Making the switch to Premiere Pro CS6

Making the switch to Premiere Pro CS6

| May 25, 2012

Yep. The headline says it. I’m making the switch to Premiere Pro CS6.

We generate a ton of content at fxguide and fxphd and all of that involves editing in one form or another. Like many others who use OS X as their platform of choice, we’ve been disappointed in the “efforts” coming from Apple to develop a robust and solid editor we can rely on. So starting on May 1st, I began using Premiere Pro CS6 full time in order to determine if we, as a company, want to make the switch over. I plan to write about the experience over the next several months, highlighting the ups and downs of the transition. As the guinea pig for the fx family, I’m looking forward to the experience.

As a bit of background, it’s worth going over the material we generate, as this basically defines whether or not the production problem would be solved by Premiere Pro. Our needs generally break down into two basic categories: screen recordings from fxphd profs and magazine-style edits such as Background Fundamentals or fxguidetv. We also do audio podcasts and the team uses either Final Cut Pro or Soundtrack.

Screen recording edits

For fxphd, the screen recordings can be in any number of sizes, but generally are in the 16:9 or 16:10 aspect ratio. The profs edit the class material together and upload a 100% quality H.264 master QuickTime movie with high quality AAC audio. Final prep of the material is done in our Chicago office, where we run them through our pipeline for final distribution. This process generally includes:

  • Audio cleanup – noise reduction and compression to even out levels.
  • Adding animations at the start and end, as well as an fxphd watermark
  • Minor audio/video edits
  • Compression to final distribution size and specs


Magazine-style edits

The other type of edit we do is more of a television show type edit. It includes some on-camera segments, maybe an interview which was filmed with two cameras, some screen recordings, and maybe some other type of material (such as trailers or other footage). This material can come from numerous sources in a variety of formats. A “typical” edit might include footage from:

  • EPIC/SCARLET R3D files
  • 5D Mark III .MOV files
  • Screen captures
  • Footage from feature film trailers (QuickTime .mp4 files)
  • Material provided from post houses (Full res JPEGS, ProRes QuickTime files, etc)


How we hope Premiere Pro fits in

One of the problems with using Final Cut Pro is that sequence playback is optimized for 16:9 formats such as mastering at 1920×1080 or 1280×720. There are workarounds for this (such as changing the sequence size at final export), but they’re workarounds.  In my early experiences, PPro seems to handle this much better.

Mixing various file types (such as ProRes, R3D and H.264) can also lead to playback performance issues. For this reason, before beginning an edit we generally go through an intermediates process where we convert all our material to ProRes LT, keeping the original source resolution. This also helps reduce the CPU strain of transcoding the H.264 files on the fly. PPro is much better at handling multiple formats within the same timeline — at least that is my impression after using it for just under three weeks.

The biggest reason we’re looking at migrating is the fact that Adobe seems truly committed to making PPro a reliable, professional product. The software is actively being developed and the team has been focused on adding features targeted towards users making a living on the product. In fairness, Final Cut X is being actively developed as well, but I personally feel the commitment is much stronger at Adobe. I also like the openness of Adobe — the product doesn’t seem to be developed in a vacuum and the team is active in the user community. The walled off Apple, while very effective for many of their products, isn’t reassuring to the pro user.

One wildcard in this equation is the upcoming release of Smoke 2013. I’m excited about the prospect for sure, but at this point, it’s not a shipping product. It may be great for “finishing” type things — but creative cutting in it could be lacking. Maybe it is still hard to configure and use. These can’t be answered at this point in time, so we felt it best that I go out and dive into Premiere Pro. Even in relationship to Smoke, my push to learn PPro will be useful  from a research standpoint so we can more accurately judge what we do moving forward.

Anyway…it’s gonna be a fun summer. Hope you enjoy the ride with me.

14 Responses to “Making the switch to Premiere Pro CS6”

  1. Anonymous

    Love your open and sharing approach to this, John! Good luck with it – and hope your summer involves more than just editing:)

  2. Anonymous

    I hope you’ll like Premiere as much as I do. It’s a really robust piece of software with tremendous amount of flexibility in how you approach the editing process.

  3. Anonymous

    Thanks for posting John. Great to hear your insights and reasons for using Premiere Pro.

  4. Anonymous

    Good that you are testing this. Of you have a supported GPU, I’m see you’ll like it! Feel free to ping me if you need help/recomrndations for specific workflows.

  5. Anonymous

    eWao and here i was under the impression that you had already switch from fcp for a while now, the main issue with fcp x for me was the suite became so e sort of frankenstein software trying to do everything in one program, also the bad move from apple to not try to encourage a better partnership with nvidia was also a huge mistake. I use pc for a number of reason but this days more than ever we configure our editing suites with pc workstations since the price point of a roboust machine compared to a mac workstation is just insane so we can upgrade machine more often or even replace them earlier gibing us a fair chance to push forward with the new technologies. Premiere makes a 80% of the workflow for us and we just pull the rushes from the cards and after a backup of data we start uising them o premiere right away. Is amazing also the dynamic linking with all the production auite making it way easier to go back and foward between applications. Good luck on your new process and keep posting your ecperiences.

  6. Anonymous

    Hey John,

    I am really interested in your impressions of PPro. I have been using it for years. I see a huge improvement from the 5.0 series and 6 looks more of the same.

    I agree with you that the dynamic link is still not as seemless as we would like it to be but I know that they are working on it. I am sure this is why there is so much attention being paid to Mercury.

