Realize your creative vision with Adobe Creative Suite 6 Master Collection software, the ultimate design environment. Use industry-leading tools to deliver for print, web, and video - from mobile displays to the silver screen. With blazing-fast performance and tight precision, you can make swift work of your most complex projects. The complete, professional toolset is yours for one great price.
• Photoshop CS6 Extended
• Illustrator CS6
• InDesign CS6
• Acrobat X Pro
• Flash Professional CS6
• Flash Builder 4.6 Premium Edition
• Dreamweaver CS6
• Fireworks CS6
• Adobe Premiere Pro CS6
• After Effects CS6
• Adobe Audition CS6
• SpeedGrade CS6
• Adobe Prelude CS6
• Encore CS6
• Bridge CS6
• Story CS6
• Media Encoder CS6
Adobe CS6 Master Collection - What's NEW?
Quite a lot has been updated, from minor efficiency tweaks to major re-writes. This review covers my overall impression, then my top pick of new features for each of the main programs.
Standout themes for improvement across the collection are increased performance, better production support for output to mobile devices, and better support altogether for output to multiple destinations. But is there a case for moving from CS 5.5 to CS6... as always, it depends what you need achieve.
For power and performance: the Mercury Engine and increased native 64-bit support together make significant argument for upgrading if you have the tasks and computer configuration to take advantage.
For ease of use: there's a number of usability improvements across the collection, making tasks easier and allowing faster workflow. Also, integration between programs, which was already very good in a lot of areas, is a little bit better again.
Another question this time round, assuming you are 'go' on upgrading... is whether to upgrade to the 'boxed product' or to the Creative Cloud. For me, the jury is still out on this one, but it could make good business sense and is worth looking into.
CS6 First impressions overall
By default, the programs open with a darker UI than before (except the web applications and InDesign, which remain lighter). I find the darker interface much easier on the eyes, so definitely approve. However, if you prefer it lighter, you can always go to the program preferences > appearance > brightness and change the level to suit. (Note: the web apps and InDesign have no interface brightness control, so the default is your lot.)
Changes in the line up:
Removed: Contribute, Device central, Flash Catalyst, OnLocation
Added: SpeedGrade, Prelude
What are the new programs for?
SpeedGrade is for crafting the look and feel of your project using layer-based colour grading. Note: it uses the 'Lumetri Deep Color Engine' which is GPU-accelerated and needs a dedicated GPU graphics card with at least 1 GB VRAM.
Prelude is a footage ingesting, logging and organizing tool. You can transcode to a number of different file formats on ingest. You can add searchable markers to clips and even create rough cuts and send them through to premiere for final edit. Comments from others who have used it so far are generally positive, with a few suggestions for improvements.
My pick of top new features
Photoshop - extended
There's a major revamp of the Crop tool and it has some great features. Choosing Non-destructive cropping lets you commit to a crop, apply various filters and effects etc, and then later go back and crop it differently if you want to. You simply go back to the crop tool, click outside the cropped image and the full image re-appears. All those filters and effects you added were applied across the complete image, so you can just re-crop without having to re-do all your manipulations. Conveniently, you can now quickly save specific crop dimensions as a preset, nice! I like the new view options for analyzing your composition and framing - naturally this includes the Rule of Thirds, but also the Golden Ratio and more.
The Blur Gallery offers some brilliant new filters. Iris Blur lets you precisely define an area of sharp focus inside a larger 'iris' area. You also define the absolute blur level outside the 'iris' as well as the blur gradient across the iris. Not only that, you can have multiple iris areas in the image. Field Blur lets you create variable blur effects over the whole image by dropping multiple 'pins' on the image and then separately controlling the area blur level of each pin. There is also Tilt Shift, not one I would use a lot myself, but it lets you define a band of clear focus and the blur gradient outward from that band. The band can also be rotated.
Text formatting options get a significant boost. You have control over style from full blocks of text through to individual letters. There's even a new Typography workspace.
Yet more Content-Aware tools have been added, including Content-Aware mode for the Patch tool and Content-Aware Move tool. As with all the content aware tools, they do still require great care to produce very good results.
Photoshop almost seems to be heading towards One-stop-shop - you can work with 3D (now with a simpler interface and easier workflow) dragging shadows around, animating and cartoonizing 3D objects, you can do frame by frame animation and create videos (import AVCHD, MPEG4, and H.264 formats) you can even do a certain amount of sound alignment.
BTW for enhanced performance Photoshop CS6 uses the GPU even more than the previous version, and if you desire yet more performance there's a good section on the Adobe website for optimizing your setup (search terms Photoshop, optimize, performance).
Illustrator has undergone a complete re-write for CS6. It now joins the ranks of applications offering Native 64-bit and Mercury Engine performance. So Illustrator can now use all the RAM you have available for it, providing much faster rendering of effects such as blurs (and by the way Gaussian blur has been enhanced).
There are new pattern creating tools. It's now very easy to make seamless repeating vector patterns. And a long awaited feature by many, finally you can apply gradients on strokes!
