Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects CS5 have introduced a revolutionary way for editing films and adding visual effects to them. To understand more about these two great products of Adobe, we talked to Steve Forde, Senior Product Manager, After Effects and Al Mooney, Product Manager, Adobe Premiere Pro.
Bijan Tehrani: My first question is about After Effects and what are the new features that come with the 5.5 version.
*Steve Forde: The big new features that we introduce in CS5.5 are things that we heard from a lot of our users who, with the advent of DSLR, are not able to shoot high quality videos, and requested the ability to edit around image stabilization, a Canon 5d or even into the higher end. They are great in their portability but they also produce a lot of complications around shakiness or not always being able to put things onto a dolly or a steady-cam. So we worked really hard around a feature we call Warp Stabilizer and that is one of the primary new features of After Effects CS5.5. It lets you take features and in a very simplistic manner apply a Warp Stabilizer effect that will then analyze that footage in the background while you work and understand the best way to apply stabilization in what is called a 3-D war mesh. This is a very new technology that is not being produced anywhere else and it makes it look like it was shot from a steady-cam or dolly and also lets you fine tune the effect, autocrop, and scale and properly match the clip with other parts of the project. We have had such a great response from the stabilizer and many of our users have said that the feature alone makes 5.5 a major release.
Along with that though there have been a lot of improvements made especially around the lighting system within After Effects. The lighting system in After Effects gets used quite extensively and it tells that you can see what work uses the After Effects lighting technology; as it did not truly follow the physics of light. One of the areas that we worked on was how to introduce Light FallOff and in a simplistic manner apply that to a project and give you creative control on the use of light. Light FallOff is another key feature of CS 5.5, so when you move a light it can fall off as if a natural light was moving away from the object being lit and you can control that from an artistic perspective and control light in a much more fine-grade detail and control the abilities of light.
That really trails into another key feature in 5.5 called Camera Lens Blur and again, we wanted to be able to simulate things that people used to have to worry about in production while they are shooting an object and doing, say, things like a rack focus. Rack focus is a very non-trivial thing to do and a director of photography would work very hard in production to try to get that right. Where we wanted to turn that around was to find a way to do that specifically in post-production because you get much finer grain control that you have to worry about because it lets you manipulate things such as the focal distance. It lets you understand and create focus in various areas of what you are working with even from a visual effects area in a very simplistic manner. So we look at those three things and those were primary features that users responded to very well and we worked with a lot of key users who helped us to get that right.
A couple of other things that are new to After Effects CS 5.5 is around things like source time code support. Again, this is a workflow oriented feature so your footage can understand the time code of footage that may come from your editor so when you are collaborating with others, or when you are moving work in and out of After Effects to other parts of the work flow, it is easier to synchronize your work along those lines from a time code perspective.
We added things such as support for R3D and Red and to be able to do a raw workflow. We saw the future of raw workflow coming down the pipe and being very important especially with their new Epic camera and so forth, so that was another key area. There were a lot of improvements from a workflow perspective to the interface to caching from a performance perspective and a myriad of other things that I could go into but if we look into those things from a holistic point of view, those were it. The last one that I will talk to you about quickly is a Red Stereoscopic workflow. We added a system called a 3-D stereo rig. We noticed a lot of users were intimidated by working in stereoscopic and we made it very easy for them to go into that. We literally made it a one-click set-up regardless of the format of the camera so you can also set up a rig and work on the contract of the project and not worry about setting up a stereoscopic workflow. So that is the flavor of what we accomplished with CS 5.5 and the response we got from the users have been very good.
BT: So Al, can you please tell us about the new feature in Premiere Pro CS 5.5.
**Al Mooney: With Premiere Pro CS 5.5, we are harnessing and improving the existing Mercury Playback Engine, which was the major news in CS5. We had a brand new application, native 64-bit and this thing called the Mercury Playback Engine that was an optimized method of handling video playback and decoding of complex video formats and processing of real-time effects. With 5.5 we have really improved the Mercury Playback Engine so even users without supported GPUs should notice improved performance. We have taken a lot of the underlying pieces of technology like time remapping, motion scaling etc. and optimized them further for the Mercury Playback Engine. We also have greatly increased the number of GPUs that we support from NVIDIA,. But the key thing is that on top of that performance we are increasingly looking at improving the overall editing experience and making it easier for people coming from other NLEs to become familiar with Premiere Pro. More and more people every day want to cut video so we are very keen to ensure that we present our deep and rich feature sets to these people in a very clean, intuitive and sort of easy-to-get started way. So throughout the application there are 40 to 50 improvements and these are simple things like laying menus out in a more intuitive way to give people easier access to features. We had a feature in CS5 where you could build the sequence from your clip and instead of having to rummage through the sequence dialog you can go to the sequence icon and the sequence would be made based off of that clip. It was a good feature but we realized that a lot of people just did not know that we had it so a lot of people were looking to just right click on the clip and choose a new sequence from the clip. Since that is what they were looking for, we did a lot of research and tried to make sure that these high-level features were more accessible. In terms of big new features, there are several. We have a brand new feature that we call Merged Clips and this is designed to enable dual system sound workflows, which are increasingly popular. These are workflows where audio is captured on a separate recording device so you just need to be able to merge the video from the camera with the externally recorded high-quality audio; Merged Clips is a very easy and simple but powerful way of doing that. We also have things like drag and drop from source to program which is something that the Final Cut community was really keen that we did. We further embellished and improved our native format support and I can’t stress enough how crucial our native format support is. We are leading the industry in that way. So we now have embellished supports for the Canon XF directory — we support that in the media browser. We have dramatically improved our RED support so we have a completely redesigned RED Source Settings dialog, and you will see in After Effects as well that it is a feature that permeates throughout the suite and this gives the user access to a clean and slick interface. On top of that we will shortly release a beta plug-in on our Labs site to support the RED EPIC camera which shoots up to 5k, and also support the new HDR capability of the EPIC.
