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Top-flight videos fuel the JetBlue brand

Airline’s in-house video team uses Adobe Creative Cloud to tell stories that engage and inspire crewmembers and customers

JetBlue Airways began flying in 2000 with a promise “to bring humanity back to air travel.”  That commitment is the backbone of the airline’s external brand, as well as its internal culture; JetBlue’s workers are “crewmembers,” whether they’re based on the ground, in the sky, or at the offices.

In 2014, for the tenth consecutive year, JetBlue received the highest honors in airline customer satisfaction among low-cost carriers in the J.D. Power North America Airline Satisfaction Study. A technological innovator from inception, JetBlue maintains and builds on its rapport with customers and crewmembers through a steady stream of story-driven videos. Jonathan Weitz is the manager of digital and online communications for JetBlue Airways, and he approaches his work with enthusiasm.

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Adobe: Tell us about your background.

Weitz: I started my career in broadcast journalism, working as a camera operator and video editor in local affiliate television.  After seven years, I wanted to move into a reporter/producer role. Unfortunately, I looked too young for broadcast television. I went into radio, working my way up from weekend host to morning show co-host and executive producer. But my heart was in visual media, so I went back to school to get my master’s degree.

Graduate school led to my current career in digital and online strategy. I orchestrated the digital strategy at Pratt Institute, an art and design school. As a freelancer, I worked on video projects for commercial companies and for nonprofits like the Coalition for the Homeless, United Nations Foundation, and the 92nd Street Y.

Adobe: What led to your position at JetBlue?

Weitz: I’m a huge aviation geek; I even got my pilot’s license. When I heard that JetBlue was looking for a person to lead video projects, I jumped at the opportunity.

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Jonathan Weitz

I’ve been here since July 2013. There are three of us on the video team and we produce approximately eight videos a month. It’s about 50/50 internal and external content. When I first started, entire projects were hired out, often at great expense. Now we do the majority of the work in-house but we also rely on a trusted list of New York-based freelancers to edit or shoot a project.

Adobe: Is there an overarching approach to content?

Weitz: JetBlue has a very strong external brand because of our culture, our crewmembers, and our values. We look at storytelling through lens of our crewmembers. What stories can we tell to engage, activate, and inspire them? For example, we recently produced a video tied to our new service to Detroit. Whenever we add a destination, we do something special to give back to that community.

 

In Detroit, we partnered with First Book, a nonprofit that provides new books to children in need. On our first day, JetBlue executives and crewmembers went to a grade school that had the poorest performance record in the state of Michigan for 2012/2013; its library was virtually empty. We donated brand new books and laptops, and students got their own books to take home.

We made that video for our crewmembers. A video like that makes people within JetBlue feel good about where they work, and encourages them to find their own ways to give back. JetBlue is in 87 different cities; showcasing these stories strengthen internal culture. That’s why JetBlue is the company it is.

Adobe: Is there crossover between internal and external videos?

Weitz: We consider repurposing potential with every video request. A lot of internal videos go external, including the Detroit video. We may edit an internal video to better address an external audience but the more longevity a video has, the better the return for us. All external, customer-facing videos go on YouTube and Vimeo, and are posted separately on our Facebook page. We use Vimeo for internal JetBlue videos, privacy-restricted to our Intranet site.

In June 2014 JetBlue introduced Mint, its refreshing new take on a premium coast-to-coast experience. We wanted a way to get crewmembers excited about Mint’s fully-flat seats, fresh dining options, and revitalizing amenities. We created a video series titled (Mint)roducing to highlight our partners and provide a bit of personal insight into the founders and vision behind each company.

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Filming Mint(roducing)

To date, we’ve created a video for Blue Marble Ice Cream, Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery, and Flying Food Group, with more to come. This is an ongoing series that will continuously live on and grow as we grow. The series certainly has crossover. It gives insight to our customers on what to expect onboard. It also gives crewmembers knowledge on the products and little gems of information that they can use when interacting with each other and our customers.

Adobe: Have you always worked with Adobe Premiere Pro?

Weitz: Earlier in my career I used Final Cut Pro a lot. After graduate school, I worked on a freelance project for Dell. The footage had been shot on RED, and I knew transcoding would take forever. That’s when I tried Premiere Pro for the first time. I’ve never looked back.

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Filming Dell project

We use Premiere Pro for all video editing and Adobe proficiency is part of every discussion I have with freelancers. In fact, we have a template project folder setup—with an organized folder structure, project files, fonts, and style guides—so that our freelancers can spend less time on mechanics and more time on creativity all while keeping our videos consistent.

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Template folder structure (open)

Adobe:Are you using other applications in Creative Cloud?

Weitz: Creative Cloud is great because it covers the entire spectrum of our creative departments. We use After Effects for all lower thirds, title cards, and graphics. We can create project files in After Effects and easily transfer them into Premiere Pro; there’s no need to import or export anything.

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Adobe After Effects template – lower third

Creative Cloud is also a boon to our work with JetBlue’s design and brand team that creates the visual brand of JetBlue, everything from signage and seatback cards to the paint scheme of the airplanes. We’ll send the designers footage when we’re working on a video; they’ll, create an asset in Photoshop, send us the file, and everything is updated automatically.  We finish projects very quickly and we all work well togetherbecause everyone is one the same platform.

Adobe: Are there particular features or individual products in Creative Cloud that you like, or that help with deadlines?

Weitz: It used to be that you installed software from CDs and DVDs, and you had to wait for the next version to fix any bugs. With Creative Cloud we’re always working with the latest versions of a product. We have immediate access to anything that’s new, be it a feature or a fix, which is critical.

We spend a lot of time in Premiere Pro and the layout and user interface are elegant and easy to use. Adobe really understands what filmmakers and storytellers need to best do their jobs. The integration among app in Creative Cloud is terrific. We can be working in Premiere Pro and easily open an audio track or music track in Adobe Audition to clean up the sound, or jump to After Effects to add graphics.

Adobe: How did you create the “Thank you” video?

