Last night I went to the monthly gathering of video production professionals in Atlanta called ATL Cutters. I’ve been going for a few months and this meeting was by far the most well attended of them all. Why? Adobe was in attendance to talk about some of the new features of your favorite video production tools on June 17th. A lot of it was talked about earlier this month at their annual MAX Conference, so I’m not going to go over it in detail on my blog. Suffice to say Adobe is listening to the entire creative industry and giving them just about everything they’re asking for and more.
The biggest change everybody is talking about though has nothing to do with the features of the software. That’s because going forward, Adobe is forcing everybody to purchase the Creative Suite through a subscription model (or a membership if you ask Adobe’s marketing department) known as “Creative Cloud”. This move has a lot of people confused and some are even scared/mad/pissed off at Adobe for making this decision. I for one embraced it wholeheaterdly last year when it was only an option – and here’s why:
IT’S NOT SaaS
Ok, well in a way it kinda is, but it isn’t SaaS in the traditional sense. This is not Adobe creating feature limited web-based versions of their desktop software. You don’t log in to a web browser and upload your files to a central server to work on them there (at least not yet – more on my opinion on that later). These are the exact same desktop applications you’ve been getting, except now they’re delivered through “the cloud” (better known as “the internet”). You open the Adobe Application Manager and choose to download and install whatever applications you want from the creative suite.
And I mean any of them. Are you a video editor who’s been buying Production Premium but always wanted to play around with Illustrator? Download it. Are you a photographer who’s only used Lightroom and Photoshop in the past but have always wanted to give video editing a go? Well now you can try it out in Premiere Pro!. You pay for the “membership” in Adobe Creative Cloud and you get every application Adobe makes now and will make in the future. Oh and you can install those applications on 2 computers AT THE SAME TIME. Most serious content creators I know these days have a desktop and a laptop, so this is a big deal. What’s more is you don’t have to install the newest version. If you need to stay at CS6 when the new version comes out, YOU CAN! Since these are full desktop versions of the software, that software stays on your computer until you uninstall it and Adobe will even allow you to download older versions if that’s what you need.
NEW FEATURES ALL THE TIME
One of the biggest reasons for doing this has a lot to do with the speed at which everything changes in the tech industry these days. Think about it. When CS6 came out last year, the Canon C series cameras had just been announced, Sony was just now beginning to talk about the new F5 and F55, BlackMagic didn’t even make cameras and Magic Lantern hadn’t yet hacked the 5D Mark III to shoot raw video.
If Adobe kept going at the same pace (which is a big new release every 18 months), there would be a constant lag in your software working with the newest hardware on the market. It also means if they’ve finished working on some new whiz-bang plugin or brush, they can just go ahead and release it to all members for you to download at your leisure. As somebody who always likes to be on the cutting edge, this is a huge benefit to me.
THE CLOUD IS JUST A MARKETING TERM
There I said it. “The Cloud” is a term that sounds pretty and new, but it’s just a buzzword. Way back when I started learning about the internet, the first thing people always drew at the top of the board in class was a cloud. The internet is the cloud. The cloud is the internet. All “the cloud” means is there is a server somewhere doing something on the internet that relates somehow to what you see on your desktop or mobile device. That’s all. Technically a website is in “the cloud”. Back when I played World of Warcraft, you could’ve called that a “video game cloud”.
You do get 20GB of cloud based storage with Adobe CC. This is probably the closest thing to a traditional SaaS that people are familiar with when they think of the cloud. It’s not dissimilar to something like Dropbox or Google Drive. You upload files there and can share them with other people. In the case of Adobe’s cloud storage, you’d typically share them with clients and/or colleagues.
BUT THE CLOUD OPENS UP HUGE POTENTIAL
Here is where I get to the meat of why I think this is a big deal. There are a couple of things in Adobe CC that look (to me) like the beginnings of a truly cloud based interactive workflow in the future.
The first is that Adobe now has the ability to sync your settings for any major application (Photoshop, Premiere, After Effects) using just your Adobe ID. This means you can sit down at any computer with a CC version of the application, log in, and immediately have all your keyboard shortcuts, menu settings, window layouts, etc. right there where you want them.
The second feature is called Adobe Anywhere. I highly recommend clicking that link and reading all about it, but essentially this opens up true real-time collaboration on videos from just about anywhere. This is in the early stages and right now will only be for large enterprise customers, but if you look a year or two down the road you can see what’s coming.
Going back to my World of Warcraft experience for a minute…When that game client was released you had to download ALL of the elements of the game to your computer before you could start playing. At the time the entire contents of the game could fit on a single DVD and internet bandwidth was still pretty slow, so there was no way you could stream all that content to your computer in real time. Fast forward a few years and after dozens of patches and several expansion packs, the install files for the game were enormous. God forbid you lose your hard drive and had to install everything from scratch. The game files could easily take up 8-10GB on disk and if you had crappy internet you could be waiting literally days to be able to play.
Now the internet has changed a bit. Decent bandwidth is easier to come by and thanks to a lot of improvements with web APIs, companies with huge datacenters like Blizzard can directly stream the files you need as you need them. You need only download a fraction of the actual game to begin playing and “the cloud” (aka Blizzard’s game servers) will figure out what other files you need and send them to you in the background…essentially “streaming” the parts of the game you need in real-time.
WHAT DOES WoW HAVE TO DO WITH ADOBE ANYWHERE
Well nothing directly, but what we’re talking about is the benefits enabled by having the technology to do 2 things:
1)Bandwidth that can handle real-time streams of large chunks of data.
2)Servers that are intelligent enough to figure out what data you need before you need it.
Because in a nutshell that’s what Adobe Anywhere is going to do. You will have large amounts of data stored on a central server somewhere (or more than likely a SAN), and the client application (Premiere in this case) will work with that data in real-time just like it does now. The only difference on the client is that what you’re seeing will actually be video streaming across the network instead of a file playing locally on your computer.
Because Premiere is already smart enough to request parts of the video from the hard drive that it actually needs, the actual bandwidth used will be no more than a high quality YouTube video. And because all that data is in a central location with a high performance SAN, multiple users can be working on the same content at the same time doing different tasks. Especially when you think about how large even a compressed 4K video file can be, you can see how nice this will be for cutting down on the amount of disk space you need to have multiple people collaborating on a project at the same time.
THE FUTURE OF ONLINE VIDEO COLLABORATION
There’s a lot of talk about the explosion of online video, which means that in the not-to-distant-future, this type of rich collaboration will be used by a lot more people than just big broadcasters and production houses. Once this type of technology gets turned into a true “SaaS” model and everybody has 50-100Mb internet in their homes, we will be able to collaborate on video projects with people all over the world with nothing but a laptop and a wi-fi connection. Especially once Intel Ultrabooks and Macbook Airs can edit HD and 4K video with the same power as a modern desktop. With Intel’s Haswell architecture on the horizon, that’s probably not that far off either. I’m doing some research to that end and may have another post about that soon.