Tag Archives: release

Adobe Launches eLearning Suite 6, Presenter 8

Adobe has released the newest version of the eLearning Suite of products. eLearning Suite 6 includes Adobe Captivate 6, Adobe Presenter 8 and the CS6 versions of Flash Professional, Dreamweaver, Photoshop Extended and Acrobat X Pro. More details can be found in the press release below.


Adobe Launches eLearning Suite 6, Presenter 8
Industry-Leading Authoring Suite Introduces HTML5-Based mLearning Support, Presenter Compatible with Microsoft® PowerPoint

SAN JOSE, Calif. –July 18, 2012 – Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq:ADBE) today announced the immediate availability of Adobe eLearning Suite 6, the company’s tightly integrated toolbox for rapidly creating professional-grade eLearning and HTML5-based mLearning content. The suite enables eLearning professionals, educators and trainers to create immersive, interactive eLearning courses complete with simulations, product demos, digital imaging, rich animations and audio production. Anchored by Adobe® Captivate 6 and the new Adobe Presenter 8, Adobe eLearning Suite 6 includes several industry-leading titles including Adobe Flash® Professional CS6, Adobe Dreamweaver® CS6, Adobe Photoshop® CS6 Extended, and Adobe Acrobat® X Pro.

“Today’s eLearning professionals, educators and trainers are dealing with a growing mobile population, platform fragmentation and the need to communicate through video.” said Naresh Gupta, senior vice president, Print and Publishing at Adobe. “As a result, efficiency in mobile authoring and delivery, and ease in video creation are among the top considerations when they select an authoring solution. Adobe eLearning Suite 6 delivers on both.”

Adobe eLearning Suite 6 enhances productivity with robust roundtripping workflows between Adobe Captivate and Adobe Audition® CS6, Adobe Flash Professional CS6, Adobe Photoshop Extended CS6 and Acrobat X Pro. For example, users can open Adobe Captivate files in Adobe Audition CS6 to quickly adjust speech pitch and alignment or Adobe Photoshop Extended CS6 to retouch images and create 3D graphics. Prebuilt native extensions with Adobe Flash Professional CS6 enable users to generate sprite sheets and more. With Acrobat X Pro users can embed Adobe Captivate movies into PDF documents and PDF portfolios, bringing text-based learning materials to life, and make the finished project accessible via Adobe Reader®.

Adobe Presenter 8

The new Adobe Presenter 8 empowers business professionals, trainers and educators to create video presentations right from the desktop, without the need for specialized equipment or training. With Adobe Presenter 8, users can streamline projects and lower costs of producing and editing videos with a single desktop solution. In addition, they are able to simultaneously capture slide presentations, webcam video and audio and dynamically mix components without a separate video editor. The intuitive interface makes it easy to edit and trim video, pan and zoom, adjust brightness and sharpness levels and enhance audio quality by reducing background noise. A host of video add-ons, including the ability to highlight select portions of a screen, insert annotations and apply text overlays, makes it easy to polish a presentation while the “Adobe Presenter to YouTube” feature allows users to publish a completed project with one click.

Adobe Captivate 6

Adobe Captivate 6 enhancements improve mobile access and boost learner engagement while ensuring effortless publishing to leading SCORM- and AICC-compliant Learning Management Systems (LMSs) such as Moodle, Blackboard, Plateau, Saba and SumTotal. It introduces the ability to publish content as both SWF and HTML5, enabling learners to begin a course on their desktop, pause and later resume on a mobile device, including iOS and Android™ based tablets and smartphones. Users can also quickly create and edit HD-quality demos within the new “capture-as-a-video” workflow, insert videos in a picture-in-picture format and publish projects to YouTube – all within the same UI. A full library of out-of-the-box assets, improved Microsoft PowerPoint integration and enhanced quizzing capabilities complete the top new features in Adobe Captivate 6. For more information, refer to the Adobe Captivate 6 announcement and product page.

Pricing and Availability

Adobe eLearning Suite 6 is immediately available through Adobe authorized resellers and the Adobe Store for an estimated street price of US$1,799. Users of eLearning Suite 2 and 2.5 can upgrade at a discounted price of US$599. Upgrade pricing from Adobe Captivate 5.5, 5 or 4 to Adobe eLearning Suite 6 is US$1,199. Qualified education users can purchase eLearning Suite 6 for US$599. For a complimentary trial, visit www.adobe.com/go/try.

Adobe Presenter 8 is also immediately available as a standalone product for an estimated street price of US$499, with US$299 US$199 education and upgrade pricing from Adobe Presenter 7. For a free trial, visit www.adobe.com/go/try.

About Adobe Systems Incorporated

Adobe is changing the world through digital experiences. For more information, visit www.adobe.com.

MotionArtist Announced, Beta Release for Producing Interactive Graphic Novels

Last week, Smith Micro announced the release of MotionArtist, an application designed for creating interative graphic novels and comic books for online, mobile and tablet readers. MotionArtist is available now as a beta release, and in about a year it will retail for approximately $50. The press release is below.


PRESS RELEASE

Introducing the Easiest Way to Create Digital Comics and Interactive Graphic Novels – MotionArtist by Smith Micro

  • For graphic novelists, comic creators, or anyone wishing to create animated presentations and photo shows
  • Offers truly simple animation, panel creation tools and HTML5 export
  • Download free Beta version at motionartist.smithmicro.com

SAN DIEGO, CA – July 11, 2012 – Smith Micro Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: SMSI) Productivity and Graphics Group today announced the beta release of MotionArtist®, a new version that bridges the gap between comic creators and their readers. With the MotionArtist version users can add motion to their comics, create interactive HTML5 presentations as well as uniquely styled photo-shows. International Comic-Con 2012 attendees will be the first to see MotionArtist’s new approach to layout, animation and adding interactivity at Smith Micro’s booth #5353.

MotionArtist is a composition and presentation application unlike anything that exists in the world of digital comic creation,” said Steve Yatson, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Smith Micro Software, Inc. “It’s a simple solution to a very complicated set of problems that introduces a new approach to animation. We provide the platform – from there, professional artists or everyday users can really let their creativity run wild.”

The MotionArtist version combines cutting-edge tools with a truly simple user experience, creating a highly versatile solution that appeals to a wide range of users, from hardcore comic creators to anyone who loves to share their favorite photos, including:

  • Graphic novelists – Create amazing interactive animated comics and presentations with state-of-the-art technology, such as GPU acceleration for a lightning fast work environment and 3D layering for that cool parallax effect
  • Traditional comic creators – Artists of any skill-level can quickly convert their work into digital comics with panel creation, layout tools and the ability to add motion
  • Web developers – Export projects to HTML5 and deploy on your favorite website or save as standard movie formats and share your comics and presentations directly to Facebook or YouTube
  • Photographers – Create fun, animated “photo shows” by dropping in a folder of images; MotionArtist will automatically place the images on the stage and animate the camera

Poser capture in MotionArtist

MotionArtist is an awesome animation and interactivity product that was clearly conceived with comic creators in mind,” said Brian Haberlin, co-artist and co-writer of the multi-media sci-fi adventure saga Anomaly. “With MotionArtist you can create panel-based comics, add animation and export in common file formats without being locked into a specific format or being required to use a particular service. You can even export as a common video format or, more importantly, HTML5.”

Key MotionArtist version Features:

  • HTML5 export – Save out as HTML5 with interactive navigation or export as standard video files and share on YouTube and Facebook.
  • Comic style panel creation – Create panels of just about any shape. Go back and resize, duplicate, rotate, align and cut at any time.
  • Word balloons & dynamic text – Vector based balloons, thought bubbles, dialogue boxes and text can easily be added and edited at any time
  • Arrange in 3D – add layered 3D depth to your panels and presentations for that cool parallax effect
  • Motion – A new approach to animation for non-animators. We’ve hidden the technical stuff and brought the animation process forward in an intuitive visual manner
  • Photo shows – Simple creation of photo presentations through automated object placement and camera movement
  • Working modes and views – Creation and animation workflow is laid out with comic creators in mind

Pricing and Availability:

Download MotionArtist for free during its beta availability direct from the Smith Micro online store at: motionartist.smithmicro.com.

Comic composition in MotionArtist

About Smith Micro Software, Inc. – Productivity and Graphics Group:

Based in Santa Cruz, Calif., the Smith Micro Software Productivity and Graphics Group produces award-winning software that inspires consumer creativity and enables efficiency. The group’s creative suite of programs provides artists of all skill levels – from novice to professional – with the tools to illustrate, animate and create 2D and 3D art. Some of the Productivity and Graphics Group’s award-winning creative and utilities products include Poser, Anime Studio, Manga Studio and StuffIt. For more information, please visit: www.smithmicro.com.

