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Karrot Animation expands 2D possibilities

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

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



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

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


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

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


Sarah & Duck Character animation in Adobe After Effects CC

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


Sarah & Duck final edit in Adobe Premiere Pro CC

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


Sarah & Duck storyboard

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


Dynamic trimming in Adobe Premiere Pro CC for Sarah & Duck

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


Audio editing in Adobe Audition CC for Sarah & Duck

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

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

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


Editing Sarah & Duck in Adobe Premiere Pro CC

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


Creation of background for Sarah & Duck in Adobe Photoshop CC

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

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

Watch the interview with Jamie Badminton






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

Philip Bloom follows passion and earns passionate following

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

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



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

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



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

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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch the interview with Philip Bloom






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

Hyper-local daily programming from London Live

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch the interview with Bryn Balcome






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

Red Bull Media House gives wings to video innovation

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

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



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


Mark Mathews in Sydney - 2014

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

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


Red Bull BMX Hero Tour 2014 UK

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

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


Red Bull Battle of the Sund 2014 Sweden

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

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

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

Watch the interview with Andreas (Andi) Gall






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