BT: Does After Effects 5.5 support advanced graphics cards?
SF: Basically After Effects is predominately CPU-based so one of the things that we have done is really focused again on the threading models. HP has got some fantastic laptops that really bump up the ram and CPU capabilities but as opposed to the Mercury innovation that the Premiere team has done to boost performance, due to our render pipeline, GPU utilization in After Effects and it is still pretty light. That being said, one of the cool things about working together at Adobe with a bunch of different products is that you see the performance that Mercury has provided for Premiere Pro so for CPU users it is a big thing for the After Effects team moving forward. But in terms of CS5.5 there is not a dramatic change in the use of GPUs from CS5.
BT: Is some stereoscopic footage can that be edited in Premiere Pro 5.5?
AM: Absolutely. We don’t have native stereoscopic support in the application but we work very closely with Cineform. We have extremely good integration with their stereoscopic technology and our integration with them is pretty much the best out there. So we are seeing an increasing number of users who want to work with stereoscopy.
BT: For someone who wants to migrate from another editing system, how easy of a transition would that be?
AM: In terms of Premiere Pro it is really easy and actually it is something that I mentioned earlier. We have continued to improve the keyboard shortcut mapping for users coming from other systems. You can actually change the format to Avid Media Composer mode and also Apple Final Cut Pro mode, so you can basically set your keyboard shortcuts to those other systems. For users that are actually making the switch, and we are seeing this quite a lot these days, we are still seeing excellent capabilities for other NLEs. You can continue working on your other projects from other media on our system, so getting you work into Premiere is pretty straight forward.
SF: From the After Effects perspective, it is probably the industry standard in terms of motion graphics and visual effects. We see that there is more integration with After Effects with processing systems; After Effects is used on such a wide scale. The other side though too from an editor’s perspective is that After Effects is used very well but the overall story or message is that the great integration is with tools such as Dynamic Link through Premiere Pro and After Effects, so we are seeing a lot of users migrate or switch into a Premiere Pro workflow because of the compatibility between After Effects and Premiere Pro. You are going to be seeing a lot of innovation from us down the road in that fashion.
AM: I actually think that just in terms of innovation, that the fact that we are moving into this annual release cycle is important because workflows are changing so quickly and being able to be agile enough to put a major release out every 12 months really sets us up to be able to address these fast and quick changes in the industry. SF: One thing to add to that as well that we have gotten strong response to is the way that you can buy the system. Premiere Pro is specifically available as a fully functional free trial and the same goes for After Effects. We have listened to a lot of folks in post-production and the fact that they can subscribe to the service based on their capacity is very easy for them.
* Steve Forde joined Adobe in 2011 as senior product manager for After Effects, the industry-leading software for creating sophisticated motion graphics and cinematic visual effects. In this role, Forde oversees extending After Effects into new markets and workflows.
Forde is an experienced executive and co-founder of multiple businesses within media and emerging technology. He joined Adobe from Gridiron Software where he was co-founder/CEO and CTO. Gridiron develops complementary technologies for After Effects, and software for managing overall workflow in the creative enterprise. Forde grew the company from venture funding to a global operation and from a perpetual license revenue base to a SaaS model.
Before Gridiron, Forde was co-founder/CEO of Creative Shack Inc. and oversaw an acquisition by Mitel Networks. Forde sits on the board of Black Cherry Digital Media.
Steve has an education in Radio Broadcasting and Electronics. He is an experienced speaker, having presented at global events such as NAB (National Association of Broadcasters), IBC (International Broadcasting Conference), Macworld, and the Apple World Wide Developer Conference.
**Al Mooney has extensive technical, sales and marketing experience in the media industry. As product manager for Adobe Premiere Pro software, Mooney is responsible for defining, delivering, and supporting the overall feature set and functionality. Earlier, Mooney was the UK senior business development manager for video and broadcast at Adobe, providing technical workflow consultation for top broadcast accounts in the U.K. In that role, he oversaw the redevelopment of Adobe’s video VAR channel, a network of expert resellers and service providers for the Media and Entertainment industry.
Mooney joined Adobe in 2009, after spending two years at Apple as the U.K. Pro Video business development manager. There he was responsible for the communication and go-to-market strategy of video solutions for the U.K. market, working with resellers and customers.
Before Apple, Mooney was European sales specialist at Digidesign, a division of Avid Technology. In this role, Mooney was responsible for the communication of high-end solutions into multiple territories, and managed technical communication between European specialists and engineers in the U.S. He also held earlier positions at Digidesign, including post-production product specialist, EMEA product specialist and marketing representative.
Mooney graduated with honors from the University of Surrey, Guildford, with a Bachelor of Music and Sound Recording (Tonmeister).