With CS6, Photoshop takes a step toward Videoshop

With a public beta of Photoshop CS6 arriving tonight, Adobe is moving video editing from a sideshow to center stage, matching the real-world merging of still photography and videography.

Stephen Shankland principal writer
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Stephen Shankland
8 min read
Photoshop CS6 provides video-editing features, including the ability to apply tone and color changes from Photoshop's photo-editing tools.
Photoshop CS6 provides video-editing features, including the ability to apply tone and color changes from Photoshop's photo-editing tools. (Click to enlarge.) screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Don't beat yourself up if you didn't know that some modest video editing abilities are tucked into the premium version of Photoshop CS5.

But expect a lot more starting today, when Adobe Systems releases an open beta version of Photoshop CS6 code-named Superstition.

The new version brings video from the higher-priced Extended version of Photoshop to the standard version, and it adds editing features such as the ability to apply Photoshop tone and color adjustments. And instead of relying on Apple's QuickTime, the new tool draws from Adobe technology elsewhere in the Creative Suite, such as the Adobe Media Encoder to handle a broad range of video formats for the full-fledged video tool, Premiere Pro.

For a detailed look at how well it works, look at CNET's hands-on look at Photoshop CS6 from my colleague Lori Grunin. And the software--a beta version of Photoshop CS6 Extended, is downloadable from Adobe Labs or Download.com.

The Photoshop video move reflects the spread of video technology to customers who might not have shot video before.

Point-and-shoot digital cameras have been able to shoot video for years, but it's still a relative novelty among SLRs, the camera of choice for photo enthusiasts and pros. And mobile phones are doing better, with 1080p shooting now a common high-end feature.

Despite the trend, though, many people were just letting their videos languish, Adobe concluded after conducting some research, said Zorana Gee, a Photoshop product manager.

"It's become much more important in the last couple years, especially with new cameras and with all the photographers now starting to shoot video. Many devices now originally focused on taking still images now take videos, and often very good quality video," Gee said. However, she said, "Research showed people aren't doing anything with their videos. They just can't find the time, they might not want to learn a new app, they might not be a Premiere customer, or they don't consider themselves [Premiere] Elements user."

Thus, Adobe decided to put video in front of customers, mirroring what it's done with Lightroom 4.

Lightroom 4 has only basic editing abilities, though: customers can trim videos and apply editing presets. In contrast, Photoshop can be used to composite multiple videos, adding basic transition effects like a gradual crossfade from one clip to another or a fade to black at the end.

And it integrates with other Photoshop features.

"We have all of Photoshop capabilities available. Want black and white? Create a black-and-white adjustment layer. Lens correction? Pop into the lens correction [module]. If I want to add a type layer, I can," Gee said.

The new Photoshop includes a wide range of other new features, many of them previewed on YouTube. Among them:

Photoshop CS6 logo

More sophisticated tools to fill in patches left when imagery is moved or erased.

• Blur effects to restrict focus only to a spot or spots, or to apply a tilt-shift lens effects.

• Better automatic photo corrections that compares a shot to a database of thousands of images to try to predict the intended outcome.

• A new dark user interface by default.

Better vector editing abilities such as dashed lines.

• Raw-image editing controls also used in Lightroom 4 to better handle the full range contrasting light and dark tones.

A big boost from the graphics chip for many tasks using technology called the Mercury Graphics Engine that's closely related to the GPU-based Mercury Playback Engine that debuted in Premiere Pro CS5.

"We're wrapping our whole GPU [graphics processing unit] pipeline over the Mercury Playback Engine," Gee said. For graphics chores, Adobe uses the OpenGL standard as the interface for hardware acceleration.

For some computing tasks that run on the GPU, the CS5 graphics engine uses Nvidia's CUDA technology. That technology choice limited the engine to Nvidia cards--and indeed to high-end cards unless you hacked around a little. But Photoshop CS6 uses OpenCL, a related technology that works with AMD and Intel graphics, too. Windows driver support isn't the best, but Adobe believes GPU acceleration in general is much better.

"We're much more flexible and broad in terms of the cards we support," Gee said. At least 256MB of video RAM is needed, and some features don't work on Windows XP.

