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Full-service video production firm realizes efficiencies and plans for the future with Adobe Creative Cloud
Walter Biscardi Jr. has worked with nearly every NLE during his long and successful career. He started editing in 1990 at CNN and was one of the network’s first Avid editors. In 1995, he moved to Foxwoods Resort Casino, designed a new production facility around Media 100, and then started his first company back in Atlanta, Georgia in 1998. After working with Final Cut Pro for 11 years, he found his way to Adobe Premiere Pro, an integrated solution that could speed his workflow and evolve with his needs. At Biscardi Creative Media, he now actively works with Adobe Creative Cloud, cutting a new series and planning to launch his own television network with his faithful companion, Molly the Wonder Dog, by his side.
Adobe: Tell us about some of your best known projects.
Biscardi: I worked on four seasons of Good Eats with Alton Brown doing post-production, editing, animation, and color grading. I’ve also done some long form documentary work. I was co-producer and editor on Foul Water Fiery Serpent, a documentary that aired on PBS about President Carter’s 25-year fight to eradicate guinea worm. Next, I worked on another documentary, Dark Forest Black Fly, which also aired on PBS. Both took four years to cut. Most recently our company has completed four seasons of This American Land, a PBS series about preserving America’s wildlife, waters, and landscape.
Adobe: How has your business evolved?
Biscardi: I’ve gone from working in the bedroom of my house to building a brand new, 6,000 square foot production facility with five edit suites, a 5.1 surround sound mixing theater, a color grading suite, production offices, and 1,400 square feet of studio space. For years we did all post-production work, primarily broadcast episodics, documentaries, and corporate projects. Two or three years ago we started getting serious about full-service, turnkey productions.
Adobe: What led you to switch to Adobe Premiere Pro?
Biscardi: The launch of Final Cut X drove me back to Avid 6, which I used when I started work on the second season of This American Land. I had never touched Premiere Pro and honestly didn’t think it was useful in a professional workflow. But working with Avid on This American Land was a fiasco and by the third episode into the edit we switched to Premiere Pro and haven’t looked back. Three of the four seasons have been edited with Premiere Pro.
Adobe: What do you think of Adobe Creative Cloud and the integrated video workflow?
Biscardi: There’s nothing on the market that works as cohesively as Adobe Creative Cloud. I also love the subscription concept of Creative Cloud and how Adobe continuously rolls out new features. I’ve used After Effects since it was CoSA. All of the animation for Good Eats was done with After Effects and Photoshop. Three of the animations were well over 2,000 layers; it was so much fun doing those. The integrated video workflow between Premiere Pro and After Effects can’t be beat.
Adobe: Are there features in Premiere Pro that are particularly useful in your work?
Biscardi: The software just works. When you transition from one piece of software to another it isn’t going to work the same. You have to adapt your workflow to the tool. Nothing is perfect, but Premiere Pro is as close to perfect as I’ve seen out there right now. This American Land can have 10 camera formats in the same episode, on the same timeline, and it doesn’t choke, it just plays. It’s great to not have to think about cameras, formats, frame rates, or frame size. We haven’t come across anything we’ve thrown on the timeline it can’t handle.
The multi-cam integration with audio is also simple; as long as you have a good audio reference it’s unbelievable how easy auto sync by waveform works. The pancake timeline, where all raw elements are in the timelines above the master timeline, is easy to use and I recently discovered the new marker window with the marker notes and that is now a big part of our workflow. I love making those types of discoveries.
Adobe: How has working with Adobe Creative Cloud helped your business?
Biscardi: We’ve cut 300 to 400 projects on Premiere Pro in the past few years and it’s a rock solid tool. We were 12 days behind on This American Land when we switched from Avid to Premiere Pro and we not only caught up but we got ahead. When we cut the first season on Final Cut Pro 7 we had to convert all camera formats to Pro Res and it took 1.2 – 2TB to archive the episodes.
It took three or four episodes cutting in Premiere Pro to trust that it would cut native. We switched to an all native workflow and reduced the backup to 350GB to 500GB, which saved us money on the archive. We were also able to cut the same amount of material in 50% of the time because there was no waiting to transcode. Foul Water Fiery Serpent was all shot on Panasonic P2 and we had 250 hours of footage that we converted to Pro Res before editing, which took a couple of weeks. In Premiere Pro we would have been able to start editing on day one.
Adobe: How did you get started working on Arson Dogs?
Biscardi: Arson Dogs is a new web series for world-renowned dog trainer Victoria Stilwell and her Positively website. The series follows Victoria to southern Maine, where State Farm’s Arson Dog Training Program is conducted to train handlers and working dogs together to sniff out accelerants like gasoline and propane at potential arson sites.
Victoria and her crew spent five days at the school documenting many hours of raw material on up to five different cameras. We then taught her team how to organize and log the project in Premiere Pro, so when we opened it up it was in bins with notes and we could just get started editing. Our first task was to create a three minute sizzle reel from 3,500 clips in just one week. Without Premiere Pro and the Small Tree Shared Storage, which let us all work with the same media simultaneously, it wouldn’t have happened. I worked collaboratively with our editors R. John Becker and Kylee Wall to meet the deadline.
