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Transcript: Digital Production Buzz September 26, 2013

Digital Production Buzz

September 26, 2013

[Transcripts provided by Take1.tv.]

[To listen to this show, click here.]

Hosts:                        Larry Jordan

Guests:          Kevin Louden, Enterprise Sales Engineer, Telestream

                        Kevin Kent, Writer/Producer, ‘Life’s an Itch’

                        Sean Mullen, CEO & Lead Creative, Rampant Design Tools

                        Bruce Nazarian, CEO, Digital Media Consulting Group, Inc.

Voiceover: This Digital Production Buzz is brought to you by Blackmagic Design, creators of the world’s highest quality solutions for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries.

Voiceover: Live from Ralph’s Maytag Museum at Podcast Studio in beautiful downtown Burbank, it’s the Digital Production Buzz.

Voiceover: Production, post production, distribution. What’s really happening now and in your digital future?

Voiceover: The Buzz is live now.

Larry Jordan: And welcome to the Digital Production Buzz, the leading internet podcast covering digital video production, post production and distribution around the world. My name is Larry Jordan; our ever-handsome co-host, Mr. Mike Horton, has the night off.

Larry Jordan: We’ve got a great collection of guests today and a wide variety of subjects to talk about. We’re going to start with Kevin Louden. He’s the Enterprise Sales Engineer for Telestream. He’s going to stop by to talk about the latest release of WireCast, which is a significant new upgrade to the software and a new initiative. Telestream began to make the H.265 codec open source and I want to talk about why the H.265 codec matters to any of us.

Larry Jordan: Then we’re going to talk with Kevin Kent. He’s an independent writer/producer. His film is Life’s An Itch and recently Kevin got distribution for this film. Now, he just needs to make some money on it and he wants to fund his next project. We spend a lot of time talking about production and post, but if you can’t make money on your projects, it’s hard to do the next one. We want to talk with Kevin about what his plans are.

Larry Jordan: Earlier this week, Sean Mullen – who’s the CEO and the entire team at Rampant Design Tools – moved into new studios and released a ton of new products. Sean joins us this week to describe his new facility and the process of creating stock effects for visual artists.

Larry Jordan: And then finally, and I don’t want to say this too loudly, we set Bruce Nazarian, The Digital Guy, on a mission to explore the secret corners at DV Expo and report back on the most interesting new products that no one’s ever heard of, and Bruce’ll be joining us this week to share his report. There’s some very interesting stuff tucked into the corners at DV Expo. I had a chance to go there yesterday and tour the hall and there’s some interesting stuff and I try to stay current in the industry and there’s still tons of things I don’t know about, so I’m looking forward to talking with Bruce and seeing what he discovered as well.

Larry Jordan: Thinking about discovering things, for the month of September, we decided to try an experiment. We’re offering text transcripts for each show, courtesy of Take1.tv. Now, because of these text transcripts, you can quickly scan or print the contents of each show, as well as listen to it. Transcripts are located on each show page underneath the big Take1.tv button and we want to thank the folks at Take 1 for their help in putting these transcripts together.

Larry Jordan: Remember, you want to visit us on Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com. We’ve got the latest news on the industry, breaking information on products that are just released and new software that’s being updated. We’re also available on Twitter, @dpbuzz, and you can subscribe to our weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com. We’re working hard, our webmaster and the rest of the web team, to put this newsletter into something which is informational, where you can actually learn more about what’s happening in the industry, what our popular news stories are and what the popular broadcasts are, as well as a behind the scenes look at what’s happening on The Buzz. All of this is available in our Friday newsletter – comes out the day after the show.

Larry Jordan: We’ve got all kinds of cool stuff coming up tonight, starting with Kevin Louden and we’re going to start with him in just a few seconds.

Larry Jordan: Blackmagic Design made two announcements earlier this month at IBC in Amsterdam. First, the ATEM1 ME, which stands for Mix Effects, production studio switcher added new features such as ten independent 6G-STI inputs, each with frame sync, plus a built-in DVE with zoom scale and rotate, four upstream chroma keyers, three independent auxiliary outputs and a larger media pool for still frames and motion video clips.

Larry Jordan: Then Blackmagic released the public beta of DaVinci Resolve 10. This major update includes improved project integration from multiple editing systems, upgraded on-set tools, support for open effects plug-ins and the ability to create DCP packages inside Resolve for projects destined for theatrical delivery; and DaVinci Resolve Lite now supports both ultra HD and additional GPUs and it’s still free. Visit blackmagicdesign.com to learn more. That’s blackmagicdesign.com.

Larry Jordan: Well, let’s see if I can just get to the next page of my script here. We’ll be able to introduce Kevin Louden. He’s an Enterprise Sales Engineer for Telestream. He has over 17 years’ experience in video production, working on projects ranging from national television series to live multi-camera events. But what I like the best is that he’s an expert on compression and, because Mike isn’t here, we can actually talk about this sort of stuff. Welcome, Kevin.

Kevin Louden: Hi Larry, thanks for having me.

Larry Jordan: It’s my pleasure. Thanks for joining us today. The first question I’ve got looks at the new release of WireCast. I mean, Telestream updated it recently. What did you guys put in the latest release?

Kevin Louden: WireCast version five, you know, it’s got a lot of really big features that people have been asking for and some things they probably didn’t know that they want.

Larry Jordan: Ok, you’re going to have to back up that statement. What specifically did you put in it?

Kevin Louden: Well, for example, you know, we’ve been big fans of X264 for some time, we’ve got it in Episode, we’ve got it in Vantage, we’ve been working a lot with the X264 developers and we now…

Larry Jordan: Now, wait, wait, wait.

Kevin Louden: Yes?

Larry Jordan: There’s H.264…

Kevin Louden: Yes.

Larry Jordan: …and there’s X.264?

Kevin Louden: Yes, so X264 is actually an open source developed implementation of H264.

Larry Jordan: Ok. What does open source mean? Does it mean it isn’t as good?

Kevin Louden: No, in this case it’s the best. So it was created by the open source community, so anybody who wanted to contribute contributed and through that collaboration, X264 is widely regarded as the highest quality or best implementation of the H264 codec. It’s been tested against commercial implementations time and time again and it always comes up on top.

Larry Jordan: But you’ve got multiple people, it’s like multiple cooks in the kitchen. If you’ve got multiple people whaling away on it, how do you keep it consistent and make sure that it works?

Kevin Louden: Well, there’s a core group of people who sort of manage the project and they’re sort of the core leaders in there. I hate to say gatekeepers, but kind of the gatekeepers, they do a lot of review and coordination to sort of make sure that things stay on track.

Larry Jordan: Don’t break?

Kevin Louden: So in this case, it worked out fantastic because the community came up with an absolutely fantastic implementation of H264 and just recently they started doing commercial licensing of it and we jumped right on the bandwagon. We’ve been waiting for that forever. We’ve sort of been looking at it over there in the open source community and wanting to use it, but we couldn’t. But now it’s available for commercial licensing and we love it. We’ve gotten involved with it, we’ve actually been contributing code back into the open source project, so it’s now sort of a commercial open source collaboration.

Larry Jordan: Ok, hang on because we’ve got too many letters floating around and I got confused. You said that H.264 became available for commercial license. Is that what you meant to say?

Kevin Louden: Ah yes, ok. So X264.

Larry Jordan: Ok.

Kevin Louden: Right? So there’s H.264, which is sort of the specification of a compression technique.

Larry Jordan: Ok.

Kevin Louden: X264 is an open source project…

Larry Jordan: Ok.

Kevin Louden: …that built an implementation of the H264 compression specification.

Larry Jordan: Can we use them interchangeably? In other words, if I compress with X.264, can it be played back with just regular software?

Kevin Louden: Yes.

Larry Jordan: Do I have to install something special?

Kevin Louden: No, absolutely. It is H264, so main concept is a company, now Rovi, that makes an H264 implementation; Apple has made their own. There’s a company called Dekus that we used to use in Episode years ago, so these are all people that have gone and taken the specification and made sort of an implementation of it.

Larry Jordan: Their own version, as it were.

Kevin Louden: Right, so it’s like these are the rules and these are the ways to do things, and then you can go and make your own. So X264 is just an implementation of it.

Larry Jordan: Ok, so we got off track. WireCast now runs with, or uses, X.264 and you’re thrilled with it, but there’s got to be more to the upgrade than just that.

Kevin Louden: Absolutely. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. So that’s going to give you better looking streams at a lower bit rate. That’s all we have to say about that. Another thing that’s really great about WireCast, you know, it’s software, so a lot of people use it in conjunction with software tools. So we’ve made a lot of improvements into the screen capture, so the quality is better, higher frames per second, there’s a lot of improvements specific for gaming capture, which is very popular with WireCast, so we’ve got that. We’ve made some improvements to really being able to bring in webstreams, so you can bring in live webstreams as a source. Again, you know, because it’s software, it’s on a computer, a lot of people use it in conjunction with Skype feeds and other live feeds and for capturing their screens.

Larry Jordan: Ok, hold on, hold on. What’s a webstream?

Kevin Louden: Ah, well it’s just a live stream, something you’d see on Ustream or something coming from a webcam. You know, it’s something that you’d be watching.

Larry Jordan: Ok, so like a YouTube video?

Kevin Louden: Well, not like a YouTube video, but like a Ustream live stream.

Larry Jordan: Ok. So can we pull in video from a Skype feed?

Kevin Louden: Yes.

Larry Jordan: Ok, so I’ve got video coming in from other sources, but instead of having it come into a TV set, it’s coming into my computer from a variety of places and I can then integrate them in WireCast?

Kevin Louden: Right. So just like with WireCast, you’d sort of traditionally be thinking of live camera feeds so you can plug in as a, think of it as a camera but it would be a Skype stream or some other live webstream.

Larry Jordan: Ok, like a webcam located somewhere other than right where I am.

Kevin Louden: Absolutely. 

Larry Jordan: Ok. So what else we got?

Kevin Louden: So we’ve got that. Now also on the, let’s call it the traditional video side, we’ve done some integration with Blackmagic where we can now take the program feed or the switched feed of WireCast and play that out HDSDI.

Larry Jordan: Ooh!

Kevin Louden: Right, so you can use that to feed into other sort of traditional production equipment, you can feed projectors and other screens or traditional video recorders, things like that, so it’s something that a lot of people have been asking for for a long time, so that’s a really, really big improvement.

Larry Jordan: Who do you envision is the target market for WireCast?

Kevin Louden: You know, it’s really such a broad spectrum because it really goes from, you know, sort of a person with a laptop with one, you know, maybe one camera that’s recording a lecture or an interview or something like that, all the way up to, you know, a fully blown multi-input, you know, rock concert.

Larry Jordan: Well, would Newtek then be a competitor with the Tricaster?

Kevin Louden: Yes, I would say yes, I would say it’s a competitor. Well, here’s a good example of the output program feed. That’s one thing that the Tricaster did very, very well; it had that ability to take a program out, so if you were doing a live event and you wanted to project or, you know, play out your switch to an image magnification system in a venue, you could do that and then you could also stream to the web. That was something you could do very, very well in a Tricaster and it wasn’t that easy to do with WireCast.

Kevin Louden: Now, with the output program feed, it’s very, very easy to do that; you just take your same switched feed, it’s going out to multiple streams and you can also put your program out to projectors or streams that are local.

Larry Jordan: Well, thinking purely from a self-interested point of view, can audio only podcasts, like The Buzz, use WireCast?

Kevin Louden: Oh, absolutely, sure. Yeah, yeah, because you could bring in and mix your audio. There’s some pretty advanced audio mixing tools, everything that you would need to mix audio for a live production.

Larry Jordan: And, let’s see, Bruce on our live chat is asking what are your plans for availability? I assume the new version’s not yet shipping?

Kevin Louden: You know what? That’s a good question, Larry, and I think it was announced it’s not yet shipping and I don’t have a release date, but it’s very soon.

Larry Jordan: Ok, Bruce, it’s coming really soon now. Just so you know. Well, let’s go back to WireCast. WireCast has about, I think it’s $495 retail, am I correct?

Kevin Louden: That’s correct, yes.

Larry Jordan: Well, QuickTime Broadcaster’s free. Why would somebody use WireCast?

Kevin Louden: Well, see, with WireCast, I mean, you basically have a full multi-cam switching production studio in the software, so it’s got full mix effects, you know, switching through multiple sources. It’s got layering, it’s got real time graphics overlay, real time titling, chroma key.

Larry Jordan: So it’s actually doing production; it’s not just simply doing the streaming portion, it’s doing production and streaming.

Kevin Louden: Absolutely, Larry, yes. This is a full software based switcher that you run on your computer, you launch it up and it’s a full switcher.

Larry Jordan: One of the big problems that we run into here, because we are located in an internet backwater, we need to be able to constrain bandwidth. Can we constrain bandwidth so we can determine how much upload or download speed we can use with WireCast?

Kevin Louden: You can, yes. Well, first of all it can do multiple streams out, so you can actually be sending multiple discrete streams to even different providers, to different CDNs, and as part of that definition you can define what the bit rate of the stream is or, if it’s multiples, you define each one.

Larry Jordan: All right. Well, we’re going to ask you where to go for WireCast in a minute, but before I run completely out of time, I want to come back to this new H.265 codec, which was expected in January. What does this new open source project mean?

Kevin Louden: Yes, so now what we were talking about at the beginning of the conversation might make a little bit more sense. So the developers who made X264, like I said, we love them and we love what they did, so we went to them and we said, “Let’s do something for HAVC or H265,” so now we’ve started the X265 open source project. So this is again, together with the open source community that developed X264, they’re all working in conjunction with us and any other, you know, professional or commercial operations that want to join in, in doing the same thing with HAVC or H265 that was done with H264.

Larry Jordan: But open source means free. What’s in it for Telestream to do this?

Kevin Louden: We get the best implementation of the codec available. So what we get out of it is we get access and we get involvement in the highest quality codec out there, because that’s what we’re all about. We’re all about doing compression and doing it in the best way possible. So they were able to do the best AVC or H264 implementation and the goal with this new X265 project is to do the same thing with H265 or HAVC.

Larry Jordan: Do consumers benefit from this? Or is this codec really just targeted at reducing bandwidth for cell phone service providers?

Kevin Louden: No. No, no. Everybody’s going to benefit from it, just like we all benefited and are benefiting now from H264. We get to see better looking pictures on whatever we’re viewing on – on a phone, on a tablet, on a laptop or a workstation or in our living rooms on our Rokus and our Apple TVs – we’re seeing the benefits of the H264 compression and now, with H265, the pictures are going to look better, the bandwidth is going to be reduced and eventually, when the screens get bigger, the new HAVC codec will be able to accommodate those larger pixel sizes.

Larry Jordan: I need a short answer in that H.264 is notorious for not being multi-threaded, which means only one processor can work with it at a time. Does this change with H.265?

Kevin Louden: Well, I would actually tend to disagree that it’s not multi-threaded. You may be thinking of VP6, which was only single threaded.

Larry Jordan: Ok.

Kevin Louden: So there are implementations of H264 which can very much take advantage of multi-threading, both on the encode and decode side, but there are a lot of things that are in the HAVC specification for parallelism and multi-threading. There are a lot of optimizations on both sides.

Larry Jordan: And, Kevin, where can people go on the web to learn more about WireCast and Telestream?

Kevin Louden: Well, our website is www.telestream.net and then, of course, you can add a /wirecast.

Larry Jordan: That’s telestream.net and Kevin Louden is the Enterprise Sales Engineer for Telestream. Kevin, thanks for joining us today.

Kevin Louden: And Larry, let me plug one more thing.

Larry Jordan: Quickly.

Kevin Louden: For information on the X265 project, it’s x265.org.

Larry Jordan: X265.org.

Kevin Louden: Correct.

Larry Jordan: Thanks so much.

Kevin Louden: Thank you, Larry.

Larry Jordan: Bye bye. One of the things I like about this show is the variety of people we get to talk to, and the next is Kevin Kent. He’s a writer/producer whose latest film is called Life’s An Itch. The good news is that he finished it. The bad news is now he needs to make money on it. So we want to find out about his plans for making money on his film. Welcome, Kevin.

Kevin Kent: Thank you very much. I’ve got kind of a Barry White voice going on tonight because I’ve had kind of a cough, but I hope you guys can hear me and understand me clear enough.

Larry Jordan: You are doing flawlessly and we’ve got enough volume control on you that if you whispered it would shatter eardrums a block away. So tell me, what is Life’s An Itch?

Kevin Kent: Life’s An Itch is a feel good, laugh out loud romantic comedy that’s based on that age-old premise that men aren’t really quite sure what to do when your wife’s hot yoga teacher comes to spend a week at your house.

Larry Jordan: I saw the trailer and the trailer’s hysterical. What is it that made you decide to create the film?

Kevin Kent: You know, I love comedy and I love situational comedy and I’ve written a lot of stuff that hasn’t gotten made, a lot of really big, you know, kind of big pictures and I thought, you know, I’m going to write something that’s self-contained and can be shot pretty much in one location – a great location, by the way there.

Larry Jordan: A spectacular location.

Kevin Kent: Yes, people say, “Where the hell is that?” It’s like a corner lot above Newport coast looking down on Laguna Beach. It really couldn’t be much better. There’s the pool, the jacuzzi, the bar. I mean, it was just an amazing location.

Larry Jordan: And you actually got filming done?

Kevin Kent: Yes, we got a lot of filming done. And, in fact, one of the things about the show that I’m most pleased about is that we shot the whole thing in 13 days.

Larry Jordan: Wow.

Kevin Kent: And it was really a lot of fun and for that I have to shout out immensely to the wonderful cast and crew that we had. I mean, it was really just an amazing experience, especially Morgan Schmidt, the DP, was just… when I told everybody the very first day, I said, “You know, as actors, if you’re going to wait for that second, third or fourth take to really get that emotional moment, that probably won’t be in the movie.” They all looked and me and they said, “What?” I said, “We’ve got to nail this, people, or we’re not going to make it through.”

Larry Jordan: Has the film screened anywhere yet?

Kevin Kent: No. You know, I was told all along by some pretty smart people not do the whole circuit and all that stuff, because it’s just as easy for, you know, some 14 year old blogger to write a bad comedy as it is for anybody else, so at the advice of some sage people, I kind of kept it out of that.

Kevin Kent: Now that we’ve got distribution through Monarch, which is an Ingram company, it’s the largest DVD distribution company in the country, now we’ll probably go backwards and go back and do some screenings, because even in fact Andrea Bogart, one of the leads, she played the wife in the movie, she called me the other day, she goes, “When do I get to see the movie?” So now I’m kind of free, in fact I just – it’s funny doing this tonight – because I just shipped out all of the materials on Monday to the distributor.

Larry Jordan: Well, how did you find the distributor? Or did they find you?

Kevin Kent: Well, I was fortunate to meet a man named Michael Jackson – not Michael Jackson, David Jackson. I met Michael Jackson too, but that was a different story. Met David Jackson through his company, which is SC Global, and he kind of just stuck with me and, you know, we had some problems with the foreign market where they weren’t sure if it was a comedy or, you know, a romantic comedy and they particularly sell romantic comedies and they’d come back and say, “The French don’t understand it, he doesn’t get the girl,” which I guess I shouldn’t say, but it was kind of a mess overseas, but he just didn’t give up and he’s come back to me now with this new deal and I’m very pleased with it because it’ll allow anybody and everybody to get it through all the popular means.

Larry Jordan: Now, when you closed distribution, did any money change hands? Or was it just an agreement to work together?

Kevin Kent: Just an agreement, yes. No, I wish money changed hands.

Larry Jordan: Yes, well I was just asking so that people have an expectation. So what’s the distribution actually getting you?

Kevin Kent: A wide reach. I mean, you know, they sell to everybody from, you know, Wal-Mart to Red Box. I mean, this distributor, I guess they’ve been a lot bigger in the past and, you know, I’m a first out director and, you know, movie and, like you saw in the trailer, you certainly wouldn’t think so because the movie is really, really well done. But nevertheless, you know, it’s an uphill battle.

Larry Jordan: So what are you expecting the distributor to do for you?

Kevin Kent: I’m expecting to see it in Wal-Mart, I’m expecting to see it in all of the popular, you know, locations and popular places people buy DVDs, as well as all the online communities. And that was another funny thing, like, to be told, you know, and it all worked out the way I guess it should have, you know, to say don’t go putting it out there digitally yet, you’ll kill the DVD market if you do that and, you know, I listened and so we’ll see. I’m between the praying and hopeful director right now, but I think it’s a good plan.

Larry Jordan: So basically what the distributor is for you is a sales agent, except that they’ve got the contacts already in their Rolodex.

Kevin Kent: Well, kind of. SC Global’s really kind of the sales agent in that they got the deal for me and Monarch are pressing up the DVDs, they’re shipping them out to all their locations and all the people that they sell to and it is an Ingram company so… in fact, it was funny, when I went to send the FedEx disc off, I said, “You know, I don’t have the phone number for them.” They go, “Oh no, don’t worry, they come up in our system. Didn’t you notice it was Ingram Avenue?”

Kevin Kent: So they’re a big player and, you know, I’m a small fish and I’m happy to be swimming in those waters and, more importantly, as I go forward with my next movies, you know, it’s very critical to, you know, assure investors that my last movie got distributed.

Larry Jordan: Yes, true. So you do have a project coming up. What is it and how are you funding it?

Kevin Kent: The next one’s pretty funny. I should say I was sitting at my mother’s retirement home one night and she said to me, she goes, “You know, I was really worried about you as a kid because you had that imaginary friend thing going on,” and I kind of said, “What are you talking about?” And so in any case, in due course I wrote a new script called Buster and Sarah and it’s about a guy who’s 35 years old whose imaginary friend comes back at 75.

Larry Jordan: Oh, an imaginary friend from childhood?

Kevin Kent: From childhood, and she’s still six or seven, and I’ve been, you know, auditioning people and talking to big stars about being in it and my premise of it was, I mean, you know…

Larry Jordan: Go ahead, make it short.

Kevin Kent: All right. The premise of it was can I go get five or six Academy Award winning senior actors to be in a single movie?

Larry Jordan: Yes. And I wish you luck in doing it. How are you funding it?

Kevin Kent: Through private, you know, investors, the same way I did the last one.

Larry Jordan: But my notes say that you’re also using IndieGoGo. Is that true?

Kevin Kent: I’m not.

Larry Jordan: Oh, ok, well then I’ll take that note out. So you’re just funding it privately?

Kevin Kent: Funding it privately and this time I’m shooting in New Orleans, to take advantage of the tax thing, but I’m not going to apply the tax to the production of the movie, I’m going to apply the tax to the T&A money, because that’s one place where I fell short on this movie. I just kind of ran out of steam.

Larry Jordan: So where can people go to learn about Life’s An Itch and your new project?

Kevin Kent: Well, Life’s An Itch is up on www.lifesanitch.com and there’s the trailer there and a lot of information about the movie, which will be added to significantly here now that I’m in the driver’s seat.

Larry Jordan: Short answer here, guy. Life’s An Itch, and how about the new project?

Kevin Kent: I think I have Busterandsarahthemovie.com. I don’t remember. I probably did it when I was doing all the copyright stuff, but yes, Buster and Sarah.

Larry Jordan: The website is Lifesanitch. The producer/director is Kevin Kent and, Kevin, thanks for joining us today.

Kevin Kent: Thank you very much. I admire so much what you do.

Larry Jordan: Oh, thank you so much. Take care, bye bye.

Kevin Kent: Thanks Larry, bye.

Larry Jordan: Let’s see where we’re going next and turn that switch back here. There we go. Sean Mullen is the Head of Rampant Design Tools. He’s an Emmy Award-winning visual effects artist with over 60 feature film and television credits, including Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ally McBeal, ER, Nip Tuck and many others. He started a company recently called Rampant Design Tools and they specialize in creating original drag and drop visual elements for editors and VFX artists. Plus – and this is the cool part – they just recently moved into new studios. Welcome, Sean.

Sean Mullen: Thanks Larry. Thanks, Mike. It’s always great to be on your show. Oh, he’s not here today.

Larry Jordan: Well, Mike is not with us today. He is taking the night off so you’re just stuck with me.

Sean Mullen: Oh, with Larry, that’s great. Well, you know, you’re one of my favorite people on the planet, so that just means I get to talk to you more. How about that?

Larry Jordan: You know, you just suddenly increased your worth by at least 50 percent. So tell us, congratulations by the way on your move into a new studio. Where are you and what’s it like?

Sean Mullen: We’re in Orlando right now and it’s great. It’s a big empty space basically, it’s like an empty canvas. We get to create 24/7 and we’re usually either shooting all day and posting all night or vice versa. So it’s a lot of fun to be able to have our own space and be able to work in it 24 hours a day.

Larry Jordan: Now, wait a minute. You create effects for visual effects artists. You’re just working inside after effects. What’s this shooting business?

Sean Mullen: Well, I typically have always mixed organic or practical elements with my digital stuff. I think it always works better. There’s a nice hybrid of the two that work really well together and there are just some things that you just can’t recreate, in my humble opinion, digitally, unless you’ve got…

Larry Jordan: For instance?

Sean Mullen: …ILM at your back, you know, the average artist or editor is not going to be able to properly synthesize light or whatnot, as far as I’m concerned.

Larry Jordan: For instance, what’s hard to do on the computer?

Sean Mullen: I prefer optical light effects over generated ones any time. There’s a time and a place for everything, but if you can throw on an honest to God actual lens flare on a shot, it just absolutely looks stunning and I’ll take that over a digital light effect of any kind.

Larry Jordan: Ok, so light effects. Sorry, lens flares are something that you’d rather shoot the real thing. Anything else come to mind?

Sean Mullen: Fire, smoke, film flashes, any kind of overlays or gradients. I typically try to start with it optically first and try to see if Mother Nature will render it for me before I have to start digging into it.

Larry Jordan: Now, when you say start optically, what does that mean?

Sean Mullen: We usually start off in the studio, literally in a blank stage, typically shooting over black so we’ve got a lot of black walls and black muslin hanging everywhere and we just try to experiment using different light techniques; and we have an idea of what we want to get, but then we experiment on how to actually obtain that with the gear that we have.

Larry Jordan: And what gear are you using?

Sean Mullen: Right now, I’m really in love with the Blackmagic camera.

Larry Jordan: Really?

Sean Mullen: I absolutely adore that camera. I’m used to a RED Workflow and the Blackmagic Workflow is awesome. The latitude is just unbelievable. I can’t say enough great things about the final image I get out of the Blackmagic.

Larry Jordan: So when you say the latitude, what does that mean?

Sean Mullen: Well, you know, when you shoot on a DSLR or another kind of camera, when you load it up either in Resolve or just even in After Effects or in your favorite NLE, you’ll see a wave form. A lot of times when you shoot on a DSLR or something that’s not as beefy, you’ll see the wave form is actually segmented, whereas if you shoot on something like the Blackmagic or a RED camera, you’ll notice that the wave form is healthy, it’s complete. So I have tons of latitude to, you know, clamp down or boost up or do whatever I want.

Sean Mullen: I have complete and utter control in post and I love that. You know, a lot of shots that you shoot on, for example, a DSLR, when you crunch it too far, you know, or you tweak the colors too far, it’s going to start breaking up and you’re going to start seeing artefacting or compressing or something that’s not desirable.

Larry Jordan: Well, I was just thinking, your studio is essentially a black box. Why did you have to expand if all you needed is a room filled with black?

Sean Mullen: Well, a lot of the things that we do require, you know, ten, 15 feet of height, quite a bit of width. One of our light projects that we just finished, we were doing some light whips across probably 60 feet. But we like to do it big, so if you’re going to have a space, you might as well use it, you know?

Larry Jordan: You know, if you can’t have toys, what’s the sense of growing up?

Sean Mullen: Exactly.

Larry Jordan: I was just thinking, with so many companies keeping their heads down and minimizing expenses, is it really commercially smart to expand?

Sean Mullen: In most cases, probably not. For us, my wife, who is a Vice President of the company, and our accountant like to tell me no a lot, so I don’t get to do whatever I want to do, but within reason. We sat down and have gotten such great response from your audience and people at NAB, we just thought, ”Well, this is the next logical thing,” and it grows tiresome when a client calls or a big customer calls and says, “Hey, you know, I want you to shoot a custom element for me,” and now I have to go around, either booking a spot or cashing in favors or whatnot. It takes a lot of time to do that, so having our own spot when a big entertainment company calls and says, “Hey, I want you to shoot something for us by the end of the week,” I can absolutely facilitate that without starting to scramble.

Larry Jordan: Are you still doing custom work? Or is everything is packaged?

Sean Mullen: Oh, absolutely. We do custom work all the time. I’m contractually not allowed to say the name of this particular company, but I can tell you it’s one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world and they call us on the regular and we’ve just finished facilitating an order for them, actually, yesterday.

Larry Jordan: Which means that not only are you doing custom work, but you can take that and apply that to your products, then, can’t you? Not in terms of…

Sean Mullen: As long as it’s not stipulated in the contract. If they say, “Hey, you know, we want this to be ours,” we’ll work something out, but if they allow me to shoot other things in the same vein, then yes, absolutely. Our customers benefit from that.

Larry Jordan: I asked the question the wrong way. What I’m saying is that because you do this on a daily basis for commercial clients, that expertise gets put into your packages.

Sean Mullen: Oh, absolutely, yes, absolutely. I get to experiment on somebody else’s dime so the customers win all the way round.

Larry Jordan: Which gets me to you’ve released a bunch of new titles. What are the new toys? Sorry, what are the serious new products that you’ve created?

Sean Mullen: Oh no, they’re toys, they’re toys. I mean, you’ll drop them in your timeline and just have nothing but fun. You might get in trouble for using too many of them, but we have four new volumes out right now. There’s Gradient Overlays, which is a very colorful and vibrant blasts of color that were shot practically and it gives you this really amazing gradient, but instead of just putting a traditional ramp on your footage, this is kind of an organic living thing, so it has natural movement to it. So you drop it on a shot or even a moving shot, it looks gorgeous.

Sean Mullen: And then we’ve also got Speed Lights, which are digital whips and blasts, things you see on sports networks and more aggressive type programming. We’ve also got Light Impacts, which are super hard hitting lights. You’ll see that on, like, the Fuel Network and whatnot, just really heavy hitting light. And then we have something that’s very different than what’s out there right now, it’s called Stage Light Transitions, where you’ll see actually stage lights wipe the frame in all different kinds and colors and you can use it as a transition or as a beauty element and they look great because they’re real.

Larry Jordan: Now, your packaging and your website calls these drag and drop, so how do they work? How would you integrate them into a project?

Sean Mullen: Well, you literally drag it from your timeline and, excuse me, you drag it from your bin right into your timeline and then you use a blending mode of your choice and you’ll be able to literally blend the light right into your footage.

Larry Jordan: So in other words, you would shoot a shot – let’s say a lens flare or a music video. Not a lens flare, but you’d shoot something that’s got a light in the background and then you would apply a separate clip as a blend mode to say ‘add the lens flare here’?

Sean Mullen: Yes, and so if I shot a flare and I wanted to add that to a scene, I would just drag it to my timeline over my initial video track and use ‘add a screen’ or ‘overlay’ or whatever it is that you think works best for your particular shot.

Larry Jordan: See? I knew you could take when I said and explain it in English. Do you have particular blend modes that you tend to favor more than others?

Sean Mullen: My favorite overlay, it’s one of those ones that end up giving you some really unusual and beautiful effects, but the go-to one would have to be either ‘screen’ or ‘add’. If I’m doing non-broadcast work, I’ll use ‘add’. If I’m doing broadcast work I’ll use ‘screen’ because ‘add’ tends to bloat things out just a little too far. But if I can get away with it, I love to go super hot white for certain kinds of effects.

Larry Jordan: Yes, but I need to caution people who are not professionals that the ‘add’ blend mode guarantees knocking your white levels over 100 percent and that will get you yelled at.

Sean Mullen: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.

Larry Jordan: It’s just one of those things you’ve got to be…

Sean Mullen: …broadcast work, you’ve got to stick to screen, make sure you’re always within your limits.

Larry Jordan: What format do you deliver these in? Do you have to work with a specific NLE or, like, just it’s only After Effects to be able to use these?

Sean Mullen: Oh no, you can use any NLE. As a matter of fact, we had the wonderful Kevin… do a basically quick and dirty tutorial for every single NLE we could think of on how to use our content and so if you use Vegas or Premiere or Final Cut X or, you know, you name it, you can absolutely use our stuff in your software and it’s very easy.

Larry Jordan: Well, I was just thinking, a lot of these, a gradient, for instance, or a lens flare, you could create that in your own software. Why should somebody consider buying it from you?

Sean Mullen: Well, I like to try to give you both quality and quantity. No matter how much or how little you make in an hour, if you equate your time to money, there’s no way for what we’re charging you could re-create our library and be able to do it for less than we’re charging, so that’s one thing. But another thing is, again, we’re really all about the organic element, so you could sit and you could create something digitally and it may work for you and your client might be happy and that’s great, but we’re giving you something completely different that’s really more animated by nature and it gives you that unique, organic feel that, I promise you, once you use it once, you’ll be addicted.

Larry Jordan: Cramped in our live chat is not a fan of lens flares. He said, “If there’s one thing I don’t want to see again, it’s another lens flare.” What could you do to add some life and energy to an exterior shot, for instance, that doesn’t involve adding a lens flare?

Sean Mullen: Well, I don’t blame him. You know, the flares are just one small thing that we add, but yes, there’s a lot of content out there that’s flare heavy. But we do a lot of things other than just flares. The gradients I stand behind 100 percent and a lot of our bokeh elements and whatnot. We do a lot of really great light reflections that aren’t flares, they’re reflecting elements into the camera and they’re just beautiful, but they’re not your traditional giant blue streaks across the frame where it looks like, you know, there’s a holocaust about to happen. It’s very subtle and very beautiful, things you’d end up seeing in a traditional car commercial.

Larry Jordan: Now, you used a term that I don’t know, bokeh, B-O-K-E-H. What is it?

Sean Mullen: Well, some people call it bokeh. I guess it might be wherever you’re from, but it’s basically when you shoot an object out of focus and you get these various shapes that happen depending upon the glass that you’re using and you get some really wonderful and beautiful and natural effects that way, and there are people who are doing it digitally as well, but I can honestly tell you that natural bokeh is amazing.

Larry Jordan: In other words, it’s an artifact of taking an image out of focus and within that out of focus element caused by the shape of the lens, you get this artifact.

Sean Mullen: Correct. Wow, you said that beautifully. You see that example in, like, the Saturday Night Live open. They do it really quite well. But yes, that’s exactly it.

Larry Jordan: So what do your titles cost and can they be afforded by mere mortals?

Sean Mullen: Everything we make is under $100 and we’re always having a deal. Like, right now you can get everything for 50 percent off, or we have bundles where you can get up to 80 percent off, so you’re able to get, you know, between three and five products for the price of one at this point.

Larry Jordan: For people that would like to have you do custom work, how do you price your custom work?

Sean Mullen: It depends on what they’re asking for. I mean, it’s a sliding scale. If they want us to go blow up a building, that’s going to cost a little bit more than, you know, doing custom gradients for them or something. But we’ll absolutely do whatever you ask us to do; we’ll just research it, find out the camera gear that’s required and how many man hours it will take, and we typically work with the customer. If they allow us to repurpose the same footage or similar footage for our fans and our customers, we’re able to give them a significant discount.

Larry Jordan: Thinking about the effects and titles you just came up with, what effects are you looking at for the future? What’s caught your attention creatively?

Sean Mullen: Mmm, well, I’m about to release a product called Monster Effects, which is very different than anything we’ve done and I’m literally playing with it right now and we are so close. We’re uploading it to our servers now for our beta team to check out and put through the ringers, but we’ve got everything from really high end visual companies in LA looking at this thing to everyday artists who are all beta testing it right now, so I can’t wait to release this thing. It’s been two years in the making and it’s very, very cool. It’s basically drag and drop prosthetics and it’s very cool.

Larry Jordan: Drag and drop prosthetics? What do you mean?

Sean Mullen: Yes, if you want to create an undead character and you don’t have practical makeup or you want to enhance your practical makeup or you want to do an effect where some kind of an evil creature is revealed, you know, or in a morph of some kind or whatever, this is the perfect product for you. It’s dozens and dozens and dozens of different kinds of wounds and eyeballs and scars and bloody bits and just all kinds of grossness that will definitely make your content look like something right out of The Walking Dead.

