Whoever came up with the concept for "Adobe Creative Suite 6 Production Premium Classroom in a Book" has surely tapped into a much needed void in the marketplace.
Manufacturers of pro-level dSLR (digital single lens reflex) cameras: Canon, Nikon, and Sony keep upping their game with movie features which make these cameras the new darlings of Hollywood's finest feature filmmakers. Needless to say, those users know everything there is to know about post production. The vacuum our subscribers, who are new to making movies with their dSLRs talk about is not shooting the footage, it's the learning curve of post production.
Adobe's Creative Suite 6 hands a truckload of some of the finest postproduction tools to these users:
- After Effects (AE),
- Audition (Au),
- Encore (En),
- Media Encoder (AME),
- Prelude (Pl),
- Premiere Pro (Pr),
- SpeedGrade (Sg), and
- Story (St).
Adobe collectively refers to these 8 apps as DVA (digital video audio).
Have you ever tried to learn just one of Adobe's powerhouse apps such as Dreamweaver, Flash Pro, Illustrator, InDesign, or Photoshop? They're no small mountain to climb, huh?
The Classroom in a Book (CIB) series already has volumes on After Effects, Audition, and Premiere Pro, so why does someone wading into postproduction need an all encompassing one? Have you ever tried reading those three volumes, cover to cover? First, it's no small set of tasks, Two, they aim higher than someone wanting to get their feet and ankles deep into all the DVA apps.
In fact, we'd take it further. We would go as far as to say that if you're all new to DVA apps and you're planning to become really great at Pr, we suggest you start with the Production Premium book. It is one of the (if not THE) best resources for doing a one stop shopping tour of all things digital post production.
The first lesson assumes that you know nothing about postproduction to the point that it explains the term as well as preproduction and production. It does a great job of making sure the reader understands the general workflow.
The second lesson is a nice overview on getting a project organized through Bridge, Story, and Prelude. Bridge is mostly associated with Photoshop but it's a comprehensive app to access just about anything within the Adobe Master Collection's file formats and beyond. Story is a little-known app for scripting. Prelude is new to CS6 and allows the non-craft editor to rough cut footage.
As Apple's FInal Cut Pro (FCP) X began to fade to black as the hero of Hollywood's most acclaimed editors and Premiere Pro CS6 began to steal the spotlight, Adobe began to ratchet-up Pr's features as Apple wound down FCP's. The end-result might intimidate Pr newbies. Most Pr books and videos ask the reader to reach higher, as if their lessons intend to lead the reader to a career path with the pros. This book's third chapter commendably assumes the opposite. It achieves its goal of just getting you comfortable with the basic direction of Pr without ever sounding like its talking down to the reader.
Asking the student to rise one step higher, the fourth chapter tells the reader to start diving a little deeper into Pr and begin to integrate some more AE into the mix, as well. At the same time, titling is introduced, that means of integrating text into video.
Of course, all of this is leading somewhere important, the need for After Effects in the total mix. AE is the tool of choice for all sorts of fabulous motion graphics and cool visual effects. Once you get the hang of AE you'll begin to wonder if the big news programs would be no more than talking heads in front of a white wall without it. AE can intimidate even the best of them. It's not difficult to use. It's just that it was a portable toolbox, many years ago, which has become a huge walk-in closet. Again, the fifth chapter eases the reader into this by relating back to what has already been learned in Pr and expanding the role of AE into it. A little Photoshop (Ps) is tossed into the blender, as well.
To us, what makes a CIB stand a head and shoulders above the competition is some of the cool and inspiring sample assets the lessons provide. That comes to the forefront layer in chapter six when the reader learns to utilize some impressive Ai (Illustrator) and Ps art and integrate it into AE and Pr. This sixth chapter is the one where the readers begin to feel empowered by the skills they are acquiring in this book. We cannot go beyond this point without applauding the authors, Bob Donlon, Adam Shaening-Pokrasso, and Sam Young, plus the contributors, Joe McGuire, John L Dretzka, Winston Merchan. We're impressed.
The seventh chapter has no choice in the reader's development but to get into the audio side of the equation. CS5.5 introduced Audition as a sorely needed replacement for Soundbooth. But since CS5.5 was a very quiet release, the volume on Audition didn't pick-up until CS6. The chapter gets the reader started with the nibble but less commanding audio features of Pr. For us, Pr is the launch pad for Au. However, once you have launched yourself over there you're either a tourist in a very scary foreign land or you're ready to quit your day job to go do sound for rock bands. In either case, this chapter's lessons crank the intimidation level down to a whisper.
Pr has always had some great tools for finishing color to footage on a plain similar to what Ps does to still images. While CS6 apps were still in development, Adobe acquired SpeedGrade, a powerful tool used on some of the finest feature films of the past 10 years. The eighth chapter takes the reader through finishing in AE, Pr, and Sg. This brings the reader up to the workflow of exporting the project to the finished output file. This can be done in AE, Pr, or AME. Most opt for the latter. Doing it in Pr prevents other projects from being done. The downside is that AME comes with the baggage of some heavy technical jargon. This CIB artfully tiptoes the reader through it.
For some postproduction work, the exporting is the end of the road. To author for DVD, Blu-ray, or even bring those attributes to the web, Adobe Encore offers some very creative opportunities. Anyone who has watched a DVD knows that there are cool (and sometimes not so cool) menus to navigate through. That's what Encore is all about. That tool has a few technical minefields to navigate, as well, but this CIB brings everyone out alive. Before closing, this big adventure would not be complete without addressing how much of high-end video is delivered by Flash. The authors bring it all home having only missed the Master Collection's Acrobat, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, and InDesign, none of which are included in the Production Premium suite.
What can we say? This is a clear 5 stars.