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Feature film Buzzard edited with Adobe Premiere Pro CC
Premiering at SXSW 2014, Joel Potrykus’ film Buzzard purposely doesn’t fit a particular genre. A follow on to his first film, Ape, the movie tracks a deadbeat check scammer through Detroit and is chock full of 1980s references—chugging Mountain Dew, Nintendo jokes, and heavy metal music. Brandon Bowman joined the production by chance, and shares his first experience working on a feature film and editing with Adobe Premiere Pro CC.
Photo by Adam J. Minnick
Adobe: How did you get involved with Buzzard?
Bowman: I live in Seattle, Washington and I split my time between the restaurant industry and working as a freelance still photographer and videographer. I was visiting Austin, Texas on a vacation and have a family connection with Adam Minnick, who is childhood friends with Joel. For his follow up to Ape, which he shot himself, Joel wanted to hire Adam as his cinematographer. I told Adam that I would love to help in any way I can and ended up going to the shoot as a volunteer. In the end, I played a much larger role than I expected.
Adobe: What did you do on the film?
Bowman: Joel runs things pretty informally and as bare bones as possible. There were maybe 12 people in production and we all wore a lot of hats. I was the main point on all of the tech stuff. My official credit is assistant camera and assistant editor. I worked closely with Adam on lens, camera, and software selection. I was the one who introduced Premiere Pro CC to the team.
Photo by Jon Clay
Adobe: Why did you recommend Premiere Pro CC?
Bowman: I was previously a Final Cut Pro user and Joel edited Ape on Final Cut Pro. In pre-production we were talking about our hardware and software needs. I’d joined Creative Cloud and had been doing some tests with Premiere Pro CC. I recommended it because the film was going to be shot with a Canon 5D Mark III and I knew that we would be able to throw the H.264 files on the timeline without transcoding. Joel tested it out and agreed that we should use it for the edit.
Adobe: Was it easy to learn the software?
Bowman: I learned Premiere Pro for the production, mostly using training content on Adobe TV and Lynda.com. Coming from Final Cut Pro 7 it was fairly easy. Joel also found the transition to be simple. He’s very tech savvy and knowledgeable but he doesn’t like to be bogged down with details. For him, his script and actors are paramount.
Adobe: What was the production schedule?
Bowman: The film shot for five or six weeks in Grand Rapids and Detroit, Michigan. I came on several months before production and they were already deep into rehearsals and casting. Joel and Joshua Burge, the film’s lead actor, had a good working relationship and understanding of the character. Adam chose to shoot with the Canon 5D Mark III DSLR because it offered lower cost, as well as speed and storage simplicity. I started ingesting media, organizing drives, and syncing the sound for all of the clips during production, and then assembled a rough timeline for Joel before we started editing.
Photo by Jon Clay
Adobe: Tell us about the editing of the film.
Bowman: After shooting I returned to Seattle, Adam went back to Austin, and Joel stayed in Grand Rapids. We kept all of the post production in Premiere Pro and just passed the project files back and forth and update everything as we went along. We had full hard drives of all of the content in each location. Joel would go on extended, overnight editing binges and I would wake up in the morning and there would be a rough cut of half the movie. In a week he had the entire film fleshed out. It was pretty easy to work remotely and the crew would review all of the cuts on Vimeo every couple of weeks. In addition to assisting with the editing, I worked with Joel on the color correction and also handled the noise reduction and production of the final renders and exports for the DCP.
Adobe: Were there any particular challenges with the edit?
Bowman: The biggest post production trick was working with the DSLR files. Joel likes to shoot in a very natural way, so during production most of our challenges were to be nonexistent with no deliberate camera moves, odd angles, or unnatural lighting. We focused on getting everything right in camera so in the end we only had to tease the footage a bit in Premiere Pro. The film was minimally processed to keep it as natural looking as possible.
Photo by Adam J. Minnick
Adobe: What was your favorite feature in Premiere Pro CC?
Bowman: The feature that was the biggest deal to us was the native workflow. The ability to throw H.264 files on the Premiere Pro timeline and play them back in real time was definitely the biggest selling point for us. It was great to be able to start working right away without transcoding; that transcode step would have really bogged us down.
Adobe: Did you use any other Creative Cloud software?
Bowman: I’ve been a Creative Cloud member for six months and bouncing among the various software programs is really easy. We used Photoshop quite a bit for the title sequences and the ability to round trip between Photoshop and Premiere Pro was great. We also appreciated knowing we had the full library of Creative Cloud applications to fall back on, including SpeedGrade and After Effects, in case we needed them. On any future films I can see staying with the same software and even branching out a bit with SpeedGrade and After Effects.
Photo by Ashley Young
Adobe: What’s next for Buzzard after SXSW?
Bowman: The acceptance to SXSW already exceeded our expectations. Joel won Best New Director at the 2012 Locarno Film Festival for Ape, and Buzzard will be showing there for its international premiere. It’s also been accepted to the New Directors/New Films show in New York. Oscilloscope Laboratories acquired the North American rights to the film, so there will be more festival showings, followed by a theatrical release later in 2014.
For more – Watch an interview with Buzzard director Joel Potrykus
Watch the trailer
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Independent filmmakers create character-driven documentary about the pursuit of eternal youth
Co-directors and equal partners, Jason Sussberg and David Alvarado met in Stanford University’s Documentary Film and Video program. They worked on a few projects together and soon realized that they shared an interest in science and technology. After graduating with MFA degrees, they came together to make the documentary film The Immortalists about two scientists working to discover a cure for aging. Initially edited with Final Cut Pro, the team switched to Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Premiere Pro CC mid-production.
Adobe: Did you always know you wanted to be filmmakers?
Sussberg: I started making films when I was very young. In middle school I would create silly home videos with a group of friends. A lot of us are actually filmmakers today, including Patrick Brice whose film Creep is premiering the same day and in the same theater at SXSW as The Immortalists.
