Editing Multi-Camera Footage with Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2017

David Salahi Premiere Pro, Video, Video Editing 3 Comments

I did a couple of multi-camera shoots recently which required me to devise a more complex editing workflow than most of the shoots I’ve previously worked. After a couple of false starts I came up with a process that worked out quite well. In this post I’d like to share what I learned. There may be better approaches (perhaps, using nested sequences?) but for my needs the procedure described below was flexible and reasonably efficient.

I’m going to focus on a shoot I did of a two-day conference (Citizens’ Climate Lobby Southern California Regional Conference) in which three cameras were used for the plenary sessions. One camera (a Panasonic GH4) was focused exclusively on the speaker; another camera (GH4) was fixed on a large projection screen showing the speaker’s slide deck and the third camera (Sony PXWZ150) alternated between the speaker and shots of the audience. I used a separate audio recorder which was connected to a feed from the room’s sound system.

I learned that there’s a lot more setup work involved in creating a multi-camera editing project than for a single-camera shoot. It’s also important to set things up appropriately for your situation so that the rest of the editing process will work smoothly.

Preparations for Creating a Multi-Camera Source Sequence

One of the key steps in editing multi-cam footage in Premiere Pro is creating a Multi-Camera Source Sequence (MCSS). This synchronizes the footage from all the cameras (and the audio) and allows you to see the footage in Premiere’s Multi-Camera view. This makes it easy to select different camera angles while playing back the footage.

I had thought that my first step after importing the footage would be to create a multi-cam source sequence. But when I did that I found some problems in synchronizing. This was because the Panasonic GH4 breaks its footage into a series of six-minute files. It will record continuously for as long as you like (until your SD card is filled). But the footage is broken into a series of six-minute files.

I use Premiere Pro’s audio synchronization method so when syncing multiple cameras what actually happens is that Premiere is synchronizing the first file from each of my GH4s. But in a one-hour talk there will be ten footage files and I found that only the first one was synchronized properly. The way this works out is dependent on several factors but I determined that the simple solution for my situation was to create a source sequence for each of my two GH4s. Creating a single source sequence for each camera also simplifies editing later as it avoids the need to make edits that span two files. (The edits can span two physical files but the process is transparent to the editor.)

To do this I simply select the set of GH4 files for one camera, right-click and choose New Sequence from Clip. This creates a regular sequence of the appropriate resolution and frame rate for the footage. I created separate camera source sequences for each of the GH4s.

One thing to watch out for when creating a camera source sequence is to make sure the files are sorted by filename (in the Project window) before selecting them to create the sequence. If some other column is selected the files will be added in that sort order, meaning that they will most likely be out of order in the resulting sequence.

A camera source sequence as I’m using the term is simply a sequence of consecutive footage files combined so that the entire sequence can be treated as a unit.

Creating a Multi-Camera Source Sequence

With the camera source sequences created I then create a Multi-Camera Source Sequence by first selecting each camera sequence & the audio file (recorded separately on a Tascam recorder). Then, with all camera sequences and the audio file selected I right-click and choose Create Multi-Camera Source Sequence from the popup menu. Finally, I create a new output sequence with my desired output resolution and then drag the MCSS onto the timeline.

Ensuring a Smooth Workflow

With a multi-camera workflow there are some options in terms of where you do things like scaling, color correction and audio editing. On this shoot I recorded on GH4s in 4K but was targeting output at 720p. This gave me the flexibility to punch in in post without losing any resolution. Of course, I then had to scale the footage down to fit the final output sequence resolution. So, the question was which should I do?

  1. Set the scale on each physical footage file within the camera source sequences or
  2. Set the scale on my camera source sequence or
  3. Set the scale in the final output sequence?

Option 1 requires extra work because I have multiple physical files for each camera. So, I used a combination of 2 & 3. I first set a scale factor of 0.33 to make the 4K footage fit properly on my 720p final output sequence. This allows me to see the entire source frame so I know what I’ve got when I’m choosing camera angles. Then, to take advantage of the ability to zoom in in post I can adjust the scale factor of individual clips on the output timeline.

