Keeping up with the yearly updates, Adobe recently released their next major release, Creative Suite 6. I’ll only be covering Photoshop and After Effects, and the features that I personally got excited over, because giving a thorough review of all the new features in CS6 might take me a few months.
The new dark user interface is more befitting of an image editing program. I have grown accustomed to the dark background in earlier versions of After Effects and I am glad it has found its way into Photoshop. I find it to be less distracting, and highlights your image rather than compete with it. Purists need not worry, because you can always switch back to the old light grey interface.
I use this a lot, and it’s great that they updated this simple tool. It feels like Adobe actually bothered enough (cared, even?) to go back to one of the most basic tools and give it a new lease of life. The humble crop tool does the same thing, but the user interface is jazzed up. The image moves to centralize itself as you crop, and in addition to that you can straighten your image as well. It automatically crops as you straighten so you don’t get white corners. This is another one of those “what took Adobe so long” features. I’ve been using a tool like this in iPhoto and Picasa for the longest time.
Adaptive Wide Angle
This is Adobe sorcery at its best. Place a distorted fisheye image in, draw some lines on the parts of the image that need to be straightened, and hey presto, you got a nice straightened undistorted extreme wide angle image. Brilliant.
Patch tool and move with content aware
If you liked content aware fill, you’ll love this. It’s basically the same thing, just easier to apply. Instead of making a selection, hitting content aware fill and crossing your fingers, you select the offending object, move the tool towards a nice empty sample patch, and poof, it’s gone. The effect won’t be perfect all the time, but there are ways to polish it.
Move works in a similar way, but instead of removing an object, you move the object.
Oil Paint Filter
I’ve been using this as part of the Adobe’s Pixel Blender plugin before CS6 was launched. I’ve tried many paint filters and this is by far the fastest way to get a good looking painterly effect. It seems like they added a new lighting parameter, that creates an 3D-ish embossed oil painting look. I don’t see myself using this, but it certainly is an option.
3D Camera Tracker
This is my favourite new feature of the entire Creative Suite. Once the domain of dedicated matchmoving apps like Boujou, this feature finally comes default in After Effects. Instead of spending a ridiculous amount of time plotting points and tracking them one by one in the older versions of After Effects, all you need to do is activate the 3D Camera Tracker, wait a few moments while the software does its analysis and you will see multicoloured points on your footage.
Right click on any point, and you are able to add a text, solid or null object that attaches itself to the points on the footage. Your object will look like it is moving along with the camera movement in the footage. This is a huge time saver, now with matchmoved graphics getting more in vogue these days. The video above was done in a little over 10 minutes.
Global Performance Cache
The global performance cache is a combination of various features that contribute to an overall faster preview.
For example, when you hit the spacebar to preview your composition, changes in one layer would not require After Effects to render the entire composition again. Only the layer affected will render again, saving time. Cached frames are also stored in the event of an undo, so you can change your mind and go back to your previous edit immediately. I watched with glee as the green preview bar reverted to the original length as I toggled the visibility of the new effect I applied.
TL;DR Faster previews.
Rolling Shutter Repair
Unfortunately, or fortunately, I was unable to get footage out of my Sony NEX-5n with a pronounced rolling shutter effect. But sufferers of this plague will be able to fix their footage with this feature.
After Effects CS6 now comes with fully raytraced 3D rendering. This may save a little time if you find yourself switching in and out of a 3D package, just to add a little bit of 3D flair in your video. Shadows, specular, reflection, the works. When I first tried it out, I was puzzled as I couldn’t find the geometry settings required extrude and bevel my shapes and text. Turns out you have to switch the renderer from classic 3D to ray-traced 3D using the drop down menu on the top right of your footage. This feature requires quite a bit of horsepower from your CPU. If you’re thinking of using this feature on a low end system, like a MacBook Air, no. Just no.
Good news and bad; first the good: In this release, they are pushing for the Adobe Creative Cloud, a new way to obtain a license for CS6 without spending a huge sum of money at one go. This is great for freelancers and studios just starting out. All you need is to pay a low price of US$49.99, and you can download and install the entire CS6 Master Collection, plus use all of Adobe’s cloud services, like cloud syncing service and the ability to publish apps and websites straight from CS6. The great thing is that this also ensures you get the latest version of CS, so you no longer have to sacrifice upgrading to the latest and greatest because it’s not in your budget. I think this is an excellent way to combat piracy as well.
The bad news? It’s not available in South East Asia yet. I sent an email to an Adobe representative enquiring about when it would reach the SEA shores but they don’t have an answer yet.
Adobe has made an offer difficult to resist with the Adobe Creative Cloud. Unfortunately it’s not available in South-East Asia, so you’re stuck with the regular off the shelf price of S$2867 for CS6 Production Premium. If you’re a professional that depends on Creative Suite on a daily basis, you’re probably already using Creative Suite 6. If you’re a student, good news! The education version of CS6 Design & Web Premium is available at S$139.
If you’re dealing with media on a daily basis, there’s no question about whether to get CS6. This is easily the best release of the Adobe Creative Suite to date. It’s faster, and a joy to work with. Just make sure you have the hardware to support it.