BLOGS: My COW Blog Adobe Blog Editing Technology After Effects Final Cut Entertainment


Kirk Baxter, ACE, leads edit of “Gone Girl,” latest box office hit for David Fincher

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.

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Nov 9, 2014 at 4:40:34 pm Creative Cloud, Customers

Creating lasting video impressions

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.

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Oct 21, 2014 at 2:12:46 pm Creative Cloud, Customers

Biscardi Creative Media combines experience, storytelling, and heart

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

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Oct 15, 2014 at 8:42:16 pmComments (1) Creative Cloud, Customers

“Gone Girl” marks yet another milestone for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

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!

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Oct 13, 2014 at 8:48:57 am Creative Cloud, Customers

Thrilling theater-goers with “The Last Showing”

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.

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Oct 10, 2014 at 12:45:40 pm Creative Cloud, Customers

Behind the scenes of “Word Crimes”

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.

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Oct 9, 2014 at 3:32:36 pm After Effects, Customers

Modern and daring filmmaking

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

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.

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Oct 8, 2014 at 11:48:53 am Creative Cloud, Customers

Turning the spotlight on modernized production

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 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.

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Oct 7, 2014 at 10:20:50 am Creative Cloud, Customers

SRF creates original content for broadcast coverage

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.

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Oct 6, 2014 at 9:44:29 amComments (1) Creative Cloud, Customers

Rovio Animation simplifies complex animations

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

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Oct 2, 2014 at 10:10:49 am Creative Cloud, Customers

MPC creates spectacular visions

Global VFX studio produces extraordinary motion graphics and visual effects with Adobe Creative Cloud

MPC is one of the world’s leading visual effects and motion graphics studios, with more than 2,000 employees in eight global offices. The studio’s work includes blockbuster films such as Godzilla, the Harry Potter franchise, and Life of Pi, and advertising campaigns for global brands including Samsung, Ikea, and Visa. MPC works with agencies, production companies, directors, and does some direct-to-brand engagements as well. Senior Motion Graphics Designer Will MacNeil, PR Manager Ella Boekeman, and Creative Director Dave Haupt explain the role of Adobe Creative Cloud in bringing their visions to life.

Adobe: What is important for us to know about MPC?
Boekeman: MPC does everything from initial concept art, treatment consultation, pre-visualization, shoot supervision, 2D compositing, 3D/CG effects, animation, color grading, and digital and experiential production. We have three main areas of work, MPC Film, MPC Adverting, and MPC Creative. MPC Film are best known for their work on blockbuster films and won the Academy Award in VFX last year for their work on Life of Pi. We launched MPC Creative as our standalone production arm to service clients who want us to manage the entire production process and to develop a more innovative range of technology-based solutions to their creative challenges. MPC Advertising is our more traditional commercials work.

Adobe: How does MPC use Adobe Creative Cloud?
MacNeil: As a motion design studio, we rely on Adobe tools every day. Artists use Photoshop CC at the beginning of projects when we’re designing ideas for pitches and during project design when we’re mocking up frames, textures, and backgrounds. We use After Effects CC for compositing video material. Adobe tools are the most fundamental part of the work we do.
Haupt: We also use Illustrator CC. For instance, we get a lot of photo-real shots and graphics that we animate. We start in Photoshop or Illustrator, and then bring the images or graphics into After Effects.

The integrated Creative Cloud toolset is surprisingly simple. When we recently added Adobe Premiere Pro CC to our workflow, we thought it would be slower than our traditional pipeline. But when we conformed a three-minute promo for Camay soap, it was just as fast. Plus, it’s seamless to transition between desktop applications. We use InDesign for all pitches and treatments.

Adobe: How would you describe the general workflow at MPC?
Haupt: Our work varies quite a lot because we cover everything in the design spectrum including posters, online, and events. Typically, we meet with a director or agency and listen to their ideas and input. After that, we talk about the best way to shoot it. Everybody is trying to maximize budgets and extract greater value, whether in-camera, in VFX, or a mixture of the two.

After we come up with the best solution, we start doing concept work. We do a lot of character concept work and use Creative Cloud for pre-visualization. Quite often we use storyboard frames to make quick animatics that help bring ideas to life.

Adobe: What do you like about working with Creative Cloud?
MacNeil: Creative Cloud opens up projects to more people in the studio. A team may include one animator leading the job, while others focus on specific shots, visual effects techniques, or looks we’re trying to achieve. We give everyone a task that suits their skills, whether it’s drawing in Illustrator or creating animations in After Effects.
Haupt: The big thing is getting everyone involved. While we’re writing scripts and looking at locations, we’re always mocking up concepts, doing animation tests, and constantly working on the project so when it comes in from the editors, we’re ready to move forward.

Adobe: What were the drivers behind MPC’s switch to Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
Haupt: We were using Final Cut Pro, but wanted to explore Premiere Pro because of its tie-in with After Effects. Some projects have smaller budgets, so we needed a way around using Autodesk Flame for visual effects to save money and time. Now that we’re using Premiere Pro, we love it.
MacNeil: When we first worked with Premiere Pro CC we were impressed with its performance, as well as its integration with the rest of the Creative Cloud applications.

Adobe: Can you tell us about a recent project you completed using Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
MacNeil: We recently completed a title sequence and graphics package for German channel ZDF’s Champions League coverage. The job was directed by our in-house team Tom Robinson and Steve Ross. Premiere Pro CC was an essential tool on the project. The job required reworking live action football footage into an outer space environment full of nebulae, asteroids, and planets, with lots of particle and FX work. The main title was made up of a series of live action shots, but placed together in a single, seamless camera move.

We used Premiere Pro in the animatic stage to try different live action shots against our music and to see how different shots worked together. Once a potential shot came in, we’d start to do some rough compositing work in After Effects and then, using Dynamic Link, we could open it in Premiere Pro and try it in different parts of the cut. We could move it all around the timeline and see how it played against the music, and also with the adjacent shots.

We used the time remapping in Premiere Pro, which is surprisingly simple and quick, to create speed ramps to work with the music. If we needed to make simple changes to the composite, we’d just open the shot in After Effects, tweak it, and then pop back into Premiere Pro where it would automatically update. Then we could get this updated offline to our clients very quickly and respond accordingly to their comments. It made what could have been a very tedious and time-consuming process much less painful.

Adobe: What other projects have you done using this workflow?
Haupt: We’ve worked on a number of fun projects recently, including a Bentley promo, a commercial for UK mobile provider Three, and an epic commercial for adidas that we’ll be discussing at IBC 2014. We’re always excited to work on projects that lead our team in new creative directions.

Watch the interview with William (Will) MacNeil

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Oct 1, 2014 at 3:19:38 pm Creative Cloud, Customers

Karrot Animation expands 2D possibilities

Animation studio produces children’s series using a workflow enabled by Adobe Creative Cloud and CelAction

Rapid technology advances have made computer animation one of the fastest growing industries in Europe and North America. The demand for animated entertainment is growing partly due to expanding broadcasting hours for cable and satellite TV and the ever-increasing popularity of the Internet. Since it launched in 2008, the United Kingdom’s Karrot Animation has become a recognized industry leader, producing 2D animated shows including the international hit Sarah & Duck. Karrot co-founder Jamie Badminton attributes the company’s success to a talented team supported by efficient workflows.

Adobe: How did you develop the Karrot team?
Badminton: I studied to be an animator at Arts University Bournemouth and was in one of the last classes to do hand-drawn animation using cels and cel paint. I learned a lot about storytelling, which has been very helpful lately. I met Karrot co-founder Chris White when he hired me to illustrate a children’s book. We discovered we were both interested in television. He wanted to create children’s programs and my desire was to tell animated stories over multiple episodes. I’ve always been more a fan of television animation than feature film animation.

I went to university with Tim O'Sullivan, who’s our third partner. He was exceptional at solving storytelling problems and a very talented animator. Together, the three of us realized that if we created a studio to do commercial work, we could gain the ability to scale up and produce television programs when an opportunity came along. We used any available downtime to develop TV ideas. When we got a commission to create short videos for the BBC, we hired eight people for six months. When the contract finished, we kept everybody on to develop television ideas.

A layered comp in Adobe After Effects CC for Sarah & Duck

Adobe: Did you have particular kinds of shows in mind?
Badminton: We decided to create ten series ideas—five for children and five for adults. Sarah & Duck rose to the top. Tim developed the idea with Sarah Gomes Harris who designed and created the core of the stories. In some respects, it’s about a 7-year-old version of Sarah and her childhood love of ducks. A short pilot created in Adobe Flash Professional opened a few doors for us, but we knew we needed a more serious pipeline. We adopted CelAction because it has an item tracking system that suits TV production and we were able to pitch and win some broadcast contracts.

Sarah & Duck Character animation in Adobe After Effects CC

Adobe: Can you describe the production workflow?
Badminton: Being a small organization, we always wanted to create the show under one roof and that’s the crucial part of what Adobe Creative Cloud lets us do. We use Audition CC to collect and edit audio, Premiere Pro CC for animatics and final editing, After Effects CC for character composites and backgrounds, and we create the character art in Photoshop CC. Our animators can store artwork and layers created with Adobe tools in CelAction and work on scenes together. We then output .png sequences from CelAction to After Effects for comping and Premiere Pro for finalization.

Sarah & Duck final edit in Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Adobe: How long does it take to produce each episode?
Badminton: For each episode we assign one art director, two designers, one storyboard artist, one scriptwriter, one animation director, and four animators. A typical episode takes three weeks to produce in each department. The animators complete about six-and-a-half seconds a day for three weeks, which gets us to our six- and-a-half minute episode total.

Sarah & Duck storyboard

Adobe: Tell us how you bring the audio and animation together.
Badminton: The singular drawn panels are brought into Premiere Pro and the JKL trimming feature in Premiere Pro lets us dynamically trim clips on the timeline. This saves us so much time because we cut hundreds of pictures into the animatic to show everyone what it will look like.

Dynamic trimming in Adobe Premiere Pro CC for Sarah & Duck

We edit all audio in house using Audition and we don’t lock the sound track before we do our storyboards because we find this limiting. We like having the flexibility to hone the voice tracks while we’re syncing everything together in Premiere Pro. Everything is adjustable until we lock the animatics, which gives us full control over the storytelling process.

Audio editing in Adobe Audition CC for Sarah & Duck

Adobe: Why did you want to do everything in house?
Badminton: It was just crucial that we learned the lessons of making a TV show firsthand. If you start out working with a co-production company straightaway, you don’t know what parts of the process you can’t let out of your sight or what bits you can give more leeway. Adobe software absolutely enables us to do this for the right price.

Adobe: How much are we talking about in terms of cost?
Badminton: Film quality 3D animation can cost upwards of £200,000 per produced minute. Plus, it’s time consuming. The 3D rigging for the character Shrek took 18 months. In television, other producers are creating shows for about £12,000 per minute. Right now, we produce Sarah & Duck for about £8,500 per minute, which is relatively cheap.

I think that’s why a lot of other animation studios are also starting to use a similar process. Our show is seen by many as the benchmark for high quality on a tight budget. We’ve found the magic triangle of cheap, fast, and quality, which doesn’t happen very often.

Editing Sarah & Duck in Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Adobe: What would you say distinguishes Sarah & Duck from other shows?
Badminton: There are two main things I think we do differently. We give our art directors more time to develop backgrounds and other elements that provide tremendous on-screen value. We also crafted our workflows to enable creative flexibility.

Creation of background for Sarah & Duck in Adobe Photoshop CC

The art director works on storyboard images and produces an art pack, which gets signed off before everything else moves forward. The rest of the team can then look at the art director’s layer files, use of textures, and other flourishes. The show looks quite organic, but the number of textures that we use will surprise people, which is cool. We may use rusted metal, or exotic tile from Marrakech to create unique textures, and those kinds of elements are totally unexpected in preschool TV. It gives our 2D animation a lot of depth and visual appeal.

The art pack is also the last time the BBC gets to approve artwork until we’re finished, so it’s a good production checkpoint. We budget three weeks per department for each show, but we try to be flexible. We want the design team to see what they can do with mixtures of After Effects, 2D puppet characters, and even frame-by-frame animation created in Photoshop. Our editor Mark came up with a great analogy in that the process of producing the show is a lot like watching a duck swimming. Ducks look like they’re gliding along the water, but underneath the surface, they’re kicking like crazy to create the effortlessness that people get to see.

Watch the interview with Jamie Badminton

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Sep 30, 2014 at 1:29:13 pm Creative Cloud, Customers

Philip Bloom follows passion and earns passionate following

Freelance filmmaker relies on a variety of cameras and Adobe Creative Cloud to create documentary and fiction projects

Filmmaking is less of a career and more of a way of life for Philip Bloom. He began his 24-year career focusing on news and documentary work, building his skills in all aspects of video production. Today, he’s a prolific freelance filmmaker and outspoken proponent of low-budget video. Everyone from hobbyists to experienced professionals look to him for information on what cameras, software, and gear they should be using. In addition to being a vocal Canon supporter, Bloom also advocates the use of Adobe Premiere Pro CC for video editing and regularly shares his knowledge and experiences with more than one million monthly website visitors.

Adobe: How did you first get started in editing?
Bloom: I’ve been working in editing for nearly 25 years. I first went to work at a news bureau and they gave me three days to learn how to edit. I picked it up so quickly, by my first day on the job editing I was cutting the lead package. It was an easy, natural thing for me. Eventually I moved to the documentary unit and spent 15 years traveling the world shooting and editing stories.

Adobe: Why did you stop working in broadcast?
Bloom: The station I was working for decided to shut down the documentary unit and go back to 24-hour breaking news. I’d been in charge of the unit for three years and didn’t want to go back to editing news. It was a comfortable, well-paying job, but documentary work was my life and my passion, and I’d always told myself that the moment I felt like I needed to move on, I would move on.

Adobe: Were you excited to start working as a freelancer?
Bloom: It’s very difficult to jump out on your own and this was the push I needed. Luckily when I left a former colleague offered me a documentary series with a different network so I got to jump right in doing something I love. I’ve always tried to do different projects and stretch my skills.

Adobe: How did you build your online presence?
Bloom: My website and social media presence are a by-product of a show I did online. I started working with some new technology that was supposed to make content look more cinematic and filmic, and I decided to share my journey on a blog. I experimented with different cameras to see if I could get the same look as I could with more expensive cameras. It became really popular and people started following me.

Adobe: What made you want to continue sharing your experiences?
Bloom: When I worked in news editing, I had a mentor who taught me a lot. Those types of staff jobs don’t exist as much in the television industry anymore, so people have to find their own way. I like to share what I’m doing so others can learn from it. I’m actually very similar to a lot of freelancers out there. I’m very much in touch with all levels of production from very junior to high-end. I have experience working among all of them, so it’s great to be able to share how things work for me and how they can work for others.

Adobe: What are some of the challenges with having such a strong online presence?
Bloom: My time is limited, and having thousands of emails is a responsibility. I’ve also been surprised at how negative people can be online, especially when you’re just trying to help. The Internet is a great way for people to share ideas and form communities, but people can sometimes behave in ways they wouldn’t if they were sitting next to you. It’s important to remember that there is a human being at the other end.

Adobe: What advice do you have for young filmmakers?
Bloom: That’s a tough question. We live in the age of Twitter and people want advice on how to be successful in 140 characters or less. There’s no magic formula. I just tell them to work hard and be patient. I’ve worked hard to get where I am today and I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t work. Many young filmmakers are impatient and want success to come knocking at their door, but they have to go out and find it. It’s a hard search. Many will think about quitting, and some will fail. It takes time and effort to build a reputation, clients, and a body of work.

