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Capturing the pulse of the capital

Video production company wins clients with outstanding time-lapse photography and videos developed using Adobe Creative Cloud

Over the course of 12 years, Drew Geraci’s has gone from being a photographer’s mate on a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier to a sought-after time-lapse photographer and videographer. After leaving the U.S. Navy, Geraci worked as a multimedia producer for the Washington Times before his amazing time-lapse photography was discovered by Academy Award nominated director David Fincher. A year later, Geraci’s work was being featured in the opening sequence of the award-winning Netflix series House of Cards, which led to jobs from big name clients including PBS, Corona, ESPN, and the National Football League. Along with fellow Navy alumnus Arthur Breese, Geraci founded District 7 Media, a fast-growing video production company that specializes in time-lapse photography.



Adobe: How did you get started as a photographer and videographer?
Geraci: I really fell in love with photography during high school. After I graduated, I figured I could go straight to college or join the military. I joined the U.S. Navy as a photographer’s mate, and it was the best choice I could have made. I spent nearly five years on an aircraft carrier before attending Syracuse University for broadcast journalism.



I finished out my enlistment producing and disseminating video for the military—first from a little island in the Indian Ocean, and then from Defense Media Activity in Washington, D.C. My time in the Navy really helped me grow as a storyteller. I started out as a photographer, but I learned to work with video, audio, and motion graphics—whatever I needed to tell my story.



Adobe: What did you do after you left the Navy?
Geraci: After I left the military, I stayed in D.C. to work for the Washington Times, where I was able to tell stories that I wanted to tell, the way I wanted to tell them with different types of media. During that time, I never stopped working on my own projects. One particular video was an experiment I shot around D.C. that combined time-lapse photography with high-dynamic-range imagery. I threw the video up on Vimeo and it got more than 50,000 hits, so I was pretty happy.



Adobe: What led you to pursue time-lapse work full time?
Geraci: A few months after I posted the video, I got a call from Netflix. The next thing I knew, I was having lunch with David Fincher at Union Station. He told me that he was working on a new project and he wanted me to do some time-lapse photography of the “dark and gritty” side of D.C. He didn’t tell me anything about the show but of course I said yes—it’s David Fincher!

I hired an assistant and for the next eight months we went out shooting time-lapse content and then handed it off to a production house. I found out three months later that the footage was being used for the opening sequence of House of Cards.

Adobe: How did House of Cards change things?
Geraci: Everything exploded. Suddenly I was getting calls from all over: Corona, Coach, PBS’s Frontline, Discovery Channel, and even the NFL. I started my own company, District 7 Media, and we’re growing every day. We still specialize in time-lapse photography, but we do full video production as well. It’s amazing how much things have changed, and it all started from one little video.

That’s the power of social media, really. It’s so important for artists to get their work out there. It doesn’t matter if a million people are watching or just a few hundred. All that matters is that the one right person sees it.

Adobe: What is the process for your time-lapse photography?
Geraci: Depending on the scope, we may shoot up to 4,000 images per day for a project. The first step is color and exposure correction in Lightroom. The ability to save and apply the same settings to all the images using Lightroom is a lifesaver. It really helps us streamline processes while ensuring consistent metadata, exposure, and color temperature for the final video.



We export all the frames into After Effects, which is where we composite all the images and adjust the speed and movement to get the final take. Sometimes, we use Dynamic Link with Premiere Pro to create proxies and streamline the editing process even further. The integration between apps within Creative Cloud is really key for us, since it allows us to switch between programs without losing quality and work much more efficiently.

Adobe: Have you always worked with Adobe products?
Geraci: I started out with Adobe Photoshop back in high school. During my time in the Navy, I became familiar with all of the other Adobe creative software as well. Adobe Creative Suite really blew me away. Animation always sounded so difficult, but After Effects made it seem so easy. Premiere Pro also ignited my passion for video. Manipulating clips on the timeline is incredibly simple, but the features are much more versatile and robust compared to other software that I’ve worked with.



At District 7 Media, we mainly use Lightroom and After Effects for our time-lapse photography, but we also work with Premiere Pro, Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, SpeedGrade, and Bridge. The ability to easily migrate data between systems through Adobe Creative Cloud makes sharing files and collaborating on projects a snap. With Creative Cloud the software is more integrated than ever, so we can get the most out of the functionality.

Adobe: What are some of the other projects you’ve worked on with District 7 Media?
Geraci: We did an amazing project with Corona called Luna Corona, which just won a Golden Lion at the 2014 Cannes Lions. Corona set up a billboard in Manhattan, and if you got the perfect angle, the moon dipped into the bottle like a wedge of lime. We had to work with mathematicians and astronomers to get it the angles just right. That project involved the time-lapse photography plus documentation, which Corona used as an advertisement. Another company bid for the job, but since we’re able to operate so efficiently, we were able to produce a higher quality project for less.

We’re also very involved with the NFL. We produce the time-lapse content for the Super Bowl XLVII and Super Bowl XLVIII videos. The Super Bowl in New Orleans was particularly memorable. The video combined time-lapse and high-speed photography to really tell the story of the city and get the audience pumped for the upcoming game.

Adobe: Did your experiences in the military shape your creative experiences?
Geraci: One of the great things you learn in the military is leadership—how to take control of new situations. Not only did it really prepare me to set up my own business, but it helped me learn how to express myself and give my stories clear direction.



Adobe: Where do you see your business going in the future?
Geraci: We’ve started expanding into stock footage. We’ll be producing and providing incredibly unique content that people won’t be able to find at any other agency, including time-lapse and high-speed photography. We’re also looking to get more into feature film and documentary storytelling. Time-lapse may be our specialty, but we’re all excited to keep growing and opening ourselves to new challenges.

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Posted by: Adobe Sponsored on Jul 17, 2014 at 10:54:25 am Creative Cloud, Customers
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Top-flight videos fuel the JetBlue brand

Airline’s in-house video team uses Adobe Creative Cloud to tell stories that engage and inspire crewmembers and customers

JetBlue Airways began flying in 2000 with a promise “to bring humanity back to air travel.” That commitment is the backbone of the airline’s external brand, as well as its internal culture; JetBlue’s workers are “crewmembers,” whether they’re based on the ground, in the sky, or at the offices.

In 2014, for the tenth consecutive year, JetBlue received the highest honors in airline customer satisfaction among low-cost carriers in the J.D. Power North America Airline Satisfaction Study. A technological innovator from inception, JetBlue maintains and builds on its rapport with customers and crewmembers through a steady stream of story-driven videos. Jonathan Weitz is the manager of digital and online communications for JetBlue Airways, and he approaches his work with enthusiasm.



Adobe: Tell us about your background.
Weitz: I started my career in broadcast journalism, working as a camera operator and video editor in local affiliate television. After seven years, I wanted to move into a reporter/producer role. Unfortunately, I looked too young for broadcast television. I went into radio, working my way up from weekend host to morning show co-host and executive producer. But my heart was in visual media, so I went back to school to get my master’s degree.

Graduate school led to my current career in digital and online strategy. I orchestrated the digital strategy at Pratt Institute, an art and design school. As a freelancer, I worked on video projects for commercial companies and for nonprofits like the Coalition for the Homeless, United Nations Foundation, and the 92nd Street Y.

