by Todd Kopriva
28 July 2008
When the Adobe Developer Connection folks asked me if I would write a short piece about what online resources I thought were best for users of Adobe digital video and audio products, I thought, "Hey, that'll be easy!"—or something less well formed that meant about the same thing. After all, the list of blogs and websites that I read regularly in my job as After Effects documentation lead is a meter long.
Then they dropped the bomb: Pick 10. Or, if you must, pick 20.
Crud. That means that I have to weed out the sites that are only occasionally relevant and the blogs that haven't been updated much lately. I'll start by excluding most of the Flash resources. Yes, Flash and its related services are a huge part of the future (and present!) of digital video, but I'm also pretty sure that other people have those areas covered—and you don't need the After Effects guy telling you about them.
I'm also pretty sure that they didn't want me to just tell you about all the good After Effects resources. So, for an approximately comprehensive list of good and current online After Effects resources, see my blog.
Adobe Community Help
An all-encompassing (or nigh-all-encompassing, anyway) web resource is Adobe Community Help, which is primarily a specialized search engine. This service makes use of the Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) service to narrow the World Wide Web down to the sites that are most relevant to Adobe's customers. A large number of blogs and community sites are included in the search, so you can use this service to search across all relevant resources at once. Adobe Community Help is still in beta, so be sure to use the feedback link to tell us what you think after you've given it a spin.
Adobe Help on the web (aka LiveDocs)
RTFM. 'nuff said. OK, here it is: Adobe Help Resource Center. You can (and should!) leave comments on the HTML LiveDocs pages.
Forums and community websites
The Adobe User-to-User Forums are where users ask questions and other users answer them. Because so many of the users on these forums are experts who like to help people, this works out well for all involved. I get the daily digests of all messages from the forums in my field. You can stay abreast of the tools that interest you by using the Subscribe link on each forum's home page.
Not all of the world's experts on digital video and audio hang out on the Adobe User-to-User forums, however. Some of them hang out in places like these:
Toolfarm and Creative COW offer more than just forums for questions, answers, discussions, and socializing. They both include a vast array of blogs, tutorials, articles, and other resources. What the MoGraph forum lacks in these additional resources, it makes up for in attitude and technical expertise. Mostly attitude.
The ProVideo Coalition (PVC) website is a relatively new entry into the field of expert-run websites about digital video and audio. Whereas Toolfarm, Creative COW, and MoGraph are primarily valuable for their forums and tutorials, the PVC specializes more in deep technical articles and a collection of blogs from a small number of luminaries in the digital video, film, and animation industries. Contributors include Chris and Trish Meyer, Mark Christiansen, Frank Capria, Jim Feeley, Adam Wilt, Mark Curtis, and Scott Gentry.
There are a lot of blogs out there about digital video and audio. Some of them are even regularly updated. In no particular order, here are the few that I think do the best job of keeping me up to date on what's happening in the world of digital video and audio:
- Deeje Cooley's blog: Deeje is the co-creator of Adobe Media Player and is an evangelist for Adobe's video delivery products. His blog does a great job of showing what the future (and wonderful, wonderful present) of video looks like.
- NewTeeVee website: This blog also does a great job of showing what the future of video looks like. They show how some of the pesky details of the present make it a little less wonderful, too.
- Hart Shafer's Dynamic Media blog: Hart is the product manager for Adobe Creative Suite Production Premium edition. He has very insightful things to say about digital video and audio (especially audio).
- Lawson Hancock's Inside Sound blog: Lawson is the product manager for Adobe's digital audio products. Unsurprisingly, he blogs about digital audio technology.
- John Nack's blog: Hey, what's the Photoshop guy's blog doing on here? Well, Photoshop is a video application—and a darned fine one, too. Also, John really knows how to blog. Subscribing to his blog alone would keep you busy and informed for the rest of your life.
- Michael Coleman's Keyframes blog: Michael is the product manager for After Effects. When he's not busy cracking the whip on the After Effects development team and running around the world promoting After Effects, he manages to say some very useful things about After Effects. He's been cracking and running a lot lately, but he promises that he'll blog again very soon. I believe him.
- Bob Donlon's blog: Bob manages Adobe TV. His wide-ranging blog is a great resource for information about Adobe TV and all of the Adobe creative digital video and audio products.
The Layers Magazine website is a terrific source for tutorials, conceptual information, and inspirational material for motion graphics artists and video professionals. I subscribe to its RSS feed and go through the tutorials as they come into my reader along with my daily flow of blog posts. I especially like it when Steve Holmes and Richard Harrington write articles about After Effects, Photoshop, and Flash.
Where to go from here
Normally, the Adobe Developer Connection editors like to end their articles with a section that tells you "where to go from here." Well, I just spent a few pages telling you where to go. So, get on it!