When the Creative Cloud Learn team decided to create in-app tutorial content for Creative Cloud members (a highly visual audience with equally high expectations), it knew that the accompanying imagery would have to be as compelling as the instruction.
The team turned toward its long-standing relationships with the designers, illustrators and artists who use Creative Cloud and asked a group of them to illustratively-interpret a handful of the features in Adobe’s applications—content that would tell the story of what was being taught but that would also stand on its own. They were staggered by the results. This five-part series is a close-up look at the artists and their approach to crafting this conceptual art:
First up is Tad Carpenter, a Kansas City, Missouri-based illustrator and designer who runs design and branding studio Tad Carpenter Creative.
Tell us a bit about your studio and what you love most about being in a creative profession.
I’ve been working professionally as a designer for ten years and opened the studio five years ago—with a focus on creating brand identities, packaging and illustrative-based design. We bring messages to life through smart, strong and honest work for a wide range of clients. What I love most about what we do: Our work is our play, and our play is our work.
Illustration often involves the conceptual interpretation of a concrete idea (a story, a product, an event); was it any different creating art to define a feature in an application?
No. I actually approached this project very much as an editorial-based job. I was given several feature topics and my job was to interpret them, in literal or abstract ways, in design form. It was a blast. Some of our concepts I think are easier to piece together with the topic and others take some thought…but that’s what made this project so fun.
Do you remember the art direction you received from the Learn team? Was it hands-off? Or hands-on?
Very hands off. They showed great trust in my ideas and overall concepts. They of course had input and ideas but ultimately they allowed me to paint the picture that supported their product.
Were you aware of the Creative Cloud Learn content before starting this project?
I’m embarrassed to say I wasn’t. But since working on it I’ve watched and read a lot of content in the Learn section. Adobe’s tools are so deep and keeping up with upgrades and additions can be difficult but Adobe’s made it easier than ever to learn new tricks and pick-up on things you’ve never used before.
Of the illustrations you created, which is your favorite? Why?
That’s a hard choice but I have to say the image for Master Pages in Adobe Muse. When I think about developing interactive content and how best to illustrate that, it starts to hurt my head: Designing a website entails creating an entirely new experience for someone, with the involvement of a lot of moving parts, structures, and collaborators all working toward one common goal. Looking at it that way, Adobe Muse starts to sound a little like a musical conductor… leading a group that’s working together to create one beautiful experience, but not just musicians create this experience… shapes, colors, abstract thought, ideas, are what it takes to build and make an interactive experience. It’s what designers and developers do everyday.
Of the topics you created illustrations for, which was the most problematic? How did you solve it?
For sure the Hyperlinks in Adobe Muse was the most difficult. My approach was to show a whimsical vehicle that takes people where they need to go. It’s a very literal approach to what a link actually does but the vehicle has lots of wires and buttons and a space-age look—as if it were traveling through tubes and wires inside a device.
Where does your creative process begin? On paper? Or screen?
Every single project I work on starts out with pencil and paper. I start by creating a bunch of thumbnails. I move quickly with a bunch of scenarios for the illustration. I don’t worry about accuracy, or anything else for that matter, and focus purely on concept and idea generation. I then pick out a couple I think are the most successful and refine them as sketches.
Technically speaking I scan in my final pencil sketch and use that as a guide by placing it on a layer and using it as a guide to start creating my final piece. I include a lot of hand-painting textures, lines and splatters but make those separately based on the project and bring them into Illustrator CC.
In one word describe how you feel when staring at that blank canvas.
Do you feel like your art could change how people perceive the features in Creative Cloud and/or aid their interpretation of how to use them?
Ultimately what I hope is people see my interpretation of each CC feature and it inspires them to dig deeper into the content—either because they responded to my piece, hated my piece, or were just interested in the content. Regardless I hope my illustration intrigues users enough to keep learning about the features in Creative Cloud.
Did the Learn content entice you to try applications you’d never used before?
Absolutely. After watching and reading content in the Learn section I immediately began exploring and playing with applications I’d used before and others for the first time.
Spoiler Alert: Like reading the last page of a book, hearing how a movie ends, or learning the answer to a hard-to-solve puzzle… Tad was gracious enough to offer insight into the concepts behind his art:
New Document in Illustrator CC: I landed where I did because I like the concept that what we create takes over our worlds. I know when I start a new project it’s all I can think about. All the sketches, paint textures, and notes from meetings literally cover my desk. When we create a new file in Illustrator CC it takes over our world, seeping out of us and into the software. We are what we make.
Auto-trace and Resolution in Illustrator CC: When I was given this topic I immediately liked the idea of emphasizing the heightened resolution Illustrator CC now offers in auto-tracing. I very rarely use auto-trace but I do understand its purpose and how important resolution is to the people who use it. I wanted to show this in a simple manner. Showing how everything else might have looked one way but when using what Adobe now offers it can look so much better and different.
