The Adobe Creative Suite (CS) probably has every software a filmmaker or photographer will ever need for professional work. The latest version (as of this writing) is CS6, which was launched in India yesterday, at the NCPA.
The highlight of the day, for me at least, was when I came fourth in the Twitter competition (handle @wolfkrow)! We also got to see a bit of Adobe’s version of the future and some excellent new tools, especially in Photoshop. In this post, I’m only going to cover the Adobe Master Collection and what it has to offer.
One thing I have to mention is that I attended the Video Breakout session, and missed most of the web and publishing tools showcase.
1. Photoshop CS6 Extended
Adobe Photoshop Extended CS6 is the software that is used to manipulate and process images. It is the most powerful tool available, and it can be used for the simplest of tasks like cropping an image, changing brightness or contrast, etc, to the most complicated image manipulations manageable. It is also used by many professionals as a drawing tool. As far as still images go, it’s the only software you’ll ever need for anything. To be honest, Photoshop itself is worth the price of the entire master collection suite, and this is why it’s the most important tool you can have. Photoshop Extended includes the tools to create, edit, and paint 3D images; edit rich motion graphics; and analyze images.
So what’s new with Adobe Photoshop Extended CS6? For one, the interface has changed. It’s much more cooler than before, and it has a few easter eggs (I’m not going to spoil the surprise).
It also has enhanced content-aware algorithms that make the already perfect tools better. One new tool that is plain unbelievable is the ‘Straighten’ tool, where by just drawing a line you can straighten ‘curves’ in an image – imagine what it will do to correct fish-eye distortion! Another major addition is the ability to save work in the background, and an auto-save feature that was long overdue.
Adobe Photoshop CS6 also uses the GPU big time, and effects (like Liquefy) which used to lag before, won’t anymore. A nice side-effect, which Adobe has definitely exploited, is greater video editing ability. Yes, Photoshop can now do basic editing and transitions!
As you’ve probably guessed, among all the tools in the suite, this is the biggest change from CS5.5 to CS6. For most people this is a strong enough reason to upgrade. I give the new Adobe Photoshop Extended CS6 a major thumbs up.
2. Illustrator CS6
Adobe Illustrator CS6 is the tool most professionals use to create vector artwork. Vector, in simple terms, is what can be scaled without limit. An image that cannot be scaled infinitely is called a bitmap. Whatever you see in magazines and prints that include geometric shapes, simple and complex, was most likely created using illustrator or a similar program. Using vectors ensures these lines and shapes are sharp no matter what size they are printed to.
So what’s new in the new Adobe Illustrator CS6? Well, if Photoshop has access to the Mercury engine, then so does Illustrator. Illustrator, too, has a new design interface, and a host of new features.
The coolest new feature surely must be the Image Trace tool, which gives you the power to convert raster images to vector images! A lady asked one of the presenters yesterday about Adobe’s position on the ethics of image, audio and video manipulation. The answer wasn’t satisfactory. I remember a character from Jurassic Park (you know who) say: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Another major tool is Pattern Creation, which seamlessly creates tiled vector patterns.
Verdict for Adobe Illustrator CS6? Definitely thumbs up.
Adobe InDesign CS6 is the tool used to create page (print or web) layouts, and gives absolute control over typography. Whether you are creating newspapers, magazines, digital ebooks or whatever, this is the tool that will help you get the job done the fastest.
I haven’t used InDesign at all, and you can read about the new features here.
Acrobat X Pro
Acrobat Pro is the software that allows you to create PDF files from various sources. No change here, at least as far as I can tell.
Software for Devices and the Web
is that tool that will help you create graphics for the web or virtually any device — from smartphones to kiosks to embedded displays, without coding. It allows the designer to rapidly prototype a web site or app, and is ideal for developers and designers of all types — web, mobile, visual, and user experience.
I haven’t used it at all, and you can read about its new features here.
Adobe Dreamweaver CS6 is a web authoring and editing software that is used to create websites. If you don’t know anything about website design and want to create one, this is the software you need.
The strongest new feature is the Fluid Grid layout, in addition to better CSS3 and JQuery support. You can read about the rest of the new features here.
Even though I missed the presentation, I must give his one a thumbs down. I still need a good reason to ditch hard coding my HTML and CSS.
Flash Professional CS6
Flash is what is used to create, well, flash websites and interactive content. If you want to embed cool moving graphics that need user interaction, this is what you could use. The Impossible Murder and The Indie Farm websites were made with Flash.
The biggest news here is its support for HTML5, the very standard that threatens to replace it. You can read about the rest of its new features here.
Flash Builder 4.6 Premium Edition
Flash Builder is an Eclipse based development tool used to create apps for mobile platforms, using Flash as the framework. This is an upgrade from 4.5 to 4.6, and I’m not sure what it means, or does.
Film, Video and Sound
Adobe Premiere Pro CS6Adobe Premiere Pro CS6
has been the standard for a long time for editing professional film and video. I’ve used it since 2002 and know there’s nothing better out there. It allows native format support for almost any file type, and with GPU integration (since CS5), it is faster than any other editing software on the market.
