At this year’s Adobe MAX conference, Academy award-winning Visual Effects Supervisor Rob Legato excited the audience by sharing a glimpse behind the scenes of work he’s done on major blockbuster films such as Apollo 13, Titanic, Aviator and Hugo. He reveals his secrets behind visual effects, his inspirations, and creative process.
Known for creating visual effects so good the audience doesn’t realize that they are effects, Legato aims to transport the movie-goer into another time and place. His ideation process is surprisingly simple, as he looks to the past for inspiration. His talent, coupled with the use of creative tools for video professionals from Adobe, help Legato execute beautiful and memorable scenes in modern-day film.
For more, you can view his entire talk on Adobe TV or below:
We’ll be focusing on all-things video production for the remainder of this week. Be sure to check us out on Facebook and Twitter for more inspirational stories, creative work and product news and tutorials.
As we take some time to focus on video production, we wanted to spotlight individuals who are masters of all things animation, our Creative Cloud logo redesign artists Dvein.
Based out of Barcelona, Dvein is not your run of the mill production and design firm. They are a collective of three directors who love animation, design, and all things creative. Fernando Dominquez, Creative Director for Dvein, defined it best when he said, “It’s a factory of all the things that you can imagine.”
Creative Cloud assists the creative minds at Dvein in each and every step in their creative process. Beginning with initial sketches, they utilize Photoshop to take their ideas to a whole new level. Then, they use the power of Premier Pro or After Effects when they are ready to turn creations into animations.
The icing on the cake; Behance integration in Creative Cloud enables Dvein to better expose themselves to the design community and connect with international clients.
Dvein:The Vein ‘Magma’
Dvein on the web:
“I work without seeing what I’m creating. Programming is like writing words.”
If qubibi’s words rings true for you, you might want to dive a bit deeper into his story. qubibi’s inspiration spurs from his observations around his home city Tokyo, Japan. He uses the city’s energy to craft his designs, emphasizing in animation. When asked how he turns an idea into art, he reveals, “I begin by writing and then I imagine music. After that, I start using digital tools like Photoshop without making any sketches, I just work directly on the computer and see how it evolves… In my case I can’t create art without Creative Cloud.” Check out his recent redesign of the Creative Cloud logo and more background on his work in the video below:
The Creative Cloud provides designers like qubibi with built-in shortcuts for everything from debugging to simple animations so they can spend less time on tedious tasks and focus on what makes web design fun, creativity. qubibi uses Creative Cloud to access his work from any computer at any time and benefits from sharing his work with fellow designers on Behance. Find out more about Creative Cloud and the future for web designers like you.
Twisted, dark and awesome. Three words that describe the work of the creative team and visual artists that make up McFarland & Pecci. Still relatively new Creative Cloud members, these fellas have wasted no time utilizing the broad range of tools and programs to create one-of-a-kind work. A documentary film for well-known “metal core” band, Killswitch Engage? They’ve done it. High concept cover art for the Boston Phoenix? Sure. See what we mean about twisted, dark and awesome?
We engaged in a lightning round Q&A session with them to get more details on why Creative Cloud works for them. The diverse amount of products offered, the seamless syncing, constant updates, and bug fixes are just a few reasons why this duo takes creativity to a whole new level.
Adobe: Describe a project you are currently working on or have completed with Creative Cloud.
McFarland & Pecci: We signed up for Creative Cloud a few months ago and jumped right into a few projects with Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Photoshop. McFarland & Pecci is a creative team of directors and visual artists. We create everything from high concept photo shoots to feature films and documentaries. The past few months have kept us busy in post-production on the new Killswitch Engage documentary called “New Awakening”, the new music video for CZARFACE featuring Inspectah Deck from Wu-Tang, one of the final high concept covers for the Boston Phoenix, and an upcoming “double secret” comic book film.
What was your inspiration behind the project?
We love to tell stories, and we tend to be drawn to darker subject matter and artists that are obsessed with their craft. The film on Killswitch Engage was a fun project that allowed us to focus on the guys as a family unit and we kept our gear tight and our crew small. The CZARFACE video is deeply rooted in our love for Grindhouse flicks and Shaw Brothers films, and the ‘End of the World’ photo shoot was completely influenced by the epic magic of Michael Bay!
