Desktop Video Revolution
Adobe rushed ReelTime, now called Adobe Premiere, onto the market. As the product had been almost ready to ship under the SuperMac label, few substantive changes were made to the program prior to its release.
Like Aldus PageMaker in the print arena, Premiere was lauded for putting an easy-to-use interface on what can be a complex process. With PageMaker, publishers placed text and graphics into a spatially organized page layout; in Premiere filmmakers combined images and sound into a time-based movie. That Premiere ran on desktop equipment available to anyone helped create a new generation of video artists for whom the cost of conventional systems was prohibitive. All that was needed was a Mac, Premiere, QuickTime, a video camera, and a video-capture card.
For users new to video editing, Premiere made the process accessible. Using a timeline as a metaphor, the editor assembled video clips in the desired sequence, marking start and end points, attaching a soundtrack, and applying dissolves, wipes, and other transition effects. Films could be previewed instantly with onscreen playback. Making a change was as simple as dragging it to a new location on the timeline.
What distinguished Premiere from other video-editing applications coming onto the market, however, was its ability to use Photoshop special-effects plug-in filters, like the ones John Knoll sneaked into the program during its early development at ILM and which Mitchell saw during his visit there. With the ability to add special effects to images, Premiere became more than just a video-editing program. Adding a graphical component made it as much a creative application as a production tool. The cross-fertilization between the two products also signaled Adobe’s commitment to an extensible software architecture that invited plug-in development by third parties. Like Photoshop before it, Premiere soon had an active community of plug-in developers.
In marketing Premiere, Adobe faced a conundrum. Its previous work with Illustrator and Photoshop had made Adobe and its products acceptable in graphic design circles. But its customer base was not composed of video artists. The company hoped that its market of designers and graphic artists, already open to moving from typography to photography products, would be adventurous enough to try digital video—if it came from Adobe.