Premiere Pro reliability – doing things by halves

I switched from FCP7 to Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 in November 2010, mostly because of the big steps Adobe were making with GPU accelerated effects and the ability to use media without the need to transcode. At that time FCP7 was still the current and trusted solution for Mac users and with no mention of a new version I had become tired of FCP’s lack of advancement and having to transcode DSLR footage.

I’d been using Premiere Pro as my main NLE for six months when Apple dropped the bombshell that was the release Final Cut Pro X. I felt quite lucky at the time because I was by then comfortable with the Premiere workflow and enjoying the benefits it offered. I had a quick look at FCPX when it was released but like many others I thought it seemed little more than a fancy iMovie so didn’t really give it much thought.

Premiere CS5 initially had a few problems running on the mac, I spent a lot of time highlighting issues both on my blog and directly with Adobe who unlike Apple are very happy to interact with their customers about problems and work with them to solve them. It took a long time for CS5 to settle down, many of the problems were not solved until CS5.5. In the mean time Apple released OSX Lion which interestingly helped with some of the UI problems premiere mac users were suffering with.

For me CS5.5 on Lion got to the point of being fairly stable, it’s weakness continued to be handling projects with a lot of media, I found that scrubbing through a timeline with hundreds of short clips would always result in playback problems so learned to not demand too much from it and avoided scrubbing through clip heavy timelines.

Before long CS6 came along offering some great new features, warp stabiliser in the NLE, more GPU based effects, enhanced FCP like timeline control and a lot more. For what seemed like months before it’s release there were numerous beta testers / bloggers who were raving about CS6 so I decided to jump on board.

I ordered CS6 Production Premium on the day of release and upon installation was immediately  impressed with the improvements. Unfortunately though I soon noticed that CS6 came with a whole new slew of stability issues. Many mac users including myself have had problems with system sound becoming unstable effecting the whole system and when working on a large project I would often see the ‘A Serious Error has Occurred and Premiere needs to close’ message many times throughout each day.

The Adobe forums are packed with users complaining of the same issues, one thread has over 250 posts by people with similar issues with over 17,000 views.

I really like using the Adobe software, but having to go through this whole sequence of Mac instability with each release of the suite is a drag, I’m sure once again Adobe will eventually solve the issues and patch up the Mac version to be almost as good as the PC variant but once again that will likely come along as the .5 version.

Because the .5 releases are full paid releases I have to wonder if Mac users would be better of doing things by halves and upgrading on the CS*.5 releases rather than jumping on the Mac problem solving wagon at the release of the new full suite, certainly from the past couple of versions that would have made a lot of sense.

I’ve actually started looking at FCPX  again which seems to have come on a long way since it’s release. It still requires some transcoding but after two days of playing with it I’ve not seen a single crash which is refreshing after using CS6!

Like any software reliability problems there are many factors involved including hardware used, other software installed etc etc so if you’re experience has been different then feel free to post a comment.


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6 Responses

  1. Stuart Moore says:

    Thanks for this article Paul.

    I’m on CS5.5 where Premiere is so clunky compared to FCP that it’s tempting to upgrade to CS6. 5.5 is fairly stable though.

    Having read about your experience and the massive threads on the Adobe forum I’m definitely going to wait for some updates, if not until CS6.5 is released.

  2. Paul Frederick says:

    I don’t use any C300 footage so I didn’t realize that. However, I heard on Macbreak Studio that MXF support is planned for the next release of FCPX- due anytime now.

    Just read Allister Chapmans site and he said if you are getting lots of crashing in Premiere on a MAC to upgrade to Mountain Lion. It runs much, much smoother according to him!

    • Paul Joy says:

      Thanks Paul. If they do add native support for Canon mxf as in no need to transcode then I would seriously consider giving FCPX a go. If however they just add the ability to transcode without the need for additional tools (more likely) then it won’t be enough for me, I’m determined to stick with the no transcode approach now.

  3. Paul Frederick says:

    I’m glad you are playing with FCPX. I recently bought a maxed out iMAC and Thunderbolt 6TB drive. It SCREAMS!! I NEVER, no NEVER have to transcode anything. FCPX in this new update is pretty great! I was scared to go to an iMAC after using a Mac pro tower but with the Thunderbolt port, and a Thunderbolt Matrox card, I see no reason to use a tower now. (Total cost of new system @$6.5k)! If Apple had released THIS version of FCPX, it wouldn’t have had the backlash it did. Couple it with the free version of Davinci Resolve ( in hindsite, I shoulda got a Blackmagic card for that reason alone) and you have a pretty powerful suite. I’m even learning to properly use (and like) Motion 5! The price is amazing on all this and it’s really very stable and FAST to edit on.

    I do miss After Effects, but again Motion 5 is better at some things then even AE is! Its all a matter of how willing you are to try and learn new software and how open minded you are. I slammed Apple too when FCPX first came out. Now I’m singing their praises, granted it took some major updates to do it, but they have all been free! Does ADOBE do that? :)

    • Paul Joy says:

      I’ve edited a couple of small projects in FCPX and although I really like using it I think I’m going to hold off for now because using C300 footage requires transcoding to movs. It’s all pretty quick but I don;t like the thought of having to double my storage requirements. If apple add Canon mxf support to FCPX I’ll give it another look but for now I’m going to have to stick with Adobe and hope they sort the problems out.

      The most amazing thing about FCPX is the multicam syncing, that works so well and there’s still no way to do that inside Premiere.

  4. John says:

    We considered cs6 but it was just disheartening that mac users continue to get the afterthought from adobe. In april we switch to fcpx and its been pretty great. Don’t be scared of the intelligent assistance apps. They work well.

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