Adobe Creative Suite 4 gave us significant improvements in different areas. They released the first 64 bit CS application, Photoshop CS4, a faster renderless workflow, and media management with metadata and clip information. This new release has focused on different ways to offer a faster workflow.
Metadata plays an important role in media management from the time you record your videos using OnLocation CS4 (I will, however, be leaving OnLocation out of this review). If you’re familiar with how the Creative Suite manages your data, you know you can search for your files from within Bridge, or directly within Premiere Pro or After Effects. Now you can create your metadata by using the new speech recognition technology available in the CS4.
Say that you recorded some shots where a person delivers a few lines. You can use that speech recognition technology to get a transcript for your video. That can then be used as metadata, so if you needed to find a shot where your actor said, for example, “we have to wait,” you can just use that search string and the results will display the clips containing that specific line.
The CS4 also offers better multithreading than the CS3 release, allowing you to use your multi-core systems better than the previous version. Premiere Pro and After Effects are still 32 bit applications, though, meaning they can’t use more than 4Gb of RAM. I would hope this would change in upcoming versions. However, the move to 64 bits in the case of these two applications would include not only the applications themselves, but also the drivers for the devices they use, and also the plug-ins anyone may use (plug-ins have to be rewritten in order to be used in 64 bit applications).
After Effects has had a render queue for years. However, Premiere Pro CS3 could only render one video at a time, since the renderer is part of the main process via the Adobe Media Encoder (it ran directly inside Premiere Pro CS3). Adobe Media Encoder CS4 is now a separate application that serves as a centralized render queue. You can add any video and audio format, as well as After Effects compositions and Premiere Pro projects, then configure your target format settings and start encoding.
Every time you export a video inside Premiere Pro, your project will be sent to your Media Encoder queue (After Effects keeps its internal render manager for its compositions). You don’t need any host application running in the background to use the Media Encoder, though, which helps to keep the load on your system low and let it focus exclusively on video encoding. I’d like to stress that, even if After Effects keeps its internal render manager, you can use Media Encoder to render After Effects compositions as well
The feature I like the most is actually evolutionary: Adobe Dynamic Link, which works amazingly. Previously, the Dynamic Link was a one-way connection (sending After Effects compositions to Premiere Pro). Adobe CS4 offers two-way links between Premiere Pro and After Effects. You can still send your After Effects compositions to Premiere Pro, however, you can also send Premiere Pro sequences inside After Effects. What’s nice is that you can send Premiere Pro sequences that include After Effects compositions inside them, and then send that again into Premiere Pro (can anybody say “infinite loop”?).
What’s so amazing about this is the renderless workflow, as you don’t need to render one single frame of video unless you’re sending your media to a non-CS4 application (maybe you’re doing some compositing in Fusion, or effects in Motion). This feature alone can put Adobe CS4 above any other media production suite I may know, because it lets you work faster, and prevents your final output from losing quality after being encoded so many times.
Dynamic Link also works well between Premiere Pro and Soundbooth. You can send your audio track to Soundbooth, edit it, and send it back to Premiere Pro. Since Soundbooth is now multi-track capable, you can also import Premiere Pro or After Effects projects and edit your audio accordingly. On top of that, Soundbooth uses a new lossless audio format (ASND, or Adobe Sound files) for both single and multi-track files.
Adobe Sound files can be imported inside Premiere Pro. Note that even if the multi-track will playback all the different tracks inside Premiere Pro, they will show up on your sequence as a single audio track.
If you’re a user of the Adobe CS product line, you will absolutely love this release. On the other hand, if you work with media production using any other product line, you’ll find a lot of nice features that will make you want to switch to Adobe CS4. There are many compelling features in this release, but if I had to pick a “killer feature” I’d pick the completely renderless workflow offered by the Dynamic Link.
All I can say is Adobe Creative Suite 4 is a must-have suite for anyone working with video and media production.
*For a limited time, upgrade from an earlier qualifying version of Creative Suite® software or Macromedia® Studio software for the same price as an upgrade from Creative Suite 3. Hurry – introductory price ends on February 28, 2009. More details here.
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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.
February 2, 2009
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