Larry Jordan: Well, Walking Dead is not a movie that I personally want to watch, but I can see that a lot of people would be interested in it. What website can they go to to learn more?

Sean Mullen: They can go to rampantdesigntools.com.

Larry Jordan: That’s rampantdesgintools.com. Sean Mullen is the CEO and Lead Creative at Rampant Design Tools and, Sean, thanks for joining us today.

Sean Mullen: Thanks so much Larry, I appreciate it.

Larry Jordan: Take care and best of luck on your new headquarters.

Sean Mullen: Thank you so much.

Larry Jordan: Bye bye.

Larry Jordan: By day, Bruce Nazarian masquerades as The Digital Guy. He’s a regular on The Buzz and he’s been working on this musical event we’ll talk about a little bit later. But recently we sent him on a secret mission to stalk the halls of DV Expo, peer into every corner and find out all those new products that you haven’t heard about, and I wanted to get his report. Bruce, welcome back.

Bruce Nazarian: Well, thank you, Larry. I appreciated the stealth task and, boy, is my brain full of stuff.

Larry Jordan: Well, you know, we sent you on this secret mission and so I want to know what caught your attention? What do we need to pay attention to?

Bruce Nazarian: Well, you know, first of all after having been a little bit away from digital media, I’m very pleased to report that the developments are still just as rampant and as incredible as they were the last time I checked in on things and I’m very, very thrilled to see that, because I know for our listeners who are shooters or editors or have need for storage or lighting or whatever, I just saw a bewilderingly wonderful array of stuff and some of it in particular really caught my eye, even though I don’t shoot and edit on a day to day basis.

Larry Jordan: All right, all right, get to the facts. I want to know what, where, I mean, start…

Bruce Nazarian: Ok, ok.

Larry Jordan: …spill the beans.

Bruce Nazarian: Ok, well, I mean, literally right as I walked in the hall, I got attracted to the International Supplies booth and had a chance to chat with Doug Pircher about some stuff and I got to looking at the Ready Rig, which I’d heard a lot about and what’s really interesting about it is it doesn’t appear to be as extraordinary as you might think it is until you strap it on and take it for a test drive, and all of a sudden you’ve got this very comfortable sort of body shaping rig that is counterbalanced and gives you full mobility and flexibility to not only move the camera wherever you like but also, apparently, to keep the viewfinder in your line of sight so you have all these incredible moves that you can do while you’re controlling the camera.

Bruce Nazarian: And the best part of all for me because, look, sometimes little things help, you can take your hands totally off the camera rig and the camera’ll stay in place where you left it.

Larry Jordan: Mmm, and this is called the Ready Rig?

Bruce Nazarian: It is called the Ready Rig.

Larry Jordan: Do we have a website?

Bruce Nazarian: We do. You can go to internationalsupplies.com and from there you can get information on it or you can bounce over to the albacamerasupport.com website. But go to International Supplies first, because they’ve got a lot of great stuff there, including some new lighting…

Larry Jordan: What you got?

Bruce Nazarian: …that are called Lumos lights, which are apparently now the most state of the art LED lighting system and, while I’m not a lighting geek, per se by day, I can certainly appreciate the fact that these things are incredibly bright and beautifully color free in the sense that there’s no coloration.

Larry Jordan: A better way to put it is color accurate. It has what’s called a CRI Index and it has a very, very high index so that the color that you get is accurate. I just thought I’d drop that in there, just in case you were wondering.

Bruce Nazarian: And I love chatting with you, because every time we chat, I learn some new tidbit of info.

Larry Jordan: And that’s my role in life, is tidbits of info. What else have you got? Was International Supplies the only place to go see?

Bruce Nazarian: Oh no, no, no. There was a whole bunch of stuff that was going on. I filtered by the G Technology booth, G Tech.

Larry Jordan: Ok, yes.

Bruce Nazarian: We’ve been knowing about their drives for a long time, we’ve loved their RAIDs and loved their external hard drives. Now they’ve got a new G-DOCK ev, it’s called, which is a Thunderbolt equipped external dock that gives you Thunderbolt connectivity and incredibly fast data transfer and yet it uses very interesting USB3 drives that just pop in in this little plug-in array.

Larry Jordan: Ok.

Bruce Nazarian: G-technology.com is where you can find information more on that on the web.

Larry Jordan: It’s called the G-DOCK ev.

Bruce Nazarian: Correct.

Larry Jordan: And it’s two USB portable drives feeding into a two drive docking station. The portables attach via USB3 and the docking station attaches via Thunderbolt, and I just wrote a review on it on my website and on my blog, so for people that want all the technical details, it’s definitely worth checking into.

Bruce Nazarian: Absolutely. It looked very cool and it’s a RAID solution as well, so you’ve got not only the initial speed of the drives, but also in the RAID configuration, it gives you all the benefits that RAID gives you.

Larry Jordan: Yes, and the G Tech PR people say we should talk about the RAID and I think it’s inappropriate for RAID use, because it’s way too easy to pop out one drive, break the RAID and suddenly you’ve lost all your data. So you’re right, it supports RAID 0 and RAID 1, but I strongly recommend using it as a docking station, not as a RAID station.

Bruce Nazarian: Ok.

Larry Jordan: So having said that, I think the G-DOCK ev is a cool thing and definitely worth looking at from an expandability point of view, but not from a RAID point of view, and I’m happy to go one on one with the folks at G Tech if they disagree.

Bruce Nazarian: Well, that’s fine. I can tell you from historical experience, I love the G Technology products and have definitely enjoyed using them in the past, so I always come to expect quality from them.

Larry Jordan: And I agree totally. If I have one G drive in the office, I’ve got ten of them, so I’m a big fan. So it’s just simply the RAID function that I don’t like. The expandability and portability is very cool.

Bruce Nazarian: Right. Now, well, you wouldn’t expect me, being the inveterate audio junkie that I am, to walk around that exhibit floor and not zone in on audio related stuff and, of course, that’s exactly where my eyes took me the next time and one thing, the first one that I actually ran across, was the Azden booth from azdencorp.com because, you know, I’m a microphone junkie, I’m a sound guy. What I loved about it, though, was the fact that they have a tremendous assortment of really good looking shot guns and an assortment of external mixers as well that fit into the DSLR configurations.

Bruce Nazarian: And what really caught my eye was when I meandered over to the other aisle and I scoped out the Beachtek folks, because they’ve got a cool adapter that goes now with the Blackmagic Design cinema camera. It’s called the DXABMD and it is a very cool adaptoid that plugs directly into the cinema camera which, as everybody is telling me, that this thing is just like Gangbusters and when I saw it a couple of months ago, I was pretty blown away by what the thing can do.

Larry Jordan: That’s Azden and Beachtek.

Bruce Nazarian: Correct.

Larry Jordan: And Azden, what about the shot guns caught your eye?

Bruce Nazarian: Well, I love the fact that there are shot guns there that are hot shoe, and so they’ll slip onto cameras that have a hot shoe accessory; and the nice part about that is it then becomes one with your line of sight, so you’re not fighting a secondary audio system or having to necessarily carry around a second audio person with a boom and the shot gun and go traditional double system. If you’re really doing run and gun, this is a very cool way to do it, because they’re camera mountable and they will then plug into an external mixer so you’re not stuck with having go to directly into internal camera audio, you can actually run it through some external audio mixing and have more control over the signal.

Larry Jordan: And what’s Azden’s website again?

Bruce Nazarian: That would be azdencorp.com.

Larry Jordan: And how about Beachtek?

Bruce Nazarian: Beachtek.com.

Larry Jordan: Beachtek has been around in the audio industry for a long time in terms of converters and some other stuff, so it’s this ability to take a Blackmagic camera or a DSLR camera and mount it with audio is what you’re saying the highlight for Beachtek was for you?

Bruce Nazarian: Well, what I liked on Beachtek was the form factor of the little mixers, because they are designed to basically insert into the camera stack on whatever device you’re mounting on, whether it’s tripod or universal carry-round pod or whatever, and they’re very small form factor. So they don’t take up a whole bunch of room and yet they’ve got all the connections that you would need to be able to get in and come out in a professional level, you know, plus 4XLR.

Larry Jordan: Yes, and Beachtek has been doing professional audio since before you were doing music, so they’ve been doing it for a while.

Bruce Nazarian: Really? They came up from cylinder?

Larry Jordan: They did, they did. They had Wax, it was amazing. You see anything else you want to mention before I throw you out? Sorry, before I say goodbye?

Bruce Nazarian: No, no, you’d better throw me out, because there’s too much else to really go through. All I can say is this – it was a very, very interesting display and very cool to see that the technology’s hot and hopping.

Larry Jordan: And thinking of hot and hopping, what are you working on that’s keeping you busy and where can we find out more about it?

Bruce Nazarian: Well, lemonadeweekend2.com is what I’ve been working on for the last five months, it’s been keeping me busy and we’d love for people to drop on by, become familiar with it and maybe come and check out some of the most fantastic music and musicians around. Going to be in the heart of Hollywood next March, 27th through 30th.

Larry Jordan: That’s lemonadeweekend2.com. Bruce Nazarian, The Digital Guy, is also heading up the Lemonade Weekend and, Bruce, thanks for joining us today.

Bruce Nazarian: Always a pleasure, Larry. Call any time and get me out there stealthy.

Larry Jordan: We’ll get you out there again. Take care, bye bye.

Bruce Nazarian: Bye bye.

Larry Jordan: Bruce made some interesting points I want to share with you. I had a chance to play with the G-DOCK ev for a bit of time and wrote a review on it. You can read more at larryjordan.biz/blog. Had a chance to put it through its paces, measure its speed, figure out what I thought it was good for and what I thought might be better served by other devices, but some very cool write-ups there.

Larry Jordan: Also, I had a chance to play with a Contour Designs Shuttle Pro V2, which is sort of like a substitute for the keyboard with programmed shortcut keys and a jog wheel and a spring-loaded shuttle ring. I had wrote up a review of that. You’ll find both of them at larryjordan.biz/blog.

Larry Jordan: Also working with a new Thunderbolt RAID from a company called Areca, and I’ve been promising to write that review for a while and I’m going to spend time Saturday getting it written, so you can find more by visiting my blog or just sign up for my newsletter. That’s larryjordan.biz/newsletter. Product reviews I cover on the larryjordan.biz website and show news I cover on The Digital Production Buzz website and makes sense to sign up for both. The newsletters have different information. The Buzz focuses on what’s in the show and what our correspondents share with us and interesting blogs around the industry; and larryjordan.biz focuses on training for non-linear editing systems, specifically Apple and Adobe.

Larry Jordan: One of the things you’ll notice is that recently we haven’t talked a little bit about Adobe recently and that’s because they’ve announced their new version of Creative Cloud software but haven’t shipped it yet, and so we’re just waiting for the new stuff to come out and then we’re going to have a lot of conversations, talking about the new features in Premiere and After Effects and all the other applications inside Adobe, but there’s no sense to talk about it now, because nobody can get their hands on it.

Larry Jordan: Also, I’ve been rooting around inside the knowledge base of Apple, trying to come up with some new troubleshooting techniques, and I’ve got a whole new article that’s going to be coming out this weekend in my newsletter, larryjordan.biz, talking about troubleshooting your Mac and troubleshooting Final Cut X and if that’s something that you’re interested in, be sure to sign up for the newsletter and read up on it, because there’s some stuff I discovered that, I’ve been working with Final Cut now for almost 12 years and there are things there that I didn’t know about.

Larry Jordan: So all kinds of interesting things, and thinking of interesting things, you remember I mentioned at the top of the show that we’re working with Take1.tv to create text transcripts for The Buzz? And we’ve got a really nice relationship going with them, but I would like to know from you – send me an email – on whether you find the text transcripts helpful, because there are always things that we’re looking to do to improve the show, we’re looking always at ideas for guests and companies to cover, but also interested in feedback on things we offer on the website, with transcripts and individual interviews and the show archives. Do you realize we’ve got show archives that go back almost five years? We’ve got almost a thousand interviews that are individually accessible on the website.

Larry Jordan: If you haven’t clicked on the individual interviews or interview archives, I guess we call it, if you haven’t clicked on that, click on it. You can search by name, you can search by company, all kinds of interesting stuff on the website, if you just give yourself a little bit of time to explore, which is just really cool. We’re having a good time putting all this stuff together.

