October 10, 2014

How an All-Adobe Workflow Made the Post Production of 'Gone Girl' Insanely Efficient

Fincher Gone Girl Adobe Workflow
David Fincher is no stranger to being among the first to adopt new technologies for the making of his films.

From his use of RED cameras to incorporating advanced After Effects compositing into the post production pipeline, it seems like Fincher is always on the cutting edge of tailoring the production's technological decisions for how he personally makes films. His latest release, Gone Girl, is another step in that direction. His team chose to use an all-Adobe workflow for the film's editorial and visual effects, and the result is a highly simplified and efficient workflow unlike any other in the Hollywood filmmaking space.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2o6pjd2AU9c

With many major films these days, various parts of the post production process are outsourced to specialized companies. While this has the potential be a beneficial process both for creative and budgetary reasons, it isn't, by any stretch of the imagination, dynamic, nor is there much possibility for real time collaboration. That's where the all-Adobe workflow employed on Gone Girl differs from the pack.

By bringing editorial and VFX under the same roof, the Gone Girl post production team was able to work together on a group of networked workstations, allowing for seamless collaboration. Using networked computers is nothing new, but by centering the post production around Premiere Pro, the speed with which the editorial and VFX departments could communicate and collaborate was unparalleled.

Here's what Kirk Baxter, the 2 time Academy Award winning editor of Gone Girl, had to say about how Fincher likes to shoot for the edit, and how the Adobe workflow enhanced the review process.

The way David overshoots the frame in his films allows me to edit within the shot, then I throw it to the guys to sew together in After Effects, make it spotless, and stabilize the shot. That way David can judge the shots by the performance and delivery, rather than making comments on the technical aspects.

The real magic of this workflow was Adobe's dynamic linking between Premiere Pro and After Effects. Baxter could create sequences, send certain shots off for VFX work in After Effects, and then when the VFX artists saved their comps, they would be automatically updated within Baxter's timelines. This ability to both edit and create subtle VFX at the same time and place, then marry the two in real time, made the revision process much simpler and more streamlined. Add to that the fact that all of this was done with 6K footage, and it's clear just how impressive this post workflow really was.

From the sounds of it, Fincher's team was extremely satisfied with the streamlined Adobe workflow, and they will continue to refine and use those tools for future films. Whether Hollywood will begin to adopt similar Adobe workflows is questionable, as most post houses are still firmly rooted in Avid. However, if nothing else, the post production of Gone Girl proves that Premiere Pro is more than capable of handling the editorial of a major Hollywood film.     

Your Comment

30 Comments

love it!

October 10, 2014 at 6:50PM, Edited October 10, 6:50PM

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David Sharp
Video Editor, Cinematographer, Teacher
398

A huge benefit to the Adobe suite is that it's accessible to anyone. From no budget to Hollywood.

October 10, 2014 at 7:01PM

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Alex Smith
Documentary/Cinematographer
1378

I wonder if they used speedgrade for the grading too...

October 10, 2014 at 7:18PM, Edited October 10, 7:18PM

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Michael Van Ostade
Director
239

I believe they used Quantel's Pablo Rio for the color grade and finish.

October 11, 2014 at 12:02AM

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Rob Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker Freedom
4503

There is probably a lot more to the story than what is in this video, it is a marketing tool after all. With the exception of the amazing AE integration, there is nothing that couldn't have also been done using FCP X's extremely powerful Red workflow. The ability to make selects with 6K Dragon footage while proxies are being generated is something PP can't do. They even used Intelligent Assistence's Change List X (X as in FCPX) by XML round tripping to FCP7 to track edit changes. There were a lot of very smart people pushing this wagon up the hill.

October 10, 2014 at 7:59PM

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It's a workflow conspiracy!

October 10, 2014 at 8:06PM

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Mark Hinchey
Shooter
159

Ha, I wish it was a conspiracy, that would be entertaining. Adobe is totally justified to brag about this, it's just good business to leave out anything that may have gone awry.

October 10, 2014 at 8:11PM

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Next year maybe they'll discover Sony Vegas.

October 10, 2014 at 10:44PM

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Cosmin Gurau
Director
370

Very very cool. I'm a big fan of Adobe Premier and After Effects. Never looked back after switching from Final Cut.

October 11, 2014 at 11:51AM, Edited October 11, 11:51AM

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Matt Bastos
Filmmaker/Writer
815

What does he mean by this?
"The way David overshoots the frame in his films allows me to edit within the shot"
Is he talking about the fact he shoots 6K and being able to zoom in?

October 11, 2014 at 1:36PM

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I assume, that he is shooting everything a little bit wider than the wants the final frame to be. This way you can work on the exact framing in post, zoom in and stabilize without making the frame smaller than you really wanted it to be while shooting. Hope that makes sense. :)

October 11, 2014 at 3:18PM

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Petr Eremin
Director, Editor | Cameraman, Colorist
98

Yep. There's a write-up of Girl With A Dragon Tattoo in American Cinematographer. Jeff Cronenweth says, “David also likes to have the option of manipulating the final composition or stabilizing the image, and with the Epic we had 5K to work with. We utilized the extra resolution to create our own frame lines, smaller than what you get using the entire sensor. Actually, we did that with both the One and the Epic, allowing room for repositioning shots. For example, if an operator clipped an eyebrow on a tilt up, we had plenty of space to correct the composition. We also used the extra space created by the extra resolution to help stabilize many shots, including all the driving footage we shot in Stockholm.”

October 13, 2014 at 7:36AM, Edited October 13, 7:36AM

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Adrian Tan
Videographer
969

Wait! Didn't they say that they edited this on HP Z machines? When I look at the promo I see that the main workstations were Macs.

