Adobe’s Subscription Model/Creative Cloud

Posted on February 15, 2012

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I was leafing through the Internet skimming the various news and something stood out in that news: Adobe has created a product called “the Creative Cloud” and it is available for as little as $49 per month. Hmmm…. It makes one think how they are doing this and how they can do this unless they aren’t giving the whole story in their descriptions.  The cost has be to a lot higher for everything they are offering.

A little background is in order. Adobe released their subscription licensing late last year. The lowest end Photoshop is $39/month with a one year commitment (without the one year commitment, it is $49/month). The various products range in price from $19/month to $75/month depending on the product. That doesn’t include anything else. The subscription plan was created with the thought that it would keep their customer’s current with their software, and assure them a solid revenue stream from those customers. What has happened, because the expense of Adobe’s software, people tend to buy a single product and stick with it until there is a feature or option that they need then they upgrade or buy a new version. This is why you will find people still using Photoshop version 6 or teh older Macromedia versions of Dreamweaver. For instance, if you are a person who still is using their CS4 products (or older products), then you aren’t considered a customer – their customers are those who are using the CS5 or CS5.5 product. By keeping more customers current, this reduces Adobe’s support costs. It also makes it easier for those who teach or  train on their products because they won’t have as many people asking about “how do I do that on ” such and such version of the Adobe product . Adobe encourages trainers to only teach the most recent products. At the beginning of the year, Adobe stopped selling subscriptions to their CS suite products to encourage people to subscribe to their cloud subscription product, even though the cloud product isn’t available. Once Adobe’s cloud product is available, the CS suite subscriptions already out there will be converted into a cloud subscription.

The Adobe cloud is supposed to include much more and many applications than their base product. Adobe claims that whomever has it can explore, create, and publish with all their apps, iPad apps, and just about anything else they can throw into the mix to make it tantalizing (including keeping data sync’d between all your devices and their cloud, immediate updates to software and its features, and a lot more). All for as little as $49 per month.

Well, there is a lot of hype in this product, and can’t see it being a reality without a lot more expense involved to the customers who do use it.  If you haven’t guessed, the “cloud” hype is something I don’t like because the “cloud” type of service has been out there since before the Internet was created. There are many pros and cons to its use – I won’t be covering these in this post. What is new is that most home and business users now have the bandwidth to be able to use hosted services unlike anything before. Even Adobe states that the bandwidth isn’t enough to host their applications – you still have to install a copy on your local system to use the application. Worse, there are multiple sign on IDs for you when  you use their services: the Adobe ID and the Business Catalyst ID. I am not clear when or how the Business Catalyst ID helps other than references that this product will “build and manage your business online”. Several of their beta products require this ID, but I have yet to subscribe to this service.  All I can see is $$$$ for Adobe and how things will cost us so much more. Unfortunately, I can see this happening with other software and products that are out there from other software vendors.

I also have to interject something here, too, about the origins of Open Source software. You may hear this as FOSS or free and open source software. One of the largest repositories of open source software is SourceForge.net.  These high licensing and subscription costs from software vendors were the motivators for people breaking out and developing their own software that is free to combat the expense of companies that were charging large subscription fees for the software and very restrictive licensing agreements. Today, many open source projects are started because of an “itch” that someone has because a need isn’t being met. I suspect that this type of licensing from Adobe will push more people onto Open Source products that are out there like GIMP, Paint.net, and CinePaint.

I also have to mention here that the Adobe MUSE product that is included in the cloud service will change the way websites are created. Muse is the codename for a new kind of website editor that works like a high end page layout program – You create a template for your text and other media to go into, and then set the properties, then export the web pages into a current version of HTML. I was very impressed at the concepts and anyone who has used a high end page layout program shouldn’t have a problem using this product without any training. Everyone else probably need to walk through a simple written tutorial that would take no more than an hour to complete, and you all will be using the software like an expert. As with most beta software like this, the released products don’t always have all the features and functionality that their beta packages have had. I will be keeping an eye on this package and what it offers in the future.

<img class=”alignright” title=”Mariah bokeh image” src=”http://galleries.xoind.com/photos/i-qLhPhZC/0/S/i-qLhPhZC-S.jpg&#8221; alt=”Mariah bokeh image” width=”200″ height=”300″ />Bokeh is a word that many photographers use. But, are they using it correctly? It is a word used to describe the quality of the blur you get from a specific lens. Some people pay a lot of money for a lens with good bokeh – but is it really noticeable?  To me, it is. Take for instance, the image at the right. The blur on the image is created only by the lens – none of it is photoshop. What do you think of it? I have a bigger copy of the same image on my <a title=”Link to Mariah bokeh image – her face” href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/xoind/6894795999/in/photostream&#8221; target=”_blank”>Flickr</a>. If you look carefully, you can see the focus plane extends from the top of the model’s head to the bottom. But, that isn’t what we are interested. Instead, look at how the blur occurs over the skin closer and further away as it moves further out of focus. That blur is the bokeh.

The other type of bokeh is the type that talks about how bright light is rendered when it is out of focus. Most often, any lights that are out of focus render as spots based on the blades of the aperture. A few images are posted below. One of the interesting effects that you see with highlights or hot spots with mirror lenses is a “ring” effect bokeh (often referred to as a “doughnut” by those who own them).  An example of this can be found on Mike King’s Flickr page of a <a title=”Wind board surfer with doughnut highlights” href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikekingphoto/5394380056/&#8221; target=”_blank”>wind board surfer</a> on the ocean. But, this isn’t the bokey we will be showing how to photograph in this blog entry.

Instead, we will be working with a regular lens type of bokeh and how it reproduces dots of light. There are two things we will be doing to ‘create’ a bokeh.

The first is taking and bluring the lights, most often Christmas lights (or similar types of point source lights), in the background. You will need a relatively large aperture lens – something with F2, F1.8, or larger. The easiest way to do this  method is creating a setup with the lights in a dark area behind your subject about 10-15 feet. I recommend doing this at night when it is dark out. The second is illuminating your subject from the sides (maybe a 45 degree angle from the front) so that you don’t light up where the Christmas lights are located. Key to this is keeping the aperture wide open at first, and then play with the aperture of the lens to get just the right amount of blur you want on the Christmas lights. Depending on the focal length and the distance to your subject, the amount of blur will be different. A note on cheaper lenses, the shape changes from a circle to a shape with the number of blades (typically five or seven) you have making up the aperture in your lens because the aperture isn’t perfectly round at the smaller sizes.  Some examples of this are below.

The second technique builds on this one by creating a mask of a specific shape to put on the front of your lens like a filter. By doing this, the shape of the lights then becomes that shape. Some of those are below.

All information and images are ©2012 Don Krajewski on this post.

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