by Douglas Bankston
Adobe Systems Video Collection is a Windows-based software bundle
that crams its box packaging with the company's most popular programs
- and these programs have been improved. The Video Collection Standard
Edition, which retails for $799, includes After Effects 6.0 Standard
edition, Premiere Pro, Audition and Encore DVD. The Professional
Edition ($1,499) features After Effects 6.0 Professional, Photoshop
CS, Premiere Pro, Audition and Encore DVD. Adobe recently sent
the Professional Edition to AC for evaluation.
The Video Collection supports OpenGL and is designed for Windows
XP Home or Professional operating on a minimum 800MHz Pentium III
processor. A 3.06GHz Pentium 4 processor or multiprocessors are
recommended. I installed the collection on a Windows XP Pro dual-1GHz
Pentium 4, dual hard-drive machine with a Matrox Parhelia graphics
card outputting to dual monitors. (I suppose I like things in twos.)
After installing all the programs, I opened all of them and compared
their layouts. All handle their windows and tools in the same way,
reminding me of Photoshop, a program I use extensively. Even though
I had never worked with a couple of these programs, familiarity
with the other programs makes their use rather intuitive - a very
important and time-saving aspect. If I can get through the basics
of a program without cracking its manual, it automatically gets
high marks from me.
This brings me to Premiere. The Premiere nonlinear editing program
has been around for many years and has its share of fans and detractors.
I found previous versions to be clunky and awkwardly arranged.
With tools buried in submenus of submenus, a task that really should
take three steps instead takes five.
With Premiere Pro, Adobe has completely rebuilt the program from
the ground codec up. Imagine my surprise when I first opened the
program to find a layout and architecture very similar to Avid
Xpress and Final Cut Pro. Toss that manual! Having worked in Avid
and FCP, I instantly knew my way around. Many of the features of
those two programs can be found in Premiere Pro. It's as though
Adobe pulled some of the better features of Xpress and FCP, implanted
some Photoshop stylings and flipped the switch. Voila, Premiere
Pro is alive.
To make sure I was on target with my assumption, I dusted off
my copy of Premiere 5.0 that I had uninstalled years ago. After
reinstalling, I compared the two. Not quite Pong versus today's Playstation
2 video games, but you get the picture.
As test material, I used digital-video footage I shot of my son's
messy first attempt at eating cereal with a spoon. Fortunately,
in Premiere Pro, I could choose NTSC or PAL when creating a project,
and it supports a variety of standard definitions and even high-definition
video with an HD capture card. The timeline is more user-friendly
than previous versions, and it is both expandable and nestable,
if you need to free up space or have multiple timelines. A nifty
feature of the clip bin is the ability to highlight a clip and
press the arrow play button in the clip bin's thumbnail window.
I could watch my son spit out that cereal without having to drag
the clip to the timeline or open a separate view window. Clicking "Properties" from
the menu will open a graphic data rate analysis window as the clip
plays, handy if you have compression-rate concerns for your project.
Editing is handled in real time. I dragged a dissolve transition
to the timeline and dropped it on an edit. Playback of the dissolve
was immediate. Depending on the effect applied to a clip, rendering
time can become an issue. I applied a heavy dose of advanced color
correction to a two-minute clip that resulted in a long render,
though the preview was in real time. The advanced color-corrector
effect features user-definable white and black levels, as well
as the usual adjustments for the RGB channels. Also, one color
can be selected and changed in the clip and that will carry through
to each frame. This and the scores of other effects are key-frameable
throughout a clip, enhancing their versatility.