Bill Roberts, Director of Video Product Management, Adobe Systems & Adobe's Past, Present & Future
COW Library : Adobe Premiere Pro : Debra Kaufman : Bill Roberts, Director of Video Product Management, Adobe Systems & Adobe's Past, Present & Future
In this industry, you have to earn your stripes. Avid had to displace flat bed film editors. Apple had to get movies under its belt. With Adobe, it's been a different trajectory. If you look at motion graphics or visual effects, everyone thinks of After Effects and Photoshop, but Adobe has a different brand presence with Premiere Pro. Back when we first introduced Premiere Pro, there were of course some aspects that made editors happy, but other things related to how it worked or performance that, historically, got in the way. The turning point was when we introduced the Mercury Playback Engine in CS5 and all the native file types worked well. That's when the Premiere brand took a big leap upwards.
Then, of course, came the announcement of FCPX, which caused a lot of editors to start exploring different solutions. At the same time, we had just taken the power we'd delivered in Premiere Pro CS5 and layered on a ton of ease-of-use features in CS5.5, so when people came to look at it, they were pleased. We put together a fantastic promotion for those interested in switching to Premiere Pro and the response was exceptional -- we've seen tens of thousands of users make the switch from FCP and Media Composer.
I know there are some Mac users who point to the fact that Premiere Pro was off the Mac platform for several years. At the time, which was the turn of the 21st century, Apple was a very different company. Avid waffled around the Mac too; in fact, everyone at the time was questioning its viability. But Mac's stronghold has always been the creative community. The Mac platform today is a fantastic part of our business and a great place to be. In fact, our presence on the Mac grew 45 percent in 2010.
Focusing on the needs of professionals, we have so much to gain with being on the Mac and making sure it's a first class citizen. We have a great relationship with Apple, and the relationship benefits them as a partner of ours as well. After Effects is a ubiquitous tool used by an extremely large number of Mac users. You have to have good relationships in the industry and we get along well with Apple.
Another way we've seen the Premiere user base increase over the years is that Adobe has long had this big base of creative independents that have used all of Production Premium. That customer base was built over years, and now we're seeing those same people really produce amazing work with the power of Premiere Pro, along with its smooth workflows between it and the other products they already know and love in the Suite.
Gareth Edwards, director of Monsters
Gareth Edwards, director of Monsters, is a great example. He started his career as a power user of After Effects for creating visual effects. One of his biggest accomplishments was digitally creating 250 visual effects shots of a vast army and sweeping historical vistas for the BBC's Attila the Hun. He said that he realized that he needed Production Premium to be able to finish this project within budget. He set up the timeline in Premiere Pro software, where he created a rough version of each shot for previsualization and then exported each clip into After Effects software, tracked it, and re-imported it into Premiere Pro. He managed all of the assets using Adobe Bridge software, and reviewed each shot in HD with Premiere Pro. He's a great example of a creative person who started out as an Adobe After Effects user who branched out into using all the tools in the Adobe Creative Suite as he got into independent production. Now he's been tapped by Paramount Pictures to direct Godzilla.
Gareth Edwards. Photo shot with Canon EOS 5D Mark II.
It's also important to note that, with the Creative Suite, Adobe offers the last suite [of tools] standing. With other vendors you have to build the 'suite' on your own. Take for example ProTools. It is the market leader in audio, but it's a separate purchase from anything else Avid offers. If you want to set yourself up with a full set of tools, it's a substantial software purchase after purchase. In the Apple world you have to give them kudos for playing by their own rules and putting FCPX on their app store. It's a single app -- the rules of the app store -- and you can buy Motion and Compressor to go with it.
Our value proposition is not only that we give everyone all these tools together, but that the depth of interoperability in the suite is unmatched. To have it all at your fingertips is the difference between making a conscious decision to bring in new tools versus experimenting with what you have. People are tempted to experiment rather than make a conscious choice. As people become more technically savvy, they're less intimated by the other concepts. It's especially true for users who have grown up with digital technology.
The Vancouver Film School is another good example. We do focus on education because we want to capture the hearts and minds of young people. Vancouver Film School made Premiere Pro the editing tool for first year editors and then opened up access to Media Composer in their second year, with the idea that the students would switch over to Avid because of brand reputation. But for their second year projects, the students have been sticking with Premiere Pro because they have the whole Creative Suite at their fingertips. We wanted to expand use of our tools, and what second year students are doing at Vancouver Film School tells us that it's already happening.
It's not just Vancouver Film School, though. Twenty different film schools across the world have implemented Premiere Pro in their curriculum.
When it comes to competition in the market, ultimately, you have to play your own game. We're at an interesting point where the computing platform is actually getting lighter in terms of cost and footprint just as when workstations became the new solution after purpose-built hardware. The barriers to entry are down, and I haven't seen any new editing entries that scare us. We believe most pipelines will be heterogeneous, which is why we're working so closely with Automatic Duck, a company that has historically improved the interchange between Avid, Final Cut Pro, After Effects, Pro Tools, Smoke, Quantel and other AAF and OMF-friendly apps. We now have a partnership with Automatic Duck to bring that same interchange functionality to Premiere Pro and the company founders Harry and Wes Plate are working closely with us.
