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.
Video Playback and Graphics team uses Adobe Creative Cloud and plugins from FxFactory to create period-specific news content
To make the set of GNN, the 24-hour news channel featured in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues as realistic as possible required one essential element: content. It was the job of the video playback and graphics team to fill the dozens of screens throughout the fictional studio with realistic, period-specific news.
Rather than filling the screens in post production and using archived news reports, the team produced nearly all original content and fed it to the screens in real time. News reports were shot and composited together with stock footage using an Adobe Creative Cloud video workflow and plugins from FxFactory, which offers a broad range of VFX tools for editors and compositors.
Playback Supervisor, Todd Marks, worked closely with his hand-picked team, designers Perry Freeze and Jeb Johenning to create the functioning 1980s GNN studio and news-office that helps set the stage for the blockbuster comedy. Todd and Jeb have worked together on many projects over the last 12 years. Perry was added to the team when they worked on the film The Internship in 2012.
Adobe: What were your roles on the Anchorman 2 movie? Marks: I was the playback supervisor, responsible for overseeing all of the content creation and playback. In this case, my team put together and ran the functioning GNN studios, and we created all of the content, some which was story specific and some was just background imagery to add to the reality of the time period and the set. We call it “bg" (background) footage and we created a lot of it. Freeze: I worked as a designer on the film and also helped coordinate the data asset management, which involved keeping track of all of the moving pieces and approvals. On this movie we had a fairly short development cycle. We had to get up and running with a graphics package for the studio, and within the studio we wanted to have up to 10 channels on air featuring news from around the world. Johenning: I was also a designer, working with Perry on the content. When we initially looked at the breadth of content it was enormous. We had in excess of 100 different videos with one or more ways that we needed to create them, without actually knowing how they would be used.
Adobe: How does it all start? Marks: We get a script and have to breakdown what’s written, which involves meetings with the production designer, set decorator, director, and even the props and construction people. We make recommendations and try to push beyond what most people think can be done. With the story specific content, we needed to help tell the story in a short amount of time in a visually accurate, period-specific manner. Each film has different needs. For this movie, we needed to recreate a news studio look (we referenced CNN’s style during its launch in 1980). GNN starts with a simple graphics package at launch, as they are on the air longer, we had the look mature by increasing the complexity of the font and graphics package.
Adobe: How did you go about creating the content? Freeze: We couldn’t possibly get clearance from actual archived material or we would have had to stick to a very narrow, stock footage type of content. So very early on we decided to make all of the content. Johenning: In the GNN studio’s office, there is a big wall with 15 different monitors that show everything happening around the world. Every piece of footage had to look local to its environment. We hired actors to be our period reporters and we then filmed “man-on-the-street” interviews. I’m a videographer, so Perry and I worked with our video team and shot most of the unique footage for this project. The wardrobe people put the actors in period costume and we filmed them against a green screen in both interior and exterior locations.
Later, we composited them into different locations, such as in front of the Pyramids in Egypt, the slums in Kenya, or farmland in Iowa. Each one had a different graphical look and feel. We created fake names for the people and used different fonts that would be local to the region. The backgrounds were sourced from stock footage or public domain sources. We also went around Atlanta, Georgia and filmed b-roll elements that we later used as content in our news reports, in addition to the composited green screen shots.
Adobe: Was it easy to integrate the new and old footage? Johenning: All of the new footage was shot on a Sony F3, so it was beautiful HD quality. The stock footage backgrounds were 10, 15, or even 20 years old, standard-definition video and film, so the look of the two formats was completely different. We had to dumb down the foreground shots to make them look believable with the background stuff. We used an extensive array of Adobe tools, including Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Photoshop, to make everything look authentic. Marks: The PHYX products from FxFactory were used extensively. We used PHYX KEYER tools, PHYX CLEANER, and PHYX DEFOCUS to create composites, match the looks of the different footage, and add depth to the shots to make them look realistic. Using the PHYX filters with After Effects and Premiere Pro really helped to streamline our workflow. Johenning: In some cases, we could stay entirely in Premiere Pro, and in other cases we would take footage into After Effects for more specialized compositing. We would ultimately always end up in Premiere Pro, where we would up-res the SD to HD so we could have the cleanest keys, edges, and color correction. The last step was to down-res and use the link to Media Encoder to output a SD piece of footage for playback on an SD monitor.
Adobe: Did you use any other plugins from FxFactory? Marks: In addition to the PHYX filters, we used FxFactory Bad TV filters to add static hits and signal degradation, just as you would see with a normal satellite feed. Using these plugins adds a sense of reality and gives us the opportunity to do cuts that aren’t perceived by the audience. We used about 10 different FxFactory plugins throughout the film. For news elements, there are specific plugins that add realism to the feel and look.
Adobe: What was the most challenging part of the data asset management? Freeze: Films don’t shoot chronologically, so it’s important to keep track of what media needs to be on air and how it needs to look at that point in the movie. We used Adobe Bridge to keep track of revisions, star approved artwork, and manage all folders. Bridge is universally tied into Photoshop and Illustrator, making it easy to create contact sheets of all of our work, print them out and post them, or show the top 10 revisions on an iPad to the director while on location, for quick approval. Marks: The studio had about 150 CRT monitors, and we were able to route from 14 different feeds to each monitor at any time. It requires keeping track of what’s on each monitor in what scene, which involves lots of logistics in additional to the technical aspects. Some of first scenes we did in the studio were in Linda Jackson’s office, where there were three monitors on a far wall. We thought they would just be in the background, but the actors were placed right in front of them. You never know whether something you work on for days or weeks will be shown for just seconds or be featured prominently in a scene. This makes it even more important to keep track of shots so you don’t see the same footage in more than one scene.
Adobe: Have you started using Adobe Creative Cloud? Johenning: I was already using Adobe Master Collection CS6, but when Creative Cloud came out I jumped on the bandwagon. An added benefit of Creative Cloud is that it included Adobe Muse. I was a user of Muse for my own business website and having that part of Adobe Creative Cloud was a real bonus! I had switched to Adobe Premiere Pro after Apple introduced Final Cut Pro X, and it’s the only editing program I use right now. Freeze: I’m using Creative Cloud as well. The thing about using Creative Cloud is that when we’re working with teams everyone is on the same current, updated release. We used to deal with people not installing updates, or being on a different version all together, which created problems in our pipeline.
Adobe: What was the process like when you were on set? Freeze: As prepared as we were, it was very much like a live news broadcast. We were using an AJA IO system to connect After Effects and Premiere Pro directly into our video switcher that was going out to the studio floor. It wasn’t what you would typically do in a TV production situation. We were creating content for the movie on the fly by tying directly into a switcher that was taking live camera feeds of Will Ferrell’s character, and then using After Effects to quickly apply lower thirds and over the shoulder graphics. Marks: Because we were using standard definition CRTs, to make them look like they came from the right period, the set dressing department created plastic bezels that made the screen sizes even smaller than typical CRTs. This made the normal safety area even smaller, couple that with each old TV monitor’s slightly different scaling, and often I would actually have to be on the studio floor talking the control room through the proper positioning of the graphics on a featured screen. Freeze: We would run around on the floor with cameras and take pictures of our work on the older TVs, go back to Photoshop or Illustrator and create a matte, and save it as a new title or action safe that could then be applied in After Effects or Premiere Pro when we were working so we knew how something would look when we put it on the period monitors. When you’re on a movie set and you have an entire crew, including all of the actors, waiting for you to finish something or change something it’s a lot of pressure.
Adobe: How is this different than the visual effects we see in other films? Johenning: None of what we do is done in post production. A lot of visual effects in movies involve after-the-fact effects. I’m not diminishing the importance of that approach to moviemaking, but in our case rather than filling a monitor with a solid green image and creating, tracking, and coloring the content after a scene is shot, we have to do it as if it’s a live TV show and make it look real and believable.
Adobe: Why was this approach useful in the Anchorman 2 production? Freeze: We ultimately helped make a better movie because the content was live. The actors could see themselves on the monitors and ad lib, and we made changes to things like titles on the fly. Marks: We surprised the crew with our capabilities, and it freed the post production people up a lot. There was one scene where we were able to use Photoshop to quickly build a full map of the United States, with temperatures throughout the country, and then overlay satellite imagery using Premiere Pro. Because they were able to use the map in the scene instead of just having a green screen, Steve Carrell was able to see himself on the monitor and play off of what was happening. The director was also able to give him direction based on what he saw evolving. It was some of the most hysterical stuff we shot and it wouldn’t have happened if it was done in post production.
Adobe: Can you give an example of how After Effects was used? Marks: One of the scenes in the movie shows the characters covering a car chase. Production was quite concerned about the cost of staging the chase, but the stock footage we had wasn’t long enough. Through some creative editing, Perry made it happen. Freeze: We had chase footage of two cars, one grey convertible with a closed black canvas top on the freeway and one larger grey car primarily going through neighborhoods. We used the Roto Brush in After Effects to track the roof of the larger car and then darken the roof to match the other vehicle. By using tools in Premiere Pro to flip the footage and slow down and speed up shots, we were able to edit together a longer scene, with four different segments for playback.
Adobe: Were there any other benefits of working with Adobe video tools? Marks: With Adobe tools being so portable we were able to take the same laptop we used on stage back to our hotel room and still have the same powerful workflow. It was especially useful when we were working late on graphics that were needed for the next day of shooting. Doing our job would be nearly impossible without Adobe’s powerful software tools.
An ambitious content delivery goal will be met with a workflow featuring Adobe Premiere Pro CC
Pulling off the broadcast of the largest sports show on earth, spanning nearly a month’s worth of content, is no small task. HBS, FIFA’s dedicated host broadcaster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, has contracted EVS and Moovit. EVS will provide for the central FIFA Media Asset Exchange Server (FIFA MAX) located at the International Broadcast Center (IBC) and all editing workstation will be supplied by MoovIT. Central to the editing workflow is Adobe Premiere Pro CC, which will help editors quickly turn around content for distribution to multilateral production facilities and FIFA’s Media Rights Licensees (known as MRLs).
The central media server is the hub for the production operation during the competition. All material generated by HBS will be uploaded and logged onto the server and users connected to the system will be able to search and browse via dedicated browsing stations and transfer content into their system for unilateral programming requirements. All multilateral editing workstations required for post-production and multimedia will also be connected with the large SAN storage as part of the central server based on EVS technology.
Moovit was brought on board to provide the 54 workstations with Premiere Pro CC for editing live content and creating features, promos, as well as all components required for multimedia production. This new workflow will enable editors to turn content around more quickly than ever before. The central media server, acting as a shared storage, integrates with Premiere Pro CC by using the EVS IPLink interface.
Editors using Premiere Pro CC and the IPLink interface will be able to directly connect to the server, making it easy to create final edits of updates, promos, and multimedia packages. In addition, external media from various sources will come in from the ENG crews and be combined on the workstations without any transcoding to quickly produce the content.
For multimedia clients a wide selection of Video on Demand (VOD) clips will be provided by the host broadcaster. These clips need to be provided quickly so they can be immediately featured on websites, through mobile subscription sites, or by sponsors and broadcasters. After an event happens, such as a goal or a red card, a clip should be available online within minutes and available in various languages.
Moovit and EVS will both help HBS to meet this enterprising goal so that fans in multiple countries will be able to experience the action in near real time. With a customized workflow that includes Premiere Pro CC, FIFA, through this service, will keep fans around the world on the edge of their seats as they follow the action and relive key moments from their favorite teams and players.
Seamless visual effects for The Wolf of Wall Street created with help from Adobe After Effects CC and Adobe Photoshop CC
Paul and Christina Graff of Crazy Horse Effects (CHE) are visual effects aficionados, with projects to their credit such as There Will Be Blood and Life of Pi. They also work with a team of some of the best matte painters and designers in the visual effects industry, and are recognized for their award-winning compositing. They recently created some seamless visual effects for The Wolf of Wall Street, directed by Martin Scorsese, with Oscar-winning VFX supervisor Rob Legato overseeing the shots.
Adobe: How did you become involved with The Wolf of Wall Street? Paul: I actually met Rob at a panel presenting outstanding work in VFX done in After Effects. We went to have a drink afterwards and he asked me about our new office in New York. We had worked on The Aviator and Shutter Island with him and he thought we could help with some of the shots in The Wolf of Wall Street. We were stoked to make the reunion with Rob, and excited to work on the project, although we joined the team late in the game when most of the effects were already well underway.
Adobe: What type of work did he send your way? Christina: We didn't do any of the normal set extension work that we usually do. Instead, we focused on a lot of last minute fixes and designed several sequences. We worked on a lot of quirky shots! We contributed to several corporate identity “videos,” a few driving scenes, and a longer sequence with the real Jordan Belford at the end of the movie. Our work is really scattered throughout the movie.
Adobe: What sequences stand out? Christina: We had a great scene to work on where Leonardo DiCaprio’s character is dizzy on Quaaludes and stumbles down a staircase at his country club. The actual set had only four steps, but Leonardo’s Quaalude-induced point of view the staircase appeared much longer. Rob had a version of the same staircase built that was much longer surrounded by green screens. This set was a bit bouncy and needed attention. Our job was to connect the extension stairs with the original set environment and make the staircase appear sturdier by rebuilding them digitally and blending everything together. We rebuilt the scene using a 2.5D set up in After Effects CC. We also extended the country club in the establishing shot that looks up to the top of the stairs. In the end, it looked believable, as if it really happened. On other projects, we’re also using a lot of the 3D capabilities of CINEMA 4D—its integration with After Effects CC is allowing us to do 3D work with much greater speed and ease.
Adobe: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced? Paul: There is a corporate identity video playing at the beginning of the film and we had to recreate all of the stock exchange footage in that scene from scratch. We had some content that was very low quality, NTSC material and we needed to basically recreate the shots avoiding any copyright issues. Rob shot extras on green screen and we did our own mini VFX shoot in our New York office and used Adobe Photoshop CC to create matte paintings for the background. We only had about two days to do it and it was very challenging, but creating environments is one of our strengths.
Adobe: Were any particular features of After Effects CC helpful? Paul: For one shot on a yacht, we had to recreate the floor and the reflections on the floor, including replacing a diamond-shaped logo. The shots we had to work with were created using a Steadicam stabilizer, but they were not quite steady enough. Based on Rob’s suggestion, we used the Warp Stabilizer in After Effects CC, and were impressed with the results. We’ve now started using Warp Stabilizer on more shots.
Also, the dwarf toss scene was shot spherical on Alexa, so we had to match it to the rest of the sequence that was shot on film with anamorphic lenses. It was quite tricky to get the texture of the files to look close to identical. We didn't use plugins, we just relied on curves, blurs, and displacement maps in After Effects to achieve the desired look.
Adobe: What was it like coming in late on a project? How did you succeed? Paul: We came in late, but all of our work was high quality with a fast turnaround so Rob kept giving us bigger and bigger pieces of the pie. The Wolf of Wall Street included some content that was considered inappropriate by the Motion Picture Association of America. In the last phase of post production, Rob asked us to go on site at Deluxe Labs in New York where the final DI color corrections where being done to help them with some fixes to make the film more commercially appropriate. I went to Rob’s office at Deluxe and set up an iMac with After Effects on it and started working. In one day we did 16 retiming shots and one scene where we placed a chair in a scene to block some of the content. For me, it’s all about the finishing. You really show your colors at the end of a movie, and anything that came up last minute we knocked out.
Adobe: What was the benefit of working with Creative Cloud? Christina: Creative Cloud lets us be super mobile. We can do what we do from anywhere—in the field, on site, or in the office.
Adobe: What was it like working with Rob Legato again? Christina: He’s a genius, one of those people who has creative vision but also knows technology. He has fantastic concepts and vivid mental images, but also gives his VFX artists the freedom to devise their own ways of doing things.
Brian Sales and Blake Loyd of Crazy Horse Effects will be presenting in the Adobe booth at NAB 2014 on Monday, April 7th and Tuesday, April 8th.
Pioneering filmmaker Ryan Connolly shares his passion for Adobe video software
After graduating from film school, Ryan Connolly started out in a fairly typical fashion: creating music videos and commercials for local clients. He then went on to run the video studio at PC game company Alienware. But rather than continue following the typical path of many aspiring filmmakers, Connolly came up with the idea to create Film Riot, an online show that would let him share how-to filmmaking tips, get feedback on his work, and ultimately build an audience and a community. Today, his renegade style has earned him a loyal online following and his company Triune Films continues to produce weekly online video content as well as short films and other film projects.
Adobe: What makes you a rule breaker in the industry? Connolly: My success with Film Riot lets me be my own boss and do less and less client work. Not that client work is bad, but at Triune Films we just wanted to be a group of friends having fun, doing what we wanted to do. We’ve been fortunate enough to achieve that. We don’t have a typical day or week; it really depends on what we’re working on at the time. If things get too normal I get completely disinterested. That’s why Film Riot isn’t the same thing each time.
Adobe: Your name is associated with Triune Film and Film Riot. Can you tell us how they are related? Connolly: Triune Films is the parent company that produces Film Riot, along with our other programs and projects. Film Riot is an online training ground for how to make great effects, learn best practices for editing, and so on. We also do video challenges and give out prizes to winners. The big thing for me with Film Riot is that we’ve built an amazing community—it’s not mandatory, but it has become part of our DNA to be kind, helpful, and supportive to each other in our creative efforts, versus critical. We’ve also built a loyal following on social networks: Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.
Adobe: Are there other aspects to the business? Connolly: Yes, we have built a brand that caters to indie filmmakers, who are a passionate bunch. We sell t-shirts, color preset packs for Adobe After Effects, sound effects packs—all kinds of things that our audience wants. We’ve also started a weekly YouTube show called Variant that focuses entirely on comics.
Adobe: Which software have you chosen to use over the years? Connolly: After Effects has always been our go-to for visual effects. For editing, I started using Adobe Premiere Pro right off, and then switched to Final Cut Pro when I went to film school. When Apple introduced Final Cut Pro X that was the end of that.
I’m now back on Premiere Pro CC and the integration among all the Adobe software solutions is amazing. It saves me hours every week because I’m not spending time rendering out sequences and trying to put them back in the timeline and fuss with them. The first time I saw Dynamic Link, I was amazed. If an edit to an effect was required, I could just Dynamic Link the change from After Effects and have it flow to Premiere Pro automatically. The integration among all the Adobe software programs seems to get better and better, too.
Adobe: Now that you have Adobe Creative Cloud, which applications do you use most? Connolly: My main four are Premiere Pro CC, After Effects CC, Audition CC, and Photoshop CC. Every now and again I use SpeedGrade CC for color correction and I’ve also started using Adobe Story CC for collaborative scriptwriting. Adobe Story CC, which I first tried because it was available to me through Creative Cloud, is the best collaborative scriptwriting software on the market, in my opinion. My designers also use Adobe Illustrator CC for title designs and so forth. I have to say, once I got Creative Cloud, I downloaded all kinds of software and kept thinking, “Wow, I can have this, too?” The choices were exciting.
Adobe: How big is your team and what volumes of content do you produce? Connolly: Today, we have four full-time and two part-time employees. Two of us are editors and we have one VFX expert. The others are focused more on logistics such as shipping, customer service, and social networking. I’m the only all-around filmmaker. I focus on writing, producing, and editing, tossing the heavier visual effects stuff to our VFX artist.
In terms of volume, we produce a lot of content between our weekly shows and other projects. We’re doing about three online episodes a week in addition to short films and miniseries-type work. We recently created a short film called Proximity. There’s always a ton going on.
Adobe: How can your team keep up? Connolly: A lot of it has to do with Creative Cloud. It’s so important to have everyone on the same software versions and be able to bounce everything back and forth on Macs or PCs. There are fewer kinks and version control issues in the workflow. That makes it easier for our small team to stay incredibly productive.
Adobe: How has your audience grown? Connolly: We’re always looking at our Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube numbers. When the numbers get stagnant, we know we need to switch gears and amp things up. We experienced gradual growth for many years, but over the past year-and-a-half our growth has accelerated. During that time we doubled what took us three or four years to grow. We now have 441,000 YouTube subscribers and more than 66 million views of our Film Riot videos.
Adobe: What’s next for you? Connolly: We plan to get into more new media and online shows as well as publishing comic books. We’ll continue to create short films, but we really want to move into creating full-length feature films. For now, one of the most exciting things for me is to have the opportunity to be somewhat of an online presence. It has been exciting to build a community that is friendly, collaborative, and constructive for creative indie filmmakers.
Powster creates striking user-interactive music video for Bombay Bicycle Club with Adobe Creative Cloud
Powster is nothing if not innovative. The interactive and motion graphics company provides “over-the-top” content, concepts, and apps for the entertainment industry. Powster’s inspiring work has earned the firm multiple accolades, including Webby and FWA awards, and a designation as one of the few Facebook Preferred Marketing Developers. One of Powster’s latest endeavors is an interactive music video for the band Bombay Bicycle Club and their song Carry Me. Ste Thompson, founder and creative director of Powster, shares how the groundbreaking interactive music video came together.
Adobe: Tell us more about Powster. Thompson: We create entertaining content, marketing concepts, and applications/games. Our biggest strengths are video and interactive. We’re among the first creative studios making interactive music videos such as the one for Bombay Bicycle Club. The project was exciting because it was one of our most creative and innovative projects. Our team is half video and half interactive led, so the Carry Me project was a perfect fit.
In addition, we write quite a bit of custom software to pull off some of our more unique projects. We created Orbital Video, a technology that allows us to have multiple cameras in a circle with a performer—break dancer, musician, etc.—in the middle. Once the video is complete and published, viewers can switch between camera feeds or pause the motion. Our Orbital Video technology sparked our interest in creating the interactive music video for Bombay Bicycle Club.
Adobe: What makes the Carry Me music video unique? Thompson: The video is an online experience that engages with audiences on a completely different level. It is fun for users because they can manipulate the band members like stop-motion puppets. Users can control them and move their bodies while the band members continue drumming or lip-synching. The interactive experience with the music video is something very unusual, because it puts control in the hands of the viewer. As a side note, we created both the interactive version and a linear version that can be viewed more like a traditional music video.
Adobe: How did the idea for the video come about? Thompson: Eadweard Muybridge inspired the album theme, and the video. He was an English photographer from the late 1800s who studied motion and motion-picture projection. A lot of people know him from his studies of horses running. His work centers on taking multiple stills and weaving them together to create motion. It was Muybridge’s concepts and studies that established 24 frames per second as the standard for moving pictures. We created this project on a concept of a zoetrope, a device that produces the illusion of motion from a rapid succession of static pictures.
