Animation studio produces children’s series using a workflow enabled by Adobe Creative Cloud and CelAction
Rapid technology advances have made computer animation one of the fastest growing industries in Europe and North America. The demand for animated entertainment is growing partly due to expanding broadcasting hours for cable and satellite TV and the ever-increasing popularity of the Internet. Since it launched in 2008, the United Kingdom’s Karrot Animation has become a recognized industry leader, producing 2D animated shows including the international hit Sarah & Duck. Karrot co-founder Jamie Badminton attributes the company’s success to a talented team supported by efficient workflows.
Adobe: How did you develop the Karrot team?
Badminton: I studied to be an animator at Arts University Bournemouth and was in one of the last classes to do hand-drawn animation using cels and cel paint. I learned a lot about storytelling, which has been very helpful lately. I met Karrot co-founder Chris White when he hired me to illustrate a children’s book. We discovered we were both interested in television. He wanted to create children’s programs and my desire was to tell animated stories over multiple episodes. I’ve always been more a fan of television animation than feature film animation.
I went to university with Tim O’Sullivan, who’s our third partner. He was exceptional at solving storytelling problems and a very talented animator. Together, the three of us realized that if we created a studio to do commercial work, we could gain the ability to scale up and produce television programs when an opportunity came along. We used any available downtime to develop TV ideas. When we got a commission to create short videos for the BBC, we hired eight people for six months. When the contract finished, we kept everybody on to develop television ideas.
Adobe: Did you have particular kinds of shows in mind?
Badminton: We decided to create ten series ideas—five for children and five for adults. Sarah & Duck rose to the top. Tim developed the idea with Sarah Gomes Harris who designed and created the core of the stories. In some respects, it’s about a 7-year-old version of Sarah and her childhood love of ducks. A short pilot created in Adobe Flash Professional opened a few doors for us, but we knew we needed a more serious pipeline. We adopted CelAction because it has an item tracking system that suits TV production and we were able to pitch and win some broadcast contracts.
Adobe: Can you describe the production workflow?
Badminton: Being a small organization, we always wanted to create the show under one roof and that’s the crucial part of what Adobe Creative Cloud lets us do. We use Audition CC to collect and edit audio, Premiere Pro CC for animatics and final editing, After Effects CC for character composites and backgrounds, and we create the character art in Photoshop CC. Our animators can store artwork and layers created with Adobe tools in CelAction and work on scenes together. We then output .png sequences from CelAction to After Effects for comping and Premiere Pro for finalization.
Adobe: How long does it take to produce each episode?
Badminton: For each episode we assign one art director, two designers, one storyboard artist, one scriptwriter, one animation director, and four animators. A typical episode takes three weeks to produce in each department. The animators complete about six-and-a-half seconds a day for three weeks, which gets us to our six- and-a-half minute episode total.
Adobe: Tell us how you bring the audio and animation together.
Badminton: The singular drawn panels are brought into Premiere Pro and the JKL trimming feature in Premiere Pro lets us dynamically trim clips on the timeline. This saves us so much time because we cut hundreds of pictures into the animatic to show everyone what it will look like.
We edit all audio in house using Audition and we don’t lock the sound track before we do our storyboards because we find this limiting. We like having the flexibility to hone the voice tracks while we’re syncing everything together in Premiere Pro. Everything is adjustable until we lock the animatics, which gives us full control over the storytelling process.
Adobe: Why did you want to do everything in house?
Badminton: It was just crucial that we learned the lessons of making a TV show firsthand. If you start out working with a co-production company straightaway, you don’t know what parts of the process you can’t let out of your sight or what bits you can give more leeway. Adobe software absolutely enables us to do this for the right price.
Adobe: How much are we talking about in terms of cost?
Badminton: Film quality 3D animation can cost upwards of £200,000 per produced minute. Plus, it’s time consuming. The 3D rigging for the character Shrek took 18 months. In television, other producers are creating shows for about £12,000 per minute. Right now, we produce Sarah & Duck for about £8,500 per minute, which is relatively cheap.
I think that’s why a lot of other animation studios are also starting to use a similar process. Our show is seen by many as the benchmark for high quality on a tight budget. We’ve found the magic triangle of cheap, fast, and quality, which doesn’t happen very often.
Adobe: What would you say distinguishes Sarah & Duck from other shows?
Badminton: There are two main things I think we do differently. We give our art directors more time to develop backgrounds and other elements that provide tremendous on-screen value. We also crafted our workflows to enable creative flexibility.
The art director works on storyboard images and produces an art pack, which gets signed off before everything else moves forward. The rest of the team can then look at the art director’s layer files, use of textures, and other flourishes. The show looks quite organic, but the number of textures that we use will surprise people, which is cool. We may use rusted metal, or exotic tile from Marrakech to create unique textures, and those kinds of elements are totally unexpected in preschool TV. It gives our 2D animation a lot of depth and visual appeal.
The art pack is also the last time the BBC gets to approve artwork until we’re finished, so it’s a good production checkpoint. We budget three weeks per department for each show, but we try to be flexible. We want the design team to see what they can do with mixtures of After Effects, 2D puppet characters, and even frame-by-frame animation created in Photoshop. Our editor Mark came up with a great analogy in that the process of producing the show is a lot like watching a duck swimming. Ducks look like they’re gliding along the water, but underneath the surface, they’re kicking like crazy to create the effortlessness that people get to see.
Jamie Badminton, Creative Director and Producer for Karrot Animation, will be presenting in the Adobe stand at IBC on Friday, Sept. 12th at 1:00pm and Saturday, Sept. 13th at 12:30 and 2:00pm.
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Freelance filmmaker relies on a variety of cameras and Adobe Creative Cloud to create documentary and fiction projects
Filmmaking is less of a career and more of a way of life for Philip Bloom. He began his 24-year career focusing on news and documentary work, building his skills in all aspects of video production. Today, he’s a prolific freelance filmmaker and outspoken proponent of low-budget video. Everyone from hobbyists to experienced professionals look to him for information on what cameras, software, and gear they should be using. In addition to being a vocal Canon supporter, Bloom also advocates the use of Adobe Premiere Pro CC for video editing and regularly shares his knowledge and experiences with more than one million monthly website visitors.
Adobe: How did you first get started in editing?
Bloom: I’ve been working in editing for nearly 25 years. I first went to work at a news bureau and they gave me three days to learn how to edit. I picked it up so quickly, by my first day on the job editing I was cutting the lead package. It was an easy, natural thing for me. Eventually I moved to the documentary unit and spent 15 years traveling the world shooting and editing stories.
Adobe: Why did you stop working in broadcast?
Bloom: The station I was working for decided to shut down the documentary unit and go back to 24-hour breaking news. I’d been in charge of the unit for three years and didn’t want to go back to editing news. It was a comfortable, well-paying job, but documentary work was my life and my passion, and I’d always told myself that the moment I felt like I needed to move on, I would move on.
Adobe: Were you excited to start working as a freelancer
Bloom: It’s very difficult to jump out on your own and this was the push I needed. Luckily when I left a former colleague offered me a documentary series with a different network so I got to jump right in doing something I love. I’ve always tried to do different projects and stretch my skills.
Adobe: How did you build your online presence?
Bloom: My website and social media presence are a by-product of a show I did online. I started working with some new technology that was supposed to make content look more cinematic and filmic, and I decided to share my journey on a blog. I experimented with different cameras to see if I could get the same look as I could with more expensive cameras. It became really popular and people started following me.
Adobe: What made you want to continue sharing your experiences?
Bloom: When I worked in news editing, I had a mentor who taught me a lot. Those types of staff jobs don’t exist as much in the television industry anymore, so people have to find their own way. I like to share what I’m doing so others can learn from it. I’m actually very similar to a lot of freelancers out there. I’m very much in touch with all levels of production from very junior to high-end. I have experience working among all of them, so it’s great to be able to share how things work for me and how they can work for others.
Adobe: What are some of the challenges with having such a strong online presence?
Bloom: My time is limited, and having thousands of emails is a responsibility. I’ve also been surprised at how negative people can be online, especially when you’re just trying to help. The Internet is a great way for people to share ideas and form communities, but people can sometimes behave in ways they wouldn’t if they were sitting next to you. It’s important to remember that there is a human being at the other end.
Adobe: What advice do you have for young filmmakers?
Bloom: That’s a tough question. We live in the age of Twitter and people want advice on how to be successful in 140 characters or less. There’s no magic formula. I just tell them to work hard and be patient. I’ve worked hard to get where I am today and I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t work. Many young filmmakers are impatient and want success to come knocking at their door, but they have to go out and find it. It’s a hard search. Many will think about quitting, and some will fail. It takes time and effort to build a reputation, clients, and a body of work.
If you want to become a freelance editor it’s important to learn an editing system so well that it’s second nature to you. It should become so intuitive that you’re not thinking about the software, you’re only concentrating on the story. Stop obsessing about the software and the camera. Buy something and go tell your story.
I built a reputation in news and when I went freelance after 17 years I had to build my reputation again. I think it is easier to get your work seen these days with the internet. If you’re good enough you’ll get seen. It comes down to a lot of different things to get noticed or to create a viral video, but there’s no guarantee that a viral video will lead to a successful career. You may have a fluke and good timing, but then you have to follow it up with something new. That’s the constant conversation I have with most people on the internet.
Adobe: Is this where you thought you’d end up when you started freelancing?
Bloom: I didn’t have a grand plan when I started freelancing seven years ago. I knew I wanted to work in film, but I didn’t foresee the social media part of the equation. Social media needs to be organic and natural and genuine. You have to be you, the good and the bad. I have a dry sense of humor, which doesn’t always translate, so I’ve had to learn from that. But I’m convinced that if you try to plan it all out you won’t be successful.
Adobe: After working with Adobe Premiere Pro for a couple of years, what are your favorite features?
Bloom: I can cut half hour programs in a day and put them to air. If something needs to be cut quickly, I can do it. I switched to Premiere Pro three years ago and I’ve never looked back. The great thing about Premiere Pro is the immediacy, because it takes everything native. I was just finishing up a documentary for a client and they shot loads of footage and asked me to transcode it all. I felt like I was going back 10 years. As a freelancer, time is money and Premiere Pro CC lets me work fast and efficiently.
I also appreciate the portability of the software. I always have projects going, from features and corporate projects to reviews or my latest show reel. I edit wherever I can, on my Mac Pro or on a laptop on a plane.
Adobe: What other Adobe Creative Cloud applications are you using?
Bloom: I know Premiere Pro really well, and I know enough After Effects and Audition to get by. I’ve learned what I need to know and I’ll learn more when I need to know more.
Philip Bloom will be presenting in the Adobe stand at IBC 2014 on Friday, Sept. 12th at 11:30am & 2:30pm, and Saturday, Sept. 13th at 11:30am.
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First new UK television station in 13 years produces local daily programming using Adobe Creative Cloud for teams
Citing a lack of genuinely localized programming, the independent regulator of communications in the United Kingdom, Ofcom, asked media businesses what they would do with a Local Digital Television Programme Service (L-DTPS) license. The London Evening Standard and The Independent newspapers proposed London Live, a 24/7 television station dedicated solely to producing programs for London audiences. Bryn Balcombe, technology director for London Live, is the primary architect of the new station’s broadcast and production infrastructure. He chose Adobe Creative Cloud for teams for its ability to support production and distribution of standard definition television over the air and high definition television on any device.
Adobe: How was London Live chosen over other L-DTPS applicants?
Balcombe: The tender process was not a financial bid. Ofcom wanted to know how we would use the license to support local programming. We proposed producing five-and-a-half hours of news and current affairs every day, plus one to three hours of locally-produced entertainment content per day. The rest of the broadcast schedule includes historical content, retro television series about London such as London’s Burning, and acquired or commissioned shows shot or produced in London, including Place Invaders, Drag Queens of London, and Food Junkies. Ofcom believed our proposal would deliver the most value to the local community, especially because of our commitment to news and local affairs.
Adobe: How long did it take to launch London Live?
Balcombe: We had seven months to get everything up and running. Other than the London Evening Standard and The Independent committing their support, we had nothing in place. We had to assemble the team and put the broadcast infrastructure together from scratch. We went live on March 31st.
We chose Premiere Pro as a key resource because the multiformat timeline gives us more flexibility. We also like the open, plugin architecture and its ability to integrate with other vital newsroom technologies, such as Sienna and ChyronHego. We transcode with Adobe Media Encoder CC, build graphics with Adobe After Effects CC, and use Adobe Photoshop CC for different online and live graphics purposes.
Adobe: How are you supporting your local news operations with Adobe Creative Cloud?
Balcombe: We’re covering London and 33 surrounding boroughs, and we want to produce content at the hyper-local level. Our ten video journalists need tools that are fast, light, and mobile to cover it all and they use Premiere Pro exclusively. They gather high-definition images and video using Nikon DSLR cameras, which they can edit immediately using Premiere Pro installed on 13-inch Apple Macbooks we had designed for use in the field.
Production journalists in the studio also use Premiere Pro on desktop iMacs. With our scripting tool, AP ENPS, they can edit show openers and make changes to packages practically right up to air time. Premiere Pro is also essential for re-cutting stories. We have a three-hour morning show, for example and we evolve the content from one hour to the next.
Premiere Pro is also our failover solution. We use an automated Sienna media asset management system for news archiving and playout, and most of the journalist packages are sitting in there ready to be aired during the live broadcast. However, two of our iMacs have been set up for manual playout, so we can also play late-breaking news directly from the Premiere Pro timeline to air.
Adobe: What kinds of editing projects are you supporting with Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
Balcombe: For the acquired and commissioned programs, we have to make sure that they are broadcast-ready and meet regulatory compliance standards. We have three editors who use Premiere Pro to help ensure that the language in any program is appropriate for the time of day, for example. They also make sure that the shows are compatible with our Ericsson playout system. With Adobe, we can be more flexible on the formats of incoming media, edit any format on the Premiere Pro timeline, and then output with Adobe Media Encoder CC.
Another team of three editors produces all of our promotional material. There’s a lot of cutting, such as taking video snippets from upcoming programs and adding graphics we produce in After Effects. Premiere Pro lets us take source materials from different providers in different formats and put them all on one timeline to get exactly what we’re looking for.
Adobe: Where does Adobe Photoshop CC fit in?
Balcombe: We do two exports from Premiere Pro, one for broadcast and one for our web and mobile channels. We use Photoshop for a lot of our online content and for graphics. The digital team takes screenshots from video or collects images from news or wire feeds and uses Photoshop to format them for web and mobile devices. We also use Photoshop to prepare images for use in our newsroom’s live graphics system from ChyronHego.
Adobe: What do you expect the newsroom of the future to look like?
Balcombe: Our license from Ofcom allows us to broadcast in standard definition quality until it expires in 2026. We could have gone all SD, but we expect the technology to change massively between now and then. Right now SD is our broadcast, terrestrial cable, and satellite format. But we produce everything in high definition. Our field and studio cameras are all HD, so we are not limited by initial quality. Everything we distribute digitally is in HD.
One of the visions behind putting journalists in the field with laptops is to use IP-based connectivity. We use microwave Ethernet service instead of satellite trucks, and that lets us playout directly from the Premiere Pro timelines on their Macbooks. We can turn them on anywhere, whenever we need to, and it’s seamless.
Adobe: Now that London Live is on the air and on the web, what’s next?
Balcombe: We built the foundation at the minimum cost just to get it running. Now that we’re live, we are fine tuning. We are learning a lot about who’s doing what, how they’re doing it, what they need, and what will drive efficiencies. As we continue developing our vision of taking the entire station and putting it in the cloud, we are looking at other Adobe solutions, such as Adobe Anywhere for video collaboration, Adobe Primetime for live, linear, and video-on-demand programming, and Adobe Experience Manager for content management.
Bryn Balcombe, technology director at London Live, will be presenting at the Adobe stand at IBC 2014 on Friday, Sept. 12th at 3:30pm and Saturday, Sept. 13th at 1:00pm and 3:30pm.
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Multi-platform media company produces premium sports, culture, and lifestyle content with help from Creative Cloud
From its start selling energy drinks, Red Bull has expanded into an international brand with streaming video through Red Bull TV, the Red Bull Records independent music label, and sponsorship of dozens of athletes, teams, and events. For the past seven years, Red Bull Media House, a subsidiary of Red Bull, has overseen all of the company’s communications and media, taking Red Bull to the next level as a full-fledged lifestyle brand. Andreas Gall, the chief technology officer at Red Bull Media House, gives wings to emotional content that connects people with the international Red Bull brand.
Adobe: How did Red Bull Media House get started?
Gall: About seven years ago, I met with the CEO of Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz, and he asked me to be part of Red Bull Media House. The idea was that we would pull together the print, video, audio, and digital projects across Red Bull and concentrate all of that fantastic creative energy in one location. I have a lot of experience in broadcast media, so I understand how to bring stories to life. From the way I see it, my job is to keep on top of technology and technological strategies to push the envelope on how we explore people, stories, and ideas.
Adobe: What does Red Bull Media House do?
Gall: We handle all of the communications for the entire Red Bull family of companies. That includes especially coverage of Red Bull’s events, from sports to music and more. We’re much more than just TV commercials and magazine ads. We produce exciting short and feature-length films, engaging video magazines, and even deliver live coverage of international events through Red Bull TV. If you look at the Red Bull Content Pool, we have a massive online archive of more than 120,000 assets produced by Red Bull Media House—and we’re adding new content every day.
Much of our content covers high-action sports, which has been the core of the Red Bull DNA for years. We’re always looking for new ways to find really emotional content and bring our audiences closer to the athletes’ experiences.
Adobe: Why did you make the switch to Adobe Creative Cloud?
Gall: If there’s anything we know at Red Bull, it’s the importance of pushing the limits. We have a lot of great ideas that we’d love to see—like enhanced visualizations and biometrics—that don’t have a solid technological answer yet. That’s why it was much less important for us to find a system that worked for where we are now, and more important to find a motivated partner who was willing to work with us to change the media world.
I really like how open Adobe is to exploring with us. Adobe comes from a very creative background, so the product development teams are very interested in ideas and concepts that will lead to new creative expressions. We’ve had meetings with Adobe about working with Premiere Pro and XMP, and we’re starting to paint a picture of how we want to evolve together.
Adobe: What Adobe applications are you using?
Gall: We’ve had people working with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe After Effects for years, but the biggest change has been our switch to Adobe Premiere Pro CC. It’s going to be central to the architecture that we’re planning with fast edits and fast production. Once we’re fully switched over, we’ll standardize on Adobe Prelude CC to streamline production even further. With everything going through Prelude, we’ll reduce ingest and make edits considerably faster.
We’re starting to dive into the rest of the applications available in Creative Cloud as well. There’s been a lot of interest in Adobe Story CC and Adobe Anywhere to encourage creative collaboration around the globe.
Adobe: What is the future for Red Bull Media House?
Gall: We’ve got some ideas for how we want to move forward. For example, we think it would be fantastic if we could really connect athletes with fans by giving athletes the ability to create and upload their own media. This is just one of many ideas we’re exploring, and Adobe is with us every step of the way.
Andreas (Andi) Gall, CTO of Red Bull Media House, will be presenting at the Adobe stand at IBC on Friday, September 12th at 2:00 PM and Saturday, September 13th at 10:30 AM.
For the past decade, Jason Harvey has lived the life that many video engineers would envy. After developing his skills and expertise in video production for corporate, trade, and live events, he landed a spot on with Cher on “The Farewell Tour.” Since then, he’s traveled with many high profile artists, including Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi, Christina Aguilera, Pink, Paul McCartney, and Madonna, managing the video systems, cabling, and cameras involved in their massive concert productions.
Over the years, Harvey has been given some freedom that allows him to work with artists on playback and even create some content for the shows. For the past year and a half, he’s worked with PRG Nocturne as a video engineer on the Bruno Mars tour, while managing his production company Short and Spikey on the side.
The Bruno Mars show is 100% pre-made by a variety of content providers who work on different elements of the show before the tour begins. After a tour has been on the road for a while, it’s not uncommon for the artist to want to change or add content. When Bruno Mars recently decided to add some new elements to his show, Harvey was selected to create a new piece of content for the song “Show Me.”
“The project was made up of ink drops and shockwaves from Video Copilot,” explains Harvey. “I used Adobe Premiere Pro CC to track lay the images in time with the audio, and then exported the timeline to After Effects CC for all of the color correction, repositioning, and sizing.”
Harvey used bright colors for the drops and waves. The reference from the artist was the colors of red, yellow, and green to match the Rastafarian feel of the song. The colors were added to the drops and waves in After Effects CC to complete the look. After exporting and showing the content to Bruno Mars for approval, Harvey only had to make minor changes to the sizes of some objects before re-rending the project for the final master.
“I used Adobe Premiere Pro for 90% of the project and it played an essential role in getting all of the timing for the music correct,” says Harvey. “I was very lucky to have the opportunity to work with Bruno and his management on this content and it’s great to see it playing in the show every night!”
Harvey continues to work with Adobe Creative Cloud and looks forward to exploring more of what the video applications have to offer when the tour concludes in September. “Adobe continues to innovate and it’s always great to explore the new features that are regularly available through Adobe Creative Cloud,” he concludes.
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Production company standardizes on an Adobe Creative Cloud workflow to efficiently deliver up to 28 TV episodes per week
For more than 20 years, UFA SERIAL DRAMA has produced some of the most popular serial dramas in Germany. Classic shows such as Good Times, Bad Times (Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten) and Among Us(Unter Uns) have been on the air for more than 4,000 episodes each. UFA SERIAL DRAMA currently runs five daily shows and can produce up to 28 episodes in a week; for this team efficiency is key. Post-production supervisor Marc Schwellenbach works with the post-production teams to continually refine and optimize the standard workflows to be as quick and smart as possible.
Adobe: Tell us about the shows you produce through UFA SERIAL DRAMA.
Schwellenbach: We produce five unique daily serial dramas, which translates to 800 minutes of material every week. Four of our shows run in Germany. In fact, the first series that we produced back in 1992,Good Times, Bad Times (Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten), was the first daily serial drama made for German television. It’s still on the air; we passed the 5,000 episode mark a few years ago. Even our “newest” series has been around for eight years and nearly 2,000 episodes. Our fifth show is actually a serial drama made for Hungarian audiences. It’s been running for 16 seasons, and it’s one of the top-rated shows in Hungary.
Adobe: Why are production workflows so important to you?
Schwellenbach: We work on five shows that run five days a week with almost no breaks. To get all of the shows ready for air, we may produce up to 28 episodes a week. We need a rock-solid workflow to keep up the pace without compromising quality.
We have one big advantage on our side: experience. We’ve learned over the years to take the time to think through our workflows and look for ways to improve them. We take it a step further at UFA SERIAL DRAMA by standardizing about 90% of our workflow across productions. If one team comes up with a new process that helps them work faster and better, we can easily apply their innovations to other teams.
Adobe: How has your software changed over the years?
Schwellenbach: Several years ago, we switched from Avid to Final Cut Pro with the intention of becoming more flexible and speeding up workflows in post production. We worked with the Final Cut Pro workflow for a few years, but we felt that we still needed to move our editing process to the next level. By better integrating editing into the rest of the post-production workflow, we would improve turnaround speed for dailies and increase our overall speed and efficiency.
We recently started looking into Adobe Premiere Pro, and that’s when we realized the advantages that we could achieve using the integration between Adobe creative applications. With Adobe Creative Cloud, our workflow has not only gotten faster, but also tighter. We’re tying everything together into one smooth Adobe framework, which helps us get much more power and flexibility out of our daily workflows.
Adobe: How important is the integration of Adobe tools to your workflows?
Schwellenbach: We had used Adobe After Effects and Adobe Photoshop before, but we had never considered how everything could work together in a bigger way. The integration among Creative Cloud applications not only changes how we work, but it encourages us to think about how all of the steps fit together to create the big picture.
Previously, our post-production artists would use After Effects to composite green screen shots and hand the finished shots over to the editors. The Dynamic Link between After Effects and Premiere Pro simplifies things so much. Even our editors who are not visual effects artists use After Effects to create their own graphics, or use templates we’ve created for graphical inserts, such as cell phone displays. They can then easily bring these effects into their Premiere Pro workflows. Edits and adjustments are practically seamless, as we no longer need to wait to export and import clips. We can be much more flexible while maintaining consistent information on the shots.
We also appreciate how Adobe software invites collaboration. We see lots of great third-party integrations, and with Adobe XMP and panel integration, we can even see ourselves leveraging metadata to develop our own integrations as we need them. The Adobe framework opens up whole new ways for us to speed up and simplify the workflow.
Adobe: What steps did you take to transition to Adobe Premiere Pro?
Schwellenbach: The key to a smooth transition is planning and communication. When you’re changing a key component of your workflow, you have to make sure that you think through everything beforehand. We didn’t want to even start the move until we were sure that our editors would be able to work faster right away. We talked with editors about the changes that they wanted to see and used their input to design the new workflow. Giving them ownership of the transition helped to assure them amidst the changes.
Trainers worked with our editors to help them feel comfortable with the new software and features. The entire transition felt very collaborative with Adobe, with everyone coming together for a common goal. As a result, our transition has been very smooth. Two teams have completely switched over to Premiere Pro with more still in the final training phases. Our editors are very pleased with the ease and functionality of Premiere Pro. Other departments have also successfully made the move to Creative Cloud.
Adobe: Are there any other applications in Creative Cloud that you’re excited about?
Schwellenbach: Adobe Story CC Plus looks very interesting and has definitely caught the eye of our head writer. We’re currently syncing Word documents with our scheduling system, but Story will help us leverage metadata in the scripts so that we can see exactly what we need in post production.
Adobe Prelude CC is another piece that’s bound to be very useful. We’re always talking about logging on set, and Prelude and Live Logger will provide us a way to log information on set and preserve that metadata in Prelude for the post-production process. We’re already using a digital movie slate integrated into an iPad app, so I could see us using Prelude Live Logger right away.
Adobe: What is the future for UFA SERIAL DRAMA?
Schwellenbach: We started using Adobe Creative Cloud for teams, but we’re switching to Creative Cloud for enterprise as our business continues to grow and use of the software expands. We’re also talking to other businesses in the UFA family. We’ve developed powerful workflows for our fast-paced production and along the way we’ve learned a lot about working with Adobe software. We look forward to sharing our knowledge and best practices with other UFA productions.
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Award-winning host of underwater documentary series tackles the world’s first live-action planetarium film using Creative Cloud
Cinematographer Jonathan Bird is one of the lucky ones. He’s successfully combined his love for scuba diving and photography into an award-winning career. After more than a decade of delivering underwater photography and video to National Geographic and Discovery Channel, Bird started his own series that combines humor with science in a highly educational, family-friendly format. Jonathan Bird’s Blue World, now airing on PBS, won the CINE Golden Eagle Award, a total of eight New England Emmy Awards, and has been nominated for two National Daytime Emmy Awards. For his next project, Bird is connecting the sea and space with an innovative film made for planetarium theaters.
Adobe: Tell us why you decided to create Jonathan Bird’s Blue World.
Bird: I had been working both as a cinematographer and producer for years, but I still dreamed about working on a show that entertained audiences of all ages without talking down to them or losing the educational slant. No one else was making the show that I wanted to see, so I finally just decided to do it myself! It wasn’t until we got an audience on YouTube that people started paying attention to our show and we made the jump to TV. We just finished the fourth season on PBS.
Adobe: What is the production schedule and format of Blue World?
Bird: The show is massively low budget, but we take the time to make it good. It takes about 18 months to shoot a season. Last season we produced 11 half-hour shows. The season before that contained 9 shows. It is a magazine-style program, so it isn’t all one story. We typically put between two and three different stories together, and they can be completely unrelated. This format also makes it easy for us to package content online into webisodes.
Adobe: What can you tell us about your upcoming film project?
Bird: Space School is going to be something completely different: the world’s first live-action planetarium film. Planetariums are traditionally about space, so I proposed a film that takes people into the world where space travel and underwater experiences meet: astronaut training. Astronauts train underwater in the Johnson Space Center Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory to simulate weightless conditions, and later they spend time in Aquarius, an underwater research laboratory in the Keys, to get used to living and working in cramped, isolated conditions.
Adobe: What opportunities do planetariums represent for filmmakers?
Bird: When most people think about planetariums, they tend to think about a Zeiss machine that just shines bright lights to represent the stars. But planetariums have moved way beyond that. They have banks of computers calculating huge data sets of imagery that can fly you around the solar system. With their full, domed screens, planetarium theaters offer a completely immersive environment that will work incredibly well with the underwater footage.
Adobe: Why didn’t you just create a film for the IMAX DOME theaters?
Bird: There are 500 planetariums across the United States, compared with only about 40 IMAX DOME theaters. Almost nobody is making content for IMAX DOME theaters anymore because it is too expensive to make a 70mm IMAX film for only 40 screens, and it takes too long to make your money back. So IMAX has gone completely to flat-screen style 3D projections, which are absolutely amazing in their own right.
The reason why there aren’t more live-action films for planetariums is simply because they’re incredibly advanced. The planetarium market is all about realism, with content shot at 60 fps, which is unconventional for traditional movies. The displays are also extremely high resolution at 4,000 pixels square. You’d need an 8K resolution camera to perfectly fill the screen—and no commercial manufacturer makes 8K cameras! That’s why most of the films shown on planetariums so far have involved CG animation.
Adobe: How did you approach making Space School given these requirements?
Bird: When we started, RED had just come out with its 6K DRAGON camera, so we could come close to true planetarium resolution. Once we had the camera, though, we had another problem: we needed a system that could handle editing our footage. At 6K resolution and 60 fps, we were looking at an extraordinary amount of data—about 8 GB per minute—in RAW format. We did a lot of research into the subject, and we finally figured out that the only setup around that could handle the load was Adobe Premiere Pro CC running on the fastest HP Z Workstation available.
Adobe: What is special about Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
Bird: Adobe Premiere Pro CC has the best playback engine of any non-linear editor on the market, even for video that is notoriously difficult to play back in real time. Premiere Pro doesn’t care where video comes from; it just plays it, no transcoding required. Being able to cut out the transcoding process is a huge time saver. And Adobe makes the transition from Final Cut Pro so easy (for those of us that have been using FCP for years). I was up editing on Premiere Pro in a couple of hours.
Adobe: How was the switch from a Mac to a PC?
Bird: I’ve always loved working with Macs. But when we decided to move away from Final Cut Pro, we realized that we didn’t have to stick with Macs anymore. We decided to switch to the fastest computer we could find, which turned out to be the HP Z Workstation. We did a rendering test to compare the speeds, and an Adobe After Effects project that took 12 hours to render on the Mac took two hours on the HP system.
There are probably lots of people in the same boat as me—people who want the power of a PC but are uncomfortable with Windows. Creative Cloud is great because the software is exactly the same across platforms. I can even move files between the Mac and Windows environments without any problems. I also like how all of the software we use, like Premiere Pro, Photoshop, Encore, and After Effects, share similar interfaces and operations. It makes it easy to pick up new software.
Adobe: What’s next for you?
Bird: We started shooting with NASA in May and we’ll be delivering it to theaters in January. We’re also continuing with Jonathan Bird’s Blue World, and our YouTube audience continues to grow. We recently launched Shark Academy on YouTube, which features two to three minute shark videos that kids really like. Another focus for us is to put out highlights from some of our videos that are more shareable. Overall, we want to continue telling great stories for audiences of all ages.
Read more about Jonathan Bird and his work here.
Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud.
Today we are releasing an update to Premiere Pro CC 2014. This version (Premiere Pro CC 2014.0.1) provides important fixes and enhancements to the editing experience, and is recommended for all users.
Users can install this update directly from the Creative Cloud desktop application.
A list of notable changes in this release appears below.
• ‘Async’ asserts could occur when exporting some file types
• Incorrect angles could be shown when separate multicam clips were created with different sort order
• Waveforms could be improperly drawn when nesting a multicam source sequence
• Effects could fail to render within effect mask boundaries
• Garbage could appear around the edge of a layer that had a blur video effect applied and a mask on Opacity
• Masks could offset Gaussian Blur in CUDA mode
• Attempting to move a column to the left of the Name column in the Project panel could break cell selection
• Occasional instance where sequences could never finished rendering
• Relinking to spanned MXF clips could be incorrect
• UI responsiveness could reduce in large projects after relinking
• Exporting merged clips could generate silent or missing audio
• Importing sequences could sometimes fail
• Incorrect timebases could be used on EDL export
• Incorrect field display could occur when using Mercury Transmit with GPU acceleration
• Audio presets were sometimes not working correctly if used with a different format container
• Complex video assets could produce a blurry image every 1 second when encoded into H.264
• Mask Expansion could not be rendered correctly during preview scrubbing on layers that were scaled to 50% or less
• Applying a speed change to a multicam clip could cause the extended duration of the clip to play with no video
• Merged clips that contain clips with sync offsets could display out of sync indicators when used in a sequence
• Crashes could occur during export to QuickTime.
• Masking and Tracking: Brightness & Contrast could be incorrectly displayed in an Adjustment Layer
• File import failures could occur when no assets were selected in the Locate Media dialog
• Asserts and crashes could occur when exporting project to OMF
• Crashes could occur when rendering audio with a locked submix track
• Submixes could sometimes lose audio
• Noise could be heard in submixes with empty tracks
• Source monitor timecode and program monitor overlay could be off from one another in multicam sequences
• Audio overlays for Multicam and nested sequences would only display as audio time units.
• 24p/50p XDCAM EX files were sometimes 1 frame short when smart rendered
• MPEG2 TS files with 6 tracks of stereo audio could only play/show first stereo track when imported in to PPro
• Playing IMX 50 clip could freeze video
• Locking all Audio Tracks could cause the system to slow down dramatically
• A Codec column was added to the Project Panel
• Sequence Timecode was added as a display option in the Monitor Overlays
• Clip name and Timecode filters can now be set to reference and display information for clips on specified source tracks.
Last weekend marked the first annual Premiere Pro World Conference ably organized by Adobe training partner – Future Media Concepts. Although Premiere Pro Product Manager Al Mooney jokingly referred to it as a “1.0 beta” event, we all thought it was a great success, both for attendees and for the Premiere Pro team.
The conference kicked off on Friday, July 11th at Adobe headquarters in San Jose, CA. The Premiere Pro management, engineering and quality engineering teams were all there, along with support team members from social media, customer care, documentation, Creative Cloud Learn, marketing and even engineers from After Effects and Adobe Anywhere.
“Adobe Day” began with the history of Premiere Pro, presented by Senior Engineering Manager Dave McGavran. First launched in 1991, our favourite editing application has seen approximately 50 releases over the past 23 years, and today comprises a whopping 30 million lines of code. A highlight of the presentation was when Senior Solutions Consulting Manager Dave Helmly launched the Adobe Premiere 1.0 on an old PowerMac G3 running Mac OS 7. Talk about blast from the past!
Al Mooney then spoke about the future of Premiere Pro (in general terms, anyway) and attendees were introduced to different members of the Premiere Pro management team. The managers explained a bit about how the software is developed and what role each part of the team plays in the process.
A hot topic of discussion was how decisions are made about which features we develop. Al explained that several years ago the team decided to focus strongly on the broadcast market, for one simple reason: “because it’s really, really hard.” The rationale being that if in the end we can make it work for broadcast, we can make it work for other users (but not necessary the other way around). Today, while Premiere Pro continues to score big in broadcast (a recent international sporting event held in Brazil comes to mind), we’re also working with top Hollywood filmmakers, such as David Fincher, the Coen Brothers, and others. Heck, even Sharknado 2 was cut in Premiere Pro!
Of course, along with big name users, development is guided by the feedback of all users including web content producers, music video creators and corporate and wedding videographers. The moral of the story being this: if you have a great idea for a new feature or functionality, submit a feature request!
Along with larger roadmap development work, the Premiere Pro engineering team also deliver “Just Do It” (JDI) features whenever they can. Engineering Manager Steve Hoeg previewed an example of such a feature – simple, practical enhancements to the application that are a part of every new release. Attendees then split into breakout sessions together with various Premiere Pro engineers and quality engineers (QEs) to discuss the JDI process and different JDIs that are currently on “the list.” Attendees were able to provide feedback on how they thought certain JDIs should be executed and, even offer ideas for new JDIs that would address pain points in their workflows.
The final sessions for Adobe Day were four breakout groups focused on audio, color, effects and integrated workflows. Engineers and QEs shared thoughts on each of these areas and asked for feedback from attendees as to how they believe we should be addressing each topic, where they think Premiere Pro should be going and what they would love to see in the future. Customer Experience Designer David Kuspa said, “Receiving comments and feedback from users face-to-face reminds all of us who we’re working for and how large an impact our work can have on the creative output of these professionals.” The whole day left the Premiere Pro team with plenty of notes to take back to our engineering work and planning.
For the Premiere Pro team one of the best parts of the “Adobe Day”, as well as Premiere Pro World Conference as a whole, was the opportunity it provided us to not only get feedback and input from attendees, but to interact with Premiere Pro users on a personal level. Everyone was just hanging out and mingling during breaks, and meals through out the weekend as well as at an evening mixer on Friday where some of our top partners joined in and showed off some their gear.
The rest of the conference was comprised of sessions guided by various industry experts. It’s not often that you have so many top Premiere gurus in one place, but that’s what the attendees (and Adobe staff) were treated to. In fact, the only problem for many people was choosing which sessions to join – in most time slots four sessions were presented concurrently, so whatever you picked meant missing three other awesome sessions. Presenters included luminaries like Rich Harrington, Christine Steele, Robbie Carman, Kanen Flowers, Gary Adcock, Luisa Winters, Jeff Greenberg, Maxim Jago, Eran Stern and Liran Golan. Jerle Leirpoll travelled all the way from Norway to be here!
Attendees were able to attend sessions to develop core editing skills, advanced editing techniques, broadcast specific workflows, deep dives into encoding, publishing and distribution, and get answers to burning questions about hardware, workflows, and the art of editing.
Another highlight of the weekend were the keynote presentations. On Saturday Adam Epstein spoke of the unbelievably fast turnaround for the work he does with the Saturday Night Film Unit.Attendees and trainers alike were impressed withwhat Adam and his team accomplish every week – and talk about tight timelines: generally their shorts are not completely finished until minutes before they air. In one case a piece aired directly from the Premiere Pro timeline. “If someone had pressed the space bar, we’d have been screwed,” laughed Adam. In addition to the sheer entertainment value, attendees walked away from the session inspired – and with some really cool tips for how to structure their own workflows for maximum efficiency.
If you missed the Premiere Pro World Conference, or just want to see Adam again, you might just be able to do that! He is doing The Cutting Edge Tour this summer in 32 cities throughout the US and Canada.
Sunday evening’s keynote focused on the demands of broadcast and how Adobe has become a key player in that world. Turner Broadcasting’sBryan Pearson showed how Premiere Pro, Adobe Anywhere and Creative Cloud workflows are used at CNN. He shared how the team at CNN has worked closely with Adobe on the development of the Adobe Prelude and Premiere Pro workflows for broadcast. In many ways, this presentation provided an apt bookend to Al Mooney’s introductory keynote and gave concrete examples of how Adobe’s work in broadcast has helped improve Premiere Pro and the Creative Cloud video tools for everyone. Bryan also spoke at length about Adobe Anywhere, which is fast becoming integral to meeting the future needs of CNN’s international collaborative infrastructure. CNN creates approximately 3,000 assets each day from 44 different locations around the world and the broadcaster’s input has helped Adobe define Adobe Anywhere as a workflow platform that allows distributed users to access content and projects across standard networks, wherever the users may be located.
All told, it was a fantastic event packed with learning, insights, and inspiration. We heard amazing feedback from many attendees during the conference and the sentiments seem to be echoed across the web.
The first annual Premiere Pro World Conference was a meaningful experience for the Premiere Pro team, too.
We work so hard on this product and it was wonderful to see the passion, and meet so many people who care about it as much as we do.
Hope to see everyone at Premiere Pro World Conference in 2015!
See more photos from the first annual Premiere Pro World Conference here
Learn more about Premiere Pro
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