October 11, 2014 at 7:25PM

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Vlastimir Stevanovic
Filmmaker
109

Thanks so much for sharing this. It's made me go back and re evaluate Premier Pro. I have been loyal to FCPX, bucking the trend of the initial resistance and we love it for short form video. The round tripping is clunky though and as we are using AE more an more its worth having another look. Especially as we are paying for it any way through CC!

October 11, 2014 at 11:25PM, Edited October 11, 11:25PM

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Jonathan Glazier
Creative Director
91

You might want to check fcp.co, a site with loads of FCP X info.

October 23, 2014 at 1:23AM, Edited October 23, 1:23AM

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Charlie K
1403

They mentioned a "networked workflow" a few times with editors in another room etc. Were they using Adobe Anywhere or is there another way of achieving this?

October 12, 2014 at 12:31AM

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Nick
Director/Editor/Compositer
269

First of all, that was so hard to watch with all that annoying music playing in the background. Brutal cut for talking about the cut...

Second. I still dont understand people pointing out that all this can be done in X,Y,Z as well. Such a useless feedback loop.

It would be interesting to read their computer specs? anyone have a link to any of that information?

October 13, 2014 at 9:27AM

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Seth Evans
Editor
337

October 13, 2014 at 3:58PM

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Jake Keller
Assistant Editor
74

ever since I edited my first project on adobe premiere I havent looked back. I have always loved the workflow with adobe, especially after learning some shortcuts and tricks. I still don't feel I know even half of it, so I know I can utilize it so much better. I'm surprised more filmmakers dont use it.

October 13, 2014 at 10:01AM

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Luis Garcia
Director/Editor
227

Once you Understand your tool you can so what you want, but like it or not, the Adobe suite is freakin awesome and you just cant beat that. They have listened to the people and have given the people what then want and not give the people what they think the people want and Apple is known for assuming... and that is revealed in FCPX... a lot of people changed editing systems after FCPX. But again a Tool is a Tool but some are more efficient than others

October 13, 2014 at 10:56AM, Edited October 13, 10:56AM

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Wentworth Kelly
DP/Colorist/Drone Op
2358

Looks great, sounds great. Hoping for more like this in the future.

Having said that, I've always had some issues with the PP & AE integration, especially on complex AE comps not translating correctly to PP. Anyone else had that? Can't remember from the top of my head what the exact issues were but I think they were something along the lines of skipping frames or sort of 'corrupting' the AE file so that you had to start from scratch. I think these were possibly to do with retimed footage.

October 15, 2014 at 12:31PM

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PJ Palomaki
Cinematographer | Motion Graphics
341

Aside from sending comps to AE (then undoing the transformed clips in Premiere to avoid issues), dynamic linking between Premiere and After Effects is a nightmare...I don't know how anyone could possibly praise it.

October 19, 2014 at 9:50AM

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I have always love adobe products. Never had experience with FCP tho. But still IMO, adobe makes work more efficient. Used Vegas Pro before, and after Using all adobe product, I never look back

October 15, 2014 at 2:02PM

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Mohd Nor Ariza Bin Kamil
Cinematographer and Video Editor
163

How did they manage all of the media?

As far as I know there is now way for multiple people to work in a single PP project, so how were the comps "automatically updated within Baxter's timeline"?

What about VFX versioning? How did they keep track of that?

October 16, 2014 at 3:59PM

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In that example they're sending the clips/frames directly out to After Effects, which means it'll become an AE project that can be worked on separately and will automatically update in Premiere when saved.

October 19, 2014 at 7:00AM

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How? I understand how in works in principle on a single system, but what's the setup when you have multiple people all working with the same sequences? Assuming that the PP project is kept on the server with the media, can multiple people (in this case Editor and VFX compositor) access it and write to it simultaneously?

October 20, 2014 at 12:55PM

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I guess I don't really understand the point of cheerleading a workflow or piece of software, nor do I see any information about how this particular workflow/software is "insanely efficient". It seems to me that 2 picture editors, probably an assistant or two, and however many VFX people all trying to access and work the same PP project is even workable at all, now that I think about it.....

October 16, 2014 at 4:09PM

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Fascinating!

October 18, 2014 at 12:14AM

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Chuck Dotson
Director, Designer, Thinker, and Trouble Maker
82

Question: I recently purchased a Sony A7s to shoot a short film. My 2010 MacBook Pro can burly handle 8 bit 1080p SLOG 2.
I will be using adobe premier pro
I'm going to get the Atomos shogun to record 4K raw with my sony a7s.
Should I get a Mac Pro 6 core or a Fully loaded iMac 5k 27 inch??

October 19, 2014 at 4:13AM

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Aaron Cabrero Jr
Writer/Director/Producer
168

A faster computer is always the ideal option, but not always the best option. If you can afford it, yes you should.

Another option is to offline edit:

1. Convert all your 4K Raw footage to a smaller, easier to work with format (eg. low-bitrate Prores or DNxHD) with Adobe Media Encoder.

2. Edit with these new files.

3. Right click on the clips > Make Offline, and then right click again > Link Media, and relink to the original RAW clips.

4. Do your grade and VFX with these originals.

October 19, 2014 at 5:41AM

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Tim Green
Director
100

I really like working with CC, I did find there were some teething problems with 2014 (seemed to be quite a lot more of a memory/processor hog than CC used to be, just me?) but the new update that's just pushed out seems to have fixed it up. The new template compositions have made my life a hell of a lot simpler when it comes to adding graphic elements for names and text, props to NFS for highlighting them when 2014 came out!

October 19, 2014 at 7:04AM

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