If you have any of the video production based Adobe CS4 application suites installed then check the Updater as Premiere Pro 4.0.1 should be ready to download. This particular update seems small in number but it is big in features, so much so that I’m not sure it didn’t deserve to go all the way to 4.1!

What many considered to be the biggest feature in this first update to Premiere Pro CS4 is Adobe’s RED support. They have taken a step beyond both Final Cut Pro and Avid Media Composer with native playback and editing of RED’s .R3D files. This will be a first for the “offline” world with no transcoding and no proxies anywhere in sight. Adobe hasn’t kept this functionality a secret as it was being developed and they even demonstrated it working in pre-release versions. According to Adobe the native RED functionality has improved quite a bit since the videos in the above link were produced. The idea that you can scale your 4K RED files down to a quarter-size resolution for editing on a laptop and then scale them back up when you get to a powerful desktop machine hasn’t been seen in the creative offline editing space. This functionality will require a plug-in from RED support so if you have your Premiere Pro 4.0.1 installed keep checking the RED support page for their part of the puzzle.

While the RED support is big news it’s two other little additions to the Premiere Pro 4.0.1 update that appear to me to be aimed squarely at Final Cut Pro. First is the ability to import a Final Cut Pro XML. At first I think, this isn’t that big of a deal … Media 100 added this recently and they still haven’t taken a bite out of the Final Cut Pro market. But Premiere Pro has something that Media 100 doesn’t have – it’s sitting installed on a lot of editing workstations. This XML capability might be a real Trojan horse. Say you are done with an FCP edit and need to take it to effects work that Motion can’t handle and you don’t have Automatic Duck: XML to Premiere Pro, dynamic link to After Effects. Say you are staring at hours and hours of untranscribed  talking head interviews and wonder how you will be able to makes sense of it all: XML to Premiere Pro and then use the new transcribe function. Say you have a high-definition edit that’s finished that the client insists on putting to Blu-ray: XML to Premiere Pro, dynamic link to Encore. But one thing that I think might get a number of Final Cut Pro editors into Premiere Pro is curiosity. With the simplicity of an XML interchange it will be easy to experiment. How well will this work? According to Adobe this exchange will translate well with nested sequences, color corrections and titles staying intact. Some things will need tweaking like advanced 3-way color correction or secondaries and advanced titling and composting but that’s to be expected as these things are never foolproof. I haven’t tried the XML interchang yet but it sounds like a good first step. This works on both the Macintosh and Windows so with the Apple ProRes QuickTime decoder for Windows it should be possible to export and edit from Premiere Pro on Mac and play it back on a Windows machine. As of this 4.0.1 release it is an XML import only function but the export should be added in a future release.

The other big addition to this update may be even more important, especially to Hollywood and broadcast television. It is the ability to export audio to OMF. OMF export to an audio workstation like Pro Tools is a deal-breaker for many working in broadcast and feature films. If your editor can’t easily get your edited audio out audio mix and sound design then you can’t use that editor. And that’s both software and humans! The lack of OMF export has been a deal-breaker for many with Adobe Premiere so this should be another foot-in-the-door for the software. This OMF export capability should include both the ability to embed the media in the OMF as well as copy the media and link the OMF to that copied media. Add to that the AAF interchange that 4.0.1 includes and you suddenly have a more versitile workstation.

I’ll admit that I only really dabble with Premiere Pro right now. I haven’t done any “real” editing in CS4 but I have played with some smaller web only jobs and kicked around just for fun. One thing that keeps me out of it more is the lack of a hardware card for getting media in and out and viewing on my client monitor. Premiere Pro has been able to interface with Blackmagic cards for sometime and support for AJA cards in CS4 is, according to AJA tech support, coming in the first quarter of next year. The current AJA support is only for CS3 and when I use CS4 with my Kona card I do get random crashes. Hopefully the engineers at AJA are working hard on this support for Premiere Pro CS4 as that seems like one more piece of Adobe’s plan to get Final Cut Pro editors working with Premiere Pro. Of course Adobe will probably never pubically admit that they are wanting to take FCP’s marketshare, they are promoting the while CS4 suite as integrating with existing workflows, but just look at what they are doing … they are really advancing their products with what you could call revolutionary new features (native RED support, audio transcription) while also updating and providing useful functionality (XML interchange, OMF export). IMHO, this puts even more pressure on Apple for a big Final Cut Studio 3.

UPDATE: As the day of November 20 winds down it seems that RED hasn’t yet released the plug-in to allow the Adobe Premiere Pro 4.0.1 RED workflow to happen. But they did release an update to Final Cut Studio support to allow for the re-wrapping of .R3Ds into a somewhat “native” workflow in FCP and Color. The battle continues.