Keeping the Max alive – or what my first Max meant to me


Me in front of the graffitti wall at the LA Convention center, with my hand drawn logo.

I wrote down a rush of thoughts on my way home from my first Adobe Max conference. I planned to add pictures before posting but then life got in the way – homework, haircuts, snotty noses and shots. BUT the creative voice shall prevail. Indie nari was there and Indie Nari will share. For those that want the quick and dirty please check out my pictures on Behance here. For those that wish to go the distance, please read on.


My seat on the Pacific surfliner. Never driving to LA again.

Sitting on the Pacific Surfliner, sipping a glass of wine, on my way home from LA. I am people watching, reminiscing and day dreaming.

My head is brimming with ideas, my heart is full of gratitude and my soul is wide awake. Thank you @AdobeMAX for the most inspiring 4 days I’ve had in a long time.

I attended my first MAX Creativity Conference, a mixture of learning about Adobe products, classes with experts in the digital creation space and a place to meet creatives from all over the country. I want to write all of it down so I can remember it well. When I say all, I mean all my feelings, my thoughts, my observations on top of all things geeky. If you’re looking for a post on specs and pixels alone, see ya later 🙂


Goddess Durga is believed to be the mother of the universe and the power behind the work of creation, preservation, and destruction of the world. Embarking on my journey of Creativity during ‘Pujo’ felt auspicious.

On Day one, Sunday October 4th, I left my hotel for Century city to attend a special screening of David Fincher’s ‘Gone Girl’ at 20th Century Fox Studios. My taxi driver received a phone call and responded in Bengali, a language I learnt while I was at Film School in Kolkata, India years ago. “Shubho Nobo Borsho”, I said in Bengali, wishing him a Happy New Year, it is the best time of year for all Bengalis west and east of the border. He gave me a warm smile and there was a noticeable slowing of the car, a more tolerant approach to the sluggish traffic.


The Hills are alive!

The taxi eased into the Fox studio lot, I bid the driver, Munna goodbye. I walked starry eyed into the legendary studio, past two giant murals of favorite movies from my childhood, ‘Sound of Music’ and ‘Star Wars’. I wanted to take more pictures but was told by a burly guard, “No pictures please.” Really? No pictures in Hollywood..?

First major Hollywood film, shot on 6K edited entirely on Adobe Premiere Pro, the software I use! YES!

‘Gone Girl’ was what you would expect from a master like David Fincher and a writer like Gillian Flynn. It was extremely cinematic and gut wrenching. There were scenes where I couldn’t stop laughing and others where I couldn’t breathe, when you watch the movie you will know what I mean. It is a MUST WATCH.

‘Gone Girl’, is the first major Hollywood film, shot on 6K whose entire post production was done with Adobe CC. They used Premiere CC and After Effects CC with dynamic link to move seamlessly between the two. Edited by the master editor and long time collaborator of David Fincher, Kirk Baxter, the film crackled! The post team literally had an Adobe engineer parked at the studio, programming to the specs of the Editor, these innovations are available to all of us in the post world too, thanks to that. Here is a wonderful video with the Post team.

Oct 6th was the first official day of the conference, it started with a keynote at the Nokia theater. As I walked into the cool, dimly lit theater with artwork from Behance artists looping on the 40 foot screens my pulse quickened.


The giant screens with work of CC users from Behance looping on them

The video sequence that opened the presentation was just incredible! Have a look at it here.

I was in the third row from the stage as the image of gushing water burst onto the screen and the Kongos ‘Come with me now’ blasted “Whoa come with me now, I’m gonna take you down, Whoa come with me now, I’m gonna show you how!”, the bright lights danced in beams – I about died, it was  A LOT of excitement for a film maker who has been in mama’s clothing for a few years now.

I felt like this was my clarion call, my anthem. I have downloaded the song on my phone to remind me of Max and remind me that time is running out, I’ve thought to death, it’s time to act! Perfect, perfect song, perfectly inspiring for me.


Selfie, with a not so pleased to be included bystander..

The CEO of Adobe, Shantanu Narayen was the first speaker. He talked about the incredible innovations taking place at a very rapid pace at Adobe. Adobe is leveraging the power of technology to give creatives powerful and precise tools for creation across devices and access to community around the world to co-create with.

“We understand that your content is how you make an impact on the people around you, at Adobe we are very proud to give you every tool you need to push the limits of your creative expression.”

The developments of touch technology are making tablets devices for the creation of professional content, rather than just devices for content consumption. The presence of high quality cameras on devices, coupled with high speed processors and mobile versions of powerful softwares, make creating professional content on the go a reality. The interconnectedness of creatives on the cloud makes collaboration across the globe very feasible.

