What about Ultra?
Production Premium CS3 and Master Collection CS3 for Windows included a program called Ultra CS3, which is used for keying and virtual sets. In fact, Ultra existed as a separate program for many years, made by a small company called Serious Magic. Adobe acquired Serious Magic in 2006.
So, with the announcement of CS4 last week, people have been emailing me, wondering what’s going on with Ultra for CS4. Here’s the scoop:
The short answer is that Adobe still owns the technology, and is looking at ways of better integrating the keying and sets into the overall workflow experience. In CS3, Ultra was still outside the rest of the suite, and was not integrated at all. To do any keying, the user had to leave Premiere Pro or AE, and move into this different program, save clips, and then import the new clips back into AE or Premiere. Plus, the program was heavily tied to Windows-based technologies, like DirectX. This had always prevented creating a Mac version, and made any Mac workflow nearly impossible.
Since CS3 release, the keyer from Ultra was integrated into 2 other Adobe products – Visual Communicator 3, and Premiere Elements.
Visual Communicator 3, released last fall, has the full vector keyer control of Ultra built into it, along with some simplified virtual sets with 3 camera angles. Visual Communicator 3 also enables the vector keyer for live use, so a single computer can key 3 cameras, match different backgrounds for each camera, and stream the result out live to the internet via Flash.
Premiere Elements 7, just released last month, has a new feature called VideoMerge, which includes the vector keyer from Ultra, along with new use enhancements to make it even easier to key. VideoMerge happens right in the editing process, so there’s no need to leave editing and jump into a separate program or mode.
On the Professional side, we want to integrate the Ultra technology into places like After Effects and Premiere Pro, but with all the other changes happening in CS4, Adobe did not make this happen in this cycle. So, for CS4, the Ultra technology is kind of “sleeping” (but not dead.) There are already meetings happening to plan how to integrate Ultra into the Production Premium applications in the next release.