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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

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

Filmmakers Shine at SXSW 2014

The SXSW Film Conference & Festival is an opportunity for creative professionals to experience the latest and greatest of what up-and-coming filmmakers have to offer. Many of the films featured at this year’s festival were touched in some way by Adobe creative software; for editing, visual effects, title treatments, and even posters, it plays a critical role in helping filmmakers realize their visions. Six films that SXSW attendees can experience during their time in Austin, Texas:

Evaporating Borders, directed by Iva Radivojevic

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Named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film 2013, Iva Radivojevic’s first documentary feature premieres at SXSW 2014 on Tuesday, March 11. Radivojevic was born in Yugoslavia and moved to Cyprus with her family to escape the war. When she was eighteen, she came to the United States and has resided in New York City for the past fifteen years. She returned to Cyprus to film her first feature-length film, Evaporating Borders, a five-part visual essay/feature film that explores topics of migration, tolerance, identity, and belonging. The film first premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in January and is now poised to impress at SXSW in the “Visions” category.

The Immortalists, directed by Jason Sussberg and David Alvarado

Co-directors Jason Sussberg and David Alvarado met in Stanford University’s Documentary Film and Video program. They worked on a few projects together and soon realized that they shared an interest in science and technology. After graduating with MFAs, they collaborated to make the documentary film The Immortalists about two scientists working to discover a cure for aging. Initially edited with Final Cut Pro, the team switched to Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Premiere Pro CC mid-production. The Immortalists premiered on Saturday, March 8.

DamNation, directed by Travis Rummel and Ben Knight

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Directors Travis Rummel and Ben Knight have been making films together for ten years. After starting out as still photographers with no real working knowledge of how to make films, they were inspired to try filmmaking after attending Telluride’s Mountain Film Festival. Their first short film about fly fishing and water rights focused on the Black Canyon of Colorado’s Gunnison River and was accepted into the festival. Since then, the duo has made several films together, the most recent of which premiered at SXSW 2014 on Monday, March 10. Edited with an all-Adobe workflow, DamNation is a documentary about dam removal in the United States.

Buzzard, directed by Joel Potrykus

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Premiering at SXSW 2014, Joel Potrykus’s film Buzzard intentionally doesn’t fit a particular genre. A follow-up to his first film, Ape, the movie tracks a deadbeat check scammer through Detroit and is chock full of 1980s references—chugging Mountain Dew, Nintendo jokes, and heavy metal music. Brandon Bowman joined the production by chance, and shares his first experience working on a feature film and editing with Adobe Premiere Pro CC. Buzzard premiered at SXSW 2015 on Saturday, March 8.

OUR VINYL WEIGHS A TON, directed by Jeff Broadway

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Since 2009, Rob Bralver and Jeff Broadway of Gatling Pictures have worked together on documentary films that tell stories of social importance. Their latest project, OUR VINYL WEIGHS A TON (THIS IS STONES THROW RECORDS), explores the history of Stones Throw Records, a record label committed to independence and artistic freedom. The film—featuring interviews with Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Common, Questlove, Talib Kweli, Mike D (The Beastie Boys), and Tyler the Creator—premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June 2013 and screened at SXSW 2014 on March 7.

No No: A Dockumentary, directed by Jeffrey Radice

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Jeffrey Radice got into filmmaking in a non-traditional way. He was working in IT and making a decent income when friends asked him to fund their moviemaking efforts. After producing two consecutive short films at the Sundance Film Festival, he decided to jump in and try his hand at directing. Ten years later, Radice found himself back at Sundance for his directorial debut with the feature film No No: A Dockumentary. On Saturday, March 8 the film opened at SXSW 2014 in the “Festival Favorites” category and as part of the inaugural “SXsports.”

6:29 AM Permalink

Don’t Fast Forward

Commercial television editor delivers stunning spots using an Adobe Creative Cloud workflow

Our friend Adam Pertofsky at Rock Paper Scissors has been busy these last few months. Since we last spoke with him, he’s completed the third part of the Captain Morgan series of commercials and cut three additional spots, one of which aired during the Super Bowl. We took a few minutes to catch up with him on his recent projects and use of Adobe Creative Cloud:

Adobe: Tell us about the Super Bowl commercial you worked on.
Pertofsky: It is the 60-second “Going All The Way” Coca-Cola spot that aired during the second half of the game. We worked on it with Wieden+Kennedy. I did all of the editing in Premiere Pro CC, as well as some color correction for the client presentation. It is a really sweet, classic spot that a lot of people will be moved by and enjoy.

