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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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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.
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.
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.
Combining 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.”
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.
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.
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!
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.
Adobe’s product teams are keenly aware of a creative professional’s desire to experience the highest quality creation experience. That is why I am delighted to announce our plans to optimize a selection of our products to display your content and creations on HiDPI displays, including the Retina Display available on the new MacBook Pro. Over the next few months, key Adobe products will deliver HiDPI display support to all customers on current releases.
HiDPI displays allow for a dramatic improvement in image fidelity and resolution. Naturally, designers, photographers and creative professionals want to take full advantage of this new technology. Software that is not native to HiDPI display uses interpolation to duplicate pixels to fill the screen, meaning text is not as sharp and images don’t have as much detail. The increased resolution of these displays requires that each product update the interface of the application and ensure that the content or the creation itself is displayed accurately with the appropriate level of fidelity. As an example, to enable HiDPI display support in Photoshop requires the replacement of 2500 icons and cursors and other engineering work which will be complete and ready for customers this Fall. This resolution shift in the new display technology presents unique challenges to teams that support bitmap, vector or video content. Therefore each product team will be releasing support for HiDPI display for Apple’s Retina Display as soon as the development is complete and tested for each individual product.
We expect to update the following products with HiDPI support, free to all CS6 and Creative Cloud customers, over the next few months:
Adobe Premiere Pro
We are currently evaluating the roadmap for when other products may support HiDPI displays, and we will announce those plans as they are finalized.
At Adobe we work hard to support the latest innovations. We will continue to release security patches, bug fixes and support new hardware changes, like HiDPI display support, to all of our customers outside of our regular development cycles just as we have always done. Additionally, with Creative Cloud we now have the opportunity to release new features as they are ready, outside of major release cycles. On August 28, Illustrator released several features exclusively to Creative Cloud members. I am excited to announce that beginning this Fall, even more our flagship products, including Photoshop, will begin to release features exclusively to Creative Cloud members. Creative Cloud members will be able to enjoy the latest product enhancements as they are ready without having to wait for major product releases.
This is an exciting time. Stay tuned over the next few months for more exciting developments to come.