Review: Adobe Bridge and Adobe Dynamic Link

Submitted by Robert Alstead on Thu, 03/16/2006 - 16:00

One of the highlights for those who use After Effects compositions in their Premiere Pro projects is the introduction in Production Studio of Dynamic Link, which is not a standalone program in itself but the connector between programs. If you make changes to an After Effects composition that is already embedded in Premiere Pro (or Adobe Encore) the changes you made in After Effects show up - dynamically - in those other programs. Under the old system, you would have to re-render the After Effects file then re-import it.

Adobe Dynamic Link also enables you to create a new After Effects composition that conforms with your current project settings from within Encore and Premiere Pro.

This trend toward more efficient integration between different products in Production Studio can also be seen in the way that you can use Premiere Pro to capture video footage from within After Effects - you can even use the "scene detect" button to automatically create new files whenever a break in the footage is found.

Another example, in the audio department: when editing footage in Premiere Pro you can now right click on the audio track and open up the audio file in Audition, edit it, save it and when you return to Premiere there is the edited version of your audio waiting for you.

You can create a new Photoshop file, again that conforms with your current project settings, from within After Effects or Premiere Pro. Photoshop gracefully handles that old chestnut of how to protect the integrity of your artwork created in the square pixel environment of your computer monitor when it is transferred to the oblong or non-square pixel screen of the broadcast/television environment.

With all this integration you'll need plenty of RAM to keep each of the various programs open.

The view from the Bridge

Bridge's resizeable thumbnails and metadata support makes it ideal for viewing large collections of still images or browsing the various templates that ship with each title in Adobe Production Studio.

Production Studio's program for managing files Adobe Bridge also benefits from the stretchy new workspace and customisable workspaces. Bridge is Adobe's response to criticisms that its post-production toolkit lacked organisational tools. While editing, you can choose to browse all your various media assets in a variety of thumbnail previews and drag and drop files into your project.

Adobe Bridge also uses its XMP (Extensible Metadata Platform) file labeling technology, that is based on the open source metadata information that is found in media files. Much of this information, such as date, time, file attributes are embedded when a media file is created by the software in your camera, recorder or authoring program. With Bridge you can set your own custom keywords, colour code, or rate footage on a scale of 1 to 5, and then use those keywords and ratings to parse and organise your files.

Although I'm familiar with this file management format from Adobe Photoshop Elements, I didn't take to Bridge at first. Initially, I found that thumbnails for video files were taking too long to generate - Bridge adds a proxy file to its centralised cache which it then uses to access. Unlike with the standard Windows explorer, no image thumbnails for folder contents show up in Bridge, just a plain folder icon. I found it was a lot easier just to hit Ctl I and import files into programs the old way.

Also, while I can see advantages to tagging a large archive of photographs, so that you can quickly amalgamate them thematically into what Adobe calls "collections" of media grouped by keywords, I don't envisage myself taking the time to add custom keyword meta tags for my video files. Video files don't usually stick around long on my hard drive because of the amount of space video takes up.

However, I've beginning to warm more to Bridge. It's a good starting point to preview and gather media for projects. I like the fact that you can pick a selection of thumbnails and just drag and drop them easily into your open Production Studio program. I'd like to see more of the utilitarian attributes of windows explorer built into Bridge - like an option to view all the file details in a long list (at the moment you have to open explorer in a new view) and the ability to make theumbnails even smaller - but I am beginning to appreciate some of its advantages. I found Bridge's support for video previews helpful when choosing from the animation presets and templates that come with Adobe After Effects 7.0 and for perusing the vector graphic templates (for DVD covers, DVD labels, leaflets, business cards, etc.) that come with Adobe Illustrator 2.0.