|Academy Award®-winning editor uses Adobe Premiere Pro CC to edit hit Hollywood feature|
Kirk Baxter was attracted to cinema from a young age by films such as E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Star Wars. These “popcorn accessible” movies drew him in and fueled his aspirations. He started working for an Australian production company at age 17 and quickly recognized his affinity for editing. But never did he dream that one day he would be involved in the kinds of productions he works on regularly with filmmaker David Fincher.
As a two-time Academy Award® winner, Baxter has teamed with Fincher and his post-production crew on film and television projects, including The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and House of Cards. For Fincher’s latest film, Gone Girl, “Team Fincher” took the workflow to a new level using a production pipeline built around Adobe Creative Cloud video applications, with Adobe Premiere Pro CC as the hub.
Adobe: How was the process of switching to a new NLE?
Baxter: Each time you switch to a new editing program you’re a bit nervous and it’s mostly because each job that you do, be it a movie, commercial, or music video, is an opportunity for failure. Everything has to be done to the best of your ability, like it’s the first job you’ve ever done, because you’re only as good as your last job. All jobs have a pile of pressure on them, all of them have a timeline on them, and all of them are riddled with expectations. If my process is being slowed down because I have to fumble with a new way of working it can be really frustrating.
I found that the learning curve to get onto Premiere Pro only took about two days. Thankfully, when I switched to Premiere Pro I was doing a Fincher project where the audience is generous and David is always understanding about learning something new. It was great to have technical support from Adobe. Plus, I had Tyler Nelson and the main thing for me was that Tyler knew Premiere Pro better than I did, so if I had questions I could just turn to him.
Adobe: Why did you make the switch?
Baxter: We switched to Premiere Pro because David, Tyler, and Peter Mavromates, the post-production supervisor, said this is what we need to do in order to streamline our process, bring everything in house, and make post-production cheaper so we can do more, faster, and be smarter about the whole process. I’m the easiest person to please in terms of how the software operates. That’s why my transition to Premiere Pro was so fluid and didn’t take long at all. The interface, is great and it works as well as, and sometimes better than previous programs I’ve worked on. It does everything that I need to do and it does it really well.
Adobe: How did you turn around the massive amount of content Fincher shot each day?
Baxter: There’s an approach that works really well for David because of the style that he shoots. I watch the last take of each scene and just from viewing it once I can process what the mathematics are and spot the tent poles. When you work out the rhythm of the scene, you can break up master takes or main performances into chunks. From there I can look at all the takes in reverse order and see how he’s refined a scene to make it tighter and more precise.
It’s very rare that one take is the very best from start to finish for every line that is read, so breaking a scene up is important. I’ll go through the last take and add in edit marks as cutting points, and then my assistants will assemble all of the takes so line readings are repeated. I’ll go through and select all of the best of it, hand it back to them to assemble my selects from wide to tight in scene order.
After I’ve done that for a big scene we have about 15 minutes of material and it’s probably taken us all day to get to that point. That’s what I’ll share with David.
Adobe: How do you share the selects for quick feedback?
Baxter: We use PIX to share clips with David when he’s on set. PIX is frame accurate and you can draw all over it like a football play. For example, David might circle someone in the background who is staring at the camera to show me what’s wrong with a particular take.
We put everything through PIX – the visual effects, music, sound design, marketing – so it’s all in one place. Whether David is on set or in his office, it’s all constantly flowing to him and he’s always part of the process. Because we’ve been able to work so closely together throughout shooting, when the director’s cut begins we’re about 10 days from having a first assembly. Then the director’s cut is all about fine cutting and perfecting.
Adobe: What’s the best way to get feedback from Fincher?
Baxter: With David, the long way around is always the best way. We cut every scene as if it is the only thing that exists. If I include David in selects he knows I’ve really looked and scrubbed and his voice is being heard.
At first, it’s about fleshing it out, getting the maximum out of a scene, which is usually longer. Then the job becomes about how to remove as much screen time as possible without losing any content. That’s why there are so many split frames and so much dissecting within a frame.
Adobe: How did you use split screening to advance and delay dialogue?
Baxter: If there are two actors on screen at the same time, there’s a high probability that I’m splitting a frame and choosing the best performance for each actor when they’re interacting or getting the actors’ response times to be faster. It’s self-evident when you start going too quickly, but when you keep that pace up, a pause means so much more.
Adobe: Tell us how the process of repositioning and stabilization has changed over the years.
Baxter: When we did The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, David shot for the full frame of what you see, so if the camera operator screwed up a performance it was dead and we had to use another one where the camera was better. Now, when he shoots in 6K there is so much extra space in the frame we can move shots around later, reframe, stabilize, and perfect a shot. For me, it’s helpful because I’m picking the performances that are the best, not the camera work that is the best.
David doesn’t want the fingerprints of filmmaking to distract the viewer from the intention of a shot or the feeling of a scene. For him to get a big bump in the middle of something or for the framing to stray is the same as an actor looking at the camera and smiling, saying, “Hey, there’s a bunch of filmmakers back here.”
Adobe: How do you balance the technology with the storytelling?
Baxter: I don’t think one takes away from the other. The storytelling part is always consistent, the technical side is just in support of telling a great story. David has a great understanding of all of the tools available to him and will bend them to his will, or question them, so a production can be made smarter and better and faster and leaner. It all just benefits the process of how to tell the best story.
Adobe: Tell us about your new company.
Baxter: EXILE makes what I do more than just me doing a job. In a lot of ways it’s like finally becoming a grown up, with more responsibility and accountability for others. There could be a job that I’m not interested in or excited about, but if I know one of the other editors is going to gain by my involvement I might do it for the union of others.
It’s a great time to start a company because we can make really smart, lean, clever technology decisions. It doesn’t have to be wildly expensive anymore. I saw the way the post-production workflow moved on Gone Girl, and I’m applying that to the commercial work we’re doing at EXILE. I think it’s a very good time to do something smart.
View Kirk Baxter’s work here.
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|Leading entertainment production company produces sports venue and stadium entertainment with Adobe Premiere Pro CC|
When fans turn their attention to the large screens at sports’ biggest events, there’s a good chance that they’re watching the work of Van Wagner Big Screen Network Productions (VWBSN). Over the past three decades, Big Screen Network Productions established itself as the world’s leader in video board production for major sporting events, including the Olympic Games and World Cup to the Super Bowl, Rose Bowl, and NCAA Championships. A recent addition to the Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment family, VWBSN continues to deliver award-winning in-stadium content for audiences at major sporting events around the world.
The production company is now implementing Adobe Creative Cloud to meet the growing demands for sports video content production. Creative Director Cameron Cone, Associate Creative Director Ryan Kehn, and Senior Editor Alex McMeekin work with teams across the U.S. and around the world to deliver anything that sports events need: from a single animation to full turnkey production.
Adobe: How do you differ from standard creative agencies?
Kehn: If there’s a major sporting event in the world we’re usually involved in some capacity. For our biggest jobs, we will come in at the ground level, consulting on everything from script development and talent to technology integration, truck procurement, and control room setup. When we worked on the Kentucky Derby, for instance, we were on site for two weeks creating and editing content.
Adobe: What kind of changes have you seen in your industry?
Cone: Sports presentations are getting bigger, meaner, and faster every day. In the past, we would produce one hour of content for a show, but now our clients are asking for 12 hours or more. Many of our clients are also looking to be on the cutting edge, so they’re implementing technology like 4K resolution displays that will really capture the audience’s attention.
At the end of the day, when you’ve got a stadium full of fans, you need to have great shows that keep them excited. Clients are highly invested; they want to know what our workflow is like and how we plan to deliver the best content possible. That’s why it’s important for us and our clients that we eliminate bottlenecks in the pipeline so that we can focus on content and a high level of creativity.
Adobe: Why did your company decide to switch to Adobe Creative Cloud for teams?
McMeekin: We had been working with Final Cut Pro for years, but it really wasn’t keeping up with the pace of technology like we needed. We’ve used Adobe After Effects in our workflow for a while, so it made sense to look at Adobe Premiere Pro. The idea of being able to stay within a single platform for all of our creative content production was really exciting.
Kehn: We did a lot of research into video production solutions, and we really liked what we saw from Adobe. Adobe Creative Cloud for teams balances the flexibility that we need to operate efficiently, even on the road, with the functionality that we need to meet our clients’ high demand and expectations for quality. Adobe is really committed to continued development, as well as listening to the needs of users, which gives us confidence that Adobe’s products are only going to get better and grow with our business.
Adobe: What are some features that are making a difference in your workflows?
Kehn: Dynamic Link is huge for us. During football season, which is our peak time, we might be working on graphics and shows for dozens of clients at once. We need to work as efficiently as possible. With Dynamic Link, we can work on files in Premiere Pro and After Effects simultaneously and see updates in real time. This saves us a lot of time that we would have spent manually exporting and importing clips.
McMeekin: Creative Cloud for teams makes collaborating so much simpler. We can flexibly manage our licenses with freelancers to make sure that we’re all on the same page. We know that everyone’s going to be on the latest versions of software, which means that we don’t have to worry about delays caused by incompatibilities. It’s also encouraging to see editors reacting so positively to Premiere Pro. The interface is very similar to After Effects, which everyone is already familiar with, so the learning curve has been really smooth. Editors are diving right into Premiere Pro and taking advantage of everything it has to offer.
Adobe: What kinds of challenges arise from taking your work on the road?
Kehn: We’re usually traveling from site to site, so Creative Cloud for teams is a huge benefit because we can save presets and files, and then access them from anywhere.
Creative Cloud for teams also helps us stay flexible. Other creative companies can get away with delivering projects on one standard codec, but we have to deliver video to whatever equipment and codecs are available in the stadium’s control room. We tend to work with a lot of different camera formats as well. We need to be flexible enough to handle anything we’re given, both in terms of ingest and output requirements.
The biggest thing that Adobe did right was make it possible to work with any video format on the Premiere Pro timeline without transcoding first. We even play highlights straight from the timeline. Because we no longer have to worry about extra processes we can do more in the same amount of time, which helps us produce a cleaner and more refined final product for our clients.
Adobe: What are some of your favorite features in Adobe Creative Cloud?
Kehn: I do a lot of our in-house 3D graphics, so Cinema 4D is a big part of my workflow. The integration between Cinema 4D and After Effects is fantastic and we all geek out a little bit when new integration is announced.
Adobe: Have you seen any big advantages to Premiere Pro on the job?
Kehn: We’ve been on site at some high profile events that require us to be flexible and be able to make changes to content, sometimes up to the last second (literally) and having no option but to play it live off of the Premiere Pro timeline, even looping graphics. We also work with a wide variety of codecs for delivery to several different play-out systems. Being able to make changes in After Effects and throw them into a Premiere Pro sequence, without the need to re-transcode or render out effects in the timeline, has been a huge for us and allowed us to turn around great content with tight turnarounds.
Adobe: What production are you currently working on?
Kehn: We just finished three weeks on site at the U.S. Open and are prepping for our busy Fall/Winter schedule which includes the Big Ten and Pac-12 Football Championships, various Bowl Games and the College Football Playoffs, as well as the NHL Winter Classic, and the Biggest Football Game on Earth!
Adobe: What’s next for VWBSN and Adobe Creative Cloud?
McMeekin: We’re starting to dive into the rest of the applications. In addition to After Effects and Premiere Pro, we’re also working with Adobe SpeedGrade, Audition, Photoshop, and Illustrator. Previously, we had separate workflows for every step, but now we’re working with one seamlessly integrated platform. It makes our jobs so much easier to have everything look, feel, and work the same.
Kehn: We want to be a part of helping Creative Cloud grow even further by getting involved in the Adobe community and helping to develop great workflows for people in similar situations. We can see that Adobe is really listening to its customers to make the software even better, and we see ourselves working with Adobe for years to come.
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|Full-service video production firm realizes efficiencies and plans for the future with Adobe Creative Cloud|
Walter Biscardi Jr. has worked with nearly every NLE during his long and successful career. He started editing in 1990 at CNN and was one of the network’s first Avid editors. In 1995, he moved to Foxwoods Resort Casino, designed a new production facility around Media 100, and then started his first company back in Atlanta, Georgia in 1998. After working with Final Cut Pro for 11 years, he found his way to Adobe Premiere Pro, an integrated solution that could speed his workflow and evolve with his needs. At Biscardi Creative Media, he now actively works with Adobe Creative Cloud, cutting a new series and planning to launch his own television network with his faithful companion, Molly the Wonder Dog, by his side.
