A Peek at Adobe CS3

Yesterday, we trekked over to the Carlu to see all the flashy new features of Adobe CS3. Snacking ensued. There was no shortage of "oohs" and "aahhhs" and clapping and whatnot. A little eyerolling ensued. Underneath it all, there were a few standout features in CS3 that are making me excited for the coming release of the Master Collection (which includes everything, and possibly a dog).

Here are some highlights

Oh yeah, and in the end I won a t-shirt. Overall, it was a good presentation – it really did make me want to dig into CS3. It gave me some ideas for things that I might not have thought about otherwise. It also got me out of the basement for a day – but I still didn’t see any sunlight. 🙂

Want to see some of this stuff for yourself? They’ve got a podcast: creativesuitepodcast.com.
To see the podcast episodes dedicated to the overview of each product, go to the Inside Adobe category.

Adobe CS3 actually comes in a few flavours: Design, Web, Production Premium and Master Collection. You really do need to look at the table of programs that come in each and decide which one you really need. If you go to the CreativeSuite Website, and click Compare Editions, you can see for yourself.



Adobe Bridge:
Not new software, but honestly I’ve never looked at it before. The demonstrators all used Bridge very regularly, to, um… bridge between the various programs and their assets. I liked the layout, and the functionality – but honestly I think I was drawn in by the colour scheme. Nice dark interface. In any case, I can see myself using this program for a number of things in the future… including making various image galleries, viewing my collections of images and video clips, importing my photos from my digital camera – and, of course, in conjunction with all of the other Adobe stuff that I’m already using. An admin tool, for the most part, but a decent one.

They’re trying to confuse us all with "Photoshop" and "Photoshop – Extended". They just want us to get so confused that we get the Extended. Actually, I think I need the Extended. Photoshop is my most used Adobe product right now, and they showed us a few neato new features that should come in handy.

  • New Quick Selector (yes, *another* selection tool)
  • Smart Filter Layers – allows you to apply filters and go back and make changes to the filter settings, the order that the filters are applied in, etc. Much like the filters in Final Cut… and all I have to say is "it’s about time!". My only question – why do you have to make a layer a special ‘smart filter layer’ to use this feature? Are there any downsides?
  • Auto Align – assesses a group of photos and determines how to align them – either next to each other, like in a panoramic landscape, or on top of each other (like when you have various shots of the same scene, with slight differences)
  • Auto Blend Layers – used with Auto Align, smoothes edges, tries to adjust exposure to make it look like one image

some "Extended" features

  • ability to import video frames into layers in Photoshop and convert to a Smart Object
  • create a 3D layer in Photoshop
  • some video editing capabilities right in Photoshop

They also talked quite a bit about Camera Raw 4. I’m not 100% sure whether this is a product that is automatically included in Photoshop, or if it’s something you buy separately. I have a feeling it’s part of the program (otherwise, why would they take so much time to talk about it!?). In any case, this update of Camera Raw will now allow you to bring in TIF and JPG images. They have a few neat features for enhancing photographs, such as Fill Light, which will help to bring out the details in some underexposed areas of the image, and Clarity, that generally boosts the look of the image.


They didn’t spend much time on Illustrator, but they did show one example how (previously Macromedia) Flash is being integrated. If you create a ‘symbol’ in Illustrator, it can also be used as a ‘symbol’ in Flash. They’ve used the same framework for both features, so they could be exported/imported easily.

They also spent some time talking about colour… there is a Color Guide tool that will essentially suggest colour combinations for you, as well as a Pantone-based colour wheel, and a feature called Live Color that will collect swatches from the Kuler website (kuler.adobe.com).


Now that this is Adobe, I suppose I should say that Dreamweaver is my most regularly used Adobe product. They didn’t show too many flashy things in Dreamweaver – I actually got the impression that this was a bit of a DW intro for the Adobe users – but there were a couple of key things that piqued my interest.

  • SPRY – Ajax components that can easily be added to your web page. Some of these features were getting the wheels squeaking… I think I’ll be trying this stuff out as soon as I get it out of the box. They showed some neat accordian navigation element, and some automatic form field validation.
  • Integration with Photoshop – you can now bring in Photoshop images, and get a cute little Photoshop edit button to go along with them. You can also use ‘copy merged’ option in Photoshop to copy all layers of a selected region of an image – and then simply ‘paste’ it into DW. Very neat.
  • Import PSD files – will try to automatically convert a PSD file when imported.

A cousin to Dreamweaver, Contribute is like one of those relatives that you’ve heard about, and should probably meet, but have never found the right time. Maybe I’ll check it out now, if only to check out the blog editing feature. I still don’t fully understand how it works, and question whether it is limited to a handfull of specific blog types. Basically, instead of setting up FTP info, you enter the URL of your blog and login with your blog username and password. From there, you can use the Contribute WYSIWYG features to post a new blog entry. I’m hoping this will work with our Roller system, since our system doesn’t have a decent WYSIWYG editor yet.

I haven’t looked at Premiere in many many many years, many many versions. I vaguely remember hating it when I was in uni, so I’ve avoided it like the plague. I even went as far as to switch platforms (from Windows to Mac) just so I could use Final Cut Pro. What I saw yesterday looked pretty good – and kind of like a product that was trying to look like Final Cut Pro. In any case, I will be learning Premiere for my Windows crowd. They also showed two Windows only applications that come in CS3 that looked kind of neat.

After Effects:
I think I’m most excited to get my hands on After Effects. I’ve been meaning to get into it for years now and just haven’t had the push. I will be diving shortly. Here are some new features that they talked about (although I’m not familiar with the current ones, so I’m excited by it all).

  • Puppet Tool – use stickpins to grab parts of your image and animate them (their example was some video footage of a guy kicking – they needed him to kick a number of times, in a number of directions and used the puppet tool to do it).
  • Branstorm – a tool that randomly chooses some filters (or something) and shows you a grid of results to choose from…

Device Central:
A pretty neat tool for those of us designing for mobile delivery… This application simulates a number of actual mobile devices (all phones, from what I could see) and displays your media (photo/video/flash) as it would be displayed on that device. It simulates the button controls, the display specs, and has a couple of testing options that will help you to determine whether you’ve designed well for that device. They have promised to update the devices quarterly, and make them available for free download.