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    Adobe’s new creative suite lets users rewrite history

    by  Alan Zisman (c) 2010 First published in Business in Vancouver August 17-23 2010 issue #1086; reposted on

    High Tech Office column

    In the late 1920s, Joseph Stalin’s arch-rival Leon Trotsky disappeared from Russian historical photos. Rewriting history would have been much easier with the newest version of Adobe Photoshop, part of the company’s Creative Suite 5 software package.
    Software has made it commonplace to place people or objects from a photo onto new backgrounds. Photoshop CS5, though, does the opposite. Its new Content-Aware Fill makes it easy to select something in a photo, delete it and automatically fill in the resulting gap.

    As Soviet-era historical photos demonstrate, this isn’t new. What’s new is how easy it can be to do well. The new Photoshop can remove lens flare, weeds from (photos of) your lawn, traffic from a street scene and more, replacing what you don’t want with a simulation of the surrounding background.

    A new mixer brush lets your mouse or tablet mix multiple colours to the desired degree of wetness. In the higher-priced extended edition, new 3-D tools expand what was offered in the previous version. A shadow-catcher feature simplifies adding shadows to 3-D images.

    Adobe has also added a host of refinements to existing tools. For example, edge selection is improved, and there’s RAW image support for a growing range of camera models.

    Though Photoshop is perhaps CS5’s best-known component, the full Creative Suite 5 packs in a range of other components for artists and designers working in print or online. Each of the various CS5 editions includes a different mix from 14 programs, four new online services and a new interactive web-design product – Adobe claims a total of 250 new features throughout the suite.

    One of these features got Adobe into a skirmish with Apple. A packager tool allows developers to create apps for multiple smartphone models. Apple modified its developer licence agreement to ban such apps from its App Store – along with those developed by other cross-platform tools – claiming apps made by these tools aren’t fine-tuned for the iPhone’s unique features.
    Among the CS5 versions are packages aimed at print designers, web designers and video editors, along with a master collection that bundles the complete Adobe tool kit.

    Among the 250 new features: Adobe’s InDesign page- design program now adds multimedia and online features, letting page designers add interaction, animation, music and more to their pages without needing to write programming code.
    It also improves support for the ebook-standard ePub format, making it attractive for designers looking to repurpose print publications for digital publication as ebooks, emagazines and online. Big improvements to user interface and aspects like text flow and captioning make the new version easier to learn and use.

    The CS5 version of Adobe’s Illustrator drawing program adds a perspective grid tool, and a bristle brush tool to mimic a physical paintbrush, while making it possible to move drawings in and out of the suite’s new flash catalyst program to add interactive features. The new flash catalyst program hopes to bring flash’s formerly programmer-only interactive capabilities to designers.

    Premiere Pro CS5 video editor promises improved performance, particularly working with large, effect-heavy projects on mid-range hardware like laptops. The new version also plays nicer with other manufacturers’ programs such as Apple’s Final Cut Pro.

    Adobe is putting increased emphasis on its web services, offering various services free to CS5 users.
    Adobe’s CS5 suite lets users alter history and makes it easier than ever to produce content that’s ready for traditional and digital production.

    Be prepared to pay, however – Photoshop CS5 and the other suite components sell on their own in the US$699 to $999 range (upgrades: $199 to $349); various versions of the CS5 suite run between $1,299 to $2,599 (upgrades: $499 to $899). Despite the cost, print, graphics, web and multimedia designers are going to want to upgrade to it. Favicon

Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. Follow azisman on Twitter to receive regular notifications of these columns.  E-mail Alan
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