This creative technology studio designs high-impact displays and improves software management with Adobe Creative Cloud for teams.
Investing in multidimensional experiences
Combining innovative technology with unique creative expression, Obscura Digital designs and develops immersive and interactive experiences for events worldwide. Unlike traditional digital agencies that focus on works for print or screen, Obscura specializes in interactive installations, engaging stage shows, and mapping video that turns nearly any surface—from an outdoor sculpture to an entire building—into a video screen.
“We focus on nontraditional mediums and work with people from a wide variety of backgrounds: musicians, artists, and technicians,” says Barry Threw, director of software at Obscura Digital.
For the grand re-opening of the San Francisco Exploratorium, a unique museum dedicated to science, art, and human perception, Obscura manufactured a series of miniature replicas of the building’s façade to capture unique video, including fluid dynamics, microorganisms, and living systems in high-definition, time-lapse video. At the opening, Obscura seamlessly mapped the video onto the front of the building.
“When we work with such large canvases, we need to start with ultra-high resolution images,” notes Threw. “Adobe creative software is not only an industry standard, it efficiently handles high-resolution outputs when other software can’t.”
Obscura used Adobe Premiere Pro to create and quickly edit proxy footage, and switched to Adobe After Effects for color correction, transitional moments, speed ramping, and master outputs. Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop were used for template creation and image cleanup, while Adobe Bridge assisted with overall file management and metadata annotation.
Obscura, part of the Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA) and an Adobe agency partner, recently purchased Creative Cloud for teams through Adobe.com. “We’ll often bring someone in on short notice to create or revise assets as client specifications shift,” says Threw. “With access to the full collection of creative apps, Adobe Creative Cloud for teams supports greater scalability and enables us to change creative direction or take work wherever it needs to go—something we couldn’t do as easily before and respond to client needs almost instantly, right in the field.”
Centralizing license management simplifies administration, making it easy for Obscura to redistribute licenses as they are needed for various projects. “With Adobe Creative Cloud for teams, we can manage licenses very easily through the Admin Console,” says Vlad Spears, a technologist at Obscura Digital. “We always know who has what software, so we can adjust assignments as needed across project teams and contractors.”
Creative Cloud for teams also puts users in charge of software updates and installations, further reducing the workload for IT. Since teams often work in the field to help bring exhibit installations to life, this easy-to-manage self-service model enables users to add secondary installations of the Creative Cloud apps to home computers or laptops.
“If someone is working on the road and suddenly realizes that they need another application, they can use their existing Creative Cloud membership to install the applications themselves without IT scrambling to provide them additional installers or serial numbers,” says Spears. “The flexibility we have in managing licenses now with Adobe Creative Cloud for teams is light years better than what we were doing before.” Obscura plans to expand use of Creative Cloud for teams with more licenses purchased through Adobe.com.
“Our purchase of Adobe Creative Cloud for teams via Adobe.com was extremely smooth,” says Spears. “And, by working with our annual membership on a monthly basis, our finance group has a much easier time forecasting costs and building budgets. We are thrilled to be on this new path with Adobe.”
Read the Obscura Digital case study.
Prestige Group, India’s leading real estate developer, delivers superior quality design content using Adobe Creative Cloud for teams.
One of the leading real estate developers in the southern states of India The Prestige Group (Prestige) works across the residential, commercial, retail, leisure, and hospitality sectors. Since its inception in 1986, Prestige has completed 177 projects which include apartment enclaves, shopping malls, and corporate structures.
A long-time Adobe customer, Prestige has used Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for various stages of project execution; during the initial stages of idea creation and project conceptualization, the design team creates concept presentations: “It’s a collage of various photos and ideas to depict the overall project,” says Aditya Muley, business development and design manager at Morph Design Co., part of the Prestige Group. “In this stage, we use Photoshop extensively to edit multiple photos from the inventory and also from the Internet; Illustrator is useful when there is a requirement to create wallpaper and other designs of interior items,” says Muley.
Once the concept is approved, the property floor plan and the layout is developed using AutoCAD or 3ds Max software. At this stage of concept development, the Prestige design team would once again use Photoshop extensively. “We use Photoshop to import or edit photos, provide multiple textures to the layout, add special effects, and finally to design different views, such as a top view or side view,” says Muley.
Version consistency and license management
Although the firm has been using Adobe creative tools rigorously, there were multiple challenges in terms of using the latest versions of these tools and managing the licenses. “Our traditional approach was to install new versions one, two, or three seats at a time. As a result, we might have designers using one version and the architect team using another, which could cause IT administration issues associated with maintaining multiple software versions,” says Venkat Rao, general manager, IT, Prestige. “We wanted our employees to uniformly use the latest and leading-edge solutions.” The use of the latest versions of the creative tools was vital for Prestige also from a compliance point of view.
Prestige decided to adopt Adobe Create Cloud for teams. “For a rapidly growing firm like ours, the biggest challenge is giving everyone access to the latest software and then tracking application allocations,” says Rao. “That’s why we were excited when we heard about the automated administration in Adobe Creative Cloud for teams.” Prestige also realized that the latest versions of Adobe’s creative tools offer incredible integration, more features, and a greatly advanced—yet familiar—user interface with which its designers can work with higher efficiency. “The incompatibility issue was automatically resolved,” says Rao.
A streamlined migration process
The migration to Creative Cloud for teams went smoothly; post-implementation, Adobe held multiple training sessions on using the tools in Creative Cloud.
Now with simplified access to all of the components in Adobe Creative Cloud for teams and no lag time between versions or upgrades, the designers are always updated. Adobe Creative Cloud for teams gives Prestige upgrades of the software upon release of new versions, plus exclusive features between releases, enabling them to stay up to date on the creative tools integral to their daily workflow.