Weitz: We were ecstatic when we learned the results of the J.D. Power survey. We’re nothing without our customers and crewmembers, and we wanted to make a video to recognize the people who made this honor possible.

 

Whenever I visit a historic building, I think about what it must have been like at its peak. I began picturing an airport terminal that was deserted, but had clearly once been alive and thriving. “Thank you” juxtaposes empty spaces in a terminal against the audio hustle and bustle of a busy airport. When we scouted the airport to figure out our shots we also recorded the sounds that help tell the story: a baggage carousel turning; people talking; a gate announcement; the boarding call; the inflight crew welcoming people. The video came out exactly as we wanted: a heartfelt thank you to customers and crewmembers who bring this airline to life.

See more JetBlue videos on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/user/jetblue

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @WeitzJonathan

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Once in a lifetime experience in Brazil

As a senior engineering manager at Adobe, I’ve been very lucky to visit broadcasters, post houses, and other customers all around the world. I really appreciate learning about how customers use our products and what types of content they produce. Getting to know the people and the cultures during these trips is always my favorite part.

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Brazil for that big international soccer (of course I mean football) event that just concluded. Adobe Premiere Pro CC was selected as the editing platform for the event, so we put together a team to go on site at the IBC (International Broadcast Centre) to learn from the workflow and the editors. Learning about how they build the production and how the people setup for such a huge event was very interesting.

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I could tell from the moment I landed that the people in Brazil were excited about the event, everyone was obviously soccer crazed! The IBC was like nothing I have ever seen. I have been to broadcast networks around the world but this was very different. It was a huge presence that took over an entire convention center with three halls filled with broadcast networks and equipment.

It was all setup just for the event and everyone was working together to make it a success. Many people moved to Brazil for months at a time to bring the event to life, which was something I hadn’t realized. I enjoyed talking with the editors about other worldwide sporting events they’ve been involved with in similar ways.

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To support all of the people working there, the IBC had restaurants, laundry services, drug stores, and even an ice cream shop. There were buses all organized to take you from the IBC to wherever you wanted to go. It was definitely an amazing logistical effort. Of course there were TV screens all over the IBC showing every game that was on, including an 8K TV from NHK Japan.

From a broadcast perspective, it was impressive to see how many games and how many feeds per game were being captured. There was so much video available on a daily basis. The production team not only covered all of the games but also produced player profiles, supplemental content from around Brazil, as well as a range of graphics. The amount of content was enormous. And then they turned around the spots in mere hours with all that content and it looked amazing. All of the people working on the project were so talented and productive.

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Of course, it was also great to see the editors working with Adobe Creative Cloud applications, from Adobe Premiere Pro CC and After Effects CC to Audition CC and even SpeedGrade CC to get the creative looks they wanted. It was essential that we supported growing files, especially AVCi100. This was the quality they wanted and it is a very demanding format. Over the past year, we worked very hard to optimize AVCi100 so it would be a fluid editing experience for the project and it was great to see our hard work pay off.

Many of the editors work with Avid and Final Cut Pro, and they really appreciated the high performance and stability that Premiere Pro offered. They loved learning about the keyboard shortcuts and streamlined editing tools, and commented on how easy it was to focus on being creative without the software getting in the way.

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The editors also seemed to really appreciate the native workflows supported through Premiere Pro CC. No matter what the producer or other content providers gave them, they were able to drop it on the timeline and start working. This was different than past years when they first needed to ingest that media and wait. Integration among the applications was also something they really loved. After Effects was heavily used and the ability to start in Premiere Pro and Dynamic Link to After Effects saved them a lot of time.

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Members of the Premiere Pro team were in Brazil to make sure the use of Premiere Pro CC was successful and that we secured valuable feedback that we can use to make the product better. But it was hard not to get caught up in the excitement of the event. I lived in Germany for about six years so I learned to enjoy watching football and the fans during the 2002 games. In Brazil, we watched almost every game at the IBC, as they were on every screen, but it didn’t compare to when I got the opportunity to attend the Chile vs. Spain game.

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The stadium was amazing and the organization of the whole event was perfect. The fans were all very happy and cheered for the entire 90 minute game. They were overwhelmingly rooting for Chile, which worked out as they won. It was my first time going to a live game and the energy at the football stadium is not comparable. It was much more emotional and louder than I expected after only going to U.S. sporting events. The game was great and really topped off the Rio experience. It made me appreciate why people around the world love the sport.

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The overall feeling in Brazil was great and the people were very friendly. Everywhere you went you could feel football was in the air. Going to the beach in Copacabana, which I didn’t have much time for, was quite an experience. There were so many people from all around the world. The whole beach was set up to celebrate with large screens everywhere. I even had a few caipirinhas at the beach until sunrise with some of the team, which was lots of fun.

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Capturing the essence of Brazil through motion graphics and art

Filmmaker embarks on journey documenting creativity around the world

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.

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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 are 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.

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Adobe: How much time did you spend interviewing?
Elliott: When Rosie came in we did seven days of interviews in Sao Paulo and seven days in Rio. We wanted to go in without any scripted questions 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 didn’t want to go in with a preconceived notion of the creative essence of Brazil.

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 Super Uber, 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 Sao 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.

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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 is so easy to bring the stills into After Effects, 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.

View some of Graham Elliott’s World in Motion footage from Brazil
https://vimeo.com/93174087

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The Black Diamond run for filmmakers

Warren Miller Entertainment keeps on thrilling audiences with breathtaking athletics, brilliant production, and Adobe video apps

Many winter sports enthusiasts recall sitting in high school auditoriums or theaters on the edge of their chairs watching content from Warren Miller, a legendary American ski and snowboarding filmmaker. Miller produced, directed, and narrated his films until 1988. His talented staff continues to create iconic films about skiing and other outdoor winter sports that are renowned for their stunning photography, witty narrative humor, and impressive athletic talent. Two of the people who’ve kept the Warren Miller Entertainment legacy alive are John Barcklay, post-production supervisor, and Kim Schneider, executive editor. Both have spent decades working with Warren Miller and recently adopted an all-Adobe workflow, including Adobe Premiere Pro software.

