The first thing you'll notice when opening Premiere Pro CS6 is the new UI. A new "two-up" workspace shows your Source Monitor and Program Monitor, which now takes up the entire upper half of your screen. Below, in the newly designed Project Panel, there are now 16x9 panels (you also can view in a list), and Adobe has employed a scrub-like feature they're calling Hover Scrub. Similar to Final Cut Pro X's scrubbing feature, you can view clips just by guiding your mouse over the clip. Since most editors use keystrokes (e.g., J, K, L), Adobe has really simplified the UI to show more video and less gray borders. In terms of controlling action with your mouse, you also can manually remove certain buttons with a Button Editor beneath your Source and Program Monitors to give your UI an even cleaner look. Pretty much everything within the workspace is now customizable, which is what editors want.
Every year, camera manufacturers bring new formats and resolutions into the marketplace, making it a headache for filmmakers who don't want to transcode their footage. One of Premiere Pro's biggest strengths has been its versatility in working with a variety of codecs such as H.264 or XDCAM EX. Premiere Pro CS6 now allows you to work natively with the RED Scarlet-X and Epic, ARRI ALEXA, and Canon Cinema EOS C300.
For more precise editing, a brand-new Trim mode is part of the Program Monitor panel and allows you to perform more meticulous cuts. When in Trim mode, it changes to a two-up display and you're able to keep track of trimming frame by frame, both visually and audibly. (In Premiere Pro CS5.5, you could only keep track either visually or audibly.) This is an important feature that editors have been asking Adobe for.
One of the most popular features in CS5.5 was the Warp Stabilizer in After Effects. The Warp Stabilizer takes shaky handheld footage and smooths it out to make it look as if it was shot on a dolly or Steadicam. What's great about the feature is that it not only adds smoothness to a shot, but it also removes some of the motion artifacts after stabilization. The new Warp Stabilizer in Premiere Pro gives you a little more control and refinement than the After Effects version, such as reducing the amount of cropping and scaling, as well as the degree of smoothness. After testing it out on a handheld shot, I wouldn't say it smooths out a shot like a Steadicam, much less a dolly, but it does reduce the shot's overall shakiness. It's also extremely simple to apply. You basically just go into the Effects tab inside the Project panel and drag the Warp Stabilizer icon over to your shot in the timeline.
Although most editors aren't trained motion-graphics designers or visual-effects artists, with today's shrinking budgets, filmmakers and editors often are being asked to tackle some of these duties in postproduction. After Effects has long been an industry standard for motion graphics and effects, but editors also have been using the program for color correction, motion tracking, keying and rotoscoping. After Effects CS6 is faster and more responsive than previous AE releases, and Adobe has made it easier to integrate with its other programs. They have added and/or updated over 80 built-in effects.
The most talked about new feature within After Effects is the Global Performance Cache, which makes AE faster and more powerful. It consists of new technologies, including a global RAM cache, a persistent disk cache and a new graphics pipeline. According to Adobe, early tests show that AE functions have improved by a factor of 1.5 to 2.5 times with some up to 16 times faster, depending on your hardware configuration.