Multiple new features of Adobe Creative Cloud tools are of great value to Prestige. Adobe Photoshop CC features include effects such as sun glare or artificial light, the ability to edit background and insert images, and ease of obtaining multiple views, which are extensively used by Prestige. “With Photoshop CC, one can directly edit and import textures into AutoCAD or 3ds Max,” says Muley. With Adobe Illustrator CC, Prestige can create new images from scratch, which can then be enlarged and sent out for printing. “We are thrilled with the newly added features of Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC,” says Muley. “In fact, with access to the latest versions of the software, we are empowered to experiment and invent new ideas in project design and execution.”
Maintaining design integrity with Adobe Acrobat CC
During various stages of the project; from conceptualization and design to execution, multiple project designs are required to be shared with internal and external groups of users for review and acceptance. Ensuring the security and integrity of these designs is vital. Also, sharing AutoCAD or 3ds Max design files with a wide group of users created issues. “We wanted the final output to be secured and optimized in its size in order to share it with the internal or external users,” says Muley. Prestige effectively addressed these challenges by standardizing on Adobe Acrobat Pro.
Prestige collaborates on projects across teams and with clients more easily. “We have never faced compatibility issues and the overall workflow has greatly improved with Acrobat,” says Muley.
Simplified management, big savings
The streamlined deployment and administration in Creative Cloud for teams has greatly helped the IT team at Prestige to eliminate many time-consuming manual processes, such as installing packaged software or maintaining version consistency. “We no longer need to perform updates one-by-one on machines as we now have the flexibility to install software onto computers on demand and activate new subscriptions as needed,” says Rao. Creative Cloud for teams has helped Prestige raise the productivity of the IT team by simplifying software administration with license management, automatic tracking, and version upgrades.
Creative Cloud for teams eliminates the need to manage software upgrades. Every employee has automatic access to the latest versions of Adobe products, which not only supports compatibility between workers but enables the company to take advantage of new features without worrying about the cost of upgrades.
For Prestige, Creative Cloud for teams has significantly reduced the total cost of ownership for Adobe solutions by creating a standardized model for purchasing and deploying the most current versions of Creative Cloud tools. “We like paying annually for Adobe Creative Cloud for teams. It’s a much more effective approach to budgeting as it eliminates lump-sum software purchases,” says Rao.
Scalable for future expansion
With better control and higher visibility on license utilization Creative Cloud for teams is a scalable solution. “As our design and architect teams expand, Creative Cloud for teams readily supports us as licenses can be added on-the-fly without major cost implications,” says Rao.
It supports the company’s rapid growth and its ability to efficiently manage the workflow of large and complex real estate projects. “Adobe Creative Cloud for teams helps us become more productive by simplifying software administration with license management and automatic tracking,” says Rao. “The predictable, easily managed model in Creative Cloud for teams allows us to budget for software purchases accordingly and grow as our team grows.”
Read the Prestige Group case study.
Branding, design, and interactive firm Oestreicher+Wagner develops and delivers high-impact content using Adobe Creative Cloud for teams.
Oestreicher+Wagner (OE+W) has been an icon in the design, prepress, and production industries in Germany for more than 80 years. With approximately 100 employees, OE+W is a renowned media powerhouse serving long-time customers worldwide in industries ranging from automotive to food and fashion.
Several years ago the firm expanded beyond its expertise in prepress and published print pieces to offer clients more interactive services. The goal was to enable OE+W clients to engage their customers through multimedia experiences delivered via traditional websites, mobile sites, and other channels.
Today, the company’s services span the breadth of media production, with three photo studios, professional retouching and composition, desktop publishing and layout, and digital printing. In addition, the firm’s interactive division handles all things interactive; collaborating closely with clients to design and develop websites and mobile apps. Custom content management solutions and e-commerce applications round out OE+W’s interactive portfolio offerings.
Commitment to compelling, high-quality, content
OE+W has always been on the cutting-edge of design and technology, embracing the tools that enable them to provide clients with impactful content, and targeted audiences with memorable experiences. Integral to OE+W’s work over the years has been the use of Adobe creative software. “We began using Adobe Photoshop and other Adobe creative tools years ago,” says Roland Fellner, head of IT and systems at OE+W. “Even now much of our work relies on photo retouching and publishing, so Adobe software has always been vital to our success.”
As a long-time Adobe customer, OE+W’s IT and creative teams were instantly intrigued when they heard about Adobe Creative Cloud, especially after learning more about how membership would give staff faster access to full versions of popular Adobe applications.
Easy management, accelerated access
The firm originally joined Adobe Creative Cloud, and explored the tools, through individual memberships. But, with the help and advice from reseller Syspro, they quickly took advantage of Adobe Creative Cloud for teams. The centralized Admin Console in Creative Cloud for teams reduces IT overhead for OE+W and accelerates the deployment of software by providing a single view into license management. Equally important, Creative Cloud for teams helps the company’s finance managers more easily predict spending. “For our team, upgrading to an Creative Cloud for teams allowed us to scale as needed. We can add or change user licenses easily, versus having individual memberships, which helped support our business,” says Fellner.
Creative Cloud for teams enables OE+W to quickly address changing client and team requirements with the flexibility to easily reassign licenses without having to deactivate a license at an individual workstation. “Our move to Adobe Creative Cloud for teams is helping us realize time savings of up to 40% on software deployment and license management,” explains Fellner. “With built-in tools like Creative Cloud Packager, we can instantly distribute software based on users’ needs, whether prepress, photo retouching, or other design uses.”