Arrowheads in Illustrator CC: Arrowheads are often forgotten in the large amount of tools Illustrator CC offers. Simple in nature they’re often used as accents. But arrowheads, and simple, strong, support shapes like them, can really bring creations to life. When I first started pencil sketching ideas, I really liked the idea of creating an image made entirely of arrowheads—not as a support players but as the stars. I love the mid-century feel a lot of the arrowhead shapes naturally have and wanted to play this idea up more in my color choices and overall layout. I drew some of the arrowheads but many of them are provided in Illustrator CC.
Earlier this summer Apple announced that it’s working on the next release of OS X, code-named “Yosemite.” Apple is currently sharing access to the pre-release builds via a Beta program for developers, and may expand access to the beta in the future.
We wanted to share some guidance for anyone considering installing and using Creative Cloud desktop applications on pre-release versions of Yosemite:
We’re working hard to ensure that our Creative Cloud desktop applications work great on the next version of OS X. However, currently, running Creative Cloud desktop applications on the pre-release versions of Yosemite is not supported. Applications may install and run, but you may experience unexpected errors and issues. If you decide to install and run apps such as Photoshop CC or Illustrator CC on the Yosemite OS, we recommend that you backup your work, and also that you not use the apps for production work just yet.
You can find more information here.
Mobile application marketing firm Hiiir Inc. adopts Adobe Creative Cloud for teams.
Founded in 2008, Hiiir Inc. is the first marketing company in Taiwan to provide integrated social media, Internet, and mobile marketing. Its marketing tool, Timely, is enjoyed by more than 3.8 million members and generates 15 million page views daily. Over the past few years, Hiiir has become Taiwan’s largest professional mobile application marketing company, serving clients like Coca-Cola, Sushi Express, and convenience store chain Family Mart.
Based on evolving market trends and user behaviors, Hiiir began to strategize and look for the next potential product with significant profit. With that, General Manager John Yeh invested marketing and technical resources to help enterprise clients emphasize emerging mobile tools and cloud development. The company also released a mobile business app, as well as a cuisine and travel app featuring a location-based service. These products have attracted attention from international enterprises and garnered an additional US$3.33 million investment from FetNet, one of the top three telecom companies in Taiwan.
Integrated applications help bring design to the extreme
Recently, Hiiir adopted Adobe Creative Cloud for teams to give employees anytime, anywhere access to the latest design tools, while also allowing them more time for the creativity and brainstorming that result in products that exceed customer expectations. Adobe Creative Cloud for teams saves Hiiir on software purchasing costs and simplifies the deployment process significantly and innovations in Adobe Creative Cloud software have inspired Hiiir to offer better cloud services for their customers in the future. According to a 2013 survey announced by Taiwan Network Information Center, 77.09% of the Taiwan population use the Internet, which translates to opportunities for many web design companies.
Hiiir had been a loyal user of Adobe Creative Suite software for years. “At Hiiir, Adobe Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Edge Animate, and Illustrator are widely used for web and mobile app design. Multiple applications are required when designing artwork, which influences the end results, and Adobe Creative Cloud for teams significantly improves integration among the applications and maximizes their effectiveness,” said Neil Lee, chief technology officer, Hiiir.
Creative Cloud for teams integrates various desktop applications, including Adobe Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC, and Dreamweaver CC. Users can synchronize files, share design concepts with customers and colleagues, and securely access files anywhere from cloud storage via mobile devices. Additionally, Creative Cloud for teams enables web design teams to establish and publish websites, create mobile applications, design iPad publications, and produce responsive content.
Streamlining IT management and increasing efficiency
Hiiir’s design, product, and marketing departments, as well as its front-end engineers, all use Adobe creative software and tools. In the past, information technicians had to spend more than 1 hour per user to complete desktop application installations for up to 70 employees; even with 3 or 4 dedicated technicians, the efforts sometimes required overtime to finish setting-upapplications. This increased operational costs and impacted team efficiency.
“With business growth, Hiiir headcount has grown significantly, adding to 250 employees and creating heavy burdens for information technicians. Adobe Creative Cloud for teams saves human resources and time,” said Lee. “With the centralized procurement and management platform, information technicians can focus on Creative Cloud for teams application deployment and finish each installation in less than ten minutes. The installation for 8 to 10 staff can be done in under 40 minutes. With the increased efficiency, we need just one information technician to meet the demands of the whole company.”
Adobe Creative Cloud for teams integrates desktop applications and the latest updates providing all the required business features and services for collaboration. The Adobe Creative Cloud Packager centralizes and streamlines the software management and deployment process and helps information technicians select specific applications for groups or individuals—all easily done through an intuitive interface.
The most noteworthy advantage of adopting Adobe Creative Cloud for teams is the boost to work efficiency. “After creating accounts online, staff can install the latest version of applications themselves after login,” says Lee. “This significantly reduces installation time and effectively increases work efficiency; we keep improving the quality of our apps for customers by showcasing our unlimited creativity and best interface designs to the users.”