If you want to become a freelance editor it’s important to learn an editing system so well that it’s second nature to you. It should become so intuitive that you’re not thinking about the software, you’re only concentrating on the story. Stop obsessing about the software and the camera. Buy something and go tell your story.

I built a reputation in news and when I went freelance after 17 years I had to build my reputation again. I think it is easier to get your work seen these days with the internet. If you’re good enough you’ll get seen. It comes down to a lot of different things to get noticed or to create a viral video, but there’s no guarantee that a viral video will lead to a successful career. You may have a fluke and good timing, but then you have to follow it up with something new. That’s the constant conversation I have with most people on the internet.

Adobe: Is this where you thought you’d end up when you started freelancing?
Bloom: I didn’t have a grand plan when I started freelancing seven years ago. I knew I wanted to work in film, but I didn’t foresee the social media part of the equation. Social media needs to be organic and natural and genuine. You have to be you, the good and the bad. I have a dry sense of humor, which doesn’t always translate, so I’ve had to learn from that. But I’m convinced that if you try to plan it all out you won’t be successful.

Adobe: After working with Adobe Premiere Pro for a couple of years, what are your favorite features?
Bloom: I can cut half hour programs in a day and put them to air. If something needs to be cut quickly, I can do it. I switched to Premiere Pro three years ago and I’ve never looked back. The great thing about Premiere Pro is the immediacy, because it takes everything native. I was just finishing up a documentary for a client and they shot loads of footage and asked me to transcode it all. I felt like I was going back 10 years. As a freelancer, time is money and Premiere Pro CC lets me work fast and efficiently.

I also appreciate the portability of the software. I always have projects going, from features and corporate projects to reviews or my latest show reel. I edit wherever I can, on my Mac Pro or on a laptop on a plane.

Adobe: What other Adobe Creative Cloud applications are you using?
Bloom: I know Premiere Pro really well, and I know enough After Effects and Audition to get by. I’ve learned what I need to know and I’ll learn more when I need to know more.

Watch the interview with Philip Bloom

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Sep 29, 2014 at 9:35:18 am Creative Cloud, Customers

Hyper-local daily programming from London Live

First new UK television station in 13 years produces local daily programming using Adobe Creative Cloud for teams

Citing a lack of genuinely localized programming, the independent regulator of communications in the United Kingdom, Ofcom, asked media businesses what they would do with a Local Digital Television Programme Service (L-DTPS) license. The London Evening Standard and The Independent newspapers proposed London Live, a 24/7 television station dedicated solely to producing programs for London audiences. Bryn Balcombe, technology director for London Live, is the primary architect of the new station’s broadcast and production infrastructure. He chose Adobe Creative Cloud for teams for its ability to support production and distribution of standard definition television over the air and high definition television on any device.

Adobe: How was London Live chosen over other L-DTPS applicants?
Balcombe: The tender process was not a financial bid. Ofcom wanted to know how we would use the license to support local programming. We proposed producing five-and-a-half hours of news and current affairs every day, plus one to three hours of locally-produced entertainment content per day. The rest of the broadcast schedule includes historical content, retro television series about London such as London’s Burning, and acquired or commissioned shows shot or produced in London, including Place Invaders, Drag Queens of London, and Food Junkies. Ofcom believed our proposal would deliver the most value to the local community, especially because of our commitment to news and local affairs.

Food Junkies cuts straight to the core of London’s food scene. With big flavours, bigger portions & the biggest characters, it’s the ultimate guide to who’s eating what & where.

Adobe: How long did it take to launch London Live?
Balcombe: We had seven months to get everything up and running. Other than the London Evening Standard and The Independent committing their support, we had nothing in place. We had to assemble the team and put the broadcast infrastructure together from scratch. We went live on March 31st.

We chose Premiere Pro as a key resource because the multiformat timeline gives us more flexibility. We also like the open, plugin architecture and its ability to integrate with other vital newsroom technologies, such as Sienna and ChyronHego. We transcode with Adobe Media Encoder CC, build graphics with Adobe After Effects CC, and use Adobe Photoshop CC for different online and live graphics purposes.

Adobe: How are you supporting your local news operations with Adobe Creative Cloud?
Balcombe: We’re covering London and 33 surrounding boroughs, and we want to produce content at the hyper-local level. Our ten video journalists need tools that are fast, light, and mobile to cover it all and they use Premiere Pro exclusively. They gather high-definition images and video using Nikon DSLR cameras, which they can edit immediately using Premiere Pro installed on 13-inch Apple Macbooks we had designed for use in the field.

Production journalists in the studio also use Premiere Pro on desktop iMacs. With our scripting tool, AP ENPS, they can edit show openers and make changes to packages practically right up to air time. Premiere Pro is also essential for re-cutting stories. We have a three-hour morning show, for example and we evolve the content from one hour to the next.

Premiere Pro is also our failover solution. We use an automated Sienna media asset management system for news archiving and playout, and most of the journalist packages are sitting in there ready to be aired during the live broadcast. However, two of our iMacs have been set up for manual playout, so we can also play late-breaking news directly from the Premiere Pro timeline to air.

An eye-opening docusoap celebrating and showcasing the diversity and dynamism of London's drag scene with exclusive access to the best queens in town!

Adobe: What kinds of editing projects are you supporting with Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
Balcombe: For the acquired and commissioned programs, we have to make sure that they are broadcast-ready and meet regulatory compliance standards. We have three editors who use Premiere Pro to help ensure that the language in any program is appropriate for the time of day, for example. They also make sure that the shows are compatible with our Ericsson playout system. With Adobe, we can be more flexible on the formats of incoming media, edit any format on the Premiere Pro timeline, and then output with Adobe Media Encoder CC.

Another team of three editors produces all of our promotional material. There’s a lot of cutting, such as taking video snippets from upcoming programs and adding graphics we produce in After Effects. Premiere Pro lets us take source materials from different providers in different formats and put them all on one timeline to get exactly what we’re looking for.

Adobe: Where does Adobe Photoshop CC fit in?
Balcombe: We do two exports from Premiere Pro, one for broadcast and one for our web and mobile channels. We use Photoshop for a lot of our online content and for graphics. The digital team takes screenshots from video or collects images from news or wire feeds and uses Photoshop to format them for web and mobile devices. We also use Photoshop to prepare images for use in our newsroom’s live graphics system from ChyronHego.

Adobe: What do you expect the newsroom of the future to look like?
Balcombe: Our license from Ofcom allows us to broadcast in standard definition quality until it expires in 2026. We could have gone all SD, but we expect the technology to change massively between now and then. Right now SD is our broadcast, terrestrial cable, and satellite format. But we produce everything in high definition. Our field and studio cameras are all HD, so we are not limited by initial quality. Everything we distribute digitally is in HD.

One of the visions behind putting journalists in the field with laptops is to use IP-based connectivity. We use microwave Ethernet service instead of satellite trucks, and that lets us playout directly from the Premiere Pro timelines on their Macbooks. We can turn them on anywhere, whenever we need to, and it’s seamless.

Adobe: Now that London Live is on the air and on the web, what’s next?
Balcombe: We built the foundation at the minimum cost just to get it running. Now that we’re live, we are fine tuning. We are learning a lot about who’s doing what, how they’re doing it, what they need, and what will drive efficiencies. As we continue developing our vision of taking the entire station and putting it in the cloud, we are looking at other Adobe solutions, such as Adobe Anywhere for video collaboration, Adobe Primetime for live, linear, and video-on-demand programming, and Adobe Experience Manager for content management.

Watch the interview with Bryn Balcome

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Sep 28, 2014 at 8:16:01 pm Creative Cloud, Customers

Red Bull Media House gives wings to video innovation

Multi-platform media company produces premium sports, culture, and lifestyle content with help from Creative Cloud

From its start selling energy drinks, Red Bull has expanded into an international brand with streaming video through Red Bull TV, the Red Bull Records independent music label, and sponsorship of dozens of athletes, teams, and events. For the past seven years, Red Bull Media House, a subsidiary of Red Bull, has overseen all of the company’s communications and media, taking Red Bull to the next level as a full-fledged lifestyle brand. Andreas Gall, the chief technology officer at Red Bull Media House, gives wings to emotional content that connects people with the international Red Bull brand.

Adobe: How did Red Bull Media House get started?
Gall: About seven years ago, I met with the CEO of Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz, and he asked me to be part of Red Bull Media House. The idea was that we would pull together the print, video, audio, and digital projects across Red Bull and concentrate all of that fantastic creative energy in one location. I have a lot of experience in broadcast media, so I understand how to bring stories to life. From the way I see it, my job is to keep on top of technology and technological strategies to push the envelope on how we explore people, stories, and ideas.

Mark Mathews in Sydney - 2014

Adobe: What does Red Bull Media House do?
Gall: We handle all of the communications for the entire Red Bull family of companies. That includes especially coverage of Red Bull's events, from sports to music and more. We’re much more than just TV commercials and magazine ads. We produce exciting short and feature-length films, engaging video magazines, and even deliver live coverage of international events through Red Bull TV. If you look at the Red Bull Content Pool, we have a massive online archive of more than 120,000 assets produced by Red Bull Media House—and we’re adding new content every day.

Much of our content covers high-action sports, which has been the core of the Red Bull DNA for years. We’re always looking for new ways to find really emotional content and bring our audiences closer to the athletes’ experiences.

Red Bull BMX Hero Tour 2014 UK

Adobe: Why did you make the switch to Adobe Creative Cloud?
Gall: If there’s anything we know at Red Bull, it’s the importance of pushing the limits. We have a lot of great ideas that we’d love to see—like enhanced visualizations and biometrics—that don’t have a solid technological answer yet. That’s why it was much less important for us to find a system that worked for where we are now, and more important to find a motivated partner who was willing to work with us to change the media world.

I really like how open Adobe is to exploring with us. Adobe comes from a very creative background, so the product development teams are very interested in ideas and concepts that will lead to new creative expressions. We’ve had meetings with Adobe about working with Premiere Pro and XMP, and we’re starting to paint a picture of how we want to evolve together.

Red Bull Battle of the Sund 2014 Sweden

Adobe: What Adobe applications are you using?
Gall: We’ve had people working with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe After Effects for years, but the biggest change has been our switch to Adobe Premiere Pro CC. It’s going to be central to the architecture that we’re planning with fast edits and fast production. Once we’re fully switched over, we’ll standardize on Adobe Prelude CC to streamline production even further. With everything going through Prelude, we’ll reduce ingest and make edits considerably faster.

We’re starting to dive into the rest of the applications available in Creative Cloud as well. There’s been a lot of interest in Adobe Story CC and Adobe Anywhere to encourage creative collaboration around the globe.

Adobe: What is the future for Red Bull Media House?
Gall: We’ve got some ideas for how we want to move forward. For example, we think it would be fantastic if we could really connect athletes with fans by giving athletes the ability to create and upload their own media. This is just one of many ideas we’re exploring, and Adobe is with us every step of the way.

Watch the interview with Andreas (Andi) Gall

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Sep 18, 2014 at 2:38:39 pm Creative Cloud, Customers

Creating daily dramas for German TV

Production company standardizes on an Adobe Creative Cloud workflow to efficiently deliver up to 28 TV episodes per week

For more than 20 years, UFA SERIAL DRAMA has produced some of the most popular serial dramas in Germany. Classic shows such as Good Times, Bad Times (Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten) and Among Us (Unter Uns) have been on the air for more than 4,000 episodes each. UFA SERIAL DRAMA currently runs five daily shows and can produce up to 28 episodes in a week; for this team efficiency is key. Post-production supervisor Marc Schwellenbach works with the post-production teams to continually refine and optimize the standard workflows to be as quick and smart as possible.

Adobe: Tell us about the shows you produce through UFA SERIAL DRAMA.
Schwellenbach: We produce five unique daily serial dramas, which translates to 800 minutes of material every week. Four of our shows run in Germany. In fact, the first series that we produced back in 1992, Good Times, Bad Times (Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten), was the first daily serial drama made for German television. It’s still on the air; we passed the 5,000 episode mark a few years ago. Even our “newest” series has been around for eight years and nearly 2,000 episodes. Our fifth show is actually a serial drama made for Hungarian audiences. It’s been running for 16 seasons, and it’s one of the top-rated shows in Hungary.

Adobe: Why are production workflows so important to you?
Schwellenbach: We work on five shows that run five days a week with almost no breaks. To get all of the shows ready for air, we may produce up to 28 episodes a week. We need a rock-solid workflow to keep up the pace without compromising quality.

We have one big advantage on our side: experience. We’ve learned over the years to take the time to think through our workflows and look for ways to improve them. We take it a step further at UFA SERIAL DRAMA by standardizing about 90% of our workflow across productions. If one team comes up with a new process that helps them work faster and better, we can easily apply their innovations to other teams.

Adobe: How has your software changed over the years?
Schwellenbach: Several years ago, we switched from Avid to Final Cut Pro with the intention of becoming more flexible and speeding up workflows in post production. We worked with the Final Cut Pro workflow for a few years, but we felt that we still needed to move our editing process to the next level. By better integrating editing into the rest of the post-production workflow, we would improve turnaround speed for dailies and increase our overall speed and efficiency.

We recently started looking into Adobe Premiere Pro, and that’s when we realized the advantages that we could achieve using the integration between Adobe creative applications. With Adobe Creative Cloud, our workflow has not only gotten faster, but also tighter. We’re tying everything together into one smooth Adobe framework, which helps us get much more power and flexibility out of our daily workflows.

Adobe: How important is the integration of Adobe tools to your workflows?
Schwellenbach: We had used Adobe After Effects and Adobe Photoshop before, but we had never considered how everything could work together in a bigger way. The integration among Creative Cloud applications not only changes how we work, but it encourages us to think about how all of the steps fit together to create the big picture.

Previously, our post-production artists would use After Effects to composite green screen shots and hand the finished shots over to the editors. The Dynamic Link between After Effects and Premiere Pro simplifies things so much. Even our editors who are not visual effects artists use After Effects to create their own graphics, or use templates we’ve created for graphical inserts, such as cell phone displays. They can then easily bring these effects into their Premiere Pro workflows. Edits and adjustments are practically seamless, as we no longer need to wait to export and import clips. We can be much more flexible while maintaining consistent information on the shots.

We also appreciate how Adobe software invites collaboration. We see lots of great third-party integrations, and with Adobe XMP and panel integration, we can even see ourselves leveraging metadata to develop our own integrations as we need them. The Adobe framework opens up whole new ways for us to speed up and simplify the workflow.

Adobe: What steps did you take to transition to Adobe Premiere Pro?
Schwellenbach: The key to a smooth transition is planning and communication. When you’re changing a key component of your workflow, you have to make sure that you think through everything beforehand. We didn’t want to even start the move until we were sure that our editors would be able to work faster right away. We talked with editors about the changes that they wanted to see and used their input to design the new workflow. Giving them ownership of the transition helped to assure them amidst the changes.

Trainers worked with our editors to help them feel comfortable with the new software and features. The entire transition felt very collaborative with Adobe, with everyone coming together for a common goal. As a result, our transition has been very smooth. Two teams have completely switched over to Premiere Pro with more still in the final training phases. Our editors are very pleased with the ease and functionality of Premiere Pro. Other departments have also successfully made the move to Creative Cloud.

Adobe: Are there any other applications in Creative Cloud that you’re excited about?
Schwellenbach: Adobe Story CC Plus looks very interesting and has definitely caught the eye of our head writer. We’re currently syncing Word documents with our scheduling system, but Story will help us leverage metadata in the scripts so that we can see exactly what we need in post production.

