The practice of installing new software on a DVD is going the way of the dinosaur. Top software companies are moving away from physical installation disks to an online cloud-based download system. Adobe is leading the charge with Adobe Creative Cloud. Creative Cloud is an ongoing membership that lets you download and install all of the Adobe Creative Suite 6 software, including Adobe Premiere Pro, Photoshop Extended, After Effects, Audition, SpeedGrade, Prelude, Illustrator, and Flash Professional. You also get other creative software like Lightroom, Acrobat, Dreamweaver, and services like Adobe Story Plus for scriptwriting, production scheduling, and reporting. With Creative Cloud, you get the latest software and features as soon as they’re released. If you use Adobe CS5 or earlier software, new powerful video products were introduced since then: Prelude for shot logging and previewing, Audition for audio editing and sound design, and SpeedGrade for high-end grading.
What is Adobe Creative Cloud?
Adobe Creative Cloud is a membership service that consists of downloadable desktop apps and online services. You download the apps (they live on your machine), and get access to the newest software and latest upgrades immediately. You use the online services for script writing, file sharing (including mobile devices), publishing web sites, and collaborating remotely with clients and team members in other geographic locations.
With 20GB of cloud storage, Creative Cloud offers some advantages over other online file storage solutions. You can view large thumbnails of Adobe Photoshop files, and turn .PSD layers on or off, which is huge for anyone that works with Photoshop. You can also sync files between the full “desktop” version of Photoshop and the tablet-based Photoshop Touch, which is optimized for iPad and Android.
With the Creative Cloud, you don’t have to pay for upgrades since you’ll always have access to the latest versions and new features as soon as they’re available. You don’t need an always-on internet connection to use applications on a daily basis, but you will need connectivity in order to install and license your software, and then once every 30 days, when you receive an alert that you need go online and connect for a routine license check.
You get access to both Mac & Windows versions, and multiple language versions, which you don’t get with the DVD-based Creative Suites. You will want to have a reasonably fast internet connection as download times for Adobe Photoshop alone, at 960MB, can vary from 25 minutes over a corporate LAN at 10mbps, to an hour over cable at 3mbps, or nearly two hours over DSP at 1.5mbps (from the Creative Cloud FAQ).
Creative Cloud is not a cloud-based video editing platform like WeVideo or Novacut, as you are still editing locally.
Getting Started with Creative Cloud
Go to https://creative.adobe.com/plans and pick a plan. You can start with a free membership, which includes 30-day app trials if you just want to try it out first. If you have CS3 or a later version of Creative Suite, you’ll qualify for a special introductory monthly rate of $29.99 (with a one-year commitment) instead of the standard $49.99 per month. Teachers and students get a $19.99/mo. rate for the first year.
You can check out what Adobe Creative Cloud offers compared to Adobe Creative Suites at http://www.adobe.com/products/creativecloud/buying-guide.html
Once you have your plan, go to https://creative.adobe.com.
At the top left you’ll see Files & Apps. Click on Apps, and this takes you the Apps / Services page. You can also get to the Apps / Services page by clicking the “Download them now” button on the right side of the page. Click “Watch more videos” to see videos that will get you up to speed quickly with everything that Creative Cloud offers.
On the Apps / Services page you will see a banner at the top called News & New Releases. Below that, you can download the apps you want by clicking “Download,” or click “Learn More” to see new features and demo movies.
One of the main advantages of Creative Cloud is that you can download new versions immediately. Adobe is also consistently adding new features to existing apps (such as Dreamweaver and Illustrator, in September and August 2012, respectively).
More Apps in Creative Cloud
As a member of Creative Cloud, you get Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, which used to be a separate purchase from Creative Suite. Lightroom 4 lets you perform basic video editing functions, like changing a clip’s poster frame (the thumbnail image) and trimming clips. It supports standard video formats (.AVI, .MOV, .MP4, and AVCHD.) You can apply tonal curve and other changes to a still frame from a video clip, then apply that change to the entire clip. This workflow will certainly appeal to DSLR videographers who work with both stills and video.
You also get Adobe Acrobat XI Pro, which is the the complete solution for working with PDF documents and forms. It’s not a video- or photo-specific application, but we all need the ability to create, edit and share .PDF forms and documents from freelancers to large companies. It integrates with Adobe Cloud Services (listed in the graphic below) to give you document / web contract approvals, online document storage, easy form creation, and online document sharing.
Adobe Photoshop Touch is a separate purchase for iPad & Android that lets you work on the go and then upload your files to Creative Cloud to be finished in Photoshop. It doesn’t have masks but it has layers and offers the basic functionality of Photoshop. Photoshop Touch saves images in the .psdx format. Download the Touch App plugin and then install it so Photoshop can open the .psdx format. You can continue to refine your image in Photoshop and then load it back to Creative Cloud when you are done.