Looking to the future, we see the two vectors changing are resolution and bit-depth or gamma of the image. RED moved it up to 5K for feature film and they're also moving into High Dynamic Range (HDR) like still photography did. We acquired IRIDAS for that reason -- to try to establish a strategy for expanded color and light. More interesting than stereoscopy, HDR has the potential to unlock higher quality images for everyone and you don't need a specialized viewing environment.
We also realized that people are using many different media sources. If you're a documentary producer, you'll have everything from standard P2 through iPhone and historical 1-inch tape and all of them with different color spaces. We decided we had to make an investment in color correction since our core competencies [with regard to color correction] are focused on still frames and don't have that temporal aspect. Second, we looked at stereoscopic finishing. We wanted to make an acquisition rather than develop in-house because we wanted to go faster than our team would let us go.
Speech analysis improvements with Adobe Story: You can find and fix speech analysis errors more easily by making side-by-side comparisons of the text of the speech analysis with the text of the Adobe Story script. You can also attach an Adobe Story script file (.astx) to a single or multiple clips directly in Premiere Pro.
The legacy of IRIDAS is cross platform. They've done a lot of GPU optimization and they're a brilliant bunch of guys. The market dynamics thrust upon them by Blackmagic Design's acquisition of DaVinci meant their prospects weren't the same as a standalone company. So it was a perfect match from both sides.
With regard to 3D, our team doesn't feel it'll be wide stream because there are a couple of barriers. In the theatre, we're still struggling with a frame rate and a luminance that are both a little too low. The experience is lacking. Breakthroughs will happen and stereoscopy on the next-generation tablets will be interesting. But lenticular 3D doesn't make sense for the living room and the alternate is active screens -- and if you have kids, I can tell you that $200 glasses to watch 3D at home doesn't play well. For me, all of these things combine together so it doesn't have the makings of something that will go very broad. Still, it's important that we are able to handle 3D images, and we will still invest prudently in this space. That was another plus with IRIDAS. Everything in their system is based on dual-stream technology; they also worked on the 3D concert film U2 3D. Bringing them into the organization brought knowledge.
Elsewhere in the industry, Adobe is anticipating high frame rate cameras. James Cameron is talking about 48 fps. If you look at sports on TV, on the TV, 50p and 60p are a given. The raster, the size of the image, is going to grow. It makes sense to capture the largest image possible. When it comes to resolution, the human eye is comfortable at 6K. I think that's enough spatial resolution, particularly if you're capturing clean images without grain. If you watch Girl with Dragon Tattoo on a digital projection system, you'll be blown away by how those pictures look. We were invited on set while they were shooting and incandescent bulbs were the only lighting. We think it's the direction it's going, where RED is today with the Epic. I anticipate DSLRs will be there in a short time because the sensors are the right size. The challenge for DSLRs is getting the image off the sensor and onto the card but that'll be relatively trivial.
One interesting fact is that we have one of the strongest Japanese businesses in this space. Even after the tragedy of the earthquake and tsunami, our business performed very well. We didn't change our goals and over-achieved.
If you look at digital technology as an enabler in the market, two factors come into play: analog transmission towers to IP and satellite, which translates to a lot more consumption. In India, over 200 TV stations came online last year, so we also have a lot of growth in India. We are also experiencing rapid growth in Latin America. We're preparing for a bigger push into China and we're expecting growth in an area around the Pacific Rim, such as Korea.
If you have a revised digital distribution so you don't have to have the same old controls, you get competition and you have a middle class that's growing in wealth, and those factors are a great combination for a surge in creation of digital media. There are lots of opportunities in those areas as they switch to file-based workflows. Premiere Pro is now the editing tool of the BBC, large swaths of CNN are converting to Premiere Pro as are other broadcasters.
Premiere Pro is now the editing tool of the BBC, large swaths of CNN are converting to Premiere Pro as are other broadcasters. You can drag a clip and place it in an empty spot or snap it to another clip.
If you look at the difference, the Avid workflow was centered on transmission-centric broadcasting, the analog system. Their whole pipeline is iNews and anchored on a particular show. News today is immediate so when something happens, you would go first to the Internet. So we look at the people with the knowledge of media enterprises who have to communicate their ideas as quickly as possible. If you target just broadcasting, you miss this.
With the Adobe Media Encoder, we give these media enterprises the ability to stabilize handheld shots from user generated content. You can bang out things very quickly. There is no prerequisite that you sit on our data management infrastructure because we integrate with custom-built MAM solutions. So our suite allows the users to go quickly to Web and TV and an IT-inspired infrastructure rather than an historically inspired one.
The power of Premiere Pro is that it's grown up and emerged into being a strong, fast editor. If you want to work on a feature film, you can. If you want to work on a wedding video you can. I'm a trained editor. For me, the tool just can't get in the way and that's what I like about it. That and I have access to everything else in Creative Suite. We're in good shape and we'll be rolling out new success stories in the coming months.