Product Review: Adobe Premiere Pro CS5
In April, Adobe released the new version of their Creative Suite: Adobe CS5. With this new set of tools, they have once again raised the bar on media production with their video applications. Some users, however, may need to upgrade their systems in order to fully take advantage of this new suite.
Premiere Pro has gone 64-bit, and that's one of the biggest new features to me. 64-bit applications are (depending on your system) faster than their 32-bit counterparts, and can handle way more RAM (32-bit apps can only hand up to 4 Gb of RAM). This also means you need to have a 64-bit operating system (all modern CPUs support 64-bit Operating Systems, so this shouldn't be much of a problem).
If you use certain Quadro professional video adapters, or the Geforce GTX 285, you can take advantage of the GPU-accelerated Mercury Engine. This engine provides realtime playback on a wide variety of HD footage, including RED and uncompressed video. This feature alone sets Premiere Pro apart from many competitors, as it completely changes the way you work.
As you may know, editing requires fast playback response as you should be able to work and make decisions on the fly, instead waiting for renders just to see how your work looks. This creates the need to use lower-bandwidth proxies for editing, which are later replaced with the full-quality shots. With Premier Pro CS5, you no longer need to utilize proxies in your workflow, and you don't have the hassles of managing these multiple-resolution files, because the mercury engine lets you work with the full-quality files, in real time.
For my tests, I used a combination of uncompressed 2K AVI and MP4 files. There's a slight delay as you press the play button, but after that the video plays back the same as if you were working on low resolution SD footage.
Premiere Pro CS5 includes a variety of video and audio effects. However, some of them are now GPU accelerated, meaning you don't need to make preview renders to see the result.
Rendering speed got a boost as well, so you will notice shorter render times when working on large projects. I am going to share the specs of the test machines so you can visualize these comparisons better. Machine A is a 2GHz dual-core Xeon with 6Gb of RAM and a Quadro FX 4800 videocard, running Adobe CS5; Machine B is a 2GHz 8-core Xeon with 8Gb of RAM and an ATI FirePro V8750, running Adobe CS4.
For the first test, I made a quick video just a few seconds long. Render times were very comparable, but Machine B (running CS4) would always beat Machine A (running CS5), which would be an expected result as it has an obvious advantage on CPU power.
I then took a project I'd been working on (a video in stereo format). This video is not only longer, but also being encoded for 3D in side-by-side format. On this second test, Machine A (running CS5) rendered the video 25% faster than Machine B (running CS4), which is a very significant result, considering the big differences in processing power between machines, as well as the multi-threading capabilities of both Adobe suites.
This means that for "real-life projects," if you are using Premiere Pro with a CUDA-enabled videocard, you will get significant reductions in your rendering times.
Premiere Pro CS5 also includes Ultra Key. The idea behind Ultra Key is to provide a fast and accurate way to deal with green-screen footage. Ultra Key is what they call "vector keying," as it detects the changes in vector colors (I am assuming it's the evolution of the vector keyer Adobe Ultra, included in CS3, but I haven't been able to confirm that).
Ultra Key is one of the many GPU-accelerated effects. You can see the result of your key in realtime in your video pane, and the video playback will not slow down after applying the effect.
Just like in previous CS versions, you can combine different apps via Adobe Dynamic Link. You can import After Effects compositions directly into the Premiere Pro timeline and edit them just like any other clip. Unfortunately, the Mercury Engine will not be of much help increasing the playback speed of After Effects compositions.
Metadata information management has also been improved when using Premiere Pro CS5 in conjunction with Adobe OnLocation. OnLocation allows you to generate metadata to identify all of your shots, making them more manageable and easier to find. This data generated in OnLocation is fully searchable in Premiere Pro and that takes away much of the guesswork you run into when looking for specific shots.
My only complaint would be limiting the video card models that the Mercury Engine can run on (for example, you can't run it on a computer with an ATI card). However, OpenCL is currently not mature enough, and GPU acceleration through CUDA should be the way to go at the moment.
I've used Vegas and Final Cut, as well as previous versions of Premiere Pro, and if I had to define Premiere Pro CS5, I would say it's a game changer. It has made the move to 64-bit computing, and is also taking advantage of modern GPUs. Now, with the Mercury Engine, you can edit at the speed of thought, without having to worry about managing videos of multiple resolutions to speed up workflow. I completely recommend Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 to anyone working in video editing.
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Sergio Aris Rosa [nemirc], is Sr. Staff Writer for the Renderosity Front Page News. Sergio discusses on computer graphics software, animation techniques, and technology. He also hosts interviews with professionals in the animation and cinematography fields. You can follow him on Twitter, and if you want to see what he's up to you can visit his blog.
June 21, 2010
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