First Look: Adobe Prelude CS6

Posted on by Larry

Adobe Prelude CS6 is a brand-new application for Windows and Mac that shipped last week with the rest of the Adobe CS6 update. According to Adobe’s website: “Adobe® Prelude™ CS6 software streamlines your production tasks. Ingest nearly any file-based format and begin logging immediately, creating searchable markers and other temporal metadata that flow through post-production, so you can work faster and stay organized.”

This description doesn’t do it justice, however. I’ve been working with it for the last few weeks and I want to share my observations with you.

NOTE: I just wrote a new article covering the new features in the 1.0.1 update. You can read it here.


Prelude is designed to speed the review, ingest, logging, selection, and export of tapeless media. Specifically, it allows one person to review and capture all footage, build a selects reel, and INSTANTLY export it into Premiere Pro CS6, or Final Cut Pro 7, so that the editor can begin editing immediately.

Because Prelude seamlessly integrates with both Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro 7, it can be used either in a team environment or where one person is doing all the work.

Imagine you have a TON of footage to review – think reality or documentaries. Why tie up an editor and an expensive edit suite when you can have a production assistant, associate producer, or producer reviewing the initial footage and building a collection of selected clips.

Someone using Prelude is not editing, they are collecting and organizing clips, and putting them all into one spot for the editor. This ability to off-load the screening and selection of clips can make the entire editing team more efficient.

DEFINITION: We “capture” clips from tape, “ingest” tapeless media, and “import” clips which are already readable on the computer.


With an interface similar to other Adobe applications, Prelude is built around a straight-forward workflow:

(By the way, special thanks to Fran and Miles Hale of Model Railroad Builders for the use of their footage –

There are four workspaces, or interfaces, in Prelude:

Each workspace can be customized by moving tabs and rearranging windows, as with any other CS6 application.


The Ingest workspace allows you to review clips before capture and transfer them to your hard disk from the camera, card, or hard disk where the source masters are stored.

You can ingest entire clips, or portions of a clip. You can provide a link to the media, copy it to a different destination, or transcode the media into an entirely different format.

To ingest a clip, click the small checkbox in the lower right corner of each thumbnail. To ingest a portion of a clip, click inside the image and use the playhead to set the In and the Out as you would in any editing program.

When you have selected all the clips you want to ingest, click the Ingest button in the lower right corner.

NOTE: Ingesting a portion of a clip requires that you transcode — convert — it  into a separate clip for editing. The best transcode options would be ProRes, DNxHD, or Cineform, however these require you to create a custom transcode setting in Adobe Media Encoder. This is not difficult, but it is an extra step in a separate program.


Prelude allows you to transcode your video into any format supported by Adobe Media Encoder (AME). However, the HD presets supplied with AME are optimized for web distribution, not editing, which I find to be a limitation and hope Adobe fixes in the next update.

If you plan to edit your media in Premiere, the fastest option is to ingest entire clips and use subclips to create smaller clips. If you plan to edit in Final Cut Pro, I strongly recommend you transcode your media into ProRes during ingest, because it will make moving clips into FCP very, very simple.


Once you have your clips ingested, it’s time to log them. Switch to the Logging workspace and mark the best regions of each clip. This is done using markers.

There are six marker types in Prelude:

By far, the most powerful and useful marker is a subclip. These are used to indicate shots that you want to send to the editor. Both clips and markers easily import into Premiere or Final Cut.

NOTE: Chapter markers that are set in Prelude won’t export to a QuickTime movie in a form that Compressor or DVD Studio Pro will read. You are better off setting chapter markers in FCP during your edit, just prior to final output.

The key point to remember about markers in Prelude is that they all have durations. For instance, here, in the Timeline, I’ve added four subclip markers (blue) and one comment marker (green). Notice that markers can easily overlap.

NOTE: To record markers that you’ve added, modified, or deleted from a clip, save the clip (Command+S). Each subclip appears as its own icon in the Project panel. Subclips can be named as you wish, however, in this example, I began each subclip name with the name of the source clip so they would sort next to each other.


When you are done reviewing and logging your clips, its time to build a rough-cut.

A rough-cut is not an edit. It is a collection of selected clips that are sent to the editor for editing. (Think of this as a “selects” reel.) This ability to create a rough-cut showcases the true power of Prelude: an editorial assistant can review, log, and collect the best clips; then send the entire collection of selected clips to the editor to shape into a story.

As we increasingly work with massive amounts of footage, having the ability for initial screening to be done outside the edit suite offers a huge time-savings.

Select File > Create Rough-cut (Command+N). Rough-cuts are very small data files that can be named anything and stored anywhere. However, don’t lose them, as they are essential for exporting your clips to Premiere or Final Cut.

Double-click the rough-cut icon to open it in the Timeline. To see more of the Rough-cut, switch to the Rough-cut workspace.

Drag the clips – and subclips – you want to send to the editor into the Rough-cut. They are added in the order you selected them, as you can see from the screen shot above.

NOTE: Cool shortcuts. Select a clip by clicking it. Press [comma] to move it to the left or [period] to move it to the right.

Your goal in creating a rough cut is not to edit the piece, nor even to get clips in the correct order – though you can – but to assemble all the good takes in one spot so the editor doesn’t have to look very far to find the clips she needs.

Select File > Save to save the rough-cut before going on to the last step.


Moving files from Prelude to Premiere Pro CS6 (but not earlier versions) is unbelievably fast. Select the rough cuts and clips (you can send more than one) you want to send and select File > Send to Premiere Pro.

Instantly, Premiere Pro starts up and your clips are transferred from Prelude to Premiere. (If Premiere is already running, the transfer is essentially instantaneous!)

Fill out the New Project dialog that appears when Premiere opens and click OK.

All your selected clips and rough-cuts immediately appear in Premiere, ready to edit, as you can see from the screen shot above.


There are many things I like about Prelude:

Earlier today, I posted a complete video training series that shows you exactly how Prelude works. If you are considering adding this software to your workflow, this training gets you up to speed in two hours. Click here for the details.

If your goal is to work more efficiently with tapeless media, especially as part of a team, you need to look into Prelude CS6.

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33 Responses to First Look: Adobe Prelude CS6

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  1. Philipp says:

    Hi, Larry,
    thanks for the first look on prelude.
    Is there any chance that we get a tutorial on:
    Prp 6:
    – setting up the sequence with mono and stereo tracks
    – exporting media with 2 mono and 1 stereo audio track.
    – how to edit to tape

    That´ll be great!

  2. Oren says:

    While this is interesting, I don’t really see how this is much better than having an assistant ingest and log footage into FCP 7, even create a “rough cut” sequence of selects, and then just copy that project file for the editor to use. This is what we have been doing for years. Maybe some of the features in Prelude are a bit more sophisticated, but it’s essentially the same workflow, is it not?

    • Larry Jordan says:

      The problem with using FCP 7 is that, going forward, it will become less and less available. Prelude is new and will be with us going into the future.


    • Wes Plate says:

      Oren, one of the benefits of using Prelude is that it has an interface that is simplified and geared towards non-editors. Your environment sounds like it works well for you, that’s cool. In a workflow with Premiere Pro, Prelude offers even more, because while Premiere Pro can import files directly from a camera, it cannot ingest files off a card and copy them to the local system– Prelude fits nicely here.

  3. Tim says:

    Does the single CS6 license allow you to use Prelude on a separate system from the rest of the suite, or are you expected to either purchase it separately or buy an entirely new CS6 license?

    • Wes Plate says:

      Tim, you can install and activate Production Premium on two systems– a desktop and a laptop for example or a work system and a home system– as long as they are not both used at the same time.

  4. Hi Larry.

    After reading your article First Look: Adobe Prelude CS6

    I went about finding my new work flow for logging. Which I just like to share with you.
    Old way shooting and recording to a firestore fs100 dvcp hd, log and transfer in to FCP7

    Now this might be my new way forward. If I use Prelude.

    Firestore contacted to Mac Pro, open Prelude, save as new project (giving a name to project)
    saved to Prelude project folder.(new folder on a different drive than my operating system)
    click Ingest and bingo all the HD are there.
    from the Firestore I see my files viewed as P2 and the clips are thumb-nailed.
    I make my in and outs, and now the fun begins, what are these logged files going and transcoded as. (so many exciting codec to chose but which is right?)

    Well thanks to you answering one of my earlier mails I have now a Pro Res to chose from which was not there before in AME.
    Working in the trail version I could not open AME independently. but it stayed open after closing Prelude.
    So in I went and fixed a Pro Res setting (not sure about what is the right audio setting but I went with 32 bit floating as I know I will be using Audition ) is that better than ACC?
    any how thanks for that advice.

    That done I was able to go all the way to rough cut export to PP. Premier Pro opens timeline is there and so are the new clips.

    NOW what I want to find out if I could go back in to Prelude and reimport new file to the same project as single clips and as new timelines and yes all went ok.

    So they only thing I feel is missing is to be able to give the clips a name at ingest stage (like car drive of) I found that you can change the name when in the Logging lay out, the name stays all the way into pp but not in the folder in Finder folder there the original file name is preserved.

    Back in Prelude I was also able to add a new time line and export that to the same project.

    Thats it. The hardest thing is to get the right codec.

    So all what’s left is to practice it a few times for it to sit.

    Have a Good Day and all the best to you and your Team.

    And always trying to find a problem, I have found one at last when I recored I get 4 channels of audio when I now import through Prelude
    I end up with 2 channels one left and one right but which two !!! as I would like to have all 4, boom audio on audio track 1 camera audio on 3 and 4 as a backup for what every reason.
    So How do get 4 tracks of audio with Prelude.

    Will have to go back in to AME and find a Adobe way.

    Other wise I found it enjoyable to work with Prelude and good work description by you..

    Kind Regards

    Trevor Hughes
    Frame On Frame

  5. Looks like Adobe took a queue from Final Cut Pro X on this one (one of many to be found in CS6). Which is a good thing. Except. instead of just building this system into the NLE they created a separate program which just adds another a step to the workflow. That doesn’t make sense to me. There are already more than enough applications in the Adobe suite. Should have just put this into Premiere.

    • Larry Jordan says:


      Hmm… I hear what you are saying, but the benefit of having a separate app is that Prelude, unlike FCP X or Premiere Pro CS6, is designed to run on slower systems. In fact, it is still 32-bit. This means you can delegate the process of reviewing, capturing, and logging clips to an assistant, without tying up an expensive editing system; or editor.

      If you are a one-person shop, this doesn’t mean much, but for work-groups, this is a big benefit. I just wish that Adobe sold Prelude separately, rather than exclusively thru Production Premium.


    • That’s fair, I could see this being a benefit to someone in the field with only a Macbook Air or an older computer to use. This could be useful in that situation. I still think a version of this tool should have been integrated though into Premiere to give editors those tools without having to go to another app. Have both and then you get the best of both worlds.

  6. Hey Larry,

    Thanks for this.

    So it’s essentially a DIT lite tool? Why does no one, including Adobe, want to tell us what file/codec formats it supports? I have Production Premium CS6 so I will start learning it but I would like to know what it supports before putting it into a workflow.

    But then I’m just a,

  7. Melvin Feliciano says:

    What I like about Prelude and Premiere Pro is that I don’t have to convert my .mts files from my avchd cameras in order to use them. Playback at full resolution is smooth on Prelude. I’m currently testing both programs on a 2.4Ghz Macbook Pro with 4GB of ram and think the playback performance is a bit better on Prelude than Premiere, even with Open CL and Mercury Playback Engine active. Maybe Prelude is taking advantage of those too.

    • Stefan says:

      I have a problem with .mts files in Prelude. They run smoothly but i am not allowed to set a subclip (or any other) marker.
      I had to convert the files to quicktime and then it works – but it costs alot of converting time. (Maybe there is a better format i should have used where conversion will not take so long?)

      I have production premium cs6 on a macbook pro 15″ (just some weeks old).
      The files were filmed with a sony cx550.

      Kind regards from Germany

  8. Two questions: 1) I am looking to buy a Macbook Pro with Adobe Suite. I will be cutting a project soon that will end up in the hands of another film editor who uses Final Cut Pro. Will he be able to make a finish edit on his FCP of my Adobe CS6-cut footage? Or should I look for a used/ refurbished computer with FCP 7?

    2) If I go with a new Macbook, what is the optimum upgrade, if any, to use with CS6, as far as graphics card, solid-state 256gb drive, 2.6 ghz vs 2.7ghz, etc?

    I also had the idea to get the 13″ book with the 27″ thunderbolt monitor, which would be about $300 less than a 15″ book by itself with no monitor. Comments?



    • Larry Jordan says:


      1. You can easily export your project from Premiere to Final Cut 7 using File > Export > Final Cut Pro XML. So the first answer is an easy Yes.

      2. Any current MacBook Pro works really well with both Adobe and Apple software. Get a minimum of 8 GB RAM. An SSD drive is nice, but not mandatory. The processor speed – 2.6 vs 2.7 – makes much less difference than the amount of RAM or an SSD drive. The 13″ with extra monitor sounds pretty good to me, too.


  9. Thomas Marthinsen says:

    Hi Larry
    I have set up a project in Premiere Pro and want my producer to look at some of the clips and add markers and comments. As I already made the bin structure for the prodject and organised all my clips I am reluctant to remake the whole project structure in Prelude. Is there a way to export my already built project into Prelud and to set up a workflow that way?


    • Larry Jordan says:


      You can’t export from Premiere to Prelude. But, if you have already captured the clips, you can import the clips into Prelude to allow your producer to view them.


  10. Hi Larry thanks for the simplified overview and workflow of Prelude, much appreciated.


    United By Photography

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