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.
Pioneering filmmaker Ryan Connolly shares his passion for Adobe’s pro video software.
After graduating from film school, Ryan Connolly started out in a fairly typical fashion: creating music videos and commercials for local clients. He then went on to run the video studio at PC game company Alienware. But rather than continue following the path of most aspiring filmmakers, Connolly came up with the idea to create Film Riot, an online show that would let him share how-to filmmaking tips, get feedback on his work, and ultimately build an audience and a community. His renegade style has earned him a loyal online following and his company Triune Films continues to produce weekly online video content as well as short films and other film projects.
Adobe: What makes you an industry rule breaker?
Connolly: My success with Film Riot lets me be my own boss and do less client work. Not that client work is bad, but at Triune Films we want to be a group of friends having fun, doing what we want to do. We’ve been fortunate enough to achieve that. We don’t have a typical day or week; it really depends on what we’re working on at the time. If things get too normal I get completely disinterested. That’s why Film Riot isn’t the same thing each time.
Adobe: Your name is associated with Triune Film and Film Riot. Can you tell us how they’re related?
Connolly: Triune Films is the parent company that produces Film Riot, along with our other programs and projects. Film Riot is an online training ground for how to make great effects, learn best practices for editing, and we also do video challenges and give out prizes to winners. For me, the big thing with Film Riot is that we’ve built an amazing community; it’s not mandatory, but it has become part of our DNA to be kind, helpful, and supportive of each other in our creative efforts—versus critical. We’ve also built a loyal following on social networks: Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.
Adobe: Are there other aspects to the business?
Connolly: Yes, we’ve built a brand that caters to indie filmmakers, who are a passionate bunch. We sell T-shirts, color preset packs for Adobe After Effects, sound effects packs—all kinds of things that our audience wants. We’ve also started a weekly YouTube show called Variant that focuses entirely on comics.
Adobe: Which software have you chosen to use over the years?
Connolly: After Effects has always been our go-to for visual effects. For editing, I started using Adobe Premiere Pro right off, and then switched to Final Cut Pro when I went to film school. When Apple introduced Final Cut Pro X that was the end of that.
I’m now back on Premiere Pro CC and its integration with all the Adobe software is amazing. It saves me hours every week because I’m not spending time rendering out sequences and trying to put them back in the timeline and fuss with them. The first time I saw Dynamic Link, I was amazed. If an edit to an effect is required, I just Dynamic Link the change from After Effects CC and have it flow to Premiere Pro CC automatically. The integration among all the Adobe software programs just seems to get better and better.
Adobe: Now that you have Adobe Creative Cloud, which applications do you use most?
Connolly: My main four are Premiere Pro CC, After Effects CC, Audition CC, and Photoshop CC. Every now and again I use SpeedGrade CC for color correction and I’ve also started using Story Plus CC for collaborative scriptwriting, which I first tried because it was available to me through Creative Cloud; it’s the best collaborative scriptwriting software on the market, in my opinion. My designers also use Illustrator CC for title designs and so forth. I have to say, once I got Creative Cloud, I downloaded all kinds of software and kept thinking, “Wow, I can have this, too?” The choices were exciting.
Adobe: How big is your team and what volumes of content do you produce?
Connolly: Today, we have four full-time and two part-time employees. Two of us are editors and we have one VFX expert. The others are focused more on logistics such as shipping, customer service, and social networking. I’m the only all-around filmmaker. I focus on writing, producing, and editing—tossing the heavier visual effects stuff to our VFX artist. In terms of volume, we produce a lot of content between our weekly shows and other projects. We’re doing about three online episodes per week in addition to short films and miniseries-type work. We recently created a short film called Proximity. There’s always a ton going on.
Adobe: How can your team keep up?
Connolly: A lot of it has to do with Creative Cloud. It’s so important to have everyone on the same software versions and be able to bounce everything back and forth on Macs or PCs. There are fewer kinks and version control issues in the workflow and that makes it easier for our small team to stay incredibly productive.
Adobe: How has your audience grown?
Connolly: We’re always looking at our Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube numbers. When the numbers get stagnant, we know we need to switch gears and amp things up. We experienced gradual growth for many years, but over the past year-and-a-half our growth has accelerated. During that time we doubled what initially took us three or four years to grow. We now have 441,000 YouTube subscribers and more than 66 million views of our Film Riot videos.
Adobe: What’s next for you?