Walter Biscardi and Kylee Wall
Molly the Wonder Dog
Adobe: Tell us about some of your best known projects.
Biscardi: I worked on four seasons of Good Eats with Alton Brown doing post-production, editing, animation, and color grading. I’ve also done some long form documentary work. I was co-producer and editor on Foul Water Fiery Serpent, a documentary that aired on PBS about President Carter’s 25-year fight to eradicate guinea worm. Next, I worked on another documentary, Dark Forest Black Fly, which also aired on PBS. Both took four years to cut. Most recently our company has completed four seasons of This American Land, a PBS series about preserving America’s wildlife, waters, and landscape.
Adobe: How has your business evolved?
Biscardi: I’ve gone from working in the bedroom of my house to building a brand new, 6,000 square foot production facility with five edit suites, a 5.1 surround sound mixing theater, a color grading suite, production offices, and 1,400 square feet of studio space. For years we did all post-production work, primarily broadcast episodics, documentaries, and corporate projects. Two or three years ago we started getting serious about full-service, turnkey productions.
Adobe: What led you to switch to Adobe Premiere Pro?
Biscardi: The launch of Final Cut X drove me back to Avid 6, which I used when I started work on the second season of This American Land. I had never touched Premiere Pro and honestly didn’t think it was useful in a professional workflow. But working with Avid on This American Land was a fiasco and by the third episode into the edit we switched to Premiere Pro and haven’t looked back. Three of the four seasons have been edited with Premiere Pro.
Adobe: What do you think of Adobe Creative Cloud and the integrated video workflow?
Biscardi: There’s nothing on the market that works as cohesively as Adobe Creative Cloud. I also love the subscription concept of Creative Cloud and how Adobe continuously rolls out new features. I’ve used After Effects since it was CoSA. All of the animation for Good Eats was done with After Effects and Photoshop. Three of the animations were well over 2,000 layers; it was so much fun doing those. The integrated video workflow between Premiere Pro and After Effects can’t be beat.
Adobe: Are there features in Premiere Pro that are particularly useful in your work?
Biscardi: The software just works. When you transition from one piece of software to another it isn’t going to work the same. You have to adapt your workflow to the tool. Nothing is perfect, but Premiere Pro is as close to perfect as I’ve seen out there right now. This American Land can have 10 camera formats in the same episode, on the same timeline, and it doesn’t choke, it just plays. It’s great to not have to think about cameras, formats, frame rates, or frame size. We haven’t come across anything we’ve thrown on timeline it can handle.
The multi-cam integration with audio is also simple; as long as you have a good audio reference it’s unbelievable how easy auto sync by waveform works. The pancake timeline, where all raw elements are in the timelines above the master timeline, is easy to use and I recently discovered the new marker window with the marker notes and that is now a big part of our workflow. I love making those types of discoveries.
Adobe: How has working with Adobe Creative Cloud helped your business?
Biscardi: We’ve cut 300 to 400 projects on Premiere Pro in the past few years and it’s a rock solid tool. We were 12 days behind on This American Land when we switched from Avid to Premiere Pro and we not only caught up but we got ahead. When we cut the first season on Final Cut Pro 7 we had to convert all camera formats to Pro Res and it took 1.2 - 2TB to archive the episodes.
It took three or four episodes cutting in Premiere Pro to trust that it would cut native. We switched to an all native workflow and reduced the backup to 350GB to 500GB, which saved us money on the archive. We were also able to cut the same amount of material in 50% of the time because there was no waiting to transcode. Foul Water Fiery Serpent was all shot on Panasonic P2 and we had 250 hours of footage that we converted to Pro Res before editing, which took a couple of weeks. In Premiere Pro we would have been able to start editing on day one.
Adobe: How did you get started working on Arson Dogs?
Biscardi: Arson Dogs is a new web series for world-renowned dog trainer Victoria Stilwell and her Positively website. The series follows Victoria to southern Maine, where State Farm’s Arson Dog Training Program is conducted to train handlers and working dogs together to sniff out accelerants like gasoline and propane at potential arson sites.
Victoria and her crew spent five days at the school documenting many hours of raw material on up to five different cameras. We then taught her team how to organize and log the project in Premiere Pro, so when we opened it up it was in bins with notes and we could just get started editing. Our first task was to create a three minute sizzle reel from 3,500 clips in just one week. Without Premiere Pro and the Small Tree Shared Storage, which let us all work with the same media simultaneously, it wouldn’t have happened. I worked collaboratively with our editors R. John Becker and Kylee Wall to meet the deadline.
Since then, we’ve been working on editing the first 8 episodes, and anticipate there will be 6 to 10 more. Kylee has a one sentence overview of each 5- to 10-minute episode and she cuts based on that description. We’re known as storytellers, and Adobe gets all of the technology out of the way so we can just tell a story. The best part is being able to work on the project with my own Molly the Wonder Dog in the edit suite with the team.
Adobe: What’s next for you?
Biscardi: We’re currently seeking investment to launch a new 4k UHD Contemporary Living Network, which will include multiple channels and an all Adobe workflow. We’re looking at producing at least 20 original series in the first season alone, all on lifestyle topics such as food, travel, entertaining, pets, home and garden, and more. It will be our own network, with direct digital delivery.
We recently took delivery of our first Blackmagic 4K Production Camera and Teranex Express. We’ll be shooting the first four episodes of Ice Cream Nation and two episodes of Fork U in 4K UHD using that and the Panasonic GH4 cameras for Contemporary Living Network. Fork U features Simon Majumdar from Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen as one of our hosts.
Adobe: Are there any new Adobe Premiere Pro features that you’re looking forward to incorporating into your workflow?
Biscardi: The new Consolidate and Transcode feature in Premiere Pro CC will come into play very heavily as we launch Contemporary Living Network. It will enable us to create archive versions of the master cut of each and every episode in a single format. That will help us easily re-open the project at a later date to make changes to graphics, re-export into a different format, or whatever else the situation warrants without the need to reopen all of the original media.
We’ll certainly keep all the original native media for future re-use, but having the finished episode in a single format is something we’ve been waiting for. It will come into play across the board at Biscardi Creative Media. So thankful to the Adobe team for getting that feature in there!
