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Freelance filmmaker relies on a variety of cameras and Adobe Creative Cloud to create documentary and fiction projects
Filmmaking is less of a career and more of a way of life for Philip Bloom. He began his 24-year career focusing on news and documentary work, building his skills in all aspects of video production. Today, he’s a prolific freelance filmmaker and outspoken proponent of low-budget video. Everyone from hobbyists to experienced professionals look to him for information on what cameras, software, and gear they should be using. In addition to being a vocal Canon supporter, Bloom also advocates the use of Adobe Premiere Pro CC for video editing and regularly shares his knowledge and experiences with more than one million monthly website visitors.
Adobe: How did you first get started in editing?
Bloom: I’ve been working in editing for nearly 25 years. I first went to work at a news bureau and they gave me three days to learn how to edit. I picked it up so quickly, by my first day on the job editing I was cutting the lead package. It was an easy, natural thing for me. Eventually I moved to the documentary unit and spent 15 years traveling the world shooting and editing stories.
Adobe: Why did you stop working in broadcast?
Bloom: The station I was working for decided to shut down the documentary unit and go back to 24-hour breaking news. I’d been in charge of the unit for three years and didn’t want to go back to editing news. It was a comfortable, well-paying job, but documentary work was my life and my passion, and I’d always told myself that the moment I felt like I needed to move on, I would move on.
Adobe: Were you excited to start working as a freelancer
Bloom: It’s very difficult to jump out on your own and this was the push I needed. Luckily when I left a former colleague offered me a documentary series with a different network so I got to jump right in doing something I love. I’ve always tried to do different projects and stretch my skills.
Adobe: How did you build your online presence?
Bloom: My website and social media presence are a by-product of a show I did online. I started working with some new technology that was supposed to make content look more cinematic and filmic, and I decided to share my journey on a blog. I experimented with different cameras to see if I could get the same look as I could with more expensive cameras. It became really popular and people started following me.
Adobe: What made you want to continue sharing your experiences?
Bloom: When I worked in news editing, I had a mentor who taught me a lot. Those types of staff jobs don’t exist as much in the television industry anymore, so people have to find their own way. I like to share what I’m doing so others can learn from it. I’m actually very similar to a lot of freelancers out there. I’m very much in touch with all levels of production from very junior to high-end. I have experience working among all of them, so it’s great to be able to share how things work for me and how they can work for others.
Adobe: What are some of the challenges with having such a strong online presence?
Bloom: My time is limited, and having thousands of emails is a responsibility. I’ve also been surprised at how negative people can be online, especially when you’re just trying to help. The Internet is a great way for people to share ideas and form communities, but people can sometimes behave in ways they wouldn’t if they were sitting next to you. It’s important to remember that there is a human being at the other end.
Adobe: What advice do you have for young filmmakers?
Bloom: That’s a tough question. We live in the age of Twitter and people want advice on how to be successful in 140 characters or less. There’s no magic formula. I just tell them to work hard and be patient. I’ve worked hard to get where I am today and I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t work. Many young filmmakers are impatient and want success to come knocking at their door, but they have to go out and find it. It’s a hard search. Many will think about quitting, and some will fail. It takes time and effort to build a reputation, clients, and a body of work.
If you want to become a freelance editor it’s important to learn an editing system so well that it’s second nature to you. It should become so intuitive that you’re not thinking about the software, you’re only concentrating on the story. Stop obsessing about the software and the camera. Buy something and go tell your story.
I built a reputation in news and when I went freelance after 17 years I had to build my reputation again. I think it is easier to get your work seen these days with the internet. If you’re good enough you’ll get seen. It comes down to a lot of different things to get noticed or to create a viral video, but there’s no guarantee that a viral video will lead to a successful career. You may have a fluke and good timing, but then you have to follow it up with something new. That’s the constant conversation I have with most people on the internet.
Adobe: Is this where you thought you’d end up when you started freelancing?
Bloom: I didn’t have a grand plan when I started freelancing seven years ago. I knew I wanted to work in film, but I didn’t foresee the social media part of the equation. Social media needs to be organic and natural and genuine. You have to be you, the good and the bad. I have a dry sense of humor, which doesn’t always translate, so I’ve had to learn from that. But I’m convinced that if you try to plan it all out you won’t be successful.
Adobe: After working with Adobe Premiere Pro for a couple of years, what are your favorite features?
