Spark is one of those products in Adobe’s Creative Suite that doesn’t always get a lot of attention. But the company’s tool for creating social media posts (which you can try for free) has plenty of fans, and maybe that’s no surprise, given that its mission is to help small business owners and agencies create engaging social media posts without having to learn a lot about design. Today, Adobe added one of the most requested features to Spark on mobile and the web: animations.
“At Adobe, we have this rich history with After Effects,” Spark product manager Lisa Boghosian told me. “We wanted to bring professional motion design to non-professionals, because what solopreneurs or small business owners know what keyframes are or know how to build pre-comps and have five layers. It’s just not where they’re spending their time and they shouldn’t have to. That’s really what Spark is for: you focus on your business and building that. We’ll help guide you into expressing building that base.”
Guiding users is what Spark does across its features, be that designing the flow of your text, adding imaging or now animations. It does that through providing a vast number of templates — which include a set of animated templates, as well as easy access to free images, Adobe Stock and icons from the Noun Project (on top of your own imagery, of course).
The team also decided to do away with a lot of the accouterments of movie editors, including timelines. Instead, the team pre-built the templates and the logic behind how new designs display those animations based on best practices. “Instead of exposing a timeline to a user and asking them to put things on a timeline and adjusting the speed — and guessing — we’ve taken on that role because we want to guide you to that best experience.”
In addition to the new animations feature, Spark is also getting improved tools for sharing assets across the Creative Cloud suite thanks to support for Creative Cloud Libraries. That makes it far easier for somebody to move images from Lightroom or Photoshop to Spark, but since Spark is also getting quite popular with agencies, it’ll make collaborating easier as well. The service already has tools for organizing assets today, but this makes it far easier to work across the various Creative Cloud tools.
Boghosian tells me the team had long had animations on its roadmap, but it took a while to bring it to market, in part because Adobe wanted to get the performance right. “We had to make sure that performance was up to par with what we wanted to deliver,” she said. “And so the experience of exporting a project — we didn’t want it to take a significant amount of time because we really didn’t want the user sitting there waiting for it. So we had to bring up the backend to really support the experience we wanted.” She also noted that the team wanted to have the Creative Cloud Libraries integration ready before launching animations.
Once you’ve created your animation, Spark lets you export it as an MP4 video file or as a static image. Spark will not let you download GIFs.