Adobe: What other projects have you worked on?
Pertofsky: I cut a simple, funny commercial for Chevy that will air during the Winter Games. It was an easy process of working in Premiere Pro to do cuts and throw in some graphics using the Luma Key. I also used the title tool in Premiere Pro to set up a string of options for the creative director to look at and it was amazing and super simple.

Adobe: Did you use any other Adobe tools on this project?
Pertofsky: I’ve been using a lot of Adobe Media Encoder, which I find really fast and terrific. Recently, I was at my daughter’s volleyball practice and I needed to do some unexpected cut downs for the Chevy spot. I jumped into the back of my car, set up the project, did the cut downs, threw them into Media Encoder and was able to upload them using my phone.

Adobe: What’s the biggest project you’ve worked on recently?
Pertofsky: I cut a four-and-a-half minute commercial for Samsung with R/GA San Francisco. In the spot, aliens take over the earth and challenge the world to a game of football (soccer). It is a massive spot with a lot of variations and the version I worked on ties everything together. I used a lot of tools within Premiere Pro and a lot of After Effects CC, which was terrific. Reframing things and putting them in the right position before sending everything to the post house for final finishing was so easy and fast in Premiere Pro.

Adobe: How do you feel about the Captain Morgan series you completed?
Pertofsky: The last Captain Morgan spot came out great and I’m really proud of it. The project involved heavy use of After Effects and Premiere Pro. I love knowing that when I have a big effects gig going I have powerful programs that I can work with to make the offline presentation look good. For the Captain Morgan spot I used After Effects to create a garbage matte around an object that let me move things around easily and quickly, which was a huge help. Moving elements around and reframing is much easier and faster thanks to Dynamic Link; I can line everything up in Premiere Pro, quickly jump into After Effects, and then easily go back and open the project in Premiere Pro again with all of the moves applied.

Adobe: Now that you’ve been working with Adobe Premiere Pro CC for a while, have you made any new discoveries?
Pertofsky: One of the tools that works great in Premiere Pro is mixing on the fly. I can set it up, mix the spot, and it leaves keyframes behind that I can manipulate further later. A lot of times as I’m showing a rough cut to a client I’m actually mixing it in Premiere Pro at the same time. Then when they ask to watch it again, I’m just fixing the mix and it speeds up the whole process. This is also useful because clients don’t have the appetite to look at rough cuts, they want to see it as close to finished as possible without paying for it to be finished. We have to do as much as possible in the cutting room to make it look good. All of the LUTs that are in Premiere Pro are terrific for doing quick color changes.

Adobe: Are there any other tools that help speed your workflow?
Pertofsky: I have an NVIDIA Quadro K5000 and it makes me completely forget about rendering. With everything going in and out of After Effects and adding effects in Premiere Pro, it never slows me down.

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

9:59 AM Permalink

Hearst Television covers The Winter Games

A remote team uses laptops equipped with Adobe Premiere Pro CC to edit and package athlete stories

Since the beginning of the Winter Games, Hearst Television has been on site in Sochi delivering general coverage, as well as profiles of individual Team USA athletes. Hearst relies on a tapeless workflow and reporters in the newsroom and out in the field use Premiere Pro, part of Adobe Creative Cloud, to assemble and edit their stories.
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The broadcaster moved its news operations to a file-based pipeline four years ago. As part of the transition, it partnered with Adobe for its editing platform combined with a Bitcentral production system.

“We brought people from the stations into the transition process very early, so it worked out well and they were really pleased with it,” says Joe Addalia, director of technology projects for Hearst Television. “In our creative services group the team immediately wrapped their arms around the Adobe workflow; when the creative people start saying how much they love Adobe tools the news people hear them and start becoming champions too.”

Today, 19 of the 25 Hearst stations that produce news use Premiere Pro for day-to-day cutting of news stories. In the field crews are equipped with HP or Dell laptops running Premiere Pro and sometimes Prelude.

This month, the remote workflow is being put to the test: A team of eight people, including a mix of photojournalists, reporters, producers, and a technical lead are working on-site in Sochi putting together human interest stories about athletes who live in the communities where Hearst broadcasts. The team is covering U.S. athletes in their local markets, with additional material delivered to Hearst’s ten NBC affiliates.

