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Klip Collective pushes film into new spaces at Sundance

Projection mapping installation relies on Adobe Creative Cloud tools

It almost had to happen. Tom Wait’s spooky spoken word song “What’s He Building in There,” is so evocative, so visual that it’s like film that plays in your mind. The challenge, though, is how to actually make a film that does justice to the genius of the original piece.

Ricardo Rivera, visual artist, filmmaker, and founder of Klip Collective, began exploring video projections when he worked as a club VJ in Philadelphia. “In 1998 I was playing around with Photoshop and discovered how to map images to surfaces,” recalls Rivera. “When After Effects added the ability to preview work through a mini DV connection, I discovered that I could easily play content through a digital projector.” Rivera pointed the projector at a wall in his kitchen and used it to canvas the surfaces. “Then I masked all of the elements in the kitchen using Photoshop and created what was, in effect, a multi-channel projection feed through one projector and one feed.”

Once Rivera had figured out the workflow, the possibilities were endless. Today Klip Collective holds two patents on projection mapping, a technique whereby video content is projected onto non-traditional display surfaces such as the sides of buildings, often as site-specific art. Different physical surfaces come to life in unexpected ways in a dance of shapes, color, and imagery, melding the permanence of architecture with the transience of light. These are the kinds of new frontiers for art that digital tools make possible.

“We map with After Effects, tap into a projector with a laptop as a second or third display to get the 1:1 ratio, and then map the resolution,” explains Rivera. “The key is to maintain the 1:1 pixel ratio so that the final result remains visually coherent across the various surfaces and angels. It has to be accurate down to the millimeter for everything to work. It’s a very intense process.”

In addition to working with Photoshop CC and After Effects CC, the team recently switched to Adobe Premiere Pro CC.  “We initially used Final Cut Pro but moving to Premiere Pro makes our workflow so much faster,” says Rivera.” The integration between the Adobe products is fantastic.”

And they’ve had commercial success with the approach as well: the company works with ad agencies or directly with a diverse list of clients, including organizations such as Central Park Conservancy, the New York Public Library, and Temple University to brands like Gillette, NBC Sports, New Balance Nike/Jordan, Target, Urban Outfitters, and more. Visual installations by Klip Collective have been featured in commercials, music videos, and films, as well as a whole range of different corporate, sporting, and social events.

And that’s where Tom Waits comes back into the story. Last year Klip Collective created a brilliant 15-minute projection-mapped installation of What’s He Building in There? as part of the New Frontier exhibit at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Projecting onto a suitably scary-looking building, the imagery took the viewer through the walls revealing strange goings-on in different parts of the structure. Then the walls seem to slide down into the ground, exposing the entire interior of the building. A remarkable piece in it’s own right, it also solves the problem of how to bring Tom Waits’ song to the “big screen” without losing it’s strangeness, or diluting the drama of the original piece with conventional storytelling techniques.

This year, Klip Collective is back at Sundance with a clever pre-roll trailer honoring past festival favorites, which is being shown at all film screenings, making it the only film this year that every Sundance attendee will see. The piece is a narrative, incorporating live action panels and 3D animation projected onto the front of the Egyptian Theater in Park City. A 10-minute story plays out and then loops back into abstract geometric forms against the complex façade of the building. The Egyptian Theater projections themselves will also be included in the Sundance New Frontier exhibit as part of a short called What’s He Projecting In There?

“We used Photoshop for compositing and to create the setting,” says Rivera. “Then we brought that into After Effects and composited everything together to build the base map.” The team filmed all of the live action on green screen. “There are four zones and the characters moved between them.” The Klip crew used Premiere Pro for editing and then moved to After Effects for the final compositing and timing. They used two HD projectors side by side to project the video onto the theater.

“I love how Dynamic Link lets me do a little bit of editing in Premiere Pro, easily go into After Effects for the mapping, and then finish in Premiere Pro, utilizing the alpha channel masks for the piece,” enthuses Rivera. “It’s so much more efficient than if we had to render content every time we wanted to move between our tools.”

And Kilp Collective is already developing ideas for new projects that open up the interiors of buildings to tell their stories. “We have a new project in the works called Vacant America,” says Rivera. “I’ll tour America with my team and do site-specific installations on vacant buildings. For example, we may film a Campbell’s soup can factory and tell a story about that location through the use of projection mapping and the experiences of people who worked there. We’re currently bring partners on board and there’s a lot of interest in this project.”

Learn more about Klip Collective 2013  - or check out the Klip Collective Art Reel 2013

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Posted by: Adam Spiel on Jan 19, 2014 at 7:47:29 pm Sundance, Filmmaking

Adobe at Sundance 2014

Adobe will be at the Sundance Film Festival again this year in support of emerging independent filmmakers and great new cinema.