An expanded toolset at the click of a button
OE+W has expanded the number of seats of Creative Cloud for teams, and now has the flexibility to equip and scale its computer-generated imagery (CGI) unit with the video and effects software needed to manage CGI, post-production, video, and other activities.
For many at OE+W, rapid success with Adobe Creative Cloud for teams wasn’t surprising given previous positive experiences with Adobe. “Adobe software is woven into the fabric of our company,” Fellner says. “Adobe Creative Cloud for teams gives us the assurance that all our departments can collaborate easily using the latest versions of Adobe software and take advantage of the newest features to experiment creatively.”
Multiple departments within the company use Adobe creative software to accomplish their daily tasks. For example, OE+W needs the latest version of Adobe Photoshop CC to support 64-bit performance enhancements that enable teams to better manage large files, from 500MB to 6GB. For the firm’s retouching professionals who work with many layers to create new photos the results are noteworthy; OE+W clients appreciate the photos that present their products in the best light.
Other groups at OE+W rely regularly on Adobe InDesign CC to design brochures and catalogs for clients. The high-resolution materials can be converted quickly to PDF for streamlined delivery. At the same time, Adobe Illustrator CC is used by creative teams to create icons and symbols that precisely convey the nuances of each client’s brand.
OE+W has adopted Adobe Edge Reflow CC to mock-up initial screens of websites for client review and have started experimenting with Adobe Edge Animate CC. The company has also begun creating short films for websites and is exploring the possibility of integrating video into interactive brochures for clients. “With Adobe Creative Cloud for teams, we’re finding new uses for Adobe software,” says Fellner. “Access to more software is encouraging us to explore options for expanding services, with teams looking closely at tools such as Adobe After Effects CC and Adobe Premiere Pro CC for video production.”
Additionally, the company has started using Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, Enterprise Edition to transform traditional layouts into interactive media, that include video and other elements, for greater reach and impact.
“Adobe Creative Cloud for teams gives us the ability to grow creatively across departments and expand our business,” says Thomas Eusterholz, managing director at OE+W. “We benefit from having access to the latest features in software we’ve used for years, as well as having the flexibility to explore applications to take our business in new directions.”
Read the Oestreicher+Wagner case study.
Mobile application marketing firm Hiiir Inc. adopts Adobe Creative Cloud for teams.
Founded in 2008, Hiiir Inc. is the first marketing company in Taiwan to provide integrated social media, Internet, and mobile marketing. Its marketing tool, Timely, is enjoyed by more than 3.8 million members and generates 15 million page views daily. Over the past few years, Hiiir has become Taiwan’s largest professional mobile application marketing company, serving clients like Coca-Cola, Sushi Express, and convenience store chain Family Mart.
Based on evolving market trends and user behaviors, Hiiir began to strategize and look for the next potential product with significant profit. With that, General Manager John Yeh invested marketing and technical resources to help enterprise clients emphasize emerging mobile tools and cloud development. The company also released a mobile business app, as well as a cuisine and travel app featuring a location-based service. These products have attracted attention from international enterprises and garnered an additional US$3.33 million investment from FetNet, one of the top three telecom companies in Taiwan.
Integrated applications help bring design to the extreme
Recently, Hiiir adopted Adobe Creative Cloud for teams to give employees anytime, anywhere access to the latest design tools, while also allowing them more time for the creativity and brainstorming that result in products that exceed customer expectations. Adobe Creative Cloud for teams saves Hiiir on software purchasing costs and simplifies the deployment process significantly and innovations in Adobe Creative Cloud software have inspired Hiiir to offer better cloud services for their customers in the future. According to a 2013 survey announced by Taiwan Network Information Center, 77.09% of the Taiwan population use the Internet, which translates to opportunities for many web design companies.
Hiiir had been a loyal user of Adobe Creative Suite software for years. “At Hiiir, Adobe Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Edge Animate, and Illustrator are widely used for web and mobile app design. Multiple applications are required when designing artwork, which influences the end results, and Adobe Creative Cloud for teams significantly improves integration among the applications and maximizes their effectiveness,” said Neil Lee, chief technology officer, Hiiir.
Creative Cloud for teams integrates various desktop applications, including Adobe Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC, and Dreamweaver CC. Users can synchronize files, share design concepts with customers and colleagues, and securely access files anywhere from cloud storage via mobile devices. Additionally, Creative Cloud for teams enables web design teams to establish and publish websites, create mobile applications, design iPad publications, and produce responsive content.
Streamlining IT management and increasing efficiency
Hiiir’s design, product, and marketing departments, as well as its front-end engineers, all use Adobe creative software and tools. In the past, information technicians had to spend more than 1 hour per user to complete desktop application installations for up to 70 employees; even with 3 or 4 dedicated technicians, the efforts sometimes required overtime to finish setting-upapplications. This increased operational costs and impacted team efficiency.
“With business growth, Hiiir headcount has grown significantly, adding to 250 employees and creating heavy burdens for information technicians. Adobe Creative Cloud for teams saves human resources and time,” said Lee. “With the centralized procurement and management platform, information technicians can focus on Creative Cloud for teams application deployment and finish each installation in less than ten minutes. The installation for 8 to 10 staff can be done in under 40 minutes. With the increased efficiency, we need just one information technician to meet the demands of the whole company.”
Adobe Creative Cloud for teams integrates desktop applications and the latest updates providing all the required business features and services for collaboration. The Adobe Creative Cloud Packager centralizes and streamlines the software management and deployment process and helps information technicians select specific applications for groups or individuals—all easily done through an intuitive interface.