Adobe Prelude CC is another piece that’s bound to be very useful. We’re always talking about logging on set, and Prelude and Live Logger will provide us a way to log information on set and preserve that metadata in Prelude for the post-production process. We’re already using a digital movie slate integrated into an iPad app, so I could see us using Prelude Live Logger right away.

Adobe: What is the future for UFA SERIAL DRAMA?
Schwellenbach: We started using Adobe Creative Cloud for teams, but we’re switching to Creative Cloud for enterprise as our business continues to grow and use of the software expands. We’re also talking to other businesses in the UFA family. We’ve developed powerful workflows for our fast-paced production and along the way we’ve learned a lot about working with Adobe software. We look forward to sharing our knowledge and best practices with other UFA productions.

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud apps

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Aug 21, 2014 at 11:21:11 am Creative Cloud, Customers

From under the sea to outer space

Award-winning host of underwater documentary series tackles the world’s first live-action planetarium film using Creative Cloud

Cinematographer Jonathan Bird is one of the lucky ones. He’s successfully combined his love for scuba diving and photography into an award-winning career. After more than a decade of delivering underwater photography and video to National Geographic and Discovery Channel, Bird started his own series that combines humor with science in a highly educational, family-friendly format. Jonathan Bird’s Blue World, now airing on PBS, won the CINE Golden Eagle Award, a total of eight New England Emmy Awards, and has been nominated for two National Daytime Emmy Awards. For his next project, Bird is connecting the sea and space with an innovative film made for planetarium theaters.

Adobe: Tell us why you decided to create Jonathan Bird’s Blue World.
Bird: I had been working both as a cinematographer and producer for years, but I still dreamed about working on a show that entertained audiences of all ages without talking down to them or losing the educational slant. No one else was making the show that I wanted to see, so I finally just decided to do it myself! It wasn’t until we got an audience on YouTube that people started paying attention to our show and we made the jump to TV. We just finished the fourth season on PBS.

Bird photographing Lemon sharks in the Bahamas, photo by Mark Tarczynski

Adobe: What are some of the challenges of shooting underwater?
Bird: Even in the clearest water, you need to be very close to the subject to get an image with any kind of contrast or sharpness. We try to shoot everything from less than five feet away with wide angle lenses. When trying to film wildlife, of course, that means that we have to figure out how to get close to our subjects without frightening them away.

Color is also a big issue. Blue light has a short wavelength, which makes it the only color that penetrates water well. The deeper you go, the bluer your image becomes. In shallow water we can use filters and white balance to help bring out the colors, but at greater depths the only way to add color is to use powerful lights to illuminate everything. We can’t just add colors or clarity in post, so we have to use the right camera and techniques to get it right while we’re filming.

Bird filming on the reefs of Bonaire with Atlantis LED video lights

Adobe: What is the production schedule and format of Blue World?
Bird: The show is massively low budget, but we take the time to make it good. It takes about 18 months to shoot a season. Last season we produced 11 half-hour shows. The season before that contained 9 shows. It is a magazine-style program, so it isn’t all one story. We typically put between two and three different stories together, and they can be completely unrelated. This format also makes it easy for us to package content online into webisodes.

Adobe: What can you tell us about your upcoming film project?
Bird: Space School is going to be something completely different: the world’s first live-action planetarium film. Planetariums are traditionally about space, so I proposed a film that takes people into the world where space travel and underwater experiences meet: astronaut training. Astronauts train underwater in the Johnson Space Center Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory to simulate weightless conditions, and later they spend time in Aquarius, an underwater research laboratory in the Keys, to get used to living and working in cramped, isolated conditions.

NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston where Bird shot for the first time with his new Gates Z100 housing equipped with a Fathom SWP44C wide angle lens and Ikelite Vega video lights

Adobe: What opportunities do planetariums represent for filmmakers?
Bird: When most people think about planetariums, they tend to think about a Zeiss machine that just shines bright lights to represent the stars. But planetariums have moved way beyond that. They have banks of computers calculating huge data sets of imagery that can fly you around the solar system. With their full, domed screens, planetarium theaters offer a completely immersive environment that will work incredibly well with the underwater footage.

Astronauts Thomas Pesquet (ESA) and Mark Vande Hei (NASA) setting up a drill designed to take core samples on an asteroid

Adobe: Why didn’t you just create a film for the IMAX DOME theaters?
Bird: There are 500 planetariums across the United States, compared with only about 40 IMAX DOME theaters. Almost nobody is making content for IMAX DOME theaters anymore because it is too expensive to make a 70mm IMAX film for only 40 screens, and it takes too long to make your money back. So IMAX has gone completely to flat-screen style 3D projections, which are absolutely amazing in their own right.

The reason why there aren’t more live-action films for planetariums is simply because they’re incredibly advanced. The planetarium market is all about realism, with content shot at 60 fps, which is unconventional for traditional movies. The displays are also extremely high resolution at 4,000 pixels square. You’d need an 8K resolution camera to perfectly fill the screen—and no commercial manufacturer makes 8K cameras! That’s why most of the films shown on planetariums so far have involved CG animation.

Filming NASA's NEEMO 18 mission at Aquarius Reef Base in Key Largo, Florida on the RED Dragon 6K

Adobe: How did you approach making Space School given these requirements?
Bird: When we started, RED had just come out with its 6K DRAGON camera, so we could come close to true planetarium resolution. Once we had the camera, though, we had another problem: we needed a system that could handle editing our footage. At 6K resolution and 60 fps, we were looking at an extraordinary amount of data—about 8 GB per minute—in RAW format. We did a lot of research into the subject, and we finally figured out that the only setup around that could handle the load was Adobe Premiere Pro CC running on the fastest HP Z Workstation available.

Adobe: What is special about Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
Bird: Adobe Premiere Pro CC has the best playback engine of any non-linear editor on the market, even for video that is notoriously difficult to play back in real time. Premiere Pro doesn’t care where video comes from; it just plays it, no transcoding required. Being able to cut out the transcoding process is a huge time saver. And Adobe makes the transition from Final Cut Pro so easy (for those of us that have been using FCP for years). I was up editing on Premiere Pro in a couple of hours.

Bird editing underwater footage on his HP Z workstation using Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Adobe: How was the switch from a Mac to a PC?
Bird: I’ve always loved working with Macs. But when we decided to move away from Final Cut Pro, we realized that we didn’t have to stick with Macs anymore. We decided to switch to the fastest computer we could find, which turned out to be the HP Z Workstation. We did a rendering test to compare the speeds, and an Adobe After Effects project that took 12 hours to render on the Mac took two hours on the HP system.

There are probably lots of people in the same boat as me—people who want the power of a PC but are uncomfortable with Windows. Creative Cloud is great because the software is exactly the same across platforms. I can even move files between the Mac and Windows environments without any problems. I also like how all of the software we use, like Premiere Pro, Photoshop, Encore, and After Effects, share similar interfaces and operations. It makes it easy to pick up new software.

Adobe: What’s next for you?
Bird: We started shooting with NASA in May and we’ll be delivering it to theaters in January. We’re also continuing with Jonathan Bird’s Blue World, and our YouTube audience continues to grow. We recently launched Shark Academy on YouTube, which features two to three minute shark videos that kids really like. Another focus for us is to put out highlights from some of our videos that are more shareable. Overall, we want to continue telling great stories for audiences of all ages.

Read more about Jonathan and his work here

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Aug 13, 2014 at 5:05:33 pm Creative Cloud, Customers

Capturing the pulse of the capital

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Jul 17, 2014 at 10:54:25 am Creative Cloud, Customers

Top-flight videos fuel the JetBlue brand

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jonathan Weitz

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

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

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

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

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

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

Filming Mint(roducing)

To date, we’ve created a video for

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

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

Filming Dell project

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

Template folder structure - open

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

Adobe After Effects template - lower third

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

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

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

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

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

See more JetBlue videos on YouTube

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @weitzjonathan

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Jul 15, 2014 at 11:53:27 am Creative Cloud, Customers

Capturing the essence of Brazil through motion graphics and art

Filmmaker embarks on journey documenting creativity around the world

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

View some of Graham Elliott’s World in Motion footage from Brazil

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud
Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Jun 26, 2014 at 11:00:07 am Creative Cloud, Customers

Soldier and storyteller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See more of Robert Ham’s work on YouTube

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Jun 16, 2014 at 1:03:14 pm Adobe Creative Cloud, Customers

Fueling creativity at Coyote Post

Post-production studio stays nimble with Adobe Creative Cloud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final comp of Wasteland for the Oscar Mayer spot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud
Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on May 29, 2014 at 12:01:47 pm Creative Cloud, Customers

Filmmaking dreams realized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch the trailer

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on May 27, 2014 at 9:51:52 amComments (1) Creative Cloud, Customers

The Black Diamond run for filmmakers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch the Ticket to Ride trailer

Learn more about the video apps and services in Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Apr 24, 2014 at 10:02:13 am Creative Cloud, Customers

Working hard in corporate video—and loving it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visit the Phanta Media website

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Apr 23, 2014 at 9:41:50 am Creative Cloud, Customers

Creating a visual experience for Fatboy Slim at Coachella

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

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

Setting the stage for “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues”

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.

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Apr 15, 2014 at 10:26:25 pm Creative Cloud, Customers

Producing content for the largest sports show on earth is no small task

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, the dedicated host broadcaster for one of the largest sporting events in the world, has contracted EVS and Moovit. EVS will provide for the central Media Asset Exchange Server 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 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, HBS, 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.

Read the Sports Video Group Europe article

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Apr 9, 2014 at 9:43:49 am Creative Cloud, Customers

Recreating reality with visual effects

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.

See the best of CHE

Learn more about the video apps and services in Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Apr 3, 2014 at 1:25:31 pm Creative Cloud, Customers

Expert filmmaker builds online community

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.

Ryan Connolly will be participating in Adobe’s Post Production World Keynote Breaking the Rules: The Next-Gen Content Creator on Sunday, April 6th from 10:30 am - 11:30 am.

Learn more about the video apps and services in Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Apr 1, 2014 at 9:13:45 pm Creative Cloud, Customers

Interactive video invention

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.

Watch the making of video

Watch the interactive music video

Follow Powster on Twitter

Learn more about the video apps and services in Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Mar 27, 2014 at 2:01:12 pm Creative Cloud, Customers

Devin Super Tramp achieves extreme YouTube success

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.

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud
Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Mar 25, 2014 at 11:46:23 am Creative Cloud, Customers

Filmmaker follows up Sundance debut with showing at SXSW 2014

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).

See an example of Scott’s manuscript redactions:

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.

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Mar 9, 2014 at 6:13:58 pm Creative Cloud, Customers

Second film by Joel Potrykus premieres at SXSW 2014

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 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.

Watch the trailer

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Mar 6, 2014 at 11:38:08 am Creative Cloud, Customers

Documentary on dam removal enjoys SXSW 2014 premiere

Adobe Premiere Pro workflow enables filmmakers to edit 90 minute film in REDCODE raw

Directors Travis Rummel and Ben Knight have been making films together for 10 years. After starting out as still photographers with no real working knowledge of how to make films, they were inspired to try theirs hands at filmmaking by the Telluride Mountainfilm Festival. Their first short film about fly fishing and water rights focused on the Black Canyon of Colorado’s Gunnison River and was accepted into the festival. Since then, the duo has made several films together, the most recent of which is set to premiere at SXSW 2014. Edited with an all Adobe workflow, DamNation is a documentary about dam removal in the United States.

Ben Knight films the former Elwha Dam before its removal. Elwha River, Washington in a scene from DamNation. Photo: Travis Rummel

Adobe: How did you decide to become filmmakers?
Rummel: After The Hatch made it into the Telluride Mountainfilm Festival things just grew organically from there. We never really decided one day that we were going to be filmmakers and make a business of it. We didn’t have any formal education in film and we continue to learn as we go. It’s a partnership and we do everything ourselves, except for motion graphics. We’ve made several short films and one longer film called Red Gold about a proposed gold and copper mine in Bristol Bay.

Adobe: Tell us about the experience with DamNation.
Knight: Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard and underwater photographer Matt Stoecker saw our film Eastern Rises at The Wild and Scenic Film Festival and thought we might be the right filmmakers to bring their idea to life. They wanted to make a film about dam removal in the United States and the movement going on behind it. When they first contacted us we were horrified because it seemed like such a difficult, broad, complex, and controversial subject. It took us a while to warm up to the idea before we agreed to take on the project. We were right. It was hard as hell and took twice as long as we thought—but it’s not really about any of that; it’s about protecting rivers and we’re insanely proud of what we came up with. We’re really blown away that we found a way to make a film about dam removal interesting to watch.

DamNation producer and underwater photographer Matt Stoecker emerges from the icy tail waters below the former Elwha Dam in a scene from DamNation. Photo: Ben Knight

Adobe: What was the process?
Rummel: After we agreed to take the project on we thought, “Now what?” There are 85,000 dams in the United States. We knew there were a few dam removals about to begin so we decided to focus on these actual removals in process. To tell the story beyond the removals underway was challenging. We borrowed a fancy van and spent two-and-a-half months driving up and down the west coast visiting dams, meeting people, wrapping our heads around the issue, and giving a framework to how we would tell story. We did one pass in the van to figure it out and then another pass to film. We spent time on the entire West Coast as well as Alaska, British Columbia, Maine, and reaches of the Colorado River to round the story out geographically. There are a lot of dams out there; they are something people take in as part of the landscape and don’t really question. But they do have finite lifespans and a finite amount of utility. Many dams have brought and continue to bring a lot of good to the American people, but there are also a lot of them that have been abandoned and are wreaking havoc on our ecosystems.
Knight: The film isn't trying to say take out every dam or free every river. We want people to notice dams that are doing more harm than good and might better serve the watersheds if they are gone.

Extremely cold water trickles out of the Glen Canyon Dam into what's left of Glen Canyon, forming an unnatural stretch of trout water on the Arizona/Utah border in a scene from DamNation. Photo: Ben Knight

Adobe: What did you use to shoot the film?
Rummel: We bought a RED One and a RED Epic and shot the whole film with those two cameras. We switched to Premiere Pro because it supports REDCODE raw. Everyone told us we were crazy to do a long form documentary with 10 to 11 terabytes of raw footage and keep it in a raw workflow but we did it anyway. We intentionally shot with all prime lenses and no zooms, focusing on basic cinematography and strong composition. Because we had so much resolution Ben was able to do some super beautiful zoom in and zoom out moves within Premiere Pro.
Knight: I still haven't met anyone who has edited a film in raw, especially a feature film. When we tell other people in the industry that we edited in raw they just shake their heads. But we were told that’s what Premiere Pro is built for and we should trust it and sure enough it came through for us. It was incredible working with raw files throughout the process and starting the color correction along the way. More than half of the footage is 5K edited on a 1080 timeline so we could zoom in as far as we wanted or pan across a landscape. I'm surprised that more people don’t want to edit in raw.
Premiere Pro is integrated so incredibly well with REDCINE-X PRO software. I just went back and forth all the time between those two to color correct and get everything looking gorgeous. Everything was instant, seamless, and beautiful. I’m not one of those people who edits a film and has it look like crap and then fixes it later. It has to look perfect while I’m editing or else it drives me crazy.
Rummel: With Ben, it has to be perfect, there’s no rough cut. There’s a fine cut and then a final cut.