Connolly: We plan to get into more new media and online shows as well as publishing comic books. We’ll continue to create short films, but we really want to move into creating full-length feature films. For now, one of the things I find most exciting is to have the opportunity to be somewhat of an online presence. It has been exciting to build a community that is friendly, collaborative, and constructive for creative indie filmmakers.
Today the Adobe Pro Video team kicks of our presence at the 2014 National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas. NAB is the biggest North American tradeshow of the year for us and we’ve been looking forward to it for months.
The product teams have been working tirelessly on all the new features that were revealed last week and we can’t wait to show them to you. If you’re attending NAB, be sure to stop by the Adobe booth and say hello (SL3910 in the Lower South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center), check out all the new updates in the demo pods, and ask questions. We have a packed schedule on our main stage too including presentations on what’s coming next to Creative Cloud for video as well as some of the fantastic things other filmmakers, post houses, and broadcasters are doing with the Creative Cloud tools. (Hint: If you want to see zombies from AMC’s The Walking Dead, come by to see Sam Nicholson from Stargate Studios.)
Speaking of customers, I was lucky enough to moderate a really engaging keynote panel “Breaking the Rules: The Next-Gen Content Creator” at Post|Production World last weekend where customers Ryan Connolly (Film Riot/Triune Films), Kanen Flowers (That Post Show/That Studio) and Peter Salvia (YouTube Nation) talked about the next generation of media creation and bypassing traditional broadcast outlets. For more on the keynote, check our highlight video.
In addition to Adobe’s booth at NAB—where attendees can see all the goodness coming soon to Adobe Creative Cloud for video—they can also find Adobe Creative Cloud (and specifically Adobe Premiere Pro) being demoed in over 130 partner booths across the NAB show floor. The partner ecosystem is integral to bringing the fastest, most powerful and streamlined workflows to Premiere Pro customers so its an incredibly big focus for the Adobe Pro Video team. And there’s so much more to come: The one-and-only Al Mooney will be presenting at the Las Vegas Supermeet later this week and we’ll be interviewing product team members and customers.
If you’re not in Vegas, we’ll bring Vegas to you—all week long: Stay tuned to the NAB 2014 Channel on Adobe TV for a front row seat to the latest from the show; and make sure to catch our special NAB Ask a Video Pro session on Thursday, April 10 at 10:00 am PT. Jason Levine will be demoing the latest innovations coming to the Creative Cloud video apps like Premiere Pro and After Effects during “What’s coming next in Creative Cloud for video” a one-hour overview and Q&A. Join us. Register free.
Creative Cloud delivers the complete filmmaker’s toolkit at NAB 2014
Editing and video content creation workflows are about to get easier and more exciting, with major updates coming soon to Creative Cloud, bringing more Adobe magic, expanded support for cutting edge technologies, and an even more connected creative experience. At NAB 2014 Adobe will preview the next wave of innovation in pro video, including Adobe Premiere Pro CC, Adobe After Effects CC, Adobe Prelude CC, Adobe Audition CC, Adobe SpeedGrade CC, Adobe Story CC Plus, Adobe Media Encoder CC and Adobe Anywhere for video. (See what we have planned for NAB 2014.)
A more powerful NLE
The Adobe pro video applications already set the standard for integration, and the next wave adds even more interoperability. Two major new features in Premiere Pro leverage After Effects technologies to enable editors to do even more within their NLE. With Live Text templates, users can modify text in After Effects compositions without leaving Premiere Pro. Powerful new Masking and Tracking in Premiere Pro make it easy to add feathered masks that follow a subject through a shot which makes it a breeze to add an effect to a moving object, or to blur out faces or logos for the duration of a shot. Both features include support for Dynamic Link so clips with Live Text templates or Masking and Tracking data can be opened in After Effects for additional fine-tuning or additional animation.
With the new Master Clip effect feature, changes that are applied to a Master Clip ripple down to every part of that clip in a sequence—so there’s no need to copy and paste effects to each clip individually. The Premiere Pro update also offers a faster editing workflow with improved handling of large projects and accelerated sorting and searching in the Project panel, as well as enhanced graphics performance with support for a wider range of GPUs, including GPU debayering for RED media.
“Premiere Pro offers industry-leading support for the latest file formats and hardware, so that today’s editors can handle almost anything you can throw at them, whether it’s 4K RAW material, or footage from one of the new cameras, like the ALEXA AMIRA,” said Al Mooney, senior product manager. “And with all the new integrations between Premiere Pro and other Creative Cloud tools and services, editors have never had more creative power at their fingertips.’ (Watch this preview of the Premiere Pro update.)
