Posts Tagged ‘Adobe Systems’

CS5 – as useful as a ‘Chocolate Teapot’?

February 3, 2010
Adobe Systems Incorporated

Image via Wikipedia

Later this year Adobe will be releasing their latest incarnation of the Creative Suite in the form of CS5. For the avid followers of Adobe development news and those who are registered beta testers you will have seen some of the wonders that this new version will bring.

For the rest of us, we are left wondering what the cost of upgrading will be and whether we are going to save anything by doing it… Let’s face it when we shell out of upgrades we usually do it for 3 reasons:

  1. There are new features we must have or have been waiting for….
  2. Someone is supplying us files that we need to manipulate in the new version of the software
  3. Or we have somehow justified the expense to get the upgrade for absolutely no reason…

There are those of us who have been sensible enough to maintain their maintenance agreements and thus get the upgrades for free anyway. Well not exactly free, but cheaper than buying them at retail cost (with your given CLP agreement discount level) you’ll enjoy these new features without a second thought. Unfortunately these lucky people are the ones that will ultimately force upgrades on others they supply their files to.

Adobe is again focusing on the ability to streamline the creative process by enabling cross application graphics usage that allows for fast pre-media channel outputs, along with their crusade to make everything Flash enabled (well apart from anything Apple that is – that bitter war continues!)

Adobes flagship product – Photoshop – has a whole host of new features that have been touted about the internet. These include:

  • New Digital Photography Features
  • 64 bit processing for Apple Mac computers
  • Porting Photoshop CS5 from Carbon to Cocoa
  • Support for Multiple GPU’s
  • New Brush technologies
  • New Paint technologies
  • New on-the-fly multi-point Warping technologies
  • New Content Aware Technology
  • GPU Video Acceleration Technologies

But I must ask how many of these with have any economical impact on our day to day business? Sure, multi GPU support would be nice for all those with multi GPU graphic cards and new paint technology is great for those artists out there have haven’t already discovered what Paintshop Pro does for them. And what about the long awaited 64bit support – I mean 64bit in desktop machines has only been around for 6 years!? Also, what about the content aware scaling; we’ve already seen their first attempt of this in CS4 which was pretty awesone, but how much does it really get used….?

Although, like most others I will rush out and get CS5, I do question if the expense is really going to be worth it and whether the new features, tools and underlying archecture is going to benefit me to the tune of the upgrade cost – or will be be “as useful as a chocolate tea pot”!? Wouldn’t it be more useful if Adobe placed more analytical tools under the bonnet so we can see the most frequently used tools and the effect our system setup has? Also, how about some Adobe ‘statistics gathering’ on what they really need to improve? Now that would bring true benefit to the endusers and businesses alike.

Author: Gary George

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Jack of all trades?

December 23, 2009

You know what, with all this talk about pre-media and the diverse channels of media that need to be addressed that fall into it’s scope, I thought we ought to look at the types of skills a ‘pre-media specialist’ should hold… This has really come about after a discussion and then one of those lovely google alerts coming in for a ‘pre-media specialist’ job in London.

Firstly lets take a quick look at what this job wanted the candidates to be able to do:

To be considered for this role, you will ideally have:
Commercial experience in professional graphics software applications including Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, QuarkXpress and Dreamweaver
Sound working knowledge of HTML and CSS
Data processing experience, preferably gained in MS Excel or Access
A demonstrable track record of working to client briefs and interpreting requirements.
Knowledge of variable data mark-up for digital print and knowledge of digital workflow in a print or online production environment
Any experience gained in XMPie, DirectSmile or Yours Truly designer VDP extensions is highly desirable, but not strictly essential as full training can be provided.

My god they should have thrown in Video Editing in Final Cut Pro just for good measure!… I’ve just exaggerated the keywords there for them to jump out at you, this is a pretty good job spec and to be honest if anyone could demonstrate commercial experience in just Photoshop they would probably be in for a 25k a year job, but these guys seem to want you to be a jack of all trades here, and to top that their owning willing to pay between 20-30k a year… Now hold on, I know we’re living in desperate times, but to me there is 4 distinct jobs outlined in this spec…. An Artworker capable of page markup and image composition. A web designer building pages in HTML and CSS. A data processing/VDP person and last but not least a workflow guy. Now, I’ve been around for some 20 years in this trade and met some pretty clever people, but none of them have that sort of diversity and if they did know a little of each, they were by no means a specialist.