A barge-mounted excavator hammers away at Glines Canyon Dam, the largest dam removal in U.S. history. Elwha River, Olympic National Park, Washington in a scene from DamNation. Photo: Ben Knight

Adobe: Tell us more about your editing experience and using Premiere Pro.
Knight: I’m not a huge technical nerd so I just used Premiere Pro to cut and color the film. I was intimidated when it came to switching from Final Cut Pro but Premiere Pro was just so intuitive it blew me away. It only took me a couple of weeks at the most to get really comfortable with it.
Rummel: Having to go through and transcode 11 terabytes of raw footage into ProRes would have defeated the whole purpose of shooting in raw. We were able to natively bring in raw footage and color it without switching in and out of different programs. Given our experience with Premiere Pro we wouldn’t switch back.
Knight: The amount of data and how well Premiere Pro managed it blows my mind. We worked with as many as 12,000 clips on the Premiere Pro timeline and it was nearly flawless.

Prevented from migrating any further upstream, a spawning pair of pink salmon flirt over a gravel bed a stone’s throw from the now removed Elwha Dam powerhouse in a scene from DamNation. Photo: Matt Stoecker

Adobe: Were there any standout features in Premiere Pro?
Knight: Titling is a whole new lovely world that made my life so much easier. With Final Cut Pro, I was always fighting the program to do simple things but Premiere Pro did exactly what I wanted it to do with ease. Another feature that I used almost every day that was extremely helpful was Interpret Footage, which allowed me to change the frame rate of footage with just a click of the mouse. It saved me an incredible amount of time.
Rummel: We also mixed a ton of camera formats—SD, HD, GoPro, film transfers, 5D Mark II, and 5D Mark III. Having tons of resolutions and formats that worked seamlessly on the timeline was a welcome surprise for us.

Adobe: Did you incorporate different types of content in the film?
Knight: We spent four months researching the history of dams in the United States and we have a whole Ken Burns-type history section in the film. We tapped into the Library of Congress and the National Archives for some incredible images. In addition to hundreds of black-and-white photos, there’s also some old 8mm and 16mm footage in the film that we got from other library archives. We just did some simple moves on the images in Premiere Pro because they’re so beautiful they didn't need fancy edits.
Rummel: Another partner we've worked with for years is Barry Thompson. We call him our motion graphics wizard and he used After Effects to do all of the incredible transitions in the history section of the film. There is a moving timeline that covers almost 200 years of the history of dams in the United States. He also gave a beautiful treatment to some GIS maps that take you around the country as the film switches between different locations.

Ben Knight films inside the nearly century old Elwha Dam powerhouse before its deconstruction in a scene from DamNation. Photo: Travis Rummel

Adobe: Are you using Creative Cloud?
Knight: We started the film three years ago before Adobe introduced Creative Cloud. I was afraid to upgrade to Creative Cloud during the project, but I eventually did and was so happy. We were having some minor issues before switching to Creative Cloud and switching actually solved those problems.

Adobe: Are you using any other applications in Creative Cloud?
Knight: I've been having an internal battle because before the film’s premiere I wanted to download SpeedGrade and put the whole film through it but it was too late. I was a little sad about it. It would have been so perfect to put the 90-minute film in SpeedGrade and stylize the look a bit. I've been watching all of the tutorial videos and it looks impressively seamless. SpeedGrade is definitely in my future.

Adobe: How did it feel when DamNation was accepted into SXSW?
Knight: SXSW doesn’t feel real at all; it probably won’t feel real until we’re standing in line for the film. Once we get to Austin and the DCP plays and everything works, we can relax. Neither of us ever dreamed this big. For us, playing at film festival’s like Mountainfilm or Banff seemed like the pinnacle at the time.
Rummel: It’s the next level on all fronts for us. We've been fortunate to win some awards in the adventure film world but we always wanted to see if we could compete with mainstream films. To take an environmental film and show at SXSW is incredible. It elevates our careers and brings the issue to a wider audience, which was always the hope when we took on the project.

Fire in the hole! Eight hundred pounds of explosives blast a hole through the base of Condit Dam, the beginning of the process to free Washington’s White Salmon River in a scene from DamNation. Photo: DamNation Collection

Adobe: Is Patagonia happy with the film?
Knight: We knew we had to do some crazy stuff in order to get the film noticed. We went to great lengths to give the film some energy and inspire people to get involved in dam removal. When Yvon and Matt saw it the Patagonia marketing engine cranked on. Everyone involved is excited to be a part of it.
Rummel: Having Patagonia’s full marketing efforts behind the film is amazing. We make films but we don’t know anything about marketing and distribution. With Patagonia’s help we’ll be launching at SXSW and then embarking on a nine city national tour. A theater in Portland, Oregon also wants to do a week-long run. It feels like there is incredible energy so it will be fun to unleash it at SXSW and see where it all take us.

Watch the trailer

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Mar 5, 2014 at 11:38:05 am Creative Cloud, Customers

“The Immortalists” selected for Documentary Feature Competition at SXSW 2014

Independent filmmakers create character-driven documentary about the pursuit of eternal youth

Co-directors Jason Sussberg and David Alvarado met in Stanford University's Documentary Film and Video program. They worked on a few projects together and soon realized that they shared an interest in science and technology. After graduating with MFA degrees, they came together to make the documentary film The Immortalists about two scientists working to discover a cure for aging. Initially edited with Final Cut Pro, the team switched to Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Premiere Pro CC mid-production.

Adobe: Did you always know you wanted to be filmmakers?
Sussberg: I started making films when I was very young. In middle school I would create silly home videos with a group of friends. A lot of us are actually filmmakers today, including Patrick Brice whose film Creep is premiering the same day and in the same theater at SXSW as The Immortalists.
Alvarado: My path wasn't as straightforward. A lack of direction led me to drop out of high school, but eventually I found that I was influenced by the fiction films that I saw. I enrolled in community college and then attended a four-year university before I was accepted to the Stanford program. Film saved the day for me and gave me a passion to pursue.

Adobe: When did you become interested in science?
Alvarado: I wanted to focus on documentary filmmaking and science touches on everything that’s interesting to me, from love to psychology to the environment. If you can make strong narratives around science then other people can more easily connect with your topic. It’s not just about making Nova science films; it's about making character-driven, beautiful portraits about the people and subjects of science.

Adobe: How did you choose the topic of your film?
Sussberg: We started out trying to make a larger film about life-extension science, what it would mean to be immortal, and the philosophy of living a very, very long time. The two main characters of the film, Aubrey De Grey, PhD and Bill Andrews, PhD, didn't come into our lives until just before we started producing the movie in December of 2011. Aubrey is a biomedical gerontologist and Bill is a molecular biologist and they are the top guys in the world trying to stop the aging process.
Alvarado: It's such a complicated idea and I think that's what drew us to it. Death is a topic that we all have to discuss eventually. With all of the baby boomers starting to retire, longevity is already at the precipice of being a huge crisis. It's interesting to explore what these scientists are doing and what the consequences or benefits could be if they are successful.
Sussberg: Bill and Aubrey make the case, pretty convincingly, that other things have come along that seem impossible—such as traveling to the moon or flying an airplane—until they aren't. They believe that the inevitability of death is just another engineering challenge to be conquered.

Adobe: Tell us about your filmmaking process.
Alvarado: The film is based on the premise that biotechnology is growing stronger and stronger and eventually, if our medical technology advances enough, it may be possible to stop or reverse the aging process. The film was going to explore the topic to see if immortality is realistic or desirable. We realized that we could touch all of the topics we wanted but make it a more interesting narrative by following two particular scientists and exploring their motivations, what they think will happen, and why they don't think it will be a disaster. Finding that story took us everywhere, from Tanzania, India, and England to China and all over the United States. It was a long journey and by the time we brought it to the editing table it was about making the journey translate into something people could be actively engaged with for 80 minutes.
Sussberg: Once we settled on making a portrait of the two scientists we hit the ground running. We shot from December 2011 to December 2012. When we finished, we had a rough cut that was an ugly duckling, but we knew something was there. We continued to shoot and tease out the story until the spring of 2013, then went into finishing and post production, which took us through the summer. This type of project doesn't have a defined end, but it seemed like we were relatively locked by the fall of 2013 so we started applying to festivals.

Adobe: When did you finish the film?
Alvarado: We were actually finishing filming as recently as February 2014. Someone dies and we felt it was something that we needed to include in the film. These scientists are trying to live forever, but they are also having to deal with the death of people close to them. When we film them coping with death the audience gets to make up their own minds about the main characters' relationship with death and why they are doing what they do.

Adobe: When did Premiere Pro CC officially become the main editing platform for The Immortalists?
Alvarado: Two-thirds of the way through The Immortalists we decided to do a couple of short films to test the Premiere Pro workflow and it was great. We could easily drop After Effects files onto the timeline and it supported a variety of video formats. That's when we decided to float everything over to Premiere Pro for all of the final touches and exports.
Sussberg: Because we started the project in Final Cut Pro it would have been reckless to just switch over in the middle. We did cut the trailers and promo materials in Premiere Pro and did all of the finishing editing.
Alvarado: Basically, the last six months of a year-and-a-half long edit was done in Premiere Pro.

Adobe: Had you ever used Premiere Pro for editing before this project?
Sussberg: Premiere Pro has come into my life three times. It is the first editing software I ever touched in high school. I used Final Cut Pro in college but switched back to Premiere Pro when I worked as a broadcast producer/editor at the San Francisco Giants. In graduate school we used Final Cut Pro, but I was happy to switch back to Premiere Pro again recently. The integration with Adobe After Effects and Photoshop is so great. I love being able to design something in After Effects and bring it into Premiere Pro without rendering.
Alvarado: I've worked with Premiere Pro, Avid, and Final Cut Pro for editing. When everyone started switching from Final Cut Pro, I decided to switch back to Premiere Pro because it offers me robust editing capabilities, as well as integration with Photoshop and After Effects.

Adobe: Are there any features in Premiere Pro that would have benefited you during editing?
Alvarado: We shot on a variety of formats—Canon C100, 5D Mark II, and 7D Mark II, as well as a Panasonic AF100 and a 3D camera. We had to spend a lot of time and hard drive space converting everything to one particular file format. If we'd been using Premiere Pro we could have easily brought in all of the different formats and they would have worked on the timeline. That's what we've been finding with our other short projects. Premiere Pro saves hard drive space and easily works with multiple formats.

Adobe: Have you made any other discoveries since you began using Creative Cloud?
Sussberg: Dynamic Link between Premiere Pro and After Effects is something that’s taken for granted. With Final Cut Pro we were constantly exporting and importing sequences in After Effects. The ability to move between the two programs and import things without transcoding makes the workflow so incredibly easy. Overall, I think it's best when the technology dissolves into the background and you're just dealing with the story. Premiere Pro is an editing program that is intuitive and doesn't make its presence known, which is what I want.
Alvarado: One huge and wonderful thing we've found is Adobe Media Encoder. Every type of output we could want is there and we can build a queue with multiple export formats.

Adobe: Do you think the Creative Cloud model is beneficial for creatives?
Alvarado: Adobe Creative Cloud is the first software I've wanted to purchase in the last several years. People are willing to pay for a good product, and in an age of piracy we're happy to pay for Creative Cloud.
Sussberg: Software is egregiously priced and it's prohibitively expensive, especially for students. I teach at Diablo Valley College and it's just heartbreaking to tell students that they need to spend thousands of dollars just to get what they need to be students. Adobe Creative Cloud is at a price point that students can afford. For a 10 to 12 week class at $20 a month, it is less than a textbook. As an independent documentary filmmaker I feel perfectly fine spending money for a monthly membership to Creative Cloud. The price point is low enough that it no longer leaves a bad taste in our mouths as independent producers.

Adobe: What are the next steps for the film?
Alvarado: We want to go to Sheffield Doc/Fest, and a few other A-list festivals have reached out to us for submissions. We're also working with The Film Collaborative in Los Angeles, which helps place films in festivals. Ultimately we hope to make a big domestic sale and we already have interest from three large domestic broadcasters.
Sussberg: Even if we do sell The Immortalists, we're committed to independent film. Our next project will be independent and we'll still use the same tools because they help us do what we do efficiently and affordably.

Watch the trailer

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Mar 4, 2014 at 11:31:14 am Creative Cloud, Customers

SXSW 2014 marks North American premiere of “Evaporating Borders”

Documentary edited in Adobe Premiere Pro CC presents visual essay on immigration and identity

Named one of 25 New Faces of Independent Film of 2013 by Filmmaker Magazine, Iva Radivojevic is set to premiere her first documentary feature at SXSW 2014. Radivojevic was born in Yugoslavia and moved to Cyprus with her family to escape the war. When she was 18, she came to the United States and has resided in New York City for the past 15 years. She returned to Cyprus to film her first feature-length film, Evaporating Borders, a five-part visual essay/feature film that explores the topics of migration, tolerance, identity, and belonging. The film first premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in January and is now poised to impress at SXSW in the "Visions" category.

Adobe: How did you get into filmmaking?
Radivojevic: I always wanted to be an artist and my background is in painting and illustration. Film didn't come to me until about seven years ago. From illustration I moved into 3D animation and worked with Adobe After Effects. I really liked storytelling so I started taking photos. After a while I realized that telling singular stories through photos wasn't fully communicating what I was seeing and experiencing in life. I started traveling and exchanging stories with people and gradually moved into filmmaking. Today I edit for a living and also teach editing. For me it's like building a puzzle or sculpting and I really like that creative aspect of it. It's the best way I know how to communicate.

Adobe: Have you always used Adobe software?
Radivojevic: I have experience with After Effects and used Adobe Premiere Pro in the early days. After working with Final Cut Pro for a while, I recently switched back to Premiere Pro after attending The Editors' Retreat; I was really impressed to see how far the software had come since I'd last used it. It was an easy transition for me, and I've really enjoyed digging into the software. I now have an Adobe Creative Cloud membership and Evaporating Borders was edited on Premiere Pro CC. It's the first film project I've done on Premiere Pro, although I've done other commercial work with the software.

Adobe: Tell us more about the film.
Radivojevic: The film is based in Cyprus, and is divided into five parts. It follows the lives of political migrants and asylum seekers and shows the challenges they face. Human migration is one of the biggest issues in current times. There is a huge surge of migrants coming into the European Union looking for a better life. With migration come the problems of xenophobia, racism, and intolerance. The film explores how we look at the world based on our past, our assumptions and prejudices, and how we can disconnect from ingrained, fixed identities and embrace a different reality. It is filmed in Cyprus, but it deals with larger global issues. The title, Evaporating Borders, references not just literal, physical borders but also mental, imagined borders we put up against threats to our identity. Being an immigrant myself I understand what it means to constantly search for identity and try to find a place to belong.

Adobe: Do you use any of the other creative tools in Adobe Creative Cloud?
Radivojevic: I primarily use Premiere Pro and After Effects, but I've been dying to get into Adobe Audition so I can learn how to do more with audio. I've found that once you really learn the ins and outs of software it becomes even more enjoyable to use.

Of course, Illustrator is one of my favorite pieces of software. I live with Photoshop and Illustrator and use them for everything from web design projects to printed posters.

Adobe: What are your favorite features in Premiere Pro CC?
Radivojevic: During the process of making this film I used two different machines and syncing my settings over Creative Cloud was a huge plus. I shot the film with a 5D Mark II and edited native H.264 footage without transcoding. Premiere Pro handled the native footage really well without staggering. Once we got to a final cut and had to up-res the footage the media management in Premiere Pro made it super easy. I loved being able to import or export specific sequences of the project and finally reduce the project to include only the footage used in the film. Relinking the new media was a breeze using the Link & Locate feature in Premiere Pro. I also love how customizable everything is in Premiere Pro.