Is it worth an upgrade from CS5.5? Yes, definitely, if for no other reason than the excellent changes made to the interface, especially within the Project panel. Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 now has uninterrupted playback support which tries to give uninterrupted playback on the timeline no matter what you’re doing! I’ve seen this one in action yesterday and it just blew me away.
Mac users will be happy to know CS6 now supports OpenCL and ATI cards for their Mercury playback engine – ain’t that good news? However, since nVidia has a leg-up (or maybe three) in this department, performance of ATI driven GPUs will still lag far behind their nVidia counterparts. At least, that’s what they told us.
Other new additions include greater support for multi-cam editing (unlimited cameras, according to Karl, the presenter at the Video breakout session), and a new warp stabilizer effect. What else? Premiere Pro now has Adjustment Layers, like Photoshop! Adobe has tried to simplify the steps from ingest to edit through small but powerful changes to the interface, like giving more power to the J-K-L shortcuts, and giving your mouse the power to scrub through thumbnail videos in the project panel!
Enough said. A definite thumbs up.
After Effects CS6
Adobe After Effects CS6 is the gold standard in the visual effects industry. It is used to create motion graphics, visual effects, keying, compositing, you name it. There’s nothing that it can’t do. Period. In short, it is the Photoshop of video. It also has powerful tools for color grading and finishing.
After Effects has been near-perfect for a long time now. Is it worth upgrading from CS5.5? You bet. The biggest new feature is the performance improvement obtained using the Global Performance Cache. If you’ve rendered something, and After Effects crashes, the cache isn’t wiped out. If you make changes to only one layer, the ‘renders’ for the other layers aren’t changed. Cool, or what?
A better 3D camera tracker and 3D Ray-traced graphics are included. Imagine having a bit of 3D Studio Max in After Effects! Not satisfied? How about a new variable mask feature – you heard that right – one mask to rule them all. Also added is a Rolling Shutter Repair plugin, along with a host of updated and new Cycore (CC) plugins that are more than reason why I give Adobe After Effects CS6 a thumbs up.
Adobe Audition CS6
Adobe Audition CS6 is the only tool that is dedicated to sound. It allows you to layer, record, mix and manipulate sound – a vital part of any production workflow. It has a powerful feature set, but is not used extensively in the industry. But it’s there, just in case, and it can get the job done.
Two new features immediately stood out – the automatic speech alignment (works like magic) and support for all kinds of frame rates, including 23.976 and 59.94. However, the changes aren’t really worthy of an upgrade, so I give this one a thumbs down.
Encore is used to author and create DVDs, Blu-ray discs and web DVDs, from a single project. A Premiere Pro project can be directly imported into Encore. The Impossible Murder DVD Master was created using Encore.
Read some of the new features here. The media delivery part of the industry is undergoing a major upheaval, and it’s not clear where things are headed. Considering this, I cannot recommend an Encore upgrade. Thumbs down.
There are two new additions to the CS family, one promising, and regarding the other I’m a little ambivalent.
Adobe Prelude is a new baby. What does it do? I’m still not sure, but what I gather is this: Ingest nearly any file-based format and begin logging immediately, creating searchable markers and other temporal metadata that flows through post-production.
My big question to Adobe is: won’t this complicate matters? Most of Prelude’s functionality is already present in Premiere Pro, so what’s the point? I miss Adobe OnLocation. I feel they should have merged Prelude with OnLocation – that would be killer on set.
One of Adobe’s strange philosophies is to have software with overlapping features. To a certain extent, it makes sense, but sometimes one has to wonder. In any case, Prelude integrates seamlessly with Premiere Pro, and is a byproduct of Adobe’s collaboration with the BBC. For now, I reserve judgement.
Adobe SpeedGrade CS6 was formerly IRIDAS SpeedGrade, and simply put, what it does exclusively is color grading. This was a feature desperately missing from the suite for many years, and we all had to make do with plug-ins. Well, not anymore.
So, how good is it? Very. It is a color engine that is used to handling the most demanding of workflows, and it has native support for Arri Raw and Red Raw. The downside is, since it is a new addition to the suite, it does not have a round trip integration with Premiere Pro or After Effects. Who cares? If you need just one good reason to upgrade to CS6, this is it. A big thumbs up. Read about its features here.
is a media manager that manages and organizes all your source files effectively. Think: a smart windows explorer for your video, images, sound files, etc. Read about it here. Nothing much to say, except it integrates very well with most of the other software in CS6.
Media Encoder CS6
It allows you to create output for any video format or device, including web, phone, and tablet, in 64-bit. This is the software that converts one video format into another, and is as versatile as any I’ve ever seen. The upgrade includes support for Arri Raw, Red Raw from the Epic and Scarlet, and many more. Read about it here.
Well, that’s about it. The big question is, should you upgrade? If you are CS3 or CS4 user, you bet. If you are a CS5 or CS5.5 user, you bet! With Adobe Creative Suite 6 (CS6), upgrading is mandatory! It’s that good.
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