A more connected After Effects
Along with the new Live Text Template and Masking and Tracking integration with Premiere Pro, After Effects artists will love the new keying effects for getting better results from compressed or poorly-shot blue- or green-screen footage with the new Key Cleaner effect, especially in conjunction with the new Spill Suppressor effect for controlling color spills.
The After Effects update also includes Kuler integration, so users can capture colors on an iPhone or in a browser and save them as color swatch themes, to use in motion graphics compositions, or as references for VFX work. In addition, Adobe Typekit integration provides access to over 700 fonts in the Typekit library, and the improved Media Browser makes it easy to navigate, including complex media types, such as P2 and XDCAM material.
“From high profile projects, like the The Walking Dead, to repairing shots in independent features, we’re seeing fantastic visual effects work being done in After Effects,” said Steve Forde, principal product manager. “Features like the new keying tools bring a little more of that Adobe magic into the workflow and allow artists to move through shots that much more easily.” (See the After Effects update preview video.)
The complete filmmaker’s toolkit
The new updates also offer a more flexible Direct Link color pipeline between Premiere Pro and SpeedGrade, the powerful grading application included with Creative Cloud. The Direct Link integration now includes the ability to toggle the Lumetri effect on and off inside SpeedGrade and hide or show tracks or adjustment layers for an easier overview of complex timelines. The new Master Clip effect in Premiere Pro also works in SpeedGrade so grading adjustments applied to one part of a master clip automatically affect all the other parts of that clip on the timeline. With new broadcast standard scopes, including a new YUV Vectorscope, and more refined grading tools it’s never been easier to bring cinematic brilliance to video projects. (See what’s coming to SpeedGrade in this short video.)
Adobe Audition, the Creative Cloud audio editing application, introduces support for Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus, making it easier to create deliverables for broadcast, along with enhance multitrack and custom channelization, so users can create audio with as many channels as required. The new update to Adobe Prelude, the ingest and logging app, introduces a Tag Panel, an innovation that dramatically speeds up shot logging by allowing users to create color-coded tags that can be added to footage with a single click. Building rough cuts in Prelude gets a lot simpler, too, with drag-and-drop assembly, ripple trimming, and new keyboard shortcuts. (Watch the Audition overview video.)
Adobe Story CC Plus, the scriptwriting and project planning app, now offers support for Live Entertainment workflows, allowing broadcasters to customize scripts for programs with music-driven scripting and camera movements. Along with support for a huge range of formats, the new Adobe Media Encoder update can create DCPs for playback on Digital Cinema systems, and AS-11 content packages for creating broadcast deliverables. New fault-tolerant rendering auto-heals red and black frame issues without holding up your render queue. (Check out this Media Encoder preview video.)
Open to working Anywhere
Adobe Anywhere for video is a collaborative workflow platform that empowers Premiere Pro, After Effects and Prelude users to work together using centralized media and assets across standard networks. Adobe Anywhere is a separate offering from Creative Cloud, but support for connecting to Adobe Anywhere is already built in for every seat of Premiere Pro and Prelude—as well as early access integration for After Effects. New features for the next Anywhere update include Hot Backup, providing real-time back up of the Collaboration Hub; Rough Cut Support, making it easier to start editing rough cuts in Prelude and finish sequences in Premiere Pro; and improved integration with After Effects which allows you to use Dynamic Link in Anywhere productions to place After Effects compositions in Premiere Pro sequences.
“We live in an incredible time with industries moving away from narrowly-defined roles to a much more dynamic, more connected creative process,” said Bill Roberts, senior director or product management. It’s no exaggeration to say that to make a film today, all you need is a camera, a laptop, and Creative Cloud.”
Creative Cloud for everyone
There is a Creative Cloud plan for everyone, including monthly or annual individual memberships, Creative Cloud for teams (ideal for small businesses because it makes it easy to add or remove seats depending on how many staff are involved with a project), enterprise and education.
To learn more about the next wave of innovation in Creative Cloud for video, register for our special online webinar Thursday, April 10, 2014.
Download our NAB 2014 What’s New PDF.
For news, highlights and interviews from NAB 2014, follow #TeamAdobe on Facebook and Twitter.
Sign up now for Creative Cloud membership and take advantage of special introductory pricing for Creative Suite owners.
Powster creates a striking user-interactive music video for Bombay Bicycle Club with Adobe Creative Cloud.
Powster is nothing if not innovative. The interactive and motion graphics company provides “over-the-top” content, concepts, and apps for the entertainment industry. Powster’s inspiring work has earned the firm multiple accolades, including Webby and FWA awards, and a designation as one of the few Facebook Preferred Marketing Developers. One of Powster’s latest endeavors is an interactive music video for the band Bombay Bicycle Club and their song “Carry Me.” Ste Thompson, founder and creative director of Powster, shares how the groundbreaking interactive music video came together.
Adobe: Tell us more about Powster.
Thompson: We create entertaining content, marketing concepts, and applications/games. Our biggest strengths are video and interactive. We’re among the first creative studios making interactive music videos like the one for Bombay Bicycle Club. The project was exciting because it was one of our most creative and innovative projects. Our team is half video and half interactive led, so the “Carry Me” project was a perfect fit.
In addition, we write quite a bit of custom software to pull off some of our more unique projects. We created Orbital Video, a technology that allows us to have multiple cameras in a circle with a performer—break dancer, musician—in the middle. Once the video is complete and published, viewers can switch between camera feeds or pause the motion. Our Orbital Video technology sparked our interest in creating the interactive music video for Bombay Bicycle Club.
Adobe: What makes the “Carry Me” music video unique?
Thompson: The video is an online experience that engages with audiences on a completely different level. It’s fun for users because they can manipulate the band members like stop-motion puppets. Users can control them and move their bodies while the band members continue drumming or lip-synching. The interactive experience with the music video is something very unusual, because it puts control in the hands of the viewer. As a side note, we created both the interactive version and a linear version that can be viewed more like a traditional music video.
Adobe: How did the idea for the video come about?
Thompson: Eadweard Muybridge, an English photographer from the late 1800s who studied motion and motion-picture projection, inspired the album theme, and the video. A lot of people know him from his studies of horses running; his work centers on taking multiple stills and weaving them together to create motion. It was Muybridge’s concepts and studies that established 24 frames per second as the standard for moving pictures. We created this project on the concept of a Zoetrope, a device that produces the illusion of motion from a rapid succession of static pictures.
Adobe: Tell us more about the creative process behind the video.
Thompson: The whole idea was to be the first to make a linear piece of video footage interactive by allowing the user to switch between feeds, yet keep them in sync. We filmed 9 different camera feeds at 1080p resolution, animated them, and edited them together in Adobe Premiere Pro CC. We had 9 post-production processes on screen at once. Combined they were 5,000 pixels wide, so what we were trying to manage and edit was immense. We actually had to trick our graphics accelerator card and Adobe Premiere Pro CC so we could scale down every piece of footage and then scale each one back up in nested sequences, and retain quality. It was the opposite of most other workflows, where everyone wants to work with media at maximum resolution.
Adobe: How did you shoot the project?
Thompson: The shoot was fairly taxing. For us. And for the band. For example, we did nine different takes of the lead singer lip-synching and all the drummers drumming in different positions. It required a lot of patience and precise alignment, so we could play each frame after the other without it appearing jerky as viewers interacted with the footage.
Adobe: Why did you choose Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
Thompson: The flexibility of Adobe Premiere Pro CC is unprecedented. We’re standardized on Adobe Creative Cloud for its integration and versatility. For editing and post-production on most of our projects, we often have to do some unusual processes. For this project, we were able to push the Adobe software successfully and use it in different ways.
Adobe: How did you use Adobe After Effects CC?
Thompson: After Effects CC was as crucial as Premiere Pro CC. Nine animators worked to add frames. We used Expressions in After Effects to replicate how users would interact with the footage in the HTML5 version, as if someone on a desktop machine or other device with a browser would engage with the footage in real-time. In this way, we were able to view and alter how each user would interact with the video to create the best experiences.
Adobe: What other tools are you working with in Adobe Creative Cloud?
Thompson: Our main applications are Premiere Pro CC and After Effects CC, as well as Photoshop CC. We use Audition CC for sound editing, though we didn’t use it on this project specifically. We also do a lot of work destined for the web, so we are looking at Edge Inspect CC to obtain a snapshot of how projects will look on any device. Creative Cloud allows us to explore new creative possibilities and helps ensure that projects look and sound great on any device.
Adobe: If you had to sum up why you use Adobe Premiere Pro CC, what would you say?
Thompson: The reasons we use Premiere Pro CC are the same with the elements of Creative Cloud as a whole. We are not trying to make normal videos and films, so we need solutions that are flexible and allow us to experiment, innovate, and dream up new user interaction mechanisms. Creative Cloud and Premiere Pro CC are so versatile. They free us to create epic, interesting things.
A brilliant emerging filmmaker uses Adobe Creative Cloud to edit weekly videos for the popular online channel
Extreme sports videos are a hit on YouTube, but few think about the behind the scenes work that it takes to capture these daring events on film and share them with the world. Devin Graham, aka Devin Super Tramp on YouTube, knows firsthand. To stay one step ahead of extreme sports enthusiasts, he has paddled for hours through waves with camera gear in a dry bag, hiked through jungles, and braved extreme temperatures to capture shots that may last only a few seconds. The result? Millions of viewers, 1.8 million subscribers and plenty of high-profile endorsements. For Graham, living on the edge is an everyday part of life, one he tackles with joy, enthusiasm, and the video tools in Adobe Creative Cloud.
Adobe: Tell us more about your background.
Graham: Since I was a little boy, I always wanted to make movies. I created LEGO movies, music videos with siblings, and snowboarding videos with friends. I bought cheap cameras and ultimately broke them. Making movies always made sense to me. I started editing with Pinnacle Studio software in high school, but quickly switched to Premiere Pro.
After high school I went to Brigham Young University (BYU) for filmmaking and learned Final Cut Pro and Avid. I thought that I wanted to do big Hollywood productions for the entire world to see. During my time at BYU I had the opportunity to go to Hawaii to work on a couple of projects. That’s when I learned about YouTube and realized I could have a bigger voice online, creating content that I wanted to create without a producer or studio dictating what I could and couldn’t do. I started making YouTube videos and right away they went viral. Recognizing the opportunity that was in front of me, I dropped out of film school to pursue a YouTube career.
Adobe: How do you explain the success of your YouTube channel?
Graham: A lot of people think I just go out and have fun, and I do, but it’s also a lot of hard work. I made a video, Fighting for your passion—Inside look at what I do for a living because I’m asked about it so often. As I say in the video, I want to get the shots that no one else will get, and there’s usually a crazy story that goes along with each one.
As soon as my videos started going viral, advertisers contacted me and wanted to get involved. I’ve recently done work with Ford and Mountain Dew—which has been really fun and I’ve been grateful for the opportunity to work on these projects. A few months ago Universal Studios invited me to fly out and use their backlot for a shoot. Again, I know it sounds glamorous, but there are a lot of other shoots where we’re sleeping in tents, getting up before dawn, and hiking for miles to try to capture a four-second shot.
It’s all worth it, though. I love knowing that when I post a video it goes out to hundreds of thousands of fans. Those are ultimately the people who determine my success.
Adobe: Why do you call yourself Devin Super Tramp?
Graham: Super Tramp comes from the book and movie Into the Wild, about Christopher McCandless. He abandons his possessions, gives his entire savings to charity, hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness, and changes his name to Alexander Super Tramp. It’s a story about how he went out and pursued his dreams, much like I’m doing. In the end, he realizes he should have shared his joy and adventures with the world. I’m taking that next step, learning from his mistakes, and sharing my experiences. It’s been awesome because I’ve gotten email from fans around the world telling me how I’ve touched their lives, which is incredibly meaningful.
Adobe: How do you come up with the ideas for your videos?
Graham: I want to create content that people want to see and I want to do projects that interest me. People love the extreme sports videos, but I’ve also tried to branch out and build my audience in other ways by looking at what’s popular and trendy. For instance, I created the video Assassin’s Creed Meets Parkour in Real Life and timed it with the release of the Assassin’s Creed video game. Because it focused on a popular, timely topic it got more than 30 million views. I also look at Facebook and Instagram to see what people like. A friend’s picture on Facebook, of a puppy in a package at Christmas, had an amazing number of likes. I decided to do a video called Puppy Christmas that was very successful; it was even showcased on Good Morning America.
Adobe: Tell us more about your workflow and your transition from Final Cut to Adobe Premiere Pro CC.
Graham: I had been using Final Cut Pro for years, because that was the editing software taught at BYU. I knew all the shortcuts and was familiar with Final Cut, but the workflow was painful. I spent so much time converting file formats before I could even start editing, and the multiple resulting files consumed tons of storage. I knew I needed to move back to Premiere Pro, but honestly, I was dreading the switch. When I opened Premiere Pro I realized I could use the same keyboard shortcuts that I did in Final Cut Pro. It took one or two days to get familiar with the software again, and it’s been great ever since.