Safe Harbor Statement:

This release contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, including without limitation, forward-looking statements relating to the company’s financial prospects and other projections of its performance, the existence of new market opportunities and interest in the company’s products and solutions, and the company’s ability to increase its revenue and regain profitability by capitalizing on these new market opportunities and interest and introducing new products and solutions. Among the important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements are changes in demand for the company’s products from its customers and their end-users, new and changing technologies, customer acceptance and timing of deployment of those technologies, new and continuing adverse economic conditions, and the company’s ability to compete effectively with other software companies. These and other factors discussed in the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its filings on Forms 10-K and 10-Q, could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in any forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements contained in this release are made on the basis of the views and assumptions of management regarding future events and business performance as of the date of this release, and the company does not undertake any obligation to update these statements to reflect events or circumstances occurring after the date of this release.

Smith Micro, the Smith Micro logo and MotionArtist are trademarks or registered trademarks of Smith Micro Software, Inc. All other trademarks and product names are the property of their respective companies.

Adobe Unveils Captivate 6 with HTML5 Support

Last week, Adobe announced the release of Adobe Captivate 6, which is their application for building electronic learning projects like quizzes, tests and teaching tools. HTML5 programming, HD video capture and some PowerPoint and quiz enhancements are added in the new version.


Captivate 6 box

PRESS RELEASE

SAN JOSE, Calif. — June, 15 2012 — Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq:ADBE) today announced the immediate availability of Adobe® Captivate® 6, a significant upgrade to its industry-leading eLearning authoring software for rapidly creating a wide range of interactive eLearning and HTML5-based mobile Learning content. Designed with today’s mobile learners in mind, Captivate 6 enables eLearning developers, corporate trainers, educators and other business users to help deliver dynamic, SCORM- and AICC-compliant course content that is accessible anytime, anywhere.

“Today, learners expect engaging eLearning options on their iOS and Android devices – static presentations shrunk to fit mobile screens aren’t enough,” said Naresh Gupta, senior vice president, Print and Publishing, Adobe. “Captivate 6 gives subject matter experts and content creators the ability to deliver eLearning content to mobile devices that is as robust and interactive as the content delivered to desktops.”

Captivate 6 enhancements improve mobile access and boost learner’s engagement – top features include:

  • HTML5 Publishing with Pause and Resume Capabilities: Publish interactive HTML5 eLearning content that is accessible from both iOS and Android devices and leverage mobile presets to help ensure seamless mobile distribution. By publishing eLearning content as both SWF and HTML5, learners can begin a course on their desktop, pause and later resume on a different device.
  • HD Screencast: Quickly create HD-quality demos within the new “capture-as-a-video” workflow. Edit video and add transitions, smart shapes, audio and captions. Insert another video in a picture-in-picture format and publish it to YouTube – all within the same UI.
  • Attractive Out-of-the-Box Assets: Select from a wide range of preloaded actors and set them against customizable backdrops to give content a more personal touch. Include additional interactivity by inserting smart learning interactions, such as widgets, animated rollovers and more, with just a few clicks.
  • Enhanced PowerPoint Roundtripping: Import PowerPoint 2010 slides along with objects, animations and multimedia into eLearning projects with better fidelity conversation workflow. Easily update pre-existing PowerPoint content, which will be automatically synced via the dynamically linked import feature.
  • Enhanced Quizzing: Utilize pre-tests to assess the knowledge, skill level or training needs of individual learners. Based on results, direct learners to the appropriate section and use post-tests to gauge what resonates. Allow learners to revisit a relevant section after answering a quiz question incorrectly and, if necessary, discourage guesswork by penalizing for wrong answers.

With Captivate 6, trainers and educators can individualize eLearning modules by recording voiceovers and other sounds that automatically play back when a learner clicks on a specified object. Course designers can also ensure that eLearning content maintains a consistent look and feel using customizable, professionally designed themes. Improved LMS integration helps eLearning developers effortlessly publish content to leading learning management systems, including Moodle, Blackboard, Plateau, Saba and SumTotal.

Quotes

Dustin Tauer, vice president, Training and Development, Easel Solutions

“Many of our customers want to access eLearning content on mobile devices but getting content there has been a challenge. Now, HTML5 publishing with Captivate 6 makes it easy to extend eLearning to mobile devices without forcing the author to learn new programming code.”

