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Adobe Production Studio Overview - Part 2

By Robert Alstead - Posted on 17 March 2006

One of the biggest design challenges with any software, but particularly complex programs like video editing and special effects software, is how to make everything intuitive and easily accessible without creating on-screen clutter. One welcome improvement, which deals with this problem excellently, is the introduction across all the editing programs of a more elastic workspace: as you expand and contract individual windows all the various workspace elements automatically resize around it. All four video and audio editing programs - Premiere Pro 2.0, Audition 2.0, Encore DVD 2.0 and After Effects 7.0 - have had the make-over so that there is more consistency across each application in the way that they look and feel.

It's quite normal while you are editing to have seven or eight windows open at the same time, using up every pixel of available workspace. In the past, if you wanted to expand a window, like enlarge your monitor view in Premiere Pro so you could see your footage in a bigger window, then you'd end up dragging it over some other windows, like the Timeline. The new workspace deals with this much more gracefully, expanding and contracting in unison as you drag a panel by its edges to enlarge it. You being to realise just how tiresome the old way was.

Premiere Pro 2.0 and After Effects 7.0 also build nicely on the now familiar tabbed layout, with better handling of dockable panels and columns. It's now easier to create a variety of custom workspaces, grouping panels by drag and drop. You can move panels outside of the program window itself say, for example, you wanted to drop a panel onto a second monitor.

When arranging your panels in Adobe Production Studio's video and audio editing programs, "drop zones" light up showing where you can move your panel to.

Each program also comes "out of the box" with a selection of typical workspace setups (accessible, by default, through a drop-down menu in the top right corner), so you can always be one click away from a totally different workspace arrangement if you need to switch jobs - for example, from designing your DVD navigation to laying out your menus in Encore, or from animating text to adding special effects if you are in After Effects.

There's more consistency in the look and feel of all the programs, particularly noticeable in the audio editor, Audition, which is gradually taking more of an Adobe mould in its second iteration since the title was acquired by the company.

Small touches like a yellow border around your active window, a slider for changing the interface colour from light grey to charcoal, a generally less "boxy" look, bevelled overlays that flash up on "drop zones" when you are rearranging panels in a new workspace layout, and a hot key for toggling an active window between full-screen and normal view, all contribute to the comforting sense that you are working in a more dynamic and flexible workspace.

That last hot key feature, which works by simply hovering the mouse over a panel in After Effects and Audition (or clicking a panel in Audition) and then pressing the tilda (~) key, is a big time-saver, particularly in After Effects where some of the numeric settings can get long and involved - you need all the screen space you can get. Unfortunately, this full screen zoom feature doesn't appear supported in Adobe Premiere 2.0 - a reflection of the fact that there's still room for further integration between the various apps.

One other quibble - I miss the minimise/maximise button on panels (the minus sign in the top right hand of panels), which seemed somehow more convenient then dragging the edges of a window to resize it. I wouldn't be surprised if this appears integrated into the stretchy workspace in future editions.

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