April 26, 2013, 7:06 AM — With HD-resolution cameras now standard-issue items in smartphones, 4K-resolution cameras falling into consumers' hands and multi-core processing power standard issue on desktops and laptops, the need for video editing suites with high-end features has moved into the mainstream.
In this roundup, I explore four well-known video editing packages -- Adobe Premiere Pro CS6, Corel VideoStudio Pro X6, CyberLink PowerDirector 11 and Sony Vegas Pro 12 -- that are suitable for the ambitious amateur or for the professional who wants to complete a quick project. These are available both as standalone items and as parts of larger suites or packages, and there's a price range and a feature set for most every budget or need. (Note: Only Adobe offers a version for Mac users.)
What constitutes a "high-end" feature -- or product, or suite -- is at least as much about implementation as whether or not it's included. For example, 4K-resolution video (3840 x 2160 pixels), used by a growing number of consumer-level devices, is supported by all the products in this roundup. However, not all of them support Redcode, the 4K video format generated by Red pro-level cameras. Not a big deal to those editing cellphone footage, but a potential deal-killer if you end up working with such high-tier technology.
To that end, I've looked at each of these products with an eye towards how well they handle top-of-the-line features like 4K support, general usability, value for the money and bonus features. My test system for this roundup was an Intel Core i7-3770K quad-core (eight-thread) system running at 3.5 GHz, with 16GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD system drive and a 2TB secondary drive; NVIDIA loaned me a Quadro 5000 GPU.
Standalone: $799 or monthly starting at $19.99. Suites: CS6 Production Premium ($1,899); CS6 Master Collection ($2,599); Creative Cloud, ($49.99/mo. w/annual commitment, $74.99/mo. cancel at any time) OS: Windows 7 and later, Mac OS X v10.6.8 and later
Adobe has done a lot of work with Premiere Pro -- both as a standalone product and as part of the Adobe Creative Suite -- so that video professionals will take it more seriously. With each successive revision Premiere Pro has become more tightly integrated with Photoshop and other Adobe products (and vice versa).