Review: Adobe Production Premium CS3

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With the introduction of Adobe’s Creative Suite 3 comes even greater integration among all of the Adobe dynamic media programs. The specific integration between Adobe Premiere and the Adobe Media Encoder is of particular interest to online video content creators. This mini-review of that integration is part of a more in-depth review that will appear in the October/November issue of Streaming Media magazine.

Adobe CS3 Premiere Pro is one of several of the Adobe CS3 Production Premium programs that can access the Adobe Media Encoder. Premiere has been revamped on the Windows platform—and reintroduced to the Macintosh OS X platform—with several key features that make it a formidable competitor to other more established video editing suites. Although Apple’s Final Cut Pro cooperates quite well with Adobe file formats such as PDF for Acrobat, AI for Illustrator, and PSD for Photoshop, Adobe truly simplifies the process. For example, layered Photoshop files are especially easy to work with in both Premiere and also Encore, Adobe’s DVD authoring program.

A second benefit for Premiere is an integrated title template tool that employs a Photoshop-like interface. For those content creators that are familiar with Adobe’s web or graphic design programs and want to branch into the world of video editing and streaming video, the familiarity of the new interface similarities can’t be overemphasized.

The Adobe Media Encoder, included both with the Adobe CS3 Production Premium bundle and also with the Premiere Pro point product, can export directly from the Premiere timeline through a simple two-step process: Select either a clip from your bin or any amount of media on your timeline and then go to File > Export > Adobe Media Encoder.

The Media Encoder interface then loads on your screen and, if the export is from Premiere’s timeline, the Media Encoder displays the original media at the point where the Premiere playhead (or cursor) was currently sitting prior to launching Media Encoder, a real timesaver for those who want to move between editing a series of clips and trying out small encode samples. You can switch between your source and output by selecting between the two tabs at the top or by using the toggle button at the top right that automatically switches between the two.

Media Encoder’s settings controls, on the right side of the interface, allow you to make changes such as frame rate, format, and dimensions that reflect in real-time an estimate of the final video output in the output window. After completing the settings, select "OK" to submit those settings and then provide a destination and file name for the compressed video, and watch Media Encoder do its magic. The status window gives you a detailed running tally on the encode, which we found to be quite accurate in its time estimation.

Conversion and Compression
Adobe provides compression schemes for a variety of content types, from high-end Blu-ray high definition DVD outputs to low-bandwidth streaming file formats. Two formats of particular interest to streaming media content creators are H.264 (which includes presets for compressing videos for popular use such as YouTube, MySpace, and Sony’s PSP) and the On2 VP6 compression scheme, better known as FLV or Flash Video 8.

For those who want to compress Flash Video 8 files from raw video clips or clips that have already been exported, Adobe also includes another encoding option: Adobe Flash Video Converter. This utility is very utilitarian but gives the user all the functionality needed to create FLV or SWF video files within a minimalist interface designed to maintain as much desktop real estate as possible.

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