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Adobe Premiere Pro Turns 30, Gets Facelift

Though the latest version of Premiere Pro introduced this week isn't a complete facelift, there are pretty dramatic changes during import and export, the bookends in every project. The changes are designed to simplify operation for new users and streamline workflows for all users.

OK, certain titles just write themselves, even if they may not be 100% true. While Premiere did debut in December 1991, it was succeeded by Premiere Pro in 2003; the combined lineage will turn 30 in December. Though the latest isn’t a complete facelift, there are pretty dramatic changes during import and export, the bookends in every project. The changes are designed to simplify operation for new users and streamline workflows for all users.

Let’s start at import. In previous versions, you started a New Project or opened an old one before accessing your content. When starting a new project, you had to set multiple parameters like Renderer, video play format, location of scratch disks, and other administrative details before diving into your content. Most of us simply clicked through the screens to get going without even considering options other than storage location.

In the new version, you see the content screen shown in Figure 1 (below) when you open Premiere Pro so you can immediately start adding content to the project. You start in the Sample Media folder but can navigate to your own clips; when you open a new project, you start in the last folder you were working in.

Figure 1. The first screen you in the new version of Premiere Pro allows you to choose your content and create a sequence. Click the image to see it at full size.

From there, you can choose your clips, save them to a new sequence, and start your project from that interface. As you select your clips. they appear on the bottom bar you see on the left in Figure 1; you can’t change the order of clips at this point, or trim the heads or tails. If you have a favorite location for storing media, you can click the star to the right of the folder name above the thumbnails and add it to the Favorites location on the upper left (Time_test added to Sample Media).

Once you create the sequence and enter the full application, you’ll note the workflow-oriented menu options on the upper left (Figure 2, below): Import, Edit, and Export. You’ll also note that workspaces are no longer listed in the middle; now you access them via an icon on the upper right, or by clicking Window > Workspaces, a move Adobe made to open up screen real estate.

Figure 2. The workflow is controlled by the three menu options on the upper left.

Click Export to open the interface shown in Figure 3 (below), which presents encoding options as destinations rather than formats and codecs. If you choose a file, you can configure the file and output as normal; most of the other outputs allow you to log into your account and automatically upload the file after encoding.

Figure 3. The new Export window is destination-oriented. Click the image to see it at full size.

I didn’t study the output presets, but Adobe defaulted to ProRes for encoding for upload to most services, which could extend your upload time to several lifetimes for longer projects. Easy enough to change to high bitrate H.264 (click here for a lesson on encoding for upload).

As before, after choosing your outputs, you can export within Premiere Pro and dedicate the program to the export, or export in the Adobe Media Encoder and start editing your next project right away. You can also continue to use the Quick Export function that appeared in Premiere Pro in late 2020 (Figure 4, below).

Figure 4. The Quick Export option is still there.

Beyond the above referenced changes, program operation is unchanged, with more sweeping changes coming as part of this UI modernization. Note that the new interface is available for public beta, including a version that runs on the new Apple M1 chip.

If you’re a new user of Premiere Pro, you’ll find import and export easier and more intuitive. If you’re an experienced user, you’ll find most of the changes mildly useful and certainly not jarring. If you liked the previous mode of operation, in most cases you can still access it. As a daily Premiere Pro user who finds the existing UI nearly perfect in every way, I hope Adobe continues to apply a light touch when changing the editing interface and tools where I spend the bulk of my editing time.

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