Since then, we’ve been working on editing the first 8 episodes, and anticipate there will be 6 to 10 more. Kylee has a one sentence overview of each 5- to 10-minute episode and she cuts based on that description. We’re known as storytellers, and Adobe gets all of the technology out of the way so we can just tell a story. The best part is being able to work on the project with my own Molly the Wonder Dog in the edit suite with the team.
Adobe: What’s next for you?
Biscardi: We’re currently seeking investment to launch a new 4k UHD Contemporary Living Network, which will include multiple channels and an all Adobe workflow. We’re looking at producing at least 20 original series in the first season alone, all on lifestyle topics such as food, travel, entertaining, pets, home and garden, and more. It will be our own network, with direct digital delivery.
We recently took delivery of our first Blackmagic 4K Production Camera and Teranex Express. We’ll be shooting the first four episodes of Ice Cream Nation and two episodes of Fork U in 4K UHD using that and the Panasonic GH4 cameras for Contemporary Living Network. Fork U features Simon Majumdar from Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen as one of our hosts.
Adobe: Are there any new Adobe Premiere Pro features that you’re looking forward to incorporating into your workflow?
Biscardi: The new Consolidate and Transcode feature in Premiere Pro CC will come into play very heavily as we launch Contemporary Living Network. It will enable us to create archive versions of the master cut of each and every episode in a single format. That will help us easily re-open the project at a later date to make changes to graphics, re-export into a different format, or whatever else the situation warrants without the need to reopen all of the original media.
We’ll certainly keep all the original native media for future re-use, but having the finished episode in a single format is something we’ve been waiting for. It will come into play across the board at Biscardi Creative Media. So thankful to the Adobe team for getting that feature in there!
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David Fincher crafts thriller with talented team of artists and Adobe Premiere Pro CC
If the first film review in Variety is any indication, Director David Fincher’s film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestselling novel Gone Girl will be well worth the price of admission. Many filmgoers will see the movie because they like the actors, the genre, or because they’ve read the book. Many others will go because they love Fincher’s vigorous storytelling, his impeccable pacing, and his striking visual style.
Whether the audience is conscious of it or not, it is Fincher’s careful structuring of narrative and imagery that makes his films so powerful. Gone Girl is the first Hollywood feature-length film cut entirely in Adobe Premiere Pro CC.
Fincher is a director known for pushing technology to the edge. To help realize his ambitious vision for Gone Girl, he shot the film with a RED Dragon camera in 6K and assembled a top-notch post-production team. Two-time Academy Award winner Kirk Baxter, ACE, edited the film with help from an editorial department that included Tyler Nelson, his long-time assistant editor. Peter Mavromates worked as post-production supervisor, while Jeff Brue of Open Drives was the post-production engineer. Fincher had worked with the group before, but the decision to use an integrated Adobe workflow with Adobe Premiere Pro CC at the hub, was a first for the tech-savvy director.
After successfully cutting a Calvin Klein commercial with Premiere Pro CC, the team set out to determine what it would take to support the demands of a two-and-a-half hour feature film using the same Adobe workflow. Brue was tasked with designing the storage system that would enable Premiere Pro to work smoothly within a demanding 6K production pipeline.
“Our goal was to get as many iterations as possible of the opticals and visual effects in a given period of time to make the story as strong as we could,” explains Brue. “The ask was for nothing less than perfection, which pushed us to do better. When it came down to it, Adobe Premiere Pro CC was faster than anything else in the market. That speed meant more iterations, more time to work on a shot, and more time to perfect an edit.”
Having worked on previous Fincher projects, Mavromates comfortably assumed the role of managing the pipeline, helping determine the post-production goals, and guiding the visual effects work. With a plan in place, Baxter got started on the edit, working closely with Fincher and relying on Nelson and others on the editorial team to navigate the technicalities of working on such a cutting-edge pipeline.
“Working with the Adobe engineers was probably the best development experience I’ve ever had,” says Nelson. “Everybody was in tune with what was going on and we always had this amazingly collaborative environment. It wasn’t just about making our movie the best movie it could be, we wanted to make every movie cut on Premiere Pro in the future the best movie it could be.”
Fincher shot in 6K with multiple takes, giving the team plenty of material to work with. With a gift for bringing out the best in everyone on a project, it would be easy to assume that the film is comprised of only “perfect takes.” In fact, 80% of the shots were enhanced in some way, from reframing and stabilization to split-screening to remove an extra breath.
The result, after a lot of meticulous detail work, is a film where every shot seems flawless. As the Variety review says, “…editor Kirk Baxter cuts the picture to within an inch of its life while still allowing individual scenes and the overall structure to breathe…”
“On every film we face the challenge of reducing the screen time without losing content,” says Baxter. “If we don’t have to cut out lines, but instead remove time from a scene by making invisible edits, that’s a win. The way David overshoots the frame in his films allows me to edit within the shot, then I throw it to the guys to sew together in After Effects, make it spotless, and stabilize the shot. That way David can judge the shots by the performance and delivery, rather than making comments on the technical aspects.”
