'Only the Brave': Designing and Deploying the Film's Adobe CC Workflow

In 2013, an elite crew of firefighters was dispatched to battle a wildfire in Yarnell, Ariz. Their heroic efforts are the subject of the film "Only the Brave," which premiered on Oct. 20.
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In 2013, an elite crew of firefighters known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots was dispatched to battle a wildfire in Yarnell, Ariz. Their heroic efforts are the subject of the film Only the Brave, which premiered on Oct. 20. Only the Brave was cut entirely using Adobe Premiere Pro CC. The postproduction team also used Adobe After Effects and worked with Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), the VFX and animation branch of Lucasfilm Ltd., for temp and final visual effects.

This is the first film that editor Billy Fox, ACE, has cut in Premiere Pro. "My ideal editing system is one that doesn't get in my way and allows me to turn the vision in my head into reality," says Fox. "Adobe Premiere Pro gives me that power. Within four days, I was completely at ease using it."

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The Granite Mountain Hotshots start the back burn at Yarnell Hills in Only the Brave
Photo by Richard Foreman

Director Joseph Kosinski (TRON: Legacy, Oblivion) shot the movie in 4K using Sony's F65. Dailies were sent to FotoKem's nextLAB, which acted as the asset hub and pipeline for metadata, color and deliverables for editorial and visual effects. There, dailies footage was customized and ingested into Premiere Pro.

"I would group, organize and sync everything in Premiere Pro, and then footage from each shooting day would have its own project," explains 1st assistant editor Jamie Clarke. "As soon as a project closed for the day, Billy would take it, open it up and start cutting."

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Fire chief Duane Steinbrink (Jeff Bridges) and "Supe" Eric Marsh (Josh Brolin)
Photo by Richard Foreman

Within four weeks, visual effects editor Jon Carr had created more than 200 temp visual effects using Maxon Cinema 4D and After Effects; the temp effects were created to give editors a visual of what was happening in a scene before the final visual effects were ready. (The temp effects were finalized by ILM.) Carr was also responsible for creating 65 opticals and visual effects shots that were included in the final cut of the film.

Using the Lumetri Color panel in Premiere Pro, all color correction was completed in-house, reducing production costs and giving the production team opportunities to experiment with the overall look of the movie. The initial color correction was then provided to the finishing house as a template for the final color.

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Brendan McDonough (Miles Teller)
Photo courtesy Sony Pictures

The team used Adobe Media Encoder to create DCPs for all screenings; the ability to create DCPs in-house meant that the team could put finishing touches on the film up to the last minute, and the production would save thousands of dollars for each individual output.

FotoKem's nextLAB system allowed the production team to keep much more work than usual in-house. They could conveniently make changes on the fly without having to send work out to a separate facility.

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The Granite Mountain Hotshots clear brush around a juniper tree in order to save it.
Photo courtesy Sony Pictures

Says Carr, "It's challenging and rewarding at the same time because you can do all of these cool things within the Adobe ecosystem."

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. Read an extended version of this story at the Adobe Creative Cloud blog.

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