Get set and go
Premiere's installation process is quick and painless; just pop in the CD-ROM and watch the program load everything you need. You can either do a simple installation (for the whole kit and caboodle) or do a custom installation and select whether to install the tutorial files, sample movies, or QuickTime. Premiere's Total Training CD-ROM steps you through the setup process; for example, it helps you pick a program template that defines how the program treats your video. Total Training might just save you hours of mistakes. If you pick the wrong program template (say the DV wide-screen setting instead of the DV 48KHz setting), your video won't work properly. In this example, your footage would come into the program stretched into a wide-screen format. Need additional help? Adobe's tech support is available via the Web or by phone Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST, or you can contact Adobe anytime on the Web. During peak times, you'll have to wait a bit before you can talk to a human being.
If you've used Premiere, you'll notice a few interface enhancements right off the bat. Version 6.0 not only lets you move, reshape, and resize its windows, it now saves your customized interface as a preset, so you can call it up from the Windows pull-down menu every time you load the program.
It's easy to capture DV footage in Premiere 6.0; just choose a DV input template from the dialog box (which defines the video file's size and format), plug the camcorder into your PC's 1394 FireWire port, and you're off and running. Once you've captured the video, store and organize your footage in folders in the Project window. This will come in extremely handy if you have to deal with, say, 100 different files. To add a video clip to your project, simply drag it from the Bin into the Monitor window or onto a track on the timeline. Ready to edit your footage? All the tools you need to move or replace clips reside in the upper part of the Premiere timeline.
When it comes to fancy effects, Premiere really goes that extra mile. It ships with a variety of effects and transitions (such as blur, wipe, and dissolve), and its new keyframes feature--a visual marker that records and displays the state of a particular effect (say, amount of blur)--gives you even greater control over the appearance and duration of said effects. Put two keyframes on your timeline several frames apart--the second with more blur, perhaps, than the first--and Premiere interpolates between those two values and shows you how much blur appears on each frame over the course of the effect. Most midrange editors include keyframes, but only Premiere shows you how effects change your video frame by frame.
Even with Premiere's neat keyframes tool, Mac users may find that Final Cut Pro 2.0 has a few more precision editing features, including three-point editing. With this complex editing operation, you can fill in a section of your program without having to set in and out times on your main footage--a great time-saver when you're working with a lot of footage.
Snazzy Web integration
Premiere 6.0 lets you export movies to a variety of Web video formats, including RealVideo and Windows Media Player. (Previous versions converted only to QuickTime or AVI movies.) And you can imbed simple commands into movie frames in order, for instance, to open a Web browser to a specific URL or to open a new movie from a Web site or a CD-ROM. This is useful, for example, for a training movie that launches a corporate Web site. However, while we appreciate Adobe's new Web command features, they can't compare to CineStream's Event Stream technology.
Premiere does have an Achilles' heel: the preview feature. It lets you see what portions of your video look like before you save the finished product so that you can fine-tune the look of different video and audio elements. While Premiere plays back simple DV clips quickly, if you have multiple layers or any transitions between clips, you must render a preview before you can view it. To save time, you can adjust the resolution of these previews. But although a simple transition (such as a 45-frame dissolve) may take just under a minute to render at a low resolution, a more complex clip (say, with four tracks and 370 frames) takes about 30 minutes. The other editors we looked at clocked similarly sluggish times, so we can't criticize Premiere too harshly for this.
Top of the line
Preview quibbles aside, however, Premiere is your best option for midrange editing on the PC. Whether you have intermediate or professional skills, you can depend on Premiere's customizable interface, thorough tutorials, and precise editing controls. Mac-based media professionals, however, should turn to Final Cut Pro 2.0 first.