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Professional Video Editing Alternatives:
    Adobe Premiere 6 and
    Ulead Media Studio Pro 6.5 (4/2002)

    by Douglas Dixon

Ulead Media Studio Pro 6.5
Adobe Premiere 6
Your Choice

As you get more experienced with video editing, you may want to step up to a more professional editing tool, such as Adobe Premiere 6 or Ulead Media Studio Pro 6.5. These not only offer more capability and headroom in terms of editing features, but also provide a more comfortable, robust, and customizable environment for getting serious with video.

             

Both Premiere and Media Studio Pro are mature applications that have evolved to provide the same general capabilities. However, they are significantly different in their design philosophy. Like other Adobe tools, Premiere is a tightly integrated editing environment designed to match the working style of professional editors. In the Ulead style, Media Studio Pro, is a suite of five more loosely integrated tools that can provide a broader range of features.

Ulead Media Studio Pro 6.5

Ulead Media Studio Pro 6.5 ($495 list, www.ulead.com), released in August 2001, added advanced features including DV scene detection, MPEG-2 editing, and even DVD authoring. Many of these were first introduced in Ulead's consumer applications, which tend to evolve faster, and provide the opportunity to break in new technology.

   

The first Media Studio Pro application, Video Capture, captures clips from the usual analog or DV sources. Premiere uses a Capture dialog window within the main application, so you can manage the project settings end-to-end. Media Studio Pro adds support for DV capture beyond the 4 GB Windows limit, direct capture to MPEG-1 or MPEG-2, DV scene detection, and helpful Vectorscope and Waveform monitors for color calibration.

The core Media Studio Pro application is Video Editor, with the basics including a Production Library to organize assets, an optional Storyboard to arrange clips, and a multi-track Timeline where you edit the production. Other useful features include native MPEG editing, instant playback from the Timeline, and batch rendering of multiple projects.

Media Studio Pro then provides three integrated applications in which you can prepare clips, without needing to render. The Audio Editor lets you mix, adjust, and apply filters to audio clips. CG Infinity generates vector-based motion graphics for animated titles and video overlays. And Video Paint is for rotoscoping (or painting) effects directly over video frames, including assists for animating effects over motion video, and recording painting sequences as reusable macros.

Adobe Premiere 6

Adobe Premiere 6 ($549 list, www.adobe.com), released in December 2000 (with a 6.1 upgrade in June 2001), brought important new features such as DV capture and Web video output. It also added significant usability enhancements to make it quite accessible for non-professional users. These included a storyboard organizer, palette windows used to organize filters and effects, and a powerful history capability to selectively undo and redo editing operations.

   

Premiere provides a single environment that is focused on optimizing the editing process. It supports predefined and customized workspace layouts for different editing needs, and single-press keyboard shortcuts. It also provides precise control of editing tracks in the timeline.

You can edit audio clips directly on the Timeline and apply audio effects in the same way as video effects. Premiere also has a powerful Audio Mixer to combine and adjust all audio tracks simultaneously.

Premiere is integrated with Adobe's suite of tools for graphics and media professionals, and shares a common interface design. Although the program has a relatively simple Title window for formatting text and graphics for use as titles, you also can import material from Illustrator and Photoshop, complete with alpha channel mattes, and even edit the original content after importing. Similarly, you can animate overlay tracks directly in Premiere using the Motion Settings dialog, or export to After Effects for advanced compositing, animation, and visual effects.

Premiere has an impressive heritage as the market-leading professional video editing software package, on both Windows and Macintosh platforms. The benefits of its popularity include the large number of resources available for it, including books, training courses, user groups, and on-line discussion groups. Premiere is also bundled with a wide array of video capture and real-time editing hardware, providing a variety of upgrade paths to more power.

Your Choice

Finally, both Premiere 6 and Media Studio Pro 6.5 can export productions in a wide variety of desktop and Web video and audio formats. Premiere includes a bundled version of Discreet Media Cleaner for additional formats, and can export Web markers and links.

Media Studio Pro provides the DVD Authoring module, a template-driven tool for creating productions on DVD, VCD, or SVCD. You mark scenes in your video production, select a menu design template, preview the navigation, and then output.

Since Premiere 6 and Media Studio Pro 6.5 have such different approaches to video editing, the choice between them really depends on your preferred working style, each program's interoperability with other digital media tools, and your needs for specific unique features.

As an example of this difference in style, while Premiere carefully organizes project, system, and device options in logical Settings dialogs, Ulead takes a much more open approach to exposing the innards of your system. Many dialogs offer a "Properties" button that will display all kinds of fascinating nitty-gritty information and options. This access to the internals alone can make Media Studio Pro a requirement for inquisitive users.

Choose Premiere 6 for its tight integration with other Adobe tools, and for its careful attention to optimizing the editing process, with a refined interface and customizable workspace.

Choose Media Studio Pro 6.5 for a more component-based approach to the editing process, and access to newer technology such as MPEG-2 and DVD.

You can download trial versions of both products to experiment with them, although they require rather large downloads (at least 50 MB).

If you also need an IEEE 1394 / DV capture board, you can save money by buying a board bundled with Premiere or Media Studio Pro. Products like the ADS Technologies Pyro DV line offer a 1394 card with a full version of Premiere or Media Studio Pro for around $280, or less than the street price of the software alone (www.adstech.com). Adobe also offers the Digital Video Collection bundle, with Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, and After Effects for $1199 (street).

References

Adobe Premiere 6
    www.adobe.com

Ulead Media Studio Pro 6.5 
    www.ulead.com

(Originally published in PC Magazine.)