Maximizing innovation and creativity
Hiiir has transformed from an Internet to a mobile application company. With its design requirements, Hiiir relies heavily on Adobe creative software. “Adobe applications are mainly used for web design, mobile app interface design, and interactive Flash websites,” Lee said, “and as the company scales up, we expect our reliance on Adobe software to increase.”
“Hiiir is an innovative company, and we definitely want to choose the latest and best tools,” said Yeh. “With Adobe Creative Cloud for teams, we don’t need to worry about application updates. By using it, we’ve simplified the working process and made procurement planning and budget management easier as we grow. When all departments fully use the latest creative and design solutions from Adobe, it generates more profits for Hiiir.”
Adobe Creative Cloud for teams enables creativity and collaboration. Each staff member at Hiir is assigned 100GB of cloud storage. Team members can be more efficient in editing, collecting feedback, and collaborating in the cloud. Design teams at Hiiir can develop and create for various devices without limitations. Adobe Creative Cloud for teams not only reduces operational costs, but also greatly increases work efficiency for high-quality product design.
Read the Hiiir Inc. case study.
An interview with Premiere Pro CC product manager Al Mooney.
Al Mooney, senior product manager for Premiere Pro CC, has a long history in digital video editing and has played his part in the evolution of the NLE. Mooney grew up in the Southwest of England and studied music and sound recording at the University of Surrey. Starting out as a broadcast engineer, he went on to work for Digidesign (part of Avid Technology) and then Apple in the UK in sales and business development work. Mooney has been product manager of Premiere Pro since 2010.
With the launch of the 2014 versions of the Creative Cloud applications, I sat down with Al to talk about video editing and the past, present, and future of Premiere Pro CC.
How did you get into the world of film and broadcast production?
The original plan was to be an audio engineer in music. I studied audio engineering and, as part of my degree, worked a year for a German broadcaster as a sound designer. While there, it became pretty obvious that working in recording studios wasn’t for me—in part because I quite like things like daylight and eating. So when I finished my studies I went to work as a music product specialist at Digidesign. My interests evolved from there: I first got excited about audio for pictures, and then pictures themselves.
You’ve been the Premiere Pro product manager since CS 5.5. What were your objectives for the application when you were overseeing that release?
It was pretty clear to me—and I don’t think I was alone in this—that we had a great engine but a pretty ugly car. I wanted to make driving Premiere Pro delightful; I wanted to make people swoon when they looked at it.
Where are we today in the evolution of the NLE?
In terms of professionals, there are a number of big themes we’re seeing. More and more editors need to work with higher-resolution footage, most notably 4K but sometimes higher than that. Editors expect to be able to sit in front of their NLE and cut 4K, or even 5K, just like they do with SD or HD. And they should be able to do that! Making it work should be our problem, not theirs. Whenever an editor has to think about the technology, rather than the creative task, I think we’ve failed.
Another interesting theme is color, which has become such an important part of the entire workflow, and no longer something that people just think about at the end. Editors expect to be able to work creatively with color from the very beginning of the process.
Aside from the needs of established professionals, there’s also a whole new group of people becoming creative with video who aren’t necessarily using NLE software to do it. I think the way people express themselves with software like Vine and Instagram is fascinating. So while I think there will always be a place for high-end, deep video editing apps, we’re seeing exciting changes in the way people use video in general.
Where do you see the 2014 release of Premiere Pro CC in terms of that bigger picture?
We’ve been focusing on higher resolution workflows for a very long time, and we make improvements every release. Alongside new format support, we’re always working on providing our customers with the best performance possible. Like I said, editors expect to be able to cut 4K just like they can HD, and the addition of the GPU debayer for RED media enables editors to cut RED incredibly fluidly.
In terms of color, we also made big improvements to Direct Link, which allows editors to dip into a powerful grading application at any point during the edit, without relinking or exporting anything. You can just open the project in SpeedGrade CC and work with it. I’m really proud of what we did with that workflow.
There’s been a lot of talk about the tighter integration with After Effects CC with new features like Live Text templates and Masking and Tracking. Why was this important?
We care a great deal about listening to and engaging with editors, and we heard loud and clear that there are certain effects-related tasks that editors often need to do many times a day. The Dynamic Link workflow between After Effects CC and Premiere Pro CC is extremely powerful but for things you need to do often and quickly it can be too much effort to go back and forth between applications. It wastes time and takes you out of the “editing mindset.” Also not every editor knows their way around After Effects CC. Editing text in AE comps is something many editors wanted to be able to do in the NLE. And it’s the same with masking and tracking—we heard that blurring of faces and license plates was hugely important, so that’s what we focused on.
I’m hugely proud of the way our engineers built Masking and Tracking into Premiere Pro CC. While we knew that blurring was crucial, our teams put the new functionality at the core of our effects engine so that the feature is capable of so much more than just blurring things out.
Are there any other features in the 2014 release that you are excited about?
