Apple and Adobe presenting together is about as awkward as a Jon and Kate Reunion Special. Yet, on April 22 at Trustees Theater, that’s exactly what happened when both companies presented their most recent releases for film and motion graphics production.
Apple and Adobe remain general competitors with overlap in almost every aspect of creative production—the iPad release and controversy over the lack of Flash support have resulted in public verbal blows in the media between these two titans of technology.
Aside from the promise of free software, one draw of the presentation was finding out whether either of them could outshine the other.
Both companies presented their most up-to-date workflows for film and motion graphics production (which confused more than one individual looking for a Photoshop CS5 preview), but Apple highlighted what was essentially an old product. While Final Cut Studio 3 has become industry standard, it has been out since 2009, ages on a technology calendar.
This didn’t result in a boring presentation, but it was difficult not to look at Apple’s reiteration of what everybody has already been using as nothing more than an opening act for Adobe’s CS5 news.
Strangely, what was missing out of Apple’s overview of their software package was any mention of their DVD authoring product, DVD Studio Pro. While its logo was in the presentation, the Apple presenter suggested authoring DVD projects in Encore, an Adobe product.
Even in the closing remarks with a summary list of all the programs available, the presenter skipped over mentioning the logo that took up so much of the screen. It seemed like Apple was treading lightly and playing nice. It was noticeable and uncharacteristic. It also wasn’t the way Adobe was planning to play.
Adobe’s presenter started immediately by showing a video the “Avatar” team created telling the audience how indispensable Adobe products were in creating the film. The presenter made a point to mention that the film was finished on an Avid (the main editing competitor to Apple’s Final Cut Pro). This seemed like an unnecessary addition to the presentation, but didn’t seem an intentional blow.
What did seem intentional was when Adobe opened up an Internet browser and said how much they love Chrome, Google’s new browser. While Apple sidestepped some of their own products to plug Adobe’s, it seemed Adobe was going out of their way to mention Apple’s competitors.
These backhanded comments made the tension between the companies palpable, and a nice supplemental form of entertainment to the presentations.
But while Apple presented old news as new news, Adobe had a whole host of new features to showcase and brag about in their fifth Creative Suite. As if the announcement of the new product wasn’t enough, they gave away 10 copies of CS5 to students nominated by the faculty for their work in their majors.
To win over the whole audience, Adobe announced it would e-mail free software to all who signed in. It didn’t matter what the software would be. This bit of news garnered the biggest applause of the event.
After Adobe stole the show with its giveaways, its stole it again with the amazing new film-oriented features the company developed for CS5. Its work flow is the first one for film to incorporate the script at the very beginning of the project, and to keep the script embedded with the files all the way through production and editing.
With Adobe Story – which is available as a free download on Adobe’s website –scripts can be set up in a network for writers to collaborate and contribute to a central source. Furthermore, with CS5’s improved voice-recognition software, production clips captured to the computer can be analyzed for dialogue that matches the script, and then automatically organize the clips by scene for the editor.
Beyond these innovative new features comes 64-bit processing (read: fast, like the speed of light fast). In video production, a great deal of computer processing speed is needed to view footage, especially HD footage, in real time.
Just like in Photoshop, you can layer video files in an editing program, and the more layers means the more speed that is needed. Adobe showcased Adobe Premiere Pro (its editing program, not as ubiquitous as Final Cut Pro or Avid), which handles nine layers of video, all playing at true resolution. Furthermore, the presenter madly switched in and out of the program and the computer, something that would generally cause the video to halt. With the new 64-bit processing, the video never stopped.
By presentation’s end, it was clear this dog-and-pony show was more than just a geekfest. The presentation offered a revelation of the amazing advancements in film work flows to come. It showed that Apple’s reign in film production remains neither concrete nor guaranteed. It also offered an opportunity to get free stuff.
This fairly odd coupling left attendees with a visible sign that the faster technology changes, the more intense tensions between the companies that develop this technology will become.Contact Matt Demarko.