Since I’ve been around for a while, I’ve grown up with Adobe products. I’ve watched After Effects migrate from CoSa. I’ve seen Illustrator absorb and supplant Freehand. And I’ve witnessed Photoshop mature from the most sophisticated paint program on any platform to ‘ the most sophisticated paint program on any platform. This time around, Adobe has made the wisest maneuver since purchasing Macromedia. They have taken all of their premiere products and bundled them into a package that provides the professional media artist all the tools necessary to create literally anything that may pop into his mind.
Now, you may say ‘Hey, don’t a lot of companies do that?’ And I’d reply, ‘Yes, they do.’ However, Adobe took the next step. They not only put all of the manuals into the same attractive box set, they have revamped the interfaces of the software so that they resemble one another and function much in the same way, which effectively lowers the slope of the learning curve. They’ve also taught the software to speak to each other so that After Effects compositions can live inside of a Premiere edit, for example, without pre-rendering. Imagine a world, if you will, where an editor is moseying through his edit, adjusting in and out points and other editorial chores. Meanwhile, a compositor is choking a matte in his composite. The Premiere edit reads the composite as a file, and so it will update without the editor needing to resort to human interaction and ask the compositor if he is done.
This kind of cross-program interactivity is bolstered by Adobe Bridge, a robust file management system and browser. Through Bridge, you can first and foremost browse through image files on your system with thumbnails generated for each. Not such a big deal, you might think. But, you can also read and generate metadata in the files created through XMP. Much like the data found in MP3 files such as artist, album, etc., (which Bridge recognizes), you can also store info such as camera data, history data, user notes, advanced technical data and keywords. All of these can be used with the search engine to make finding files quick and accurate.
Bridge also gives you tools and functionality that tie the viewed images into the other programs in the suite. Images can be sent to Encore as assets or menus or whatnot. Groups of files can be batch renamed. You can run Photoshop batches on groups of files, or open the files through any of the Adobe programs. It adds a great deal of organizational control for the users. My primary beef with it’and this opinion pertains to the whole suite’is that you should have the option to view sequences of files as one file name with a # padding nomenclature (filename_foo.####.jpg, for example).
I also have to add that all of the software within the production suite has been kicked up a notch or two or three. This isn’t a surprise coming from Adobe, which seems to be pretty adept at maintaining its product. There is, however, one Premiere tool that must be mentioned. Thanks to this new addition, users can now save a media file of their cut embedded into a PDF file for e-mailing or posting for clients. Clients can then make notes and save them back as a XFDF file. The user can load that file back into Premiere and the notes show up in the timeline in context. This feature alone can save users the cost of the production bundle in miscommunicated notes (or instances when the client comes back and says he never asked for the aforementioned change!)
If we had more room, I’d mention all the goodies that this outstanding Suite has to offer. Just know that this product is certainly worth purchasing if you don’t have it already’and more so, if you already use the tools in production and are ready for an upgrade.
Price: $1,699; Adobe Video Bundle,
including Macromedia Flash Professional
8 software: $2,099
Todd Sheridan Perry reviews the latest animation and vfx-related software releases and gizmos for Animation Magazine. He is the co-owner and vfx supervisor for Max Ink Caf’ and Max Ink Productions. If you have review suggestions for him, you can email him at [email protected]