I shoot on a Canon 5D Mark III and Mark II, Canon Cinema 1DC, as well as a GoPro Hero3, iPhone, Epic, and Phantom cameras. When I finish shooting I put everything on a hard drive, label it, open Premiere Pro, and start editing on my laptop—it’s that simple. I often edit when I’m on airplanes, in airports, or in hotel rooms and Creative Cloud gives me the flexibility to work from anywhere. I keep my editing process as simple as possible, using Warp Stabilizer to smooth out shots and the Lumetri Deep Color Engine to apply SpeedGrade looks from within Premiere Pro, then Premiere Pro allows me to easily optimize and export files for YouTube.
Adobe: Did you transition to new hardware as well?
Graham: For years, I’ve been an Apple user however I was open to new hardware that could perform faster. Recently, I stepped into an HP Z820 system and found it performs faster than my current MacBook Pro Retina. Additionally, it handles my 4K files without issue which allows me to work with my files in real time, so my workflow is certainly faster. And I need that.
Adobe: What does your use of Adobe Creative Cloud mean to you from a professional standpoint?
Graham: I put out a video every week, and I usually try to stay ten to fifteen videos ahead of schedule. I typically have a lot of footage already shot that is ready to edit. Premiere Pro helps me work a lot more efficiently than I could before. I use Photoshop CC to tune up still photos and upload them to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for promotional purposes. I also use After Effects CC on occasion for creating VFX, and Illustrator CC for vector graphics.
Adobe: What do your film school friends think of your success?
Graham: When I decided to go this route my film friends didn’t really think anything would come of it. Since then, about half of them have started their own YouTube channels. BYU also brought me back to teach a semester on social media and how to launch a film career. The biggest lesson I tried to impart was that it’s not easy, that you have to go the extra mile to capture that special shot. For me, that will always be what’s next: I was born to be a filmmaker who gets the shots others won’t have the ambition or drive to get.
The SXSW Film Conference & Festival is an opportunity for creative professionals to experience the latest and greatest of what up-and-coming filmmakers have to offer. Many of the films featured at this year’s festival were touched in some way by Adobe creative software; for editing, visual effects, title treatments, and even posters, it plays a critical role in helping filmmakers realize their visions. Six films that SXSW attendees can experience during their time in Austin, Texas:
Named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film 2013, Iva Radivojevic’s first documentary feature premieres at SXSW 2014 on Tuesday, March 11. Radivojevic was born in Yugoslavia and moved to Cyprus with her family to escape the war. When she was eighteen, she came to the United States and has resided in New York City for the past fifteen years. She returned to Cyprus to film her first feature-length film, Evaporating Borders, a five-part visual essay/feature film that explores topics of migration, tolerance, identity, and belonging. The film first premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in January and is now poised to impress at SXSW in the “Visions” category.
Co-directors Jason Sussberg and David Alvarado met in Stanford University’s Documentary Film and Video program. They worked on a few projects together and soon realized that they shared an interest in science and technology. After graduating with MFAs, they collaborated to make the documentary film The Immortalists about two scientists working to discover a cure for aging. Initially edited with Final Cut Pro, the team switched to Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Premiere Pro CC mid-production. The Immortalists premiered on Saturday, March 8.
Directors Travis Rummel and Ben Knight have been making films together for ten years. After starting out as still photographers with no real working knowledge of how to make films, they were inspired to try filmmaking after attending Telluride’s Mountain Film Festival. Their first short film about fly fishing and water rights focused on the Black Canyon of Colorado’s Gunnison River and was accepted into the festival. Since then, the duo has made several films together, the most recent of which premiered at SXSW 2014 on Monday, March 10. Edited with an all-Adobe workflow, DamNation is a documentary about dam removal in the United States.
Premiering at SXSW 2014, Joel Potrykus’s film Buzzard intentionally doesn’t fit a particular genre. A follow-up to his first film, Ape, the movie tracks a deadbeat check scammer through Detroit and is chock full of 1980s references—chugging Mountain Dew, Nintendo jokes, and heavy metal music. Brandon Bowman joined the production by chance, and shares his first experience working on a feature film and editing with Adobe Premiere Pro CC. Buzzard premiered at SXSW 2015 on Saturday, March 8.
