ARF & Co. Creates for the World's Biggest Brands with the UltraStudio Pro and CS5
Anthony Jacques, Motion Control Supervisor at ARF & Co., knows that technology waits for no man. So he decided to chase after it. And in his pursuit, he discovered Blackmagic Design’s UltraStudio Pro, the world’s first broadcast quality SD/HD capture and playback and uncompressed 10-bit editing solution for USB 3.0 computers!
ARF & Co. is in the business of creatively servicing some of the world’s top brands and household names. And while in that process, the commercial production company that calls Hoboken, New Jersey home has acquired a knack for developing cutting edge production services that keep them ahead of the curve and allow them to show off their technical prowess whenever a client walks in the door.
This push to be three steps ahead of the crowd has led Jacques to the fusion of the UltraStudio Pro and Adobe Creative Suite 5. In doing so, he has bridged the gap between standard definition and HD, and successfully integrated with company’s Red, Phantom and ALEXA cameras.
After 20 years in the industry, Jacques has developed a sixth sense when it comes to outfitting his studio with the best tools available to complete any project at hand. He has also had the chance to work some of the most rare and sophisticated equipment in the industry. This includes the TechnoDolly telescopic camera crane—the holy grail of motion control—of which there are currently only eight in the world!
The UC Santa Barbara film school alum started out at the Kodak lab in Hollywood before moving onto music video production at Limelight, and then to the Chandler Group in LA. He diversified his resume further, working on True Lies and James and the Giant Peach, before moving to the east coast.
This was when and where Jacques began his crusade to stay ahead of new production and post workflows. He explains, “It is hard to keep up with so many incredible new products flooding the market, not to mention the expectations that skyrocket as a result. Now that we’re shooting more and more on RED, Phantom and ALEXA, we cannot downgrade when it comes to monitoring.”
To build a new workflow, Jacques needed to monitor and playback in high quality, but also had to be able to distribute that content anywhere. In addition, he needed the flexibility to record and playback on the camera itself for immediate feedback.
He was looking for the type of speed and performance made possible only by new USB 3.0 technology, and his demands seemed out of reach until he saw the UltraStudio Pro at NAB 2010. Jacques says, “It was perfectly suited for what we were looking to do, and we knew it would help us step up our game in more ways than one.”
He built a Windows 7 professional computer to meet capture specifications, and paired it with Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 and the UltraStudio Pro. The result was an on-set 10 bit HD capture and playback system that allowed Jacques and his colleagues to edit on the go.
“The interface with Blackmagic Design was a breath of fresh air”, Jacques says. “We bought the UltraStudio Pro for live action capture and playback, so we could get it onto a timeline, edit and add clips in record speed. No disrespect to my brothers in post, but we only get one chance to do it right.”
Lucky for Jacques, first time was a charm, and the blended solution of CS5 and the UltraStudio Pro have been working like a dream from the get-go. He uses the UltraStudio Pro on set to record, playback, edit and rough composite from a range of video sources. Even better, the simultaneous SD composite, HDSDI and HDMI outputs has allowed Jacques to work in all three formats simultaneously.
“If a client wants to see immediate playback or graphics laid up, or even see how footage cuts across, the UltraStudio Pro makes it possible,” Jacques says. “Not to mention, that’s all the client sees; the sleek design is one of the few products out there built under the assumption that there’s no room for clutter.”
For someone who has worked with a fair share of amazing technology over the past two decades, the price point was what really got him. “The UltraStudio Pro helped me see that you don’t need a $400,000 machine to have clients sit behind you in a suite and help get the job done.”
The combination of CS5 and Blackmagic Design’s UltraStudio Pro has helped Jacques accomplish things he never thought possible. Using CS5’s Premiere Pro through virtually every part of the production process, he enjoys a tapeless workflow and native support that allows for almost immediate editing. Premiere Pro’s Mercury Playback Engine is 64-bit native, GPU-accelerated and optimized for multiple-core systems, allowing for the highest performance possible.
Premiere Pro isn’t the only part of the CS5 toolbox Jacques has integrated into his workflow. He also uses After Effects to produce dazzling motion graphics and groundbreaking visual effects. And for advanced digital imaging, Jacques uses Photoshop CS5 to create, edit and composite.
And because Blackmagic Design’s entire range of capture and playback products support all elements of Adobe CS5, Premiere Pro, After Effects and Photoshop worked with the UltraStudio Pro perfectly. Now Jacques can watch dailies in HD on professional quality monitors, almost instantly. In any given day, he is able to generate content for immediate feedback and make modifications within seconds.
And for ARF & Co., being able to provide instant gratification to prestigious clients is a major competitive advantage. “Every second counts, and time wasted for playback is money gone. When it comes to technology, we have no tolerance for mediocrity. The UltraStudio Pro is an incredibly innovative and reliable system that has paid for itself time and time again.”