Adobe Premiere Pro 7 test

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Adobe Premiere Pro

Can a much-needed overhaul put Adobe's Premiere back at the top of the mainstream DV editing market? We check out V7 - Premiere Pro

The DV hardware market is no longer dependent upon Adobe's video editing software, Premiere, and many Premiere users are willing to jump ship to competitor products rather than upgrade. Pinnacle, once Adobe's biggest OEM customer for Premiere, is now pitching its own program, Edition, as a direct rival, and Apple has driven Premiere out of the Mac video editor arena with its aggressive marketing of Final Cut Pro and recent introduction of the keenly-priced Final Cut Express. Now confined to Windows, Premiere is having to compete against the likes of Sonic Foundry's Vegas and Ulead's MediaStudio Pro, as well as Pinnacle Edition. Perhaps a little late in the day, Adobe has come out fighting with Premiere Pro.

The new version looks impressive on paper, with a lot of good features that seem to be deliberately intended to catch up with Edition and Vegas. There's also an occasional nod to Final Cut, even though Adobe seems to have waved Mac-based DV editors farewell. Our first impression, though, was far from rosy, with the realisation that Premiere Pro can't be run on AMD Athlon Thunderbird processors - they don't support the SSE instruction sets that Premiere Pro needs. And, as we were also to discover, Pro really needs a 2GHz processor (ideally one that's much faster) if it is to deliver fluid performance. That's a limitation that may prevent many from upgrading to the new version.

Our first attempted test bed was a 1.4GHz Athlon Thunderbird-based system. Premiere Pro did install but couldn't be launched, so we tried a 2GHz Pentium 4 system that does have SSE support. This was able to run the program, but was rather unresponsive during playback. As a result, the bulk of our tests were carried out on the fastest PC available to us, a 3.06GHz Pentium 4-based laptop.

Premiere Pro has a lot to recommend it, and certainly appears to be taking a number of steps in the right direction to allow it to compete with the likes of Edition, Vegas and MediaStudio Pro. Media management tools are greatly improved and the program feels altogether more serious than previous versions.

But, to show its best form, Premiere Pro needs to run on an ultra-high-speed system, and that's likely to stop many would-be purchasers, including upgraders, from taking the plunge until such time as they're ready to splash out on new hardware. Some of the changes made in the work flow, especially the loss of A/B roll editing, are also likely to hold back sales - at least to existing Premiere users who may not want the bother, on top of a considerable outlay for hardware, of relearning the program, even though the advantages of such changes are considerable.

So, should you upgrade or move over to Premiere Pro? Well, not if you don't have the very latest spec on your PC or use one of the few accelerated editing cards - notably Matrox's RT.X100 and RT.X10, or Canopus's DVStorm 2 and RTRaptor 2 - that are said to support Pro (and will likely be fitted to a very fast PC anyway). Even owners of such cards should hold off until compatible drivers have been launched and it's clear how well they allow Pro to work on PCs of different specs. For anyone else, we suggest not making a decision without looking around at what else is on offer - the competition has never been stronger.

Peter Wells

Read the full review in December 2003's Computer Video magazine.



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Reviewed in this issue:

Adobe Premiere Pro 7

Adobe After Effects 6.0

Apple DVD Studio Pro 2

Pinnacle MovieBox USB

Roxio VideoWave Movie Creator

In December's news:

IBC 2003 Show report
Apple PowerBook overhaul
Pinnacle Edition relaunched
Avid FreeDV available for download
Pure Motion EditStudio 4 feature upgrade LaCie four-way external burner Canopus's OHCI-friendly LetsEdit
LG five-way burner
Royalty-free animation
Royalty-free music scores
Double recording time DVD discs

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