Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 review: speed and interface, enhanced

Unmatched performance and updated interface keep Premier Pro at the top of its game.

Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 builds upon the significant performance improvements that the company made in previous iterations of its flagship video editing application. In CS6, Adobe has found several ways to take better advantage of those past astounding leaps in performance. In addition, Premiere Pro CS6 ($799 as of June 1, 2012) gets even more performance enhancements.

A Pretty Face, Plus Easy Scrubbing

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At first glance, with its charcoal-colored interface, Premiere Pro CS6 looks pretty similar to its predecessors. But Adobe has added more flexibility and customizability. For example, the Project panel has been revamped so that it can show source clips at a much larger size--at maximum magnification, four clips filled the width of my 24-inch monitor. New icons show you how often a clip has been used, and if you click the icons, you'll see the sequences in which they appear.

A new built-in Media Browser, which you can use to view clips too, lets you look at files you have on your system and drag them into your Project. And a new hover-scrub feature lets you play the clips as you run your mouse over them (playback begins after 0.35 seconds, says Adobe). Click on a clip, and a timeline appears, and if you're in the Project view, you can use keyboard commands to set in and out points. It's great for rough-cutting a large number of clips.

Tools for trimming video have been greatly improved, as well. You can enable the use of Premiere Pro CS6's selection tool as a trimming tool, so that you don't have to switch away from the selection tool to trim clips. Double-click on an edit point in the timeline, and a new trim window appears in the program window. In this window, you can click buttons to trim backwards or forwards by 5 seconds or 1 second (you can use keyboard shortcuts instead, if you prefer), and you can see the outgoing clip and the incoming clip simultaneously. Other visual aids in the timeline make it easier to see what kind of trim you're doing, and again, you can use keyboard shortcuts.

You can now customize the buttons that appear below the source and program windows--so if you never want to see the Safe Margins guides ever again, you can hide its button. Put the Play button on the lower-right corner, if you want. Hovering over a button shows its function and its keyboard shortcut. However, on my system, when I tried to drag buttons to new spots below the windows, the application showed me a circle with a line through it--meaning, don't do that--but it always worked. The familiar and often-imitated jog wheel is gone, by the way; Adobe says few people used it.

One button you might want to reserve a spot for in the Program window is the Loop button, because Premiere Pro CS6's new Uninterrupted Playback feature means you can set your composition to continue to roll while you do other things, like correcting color (or even checking your email in another program). In previous versions, such multitasking--doing anything other than watching--would bring playback to a halt. Adobe says its Mercury Playback Engine GPU acceleration, which is responsible for accelerating rendering and many other Premiere Pro functions, enables this new feature.

For all the interface improvements, I still found some elements to be redundant. For example, to set the Program window's playback resolution, you can use the small drop-down menu below the window, or you can click a new little wrench icon below the window, or you can go to the drop-down menu in the upper-right corner of the window panel. The wrench icon and the panel menu show you exactly the same commands. Adobe says that the redundancy is due to its not wanting to frustrate existing users who are used to where things have been, and that in some cases the application is still in a transition period--meaning, after everyone gets used to the new locations for menus and commands, the old ones will go away. But one thing that's missing is the new interface-text-size adjustment that Adobe added to Photoshop CS6; you won't find it here in any form.

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