Once upon a time, when it came to computer based video editing, there were two choices…Avid, which, at a cost of tens of thousands, was strictly high end… and Adobe Premiere, which, at a cost of hundreds, was still high end…but was the relatively affordable alternative. Then a bunch of young upstarts called Macromedia (yes, that Macromedia) developed a product that combined the video editing facilities of Premiere, with the comping abilities of Adobe’s other key video package, ‘After Effects’ and amidst rumours and speculation of a Premiere/After Effects killer, released it to critical acclaim…well not quite…actually, they sold it to Apple…who released it to critical acclaim, as ‘Final Cut Pro’….and subsequently Final Cut Express…closely followed by Avid Express DV and a bunch of other video editing apps.
As these new applications went from strength to strength, the word on the street was that Adobe was lagging behind big time…as were their Mac based sales of Premiere…however, they had a cunning plan…in secret they were rewriting Premiere from the ground up…and with a new interface noch…but for Window XP only. Withdrawing Premiere completely from the Mac platform, they released this rewrite as ‘Premiere Pro 1.0’ and like ‘Creative Suite’ before it, they also started offering it as part of an integrated suite of applications.
Adobe Video Collection Professional Version 2.5 is the current version of that suite, which combines Premiere Pro 1.5 with After Effects 6.5 Professional, Encore DVD 1.5, Audition 1.5 and as of recently, the brand spanking new CS2 version of Photoshop.
On the downside, the fact that two out of five of the products in the suite (‘Audition’ and ‘Encore DVD’), are applications purchased, not written by Adobe, means lack of a common interface. On the upside, Adobe have done an excellent job of integrating what are some very different applications and once you’ve mastered their quirks (as opposed to their Quarks) and know your way round each program, you will find they integrate pretty seamlessly, allowing you, for example, to, at the touch of a button, design and refine menus for your DVDs in Photoshop, as part of the project you are creating in Encore DVD.
And talking of Photoshop, although it’s included in this suite, it’s also a key part of Creative Suite 2, a full review of which will be appearing here soon, so I won’t go into detail about it in this review. Instead I’ll just big it up by giving it the full 5 bagels as it’s streets ahead of any other image editing application and its inclusion in and integration with this suite puts Video Collection in an entirely different league.
What I won’t big up is Encore DVD, which has to be the weakest link, as it lacks some of the functionality of rival products and has an awkward interface too. Having said that, within a very short space of time and with only minimal reference to the included manuals (which, thankfully, are extremely well written), I was able to complete two entire projects in Premiere and master them to DVD with Encore…no mean feat considering the state of the raw footage I was using (obviously not shot by me…which is why it was less than perfect…).
Premiere’s new real-time filters were a godsend in this respect. Not only was I able to correct exposure and colour balance…in real-time…using the split screen facility to do AB comparisons…but I was even able to restore 6 minutes of footage that on initial screening was blacker than Conrad Hall at his most underexposed. If it’s filters and FX you want, you won’t be disappointed, as Premiere has more than you can shake a camera at (or create camera shake effects with).
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to full resolution real-time editing, numerous effects and advanced colour correction, you get multiple nested timelines, native HD and Panasonic 24p support, auto colour adjustment, project management tools, AAF and EDL import/export, direct access to your library of installed After Effects plug ins, After Effects clipboard support, Bezier keyframe support and on the audio front, support for ASIO and VST plug ins, making it a formidable application.
Of course no video would be complete without sound…unless you’re making art installation pieces…something I’m not nearly pretentious enough to do…despite the fact that I used to run a club called Pretension… While Premiere offers reasonable audio editing facilities, for anyone wanting to create complex soundtracks that combine music with dialogue and foley effects, Audition makes a valuable addition to this suite by providing an all in one audio solution that combines ‘Acid’ style loop based music creation with audio editing, mixing and effects processing.
Audition’s key effect is ‘Frequency Space Editing’ which allows you to remove unwanted noise such as mic pops, coughs and farts from audio recordings, without affecting frequencies in the rest of the track There’s also, pitch correction, vocal/instrumental extraction, automatic click/pop removal, studio reverb and over 5000 royalty free music loops to play with…plus VST plug in and Rewire support for total integration with your other audio apps.
But for me, the star of this suite, is After Effects 6.5. A long time industry staple, it allows you to quickly and easily create stunning motion compositions by combining layer upon layer of 2D & 3D animations, video, text and graphics, with advanced keying, warping and matte tools, numerous 2D & 3D SFX, a particle system and motion tracking…all in 16 bits per channel colour…in much the same way that you might combine layers in Photoshop, or tracks of audio in Logic…or Audition for that matter…
If After Effects is the star of the suite then its animation text engine has to be the star of the app, as it allows incredibly powerful text animations to be created without the need to first break text apart and then place it on separate layers. But it’s not just text that can be animated. The combination of simple and intuitive generation of keyframes with independently adjustable position, rotation, scale and opacity properties and auto tweening with manually adjustable timing will make Flash users weep tears of frustration and envy as After Effects can animate in minutes what would take hours in Flash.
Although After FX doesn’t work in real time, it does support Open GL, which makes for some very speedy previews. It also offers network rendering, so if you have more than one machine to play with, you can harness all that extra processing power…unless, like me, you’re using it to takeover the world…
Since Encore DVD, Audition and Premiere are all Windows only applications, this suite is not an option for Mac users. But for Windows XP users, do the maths and you’ll notice that the cost of this suite is actually less than the combined cost of buying just Premiere and After Effects as individual applications, which effectively means you’re saving money and getting Photoshop, Audition and Encore DVD for free! Sounds like an excellent deal to me!.
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