Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 Review
Published: Friday, 07 September 2012 07:53
Adobe's Creative Suite 6 Production Premium includes a wealth of updates to Premiere, After Effects, Photoshop, Audition and the rest of the suite. This review will focus on the updates to Premiere Pro CS6, our main area of interest.
Premiere Pro CS6 has enough power under the hood to attract the Final Cut community that feels abandoned by Apple and perhaps a few AVID editors that are curious about what's on the other side of the wall. Long time Premiere users should be very happy with this new release.
For starters we love the new "adjustment layer". Basically you throw an adjustment layer of any length on top of your timeline, tweak the settings and effects and all layers underneath the adjustment layer will respond to the changes as if they were made individually to each layer in the timeline. This is extremely useful and a real time saver. We will use this a lot.
Next up is "Hover Scrub". It works just like it sounds. Move the mouse right and left over the thumbnails in the media browser and you can quickly find what you're looking for without formally dropping the media in the trimmer or timeline. Again, handy and practical. We also like the project view which adds small icons to media thumbnails so you know if a particular asset is already being used in the project. These little touches show that Adobe is paying attention to how editors really work.
Other nice features of Premiere Pro CS6 include the "Warp Stabilizer", "Rolling Shutter Repair" (handy for cameras like the HPX250), an improved effects paradigm, better color correction, multi-cam support and a customizable GUI which we like for a cleaner layout and elimination of buttons we rarely use.
Adobe also went crazy with the render presets in Premiere Pro CS6. The full gamut is included from smart phones and tablets to large screens and everything in between. All the right codec support and a huge selection of starting points for your renders. Setting up watch folders to encode multiple formats is real easy too. The folks at Sorenson should be a little nervous.
We primarily worked with AVC-Intra 100 files in our test of Premiere Pro CS6. Our favorite P2 format is one of the best on the planet but it's processor intensive. On our HP, Dell and Supermicro SSD equipped test systems with NVIDIA Quadro, 2000 and 4000 cards the experience was real time. Content loaded fast. We could easily jump around the timeline and the software felt connected to the media. The GPU support and mercury playback engine makes for improved real-time performance and renders. Again, when software starts feeling more like hardware that's a good thing.
Solid, predictable performance is important for us. CS6 is really the first version of Premiere Pro we've truly enjoyed using. Sure it was functional before but now it feels better. The tweaks to the GUI make it easier to find content and start editing right away without arbitrary steps that seemed to get in the way in previous versions of Premiere. The same can be said for adding effects and overall workflow. In other words, the software is now getting out of the way of the work.
Audio is still a weak link for us in Premiere Pro. We liked Audition back in the Cool Edit Pro days but have since moved on to other audio editors that we simply like better.
This year could be a very pivotal one for Adobe, especially as it relates to Premiere Pro CS6. For years the post community has embraced AVID and Final Cut as the leading platforms for editing with Premiere, Vegas and Edius providing a supporting role. That's changing. We felt it at NAB and we feel it even more now. Adobe is playin' for keeps.
So what's Adobe been doing to whip CS6 into shape? Well it seems the product team is listening to its users. Crazy, we know. Maybe there really is something to this whole social enterprise thing that Marc Benioff touts every year at Dreamforce. But really, this is the version of Premiere Pro we think a lot of editors have been waiting for and longtime Premiere users will greet with an exultant, "Finally!"
Visit Adobe for more information about Premiere Pro and the entire CS6 lineup.
Panasonic HPX250 Camcorder Review
Published: Monday, 23 July 2012 05:32
We really like the Panasonic AG-HPX250. It’s a professional level product in an ergonomic, efficient and easy to use package. In many ways it’s the ideal hand-held camcorder in the 5k price range that can be used for everything from corporate video to reality TV to documentaries.
When we first got our hands on the Panasonic AG-HPX250 we thought it felt a little cheap, almost too light for a professional grade camera. However, after using it for several months we’re very pleased with the performance and grateful for the run-n-gun friendly body especially compared to its chunky ancestor, the HVX200. The HPX250 (and recently updated HPX250PJ announced at NAB earlier this year) is better balanced and provides a variety of improvements to the buttons, i/o connections and overall speed of access to controls. The flip out LCD looks really good. The battery pops in and out easier. The P2 card slots are vertical. The product team did a nice job making lots of subtle improvements compared to previous designs without losing any of the Panasonic camcorder product family mojo. It's a better product that's easier to use.
When it comes to handheld camcorders, the HPX250 and updated HPX250PJ are like the younger siblings in the family that get everything the older siblings never had. The HPX250 is the camera the HVX200 always wanted to be. Don’t be fooled by the abundant use of plastic in the design. The HPX250 packs a punch with a versatile lens, excellent low light performance and a plethora of format, codec and frame rate options. Even the built-in sound is a little better.
