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Out to Launch: Adobe Reveals CS4

We were riding in the limousine home from the CS4 launch party, chatting about the affair, when I got a text message confirming some unexpected good fortune—I had a tee time at the Stanford Alumni golf course the next afternoon. Obviously an offer I couldn’t refuse, but I started adding up the costs—rental car to get there, golf clothes, balls, club-rental, more balls, greens fees—and then considering my depleted bank balance. Not good.

So I turned to editor Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen in the back seat and said "Eric, we need a perspective piece on the CS4 launch." He considered and then agreed, commenting "yeah, but don’t make it one of your boring, War and Peace-style technology articles. Give me a snappy lead, give the reader some background and perspective about the event itself, then the details about why CS4 important. Think pithy and light."

"Boring technology articles?" I thought, wondering where that came from and whether to protest. Then I reconsidered golf with a view of the Pacific and agreed. So here we are, let’s make the best of it, shall we?

Snappy lead. Pithy and light. Hmmm. How ‘bout "If you’re a streaming producer, CS4 has multiple features that make it the biggest no-brainer since Starbucks started offering those free coffee sleeves that prevent you from burning your fingers (and presumably from suing them for doing so). It also has one overarching feature that will change how we view video editors going forward."

Intrigued? Compelled to keep reading? Yes? No? I hope so.

The Background
Reader warning: The following few paragraphs are highly self-indulgent, more about me (in truth) than CS4, and nothing that you’ll look back on in 30 years and say "Man, I wish I had read those first few background paragraph’s in Ozer’s story about CS4." So, if you want "Just the facts, Ma’am," jump ahead to the "What’s New" head. On the other hand, if you want some feel for the event, that always-fun glimpse into the life of a technology reporter, and perhaps a smile or two, I’ll have you in and out in under 3 minutes. Your call.

First, to define the "we" that starts this column, it was not just Eric and myself in the car, we were joined by world traveler, intrepid reporter and "he with genuine Wikipedia-breadth knowledge on virtually any and every subject," Mr. Tim Siglin. He rated the back seat in the limo with Eric, while I road shotgun, in the death seat, nervously watching the road while the overly connected driver rocketed down Interstate 280 rotating his attention between his cell phone, pager and GPS navigation system, with only an occasional, casual glance at the highway.

Our attendance at the CS4 launch was totally accidental; we were all in town for StreamingMedia West, and the dates dovetailed. Adobe was kind enough to send a car service to collect and deliver us home, and if you’re concerned about objectivity in the face of this largesse, you have every right to be. Still, Adobe announced CS4, they didn’t ship it, so this was the rosy calm before the storm, where the product is all potential, with no ability or even obligation to fulfill that potential. That would come later when the product shipped.

That said, I have been testing the CS4 beta for about 2 months now, with multiple real-world projects under my belt, so my exposure to the product was a lot more than the one hour dog and pony show that I happily missed while wandering down to the San Francisco waterfront. My timing, I have to report, was exemplary, and I returned to the affair just as the last speaker said "Thank you for coming." As the applause died down I grabbed literally the first Anchor Steam delivered by one the many black-clad bartenders. You would have been proud of me.

The launch party itself was held in the first floor of the former Macromedia offices in downtown San Francisco. While the location is pure industrial grime, the whole first floor was tastefully comprised of wood, brick and tile, with ceilings at least 30 feet high. Adobe served cases of expensive beer and wine, accompanied by mountains of finger food.

Tim, who stayed for the presentation, reported that it was quite flashy with wonderful production value, and had exposed several new features that he thought were killer. Speaking of killer, he had his own near-death experience during the event as the boom operator swung a car engine sized, HD camera ever closer to his head while taking game show-like pans, tilts, and zooms of the speakers. Sorry I missed that.

Surveying the crowd, beer in hand, I noticed most of the familiar product managers, plus their bosses, their bosses’ bosses, and their bosses’ bosses’ bosses. Lots of Adobe folks, predominantly dressed in black (as you would expect), with their bright employee badges differentiating them from the bartenders and wait staff. Some luminaries scattered around; I noticed (I think) Lynda Weinman of Lynda.com fame. I also met world-renowned photographer Maggie Hallahan, who actually pitched me to serve as a model in an upcoming advertising shoot for Microsoft. I was flattered, but had to pass, since I’ll be in London for Streaming Media Europe on that date (did I mention I was flattered)?

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