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Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection
An overview of the suite that brings it all together
by Jim Fisher

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Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection

A lot has happened in the two short years since Adobe last upgraded their popular Creative Suite software series: Adobe acquired Macromedia and Serious Magic, the final Star Wars prequel was released, Apple moved from PowerPC to Intel processors, the Chicago White Sox won their first World Series since prior to the 1919 Black Sox scandal, and Microsoft released its perpetually-delayed Windows Vista operating system (wow!).

I'll leave it to the reader to decide which of those facts are pertinent to the topic at hand. The important thing is much has changed in that time period on both major operating platforms. Adobe's new Creative Suite, CS3 for those keeping score at home, is set to be released on the third quarter of this year.

What Do You Need to Know?
Before we delve into the details of the suite, there are a few things to be aware of. First off for Mac users: yes, it's Intel native. However, not all applications are Universal Binary. This means that it's finally time to upgrade those ailing G5 Power Macs to the latest and greatest Mac Pro. Premiere Pro, Encore and Soundbooth will only run on Intel chips. OS X "Tiger" 10.4.9 or higher is required for the suite to function. (Please note- Ultra and OnLocation, two of the applications in the suite, will only run on Windows.)

The second thing, yes, this is Vista friendly. CS3 will run on the 32-bit versions of Vista Home Premium, Business, Ultimate or Enterprise. It is also compatible with Windows XP Home and Professional editions with Service Pack 2.

The software itself needs some horsepower to run well. Adobe recommends a Pentium 4, Xeon or Core Duo CPU, at least 1 GB of memory for DV editing and 2 GB for working with HDV or HD video. If your system supports more than 2 GB, go for it. "More RAM is recommended when running multiple components" according to Adobe...and we all know what that means.

The Master Collection takes up about 30 GB of hard drive space for a full install. You'll need a 7200 rpm drive for video DV and HDV editing if you want to work with HD footage,and keep in mind you'll need a RAID 0 array. In due time, you'll also be hankering for a high resolution display, a DVD or Blu-ray burner, etc, etc.

CS3 will be available in several different bundles, each designed for a specific industry. Design Standard and Design Premium are aimed at graphic designers, Web Standard and Web Premium at web developers, and Production Premium at video producers. But what about the jack-of-all-trades, the creative professional who needs a little bit of everything?

The Master Collection
This is where the Master Collection (available late June, $2498.95) enters the picture. Quite simply, it's got everything you need including Version Cue CS3, Dynamic Link, Stock Photos, Acrobat Connect and the following applications.

Bridge CS3
Bridge, often maligned for lack of speed in previous versions of CS, has undergone many changes since last we met. The new version creates low-resolution thumbnails for faster folder access along with the ability to produce high-resolution thumbnails on demand, or have Bridge create a high-res version only when an item is previewed.

You'll also be able to download images from a digital camera or memory card via Bridge, adding metadata or even converting to Adobe DNG format during import. Bridge also supports multiple-item preview, allows you to stack images, features powerful filtering tools and includes a magnifying loupe for eyeballing the details of your digital images.

Last, but not least, Bridge now supports live conferencing. Based on the Macromedia Breeze technology, Bridge's meeting tools are built on Flash for a truly cross-platform experience. This allows project groups to communicate, share screens and more in Mac, Windows and mixed operating environments. A subscription to Adobe's online conference service is required.

Device Central CS3
This component is completely new to the Creative Suite. It's designed to help developers create web pages, Flash applications, videos and graphics for display on mobile phones, PDAs and other portable devices. Device emulators will show you exactly what your project will look like on a specific mobile device, going so far as to emulate its processing power and memory. You'll also have the ability to control the application using a clickable interface that reproduces the buttons and controls found on a particular device. The included library of devices is limited to those that support Flash Lite.

InDesign CS3
InDesign allows you to create professional page layouts for publication. It features tools that graphic designers need to do their day-to-day work. InDesign CS3 now allows you to create object effects, export documents to XHTML and generate layouts from XML data. It also features improved transparency controls, long document support and a customizable user interface.

Acrobat 8 Professional
Acrobat allows you to create documents in the ubiquitous PDF format. PDF documents will look the same on every computer on which you view them, making them an essential tool for designers who need to send proofs to clients. This professional version is designed to integrate with other applications in the suite and includes support for forms that can be digitally completed by end-users.