If you need to convert a photo or other raster image to vector, the new Image Trace feature is quite impressive. It couldn't be easier to use and provides clean conversion. Clearly, final point counts will depend on image complexity and desired vector quality level - if you want it, you can get vector output looking pretty much like the original image. There is a good level of control over desired output (b&w, number of colours, low or high quality etc).
There is more support for digital publishing. In particular, it is much more convenient to quickly lay out content intended for display at different sizes or orientations. You can significantly reduce workload in such cases by combining the use of Alternate Layouts and Liquid Layouts (a set of liquid page rules), together with Linked Content options.
Alternate Layouts are essentially sections inside the same document, but most usefully when you create an Alternate Layout it conveniently appears alongside your original layout in the Pages panel. When you first create a document, you can select intended output options of print, web or digital publishing. For digital publishing, there are presets for iPad, Kindle Fire, Nook, Android 10" and of course custom. Whatever your choice (including custom), say your original page orientation is horizontal, then when you create an Alternate Layout in the doc, you are automatically offered the vertical orientation of the same page spec. Which is handy if you are indeed creating content intended for alternative horizontal and vertical display options. Of course, you can customize the Alternate Layout to whatever you want. Each new Alternate Layout appears across the Pages panel, so you can quickly jump between them.
By applying Liquid Page Rules (from Liquid Layout) you can, for example, direct the content to scale or to centre on the alternate page size. Keep in mind the liquid page rules are governed by the rules on the applied Master Page, but overrides can be applied to individual pages. So you have a lot of control over what is happening on individual pages. Using Liquid Guides and Liquid Objects, you can even get specific about how particular content will respond to page resizing.
Combined with new Content Linking options (allowing you to link not only images and text, but also text frames) you have a selection of controls allowing you to quickly keep content up-to-date within, and between, documents. At the same time, you can preserve specific aspects of local changes - for example, all edits in 'placed and linked' text (i.e. child text) will be overwritten when the link is updated by any changes in the original text (i.e. Parent text), but notice that child text frames can be changed to a different size or perhaps a different number of columns, and then be set to maintain those changes even if their text content gets updated from the parent.
For EPUB publishing, more features have been included (and a bunch of bug fixes). There is improved support for EPUB 2, also EPUB 3 and (experimental) EPUB 3 with layout. Document splitting can be applied at the level of paragraph styles. Also additional CSS style sheets can be added.
You can now create interactive forms complete with active fields right inside InDesign. However, you will still need to invoke Acrobat to preview actually entering text in the fields (also Acrobat still offers a few tweak options not yet available in InDesign).
Premiere Pro gets another performance boost with enhanced Mercury Engine.
There are better options to de-clutter the interface, and out of the box a cleaner default project interface with large source and program monitors.
Hover Scrub, lets you scrub through clips without needing to go into the source monitor - right there you can start setting up a 'rough cut' if you want to, using JKL shortcuts to set in and out markers in the clips.
Clip trimming has more precise control. 3-way colour correcting is more intuitive and can be fully key-framed.
Adjustment layers have made it into Premiere Pro! If you already use Photoshop or After Effects, this will be a familiar feature. You can apply various effects or colour correction (using Premiere's new fast colour corrector) across multiple clips below the adjustment layer.
Multicam editing is easier and no longer restricted to four cams. You can fix jitter and rolling camera issues directly in Premiere Pro using the same Warp Stabilizer technology as in After Effects.
This is still one of my favourite Adobe applications - powerful, fun, and easy to use. That said, the preview performance always left a bit to be desired. So, the new Global Performance cache is a welcome upgrade. GPU acceleration has also been improved.
With Global Performance cache, already cached frames are re-used. This means previewing after you make a change no longer requires a complete re-render of all the frames - very practical!
The 3D camera tracker could save some time. Moving elements of a scene are analysed and tracked over time, then a camera is automatically generated with a matching motion path. The tracking points are individually selectable, making it relatively quick and easy to position and attach an element (which can also have added effects). That element then follows the motion path maintaining the right perspective and looking like it was always part of the scene. Not only that, you can adjust the settings of the auto-generated camera to match the settings of the camera used for the original footage. Getting the final result you want can be a bit fiddly, but this is quite a nice set up.
Integration with Illustrator has been improved, so you can now modify illustrator vector layers right inside After Effects.
Other appreciated features include variable feather width on mask (speaks for itself), and more control for rolling shutter repair.
This application had virtually a total rewrite to bring its technology up to spec before including it in the CS 5.5 collection, replacing Soundbooth. However, it was a surprise to find Audition 4 had some arguably significant features missing from the previous Audition 3.0.1.
Now in CS6 (Audition 5) some of the 'missing features' have made it back. Notably, clip grouping, metronome, support for hardware control surfaces and more.
OMF import and export is supported. Note that Midi is not supported!
There are some timesaving new features, for example Session Templates. Various session types are offered and they are easy to use. The templates include pre-labelled tracks and even have certain track parameters already set up.
