British network transforms production with Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise
For more than 50 years, ITV has delivered beloved and successful programming to households throughout the United Kingdom. Today, ITV is probably best known for its flagship serial dramas, Coronation Street and Emmerdale, both of which have been on the air for thousands of episodes and found popularity with audiences around the world. Decades of experience with the fast turnaround of these dramas has underlined the importance of efficient production and streamlined workflows. In his upcoming talk at IBC, Martyn Suker, head of production innovation for ITV, will share some of his secrets to establishing superior production workflows.
Adobe: Tell us about what you do at ITV.
Suker: My main focus is to set and continuously review the digital production strategies across ITV Studios. I also support and advise teams for all our productions. Sometimes that means helping a show find the right facilities, developing a new workflow, or helping them maximize the creative opportunities of emerging technologies or techniques, at other times it can mean advising on standard camera policies.
Adobe: What is the production modernization program?
Suker: We’re always looking for ways to improve processes and the way that we work. Right now, our main focus is on how we can simplify our production workflows. It’s not just about swapping out a few pieces of software or hardware here and there. It’s an overarching change program looking at roles and responsibilities, best practices, and the entire production culture. Ultimately, we’re looking to save time and money during production so that we can shift more value on screen.
Adobe: What were you looking for in a solution?
Suker: We were definitely looking for an end-to-end solution. Having said that, when most people speak of an end-to-end approach, they are usually just referring to the post-production process. We look at the entire production process, starting from the early stages of commissioning and ending at the final delivery and archival. Importantly we want to track production information throughout the production lifecycle and wherever possible, automate mundane tasks. It’s about providing a better experience for users all round.
Adobe: How does Adobe Creative Cloud fit in to the production workflow?
Suker: We’ve been using Adobe Story CC Plus on Coronation Street and Emmerdale for quite some time. It’s a big operation; both shows have three or four crews working simultaneously everyday for 50 weeks a year. With such a fast turnaround they need to shoot out of order, so Story plays an incredibly important role in helping us keep track of schedules and scripts.
Designers have also been using Adobe After Effects and Photoshop for quite some time, but the two most recent additions to our workflow have been Adobe Prelude CC and Adobe Premiere Pro CC. By adopting an all Adobe workflow it’s possible to take advantage of the built-in integrations, allowing us to work more quickly and effectively.
Adobe: How does MioEverywhere support the production workflow?
Suker: MioEverywhere from Nativ.tv is a highly configurable production information and workflow management system that’s helped us take our workflow to a new level. We used it to build panels in Prelude and Premiere Pro that help simplify data and media management within that part of the process. One of the key advantages of Creative Cloud is the ability to do that type of integration, quickly and simply.
Adobe: How did you decide that the Adobe workflow was right for ITV?
Suker: We want productions to have the ability to choose the right tool for the job. We ran a pilot using Creative Cloud and MioEverywhere to produce a recent drama documentary. It was about ensuring we had the right approach, functionality and capabilities. There are always issues when you introduce something new, but you only discover those issues when you put it into a real environment—an actual production that’s got to meet deadlines and provide quality.
Adobe Prelude worked very smoothly by enabling the production team to log and ingest footage quickly and efficiently. The editor, like most of our editors at ITV, had never worked with Premiere Pro before and it was a complicated edit involving drama reconstructions mixed with archive footage. We proved there were no more issues than you would normally expect with such a complex piece of editing, indeed some things were better.
Adobe: What were the results of the pilot?
Suker: Prelude was particularly effective in providing huge time savings during ingest. Overall the benefits were significant and as a result we were able to move investment to on-screen talent. Having a recognizable high-profile leading actor may convince the network to give us a better slot in the schedule, pulling in a bigger audience and in turn, driving more revenue.
Moreover, it proved Adobe does not prevent us from working with other tools. For the pilot program, the producer wanted to work with a particular colorist and dubbing mixer. We just exported the masters, handed them over to the post-production house, re-imported the grade and dub and then finished the program in Premiere Pro. Even though it’s possible to handle everything within the Adobe workflow, we proved it’s also flexible enough to give production teams those options.
Adobe: Why did you get an enterprise term license agreement for Adobe Creative Cloud?
Suker: We can see opportunities to use Creative Cloud across the company, both in production and with our development teams. We want choice and to encourage staff to experiment with different software within Creative Cloud to provide further benefit. For example, one of our production labels is using Creative Cloud to create content for all its YouTube channels. Using the full range of toolsets within the suite is saving a lot of time and indirectly of course, money.
Adobe: What are the next steps for ITV?
Suker: We got approval for funding based on the success of the pilot, so now we’re ironing out all the details in terms of the best configurations, implementing our learning from the pilot and procuring the right infrastructure to support initial roll-out across the company.
We’re also working closely with production, development teams and editors to get them used to working with Prelude and Premiere Pro. We’re really excited about its possibilities and the opportunities that for example, Adobe Anywhere might also offer in future.
Martyn Suker, Head of Production Innovation at ITV Studios, will be presenting in the Adobe stand at IBC 2014 on Saturday, Sept. 13th at 5:00pm, Sunday, Sept. 14th at 5:00pm, and Monday, Sept. 15th at 5:00pm.
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Swiss broadcasting company uses Adobe Creative Cloud to create show openers for top sports event coverage
Earlier this year, we interviewed Patrick Arnecke, head of design and promotion for Swiss Radio and Television (SRF) about the new opener the broadcaster created for its coverage of the Sotchi winter games. Since then, SRF has created similar openers for its coverage of the games in Brazil and the Europe Athletic Cup in Zurich. Representatives from SRF will be speaking at Adobe’s booth at IBC, where they will go into more depth about how Adobe Creative Cloud helps them craft these original content pieces. Here, Motion Designer Simone Nucci gives us a quick overview of what will be discussed.
Adobe: What cameras did you use to shoot the openers?
Nucci: We used RED EPIC for the action shots and Phantom Flex for the slow motion sequences. Everything that is shot is imported into Premiere Pro CC so we can quickly produce a rough cut. After we’re happy with the rough cut, we start to do all of the 3D tracking using SynthEyes. In the meantime we do all the keying and retouching, such as color adjustments of the athletes’ shirts, in After Effects.
Adobe: How do you work with Cinema 4D?
Nucci: Cinema 4D is used to make all of the backgrounds before everything is composed in After Effects CC. The programs work really well together and really speed up our workflow. We can import 3D information from Cinema 4D, such as lights and camera data, and it updates in After Effects with one click without rendering again and again.
Adobe: Are there any After Effects CC features that make a difference in your workflow?
Nucci: Working with the Roto Brush in After Effects is really fast. Not everything in the openers was shot on a green screen. Sometimes we had lights or small objects in a shot that we had to rotoscope out and Mocha AE made it very easy.
All compositing and color correction is done in After Effects before we render the shots out for Premiere Pro, where we adjust the cut and create several cutdowns for other design elements. In the end, everything is rendered out as a QuickTime movie.
Adobe: What other Adobe Creative Cloud applications do you use?
Nucci: We do part of our matte paintings in Photoshop for backgrounds and regularly use Photoshop and Illustrator for storyboarding and concept art. Illustrator is also used to create outlines for 3D objects because they are so easy to handle in Cinema4D. Basically, we used many applications in the package to create the three openers.
Simone Nucci and Simon Renfer, both Senior Motion Designers at SRF, will be presenting in the Adobe stand at IBC 2014 on Sunday, Sept. 14th at 2:00pm and Monday, Sept. 15th at 10:30am and 1:00pm.
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Adobe’s professional applications continue to evolve at a blistering pace, and today we are thrilled to be announcing new features coming soon to the next release of Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2014, which is accompanied by announcements of all other video and audio desktop applications including Prelude, After Effects, SpeedGrade, Media Encoder, Audition and Adobe Story Plus. For an overview of the top new features for Adobe Pro Video check out the Creative Cloud blog – or reference our data sheet for more specifics.
All of the video applications feature a refined user interface, with new support for HiDPI displays on the Windows platform, accompanying the existing support for Apple Retina displays.
Premiere Pro boasts several new media and project management features to speed up workflows, especially when working across multiple projects and collaborating with others. New Search Bins allow editors to build new bins automatically, based on metadata searches within a project, with results showing as aliases of the original project items. An advanced Timeline Search makes it simple to find and select clips within a sequence based on specific criteria such as Clip Name or Marker comment. Significant and powerful improvements have been made to Multiple Project Workflows - multiple Media Browser panels can be open simultaneously, allowing fast browsing of other Premiere Pro and After Effects projects for easy access to their media and sequences. And the new Source Monitor Timeline View allows editors to preview sequences from other projects, getting direct access to their components to quickly bring into the current active project. Editors collaborating over shared storage will find working with each other’s projects is now a great deal easier.