Bloom: I can cut half hour programs in a day and put them to air. If something needs to be cut quickly, I can do it. I switched to Premiere Pro three years ago and I’ve never looked back. The great thing about Premiere Pro is the immediacy, because it takes everything native. I was just finishing up a documentary for a client and they shot loads of footage and asked me to transcode it all. I felt like I was going back 10 years. As a freelancer, time is money and Premiere Pro CC lets me work fast and efficiently.
I also appreciate the portability of the software. I always have projects going, from features and corporate projects to reviews or my latest show reel. I edit wherever I can, on my Mac Pro or on a laptop on a plane.
Adobe: What other Adobe Creative Cloud applications are you using?
Bloom: I know Premiere Pro really well, and I know enough After Effects and Audition to get by. I’ve learned what I need to know and I’ll learn more when I need to know more.
Philip Bloom will be presenting in the Adobe stand at IBC 2014 on Friday, Sept. 12th at 11:30am & 2:30pm, and Saturday, Sept. 13th at 11:30am.
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First new UK television station in 13 years produces local daily programming using Adobe Creative Cloud for teams
Citing a lack of genuinely localized programming, the independent regulator of communications in the United Kingdom, Ofcom, asked media businesses what they would do with a Local Digital Television Programme Service (L-DTPS) license. The London Evening Standard and The Independent newspapers proposed London Live, a 24/7 television station dedicated solely to producing programs for London audiences. Bryn Balcombe, technology director for London Live, is the primary architect of the new station’s broadcast and production infrastructure. He chose Adobe Creative Cloud for teams for its ability to support production and distribution of standard definition television over the air and high definition television on any device.
Adobe: How was London Live chosen over other L-DTPS applicants?
Balcombe: The tender process was not a financial bid. Ofcom wanted to know how we would use the license to support local programming. We proposed producing five-and-a-half hours of news and current affairs every day, plus one to three hours of locally-produced entertainment content per day. The rest of the broadcast schedule includes historical content, retro television series about London such as London’s Burning, and acquired or commissioned shows shot or produced in London, including Place Invaders, Drag Queens of London, and Food Junkies. Ofcom believed our proposal would deliver the most value to the local community, especially because of our commitment to news and local affairs.
Adobe: How long did it take to launch London Live?
Balcombe: We had seven months to get everything up and running. Other than the London Evening Standard and The Independent committing their support, we had nothing in place. We had to assemble the team and put the broadcast infrastructure together from scratch. We went live on March 31st.
We chose Premiere Pro as a key resource because the multiformat timeline gives us more flexibility. We also like the open, plugin architecture and its ability to integrate with other vital newsroom technologies, such as Sienna and ChyronHego. We transcode with Adobe Media Encoder CC, build graphics with Adobe After Effects CC, and use Adobe Photoshop CC for different online and live graphics purposes.
Adobe: How are you supporting your local news operations with Adobe Creative Cloud?
Balcombe: We’re covering London and 33 surrounding boroughs, and we want to produce content at the hyper-local level. Our ten video journalists need tools that are fast, light, and mobile to cover it all and they use Premiere Pro exclusively. They gather high-definition images and video using Nikon DSLR cameras, which they can edit immediately using Premiere Pro installed on 13-inch Apple Macbooks we had designed for use in the field.
Production journalists in the studio also use Premiere Pro on desktop iMacs. With our scripting tool, AP ENPS, they can edit show openers and make changes to packages practically right up to air time. Premiere Pro is also essential for re-cutting stories. We have a three-hour morning show, for example and we evolve the content from one hour to the next.
Premiere Pro is also our failover solution. We use an automated Sienna media asset management system for news archiving and playout, and most of the journalist packages are sitting in there ready to be aired during the live broadcast. However, two of our iMacs have been set up for manual playout, so we can also play late-breaking news directly from the Premiere Pro timeline to air.
Adobe: What kinds of editing projects are you supporting with Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
Balcombe: For the acquired and commissioned programs, we have to make sure that they are broadcast-ready and meet regulatory compliance standards. We have three editors who use Premiere Pro to help ensure that the language in any program is appropriate for the time of day, for example. They also make sure that the shows are compatible with our Ericsson playout system. With Adobe, we can be more flexible on the formats of incoming media, edit any format on the Premiere Pro timeline, and then output with Adobe Media Encoder CC.
Another team of three editors produces all of our promotional material. There’s a lot of cutting, such as taking video snippets from upcoming programs and adding graphics we produce in After Effects. Premiere Pro lets us take source materials from different providers in different formats and put them all on one timeline to get exactly what we’re looking for.
Adobe: Where does Adobe Photoshop CC fit in?
