Review: Adobe Production Premium CS3

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For those unfamiliar with Flash, the FLV file is a video-only wrapper, while SWF is a self-contained "movie" (in Macromedia/Adobe parlance) that can contain additional information such as a follow-on video file to launch after the first SWF is completed.

As part of our review we wanted to compare two aspects: first, the speed difference between content shot in DV versus the higher-quality HDV; second, the speed of Flash video output between Adobe’s Media Encoder’s FLV conversion capabilities and the output of the more spartan Flash Video Encoder.

Again, a more in-depth HDV/DV comparison will be found in the longer review in the October/November Streaming Media. For this article, we chose three HDV files of varying lengths and file sizes.File 1 was a clip with lots of motion and shaky camera work following a crowd of people running around, which lets us assess both encoders’ ability to handle motion. This 17-second clip had an original file size 56.3MB. File 2 was a stand-up shot with relatively little motion of one person talking and gesturing. This 12-second clip had an original file size 41.0MB. File 3 had an average amount of motion and was a typical interview shot – a talking head with some gesturing. This 50-second clip had an original file size 160MB. All of them were compressed using the medium quality (400Kbps) preset.

Our tests yielded consistent results between both the Flash Video Encoder and the Media Encoder. The total conversion time for all three files in the queue was 2 hours and 11 minutes on an Intel-based MacBook Pro 2.16 Dual Core with 2GB RAM and a Radeon 1600 graphics card with 256MB of on-board memory.

Compressions on File 2 and File 3 were quite severe, from 41MB to 1.4MB and from 160.3 MB to 89MB, respectively. File 1 took up the bulk of the time, with its significant motion, and yielded a lower compression rate with the original size of 56.3MB only being reduced to an FLV size of 8.1MB.

Our results indicated that the decision on whether to use Adobe Media Encoder or the Flash Video Converter to make a Flash video file rests more with workflow issues than underlying compression speed differences. Media Encoder is best used when one is already using Premiere Pro to edit a project, as it is most efficient to export your FLV right from the Media Encoder instead of exporting a standalone MOV and then converting the standalone file with Flash Video Converter. Output from the timeline also avoids any issues with concatenation or loss of quality if an intermediate output format is used. If you already have an existing video file, though, such as an MOV or MPG, then use the Flash Video Converter. Not only will this provide an equivalent output to Adobe Media Encoder, but it will also save you from having to adjust settings and create a project in Premiere just to convert a format.

In summary, for professional video editors and for streaming media content creators, there is now a new choice in editing and encoding software to be considered. Premiere Pro is a fine initial debut on the Mac and a solid upgrade on the Windows platform, thanks in no small part to the continued integration between the Adobe CS3 programs. The Adobe Media Encoder – an example of one of the programs that spans several CS3 applications, is also a solid product that puts Adobe firmly in the running against other more established video software suites.

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