When you’re ready to archive or move a project, Consolidate and Transcode is there to help. Consolidate and Transcode converts sequences or an entire project into a single codec, while retaining the ability to make edit adjustments later, and leaving original projects untouched. Render and Replace enables quick timeline renders of clips and dynamically linked After Effects composition, with the ability to return to the original media or comp at any time. And full encode/decode support for the GoPro CineForm codec offers Premiere Pro users a new, cross platform intermediate codec, with full support for alpha and large frame sizes of 4K and beyond – an excellent choice for workflows where transcoding to a well-performing intermediate codec makes sense.
Premiere Pro continues to be at the forefront of Ultra HD and 4K workflows, and now offers support for the AJA RAW format from the new AJA CION camera. As 4K RAW productions continue to increase and editors demand the best performance possible, Premiere Pro’s GPU optimizations also grow – this release sees GPU debayering for Phantom Cine and Canon RAW, alongside existing support for RED and CinemaDNG, for amazing playback performance.
Two of the major features from our June 2014 release also see major improvements. Masking and Tracking now offers performance improvements. a free-draw polygon pen tool, and easy, on-screen Bezier adjustments, with feathering and expansion now accessible directly from the monitor. And Master Clip Effects are enhanced, featuring indicators in the timeline to quickly see if a clip has a master clip effect applied, and improved navigation between sequence clip effects and master clip effects.
Audio workflows are also given a boost in the next release, with improved Send To Audition and enhancements to AAF export for workflows requiring integration with digital audio workstations. And of course, there are many other features and fixes in the release, with more information coming soon.
Adobe continues to develop the tools you need to stay creative while keeping up with the ever-changing video and broadcast industries, and we hope you’re as excited by the next wave of innovation in our creative video and audio desktop applications as we are. Stay tuned for more information.
If you can’t attend IBC in Amsterdam – be sure to keep up with all that’s going on with Adobe Pro video at the show on our dedicated Adobe Pro Video YouTube playlist!
Visit the Creative Cloud video page for links and news from Adobe at IBC 2014 from September 12–17.
Global VFX studio produces extraordinary motion graphics and visual effects with Adobe Creative Cloud
MPC is one of the world’s leading visual effects and motion graphics studios, with more than 2,000 employees in eight global offices. The studio’s work includes blockbuster films such as Godzilla, the Harry Potter franchise, and Life of Pi, and advertising campaigns for global brands including Samsung, Ikea, and Visa. MPC works with agencies, production companies, directors, and does some direct-to-brand engagements as well. Senior Motion Graphics Designer Will MacNeil, PR Manager Ella Boekeman, and Creative Director Dave Haupt explain the role of Adobe Creative Cloud in bringing their visions to life.
Adobe: What is important for us to know about MPC?
Boekeman: MPC does everything from initial concept art, treatment consultation, pre-visualization, shoot supervision, 2D compositing, 3D/CG effects, animation, color grading, and digital and experiential production. We have three main areas of work, MPC Film, MPC Adverting, and MPC Creative. MPC Film are best known for their work on blockbuster films and won the Academy Award in VFX last year for their work on Life of Pi. We launched MPC Creative as our standalone production arm to service clients who want us to manage the entire production process and to develop a more innovative range of technology-based solutions to their creative challenges. MPC Advertising is our more traditional commercials work.
Adobe: How does MPC use Adobe Creative Cloud?
MacNeil: As a motion design studio, we rely on Adobe tools every day. Artists use Photoshop CC at the beginning of projects when we’re designing ideas for pitches and during project design when we’re mocking up frames, textures, and backgrounds. We use After Effects CC for compositing video material. Adobe tools are the most fundamental part of the work we do.
Haupt: We also use Illustrator CC. For instance, we get a lot of photo-real shots and graphics that we animate. We start in Photoshop or Illustrator, and then bring the images or graphics into After Effects. The integrated Creative Cloud toolset is surprisingly simple. When we recently added Adobe Premiere Pro CC to our workflow, we thought it would be slower than our traditional pipeline. But when we conformed a three-minute promo for Camay soap, it was just as fast. Plus, it’s seamless to transition between desktop applications. We use InDesign for all pitches and treatments.
Adobe: How would you describe the general workflow at MPC?