Watch the Arson Dogs series
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|David Fincher crafts thriller with talented team of artists and Adobe Premiere Pro CC|
If the first film review in Variety is any indication, Director David Fincher’s film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestselling novel Gone Girl will be well worth the price of admission. Many filmgoers will see the movie because they like the actors, the genre, or because they’ve read the book. Many others will go because they love Fincher’s vigorous storytelling, his impeccable pacing, and his striking visual style.
Whether the audience is conscious of it or not, it is Fincher’s careful structuring of narrative and imagery that makes his films so powerful. Gone Girl is the first Hollywood feature-length film cut entirely in Adobe Premiere Pro CC.
Fincher is a director known for pushing technology to the edge. To help realize his ambitious vision for Gone Girl, he shot the film with a RED Dragon camera in 6K and assembled a top-notch post-production team. Two-time Academy Award winner Kirk Baxter, ACE, edited the film with help from an editorial department that included Tyler Nelson, his long-time assistant editor. Peter Mavromates worked as post-production supervisor, while Jeff Brue of Open Drives was the post-production engineer. Fincher had worked with the group before, but the decision to use an integrated Adobe workflow with Adobe Premiere Pro CC at the hub, was a first for the tech-savvy director.
After successfully cutting a Calvin Klein commercial with Premiere Pro CC, the team set out to determine what it would take to support the demands of a two-and-a-half hour feature film using the same Adobe workflow. Brue was tasked with designing the storage system that would enable Premiere Pro to work smoothly within a demanding 6K production pipeline.
“Our goal was to get as many iterations as possible of the opticals and visual effects in a given period of time to make the story as strong as we could,” explains Brue. “The ask was for nothing less than perfection, which pushed us to do better. When it came down to it, Adobe Premiere Pro CC was faster than anything else in the market. That speed meant more iterations, more time to work on a shot, and more time to perfect an edit.”
Having worked on previous Fincher projects, Mavromates comfortably assumed the role of managing the pipeline, helping determine the post-production goals, and guiding the visual effects work. With a plan in place, Baxter got started on the edit, working closely with Fincher and relying on Nelson and others on the editorial team to navigate the technicalities of working on such a cutting-edge pipeline.
“Working with the Adobe engineers was probably the best development experience I’ve ever had,” says Nelson. “Everybody was in tune with what was going on and we always had this amazingly collaborative environment. It wasn’t just about making our movie the best movie it could be, we wanted to make every movie cut on Premiere Pro in the future the best movie it could be.”
Fincher shot in 6K with multiple takes, giving the team plenty of material to work with. With a gift for bringing out the best in everyone on a project, it would be easy to assume that the film is comprised of only “perfect takes.” In fact, 80% of the shots were enhanced in some way, from reframing and stabilization to split-screening to remove an extra breath.
The result, after a lot of meticulous detail work, is a film where every shot seems flawless. As the Variety review says, “…editor Kirk Baxter cuts the picture to within an inch of its life while still allowing individual scenes and the overall structure to breathe...”
“On every film we face the challenge of reducing the screen time without losing content,” says Baxter. “If we don’t have to cut out lines, but instead remove time from a scene by making invisible edits, that’s a win. The way David overshoots the frame in his films allows me to edit within the shot, then I throw it to the guys to sew together in After Effects, make it spotless, and stabilize the shot. That way David can judge the shots by the performance and delivery, rather than making comments on the technical aspects.”
Much of the visual effects work was done in-house, which allowed the team to work iteratively, in parallel with the editing. For example, Baxter could edit in Premiere Pro while others worked on shots in After Effects. The saved compositions would automatically update in Baxter’s timeline thanks to Adobe Dynamic Link. This integrated and interactive workflow kept shots looking cleaner and eliminated distracting back-and-forth discussions so the entire team could focus on the story as it took shape in the edit bay. This streamlined workflow was one of the main advantages for “Team Fincher.”
“On Gone Girl we managed to do a huge number of effects shots, probably more than 200, in house thanks to the tight integration between Premiere Pro and After Effects,” says Mavromates. “I don’t think the average viewer will think of Gone Girl as a visual effects movie. However, when you look closely at David’s movies he is playing little visual tricks and we are doing brass polishing on a significant number of shots.”
This talented group of self-described perfectionists, supported by a gifted and driven post-production team, put the Adobe video workflow through its most rigorous use case to date with great success. Now, with the hard work behind them, they can sit back and watch their months of work unfold for theater audiences around the world.
Check back for in-depth interviews with Kirk Baxter, Tyler Nelson, Peter Mavromates, and Jeff Brue about their work on Gone Girl!
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|Award-winning director streamlines production workflows with Adobe Premiere Pro|
Since the age of 13, director Phil Hawkins has cultivated his passion for filmmaking by writing and directing for both stage and screen. His work as a commercial director has earned him more than ten advertising awards, including a Roses Advertising Award, while his short and feature films have won awards at festivals around the world. In 2012, Hawkins launched The Philm Company to develop and produce new and exciting film projects.
The Philm Company’s latest project is the feature film The Last Showing. A psychological thriller starring Robert Englund, Finn Jones, Emily Berrington, and Keith Allen, The Last Showing was released in Autumn 2014 in markets around the world. Hawkins and veteran editor Paul Griffiths-Davies brought together 4k film footage and CCTV content in an efficient Adobe Premiere Pro workflow that helped Hawkins shift expenses from behind the scenes to in front of the camera.
Adobe: Tell us about making The Last Showing.
Hawkins: My goal for The Philm Company has been to focus on smaller, studio-quality films. The Last Showing is my take on a horror film. The movie stars a film projectionist played by veteran actor Robert Englund, who is probably best known to film buffs from his role as Freddy Kreuger in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. Deemed obsolete by modern technology, the projectionist decides to film his ideal horror movie, only he does so by trapping a young couple in his multiplex cinema and manipulating events to make them act out his plot.
I’m not very interested in over-the-top gore or the grainy, handheld look of found footage movies. I wanted to use a polished style that wouldn’t look out of place in a Hollywood film, so most of the footage is shot on a Sony F55 camera with 4K resolution. At the same time, key scenes in the film involve CCTV footage, so I used a real CCTV camera shooting on MiniDV. We could have shot everything on HD cameras and just used video effects to degrade the image, but I feel that you don’t get an authentic look that way. Real CCTV cameras gave us the low-fi aesthetic that we were looking for, without additional post-production costs.
