My workflow for Video stock

I received a question in the Ask Steve a Question post about my workflow for video. I’m not sure if I have ever written about this, so here we go. First, the question:

I know you dealing with both photography and Videos …and you mentioned that you use Ligthroom as your main program for photos – viewing and sorting ect – my question is how do you treat video ?? I mean do also use LR for viewing video ??? but then how do selected the videos and transfer to Premiere for further editing ??? you selected in LR and then recompressed by exporting to Premiere ?? you see I am little bit confused with this part of your process …because I used to download my mem card to a Hard drive …both photos and videos and then view them using LR – both photos and video , but the problem was that I had to edit the videos in Premiere and LR all it can do is another huge copy of the original video once it was selected in do you select and transfer the videos for further editing to Premiere ???.

I guess another way could be to divide the download of the mem card in two folders photos in one for LR and Videos in another for Premiere Media Browser …not doing that at the moment .

I hope this makes some sense to you Steve….in any case thanks for your time and information in your site which I am finding , as a newbie , very useful indeed …….cheeeerrrrsss….

Stock photo of a Mavic 2 Pro drone flying against a blue sky
Morgantown, WV – 1 January 2020: DJI Mavic 2 Pro quadcopter or drone hovering in bright blue sky

I almost always film in 4K these days and use 25fps with a 1/50th second shutter speed. Often that means that I need to have some sort of filter on either my camera or the drone to be able to keep the exposure within normal limits. I’ve also started using the Log profile on both my camera and drone – this is a profile that flattens out the contrast and saturation in the video and allows you to capture more dynamic range than if the output was a normal bright contrasty video. It doesn’t look good and needs processing before you can really use it, but it does give you a lot more control. So the end result of all this are some video files on an SD card (often with stills as well).

My process is to first import the images (only) into Lightroom. You can see the movie files when you go through the import process and I deselect those. So I then have my raw image files in Lightroom and stored in the appropriate month folder on my hard drive. I work on those as normal as described in my other workflow descriptions.

I then open a file explorer on my PC and navigate to the clips folder of the SD card and copy just the mp4 files onto a different drive. Why a different one? My photos are already filling most hard drives I buy and videos are pretty big. However, I don’t bother with months and years in this folder structure – I don’t have enough video files to make that worthwhile. Instead, I describe what the shoot was about and have a folder for that. This might just be a Sony thing, but the file names for videos reset to 001 when you put a new card in the camera, so I do need to maintain subfolders for each card I used in Portugal, for instance. However you do it, the idea is to get them stored on a hard drive.

I use a file manager called xplorer2 and you can preview images and videos right in the file manager itself. So I then watch each video in turn and make a note of which ones I think are worth processing. Some might be too short, out of focus or over-exposed and I will generally delete those. With my list of files to process, I slowly work through them by importing into Premiere (the CC package). Incidentally, I found with my PC that if I have more than 2 or 3 4K files in Premiere at the time (with their thumbnails showing in the App), it slows right down and sometimes the windows freeze even though your action is taking effect. So I generally import one file, work on it, export it and clear it from the App before bringing the next one in.

In Premiere, I’ve got to grips with the Lumetri color editing system. This is quite a lot like the sliders in Lightroom. Whites and Blacks bring back some of the contrast that was missing. Shadows opens up some of the darker areas and I use Curves to add more contrast. Finally some saturation brings back the colors that I was looking for.

Here is a before and after of a still from the video as it comes out of the drone and one that has been adjusted in Premiere:

Output from the drone without any adjustments
After processing with Lumetri color in Premiere

Depending on whether there is camera movement (usually from handholding my Sony), I apply that Warp Stabilizer tool that does a great job of smoothing out, or even removing camera movement.

I crop the video to somewhere between 10 seconds and 25 seconds or so depending on the subject and then prepare to export. I use the following settings for export:

Export settings for Stock video in Premiere
Premiere Export settings for Stock Video media

This does create pretty big files – generally around 1GB or so. However, I think the ProRes codec is a preferred one for people who are going to edit the video into their own production and as I use StockSubmitter to upload my videos just once to the Microstock Plus site before he onward uploads them to the agencies (Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, Pond5, iStock), I don’t really bother too much about that. I use StockSubmitter to add the descriptions and keywords before they are uploaded.

That is it – nothing very complicated, but it works for me. If there are questions, please make use of the comments below.

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3 Responses

  1. Ray Fernandez says:

    Hiya Steve :
    Thank you very much ..!!! for such detailed explanation …!!! awesome…!!! .
    Such a shame that Lighroom can not handle 4K video in the export module..!!! .
    My workflow differs substantially from yours , and am always trying to improve it .
    So , again , one big thanks for sharing .

  2. kevinjjjack says:

    I’ll have to try the one or so file at a time in Pr. I usually import the whole shoot or two and use proxies

    • Steven Heap says:

      Yes, I really struggled with the freezing of windows and sliders in my version of Premiere, but this seems to have fixed it for me.

I'm always interested in what you think - please let me know!