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Adobe Production Studio
Even the best video and audio applications are huge time sinks. But innovations in Adobe's new Production Studio suite make working with multimedia far more efficient than it used to be.
Production Studio comes in two versions. The Standard bundle includes Premiere Pro 2, a video editor; After Effects 7, a motion graphics editor; and Photoshop CS2, an image editor. The Premium version adds Encore DVD 2, a disc-authoring tool; Audition 2, a sound editor; and Illustrator CS2, a drawing program. All components except Photoshop and Illustrator receive big updates. Among the most welcome improvements: Premiere Pro 2 adds a nifty multicamera editing mode, in which you just click different windows to make camera cuts; After Effects 7's new graph editor gives you extremely fine control over keyframe editing; Audition 2's new spectral-frequency controls include a Photoshop-like lasso selection tool; and Encore 2's new Flowchart panel gives you a graphical view of your DVD's navigational structure.
Bridging the Gap
Two other pieces tie the applications within the suite together. The Bridge organizer, which first appeared in Adobe's Creative Suite imaging products, now works with Adobe's video apps as well. And Dynamic Link lets several of the applications share elements and, in some cases, permits you to delay time-consuming rendering until the last minute.
For example, Dynamic Link enables you to share elements between After Effects and Premiere Pro, and you don't have to save your project or render it to make it available in the other application; changes update automatically. Not all of the suite's applications are linked, though--most significantly, Premiere Pro and Encore DVD aren't--and the Dynamic Link commands differ from app to app. But you can copy and paste or drag and drop some elements (such as timelines) between applications, and this process was actually easier to understand than Dynamic Link.
Premiere Pro, After Effects, Encore, and Audition now have Adobe's auto-adjusting interface. If you drag a corner to resize a window or palette, all the other windows and palettes resize themselves, so you never have to move elements out of your way. Also, every application relies more heavily than before on workspaces--predefined layouts for certain tasks.
But the biggest time-saver of all is the rock-solid stability of Production Studio's applications. Even though I was working with a late beta version, I never experienced a crash. On the other hand, the apps are power- and resource-hungry; I could comfortably run only two of them at the same time on a 3.4-GHz Pentium 4 PC with 1GB of RAM.
Every component of Production Studio is extremely useful and highly complementary. They could benefit from further integration, but the steps Adobe has taken with this version of the suite are impressive nonetheless.
Adobe Systems Production Studio
A big, powerful, expensive suite whose apps work together well.
Price when reviewed: $1699 (Premium), $1199 (Standard)
Current prices (if available)
Adobe Production Studio
A big, powerful, and expensive suite that has zero competition.
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