Adobe Creative Cloud for the Indie Filmmakers
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 toward those who work with low or no budget, shoot short films, and mini-documentaries, or are one-man band-type shooters, highlighting the power and versatility of Adobe products for production work.
The most powerful aspect of Adobe Creative Cloud is that you basically have a mini-studio. CC offers complete 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 catalog, shoot, edit video and audio, color grade, creates 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.
Since 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 log in:
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 perusing 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.
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 a dynamic link to roundtrip for color grading and visual 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 a 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 Stabilizer VFX, which removes camera shake. One of the newest features in this version of AE is the Refine Edge Tool. This 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 that 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 recording 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.
Buy the Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription:
B&H – amazon.com – eBay – Adorama
By Laura Murphy, Assistant to Shane Hurlbut, ASC
Schedule 1-on-1 Video Call with Joaquin Elizondo
Looking for mentorship in the film industry? Schedule a 1-on-1 meeting with master colorist David Cole (The Lord of the Rings) today! This is where you can get expert advice from an industry professional on your career or a particular project.
About Filmmakers Academy Master Colorist David Cole
Joaquin Elizondo has over 20 years of experience as an editor and currently works in the world of scripted television shows in Hollywood. His most recent editing credits include Narcos: Mexico (Netflix), The Hot Zone: Anthrax (NatGeo), and Dark Winds (AMC) and is currently working on Griselda, a new Netflix limited series starring Sofia Vergara. Before arriving in Los Angeles, Joaquin worked in unscripted television for several years in New York City where he edited content for HBO Sports, NBC, and Telemundo, and was the lead editor on Bravo’s late-night talk show Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen.
Joaquin majored in Film & Video Studies at the University of Michigan and grew up in the San Diego-Tijuana border region, where he began his career cutting a wide range of projects that included news, promos, commercials, and documentaries. As someone who has sought out and benefited from mentoring, Joaquin is now taking on the role of mentor. He helps aspiring editors and assistants in navigating the path to achieving their career goals. He created the Hollywood Editing Mentor Program and Podcast to provide guidance and support for those trying to break into or advance their careers in post-production.
Honestly, I don’t think it was “bad press” as much as it was a (very)vocal minority of detractors that want to “own” the software outright (which was never how it worked to begin with) and didn’t see the value in what Adobe presenting. Even if you skipped 2-3 upgrade versions with the old retail model, this still saves you money AND gives you a more complete, and more powerful set of tools.
For me the integration of Speedgrade fully into the suite is a real plus. I can now do everything from the quickest jobs to creating a feature. If you’ve not had a chance to check out the shot matcher in Speedgrade. You can literally take a image from picasso, turner, rembrandt or even other films and create a base colour grade.
SpeedGrade looks pretty interesting to try out. and the warp stabilizer is still king in my book versus the other NLEs. But I’m just not a fan of the subscription service. Sure you get everything but take Final Cut Studio. You got all the tools you needed (NLE, audio editor, color software, motion and compressor) for 1000 bucks one time payment. with creative cloud you’re paying well over 1000 bucks for just a few years of use. and if you back out you loose everything! I liked the looks of the Behance sharing, especially the “portfolio” website you can create for free but guess what you have to pay a fee for that too if you want it online which is ridiculous if you are already paying 50 a month for the service anyway. my two cents.
For the time being I will stick to final cut 7 and X and my licensed copy of lightroom (70 bucks one time payment). I really want to use CC but it cannot be justified at the price. I already pay enough for tuition and the student rate is only for the first year anyway with CC even though I have three more years in school
In Europe / Germany we must pay much more: 61,49 Euro/month, that’s 81,9 $ compared to 49.99$/month USA. Difference: 31,91 $ per month! And, we can’t rent the US-version, it is not allowed.