Adobe CS4 Production Studio Premium review

Price when reviewed

Adobe’s annual product cycle marches on. In fact, you could almost take the yearly refresh of Adobe’s entire portfolio as an indication that Autumn is on its way, the timing is so regular. Fortunately, Production Premium CS4 has plenty of new features – it’s not just a mechanical rollout.

It can’t afford to be, either. Some traditional competitors for Adobe’s video products have fallen by the wayside, such as Avid’s Liquid, which hasn’t seen a major update in over two years.

But much more significant has been the radical re-pricing of Avid’s flagship video editing app, Media Composer. Now that the software-only version 3 of Media Composer is available for a similar price to the Production Premium suite, and bundles a huge selection of third-party apps in the box, Adobe’s CS4 needs to pack even more of a punch. And with Apple’s Final Cut Studio coming in at half the price as well, this is no time for resting on laurels.

Adobe certainly hasn’t been twiddling its thumbs. There are no new applications in the Production Premium CS4 bundle, but the key components see significant improvements. As with the last iteration of Adobe’s apps, video editors have a variety of bundle options to choose from.

Aside from the Adobe Master Collection CS4, which gets you every Adobe app with CS4 in its name and a few which don’t, the Production Premium suite reviewed here includes After Effects CS4, Premiere Pro CS4, Photoshop CS4 Extended, Flash CS4 Professional, Illustrator CS4, Soundbooth CS4, OnLocation CS4, Encore CS4, plus Bridge and Device Central CS4, with Dynamic Link to bring the whole lot together. The final option is to buy Premiere Pro CS4 on its own, which is supplied with OnLocation CS4 and Encore CS4 in the box.

You’ll notice that one thing is missing from this list: a new version of Ultra, the virtual set tool which made its debut in CS3, following Adobe’s acquisition of Serious Magic. In fact, it’s been dropped entirely in order bring the PC and Mac versions of the suite in line (Ultra doesn’t run on the Mac).

Adobe is reportedly investigating the integration of the keyer and virtual set technology into other Adobe products, but has given no indication if a new standalone version is going to arrive. And should you want to continue using it, you’ll need to keep another CS3 app installed – the product activation of Ultra is tied to the CS3 suite installation key.

At launch, Adobe made great play of CS4’s hardware acceleration features. There was already a limited range of GPU-accelerated transitions in Premiere Pro CS3, but now the hardware assistance has expanded in Premiere Pro CS4, and also to After Effects CS4. Premiere Pro’s motion, opacity, colour and image distortion engines all, it is claimed, benefit from acceleration, while with After Effects you get faster depth-of-field and turbulent noise, although this app has already benefitted from OpenGL-accelerated previews for some years.

Initially, however, the new hardware acceleration will only be available with CUDA-enabled graphics equipment. This means Nvidia cards from the GeForce 8000 series onwards plus a recent CUDA-supporting driver, or Quadro FX cards using the same GPU generations.

Our test system was equipped with a Point of View Nvidia GTX 280 graphics card and Nvidia Forceware driver 178.13, but any GPU acceleration benefits weren’t immediately obvious. You can also add the RapiHD plug-in to Premiere Pro, to massively speed up H.264 encoding, but again the hardware you can use is limited, this time to CUDA-capable NVIDIA Quadro FX cards, and availability of the plug-in has not been announced anyway.


Software subcategoryVideo editing software


Processor requirement3.4GHz Pentium 4

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported?yes
Operating system Windows XP supported?yes
Operating system Linux supported?no
Operating system Mac OS X supported?no

Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.

Todays Highlights
How to See Google Search History
how to download photos from google photos