The Fatal Flaw in Adobe Premiere Team Projects and Why Frame.io is DAF - It Ain't Easy Being an Adobe Pimp
The Fatal Flaw in Adobe Premiere Team Projects, A blog post by Darius Stevens Wilhere
Disclaimer: Although this article could be taken in a negative context, I think Adobe and the software engineers and creatives who power it are the number one company in the world empowering creatives and helping us survive in a constantly shifting landscape where having a constantly evolving set of tools is crucial to maintaining a successful career. This isn't a slam on them, this is a slam on me expecting too much from a beta-tool, but also responsibly warning other editors about some drawbacks of the beta.
Disclaimer 2: If politically correct minded people are going to get upset with the use of the word pimp because they want to misconstrue it into a gender/ethnic misappropriation of a now commonly accepted informal term: Leave now.
Let me start this blog post (again) by stating that I am a complete Adobe pimp and have been for almost 20 years, continuously getting fellow creatives and projects I've worked on to implement and adapt Adobe products, because I really like them. Really Really Really. I was cutting on Premiere for side-gigs when everyone was jumping on the FCP bandwagon so I was hipster before being hipster was hip. If you...yeah yeah. Moving on.
So yes, that's right, you've got evangelists on one side who get paid to get up on stage and extol the virtues of Adobe platform products and then you've got working schlubs like me who live and work around the entertainment business and whose actual livelihood depends on the tools they use working well and when we like one, we basically talk about them to all our friends until said friends convert, or stop hanging out with us, kinda like being the Vegan version of a software pimp. And usually it's very very easy being an Adobe pimp.
How Amazing is Frame.io?
Seeing new collaborative workflow projects beginning to pop-up like Frame.io has started to usher in the era of truly viable e-commute creative workflows for video. And if you don't have Frame.io yet and you are an editor or producer who works with editors. Shut up. Right now. Go get it. Or while I'm punching you I'll call your mother and tell her what a bad child you've been. Seriously though. Think of all your mother did for you. How could you betray her like this?
Frame.io will change your life. You will essentially grow a unicorn horn, fart fairy dust and poop Leprechaun gold in the eyes of your clients. I was thinking about doing a whole blog post on the amazing experience Frame.io has been for me, however, I got deadlines so that's gonna have to wait.
But let me put it this way: I've implemented Frame.io as the primary collaborative platform on a multi million $ project with dozens of executives and producers, dailies for terrabytes of information and dozens upon dozens of editorial projects and in a word: ROCK SOLID. Yes, that's two words but thanks to Frame.io I'm an editorial unicorn, I can get away with it. Or I can use an abbreviation for three words making it one: D.A.F. (Dope as ****) It's basically viagra for video collaboration.
And that's how solid Adobe Team Projects should be, but isn't. (And no, that's not a viagra reference. I try too hard, I know. And that's not a reference either. Sigh. Moving on)
Love at First Sight
A couple year ago, when I first saw Adobe Anywhere with a multi-editor workflow it was like a hormonally over-charged teenage boy seeing Megan Fox opening up Bumblebee's hood in Transformers. Explosions of electronic pheromones filled the studio air.
And then I got the quote for a basic Anywhere implementation that was six figures and it was no longer drool control but a sad wistful pining that one day, that usability and multi-editor capability would trickle down to the small business creative market. So when I heard about TEAM PROJECTS!!! WHOOP WHOOP!!! HOOK ME UP SCOTTY!!!! BEAM ME UP!!!! WHATEVER!!!! GET ME THAT **** NOW!!!
I guarantee you that there wasn't a single creative in the world more excited about Adobe Team Projects coming to Premiere than me (unless they had bronze statues surrounded by incense burners that they were sacrificing chickens to, that's a level of dedication beyond my reach).
And sadly, this is the first time in 20 years that I have been truly disappointed. But after much self-reflection, it was simply because I set my expectations too high and expected a beta-product to work in a production scenario out of the gate, and it just isn't ready yet. The fact that it is so amazing and sooooo close to being ready just makes it that much more frustrating.
When I got brought back as lead editor on the next season of a streaming TV show, I was beyond excited to forego Avid and implement a fully Adobe Team Projects pipeline. A multi-editor project workflow was the last item on my checklist before being able to fully and completely adapt a Premiere workflow for all my projects.
