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Disney Research neural face swapping technique can provide photorealistic, high resolution video

A new paper published by Disney Research in partnership with ETH Zurich describes a fully automated, neural network-based method for swapping faces in photos and videos – the first such method that results in high-resolution, megapixel resolution final results according to the researchers. That could make it suited for use in film and TV, where high resolution results are key to ensuring that the final product is good enough to reliably convince viewers as to their reality.

The researchers specifically intend this tech for use in replacing an existing actor’s performance with a substitute actor’s face, for instance when de-aging or increasing the age of someone, or potentially when portraying an actor who has passed away. They also suggest it could be used for replacing the faces of stunt doubles in cases where the conditions of a scene call for them to be used.

This new method is unique from other approaches in a number of ways, including that any face used in the set can be swapped with any recorded performance, making it possible to relatively easily re-image the actors on demand. The other is that it kindles contrast- and light conditions in a compositing step to ensure the actor looks like they were actually present in the same conditions as the scene.

You can check out the results for yourself in the video below (as the researchers point out, the effect is actually much better in moving video than in still images). There’s still a hint of ‘uncanny valley’ effect going on here, but the researchers also acknowledge that, calling this “a major step toward photo-realistic face swapping that can successfully bridge the uncanny valley” in their paper. Basically it’s a lot less nightmare fuel than other attempts I’ve seen, especially when you’ve seen the side-by-side comparisons with other techniques in the sample video. And, most notably, it works at much higher resolution, which is key for actual entertainment industry use.

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The examples presented are a super small sample, so it remains to be seen how broadly this can be applied. The subjects used appear to be primarily white, for instance. Also, there’s always the question of the ethical implication of any use of face-swapping technology, especially in video, since it could be used to fabricate credible video or photographic ‘evidence’ of something that didn’t actually happen.

Given, however, that the technology is now in development from multiple quarters, it’s essentially long past the time for debate about the ethics of its development and exploration. Instead, it’s welcome that organizations like Disney Research are following the academic path and sharing the results of their work, so that others concerned about its potential malicious use can determine ways to flag, identify and protect against any bad actors.

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Premiere Pro vs. Premiere Rush — What Software Should You Use?

Dig into the primary differences between Rush and Premiere Pro to help you decide which software fits your projects and workflow.

Every year, NLEs update with new features, plugins, and sometimes, an entirely new function page (see Resolve and the addition of Fairlight & Fusion). Editors already working on the software usually welcome the addition of new features. However, new additions can also make the water that extra bit deeper for new users looking to jump into the world of editing.

That’s why we’ve started to see an increase in friendlier versions of the software, with the Cut Page from DaVinci Resolve and with Premiere Elements with Premiere Pro. However, Adobe also has another offering with Premiere Rush, which also serves as Adobe’s go-to desktop and mobile app. It’s designed to be user friendly to new editors, for content creators on the go, and a slimmer alternative to Premiere Pro.

If you’re ready to jump into editing and you’re trying to decide which software from the Adobe range is better for you, but you’re unable to afford the full Creative Cloud subscription, we’ll outline the primary differences between Rush and Premiere Pro. We’ll also cover which software you should run with depending on what content you plan on editing.

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The Price 

While the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription offers you the full array of the tools provided by Adobe, by no means is it cheap. There are three price points for the entire cloud subscription.

  • Monthly at $79.49.
  • Annual plan paid monthly $52.99 ($635.88).
  • Annual plan prepaid $599.88.

However, if you’ve been researching the benefits of Premiere Rush, you may read that there’s a free version. To some extent, that’s true, but not entirely. You can use Premiere Rush for no price for only three exports. After that, you must pay the full amount to use the software and export completed videos.

For a standalone package for Premiere Rush, there are two pricing models.  

  • Monthly plan — US$9.99/mo. 
  • Annual plan, prepaid — US$119.88/yr.

Meanwhile for Premiere Pro, there are three pricing models.

  • Annual plan, paid monthly — US$20.99/mo.
  • Annual plan, prepaid — US$239.88/yr. 
  • Monthly plan — US$31.49/mo.

In the grand scheme of things, an increase of $110 annually or $10 monthly ($120 annually) isn’t a massive sum of money. However for students and those under a strict budget, that extra $10 for Premiere Pro could be a significant expenditure.

Take your budget into account when you make your choice. Image via recklessstudios.

Premiere Pro — Who’s It For? 

I think you would be hard-pressed not to know of a creative who hasn’t heard of Adobe Premiere Pro. It’s one of Adobe’s flagship programs that likely sits just behind Photoshop in terms of popularity.

Premiere Pro is the heavy-duty hitter that can be, and is, used for anything from short films to feature films. This standalone software has all the necessary functions you need to execute a comprehensive, simple, edit. Initially many in the industry saw Premiere Pro as a tool for amateur filmmakers. However, it has since developed into an asset capable of editing Hollywood feature films such as David Fincher’s Gone Girl & 20th Century Fox’s Deadpool.

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As such, Premiere Pro is built for the editor who needs it all. From opening multiple projects simultaneously and working over a shared network, to color correction and soft audio mixing, Premiere Pro can do nearly 99% of what is required for a video project.

