A Scary Adobe Premiere Pro Story for a video editor’s Halloween

Video editing is not for the faint of heart. Being somewhat masochistic, my video editing workstation is an older tricked out Mac Pro. I like the fact that I can have 6 hard drives in it (although I have two 5 bay Burley eSata boxes attached as well).

I’m not sure if having an older Mac adds to my problems, however, as the tales of woe are equally heard from all corners of the Mac and Windows world, and in fact maybe more so from the newer Macs. I do know that the Achilles heel of the older system is the lack of development of graphics cards, and that fact will most likely be the reason I will have to get a more modern machine at some point.

The challenge video editors face is the constant barrage of updates from both Apple and Adobe. I’m not sure if either company is aware of the mayhem they create when they constantly release inadequately tested software out into the world. It’s gotten to the point where I keep both a separate daily operating system clone and an hourly Time Machine backup, because you never really know when the bad stuff is going to happen, only that it will, and often. I delay updates as long as possible and surf the Apple and Adobe complaint forums regularly before committing to updates from either company. Even with that strategy, things can go seriously haywire at almost any time.

I had maybe the scariest experience I’ve ever had with video editing just the other day. I was finishing up an Adobe Premiere Pro project, just tweaking a few things here and there and doing some final vimeo targeted exports when Premiere crashed for no obvious reason. I got the usual message that Premiere would attempt to recover the current project, which it does by making a copy. OK, been there before many times, but this time when I opened the copy project, I got an error message that the current project was “unavailable on the disc”. I clicked OK, not really knowing what this meant (or how this could be) and the project opened. I soon discovered (there should have been “Jaws” theme music) that apparently the dynamic link scenario had become corrupted because every project opened as the crashed project, not the named project. It appeared that Premiere was methodically trashing every project I had ever done! Even the auto saved copies were opening as the crashed project in its current form, so it appeared that all the backups were hosed as well. Fear and loathing really set in when this behavior was repeated when opening projects from my current video projects backup drive.

Although it is hard to stay calm when something like this is happening, I did have the presence of mind to do a restart from my clone drive. I let out a huge sigh of relief when Premiere Pro worked normally when I was booted from the clone. I realized that Premiere Pro had corrupted itself and the dynamic link as a result of the crash, so the path became clear, I’d need to uninstall Premiere on my boot drive and then re-install it. I had the uninstaller trash the preferences while it was at it.

After the reinstall, everything was back to normal. I felt like the character in “Occurrence at Owl Creek” where he says “I’m a living man…”

Afterwards, however, I was having less charitable thoughts about Software that has the possibility of doing such a thing. The main issue with both Adobe and Apple is that they don’t seem to have very robust testing in place. So this Halloween, in addition to things that go “bump in the night” one must always be ready to deal with murderous software…