Since 2009, Rob Bralver and Jeff Broadway of Gatling Pictures have worked together on documentary films that tell stories of social importance. Their latest project, OUR VINYL WEIGHS A TON (THIS IS STONES THROW RECORDS), explores the history of Stones Throw Records, a record label committed to independence and artistic freedom. The film—featuring interviews with Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Common, Questlove, Talib Kweli, Mike D (The Beastie Boys), and Tyler the Creator—premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June 2013 and screened at SXSW 2014 on March 7.
Jeffrey Radice got into filmmaking in a non-traditional way. He was working in IT and making a decent income when friends asked him to fund their moviemaking efforts. After producing two consecutive short films at the Sundance Film Festival, he decided to jump in and try his hand at directing. Ten years later, Radice found himself back at Sundance for his directorial debut with the feature film No No: A Dockumentary. On Saturday, March 8 the film opened at SXSW 2014 in the “Festival Favorites” category and as part of the inaugural “SXsports.”
Commercial television editor delivers stunning spots using an Adobe Creative Cloud workflow
Our friend Adam Pertofsky at Rock Paper Scissors has been busy these last few months. Since we last spoke with him, he’s completed the third part of the Captain Morgan series of commercials and cut three additional spots, one of which aired during the Super Bowl. We took a few minutes to catch up with him on his recent projects and use of Adobe Creative Cloud:
Adobe: Tell us about the Super Bowl commercial you worked on.
Pertofsky: It is the 60-second “Going All The Way” Coca-Cola spot that aired during the second half of the game. We worked on it with Wieden+Kennedy. I did all of the editing in Premiere Pro CC, as well as some color correction for the client presentation. It is a really sweet, classic spot that a lot of people will be moved by and enjoy.
Adobe: What other projects have you worked on?
Pertofsky: I cut a simple, funny commercial for Chevy that will air during the Winter Games. It was an easy process of working in Premiere Pro to do cuts and throw in some graphics using the Luma Key. I also used the title tool in Premiere Pro to set up a string of options for the creative director to look at and it was amazing and super simple.
Adobe: Did you use any other Adobe tools on this project?
Pertofsky: I’ve been using a lot of Adobe Media Encoder, which I find really fast and terrific. Recently, I was at my daughter’s volleyball practice and I needed to do some unexpected cut downs for the Chevy spot. I jumped into the back of my car, set up the project, did the cut downs, threw them into Media Encoder and was able to upload them using my phone.
Adobe: What’s the biggest project you’ve worked on recently?
Pertofsky: I cut a four-and-a-half minute commercial for Samsung with R/GA San Francisco. In the spot, aliens take over the earth and challenge the world to a game of football (soccer). It is a massive spot with a lot of variations and the version I worked on ties everything together. I used a lot of tools within Premiere Pro and a lot of After Effects CC, which was terrific. Reframing things and putting them in the right position before sending everything to the post house for final finishing was so easy and fast in Premiere Pro.
Adobe: How do you feel about the Captain Morgan series you completed?
Pertofsky: The last Captain Morgan spot came out great and I’m really proud of it. The project involved heavy use of After Effects and Premiere Pro. I love knowing that when I have a big effects gig going I have powerful programs that I can work with to make the offline presentation look good. For the Captain Morgan spot I used After Effects to create a garbage matte around an object that let me move things around easily and quickly, which was a huge help. Moving elements around and reframing is much easier and faster thanks to Dynamic Link; I can line everything up in Premiere Pro, quickly jump into After Effects, and then easily go back and open the project in Premiere Pro again with all of the moves applied.
Adobe: Now that you’ve been working with Adobe Premiere Pro CC for a while, have you made any new discoveries?
Pertofsky: One of the tools that works great in Premiere Pro is mixing on the fly. I can set it up, mix the spot, and it leaves keyframes behind that I can manipulate further later. A lot of times as I’m showing a rough cut to a client I’m actually mixing it in Premiere Pro at the same time. Then when they ask to watch it again, I’m just fixing the mix and it speeds up the whole process. This is also useful because clients don’t have the appetite to look at rough cuts, they want to see it as close to finished as possible without paying for it to be finished. We have to do as much as possible in the cutting room to make it look good. All of the LUTs that are in Premiere Pro are terrific for doing quick color changes.
Adobe: Are there any other tools that help speed your workflow?
Pertofsky: I have an NVIDIA Quadro K5000 and it makes me completely forget about rendering. With everything going in and out of After Effects and adding effects in Premiere Pro, it never slows me down.