Adobe: Why did you decide to work with Adobe Premiere Pro?
Hawkins: Before starting on The Last Showing, I did a short film that we shot on many different types of cameras. I was working with Final Cut Pro at the time and I discovered that it couldn’t handle the footage; we just didn’t have enough time or compute power to process all of the rushes. We tried Adobe Premiere Pro, and suddenly everything was running smoothly; it takes any format you throw at it. I couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to waste their time transcoding footage when Adobe Premiere Pro can do it all for you. I knew The Last Showing would be mixed format, so I didn’t give Paul the choice—I told him that we’d be working with Premiere Pro!
Premiere Pro was a huge cost-saver for us. Not only was it fast, but we could do almost all of our post-production work in-house. Why go to Soho and rent an editing suite when we could do the same work with one computer loaded with Premiere Pro and After Effects? The Last Showing may be a low-budget film, but I was determined that it would never look cheap. With more cost-efficient post-production, we can put more money in front of the screen.
Griffiths-Davies: The set was a working cinema, so Phil would shoot during the night and bring me the hard disk drive with the footage to work on during the day. Edits are what turn footage into a film, and with the Adobe setup, we had the flexibility to work on edits whenever we wanted, for as long as we wanted, rather than trying to fit edits into a set studio schedule.
Adobe: How was the switch to Premiere Pro?
Griffiths-Davies: It was actually my first time working on Premiere Pro, although I have extensive experience working with Avid and Final Cut Pro. Phil only gave me a few weeks’ notice, so I bought a couple of books and just taught myself. I found it surprisingly easy to use though, and I picked it up quickly. The speed from preparation into editing was probably the biggest and most exciting change for me. I would get the rushes at the end of the shooting day and just go straight into editing. I didn’t have to wait for transcoding at all.
Adobe: What features stood out for you?
Hawkins: Premiere Pro has a lot of charms to it that other editing programs don’t have. It closes gaps between clips beautifully and it supports third-party plug-ins very smoothly. We used DaVinci Resolve for color grading, and the trailer uses a plug-in filter to add digital distortion. We also used After Effects for titles and logo replacement, which was very easy thanks to built-in tracking.
Probably the biggest benefit on this film was using Dynamic Link between Premiere Pro and After Effects. We have a few scenes where Englund’s character watches the young couple through a bank of monitors. We could have played green screens and replaced the footage in post, but I wanted to capture the unique lighting and degradation of video playing on actual LCD screens.
We had to shoot all of the CCTV footage beforehand and edit it together into videos that we played on the monitors. The toughest part was getting the timing right. If a character walked off the screen of one monitor, they would appear on another monitor from a different angle. We used Premiere Pro to edit the precise timing of each video and then send it to After Effects to add titles and animations. Dynamic Link made the whole process so much easier by keeping clips in sync and letting us switch back and forth without constantly exporting video.
Adobe: When can we see The Last Showing?
Hawkins: We had our world premiere of The Last Showing at Film 4 FrightFest 2014 in London, and it’s now available on digital platforms through iTunes and local cable providers in the United States.
Adobe: What’s next for The Philm Company?
Hawkins: We’ve got several potential projects in the works and we’ll finally be upgrading to Adobe Creative Cloud. I’m really looking forward to working with all of the new software. I’m dying to take a look at Adobe SpeedGrade CC, and there are some new features for Premiere Pro CC and After Effects CC that sound very promising. Everything already works together so smoothly that it’s exciting to think what we’ll be able to do with the deeper integration that Creative Cloud offers.
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|Talented artist uses Adobe After Effects to create fitting typographic animation for parody video|
On Tuesday, July 15th, the most shared video on YouTube and Facebook was “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Word Crimes,” a parody of Robin Thicke’s popular “Blurred Lines” single. With more than 12 million YouTube views and climbing, the song is both clever and catchy. But what really brings it to life is the video’s impressive typographic animation. Jarrett Heather, a software developer with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, spent 500 hours over three months working with Al Yankovic on the project, which relies heavily on Adobe After Effects, Photoshop, and Illustrator.
Adobe: How did you get involved with this project?
Heather: One day last November I opened my email, and there was a message from Al Yankovic. He had seen the “Shop Vac” video I created a few years ago and wanted to know if I’d be interested in a directing gig. I wrote back right away and let him know that I’d be honored to work on the project. He was still in the conceptual phase with the song, so I didn’t get the specs and lyrics until the first week in January.
Adobe: How did you get started?
Heather: In early January Al cut a demo together, which I used to create the animatic. I thought I would just get a click track with vocals tapped in, but it is a fully produced demo, with six or seven vocal tracks. After Effects was my canvas for designing the entire animatic. I pulled in clip art from the web, put the assets together in Photoshop, and just brought them in and started working.
Adobe: What type of direction did “Weird Al” Yankovic give you for the visuals?
Heather: At the start of the project he had a long list of specific visual ideas he wanted to see me try out. One thing I was grateful for is that he decided that the whole rap section should be done on a chalkboard; I love how it turned out. But some ideas didn’t jive with my vision for the video and he was really respectful of that fact. Overall, he was wonderful to work with.
Adobe: How did you come up with the other ideas for the visuals?
Heather: I started by reading the lyrics and imagining the look of the video. I knew the concept would be a contrast between old media textbooks and encyclopedias against new media interfaces, applications, and sites. Basically, I created a visual argument between the past and the present, the grammar police and the grammar criminals. I also looked at the “Blurred Lines” video a lot. That’s the video we were parodying and I wanted to bring as much in from the original video as I could. You can see that in the color palette and hashtag typography.
Adobe: Can you tell us more about how you utilized After Effects?
Heather: I had to do a little pre-analysis on the song before I got started, because three minutes and 44 seconds is too much to fit into one project file. I decided what the different sections would be and broke it into chunks. I used the type tool in After Effects to put the type on the canvas and went from there. The design process went pretty quickly. Every day I would do a test render of an animatic and send it to Al and he would give me feedback on the jokes and designs right away.
Adobe: Did you take any unique approaches with the animation?
