Lightroom 4 Video Editing

One of the most interesting new features in Lightroom 4 is the ability for users to edit videos from the Lightroom interface. In previous versions of the software, Lightroom would only link to videos and play them in an external program. With Lightroom 4 you can not only play videos within the Lightroom interface, but you can also trim them and apply different effects. While this may sound like a game changer for many Lightroom users who double as still and video content producers, Adobe’s execution of video editing leaves a lot to be desired. First let’s start with some of the good points about Lightroom 4’s video editing capabilities. Lightroom now lets you scrub a video thumbnail to preview its contents. That comes in handy when you want to quickly check the contents of a video file. The video trim feature is another handy tool if you just want to do a quick in and out point edit before publishing your video. Last, but not least, is the ability to apply effects to images in a way that is somewhat similar to editing still images. The previous positive point about editing images is also one of the biggest problems with Lightroom 4’s video editing capabilities. In order to apply effects to a video you have to either: A) apply a previously created preset to the video, or B) capture a still frame from the video, edit that frame to your liking, then apply those settings to the video. There is no simple way to enter the develop mode for a video. This makes the process unnecessarily complicated for people who just want to apply a quick color or exposure correction to their video. What should be a 2 step process has become a 5 step process. The second big issue that I have with Lightroom is that it limits the effects that you can apply to a video. Wite balance and tone are allowed, as well as color treatment effects (see above image for the full list). Noise Reduction, Lens Corrections, Effects, and other items aren’t allowed though. Adobe didn’t include these features because they are CPU intensive and wouldn’t provide a buffer-free experience when previewing videos. This is something that I wish they would have built an on/off switch for because I would really appreciate having a Noise Reduction filter for my videos, at least when I’m exporting. Adobe added in the new video editing features as a way to appeal to photographers who dabble in cinematography, but they left out the functionality required to actually edit clips together into a single piece. Once you’ve trimmed down your shots, applied effects, and exported them you will have to combine the clips together in another program like Avid, Final Cut, Adobe Premiere, or (…shudder…) Windows Movie Maker. This makes sense since Adobe Premiere (~$555) is better suited for real editing and Adobe doesn’t want to cut into their own product line. The few video editing features that were added into Lightroom don’t feel like they were thought out entirely. The need to generate snapshots in order to develop a custom setting for a video is an annoying process that will keep many photographers from ever discovering how to apply effects to videos. The Lightroom 4 update is more of a small evolutionary update rather than a revolutionary one. I will provide further coverage on this product update, including the new Map and Book modules in a future blog post..


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