Larry Jordan: Thinking of good times and wonderful people, I want to thank our guests for today – Kevin Louden, the Enterprise Sales Engineer for Telestream; Kevin Kent, independent writer, producer, director of the film Life’s An Itch; Sean Mullen, the CEO and Lead Creative for Rampant Design Tools; and the ever talented Bruce Nazarian, The Digital Guy. There’s a lot happening at The Buzz between shows. Make a point to visit digitalproductionbuzz.com. click on ‘Latest News’ because we update this several times a day with the latest in news from our industry.

Larry Jordan: Visit with us on Twitter, @dpbuzz, and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Music on The Buzz is provided by Smart Sound. The Buzz is streamed by wehostmacs.com. You can email us at info@digitalproductionbuzz.com. Our producer, the ever beautiful Cirina Catania. On behalf of Mike Horton, my name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to The Digital Production Buzz.

Voiceover: This Digital Production Buzz was brought to you by Blackmagic Design, creators of the world’s highest quality solutions for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries.

Improved Padcaster Launches Version 2.0

The creators of The Padcaster, a revolutionary iPad case that transforms the tablet into an on-the-go production studio, have announced the availability of version 2.0 of its namesake product, The Padcaster. The latest version of the mobile filmmaking tool is available for preorder at a discount exclusively through the company’s recently launched Kickstarter Campaign. The Padcaster 2.0 has been upgraded to accommodate a wider range of accessories as well as to provide a better fit for the current range of compatible ones. Additionally, The Padcaster 2.0 will have larger openings, making it much easier to access the control buttons and charging port on the iPad. For filmmakers using The Padcaster as a DSLR cage, version 2.0 features two rubber pads on the bottom of the metal frame, which allows for a much more secure hold while shooting.

Padcaster Version 2.0 Updates Include:

  • The headphone pass-through hole is now .39 inches, making it possible to thread heavier duty headsets through to connect to the iPad
  • Material was removed from the urethane insert to allow for easier access to the charging port, power button and volume buttons; this new modification also makes it much easier to insert and remove the iPad from The Padcaster’s urethane insert
  • Two additional rubber pads have been built into the bottom of The Padcaster’s metal frame, providing a safe, secure and steady hold when mounting a DSLR or other camera

Since it hit markets in the summer of 2012, The Padcaster has remained one of the most talked about filmmaking gadgets for the iPad. It continues to gain major popularity, with uses expanding far past its original intended use as a filmmaking device. Most recently, Fox TV purchased The Padcasters for 17 local news affiliates nationwide. Members of the “Atlantis Live” crew have been using The Padcaster to livestream the team’s ocean expedition from miles off the Seattle coast – a feat never before possible without the stability of The Padcaster to root the iPad to the boat. The device is even used at TEDx conferences, for commercial production, in real estate, schools and government application.

The Padcaster Becomes a Big Brother

On September 12, The Padcaster launched its first Kickstarter Campaign and is currently raising funds to develop The Padcaster for the iPad mini. Dubbed The Padcaster Mini, this brand new product in The Padcaster family will also feature the above modifications, which have been tailor-made to satisfy user feedback. As part of the campaign, The Padcaster is offering a variety of perks, which are rewarded to backers for their generous donations. The brand new Padcaster 2.0 is now available for preorder exclusively through the Kickstarter campaign perks. The Padcaster Mini can also be preordered through the Kickstarter campaign site. Supporters who purchase either of the Padcasters via a donation to the Kickstarter cause will also receive an “I Kickstarted The Padcaster” T-shirt.

Additional perks range from the full Padcaster bundle, which includes the new and improved Padcaster 2.0, an LED light, on-board microphone, Apogee Jam audio interface, accessory clamp and a monopod, to an on-site visit from Josh Apter for a full day tutorial on shooting with the Padcaster.

More On The Padcaster

The Padcaster has received rave reviews from consumer and professional industry media alike. A tool that makes the iPad an all-in-one content-creating machine, The Padcaster continues to be recognized by many for its unique ability to transform the iPad into an even cooler, more capable device.

About The Padcaster

The Padcaster transforms an iPad into an on-the-go production studio, providing an easy and professional way for users to create stunning videos on the iPad. Perfect for professional and amateur videographers alike, The Padcaster is an aluminum frame with a urethane insert that securely holds the iPad for a safe and solid feel. Threaded holes lining the edges of the frame allow filmmakers to attach external mics, lights and countless other accessories to enhance the finished product. A standard ¼-20 screw thread and locking-pin design centered on the bottom of The Padcaster lets users connect it to a professional tripod, monopod or shoulder mount for easy, smooth filming. Additional lenses can be attached via the Lenscaster, a separate accessory, to create a wider field of view or bring telephoto capabilities to the iPad’s fixed lens.

The Padcaster’s aluminum frame can also be used as a standalone DSLR cage. Filmmakers can rig a DSLR or other video camera into the cage, enabling them to attach numerous accessories to enhance their shoot.

Click for more information about the Padcaster 2.0.

TOLIS Group Announces New ArGest End to End M&E Solutions

TOLIS Group, Inc. has announced the immediate availability of complete end-to-end solutions for the Media & Entertainment Industry that provide a single source solution for the ingest, storage, management, and archival of media assets

Combining connectivity from Sonnet Technologies and ATTO, storage from Seagate and Samsung, asset management from Square Box, tape technologies from HP, and archival from DAX and TOLIS Group, TOLIS Group’s ArGest solutions provide a single source for all components required to manage and archive assets – from standalone videographers to large studios supporting multiple projects and long term archival.

By combining TOLIS Group’s existing ArGest disk and tape storage technologies with CatDV and DAX Broadcast Archive, TOLIS Group is able to provide hard drive and SSD storage, LTO standalone and library tape solutions and all of the software required to manage and archive an organization’s deluge of digital content.

Solutions range from a single LTO-5 or LTO-6 standalone tape drive to 500TB of RAID disk and multi-LTO library configurations ranging to 144 tape slots.

Pricing for a standalone LTO-5 drive includes a single CatDV Pro Desktop license, DAX Broadcast Archive Lite/20, BRU Server M&E Edition, ArGest LTO-5 Desktop Cube, ATTO ExpressSAS H680 HBA, LTO-5 tape, Cleaning Cartridge, and SAS cable. The Sonnet Echo Express SE Thunderbolt to PCIe bridge chassis is available and includes the Thunderbolt cable. Other Thunderbolt solutions are also available.

A mid-range solution providing 32TB of rack mounted disk, a 24 slot LTO-6 library, xMac Mini Server 1U Chassis, a 5 seat license for CatDV Desktop Pro and CatDV Server, DAX Broadcast Archive Pro, and BRU Server M&E Edition is also available.

Packages including desktop and 1U rackmount HD or SSD drive capacities of 2TB to 4TB, multiple LTO tape drives, and larger slot capacities are available.

Click for more information about TOLIS Group’s ArGest solutions.

Digital Production Buzz — September 26, 2013

  • Telestream Makes News With Wirecast Update and H.265 Codec Project
  • Yay! I Got Distribution… um, Now What?
  • Rampant Design Tools Moves Into New Studio, Releases New Products
  • Cool New Products You’ve Never Heard About

GUESTS: Kevin Louden, Kevin Kent, Sean Mullen, and Bruce Nazarian

Click to listen to the current show.
(Mobile users click the MP3 player underneath image.)

*Right click on Download and “Save Link As…”

Join Larry Jordan and co-host Michael Horton as they talk with:

Kevin Louden, Enterprise Sales Engineer, Telestream

Codecs and streaming software sound boring. BUT, new software being developed by Telestream can make your live projects looks great, while using a fraction of the bandwidth. Kevin Louden, Enterprise Sales Engineer for Telestream joins us this week to explain what’s going on and how it affects you.

Kevin Kent, Writer-Producer, “Life’s an Itch”

Kevin Kent is the independent writer/producer who created “Life’s an Itch,” a comedy about a crisis. Recently, Kevin found a distributor for his movie. We talk with him this week about how he found distribution and his plans to, finally, make some money from his movie.

Sean Mullen, CEO & Lead Creative, Rampant Design Tools

Rampant Design Tools creates high-quality, drag-drop-and-go visual effects that editors can integrate into their own projects. Earlier this week, they moved into new studios and released a flock of new products. CEO and Lead Creative Sean Mullen joins us to talk about their new facility and how they go about making money creating visual images for other artists to use.

Bruce Nazarian, CEO, Digital Media Consulting Group, Inc.

DV Expo 2013 is currently running at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Buzz Regular Contributor Bruce Nazarian, The Digital Guy, toured the show and talked to the experts to get the inside story on cool new products you’ve never heard about. He shares his discoveries with us this week.

The Buzz is all the information you need now to know what’s coming next!


The Digital Production BuZZ airs LIVE Thursday from 6-7 PM Pacific Daylight Time. Ask questions during the show on our Live Chat, listen live, download an episode from the archives, or subscribe to the podcast either through iTunes or our website. Whatever you do, DON’T miss this week’s show!

AJA Announces Support for Multiple Input HD and 4K Feeds to Telestream Wirecast

AJA Video Systems has announced the upcoming release of a new plug-in for KONA 3G that will support Telestream Wirecast 5 with up to four HD-SDI input channels and is also the first video card to support 4K/Ultra HD input to Wirecast. AJA developed the new plug-in using Wirecast’s SDK for partners to accommodate customer requests for boosted support for top quality live and on-demand streaming workflows.

About Wirecast

Wirecast from Telestream is a live video streaming production tool that allows Mac and Windows users to create live or on-demand broadcasts for the web. Wirecast works like a video switcher, controlling real-time switching between multiple live video cameras, while dynamically mixing in other source media, such as QuickTime movies, music, audio and slides to create professional broadcast productions for live or on-demand distribution on the web.

About KONA 3G

KONA 3G features 10-bit uncompressed video 3G/HD/SD SDI I/O, HDMI 1.4a output for stereographic monitoring to consumer 3D displays, 4K playout, 8-channel AES digital audio I/O (16-channel AES with optional K3G-Box) and 16-channel SDI embedded audio I/O, real-time hardware-based up/down/cross conversion to support a range of SD and HD, dual-link HD, even 2K formats, a hardware-based downstream keyer and more.

Availability

KONA 3G is available from AJA’s global network of resellers. The new plug-in will be available free of charge to all existing KONA 3G customers upon the release of Wirecast 5 which will be available from Telestream in late Q3, 2013.

Click for more information about AJA’s KONA 3G.

Avid Continues Proven and Trusted Shared Storage Innovation with New ISIS 5500

Avid has introduced the newAvid ISIS 5500 online shared storage system, offering unprecedented value for small- to mid-sized post production, broadcast, education, and corporate facilities. The next-generation ISIS 5500 represents the continuing innovation of the company’s industry standard storage systems. It provides critical new capabilities to help small and mid-sized media organizations more easily and efficiently deliver higher quality, inspiring content – by streamlining and accelerating editorial workflows.

ISIS 5500, the successor to ISIS 5000, provides exceptional scalability; performance; media access, sharing, and protection; and real-time collaboration. The new 64 terabyte (TB) engine doubles storage capacity at the same price point as the ISIS 5000 32 TB system, delivering the value that media organizations urgently require. Further, Avid will continue to offer a 32 TB system at a 25 percent reduced rate. Specific features and benefits include:

  • Exceptional scalability – A new 64 TB capacity that complements the existing 16 and 32 TB engines provides efficient, linear bandwidth scaling to sustain performance, making it easy to scale workgroups, bandwidth, and capacity. Media organizations can connect up to 90 content contributors at the same time, and scale workspaces and storage from 16 TB to 384 TB of raw storage, with up to six ISIS Engines and 1.8 GB per second of bandwidth.
  • New ISIS 4.5 software – Also available to existing ISIS 7000, 5000, and 2000 customers via a simple software upgrade, ISIS 4.5 software provides:
  1. Real-time access, editing, and sharing ISIS-stored media using Red Hat Linux 6.2-compatible applications
  2. Connectivity to ISIS online and nearline storage using Windows 8 clients
  3. Increased file count, with up to eight million files for ISIS 5500
  4. Enhanced File Gateway service to share all workspaces
  5. ISIS 2000 scalability – to five engines for up to 1.2 PB of nearline storage
  6. Failover protection with support for dual System Directors in ISIS 2000
  • Real-time collaboration – Allows media organizations to connect their creative professionals in distributed and complex workflow environments, enabling contributors throughout the facility—or around the world using Interplay Sphere—to work together using the same media assets.
  • Tight integration and more open workflow – Provides maximum production efficiency and flexibility with tight integration with the AirSpeed ingest and playout server, Avid Interplay asset management, and Avid editing workflows. With support for many third-party applications, including Apple Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere, users can easily integrate ISIS 5500 into existing infrastructures.
  • Reliable performance – Delivers the same simultaneous media access, dynamic storage allocation, and reliable linear scaling as ISIS 7000, while intuitive, web-based system management tools provide an easy, reliable way to store assets, accelerate editorial, and scale capacity, access, and bandwidth.
  • Support for HD and high-res files – Enables media organizations to house a vast amount of SD, HD, and other high-res content from a variety of sources and make it readily available everywhere.
  • Interoperability – ISIS 5500 family of products use the industry proven ISIS file system and is backward compatible with existing ISIS systems. ISIS 5500 engines can be added to existing ISIS 5000 storage systems providing investment protection.