Balcombe: We do two exports from Premiere Pro, one for broadcast and one for our web and mobile channels. We use Photoshop for a lot of our online content and for graphics. The digital team takes screenshots from video or collects images from news or wire feeds and uses Photoshop to format them for web and mobile devices. We also use Photoshop to prepare images for use in our newsroom’s live graphics system from ChyronHego.
Adobe: What do you expect the newsroom of the future to look like?
Balcombe: Our license from Ofcom allows us to broadcast in standard definition quality until it expires in 2026. We could have gone all SD, but we expect the technology to change massively between now and then. Right now SD is our broadcast, terrestrial cable, and satellite format. But we produce everything in high definition. Our field and studio cameras are all HD, so we are not limited by initial quality. Everything we distribute digitally is in HD.
One of the visions behind putting journalists in the field with laptops is to use IP-based connectivity. We use microwave Ethernet service instead of satellite trucks, and that lets us playout directly from the Premiere Pro timelines on their Macbooks. We can turn them on anywhere, whenever we need to, and it’s seamless.
Adobe: Now that London Live is on the air and on the web, what’s next?
Balcombe: We built the foundation at the minimum cost just to get it running. Now that we’re live, we are fine tuning. We are learning a lot about who’s doing what, how they’re doing it, what they need, and what will drive efficiencies. As we continue developing our vision of taking the entire station and putting it in the cloud, we are looking at other Adobe solutions, such as Adobe Anywhere for video collaboration, Adobe Primetime for live, linear, and video-on-demand programming, and Adobe Experience Manager for content management.
Bryn Balcombe, technology director at London Live, will be presenting at the Adobe stand at IBC 2014 on Friday, Sept. 12th at 3:30pm and Saturday, Sept. 13th at 1:00pm and 3:30pm.
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Multi-platform media company produces premium sports, culture, and lifestyle content with help from Creative Cloud
From its start selling energy drinks, Red Bull has expanded into an international brand with streaming video through Red Bull TV, the Red Bull Records independent music label, and sponsorship of dozens of athletes, teams, and events. For the past seven years, Red Bull Media House, a subsidiary of Red Bull, has overseen all of the company’s communications and media, taking Red Bull to the next level as a full-fledged lifestyle brand. Andreas Gall, the chief technology officer at Red Bull Media House, gives wings to emotional content that connects people with the international Red Bull brand.
Adobe: How did Red Bull Media House get started?
Gall: About seven years ago, I met with the CEO of Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz, and he asked me to be part of Red Bull Media House. The idea was that we would pull together the print, video, audio, and digital projects across Red Bull and concentrate all of that fantastic creative energy in one location. I have a lot of experience in broadcast media, so I understand how to bring stories to life. From the way I see it, my job is to keep on top of technology and technological strategies to push the envelope on how we explore people, stories, and ideas.
Adobe: What does Red Bull Media House do?
Gall: We handle all of the communications for the entire Red Bull family of companies. That includes especially coverage of Red Bull’s events, from sports to music and more. We’re much more than just TV commercials and magazine ads. We produce exciting short and feature-length films, engaging video magazines, and even deliver live coverage of international events through Red Bull TV. If you look at the Red Bull Content Pool, we have a massive online archive of more than 120,000 assets produced by Red Bull Media House—and we’re adding new content every day.
Much of our content covers high-action sports, which has been the core of the Red Bull DNA for years. We’re always looking for new ways to find really emotional content and bring our audiences closer to the athletes’ experiences.
Adobe: Why did you make the switch to Adobe Creative Cloud?
Gall: If there’s anything we know at Red Bull, it’s the importance of pushing the limits. We have a lot of great ideas that we’d love to see—like enhanced visualizations and biometrics—that don’t have a solid technological answer yet. That’s why it was much less important for us to find a system that worked for where we are now, and more important to find a motivated partner who was willing to work with us to change the media world.
I really like how open Adobe is to exploring with us. Adobe comes from a very creative background, so the product development teams are very interested in ideas and concepts that will lead to new creative expressions. We’ve had meetings with Adobe about working with Premiere Pro and XMP, and we’re starting to paint a picture of how we want to evolve together.
Adobe: What Adobe applications are you using?
Gall: We’ve had people working with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe After Effects for years, but the biggest change has been our switch to Adobe Premiere Pro CC. It’s going to be central to the architecture that we’re planning with fast edits and fast production. Once we’re fully switched over, we’ll standardize on Adobe Prelude CC to streamline production even further. With everything going through Prelude, we’ll reduce ingest and make edits considerably faster.