Adobe: What led to your position at JetBlue?
Weitz: I’m a huge aviation geek; I even got my pilot’s license. When I heard that JetBlue was looking for a person to lead video projects, I jumped at the opportunity.



Jonathan Weitz

I’ve been here since July 2013. There are three of us on the video team and we produce approximately eight videos a month. It’s about 50/50 internal and external content. When I first started, entire projects were hired out, often at great expense. Now we do the majority of the work in-house but we also rely on a trusted list of New York-based freelancers to edit or shoot a project.

Adobe: Is there an overarching approach to content?
Weitz: JetBlue has a very strong external brand because of our culture, our crewmembers, and our values. We look at storytelling through lens of our crewmembers. What stories can we tell to engage, activate, and inspire them? For example, we recently produced a video tied to our new service to Detroit. Whenever we add a destination, we do something special to give back to that community.







In Detroit, we partnered with First Book, a nonprofit that provides new books to children in need. On our first day, JetBlue executives and crewmembers went to a grade school that had the poorest performance record in the state of Michigan for 2012/2013; its library was virtually empty. We donated brand new books and laptops, and students got their own books to take home.

We made that video for our crewmembers. A video like that makes people within JetBlue feel good about where they work, and encourages them to find their own ways to give back. JetBlue is in 87 different cities; showcasing these stories strengthen internal culture. That’s why JetBlue is the company it is.

Adobe: Is there crossover between internal and external videos?
Weitz: We consider repurposing potential with every video request. A lot of internal videos go external, including the Detroit video. We may edit an internal video to better address an external audience but the more longevity a video has, the better the return for us. All external, customer-facing videos go on YouTube and Vimeo, and are posted separately on our Facebook page. We use Vimeo for internal JetBlue videos, privacy-restricted to our Intranet site.

In June 2014 JetBlue introduced Mint, its refreshing new take on a premium coast-to-coast experience. We wanted a way to get crewmembers excited about Mint’s fully-flat seats, fresh dining options, and revitalizing amenities. We created a video series titled (Mint)roducing to highlight our partners and provide a bit of personal insight into the founders and vision behind each company.


Filming Mint(roducing)

To date, we’ve created a video for Blue Marble Ice Cream, Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery, Flying Food Group, and Saxon + Parole, with more to come. This is an ongoing series that will continuously live on and grow as we grow. The series certainly has crossover. It gives insight to our customers on what to expect onboard. It also gives crewmembers knowledge on the products and little gems of information that they can use when interacting with each other and our customers.

Adobe: Have you always worked with Adobe Premiere Pro?
Weitz: Earlier in my career I used Final Cut Pro a lot. After graduate school, I worked on a freelance project for Dell. The footage had been shot on RED, and I knew transcoding would take forever. That’s when I tried Premiere Pro for the first time. I’ve never looked back.


Filming Dell project

We use Premiere Pro for all video editing and Adobe proficiency is part of every discussion I have with freelancers. In fact, we have a template project folder setup—with an organized folder structure, project files, fonts, and style guides— so that our freelancers can spend less time on mechanics and more time on creativity all while keeping our videos consistent.


Template folder structure - open

Adobe: Are you using other applications in Creative Cloud?
Weitz: Creative Cloud is great because it covers the entire spectrum of our creative departments. We use After Effects for all lower thirds, title cards, and graphics. We can create project files in After Effects and easily transfer them into Premiere Pro; there’s no need to import or export anything.


Adobe After Effects template - lower third

Creative Cloud is also a boon to our work with JetBlue’s design and brand team that creates the visual brand of JetBlue, everything from signage and seatback cards to the paint scheme of the airplanes. We’ll send the designers footage when we’re working on a video; they’ll, create an asset in Photoshop, send us the file, and everything is updated automatically. We finish projects very quickly and we all work well together because everyone is one the same platform.

Adobe: Are there particular features or individual products in Creative Cloud that you like, or that help with deadlines?
Weitz: It used to be that you installed software from CDs and DVDs, and you had to wait for the next version to fix any bugs. With Creative Cloud we’re always working with the latest versions of a product. We have immediate access to anything that’s new, be it a feature or a fix, which is critical.

We spend a lot of time in Premiere Pro and the layout and user interface are elegant and easy to use. Adobe really understands what filmmakers and storytellers need to best do their jobs. The integration among app in Creative Cloud is terrific. We can be working in Premiere Pro and easily open an audio track or music track in Adobe Audition to clean up the sound, or jump to After Effects to add graphics.

Adobe: How did you create the “Thank you” video?
Weitz: We were ecstatic when we learned the results of the J.D. Power survey. We’re nothing without our customers and crewmembers, and we wanted to make a video to recognize the people who made this honor possible.







Whenever I visit a historic building, I think about what it must have been like at its peak. I began picturing an airport terminal that was deserted, but had clearly once been alive and thriving. “Thank you” juxtaposes empty spaces in a terminal against the audio hustle and bustle of a busy airport. When we scouted the airport to figure out our shots we also recorded the sounds that help tell the story: a baggage carousel turning; people talking; a gate announcement; the boarding call; the inflight crew welcoming people. The video came out exactly as we wanted: a heartfelt thank you to customers and crewmembers who bring this airline to life.

See more JetBlue videos on YouTube

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @weitzjonathan

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Posted by: Adobe Sponsored on Jul 15, 2014 at 11:53:27 am Creative Cloud, Customers
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Once in a lifetime experience in Brazil

As a senior engineering manager at Adobe, I’ve been very lucky to visit broadcasters, post houses, and other customers all around the world. I really appreciate learning about how customers use our products and what types of content they produce. Getting to know the people and the cultures during these trips is always my favorite part.

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Brazil for that big international soccer (of course I mean football) event that just concluded. Adobe Premiere Pro CC was selected as the editing platform for the event, so we put together a team to go on site at the IBC (International Broadcast Centre) to learn from the workflow and the editors. Learning about how they build the production and how the people setup for such a huge event was very interesting.




I could tell from the moment I landed that the people in Brazil were excited about the event, everyone was obviously soccer crazed! The IBC was like nothing I have ever seen. I have been to broadcast networks around the world but this was very different. It was a huge presence that took over an entire convention center with three halls filled with broadcast networks and equipment.

It was all setup just for the event and everyone was working together to make it a success. Many people moved to Brazil for months at a time to bring the event to life, which was something I hadn’t realized. I enjoyed talking with the editors about other worldwide sporting events they’ve been involved with in similar ways.



To support all of the people working there, the IBC had restaurants, laundry services, drug stores, and even an ice cream shop. There were buses all organized to take you from the IBC to wherever you wanted to go. It was definitely an amazing logistical effort. Of course there were TV screens all over the IBC showing every game that was on, including an 8K TV from NHK Japan.

From a broadcast perspective, it was impressive to see how many games and how many feeds per game were being captured. There was so much video available on a daily basis. The production team not only covered all of the games but also produced player profiles, supplemental content from around Brazil, as well as a range of graphics. The amount of content was enormous. And then they turned around the spots in mere hours with all that content and it looked amazing. All of the people working on the project were so talented and productive.