Availability

ISIS 5500 is available worldwide in September 2013.

ISIS 4.5 software is currently available. Customers with an Avid Advantage ExpertPlus or Elite support plan can upgrade to ISIS 4.5 anytime by logging in to their Avid Master Account.

Click for more information about Avid’s ISIS 5500.

Discover Vinten Radamec’s Line Of Robotic Studio Camera Support

Vinten Radamec, part of Vitec Videocom, a Vitec Group company,has announced the completion of a number of robotic studio camera support installations in the United States.

In New York City, Al Jazeera America installed a six-camera Vinten Radamec robotic system in its Manhattan studios to support its U.S. cable network. The cable channel chose Vinten Radamec’s next generation Fusion FH-145, which incorporates Vinten Radamec’s Intelligent Control Engineering (ICE) that delivers unprecedented control and accuracy in an innovative and highly compact form. FH-145 heads can be operated robotically or manually, adding to their flexibility. Al Jazeera’s robotics are controlled by a Vinten Radamec VRC controller designed for easy use in a configuration, which provides multi-user, multi-facility control of robotic pedestals, heads and elevation units.

Bay News 9, Tampa’s 24-hour cable channel, owned by Bright House Networks, expanded its existing studio robotics system with four additional Vinten Radamec FHR-145 robotic heads, utilizing ICE technology in a robotic-only head. The heads are mounted on Vinten Osprey Elite Studio Pedestals with Vinten Radamec’s FBH-175 Height Drive, providing robotic elevation control of the cameras. The cameras are equipped with Autoscript 17” prompters.

Also adding to its existing robotic studio equipment was Orlando’s WFTV, a Cox Media Group station. WFTV chose a Vinten Radamec FHR-145 robotic head along with an FP-188+ Robotic/Manual pedestal, utilizing Vinten Radamec’s new differential wheel trucks to maximize floor traction, which enhance shot stability performance. The FP-188+ can be operated robotically or manually, providing WFTV with greater operational flexibility. WFTV added a 15” Autoscript prompter.

Investment bank Morgan Stanley chose Vinten Radamec Robotics for its television studio. Through system integrator DSI RF, they selected a pair of FHR-145 Robotic- heads along with Vinten Radamec’s FCS-16 Compact Touchscreen controller, a small form-factor control system capable of controlling up to 16 robotic heads. Morgan Stanley also selected a pair of 15” Autoscript prompters.

Click for more information about Vinten Radamec’s six-camera robotic system.

Transcript: Digital Production Buzz September 19, 2013

Digital Production Buzz

September 19, 2013

[Transcripts provided by Take1.tv.]

[To listen to this show, click here.]

Hosts:

Larry Jordan
Mike Horton

Guests:

Sébastien Francoeur, Senior CG Artist, Rodeo Visual Effects Company
Jessica Sitomer, President of The Greenlight Coach
Jeremy Pollard, Product Manager, Cospective
Philip Hodgetts, President, Intelligence Assistance


Voiceover:
This Digital Production Buzz is brought to you by Blackmagic Design, creators of the world’s highest quality solutions for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries. …

Voiceover: Live from Ralph’s Maytag Museum and Podcast Studio in beautiful downtown Burbank, it’s the Digital Production Buzz.

Voiceover: Production, post production, distribution. What’s really happening now and in your digital future?

Voiceover: The Buzz is live now.

Larry Jordan: And welcome to the Digital Production Buzz, the leading internet podcast covering digital video production, post production and distribution around the world. My name is Larry Jordan and joining us as our co-host is the ever handsome, ever cosmopolitan, Mr. Mike Horton.

Mike Horton: Cosmopolitan? I got off the plane yesterday and you got off the plane the day before and we’re both seeing double and we can still speak English.

Larry Jordan: And, well, you know, you have just made a trip of the tour of the capitals of Europe, you know.

Mike Horton: I did.

Larry Jordan: Yes you did.

Mike Horton: And you didn’t.

Larry Jordan: Well, no, you didn’t give me time.

Mike Horton: You basically took the flight; no, you didn’t take the time. You could have taken the time, Larry, and you should have, because Amsterdam is a beautiful city, and we’re going to talk a little bit more about that at the end of the show.

Larry Jordan: It is a beautiful city.

Mike Horton: About the SuperMeet and Larry, of course, was brilliant.

Larry Jordan: Well, thank you.

Mike Horton: And you all missed a wonderful presentation. However, we’ll be talking about that presentation later.

Larry Jordan: We’ve got an announcement about that, in fact.

Mike Horton: We do.

Larry Jordan: But thinking about special people, we’ve got a great group of guests today. We’re going to start with Sébastien Francoeur, the senior CG artist with Rodeo Visual Effects Company based in Montreal, Canada. He gives us an inside look at how they created effects for Pacific Rim and Now You See Me.

Mike Horton: And a lot of other good movies coming up: Hunger Games and boy, this guy’s doing some really good stuff.

Larry Jordan: He also worked on The Amazing Spiderman, if I remember right.

Mike Horton: Yes, well, he’s doing some really cool stuff and he’s Canadian too, so maybe he has an accent.

Larry Jordan: Then Jessica Sitomer, the President of The Greenlight Coach joins us with some suggestions on how to nail your pitch meeting, both personally and professionally. Then we move from Canada to Australia – Jeremy Pollard is the Product Manager for Australia-based Cospective. He manages a relatively new product called Frankie, which allows remote multi-user interactive video review and this week we get a chance to learn more about it; and Philip Hodgetts, President of Intelligence Assistance, just returned from IBC in Amsterdam…

Mike Horton: Yes, right.

Larry Jordan: …got off the plane about two nanoseconds ago and he shares his thoughts on what he saw that the rest of us need to pay attention to. Oh, Mike, by the way, have you noticed that we are now offering complete text transcripts for each show?

Mike Horton: I did know that.

Larry Jordan: That’s courtesy of Take1.tv. You can now quickly scan or print the contents of each show, as well as listen to it. Transcripts are located on each show page and we are incredibly grateful to Take1.tv for all their hard work in putting these transcripts together. The show gets posted Thursday night, the transcripts are posted…

Mike Horton: Can they actually transcribe my voice and my speech and my inability to enunciate?

Larry Jordan: We do what’s called a smooth transcription. We take your speech and turn it into English. It’s really cool. You can visit their website at take1.tv. So how was SuperMeet?

Mike Horton: It was awesome. It was great.

Larry Jordan: Did you have anybody show up?

Mike Horton: Yes, Larry Jordan showed up.

Larry Jordan: Well, I know that.

Mike Horton: Thank God. If you didn’t, there would have been big trouble.

Larry Jordan: You had a big crowd.

Mike Horton: We did and weren’t they the nicest people in the world?

Larry Jordan: Yes, it’s always a fun city.

Mike Horton: Oh, it’s just the best. I just love Amsterdam.

Larry Jordan: Just a thought – you can visit us on Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com; we’re on Twitter, @dpbuzz, and be sure to subscribe to our weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com for all the latest news on both our show and the industry; and Mike is just aquiver with excitement. He’s got some special announcements about the SuperMeet that we’re going to be talking about at the end of the show.

Larry Jordan: We’ll be brack [sic] with…

Mike Horton: Brack?

Larry Jordan: Whatever it is, we’re going to be back with Sébastien Francoeur…

Mike Horton: Speech translation!

Larry Jordan: …with a phone call to Montreal, right after this.

Larry Jordan: Blackmagic Design made two big announcements earlier this week at IBC in Amsterdam. First, the ATEM 1 production studio switcher added new features such as ten independent 6G STI inputs, each with frame sync, a built-in DVE with zoom scale and rotate, four upstream chroma keyers, three independent auxiliary outputs and a larger media pool for still frames and motion video clips.

Larry Jordan: Then Blackmagic released the public beta of DaVinci Resolve 10. This major update includes improved project integration from multiple editing systems, upgraded on-set tools, support for OpenFX plug-ins and the ability to create DCP packages inside Resolve for projects destined for theatrical delivery. And now DaVinci Resolve Lite supports both ultra HD and additional GPUs and it’s still free. Visit blackmagicdesign.com to learn more.

Larry Jordan: Sébastien Francoeur is a Senior CG Artist with Rodeo Visual Effects Company, which is based in Montreal, Canada. Some of his recent work includes Now You See Me and Pacific Rim. Welcome, Sébastien.

Sébastien Francoeur: Hey, hi, how are you?

Larry Jordan: We are doing great, thanks very much for joining us this evening.

Sébastien Francoeur: Yes, same to you.

Larry Jordan: So what got you started in visual effects in the first place?

Sébastien Francoeur: My first place was [Buzz Manager] in Montreal, here.

Larry Jordan: Doing what?

Sébastien Francoeur: I was an all-rounder. I was working basically on commercial for Quebec and sometimes we were doing some huge campaign in Canada and that was basically my work at that time.

Larry Jordan: So some of your recent projects include Now You See Me and Pacific Rim. Tell me about the work you did on Now You See Me. What effects were you working on?

Sébastien Francoeur: On Now You See Me, the challenge for that show was everything was using different assets, so we needed to build some specific assets, a lot of assets on a few shots.

Larry Jordan: Well, for instance, what was an example of an effect that you created? 

Sébastien Francoeur: For something, we created bubbles. We did also some CG cars. We worked on the CG front.

Larry Jordan: Well, you said that the challenge was working with so many different assets. What made that challenging?

Sébastien Francoeur: Basically, in visual effects these days, it’s always a matter of time. We get less and less time. Yes, so we needed to find a way to make it believable and to get the realism we need, but like I said, we don’t have the time to build a solid asset or stuff like that, so we need to be careful in the way we are using our time.

Larry Jordan: Well, it seems to me that being careful in how you use your time is always essential because you could spend an unlimited amount of time on just about any effect, couldn’t you?

Sébastien Francoeur: Yes, yes, exactly, so we needed to find the right target, what we needed for that shot – do we need complex rig, complex animation? Can we do it quite basically? For example, for the bubbles, it was hand-[drawn] animation with basic deformation and some slight simulation on top. Getting to a rig with, yes, getting into a rig to animate those bubbles, we can spend a lot of time and being not … yes.

Mike Horton: How does the process work? Do the producers and the directors come to you and specifically ask for a particular piece of visual effect? Or do they say, “Well, we kind of want this to look like this and you guys figure it out and send it to us and we’ll say if it’s right or not”?

Sébastien Francoeur: It depends always on the type of project, yes? So sometimes, yes, we needed to develop and conceptualize what’s going to happen and sometimes it’s kind of a transparent effect, so it’s not subjective. It’s fully objective, what we need to do, so yes.

Mike Horton: I’m sorry, Larry, because I get excited about this stuff. Judging by your show reel and the movies that you’ve done and that you have on your website and the movies that are coming out that you have done, I mean, obviously you guys are very, very talented, but why do they go to you? Why did they go to your company and not another company to ask for specific tasks for their movie?

Sébastien Francoeur: Well, I think our producers are doing a great job. Our President, the VFX Supervisor, Sébastien Moreau, he has worked in LA, he has his own contacts there and he is able to show us how to deliver this quality also here in Montreal. So he brings [us] the contract and, with his mind and his thinking, we’re getting the results expected.

Mike Horton: Well, your results are really extraordinary, at least what you have on your website.

Sébastien Francoeur: Very well, thank you.

