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Adobe's spring video update sticks to essentials

Adobe's annual Creative Cloud video announcements at the NAB show include some welcome updates to Premiere Pro and Audition, plus performance enhancements for After Effects.

Adobe introduces a more friendly, visual interface for puppet tagging in Character Animator.


Compared to last year's NAB show where Adobe announced some really innovative new tools, this year's NAB updates for the video applications in Creative Cloud are more yawn and less "yay!" That doesn't mean there aren't important workflow enhancements that will make day-to-day production easier; there are. There's just nothing particularly glamorous about filling essential holes in the feature set (like adding color secondaries) or performance improvements. And that's pretty much what we get this year.

And as we've seen since it launched, Adobe continues to relentlessly push its Adobe Stock service. However, I think the lack of audio is a big hole in Stock for use with the video tools. And I don't see it coming soon: per Adobe, "We have no immediate plans for audio, but it is an area of focus for the future."

What's new

  • Premiere Pro Which of the updates will float your boat the most depends upon your workflow. A key capability is the addition of HSL secondaries; for the uninitiated, that's creating color masks to make selective adjustments. Adobe has increased the resolution of the color scopes for better readability as well as added support for control surfaces in grading. If you have a distributed workflow or work with high-resolution video, the resurrection of proxy editing will come in quite handy. During ingestion, AME can render out a standard-format 720p proxy file for you to work with on slower systems or for syncing via CC without blowing through your 20GB (or 100GB if you're on a team) of storage. Adobe also eases the process for folks producing 360-degree video content, with a better interface for panning around -- similar to YouTube's 360-degree viewer -- and stereoscopic views. (The company refers to this as "VR video mode" because marketing.) Previewing with VR goggles still requires third-party plug-ins, though. There are also improvements for formatting titling and captions -- font, color, size and position -- and more languages. Plus, there are some additional shortcuts and timeline navigation enhancements. And for performance, Adobe's added preliminary support for Apple Metal, and on Windows/Intel Iris systems, H.265 hardware decoding. There's more, too.

One of Premiere's new 360-degree video-editing views.

  • Media Encoder (AME) Adobe's expanding AME's role, turning it into more of a media manager and browser. There's improved export from Audition and Character Animator, and perhaps most important, it's now an ingestion tool that transcodes in the background while you start working in Premiere. And Adobe adds Twitter direct upload to join its other direct destinations.
  • After Effects There aren't a lot of updates for AE, but Adobe has added support for its Mercury Engine to improve performance, which includes GPU acceleration for Gaussian Blur and Lumetri Color rendering. The other is roundtripping with Cinema 4D and support for exporting animated text and shape layers into a 4D file.
  • Audition The biggie here is an attempt to make using the application less intimidating. A new Essential Sound panel offers basic and contextual options for dialogue, music, effects and background sound.
  • Character Animator Still technically in "preview," Adobe adds new features and makes the interface a little more designer-friendly. In addition to the text-based object tags, Adobe has added a more visual interface for assigning movements ("puppet tagging"). You'll also be able to make a character follow your mouse around the screen.

The new versions are slated to roll out this summer to Creative Cloud subscribers. (US, UK and Australian pricing. You have to change your region at the bottom of the screen because the site automatically and annoyingly redirects back to your native region.)