Eric Fields, senior eLearning consultant, Learning and Development, Coventry Health Care Workers’ Comp Services

“Adobe Captivate 6 HD screencasting provides a seamless workflow for all my video capture and editing needs. I no longer need additional software, which means no more incompatibility breakdowns and procurement delays working with multiple software packages.”

Damien Bruyndonckx, multimedia assistant, IHECS, Haute Ecole Gallilee

“Advanced interactions and the new collection of characters in Adobe Captivate 6 streamline how I develop interactive, fun, and engaging content that humanizes eLearning, and energizes learners to improve their scores.”

Helpful Links

Pricing and Availability

Adobe Captivate 6 is immediately available through Adobe authorized resellers and the Adobe Store for an estimated street price of US$899. Captivate 5.5 and Captivate 4 users can upgrade at a discounted price of US$359 and US$539, respectively. Qualified education users can purchase Captivate 6 for US$299. For a free trial, visit www.adobe.com/go/trycaptivate.

About Adobe Systems Incorporated

Adobe is changing the world through digital experiences. For more information, visit www.adobe.com.

Adobe Announces Acrobat X

acrobatx_boxes

Yesterday Adobe announced Acrobat X, pronounced “X” but corresponding to version 10 of the flagship produce for PDF creation and handling. I’ve been working with the Acrobat X Pro beta for a couple weeks and my first impressions are mostly positive, but my complete responses will be in my upcoming review for CreativePro.com. In the meantime, Adobe’s press release is below for your review.

Press release

Adobe today announced Adobe® Acrobat® X Pro, the next generation of its tool for creating, reviewing, delivering and protecting documents. With Acrobat X Pro, creative professionals can develop polished communications using PDF Portfolios, work together more effectively with easy-to-manage shared document reviews, simplify workflows with integrated online services for storing and sending documents, and ensure designs will print accurately with advanced print production tools.

“With Acrobat X Pro, creative professionals can rest assured their projects will print as intended, which is critical when working under tight client deadlines and with limited budgets,” said Ali Hanyaloglu, product evangelist for Acrobat Solutions at Adobe. “Acrobat X Pro gives everyone involved in the project the necessary tools to create and collaborate so users can quickly obtain client feedback, streamlining the entire design process from concept to approval through final production.”

Top features and improvements:

  • The Action Wizard helps users automate and standardize multi-step tasks for maximum productivity.
  • New customization options for PDF Portfolios enable designers to create and share custom layouts and themes that enable the development of PDF Portfolios with consistent branding and presentation.
  • Users can speed up everyday work by customizing the Quick Tools area for fast access to the tools they use the most.
  • Tight integration with Acrobat.com allows users to share large files online, streamlining collaboration.
  • Improvements made to the Preflight tool enable creative and print professionals to process jobs quickly and accurately.
  • Acrobat X Pro also supports the latest versions of the PDF/X-4 and X-5 standards, enabling users to stay current with industry standards.

All four Creative Suite® editions that currently include Acrobat 9 Pro – Creative Suite 5 Design Standard, Creative Suite 5 Design Premium, Creative Suite 5 Web Premium and Creative Suite 5 Master Collection – will include Acrobat X Pro in a future release. Creative Suite customers who have purchased the upgrade plan, or have a Gold or Platinum support plan, will be notified automatically when the update is available. Please contact me if you have questions on Acrobat X availability for Creative Suite. Customers who previously purchased Acrobat 9, 8 or 7 (either Standard or Pro) and have a serial number can upgrade to Acrobat X Pro.

Pricing and Availability

Acrobat X and its associated products are scheduled to ship within 30 days, with availability through Adobe Authorized Resellers, the Adobe Store and Adobe Direct Sales. Estimated street price for Acrobat X Pro is expected to be US$449 (US$199 upgrade). Free 30-day trials of Acrobat X Pro will be available when the product ships. For more information, visit http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/.

Adobe Lightroom 3 Released

lr3-box

Today Adobe announced the release of Photoshop Lightroom 3. The digital photography management application had been available previously through a public beta, which will expire at the end of June 2010. Tom Fogarty, Lightroom’s Senior Product Manager, reports that 2,000 people participated in the beta’s forums and the application was downloaded 600,000 times during the program.

