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Adobe Creative Suite 3:
    Applications, Suites, New Features  (8/2007)

    by Douglas Dixon

Applications and Suites
Products and Pricing
Adobe Premiere Pro CS3
    Adobe Encore CS3
    Adobe OnLocation CS3
Adobe After Effects CS3
Adobe Soundbooth CS3
Adobe Device Central CS3
Get Creative

               
        Adobe Creative Suite 3 - Design - Web - Production - Master Collection

The next generation of Adobe's design and development tools shipped in March and July as Adobe Creative Suite 3 (www.adobe.com/products/creativesuite). 

This is a tremendous accomplishment of software development for Adobe, just in releasing new versions of some 13 major applications on its regular two-year product cycle, with major new features, more common interfaces, and stronger integration for moving content between applications. 

But Adobe has done even more, not only also porting the video tools including Premiere Pro and Encore back to the now Intel-based Macintosh platform, but also assimilating the purchase of Macromedia half-way into the development cycle to add Web design tools to the suite and provide integration with Flash video and animation. Oh, and the video suites also include two more exciting tools from the acquisition of Serious Magic.

There's obviously a lot to digest here, so let's take a look at it from several different points of view -- organizing the applications into categories and suites, the actual products and prices, and the individual tools and their new features.

And there's a lot to cover with some 13+ applications in Adobe Creative Suite 3, so we'll focus on some of the new highlights of the video design and development tools in the Production suite.

- See Adobe Creative Suite 3: Summary for an overview of the applications, suites, and pricing.  

- See Adobe Creative Suite 3: Production Suite Summary for summaries of the Production tools.

- See Adobe Soundbooth: Audio for Video for an overview of the new audio tool.

- See Deliver Everywhere: Adobe's Creative Suite 3 for examples of delivering content across many channels.

     Find Adobe Creative Suite 3 Master Collection  (Windows or Mac) on Amazon.com

     Find Adobe Creative Suite 3 Production Premium  (Windows or Mac) on Amazon.com


Applications and Suites

Adobe has organized its creative tools into three main categories: Design tools for print, web, interactive and mobile design and publishing (e.g., Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign); Web design and development tools (e.g., Dreamweaver and Flash), and Production tools for video, post-production and rich media (e.g., Premiere Pro and After Effects).

- See Adobe Creative Suite 3: Summary for an overview of the applications, suites, and pricing

You can still buy the tools individually, although Adobe has simplified things a bit by including Encore (for DVD) and OnLocation (DV capture) with Premiere. But Adobe has also created Design, Web, and Production bundles that combine all the major tools in each area, at the price of only two of the tools. The Design and Web suites also come in a Standard version, and a Premium version that adds almost all the tools from the companion suite for full Design plus Web work -- after all, almost everybody uses Photoshop and Illustrator, whether for print, video, DVD, or Web.

Finally, there's the full Master Collection site, with every single one of these tools, because today's designers are generalists that end up working in all media -- designing and delivering across print, video, and Web. For example, editing photos and graphics for video overlays, DVD menus, and Web animations; then editing video and exporting to the Web.

The Design suite features Adobe Photoshop CS3 for image editing, Illustrator for illustration and vector graphics. InDesign for professional layout and design, and Acrobat 8 Professional for PDF documents. The Design Premium suite upgrades Photoshop to Photoshop CS3 Extended with support for 3D and video, and adds Dreamweaver and Flash.

The Web suite features Adobe Flash CS3 Professional for interactive design, Dreamweaver for website design, Contribute for Web publishing, and Fireworks to optimize images for the Web. The Web Premium suite adds Acrobat, Photoshop CS3 Extended, and Illustrator.

If you're primarily focused on non-video and Web design, the only differences between the Design Premium suite and the Web Premium suite is that Web does not include InDesign, and Design does not include Contribute and Fireworks.

The Production suite comes in one Premium version, and features Adobe After Effects CS3 Professional for motion graphics and visual effects, Premiere Pro for video editing for HD, SD, and DV, Soundbooth for audio enhancement and creation (replacing Audition), and Encore for DVD. It also adds two former Serious Magic tools for Windows only, Adobe OnLocation CS3 for direct-to-disc recording and monitoring (was DV Rack), and Ultra for video keying. Plus, the suite adds Photoshop CS3 Extended, Illustrator, and Flash. However, the Production suite does not include Acrobat or Dreamweaver -- for those you should step up to the Master Collection.

- See Adobe Creative Suite 3: Production Suite Summary for summaries of the Production tools

The Adobe suites also include additional major components, not so much independent applications as components that are designed for integration and collaboration, including Adobe Bridge CS3, a navigational control center, Acrobat Connect for online collaboration, Adobe Stock Photos to access royalty-free images, Version Cue to collaborate on document versions, the new Device Central to preview mobile content, and Adobe Dynamic Link to interchange without rendering between After Effects, Premiere, and Encore. Some of these are included with the individual applications, while others like Version Cue and Dynamic Link only make sense as part of a suite of integrated applications.