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Adobe: Tell us how both of you got started with Warren Miller?
Schneider: I was living in my truck in Lake Tahoe, California at a ski area when I met Warren. I knew what I wanted to do from the time I was 12 years old—to ski and make movies about skiing—so there was no hesitation in taking the job as editor with Warren. People tell me I’m one-dimensional, and my answer is “Isn’t that great?” That’s how I got started, and I have been working in editing films with Warren Miller for 35 years. I’m now executive editor—it never gets old.
Barcklay: I have been working with Warren Miller Entertainment for 25 years. I started back in 1989, running film back and forth from Hermosa Beach to Burbank to drop off dailies and bring them back. I would log all the key codes on the film, a very time-consuming and tedious process. I gradually worked up through different positions to become post production supervisor.

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Adobe: How has the workflow changed since the early days?
Schneider: I’m dating myself, but I used to hack frames apart with a razor blade and then tape them back together. If frames were missing, I’d have to hack up film and put back the missing frames. We would cut the film and hang the footage up on hooks that were called trim bins—that’s where the term bin that is used today in digital video originated. Using bins was never foolproof, and sometimes cuts of footage got lost or fell. It was nightmarish trying to stay organized. Then we went to videotapes, which also had their issues. We tracked videotapes of footage using arcane methods like Polaroid pictures with time codes pasted on sheets of foam or cardboard. Then we had to find a shot by going through footage to find the right time code.

Adobe: When things first went digital, what was your strategy?
Barcklay: We started out with Avid, then moved to Final Cut Pro in 2003. But then when Final Cut Pro X came around, it didn’t meet a lot of our needs as professionals. We took a look at Adobe Premiere Pro and were impressed with its professional color correction, compositing, and so on. Also, when we saw that we could throw virtually any format on the timeline whenever people got back from a shoot without having to transcode it, we were instantly sold. We can just import footage and start working. That’s crucial for us for two reasons: we work with huge volumes of footage, sometimes upwards of 200 hours, and we have to cull it down to a 90-minute feature. And, we typically have a lot of cameras running in different locations using different formats when we’re making our annual feature film, so we can’t spare the time to transcode everything.

Adobe: What is your editing process?
Schneider: We start by formulating a plan for the year. In theory I’m just an editor, but I’ve been with Warren Miller for so long I’m always involved in the planning stages. We talk about the direction we want to go, but our plan is somewhat dictated by the weather. Eventually, the footage ends up on a drive in front of me. I work offsite for a good part of the year, and I just start dragging it into Premiere Pro and wailing away on it. In a lot of ways you can put us into the music video category because we rely heavily on the soundtrack to motivate the edits. In the end, it’s all about the action – how someone turns, how deep the snow is, and the overall beauty of a shot.

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Barcklay: Before everything goes to Kim, we send out the shots for a quick color-correction on the dailies. After the edit is complete, we organize the shots and remove any spots on lenses, hair, or dirt using Adobe After Effects or Photoshop. We may also transform some of the footage for YouTube, Vimeo, and tablets for our Active Interest Media publishing arm. We also use After Effects for various graphic based projects and Adobe Encore to create Blu-ray discs for our annual feature film tour and many other projects.

Adobe: Has working with Adobe Premiere Pro made editing fun again?
Schneider: For me, it’s almost like playing a video game. The way we do it now has given me the longevity I needed. The computers just have to get faster and faster to keep up. Filmmakers are now able to bring excitement to editing, a part of the filmmaking process that’s usually not considered that glamorous. I remember the days when we laid pieces of film on top of each other and crammed them into a projector or sent them off to an optical house. We wouldn’t see the results for a week, and they were often not even close to what we were imagining. Today, we can composite several shots and see the results in 10 minutes—it’s amazing. The speed and professional features, combined with the ability to instantly work with any format on the timeline—all these facets have completely transformed our workflow for the better.

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Adobe: Do you have any favorite features in Premiere Pro?
Schneider: I’ve never sat in an editing room with a monitor two feet away from my face. Instead, I work on a three foot by four foot screen that’s eight feet away. In my ultimate world I would edit in a movie theater. The one keystroke I use all day long is when you hold your mouse over the media browser and hit the tilde key and the frame goes full screen. I also like using the Bend Mode in Premiere Pro for compositing. My presets are all there and I can just cycle through them all the time and try new things. I’m convinced that many of the things that happen in digital that are truly amazing come from people’s mistakes.

Adobe: Do you think you will continue along this path for a while?
Schneider: This is a phenomenal line of work and I like what I do. I work with extremely passionate people throughout the industry but the people at Warren Miller are the best. The cameramen are on the side of a mountain shooting when they could be in a studio making $5,000 to $10,000 a day. It’s amazing to be able to marry our passions into a career. The work on the films we’re doing really conveys the passion people feel for skiing. We have a 75% return rate of audiences every year, and viewers range from 8 to 88 years old. It is something we’re privileged to be part of.

Watch the Ticket to Ride trailer

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Creating a visual experience for Fatboy Slim at Coachella

Production company creates immersive experience for well-known DJ artist at art and music festival using Adobe Creative Cloud

Plastic Reality is a production company known for branding and other video work for big corporate clients such as BP and Unilever. But unlike most corporate video companies, Plastic Reality has a wild side, called The Happiness Labs, focused on producing experiential content and graphics for live events and installations.

In creating new realities and immersive experiences, The Happiness Labs raised the bar for British DJ, musician, rapper, and record producer Fatboy Slim at the 2014 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Tim Fleming, executive producer of The Happiness Labs, shares how Fatboy Slim’s otherworldly stage experience came together.

Adobe: What makes you excited about working with bands?

Fleming: I worked at an advertising company at the beginning of my career, but then I had the chance to work with big-name artists and tour with various art collectives. I was excited to be working with people who were very receptive to new creative ideas. Layering visuals and lighting was becoming a big part of these shows and I started to think about how video content could further enhance the experience.