Heather: I’m not a professional animator, so nothing technically crazy is going on in the video. Other animators may actually want to look at how often things aren’t moving in the animation. That alone may set the style apart from other typography videos. You can’t really read type while it is moving and you can’t read it while the camera is moving. I had to be careful about how much animation I put into it.
Adobe: What other Adobe products did you use on the “Word Crimes” project?
Heather: Most of the art assets were created in Photoshop or directly in After Effects. I also used Illustrator now and then. The less or fewer signage in the video was an illustration I created in Illustrator. I also used Illustrator to trace over the computer interface in the tweet animation to make it nice and sharp. I also used Adobe Premiere Pro to edit the whole thing together and Adobe Media Encoder to encode the final video.
Adobe: Tell us about your job.
Heather: I got started in design putting websites together. My job is mainly designing user interfaces for software, integrating user interfaces into the back end of software, and creating iOS and desktop apps. I mostly create graphics for the web, so Photoshop is my bread and butter, and I get to work with Adobe Creative Cloud on a daily basis. I’m lucky because my job gives me lots of opportunity to be creative.
Adobe: What’s next for you?
Heather: All my life I’ve been curious and I’ve learned to do different things. It turns out I’m good at a lot of them, but I don’t have any formal training in the arts. I enjoy working on side projects but I’m pretty picky about what I take on. I’m really happy to see how successful the video has been for Al and I want to see his Mandatory Fun album succeed, but I’m not looking to quit my day job! The Internet is a pretty fast moving stream these days, so it won’t be long until everyone is on to the next thing.
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|Ambitious French filmmakers produce their first genre feature film using Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Premiere Pro CC|
The zombie movie genre, which dates back as far as the 1930s, includes dozens of films from comedies to true horror classics. Insolence Productions, created by Anaïs Bertrand in 2009, combines both comedy and horror in a new film for zombie movie enthusiasts, Super Z. After producing nine award-winning short films, this is the first feature from Insolence Productions. The movie was filmed in the heart of France in September 2013 and directed by Julien Arnaud Tabarly Volte. Producer Laura Townsend worked with Co-producer Emmanuel Pampuri and Paul Ferré, the film’s talented editor, to create the film using an Adobe video workflow.
Adobe: How did you get started in the movie industry?
Pampuri: I started as cameraman in 1991 then worked on movie sets with montage, production, and finally in post production. For many years, I worked on the sets of live performances, helping capture the performing arts on video. I started my company, Les Machineurs, in 2006. We specialize mostly in post-production work but also cover the entire filmmaking workflow, from shooting to post production. We provide equipment and expertise, as well as the final output.
Townsend: I’ve been involved in the movie industry for the past eight years. I started as a production assistant then quickly moved up to director of production on short films and then full-length feature films. I started a company three years ago called La Ruche Production and produced Super Z in collaboration with Insolence Productions as a freelancer. I’ve worked with a multitude of production companies and studios on regional full-length feature films and I’m hoping to someday collaborate with U.S. filmmakers.
Adobe: What was your role with the film Super Z?
Pampuri: My role with Super Z is a bit complicated. I’m the workflow glue. I was initially the one that proposed the collaboration and brought the teams together for the realization of this motion picture. My role covered every aspect of the project from shooting to post production, including technical decisions such as equipment and software choices. I was the main coordinator for this film. Les Machineurs was also the digital lab for the film and, being the principle, I had my hands in many different aspects of its realization.
Townsend: I am a producer on the film. I met the directors about 15 years ago and was brought in by the group at Insolence Productions. I shared my role with the company’s founder Anaïs Bertrand. Over the years, I’ve collaborated with the directors and the technical team on a multitude of projects.
Adobe: Have you personally used Adobe Premier Pro CC?
Pampuri: I used Adobe Premiere Pro CC for post-production work on Super Z. I’m a member of the Adobe influencer program and use Premiere Pro on a regular basis with most projects I work on.
Adobe: Tell us about Super Z.
Townsend: It’s a movie that provoked a high level of interest among industry professionals, actors, and comedians. Given the unusual and unexpected nature of its horror/comedy premise, the projects was a challenge that many of us were eager to take on. For the same reasons, getting the financial support necessary to bring our ideas to life was a big challenge especially here in France. We had to seek help from the local film community, numerous private contributors, and the web, where we raised close to 13,000 Euros on Ulule.com.
A solid partnership with Adobe also helped us tremendously along the way. We ended up launching the project on a relatively small budget and are very happy with how things turned out thanks to Adobe Creative Cloud applications, especially Premiere Pro CC.
Adobe: How did Adobe Creative Cloud applications help?
Pampuri: The choice to go with Premiere Pro was an easy one to make. The tool made all our lives much easier. The footage was shot with RED cameras so we needed a tool that could support raw R3D file formats and allow us to rapidly upload and work with the files without wasting time formatting or dealing with compatibility issues. This aspect alone was reason enough for us to go with Premiere Pro.
Overall, there were many special effects in the film. We had a separate agency creating the effects and it was my job to help ensure a seamless workflow between all the teams involved. They used After Effects for simple 2D animations. We were able to gather elements from all different sources and easily integrate them into Premiere Pro without wasting any time dealing with compatibly or reformatting issues. Synergy, flexibility, simplicity, and efficiency were the identifiable benefits behind our choice of Adobe Creative Cloud.
Ferré: In the past I used Final Cut Pro and hadn’t used Premiere Pro for a project of this magnitude. With this film, I had Premiere Pro at my disposal and I was impressed with the overall speed of execution. We didn’t have to wait long hours for rendering and were able to use our raw R3D files directly from the cameras. The software itself was very intuitive and user-friendly. Compared to other solutions I’ve used in the past I can say it is very robust and fast. I greatly appreciated how much valuable time we were able to save thanks to Adobe Premiere Pro.
Adobe: Did you discover any new features while using Premiere Pro for the film?
Ferré: Real-time rendering was quite a pleasant surprise for me. When I made edits, I was able to export right away and see the result without having to wait a long time for rendering or reformatting. We can apply effects and filters and visualize the result in real time instead of waiting for hours.
Adobe: Were there any challenges?