One of the most important features of the HPX250 is the AVC-Intra 100/50 codec support. The AVC-Intra 100 codec is arguably one of the best available on any camcorder. The full raster 1920x1080 progressive frames in a 10 bit 4.2.2 color space offers more flexibility to push the boundaries in post and makes getting clean keys much easier.
We recently tested the HPX250 using the AVC-Intra 100 codec while working on a simple “how to” video. We tested the footage on three separate workstations (HP, Dell, Supermicro) using three separate NLE packages (CS6.5, Edius 6.5, Vegas Pro 11) all running Xeons, plenty of memory and either Quadro 2000 or 4000 card. The AVC-Intra 100 codec does require a modern workstation to run smoothly and we noticed better performance on our faster systems.
On shoots that require faster turns in remote locations where the laptop is the edit suite we might opt for the DVCPRO HD codec as it’s much lighter on resources. We also like the option of using the AVC-Intra 50 codec if we think we may have a long day without the luxury of enough P2 storage. The HPX250 has plenty of options to balance quality, capacity and editing requirements.
At NAB this year Panasonic announced the microP2 card, essentially a robust storage card in the SD form factor. In spite of the antiquated PCMCIA form factor the P2 card has a large stable of “believers” that have gotten comfortable using the cards. In years of shooting with the HVX200 and now the HPX250 we’ve never had one fail. We also don’t know anyone in our creative circle that has had a P2 card fail. Flash memory has forever changed the way we capture and share our stories.
The microP2 card or some other “micro” format will have a profound impact on the professional handheld camcorder market. The lighter, better, faster, and (we hope), cheaper mantra will continue. We’re looking forward to meeting the HPX250’s younger brother.
Visit Panasonic for more information and all the specs on the AG-HPX250 and updated AG-HPX250PJ.
Boris Continuum Complete 8 Review
Published: Wednesday, 27 June 2012 17:08
Boris Continuum Complete 8 is an extremely useful plug-in suite of visual effects available for major NLE platforms offered by Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, Avid and Sony. Depending on your NLE of choice, Continuum Complete 8 provides anywhere from 145-200+ effects. But more importantly the effects are useful and inspiring if not a bit intimidating with comprehensive controls that allow truly infinite possibilities.
Boris FX has been around since 1995 and this is the first time we've immersed ourselves in their plug-ins. At first, it's a bit overwhelming. There's a lot to digest in this suite and every plug-in has lots of sliders and settings to tweak. We highly recommend checking out some of the tutorials by John Rofrano on YouTube, especially the Beat Reactor tutorial which we found extremely helpful.
The lineup of effects includes motion tracking, image restoration, cartoon, film effects, 3D particles, HD "UpRez", lighting effects and a lot more. Each plug-in includes a variety of presets. For example, if you want the "Charles Schwab" cartoon look, you can quickly dial that in.
We were able to figure out most of the effects by playing with the controls until we started to see something we liked on screen. The online tutorials are very helpful to jumpstart this process. If you're the type of editor that prefers presets and a few knobs to play with Continuum Complete may frustrate you but if you prefer maximum control you'll appreciate the option to tweak every setting. There are lots of presets but we'd like to see even more practical staring points.
This first example combines two lighting effects triggered by the Beat Reactor. The Beat Reactor only works with AIF files which was a minor inconvenience. This is one of our favorite new tools and we'll be spending a lot of time perfecting its use. This sample shows what you can do with very little effort.
This next example is from a mini-DV shoot several years back that we wanted to repurpose in HD. The UpRez filter was very helpful and the results are convincing. We have hundreds of episodes of a technology show we produced on Beta back in the day and we'll see if UpRez can help us archive it in "HD."
In this next video we used both screen capture software and the camera to grab screen shots. We noticed an additional flicker in the video we didn't see on the monitor while shooting. The Boris "Flicker Fixer" plug-in was super handy to help clean this up.
As with any effects package, the best approach is to simply download it and start experimenting. Boris Continuum 8 will keep you busy for days just getting familiar with this powerful suite of plug-ins. The value of the package will become apparent once you start to identify your "Go-to" plug-ins that help clean up, add sizzle and generally bring your visuals to life. We found the performance and preview capabiiity of Continumm Complete 8 to be good on a test Superrmicro workstation with dual xeons, 12 cores, 24GBs, a quadro 2000, running Win 7 Pro 64bit. We had a frozen screen here and there but found the experience mostly stable and predictable.
We're just getting started and we'll share more as we peel back the layers of this suite. Certainly put this on your list of plug-in suites to consider for your NLE of choice.
To compare the complete lineup of plug-ins across NLE platforms go here.
To learn more about Boris Continuum Complete 8 go here.