Tag Archives: Premiere Pro

Review: Divergent Media’s EditReady 1.4 and ScopeBox 3.5

Affordable transcoding and monitoring solutions

By Brady Betzel

It’s been almost two years since I first reviewed Divergent Media’s video transcoder EditReady version 1.0.2… and I was thoroughly impressed with the speed and ease of use. The only thing that left me wanting more was the fact it was a Mac-only product.

While Divergent still hasn’t made Windows versions of their apps, I did recently see a tweet from EditReady, ScopeBox and ClipWrap developer Mike Woodworth (@vexed) in early May that made me think it might be on their radar. The tweet said, “Every time a hot, new GPU comes out, I get pushed a tiny bit more toward building a PC.” Because I was so excited at the possibility of it coming out on PC, we reached out to Woodworth, who said this: “As a small company, to date we’ve been focused on making high-quality Mac software. We do occasionally get requests to port ScopeBox to Windows, but we don’t have active plans to do so. Most users build out a standalone system to run ScopeBox, and we’ve worked hard to maximize our performance on entry level Mac hardware such as the Mac Mini. We are taking a close look at demand for Windows and if that begins to grow in a substantive way, we’ll shift our roadmap.” Oh, well (sigh).

For this review — conducted on my old-ish MacBook Pro — I am covering two of Divergent Media’s latest releases: the Mac-based EditReady 1.4 and ScopeBox 3.5. EditReady is a video transcoder and ScopeBox is a software video scope solution. To this day, EditReady has been the fastest media encoder and on a Mac that I have ever used. And, as far as ScopeBox is concerned, I’ve been looking to try this out for a while, and now is the perfect time since EditReady now works with ScopeBox via ScopeLink. You can see the technical results of any compression or LUT you are applying in EditReady through ScopeLink.

ScopeBox

ScopeBox

Here is a quick tip to get ScopeBox talking to EditReady: in EditReady you need to be previewing your file by hitting Command + 3 or going to the Clip menu and clicking Open Preview. Playing in the EditReady window will not transmit the signal to ScopeBox.

EditReady
In this latest update to EditReady (v1.4), we get the ability to run our video through ScopeBox via ScopeLink. ScopeLink, which has been around for a bit, allows ScopeBox to process video through apps like Apple FCP X, Adobe’s Premiere Pro, SpeedGrade and After Effects, and now EditReady. What’s cool about this is that if you need to do a quick quality control check of your video, looking for illegal color values, and don’t have time or access to a hardware scope like a Tektronix, ScopeBox will work quickly and easily with EditReady on the same computer.

So now, in addition to using the video scopes, you can batch convert a bunch of clips to an intraframe editing-friendly codec like DNxHR, burn in a LUT and preview it through ScopeBox to see where it hits on your waveform or RGB parade. Keep in mind these are two separate software apps and both need to be purchased for this to work.

EditReady

EditReady

If you were in post production about five years ago, you were probably all about the app ClipWrap, especially when it came to incompatible QuickTime wrappers like today’s often incompatible AVCHD. EditReady has adopted the ClipWrap functionality as well as transcoding. As an added bonus, EditReady automatically joins spanned files like GoPro, AVCHD, MXF (camera MXF not Op1a) and HDV.

Something I really love in EditReady is the ability to take high frame rate media and set it to the frame rate you want to edit in. It won’t add or remove frames but it will adjust the speed accordingly. In the past this was a little bit of hassle to get to work right, but now it’s easy with EditReady. Metadata is another strong suit of EditReady. When using clips from cameras like the GoPro, some NLEs won’t properly read the timecode track. Within the metadata browser in EditReady you can assign timecode to each file. This really helps when making proxy files to be used with an offline/online workflow.

If you want some technical speed test results, check out my previous review of EditReady — the same speeds are still present. I transcoded a 6:30-minute ProRes (standard) QuickTime to ProRes proxy in just under realtime. While this might not seem like much, I’m running a MacBook Pro from 2009 with 8GB of RAM and the last model to ship with an Nvidia card, so that’s a great speed for this system. One day I’ll get that new MacBook Pro. Hint, hint Apple. Just kidding… kind of.