Pampuri: At the beginning we had issues finding the right computers along with the appropriate hardware add-ons to tackle such a colossal project. Due to our limited budget, we were using an outdated Mac Pro computer that didn’t allow us to take full advantage of all the features that came with the software. Since we had budget restrictions, we struggled a bit getting the right equipment to do the job. There were issues with audio cards and memory capacity. After we upgraded the equipment and had the right technical infrastructure, everything worked well and we were able to make up for lost time.
Adobe: Can you see yourselves using Adobe video tools in the future?
Pampuri: Les Machineurs is already standardizing on Adobe Creative Cloud. Whether it’s Premiere Pro, After Effects, or Prelude, we appreciate the robustness and efficiency of this set of tools.
Townsend: My team and I were truly impressed with the performance of Adobe Premiere Pro CC. I plan on using it in post-production environments in the future project. My company already uses Adobe Audition for music videos and sound treatment.
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|British network transforms production with Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise|
For more than 50 years, ITV has delivered beloved and successful programming to households throughout the United Kingdom. Today, ITV is probably best known for its flagship serial dramas, Coronation Street and Emmerdale, both of which have been on the air for thousands of episodes and found popularity with audiences around the world. Decades of experience with the fast turnaround of these dramas has underlined the importance of efficient production and streamlined workflows. In his upcoming talk at IBC, Martyn Suker, head of production innovation for ITV, will share some of his secrets to establishing superior production workflows.
Adobe: Tell us about what you do at ITV.
Suker: My main focus is to set and continuously review the digital production strategies across ITV Studios. I also support and advise teams for all our productions. Sometimes that means helping a show find the right facilities, developing a new workflow, or helping them maximize the creative opportunities of emerging technologies or techniques, at other times it can mean advising on standard camera policies.
Adobe: What is the production modernization program?
Suker: We’re always looking for ways to improve processes and the way that we work. Right now, our main focus is on how we can simplify our production workflows. It’s not just about swapping out a few pieces of software or hardware here and there. It’s an overarching change program looking at roles and responsibilities, best practices, and the entire production culture. Ultimately, we’re looking to save time and money during production so that we can shift more value on screen.
Adobe: What were you looking for in a solution?
Suker: We were definitely looking for an end-to-end solution. Having said that, when most people speak of an end-to-end approach, they are usually just referring to the post-production process. We look at the entire production process, starting from the early stages of commissioning and ending at the final delivery and archival. Importantly we want to track production information throughout the production lifecycle and wherever possible, automate mundane tasks. It’s about providing a better experience for users all round.
Adobe: How does Adobe Creative Cloud fit in to the production workflow?
Suker: We’ve been using Adobe Story CC Plus on Coronation Street and Emmerdale for quite some time. It’s a big operation; both shows have three or four crews working simultaneously everyday for 50 weeks a year. With such a fast turnaround they need to shoot out of order, so Story plays an incredibly important role in helping us keep track of schedules and scripts.
Designers have also been using Adobe After Effects and Photoshop for quite some time, but the two most recent additions to our workflow have been Adobe Prelude CC and Adobe Premiere Pro CC. By adopting an all Adobe workflow it’s possible to take advantage of the built-in integrations, allowing us to work more quickly and effectively.
Adobe: How does MioEverywhere support the production workflow?
Suker: MioEverywhere from Nativ.tv is a highly configurable production information and workflow management system that’s helped us take our workflow to a new level. We used it to build panels in Prelude and Premiere Pro that help simplify data and media management within that part of the process. One of the key advantages of Creative Cloud is the ability to do that type of integration, quickly and simply.
Adobe: How did you decide that the Adobe workflow was right for ITV?
Suker: We want productions to have the ability to choose the right tool for the job. We ran a pilot using Creative Cloud and MioEverywhere to produce a recent drama documentary. It was about ensuring we had the right approach, functionality and capabilities. There are always issues when you introduce something new, but you only discover those issues when you put it into a real environment—an actual production that’s got to meet deadlines and provide quality.
Adobe Prelude worked very smoothly by enabling the production team to log and ingest footage quickly and efficiently. The editor, like most of our editors at ITV, had never worked with Premiere Pro before and it was a complicated edit involving drama reconstructions mixed with archive footage. We proved there were no more issues than you would normally expect with such a complex piece of editing, indeed some things were better.
Adobe: What were the results of the pilot?
Suker: Prelude was particularly effective in providing huge time savings during ingest. Overall the benefits were significant and as a result we were able to move investment to on-screen talent. Having a recognizable high-profile leading actor may convince the network to give us a better slot in the schedule, pulling in a bigger audience and in turn, driving more revenue.
Moreover, it proved Adobe does not prevent us from working with other tools. For the pilot program, the producer wanted to work with a particular colorist and dubbing mixer. We just exported the masters, handed them over to the post-production house, re-imported the grade and dub and then finished the program in Premiere Pro. Even though it’s possible to handle everything within the Adobe workflow, we proved it’s also flexible enough to give production teams those options.
Adobe: Why did you get an enterprise term license agreement for Adobe Creative Cloud?
Suker: We can see opportunities to use Creative Cloud across the company, both in production and with our development teams. We want choice and to encourage staff to experiment with different software within Creative Cloud to provide further benefit. For example, one of our production labels is using Creative Cloud to create content for all its YouTube channels. Using the full range of toolsets within the suite is saving a lot of time and indirectly of course, money.
Adobe: What are the next steps for ITV?
Suker: We got approval for funding based on the success of the pilot, so now we’re ironing out all the details in terms of the best configurations, implementing our learning from the pilot and procuring the right infrastructure to support initial roll-out across the company.
We’re also working closely with production, development teams and editors to get them used to working with Prelude and Premiere Pro. We’re really excited about its possibilities and the opportunities that for example, Adobe Anywhere might also offer in future.
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|Swiss broadcasting company uses Adobe Creative Cloud to create show openers for top sports event coverage|
Earlier this year, we interviewed Patrick Arnecke, head of design and promotion for Swiss Radio and Television (SRF) about the new opener the broadcaster created for its coverage of the Sotchi winter games. Since then, SRF has created similar openers for its coverage of the games in Brazil and the Europe Athletic Cup in Zurich. Representatives from SRF will be speaking at Adobe’s booth at IBC, where they will go into more depth about how Adobe Creative Cloud helps them craft these original content pieces. Here, Motion Designer Simone Nucci gives us a quick overview of what will be discussed.
Adobe: What cameras did you use to shoot the openers?
