Of course, reputation alone hasn't always carried Adobe. Atmosphere went nowhere and GoLive still lags behind Macromedia's Dreamweaver for Web site creation—but those tools stood somewhat apart from their main product line. Encore, by contrast, is a natural follow-up to Adobe's best performers: Photoshop, Premiere, and After Effects. Can Encore continue the admiration?
With its interface and features, Encore will remind users of Apple's DVD Studio Pro and Sonic's DVD Producer, but its typical $549 Adobe pricing makes Encore far more affordable and may tempt potential buyers of lower-cost authoring solutions—like Pinnacle's Impression Pro (www.emedialive.com/r8/2002/ozer8b_02.html) and Ulead's DVD Workshop (www.emedialive.com/r8/2002/ozer6_02.html) (both $299)—with more professional control. Interestingly, Encore will be Windows-only, and that goes against Adobe's history of cross-platform support. Yet with DVD, Apple is its own best friend and worse enemy. Between the $1000 DVD Studio Pro and ever-improving iDVD (formerly free, the new version 3 is available for $49 as part of Apple's iLife suite), Apple has fine products, but leaves independent software vendors little room to help expand the platform's software choices.
Encore will include menu creation tools similar to those lower-cost products, like a variety of pre-designed menu button and background palettes to assist with creation, but it is no consumer application. To start, all palettes will be customizable. But for professional menu creation, Encore may have no peer, even from DVD Studio Pro's laudable integration with Photoshop. Why? Adobe is putting a substantial part of the Photoshop engine directly into Encore.
Similar to how Photoshop and ImageReady share file formats, layer, and effect support, and can work on each other's files, Encore will work with Photoshop. But where ImageReady functionality really should have been integrated directly inside Photoshop from the start, the partnership works brilliantly here because the disciplines are intertwined, but clearly distinct. Encore will read and perform some edits on PSD files or allow a link back to Photoshop for more detailed changes at any time during authoring. Encore will support PSD layers, like DVD Studio Pro, but with the Photoshop engine on-board, it will also support text, text effects, blends, and everything else and will even effectively flatten a file as part of the final disc image creation. That gains DVD's two-bit sub-picture functionality and eliminates the poor end-user performance caused by swapping full JPG layers.
Naturally, Encore will read Premiere or AfterEffects chapter marks in the timeline and will allow you to edit them or create new ones within the interface. You'll be able to launch Premiere from within Encore to make video editing changes, which are automatically inserted into Encore. Or, if you make an editing change in AfterEffects, Encore will recognize them, too.
You'll get no GPRM or SPRM control, at least not in the first version, nor cell-level commands. But Adobe says Encore will allow robust control of navigation down, including jump anywhere and even which button is highlighted when you get there.
Encore will import anything the Windows Media Player can open, will support drag and drop, and will organize assets in project window much like Premiere or AfterEffects. However, that project view will also provide an effect overview of links, much like Spruce's erstwhile DVDMaestro. There'll be a lot more to look at with Encore once it goes gold master, and EMedia will take a much closer look at that time. But reputation aside, Adobe's advance material for Encore sings a very pretty tune. If the actual product stays on pitch, the DVD authoring world may indeed have a show-stopper.