Premiere Pro CC review
Price: £14.65 plus VAT per month
Pros: Good relinking; file handling; improved import/export support; media browser works well; better timeline management; audio syncs for multicam.
Cons: High spec required for Mercury engine; colour grading not as clever as FCP; not the fastest renderer.
With Apple’s Final Cut Pro going its own way, with a sleek and modern interface, and Avid’s curmudgeonly Media Composer still holding sway over traditional video editors, it was always going to be interesting to see which way Premiere Pro went with the new Creative Cloud version.
The most obvious change is that you are now leasing the software, and if you stop subscribing you can’t use it. The plus side is that, unless you're paying for Premiere Pro alone, you'll have access to After Effects CC, Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC. While the online cloud storage and sharing will have some merit, it’s the integration with Adobe Anywhere that has the biggest potential, enabling team members in different locations to work on the same project. Unfortunately, that doesn’t come with the Creative Cloud subscription, it’s extra, and you'll need your own hosting servers to put the production on. That’s also how Premiere differentiates between file types for editing. A project file is yours alone, a production file is for multiple users.
So, back to the original question, and Premiere has shuffled somewhat towards Media Composer. While Premiere could import its AAF files, they weren’t always that accurate. This has been improved for both importing and exporting, with better support for Media Composer’s native DNxHD media format. Another option is the ability to select specific sequences when exporting to AAF. So FCP owners don’t feel left out, there’s better compatibility with Final Cut projects as well. Helping things along are the built-in Messanine codecs; Adobe now has a team doing nothing else but working on codecs, so they will be 64-bit and multi-core threaded. As such, Sony XAVC and Panasonic AVC-Intro 200 are now supported. Of course, there’s still the 2K and 4K formats that Media Composer has trouble with – version 7 expected to address – which can be edited directly on the timeline.
If you thought Premiere CS6 did a good job of cleaning up the interface, then get ready for it to become more complex again. Not through stuffing more tool icons back in, but rather by adding small icons to clips. As part of the timeline revamp, each clip now has a notification gadget, which uses a colour code to either mean nothing has changed, the clip itself has changed, an intrinsic effect has been changed or that an effect has been added.
This gives it a more immediate and visual nature. While Premiere Pro CC hasn’t gone as far as Final Cut’s Magnetic Timeline, there is intuitive track targeting to make them easier to select, there are numerous keyboard shortcuts, and effects can be copied and pasted from one clip to another using the Paste Attributes function.
One area of much-needed improvement has been overhauled – locating and linking clips. Searching, finding and identifying clips and their relative locations is a lot quicker and easier now.
Last time out, markers were improved; this time it’s timeline track headers that can be customised, resized, and have presets created and applied. Also, the Media Browser ability to mark out sections of clips before you even load them into the project has been expanded, so you can browse for specific sequences and media before importing.
The Mercury playback engine does a good job of real-time previews, but if your hardware didn’t have a CUDA graphics card, then it was the CPU, not the GPU doing all the work in CS6. The range of what it will work with has been expanded in CC, so anything with OpenCL can tackle some of the more graphics-intensive previewing. This was more of an issue for iMac owners as they were stuck with whatever graphics card was built in. There’s still a recommendation to have a card with 1GB of VRAM, even with that OpenCL support, otherwise the editing gets sluggish with lots of tracks and effects on that level of hardware.
Previously Premiere CS6 lagged behind FCP and Media Composer when it came to colour correction and grading, requiring a trip to Adobe SpeedGrade to finish the job. The three-way colour controls were redesigned for CS6 and now in CC there’s the Lumetri Deep Color Engine, which can apply preset colour grades. It also features a Looks Browser with a range of presets from bleach bypass to 1970s styles and can add looks from SpeedGrade without leaving the house.
Another area where Premiere Pro was lagging behind FCP was being able to sync multicam clips by audio, which made life difficult if you were using DSLR clips as they don’t have timecodes. Well rejoice now because that’s just been added. You can sync single multicam shots or whole bins of clips according to the audio waveform.
Audio itself has quite a few more tweaks, though nothing radical. Audio clips can be adjusted independently or use a control surface for extra precision. There’s the TC Electronic Radar Loudness metre and support for a host of plugins such as Audio Units, but only if you have a Mac.
There are other features worth looking at, like closed captioning, which is mainly for studios in the American market, the Adobe Story Plus scripting tool and enhanced monitoring in the source and program monitor panels.