Alvarado: My path wasn’t as straightforward. A lack of direction led me to drop out of high school, but eventually I found that I was influenced by the fiction films that I saw. I enrolled in community college and then attended a four-year university before I was accepted to the Stanford program. Film saved the day for me and gave me a passion to pursue.
Adobe: When did you become interested in science?
Alvarado: I wanted to focus on documentary filmmaking and science touches on everything that’s interesting to me, from love to psychology to the environment. If you can make strong narratives around science then other people can more easily connect with your topic. It’s not just about making Nova science films; it’s about making character-driven, beautiful portraits about the people and subjects of science.
Adobe: How did you choose the topic of your film?
Sussberg: We started out trying to make a larger film about life-extension science, what it would mean to be immortal, and the philosophy of living a very, very long time. The two main characters of the film, Aubrey De Grey, PhD and Bill Andrews, PhD, didn’t come into our lives until just before we started producing the movie in December of 2011. Aubrey is a biomedical gerontologist and Bill is a molecular biologist and they are the top guys in the world trying to stop the aging process.
Alvarado: It’s such a complicated idea and I think that’s what drew us to it. Death is a topic that we all have to discuss eventually. With all of the baby boomers starting to retire, longevity is already at the precipice of being a huge crisis. It’s interesting to explore what these scientists are doing and what the consequences or benefits could be if they are successful.
Sussberg: Bill and Aubrey make the case, pretty convincingly, that other things have come along that seem impossible—such as traveling to the moon or flying an airplane—until they aren’t. They believe that the inevitability of death is just another engineering challenge to be conquered.
Alvarado: The film is based on the premise that biotechnology is growing stronger and stronger and eventually, if our medical technology advances enough, it may be possible to stop or reverse the aging process. The film was going to explore the topic to see if immortality is realistic or desirable. We realized that we could touch all of the topics we wanted but make it a more interesting narrative by following two particular scientists and exploring their motivations, what they think will happen, and why they don’t think it will be a disaster. Finding that story took us everywhere, from Tanzania, India, and England to China and all over the United States. It was a long journey and by the time we brought it to the editing table it was about making the journey translate into something people could be actively engaged with for 80 minutes.
Sussberg: Once we settled on making a portrait of the two scientists we hit the ground running. We shot from December 2011 to December 2012. When we finished, we had a rough cut that was an ugly duckling, but we knew something was there. We continued to shoot and tease out the story until the spring of 2013, then went into finishing and post production, which took us through the summer. This type of project doesn’t have a defined end, but it seemed like we were relatively locked by the fall of 2013 so we started applying to festivals.
Adobe: When did you finish the film?
Alvarado: We were actually finishing filming as recently as February 2014. Someone dies and we felt it was something that we needed to include in the film. These scientists are trying to live forever, but they are also having to deal with the death of people close to them. When we film them coping with death the audience gets to make up their own minds about the main characters’ relationship with death and why they are doing what they do.
Adobe: When did Premiere Pro CC officially become the main editing platform for The Immortalists?
Alvarado: Two-thirds of the way through The Immortalists we decided to do a couple of short films to test the Premiere Pro workflow and it was great. We could easily drop After Effects files onto the timeline and it supported a variety of video formats. That’s when we decided to float everything over to Premiere Pro for all of the final touches and exports.
Sussberg: Because we started the project in Final Cut Pro it would have been reckless to just switch over in the middle. We did cut the trailers and promo materials in Premiere Pro and did all of the finishing editing.
Alvarado: Basically, the last six months of a year-and-a-half long edit was done in Premiere Pro.
Adobe: Had you ever used Premiere Pro for editing before this project?
Sussberg: Premiere Pro has come into my life three times. It is the first editing software I ever touched in high school. I used Final Cut Pro in college but switched back to Premiere Pro when I worked as a broadcast producer/editor at the San Francisco Giants. In graduate school we used Final Cut Pro, but I was happy to switch back to Premiere Pro again recently. The integration with Adobe After Effects and Photoshop is so great. I love being able to design something in After Effects and bring it into Premiere Pro without rendering.
Alvarado: I’ve worked with Premiere Pro, Avid, and Final Cut Pro for editing. When everyone started switching from Final Cut Pro, I decided to switch back to Premiere Pro because it offers me robust editing capabilities, as well as integration with Photoshop and After Effects.
Adobe: Are there any features in Premiere Pro that would have benefited you during editing?
Alvarado: We shot on a variety of formats—Canon C100, 5D Mark II, and 7D Mark II, as well as a Panasonic AF100 and a 3D camera. We had to spend a lot of time and hard drive space converting everything to one particular file format. If we’d been using Premiere Pro we could have easily brought in all of the different formats and they would have worked on the timeline. That’s what we’ve been finding with our other short projects. Premiere Pro saves hard drive space and easily works with multiple formats.
Adobe: Have you made any other discoveries since you began using Creative Cloud?
Sussberg: Dynamic Link between Premiere Pro and After Effects is something that’s taken for granted. With Final Cut Pro we were constantly exporting and importing sequences in After Effects. The ability to move between the two programs and import things without transcoding makes the workflow so incredibly easy. Overall, I think it’s best when the technology dissolves into the background and you’re just dealing with the story. Premiere Pro is an editing program that is intuitive and doesn’t make its presence known, which is what I want.
Alvarado: One huge and wonderful thing we’ve found is Adobe Media Encoder. Every type of output we could want is there and we can build a queue with multiple export formats.
Adobe: Do you think the Creative Cloud model is beneficial for creatives?
Alvarado: Adobe Creative Cloud is the first software I’ve wanted to purchase in the last several years. People are willing to pay for a good product, and in an age of piracy we’re happy to pay for Creative Cloud.
