Production Premium suite, optimized for Intel Macintoshes
and incrementally certified for Leopard, continues Adobe's legacy
of excellent, useful and widely-supported applications for video
professionals. The new bundle adds a few wrinkles as well.
Premiere returns to the Mac after a multi-year absence, Encore
is welcomed to the Mac, and Adobe includes Windows-only On
Location CS3 in the Mac suite for use in Bootcamp
on Intel Macs. On Location CS 3, previously a Serious Magic
video product, creates a software digital field monitor on a
laptop to setup and record video directly to HDD. It does not
run under virtualization solutions such as VMWare
This is a capsulated look at the CS3
versions of Photoshop (Extended), After Effects, and Premiere
for the Macintosh. New versions of Flash, Illustrator, Soundbooth,
Encore, Adobe Dynamic Link, Bridge, and Device Central constitute
the rest of the bundle, but aren't extensively discussed. The
review was completed shortly after Adobe updated Premiere to
add native MXF editing for Panasonic
HVX200 users and provided Leopard compatibility. More on
that later. Premiere, Photoshop, and Soundbooth are certified
for Leopard, and After Effects will be by year's end. However,
most reports indicate that everything works fine right now.
The New Hallmark: Better Integration. The CS3 applications
are more tightly integrated than previously. Premiere and AE
project files can be dynamically linked and content updated in
each when changes are made in the linked file. There is better
interactivity among Encore, Premiere, and AE, and more export
options to Flash. In fact, Flash video creation is greatly eased
in Premiere, AE and Encore. Adobe CS Bridge expands its media
management capabilities and appears less buggy than earlier versions,
but its treatment of movie files was inconsistent. For example,
Bridge wouldn't preview .mov files without the extension appended.
FCP self-contained movies were located, but also wouldn't preview.
Better compatibility with QuickTime and the MacOS is recommended.
Photoshop CS3 Extended. Photoshop retains its industry leading image
editing capabilities. Its nicely redesigned interface eases
access to tools, palettes and control panes. Photoshop CS3 includes
both new and improved features for video editing professionals.
The first is a set of video actions intended to streamline creating
video specific files, such as graphics with alpha channels.
One action automates creating a lower
third alpha channel file for use as an overlay in FCP. Create
a graphic with the text layer, select the text layer and play
the action. The action created a file that worked perfectly
as an overlay into Final Cut Pro. A "New File" dialog
box provides several SD and HD video file presets in an improved
Adobe has added basic video editing to
Photoshop, and CS3 improves and expands on this. There are new
import and export capabilities together with tools to edit motion-based
content in Photoshop. These include video and 3D rotoscoping,
cloning, and export options, among others. Although these motion-based
editing tools are impressive, PS is more comfortable when creating
and modifying graphics.
Premiere CS3 Macintosh is identical in features and functionality
with its Windows version. It sports new timesaving features
and is fully integrated with AE CS and Encore. Adobe recently
added native MXF data import to Premiere. Panasonic p2 card
users don't have to unwrap MXF video files and rewrap them in
QuickTime - which saves production time and HDD space while preserving
metadata. Adobe also has integrated Encore CS3, its DVD authoring
application, within the Premiere CS3 interface. A basic menu-free
DVD can be encoded and burned directly from Premiere using a
single menu command.
Another new Premiere CS3 feature is the
"replace clip" command -- a feature previously available
only in AE. Any video clip can be replaced by a substitute clip
by dragging the new clip over the old clip with the option key
selected -- the new clip automatically inherits the attributes,
filters, and FX applied to the original clip. By comparison,
FCP requires a copy of the attributes of the original clip, and
then a delete and insert procedure.
Adobe's improved time-remapping function
creates transitional speed ramp up/downs on clips. Clips can
be reversed and frame blended to create a more natural look.
New search options are available for assets in the project pane
and individual asset bins. Searches can be filtered by notes,
frame rates, in/out points, client and media file path, and other
criteria. One useful feature is the capability to have two project
panels opened simultaneously. Bin behavior preferences can also
be set in Premiere.
