Creative Suite 3 Production Premium is Adobe’s answer to the production and post production needs of video professionals. This suite of applications groups together - for both Intel-based Macs and Windows based PCs (including Vista) - Photoshop Extended, Illustrator, After Effects Professional, Premiere, Encore, Soundbooth, Bridge, Device Central, Dynamic Link and Flash Professional. Windows users also get On-Location and Ultra.
Conceptually this release actualizes the next level of Adobe’s vision of transforming their software into a single dynamically-integrated system. This approach of organizing the individual applications into themed suites - design, Web, production and master collection - allows for the creation of a seamless workflow from idea to finished products within the Adobe family. Everyone experiences the synergistic benefits of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, noting that the parts are pretty fantastic in and of themselves.
For our review we worked with the beta version of Production Premium and decided to wrangle HDV 29.97 footage from a Sony HVR-V1U. One big news item with this release is that Adobe ported Premiere Pro 2 to Mac Intel. So for these tests we ran Production Premium on a Mac Pro, Dual-Dual core 2.66 Xeon, 4 GB 667 MHz DDR2, running Mac OS X 10.4.9.
Capturing was straightforward using the preset Adobe HDV codec 1080i30 (60i). We put 20 layers of HDV footage in a timeline and could still preview in realtime with no “red bar/render selection” necessary. So “cuts only” projects are a breeze. We started stacking :15 clips on top of each other with 50 percent opacity and it played realtime up until the fourth clip. Then rendering those four clips took 40 seconds. So when you’re working on a project with transitions and effects, add some rendering time factored by the speed of your machine and its memory.
The Production Premium package contains Adobe Dynamic Link, a workflow approach that strives for production efficiencies by connecting files between applications without technically leaving the application. From within Premiere, I created a new Photoshop file that automatically placed it in my Premiere bin and set it to the HDV 1920 x 1080 format I was editing in. I built a simple text graphic and dropped it in my timeline. Any changes I made were instantly updated in my Premiere timeline by simply saving the Photoshop file and switching applications.
That feature jumps to a whole new level using Dynamic Link with After Effects. I created a new After Effects composition from Premiere, which appeared in my bin and created another title, this time animating it with a preset. It did need to render, but then I noticed it needed a drop shadow, which I applied in After Effects, and like the previously mentioned Photoshop file, my Premiere timeline automatically updated visually.
Another handy feature that first appeared in Premiere V.1.5 is multiple camera editing. We set up two Sony HVR-FX1s and two Sony HVR-VU1s and pointed them at the same scene and shot five minutes of footage. Syncing was pretty easy by setting numbered clip markers and aligning to a target track. Playing back the four HDV tracks and switching between them was pretty smooth and then fine-tuning the edits using standard trim tools. For uber production value this is nice to have.
Some of the new features in 2.0 includes: opening multiple bins, very useful for organizing those epic productions with zillions of clips; time remapping, which allows you to speed up or slow down sections of a clip by setting keyframes right in the timeline; and Device Central, a way to simulate the appearance of media projects on a wide variety of mobile devices. Finished projects can be exported to Encore and authored to standard or Blue-Ray DVD. If you’re in a hurry, you can also set chapter markers directly in Premiere and burn a DVD. Adobe Media Encoder allows you export to various Web and mobile device formats, including Flash Video, YouTube, iPod, Sony PSP and 3GPP, and then upload these files to an FTP site.
Other feature new to Mac users who have not seen Premiere in a while is Adobe Clip Notes, which allows you to send movie files to clients for review and feedback. You can also edit soundtracks in Adobe Soundbooth, the new streamlined audio editing application. On Location, a video monitoring and direct capturing application, and Ultra, a fast chromakey system, are also included in Production Premium yet currently work only under Windows OS.
So - bottom line - should you buy Adobe Production Premium? Well do the math. If you’re doing any kind of video and are sitting on a Mac you know you’re going to upgrade to Photoshop Extended and After Effects CS3. That will cost you $648. Adobe’s pricing structure allows you to upgrade from either of those applications to the entire Production Premium bundle for $1199. Purchased individually, those applications would cost over $5K. Adobe makes it pretty economical to give Production Premium CS3 a spin on either platform.
Will you use it? If you’re like us, you have a lot of different software on your machine: Final Cut Pro, Dreamweaver, After Effects, Cinema 4D, Photoshop, Painter, etc. Depending on the specifics of any project there will be times when one workflow will work better than another, either because of features or efficiencies. Adobe knows that if the Premiere Pro application is on your machine and you have Photoshop and After Effects, you’ll be tempted to use Premiere if it lives up to the promise of a more streamlined workflow. If you take this notion one step further, however, and embrace their concept of the “master collection,” where their Web applications and print applications are integrated into that workflow, entirely new ways of doing things will emerge. Being able to easily deploy content across multiple channels - print, Web, broadcast, cable, digital cinema, DVD and mobile devices - is the new media production status quo. So think about it.
Over the next months well take a look at some of these workflow solutions. Stay tuned for Part II.