Haupt: Our work varies quite a lot because we cover everything in the design spectrum including posters, online, and events. Typically, we meet with a director or agency and listen to their ideas and input. After that, we talk about the best way to shoot it. Everybody is trying to maximize budgets and extract greater value, whether in-camera, in VFX, or a mixture of the two.
After we come up with the best solution, we start doing concept work. We do a lot of character concept work and use Creative Cloud for pre-visualization. Quite often we use storyboard frames to make quick animatics that help bring ideas to life.
Adobe: What do you like about working with Creative Cloud?
MacNeil: Creative Cloud opens up projects to more people in the studio. A team may include one animator leading the job, while others focus on specific shots, visual effects techniques, or looks we’re trying to achieve. We give everyone a task that suits their skills, whether it’s drawing in Illustrator or creating animations in After Effects.
Haupt: The big thing is getting everyone involved. While we’re writing scripts and looking at locations, we’re always mocking up concepts, doing animation tests, and constantly working on the project so when it comes in from the editors, we’re ready to move forward.
Adobe: What were the drivers behind MPC’s switch to Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
Haupt: We were using Final Cut Pro, but wanted to explore Premiere Pro because of its tie-in with After Effects. Some projects have smaller budgets, so we needed a way around using Autodesk Flame for visual effects to save money and time. Now that we’re using Premiere Pro, we love it.
MacNeil: When we first worked with Premiere Pro CC we were impressed with its performance, as well as its integration with the rest of the Creative Cloud applications.
Adobe: Can you tell us about a recent project you completed using Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
MacNeil: We recently completed a title sequence and graphics package for German channel ZDF’s Champions League coverage. The job was directed by our in-house team Tom Robinson and Steve Ross.
Premiere Pro CC was an essential tool on the project. The job required reworking live action football footage into an outer space environment full of nebulae, asteroids, and planets, with lots of particle and FX work. The main title was made up of a series of live action shots, but placed together in a single, seamless camera move.
We used Premiere Pro in the animatic stage to try different live action shots against our music and to see how different shots worked together. Once a potential shot came in, we’d start to do some rough compositing work in After Effects and then, using Dynamic Link, we could open it in Premiere Pro and try it in different parts of the cut. We could move it all around the timeline and see how it played against the music, and also with the adjacent shots.
We used the time remapping in Premiere Pro, which is surprisingly simple and quick, to create speed ramps to work with the music. If we needed to make simple changes to the composite, we’d just open the shot in After Effects, tweak it, and then pop back into Premiere Pro where it would automatically update. Then we could get this updated offline to our clients very quickly and respond accordingly to their comments. It made what could have been a very tedious and time-consuming process much less painful.
Adobe: What other projects have you done using this workflow?
Haupt: We’ve worked on a number of fun projects recently, including a Bentley promo, a commercial for UK mobile provider Three, and an epic commercial for adidas that we’ll be discussing at IBC 2014. We’re always excited to work on projects that lead our team in new creative directions.
William (Will) MacNeil, Senior Motion Design Artist, MPC will be presenting in the Adobe stand at IBC 2014 on Sunday, Sept. 14th at 10:30am and 1:00pm and Monday, Sept. 15th at 2:00pm.
Animation studio produces children’s series using a workflow enabled by Adobe Creative Cloud and CelAction
Rapid technology advances have made computer animation one of the fastest growing industries in Europe and North America. The demand for animated entertainment is growing partly due to expanding broadcasting hours for cable and satellite TV and the ever-increasing popularity of the Internet. Since it launched in 2008, the United Kingdom’s Karrot Animation has become a recognized industry leader, producing 2D animated shows including the international hit Sarah & Duck. Karrot co-founder Jamie Badminton attributes the company’s success to a talented team supported by efficient workflows.
Adobe: How did you develop the Karrot team?
Badminton: I studied to be an animator at Arts University Bournemouth and was in one of the last classes to do hand-drawn animation using cels and cel paint. I learned a lot about storytelling, which has been very helpful lately. I met Karrot co-founder Chris White when he hired me to illustrate a children’s book. We discovered we were both interested in television. He wanted to create children’s programs and my desire was to tell animated stories over multiple episodes. I’ve always been more a fan of television animation than feature film animation.
I went to university with Tim O’Sullivan, who’s our third partner. He was exceptional at solving storytelling problems and a very talented animator. Together, the three of us realized that if we created a studio to do commercial work, we could gain the ability to scale up and produce television programs when an opportunity came along. We used any available downtime to develop TV ideas. When we got a commission to create short videos for the BBC, we hired eight people for six months. When the contract finished, we kept everybody on to develop television ideas.