Adobe: Tell us more about the creative process behind the video. Thompson: The whole idea was to be the first to make a linear piece of video footage interactive by allowing the user to switch between feeds, yet keep them in sync. We filmed nine different camera feeds at 1080p resolution, animated them, and edited them together in Adobe Premiere Pro CC. We had nine post-production processes on screen at once. Combined they were 5,000 pixels wide, so what we were trying to manage and edit was immense. We actually had to trick our graphics accelerator card and Adobe Premiere Pro CC so we could scale down every piece of footage and then scale each one back up in nested sequences, and retain quality. It was the opposite of most other workflows today, where everyone wants to work with media at maximum resolution.
Adobe: How did you shoot the project? Thompson: The shoot was fairly taxing, for us and for the band. For example, we did nine different takes of the lead singer lip-synching and all the drummers drumming in different positions. It required a lot of patience and precise alignment, so we could play each frame after the other without it appearing jerky as viewers interacted with the footage.
Adobe: Why did you choose Adobe Premiere Pro CC? Thompson: The flexibility of Adobe Premiere Pro CC is unprecedented. We’re standardized on Adobe Creative Cloud for its integration and versatility. For editing and post-production on most of our projects, we often have to do some unusual processes. For this project, we were able to push the Adobe software successfully and use it in different ways.
Adobe: How did you use Adobe After Effects CC? Thompson: After Effects CC was as crucial as Premiere Pro CC. Nine animators worked to add frames. We used Expressions in After Effects to replicate how users would interact with the footage in the HTML5 version, as if someone on a desktop machine or other device with a browser would engage with the footage in real-time. In this way, we were able to view and alter how each user would interact with the video to create the best experiences.
Adobe: What other tools are you working with in Adobe Creative Cloud? Thompson: Our main applications are Premiere Pro CC and After Effects CC, as well as Photoshop CC. We use Audition CC for sound editing, though we didn't use it on this project specifically. We also do a lot of work destined for the web, so we are looking at Edge Inspect CC to obtain a snapshot of how projects will look on any device. Creative Cloud allows us to explore new creative possibilities and helps ensure that projects look and sound great on any device.
Adobe: If you had to sum up why you use Adobe Premiere Pro CC, what would you say? Thompson: The reasons why we use Premiere Pro CC are the same with all the elements of Creative Cloud as a whole. We are not trying to make normal videos and films, so we need solutions that are flexible and allow us to experiment, innovate, and dream up new user interaction mechanisms. Creative Cloud and Premiere Pro CC are so versatile. They free us to create epic, interesting things.
Brilliant emerging filmmaker uses Adobe Creative Cloud to edit weekly videos for popular online channel
Extreme sports videos are a hit on YouTube, but few think about the behind the scenes work that it takes to capture these daring events on film and share them with the world. Devin Graham, aka Devin Super Tramp on YouTube, knows firsthand. To stay one step ahead of extreme sports enthusiasts, he has paddled for hours through waves with camera gear in a dry bag, hiked through jungles, and braved extreme temperatures to capture shots that may last only a few seconds. The result? Millions of viewers, 1.8 million subscribers and plenty of high-profile endorsements. For Graham, living on the edge is an everyday part of life, one he tackles with joy, enthusiasm, and the video tools in Adobe Creative Cloud.
Adobe: Tell us more about your background. Graham: Since I was a little boy, I always wanted to make movies. I created LEGO movies, music videos with siblings, and snowboarding videos with friends. I bought cheap cameras and ultimately broke them. Making movies always made sense to me. I started editing with Pinnacle Studio software in high school, but quickly switched to Premiere Pro.
After high school I went to Brigham Young University (BYU) for filmmaking and learned Final Cut Pro and Avid. I thought that I wanted to do big Hollywood productions for the entire world to see. During my time at BYU I had the opportunity to go to Hawaii to work on a couple of projects. That’s when I learned about YouTube and realized I could have a bigger voice online, creating content that I wanted to create without a producer or studio dictating what I could and couldn't do. I started making YouTube videos and right away they went viral. Recognizing the opportunity that was in front of me, I dropped out of film school to pursue a YouTube career.
Adobe: How do you explain the success of your YouTube channel? Graham: A lot of people think I just go out and have fun, and I do, but it’s also a lot of hard work. I made a video, Fighting for your passion - Inside Look at what I do for a living, because I’m asked about it so often. As I say in the video, I want to get the shots that no one else will get, and there’s usually a crazy story that goes along with each one.
As soon as my videos started going viral, advertisers contacted me and wanted to get involved. I've recently done work with Ford and Mountain Dew, which has been really fun and I've been grateful for the opportunity to work on these projects. A few months ago Universal Studios invited me to fly out and use their backlot for a shoot. Again, I know it sounds glamorous, but there are a lot of other shoots where we’re sleeping in tents, getting up before dawn, and hiking for miles to try to capture a four-second shot.
It’s all worth it, though. I love knowing that when I post a video it goes out to hundreds of thousands of fans. Those are ultimately the people who determine my success.
Adobe: Why do you call yourself Devin Super Tramp? Graham: Super Tramp comes from the book and movie Into the Wild, about Christopher McCandless. He abandons his possessions, gives his entire savings to charity, hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness, and changes his name to Alexander Super Tramp. It’s a story about how he went out and pursued his dreams, much like I’m doing. In the end, he realizes he should have shared his joy and adventures with the world. I’m taking that next step, learning from his mistakes, and sharing my experiences. It’s been awesome because I've gotten email from fans around the world telling me how I've touched their lives, which is incredibly meaningful.
Adobe: How do you come up with the ideas for your videos? Graham: I want to create content that people want to see and I want to do projects that interest me. People love the extreme sports videos, but I've also tried to branch out and build my audience in other ways by looking at what’s popular and trendy. For instance, I created the video Assassin's Creed Meets Parkour in Real Life and timed it with the release of the Assassin’s Creed video game. Because it focused on a popular, timely topic it got more than 30 million views.
