The latest version of desktop video editor Premiere 6 touts new consumer-level functions such as integrated DV capture and Web output, along with a set of features that make it a worthwhile upgrade for professional editors.
At the lower end of the market, say for Web or multimedia designers using single-screen systems, version 6 means that users do not have to invest in a video-capture card and software. Most new Windows machines and all new Macs include FireWire ports as standard, and Premiere has the necessary extras such as support for DV’s non-square pixels. Professional editors, or anyone else with a system that needs analog connections, will still need to buy a capture card.
The inclusion of native DV has made Adobe redesign its previously poor built-in capture tools. These are now frame-accurate and include a shuttle control that’s a lot easier to use. There are also two new tabs: Settings and Logging. The Settings tab provides a clear view of your DV-input settings and should hopefully be utilized by capture-card manufacturers for other forms of capture. The Logging tab makes batch capture and processing much simpler by adding clarity to the capture and management processes.
Premiere 6’s new import functions are matched by its main new output feature: direct Web-video export from the Timeline. This is performed through one of three menu items on the File menu: Save for Web, Advanced Windows Media Export, and Advanced RealMedia Export.
The first option, Save for Web, uses Terran’s Cleaner 5 to allow export to any of main three streaming formats at a selection of bandwidths – as well as QuickTime progressive download, AVI for CDs and MPEG-1. Advanced Windows Media Export and Advanced RealMedia Export offer more options for outputting to those formats – but again you’re limited to one of a set number with no real control.
Premiere can also place what it calls Web markers within Web video. These are placed on the Timeline and are used to create chapter points and launch URLs from within the video, for example to bring up textual or graphical information about something in the video in a different frame. Although these are easy to create and edit, you do need to plan them in advance as you can’t test until the often-lengthy encoding process is complete.
These tools and features are good but they don’t go far enough. Using Web markers to launch URLs is the basis of interactive streaming, but the main streaming formats also include hotspots for user-selected URL launches. More importantly for streaming in general, they also include keyframes to establish the most important frames to display. Premiere 6 has no tools to create these.
Furthermore, the wizard-based encoding tools are just not good enough for professional work. If you’re serious about Web production and want to produce professional results, you’ll have to buy the full version of Cleaner, adding £419 your costs.
DV support and Web video may be the most promoted new features of Premiere 6, but traditional editors will find a wide range of extras in this latest version. As mentioned before, Premiere now has access to a more common NLE view for single-track editing but the style choice when you first load the application hides the fact that you can change between A/B tracks and a single track whenever you like.
Two other views are available: the new audio mixer window – a welcome addition – and the effects controls. For single-display editors, these views make the lack of space bearable. You can also create your own layouts, which opens up the tool to dual-display work as well.
Adobe has also updated the interface by adding a storyboard window for knocking up quick cuts before exporting to the Timeline, along with a host of add-ons and changes to make Premiere look and act more like the company’s other applications. These include minor features such as a hierarchical structure to the bins in the Project window, and After Effects-style effect controls and command buttons at the bottom of most windows.
It’s all History now
The most obvious new feature added from other Adobe applications is the History palette. Having made its appearance in Photoshop, it has spread to Adobe’s other products with each new version, and has garnered a wide appreciation from users. Premiere users are likely to feel the same, as it offers a whole new layer of functionality above the old Undo/Redo commands.
Cross-pollination doesn’t stop there, with Premiere now able to directly use After Effects. It ships with 25 filters from the standard version of After Effects, but can use any filter in AE format, even those from the Production Bundle or from third-party manufacturers. This is a boost for users of both applications, as editing and compositing can largely be performed within Premiere.
Version 6 also sees lots of smaller extras. These include automated processes for sending groups of clips to the Timeline from the project and storyboard windows, a viewer for checking that your settings are cohesive from capture to clip to project to export, and the ability to edit media files in their original application with automatic update. The monitor and Timeline windows have also been given a large number of generally impressive updates.
For many users, these updates will be more important than the DV and Web-video tools, as the smaller add-ons allow them to work faster and do more. Overall though, Premiere 6 is a must-have upgrade whatever you want to do with it.