Wading Through Export Options

This is where the export process gets bogged down. So many options are available, and it may not be immediately apparent which to use and why. I'll try to simplify and streamline the process:

  1. Select Export Timeline, Movie to open the Export Movie dialog box.

  2. Click Settings to open the Export Movie Settings dialog box with General Settings selected in the drop-down list. That list opens four other Export Movie submenus: Video, Audio, Keyframe and Rendering, and Special Processing. I'll cover them in turn. First up, General.

Export Movie Settings?General

Illustrated in Figure 19.7, this is a straightforward dialog box with few options. Two have obvious uses?Open When Finished and Beep When Finished. Here are the rest:

  • File Type is the export format that you've already checked out.

  • Range is the part of the project you'll export: the entire project or whatever is under the work area bar.

  • Export Video and Export Audio are available for A/V output file types. This is why you don't need to use Export Clip if you want to create a video-only QuickTime file, for instance.

  • Embedding Options applies only to AVI and QuickTime video files. Selecting Project Link lets you import the exported file back to Premiere and other supported programs that use the Edit Original command to do additional editing on it.

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    Edit Original lets you select a clip in the timeline and open it in its original software to change it. Once resaved, it shows up back in Premiere in its newly edited form. You can access Edit Original in the main menu: Edit, Edit Original.


  • Advanced Settings applies only to Animated GIF and GIF Sequence files. It offers options to ensure proper Web-safe colors, set a transparency color, and loop Animated GIF files.

  • Current Settings displays all settings applicable to the currently selected file type. If you change these settings within the four other Export Movie Settings dialog boxes, those changes will show up here.

Figure 19.7. The General version of the Export Movie Settings dialog box has few options.

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Besides exporting from the timeline, you can export from the Clip or Source Monitor screen. In those cases, if you mark in- and out-points and then select Export Clip, Movie, Settings, Range, you will see two choices: In to Out and Entire Clip. But as I've mentioned before, you will not be able to export both video and audio. Therefore, stick with using the Export Timeline menu.


Export Movie Settings?Video

Video is the single most important Export Movie Settings dialog box. Here, you set the video quality, including codec, frame size, frame rate, color depth, and quality.

There is the sense that things can become a bit complicated here. Figure 19.8 only begins to show the huge number of options. I'll try to simplify things by breaking the process down by type of export file.

Figure 19.8. The Video version of the Export Movie Settings dialog box just begins to show all the many options available.

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Some options make huge differences in the quality of your exported file, whereas others have minimal differences. Which options are available depends entirely on the file type you select in the General version of the Export Movie Settings dialog box.

The options used for most file types are Frame Size, Frame Rate, Depth, and Quality. All are fairly self-explanatory. Some are dependent on the chosen codec (compression/decompression algorithm). The smaller the frame size and lower the frame rate, color depth, and quality, the smaller the exported file size. This used to be a critical issue. Many older computers could not handle higher data-rate A/V files. It's not that critical any more. Here are some of the other options:

  • DV Output has virtually no options. It operates only at its highest quality. You choose between NTSC and PAL. You also set the pixel aspect ratio?basically wide-screen or regular.

  • Microsoft AVI and QuickTime present the most options. The most perplexing is the codec you'll use. AVI works with 7, QuickTime with 20. Which one you choose is largely up to your needs. Adobe does not offer documentation on any of the codecs supported by Premiere. I wrote up a simplified rundown in the following sidebar.

    Some of these codecs let you set a maximum data rate. Originally this was to ensure the newly created video file did not exceed the speed ratings of lower-end CD-ROM drives. That, too, is ancient history. Checking Recompress gives you two options: Always recompresses every frame, even if it is below the stated maximum data rate, and Maintain Data Rate recompresses only those frames above the maximum rate.

  • Quality, which can have a setting from 0 to 100%, is another narrow-purpose option. If you captured video using a codec and choose a lower-quality setting, you should use that same quality setting or less for export. Because you probably will work with DV source video most of the time?and therefore will not do any compression during capture?this issue rarely will be a factor.