Services in Creative Cloud
Adobe Story is a service that lets you create projects for your video production that live within Creative Cloud. This can be a script, or a variety of reports like call sheets, set lists and locations, and shooting schedules. You can create a script with a pre-made template, or scripts can be imported in industry-standard formats (like Final Draft® and Movie Magic®) as well as text, .PDF and Word. There’s also Adobe Story Plus, with offline capability, so you can work offline and then upload to Creative Cloud later.
You can download a mobile version of Story to your smartphone or tablet. It allows you to read scripts, make comments, and get updates when a change had been made to a project.
Post Production Workflow
Adobe Premiere Pro is the heart of the Adobe post production workflow, where you refine your footage from a rough cut to a fine cut. CS6 adds Hover Scrub which lets you scrub a clip just by moving your mouse. I find this quicker than the traditional way of double-clicking your clip and loading it into the Source Window for viewing. A very powerful feature is Speech Analysis, which allows you to navigate to specific words and add markers. It’s accuracy can vary from fair to good, so be sure to attach a script from Adobe Story to improve its accuracy.
Adobe Prelude was introduced as part of the CS6 release. It’s used during the front end of the workflow where you ingest your tapeless media, add metadata, and even perform rough cuts. For those interested in the history of Prelude, it came about from requests from the BBC & CNN for a file-based logging tool that was user friendly and not overly techie.
Click the Ingest button in Prelude to get started, and select your mounted card. Transfer your media to multiple locations, verify that it was copied correctly, and transcode to a popular format like Pro Res if needed. This part is a big deal, as you don’t want to be manually copying all of the card’s media to your hard drive. You can add markers and comments in Prelude, which appends metadata to the clips that can be seen in Premiere Pro. Prelude lets producers focus on telling the story, and then the editor can refine and enhance the rough cut using Premiere Pro.
In Premiere Pro you can use Dynamic Link to bring in an existing After Effects composition or to create a new one, without intermediate rendering between applications. When you make a change in After Effects, it automatically updates in Premiere Pro.
You can also send one or more clips to After Effects for additional effects work like the new “3D Camera Tracker” feature. Select the clip in the sequence, right-click and select “Replace with After Effects Composition.” Make your changes in After Effects, and again it will automatically update in Premiere Pro, saving you valuable time.
Send your audio from Premiere Pro to Audition to sweeten your audio. Remove clicks and pops, remove hum, fix clipping audio and use a noise print to clean up a noisy audio track.
When you’re ready to color correct or grade your sequence, send it on to SpeedGrade. SpeedGrade was previously sold by IRIDAS for thousands of dollars, but it is now part of the Creative Cloud. It is a high-end color grading app in the same category as Da Vinci Resolve. It ships with a collection of presets called Looks (.look files) that you can use as a starting point. You can also share LUTs (look-up tables) with Photoshop & After Effects. The ability to share LUTs is very cool, as a producer or a director with Photoshop can view the look of a clip without having access to a high end grading tool like SpeedGrade or Da Vinci Resolve.
When you’re ready to export from Premiere Pro or After Effects, launch Adobe Media Encoder and Go to File > Import Premiere Pro/After Effects. Select the project you want to import from and choose the sequence/composition you want. You can batch export as many different files/versions you need with Media Encoder automatically. You can also use Dynamic Link to go from Premiere Pro to Encore automatically, which sends over chapter markers and if you go back and make a change in Premiere Pro it updates in Encore. Encore also can use the Speech Analysis data from Premiere Pro to create a web DVD that is searchable.
Creative Cloud is relatively new as it was introduced in May 2012, so expect it to continue to grow and mature. I like that Adobe is regularly adding new apps, and new features to current apps. Adobe Story is a powerful tool for filmmakers, and I hope to see more features aimed at post-production professionals, such as client reviews of edits with time code notes. To learn more and keep up with what’s new, go to www.adobe.com/products/creativecloud.html and check out the 30-plus tutorials at tv.adobe.com/show/learn-creative-cloud/.
About the Author
Based in Atlanta, Ga, Clay Asbury is an Adobe Certified Instructor for Premiere Pro and After Effects, who balances training with freelance videography/editing. Clay has been working in education and post production for 15 years. He started with Avid Media Composer and Media 100 in the ’90’s, before working with FCP from version 1 to version 7. He wrote the Trimming Chapter for the book Edit Well: Final Cut Studio Techniques from the Pros, edited by Larry Jordan.
His background is photography, which he continues to explore along with filmmaking with his Canon 5D Mk. II. Clay’s site Post Tips is a free online resource of tips for video editing and motion graphics, covering Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After effects, and much more.