I think the ability to have multiple Media Browser panels might be one of the best sleeper features. You can have as many as you need, browsing to your media directories, or, perhaps even more usefully, browsing to different projects. It’s a bit like having the Project Panel of another project open in a Media Browser, and as such you start to see a pretty powerful multiple project workflow. We also added Favorites to the Media Browser which I think a lot of people will find very helpful.
What are some of the other highlights for you in the most recent release of the Adobe video applications?
I mentioned improved Direct Link and I think that’s a huge feature for editors. I want them to be really comfortable in SpeedGrade CC and it’s really getting to a stage where SpeedGrade feels like an extension of Premiere Pro. Also I’d be crazy not to point out the spill suppressor technology in After Effects CC, which has caused many jaws to hit the floor during demos.
From a product development point of view, what do you think of Creative Cloud so far?
It’s so much fun, to be honest! This is really about the evolution of software itself. Changes come so fast these days and Creative Cloud gives us a framework to continually develop the tools, rather than being limited to a rigid twelve- or eighteen-month schedule. Now we can release features when they’re ready—and when our users need them.
How do you feel the Creative Cloud model has worked for users?
Professional users need tools that keep up with their world. In a fast moving industry, the Creative Cloud model has been an ideal fit for Premiere Pro—well all our video apps, really. Creative Cloud brings us much closer to our customers and product development is closely tied to user feedback. It’s much more of a partnership now with a lot more ongoing contact than we used to have.
Overall Creative Cloud membership is growing faster than we expected. Video pros in particular have been upgrading to Creative Cloud at an incredible rate. I’m really proud of that.
You’ve had plenty of personal experience with competing NLEs. Why should users consider switching to Premiere Pro CC now?
There are so many reasons! Our industry-leading native format support. Our amazing integration with other Adobe apps like Photoshop CC, After Effects CC, SpeedGrade CC. Our rich, diverse third-party ecosystem. Our speed of innovation. My cat. The list goes on!
What do you love most about your work now?
I love how engaged we are with the community. I adore speaking at user group events, showing off what we’ve been working on and gathering feedback from editors. I also have to call out the amazing team I work with—the amount of skill and knowledge in the Premiere Pro team is mind boggling. I’m so lucky to be part of this group of people.
Where do you hope to take Premiere Pro CC in the future?
To infinity and beyond! I want this product to be synonymous with video production. I’m jealous that Photoshop has become a verb—I want people to say, “I Premiere Pro’d it!”
Get a free trial of Premiere Pro CC
As users update their Adobe Creative Cloud apps with the 2014 release they’ll be greeted with more than just new features… the splash screens for their favorite apps are also new and feature inspiring artwork from some talented designers. For anyone who hasn’t updated yet (or even for those who have) here’s a preview of a few of the new screens, along with the the inside scoop from the artists who created them:
Kylli Sparre—Adobe Photoshop CC
A self-taught designer, Kylli Sparre was attracted to Adobe Photoshop because of the endless options it gave her. According to Sparre, who describes her style as dreamlike, symbolic, and sometimes surreal, the limitlessness of image-making helped to open up her creativity. The image featured on the Adobe Photoshop CC splash screen is one of Sparre’s personal projects. She knew she wanted to combine the photo of the woman with the location shot, but none of the things she tried worked until she noticed an interesting connection between the two images. After adjusting the angle she was able to emphasize the connection with extraordinary results.
Geso/Pablo IA—Adobe After Effects CC
With a style that straddles art and design, Pablo Iglesias enjoys exploring all kinds of visual disciplines, most recently focusing on more live and video art that combines a range of creative disciplines. For the Adobe After Effects CC splash screen, he first created some graphic elements in Photoshop—a kind of digital illustration recreating a transparent prism with iridescent colors. Next, he generated some video loops with the image in Adobe Premiere Pro CC, using different movements and mirror effects. He then played the loops in a program he uses for live video performance, applied effects such as zoom, RGB delays, and 3D deformations, and captured it all with Syphon. The last step was to make the final edit and composition in Adobe Premiere Pro. The After Effects CC splash screen is one of the frames he captured from the final video.
Črtomir Just—Adobe Muse CC
The design for the Adobe Muse CC splash screen was the result of an experiment. Artist Črtomir Just typically begins all projects by sketching, but moves quickly into the digital realm, working with Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign CC. For this project, he was trying out some new things on his own time, working with abstract 3D shapes that started to remind him of real-world animals. He developed the idea into a series of abstract yet realistic forms.
Nick Taylor—Adobe Flash Professional CC
Nick Taylor’s generative projects tend to follow a similar pattern. He starts by creating several short snippets of code, and when the code produces an output he likes, he’ll flesh it out into a larger program. He often imports vectors from Illustrator or raster images from Photoshop and manipulates them with code. He’ll tweak parameters to adjust color, scale, and composition, save unique PDF files, and take those he likes back into Illustrator or Photoshop for additional adjustments.