Of course, it was also great to see the editors working with Adobe Creative Cloud applications, from Adobe Premiere Pro CC and After Effects CC to Audition CC and even SpeedGrade CC to get the creative looks they wanted. It was essential that we supported growing files, especially AVCi100. This was the quality they wanted and it is a very demanding format. Over the past year, we worked very hard to optimize AVCi100 so it would be a fluid editing experience for the project and it was great to see our hard work pay off.

Many of the editors work with Avid and Final Cut Pro, and they really appreciated the high performance and stability that Premiere Pro offered. They loved learning about the keyboard shortcuts and streamlined editing tools, and commented on how easy it was to focus on being creative without the software getting in the way.



The editors also seemed to really appreciate the native workflows supported through Premiere Pro CC. No matter what the producer or other content providers gave them, they were able to drop it on the timeline and start working. This was different than past years when they first needed to ingest that media and wait. Integration among the applications was also something they really loved. After Effects was heavily used and the ability to start in Premiere Pro and Dynamic Link to After Effects saved them a lot of time.



Members of the Premiere Pro team were in Brazil to make sure the use of Premiere Pro CC was successful and that we secured valuable feedback that we can use to make the product better. But it was hard not to get caught up in the excitement of the event. I lived in Germany for about six years so I learned to enjoy watching football and the fans during the 2002 games. In Brazil, we watched almost every game at the IBC, as they were on every screen, but it didn’t compare to when I got the opportunity to attend the Chile vs. Spain game.




The stadium was amazing and the organization of the whole event was perfect. The fans were all very happy and cheered for the entire 90 minute game. They were overwhelmingly rooting for Chile, which worked out as they won. It was my first time going to a live game and the energy at the football stadium is not comparable. It was much more emotional and louder than I expected after only going to U.S. sporting events. The game was great and really topped off the Rio experience. It made me appreciate why people around the world love the sport.




The overall feeling in Brazil was great and the people were very friendly. Everywhere you went you could feel football was in the air. Going to the beach in Copacabana, which I didn’t have much time for, was quite an experience. There were so many people from all around the world. The whole beach was set up to celebrate with large screens everywhere. I even had a few caipirinhas at the beach until sunrise with some of the team, which was lots of fun.

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David McGavran is the Senior Engineering Manager for Adobe Premiere Pro. He has been at Adobe longer than he can remember. Dave has worked on many of the video apps at Adobe and is known for his work on Dynamic Link.Unfortunately, as an engineer, Dave isn't clever enough to write a funny bio so this will have to do.

Posted by: Adobe Sponsored on Jul 14, 2014 at 3:44:50 pmComments (1) Creative Cloud
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Capturing the essence of Brazil through motion graphics and art

Filmmaker embarks on journey documenting creativity around the world

When we last spoke with Graham Elliott he was just starting work on his next film, World In Motion, which he describes as, “a documentary film series that explores the dynamic connection between location and expression.” Since that time, Elliott has taken two trips to Brazil, the first stop on his global journey. In addition to interviewing creative professionals, he spent a significant amount of time capturing b-roll that will add texture and reference to the film. Now, he’s back in the United States and will spend the next few months working in Adobe Premiere Pro CC editing his content before his next trip to Japan in November.

Adobe: Tell us about your time in Brazil.
Elliott: I first went to Brazil in October for three weeks, then went back again this past January. With preparations going on for the World Cup and then the Olympics, there was an incredible buzz of activity. Brazil is all about rhythm and color. It takes a lot of influences from Africa, Europe and North America and makes them its own.

Adobe: How is this project different than your last film, New York in Motion?
Elliott: When we made New York in Motion we had three months to shoot, student help, multiple cameras, and the luxury of an open timetable. With World In Motion we needed to do a lot more advance planning. I traveled to Brazil four or five days before my partner, Roswitha Rodrigues, came to conduct the interviews. I spent time shooting b-roll to give the interviews context. Because of security concerns in Brazil, I had to rethink my camera package to be more mobile and inconspicuous. I did most of my shooting with a Canon 5D Mark II and GoPros.



Adobe: What type of footage did you capture?
Elliott: Before I set out to shoot, I worked out a way of organizing the shots I wanted to capture. There is so much you can do and see and when you are on location it can be a little overwhelming. So, I created an index card system with a storyboard of the shot I wanted and all of the necessary logistics: time of day, equipment, security, etc. One example of content I captured was the view from the cable cars that go over the favelas. Shooting from this perspective let us show the expanse of humanity in these poorer areas.




Adobe: How much time did you spend interviewing?
Elliott: When Rosie came in we did seven days of interviews in Sao Paulo and seven days in Rio. We wanted to go in without any scripted questions so we could have more of a conversation. We asked interviewees to describe their work, and from there each person took a different path. We didn’t want to go in with a preconceived notion of the creative essence of Brazil.

We started with Lobo, a company that has been a major inspiration, working with American and European clients, doing incredible motion graphics. The team there is incredible, and the founder, Mateus de Paula Santos, recommended other people for us to interview. We also connected with Super Uber, the company that recently did a huge texture-mapping project at the assembly hall in the United Nations building, projecting visuals onto the different surfaces. The team there gave us more recommendations of who we should see in Rio.

Adobe: What is different about the way work is created in Brazil?
Elliott: The school system in Brazil lacks proper funding and doesn’t have rooms full of computers, so students do a lot of tactile work. They have to make do with less, but that makes them push the boundaries of creativity in different ways. We saw a lot of handmade art that was then scanned into computers, giving the end creations a more tactile feel.

The work that artists create is also different depending on the city. Both Rio and Sao Paulo are interesting hubs of creativity. Rio is very green, has beautiful beaches, people are outgoing, and the artwork seems to reflect that with a lot of natural, organic elements. Conversely, Sao Paulo is a concrete jungle and people seem more introverted, which ultimately affects the way designers work and what they create. It will be interesting to look back after we’ve visited different locations and compare the references – how people create, what tools they use, where they start, and how much is influenced by culture, religion, tradition, and history.



Adobe: What type of tools are creative companies you interviewed using?
Elliott: Many of the established motion graphics agencies are using Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, and Illustrator. Rather than starting everything on the computer they do a lot of organic work, including models, paintings, and collages. After Effects is very popular for working with content after it is captured; it is the quintessential motion graphics tool. Designers we interviewed in Brazil are excited about Adobe Creative Cloud and keeping everything within the same workflow.

Adobe: What do you like about working with Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
Elliott: I really like the workflow in Premiere Pro. I shot a lot of timelapse content with the 5D Mark II, and it is so easy to bring the stills into After Effects, apply some moves, and then open them in Premiere Pro. Rendering is so much easier in Premiere Pro than it was in Final Cut Pro and there is also a lot more flexibility with color correction.

Adobe: Where else do you want to go on your World In Motion journey?
Elliott: In November I’ll be traveling to Japan and we also hope to go to South Africa, India and Europe, especially London, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Vienna. The film is about creativity and the field of motion graphics serves as the backbone. But we’re not just interviewing motion graphics artists, we’re also interviewing people in other art fields. Motion graphics is so much about rhythm, music, dance, photography, and design so we’re going out and talking to dancers, designers and musicians, which is really invigorating. It will be a long journey but I’m already excited about the story we’re going to be able to tell.