Adobe: Did you have particular kinds of shows in mind?
Badminton: We decided to create ten series ideas—five for children and five for adults. Sarah & Duck rose to the top. Tim developed the idea with Sarah Gomes Harris who designed and created the core of the stories. In some respects, it’s about a 7-year-old version of Sarah and her childhood love of ducks. A short pilot created in Adobe Flash Professional opened a few doors for us, but we knew we needed a more serious pipeline. We adopted CelAction because it has an item tracking system that suits TV production and we were able to pitch and win some broadcast contracts.
Adobe: Can you describe the production workflow?
Badminton: Being a small organization, we always wanted to create the show under one roof and that’s the crucial part of what Adobe Creative Cloud lets us do. We use Audition CC to collect and edit audio, Premiere Pro CC for animatics and final editing, After Effects CC for character composites and backgrounds, and we create the character art in Photoshop CC. Our animators can store artwork and layers created with Adobe tools in CelAction and work on scenes together. We then output .png sequences from CelAction to After Effects for comping and Premiere Pro for finalization.
Adobe: How long does it take to produce each episode?
Badminton: For each episode we assign one art director, two designers, one storyboard artist, one scriptwriter, one animation director, and four animators. A typical episode takes three weeks to produce in each department. The animators complete about six-and-a-half seconds a day for three weeks, which gets us to our six- and-a-half minute episode total.
Adobe: Tell us how you bring the audio and animation together.
Badminton: The singular drawn panels are brought into Premiere Pro and the JKL trimming feature in Premiere Pro lets us dynamically trim clips on the timeline. This saves us so much time because we cut hundreds of pictures into the animatic to show everyone what it will look like.
We edit all audio in house using Audition and we don’t lock the sound track before we do our storyboards because we find this limiting. We like having the flexibility to hone the voice tracks while we’re syncing everything together in Premiere Pro. Everything is adjustable until we lock the animatics, which gives us full control over the storytelling process.
Adobe: Why did you want to do everything in house?
Badminton: It was just crucial that we learned the lessons of making a TV show firsthand. If you start out working with a co-production company straightaway, you don’t know what parts of the process you can’t let out of your sight or what bits you can give more leeway. Adobe software absolutely enables us to do this for the right price.
Adobe: How much are we talking about in terms of cost?
Badminton: Film quality 3D animation can cost upwards of £200,000 per produced minute. Plus, it’s time consuming. The 3D rigging for the character Shrek took 18 months. In television, other producers are creating shows for about £12,000 per minute. Right now, we produce Sarah & Duck for about £8,500 per minute, which is relatively cheap.
I think that’s why a lot of other animation studios are also starting to use a similar process. Our show is seen by many as the benchmark for high quality on a tight budget. We’ve found the magic triangle of cheap, fast, and quality, which doesn’t happen very often.
Adobe: What would you say distinguishes Sarah & Duck from other shows?
Badminton: There are two main things I think we do differently. We give our art directors more time to develop backgrounds and other elements that provide tremendous on-screen value. We also crafted our workflows to enable creative flexibility.
The art director works on storyboard images and produces an art pack, which gets signed off before everything else moves forward. The rest of the team can then look at the art director’s layer files, use of textures, and other flourishes. The show looks quite organic, but the number of textures that we use will surprise people, which is cool. We may use rusted metal, or exotic tile from Marrakech to create unique textures, and those kinds of elements are totally unexpected in preschool TV. It gives our 2D animation a lot of depth and visual appeal.
The art pack is also the last time the BBC gets to approve artwork until we’re finished, so it’s a good production checkpoint. We budget three weeks per department for each show, but we try to be flexible. We want the design team to see what they can do with mixtures of After Effects, 2D puppet characters, and even frame-by-frame animation created in Photoshop. Our editor Mark came up with a great analogy in that the process of producing the show is a lot like watching a duck swimming. Ducks look like they’re gliding along the water, but underneath the surface, they’re kicking like crazy to create the effortlessness that people get to see.
Jamie Badminton, Creative Director and Producer for Karrot Animation, will be presenting in the Adobe stand at IBC on Friday, Sept. 12th at 1:00pm and Saturday, Sept. 13th at 12:30 and 2:00pm.
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