As you can plainly see, TheStreet.com produces a lot of video. Up until now, we've been proud users of Apple's (AAPL) - Get Report Final Cut Pro video editing software. Nearly every video you watch on our Web site is produced and edited on Final Cut.
But we've found that the Apple software also has a few unusual quirks. One of the biggest is that Final Cut penalizes hard workers. Apple sets limits on how much any one user can edit and store on the video server. So that means our hardest working editors -- and the ones with the most longevity -- will be shut out of Final Cut even though others in our shop can still use the software and storage areas.
One solution to this is to give Apple lots more money to allow all of our editors to work -- or to try another solution. When we're out on the road covering big events, like the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month, we road-tested the latest, greatest version of the PC-based competition:
Premiere Pro CS4.
Adobe Premiere CS4 Makes Amazing Videos
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As you might imagine, Creative Suite 4 is an entire editing solution with many moving parts. Adobe packages these parts in a number of different "collections" from the $1,000 Web Standard edition to the $2,500 Master Collection, which we got to try.
Our software came loaded with all the goodies, including the new versions of Premiere Pro ($799 if purchased separately), Photoshop CS4 Extended (for 3-D object painting, $999 separately), InDesign (professional layouts for print and digital publishing, $699), Illustrator (for vector graphics, $599), Acrobat 9 Pro (create PDF files, $449), Flash Professional (object-based animation, $699), Dreamweaver (Web-site building tools, $399), Fireworks (create/optimize Web images, $299), Contribute (Web-content management, $199), After Effects (moving graphics and visual effects, $999), Soundbooth (an audio management tool, $199), OnLocation (direct-to-disk recording) and Encore (DVD/Blu-ray disc authoring). Add up all those prices (a whopping $6,339) and you realize the $2,500 Master Collection is something of a huge bargain for professionals. You can also upgrade each of these software titles separately.
While all of these programs are useful to us here, we were mainly interested in the suite's video editing tools. We had watched other videographers using Premiere on their laptops while covering other industry shows. We were very impressed with Premiere speed and portability. The new CS4 version only piqued our interest even more.
I won't bore you with all of CS4's new features, including Speech Search (turns spoken dialogue into text-based, time-code accurate, searchable data) and batch encoding in the background, but I will tell you that Premiere works with the suite's other working parts to make one heck of an editing solution.
master video editor Daniel Byrne was our man on the front line when it came to road-testing CS4 in Las Vegas. He installed the Master Collection on a brand new M70Vn-C2 laptop. It's a super-heavy duty portable (I wouldn't want it sitting on my lap for very long) with a 2.53GHz Intel Core2 Duo processor, 4GB of RAM and dual 500GB hard drives. It runs on
Windows Vista Ultimate. This is one amazing machine.
The Asus hardware and the Adobe software were a perfect match. Don't take my word for it. Here's what Dan had to say:
Adobe Premiere CS4 is quite brilliant. I first put it to a crash test at this year's CES in Las Vegas. I am a Final Cut editor by nature and was a bit nervous about road-testing new software. Premiere really came through for me. I was able to learn everything on the fly in about an hour. Adobe has really combined the best parts and elements of all of the current popular editing software titles Avid (AVID) - Get Report, Premiere and Final Cut) and put together something that can be used by novices and professionals with outstanding results. Adobe has also included the stand-alone Media Encoder, which has a wide choice of file outputs for compression of video. For TheStreet.com's videos, we use a Flash 8 encoder. I was surprised at the speed of the compression and the overall quality. I would say it leaves Apple's compressor in the dust. Overall, I still love my Final Cut, but when left to edit on a PC, I see no reason why this shouldn't be every editor's first choice. The other contender, Avid, is way too involved and requires a foolish amount of steps to get anything done.
You may not need the myriad fabulous editing tools in the Master Collection, but it's nice to know they're there. One of Adobe's other CS4 collections might be right up your alley. Maybe an upgrade or two would work for you, too.
CS4 is made for professionals but is not so complicated that a hobbyist can't excel at using it in an hour or so. Plus, the more you use it the more features you'll discover --and the more you'll get out of it.
We here at
are very pleased with what it can do and does for us. We plan to continue using it for our "on location" editing jobs. Very highly recommended.
Gary Krakow is TheStreet.com's senior technology correspondent.