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Windows video editing at its best

PC video enthusiasts who’ve had it with the “free” video editing solutions included with Microsoft Windows now have reason to cheer.

PC video enthusiasts who’ve had it with the “free” video editing solutions included with Microsoft Windows now have reason to cheer. Adobe Systems’ Premiere Pro boasts the power of professional editing systems with an interface that can be tackled by adventuresome PC enthusiasts (no Mac support).

At $699, Premiere Pro obviously isn’t for the casual user who wants to make kid videos for grandma. That category is reserved for video packages such as Pinnacle Systems’ Studio 8 and Magix Movie Edit Pro 2004, each of which cost $100 before discounts.

That’s not to say that Premiere Pro can’t be used for small personal projects. Thanks to Adobe’s complete streamlining of the interface, Premiere is far easier to use than earlier versions. Premiere Pro, in fact, is a complete rewrite of the out-of-steam Premiere line, which began in 1991 and ended at version 6.5 last year.

In the past, Adobe had to write two different Premiere versions, devoting development and support resources to both the Mac and the PC. Premiere Pro is Adobe’s way of saying that the video market is getting too crowded and the only way it can compete is to focus on a single platform–in this case, Windows XP.

Under the covers, Premiere Pro now includes real-time editing, which means you can see your effects and edits as you add them. Now you don’t have to waste time rendering the video clips just to find out whether you liked them. Once you see features like real-time editing, there is no going back to the slow two-step process. Also new to Premiere Pro is a complete audio editing environment that allows even casual users to create stellar videos in surround sound.

Of course, these things mean that Adobe is making more use of the processing power than before. My tests were run on a 2.53GHz system with 1GB of RAM, putting Premiere Pro in a far better light than with the recommended settings.

So what can Premiere do now? The biggest change is with stability and speed, as well as a more intuitive interface. PC-based video editing can be an arduous experience–rendering enormous amounts of data can bring out the flaws of the PC architecture. But Premiere Pro is as stable as commonly used office applications, though I did run into some driver card compatibility issues on some systems.

Overall, once I installed the 325MB application, I found that Premiere Pro mostly retained the older Premiere interface. But I also found vast improvements on the video editing timeline–the place where you place your video and audio clips to create video segments or movies. Fixing bad video was also easier, with a bevy of color correction tools and effects. Also interesting was Premiere Pro’s ability to “animate” Photoshop files by making use of Photoshop’s layering capabilities.

Premiere Pro is a better tool than it was before. Unfortunately, for most people who want an all-in-one tool for capturing, editing, publishing video to the Web and to CDs and DVDs, Premiere Pro does not have an integrated CD/DVD publishing system. Instead, users can burn their videos onto DVDs, but if they want to add menus, titles, or chapters, they’ll have to use Adobe Encore, a $549 product, or any of the very nice and much less expensive applications such as the $69.99 Nero 6 Ultra.

Still, I’m hard pressed to find a tool such as Premiere Pro that is powerful enough for corporate use and light TV production work and easy enough for the home user. As such, it’s a step beyond the current batch of video editors out there.

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