The difference in noise reduction is really apparent!

There’s two major advancements and several smaller new features in Lightroom 3. One major new feature is Lightroom’s new noise reduction algorithms, which changes the way Lightroom renders digital images as well as introduces three new sliders to the Noise Reduction panel. I tend to shoot with high ISO settings which introduces more noise, so having a better algorithm that reduces noise affects all my photographs.

lr3-noise

The other major addition is lens correction—Lightroom 3 can correct images based on the lens it was shot with, as reported by the image’s metadata. By itself I wouldn’t call this a groundbreaking feature but Adobe’s Lens Profile Creator—currently in the prerelease phase at Adobe Labs—lets you generate profiles of your own lenses. Together, these two applications can make manual lens correction unnecessary and give you better images immediately. Unfortunately I don’t think the Lens Profile Creator will gain much traction until it is integrated with Lightroom, but when it is I think it could take off.

The Watermark Editor dialog box.

Several new features are improvements to the user interface. One is the new Watermark Editor, which does the work previously taken on by third-party plug-ins and the Identity Plate feature in previous versions. The Watermark Editor is a fairly simple interface but does the job well and I like that you have fairly fine text and image controls. However, a few things bother me—you can’t use text and an image at the same time, the inset controls don’t allow standard or metric measurements, and you can’t set a watermark within the Library module to have it applied in the other modules. You must set watermarks in each module separately, which might be ideal for some photographers.

The Lightroom 3 user interface.

The other major user interface improvement—and one that excites me personally—is the totally revised file import dialog box. This is the one interface I use the most in Lightroom and it’s been redesigned to look cleaner and more logical. I like how the two devices—camera and destination disk—have been separated and placed on either side of the dialog box, with various import settings available in the center. The design of the dialog box is also very slick and easy to use. You can even minimize it into Compact View, save presets and create a one-click import process. The minimized interface is also used for the new Tethered Capture feature, which eliminates the need for a third-party application to import photos shot with a tethered camera. This also excites me, though it will take a little time to get more camera models approved for use. Currently, 26 Canon and Nikon cameras have been tested and approved.

There’s several other features in Lightroom 3:

  • The lens correction tools can also be applied manually with a set of perspective correction sliders. This set of sliders is particularly robust and perform well, though Photoshop is still the king when it comes to repairing warped perspectives.
  • Online publishing services have been touted since the Lightroom 3 public beta was released, with Flickr getting the most attention in demos. Basically, Lightroom 3 can access an online photo-sharing account like Flickr and manage images and comments on the fly. Tom Fogarty told me customer research has shown hosted services to be more popular than standalone web galleries, which surprises me—most pro photographers I know have their own website and galleries. I love this new feature but it will depend on the third parties, including Picasa and photo printing websites like Mpix, before it gains wide use. Personally, I would love to manage my Mpix albums from Lightroom. The addition of video export (see below) also makes publishing to websites like YouTube possible in the future.
  • The Vignettes panel has been replaced by an Effects panel with improved Post-Crop Vignetting sliders and also new Grain sliders that recreate the natural grain of film photography.
  • Print layouts are more flexible now, with practically no limit on the layouts you can produce. The Print module behaves more like a page layout tool this way, but that’s fine by me and you can of course save your layouts as presets. The conventional print package presets are still available too.
  • Slideshows can be exported to video and synchronized with music for a great presentation experience. Lightroom 3 also recognized videos in the Library panel, making it possible to manage video shot from still cameras—which seems to be happening more and more.

Lightroom 3 can manage online publishing services such as Flickr.

Lightroom 3 can manage online publishing services such as Flickr.

Videos shown in the Library module.

All these features feel mature and I am quite impressed by Lightroom 3 already. Users of Lightroom 2 should consider the upgrade, especially at the $99 price point (the full version is $299). For me, the File Import and video improvements alone have made digital photo management a more enjoyable experience.

