Adobe Unleashes Avalanche of Creative Cloud Tools at MAX 2018

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Whatever you think of the idea of subscription software, Adobe is doing its best to make sure those who pay up for its Creative Cloud subscription get their money’s worth. This week at its annual MAX event, Adobe has rolled out dozens of new features that span quite a few of its Creative Cloud applications. We’ll cover the top upgrades for Photoshop, Lightroom, Premiere Pro, and the new Premiere Rush in this article, but there were also nice updates to Illustrator, Character Animator, InDesign, Dimension, Audition, and others.

Spiffy Video Edit and Share App Project Rush is Now Premiere Rush CC

With Premiere Rush Adobe is aiming to accomplish three related objectives. First, it wanted to create an easy-to-use, but powerful, video editing package that also facilitates modern workflows like those used by video bloggers and others where quick sharing across platforms is key. Second, it wants to make those capabilities available across platforms, so that they’re available to those who have a mobile-first workflow in addition to on the desktop. Finally, the projects created need to be completely-compatible with Premiere Pro, so for teams that have more sophisticated post-production requirements they can leverage all the work that’s already been done.

Based on a couple days with a pre-release version of Premiere Rush CC for Windows, even this early version is pretty sweet. After stepping through the brief tutorial you actually know everything you need to for creating slick videos that feature multiple clips, titles, transitions, and audio. The UI is logically organized, media is easy to add, and a lot of the complex terminology of Premiere Pro has been stripped out because it isn’t essential to this type of straight-ahead editing. Assembling a sequence feels much closer to the Premiere Elements experience than to Premiere Pro — but you’ve got the full power of the Premiere Pro engine underneath.

Over time, I’m sure Adobe will be (carefully) rolling out more of that power in the Rush UI. For example, I know they plan to support applying LUTs, and they are all installed with the application, but there doesn’t seem to be any way to select them yet. Presumably, because it’s cross-platform, there also aren’t any right-click menus or File->Save and File->Open options that desktop users will probably look for.

Right now Premiere Rush is available for Mac, Windows, and iOS, with an Android version planned for 2019. Adobe realizes that Rush appeals to many video creators who don’t need the entire CC Suite, so it has a separate Premiere Rush plan that costs $10 per month for an individual or $20 per month for teams. For me, once I can get LUTs working, I expect to use Rush to start my video projects and only move them into Pro if I need something specific.

Lightroom Classic Adds HDR Panos, Depth Masks, and Tethered Shooting

One task that has been painful up until now is creating panoramas from bracketed images. It’s required pre-processing each bracket into a single HDR image and then using a panorama tool to handle the rest. With Lightroom Classic CC (and the new Camera Raw), you can now do all this in a single step.

The new HDR Pano feature is a real time saver as long as your images are carefully bracketed and you don't need to do de-ghosting.

The new HDR Pano feature is a real time saver as long as your images are carefully bracketed and you don’t need to do de-ghosting. In some cases, I had a series of bracketed images that it wouldn’t process but doesn’t provide details. My manual inspection of the EXIF data indicated they all seemed consistently bracketed. Hopefully, the tool will eventually provide more feedback about situations like that.

Now that phone cameras are capturing depth information as part of creating better portrait images and simulated Bokeh, it only makes sense that image processing tools allow you to do the same sorts of processing after the fact. So Lightroom has added the ability to do Range Masking by Depth for supported image types. It’s not clear to me how standardized depth data is, or how many phones and modes will be supported, but for now, it at least includes Portrait-mode photos captured with recent model iPhones.

Support for tethered shooting using Canon cameras has also been made faster and more reliable in this release, which should be helpful for many studio photographers. Similar upgrades to Lightroom’s Nikon tethered shooting support are planned. Those who use Lightroom on mobile also pick up options for filtering which photos are automatically shared with their Adobe cloud.

Photoshop Comes to iPad, Desktop Also Enhanced

Some Adobe devs took a flier and tried to build a version of Photoshop CC (the desktop version, not the mobile version) for the iPad from the desktop code base. They had enough success that Adobe is launching a version of Desktop Photoshop CC for the iPad. The feature set will be limited initially but will expand over time. PSD files will be directly supported. Now, when I think of Photoshop I certainly don’t think of trying to use it without a keyboard and mouse, so I suspect it will be most useful for times when your iPad is docked in some way or for very quick edits, but it is an impressive effort. Personally, I’d love to see them offer a full desktop version for ChromeOS so that it could run on Pixelbooks or the new Google Slate.

Users of Photoshop CC on the iPad will see their familiar tools, plus get support for touch and the Pencil.

Users of Photoshop CC on the iPad will see their familiar tools, plus get support for touch and the Pencil.

Content-aware Fill is a popular tool among photographers, and Adobe has made it more powerful and easier to use in this release. You can select the pixels you want to include and exclude from the area surrounding the fill, and you’ll get a live preview while you’re doing it. Separately, a new Frame tool makes it easier to resize an image to fit a particular size and shape. You can create frames from any image as well.

Content-aware Fill in PS for 2019

Content-aware fill has gotten a major upgrade in functionality and UI.

For those using Photoshop to sketch and paint, Symmetric Painting has been added, so you can mirror your strokes as you go. On a more pedestrian note, Photoshop CC, along with some other CC apps, picks up an Auto-Update feature. You can tell your Creative Cloud app to automatically update your CC applications without having to do it manually. Photoshop also gains the ability to Undo multiple edits by repeating the Undo command. The Home Screen gains some usability advances similar to those in the new Elements 2019, with links to your existing content and materials for learning more about Photoshop.

Symmetric Painting adds a new dimension to your creativity, at least if you're already an artist.

Symmetric Painting adds a new dimension to your creativity, at least if you’re already an artist.

Aero, Gemini, and Other Highlights

Adobe also previewed Aero, a new tool for AR creators, as well as Gemini, a painting and drawing app for devices like the iPad. Dimension 2.0 for 3D designers is available now. Premiere Pro is now up to version 13, but I think the MAX announcements for it largely restate the features we covered as part of Adobe’s IBC updates. For more information, see Adobe’s blog post.

Now Read: Hands On With New Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Elements 2019, Adobe Piles on New Audio, Video Features in Creative Cloud, and Hands On With CyberLink Director Suite 365.