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“It’s my job to make sure everyone’s laptop does what it is supposed to do in a foreign environment,” says Larry Vancini, Hearst’s technical lead on the project. “Once the crews and teams acquire the news and create a package, I get the finished packages back to the stations and handle any necessary embargoing. If something is shot only for NBC, and only for Louisville, the correct metadata must be present when that package is uploaded.”

Vancini uses Media Encoder to output the proper file formats, including presets he has created for standard definition and high definition H.264. Of the nineteen stations that have Premiere Pro, seventeen of them also use Bitcentral as their production system. Metadata is entered within Bitcentral whenever content is uploaded. Once the material is ready, the network of Bitcentral stations are alerted that the content is available and the remaining stations have access to it via a web browser.

In order to handle the amount of content it’s tasked with creating in Sochi, the Hearst team pre-writes most stories—which helps the team organize their time and gives them the ability to jump on stories that develop in the moment. Reporters may use previously shot content of local athletes and combine it with fresh Sochi footage. Producers laying out the plans have a seven hour time difference in their favor so they can work a day ahead and get direct feedback from the stations, when necessary.

While reporters don’t have the luxury of working a story right until the moment it goes to air, in Sochi only one news package each day is date- and time-sensitive, all other stories can be completed and uploaded a day ahead of time, so the stations have plenty of time to bring them to air. Despite distance and bandwidth constraints, the team is excited to be working on site at The Games and delivering high-quality content back to local stations hungry for coverage.

“We’ve dabbled with the system since the election and also used it for localized coverage of the Zimmerman trial,” says Vancini. “In that case we were in the same time zone and all content was edited locally with Premiere Pro and encoded using Media Encoder. We pushed the files back on a high speed pipe and it worked flawlessly. We’ve taken this model and applied it to our Sochi workflow and it’s going well.”

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud

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12:08 PM Permalink

Will Read: An Integrated Approach to Filmmaking

Editors note: Cinematographer and colorist Will Read is presenting a one hour Ask a Video Pro online seminar this week: Crafting the perfect image: from camera to color grading is on Thursday, February 6 at 10:00am PST.

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“Better tools are allowing films and videos to be finished by fewer people who have greater control, resulting in better programs with a clearer creative voice. 
- Will Read

London-based filmmaker Will Read is part of the new generation of digital artists, and works as a director, cinematographer, editor, and especially, as a colorist. He has completed commercial, broadcast, and long-form content in conventional and 3D formats for a long list of clients, including Saatchi & Saatchi, Bloomberg Television, ITV, Team Angelica, Adidas, Canon, and numerous others.

We spoke with Will about his work, his vision, and his tools.

What made you decide you wanted to be a filmmaker?

As an art student in high-school, I was fascinated with photography, writing and theatre, but it took me a while to connect the dots and put everything together. When I was watching the DVD extras of Sophia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation,” it hit me. I saw the director and director of photography, Lance Accord, working together and it struck me as the coolest form of art where story, writing, photography, music, theatre and so on, all gelled together.

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1:03 PM Permalink

Drew Christie returns to Sundance

Animated short film leverages tools in Adobe Creative Cloud

Drew Christie is a new kind of multimedia artist, as comfortable with pen and ink as he is with computers and creative software. Allergy to Originality, which will be shown at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is a case in point, demonstrating how fluidly he moves between natural media and digital image manipulations.

Drew-Christie-Allergy-to-Originality-Adobe-Sundance-03Combining illustration with animation, the short film riffs on the theme of originality and plagiarism with long passages lifted verbatim from Wikipedia. The piece maintains a natural hand-drawn feel along with the uneven, slightly jumpy cinema of the old silent movies.

“I started creating animation before I knew what animation was,” recalls Christie. “When I was a young child I filmed my Star Wars figures using my dad’s video camera. It just went on from there.”

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2:06 PM Permalink

Live from Sundance: Adobe to stream filmmaker panel on January 17

The changing face of independent film

With today’s technologies, low budget no longer means low-quality for independent filmmakers. On January 17, 2014 Adobe will present a special panel discussion at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival where filmmakers will discuss their work, their workflows and why they believe that awe-inspiring storytelling and high production value are possible, on modest, or even micro budgets.

