We’re Switching to Premiere Pro (and I’m happy about it)

Posted on April 22, 2013

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It’s official: my school district is not going to support BOTH Final Cut Pro and the Adobe Creative Suite. At first glance, I’m sure that looks terribly extravagant: a district that supports both? Yes, it’s true, but remember that until very recently, Adobe’s video tools weren’t a viable professional alternative to the Final Cut Suite. After Effects was good, but for an all-in-one solution, it was difficult to beat that old suite. It wasn’t until very recently that we (me? someone?) realized that, in fact, our district license for the Adobe Creative Suite includes enough seats for the broadcasting classrooms to be outfitted with the Master Collection, including the video production tools. Pretty sweet.

So for the last couple of years, most of my colleagues have been using FCPX while my students and I have mixing it up–about half on FCPX, half on Adobe Premiere Pro CS6–and most switching back and forth as the job demands. We liked FCPX, but as budgetary things go, we had to give something up, and because the Adobe Creative Suite has something nearly everyone (publications, art, design, computer apps, etc.) can use in some way, we stuck with that as a one-for-all type of solution. Fortunately for my students, the Adobe video applications are outstanding. While I’m sad (sorta) to see FCPX go, here are eight reasons why I’m excited to have Premiere Pro as my primary classroom NLE:

  1. Media Management. It’s straightforward: keep everything where you want it to be. I really like allowing students to organize their projects BEFORE they begin editing. Make a folder. Make subfolders for all the different sorts of assets this project will require: stills, Premiere Project files, After Effects assets, Photoshop files, audio, research notes, email, interview questions, whatever–keep it all together. For me, it just makes sense: here’s a basket of all my stuff for this project, the applications are the tools I use to work with it all. If you want to move that project to another computer or an external disk, just move the folder. Easy.
  2. Easier tape-based work. Yes, we’re still using tape. Not exclusively, but we use a lot of tape in my classroom. My intro classes use tape almost exclusively. And they absolutely hate hate hate the way FCPX works with tape ingest. Crashes every time, and very often doesn’t save. Premiere Pro handles tape ingest much as the old Log and Capture window in legacy FCP did. You can even choose a scratch disk.

    Mpeg Streamclip is a great free app, but I'm happy to eliminate it from our regular workflow.

    Mpeg Streamclip is a great free app, but I’m happy to eliminate it from our regular workflow.

  3. Truly native editing, even with .mts and mpeg files. Sometimes you really don’t want to transcode. (Most of the time, I really don’t want to transcode.) It’s nice to have an application that can actually handle any type of file my students will throw at it.
  4. Adobe Dynamic Link. Import AE comps (like lower thirds) directly into your project. Or Photoshop files. Or Audition projects. In a perfect world, you wouldn’t need to switch applications, but the power of each of these tools is, for me, recompense for a little loss of RAM, and another application window to toggle between. By the way, if you relied on Soundtrack Pro for audio cleanup, you’ll love Audition.
  5. Tracks. Your video is up here. Your audio is down here. They’re either linked or they’re unlinked. Drag it up. Drag it down. Want a J edit? Just do an option+roll edit. No “expanding” or “collapsing” or digging around in compound clips.
  6. Sequence nesting. Tabs in your timeline. (Remember those?) ‘Nuff said.
  7. It’s cross platform.
  8. Open timeline. This may very well be a style thing, but I like the freedom of having “space” in my sequence that isn’t a gap clip. I like to move things around. Sometimes I build edits from the inside out, or from the end to the beginning–not start-to-finish, left-to-right. While some of my students don’t work this way, many do, especially as they’re trying to experiment and get a feel for how a story needs to be told. FCPX kind of demands that you work in a certain way.

There are other things, but those are probably the top. Last thing I’ll say: I honestly like FCPX. It’s fast. It’s easy. Students pick it up very quickly. It simply doesn’t work for my classroom the way Premiere Pro does

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