How has the Creative Cloud changed your creative workflow?
We switched to Premiere Pro to simplify our workflow. Plain and simple. We shot CZARFACE with the RED EPIC in 5K with Hawk anamorphic lenses. The piece required a lot of compositing in After Effects and color grading. The fact that I could bring the raw files right into my timeline and directly export to After Effects made our lives so much easier. A competitor’s program has really dropped the ball when it comes to professional editing these days so we were looking for a smart move. Just the time saved by not having to transcode footage from the RED and/or DSLRs was enough of a reason to make the jump to Premiere Pro.
What tools specific to Creative Cloud enable you to work more efficiently?
As mentioned earlier, all the new benefits of Premier Pro were our big draw in the video side of things, but the new version of Photoshop and its retouching tools and amazing smart layers really helped us composite these giant “End of the World” files. We have always been Adobe fans in one way or another, but having it all in one spot really helps us. The cloud helps us keep both systems identical in our edit bays, and the constant updates have fixed a lot of software bugs already.
Describe your style of work in three words
Really F$#Kin Awesome!
Fill in the blank: I couldn’t create without _________.
Our twisted minds and the tools that can keep up with them.
What advice would you give to an individual who is considering Creative Cloud?
If you are a video editor, make the jump to Premier Pro. Just do it. Creative Cloud is the smart choice; you sign up and download everything you need. It even runs on two systems. Makes having a post house a lot easier.
Dig their work? Check out Mcfarland & Pecci on Facebook, visit our website to see more films – www.mcfarlandandpecci.com – or follow directors @MikePecci and @Ian_McFarland on Twitter for behind the scenes content and tutorials.
GIF art otherwise known as “gif-iti” is a growing style of art. Last month, our friends at FastCoDesign spotlighted Paolo Ceric, an individual who has been identified as an animated GIF traditionalist. We were so impressed by Paolo’s unique focus and use of Adobe tooling that we had to feature his work on our blog.
Paolo uses After Effects, the animation and compositing software for motion graphics and visual effects. Using this product, he works on altering the composition look, colors and gradient to his liking.
The cool thing about [After Effects] is the idea of “compositions” and the procedurality it offers. Making things procedural is very important to me because it lets me change things “in the past” which then affect the final product without any trouble.
Check out some of his work below and view the rest of his collection of creations on Tumblr.
Director Ross Ching has mastered the art of the time-lapse video and has recently done it in very innovative way. He has created an eerie video series, titled “Empty America,” by removing the hustle and bustle that normally is the heartbeat of major U.S. cities, using Creative Suite 6 applications, Photoshop, After Effects and Premiere Pro. Check out our exchange with Ross on his inspiration and some of his quick video tips.
Adobe: Can you give a quick description highlighting your creative process/creative workflow for Empty America?
Ross Ching: People really find connections with things they recognize in situations that they don’t recognize. It’s almost as if the viewer is in on an inside joke. It’s something that I always try to incorporate into my work, and that’s why time-lapse, super slow motion and stop motion are so prevalent on the Internet. So when deciding which cities to feature in this series, I wanted people who have never even been to the locations to be able to pick out landmarks that they’ve seen before.
What was your inspiration behind the project?
I live in Los Angeles. I drive in Los Angeles. I think about traffic a lot in Los Angeles. A couple years ago, I discovered Matt Logue’s Empty LA photographs. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but every time I was stuck in rush hour all-hour traffic, I found myself thinking, “What if tomorrow everyone’s car disappeared?” What would that scene look like? How would people react? How quickly would the atmosphere rebound from centuries of fossil fuel emissions?
So I took Matt Logue’s still photography concept and applied it to something that I do best — time lapse. That Los Angeles video was very successful, and so I pitched an expansion of it to Thrash Lab, a destination for digital filmmakers created by Ashton Kutcher’s Katalyst Network. They really liked it and believed in my work, and it’s now the biggest set of videos on the channel.
Do you have any useful tips or techniques to share with the community?