Sussberg: Software is egregiously priced and it’s prohibitively expensive, especially for students. I teach at Diablo Valley College and it’s just heartbreaking to tell students that they need to spend thousands of dollars just to get what they need to be students. Adobe Creative Cloud is at a price point that students can afford. For a 10 to 12 week class at $20 a month, it is less than a textbook. As an independent documentary filmmaker I feel perfectly fine spending money for a monthly membership to Creative Cloud. The price point is low enough that it no longer leaves a bad taste in our mouths as independent producers.
Adobe: What are the next steps for the film?
Alvarado: We want to go to Sheffield Doc/Fest, and a few other A-list festivals have reached out to us for submissions. We’re also working with The Film Collaborative in Los Angeles, which helps place films in festivals. Ultimately we hope to make a big domestic sale and we already have interest from three large domestic broadcasters.
Sussberg: Even if we do sell The Immortalists, we’re committed to independent film. Our next project will be independent and we’ll still use the same tools because they help us do what we do efficiently and affordably.
For more – watch an interview with Alvarado and Sussberg at SXSW 2014
Watch the trailer
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Television commercial editor delivers stunning spots using Adobe Creative Cloud workflow
Our friend Adam Pertofsky at Rock Paper Scissors has been busy these last few months. Since we last talked with him, he’s completed the third part of the Captain Morgan series of commercials and cut three additional spots, one of which aired during the Super Bowl. We took a few minutes to catch up with him on his recent projects and use of Adobe Creative Cloud.
Adobe: Tell us about the Super Bowl commercial you worked on.
Pertofsky: It is the 60-second “Going All The Way” Coca-Cola spot that aired during the second half of the game. We worked on it with Wieden+Kennedy. I did all of the editing in Premiere Pro CC, as well as some color correction for the client presentation. It is a really sweet, classic, spot that a lot of people will be moved by and enjoy.
Adobe: What other projects have you worked on?
Pertofsky: I cut a simple, funny commercial for Chevy that will air during the Winter Games. It was an easy process of working in Premiere Pro to do cuts and throw in some graphics using the Luma Key. I also used the title tool in Premiere Pro to set up a string of options for the creative director to look at and it was amazing and super simple.
Adobe: Did you use any other Adobe tools on this project?
Pertofsky: I’ve been using a lot of Adobe Media Encoder, which I find really fast and terrific. Recently, I was at my daughter’s volleyball practice and I needed to do some unexpected cut downs for the Chevy spot. I jumped into the back of my car, set up the project, did the cut downs, threw them into Adobe Media Encoder and was able to upload them using my phone.
Adobe: What’s the biggest project you’ve worked on recently?
Pertofsky: I cut a four-and-a-half minute commercial for Samsung with R/GA San Francisco. In the spot, aliens take over the earth and challenge the world to a game of football (soccer). It is a massive spot with a lot of variations and the version I worked on ties everything together. I used a lot of tools within Premiere Pro and a lot of After Effects CC, which was terrific. Reframing things and putting them in the right position before sending everything to the post house for final finishing was so easy and fast in Premiere Pro.
Adobe: How do you feel about the Captain Morgan series you completed?
Pertofsky: The last Captain Morgan spot came out great and I’m really proud of it. The project involved heavy use of After Effects and Premiere Pro. I love knowing that when I have a big effects gig going I have powerful programs that I can work with to make the offline presentation look good. For the Captain Morgan spot I used Adobe After Effects to create a garbage matte around an object that let me move things around easily and quickly, which was a huge help. Moving elements around and reframing is much easier and faster thanks to Dynamic Link; I can line everything up in Premiere Pro, quickly jump into After Effects, and then easily go back and open the project in Premiere Pro again with all of the moves applied.
Adobe: Now that you’ve been working with Adobe Premiere Pro CC for a while, have you made any new discoveries?
Pertofsky: One of the tools that works great in Adobe Premiere Pro is mixing on the fly. I can set it up, mix the spot, and it leaves keyframes behind that I can manipulate further later. A lot of times as I’m showing a rough cut to a client I’m actually mixing it in Adobe Premiere Pro at the same time. Then when they ask to watch it again, I’m just fixing the mix and it speeds up the whole process. This is also useful because clients don’t have the appetite to look at rough cuts, they want to see it as close to finished as possible without paying for it to be finished. We have to do as much as possible in the cutting room to make it look good. All of the LUTs that are in Adobe Premiere Pro are terrific for doing quick color changes.
Adobe: Are there any other tools that help speed your workflow?
Pertofsky: I have an NVIDIA Quadro K5000 and it makes me completely forget about rendering. With everything going in and out of After Effects and adding effects in Premiere Pro, it never slows me down.
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Broadcaster uses Adobe Creative Cloud workflow to create opener promoting the winter games
The Winter Games are a chance for us to witness magic moments of incredibly artistry and athleticism of the amazing athletes competing there. But in order for us to do so, broadcasters around the world spent months preparing for that short period of intense coverage. For Swiss Radio and Television (SRF), a publicly funded broadcaster serving the German speaking part of Switzerland, the preparations included creating a stunning opener that builds excitement for audiences tuning in to the games. Patrick Arnecke, head of design and promotion, leads the creative team responsible for design and production of the on air campaign.
Adobe: Tell us about the Swiss Radio and Television.
Arnecke: The SRF is a publicly funded broadcaster that serves the German speaking part of Switzerland. We maintain two full blown 24/7 TV channels, a TV repeat channel for news programs, seven radio channels, and an extensive online portal.
Adobe: What teams do you work with at the SRF and what do they produce?
Arnecke: I’m the head of the design and promotion team. The design team consists of 25 designers who do all corporate design, motion graphics and interaction design for SRF. Creatively they are responsible for channel brandings, campaigns, image clips and labels as well as show packagings. We also do all of the 2D and 3D animation used for our TV magazines and news shows. The promotion team has 11 editors and promo producers who work on traditional on-air trailers as well as cross media campaigns.
Adobe: Tell us about the work you’ve done for the Winter Games?
Arnecke: Last year during the summer we started to rethink our overall sports design. We have various sports programs on air and wanted to repackage the whole set of shows for SRF zwei, our main entertainment and sports channel. We regularly cover huge events like the Winter Games for the Swiss audience, and we needed to come up with a solution for those events as well, and tie that into the overall design.
We decided to center our redesign around the core idea of the “magic moment” – these rare moments when extraordinary athletic performance seems almost supernatural. We then spent five days shooting all the necessary plates using RED Epic and Phantom Flex cameras, special camera rigs with a high speed camera carousel, and a huge 15m x 9m x 7.5m green screen area. Among others we staged ice hockey, alpine skiing, figure skating, snowboarding, ski jumping, and cross country skiing. Everything was conceptualized, directed, and pre- and post-produced by four in-house designers. From that footage we produced a 28-second opener for our Sochi coverage along with the show packaging, and the promo teasers that we used to ramp up the campaign in January.
Adobe: What products are you using to produce your content?
Arnecke: Right now we have a mix of Adobe Creative Cloud and Creative Suite 6 software. On the design team we use Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Our main tool for 2D animation is After Effects, and we rely on CINEMA 4D as our main 3D package. The closer relationship between Adobe and MAXON and the strong connection between CINEMA 4D and After Effects comes in very handy for our pipeline.
At the beginning of 2013 we started using Edge Animate to create small, interactive HTML5 elements to give our online news articles more depth and interactivity. For our video content, we started to work with SpeedGrade to give content from different sources a uniform look. During the last months we switched to Premiere Pro as our main editing tool, which replaces Final Cut Pro.
Adobe: What was the workflow for creating the Sochi opener?
Arnecke: In pre-production the responsible designers Martin Bernhard (director) and Simon Renfer (co-director) used Photoshop, with Wacom tablets and screens, to create the storyboards. On set and after the shoot was completed, we used SpeedGrade to convert the Phantom material and then edited the content in Premiere Pro. Lead 3D Artists Jürg Dummermuth and Simone Nucci did all of the 3D CGI with CINEMA 4D. In addition to using After Effects for previsualization and animatics, it was also used for 2D animation, keying, rotoscoping, retouching, compositing, and grading. We’ve done a lot of smaller projects such as show openers and image trailers using Premiere Pro, but the Sochi opener is one of the biggest projects we’ve done to date with the new workflow.
Adobe: Why did you make the switch to Premiere Pro?
Arnecke: After Apple didn´t continue Final Cut Pro, we were looking for alternatives. The pipeline efficiencies that let us easily switch between Premiere Pro and After Effects are important to us. Premiere Pro is especially useful if we shoot on RED cameras because thanks to the Mercury Playback Engine we don’t have to convert and we can edit right away. We usually like to edit on set to see if what we’ve shot is exactly what we need.
Adobe: Tell us how you’re using Adobe Edge Animate CC?
Arnecke: We have a small team of designers who work on infographics for our daily news shows. We use graphical content created for on air programming, add interactivity and repackage that content for our news articles online. For example, for the election of Pope Franziskus or the 50th anniversary of the President Kennedy assassination we created interactive explanatory pieces with Edge Animate. These interactives give more depth to our news articles online and typically take us one to three days to produce—last year we did more than 150 of these.
See examples of the infographics here
Adobe: What is next for your team?
Arnecke: We’re planning a seven day shoot that will take place in March for our summer sports. With the success of the winter sports workflow, we’ll be using a similar setup.
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Freelance video pro relies on Adobe Creative Cloud to edit documentary about Bordeaux wine
Paul Murphy studied writing in school, but his first job was with a publishing house overseeing the production of promotional videos for new books. He was instantly intrigued so he bought a copy of Adobe Premiere Pro and started creating the videos himself. Eventually he left publishing to focus full time on editing and motion graphics design. Murphy recently completed work on Red Obsession, a documentary about the Bordeaux wine industry and the impact of China’s overwhelming demand. The film recently earned the Australian Academy award (AACTA) for best feature documentary.
Adobe: Can you tell us a little more about Red Obsession?
Murphy: Warwick Ross, the film’s co-director and co-writer, was approached by an Australian Master of Wine who told him that something interesting was happening related to the supply and demand of wine in Bordeaux. Warwick took a crew to Bordeaux and captured 50 hours of footage that revealed more than just a basic “behind the scenes of the wine industry” story. The wealthy Chinese had decided that they didn’t want to drink traditional Chinese alcohol anymore; they wanted to drink the best Bordeaux wine and were willing to pay for it. Ultimately, Warwick decided to use the wine industry as a microcosm to show what was going on in the global economy. Bordeaux used to sell most of its wine to the U.S. and U.K., but when the economic crisis cut consumption, the Chinese came in and started buying.
Adobe: How did you become involved in the project?
Murphy: Previously, I had worked with Warwick on a short documentary about World War II, and we developed a great relationship. Warwick asked me to work on this new film, and I was eager. We agreed that we didn’t want it to feel like a wine documentary with boring “chocolate box” shots of vineyards and Vivaldi playing in the background. We wanted it to be visually stunning, edgy, and interesting. Ultimately, the film became a story about two very different cultures—French and Chinese—coming together over wine.
Adobe: What did you do with the first 50 hours of footage?
Murphy: I started going through the footage with the directors and figuring out what was going to work and what wasn’t. Our first task was to create a six-minute trailer with the themes of the story set to music to attract private investors. While we were working on the trailer, the story was still playing out in Bordeaux. The French had pushed up the prices but then the Chinese became fickle about what they wanted to drink and stopped buying. The prices of Bordeaux wines crashed 45% overnight. The crew made three or four more trips to France as well as to China, Shanghai, and Hong Kong and we wound up with 100 hours of footage shot over about a year. At that point, I relied on my roots in writing and storytelling to find the arc of the story and cull everything down.
Adobe: Why did you select Adobe Premiere Pro to edit the project?
Murphy: I have used Premiere Pro since the beginning of my freelance editing and motion graphics career. I’ve dabbled in Avid and Final Cut Pro, but I love the Premiere Pro interface. I know it inside and out, and it allows me to work quickly and confidently. For this project, there was some debate about what software we should use because some people thought Premiere Pro couldn’t be used on a feature-length film. I showed them how I could go into the timeline and locate a frame in the source file. I also demonstrated using Premiere Pro for speech analysis. We had 70 40-minute interviews and we used speech analysis on half of them, which made editing much faster. Red Obsession also has some complex motion graphics, so the integration between After Effects and Premiere Pro really helped to pull it together. It was definitely the right choice for the film.
Adobe: Tell us more about the motion graphics in the film.
Murphy: We were editing for about 10 months before we moved on to our motion graphics work in After Effects. In the film, we make visual references to news articles, and fly in and out of scenes. In one instance, we fly out of a scene and at the end the viewer is looking at a 3D image of a label on a wine bottle. The opening title sequence was also created in After Effects, with names of the people working on the film floating in space within a huge, expensive winery. It involved a lot of beautiful track shots, and I was grateful for the 3D Camera Tracker in After Effects.
Adobe: What other Adobe technologies were involved?
Murphy: I used a lot of InDesign for the end title layout, which I imported into After Effects for animation. I also used Illustrator for titling, as well as Photoshop for graphics. I always use Encore to create DVDs or Blu-ray disks for sharing and review.
Adobe: What’s happening with the film now?
Murphy: It debuted at the Berlin Film Festival and has also been shown at the Tribeca Film Festival, the Sydney Film Festival, and others. It’s done very well, and is available in theaters in Australia and on video-on-demand and iTunes in the United States.
Adobe: Did you edit this project using Adobe Creative Cloud?
Murphy: This project occurred before Creative Cloud was available, but I will be moving to Creative Cloud soon and I’m looking forward to it. I am anxious to try Prelude CC to manage my footage, metadata, and comments in one place. I had my own database for this, but would welcome the Prelude option. I’m also very excited to try After Effects CC. The fact that you can now bring Cinema 4D files directly into After Effects without rendering is amazing. I’d also like to try SpeedGrade CC for color grading. A good portion of Red Obsession was shot on ARRI Alexa cameras and after editing the footage, I showed rough cuts to the directors in a kind of milky, un-color-corrected state. I would have loved to use SpeedGrade CC to show them something that would look more like the final color. Overall, I’m excited to move to Creative Cloud because I like the idea of getting continuous updates, rather than waiting a year or longer for a new release.
Learn more about the video apps and services in Adobe Creative Cloud
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Watch Paul’s tutorial explaining how he created the titles for Red Obsession using InDesign Pro
Red Obsession is now available on DVD and VOD in US and Australia.
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Short film shot on RED in 4k edited on Macbook Pro using Adobe Premiere Pro software
Diffan Norman is not just a filmmaker, he’s a multidisciplinary artist, filmmaker, and designer. His nine minute short film Kekasih, which won the Audience Choice Award at Kelab Seni Filem Malaysia, had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Norman credits his Adobe workflow with helping him realize his vision for the film.
Poster by Iman Raad
Adobe: Tell us about your background.
Norman: I’m originally from Malaysia. I earned my bachelor of fine arts degree at the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, California. I started out directing music videos and short films. My first short film, Wanita Cosmos, was about a Malaysian woman who is chosen to travel into space. It was shown at ResFest, The International Film Festival of Rotterdam, The 27th Clermont Ferrand International Short Film Fest, and The New York Asian American International Film Festival.
I eventually moved to Los Angeles and became absorbed working with boutique studios, including Brand New School and National Television. I initially worked as a freelancer, but ultimately took a full-time job as senior animator and designer at National Television. We produced commercials, print ads, and other motion graphics work for clients. I like to think this was where I earned my Master’s degree.
Adobe: When were you first introduced to Adobe software?
Norman: In 1994, a friend and I played in a band that never existed and we wanted to make an album cover for our cassette recordings. He had Photoshop on his computer and we were completely blown away by the facet/cell filter. When I got to college I learned After Effects. I didn’t know anything about motion graphics and was very attracted to what After Effects could do.
Adobe: How did you decide to make Kekasih?
Norman: I started out in DV filmmaking and animation. After Otis I worked for about five to six years in boutique studios in and around Los Angeles that mainly produced live and animated commercials, and music videos with a particular appreciation for motion graphics. After my father’s passing, I realized I wanted to get back to what I originally set out to do. I wrote the script for Kekasih a few years ago, and my father and I would discuss the theme of the film, as well as details such as whether it should be animated or live action. After he died, I cleaned out his office and found a copy of the script on his desk. That’s when I decided to make the film.
Adobe: What was your process?
Norman: I needed financial help to make the film, so I applied for and received a multimedia grant from The National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS). The organization gives out two grants, one at the beginning of the year and one at the end of the year, and the requirement is that you make a short film. In addition to the funds I received from the FINAS, I also helped finance it myself. We got two veteran actors, Nasir Bilan Khan and Fauziah Nawi, who don’t usually do short films, to participate in the project. They liked the story so much that they jumped on board.
Adobe: How were Adobe tools used in the production of Kekasih?
Norman: We shot the film on a RED camera and edited it using Adobe Premiere Pro. I’d used Premiere Pro on Wanita Cosmos, which was drawn in Photoshop and animated in After Effects. I hadn’t edited anything in a few years, but I wanted to use Premiere Pro for the film because of the intuitive RED workflow.
Adobe: What did you like most about working with Adobe video tools?
Norman: Premiere Pro let me watch 4k footage without losing quality, easily add sound, and output the film quickly. Being able to edit RED footage on a Macbook Pro using Premiere Pro was really fascinating.
Overall, the Adobe products allowed me to take ideas that I had in my head, such as the animated inspiration sequences in Kekasih, and make them happen. I’m most attracted to the immediacy that Adobe products enable. I have the ideas, I have the tools, and I can do it. For Kekasih, I created everything in Adobe products – the graphics, trailer, postcards, animated sequences, Instagram teaser, and the film itself. I cannot imagine doing all of this without Adobe products. I’ve also just joined Adobe Creative Cloud, and I’m looking forward to working with even more tools to explore different looks, styles, and creative directions.
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Film about American music history comes together beautifully with Adobe video workflow
The feature-length documentary This May Be the Last Time doesn’t only detail the history of the Seminole community’s ancient songs of faith and hope, it also explores their connection to Director Sterlin Harjo’s own personal history. It’s his first documentary project, but not his first time premiering at the Sundance Film Festival or his first experience working with Adobe software. Together with his filmmaking partner Matt Leach, Harjo is fully immersed in the Adobe video workflow and the duo are happy to share how it has supported their efforts and fueled their creativity.
Photo credit: Sterlin Harjo
Adobe: Tell us about your backgrounds.
Harjo: I’m from Oklahoma and I’m a member of the Seminole and Muscogee (Creek) tribes. I’ve been making films since my early- to mid-20s. I was invited into the Sundance Feature Film Program when I was 23 and received a lot of support through the Sundance Institute. My first short film Goodnight Irene premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005 and I’ve had two other films—Four Sheets to the Wind and Barking Water—that also debuted at the festival.
Leach: I studied film at Oklahoma University and when I graduated I started doing music videos. One was on MTV and another was shown at South by Southwest. I also worked in news and advertising for a couple of years, working on a variety of projects, until I met Sterlin.
Photo credit: Royce Sharp
Adobe: How did you two connect?
Harjo: Matt and I went to school together but we never met. We were both living in Tulsa and working in the film industry, so we got together and started trying to figure out how we could combine our talents. There was a new company in town called This Land Press that was publishing a magazine featuring long form journalism. We pitched them on creating some online video work and ended up doing some online documentaries and videos with the same journalistic style. We had been using Final Cut Pro, but we were shooting with DSLR cameras with a more “run and gun” style and fast turnaround times, so we made the switch to Adobe Premiere Pro.
Leach: We ended up doing a 12 episode TV show called This Land that was all edited on Premiere Pro. With just a two man operation, it was the only way for us to work quickly and deliver the quality we wanted in the given timeframe. I originally learned Premiere Pro in 2000, so going back to it was familiar, and a lot better. It enabled us to do more of the work we wanted to do quickly and affordably. Premiere Pro has made all the work we’ve done in the last three years possible.
Photo credit: Jessie Harjo
Adobe: How did you decide to make This May Be the Last Time?
Harjo: It was a story that I had always wanted to tell, so I pitched it to the team at This Land Press and they were excited and wanted to do it. Originally, it was just about the songs of the Seminole community and their story and history. As we made the film it became obvious that one of the main stories that needed to be told was my story and my connection to the songs. I feel like the finished film is part musical and part documentary.
Adobe: How did the process differ from your past films?
Harjo: It wasn’t actually that different. We shot the film in just six months and we were editing the whole time. This was the first really personal film I’d done about me and my family. Most documentaries take at least two years to shoot. But because I’m a narrative filmmaker I took a fiction storytelling approach and it went much more quickly. It also helped that I knew the material and most of the people we interviewed were people I know personally so a level of trust was already established. I felt like I’d been researching this film my whole life.
Photo credit: Shane Brown
Adobe: What other Adobe products do you use?
Leach: For This May Be the Last Time we used Premiere Pro, Audition, After Effects, and Media Encoder. The poster for the film was created using Photoshop and Illustrator.
Harjo: The poster is really beautiful. It was made by a friend of mine, Ryan Redcorn, who does really amazing work.
Adobe: When did you begin using Adobe Creative Cloud?
Leach: We started this project just before Creative Cloud was announced, so we were hesitant to switch in the middle. We ultimately ended up making the switch so we could use After Effects CC for a lot of the graphics shots. We also used the latest versions to finish up the last tweaks to graphics and photo animations. The Detail Preserving Upscale Effect in After Effects CC was particularly useful for the archival footage in the film because it helped us keep everything sharp.
Harjo: We shot the film with a Canon C100 and there were a lot of handheld shots. Warp Stabilizer in Premiere Pro CC really saved us on some shots.
Photo credit: Shane Brown
Adobe: What do you like about Creative Cloud?
Leach: It’s really helpful just to be able to have access to everything online through Creative Cloud. If we’re out in the middle of nowhere and someone sends us a file we can easily download the relevant application in just a few minutes. Creative Cloud isn’t just for low budget filmmakers. When we started working on the film there weren’t many people using Premiere Pro, but now almost all of the editors I talk to are using it.
Harjo: The efficiency we get from Premiere Pro alone is worth the cost of Creative Cloud. The ability to bring files into Premiere Pro without spending an extra five hours converting, combined with the hard drive space we save is really amazing.
Watch the trailer: http://vimeo.com/83448294
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Small team produces hours of professional football content each week using Adobe Creative Cloud
The St. Louis Rams have celebrated victories and suffered losses during the 2013 football season thus far—however, videos produced by the Rams Broadcasting Network are always a big win. The network creates everything from videos introducing cheerleaders and players, game-winning plays, interviews with coaches, and more entertaining content that make it fun to be a fan. Video Manager Chris Slepokura sat down to tell us more about the Rams’ content strategy and how the videos are produced for broadcast, online, and mobile delivery using Adobe Creative Cloud software.
Adobe: Tell us more about who you are and what you do.
Slepokura: I’m the Video Manager of the Broadcasting and Creative Department we call the Rams Broadcasting Network. We produce content for the web, in-game video boards, and three TV shows that are air on our local affiliates. All of this content is edited with Adobe Premiere Pro CC. We also use Photoshop CC for photo editing, After Effects CC for motion graphics, and Illustrator CC for graphics, logos, and so on, to make it all happen.
Adobe: How long have you been with the Rams?
Slepokura: This is my fourth season with the team. I was brought on as Video Producer to help build out a fledgling broadcasting operation. Over the past three years, we’ve grown tremendously. From just me acting as a lone editor to now seven workstations and six editors we have the ability to create amazing content our fans can enjoy.
Adobe: Can you tell us more about the content you’re producing and how Adobe Premiere Pro fits in?
Slepokura: Our main focus is TV content because we produce three shows. To create the content, all assets are stored in a centralized server that each workstation can connect to. We use Premiere Pro and import media from our server in raw format. We previously used Final Cut Pro, and we had to constantly import and wait for a while for media to transcode to ProRes. That pain is gone now, because we can import into Premiere Pro immediately without transcoding. It makes the workflow much quicker so TV shows are ready to go sooner to make deadlines.
Adobe: Can you estimate how much time you are saving now that you’ve moved from Final Cut Pro to Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
Slepokura: We ingest media at different times, but I would estimate the entire production team saving about two hours per day. Even if we saved just an hour a day, that time ads up. We all shoot, ingest, and edit. If we have a home game on a Monday and we shoot a ton of footage, then it takes longer to ingest, so consequently we’re saving more time on those days. Regardless, just working with raw files in Premiere Pro saves a ton of time. We can also sketch out and present ideas and discuss them with my boss on the spot. He’s always accessible and amenable to a lot of back and forth. Adobe software makes it possible to be more immediate, not to mention very fun, loose, and collaborative. That brings out the best in everyone.
Adobe: What cameras do you use?
Slepokura: We have a RED EPIC and also shoot on Canon EOS C100s and C300s. They are all digital, cinema-based cameras. To make things look different, we also use a camera slider, jib, Contour helmet cams, and other cool equipment.
Adobe: When you switched from Final Cut Pro to Adobe Premiere Pro, how was the transition?
Slepokura: Everyone picked up Premiere Pro really quickly. The learning curve is similar if you know any type of video editing software. We knew we had the option of mapping the Final Cut Pro keyboard shortcuts in Premiere Pro, but passed on that because we wanted the whole team to know the Premiere Pro shortcuts. It has been great because we use After Effects a lot and the commands and shortcuts are similar.
Adobe: Tell us more about the TV shows. What type of content do they feature?
Slepokura: Rams 360 is a sports documentary that follows a week in the life of a player. It recently won three Emmy awards (Editor-Sports, Audio, Sports Regularly Scheduled Program). Another show is RamsNation, a magazine-style program with five segments that may include a wired segment with a player or coach, a community appearance, or a fun interview with a cheerleader. The third show, What to Watch, is a type of pre-game show in the studio with hosts and a ton of graphics and highlights. These are typically shown on FOX Sports Midwest, our local FOX network, and our local FOX/CBS station. We repurpose the content for the website as well.
Adobe: Tell us about the in-game footage. How quickly are you putting things up?
Slepokura: We come to each game with pre-produced material: graphics, highlight videos, interviews, cheerleader profiles, opening videos, and sponsor elements. There are 22 time-outs in football and those breaks need to be filled with our best creative content. While the fans are watching the video boards our production team is filming our next “Wired” segment and also capturing b-roll for Rams360.
Adobe: How are you using other Adobe applications?
Slepokura: Our motion graphics designer uses After Effects and Photoshop a ton, as well as CINEMA 4D to create 3D graphics. The integration with CINEMA 4D in After Effects CC has been a great addition. The workflow is a lot smoother.
Adobe: What do you like about working with Adobe Creative Cloud?
Slepokura: Creative Cloud lets us easily access all the applications we need on all seven of our connected computers. We love it because it is so much easier to download the software via the cloud than use a disc and worry about licensing complexities.
Adobe: What future plans do you have?
Slepokura: We want our videos to reach more fans so we can gain new fans. Give them access to their favorite players so they can connect with them on a more personal level.
Adobe: Compared to what other teams do, is what you’re doing typical?
Slepokura: I don’t know what every team is doing, but we’re trying to be cutting-edge, and I believe we are. Keeping things in-house, and utilizing the newest and latest technology keeps our content fresh.
Adobe: How does your schedule change from in-season to off-season?
Slepokura: Off-season, we are not producing the same deadline-driven TV shows. Instead, we are stockpiling content for the shows: building graphics for in-stadium; graphics for TV shows; or doing lots of pre-production that goes on creating new elements for the season. It is not the same workflow, so it’s a little bit of a breather though there is still a lot to accomplish before the season begins. NFL Draft, Scouting Combine, mini-camps, community appearances, etc., are events we cover in the offseason. So, the good news is, the fun never ends!
Workflow based on Adobe Prelude, Adobe Premiere Pro, and MediaSilo speeds content distribution to more outlets
With the CMT Music Awards airing tonight, we thought you might be interested in learning about how the production team behind these award shows captures, edits, and distributes all the great supplemental content. From red carpet interviews to show promos, the content needs to move quickly and reach a range of media outlets. Here, Jason Pattan, director of content production and technology management for MTV Music Group, talks about how that workflow has evolved to include Adobe Prelude, Adobe Premiere Pro, and MediaSilo, and has improved both accessibility and speed of delivery.
Adobe: What do you do as director of content production and technology management?
Pattan: My title is a really long winded way of saying I’m a workflow guy. I find different tools to make production life easier, try them out, and do real world testing before rolling them out to our general production community at MTV. My job is to figure out what works and what doesn’t before deciding to do a live show with it.
Adobe: How does MTV Music Group work with MediaSilo?
Pattan: We’ve been working with MediaSilo from a review and approval standpoint for a while. We were initially using it for basic production – getting rid of DVDs in our workflow, sending clips out, and getting people working in a collaborative space that they could access anywhere they have an internet connection. During this time, we noticed that there was a lot of functionality available through the MediaSilo platform that we could exploit for different types of production needs. We started wondering how we could work it into our live shows and big events.
Adobe: Tell us about the live shows and “red carpet workflow” needs.
Pattan: Every quarter we have what we call tentpole events, which may be a large show such as the CMT Music Awards, Video Music Awards, the Woodies, VH1 Divas, and more. We know how to make the TV part of these productions, we’ve been doing it for years, but there is also a lot of ancillary production that goes into those shows and there’s a lot of work we can do to make it better. At all events we have press areas where people go after they’ve won the awards. We do basic interviews and our goal is to use the interviews internally and distribute to press outlets as well.
In the past, our team would shoot a red carpet event, run to the satellite truck to upload the footage, do some editing, and then have the feed grabbed by whoever needed it. This worked well for television programs and broadcasts, however it wasn’t effective in getting content on websites and social channels quickly. We also encountered problems with the uploads not reaching the correct satellite feeds and it could take more than three hours post-show to get two hours of footage uploaded. I’ve spent many nights sitting in a satellite truck at 2 a.m. trying to upload content.
Adobe: Why did you feel you needed to make changes to the red carpet workflow?
Pattan: Our red carpet workflow made sense 10 years ago when we were just sending content to media outlets with the right infrastructure to download it from the satellite. But today, we need to get content to blogs, websites, and other outlets that aren’t going to pay to download the content from the satellite.
Adobe: How did you start to modify this workflow?
Pattan: We wanted to create a faster, more accessible solution. Our first step in this direction, was capturing the footage digitally, rather than on tape, and using firewire to transfer it to a laptop. We still fed it into the satellite and played it out, but we also posted a proxy on the MediaSilo site. We put the proxies up and embedded a MediaSilo player in the MTV press page. Our audiences could view the content, but they still had to be on the satellite if they wanted to grab the footage. It didn’t solve the problem, but it helped everyone start thinking about online distribution.
Adobe: What was the next step in modernizing your workflow?
Pattan: We still wanted a way to get content out to everyone in a way that didn’t involve sitting in a satellite truck at 2 a.m. Every year, we cover the MTVU Woodie Awards at SXSW. Everyone important to college music is there, and we interview all of them. From there, the team took the content from the file-based camera and fed it into a laptop. We then ingested the clips into Adobe Prelude and entered basic metadata that the team wants on MediaSilo and that also tied back to the internal asset management system. Interviews contained content for a variety of outlets, including press, internal teams, international audiences, etc. The need to deliver content for multiple stakeholders increased the need to move quickly and efficiently in a small mobile location.
With Adobe Prelude, we were able to make subclips for each stakeholder, tag them appropriately, and transfer the footage to Adobe Premiere Pro. From there, it was edited and uploaded to MediaSilo using Adobe Media Encoder. The MediaSilo content distribution portal is where all of the press outlets and internal teams went to fetch the broadcast-quality content that was ready for distribution. In this way, all departments that weren’t being serviced were now able to secure content. By the time the last interview was done, the upload was completed within 20 minutes.
Adobe: What is the advantage of using Adobe Prelude?
Pattan: Adobe Prelude is a separate logging tool, accessed through Adobe Creative Cloud, with a simple interface for logging quickly without worrying about a full NLE. In Adobe Prelude, we can do a transcode on ingest, make the proxy, rename files, and move them to a different destination. In addition, when content is ingested in Adobe Prelude we can set up metadata profiles with pre-set values. Basic fields correspond to the clips being ingested. When creating subclips, Adobe Prelude gives an entire view of the asset and the subclip within the media file. It also makes it easier to add comments and organize. Once this is done, sending content to Adobe Premiere Pro is a more efficient process.
Adobe: How is the workflow between Adobe and MediaSilo?
Pattan: Adobe Media Encoder allows you to set up an FTP destination, which can be set to MediaSilo’s Amazon S3 account, where files are automatically imported along with embedded XMP. MediaSilo accepts direct FTP with embedded metadata, so it is extremely efficient. The XMP support in MediaSilo is key to this workflow. We can capture all metadata at the point of ingest in Prelude, and it is automatically carried through into MediaSilo through the automatic XMP import, and then published on the Portal. It’s great because it reduces the number of times the video and metadata has to be touched, and allows us to decide which items are published to the portal, as well as deciding what information is displayed on the portal, all from the point of ingest.
We used MediaSilo’s open API and portal sample to set up our own media portal for distribution and video sharing, internally and externally. In combination with Prelude and XMP support, the full end to end solution provides maximum efficiency from shooting the video to publishing it online.
Adobe: What does this new workflow mean to outlets that want this content?
Pattan: This enhanced workflow enabled us to distribute a large amount of content in a very short amount of time. Anyone can access what they need simply by going to the portal and downloading the XDCAM footage. When a show is live to tape, which means it is airing a few days later, making the content available quickly means that people can begin cutting additional promos and do other work that will help drive viewers to the show. From a press perspective, content can appear on third party press sites hours after the show has aired. Previously these outlets would have only been able to include written content, or posted the video interviews days after the event.
What I like most is that I can show up at an event with just hand-luggage, instead of a satellite truck. Time from red carpet to air is minimized, and labor and manual steps are minimized. Plus, with the time I saved, I got to go to the SXSW after party!
Adobe: What are the future plans?
Pattan: This new workflow has really changed the way we work with these events. What started out as a trial program has been proven and is now our standard workflow and the one we’ll be using for the CMT Music Awards. End users now expect to receive a link they can use to download content. We have plans to enhance the workflow with more search functionality and more detail.
Right now, the audience for the portal is primarily Viacom’s press outlet partners. That said, there are plans to grow this solution into a lightweight dailies solution, and to grow the audience of the portal to internal and external on-air distribution channels.