View some of Graham Elliott’s World in Motion footage from Brazil
https://vimeo.com/93174087

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Posted by: Adobe Sponsored on Jun 26, 2014 at 11:00:07 am Creative Cloud, Customers
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Soldier and storyteller

EMMY-winning U.S. Army videographer uses Adobe Creative Cloud to create powerful portraits of soldiers’ lives

Robert Ham is passionate about filmmaking; he takes a video camera and tripod whenever he travels and capturing people’s stories. From 2007 to 2013, he served as an Army Combat Correspondent stationed in Afghanistan and the Pacific, where he focused on interviewing soldiers and documenting subjects ranging from close combat to the trials of PTSD.

As a soldier and filmmaker, Ham is part of a cohort that dates back to the early days of Hollywood and includes such greats as William Wellman, a World War I fighter pilot who directed the 1927 Oscar winner Wings; John Ford, John Huston, William Wyler, and George Stevens, who were embedded with U.S. forces and documented the fighting of World War II; and Oliver Stone, a Vietnam combat veteran who studied film under the GI Bill.

Filming in more than 40 countries, Ham used Adobe software to document soldiers’ lives with honesty and artistry. He received four regional EMMY nominations for his work, two of which won awards in their categories. He also won the Department of Defense’s Military Videographer of the Year award in 2009, 2012, and 2013. Ham rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant and completed six years of service in December 2013. He is now a graduate student in the prestigious Master’s Degree program at USC School of Cinematic Arts.


Robert Ham at the White House National Press Photographers Dinner receiving the 2013 Military Videographer of the Year Award

Adobe: Where does your love of filmmaking come from?
Ham: I grew up just outside of Los Angeles, so film was never far away. I started shooting my own videos when I was a teenager and convinced my parents to let me take some local filmmaking classes. Once I started working with Premiere Pro and After Effects, I fell in love with storytelling and filmmaking. Throughout high school, I shot videos and edited them at home using Adobe software, just for fun.

I got my bachelor’s degree in film production, but one of the biggest lessons came when I did a semester abroad in Israel. I got my first taste of backpack journalism—just me and my camera, talking to people from all walks of life. It opened up a whole new world for me and helped me discover my passion as a storyteller—listening to peoples’ stories and finding a way to share them with others.


Robert Ham with his pocket dolly and camera on the top of a mountain in Sri Lanka.

Adobe: Why would a filmmaker join the armed forces?
Ham: I worked as a freelance editor and production assistant in Los Angeles, trying everything I could to break into film. After I got married, I wanted more consistent work. A member of my family was in the Army, so I decided to try something completely different. I discovered that the Army had positions for dedicated videographers. In addition to a steady paycheck, I’d get to do what I wanted to do. It was like a dream come true!

After basic training, I went to the Defense Information School (DINFOS) to study visual communications. At DINFOS, they had just standardized on Adobe Premiere Pro, so I got very familiar with it as an efficient and easy-to-use tool. I ended up in the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division and deployed with them to Afghanistan, filming several documentaries there. After that, I toured around Asia and the Pacific doing stories about military exercises or documenting our military humanitarian efforts, such as working to protect women and children, aid displaced people, or assist people after weather-related disasters.


Robert Ham posing with Malaysian Soldiers after the culmination of exercise in Malaysia.

Adobe: Were you using Adobe solutions throughout your time in the Army?
Ham: I have experience on all the platforms—Premiere Pro, Avid, and Final Cut—but it was great for me that DINFOS was teaching Premiere Pro, because that was my preference. Adobe Premiere Pro just lets me do so much more with so much less effort. I love playing with the Lumetri Looks to bring my footage to light in different ways.

Adobe: What are some of most important Adobe features for you?
Ham: I’m not really a technical guy; I prefer to focus on my story and tell it in the way that it deserves to be told. I’m always looking for ways to do things more efficiently. I love how the Adobe tools talk to each other, so if I make changes to assets in Photoshop or After Effects the changes are automatically applied to the Premiere Pro timeline. It really saves me a lot of time because I’m not constantly exporting elements.

The native video editing in Premiere Pro is even better. When I was in Afghanistan, I would work with all sorts of video, from raw RED footage to video from a soldier’s helmet camera. At that time, I had to take the time to transcode all of the footage, but now I can just place all of the footage on the same Premiere Pro timeline and start editing right away. It might not sound like a huge deal for some people, but when you’re trying to work with a wide range of footage, cutting down on render times is a huge benefit.


Robert Ham with his jib and camera in the bush of Australia during an exercise in 2013.

Adobe: How are you using After Effects CC?
Ham: I create a variety of 2D graphics in After Effects. Whenever I don’t think I can do something, I watch a tutorial and realize I can do it—and do it easier than on another platform. One of the last films I did in the Army was De-Mining in Sri Lanka; the first minute is a history of the Sri Lankan Civil War, created with After Effects.

Adobe: Where do you find the inspirations for your stories?
Ham: There are so many interesting people in the Army, who have done remarkable things. Most of them are just regular people, but they’ve been thrust into environments and situations that have made them extraordinary. That’s not how they see themselves, though; they see themselves as average people who go and do their job. We live in an age of social media and self-promotion, and these guys don’t do that. In fact, they don’t like to talk about what they do. I was in a somewhat unique situation, because I was one of them; I wore a uniform and deployed with them. So I was able to get them to open up on camera.

Adobe: Tell us about your regional EMMY Award nominations.
Ham: My first EMMY nomination was in 2009 for a documentary I did in Afghanistan, which was followed by a second nomination in 2010. My third and fourth nominations came this year and recently won in their categories. One was a film that I’m really proud of: Level Black: PTSD and the War at Home. I followed a soldier, Staff Sergeant Billy Caviness, who was severely wounded when he was hit by a mortar in Afghanistan. After the attack, he struggled with severe PTSD on top of his physical wounds. Level Black chronicled his recovery for a year. I loved telling that story, because it’s one that not many people would have heard otherwise.


Robert Ham and Billy Caviness holding up the Hawaii Star Advertiser featuring Level Black on the front page.

The other win was for Missing in Action: The LTC Faith Story, which is a film about the journey to find and identify the remains of a hero from the Korean War. That was an interesting project technically, because I mixed in archival footage to create a sense of history and explain the story better. I used After Effects to create a visual timeline with the archive footage, which gives viewers a clearer picture of the order of events and the passage of time.

Adobe: What are your plans now that you’re a civilian again?
Ham: I just started on my master’s degree at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. I’ll always love documentaries and backpack journalism, but I’m starting to work on more narrative films and I’ve even worked on a few comedies. My experiences in the military introduced me to so many people and I want to keep telling their stories in a more mainstream environment. I’m hoping that working with different approaches can help me reach more people.

Adobe: What do you like most about Adobe Creative Cloud?
Ham: I’ve always loved the integration between the Adobe tools, so the idea that integration has gotten deeper and simpler in Creative Cloud is incredible news. I’m really excited about the idea of getting to experiment with all sorts of Adobe apps without needing to buy each one separately. I’ve worked with Photoshop, but I’d love to try out Illustrator as well. I also plan to get a lot of use out of SpeedGrade. And since I’m getting into narrative storytelling, I can’t wait to dive into Story CC Plus. It should make it a lot easier to collaborate with writers and organize productions.