The new 'Skip selection' feature lets you preview an edit before committing to a cut - another time saver.
If you need to swap in studio voice over... don't expect a miracle, but the Automatic Speech Alignment feature is not too bad (final tweaking is likely to be required).
Also, not to be overlooked, a fairly decent media browser has been added.
This is an easy to use tool for authoring DVDs, Blu-rays, and web DVDs (especially if you are already familiar with other Adobe applications).
As you might expect, there is excellent integration between Encore, Premiere Pro, After Effects and Photoshop - you can even send Premiere projects straight to Encore without rendering first (although that's not new to CS6).
What is new to CS6 is that Encore also joins the ranks of native 64-bit applications.
MPEG import is now faster, and pixel aspect ratio correction is offered for preview.
New Fluid Grid layouts help you to readily create adaptive CSS layouts for phone, tablet or computer screen. This enables your web page contents to automatically adjust appropriately for the screen size that the page is being viewed on.
You can now create HTML5 based web pages and include video objects natively (no external video player required). Note that for IE Explorer, users need version 9 or higher to get HTML5 video support. There are also some phones that don't support it.
Increased support is available for jQuery Mobile theming. There are new jQuery Mobile sample pages and a jQuery Mobile swatch panel.
For those who have (or intend to have) a hosted Business Catalyst site, there is direct integration inside Dreamweaver CS6 for setting up and updating a new a Business Catalyst site (or for importing and editing an exiting one).
Improvements focus on mobile and HTML5 development.
The Sprite Sheet Generator lets you create a sprite sheet from a symbol or image that is on the stage (or in the document library). An example of a useful application would be to create a sprite sheet for a symbol instance that contains an animation (designed to be looped), and then dynamically incorporate the sprite sheet into a game.
Another feature useful for games is the ability to export png sequences.
From the 12.0.1 update, Flash supports Adobe Air 3.4 and Flash player 11.4. This offers benefits for iOS application development workflow.
A new mobile content simulator offers emulation of tilt, rotation and gestures, hardware keys, and geo-location.
You can publish with high efficiency SWF compression (apparently up to 40% more efficient) for SWFs targeting Flash Player 11 or later.
Flash Builder 4.6 Premium is built on a newer version of Eclipse than 4.5 allowing for some new functionality.
Right away in Mobile settings you can choose to target one or all three of the following platforms:
• Apple iOS
• Blackberry OS
• Google Android
In the project properties (under Build packaging) for each targeted platform there is a dedicated tab where you can use ActionScript Native Extensions (ANE) for the build.
There's a SplitViewNavigator you might want to try for managing multi-view layout.
Another new feature lets you add a dynamic splash screen based on dpi, minResolution, and aspectRatio to help determine the best image for a given device.
Extra components include Spinner List, Date Spinner and ToggleSwitch.
Fireworks CS6 includes significant panel changes, notably for layers, paths and styles. These offer useful and intuitive options, so this could be considered a usability boost. You're getting more precise controls allowing faster workflow.
There's a new colour palette and altogether a lot more control over the application of colour.
Definitely check out the common library - this now has an impressive collection of graphics for various icons, buttons, gestures, iPhone / iPad / Windows Phone 7 wireframes, and a whole stack more.
Acrobat X Pro
Acrobat X Pro was already included in CS 5.5.
Other applications included in the CS6 Master Collection:
Now has 64-bit support. Allows custom image sizing, also shows linked files in InDesign documents. (As of this writing, some users have noted a bug that prevents bridge starting on user accounts in a domain network - hopefully this will be fixed in an update soon.)
Adobe Media Encoder is both a stand-alone encoding tool and the included encoder for Premiere, After Effects, and Prelude. You can cue files directly into the encoder from Premiere or After Effects, or create watch folders as before. What is new, is a preset browser from which you can simply drag and drop presets into the cue. There are a stack of new presets including a number for Android devices, Apple, TiVo, Vimeo, YouTube and more. Parallel encoding provides more efficient encoding from single to multiple outputs (one to one output will not show any advantage). There is support for Red Epic, Red Scarlet-X, and ARRIRAW.
So, now do you need to do to upgrade to a 64-bit operating system?
To run the following CS6 applications, you MUST have a 64-bit operating system: Premiere Pro, After Effects, Encore, and Speed Grade. But, Photoshop and Illustrator will still run on a 32-bit system even though they are both native 64-bit.
What's the deal with all these specs?
A 32-bit operating system can only make use of up to 4 GB of RAM (some even less). Having a 64-bit system allows for use of all the RAM your particular computer architecture allows. Adobe recommends 8 GB min for 64-bit systems.
But remember, it's not ALL about 64-bit or extra RAM...
Some new CS6 technologies do not work in XP and some require a minimum spec on the graphics card. (BTW if you are not ready to bankroll Quadro & Tesla cards, it's nice to know you can still get some benefit from GPU acceleration using Nvidia GTX cards.) For best performance in CS6 applications, check the full system requirements here: www.adobe.com/products/creativesuite/mastercollection/systemreqs/
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