Product Spotlight: Video in Photoshop

November 24th, 2014
photographer looking at proofs

Review by Shelley Paulson


I’ve been a professional photographer now for more than 10 years, but in 2014, I made the decision to branch out and make short, DSLR films, specifically focused in the equine industry (an area of specialty with my photography). I thought that because I could use my photography cameras for video, how hard could it be? Well, I’ve learned that the answer is, actually, it’s quite hard.

Video and filmmaking is a completely different beast than photography. I needed to invest in thousands of dollars of gear, learn how to set up my cameras differently, work within the technical limits of the gear, and… don’t even get me started on audio. Getting great sound has been one of the biggest challenges of them all.

For my first few films, I dove into learning Adobe Premiere Pro CC. I was mildly familiar with the process of video editing. In a past career, part of my job was video creation. I was relieved to find out that video editing software has matured and is much easier to use now. However, I have found myself wishing for my photo editing standbys of Lightroom and Photoshop when it comes to color grading, which is a fancy video term for color correction, my footage.

When I was asked to look at “Video in Photoshop” from Photoshop Cafe, I had mixed feelings. Part of me was excited about the possibility of being able to color grade in Photoshop. But a bigger part of me was quite skeptical about Photoshop being robust enough to do serious video editing.

It turns out both my optimism and skepticism were right.

To be fair, Colin Smith, the host of this series, does say at the start that this is geared for photographers and designers, not professional videographers. And I would agree with that. If I had never used Premiere, and was making only basic videos and slideshows, this would be a great place to start.

Part 1: Editing Video

In the beginning of the Editing Video section, Colin does a great job of covering the basics of capturing video, using anything from an iPhone to DSLR. He discusses the basics of gear, as well as exposure and the need for filtering. Frame rates and shutter speeds are covered, without becoming too technical or dry.

From there, he walks step-by-step through how to set up a Photoshop workspace for motion, bring in clips, rearrange them on the timeline, work with audio, and set up transitions. All the clips needed to follow along are included on the DVD, and the pace was easy to follow. A few times I would have to pause or rewind a few seconds because I lost track, got distracted, or couldn’t see where his mouse was pointed. The interface for watching the videos made this very easy, though at times I wished for more resolution in the video, so I could see where that mouse was pointing!

My favorite part of this section was when he showed how to create motion graphics. I had no idea that I would be able to create graphics, set them in motion, and then export for use in another video program, like Premiere. I’m likely to try this because Photoshop is a comfortable graphic environment for me, whereas After Effects is a little beyond my skill level right now.

Part 2: Slideshows

I wasn’t expecting to find a great tutorial on how to create custom slideshows! The tools found in Photoshop are easy to use. You can set the duration and pan/zoom motion of each slide individually, and add a music track to bring it all together.

Part 3: Additional Skills

Just when I thought the tutorial was winding down, Colin brought in a piece of footage from his quadcopter that was pretty flat in appearance. What he did next BLEW MY MIND.

He opened it up in a Camera Raw filter.

I literally said, “No way!” several times until my husband came to my office to see what I was freaking out about.

To have a photography-like interface for color grading my footage at my fingertips changes everything. I have struggled with the tools native to Premiere, don’t have the time to learn After Effects, and haven’t wanted to invest in a third-party color grading software until I have the basics down. And now I find out I had the best tool all along!

It’s not a perfect solution, because I will have to leave Premiere to color correct, which will add another step for me. However, this capability alone will make it more likely I will do some simple video editing in Photoshop and skip Premiere altogether.

Colin also demonstrated how to fix lens distortion for super wide lenses like you find on a GoPro and also how to import a time lapse, which was very easy.

Putting It to the Test

The day after watching this tutorial, I went out to a friend’s farm and filmed her horses running through a fresh snowfall. I used 60 frames per second, with the intention to bring the footage into a 24 fps timeline and achieve slow motion. It wasn’t until after I went out and filmed that I realized I should have checked to make sure Photoshop could do that. Thankfully, it has this capability, and I spent a few hours choosing footage, editing clips, color grading and putting it all to music.

Having watched the video, I had the basics down, but one very basic thing Colin didn’t cover was how to cut a clip. He showed how to make a clip shorter by dragging either end, but sometimes I want to take several pieces out of the same clip. I was able to find the answer by Googling.

I would position Photoshop somewhere between iMovie and Premiere. Photoshop brings in more control on a lot of levels, so I think even a hobbyist video producer would enjoy using Photoshop for editing video.

The tutorial itself was easy to follow, and Colin Smith does a great job of giving you a lot of information while keeping it interesting. I would highly recommend this video tutorial for anyone just getting started editing video or making custom slideshows.