A remote team uses laptops equipped with Adobe Premiere Pro CC to edit and package athlete stories
Since the beginning of the Winter Games, Hearst Television has been on site in Sochi delivering general coverage, as well as profiles of individual Team USA athletes. Hearst relies on a tapeless workflow and reporters in the newsroom and out in the field use Premiere Pro, part of Adobe Creative Cloud, to assemble and edit their stories.
The broadcaster moved its news operations to a file-based pipeline four years ago. As part of the transition, it partnered with Adobe for its editing platform combined with a Bitcentral production system.
“We brought people from the stations into the transition process very early, so it worked out well and they were really pleased with it,” says Joe Addalia, director of technology projects for Hearst Television. “In our creative services group the team immediately wrapped their arms around the Adobe workflow; when the creative people start saying how much they love Adobe tools the news people hear them and start becoming champions too.”
Today, 19 of the 25 Hearst stations that produce news use Premiere Pro for day-to-day cutting of news stories. In the field crews are equipped with HP or Dell laptops running Premiere Pro and sometimes Prelude.
This month, the remote workflow is being put to the test: A team of eight people, including a mix of photojournalists, reporters, producers, and a technical lead are working on-site in Sochi putting together human interest stories about athletes who live in the communities where Hearst broadcasts. The team is covering U.S. athletes in their local markets, with additional material delivered to Hearst’s ten NBC affiliates.
“It’s my job to make sure everyone’s laptop does what it is supposed to do in a foreign environment,” says Larry Vancini, Hearst’s technical lead on the project. “Once the crews and teams acquire the news and create a package, I get the finished packages back to the stations and handle any necessary embargoing. If something is shot only for NBC, and only for Louisville, the correct metadata must be present when that package is uploaded.”
Vancini uses Media Encoder to output the proper file formats, including presets he has created for standard definition and high definition H.264. Of the nineteen stations that have Premiere Pro, seventeen of them also use Bitcentral as their production system. Metadata is entered within Bitcentral whenever content is uploaded. Once the material is ready, the network of Bitcentral stations are alerted that the content is available and the remaining stations have access to it via a web browser.
In order to handle the amount of content it’s tasked with creating in Sochi, the Hearst team pre-writes most stories—which helps the team organize their time and gives them the ability to jump on stories that develop in the moment. Reporters may use previously shot content of local athletes and combine it with fresh Sochi footage. Producers laying out the plans have a seven hour time difference in their favor so they can work a day ahead and get direct feedback from the stations, when necessary.
While reporters don’t have the luxury of working a story right until the moment it goes to air, in Sochi only one news package each day is date- and time-sensitive, all other stories can be completed and uploaded a day ahead of time, so the stations have plenty of time to bring them to air. Despite distance and bandwidth constraints, the team is excited to be working on site at The Games and delivering high-quality content back to local stations hungry for coverage.
“We’ve dabbled with the system since the election and also used it for localized coverage of the Zimmerman trial,” says Vancini. “In that case we were in the same time zone and all content was edited locally with Premiere Pro and encoded using Media Encoder. We pushed the files back on a high speed pipe and it worked flawlessly. We’ve taken this model and applied it to our Sochi workflow and it’s going well.”
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Art directors are becoming animators. Print designers are becoming web designers. Illustrators are also photographers and editors who also shoot film. They are the New Creatives, and we are celebrating their work.
With the Creative Cloud our product teams have removed the barriers to creative expression: Designers can build parallax HTML5 experiences. Illustrators are making EPUBs. Photographers are using their cameras and Adobe technology to become filmmakers. And coders have the tools to make beautiful design.
It’s an amazing and interesting time in our industry; people have the ability to self-express, in any discipline, without boundaries. I Am The New Creative promotes the amazing work our community is producing and marks this moment in time as a movement and a celebration of creativity.
One of the most incredible aspects of this program has been watching creative professionals merge their mediums and their portraits to produce “New Creatives” versions of themselves.
There’s something magical about the compositions. As a designer there’s always a part of me in my work, but to personalize my work in this way, to make my work more representative of me, presents an alternative perspective. All of the artists we’re working with are enjoying this experience and are appreciative of our desire to promote their amazing creative output.
Our new site highlights the New Creatives, their disciplines, their work, and their stories.
Visitors to the site can join us and become New Creatives (submissions are made through Behance and curated by our team); we’ll be choosing a number of artists and celebrating them and their work throughout our social properties and on Adobe.com during the coming year.
Be sure to check out the work of the New Creatives, get inspired, and join us.