    Would like to see you guys try to do a multicamera edit with it. I saw a video of how to do it all with RED footage. Wonder if it runs as smoothly as advertised.

    Keep up the great work. Enjoy the Memorial Day weekend.

  7. Anonymous

    I too have made the switch for productions using RED footage, or combos. Everything I need is potentially there. I still use old fcp 7 for Alexa footage and a couple of other situations. This is probably because I’m still in CS5.5 osx 10.6.
    Once I upgrade. hopefully these issues will be fixed:

    – moving clips on the timeline feels delayed/laggy and ‘sticky’…(if I;m not carefull letting go…the clip will follow my cursor)..I’ve heard this is fixed with Lion…but I’m not sure.

    -Binnig is not as easy in premiere ( I like to cut a bunch of clips on the time line and drag them to a folder in the project window all at once in fcp….but they seem to need to go 1-at-a-time in PPro 5.5.)

    – in FCP I can hold down shift and move a clip and it won’t move in time just to separate layers…can’t find that in Ppro.

    I’m looking forward to your take on these and any other issues/fixes you come across.

  8. Anonymous

    Hey John. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I’m negotiating the same transition. Are you looking to stay faithful to OSX too, or considering the switch to Windows for Premiere Pro?

  9. Anonymous

    Michael Rosen, I have seen several cases on the Adobe forums, where folks upgraded to CS6 AND updated to Lion 10.7.3 and have reported the laggy issue when dragging clips around the timeline was resolved.

  10. Anonymous

    Like Craig, I’m also wondering if this is a strategy for dealing with Apple’s seeming move to the iPad as it’s main platform (see the ‘Will there be a MacPro this year’ bet). Lion destroyed the dual-monitor capabilities of Spaces supposedly for that very reason, they’re focusing on the tablets and mobile devices (i.e., one-screen).

    If the MacPro is going away – what’s replacing it? Might support accusations of Apple abandoning any pretense of supporting a professional market.

  11. Anonymous

    Mostly moved to PrPro and running Lion but may slide one to PC if Apple does not reveal a Pro roadmap soon. Love the openness of the Adobe development team and access to them as well as the expected product evangelists. Just had these folks for the 2nd time in Atlanta mingling with users and answering all questions forthrightly. Smoke presents to our “Atlanta Cutters” group for a second time in June. Lots to ponder! Looking forward to reading your journey. I am also loving being able to mix 5D, Epic, P2 , GoPro footage on a timeline when editing projects for Bridgestone Golf and saves so much time and with some upgrades to my CPU expect to save even more time. Cheers!

  12. Anonymous

    Thanks a lot for sharing John. We use PrPro since CS4 on MacPros. I would be very interested in follow up posts where you share your experiences. Especially, what difficulties you find and what your approaches are to tackle them. As the above posts show here is great knowledge already, so us sharing that would be great.

    Kind regards,

  13. Anonymous

    Ironically, at the same time as John, I was in a similar situation. I was toying up the idea of going to PPro because of FCP X lack of important features. Look, I am a Apple Fan boy thru and thru and believe they make good products and devices. The more I use PPro I see it becoming more part of my workflow instead of FCP X. As a Motion Graphics artist and Compositor I use AE and C4D and Maya. Apple REALLY alienated themselves when they became ignorant when it comes to XML for AE to FCP (and back, especially for setting up the shots working with live footage and doing post). If you are JUST a Video Editor that does no visual effects for your projects then FCP X will work fine, you may even love it! But Adobe’s Suite is more robust and thinks of the Pro User and what they need to complete a task. The ability to shuffle your video comps around in a sequence and then sink into these shots using AE then bring it all back to PPro is so important for the most of professionals.. FCP X has made this nearly impossible*. *There are solutions but these are time consuming and when on a time schedule and d-day is nearing it would be stupid to start looking at tedious work-arounds.

  14. Anonymous

    I’ve been using Premier since the late 90’s and have struggled to understand why it never seemed to be able to compete with Avid on the market. When Final Cut was first released it was very much similar to Premier but with huge rendering times and considerably buggy.

    At that time Premier was the leader in recognizing and working with multiple file formats but still not being picked up by big post-houses. Premier could do everything FCP could do and more. I’m on CS5 now and use After Effects quite a lot. The integration between PPro and AE feels like smoke/flint.

    I’ve done the exact same type work on a windows machine with the Adobe Production bundles in a fraction of what it takes for my smoke/flint colleagues do…and at a fraction of the price. This leaves me so much more time for design and tweaking.

    Here are some key benefits that will improve your workload in terms of speed.

    -Render out with Media Encoder, that way you can continue editing while you’re rendering.
    You’re basically sending your sequence into a render queue.

    -The Ppro render engine (Mercury Engine) will render out comp clips from your timeline. This saves having to render out from AE and import into Pro. Just hit save and it will update automatically in the timeline.

    -Media will import into Premier and at the same time let you edit. Maybe I’m wrong here but Avid doesn’t let you get to work while it’s importing media.

    -Red footage at 4k, no problem. 5k You’ll beed to upgrade to CS 5.5.

    -Audio clips from the Ppro timeline can also be sent to Soundbooth for audio edting. Just like with video clips all you have to do is flip back to Premier and the revised audio is there ready to be played. No export/import required.

    -Edit timelines can be imported (with notes) into AE and vice versa.

    In a nutshell I think Premier it’s an incredibly underrated project.


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