Smooth Drive Adobe Premiere Pro

Submitted by Robert Alstead on Mon, 02/16/2004 - 16:00

The release of Adobe Premiere Pro on 6 July 2003 marked a new direction of the long-running video editing software. Critics bemoaned the lack of a version for Macs (Final Cut Pro has forced Adobe out of the market here), and a few reviewers have commented that Premiere had problems with some AMD processors or was "unresponsive" on even high end machines. But by and large this was seen as a big improvement on the previous incarnation of the video-editing software, in terms of use and in terms of results.

Adobe Premiere Pro has a slew of features: real-time editing, nestable timelines, redesigned editing interface, improved audio support, advanced colour correction, high definition support, and more that I will go into when I review Premiere Pro in a few weeks time.

Of couse, before you leap into the world of desktop video editing with Adobe Premiere Pro you are going to need some fairly serious kit. Many problems that arise with video editing are related to inadequate or incompatible hardware. Adobe's recommended specs follow at the end of this article and has more on compatible third party hardware. (There is also a good help section for those who have loaded up Premiere Pro and are having problems.)

But looking beyond the list of recommended hardware, what are the main things to bear in mind in building a video editing platform running Premiere Pro?

The first thing that comes to my mind is to make sure you have plenty of memory. Video, particularly high resolution video, creates huge files that require lots of RAM to keep things running smoothly. Adobe recommends 1GB. Their minimum 256MB looks frankly highly optimistic. What else?

I talked to Colin Smith, technical resource manager at Adobe Systems in Canada.

"The first thing that we always tell our customers is to not do it themselves," says Smith. The approach he recommends, and certainly the simplest, is buying from Adobe certified resellers and system integrators that specialise in the video market.

"These people handpick - especially on the Windows side where it's so much harder - they handpick manufacturers CPU, this internal video card, this drive, this monitor, and all the stuff works together because they tested it. We know in the Windows world that because you can put together a computer for the cost of a dozen donuts doesn't mean it's going to work."

For those on a tight budget, he suggests buying video editing systems from name brands like Compaq, HP and Dell even if you have to pay that bit extra (he says that the fact that sometimes a version of Premiere Pro is bundled with the system is an added incentive). He suggests a system for Premiere Pro can be bought in the region of a thousand pounds or US$1,500 from Dell.

For those who feel confident in their ability to customise their own systems, Smith advises that you don't cut corners where the hard drive is concerned.

"For both Mac and Windows the number one biggest consideration is the speed of the hard drive and the size of the drive and that is where most people have stumbling blocks. They have slower drives and if you have a slow drive, as you are capturing or editing video, you could be stuttering or losing frames and there is no way to cure that. None." Adobe recommends a minimum drive speed of 7200rpm, and there is no limit to the size of disc space for your needs.

"If someone was doing this at home, an 80 gigabyte drive is good. They're fairly inexpensive these days. In a professional solution people are going into terabyte storage now," says Smith.

His advice to those who are thinking of using one large partitioned disc with the system on one partition and the capture disc on the other is "don't".

"It's not even worth trying video unless you have an extra drive. If you think about it the (hard drive) heads have to move not only for running the video but running the operating system and running Premiere at the same time... partitioning doesn't really do it. It just makes it look like two drives. Really someone needs to get an extra drive either internal or external and capture and edit that way," says Smith.

The other consideration is the operating system. "'98 is definitely fraught with problems - it's not built for running video," he says. "XP is so much better at video."

Premiere Pro was overhauled to take advantage of the latest developments in the Windows operating system. "The video engine inside was completely rewritten from scratch, the application itself was rewritten, that's why we didn't call it Premiere 7, because it really truly is a brand new version, and the next one will be Premiere Pro 2, not Premiere 8."

Adobe Premiere Pro system requirements

Intel® Pentium® III 800MHz processor (Pentium 4 3.06GHz recommended) or AMD Athlon XP or faster processor
Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional or Home Edition with Service Pack 1
256MB of RAM installed (1GB or more recommended)
800MB of available hard-disk space for installation
Microsoft DirectX-compatible sound card (multichannel ASIO-compatible sound card for surround sound support recommended)
CD-ROM drive Compatible DVD recorder (DVD-R/RW+R/RW) required for Export to DVD
1,024x768 32-bit color video display adapter (1,280x1,024 or dual monitors recommended)
For DV: OHCI-compatible IEEE 1394 interface and dedicated large-capacity
7200RPM UDMA 66 IDE or SCSI hard disk or disk array
For third-party capture cards: Adobe® Premiere® Pro certified capture card
Optional: ASIO audio hardware device; surround speaker system for 5.1 audio playback

More info at