We’re starting to dive into the rest of the applications available in Creative Cloud as well. There’s been a lot of interest in Adobe Story CC and Adobe Anywhere to encourage creative collaboration around the globe.
Adobe: What is the future for Red Bull Media House?
Gall: We’ve got some ideas for how we want to move forward. For example, we think it would be fantastic if we could really connect athletes with fans by giving athletes the ability to create and upload their own media. This is just one of many ideas we’re exploring, and Adobe is with us every step of the way.
Andreas (Andi) Gall, CTO of Red Bull Media House, will be presenting at the Adobe stand at IBC on Friday, September 12th at 2:00 PM and Saturday, September 13th at 10:30 AM.
For the past decade, Jason Harvey has lived the life that many video engineers would envy. After developing his skills and expertise in video production for corporate, trade, and live events, he landed a spot on with Cher on “The Farewell Tour.” Since then, he’s traveled with many high profile artists, including Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi, Christina Aguilera, Pink, Paul McCartney, and Madonna, managing the video systems, cabling, and cameras involved in their massive concert productions.
Over the years, Harvey has been given some freedom that allows him to work with artists on playback and even create some content for the shows. For the past year and a half, he’s worked with PRG Nocturne as a video engineer on the Bruno Mars tour, while managing his production company Short and Spikey on the side.
The Bruno Mars show is 100% pre-made by a variety of content providers who work on different elements of the show before the tour begins. After a tour has been on the road for a while, it’s not uncommon for the artist to want to change or add content. When Bruno Mars recently decided to add some new elements to his show, Harvey was selected to create a new piece of content for the song “Show Me.”
“The project was made up of ink drops and shockwaves from Video Copilot,” explains Harvey. “I used Adobe Premiere Pro CC to track lay the images in time with the audio, and then exported the timeline to After Effects CC for all of the color correction, repositioning, and sizing.”
Harvey used bright colors for the drops and waves. The reference from the artist was the colors of red, yellow, and green to match the Rastafarian feel of the song. The colors were added to the drops and waves in After Effects CC to complete the look. After exporting and showing the content to Bruno Mars for approval, Harvey only had to make minor changes to the sizes of some objects before re-rending the project for the final master.
“I used Adobe Premiere Pro for 90% of the project and it played an essential role in getting all of the timing for the music correct,” says Harvey. “I was very lucky to have the opportunity to work with Bruno and his management on this content and it’s great to see it playing in the show every night!”
Harvey continues to work with Adobe Creative Cloud and looks forward to exploring more of what the video applications have to offer when the tour concludes in September. “Adobe continues to innovate and it’s always great to explore the new features that are regularly available through Adobe Creative Cloud,” he concludes.
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Production company standardizes on an Adobe Creative Cloud workflow to efficiently deliver up to 28 TV episodes per week
For more than 20 years, UFA SERIAL DRAMA has produced some of the most popular serial dramas in Germany. Classic shows such as Good Times, Bad Times (Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten) and Among Us(Unter Uns) have been on the air for more than 4,000 episodes each. UFA SERIAL DRAMA currently runs five daily shows and can produce up to 28 episodes in a week; for this team efficiency is key. Post-production supervisor Marc Schwellenbach works with the post-production teams to continually refine and optimize the standard workflows to be as quick and smart as possible.
Adobe: Tell us about the shows you produce through UFA SERIAL DRAMA.
Schwellenbach: We produce five unique daily serial dramas, which translates to 800 minutes of material every week. Four of our shows run in Germany. In fact, the first series that we produced back in 1992,Good Times, Bad Times (Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten), was the first daily serial drama made for German television. It’s still on the air; we passed the 5,000 episode mark a few years ago. Even our “newest” series has been around for eight years and nearly 2,000 episodes. Our fifth show is actually a serial drama made for Hungarian audiences. It’s been running for 16 seasons, and it’s one of the top-rated shows in Hungary.
Adobe: Why are production workflows so important to you?
Schwellenbach: We work on five shows that run five days a week with almost no breaks. To get all of the shows ready for air, we may produce up to 28 episodes a week. We need a rock-solid workflow to keep up the pace without compromising quality.
We have one big advantage on our side: experience. We’ve learned over the years to take the time to think through our workflows and look for ways to improve them. We take it a step further at UFA SERIAL DRAMA by standardizing about 90% of our workflow across productions. If one team comes up with a new process that helps them work faster and better, we can easily apply their innovations to other teams.
