Adobe Releases Creative Cloud 2015

Adobe this week released Creative Cloud 2015.  The release means new versions of everything in Creative Cloud 2014 including bug fixes and new features.  If you are a Creative Cloud, or Creative Cloud Photographer's Bundle subscriber you get it as part of your subscription.  The real question is what's in it that you just have to have?

I'm going to keep this post mostly to the photographer's bundle, primarily because that's what readers of The Photo Video Guy are interested in.  Enhancements abound in other applications, but this is not the right place for all of that, with the exception of Premiere Pro.

Lightroom CC 2015 / 6

Let's start with Lightroom CC.  And I do mean CC.  Owners of Lightroom 6 got the fixes but not the enhancements.  I cannot say that I, and Adobe, didn't warn you.

Bug Fixes

As one would expect, there are bug fixes in the release, and the big benefactors are folks using Fujifilm cameras with the Trans-X sensor.  This sensor is unique in design and RAW decoding from Fuji's format has consistently left users with significant belief that there was room for improvement.  It looks better, but I won't know how much better until I do some in depth comparisons from the X-T1 and X100t in a bit.

Chromatic aberration bugs have been addressed, as have crashes when working with some JPEG files.  They say that they have addressed a "slow to start" problem.  I would agree that Lightroom is no longer glacial in startup but it's still not fast.  It's improved from an F to a D+.  There were plainly a number of issues with the new GPU functionality and there are many tweaks to this service.  We will also see a fix to the Pano and HDR merge functions that will no longer force a destructive crop.  The Pano function is decent, but I have personally given up on the HDR function as it is nowhere near as good as the Merge to HDR Pro in Photoshop option, with very little time saving and too much haloing for my taste.


The enhancements only apply to Lightroom CC.  If you have Lightroom 6, you don't get them.

Most widely yakked about is Dehaze, a new slider in the Effects module.  It works quite well for light to moderate haze, but doesn't do much for images shot through glass or plexiglass.  It's a simple basic slider that plays with levels and curves in the background to address haze.  It is certainly faster than manual, but anyone who is accustomed to the outright magic of DXO Optics' Clearview module will be underwhelmed.  I equate Dehaze to the built in HDR, ok for some things, but insufficient for very serious work.

You can now do local adjustments on the blacks and whites sliders in the Radial and Gradient filters as well as in local Adjustment Brush settings.  A very nice addition to have that may further reduce the need to jump to Photoshop and start building masks and layers.

Support was added for a number of cameras as well.  Added are the Fujifilm X-T10, Nikon 1 J5, Nikon D810A, Lumix DMC-G7, Pentax K-S2 and Pentax K3.  It's not clear if new camera support came to Lightroom 6 in the documentation, but I can confirm that they are there, although LR seems to have some trouble identifying the camera and lens used from frame to frame.  A number of new lenses were added as well for profile based corrections.

Photoshop CC 2015

Photoshop CC 2015 has a new splash screen.  While you are looking at it, you can be thinking about all the plugins you are going to have to manually move to the new install, because the current installer appears to have been written by people who have never done an installer before.  Plugins don't get moved. some brushes you've added don't get moved, certain actions don't get moved, you get the picture.  SO DON'T BE IN A BIG FREAKING HURRY TO UPGRADE IF YOU'RE ON A DEADLINE.  Allow plenty of time to do triage after the fact to discover what isn't working.

There is a lot of new stuff, as one might hope, but if you are dependent on an old version, be sure to go into the Options button before clicking UPGRADE because the default behaviour is to remove all older versions without even asking you.  For this installation screwup, the product management group that approved this release all need to see a medical professional to address an apparently serious case of group cranio-rectal inversion.  Yes, some people were confused when the 2014 releases installed BESIDE the original CC releases. but you could always choose to uninstall after the fact.  The new installer defaults to ERASE WITHOUT NOTIFICATION.  This is so fundamentally idiotic, someone seriously needs to be moved to somewhere they can do less harm.  I've already taken a number of panicked calls from clients and students that start along the lines of "It's all gone!!!"

So after you recover, what's new.  Well you get ACR 9.1 which is as we know, the Develop engine of Lightroom CC with a less pleasant interface.  You also get Artboards that allow you to mock up layouts of the same content for different devices, a significant enhancement to how Layer Styles work and can be used, enhancements to Creative Cloud Libraries making them easier to use, and enhancements to 3D printing and imaging.  Brand new is Adobe Stock, a set of stock assets you can use in your projects,  By stock I mean protected, so you still have to license them if you want to use them in production and to remove the watermarks.  There is a new Glyphs panel, because you probably didn't have enough Glyph access before and also a new function in the Blur Gallery to add more noise to blurred areas to make them look more realistically blurry.

If these things don't make you excited, get on the bus because this second list is, for my work at least, much more compelling.  The Healing Brush now heals in real time, no beachball.  Content Aware Move now invokes a Transform option so you can do a transformation in a Move.  Photo merge now has a Content Aware Fill for transparent areas option, a handy way to automate what you were probably doing manually.  Image Adjustments used to be destructive but if you make the layer a smart object before using them, the adjustments load as smart filters.  A very good step as many users would cringe to go to Image Adjustments knowing that once baked, it was done.

It's a more compelling upgrade than Lightroom but it should be since Lightroom CC is less than two months old.  Call this evolutionary, not revolutionary.

Premiere Pro CC 2015

This is The Photo Video Guy after all so if I ignored Premiere Pro completely, I'd been missing things.  Premiere Pro is a terrific editing app but has consistently gotten flack because you had to jump around between other CC apps for functions not in Premiere Pro.

The biggest deal is the addition of support for Lumetri panels.  In the past you could only construct Lumetri panels and export them from Speedgrade CC, Adobe's colour grading app.  Now Premiere Pro CC 2015 includes a number of Lumetri presets, and you can apply them by dragging the one you want onto the clip in question.  You will still need Speedgrade to create new ones, and make major changes, but this function will save editors time and grief.

Also new is an enhancement to the Masking and Tracking capability.  In the past you would use it in a talking head video to blur the face of someone so the audience wouldn't know who the person was.  Now you can change their eye colour, give them a tan or do some basic makeup effects.

Another tool, designed specifically for talking head video is a tool to help when you have to cut a bunch of ahhhs or ummmms leaving the remaining footage looking jerky.  Morph Cut only works with faces and is only really effective when the face is in the same relative position, but it's a step forward particularly when editing footage with unprepared talent.

These enhancements are definitely positive steps to put more function directly in Premiere Pro.  I call this a needed upgrade.