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Here, We Just Call Them Nuts

That’s a Simpson’s reference, for those of you non-Simpsons addicts out there (from the episode in which they travel to Brazil).

So, it was an incredibly fun & productive trip, very nicely organized by Gabi, Marcos, & Luis at Adobe Brazil.

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Gabi and me (just off the plane) with the Adobe Sao Paulo office on the far-left.

We had a great turnout at the Production Studio Launch Seminar in Sao Paulo, which was held at a conference center atop a shopping mall. There’s a lot of incredible creative stuff going on in Brazil, and one example are the “Novelas” produced by TV Globo, which is the 4th largest TV network in the world (right behind CBS, NBC and ABC).

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On the set of “Bang Bang”, a wild-west themed Novela..

Novelas are basically soap operas, and 3 different ones air on TV Globo each weeknight. The production values are high, and the deadlines are tight.

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The bluescreen on the right is stretched out during shooting so desert backgrounds can be chroma-keyed in during post..

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The orange dots on top of the scenery in the center of this photo are motion-tracked in post so the jungle surroundings can be replaced with more appropriate background elements.

It’s kinda like “Hollywood in a Jungle”. The grounds are incredibly lush, and include everything from huge interior & exterior sets to ultra-modern post production facilities (where they rely heavily on After Effects, Photoshop, & Illustrator), to scenery & costume design. It’s literally a city-within-a-city (that city being Rio), which I got to spend a whopping 9 hours in.

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Marcos & I talk heavy strategy overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Rio before our meeting with TV Globo.

Not a boring place to have to go & work, that’s for sure.

Got to head into the office now (a rare novelty these days), so I’ll share some more stuff from the trip tomorrow.

Boa Noite, and Good Luck

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. . . and this was the end of the trip to Brazil. I had very litlte internet access this past week so I’ll be filling in all the crazy details in the coming days. Lots and lots to tell about.

Greetings from Tokyo

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Wha????

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I’m so freaking jetlagged, I’m just gonna let y’all figure this one out for yourselves.

Bom Dia

Greetings, once again, from the Southern Hemisphere. After 15 hours in the “Surly Skies”, we landed in Sao Paulo on Saturday afternoon, did a bit of sightseeing over the weekend, and I had my first meeting this morning, at TV Globo (Brazil’s largest broadcaster). I visited the on-air graphics department for their news division, which is a large room of about 20 people living & breathing After Effects 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They hadn’t seen AE7 yet, so it was a session of great excitement. It’s really fun to show the new goodies to people for the first time.

Writing to you now from the Adobe office in Sao Paulo. Anne-Lise has the camera, so I can’t show you any pictures yet, but I should be able to upload some tonight. This is one HUGE, incredibly diverse city. There was a big soccer match here yesterday, so we got to see that flavor of insanity first-hand. I can’t imagine what would happen in the US if fans started lighting flares in the stands as they do here all the time. It is a “melting pot” in the stadium, though, because all fans, rich or poor, all sit in the same section and cheer together. Nice.

Oh, This Again

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The view from the UAL business class loungs @ SFO

Just when I thought it was safe to be home again . . .

This should be another fun trip. I’m flying to Sao Paulo, Brazil for the Production Studio Launch Seminar on Tuesday, as well as a press conference and some customer visits. I got a plane ticket for my “better half” Anne-Lise, and we’re going to fly up to Salvador da Bahia to visit some friends after the week’s Adobe activities are done.

Sao Paulo is the third largest city in the world. I’ve been there before and its sheer scale is mind-boggling. There are neighborhoods that run the gamut from shocking poverty to sky’s-the-limit condo high-rises with helecopter landing pads on the roof ( the mega-rich are at too big of a risk of kidnapping to travel by car). The food is really amazing — very unique — and I’m glad we’ll be there on Sunday for the traditional Fejoada lunch when the restaurants are always packed with families eating rich Fejoada stew & Pao de Quejo (small cheese bread puffs made with tapicoa flour), and drinking Capirhinas & Guarana.

15 hours of flying time ahead, connecting at O’Hare. No bussiness-class seat-bed this time, just the standard UAL deal. I’ll catch up with y’all from the Southern Hemisphere (for the 2nd time this month).

It’s a Breeze

Today I presented my second “Breezo”, which is a Breeze Presentation (Breeze+Preso=Breezo). My teeth are aching just from thinking about trying to read that last sentence out loud.

Breeze is a product from the former Macromedia side of the house, and it allows for some really sophisticated real-time collaborative conferencing over IP.

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The Breeze interface, in this morning’s “Breezo” to Macromedia User Group leaders

Today I showed After Effects to Macromedia User Group leaders and other company partners — it all happened at 9 in the morning Pacific Time (where I live), and I was barely awake, sitting at my kitchen table drinking coffee, and speaking “& showing AE to lord knows how many people, all over the world. It’s a really strange experience since it’s just you alone talking for an hour, and then at the end you do a brief Q&A in Breeze’s Chat Pot, and it occurs to you that all of these people have just been listening to every word you’ve said, and seen everything you’ve done on your computer screen the whole time.

As you’d imagine, Adobe has adopted Breeze for all our internal meetings. It’s a really fascinating piece of technology.

Avast, ye Scurvy Scallywags!

Adobe Audition is the 7th most pirated software program in the world.