Adobe: How has your software changed over the years?
Schwellenbach: Several years ago, we switched from Avid to Final Cut Pro with the intention of becoming more flexible and speeding up workflows in post production. We worked with the Final Cut Pro workflow for a few years, but we felt that we still needed to move our editing process to the next level. By better integrating editing into the rest of the post-production workflow, we would improve turnaround speed for dailies and increase our overall speed and efficiency.
We recently started looking into Adobe Premiere Pro, and that’s when we realized the advantages that we could achieve using the integration between Adobe creative applications. With Adobe Creative Cloud, our workflow has not only gotten faster, but also tighter. We’re tying everything together into one smooth Adobe framework, which helps us get much more power and flexibility out of our daily workflows.
Adobe: How important is the integration of Adobe tools to your workflows?
Schwellenbach: We had used Adobe After Effects and Adobe Photoshop before, but we had never considered how everything could work together in a bigger way. The integration among Creative Cloud applications not only changes how we work, but it encourages us to think about how all of the steps fit together to create the big picture.
Previously, our post-production artists would use After Effects to composite green screen shots and hand the finished shots over to the editors. The Dynamic Link between After Effects and Premiere Pro simplifies things so much. Even our editors who are not visual effects artists use After Effects to create their own graphics, or use templates we’ve created for graphical inserts, such as cell phone displays. They can then easily bring these effects into their Premiere Pro workflows. Edits and adjustments are practically seamless, as we no longer need to wait to export and import clips. We can be much more flexible while maintaining consistent information on the shots.
We also appreciate how Adobe software invites collaboration. We see lots of great third-party integrations, and with Adobe XMP and panel integration, we can even see ourselves leveraging metadata to develop our own integrations as we need them. The Adobe framework opens up whole new ways for us to speed up and simplify the workflow.
Adobe: What steps did you take to transition to Adobe Premiere Pro?
Schwellenbach: The key to a smooth transition is planning and communication. When you’re changing a key component of your workflow, you have to make sure that you think through everything beforehand. We didn’t want to even start the move until we were sure that our editors would be able to work faster right away. We talked with editors about the changes that they wanted to see and used their input to design the new workflow. Giving them ownership of the transition helped to assure them amidst the changes.
Trainers worked with our editors to help them feel comfortable with the new software and features. The entire transition felt very collaborative with Adobe, with everyone coming together for a common goal. As a result, our transition has been very smooth. Two teams have completely switched over to Premiere Pro with more still in the final training phases. Our editors are very pleased with the ease and functionality of Premiere Pro. Other departments have also successfully made the move to Creative Cloud.
Adobe: Are there any other applications in Creative Cloud that you’re excited about?
Schwellenbach: Adobe Story CC Plus looks very interesting and has definitely caught the eye of our head writer. We’re currently syncing Word documents with our scheduling system, but Story will help us leverage metadata in the scripts so that we can see exactly what we need in post production.
Adobe Prelude CC is another piece that’s bound to be very useful. We’re always talking about logging on set, and Prelude and Live Logger will provide us a way to log information on set and preserve that metadata in Prelude for the post-production process. We’re already using a digital movie slate integrated into an iPad app, so I could see us using Prelude Live Logger right away.
Adobe: What is the future for UFA SERIAL DRAMA?
Schwellenbach: We started using Adobe Creative Cloud for teams, but we’re switching to Creative Cloud for enterprise as our business continues to grow and use of the software expands. We’re also talking to other businesses in the UFA family. We’ve developed powerful workflows for our fast-paced production and along the way we’ve learned a lot about working with Adobe software. We look forward to sharing our knowledge and best practices with other UFA productions.
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Award-winning host of underwater documentary series tackles the world’s first live-action planetarium film using Creative Cloud
Cinematographer Jonathan Bird is one of the lucky ones. He’s successfully combined his love for scuba diving and photography into an award-winning career. After more than a decade of delivering underwater photography and video to National Geographic and Discovery Channel, Bird started his own series that combines humor with science in a highly educational, family-friendly format. Jonathan Bird’s Blue World, now airing on PBS, won the CINE Golden Eagle Award, a total of eight New England Emmy Awards, and has been nominated for two National Daytime Emmy Awards. For his next project, Bird is connecting the sea and space with an innovative film made for planetarium theaters.
Adobe: Tell us why you decided to create Jonathan Bird’s Blue World.
