Adobe Bridge CS4
Adobe Systems, USA
Bridge is media management software
Next version release:
Most likely late 2010
LEARN, The Catalogue
Post a question to Media Centre
Bridge is an easy-to-use media manager and file organisation software which allows the user to browse, locate and view files in scaleable thumbnail formats. It is especially handy for designers and Creative Suite users as it facilitates the viewing of many graphic filetypes such as AI, IND and RAW. It also performs batch processing and metadata tagging tasks.
Bridge's primary functions are oriented towards file management and organisation. To this end, the software is especially handy for:
1. Viewing and renaming documents.
2. File conversion (esp. RAW) and file sorting
3. Batch-processing can be simply and quickly achieved. Where previously a user might batch process using Photoshop, similar tasks (rotating images for example) can be completed in Bridge more efficiently. Scripts can be incorporated into Bridge in order to speed or complexify the batch processing tasks, though this will require prior loading of the script into the graphics menu. It is also possible to batch process documents across multiple Creative Suite programs. See Bridge Scripts.
4. Metadata editing (EXIF) can be completed to include per-document information such as copyright info, captions, etc. This can also be completed for multiple documents (batch processing ). Metadata is edited via panels and "File Info" windows and solid integration with other Creative Suite software means that this metadata is contained as the document moves through various other programs (Photoshop , Illustrator etc).
5. Database creation is achieved by exporting metadata directly to Excel formats. This can be very handy when long lists of documents are needed.
Additionally, one of the advantages of Bridge is that is performs decent photo editing tasks very similar to Photoshop's contrast, colour saturation, colour correction, tone etc. This means that RAW files can be viewed in Bridge and edited there before importing the file into Photoshop for further post-processing.
Also, Bridge produces contact sheets and slide shows easily and quickly.
Similar to Bridge in terms of functionality is Adobe Lightroom and Capture One.
Bridge outputs primarily documents and files and Excel data lists.
Bridge uses the standard Adobe logic found in other Creative Suite products. The interface is therefore very intuitive and friendly to users familiar with this logic. Even users new to the Adobe way of working will not have any hassles getting up and running in Bridge thanks to easily customisable sliding-bar panels and graphic menus. Bridge's interface operates best at full screen.
Bridge, as a file management software, is naturally highly interoperable. This is especially the case with other Creative Suite products. Almost all filetypes can be viewed in Bridge in the same manner that Windows Explorer views filetypes. Note that Bridge does not import documents, only views and organises them. Importantly for visual artists, Bridge views RAW files something which Windows Explorer doesn't as yet do (except with specific plug-ins). This constitutes a significant advantage for higher-quality photo manipulation. Most save and export functions within Bridge link directly into the associated Creative Suite program.
Over and above those strengths and weaknesses listed already, Bridge at present is:
+ + Very good at reducing time when organising files and optimising workflow
+ + Very well integrated with other Creative Suite programs
+ Good at creating sequences of images (contact sheet) is far easier than in Photoshop.
- Frustrating sometimes as it can be slow to preview thumbnails as the program is pretty RAM-intensive.
- Screen-greedy in that it requires a significant percentage of your monitor (ie all of it) to function well
- - Frustrating because its not possible to add details to PDFs
Good online support is provided by Adobe at their official spot.
Media Cente recommends the following tutorials to get under way:
Beginner A: Introduction
Beginner B: Using the Help file
Beginner C: General Overview
Intermediate A: Creating PDF files/Web Galleries
Intermediate B: Metadata Editing
Intermediate C: Detailed Overview
Advanced A: Bridge Exchange (Scripts for optimizing)
Different software processes RAW files differently. It is worth noting some software will perform better than others. Performance isn't the first thing that comes to mind with RAW conversion but is important to some users nonetheless. Performance can be 'measured' by the amount of detail regained in conversion. Also, different software may output images with slightly different tones/colour balances so this needs to be taken into consideration.
First published Mon. 1 Feb. 2010