What Is Creative Cloud: Adobe and Alternatives for Indie Filmmakers

Rewriting the rules.


Why the shift to a subscription model?

Last Wednesday night I wrapped an editing project, closed Premiere Pro, and noticed that the Adobe Creative Cloud Desktop application had “New Updates” to install… 11 of them. I followed the notification through to the “App” pane, where I was informed that the 2014 Release of Adobe Creative Cloud was available for download.

A bit of research revealed that this release includes 14 new apps and hundreds of new and revitalized features across the board. For example, in Premiere, Adobe has introduced support for additional native formats, the ability to apply an effect at the Master Clip level, effect masking and tracking capabilities, and Live Text templates directly within the program.

Not one month ago, I was juggling text comps in Premiere and After Effects. Built-in Live Text Templates would have saved time and frustration. Suffice it to say that, although I’ve yet to study the full list of Premiere 2014’s changes, I’m confident that they constitute an important step forward, demonstrating that Adobe is listening to its users.

The door opened for Adobe when Apple released Final Cut Pro X in 2011. This new version of Apple’s flagship video editing software turned out to be a disaster: no support for old FCP 7 projects, no XML import/output, no multicam support, and limited plugin support, among other limitations. Apple since has addressed many of these limitations, but not before countless professionals jumped off what they deemed to be a sinking ship and into the lifeboats of Apple’s primary competitors: Avid, a longtime industry standard, and Adobe, the dark horse of the editing software race.

In October 2011, Adobe rewrote the rules with its announcement of Creative Cloud, a hub that grants access to its creative tools – Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere, and many others – as a subscription service. In 2013, CS6 was declared the final iteration of Adobe’s Creative Suite, and so the company retired its perpetual licensing business model.

Initially, this shift to subscription-pricing-only stirred tremendous controversy. While it is still a concern for some, my experience of Adobe has been that it makes good on its promises. Creative Cloud has enabled Adobe to release enhancements throughout the year instead of on the roughly 18 month cycle intrinsic to the perpetual licensing business model (for an in-depth discussion of how and why, check out Christina Warren’s article on Mashable). Creative Cloud 2014 is a massive release, but smaller updates as well as the ongoing integration of services like TypeKit and Behance have extended its reach in the interim.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that Avid announced subscription options for its creative tools at this year’s NAB, although for the time being, the perpetual licensing option will remain. This suggests that the demand for affordability and development accommodated by the subscription model is growing. Creative Cloud’s continuing success is another signpost; Adobe expects to have 3.3 million subscribers, up from its longstanding prediction of 3 million, by the end of fiscal 2014.

For the user, the icing on the cake is that Creative Cloud is simple to access and maintain. All of Adobe’s tools are managed in one place. You can even access and install older versions of the tools from within the Creative Cloud Desktop application, including CS6 versions.

So what does all of this mean for the indie filmmaker?

Well, I’m a big believer in Adobe because both personal experience and observation suggest that they’re attuned to our creative and (arguably) financial needs. In fact, Adobe was at Sundance 2014 to engage with filmmakers on subjects such as microcinema (it is interesting to note that 133 out of the 187 accepted films “used Adobe software for part or all of their post-production work”).

Ultimately, though, every filmmaker must choose the software that best suits his or her needs. I’ve chosen Adobe. Avid and Final Cut have their merits, too. What matters is that the access and power we have at our disposal today is lightyears beyond that which was available to us even a few years ago.

I remember cutting on Pinnacle Studio 8 in the early 2000s… I remember those late, nail-biting nights as I would hope and pray that my latest project would render without crashing. Now we can run professional post ecosystems with relative ease and stability in our pajamas at home. Increasingly, tech is decreasingly a bar to entry, and I’m excited for future advancements to continue to close the space between my tools and my ideas.

Are you in favor of perpetual licensing or a subscription-pricing-only model when it comes to access to your creative tools?

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 Michael Koehler, with

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