Adobe Premiere Pro CS5

PCMAG by Matthew Murray

Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 ($799 list new, $299–$699 list upgrade) may not look much different from previous versions, but don't let appearances fool you. As with all the Creative Suite 5 applications, much has been changed, tweaked, and optimized under the hood to make Adobe's professional-targeted film- and video-editing application (along with its companion programs, OnLocation and Encore) more useful than ever. Most home users simply won't need all it has to offer, and would save a lot of learning time (not to mention hundreds of dollar) by sticking with Adobe's own Premiere Elements ($99 direct) or other, friendlier suites from the likes of Nero ($99.99 direct, ), Pinnacle ($99.99 direct, ), and Cyberlink ($129.95 direct, ). But if you're a pro moviemaker (or just a wannabe), Premiere is now smarter and speedier than ever.

Enhanced Performance
The improved performance comes courtesy of Adobe's Mercury Playback Engine, which was devised for CS5 from the ground up to take advantage of 64-bit processors. Because most of the tasks in Premiere can take a long time (especially if you're adding lots of effects or rendering a long movie) this alone can be a tremendous time-saver. The revamp also means that you can do real-time HD chroma keying with the included Ultra keyer, which is optimized to tackle real-world green screen conditions, and capable of complex keys on smoke, liquids, and transparent objects.

If you're using a computer with a 32-bit CPU or operating system, however, your system will be unable to run Premiere Pro CS5. Adobe claims to have conducted research and discovered that very few existing customers would be affected. Given the prevalence of 64-bit systems in recent years, that's quite believable. If you're one of that underpowered minority looking to dive into Premiere Pro CS5, you'll need to factor a new system (or at least a thorough upgrade of certain components) into the purchase price. Alternately, if you're using a 32-bit version of Windows and purchased a copy of CS5 Master Collection of CS5 Production Premium, Adobe includes a copy of Premiere Pro CS4, which is compatible with 32-bit systems.

Like its CS4 predecessor, Premiere Pro CS5 supports hardware acceleration (which can energize effects processing even more), but there's an even touchier caveat here. Whereas CS4 supported a range of video chipsets from both Nvidia and ATI, the new Mercury Playback Engine was programmed to work exclusively with Nvidia's CUDA technology. As this writing, the full list of supported video cards includes the GeForce GTX 285 ($400 street, ) consumer-level card, and the Quadro FX 3800, FX 4800, FX 5800, and CX workstation cards. (Adobe tells us that testing is underway on Nvidia's latest consumer releases, the GeForce GTX 470 and 480, but has offered no information yet about their compatibility.) Owners of even the most powerful new AMD cards, whether the consumer dual-GPU Radeon HD 5970 or the workstation FirePro models, are entirely out of luck. read more...

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