Video editing is part of my daily routine, and as such has become an important factor in my software buying decisions. I’ve used a number of different video editing programs over the years including: Final Cut Pro 7, Final Cut Pro X, Sony Vegas, iMovie, Pinnacle, and half a dozen lesser-known programs that haven’t really done me any good other than to fill shelf space.
Perhaps the one program I have the most history with is Adobe Premiere. I started using it around CS4 and stopped after a colleague at a studio told me that Adobe Premiere isn’t an industry standard, and I should stick with Final Cut Pro if I want to edit collaboratively. Well, that’s when I started taking a look at Final Cut, and the majority of the videos I’ve done there and then here at LockerGnome have been done on that platform.
With Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 and now Adobe Premiere CS6, Adobe has opened its software up to subscriptions, allowing someone to use programs without paying the full price to do so. For $49 per month, I’m able to use Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks, Audition, After Effects, and even Premiere on both OS X and Windows. That was the selling point for me. As someone who lives in both Windows and OS X, the idea of having the same editing software with me on the road as I have on my HP Windows machine at home was most appealing.
Features – 8
Adobe Premiere has long been one of the leading platforms for video editors. It’s every bit (in my opinion) as much a professional editor as Final Cut, Avid, or Sony Vegas. In fact, both Avatar (parts) and The Social Network were edited using Adobe Premiere Pro. It’s because the program is so easily connected with other programs such as Photoshop and After Effects that the real power of Premiere Pro can be realized. You can create an image in Adobe Photoshop and import the project directly into Premiere, cutting out the middle-man image file that would make future manipulation more of a hassle.
In addition, you can export Premiere projects directly to Final Cut Pro. That means if you don’t want to use Premiere as your master platform, you can still edit clips with it to put features to use that might not be present in Final Cut. This XML file generates fairly quickly, and allows you to hit the ground running as you transfer the project over.
Perhaps my favorite feature of Adobe Premiere is the advanced multicam editing. This means you can watch multiple camera angles at a time and select between them as you would if you were in a live studio. This cuts out a lot of the time you might otherwise be spending clipping and arranging different video segments in order to create a dynamic scene. It’s all done in real-time with Premiere, which makes it take roughly the same amount of time as it would if you were just watching the clip in the first place.
I found a lot of the built-in video effects and transitions to be quite good. The DeNoiser and Multiband Compressor audio effects especially do a great job of making audio mastery easier. Even the most noisy clip can be wrestled to the ground and sorted out by playing it for a bit with the DeNoiser running. It takes about ten seconds or so, but you really hear it kick in.
There are also considerably more video effects with Adobe Premiere Pro than there are with Final Cut. Granted, you can make your own transitions with a little effort, but having a bunch sitting there ready to go for you certainly helps.
I also like the blade feature. Unlike snipping and cutting tools on other editors, this one makes slicing and dicing a clip a little more fun. I don’t know how to describe it other than that, but I’ve found my workflow to be considerably quicker because of it.
While I’m a fan of the blade feature, I wish there was an intuitive way to simply snip a clip at the playback head. I know I can pinpoint to this line with my mouse, but keyboard shortcuts are more useful. That’s not to say it doesn’t exist, but it isn’t intuitive. I know a thing or two about editing, and I didn’t find it.
I’m also not a huge fan of how Adobe handles the waveform. I want to be able to zoom in on it vertically, so I can see the peaks and valleys with more detail. I’m a big believer in better audio, and I find visual inspection of the waveform to be an extremely helpful tool in this process. If anyone reading this knows of a way to get this done, let me know.
While snapping is certainly listed as a feature, I don’t like how Premiere uses it. My mouse should snap to the beginning and/or end of the clips in addition to the clips snapping together. This makes my job easier, and Premiere doesn’t appear to want to do this for me. If there’s one turnoff above all others for me, this is the one.
Performance – 5
Performance on version 6.0.1 is remarkably better than it is on 6.0.0. That said, I still find Premiere a bit sluggish when editing 1080p AVCHD source files. It locks up from time to time, and drives my quad-core i5 processor into the ground for minutes at a time. The same source files can be thrown into FCP X and edited without any lag or hassle on the Mac. I have no alternative on the PC that does any better with this. Sony Vegas has the same problem.
Rendering is perhaps the biggest advantage Adobe Premiere has over Final Cut Pro. While I like Compressor very much (and would probably recommend it over any other option) I like Adobe Media Encoder more. Video just appears to come out cleaner to me, and the file sizes are well within range. Rendering times are also a bit shorter. In the grand scheme of things, these two encoders are roughly the same but every video editing professional has their own (very strong) opinion on the matter. For me, I like both.
Ease of Use – 7
Adobe Premiere has been my choice for beginners for years. It has had more in common with FCP X than any other editing software short of iMovie, and yet has an incredible amount of power behind it, and has since it was first produced. If you use Final Cut, you can use Adobe Premiere. Adobe has even made it possible to switch to Final Cut keyboard shortcuts with a single click. Yeah, that surprised me too.
I’d say if you’re looking for an easy editing experience, iMovie is still king, but Adobe Premiere is by far my tool of choice on Windows. Sony Vegas isn’t that difficult to figure out either, but the UI makes the difference in the world when you’re looking for something and need things to just come together.
Stability – 3
I didn’t want to write about stability in this review, but after having experienced crashes that ruined my work on multiple occasions across both OS X and Windows, I feel this review can’t be published without at least mentioning just how unstable Adobe Premiere is. FCP X works like clockwork 99% of the time, and Sony Vegas has its issues, but it isn’t as prone to just crashing on me as Adobe Premiere has been.
Adobe Premiere Pro 6.0.0 is perhaps the most unstable editing software I have used to date. The recent 6.0.1 update has resolved a lot of this, but that doesn’t make me trust the platform any more. I’ve added saves to my workflow each time I make a change to the video. I would say if you’re going to use Adobe Premiere Pro CS6, you should update it right away and save your progress every five minutes.
This issue occurred on OS X Lion, Windows 7 Home Premium, and Windows 8 Release Preview.
I admire Adobe for having continued to improve on its Creative Suite. These programs are incredibly useful, and making them available for a subscription fee makes this software more accessible to small businesses and independent professionals like myself. I’m a big fan of Photoshop and After Effects, though I’m still on the fence as to whether I enjoy editing with Final Cut Pro X or Adobe Premiere Pro more. As it stands, FCP X is certainly the more stable of the two. It also costs quite a bit less.
I intend to keep using this program to edit video as, despite its shortcomings, it remains the most powerful cross-platform video editing solution I’ve come across to date. Adobe has done a great job with the software, and it appears to be patching the issues very quickly. Hopefully by the time you are reading this, it’ll be every bit as solid as previous versions.