Adobe CS3 Production Premium is an editing and finishing tool, as well as a postproduction tool. As I said in the previous article, CS3 Production Premium [Part I]: After Effects, I consider postproduction and editing to be two different tasks, which means that editing is done in a different software than postproduction and compositing. Taking this into consideration, I will focus on editing and finishing using Premiere Pro, Soundbooth and Encore. As I said before, CS3's unified workflow lets you go from one application to the next seamlessly, depending on what you want to do. If you use After Effects as your compositing application, you can take advantage of this connection to bring your composites directly into Premiere Pro.
In Premiere Pro you can import any After Effects composition and add it to your timeline as if it were a videoclip. This not only offers a very high level of interaction, but also the ability to keep your media untouched by countless renders and video codecs (keep in mind that coding and re-coding a video using a postproduction application will eventually result in some artifacts on your video due to the format, compression and all that). The link between both programs is dynamic, which means that whenever you update your After Effects composition, it will automatically update in Premiere Pro.
Just like in After Effects or Photoshop, Premiere Pro includes a variety of filters that can be added to your video, as well as a countless number of transitions. These effects work in a similar way to those in After Effects, layering them one on top of the other, although they are not actually visible in the Sequence area (you have access to them in the Effect Controls tab).
Sometimes you find yourself importing media that includes video and audio in the same file. Premiere Pro also includes some audio filters to work with, but sometimes you may want to edit the audio using a more specialized tool, for example, Soundbooth. You can extract and send the audio track to Soundbooth with one click, and then edit that sound file using the different tools available to you in that program. As you may guess by now, when you save your file in Soundbooth it will automatically update in Premiere (and After Effects, in case you are running it as well).
Soundbooth is the sound editing application in CS3. In it you can import, record and export audio. Soundbooth's tool set is very similar to any other audio editing tool you may have used, however it has a very nice feature called the AutoComposer. You can use it to import and modify a music soundtrack for any video you have. You have the ability to keyframe the music volume, intensity and sometimes even melodies (depending on the soundtrack you've imported). This is very useful when you want to key the intensity of your soundtrack to specific points of your video. The only thing that's missing is being able to actually drag your instruments around to customize your soundtrack in a unique way. However, those instruments can be imported from Adobe Bridge into Soundbooth or Premiere Pro without problem.
Bridge is a media manager that helps you organize your photos, images, sounds and movies. You can playback video and audio files or preview photos. The content in Bridge can be tagged so you are able to search for it later using those tags. Since it can explore any kind of content, it would become handy even for managing 3d files, although it can't preview them so you would have to adapt your software to that specific application.
When you have finished editing your audio, you can send that to Premiere Pro to render the video. Premiere Pro also includes a direct link to Encore, where you can output your video to DVD or Bluray. The reason for Encore not supporting HD DVD remains a mystery to me. However, the "next generation format war" has created a lot of problems like this (you can even see this in the movie industry, where movies in Bluray or HD DVD won't be released in the competing format).
Personally, I didn't find Encore to be the most intuitive DVD authoring application when it came to creating a personalized DVD, because of the restrictions on the links between media types. In programs such as DVD Architect I could simply import my media, set the start positions (without any kind of restriction due to the media type) and then select what to play after the current clip. On the other hand, if I wanted to set a video as a startup in Encore (something like an introductory clip before the actual menu plays) I have to put that video inside an empty menu, then link that to the actual menu.
Menus can be designed in Photoshop and then brought into Encore. If you want some animation in your menu, you can import the Photoshop menu inside After Effects to add the animation, and then send that to Encore where you setup everything from background sounds to navigation. Encore can also output the project as a Flash presentation, so you can share it with everyone through the Internet.
The true power of CS3 Production Premium doesn't come from one application alone, but rather from the complete set of applications. The integration between applications is better than anything I've seen so far. The applications still have room for improvement, but they won't let you down while you are working or if a deadline is drawing close. From postproduction to editing and delivery, Adobe CS3 Production Premium will surely become a powerful addition to your toolset.
For more information, including pricing and system requirements, please visit Adobe's website.
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Animation Alley is a regular featured column with Renderosity Staff Columnist Sergio Rosa [nemirc]. Sergio discusses on computer graphics software, animation techniques, and technology. He also hosts interviews with professionals in the animation and cinematography fields.