Today bands think about shows as a whole experience with intricate props and designs from the moment they kick them off, but it wasn’t always that way. Seeing how these shows were being constructed as an experience, especially in the electronic music space, and being a bit of a party boy I thought it looked like a lot of fun.

Adobe: How did you get connected with Fatboy Slim?

Fleming: I’ve had a longstanding relationship with Fatboy Slim, aka Norman Cook. He is a superstar DJ and lovely bloke all at the same time. When I started with him around 2000 or 2001, he was already famous for his videos. His record label had seen the work we’d done with some artists, and asked us to submit a treatment for his upcoming video, “Star 69.”

A while later, Norman was approached to do a show on Brighton Beach. It was one of the first large outdoor shows with a DJ and his team knew they would need some content for the show. They liked what we’d done for “Star 69,” so they asked us to work on the show. The first Brighton Beach Boutique show had 60,000 attendees, and the second one had 250,000. From then on I was on the bus and the next stop was a show in Brazil for about 350,000 people.

 

Adobe: How would you describe the Coachella show?

Fleming: Coachella in 2014 has a big focus on electronic acts and electronic dance music. The performance at Coachella was an evolution of everything we’ve been doing over the last several years to turn watching a DJ into a magical experience that transports audiences into another realm with incredible lighting, imagery, effects, video, and graphics. The heart of his show is focused on his hit track “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat.”

Adobe: Tell us more about “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat.”

Fleming: Well there’s an interesting story around where the actual lyric for “Eat, Sleep, Rave Repeat” came from. In between shows I was editing some shots for Norman and he sent me a mail at around midnight when I was still working, asking how it was going. I sent him a one line reply saying, “Eat, Sleep, Edit, Rave, Repeat.”

Next thing I knew he sent me a demo titled “Your Tune.” Then he got RivaStarr and Beardyman involved and the whole thing grew into a monster to the point where, a few months after this email conversation, we’re getting photos sent in from people who have tattoos saying “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat.”

Adobe: How did this idea translate to Coachella?

Fleming: Coachella originally approached us asking if we would like to do a show based around the four seasons. The set at Coachella is 60 minutes long, so the festival organizers were looking to split it into four parts and use a bunch of physical effects, such as fire, snow, and rain, to accentuate the different seasons. We had a think about this and obviously loved the idea of the different physical effects but thought the four seasons might be a bit like doing opera.

We got Team Fatboy together over a good lunch as we usually do and started throwing some ideas around. We realized we could re-work “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat” into “Heat, Sleet, Rain, Repeat”—job done! We got to keep the physical effects but incorporate them into Norm’s global smash hit.

Adobe: What special elements are included in the Coachella show?

Fleming: As well as building a boom box that has ice, fire, and rain built into it we used a 3D model of Norman’s head that was shot at Pinewood Studios. We inserted it in with other graphics and 3D elements around the head. It appears every couple of bars in the song. All of the mapping was done and put together in After Effects CC, along with the textures and finishing.
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We also put Norman in the middle of the screen in a 9×9 matrix and created accompanying video content and original graphics, including a fun fruit machine. All of the video content was edited in Adobe Premiere Pro CC. It was great to be able to throw multiple codecs and file types right onto the timeline in Premiere Pro CC and have it work seamlessly.

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Adobe: How do you pull off these surreal experiences?

Fleming: We combined a well-researched history of being the last one on the dance floor with other techniques, some involving big rig or prop installations and others requiring software. We’ve always been big After Effects users. CINEMA 4D and After Effects are at the heart of everything we do and their widespread adoption throughout the creative industry is a reflection of the quality results that can be achieved. Adobe Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC are also key to our workflow and we appreciate having all of the tools available to us in Adobe Creative Cloud.

Adobe: What do you think of the closer integration between Adobe After Effects CC and CINEMA 4D?

Fleming: The forthcoming era of deeper integration between CINEMA 4D and After Effects CC is very exciting and we are really looking forward to seeing how it enhances our workflow. We really just find them a joy to play with and encourage all younger artists who are working with us to learn this combination. We’re also excited about the option of rendering in the cloud so we don’t tie up local resources.

Adobe: The shows you put together have an entirely new look. What is it you’re trying to accomplish?

Fleming: EDM shows tend to look very polished, high-def, and fast moving. We wanted to do something a little different to set us apart. That’s why we shot some original content for Coachella in black and white and slow motion and edited it in Adobe Premiere Pro CC. In one shot, we have people jumping around that we filmed with a slow motion camera. So the look is a bit different than your classic EDM footage. We also slapped Norman in the face with a fish and filmed that in slow-mo!

Adobe: What are the benefits of moving to Adobe Creative Cloud?

Fleming: We work with small teams plus many freelancers. Our Adobe Creative Cloud for teams membership helps us move seats around so artists working in different locations are all on the same version and have the software they need when they need it. We’re also looking at trying new tools like Adobe Prelude CC for ingest, at no extra charge. That’s a big bonus.

Adobe:
 What’s in the future for you?

Fleming: Fatboy Slim has the World Cup coming up in June in Brazil, followed by the 2014 Glastonbury Festival. Norman is trying to go for the world record for the most consecutive Glastonbury Festival’s played, so he can’t miss it! There are other festivals planned during the summer months as well, so we’ll be busy.

Our work has become so diversified that we’re going to continue to use Plastic Reality for our corporate work. But now we’re developing The Happiness Labs for the fun, experiential work we’re doing for bands and brands. We’re looking to develop content for immersive, virtual reality technologies such as Oculus Rift, Leap Motion, and Thalmic Labs MYO. There’s a big shift in the way content and storytelling is being developed, and we intend to be at the convergence of the amazing new wave of tech and tools and the never-ending desire for a good story that we humans have.

Tim would like to thank long-time collaborators Chris Cousins, Joe Plant, and Bob Jaroc, as well as Mike Sansom at Bright Fire Pyro for working on this year’s content.