I also look at Facebook and Instagram to see what people like. I saw a friend’s picture on Facebook of a puppy in a package at Christmas that had an amazing number of likes. I decided to do a video called Puppy Christmas that was very successful; it was even showcased on Good Morning America.
Adobe: Tell us more about your workflow and your transition from Final Cut to Adobe Premiere Pro CC. Graham: I had been using Final Cut Pro for years, because that was the editing software taught at BYU. I knew all the shortcuts and was familiar with Final Cut, but the workflow was painful. I spent so much time converting file formats before I could even start editing, and the multiple resulting files consumed tons of storage. I knew I needed to move back to Premiere Pro, but honestly, I was dreading the switch. When I opened Premiere Pro I realized I could use the same keyboard shortcuts that I did in Final Cut Pro. It took one or two days to get familiar with the software again, and it’s been great ever since.
I shoot on Canon 5D Mark III and Mark II, Canon Cinema 1DC, as well as GoPro Hero3, iPhones, Epic, and Phantom cameras. When I finish shooting I put everything on a hard drive, label it, open Premiere Pro, and start editing on my laptop – it’s that simple. I often edit when I’m on airplanes, in airports, or in hotel rooms and Creative Cloud gives me the flexibility to work from anywhere. I keep my editing process as simple as possible, using Warp Stabilizer to smooth out shots and the Lumetri Deep Color Engine to apply SpeedGrade looks from within Premiere Pro CC. Then Premiere Pro allows me to easily optimize and export files for YouTube.
Adobe: Did you transition to new hardware as well? Graham: For years, I've been an Apple user however I was open to new hardware that could perform faster. Recently, I stepped into an HP Z820 system and found it performs faster than my current MacBook Pro Retina. Additionally, it handles my 4K files without issue which allows me to work with my files in real time, so my workflow is certainly faster. And I need that.
Adobe: What does your use of Adobe Creative Cloud mean to you from a professional standpoint? Graham: I put out a video every week, and I usually try to stay 10 to 15 videos ahead of schedule. I typically have a lot of footage already shot that is ready to edit. Premiere Pro CC helps me work a lot more efficiently than I could before. I use Photoshop CC to tune up still photos and upload them to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for promotional purposes. I also use After Effects CC on occasion for creating VFX, and Adobe Illustrator CC for vector graphics.
Adobe: What do your film school friends think of your success? Graham: When I decided to go this route my film friends didn't really think anything would come of it. Since then, about half of them have started their own YouTube channels. BYU also brought me back to teach a semester on social media and how to launch a film career. The biggest lesson I tried to impart was that it’s not easy, that you have to go the extra mile to capture that special shot. For me, that will always be what’s next: I was born to be a filmmaker who gets the shots others won’t have the ambition or drive to get.
Adobe After Effects and Photoshop help filmmaker represent analog content in digital format
Jeffrey Radice came into filmmaking in a non-traditional way. He was working in I.T. and making a decent income when friends asked him to fund their moviemaking efforts. After producing two consecutive short films at the Sundance Film Festival, he decided to jump in and try his hand at directing. Ten years later, Radice found himself back at Sundance for his directorial debut with the feature film No No: A Dockumentary. A long-time Adobe software user, he’s now at SXSW, where the film is showing in the “Festival Favorites” category and as part of the inaugural “SXsports.”
Adobe: How long did it take you to make No No: A Dockumentary? Radice: I started doing development work on the film in 2004 and 2005, but it didn’t go into production until 2010, partially due to Dock's death in late 2008. I had produced shorts for years, but directing a feature film is orders of magnitude more difficult than producing a short, as I have learned.
Adobe: How long have you been using Adobe software? Radice: My exposure to Adobe production software goes back a long way. When Scott Calonico and I first started making movies in 1997 with The Collegians Are Go!! we used Premiere, and we added After Effects for the shorts that debuted at Sundance in 2003 and 2004. I have over a decade of exposure to Adobe on the production side. No No put all of that knowledge to use. We deployed four teams of animators working in After Effects to implement my vision.
Adobe: Tell us about the film. Radice: Dock Ellis was a baseball pitcher and a fascinating character. LSD was a frequent topic of conversation at festivals after I produced LSD A Go Go, which drove me to read Dock's biography by the poet Donald Hall. I gravitated to the idea of painting a non-fictional portrait of the man, because his truth was stranger than fiction. I also hoped to separate his legacy from the most well-known legend about him—that he pitched a no-hitter while on LSD. Dock was deliberate, provocative and a trailblazer in racial and labor rights. He had a sports agent, Tom Reich, before any other ballplayer. He was heavily influenced by Roberto Clemente, Jackie Robinson, and Muhammad Ali. Dock also fought some of his own internal demons but he came clean in the end. At its core it’s a redemption story.
Manny Sanguillén exemplifies a mix of analog and digital treatments
Adobe: How did you use Adobe solutions on the film? Radice: The two products we used the most were Photoshop and After Effects. We used Photoshop to clean up headlines and photos. Baseball is the sport with the most ephemera and memorabilia attached to it—baseball cards, game programs, scorecards, poems . . . and I wanted to integrate components of that aspect of the game into the film. The 1960s and 1970s when Dock played were an analog era. Some of these items aren’t traditionally found in documentary films. I spent many hours thinking about how to represent our many pieces of analog information in a digital capacity and After Effects helped me achieve the aesthetic I was aiming for. We eventually ended up using After Effects on every still image in the film to add fluidity to even the simplest moves.
Adobe: What were some of your favorite effects in the film? Radice: Scott Calonico, a director and animator I’ve worked with for years, has refined a technique to animate documents in After Effects. I had two copies of the manuscript for Dock’s biography; one unmarked version and one with pen edits. Scott did an amazing job taking those copies and animating how pieces of the manuscript were redacted (to protect Dock's career).
