Video? Wait…what? Isn’t this Digital Photography School? Yes, it most certainly is and yes you indeed read the title of this article correctly. I’m about to show you how easy it is to actually process video right inside of Adobe Lightroom Classic CC.
Now, this isn’t exactly a true hack (no Matrix stuff here) but it is a way for you to “work around” some of the limitations of Lightroom when it comes to processing your video files.
Lightroom has always been able to support limited video editing in the Quick Develop module but not in the processing powerhouse that is the Develop Module. Many photographers today tend to work with some type of video format in addition to their photography ventures. I happen to run my own YouTube channel which means I shoot quite a bit of video as well as working in straight photography.
Lots of wedding and event photographers split their time between making images and recording video. Furthermore, aerial photography and video have exploded lately with the increased commercial availability of drones. This means there are a lot of photographers out there with video files that need to be processed quickly. If you’re in a pinch, being able to use Lightroom to easily process a quick video is invaluable.
Alright, enough of building it up. Let’s get down to business and learn how to use Lightroom process video files.
Import the Video
The process of importing a video file into Lightroom is exactly the same as any other image file. Once the video file is imported you have the ability to view and play the video in its entirety right inside of the Library Module.
This is where the problem with video processing in Lightroom begins. Once you try and switch to the Develop Module you’re confronted with this…
Conventionally, this is as far as you can go with your video file. If you stop here you’re limited to the Quick Develop buttons at the top right.
You do have the ability to apply presets here but these are an end unto themselves. Meaning, you can’t adjust the video appearance using the adjustment sliders in the Develop Module. Or can you? Yes, you can, as a matter of fact. And this is where the gentle hacking begins.
Capture a Frame
To begin your Lightroom trickery, and therefore the editing of your video, you first have to capture a frame of the video. This essentially becomes an image file and you’ll use this image to apply your edits that will eventually be transferred to the video. To obtain the frame capture, simply click the small frame icon below the video and select Capture Frame.
Now you have what is really just a screenshot from the video. The new frame capture appears immediately after the video in the film strip (see red arrow below).
Process the Frame Capture
To process your frame capture you first need to switch over to the Develop Module from the Library Module. It’s easy to think that you somehow need to augment your workflow since you’re processing a frame capture. This is not the case.
Process this image captured from the video just as you would any other normal photo. Keep in mind though that you are only able to save the following edits for transfer to your video.
Here’s the breakdown:
- Treatment and Profile
- White balance
- White clipping
- Black clipping
- Split Toning
Yes, unfortunately, there will be no Clarity, Sharpening or Vignetting applied to your video in Lightroom. But look at that list! Of special interest is the tone curve which will give you amazing control over the look of your video. For this example, I’ve made some fairly extreme edits for the sake of demonstration.
You may be thinking “Okay, but how do I get those edits onto the video?” You’re in luck. I’m about to show you how, and it’s incredibly easy.
Sync the Edits
The magic happens when you synchronize the edits you’ve just made to your frame capture with the video file you’ve imported. In truth, you can sync the edits from any image you have in the Lightroom catalog but the most predictable method is by using a still from the actual video you’re processing.
To sync the processed frame capture and the video, first, you need to switch back to the Develop Module. Then use Ctrl/Cmd+click to select both the video file and the frame capture from the film strip.
Next, it’s just a matter of clicking the “Sync Settings” button at the bottom right.
That’s it! All of your edits are instantly transferred from the frame capture to the video.
Export the Video
Once all the editing is over, the method to export the video file is just as simple as importing. Simply choose the destination, file naming and quality settings for the video. You can even add your own watermark.
Is processing your videos in Lightroom the ideal method? I don’t think so. Is it an easy and effective way to apply some creative edits to your video file? Absolutely.
I actually process most of my videos in this manner and then export them to another program to finish the cutting and final processing. Lightroom gives us the ability to apply most of the same processing power to our videos, with a few limitations.
If you’re like me and constantly on the go, being able to stay in a familiar photo processing program like Lightroom is a welcomed alternative to more involved video processing software. Try it for yourself if you need an easy way to process your video clips!