Adobe: Did you use After Effects on the film?
Radivojevic: I started using Warp Stabilizer in After Effects, but then I found the same feature in Premiere Pro. Almost half of the film is image stabilized and I can't tell you what a huge difference it makes. Warp Stabilizer in Premiere Pro is so amazing; you can't even tell that it is stabilized and it made the film look so much better.

Adobe: Do you think the perception of image stabilization in documentary films is changing?
Radivojevic: The regular shaky camera look that we allow in documentary films doesn't have to be there. While shooting I didn't think about correcting it later, but Warp Stabilizer in Premiere Pro works so well and makes everything look so smooth.

Adobe: How did you get connected to Executive Producer Laura Poitras?
Radivojevic: She came to do a talk at the school where I finished my MFA a couple of years ago. She saw my work and acted as a creative consultant on one of my projects. We kept in touch and when I told her about this new project she offered to be the executive producer. She's consulted on the film, connected us with different people, and helped with the festival strategy. She's truly an inspiration and it's good to have people who support you, support your work, and are rooting for you.

Adobe: What are the next steps for the film?
Radivojevic: After SXSW we’re going to Human Rights Watch London. We have a bunch of festivals lined up and eventually we hope to sell it in some way. It is an art house film, an essay film, and a specific topic so it's a challenge, but I'm hopeful.

Adobe: How do you feel after going through process of delivering a feature film?
Radivojevic: I've worked on many short films, and after a while the process of delivering short films isn't challenging anymore. To tell a story in a different way through a feature film is intriguing. I'm already planning my next two films. One is a documentary and the other is a fiction film and both will be filmed in Serbia. The documentary is set in my head and starts shooting in September. My next real challenge will be the fiction film. Fiction is something I haven't explored yet and I'm both excited and terrified, which is great!

Watch the trailer

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Mar 3, 2014 at 10:16:52 am Creative Cloud, Customers

Don’t fast forward

Television commercial editor delivers stunning spots using Adobe Creative Cloud workflow

Our friend Adam Pertofsky at Rock Paper Scissors has been busy these last few months. Since we last talked with him, he’s completed the third part of the Captain Morgan series of commercials and cut three additional spots, one of which aired during the Super Bowl. We took a few minutes to catch up with him on his recent projects and use of Adobe Creative Cloud.

Adobe: Tell us about the Super Bowl commercial you worked on.
Pertofsky: It is the 60-second “Going All The Way” Coca-Cola spot that aired during the second half of the game. We worked on it with Wieden+Kennedy. I did all of the editing in Premiere Pro CC, as well as some color correction for the client presentation. It is a really sweet, classic, spot that a lot of people will be moved by and enjoy.

Adobe: What other projects have you worked on?
Pertofsky: I cut a simple, funny commercial for Chevy that will air during the Winter Games. It was an easy process of working in Premiere Pro to do cuts and throw in some graphics using the Luma Key. I also used the title tool in Premiere Pro to set up a string of options for the creative director to look at and it was amazing and super simple.

Adobe: Did you use any other Adobe tools on this project?
Pertofsky: I've been using a lot of Adobe Media Encoder, which I find really fast and terrific. Recently, I was at my daughter’s volleyball practice and I needed to do some unexpected cut downs for the Chevy spot. I jumped into the back of my car, set up the project, did the cut downs, threw them into Adobe Media Encoder and was able to upload them using my phone.

Adobe: What’s the biggest project you've worked on recently?
Pertofsky: I cut a four-and-a-half minute commercial for Samsung with R/GA San Francisco. In the spot, aliens take over the earth and challenge the world to a game of football (soccer). It is a massive spot with a lot of variations and the version I worked on ties everything together. I used a lot of tools within Premiere Pro and a lot of After Effects CC, which was terrific. Reframing things and putting them in the right position before sending everything to the post house for final finishing was so easy and fast in Premiere Pro.

Adobe: How do you feel about the Captain Morgan series you completed?
Pertofsky: The last Captain Morgan spot came out great and I’m really proud of it. The project involved heavy use of After Effects and Premiere Pro. I love knowing that when I have a big effects gig going I have powerful programs that I can work with to make the offline presentation look good. For the Captain Morgan spot I used Adobe After Effects to create a garbage matte around an object that let me move things around easily and quickly, which was a huge help. Moving elements around and reframing is much easier and faster thanks to Dynamic Link; I can line everything up in Premiere Pro, quickly jump into After Effects, and then easily go back and open the project in Premiere Pro again with all of the moves applied.

Adobe: Now that you've been working with Adobe Premiere Pro CC for a while, have you made any new discoveries?
Pertofsky: One of the tools that works great in Adobe Premiere Pro is mixing on the fly. I can set it up, mix the spot, and it leaves keyframes behind that I can manipulate further later. A lot of times as I’m showing a rough cut to a client I’m actually mixing it in Adobe Premiere Pro at the same time. Then when they ask to watch it again, I’m just fixing the mix and it speeds up the whole process. This is also useful because clients don’t have the appetite to look at rough cuts, they want to see it as close to finished as possible without paying for it to be finished. We have to do as much as possible in the cutting room to make it look good. All of the LUTs that are in Adobe Premiere Pro are terrific for doing quick color changes.

Adobe: Are there any other tools that help speed your workflow?
Pertofsky: I have an NVIDIA Quadro K5000 and it makes me completely forget about rendering. With everything going in and out of After Effects and adding effects in Premiere Pro, it never slows me down.

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Feb 21, 2014 at 2:09:22 pm Creative Cloud, Customers

Hearst Television covers the Winter Games

Remote team uses laptops equipped with Adobe Premiere Pro to edit and package athlete stories

Since the beginning of the Winter Games, Hearst Television has been on site in Sochi delivering general coverage, as well as profiles of individual Team USA athletes. Hearst relies on a tapeless workflow and reporters in the newsroom and out in the field use Adobe Premiere Pro CC, part of Adobe Creative Cloud, to assemble and edit their stories.

The broadcaster moved its news operations to a file-based pipeline four years ago. As part of the transition, the broadcaster partnered with Adobe for its editing platform combined with a Bitcentral production system.

“We brought people from the stations into the transition process very early, so it worked out well and they were really pleased with it,” says Joe Addalia, director of technology projects for Hearst Television. “In our creative services group the team immediately wrapped their arms around the Adobe workflow. When the creative people start saying how much they love Adobe tools the news people hear them and start becoming champions too.”

Today, 19 of the 25 Hearst stations that produce news use Premiere Pro for day-to-day cutting of news stories. In the field crews are equipped with HP or Dell laptops running Premiere Pro and sometimes Prelude.

This month, the remote workflow is being put to the test, as a team of eight people, including a mix of photojournalists, reporters, producers, and a technical lead work on site in Sochi putting together human interest stories on athletes from the communities where Hearst broadcasts. The team is covering U.S. athletes in their local markets, with additional material delivered to Hearst’s 10 NBC affiliates.

“It’s my job it is to make sure everyone’s laptop does what it is supposed to do in a foreign environment,” says Larry Vancini, Hearst’s technical lead on the project. “Once the crews and teams acquire the news and create a package, I get the finished packages back to the stations and handle any necessary embargoing. If something is shot only for NBC, and only for Louisville, the correct metadata must be present when that package is uploaded.”

Vancini uses Adobe Media Encoder to output the proper file formats, including presets he has created for standard definition and high definition H.264. Of the 19 stations that have Premiere Pro, 17 also use Bitcentral as their production system. Metadata is entered within Bitcentral whenever content is uploaded. Once the material is ready, the network of Bitcentral stations are alerted that the content is available and the remaining stations have access to the content via a web browser.

In order to handle the amount of content that the Hearst team is tasked with creating in Sochi, many stories are prewritten. This helps the team organize their time well, so they are always ready to jump on stories that develop in the moment. Reporters may use previously shot content of local athletes and edit that together with fresh Sochi footage. Producers laying out the plans have a seven hour time difference in their favor so they can work a day ahead and get direct feedback from the stations, when needed.

While reporters don’t have the luxury of working a story right until the moment it goes to air, in Sochi only one news package each day is date and time sensitive. All other stories can be completed and uploaded a day ahead of time, so the stations will have plenty of time to bring them to air. Despite distance and bandwidth constraints, the team is excited to be working on site at the games and delivering high-quality content back to local stations hungry for coverage.

“We’ve dabbled with the system since the election and also used it for localized coverage of the Zimmerman trial,” says Vancini. “In that case we were in the same time zone and all content was edited locally with Premiere Pro and encoded using Media Encoder. We pushed the files back on a high speed pipe and it worked flawlessly. We’ve taken this model and applied it to our Sochi workflow and it’s going well.”

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Feb 20, 2014 at 1:31:01 pm Creative Cloud, Customers

Graham Elliott puts creativity in motion

Fearless filmmaker and innovator explores the world of creativity with help from Adobe Creative Cloud

Growing up, Graham Elliott desperately wanted to become a pilot and devoted himself to learning about flight. At 17 he received a scholarship to the RAF in London and within a week he was flying solo. Although Elliott ultimately decided he didn't want to be in the Air Force, he took away a simple life lesson: all you need to do is apply yourself. His natural artistic abilities led him to Manchester University, where he graduated with a degree in graphic design. He then went on to the Royal College of Art to earn a Masters in Illustration, a program that touched on multiple artistic disciplines.

Elliott’s dedication and never-ending curiosity have fueled a career spanning multiple creative endeavors: animation, illustration, photography, writing, multimedia, and film. In 2011, he created New York in Motion, a documentary about the motion graphics industry in New York. Inspired by his experiences creating New York in Motion, he’s now working on World in Motion, a new documentary film series that examines how environment and cultural context strongly influence designers and their work in different countries around the world. This post offers an introduction to Elliott, and we’ll continue to check in with him as he works on the new series to hear more about his experiences with creative professionals around the world.

Adobe: How did your career begin?
Elliott: When I graduated from the Royal College of Art, I got invited to speak at a big American illustration festival in New York and met several influential industry people, including Steve Byram, art director at CBS/Sony Music. He told me to tack my postcard up on this enormous 24-foot-long wall crammed with business cards, tear sheets, and postcards. He called a few months later and said the U.S. band Living ColourLiving Colour wanted me to design their record cover. After that, I started to get a lot of work in the music industry doing record covers, stage designs, posters, and so on. I got known for a specific digital illustration style and was soon going to New York every few months.

Adobe: How did you get into film?
Elliott: When I got a body of work together, people started saying it would be really great if I could animate it. At that point, I had only toyed around with moving imagery. I asked the band if I could direct a music video and they were dubious. I didn't have a reel, or any experience. A few months later, they came to me and said they had a song they weren't quite sure what to do with called “Glamour Boys.” The next thing I knew, I was on the set of directing a music video. It was outrageously scary. I pretended I knew everything the first day, and then realized I was such a rookie and started asking everyone in different departments for guidance. It was a great way to learn, almost like going to film school for two years within two intense days.

Adobe: How did you wind up in New York?
Elliott: I moved to New York because there was so much more work. I was very excited by Pee-wee’s Playhouse, the children’s TV show so I went to its production company, showed them my work, and they took me on as a director. I worked there for two years directing commercials and music videos and learning the basic strategies of how to make a commercial, produce animation, and work with clients. Eventually, I started my own company with a producer. We worked for Nickelodeon, MTV, ESPN, Coca-Cola, and other big brands. I've been doing commercials and music videos ever since.

Adobe: You’ve taught at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) for some time. How did that come about?
Elliott: When I first came over to the states I met Richard Wilde, Chair BFA Advertising and Design, at SVA and he asked me to come in every semester and do a show and tell for about 150 kids just entering the visual arts program. He liked that I had done a lot of different things. For newcomers to the creative scene, it can be difficult to choose a career path. I wanted to let them know they could acquire basic knowledge in one area and then learn and evolve during a professional career. Richard asked me a few times if I’d teach there, and I felt like I wasn't ready. About 10 years into doing the seminars, he offered me a job teaching a music video class and I finally took him up on it. I've now been teaching that class for 10 years and expanded into teaching motion graphics. It’s been amazing. I've really enjoyed it.

Adobe: How did you start creating documentaries?
Elliott: I made a documentary in Cuba and it got me really excited about producing my own content. With commercial projects you get a brief from clients and the material is already pre-determined. With the documentary, it was my content and I had ownership. It was so exciting for me. Then I went on to produce other documentaries. I made New York in Motion in 2011 and now I’m in the process of making another documentary: World in Motion.

Adobe: Tell us more about New York in Motion.
Elliott: When I was teaching motion graphics at SVA, the students seemed to be taking the class because it was trendy, but they didn’t totally understand the topic. At one point when I was doing a lecture, I was trying to fully explain what motion graphics is and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to make a documentary so that my students and I could understand it and its application better?” I went to SVA and asked if, for part of the curriculum, I could work with the kids to make a film of the motion graphics scene in New York. The school agreed and gave me some backing. We thought we’d make a 12-minute film for the graduation screenings, but it began to evolve into a full 60- to 90-minute documentary. We had about 53 names of companies and freelancers in the motion graphics industry, and 52 responded. It was really amazing: we interviewed people from places like Comedy Central, MTV, and NBC. It taught me more about the industry and the opportunities for students when they graduate.

Adobe: What were some of the most challenging aspects of New York in Motion?
Elliott: The first rough cut was two-and-a-half hours. The hardest thing was trying to edit it down to 60 minutes. And I didn’t want it to be like a portfolio where you just watch a bunch of clips; instead I wanted it to be about creativity and inspiration, and living in New York as a base and catalyst. People working here in motion graphics come from all over the world, from Brazil to South Korea. There’s a huge juxtaposition of different cultures, people, views and I found each person’s formative environment really affects his or her creativity.

Adobe: Has New York in Motion been a success?
Elliott: Yes, it’s been huge. I expected it to be successful with the design community. But then I entered it into more mainstream festivals like the International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam. My rep didn’t think it would get in. They usually accept mainly “big cause” films, but we got in and the screenings were sold out. For the first time, we put a face to the genre and brought it to the general public. There was real interest, and people were so engaged by how motion graphics are made and who does them, whether the graphics are delivered on a handheld device or on a huge billboard on the side of a building. We ultimately went to 12 festivals around the world and were even in the first International Motion Festival in Cyprus, where I was the keynote speaker. It was great to get a sense of what was going on with designers around the world.

Adobe: How did World in Motion come about?
Elliott: I was traveling around the world and meeting with design communities in different places. I was talking to a designer in Mumbai who spent a lot of time stuck in traffic behind trucks all hand painted in unique ways. His commute ultimately affected the way he thinks and his amazing color palette. I was awestruck by how culture, religion, history, landscape, and visual legacy affect the way we design. That is the genesis for World in Motion.

Adobe: How are you using Adobe software?
Elliott: I use Adobe Creative Cloud. I’ve used After Effects for everything I’ve done throughout my career, even before Adobe owned the software. I now love Creative Cloud and the integration among all the different components. Working with Lightroom takes me back to my early love of photography. I take a lot of stills and it’s so easy to go into Lightroom and do color correction and then save the calibration and use it on other images. My partner Roswitha Rodrigues at Magical Monkey has been creating all the posters, flyers, and other collateral for New York in Motion in InDesign CC. Photoshop CC is of course another go-to tool for us. We’re also learning Premiere Pro CC for video editing.

