Keeping billions of viewers watching.
ViacomCBS airs content people want to watch, faster — streamlining the creative process with Adobe Creative Cloud.
New York City, New York
Less time to
create motion graphics
Stay competitive in an industry defined by the volume, quality, and speed of content
Enable creatives to focus on what they do best by removing friction from workflows
Make it easier to prepare short-form content for a variety of channels around the world
Enables red carpet footage to be edited and distributed within minutes of being shot
Saves 95% of the time it takes to place motion graphics in video footage
Automates and accelerates closed captioning, from 15 minutes to just over a minute
The journey from creative to technologist
In the summer of 2014, David Leopold attended a string of music festivals, getting up early and staying up late into the night so he didn’t miss a minute of the action. But he wasn’t there to enjoy the music. Leopold was part of a team of video editors and producers covering the events for MTV.
“There were about five of us in a trailer, cutting video nonstop for three days straight,” says Leopold. “I realized we were getting bogged down by repetitive tasks, such as creating the lower third over and over again for each new clip.”
It was enough of a problem that Leopold decided to do something he had never done before — coding. Developing a few expressions in Adobe After Effects, he automated the process of adding lower thirds to music videos. That enabled the team to work “with such speed that we almost didn’t need to budget time for graphics.” It also shifted Leopold’s career path from creative to technologist.
Fast forward six years, and Leopold is now Senior Director of Creative Experience Technologies at ViacomCBS. His job is to find technology solutions that address the challenges creative teams face – tweaking workflows, defining best practices, developing new tools, and working with partners such as Adobe to advocate for creative users’ needs.
Leopold is part of the larger ViacomCBS Production Operations & Technologies group, which delivers timely, innovative solutions for production partners across the enterprise. The group’s success stems from its emphasis on partnership. By building trust, it can take the risks needed to deliver effective technology solutions.
“Premiere Rush became the fastest way to get footage from backstage at an award show in Los Angeles to an editor in New York. Now we can get the content out within minutes of it being shot.”
Senior Director of Creative Experience Technologies, ViacomCBS
Content is king — and creatives are king-makers
ViacomCBS is one of the largest media conglomerates in the world, reaching 4.2 billion cumulative TV homes in more than 180 countries. Its brands include CBS, SHOWTIME®, Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, BET, Pluto TV, and Simon & Schuster, among others. And the company knows that, more than ever, the key to staying competitive is content.
With the explosion of online content over the past few decades, consumers expect snackable, on-demand video content, and lots of it — across every channel imaginable, from Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter to YouTube and TikTok. ViacomCBS has successfully navigated that shift, winning over viewers with compelling news, sports, and entertainment wherever people tune in.
That puts a lot of pressure on creative teams, who are expected to produce more high-quality content, faster. That’s where Leopold directs his energy. As a technologist and innovator, he’s good at identifying problems and finding solutions. And his experience as a video editor helps him understand the challenges creatives face — and why they’re sometimes resistant to change.
“Creatives don’t always have the chance to experiment and explore, so they can get stuck in the status quo — never questioning if there’s a better way,” says Leopold. “We have an opportunity to make their lives easier by changing the way they work and democratizing their creative tools.”
Sending content out faster, through any channel
Another game-changing feature is the Auto Reframe capability in Adobe Premiere Pro. This is crucial for producing short-form content in a variety of formats — as editors prepare clips for posting on a variety of social media platforms. Modifying these details can be a tedious job.
“We don’t want our creative talent to spend their time shifting keyframes and resizing dimensions,” says Leopold. “Auto Reframe allowed us to automate a significant part of the process of repurposing content for different platforms, which helps us roll out sooner.”
Closed captioning in a fraction of the time
Leopold also helped teams at ViacomCBS International simplify the closed captioning process by building a tool in Adobe After Effects. In the past, they created captions largely by hand — copying and pasting text from a transcript generated by Adobe Premiere Pro. Captioning a one-minute video could take up to 15 minutes to complete. It wasn’t unusual for a team to spend the better part of a week on captions when releasing a new series of videos.
Now, they can generate stylized captions in a fraction of the time. A one-minute video now only takes a little over a minute to caption. This dramatically speeds up the process for international groups, which must translate every clip with English captions. It was so successful, Leopold started introducing the tool to other divisions across ViacomCBS, including larger groups.
“We have a really solid creative partnership with Adobe. It's more than just a technology transaction. It's a collaboration.”
Senior Director of Creative Experience Technologies, ViacomCBS
Live from the red carpet with Adobe Premiere Rush
Teams within ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks also see enormous potential in Adobe Premiere Rush. With its built-in camera, automatic synchronization with Creative Cloud Libraries, and accessible app for easy shooting and editing, Rush is a tool Leopold has been thinking a lot about. It’s already changing the way teams think about how to capture and edit footage.
“We used Premiere Rush to shoot behind-the-scenes footage at the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards, making celebrity interviews more relaxed by removing all the heavy equipment and bright lights,” Leopold says. The producer on-site simply records a few comments, and the footage goes straight to an editor for cutting.
“Premiere Rush became the fastest way to get footage from backstage at an award show in Los Angeles to an editor in New York,” says Leopold. “Now we can get the content out within minutes of it being shot."
Collaboration drives creativity forward
As he works to remove friction from creative workflows, Leopold is careful about how he rolls out new features and tools. He knows his role is not just about finding solutions. It’s also a sales job.
“The creative process is precious. No creative wants to be told how to do their job,” he says. “The second you mandate anything, people will dig in their heels.”
That’s why he starts with small groups, testing, getting feedback, and iterating on the solutions before introducing them to thousands of creatives across the company. It’s also the reason he formed a creative advisory board at ViacomCBS, bringing together senior creatives from every brand and discipline. The group meets once a month to share pain points, solutions, and best practices, and their collaboration has gone a long way toward moving creative teams forward.
“The creative advisory board gets conversations going across groups that wouldn’t normally talk to each other,” Leopold says. “It opens up new possibilities for collaboration and streamlined creative processes at scale.”
The meetings also provide a forum for guest speakers, and the board often invites Adobe to discuss new features and beta programs. The dialogue not only sparks ideas for senior creatives, it’s an opportunity to advocate for their users.
“We have a really solid creative partnership with Adobe,” says Leopold. “It’s more than just a technology transaction. It’s a collaboration.”
That partnership is an important part of the creative strategy at ViacomCBS. With innovators like Leopold and a wealth of digital tools, the company is continually pushing the boundaries of what’s possible for creatives — and helping them remain the best in the industry.
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