Adobe Live ..its the future

Adobelive I’ve spent the last couple of days at Adobe Live’s London event – alt tag Planet Geek. Which would probably be hell for most people but which I find totally compelling. Here’s why. Pretty much all the digital artwork in the world is being developed on Photoshop. And most of the webpages are being developed on Dreamweaver. Illustrator and Indesign have become the standards for designers. And Adobe now owns all of them and has spent the last 2 years making their look and feel and file handling interoperable. Which at one level is a complete nightmare and at another is a fascinating process to watch. What it means is that for considerably less than £2,000: photographers, illustrators, designers, web  developers, animators and film makers are going to be using the same kit. And for the first time Adobe have made pretty much all of it available on the Mac as well as the PC. But each of these trades work differently from one another. They’re even structured in cottage industries to pass the work from one to another. And the ergonomic improvements Adobe are now rolling into their suites are going to create new kinds of amalgamated jobs. They’re also going to kill off whole regiments of specialists.  I think the scariest thing about this is that where Microsoft would have a big brother style vision – and Mac would focus on coolness, Adobe seem to be mainly pre-occupied with the nitty gritty. In other words they really don’t seem to be that bothered about the socio-cultural implications of what they’re building into the software. Sometimes it would be comforting to have a big brother visionary who could say where it was all heading and how the software will take us there. There wasn’t one.

I saw a presentation about how to publish on mobile phones and one on developing Flash animations from a Brighton combo who work a lot with Tribal DDB. Not surprisingly they talked about how elaborate and time consuming their work was. When the whole thrust of software development is to accelerate and to commoditise it.  Develop packaging and wrap it round a 3D can in real time? No problem.  The other factor here is that all of this kit will run on a £300 PC – or Mac equivalent. Half of the delegates must have been hobbyists or intrigued hybrids like me.  And despite the funkier features which the Adobe evangelists were so keen to demonstrate – I could see that a lot of the insider tricks demoed by old hands – would run perfectly well on old or entry level software.

I left at the end of the second day mildly depressed. Not only am I trying to learn my chops on Photoshop. Not only am I teaching myself Flash. I now have to rework my webthinking entirely and start to work in CSS – webpages without tables – shockhorror.  I’m not convinced by Adobe’s protestations that all of it is converging – it still feels like chaos. One exchange is worth reporting. I was talking to one of their demonstrators Rufus about finding a suitable application to replace powerpoint where I could use a digital tablet to write and sketch and load animated images as a kind of live interactive presentation which could be distributed as a flashmovie or pdf like a series of animated postcards. It turns out I could do this in Indesign, Fireworks, Flash or Photoshop so flexible is this emerging worlds of applications – so off to fire up the tablet and get practicing

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