Those of you who read my blog will know that at the end of January, I spent half a day at an exclusive press event (and a further half day at a follow up event a couple of weeks ago). Since both events were under Non Disclosure Agreement, I was unable to say anything more until now…when I can exclusively reveal that they were previews of Adobe’s Creative Suite 3, which will be formerly announced today.
Now that the dust has settled from the Macromedia merger and they’ve had time to fully assimilate their former rival’s product line, be prepared for some surprises, because not only does CS3 see updates to all of the applications it contains (except for the recently released Acrobat Professional 8 )…it also sees the unification of almost every application that Adobe (and the former Macromedia) have to offer…yup…that’s print, web, design, audio and video…which is why Adobe are, quite correctly, billing it as their biggest launch ever!
Exactly which applications CS3 contains depends upon which version of the suite you choose. When it ships it will be available in six different configurations, targeted at three different user bases (full details of which are at the end of this article). There will also be a Master Suite, which will contain literally everything (and which I expect to be reviewing as soon as it is available).
At the time of writing, CS3 is so fresh, that Adobe have only been able to supply myself (and other journos) with betas for some of its component applications, so although I’ve been able to spend the last few weeks playing with the new Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash and Contribute, what follows is merely a preview.
Kicking it all off is Photoshop, which, is now available as CS3 and…wait for it… ‘CS3 Extended’. Both offer a streamlined interface, live re-editable ‘Smart Filters’, automatic layer alignment and blending, Adobe’s “next generation” camera Raw, multiple adjustable angle perspective planes in ‘Vanishing Point’, enhanced Merge to 32-Bit HDR, proper black and White conversion, improved curves adjustment, enhanced cloning, healing and photomerging, ‘Lightroom’ integration, a new printing interface co-developed with HP and various workflow enhancements. CS3 Extended adds to this specialised features and tools designed for professionals in film, TV, manufacturing, architecture, engineering and medical science, including 3D and motion support, time based cloning and healing on Photoshop’s new video layers, 3D model visualisation and texture editing, export of 3D models from 2D images, image analysis using new 2D & 3D measurement tools and support for DICOM images and MATLAB processing routines.
Freehand is dead…and that’s official! So long live Illustrator, which compensates for Flash’s continued lack of comprehensive image creation tools by tightly integrating with it. Now your entire Illustrator layer and grouping structure, including paths, anchor point positions, gradients, clipping masks, symbols and objects names are preserved in Flash, allowing you to move between the two seamlessly and to use Illustrator efficiently and reliably as the front end for your Flash creations. You can even use Illustrator to create Flash symbols. New tools include an eraser, a crop area tool and a point alignment tool which allows you to align points in same way you align and distribute objects. Document profiles enables you to create document for various mediums including video and Live colour offers a multitude of ways to work with colour…live…
Photoshop has been integrated as tightly with Flash as has Illustrator and a comprehensive dialogue box allows you to choose exactly how Flash handles your layers when importing a PSD. To aid drawing, a pen tool, which looks and behaves exactly the same way as the pen tool in Illustrator has been added. Once you’ve finished using it to create animations, Flash allows you to automatically convert them to ActionScript 3.0, allowing developers, who know nothing about animation timing, to mess with yours irrevocably. On the upside converting to ActionScript will make your files substantially and impressively smaller and thus faster loading. QuickTime encoding and video export have been improved and ‘Device Central’, which can be accessed from a variety of applications in CS3, allows you to preview and test your content on simulations of just about every mobile device in existence.
Against all the odds, I’m pleasantly surprised to see that Fireworks has been kept on…though I’d still rather it and Photoshop were merged into one product…called Fireworks…which retained the ease of use of Fireworks and the power of Photoshop…’cause that’s really gonna happen…. Aside from tight integration with and native support for Photoshop and Illustrator, there’s very little more to say. In many ways, watching it demoed felt a little like Adobe were clutching at straws to justify its continued existence. However, the one salient point that they do make, is that thanks to tight integration between the various applications, existing users can continue to work with the application of their choice (Fireworks or Photoshop) in one seamless workflow.