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Products and Pricing

That's a lot of products, and Adobe wants you to use them all as an integrated suite, offering the bundled suites at significant discounts, as well as upgrade pricing from previous versions of its products and suites.

- See Adobe Creative Suite 3: Summary for an overview of the applications, suites, and pricing.  

For Design work, you can buy individual copies of Photoshop (US $649 list) and Illustrator ($599), and InDesign ($699), or step up to the Design Standard suite ($1199) with Acrobat ($449). Or move up to the Design Premium suite ($1799) with Photoshop CS3 Extended ($999), the Web tools, and components including Version Cue.

For Web work, you can start with Flash ($699) and Dreamweaver ($399), or step up to the Web Standard suite ($999) with Contribute ($149) and Fireworks ($299). Or move up to the Web Premium suite ($1599) with the Design tools.

And for Production work, you can buy individual copies of After Effects ($999), Premiere Pro ($799, including Encore, OnLocation, and Ultra) and Soundbooth ($249), or move up to the Production Premium Suite ($1699), with Design and Web tools, and components including Dynamic Link.

Or take the big gulp -- all the Adobe creative tools in the Master Collection suite ($2499) -- 13+ major applications and 6+ additional components that integrate together to get you from 2D to 3D, graphics to images, static to motion, print to video to Web.

The Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design and Web tools shipped at the end of March 2007, and the Production tools shipped in July.

The CS3 suite is now cross-platform. Many of the flagship Adobe tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects were already available on the Mac, and so the majority of the CS3 tools are available as Universal applications for both PowerPC and Intel-based Macintosh, and for Microsoft Windows XP and Vista. The Production tools ported back to the Mac (besides After Effects) will be available on Intel-based Mac systems, where they can leverage the processor optimizations for video playback and effects. The exemptions are the two tools added late in the cycle from Serious Magic, OnLocation and Ultra. On the Mac, camera monitoring with OnLocation requires Boot Camp and Windows (purchased separately), or a separate Windows based computer, and the current version of Ultra really is designed as a Windows-only keying application.

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Adobe Premiere Pro CS3

Adobe Premiere Pro is the central tool to capture, edit, and deliver video to disc, the web, and mobile devices (www.adobe.com/products/premiere).

   

Project management has been improved with multiple project panels and bins with smart file filtering. Editing efficiency has been enhanced with the ability to replace a clip in the timeline while preserving the original's attributes and effects (great for using one project as a template for new versions). 

Premiere also can play audio immediately in nested sequences without rendering, and adds new Spectral Design audio filters to reduce noise, control dynamics, and tweak EQ and compression.

Premiere Pro also has improved slow-motion and variable-speed control features, with Time Remapping for variable-rate time stretching directly in timeline, so you can change clip duration and pace to fit a sequence's timing and beats. You get variable-speed slow motion and backward playback, with real-time feedback and keyframe control.

Premiere Pro now exports directly to Flash video (FLV), with timeline markers converted into Flash cue points to trigger interactivity during playback. And for output to mobile devices, Adobe Media Encoder exports H.264 and 3GPP video optimized for playback on mobile phones, Apple iPod, Sony PSP, and other devices, with Adobe Device Central to simulate playback on specific devices.

Premiere Pro also now includes Encore to export to DVD, Blu-ray Disc, and Flash (instead of a build-in simple DVD exporter), OnLocation for on-set monitoring and direct to disc recording, and Ultra for greenscreen keying.

Oh, and there's the other detail that Premiere Pro and Encore are now available for Intel Macs as well as Windows XP / Vista.


Adobe Encore CS3

Adobe Encore is designed for authoring professional-quality DVDs, now also in Blu-ray Disc format and direct to Flash (www.adobe.com/products/premiere/encore). It's now bundled with Premiere Pro as the DVD export tool.

   

The key addition to Encore for disc authoring is support for the high-definition Blu-ray Disc format. You can author a single project with high-def content, and export both as standard-definition DVD and high-def Blu-ray Disc.

In addition, you can also export your DVD production from Encore in Flash SWF format -- the entire DVD playback experience, complete with menus, interactivity, and video content, without scripting and without Flash authoring -- ready to post on the Web and accessible to the 95%+ of Web users who have the Flash player.

Adobe OnLocation CS3

Adobe OnLocation is a new version of Serious Magic DV Rack HD for on-set video monitoring and direct to disk capture (www.adobe.com/products/premiere/onlocation). It's also bundled with Premiere Pro. However, it's a  Windows application, and therefore requires Boot Camp on a Macintosh running under Windows.

   

Use OnLocation for step-by-step camera calibration, and to monitor recording quality, especially video and audio distortion. Check video levels with the virtual reference monitor, waveform and vectorscope, View underscan, safe-area, variable aspect ratios; with split-screen and dual-zebra modes. There's also an audio spectrum analyzer.

