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CPNSpotlight: Adobe Systems

Better by Adobe

An Oral History of Adobe Premiere Software Evolution: The First 25 Years

"With Adobe, it’s pretty clean and fast to get from, ‘This is what I want,’ to, ‘There it is.'"5/05/2017 7:00 AM Eastern

BILL ROBERTS
Senior Director, Product Management, Digital Video and Audio, Adobe

“The early 1990s saw the start of a revolution in digital technology that would transform the world of film, television, and video production—and continues to do so today.

“Adobe Premiere, released in 1991, was part of that revolution. Instead of a traditional video editing system comprised of expensive hardware, Premiere was software-only and could run on an affordable computer. With Adobe Premiere, the user could place clips on the timeline, add effects, transitions, and a soundtrack. It looks simple by today’s standards, but it opened the door to anyone who wanted to learn the art of visual storytelling.”

DAVE HELMLY
Senior Manager, Professional Video and Audio, Adobe

“Around the time of version 4 [when Premiere became Premiere Pro] more NLEs were coming onto the scene, and at the same time Adobe was expanding with more products. With the release of version 5, we started merging different code bases and different features between Mac and Windows to make the features as equal as we could on the two platforms. In version 5, as we were getting involved with more products, Premiere probably didn’t receive as much attention as the earlier versions had. As we went into version 6 and beyond, it really took off.

“One of the things that strikes me is how we address future feature sets of Premiere. We let the customers drive that. Whether you learn about some of the newer projects [edited with Premiere] like Deadpool, Hail, Caesar! and Gone Girl—and hear from the more recent broadcast customers—you realize Premiere stands out because the customer drives the development.”

JASON LEVINE
Principal Evangelist, Creative Cloud, Adobe

“I became involved with Premiere Pro right at the time when we transitioned to Pro in early 2003. This is also a time when we were solely focused on the PC side of things. We’d left the Mac platform for a while.

“In the early 2000s, we definitely had a following largely at events—specifically event videography. I’d say all sorts of corporate, non-commercial videography. Today, when you say Premiere Pro to someone, one of the first things they might say is ‘Oh, right. Deadpool’ or they might talk about the Coen Brothers and James Cameron. In those days, we didn’t really have that kind of high-profile success under our belt.”

BILL ROBERTS
Senior Director, Product Management, Digital Video and Audio, Adobe

“My background is originally as an editor, so the biggest issue I had with the product initially wasn’t the engine or what it could do; it was the way it was presented to users. In my opinion, it felt more like it was presented in a designer’s way rather than in a way that would enable an editor to do his or her job very quickly, day in and day out.

“We really pushed to focus the team on the people who were at the vanguard of creativity in the industry, and that’s an iterative process. You can’t just walk up to an Academy Award-winning editor and say, ‘Hey, help us come up with the world’s best editing interface.’

“What we needed was a really good core team: Dave Kuspa, who is an insanely talented user interface/user interaction designer and Al Mooney, working with the engineering team, would implement features that editors were asking for.

“We’ve seen resolutions scale from SD to HD to 4K to 8K, and on the acquisition side everything has changed, including frame rate. It was with CS6 that we delivered the first framework of the modern Premiere Pro UI and that was definitely a big moment. Architecturally it was harder to do the engine, but the UI and user interaction model changing is more of a visceral statement to people who sit in front of the software all day long.”

AL MOONEY
Senior Product Manager, Digital Video and Audio, Adobe

“In 2009, 2010, we were pretty much the third player in the market. We didn’t have the large customer base we wanted, and the honest truth is, we didn’t have the application we wanted and knew we could build. 2010 was a key turning point because that’s when we first shipped CS5 with the Mercury Playback Engine—a branding term for a whole bunch of technology, like 64-bit and multi-thread optimization and GPU optimization, which is key and enabled us to be able to handle the challenging formats of the day.

“That gave us a platform on which to build an NLE that could handle the even more challenging formats going well into the future. It still had a long way to go to get to its current state, but that was certainly a major development.”

VASHI NEDOMANSKY
Feature Film Editor

“There were some dark days [in the beginning] where [Premiere] would just crash for no reason or would be unresponsive and it was frustrating. But I could see incremental changes coming down and they started getting rid of the bugs and offering features that no other system had. I think the biggest moment for Adobe and Premiere Pro, when everyone realized how powerful and flexible it was, was the introduction of the Mercury Engine.

“My last five feature films were edited in Premiere Pro. Once I became really fluent in Premiere Pro, I was brought into Gone Girl to teach [editors] Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall and [assistant editor] Tyler Nelson and their whole team everything under the roof so they could adjust their workflows and make a seamless transition. And then I taught the Deadpool post-production team how to use Premiere Pro. I’ve been using Premiere Pro for 10 years and luckily it gets better and better for me—both as software and in terms of the workflow.”

