It’s Been 16 Years Since Creative Suite Launched. Does Cloud-centric Adobe Still Deliver?
Twice a year – we’re used to it already. “It” is when Adobe announces its upgrades to Creative Cloud suite. So much of our industry depends upon this family of video and audio apps including Premiere Pro, After Effects, Audition, Character Animator, Media Encoder and Premiere Rush.
It’s pretty straightforward too: keeping on top of the best of these updates can make your creative work easier.
RAW the Way You Like It
Whether you’re working on features, music videos, or some personal project, it’s great news that Premiere Pro and After Effects now support ProRes RAW directly. Apple’s popular codec is widely used throughout the production industry due to its ability to allow for more in-depth color correction.
The amount of color data stored with ProRes RAW makes it an ideal format for camera acquisition. However, support for it on non-Apple hardware has been limited, though hardware vendors have offered solutions. Atomos, for example, which makes the Ninja and other external recorders for production, can record using the Apple codec, along with companies including AJA, Blackmagic Design and Convergent Design.
Now everyone, including users of Windows machines, can enjoy cross-platform Apple ProRes workflows from ingesting camera media, editing and effects, through final delivery.
The Pen is Now Mightier Than Before
The Spring 2020 updates also deliver an improved Pen tool with better support for Bezier curves within Premiere Pro. This is good news since I find myself staying inside of Premiere more and more to do light duty graphics work; in the past I would have switched over to After Effects.
Premiere will never replace After Effects for complex graphics tasks and compositing challenges. But the more that Premiere can handle simpler tasks without having to go through the extra steps of moving to another program, the better.
Another update that I think is useful: Premiere’s filter effects can now be set to show only the attributes that have keyframes or edited parameters. That’s similar to the way that pressing the U key in After Effects only shows animated layers. This will unclutter the Effects Control palette, especially when multiple effects are applied to a clip. By removing all the parameters that are not being used or modified, you can focus only on those that are active making things a lot easier.
Better Auto Framing, Hardware Encoding
Other important updates to Premiere Pro in the Spring 2020 release include a faster Auto Reframe function powered by the company’s AI technology Adobe Sensei. For those who are unaware of Auto Reframe, it automatically reformats and repositions video for different screens and aspect ratios including those for TV and film projection, as well as social media and online content platforms such as the recently added Quibi streaming service.
Premiere’s Spring 2020 release now can use Hardware encoding using Nvidia and AMD GPUs for H.264 and H.265, two very popular MP4 formats. Hardware encoding (HEVC) provides faster exports and less time heading out for a coffee break, depending on how you handle rendering time.
For those that use Creative Cloud Libraries, a convenient way to store assets and elements for use in your project, there is now support for audio files for easy access from the CC Libraries panel.
After Effects Offers More Graphic Tweaks
After Effects motion graphic artists will be pleased to know that they can now taper the ends of shape strokes. Previously, the entire stroke needed to be one, uniform thickness. With the ability to gradually taper the ends of strokes, one can achieve a hand-drawn or inked look. Besides just being able to thicken or thin the ends of strokes, you can also add a wave to the stroke to vary it in different areas for a more crafted look. Of course, all these parameters can be animated.
Adobe Illustrator has had the ability to taper the edges of a stroke for some time, so I am personally glad to see this feature come to After Effects.
Another interesting new development when it comes to strokes and shapes in After Effects is the ability to make concentric copies of strokes and paths. This results in interesting creative design and graphics possibilities. After fiddling around with it for a bit, I was able to create a compelling animation of the edges of a shape radiating out into space.
Updates, We’ve Got Your Updates Here
Adobe Character Animator has already offered a tool to capture your own real time performance via a webcam and apply them to original characters. That used to be only possible with capture systems costing many thousands of dollars. Now, an improved timeline offers enhanced efficiency as well as new background puppets.
For Mac users, there is now Automatic audio hardware switching. That means if you make a change to your audio configuration, CC apps like Premiere Pro, After Effects and Audition will automatically recognize the new hardware and switch to it. Previously, you needed to go into your hardware settings and change it manually.
So Is It Wise to Subscribe?
I like the software subscription model. Adobe has teams for each app that turn out software updates frequently and throughout the year. That means that applications can evolve gradually and respond to the demands of the market in a timely manner.
Some productions don’t like such constantly changing apps. That’s understandable. If you have a team working on one major project, tying down programs – so that upgrades and other changes don’t break what you are working on – makes sense.
But for the rest of us, we would have needed to wait for a major upgrade, and not know when that was coming. The enhancements in Adobe’s Creative Cloud Spring 2020 update are here today, with features to make every creative’s work easier.
Adobe’s full Creative Cloud plans, which cover the complete range of Adobe CC software, start at $52.99 per month.