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Posts in Category "Digital Video & Audio"

Optimizing your system for peak performance

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This Ask a Video Pro was recorded February 27, 2014

If you’re building or upgrading a system for editing or motion graphics work with Adobe After Effects CC and Premiere Pro CC, this online seminar will help you understand your options, and get the best performance out of your software.

The session covers:

  • How CPU, GPU, and RAM affect performance
  • The types of graphics cards you should you be looking at
  • The platform-specific considerations you should be aware of
  • Running these Adobe applications on the new Mac Pro

Download our performance white paper for more information on system optimization.
Watch the recorded session.

About the presenters
Todd Kopriva is a quality engineer on the After Effects CC team and Steve Hoeg is the engineering manager on the Premiere Pro CC team.

11:56 AM Permalink

Working hard in corporate video—and loving it

Leah Earle and Phanta Media deliver brilliant work with Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Premiere Pro CC.

Leah Earle loves her job. As a video editor for Phanta Media in Toronto, she looks forward to going to work. Founded by Mark Drager in 2006, Phanta Media is a rising star in the corporate video universe, known for delivering great work on real-world timelines. Earle describes the ten-person company as cozy but rapidly growing, with a staff comprising business development representatives, producers, motion graphics, and video editors. Earle often works late and sometimes on weekends—and can’t get enough of it.

Most of the Phanta Media team: Mark Drager on the left, Leah Earle front center.

Most of the Phanta Media team: Mark Drager on the left, Leah Earle front center.

Adobe: What makes Phanta Media unique compared to other corporate video production companies?
Earle: We’re extremely passionate, even if we’re working on what some might consider a mundane corporate training video. We work hard and collaborate as a team. No one here is interested in being second best. This can lead to frustration, because I may get criticism from eight other people on my one great idea for an edit. But in the end it gives the client the best possible product. We’re a small company, and every client has a personal and highly creative experience with us. We “bring it,” every time to create beautiful projects on tight deadlines.

Adobe: What’s it like working with Mark Drager?
Earle: Mark is the reason I took this job and also the reason I’m still here. He’s 31-years-old and started this company when he was only 23. He had the confidence to know that he could make better videos than the next guy, and his enthusiasm is infectious; it motivates us to push ourselves. He promises clients that we will blow them away with our skills—and we always do.

Adobe: How did you get into this line of work?
Earle: I always wanted to do something technical, but I went to school for English literature because I was uncertain about what path to take. A few people guided me toward journalism. That led me to a video journalism postgraduate program at Conestoga College. I really liked shooting, and I didn’t mind being on camera or reading a teleprompter, but what I loved right away was editing.

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Adobe: When did you start using Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
Earle: I had never used Premiere Pro before I came to Phanta Media. Previously, Phanta Media was a Final Cut Pro shop, but like many in the industry, the company started looking for other options as soon as Final Cut Pro X came out. Premiere Pro is very “editor-friendly,” and that’s been a huge plus in growing my career.

Adobe: How would you compare Premiere Pro CC to other editing software?
Earle: For starters, you don’t have to log and capture footage. The scrubbing and playback in Premiere Pro is much faster than Final Cut, and not having to render something just to to watch it is a dream. I find the program makes it really easy to adjust my shortcuts and organize my workspace and projects. I like being able to save things such as title templates to use throughout projects, because I do a lot of subtitle work. Even the addition of the tiny window at the top left where you can preview your clip when you click once is helpful. I need to sort through mountains of footage fast. I like being able to export using Media Encoder CC as I work, because no one wants to have to stop and wait to export.

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Adobe: What else do you use in your pipeline?
Earle: I use Photoshop CC and After Effects CC for most graphics. I can bring graphics files straight into the Premiere Pro CC timeline, without having to export them every time I change the file, which is so great. I can click on something and edit it on the spot, rather than having to look for the file and open it in another program. This saves so much time on projects, especially those with hundreds of After Effects files that you’d normally have to re-time.

I sometimes edit in Adobe Audition CC when I am facing a complex audio problem or when I’m tasked with voiceovers. When I first started I was in charge of setting up new DVD templates and Adobe Encore was so easy to learn and use to burn DVDs. Now, I use Adobe Media Encoder a lot to create files for various media: the Internet, PCs, or DVDs—whatever clients want.

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Adobe: What was your experience  moving to Adobe Creative Cloud?
Earle: My favorite thing about the switch to Adobe Creative Cloud, was the new finding and re-linking function in Premiere Pro. It’s crucial, because a few of us may be working on the same project and files often reside in different places and get moved around a lot.

All in all, the interfaces, shortcuts, and other commands among Adobe’s creative software apps are so uniform that I grow more familiar with the tools and the workflows every day. This makes me increasingly more efficient and gets rid of that frustrating gap between what the technology can do and what you think it should be able to do. With Creative Cloud, I can take greater advantage of each program’s full potential to realize any creative ideas we dream up.

Mark Drager and Kyle Wilson of Phanta Media recently presented the Ask a Video Pro session How to Build a Successful Corporate Video Business.

Learn more about the Pro Video Tools in Adobe Creative Cloud
Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

10:35 AM Permalink

Setting the Stage for Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Video playback and graphics team uses Adobe Creative Cloud and plugins from FxFactory to create period-specific news content.

To make the set of GNN, the 24-hour news channel featured in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, as realistic as possible required one essential element: content. It was the job of the video playback and graphics team to fill the dozens of screens throughout the fictional studio with realistic, period-specific news.

Rather than filling the screens in post production and using archived news reports, the team produced nearly all original content and fed it to the screens in real time. News reports were shot and composited with stock footage using an Adobe Creative Cloud video workflow and plugins from FxFactory, which offers a broad range of VFX tools for editors and compositors.

Playback Supervisor, Todd Marks, worked closely with his hand-picked team, designers Perry Freeze and Jeb Johenning to create the functioning 1980s GNN studio and news-office that helps set the stage for the blockbuster comedy. Todd and Jeb have worked together on many projects over the last twelve years; Perry was added to the team when they worked on The Internship in 2012.