The most noteworthy advantage of adopting Adobe Creative Cloud for teams is the boost to work efficiency. “After creating accounts online, staff can install the latest version of applications themselves after login,” says Lee. “This significantly reduces installation time and effectively increases work efficiency; we keep improving the quality of our apps for customers by showcasing our unlimited creativity and best interface designs to the users.”
Maximizing innovation and creativity
Hiiir has transformed from an Internet to a mobile application company. With its design requirements, Hiiir relies heavily on Adobe creative software. “Adobe applications are mainly used for web design, mobile app interface design, and interactive Flash websites,” Lee said, “and as the company scales up, we expect our reliance on Adobe software to increase.”
“Hiiir is an innovative company, and we definitely want to choose the latest and best tools,” said Yeh. “With Adobe Creative Cloud for teams, we don’t need to worry about application updates. By using it, we’ve simplified the working process and made procurement planning and budget management easier as we grow. When all departments fully use the latest creative and design solutions from Adobe, it generates more profits for Hiiir.”
Adobe Creative Cloud for teams enables creativity and collaboration. Each staff member at Hiir is assigned 100GB of cloud storage. Team members can be more efficient in editing, collecting feedback, and collaborating in the cloud. Design teams at Hiiir can develop and create for various devices without limitations. Adobe Creative Cloud for teams not only reduces operational costs, but also greatly increases work efficiency for high-quality product design.
Read the Hiiir Inc. case study.
Filmmaker embarks on a journey documenting creativity around the world—through motion graphics and art.
When we last spoke with Graham Elliott he was just starting work on his next film, World In Motion, which he describes as, “a documentary film series that explores the dynamic connection between location and expression.” Since that time, Elliott has taken two trips to Brazil, the first stop on his global journey. In addition to interviewing creative professionals, he spent a significant amount of time capturing B-roll that will add texture and reference to the film. Now, he’s back in the United States and will spend the next few months working in Adobe Premiere Pro CC editing his content before his next trip, to Japan, in November.
Adobe: Tell us about your time in Brazil.
Elliott: I first went to Brazil in October for three weeks, then went back again this past January. With preparations going on for the World Cup and then the Olympics, there was an incredible buzz of activity. Brazil is all about rhythm and color. It takes a lot of influences from Africa, Europe and North America and makes them its own.
Adobe: How is this project different than your last film, New York in Motion?
Elliott: When we made New York in Motion we had three months to shoot, student help, multiple cameras, and the luxury of an open timetable. With World In Motion we needed to do a lot more advance planning. I traveled to Brazil four or five days before my partner, Roswitha Rodrigues, came to conduct the interviews. I spent time shooting B-roll to give the interviews context. Because of security concerns in Brazil, I had to rethink my camera package to be more mobile and inconspicuous. I did most of my shooting with a Canon 5D Mark II and GoPros.
Adobe: What type of footage did you capture?
Elliott: Before I set out to shoot, I worked out a way of organizing the shots I wanted to capture. There is so much you can do and see and when you’re on location it can be a little overwhelming. So, I created an index card system with a storyboard of the shot I wanted and all of the necessary logistics: time of day, equipment, security, etc. One example of content I captured was the view from the cable cars that go over the favelas. Shooting from this perspective let us show the expanse of humanity in these poorer areas.
Adobe: How much time did you spend interviewing?
Elliott: When Rosie came in we did seven days of interviews in São Paulo and seven days in Rio. We wanted to go in without any scripted questions, or preconceived notions of the creative essence of Brazil, so we could have more of a conversation. We asked interviewees to describe their work, and from there each person took a different path.
We started with LOBO, a company that has been a major inspiration, working with American and European clients, doing incredible motion graphics. The team there is incredible, and the founder, Mateus de Paula Santos, recommended other people for us to interview. We also connected with SuperUber, the company that recently did a huge texture-mapping project at the assembly hall in the United Nations building, projecting visuals onto the different surfaces. The team there gave us more recommendations of who we should see in Rio.
Adobe: What is different about the way work is created in Brazil?
Elliott: The school system in Brazil lacks proper funding and doesn’t have rooms full of computers, so students do a lot of tactile work. They have to make do with less, but that makes them push the boundaries of creativity in different ways. We saw a lot of handmade art that was then scanned into computers, giving the end creations a more tactile feel.
The work that artists create is also different depending on the city. Both Rio and São Paulo are interesting hubs of creativity. Rio is very green, has beautiful beaches, people are outgoing, and the artwork seems to reflect that with a lot of natural, organic elements. Conversely, Sao Paulo is a concrete jungle and people seem more introverted, which ultimately affects the way designers work and what they create. It will be interesting to look back after we’ve visited different locations and compare the references—how people create, what tools they use, where they start, and how much is influenced by culture, religion, tradition, and history.
Adobe: What type of tools are creative companies you interviewed using?
Elliott: Many of the established motion graphics agencies are using Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, and Illustrator. Rather than starting everything on the computer they do a lot of organic work, including models, paintings, and collages. After Effects is very popular for working with content after it is captured; it is the quintessential motion graphics tool. Designers we interviewed in Brazil are excited about Adobe Creative Cloud and keeping everything within the same workflow.
Adobe: What do you like about working with Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
Elliott: I really like the workflow in Premiere Pro. I shot a lot of timelapse content with the 5D Mark II, and it’s so easy to bring the stills into After Effects CC, apply some moves, and then open them in Premiere Pro. Rendering is so much easier in Premiere Pro than it was in Final Cut Pro and there is also a lot more flexibility with color correction.
Adobe: Where else do you want to go on your World In Motion journey?