The Adobe Flash Professional CC splash screen is one of a number of images spawned from a single program. The program began as a very basic experiment involving a pair of individually-rotating vectors, with the second vector attached to the end of the first. It was inspired by the motion of a double pendulum. Taylor connected a number of these vector-pairs and introduced mouse tracking, allowing him to “draw” unique compositions onto the canvas. He finished the piece in Photoshop with texture overlays and color correction.
Holger Lippman—Adobe Premiere Pro CC and Adobe Audition CC
German artist Holger Lippman’s likes to incorporate rhythm, repetition, and iteration into his projects and says that his artwork is heavily influenced by electronic music. His work process starts with simple code that grows over weeks, and months, even years. The piece of art that appears on the Adobe Audition CC splash screen was based on the simple Peter De Jong map equations: x’ = sin(a * y) – cos(b * x) and y’ = sin(c * x) – cos(d * y)
The artwork chosen for the Adobe Premiere Pro CC splash screen was created using Adobe Flash Professional and programming. Lippman used an iteration algorithm consisting of a three-sided pseudo cube within an X Y matrix. The algorithm is divided down by two on six to eight layers, with randomness in number, size, color, and on/off state. Each repetition of the process results in one iteration, which is used as the starting point for the next iteration. He also coded a slight force to cluster the cubes to create little cloud gatherings.
Patrick Seymour—Adobe Illustrator CC
When Patrick Seymour was four-years-old, his mother predicted that he would be an illustrator. Today, with a degree in graphic design, he primarily works on personal projects and likes drawing the same thing many times using different styles. He typically begins with a picture or hand drawing and traces his lines over it. The illustration selected for the Adobe Illustrator CC splash screen was created using this line style. Seymour drew five or six gorillas and three or four lions. The illustration Adobe selected came from experimenting with different colors rather than using his typical black and white style.
The Creative Cloud Splash Screen collection on Behance.
Adobe InDesign CC’s Fixed Layout EPUB Format
While we’re often overly focused on the technology, tools and formats, the truth is that our customers tell us they really want to create something beautiful, something compelling, something that simply tells a great story and then they want to get it into the hands of their customers (or readers, or maybe just their moms). Providing our customers with the right kinds of choices for how they publish that content seems to be just as important, if not more so, than how they create it.
That’s why I’m particularly excited about the new Fixed Layout EPUB export capability that we announced in the 2014 version of Adobe InDesign CC. This new capability provides one more publishing choice for our customers: If you want to create a beautiful fixed-layout digital book to sell or give away via digital book stores, like the iBook store, then this is the feature for you.
If you’ve been making e-books for a while, then you’re probably familiar with the EPUB format. It’s an acronym for “electronic publication” and it’s the most widely supported e-book format. Developed by the International Digital Publishing Forum, it makes it possible for any device to change the format of any reflowable EPUB book. (There’s also a fixed-layout EPUB where the format does not change from device to device and the original design of the book or document is preserved.)
Lock-down your design
InDesign CC has provided the capability to create reflowable EPUBs from InDesign documents since 2007; reflowable EPUBs are great for text heavy documents like novels (like the one you read on your mobile device last time you were on vacation). However, as soon as you want to create a “beautiful design” for a coffee table book, a travel guide, a comic book, or a cook book, the reflowable nature of the EPUB simply doesn’t allow your design to successfully translate. With InDesign CC’s new fixed layout capability, you can truly “lock-down” your beautiful design and make sure that your book looks as beautiful on the device as it did in your layout. No author likes seeing their carefully chosen images moved around, or their artfully chosen layout changed, at the whim of an e-reader. Now those disappointing moments can be gone for good and the appearance of your document will be as you intended.
I’m obviously biased but, really, you should try it. There’s something magical about taking a beautiful design and creating a version that will stay beautiful and true to your original design when viewed on a device. Once you’ve created the digital document, it’s just a short step to take it to one of the many digital bookstores.
A better way
I can hear you say, “But I don’t make books.” Well, we built this new capability with two kinds of customers in mind: The first are professional book authors and publishers who are very clear that this is the kind of capability they want, if not need, right now; the second, and in my mind just as interesting, are casual book creators.
A few weeks ago, I attended a large well-established conference for book publishers. While it’s always fun to represent Adobe, it’s sometimes even more fun to talk to people “incognito.” As I wandered around the show floor, full of publishers of every kind, I came across a small, children’s book publisher. As well as proudly displaying his hard copy books, he had also mounted a tablet device onto a podium to showcase the EPUB versions of his books. I asked how many of his books were available as the digital version. “Some,” he said. “But ultimately all our books will be available and in fact need to be available as Fixed Layout EPUBs.” I asked him how he made these books today, and he visibly deflated right in front of me. He proceeded to tell me a sad story of how he had to find and hire a “coder” to take an InDesign document and convert it into a Fixed Layout EPUB. It was time consuming, it was costly and, in his words, “there has to be a better way.” Eventually I felt I had to explain who I was and why I was asking these questions. He said “So can you just give me a Fixed Layout Export from InDesign?” (Well, yes. But I couldn’t tell him as we hadn’t yet announced the new feature.)
