A Brief History of Premiere Pro (and Fun Facts for my Fellow Video Nerds)
Adobe Premiere Pro won our 2021 Toolfarm People’s Choice Awards for Favorite Non-Linear Editor. Instead of giving you a list of its virtues or convincing you that you need to switch to Premiere Pro, I thought I’d take a different, more fun route that satisfies the researcher in me. Today, you’re going to get a quirky history lesson on Premiere Pro!
Adobe just turned 30 years old, which I know is older than some of you out there. Learn about the interesting history of Premiere, from when it was just a twinkle in the eye of its creator, to its current form.. Learn about some of the films edited on Premiere Pro, as well as some of the plugins that I find indispensable when editing.
Adobe Premiere History, the early years
Premiere began its life as a working demo of a QuickTime Editor called ReelTime, developed by Randy Ubilos, an engineer for SuperMac. While still in beta, ReelTime was acquired by Adobe in August 1991 and was christened with the name Premiere. Incidentally, Randy was also one of the early architects of Final Cut Pro.
[Edit: Marianna Montague, Sr. Director, Customer Success Management at Avid Technology, got in touch with me and she filled me in on some information about this time period. Marianna has worked for Apple, Media 100, and Avid over the years, so she is extremely knowledgeable about the history. She explained that Randy Ubilos and John Molinari, the CEO of Data Translation (which ended up being Media 100) signed a deal so Key Grip would be the front end of the Media 100 QX product. Key Grip was the original name of ReelTime. That deal fell through and that is when ReelTime was sold to Adobe. Thank you Marianna, for filling in some holes!]
Premiere, released for Mac in December 1991, was one of the first non-linear editors on the market.
At this time, Premiere was limited to a resolution of 1024 pixels wide or less, with a maximum frame rate of 10 FPS! Version 1.0 shipped with 24 transition effects. The Windows version was released almost 2 years later, in September 1993. Premiere 2.0 more than doubled that with 49 effects, including some useful chroma-keying tools and time effects.
What was cool about Premiere was that it was much more affordable than other editing software at the time. You didn’t need to buy a very expensive editing system like an Avid. At my old post-house, we had a couple of Avid Media Composers that I know came in well over $100k per system.
How much did it cost? Premiere 1.0 sold for $495 as a perpetual license, and the price increased to $695 for version 2.0. By comparison, Adobe Premiere Pro is now subscription-only and runs $20.99/month.
What did Premiere 1.0 look like?
Below, check out Krazy Ken’s video where he shows Premiere 1.0 on an old Mac iBook. Videos like this are what YouTube was made for!
Adobe Premiere 4.0, 5.0, 6.0
Premiere 4.0, released in 1994, allowed editors to have a full-screen video at 60 fields per second (note, not frames, but fields. In case you’re not familiar, fields were used to help video play more smoothly.)
For a while, Premiere was also only available for Windows, but in 1998, v5.0 again featured a Mac version. Premiere 6.0, released in 2001, established the Audio Mixer.
And then it was called Premiere “Pro”
You’re probably wondering when Premiere became Pro. That happened in 2005 with the release of the Creative Suite Production Studio, which included Premiere Pro, After Effects, Bridge, and Photoshop.
From these humble beginnings, Adobe Premiere Pro has become an industry-standard video editing tool. Editors use Premiere Pro on feature films, television shows, music videos, corporate videos, commercial work, and more. Which movies, you ask? Keep reading.
Some Movies & Shows Edited on Premiere Pro
Thousands of films and television shows cut on Premiere Pro over the last couple of decades. Below, check out a shortlist, with links to interviews and articles on editing the particular film or show.
Mindhunter (2017) – I love this show. You need to see it.
Gone Girl (2014)
Hail, Caesar! (2016)
Avatar (2009, (daily and basic edits in conjunction with Avid Media Composer)
The Social Network (2010 – Conforming only)
The Florida Project (2017)
Top Premiere Pro Plugins
Below, check out some of our most popular, versatile plugins for Premiere Pro. These are my personal favorites. I promise not to mislead you! By no means is this a complete list of all of the tools I use and love, but these are customer favorites. In addition, I’ve included a bit of history because it’s always good to know something about the tools that you are using.
What it is: Sapphire has been a popular VFX bundle at Toolfarm for years. Perpetual or subscription licenses available. Supports Premiere Pro and After Effects, as well as a slew of other hosts.
