Adobe Gets Creative With the Cloud, Opens Up New Workflows

Adobe continued its ascension to the cloud last week, announcing that it will convert its flagship Creative Suite software entirely to the subscription-based Creative Cloud offering. The move means that Adobe’s entire CS portfolio will transition from a software-in-a-box offering to an exclusively cloud-based platform that relies on regular online updates.

Adobe’s Creative Suite tools (including Premiere Pro, Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and Dreamweaver) are now branded CC, and, while Creative Suite 6 products will continue to be supported and available for purchase, the company has no plans for future releases of Creative Suite or other CS products. Although not all Adobe users are happy with the move (as seen by the 9,000-signature-strong petition against it), Creative Cloud has garnered more than a half million paid members and more than 2 million free members since its launch in April 2012, giving Adobe the validation it needs to embark on a fully cloud-based future.

“Look at the progress we’ve made on Creative Cloud in 12 months — and it’s only going to get better and better,” says Bill Roberts, director of video product management, Adobe Systems. “First and foremost, Creative Cloud has to deliver the tools, which it has done and will continue to do. Now we are trying to build out the community and bring all the information and users together. Then we can continue to layer on richer and richer services from there.”

The latest version, Adobe CC, which will be available in June, also includes the next generation of software for all the previous CS platforms, including a revamped Premiere Pro non-linear editor.

The Big Move: From the Suite to the Cloud
Creative Cloud allows files to be stored, synced, and shared on multiple workstations or devices (Mac OS, Windows, iOS, and Android). With Creative Cloud membership, users can also sync settings in Adobe Premiere Pro CC and After Effects CC, enabling them to synchronize preferences, including keyboard shortcuts and workspaces, across multiple computers. In addition, the Balance online creative community is now integrated with Creative Cloud, so customers can showcase work and get feedback on projects remotely.

“I think this fits very well with where a lot of things are going in the [video-production] business right now,” says Roberts. “As we make our way through this transmission, a lot of people have the concept that they have to buy something that they physically touch or see the file on their computer. When you talk about the tools of our business, this makes so much sense. People just have to keep going until they feel comfortable about it.”

The Pricing Question
Adobe will offer different levels of CC subscriptions for individual members ($49.99, or $29.99 for existing CS users), teams ($69.99 per month per seat, $39.99 for existing CS users), and enterprises (varies depending on number of users). The CC individual version includes 20 GB of online storage; the team version has 100 GB of storage along with centralized deployment and administration capabilities.

Much of the consternation from existing CS users regarding the move to Creative Cloud revolves around the new pricing model, which shifts from the traditional single-software-purchase model to this new monthly-subscription model. However, Roberts sees it as a huge advantage for both individual and team users moving forward.

“Aside from the annual subscription, you can do short-term subscriptions for the software that allow people to ramp up and down when they are busy,” says Roberts. “I think that makes a lot of sense for the cyclicality of [the broadcast] market. For the really large groups, they can have an enterprise term license agreement and have all the software they can eat for a certain amount of time. But the smaller guys are going to love the flexibility of being able to ramp up and have everyone on the same version and then ramp back down.”

Where Does Anywhere Fit in?
Adobe’s biggest news at the NAB Show last month centered on its Adobe Anywhere platform, which promises to allow producers and editors that use Adobe video tools (primarily Premiere Pro and Prelude) to access, manage, and edit centralized media and assets across virtually any network, even standard Ethernet or WiFi. Targeted primarily at enterprise organizations, Anywhere (powered by the Mercury Streaming Engine) does not require heavy file transfers and does not rely on proxy files, enabling producers and editors to work directly with hi-res media files remotely.

Although the prospect of marrying Creative Cloud and Anywhere opens up a wealth of possibilities for sports-media producers looking to create unique new file-based workflows, Roberts says that likely will not be a reality in the near future. “I don’t think we are at the stage where we are marrying the power of Anywhere with the power of Creative Cloud. That said, I hope, 12 months from now, we will be having a conversation about how Anywhere and Creative Cloud are collaborating. But I can’t say exactly how that’s going to look at this point.”

The Next-Gen, New-Look Premier Pro
The Creative Cloud update also includes the next generation of Adobe’s flagship software applications, including the company’s video-production platforms.

The Adobe Premiere Pro CC NLE (non-linear-editing) software includes new editing features, including a revamped, simplified timeline, enhanced closed-captioning features, and a Link & Locate clip locator. In addition, the latest version of Premier Pro features more-powerful color workflows with the addition of the Lumetri Deep Color Engine to easily apply rich-color-grading looks.

Adobe After Effects CC allows motion-graphics and visual-effects artists to work more easily in 3D with the new Live 3D Pipeline with Maxon Cinema4D integration.

There are also all-new versions of Adobe SpeedGrade, Audition CC, Prelude CC, and Adobe Story CC Plus.

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