AES Section Meeting Reports

Pacific Northwest - January 26, 2011

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The PNW Section held its January meeting at Seattle office of Adobe Systems, Inc. Adobe engineer Charles Van Winkle spoke about the rewriting of the audio editing program, Adobe Audition (originally begun as Cool Edit). 50 people attended (21 being AES members). Charles was assisted with remarks from coworkers Matt Stegner and Colin Stefani.

PNW vice-chair Rick Chinn opened the meeting, made announcements and started the audience self intros.

Charles Van Winkle noted that Adobe decided some years ago to rewrite the code base for their audio editing program, in order to satisfy demand for use on multiple computer platforms and modern hardware. Coming out with a Macintosh version was a constant request.

He started with a history of Cool Edit, the program which Adobe bought and changed to Audition. David Johnston (then a Microsoft employee) began the PC program in the 1990s, as shareware on floppies, later starting Syntillium Software to sell the program and its various versions. It was very popular among PC users, one reason being that it was easily pirated.

In 2003 Adobe bought Syntrillium, and changed the name of the program to Adobe Audition. Audition 1 was Cool Edit Pro 2 rebranded. Audition 1.5 was really the last of the CEPro DNA.
Audition 2.0 came out when the Adobe Creative Suite 2 came out — Charles & Matt came on then, and the Audition team did a major rewrite to get the User Interface (UI) to match the Adobe CS look, and they added back-end functions. Many functions needed for corporate reasons are sometimes internally referred to as, "Adobe taxes."

Some people will recall Adobe Soundbooth, a "lite" multiplatform audio editing program. Because of development deadlines for Mac Adobe Premiere Pro, there was no time for Audition for Mac; Soundbooth was the resulting Mac/PC audio tool, and they learned a lot from doing it.

Charles spoke about the development process at Adobe. The Audition team uses the "SCRUM" (as in rugby) method for development, the first at Adobe to use it. They wrote from the ground up, and showed progress milestones every month. He showed the start in 2008 with a new code base, and some of the core functions they began with. Impacts to other Adobe products must always be considered. There are typically 2 builds a day, and many details to include/add/fix/change, and several platforms & many languages.

Several dozen Milestones were noted, and some of the functions or features added each time. Some functions are basic (transport buttons) and many are painstakingly discussed and fought over, like effects handling. Code is mainly C++ , with Adobe proprietary cross-platform development frameworks. The goal at this early stage was to rewrite Audition, be cross-platform and with desired new features, like multichannel and multi-core processor aware. The development team varied from about 20-30 people, depending on budgetary layoffs.

Some Cool Edit features they don't want to change due to legacy — some users want wild settings for say, a filter. Internally they sometimes call this, "weaponizing effects" -- having outlandish settings ranges available, versus limiting settings to something reasonable. Balancing this was discussed.

Doorprize winners were picked after the break:

-T-shirts (Adobe and Izotope): Gary Beebe, Doug Zangar, Greg Duckett, Bob Smith, Dan Schueler, Lindsay Smith, Rick Chinn
-Adobe loops CD-ROMs: Rob Baum, Lucas Carlyle, Ed Gruse
-Fluke Volt-Light from Rick Rodriguez/Fluke: Mary Mehrens
-Synthwerks USB light: Scott Mehrens, Jeff Tyrrill

Charles started the second part with more milestones in the development. In 2009, two rounds of staff layoffs, including members of the Hamburg, Germany Audition team slowed the development progress. Even so, work continued. Charles did extensive work on determining the channelization and panning functions. Handling Apple Audio Units effects was added.

At this time Mac OS10.6.4 came out and there were new problems. Working with Apple was discussed.

In November 2010, the public beta software for Adobe Audition for Mac was released. When (or if) a final version is released, the beta will stop working. Some regret was expressed at having to announce and release the beta after the AES convention, but this was corporate timing. Usually, more features make it into a final release. Beta users were encouraged to communicate on the Adobe forums, Twitter or Facebook, since the team really does read them, as well as giving useful feedback on the Crash Reporter. PC users were told to look at the history of PC releases, and one might estimate when a new release will come out.

And why was the name changed from Cool Edit to Audition? Rumor has it that Cool doesn't sound Professional. Also, the name doesn't say what it edits. However, despite the name change, some of the code is still based on Cool Edit, and still works very well (such as sample rate conversion, and some filters)

There was a few minutes for more questions before the 11pm closing.

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