We have all the news on the new CS3 Adobe news including: Public Betas of Premiere CS3 and After Effects CS3 at NAB, pricing, and film and production implications and improvement. John Montgomery takes a first look at CS3 Production Premium Bundle, going behind and beyond today’s Press Releases.
To begin with, our first big news regarding NAB. On the Monday of NAB — April 16th — users will be able to download public beta versions of the new Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 and After Effects CS3. Premiere Pro is only being released for Intel Macs, but otherwise Premiere and After Effects will be available for both Mac and PC. Ostensibly, this will help to steal some of the certain thunder from Apple’s announcements the day before. So while Apple announces its products, you’ll actually be able to download and try the new Adobe software.
Taking a cue from Apple’s Final Cut Studio, Adobe is once again bundling its post production centric apps in a $1699US/1999Euro bundle called Adobe Creative Suite 3 Production Premium. This bundle includes the new Soundbooth application, which is quite similar in functionality to Apple’s Soundtrack…gone is Adobe Audition. Upgrades from the current Production Studio cost $799/ 849Euro while upgrades from Adobe After Effects, Illustrator or Photoshop will cost $1199 / 1649Euro. Similar to the current releases, if you’re one of the people who bought After Effects Professional standalone you end up having to pay the same prices to upgrade as someone who simply bought the lower priced Photoshop. Applications included in the package include:
After Effects CS3 Professional
Premiere Pro CS3 (Intel Macs Windows Only)
Photoshop CS3 Extended
Flash CS3 Professional
Ultra CS3 (Windows Only)
OnLocation CS3 (Windows or Bootcamp)
It is important to note the versions which are included, as Adobe has further increased the difference between products with Photoshop Extended.
fxguide was able to get an up-close look at the new software packages and we’ll bring you some of the highlights…..
Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended
The new version of Photoshop brings numerous enhancements, including increased 32-bit HDR support, the Quick Selection tool, non destructive smart filters, and better Photo Merge to HDR. However, video and film artists will want to invest in the Extended version of Photoshop. This flavor of Photoshop CS3 brings motion video file support such as Quicktime and Flash, 3D model import plus texture editing, and motion graphics with animation.
Starting with input, the conversion from camera RAW to HDR sees advancements in this new release. There is now automatic image alignment that is improved greatly and support of more flavors of camera RAW file. Raw file controls can now be used on non-RAW files, which sees tools such as the Lightroom B/W algorithm (a significant improvement over PS-CS2) now available as an option in PS CS3, and you can use it on JPEG, TIFFs, any image file not just RAW files.
For stitching panoramas, Photomerge adds new automatic alignment and blending — transforming and rotating imagery to line up the merge points. As a side note, there is also new automatic layer alignment in Photoshop — which attempts to move and rotate layers so they align as closely as possible. Added to this there is a new concept, the Stack which allows both the functionality of auto align and auto blending with the addition of a whole new range of tools such as Median filters, Entropy, Variance and mean. For example – this allows the user to take multiple images of the same scene and the program will remove a person or shadow that only appears in say one shot, or combine to remove shadows based on the entire stack. This is an extension of smart objects and so is non-destructive, and very powerful.
Within the application, support for 32-bit HDR imagery in Photoshop has been advanced greatly, providing a much smoother workflow in conjunction with After Effects. Layers can now be 32-bit and you paint directly on them with 32-bit brushes. Several filters have also made the move to the higher bit depth, including Hue/Saturation and Levels, Auto Levels, Auto Contrast, and Auto Color. Other improvements to the 32-bpc workflow with Photoshop include the ability to create 32- and 16-bpc PSD files when exporting layered PSD files as well as creating new PSD files from within After Efffects. Since not all filters are 32-bit savvy, artists will still need to convert to a lower bit depth to use certain features — something users of After Effects have been dealing with as well.
The biggest change for video and film users in Photoshop Extended is probably the support for painting on motion layers. Photoshop effectively becomes a great motion retouch tool, especially with the tighter integration with Adobe After Effects. To use the feature, simply import a movie file (QuickTime, Flash, and Windows Media sequences are supported) and it acts much like a still layer. The layer has a filmstrip icon signifying it is a motion layer. The source footage is not actually saved as part of the PSD, but instead as a reference so you are not duplicating media unnecessarily — of course you’ll need to manage supporting files much as you would in an After Effects project.
