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Interview: Adobe Director of Video Project Management Bill Roberts

Jan Ozer sits down with Bill Roberts to discuss the trends impacting the future direction of Adobe Creative Suite for video pros, including the decline of 3D, the rise of 4K, and second-screen viewing. Other topics included the growth of Creative Cloud, and the development arc of Apple Final Cut Pro X.

Recently, I chatted with Bill Roberts, Adobe's Director of Video Project Management, about the trends impacting the future direction of the Creative Suite for video professionals, which should see another significant release around mid-2013, based on Adobe's 12–18-month release cycle. As you might suspect, the conversation veered into topics like the success of the Creative Cloud, and Apple Final Cut Pro X.

Adobe's Bill Roberts
Adobe Director of Video Project Managament Bill Roberts

3D vs. 4K

SMP: What trends do you see driving the next few releases of the Creative Suite?

Roberts: One that's front-of-mind is the adoption of high-frame rate 4K formats for acquisition. Adobe just finished exhibiting at Inter BEE in Japan, which is similar to NAB here in the States. There we showed 4K workflows with JVC and Sony.

It's pretty clear that the 3D craze for the home is dying down. Panasonic recently announced that they were dropping their 3D TV sets, while Sony announced that they were rolling out 4K sets. Japan is primed for a move to 4K as they adopted HD early back when it was driven by tape-based formats. When these producers move to 4K, they'll need a file-based workflow, which we first added to CS6 via Adobe Prelude. Lots of producers who came by our booth at Inter BEE were very excited about Prelude and our 4K support.

SMP: How will this drive CS6 development?

Roberts: Fortunately, because we designed all of our products to optimize editing in native formats regardless of frame size or frame rate, it's simple to add support for most new 4K formats as vendors release them. We just tell our users they need faster hard drives.

The Second-Screen Experience

SMP: What other big trends do you see impacting the Creative Suite going forward?

Roberts: We thought it was interesting how the Olympics really created a focus on the second-screen experience. The BBC, which is one of our strategic customers, and treated the 2012 Games as inflection point to make a technology statement and create a strong second-screen experience.

They tracked viewership through the day, and found that the primary consumption platform was the computer during the day, with mobile during commute and evenings with tablet viewing along side the big-screen TV in the living room. Viewers wanted to be in the moment in the live event on the big screen and use the second screen to catch up.

Olympic viewing trends
Data from BBC blog post on Olympic viewing.

They also liked the greater selection offered online, which incorporated up to 24 different streams, and features like chapter marking, which allows viewers to revisit content like Usain Bolt's 100m win, which was clicked 13,000 times.

The BBC's overall numbers were staggering—they reported 55 million global browsers and 12 million devices requesting and 106 million video requests across the platform. If all the video that was watched was viewed consecutively, it would take over 7,000 years to complete. NBC has honed their second screen-experience dramatically over the years, particularly with Sunday Night Football, which is designed to augment--not replace--the TV viewing experience.

Adobe has been pounding the multiscreen drum for a while now; as you know, we added many mobile-oriented presets to CS6, plus parallel H.264 encoding when rendering a single source file to multiple renditions. So what we saw around the Olympics both in the UK and US was a nice validation. So look for more presets and encoding efficiencies in future versions.

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