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Premiere Pro and M1 MacBook Pro workflow

How well does the latest M1 MacBook Pro and Adobe’s Premiere Pro together?

M1 MacBook Pro
image courtesy of author

I think the fact I love my Apple gear, by this point, is probably not in doubt. Where it can be Apple, it will be, and that goes for apps too. I still use the native calendar app, Notes, Numbers, and even the much maligned Mac Mail. But oddly, when it comes to audio and video, I switch camps. This is a run through of my workflow with Adobe & the M1 MacBook Pro.

Learning is tough

I don’t know about you, but I do love to learn something new. A challenge is right up my street. I am currently at saturation point as I am learning all about the back-end of my new website, in WordPress. There is a lot to take on, but, it is sinking in pretty quickly. The difference though is, I had to change with my new website if I wanted to create better SEO etc. When it comes to the apps that earn me money, or I need to use quickly every day, then I think twice before re-learning skills.

As I just said, I mainly use Apple software, and I am really tempted to be one of the cool kids that uses FCP (Final Cut Pro) for video editing, or Logic Pro for audio. Their interfaces look pretty tempting and colourful, they are integral to Apple, so I’d imagine work even faster, and it seems, many creators use those tools. But I learned Adobe years back. It was the first DAW I ever used, and over time, ‘stuff’ just sinks in. I know most of the answers to problems that may occur in a session, or when editing for my videos or podcasts. Yup, all the audio you hear on my videos on my channel, is edited in Audition first. If I want to set the loudness to a certain LUFS standard – yup, I know how to do that. If I would like to strip silence from a Zoom call, I can do it in a blink of an eye. The same with Premiere, I know the keyboard shortcuts for adding fades or ripple delete. I can work very quickly, and pretty efficiently in my Adobe workflow. So, although I may be tempted to change, I just think it would cause me so much agony and tears, that the net gain of being all Apple, just seems to make no sense.

So, as I will be staying Adobe for a while yet, I thought you may find it interesting to know how I produce my YouTube videos with Adobe on the M1 MacBook Pro. There may be a surprise or two as well!

The camera

I don’t have one! In the sense of a stand alone, dedicated SLR or mirrorless camera, I have never owned one. All the video, you see, is shot on my iPhone. And it’s not even the latest one! It’s a standard 12 from a few years back. The secret to the results I get, is that I don’t use the camera app. Instead, I use FilMic Pro. It’s a paid for app you get from the app store, and it is a game changer. It allows you to set white balance (which I do on every video), ISO, and shutter settings. I also shoot in 10bit Log V3. This captures way more data that I can work with in post. A 10-minute video on YouTube will have generally taken me about 40 minutes to record. The biggest delay in my workflow is getting that file offthe phone. The files range from 15GB – 20GB. AirDrop is a no-no, and the only way I have worked out to get the file in to the Mac is via Image Capture. The news, Apple may be bringing USB-C to next year’s iPhone is music to my ears. That said, I hope to have bought, and learned the basics of a camera by then. Being able to transfer SD cards from the camera directly to the MacBook would be a massive time saver for me…..all in time, all in time!

Audio

M1 MacBook Pro and Adobe Audition
image courtesy of author

Next is the audio. I use a Røde NTG4+ shotgun mic, which is just out of frame. This is hooked up to a mixer which has some EQ running, then records on The M1 MacBook Pro directly in to Audition. I have an effects rack set up there, with noise reduction, de-essing, EQ and compression. I then set it to -23 LUFS loundness standard, and save the mono WAV file in the project folder ready to use.

Speaking of the project folder – top tip. I have a template of that folder, with all the sub-folders on my desktop. It saves so much time. Every video I start, I copy that template on to my LaCie 12TB raid, re-name it, and I’m good to go. Can’t recommend that enough.

In to Premiere Pro we go

M1 MacBook Pro & Premiere Pro
image courtesy of author

So now I am ready to start editing. I drag in the basics, such as my title sequence, the audio the raw video file. I’ll delete the audio from that native, raw video file, then line up my scratch audio with the video using Adobe’s synchronize feature. Works a treat. The only treatment the audio gets once in Premiere, is to add a multiband compressor, to give my voice a final bit of presence, and set a loundness meter to check I am within limits.

I’ll add three, empty adjustment layers on top of the video, ready for colour grading at the end. Adding colour is the last stage for me. I will now cut, chop and add B-roll. I’ll add graphics for Twitter and some transitions, pop on the end card, and I am sort of done.

Colour, glorious colour

M1 MacBook Pro
image courtesy of author

I mentioned that grading is the last thing I do. The 10bit Log V3 is very flat and grey, intentionally. It allows me the flexibility to add LUTS to the footage, and accurately add colour. The colour, directly from the iPhone, is so saturated, it would not look good. This way I can control the shadows, the blacks, and whites to ensure neither is flooding. The first LUT is one of FilMic’s which you grab free, from their website. The second LUT is a native effect from Premiere Pro, found in their Technical Lumetri Presets. The last adjustment layer is to add a little saturation, and my colour is set. The video is ready to export.

The export

M1 MacBook Pro
image courtesy of author

There is a quick export function in Premiere Pro, but I am not a big fan. In the release right now, the exported file is actually around half the size that Premiere estimates it should be. Clearly there is a problem, and I am currently working on it with Adobe. I am running the beta version of Premiere Pro at the moment, and it seems more stable. For exporting though, I export manually, with a preset, I have made. I start with their High Quality 2160p 4K preset, then tailor it to my liking. That includes setting the loudness standard to -14 lufs, and setting it to a constant bit rate, rather than variable.

The M1 MacBook at its best

This is where the power of the M1 MacBook Pro shines through. The file you watch is around 8GB with effects and colour grading. On my old Intel Mac, it took about 40 minutes, and a pair of ear defenders! The fans would spin up so loudly, and the heat was insane. On the new M1 MacBook Pro, export times are down to over half that at about 17 minutes, no fan and no heat…and all that on battery if I wish too. Pretty impressive huh.

Conclusion

My workflow has really been sped up with the M1 MacBook Pro, and Studio Monitor to edit on. I think the colour is looking better than ever, and the result, more visually pleasing.

It’s taken time to get to this point, but to re-learn all these skills, just so I can use FCP and Logic, just makes no sense. I don’t think the video would look or sound any better, and it would take me so much longer. Don’t forget, I still have WordPress and Mailchimp to master yet. Best leave the brain free for that, I reckon.

FilMic Pro – the remarkable camera & video app

Final Cut Pro – if you fancy giving it a go

Adobe CC – my creative apps of choice

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