On the Mac professional video editors have Final Cut Studio, on the PC we have Adobe CS 3 Production Premium. An all in one video editing package that throws in everything the video professional needs but the kitchen sink.
At almost $1,700.00 I expect a lot for my money and Adobe gives it to you. This suite features After Effects CS3 Professional, Adobe Premiere Pro CS3, Photoshop CS3 Extended, Illustrator CS3, and adds the new Adobe Flash CS3 Professional and Soundbooth CS3. New to the suite are Adobe OnLocation CS3 software that helps streamline the editing process when you are in the field and the amazing green screen application Ultra CS3. Adobe recently purchased Serious Magic the company that makes Ultra and unfortunately (or fortunately) there have been no noticeable changes to this application. Even the virtual sets remain the same.
Whenever I review one of these Mega Adobe bundles, I never quite know which direction to go in, as each of these applications would warrant a 1,200 word review on its own, for the sake of this review I’m going to talk a bit about the new features.
One of the new things available this year is, this Windows standard is now available in native format on the Mac platform – I’m almost tempted to give Apple another shot to disappoint me. In my mind, Premiere has always blown away Final Cut, now Mac users can come out of the wilderness and rejoice. Yes Final Cut is the most popular video editing software on Macs, but that’s because it’s essentially the “only” one.
Before we begin I have to shake my head ruefully at Adobe, earlier this year I raved about the new slimmed down packaging on their recently released Web and Design bundles and expected the same slick package for Production Premium, instead Adobe went in the opposite direction and produced one of the bulkiest, heaviest software packages I’ve ever seen. This monstrosity weighed over 20 lbs!
The installation process was a bear, it spanned five disks and took about 45 minutes to install and activate the product. During the installation process it warns you that it will only run at a resolution at 1,280×1,024 so I was initially put off by that, but it runs fine at my 1440 by 900 setting. Once going the first thing you notice is how stable the new version is. Adobe’s CS 2 products crashed so often on my computer that I eventually gave up on it. On my current Alienware ALX Laptop (granted a fairly bleeding edge machine) it’s rock solid, I was able to run both After Effects, Premiere Pro and Soundbooth at the same time with no hiccups.
New this year is tighter integration between Adobe’s entire line up, the menu system has been streamlined and standardized, but it’s still confusing as heck to use a lot of simple, but powerful features are hidden behind menus. While some items are difficult to find in the new streamlined menus, other have been brought more front and center like all of Premiere’s titling functions are much easier to find.Fortunately Adobe includes lots of great training material with their package including hefty deep manuals and quick start tutorials on DVD, and as a bonus you can get Adobe’s Classroom In A Book Series and a 30 day trial to other online training resources. So it’s clear that Adobe recognizes their products are intimidating to newbies and they are attempting to recognize this.
Adobe has included several new output options including enhanced and expanded Flash output for the web and new video format support for mobile phones and other portable devices. One of the new default timelines/formats includes iPod support.
Premiere Pro the application that I use most didn’t get that much of a major overhaul this time out and the incorporation of Serious Magic’s Ultra Key into the suite of products is a nice touch as it really is an amazing, if difficult to use, Chromo Key program. The application that received the most attention this time out is After Effects.
New features this time out include: a new Shape Layer tool that makes it easier to create animated vector shapes on the fly, a Puppet Tool that will let you create stop motion animation (like Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride), an awesome new motion graphics tool called Brainstorm and more. If you are an After Effects person it’s well worth the upgrade price to get these new enhancements. Even someone like me who has never really delved into the app before was able to develop some nifty little compositions. Again, this application isn’t for the squeamish but if you take a little time to learn it, it truly is powerful.
I haven’t worked too much with Adobe’s new audio application Sound booth or OnLocation, but plan on doing a more in-depth look in the coming days. Adobe continues to impress with their tool bundles, if I had one complaint it would be that I wished Adobe included DreamWeaver as part of this collection. Yes I realize that this is a bundle for video professionals, but with the web becoming more and more of a video platform.
Adobe’s other CS3 bundles released earlier this year lacked that certain something, that thing that makes you sit up and take notice. It’s clear that they really spent a lot of time and resources improving their video applications (except for Premiere Pro – which hasn’t really changed in 2 or 3 cycles now). If you already have last year’s version this one is well worth the upgrade just for the enhancements to After Effects, but you also get amazing new applications like Ultra Key, Soundbooth, and OnLocation.
Final Grade – A-
EM Cool Tech Review
by Michelle Alexandria
Originally Posted 8/29/07