Adobe Introduces Creative Suite 4

The company said its latest professional media production software includes six distinct bundles because the distinction between Web sites and interactive experiences is blurring.
Offering content creators "the ability to elevate products, brands, and ideas above the clutter," Adobe president and CEO Shantanu Narayen on Tuesday introduced Adobe Creative Suite 4, the latest iteration of the company's professional media production software.

The Creative Suite 4 launch represents "Adobe's biggest software release to date," according to the company. It includes six distinct application bundles -- Adobe Creative Suite 4 Design editions (standard and premium), Creative Suite 4 Web editions (standard and premium), Creative Suite 4 Production Premium, and Creative Suite 4 Master Collection -- assembled from 13 separate product lines and 14 "technologies," which are applications like DVD authoring program Encore that are only available in Adobe's CS product line. These product lines include Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Flash, Fireworks, Dreamweaver, After Effects, and Premiere Pro.

In a video launch event, Narayen said that the distinction between Web sites and interactive experiences is blurring and that "consumer expectations are clearly changing." Designers and developers are being asked to help end-users connect in more diverse ways with brands, he said. "We hope that with these tools you will be able to create a new generation of breakthrough technologies," he said.

List prices are as follows: Adobe Creative Suite 4 Design Premium, $1,799; Adobe Creative Suite 4 Web Premium, $1,699; Adobe Creative Suite 4 Production Premium, $1,699; and Adobe Creative Suite 4 Master Collection, $2,499. Upgrades from earlier versions range from $399 to $899.

John Loiacono, senior VP for the Creative Solutions group at Adobe, said CS4 is the product of "1,700 years of person-work."

"This wasn't a couple of people on a weekend tweaking a panel," he said.

Many of the innovations in the various CS4 applications involved improved workflow. "We're really trying to improve the workflow between designer and developer," said Loiacono, who demonstrated various changes that will help media creation professionals work more quickly and more efficiently.

One example demonstrated is Adobe Premiere Pro's ability, in conjunction with Adobe OnLocation, to utilize speech recognition technology to turn video dialogue into searchable, time-code accurate metadata. This allows video editors to locate and manage video clips more easily.

Loiacono also demonstrated a new Photoshop C4 featured called "content-aware scaling." He showed how this feature can be used to resize a horizontally oriented photo of four people on a beach to fit a vertically oriented magazine cover without squeezing the people and making them look too thin -- "content aware scaling" cuts pixels from the landscape between the people so that it can preserve their physical proportions in the resized image.

Other new features include: multitrack support in SoundBooth, Live Preflight checking to catch possible print job errors before they happen in InDesign, a Rotate View tool for viewing images at any angle without distortion, objected-based animation, inverse kinematics, and 3-D transformation in Flash, to name a few. For a full list of new features and improvements, consult each application summary on Adobe's Web site.

Adobe CS4 is scheduled to ship in October.