Larry Jordan: One of the effects you created, I think it was you that created this, in Now You See Me, was you took Madison Square Garden, or no, you took a theater in Las Vegas, anyway some big space and you filled it with people, you created a crowd shot and the crowd shot needed to look believable, like there were 8,000 people there. How do you go about the process of creating that effect? Walk me through how you do that.

Sébastien Francoeur: Well, basically at the beginning we weren’t supposed to build some CG crowd like that. We were supposed to receive some plates from the production but the Cable Cam didn’t work, so it was really, really fun. So we were looking at the plates and Rodeo was doing a lot of CG people. It wasn’t our first time, but each time we were working on CG people, it was far, far away but that time, when we see how we needed to cover or fill up the crowd in Now You See Me, we knew that we needed some motion capture, some high quality animation. But, yes, we needed to have some good quality animation so we went through software, iPi Soft, and…

Mike Horton: Say that again, iPi Soft?

Sébastien Francoeur: Yes, iPi software.

Mike Horton: Ok.

Sébastien Francoeur: So we were using that solution; with that software, we can build a small Mocap studio really easily. I think we spent only 2,000 on this set-up, yet we buy four PlayStation cameras and we, yes, we definitely built our own Mocap studios with a really cheap price.

Larry Jordan: So you would motion capture several different actors doing typical crowd movements and then you would take that motion capture information and do what with it?

Sébastien Francoeur: With that motion capture, we just built our skeleton in our software and build the tool, a crowd tool, and we bring that region underground, where we wanted that specific action or something like that, so it was really user friendly. And we were able to spot this guy’s height, his motion, so we just painted the region on the ground when he was doing another action. So yes, and using iPi Soft, it has a huge library – a fast way to get a really great animation.

Mike Horton: Is most of the software that you use off the shelf? Or do you use proprietary software that you develop or techniques that you develop on your own?

Sébastien Francoeur: Sorry, can you repeat?

Mike Horton: The software that you use to create all those wonderful visual effects that you do, is that just pretty much off the shelf that anybody can go and buy and use?

Sébastien Francoeur: Yes, sure, sure. We are using Softimage and Maya, we’re using both, but we’re using also a stand-alone renderer, [Arnold], which gives us a high quality rendering, but there’s also our [custom software], so at the end we need integration. So it’s not always a matter of software. We also need the team to be able to build something like that.

Mike Horton: Yeah. Well, sure.

Larry Jordan: Take a look at the work you did on Pacific Rim, which is another movie you worked on. What did you do there?

Sébastien Francoeur: Me personally, I basically lit some scenes. I was really busy. I was the CG Supervisor on Now You See Me so I was quite busy, but I lit some scenes of the… we call it [spelt]. It was the mechanism inside the head of the robots. So the majority of Rodeo shots was inside the monster, not the monster but the robot. We also did a few mappings things and environment.

Larry Jordan: What steps do you take as an effects creator to make sure that the effects don’t overwhelm the movie itself? How do you try to find the balance so that the effect doesn’t take the audience out of the story?

Sébastien Francoeur: Well, honestly, it’s not really a responsibility for us. This process needs to be done before us. We mostly answer to a demand so that’s pretty much it. It’s something that the director can ask, he has some demands, but yes, we need to follow his instructions.

Larry Jordan: So basically the director says the direction he wants you to head and your job is just to move in that direction?

Sébastien Francoeur: Well, yes. But we need to satisfy him in between but, yes, that’s basically it.

Larry Jordan: Yes, you don’t continually get work the way you get work if you don’t put in your expertise.

Sébastien Francoeur: Oh yes, yes. You’re right, but we are pushing always forward. That’s why we are doing a lot of R&D. We try to be the most cost and time effective and, yes, getting the quality by just looking at some papers, looking at the news, looking at the new technology, what’s available for us, and that’s how we move forward.

Larry Jordan: Visual effects houses all around the world right now are having a difficult time in this industry. How are you guys doing?

Sébastien Francoeur: Us here in Montreal, it’s pretty good. It’s pretty good. We have some government taxes back and, yes, a lot of production is moving here in Montreal, a lot of companies opening their doors. There is MPC right now here in Montreal; there’s also French… and a couple or so other French companies that’s opening a small bureau to work here in Montreal. So that’s cool for now, but let’s see how this will end, because, yes, you never know.

Larry Jordan: Let’s hope everybody continues making a living in this industry.

Sébastien Francoeur: Yes, because I know in LA it’s pretty hard right now.

Mike Horton: It’s hard in Montreal, it’s hard in Vancouver, it’s hard in Toronto. You’re all competing against each other, with the tax subsidies and everything else.

Sébastien Francoeur: Yes, and that’s the point. Maybe in five years, it’s going to be India, I don’t know.

Mike Horton: Yes, well, it’s there too. 

Larry Jordan: Sébastien, Thomas in our live chat asks how much do you get to contribute creatively? Or are you just following the sketches of an art director and implementing their ideas?

Sébastien Francoeur: Honestly, it’s hard to say. Yes, the key word, I think, is communication so you need to understand what you need to do and, yes, so I don’t know honestly how to say, yes, there’s a creative process but I have a lot of difficulty putting it in words.

Larry Jordan: Ah, I understand. What website can people go to learn more about your company?

Sébastien Francoeur: Well, they can go on www.rodeofx.com.

Larry Jordan: That’s all one word. Rodeofx.com and Sébastien Francoeur is the Senior CG Artist with Rodeo Visual Effects Company. Sébastien, thanks for joining us today.

Sébastien Francoeur: Thanks to you.

Mike Horton: Thank you very much.

Larry Jordan: Take care. Bye bye.

Sébastien Francoeur: Bye.

Larry Jordan: Jessica Sitomer is a job coach and helps people find work. She’s also a regular on The Buzz and she’s the President of The Greenlight Coach. But what we like best about Jessica is that she’s really good at providing really helpful job hunting advice. Hello Jessica.

Mike Horton: Hi Jessica.

Jessica Sitomer: Hello guys.

Larry Jordan: We are delighted to hear your cheerful voice at the other end of our headsets.

Mike Horton: Yes we are. I’m always delighted to hear Jessica, because I learn so much from her.

Larry Jordan: Well, that’s true. That’s because she’s very smart.

Mike Horton: Yes, she is. Much smarter than you.

Jessica Sitomer: What have I stepped into?

Larry Jordan: Jessica, we’ve been featuring Westdoc over the last few shows, which made me think about the art of pitching a show. How would you describe a pitch meeting?

Jessica Sitomer: Well, being that I do come from the world of development and I’ve worked for many producers and sat in on many pitch sessions, I would say it is your one chance to shine. Your pitch meeting is the opportunity to get people interested in your project and open up more doors for you until you are at the point where you are pitching to the decision maker and then it’s either a yes or a no or a maybe for something else, and that’s the thing that people forget about pitch meetings. You’re not just pitching this one project. You are pitching yourself so that, if you’re not right for this project, that maybe they’ll think of you to write for another project or bring you in for something else. That happens a lot.

Larry Jordan: Well, what’s being pitched at a pitch meeting? What’s the content?

Jessica Sitomer: Well, you were talking about the art of pitching a show, so if you are pitching a show, then you are literally pitching your storylines, you’re pitching your characters, you know, you put a bible together so that you know what’s happening when they start asking you questions. What networks it’s going to be right for? How many years ahead can you see this show going? And they want to know what kind of arcs you have for each season. So, you know, you really have to think about everything, it’s not just, “Well, I have a great idea for a show and here’s what it is.” There needs to be a lot more thought processes that goes into it.

Jessica Sitomer: Find out, like, from a studio exec or something, you know, when I was first starting to pitch my shows, I got basically an outline for what they talk about in pitch meetings and I would fill it all out and it would be like my mini bible and I’d go in with that, but I would already know, everything else fleshed out and I had a much larger version of that bible for my show.

Larry Jordan: Well, what suggestions do you have specifically to get ready for a pitch meeting? And I think both on a personal level and on the presentation level.

Jessica Sitomer: Well, you want to do your prep work, like I talked about, so that you really are clear on the show that you are pitching or, you know, a film or whatever it is, you are very, very clear. You’ve done your prep work, you understand your characters, you understand your stories, you understand where it’s going. Do your research on who you’re pitching to. One of the biggest mistakes that would happen when I was working for Debra Hill, who had done Halloween, was everyone kept pitching her horror and she hadn’t done horror in years. So make sure that you know about the people who you’re meeting with, the projects that they’ve done, where their company is going in the future so, you know, if you have an agent that’s submitting you don’t know that, but if you don’t and, depending on how you’re getting this pitch meeting, you do want to find out what types of things are already on their list. Like what they’re doing.

Jessica Sitomer: Be crystal clear on your pitch, because if you’re not, they won’t be; and then, like you were saying, what can you do for yourself? I would say practice it on friends, or even a few friends, like, have a couple of people sit around because sometimes there’s three or four people in a pitch meeting and you walk in and you’re expecting to meet one person and you’re like, “Whoa,” so you want to be prepared for all types of situations. So practice it beforehand because sometimes what it sounds like in your head is not the same thing when the words are coming out of your mouth.

Mike Horton: When you talk about clear, though, are you talking about limited to a certain amount of minutes, so you can be clear, otherwise you’re rambling if you go on for more than five minutes? Is there a limit to the amount of minutes you want to make it clear?

Jessica Sitomer: Well, I wouldn’t necessarily, I mean your log line is very brief and that has to be clear. And I even find that challenging sometimes with my romantic comedies, because there’s so much in them that’s so interesting and exciting and I want to bring it all in when it really just needs that one line at first to be really clear. And that has been an obstacle in my past that I’ve always worked on with people beforehand. I’ve always had people coach me on, you know – even though it’s easy for me to do it for other people since I’ve worked in development, when it’s your own, it’s a little closer to home and sometimes you don’t sound as clear when you’re explaining it because you go on tangents because, “Oh, and then this happens. Oh, but wait, I didn’t tell you about this.”

Jessica Sitomer: So you want to make sure you practice your pitch so that it’s very, very clear. And that, if they ask you a question, that you don’t stay stuck to it, you can go and answer their questions. Listen to what’s being asked of you and answer those questions.

Larry Jordan: What if you don’t have a track record and this is your first pitch meeting?

Jessica Sitomer: Ok, that’s a great question because so many people I deal with have that issue and it becomes a huge block for them and they can’t get past it. And my recommendation is always find somebody else who hasn’t had a track record and compare yourself to them. Like, back in ’97, before people were producing TV independently, I had a full union crew produce a pilot for me and I had a Fox exec tell me it couldn’t be done, but what my producing partner and I would say is that we were the Ben and Matt of TV, because Good Will Hunting had just come out and Swingers had just come out and all of a sudden it’s like these actors who went on to produce movies, well, now we were going to be the actors who went on to do TV and that got people interested, that got people wanting to hear from us.

Jessica Sitomer: So compare yourself to successful people who started out with no track record and then took off from there.

Larry Jordan: Well, how do you appear confident when you’re quaking in your boots? How do you avoid making a fool of yourself? Because this is a one time only event.

Jessica Sitomer: Right, well, as we talked about, you want to practice and you want to be really passionate about what it is you’re pitching. So what happens is, when you’re quaking in your boots, you’re focused on your boots. So what I want you to do is I want you to focus on your pitch and any time your mind starts going, “Oh gosh, am I babbling? Am I talking?” boom, Jessica says get back on my pitch and get back to your pitch.

Jessica Sitomer: Because if you feel your leg shaking and you start focusing on that leg shaking, that’s what’s going to throw you, so always have something that you can anchor back to. And it might be something like, you know, you imagine the audience or a group of people watching your TV show and you keep that picture in your mind so any time you go off track, you can grab that picture and that reminds you, “That’s why I’m doing this. I’m doing this for them. I have a bigger purpose and that’s why I’m doing it,” and that gets you right back, so it’s like an anchor, it’s a visual anchor for you to go to.

Jessica Sitomer: Or, you know, pinch yourself or something and that reminds you to go, and that’s a physical anchor that reminds you to go back to your pitch. It all comes down to that, because when you are going back and forth with somebody and talking and when you’re, you know, engulfed in that pitch and talking, you’re not going to be concentrating on your boots shaking.

Larry Jordan: Quickly, is there a way that’s a better way to end a pitch meeting than another?

