The Moving Picture: My Adobe Production Premium Wishlist
Posted Feb 1, 2008

Dear Santa: Maybe you won’t get this letter until February, but it’s mid-December here in Galax, and I’ve been a good boy all year long. Here’s my list of the presents I want. Not to be selfish, but I want them all to be enhancements to Adobe Production Premium. Not that I’m criticizing the suite, of course. It’s just that because I spend so much time using it, even some minor changes would save me oodles of time. In fact, I just counted how many unique Premiere Pro projects I have on my computer, and found over 480 that were last opened in the last six months. Divide by six for the auto-save programs and that’s still about 80 unique projects. Don’t get me wrong—I do lots of work in Final Cut Studio, too (113 FCP projects over two Macs), and there’s one or two items I’d like changed there as well. I just don’t want to be greedy—maybe I’ll ask for those changes next year.

Anyway, back to Adobe Production Premium. First on my list (as it has been for the last two revisions, which is why I’m writing you instead of the product manager) is that you extend Dynamic Link to include Premiere Pro Sequences into Adobe Encore. Adobe After Effects to Encore is nice, but most After Effects projects are short and sweet, at least for me. Saving 20 minutes of rendering time is nice, but scaling 90 minutes of HDV to SD MPEG-2 can take hours, and I can’t start linking and testing my DVD until that’s done. So let me import Premiere Pro sequences into Encore. How hard can it be, since I can already import Premiere Pro sequences into After Effects.

While we’re talking rendering, let’s talk about efficiency. Last year you granted my wish for a dual-processor, quad-core computer—you remember, the HP xw8400 workstation. You made my day when that beast got delivered, until I learned that Premiere Pro actually renders slower on an eight-core, 2.6 GHz system than a four-core 3.0 GHz system. Probably not Adobe’s fault, since it licenses most rendering-related code from MainConcept.

Still, here’s an idea. As long as those wasted cycles are just laying around, how about letting me render in the background. As you know, one of Premiere Pro’s most convenient features is the ability to create multiple sequences so you can compartmentalize your work. This is particularly helpful for multi-scene projects, like weddings, concerts or ballets, where you build the project one set or scene at a time. Why not let me render each sequence once I complete it?

If Premiere Pro were designed for eight-core optimization, I could render in the background on an eight-core system and not even notice while I was editing. Or, let me decide how I want to allocate processor cores between rendering and editing to achieve the desired balance. Enough about rendering; let’s talk multicam. I adore Adobe’s implementation, especially how easy it is to sync the videos, which can be a terror in other programs. I’m almost embarrassed to say it, but Adobe could save me anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour per project by just letting me automatically insert the default transition (usually about a 5-15 frame dissolve) at all scene changes. I know I can use the Page down key to move from cut to cut, then Ctrl-D to insert the default transition, but that still takes a few minutes a scene. Just let me select the scenes, then insert the default transition into all transitions within those scenes.

I’d also love the ability to change the type and particularly the duration for multiple selected transitions in the sequence. This would allow me to experiment with different durations until I found the one that worked the best with my footage. Sometimes I don’t even want the viewer to notice the transition, and sometimes I want a slow dissolve to help set the mood. What I don’t want is to have to change the duration manually for each transition in the sequence should I change my mind.

This is also important when repurposing video from DVD to streaming. At DVD rates, a one-second cross-dissolve looks dreamy; at 300Kbps, it’s artifact city. While on the subject, how ’bout Adobe upgrades the quality of its deinterlacing algorithms, which now are merely adequate? With the pervasiveness of streaming production, deinterlacing quality is critical. If the Adobe elves protest, remind them that they can share the improvement among at least seven products (Mac and Windows version of Premiere Pro, After Effects and the Flash Encoder, plus Premiere Elements).

Here’s a simple one: Let’s make all encoding presets in Premiere Pro match those in Encore. In addition, when I export a sequence from Premiere Pro to Encore, let’s make the Encore project match the encoding preset.

Those are the biggies; now for the stocking-stuffers. I’d love an image stabilization routine back in the product; every once in awhile, I just gotta go handheld. Ultra is the best chromakey filter I’ve ever seen, but please make it accessible as a filter in Premiere Pro. Finally, how about AVCHD support? I love my Panasonic AG-HSC1U, but can’t capture directly in Premiere Pro, so I typically edit these projects in Final Cut Pro. Now that AVCHD is looking like the next big thing, support seems like a no-brainer.

Jan Ozer (janozer at doceo.com) is a contributing editor to EventDV and Streaming Media.