ScopeBox
If you’ve worked in color correction and have learned and used hardware color scopes you quickly realize how important they are. Unfortunately, scopes like those by Tektronix are not cheap. So what do you do? You could rely on the scopes inside your DaVinci Resolve, Premiere Pro or Avid Media Composer/Symphony, but those can get bogged down quickly. Another solution is to take that old Mac Mini, MacBook or tower and get your signal from your editing/coloring system into the ScopeBox system. This might require not only ScopeBox but also a Thunderbolt capture device like Blackmagic’s UltraStudio Mini https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/ultrastudiothunderbolt — do your research though because there may be some chroma subsampling issues like not getting a signal higher than 4:2:2. But I digress.

ScopeBox

ScopeBox

In short, you can use an old system as your scope — it’s really a great way to use scopes without bogging down your current system. Nonetheless, you can use the same system you edit/color on if you use apps like FCP X, Premiere Pro, or After Effects. Basically, if the app you use outputs via QuickTime or Adobe Transmit, ScopeBox should work.

ScopeBox contains many of the normal meters such as RGB Parade, YUV Parade, Waveform, Luma Histogram, RGB Histogram and Vectorscope, plus some bonuses like a timecode display and even the HML Balance palette that displays three distinct vectorscopes focusing on Highs, Mids and Lows. It also contains audio and surround meters for audio reference. One measurement tool that ScopeBox does not contain that many people seem love, including myself is the Double Diamond Gamut display, which is copy written by Tektronix, but those scopes also cost a pretty penny.

The Vectorscope does have the ability to zoom but only to 1.875x and 2x strength. In addition you can change graticule style of the vectorscope to Hue Vectors (a style created and popularized by Alexis Van Hurkman, @hurkman on Twitter). In terms of quality control, there are many settings you can set when running video through ScopeBox like Audio Peak and Chroma Excursion; you can even export an FCPX XML of any QC (quality control) flags to add locators to a sequence — pretty awesome!

Not only is ScopeBox literally a scope but it can also capture live video and encode it using codecs like ProRes and DNxHD for later viewing. If you are on set running your picture through ScopeBox you can enable some great functions like Luma, Focus and Chroma Zebra striping, giving you an idea what is overexposed, underexposed, or even out of focus.

EditReady

Summing Up
Practically speaking, ScopeBox worked great even on my old MacBook Pro. I used it from both EditReady as well as Premiere Pro without problems.

Keep in mind that ScopeBox is a high-level application that is running in parallel with your other high-end applications such as Premiere Pro, so having the best system you can, with tons of memory and a high end graphics card, will be your best bet to run this setup successfully.

In the end, ScopeBox is a great app that many colorists use, and now that it can work cleanly with EditReady you have a great combo of transcoding and monitoring solutions for under $200. From using ScopeBox straight out of Adobe Premiere Pro on the same computer or going outboard to another system, you can color correct and grade with the same confidence as with the high-priced hardware scopes.

I have loved EditReady since the day it came out — if only it would find its way over to the Windows dark side would I truly be content. And, with QuickTime removing its support from Windows, maybe now is Divergent Media’s time to strike. It is consistently the fastest and simplest way to batch transcode GoPro media, MXF, AVCHD, M2T and any other QuickTime MOV file you have.

Separately, EditReady costs $49.99 and ScopeBox costs $99.99. Together you can buy them both for $119.99 — a true steal for the functionality deep inside these apps.

Brady Betzel is an online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood, working on Life Below Zero and Cutthroat Kitchen. You can email Brady at bradybetzel@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter @allbetzroff. Brady was recently nominated for an Emmy for his work on Disney’s Unforgettable Christmas Celebration.

Learning about LTO and Premiere workflows

By Chelsea Taylor

In late March, I attended a workflow event by Facilis Technology and StorageDNA in New York City. I didn’t know much going in other than it would be about collaborative workflows and shared storage for Adobe Premiere. While this event was likely set up to sell some systems, I did end up learning some worthwhile information about archiving and backup.

Full disclosure: going into this event I knew very little about LTO archiving. Previously I had been archiving all of my projects by throwing a hard drive into the corner of my edit. Well, not really but close! It seems that a lot of companies out there don’t put too much importance on archiving until after it becomes a problem (“All of our edits are crashing and we don’t know why!”).