Pantone Turns iPhone into Color Studio on the Go

PRESS RELEASE

CARLSTADT, N.J., Sept. 21, 2009 – Over the last several years there has been a fundamental shift in the way designers work – projects have become more digital, and inspiration more spontaneous. Pantone LLC, an X-Rite company (NASDAQ: XRIT) and the global authority on color and provider of professional color standards for the design industries, today announced myPANTONE™, an iPhone™ application for the changing needs of today’s designer. myPANTONE gives graphic, digital, multimedia, fashion, interior and industrial designers the freedom to capture, create and share PANTONE® Color Palettes – wherever they go and whenever they find inspiration.

pantoneiphone

“myPANTONE marries the power of the iPhone with the inspiration of PANTONE Color Palettes, enabling designers to be creative whenever inspiration strikes them. Providing a digital, portable design studio and essential color tools at their fingertips, myPANTONE gives designers the freedom to access PANTONE Colors anywhere, without the need to be in their office or carry around cumbersome guides,” said Andy Hatkoff, vice president of technology licensing for Pantone. “Now with myPANTONE’s Portable Color Memory™ in their pocket, designers no longer need to agonize trying to recall an exact color.”

With myPANTONE, designers have access to all the PANTONE Color Libraries, including the PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM® for coated, uncoated and matte stock; the PANTONE Goe System™ for coated and uncoated stock; PANTONE PASTELS for coated and uncoated stock; and the PANTONE FASHION + HOME SMART Color System. The application also enables designers to easily create harmonious color palettes by finding complementary, analogous and triadic combinations for selected colors.

myPANTONE takes advantage of the iPhone’s built-in camera to let designers capture whatever inspires them – from architecture and street scenes to fashion and nature. Colors can be extracted from any photo on the iPhone and then matched to the closest PANTONE Colors.

Once created, users can share color palettes with other iPhone users and automatically post notification of new palettes to Facebook and Twitter, attaching text notes and voice annotations to palettes when posting. Color palettes can be emailed to colleagues and clients as color patches, or as application-ready swatch files for use in design applications including Adobe® Creative Suite® (.ase), CorelDraw® and QuarkXPress®. Designers can also share their color palettes with other designers by sending them to the Pantone-hosted Web site, www.mypantone.com.

Each color swatch in myPANTONE includes sRGB, HTML and L*a*b* values. Additionally, myPANTONE provides invaluable cross-referencing color capabilities to make it simple for users to find similar colors among the various PANTONE Color Libraries. For example, users can identify the PANTONE Goe Color that most closely matches a given PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM Color.

Pricing, Availability and System Information

myPANTONE is available for download at the Apple iPhone App Store for U.S. $9.99/€7.99/£6.99. myPANTONE is compatible with iPhone OS 3.0 or higher, and can be used on the iPhone or iPod® Touch.

About Pantone

Pantone LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of X-Rite, Incorporated, has been the world’s color authority for 45 years, providing design professionals with products and services for the colorful exploration and expression of creativity. Always a source for color inspiration, Pantone also offers designer-inspired products and services for consumers. More information is available at www.pantone.com.

About X-Rite

X-Rite, Incorporated, is the global leader in color science and technology. The company, which now includes color industry leader Pantone, develops, manufactures, markets and supports innovative color solutions through measurement systems, software, color standards and services. X-Rite’s expertise in inspiring, selecting, measuring, formulating, communicating and matching color helps users get color right the first time and every time, which translates to better quality and reduced costs. X-Rite serves a range of industries, including printing, packaging, photography, graphic design, video, automotive, paints, plastics, textiles, dental and medical. For further information, please visit www.xrite.com.

Welcome, Photoshop Elements 8 and Premiere Elements 8

ele8-boxshots

Today Adobe announces the upcoming release of Photoshop Elements 8 and Premiere Elements 8, available now at www.adobe.com (Windows only—Photoshop Elements 8 for Mac will be available in October 2009). I enjoyed working with the previous version of both applications (you can see my review of Elements 7 here) but version 8 looks like it might be an awesome upgrade. I’m also very happy to report that Mac users no longer need to wait to upgrade Photoshop Elements: Adobe has fast-tracked development of the Mac version and it will now be released almost at the same time as its Windows equivalent!

Adobe’s strategy

I haven’t seen the actual software yet—this article is not a review—but I did see a demo by Adobe’s Bob Gager and Mike Iampietro. I was able to cull some of Adobe’s strategy from their presentation and comments:

  • Adobe’s consumer division, which controls the Elements product line, makes it clear their mission is to empower customers to “tell their stories.” The Elements products are therefore designed for personal media, such as photo collections and home videos.
  • Bob mentioned they are looking with version 8 to strike a balance between ease of use and “headroom,” allowing users to get creative and produce more “wow” moments.
  • Bob also said, “Intelligence enables ease of use.” This is reflected by the integration of some smart technologies we’ve seen in other products in the past year, such as Content-Aware Scaling (Photoshop CS4) and face recognition (iPhoto ’09).
  • Mike, who presented on Premiere Elements 8, said their objective was to “make video editing less work” for consumers. The development team’s focus on “smart” editing tools makes this obvious, and in fact such tools comprise the bulk of the improvements in version 8.