Elliott: In November I’ll be traveling to Japan and we also hope to go to South Africa, India and Europe, especially London, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Vienna. The film is about creativity and the field of motion graphics serves as the backbone. But we’re not just interviewing motion graphics artists, we’re also interviewing people in other art fields. Motion graphics is so much about rhythm, music, dance, photography, and design so we’re going out and talking to dancers, designers and musicians, which is really invigorating. It will be a long journey but I’m already excited about the story we’re going to be able to tell.
Part tutorial. Part infographic. And part animated GIF. Animagraffs. It’s the name Jacob O’Neal assigned to the animated infographics he began working on in 2012. When he told us that he used Creative Cloud, we wanted to know more so we caught up with him to ask about his concept, his tools, and his process.
Jacob talked to us about his toughest critics, making (some) decisions based on art rather than function, how creativity is fueled by excitement and wonder, and, of course, the beauty of Creative Cloud.
You’re a designer, so designing information probably comes naturally to you, but where did this idea originate? Was it an offshoot of another project? I’ve always been fascinated by animation. I used to draw entire flip-book scenes in the margins of old paperbacks or on sticky note pads. I’ve also always loved optical illusions and visual tricks that appear simple yet manage to boggle the mind.
A couple of years ago I began to see entire movie clips, in animated GIF format, being shared all over the web. While I had seen very simple usage of animated infographics in the wild, I hadn’t seen anything on the scale of Animagraffs.
It seemed like a fitting challenge: Could I make a meaningful infographic within a limited image format as the endlessly looping animated GIF? I had a lull in projects for month or so when I decided to make the first Animagraff. As a freelancer I try to keep a nice savings cushion since things can fluctuate, but even so, when there’s a lull I get antsy. There was a strong temptation to seek out the same old easily-procured but passionless work that “pays the bills.” But creativity is fueled by excitement and wonder and mechanically “paying the bills” is neither of those. I remember distinctly the moment I chose to act based on courage and create a passion project, not knowing what the result would be, or if I’d ever see money from it.
Quite frankly, I have no idea why I was an “early adopter” of the animated GIF infographic; the technology’s been there all along, and there are many, many brilliant designers out there who could pull it off. Stroke of good luck maybe?
What was your first topic? How has your process evolved since that first piece? The first animated graphic I did was Cheetah: Nature’s Speed Machine I just wanted to test out the limits of what could be done, and I was still a little intimidated by learning 3D software, so I made a flat graphic (non 3D). I sketched the main cheetah illustration in Illustrator and the animated graphs and lines in Flash. My process is still very similar, but now I have a better idea of what kind of illustrations fit the GIF format best. Some things just look gimmicky in an endlessly looping image and other elements really shine.
Who was your first Animagraff client? The first glimmer of a “result” I saw was an offer to work on a Super Bowl commercial project for Skechers. Their agency saw my Cheetah graphic and called me directly, offering a tidy sum to work on a project I would never have dreamed about before. Getting the motivation to make Animagraffs became a lot easier after that!
GIFs are for fun. Infographics are (mostly) for dispelling information. Beyond being cool viewing, Animagraffs have to strike that fine balance between entertainment and information. How much time do you spend getting that balance right? With my Animagraffs, the education IS the entertainment. That’s the whole point. I “came up” in the marketing world where the cart is perpetually before the horse—where everyone fearfully worries about “the results” and focuses all energy on hype instead of caring for the heart and soul of the project itself (hypnotizing entertainment without substance).
I decided to do everything the opposite of what I experienced working for marketing agencies. The product should “sell” itself through its quality. All I have to do is focus inward, and the outward results follow. Not the other way around. Animagraffs entertain to the exact degree of sincerity, hard work, and the quality of research I put into them. There’s no room for any kind of trickery, hype or fine print.
Infographics are compressed information distilled into easy-to-read bits. How many “pages” of content does each Animagraff contain? I go until the subject has been covered. I try to avoid disputable elements that might be distracting while still going deep enough to educate. The time involved varies but in general Animagraffs take anywhere from 20- to 80-hours of solid research, writing and design.
At what point do design decisions (type, color, layout) factor in? Animagraffs, especially my 3D projects, have a propensity to be manual-like. It’s actually difficult at times to make things original and fresh while maintaining a comfortably readable graphic. I’m an artist at heart, not an engineer, so I try to stay abreast of current design trends, and I make some decisions based more on art than function (though that line is hair thin). Decisions support the subject matter as far as possible. For the How A Car Engine Works graphic, for example, I used a typeface for the main titles that has strong automotive ties.
With animated infographics, you’re basically designing in layers. How does that make you job easier or harder? One-second decisions at the beginning of a project become two-day fixes at the end. The more intricate the assembly, the more critical it is to get things as right as possible from the start. By the time an Animagraff is compressed into its final GIF form, it’s traveled through two or three different software applications. At that point, fixing a misplaced apostrophe could take ten minutes as opposed to a mere keystroke while the script was in a text editor. I suppose it makes the job harder to have to design things in layers, but then, the difficulty of producing Animgraffs means I’ll have a little less competition in the field—I can’t complain about that.
Do you have a “test audience”? A person or people who try to learn something from your content? I’m passionate about my interests and hobbies and I assume others are as well. It’s unfortunate when an entity misrepresents something you know and care about. Since the public at large is unaware of inaccuracies on most subjects, it’s tempting to disregard small groups of highly devoted fans. But there’s incredible power in gaining the loyalty of those who won’t be fooled, who don’t click on every trifling bit of online clickbait, who seek out the highest quality information. When they share your work it’s often to their esteemed colleagues, and then you find yourself getting the kind of front-row attention money can’t buy. My Car Engine graphic was featured as a blog post on the New York Times Autoblog and Jalopnik.
So, my test audience is the toughest of critics—when researching a graphic I tend to post it to forums or other specific places where the most educated disciples of any given subject are prone to congregate.
How a Handgun Works: 1911 .45 is a good example: I’ve been continually flattered by the many messages of thanks from gun enthusiasts, law enforcement personnel, gun instructors, and other professionals. These people are far more conversant with guns than I, and they’re actually using this graphic as an educational asset. However, I’ve also received harsh feedback about its inaccuracies. I have to take it all in stride because, even though I consider it my duty to try, there would be no end in attempting to satisfy the core disciples.
You mentioned that you use Creative Cloud apps almost start to finish. Briefly walk us through your process. I begin in a simple text editor, pasting research from all over the Internet with links to sources. With that file open, I create a new document by its side to write the script. The script condenses all the fragmented information into a compelling story in which every sentence is as efficient as possible with no wasted words.
If the project uses a 3D model, I begin modeling at this point, with research imagery and text all prepared. I use Blender 3D (which I’ve really enjoyed learning) to craft my own models; I’ve been temped at times to download ready-made assets, but that would hobble progress the day I want to do a subject for which I can’t find suitable models. Also, for education it’s best to have simple models without all the indents, holes and pipes, of actual mechanical objects. So I craft everything from scratch myself.
With the script written and 3D model created (if needed), I begin laying out blocks of text in Illustrator CC. This is generally when I start to see what visuals I need and what will fit where. It’s a giant puzzle board. You might think I start with grandiose sketches of intricate objects but it’s really with blocks of content scattered around the page that I start to see where the big visuals will go.
I use Flash (since that’s the animation timeline software I know best) to assemble the animated assets over the top of the Illustrator CC-made layout (After Effects CC and Photoshop CC both have timeline elements that I imagine could be used for this, but I haven’t experimented with either). If it’s vector illustration I might draw the frames directly in Flash Professional CC (the Cheetah frames were drawn in Illustrator CC since there are better brush and line quality options).
I export the finished project from Flash CC into Photoshop CC (which has the best compression ability when it comes to the animated GIF format). In Photoshop CC I try to get the file as small as possible, often limiting colors to do so. The cheetah graphic has dimensions of 1400 x 1890 with 18 total frames and rings in at a nimble 500KB. That’s much smaller than many static graphics of the same pixel dimensions; I purposely kept the project to a two-color scheme; as I progress with these projects, I’m getting more adventurous with more colors and weightier file sizes.
You mentioned After Effects. Do you see yourself trying it out down the road? I haven’t actually tried After Effects with these animated infographics so I have no idea what to expect. Also, it looks like Flash is starting to incorporate some HTML5 stuff so I’ll probably stay in Flash since it’s more web-centric and that’s my playing field.
Since you use a range of CC products to make Animagraffs, we have to ask, how are you liking Creative Cloud? I’m loving it—synced settings, seamless upgrades—it’s the kind of functionality I’ve always wanted!
What’s your next topic? I JUST finished Inside a Jet Engine. I hope it’s as well-received as my other projects have been.
This UK serial drama and reality TV creator excels at meeting intense production demands with Adobe Story CC Plus and Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise.
Great stories, brilliantly told
Lime Pictures knows all too well the demanding scheduling and production requirements of daily television. The largest operating group within All3Media, the top UK Ltd indie known for multi-award-winning, long-running TV productions, Lime Pictures produces headline-grabbing programs including Hollyoaks (C4), Rockets Island (CBBC), The Only Way Is Essex (ITV2), and Geordie Shore (MTV).
Each series requires a tightly-orchestrated effort involving syncing shooting schedules with scripts, as well as lock-step coordination among camera crews, sets, and talent. Shows also hinge on great creative, graphics, and video that extend across both TV and online media.
With the popularity and number of programs increasing, the production company’s needs had continued to intensify, and its aging in-house system was struggling to keep up. Lime Pictures needed a more capable, progressive solution and chose Adobe Story CC Plus and Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise.
“We were using legacy applications for scripting and scheduling that were no longer meeting our needs,” says Gary Winn, IT manager for Lime Pictures. “We wanted to modernize our infrastructure and processes and Adobe Story CC Plus and Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise gave us that opportunity.
Advanced scripting and scheduling
Lime Pictures was aware that ITV had adopted Adobe Story CC Plus with great success and the broadcaster’s positive experience factored into Lime Pictures’ decision to adopt: “The solution did 80% of what we needed it to do ‘out of the box’ and we were able to customize the rest to meet our specific needs,” says Winn. “Adobe Story CC Plus was the only product we found that supported continuing series—that functionality was a real jewel for us.”
Adobe Story CC Plus has strong scripting and scheduling capabilities, complemented by product updates delivered through Creative Cloud. The ability to access information at any time and on any device allows teams to easily collaborate, even when they aren’t sitting side by side; it also offers comprehensive reporting, delivering insights that allow Lime Pictures to continually streamline its processes.
“Adobe Story CC Plus is more flexible and open than other scripting and scheduling options on the market,” says Winn. “Because it’s a cloud-based environment, our writers and schedulers can use the software on mobile devices with complete visibility and synchronicity. We have virtually eliminated the need to print scripts by using electronic versions and everyone can tap into the latest amendments to scripts or schedules at any time, from anywhere.”
