Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 review

While Adobe Photoshop lives a charmed life as the de facto image editor for professionals, its video-editing cousin has had a more difficult upbringing. A decade ago it was the leader for desktop video production, but recently it started to look clunky and unresponsive in the face of younger, sprightlier competition from Apple and Sony.

Premiere Pro CS5 was a dramatic comeback, with a shift to 64-bit code and a new playback engine that transformed preview performance with the help of CUDA graphics acceleration. Combined with its superb effects, sophisticated keyframe automation and tight integration with other CS applications, Adobe was onto a winner. Apple’s controversial release of Final Cut Pro X, which in some respects was a downgrade from the previous version, further bolstered Premiere Pro’s standing among professional users.

For our own video productions at PC Pro, we made the switch from Sony Vegas Pro to Premiere Pro CS5, but it was only a brief fling. There was no doubt Premiere Pro gave better preview performance, and its nested timelines and Bézier curve animation let us do things that were impossible in Vegas Pro. However, for simple, everyday tasks – truncating and ordering clips, applying simple dissolve transitions – Vegas Pro felt more fluid.

Adobe Premiere Pro CS6

The same thought seems to have resonated with Adobe, as Premiere Pro CS6 introduces a massive interface overhaul. Visually, the thrust is towards reducing the amount of space given over to controls, and freeing up more room for the media being edited. The default workspace now shows large source and program monitors across the top, with the timeline and a tabbed panel for everything else at the bottom. The toolbox has been moved next to the timeline, and the audio meter now fills the available space to the right. It fits comfortably on a 1,920 x 1,080 display.

It was possible to change CS5 to a similar layout, but the crop of buttons below each monitor ate heavily into the space for viewing media. For CS6, these buttons have been rationalised into a smaller set that occupy a single row, and they’re easily customised for those who want to restore the missing functions, or hidden for those who know the keyboard shortcuts. There’s a new Play Around button for looping around the marker, a function previously hidden away as an Alt-click option. The jog and shuttle controls have disappeared – we won’t miss them, but others might.

The Project panel, home to all project media, is much more powerful than before. Thumbnails are scalable and icons show when a clip has been used in the timeline. Simply moving the mouse across a thumbnail scrubs through the clip and clicking reveals a playback bar, complete with in and out points. These can be adjusted with the mouse or keyboard shortcuts, arguably rendering the source monitor redundant. This works for native After Effects project files, too – a big improvement on CS5.


Software subcategory Video editing software

Operating system support

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

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