Adobe: COVID-19 is Speeding the Transformation to a Paperless Hollywood

One of the few positive things to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic has been the increased push for a paperless Hollywood that has resulted from it, according to Adobe.

A growing number of people in Hollywood are realizing how much more convenient and time-saving electronic documents, forms and signatures are, compared to the wasteful, paper-heavy systems that the industry has long been used to.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) is even asking for minimization of paper and adoption of electronic scripts and sign-in/out documents.

During the July 28 webinar “A Paper-Free Hollywood,” Adobe representatives, along with guest expert, producer and paperless pioneer Bernie Laramie and host Guy Finley, president of the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA), discussed the benefits of a paper-free world now and going forward and why many Hollywood productions have made the switch and how they’re succeeding.

Adobe is helping to lead the transition from paper to digital with its Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Sign and Document Cloud solutions and the webinar highlighted some of the updated features that are helping remove paper from the working environment.

The webinar developed out of a conversation that Todd Burke, principal solutions consultant at Adobe, had with Laramie, Burke told viewers, adding he realized that Adobe had tips to offer Hollywood on how to go paperless.

Ben Vanderberg, senior technical product evangelist-digital media at Adobe, discussed the “document lifecycle” that he noted includes capturing, creating, reusing, collaborating, delivering and viewing.

There are several “challenges that I think people see when… trying to kind of eliminate those barriers of what it is that you still use paper for… throughout the cycle,” he said.

Having to scan things into your computer to distribute them is “one problem that people have,” he noted. There are also so many documents and “people are using all sorts of different tools to create stuff,” but nobody want to “have 15 million apps on their computer in order to view something,” he said.

You also “don’t want to have to print something out and scan it back in, so the other challenge is how you take something in whatever the application is and turn it into something that’s universal that everybody can access on their phone, online or on their computer,” he explained, noting Adobe continues working to solve all those challenges.

Document Cloud includes desktop and mobile apps including Adobe Acrobat and the free Adobe Scan app, e-signatures with Adobe Sign, an integration ecosystem, document services and customer experience management, he pointed out.

Using artificial intelligence, Adobe Scan now enables users to detect what type of document they are scanning, he noted.

For example, if a business card is being scanned, the app will know it is a business card, extract the info from it, and turn that info into a contact on your mobile phone, he told viewers.

“That type of stuff is what we’re kind of moving forward with,” he said, noting Adobe has made that app more intelligent, so that it is “helpful in your day-to-day life.”

Earlier in the webinar, Laramie noted that he was a producer of the feature film “Death in Texas,” starring Bruce Dern, Lara Flynn Boyle and Stephen Lang, that is  expected to be released this fall. It was shot last fall on location in New Mexico and production on it was shut down briefly as a result of the pandemic, he said.

The film was produced “without really anybody sending any forms or paper around,” Laramie pointed out, noting: “Everything we’re getting from production has been scanned for archival purposes, as well as distribution and sharing.” Most of the post production process  was “pretty much completely paperless,” he added.

To help shift the industry further to a paperless environment, “we need to make it easy for people to do and encourage them to do it,” he said. But what is also going to help the transition are producers like him and other production heads to tell those who work on films and TV shows they  have “got to do it,” he noted.

“The main link between production and post is [the] continuity supervisor,” many of whom use a digital application already for their work, he pointed out.

“Hopefully in the near future we’ll incorporate” those workflows more “into Adobe Premiere,” he said, noting he started collecting all the paper forms used on productions while doing TV series many years ago and now has more than 800 forms.

HBO, meanwhile, is taking the lead on getting documents signed using Adobe software, Laramie went on to say, calling the “next base” – the “next first down” — the ability to sign documents electronically during productions.

And, “after that, I sure would love to see” a lot of the different programs that all may use PDFs, including separate ones for purchase orders, petty cash and other things, “brought together with a better taxonomy into a relational database,” he told viewers.

“We know we can do it,” he said, adding: “We just have to get all the resources together. And I think that’s going to be the next big [thing] and it’s going to have a huge benefit on everybody – pulling programs together, sharing information so we’re not entering it twice.”