Encore CS3, Adobe's DVD authoring package,
has been tightly integrated with Premiere CS3. As stated earlier,
a basic looping DVD can be created and burned without ever leaving
Premiere. Or you can export directly to Encore to author a DVD
with menus, create double layer DVDs, or blu ray high definition
DVDs with either h.264 or MPEG-2 encoded files. Unfortunately,
I did not have a blu ray burner to test this capability. HD
DVD is not supported, but exporting to Flash SWF format IS
-- a nice feature and consistent with Adobe's product offerings.
There are options to export video to the Device Manager to test
playback on various mobile devices.
Premiere also is tightly integrated with
Photoshop CS3. For example, a multilayered PS file imports as
individual layers or as merged sequence into Premiere. Individual
PS layers retain the same placement and stack order as created
in PS and with the same layer names.
After Effects CS3. The AE CS3 release is arguably the most substantial
of the Production Premium suite. The new version improves suite
integration, provides new animation features, export choices,
color management and multi-core processor options. The application
retains its historic streamlined workflow and adds a few new
video specific and content creation capabilities.
Shape layers are new vector-based drawing
tools that differ in form and purpose from pixel-based image
layers. Shape layers can be used to create vector graphics such
as logos or to mask a video layer. These layers are fully editable
and scalable without resolution loss. Most shape parameters,
such as fills or strokes, can be animated or offset to create
interesting effects, i.e. an offset stroke appears similar to
a theater's moving bulb marquee. If a path operation is appended
to shape layer, even further creative capabilities are possible.
"Repeater" operations duplicate an existing shape
similar to the replicator in Motion. The shapes can be directly
drawn into the project rather than applied to a solid -- a significant
After Effects' innovative puppet tool
provides simple tools to organically deform and animate static/2d
objects. The tool and its operation is reminiscent of the inverse
kinematics capabilities for models in 3D programs, but operates
in 2D space. It is impressive. Once puppet points are assigned
to a pixel graphic, the tool is used to key-frame movement over
time. AE does all the interpolation between keyframes. Alternatively
the object can be animated in real time by manually moving it
with the puppet tool as the sequence plays. Adobe built Motion
Sketch into the puppet tool's capability to achieve this. The
new Overlap and Starch tools provide additional functionality
to the puppet tool.
Content creation has been improved, and
the preeminent new tool is Brainstorm. Brainstorm operates on
a layer, graphic, text, or video to which two or more filters
have been applied. It automatically randomizes the parameters
of the combined filters and displays alternative results on a
separate screen like the Filter Gallery does in Photoshop. All
filter parameters can be used to randomize, or you can elect
which parameters you wish from the filters.
Fantastic for content creation. Text
effects now include 3D character animation, all of which can
be animated along the Z-axis.
AE CS3 is thoroughly integrated with
its companion programs. Photoshop layer styles and blend modes
are now supported within AE CS3 and can be animated.
There are new export features to Device
Central, improved flash export and integration, and substantial
performance improvements for multi-core processors. Once the
multi-core preference is set, AE CS3 will render multiple frames
simultaneously using separate cores depending on available RAM.
A MacPro 2.66 GHz dual core configured with 5 GBs of RAM substantially
improved RAM preview times. AE's new color management project
preference automatically conforms imported still and video assets
to the same color management work space. Dozens of color working
spaces are provided for SD, HD, and the web.
There is a lot here, and this review barely touches on the new
features of Production Premium suite. The CS3 versions of Illustrator,
Encore, Flash, Soundbooth, On Location, Adobe Dynamic Link, Bridge
CS 3, and Device Central also have incidental and dynamic application
to video production.
The suite remains a bargain, even at
its price, for its diversity, and capability within the video
production workflow. Adobe offers a variety of upgrade paths
from previous users. Comparing this suite to Final Cut Studio
2 is both inevitable and unnecessary. Each has special strengths,
and shortcomings, but both remain tools in a video professional's
arsenal. Adobe CS3 Production Premium Suite is an exceedingly
diverse, mature and capable one.
Copyright ©2007 David