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Expert filmmaker builds online community

Pioneering filmmaker Ryan Connolly shares his passion for Adobe 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 typical path of many 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. Today, 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.

Ryan Connolly_HeadShot

Adobe: What makes you a rule breaker in the industry?

Connolly: My success with Film Riot lets me be my own boss and do less and less client work. Not that client work is bad, but at Triune Films we just wanted to be a group of friends having fun, doing what we wanted 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 are 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 so on. We also do video challenges and give out prizes to winners. The big thing for me 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 to each other in our creative efforts, versus critical. We’ve also built a loyal following on social networks: Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.

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Adobe: Are there other aspects to the business?

Connolly: Yes, we have 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 the integration among all the Adobe software solutions 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 was required, I could just Dynamic Link the change from After Effects and have it flow to Premiere Pro automatically. The integration among all the Adobe software programs seems to get better and better, too.

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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 Adobe Story CC for collaborative scriptwriting. Adobe Story CC, which I first tried because it was available to me through Creative Cloud, is the best collaborative scriptwriting software on the market, in my opinion. My designers also use Adobe 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 a 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.

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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. 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 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.

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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 most exciting things for me 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.

Ryan Connolly will be participating in Adobe’s Post Production World Keynote Breaking the Rules: The Next-Gen Content Creator on Sunday, April 6th from 10:30 am – 11:30 am.

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Second film by Joel Potrykus premieres at SXSW 2014

Feature film Buzzard edited with Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Premiering at SXSW 2014, Joel Potrykus’ film Buzzard purposely doesn’t fit a particular genre. A follow on 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

Photo by Adam J. Minnick

Adobe: How did you get involved with Buzzard?

Bowman: I live in Seattle, Washington and I split my time between the restaurant industry and working as a freelance still photographer and videographer. I was visiting Austin, Texas on a vacation and have a family connection with Adam Minnick, who is childhood friends with Joel. For his follow up to Ape, which he shot himself, Joel wanted to hire Adam as his cinematographer. I told Adam that I would love to help in any way I can and ended up going to the shoot as a volunteer. In the end, I played a much larger role than I expected.

Adobe: What did you do on the film?

Bowman: Joel runs things pretty informally and as bare bones as possible. There were maybe 12 people in production and we all wore a lot of hats. I was the main point on all of the tech stuff. My official credit is assistant camera and assistant editor. I worked closely with Adam on lens, camera, and software selection. I was the one who introduced Premiere Pro CC to the team.

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Photo by Jon Clay

Adobe: Why did you recommend Premiere Pro CC?

Bowman: I was previously a Final Cut Pro user and Joel edited Ape on Final Cut Pro. In pre-production we were talking about our hardware and software needs. I’d joined Creative Cloud and had been doing some tests with Premiere Pro CC. I recommended it because the film was going to be shot with a Canon 5D Mark III and I knew that we would be able to throw the H.264 files on the timeline without transcoding. Joel tested it out and agreed that we should use it for the edit.

Adobe: Was it easy to learn the software?

Bowman: I learned Premiere Pro for the production, mostly using training content on Adobe TV and Lynda.com. Coming from Final Cut Pro 7 it was fairly easy. Joel also found the transition to be simple. He’s very tech savvy and knowledgeable but he doesn’t like to be bogged down with details. For him, his script and actors are paramount.

Adobe: What was the production schedule?

Bowman: The film shot for five or six weeks in Grand Rapids and Detroit, Michigan. I came on several months before production and they were already deep into rehearsals and casting. Joel and Joshua Burge, the film’s lead actor, had a good working relationship and understanding of the character. Adam chose to shoot with the Canon 5D Mark III DSLR because it offered lower cost, as well as speed and storage simplicity. I started ingesting media, organizing drives, and syncing the sound for all of the clips during production, and then assembled a rough timeline for Joel before we started editing.

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Photo by Jon Clay

Adobe: Tell us about the editing of the film.

Bowman: After shooting I returned to Seattle, Adam went back to Austin, and Joel stayed in Grand Rapids. We kept all of the post production in Premiere Pro and just passed the project files back and forth and update everything as we went along. We had full hard drives of all of the content in each location. Joel would go on extended, overnight editing binges and I would wake up in the morning and there would be a rough cut of half the movie. In a week he had the entire film fleshed out. It was pretty easy to work remotely and the crew would review all of the cuts on Vimeo every couple of weeks. In addition to assisting with the editing, I worked with Joel on the color correction and also handled the noise reduction and production of the final renders and exports for the DCP.

Adobe: Were there any particular challenges with the edit?

Bowman: The biggest post production trick was working with the DSLR files. Joel likes to shoot in a very natural way, so during production most of our challenges were to be nonexistent with no deliberate camera moves, odd angles, or unnatural lighting. We focused on getting everything right in camera so in the end we only had to tease the footage a bit in Premiere Pro. The film was minimally processed to keep it as natural looking as possible.

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Photo by Adam J. Minnick

Adobe: What was your favorite feature in Premiere Pro CC?

Bowman: The feature that was the biggest deal to us was the native workflow. The ability to throw H.264 files on the Premiere Pro timeline and play them back in real time was definitely the biggest selling point for us. It was great to be able to start working right away without transcoding; that transcode step would have really bogged us down.

Adobe: Did you use any other Creative Cloud software?

Bowman: I’ve been a Creative Cloud member for six months and bouncing among the various software programs is really easy. We used Photoshop quite a bit for the title sequences and the ability to round trip between Photoshop and Premiere Pro was great. We also appreciated knowing we had the full library of Creative Cloud applications to fall back on, including SpeedGrade and After Effects, in case we needed them. On any future films I can see staying with the same software and even branching out a bit with SpeedGrade and After Effects.

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Photo by Ashley Young

Adobe: What’s next for Buzzard after SXSW?

Bowman: The acceptance to SXSW already exceeded our expectations. Joel won Best New Director at the 2012 Locarno Film Festival for Ape, and Buzzard will be showing there for its international premiere. It’s also been accepted to the New Directors/New Films show in New York. Oscilloscope Laboratories acquired the North American rights to the film, so there will be more festival showings, followed by a theatrical release later in 2014.

For more – Watch an interview with Buzzard director Joel Potrykus

Watch the trailer

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“The Immortalists” selected for Documentary Feature Competition at SXSW 2014

Independent filmmakers create character-driven documentary about the pursuit of eternal youth

Co-directors and equal partners, 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 MFA degrees, they came together 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.

Poster

Adobe: Did you always know you wanted to be filmmakers?

Sussberg: I started making films when I was very young. In middle school I would create silly home videos with a group of friends. A lot of us are actually filmmakers today, including Patrick Brice whose film Creep is premiering the same day and in the same theater at SXSW as The Immortalists.
Alvarado: My path wasn’t as straightforward. A lack of direction led me to drop out of high school, but eventually I found that I was influenced by the fiction films that I saw. I enrolled in community college and then attended a four-year university before I was accepted to the Stanford program. Film saved the day for me and gave me a passion to pursue.

Adobe: When did you become interested in science?

Alvarado: I wanted to focus on documentary filmmaking and science touches on everything that’s interesting to me, from love to psychology to the environment. If you can make strong narratives around science then other people can more easily connect with your topic. It’s not just about making Nova science films; it’s about making character-driven, beautiful portraits about the people and subjects of science.

Adobe: How did you choose the topic of your film?

Sussberg: We started out trying to make a larger film about life-extension science, what it would mean to be immortal, and the philosophy of living a very, very long time. The two main characters of the film, Aubrey De Grey, PhD and Bill Andrews, PhD, didn’t come into our lives until just before we started producing the movie in December of 2011. Aubrey is a biomedical gerontologist and Bill is a molecular biologist and they are the top guys in the world trying to stop the aging process.
Alvarado: It’s such a complicated idea and I think that’s what drew us to it. Death is a topic that we all have to discuss eventually. With all of the baby boomers starting to retire, longevity is already at the precipice of being a huge crisis. It’s interesting to explore what these scientists are doing and what the consequences or benefits could be if they are successful.
Sussberg: Bill and Aubrey make the case, pretty convincingly, that other things have come along that seem impossible—such as traveling to the moon or flying an airplane—until they aren’t. They believe that the inevitability of death is just another engineering challenge to be conquered.

Photo by Myleen Hollero
Adobe: Tell us about your filmmaking process.

Alvarado: The film is based on the premise that biotechnology is growing stronger and stronger and eventually, if our medical technology advances enough, it may be possible to stop or reverse the aging process. The film was going to explore the topic to see if immortality is realistic or desirable. We realized that we could touch all of the topics we wanted but make it a more interesting narrative by following two particular scientists and exploring their motivations, what they think will happen, and why they don’t think it will be a disaster. Finding that story took us everywhere, from Tanzania, India, and England to China and all over the United States. It was a long journey and by the time we brought it to the editing table it was about making the journey translate into something people could be actively engaged with for 80 minutes.
Sussberg: Once we settled on making a portrait of the two scientists we hit the ground running. We shot from December 2011 to December 2012. When we finished, we had a rough cut that was an ugly duckling, but we knew something was there. We continued to shoot and tease out the story until the spring of 2013, then went into finishing and post production, which took us through the summer. This type of project doesn’t have a defined end, but it seemed like we were relatively locked by the fall of 2013 so we started applying to festivals.

Adobe: When did you finish the film?

Alvarado: We were actually finishing filming as recently as February 2014. Someone dies and we felt it was something that we needed to include in the film. These scientists are trying to live forever, but they are also having to deal with the death of people close to them. When we film them coping with death the audience gets to make up their own minds about the main characters’ relationship with death and why they are doing what they do.

Adobe: When did Premiere Pro CC officially become the main editing platform for The Immortalists?

Alvarado: Two-thirds of the way through The Immortalists we decided to do a couple of short films to test the Premiere Pro workflow and it was great. We could easily drop After Effects files onto the timeline and it supported a variety of video formats. That’s when we decided to float everything over to Premiere Pro for all of the final touches and exports.
Sussberg: Because we started the project in Final Cut Pro it would have been reckless to just switch over in the middle. We did cut the trailers and promo materials in Premiere Pro and did all of the finishing editing.
Alvarado: Basically, the last six months of a year-and-a-half long edit was done in Premiere Pro.

Adobe: Had you ever used Premiere Pro for editing before this project?

Sussberg: Premiere Pro has come into my life three times. It is the first editing software I ever touched in high school. I used Final Cut Pro in college but switched back to Premiere Pro when I worked as a broadcast producer/editor at the San Francisco Giants. In graduate school we used Final Cut Pro, but I was happy to switch back to Premiere Pro again recently. The integration with Adobe After Effects and Photoshop is so great. I love being able to design something in After Effects and bring it into Premiere Pro without rendering.
Alvarado: I’ve worked with Premiere Pro, Avid, and Final Cut Pro for editing. When everyone started switching from Final Cut Pro, I decided to switch back to Premiere Pro because it offers me robust editing capabilities, as well as integration with Photoshop and After Effects.

Adobe: Are there any features in Premiere Pro that would have benefited you during editing?

Alvarado: We shot on a variety of formats—Canon C100, 5D Mark II, and 7D Mark II, as well as a Panasonic AF100 and a 3D camera. We had to spend a lot of time and hard drive space converting everything to one particular file format. If we’d been using Premiere Pro we could have easily brought in all of the different formats and they would have worked on the timeline. That’s what we’ve been finding with our other short projects. Premiere Pro saves hard drive space and easily works with multiple formats.

Adobe: Have you made any other discoveries since you began using Creative Cloud?

