Adobe’s post-production version of Creative Suite delivers several useful features for streamlining DV workflow
Adobe would like everyone using video to buy all its software. This may seem obvious, but with the release of Creative Suite Production Studio, Adobe is giving users some very good reasons to do just that. Creative Suite Production Studio is effectively a rebadged version of Adobe’s Digital Video Collection and is available in Standard and Premium versions. Premiere Pro, After Effects Standard and Photoshop are all included in the Standard version, while the Premium version adds After Effects Professional, Encore, Audition and Illustrator. Interconnection between packages is very impressive, thanks to a new feature called Dynamic Link. You no longer need to render out an After Effects production before loading it into Premiere or Encore; instead, you can now include your After Effects project on the timeline just like any other kind of footage, and any changes you make will automatically be taken across into Premiere or Encore. Likewise, if you want to edit an audio file, you can do it in Audition without leaving Premiere or After Effects.
Bridging the divide
Adobe Bridge, the file management software first introduced with Creative Suite 2, is also included in Production Studio. If you’re working with large numbers of video files, still images, effects and graphics, Bridge helps you keep track of them. You can summon it from within any of the Production Studio applications and use it to browse and search for items on disk. You can also add metadata to files so they can be found more quickly later. Version Cue and Bridge Center, both included in Creative Suite 2, have both been omitted, which is a pity. However, you can use batch commands from any Adobe packages you have installed – to perform colour correction on a whole series of photos, for example. Until now, the problem with Adobe’s offerings has been their interfaces. Dozens of crowded toolboxes, panels and windows have floated freely around the screen, forcing you to rearrange palettes and tools, and hunt for important controls under other boxes. In one stroke, the company seems to have solved the problem for this version.
The solution was simple and well overdue: all the on-screen windows in the video packages are now stuck together. Drag to expand the monitor and the timeline shuffles up to make room. Move the project window in After Effects and the other controls get out of its way. You never lose anything, you never have to close unwanted boxes, and you can adapt the workspace in a second to suit whatever you’re doing at the time. If only Photoshop and Illustrator made use of the same ideas. So what has Adobe done to improve the individual packages in Production Studio? Apart from the interface improvements, After Effects, Premiere, Audition and Encore have all been updated, although the versions of Photoshop and Illustrator are the same as the ones included in Creative Suite 2.
Simple DVD creation
Premiere Pro can now take video files recorded by multiple cameras at the same event and create an edit ‘on the fly’. The cuts you make are then available for refining and effects can be added on the timeline. Simple DVD authoring is also built in. One disappointment is in the range of import and export file types Premiere is able to cope with. The latest release of the much cheaper Premiere Elements will happily download content from mobile phones and stills cameras, and import VOB files directly from CD. Granted, these are formats usually associated with non-professional editors, but an option for them would be useful in the pro version.
After Effects 7.0 now has a range of preset effects and animations, which can be used to create some useful instant backdrops and some rather fun text animations. There’s also a new Graph Editor, which enables you to compare graphs for any keyframes on your timeline. This means you can adjust the animation of different objects and effects at the same time, synchronising events and fine-tuning motions.After Effects Professional also introduces support for HDRI images, and a Timewarp filter for creating smooth, slow and fast motion.
Encore now includes a quick tool for creating DVD slideshows from a series of images. There’s also a flowchart view just in case your DVD projects get too complex. The first version of Encore enabled you to use either your own graphics or preset menus, but this new version lets you mix and match graphical items from the templates to produce your own style, taking, for example, the background from one preset and the buttons from another. Just as Premiere includes basic DVD authoring tools, Encore now contains some simple editing features. You can quickly assemble a string of clips on the timeline and they’ll play back seamlessly when you’ve authored them to a DVD.
Audition now enables you to work more flexibly with video, import video files, play them as you edit, replace or synchronise their audio tracks and then record them back to disc without affecting the video content. There’s also enhanced audio scrubbing to make it easier for you to locate edit points, and you can create high-quality live mixes by recording the results of your effects manipulation in real time. Overall, the improvements in the way the programs interface are welcome, if a little overdue, and will certainly make all of the individual packages easier to work with. Bridge is a decent file browser, and has the potential to be even more powerful with a couple of updates, Premiere’s multi-camera tools will be a great help for some, and After Effects’ animation presets provide a good starting point for common animation jobs.
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