Another animator, Jake Mendez produced baseball card animations and worked with original illustrations by Kevin-John Jobczynski of a scene where Dock beans Reggie Jackson. With After Effects he took my vision and turned it into a short form graphic novel interstitial within the larger story.
Dock Ellis illustration by Kevin-John Jobczynski
We had a library of archival 16mm, super-8mm, and VHS footage that we combined with our interviews. The lower-resolution transfers degraded when blown up to full frame, especially when compared to our 1080p production footage. Landon Peterson used After Effects to insert elements such as ticket stubs and calendar pages into the background behind the windowboxed video frame. It both allowed us to provide more visual information and made it more seamless to intercut VHS and 16mm.
Adobe: What happened after you were invited to Sundance? Radice: We had been working with Austin's Arts+Labor on post-production for months in preparation for our submission to Sundance. We submitted a work-in-progress, so when the invitation came back the film was far from complete. It was a mad scramble for eight weeks to get all the remaining artwork cleaned, motion graphics created, and animations placed into the timeline. I had been working with Jen Piper since they cut a Kickstarter trailer for us. Jen not only created complex parallax animations of her own but coordinated my direction among the other animators at Arts+Labor. Arts+Labor has been a foundational partner to our success and they stepped up when we needed them most.
Adobe: Why didn't you use Premiere Pro to edit the film? Radice: I built an editing workflow around Final Cut Pro 7 with my employee discount at Apple before I left to concentrate on this movie. I don’t like the direction Apple took with Final Cut Pro X, and it's best not to switch or upgrade your tools in the middle of a project, so there we remained. Taking assets from Photoshop to After Effects to Final Cut Pro 7 was kludgey. There were far too many “sneakernet” moments, which could have been eliminated using Premiere Pro. The ability to easily reflect changes between my graphics cleanup in Photoshop, animations in After Effects, and editing in Premiere Pro is appealing. I’m ready to make the transition to an all Adobe editing workflow.
Documentary on Stones Throw Records showing in Austin ahead of theatrical release
Since 2009, Rob Bralver and Jeff Broadway of Gatling Pictures have worked together on documentary films that tell stories of social importance. Their latest project, OUR VINYL WEIGHS A TON (THIS IS STONES THROW RECORDS), explores the history of Stones Throw Records, a record label committed to independence and artistic freedom. The film—featuring interviews with Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Common, Questlove, Talib Kweli, Mike D (The Beastie Boys), and Tyler the Creator—premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June 2013 and is now showing at SXSW 2014.
Adobe: How did you get your start in filmmaking? Broadway: Rob and I went to college together and as we were finishing school, we started scheming about how we could get into the film business and not be gophers. We saw documentary as an access point. Our first film, CURE FOR PAIN: The Mark Sandman Story, was about a family member of mine so we had direct access to a compelling story. It was a great first experience, and we've now been working together for five years.
Adobe: What made you pursue a documentary on Stones Throw Records? Broadway: I grew up listening to hip hop music. Stones Throw Records was something I’d followed since I was a teenager and I’m still a big fan. I knew that there was a demand to know more about the subject, so I approached Peanut Butter Wolf, the founder of Stones Throw Records. We ultimately picked up a production that was started and stopped by another group, and two years later we had a completed film.
Adobe: What makes the Stones Throw Records story unique? Broadway: The label has a lot of cult, die-hard fans in niche pockets all around the world. This was an opportunity to make a film about the collective of artists who have been so influential over mainstream culture. It’s interesting to hear from the artists about how they have been affected by the Stones Throw collective and aesthetic over the past 20 years.
Adobe: How was the learning curve switching to Premiere Pro? Bralver: I edited two feature films before this one, the first with Final Cut Pro and the second with Avid. All editing programs perform similar functions, but Premiere Pro offers so much more. The best analogy I can come up with is that working with Final Cut Pro and Avid is like playing an old video game that only lets you march down certain hallways and you don’t have the whole world available to you. Premiere Pro is like playing Grand Theft Auto where you have everything available to you and it is so much more inspiring.
Adobe: Tell us about the use of Premiere Pro on OUR VINYL WEIGHS A TON. Bralver: For this project we incorporated a lot of motion graphics, so the integration between Premiere Pro and After Effects was critical. In Final Cut Pro or Avid, including these same elements would have added many more hours and would not have been practical. We like to handle every aspect of production, including creating our own graphics, so Premiere Pro is the only option that makes sense for us.
Adobe: Are there any specific features that stand out to you? Bralver: I’m a younger editor and the Premiere Pro interface just makes more sense to me and is much more intuitive than the other NLEs. It’s clean and easy to figure out how to do everything. With Premiere Pro, everything is open to you and you’re not constantly trying to overcome technical obstacles that interrupt the creative process. Broadway: On the post end, we were recently creating Blu-ray discs. It was so easy to learn how to kick out from Premiere Pro, encode, build the disc image, and create a Blu-ray disc via Encore. Bralver: Ease of use on the back end is very important. A lot of people, even experienced editors, run in to trouble because they can create something on the timeline but can’t figure out how to export it in different formats. Premiere Pro is the most modern NLE in terms of making the backend simple.
Adobe: How did you incorporate visual effects in the film? Bralver: We worked with some animators and a motion graphics artist. The animators mixed stop motion-style content with the layering possibilities in After Effects. They would create settings from found materials such as roof tiles or construction paper, photograph them, scan in drawings of cast members, mix them together, and then exploring the 3D depth possibilities of moving in and around objects in After Effects. The motion graphics artist added green screen video elements to layered photographs, integrating motion video with still images in an interesting way.
Adobe: What other tools did you use from Creative Cloud? Broadway: We used Photoshop for photo layering and worked a lot between Photoshop and After Effects. The graphic design teams also used Illustrator for key art and one sheet materials.