That remaining 1% is animation, which is better left to the other Adobe sibling After Effects. However there is, of course, a steep learning curve to fully master all aspects of the software. Thankfully we have several tutorials here to help lessen that curve.

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Ultimately Premiere Pro is better suited for a creator already versed in editing. Of course, there is no objection to a new user starting on the platform, but it can be overwhelming.

Premiere Rush — Who’s It For? 

At the start of the previous decade, there was a surge of content creators who wanted to make their videos appear more professional. As such, we saw the birth of many filmmaking channels like Film Riot, who produced video tutorials on how to improve your production value. The mid-10s saw new platforms like Vine to Snapchat rise as well as an increase in YouTube creators vlogging. Suddenly, popular content didn’t need to appear as if a six-man film crew shot it.

Still, most available software platforms were for filmmakers, not content creators. Well, now Premiere Rush is here to defeat that dilemma.

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Premiere Rush is Adobe’s offering for YouTubers and influencers looking for an editing software that has the primary functions of Premiere but also isn’t laid out like an airplane control panel.

Rush simplifies the video editing process with quick tools and automated actions such as Auto Duck — an audio function that automatically lowers the sound of the selected audio clip when other background noises are present. It also offers color grading presets that editors can apply in the same manner of Instagram filters. Click once and you’re done, but you can also adjust them if you need to.

Simplify the color grading process with Rush’s adjustable presets.

Rush doesn’t offer the full range of video editing features that Premiere does, but it’s not supposed to. Rush is instead intended to be a one-job application for short and energetic videos.

Need to change your aspect ratio to fit an Instagram story? In Premiere Pro, you would have to go to Menu>Sequence>Sequence Settings, and then adjust the aspect ratio. With Rush, you simply hit the corresponding ratio button next to the display monitor, and the job is done.

Skip the manual adjustment and use Rush’s aspect ration buttons instead.

Rush by name, and Rush by nature, Premiere Rush is the software for the creator on the go who doesn’t have the time or need for sophisticated software assets. This brings me to the next major aspect of Premiere Rush: mobile editing.

Mobile Editing 

Of course, one of the primary selling points of Rush is the cross-platform functionalities across mobile and tablets alike. Quite literally, Rush puts the processing of editing in the palm of your hand. Adobe has done a great job of integrating not only the design of the user interface across all platforms, but also how the software reacts.

One of Rush’s most useful features is its cross-platform capability.

Due to the limitations of screen size, Rush reorganized certain aspects. However, everything works the same as it does on the desktop application.

The Cloud sync is a significant feature. If you’ve been editing on the go but you’d like to fine-tune your edit before taking it live, Rush works with the Adobe Cloud saving format (which also gives you 100gb cloud space). You can open the project file you created on mobile on your desktop computer and continue editing back at home—all without the need to import the footage from your phone.

Alternatively, Rush files also work with Premiere Pro. The software is targeted toward YouTubers and influencers, but it’s also an excellent tool for editors who need to create while they are away from their primary workstation. 

You can either directly import video files from your phone storage or film through Rush itself. Then, edit and deliver your content straight to a social media platform. You can add music and utilize built-in text animations while on the go. This elevates you over the next creator who may upload to Instagram straight from their phone.

Upload your edited videos directly from Rush. Image via eldar nurkovic.

Ease of Use

Premiere Pro can handle a complex edit of multiple tracks compiled from a variety of media extensions. As such, the software’s functionality isn’t exactly simple.

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Editing in Rush, on the other hand, is entirely simple on both desktop and mobile.

Rush has a magnetic timeline, which allows the editor to quickly move and shuffle clips without causing gaps within the timeline tracks. Personally, that would usually seem like a nuisance when I’m trying to edit with precision. But, that’s the thing. This software isn’t meant for precise, sophisticated editing. Rush offers ease and simplicity for creators who want to drop their clips into a timeline, sequentially edit, add music, and upload.

There is also an additional feature of the magnetic timeline. When you layer clips (meaning you place a second video track or text layer above the primary track), those clips placed above attach to the first track. So, why is this useful? Think about how you select clips on a tablet and move them forward or backward. You can choose one clip when using a phone or a tablet by firmly pressing your finger over the clip, but not several. However, this feature of a magnetic timeline makes editing multiple clips on mobile a breeze. 

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Functionality or Flexibility

Adobe says;  “Feed your followers a steady stream of amazing by creating and sharing online videos with Adobe Premiere Rush. It’s easy to use across all your devices, transforming the way you create content.

And that’s really who Rush is for. It’s for the creator who travels often and doesn’t need the full functionality of Premiere Pro. Other than the use of point and click, the software is pretty much equal in the way it operates across all platforms. It’s even great for the professional editor who wants to create a quick rush edit while on the move. 

So, what type of content do you plan on creating? Are you a budding filmmaker who has acquired a camera and set of lights, and now need to find the perfect software to bring your project to life? If so, you might want to stick with Premiere Pro. But, say you film your content with a mobile phone and you’re looking to give your footage an extra bit of love before uploading to Instagram. If you don’t need to the full functionality of professional editing software, go with Premiere Rush.