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Adobe: What were your roles on Anchorman 2?
Marks: I was the playback supervisor, responsible for overseeing all of the content creation and playback. In this case, my team put together and ran the functioning GNN studios, and we created all of the content, some which was story-specific and some was just background imagery to add to the reality of the time period and the set. We call it “bg” (background) footage and we created a lot of it.

Freeze: I worked as a designer on the film and also helped coordinate the data asset management, which involved keeping track of all of the moving pieces and approvals. On this movie we had a fairly short development cycle. We had to get up-and-running with a graphics package for the studio, and within the studio we wanted to have up to ten  channels on air featuring news from around the world.

Johenning: I was also a designer, working with Perry on the content. When we initially looked at the breadth of content it was enormous. We had in excess of 100 different videos and one or more ways to create them, without actually knowing how they would be used.

Adobe: How does it all start?
Marks: We get a script and have to breakdown what’s written, which involves meetings with the production designer, set decorator, director, and even the props and construction people. We make recommendations and try to push beyond what most people think can be done. With the story-specific content, we needed to help tell the story in a short amount of time in a visually accurate, period-specific manner. Each film has different needs. For this movie, we needed to recreate a news studio look (we referenced CNN’s style during its launch in 1980). GNN starts with a simple graphics package at launch, as they are on the air longer, we had the look mature by increasing the complexity of the font and graphics package.

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Adobe: How did you go about creating the content?
Freeze: We couldn’t possibly get clearance from actual archived material or we would have had to stick to a very narrow, stock footage type of content. So very early on we decided to make all of the content.

Johenning: In the GNN studio office, there is a big wall with fifteen different monitors that show everything happening around the world. Every piece of footage had to look local to its environment. We hired actors to be our period reporters and then filmed “man-on-the-street” interviews. I’m a videographer, so Perry and I worked with our video team and shot most of the unique footage for this project. The wardrobe people put the actors in period costumes and we filmed them against a green screen in both interior and exterior locations.

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Later, we composited them into different locations, such as in front of the Pyramids in Egypt, the slums in Kenya, or farmland in Iowa. Each one had a different graphic look and feel. We created fake names for the people and used different fonts that would be local to each region. The backgrounds were sourced from stock footage or public domain sources. We also went around Atlanta, Georgia and filmed b-roll elements that we later used as content in our news reports, in addition to the composited green screen shots.

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Adobe: Was it easy to integrate the new and old footage?
Johenning: All of the new footage was shot on a Sony F3, so it was beautiful HD quality. The stock footage backgrounds were 10-, 15-, even 20-years-old, standard-definition video and film, so the look of the two formats was completely different. We had to dumb down the foreground shots to make them look believable with the background stuff. We used an array of Adobe tools, including Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Photoshop, to make everything look authentic.

Marks: The PHYX products from FxFactory were used extensively. We used PHYX KEYER tools, PHYX CLEANER, and PHYX DEFOCUS to create composites, match the look of different footage, and add depth to the shots to make them look realistic. Using the PHYX filters with After Effects and Premiere Pro really helped to streamline our workflow.

Johenning: In some cases, we could stay entirely in Premiere Pro, and in other cases we would take footage into After Effects for more specialized compositing. We would ultimately always end up in Premiere Pro, where we would up-res the SD to HD so we could have the cleanest keys, edges, and color correction. The last step was to down-res and use the link to Media Encoder to output a piece of SD footage for playback on an SD monitor.

Adobe: Did you use any other plugins from FxFactory?
Marks: In addition to the PHYX filters, we used FxFactory Bad TV filters to add static hits and signal degradation, just as you would see with a normal satellite feed. Using these plugins adds a sense of reality and gives us the opportunity to do cuts that aren’t perceived by the audience. We used about ten different FxFactory plugins throughout the film. For news elements, there are specific plugins that add realism to the feel and look.

Adobe: What was the most challenging part of the data asset management?
Freeze: Films don’t shoot chronologically, so it’s important to keep track of what media needs to be on air and how it needs to look at that point in the movie. We used Adobe Bridge to keep track of revisions, star approved artwork, and manage all folders. Bridge is universally tied into Photoshop and Illustrator, making it easy to create contact sheets of all of our work, print them out and post them, or show the top ten revisions on an iPad to the director while on location, for quick approval.

Marks: The studio had about 150 CRT monitors, and we were able to route from 14 different feeds to each monitor at any time. It requires keeping track of what’s on each monitor in what scene, which involves lots of logistics in addition to the technical aspects. Some of first scenes we did in the studio were in Linda Jackson’s office, where there were three monitors on a far wall. We thought they would just be in the background, but the actors were placed right in front of them. You never know whether something you work on for days or weeks will be shown for just seconds or be featured prominently in a scene. This makes it even more important to keep track of shots so you don’t see the same footage in more than one scene.

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Adobe: Have you started using Adobe Creative Cloud?
Johenning: I was already using Adobe Master Collection CS6, but when Creative Cloud came out I jumped on the bandwagon. An added benefit of CC included Adobe Muse. I was a user of Muse for my own business website and having that part of the Adobe CC collection was a real bonus! I had switched to Premiere Pro after Apple introduced Final Cut Pro X, and it’s the only editing program I use right now.

Freeze: I’m using Creative Cloud as well. The thing about using Creative Cloud is that when we’re working with teams everyone is on the same current, updated release. We used to deal with people not installing updates, or being on a different version all together, which created problems in our pipeline.

Adobe: What was the process like when you were on set?
Freeze: As prepared as we were, it was very much like a live news broadcast. We were using an AJA IO system to connect After Effects and Premiere Pro directly into our video switcher that was going out to the studio floor. It wasn’t what you would typically do in a TV production situation. We were creating content for the movie on the fly by tying directly into a switcher that was taking live camera feeds of Will Ferrell’s character, and then using After Effects to quickly apply lower thirds and over the shoulder graphics.

Marks: Because we were using standard definition CRTs, to make them look like they came from the right period, the set dressing department created plastic bezels that made the screen sizes even smaller than typical CRTs. This made the normal safety area even smaller, couple that with each old TV monitor’s slightly different scaling, and often I would actually have to be on the studio floor talking the control room through the proper positioning of the graphics on a featured screen.

Freeze: We would run around on the floor with cameras and take pictures of our work on the older TVs, go back to Photoshop or Illustrator and create a matte, and save it as a new title or action safe that could then be applied in After Effects or Premiere Pro when we were working so we knew how something would look when we put it on the period monitors. When you’re on a movie set and you have an entire crew, including all of the actors, waiting for you to finish something or change something it’s a lot of pressure.

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Adobe: How is it different than the visual effects in other films?
Johenning: None of what we do is done in post production. A lot of visual effects in movies involve after-the-fact effects. I’m not diminishing the importance of that approach to moviemaking, but in our case rather than filling a monitor with a solid green image and creating, tracking, and coloring the content after a scene is shot, we have to do it as if it’s live TV and make it look real and believable.

Adobe: Why was this approach useful in the Anchorman 2 production?
Freeze: We ultimately helped make a better movie because the content was live. The actors could see themselves on the monitors and ad lib, and we made changes to things like titles on the fly.

Marks: We surprised the crew with our capabilities, and it freed the post production people up a lot. There was one scene where we were able to use Photoshop to quickly build a full map of the United States, with temperatures throughout the country, and then overlay satellite imagery using Premiere Pro. Because they were able to use the map in the scene instead of just having a green screen, Steve Carrell was able to see himself on the monitor and play off of what was happening. The director was also able to give him direction based on what he saw evolving. It was some of the most hysterical stuff we shot and it wouldn’t have happened if it was done in post production.

Adobe: Can you give an example of how After Effects was used?
Marks: One of the scenes in the movie shows the characters covering a car chase. Production was quite concerned about the cost of staging the chase, but the stock footage we had wasn’t long enough. Through some creative editing, Perry made it happen.

Freeze: We had chase footage of two cars, one grey convertible with a closed black canvas top on the freeway and one larger grey car primarily going through neighborhoods. We used the Roto Brush in After Effects to track the roof of the larger car and then darken the roof to match the other vehicle. By using tools in Premiere Pro to flip the footage and slow down and speed up shots, we were able to edit together a longer scene, with four different segments for playback.

Adobe: Were there any other benefits to working with Adobe video tools?
Marks: With Adobe tools being so portable we were able to take the same laptop we used on stage back to our hotel room and still have the same powerful workflow. It was especially useful when we were working late on graphics that were needed for the next day of shooting. Doing our job would be nearly impossible without Adobe’s powerful software.

3:13 PM Permalink

Creating a visual experience for Fatboy Slim at Coachella

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Production company creates immersive experience for well-known DJ artist at art and music festival using Adobe Creative Cloud.

Plastic Reality is a production company known for branding and other video work for big corporate clients such as BP and Unilever. But unlike most corporate video companies, it has a wild side, called The Happiness Labs, focused on producing experiential content and graphics for live events and installations.

In creating new realities and immersive experiences, The Happiness Labs raised the bar for British DJ, musician, rapper, and record producer Fatboy Slim at the 2014 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Tim Fleming, executive producer of The Happiness Labs, shares how Fatboy Slim’s otherworldly stage experience came together.

Adobe: What makes you excited about working with bands?
Fleming: I worked at an advertising company at the beginning of my career, but then I had the chance to work with big-name artists and tour with various art collectives. I was excited to be working with people who were very receptive to new creative ideas. Layering visuals and lighting was becoming a big part of these shows and I started to think about how video content could further enhance the experience.

Today, bands think about shows as a whole experience with intricate props and designs from the moment they kick them off, but it wasn’t always that way. Seeing how these shows were being constructed as an experience, especially in the electronic music space, and being a bit of a party boy I thought it looked like a lot of fun.

Adobe: How did you get connected with Fatboy Slim?
Fleming: I’ve had a longstanding relationship with Fatboy Slim, aka Norman Cook. He is a superstar DJ and lovely bloke all at the same time. When I started with him around 2000 or 2001, he was already famous for his videos. His record label had seen the work we’d done with some artists, and asked us to submit a treatment for his upcoming video, “Star 69.”

A while later, Norman was approached to do a show on Brighton Beach. It was one of the first large outdoor shows with a DJ and his team knew they would need some content for the show. They liked what we’d done for “Star 69,” so they asked us to work on the show. The first Brighton Beach Boutique show had 60,000 attendees, and the second one had 250,000. From then on I was on the bus and the next stop was a show in Brazil for about 350,000 people.

Adobe: How would you describe the Coachella show?
Fleming: Coachella in 2014 has a big focus on electronic acts and electronic dance music. The performance there was an evolution of everything we’ve been doing over the last several years to turn watching a DJ into a magical experience that transports audiences into another realm with incredible lighting, imagery, effects, video, and graphics. The heart of his show is focused on his hit track “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat.”

Adobe: Tell us more about “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat.”
Fleming: Well there’s an interesting story around where the actual lyric for “Eat, Sleep, Rave Repeat” came from. In between shows I was editing some shots for Norman and he sent me a mail at around midnight when I was still working, asking how it was going. I sent him a one line reply saying, “Eat, Sleep, Edit, Rave, Repeat.”

Next thing I knew he sent me a demo titled “Your Tune.” Then he got RivaStarr and Beardyman involved and the whole thing grew into a monster to the point where, a few months after this email conversation, we’re getting photos sent in from people who have tattoos saying “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat.”

Adobe: How did the idea translate to Coachella?
Fleming: Coachella originally approached us asking if we would like to do a show based around the four seasons. A set at Coachella is 60 minutes long, so the festival organizers were looking to split it into four parts and use a bunch of physical effects, such as fire, snow, and rain, to accentuate the different seasons. We had a think about this and obviously loved the idea of the different physical effects but thought the four seasons might be a bit like doing opera.

We got Team Fatboy together over a good lunch as we usually do and started throwing some ideas around. We realized we could re-work “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat” into “Heat, Sleet, Rain, Repeat” and… job done! We got to keep the physical effects but incorporate them into Norm’s global smash hit.

Adobe: What special elements are included in the Coachella show?
Fleming: As well as building a boom box that has ice, fire, and rain built into it we used a 3D model of Norman’s head that was shot at Pinewood Studios. We inserted it in with other graphics and 3D elements around the head. It appears every couple of bars in the song. All of the mapping was done and put together in Adobe After Effects CC, along with the textures and finishing.

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We also put Norman in the middle of the screen in a 9×9 matrix and created accompanying video content and original graphics, including a fun fruit machine. All of the video content was edited in Adobe Premiere Pro CC. It was great to be able to throw multiple codecs and file types right onto the timeline in Premiere Pro CC and have it work seamlessly.

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Adobe: How do you pull off these surreal experiences?
Fleming: We combined a well-researched history of being the last one on the dance floor with other techniques, some involving big rig or prop installations and others requiring software. We’ve always been big After Effects users. CINEMA 4D and After Effects are at the heart of everything we do and their widespread adoption throughout the creative industry is a reflection of the quality results that can be achieved. Adobe Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC are also key to our workflow and we appreciate having all of the tools available to us in Creative Cloud.

Adobe: What do you think of the closer integration between Adobe After Effects CC and CINEMA 4D?
Fleming: The forthcoming era of deeper integration between CINEMA 4D and After Effects CC is very exciting and we are really looking forward to seeing how it enhances our workflow. We really just find them a joy to play with and encourage all younger artists who are working with us to learn this combination. We’re also excited about the option of rendering in the cloud so we don’t tie up local resources.

Adobe: The shows you put together have an entirely new look. What is it you’re trying to accomplish?
Fleming: EDM shows tend to look very polished, high-def, and fast moving. We wanted to do something a little different to set us apart. That’s why we shot some original content for Coachella in black-and-white and slow-motion and edited it in Premiere Pro CC. In one shot, we have people jumping around that we filmed with a slow-motion camera. So the look is a bit different than your classic EDM footage. We also slapped Norman in the face with a fish and filmed that in slow-mo!

Adobe: What are the benefits of moving to Creative Cloud?
Fleming: We work with small teams plus many freelancers. Our Adobe Creative Cloud for teams membership helps us move seats around so artists working in different locations are all on the same version and have the software they need when they need it. We’re also looking at trying new tools like Adobe Prelude CC for ingest, at no extra charge. That’s a big bonus.

Adobe: What’s in the future for you?
Fleming: Fatboy Slim has the World Cup coming up in June in Brazil, followed by the 2014 Glastonbury Festival. Norman is trying to go for the world record for the most consecutive Glastonbury Festival’s played, so he can’t miss it! There are other festivals planned during the summer months as well, so we’ll be busy.

Our work has become so diversified that we’re going to continue to use Plastic Reality for our corporate work. But now we’re developing The Happiness Labs for the fun, experiential work we’re doing for bands and brands. We’re looking to develop content for immersive, virtual reality technologies such as Oculus Rift, Leap Motion, and Thalmic Labs MYO. There’s a big shift in the way content and storytelling is being developed, and we intend to be at the convergence of the amazing new wave of tech and tools and the never-ending desire for a good story that we humans have.

Tim would like to thank long-time collaborators Chris Cousins, Joe Plant, and Bob Jaroc, as well as Mike Sansom at BrightFire Pyrotechnics for working on this year’s content.

Learn more about the Pro Video Tools in Adobe Creative Cloud
Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

3:01 AM Permalink

Producing The Largest Sports Show on Earth Is No Small Task

An ambitious content delivery goal will be met with a workflow featuring Adobe Premiere Pro CC.

Pulling off the broadcast of the largest sports show on earth, spanning nearly a month’s worth of content, is no small task. HBS, the dedicated host broadcaster for one of the largest sporting events in the world, has contracted EVS and MoovIT. EVS will provide for the central Media Asset Exchange Server located at the International Broadcast Center (IBC) and all editing workstation will be supplied by MoovIT. Central to the editing workflow is Premiere Pro CC, which will help editors quickly turn around content for distribution to multilateral production facilities and Media Rights Licensees (known as MRLs).

The central media server is the hub for the production operation during the competition. All material generated by HBS will be uploaded and logged onto the server and users connected to the system will be able to search and browse via dedicated browsing stations and transfer content into their system for unilateral programming requirements. All multilateral editing workstations required for post-production and multimedia will also be connected with the large SAN storage as part of the central server based on EVS technology.

MoovIT was brought on board to provide the 54 workstations with Premiere Pro CC for editing live content and creating features, promos, and all other components required for multimedia production. This new workflow will enable editors to turn content around more quickly than ever before. The central media server, acting as a shared storage, integrates with Premiere Pro CC by using the EVS IPLink interface.

Editors using Premiere Pro CC and the IPLink interface will be able to directly connect to the server, making it easy to create final edits of updates, promos, and multimedia packages. In addition, external media from various sources will come in from the ENG crews and be combined on the workstations without any transcoding to quickly produce the content.

For multimedia clients a wide selection of Video on Demand (VOD) clips will be provided by the host broadcaster. These clips need to be provided quickly so they can be immediately featured on websites, through mobile subscription sites, or by sponsors and broadcasters. After an event happens, such as a goal or a red card, a clip should be available online within minutes and available in various languages.

MoovIT and EVS will both help HBS to meet this enterprising goal so that fans in multiple countries will be able to experience the action in near real-time. With a customized workflow that includes Premiere Pro CC, HBS, through this service, will keep fans around the world on the edge of their seats as they follow the action and relive key moments from their favorite teams and players.

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud
Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

10:53 AM Permalink

Recreating Reality with Visual Effects

Seamless visual effects for The Wolf of Wall Street created with help from Adobe After Effects CC and Adobe Photoshop CC.

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Paul and Christina Graff of Crazy Horse Effects (CHE) are visual effects aficionados, with projects to their credit such as There Will Be Blood and Life of Pi. They also work with some of the best matte painters and designers in the visual effects industry, and are recognized for their award-winning compositing. Most recently they created the seamless visual effects for The Wolf of Wall Street, directed by Martin Scorsese, with Oscar-winning VFX supervisor Rob Legato overseeing the shots.

Adobe: How did you become involved with The Wolf of Wall Street?
Paul: I actually met Rob at a panel presenting outstanding work in VFX done in After Effects. We went to have a drink afterwards and he asked me about our new office in New York. We had worked on The Aviator and Shutter Island with him and he thought we could help with some of the shots in The Wolf of Wall Street. We were stoked to reunite with Rob, and excited to work on the project—although we joined the team late in the game when most of the effects were already well underway.

Adobe: What type of work did he send your way?
Christina: We didn’t do any of the normal set extension work we usually do. Instead, we focused on a lot of last minute fixes and designed several sequences. We worked on a lot of quirky shots! We contributed to several corporate identity “videos,” a few driving scenes, and a longer sequence with the real Jordan Belford at the end of the movie. Our work is really scattered throughout the movie.

Adobe: What sequences stand out ?
Christina: We had a great scene to work on where Leonardo DiCaprio’s character is dizzy on Quaaludes and stumbles down a staircase at his country club. The actual set had only four steps, but from Leonardo’s Quaalude-induced point of view the staircase appeared much longer. Rob had a version of the same staircase built that was much longer surrounded by green screens. This set was a bit bouncy and needed attention. Our job was to connect the extension stairs with the original set environment and make the staircase appear sturdier by rebuilding them digitally and blending everything together. We rebuilt the scene using a 2.5D set up in After Effects CC. We also extended the country club in the establishing shot that looks up to the top of the stairs. In the end, it looked believable, as if it really happened. On other projects, we’re also using a lot of the 3D capabilities of CINEMA 4D—its integration with After Effects CC is allowing us to do 3D work with much greater speed and ease.

Adobe: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced?
Paul: There is a corporate identity video playing at the beginning of the film and we had to recreate all of the stock exchange footage in that scene from scratch. We had some NTSC material that was very low quality and we basically needed to recreate the shots avoiding any copyright issues. Rob shot extras on green screen and we did our own mini VFX shoot in our New York office and used Adobe Photoshop CC to create matte paintings for the background. We only had about two days to do it and it was very challenging… but creating environments is one of our strengths.

Adobe: Were any particular features of After Effects CC helpful?
Paul: For one shot on a yacht, we had to recreate the floor and the reflections on the floor, including replacing a diamond-shaped logo. The shots we had to work with were created using a Steadicam stabilizer, but they weren’t quite steady enough. Based on Rob’s suggestion, we used the Warp Stabilizer in After Effects CC, and were impressed with the results. We’ve since started using Warp Stabilizer on more shots.

Also, the dwarf toss scene was shot spherical on Alexa, so we had to match it to the rest of the sequence that was shot on film with anamorphic lenses. It was quite tricky to get the texture of the files to look close to identical; we didn’t use plugins, we just relied on curves, blurs, and displacement maps in After Effects CC to achieve the desired look.

Adobe: What was it like coming in so late on a project? How did you succeed?
Paul: We came in late, but all of our work was high quality with a fast turnaround so Rob kept giving us bigger and bigger pieces of the pie. The Wolf of Wall Street included some content that was considered inappropriate by the Motion Picture Association of America. In the last phase of post production, Rob asked us to go on site at Deluxe Labs in New York, where the final DI color corrections were being done, to help them with some fixes to make the film more commercially appropriate. I went to Rob’s office at Deluxe and set up an iMac with After Effects on it and started working. In one day we did sixteen retiming shots and one scene where we placed a chair in a scene to block some of the content. For me, it’s all about the finishing. You really show your colors at the end of a movie, and anything that came up last minute we knocked out.

Adobe: What was the benefit of working with Creative Cloud?
Christina: Creative Cloud lets us be super mobile. We can do what we do from anywhere—in the field, on site, or in the office.

Adobe: What was it like working with Rob Legato again?
Christina: He’s a genius, one of those people who has creative vision but also knows technology. He has fantastic concepts and vivid mental images, but also gives his VFX artists the freedom to devise their own ways of doing things.

See the best of Crazy Horse Effects
Learn more about the video apps and services in Adobe Creative Cloud
Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

10:23 AM Permalink

Expert Filmmaker Builds Online Community

Pioneering filmmaker Ryan Connolly shares his passion for Adobe’s pro video software.

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After graduating from film school, Ryan Connolly started out in a fairly typical fashion: creating music videos and commercials for local clients. He then went on to run the video studio at PC game company Alienware. But rather than continue following the path of most aspiring filmmakers, Connolly came up with the idea to create Film Riot, an online show that would let him share how-to filmmaking tips, get feedback on his work, and ultimately build an audience and a community. His renegade style has earned him a loyal online following and his company Triune Films continues to produce weekly online video content as well as short films and other film projects.

Adobe: What makes you an industry rule breaker?
Connolly: My success with Film Riot lets me be my own boss and do less client work. Not that client work is bad, but at Triune Films we want to be a group of friends having fun, doing what we want to do. We’ve been fortunate enough to achieve that. We don’t have a typical day or week; it really depends on what we’re working on at the time. If things get too normal I get completely disinterested. That’s why Film Riot isn’t the same thing each time.

Adobe: Your name is associated with Triune Film and Film Riot. Can you tell us how they’re related?
Connolly: Triune Films is the parent company that produces Film Riot, along with our other programs and projects. Film Riot is an online training ground for how to make great effects, learn best practices for editing, and we also do video challenges and give out prizes to winners. For me, the big thing with Film Riot is that we’ve built an amazing community; it’s not mandatory, but it has become part of our DNA to be kind, helpful, and supportive of each other in our creative efforts—versus critical. We’ve also built a loyal following on social networks: Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.

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Adobe: Are there other aspects to the business?
Connolly: Yes, we’ve built a brand that caters to indie filmmakers, who are a passionate bunch. We sell T-shirts, color preset packs for Adobe After Effects, sound effects packs—all kinds of things that our audience wants. We’ve also started a weekly YouTube show called Variant that focuses entirely on comics.

Adobe: Which software have you chosen to use over the years?
Connolly: After Effects has always been our go-to for visual effects. For editing, I started using Adobe Premiere Pro right off, and then switched to Final Cut Pro when I went to film school. When Apple introduced Final Cut Pro X that was the end of that.

I’m now back on Premiere Pro CC and its integration with all the Adobe software is amazing. It saves me hours every week because I’m not spending time rendering out sequences and trying to put them back in the timeline and fuss with them. The first time I saw Dynamic Link, I was amazed. If an edit to an effect is required, I just Dynamic Link the change from After Effects CC and have it flow to Premiere Pro CC automatically. The integration among all the Adobe software programs just seems to get better and better.

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Adobe: Now that you have Adobe Creative Cloud, which applications do you use most?
Connolly: My main four are Premiere Pro CC, After Effects CC, Audition CC, and Photoshop CC. Every now and again I use SpeedGrade CC for color correction and I’ve also started using Story Plus CC for collaborative scriptwriting, which I first tried because it was available to me through Creative Cloud; it’s the best collaborative scriptwriting software on the market, in my opinion. My designers also use Illustrator CC for title designs and so forth. I have to say, once I got Creative Cloud, I downloaded all kinds of software and kept thinking, “Wow, I can have this, too?” The choices were exciting.

Adobe: How big is your team and what volumes of content do you produce?
Connolly: Today, we have four full-time and two part-time employees. Two of us are editors and we have one VFX expert. The others are focused more on logistics such as shipping, customer service, and social networking. I’m the only all-around filmmaker. I focus on writing, producing, and editing—tossing the heavier visual effects stuff to our VFX artist. In terms of volume, we produce a lot of content between our weekly shows and other projects. We’re doing about three online episodes per week in addition to short films and miniseries-type work. We recently created a short film called Proximity. There’s always a ton going on.

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Adobe: How can your team keep up?
Connolly: A lot of it has to do with Creative Cloud. It’s so important to have everyone on the same software versions and be able to bounce everything back and forth on Macs or PCs. There are fewer kinks and version control issues in the workflow and that makes it easier for our small team to stay incredibly productive.

Adobe: How has your audience grown?
Connolly: We’re always looking at our Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube numbers. When the numbers get stagnant, we know we need to switch gears and amp things up. We experienced gradual growth for many years, but over the past year-and-a-half our growth has accelerated. During that time we doubled what initially took us three or four years to grow. We now have 441,000 YouTube subscribers and more than 66 million views of our Film Riot videos.

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Adobe: What’s next for you?
Connolly: We plan to get into more new media and online shows as well as publishing comic books. We’ll continue to create short films, but we really want to move into creating full-length feature films. For now, one of the things I find most exciting is to have the opportunity to be somewhat of an online presence. It has been exciting to build a community that is friendly, collaborative, and constructive for creative indie filmmakers.

Watch Adobe & The Frog, Ryan’s recent video produced in conjunction with Adobe.
Learn more about the video apps and services in Adobe Creative Cloud.
Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud.

8:28 AM Permalink

We’re Here! Team Adobe at NAB 2014

Today the Adobe Pro Video team kicks of our presence at the 2014 National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas. NAB is the biggest North American tradeshow of the year for us and we’ve been looking forward to it for months.

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The product teams have been working tirelessly on all the new features that were revealed last week and we can’t wait to show them to you. If you’re attending NAB, be sure to stop by the Adobe booth and say hello (SL3910 in the Lower South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center), check out all the new updates in the demo pods, and ask questions. We have a packed schedule on our main stage too including presentations on what’s coming next to Creative Cloud for video as well as some of the fantastic things other filmmakers, post houses, and broadcasters are doing with the Creative Cloud tools. (Hint: If you want to see zombies from AMC’s The Walking Dead, come by to see Sam Nicholson from Stargate Studios.)

Speaking of customers, I was lucky enough to moderate a really engaging keynote panel “Breaking the Rules: The Next-Gen Content Creator” at Post|Production World last weekend where customers Ryan Connolly (Film Riot/Triune Films), Kanen Flowers (That Post Show/That Studio) and Peter Salvia (YouTube Nation) talked about the next generation of media creation and bypassing traditional broadcast outlets. For more on the keynote, check our highlight video.

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In addition to Adobe’s booth at NAB—where attendees can see all the goodness coming soon to Adobe Creative Cloud for video—they can also find Adobe Creative Cloud (and specifically Adobe Premiere Pro) being demoed in over 130 partner booths across the NAB show floor. The partner ecosystem is integral to bringing the fastest, most powerful and streamlined workflows to Premiere Pro customers so its an incredibly big focus for the Adobe Pro Video team. And there’s so much more to come: The one-and-only Al Mooney will be presenting at the Las Vegas Supermeet later this week and we’ll be interviewing product team members and customers.

If you’re not in Vegas, we’ll bring Vegas to you—all week long: Stay tuned to the NAB 2014 Channel on Adobe TV for a front row seat to the latest from the show; and make sure to catch our special NAB Ask a Video Pro session on Thursday, April 10 at 10:00 am PT. Jason Levine will be demoing the latest innovations coming to the Creative Cloud video apps like Premiere Pro and After Effects during “What’s coming next in Creative Cloud for video” a one-hour overview and Q&A. Join us. Register free.

Check out our short  demo videos of the top new features coming soon to our Pro Video tools:
Premiere Pro CC
After Effects CC
SpeedGrade CC
Audition CC
Adobe Media Encoder CC

7:14 AM Permalink

Revealing The Next Wave of Innovation in Pro Video Apps

Creative Cloud delivers the complete filmmaker’s toolkit at NAB 2014

Editing and video content creation workflows are about to get easier and more exciting, with major updates coming soon to Creative Cloud, bringing more Adobe magic, expanded support for cutting edge technologies, and an even more connected creative experience. At NAB 2014 Adobe will preview the next wave of innovation in pro video, including Adobe Premiere Pro CC, Adobe After Effects CC, Adobe Prelude CC, Adobe Audition CC, Adobe SpeedGrade CC, Adobe Story CC Plus, Adobe Media Encoder CC and Adobe Anywhere for video. (See what we have planned for NAB 2014.)

Creative Cloud delivers the tools you need to build the right pipeline for every project. Move content smoothly between applications and between users as you craft the final result.

Creative Cloud delivers the tools you need to build the right pipeline for every project. Move content smoothly between applications and between users as you craft the final result.

A more powerful NLE
The Adobe pro video applications already set the standard for integration, and the next wave adds even more interoperability. Two major new features in Premiere Pro leverage After Effects technologies to enable editors to do even more within their NLE. With Live Text templates, users can modify text in After Effects compositions without leaving Premiere Pro. Powerful new Masking and Tracking in Premiere Pro make it easy to add feathered masks that follow a subject through a shot which makes it a breeze to add an effect to a moving object, or to blur out faces or logos for the duration of a shot. Both features include support for Dynamic Link so clips with Live Text templates or Masking and Tracking data can be opened in After Effects for additional fine-tuning or additional animation.

With the new Master Clip effect feature, changes that are applied to a Master Clip ripple down to every part of that clip in a sequence—so there’s no need to copy and paste effects to each clip individually. The Premiere Pro update also offers a faster editing workflow with improved handling of large projects and accelerated sorting and searching in the Project panel, as well as enhanced graphics performance with support for a wider range of GPUs, including GPU debayering for RED media.

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“Premiere Pro offers industry-leading support for the latest file formats and hardware, so that today’s editors can handle almost anything you can throw at them, whether it’s 4K RAW material, or  footage from one of the new cameras, like the ALEXA AMIRA,” said Al Mooney, senior product manager. “And with all the new integrations between Premiere Pro and other Creative Cloud tools and services, editors have never had more creative power at their fingertips.’ (Watch this preview of the Premiere Pro update.)

A more connected After Effects
Along with the new Live Text Template and Masking and Tracking integration with Premiere Pro, After Effects artists will love the new keying effects for getting better results from compressed or poorly-shot blue- or green-screen footage with the new Key Cleaner effect, especially in conjunction with the new Spill Suppressor effect for controlling color spills.NAB3_KeyCleaner

The After Effects update also includes Kuler integration, so users can capture colors on an iPhone or in a browser and save them as color swatch themes, to use in motion graphics compositions, or as references for VFX work. In addition, Adobe Typekit integration provides access to over 700 fonts in the Typekit library, and the improved Media Browser makes it easy to navigate, including complex media types, such as P2 and XDCAM material.

“From high profile projects, like the The Walking Dead, to repairing shots in independent features, we’re seeing fantastic visual effects work being done in After Effects,” said Steve Forde, principal product manager. “Features like the new keying tools bring a little more of that Adobe magic into the workflow and allow artists to move through shots that much more easily.” (See the After Effects update preview video.)

The complete filmmaker’s toolkit
The new updates also offer a more flexible Direct Link color pipeline between Premiere Pro and SpeedGrade, the powerful grading application included with Creative Cloud.  The Direct Link integration now includes the ability to toggle the Lumetri effect on and off inside SpeedGrade and hide or show tracks or adjustment layers for an easier overview of complex timelines. The new Master Clip effect in Premiere Pro also works in SpeedGrade so grading adjustments applied to one part of a master clip automatically affect all the other parts of that clip on the timeline. With new broadcast standard scopes, including a new YUV Vectorscope, and more refined grading tools it’s never been easier to bring cinematic brilliance to video projects. (See what’s coming to SpeedGrade in this short video.)

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Adobe Audition, the Creative Cloud audio editing application, introduces support for Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus, making it easier to create deliverables for broadcast, along with enhance multitrack and custom channelization, so users can create audio with as many channels as required. The new update to Adobe Prelude, the ingest and logging app, introduces a Tag Panel, an innovation that dramatically speeds up shot logging by allowing users to create color-coded tags that can be added to footage with a single click. Building rough cuts in Prelude gets a lot simpler, too, with drag-and-drop assembly, ripple trimming, and new keyboard shortcuts. (Watch the Audition overview video.)

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Adobe Story CC Plus, the scriptwriting and project planning app, now offers support for Live Entertainment workflows, allowing broadcasters to customize scripts for programs with music-driven scripting and camera movements. Along with support for a huge range of formats, the new Adobe Media Encoder update can create DCPs for playback on Digital Cinema systems, and AS-11 content packages for creating broadcast deliverables. New fault-tolerant rendering auto-heals red and black frame issues without holding up your render queue. (Check out this Media Encoder preview video.)

Open to working Anywhere
Adobe Anywhere for video is a collaborative workflow platform that empowers Premiere Pro, After Effects and Prelude users to work together using centralized media and assets across standard networks. Adobe Anywhere is a separate offering from Creative Cloud, but support for connecting to Adobe Anywhere is already built in for every seat of Premiere Pro and Prelude—as well as early access integration for After Effects. New features for the next Anywhere update include Hot Backup, providing real-time back up of the Collaboration Hub; Rough Cut Support, making it easier to start editing rough cuts in Prelude and finish sequences in Premiere Pro; and improved integration with After Effects which allows you to use Dynamic Link in Anywhere productions to place After Effects compositions in Premiere Pro sequences.

“We live in an incredible time with industries moving away from narrowly-defined roles to a much more dynamic, more connected creative process,” said Bill Roberts, senior director or product management. It’s no exaggeration to say that to make a film today, all you need is a camera, a laptop, and Creative Cloud.”

Creative Cloud for everyone
There is a Creative Cloud plan for everyone, including monthly or annual individual memberships, Creative Cloud for teams (ideal for small businesses because it makes it easy to add or remove seats depending on how many staff are involved with a project), enterprise and education.

To learn more about the next wave of innovation in Creative Cloud for video, register for our special online webinar Thursday, April 10, 2014.

Download our NAB 2014 What’s New PDF.
For news, highlights and interviews from NAB 2014, follow #TeamAdobe on Facebook and Twitter.
Sign up now for Creative Cloud membership and take advantage of special introductory pricing for Creative Suite owners.

8:25 PM Permalink

Interactive Video Invention

Powster creates a striking user-interactive music video for Bombay Bicycle Club with Adobe Creative Cloud.

Powster is nothing if not innovative. The interactive and motion graphics company provides “over-the-top” content, concepts, and apps for the entertainment industry. Powster’s inspiring work has earned the firm multiple accolades, including Webby and FWA awards, and a designation as one of the few Facebook Preferred Marketing Developers. One of Powster’s latest endeavors is an interactive music video for the band Bombay Bicycle Club and their song “Carry Me.” Ste Thompson, founder and creative director of Powster, shares how the groundbreaking interactive music video came together.

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Adobe: Tell us more about Powster.
Thompson: We create entertaining content, marketing concepts, and applications/games. Our biggest strengths are video and interactive. We’re among the first creative studios making interactive music videos like the one for Bombay Bicycle Club. The project was exciting because it was one of our most creative and innovative projects. Our team is half video and half interactive led, so the “Carry Me” project was a perfect fit.

In addition, we write quite a bit of custom software to pull off some of our more unique projects. We created Orbital Video, a technology that allows us to have multiple cameras in a circle with a performer—break dancer, musician—in the middle. Once the video is complete and published, viewers can switch between camera feeds or pause the motion. Our Orbital Video technology sparked our interest in creating the interactive music video for Bombay Bicycle Club.

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Adobe: What makes the “Carry Me” music video unique?
Thompson: The video is an online experience that engages with audiences on a completely different level. It’s fun for users because they can manipulate the band members like stop-motion puppets. Users can control them and move their bodies while the band members continue drumming or lip-synching. The interactive experience with the music video is something very unusual, because it puts control in the hands of the viewer. As a side note, we created both the interactive version and a linear version that can be viewed more like a traditional music video.

Adobe: How did the idea for the video come about?
Thompson: Eadweard Muybridge, an English photographer from the late 1800s who studied motion and motion-picture projection, inspired the album theme, and the video. A lot of people know him from his studies of horses running; his work centers on taking multiple stills and weaving them together to create motion. It was Muybridge’s concepts and studies that established 24 frames per second as the standard for moving pictures. We created this project on the concept of a Zoetrope, a device that produces the illusion of motion from a rapid succession of static pictures.

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Adobe: Tell us more about the creative process behind the video.
Thompson: The whole idea was to be the first to make a linear piece of video footage interactive by allowing the user to switch between feeds, yet keep them in sync. We filmed 9 different camera feeds at 1080p resolution, animated them, and edited them together in Adobe Premiere Pro CC. We had 9 post-production processes on screen at once. Combined they were 5,000 pixels wide, so what we were trying to manage and edit was immense. We actually had to trick our graphics accelerator card and Adobe Premiere Pro CC so we could scale down every piece of footage and then scale each one back up in nested sequences, and retain quality. It was the opposite of most other workflows, where everyone wants to work with media at maximum resolution.

Adobe: How did you shoot the project?
Thompson: The shoot was fairly taxing. For us. And for the band. For example, we did nine different takes of the lead singer lip-synching and all the drummers drumming in different positions. It required a lot of patience and precise alignment, so we could play each frame after the other without it appearing jerky as viewers interacted with the footage.

Powster 3Adobe: Why did you choose Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
Thompson: The flexibility of Adobe Premiere Pro CC is unprecedented. We’re standardized on Adobe Creative Cloud for its integration and versatility. For editing and post-production on most of our projects, we often have to do some unusual processes. For this project, we were able to push the Adobe software successfully and use it in different ways.

Adobe: How did you use Adobe After Effects CC?
Thompson: After Effects CC was as crucial as Premiere Pro CC. Nine animators worked to add frames. We used Expressions in After Effects to replicate how users would interact with the footage in the HTML5 version, as if someone on a desktop machine or other device with a browser would engage with the footage in real-time. In this way, we were able to view and alter how each user would interact with the video to create the best experiences.

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Adobe: What other tools are you working with in Adobe Creative Cloud?
Thompson: Our main applications are Premiere Pro CC and After Effects CC, as well as Photoshop CC. We use Audition CC for sound editing, though we didn’t use it on this project specifically. We also do a lot of work destined for the web, so we are looking at Edge Inspect CC to obtain a snapshot of how projects will look on any device. Creative Cloud allows us to explore new creative possibilities and helps ensure that projects look and sound great on any device.

Adobe: If you had to sum up why you use Adobe Premiere Pro CC, what would you say?
Thompson: The reasons we use Premiere Pro CC are the same with the elements of Creative Cloud as a whole. We are not trying to make normal videos and films, so we need solutions that are flexible and allow us to experiment, innovate, and dream up new user interaction mechanisms. Creative Cloud and Premiere Pro CC are so versatile. They free us to create epic, interesting things.

Watch the making-of video.
Watch the interactive music video.
Follow Powster on Twitter.

Learn more about the video apps and services in Adobe Creative Cloud.
Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud.

9:00 AM Permalink