Adobe Premiere Pro CS 5.5 is here – worth the upgrade?

When I need to wait for anything - waiting for clips to render, importing raw footage into a project, chilling a Chardonnay - it drives me up the proverbial Facebook wall.

Adobe Premiere Pro

Adobe Premiere ProA new version of Adobe Premiere Pro is here. It’s version 5.5, and is available separately or in the Creative Suite bundle (there are other bundle options available as well). We use it for all our video production here on Stark Insider.

The first thing I look for in the release notes is something like “performance improvements” and “bug fixes.”

I have a love/hate thing going with Premiere. When it works, it’s great. The interface, daunting at first, is now like old hat. But then there’s that little bugger: stability. Many an hour is lost in our “studios” as we wait for the computers to reboot after crashes. Or sometimes just wait, wait, wait while the hard drive chugs along doing who knows what. Not all our time in the studio is necessarily well spent unfortunately. Luckily, with CS5 things improved dramatically. Crashes occurred less often, and typically only when we loaded large projects (20GB+ of content). Even then for the most part CS5 has been robust.

What I like about these dot upgrades is that it typically means the development team spent less time on new features and more time on fixes and small improvements (and, in this case, new pricing models). I’m all for new features of course, but these days stability and up-time are critical for keeping our business moving forward.

I should note that as you may have read, Adobe is now offering a subscription option. I say genius. Those that can’t stomach forking out thousands of dollars for the full package now have a much more palatable monthly fee. $39 per month (with 1 year commitment) will get you the entire Premiere Pro (the entire Master Collection goes for $129 per month). Not a bad deal. The move by Adobe — if just a tad late — is in line with the current trend of cloud computing and leased software (see Amazon Web Services for an extraordinarily successful example, albeit pay-as-you-go).

So what’s new in Premiere Pro 5.5?

There are 12 top new features highlighted in the notes, enough to raise our curiosity, but not enough to catapult it (along with the rest) to a major 6.0 release. Cynics may rightfully suggest it’s the annual upgrade gouge. Me? I prefer to welcome all of it, one juicy bit of improvement at a time:

  • A new merged feature makes working with sync’d audio (“dual system sound”) easier – and this is something we do on a regular basis now on Stark Insider. We sync separate audio captured usually from one of the Handy Zoom H1 recorders. Hopefully this new feature will make it easier to manage them.
  • Mercury Playback Engine performance improvements – ah ha… here’s the “performance improvements.” The Mercury engine was released with CS5 and it was a quantum jump – playing HD clips in preview monitors and on the timeline was dramatically improved over the previous release. While I don’t expect massive changes here, incrementalism is fine by me.
  • Audio effects are unified now. Thank you! Now, according to the release notes, you don’t have to choose mono, stereo of 5.1 when selecting audio effects. It’s all been unified and the software does the thinking for us. Hands up!
  • There’s a new “film dissolve effect.” It’s unclear what it is exactly, but I like the sounds of it. My general rule in editing is to only always use cuts (never fancy junk or 3D gimmickry in the edits) and — sparingly — the standard dissolve.

Is it worth the upgrade?

For me, it’s almost always a yes, and once again it’s the case here with Premiere Pro 5.5 – if only because, like I mentioned, I’m always in search of improved stability. Time is money. And when I need to wait for anything – waiting for clips to render, importing raw footage into a project, chilling a Chardonnay – it drives me up the proverbial Facebook wall.

 

Adobe Premiere Pro CS 5.5 What’s New and Changed

top new features in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5, with links to more information

  • merged clips for synchronizing audio and video tracks in dual-system sound workflow, in which audio is recorded separate from video (common for HDSLR work)
  • Mercury Playback Engine performance improvements, including additional effects and tasks processed with CUDA and an expansion of the set of graphics cards that provide the CUDA-processing features
  • added ability to edit audio with Adobe Audition CS5.5, interchanging a single clip or an entire sequence
  • audio effects unified, such that you no longer need to apply a different effect depending on whether the audio track is mono, stereo, or 5.1 audio
  • improved speech analysis with scripts from Adobe Story
  • ability to attach a closed captioning data file to a sequence and preview the closed captions in the Program panel
  • new overlay that enables dragging of clips from the Media Browser, Project panel, or Source panel into the Program panel to perform an insert or overwrite edit
  • improved keyboard shortcut customization, including addition of a search field to the Keyboard Customization dialog box
  • improved RED (R3D) features, including new color science support (REDcolor2, REDgamma2, REDlogFilm, etc.) and better curves and levels UI
  • enhanced native Canon XF support, including preview in the Media Browser and use of metadata
  • several user interface improvements that add up to a much more efficient user experience, including the following:
    • The Unlink command now decouples the audio portion of a clip while automatically deselecting the video portion. The Unlink command now works on multiple clips at the same time, as well.
    • ability to add keyframes directly into the timeline using the Pen tool or Selection tool without having to first enable keyframing
    • ability to set keyframes without a modifier key

other new and changed features in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5, with links to more information

projects and sequences

  • Added Sequence > Match Frame menu command.
  • Renamed General tab of New Sequence dialog box to Settings.
  • Renamed Desktop editing mode in the New Sequence dialog box to Custom.
  • Added ways to create a new sequence matching the characteristics of a clip: File > New > Sequence From Clip menu command and New Sequence From Clip context-menu command (i.e., command available when Control-clicking or right-clicking).

importing and managing footage

  • The trial version of Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5 includes all codecs included with the full version, so users of the trial version will be able to import any file that can be imported using in the full version.

editing

  • Added menu command Sequence > Trim Edit to open the Trim Monitor.
  • Changed Overlay to Overwrite.
  • Changed CTI to Playhead in some places.
  • Changed Razor Tracks to Add Edit and Razor All Tracks to Add Edit To All Tracks.

effects and compositing

  • Added Film Dissolve effect.
  • Added two blending modes: Subtract and Divide.

rendering and exporting

  • Added ability to drag a sequence from the Adobe Premiere Pro Project panel into Adobe Media Encoder to add it to the encoding queue. For other Adobe Media Encoder changes, see “Adobe Media Encoder CS5.5: What’s new and changed”.
  • The trial version of Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5 includes all codecs included with the full version, so users of the trial version will be able to render and export using any codec that can be used in the full version.

keyboard shortcuts

  • Added command for maximizing panels: Press the Shift+grave accent key (`) or choose Window > Maximize Frame to maximize the active (selected) panel. This is in addition to the keyboard shortcut (`) in previous versions that maximizes the panel under the mouse pointer, regardless of which panel is active (selected).

[Adobe Blog – Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5: What’s new and changed]

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  • Larabe1

    Will there be a free upgrade to those who have recently upgraded to CS5?

  • Anonymous

    Man. James Cameron didn’t like the toggle switches. The man really is all about the details.

  • Don

    I hate this software… on a brand new $6,000 12-core editing machine with 16GB of RAM, it crashes constantly. I am trying to edit four clips on my timeline and it can’t keep itself running for more than 20 minutes at a time.

    The biggest kick in the crotch is that after spending $1,600 on the CS 5.5 suite, you have to pay extra for each and every call to tech support, even if it doesn’t run right out of the box. I hate Adobe.

    • I experience frequent crashes too. Frustrating. Especially when we’re on deadline. We have i7 12GB GTX570. But still issues, esp. when linking comps from AE to PP. I hope Adobe focuses on stability for next release.

      • Rikarim

        Perhaps your machines are TOO high end.  I never have troubles with my laptops.  Never troubles with any workstations, either.  But they’re not the level of your rigs.