Why editors love it: Sapphire plugins are HIGH quality and highly coveted by editors. They look beautiful and there are SO many options for them that editors never end up with everything starting to look the same. It comes with lights and flares, blurs and distortions, transitions, stylize effects, and time effects. It’s also extremely dependable. It comes with fantastic presets too.
A little history: Sapphire was originally a product from GenArts and was acquired by Boris FX back in 2016.
Boris FX Sapphire Annual Subscription
Ultra Speeds, Ultra Creativity, Ultra Power. Download a free trial today!
Sapphire is the essential visual effects suite for Premiere Pro editors working in the broadcast, advertising, film, and online content creation industries. The world's top editors use Sapphire to create everything from photorealistic effects to stylized looks and treatments that put VFX in the spotlight.
Learn MoreTry Boris FX Sapphire Annual Subscription for free!
What it is: Universe, formerly a Red Giant, is a fantastic toolbox for editors. It works in several host applications for one license, which is great if you’re working between multiple hosts. Subscription only.
Why editors love it: Universe includes tools that editors need, like color and toning effects, tools to animate type, and logos, distortions, a reframe tool, HUD effects, and lots more.
A little history: In early 2014, Universe was a community of users that gave feedback and input on the plugins. At that time there was a free version and a premium lifetime license.
Video transition and effects plugins for editors and motion graphics artists
Red Giant Universe is a collection of 89 GPU-accelerated plugins for editors and motion graphics artists. Stylize your footage. Create motion graphics. Add transitions and effects. In addition, find text generators and lots of presets.
Learn MoreTry Universe for free!
What it is: Continuum is an Academy Award-winning set of useful plugins. Perpetual or Subscription licenses are available. Supports Premiere Pro and After Effects, as well as a slew of other hosts.
Why editors love it: Thousands of options for color grades, film looks, chroma-keying, distortions, particles, and so much more! It has everything an editor might need. I love the presets included too. Continuum has been a major contender for our annual People’s Choice Awards too.
A little history: First developed around 1995, it’s one of the most tried and true plugin bundles out there.
Boris FX Continuum Annual Subscription
The Swiss Army Knife of Plugins
Meeting tight turnarounds just got easier. The post-production industry’s most complete plugin collection delivers nearly 350 creative effects in 20 categories, 4000+ presets, built-in Academy Award-winning Mocha planar tracking and masking, a Beat Reactor that drives VFX to music, and the FX Browser. Busy editors and artists rely on Continuum to get the job done.
Learn MoreTry Boris FX Continuum Annual Subscription for free!
Neat Video Pro
What it is: Neat Video Pro is a plugin developed to reduce visible noise and grain in digital video footage produced by video cameras, shooting in low light, compression, digitized film, old analog video, etc.
Why editors love it: It works and it’s faster than other tools! The features in the interface such as showing the RGB channels are very cool but the quality of the noise removal is top-notch. Everyone should have this tool in their toolbox!
A little history: Neat Video was first developed around 1999.
Neat Video Pro
Best Noise Reduction for Digital Video
Neat Video is a digital filter designed to reduce visible noise and grain found in footage from digital video cameras, DSLRs, TV-tuners and even digitized film or VHS. Neat Video is available as a plug-in for many popular video editing applications such as Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro.
Noise is a serious problem that complicates digital video processing. Footage coming from digital video cameras, camcorders, digital TV-tuners, film digitizers, etc., often contains an easily noticeable noise component that may distract viewers.
Learn MoreTry Neat Video Pro for free!
What it is: Transcribe your video using AI.
Why editors love it: It saves so much time, money, and sanity. It works by automating the process of turning audio into transcripts using AI.
A little history: It’s pretty new so there’s not much to know yet.
[product_short_snippet product_id=19230 demo_id=22811 tagline=”Easy, Accurate, Automatic Transcribing” description=”Transcriptive uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing to transcribe footage. This makes all that footage searchable and makes it easy to create captions or paper edits. It’ll help automate and accelerate your video workflow!
It’s an inexpensive, fast, and flexible way of turning all your audio into transcripts.
- Infoworld, Magazine, by Doug and Denise Green, 16 November 1992, Page 142
- Adobe Premiere, Wikipedia.
- Notable Films Edited on Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro, Wikipedia
- Celebrating 25 Years of Premiere Pro, Adobe UK Team, 14 March 2017
- Premiere Pro 25 Years time, Adobe (pdf)
- Randy Ubillos, Macromedia Fandom Wiki
Posted by Michele Yamazaki