Photoshop Elements 8: Leveraging new technology

It looks like Photoshop Elements 8 is using new technologies to add new features that will make consumers ooh and ha. One is the Auto-Analyzer, which will add Smart Tags to photos upon import so you don’t have to manually tag photos. Another is People Recognition: the Organizer can recognize photos of faces and will ferret out other photos of the same people. It works best when the user can devote a little time telling the Organizer what it gets right and wrong, but after looking at a couple batches the Organizer gets uncannily good at finding people, even in older photos. The other thing I notice in my reviewer’s guide is a new keyword tag cloud feature, which will be appealing to users of services like Flickr, who have had tag clouds for some time. Click here to download a demo of the Elements Organizer (Flash video).

It’s important to note that Mac users will get Bridge CS4 instead of the Organizer. Bridge is a good file management application with some features above and beyond the Organizer, but I’m actually a fan of the latter with its leanness and ease of use, and Mac users don’t get any of the cool new features in the Elements Organizer.

ele8-exposure

There are a few new editing features, most of which look very exciting for consumers:

  • Quick Fix previews have been added to the Quick Edit controls. Clicking on the icon beside each control will bring up a 3×3 matrix showing what the control can do. This addition is based on user testing that showed users were far less likely to use a control if they didn’t know right away what it would do. Photoshop users will recognize it as a variant of the Variations command.
  • Photomerge Exposure (see the image above) lets users combine photos with different exposure levels. This is ideal if you have two photos of the same subject but with different exposures, and you want to use the foreground of one and background of another. It’s similar to HDR but is designed to be more functional and less artistic. Click here to download the demo (Flash video).
  • The Recompose tool (see the image below) is basically Photoshop CS4’s jaw-dropping Content-Aware Scaling, but does have a couple improvements including size presets and brushes to protect or remove objects during scaling. Click here to download the demo (Flash video).

ele8-recompose

I’m really looking forward to reviewing Photoshop Elements 8, and I expect consumers will really get a thrill out of the new features. Professional users have had these tools for awhile now but the consumer market is quite different (though they are converging). It stands to reason that their software would as well.

Premiere Elements 8: Everything’s “Smart”

ele8-smarttags

There are two big news items for Premiere Elements 8: it now uses the same Organizer (now dubbed the “Elements Organizer”, see the image above) as Photoshop Elements 8, and there’s a suite of “Smart” features designed to make video editing easier. Premiere Elements 8 sports all the new Organizer features such as the Auto-Analyzer and People Recognition, and I noticed during the demo that you can apply tags to video at specific points in the clip.

The “Smart” features analyze your clips and apply global adjustments or trims them as needed. It’s unclear whether these are non-destructive edits or not—I will learn more after I look at the software. For now we don’t have a whole lot more than the descriptions of the Smart features:

    ele8-smartfix

  • SmartFix, which will correct light or dark video.
  • ele8-smarttrim

  • SmartTrim, which can automatically detect bad video or segments with no action and suggest what to trim out. This feature can be used to simply improve a video or to trim to a specific duration. Click here to download the demo (Flash video).
  • SmartMix analyzes the sound in a video project and makes sure speech isn’t drowned out by noise or music.

ele8-motiontrack

The last feature that was demoed was motion tracking: Premiere Elements can define and track a moving object in video, and align and move graphics, text or effects with that object. Premiere Elements 8 also comes with a library of artwork, and in the demo a bird from the library was linked to a girl skating across the stage (see the image above. Motion tracking allowed the bird to follow the girl’s motion path. Out of all the new features shown in the demo, motion tracking was the most exciting! Click here to download the demo (Flash video).