Adobe: As you progress on World in Motion, what’s the workflow?
Elliott: We’re getting content from artists, gathering commercial, experimental and spec pieces from their show reels. We’re showcasing their cutting-edge work that often doesn’t get seen. We thought we’d be doing it in one big shoot, but it’s coming together more in segments, which is fine. For World in Motion, we’re expanding into different fields as well as motion graphics and talking to photographers, dancers, architects, musicians, graffiti artists and others and exploring how their environment affects the way they create.

Adobe: What can we expect the next time we check in with you?
Elliott: We are starting in Brazil and then checking out Southeast Asia, South Africa, Europe, Turkey, the UK, and other areas of the world. I look forward to sharing what I learn from the design communities in these locations and will hopefully include some behind the scenes content to give even more context. As you can tell, I’m super excited to embark on the World in Motion journey.

Visit the Fovea Films website

Learn more about the video apps and services in Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Feb 19, 2014 at 12:57:07 pm Creative Cloud, Customers

Swiss Radio and Television produces stunning Sochi opener

Broadcaster uses Adobe Creative Cloud workflow to create opener promoting the winter games

The Winter Games are a chance for us to witness magic moments of incredibly artistry and athleticism performed by the amazing athletes competing there. But in order for us to do so, broadcasters around the world spent months preparing for that short period of intense coverage. For Swiss Radio and Television (SRF), a publicly funded broadcaster serving the German speaking part of Switzerland, the preparations included creating a stunning opener that builds excitement for audiences tuning in to the games. Patrick Arnecke, head of design and promotion, leads the creative team responsible for design and production of the on air campaign.

Adobe: Tell us about the Swiss Radio and Television.
Arnecke: The SRF is a publicly funded broadcaster that serves the German speaking part of Switzerland. We maintain two full blown 24/7 TV channels, a TV repeat channel for news programs, seven radio channels, and an extensive online portal.

Adobe: What teams do you work with at the SRF and what do they produce?
Arnecke: I’m the head of the design and promotion team. The design team consists of 25 designers who do all corporate design, motion graphics and interaction design for SRF. Creatively they are responsible for channel brandings, campaigns, image clips and labels as well as show packagings. We also do all of the 2D and 3D animation used for our TV magazines and news shows. The promotion team has 11 editors and promo producers who work on traditional on-air trailers as well as cross media campaigns.

Adobe: Tell us about the work you’ve done for the Winter Games?
Arnecke: Last year during the summer we started to rethink our overall sports design. We have various sports programs on air and wanted to repackage the whole set of shows for SRF zwei, our main entertainment and sports channel. We regularly cover huge events like the Winter Games for the Swiss audience, and we needed to come up with a solution for those events as well, and tie that into the overall design.

We decided to center our redesign around the core idea of the “magic moment” – these rare moments when extraordinary athletic performance seems almost supernatural. We then spent five days shooting all the necessary plates using RED Epic and Phantom Flex cameras, special camera rigs with a high speed camera carousel, and a huge 15m x 9m x 7.5m green screen area. Among others we staged ice hockey, alpine skiing, figure skating, snowboarding, ski jumping, and cross country skiing. Everything was conceptualized, directed, and pre- and post-produced by four in-house designers. From that footage we produced a 28-second opener for our Sochi coverage along with the show packaging, and the promo teasers that we used to ramp up the campaign in January.

Adobe: What products are you using to produce your content?
Arnecke: Right now we have a mix of Adobe Creative Cloud and Creative Suite 6 software. On the design team we use Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Our main tool for 2D animation is After Effects, and we rely on CINEMA 4D as our main 3D package. The closer relationship between Adobe and MAXON and the strong connection between CINEMA 4D and After Effects comes in very handy for our pipeline.

At the beginning of 2013 we started using Edge Animate to create small, interactive HTML5 elements to give our online news articles more depth and interactivity. For our video content, we started to work with SpeedGrade to give content from different sources a uniform look. During the last months we switched to Premiere Pro as our main editing tool, which replaces Final Cut Pro.

Adobe: What was the workflow for creating the Sochi opener?
Arnecke: In pre-production the responsible designers Martin Bernhard (director) and Simon Renfer (co-director) used Photoshop, with Wacom tablets and screens, to create the storyboards. On set and after the shoot was completed, we used SpeedGrade to convert the Phantom material and then edited the content in Premiere Pro. Lead 3D Artists Jürg Dummermuth and Simone Nucci did all of the 3D CGI with CINEMA 4D. In addition to using After Effects for previsualization and animatics, it was also used for 2D animation, keying, rotoscoping, retouching, compositing, and grading. We’ve done a lot of smaller projects such as show openers and image trailers using Premiere Pro, but the Sochi opener is one of the biggest projects we’ve done to date with the new workflow.

Adobe: Why did you make the switch to Premiere Pro?
Arnecke: After Apple didn´t continue Final Cut Pro, we were looking for alternatives. The pipeline efficiencies that let us easily switch between Premiere Pro and After Effects are important to us. Premiere Pro is especially useful if we shoot on RED cameras because thanks to the Mercury Playback Engine we don’t have to convert and we can edit right away. We usually like to edit on set to see if what we’ve shot is exactly what we need.

Adobe: Tell us how you’re using Adobe Edge Animate CC?
Arnecke: We have a small team of designers who work on infographics for our daily news shows. We use graphical content created for on air programming, add interactivity and repackage that content for our news articles online. For example, for the election of Pope Franziskus or the 50th anniversary of the President Kennedy assassination we created interactive explanatory pieces with Edge Animate. These interactives give more depth to our news articles online and typically take us one to three days to produce—last year we did more than 150 of these.

See examples of the infographics here

Adobe: What is next for your team?
Arnecke: We’re planning a seven day shoot that will take place in March for our summer sports. With the success of the winter sports workflow, we’ll be using a similar setup.

Read more about the use of MAXON CINEMA 4D

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Feb 14, 2014 at 10:29:34 am Creative Cloud, Customers

Charting a course for the filmmaking future

Prolific young filmmaker adopts Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Creative Cloud

Blake Simon is a sophomore at Loyola Marymount University studying Film Production and he’s already making his mark on the filmmaking world. So far, he has written, directed, and edited 11 short films on his own, and ultimately plans to direct features. His short western, Delarosa, won the Audience Choice Award for Best Student Short Film at the 2013 International Bel-Air Film Festival. Since switching from Final Cut Pro to Adobe Premiere Pro back in high school, he’s become a stalwart advocate of Adobe software, a Certified Expert in Adobe Premiere Pro, and self-prescribed Adobe evangelist.

Adobe: When did you become interested in filmmaking?
Simon: I knew I wanted to make films from the time I was in fourth or fifth grade. I have a newspaper project from fifth grade where I pasted a picture of my head on a celebrity holding an Oscar statue. I started making films as part of the filmmaking club at my high school when I was 14. Of course, you don’t start with a crew of people so I wore all the hats: writing, shooting, editing, even acting. It was great because I got to experiment with all the jobs and learn a little bit about everything. Ultimately I want to be a director, but I really like editing as well.

Adobe: You've made a lot of short films in a short time. Can you tell us more about them?
Simon: I’m interested in psychological thrillers, movies like Memento and Inception, but I've dabbled in many different genres. Delarosa is pretty ambitious. The goal was to be historically accurate. I have a friend whose family does historical reenactments so they supplied the clothes and props. We shot the film in the desert in Malibu Hills, California. I did all the editing and color grading in Premiere Pro, the sound editing in Audition, the output through Media Encoder, and created Blu-ray discs using Encore.

Adobe: You've been editing for several years. Why did you decide to use Adobe Premiere Pro?
Simon: We didn't have a film program at my high school, and the one film class taught Final Cut Pro 7 so that’s what I used. Then a few years ago, I shot a short on the RED EPIC camera and I started doing some work for RED, too. At this point, Premiere Pro CS5 was the only program that offered the ability to edit native RED footage. I decided to give Premiere Pro a try because I could jump right into editing without converting or transcoding the RED footage first. It was fabulous and I haven’t touched Final Cut Pro since.


Adobe: We rarely have the opportunity to interview young filmmakers who have just left high school and entered college. What do you think of what’s being taught in terms of editing software?
Simon: When Final Cut Pro X came out, schools did one of two things: switched to Premiere Pro or Avid or stayed on Final Cut Pro 7 in denial. I think Avid is the least user-friendly software, but the worst option is staying with Final Cut Pro 7. There haven’t been any updates in three years so it’s very outdated. These days, most people are very open to moving to Premiere Pro, and the transition is easy. My high school is now looking into Premiere Pro, and I’m glad to hear it.

Adobe: Are you using Adobe Creative Cloud yet?
Simon: I am and it’s fantastic. The great thing about Creative Cloud is that users get constant up-dates and the ability to try all the great video tools they need. The entertainment industry grows so rapidly, that if you can’t afford to replace all your hardware and software every couple of years, you’re outdated. Creative Cloud solves that problem.

Adobe: You’ve become a strong supporter of Adobe Premiere Pro. What is it about the software that you like?
Simon: It was so easy for me to become fluent in Premiere Pro. I started using the software to edit RED footage natively, and I've now tried many different cameras and it is amazing to be able to throw virtually any format on the timeline and get right to work. Premiere Pro is always pushing the limits as far as reading and processing different media. When I talk to other students, the idea of not having to convert footage is amazing. Some more experienced editors have an established workflow and like the offline editing process. I understand that, but Premiere Pro is the only software that gives you the option to edit natively, even 4K and 5K sequences, if you want to. I like options, and nothing else gives me close to as many options as Premiere Pro.


Adobe: Are there any other newer features that have helped with your workflow?
Simon: The first time I saw Hover Scrub in the Media Browser in Premiere Pro I was blown away. It saves so much time, especially when you have many takes of the same scene. I love that you can Hover Scrub and set in and out points in the thumbnails. Adjustment Layers also are amazing, because you can apply an effect not just to one clip but to layers of clips. I’m also a big fan of the Export Image feature, because it makes freeze frames a lot easier to accomplish.

Another reason that the Adobe workflow crushes the competition is because it has Dynamic Link between Premiere Pro and After Effects and Direct Link between Premiere Pro and SpeedGrade. It’s so amazing to see the changes instantly update without waiting for everything to render.

Adobe: What do you see other students wanting to do?
Simon: Many are interested in directing feature films in Hollywood. A lot of people are also interested in the web—Vimeo and YouTube. That’s another thing I love, the built in Media Encoder presets to format for YouTube and Vimeo, so the process of publishing to those sites is streamlined.

Adobe: What are students’ perspectives on what editing software to use?
Simon: Students are very open-minded. Many will learn whatever their school is teaching. But I do see more and more people using Premiere Pro. It is becoming a major contender for the industry standard among aspiring and experienced filmmakers.

Adobe: What are you working on next?
Simon: I’m always working on something. I’m currently in preproduction for a short currently titled Catalyst, which is scheduled to shoot in June of 2014. I've also just completed writing my first feature and hope to produce it in the next two years.

Learn more about the video apps and services in Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Feb 13, 2014 at 10:49:25 am Creative Cloud, Customers

“Red Obsession” weaves intoxicating story

Freelance video pro relies on Adobe video workflow to edit documentary about Bordeaux wine

Paul Murphy studied writing in school, but his first job was with a publishing house overseeing the production of promotional videos for new books. He was instantly intrigued so he bought a copy of Adobe Premiere Pro and started creating the videos himself. Eventually he left publishing to focus full time on editing and motion graphics design. Murphy recently completed work on Red Obsession, a documentary about the Bordeaux wine industry and the impact of China’s overwhelming demand. The film recently earned the Australian Academy award (AACTA) for best feature documentary.

Adobe: Can you tell us a little more about Red Obsession?
Murphy: Warwick Ross, the film’s co-director and co-writer, was approached by an Australian Master of Wine who told him that something interesting was happening related to the supply and demand of wine in Bordeaux. Warwick took a crew to Bordeaux and captured 50 hours of footage that revealed more than just a basic “behind the scenes of the wine industry” story. The wealthy Chinese had decided that they didn't want to drink traditional Chinese alcohol anymore; they wanted to drink the best Bordeaux wine and were willing to pay for it. Ultimately, Warwick decided to use the wine industry as a microcosm to show what was going on in the global economy. Bordeaux used to sell most of its wine to the U.S. and U.K., but when the economic crisis cut consumption, the Chinese came in and started buying.

Adobe: How did you become involved in the project?
Murphy: Previously, I had worked with Warwick on a short documentary about World War II, and we developed a great relationship. Warwick asked me to work on this new film, and I was eager. We agreed that we didn't want it to feel like a wine documentary with boring “chocolate box” shots of vineyards and Vivaldi playing in the background. We wanted it to be visually stunning, edgy, and interesting. Ultimately, the film became a story about two very different cultures—French and Chinese—coming together over wine.

Adobe: What did you do with the first 50 hours of footage?
Murphy: I started going through the footage with the directors and figuring out what was going to work and what wasn't. Our first task was to create a six-minute trailer with the themes of the story set to music to attract private investors. While we were working on the trailer, the story was still playing out in Bordeaux. The French had pushed up the prices but then the Chinese became fickle about what they wanted to drink and stopped buying. The prices of Bordeaux wines crashed 45% overnight. The crew made three or four more trips to France as well as to China, Shanghai, and Hong Kong and we wound up with 100 hours of footage shot over about a year. At that point, I relied on my roots in writing and storytelling to find the arc of the story and cull everything down.

Adobe: Why did you select Adobe Premiere Pro to edit the project?
Murphy: I have used Premiere Pro since the beginning of my freelance editing and motion graphics career. I’ve dabbled in Avid and Final Cut Pro, but I love the Premiere Pro interface. I know it inside and out, and it allows me to work quickly and confidently. For this project, there was some debate about what software we should use because some people thought Premiere Pro couldn't be used on a feature-length film. I showed them how I could go into the timeline and locate a frame in the source file. I also demonstrated using Premiere Pro for speech analysis. We had 70 40-minute interviews and we used speech analysis on half of them, which made editing much faster. Red Obsession also has some complex motion graphics, so the integration between After Effects and Premiere Pro really helped to pull it together. It was definitely the right choice for the film.

Adobe: Tell us more about the motion graphics in the film.
Murphy: We were editing for about 10 months before we moved on to our motion graphics work in After Effects. In the film, we make visual references to news articles, and fly in and out of scenes. In one instance, we fly out of a scene and at the end the viewer is looking at a 3D image of a label on a wine bottle. The opening title sequence was also created in After Effects, with names of the people working on the film floating in space within a huge, expensive winery. It involved a lot of beautiful track shots, and I was grateful for the 3D Camera Tracker in After Effects.

Adobe: What other Adobe technologies were involved?
Murphy: I used a lot of InDesign for the end title layout, which I imported into After Effects for animation. I also used Illustrator for titling, as well as Photoshop for graphics. I always use Encore to create DVDs or Blu-ray disks for sharing and review.

Adobe: What’s happening with the film now?
Murphy: It debuted at the Berlin Film Festival and has also been shown at the Tribeca Film Festival, the Sydney Film Festival, and others. It’s done very well, and is available in theaters in Australia and on video-on-demand and iTunes in the United States.

Adobe: Did you edit this project using Adobe Creative Cloud?
Murphy: This project occurred before Creative Cloud was available, but I will be moving to Creative Cloud soon and I’m looking forward to it. I am anxious to try Prelude CC to manage my footage, metadata, and comments in one place. I had my own database for this, but would welcome the Prelude option. I’m also very excited to try After Effects CC. The fact that you can now bring Cinema 4D files directly into After Effects without rendering is amazing. I’d also like to try SpeedGrade CC for color grading. A good portion of Red Obsession was shot on ARRI Alexa cameras and after editing the footage, I showed rough cuts to the directors in a kind of milky, un-color-corrected state. I would have loved to use SpeedGrade CC to show them something that would look more like the final color. Overall, I’m excited to move to Creative Cloud because I like the idea of getting continuous updates, rather than waiting a year or longer for a new release.

