Monday, November 3, 2014

Adobe Creative Cloud 2014: Keeping up to date without breaking your bank

This is part of my on-going review series for Adobe Creative Cloud 2014, of which I was given a complimentary one-year subscription.

When Adobe CC was first announced last year, many weren't sure where to place their opinions. A good many (such as I, initially) made calculations to see the difference between Creative Suite and Creative Cloud, and quite quickly realised that you the S$792 you will fork out over a year for a complete Adobe CC subscription will never compare to the thousands of dollars you would have to spend on any previous CS Master Collection. And perhaps why that wasn't so immediately apparent was because, and I'm sure many of my readers would already know this in... more than one way, Adobe products are amongst the most pirated software in the world. Adobe hopes to mitigate that with the availability of Creative Cloud.

I won't claim that Creative Cloud can or will shut piracy down. Neither does Adobe, and quite prudently so. That would have been disappointingly naive. Instead, much like music and Spotify, or videos and YouTube, it feels like Adobe is looking to make their very desirable offerings more affordable through technologies that weren't available before, with value adds to the greater ecosystem that will complete the user experience. In doing so, they hope, as do I, that more users will appreciate the benefits of paying a reasonable monthly price to have access to the latest updates and features. There will I'm sure be those who have built enough of a personal ecosystem around their Creative Suite apps that they will feel no impetus at all to move to the Creative Cloud, just because they've been doing fine the last 5 years. Obvious legalities aside, it's hard to blame them, given Adobe's pre-CC pricing model.

I should qualify at this point, to conclude the pre-amble, that I don't think Adobe's previous prices were unreasonable. Premium, perhaps, but given the almost unfathomable amount of features and possiblities built in to Photoshop, to name just their most popular product, they are qualified to ask that sort of money for it. What it was though, was simply unreachable, and adding to that the fact that most users probably use no more than the most common 5-10% of its capabilities - advanced users perhaps stretching that figure to 50% - it is near impossible to justify paying in excess of a thousand dollars for the program.

One year and lots of aggressive marketing later, the Creative Cloud apps have undergone major refreshes, both inwardly and outwardly, as they move into their second year of service with Creative Cloud 2014. One of the greatest advantages of CC is its update cycle. I've had my subscription for no more than 3 months, and in this time I have already been bugged 3-4 times by the CC manager app to download and install updates. Along with that there is also the rather obvious matter of choice. Anytime you decide you don't require a service anymore, you'll be able to drop it within 30 days of your decision, depending on the plan you selected, keeping sunk costs to a minimum. What's not to like?

As a photographer who also dabbles in abit of video and audio production from time to time, I primarily use Lightroom and Photoshop, along with Premiere Pro and Audition once in awhile. As my main tool, Lightroom can today still be purchased and function on its own as a One-Time License, for which I'm grateful. Subscribing to Lightroom through CC, however, unlocks Lightroom Mobile on the iPad, allowing you to sort your photos and do rudimentary edits (exposure, contrast, color/B&W, etc) on the go. This is great for the mid level professionals who have back to back schedules but don't necessarily have a team yet to hand the processing and editing to, post-shoot. CC subscriptions also allows users to use companion mobile apps like Photoshop Mix and Adobe Sketch with Photoshop CC, or Adobe Premiere Clip with Premiere Pro CC, powerful and accurate tools to help you capture those creative brain farts wherever you are.

At this point I need to shout about Adobe's incredible subscription plan for photographers. Keeping in mind that a single app subscription, ie. an ala carte selection, is S$26/month, the Photographers plan gives you the latest versions of Lightroom, Lightroom Mobile, Photoshop CC and Photoshop Mix - basically the complete set of desktop and mobile tools available from Adobe that a photographer will need to function - for S$13/month. If you haven't already done the math, that is half the price of 1 app for 2 apps and their mobile companions. Even if you find zero use and interest for Lightroom, you would have to be frighteningly stupid not to take up this deal.

CC apps, I have noticed, also boot up faster than its predecessors, probably due to tightened code. This is surely a welcome change for efficiency maniacs (come on, say it loud and proud) or those like me who want to execute an idea snappily, before the inspired processes or creativity slips our minds. Yes, it's a thing. It happens. No, you don't have to be old and forgetful to experience this.

Because Photoshop is to me a secondary tool that I only use for more complicated operations like image stitching, image stacking or HDR blending, I haven't had much opportunity to explore the great new features of Photoshop CC 2014, like automatic searches and downloads of missing fonts from the Typekit library, new blur motion effects and focus masking.

There will be more in-depth articles on that and the other apps I use, so stay tuned to this space!

1 comment:

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