Here's a quick peek at Adobe's CS4 Production Premium, based on a public presentation given in Amsterdam during IBC. This is just a preview of the features. Soon, I'll show how some of these features work in the real world. For now, enjoy this early look.
One thing to notice right away: the appearance of all the apps is set now by default to a darker scheme, approaching the Lightroom appearance.
Fellow AE forum host Barend Onneweer also saw the presentation, and has this to say:
The general look of the interface is slightly cleaner and more space-efficient compared to CS3. Less rounded corners. Not as spartan as, say Nuke but a subtle improvement anyway.
(You'll see many examples below.)
So we'll start of course with After Effects CS4.
A few minor but important features have been introduced.
Search is available in all the panels: now you can search for content the same way you look for effects. This search can go deeply into all the properties of your clips, so for instance you can look for "Mask 4" and it will reveal itself immediately in the timeline, instead of twirling endless triangles to find it.
Adobe says that this search will also look in the Metadata of the clip so you can find more than you think you can. (More on this later.)
Auto resolution for compositions
This calculates the resolution based on the Zoom level in the Comp panel. So if you set your zoom to 50%, the resolution will set to Half automatically to ensure better performance when working with large and complex projects. You can disable this feature if you still want to work the old way.
Display all your nested compositions that feed into the current one by a parenting structure. It also allows you to select any comp and see what's inside without having to actually open it. You can access it from the timeline, or the comp view, or simply by hitting the Shift key.
Barend adds: Underneath the label in the Composition Window there's a "breadcrumbs" panel showing the comps that go into the current comp, and the comps that the current comp goes into. Sort of a mini-flowchart that helps navigate through a complex project. Nice touch.
Very cool and to my opinion the most useful feature yet! But wait, we just started...
Live Photoshop 3D layer
You can import a PSD file which contains a 3D object layer, then choose to convert it upon import to a live Photoshop 3D layer. AE will create a null object controller and a new camera that uses Photoshop's new render capabilities to animate the object in 3D space.
Barend: Ever used 3D objects in Photoshop CS3? Me neither. But you can import an obj. into Photoshop, move it around, light it etc.
They've reworked the raytracing renderer in Photoshop CS4, and a 3D layer with its lighting setup in a PSD imports live into AE CS4 - where you can then animate the 3D object, have it rotate, do camera moves etc.
It's so cool you must see it for yourself. This is for sure one of the big moments of AE.
If you have a 3-button mouse you can now control AE camera very much like a 3D package software. Use the left mouse button to Orbit, the middle button to Track XY and the right button to Track Z.
Position properties can now be separated to individual x, y and z component so each one can be animated independently. Anyone who try to animate a bouncing ball in 3D spaces know how much time this new feature will save him.
There are a couple of new effects, yay!
The Cartoon effect, which is also hardware accelerated, will create a stylized look to your video and can help to transform it from live action to cartoon footage. It's quick and simple. Define the edge by analyzing brightness values, then you tweak the fill by changing the shading smoothness to fit your taste.
Here's the effect. Click the picture to see the rest of the controls.
Bilateral Blur will try to blur parts of the image keeping the rest untouched. By changing the threshold and radius values you can get some nice dreamy look to your clips.
Export to XFL format is a new exciting thing which allow to export After Effects compositions with all the Animation and layers directly to Flash CS4 which can open them and add interactive scripts to the same scene (more details in the Flash CS4 section below)
Mocha AE is bundled with After Effects CS4. This neat software from Imagineer systems is a great companion to AE workflow, as it designed to solve many problems with Planar motion tracking, especially perspective corner pin. For more info, check the video tutorial that Aharon Rabinowitz did on this topic.
Premiere Pro CS4
The big news: On Location on Mac for the first time.
(This next few are photos I took with my phone in Amsterdam during that public presentation.)
On Location is included with Premiere Pro. This software enables you to track all raw materials that were captured on the computer while on location or in the studio. It includes a Video monitor that can be expanded to full screen (saves purchasing an HD monitor), a Vector-Scope and a Waveform Measure to make sure the colors are seen properly. It’s possible, of course, to make amendments and attach metadata labels even before capturing. This software is designed especially for those who still captures video from Tape Cameras such as DVC, HDV, DV or BetaCam.
For those who switched to working to tapeless formats such as P2, XDCAM, and the new and popular format AVC HD, and even RED, there is now an option of choosing the browser which is installed in Premier Pro CS4, and watch the clips straight out of the Card or Disk.
From today (hmm, from the 23.9 of course), Premiere Pro CS4 supports different types of timelines in the same project, which means that you can create a NTSC, PAL or HD timeline and they will all be under the same project. It’s possible to mix between them in the same editing sequence and Premiere will even play them in real time. For example, in the PAL timeline you can play clips in HD and edit them in real time back to back with problem what so ever. Pretty impressive!
Barend describes another of Premiere's new features: Automated voice recognition can convert any spoken word in the soundtrack to written text which is inserted into the meta-data. So if you're looking for a shot where someone uses a specific word or phrase, you can now search the dialogue using the search tool... Freaked me out. Very cool if you do documentaries with huge amounts of footage and interviews.
Lets say that the narrator is talking about global warming. Search for the word “hurricane,” there is a possibility of searching for a word like “Hurricane” and Premiere Pro will find the word, and will divert to the place it’s playing in the clip.
