours which turn up on football shirts and racing cars (yes, I’m looking at you Netherlands and Ferrari).

UPDATE: Sept 2015

Adobe's reveal at IBC2015 of the forthcoming features soon to be added to Premiere Pro, includes the addition of the Video Limiter in the Effects tab of the export settings dialog, allowing you access to the same settings as the main filter itself.

This means you will be able to catch those stray illegal pixels on export. The caveat is that you'll need to check the exported video, although you do get a nice visual indication of how the Video Limiter will affect the output, and you can see how it affects different frames by scrubbing the playhead in the output preview window.

As mentioned above this is, of course, not designed to be used as a substitute for correcting clips on the timeline, but can be handy if you have to deliver legal levels when editing and outputting on a fast turnaround.

Originally posted at: Legal luma and chroma levels in Premiere Pro CC 2015



How to save your eyes. And brain.


It hurts to look at my phone. It hurts to not look at it.

Like most people addicted to their smart phones, I have an extremely bad habit of ‘just checking’ my phone just before I go to sleep. Four hours later.

I have an equally bad habit of shutting off the phone alarm in the morning, and squint-reading every single update that has been posted in the last 8 hours.

This leaves my eyes perpetually sore and sensitive to bright lights. And screens. Many articles online tell me just how bad this is for my brain, as well as my eyes:

Smartphones Ruin More Than Your Sleep — They May Also Be Destroying Your Vision

Why the light from your smartphone is keeping you up at night, & what to do about it

Avoiding late night screen usage isn’t always an option. Sometimes, you have a crazy client deadline, or it suits your body clock to work late. 

The latest issue of Wired talks about being aware of the chemistry of your body to find the best time of day to be productive for different types of tasks (although I’m not sure I could get away with a nap in front of the client!). And many people have different circadian rhythms, often depending on age:

My 21 year old son likes to research and write late at night and can find the small hours more creative, whereas by that time I can’t keep my eyes open. Except to watch TV and waste time on the internet, obviously.

So, if I have to ‘work late’, I find that using f.lux on my MacBook Pro hugely reduces eyestrain:

Reduce Eye Strain and Get Better Sleep by Using f.lux on Your Computer

I’m just waiting for f.lux to be available for the iPhone and iPad (without jailbreaking - something my son may or may not have experience with). 

Or, even better, developing more disciplined bedtime habits.


Having time for coffee, and how I fell in love with SSD and ExFAT

Every time I prepare to train a class of editors, I seem to discover another interesting project that would be great to share with them, and include in the training files. And of course those files need to be transferred onto their computers, typically ahead of time.

Gone are the days when I could dump the training content onto a small USB stick first thing in the morning, and whiz around the computers, transferring files whilst the trainees arrived.

These days I have well over 20GB of sample files, tutorials and useful projects that can be referred to long after the class is over. Which means... getting to the training location the night before, or ridiculously early in the morning, just to have time to transfer all the files.

And more and more, trainees are turning up on the day with their own laptops, meaning elongated introductions and coffee time whilst I transfer files. This is why I've been using G-Tech ev drives (I'm getting around 130MB/s transfer speed), to reduce the transfer time.

Until now...

Several weeks ago I took delivery of the G-DRIVE SSD ev drive, and just stared unbelievingly at the transfer speed... 

Being able to transfer over 20GB of files in about a minute via USB3 onto a 2013 MacBook Pro Retina (in my tests it achieved almost 400 MB/s) makes the start of the training day significantly easier. Especially when you have up to 10 attendees, and you need to transfer material onto all their machines). 

Also, re-formatting the drive to ExFAT means that whether delegates turn up with a Windows or Mac machine, I don't have carry duplicate drives in various formats, just to be able to transfer files.

And these days, training Premiere Pro means training on both Windows and Mac simultaneously, with the same files, as PPro performs on both platforms almost identically (allthough there are a few things to consider when transferring a project between platforms).

I know I could save time by pre-loading material onto multiple drives and carrying these around with me everywhere I go, but as I travel extensively for work, it can be lots of fun* just watching whilst airport security slowly unpacks your bag and asks why you have so many drives in your hand-luggage.

(*not fun at all)

So, practically, how does this affect my day? Fewer drives means lighter bags and less shoulder pain, and quicker transfer speeds means faster transfer of files, so I now have time to actually chat to the trainees and find out what they'd really like to get out of the day (which means better training for them!).

Oh, and it means I get to actually have a coffee at the start of the day as well.


Premiere Pro Training at the World Cup

It's not often that these opportunities come along, so I was delighted to be asked to support the editors working for HBS, the host broadcaster at the International Broadcast Centre in Rio for the FIFA 2014 World Cup!

Along with fellow trainer Chris Roberts, we were responsible for providing training and workflow advice and support to the world cup editors for Adobe's range of professional video tools (Premiere Pro, Prelude, After Effects, SpeedGrade, Audition and Media Encoder).

The editors were selected because of their broadcast background and skills (not least their ability to be away from home for long periods of time!), and predominantly had FCP and AVID experience. So our task was to help them transfer their storytelling skills to the suite of Adobe applications used at the World Cup.

We also worked alongside key members of Adobe's Premiere Pro development team on site. David MacGavran, the Senior Engineering Manager, for Premiere Pro has written a great blog about his experience in Rio, and it was great to work with him and his colleagues.

I have to say a huge thanks to the staff and management at HBS, and a special mention goes out to the guys from MOOVIT, who provided essential engineering, support, coding and development on-site, including creating innovative systems to connect the EVS servers to all the Premiere Pro and After Effects edit suites, and a custom application to manage the launching of Premiere Pro project files for multiple users.

Here's a video interview Adobe filmed at the IBC Exhibition in September 2014, about my experience in Rio.

And here are some pics that hopefully give a flavour of what it was like at the International Broadcast Centre in Rio.

And yes... despite that fact that Chris and I had to provide training cover for every day during the Wolrd Cup, I did manage to escape to the beach... in this case Copacabana!



FMX 2014 Stuttgart

I'm delighted to say that I’ve been invited to run an Adobe and Red Giant editing and effects workshop at the FMX Conference on Animation, Effects, Games and Transmedia, which runs from April 22-25 2014 in Stuttgart, Germany.

I'll be presenting tips and techniques for increasing editing and effects skill level and to help you work faster in Premiere Pro CC and SpeedGrade CC, along with showcasing the brand new Red Giant Universe and the new update to Magic Bullet Looks.

Details of my session are here:

You can find out more about the fantastic program of other sessions here:


Magic Bullet Looks 2.5 at NAB, Las Vegas

I'm delighted to say that I've been invited by Red Giant to help showcase the update to their industry standard colour grading plug-in Magic Bullet Looks at the Las Vegas NAB Show.

I'll be showing off the new features of the software, as well as talking about features of their other new release Universe. Here's the presentation schedule for NAB:

Red Giant are also giving away special prizes for people who visit the booth, so come along and say hi! Booth SL3729 (Plugin Pavilion, South Lower Hall)




Grading sessions at Inter BEE 2013: Tokyo

こんにちは! I'll be demonstrating colour correction and grading techniques at this year's Interbee show in Japan in November.

I'll be on the Flashback stand 8314 in Hall 8, demonstrating Red Giant's Magic Bullet Looks, showing tips and tricks, and showing how you can suggest a mood and evoke an emotion response from your viewer, all through the use of colour! So if you're in Toyko come along, it will be great to see you! 

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