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I hear you and have the same problem. You probabally should post what kind of system you are using, and your system specs.
I'm guessing to get really good quality, you need a Quad Core system, if using a PC.
I have always wondered, what professional video studios use as computer systems. Are these computers they use 100x more powerful than anything a home user would use ?
I have a friend who works with databases, and he tells me the computers they use have 32 gigs of ram, which, on home computers doesn't even exist, so I'm guessing video studios use something simular, perhaps with even more ram, on specialized computers ( not available to us ? )
We have reasonably powerful systems (dual core, 2GB ram), and as I mentioned, Premiere Pro 1.5 works just great on them, and Vegas even better. So I really don't think the systems are the issue, and if they are, that's pretty weird! :)
Its likely less to do with your hardware and more to do with your video clips. What format are they?
>We've tried with a few different formats/codecs, and some relatively modest frame sizes such as 960x540.
What formats/codecs have you tried? Premiere Pro likes "standard" formats like DV. (I don't think 960x540 is a very "standard" format.)
I have a dual core with 2 gigs of ram that edits DV and HDV just fine with Premiere Pro.
It's curious, because 960 x 540 is the chip size in the HVX200, though none of the recording options use those dimensions.