When creating something for the Internet, people’s attention span is VERY short. Think about how you look at other videos on YouTube and think about the how long it takes you to either skip through the video or click the back button. Our main goal as a video creator is to get the viewer to watch from beginning to end without skipping or hitting the back button. If they’re able to do that, they’re MANY times more likely to share the video with a friend — and that’s how seeds of viral videos are made. So let’s look at the elements to do that:
Must be short — 3 or 4 minutes or less. I’ve got many other tabs open and my pot of water on the stove is about to boil.
The 10 second hook — Probably the most important aspect. We need to WOW the viewer right off the bat. That means either showing them something they’ve never seen, or some kind of filmmaking technique that’s really unique. Whatever it is, if your friend doesn’t say WOW when you tell them the first 10 seconds of the concept, it’s back to the drawing board.
Sustainability — Once you have them hooked, you need to create a device that pulls them to the end. Some examples: a story, beautiful cinematography, creative art, exciting visuals that are rarely seen. Anything that will get them interested in seeing what happens at the end.
Check out more from the Empty America series on Thrash Lab’s Facebook Page.
There’s no denying the fact that Brian Yap is one talented Adobe Touch Apps user. We’ve seen his Touch Apps projectssuch as the Grovemade iPhone/iPad Cases, his demo videos on Adobe TV , and we’re excited to bring you more of his great designs. This time around, Brian has lent his talents to the self-described “world punk” band Firewater for their recent music video titled “A Little Revolution.”
We chatted with Brian to learn how he utilized his favorite app, Adobe Ideas, CS6 tools, and Creative Cloud in making of the music video. Check out our interview below and pick up some useful tips along the way.
Adobe: How did this opportunity to work on the Firewater music video project come about?
Brian Yap: Paul Griswold contacted me about working together for no reason other than seeing and liking my illustrations on an Adobe TV video – where I was using Adobe Ideas and talking about how it fit my style. We connected and talked a bit about wanting to collaborate on a fun project. Then, earlier this year, a friend of Paul’s and musical hero of mine, Todd A., contacted him in the hopes that he could get help creating a music video on a tight budget. The band was Firewater and the video was created for the first single off their new album.
Live footage was shot in Turkey and was mixed with animation built from illustrations I did on the tablet with Adobe Ideas and then fine-tuned in Illustrator. The pieces were then animated with After Effects, as well as other programs outside of Adobe. Being able to work remotely made it possible for me to connect with these amazingly talented guys and get in on this project, without ever actually meeting them in person.
Talk us through your creative process. How did you approach this project?
I started by working with the team to come up with a bunch of visual concepts to illustrate. I began collecting references and sketching things out. The process was cool because I would feed Paul Griswold sheets of designs and pieces, and then when the test animations started, it lead to other ideas and concepts.
Usually, whenever someone tells you to just draw cool stuff, the first thing that happens is white paper freeze, but Firewater’s music and the tracks from the new album are so filled with energy and ideas that it was easy to get things flowing and get into it.
Tell us why Adobe Touch Apps, specifically Adobe Ideas, was an ideal tool to use for this task?
I was able to work while traveling with Ideas and the Creative Cloud and keep all the many pieces and designs organized. Being able to draw while traveling for another project, or get out of the office or studio and work on this project really kept me inspired. The vector-based quality of Ideas meant that the process of cleaning up a sketch to make it finished and the way I wanted was super fast and easy so I could explore a lot more pieces quickly and feel okay about not sending everything.
What was the inspiration behind the images you created?
All the inspiration for the work I contributed to the piece was from the song. The tone of the music, the energetic and upbeat sound, and the themes in the lyrics, all helped to lead everything from color to what I was drawing. The video footage shot in Turkey had a “dance number” skew/protest march. It helped inspire me to keep the illustrations meaningful but usable in a way that matched the tone of the song.
Speaking of music, how critical does music play in your creative process? What genre or music gets you in a creative mode?