And Plus…

In version 7, Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements came with a basic Photoshop.com membership and 2GB of online photo/video storage, upgradeable to Photoshop.com Plus membership. It’s still available but it’s now called Photoshop (or Premiere) Elements 8 Plus. There’s a yearly fee to upgrade to Plus and with it you’ll get:

  • 20GB of storage instead of 2GB
  • Access to seasonal artwork, templates, movie themes, special effects and more, delivered to the applications
  • Tutorials for photo and movie projects

Pricing and Availability

The pricing looks like it will not change from the previous version:

  • Standalone products (Photoshop Elements 8 [Mac or Windows] or Premiere Elements 8 [Windows only])
    • $99.99 full
    • $79.99 with mail-in rebate
    • $139.99 full, includes Plus
    • $119.99 with mail-in rebate, includes Plus
  • Bundled product (Windows only), available only at Adobe.com
    • $149.99 full
    • $119.99 with mail-in rebate
    • $179.99 full, includes Plus
    • $149.99 with mail-in rebate, includes Plus
  • Plus membership alone is $49.99/year.

Photoshop Elements 8 and Premiere Elements 8 for Windows are available today, but the Mac version of Photoshop Elements 8 will be available next month. Both products will be available soon at retail outlets such as Amazon.com, Apple (Mac only), Costco.com (Windows only), Best Buy, Office Depot and OfficeMax.

Stay tuned for the review!

Serif Releases PagePlus X4

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Serif announced today that PagePlus X4, the newest version of their page layout application, is now available. I have decided not to conduct a full review of PagePlus X4 due to my design and writing workload, but I wanted to spread the announcement:

PRESS RELEASE

NOTTINGHAM, UK & NASHUA, NH – August 3, 2009Serif, a leading independent design, publishing and creative software developer, today released a significant upgrade to its award-winning desktop publishing software PagePlus X4, which offers the perfect blend of powerful creative design, professional results and affordability, making high-end desktop publishing capabilities more attainable for small businesses, professionals and home-users than ever before.

PagePlus X4 continues to offer its hallmark feature-set including thousands of professional templates and the specialized Cutout and Logo studios, which make professional-quality results quick and easy. Advanced features such as the new learning zone, integrated photo editing capabilities, new sophisticated graphics tools, industry standard file compatibility and added easy-to-use tools to enhance productivity; extend PagePlus’ lead over similarly priced rivals.

“PagePlus X4 is a very exciting release for us, as it makes professional desktop publishing software even more accessible for all levels of user,” said Gary Bates, Serif’s Managing Director. “As always we have listened to the requests of our knowledgeable customers and, with advanced productivity, even more industry-standard file compatibility and powerful graphics features, have delivered a significant upgrade that will be appreciated by new and existing users alike.”

Key new features and benefits include:

  • Innovative Learning Zone – Quick and easy access to printable or video tutorials, Serif support and the vibrant user community.
  • Integrated Photo Editing – PhotoLab puts more than 70 professional photo adjustments and artistic effects at the user’s fingertips, along with quick fix options like one-touch red-eye removal, blemish removal or masking capabilities
  • Additional Industry-standard File Compatibility – Import MS Word documents and OpenOffice.org ODF files. Import text and pictures from Microsoft Word 2007 documents
  • Anchored Objects – Maintain a picture or drawing’s position relative to specific text, a column, frame, margin or page whilst remaining fully editable
  • High Impact Graphics Tools – Joining and cutting shapes to create eye catching illustrations such as logos can now be achieved directly within PagePlus
  • Photo-quality Frames and Borders – Drag ‘n’ drop photo realistic frames and borders into documents and resize without losing quality

Additional productivity enhancements include improvements to PDF® import enabling even more advanced PDF editing, an enhanced resource manager which makes it easier than ever to stay in control of long documents, dynamic guides for quick-snap alignment of objects on a page, tabbed workspace for quickly switching between publications and a redesigned Startup Wizard which makes viewing templates and selecting design themes simple.

About Serif

Serif is the publisher of the award-winning software range that includes PagePlus™, PhotoPlus™, DrawPlus™, WebPlus™, AlbumPlus™, MoviePlus™, PanoramaPlus™ and Digital Scrapbook Artist™ and more. Founded in 1987 with the aim to develop low-cost alternatives to high-end publishing and graphics packages, Serif has been repeatedly praised for its powerful yet easy-to-use software which has put professional effects and demanding publishing tasks within the reach of ordinary PC users around the world. Now with over 6 million customers worldwide, Serif has over 200 employees at its head office, development and European sales centre in Nottingham, UK and its North American sales operation in New Hampshire, US.