Improved software access
Another priority for Lime Pictures was to equip employees with world-class creative apps from Adobe in the easiest way possible. Lime Pictures traditionally had a mixture of different Adobe software products and suites with individual boxes and serial numbers. Maintaining the right number of licenses and keeping versions current was often challenging. When Winn learned about Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise, he saw how it would streamline IT and budgeting efforts, simplify deployment, and centralize software management. In addition, the enterprise license enabled Lime Pictures to access additional Adobe Story CC Plus reporting functionality.
“We’re already seeing the benefits of engaging more closely with Adobe through an enterprise arrangement,” says Winn. “The Adobe team is brilliant and has been instrumental in helping us advance the business.” By purchasing Creative Cloud through an enterprise term license agreement, Lime Pictures now has a single source for licensing and support, as well as access to multiple tools. The company’s Creative Cloud for enterprise licenses are used by graphics and digital departments, as well as its post-production facility in Liverpool, England.
Some team members only need Adobe Photoshop CC, while others might need Adobe After Effects CC or Adobe Acrobat XI Pro. Some need almost all of the Adobe creative products. To tailor each user’s environment, Winn is using the Creative Cloud Packager (which provides custom access to software among various team members) to create standard software packages for different groups.
“Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise allows us to control our environment,” Winn says. “The ability to package and deliver specific products to different users saves us time and makes the software easier to track.” Adoption of Creative Cloud for enterprise has also driven the use of new tools across various workflows: For example, the production team is experimenting with new products such as Adobe Prelude CC for ingest, with plans to introduce it into the live environment. The company also has the freedom to begin
using products such as Adobe Premiere Pro CC to support its video production needs.
Streamlined licensing, management, and updates
The company has complete visibility into which licenses employees have and use and budgets are easier to manage. With Creative Cloud for enterprise, Lime Pictures can provide employees with everything they need and track licenses with ease.
“We’re able to keep our stakeholders on the latest software and eliminate version inconsistencies by providing Adobe Creative Cloud updates from a central location and at a regular cadence,” says Winn. “On the business side, Adobe Creative Cloud has given everyone—from IT to finance—a more streamlined approach to software purchasing.”
“Our main driver in moving to Adobe Story CC Plus and Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise was to move the business forward, which we’ve definitely accomplished,” says Winn. “The flexibility, visibility, cost savings, and other benefits that come with an enterprise agreement are tremendous bonuses.”
Read the Lime Pictures case study.
A top gaming company jump-starts development and marketing with Adobe Creative Cloud for teams.
More fun for all
With more than 110 million registered players, InnoGames is one of the worldwide leading developers and publishers of complex, strategy-oriented online and mobile games. Currently, more than 300 people work at its headquarters in Hamburg, Germany.
All of the company’s online games offer exceptional, exciting graphics, and a strategy-based orientation designed to keep players intrigued and outwitting their opponents. The goal—regardless of whether gamers have standard or premium accounts—is to optimize gaming excitement and gratification.
From Forge of Empires to Grepolis and the new Rising Generals, InnoGames provides some of the industry’s more popular browser-based games, and is now delivering mobile games as well. “A lot of what we do hinges on having great graphics and exciting, immersive gaming environments. Adobe Creative Cloud for teams is key to helping us achieve this,” says Dennis Heinert, head of public relations for InnoGames.
The strategic orientation and engaging, rich-media gaming experiences are paying off for InnoGames through rapid company growth. This, in turn, is spurring ongoing staff expansion to include more graphics and video artists, as well as marketing, software development, and IT staff. More than 100 team members at InnoGames rely on components of Adobe creative software for game design, development, and marketing, and that number grows every month.
InnoGames initially chose Adobe Creative Cloud for individuals to have access to the latest creative software and services. Working with reseller Systemhaus for you GmbH, and taking advantage of a promotional offer, the company recently upgraded to Adobe Creative Cloud for teams for ease of maintenance, ability to scale with company growth, and simpler bookkeeping. Additionally, Creative Cloud for teams enables InnoGames to quickly address changing client and team requirements and the flexibility to easily reassign licenses without having to deactivate a license at an individual workstation.
“After exploring individual Adobe Creative Cloud licenses we upgraded to Creative Cloud for teams, which makes it easier for us to equip our teams with software licenses as we grow and morph to meet customer and market demands,” says Tobias Protz, IT administrator, InnoGames. “We can assign and reassign licenses with ease.”
Making the most of visual assets
Using Adobe Photoshop CC, graphics staff members design 2D visual assets for games that are subsequently repurposed by marketers creating banner ads or wallpapers. Video professionals rely on Adobe Premiere Pro CC and After Effects CC to create sequences and animations for use within games. They also use Adobe Flash Professional CC as an authoring environment for creating animations and multimedia content for games.
Marketers then capture in-game scenes from different mobile devices or browsers and repurpose them to create marketing materials that encourage gamers to try new games. They use Adobe After Effects CC to produce animations and sometimes include small interviews with game designers, developers, and artists. The resulting monthly podcasts, created from start to finish using Adobe software, are then published on YouTube to promote games and encourage community involvement among InnoGames players.
“Prior to Creative Cloud, we had issues with users being on different software versions, so they often had challenges transferring and sharing files with each other,” says Christopher Lindemann, IT department team lead. “Our ability to have graphic artists create game characters and scenes and then easily pass creative files along to our marketing team for generating promotional materials is essential in streamlining our workflow.”
Broadening the creative toolset while simplifying IT
By using Adobe Creative Cloud for teams, both artists and marketing professionals at InnoGames have a wider range of software from which to choose, expanding their creative repertoire, and enriching marketing materials. “Adobe Creative Cloud for teams gives our teams the opportunity to expand their skillset with new software,” says Lindemann. “It is immediately cost efficient if you are using two to three software packages regularly; it just makes sense, because we’re able to use the entire portfolio of Adobe creative software.”