Other Adobe apps are up there on the list as well, as you can imagine. Believe it or not, I’m not about to launch into a rant on software piracy, but I just wanted to share some thoughts on the issue.

We all pirate intellectual property at one point or another, be it a song download, or copying software, or whatever. Of course, I’ve done it myself (although not the song downloads, I’ve always had a stick up my rear-end about that one). But at the point where you’re making money off the intellectual property, it’s time to buck up.

Big software companies like Adobe make good money, and piracy is something that comes with the territory. But to me, it’s more of an ethical issue. I’ve always made my living from intellectual property — first music then video & film, now software. As a personal thing, I couldn’t live with myself if I were not paying for the right to have my favorite band sing to me on my I-Pod, or for the tools that enable me to make a living. If you make a living from software, the time has come to buy it. Even if you’ve got low cash flow there’s always a way to make it happen. By doing this you truly become part of the “ecosystem” of creative software.

Things like music and software don’t have a the same type of “tangibility consciousness” in the general public to mean the same thing as a “hard good.” So it’s socially acceptable, albeit illegal., to pirate. People getting rich off intellectual property have no right to bitch and moan, but it’s really not about that. It’s about a mindset that needs to change — and it will, over time, as the global economy becomes more IP driven over the coming years.

Stepping down from the soapbox now . . .

NAB Sneak Preview

This year, I’ve got the conspicuous gig of programming the main theatre stage for our NAB exhibit. It’s gonna be a big one for us, hot on the heels of an enormously successful Production Studio launch, and we’re lucky to have a crack lineup of Adobe customers & product experts to show you what people all over the world have been doing with our products.

I can’t give up the goods on who’s presenting, but I can tell you that our friend Jacob Rosenberg of Formika Films will be with us once again. Jacob is one of the worlds’ foremost Premiere Pro experts, and he’ll be showing several projects that he’s done the past year with Adobe tools.

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The video “Cactusflower”, by John Gold – directed by Jacob Rosenberg and post-produced entirely with Adobe Production Studio

Jacob Rosenberg and our own Jason Levine collaborated on “Cactusflower” (screencap above), using Adobe Audition to record performances live on set, Adobe Premiere Pro for editing & color correction, Adobe After Effects for compositing, and Adobe Photoshop for creating the background plate for one of the shots. Click here to watch the video in glorious Flash Video 8.

Jacob shot in HD, but had the camera on its side to get long vertical plates to use in compositing. Come by our exhibit and see how he put this remarkable video together.

DVD to AVI (or Quicktime)

I get asked this one all the time — how to get video from a DVD into an editable form.

First off, you need to understand that commercial DVDs (i.e. Hollywood Films, TV Series, & the like) are copy protected with CSS (Content Scramble System) and/or Macrovision. If you’re trying to rip a copy-protected DVD to an AVI or Quicktime, the only way to do it is with illegal software.

Now if you’re honestly trying to get non-copywrited material from a DVD to an editable file format (as I myself had to do today) there are many companies out there that make conversion utilities. But I found out something today that I didn’t know — Adobe Premiere Elements has this capability build in! (thanks, Giles, for turning me on to this).

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The Adobe Premiere Elements Media Downloader, importing video from a DVD

It’s simply a matter of going to the File menu and selecting Add Media>From DVD Camera or Removable Drive. That opens the Media Downloader (above), which is very straighforward and intuitive (select the DVD and let ‘er rip)!

I learn something new every day at this job.

BTW — I picked up my Giants season tix today. Still a Mets fan, but I had to adopt the local team as well (and I have a birthright anyhow as the whole reason I’m a Mets fan is because my dad was a Giants fan back when they played in Manhattan. When the Giants moved to SF, he was without a team until the Mets started up in 1962. So I was born a Mets fan even though I grew up in Yankees country. So I guess I suffered enough with the Mets to feel too guilty about it . . .)

Rewind

The past few days in NYC were like a time capsule. Going back to the old ‘hood, seeing friends & family, and all that sort of stuff — there you expect that kind of feeling. But the benefit show I played @ Bowery Ballroom on Saturday night was a timewarp of a completely different nature.

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Tim Cloherty & I during The Rake’s Progress’ reunion on Saturday night (you can just see drummer Pete Klinger’s face to the right of Tim”s belt).

Walking into soundcheck was like stepping into a twisted kind of high-school reunion. Nearly all the bands on the bill had members of The Rake’s Progress or The Bogmen in them. We all toured together back in the early-mid ’90′s and the stories of on-the-road-hijinks could fill volumes (in fact, Bill Campion [nee Vic Thrill] of the Bogmen just optioned a movie screenplay to a major studio for some big bucks — kudos Bill).

The backstage scene was just like it was back in the old days — a beer-swigging family singalong (the “show within the show”), and all the onstage performances were stellar. We sold the joint out (that’s 625 people) and raised somewhere in the neighborhood of $15,000 for the education fund of Tim’s nieces & nephews who lost their dad Tom Cloherty to a heart attack earlier this year.

The “Rake’s Progress Reunion” was a blast — we haven’t been onstage together since 1999. But it all fell back into place instantly — I guess 10 years, 2 albums, and over 1,000 shows can do that to you. I turned to Tim at one point during the show and said “what the hell is going on?”. It was 1995 all of a sudden.

Today, back in SF, it’s very much 2006. I’m editing the video of the Sydney Production Studio Seminar, preparing some stuff for NAB, and yet again trying to shake off some serious jetlag.