Bird: I had been working both as a cinematographer and producer for years, but I still dreamed about working on a show that entertained audiences of all ages without talking down to them or losing the educational slant. No one else was making the show that I wanted to see, so I finally just decided to do it myself! It wasn’t until we got an audience on YouTube that people started paying attention to our show and we made the jump to TV. We just finished the fourth season on PBS.
Adobe: What is the production schedule and format of Blue World?
Bird: The show is massively low budget, but we take the time to make it good. It takes about 18 months to shoot a season. Last season we produced 11 half-hour shows. The season before that contained 9 shows. It is a magazine-style program, so it isn’t all one story. We typically put between two and three different stories together, and they can be completely unrelated. This format also makes it easy for us to package content online into webisodes.
Adobe: What can you tell us about your upcoming film project?
Bird: Space School is going to be something completely different: the world’s first live-action planetarium film. Planetariums are traditionally about space, so I proposed a film that takes people into the world where space travel and underwater experiences meet: astronaut training. Astronauts train underwater in the Johnson Space Center Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory to simulate weightless conditions, and later they spend time in Aquarius, an underwater research laboratory in the Keys, to get used to living and working in cramped, isolated conditions.
Adobe: What opportunities do planetariums represent for filmmakers?
Bird: When most people think about planetariums, they tend to think about a Zeiss machine that just shines bright lights to represent the stars. But planetariums have moved way beyond that. They have banks of computers calculating huge data sets of imagery that can fly you around the solar system. With their full, domed screens, planetarium theaters offer a completely immersive environment that will work incredibly well with the underwater footage.
Adobe: Why didn’t you just create a film for the IMAX DOME theaters?
Bird: There are 500 planetariums across the United States, compared with only about 40 IMAX DOME theaters. Almost nobody is making content for IMAX DOME theaters anymore because it is too expensive to make a 70mm IMAX film for only 40 screens, and it takes too long to make your money back. So IMAX has gone completely to flat-screen style 3D projections, which are absolutely amazing in their own right.
The reason why there aren’t more live-action films for planetariums is simply because they’re incredibly advanced. The planetarium market is all about realism, with content shot at 60 fps, which is unconventional for traditional movies. The displays are also extremely high resolution at 4,000 pixels square. You’d need an 8K resolution camera to perfectly fill the screen—and no commercial manufacturer makes 8K cameras! That’s why most of the films shown on planetariums so far have involved CG animation.
Adobe: How did you approach making Space School given these requirements?
Bird: When we started, RED had just come out with its 6K DRAGON camera, so we could come close to true planetarium resolution. Once we had the camera, though, we had another problem: we needed a system that could handle editing our footage. At 6K resolution and 60 fps, we were looking at an extraordinary amount of data—about 8 GB per minute—in RAW format. We did a lot of research into the subject, and we finally figured out that the only setup around that could handle the load was Adobe Premiere Pro CC running on the fastest HP Z Workstation available.
Adobe: What is special about Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
Bird: Adobe Premiere Pro CC has the best playback engine of any non-linear editor on the market, even for video that is notoriously difficult to play back in real time. Premiere Pro doesn’t care where video comes from; it just plays it, no transcoding required. Being able to cut out the transcoding process is a huge time saver. And Adobe makes the transition from Final Cut Pro so easy (for those of us that have been using FCP for years). I was up editing on Premiere Pro in a couple of hours.
Adobe: How was the switch from a Mac to a PC?
Bird: I’ve always loved working with Macs. But when we decided to move away from Final Cut Pro, we realized that we didn’t have to stick with Macs anymore. We decided to switch to the fastest computer we could find, which turned out to be the HP Z Workstation. We did a rendering test to compare the speeds, and an Adobe After Effects project that took 12 hours to render on the Mac took two hours on the HP system.
There are probably lots of people in the same boat as me—people who want the power of a PC but are uncomfortable with Windows. Creative Cloud is great because the software is exactly the same across platforms. I can even move files between the Mac and Windows environments without any problems. I also like how all of the software we use, like Premiere Pro, Photoshop, Encore, and After Effects, share similar interfaces and operations. It makes it easy to pick up new software.
Adobe: What’s next for you?
Bird: We started shooting with NASA in May and we’ll be delivering it to theaters in January. We’re also continuing with Jonathan Bird’s Blue World, and our YouTube audience continues to grow. We recently launched Shark Academy on YouTube, which features two to three minute shark videos that kids really like. Another focus for us is to put out highlights from some of our videos that are more shareable. Overall, we want to continue telling great stories for audiences of all ages.
Read more about Jonathan Bird and his work here.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @WeitzJonathan
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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