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Adobe Production Studio Workflow

Taking the new package out for test spin By Stephen Schleicher

A 40 pound package arrived at the front steps of the Digital Media Net Central Division offices the other day.  Inside was the latest release of the Adobe Production Studio, which contains everything you need to create a wicked cool multimedia presentation, music video, independent film, Web video -- the list goes on and on.  When I was asked to create a new news open for a local channel, I decided to take this new bundle out for spin.

If you have not examined the software that comes in the Adobe Production Studio then be prepared for surprise.  Not only does it include Adobe After Effects 7.0 (an awesome tool for motion graphics and visual effects) and Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0 (the video editing application), but the Premium Edition also includes Adobe Photoshop CS2, Adobe audition 2.0, Adobe encore DVD 2.0, and Adobe Illustrator CS2.

I started the creation process with Adobe Photoshop CS2, where I laid out backgrounds, full-page graphics, OTS (over the shoulder) graphics, lower thirds, and anything else that was needed.  While Adobe Photoshop CS2 has not undergone a major change in this bundle, it is a great place to begin, as the layer files can easily be taken into After Effects, Premiere Pro, or Encore DVD for further manipulation.


Since I use Adobe After Effects for most of my work, this is where I really appreciated the connectivity between the Adobe products.  I was able to import the layered Photoshop file to act as a guide when creating the motion background, and later, I was able to use elements from the Photoshop layers to create an animated lower third. 

For the news open, the executive producer wanted to use a green screen for all of the anchors so they would appear in the open.  And because the station had them, all of the footage was shot with Sony's Z1U HDV camera.  As I pointed out in my After Effects tutorial, 7.0 allows you to do a pseudo capture of video with the assistance of Premiere Pro 2.0.  While this may seem like a clunky workaround, it is actually quite handy because you can quickly access your video files inside Premiere Pro later.  Both Premiere Pro 2.0 and After Effects 7.0 support the HDV footage natively and this saved time by not having to use some funky codec conversion method.

Once all the animated elements were created in Adobe After Effects, it was off to Premiere Pro 2.0 for the final edit.  In the past I have had less than favorable opinions of Adobe Premiere simply because of the clunky workflow and problematic interface.  I was really impressed with how easy it was to edit, modify the timeline, and import a variety of files.  Notice I said that I opened a Premiere Pro 2.0 after creating the Adobe After Effects projects.  I said nothing about RENDERING the Adobe After Effects projects.  This is one of the great workflow improvements made by Adobe in this Production Studio.  You can import After Effects projects directly into Premiere Pro and not have to worry about your producer or director making a change that requires you to go back and re-render everything again. 

If you need to make a modification, simply open Adobe After Effects, change the file, and save it again.  Yes, it is that easy.

Now this isn't a one-way street.  If you have a complex Premiere Pro sequence that requires a special effect, color correction, tweaking, or other modification, you can open that in After Effects.

The client had provided a bitmapped image of their logo, but for this project a 3D representation of the logo was required.  I opened the ?offending bit-mapped file in Adobe Illustrator, created the necessary vector outlines and save as a new file.  Since Adobe Production Studio does not include a 3D package, and since the Zaxwerks plug-in for After Effects really slows down the system, I decided to take the Illustrator file and extrude it in Newtek's Lightwave 3D 8.5.  This was the only time I needed to go outside the Adobe Production Studio to do any work.  After rendering out the extruded logo it was imported into Premiere as an image sequence.

Music was already a given for this open, but at the last minute the executive producer decided that he wanted a voiceover to accompany the intro.  The voiceover needed some enhancing (it was a little soft and needed to be pumped up a bit) so it was off to Adobe Audition. 

While the interconnectivity between Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Photoshop are really great, the interaction with Adobe audition is not so good.  If you need to tweak audio in Premiere you right click on the audio clip and select Edit in Adobe Audition.  This launches the application and imports that particular portion of the audio track for you to tweak.  When you are satisfied with your enhancements you simply close the file and it is updated in Premiere Pro instantly.  While this doesn't sound too bad, what I was really looking for is the ability to open an entire Premiere Pro project in Audition as a multitrack project so I could do all of my final mix there.  Perhaps this is something Adobe will work on for the next release, as round tripping a project this way would make the workflow more convenient.

With the intro complete, I exported the entire project back to tape.  It ran later that night and everyone loved it.  Unfortunately, this project didn't require a DVD for the final output, so I wasn't able to use Adobe Encore as part of my workflow test.

Probably the most impressive part of this entire process was not the interactivity between the programs thanks to Adobe's Dynamic Link, the improvements to all the new applications, or the fact that I was able to produce an entire news graphics package in a short deadline, but rather that I was able to accomplish all of this on a HP laptop running the AMD Turion 64-bit mobile technology processor with 2 GB of RAM.  Just a few years ago it would have been impossible for me to have multiple Adobe applications open at the same time to do this type of work, let alone the processing power to complete the project on a short deadline.

Overall I'm extremely pleased with the Adobe Production Studio Premium collection.  The tight integration and ease of use means that content creation is now in the hands of the masses.  A camera, a laptop, and with enough hard drive space, anyone from a major motion picture studio on down has the ability to generate high quality video and audio for audiences worldwide.

For more information on the Adobe production suite go to www.adobe.com.


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Stephen Schleicher has crossed the country several times over the last couple of years going from Kansas to Atlanta , Georgia, and Southern California. In his time traveling, he has worked as an editor, graphic designer, videographer, director, and producer on a variety of video productions ranging from small internal pieces, to large multimedia
corporate events.

Currently, Stephen shares his knowledge with students at Fort Hays State University who are studying media and web development in the Information Networking and Telecommunications department. When he is not shaping the minds of university students, Stephen continues to work on video and independent projects for State and local agencies and organizations as well as his own ongoing works.

He is also a regular contributor to Digital Producer, Creative Mac, Digital Webcast, Digital Animators, and the DV Format websites, part of the Digital Media Online network of communities (www.digitalmedianet.com), where he writes about the latest technologies, and gives tips and tricks on everything from Adobe After Effects, to Appleā??s Final Cut Pro, LightWave 3D, to shooting and lighting video.

He has a Masters Degree in Communication from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. As a forward thinker, he wrote his Thesis on how Information Islands and e-commerce would play a major role in keeping smaller communities alive. This of course was when 28.8 dialup was king and people hadnā??t even invented the word e-commerce.

And, he spends what little free time he has biking, reading, traveling around the country, and contemplating the future of digital video and its impact on our culture. You can reach him at schleicher@mindspring.com

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