In addition to equipping artists and marketers with a broader set of creative tools, Adobe Creative Cloud for teams has streamlined administrative processes. The centralized administrative console of Creative Cloud for teams simplifies software deployment while providing a single view into license tracking, reducing IT administration and finance overhead and membership helps the finance team more easily predict spending.
“We previously had to audit every machine physically to see what software was on it. With the introduction of Adobe Creative Cloud for teams, we are really saving time during the purchase and deployment process,” says Lindemann. “Keeping track of our software inventory has become far easier and the time required to rassign a license has been reduced by up to 80%.”
Set for success
For InnoGames, Adobe Creative Cloud for teams has become integral to supporting a growing company with an expanding assortment of addictive games available across platforms. The company strives for quality and sophistication, and focuses on generating only about three games at a time. InnoGames also works to build a strong community and stay in close contact with its players to create a foundation that promotes the continued improvement of its games.
The formula for InnoGames is working, and its games are clearly infectious, with more than 110 million registered players and an ever-expanding audience. With Adobe creative and development solutions, the company is poised for further success and even higher levels of flexibility, efficiency, and customer loyalty.
“We continually look for ways to expand our reach and enrich our game and marketing content so that players get excited to continue to play and are eager to try out our new releases,” says Protz. “With Adobe Creative Cloud for teams, we are set to capitalize on even bigger opportunities, with greater flexibility and efficiency and the ability to engage audiences on almost any platform.”
Read the InnoGames case study.
Leah Earle and Phanta Media deliver brilliant work with Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Premiere Pro CC.
Leah Earle loves her job. As a video editor for Phanta Media in Toronto, she looks forward to going to work. Founded by Mark Drager in 2006, Phanta Media is a rising star in the corporate video universe, known for delivering great work on real-world timelines. Earle describes the ten-person company as cozy but rapidly growing, with a staff comprising business development representatives, producers, motion graphics, and video editors. Earle often works late and sometimes on weekends—and can’t get enough of it.
Adobe: What makes Phanta Media unique compared to other corporate video production companies?
Earle: We’re extremely passionate, even if we’re working on what some might consider a mundane corporate training video. We work hard and collaborate as a team. No one here is interested in being second best. This can lead to frustration, because I may get criticism from eight other people on my one great idea for an edit. But in the end it gives the client the best possible product. We’re a small company, and every client has a personal and highly creative experience with us. We “bring it,” every time to create beautiful projects on tight deadlines.
Adobe: What’s it like working with Mark Drager?
Earle: Mark is the reason I took this job and also the reason I’m still here. He’s 31-years-old and started this company when he was only 23. He had the confidence to know that he could make better videos than the next guy, and his enthusiasm is infectious; it motivates us to push ourselves. He promises clients that we will blow them away with our skills—and we always do.
Adobe: How did you get into this line of work?
Earle: I always wanted to do something technical, but I went to school for English literature because I was uncertain about what path to take. A few people guided me toward journalism. That led me to a video journalism postgraduate program at Conestoga College. I really liked shooting, and I didn’t mind being on camera or reading a teleprompter, but what I loved right away was editing.
Adobe: When did you start using Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
Earle: I had never used Premiere Pro before I came to Phanta Media. Previously, Phanta Media was a Final Cut Pro shop, but like many in the industry, the company started looking for other options as soon as Final Cut Pro X came out. Premiere Pro is very “editor-friendly,” and that’s been a huge plus in growing my career.
Adobe: How would you compare Premiere Pro CC to other editing software?
Earle: For starters, you don’t have to log and capture footage. The scrubbing and playback in Premiere Pro is much faster than Final Cut, and not having to render something just to to watch it is a dream. I find the program makes it really easy to adjust my shortcuts and organize my workspace and projects. I like being able to save things such as title templates to use throughout projects, because I do a lot of subtitle work. Even the addition of the tiny window at the top left where you can preview your clip when you click once is helpful. I need to sort through mountains of footage fast. I like being able to export using Media Encoder CC as I work, because no one wants to have to stop and wait to export.
Adobe: What else do you use in your pipeline?
Earle: I use Photoshop CC and After Effects CC for most graphics. I can bring graphics files straight into the Premiere Pro CC timeline, without having to export them every time I change the file, which is so great. I can click on something and edit it on the spot, rather than having to look for the file and open it in another program. This saves so much time on projects, especially those with hundreds of After Effects files that you’d normally have to re-time.
I sometimes edit in Adobe Audition CC when I am facing a complex audio problem or when I’m tasked with voiceovers. When I first started I was in charge of setting up new DVD templates and Adobe Encore was so easy to learn and use to burn DVDs. Now, I use Adobe Media Encoder a lot to create files for various media: the Internet, PCs, or DVDs—whatever clients want.
Adobe: What was your experience moving to Adobe Creative Cloud?
Earle: My favorite thing about the switch to Adobe Creative Cloud, was the new finding and re-linking function in Premiere Pro. It’s crucial, because a few of us may be working on the same project and files often reside in different places and get moved around a lot.
All in all, the interfaces, shortcuts, and other commands among Adobe’s creative software apps are so uniform that I grow more familiar with the tools and the workflows every day. This makes me increasingly more efficient and gets rid of that frustrating gap between what the technology can do and what you think it should be able to do. With Creative Cloud, I can take greater advantage of each program’s full potential to realize any creative ideas we dream up.
Mark Drager and Kyle Wilson of Phanta Media recently presented the Ask a Video Pro session How to Build a Successful Corporate Video Business.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.