Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 review

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Premiere has the lengthiest history of any PC video-editing package still in production. Dating back to the early days of Windows, it wrote the book on how this kind of software should look and feel on a PC. But being first doesn’t automatically mean you stay ahead of the pack, and Premiere Pro has increasingly found itself under pressure from above and below. In particular, Final Cut Studio 2 has won a significant following in recent times.

And despite the fact that Premiere Pro CS4 doesn’t have CS3’s return to the Mac as a headline grabber, it does have some important new capabilities that help it stay ahead.

The interface itself offers purely cosmetic changes. But the New Project window has seen a significant redesign. There’s a screen where you can set the capture format and other project settings, as well as the base-editing format. The biggest news here, though, as with Adobe’s consumer-oriented Premiere Elements 7 (web ID: 228267), is that at long last Premiere Pro supports AVCHD natively, so you don’t need to add a third-party plug-in such as CineForm’s Aspect HD. Presets are included covering the majority of likely AVCHD formats, including anamorphic (1,440 x 1,080) and non-anamorphic (1,920 x 1,080) versions for all the standard frame rates – 24p and 25p, plus 50i and 60i.

While this was a heinous omission in_consumer software, considering the prevalence of AVCHD camcorders, it’s arrived just in the nick of time for the high-end Premiere Pro. Panasonic has only recently launched the AG-HMC151, placing AVCHD firmly on the map as a professional format, and consumer models are starting to become credible semi-professional options, too.

Adobe’s AVCHD implementation was also well worth waiting for. It’s extremely fluid. We tried it with AVCHD files from most camcorder models currently available, and it didn’t miss a beat. The AVCHD format isn’t the only tapeless option, though. Premiere Pro CS4 will also support footage natively from all the_latest professional camcorders, including RED One, P2 cards (DVCPRO, DVCPROHD and AVCHD), and XDCAM (both EX and HD), all of which also previously required the CineForm Aspect HD plug-in. Premiere Pro now also handles most tapeless video formats, from consumer all the way up to 4K professional. JVC’s MPEG2-based TOD and MOD files didn’t appear to be included, however.


One source of annoyance for independent producers using Premiere Pro has been the necessity of loading up each project manually for encoding. If you’re pumping out many videos a day then you either need to leave your system tied up encoding each one once it’s been completed, or wake it up at regular intervals overnight to set the next_one going. Adobe promises an alternative at long last with the new standalone Media Encoder CS4. This is_a_development of a tool that was previously integrated into Premiere Pro, but now you can load it separately, too.

The standalone Media Encoder provides a simple batch list where you can load video files, choose a target format and preset, and then leave them all to output in succession while you get_on with something else. But the real_labour saver is the ability to load Premiere Pro CS4 and After Effects CS4 projects alongside the video files, so you can leave projects encoding overnight.

Alternatively, if you need to output multiple formats from the same project,_the Media Encoder lets you line_these up as a batch, too. Support is_comprehensive, and now includes output to P2 media such as DVCPROHD, image sequences, various audio formats including AIFF and MP3, and Clip Notes using QuickTime and Windows Media.


Software subcategory Video editing software


Processor requirement 3.4GHz 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

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