We’ve obviously spoken with a lot of book publishers and authors, and they’re very excited. In fact they seem VERY excited. InDesign CC gives them a simple way to take their existing beautifully-designed content, use their existing workflows, and existing skills to create something wonderful that they can publish in digital book stores or serve up in their readers’ browsers.
So what about the second group I mentioned? The casual book creators? This is the group that, if I’m honest, has surprised me the most with their excitement around this new capability. As I’ve talked to more and more people, I’ve discovered that the world is full of would-be book publishers who all have stories to tell. There are millions of people who have created something beautiful in InDesign, or who know someone who can create something beautiful for them in InDesign CC. Why shouldn’t they be able to create a digital book?
Export to the format of your choice
When I talk about digital books to either professional or casual book creators I’m often asked one important question: “How is this capability different from making a PDF or using the Adobe DPS (Digital Publishing Suite) format?” This answer is straightforward and mostly comes down to how you want to distribute your content and whether you want to give the content away or sell it.
If you want to distribute your digital document as an application, free or paid, then the DPS solution will give you that capability (along with analytics, and connections to social). If you want to create a digital book to sell or give away via one of the digital book stores, then EPUB is almost certainly the format of choice. If you want to create a digital document, typically one that you want to give away, that can be read on most digital devices, and you want more flexibility about how you get it onto the device, then PDF or one of the other publishing choices may well be your answer. The good news: If you use InDesign CC, you’re going to be able to export to any of these formats.
Perhaps the thing I want you to remember after reading this, is not so much that InDesign CC has a great new Fixed Layout export capability, but that this new capability represents the fact that Adobe is committed to offering designers and publishers a choice about how and where they publish. Too much choice is often confusing, but too little choice… is worse.
Chris Kitchener is the Group Product Manager for Adobe InDesign CC.
Filmmaker embarks on a journey documenting creativity around the world—through motion graphics and art.
When we last spoke with Graham Elliott he was just starting work on his next film, World In Motion, which he describes as, “a documentary film series that explores the dynamic connection between location and expression.” Since that time, Elliott has taken two trips to Brazil, the first stop on his global journey. In addition to interviewing creative professionals, he spent a significant amount of time capturing B-roll that will add texture and reference to the film. Now, he’s back in the United States and will spend the next few months working in Adobe Premiere Pro CC editing his content before his next trip, to Japan, in November.
Adobe: Tell us about your time in Brazil.
Elliott: I first went to Brazil in October for three weeks, then went back again this past January. With preparations going on for the World Cup and then the Olympics, there was an incredible buzz of activity. Brazil is all about rhythm and color. It takes a lot of influences from Africa, Europe and North America and makes them its own.
Adobe: How is this project different than your last film, New York in Motion?
Elliott: When we made New York in Motion we had three months to shoot, student help, multiple cameras, and the luxury of an open timetable. With World In Motion we needed to do a lot more advance planning. I traveled to Brazil four or five days before my partner, Roswitha Rodrigues, came to conduct the interviews. I spent time shooting B-roll to give the interviews context. Because of security concerns in Brazil, I had to rethink my camera package to be more mobile and inconspicuous. I did most of my shooting with a Canon 5D Mark II and GoPros.
Adobe: What type of footage did you capture?
Elliott: Before I set out to shoot, I worked out a way of organizing the shots I wanted to capture. There is so much you can do and see and when you’re on location it can be a little overwhelming. So, I created an index card system with a storyboard of the shot I wanted and all of the necessary logistics: time of day, equipment, security, etc. One example of content I captured was the view from the cable cars that go over the favelas. Shooting from this perspective let us show the expanse of humanity in these poorer areas.
Adobe: How much time did you spend interviewing?
Elliott: When Rosie came in we did seven days of interviews in São Paulo and seven days in Rio. We wanted to go in without any scripted questions, or preconceived notions of the creative essence of Brazil, so we could have more of a conversation. We asked interviewees to describe their work, and from there each person took a different path.
We started with LOBO, a company that has been a major inspiration, working with American and European clients, doing incredible motion graphics. The team there is incredible, and the founder, Mateus de Paula Santos, recommended other people for us to interview. We also connected with SuperUber, the company that recently did a huge texture-mapping project at the assembly hall in the United Nations building, projecting visuals onto the different surfaces. The team there gave us more recommendations of who we should see in Rio.
Adobe: What is different about the way work is created in Brazil?
Elliott: The school system in Brazil lacks proper funding and doesn’t have rooms full of computers, so students do a lot of tactile work. They have to make do with less, but that makes them push the boundaries of creativity in different ways. We saw a lot of handmade art that was then scanned into computers, giving the end creations a more tactile feel.
The work that artists create is also different depending on the city. Both Rio and São Paulo are interesting hubs of creativity. Rio is very green, has beautiful beaches, people are outgoing, and the artwork seems to reflect that with a lot of natural, organic elements. Conversely, Sao Paulo is a concrete jungle and people seem more introverted, which ultimately affects the way designers work and what they create. It will be interesting to look back after we’ve visited different locations and compare the references—how people create, what tools they use, where they start, and how much is influenced by culture, religion, tradition, and history.
Adobe: What type of tools are creative companies you interviewed using?
Elliott: Many of the established motion graphics agencies are using Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, and Illustrator. Rather than starting everything on the computer they do a lot of organic work, including models, paintings, and collages. After Effects is very popular for working with content after it is captured; it is the quintessential motion graphics tool. Designers we interviewed in Brazil are excited about Adobe Creative Cloud and keeping everything within the same workflow.
Adobe: What do you like about working with Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
Elliott: I really like the workflow in Premiere Pro. I shot a lot of timelapse content with the 5D Mark II, and it’s so easy to bring the stills into After Effects CC, apply some moves, and then open them in Premiere Pro. Rendering is so much easier in Premiere Pro than it was in Final Cut Pro and there is also a lot more flexibility with color correction.
Adobe: Where else do you want to go on your World In Motion journey?
Elliott: In November I’ll be traveling to Japan and we also hope to go to South Africa, India and Europe, especially London, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Vienna. The film is about creativity and the field of motion graphics serves as the backbone. But we’re not just interviewing motion graphics artists, we’re also interviewing people in other art fields. Motion graphics is so much about rhythm, music, dance, photography, and design so we’re going out and talking to dancers, designers and musicians, which is really invigorating. It will be a long journey but I’m already excited about the story we’re going to be able to tell.
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Part tutorial. Part infographic. And part animated GIF. Animagraffs. It’s the name Jacob O’Neal assigned to the animated infographics he began working on in 2012. When he told us that he used Creative Cloud, we wanted to know more so we caught up with him to ask about his concept, his tools, and his process.
Jacob talked to us about his toughest critics, making (some) decisions based on art rather than function, how creativity is fueled by excitement and wonder, and, of course, the beauty of Creative Cloud.
You’re a designer, so designing information probably comes naturally to you, but where did this idea originate? Was it an offshoot of another project? I’ve always been fascinated by animation. I used to draw entire flip-book scenes in the margins of old paperbacks or on sticky note pads. I’ve also always loved optical illusions and visual tricks that appear simple yet manage to boggle the mind.
A couple of years ago I began to see entire movie clips, in animated GIF format, being shared all over the web. While I had seen very simple usage of animated infographics in the wild, I hadn’t seen anything on the scale of Animagraffs.
It seemed like a fitting challenge: Could I make a meaningful infographic within a limited image format as the endlessly looping animated GIF? I had a lull in projects for month or so when I decided to make the first Animagraff. As a freelancer I try to keep a nice savings cushion since things can fluctuate, but even so, when there’s a lull I get antsy. There was a strong temptation to seek out the same old easily-procured but passionless work that “pays the bills.” But creativity is fueled by excitement and wonder and mechanically “paying the bills” is neither of those. I remember distinctly the moment I chose to act based on courage and create a passion project, not knowing what the result would be, or if I’d ever see money from it.
Quite frankly, I have no idea why I was an “early adopter” of the animated GIF infographic; the technology’s been there all along, and there are many, many brilliant designers out there who could pull it off. Stroke of good luck maybe?
What was your first topic? How has your process evolved since that first piece? The first animated graphic I did was Cheetah: Nature’s Speed Machine I just wanted to test out the limits of what could be done, and I was still a little intimidated by learning 3D software, so I made a flat graphic (non 3D). I sketched the main cheetah illustration in Illustrator and the animated graphs and lines in Flash. My process is still very similar, but now I have a better idea of what kind of illustrations fit the GIF format best. Some things just look gimmicky in an endlessly looping image and other elements really shine.
Who was your first Animagraff client? The first glimmer of a “result” I saw was an offer to work on a Super Bowl commercial project for Skechers. Their agency saw my Cheetah graphic and called me directly, offering a tidy sum to work on a project I would never have dreamed about before. Getting the motivation to make Animagraffs became a lot easier after that!
GIFs are for fun. Infographics are (mostly) for dispelling information. Beyond being cool viewing, Animagraffs have to strike that fine balance between entertainment and information. How much time do you spend getting that balance right? With my Animagraffs, the education IS the entertainment. That’s the whole point. I “came up” in the marketing world where the cart is perpetually before the horse—where everyone fearfully worries about “the results” and focuses all energy on hype instead of caring for the heart and soul of the project itself (hypnotizing entertainment without substance).
I decided to do everything the opposite of what I experienced working for marketing agencies. The product should “sell” itself through its quality. All I have to do is focus inward, and the outward results follow. Not the other way around. Animagraffs entertain to the exact degree of sincerity, hard work, and the quality of research I put into them. There’s no room for any kind of trickery, hype or fine print.
