First Look: Adobe Premiere Pro 2
Adobe's powerful Premiere Pro 2 video-editing program offers several new features, but the best thing about it--and the strongest argument for users to consider upgrading--is that it's easier to use than its predecessor. I tested a beta version of the new program as part of Adobe's new Production Suite.
One example of Premiere Pro 2's easier usability is its new automatically adjusting interface (borrowed from its consumer-oriented video-editing sibling, Premiere Elements 2). The resizing helps you manage all of the app's windows and palettes. Drag a window border or corner to resize it, and all of the other elements within the application will resize proportionately. You can drag windows or palettes into areas of the screen, and they will either dock or size themselves into the available window area.
Another new feature helps you make cuts at the right visual and audible cues when you have video from multiple cameras and want to tie them to a master soundtrack. This multicamera monitor lets you view up to four video tracks in a single window; you click on the panes within the window to make cuts in the sequence. The visual representation works well when you're using multiple cameras to record the same event, or when you're compiling different video sources into one movie.
One tool that most people will use is the new secondary color corrector. First you click on areas of an object with a color picker to create a mask; then you can use hue and saturation controls to change the color of the object. I found that this app works best on objects in a high-contrast setting--for example, a bright purple bucket in a kid's sandbox. Though it didn't work perfectly on all of the objects I tried, it's a very neat tool.
Premiere Pro 2 lets you create a PDF containing your video and a commenting mechanism--so, for example, your client can make notes at specific time codes. You can then re-import just the notes, which will match up to the time code in your original timeline. The application down-samples the video and converts it to either Windows Media or QuickTime format. You can instruct it to enclose the video within the PDF or to upload it to a server and link to it from within the PDF.
Importing HD, Exporting DVDs
Many movies created with Premiere Pro 2 will end up as DVDs, and now you can create basic DVD menus from within the application. The menu-creation mechanism is identical to the one in Premiere Elements 2, except that it has slightly different templates. You can create motion menus and buttons, and you can edit the templates in Photoshop, but your controls are limited. For fancier work, you'll need to use Encore DVD 2 and/or After Effects 7, both of which are part of the Production Studio suite.
Premiere Pro 2's new engine for importing, editing, and exporting high-definition video works better than its predecessor's. High-definition video won't work without an extremely powerful system, and it takes a long time to render, but the app was quite stable when I worked with it.
A new command for sending projects to After Effects saves time because you don't have to render those projects first. Instead, you can put off rendering until you're finished your After Effects work. Of course, that's useful only for projects that you will be adding features to in After Effects. You can edit an audio track in a Premiere Pro file with Audition 2 by right-clicking it and choosing Edit in Audition. If you make any changes, Audition automatically updates the file in Premiere Pro.
Premiere Pro 2 costs $849 for the full stand-alone version--about $150 more than Premiere Pro 1.5 went for--though you can upgrade from any previous version for only $199. The Production Studio bundles are priced even higher ($1699 for Premium and $1199 for Standard), but it's nice to have the other applications in the suite at your disposal to perform highly sophisticated edits on components within Premiere Pro 2. But even without those apps, this video editor has plenty of power and few peers.
The Rest of the Suite
Here are links to our reviews of the other parts of Adobe's Production Studio Premium:
Adobe Premiere Pro 2
The anchor of Adobe's Production Suite gives you even more professional-quality video-editing tools--and makes them easier to use.
Current prices (if available)