At my last editing job where we edited short form content on Avid, our media manager would consolidate projects in Avid, create a FileMaker database that cataloged footage, manually add metadata, then put the archived files onto different G-Tech G-RAID drives (which of course could die after a couple of years). In short, it wasn’t the best way to archive and backup media, especially when an editor wanted to find something. They would have to walk over to the computer where the database was, figure out how to use the UI, search for the project (If it had the right metadata), find the physical drive, plug the drive into their machine, go through different files/folders until they found what they were looking for, copy the however many large files to the SAN, and then start working. Suffice to say I had a lot to learn about archiving and was very excited to attend this event.

I arrived at the event about 30 minutes early, which turned out to be a good thing because I was immediately greeted by some of the experts and presenters from Facilis and StorageDNA. Not fully realizing who I was talking to, I started asking tons of questions about their products. What does StorageDNA do? How can it integrate with Premiere? Why is LTO tape archiving better? Who adds the metadata? How fast can you access the backup? And before I knew it, I was in a heated discussion with Jeff Krueger, worldwide VP of sales at StorageDNA, and Doug Hynes, director of product and solution marketing at StorageDNA, about their products and the importance of archiving. Fully inspired to archive and with tons more questions, our conversation got cut short as the event was about to begin.

While the Facilis offerings look cool (I want all of them!), I wasn’t at the event to buy things — I wanted to hear about the workflow and integration with Adobe Premiere (which is a language I better understand). As someone who would be actually using these products and not in charge of buying them, I didn’t care about the tech specs or new features. “Secure sharing with permissions. Low-level media management. Block-level virtualized storage pools.” It was hardware spec after hardware spec (which you can check out on their website). As the presenter spoke of the new features and specifications of their new models, I just kept thinking about what Jeff Krueger had told me right before the event about archiving, which I will share with you here.

StorageDNA presented on a product line called DNAevolution, which is an archive engine built on LTO tapes. Each model provides different levels of LTO automation, LTO drives and server hardware. As an editor, I was more concerned with the workflow.

The StorageDNA Workflow for Premiere
1. Card contents are ingested onto the SAN.
2. The high-res files are written to LTO/ LTFS through DNAevolution and become permanent camera master files.
3. Low-res proxies are created and ingested onto the SAN for use in editorial. DNAevolution is pointed to the proxies, indexes them and links to the high-res clips on LTO.
4. Once the files are written to and verified on LTO, you can delete the high-res files from your spinning disk storage.
5. The editor works with the low-res proxies in Premiere Pro.
6. When complete, the editor exports an EDL that DNAevolution parses and locates the high-res files on LTO from the database.
7. DNAevolution restores high-res files to the finishing station or SAN storage.
8. The editor can relink the media and distribute in high-res/4K.

The StorageDNA Archive Workflow
1. In the DNAevolution Archive Console, select your Premiere Pro project file.
2. DNAevolution scans the project, and generates a list of files to be archived. It then writes all associated media files and the project itself to LTO tape(s).
3. Once the files are written to and verified on LTO, you can delete the high-res files from your spinning disk storage.

Why I Was impressed
All of your media is immediately backed up, ensuring it is in a safe place and not taking up your local or shared storage. You can delete the high-res files from your SAN storage immediately and work with proxies, onlining later down the line. The problem I’ve had with SAN storage is that it fills up very quickly with large files, eventually slowing down your systems and leading to playback problems. Why have all of your RAW unused media just sitting there eating up your valuable space when you can free it up immediately?

DNAevolution works easily with Adobe’s Premiere, Prelude and Media Encoder. It uses the Adobe CC toolset to automate the process of creating LTO/LTFS camera masters while creating previews via Media Encoder.

DNAevolution archives all media from your Premiere projects with a single click and notifies you if files are missing. It also checks your files for existing camera and clip metadata. Meaning if you add all of that in at the start it will make archiving much easier.

You have direct access to files on LTO tape, enabling third-party applications access to media directly on LTO, such as transcoding, partial restore and playout. DNAevolution’s Archive Asset Management toolset allows you to browse/search archived content and provides proxy playback. It even has a drag and drop functionality with Premiere where you literally drop a file straight from the archive into your Premiere timeline, with little rendering, and start editing.

I have never tested an LTO archive workflow and am curious what other people’s experiences have been like. Feel free to leave your thoughts on LTO vs. Cloud vs. Disk in the comments below.

Chelsea Taylor is a freelance editor who has worked on a wide range of content: from viral videos and sizzles to web series and short films. She also works as an assistant editor on feature films and documentaries. Check out her site a at StillRenderingProductions.com.

