First off, I apologize for the lack of posts lately. I’ve had a crazy schedule the last few weeks with some commercial/film shoots and prep work for my upcoming feature film set to be shot at the end of this summer. A lot has happened in the world of cameras and editing in the past few weeks and I’ll be catching up with it all over the coming week or two with some entries covering recent releases and developments.
Something I haven’t really touched on much has been Adobe’s Creative Cloud and how it pertains to Premiere Pro users. For those of you that have been under a rock and don’t already know the big news, Adobe is no longer selling any software, they are simply licensing it to you (or renting it if you will) for a monthly fee of either $29.99 or $49.99 depending on whether you were a previous customer. This infuriated many users of Adobe software as they could no longer own their products and essentially need to continually pay Adobe for updates even if they don’t want them. I’ll start off by saying that for me, this actually was not a big deal at all. While I can absolutely see why people would be upset about this, there are many users like myself that constantly want the updates and use a wide variety of Adobe products and as such find great value in the packages that are offered. I’ve already been on the cloud for about a year now, so now that is has become mandatory, it actually hasn’t affected me one bit. But still though, I completely understand the frustration if you utilize their software in a different manner.
I think that Adobe could have taken a few notes from Apple’s botched FCP X release and transitioned the creative cloud more smoothly, rather than releasing it as harshly as they did. But like it or hate it, it is here to stay. And if you like Adobe products, you need to either jump on board, or use older Adobe software that will inevitably become outdated in the near future. While it might be a scary thought, cloud based software will soon become the normal business model for most if not all software developers (creative and otherwise) as the years go on. Adobe is just one of the first to implement it in full force.
The cloud model makes the most sense as a means to deliver updates quickly and efficiently – and as long as the price is reasonable and there are various packages available to suit different users needs, I am okay with this. Sure it’s scary that Adobe sort of owns us now to some degree, but then again do they really? Speaking for myself if I could never use an Adobe product again, I would be okay. I wouldn’t be thrilled, but I could keep working. Same goes for Apple, and any other developer. The fact is, we now have choices. I love Adobe’s products and Apple’s products and software products from many other companies as well, but the fact of the matter is if Photoshop disappeared today, I would use Pixelmator (a great app by the way). And if FCP X and Premiere died off, I would go straight back to Avid (although the reverse is more likely in a real world example). The point is, it is important to focus on the fundamentals of your craft as much or more than the specific tools. Knowing what footage should make it into your cut is more important than which NLE you slice it up with. I can only hope that the positive flip side of the cloud debacle will be that more and more creative pros start to think this way. Using software as a means to get their content produced, and that’s it. Not relying on specific tools for their livelihood, because the truth is, if you don’t like change – this industry right now isn’t for you.
The entire business model of film making is changing, let alone the software and hardware used to produce the content in the first place. I personally like change. That’s one of the reasons I loved FCP X so much when it first came out. It shook things up. It inadvertantly caused Premiere Pro to develop into a great (FCP 8 style) application and for Avid to drop their prices. Change is good. And the more you learn to adapt to it and thrive within a changing creative eco system, the better your work will become and the more relevant you will be as a film maker or producer or editor or whatever it is that you do. Those that refuse adapt will be left behind eventually. That doesn’t mean you have to blindly love everything Adobe does or Apple or anyone else. But it does mean you should approach things with an open mind and try to see the big picture, not just the immediate hurdles.
Now in regards to a specific Adobe application that many of the readers of this blog use, let’s talk about Premiere Pro CC. Outside of Photoshop and After Effects, Premiere is my most used Adobe application and I’ve had a love/hate relationship with it since I started to use it. Before I get into my thoughts on Premiere itself, I will say this – Premiere may get hit the hardest out of all Adobe applications as a result of the Creative Cloud. This is simply because most of the new users of Premiere were already treading lightly as the vast majority of them came from FCP 7. They felt abandoned by Apple and just when they thought everything was stable again, Adobe pulled out the rug from under them. I personally know of several colleagues that have now given FCP X a second look because of the Creative Cloud issue, and in my opinion Adobe’s timing couldn’t have been worse in that regard. And to add insult to injury, the new Mac Pro was announced within the same time frame, giving editors another reason to take a step back from Premiere.
As for what I think about Premiere – I really believe it’s heart is in the right place. The Premiere team have done a great job of including almost every possible feature that an NLE needs (outside of heavy finishing features), but my issue with it is that it often seems to be a quantity over quality approach. Many will disagree, I’m sure – but I always feel that while Premiere Pro crams every last possible feature into the program, none of them are quite perfect. And most of them are pretty far from it. One of the reasons I love FCP X is that it seems to take the opposite approach. Almost everything it does, it does brilliantly in my opinion (although there are a few features like key framing that could use lots of work), and new additions to the software or the code are added over time as the software matures.
Now with the release of Premiere Pro CC, I feel more strongly about my thoughts on the software than ever as Adobe’s path is becoming more clear. A while back I wrote an article about using Premiere Pro as a workflow tool. And to me, that is still the single best advantage of it. In fact the newly released CC version has just confirmed that for me. Premiere is tremendously powerful and flexible piece of software and while I don’t find it the best environment for an offline edit as it is still clunky to me, I do find it the best of any NLE for helping you work through any number of difficult software based workflow issues as it plays so well with other NLE’s and can handle just about any format you throw at it. On top of this, it also has some great new features like closed captioning and integration with Adobe Anywhere – which by the way is one of the most defining features of the software. Much like I use Premiere Pro in snags as a workflow tool, many shooters/editors/news producers, etc. will find huge value in the ability to collaborate remotely with Adobe Anywhere, and as the platform becomes more wide spread, that will certainly help to carve out a niche for Adobe in certain circles. That is unless the other NLE’s bring something bigger and better to compete with it. This competition is a very good thing right now.
I think software of the future will become increasingly more open and flexible and in that regard I think Adobe is bang on. It is modular and universal, allowing you to use it in a wide variety of settings and formats and is extremely adaptable. If they allowed for .fcpxml import, that would be the icing on the cake for me, although I’m sure that is far from the top of their priority list.
in summary, Premiere Pro CC is an excellent tool that is improving swiftly, getting updates quickly (now with CC) and is an essential tool for any editors tool kit. Is it my favorite NLE? No. As far as straight up editing goes, I still find that FCP X is far and away the best environment for me to work in as it is extremely conducive to a creative environment. But there are many things Premiere Pro can do that compliment FCP X and I will continue using both applications to their full potential.