By Laura Murphy, Assistant to Shane Hurlbut, ASC
As a long time user of Adobe programs such as Premiere Pro, Photoshop and After Effects, I was concerned about the pending move to subscription services when it was first announced. There was (and still is) a lot of bad press towards Adobe and Creative Cloud, including a petition. When Shane told me that we would be using a one year trial of Adobe’s service, I was pretty excited to see what was really being offered.
For those of you that are interested in a cost analysis of the subscription service, compared to buying software and upgrades, CNET has done just that and you can read it here.
Tools for the Cinematographer and the Photo Journalist
This post is geared for those who work with low or no budget, shoot short films, mini-documentaries or are a one-man band type shooter, highlighting the power and versatility of Adobe products for production work.
In my opinion, the most powerful aspect of Adobe Creative Cloud is that you basically have a mini-studio. CC offers full access to all of their software, as well as some extra additions to programs such as After Effects. For the independent creative, it means being able to design (graphics, storyboards, style frames), organize large portfolios or catalogs, shoot, edit video and audio, color grade, create visuals effects, motion graphics and/or digital matte paintings, work in 3D, and publish to print, web or social media — all within their product line. Because you have complete access to all the software, it is an excellent opportunity to learn other disciplines that enhance your work, even if it is not your main skill. This has become an increasingly important qualification in journalism. One is not only expected to shoot video as well as photographs, but to take the project through post production and final delivery.
Here is a look inside CC when you login:
As you can see, there is a lot to explore and Adobe has system requirements, new features, forum links and a feature description for each software application.
The desktop downloader keeps tabs on what is installed and needs updating:
There are a few new features that come with Creative Cloud such as Behance, which is a free online platform for publishing your portfolio of projects and/or peruse other creatives’ work worldwide. Other new features are directly linked to specific programs like After Effects and the inclusion of Cinema 4D Lite.
As an independent creative, you may want to expand your business or improve your skill set. Here are some programs that might help you meet that goal:
Lightroom: This is a fantastic program for creating catalogs and collections of your stills. You can also use the photo editor for touch ups. Many professional photographers and cinematographers are contracting their images to stock footage companies. This program is a very efficient and convenient way to do so. You can add watermarks, keywords, ratings etc. to images for searches and export with or without them. All EXIF data is automatically available so you can search by your camera settings. You can also continue to work on images that are offline. You can share images with many online social media platforms from within the program. Video is supported as well. Lightroom can still be purchased as a stand-alone product.
Photoshop: Although it is mostly used for still work, you can work with video too. Time lapse footage, stop motion and color correction can be handled here. (You can browse through Bridge and play the video clips in real-time for pre-selection). Import your video and do basic edits, trim a clip, add transitions, color grade, add music etc. If you are a Photoshop user, it may be easier to handle some video work here because of your familiarity with it rather than taking on Premiere or SpeedGrade.
Premiere Pro: Premiere is a great tool for independent filmmakers. It is efficient in its media management and offers the ability to edit natively 5k or iPhone. You can sync settings to another edit bay anywhere and use dynamic link to roundtrip for color grading and visuals effects. Integration exists with third party applications/plugins such as Film Convert, Red Giant, and Twixtor. (These also work with AE.) It offers alternative solutions to your project in post that may not be affordable when shooting. Premiere also has color correction tools or you can export with dynamic link to SpeedGrade. Premiere can be used in workflows that also include DaVinci Resolve and with DSLR and DNG footage.
After Effects: With the Creative Cloud version, Cinema 4D Lite is integrated, giving you the ability to add 3D motion graphics to your workflow. If you are not familiar with this software, visit http://www.maxon.net. Another tool After Effects offers that can save footage is Warp Stabilzer VFX, which removes camera shake. One of the newest features in this version of AE is the Refine Edge Tool, which as an extension to the Roto Brush can be used to refine edges on images shot without a green screen.
SpeedGrade: This is a layered based color grading program which allows you to add image layers (such as a vignette) over color layers. You are not limited to how many primary or secondary color layers used. Layers will be familiar as they are used in Photoshop and After Effects. SpeedGrade also has presets for looks. In addition, you can also conform back to RAW clips from footage like the RED Epic.
Audition: Edit your audio (including multi-tracks) and remove unwanted sound by analyzing a section of your recording or record voice over. Use automatic speech alignment to repair lip sync issues and roundtrip into Premiere and back to further audio refinements as needed.
These are just a few programs that could be extremely beneficial in working with limited budgets. They give you the tools to add more to your projects when they can’t be realized any other way. Creative Cloud gives you an opportunity to learn new skills, experiment and create. To have all this in one place, working seamlessly together, opens the doors to many possibilities. I like possibility…. it makes things happen.