Today Adobe announced a line-wide upgrade to all of its Creative Suite software products for Mac and Windows, which comprise about a dozen individual programs and several suites that bundle them in various combinations to form Creative Suite 6 Design Standard, Design & Web Premium, Production Premium and the omnibus Master Collection. For media artists of every description, this is of course a big announcement.
As for the individual Creative Suite programs that received updates, many of these are no doubt familiar, if not household names: Premiere Pro CS6, After Effects CS6, Photoshop CS6 & Photoshop Extended CS6, Illustrator CS6, InDesign CS6, Flash Professional CS6, Audition CS6, Fireworks CS6 and Dreamweaver CS6. But there are more—some lesser-known names. Foremost among these is probably Speedgrade CS6, available with CS6 Production Premium and the Master Collection.
SpeedGrade is a key reminder that as mature as Creative Suite is, there’s always room for brand-new tools. Color grading becomes crucial as RAW video and HDR imagery becomes more accessible to a broader swath of the professional and even prosumer video market. So Adobe was smart to realize that anyone shooting RAW video needs a good, accessible color-grading solution. SpeedGrade CS6 is a promising color-grading solution, too: The program is based on the Hollywood-level tool from Iridas, whose assets Adobe purchased last year. More about that later as we explore what’s new and what’s improved.
The aforementioned SpeedGrade CS6 allows editors to perform primary and secondary color correction from within the Creative Suite 6 Master Collection and Production Premium suites. Layer-based color grading is absolutely crucial for those who are shooting RAW video, of course, unless the milky, low-contrast look enjoys a burst in popularity.
Since that’s not likely, the GPU-accelerated SpeedGrade CS6 is the in-suite solution for applying lookup tables (LUTs), balancing gamma and more. For any footage, you can use intuitive tools to draw and apply masks to specific objects and areas within a frame. The software works with traditional video, RAW footage, HDR footage and stereoscopic 3D clips, in formats that include DPX, Alexa, RED, QuickTime, Targa, TIFF, Phantom, Weisscam and OpenEXR.
Also added to Production Premium and the Master Collection is a workflow tool that eases the post-production process by addressing the data at the front end. Adobe Prelude CS6 is an ingest and tagging program that also allows you to perform rough cuts and send them to Premiere Pro with one click. Hobbyists might not see much utility in such a tool, but long-form documentary projects and news operations should love the new tool, which lets you log footage on the keyboard without taking your eyes off the screen. Tagging is a stitch in time that saves nine: By just entering a keyword, you can find specific objects, people, locations, dialog and more down the line. This means that by using Prelude, assistant editors can shave hours off your top dog’s involvement on the project.
As usual, a few standout individual tools have been added to each CS6 program. (Photoshop & Photoshop Extended receive a new Content-Aware Patch, for instance, and After Effects CS6 enjoys more than 90 new or expanded effects.) But there are larger themes of this refresh: streamlining the interfaces, boosting performance, delivering to new formats and accommodating mission creep. A word about that last one: Every year, our technological expectations rise a little bit. What once astounded is now commonplace; what once was a nice added feature is now a travesty if it shows up missing. We understand this concept both as producers of creative content and as consumers of technology and media.
So it’s not enough for a magazine to have a website; it also needs an iPad app. And that iPad app can’t just be the words and photos from the website—after all, this is often a premium, paid-for item, not a free, ad-supported website. So the app needs behind-the-scenes video of the photo shoot. Meanwhile, the editor wants a video trailer for the cover story. All those tasks tend to draw from a common pool of media resources, and the more an artist can accomplish from within one program, the smoother the workflow of the project will be.
That’s why, for instance, Premiere Pro CS6 inherits the Warp Stabilizer effect that was a key addition to After Effects the last time around, with CS5.5. Now editors can stabilize shaky video and repair rolling-shutter artifacts without having to boot up a second program, or worse, waiting for the house’s After Effects artist to turn around that piece of the project. For that same reason, InDesign CS6 adds small-bore capabilities such as the creation of field-laden PDF forms within the program. As our job descriptions expand, so do Adobe’s programs, which means we can keep working without booting up additional software programs—and without slamming on the brakes.
Along similar lines, media artists are now expected to be able to publish to anything with a screen. This is of course, where programs like InDesign CS6, Flash Professional CS6 and Dreamweaver CS6 shine. In Flash Professional, access to the latest Flash Player and Adobe AIR run times means your video, game and animation content will play on all the latest Android and Apple iOS smart phones. Integrated mobile frameworks within Dreamweaver allow you to publish native applications for the same mobile devices. Meanwhile, InDesign lets you create a single document with multiple layouts for various screen sizes.
Undergirding all this expanded functionality, of course, is the performance of each program. Recent versions of Premiere (CS5 and up) have required 64-bit operating systems, so that editors could take advantage of the program’s then-new Mercury Playback Engine. Supported by 64-bit architecture, the Mercury engine is able to address all your system RAM to push more streams across your screen, with more effects, in real time. The CS6 versions of Photoshop and Illustrator now enjoy analogs to this: the Mercury Graphics Engine of Photoshop and the Mercury Performance System of Illustrator similarly enable your 64-bit computer to address full system RAM in order to speed imaging and processing tasks that once slowed you down.
And that’s really the larger point of the various applications and suites that compose the Creative Suite 6 family. At this late date, there’s very little in the realm of digital media manipulation that professionals cannot accomplish. Rather, it’s a question of if they can afford to, or more likely, whether they have the time to do so. By expanding the scope of its applications and improving their performance, Adobe is ensuring that editors, graphic designers and effects artists will be able to do more, even more quickly.
|After Effects CS6||Mac||PC|
|Creative Suite 6 Design Standard||Mac||PC|
|Creative Suite 6 Design Standard (Student & Teacher Edition)||Mac||PC|
|Creative Suite 6 Design & Web Premium||Mac||PC|
|Creative Suite 6 Design & Web Premium (Student & Teacher Edition)||Mac||PC|
|Flash Professional CS6||Mac||PC|
|Creative Suite 6 Master Collection||Mac||PC|
|Creative Suite 6 Master Collection (Student & Teacher Edition)||Mac||PC|
|Premiere Pro CS6||Mac||PC|
|Creative Suite 6 Production Premium||Mac||PC|
|Photoshop CS6 (Student & Teacher Edition)||Mac||PC|
|Photoshop Extended CS6||Mac||PC|
|Photoshop Extended CS6 (Student & Teacher Edition)||Mac||PC|