Macromedia’s tool for enabling your clients to update their sites now includes WYSYWIG blog templates, easy Flash upload, embedded PDF support, the addition of buttons to Microsoft Office, Explorer 7 and Firefox 2 that enable direct web page and blog posting from MS Office applications and direct editing of web pages visited in the aforementioned browsers, and support for FTP, SFTP, WebDav, MetaWeblog and Atom.
InDesign continues to go from strength to strength. A variety of Photoshop effects, blending modes and opacity controls can now be applied to objects on a page directly from within the program. These include ‘Gradient Feather’, ‘Satin’, ‘Inner Shadow’, ‘Inner Glow’ and ‘Outer Glow’ and transparency settings can be applied independently of an object’s fill, stroke and content. Table and cell styles allow you to create and apply formatting to everything from cell regions to entire documents. These styles can be saved and reused, allowing for consistent document wide changes. A default fit to frame behaviour means that when contents are placed in a frame, they fit perfectly. Productivity enhancements include import and placement of multiple files in a single step and an expanded ‘Quick Apply’. There is a new visual pages panel for easier document navigation and page rearrangement, enhanced long document support, expanded find/change, synchronization of master pages across a book, advanced bullets and numbering controls, export to XHTML and expanded scripting support.
Premiere Pro CS3
If you haven’t already heard, the biggest news about Premiere, is, of course, that it will be available for Intel based Macs, as well as PCs…for the five Mac users out there who aren’t forever wedded to Final Cut Pro…
Aside from that, I think I may have blinked and missed what else is new…OK, I’m exaggerating…there’s improved slow motion, improved FLV export (which, annoyingly is still single pass) and comprehensive support for output to mobile devices by using the Adobe media encoder together with the previously mentioned Device Central.
If you though that there wasn’t much to say about Premiere, there’s even less to say about Encore, which is now billed as being merely ‘included with Premiere’…and let’s hope completely assimilated by it in the next release… Encore now offers Blue Ray (but no HD DVD) support and allows you to publish your finished projects direct to the web….and that’s about it.
On Location CS3
Bundled with Premiere is ‘On Location CS3’, which was previously ‘DV Rack’, by ‘Serious Magic’…another of Adobe’s recent
assimilations acquisitions. It allows direct to disk recording from DV and HDV cameras (but not from HD cameras and certainly not uncompressed 4K…so I guess I’ll just have to find something else to use with my RedCam when it arrives…). It also offers a stack of professional on set monitoring options including various scopes, waveform monitors, etc., that are designed to let you use a laptop in the field in place of a broadcast monitor…which is great in theory, but which completely ignores the fact that laptop displays simply aren’t of the same quality as broadcast monitors…which is precisely why you’d want to take one into the field. Of course there are many useful facilities that On Location offers…but by the time you’ve finished messing around with scopes and waveforms, you could have exposed several thousand feet of 35mm film (I’m so goddamn progressive).
On Location CS3 is a PC only application. Although it is included in the Mac version of CS3, it requires ‘BootCamp’.
After Effects CS3
In sharp contrast (no pun intended…for once) to Premiere, After Effects CS3 blew me away. A new vector graphics creation tool, similar to the one in Illustrator, allows you to create and animate complex shapes in seconds. We’re talking serious VJing food here. The puppet tool enables the placement of ‘pins’ on 2D images. These pins act like joints in a cut out animation. Drag a joint…as opposed to take a drag of a joint and your images are instantly animated (with all of the keyframes set automatically). Layer styles, as found in Photoshop, have now been added, allowing drop shadows, inner and outer glow, bevel, emboss, satin, colour and gradient overlay. Photoshop documents using the new video layers can be seamlessly imported. Vanishing point data can be imported from Photoshop for compositing. Any stream of After Effects keyframes can be used to create cue points in Flash. FLV files can be batch rendered and can contain alpha channels. ‘Brainstorm’ lets you quickly and easily experiment with motion graphics by providing a grid containing full motion previews of your content, each of which varies depending upon the parameters you decide to explore. Colour management can now be enabled, using ICC profiles. Performance improvements are claimed throughout and previews can now take advantage of multi processor and multi core machines. Finally, device central integration allows output to the full range of mobile devices.
