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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.

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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

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

Once in a lifetime experience in Brazil

As a senior engineering manager at Adobe, I’ve been very lucky to visit broadcasters, post houses, and other customers all around the world. I really appreciate learning about how customers use our products and what types of content they produce. Getting to know the people and the cultures during these trips is always my favorite part.

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Brazil for that big international soccer (of course I mean football) event that just concluded. Adobe Premiere Pro CC was selected as the editing platform for the event, so we put together a team to go on site at the IBC (International Broadcast Centre) to learn from the workflow and the editors. Learning about how they build the production and how the people setup for such a huge event was very interesting.

I could tell from the moment I landed that the people in Brazil were excited about the event, everyone was obviously soccer crazed! The IBC was like nothing I have ever seen. I have been to broadcast networks around the world but this was very different. It was a huge presence that took over an entire convention center with three halls filled with broadcast networks and equipment.

It was all setup just for the event and everyone was working together to make it a success. Many people moved to Brazil for months at a time to bring the event to life, which was something I hadn’t realized. I enjoyed talking with the editors about other worldwide sporting events they’ve been involved with in similar ways.

To support all of the people working there, the IBC had restaurants, laundry services, drug stores, and even an ice cream shop. There were buses all organized to take you from the IBC to wherever you wanted to go. It was definitely an amazing logistical effort. Of course there were TV screens all over the IBC showing every game that was on, including an 8K TV from NHK Japan.

From a broadcast perspective, it was impressive to see how many games and how many feeds per game were being captured. There was so much video available on a daily basis. The production team not only covered all of the games but also produced player profiles, supplemental content from around Brazil, as well as a range of graphics. The amount of content was enormous. And then they turned around the spots in mere hours with all that content and it looked amazing. All of the people working on the project were so talented and productive.

Of course, it was also great to see the editors working with Adobe Creative Cloud applications, from Adobe Premiere Pro CC and After Effects CC to Audition CC and even SpeedGrade CC to get the creative looks they wanted. It was essential that we supported growing files, especially AVCi100. This was the quality they wanted and it is a very demanding format. Over the past year, we worked very hard to optimize AVCi100 so it would be a fluid editing experience for the project and it was great to see our hard work pay off.

Many of the editors work with Avid and Final Cut Pro, and they really appreciated the high performance and stability that Premiere Pro offered. They loved learning about the keyboard shortcuts and streamlined editing tools, and commented on how easy it was to focus on being creative without the software getting in the way.

The editors also seemed to really appreciate the native workflows supported through Premiere Pro CC. No matter what the producer or other content providers gave them, they were able to drop it on the timeline and start working. This was different than past years when they first needed to ingest that media and wait. Integration among the applications was also something they really loved. After Effects was heavily used and the ability to start in Premiere Pro and Dynamic Link to After Effects saved them a lot of time.

Members of the Premiere Pro team were in Brazil to make sure the use of Premiere Pro CC was successful and that we secured valuable feedback that we can use to make the product better. But it was hard not to get caught up in the excitement of the event. I lived in Germany for about six years so I learned to enjoy watching football and the fans during the 2002 games. In Brazil, we watched almost every game at the IBC, as they were on every screen, but it didn’t compare to when I got the opportunity to attend the Chile vs. Spain game.

The stadium was amazing and the organization of the whole event was perfect. The fans were all very happy and cheered for the entire 90 minute game. They were overwhelmingly rooting for Chile, which worked out as they won. It was my first time going to a live game and the energy at the football stadium is not comparable. It was much more emotional and louder than I expected after only going to U.S. sporting events. The game was great and really topped off the Rio experience. It made me appreciate why people around the world love the sport.

The overall feeling in Brazil was great and the people were very friendly. Everywhere you went you could feel football was in the air. Going to the beach in Copacabana, which I didn’t have much time for, was quite an experience. There were so many people from all around the world. The whole beach was set up to celebrate with large screens everywhere. I even had a few caipirinhas at the beach until sunrise with some of the team, which was lots of fun.

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David McGavran is the Senior Engineering Manager for Adobe Premiere Pro. He has been at Adobe longer than he can remember. Dave has worked on many of the video apps at Adobe and is known for his work on Dynamic Link.Unfortunately, as an engineer, Dave isn't clever enough to write a funny bio so this will have to do.

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Jul 14, 2014 at 3:44:50 pmComments (1) Creative Cloud

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