Adobe Australia’s recent Amplify Your Creativity in Sydney was an ample reminder of how crucial Photoshop, 25 years old this year, has been to the development of digital creativity in all its forms as well as an opportunity to see what is just around the corner for Adobe’s two key video products from Creative Cloud, After Effects and Premiere Pro.
It was also a way of being reminded how important the mobile world has become to all aspects of digital creativity, with demos of a range of recently developed mobile apps in standalone mode and especially used in close conjunction with their well-established desktop sisters.
My introduction to Adobe products was via an early version of Photoshop when I was working for an Australian newspaper and magazine publisher. Our farsighted photography manager had invited a local Photoshop expert to drop by and show off what that now venerable version of Photoshop could do.
It got me thinking and visualizing a whole new world immediately but it to took local creativity ages to catch up. Few individual creatives could afford the hardware or the software then, so we were lucky that the publisher installed a couple of Apple computers complete with Photoshop just for us photographers. Some of the first digital SLRs and portable computers soon followed.
As I sat in the audience at Amplify Your Creativity I had flashbacks to those early days of digital and mused on how Photoshop has had such a vital influence on the interfaces we now take for granted in all our other software tools whether we are working in stills, video, web design, mobile apps or any other aspect of digital creativity. Where Adobe led the way other software makers have followed or retooled their existing GUIs to emulate.
The Adobe staff and guest presenters at Amplify Your Creativity did a fine job of pointing the audience the way forward in our own creative practice. Needless to say, Australia can be just a little bit isolated from trends elsewhere in the world given our distance from the global creative hotspots so events like this are crucial in stimulating our thinking.
Adobe’s portfolio of creative products is a big one and events like this help remind us of the deeper features of what we may use every day as well as the many other products, desktop and mobile, that we probably should be using too.
In Australia, as in the rest of the world, boundaries are blurring between formerly separate creative disciplines. It was not so long ago that Adobe’s own events here would break up into a photography stream, a video stream, a graphic design stream and a web stream after the initial introduction.
The camera I carried with me during Amplify Your Creativity was the hardware demonstration of that blurring. I shot mostly stills with my GH4 that day but was set up to shoot 4K video if I needed to.
Many other members of the audience were photographers intending to go into video or they were already there. A number of designers there had been working with moving images for some time now.
And all of us, I strongly suspect, create on the Web one way or another and web and other design software often comes into play. This is the era where disciplines combine to merge and talents expand into new realms as they need to, and products like Adobe’s have played a major role in making all that possible.
Adobe’s Amplify Your Creativity was held at the Roslyn Packer Theatre, formerly the Sydney Theatre, at Walsh Bay. The theatre is the largest venue of the Sydney Theatre Company located nearby. The STC has been artistic-directed by Australian theatre and cinema power-couple Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton for the past several years. The downstairs foyer was absolutely packed with event attendees on my arrival.
Harbinger of what was to come later in the day. Some exciting changes in the new Premiere Pro CC 2015 were shown off in the lobby and later onstage in more detail. After Effects CC 2015 will also feature a number of great new improvements. I am looking forward to CC 2015’s arrival later this year.
Paul Burnett, Adobe’s Senior APAC Evangelist, Creative Cloud, made several appearances onstage during the afternoon. He focused on Adobe’s design and web tools and showed off Adobe’s CC mobile apps and how they work together with Adobe’s desktop applications for a richer, more immediate creative experience. APAC stands for Asia-Pacific.
Paul Robson, Adobe’s President for APAC presented the results of a survey of Australian creatives and businesses and their understanding of creativity and the potential for mobile. The survey results conformed my own observations of working in large Australian corporations and small creative agencies. Creativity tends to be misunderstood, grossly underrated and less supported than it needs to be. Australia has relied on mining for far too long and needs new industries to replace that over-reliance, especially now that the demand for coal is steadily decreasing. Creativity and innovation are the only real ways forward now.
Paul Burnett went into depth with Adobe’s array of mobile tools and demonstrated how they partner with the desktop applications. This slide and others were effective in demonstrating the possible linkages via the row of icons below each larger app icon. I suspect many attendees went away highly motivated to try out the mobile apps. I certainly did.