I’m definitely an aging music nerd. Everything I do is inspired by the music I listen to and when possible, like this project, actually part of the work. Todd A and Firewater’s sound and big catalog were on constant repeat during this project, and I think I made some new fans for them around me because of it. A lot of time it’s hip hop, like Ghostface Killah. When I need to slow it down, like when I’m sketching or playing with concepts, I get into bands with a more songwriting, musical exploration type feel. Lately groups like Manouk, Manchester Orchestra, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and instrumental outfits, like Red Sparowes, are as important to me working as the tools I use to draw.
What tips/suggestions do you have for creative individuals thinking about getting into Adobe Ideas?
The pinch and zoom allows you to work with an almost infinite sized canvas. Drawing on a tablet with a photo layer is an unbelievable way to keep a reference file, sketchbook and finished canvases all in the same place. I always say, just play around with it. Get used to the features and what it does and then make the tool work the way you work.
For veteran users like yourself, what tips and/or techniques can you offer?
I was using Ideas for a year before bothering to play much with opacity. It led me to a whole new way of drawing with Ideas that look like pencil by using a super low opacity and black or grey and just layering strokes. Always keep playing with the app. I think the simplicity makes it easy to use for everyone, but there are some smart guys behind this application and the ways we as artists use it is only fenced in by our imagination and willingness to adapt to a new artistic tool.
For more on the making of the music video, check out the project on Behance.
The first time we discovered Jordan L. Rodgers, we were impressed by his ability to create with Adobe Touch Apps. We were blown away after stumbling upon his Adobe Ideas sketch of the RIBA façade via Twitter. We reached out to him, to learn more about his creative process – and of course, see more of his work!
Jordan was kind enough to discuss how Touch Apps have revolutionized his creative process. Check out what he shared with us below and then be sure to head over to our Adobe Touch Twitter channel to see the new background we’ve created from his sketches.
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Jordan Rodgers: As an artist I make use of the iPad as a tool to explore the comparisons between traditional drawing on paper and digital drawing applications. Since discovering Adobe Ideas, I have embarked on further research and exploration between art and technology as a means to record everyday journeys, drawn in the evolution of a Modern Metropolis.
How has Adobe Touch Apps improved your ability to create?
The ability to draw on a hand held tablet in any location allows one to document in new ways. The Adobe Ideas app provides the ability to zoom in and out while restricting oneself to 0.5 fine line and working from one’s finger touch for greater rhythm and flow while drawing the lines. I also tend to do a lot of building up and then undo lines I don’t feel reflect the scene adequately.
How much of a difference has direct touch input made to your creations?
Touch screens are revolutionizing the process of creation and represent a new perspective in drawing. Direct touch input has made a significant difference to my pieces.
How has the integration from Touch Apps through to the Creative Cloud features changed your workflow?
The integration from Touch Apps through to the Creative Cloud features has changed my work workflow in allowing the drawing to be kinetic and mobile from other devices (iPad, iPhone, Desktop). By utilizing this form of modern technology, I am then in a position to share my works via social media – from hosting a portfolio on my own website to using Twitter (@jordanlrodgers) as a means to engage with a diverse range of practitioners.
Which pairing of the Touch Apps and the applications within Creative Cloud is most instrumental to your creative process?
The pairing of Adobe Ideas and Photoshop CS6 application within Creative Cloud has proven to be most instrumental to my creative process when drawing traditional Arch-viz. I have also taken the initiative and paired up the use of Adobe Ideas app and explored visual effects, motion graphics in After Effects software with the purpose of creating depth by essentially projecting flat images onto some 3D geometry or AE 3D cards.
To see other projects from Jordan, visit www.jordanlrodgers.com. Also, reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter or even here if you’d like to have your work featured. We’re always on the lookout for talented Touch Apps users to feature!
Note: All images featured are the property of Jordan L. Rodgers.
You may have stumbled across Lee Daniels’ work on our Adobe Stories site or our Adobe Facebook Page, but we recently caught up with him to really find out the depths and origins of his creativity when it comes to animation and cartooning.
Adobe: What’s your story? How did you get to where you are today?