Much of the visual effects work was done in-house, which allowed the team to work iteratively, in parallel with the editing. For example, Baxter could edit in Premiere Pro while others worked on shots in After Effects. The saved compositions would automatically update in Baxter’s timeline thanks to Adobe Dynamic Link. This integrated and interactive workflow kept shots looking cleaner and eliminated distracting back-and-forth discussions so the entire team could focus on the story as it took shape in the edit bay. This streamlined workflow was one of the main advantages for “Team Fincher.”
“On Gone Girl we managed to do a huge number of effects shots, probably more than 200, in house thanks to the tight integration between Premiere Pro and After Effects,” says Mavromates. “I don’t think the average viewer will think of Gone Girl as a visual effects movie. However, when you look closely at David’s movies he is playing little visual tricks and we are doing brass polishing on a significant number of shots.”
This talented group of self-described perfectionists, supported by a gifted and driven post-production team, put the Adobe video workflow through its most rigorous use case to date with great success. Now, with the hard work behind them, they can sit back and watch their months of work unfold for theater audiences around the world.
Stay tuned for in-depth series of interviews with Kirk Baxter, Tyler Nelson, Peter Mavromates, and Jeff Brue about their work on Gone Girl.
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Award-winning director streamlines production workflows with Adobe Premiere Pro
Since the age of 13, director Phil Hawkins has cultivated his passion for filmmaking by writing and directing for both stage and screen. His work as a commercial director has earned him more than ten advertising awards, including a Roses Advertising Award, while his short and feature films have won awards at festivals around the world. In 2012, Hawkins launched The Philm Company to develop and produce new and exciting film projects.
The Philm Company’s latest project is the feature film The Last Showing. A psychological thriller starring Robert Englund, Finn Jones, Emily Berrington, and Keith Allen, The Last Showing is due to be released in Autumn 2014 in markets around the world. Hawkins and veteran editor Paul Griffiths-Davies brought together 4k film footage and CCTV content in an efficient Adobe Premiere Pro workflow that helped Hawkins shift expenses from behind the scenes to in front of the camera.
Adobe: Tell us about making The Last Showing.
Hawkins: My goal for The Philm Company has been to focus on smaller, studio-quality films. The Last Showing is my take on a horror film. The movie stars a film projectionist played by veteran actor Robert Englund, who is probably best known to film buffs from his role as Freddy Kreuger in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. Deemed obsolete by modern technology, the projectionist decides to film his ideal horror movie, only he does so by trapping a young couple in his multiplex cinema and manipulating events to make them act out his plot.
I’m not very interested in over-the-top gore or the grainy, handheld look of found footage movies. I wanted to use a polished style that wouldn’t look out of place in a Hollywood film, so most of the footage is shot on a Sony F55 camera with 4K resolution. At the same time, key scenes in the film involve CCTV footage, so I used a real CCTV camera shooting on MiniDV. We could have shot everything on HD cameras and just used video effects to degrade the image, but I feel that you don’t get an authentic look that way. Real CCTV cameras gave us the low-fi aesthetic that we were looking for, without additional post-production costs.
Adobe: Why did you decide to work with Adobe Premiere Pro?
Hawkins: Before starting on The Last Showing, I did a short film that we shot on many different types of cameras. I was working with Final Cut Pro at the time and I discovered that it couldn’t handle the footage; we just didn’t have enough time or compute power to process all of the rushes. We tried Adobe Premiere Pro, and suddenly everything was running smoothly; it takes any format you throw at it. I couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to waste their time transcoding footage when Adobe Premiere Pro can do it all for you. I knew The Last Showing would be mixed format, so I didn’t give Paul the choice—I told him that we’d be working with Premiere Pro!
Premiere Pro was a huge cost-saver for us. Not only was it fast, but we could do almost all of our post-production work in-house. Why go to Soho and rent an editing suite when we could do the same work with one computer loaded with Premiere Pro and After Effects? The Last Showing may be a low-budget film, but I was determined that it would never look cheap. With more cost-efficient post-production, we can put more money in front of the screen.
Griffiths-Davies: The set was a working cinema, so Phil would shoot during the night and bring me the hard disk drive with the footage to work on during the day. Edits are what turn footage into a film, and with the Adobe setup, we had the flexibility to work on edits whenever we wanted, for as long as we wanted, rather than trying to fit edits into a set studio schedule.
Adobe: How was the switch to Premiere Pro?
Griffiths-Davies: It was actually my first time working on Premiere Pro, although I have extensive experience working with Avid and Final Cut Pro. Phil only gave me a few weeks’ notice, so I bought a couple of books and just taught myself. I found it surprisingly easy to use though, and I picked it up quickly. The speed from preparation into editing was probably the biggest and most exciting change for me. I would get the rushes at the end of the shooting day and just go straight into editing. I didn’t have to wait for transcoding at all.
Adobe: What features stood out for you?
