Premiere CS5 backwardation and woes

Like any software, CS5 has its share of problems that still have not been properly addressed by any patch available. I’ve already written about psd files with alpha channel – BTW, this effect for some reason carries through if you export to MPEG-2, and is strangely (fortunately) absent while exporting to other codecs. So again you have to render through an intermediate, wasting time and processor power. And both are money.

Now I would like to mention two changes from CS3 to CS4/CS5 that I actually consider devolution and backwardation (yeah, I like complex words and neologisms :)). One again applies mostly, if not only, to Blackmagic card users. In CS3, if you wanted to get a preview via Decklink on sequences that were not standard Blackmagic sequences (and for many reasons that I might some day unravel I was not able to use these in my projects), you just untwirled a triangle menu in sequence monitor, selected playback options, and chose Blackmagic Decklink, or whatever other card you had. You only got deinterlaced preview, but it was still better than nothing. This feature has been neatly removed from CS4/5. By itself it’s not necessarily a big deal, just use Blackmagic sequences which thankfully got fixed in the new versions.

But now combine it with one of the would-be greatest improvements in CS4 – multiple sequences per project, each with different possible codec settings. Wonderful feature, isn’t it? I absolutely love it… except the times when I don’t. And the problems start with old projects. I want preview for my DVCPRO50 project that I did two years ago. What should I do? I go and create Blackmagic sequence with proper settings, fine. I copy all the clips from old sequence, and paste it into the new one… Hey, where did my audio track filters and automation go? Can I copy those? Not really.

Workaround? Paper and pencil, jot down your audio filters settings, each of them, and manually apply them to the new sequence. You got track automation? Sorry, no joy…

Now imagine you work with multiple editors, and one of them does not have Blackmagic card installed. He opens the project, and the BM sequence is automatically converted to desktop rendering (why the hell can’t I convert it manually back or to any other preset? it looks like it is possible). Fine. Now the project comes back to me, and I have desktop sequence with no preview. Great… Unfortunately, it’s a real-life scenario.

And now, another surprise. I try to render the project, only to find out that after rendering out the first clip the process stops, the render bars disappear completely, but alas, Premiere does not play back the sequence smoothly, like the lack of render bars would suggest. There is no way to render the thing, there is no way to work on it. It’s quite a bug, I tell you. So – no dice. I have to work on the old sequence without preview, and there is no way around it, if you used DVCPRO50 codec. All others copy and work fine. Only this one misbehaves. Naughty boy.

And to think that in CS3 all I had to do was to create a new project with new settings and import the old project into the new one, and all these problems would never appear. Sigh…

Coming back to audio filters, why not add modifications made to VST filters to undo history? Right now any manipulation in those interfaces is totally non-undoable. You change one thing, and you’d better remember, where you started, if you want to go back to your previous settings. Ugly.

Now, let’s not forget my obligatory anti-Mac screed :). Mac version of Premiere Pro CS5, like PC version, has presets for VST audio filters on audio tracks and on separate files. The only problem is that… they don’t work. You can click all you like, on any preset you like, but the settings will remain the same, even though the select menu will try to lure you into thinking, that you actually did change soft compression into hard limiter. The tick-mark is where it supposed to be. The settings ain’t.

Filed bug report, but so far – no dice. I hope they fix it in CS6.

If you’re not tired with my buggy post yet, let me throw another one in, which really took me by surprise, and made me even open an XML editor to mess with Premiere project file itself (you knew it was a simple XML file, right? go and check yourself). It’s a Mac-only bug. I take a project created in CS3, and open it in CS5. I work on it, save it, go home, everything is fine and dandy. Next day I open newly saved project and… I get a strange message saying, that Premiere could not render a binary file Denoiser2, and it will close.

Needless to say, I get angry. About 8 hours of work just disappeared, and I don’t know what’s going on. No support from the Interwebs, need to work this one out by myself. So I open up XML Wrench and look for the entries with the denoiser. I delete all binary data for the  filter, and after 2 hours of struggling I manage to get the project opened. Great! I only lost denoiser settings and Premiere is behaving weird due to memory leaks and such, but at least it works. Save, close, restart Premiere… and I get the same message, only the hero now is the EQ filter. This is too much. I move to another project, and leave this one for a moment to calm myself down.

After a few days I come up with an idea to check this broken project on a PC that another guy is working on. And – surprise, surprise – it worked! The project gets opened, the binary files are not a problem anymore, and if they misbehave, I go through the PC again. So what if I lost all rendered files in the process? Who cares? At least I can work on my Mac again :).


About Bart Walczak

I'm a video editor, and an aspiring colorist and VFX artist, with some experience in desktop publishing, web development and programming.
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