I can do anything, anywhere, at anytime with whomever I choose to work with. I see editing videos on the beach in my future 🙂


Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen talks about how important it is for creatives to make an impact on the world around them, with their work. Adobe provides the tools required to hone craft and make an impact.


David Wadhwani to Creatives, “The world is a better place because of you and the work you do.”

SVP and GM of Adobe, David Wadhwani detailed new innovations in Creative Cloud. The main take aways for me were the integrated ‘Creative Profile’ that has all projects, assets, and settings saved in my profile synched across devices. Any device I sign into with my Adobe ID has all my stuff at my fingertips. I can also share files with others I am working with,  changes are synched to the cloud and teams can build on each others work. The network of creatives on Behance that I can connect with or hire at the marketplace is an invaluable feature of my cloud membership.

“Companies are increasingly aware that Good design is good business, user interface and user experiences make or break brands and Adobe wants to provide creative professionals with the best tools to challenge norms and create the best designs.”


Scott Belsky founder of Behance, Adobe VP Products-Community and bestselling author talks about the seamless integration of real word inspiration and digital creation on any device. Here he is talking about Adobe Brush.

Scott Belsky, the Founder of Behance, 99U and the author of many inspiring books on productivity and creativity including my current favorite ‘Making Ideas Happen’, spoke about the importance of community in the creative process.

Community for collaboration and also to keep us honest and ‘doing’. It’s so easy for me to get distracted and let ideas fritter away when I’m not accountable to anybody. Having a community encourages creativity.

The other interesting thing about Behance is the ability to find work/artists of a certain genre from the large pool of talent within Behance. The fact that I have the potential to hire or be hired by somebody in Norway or Brazil is pretty cool!

Events leading up to my Oprah moment

After learning about many amazing new features on the creative cloud, a special guest was brought to the stage, the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella.


CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella talks about the collaboration between Microsoft and Adobe

Satya Nadella talked about the collaboration between Adobe and Microsoft that has led to amazing innovations in ‘touch’ workflows. Artists are able to work more organically with their hands using mobile versions of Adobe software we know and love like Adobe Illustrator Draw and Line the mobile versions of Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop Mix the mobile version of photoshop,  to create art on mobile devices. Here is a list of all the new apps that come with my Creative Cloud Membership, for $30 a month! So for my CC membership, I get all the desktop apps that are more powerful than ever before + a whole new set of toys to play with on a tablet or a phone and the Community of Behance. Is this too much stuff? I feel a bit like I’m cheating..but I’m not complaining, love the VFM!

CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella on left and CEO Adobe, Shantanu Narayen on right

Technology has put great power in the hands of creators. Faster processors, smarter software, the interconnectedness of the cloud and tremendous improvements in touch workflows have made ‘actually doing it’ the ONLY obstacle to content creation.

After all the great demos of the new mobile apps, came the cherry on top.

In a very calm voice Satya Nadella said,”To help all of you get started with this journey of creating with touch we want to give each of a Surface Pro 3 to take home with you, create on it and please tell us about your experience, share it in your community.” Mad screaming ensued, my Oprah moment happened. Thank you Microsoft for my shiny new, top of the line Surface Pro 3!


The most inspiring part of the presentations for me, came on day two.  It was the day we met four successful creatives from the real world, that work in different mediums.


The first creative, Ami Vitale is a world traveling photo journalist and documentarian. Ami Vitale started her career as a news journalist, covering civil unrest, poverty and violence. Her work has taken her to 85 countries and her pictures have been published in magazines like National Geographic, TIme, Newsweek etc. Her work has been showcased in several museums across the globe and she has received numerous awards. What moved me about Ami was the humanity in her pictures and the humility in her words. She talked about the growth of her vision from strict ideas of something that ‘needed to be shot’ to opening her eyes and looking around. She was told to get as close to the action as possible and bring back as horrific and sensational images as were possible, she described it as ‘tunnel vision’.

She took a step back, opened her heart to her assignments and her perspective changed. She saw the human stories behind the violence, she found commonalities in very diverse cultures. “The stories that bring us together are more important than the ones that tear us apart.”

A personal favorite of mine, was the picture of a wedding in the middle of a bombing in Gaza. Her compassion and humanity make her voice a very important one in our world torn by strife. Ami you are truly an inspiration.


The next speaker was Jason Seiler, one of the most sought after illustrators in the world. Jason’s humility belies his brilliance! Check out his amazing portrait and caricature work. Jason was first caught drawing a funny picture of a teacher in school, he was marched off to the principal’s office. When the principal saw how great his work was, she hired him to draw portraits of every teacher in the school, and so his journey as an illustrator began.


Jason is a traditional artist who was averse to ‘digital painting’ for years, but was having a tough time keeping up with his deadlines because of simple things like waiting for paint to dry. He was very clear about not wanting to use the computer as a ‘crutch’. He started trying to paint digitally when the stress of deadlines became too much, he found that he could continue his traditional process digitally.

Jason sets opacity and flow to 100% and makes his own brushes. Jason is very particular about the look of his work and never uses photographs to create caricatures, everything is hand drawn digitally. He uses the same skills and methods but saves time by working digitally. His insistence on using his imagination and drawing skills to create his masterpieces, gives his work a unique, fine art look.

Here is his illustration of the Pope for his Time magazine Person of the Year cover, a much better picture is here. Adobe has made his workflow faster and more efficient. “I still have creative control but I can work faster and meet deadlines easier. I encourage all you traditional artists out there to try working traditionally and digitally  together, I’m very happy with the methods I’ve found. I’m not a big computer guy, but I’ve found a way that I enjoy that feels natural and traditional.”


Speaker three was Weird Al Yankovic! Idol of my teenage years for his covers, ‘Smells like Nirvana’ and ‘Eat it’. This past summer, the ingenious release of the #8videos8days series from his latest album Mandatory Fun was a game changer on the music/internet landscape. His album debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 200 album chart. If you are not one of the nearly 5 million people that have watched his parody of Happy, ‘Tacky’ on youtube,then here it is, while you’re at it subscribe to his channel so you can watch all the other videos from the album.  It was his first number #1 album after being in the business 30 years.

Here was a man who was following his passion, having a blast and succeeding! What I loved most about meeting Weird Al was the celebration of creativity, he has been able to leverage the power of ideas, technology and community to succeed.


The final speaker on Day two was Lee Hirsch, the filmmaker of Bully the movie. As a mother of two children in Elementary school, I am keenly interested in learning about bullying and the prevention of it. “This year, over 13 million American kids will be bullied at school, online, on the bus, at home, through their cell phones and on the streets of their towns, making it the most common form of violence young people in this country experience.” It was Lee Hirsch’s personal experiences with bullying as a child that led him to make this powerful documentary. Can you imagine if your child is filled with dread before the first day of school, instead of excitement about going back?


Lee Hirsch speaks passionately about raising awareness about Bullying.

Adobe has initiated a unique social action campaign called the Bully Project Mural that is bringing creatives across the globe together to raise awareness about the rampant problem of bullying, one square art piece at a time. You too can submit an art piece here.


SVP and Chief Marketing Officer, Ann Lewnes talks about Adobe’s commitment to raising awareness about bullying with the Bully Project Mural.

The presentations were just the tip of the iceberg, my days were filled with workshops and lectures by professionals from  varied creative fields like Video editing, After FX, Web design, Photoshop, Audio mixing and Photo editing. I had the good fortune of attending classes with Adobe Masters and creative professionals like Jason Levine, Paul TraniMichael ChaizeChris Meyer, Jeff Greenberg, Bert Monroy and Chris Orwig. I learnt real methods to make my productions better and also realized just how much more potential the different applications have. I was networking with creatives from across the globe and visiting booths at the Convention center to play around with the latest innovations in audio-visual art technology.

It was a real treat to be at Max, in a time and space all about me and creativity.


After a class at the Convention center, heading down to lunch


After an excellent class with Chris Meyer about ‘Making your productions pop with Premiere Pro and After FX.


Bringing out the best in every picture – great class with Chris Orwig!


The brilliant Bert Monroy after his Photoshop class.


Sneaks was an opportunity to drink beer and get a peek at some of the exciting new developments the engineers at Adobe are working on. Engineers had about 5 minutes to share their works in progress with the audience. It was a blast to see all the amazing ideas, a few that stuck out for me were #De-fog, #Gap-stop, #project para, #time of day etc. Go google those! The most relevant for me as a video editor was #GapStop a very useful tool to remove gaps in the middle of interviews that contain a lot of ums and ahs and long-winded statements, and make the transitions practically invisible. I think the tool animates in between frames, so that cuts don’t look like they are jumping on the screen. To take us through the very entertaining and awe-aspiring presentation was actor, writer and producer of the amazing open, collaborative, production company hitRECord Joseph Gordon Levitt! LOVE the work his company is doing. It was nice to be 20 feet away from him and be one of the loudest cat-callin’ ladies 😉


My tweet after Max bash:

Thank you Max for all the inspiration, the community, the fun, the possibilities, the innovations and the spark that I was looking for! I used to worry things had moved too far ahead and too fast and I could no longer be the creator I imagined I would be. But now I see things have become easier and faster to do and they look better! I do have more to learn about the FULL potential of all my magical tools on Adobe CC, before I can be as prolific a content creator as I want, but I feel encouraged. I see the way, I have options to grow my knowledge from within the gracious community at Adobe TV and Lynda. This creative voice feels the power.

Thank you engineers for all that you do behind the scenes to let artists have fun creating and being cool. I will never forget my first MAX and I will be there for Max 2015!

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