Analyzing the sound in the clip is done in the background without delaying the operator, and all the words appear under a special channel in the metadata. In addition, it’s possible to copy all the verbal text from the clip to a word processor and print. (Currently the tool is supported in English, German, French, Spanish and Italian.)
Incidentally, Adobe explicitly points out that the use of this tool is mainly aimed for neat narration and less for casual conversation where you’ll find disturbances such as coughing, stopping etc. They claim 95% accuracy under ideal conditions.
It’s possible to choose a number of Timeline clips and turn them into a new group, using the Nest command. The clips will inserted into a new timeline, leaving the possibility of editing them if needed.
You can now choose a number of effects including animation in Premiere in the same way as in After effects, to create an animation preset.
The Adobe Media Encoder is an independent software application, in all senses, that runs in the background once you choose to export a file from Premiere -- which means that it enables the editor to continue editing while the export is processing. There is no more “stop and wait” for a render to happen. You can continue working till your head explodes! Just kidding :-)
This is definitely a great application. It supports the Premiere timeline and After Effects compositions, batch renders... in fact, it serves as a super encoder for anything you would want to export after editing
Click image for full view.
The Premiere timeline can now transfer to Encore (which is also included in the deal) with no need to encode a MPEG or H264 files to create a DVD or Blu-Ray title. The timeline appears in the clip in Encore. You may also edit the timeline later if changes are needed through Dynamic Link, which now works between Encore, Premiere and Soundbooth. This is a tremendous improvement that significantly shortens the process.
In Encore and Soundbooth there is Resource Central, expanded from CS3. A menu based on Flash enables those who have internet connection to watch and download free content directly from the Adobe’s impressive archive.
For example, if you are searching for a Ski menu which cannot be found in the software’s templates, try looking for it in Resource Central. If you are in a middle of editing a project and you desperately need a car effect, there is a high chance you’ll find it there and for free. You will also find thousands of sound effects.
Adobe have introduced a new format for flash video, F4V, which is their version of H.264 but with built-in Metadata. That means that now, Google can find your videos and play them based on the words used in the clips.
The AIR “rich internet application” is now embedded deep into the software, allowing it to display video content with an Alpha channel anywhere -- including on the desktop -- without knowing your way around complicated code.
Of course, the content can be interactive. The demo showed waves coming from a swimmer swimming in the air, just like that, on the desktop. As soon as the mouse hovers over the swimmer's back, waves effects are added and give it a feel of water washed over the video -- quite a new experience that offers endless applications.
It is clear that Adobe's After Effects and Flash teams have been working closely together. As Barend says,
A lot of work has been done for CS4 to integrate the Macromedia applications with Adobe's own tools. The animation tools in Flash are much more consistent with the way AE works. For those who do a lot of work in AE for web output: you can now export a multilayered AE comp to a Flash project - and AE will create a .fxl file that contains all the separate rendered layers that import directly into Flash. In the past you'd have to export all the individual layers manually.
Click image for full view
Some other highlights:
Animated objects on a path
The difference here from After Effects is that the path in Flash is a vector one which can be transformed even after the animation, to turn, stretch and distort - even more sophisticated than in AE.
Another tool is the spray brush, borrowed from Illustrator, that enables you to “spray” graphic element in an arbitrary method. So in order to create a star filled sky, you’ll need just half a minute. Create the star as an element. Choose the spray brush and start spraying away. The result, a star studded sky with stars in different shapes and sizes. It’s like, the coolest thing ever :-)
For those who are familiar with the After Effects graph editor, can straight away work on the Motion Editor. Animation can be saved for re-use, that means that each time you need a “Jumping ball,” just drag it from the template library that by the way comes with quite a few more Adobe templates. Mmmmm... another familiar function ;-)
Another cool tool is the Bone Tool, a combination of the Puppet Tool and the Parenthood Set in After Effects. This tool is based on Inverse Kinematics, to create highly complex animations that affect with interaction. It may sound familiar, but you will find this to be a tool unseen in the whole wide world.
If that’s not enough, it’s possible to transfer a whole After Effects project into Flash via XML. Let’s say you created a short film in After Effects that shows a gun falling on a table in a dark room, you can now transfer all the information from After Effects including the Key Frames and paths directly into Flash, whilst keeping the After Effects composition structure intact. Now, while in Flash, there is need for some rules and Action Scripts and create a computer game or a home page, in the most simple way, effectively and in half the time.
Aharon Rabinowitz says that the big new feature here is “Mutli-track support. No one really used Soundbooth because you only had one track. They've added it in this version, which means it's actually a lot more useful.”
Adobe introduced a new sound format: ASND. In addition to the stereo files, it includes all the project files embed inside, so once you choose to "Edit Original," you're presented with the latest version of the open project and can continue to edit it even if it's a multi-channel job, which Soundbooth now supports.
As mentioned earlier, Dynamic Link now connects Soundbooth to both Premiere Pro timelines and After Effects Comps.
An impressive option to automatically balance the strength in the recorded file or in a number of files, that way, all the Sound you recorded will sound consistent.
A new history panel that behaves much like Photoshop and enables a snapshots of your project history.
The expanded Resource Central now includes more than 5000 free sound effects. Now you can search for your missing wooosh, hear a preview and download the file without any legal concern. I say, Thanks for sharing Adobe!
Well that's it for now folks, a formal complete features list will be available at the 23 of September, but I hope I made you happy with what I've seen. I promise to catch up on the new AE features on the After Effects podcast together with Aharon Rabinowitz.
Stay tuned for more soon!