The video is HD from a Nikon D7000, and I've reduced the playback quality to as low as 1/4 as it makes no difference.
Yep, that's just the way this kind of material works in reverse. You're not dealing with whole, discrete frames when you're editing HDSLR footage, which is compressed using H.264. The footage is compressed with frames that are predicted forward, but not backward. When you play forward in a Premiere Pro sequence, PPro is able to create the "imaginary" frames on the fly, but this doesn't work so well in reverse. What you're seeing are whole I-frames, which are at relatively large intervals, so you get a stuttery playback.
There is simply no way around this; it's the nature of the beast. It has nothing to do with the software or even your computer--it's just the way it is with temporally-compressed footage like that from a D7000. Your only workaround would be to transcode to an I-frame only format... or don't play in reverse
I think that your suggestion to convert to full I-Frame format is the workflow that I would use here. It does mean an additional step, or two, but should then work fine.
Thanks Bill, but I'd sure like to know HOW in the world do I do that.
"Converting" files to something else is nothing I've had any experience with or knowledge about. I didn't even realize it could be done. I've always thought you had to deal with whatever came out of the camera you used, and were stuck with that.
I would be VERY appreciative if someone would tell me EXACTLY how to do that.
Conversion to a format/CODEC that PrPro can handle easily, has been around for a very long time. There are many programs, that can do that for you, starting with Adobe Media Encoder (AME), installed with PrPro, to separate programs. I use an older shareware program, DigitalMedia Converter 2.7, by DeskShare. They have newer versions, but I have not tried them. This PrPro-Wiki Entry goes into a bit of detail, though note that there are more, and newer options now.
John T. Smith has a list of many current conversion programs, from freeware to shareware. I have not used most, but others have, and John's list is made from their recs.