Adobe Creative Suite 3 Master Collection beta

Adobe built this deluxe software package for creative professionals seeking to make content consistent across the Web, in film, on handheld devices, in print, and elsewhere.


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If one Adobe design application, such as Photoshop, is equivalent to, say, a box of crayons, then Adobe CS3 Master Collection suite would be like a drawer packed with crayons, markers, paints, and pencils in hundreds of hues. This heavy-duty software suite contains 17 equally heavy-duty applications -- every major professional package in the Adobe pantheon for digital design. With it, you should be able to shoot, edit, and produce a TV-quality commercial; then repurpose those video clips for the Web and mobile phone browsers as well as a companion DVD; then use the existing images, logos, and text in a printed newsletter or magazine ad campaign. However, for those who may not need so many tools, Adobe is also fine-tuning five other software packages.

Adobe's Master Collection will include the new Photoshop CS3 Extended, which integrates with Adobe's video-editing tools and Illustrator for vector graphics. InDesign handles print layouts, while Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash, Encore, and Acrobat serve Webmasters and interactive professionals. Premiere and After Effects edit video -- and unlike the previous version, this iteration of Premiere now runs on the Mac -- while Ultra assists with chromakeying and Soundbooth edits audio. OnLocation, a lightly repackaged version of DVRack (acquired last year), can help videographers tweak a shoot on site, in the studio, or out in the field.

There's also the Version Cue file version manager and the Bridge content control center. Acrobat Connect Web conferencing can get members of your design, editing, marketing, and other teams on the same page at the same time. Device Central allows mobile content designers to preview creations on skins of the latest handheld gadgets. Adobe's Dynamic Link technology now enables video editors to move content between Premiere, AfterEffects, and Encore while maintaining editability. The CS3 versions of Premiere, Soundbooth, Encore, and OnLocation, in addition to Dynamic Link, require Intel-based Mac computers, which all of the other applications can run on as well as PowerPC-based Macs. However, the Master Collection does not include Lightroom for managing extensive photo libraries.

This big box of goodies will run AU$4,455 to AU$2,495 if you upgrade from CS2 or CS suites; Studio 8, MX 2004, or MX; or Adobe Production Studio Premium or Standard. Adobe intends to ship its Creative Suite 3 Master Collection in the third quarter of 2007, when the video applications are available. Until that time, you have the option to purchase Adobe Production Studio Premium, After Effects 7.0 Professional, or Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0 and upgrade to their Creative Suite 3 counterparts for free.

For most users, the Adobe CS3 Master Collection will be overkill, despite the significant cost savings over acquiring the apps individually. Unfortunately, it's licensed -- and activated -- on a suite basis, so you can't buy the Master Collection and distribute the apps around a workgroup, a department, or a small studio, which seems the most effective use of an uber-suite like this. We'll report back again after we test the various applications.



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