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Review: Adobe Lightroom 5 for DSLR Video Producers

Using Adobe Lightroom 5 to color-grade and apply metadata to DSLR video files is simple and efficient and can benefit live-switchers doing minimal edits, editing novices, and pro editors exploring non-traditional workflows.

Editing Video Files in Lightroom

Once you’ve imported your files, you can do some minor pre-edits to the footage before taking it into your NLE for final editing. Head and tail non-destructive trimming can be performed under the “gear” icon for each file (Figure 3, below).

Figure 3. Video trimming in Lightroom

If you export the file from Lightroom with these trims in place, Lightroom will export only the footage inside of the in and out points. You can always go back and move those points back to their original locations to regain the entire file.

If you like to use presets for still image processing in Lightroom, you’ll find that using them for video is a bit different. If you try to use some of the more exotic presets such as “bleach bypass” or “yesteryear,” you’ll get a warning box like the one shown in Figure 4 (below).

Figure 4. Not all Lightroom processes are supported for video files.

However, as you can see, I was able to apply these filters despite the warning (Figure 5, below). The preset is non-destructive, so it will remain associated with the video if exported, but can be removed easily within Lightroom.

Figure 5. Effect applied despite the warning.

Exporting Edited Files

When you’re ready to move your file out to your NLE for post-production, Lightroom makes it easy. You could just pull the files from the finder folder, but Lightroom has an “export” feature that makes it simple. You can choose from four different qualities in the Export as dialog. “Maximum” will output an equivalent file to your source media, while “Low” will give you a reduced-resolution compressed file, suitable for email or proofing to a client. The low-quality preset gives a good-quality file with significant reduction in file size (Figure 6, below).


Figure 6. Choosing via the low-quality preset.

You essentially end up with a miniature Adobe Media Encoder built into the application. You can see that the process of exporting begins by creating the video and audio separately just like Adobe Media Encoder and combines them into one MP4 once the process is completed (Figure 7, below).

Figure 7. Exporting the video

Importing the Lightroom-edited Video into your NLE

After you’ve exported your working files, it’s a simple step to drag them into Premiere Pro or your preferred NLE (Figure 8, below). Although you’re limited in settings when exporting files, I found that the maximum and high quality settings were perfectly acceptable substitutions for the original files.

Figure 8. Importing the edited file into Premiere Pro

While the steps of entering metadata and applying color grading are usually reserved for last steps in an edit, having the ease of doing these first can be helpful for amateurs without the proper resources or training or for pros that need a non-traditional workflow. Many live-switched productions don’t need any splice edits, so color grading and metadata can be applied to an entire file at any point in the process. Having an assistant do this before bring it into the NLE for things like titles and graphics can save a senior editor time in labor and processing.

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