Adobe OnLocation CS5 review

Adobe’s OnLocation seems increasingly anachronistic now that tape-based camcorders are heading towards obsolescence. It smoothes the workflow enormously if you’re shooting DV or HDV and need big-screen preview and hard disk recording over FireWire. But it won’t be much use if your camcorder already records to Flash Memory.

Fortunately, OnLocation has gained a new job in its CS5 incarnation, which expands its already powerful clip logging and metadata capabilities. You can still hook up a camcorder over FireWire and take advantage of the larger preview window, waveform, histogram, and vectorscope displays, as well as hard disk recording, but the focus is shifting towards organising footage in the field to streamline your work when you return to the editing facility. Adobe is calling this “logging without wires”, as you probably won’t be using FireWire anymore.

Adobe OnLocation CS5

The first new addition is therefore a Media Browser pane, which behaves in exactly the same way as that found in Premiere Pro. You can peruse the contents of your system’s various storage devices, including optical drives, removable hard disks and Flash Memory readers, although the ability to access video assets from a DVD found in Premiere Pro CS5 hasn’t been carried over to OnLocation. The footage files can then be imported into the OnLocation project, ready for the addition of metadata.

This in itself would only be vaguely useful to large productions using file-based shooting. Clips can be tagged with scene and project data, and organised, so this information can then be imported into Premiere Pro CS5. The really handy new capabilities come into play when shooting a scripted production. This works in tandem with the Adobe Story app available for free via Adobe Live, which can create scripts from scratch or import them from industry-standard writing tools such as Movie Magic and Final Draft.

When you import an Adobe Story script, your scene tags will automatically be added to your shot list, so you can organise shots with them as you film, or as you import these from removable media. The industry-standard scripting tags are recognised, automatically indicating exterior and interior scenes, as well as the closeness or wideness of the shot.

You can timestamp shot placeholders, so these will automatically be associated as it’s imported with corresponding media. The tags and scripting metadata will then be carried forward when the project and files are imported into Premiere Pro CS5, which facilitates organising and searching, and makes the latter’s voice recognition more accurate.

Overall, OnLocation’s new script-related abilities will keep it relevant in big productions needing to keep large amounts of footage organised according to a storyboard. But otherwise our fears at the beginning of this review ring true: for more free-form productions, or where scripts are short, the move away from tape makes it less useful than it used to be.


Software subcategory Video editing software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes

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