Adobe Encore DVD 1.5 test and review

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Adobe After Effects 6.5

Over the last couple of years, Adobe's supremacy in timeline video editing and compositing has been eroded. The company's Premiere editor is no longer bundled with the majority of Windows editing cards, and serious Mac users have largely moved over to Apple's own editor, Final Cut Pro.
Adobe's After Effects compositor, which had seemed unassailable, has had its challenges. Discreet's Combustion is now a strong contender on the Windows platform, while on the Mac side, Apple's higher-end offering Shake has taken some market share - though clearly not enough for Apple's liking, hence the imminent release, at £199 (inc VAT), of Apple Motion.
Adobe's response has been to play to the breadth of its product portfolio with big-value pricing deals on software bundles and ever greater integration between apps. Even so, our last look at After Effects, with V6 reconfirmed its primary status as a standalone app. V6.5, although not such a major upgrade, does improve integration, as well as taking themes from the previous version and further solidifying them - as you'd expect for a dot release. The headline feature for V6 was the OpenGL rendering engine, which harnesses the power of the host PC's graphics card to accelerate rendering. Considering how rapidly the power of graphics cards improves, it was a sensible move. With V6.5, OpenGL now permeates After Effects more deeply and can be used with the actual video, or static-frame placeholders. As well as being available during scrubbing, OpenGL mode can also be called up for RAM previews. It's even available for rendering to disk, but not all effects will be rendered, so this is only really useful for a quick preview to send to clients or to use as a placeholder in a project within another software app.
After Effects 6.5 is nowhere near as big an update as V6, with no major architectural changes. But there are heaps of new effects and plenty of enhancements to make V6.5 an attractive upgrade. The preset system will save a lot of time and make reuse of animation work a lot easier, aided by the improved cloning tool. And, the integration with other Adobe apps will be welcome to Collection users, too.
Considering the £78 price, upgrading is a no-brainer, and existing Video Collection users are offered an even more attractive price to upgrade all their apps. It's still an expensive option for new users, however. The Professional version is nowhere near as good value as Discreet Combustion if all that's needed are the Motion Tracking tools available only in the more expensive package. However, After Effects Professional's tracking tools are now about the fastest, easiest to use and most flexible around. Plus, the new Grain Management system will be very attractive to film compositors. Rather than the major shift to V6, After Effects 6.5 brings together lots of smaller improvements, and just a few of them on their own are well worth the upgrade.

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Reviewed in this issue:

Adobe Premiere Pro 1.5
Adobe Encore DVD 1.5

Adobe After Effects 6.5

Canon Bubble Jet i865
ProDAD Heroglyph
ProDAD Adorage Magic

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Curtain lifted slightly on 3D Edit
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Canopus Mac/Win analogue<>digital converter
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