By Larry Jordan (doddleNEWS)
Recently, I was sitting in Studio City, CA, in a hotel restaurant, chatting with members of the development team for Adobe Audition: Durin Gleaves, product manager, along with Nico Becherer and Charles Van Winkle, lead engineers for Adobe Audition.
“When we think about the future of Audition,” said Van Winkle, “we think about it in two ways: simplification and integration. For example, the new Essential Sound Panel simplifies typical audio mixing tasks, while the new Dynamic Link with Premiere simplifies integration between the two applications.”
“It’s no longer an issue of audio quality,” continued Durin. “When you compare the audio quality of Audition with ProTools, for example, the quality is the same. What we are working on now is how to make the audio tools inside Audition more accessible.”
There were two reasons for my visit, first, I wanted to learn more about the new Essential Sound Panel (ESP) in the latest version of Audition, then, second, I wanted to get a sense of where Adobe was going with it in the future. Durin and his team graciously agreed to the meeting.
The new ESP is the result of the Audition team thinking about how to make complex audio filters more accessible to video editors and others who may not be familiar with traditional audio tools. What the ESP does is provide easy, slider access to key presets to simplify the process of getting audio to sound better, without diminishing the power of the product for use by a professional audio engineer.
“I was working on a 48-hour Film Festival project recently,” said Charles. “And all I had time to do was get the audio levels to balance. ESP is designed so that even when time is short, you have the tools and interface to improve the quality of your sound.”
NOTE: To learn more about the Essential Sound Panel, please join my free webinar this week on July 27. Register here.
“What we’re seeing right now,” said Durin, “is a convergence of key tools into Adobe Premiere. This started with integrating core SpeedGrade tools, then After Effects, and now, Audition. This doesn’t mean that Audition is going away, but, rather, that we are trying to share code between our various applications to simplify the process of moving data from one place to another.”
In the past, films were made by teams of people: editors for picture, audio engineers for sound and colorists for color grading. Now, as filmmaking expands far beyond the limits of Hollywood, increasing numbers of productions are being edited and finished by one person. That individual is responsible for video editing, sound repair and mixing, color grading and final delivery. Adobe is trying to make it easy for someone who doesn’t know color grading, or motion effects, or audio to still get professional results, while providing professionals in each field with the tools they need to get more complex jobs done.
“This doesn’t means that we will put all our features into one application,” said Charles. “That doesn’t make sense. What this means is that we can share code between applications to make it easy to transfer data from one application to another, while each application is focused on providing the best interface and tools for the job at hand. In Audition’s case, this means audio.”
A good illustration of this is Adobe’s recent update to Audition, where Premiere can send a project file to Audition for mixing, without first rendering the movie. Behind the scenes, Audition is using a “headless” version of Premiere as a video server, sending frames from Premiere directly to Audition. This means that if you move a clip in Premiere, that change is instantly reflected in Audition, without having to reexport the file or create a new reference movie.
At a recent SF Cutters meeting, Al Mooney speculated that it would be great if that communication could be two-way, where Premiere is able to get audio directly from Audition.
The reason this interchange is so desirable is that every time you convert a project from one format, say, Premiere, into an interchange format, say OMF or XML, settings get slightly altered. Then, when converting from XML back into Audition native, those settings can get altered again. If Adobe can find a way to seamlessly moves files between apps, without using a conversion process, both speed and accuracy will improve.
However, as Charles remarked, “creating that transfer process is not trivial.”
Unlike other audio applications created by companies that start with the letter “A,” the audio and video teams at Adobe talk to each other. In fact, Nico and Charles are listed near the top of the engineering credits for both Audition and Premiere.
“Adobe’s focus with Audition is to service the video business,” said Durin. “This doesn’t mean we are ignoring Audition’s long history with broadcast radio, or its uses in creating music, but we see the biggest opportunity in helping the video community make their audio sound better.”
Charles agreed, “Our goal is to make audio for video as good as possible. That means improving the application itself and enabling it to play nicely with others. This is why Nico and I are traveling this week. We want to ask customers what they need and how we can make our application better.”
When I asked Durin why someone should consider Audition, as opposed to ProTools, he said: “It’s simpler to use, faster, designed for video mixing, enables one person to accomplish what used to take a team, user friendly and provides a wider range of hardware support.”
“We were visiting a ProTools shop in New York last October,” Durin continued. “And I asked them, since they were devoted to ProTools, why they were even talking with us. And they said: ‘Because you asked for our opinion, you listen to what we need, and you make changes to your software that makes our work better and easier. The other guys don’t do that.’”
Thanks, guys, for your time.
(This article originally ran at LarryJordan.com.)