What kind of computer hardware do I need to take advantage of Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 Mercury Playback Engine

When I first saw the previews for Adobe Premiere Pro CS5, my jaw dropped to the floor.

Now, before I go any further, you need to realize that I’m a Windows user, and the proud owner of a Panasonic HVX200, which does not work easily with Final Cut Pro (unless you do a Log and Transfer from the original media). With Premiere, you don’t even need the LASTCLIP.TXT file, or anything. You just drag and drop it and Premiere links those files for ya (since CS3 version).

Now that my wife got a Canon 7D for her photography business, that means 2 good filmmaking capable cameras in our arsenal… BUT, with any version of Premiere prior to CS4 cutting her footage was nigh impossible without transcoding to something a little less compressed. HVX footage has always been a breeze to cut using Premiere Pro, even at 1080i24pa, but as soon as we tried her stuff… ouch! The audio would keep going but the image would freeze for a couple of seconds then another frame would come up… not pretty.

Then, Adobe came out with CS5 and the Mercury Playback Engine, and it seemed too good to be true… especially when you read the graphics boards they officially support… dismay… what’s the point? You have to buy new hardware to use CS5… or so I thought.

After talking with Brandon Boggs of Austin Film Meet and Humblebeepc.com (an Austin-based computer consulting company), I came to realize that there are people out there with simple Core 2 Duo 2GHz machines with 2 or 3GBs of RAM (the more the merrier) that do have CS5 installed and it runs decently… even when you’re handling NATIVE H.264 compressed MP4 files from the Canon 7D. Granted, you must have a 64-bit version of Windows to even run Premiere, but you don’t need to crazy hardware they’re talking about on their site… you can probably run on your current rig and be plenty well served. Obviously, the more horsepower you have, the quicker you’ll get your work done, but at least you don’t have to break the bank and pawn off a kidney to edit 7D or 5D footage…

Now, Red Raw footage… well, that’s a whole other subject… you better get some bigger horsepower for that’ cos the problem there isn’t compression… it’s filesize… but even so, all you need to do according to Brandon, is create a project in a lower resolution so instead of using the 4K file, Premiere will create a proxy (this is part of the Red Raw codec) at the lower, easier to handle resolution, and then, when you’re done, convert it to full 4K res and export it.

Now, I hate to be a hater (LOL) but I can thumb my nose at Final Cut users who do not have this capability… actually, there are so many other reasons to drop Final Cut and go with Adobe… so, if you haven’t selected a platform… pick Adobe Premiere Pro… and then shoot me an e-mail because I’m always on the lookout for editors who use Premiere instead of Final Cut!

Val Gameiro