So are we now expecting too much for our money?

http://www.sillydaddy.net

Cartoon by Joe Chiapetta http://www.sillydaddy.net

I know so many companies that struggle to get good Quark, Indesign & Photoshop operators and the good ones they do get are paid over 35k, the to add Illustrator to that, good Illustrator people are worth their weight in gold. As the cartoon displays the skills gap that UPS identified in Illinois, we tend to hire just on the basis that the potential employee writes it on their CV.

(thanks to Joe Chiappetta for allowing the use of this cartoon picture, check out all his great work at http://www.sillydaddy.net)

But if you were a brand owner and knew your pre-media company employed pre-media specialists who, well, specialized in everything rather than any one of the given disciplines of pre-media, how confident would you be in the specialist services you were getting?

In fact each of the Adobe application have a certified expert program were a user can take an exam based on one of the applications (in the UK they are provided through a series of authorized training centers) if you pass you are provided a certificate to say you are a certified expert in that version of the application…. Have you ever even asked your pre-media supplier if they have any certified experts employed and if so what versions of the applications they are experts in…. Or in fact if you are an employee have you asked your company to sponsor you to become an expert? I mean it would benefit them as much as it benefits your own career, and lastly as an employer do you encourage and support your staff to become experts?

On the whole most of you will answer no to the above, yet if we are to really and truly benchmark the skills and salaries of the people we employ we need to start encouraging accreditation in the applications we employ them to use, unfortunately for me, years of experience doesn’t mean the person is actually any good in the applications, and I can tell you from experience I’ve employed some youngsters in my time that are worth 10 times their peers.

While I understand that there is a need to employ people with multiple skills, companies are constantly running the risk employing people who aren’t particularly skilled in anything, I mean, I could say that I am fluent in CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, yet I only really know 5% of what Corel is capable of doing and that’s where the problem is when a person states they can use a graphic application.

So where does this leave our modern pre-media companies who need to deliver services across multiple disciplines and deliver those services at rates that are competitive against the other pre-media companies in the market. Well better pre-employment screening can only help you employ the right people, there’s plenty of great people out there, I hope you can find them and have a good performance rating program to assist the weaker ones in becoming a true asset to the company.

Author: Gary George

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Cloud computing with a DAM

December 18, 2009

After Sean’s interesting little entry on whether more companies are going to move their application offering into the cloud, I had the pleasure of spending a lengthy amount of time Murray Oles of Chalex. They have taken a rather different approach to providing Digital Asset Management as a service and not as the key application driver. Workflow orchestration is their approach and storing assets is just a process that happens during our working day, and lets face it in our pre-media environments we are all about getting our jobs out and the assets are attached to our jobs, so this is a refreshing approach from a DAM vendor.

There are two things that make this system stand apart from the other; the first one which isn’tunique to what I have seen, but is unique in their implementation to it is the ability to build workflows to manage the process flow of your jobs, now this could be anything from the automation of tasks, to the people that need to review and approve something and right down to the assigning of tasks to people, studios or outsource partners. Now I said it wasn’t completely unique and that was because we have seen workflow in systems offered by Artesia and ADAM, but the workflow is all based around the assests and not the business processes.

The second thing that is pretty unique is that the system is offered completely in the cloud… yes completely – assets and all…. It all sits up there on the Amazon servers, this provides them with the ability to deploy an instance of the basic setup in a matter of hours, for more advanced configurations where the processes need to be mapped and custom panels need creating then these can be developed after the process has been worked out.

The system is using some great technology under the bonnet, such as Cozimo the collaborative, review and presentation system for online digital content in real-time, this is similar to other systems out there from Kodak, Dalim, and ProofHQ but also allows you to annotate video!

On top of these they are able to integrate additional services into the system such as:

  • Google integration –iGoogle “Gadgets” –Google Apps
  • Collaboration services
  • Video previews
  • FLASH previews
  • Web to print services
  • Promo planning
  • Adobe In Design Server engine
  • Translation services
  • On-line page building

Naturally there are the normal features such as published workflow models, resource groups, workflow teams and roles & permission setting along with a dashboard that allows you to keep track of your work assignments. They have also started developing smart forms based in Flex allowing for the information to be dynamically generated.