After a show of hands it was apparent there were quite a few photographers in the audience. Conversations with photographers during breaks indicated that many are in the process of moving into video but still lack good, affordable access to the skills and education they need to succeed. I also confirmed that many Australian photographers mostly earn their living at anything but photography, often also working in digital production, design and other roles within marketing and other agencies.
The need for storytelling, I am told by longtime agency creatives, is one of those ideas that is often bandied about but remains largely misunderstood. Given Australia’s heavily multicultural populace, more sophisticated visually-oriented storytelling is, I believe, needed to get across to a wider audience than our traditional consumer base in the Anglo-Celtic population. Paul Burnett took us through almost the complete current set of Adobe mobile apps, all currently for the Apple iOS only, and added that Android support would be coming soon.
Paul Burnett was joined by Julieanne Kost and Karl Soule for an even deeper session looking at the photography and video-oriented apps in the Adobe mobile app collection. Karl Soule is Adobe’s Digital Video Business Development Manager, APAC, and Julieanne Kost is Principal Digital Imaging Evangelist with degrees in psychology and fine art photography. They showed how they used Adobe’s video and stills mobile apps during a recent trip to New Zealand. Julie held a Lightroom session downstairs at the end of the event. Her demo was so popular the exhibition area was densely packed and many would-be attendees could not get through. Her Lightroom tutorials are, fortunately, available online.
Like many creatives, I am involved in the NGO/non-profit/charity sector and volunteer my time and skills wherever I can. After this inspiring session by British expatriates Carl Moggridge and Craig Adams of the Good for Nothing aka GFN virtual creative community, I suspect more Australian creatives will be volunteering soon. GFN began in the UK supporting and improving the lives of people and communities in need and has now spread to cities across the world, including Sydney. Adobe Australia supports GFN’s work here and encouraged audience members to send their names to GFN to take part in projects later this year.
All eyes were riveted on Video Evangelist Karl Soule’s demonstration of much-demanded new color features coming soon to Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2015 and Adobe After Effects CC 2015. It’s no secret that aspects of many photography and video applications are starting to move closer. Photoshop CC 2014 already contains sophisticated motion editing features and Karl showed how Premiere Pro CC 2015 will contain improved image editing for video in its Lumetri Color grading plug-in and improved color workspace. Photographers moving into video are well familiar with editing and color grading their stills in the same session instead of separately. Color grading continues to merge into video editing with Premiere Pro just as it is in other makers’ software such as Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve and Apple’s Final Cut Pro X.
As an aficionado of fine typography I was especially excited to note that Barcelona design studio Vasava was slated to present at Amplify Your Creativity and was amply rewarded with examples of their beautiful typeface design and typography for numerous advertising and marketing projects. They demonstrated how digital technology has allowed them to radically expand their creative horizons to the pint where if you can visualize it, you can create it. Enric Godes and Bruno Sellés had plenty of wisdom to share including this one, often attributed in another form to Pablo Picasso. I agree with this adage, with the addition that, once you have learned enough and are ready to show your portfolio off to potential buyers, be yourself only more so. When I was commissioning photography for a global advertising agency, I encountered few things sadder than young photographers showing me work that was a ripoff of photographs by someone established and famous. Top agencies are always on the lookout for suppliers with their own unique way of seeing, young or older, and not imitators.
US photojournalist Ben Lowy was a big hit as first speaker at 2014’s SemiPermanent conference in Sydney and he was just as informative and entertaining as last speaker for Amplify Your Creativity. Ben leapt into war photography headfirst during the Iraq War in 2003 and has had a long, colourful career in other hotspots like Darfur, Libya and Afghanistan while returning to Iraq time and again. He regaled us with tales of his many misadventures in those conflict zones and some extraordinary images shot with DSLRs as well as mobile phones, at home and abroad. Ben was one of the pioneers of iPhone photography with covers and features shot on the iPhone for magazines like Time. He has won a number of awards and, impressively, was personally selected by the great William Eggleston to win the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman First Book Prize.