Editing Inside the Multi-Camera Source Sequence

Now, to set the scale factor on my entire source camera sequence I need to do that within the multi-camera source sequence. However, you cannot directly open a multi-camera source sequence from the Project window. If you double-click on a MCSS in the Project window (or in the timeline of a final edit sequence) it will open the MCSS in the Source window. From there you can see each of the camera views but you’re limited in what you can do. You can’t set the scale of the individual source sequences, for example.

The fix for that is to open the MCSS by control-double-clicking on it (in Windows) in the final output timeline. That will open it into a view in the Timeline window showing each source sequence (each camera angle) as a separate layer in the timeline:

You can then select each layer so you can scale or otherwise adjust it as needed. Of course, you’ll have to temporarily toggle off the visibility of higher layers in order to see the effects of your changes on lower layers. And in this example, you can see that I’ve muted all the scratch audio (camera audio) and left only Track 1, the Tascam recorder sound, enabled.

I also thought about doing color correction in the multi-cam source sequence figuring that I could just adjust each camera sequence all at once to correct/match the other cameras. However, the room where the plenary sessions took place had some relatively large windows. This meant that the color temperature changed throughout the day so this approach would not work well. Instead, I decided to color correct each clip in the final output sequence to get consistent color from shot to shot.

The other thing I tend to do is adjust the audio before chopping the final output sequence into camera angle clips. Unlike my case with color correction it worked well for me to make all the audio adjustments once.

This process took care of all the setup I needed. The rest of the work is pretty straightforward as you edit the multi-cam source sequence to choose the different camera angles at the appropriate times. This results in a final output sequence like this one with cuts between cameras.

Pilotfly Stabilizer, A Cautionary Tale

David Salahi Gear 2 Comments

I’ve had some bad experiences with buying stabilizers directly from manufacturers in China. In a previous post (see sidebar) I commented on the problems I had trying to order a stabilizer from CAME. I eventually canceled that order and purchased a Pilotfly H1+. After receiving that unit I posted about the vagaries of balancing it and in another post I discussed the problems I had when the unit’s parameters got scrambled.

Now, after just eight months of very light use my H1+ has failed completely—it won’t power on. I chatted with Pilotfly on their Facebook page and they recommended that I return it for repair. To Taiwan. And, of course, there’s no warranty.

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iPad error message

Android or iOS?

David Salahi Gear Leave a Comment

Over the years, I’ve owned several Apple products starting with the Apple II. But I’m not an Apple fanboy. I believe in using the right tool for the job. Later, I needed to run CP/M so I bought a Franklin and have since had a number of Windows PCs. In 2004 I decided that the iPod was the right music player for me and I eventually had three of them over the years.

My first smartphone was the original Droid and when I bought my first tablet I went with the Motorola XOOM, both Android devices. But when I was ready for a new tablet I got an iPad 3 and I later bought an iPad Air. I’ve been pretty happy with both iPads (with some misgivings; see below)—until yesterday.

Trouble in Apple Paradise

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X Theme for WordPress is a Powerhouse

David Salahi Website Design 5 Comments

I was recently introduced to the versatile X theme for WordPress by another web designer and was immediately impressed by its power, attractiveness and flexibility. The theme makes it easy to create the sort of open, graphically rich websites that are so popular today. At the same time, it plays well on everything from small smartphone screens to large desktop screens. And it’s highly customizable so tweakers like me can get down and dirty with the settings and the code to get things looking just the way we like. I’ve been so impressed by all the functionality and flexibility that I decided to convert both this blog and my business website to X.

Website built with the X theme for WordPress

The X theme comes with a slew of plugins including a visual drag-and-drop page builder that allows anyone from the casual designer to the hard-core coder to quickly create attractive sites.
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Panasonic GH4 Special Microphone Needs Special Extension Cable

David Salahi Gear 3 Comments

I wanted to use my Panasonic GH4 microphone, the DMW-MS2, as a boom mike so I did a little test recently, attaching it to a boom on a light stand. This mike is designed to be mounted on the GH4 hot shoe and I’ve used it that way numerous times. But I had a situation calling for a boom mike so I thought I’d try it out that way.