OnLocation also provides direct-to-disk recording (which saves time-consuming capturing from tape). Record DV and HDV directly from FireWire camera even to a laptop hard drive. There's a pre-record buffer of up to 30 seconds to capture video from before you press the Record button. Also record stop-motion animation or time-lapse sequences.

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Adobe After Effects CS3

Adobe After Effects is the go-to tool for motion graphics and visual effects, spanning film, video, DVD (i.e., motion menus), the Web, and also mobile devices (www.adobe.com/products/aftereffects).

   

The new CS3 version adds Shape Layers for Illustrator-like vector graphic creation directly within After Effects, plus text animation of individual characters in 3D. The amazing new Puppet tool provides a simplified approach to squash-and-stretch animation of 2D images: just add a few push-pin control points, and drag with the mouse in real time to record keyframed animations. And the new Brainstorm interface helps experiment with animation options by presenting a grid of variations previewing in real time, so you can click and repeat to refine the look. 

After Effects also adds the Adobe Clip Notes tool from Premiere Pro for review and approval: Export a composition as a PDF file, the reviewer can play and annotate it with Adobe Reader, and the remarks are saved as timecode clip markers for further collaboration and editing.

After Effects is even more strongly integrated with the other Adobe tools. With Photoshop, create and animate Photoshop Layer Styles, import Photoshop 2D Vanishing Point images to create animated 3D scenes based on the photo's shapes and textures, and use new Photoshop CS3 Extended video layers for rotoscoping and animated paint. And with Flash, import Flash SWF files, rasterize Flash vector shapes and preserve alpha channels, export After Effects keyframes as Flash cue points, and batch render Flash video files, exporting multiple formats in one render pass.

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Adobe Soundbooth CS3

Adobe Soundbooth is a new tool for everyday audio editing and cleanup, sound design, and music creation. It replaces Adobe Audition in the suite as an audio tool designed for video editors, web developers, motion graphics artists, and creative pros (www.adobe.com/products/soundbooth). 

   

Adobe Audition continues as an independent high-end audio editing tool on a separate development schedule (www.adobe.com/products/audition). The new Audition 3 was announced in September, and is due before the end of the year. 

- See Adobe Soundbooth: Audio for Video for an overview of this new audio tool

Soundbooth offers direct audio editing with on-clip controls for trim, fade, and volume control, plus fast audio cleanup tools for common issues including removing background noise, hiss, rumble, clicks, and pops. Then apply more than 15 audio filters with presets, and stack up to five filters in the Effects Rack and preview in real time.

In addition to improving recorded tracks, you can also create customized music using AutoComposer with customizable Soundbooth Scores, adjusting the length, mood, and instrumentation to match your production, with keyframing. Adobe will provide an online Resource Central to browse additional sound effects and Soundbooth Scores.            

Adobe released the Soundbooth AutoComposer Toolkit in August, to produce your own Soundbooth Scores (www.adobe.com/devnet/soundbooth).

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Adobe Device Central CS3

Adobe Device Central is a new component to preview exported content for mobile devices from a variety of the Adobe tools (www.adobe.com/products/creativesuite/devicecentral). 

It is designed to preview, test, and optimize mobile content on simulated mobile and handheld devices, including video and images, and Web and Flash Lite content.

   

It uses a library of devices with detailed specifications and supported content types, and then simulates playback on selected devices, including the appearance, performance, and behavior. 

Device Central also emulates device memory, backlit screens in bright sunlight, and low-battery conditions, and you can use the emulated keypad to interact with Flash Lite content.

- See Deliver Everywhere: Adobe's Creative Suite 3 for examples of delivering content across many channels

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Get Creative

The new Adobe Creative Suite 3 is an impressive accomplishment, bringing together leading applications, now even more tightly integrated and with astounding new capabilities to move from 2D to 3D, stills to motion, visuals to video to Web. There's obviously a lot more that we could cover in these and the other Adobe applications, but there will be more time for that when the Production tools ship.

Visit the Adobe website for more information on the products, extensive online documentation and resources for designers and developers, the , and to download trial versions of the applications (www.adobe.com/products/creativesuite). Also check out the Adobe developer information, forums and blogs, and the Adobe Exchange to share templates (www.adobe.com/cfusion/exchange).

In addition, Adobe has become even more open about its plans, so you can get a head start on new developments. For CS3, Adobe pre-announced the move back to the Mac platform and even released details of upcoming official announcements. 

And check out the Adobe Labs site, with free public betas of new technology and application releases (labs.adobe.com), not only for new applications like Soundbooth, but also with prerelease versions of Premiere Pro and After Effects.

Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design and Web suites shipped in April 2007, and the Production tools shipped in July.

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Originally published in Camcorder & Computer Video magazine, 23, 4, August 2007.