Shifting from their traditional, annual update cycle, this year Adobe has gone for a point release in the form of CS5.5 rather than the CS6 that many had been expecting. A move I welcome. Developing just one piece of software is fraught with enough challenges but, as a suite of software programmes, Adobe places that added pressure on their developers by tying them all to one release date – a date I’m guessing has previously been dictated by the Photoshop team. Now Photoshop, Illustrator and Encore remain at CS5 and the arguably more complex likes of Premiere Pro and After Effects get their own upgrade to CS5.5 with features I suspect just missed the development window last year. It will be interesting to see if this is a one off or whether it signals a new strategy for Adobe. I hope it’s the latter as I think users would much rather settle for smaller “New Features” lists in exchange for more stability.
So, speaking of new features, what new toys does CS5.5 have to offer?
Premiere Pro CS5.5 now offers broader hardware support for its Mercury Playback engine, including laptops and a wider range of video cards. Premiere Pro CS5.5 also has expanded RED support and will soon offer native EPIC support with an importer plug-in (keep an eye out at Adobe labs). RED and DSLR projects may also benefit from the new Merge Clips command which lets users quickly sync video with high-quality audio recorded on separate devices (e.g. location recorders). There are also some enhancements to the trimming and editing tools, new customisable NLE keyboard shortcuts (i.e. switch to Media Composer or Final Cut shortcuts) and enhanced project exchange between Final Cut Pro and Avid software as well. Furthermore, CS5.5 finally dumps Soundbooth for Audition CS5.5 and offers drag-and-drop round tripping from Premiere for a simple audio workflow. I used to use Audition years ago and was a huge fan so was very disappointed when I first fired up Soundbooth and found it to be a much inferior cousin. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on Audition CS5.5 to see if it is everything I remember with years of technology advancements thrown in.
After Effects CS5.5 at last catches up with Apple and offers what appears to be Adobe’s equivalent to Shake/Motion/Final Cut Pro’s optical flow based stabilizers – a new tool called the Warp Stabilizer. Stabilising footage has previously been a bit of a faff in AE. Removing all motion using its powerful motion trackers is simple but smoothing out shaky footage whilst keeping any underlying parent motion is a somewhat fiddly and manual task so I’m interested to see how this new tool fares, especially against Apple’s tools. Adobe says the Warp Stabilizer “removes jitter and compensates for motion-related irregularities” the former is obvious enough but I am curious to see what they mean by the latter. Will the Warp Stabilizer remove or attenuate motion blur? AE CS5.5 also includes a new Camera Lens blur tool, stereoscopic workflow improvements, light falloff options for more realistic lighting and XDCAM EX export.
The release of CS5.5 will also introduce a new licensing option, with Adobe offering users Subscription Editions – software that users can subscribe to on a monthly basis.
More information on CS5.5 Production Premium is available on our main website – here