Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Production Premium review

9 May 2011

The welcome return of Audition, some performance consolidation, and a smattering of new features make CS5.5 Production Premium a dot release worth considering

Price when reviewed: 
1,930(£1,929 inc VAT)
5

Adobe CS5 Production Premium was always going to be a tough act to follow. The Mercury Playback Engine’s shift to 64-bit and graphics card acceleration were incredibly big news, and it was inevitable that this next generation would feel like an anticlimax, particularly as it’s a dot release. But it does have some enhancements that could entice CS5 users to upgrade, and new users to take even more notice.

The Production Premium suite is a huge bundle, with unchanged editions of Photoshop Extended, Illustrator, OnLocation, Encore and Bridge, augmented by new versions of Premiere Pro, After Effects, Flash Catalyst, Flash Professional, Device Central and Media Encoder. The biggest news is that Audition has made a welcome return to the suite, as it now runs on MacOS X as well as Windows.

Premiere Pro CS5.5

Premiere Pro CS5.5 is very much a consolidation of what went before. A number of its new features are essentially there to keep up with the latest developments elsewhere in the video production world. For example, there’s native support for Canon’s XF-series camcorders, which shoot MPEG2 with 4:2:2 colour, and this includes specific sequence presets.

Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5

Support for RED cameras has been enhanced, too, with even greater control over import settings. You can pick a white point using an eyedropper; there are five-point curves to adjust red, green, blue or luma values for a clip; and a histogram is available to review the effects of your adjustments. You can also save and load RMD settings files.

The Mercury Playback Engine now supports a greater range of graphics cards, although still limited to Nvidia’s CUDA for acceleration. Most notably, a few mobile graphics chips are included on the list. You’ll need 1GB or more of frame buffer, and this applies only to Windows; MacOS is still limited to the Quadro 4000 and 4800, or the GeForce GTX 285. A few more effects have also been added to the accelerated list, including Directional Blur, Fast Blur, Invert, Additional Dissolve and the new Film Dissolve.

Adobe is continuing to promote integration with its (currently free) Story script collaboration app. You can create a Story script, use it to organise clips in OnLocation, then call on the associated metadata to facilitate editing in Premiere Pro. In particular, having a clip’s script section attached as metadata makes actor voice-recognition using the Premiere Pro Speech Analysis tool far more effective. However, only big-budget, well-organised projects will be able to take full advantage.

Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5

Recognising the growing use of DSLRs with poor audio provision, where audio is captured on a separate device, a new Merge Clips command lets you create a single clip from aligned audio and video tracks. You still need to line up the different tracks yourself, using clapboard or other synchronisation markers, but the new clip is a virtual pointer – no reprocessing is required, and the original separate clips remain exactly as they were. You can also overwrite layers in the timeline by simply dragging and dropping a trimmed clip to the Program monitor at the appropriate point. You can also remove a snippet from the timeline across multiple layers using the Extract command.

There are many smaller, but still welcome, usability tweaks to Premiere Pro CS5.5. The Pen tool lets you add keyframes to the rubber band for a parameter directly on the timeline, rather than having to go into its effects properties panel. You can also now use the keyboard shortcuts from Avid Media Composer 5 or Final Cut Pro 7, instead of the Adobe ones – or create your own custom set. The remaining enhancements come from integration with Audition.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,608
Price inc VAT £1,930
Overall rating 6
Ease of Use rating 6
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 5
Software subcategory Video editing software