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   Software Preview
   CS4 Production Premium:
   A First Look Extravaganza
   Publisher: Adobe, Inc.
   Platform: Windows & Mac
   Description: Total post-production video and
   multimedia design package

   MSRP: $1699 ($599 for Upgrade)

   Expected Release: October 2008
   Review Date: October 1, 2008
   Reviewed By: Jeremy Hanke

At the beginning of July, I and Audio Editor John Howard were invited to be part of an elite cadre of media that would be trained on the CS4: Production Premium package in New York City. I was surprised by the invitation, not because it was extended to us (as we were part of the CS3 event in San Jose last year and I had assumed we’d be part of the CS4 training, as well), but because of the proximity to the release of CS3 in which it occured. For those of you who’ve forgotten, the official ship date for CS3 was in Q3 of 2007 and, hitherto, Adobe’s been running about two years between each new iteration of their software. As such, most of us in the press anticipated a Q3 2009 release for CS4.

At first, I thought they might be bringing us in to brainstorm about potential new features while there was still time to change them for the 2009 release. However, when I discovered that were using full betas at the training, I quickly realized that our assumptions on the release of CS4 were drastically wrong. While the folks at Adobe wouldn't give us an official date as to when CS4 would be shipping, the fact that all information that was revealed to us was to be under a press moratorium until October 15th (later reduced to September 23rd) made us very suspicious that it would be out by Q4 2008.

Well, now the shipping of the products have been officially announced and we are finally permitted to tell you what we know about the new products. So let’s get to it!

The new OnLocation CS4 is much more streamlined than CS3, with versions for both Mac and PC..

First off, all microfilmmakers want to know what the price is. Well, fortunately, the price has not gone up, but has stayed exactly the same. ($1699 for the full package, while the upgrade has dropped $200, to $599.) As to the included software, it’s essentially the same product lines as in CS3 with two exceptions: first, Ultra has now vanished and the $300 Mocha-AE planar tracking program is included free of charge. (You may recall that we reviewed the standalone version of Mocha-AE a few months back.) The vanishing of Ultra is annoying for all of us who do greenscreen work, as the ability to check your key with a live feed is very useful. However, the folks at Adobe assure me that they are going to be integrating Ultra functionality into other areas of the suite in future releases. The one area they mentioned was that they intend to allow Ultra’s 3D sets be able to be imported directly into After Effects in a future version. Hopefully they’ll also add a feature to a future version of OnLocation that will allow you to do test keys while you’re in the greenscreen studio, so that you don’t have to export a clip from OnLocation into After Effects and key it there to test in the field. The addition of Mocha-AE is a nice freebie for filmmakers, although the program is a little hit-or-miss (as you can tell from my review).

Speaking of OnLocation, it is now available for both PC AND Mac! Finally, our Mac brethren don’t have to be cut out of the great ability to record their footage in the field on a Mac OS laptop. (The past version could be used in Bootcamp, but most Mac users weren’t fans of having to run it in this way.) Additionally, the entire layout has been streamlined and integrated much more closely with the Adobe design structure. This is a wonderful improvement for all of us who felt that the VERY analog style controls of OnLocation CS3/DVRack 2 were very clunky and counter-intuitive for modern digital people.

Photoshop CS4 makes using adjustment layers much easier to understand for new users and much more streamlined for experienced users.

In many ways, the philosophy behind the entire CS4: Production Suite has been about improving and streamlining the feel of all the varied programs. Considering how many new programs and new acquisitions were included in CS3, this is really necessary. While this means that this package isn’t quite as flashy when you first read about it, it’s so amazingly thought through and polished that everything just flows much more nicely and efficiently!

Now, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a couple flashy elements to the new release.

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