Once it is imported, that’s where the fun begins. You can, of course, clone or paint on the current frame and step through your sequence just as you might in shake or flame. You are also able to pick a frame offset to clone from a prior or future frame — and in conjunction with onion skinning of the images the feature becomes quite powerful. 32-bit painting in Photoshop with the familiar brushes. The paint is raster-based and there is no facility for repeating the strokes on a different piece of source footage as with vector paint, but we’re sure this feature will become a fave for effects and motion graphics artists. It will be interesting to see the performance of the feature in action — as not just painting on a sequence is important, but so is the ability to play a movie in real time and judge the result of what has been created.
The Animation palette also allows animating position, opacity, and other basic functions. This certainly won’t replace the need for Animating in After Effects where you have so much more control — but it will be nice to have these adjustments within the app.
Once you’re done, you can save as a PSD file or export as Flash. After Effects and Premiere are currently (or will be at release) the only apps to be able to read these motion PSD files. In After Effects, more layer effects from Photoshop are able to be actively edited — items such as Drop Shadow, Outer Glow, Bevel, Emboss, and more. These layer styles are also available in After Effects on non-PSD objects. The text from Photoshop is still native text, so if you convert it to outlines as is possible in AE7 you lose the link to the Photoshop document styles.
There have been improvements in color management between Photoshop and After Effects, with more color profiles and much better color management shipping with After Effects. Due to 32-bit support within Photoshop, you now have a fully color managed workflow between the two products, each reading and using color profiles. There are a much wider variety of profiles which ship with the product, and color management uses the GPU for a speed increase. Any working space can be linearized for 32-bit HDR compositing.
There is a much improved vanishing tool within the new Extended Photoshop, allowing the artist to define multiple grids based upon planes. Unlike in the current version, you can add multiple planes at any angle (not just right angles), effectively building a framework for 3D geometry. You can then generate 3D data from this vanishing point grid, exporting to After Effects in what is called VPE format. You can then relight the object or create a camera move utilizing this textured geometry from Photoshop. Export to DXF and 3DS is also supported. There are no other tools for creating geometry (cylindrical, sphere, or freeform) in this release.
In the 3D realm, you can now import 3DS, OBJ, Collada, KMZ (Google Earth), and U3D models into Photoshop. They come as as 3D layers within the application, allowing the artist to manipulate the model in 3D space within Photoshop. In addition, you can edit the textures of the 3D models, allowing you to easily paint the texture and then quickly see it updated on the model right in Photoshop
Adobe After Effects CS3 Professional
For the first time, the Macintosh platform will arguably have a distinct advantage over its PC counterparts when using After Effects CS3. Windows XP and Vista is limited to 3.5 Gigs of RAM when running the app, but on OSX the app is limited to 3.5 Gigs per CPU or core. With A Quad G5, you could have up to 14G of RAM in use for After Effects. On the technical side, the speed of dealing with DV renders has also been increased dramatically, so it will be interesting to see if this removes the need to translate clips into the Intermediate Codec for more efficient processing. There is also support for multiple outputs from a single render — you don’t have to render the same comp twice for a different output format.
Multiprocessor support has been increased greatly in the new version for much faster RAM previews and batch renders. Gridiron’s Nucleo has been filling this void, but multiproc support is built into the app. There’s still a place for the Nucleo Pro product, which adds a background rendering queue as well as Spec Render which keeps your timeline rendered (see our article on this from IBC).
Adding to processing speed improvements is the addition of more filters being processed using the GPU. The Open GL functionality is better as well, with 16-bit and 32-bit support up to 4K resolution. This is sure to help improve the speed of processing in the application. As high end visual effects and motion graphics move to higher and higher resolutions, this type of advancement in the product is a definite improvement. Several additional effects have been upgraded to support 32-bpc rendering: Compound Blur, Remove Color Matting, Solid Composite, Fractal Noise, Linear Color Key, Beam, Ellipse, Audio Spectrum, Audio Waveform. Also there is a new effect, Tritone, which is 32-bit capable
With regards to creative features, there are have certainly been improvements and additions in this release. These include new Shape Layers, Puppet tool, Brainstorm, and per character animation in 3D text.
