Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 (beta)

Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 Beta: Faster Video Editing, Higher Demands

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Adobe Systems Premiere Pro CS5 (beta)
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Pros

  • 64-bit native, GPU acceleration, Extensive high-def support

Cons

  • GPU acceleration supported on only a few cards and CPU rendering is leisurely by comparison, interface text is too small

Bottom Line

Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 has been dying for 64-bit support and finally gets it. But if you really want to speed up your video workflow, you may need to spring for an expensive graphics card.

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Adobe says it will also support new cards from nVidia's Fermi line, such as the GTX 470 and GTX 480, which are supposed to be available this month. Unfortunately, while those cards are coming out soon, Premiere won't gain GPU-acceleration support for the GTX480 until the third quarter of this year, and Adobe hasn't said anything yet about the GTX 470.

Premiere's Effects Browser now has three buttons at the top of its window--one that filters the list to show only GPU-accelerated 32-bit effects, one that shows only CPU-accelerated 32-bit effects, and one that shows only YUV color-space effects. The filtering is particularly useful because if you mix 32-bit effects and 8-bit effects, they'll all render in 8 bits. Also, the accelerated effects are a bit of a tease--they are available for use only if you have one of the supported graphics cards installed, but they show up whether you have an appropriate card or not.

Additional Features

Mixing Macs and PCs in the same shop? Premiere Pro can now share projects and assets with Apple's Final Cut Pro, and with Avid editing applications. If you use only common effects and transitions, you may be able to do so without converting or even rendering--though you will still have to worry about how to share the gargantuan source files.When you import or export a Final Cut Pro project, Premiere will generate a translation report that details how effects, transitions, and other elements got carried over from one platform to the other. For example, you'll see notes like, "additive dissolve not translated; cross dissolve used instead."

Native support for massive R3D files generated by RED Digital Cinema cameras is new, as well as support for XDCAM HD 50, AVC-Intra footage, and HD video from some Canon and Nikon digital SLRs. For example, I imported HD video from a Nikon D5000, and Premiere required no conversion at all--I just dropped the clips into the source bin, and, from there, immediately into the timeline. Similarly, Premiere will now import unprotected asset files from a DVD, also with no fuss.

A new tool finds gaps in videos on your timeline, and another lets you output a still frame from your video with the click of a button. The latter function makes it much easier to generate a thumbnail image for your Website.

You can now set monitor playback resolution and pause resolution independently by using a simple drop-down menu; that's useful if you're editing on an underpowered system such as a laptop. But as with many Adobe applications, Premiere's interface text is very tiny, and you can't adjust the text size.

Later this year Adobe will release a set of online services called CS Live; some of these services will integrate with Premiere Pro and/or other elements of the Production Suite. For example, Adobe Story allows you to develop scripts, characters, and story lines and collaborate on them with other folks online, setting things like scene duration and shot numbering, and you can tag nearly every element in your script. Later, you can bring that information into Adobe OnLocation (which comes with Premiere Pro) to generate shot lists, and then when you import the project into Premiere, the in and out points and the metadata come with it. A link in Premiere's File menu will launch Adobe Story so you can check whether your production is adhering faithfully to your script. Then, you can upload your production (in low resolution) to another online Adobe application, CS Review, where others can make comments on the production; the comments then appear in Premiere Pro's new Review panel, and the comments appear at the exact points that reviewers want them to appear. The online services are supposed to go live later this year, though Story is already available as an Adobe Labs beta.

Adobe's with-both-feet move to a 64-bit-native application is a bold one, and a move that other developers are sure to follow. But beyond that, it strikes me that Adobe is, at least inadvertently, promoting a professional video editing environment similar to that of the early to mid 1990s, when those who wanted to edit analog video on their computers had to have $3,000 video cards in their computers. Sure, 64-bit computers have become relatively common, and regular folks will be able to use one with Premiere Pro to create great video productions, as long as they're willing to wait. If video editing is your job, you know that time spent rendering is money not earned or projects not completed, and for you, investing in this application and one of those expensive nVidia cards is practically guaranteed to speed up your workflow--and your cash flow.

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