Infographics are compressed information distilled into easy-to-read bits. How many “pages” of content does each Animagraff contain? I go until the subject has been covered. I try to avoid disputable elements that might be distracting while still going deep enough to educate. The time involved varies but in general Animagraffs take anywhere from 20- to 80-hours of solid research, writing and design.
At what point do design decisions (type, color, layout) factor in? Animagraffs, especially my 3D projects, have a propensity to be manual-like. It’s actually difficult at times to make things original and fresh while maintaining a comfortably readable graphic. I’m an artist at heart, not an engineer, so I try to stay abreast of current design trends, and I make some decisions based more on art than function (though that line is hair thin). Decisions support the subject matter as far as possible. For the How A Car Engine Works graphic, for example, I used a typeface for the main titles that has strong automotive ties.
With animated infographics, you’re basically designing in layers. How does that make you job easier or harder? One-second decisions at the beginning of a project become two-day fixes at the end. The more intricate the assembly, the more critical it is to get things as right as possible from the start. By the time an Animagraff is compressed into its final GIF form, it’s traveled through two or three different software applications. At that point, fixing a misplaced apostrophe could take ten minutes as opposed to a mere keystroke while the script was in a text editor. I suppose it makes the job harder to have to design things in layers, but then, the difficulty of producing Animgraffs means I’ll have a little less competition in the field—I can’t complain about that.
Do you have a “test audience”? A person or people who try to learn something from your content? I’m passionate about my interests and hobbies and I assume others are as well. It’s unfortunate when an entity misrepresents something you know and care about. Since the public at large is unaware of inaccuracies on most subjects, it’s tempting to disregard small groups of highly devoted fans. But there’s incredible power in gaining the loyalty of those who won’t be fooled, who don’t click on every trifling bit of online clickbait, who seek out the highest quality information. When they share your work it’s often to their esteemed colleagues, and then you find yourself getting the kind of front-row attention money can’t buy. My Car Engine graphic was featured as a blog post on the New York Times Autoblog and Jalopnik.
So, my test audience is the toughest of critics—when researching a graphic I tend to post it to forums or other specific places where the most educated disciples of any given subject are prone to congregate.
How a Handgun Works: 1911 .45 is a good example: I’ve been continually flattered by the many messages of thanks from gun enthusiasts, law enforcement personnel, gun instructors, and other professionals. These people are far more conversant with guns than I, and they’re actually using this graphic as an educational asset. However, I’ve also received harsh feedback about its inaccuracies. I have to take it all in stride because, even though I consider it my duty to try, there would be no end in attempting to satisfy the core disciples.
You mentioned that you use Creative Cloud apps almost start to finish. Briefly walk us through your process. I begin in a simple text editor, pasting research from all over the Internet with links to sources. With that file open, I create a new document by its side to write the script. The script condenses all the fragmented information into a compelling story in which every sentence is as efficient as possible with no wasted words.
If the project uses a 3D model, I begin modeling at this point, with research imagery and text all prepared. I use Blender 3D (which I’ve really enjoyed learning) to craft my own models; I’ve been temped at times to download ready-made assets, but that would hobble progress the day I want to do a subject for which I can’t find suitable models. Also, for education it’s best to have simple models without all the indents, holes and pipes, of actual mechanical objects. So I craft everything from scratch myself.
With the script written and 3D model created (if needed), I begin laying out blocks of text in Illustrator CC. This is generally when I start to see what visuals I need and what will fit where. It’s a giant puzzle board. You might think I start with grandiose sketches of intricate objects but it’s really with blocks of content scattered around the page that I start to see where the big visuals will go.
I use Flash (since that’s the animation timeline software I know best) to assemble the animated assets over the top of the Illustrator CC-made layout (After Effects CC and Photoshop CC both have timeline elements that I imagine could be used for this, but I haven’t experimented with either). If it’s vector illustration I might draw the frames directly in Flash Professional CC (the Cheetah frames were drawn in Illustrator CC since there are better brush and line quality options).
I export the finished project from Flash CC into Photoshop CC (which has the best compression ability when it comes to the animated GIF format). In Photoshop CC I try to get the file as small as possible, often limiting colors to do so. The cheetah graphic has dimensions of 1400 x 1890 with 18 total frames and rings in at a nimble 500KB. That’s much smaller than many static graphics of the same pixel dimensions; I purposely kept the project to a two-color scheme; as I progress with these projects, I’m getting more adventurous with more colors and weightier file sizes.
You mentioned After Effects. Do you see yourself trying it out down the road? I haven’t actually tried After Effects with these animated infographics so I have no idea what to expect. Also, it looks like Flash is starting to incorporate some HTML5 stuff so I’ll probably stay in Flash since it’s more web-centric and that’s my playing field.
Since you use a range of CC products to make Animagraffs, we have to ask, how are you liking Creative Cloud? I’m loving it—synced settings, seamless upgrades—it’s the kind of functionality I’ve always wanted!
What’s your next topic? I JUST finished Inside a Jet Engine. I hope it’s as well-received as my other projects have been.