Cover image via TarikVision.

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The 7 Best Free Filmmaking Resources for Video and Motion Graphics

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With video production at a standstill right now, it’s a perfect time to get some extra training and build up your editing and motion graphics arsenal.

There has never been a better time to diversify your video production skills. Do you have an amazing idea you’ve …

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The 5 Best Webcams on the Market for Working from Home

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Here’s a list of the highest-quality, best-priced webcams available right now to hook-up and take your work fully remote.

Working from home can be difficult for many reasons — your dog’s barking, your kids are begging to go outside — so staying focused can be a challenge. However, …

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Filmmaking Roundup: The Best Free Video Editing Programs

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Are you getting started in filmmaking or video editing? Consider these free editing programs to round out your toolkit and improve your creative workflow.

If you’re just starting out in your editing, videography, or directing career, you might feel overwhelmed by the seemingly endless programs, techniques, and …

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Setting up Lighting for YouTube: The Beginner’s Guide

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In this tutorial, we’ll discuss how to keep your YouTube setup simple by adhering to these basic, cost-efficient lighting principles.

The term YouTuber is ambiguous. For the purposes of this tutorial, I’m referring to a specific group of creators. These folks are usually working with a …

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Filmmaking Industry Tools and Service Updates During the Pandemic

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With many people working from home, productions canceled, and panic spreading throughout the world it is becoming more and more difficult to ensure the show goes on. But, some companies are here to help and are offering assistance in these trying times.


Image via MASV.

We have …

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8 Best Practices for Creatives Working from Home

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Are you a creative working from home for the first time? Try out these best practices for staying focused, inspired, and connected.

As someone who’s worked from home both for herself and as part of a larger organization, I’d like to think I’m a bit …

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Premiere Pro Playbook Part 2: 10 Workflow Tips for Streamlining Edits

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In this video tutorial, we cover some core editing and organization techniques as well as tips for speeding up your workflow in Premiere Pro.

Following up on Premiere Pro Playbook: Part 1, let’s explore ten more workflow tips that can make your life easier in Premiere Pro.

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Things to Consider Before Building a Video Editing Computer

In this tutorial, we’ll cover a few important details to consider before building your own video editing computer — including how to save some money.

A few years ago, I decided to build a new video editing computer. I didn’t have a strategy for selecting the hardware, so I just chose the most expensive hardware I could afford. Fast forward to now, and I realize there are many things I could have done differently that would have improved my machine and saved me a lot of money!

Here’s what you need to know.

Computers and Cameras

For the sake of comparison, think of your video editing computer like your camera and the software you use like your camera lenses. I like this comparison because you’ll likely use the same lenses on several cameras, just like you’ll use the same programs on different video-editing computers.

Camera Lenses
It’s easier to update the software on your computer than the computer itself.

And, I still use lenses that I bought when I first started making films. However, I hardly ever use the first camera I ever owned. This is because you can only upgrade cameras so much before they become outdated (for the most part). This also happens with computer hardware.

Ensure the Motherboard Supports the Latest CPU Chipset

Latest Processors
Make sure the motherboard supports the latest CPU chipset.

Your first consideration should be the motherboard. Make sure you purchase one that supports the latest CPU chipset. This is easy to overlook, but your motherboard is essentially the glue that holds all of your hardware together. Installing a motherboard that supports the latest CPU chipset will accommodate more upgrades and give your machine a longer life.

Invest in the CPU

Invest in a high-end CPU.

Adobe products still depend heavily on the CPU, so I recommend that you invest the most money in the CPU. It’s easy to get carried away with high-end graphics cards and excessive amounts of RAM. However, Premiere Pro and After Effects will run into many bottlenecks with a slower CPU.

Research the Software You Use Most

Next, research which hardware improves performance the most with the software you use. Then, build around that. Check out Puget Systems for some great case studies, recommendations, and information on which programs use which hardware the most. I can’t stress enough the value of their research data.

Buy Mid-Level Hardware

Mid-Level Hardware
Building a mid-level machine today will save you money on upgrades in the future.

I recommend buying mid-level parts — as opposed to buying everything high-end. Obviously, they’ll be cheaper overall, lowering the initial cost. But, you can then use the money you saved to invest in future upgrades — or just buy another mid-level machine that much sooner.

Buying a new machine so quickly might sound a bit crazy, but a mid-level machine, in the future, will likely be superior to a high-end machine you build today. That’s what happened in my case. You could easily build a computer to the level of the one I have — for half the price now — just a few years later.

Use Multiple SSDs

The last thing I’d recommend is using multiple SSDs, instead of one large one. This is a huge benefit for programs like Premiere Pro and After Effects. (And it also follows the Puget Systems recommendation.)

Reduce bottlenecks by investing in multiple SSDs.

Have one SSD for your OS, the second SSD for your current media footage, and a third SSD dedicated to the media cache. Having each of these on their own SSD drive will reduce bottlenecks. This was something I didn’t know at the time of my build, and it’ll provide a much smoother workflow.

Interested in the tracks we used to make this video?

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