Adobe CS4 Production Premium preview

The main tools in Adobe’s dedicated post-production suite show even greater integration than the rest of the Creative Suite. You can now use Dynamic Link when exporting After Effects compositions to Premiere Pro and Soundbooth, so any edits in After Effects are always reflected immediately in your Premiere Pro timeline. Dynamic Link between Adobe Premiere Pro and Encore also saves you time by eliminating the need to render clips before authoring. As well as being able to author standard DVDs and high-definition Blu-Ray Discs, Encore CS4 lets you render the same projects for the web as interactive SWF files.

Additionally, you can copy single-selection text objects and text ranges from the Premiere Pro Titler and paste them into Encore and other suite applications such as After Effects, Photoshop, and Illustrator.

Soundbooth also works tightly within the suite thanks to the interchange offered by the new Adobe Sound Document (ASND) file format, which lets you package individual audio clips and multitrack audio projects for roundtrip editing. Possibly the most revolutionary feature, though, is the new speech-recognition technology in Soundbooth and Premiere Pro CS4. This can speed up the editing process by making it easy to locate the right clip based on transcribed dialogue. When a transcribed clip is playing, Premiere Pro highlights the words karaoke-style, so you know where you are at all times. Conversely, you can click on a word and the Source Monitor jumps to that spot in the clip.

Speech Search technology supports a variety of languages and dialects and allows you to correct words by double-clicking them or right-clicking them to select further options. In After Effects, when you add footage with embedded Speech Search metadata to a composition, each word appears as a marker on the Timeline that corresponds to where the word was spoken.

OnLocation appears on the Mac for the first time, sporting a revised interface that displays all control functions on a single screen, rather than the scrolling panels found in the CS3 version.

OnLocation allows you to plug a FireWire-equipped camera into a Mac and record PAL/NTSC DV, HDV, and DVCPRO content directly to the hard drive. There are professional image-monitoring tools, including a software vectorscope and waveform monitor that can optimise footage while simplifying camera calibration, focus and audio monitoring. Metadata handling has been enhanced, and with the new Shot List panel, each time you re-record a scene to disk, a new take is automatically created that inherits the metadata from the master shot. You can mark your good takes and rate them as you capture, making it easier to find them in post-production.

If you’re going down the tapeless camera route, Premiere Pro offers native format support, meaning you can import and edit content without rewrapping or transcoding. Premiere Pro CS4 includes more than 50 of the most requested editing enhancements to streamline your workflow, including the ability to apply video and audio transitions to multiple tracks and change speed and duration of multiple clips in the Project panel.

The new Media Browser panel gives access to all the digital assets on your internal and external hard drives, including mounted tapeless cameras, CDs/DVDs, or mapped network volumes. It’s a more convenient way to locate and open footage, allowing you to drag clips/shots to the Project and Timeline panels, double-click to open and preview them in the Source Monitor, or add them to a sequence in the Timeline panel. It also saves you from having to search through the directory to find the content you want by only displaying importable shots from specific camera formats. It’s now possible to natively import a PSD file with video and blend modes, with Premiere Pro honouring those blending modes on import and treating the video clip as it would any other on the timeline.

After Effects offers a number of productivity-enhancing improvements. The new Welcome screen incorporates a searchable Tip Of The Day, quick links to the Web-based Community Help system, and a list of your most recent projects. There are also live search functions directly inside the Timeline and Project panels, so you can quickly find project elements. A Composition Navigator on each Composition panel allows you to more easily visualise and navigate the structure of complex projects. Any item in the Navigator chain can be opened to access its Mini-Flowchart, which reveals the nesting organisation of related compositions.

There are also a number of 3D compositing enhancements, such as separately keyframeable X-, Y-, and Z-position properties, and a new Unified Camera tool. You can import Photoshop 3D files into After Effects and export layered After Effects compositions for use in Flash CS4 Professional when using the new XFL format. Native FLV, PNG, and JPG sources that have been transformed or made opaque are passed straight through, assets such as text and Illustrator artwork are preserved as vectors, while pixel-based layers are rendered to a variety of formats, including FLV, and are then presented as layers in Flash CS4 Professional.

In addition, After Effects includes Imagineer Systems’ Mocha, a standalone application that features advanced 2.5D planar motion tracking. It gives you an additional set of tools to use alongside the point-based tracker built into After Effects and helps with the more problematic shots.

OUR VERDICT

Read more about Web Premium here: Read more about Production Premium here: You can read a full preview of Adobe's new Creative Suite 4 in the November issue of Macworld. Out now.

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