Adobe: What do you think of the Creative Cloud membership model? Bralver: It’s been great for us. We’re much happier paying $50/month and getting regular updates that don’t cause massive headaches between project files. Everything keeps going smoothly with Creative Cloud, and it is preferable to paying a lot of money all at once for a new version. We have several people working on content at once, so the ability to install the software on multiple machines has also been extremely helpful.
Adobe: What’s next for the film after SXSW? Broadway: SXSW is a great place of convergence for the worlds we’re coming from—music and film. Leading into SXSW, Peanut Butter Wolf has been touring with other Stones Throw artists, playing 10 North American markets and doing sneak peeks, Q&A sessions, and hosting parties in each market. Everything will culminate at SXSW with an after party following the third and final screening on March 15th. The film releases theatrically the following week in New York and Los Angeles. From there it will screen wherever it is requested in local markets and on April 15th it releases on DVD and Blu-ray and digitally on iTunes.
Feature film Buzzard edited with Adobe Premiere Pro CC
Premiering at SXSW 2014, Joel Potrykus’ film Buzzard purposely doesn't fit a particular genre. A follow on to his first film, Ape, the movie tracks a deadbeat check scammer through Detroit and is chock full of 1980s references—chugging Mountain Dew, Nintendo jokes, and heavy metal music. Brandon Bowman joined the production by chance, and shares his first experience working on a feature film and editing with Adobe Premiere Pro CC.
Photo by Adam J. Minnick
Adobe: How did you get involved with Buzzard? Bowman: I live in Seattle, Washington and I split my time between the restaurant industry and working as a freelance still photographer and videographer. I was visiting Austin, Texas on a vacation and have a family connection with Adam Minnick, who is childhood friends with Joel. For his follow up to Ape, which he shot himself, Joel wanted to hire Adam as his cinematographer. I told Adam that I would love to help in any way I can and ended up going to the shoot as a volunteer. In the end, I played a much larger role than I expected.
Adobe: What did you do on the film? Bowman: Joel runs things pretty informally and as bare bones as possible. There were maybe 12 people in production and we all wore a lot of hats. I was the main point on all of the tech stuff. My official credit is assistant camera and assistant editor. I worked closely with Adam on lens, camera, and software selection. I was the one who introduced Premiere Pro CC to the team.
Photo by Jon Clay
Adobe: Why did you recommend Premiere Pro CC? Bowman: I was previously a Final Cut Pro user and Joel edited Ape on Final Cut Pro. In pre-production we were talking about our hardware and software needs. I’d joined Creative Cloud and had been doing some tests with Premiere Pro CC. I recommended it because the film was going to be shot with a Canon 5D Mark III and I knew that we would be able to throw the H.264 files on the timeline without transcoding. Joel tested it out and agreed that we should use it for the edit.
Adobe: Was it easy to learn the software? Bowman: I learned Premiere Pro for the production, mostly using training content on Adobe TV and Lynda.com. Coming from Final Cut Pro 7 it was fairly easy. Joel also found the transition to be simple. He’s very tech savvy and knowledgeable but he doesn't like to be bogged down with details. For him, his script and actors are paramount.
Adobe: What was the production schedule? Bowman: The film shot for five or six weeks in Grand Rapids and Detroit, Michigan. I came on several months before production and they were already deep into rehearsals and casting. Joel and Joshua Burge, the film’s lead actor, had a good working relationship and understanding of the character. Adam chose to shoot with the Canon 5D Mark III DSLR because it offered lower cost, as well as speed and storage simplicity. I started ingesting media, organizing drives, and syncing the sound for all of the clips during production, and then assembled a rough timeline for Joel before we started editing.
Photo by Jon Clay
Adobe: Tell us about the editing of the film. Bowman: After shooting I returned to Seattle, Adam went back to Austin, and Joel stayed in Grand Rapids. We kept all of the post production in Premiere Pro and just passed the project files back and forth and update everything as we went along. We had full hard drives of all of the content in each location. Joel would go on extended, overnight editing binges and I would wake up in the morning and there would be a rough cut of half the movie. In a week he had the entire film fleshed out. It was pretty easy to work remotely and the crew would review all of the cuts on Vimeo every couple of weeks. In addition to assisting with the editing, I worked with Joel on the color correction and also handled the noise reduction and production of the final renders and exports for the DCP.
Adobe: Were there any particular challenges with the edit? Bowman: The biggest post production trick was working with the DSLR files. Joel likes to shoot in a very natural way, so during production most of our challenges were to be nonexistent with no deliberate camera moves, odd angles, or unnatural lighting. We focused on getting everything right in camera so in the end we only had to tease the footage a bit in Premiere Pro. The film was minimally processed to keep it as natural looking as possible.
Photo by Adam J. Minnick
Adobe: What was your favorite feature in Premiere Pro CC? Bowman: The feature that was the biggest deal to us was the native workflow. The ability to throw H.264 files on the Premiere Pro timeline and play them back in real time was definitely the biggest selling point for us. It was great to be able to start working right away without transcoding; that transcode step would have really bogged us down.
Adobe: Did you use any other Creative Cloud software? Bowman: I've been a Creative Cloud member for six months and bouncing among the various software programs is really easy. We used Photoshop quite a bit for the title sequences and the ability to round trip between Photoshop and Premiere Pro was great. We also appreciated knowing we had the full library of Creative Cloud applications to fall back on, including SpeedGrade and After Effects, in case we needed them. On any future films I can see staying with the same software and even branching out a bit with SpeedGrade and After Effects.
Photo by Ashley Young
Adobe: What’s next for Buzzard after SXSW? Bowman: The acceptance to SXSW already exceeded our expectations. It’s also been accepted to the New Directors/New Films show in New York. Oscilloscope Laboratories acquired the North American rights to the film, so there will be more festival showings, followed by a theatrical release later in 2014.
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