'A Ghost Story' Comes to Life with Adobe CC

David Lowery decided he wanted to make movies when he was 7 years old after reading a book on the making of Star Wars.
Author:
Publish date:

David Lowery decided he wanted to make movies when he was 7 years old after reading a book on the making of Star Wars. His large, creative family encouraged him to follow his dream, but with no TV or VCR in the house, he fueled his inspiration by watching movies in the theater. In his early 20s, Lowery made short films that played in local festivals, and also learned how to make his living as an editor.

After receiving a grant from the Austin Film Society he made the movie St. Nick, which was a hit on the film festival circuit, followed by the short film "Pioneer," which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011. Those two projects paved the way for the critically acclaimed Ain't Them Bodies Saints, a Sundance Film Festival pick in 2013.

Image placeholder title

To his surprise, Lowery was then chosen to direct Disney's 2016 summer blockbuster, Pete's Dragon. Before starting work on his next big film, The Old Man and the Gun, he decided to make A Ghost Story, a smaller film that brought him to the Sundance Film Festival for a third time.

How did you get started making your own films?
Lowery: I first learned about independent film and the Sundance Film Festival when I was 12 or 13. My mom told me about how Robert Redford started this festival for filmmakers outside of the Hollywood structure and it sounded great to me because I liked the idea of doing things on my own. In high school I got a job and saved up enough money to buy a camcorder and some nonlinear editing software.

My senior year in high school I submitted a script to the Sundance Labs. When I received the notification that I'd made it to the next round I promised myself that even if I didn't get in I would make the movie myself. When I didn't get in, I took some of my college money, bought a camera, an early power Mac, and Final Cut 1 and started making movies.

Image placeholder title

Rooney Mara in A Ghost Story

Tell us about A Ghost Story.
It's a very quiet movie about a guy who dies in a car crash and goes back to his house as a ghost. At first he is just observing his wife, and then she moves out and someone else moves in. From a human perspective, he's a ghost haunting the inhabitants of a house. From his perspective, he is just watching and reacting to them in his space. It's really a movie about the passage of time, how we relate to both time and space on a physical level, and what really matters to us as time goes by.

What was unique about how you shot the film?
We shot two characters at two different frame rates. The ghost in the movie is a guy in a sheet. It's a serious movie, but that's a weird, funny element. We found that to make him feel real, even though he's just wearing a sheet, we needed to shoot him at 33 fps. If there was someone else in the scene we would shoot them separately. Most of the movie was shot locked off, but we did do a little bit of motion control as well.

Image placeholder title

When did you start working with Adobe Creative Cloud and Premiere Pro?
I was a Final Cut Pro 7 user, but after Final Cut 10 came out I downloaded Adobe Premiere Pro to try it out. It was really easy to pick up on everything. My first use of it in a practical way was on the set of Pete's Dragon. It was a snap, just as I had expected.

Our editor, Lisa Zeno Churgin, was in New Zealand editing the film in Avid, but she was working on what we shot the previous day. I would take the current day's footage and cut it together using Premiere Pro during lunch or in between setups just to make sure we had everything we needed. They were incredibly rough edits, but all I needed to know was that we were moving in the right direction, especially with some of the big action sequences.

What made you decide to use Premiere Pro on your next project?
As my next projects started to materialize, I really wanted to use the entire Creative Cloud. I had a brief window of time between Pete's Dragon and The Old Man and the Gun, so I decided to make A Ghost Story. Using Premiere Pro was a no-brainer because I knew I was going to cut it myself. I also want to use Premiere Pro on The Old Man and the Gun, which Lisa Zeno Churgin will be editing, so she's learning Premiere Pro now.

Image placeholder title

What do you like about working with Creative Cloud?
I love knowing that everything works together. A lot of the frustrations I've had in post-production came from having to go from one piece of software to another, exporting and importing. With Dynamic Link, it's so easy to move between editing and visual effects. One of my favorite ways to distract myself when I'm editing a movie is to go and find something to paint out in After Effects. It's like doing a magic trick.

On A Ghost Story we have so many little composite shots, and Dynamic Link has been really helpful. We were able to mask some of the basic splits in Premiere Pro, and we often went to After Effects if a shot needed a bit more blending. My favorite thing is that I don't have to look up anything. Premiere Pro is very intuitive and I can just open everything and start working right away. We also used the Lumetri Color panel in Premiere Pro for all of our rough color correction. When we submitted to Sundance we put looks on everything just using Lumetri.

How does your background as an editor inform your work as a director?
When I'm shooting I'm constantly thinking about how one thing will connect to another and what scenes will likely hit the cutting room floor. Sometimes I even make the choice to cut them in advance, as you can always use more time in production. Having an editor's perspective also helps me make those split second calls with a lot more acuity because I already have an idea of how the scene is going to get cut together. It's a type of mindset that comes from spending a lot of time cutting other people's movies.

Image placeholder title

Casey Affleck in A Ghost Story

Will you always have a hand in editing your films?
I think I'll always need to have a hand in editing or at least have that option available to me. There are always scenes where I'm cutting things together in my head as we're shooting them, and it's just faster for me to cut those than to try to explain to someone else how to do it. On the other hand, it's a great joy to relinquish control sometimes and sit back and see what someone else creates.

Meagan Keane is the senior product marketing manager for Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Prelude, and the marketing lead for social across all video products at Adobe.
Follow @itsmemegatron

About A Ghost Story
Recently deceased, a white-sheeted ghost (Casey Affleck) returns to his suburban home to console his bereft wife (Rooney Mara), only to find that in his spectral state he has become unstuck in time, forced to watch passively as the life he knew and the woman he loves slowly slip away. Increasingly unmoored, the ghost embarks on a cosmic journey through memory and history, confronting life's ineffable questions and the enormity of existence. An unforgettable meditation on love and grief, A Ghost Story emerges ecstatic and surreal—a wholly-unique experience that lingers long after the credits roll.

Follow @ghoststorymovie

From A24 Films, A Ghost Story opens in theaters on July 7.

Related

More than 55 of the 2018 Fall Television and Streaming Series Rely on Blackmagic Design

More than 55 of the 2018 Fall Television and Streaming Series Rely on Blackmagic Design

Blackmagic Design today announced that the company’s production and post products were used to complete many of the fall 2018 season’s new and returning television shows and streaming series. More than 55 shows rely on Blackmagic Design’s digital film cameras; Fusion visual effects (VFX), compositing, 3D and motion graphics software; and DaVinci Resolve editing, color correction, VFX and digital audio software; as well as its switchers, routers, monitors and capture and playback devices.

Luxul_AMS-1208P

Jingle All the Way: Luxul's XMS-1208P Managed Gigabit Switch is Available for All CI Integrators this Holiday Season

Luxul, the leading innovator of IP networking solutions for AV integrators, today announced that it's giving CI integrators the gift of enterprise-level performance at affordable price points this holiday season. It doesn't matter if they've been naughty or nice, the company's XMS-1208P 12-port/18 PoE+ managed Gigabit switch — that delivers high-speed performance while enabling simple network expansion — is now available for all. And to ring in the new year, Luxul will begin shipping its AMS-1816P 18-port/16 PoE+ L2/L3 managed Gigabit switch in early January.

HoverCam_VV1

HoverCam Transforms Classrooms Fit for Future-Ready Students at Val Verde USD

HoverCam, an innovative technology leader in the digital education market, announced that Val Verde Unified School District (USD) in Parris, California, successfully installed HoverCam's Pilot digital teaching stations and CenterStage interactive flat panels (IFPs) in new STEM labs in the elementary schools, with plans for an eventual rollout to the district's middle and high schools. As part of the district's goal to create future-ready students, Val Verde USD chose HoverCam digital education solutions to address the rising challenge of updating classrooms and introducing curriculum with advanced systems that will prepare students for a rapidly changing career landscape.

ScreenShot2018-12-11at2.41.29PM.144822

The Sigma Holiday Sale Is Back!

Nothing makes gift giving as enjoyable as special prices on award-winning Sigma lenses and accessories; get the lens you’ve always craved or surprise a fellow shooter with the perfect present.

Riedel-Ruptly-Vans-3

Global News Agency Ruptly Relies on Riedel's MediorNet and Artist on Board New OB and DSNG Vehicles

Riedel's MediorNet real-time media network and Artist digital matrix intercom are providing the decentralized and redundant signal routing and communications backbone on board two all-new, state-of-the-art OB vehicles for Ruptly, a Berlin-based international news agency. Qvest Media, a world-leading system architect and integrator for the broadcast and media industries, designed and built the new broadcast van and DSNG vehicle.