|A Creative COW Training Product Review |
| ||Aanarav Sareen |
New Jersey, USA
©2006 Aanarav Sareen and Creativecow.net. All rights reserved.
|Article Focus: |
Total Training has long been known for their excellent and in-depth training for Adobe After Effects. With the release of the Adobe Production Studio, they too have released training bundles, aimed at the production studio user. In this article, Creative Cow Leader Aanarav Sareen takes a look at the new Total Training Premium Bundle for the Adobe Production Studio.
Total Training has long been known for their excellent and in-depth training for Adobe After Effects. With the release of the Adobe Production Studio, they too have released training bundles, aimed at the production studio user. However, users that are upgrading from prior versions may find some vast differences in the layout of the training and the training interface. A few of these differences are listed below:
- Perhaps, one of the major differences, a prior user may notice is that the new training discs are formatted as DVD-ROM. No longer can you insert the disc in your DVD player and expect it to play. You need to have access to a computer to play these DVDs.
- Since all of these DVDs are now designed to play on computers only, the interface vastly differs from the prior versions, as it permits for more functionality. However, there are positive and negative aspects regarding this interface.
Positives: With the new interface, it is easier to navigate to various components and training materials on the DVD. You no longer have to repetitively hit the fast-forward button and hope that you will reach the specified scene. Another positive feature is that the computer remembers your last viewed video, hence starting from where you left off. If that wasn't enough, the new content ships on a limited number of DVDs, rather than 10 or 20 discs, as required by previous versions of the software.
Negatives: Although the new interface certainly is much more efficient, there are a few drawbacks, which certainly made me re-consider which was the better approach.
- A primary drawback was that the training discs used an intensive amount of memory, while playing back the training content. Due to memory usage, my experience of following along the tutorials wasn't a pleasant one.
- Another drawback was that the training content often skipped the last word as it seeked the next training movie.
- The third drawback is the flash animations playing on the bottom of the interface. Although the animations can be eliminated by expanding the content full screen, it tends to become distracting.
Interface changes apart, Total Training has still managed to maintain the superior quality of their training products. After watching and critiquing multiple training series, I still find products from Total Training to supersede the quality of other competing products.
Many training videos vary in duration, some being lasting 60 minutes in length, while others spanning approximately 6 hours in length. As software applications expand, enhance and become more complicated, it is essential to find complete training resources. The name 'Total Training' does in fact mean total training.
Each training title consists of at least 10 hours of video and spans over almost all topics of the application. Another benefit of the Total Training packages is the inclusion of free goodies, when you register a training title. Unlike many other training packages that often offer a bonus tutorial on a PDF file, Total Training offers free plugins or royalty free content from some of the best vendors. Similar to the Creative COW training series, Total Training also uses high quality video, such that they can be played full screen on a high resolution monitor with no quality loss.
Adobe After Effects:
Prior to the release of Adobe After Effects 7.0, Total Training had 2 training packages for After Effects: one for After Effects Standard and one for After Effects Professional. However, with the current release, Total Training has re-structured their training by introducing 3 training packages.
- After Effects Essentials: Training content presented in this series is designed and aimed towards new users. However, users transitioning over from prior versions of After Effects, may also find this helpful, as it explores the new interface in-detail and focuses on some of the basic and overlooked principles of After Effects
- After Effects Professional: Training material in this series spans across some of the more advanced and complicated features in After Effects. Unlike most training content, the presenter takes you through the professional features in a detailed fashion, revealing many time saving and practical techniques. Apart from covering the lights, cameras and 3D concepts you will also get to spend a few hours exclusively on expressions and how they can be used in your projects.
- After Effects Broadcast Design: This is a new addition to Total Training After Effects series and is classified under the Master Series collection. This is perhaps one of the more useful After Effects training DVDs available, as the author takes you through 3 common broadcast scenarios and takes you from start to finish, without any lengthy explanations. Going through the training presentations, the presenter also mentions many tips and tricks that are sure to assist any broadcast designer. This particular series is also only 6 hours in length. Although, that may be a short duration compared to the prior 2 series, this series it's straight to the point and anybody watching this disc would benefit greatly.
Adobe Premiere Pro:
The Premiere Pro training is covered by Jacob Rosenberg, who is perhaps the first person to utilize Premiere Pro in a feature film environment. Coming from a film background, Jacob uses some excellent examples to demonstrate the powerful techniques of Premiere Pro 2.0. One of the main reasons this training content stands out from the rest is due to the project files included and referred throughout the training. Unlike most training videos, Jacob is using real-life footage throughout most of the series and goes over each and every feature with great detail. Another thing that makes this training stand out from the rest is its in-depth coverage of the newly included color-correction tools. As Premiere has evolved, the color-correction tools have expanded as well and Jacob spends a lot of time covering these essential filters, a rare occurrence in video-tutorials.
Adobe Production Studio: Edit to Output
Total's Training 'Adobe Production Studio: Edit to Output' is a great overall training series, which spreads across 17 hours, covering each of the various components in the Adobe Production Studio. Edit to Output, presented by two Adobe employees takes you from start to finish, using various projects. In this training series, you are walked through creating a brief graphics package, editing your multi-camera shoot, sweetening your audio and then outputting your content to DVD. However, since this training product spans across 5 products
(Audition, After Effects, Illustrator, Photoshop and Premiere Pro), it becomes difficult to cover each of the techniques in detail. Another drawback of this series is that most of the content is covered in depth other Total Training titles. Another topic not covered in this series is the newly released dynamic link feature. Although, this series does spend a few minutes on the topic, it only uses demonstrates dynamic link between After Effects and Premiere Pro. A more detailed explanation, in the context of Adobe After Effects and Encore DVD would be beneficial to many users.
Training discs for Adobe Photoshop CS2 also ship with multiple hours of training, that doesn't take you from start to finish. Instead, the presenter takes you through various tools of the application one at a time. For software, that is as powerful, this is perhaps a much more valuable approach. In Photoshop, you can learn and use any tool, without having knowledge of any of the other tools. Apart from covering many of the features in extreme detail, I was expecting to find a little more information about using Photoshop generated elements for video production, as video broadcast does have very specific requirements.
Similar to the Photoshop CS2 training, training for Adobe Illustrator also doesn't follow a traditional or linear fashion. You don't have to be familiar with one tool to comprehend what the author is currently discussing. Illustrator CS2 is also lacking a few video based techniques, as this training title does ship with the Production Studio training set.
Macromedia Flash 8 Professional
This is a new addition to Total Training's line up of training videos. In this training series, it is recommended that a new user follows the defined pattern, due to the complexity and the advanced possibilities of the application. However, apart from releasing just basic Flash training, Total Training also has a training title, dedicated just to learn Flash's programming language: ActionScript. Most creative users usually attempt to stay away from programming based applications, but the presenter introduces and demonstrates the material in an excellent and a comprehendible manner.
The Total Training bundles are certainly of great value to many users, whether they are just starting out with these applications or are just looking for refreshers. The content is presented by some well known and talented individuals and has certainly been put together very well. I give the user interface and navigation options 3.5 cows and the content 5 cows. I hope that the next release of this training series will have a more efficient navigation style and fewer hardware requirements.
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