OK, so I am playing a bit more with Adobe Premiere CS5.5, and this time seeing what it can do with still images…pictures.  Typically I will do my moves on stills in After Effects, or Motion, because the way FCP does them is wrong on many levels.  The “ease in, ease out” is iffy, at best in FCP (never worked for me), and zooming from really far out to really close in isn’t a constant speed.  It starts out fast, and slows down.  I forget the term for this…the speed is constant, but the perception of it is that it starts out fast, then slows down.  Well, After Effects, and Motion, compensate for this and make it look more consistent.  So I wanted to see what Premiere could do.

I brought in some photos I shot of my kids, with my Canon T2i.  The pictures are 5184×3456 pixels.  Now, FCP would choke on these, because they are over the 4000 pixel limit. Not at first, but when you try to render…BAM! “General Error.”  Which tells the editor nothing, unless they know from experience that you can get that if you have pictures that are either CMYK color space, or over 4000 pixels.  Adobe Premiere doesn’t have that limit.  It took in the pictures no problem, and allowed me to work with them, and render them, no problem.

I put a still on the timeline, and out of habit, double clicked on it to open it in the Viewer (preview monitor).  I was glad to note that my FCP muscle memory in how to do that also works in Premiere.  And I was happily surprised to see that all the controls I am used in After Effects were available in Premiere:

If you want to manually move the still about the frame with the mouse, you click on the word MOTION and that gets you cross-hairs, telling you that you can move the pic with your mouse.  Or you can adjust the horizontal and vertical position by clicking on the numbers and moving the mouse to the left or right, increasing or decreasing the numbers.  Either way you want to work.

But the cool thing is that you set your keyframes, adjust it where you want to start and end…and then you can right-click on the keyframes and choose TEMPORAL INTERPOLATION>EASE IN or EASE OUT.  This will start the move on the still gradually, and end on it gradually, rather than the jerky sudden start and stop you normally get…and typically get with FCP (even if you use EASE in and out…because it rarely works right).

So I do my move on my still, I put the playhead just before the still, press play and… it stutters.  Hmmm.  Might be because I am on an older (two generations older) MacBook Pro…2.4Ghz model.  Or because the still is very large.  Or because I am on a DSLR 1080p24 timeline, which already has a yellow bar…meaning that Premiere needs to process the footage as it plays.  Might be a combination of all those factors.  So I made a DVCPRO HD sequence, 720p24.  Brought in some footage in that format, made a new sequence with settings to match…and the footage in the sequence had no color, meaning that Premiere could deal with it natively, without any processing needed on the fly.  I added a still, and moves (the spot with the still had a RED render bar, and it did on the DSLR sequence as well) and pressed play.  It played through without any problems.  So I assume it is because the system already had to deal with processing the DSLR footage.  Things might be smoother on the MacPro.  I’ll have to test that and tack my findings on the end of this post.

OK, so back to the DSLR sequence and the jerky still.  It was only jerky the first time, for when I played through the second and third times, it was fine.  Having a bit of knowledge of Adobe products, I assume it built up a buffer…a RAM PREVIEW of the move.  And I assume the more RAM you have, the more buffer it can build with footage that needs to be processed.  OK, well if I want this to be smooth the first time, and all additional times because I am on a laptop with limited resources, I rendered the still.

And I found out something too…a little bit about how Premiere handles rendering.

I started rendering the picture, but then decided that I wanted to change something, so I cancelled the render. When I did, nothing was rendered.  This might be normal for Premiere people, but you see, coming from Avid and FCP…when we render, if the render is stopped, everything that was rendered up the point you cancel stays rendered.  Even halfway through clips.  Well, I found out that if you render only one clip in Premiere, if you stop the render, the render is lost…all of it.  Premiere only retains renders of full clips before you cancelled.  Meaning, if you have 5 clips to render, and you cancel the render partway through clip #4, clips 1-3 will retain the renders, but clip 4 wil not.  There are no partial renders of clips in Premiere.  All or nothing.

That was fine in this case, I was going to make a change.  But what about LARGE renders?  I guess I am used to FCP and Avid MC where at times rendering everything can be too much to ask the computer, and we need to render in chunks.  You can still do that in Premiere.  But what about large files…with layers of video.  And you start the render…and an hour into it you realize that you want to change something on the last clip.  So you stop the render, and all the progress you made up to that point is lost.  That can be a bummer.  Someone on Twitter (@Salah_Baker) said that “that is when the razor blade becomes your friend.”

There is a logic in keeping one render file per clip…so I won’t fault them for that.  Because when I make a change in FCP to a clip, I have to re-render the whole darn thing anyway.  Avid is a bit better about that, but then again, it manages media and renders better than anything, so…

Still, I’m very happy with how Premiere deals with pictures that I am satisfied.  Better ease in and out, ability to handle large stills..and they are much higher quality than I am used to in FCP.