LAURA WILLIAMS ARGILLA
Director of Product Management, Professional Video, Adobe

“I’ve spent my entire [17 years at Adobe] either directly, or in connected ways, working with the Premiere Pro product and customer base. The product’s reputation in the market wasn’t that strong [when I started]. We were coming in third in the market. It was seen more as a consumer application or being used at kind of second-tier delivery work. Premiere is now used in motion pictures, television shows and news production around the world. It’s also being used by a growing group of content creators. Most top YouTubers use Premiere. It’s become the number one NLE on the market.

“And there is still a lot about Premiere that a lot of users are only starting to investigate: The Lumetri color panel is a great example. I come from an editing background. I’m not a colorist, but with the Lumetri panel and progressive disclosure, I can go as deep into color correction as I want without getting in over my head. If I do have more of the colorist’s skills, I can dive further and further into that panel.”

VINNIE HOBBS
Music Video, Feature, Documentary Editor

“The ability to work with raw R3D, ARRI, and other video formats natively in Premiere Pro lets me meet my deadlines faster than ever before. I can also put any older formats into Premiere Pro with no rendering or waiting and that’s helped me so much. With Premiere Pro, I can focus on the creativity without being held back by technical roadblocks.” To learn more, go to blogs.adobe.com/creativecloud/kendrick-lamars-alright-smash-hit-music-video-edited-with-adobe-premiere-pro-cc-2/

KIRK BAXTER
Film Editor

“[Director David Fincher’s post team] switched to Premiere Pro because David, [assistant editor] Tyler [Nelson] and Peter Mavromates, the post-production supervisor, said this is what we need to do in order to streamline our process, bring everything in house, and make post-production cheaper so we can do more, faster, and be smarter about the whole process.

“The interface is great and it works as well as, and sometimes better, than previous programs I’ve worked on. It does everything that I need to do and it does it really well.” To learn more, go to blogs.adobe.com/creativecloud/kirk-baxter-ace-leads-edit-of-gone-girl-latest-box-office-hit-for-david-fincher/

SIMON BRYANT
Documentary, Concert Film Editor

“The films I work on are often concert films with documentary elements [for bands including the Rolling Stones, Coldplay and One Direction]. When we first came to Premiere Pro, initially the first thing that struck us was how easy it was to pick up and how intuitive it was. That was a really good start but it also felt like it was really taking ideas a bit further than the others. The multicamera function, which is something I use a great deal, was by far the most sophisticated and advanced implementation that we’ve seen, and it opened up a lot of possibilities to smooth work flows that we still use every day.

“We work with anything from 9 to 48 cameras and we shoot a lot of slow motion, so locking time codes is essential. We have assistants at post houses that will proxy the footage and put clips into groups. I approach each project differently, chipping away at it, and when it finally looks right it’s quite a magical moment.” To learn more, visit blogs.adobe.com/creativecloud/simon-bryant-rocking-concerts-on-screen/

KATHARINE MCQUERREY
Film Editor

“We met with Adobe a year before we started editing Hail, Caesar! There were certain tools we had to have because Joel and Ethan [Coen] work in a very specific way. We gave our feedback to Adobe and they were great about including some of the things we felt were necessary to cut comfortably, such as support for embedded keycode, larger waveforms, and instant clip updates in the Media Browser.

“A couple of months before Hail, Caesar! started I taught myself Premiere Pro using web tutorials and other resources. It was a remarkably smooth and seamless process. We thought we’d need two or three weeks to get Joel up to speed, but within two days it felt like the cutting process was normal.” To learn more, go to blogs.adobe.com/creativecloud/filmmaking-techniques-in-hail-caesar/

TIM MILLER
Film Director

“When I got the gig for Deadpool, I talked to a lot of people in the industry. I’m not ashamed to admit that I don’t know everything so I went out and I asked questions. One of the people I asked was David Fincher. Coincidentally, he’d just finished using Premiere Pro CC to cut Gone Girl and told me what a good experience he had. The idea that Premiere Pro CC was built from scratch with filmmakers who are very picky and discerning made me think that it was going to be a product that would have some legs.

“What [our post team needed] in an editing package [was] really an uninterrupted flow between the idea and the output. You have to be able to do basics really well. You have to be able to put together footage, do cuts only and do quick dissolves in a really organized and efficient way.

“And you want it to be solid, you can’t have it crashing all the time. With Adobe, it’s pretty clean and fast to get from, ‘This is what I want,’ to, ‘There it is.’” To learn more, go to blogs.adobe.com/creativecloud/deadpool-comes-alive-with-explosive-action-and-dark-comedy/

Deadpool, edited by Julian Clarke. Photo by Joe Lederer, Copyright 2015 Marvel & Subs, Twentieth Century Fox Corporation

Hail, Ceasar!, edited by Joel and Ethan Coen (as Roderick Jaynes), with additional editing by Katharine McQuerrey. Film stills By Alison Rosa, courtesy of Universal Pictures

Gone Girl, edited by Kirk Baxter. Photo by Merrick Morton, Copyright Twentieth Century Fox and Regency Enterprises

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