Adobe will present a special filmmakers panel Friday, January 17th from 3-4:30pm MST at the New Frontiers Microcinema: Engaging Story, Brilliant Visuals, Low Budget - the changing face of independent film. Presenters on the panel include filmmakers Kyle Alvarez, HaZ Dullul, and Jim Mickle. This event will be available as a live webcast for anyone around the world who wants to learn more about how emerging filmmakers are making higher quality films on small, or even micro-budgets.

During the festival, the Adobe Creative Cloud products can be seen at the HP booth at Sundance House. There student filmmakers will be hard at work on short films using the Creative Cloud video applications on HP workstations. Visitors can try out the Creative Cloud tools themselves, including Adobe Premiere Pro CC and After Effects CC on demo machines, and artist and animator Dustin Grella will present a Sundance Animation Hotline using crowd-sourced voicemail messages and Adobe Creative Cloud to create unique interpretive animations.

Throughout the Sundance Film Festival, Meagan Keane and the Adobe TV crew will be covering events and interviewing filmmakers. You can view these videos on the Sundance channel on Adobe TV.

More information about Adobe’s Sundance Film Festival activities and information on Creative Cloud for filmmakers can be found on the Adobe at Sundance Film Festival mobile app. You can also enter to win a free HP ZBook 15” mobile workstation with a DreamColor display and Thunderbolt™ and a one-year Adobe Creative Cloud membership.

Creative Cloud offers a complete creative toolset with regular updates for a low monthly membership. Increasing numbers of filmmakers are relying on Creative Cloud for cost-effective production applications – as well as other creative tools to present and promote their work. We are excited that the majority of films at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival used Adobe software for part or all of their post-production work (133 out of the 187 accepted films). Adobe congratulates all the Sundance 2014 filmmakers!

Register for the Adobe at Sundance filmmaker panel live webcast on January 17

Access the Adobe at Sundance Film Festival app from your mobile device


Posted by: Adam Spiel on Jan 15, 2014 at 1:14:36 pm Sundance, filmmaking

Drew Christie returns to Sundance

Animated short film leverages tools in Adobe Creative Cloud

Drew Christie is a new kind of multimedia artist, as comfortable with pen and ink as he is with computers and creative software. Allergy to Originality, which will be shown at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is a case in point, demonstrating how fluidly he moves between natural media and digital image manipulations.

Combining illustration with animation, the short film riffs on the theme of originality and plagiarism with long passages lifted verbatim from Wikipedia. The piece maintains a natural hand-drawn feel along with the uneven, slightly jumpy cinema of the old silent movies.

“I started creating animation before I knew what animation was,” recalls Christie. “When I was a young child I filmed my Star Wars figures using my dad’s video camera. It just went on from there.”

He’s been using Adobe creative tools since he started to get serious about art and animation. “They’ve just always been there,” he says. “I started experimenting with Photoshop and After Effects when I was in high school.” Along with Adobe Illustrator CC and Flash Professional CC, Christie’s primary filmmaking tools are Adobe Premiere Pro CC and After Effects CC.

Many of Christie’s short films, such as his 2012 Sundance selection, The Song of the Spindle -, are like a visual editorial, offering insight, artistry, and a whole lot of whimsy in a fun, handcrafted package. “I do a lot of non-fiction based work, so I’m often researching topics, so Wikipedia always comes up,” says Christie. “That’s where the idea for Allergy to Originality came from. There’s also a certain style to the language in Wikipedia that I find really funny.

“I’m also quite inspired by Soviet-era animation from the Eastern European countries. It was a thriving filmmaking scene that served as a way to communicate complex and abstract ideas, not just have cute animals go on adventures. For me, animation serves as a bridge between the disparate worlds of research, reportage, memoir, art, illustration and film.”

All of the images in Allergy to Originality began on paper as drawings using pen and ink, which Christie then painted over with acrylics giving the images a washed water-color appearance. “I scanned in each image and brought them into After Effects,” he explains. “In After Effects I color corrected the images for color and lighting continuity and morphed each image into three frames. This gave me ten drawings per second, or 30 fps in filmspeak.”

To enhance the natural-medium look of the film, Christie overlaid paper texture onto the images before rendering out the complete sequence. Then he brought the whole project into Adobe Premiere Pro CC where he synced the audio and added a self-composed music track.

The result is a visually striking and very funny short film depicting a discussion between a theater patron who is lamenting the lack of original ideas in the movies, and the ticket seller who has an answer for everything – courtesy of everyone’s favorite online encyclopedia.

