5 TIps for editing DSLR footage in Adobe Premiere
By Rich Harrington & Colin Smith
Issue: May 1, 2011

5 TIps for editing DSLR footage in Adobe Premiere

Small and inexpensive DSLR cameras are changing the filmmaking landscape and allowing users to capture images that look like they were shot on film. Here are some Premiere Pro CS 5.5 tips to help navigate this native file-based DSLR workflow. 

1 - Rename Batch Files in Bridge

Utilizing Adobe Bridge is a handy way to batch rename digital media camera files because they are likely named with a combination of letters and a progressive numbering system. The Batch command can improve the organization of your files.

Launch Adobe Bridge and navigate to a folder containing several images you want to rename.

Press Command+A (Ctrl+A) to select all the files in the folder.

Choose Tools > Batch Rename. A new dialog opens.

You must specify a destination for the renamed files. You can choose to keep them in their current folder, move them to another folder, or copy them to another destination.

Specify new filenames using a combination of menus and a text field. You can add a custom name and even a sequential number to ensure unique file names. Check the preview of the new filename for accuracy. Make sure the box next to Preserve current filename in XMP Metadata is selected so you can always reference the original filenames.

Specify either Mac or Windows compatibility.

When ready, click the Rename button to complete the batch rename.

2 - Import DSLR Video Sources in Adobe Premiere Pro

Adobe Premiere Pro supports many of the most popular DSLR video formats natively, meaning no conversion upon import. Just access the files on any attached hard drive or card via the Media Browser and import them or just leave them on the card and preview or edit from there. Once imported, DSLR files are edited using the highest level of color (32-bit floating point) when using the built-in effects. This gives you the best latitude allowing you to manipulate DSLR files without concern of the any additional degradation. 

3 - Fix White Balance in Adobe Premiere Pro

Fix color easily in your clips with the Fast Color Corrector effect. 

Click the eyedropper to manually assign a white balance in Program monitor by selecting a color that should be white or neutral gray and the eyedropper will automatically assign the correct color on the Hue Balance and Angle wheel. 

If the white balance is still not optimal, drag the Balance Magnitude slider, which will increase the amount of color balance correction as determined by the Balance Angle.

Saturation is adjusted by moving the Saturation slider away from its default location of 100 with values less than 100 decreasing saturation and values greater than 100 producing more saturated colors.

4 - Deal with Poor Lighting

From blown out skies to shadows, Shadow/Highlight is a powerful and intuitive way to target your adjustments to fix troublesome footage.

Drag the Shadow/Highlight effect onto a clip to adjust.

Uncheck the Auto Amounts box to take manual control.

Twirl down More Options to access advanced control.

Adjust the Shadow Tonal Width and Highlight Tonal Width sliders. The range defines which areas are affected (the lower the number the tighter the range).

Adjust the Shadow Radius and Highlight Radius to create a transition area between selected and non-selected pixels.

Modify the Shadow Amount to lighten shadows in the image.

Modify the Highlight Amount to darken highlights in the image.

Enable Temporal Smoothing to a few frames to analyze adjacent frames when adjusting tone. Using a higher value can compensate for sudden changes in the scene.

Boost Color Correction for washed out clips to restore saturation to the affected areas.

Use Midtone Contrast to increase the amount of contrast.

5 - Create Simple Vignettes

Draw the viewer’s attention to the center of the screen by using a vignette, a common technique when color grading. Here's an easy way to create your own vignette layer that can be placed onto the top track of your timeline and customized to taste.

Choose File > New > Color Matte. The dimensions will match the open sequence, so click OK.

Set the Matte to white and click OK.

Locate the Matte in the Project panel and double-click its name to edit. Call it Vignette and press Return (Enter).

Add the Vignette object to the topmost empty track (you may need to add another empty track to the timeline).

In the Effects panel type Ramp into the search field. Drag the effect on the newly added layer in the Timeline panel.

Click once to load the layer into the Effect Controls panel.

Twirl down the Ramp Properties. Try the following values (but customize to taste).

Start of Ramp – 960.0 540.0 (or the center value for your sequence).

Start Color – White

End of Ramp – 1800.0 1000.0 (or just about to the outer edge).

End Color – Black

Ramp Shape – Radial Ramp

Twirl down the Opacity property. Set the Blend Mode to Multiply and adjust the Opacity to taste. Trim the Vignette layer to cover up all of the desired shots in the timeline. You can use the Razor tool to split it into separate clips. These can then be further adjusted to move the center point of the gradient as needed to control the viewer's focus. You can copy and paste this Vignette to other sequences.