As Adobe continues to broaden its Creative Cloud offering it’s hard to keep track of all the new applications, let alone all the new features. This week at MAX, updates arrived for just about every piece of Adobe’s creator ecosystem. We’ll take you through some of the most significant for photo and video creators — specifically updates to Premiere Pro and Rush, Photoshop, and Lightroom.
Auto Reframe Comes to Premiere Pro
With the proliferation of different social media video formats and the requirement for specific aspect ratios for web video embeds, re-framing existing videos has become a major time sink for many creatives. So Adobe has harnessed the power of its Sensei AI platform to help them tackle the task, by adding an Auto Reframe Effect to Premiere Pro. You can simply select a clip, or an entire sequence, and Premiere Pro will generate a new version in a different aspect ratio. The auto-generated crop will move to follow what Sensei decides is the subject. You can give it a hint about how quickly it needs to react to motion in the scene. The output sequence or clip is governed by a set of automatically-generated keyframes. So if the output isn’t exactly what you want, you can further refine it. Of course all the Adobe demos of the feature look awesome, so rather than just show you one of those we put the feature through something of a torture test. We used the vertical format Osmo Mobile 3 sample video from our review of the product, and told Auto-reframe to generate a more-traditional 16:9 horizontal format. That’s about as extreme a change as you can ask for, so we weren’t sure what to expect. In some ways, the effect worked really well, but it had a hard time knowing which of the people in the frame were the best to follow, and it also seemed to jump around more than was necessary. But if I needed to do this task, it would definitely be a nice head start over doing it manually. Below are the original video clip and the one generated by Auto Reframe in Premiere Pro:
As one example of a nice time saver, notice that the Reframe is smart enough to move the motion graphics title caption up into the frame and hold it steady. Perhaps not rocket science, but would be an extra step if you were doing the reframing entirely manually. Other improvements to Premiere Pro aren’t quite as dramatic, but they include improved tools for working with shapes and layers. Underlining text is now supported, and there are some improvements to the workflow for Motion Graphics. One special effect that will appeal to some folks is native support for speedups up to 20,000% (200x) without needing to mess around with nesting. Under the hood Adobe has improved its support for modern formats and decoders, including better ProRes HDR performance, as well as HEVC and H.265. You can also now add HDR10 metadata to your exports. As far as hardware, support has been added for the Canon C500, Canon XF-HEVC, and Sony Venice V4. You can also export Apple ProRes in MXF on both macOS and Windows. Premiere Rush now supports TikTok as a native video sharing option. When Adobe first said they had an exciting improvement for Rush, I was really hoping for LUT support. But unfortunately, that’s still off in the future, as is a version that will run on Chromebooks.
Photoshop 2020 Focuses on Performance
Adobe’s big push for Photoshop in 2020 is performance. They even funded a study of benchmarks that concludes that on average it is twice as fast as the 2019 version. Part of that is improvements to the interface and workflow, and part is optimization of the software itself. In particular the Properties panel has been over-hauled with the goal of making more operations easy to access. One exciting piece of news for those who create on the road is the shipment of the first version of the promised Photoshop for iPad. It isn’t at feature parity with the desktop version — no surprise — but looks like it will be a solid option for those who don’t need full functionality and don’t want to haul a full laptop around. Adobe is also showcasing an extension to its AI-powered Subject Selection tool that allows you to select an arbitrary object. You simply drag out a rectangle that surrounds the object you’re interested in, and it will do its best to select the object. From experimenting with a pre-release version, I’m fairly impressed. It is certainly a big head start over using any of the current manual and semi-automated tools. However, as you can see from this example, it isn’t perfect. So if you have a complex subject, you’ll likely need to apply some finishing touches to your selection.
Lightroom gets new features across all platforms, although as has been true for a while the cloud-centric version of Lightroom for desktops gets more updates than the Classic version. It sees new guided tutorials and interactive edits — which have been very popular in the mobile version of the app. Export also offers additional options for resolution, compression, metadata, file naming, output sharpening, and color space. IMAGE AI comes into play here too, with the addition of an option to have both versions of Lightroom and Camera Raw fill in the blank edges caused in some types of panorama merges. There is also an interesting new tool that allows users to migrate catalogs from Photoshop Elements. That makes sense for photographers who started out with the lighter weight Elements tools and are moving up to Creative Cloud. The updated version of Lightroom also takes more advantage of GPUs for improved performance, especially on high-resolution monitors.
Plenty of Features for Everyone Else
For users of Character Animator, After Effects, Audition, and most of the other Creative Cloud applications, there are plenty of other goodies. One feature that can benefit all Creative Cloud users is access to Library assets from Microsoft Word and Powerpoint. An interesting app that Adobe didn’t discuss during its press briefings is a new Photoshop Camera app. It uses AI to analyze the scene as you shoot and make recommendations. It also provides some lens presets for creative effects. It is available as a preview version for Android and iOS now, with general availability expected in 2020.