Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2019 review: A welcome update

 

We all instinctively know that non-professional video production is shifting from camcorders to phones, but it’s even happening in the professional space.

The 2018 Turner Prize winner, a half-hour single-screen video shot on a phone, is a perfect example. In recognition of this trend, Adobe launched a special cut-down version of Premiere Pro in October 2018 called Premiere Rush. Initially, this arrived on iOS, but the desktop version soon followed.

Why mention it now? Because, while Rush has specialised tools for creating video that’s been shot on smartphones, or destined to be viewed on smartphones, all your edited files and media are stored in the cloud via your Adobe account.

It’s fine if all you want to do is edit in vertical and square aspect ratios, add titles and voiceovers, and then publish directly to YouTube, Facebook or Instagram, but to take your work that further step you need Premiere Pro CC 2019.

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Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2019 review: Features

Whereas the desktop Rush saves changes back to the cloud, Premiere Pro saves changes locally, and with that capability comes more sophisticated effects that aren’t compatible with Rush.

Another future-facing format that Premiere Pro CC 2019 can now handle is 180VR, which (as its name suggests) is basically half of the full 360-degree spherical field of view. Interest is growing in this format because it fits better with conventional storytelling techniques than 360VR.

Files in over-under, side-by-side and monoscopic formats can be imported, and you can tell Premiere Pro to reinterpret footage if settings aren’t detected automatically or correctly. You can then export in side-by-side or over-under VR, with support for monoscopic or stereoscopic output. This conforms to Google VR180, but annoyingly there’s no specific encoding preset for this.

Adobe is keeping its eye on other trends, too. In particular, there are exciting new tools for anyone who needs to present data via video. You still need to create graphics templates in After Effects or download them from Adobe Stock, but once imported there’s plenty of fine-tuning available. Many of the design parameters of the underlying vector graphic can be edited via the Essential Graphics or Video Effects panels, although you can’t keyframe these so they change over time.

Best of all, with data-driven templates, you can link to a spreadsheet in CSV or TSV format, then map the columns and rows to parameters in the infographic. If you change the values in the underlying file, the Premiere Pro CC 2019 graphic will update dynamically.

The downside? In practice, I found this buggy, with tab-separated spreadsheets not imported correctly, just comma-separated ones, and the controls didn’t always appear in the Essential Graphics panel for editing. Hopefully this will improve in time.

Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2019 review: Other improvements

Many other enhancements for CC 2019 revolve around the concept of colour grading, which has become increasingly important in video production.

More Lumetri-powered tools are being embedded directly within Premiere Pro, perhaps in response to the growing popularity of Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve. Using the Lumetri Color Curves panels, you can select colours in the frame and grade them individually.

It’s now also possible to add multiple Lumetri colour effects layered on top of each other, toggle them on and off, and edit them separately. To further enhance the colour credentials, there’s a setting in Preferences for toggling Display Colour Management, but this requires GPU acceleration. However, if you have a professional-grade monitor with a calibrated Rec. 709, P3 or Rec. 2020 colour space, Adobe Premiere Pro will display your video correctly.

 

Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2019 review: Audio

Although there are powerful audio tools available if you export your sound into Audition, Adobe has now added a subset into the Premiere Pro Essential Sound panel. For example, there are sliders for intelligently reducing reverb and noise. These tools are nowhere near as capable as those available in Audition, but they’re great for those who don’t have the dedicated app.

As always, a new version of Adobe Premiere Pro CC brings with it support for new file formats. Now you can import and export ARRI Alexa LF, import Sony Venice X-OCN V2 and, on macOS 10.13.4 or later, edit the High Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF) of Apple’s iPhone 8 and X. There are performance and stability improvements for RED digital cinema camera media as well.

Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2019 review: Verdict

While there’s no single killer feature in this release, Adobe has included enough to make this a welcome update. The Adobe Premiere Rush integration could be particularly useful for news organisations that use smartphones in production.

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The data-driven graphics capabilities are still heavily tied to After Effects for original design, but the expanded Lumetri Color capabilities might make you think twice about switching to DaVinci Resolve.