For visual effects artists, the Puppet tool is perhaps one of the most intriguing new tools. This provides a very simple UI for 2D warping and distorting of an object. By adding “pins” to a layer, you can grab them and move them around, easily animating an object. In the demonstration we observed, pins were placed at the joints and ends of a gingerbread man 2D art piece. By simply dragging the pin around, it was incredibly easy to create warping and deforming animations. Stationary pins help control and limit the extent of the distortion. Further handles are available to finesse, but the idea of having a simple and straightforward UI to do quick deformations is incredibly attractive. Without getting into the nitty gritty of using the app for an extended time, this feature looks quite promising.
Shapes have honestly been a bit painful to deal with in After Effects. Now, with CS3, there are new Shape Layers which provide far greater possibility for vector shapes than anything in the past. There are the built in standard shapes, of course, but artists can create custom shapes with the pen tool. If you’re familiar with the drawing tools in Illustrator (and Miter Limit, Line Caps, etc), you’ll be right at home in a Shape Layer.
The shape layer could be a compound shape as well, with any number of shapes making up the greater shape….and then these paths can be merged. The shape can also have strokes, fills, dashes, gradients, warps and repeating patterns — and all of these can be adjusted an animated. You can take these shapes and apply animation presets to them, much like the text animations found for After Effects text objects. Effects such as Twist, Zig Zag, Bloat, Wiggle, and write-ons can also be generated.
From a compositor’s standpoint, the shape layers in conjunction with new expressions functionality provide a much improved masking mechanism. In the new version of AE, you can now link multiple masks together via expressions (you can also link Shape Layers and paint strokes) and then easily combine in boolean ways. “Linking masks and shapes together with expressions is huge huge huge and likely to be overlooked by just about everyone,” says After Effects guru Mark Christiansen. “Just the fact that you can link two masks together, forget shapes.” New expressions functionality also includes the ability to sample the color of a region or even a pixel and then apply that value to another parameter.
Brainstorm is to After Effects as Variations is to Photoshop. The application provides a interactive mechanism for comparing the impact of various tweaks and adjustments you might make to set of parameters. The artist picks which properties to vary and a playback grid is shown with variations of the settings. One of the settings could then be applied to the composition….or taken as a base for further “brainstorming”.
As mentioned in the Photoshop section, the release builds upon AE7 and provides complete color management workflow utizing the GPU. Artists enable enable color management simply by selecting a Project Working Space using the open ICC color management system. For import, files with embedded or standardized color profiles are automatically interpreted upon import. Profiles can also be set (or changed) via Interpret Footage. Color spaces from HD and SD video formats are interpreted automatically. For display, there are many more profiles which ship with the product, allowing artists to preview color accurately and simulate how final output will appear in a different medium, whether on a broadcast monitor or projected via a popular film stock. Finally, for output, convert color for a specific output format (including standard SD and HD formats). ICC information can also be embedded in the output if the format supports it.
Adobe Premiere Pro CS3, Encore CS3, and Soundbooth CS3
CS3 marks the return of Premiere to the Macintosh — albeit only for Intel-based Mac Systems. Coupled with Encore and Soundbooth, this trio allows the CS3 Production Premium package to compete on the same playing field as Final Cut Studio…and raises the ante as it includes Photoshop and Illustrator.
One of the most intriguing features of the suite of apps is their support for Dynamic Link…allowing straightforward exchange of footage and setups between the applications. fxguide covered this in our review of the release of After Effects 7. Along with Encore 3 and After Effects, the integration of sharing projects between the apps is quite effective. One drawback is the lack of support of proxies between Premiere and After Effects…so artists need to be aware of the possibility of long renders when sharing setups.
The new version of Encore brings Blu-ray Disc encoding, as well as the ability to output a Flash SWF of the DVD project for web distribution. Adobe OnLocation CS3 is effectively an on-set monitoring tool for DV and HDV cameras. You hook it up via firewire to you computer and you have a hard disk recorder with monitor (up to 720HD), full set of scopes, audio level tracking, and more.
Adobe Soundbooth replaces Adobe Audition in the Production Suite. The UI has been dramatically changed and has many of the same tools that one would find in Apple’s Soundtrack Pro. One interesting aspect is that there is an online resource for browsing new plugins and effects
For those curious about the Ultra CS3 tool, the application is essentially unchanged from the currently shipping product. Unfortunately the Serious Magic website is now a redirect to Adobe.
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