The panel will feature Jim Mickle, Kyle Alvarez, and HaZ Dulull. Director Jim Mickle has been earning critical acclaim for his gothic horror film We Are What We Are, which screened at Sundance in 2013 before seeing theatrical release. Writer and director Kyle Alvarez premiered his second feature at Sundance 2013. C.O.G. was released in theaters in September. Visual effects artist and director Hasraf ‘HaZ’ Dulull earned acclaim with his sci-fi short Project Kronos and now has a Hollywood feature film project in development.

Live-from-Sundance-2014-Filmmaker-Panel (more…)

3:11 PM Permalink

Adobe Creative Cloud for teams drives new video workflow: POPSUGAR’s Bjorn Pave

A global media and technology company at the intersection of content and commerce, POPSUGAR is a go‐to destination for the biggest moments, the hottest trends, and the best tips in entertainment, celebrity, fashion, beauty, fitness, food, parenting, and shopping.

POPSUGAR Studios develops, produces, and distributes original branded video content both live and on‐demand, providing user access to the best in editorial content. Offering more than 250 new, original videos, POPSUGAR Studios delivers programming to an audience of over 3,120 million visitors each month.

Bjorn Pave, director of information technology at POPSUGAR, has been overseeing the POPSUGAR Studios post‐production team’s transition to Adobe Creative Cloud for teams and Adobe Premiere Pro.

Tell us what you’re doing at POPSUGAR.

We redesigned our sites earlier this year with an updated look and feature enhancements. Additionally, we streamlined our content channels to optimize editorial slideshows, videos, and more. We’re also producing a live, daily news show, POPSUGAR Live!, which airs online twice a day from our Los Angeles and New York studios, streams continuously, and is also available on‐demand. Our properties rely heavily on video content and currently produce over 3,000 unique videos per year and growing!

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What prompted the move to Adobe Creative Cloud for teams?

Our post‐production team in Los Angeles used to use Final Cut Pro and recently decided to switch to Adobe Premiere Pro for better functionality and integration. I had been looking for an excuse to try out Adobe Creative Cloud for teams, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. It made sense for us to make the change after weighing the cost and access to a variety of video apps and services. We’re starting out with 27 licenses for our post‐production team, with plans to expand to other groups in the future.

Did you have any concerns about moving to Creative Cloud for teams?

Not really. We were worried at first about a SaaS offering, but all of the software is fully downloadable. It’s the same rich client that everyone’s familiar with, not a watered‐down version of the software. Because we keep a lean IT staff, the teams version actually helps us and allows users to add and remove seats as needed.

What would you say are the IT benefits of running Adobe Creative Cloud for teams?

In IT, it seems there is a constant struggle to make license management easier. I remember a time, not long ago, when I’d be searching high and low for discs with stickers, or papers stuffed in drawers, or trying to administer through an online portal, and it was always difficult to tell which vendor we purchased from, which team we purchased for, and when software was due for renewal. Moving licenses around was also a hassle. There was constant concern that costly software licenses might sit somewhere unused. With Creative Cloud for teams, the Admin Console interface is very straightforward. It’s easy to administer and assign others to administer. Team leads can be assigned to manage their own groups. It’s great, and I’m happy we’ve gone in this direction.

How does this compare to how you used to buy software?

IT used to be pretty locked down. We have a dispersed workforce so emailing license keys and sending discs through the mail is a practice we try to avoid. With Creative Cloud for teams, compliance is a lot easier. Downloading the needed Creative Suite software is simple, as is the ability to inventory installed software. With the move to cloud, it’s common to pay a monthly subscription for almost everything. It’s a model we’re used to, and it’s much easier to keep our software up‐to‐date.

How has the post‐production team responded to the switch to Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Creative Cloud for teams?

Our teams are happy with the move. With all the offerings, we encourage our editors and designers to download new software and try it out. It’s an interesting scenario because it’s no longer IT dictating which products teams can have; it’s now the teams telling IT which products fit their needs. This is a great way to promote creativity and productivity.

How are staff members reacting to the storage and collaboration capabilities of Adobe Creative Cloud for teams?

We’ve seen a lot more collaboration across multiple locations. I think we’ve used every collaboration tool available, and everybody understands the benefits of saving and sharing files through the cloud. The most interesting thing to see moving forward, as people get used to the software, is how workflows will evolve. I think we’re just beginning to scratch the surface of what we’ll be able to do, and I look forward to seeing what people discover as they dig deeper into Creative Cloud for teams.

1:53 PM Permalink