Illustrator CS3
Illustrator is a powerful vector graphics creation tool. Vector graphics can be scaled in size to be used in web, video or print without the loss of quality that you get when "blowing up" a digital photo or other raster image. Illustrator CS3 now features true Flash integration, facilitating a smooth and natural workflow between the vector graphics and vector animation programs. Illustrator now also integrates with Fireworks.

Photoshop CS3 Extended
The key word here is "extended." This edition of Photoshop is the first to incorporate tools for importing 3D objects. Web designers and video producers will appreciate the ability to add 3D graphics to their projects. Photoshop CS3 Extended can also paint and clone over multiple video frames, turning the software into a quick rotoscoping tool that can remove a pesky boom mic from several frames of video.

Flash CS3 Professional
Flash is no longer just a tool for fancy web sites. The software is now used to create powerful applications for mobile devices. It also allows you to import files from Photoshop and Illustrator with layer and structure information. You can easily convert a timeline animation to ActionScript 3.0 code, which can then be applied to other projects. Flash also allows you to export animations in FLV video format, which is ideal for use on the web.

Dreamweaver CS3
Dreamweaver allows you to create web pages that leverage the latest web technologies. The software allows you to work with a CSS-based web design workflow, and features CSS design and management tools, a browser compatibility check, and support for Spry effects for Ajax. Dreamweaver CS3 also features integration with Device Central, Photoshop and other applications in the Creative Suite.

Fireworks CS3
Fireworks CS3 is designed to quickly create prototype versions of websites, complete with user interfaces. The software now features support for Photoshop layers. You can even share a layer across several pages in a site. Fireworks can also optimize vector and bitmap graphics for use on the web.

Contribute CS3
Contribute allows multiple users to update a single web site without stepping on each other's toes. It features tools to ensure that the design of the site remains consistent, even with multiple users performing updates. The software now features true WYSIWYG authoring, Microsoft Office integration and support for Flash video and PDF documents.

After Effects CS3 Professional
The "Professional" here might be a bit unnecessary, as Adobe has dropped the Standard edition of After Effects from their product line. The new version of the compositing suite features some very cool features. Shape Layers are vector graphics that can be animated and added to video projects. After Effects CS3 also features improved integration with Photoshop and Flash.

Premiere Pro CS3
Adobe's professional video editing suite is now available for the Mac. It features most of the capability of the Windows version, including some cool new features. Adobe has improved the slow-motion capabilities with an enhanced Time Remapping interface. Premiere Pro CS3 also supports optimized video output for cell phones, iPods, PSPs and other mobile devices. Flash integration is also improved; Premiere Pro video markers are converted to Flash cue points on export to FLV.

Encore CS3
Encore is now built into Premiere Pro. The DVD authoring application has added support for Blu-ray and Flash authoring, allowing you to deliver high-definition content to clients. You don't even have to create a separate project for the different formats: just open your project and choose DVD, Blu-ray or Flash from the Build menu. Encore's CS3 output options allow you to create a digital portfolio that can be delivered on disc or to the web.

Ultra and OnLocation CS3 (Windows only)
Ultra is a new addition to the Creative Suite. Formerly marketed by Serious Magic, the software is designed for professional chroma key applications and features advanced keying technology that help overcome obstacles that used to drive compositors crazy. Frizzy hair, uneven lighting and wrinkled backdrops are history with Ultra.

You may know OnLocation better as "DV Rack," another Serious Magic application that has worked its way into the Creative Suite by way of corporate acquisition. The software is designed to turn your computer into a powerful field monitor for DV video. Plug your camcorder into your computer via FireWire and you'll get a much better picture of what you're recording as compared to the LCD screen on your camcorder.

Both applications are now part of Premiere Pro. Unfortunately for those drinking the Steve Jobs-flavored Kool-Aid, they are only included with the Windows version. Mac users will only be able to use them if they have Boot Camp and Windows XP installed.

Soundbooth CS3

Soundbooth is a powerful audio editing application that is designed to handle common audio production tasks. You'll be able to trim clips, remove noise, create foley effects, polish voiceovers and customize music for use in your video projects. Soundbooth CS3 is built
around the familiar Adobe interface and it works seamlessly with the other applications
in the CS3 suite.

Note: Please be aware that customers who purchase an earlier version of Adobe Production Studio Premium, After Effects 7.0 Professional and Premiere Pro 2.0 between May 27th and August 28th, 2007 will receive a complimentary upgrade to the new CS3 version of these products when they ship. (Currently slated for July 2007).

For upgrade information, please call Adobe’s Customer Service Center at 1800-833-6687.

Please email feedback on this article, or suggestions for future topics, to emailfeedback@bhphotovideo.com.