Saturday, May 23, 2009

Adobe CS4

Today I spent some time in the office answering e-mails, a few phone calls, and I made a pastoral visit.

I can't really talk about the interesting adventure that was that pastoral visit (ever put together shelves on such a visit). So instead I'll talk about the interesting adventure that is the new Adobe CS4 Suite. This is a set of professional-level programmes for producing all kinds of media including websites (Dreamweaver), photos (Photoshop), movies (Premiere Pro), etc. I've been using CS3 for a while, but there are at least three features I found missing, all of which have been resolved with the latest version.

First, the old version of the Adobe Suite did not have the ability to take advantage of the complete power of my workstation (ORAC)--principally in that it didn't take advantage of the 64-bit architecture (though most of the suite was able to use the four-processors simultaneously). The new version makes much more efficient use of the latest processors/operating systems.

Second, I was always frustrated that Premiere Pro Couldn't import the MP4 files from my Flip HD camera. The Flip Cam takes surprisingly good footage considering that it is very small (easily fits in a chest pocket), but I was limited to using the editing software that came with the camera. I had yet to find a good (lossless) way to convert the footage into a format Premiere Pro could work with. So it was good for spontaneous, informal video snapshots, but that was it. Now, however, that problem with CS4 is solved! It has no problem at all taking the footage at 720p and editing it.

Third, here is a feature I didn't know I wanted until someone invented it: speech recognition. Basically, CS4 can create a transcription of the speech in a video that is then searchable as meta-data. Searchable not only from within Premiere Pro, but from within other programmes like Adobe Bridge. Imagine you just shot a three hour interview with two cameras. That's six hours of footage, and you want to find where your subject said something distinctive like, "it was at that moment that I knew that pickles are good in hamburgers." Rather than have to "scrub" (fast forward) through hours of footage, you can simply search through the automatically generated transcript! How cool is that? Here's a demo:

There are lots of other improvements, as well. The media encoder is much improved, especially because you can have it running in the background while you do other work. There are also a lot more pre-sets and options for importing and exporting data. it's all very, very cool.


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