See more of Robert Ham’s work on YouTube

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Posted by: Adobe Sponsored on Jun 16, 2014 at 1:03:14 pm Adobe Creative Cloud, Customers
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Fueling creativity at Coyote Post

Post-production studio stays nimble with Adobe Creative Cloud

Located in the historic Silver Lake neighborhood in Los Angeles, Coyote Post offers clients a range of post-production services, from editorial through to final color. Only a couple of years young, the studio has assembled a talented team of video editors, visual effects artists, graphic designers, and expert colorists. Top-notch editing suites are equipped with the most current tools, including Adobe Creative Cloud. Creative Director Martin Desmond Roe and Executive Producer Rik Michul are two of the creative minds that help deliver stunning film, commercial, and music video projects for clients.

Adobe: How did each of you become part of the team at Coyote Post?
Roe: As an undergraduate I studied Latin and Ancient Greek. Through the process of putting on plays I became fascinated with storytelling and acting. That led me to the University of Southern California where I decided to focus on film editing. After a stint in London directing music videos I came back to the United States and started Coyote Post. We’re a team of talented freelancers and we work closely with other companies like Flawless FX and Dirty Robber. It’s really a team comprising the best of the best.
Michul: I went to the University of Kentucky and studied finance, thinking it was a practical career choice. But then I realized that I needed to be in a more creative environment. I landed my first production job with Earthquake Productions where I soon met Director Philip G. Atwell of Geronimo Film Productions and worked with Philip and music producer Dr. Dre at Geronimo for eight years producing music videos, commercials and other content. After that, I helped start up a post house called bonch and then moved on to work on the 3D animation film Free Birds. After that, I just started looking around. I met the Coyote Post guys, we clicked, and here we are.

Adobe: What kind of work does Coyote Post do?
Roe: We started off just doing color correction, but now we do everything: editorial, VFX, color and online. We’ve been involved in several high-profile projects including feature films for LionsGate and MTV, music videos for labels like Universal, Warner Bros and Sony, and commercials for agencies including Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.

Most recently, we worked with production house Dirty Robber on a fun spot for the "Wake Up & Smell the Bacon" campaign for Oscar Meyer. The campaign even includes a device that can be plugged into an iPhone that sprays the smell of bacon frying and makes a sizzling sound when your alarm goes off. The video has gotten upwards of four million hits.


Final comp for Bacon Rain for the Oscar Mayer spot combining 422 footage, animation codecs of stock footage, image sequences of 3D hero bacon, as well as particular driving lesser bacon sprites.

We also did a spot for Comcast XFINITY promoting its on-demand programming. We were up against some big established post houses with more traditional technical pipelines for that business, so it was one we were proud to land.


Composition for end shot of Comcast spot. Shot began with a Cinema 4D project integrated into Adobe After Effects. The final version plates for 3D were rendered from Cinema 4D and brought back into the timeline as multipass image sequences.

Adobe: Do you have employees or do you primarily work with freelancers?
Michul: We have two main VFX leads that are the lifeblood of that department along with an inner circle of freelance artists who we work with or try to hire on every job. We continually try and build our freelance rosters so we can expand and contract our VFX crew to stay flexible and efficient for our ever changing workflow. Some of those freelance jobs can carry on for weeks or months at a time depending on the workflow and overlap of projects.

Adobe: How do you keep all of your freelancers on the same page during a project?
Michul: We have great production supervision and management from our staff. Our VFX leads are excellent leaders when it comes to managing the workflow, putting the right artist on the right task, and having the entire team working in unison to a high standard to achieve the common goals of the final product.

Adobe: Can you tell us about the tools you use in your workflow?
Michul: We are heavily into Creative Cloud. All of our editors have switched to Premiere Pro and After Effects is a mainstay, as is Photoshop. We love Creative Cloud because it is seamless going from platform to platform, and everything in Premiere Pro gets updated in After Effects and vice versa, so our process is very streamlined.


Final comp of Wasteland for the Oscar Mayer spot.

Adobe: What does the Adobe pipeline mean to you from a business standpoint?
Roe: With Creative Cloud, everything is well integrated, and that equates to efficiency. As a young, hungry company, we need to prove ourselves in a competitive market. We can be highly adaptive and go back and forth between editorial and effects. The important thing is to remain nimble and fast, and to be able to multi-task. One day we are primarily an effects house, the next an editorial house. Creative Cloud lets us handle a range of post-production demands and more easily meet client deadlines and budgets.

Adobe: What are your editors saying about Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
Roe: I think one of the most common things I hear from our editors is that Premiere Pro is intuitive, elegant, and easy on the eyes, yet it has the high-end professional features we need. Its competitors may have much of the same functionality, but the applications look boring and complicated—so they are not enjoyable to work with day in and day out.

Our editors are constantly at work on productions involving all types of formats. More often than not, the client needs a lightning-quick turnaround. Getting media into After Effects from Premiere Pro is a matter of copying and pasting clips; there’s no painful and time-consuming rendering, exporting, and importing of media in order to go back and forth.

The ability to open all different types of media in Premiere Pro is also extremely handy, especially because Coyote Post typically receives raw format files from many different camera types for the same project. We can edit any format natively, saving countless hours of transcoding, re-linking, and creating onlines.

Adobe: Which features stand out in Adobe After Effects CC for your VFX teams?
Michul: Our teams rave about the integration between After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Photoshop because they can move back and forth between editorial timelines and graphics comps effortlessly. Our VFX artists like the new features complementary to the Roto Brush tool in After Effects. The New Keyer effects help us to clean keys and the Refine Edge tool helps us fine-tune edges when isolating objects—a process that would normally be massively time consuming.

The new camera tracker combined with CINEMA 4D integration in After Effects has improved the workflow for match-moving cameras among programs. Also, because we’re a collective of smart, independent freelancers, the ability to keep work organized in folders in After Effects is crucial for hand-offs to artists further down the pipeline. Finally, everyone can bring in multiple different formats and use them all in a single workspace, whether we’re working with high-scale budgets, small budgets, motion control rigs, green screens—whatever variables are involved.



Using the camera tracker to track a plate for Comcast spot that will integrate a 3D rendered flat screen. Keylight being used to key the chroma green background that will also lead way to a 3D set extension.

Adobe: What’s your reaction to Adobe Creative Cloud overall?
Roe: We love having access to all the applications and updates at any time and installing just what we need. We can expand our creative toolkit if we want to include tools such as Bridge, Media Encoder, or Encore. Creative Cloud takes the headache out of customizing every workstation for individual preferences and needs.

The bottom line is that Creative Cloud makes us more adaptive as a small post house. We have our fingers in commercials, music videos, features, and TV. Because we are nimble and creative, we get interesting work that keeps our talented artists engaged and wanting to excel. One of our driving forces is to do good work, and Creative Cloud makes that far easier because we spend less time on technicalities and more time on creativity.

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Posted by: Adobe Sponsored on May 29, 2014 at 12:01:47 pm Creative Cloud, Customers
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Filmmaking dreams realized

Talented Swedish director edits first feature film using Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Pablo Fernandez began his career at 15, working as a full-time graphic designer. His father owned a successful Swedish advertising agency and growing up surrounded by creativity greatly influenced his style and passion for design. By the age of 18 he owned his own production company and was experimenting with Motion Graphics and 3D. After a brief time in South America and Spain working in 3D Engineering, he returned to Sweden and turned his attention to film, commercial, and online 3D post-production work. Eventually, he started directing and is now achieving his goal of working on his first full-length feature film, edited using an Adobe Creative Cloud workflow.



Adobe: What is your background and how did you get started in film?
Fernandez: I’m a Sweden-based director with roots in Uruguay. I worked as a visual effects supervisor for a while but realized that directing was my passion so I’ve been directing small projects for many years now, including music videos, TV commercials, and ads for the web. During this time, I've also been writing scripts for shorts and features.

Three years ago I decided to take the big leap and focus on what I really wanted to do—write and direct—so I sold my company and shot a couple of short films. Last summer I couldn’t wait anymore so I invested all the money I had saved and decided to shoot my first feature, We Will Part.

Adobe: What is the film about?
Fernandez: We Will Part is a story of two people, Zoe and Taylor, who find themselves forced to be together in a little cabin in the countryside in Sweden. She is from the big city and he lives in the country. The story is about doing what you love, and not taking anything for granted. It is about that person that changes you forever, that one that you’ll always remember, who forced you to take those steps that you thought were impossible.



Adobe: What special considerations went into the production?
Fernandez: I knew it would be difficult to do with the little money I had, so I wrote the script knowing it needed to include as few actors and locations as possible. I finished the script in 10 days and I wrote it in English, even though I knew my dialog wouldn’t be good enough. I planned to let the actors improvise, so perfect dialog would not be necessary. I wanted to fool them into thinking the movie would be set up a certain way, so I didn’t show them the script. I only told them what the scenes were about and then let them find their way to make the scene work.

Adobe: Can you give us an example of how this played out during the shoot?
Fernandez: I told the male lead that the movie was a romantic drama, which it is, but I told him that if he didn't make the girl fall for him we wouldn’t have a movie. Then, I told the female lead the opposite. I told her that whatever the male lead did, she would never fall for him, that he had nothing she wanted. This caused the actors a lot of frustration because they thought the other one didn’t understand what we were doing. Creating the film in this way made the dialog very natural and real. They did a great job with the little info I gave them and I’m really pleased with the result.



Adobe: What Adobe products did you use on We Will Part?
Fernandez: We used a full Adobe Creative Cloud workflow, beginning with Adobe Premiere Pro for editing. I’d worked with Adobe products for many years, and Roberth Nordh, the film’s editor and a long time Avid user, thought this would be the perfect time to learn how Premiere Pro works. We used After Effects for some shots and we even designed the poster for the film in Photoshop. We are also using Media Encoder constantly now to export renders and we used Audition for some sound edits. Creative Cloud offers a great set of tools with everything you need to complete any project—visuals, sound, graphics, web, you name it.

Adobe: What did you like most about working with Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
Fernandez: We shot the film on RED Epic (HDR-mode) and the Blackmagic camera in raw. What we love the most is how Premiere Pro handles different formats without any problems. Whatever format you throw at it, Premiere Pro seems to be able to play without issues. The ability to use Dynamic Link, which eliminates intermediate rendering between Premiere Pro and After Effects, is also great. I must add that Roberth Nordh’s work is amazing. He really took the material to a higher level.

Adobe: What is next for your film?
Fernandez: Right now we have a rough cut of the movie and in June we have four days of pick-up shooting for the movie. Some scenes need some extra footage and there are a couple of new things we need to add to make the story work on every level. After that, we will make the final edits. We haven't started yet with the visual effects for the movie but we’ve already used After Effects on some shots that needed some tweaking, such as sky replacements, combining two different shots, rotoscoping, stabilizing, and tracking. The music is being written by the talented Swedish band Notice To Airmen whose song “Elegant Words” we used in the trailer.

Adobe: Are you already looking forward to another project?
Fernandez: After We Will Part I’m planning on shooting one of two scripts that I’ve been working on. One of them requires some money, while other one can be done with less. Which one I do first depends on the financial support.

Watch the trailer






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Posted by: Adobe Sponsored on May 27, 2014 at 9:51:52 am Creative Cloud, Customers
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The Black Diamond run for filmmakers

Warren Miller Entertainment keeps on thrilling audiences with breathtaking athletics, brilliant production, and Adobe video apps

Many winter sports enthusiasts recall sitting in high school auditoriums or theaters on the edge of their chairs watching content from Warren Miller, a legendary American ski and snowboarding filmmaker. Miller produced, directed, and narrated his films until 1988. His talented staff continues to create iconic films about skiing and other outdoor winter sports that are renowned for their stunning photography, witty narrative humor, and impressive athletic talent. Two of the people who’ve kept the Warren Miller Entertainment legacy alive are John Barcklay, post-production supervisor, and Kim Schneider, executive editor. Both have spent decades working with Warren Miller and recently adopted an all-Adobe workflow, including Adobe Premiere Pro software.



Adobe: Tell us how both of you got started with Warren Miller?
Schneider: I was living in my truck in Lake Tahoe, California at a ski area when I met Warren. I knew what I wanted to do from the time I was 12 years old—to ski and make movies about skiing—so there was no hesitation in taking the job as editor with Warren. People tell me I’m one-dimensional, and my answer is “Isn’t that great?” That’s how I got started, and I have been working in editing films with Warren Miller for 35 years. I’m now executive editor—it never gets old.
Barcklay: I have been working with Warren Miller Entertainment for 25 years. I started back in 1989, running film back and forth from Hermosa Beach to Burbank to drop off dailies and bring them back. I would log all the key codes on the film, a very time-consuming and tedious process. I gradually worked up through different positions to become post production supervisor.



Adobe: How has the workflow changed since the early days?
Schneider: I’m dating myself, but I used to hack frames apart with a razor blade and then tape them back together. If frames were missing, I’d have to hack up film and put back the missing frames. We would cut the film and hang the footage up on hooks that were called trim bins—that’s where the term bin that is used today in digital video originated. Using bins was never foolproof, and sometimes cuts of footage got lost or fell. It was nightmarish trying to stay organized. Then we went to videotapes, which also had their issues. We tracked videotapes of footage using arcane methods like Polaroid pictures with time codes pasted on sheets of foam or cardboard. Then we had to find a shot by going through footage to find the right time code.

Adobe: When things first went digital, what was your strategy?
Barcklay: We started out with Avid, then moved to Final Cut Pro in 2003. But then when Final Cut Pro X came around, it didn’t meet a lot of our needs as professionals. We took a look at Adobe Premiere Pro and were impressed with its professional color correction, compositing, and so on. Also, when we saw that we could throw virtually any format on the timeline whenever people got back from a shoot without having to transcode it, we were instantly sold. We can just import footage and start working. That’s crucial for us for two reasons: we work with huge volumes of footage, sometimes upwards of 200 hours, and we have to cull it down to a 90-minute feature. And, we typically have a lot of cameras running in different locations using different formats when we’re making our annual feature film, so we can’t spare the time to transcode everything.

