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Adobe Premiere 4.0

by Stuart Bonwit

Washington Apple Pi Journal, January/February 1995, p. 58, reprint information

Broad Brush

Adobe Premiere 4.0 is indeed a "premiere" package for the professional producer of movies for broadcast, film, or CD-ROMs. The casual/hobbyist video maker will enjoy the myriad of effects available if he or she is satisfied with an image size less than full screen. This obstacle may be overcome by adding third party hardware just as the professionals do.

Without the added hardware to capture (digitize) full broadcast quality video (NTSC in the U.S.), I was limited to capturing video in small video windows and at less than 30 frames per second. For many applications, particularly for interactive CD-ROMs, this is adequate. Capturing video is done by compressing the input video stream. The Quadra 660AV provides several compression algorithms. Some guidance in choosing one is given in the Premiere's User Guide. However, the actual choice requires considerable experimenting and is quite dependent on the video content.

I am a casual/hobbyist video maker and have been making computer animations for several years. My current computer, a Quadra 660AV, has no added video hardware and is unmodified except for RAM expansion to 24 MB. Previous to using Premiere, my Macintosh experience has been with Macromedia's Swivel 3D for modelling and animating and with VideoFusion's QuickFlix for editing, playing, and outputing to video tape.

Premiere's principle use, as I see it, is in capturing video and audio clips, producing video and sound effects, editing, and recording and playing back the finished product. It has superb capabilities for this, provided that the input and output channels have the requisite speed. The requirements for speed increase rapidly with increased image size (resolution) and color depth (number of colors). NTSC broadcast quality video requires full screen images (640x480 resolution) at 30 frames per second with millions of colors (24-bit color). VHS quality requires the same, but could get by with only thousands of colors. The unmodified Quadra 660AV and many other Macintoshes do not have the speed without third party hardware.

I create my animations at 512x384 resolution (nearly full screen) in either 256 or thousands of colors at 15 frames per second. Since the images are already in the computer, I do not have to capture them from an external source. Therefore, the animations are not affected by the video capture speed limitations mentioned above.

I have liked everything I have tried so far on Premiere. One particular feature that is essential for my animation work is the audio Clip Window. This provides a waveform monitor for the audio signal. Sliding the curser along the track permits timing of musical beats accurately to within a frame for synchronizing to the animation.

Installation of Premiere either with the supplied five high density floppy disks or CD-ROM is explained very clearly in the Getting Started manual. I used the CD-ROM, making installation extremely easy with a few mouse clicks in the right places. The process involves transferring 242 items to the hard disk, resulting in an increase of 7.9 MB in the hard disk storage.


A tutorial, Chapter 1 in the 331-page User Guide, is straight forward, and easy to understand and follow. Executing the tutorial produces a movie made from supplied video and audio clips and illustrates: editing; transition effects between video clips; modification of color, brightness, and contrast; and adding sound and titles. The Screen Shot shows the status of the completed tutorial project.

The Construction Window in the Screen Shot is used to assemble the movie. Video clips are inserted into Video Track A in the order required. For video effects transitions a clip is inserted into Video Track B with an overlap of the transition time desired. A transition is chosen from the Transitions window and is inserted in the transition Video Track T. Clips for superimposition are inserted into Video Track S1 where the title "Rings!" can be seen. Multiple superimpositions are possible. The level bar under the title controls fading. It has been set to fade the title in at the start. Audio clips are inserted into Audio Tracks A and B. The level bar under Audio Track A shows the audio being faded out at the end of the movie. Audio Track X is used for audio effects such as mixing. The application has capacity for 99 video and audio tracks.

[Adobe Premiere screen shot]

A dazzling array of 61 video effects Transitions is available. A few are seen in the Transition window. When the window is active, as shown in the Screen Shot, all the transition icons are continuously animated showing just what the transitions looks like!

Powerful tools are available for previewing a movie under construction. The black down arrow seen in the time line can be dragged across the time line to display the movie in the Preview window in either direction at any speed and can stop to display any frame. Any portion of the movie selectable by the control bar at the top of the Construction Window (shown selecting the entire movie) can be previewed in the Preview window at normal speed with sound. The Export/Print To Video command under the File menu displays the movie in the center of the monitor screen with a black surround for transferring the finished movie to video tape. In Print To Video the movie can be shown in its original resolution rather than in the (default) reduced resolution of the Preview screen. This is really the only way to see the movie "properly!

The finished movie, made with the Make Movie command under the Make menu, can be played with any application that plays QuickTime movies. Movie Player plays the finished 1.6 MB Tutorial Project movie smoothly from the Quadra 660AV's internal hard disk.

I was disappointed not to be able to get a screen shot from the Print to Video display because Premiere's Print to Video appears not programmed to display still frames. This was the only disappointment I have had so far with Premiere. The Movie Analysis feature, which gives all the details of the construction of a movie, is somewhat pessimistic, in my opinion. It over emphasises frames dropped during capturing. One animation video captured from tape had no dropped frames according to QuickFlix's Movie Get Info. Yet, Premiere announced, "This movie appears to have DROPPED FRAMES," and had a long listing of frame groupings each with the number of frames and duration.

Other Features

The Tutorial occupies Chapter 1, 24 pages, in the User Guide. The next nine chapters, occupying 270 pages, cover instructions for the many specific capabilities of Premiere. After completing the tutorial, I made an animated title superimposed over a video clip. I also experimented with the Filter and Motion effects. The instructions for these and for the multitude of variations are clear and detailed. The only time I had any trouble was when I did not follow the instructions!

The many Filters allow a wide variety of video effects. Some that I particularly like are: Camera Blur (out of focus effect); Lens Flare (as if looking into a bright light); Pointilize (like a pointilist painting); Replicate (multiple images of selected clip); and Zig Zag (includes water ripples). The interesting thing about lens flare is that it is used as an "artistic" effect in the modern cinema. However, in the Golden Age it was avoided like the plague with the use of elaborate barn doors for lights and the camera lens. The Motion effect allows a clip to be moved about the screen with user defined paths, speeds, and distortion. Premiere allows the user to create his/her own Filter and Motion effects.

It was all great fun and I would like to have tried everything! But, going through the chapters in detail would probably take months. However, the best way to learn is to create a project and make it as sophisticated (read: complicated) as one can.

Some intriguing Premiere capabilities include creating: story boards; edit decision lists; freeze frames and time lapse; overlays; split screens; Chroma key effects; and 360-degree movies for showing from five projectors. Some of the capabilities require Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop for creating and manipulating graphics. Edit decision lists created in Premiere may be exported to post-production house editing suites for final editing of a project in film or video for theatrical release or network broadcast. One thing that impressed me with the professional level of Premiere is the inclusion of a simulated video waveform monitor and vector scope. These instruments are found only in television broadcast and post-production facilities. They are now available to anyone with Premiere.

Appendix A covers video basics; Appendix B covers creating your own transitions and filters, making the sky the limit!.


For the serious video movie maker Adobe Premiere is certainly a valuable application to have and I strongly recommend it.

The package includes:

Premiere may be installed from either the high density disks or the CD-ROMs. The five disks and the CD-ROMs have:

The two CD-ROMs have, in addition:

(Get that CD-ROM drive. See what you're missing!)

System requirements:

System recommendations:

Adobe Premiere 4.0 is a product of

Adobe Systems Incorporated
1585 Charleston Road
P.O. Box 7900
Mountain View CA 94039-7900
List price: $795.


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Revised Saturday, January 10, 1998 lic
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