Thursday, 9 October 2008

The Launch of Adobe CS4

I attended the launch of CS4 at Canal Walk on Tuesday 7th October.

It was a vibrant and well attended event showing a growing demand for Adobe and their commitment within the SA design industry. Canal Walk Nu Metro provided the ideal venue to ‘screen’ the release of the new CS4 to its ‘eager-to-see-the-new-stuff’ fans. Digital has become the design material within our industry and the majority, if not all, of design travels through this medium to reach its target at some point within the design process. International and local Adobe Ace’s showcased the new features throughout the CS4 Suite and how they will enhance the design process, no matter which area you design in, if not all. The seamless integration through the applications is a major advantage within the CS4 Suite. It was a perfect opportunity to network with fellow industry friends from graphic and all design, video production, reproduction, print as well as the many students who attended. Industry partners displayed the new software, shiny hardware and fresh training to keep the delegates up to speed and busy throughout the day. Of course the new Apple iPhone was a big talking point and was up for grabs to delegates remaining ‘til the end of the day for the big lucky draw.

Here are a few of the highlights:
There is an overall new look and feel across the entire Creative Suite including Bread Crumbs to indicate the finder path you are on. Spring loaded panels provide a more fluid environment for drag and drop design action. The new Application Bar allows you to arrange your document and have easy access to workspaces. The Frame concept, initially from the Flash environment, uses tabs to open documents into a neat frame for ease of use. The wide CS4 online community offers you universal searches and information across all the applications.

Within Bridge:
There are new view options for essentials, meta data and filmstrips which now live on the top strip which includes a meta data search.

Within Illustrator:
Illustrator now has multiple art-boards (pages). It is possible to move an art-board on top of another. Bleed settings. You can also choose a 'like freehand' interface. The appearance panel is where you now access and edit your properties like original and additional strokes and fills, transparency and effects. Check out the new Bob brush with tablet sensitivity for easy colouring. The clipping mask feature allows you to ‘clip a clip’. A Separations Preview panel for repro checking. In context editing allows you to change a typeface from within the text as well as other object attributes like stroke colour and size as well as opacity. Smart guides got smarter to assist object alignment. The gradient tool is more user friendly and includes elliptical gradients which you edit ‘on target’ and ‘on the fly’ and the ability to now add transparency at gradient stops. Destructive Filters are gone and Non-destructive effects are in. There is a stronger integration with Flash and exporting to mobile devices.

Within InDesign:
InDesign is now referred to as a Publishing application and no longer a Layout application, with cross-media integration. There are new view options including tabs to navigate between open documents. Rotate your page view for easier design and typesetting - a beauty! Live preflight checks your documents on the fly according to your specifications and will take you to the problem. The links panel is improved with full info on the selected link. Placing images will resize, position, space, align and rotate to maintain consistency within a group of images. Check out the interactive features to make dynamic pdf presentations with hyperlinks, buttons and page transitions. There is easier publishing for web via .swf format and the much anticipated zipped file forma for Flash CS4 Professional, namely .xfl.

Within Photoshop:
Photoshop now takes command of your Graphics Processing Unit giving you move vooma and acceleration than what your CPU will offer.
The Adjustment panel for non-destructive editing has been introduced, allowing novice users a central area to apply non-destructive professional effects without necessarily understanding the mechanics of Photoshop. In-picture editing allows you to edit directly onto the image. There is a new Vibrance adjustment and a Mask panel.
Seam carving is the new buzz word. Content aware scaling is the WOW feature allowing you to resize an image without distorting the main objects or content, basically its pixel science!
The Zoom tool, taking advantage of the GPU, lets you enlarge and reduce your image with pure ease of use. The Rotate tool allows you to twist and turn your Canvas for easier editing for preview. Facial tones are protected using the enhanced Dodge and Burn tool. There are Frame sets for working with multiple documents and a pixel grid to see pixels in dark or light areas.
3D has been enhanced working similar to a Smart Object on a layer. You can merge down a graphic directly onto the Polygon of an Embedded 3D object.
Photo-merge and Panoramas have an auto blend feature giving seamless blends between image pieces. There is a stack feature to handle merging between similar framed images around focal point and colour.
The type layer allows you to 3D rotate text as a Postcard, give it an effect and then animate the text with Keyframes.

Other applications included Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Flash on the Interactive front and Premier Pro and On Location for the video arena. All these applications commanded applause from a very impressed audience. There seems to be a conscious move away from a coders environment more toward the designer as user. There is a noticeable and strong move toward the designing for Mobile Devices and the working with Device Central.

All in all it was a fantastic day to get updated, interact and network with fellow industry friends. But at the end of the day I never won the iPhone in the lucky draw, so I left as the spinning colour wheel of death.

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