Nucci: We used RED EPIC for the action shots and Phantom Flex for the slow motion sequences. Everything that is shot is imported into Premiere Pro CC so we can quickly produce a rough cut. After we’re happy with the rough cut, we start to do all of the 3D tracking using SynthEyes. In the meantime we do all the keying and retouching, such as color adjustments of the athletes' shirts, in After Effects.
Adobe: How do you work with Cinema 4D?
Nucci: Cinema 4D is used to make all of the backgrounds before everything is composed in After Effects CC. The programs work really well together and really speed up our workflow. We can import 3D information from Cinema 4D, such as lights and camera data, and it updates in After Effects with one click without rendering again and again.
Adobe: Are there any After Effects CC features that make a difference in your workflow?
Nucci: Working with the Roto Brush in After Effects is really fast. Not everything in the openers was shot on a green screen. Sometimes we had lights or small objects in a shot that we had to rotoscope out and Mocha AE made it very easy.
All compositing and color correction is done in After Effects before we render the shots out for Premiere Pro, where we adjust the cut and create several cutdowns for other design elements. In the end, everything is rendered out as a QuickTime movie.
Adobe: What other Adobe Creative Cloud applications do you use?
Nucci: We do part of our matte paintings in Photoshop for backgrounds and regularly use Photoshop and Illustrator for storyboarding and concept art. Illustrator is also used to create outlines for 3D objects because they are so easy to handle in Cinema4D. Basically, we used many applications in the package to create the three openers.
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|Animation Studio uses scripts, complex rigging, and Adobe Creative Cloud to animate Angry Birds Toons|
Rovio Entertainment began as a mobile game developer in Helsinki, Finland in 2003. The company became a global phenomenon in 2009 by creating Angry Birds, the most downloaded paid mobile app of all time. Today, the company has expanded its international brand into an entertainment company that includes publishing, education, theme parks, and animation. Currently, Rovio Animation Studio employs 125 animation professionals and veterans from both Finland and abroad.
Rovio Animation Technical Director Jussi-Petteri Kemppainen and Pipeline and Tools Developer Pauli Suuraho helped create the first season of Angry Birds Toons, which can be viewed on the company’s multiplatform video channel, ToonsTV. ToonsTV just passed the three billion views milestone and the studio is now preparing season two of Angry Birds Toons using a workflow featuring Adobe Creative Cloud.
Adobe: How did Rovio Animation get started?
Kemppainen: After Rovio’s amazing success in mobile gaming, the company decided to expand its offerings to include more entertainment and publishing offerings. I founded a studio in 2007 named Kombo, which Rovio purchased in 2010. I then became one of the co-founders of Rovio Animation and was responsible for creating an Adobe After Effects rigging system for the characters in the Angry Birds Toons cartoon.
Adobe: Tell us how you’ve developed your animation processes using Adobe Creative Cloud.
Suuraho: For the first season of Angry Birds Toons, we produced 52, two-and-a-half-minute episodes featuring a total of 1,600 backgrounds. We created a lot of custom tools in Adobe Photoshop and Adobe After Effects to handle that kind of workload. I worked on the Photoshop and After Effects tools, mostly for exporting files and custom tools for rigs, and Jussi built all the animation rigs for After Effects.
Adobe: What do the Photoshop tools do?
Suuraho: Photoshop makes it possible to export backgrounds as .psd files that contain all layers and painting data. However, when we export to After Effects we don’t want to export the whole .psd file because we end up with a lot of unnecessary layers, blending modes, and adjustment layers. The script we created takes the original working file in Photoshop and makes a series of .png files. It crops and tidies up different elements and then we have another script in After Effects, which make it easy to rebuild the background.
We have another helpful tool for what we call field guides that include all framing and camera movements. If the director wants to review how an episode’s backgrounds will look before compositing, we can export camera information from Photoshop to make a “background reel,” showing the basic timing structure of the episode with just the backgrounds.
Adobe: Once everything is ready for compositing, how are you using Adobe After Effects?
Kemppainen: In After Effects, we created a script to import backgrounds from Photoshop. Then we do this kind of parallax background layer position with a unique tool we have written for After Effects. It helps make 3D depth with mathematically correct camera movements in 2D images by setting far and near planes. It distributes different layers on 3D depth.
Adobe: Why did you come up with such complex tools?
Kemppainen: We’ve used After Effects since the very beginning. We made the decision to upgrade the tools and the After Effects pipeline to match the quality of what we wanted to produce. Essentially, our goal was to do 3D-like rigging in After Effects and still produce 2D animation with hand-drawn qualities that 3D animation lacks, including elements such as brush strokes to create a natural look.
Adobe: Did you have to do a lot of research?
Kemppainen: Most of the research we did was into whether something was already on the market. We didn’t find anything that suited our needs, so we pursued internal development in After Effects. We wanted our animators to use a rig, get feedback, and then modify the animation until we achieved a certain look.
We built the rig to be approachable and understandable to animators. They wouldn’t have to dig into layers, go to effects, or figure things out. We gave them a toolbox that let them control the animation externally. Our animators have controls like in a 3D rig, including a console that lets you copy animation from one character and paste it onto a new character. Actually many of the custom tools we build for After Effects originated around that concept.
Adobe: Were there specific animations you wanted to support?
Kemppainen: We wanted to animate the birds’ beaks, such as their expressions and lip syncing, in a way that looked hand-drawn, but without having to draw millions of frames. We focused on the eyes and eye movement, as well as the eyebrows. We also rigged body shapes and feathers.
We also used After Effects for dynamic lighting. When the animation is complete, animators can re-light the character, changing the color of the light, the direction of the main light, adding backlighting or front-lighting, and so on. We also have characters following a ground plane, as they would in a video game. Characters and shadows are dynamically linked to the ground plane, which helps avoid secondary animation.
We had the goal of having everything we animate ready for print, so it could be used for marketing and packaging. Working in Adobe Creative Cloud made that easy to accomplish.
Adobe: How long did it take to develop the tools?
Kemppainen: The main chunk of development was done in the first five months. We spent the next six months or so on refinements. I was the only person rigging characters, ten in all. Granted, each one is really only a head, but I’ve never seen anything this complex done in After Effects.
Watch the video with Jussi-Petteri Kemppainen and Pauli Suuraho
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