On June 17, 2013, Adobe released the latest upgrade to its bundle of creative software in the form of Adobe Creative Cloud. This is a meteoric shift from Adobe’s former packages under the Adobe Creative Suite moniker. The Creative Cloud contains all the familiar applications, upgraded to meet new technical and creative demands, it also offers everything else. Creative Cloud offers applications and services that weren't offered in the Creative Suite packages. Creative Cloud is more than a software service, it is a platform built to encourage innovation and collaboration. An apparent trend throughout the Creative Cloud is the increased integration of applications through online services. This may create some new and more efficient workflows. For more on the specific application upgrades as they pertain to the video professional and enthusiast, check out the article, "Adobe Creative Cloud" in this issue.
The video community responded to the Creative Cloud shift with mixed emotions. There were many voices of outrage and disappointment. The software, services, and their capabilities aren’t the point of contention. It’s the shift to a software subscription from the conventional purchase options that has users in an uproar. Some of the outrage can be tempered with an objective view of the subscription services, as well as the pricing, but a consistent point of dissent is based on the principle of subscribing or “renting” the software.
Purchasing Options Revisited
The launch of Adobe Creative Cloud, as the sole means of delivery for Adobe's latest creative software, generated a great deal of debate because of one major change, how the software is purchased and distributed. Prior to Creative Cloud, Creative Suites were released in various packages based on a perpetual software license. The licensee would purchase the software and the purchase would allow the user to use that edition of the software so long as they didn’t transfer that license to another party. It was buy once and use it indefinitely. When upgrades were released, the license holder had the option to purchase a software upgrade or continue on with their current version of the software. Users who wanted to remain current with their software would purchase the upgrade and users who felt they possessed what they needed were able to skip the upgrades without having to make further purchases.
Adobe Creative Cloud is a complete move away from this traditional model. Creative Cloud is offered only as a subscription, on either an annual or monthly basis. Adobe offers subscriptions to the entire Creative Cloud or to isolated applications as well. Single application subscriptions make sense for users of one particular application who might have the occasional need for another application. An example would be the artist who works out of Photoshop and doesn't use any of the other Creative Cloud applications, but may have the need to build a website. If this were the case, they could subscribe to Adobe Muse CC for a month and build their site. Regardless of which Creative Cloud subscription is purchased, there is never a cost for upgrading. Upgrades are automatic and available upon release as part of the Creative Cloud membership.
Adobe offers subscriptions to the entire creative cloud or to isolated applications.
The initial cost of a full Creative Cloud subscription is drastically lower than the purchase of CS6 under the perpetual license model. Adobe’s CS6 Master Edition, which contained every application in the Creative Suite, is most comparable to a full Creative Cloud subscription. Over an extended period of time, more than three years, the amount of money paid for a Creative Cloud subscription will eventually supercede the amount that was paid for the Creative Suite with a perpetual license. Since upgrades are included at no extra cost in a Creative Cloud subscription, depending on how often you would upgrade the Creative Suite, the Creative Cloud should be less expensive than the perpetual license of an old Creative Suite. That all assumes you’d use the Master Collection, however, say you purchased CS6 Production Premium for $1,900, unless you’d require an upgrade within three years, the perpetual license makes sense.
Creative Cloud boasts a number of new applications and services which were never included in the Creative Suite, meaning it’s a larger offering. For instance, the Behance ProSite is included, but would otherwise cost $99 per year. The trend appears to be that Adobe will continue to increase the services offered with a CC membership. As it stands, a Creative Cloud membership is less expensive for an Adobe customer who wants access to the full gamut of Adobe applications and likes to keep their software upgraded. The customer who is at a disadvantage is the one who intends to purchase one application, with few plans to upgrade it. Adobe is still offering CS6 for sale and at the moment is planning to do so indefinitely.
How It Works
Adobe did away with delivery through the traditional means of physical media. Some users are concerned about how the software works by the lack of physical media and where the software exists by the connotation of “cloud” in the title. The answer is simple, the software exists on the users computer, it’s installed after it’s downloaded, and the user does not have to be continually connected to the Web to operate it. Creative Cloud members with a year-long subscription are able to operate the software offline for 99 days before the software will need to validate their license. Members on a monthly subscription need to be connected once every 30 days. There is special pricing on the Creative Cloud applications that can be purchased through Adobe’s respective education and government stores for those who work in those respective fields and are unable to connect to the Internet.
One of the biggest additions to Creative Cloud is its online service. Creative Cloud members are able to login to their account through any modern Web browser. There are three main areas that the user can browse with their online account. The first is Files, this area is a graphical user interface of all folders and files the user has uploaded to the Creative Cloud for storage and sharing, this is cloud storage. As a Creative Cloud member you’re able to upload files by dragging and dropping files from your desktop into the application. From there, you can move files around, organize folders, and share links of uploaded files with other people. These features are convenient if you are working in more than one location or using more than one computer. Creative Cloud members are able to share files with clients and to give them previews of the project. Non-Creative Cloud members are able to view shared files through a browser which allows them to turn on and off layers, view metadata, and comment on the files. A Creative Cloud membership receives 20GB of online storage. If a member cancels their subscription, they won’t lose their files. The files remain online and are still accessible through the Creative Cloud. The second online area of the Creative Cloud is the Download Center. It provides links to every application offered as part of a Creative Cloud membership. Users are able to download from this page, as well as gain access to Creative Cloud services.
The third and final area of the Creative Cloud is the Learn area. Under this tab Creative Cloud members have access to a library of training videos, categorized under application of the Creative Cloud. The majority of the videos are introductory tutorials to Creative Cloud applications, many of which may not be familiar to every user. With the increased integration of Creative Cloud applications it’s helpful to have focused learning available for the entire cast of programs.
Creative Cloud members are able to sync their program settings with their Creative Cloud account through the individual programs. This includes preferences, presets, workspaces, keyboard shortcuts, swatches, and more, contingent upon the application. Users are able to use their synced settings on multiple machines whether in the same building or in separate cities.
Video Takes Flight
Creative Cloud represents a new model in which software is no longer just a product, but a service and a platform as well. A Creative Cloud membership empowers the user to utilize tools they may have never touched before. Video is only a portion of the entire Creative Cloud package but it is evident that Adobe is committed to the video community and sees video as a valued asset to be integrated into today’s technology. There’s a trend of video moving away from physical media and launching solely from the Web, along with mobile devices, for delivery. For users who normally skip upgrade cycles, this is a tough increase in overall cost. For those on board with the subscription-based model, Adobe Creative Cloud serves as a strong foundation for giving flight to video across multiple infrastructures.
Chris “Ace” Gates is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer.