Adobe Updates Digital Video Apps

LAS VEGAS -- Adobe has upgraded its professional video production products, adding a host of features to Premiere Pro, After Effects, and other applications. The company demonstrated the products in front of enthusiastic crowds at the National Association of Broadcasters convention here this week.

Highlights of the refreshed line include a new, powerful project-management tool in Premiere Pro, new animation presets and a cloning tool for After Effects, and more efficient workflow and integration with other related products in the whole Adobe Video Collection suite.

Each part of the Video Collection suite, now in version 2.5, is upgraded. The suite's four core components are Premiere Pro 1.5, a video editing package ($699, upgrade $99); After Effects 6.5, motion graphics and effects software (standard edition $699, pro edition $999, upgrade $99); Audition 1.5, an audio editing, mixing, and mastering program ($299, upgrade $69); and Encore DVD 1.5, a DVD authoring program ($549, upgrade $99).

The standard version of the suite will sell for $999, while the pro version will cost $1499 and include Photoshop CS. (Photoshop CS is also part of Adobe's Creative Suite for design and desktop publishing aficionados.) Users of previous standard or pro versions of the suite can upgrade to the corresponding new package for $249; users of the standard version can upgrade to the new pro version for $799. The suite and each of its new components are scheduled to become available this spring.

Project Power

Premiere Pro's new Project Manager is designed to make organizing a project easier. You can collect all files in a given project from their places on different hard drives and copy them to a new location, making it simpler to transfer and share that project. The original files are not deleted, just copied (you can delete them in a separate process).

More important, you can edit the project at lower resolutions to speed things up, save the new project without the unused clips, and then recapture at a higher resolution. Though it may not be sexy, a feature like this is critical for day-to-day work, says Richard Townhill, group product manager for Adobe Video Products.

Premiere Pro 1.5 can also import and export Advanced Authoring Format (AAF) and Edit Decision List (EDL) files, so shops with multiple editing platforms can share work more effectively.

Effects have also gotten a boost. With new Bezier keyframe controls, editors can create smoother, more natural motion in animations. Effects Favorites lets you save any effect parameters as a preset option for quick reuse. And True 3D effects take advantage of the processing power in high-end graphics cards to preserve 3D effects even when the image gets moved around or rotated.

The upgraded package also lets you cut and paste between Premiere Pro and After Effects, preserving essential object qualities. Additionally, you get four one-touch color adjustments, similar to Photoshop CS.

Snazzy, Speedy, Efficient

Thanks to new features and plug-ins, working with After Effects 6.5 will be faster. It features a new disk-caching system that speeds up real-time playback and previews.

GridIron Software's X-Factor plug-in for After Effects 6.5 Professional will also help you complete your work faster. The plug-in turns a small network into a shared computing environment so that the processing power of multiple connected systems works together to speed up rendering and previewing. It also leaves you power for other tasks.

The basic version, for use with two computers, is available for free. X-Factor Plus costs $99 per CPU, and X-Factor Unlimited costs $1995.

The new Effects & Presets palette makes your work more efficient, as well. It allows you to store effects, transformations, masks, expressions, and text as an animation preset for reuse. The program offers 60 new effects, such as Light Burst (ray-of-light transition), and Particle World (for smoke or sparks), and 250 text Animation Presets.

The Advanced Cloning Tool includes a visual overlay of the source over the intended target so you can better see what you're about to do. You can access and save five new clone presets from the Paint palette. New, too, are a number of color correction and grain management tools, though the grain management is available only in the pro version.

The upgrade also improves After Effects' OpenGL support.

Working Together

Like Premiere Pro, the new After Effects is more tightly integrated with other Adobe products, so you can fully edit text from Photoshop CS files. You can also preserve the layers in files between the two programs to a much greater degree. The new version lets you import Encore DVD menus and use After Effects to change groups of layers into buttons or a video background. Likewise, menus you create in After Effects preserve their attributes in Encore.

The improved interoperability within the Adobe product family is apparent when you're creating a DVD with Encore DVD 1.5. Markers in Premiere or After Effects AVI or MPEG-2 files will be made into chapter points automatically, among other benefits.

You also get better design via a Library palette that lets you organize items such as menus, buttons, and backgrounds. The new Styles Palette lets you store Photoshop CS layer effects like shadows and glows to change menu elements. This version adds support for the QuickTime format.

Users of Audition 1.5 get new editing and effects tools as well. With the Frequency Space editing feature, you can isolate any sound within a specific frequency range--say, a buzzing plane in the background--and edit it out or add effects to it. Also new are a Pitch Correction tool and a Click/Pop Eliminator that lets you clean up audio, among other improvements.

Apple Computer also unveiled a number of its own new or upgraded pro video and multimedia products at NAB.

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