cool stuff and things

I'll Never Use Premiere Again & My New Editing Software

October 23, 2017

My first exposure to editing was over 15 years ago. The software was Vegas Video (way back when it was still Sonic Foundry). A friend had used Vegas for his audio work (Vegas was originally created as an audio editor), and was able to give me a quick crash course. I would say it probably didn't take any more than 10 minutes to learn the basic fundamentals. Another friend had a digital video camera (a novelty back then), and we took it out and shot some video of me just driving my car around for a bit. Nothing exciting or elaborate, I just needed something to edit. I used the video and edited it into a piece I called, "car chase". Although there wasn't much of a chase. Just me driving and some very quick and crude After Effects CG elements comped in.

The video itself is nothing special. What is noteworthy is that I had never edited before, had never used Vegas before, and yet was able to sit down and with relatively little instruction, and in relatively little time, put together a complete video edit, an audio edit and mix--complete with music and sound effects (no production sound was used, it was all added), and even apply a color grade (however awful it may have been.) At the time I found Vegas to be incredibly intuitive, and very easy to work with, and it continued to be my editing software of choice for the next decade and beyond.

As I did more editing I tried other editors, but always went back to Vegas. I first decided to give Premiere a try long, long ago. Being an Adobe user, and a fan of After Effects and Photoshop, I thought maybe Premiere would be a better tool than Vegas. I was so, so wrong. Now, this was many years ago, but the experience was so horrific it would be more than a decade before I would even consider installing, let alone opening Premiere again. But, eventually, I was forced to...here's why:

Vegas is great. Super easy. I can crank out edits in no time at all. Where I would get into trouble is with more complex projects.  While I could edit quite fast in Vegas, as my projects became more advanced, I kept hitting the limitations of the software. For one thing, I had a lot of problems exporting usable edl's from Vegas when my footage required other software for more advanced color correction and grading work. This and other snags led me to see what other options might be out there.

Within the past year or so I very reluctantly decided to give Premiere another try. But... I had read feature films were using it (such as Gone Girl and Deadpool). And, I have an Adobe Creative Cloud​ subscription, so I could download Premiere CC for free. So...OK. Why not. I have to admit, it was a huge improvement over the clunky, virtually unusable version I had played with a decade earlier. However, things were still not very intuitive, and things that took 1 or 2 clicks in Vegas took 3, 4 or 5 in Premiere. It was definitely more powerful, but I found it slower. Less efficient.

For instance, if I want to apply a cross dissolve to a video clip in Vegas, I simply drag the video clip and overlap it on another clip in the save video track. It creates an instant cross fade where they overlap. If you're doing a lot of cross-fades, this is incredibly useful. Of course, you can turn that feature off. But to my knowledge, the option to use auto cross-fades simply does not exist at all in Premiere. So, you must drag a clip up to where you want the cross-fade to occur, then right click, chose apply default transition and then it will apply the cross-fade. In Vegas, all this is done in a fraction of the time with a simple click, drag, release:

This could just be a matter of personal preference. I know some editors would hate having an auto cross-fade active. In all honesty, depending on what you're editing you many not have the need for many cross-fades. Whether you like this feature or not, at least Vegas gives you the option. I use cross-fades a lot in many of my edits. So I happen to like it. Less clicks = faster editing. Another thing which is an endless source of frustration in Premiere for me is trying to sync up audio, or just moving audio around the timeline. This is not an issue of personal preference, but one of basic functionality. (Or lack thereof.) Since I often am incorporating music or sound FX, I often need to sync this added audio in my edit projects. In Vegas, this is easy. (As I mentioned, it was built originally designed as an audio editor.) You click on the audio, and you drag it to where you need it to be. You can use the wave forms as a visual guide to quickly get things in place.

