Creative Pro Hardware and Software

Posted by Donna Rouviere Anderson May 26, 2015

In a previous blog, we covered the basic equipment we use in our multimedia business when we are on the road. This week’s blog, which runs through the hardware and software that we use, overlaps somewhat with that earlier blog, but concentrates on an affordable core suite of software and hardware for small media operations. This is what we use and how we use it: 

Hardware - We run our business on the Apple train and have done so for about 20 years. Apple machinery keeps things simple so we can concentrate on creative work. We use 13-inch Macbook Pros which we swap out every three years, 27-inch Apple monitors, an iPad to test web and app products on and iPhones.  

Adobe’s Creative Cloud software package is by far the best  for creative professionals. The package entitles the user to use any of Adobe’s main software products for $53 per month. We can download or update new Adobe software and access Adobe support any time from any location. Adobe’s products are highly integrated with each other and with other third-party software that we use. Our business is so dependent on Adobe that we try to avoid third-party software in favor of Adobe products as much as we can. When we do have to use third-party software, a major factor in our choice is whether it is integrated with the Adobe stable.

On a daily basis, we use the following Adobe products:

  • Photoshop – Adobe is the industry standard for editing photographs (i.e. raster graphics). We use it extensively for photo editing, but also for matte painting, preparing graphics for video purposes, copying and enhancing historical documents, preparing photos for web and print purposes, restoring damaged documents and images, batch processing hundreds of photographs and processing and enhancing reference materials for 3D animation.
  • Illustrator – Illustrator is Adobe’s vector graphic program and one of our main workhorses. We use it for web and print graphics - mockups and wireframes for websites, ads and images for videos, icon and logo creation and map and infographic creation.
  • Bridge – I use this digital asset management app so constantly that I keep it open almost all of the time. I organize assets for books and apps, metatag, rate and archive photos and other graphics, make contact sheets to send to clients and search for photos in Bridge. I also use Bridge to navigate through my huge library of graphic assets, reference materials, patterns and textures used in 3D animation and other projects. I even use it every morning to sort and clean out documents on my desktop.

On a less frequent (several times a week) basis, I use Adobe’s video software as well as Cinema 4D:

  • Premiere Pro is Adobe’s video editing software. I use it alone for straight video editing as well as with other Adobe and third-party products. It is integrated with Photoshop, so I can bring still images and graphics from Photoshop into Premiere Pro to add to video projects. I then can return to Photoshop to edit images and graphics as needed during the course of assembling and refining a video.
  • I also use Adobe Speedgrade, a tool for color correction and developing the look of video clips. It also is integrated with Premiere so I can switch back and forth between the two as needed.
  • Adobe Media Encoder is a related Adobe tool that outputs Premiere Pro video projects for various purposes such as YouTube, broadcast, film, etc.
  • Adobe After Effects is a visual effects, motion graphics and compositing application that is integrated with both Premiere Pro and Photoshop, but it also represents an entire community of third-party providers of effects that make it even more versatile. It also integrates with Cinema 4D, the non-Adobe 3D animation software we use. The powerful combination of all of this software enables us to combine video, motion graphics, animation and special effects within a single laptop and upload the result to a website or Youtube.
  • Cinema 4D is probably the most affordable full-fledged 3D animation program for a small shop. As well as using it for animation, I use it to make still 3D graphics for infographics that can then be finished out in Photoshop and Illustrator and made interactive in Edge Animate. 

On a much less frequent basis, we use several software products that are invaluable when we need them for specialty purposes:

  • Adobe Story is video script writing software.
  • ScreenFlow enables us to make training and other screencasts.
  • Adobe Edge Animate is a web animation program that enables a non-programmer (that would be me) to create animated and interactive slideshows, infographics and other similar projects without knowing a lot of code. It uses HTML, CSS and Javascript on the back end, so that Edge products can be uploaded to the web and used in apps. We use it for interactive infographics, web animation and website slideshows that contain animation.
  • InDesign is Adobe’s page layout program, but it goes way beyond laying out books. We have used it for interactive PDFs and for an Adobe Digital Suite interactive app.
  • We use Adobe Lightroom, a photo organizing and editing program, to organize and upload stock photos to the web.
  • Adobe Acrobat Pro, the pdf creation program, is a frequent workhorse in our stable. We use it to send a variety of mockups to clients, from ads and website wireframes and page designs to logo designs and photo contact sheets.
  • We use a Wacom tablet and software for precise creative graphic design and digital painting.
  • I manage my collection of more than 1,000 fonts, web and print, in Font Book.
  • As mentioned in the earlier blog on travel, we run the project management part of our website on Omni’s suite of organizational apps. We plan our schedules and keep track of projects in OmniFocus. We use OmniOutliner for our various project workflows. We do site maps and organizational charts in OmniGraffle and project plans in OmniPlan.

We use Microsoft Word to write and collect research materials. 

We use three main browsers – Safari, Google Chrome and Firefox - to test our products and navigate the web and also check other browsers as needed when testing projects.

Superduper! keeps our backups current, and we use Skype to communicate remotely with colleagues and clients on projects.

We store our passwords in 1Password.

This list doesn’t include the coding software that our technical director, Forrest Anderson, uses or our financial software. That is for another blog.