Sussberg: Dynamic Link between Premiere Pro and After Effects is something that’s taken for granted. With Final Cut Pro we were constantly exporting and importing sequences in After Effects. The ability to move between the two programs and import things without transcoding makes the workflow so incredibly easy. Overall, I think it’s best when the technology dissolves into the background and you’re just dealing with the story. Premiere Pro is an editing program that is intuitive and doesn’t make its presence known, which is what I want.
Alvarado: One huge and wonderful thing we’ve found is Adobe Media Encoder. Every type of output we could want is there and we can build a queue with multiple export formats.

Adobe: Do you think the Creative Cloud model is beneficial for creatives?

Alvarado: Adobe Creative Cloud is the first software I’ve wanted to purchase in the last several years. People are willing to pay for a good product, and in an age of piracy we’re happy to pay for Creative Cloud.
Sussberg: Software is egregiously priced and it’s prohibitively expensive, especially for students. I teach at Diablo Valley College and it’s just heartbreaking to tell students that they need to spend thousands of dollars just to get what they need to be students. Adobe Creative Cloud is at a price point that students can afford. For a 10 to 12 week class at $20 a month, it is less than a textbook. As an independent documentary filmmaker I feel perfectly fine spending money for a monthly membership to Creative Cloud. The price point is low enough that it no longer leaves a bad taste in our mouths as independent producers.

Adobe: What are the next steps for the film?

Alvarado: We want to go to Sheffield Doc/Fest, and a few other A-list festivals have reached out to us for submissions. We’re also working with The Film Collaborative in Los Angeles, which helps place films in festivals. Ultimately we hope to make a big domestic sale and we already have interest from three large domestic broadcasters.
Sussberg: Even if we do sell The Immortalists, we’re committed to independent film. Our next project will be independent and we’ll still use the same tools because they help us do what we do efficiently and affordably.

For more – watch an interview with Alvarado and Sussberg at SXSW 2014


Watch the trailer


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Swiss Radio and Television produces stunning Sochi opener

Broadcaster uses Adobe Creative Cloud workflow to create opener promoting the winter games

The Winter Games are a chance for us to witness magic moments of incredibly artistry and athleticism of the amazing athletes competing there. But in order for us to do so, broadcasters around the world spent months preparing for that short period of intense coverage. For Swiss Radio and Television (SRF), a publicly funded broadcaster serving the German speaking part of Switzerland, the preparations included creating a stunning opener that builds excitement for audiences tuning in to the games. Patrick Arnecke, head of design and promotion, leads the creative team responsible for design and production of the on air campaign.

Adobe: Tell us about the Swiss Radio and Television.

Arnecke: The SRF is a publicly funded broadcaster that serves the German speaking part of Switzerland. We maintain two full blown 24/7 TV channels, a TV repeat channel for news programs, seven radio channels, and an extensive online portal.

Adobe: What teams do you work with at the SRF and what do they produce?

Arnecke: I’m the head of the design and promotion team. The design team consists of 25 designers who do all corporate design, motion graphics and interaction design for SRF. Creatively they are responsible for channel brandings, campaigns, image clips and labels as well as show packagings. We also do all of the 2D and 3D animation used for our TV magazines and news shows. The promotion team has 11 editors and promo producers who work on traditional on-air trailers as well as cross media campaigns.

Adobe: Tell us about the work you’ve done for the Winter Games?

Arnecke: Last year during the summer we started to rethink our overall sports design. We have various sports programs on air and wanted to repackage the whole set of shows for SRF zwei, our main entertainment and sports channel. We regularly cover huge events like the Winter Games for the Swiss audience, and we needed to come up with a solution for those events as well, and tie that into the overall design.

We decided to center our redesign around the core idea of the “magic moment” – these rare moments when extraordinary athletic performance seems almost supernatural. We then spent five days shooting all the necessary plates using RED Epic and Phantom Flex cameras, special camera rigs with a high speed camera carousel, and a huge 15m x 9m x 7.5m green screen area. Among others we staged ice hockey, alpine skiing, figure skating, snowboarding, ski jumping, and cross country skiing. Everything was conceptualized, directed, and pre- and post-produced by four in-house designers. From that footage we produced a 28-second opener for our Sochi coverage along with the show packaging, and the promo teasers that we used to ramp up the campaign in January.

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Adobe: What products are you using to produce your content?

Arnecke: Right now we have a mix of Adobe Creative Cloud and Creative Suite 6 software. On the design team we use Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Our main tool for 2D animation is After Effects, and we rely on CINEMA 4D as our main 3D package. The closer relationship between Adobe and MAXON and the strong connection between CINEMA 4D and After Effects comes in very handy for our pipeline.

At the beginning of 2013 we started using Edge Animate to create small, interactive HTML5 elements to give our online news articles more depth and interactivity. For our video content, we started to work with SpeedGrade to give content from different sources a uniform look. During the last months we switched to Premiere Pro as our main editing tool, which replaces Final Cut Pro.

Adobe: What was the workflow for creating the Sochi opener?

Arnecke: In pre-production the responsible designers Martin Bernhard (director) and Simon Renfer (co-director) used Photoshop, with Wacom tablets and screens, to create the storyboards. On set and after the shoot was completed, we used SpeedGrade to convert the Phantom material and then edited the content in Premiere Pro. Lead 3D Artists Jürg Dummermuth and Simone Nucci did all of the 3D CGI with CINEMA 4D. In addition to using After Effects for previsualization and animatics, it was also used for 2D animation, keying, rotoscoping, retouching, compositing, and grading. We’ve done a lot of smaller projects such as show openers and image trailers using Premiere Pro, but the Sochi opener is one of the biggest projects we’ve done to date with the new workflow.

Adobe: Why did you make the switch to Premiere Pro?

Arnecke: After Apple didn´t continue Final Cut Pro, we were looking for alternatives. The pipeline efficiencies that let us easily switch between Premiere Pro and After Effects are important to us. Premiere Pro is especially useful if we shoot on RED cameras because thanks to the Mercury Playback Engine we don’t have to convert and we can edit right away. We usually like to edit on set to see if what we’ve shot is exactly what we need.

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Adobe: Tell us how you’re using Adobe Edge Animate CC?

