It's been a while since I used Premiere, having progressed to higher-end solutions. It used to be a bit sluggish, but with version 6.5 a lot has changed. DV has revolutionized desktop-based video editing, and has created a video standard that no serious editing application can ignore. Avid?s Media Composer and Apple's Final Cut Pro (FCP) have also solidified a general interface that most editing applications now seem to adopt, Premiere included. And today?s hardware allows some nifty tricks - which Premiere has integrated into its feature set.
The most notable update to Premiere is its real-time preview of video effects. Unlike Final Cut Pro, which makes predetermined decisions to render as a real-time effect, Premiere takes a have-a-go attitude and tries its best on all effects. This means there's never an Unrendered card while playing down the timeline. Still, it is just a preview. What Adobe has smartly done is created a sort of temporal dynamic resolution, it does as good a job as possible given the speed of your system, and drops quality as necessary to keep up - but don't expect 25 frames per second at full DV resolution. On a 600MHz iBook and a dual 800MHz Power Mac, dissolves can look choppy and frames are dropped when played to a monitor, but the effect works as a preview. This is more useful for video effects than video transitions, and choppy playback is less irritating than an Unrendered warning in FCP.
When not feeding DV to a monitor, performance improves considerably. Dissolves work almost flawlessly, and many effects play back at a decent frame rate if played to a computer screen only. Once you're satisfied with the effect, simply render the timeline for full-motion playback to a monitor and deck.
Premiere comes with a ton of video effects. It can use After Effects compatible plug-ins as well as Premiere native plug-ins. Version 6.5 now includes Blend, Channel Blur, Directional Blur, Ramp, and Lightning ? previously only available with After Affects.
Adobe Title Designer is amazing. It's so good, one wonders why other video-editing systems don't have a titler like this. All that's often needed from a titler is the ability to design and type on video, but many editing systems can't do this. Final Cut can't, and neither can After Effects. Title Designer takes this in its stride. It's the most feature-rich title tool I've ever seen. Kerning, Path Text, bézier shapes - the list goes on and on.
Smartsound Quicktracks is a plug-in that creates custom soundtracks based on parameters provided through a wizard-like interface. This creates music tracks that are every bit as dull as one would expect an automated music-selecting plug-in to be. Premiere 6.5 ships with 27 different styles of Quicktracks, ranging from Techno to Zydeco. It can make loopable beds and stings from any of these styles, and it's tightly integrated into the Premiere interface. This is useful, but the result is as creative as clip art.
Premiere is speedy and responsive. Each editor can choose if he wants to edit in classic Premiere 'A/B' style, or the streamlined FCP 'One Track' style of editing. Also, many of the key commands in Premiere are identical to FCP, so switchers can navigate the program with little fuss. Exporting a timeline as MPEG-2 for DVD Studio Pro was also identical to FCP, even when exporting timeline markers as DVD-chapter points.
The transitions and motion tools haven't changed a jot in years, but they should've. Animating a DVE-style movie is clunky, and it's difficult to co-ordinate more than one layer of animation. However, Premiere projects can import into After Effects - essential for serious animation.
Premiere 6.5 has two glaring omissions that keep it from being a truly professional editing package. First off, it can't import EDLs - although it can export them.
That, to me, makes it professionally useless. It means that anything edited on another system can't be finished on Premiere. My other problem with Premiere is that there is no internal RS-422 deck control, which cuts out the use of most professional-video decks that aren't DV. There are third-party plug-ins that give Premiere RS-422-deck control, but they don't come bundled.
Still, Premiere has grown into a robust, feature-rich editing package. It goes without saying that it captures DV flawlessly and supports just about every third-party hardware card and DVCAM device on the market today. Premiere 6.5 is also Mac OS X compatible, and ran flawlessly under OS X 10.2.
OS X compatibility, real-time effects preview, and the great new title tool are enough reasons to upgrade if you're currently using Premiere and have no problem with it. And if you're looking for a cost-effective entry into digital-video editing then give Premiere a look. Still, Adobe won't win over many switchers from Final Cut Pro or Avid Xpress DV with this version.