Recently I was checking out a video interview with a producer about his sci-fi film. The producer went on to say how they were able to create a high quality production on their small budget using Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects Apple Final Cut Pro, and AJA's video hardware.
It was when he described these off the shelf tools as "consumer" that I got a little annoyed. That seemed like a comment from someone who hasn't payed much attention to how much these tools have evolved in the past decade or so.
Just because you can buy these tools easily at a retail or online store, doesn't mean they are consumer quality.
Photoshop, After Effects and Final Cut Pro are important additions to many post production workflows. These tools have evolved to meet the needs and demands of professionals while remaining affordable.
True consumer products like iMovie, iPhoto iDVD, Photoshop Express, Premiere Express hide much of their complexity behind simple functionality. These products are great if you need to do something really simple and quick, which is what they are designed for.
The gap between the high end and low end is rapidly closing. There is a broad middle ground of tools that can be very sophisticated and affordable.
The technology developed by the high end are quickly appearing in these products because of user demands. There is even technology being developed for these off the shelf tools that may never have existed outside of an R&D environment.