Adobe: What is your editing process?
Schneider: We start by formulating a plan for the year. In theory I’m just an editor, but I’ve been with Warren Miller for so long I’m always involved in the planning stages. We talk about the direction we want to go, but our plan is somewhat dictated by the weather. Eventually, the footage ends up on a drive in front of me. I work offsite for a good part of the year, and I just start dragging it into Premiere Pro and wailing away on it. In a lot of ways you can put us into the music video category because we rely heavily on the soundtrack to motivate the edits. In the end, it’s all about the action – how someone turns, how deep the snow is, and the overall beauty of a shot.



Barcklay: Before everything goes to Kim, we send out the shots for a quick color-correction on the dailies. After the edit is complete, we organize the shots and remove any spots on lenses, hair, or dirt using Adobe After Effects or Photoshop. We may also transform some of the footage for YouTube, Vimeo, and tablets for our Active Interest Media publishing arm. We also use After Effects for various graphic based projects and Adobe Encore to create Blu-ray discs for our annual feature film tour and many other projects.

Adobe: Has working with Adobe Premiere Pro made editing fun again?
Schneider: For me, it’s almost like playing a video game. The way we do it now has given me the longevity I needed. The computers just have to get faster and faster to keep up. Filmmakers are now able to bring excitement to editing, a part of the filmmaking process that’s usually not considered that glamorous. I remember the days when we laid pieces of film on top of each other and crammed them into a projector or sent them off to an optical house. We wouldn’t see the results for a week, and they were often not even close to what we were imagining. Today, we can composite several shots and see the results in 10 minutes—it’s amazing. The speed and professional features, combined with the ability to instantly work with any format on the timeline—all these facets have completely transformed our workflow for the better.



Adobe: Do you have any favorite features in Premiere Pro?
Schneider: I’ve never sat in an editing room with a monitor two feet away from my face. Instead, I work on a three foot by four foot screen that’s eight feet away. In my ultimate world I would edit in a movie theater. The one keystroke I use all day long is when you hold your mouse over the media browser and hit the tilde key and the frame goes full screen. I also like using the Blend Mode in Premiere Pro for compositing. My presets are all there and I can just cycle through them all the time and try new things. I’m convinced that many of the things that happen in digital that are truly amazing come from people’s mistakes.

Adobe: Do you think you will continue along this path for a while?
Schneider: This is a phenomenal line of work and I like what I do. I work with extremely passionate people throughout the industry but the people at Warren Miller are the best. The cameramen are on the side of a mountain shooting when they could be in a studio making $5,000 to $10,000 a day. It’s amazing to be able to marry our passions into a career. The work on the films we’re doing really conveys the passion people feel for skiing. We have a 75% return rate of audiences every year, and viewers range from 8 to 88 years old. It is something we’re privileged to be part of.

Watch the Ticket to Ride trailer

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Posted by: Adobe Sponsored on Apr 24, 2014 at 10:02:13 am Creative Cloud, Customers
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Working hard in corporate video—and loving it

Leah Earle and Phanta Media deliver brilliant work with Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Leah Earle loves her job. As a video editor for Phanta Media in Toronto, she looks forward to going to work. Founded by Mark Drager in 2006, Phanta Media is a rising star in the corporate video universe, known for delivering great work on real-world timelines. Earle describes the 10-person company as cozy but rapidly growing, with a staff comprising business development representatives, producers, motion graphics, and video editors. Earle often works late and sometimes on weekends—and can’t get enough of it.


(Most of) the Phanta Media team: Mark Drager on the left, Leah Earle front center.

Adobe: What makes Phanta Media unique compared to other corporate video production companies?
Earle: We are extremely passionate, even if we are working on what some might consider a mundane corporate training video. We work hard and collaborate as a team. No one here is interested in being second best. This can lead to frustration, because I may get criticism from eight other people on my one great idea for an edit. But in the end it gives the client with the best possible product. We are a small company, and every client has a personal and highly creative experience with us. We “bring it,” every time to create beautiful projects on tight deadlines.

Adobe: What is it like working with Mark Drager?
Earle: Mark is the reason I took this job and also the reason I am still here. He is 31 years old and started this company when he was only 23. He had the confidence to know that he could make better videos then the next guy, and his enthusiasm is infectious—it makes us motivated to push ourselves. He promises clients that we will blow them away with our skills, and we always do.

Adobe: How did you get into this line of work?
Earle: I always wanted to do something technical, but I went to school for English literature because I was uncertain about what path to take. A few people guided me toward journalism. That led me to a video journalism postgraduate program at Conestoga College. I really liked shooting, and I didn't mind being on camera or reading a teleprompter, but what I loved right away was editing.



Adobe: When did you start using Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
Earle: I had never used Premiere Pro before I came to Phanta Media. Previously, Phanta Media was a Final Cut Pro shop, but like many in the industry, the company started looking for other options as soon as Final Cut Pro X came out. Premiere Pro is very "editor-friendly," and that’s been a huge plus in growing my career.

Adobe: How would you compare Premiere Pro to other editing software?
Earle: For starters, you don't have to log and capture footage. The scrubbing and playback in Premiere Pro is much faster than Final Cut, and not having to render something just to to watch it is a dream. I find the program makes it really easy to adjust my shortcuts and organize my workspace and projects. I like being able to save things such as title templates to use throughout projects, because I do a lot of subtitle work. Even the addition of the tiny window at the top left where you can preview your clip when you click once is helpful. I need to sort through mountains of footage fast. I like being able to export using Adobe Media Encoder as I work, because no one wants to have to stop and wait to export.



Adobe: What else do you use in your pipeline?
Earle: I use Photoshop and After Effects for most graphics. I can bring graphics files straight into the Premiere Pro timeline, without having to export them every time I change the file, which is so great. I can click on something and edit it on the spot, rather than having to look for the file and open it in another program. This saves so much time on projects, especially those with hundreds of After Effects files that you’d normally have to re-time.

I sometimes edit in Adobe Audition when I am facing a complex audio problem or when I’m tasked with voiceovers. When I first started I was in charge of setting up new DVD templates and Adobe Encore was so easy to learn and use to burn DVDs. Now, I use Adobe Media Encoder a lot to create files for various media: the Internet, PCs, or DVDs—whatever clients want.



Adobe: What was your experience in moving to Adobe Creative Cloud?
Earle: My favorite thing about the switch to Adobe Creative Cloud, was the new finding and re-linking function in Premiere Pro. This is crucial, because a few of us may be working on the same project. Files often reside in different places and get moved around a lot.

All in all, the interfaces, shortcuts, and other commands among Adobe’s creative software apps are so uniform that I grow more familiar with the tools and the workflows every day. This makes me increasingly more efficient and gets rid of that frustrating gap between what the technology can do and what you think it should be able to do. With Creative Cloud, I can take greater advantage of each program’s full potential to realize any creative ideas we dream up.

Mark Drager and Kyle Wilson of Phanta Media are presenting an Ask a Video Pro session on April 24, 2014 at 10 am PT called How to Build a Successful Corporate Video BusinessRegister here to join this free online seminar. 