Codec Characteristics

The number of codecs available in the Video version of the Export Movie Settings dialog box is overwhelming. You will find no documentation on any of them in your Premiere printed manual or online help file. (A caveat: The manual and help file were not completed when I wrote this book, but Adobe did not address codecs in previous Premiere manuals.) Here is a barebones rundown:

Standard video QuickTime/Windows AVI codecs? Cinepak and Indeo. Cinepak, developed in the late 1980s, is the Old Guard industry standard. Indeo 4 is better than Cinepak but requires a fast computer.

Newer video codecs (QuickTime only)? Sorenson and Motion JPEG. Both are a step up from Cinepak and Indeo. In general, Sorenson is your best bet of all standard QuickTime codecs. Motion JPEG is used mainly for storage, not playback. (Note that Photo JPEG creates high-quality images but is slow.)

Graphic animation codecs (QuickTime only)? Animation and Planar RGB.

Still image codecs (QuickTime only)? TIFF, BMP, TGA, and PNG.

Others (QuickTime only)? H.261 and H.263 are for video conferencing.

For more information on video codecs, see http://www.siggraph.org/education/materials/HyperGraph/video/codecs/Default.htm.

Export Movie Settings?Audio

Right off the bat, this may be a bit confusing. Here's why: Earlier you accessed the Export Audio Settings dialog box by selecting Export Timeline, Audio and clicking Settings. Do that again and then select QuickTime as the file type and use the drop-down menu at the top of the Export Audio Settings dialog box and select Audio. That opens the Export Audio Settings, Audio dialog box. Click the Compressor drop-down menu. As shown in Figure 19.9, this displays 12 audio codecs.

Figure 19.9. Export Audio Settings, Audio dialog box.

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Exit out of this dialog box and select Export Timeline, Movie. Click Settings, select QuickTime from the File Type drop-down list, and use the drop-down menu at the top of the dialog box to open the Export Movie Settings, Audio dialog box. Again, open the Compressor drop-down list. This is shown in Figure 19.10.

Figure 19.10. The Audio version of the Export Movie Settings dialog box. Looks the same as Figure 19.9.

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These dialog boxes are the same, with the only difference being the window names, as highlighted in the figures.

What this means is that if you want to export only the audio from your project?be it audio-only clips or only the audio portion of your project?you might as well select Export Timeline, Movie, click Settings, uncheck the Export Video box, select a file type?QuickTime or Microsoft DV AVI or regular AVI?and proceed to the Export Movie Settings, Audio dialog box. The only thing you'll miss is the rarely used Microsoft WAV audio file option.

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Audio settings apply only to exported files created with Microsoft DV AVI, Microsoft AVI, and QuickTime. All other file types create images only?as single frames, sequences, or animations. If you select one of those file types and go to the Export Movie Settings, Audio dialog box, Premiere will have grayed out all the audio options.


Now that you're in the Export Movie Settings, Audio dialog box, you face only a few options. All are intended to compress your audio to make it play smoothly at a lower data rate. Again, with faster computers, this is much less critical than it used to be.

Here is a rundown of the audio options:

  • Rate sets the number of samples per second. 44.1 KHz is CD music quality. It's best to capture audio at the planned export/output rate to avoid "resampling," which can lead to some quality loss.

  • Format sets the bit rate for each sample. Higher is better. Your choice is 16 or 8 bit, stereo or mono.

  • Compressor is the audio codec. In general, the best choice is Uncompressed. The audio portion of a video consumes much less bandwidth than the video portion. Although Adobe probably will not provide documentation on audio or video codecs in Premiere's printed manual or online help file, the company does offer up a few Web pages on the subject and the Audio Codec section is fairly up to date: http://www.adobe.com/support/techguides/premiere/prmr_codecs/main.html.

  • Interleave sets the rate that Premiere inserts audio information among the video frames of the exported file. Smaller numbers require less RAM but may lead to audio breakup. The default value of one second should work fine.

  • Enhance Rate Conversion is another means to improve audio quality while increasing export processing/rendering time. Selecting Good or Best means Premiere will take longer to analyze audio data and change its sampling rate to match your selection.

