Talking Video Workflows and Workstations with Adobe’s Dave Helmly

Dave Helmly, head of strategic development for Broadcast at Adobe®, has forged a distinguished career in video and imaging, helping professional creators nail their workflows.

As a #DellInsideCircle member, Dave uses Dell Precision mobile workstations daily with his team of 15 international field representatives. We sat down with him to hear his thoughts on the role of technology in video and image editing, which technologies get him most excited, and how he expects the industry to evolve. 

Matt: What technology really excites you? Are there specific trends you are seeing?

Dave: Our team’s daily job is more about being trusted advisors to our customers who are looking to spend their money wisely to create fast and solid edit stations. Most of my test projects are based on real-world work from customers looking to increase their output to post and deliver content faster. I use these projects to test workflows and ensure speed and stability for the work they need to do now – and in some cases the work they will need to do in the future.

Technology like Intel’s Thunderbolt™ has been a game changer in our industry from fast backups to simplifying local RAID storage setups to faster networking for laptops. Other technology like VR 360 video was discovered early on and became a feature set in our products. Usage of VR has shifted from being a consumer visual walkthrough tool to a professional one. AI technologies, like our own Adobe Sensei™, are advancing at lightning speed every month. We are working on some very cool AI tech for video creators. Check out the sneak peek of Project FastMask from Adobe MAX a few years ago: It’s available now in beta in After Effects® as Roto Brush 2.

The majority of my day-to-day customers are leaders in the US media and broadcast space. I also work with Hollywood editors, well known YouTubers, and leading film schools. The biggest trend and number one topic on any given day since the pandemic hit is remote editing. I see HDR and 10-bit displays becoming the norm the same way HD video took over a few years ago. Nearly all of my customers have stated that delivering HDR content is a top priority for them and they need the right tools and workflows to ensure they can update their supply chains with HDR content. As a result, you’ll see more enhanced and simpler HDR video workflows from us. 

Matt: As a #DellInsideCircle member, you recently tried out the Precision 5750 mobile workstation. What were your first impressions? 

Dave: The design is sleek, slim, and lightweight. It’s hard to believe it’s a 17-inch because it fits into my 15-inch laptop case with ease. It’s a powerhouse; I was also able to run several test projects in Adobe Premiere® Pro with 4K edits and 8K edits. I was using a Dell 5530 2-in-1, and I still love that machine, but there’s no question that this one is much faster. I would recommend it to any peers in my field.

Dave Helmly working on Adobe Creative Cloud with a Dell Precision workstation in his studio

Matt: If you had $5,000 to build an at-home editing studio, what would you invest in? 

Dave: If I were to advise someone on what to consider within their budget, other than your workstation and Adobe Creative Cloud®, I’d suggest a standup desk that adjusts up and down, a high-end webcam like a Sony or Canon DSLR for web meetings – as a video editor, your image is everything, an Ultrawide HDR Display, and Thunderbolt 3 raid for local projects.

If you have another $5,000, then definitely upgrade to the main editing hardware. Newer technologies like NVMe drives, NVIDIA RTX GPUs, and 10th Gen Intel® Core™ or Xeon® processors would benefit any workflow.

Matt: You have been in the industry for over 35 years and with Adobe for almost 25 years. What key technologies have been industry gamechangers?

Dave: Both Photoshop® and Premiere have been around for 30 years and have created the imaging and video standards that the industry has been built around. Many of the advancements we see around digital cameras, HDR displays, compute power, drive access and speeds, drive capacity, and real-time GPU effects are a direct result of the need to create faster and do work that stands out from the crowd. You see this every day on YouTube where successful creators deliver high quality videos that have now reached 8K frame size and playback. They are setting the pace for what you’ll see from broadcasters. 

Matt: Any predictions for the industry?

Dave: Overall, remote editing has been quite successful for most customers but the lack of face-to-face meetings in the office has made working as a team more difficult. The number one thing I hear customers wish for is better collaboration tools for remote team editing so that multiple people can simultaneously edit or review the same project. I believe cloud-based workflows will become the norm for film and broadcast editing. It will happen fast, within two to three years. Cloud-based rendering and delivery will shorten the time to the supply chain and bring overall costs down as the cost of cloud compute equals out. We will still require high-end local workstations as the risk of moving to the cloud 100% for compute is too high. Currently, it’s more about having a seamless connection to the cloud. 

Matt: Who are your favorite creators to follow on social media and who should we watch out for?

Dave: The first one that comes to mind is Devin Graham (Devin Supertramp). I met him early on in his career and introduced him to RED Camera several years ago. As a result, I’m a better RED shooter myself. Devin always shares his workflow on his Behind-the-Scenes channel and answers questions on shooting techniques and which lens to use. Peter Hollens is another one to watch. He has a fresh look to his edits that just pull you into his world. On the tech side – it’s hard to match Linus Tech Tips. I have a lot of respect for him and his team’s passion for advancements in technology. He can be brutal to software companies like ours, but he drives us to do better in terms of performance and stability. 

Matt: What’s your most prized possession?

Dave: This one is easy. It’s relationships with like-minded people. Engaging in tech conversations with customers, peers, and friends make Mondays okay.