Technologies that use GPU acceleration include the blur technology, puppet warp, transformations, and a refurbished cropping tool.

When the final version is released (it's due the first half of this year), it'll cost $699 for the standard version and $999 for extended. Upgrades cost $199 and $399, respectively. Adobe hasn't released subscription pricing yet beyond saying Photoshop Extended is included in the $600-per-year Creative Cloud subscription, which also includes the rest of the Creative Suite, the tablet-oriented Touch apps, some other product like Lightroom and Edge, and various online services.

Here's Adobe's Russell Brown (breathlessly) showing off a half-dozen features in Photoshop CS6:

And here's the JDI list. Adobe lets its programmers tackle these if they can bang out the change in a day or three, Gee said.

• HUD brush resize and hardness can now change opacity
• Increase brush size to 5000px
• Change color dynamics to per stroke instead of per tip (user option for old behavior)
• Brightness/contrast slider for textures when painting
• Brush projection for static tips
• Brush cursor reflects brush dynamics for round and captured tips

• Show the sample size popup for the various eyedropper tools (black point, white point, etc.)
• Add ignore adjustment layers options bar item for the eyedropper
• New mode for eyedropper to select layers current and below

File formats
• Read common stereo image pair formats (JPS, PNS) Allow for more bit depths in TIFF files
• Read BIGTIFF format
• Give the user choices regarding how they want transparency treated in OpenEXR on file open

• Policed throughout app
• Use consistent grammar style in the title of dialog windows (no commands such as "Choose a color:")

• Add a contextual menu item that deletes a layer effect not just disables it
• Add dither options to Layer Styles for Gradient Overlay and Gradient Stroke
• Allow 00 or Shift 00 to work when setting layer/fill opacity (previously no way to get 0%)
• Add bicubic sharper & bicubic smoother options when free transforming layers
• Allow changing of blend modes for multiple layers at once
• Allow locking of multiple layers
• CMD+J to duplicate layers and layer group
• Allow changing color labels to multiple layers at once
• Layer tooltips to include layer name (if defined)
• Opt+click on toggle arrows (groups and effects) in layer panel should close all targets
• Show blend if/Blending Effects badge on layer
• Show correct opacity and blend mode values for hidden layers
• Tab goes to next layer on inline layer rename, SHIFT + TAB goes to previous
• New command to raster layer effect into layer, merging the selected layers into themselves
• Reorder effects in the layers palette to match the Z-order style/blend mode (bottom most effects in terms of blending order, drop shadow is below the other effects

• Resize Liquify brush with shortcuts
• Increase maximum Liquify brush size Add option to load last mesh
• Add new document presets for common devices (e.g. iPhone, iPad, etc.)
• Add new Gradient Map presets for toning and split toning
• Sticky reorganization of tool presets (changes persist after re-launch)
• Add Contact Sheet II as an Automation option

• Add the ability to return an array of guides in a document from the scripting SDK
• Add ability to access tool name associated with the tool preset name via scripting

• Make the marquee, lasso, and mask panel feather values support decimal places like the feather dialog
• Remember feather radius when showing dialog for selection from a path

• Improve dragging of vector curves
• Don't hide smart object icon when transforming a layer
• Rotate 90 with even x odd pixel dimension to be smooth (bjango.com)
• Undo or disable auto-rotate on open

• Remove the app bar and reduce the drag/app bar over 30%
• [Windows] New/open document to context click on a document tab (has always been on Mac, now on Windows too)
• Add "Don't show again" checkbox to Purge warnings

• Enable Split Channels for documents with layers
• Select Hex field by default and allow clipboard pastes with # in contents (i.e. #fffffff)
• Increased GPU stability by prequalifying GPUs on the fly before use
• Auto-select the best resample method based on the type of resize
• Enable Invert and Threshold adjustments for masks in 32-bit
• Hold SHIFT during startup to disable 3rd party plugins
• Add warning message that 16-bit images cannot display their file size in the Save as JPEG dialog o Add command to insert "lorem ipsum" for type

Updated 2:28 a.m. PT with feature lists from Adobe. Updated 5:14 a.m. PT with pricing information.