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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Film and music converge on and off screen at SXSW 2014

Documentary on Stones Throw Records showing in Austin ahead of theatrical release

Since 2009, Rob Bralver and Jeff Broadway of Gatling Pictures have worked together on documentary films that tell stories of social importance. Their latest project, OUR VINYL WEIGHS A TON (THIS IS STONES THROW RECORDS), explores the history of Stones Throw Records, a record label committed to independence and artistic freedom. The film—featuring interviews with Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Common, Questlove, Talib Kweli, Mike D (The Beastie Boys), and Tyler the Creator—premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June 2013 and is now showing at SXSW 2014.

Adobe: How did you get your start in filmmaking?
Broadway: Rob and I went to college together and as we were finishing school, we started scheming about how we could get into the film business and not be gophers. We saw documentary as an access point. Our first film, CURE FOR PAIN: The Mark Sandman Story, was about a family member of mine so we had direct access to a compelling story. It was a great first experience, and we've now been working together for five years.

Adobe: What made you pursue a documentary on Stones Throw Records?
Broadway: I grew up listening to hip hop music. Stones Throw Records was something I’d followed since I was a teenager and I’m still a big fan. I knew that there was a demand to know more about the subject, so I approached Peanut Butter Wolf, the founder of Stones Throw Records. We ultimately picked up a production that was started and stopped by another group, and two years later we had a completed film.

Adobe: What makes the Stones Throw Records story unique?
Broadway: The label has a lot of cult, die-hard fans in niche pockets all around the world. This was an opportunity to make a film about the collective of artists who have been so influential over mainstream culture. It’s interesting to hear from the artists about how they have been affected by the Stones Throw collective and aesthetic over the past 20 years.

Adobe: How was the learning curve switching to Premiere Pro?
Bralver: I edited two feature films before this one, the first with Final Cut Pro and the second with Avid. All editing programs perform similar functions, but Premiere Pro offers so much more. The best analogy I can come up with is that working with Final Cut Pro and Avid is like playing an old video game that only lets you march down certain hallways and you don’t have the whole world available to you. Premiere Pro is like playing Grand Theft Auto where you have everything available to you and it is so much more inspiring.

Adobe: Tell us about the use of Premiere Pro on OUR VINYL WEIGHS A TON.
Bralver: For this project we incorporated a lot of motion graphics, so the integration between Premiere Pro and After Effects was critical. In Final Cut Pro or Avid, including these same elements would have added many more hours and would not have been practical. We like to handle every aspect of production, including creating our own graphics, so Premiere Pro is the only option that makes sense for us.

Adobe: Are there any specific features that stand out to you?
Bralver: I’m a younger editor and the Premiere Pro interface just makes more sense to me and is much more intuitive than the other NLEs. It’s clean and easy to figure out how to do everything. With Premiere Pro, everything is open to you and you’re not constantly trying to overcome technical obstacles that interrupt the creative process.
Broadway: On the post end, we were recently creating Blu-ray discs. It was so easy to learn how to kick out from Premiere Pro, encode, build the disc image, and create a Blu-ray disc via Encore.
Bralver: Ease of use on the back end is very important. A lot of people, even experienced editors, run in to trouble because they can create something on the timeline but can’t figure out how to export it in different formats. Premiere Pro is the most modern NLE in terms of making the backend simple.

Adobe: How did you incorporate visual effects in the film?
Bralver: We worked with some animators and a motion graphics artist. The animators mixed stop motion-style content with the layering possibilities in After Effects. They would create settings from found materials such as roof tiles or construction paper, photograph them, scan in drawings of cast members, mix them together, and then exploring the 3D depth possibilities of moving in and around objects in After Effects. The motion graphics artist added green screen video elements to layered photographs, integrating motion video with still images in an interesting way.

Adobe: What other tools did you use from Creative Cloud?
Broadway: We used Photoshop for photo layering and worked a lot between Photoshop and After Effects. The graphic design teams also used Illustrator for key art and one sheet materials.

Adobe: What do you think of the Creative Cloud membership model?
Bralver: It’s been great for us. We’re much happier paying $50/month and getting regular updates that don’t cause massive headaches between project files. Everything keeps going smoothly with Creative Cloud, and it is preferable to paying a lot of money all at once for a new version. We have several people working on content at once, so the ability to install the software on multiple machines has also been extremely helpful.

Adobe: What’s next for the film after SXSW?
Broadway: SXSW is a great place of convergence for the worlds we’re coming from—music and film. Leading into SXSW, Peanut Butter Wolf has been touring with other Stones Throw artists, playing 10 North American markets and doing sneak peeks, Q&A sessions, and hosting parties in each market. Everything will culminate at SXSW with an after party following the third and final screening on March 15th. The film releases theatrically the following week in New York and Los Angeles. From there it will screen wherever it is requested in local markets and on April 15th it releases on DVD and Blu-ray and digitally on iTunes.

Watch the trailer

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Posted by: Adam Spiel on Mar 7, 2014 at 11:41:46 am Creative Cloud, Customer

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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