Adobe pushes new animation, virtualization at NAB 2016

The faithful were rewarded with updates to Premiere Pro and After Effects, but Character Animator stole the show.

By Kathleen Maher

Sometimes it can be hard to figure out what a company thinks is important and what is really important to that company’s customers. With Adobe, the challenge is even harder because the company has so much going on, from its core Creative Cloud products to Marketing Cloud and the Document cloud.

New Adobe Character Animator, designed to simplify animation of content from Photoshop and Illustrator. (Source: Adobe)
New Adobe Character Animator, designed to simplify animation of content from Photoshop and Illustrator. (Source: Adobe)

Blessedly, NAB is primarily focused on Premiere Pro and After Effects. Adobe offered pre-briefings for its NAB announcements, and it’s a good thing, because once the conference gets going, it’s hard to maintain a coherent thought. Adobe’s booth at NAB is always crowded, and it doesn’t seem to matter what feature is being highlighted. However, I’m willing to bet that most people went home thinking the new animator Character Animator was the most important announcement for Adobe at NAB 2016. Every time I walked by the booth, some darned cartoon puppet was yapping and waving its arms at me.

One of the most significant advancements Adobe has made is the refinement of Adobe Anywhere. The company had the right idea, but it didn’t really have the implementation that its customers wanted. The company knew it. Soon after announcing Adobe Anywhere in 2013, the company went quiet about it. This year Adobe Anywhere is back. The company showed improvements at IBC, and the implementation this year at NAB was much more graceful. Its use was highlighted through multiple presentations. Demos showed how people could work on the same project and sort through collisions if necessary. Adobe doesn’t talk about it a lot on its website. Adobe Anywhere requires special versions of Adobe video software such as Premiere Pro CC and Prelude CC and Creative Cloud Enterprise. Adobe’s system is built around on-premises servers and Mercury Streaming Engines. It is now available as a multi-location streaming solution or a single-location collaboration-only version.

Oddly, even though Adobe Anywhere appeared in demo after demo, the technology does not appear in Adobe’s NAB press information. The company still seems to be working on its approach to virtualization.

Adobe has an army of loyal customers who are small businesses and freelancers, and they were primarily interested in the company’s announcements for the Creative Cloud video tools. The company’s updates for video post processing are coming in early summer.

New features for the video post production line include the ability to edit during ingest, allowing people to get to work on video and audio files while content is being imported in the background. Adobe is stepping up to support the ever-increasing resolutions; 4K is now a given, but they’re stretching to 8K. They’re improving the ability of working with proxies. For instance, when big stuff is coming in, you can generate proxies on ingest and automatically associate them with the full-scale versions, which makes life easier on light clients.

One of the advances where Adobe is keeping up with its competitors in finishing is in the work it continues to do in color grading and improving integration with Lumetri. At NAB 2016, Adobe highlighted HSL Secondaries that enable users to narrow down a selection to a precise color using HSL. The company also adds SpeedLooks to enable more instant color grading choices. The company has added support for professional control surfaces for colorists from Tangent Elements, Wave, and Ripple. Probably most important, Adobe has improved the Lumetri scopes to support Rec2020 color space for UHD workflows.

Oh yeah, did we forget to mention virtual reality? Why yes, Adobe has tools to help people working VR, though product manager Al Mooney was a teensy bit embarrassed about it. They’ve enabled the ability to see VR content within a sphere or flattened. They don’t yet support through-the-glasses view, but Adobe’s VR support offers a stereo anaglyph view so you can break out those red and blue glasses you’ve got in the back of the drawer.

We’re pretty sure more is to come on this front. The leader at the moment is definitely The Foundry.