On top of all this they have an Adobe Air application that allows the users to connect and interact with the assets connected with a specific task. All for either an annual subscription fee or an outright price with annual maintenance fee that is very very competitive against other offerings on the market.

So with the prediction for 2010 being the year of the DAM Cloud Explosion, these guys are well positioned to get ahead of the race with a concept that doesn’t put the digital asset management as the key driver, but rather the business process is the heart of the solution.

We look forward to seeing how this system develops over the next 6 to 12 months as they find more integrators around the world to help them get a better saturation in the market.

My only closing comments would be that you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, unfortunately their main website for the products http://www.pakzar.biz does need a bit of a marketeers touch.

Author: Gary George

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Opportunities in the Cloud

December 6, 2009

There has been a lot of talk lately about operating in ‘the Cloud’ and here at Tunicca Towers we have been asking whether this could well be the dynamic and exciting next step for Pre-media. But also could it provide a wake up call for all of those Pre-media vendors out there who have built a good business around the provision of software tools to our industry and their subsequent upkeep through lucrative support contracts?  Basically, who will benefit most from the Opportunities in the Cloud?

I should add that the concept of operating in the Cloud has become a reality since the advent of faster communications speeds and greater processing power. An early casualty of the Cloud has been internal IT departments who have been replaced by outsourced external companies who keep a couple of guys on site for trivial issues and for customer relations. Everything else has been transitioned off site and most IT infrastructure sits somewhere in the ether – frankly the customer doesn’t give a hoot where it sits as they can be left to concentrate on their core business and IT is no longer a ‘burden’ on their payroll and balance sheet. In effect it becomes another monthly operating cost just like any other utility.

In the case of software systems, the ability of the Cloud to host powerful programs that are core to a business is getting closer and closer. Imagine an architecture company for instance whose business is based around the design of contemporary new houses and buildings. The success of that business is based upon the years of training undertaken by their architects and the creativity held within their design oriented minds. That is the core of their business and not the expensive design package that sits on each of their architects workstations – these are viewed merely as the tools of the trade. If those software tools can be funded, managed and accessed in an entirely different way then that architecture company is going to seriously consider a more streamlined and effective method of using those tools. And this is where the Cloud comes in!

But how does this affect the specialised area of Pre-media where historically processing power, as well as the clever technology developed by the many Pre-media vendors, was what gave one service supplier the edge against another? Well imagine if you will a world where technology vendors no longer sell expensive high end software packages along with the accompanying annual commitment of a support contract and everything that comes with that (annual version upgrades, intermittent .xx bug fixes, visits from engineers to carry out upgrades, second visits from engineers to rectify what went wrong during the first visit, etc.). Imagine a world where none of this exists and the software just sits in ‘the Cloud’ – you the customer just pays an annual or monthly subscription fee to use it.

Sounds like utopia doesn’t it? But I am just wondering if the many techology vendors out there are going to dive gleefully into this new dynamic world of offering their crown jewels up in the Cloud. What a different world this promises and more importantly, what a different business model that presents for all involved – no large capital outlay to buy a DVD and manual in a colourful cardboard box with the “licensed rights” to use a that software, no ongoing support contract and no upgrade visits from engineers to screw up Pre-media systems that were working perfectly well before (OK that last bit was a bit harsh and I apologise to all of the engineers out there that I know).

The ability to offer such applications like this is enhanced by cloud hosting services like Amazon Web Services and their Elastic Cloud solution which is enabling more companies to drop the need for upfront investment. It will be very interesting to see which vendors grasp this new era in the world of Pre-media and how much customers will drive that requirement. I visited Kodak recently and they have gone some way to embracing this by offering  packages such as InSite on a subscription basis. There are also vendors such as Aviary and ProofHQ who are offering packages that sit up in the ether. And of course let’s not forget Adobe who offer their applications on sites such as Photoshop.com and Acrobat.com.

Suffice to say that the traditional ‘Software on a Disc’ model is under threat and this could mark a completely new era of business for vendors and service suppliers alike. How, or indeed if, they can cope, adapt and make money in this new era will be interesting to see. As advisers to the Pre-media industry we are watching carefully as the advice that we give our clients is based around providing their companies the very best operational model to take them forward.

Author: Sean Runchman

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