Chris Chibucos is the managing partner at FurlaVision Films, the videography arm of Furla Studios, in business in Chicago since 1992. With two studios on the city's north shore, FurlaVision specializes in producing high-end, documentary-style wedding and event films, photo montages, love stories, and concept videos. One of Chicago's more successful event video studios—FurlaVision has won more WEVA Creative Excellence Awards than any studio in the Midwest—Chris Chibucos attributes much of his company's success to they way they have always combined a fairly large volume of work (as many as 150-175 events per year) with a high price point. "Most studios either strive for high volume with value pricing or lower volume with upscale pricing," he says of his competition. Even once the recession hit, he made a conscious decision "not to bow to the pressure of lowering our prices." In fact, they decided to increase their rates so they could produce an even more creative product. "We now average about 100 events per year but with a much higher price point." The extra attention they have put into their products has paid off. "Our productions have been noticed on an international level. I have had the privilege of filming weddings twice in Europe the last two years as well as other destination weddings in the U.S."
Getting that Unique Look
FurlaVision has sought to attain that elusive "unique look" so coveted by videographers. "We have always strived to separate ourselves from the competition," he says, crediting that in large part to the powerful capabilities of Adobe Creative Suite Production Premium.
Four years after launching FurlaVision, Chris got his hands on his first Adobe product, Photoshop. "There wasn't anything that competed with Photoshop for still image enhancement and manipulation, and that still is true today," he says.
Two years later, he became a Premiere user. "Prior to then, I edited on linear edit systems," he says. "I first chose Premiere because of its ease of use and intuitive interface. I now love Premiere Pro for its full-feature toolset and the powerful capabilities that the Mercury Playback engine offers."
He grew his Adobe suite to include After Effects so he could add professional motion graphics to his videos. Like most video producers, he says, "I was quite intimidated with After Effects at first. I have never had any formal education in the area of video production so I had to learn by trial and error." He also depended on books, tutorials, and the help of his employees to learn this complex effects program. "But once I got a basic understanding, I was hooked. This program took my productions to a whole new creative level."
With the release of the first Creative Suite, Chris was thrilled. The integration between programs like Premiere Pro, After Effects, Audition, Encore, Photoshop, and Illustrator made editing a breeze. "We're able to accomplish the goal of providing our clients with a more artistic and creative production. Because our clients are so impressed with the results, we're able to generate significantly more revenue through their referrals."
With two primary business goals-providing the highest-quality product with excellent customer service at a fair price-the FurlaVision team has continued to rely on Adobe Creative Suite to realize them.
Perks of Efficient Post
Because the Adobe products help them work so efficiently and quickly, they are able to meet their delivery deadlines and keep their prices fair. "They allow us to work as quickly as possible, giving us more time to add creative and artistic elements into our productions. In turn, this generates more business for us as our clients see a huge difference in their end product," he says. "The integration between the different applications within Creative Suite Production Premium is a key reason why I am committed to Adobe."
Take Adobe Dynamic Link, for instance. "I may have a clip or multiple clips on the Premiere timeline. If I want to create a look for that clip in After Effects, I simply right-click and select ‘replace with After Effects composition.' " He then can give that selection a treatment, save the project, and switch back to Premiere. The original clip is then replaced by the After Effects Composition, and no rendering is required until the final output.
Chris suggests another scenario where Dynamic Link pays off. Say you're editing in Premiere Pro, he says, "and you hear a cell phone go off right in the middle of the vows. This technique alone is worth the price of admission. Just right-click on the audio file and select Edit in Adobe Audition (or Soundbooth). You can then easily isolate and remove the offending cell phone ring. Save the file and when you switch back to Premiere Pro, it's gone. It works so well and easily, it's almost like cheating!"
The integration between Encore, After Effects, and Photoshop helps FurlaVision achieve a high level of customer satisfaction. Because they work so well together, he says, it's easy to create custom motion menus among other creative elements. "I'm always very proud of the fact that our clients are not just happy with their films, they are thrilled with them. " In these challenging economic times, Chris says, "This not only allows us to survive, but to thrive in spite of it."
Other Suite Benefits
The flexibility and power of Adobe Media Encoder (which became a stand-alone application with CS4) has also been very beneficial to FurlaVision, he says. For example, once a project is complete, Chris can render out many different files types overnight. He can create one MPEG-2 file for SD and one for Blu-ray. He can render a file for an internet upload and one for cell phone or iPad. "This makes my job so much easier and more efficient."
Using Encore, he can do anything he imagines up with menu design and interactive features. "The interface is so easy and intuitive, I can teach it to a new employee in an hour or two," he says. Another timesaver he points to is the Content-Aware Fill introduced in Photoshop CS5.
Chris also uses Soundbooth regularly, "as it really is a full-featured audio editing and effects program." Once again, the integration between Soundbooth and Premiere Pro makes the task of adjusting or sweetening an audio clip easy and seamless. The integration of Adobe Audition, an even more robust audio editor, in the just-released CS5.5 Production Premium, opens up even more possibilities for editors like Chris.
While Chris' most-used application is Premiere Pro—"it is the workhorse of the suite"-his pet application is After Effects. "The creative possibilities with this program are endless." However, it's the way these two applications work together that make them extra-special. Their integration "is reason enough for anyone to choose the Creative Suite."
Constantly challenging himself to come up with new looks for his productions, he admits, "I get bored easily. And if I'm getting bored with what I'm producing, it's just a matter of time before my clients will get bored as well, since so many of my clients are from referrals."
Fortunately, when he combines the "seemingly endless" capabilities of After Effects-which he describes as "the motor that drives our creativity"-with the incredible number of plug-ins that are available, "We are always able to give our films a unique and fresh look."
Liz Merfeld (www.lizmerfeld.com) is a freelance writer and editor based in Madison, Wis.