Arnecke: We have a small team of designers who work on infographics for our daily news shows. We use graphical content created for on air programming, add interactivity and repackage that content for our news articles online. For example, for the election of Pope Franziskus or the 50th anniversary of the President Kennedy assassination we created interactive explanatory pieces with Edge Animate. These interactives give more depth to our news articles online and typically take us one to three days to produce—last year we did more than 150 of these.

See examples of the infographics here

Adobe: What is next for your team?

Arnecke: We’re planning a seven day shoot that will take place in March for our summer sports. With the success of the winter sports workflow, we’ll be using a similar setup.

 

Read more about the use of MAXON CINEMA 4D

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“Red Obsession” weaves intoxicating story

Freelance video pro relies on Adobe Creative Cloud to edit documentary about Bordeaux wine

Paul Murphy studied writing in school, but his first job was with a publishing house overseeing the production of promotional videos for new books. He was instantly intrigued so he bought a copy of Adobe Premiere Pro and started creating the videos himself. Eventually he left publishing to focus full time on editing and motion graphics design. Murphy recently completed work on Red Obsession, a documentary about the Bordeaux wine industry and the impact of China’s overwhelming demand. The film recently earned the Australian Academy award (AACTA) for best feature documentary.

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Adobe: Can you tell us a little more about Red Obsession?
Murphy: Warwick Ross, the film’s co-director and co-writer, was approached by an Australian Master of Wine who told him that something interesting was happening related to the supply and demand of wine in Bordeaux. Warwick took a crew to Bordeaux and captured 50 hours of footage that revealed more than just a basic “behind the scenes of the wine industry” story. The wealthy Chinese had decided that they didn’t want to drink traditional Chinese alcohol anymore; they wanted to drink the best Bordeaux wine and were willing to pay for it. Ultimately, Warwick decided to use the wine industry as a microcosm to show what was going on in the global economy. Bordeaux used to sell most of its wine to the U.S. and U.K., but when the economic crisis cut consumption, the Chinese came in and started buying.

Adobe: How did you become involved in the project?
Murphy: Previously, I had worked with Warwick on a short documentary about World War II, and we developed a great relationship. Warwick asked me to work on this new film, and I was eager. We agreed that we didn’t want it to feel like a wine documentary with boring “chocolate box” shots of vineyards and Vivaldi playing in the background. We wanted it to be visually stunning, edgy, and interesting. Ultimately, the film became a story about two very different cultures—French and Chinese—coming together over wine.

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Adobe: What did you do with the first 50 hours of footage?
Murphy: I started going through the footage with the directors and figuring out what was going to work and what wasn’t. Our first task was to create a six-minute trailer with the themes of the story set to music to attract private investors. While we were working on the trailer, the story was still playing out in Bordeaux. The French had pushed up the prices but then the Chinese became fickle about what they wanted to drink and stopped buying. The prices of Bordeaux wines crashed 45% overnight. The crew made three or four more trips to France as well as to China, Shanghai, and Hong Kong and we wound up with 100 hours of footage shot over about a year. At that point, I relied on my roots in writing and storytelling to find the arc of the story and cull everything down.

Adobe: Why did you select Adobe Premiere Pro to edit the project?
Murphy: I have used Premiere Pro since the beginning of my freelance editing and motion graphics career. I’ve dabbled in Avid and Final Cut Pro, but I love the Premiere Pro interface. I know it inside and out, and it allows me to work quickly and confidently. For this project, there was some debate about what software we should use because some people thought Premiere Pro couldn’t be used on a feature-length film. I showed them how I could go into the timeline and locate a frame in the source file. I also demonstrated using Premiere Pro for speech analysis. We had 70 40-minute interviews and we used speech analysis on half of them, which made editing much faster. Red Obsession also has some complex motion graphics, so the integration between After Effects and Premiere Pro really helped to pull it together. It was definitely the right choice for the film.

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Adobe: Tell us more about the motion graphics in the film.
Murphy: We were editing for about 10 months before we moved on to our motion graphics work in After Effects. In the film, we make visual references to news articles, and fly in and out of scenes. In one instance, we fly out of a scene and at the end the viewer is looking at a 3D image of a label on a wine bottle. The opening title sequence was also created in After Effects, with names of the people working on the film floating in space within a huge, expensive winery. It involved a lot of beautiful track shots, and I was grateful for the 3D Camera Tracker in After Effects.

Adobe: What other Adobe technologies were involved?
Murphy: I used a lot of InDesign for the end title layout, which I imported into After Effects for animation. I also used Illustrator for titling, as well as Photoshop for graphics. I always use Encore to create DVDs or Blu-ray disks for sharing and review.

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Adobe: What’s happening with the film now?
Murphy: It debuted at the Berlin Film Festival and has also been shown at the Tribeca Film Festival, the Sydney Film Festival, and others. It’s done very well, and is available in theaters in Australia and on video-on-demand and iTunes in the United States.

Adobe: Did you edit this project using Adobe Creative Cloud?
Murphy: This project occurred before Creative Cloud was available, but I will be moving to Creative Cloud soon and I’m looking forward to it. I am anxious to try Prelude CC to manage my footage, metadata, and comments in one place. I had my own database for this, but would welcome the Prelude option. I’m also very excited to try After Effects CC. The fact that you can now bring Cinema 4D files directly into After Effects without rendering is amazing. I’d also like to try SpeedGrade CC for color grading. A good portion of Red Obsession was shot on ARRI Alexa cameras and after editing the footage, I showed rough cuts to the directors in a kind of milky, un-color-corrected state. I would have loved to use SpeedGrade CC to show them something that would look more like the final color. Overall, I’m excited to move to Creative Cloud because I like the idea of getting continuous updates, rather than waiting a year or longer for a new release.

Learn more about the video apps and services in Adobe Creative Cloud

Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Watch the trailer

Watch Paul’s tutorial explaining how he created the titles for Red Obsession using InDesign Pro

Red Obsession is now available on DVD and VOD in US and Australia.

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