More people are becoming video editors, but it is increasingly happening in apps such as TikTok and Instagram where creators and influencers can take advantage of the unique video editing tools and filters without having to go anywhere else. So how does traditional photo and video editing software such as Adobe Photoshop and Premiere fit into this new wave of content creation?
Adobe’s chief product officer, Scott Belsky, sat down with Verge editor-in-chief Nilay Patel and Verge reporter Dami Lee to answer that question. Belsky also touched an abundance of topics under his domain – from what he learned from placing Photoshop on the iPad to adapting products to new creators and platforms to the objectives of the Content Authenticity Initiative.
Listen here or via one podcast player of your choice to hear the entire discussion.
Below is a slightly edited excerpt from our interview.
Dami Lee: It’s interesting that Adobe has these two sets of very different customers. You have the professionals who use Lightroom Classic, and then you have people like me who don’t really know how to edit photos, but just grew up with Instagram and these programs that do it for you. It seems that Adobe is moving in this new direction and introducing new software such as Aero and Photoshop Camera that are designed for people, so they don’t have to learn how to code to do things. What do you think of Adobe’s strategy for this new class of users?
Scott Belsky: Well, I think two things, I would say: one is the mission of our company is creativity for everyone, and the ethos that I constantly repeat is: “Let’s ensure that our products are powerful enough for professionals, but accessible for everyone.” Now, of course, some products, such as After Effects or Premiere Pro, we should not try to make that product accessible to everyone because you will make it so stupid. … There is a professional set of workflows that we must respect.
People’s desire to reach that output level or make something in video or something moving with something like After Effects, I think it’s part of our mission to make someone do something like that, maybe with another product. And so what you see now, for example with Photoshop Camera, is something that we are still testing and iterating, but the idea was that there are many people who simply do not have the desire nor the time nor the skills to open Photoshop and the replace air or do something crazy with an image.
You see Photoshop Express, which has around 20 million monthly active users – I think I can say this publicly. This is a mobile app, Photoshop Express. Of course you have Photoshop Camera and then you have Rush and then Lightroom CC.
Nilay Patel: How is Premiere Rush doing?
So Rush is doing pretty well right now. It is for the YouTube maker. It is interesting. Of the super-powerful YouTube makers out there, they have their own teams that are now doing things, and they are probably using Premiere Pro. But for many people who are just starting to take it seriously, they want professional title sequences, effects, things like that. Premiere Rush has done very well with them, and YouTube has actually helped us tell those people.
DL: It’s funny because Premiere Rush has just partnered with TikTok. So now there is a TikTok integration. You can publish directly there. But I’m also curious: how does that relate to the remix functions in the app and all these new functions that teenagers use on TikTok, to the point where they actually don’t need another video editing app to make their memes.
Let’s talk about that. Because I think you look at Instagram, you look at TikTok, you look at Snapchat, you look at all these places and they build some of their own native editing applications. They must work for everyone.
But then there is a subset of people who, for whatever reason, say, “I want my things to look different. I want to do something that other people like:” How did he do that? How did she do it? “Whether it’s a type of font that they want to use in their title series that is not offered as a standard template or they want to import something that is not the native AR experience that Snapchat offers, but maybe they want something by themselves in Arrow and use it And so there is a subset of this world in every industry that wants to be creative and do something else, and we want to be there for them.
NP: Well, it sounds like a big thought to an idea. TikTok is successful because it clearly has a viral distribution platform and an algorithm that works in all the things it does, but it also has a really good video editor. I’m routinely impressed with the edits people can just come up with in TikTok, and the app just guides them through, and then they make it. There is probably a market of people just above it. You are talking about that.
NP: But isn’t the rise of a TikTok or the rise of an Instagram and stories, isn’t the market in that zone bigger? They ensure that people become video editors in a way that nobody has ever seen before as a video editor.
If you think about it. I always love the whole 99/1 view of the world as it relates to the creative desires of a general platform of people. And you have 90 percent of people who just want to upload an image or consume the images of people, and they probably won’t do any editing at all. Maybe they use a filter. Then you have the 1 percent on the other side of the spectrum, and these are the most important Adobe customers, right? The 1 percent of us who are creative professionals who will spend hours and hours creating something that looks exactly like what they have in mind. That is our bread and butter today as a company. But then there is the other 9 percent of people who come from that larger group and say, “I want to stand out, I want to do something else.” I am willing to have a learning curve, perhaps not the one that requires me to go to school or watch hours and hours and hours of training videos, but I want to do something else. “
And when you see a company like TikTok that opens its platform to third-party apps, I think you see that they realize the value of these people for their platform. They want people to do things that look professional, that make people jealous, surprised and humble, and they want that. And the only way they are going to do that is by working together with partners like us, because they can’t build that level of complexity into their tools for the 90s. Otherwise the 90 get confused, right? And I think that is an opportunity for us as a company.
NP: So when I think of Instagram now, Instagram has filters. Like other people can make filters. We have made filters. Dami has made some filters. But they have their most important. And then, like any other platform, they can just watch what’s popular in the world and just take it with them. Do you feel that you are in that arms race as a creative tool company? People are going to invent some things with the help of your tools, and that will clearly bring people to you and one day Instagram or TikTok will wake up and say, “Man, everyone colors their photos blue. That’s standard now.” have lost that market.
Well, I mean, when you look at VSCO, Instagram, I mean one of these products where they’ve got a lot of their user interface for creative editing? They got it from us.
NP: Yes. That’s the spicy quote I’m looking for.
Turn right? Which is great, by the way, because then they developed a part of this technology and interface design that was made for professionals only, democratized and made available to everyone. Fantastic. And now it’s our job to continue to innovate on the professional side and see where the line is of what a general-purpose platform can do for everyone and how we raise the bar to make people better.
And listen, every time a new version of Android or iOS is delivered, there are new features for their standard camera editing. And that’s great because it makes that functionality more accessible to everyone and keeps us focused on saying, “Okay, but from those people, what does only 10 percent of them want that only they can do with us?” And that enables us to rethink the future of image editing, editing and AR and how we can combine things such as motion graphics sequences with things such as video and animation.