  • Use Logarithmic Audio Fades smoothes audio volume changes, mimicking the logarithmic audio scale used by the human ear and standard volume controls. This, too, uses extra processing power.

  • Create Audio Preview Files … has nothing to with exporting audio. As covered earlier in this book, you adjust this if the real-time preview of the timeline has audio pops or hissing.

Export Movie Settings?Keyframe and Rendering

With the exception of one item?Fields?you may never use the settings in this dialog box. To see how all of them work, you need to go back a couple steps:

  1. Click the drop-down menu at the top of the Export Movie Settings dialog box and select General. In that dialog box's File Type drop-down list, select Microsoft AVI or QuickTime.

  2. Move to the Export Movie Settings, Video dialog box by using the drop-down list at the top and selecting Video. In that dialog box's Compressor drop-down list, select Cinepak (this codec works with both Microsoft AVI and QuickTime video files). Cinepak is one of the few codecs that uses keyframes (not the keyframes you apply within Premiere to change effects over time but rather frames of video Cinepak analyzes as part of its compression process).

  3. Move to the Export Movie Settings, Keyframe and Rendering dialog box by using the drop-down list at the top of the page and selecting Keyframe and Rendering (see Figure 19.11).

    Figure 19.11. The Export Movie Settings, Keyframe and Rendering dialog box.

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Here's a rundown on what's available in this window:

Ignore Audio Effects, Ignore Video Effects, Ignore Rubberbands? Why, you might ask, would you want to "ignore" all those special effects you spent hours applying to your project? You probably won't want to do this. But if you do want to make a "rough cut" of your video to show someone to discuss possible changes, this is one way to do it. Uncheck these boxes when you export the real thing later.

Optimize Stills and Frames Only at Markers? Why you'd use these options, I don't know. Optimize Stills saves disk space by converting still images into single, longer-playing frames instead of playing 30 frames per second. Frames Only at Markers exports only still images of the frames you've identified with markers on the timeline. In that case, you might as well make still frames one at a time.

Fields? This is one of those easily overlooked "gotchas." The default setting for all DV output should be Lower Field First. For computer monitors, it's No Fields. Premiere should automatically change this setting, depending on the file type. However, that does not appear to be the case. Therefore, do check this. Some video hardware needs to have an Upper Field setting. You'll have to check your documentation to find out.

Keyframes? Offers a level of control few video producers will ever need nor want to exploit. Some codecs?Cinepak, Intel Indeo, Sorenson, and others?offer this user-selected option. Basically, more keyframes means better-looking compressed video and more rendering time. But this is serious engineering overkill.

Export Movie Settings?Special Processing

Holy cow! Just when you thought it was safe to start rendering, even more?largely unnecessary?fine-tuning options. Most of these options, shown in Figure 19.12, let you reduce the data rate of your compressed video even more. But again, that is yesterday's news. Today's computers don't demand this level of compression. But in case you were wondering, here's a rundown:

  • Cropping lets you shrink the portion of the screen that will display in the entire compressed data file. The slider lets you see how that cropped image will look throughout your entire project, but you can't set keyframes to move the cropped area around or adjust its size. If you crop, you can check the Scale box to have the codec expand the cropped image to fill the final output screen size.

  • Noise Reduction lets you set a degree of blurring that increases compression efficiency. Blur is subtle, Gaussian is stronger, and Median attempts to keep object edges sharp.

  • Better Resize uses a Premiere compression "helper" to improve the video quality of cropped videos. If you crop, check this box.

  • Deinterlace is another Premiere "helper" that produces better images when you're creating QuickTime or AVI files.

  • Gamma lets you adjust the brightness of mid-tones to lighten darker videos, and vice versa. Adobe recommends a Gamma setting of 0.7 to 0.8 (a brighter overall look) for Mac/Windows cross-platform playback. My take is that this, too, is unnecessary. But if your QuickTime videos look fine on a Mac but dark on a PC, this is where you can fix it.

Figure 19.12. The Special Processing dialog box.

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    Part II: Enhancing Your Video
     
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