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48 Hour Film Project – Contestant, Kush Amerasinghe Q&A: PART I

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The 48 Hour Film Project is a weekend where filmmakers are challenged to create a short film with limited direction and a simple genre, all to develop a movie in just two days. One of our own employees here at Adobe, Kush Amerasinghe, accepted the challenge for the San Francisco, CA event and opted to use Creative Suite 6 and Adobe Touch Apps within the Creative Cloud in his team’s efforts to create a winning submission. Here’s Part I of our Q&A session with Kush and his film titled, The Bandit:

Creative Layer: How did you get started with the 48 Hour Film Project?

kush-150x150Kush Amerasinghe: I first heard about it when somebody from the Adobe Premiere Pro team borrowed some lights from me to participate in the San Jose, CA version of the event.  Then, last year one of my team members suggested I join a team he put together, the San Francisco 48 Hour Film Project.  It was a very challenging experience and we had a pretty large team then.  This year I got involved with a much smaller team and as a result, I ended up playing a central role.

What products from Creative Cloud did you use?

The entire process was done with tools available on the Creative Cloud.  For example, the script itself was written on Adobe Story the night of the kickoff event.  Thanks to the fact it’s an online service, I could seamlessly continue working on it regardless of what computer I was using.  I then shared the script with the rest of the team including the actors the next morning very easily.  Adobe Story is also integrated into a teleprompter app called Elite promoter that runs on the iPad, so we could use it to aid the actors who had very little time to practice the dialog but amazingly most of them could do without it.

I used quite a bit of still images in various shots, so obviously we used Photoshop to work on them.  I used Adobe Ideas to sketch out rough storyboards and shot layouts.  I used Audition to remix the music so it fit the duration and mood to the various sequences.  Adobe Premiere Pro was my main hub for the final edit while After Effects also came into play given there were many composited shots.  I wanted to give it a certain look so I used the newly integrated SpeedGrade for coloring.  Once everything was done, I used Adobe Media Encoder to encode multiple formats as the competition required us to submit it in two separate formats the second being a backup if the first one wasn’t compatible for whatever reason.

Even after the movie was actually done, it didn’t end there.  I used Adobe Illustrator and InDesign to create a promotional poster that we used both on our Facebook page, and printed out for the theatrical premiere itself.

Did you hit any road blocks during your process? If so, how did you combat them?

Even though I liked going into this with a very small team (a crew of 3 including me plus makeup and wardrobe) it was sometimes physically impractical to change setups and move into multiple locations with all the equipment even if it’s moving from one room to the other in the same building.  This forced me to do a lot more green screen shoots using the same setup, and using different backgrounds later.  It might seem not to make sense but it was actually faster for me to work with green screen footage and apply backgrounds rather than the time it would have taken our small crew to move things around to actual locations.

We also had to cut out some minor scenes out of the story because we simply didn’t have time to shoot them.  But given how fluid and straightforward the native editing process is in Premiere Pro, it wasn’t hard to try out new sequences and ordering on the scenes and shots and still make it flow despite certain parts being missing.

We also had more shaky shots than you actually see in the edit because we didn’t have any fancy camera rigs that could make the moves smoothly.  The fact that warp stabilizer is now integrated directly into Premiere Pro in CS6 came in very handy.

I didn’t get much sleep, so while editing I was constantly at the risk of falling asleep and losing precious time.  But fortunately by using the right GPU-supported effects I could get pretty much everything done and still let the timeline be render-less and work in real time so there were no idle wait times for me to worry about dozing off.

How did Creative Cloud help you execute from start to finish?

It’s amazing how the Creative Cloud gives you a whole range of tools so they are just there if you need it.  It completely makes you work in a different way because you don’t have to plan and think about what you need first but just have the assurance that if you need to do even the most random thing, those tools are accessible.

While the Creative Cloud is fairly new, the way Adobe has been integrating the tools to cover the full spectrum tasks in the creative workflow is nothing new.  Having seen how it has evolved over the years, I’m confident that it can only get better.  The Creative Cloud is a very cost effective way to tap into all that power with the added incentive of the online tools and collaboration functions.

For a look at Kush and his team’s submission to The 48 Hour Film Project, check out the trailer for The Bandit and watch the full version below.

The Bandit – 48 hour film project 2012 – San Francisco (full version) from Kush Amerasinghe on Vimeo.