Lee Daniels: After experiencing a lack of support for cartooning in grammar school, I decided to get a job in graphic design rather than University education. I got to learn all the Adobe software by trial and error in a real world environment on company hardware, which was always better than what I could afford at the time. I then became a digital retouch artist and graphic designer for a magazine publishing firm for 13 years after leaving school. Since then, I’ve been working as a freelance illustrator in London for almost 4 years (8 including the crossover with my last design job).
Cartoons like Wile E. Coyote and Tom and Jerry. I always saw the levels of creativity, invention and escapism in cartoons as light-years ahead of the live action drip-feed in to our living room for the other 95% of viewing time.
Cartoons have always been generally viewed as childish because of the history in kids TV, which is why I like to use the medium to create work that is not necessarily childish – without taking it too far of course, that’s the job of South Park.
Inspiration: Is it easy to come by for you or is it a rare pearl? How do you find it?
My previous videos include everything from the misfortune of frogs, though triumphant hamsters, to incompetent Secret Service agents and intelligence tests for a reluctant chimp. Although there is no overriding theme to all, I would have to highlight the common thread as the success of seemingly inferior beings over their seemingly superior tormentors. So inspiration for this can be found pretty much anywhere and tends to come fairly easily. I’ve usually got about 2-3 ideas for future shorts in mind while working on any one project.
Yes, absolutely. Although this is almost impossible to do, I find the best way to get through a potential day-spoiler is to just drop everything, stop working and go for a run. Admittedly this is much easier to do now that I’m working for myself – leaving an employment situation in this fashion would be frowned-upon at best! The only real escape to freedom during a creative block in my old job was a trip to the coffee machine the long way round, which was not very inspiring.
What’s your go-to product within the Adobe Creative Suite? Why?
This may sound like a cop-out answer but my go to product is the Creative Suite. I like to view it as one playground. More specifically, if I’m static illustrating or cartooning, it would be a mixture of Illustrator and Photoshop. If I’m animating it would be the previous two plus After Effects, Premiere Pro and Soundbooth. If I’m doing a graphic design job it would be Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. But generally, whatever project I’m working on, I can guarantee to be pressing Apple + Tab multiple times throughout. I’ve downloaded free trials of a lot of different software over the years, but nothing comes close to Adobe in my opinion. I treated myself to the Master Collection after leaving my job to go freelance, and I wouldn’t change it for anything else.
What was your favorite project you worked on while using Adobe Creative Suite?
My most recent work ‘Jungle Brawl‘ is definitely my proudest achievement so far. I made a decision early on not to cut any corners when creating the background artwork and even playing the music myself on guitar as opposed to ‘loops’ (apart from the drum loops, which I don’t play). Previously, I’ve concentrated my efforts mainly on the characters, but I spent a lot of sleepless nights storyboarding, painting the rainforest environment and thinking of new ways to shoot the scenes in an attempt to keep up the filmic quality.
I utilized all the major Creative Suite applications during production – as you’ll see from the credits – and After Effects is definitely the star of the show, although heavily backed-up by Photoshop and Illustrator. After Effects is an incredibly powerful cartoon animating tool and I’m pleased to be championing its use for this medium.
Who are your creative role models?
Stylistically, I take inspiration from hundreds of undiscovered creatives in my online networks. Inspiration from more publicly known artists and companies would be some of the more obvious: Frank Miller, Jamie Hewlett, Patrick Brown, Dave Gibbons, Pixar, Warner Brothers.
If you could give one piece of advice to a new animator/artist starting out, what would it be?
Learn the software and practice, practice, practice. Every piece of software I’ve used has been predominantly learned by trial and error. I find that pure experimentation throws up unexpected problems and only deepens your knowledge in the long run by forcing you to learn what NOT to do.
To find out more about Lee’s upcoming work, you can follow him on Twitter @LeeDanielsART.
The 48 Hour Film Project is a weekend where filmmakers are challenged to create a short film with limited direction and a simple genre, all to develop a movie in just two days. One of our own employees here at Adobe, Kush Amerasinghe, accepted the challenge for the San Francisco, CA event and opted to use Creative Suite 6 and Adobe Touch Apps within the Creative Cloud in his team’s efforts to create a winning submission. Here’s Part I of our Q&A session with Kush and his film titled, The Bandit: