Dave Helmly
Issue: Volume 40 Issue 2: (Mar/Apr 2017)


Twenty-five years ago, Adobe Premiere was part of a revolution in digital technology that transformed the world of film,television, and video production. Over the years, its continuous innovation and capabilities have made it the preferred editing system for creators of all skill levels and industries, from social media stars and indie filmmakers to national broadcasters and major Hollywood studios.

1990s – The Digital Revolution

The introduction of the non-linear editor (NLE) revolutionized the video industry by streamlining the editing process so that editors could easily make changes without having to restart. This “simplified” approach lowered the barrier to entry for aspiring filmmakers and made video editing a more attainable skill. Released in December 1991, Adobe Premiere was the first truly affordable NLE software that ran on desktop computers.

Although it seems simple by today’s standards, allowing users to place clips on the timeline and add effects, transitions, and a soundtrack opened the doors to more complex visual storytelling.


In 1994, Premiere 4.0 became the first version to offer full-screen broadcast quality with 60 fields per frame. As early as 1996, Version 4.2 on Windows offered the ability to work with a 4k frame size, which was used in digital signage applications on multiple screens; in comparison, today Premiere Pro CC can work with files as large as 16k x 10k. The advancements continued with a new concept to help playback performance, and in 1998, RAM previews were introduced.

In its early years until today, Premiere was leveraged to develop video content for enthusiasts, professionals, and even the US government. As a 25-year Premiere user and Adobe employee, I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with Hollywood actors and directors, TV talent, singers, and more. For instance, I was asked to help set up a video capture card with Premiere for Vice President Al Gore in his office during his first term.

2000s – Creating Connected Workflows

This time period marked a pivotal moment for Adobe’s editing suite with the re-launch of Premiere to Premiere Pro, the introduction of Adobe Media Encoder, and the launch of the Creative Suite Production Studio. Creative Suite Production Studio marked the beginning of industry adoption and introduced a complete end-to-end workflow. It also allowed Adobe pro-video and audio applications to work together seamlessly for enhanced productivity and complete control for unmatched integration.

This tight integration helped set the pace for the next 10 years, with each new release providing users with new and improved connected feature sets and real-time editing performance.

In 2006, Premiere Pro introduced Dynamic Link integration with Adobe After Effects, making it easy to move between the two applications while adding and refining motion graphics or visual effects on clips, thereby giving users a connected editing, motion graphics, and visual effects production environment. This also allowed for traditional editors, motion graphics artists, and compositors to start working closer together using Premiere Pro as the central platform and visual communications tool.
Notable names in the video and creative industries took notice of the efficient editing workflows in Adobe video tools, bringing Madonna’s 2006 Confessions tour to life and the BBC adding Premiere Pro for broadcast postproduction. The 2009 blockbuster Avatar leveraged Premiere Pro, After Effects, and other Adobe creative tools in the production of the film.

2010 to Today – A Leader in the Cloud and Collaboration

In 2011, Adobe transitioned from selling boxed software to Adobe Creative Cloud. Along with more frequent updates, the change brought an increased focus on integrating apps and services, streamlining workflows, and collaboration across creative teams.

This saw the introduction of CC Libraries and shared asset libraries, Destination Publishing, the Lumetri Color panel, powerful new tracking and masking tools, Adobe Stock, support for 360 VR editing, and much more.

Today, virtual reality is proving to be one of the industry’s fastest-growing trends, and the VR workflows in Premiere Pro CC, first introduced in 2016, have helped filmmakers develop immersive 360-degree video experiences.


Adoption of Premiere Pro among enthusiasts and professionals is continuing to rise rapidly, and throughout the software’s history, Adobe made sure to listen to and support its users.

One memorable example is a customer reaching out on our Facebook support page, needing help on video he was editing. After solving his issue, it turned out to be actor Sharlto Copley, known for his work on District 9, A-Team, Elysium, Maleficent, Hardcore Henry, Powers, Chappie, and more. Since then, we’ve worked on a number of projects together, spoken on technology panels together, and remain close friends to this day. This just goes to show you that when working with Premiere, you never know what the next day will bring and who will be reaching out.

Looking to the Future – Forging the New Frontier

Since its debut, Premiere has pushed the envelope for editing technology, and it continues to do so today. From the silver screen to smartphones to VR, Premiere Pro continues to help drive new forms of storytelling across all types of video creators.

To celebrate Premiere Pro’s 25-year history of innovation, Adobe once again put its users at center stage. By partnering with Imagine Dragons, Adobe offered video editors around the globe the unique opportunity to cut raw footage from the band’s hit music video “Believer,” for the chance to win $25,000. An unprecedented opportunity for editors, Make the Cut is another example of Adobe’s pioneering heritage and its dedication to creating engaging experiences for customers. (Check out on May 1 to see who will “Make the Cut” and win the grand prize.)

Adobe collaborates with communities to address the needs of designers, photographers, and, of course, filmmakers and editors. Since its inception, Premiere Pro was no different. Over the past 25 years, Adobe has worked with the community to build Premiere Pro into the industry-leading NLE it is today.

Dave Helmly is senior manager, Professional Video for Adobe Creative Cloud Enterprise.