Hawkins: Premiere Pro has a lot of charms to it that other editing programs don’t have. It closes gaps between clips beautifully and it supports third-party plug-ins very smoothly. We used DaVinci Resolve for color grading, and the trailer uses a plug-in filter to add digital distortion. We also used After Effects for titles and logo replacement, which was very easy thanks to built-in tracking.
Probably the biggest benefit on this film was using Dynamic Link between Premiere Pro and After Effects. We have a few scenes where Englund’s character watches the young couple through a bank of monitors. We could have played green screens and replaced the footage in post, but I wanted to capture the unique lighting and degradation of video playing on actual LCD screens.
We had to shoot all of the CCTV footage beforehand and edit it together into videos that we played on the monitors. The toughest part was getting the timing right. If a character walked off the screen of one monitor, they would appear on another monitor from a different angle. We used Premiere Pro to edit the precise timing of each video and then send it to After Effects to add titles and animations. Dynamic Link made the whole process so much easier by keeping clips in sync and letting us switch back and forth without constantly exporting video.
Adobe: Where can we see The Last Showing?
Adobe: What’s next for The Philm Company?
Hawkins: We’ve got several potential projects in the works and we’ll finally be upgrading to Adobe Creative Cloud. I’m really looking forward to working with all of the new software. I’m dying to take a look at Adobe SpeedGrade CC, and there are some new features for Premiere Pro CC and After Effects CC that sound very promising. Everything already works together so smoothly that it’s exciting to think what we’ll be able to do with the deeper integration that Creative Cloud offers.
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Ambitious French filmmakers produce their first genre feature film using Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Premiere Pro CC
The zombie movie genre, which dates back as far as the 1930s, includes dozens of films from comedies to true horror classics. Insolence Productions, created by Anaïs Bertrand in 2009, combines both comedy and horror in a new film for zombie movie enthusiasts, Super Z. After producing nine award-winning short films, this is the first feature from Insolence Productions. The movie was filmed in the heart of France in September 2013 and directed by Julien Arnaud Tabarly Volte. Producer Laura Townsend worked with Co-producer Emmanuel Pampuri and Paul Ferré, the film’s talented editor, to create the film using an Adobe video workflow.
Adobe: How did you get started in the movie industry?
Pampuri: I started as cameraman in 1991 then worked on movie sets with montage, production, and finally in post production. For many years, I worked on the sets of live performances, helping capture the performing arts on video. I started my company, Les Machineurs, in 2006. We specialize mostly in post-production work but also cover the entire filmmaking workflow, from shooting to post production. We provide equipment and expertise, as well as the final output.
Townsend: I’ve been involved in the movie industry for the past eight years. I started as a production assistant then quickly moved up to director of production on short films and then full-length feature films. I started a company three years ago called La Ruche Production and produced Super Z in collaboration with Insolence Productions as a freelancer. I’ve worked with a multitude of production companies and studios on regional full-length feature films and I’m hoping to someday collaborate with U.S. filmmakers.
Adobe: What was your role with the film Super Z?
Pampuri: My role with Super Z is a bit complicated. I’m the workflow glue. I was initially the one that proposed the collaboration and brought the teams together for the realization of this motion picture. My role covered every aspect of the project from shooting to post production, including technical decisions such as equipment and software choices. I was the main coordinator for this film. Les Machineurs was also the digital lab for the film and, being the principle, I had my hands in many different aspects of its realization.
Townsend: I am a producer on the film. I met the directors about 15 years ago and was brought in by the group at Insolence Productions. I shared my role with the company’s founder Anaïs Bertrand. Over the years, I’ve collaborated with the directors and the technical team on a multitude of projects.
Adobe: Have you personally used Adobe Premier Pro CC?
Pampuri: I used Adobe Premiere Pro CC for post-production work on Super Z. I’m a member of the Adobe influencer program and use Premiere Pro on a regular basis with most projects I work on.
Adobe: Tell us about Super Z.
Townsend: It’s a movie that provoked a high level of interest among industry professionals, actors, and comedians. Given the unusual and unexpected nature of its horror/comedy premise, the projects was a challenge that many of us were eager to take on. For the same reasons, getting the financial support necessary to bring our ideas to life was a big challenge especially here in France. We had to seek help from the local film community, numerous private contributors, and the web, where we raised close to 13,000 Euros on Ulule.com.
A solid partnership with Adobe also helped us tremendously along the way. We ended up launching the project on a relatively small budget and are very happy with how things turned out thanks to Adobe Creative Cloud applications, especially Premiere Pro CC.
Adobe: How did Adobe Creative Cloud applications help?
Pampuri: The choice to go with Premiere Pro was an easy one to make. The tool made all our lives much easier. The footage was shot with RED cameras so we needed a tool that could support raw R3D file formats and allow us to rapidly upload and work with the files without wasting time formatting or dealing with compatibility issues. This aspect alone was reason enough for us to go with Premiere Pro.
Overall, there were many special effects in the film. We had a separate agency creating the effects and it was my job to help ensure a seamless workflow between all the teams involved. They used After Effects for simple 2D animations. We were able to gather elements from all different sources and easily integrate them into Premiere Pro without wasting any time dealing with compatibly or reformatting issues. Synergy, flexibility, simplicity, and efficiency were the identifiable benefits behind our choice of Adobe Creative Cloud.
Ferré: In the past I used Final Cut Pro and hadn’t used Premiere Pro for a project of this magnitude. With this film, I had Premiere Pro at my disposal and I was impressed with the overall speed of execution. We didn’t have to wait long hours for rendering and were able to use our raw R3D files directly from the cameras. The software itself was very intuitive and user-friendly. Compared to other solutions I’ve used in the past I can say it is very robust and fast. I greatly appreciated how much valuable time we were able to save thanks to Adobe Premiere Pro.
Adobe: Did you discover any new features while using Premiere Pro for the film?
Ferré: Real-time rendering was quite a pleasant surprise for me. When I made edits, I was able to export right away and see the result without having to wait a long time for rendering or reformatting. We can apply effects and filters and visualize the result in real time instead of waiting for hours.
Adobe: Were there any challenges?
Pampuri: At the beginning we had issues finding the right computers along with the appropriate hardware add-ons to tackle such a colossal project. Due to our limited budget, we were using an outdated Mac Pro computer that didn’t allow us to take full advantage of all the features that came with the software. Since we had budget restrictions, we struggled a bit getting the right equipment to do the job. There were issues with audio cards and memory capacity. After we upgraded the equipment and had the right technical infrastructure, everything worked well and we were able to make up for lost time.
Adobe: Can you see yourselves using Adobe video tools in the future?
Pampuri: Les Machineurs is already standardizing on Adobe Creative Cloud. Whether it’s Premiere Pro, After Effects, or Prelude, we appreciate the robustness and efficiency of this set of tools.
Townsend: My team and I were truly impressed with the performance of Adobe Premiere Pro CC. I plan on using it in post-production environments in the future project. My company already uses Adobe Audition for music videos and sound treatment.
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British network transforms production with Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise
For more than 50 years, ITV has delivered beloved and successful programming to households throughout the United Kingdom. Today, ITV is probably best known for its flagship serial dramas, Coronation Street and Emmerdale, both of which have been on the air for thousands of episodes and found popularity with audiences around the world. Decades of experience with the fast turnaround of these dramas has underlined the importance of efficient production and streamlined workflows. In his upcoming talk at IBC, Martyn Suker, head of production innovation for ITV, will share some of his secrets to establishing superior production workflows.
Adobe: Tell us about what you do at ITV.
Suker: My main focus is to set and continuously review the digital production strategies across ITV Studios. I also support and advise teams for all our productions. Sometimes that means helping a show find the right facilities, developing a new workflow, or helping them maximize the creative opportunities of emerging technologies or techniques, at other times it can mean advising on standard camera policies.
Adobe: What is the production modernization program?
Suker: We’re always looking for ways to improve processes and the way that we work. Right now, our main focus is on how we can simplify our production workflows. It’s not just about swapping out a few pieces of software or hardware here and there. It’s an overarching change program looking at roles and responsibilities, best practices, and the entire production culture. Ultimately, we’re looking to save time and money during production so that we can shift more value on screen.
Adobe: What were you looking for in a solution?
Suker: We were definitely looking for an end-to-end solution. Having said that, when most people speak of an end-to-end approach, they are usually just referring to the post-production process. We look at the entire production process, starting from the early stages of commissioning and ending at the final delivery and archival. Importantly we want to track production information throughout the production lifecycle and wherever possible, automate mundane tasks. It’s about providing a better experience for users all round.
Adobe: How does Adobe Creative Cloud fit in to the production workflow?
Suker: We’ve been using Adobe Story CC Plus on Coronation Street and Emmerdale for quite some time. It’s a big operation; both shows have three or four crews working simultaneously everyday for 50 weeks a year. With such a fast turnaround they need to shoot out of order, so Story plays an incredibly important role in helping us keep track of schedules and scripts.
Designers have also been using Adobe After Effects and Photoshop for quite some time, but the two most recent additions to our workflow have been Adobe Prelude CC and Adobe Premiere Pro CC. By adopting an all Adobe workflow it’s possible to take advantage of the built-in integrations, allowing us to work more quickly and effectively.
Adobe: How does MioEverywhere support the production workflow?
Suker: MioEverywhere from Nativ.tv is a highly configurable production information and workflow management system that’s helped us take our workflow to a new level. We used it to build panels in Prelude and Premiere Pro that help simplify data and media management within that part of the process. One of the key advantages of Creative Cloud is the ability to do that type of integration, quickly and simply.
Adobe: How did you decide that the Adobe workflow was right for ITV?
Suker: We want productions to have the ability to choose the right tool for the job. We ran a pilot using Creative Cloud and MioEverywhere to produce a recent drama documentary. It was about ensuring we had the right approach, functionality and capabilities. There are always issues when you introduce something new, but you only discover those issues when you put it into a real environment—an actual production that’s got to meet deadlines and provide quality.
Adobe Prelude worked very smoothly by enabling the production team to log and ingest footage quickly and efficiently. The editor, like most of our editors at ITV, had never worked with Premiere Pro before and it was a complicated edit involving drama reconstructions mixed with archive footage. We proved there were no more issues than you would normally expect with such a complex piece of editing, indeed some things were better.
Adobe: What were the results of the pilot?
Suker: Prelude was particularly effective in providing huge time savings during ingest. Overall the benefits were significant and as a result we were able to move investment to on-screen talent. Having a recognizable high-profile leading actor may convince the network to give us a better slot in the schedule, pulling in a bigger audience and in turn, driving more revenue.
Moreover, it proved Adobe does not prevent us from working with other tools. For the pilot program, the producer wanted to work with a particular colorist and dubbing mixer. We just exported the masters, handed them over to the post-production house, re-imported the grade and dub and then finished the program in Premiere Pro. Even though it’s possible to handle everything within the Adobe workflow, we proved it’s also flexible enough to give production teams those options.
Adobe: Why did you get an enterprise term license agreement for Adobe Creative Cloud?
Suker: We can see opportunities to use Creative Cloud across the company, both in production and with our development teams. We want choice and to encourage staff to experiment with different software within Creative Cloud to provide further benefit. For example, one of our production labels is using Creative Cloud to create content for all its YouTube channels. Using the full range of toolsets within the suite is saving a lot of time and indirectly of course, money.
Adobe: What are the next steps for ITV?
Suker: We got approval for funding based on the success of the pilot, so now we’re ironing out all the details in terms of the best configurations, implementing our learning from the pilot and procuring the right infrastructure to support initial roll-out across the company.
We’re also working closely with production, development teams and editors to get them used to working with Prelude and Premiere Pro. We’re really excited about its possibilities and the opportunities that for example, Adobe Anywhere might also offer in future.
Martyn Suker, Head of Production Innovation at ITV Studios, will be presenting in the Adobe stand at IBC 2014 on Saturday, Sept. 13th at 5:00pm, Sunday, Sept. 14th at 5:00pm, and Monday, Sept. 15th at 5:00pm.
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Swiss broadcasting company uses Adobe Creative Cloud to create show openers for top sports event coverage
Earlier this year, we interviewed Patrick Arnecke, head of design and promotion for Swiss Radio and Television (SRF) about the new opener the broadcaster created for its coverage of the Sotchi winter games. Since then, SRF has created similar openers for its coverage of the games in Brazil and the Europe Athletic Cup in Zurich. Representatives from SRF will be speaking at Adobe’s booth at IBC, where they will go into more depth about how Adobe Creative Cloud helps them craft these original content pieces. Here, Motion Designer Simone Nucci gives us a quick overview of what will be discussed.
Adobe: What cameras did you use to shoot the openers?
Nucci: We used RED EPIC for the action shots and Phantom Flex for the slow motion sequences. Everything that is shot is imported into Premiere Pro CC so we can quickly produce a rough cut. After we’re happy with the rough cut, we start to do all of the 3D tracking using SynthEyes. In the meantime we do all the keying and retouching, such as color adjustments of the athletes’ shirts, in After Effects.
Adobe: How do you work with Cinema 4D?
Nucci: Cinema 4D is used to make all of the backgrounds before everything is composed in After Effects CC. The programs work really well together and really speed up our workflow. We can import 3D information from Cinema 4D, such as lights and camera data, and it updates in After Effects with one click without rendering again and again.
Adobe: Are there any After Effects CC features that make a difference in your workflow?
Nucci: Working with the Roto Brush in After Effects is really fast. Not everything in the openers was shot on a green screen. Sometimes we had lights or small objects in a shot that we had to rotoscope out and Mocha AE made it very easy.
All compositing and color correction is done in After Effects before we render the shots out for Premiere Pro, where we adjust the cut and create several cutdowns for other design elements. In the end, everything is rendered out as a QuickTime movie.
Adobe: What other Adobe Creative Cloud applications do you use?
Nucci: We do part of our matte paintings in Photoshop for backgrounds and regularly use Photoshop and Illustrator for storyboarding and concept art. Illustrator is also used to create outlines for 3D objects because they are so easy to handle in Cinema4D. Basically, we used many applications in the package to create the three openers.
Simone Nucci and Simon Renfer, both Senior Motion Designers at SRF, will be presenting in the Adobe stand at IBC 2014 on Sunday, Sept. 14th at 2:00pm and Monday, Sept. 15th at 10:30am and 1:00pm.
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Global VFX studio produces extraordinary motion graphics and visual effects with Adobe Creative Cloud
MPC is one of the world’s leading visual effects and motion graphics studios, with more than 2,000 employees in eight global offices. The studio’s work includes blockbuster films such as Godzilla, the Harry Potter franchise, and Life of Pi, and advertising campaigns for global brands including Samsung, Ikea, and Visa. MPC works with agencies, production companies, directors, and does some direct-to-brand engagements as well. Senior Motion Graphics Designer Will MacNeil, PR Manager Ella Boekeman, and Creative Director Dave Haupt explain the role of Adobe Creative Cloud in bringing their visions to life.
Adobe: What is important for us to know about MPC?
Boekeman: MPC does everything from initial concept art, treatment consultation, pre-visualization, shoot supervision, 2D compositing, 3D/CG effects, animation, color grading, and digital and experiential production. We have three main areas of work, MPC Film, MPC Adverting, and MPC Creative. MPC Film are best known for their work on blockbuster films and won the Academy Award in VFX last year for their work on Life of Pi. We launched MPC Creative as our standalone production arm to service clients who want us to manage the entire production process and to develop a more innovative range of technology-based solutions to their creative challenges. MPC Advertising is our more traditional commercials work.
Adobe: How does MPC use Adobe Creative Cloud?
MacNeil: As a motion design studio, we rely on Adobe tools every day. Artists use Photoshop CC at the beginning of projects when we’re designing ideas for pitches and during project design when we’re mocking up frames, textures, and backgrounds. We use After Effects CC for compositing video material. Adobe tools are the most fundamental part of the work we do.
Haupt: We also use Illustrator CC. For instance, we get a lot of photo-real shots and graphics that we animate. We start in Photoshop or Illustrator, and then bring the images or graphics into After Effects. The integrated Creative Cloud toolset is surprisingly simple. When we recently added Adobe Premiere Pro CC to our workflow, we thought it would be slower than our traditional pipeline. But when we conformed a three-minute promo for Camay soap, it was just as fast. Plus, it’s seamless to transition between desktop applications. We use InDesign for all pitches and treatments.
Adobe: How would you describe the general workflow at MPC?
Haupt: Our work varies quite a lot because we cover everything in the design spectrum including posters, online, and events. Typically, we meet with a director or agency and listen to their ideas and input. After that, we talk about the best way to shoot it. Everybody is trying to maximize budgets and extract greater value, whether in-camera, in VFX, or a mixture of the two.
After we come up with the best solution, we start doing concept work. We do a lot of character concept work and use Creative Cloud for pre-visualization. Quite often we use storyboard frames to make quick animatics that help bring ideas to life.
Adobe: What do you like about working with Creative Cloud?
MacNeil: Creative Cloud opens up projects to more people in the studio. A team may include one animator leading the job, while others focus on specific shots, visual effects techniques, or looks we’re trying to achieve. We give everyone a task that suits their skills, whether it’s drawing in Illustrator or creating animations in After Effects.
Haupt: The big thing is getting everyone involved. While we’re writing scripts and looking at locations, we’re always mocking up concepts, doing animation tests, and constantly working on the project so when it comes in from the editors, we’re ready to move forward.
Adobe: What were the drivers behind MPC’s switch to Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
Haupt: We were using Final Cut Pro, but wanted to explore Premiere Pro because of its tie-in with After Effects. Some projects have smaller budgets, so we needed a way around using Autodesk Flame for visual effects to save money and time. Now that we’re using Premiere Pro, we love it.
MacNeil: When we first worked with Premiere Pro CC we were impressed with its performance, as well as its integration with the rest of the Creative Cloud applications.
Adobe: Can you tell us about a recent project you completed using Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
MacNeil: We recently completed a title sequence and graphics package for German channel ZDF’s Champions League coverage. The job was directed by our in-house team Tom Robinson and Steve Ross.
Premiere Pro CC was an essential tool on the project. The job required reworking live action football footage into an outer space environment full of nebulae, asteroids, and planets, with lots of particle and FX work. The main title was made up of a series of live action shots, but placed together in a single, seamless camera move.
We used Premiere Pro in the animatic stage to try different live action shots against our music and to see how different shots worked together. Once a potential shot came in, we’d start to do some rough compositing work in After Effects and then, using Dynamic Link, we could open it in Premiere Pro and try it in different parts of the cut. We could move it all around the timeline and see how it played against the music, and also with the adjacent shots.
We used the time remapping in Premiere Pro, which is surprisingly simple and quick, to create speed ramps to work with the music. If we needed to make simple changes to the composite, we’d just open the shot in After Effects, tweak it, and then pop back into Premiere Pro where it would automatically update. Then we could get this updated offline to our clients very quickly and respond accordingly to their comments. It made what could have been a very tedious and time-consuming process much less painful.
Adobe: What other projects have you done using this workflow?
Haupt: We’ve worked on a number of fun projects recently, including a Bentley promo, a commercial for UK mobile provider Three, and an epic commercial for adidas that we’ll be discussing at IBC 2014. We’re always excited to work on projects that lead our team in new creative directions.
Check out the video interview with William MacNeil from IBC 2014:
Animation studio produces children’s series using a workflow enabled by Adobe Creative Cloud and CelAction
Rapid technology advances have made computer animation one of the fastest growing industries in Europe and North America. The demand for animated entertainment is growing partly due to expanding broadcasting hours for cable and satellite TV and the ever-increasing popularity of the Internet. Since it launched in 2008, the United Kingdom’s Karrot Animation has become a recognized industry leader, producing 2D animated shows including the international hit Sarah & Duck. Karrot co-founder Jamie Badminton attributes the company’s success to a talented team supported by efficient workflows.
Adobe: How did you develop the Karrot team?
Badminton: I studied to be an animator at Arts University Bournemouth and was in one of the last classes to do hand-drawn animation using cels and cel paint. I learned a lot about storytelling, which has been very helpful lately. I met Karrot co-founder Chris White when he hired me to illustrate a children’s book. We discovered we were both interested in television. He wanted to create children’s programs and my desire was to tell animated stories over multiple episodes. I’ve always been more a fan of television animation than feature film animation.
I went to university with Tim O’Sullivan, who’s our third partner. He was exceptional at solving storytelling problems and a very talented animator. Together, the three of us realized that if we created a studio to do commercial work, we could gain the ability to scale up and produce television programs when an opportunity came along. We used any available downtime to develop TV ideas. When we got a commission to create short videos for the BBC, we hired eight people for six months. When the contract finished, we kept everybody on to develop television ideas.
Adobe: Did you have particular kinds of shows in mind?
Badminton: We decided to create ten series ideas—five for children and five for adults. Sarah & Duck rose to the top. Tim developed the idea with Sarah Gomes Harris who designed and created the core of the stories. In some respects, it’s about a 7-year-old version of Sarah and her childhood love of ducks. A short pilot created in Adobe Flash Professional opened a few doors for us, but we knew we needed a more serious pipeline. We adopted CelAction because it has an item tracking system that suits TV production and we were able to pitch and win some broadcast contracts.
Adobe: Can you describe the production workflow?
Badminton: Being a small organization, we always wanted to create the show under one roof and that’s the crucial part of what Adobe Creative Cloud lets us do. We use Audition CC to collect and edit audio, Premiere Pro CC for animatics and final editing, After Effects CC for character composites and backgrounds, and we create the character art in Photoshop CC. Our animators can store artwork and layers created with Adobe tools in CelAction and work on scenes together. We then output .png sequences from CelAction to After Effects for comping and Premiere Pro for finalization.
Adobe: How long does it take to produce each episode?
Badminton: For each episode we assign one art director, two designers, one storyboard artist, one scriptwriter, one animation director, and four animators. A typical episode takes three weeks to produce in each department. The animators complete about six-and-a-half seconds a day for three weeks, which gets us to our six- and-a-half minute episode total.
Adobe: Tell us how you bring the audio and animation together.
Badminton: The singular drawn panels are brought into Premiere Pro and the JKL trimming feature in Premiere Pro lets us dynamically trim clips on the timeline. This saves us so much time because we cut hundreds of pictures into the animatic to show everyone what it will look like.
We edit all audio in house using Audition and we don’t lock the sound track before we do our storyboards because we find this limiting. We like having the flexibility to hone the voice tracks while we’re syncing everything together in Premiere Pro. Everything is adjustable until we lock the animatics, which gives us full control over the storytelling process.
Adobe: Why did you want to do everything in house?
Badminton: It was just crucial that we learned the lessons of making a TV show firsthand. If you start out working with a co-production company straightaway, you don’t know what parts of the process you can’t let out of your sight or what bits you can give more leeway. Adobe software absolutely enables us to do this for the right price.
Adobe: How much are we talking about in terms of cost?
Badminton: Film quality 3D animation can cost upwards of £200,000 per produced minute. Plus, it’s time consuming. The 3D rigging for the character Shrek took 18 months. In television, other producers are creating shows for about £12,000 per minute. Right now, we produce Sarah & Duck for about £8,500 per minute, which is relatively cheap.
I think that’s why a lot of other animation studios are also starting to use a similar process. Our show is seen by many as the benchmark for high quality on a tight budget. We’ve found the magic triangle of cheap, fast, and quality, which doesn’t happen very often.
Adobe: What would you say distinguishes Sarah & Duck from other shows?
Badminton: There are two main things I think we do differently. We give our art directors more time to develop backgrounds and other elements that provide tremendous on-screen value. We also crafted our workflows to enable creative flexibility.
The art director works on storyboard images and produces an art pack, which gets signed off before everything else moves forward. The rest of the team can then look at the art director’s layer files, use of textures, and other flourishes. The show looks quite organic, but the number of textures that we use will surprise people, which is cool. We may use rusted metal, or exotic tile from Marrakech to create unique textures, and those kinds of elements are totally unexpected in preschool TV. It gives our 2D animation a lot of depth and visual appeal.
The art pack is also the last time the BBC gets to approve artwork until we’re finished, so it’s a good production checkpoint. We budget three weeks per department for each show, but we try to be flexible. We want the design team to see what they can do with mixtures of After Effects, 2D puppet characters, and even frame-by-frame animation created in Photoshop. Our editor Mark came up with a great analogy in that the process of producing the show is a lot like watching a duck swimming. Ducks look like they’re gliding along the water, but underneath the surface, they’re kicking like crazy to create the effortlessness that people get to see.
Check out the video interview with Jamie Badminton from IBC 2014:
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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.
Check out the video interview with Philip Bloom from IBC 2014:
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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.
Check out the video interview with Bryn Balcombe:
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