Video Finesse Frequently Asked Questions
Is Video Finesse compatible with Premiere 6.0?
Yes, Video Finesse is compatible with Premiere 4.2, 5.1, and 6.0. Video Finesse filters are applied as any other video effect is within Premiere. To access the Video Finesse settings dialogs in Premiere 6.0, click on the underlined word Setup in the Effect Control palette.
When installing Video Finesse for use with Premiere 6.0, select Premiere 5 as the type of installation to do.
Is there a manual available?
Yes, the downloadable installer includes a 70+ page electronic User's Guide in Adobe PDF format.
After installation, on the Macintosh you'll find this manual in the Video Finesse folder after installation. Under Windows, you'll find the manual in the Video Finesse folder and also in the Start Menu under Video Finesse.
How do I open the User's Guide?
The User's Guide is in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format. You'll need Acrobat Reader 3.0 or later to read the manual.
If you have the CD-ROM version of Video Finesse, or a recent Adobe product, you'll find the Acrobat Reader on the installer CD-ROM. If not, you can download the free Reader from the Adobe web site.
How do I run the Video Finesse application?
- Video Finesse is not a standalone application, but a collection of plug-in video filters you use from within Premiere.
Filters from the menus, or press command-F (Mac) or control-F (Windows). This will display a list of all available video filters. You'll find the Video Finesse filters, which all start with "SA", in the list of filters. Select one of the Video Finesse filters and click Add to display the filter dialog.
I'm using Premiere LE and the Video Finesse filters don't appear in the list of filters. Why?
One of the limitations of the LE version of Premiere is that it does not support third-party filters. You'll need to upgrade to the full version of Premiere to use Video Finesse or any other third-party filters.
Can I use Video Finesse during video capture?
No, Video Finesse is used during the rendering of previously captured video.
Why would I want to use Video Finesse instead of a hardware proc amp?
Hardware proc amps, whether professional units or less costly units such as the ones from Studio One or Elite Video, are popular additions to analog video editing systems, as they allow simple manipulation of an analog video signal in real time. However, they are quite limited in the functions they perform. Video Finesse is much more powerful, and less expensive, at the cost of having to capture and render the video.
Let's break down the pros and cons of hardware Proc Amps and Video Finesse's SA Adjust filter:
Proc Amps Pro
- Realtime operation. Analog video goes in and modified video comes out.
Proc Amps Con
- Works on analog signal so adds a digital-to-analog-to-digital cycle when dealing with digital video sources like DV.
- Knobs make it hard to ever repeat settings.
- You need to keep the same setting for the entire clip you are running through it. Hard to do scene-by-scene correction.
- Limited to basic pedestal, gain, phase, and chroma level adjustments.
- Limited measurements without a separate waveform monitor and vectorscope, although some units do have simple meters.
Video Finesse Pro
- Stays in digital realm.
- 100% repeatable settings, can be saved to file.
- Easy to apply different settings to different clips, or vary settings over time.
- Controls numerous parameters in addition to basic pedestal, gain, phase, chroma level adjustments for more range of corrections. Plus you get the other filters.
- Includes waveform and vectorscope feedback.
- Less expensive.
Video Finesse Con
- Requires rendering time.
- Requires video to be digitized, so not useful for general-purpose tape dubbing duties.
In summary, you get a lot more features with Video Finesse, at the cost of the rendering time. But Proc Amps have their place too; it depends on your workflow and how completely digital you are. If you are doing a lot of analog work, a Proc Amp may easily fit into your signal path.
If you are doing cuts-only editing, with no other special effects, then the rendering time required by Video Finesse may seem significant. On the other hand, if you are doing dissolves and other special effects that already require rendering, then Video Finesse adds very little on top of that; it is faster than the built-in Premiere filters like Levels or Gamma.
Software waveform monitors and vectorscopes can't be accurate, can they?
Yes, they can be just as accurate as their traditional hardware counterparts. But there are differences between the hardware and software approaches, so let's take a look at how they're used.
Waveform monitors are traditionally used to look at two different aspects of a video signal: timing portion of the video signal and the picture portion. The timing portion consists of sync and blanking pulses and the color burst. A hardware waveform monitor can examine the levels and widths of these items to make sure they are within specifications. Because digitized video doesn't contain these items--only the picture is digitized--a software waveform monitor can't show you those items. But since most of these parameters are fixed by the video hardware in your computer, there is little need to see these in a desktop video editing environment. And in the case of DV, sync and blanking timing is generated by whatever VTR you eventually play the tape back on, not by your NLE system.
Likewise, hardware vectorscopes show both structural information about the video signal like chroma burst level and phase, and information about the picture content. As with the waveform monitor, a software solution can't show you information about the chroma burst; but also like the waveform monitor, this is a parameter beyond your control with most NLEs.
So if you need detailed information about the structure and timing of an analog video signal, a hardware waveform monitor and vectorscope is what you need. But this information is typically not used in digital video environments--it gets regenerated upon playback--and is usually beyond your control to change, even if you see something that isn't right.
But when analyzing the video picture, both software and hardware can show equivalent information. Because software solutions are basing their display on the digitized video instead of an actual video signal, some people feel they can't be accurate. While there is validity to this when dealing with analog video output, there is none when dealing with digital video output like DV.
In an editing system using analog video output there is a digital-to-analog stage that converts the digitized video from you NLE into an analog video signal, adding sync in the process. A software waveform monitor bases its display on the digitized video, whereas the hardware waveform monitor looks at the output of the digital-to-analog stage. If there is any inaccuracy in that digital-to-analog conversion, or there are knobs that affect its conversion--then the software waveform monitor may not accurately depict the video levels. However, in modern video hardware the conversion is both accurate and stable--providing you don't twiddle the knobs--so a one-time calibration is all that is required.
In an editing system using digital video output--whether Firewire to DV or SDI to Digital Betacam--the digital-to-analog conversion doesn't take place on your system, but rather occurs only when the tape is finally played. And in the case of DTV, the video never leaves the digital realm. In this environment, a software monitor looking at the digital video data is actually more accurate than using a hardware waveform monitor to look at a converted version of the digital signal. Hooking an analog waveform monitor up to the analog outputs on your digital VTR shows you a signal distorted by whatever inaccuracies there may be in the digital-to-analog converters in your VTR. Hardware monitors that directly accept SDI are available--and expensive--but are looking at the same data that Video Finesse looks at. And so far no one makes a hardware waveform monitor that accepts DV on Firewire.
So, to summarize, if you need to look at video timing issues like sync and blanking, you'll need a hardware waveform monitor and vectorscope. If you're working with analog video, you can use either hardware or software solutions, but you may want to calibrate your analog outputs if using the software solution. And if you're working with digital video, you should use either a software solution, or invest in digital test equipment.