Price: 599 . 209 . 1409 . 599
Pros: Time Remapping. Blu-ray support. Direct to disc recording; output for mobile and other platforms.
Cons: Windows and Intel Mac only. Low number of new features in Premiere and Encore. OnLocation requires Windows.
Shipping as part of Creative Suite 3, as well as a standalone product, Premiere Pro has not received as much of a features boost as stablemate After Effects, though it too has been touched with the CS3 makeover brush.
There’s no quick ‘one-click’ to hide panels as in the other suite components, but the interface has been updated to offer multiple project panels and bins, with individual settings for graphical and text views. New text-based search functions are handy too (and fast) as is the revamped Adobe Bridge for organizing video files.
However, it’s not all window dressing for the CS3 release. Motion retiming is a key post-production activity and the new Time Remapping effect brings this within Premiere proper, rather than having to export to After Effects or similar. Previously you could change the speed of the entire clip with the Speed/Duration command, but there was no way to vary the speed change over time.
Now you can add keyframes to do this (and play backwards). In practice, this involves dragging a rubber-band line in the timeline to vary the velocity of the clip between user-assigned keyframes. It’s a quick and effective solution. The duration of the clip changes during Time Remapping, so this is something to keep in mind if cutting a sequence to a specified length before applying this type of effect.
Timeline editing has received another enhancement with the ability to replace a clip in the timeline with another, yet preserve the original clip’s editing attributes and effects settings. Again, in practice, this works very smoothly, but there’s no doubt you’ll need to tweak timings after import. Both these features are bound to be timesavers though.
The overriding theme of the multi-application Creative Suite 3 is interoperability and Premiere Pro CS3 is packed with features to comply with the ‘author once, output many times’ mantra. One of these is the ability to export ‘cue points’ to Flash video, using embedded notes in the video sequence that trigger interactivity and navigation when played in Flash. It’s simply a case of adding markers in Premiere, then exporting the sequence to the integrated Adobe Media Encoder where in addition to Flash you are presented with a wide variety of finishing options, including iPod and Blu-ray destinations.
The Media Encoder also ties in with Adobe Device Central, which ships with Premiere Pro. This provides a useful testing area for most of the popular mobile phones on the market, bringing up supported content on an emulation of the handsets. There are collapsible panels for testing and performance tuning, with settings that depend on what media type you are exporting and ways to emulate the conditions that the phone might be used in, such as strong sunlight.
Now shipping as part of the Premiere offering, Encore CS3 supports high-definition DVD creation, with Adobe firmly planting its colours in the Blu-ray camp. Blu-ray projects are put together using the same path as ordinary DVDs, albeit using HD material, but once it’s been created you can also author a standard-definition DVD project or Flash content from the assets with one command. Background transcoding of source files (including to MPEG-2 or H.264, Dolby Digital or DTS audio) and the pick-whip selection of assets are also major strengths of this package.
Encore DVD was always a worthy match for products like Sonic’s prosumer range. The move to the Mac now brings it into direct competition with Apple’s DVD Studio Pro, and the bundling with Premiere sets it against Avid Liquid. However Encore’s tight integration with Photoshop is a big plus for menu creation, especially as menu buttons, text and image assets are stored in Photoshop-compatible layers and layer sets. It’s also represents better value than before, now that the two products are shipped together.
Premiere Pro CS3 itself may be lacking in many new features, but it’s a stable release with a lot of little timesaving enhancements. If you’re using Premiere on the Mac there will be a lot more features you’ll be encountering for the first time, for example Premiere’s value and velocity graphs to control keyframes as well as a strong third-party plug-in support.
Another feature is Dynamic Link, which lets you make instantaneous changes to assets within Premiere, After Effects and Encore projects from within the host applications. Thus you can tweak the motion graphics of a Premiere Pro title sequence in After Effects and see it update in Premiere without further rendering.
It’s probably the main feature that sets Premiere apart from a competitive marketplace. If you then add in the other products that ship with the main editing tool, Premiere Pro CS3 represents very good value, especially for small video production teams on a desktop budget.