Tor Rolf Johansen
Issue: April 1, 2010


PRODUCT: Adobe Premiere Pro CS5


PRICE: Production Premium CS5: $1,699; upgrade options start at $599. Premiere Pro CS5: $799; upgrade options start at $299.

- 64-bit GPU-accelerated Mercury Playback Engine
- Native support for Red R3D and DSLR formats
- Ultra keyer now included
-  Interoperability with Avid and Final Cut Pro

*GPU acceleration with Nvidia graphics cards:
- Quadro CX (Windows)
- Quadro FX 3800 (Windows)
- Quadro FX 4800  (Windows and Mac)
- Quadro FX 5800 (Windows)
- GeForce GTX 285 (Windows and Mac)

Adobe truly delivers solutions from “plan to playback.” Earlier this year, I had an opportunity to visit with the product managers, software engineers and evangelists up in San Jose, and that clearly was and is their mantra. In a single page review, I’ve opted to focus my attention on this new version of Premiere Pro CS5, which I was excited to learn has now been natively optimized for 64-bit operating systems (which, by the way, is now a requirement to host).
Powered by the new Mercury Playback Engine, Premiere Pro CS5 helps you chug through some of your most congested HD timelines, from the concept to capture and from cut to distribution. The Mercury Playback Engine pushes the envelope, even when editing 4K. No matter what your media, Premiere Pro CS5 supports native tapeless workflows and makes it possible to grab your assets faster and with more flexibility, including Red R3D, XDCAM HD 50, AVCCAM and AVC-Intra, as well as DSLR camera video formats, like my Canon 7D, in 1080p.


The Mercury playback engine provides native 64-bit, GPU-accelerated support for Mac and Windows, with jaw dropping improvements in speed and stability. I was able to open projects faster and scrub through HD and higher resolution projects without a hiccup. The need for rendering has been drastically sliced and diced with this release. You can see results instantly when performing multiple color corrections and tasks such as keying — OMG, keying! 
Did I mention that this version is now shipping with ultra? The ultra cool chroma keyer that makes all of us appear to be pro-level greenscreen extractors! Even with the most challenging DV and HD footage — footage shot under less-than-professional conditions that smell of uneven lighting, wrinkled backgrounds or Home Depot green paint. Ultra saved me oodles of time and could even pull complex keys on smoke, hair and transparent objects. The GPU-accelerated Mercury playback engine pretty much assures realtime keying for the rest of us who don’t happen to work in a five-million-dollar post suite near Hollywood and Vine.


Rendering my timeline for final output was much faster than before. The Mercury playback engine works hand-in-hand with Nvidia CUDA technology in a few choice Nvidia cards (*GPUs) to solve many complex computational problems in a fraction of the time a CPU would take to perform the same task. See Mr. Cranky Calculus teacher, I always told you I wouldn’t have to do math in my real life! There’s way better multitasking, too. Adobe came up with a super efficient way for your own GPU to accelerate effects, rendering and other processor-intensive tasks to free up your CPU(s). And with true 64-bit system architecture in the hizzy you can stuff your workstation full of RAM, up to 128GB worth — and actually make use of it all! This means big timesaving and major multitasking. I can keep cutting away, while simultaneously rendering out a 463-gazillion-layer After Effects composition in the background.
Talk about mixing and matching! Now in CS5, Adobe Premiere Pro lets you combine a wide range of sources with different resolutions, frame rates and aspect ratios. All in a single sequence without head scratching format conversions. It’s like choosing your toppings at Pinkberry: a little Red R3D clip here, some anamorphic DV there, a sprinkle of Canon H.264 HD, and swirl in some DVCPRO HD to top it all off. Because of this new Mercury thingamajig and broad native format support, you’ll find as I did: no matter what the flavor, you’re gonna be cutting in realtime, baby! The only time that rendering occurs is when you output your sequence to Adobe Media Encoder for output.


Talk about a friendly AP. Moving media and sequences between editors made by different companies in complex production pipelines can involve format conversion, specialized plug-ins, tedious workarounds, or a lot of manual work to recreate elements that don’t hold up after the transfer process. Interoperability is now seamless between Premiere and both Final Cut and Avid.


You can also produce video optimized for distribution practically anywhere. Adobe Media Encoder, which is also a native 64-bit app included in the suite — lets you output your video project in all of the major video formats using a simple batch list. Batch encoding takes place in the background, so you can keep working (or not). I found the new interface gives you even more visual feedback to help you work more efficiently, while the added ability to start the encoding process immediately from within Premiere Pro without going to the Adobe Media Encoder batch list saves a bundle of time. When batch encoding, you can use any combination of sequences and clips as sources, and encode to anything from FLV, F4V, Windows Media, QuickTime, and other trendy codecs such as MPEG-2, MPEG-4 and H.264.

Tor Rolf Johansen is an LA-based Director/Producer. He can be reached at: