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.
We’re thrilled to announce a new feature called Creative Cloud Market, a collection of high-quality, curated assets for creatives by creatives. Now you can access a remarkable selection of vector graphics, icons, patterns, UI Kits, for-placement images, and more from your Creative Cloud Desktop app—all part of your subscription to Creative Cloud.
We’ve partnered with some of the most talented and experienced Creatives on Behance to create a library of ready-to-use, royalty-free assets that assist in the creative process. Gone are the days of scouring the web for UI/presentation kits, settling for mediocre placement images, and spending hours masking products and devices. Now you can access thousands of professionally crafted files including devices, branding layouts, wireframes, charts, vector shapes, repeatable patterns, backgrounds and brushes for your next personal or commercial project.
Creative Cloud Market is available to all paid Creative Cloud members except for Photography Plan customers (Photoshop Photography Plan and Creative Cloud Photography Plan). Creative Cloud members can download up to 500 unique assets each month including PSD, ABR, TPL, JPEG and PNG files. This powerful new service allows you to seamlessly find templates and objects to build upon, manipulate, and modify to jumpstart your creative process.
iOS and browser-based versions of Creative Cloud Market are in the works and will be released in the future. For more info on Creative Cloud Market for Desktop, please see our Help Page.
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.
This UK serial drama and reality TV creator excels at meeting intense production demands with Adobe Story CC Plus and Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise.
Great stories, brilliantly told
Lime Pictures knows all too well the demanding scheduling and production requirements of daily television. The largest operating group within All3Media, the top UK Ltd indie known for multi-award-winning, long-running TV productions, Lime Pictures produces headline-grabbing programs including Hollyoaks (C4), Rockets Island (CBBC), The Only Way Is Essex (ITV2), and Geordie Shore (MTV).
Each series requires a tightly-orchestrated effort involving syncing shooting schedules with scripts, as well as lock-step coordination among camera crews, sets, and talent. Shows also hinge on great creative, graphics, and video that extend across both TV and online media.
With the popularity and number of programs increasing, the production company’s needs had continued to intensify, and its aging in-house system was struggling to keep up. Lime Pictures needed a more capable, progressive solution and chose Adobe Story CC Plus and Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise.
“We were using legacy applications for scripting and scheduling that were no longer meeting our needs,” says Gary Winn, IT manager for Lime Pictures. “We wanted to modernize our infrastructure and processes and Adobe Story CC Plus and Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise gave us that opportunity.
Advanced scripting and scheduling
Lime Pictures was aware that ITV had adopted Adobe Story CC Plus with great success and the broadcaster’s positive experience factored into Lime Pictures’ decision to adopt: “The solution did 80% of what we needed it to do ‘out of the box’ and we were able to customize the rest to meet our specific needs,” says Winn. “Adobe Story CC Plus was the only product we found that supported continuing series—that functionality was a real jewel for us.”
Adobe Story CC Plus has strong scripting and scheduling capabilities, complemented by product updates delivered through Creative Cloud. The ability to access information at any time and on any device allows teams to easily collaborate, even when they aren’t sitting side by side; it also offers comprehensive reporting, delivering insights that allow Lime Pictures to continually streamline its processes.
“Adobe Story CC Plus is more flexible and open than other scripting and scheduling options on the market,” says Winn. “Because it’s a cloud-based environment, our writers and schedulers can use the software on mobile devices with complete visibility and synchronicity. We have virtually eliminated the need to print scripts by using electronic versions and everyone can tap into the latest amendments to scripts or schedules at any time, from anywhere.”
Improved software access
Another priority for Lime Pictures was to equip employees with world-class creative apps from Adobe in the easiest way possible. Lime Pictures traditionally had a mixture of different Adobe software products and suites with individual boxes and serial numbers. Maintaining the right number of licenses and keeping versions current was often challenging. When Winn learned about Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise, he saw how it would streamline IT and budgeting efforts, simplify deployment, and centralize software management. In addition, the enterprise license enabled Lime Pictures to access additional Adobe Story CC Plus reporting functionality.
“We’re already seeing the benefits of engaging more closely with Adobe through an enterprise arrangement,” says Winn. “The Adobe team is brilliant and has been instrumental in helping us advance the business.” By purchasing Creative Cloud through an enterprise term license agreement, Lime Pictures now has a single source for licensing and support, as well as access to multiple tools. The company’s Creative Cloud for enterprise licenses are used by graphics and digital departments, as well as its post-production facility in Liverpool, England.
Some team members only need Adobe Photoshop CC, while others might need Adobe After Effects CC or Adobe Acrobat XI Pro. Some need almost all of the Adobe creative products. To tailor each user’s environment, Winn is using the Creative Cloud Packager (which provides custom access to software among various team members) to create standard software packages for different groups.
“Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise allows us to control our environment,” Winn says. “The ability to package and deliver specific products to different users saves us time and makes the software easier to track.” Adoption of Creative Cloud for enterprise has also driven the use of new tools across various workflows: For example, the production team is experimenting with new products such as Adobe Prelude CC for ingest, with plans to introduce it into the live environment. The company also has the freedom to begin
using products such as Adobe Premiere Pro CC to support its video production needs.
Streamlined licensing, management, and updates
The company has complete visibility into which licenses employees have and use and budgets are easier to manage. With Creative Cloud for enterprise, Lime Pictures can provide employees with everything they need and track licenses with ease.
“We’re able to keep our stakeholders on the latest software and eliminate version inconsistencies by providing Adobe Creative Cloud updates from a central location and at a regular cadence,” says Winn. “On the business side, Adobe Creative Cloud has given everyone—from IT to finance—a more streamlined approach to software purchasing.”
“Our main driver in moving to Adobe Story CC Plus and Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise was to move the business forward, which we’ve definitely accomplished,” says Winn. “The flexibility, visibility, cost savings, and other benefits that come with an enterprise agreement are tremendous bonuses.”
Read the Lime Pictures case study.
Now all Creative Cloud members can work well with others. New features in Creative Cloud Files allow you, your clients, and your colleagues to connect and collaborate more efficiently.
Invite other Creative Cloud users to collaborate by sharing folders with editing rights. Don’t worry about losing your vision: Recent iterations are tracked; if you don’t like what someone did, revert to another version with the click of a button.
What’s more, collaborative sharing makes distributing creative assets a breeze. With everything loaded in one place you bypass the need for email and, instead, manage team permissions and give each department access to everything they need.
You can also send links to share files and folders with anyone outside the cloud, and retain control by administering read-only rights. Creative Cloud membership is not required for others to view and comment on your high-fidelity preview, so you can quickly collect feedback from all parties, and make things as “jazzy” as they want them.
Once you manage and sync files via the Creative Cloud, modifications are automatically downloaded to all connected computers and devices.
Following the June 18 announcements about the 2014 release of Creative Cloud, our team of worldwide evangelists will be kicking off a series of CreateNow events across the globe.
Starting now, we’re kicking off the 2014 CreateNow World Tour with interactive half-day Adobe events in 5 US cities and 32 additional locations led by Adobe user communities. At the same time, we’re taking CreateNow abroad over the summer and into the fall in Europe, Asia/Pacific and Japan.
The events are free, but require sign-up to reserve a spot (details below). Here’s what you can look forward to when you join us at one of our US Create Now Tour events:
They begin with an informal networking hour and a cool feature we call the Device Bar. It’s a chance to play around with Adobe Ink and Slide, the newly-announced Creative Cloud-connected pen and ruler; Adobe Line and Sketch our newest drawing and social sketching apps; and Adobe Photoshop Mix, a powerful new creative imaging app.
Afterward, we’ll head into our main program with our Adobe experts sharing some of the many updates just added to Creative Cloud. These include some of the hottest new features in Adobe Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC, InDesign CC, Premiere Pro CC and other desktop products. Our worldwide evangelists know the Creative Cloud inside-out and from every angle, and can answer questions about the applications and membership. This year we’ll be showcasing new creative processes with innovations like 3D printing from Photoshop CC, website design with Adobe Muse, and how to incorporate creativity captured on mobile devices into desktop workflows.
We’ll also share the powerful ways to take Creative Cloud to a collaborative level with features that save time and money (soliciting and providing feedback, creating personal work portfolios, and syncing workflows across devices and between programs) and open up modes of flexibility that can be tailored to individual needs.
We’ll also be bringing in guest speakers from outside Adobe who’ll share some of the ways they’ve used Creative Cloud to further their creative work. We’ll wrap-up by answering questions from the audience. We guarantee that people will leave with new information.
In Chicago, our guest speaker will be artist/designer Chuck Anderson of NoPattern; and in Los Angeles we’ll welcome film/TV producer Mick Ebeling. Keep an eye on the CreateNow events site for the remaining inspirational industry speakers we’ve invited.
CreateNow is designed for creative professionals, photographers and photography hobbyists, illustrators, animators, video professionals, and students—in short, anyone who wants to master new skills in design, web and mobile apps, digital imaging, video editing or use Creative Cloud on the job. It’s also a great way for people to discover the potential of the applications in Creative Cloud.
And for anyone who’s used Creative Suite in the past and isn’t familiar with the advantages of membership, CreateNow is the perfect place to learn more. Adobe Creative Cloud provides instant access to our constant stream of innovations, with new additions every month. What people who’ve attended CreateNow say about it:
“Terrifically put together and very professional and polished…”
“It’s great to see creative luminaries and where they’re going with their work, especially when they’re using the same software we’re using. It means it’s within our reach.”
We’re extremely excited to present what’s new and we hope you’ll join us. (Remember, CreateNow events are free but require registration to reserve a spot. Register today:
- Chicago (June 24)
- Los Angeles (July 9)
- San Francisco (July 15)
- Washington, DC (July 22)
- Seattle (July 29)
- 32 additional events in cities including Atlanta, Dallas, Phoenix, Toronto and more
The big Creative Cloud launch on June 18 (previewed at NAB 2014) introduced several After Effects CC-powered features in Premiere Pro CC that have reignited interest in Adobe’s motion graphics and visual effects powerhouse.
To many video editors, After Effects CC seems complex and, perhaps, somewhat intimidating: They’d like to add it to their skillset, but don’t know where to begin. That’s why Ask a Video Pro presented “After Effects for Editors” with master trainer Rich Harrington.
In the session, Rich gave a lot of great examples of how After Effects CC can aid editors in their work. Most importantly, he explained that the application is like a Swiss army knife…that editors don’t need to use every part of it in order to add a lot of power to their workflow.
The new Masking and Tracking feature in Premiere Pro is fantastically helpful to editors because it makes it easy to blur out faces, license plates, or product logos as they move through a shot. Rich demonstrated how to expand on that feature in After Effects CC, adding multiple blurs that move in and out behind objects (this alone is worth the price of admission; just kidding, Ask A Pro sessions are free). Then, in addition to how to animate type—handy for creating Live Text templates for use in Premiere Pro CC, Rich also introduced a number of other features:
- Dynamic Link between Premiere Pro and After Effects
- Animating still images
- Keying to remove image elements from their backgrounds
- Speed ramping
- Camera tracking
Watch the recorded session.
About the presenter
Rich Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, DC. A graphic design and new media expert, Rich has written several books, including An Editor’s Guide to Adobe Premiere Pro and is a popular trainer and presenter at digital media events across the US and around the world.