Meanwhile Drew Christie continues as a one-man cottage industry turning out beautiful and humorous content at a remarkable rate. He produces animated TV commercials, album artwork, is working on an illustrated book and creates editorial content for The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and Vanity Fair He even finds time to keep up a lively, and lovingly-illustrated blog on his web site

Christie became a Creative Cloud member a year ago, not long after the new Adobe subscription model was first announced. He found it an easy decision to make since he uses so many of the tools. “I like keeping my applications up-to-date,” he explains. “It’s so easy to go up to the navigation bar and sync to the latest versions. It’s much more streamlined and I love that there are no boxes and serial numbers to keep track of.”

“Adobe is the real deal for filmmaking and gives you all the essential tools,” he continues. “I have used After Effects for 12 years for animation work. It’s like the invisible hand that allowed me to make a film that doesn’t look like it was done on a computer.”

Creative Cloud member Drew Christie is an animator, illustrator, filmmaker, and artist. Learn more at

Adobe will be at Sundance! Join us for a live-streamed filmmaker panel:
Engaging Story, Brilliant Visuals, Low Budget - the changing face of independent film

Friday, January 17, 2014 at 2:00 PM PT -

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Jan 9, 2014 at 2:26:49 pm Sundance, filmmaking

Live from Sundance: Adobe to stream filmmaker panel on January 17

With today’s technologies, low budget no longer means low-quality for independent filmmakers. On January 17, 2014 [] Adobe will present a special panel discussion at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival where filmmakers will discuss their work, their workflows and why they believe that awe-inspiring storytelling and high production value are possible, on modest, or even micro budgets.

The panel will feature Jim Mickle, Kyle Alvarez, and HaZ Dulull. Director Jim Mickle has been earning critical acclaim for his gothic horror film We Are What We Are, which screened at Sundance in 2013 before seeing theatrical release. Writer and director Kyle Alvarez premiered his second feature at Sundance 2013. C.O.G. was released in theaters in September. Visual effects artist and director Hasraf ‘HaZ’ Dulull earned acclaim with his sci-fi short Project Kronos and now has a Hollywood feature film project in development.

We spoke with all three filmmakers about Adobe and the Sundance Film Festival, and asked them what advice they have for aspiring filmmakers today.

Why are you joining the Adobe panel at Sundance?

Kyle Alvarez: What I’ve been most impressed with as I’ve gotten to know the people at Adobe is how much they care about their customers. They want to educate, to create a community around their users. I think it’s so incredible that Adobe participates in, and supports, Sundance.

HaZ Dulull: It’s important for Adobe to take part in events like Sundance. By developing affordable, industry-standard tools that empower people to realize their visions, Adobe is already supporting many filmmakers.

Jim Mickle: I love Sundance. It seems like a great match for Adobe to be here to celebrate the films of this year and interact with the filmmakers of tomorrow.

How are the Adobe video tools helping independent filmmakers?

Mickle: The Creative Cloud applications are leveling the playing field for filmmakers by making postproduction tools more accessible for independent filmmakers.

Alvarez: I think that the use of Premiere Pro in the independent film world is going to start growing more and more each year and so for Adobe to be at the core of Sundance, the center of indie filmmaking in this country, is vital. It’s so great for filmmakers and editors to be finding out they have a really strong option out there in the Creative Cloud products.

What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers today?

Mickle: Just do it! Don't wait for an opportunity to be handed to you. Take whatever tools you have and whatever talent you're surrounded by and make your movie.

Alvarez: Find your own voice. What kind of filmmaker do you want to be? What kinds of stories do you want to tell? So many people jump into making a film before asking themselves these basic questions. Figuring out the core of what you want to communicate as a filmmaker is the first and most important step. Staying true to that instinct will keep you grounded.

HaZ: And yet many aspiring filmmakers get trapped in the thought of waiting to write the perfect screenplay before picking up a camera and shooting stuff. Even shooting test shots with your phone is a good way to get started. It will inspire your writing and make the process real for you.

When I did my first short film, I just shot loads of photo angles I liked and then put them into my editing program and slapped some music on. When I pressed play… it really gave me that butterflies feeling inside. It’s that small cinema magic that you can create yourself that propels you to discover the stories waiting inside you to be told.

Register for free live webcast panel discussion from Sundance:
Engaging Story, Brilliant Visuals, Low Budget - the changing face of independent film

Friday, January 17, 2014 at 2:00 PM PT -

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Jan 8, 2014 at 3:27:15 pm Sundance, filmmakers

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.
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