Thursday, February 16, 2006

Adobe Report

Yesterday I attended the Chicago leg of the Adobe "Production Studio" tour. Since moving over to the PC, I've been editing on an old version of Premiere and I've been pretty happy with it. I figured that this tour would show off some more whiz-bang special effects or eye candy that doesn't really interest me, but I was wrong. From the demos, it seems that Adobe has put in a lot of productivity shortcuts (back in the Amiga days, I did everything from keyboard shortcuts), creature comforts to soften the blow of the task at hand, and tons of other stuff that seems like it will make a big difference in the editing experience, instead of more crazy transitions wihch really don't help anybody. ;-)

"Production Studio" is the bundling together of Premiere, After Effects, Audition, and various other configurations of Adobe products. More than just throwing them in the same box, these apps integrate into one another in an "unprecedented" way (that's not actually true - I had Amiga video apps that shared buffers and communicated through a timeline the _exact_ same way in the late 90's. See my Amiga rant below.) With this move, they are clearly going after Apple's much vaunted systemwide integration. I was very impressed with a lot of what I saw, and while I usually decry a lot of special effects, I can see actually using a lot of what they showcased in Premiere Pro2 and the latest After Effects:

Much improved chromakey facilites
Vastly improved primary and secondary color correction
Color correction and other effects operate in 32 bit colorspace for much more granular control
Algorythmically calculated slow motion instead of simplistic (and strobe prone) frame blending
Feature rich motion tracking

There was also a really nice method of generating a low res version of your project to email clients. It (somehow) plays from within a PDF. The client is able to make notes while watching the video, and each note has the corresponding timecode referenced to it. When you get back these notes and open them up in Premiere, the timecode in his notes puts markers on your timeline so you can go in and quickly make changes. Wow.

They were alos pushing very hard on delivering online video via Flash. 96.3% (apparently) of computers have Flash 6 or later installed on them (more penetration than Internet Explorer), and of course it runs under Linux and on some phones, etc. The Flash player is also much more customizable as far as customizing it to look good on your webpage (QT and WMP sure don't allow for that). Heck - the screen doesn't even have to be rectangular! They made a compelling case for Flash, but that's really only for playing videos at your site. It's not set up for downloading to a portable playback device. Still - food for thought.

There was tons more things I saw of course, but these are the facilities that spring to mind that I could make immediate use of. Of course there were lots of special effects shown, but the one that has the potential to become as cliche as morphing was in the early 90's is what they call "Live Trace". This is in After Effects and chages live video into vector art, much like the film "Waking Life" (ta-da). It was realyl easy to get good results, but I coudln't tell if there was an interframe relationship between these vector layouts just so each frame transitions smoothly from one to the next.

Actually, one of the biggest shocks to me was how many features Adobe was showcasing that Amiga apps were already doing more than ten years ago. In addition to simple keyframe editing, After Effects has graphs - guess what? So did ImageMaster on the Amiga in 1991. Encore DVD can load a directory of stills, automatically arrange them into a slideshow, add transitions between them, anda make them fit to a certain length of music. The Video Toaster could do this circa 1995.

Yeah, Adobe's stuff is better - but not TEN YEARS better!

Oh, and if you're wondering about the picture above, I was lucky enough to be the first name drawn in the raffle. The other prize was the entire premium Adobe Production Suite. I, of course, won the Tumbuk bag. Darn.

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