Behind the Title: Heresy lead editor Justin Fong

NAME: Justin Fong

COMPANY: Venice, California’s Heresy

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
We are a full-service production company doing everything from prepro to post production, mainly creating work in broadcast commercials and branded content, while dabbling in music videos, television and feature films.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE? Lead Editor

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
Editing is huge — it’s an invisible art form that makes or breaks the content. Literally, without editing, you just got a blob of footage sitting there. My job is to create the story and vision of the project by bringing out its emotion and concept.

Specifically, after the footage is all shot, it’s given to me to start building out — the offline edit. I’m given scripts, concept boards, sound reports, script notes, notes from the director and client(s) to begin with a strong foot forward. From there I create the first version of the edit, while working closely with the director. This version then goes out to clients for approval, and round and round we go until the edit is locked and ready for finishing.

Finishing entails sound mixing and color grading. Then when we have received all those assets back, we go into an online edit that incorporates all the final elements. And finally, we are ready to deliver and broadcast to the world!!!

WHAT SHOULD PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT EDITING? ANY SURPRISES?
I don’t think there’s anything that’s really surprising about editing, but one time I told a friend what I do and her response was, “It sounds easy.” A real peach she is! The technicality of it can be easy, but it takes a lot of patience and creativity to pull through an entertaining or thought-provoking edit. An edit can literally go a million different ways, but I believe there are a few paths that make it great.

WHAT TOOLS DO YOU USE?
I use Apple Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
It’s great to see the project through to its final stage.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
I have to be chained to my desk… until they have a phone that can store terabytes of footage so I can edit on the beach.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
That moment when I pick up my son from day care.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I would love to work in a nice/good restaurant. Just serving people good food and watching them enjoy it; I think that would be a nice experience.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I knew in high school in my media class. I got really excited when cuts came together. Especially when The Matrix came out. I did a ghetto-style version of my own bullet time effect (whenever the camera revolves around the character when they’re fully frozen). I just took a bunch of photos, as my friends stood still, then stitched it together. The final product wasn’t as seamless as the movie, of course, but that excitement was pure joy. So I just gravitated to editing because it made me happy.

Verizon HopeLine

Verizon HopeLine

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
I just finished up some projects for Viacom Velocity with Verizon HopeLine called 6000 Beds about domestic abuse awareness, a YouTube campaign for that last Terminator movie and a Vitacoco ad campaign starring Jane Lynch.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
I did this BMW short film that was about this small town of oddballs in Germany trying to launch the new BMW 1 Series to America using this magnificent, gigantic ramp. It was a failure obviously. I loved it so much because the project was so weird. Really proud of that one.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
My iPhone, my Mac Pro and my TV.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I have a voodoo doll of my producer doll at home that I stick needles into. Just kidding! To de-stress, a nice dinner with my wife does wonders!

‘The Stanford Prison Experiment’: director/editor Kyle Patrick Alvarez

By Randi Altman

College students in a 1971 social experiment at Stanford University tried something new, with horrifying results. For writer/director/editor Kyle Patrick Alvarez, changing roles has been a much more positive experience. His third and most recent film as director is The Stanford Prison Experiment, released nationwide in mid-July but screened at Sundance in January.

The movie, based on the book The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, by the professor who ran the experiment, shows how power can corrupt. This is the third film that Alvarez has helmed (2013’s C.O.G. and 2009’s Easier With Practice), but the first he didn’t write. The screenplay by Tim Talbott, says the director, was one of those well-regarded but un-produced scripts that was known around town.

THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT Billy Crudup & Cast Photo by Jas Shelton

“I had known of the experiment, but not to the great detail and exacting qualities featured in the script,” explains Alvarez (@kylealvarez). “I thought it was fascinating, this challenge of being able to make a film that stayed true to the real events and still worked and functioned as a piece of cinema.”
Alvarez, who also edited The Stanford Prison Experiment, spoke to us about directing and cutting the film.

How did you transition from editing to directing?
When I first moved to LA, I was picking up editing jobs, but during that time I was also trying to get my first film off the ground. So there wasn’t necessarily a time period where I stopped being an editor.

When you’re directing, are you also wearing your editor hat? Does it influence the way you direct?
Yes, one hundred percent. I’m usually shooting 10 to 15 pages a day. I love getting coverage and love to have more options in the editing room — but many times that luxury doesn’t exist. In a lot of cases it’s thinking ahead and knowing I need certain pieces.

Really what it comes down to is being conservative and mindful of how much time we have to shoot. There was a particular day on this film where I turned to the script supervisor and said, “I’m working as an editor today more than a director because we just need to get these scenes in the can, and we have very little time to do it.”

Even if I don’t cut my films in the future, which is a likely possibility, I think there’s some part of me that’s always going to be thinking that way.

THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT Michael Angarano & Tye Sheridan & Johnny Simmons & Ezra Miller & Chris Sheffield Photo by Jas Shelton (2)

So it’s essentially muscle memory?
Yes, I also think of writing when I’m a directing, because I wrote my first two films. Sometimes you have to say, “What part of this scene isn’t working? Is it the directing? Is it the editing? Is it the writing?” Then I try to gather what piece needs a little bit of work and figure out where that is.

It works the other way as well. I try to think about editing while I’m writing because I’m thinking, do I need that, do I need this piece, how are these scenes going to really fit together? I feel like that’s a large part of what I do.

What camera did you use?
The movie takes place in the ’70s, and we explored the possibility of using film, but it was not a financial option for us. I then chose the Red Dragon, for many reasons. Part of it is the post process, part of it is being able to cut on set and work with the raw footage. For a movie like this, where I knew we were going to have really tight timelines for shooting, I liked knowing that I would have a massive amount of data.

I wanted to shoot in 5.5K — I’ve always been happy with the latitude and how it works and the color correction. It’s something I’m really comfortable with. So after that decision was made it was just a question of lenses. We shot on some vintage Leitz lenses, and that ended up playing a big hand in the look of the film, maybe even more so than the camera.

What was the look you wanted from the film?
We didn’t want to re-create what a movie from the ’70s looked like. We didn’t want that weird Grindhouse thing where you’re breaking down the image for no reason or putting in colors that shouldn’t be there or doing camera moves that are unmotivated. For me, it was more about the feeling of it. It’s like looking at Alan J. Pakula’s films. We associate that with the ’70s a lot. All the President’s Men and The Parallax View, to me that’s the kind of feeling I wanted.

We ended up with a combination… a movie that felt like it was from the ’70s but using techniques that were a bit more contemporary. It was a balance — looking at each scene and seeing what felt the most right.

Talk to me about being on set. What was the workflow like?
We had a DIT, and we had a guy who I’m close with running dailies. He was ingesting stuff through an Atomos Ninja, and I would go and watch playback there really quickly. The DIT was really working a little more closely with the cinematographer Jas Shelton.

There was also an assistant editor logging the footage. I was able to look at stuff and try some brief assemblies on lunch breaks to see what was working and what wasn’t. We were on the same location for two weeks of the shoot, so there was time to go back. Not a lot of time, but enough that I felt like if there was an insert needed to help bridge moments together we could get it. For me the goal is to overlap the post-production mentality with the production mentality and the pre-production mentality. I find the best stuff comes from when you’re able to get those things to collide as much as possible.

Let’s dig into the post. When did you start editing and on what system?
I started right away, and I used Adobe’s Premiere Pro on an iMac. We wrapped in October and had to show the film to the Sundance programming committee, so that gave us about a three-week turnaround. It premiered at Sundance in January. There are 25 characters in the film and it was a challenging edit. Because I’m the director as well as the editor, usually the first cut is pretty close to the first edit, but I panicked because this came in at three hours. I had to lose an hour of movie. It was a totally different feeling.

Kyle Alvarez at Sundance picking up the Sloan Feature Film Prize. Photo: Calvin Knight.

Kyle Alvarez at Sundance this year picking up the Sloan Feature Film Prize for ‘Experiment.’ Photo: Calvin Knight.

What else was challenging about the cut?
Almost every scene had at least 12 people in it, and everyone had mics on them. We had an extraordinary amount of audio tracks. My assistant editor, Susan Kim, would manage those as I started rough edits of scenes. If you saw the timeline, it was absurd: every track had massive, massive amounts of audio. Obviously we didn’t want to hear all those in the final edit, so it was just about going through and narrowing down those lines. That played a big part in prepping the movie for post delivery too, which also moved incredibly quickly.

Why did you choose Premiere Pro for the edit?
I learned Final Cut in college and I cut my first film with it, but I hated the transcoding process you had to go through at that time. I was shooting digital, but had to wait to cut stuff! When preparing for my second film a couple of years later, I found Adobe Premiere. They were the first ones to offer native R3D editing. I tested it on my laptop, a standard consumer level laptop, and it worked. It was sort of a revelatory moment for me.

Can you talk about the creative process of editing?
We had scenes with a lot of people, so it was about narrowing in the story or narrowing the scenes into the fundamentals of what they were about… and who they were about. You try to chip away at what’s there and see what’s working. Because we had to cut fast, I used line breakdowns where it gets delivered to me in a timeline that has every line of dialogue from every take put next to each other.

For me you start with the best performance of each line. You put that together and sometimes it’s, “that line doesn’t work with that line, because even though those two are the best individual ones, they don’t work together in the right way.” Then you go through and start swapping some out and you get the pieces, the selections of the dialogue, right. Then you go through and start to shape it and put those pieces together and figure out when you’re going to cut other people — when they’re not talking — and at a certain point it boils down to instincts. It has to feel right.

THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT Billy Crudup Photo by Jas Shelton

Can you point to an example?
There is a moment at the end of the film where a character walks ahead of the camera and goes totally out of focus for a good three or four seconds. As soon as I saw it I thought that really fits that moment. If you’re following some of the rules, that would have ended up in the trash bin, but for some reason as I was cutting, it captured something real. You don’t want to just follow those line breakdowns because you might miss that. It’s making sure no diamonds get lost in the rough of it all.

Any other moments like that?
Not exactly like that, but with this film — thanks specifically to the speed and power of the Adobe system — I did a lot more cropping and zooming in the edit. It wasn’t because we didn’t get what we wanted but because it takes 10 minutes to swap a prime lens out for a zoom. We didn’t have 10 minutes on this movie. If we had primes and I wanted zoom, I knew I was going to have to build it in post.

Thanks to shooting in 5.5K I was able to turn two shots into singles and insert moments when I needed to. I was able to extend zooms so there’s a couple of times where it’s pushing in on or zooming in on a character and the character’s emotions still went on a little bit longer. I was able to just keep that zoom going all the way through. I was doing a lot of that with no render times, and that was massive to me on this movie.

What about the color grade? Who did it and where?
We colored at Light Iron in Hollywood with Ian Vertovec using Quantel Pablo. We never transcoded — we cut straight from our R3Ds and those went straight to Light Iron and they colored straight from that.

What about the audio post?
We used Formosa Group’s Martyn Zub and Paul Carden, both of whom worked with me when I was doing C.O.G. and when they were at Wildfire. They really did an amazing amount of work in a very short period of time. My previous films were these very naturalistic dramadies. This is a movie where the sound was changing, and there’s this crowd and scenes with a lot of people creating chatter. It was a much heavier creative sound endeavor than I was used to. It was definitely an undertaking, but one they tackled head on.

Photos by Jas Shelton

Releases & Updates: We are in this ecosystem together

By Sean Mullen

Just a few weeks ago, Adobe released a major new upgrade to its Creative Cloud services. While these updates are welcomed by the community with excitement, there’s also a period of — for lack of better words — stressful chaos as the third-party software and plug-in developers scramble to ensure their products will be compatible.

When Adobe speaks, the community listens. When Adobe does something new, they listen even closer, because when they do something new, it’s usually some amazing a leap forward that only makes our lives easier and our work look that much better. The latest updates to Adobe Creative Cloud are no different.

All of us at Rampant Design are big fans, and Adobe CC is big part of what we do every day. It’s no mistake that our Style Effects complement Adobe CC so well. But we also understand — being part of this VFX community — that while change is great, those changes have impact on the software and plug-in developers who make their living enhancing the Adobe CC workflow. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

Adobe After Effects CC

Adobe After Effects CC

The Updates
Here are a couple of top-of-mind things that get us excited. We zeroed in on some of the applications and features within CC that impact us most on a daily basis, and those are the features in Premiere Pro and After Effects.

The Iridas acquisition of a couple of years ago is really showing its value, especially with this update. The Lumetri Color panel is amazing!  You’re getting seriously powerful color tools built right into Premiere Pro. That’s pretty significant. Morph Cut is part voodoo and part rocket science — a very cool tool that smoothes out jump cuts and pauses. There are some notable changes to After Effects too. While the AE Comp Scrollbar is now missing, the uninterrupted preview is a fantastic addition. The new Face Tracker is impressive as well.

The Adobe Ecosystem: Plug-Ins
There is most definitely an ecosystem around Adobe, an entire sub-segment of the post production software industry who make tools to enhance the workflow — the plug-in developers.

Adobe Premiere

Adobe Premiere

In any third-party plug-in environment, you have the host developer (in this case Adobe) and the third party plug-in developer  companies like Red Giant, Video Copilot, Genarts, BorisFX, to name a few. While the host developers keep the third parties informed as much as possible, their main focus is on rolling out a solid product release.

So,inevitably, some things slip through the cracks — mainly their ability to interact with the plug-in developers in a timely way — at least from the plug-in developers perspective. As a result, you’ll notice a slew of newsletters and social network posts from these third parties claiming that their products currently do or do not work with the latest release.

I’m sure the weeks up to and following a major release can be a hectic time for developers. Plug-in engineering isn’t free, so there is a small window within that the current build of any given third-party plug-in will work. Major releases come out every year and dot releases happen quite often.

At Rampant, our situation is a little different. We make tools that enhance the CC workflow, but also the plug-ins themselves. Style Effects aren’t alternative to plug-ins, they are complementary. If we were bakers or chefs, Style Effects would be the spices or finishing touches. If we were carpenters, Style Effects would be the varnish. Style Effects work hand in hand with your favorite plug-ins.

Style Effects are QuickTime-based, so as long as you have QuickTime, these effects will work with any Adobe update. In our reality, artists and editors want instant gratification. Very few of us get the time to play. Most producers want to see something yesterday, and this is why the plug-in and Style Effects ecosystems are so critical. Major new host releases will always be challenging — and stressful — but the end product of all of us working together is what helps all of us create amazing content. We’re proud to be a part of it!

Sean Mullen is the founder/president of Rampant Design Tools. He is an award-winning VFX artist, but he’s also the creator of Rampant Style Effects, UHD visual effects and designs. Style Effects are packaged as QuickTime files, enabling artists to drag and drop them to any editing platform.

 

 

Adobe CC updated: color grading inside of Premiere, more

Adobe will showcase advances to its complete line-up of video technologies and services at the 2015 NAB Show. NAB will mark the first public preview of major updates to Adobe Creative Cloud video tools, including the new Lumetri color panel (which is built on tech from SpeedGrade and Lightroom) in Adobe Premiere Pro CC, allowing for instant color corrections; Morph Cut, which easily removes unwanted pauses and jump cuts for a more polished edit sequence; and new Adobe Character Animator capabilities for Adobe After Effects CC that bring two-dimensional characters to life.

Adobe Character Animator

In addition, the company is previewing Project “Candy,” a mobile CC Capture app, which is the latest addition to its set of Creative Cloud-enabled mobile apps. The app is connected to a user’s Creative Cloud profile so that the user can capture production-quality lighting schemes using a smartphone camera and then apply them to video footage in Premiere Pro CC.

Project Candy

Project Candy

Adobe is also announcing enhancements to Adobe Primetime, including innovations in video delivery, monetization, and personalization to enable new OTT business models for content owners, programmers, and pay-TV providers. The company will also preview a new configuration for Adobe Anywhere, a collaborative workflow platform that enables distributed teams using products such as Premiere Pro CC and Adobe Prelude CC to work together.

Keep an eye on this space for upcoming reviews and more detailed coverage.

Filmmaker HaZ Dulull gets in ‘Sync’ with new short film

By Randi Altman

Writer/director/VFX supervisor Hasraf “HaZ” Dulull, whose sci-fi short Project Kronos is currently being adapted into a feature film, recently completed another short, Sync. Dulull says this proof-of-concept piece is part of a package used when developing feature film and TV properties.

Sync’s story is that every 15 seconds, a computer, network or mobile device is hacked by cyber-terrorists. To combat this problem, the fictional Syntek Industries has manufactured data couriers designed from advanced machine robotics. These couriers are known as Syncs, who are programmed to securely deliver data packages without interruption.

This busy London-based pro, who started out in visual effects working on films such as the Continue reading

IBC: Updates to Adobe’s CC coming soon

At the IBC show in Amsterdam, Adobe will be showing soon-to-be-released updates to its Adobe Creative Cloud video desktop apps and Adobe Anywhere for video. These new capabilities build on the company’s integration across video workflows, enabling video pros to create, collaborate and deliver high-quality productions across multiple screens.

Key updates include new media and project management tools in Adobe Premiere Pro CC; a refreshed user-interface across all Adobe video desktop apps; and more streamlined production workflows empowering video professionals to edit more efficiently.

Important new updates will also be added to Adobe Anywhere, which enables large virtual teams of talent to collaborate and efficiently shoot, log, edit, share and finish video productions together.

Adobe also announced new capabilities to Adobe Primetime, a TV delivery and monetization platform for programmers and pay-TV service providers. Adobe is previewing these major updates at IBC 2014, Europe’s largest professional broadcast show held in Amsterdam.  www.adobe.com/go/video.

Details on the updates:
– Support for hardware and standards is accelerated via Adobe Creative Cloud.  Key updates extend native file support, with the addition of AJA RAW. Performance enhancements include accelerated Masking & Tracking and new GPU-optimized playback for better performance when viewing extremely high-res 4K and UltraHD footage from Phantom Cine, Canon RAW and Red R3D files.

– New media and project management features, including Consolidate and Transcode; Search Bins; and Multi-project workflows offer more ease and flexibility, at the project level, so Premiere Pro CC users can complete tasks more efficiently. Adobe Media Encoder now includes Destination publishing with preset options so users can render, deliver and share projects to multiple locations such as FTP sites and their Creative Cloud folder, automating the delivery process. Additionally, Extended Match Source support now includes added support for the QuickTime and DNxHD formats, simplifying the workflow for users who are transcoding or rendering content.

– Streamlined workflows and ongoing refinements make everyday tasks easier and faster inside Adobe CC video apps, including Timeline Views in Adobe Premiere Pro CC; Curve adjustments and Look Hover previews in Adobe SpeedGrade CC; and Rough Cut Dissolves and keyboard shortcuts for tagging in Adobe Prelude CC.

Adobe Anywhere, a workflow platform that allows users of Premiere Pro CC and Adobe After Effects CC to work together using centralized media and assets across standard networks, will also be updated.

“The new features in Adobe Premiere Pro CC are amazingly beneficial to my feature film editing workflow,” says feature film editor Vashi Nedomanksy, who cut Sharknado 2 recently. “The ability to open multiple projects all at once without importing assets allows for effortless collaboration in multiple editor projects, while Search Bins add a brand-new layer of organization and custom specificity that help me prioritize my assets. I also love how the latest release unleashes more GPU power so I can dominate any camera codec from 4K to RAW and beyond, natively and in realtime.”

Adobe Anywhere complements Creative Cloud applications and enables collaboration for large organizations working with video, including broadcasters, schools and government agencies. Enhanced support for Adobe After Effects CC enables visual and motion graphic artists to collaborate more effectively so they can spend more time working creatively and less time searching for missing footage and collecting files. Additionally, new options in the Adobe Anywhere app for iPad are added, so users can scrub and review video footage faster.

 

Work boots get CG reboot thanks to Sullivan Branding

By Claudia Kienzle

With its Rocky Elements work boots about to hit the market, Ohio-based Rocky Outdoor Gear wanted a very visually dynamic product video to demonstrate the many intricacies and features of their new boot collection.

The key distinction is that the Rocky Elements product line is comprised of four trade-specific work boots designed for the unique rigors of working with wood, block, steel or dirt.

Rocky’s goal was to produce a cost-effective cinematic sales video that would dramatically convey how the design and craftsmanship of the four different boot styles benefit workers in those occupational environments.

Looking for ideas, they approached Sullivan Branding — a full-service advertising, marketing Continue reading

Vashi Nedomansky edits up a storm for ‘Sharknado 2’

By Randi Altman

When the over-the-top made-for-TV movie Sharknado splashed onto TV screens last year, the reaction was fierce. People, including high-profile celebs, took to Twitter to talk about it. Late-night talk show hosts included jokes about it in their monologues.

Sharknado, which told the story of a group of Angelenos trying to save themselves and loved ones from a deadly hurricane that brought with it deadly sharks — on land, in houses, on highways — became a pop-culture phenomenon.

The film’s popularity was not lost on its creators, The Asylum and SyFy, which are about to launch Sharknado 2: The Second One in June. Director Anthony C. Ferrante returns for the Continue reading