Imagine creating upwards of 150 wedding videos a month—that’s roughly five each day! Each one has to be creative and stunning; after all, the videos memorialize one of the most important events in couples’ lives. At Sandals Resorts, a talented crew of four manages production of wedding videos for the company’s 21 Caribbean resorts. The team also creates promotional spots for the resorts, as well as for other subsidiaries within the Sandals Resorts International group of companies. Sandals Resorts Group Manager of Media Management Egbert v. Frankenberg and Creative Director Marcel Lee sat down with us to talk about the switch to Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 from Apple Final Cut Pro and how they stay efficient, meet tight turnaround times, and produce vast quantities of videos without sacrificing quality.
Adobe: Tell us more about Sandals Resorts.
Frankenberg: Sandals is best known for its 21 resorts in the Caribbean. The family of resorts includes Sandals, Beaches, Grand Pineapple, Fowl Cay Resorts, and collection of private villas. We often say that our resorts are “For Two People in Love,” so a lot of people come to Sandals to get married and or to enjoy their honeymoon. But the group of companies actually extends beyond just resorts to include auto dealerships of high-end car brands Audi, Land Rover, Jaguar, Honda, and Volkswagen— in Jamaica.
Adobe: What’s the role of the video production team?
Frankenberg: There are two sides to our business—wedding video production for all resort locations and commercial video production for the resorts and other Sandals companies. Our biggest workload revolves around the wedding videos. During peak season, which is March through June, we produce approximately 150 wedding videos per month. Even during the slow times, we generate about 80 wedding videos per month. It’s large production, and we have to be sure the quality is exceptional for every wedding video. After all, each video portrays a once in a lifetime event. Sandals represents a high-end brand, so we have to ensure the videos reflect the same.
Adobe: What type of cameras do you use for the wedding videos?
Lee: We shoot primarily using Sony cameras (FS100, NX5, and VG20) using the AVCHD codec. We also occasionally integrate Go Pro or Canon DSLR footage, and even archival footage shot in standard definition or film into our productions. What’s great about Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 is that we can combine all of these different formats into a single timeline—the ability to bring different formats together and run through them without transcoding or rendering is a huge timesaver.
Adobe: How long does it take to produce a wedding video?
Frankenberg: Most of the time, we want to hand a finished DVD of the wedding video to the couple before they leave their Sandals vacation spot—and most stays are one to two weeks. With each wedding, we download AVCHD raw files from our Sony cameras, feed them into our server, and assign footage to one of our editors so they can start editing right away without having to transcode. We’ve created Adobe After Effects compositions that can be used across all editors to create an amazing look and feel and each editor can also customize the After Effects compositions for each guest as needed. When the edit is complete, we export the files straight to Adobe Encore to create a wedding DVD for the couple. Hence, we only have to render our projects once during the authoring process and this really makes CS6 valuable to us because the Dynamic Link functionality helps to cut out all unnecessary rendering steps. It’s very efficient—we typically get wedding videos out to clients within one to three days and clients are really pleased with the quality.
Adobe: What was it like switching from Final Cut Pro to Adobe Premiere Pro?
Lee: Overall, we found it very easy to switch from Final Cut Pro to Adobe Premiere Pro. It didn’t feel like we were re-learning things; we were just getting accustomed to different shortcuts. Dynamic Link between Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Encore saves us so much time and it’s so convenient not having to export files and ingest them into the timeline. We realize a 35% to 40% savings in time and productivity working with Adobe Premiere Pro versus Final Cut Pro. The first time I used Adobe Premiere Pro to edit a project I finished so quickly that I actually felt like I should still be working!
Adobe: What’s different when you’re creating ads or promotional spots versus wedding videos?
Lee: We do about two to three promotional videos each month for the car dealerships to stimulate sales, as well as videos for the individual resorts. The post-production process is similar to the wedding videos, but the commercial videos require a bit more pre-production. We may rent lights, jibs, and cranes, for instance. We have dollies and sliders and sometimes do rolling shots, or shots out of a helicopter. After Effects CS6 and Mocha are amazing, and we love the Warp Stabilizer and 3D Camera Tracker. All of these features let us incorporate previously more tedious effects into our edits because they can be done more quickly and precisely. Our commercial video content is primarily exported to the web for viewing on our websites or YouTube.
Adobe: What other Adobe Creative Cloud software do you use?
Frankenberg: In our video production processes, both wedding and commercial, we use Adobe Photoshop when we need to integrate still images and Adobe Illustrator for graphic content such as EPS logo files. Photoshop and Illustrator are also used to produce banners, fliers, billboards, and even things like car vinyls. Our graphic designer uses Adobe InDesign for any print layouts and we also use Adobe Dreamweaver for our various websites.
Adobe Story Plus and Adobe Prelude have become part of our production environment as well. We now use Story Plus to create storyboards more efficiently and collaborate through Adobe Creative Cloud with our PR and marketing departments, as the different teams are spread over four different countries. On set, we started to use Prelude to get rough cuts together so the marketing team can get an idea of the final product. It also helps to see the flow of an edit and make last minute adjustments to scenes.
Adobe: What are some of the business benefits of working with Adobe Premiere Pro CS6?
Frankenberg: Native support for the AVCHD codec in Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 saves us a lot of time and money because we don’t need to transcode the footage. As a matter of fact, we technically don’t need to render anything until we load our Adobe Premiere Pro project into Adobe Encore to create the DVD. Eliminating the need to archive ProRes has cut down hard drive use by at least 70%, so we don’t have to purchase as many raid systems to accommodate all of that data, which can become very expensive. The time savings and efficiencies of our new workflow have also allowed us to broaden our scope in terms of products we plan to offer in the next two years. We’re very excited about the future!
Adobe: What are some of your next exciting projects that you will work on with CS6?
Frankenberg: We are actually about to start filming a mini documentary about Bob Marley’s 1977 Land Rover Series III. The car has been part of the Bob Marley museum for many years and is now being completely restored. It’s going to be a four month project and we will have to incorporate time-lapse as well as archived footage, along with interviews with the Marley family. It’s an exciting project that we are looking forward to being a part of.