In Premiere...not so easy. The problem in Premiere is that as soon as you start to drag the clip, the visual preview of the waveform freezes, and does not drag with it.  Below you can see what I mean:

This may not seem like a big deal. But having the waveform preview is incredibly helpful when you're trying to sync up sound, which I do a lot. Having it disappear and not be interactive when you move the track almost completely defeats the purpose of it being there at all. I can think of absolutely no reason for this to happen, except a desire on Adobe's part to force you to use Audition, their audio mixing software.  I can appreciate Adobe not including the functionality of a full audio tool suite inside their video editor, and having separate, dedicated software for more advanced audio editing and mixing. But trying to sync up audio with video is a very basic function in editing. And they have made it more difficult than it needs to be. Every time I have to work with audio in Premiere I lose my mind over this.

There are other things I could complain about. But the bottom line is, I simply don't like Premiere and never have. Yes, others seem to like it and it's used by professionals, and used to edit feature films. I love Photoshop, Lightroom, and After Effects. But Premiere -- I have just never been a fan.

So, what have I replaced Vegas and Premiere with? The answer: DaVinci Resolve. Specifically, the latest version: 14.

Resolve was originally designed for Hollywood’s elite colorists. It has been used for color grading on countless TV shows and features. Its tools for visual color manipulation are some of the best, and there is simply no comparing the color grading tools in Premiere and Vegas to those of Resolve.

But we're talking about editing, not color work. Well, the folks over at Blackmagic have been very busy updating and improving the editing capabilities within Resolve. While I've been impressed with the progress, I never got the feeling they were quite there yet, until just recently. I had some drone footage I wanted to edit together. The footage was shot in a flat color profile, and would require grading. After a few attempts, I quickly realized doing the grade in Premiere was not going to give me the image quality I was looking for. I would want to get the most out of this footage, and to get the highest quality grade I'd need to use Resolve.

Once I was in my recently updated Resolve 14, I start poking around in the edit tab to see what was new. It had been a while since I looked into the updates. I had a thought: As a test, and a way to put the editor through its paces, I'll just try and do this whole thing start to finish in Resolve.

I was pleasantly surprised by how far they've come with the editing side of the software. And they have made an incredible leap in their audio capabilities since the last time I had tried it out. That had been one of the things holding me back in the past. But now, with the integration of Fairlight, Resolve looks more to be the one-stop for editing, color and sound I've been looking for. While I haven't had a chance to really dive in and play with Fairlight's audio tools, what I've seen and read is quite exciting. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Resolve's waveform preview does not disappear when dragging it across the timeline. So that's a good sign.

I was able to easily edit my footage, apply a music track (this project required little to no audio editing though), and could do all my color grading right there in the same software as well. The experience was great. The editor now feels capable and powerful. While this wasn't a complicated project, I didn't run into any snags or issues. Oh, and another thing I should mention is the playback in Resolve was much better than in Premiere. A new high performance playback engine allowed me to work with the 4k footage without making proxies. Playback stuttered at times, but nothing too bad. (Resolve has a great proxy work flow anyway.)

And now one of the most important things. Cost. Resolve has 2 versions, a free version and then the Studio version, which includes a few extra features. I bought a Blackmagic 4k Production Camera, and included was a free license for the full Studio version of Resolve. At the time, I believe it was Resolve v10, and a $999 value. With it, I also get free upgrades! But, the price has fairly recently been reduced quite substantially. You can now by a license for the Studio version for a mere $299. The latest and greatest Vegas 15 (my version is 12), will run you $399. For Premiere, you will have to have a Creative Cloud subscription costing about $19.99/month for a single app (that's about $240/year, for ever), or if you want the full suite (Photoshop, After Effects, Lightroom, etc), it will run you $49.99/month (that's about $600/year, for ever). So, Resolve crushes them both as far as value, since you can download their free version for, well, free. And if you want to upgrade to Resolve Studio the paid version, you can pay for the software and own it forever instead of renting it forever. Which is essentially what Adobe forces you to do with subscription-based licensing.

I think I'll always be more comfortable in Vegas because it's what I learned on. But investing a little time into Resolve to master its edit controls and workflow will be well worth the time with the amazing updates they've made. I'm really excited to start doing more work in Resolve, and make it my one stop shop for all my video projects. It's fast, powerful, and affordable as well. You really can't go wrong. Give it a shot!

For more information on Resolve, check out their website. To see my first edit in Resolve, check out the clip below.

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