Ready, set, edit
As with all of the previous versions of Premiere, installation is a snap--just insert the CD-ROM and follow the instructions. Premiere ships with some of the best documentation in the industry, including a well-written user guide, online help, and an excellent training CD-ROM from Total Training. Phone tech support is free (although you'll have to pay for the cost of the call) for 90 days if you're purchasing the program for the first time or for 30 days if you're upgrading.
Once you start up the program, you'll be asked what type of video you want to create, from a simple clip for the Web to full-resolution DV movies. After you've made your selection, the Premiere Timeline window opens up and allows you to assemble your videos. If you're accustomed to using other Adobe products, such as Photoshop, you'll find the interface's organization very familiar. When it comes to capturing video, Premiere 6.5 supports a greater variety of DV devices than its predecessor, including the popular Sony DVCAM video decks.
Real time only part-time
Within Premiere 6.5, you'll find several powerful new editing features. Three DirectX audio plug-ins from TC Electronics let you do everything from adding reverb to improving volume on a poorly recorded audio track. Just click and drag an effect onto an audio file, and a TC Electronics window will open so that you can make adjustments. On the Mac side, Adobe bundled Sparkle, a stereo audio-editing program, which, while impressive, lacks the real-time features of PC-based TC Electronics plug-ins. Therefore, you will need to render any changes you make to a Mac audio file.
At long last, you don't need to use an external program to create truly impressive titles and graphics within your production. Premiere 6.5 includes a full-featured titling app called Adobe Title Designer, which lets you tweak your text and graphics to your heart's content. The 90 included PostScript fonts add even more pizzazz to your titles.
We tested the new version's much-touted real-time previewing with a single-processor, 1.7GHz Pentium 4 desktop computer with 256MB of RAM. The feature worked as advertised, providing a generally smooth view of footage with effects, transitions, and titles added. However, there are a couple of limitations to be aware of. Unlike Vegas Video, Premiere won't let you preview on an NTSC video monitor. And you'll need to make sure that your system is up-to-snuff before getting all excited about the previews. Although you can run the program on a slower machine, you won't be able to view real-time previews on a PC that's slower than 800GHz or on a sub-G4 Mac. And of course, Adobe recommends dual processors for the best performance. On a positive note, unlike in Final Cut Pro and some other editing programs, the real-time preview in Premiere works on all transitions, effects, audio (for PC users), and graphic layers.
Now includes DVD authoring
Like many current Windows-based editing programs, Premiere 6.5 comes bundled with a third-party DVD-authoring program, Sonic Solutions DVDit LE, a scaled-back version of the company's high-end DVD-authoring tool. The program has a feature set that falls somewhere between that of Dazzle DVD Complete and that of Apple DVD Studio Pro. DVDit is nicely integrated into Premiere; you can export your timelines complete with chapter markers directly from Premiere with the Adobe MPEG encoder. Once you've encoded your video, just open up DVDit to design your DVD menu and burn your clips to a disc.
Advanced amateur video editors will appreciate the boost in productivity that real-time previewing brings, as well as the expanded creative options of the new titling and audio tools. However, it's hard to recommend the Mac version of Premiere over Final Cut Pro, which offers even more extensive controls for audio, editing, and effects. At the very least, Mac users might want to wait until Adobe adds DVD authoring.
The Title Designer, a tool for designing complex titles and graphics from within the program, is a great addition to Premiere. Check out the new audio plug-ins on the right from TC Electronics, which provide high-quality reverb, compression, and equalization.