I’m constantly on the lookout for software applications that provide me with those “light bulb moments,” when I suddenly realize they get it, now I have it, and finally, my computer will do some of those things that I’ve been struggling with for years. So, when the good folks at Adobe took me on a guided tour of Adobe CS4 Production Premium, and the light bulbs in my head switched on over and over again, I immediately got that great feeling that the software designers at Adobe somehow knew exactly what I’d been missing.
It’s obvious to me that Adobe has been paying serious attention to the competition, listening to their users, and working hard to figure out new ways to efficiently accomplish many of those inefficient little things that have bugged editors and plagued post-production for years. So, whether you’ve been using the tools in Adobe’s Creative Suite for a long time, or if you’ve never used them before, and whether you’re on the either the Windows or the Mac platform, you will certainly want to explore what CS4 Production Premium can do for you, and I’ll tell you why.
The suite is Sweet
It’s safe to say that CS4 Production Premium is now the most comprehensive suite of content creation and post-production applications in the marketplace. Adobe has gone out of its way to combine an entire array of tools that goes well beyond the competition on many levels, not the least of which is the ability to operate in, and actually make use of, multi-threading in the Windows Vista 64-bit operating system.
Just look at the contents of the box (see inset below) and you’ll see an impressive list of CS4’s integrated and dynamically-linked applications for creating and delivering just about every type of media and format imaginable, on just about any device imaginable. The suite contains solutions for video and audio editing, still and motion graphics, visual effects, interactive media, DVD, Blu-ray Disc, and mobile authoring.
Adobe Creative Suite 4 Production Premium combines the full versions of:
• Adobe After Effects® CS4
• Adobe Premiere® Pro CS4
• Adobe Photoshop® CS4 Extended
• Adobe Flash® CS4 Professional
• Adobe Illustrator® CS4
• Adobe Soundbooth® CS4
• Adobe OnLocation™ CS4
• Adobe Encore® CS4
• Adobe Device Central CS4
• Adobe Bridge CS4
• Adobe Dynamic Link
CS4 seems to have a tool for almost every conceivable aspect of a production/post-production workflow that one could possibly think of, short of budgeting, billing and accounting, of course. The main attractions, such as Premiere CS4, After Effects CS4, Photoshop CS4 Extended, and Encore CS4 have all been updated, and are very exciting in the new 64-bit environment that now allows each application to run independently in its own thread, with 4Gb of RAM unto itself.
However, particularly impressive to me were some of Adobe’s lesser-heralded applications. First, there is the updated version of OnLocation CS4, an application that turns any computer or laptop into an on-set capture station, complete with vectorscope/waveform for monitor calibration, camera setup, and direct to disk video capture.
Then there’s Adobe Media Encoder, a separate component that automates the encoding of multiple versions of a project in a wide variety of media formats, with background rendering that allows users to keep working creatively while processing.
METADATA IS BIG
Starting with OnLocation and moving right on up the list of CS4 applications, Adobe has now placed a huge emphasis on generating searchable embedded metadata in all assets created at every phase of the production and post-production process. In fact, metadata has become their new mantra at Adobe; they like to refer to it as, “the unsung hero of efficient workflow.” With Adobe’s new XMP metadata support, CS4 has new and innovative “project intelligence” across its entire line of XMP metadata-enabled applications.
Adobe’s concept, and a pretty good one at that, is that the earlier searchable, descriptive data can be embedded within media assets, the better. It’s this metadata that enables computers to do what they do best, which is, searching databases. To this end, Adobe has endeavored to make entering descriptive data easier than ever before throughout its CS4 product line. For example, while capturing live with OnLocation, a one-time entry of copyright information, location information, meaningful descriptions, and searchable keywords can be embedded in each video file or take, and from that point on that asset can be traced and searched throughout the entire post-production process.
Embedded metadata becomes even more powerful when combined with the capabilities of CS4’s greatly expanded Dynamic Link, which is perhaps the one thing above all others that separates CS4 from the rest of the pack and makes it truly “special.”
Adobe’s dynamic linking allows layered projects to be passed back and forth between applications instantly, with a fluidly and seamlessness that was never possible before, and all without intermediate rendering. This means that sequences in Adobe Premiere CS4 behave like any layer in After Effects CS4. So, change any element in Premiere and you’ll see it update instantly in After Effects. Or, dynamically link a Premiere Pro or After Effects layered project to Flash CS4 Professional or to Encore CS4 and the layers remain intact and elements such as text and/or vector-based objects created in Adobe Illustrator CS4 are preserved as vectors that can be scaled infinitely without any loss of quality. I could go on and on; there are just too many examples to mention.
While integration across applications may not sound like anything new, Adobe has implemented it in ways that the competition can only dream about presently. The days of rendering out files with handles and “baking” effects and then re-importing those files for further editing or encoding are really over. This is truly the future of editing, and it’s here right now from Adobe and available to you today.
In this installment of the series, I’ve only managed to touch on just a few of the many amazing tools in Adobe CS4 Production Premium that caught my attention first. Join me next time when I crack open the world of post-production with CS4 in the 64-bit environment of Windows Vista 64, running on the latest sizzlingly-fast HPxw8600 workstation.