Sadly, this is not the case. Avid still reigns supreme until Adobe can sort out Team Projects so it fully works and I don't lose hours of team time every time it goes into limbo mode. Which at this stage is frequently.
The Fatal Flaw - The Projects Live on Adobe's Servers.
The point? I'm getting to it, relax. Let me digress further...
Now anyone who wants to implement Beta software on a hot and heavy production schedule without on call technical support is just asking for pain. As it turns out, this was beyond sado-masochism.
To be honest when we first started using it and realized that there were no actual premiere project files stored on local servers, no auto-save back-ups on local servers and only media stored locally, alarm bells went off in my head. If for some reason, we lost internet service we would literally be dead in the water. If for some reason Adobe's servers crashed and lost the projects, we could be losing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of work, which is an unacceptable scenario for any producer.
So as we started logging and ingesting and stacking selects we noticed an odd thing would happen. We could suddenly no longer sync our projects. Inexplicably they just went offline from the Creative Cloud Sync, that little green arrow in the bottom left corner grayed out and we were in a word: screwed. The project was now somehow corrupted. And not in a good way where you can offer a bribe and get something done in Mexico way, but in a you can't close out, you can't convert it to anything else, you can't even quit Premiere!
Your system goes on lockdown and even if you force quit premiere, when you re-open the program, you don't have access to team projects. You have to reboot your system to have access to Team Projects once again and even then the project no longer works with Team projects. Broken. Dead, Finito. Gravestoned. Cement boots in the lake splasho. You get it. And we've tested this on three different edit systems now. One for one. The same experience.
Even the Adobe Support I had access to as an Adobe Creative Cloud Teams account gave up. They couldn't figure it out. Well, awesome (insert sound of me sobbing in the corner).
It's true, you can open the project back up. But at whatever point it last sync'ed the work exists in some weird Dr. Strange alternate dimension meta-state that cannot be added to and cannot be changed. You can export renders, change things around but no matter what you do, when you try to save or close-out the project returns to limbo lockdown. You can't even export it as a regular Premiere Pro project because then it goes into lockdown.
THE ONLY WAY TO SAVE YOUR WORK IS TO EXPORT AN XML AND RE-IMPORT IT INTO A NEW TEAM PROJECT THAT YOU HAVE TO BUILD FROM SCRATCH AND PRAY IT WON'T FAIL, WHICH (UNFORTUNATELY) ONE FOR ONE, EVERY ADOBE TEAM PROJECT HAS.
To be charitable I figured maybe it just isn't robust enough to be being hit with terrabytes and terrabytes of info so I tried doing a smaller side project late in the hours of the night and it was all going well until wham. Suddenly, Team Projects lock-down. Lost 4 hours of work. Useless project. More sobbing in the corner. Oh Adobe Team projects, you were so close to being my editorial concubine of choice on this show... alas...
I'm still super excited about the possibilities that Team Projects herald and there are a lot of other refinements in CC2017 to love and if there is one thing you know about Adobe, they push it until they get it right.
I think the idea of being able to edit the same project using footage stored on different local drives is phenomenal and has been on my wish list for years now. This will empower editorial work free of borders and help usher in the truly e-commute workflow of the future. Lots of other great ideas here as well.
Frame.io truly changed client collaboration in a revolutionary way. And Adobe stands on the threshold of doing the same for editorial collaboration.
And let's face it: no other company on the planet is even trying to create this type of locationless editorial workflow. So go Adobe!
I'll be moving forward with CC2017, but not with Team Projects until it's either out of the beta stage and fully functioning or there is access to support that can debug the problems:
1. They figure out a robust way to avoid project lockdown.
2. At least copies of projects can live on local servers so they can be accessed in the event of internet failure or be able to back up delivered projects. Yes I know there is an option EDIT> TEAM PROJECT> CONVERT TEAM PROJECT TO PROJECT, but that doesn't work when lockdown is encountered. There has to be a failsafe/foolproof way to do this. Ideally this would be able to be done via a local server installed piece of software on a cheaper NAS (not the tens of thousands of dollars server configurations Avid uses) that could be shared with a few users in the same office.
Okay Adobe. Let's see what you and your brilliant team of engineers can do. I'm still your pimp, just can't take Adobe Team Projects into the fold yet.