Adobe Illustrator for Video and Film
Adobe Illustrator Review from The Creative COW Magazine

Creative COW Magazine presents - Adobe Illustrator for Video and Film

Tim WilsonTim Wilson
Boston Massachusetts, USA

©2007 Tim Wilson and All rights reserved.

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In this Adobe Illustrator review from The Creative COW Magazine, Tim Wilson looks at the ways that Adobe's Illustrator CS3 is designed with video and film artists in mind.

You can see the difference as soon as you launch the application. The options for document set-up are front and center on the Welcome screen, and right there in the drop-down menu, you'll see it: options for video and film projects.

The default video document size is NTSC DV, but don't worry; after you've made a selection once, that's now the opening option. You can also set up your own templates with even more options, but that's for another day.

RGB is the default colorspace for video and film docs. You could switch from CMYK to RGB before, but it wasn't exactly obvious how. You won't see displayed that, as in previous versions of Illustrator, the only pixel aspect ratio is square. (Sigh.)

One of the ways that Illustrator helps compensate is that the rulers for film and video docs are marked in pixels. With both Action and Title Safe areas marked, alongside our old pals Grid and Guide, you can at least place your elements precisely. You'll still need to preview docs intended for video on a broadcast monitor... but you do that anyway, right?

These set-ups are most useful for documents that you'll create or modify within your chosen frame size, although you can also zoom out to see the area beyond the artboard. While you can't actually create the animation here - although I'd love to see animation in CS4 as it is in Photoshop Extended today - you can use this feature to create larger documents, and at least get some idea of how they'll play out when you animate them in After Effects.

Adobe Illustrator New Document Pulldown Menu
Right out of the gate, Adobe Illustrator CS3's pulldown menu sports video format choices - something many video artists will welcome.


If you've already got a file from the client, art department, etc., and Crop Exportsyou want to use it in a video project, say, as a DVD background, get to know the Crop tool, (seen here), found toward the bottom of the tool palette. Double-click on it to see the options, starting with, again, document templates. Along with all of the print options you'd expect, you'll also see all of those video and film presets again.

You can see all those safe areas and pixel rulers while you're working, and when you're ready to prepare your document for export, perform the crop as you've defined it, and you're good to go.

If you've been handed a larger file like a poster or brochure, you can select a single element, say, a logo, and just export that for use in your other Production Premium apps.

Illustrator and After Effects have a long and venerable relationship, but there are some new things you can do with AI documents in AE. Chief among them is the Puppet tool, which also works with documents from Photoshop and Flash.

The animation metaphor is pins stuck in rubber that you can use to stretch images any way you want. There are loads of options, including motion sketch and animation with an audio track.

The images you'll most often see in demos are of a person, a natural to use for puppeteering. The fact is that you can do it with any Illustrator file or element, including logos. You need to see this in action to appreciate just how much fun it is...but it really is fun.

Live Color
Just wait until you get your hands on Live Color. Simply amazing.


Live Color is an amazing way to explore alternate color schemes in truly helpful ways. Instead of picking colors for individual elements, you can manipulate all the colors at once, while preserving their relationships. The experimentation options are virtually unlimited, but nothing ever gets out of whack. You can of course restrict colors to video safe.

kuler is one of the options in the Adobe Labs submenu under the Window menu. Also available as a standalone app, kuler lives in Illustrator as a web-hosted Flash mini-app that connects you to user-generated color swatches and more. One click saves them to your local machine.

The color-mad can subscribe to RSS feeds for new color schemes, truly jaw-dropping as part of the kuler desktop. Again, a whole article in itself, but swing by labs.adobe. com and check it out.

Another web-hosted Flash mini-app is knowhow. Open it up, and it automatically updates to show tool options as you work. It also connects to, where there's an Illustrator page with acres of cool tips, including still more on animation.

Live connection to online communities for help and new content? Illustrator only for now, but tell the folks at Adobe Labs that you want this and kuler in every application.

For the Illustrator impaired, you can set prefs to highlight anchor points as you mouse over them, and even make ‘em bigger for easier manipulation. Score!

Path options are now displayed in the tool area at the top of the UI. No more digging through sub-menus and fly-out tools. Score again.

The AI interface now really, really looks like Photoshop. Honest. And you can now erase vectors.

Look, this is a ridiculously short summary of the ways that you're going to find Illustrator CS3 an indispensable part of your video, film and animation toolset. You'll want to check out for more details on this and the rest of the apps in the Adobe CS Production Premium suite.

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