Visit the Phanta Media website

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Posted by: Adobe Sponsored on Apr 23, 2014 at 9:41:50 am Creative Cloud, Customers
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Creating a visual experience for Fatboy Slim at Coachella

Production company creates immersive experience for well-known DJ artist at art and music festival using Adobe Creative Cloud

Plastic Reality is a production company known for branding and other video work for big corporate clients such as BP and Unilever. But unlike most corporate video companies, Plastic Reality has a wild side, called The Happiness Labs, focused on producing experiential content and graphics for live events and installations.

In creating new realities and immersive experiences, The Happiness Labs raised the bar for British DJ, musician, rapper, and record producer Fatboy Slim at the 2014 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Tim Fleming, executive producer of The Happiness Labs, shares how Fatboy Slim’s otherworldly stage experience came together.

Adobe: What makes you excited about working with bands?
Fleming: I worked at an advertising company at the beginning of my career, but then I had the chance to work with big-name artists and tour with various art collectives. I was excited to be working with people who were very receptive to new creative ideas. Layering visuals and lighting was becoming a big part of these shows and I started to think about how video content could further enhance the experience.

Today bands think about shows as a whole experience with intricate props and designs from the moment they kick them off, but it wasn’t always that way. Seeing how these shows were being constructed as an experience, especially in the electronic music space, and being a bit of a party boy I thought it looked like a lot of fun.

Adobe: How did you get connected with Fatboy Slim?
Fleming: I’ve had a longstanding relationship with Fatboy Slim, aka Norman Cook. He is a superstar DJ and lovely bloke all at the same time. When I started with him around 2000 or 2001, he was already famous for his videos. His record label had seen the work we’d done with some artists, and asked us to submit a treatment for his upcoming video, “Star 69.”

A while later, Norman was approached to do a show on Brighton Beach. It was one of the first large outdoor shows with a DJ and his team knew they would need some content for the show. They liked what we’d done for “Star 69,” so they asked us to work on the show. The first Brighton Beach Boutique show had 60,000 attendees, and the second one had 250,000. From then on I was on the bus and the next stop was a show in Brazil for about 350,000 people.






Adobe: How would you describe the Coachella show?
Fleming: Coachella in 2014 has a big focus on electronic acts and electronic dance music. The performance at Coachella was an evolution of everything we’ve been doing over the last several years to turn watching a DJ into a magical experience that transports audiences into another realm with incredible lighting, imagery, effects, video, and graphics. The heart of his show is focused on his hit track “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat.”

Adobe: Tell us more about “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat.”
Fleming: Well there’s an interesting story around where the actual lyric for “Eat, Sleep, Rave Repeat” came from. In between shows I was editing some shots for Norman and he sent me a mail at around midnight when I was still working, asking how it was going. I sent him a one line reply saying, “Eat, Sleep, Edit, Rave, Repeat.”

Next thing I knew he sent me a demo titled “Your Tune.” Then he got RivaStarr and Beardyman involved and the whole thing grew into a monster to the point where, a few months after this email conversation, we’re getting photos sent in from people who have tattoos saying “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat.”

Adobe: How did this idea translate to Coachella?
Fleming: Coachella originally approached us asking if we would like to do a show based around the four seasons. The set at Coachella is 60 minutes long, so the festival organizers were looking to split it into four parts and use a bunch of physical effects, such as fire, snow, and rain, to accentuate the different seasons. We had a think about this and obviously loved the idea of the different physical effects but thought the four seasons might be a bit like doing opera.

We got Team Fatboy together over a good lunch as we usually do and started throwing some ideas around. We realized we could re-work “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat” into “Heat, Sleet, Rain, Repeat”—job done! We got to keep the physical effects but incorporate them into Norm’s global smash hit.

Adobe: What special elements are included in the Coachella show?
Fleming: As well as building a boom box that has ice, fire, and rain built into it we used a 3D model of Norman’s head that was shot at Pinewood Studios. We inserted it in with other graphics and 3D elements around the head. It appears every couple of bars in the song. All of the mapping was done and put together in After Effects CC, along with the textures and finishing.





We also put Norman in the middle of the screen in a 9x9 matrix and created accompanying video content and original graphics, including a fun fruit machine. All of the video content was edited in Adobe Premiere Pro CC. It was great to be able to throw multiple codecs and file types right onto the timeline in Premiere Pro CC and have it work seamlessly.



Adobe: How do you pull off these surreal experiences?
Fleming: We combined a well-researched history of being the last one on the dance floor with other techniques, some involving big rig or prop installations and others requiring software. We’ve always been big After Effects users. CINEMA 4D and After Effects are at the heart of everything we do and their widespread adoption throughout the creative industry is a reflection of the quality results that can be achieved. Adobe Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC are also key to our workflow and we appreciate having all of the tools available to us in Adobe Creative Cloud.

Adobe: What do you think of the closer integration between Adobe After Effects CC and CINEMA 4D?
Fleming: The forthcoming era of deeper integration between CINEMA 4D and After Effects CC is very exciting and we are really looking forward to seeing how it enhances our workflow. We really just find them a joy to play with and encourage all younger artists who are working with us to learn this combination. We’re also excited about the option of rendering in the cloud so we don’t tie up local resources.

Adobe: The shows you put together have an entirely new look. What is it you’re trying to accomplish?
Fleming: EDM shows tend to look very polished, high-def, and fast moving. We wanted to do something a little different to set us apart. That’s why we shot some original content for Coachella in black and white and slow motion and edited it in Adobe Premiere Pro CC. In one shot, we have people jumping around that we filmed with a slow motion camera. So the look is a bit different than your classic EDM footage. We also slapped Norman in the face with a fish and filmed that in slow-mo!






Adobe: What are the benefits of moving to Adobe Creative Cloud?
Fleming: We work with small teams plus many freelancers. Our Adobe Creative Cloud for teams membership helps us move seats around so artists working in different locations are all on the same version and have the software they need when they need it. We’re also looking at trying new tools like Adobe Prelude CC for ingest, at no extra charge. That’s a big bonus.

Adobe:
What’s in the future for you?
Fleming: Fatboy Slim has the World Cup coming up in June in Brazil, followed by the 2014 Glastonbury Festival. Norman is trying to go for the world record for the most consecutive Glastonbury Festival’s played, so he can’t miss it! There are other festivals planned during the summer months as well, so we’ll be busy.

Our work has become so diversified that we’re going to continue to use Plastic Reality for our corporate work. But now we’re developing The Happiness Labs for the fun, experiential work we’re doing for bands and brands. We’re looking to develop content for immersive, virtual reality technologies such as Oculus Rift, Leap Motion, and Thalmic Labs MYO. There’s a big shift in the way content and storytelling is being developed, and we intend to be at the convergence of the amazing new wave of tech and tools and the never-ending desire for a good story that we humans have.

Tim would like to thank long-time collaborators Chris Cousins, Joe Plant, and Bob Jaroc, as well as Mike Sansom at Bright Fire Pyro for working on this year's content.

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Posted by: Adobe Sponsored on Apr 18, 2014 at 1:28:23 pm Creative Cloud, Customers
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