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6/96 Reviews SW: Adobe Premiere 4.2

Complete listing of June 1996 reviews

Reel Action for Video Virtuosos

By William Gee

These days, entry-level desktop digital video systems pack a tremendous amount of horsepower for a very reasonable price. Couple that with Adobe's introduction of a 32-bit version of its Premiere video editing tool, and there's never been a better time to get started in digital video.

Optimized for Win95 and Intel-based Windows NT 3.51 systems, Premiere 4.2 is a powerful video editing program that permits input and output of a broad range of video, audio and graphics files. Besides what you'd expect from a 32-bit Win95 program-including right-mouse property inspection and long filename support-this release offers welcome new features.

The program can produce digital movies with a film resolution of 4096x4096, or build thumbnail 32x32 flicks light on storage space. Premiere now supports background compiling and unattended batch processing, which frees you to work on other projects while movies are being processed.

This software demands a great deal of equipment. Before jumping into digital desktop video, keep a few things in mind. Carefully watch your free disk space, since uncompressed video can consume all your resources very quickly, especially if you insist on large video windows, or playback approaching the movie-standard 30 frames per second.

For optimal performance, Adobe recommends a Pentium-based system with at least 16MB of RAM, a CD-ROM drive, 500MB or more of free disk space and a 24-bit color graphics board. The Premiere Deluxe CD-ROM includes Photoshop 3.0.5 LE, Adobe Type Manager 3.0.2, Premiere 4.0a for Windows 3.1, Indeo Interactive and QuickTime 2.1.

I tested my Premiere beta on a 166MHz Pentium PC loaded with 16MB of RAM and a miroVideo DC20 video capture and playback card. For video imaging, I used a JVC VHS-C camcorder, a compact, easy-to-use input device.

Premiere's full installation takes about 12MB of disk space. However, even with the latest compression techniques you may find yourself using far more disk space than anticipated. Hard disk performance may become a crucial factor as well. For my test project, a WINDOWS Magazine CD training video on how to install a new hard drive, I pulled in materials from a variety of sources. I attached the camcorder directly to the miroVideo card, which allowed me to quickly convert previously shot videotape footage to the hard drive for editing and, conveniently, keep my clips together. Without a fast hard disk, ample processor power and plenty of free disk space, you may lose a few frames in this sort of conversion. But gathering your content before creating a project is a good idea.

I handled narration simply, attaching a microphone directly to my PC's sound card. To add some atmosphere, I chose some classical music for earlier test videos, obtaining them via the CD-ROM drive in my PC. Premiere can accept many data types, including Video for Windows, QuickTime, .WAV and AIFF audio files, Photoshop, Adobe Filmstrip, Autodesk Animator (.FLC, .FLI) and numbered TIFF, Targa and .BMP files.

Building even a simple video requires you to juggle multiple combinations of file types and sources, shape content with different combinations of special effects and filters, then add graphics and titles. Fortunately, Premiere's excellent tools and documentation mean you won't need a summer internship at Paramount or Columbia to keep things on track. You can easily import required clips, then arrange them by dragging objects onto associated audio, video, superimpose and transition tracks in Premiere's Construction window.

Edits within Premiere are nondestructive, so your tweaking and fine-tuning experiments won't affect the original clips. Premiere offers features you'd expect in a high-end professional package, such as support for CD-quality audio, SMPTE timecode and Edit Decision Lists (EDLs). You can adjust output parameters such as data rate, compression type and pixel resolution to exactly fit the delivery medium you've chosen. The extensive feature set means you won't have to switch tools as your hardware arsenal expands. And, if the medium happens to be the Internet, Premiere also provides VDOLive Personal Server and VDOLive codec.

The final result? You can see it on WinMag's Summer edition CD All in all, I was happy with the finished Premiere movie, and especially impressed at the speed with which everything came together. Whether you're creating a simple slide-show presentation, developing a multimedia title or editing a documentary, Premiere delivers a feature-rich environment for both hobbyist and video professional.

Info File
Adobe Premiere 4.2
Pros: Tools; price
Cons: Resource-intensive
Platforms: Windows 95, NT
Adobe Systems
800-642-3623, 415-961-4400
WinMag Box Score: 4.5
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