Adobe Premiere Pro CS3
At a Glance
The biggest news about Adobe's Premiere Pro CS3 video editor is that it's Windows Vista compatible and, for the first time in years, Mac-compatible. Those updates apparently took most of Adobe's effort, however, because I identified some features that are either missing or not yet fully developed.
For example, Premiere Pro accepts HDV (High Definition Video) footage, as it did in the previous version, but it still doesn't work with AVCHD (Advanced Video Codec High Definition) footage--when some video editors that cost about an eighth of its $799 street price do. Adobe says it may add AVCHD support after this initial release of the software.
On the bright side, that price is $50 less than the cost of the previous version, and Adobe now bundles its Encore DVD authoring software and the OnLocation application for setting up video shoots (determining lighting, sound levels, and so on). Encore adds support for Flash output and for Blu-ray Disc creation but shuns HD DVD, even though Adobe is a member of both disc formats' supporting associations.
Dynamic Link, a big feature added to last year's Production Studio suite, allows you to send projects from Premiere Pro to Adobe After Effects, or vice versa, without rendering them first--a huge time-saver. Premiere Pro has a new "Export to Encore" feature, but you must still render your timeline before you can work on it in Encore, so it doesn't seem that useful to me.
Premiere Pro CS3 has a few small features that I did find useful. A new Time Remapping function lets you implement slow motion (or fast motion) directly in the application's timeline simply by dragging a line on the clip. Though it makes the task easier, you have to right-click and navigate a pop-up menu to tell Premiere what you want the line to do (the line also serves as an adjustment tool for other effects). It would be even better if you could play your clip and adjust the playback speed in real time. As it stands, you must make the adjustment and then play the clip (and on slower machines, you'll need to prerender before you can play the clip), and if it isn't what you want, you have to perform the process all over again. The function doesn't work on audio that's linked to the clip, either.
You can now create and open multiple asset bins (windows) of video, audio, and still-image source files. Open a bin in a new window, and you can drag and drop files into the order you want and then select which files to insert into a new video sequence, with default transitions automatically inserted. Plus, you can now substitute clips in a timeline without having to reimplement existing transitions and effects (you'll render the effects again, though).
Premiere Pro remains the gold standard of video editors, and I appreciate that Adobe bundles two applications with it instead of making you buy its expensive suite (rechristened Production Premium CS3) to get them. But other elements of this year's suite--such as Soundbooth, an audio-editing application that's designed for non-pros--are more compelling than Premiere Pro is on its own.