Video editor lacks new feature set

Video editor lacks new feature set

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 we identified some features that are either missing or not yet fully developed.

For example, Premiere Pro accepts High-Definition Video (HDV) footage, as it did in the previous version, but it still doesn't work with Advanced Video Codec High Definition (AVCHD) footage - when some video editors that cost about an eighth of its street price do. Adobe said it might add AVCHD support after this initial release of the software.

On the bright side, the price is a little 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 users 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 users must still render their timeline before they can work on it in Encore, so it doesn't seem that useful to us.

Premiere Pro CS3 has a few small features we did find useful. A new Time Remapping function lets users 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, users have to right-click and navigate a pop-up menu to tell Premiere what they want the line to do (the line also serves as an adjustment tool for other effects). It would be even better if clips could be played back and their speed adjusted in real-time. As it stands, users must make the adjustment and then play the clip (and on slower machines, these need to be prerendered before playing), and if it isn't what they want, they'll have to perform the process all over again. The function doesn't work on audio that's linked to the clip, either.

Users can now create and open multiple asset bins (windows) of video, audio, and still-image source files. This is achieved by opening a bin in a new window, dragging and dropping files into the chosen order, then selecting which files to insert into a new video sequence, with default transitions automatically inserted. Plus, users can now substitute clips in a timeline without having to re-implement existing transitions and effects.

Premiere Pro remains the gold standard of video editors, and we appreciate that Adobe bundles two applications with it instead of making users 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.

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