Adobe Creative Suite 6 Conference in Shanghai
I attended Adobe's conference last Friday at the Oriental Riverside Hotel's Shanghai International Convention Center. After registering, the young Adobe staff member handed me a cute grab bag which I really liked (I can later use it for groceries in Parkson Minhang). Inside the bag were marketing materials for the Adobe Creative Suite 6 Design Standard, Design & Web Premium, Production Premium and Master Collection. Also included were flyers for the new Cintiq 24HD Wacom tablets. All of the handouts were in Chinese but I didn't mind – the quality of the paper alone made me feel privileged. The event organizers included inflatable elongated bags like the ones they use in soccer games. Obviously, they were supposed to promote some audience participation during the marketing event, but the crowd didn't bite. I was somewhat disappointed that they didn't hand out demo DVD copies of at least one of the new Adobe releases like Microsoft did in their Windows 8 release event. What really surprised me during the conference though was that for a room full of graphic artists and professionals, all of them were using smartphones to take photographs. I was using a somewhat obsolete Canon Powershot A2000 IS but at least I was using a real camera.
Although my group arrived on time, the huge convention room was full to the brim. The four huge displays were already playing videos about graphic artist professionals and how they used their Adobe products. I was able to watch short videos of a Russian artist, a Japanese/European duo, and an American production team showing off their "creative process." They heavily promoted Adobe's tagline "Create Now" and I have to admit they were laying it on a bit thick – one American lady on the video said she would be dead if she couldn't create. As expected, these "artists" couldn't help but feel self-important as Adobe asked them how they made their artworks.
When the event started, the host taught the audience how to slap the inflatables together. A few minutes later, I found out the American and Australian speakers weren't coming as they were in another country already. I had been receiving emails from Adobe repetitively promoting these guys so I felt it was pretty sloppy that they didn't arrive at all. Thankfully, a fairly competent Chinese team took up the slack and started demonstrating the new features of Adobe Creative Suite 6.
I was most impressed with the performance of Adobe Premiere, which didn't lag at all on the high-end Macbook Pro the presenter was using. There was only one moment a Chinese presenter faltered – a transition trick in the new Dreamweaver release didn't work and needed two scripting edits. The Adobe Flash Professional 6 presentation consisted of a Platypus game that involved popping their balloons so they couldn't get to a mountain of donuts. The audience, which was composed of fairly young professionals and students, hardly responded to the Illustrator CS6, After Effects CS6 and Adobe Edition CS6 demos. There was one point when I saw quite a few people yawning, dozing off, or just playing around with their iPhones and accessing the free wi-fi at the convention center. A huge lady came in halfway through the event and just plopped next to me and spent the rest of the day fiddling with her phone. I was wondering if she was a graphics professional or some passers-by who saw the free Adobe gift bag and wanted to get away from the Shanghai humidity.
Acrobat X Pro didn't get an upgrade so it was surprising that the Adobe team decided not to provide airtime to one product – Adobe Fireworks CS6 (which probably isn't Adobe's bestseller anyway). Not surprisingly, the presenters emphasized that the Creative Suite 6 now fully supported exporting files to Android and iOS tablets and smartphones (the demo displayed many of the resulting designs using his Samsung Galaxy, Blackbery and iPhone). In fact, most of the changes were concentrated on creating media for smartphones and the iPad (Blackberry, WebOS, and Symbian were surprisingly even mentioned!).
As expected, the highlight was Adobe Photoshop CS6 which did have a few neat features. It didn't have any groundbreaking new tool, but like previous Adobe releases have tools that made certain tasks easier (like moving an object from one background to another or managing 3D images). The crowd particularly laughed when the presenter edited a somewhat stocky Caucasian's girth to one resembling Batman's using the revamped Liquify tool. I was personally interested in Adobe InDesign CS6. Besides noticing better support for ePUB, the only real changes they presented was specific export options to specific tablets or smartphones. One InDesign file can be configured to be displayed differently for each tablet product – Kindle Fire, the iPad, 10" Android, iPhone, and 7" Android tablets were all included in the export options. Besides fitting the text and images to the dimensions, users can configure layers, transitions, and how they would all look when the device is viewed horizontally or vertically. Unfortunately, it looks like Adobe didn't improve InDesign's ability to support XML.
It was obvious that half an hour before the Adobe team was done, all the audience was waiting for was the raffle draw. Three lucky contestants were going to win a Wacom Cintiq 24HD, Adobe Photoshop CS6, and an Adobe Creative Suite 6 Design & Web Premium package. Suffice to say, I didn't win any of them and came away wondering if Adobe will ever drop the prices on their products. Even with the discounts they provided for those who attended (which was pretty big at 500RMB), one CS6 suite cost an arm, a leg, and a testicle. Create now? I am, I am – just not with Adobe's latest and greatest quite yet.