Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 Review
Premiere Pro CS3, released in 2007, is the first version to be released since Adobe acquired Macromedia. It is also the first version in some time to include support for the Mac.
In itself this release is not a major upgrade for Premiere. It has some nice new features and tweaks but the core Premiere application has not changed much. Most of the changes are found in the supporting applications and bundles, for example, Premiere Pro CS3 ships with Adobe Encore CS3 and Adobe OnLocation. Also, the Creative Suite bundles have been re-organised to accommodate Macromedia products such as Flash and Dreamweaver.
Time remapping is one of the coolest new features. You can now adjust time stretching within a clip, i.e. change the speed of different parts of a clip. This is a major improvement over previous versions which could only have one speed per clip, meaning that you had to split clips up to get varying time effects. Premiere also offers improved handling of slow motion for better quality.
Improved Support for After Effects
Premiere Pro CS3 natively supports more AE effects and filters, including third-party products. This is a positive move and will please those who don't own AE and feel that Premiere lacks a little in advanced effects.
Encore DVD, Blu-ray DVD Support
This feature alone will make CS3 worthwhile for HD producers. Premiere now ships with Encore CS3 so you have a proper tool for creating discs (Premiere's previous record-to-DVD feature was not good). And with Blu-ray authoring options, you now have a way to preserve HD content from acquisition to distribution.
There is also a publish-to-web option for DVD. For reasons I won't go into now, I doubt whether this will be the best option for those who are serious about quality.
OnLocation is an interesting addition — a separate application for recording footage on location. The idea is that you can take your laptop with you and record footage direct to hard drive. It includes handy tools like a waveform monitor to help get your recordings just right.
Soundbooth is a new Adobe offering — an audio editing and processing application designed for use with video. Although not a powerful as Adobe Audition, it has the advantage of including many pre-set effects and assistants for common video-related tasks. One feature I especially like is the Spectral Frequency Display which lets you see the waveform and make adjustments intuitively. This is great for removing unwanted sounds like a cellphone ringing in the middle of an interview. Premiere CS3 allows you to easily edit audio content in Soundbooth without having to split files, save, render, etc. Just jump to Soundbooth, make the changes and go back to the Premiere timeline.
- Replace any clip in the timeline with a new clip while preserving the original clip's attributes. I don't need to do this often, but when I do, it's a Godsend.
- The CTI no longer snaps back to the end of the last clip when you place it further down the timeline. This is better — I don't know why this "feature" was introduced in version 2 but I'm glad it's gone.
- New file search features allow you to find files more easily in big projects.
- Flash video (flv) export includes cuepoints which is nice, but Premiere still lacks two-pass FLV encoding.
- Preview output for mobile devices.
- New timecode effect — long overdue.
A pet peeve of mine is the way companies like Adobe (and Macromedia before them) keep changing their bundles. I have bought several versions of the Adobe professional suite (e.g. Adobe Video Collection, Adobe Production Studio Premium) and whenever it comes time to upgrade I find the goalposts have shifted. Why can't these companies make a decision on what a bundle includes, then just leave it alone?
To be fair, this time Adobe needed to integrate the Macromedia products, and on the whole they have done it well.
One thing that has caused a lot of upset is the loss of Adobe Audition in the video bundle lineup. Audition has been replaced by Soundbooth — those who still want the power of Audition must buy it separately. This "dumbing down" of the flagship bundles has not been well received by many professionals. On the plus side, Soundbooth does make a lot of video-related audio tasks quicker and easier.
I strongly recommend looking at the bundles. They are far more economical for those who need the features of multiple applications. And if you are a real multimedia producer using the web and other media, the Adobe CS3 Master Collection is just about the best, most comprehensive bundle of industry-standard productivity software you'll find.
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