Premiere and Me – Sorry, John.

MGI VideoWave

Or, why I’m team #steveavid.

Or, why I’m kind of weird about using Premiere.

I started nonlinear editing when I was about 13 or 14. At that time, I had a Sony handicam that recorded to Hi8 tape. For a time, I used the software that came with my camera, MGI Videowave. Before long, I outgrew it.

First version of Premiere I used!

I looked for something else and the internet bestowed upon me Adobe Premiere 6.5. It was about 2002 and I really wished I could get Final Cut Pro, but alas I had a PC with no hope in sight for a Mac, so I did what I had to do. For the most part, Premiere served me well and allowed me to really learn the craft of editing – the real important parts, I mean. Like story and pacing and all that stuff.
But man, it really sucked. There were a lot of factors at play contributing to this, but the deeper I got into Premiere, the more it sucked the big one. It was extremely unstable, unintuitive, and took forever.
Eventually I went back into the abyss and upgraded to Adobe Premiere Pro 1.0. It was a lot better at first.

Me and Premiere had some good times and made some silly stuff.

Then I met Final Cut in person when I was about 16 and my world was slightly shattered. The interface was 100x more professional and robust. Everything about Final Cut Pro was better and faster and high end. It was like looking into the Matrix or the face of God or both. And at this time, Adobe had discontinued Premiere for the Mac. It was a very malleable time in my development as an editor, and I saw Premiere as this dead end, half-wit product that wouldn’t be used much, whereas Final Cut was the bright and shining future.

The end comes with my senior Spanish class. As a class, we had all decided to make a video about murdering our teacher (she condoned this and helped us – it turned into a 20 minute mystery about discovering who killed the teacher). I was trying to finish it to show on the last day of school – my last day of high school. I had never had a 20 minute timeline in Premiere before and things started to go absolutely haywire. Everything was crashing. Titles weren’t rendering correctly. Audio was glitching. My project was corrupt. I had always had issues with Premiere during these early times but they were manageable. Here? Not so much.

A Livejournal post I wrote during a render.

I ended up staying up all night rebuilding the entire project. I didn’t sleep at all before my last day of K-12 school forever. That night, I swore that I would never use Adobe Premiere ever again. Too many issues over several years culminating in that big fat fiasco, and them abandoning the Mac OS platform altogether spelled out bad news to me. I distinctly remember 5AM hitting, and me saying NEVER EVER EVER will I use this software again.

Graduation money acquired. Mac acquired. Then college started. Software? Adobe Premiere Pro. On PC.

I should have researched schools more.

But I went on to learn that everyone hated using Premiere and they only used it because they got it cheap from Adobe. None of the instructors really knew how to use it, and I was welcome to use Final Cut if I wanted to. After all, the classes were about theory, not technical application. So I bought Final Cut Express for $200 and edited in it for two years of college with no guidance.

After that, the PCs in the school turned into iMacs with Final Cut Pro. I transitioned away from Express to using the school Macs all the time. The instructors still didn’t know how to use it.

(I really should have researched schools more. I mean really? I was never taught ANY technical hands on application of any value. I know school is more about the other stuff but COME ON, someone should have known something. My advanced video class my final year of college was the worst. He taught us technical stuff — but half-assed. A student asked if it was possible to edit into the timeline from the source window without bringing in the audio. The instructor said to bring in the audio and delete it. Hey, thanks for taking my tuition money, IU.)

I was legit on fire with FCP. In college I had also been exposed to Avid for two semesters pretty full on, but my school never bought one and I couldn’t afford one, so I had to pick an accessible NLE to get really good at. I chose FCP. I studied the hell out of it. I didn’t want to be held back by the technical application when I was trying to be creative. I wanted to be a freaking FCP jedi. I wanted to have at least one really solid marketable technical skill where people could hire me and know I could do anything they asked. I liked Avid a lot, but there was no opportunity for me to get good at it, so I didn’t.

Then I got my first job. NLE? PREMIERE. Seriously?

I spent about 7.5 months editing in Premiere again after going head first into FCP and learning every nook and cranny of it. Of course, the programs are close enough so that all that learning in FCP really benefitted me. Using Premiere now was different than in high school obviously. It was a better program (and back on a Mac). It crashed on me, but not as often. But I got to examine it in a different way than before since I knew how I liked things to operate. Things annoyed me. Two clicks when there should be one. Interface layout funkiness. Performance issues. Instability. For the first time I was really getting to compare things fairly. I admitted to myself that Premiere wasn’t THAT bad (at CS3), and really understood that a tool is a tool –  but it still drove me absolutely crazy in its glaring flaws. It was kind of like rekindling a relationship you know just isn’t going to work.

Then before a big project, I switched everything to Final Cut and I haven’t used Premiere full on since then. I was full on in FCP for the future and beyond.

And then FCPX hit and messed everything up. Fudge.

The infamous Supermeet 2010

So now we’re all sort of in NLE limbo, seeing Premiere CS6 on the horizon looking pretty good, watching Avid MC get even better and more open, and waving to FCPX in the distance, waiting (or hoping? or doubting.) that Apple will turn it around. And as we sit here, I’m team #steveavid.

I can’t help it, Premiere. FCP betrayed me and Avid has been the rock all these years, and for the section of the industry I find myself drawn toward, it seems that it’ll be sticking around a long time. You may be all new and exciting, you may have big promises and really take the editing scene by storm, but I find myself drawn to the strong presence in the background that’s been waiting to hug me when I was ready to come back. And I find it really difficult to forgive and forget all those errors and glitches and inconsistencies over the years. All the rendering and rendering and rendering. The time I was abandoned entirely. But you say “Premiere has changed! Look at this new shininess. See here? It’s a new person!’

But does anyone ever really change?

I hope this puts my strange resentment toward Premiere into perspective. We’ve had a history, and it’s been a rocky one. Will I use Premiere CS6? Probably, if a project calls for it. Like they all say, a tool is a tool. It looks great and #johnadobe seems like a cool dude and we’ll be hanging out. But seriously, my new allegiance is with #steveavid.

UPDATE: No, I’m not using Premiere anymore unless I have no choice. See explanation. That’s messed up. The heck, Adobe?