This is another former Serious Magic product that offers some…serious magic.
What it does is twofold. Firstly it offers chromakey, which might not sound like a big deal until you see it perfectly key an actor/presenter…shot against a completely unevenly lit background…on mini DV…now that’s magic!
Once you’ve extracted the star of your show, you can drop he/she/it into a GPU accelerated virtual set, of which there is a library included. Although these sets are put together in 3D Studio Max, it is not currently possible to build your own as a SDK has yet to be released….note the use of the word yet…
Although Audition will continue life as a standalone PC only application, it has been dropped from CS3 in favour of Adobe’s brand new application, Soundbooth, which is designed to make it simple for non-audio professionals to work with sound.
Mastering is as simple as clicking a button…the ‘louder’ button (sic). Spectral analysis together with Photoshop style marquee, lasso and healing tools enable visual repair of audio, while audio cleanup tools enable removal of hiss, hum, clicks, pops and other unwanted background noise.
There are 15 effects on offer (up to 5 of which can be used simultaneously) including EQ, reverb, delay, chorus, distortion, time and pitch stretching and Soundbooth ships with 3000 sound effects (including a toilet). Controversially, it also includes dozens of customisable, royalty free scores, for producers who are too cheap, lazy and untalented to employ real musicians or to create original music.
As mentioned at the start of this preview, there will be six different configurations of CS3 available, targeted at three different user bases, as follows:
Design Premium: Photoshop Extended CS3, Illustrator CS3, InDesign CS3, Acrobat 8 Professional, Flash CS3 Professional, Dreamweaver CS3, Bridge CS3, Version Cue CS3, Device Central CS3, Stock Photos, Connect.
Design Standard: Photoshop CS3, Illustrator CS3, InDesign CS3, Acrobat 8 Professional, Bridge CS3, Version Cue CS3, Device Central CS3, Stock Photos, Connect.
Web Premium: Photoshop Extended CS3, Illustrator CS3, Acrobat 8 Professional, Flash CS3 Professional, Dreamweaver CS3, Contribute CS3, Fireworks CS3, Bridge CS3, Version Cue CS3, Device Central CS3, Stock Photos, Connect .
Web Standard: Flash CS3 Professional, Dreamweaver CS3, Contribute CS3, Fireworks CS3, Bridge CS3, Version Cue CS3, Device Central CS3, Stock Photos, Connect.
Production Premium: Photoshop Extended CS3, Illustrator CS3, Flash CS3 Professional,
After Effects Professional CS3, Premiere Pro CS3, Soundbooth CS3, Encore CS3, On Location CS3, Ultra CS3, Bridge CS3, Device Central CS3, Dynamic Link, Stock Photos, Connect.
Master Collection: Photoshop Extended CS3, Illustrator CS3, InDesign CS3, Acrobat 8 Professional, Flash CS3 Professional, Dreamweaver CS3, Contribute CS3, Fireworks CS3, After Effects Professional CS3, Premiere Pro CS3, Soundbooth CS3, Encore CS3, On Location CS3, Ultra CS3, Bridge CS3, Version Cue CS3, Device Central CS3, Dynamic Link, Stock Photos, Connect.
Pricing and Availability
Adobe Creative Suite 3 Web Premium, Adobe Creative Suite 3 Web Standard, Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design Premium and Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design Standard and standalone versions of Adobe Photoshop CS3 and Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended are expected to ship in April 2007. Adobe Creative Suite 3 Production Premium and Adobe Creative Suite 3 Master Collection will begin shipping worldwide in the third quarter of 2007.
Estimated UK street prices are 1195.00 UKP for Adobe Creative Suite 3 Web Premium, 1409.00 for Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design Premium and 1969.00 UKP for Adobe Creative Suite 3 Master Collection. Price for the standalone versions of Adobe Photoshop CS3 is £485 and £755 for Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended, with numerous upgrade paths available for Adobe customers.
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