Adobe "Premieres" Pro
Issue: Volume: 26 Issue: 9 (September 2003)

Adobe "Premieres" Pro

According to Adobe, the newest version of its flagship video editing product, Premiere, represents the most significant upgrade to the program since its initial introduction in 1991—so significant that the company has abandoned its existing naming conventions. Instead of calling it Adobe Premiere 7.0, the company has christened it Adobe Premiere Pro.

Richard Townhill, group product manager for Premiere Pro, says the new nomenclature is warranted by the fact that the product has been built on an entirely new code base that's been rewritten from the ground up. Adobe has been working on this new version for two and a half years, Townhill says, and during that time "we have been accumulating tons of feedback from existing Premiere users as well as non-Premiere users, and we've used that to guide the features of this new product."

The new version of Adobe's video editing system, Premiere Pro, is designed to take advantage of technology pioneered in Intel Pentium-based systems.

The result, says Townhill, is a far more professional version of Premiere, one that incorporates a long list of new capabilities while eliminating a lot of little annoyances that Townhill admits used to drive professional video editors crazy. "In short," he says, "this is not your father's Premiere."

It seems clear that Adobe has pulled no punches in its quest to build a more serious, more professional program that promises to command a new degree of respect from video pros everywhere. This can be seen in the company's decision to abandon its traditional but dated A/B editing model in favor of a single-track approach. Further evidence is the program's ability to handle HD footage and its support for AAF (Advanced Authoring Format), which enables editors to export files to other programs for finishing work. These changes have won praise from reviewers who've been able to work with beta copies of the program.

"The work flow has been economized to enable you to perform as many things as possible with only a few clicks or a few keystrokes," says Townhill. "We have added powerful editing tools like multiple nested timelines; real-time editing, including transmitting out of the 1394 port in software; three-point color correction; a full set of scopes; sample-level audio editing; and surround-sound mixing including Dolby Digital encoding. The list is extensive."

One of the most surprising developments is Adobe's decision to drop its support for the Macintosh, making Adobe Premiere Pro available only for the Windows XP operating system. In announcing that decision, Adobe has made much of the fact that Premiere Pro takes advantage of the Hyper-Threading (HT) technology pioneered in Intel's latest Pentium 4 processor-based systems, while also exploiting advances in Microsoft's Windows Media 9 series—such as high-definition video and 7.1-channel surround-sound streaming audio.

"We have gone to great lengths to optimize for speed, taking full advantage of the processor and operating system," Townhill says. The goal of the program, Adobe maintains, is to provide a render-free editing experience.

According to Adobe, the decision to release Premiere Pro only on the PC was driven by business considerations. With more than 90 percent of its customers using Windows, the company says focusing its energy on development for that platform allowed it to implement the kind of extensive changes it wanted to make within a reasonable time period.

At the moment, Adobe has no plans to make Premiere Pro available on the Mac, but the company insists it will continue to offer AfterEffects and Photoshop on the Mac. Still, the decision to make Premiere Pro a PC-only product should result in some interesting competition between it and Apple's popular Final Cut Pro program, especially given Premiere Pro's aggressive pricing of $699, or $199 for an upgrade from an existing version of Premiere.

Of course, to really make the program sing, you're going to need a quality video board, which brings us to an interesting point. Because Adobe Premiere Pro is built atop a new code base, you can't assume that all the boards that supported Premiere 6.5 also will support Premiere Pro. In fact, at press time, Adobe was still in the process of certifying boards for the new software. While some 28 boards supported Premiere 6.5, it'll probably be a while before Premiere Pro attains that level of board support.

Interestingly, one company that has long supplied boards for Adobe Premiere that will no longer be doing so is Pinnacle, a move that perhaps signals that company's intention to compete aggressively against Adobe with its own video editing solution, Edition 5.

The companies that will be supplying video boards for the product, at least in the near term, most likely will be Matrox and Canopus.

At press time, Matrox said it will have two boards available to support Premiere Pro by the time the software begins shipping—the RT.X100 Xtreme and RT.X10 Xtra. The former is targeted at corporate communicators, event videographers, project studios, educational facilities, and digital filmmakers, while the latter is targeted at prosumers and hobbyists making home movies, business videos, and school projects.

According to Matrox, both boards let users capture analog and digital media, edit in real time using real-time 3D effects and filters, and view edits on an NTSC or PAL monitor. The RT.X100 Xtreme, which starts at $1,099 bundled with Premiere, adds real-time DV output and print-to-tape capabilities. It also offers real-time capture to MPEG-2, enables real-time MPEG-2 timeline exports, and includes extensive keyframe and chroma-key features.

Matrox will support Premiere Pro on its RT.X100 Xtreme system (bottom), adding real-time DV output, print-to-tape, MPEG-2, keyframing, and chroma key (top) capabilities.

"We are pleased that Matrox will take advantage of the open architecture of Adobe Premiere Pro to expand its real-time capabilities," says Adobe's Townhill. "The real-time 3D effects introduced in the Matrox RT.X100 Xtreme bring more functionality to Premiere Pro, expanding creative options and providing an enhanced editing experience for our customers."

As for Canopus, both its DVStorm2 and DVRaptor RT2 will support Adobe Premiere Pro at its launch. Additionally, says the company, because the ADVC1394 (a video capture card supporting both analog and DV video) and the ACEDVio (a consumer-level video board) are OHCI-compliant 1394 boards, they are both natively supported by Premiere Pro.

As for the higher-end boards, both feature Canopus's high-quality hardware DV codec chip that relieves the system's CPU from Adobe Premiere Pro's software-based DV renderer, leaving more CPU power available for real-time effects processing—providing a real-time multi-track editing experience.

Of the two boards, the DVStorm2 is the more powerful and versatile. For example, it provides DV I/O and analog input as well as output, while the DVRaptor RT2 provides DV I/O and analog input only. DVStorm2 also offers five real-time video tracks, unlimited real-time title and graphics tracks, 30 real-time video filters, 28 real-time 2D and 3D transitions, and full YUV 4:2:2 editing and processing. Pricing for DVStorm2 starts at $1,088.

"DVStorm2 and DVRaptor RT2 are perfect companions for Adobe Premiere Pro software," says Townhill. "Canopus has a made a name for itself with its advanced video processing capabilities, which when combined with Adobe Premiere Pro, provides users with a first-rate real-time editing experience."

When asked if he has any recommendations for which board Premiere Pro users should buy, Townhill is exceedingly diplomatic. "This is kind of an obvious statement, but get one that suits your needs," he says. "If you are working with a lot of analog material, then make sure you get a board that supports all the I/O you need. Also, make sure that you get a board that suits your style of editing. If you are doing a lot of fancy effects work, then focusing on a board that will provide great 3D capabilities should be at the top of your list."

Stephen Porter is a contributing editor of Computer Graphics World and a freelance writer who has covered video, graphics, and digital content creation technologies and applications for more than 15 years. He can be reached at
With support from Matrox and Canopus, Adobe optimizes its flagship DV editing system