Learn more about the video apps and services in Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Watch the trailer

Watch Paul’s tutorial explaining how he created the titles for Red Obsession using InDesign Pro

Red Obsession is now available on DVD and VOD in US and Australia.

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Feb 11, 2014 at 11:02:48 am Adobe Creative Cloud, Customers

HP Sundance House hosts Dustin Grella and his unique chalkboard animations

Adobe Creative Cloud workflow helps artist create daily animations at Sundance Film Festival

The Sundance Film Festival is a haven for independent artists, each showcasing their one-of-a-kind voice. Dustin Grella is one such artist, invited to the Sundance Film Festival by HP, a sponsor of the festival. Grella is best known for his Animation Hotline videos, which combine audio recordings with chalkboard animation to create interesting, human works of art. From the HP Sundance House, Grella animated hotline videos live throughout the course of the festival with help from video and audio tools in Adobe Creative Cloud.

Adobe: Did you always know that you wanted to be an artist?
Grella: I actually started a bit later in the game. I attended a school that didn’t have an animation program so I studied humanities. I’m fascinated by the human condition and human stories are what drive my work. I also took some art classes and computer classes, basically combining my studies into a “choose your own adventure” liberal arts degree. When I finally figured out what I wanted to do I attended the School of Visual Arts and received my MFA in Computer Art.

Adobe: How long have you been dong chalkboard animation?
Grella: I started eight years ago with a painted blackboard, drawing with chalk and recording everything in camera. The setup was very simple and I didn’t really know what I was doing. The exposure on the camera was not set correctly, but I still captured something interesting enough for me to want to keep exploring the medium. Since then, I’ve done a couple of short films and I established the Animation Hotline.

Adobe: Tell us about the Animation Hotline.
Grella: I have a public telephone number, 212-683-2490, and people are welcome to call and leave a message. I go through the messages on a regular basis and choose one to animate. To date, I’ve done more than 140 animations from the Hotline. I’ve had lots of friends call, and a homeless shelter asked clients to call and tell their stories. The rest of the messages are from people I don’t know who have called and told interesting stories. The more stories people tell, the more interesting the project becomes. The finished pieces are typically 10 to 40 seconds, but I’ve done one that is more than a minute long.

Adobe: How do you decide what stories to tell?
Grella: I try to stay as open as possible. Some are abstract pieces with no real story, while others are very touching and real. I tend to go for the real, human stories first. I prefer to hear something that is true but I also enjoy a good abstract message, poem, rant, anything really. If I’m listening to a recording and it hits me and I feel it, or if it is something that is visually compelling, I’ll try to animate it.

Adobe: How do you create the animations?
Grella: Every animation starts off with the audio. The story is the most important part. If I was telling my story over and over again, people would get bored. Telling other people’s stories keeps it fresh and exciting.

I use Adobe Audition to edit the audio files down to what I need. Next, I storyboard to get a rough idea of the sketches to include. It’s pretty much regular animation from there. I do drawings on slate by hand with pastels, and then create the stop motion animation using Dragonframe stop motion. I capture everything with a Canon camera, export the MOV files, and take those into Adobe Premiere Pro to clean them up and edit them down to the clips I need. By staying in the Premiere Pro timeline I can sync the animation with the audio and then export the video very easily.

Adobe: How did you end up at the Sundance Film Festival?
Grella: HP asked me to come and animate on site as part of the HP Sundance House. We built five Hotline Hotspots that have a small, 10-inch television with a telephone on top. People were able to watch some animations on the screen to get an idea of what they are, then they were able to pick up the phone and leave their own messages. The Hotline Hotspots were connected to a server, so all of the messages were captured on a computer. HP basically took my studio in New York City and duplicated it at Sundance, down to my exact table. Our goal was to complete one animation for each of the 10 days in Park City and we achieved it!

Adobe: Do you use Adobe After Effects for any of the animation?
Grella: When I first started I was a purist; I thought every frame had to be drawn by hand. Eventually I realized that the story is the most important part, and if I’m just drawing the same thing over and over again for the sake of drawing I’m wasting time. So I do use After Effects for some of my work, and I often hire an After Effects artist to help with commercial jobs.

Adobe: What type of commercial projects have you done?
Grella: I recently finished a remembrance piece for the New York Times about Nadia Popova, who was part of a Soviet all-female bombing regiment. Another piece I did for the New York Times was about a bike share program.

Adobe: What is your favorite part of the animation process?
Grella: I like the beginning, when I’m first in the moment of creating and problem solving and I can go in any direction. I storyboard very loosely just to get an idea of what the animation will be. Seeing the final product is also very exciting, as well as sharing it with other people.

Adobe: What is your favorite feature in Adobe Premiere Pro?
Grella: I’m not really tight on storyboards or frame count, I just draw an image that I like and it’s usually too long. The best thing is being able to adjust clips to fit the length of the audio.

Adobe: How was your move from Final Cut Pro?
Grella: Switching from Final Cut Pro to Premiere Pro took me an afternoon. It was an amazingly fast transition.

Adobe: How do you like working with Adobe Audition?
Grella: I used to use QuickTime to do quick audio cuts, but I recently started working with Audition and it’s much easier. I like being able to see the whole audio wave, and I can do much faster, cleaner audio cuts.

Adobe: How long do the animations take to create?
Grella: I tend to say that I can do 15 seconds of animation in a day, but it does vary. For commercial jobs it is 15 seconds or less because there tend to be more revisions and changes. If it is a personal project I can often complete it in a day, especially if I’m interested and have the visuals ready to go. Even if I make a mistake, I’m okay with it.

Adobe: What is your favorite animation?
Grella: My favorite one is a short, seven and a half minute animation about my brother Devin Grella, who was killed in Iraq by an IED. It is very personal and done in black and white pastels on a slate chalkboard, with just a few highlights of color. It was my first attempt at a beginning to end narrative.

Adobe: What’s next after the Sundance Film Festival?
Grella: I’ll be working on an animated landscape painting that is more of a gallery piece. I have one test done and I absolutely love it. I just moved my office from downtown New York to a larger studio in the Bronx, where I’m able to spread my wings and do bigger wholesale projects that I couldn’t do before. I hope to still get some commercial animation work, and the Animation Hotline will continue.

See Dustin's videos from the Sundance Film Festival

View the entire archive of Animation Hotline videos

Check out more projects from Dusty Studio

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Jan 29, 2014 at 11:46:35 am Creative Cloud, Customers

Malaysian-born filmmaker debuts short film at Sundance

Short film shot on RED in 4k edited on Macbook Pro using Adobe Premiere Pro software

Diffan Norman is not just a filmmaker, he’s a multidisciplinary artist, filmmaker, and designer. His nine minute short film Kekasih, which won the Audience Choice Award at Kelab Seni Filem Malaysia, had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Norman credits his Adobe workflow with helping him realize his vision for the film.

Poster by Iman Raad

Adobe: Tell us about your background.
Norman: I’m originally from Malaysia. I earned my bachelor of fine arts degree at the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, California. I started out directing music videos and short films. My first short film, Wanita Cosmos, was about a Malaysian woman who is chosen to travel into space. It was shown at ResFest, The International Film Festival of Rotterdam, The 27th Clermont Ferrand International Short Film Fest, and The New York Asian American International Film Festival.

I eventually moved to Los Angeles and became absorbed working with boutique studios, including Brand New School and National Television. I initially worked as a freelancer, but ultimately took a full-time job as senior animator and designer at National Television. We produced commercials, print ads, and other motion graphics work for clients. I like to think this was where I earned my Master’s degree.

Adobe: When were you first introduced to Adobe software?
Norman: In 1994, a friend and I played in a band that never existed and we wanted to make an album cover for our cassette recordings. He had Photoshop on his computer and we were completely blown away by the facet/cell filter. When I got to college I learned After Effects. I didn't know anything about motion graphics and was very attracted to what After Effects could do.

Adobe: How did you decide to make Kekasih?
Norman: I started out in DV filmmaking and animation. After Otis I worked for about five to six years in boutique studios in and around Los Angeles that mainly produced live and animated commercials, and music videos with a particular appreciation for motion graphics. After my father’s passing, I realized I wanted to get back to what I originally set out to do. I wrote the script for Kekasih a few years ago, and my father and I would discuss the theme of the film, as well as details such as whether it should be animated or live action. After he died, I cleaned out his office and found a copy of the script on his desk. That’s when I decided to make the film.

Adobe: What was your process?
Norman: I needed financial help to make the film, so I applied for and received a multimedia grant from The National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS). The organization gives out two grants, one at the beginning of the year and one at the end of the year, and the requirement is that you make a short film. In addition to the funds I received from the FINAS, I also helped finance it myself. We got two veteran actors, Nasir Bilan Khan and Fauziah Nawi, who don’t usually do short films, to participate in the project. They liked the story so much that they jumped on board.

Adobe: How were Adobe tools used in the production of Kekasih?
Norman: We shot the film on a RED camera and edited it using Adobe Premiere Pro. I’d used Premiere Pro on Wanita Cosmos, which was drawn in Photoshop and animated in After Effects. I hadn’t edited anything in a few years, but I wanted to use Premiere Pro for the film because of the intuitive RED workflow.

Adobe: What did you like most about working with Adobe video tools?
Norman: Premiere Pro let me watch 4k footage without losing quality, easily add sound, and output the film quickly. Being able to edit RED footage on a Macbook Pro using Premiere Pro was really fascinating.

Overall, the Adobe products allowed me to take ideas that I had in my head, such as the animated inspiration sequences in Kekasih, and make them happen. I’m most attracted to the immediacy that Adobe products enable. I have the ideas, I have the tools, and I can do it. For Kekasih, I created everything in Adobe products – the graphics, trailer, postcards, animated sequences, Instagram teaser, and the film itself. I cannot imagine doing all of this without Adobe products. I've also just joined Adobe Creative Cloud, and I’m looking forward to working with even more tools to explore different looks, styles, and creative directions.

View the trailer
Visit the website
Instagram: #diffannorman

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Jan 28, 2014 at 10:39:22 am Creative Cloud, Customers

“Dig” explores what it’s like to be a kid

Short film edited with Adobe Premiere Pro CC delivers big impact at the Sundance Film Festival

When you’re a kid, even the most mundane things can spark your curiosity. That’s the premise for Dig, a short film directed by Sundance Film Festival veteran Toby Halbrooks. After successfully producing a string of feature films with his partners, Halbrooks decided to take his turn directing a short film based on a story he’d written. Shot in just three days, Dig was edited in Adobe Premiere Pro CC and was one of 15 short films selected by YouTube to go online concurrently with the festival.

Dig Premiere - 2014 Sundance Film Festival

Adobe: Tell us about your background.
Halbrooks: I was in the rock and roll band the Polyphonic Spree from 2000 to 2006. I started working for an editor in Dallas in my spare time when I wasn't on tour and found that I had a knack for it. I really enjoyed it, so I started making films with my friend David Lowery and we became partners and have been working together ever since.

Adobe: Did you know that you wanted to be a producer?
Halbrooks: My role as a producer came about organically; I never even knew that’s what I was doing. I formed a company, Sailor Bear, with David and James M. Jonathan and we produced David’s first feature, St. Nick. David and I wrote for television for a while, then moved back to Dallas and decided to make Pioneer, a short film directed by David that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011. After that, the universe kind of opened up for us and James and I were selected as Sundance Creative Producing Fellows with David’s feature script Ain't Them Bodies Saints. With the help of some partners, we made that movie to great critical success. We recently produced another feature in the fall of 2013, Listen Up Philip, by Alex Ross Perry.

Toby directs the kids, Mallory, Myles, Kaitlyn and Kelsey.

Adobe: What was it like to be selected as Sundance Creative Producing Fellows?
Halbrooks: Undeniably it launched our careers. David had brilliant script, and James and I submitted and got to go. Once you’re in that family, and that’s exactly what it becomes, there’s just a huge support group. At the Sundance Resort there’s an actual lab and four other producing fellows that you get to meet. You’re there for a week talking with mentors about the project, figuring out solutions for making the movie, and just learning more about being a producer. From there they shepherd you through your whole process and give you feedback. It’s not a free ticket, though. I still had to submit to the festival for Dig, but when they found out that I got in they all wrote separately to say that they were just thrilled.

Adobe: Where did you shoot Dig?
Halbrooks: I shot Dig in my backyard in Dallas over the course of three days and edited it during the fall when we were producing Listen Up Philip. Fortunately for all of us, Dig and Listen Up Philip both premiered at Sundance this year.

John, Toby and Joe discuss a scene minutes before filming it.

Adobe: What was the genesis for Dig?
Halbrooks: The genesis was that I wanted to do my own thing. Knowing how many different projects I had coming up I knew it wasn't going to be a feature, and I wanted to do something simple. David and I have a lot of kids in our movies and I wanted to tell a story about the adult world from the perspective of children. No matter what an adult is doing it seems like it has some higher purpose behind it, it seems magical, you’re always curious, no matter how mundane the task is. In Dig, the dad is just digging a hole in the backyard and doesn't directly answer why he is doing it, which causes much curiosity as his daughter tries to figure out what he’s doing and make a connection with her dad.

The official poster image for Dig, feature Mallory Mahoney.

Adobe: What Adobe Creative Cloud tools do you use?
Halbrooks: I started out using Final Cut Pro, but as I got more into producing I found that I was doing less and less editing. Everyone in the Dallas filmmaking community uses After Effects and Photoshop. When Final Cut X launched everyone started switching to Premiere Pro. Rob Wilson and David Maddox did the editing on the film, and they had already made the switch so I purchased Adobe Premiere Pro CC. I don’t edit that much but I needed to be able to access the files. Any time I wasn't directly in the room with them they would send over the project file when changes were made. We all had the media and could see changes immediately in Premiere Pro, make tweaks or suggestions, and send it back.

Adobe: Did you learn Premiere Pro CC for this project?
Halbrooks: It wasn't much of a learning curve from Final Cut to Premiere Pro CC. I didn’t really have to learn anything, I was able to just start using it.

Adobe: Were any other Adobe tools used on Dig?
Halbrooks: Photoshop and After Effects were also used on the film. There are two shots that absolutely used After Effects. In one we had to composite something on the TV. In the other, we parked a regular car on the street because we couldn't get a police car, and the visual effects artist used the Roto Brush tool to transform it into a police car.

Adobe: What’s next for Dig and for you personally?
Halbrooks: Dig will be live on YouTube during the festival and I imagine a lot of people will get to see it that way, which is exciting. We’re being invited to a ton of festivals, which is really great. Any time you make a short the idea is to get as many people as possible to see it. Personally, James and I just won the Indy Spirit Producing Award, which comes with a $25,000 grant and David and I are writing a Disney movie based the studio’s Pete’s Dragon title. It is a whole different concept than the original. So lots of great things to come!

Watch the short here: 

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Jan 24, 2014 at 3:32:09 pm Premiere Pro, Customers

Motion graphics and visual effects work shines at Sundance Film Festival

In the lead up to the Sundance Film Festival we had the good fortune to talk with a number of creative professionals involved in creating some of the great films premiering in Park City. From animated and live action shorts to feature-length documentaries and dramatic premieres, these films display a dizzying range of creativity and talent, as well as inspiring uses of motion graphics and visual effects. Me + Her, Hits, and The End of Eating Everything are three films in which Adobe After Effects played an important role.