The microphone itself has a cable that’s only 8” long and the cable terminates in a 1/8" plug. Obviously, I would need an extension cable for the boom situation so I got one out and plugged it in. I was surprised to find that the microphone didn’t work properly. The reason is that the microphone has a non-standard plug which communicates some additional information between the mike and the camera. This allows you to configure the mike dynamically to any one of four modes: shotgun, super shotgun, stereo, or lens angle tracking. Those are nice features but they come with a cost. I wrote about a related problem previously. In that post I explained that you can’t connect the DMW-MS2 to an analog preamp.

So, I was aware of the special nature of the microphone but in this case I figured it would work because I wasn’t connecting to a preamp. Instead, I’d be connecting (almost) directly to the GH4. There would just be an extension cable in between. Wrong.

Normal microphone with regular 1/8" stereo plug

Normal microphone with regular 1/8″ stereo plug

Panasonc microphone with special 1/8" stereo plug; note the extra ring

Panasonc microphone with special 1/8″ stereo plug; note the extra ring

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Matching Color Temperature Using the Panasonic GH4

David Salahi Gear, Tips & Techniques 1 Comment

Aputure Light Storm LS 1c bicolor LED light panel

Aputure Light Storm LS 1c bicolor LED light panel; you can see the two different LED colors in alternating rows

Aputure Light Storm LS 1c controller; top red number is power level; bottom number is color temp (multiply * 100)

Aputure Light Storm LS 1c controller; top red number is power level; bottom number is color temp (multiply * 100)

The first time I set up my new LED panel for a shoot I realized I didn’t have a good procedure worked out for matching the color temperature of the ambient light. My new panel is the Aputure Light Storm LS 1c which is a bicolor panel. I chose it partially for the ability to set any desired color temperature between 3200K and 5500K. I like having the flexibility to dial in the color temperature to match the ambient light without having to bother with gels. I had figured it would be easy to do with the new panel but I hadn’t actually thought through the workflow.

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Excerpts from a Dance Show

David Salahi Uncategorized 1 Comment

These are excerpts from a dance show I shot in December 2015. The entire show was about an hour and fifteen minutes long with a total of 30 dances/songs.The footage was shot on a Panasonic GH4 with a Panasonic 35-100 mm f2.8 lens from the back of the auditorium about 200 feet from the stage. Shot in 4K with the Cinelike D profile. ISO was at 1000 for most of the show. Edited & color corrected with Premiere Pro CC, reframed to HD (1920 x 1080); uses some of the Red Giant Universe transitions.

The dance show was staged by LonDance, a dance studio in Laguna Niguel where I recently started taking lessons. In addition to being terrific dancers the instructors are also excellent teachers. And they’re unfailingly patient—especially important for an uncoordinated student like me!

Pilotfly H1+ Gimbal Stabilizer Demo Footage

David Salahi Gear, Video Leave a Comment

Here’s some test footage I shot in Laguna Beach, CA with my Pilotfly H1+ stabilizer. The camera is a Panasonic Lumix GH4 with the Panasonic 12-35 mm lens at 12 mm. Optical stabilization in the lens was turned on. I shot in 4K and in a couple of clips I zoomed out to full HD in post (i.e., started at full 4K resolution with the shot cropped; then, zoomed out to contain the whole frame as shot, scaled down to 50%).

Bad Parameters Can Disable Pilotfly H1+ Gimbal Stabilizer

David Salahi Gear 2 Comments

To fully utilize the Pilotfly H1+ 3-axis stabilizer you really have to invest some effort in learning its features as well as its support software. And, in the process you have to read between the lines and take care not to break anything. As I delved into my H1+ I discovered that it’s all too easy to make a change that can end up disabling your device. My failure to heed the warning below led to a week of downtime with my H1+.

Save profile warningRead More

Switching from Carbonite to Acronis True Image

David Salahi Software Leave a Comment

I recently decided to switch from Carbonite to Acronis True Image as my backup solution. I had been using Carbonite for several years and it has saved my system on several occasions. However, as I’ve previously written, I’ve had problems with both its functionality and the user interface. Recently, I upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 10 and was hoping to use Carbonite to assist with the transition. Frequently, when I reinstall Windows (something I do once or twice a year) I’ll find that there are files somewhere on my C: drive that I forgot to backup before reinstalling Windows. (Almost all of my data is on other drives but Windows and some apps insist on storing preferences, customizations and other info on the C: drive.)

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