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Virtual Reality Apps

​Pining for VR video? Adobe's Project Clover could help

A special version of Premiere Pro editing lets video editors edit virtual reality videos -- in virtual reality.

Adobe's Project Clover shows a timeline for editing VR video using a virtual reality headset.

Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Adobe Systems, the biggest name in software when it comes to professionals who edit photos, produce videos, and create illustrations, is now interested in virtual reality.

The company showed off a new tool called Project Clover this week at its Max show for creative pros. Based on the its Premiere Pro video editing software, Project Clover works with VR headsets like Facebook's Oculus Rift to let video editors work within the immersive digital realm.

"We'd like to see if there's a better way to do our video editing inside VR," said Stephen DiVerdi, a member of the Adobe Research team, giving a sneak peek of Project Clover at Adobe Max. However, for now it's a test project, and Adobe won't say when or even if it will become a real product.

The chicken-and-egg problem with virtual reality is that nobody has an incentive to create VR videos and VR games until customers buy headsets, but customers don't have incentive to buy VR headsets until there's something interesting to see with them. Project Clover could help make it easier for people to supply that content so you can tour Jack Daniels' distillery or watch professional basketball.

VR headsets need video constructed as a spherical panorama around the viewer. But video editors using screens get a hard-to-comprehend rectangular projection of that spherical view. Project Clover shows the video in a headset, overlaying the traditional video-editing timeline and letting the editors do their work with the Oculus handheld controllers. That means they don't have to constantly take the headset on and off as they make changes, DiVerdi said.

In addition, Project Clover can help a problem cutting from one video clip to another -- a problem that didn't exist before VR video. Project Clover lets the editor properly orient the second scene so a viewer won't have to turn around during the change.

Adobe also is working on audio support that will ensure sound comes from the right part of the VR world, DiVerdi told CNET.

Project Clover is Oculus-only for now, but it's not limited to the Facebook headset he said.

VR can be disorienting and sometimes make people feel queasy. The problem can afflict editors, too.

"This is a concern. It's bad enough for good video, but for raw footage, and when navigating the timeline, it gets even rockier," DiVerdi said. "To combat this, we have a feature we can turn on we call Adaptive Vignetting that dynamically reduces the field of view -- making it kind of like tunnel vision, darkening the periphery -- when it detects jumpy video."

First published November 4, 2:31 p.m. PT.
Update, 5:24 p.m.:
Adds further details from Adobe.