Me + Her
Joseph Oxford started making Me + Her in 2009 when he was working as a production assistant. After creating characters from some pieces of cardboard, he started writing a script to tell their story. He developed the script and created the characters and set pieces by hand in his spare time. In 2013, he was finally able to shoot the live action short featuring animatronic rod puppetry.

The puppets that appear in the film were designed in Adobe Illustrator and mass produced so duplicates were available if needed. Oxford used Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to develop early color concepts to help determine the visual style before capturing the majority of content in camera.

All visual effects shots went through After Effects at some point, and the time-lapse sequence of the tree growing at the end of the film was the most labor intensive. While some elements were created in Maya, composting the live action and 3D content made it all feel like live action. Oxford and his team used the Roto Brush in After Effects to fill in missing sections of the sky and the 3D Camera Tracker to turn on 200 light bulbs in one scene. Overall, the six page script took 18 days to shoot, resulting in a whimsical short film about love and loss.

For more information, read the recently published Studio Daily article.

See more at

Viewers who attend the screening of Hits aren't expecting to be wowed by visual effects. In fact, most would never guess that all of the YouTube screens that feature prominently in the film were built using After Effects. The production studio Final Cut worked on both editing and visual effects for the film by Screenwriter and Director David Cross.

Phil Brooks, a graphics and visual effects artist with Final Cut, was given free rein to recreate the YouTube site so he would have more control over the animation and camera moves. First, he used Illustrator to rebuild the user interfaces and buttons as vector graphics so they could scale as needed for shots. The screens were then taken into After Effects, where Brooks created most of the layouts and pages.

The magic of Photoshop enabled him to crop, prepare images, and remove people from backgrounds as needed. By creating invisible visual effects, Brooks effectively helped tell the film’s story without stealing the show.

The End of Eating Everything
The End of Eating Everything by Wangechi Mutu is a visually stunning short film that follows a creature through a vast atmosphere. Digital Artist Joaquin Jutt joined Mutu’s team mid-way through the project as an editor, applying his background in 3D modeling and animation to add more dimension and scale to the fine art film.

Using Adobe Photoshop, Jutt took existing screenshots from the project and composited textures and colors to adjust the overall feeling. Various elements in the atmosphere, such as smoke and birds, add depth and interest. Jutt rendered one bird, animated it flying and diving, created a loop, and then used Particular in After Effects to create the swarm of birds. Animation techniques were also used to make the tentacle on the creature’s head and the internal organs move, pulsate, and change as she moves and spins.

Editing the eight-minute short took eight months. By tackling each challenge individually, from matching the model’s skin tone to mapping the spinning actress to the animated model, Jutt and the small team of editors and animators helped create a film that was true to Mutu’s vision and point of view.

Watch the visual effects breakdown

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Jan 22, 2014 at 2:03:44 pm After Effects, Customers

Sundance veteran offers up lyrical documentary film

Film about American music history comes together beautifully with Adobe video workflow

The feature-length documentary This May Be the Last Time doesn't only detail the history of the Seminole community’s ancient songs of faith and hope, it also explores their connection to Director Sterlin Harjo's own personal history. It’s his first documentary project, but not his first time premiering at the Sundance Film Festival or his first experience working with Adobe software. Together with his filmmaking partner Matt Leach, Harjo is fully immersed in the Adobe video workflow and the duo are happy to share how it has supported their efforts and fueled their creativity.

Photo credit: Sterlin Harjo

Adobe: Tell us about your backgrounds.
Harjo: I’m from Oklahoma and I’m a member of the Seminole and Muscogee (Creek) tribes. I’ve been making films since my early- to mid-20s. I was invited into the Sundance Feature Film Program when I was 23 and received a lot of support through the Sundance Institute. My first short film Goodnight Irene premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005 and I've had two other films—Four Sheets to the Wind and Barking Water—that also debuted at the festival.

Leach: I studied film at Oklahoma University and when I graduated I started doing music videos. One was on MTV and another was shown at South by Southwest. I also worked in news and advertising for a couple of years, working on a variety of projects, until I met Sterlin.

Photo credit: Royce Sharp

Adobe: How did you two connect?
Harjo: Matt and I went to school together but we never met. We were both living in Tulsa and working in the film industry, so we got together and started trying to figure out how we could combine our talents. There was a new company in town called This Land Press that was publishing a magazine featuring long form journalism. We pitched them on creating some online video work and ended up doing some online documentaries and videos with the same journalistic style. We had been using Final Cut Pro, but we were shooting with DSLR cameras with a more “run and gun” style and fast turnaround times, so we made the switch to Adobe Premiere Pro.

Leach: We ended up doing a 12 episode TV show called This Land that was all edited on Premiere Pro. With just a two man operation, it was the only way for us to work quickly and deliver the quality we wanted in the given timeframe. I originally learned Premiere Pro in 2000, so going back to it was familiar, and a lot better. It enabled us to do more of the work we wanted to do quickly and affordably. Premiere Pro has made all the work we've done in the last three years possible.

Photo credit: Jessie Harjo

Adobe: How did you decide to make This May Be the Last Time?
Harjo: It was a story that I had always wanted to tell, so I pitched it to the team at This Land Press and they were excited and wanted to do it. Originally, it was just about the songs of the Seminole community and their story and history. As we made the film it became obvious that one of the main stories that needed to be told was my story and my connection to the songs. I feel like the finished film is part musical and part documentary.

Adobe: How did the process differ from your past films?
Harjo: It wasn't actually that different. We shot the film in just six months and we were editing the whole time. This was the first really personal film I’d done about me and my family. Most documentaries take at least two years to shoot. But because I’m a narrative filmmaker I took a fiction storytelling approach and it went much more quickly. It also helped that I knew the material and most of the people we interviewed were people I know personally so a level of trust was already established. I felt like I’d been researching this film my whole life.

Photo credit: Shane Brown

Adobe: What other Adobe products do you use?
Leach: For This May Be the Last Time we used Premiere Pro, Audition, After Effects, and Media Encoder. The poster for the film was created using Photoshop and Illustrator.

Harjo: The poster is really beautiful. It was made by a friend of mine, Ryan Redcorn, who does really amazing work.

Adobe: When did you begin using Adobe Creative Cloud?
Leach: We started this project just before Creative Cloud was announced, so we were hesitant to switch in the middle. We ultimately ended up making the switch so we could use After Effects CC for a lot of the graphics shots. We also used the latest versions to finish up the last tweaks to graphics and photo animations. The Detail Preserving Upscale Effect in After Effects CC was particularly useful for the archival footage in the film because it helped us keep everything sharp.

Harjo: We shot the film with a Canon C100 and there were a lot of handheld shots. Warp Stabilizer in Premiere Pro CC really saved us on some shots.

Photo credit: Shane Brown

Adobe: What do you like about Creative Cloud?
Leach: It’s really helpful just to be able to have access to everything online through Creative Cloud. If we’re out in the middle of nowhere and someone sends us a file we can easily download the relevant application in just a few minutes. Creative Cloud isn’t just for low budget filmmakers. When we started working on the film there weren’t many people using Premiere Pro, but now almost all of the editors I talk to are using it.

Harjo: The efficiency we get from Premiere Pro alone is worth the cost of Creative Cloud. The ability to bring files into Premiere Pro without spending an extra five hours converting, combined with the hard drive space we save is really amazing.

Watch the trailer:

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Jan 20, 2014 at 1:19:21 pm Creative Cloud, Customers

“Last Days in Vietnam” to premiere at Sundance

Adobe Creative Cloud integral to working with archival content for PBS documentary

Last Days in Vietnam isn't the first trip to the Sundance Film Festival for Director Rory Kennedy. Her film Ethel premiered at the festival in 2012 and went on to garner an impressive five Primetime Emmy nominations. But for her Associate Producer, Taylor Johns, it’s not only his first trip to Sundance, but it’s also the first film he’s worked on since graduating and taking a job with Kennedy’s company, Moxie Firecracker Films. In addition to doing some shooting on the film, Johns’ main job was to oversee the archival content, which involved working extensively with Adobe Creative Cloud.

Adobe: Did you always know that you wanted to be a filmmaker?
Johns: I studied both film and pre-med at Pepperdine. I had the opportunity to intern with Rory at Moxie Firecracker Films one summer, and she offered me a job right after I graduated. I had just taken the medical school entrance exam, and I was accepted to medical school but decided to defer for a year to explore a career in filmmaking. It’s been a really great experience, working directly for such a talented documentary filmmaker has taught me a great deal. Now I have to decide if I want to go on to medical school or keep making films.

Adobe: What was the genesis for the film?
Johns: Rory was approached by Mark Samels, the Executive Producer of American Experience, who was interested in developing a story focused on the Americans on the ground during the final days of the Vietnam War. We started doing some research, were immediately interested, and jumped on board. The film doesn’t get into the politics of the war, but instead focuses on the heroic efforts of individuals to evacuate people and save the lives of South Vietnamese citizens.

A CIA employee helps Vietnamese evacuees onto an Air America helicopter from the top of 22 Gia Long Street, a half mile from the U.S. Embassy. Credit: Copyright Bettmann/Corbis/AP Images

Adobe: Where did you get the archival content?
Johns: We largely secured the archival footage on our own. We had access to PBS archives from previous documentaries, but that wasn't all encompassing. There are iconic shots of the Vietnam War, but we wanted to shy away from those so people wouldn't feel as if they've already seen this story. A lot of the archival content came from the characters featured in the film. We also acquired images from Getty, AP, and other news services. As we researched and developed the story we knew what we needed. There are more than 140 photos included in the film and many weren't in very good shape.

Adobe: How important was Adobe Photoshop CC to your workflow?
Johns: Photos came from both personal and professional sources, which meant that there was a whole range of quality in the images we used. Some were in perfect condition, some needed major restoration work. The Spot Healing brush and Content-Aware Fill tools in Photoshop would routinely get me 90% of the way to removing scratches and damages on the images. Any document treatment that needed to be done was similarly done in Photoshop. Most of the documents came from original scans, so some existing markings and page tears had to be cleaned up. Once again, the robust Content Aware capabilities in Photoshop again proved to be essential.

We had the text of back channel communications, essentially telegrams that were sent back and forth between Washington and the Embassy in Saigon, but not the original telegrams. I used the custom brushes in Photoshop to create a textured paper background, to apply to the text to give it a more authentic feel. It was so easy to make adjustments to these files and sync them to Creative Cloud so I could work on them from my laptop or my desktop.

We also had a newspaper headline that we wanted to use but the text of the article was oddly spaced and split between pages, as it came from an old scan. It was incredibly easy to apply a paper texture to the background and move the text around so it was inline and looked like a cohesive article. From there, it was even easier to send the PSD file to my Online Editor, Eric Robbins, to apply the necessary camera moves in After Effects to the PSD file. Any changes or revisions I made to my file would then be automatically reflected in After Effects.

Aboard the USS Kirk, crew members signal the Chinook to hover over their deck and drop its passengers out. Credit: Hugh Doyle

Adobe: What other Creative Cloud tools did you use?
Johns: All of the images needed camera moves applied, such as pushing in or pulling out of a photo. Photoshop and After Effects were ideal because of how well they work together. A photo could be restored in Photoshop, then animated in After Effects. Additional restorations could easily be made as needed, as After Effects natively supports PSD files and allows you to see changes made in Photoshop instantly. This made it quick to integrate last-minute changes into a section of the film, even if the images had not been restored previously. After Effects also scales images quite nicely since it uses the full resolution of an image. A lot of the images weren't very high res, and we couldn't have any letter boxing, so we had to push in to fill the whole screen. With After Effects, we could be fairly aggressive with some of the camera moves and not impact the quality of the image.

When I had archival footage screeners that I need to show our editor, I would throw them into Premiere Pro CC and apply whatever effects I needed to make them work for our purposes, mainly simple flips or cropping, with the occasional warp stabilization. I used Premiere Pro CC for this because the clips came from a variety of sources, including some home video footage shot on one of the Navy ships, with a variety of frame rates. In Premiere Pro CC I could have them all on the same timeline without a problem.

Adobe: What do you think of Creative Cloud?
Johns: When Creative Cloud was first announced I wasn't sure about the model, but now I just love it. I love having access to Typekit, and the ability to sync settings in the cloud and sync important files in the cloud is really great. I love being able to easily download programs when I need them and access new features immediately instead of waiting months for the next major release. I think I've experimented with all of the software in Creative Cloud. It’s nice to tread in waters I haven’t previously ventured into.

Adobe: How long did it take to complete the film?
Johns: Rory and I started doing the preliminary research in June 2012 and worked for a year. We took a hiatus over the summer, and then came back in the fall to finish. The online editing for the film took about two months.

Adobe: What are the plans for Last Days in Vietnam?
Johns: PBS/American Experience owns the film. We’re starting with a premiere at Sundance, and then we hope to continue on the festival circuit. There may also be a theatrical run this year, and then the PBS American Experience broadcast will likely coincide with the 40th anniversary of the evacuation of Saigon in April 2015.

Adobe: What’s next for Moxie Firecracker?
Johns: We’re in the middle of shooting two new projects that are part of a larger, eight part series called MAKERS: Women Who Make America, also for PBS. The series consists of one-hour mini documentaries focused on the women’s movement and women who were pioneers in their specific fields. The two we’re working on are women in politics and women in Hollywood.

Visit the website:

Watch the trailer:

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Jan 17, 2014 at 1:44:48 pm Creative Cloud, Customers

Hasraf ‘HaZ’ Dulull continues to innovate with Adobe Creative Cloud

New animated short film for Universal Studios expands on the visual style of HaZ’s first film Fubar Redux

Our friend and Adobe Creative Cloud enthusiast Hasraf ‘HaZ’ Dulull was recently hired by Universal Studios to direct a motion comic as part of the marketing for 47 Ronin, starring Keanu Reeves. Working with the team at production studio DSF, HaZ created the animated short film 47 Ronin: The Samurai Spirit in the same style as his short film Fubar Redux.

The animated short expands on the visual style of Fubar Redux with DSF’s Hyper Motion Cinema format, which combines branded and original short form content and a mix of still photography, VFX, and animation. It’s created entirely with Creative Cloud, utilizing the Dynamic Link workflow between Adobe Premiere Pro CC and Adobe After Effects CC and Direct Link between Adobe Premiere Pro CC and Adobe SpeedGrade CC.

HaZ says the team at Universal Studios is very happy with the project. “The whole workflow with Adobe Creative Cloud made it such a fun project to do,” says HaZ. “We were not worried about technical pipeline but instead just pushed ourselves to see how far we could take the Hyper Motion Cinema animation format creatively using Adobe Photoshop, After Effects, Premiere Pro and SpeedGrade throughout.”

Watch the short here:

HaZ will be participating in the Adobe panel discussion: Engaging Story, Brilliant Visuals, Low Budget - the changing face of indepe... at the Sundance Film Festival. Stop by to meet him or click the link to register for the streaming panel discussion on Friday, January 17, 2014 from 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM PT.

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Jan 7, 2014 at 10:32:34 am After Effects, Customers

Find out what the movers and shakers in Adobe's Digital Video & Audio Organization are thinking about, and get a glimpse into their vision on everything from product direction to hot trends in the worlds of video production and content creation, as well as see how other filmmakers are using Adobe products to realize their creative visions.
© 2019 All Rights Reserved