Jessica Sitomer: Make sure you’re confirming your follow up and any follow up materials that need to be sent, you know, so “When will you be making your decision?” if you haven’t talked about that, because this way you’re not sitting around wondering what you should do next, and it’s very professional to do that.

Larry Jordan: So, given all of these points, there’s got to be some place on the web, Jessica, that we can get more tips and pointers. What website would you recommend?

Jessica Sitomer: I would recommend thegreenlightcoach.com.

Mike Horton: Mmm, me too.

Larry Jordan: I would just be surprised if you didn’t. That’s all one word – thegreenlightcoach.com. Jessica Sitomer’s the President of The Greenlight Coach. Jessica, as always, it’s a delight. Take care.

Jessica Sitomer: Thank you. Bye bye.

Mike Horton: Thanks Jessica.

Larry Jordan: Bye bye.

Larry Jordan: Jeremy Pollard is a Product Manager of Australia-based Cospective. From Montreal, we whip down to Florida and then we move over to Australia. It’s an award-winning company behind Frankie 2.0. This is browser based software that allows content creators in multiple locations to interactively review, annotate and discuss video. Welcome, Jeremy.

Jeremy Pollard: Thanks, Larry. Thanks for having me on the show.

Larry Jordan: It is our pleasure, we’re delighted to have you with us, and start by giving us a description of who Cospective is.

Jeremy Pollard: So Cospective is a company that was founded around 1999 as a spin-off from a visual effects company here in Australia called Rising Sun Pictures. So we were born under the moniker Rising Sun Research and a couple of years ago changed to the name Cospective, just to position ourselves as being a little bit separate and also the fact that we’re moving to markets that are outside of just feature film visual effects.

Larry Jordan: So what products are you responsible for with the company?

Jeremy Pollard: So now I’m responsible for the Frankie product line. Over the years, we’ve had a couple of different products; we were actually born with a product called cineSpace, which was a color management suite which was widely used throughout the industry and that was eventually acquired by THX; and then along the way we developed a product called cineSync. That came out around 2005 and that’s also very widely adopted throughout the feature film industry to the point where it was actually awarded a Technology Achievement Award at the Academy Awards in 2011.

Larry Jordan: Wow.

Jeremy Pollard: And then we introduced Frankie. That officially came out in October last year, but was in development for about a year and a half prior to that.

Larry Jordan: So tell me what Frankie is.

Jeremy Pollard: So Frankie is basically a browser based video review tool. It’s used to collaborate with your colleagues or your clients, wherever they are, whether they’re across town or on a different continent; and the essence of it is it allows you to have an experience like you’re sitting side by side with somebody in the same room, pointing at the screen, hitting play, discussing the media and having that experience of collaborating on the video without feeling like there’s distance between you.

Mike Horton: I’m familiar with cineSync, but not familiar with what we’re talking about. What’s the difference between cineSync and this?

Jeremy Pollard: Sure. So probably the main difference is cineSync is around application software, so you need to install something and each party then needs to get a copy of the media and then cineSync will take care of the synchronization. It’ll also handle all the drawing and notes and so on.

Jeremy Pollard: The difference with Frankie is we wanted to build something that didn’t need anything to be installed: no software, no plug-ins, no configuration, just nothing to worry about. So all your guest needs to do now is just click a link that you send them to invite them to the review and they’re straight away loaded into the Frankie session. It loads up in their browser; they haven’t even had to think about what they’re doing. It’s just like watching a video on YouTube.

Mike Horton: But like cineSync, we’re watching it all at the same time, we can review at the same time, it’s all synced, right?

Jeremy Pollard: That’s exactly right. So it’s frame accurate. I can play the video, you can watch it and I can pause it on, say, frame 81 – you’re going to see exactly the same one – and then if I want to point out a particular detail, I can do that using the drawing tool and you’re going to see that right away. So it eliminates any chance of ambiguity.

Mike Horton: Oh, that’s sweet.

Larry Jordan: Well, I can think of several other video review applications. Why did you decide it was necessary to create Frankie? What’s the unique solution you provide?

Jeremy Pollard: A lot of it revolves around the synchronization capability. cineSync has been so popular and we had demand in the form media production world for a tool like cineSync, but something that ran in the browser. So that’s one side of it; and a synchronization, obviously we have a long history in that domain, so we have the experience in making it work first time every time, it’s very reliable.

Jeremy Pollard: The other side of it is that we really wanted to focus on the user experience. We’ve seen a lot of tools around there and they kind of do video review, but it can be overly complicated and in the short form world, where a lot of our clients are using it to create television and commercial, we’re talking about creative professional who place a really high importance on the look and feel of something. They’re also very busy individuals, they don’t have time to learn a new tool and fuss about with technology they don’t quite understand, so we wanted to make it as simple as possible for somebody to get in. And then give them a really good experience when they’re there. We wanted to make it something beautiful that they enjoy using and have fun collaborating with.

Larry Jordan: Jeremy, take a minute and describe a typical use of how this would be used in a real life scenario.

Jeremy Pollard: I can give you a really interesting story. One of our customers in Sydney, Mirage VFX, they do high end visual effect work, both locally in Australia, but also regionally and they work with a lot of Indonesian companies. So they were asked to create an animated battery commercial for a company in Indonesia, with the production and the post production being handled out of Malaysia and Indonesia, and they also wanted to subcontract parts of that work to an animation facility in Barcelona, of all places.

Jeremy Pollard: So suddenly you have multiple continents, multiple time zones, multiple languages involved, not to mention high end character animation of a fully animated creature or character made up of batteries. So it’s the sort of thing, it’s really hard to describe in email or over the phone, particularly when there are potential language barriers involved.

Jeremy Pollard: So Mirage chose Frankie as a way to collaborate on that project so they could then create a pre-visualization, discuss that using Frankie, work through the details and then, when they’re actually doing the bulk of the work, collaborate regularly with the animation house in Barcelona to make sure that they’re directly on track. And it worked really, really well, to the point where they said afterwards that they wished they’d even jumped on using Frankie much earlier in the piece, even before creating the pre-visualization.

Larry Jordan: Recently, you guys updated Frankie. What are some of the new features?

Jeremy Pollard: So the biggest change here is to give our users more flexibility. As I’ve kind of touched on throughout this, Frankie’s been more about the real time conversation, because we recognize that, if possible, it really is the most effective way to gather feedback, to discuss work, when you’re on the phone to somebody and actually looking at it at the same time.

Jeremy Pollard: But because of different time zones and because of different people’s schedules, it’s not always possible to do that real time, so we wanted to offer the option of doing that when the host of the review is not online. So now you can send out an invite link to your guests, they can jump in any time they like – you might be sleeping – and they can leave their feedback and notes just as they would in a normal real time session. You can wake up the next morning, open it up, see all their feedback.

Jeremy Pollard: And you can also switch between those two modes of working, so if you want to get a bit of feedback from somebody, they can spend an hour doing that. You can then jump on the phone, have a look at their notes, call them back into the review and then start a synchronized discussion, so you can work through anything that wasn’t quite clear.

Jeremy Pollard: So that makes it very easy now to work with people in different time zones and you can almost use it to your advantage by having a review at the end of your day, leaving them to do the work overnight, coming in in the morning and magically you have new reviews.

Larry Jordan: Now, one of the things I remember reading on your website is that Frankie gathers up all the notes and delivers it as a .pdf, including screenshots, so you’re able to have a written document that you can print, should you need to, documenting what the conversations were about.

Jeremy Pollard: Exactly. It’s actually one of the most popular features and I’ve seen countless faces agog when I mention that they get this .pdf. They have a look at it and say, “Hang on, I waste half an hour to an hour every single day producing these kinds of summaries after meetings like this and you’re producing something automatically that looks even more professional.”

Jeremy Pollard: So everything is always saved and you get a summary that can then be distributed to team members or kept as an internal work document and, being a .pdf, it becomes a record of that conversation, so if you need to go back and have a look at what was concluded and what the client did approve, then you’ve always got that and you’re not going to be stuck trying to scrabble through email notes or phone notes to find out what the client decided they actually wanted.

Larry Jordan: Where is the video stored? And how do you assure security?

Jeremy Pollard: So we use a cloud server and the security is based on the host’s log-in, so the host has control over this review. We chose to use a simple link to introduce clients into the review, to make it as simple as possible, and as soon as that review is finished and the host doesn’t want anybody to have access, then they can simply turn it into a private review and no longer can anybody access that media using the link.

Larry Jordan: And what does Frankie cost and what are we buying when we purchase the software?

Jeremy Pollard: So Frankie is sold on a subscription basis. We wanted to structure the pricing of it to recognize that, in this industry, a lot of it is project based, so you can sign up for a month and you don’t have to pay any longer if there’s no work coming in after that. You can turn the subscription on and off at any time. It’s very, very easy to do through the Frankie interface.

Jeremy Pollard: The pricing is $249 a month and that gives you unlimited reviews each month. You can even share it across multiple projects and producers within your company, so you can actually get a lot of work through one single Frankie account.

Larry Jordan: Now, the $249 a month supports up to five concurrent projects. What’s the difference between a project and a video?

Jeremy Pollard: So a project is like a folder, if you like. You might allocate that folder to a particular client or a particular producer within your company and they can use that to store each of the videos and the reviews associated with that job. Now, a review can consist of multiple movies, so you might have lots of different media files, but a review may contain dozens of those. We do have clients that will drop in 20 or more at a time and just go through those each day, and they all exist within that one folder.

Jeremy Pollard: If you go to another project, you’re not going to see all of those media files, so it gives you a way of keeping it really, really organized.

Larry Jordan: What happens…

Jeremy Pollard: And when you’re finished with a… I’m sorry, Larry, yes.

Larry Jordan: Go ahead. No, go ahead.

Jeremy Pollard: When you’re finished with a project, because it’s a review environment and you’re not really storing original files on there, you do have the option of being able to just delete that content and utilize that project for the next job that comes through, so you’re talking about five concurrent projects, not necessarily a hard limit on how many jobs you can ever store.

Larry Jordan: What happens to the media when we stop paying the fee?

Jeremy Pollard: So that’s stored on our servers for a period of time afterwards. We handle that a little bit informally right now, because it’s a professional industry, what we want to make sure is that all of that is available for a period of time afterwards. So if a client comes back on later down the track, that’s still going to be available for a while.

Jeremy Pollard: We will be introducing at some point a more formal option that will enable you to keep your account active, well, not necessarily active, I should say: it will be on the server but in an inactive state until you need to recover that.

Larry Jordan: Can more than…

Jeremy Pollard: But in terms of the…

Larry Jordan: Go ahead.

Jeremy Pollard: Well, the videos that sit within a project, that’s up to the user to manage, so we don’t want to delete things that people want to keep available for later reviews.

Larry Jordan: So basically it’ll hang around until you and the client figure out what to do with it.

Jeremy Pollard: Yes, yes, we’re handling it informally at that stage. At the moment, we’re erring on the side of being conservative, basically. We do have a lot of long term clients who will use it for a couple of months at a time, then pause for a month or so and then come back on board.

Larry Jordan: And, Jeremy, where can people go on the web to learn more about Frankie?

Jeremy Pollard: They should visit frankiereview.com.

Larry Jordan: That’s all one: frankiereview.com. And Jeremy Pollard is the Product Manager at Cospective, responsible for Frankie and, Jeremy, thanks for joining us today.

Jeremy Pollard: It’s a pleasure, Larry. Thanks for having me on the show.

Mike Horton: Thanks a lot, Jeremy.

Larry Jordan: Bye bye.

Larry Jordan: Time for another Australian accent. Philip Hodgetts is the CEO of Intelligent Assistance and involved in the technology of virtually every area of digital video. He’s a regular contributor to The Buzz and he’s suffering from jetlag because his jet just landed from IBC, Amsterdam. Philip, thanks for joining us today.

Philip Hodgetts: It’s my pleasure. I … show tonight.

Mike Horton: Oh, your phone is…

Philip Hodgetts: The accents.

Mike Horton: …suffering from jetlag too, I think.

Larry Jordan: So Philip, what were the highlights of IBC for you?

Philip Hodgetts: Oh, Amsterdam for sure, but that’s actually got nothing to do with IBC, has it? It just happens to be there. The most beautiful city…

Larry Jordan: Michael keeps bragging about Amsterdam. One of these days, I’m going to have to actually wander the streets in the daytime because…

Mike Horton: Yes you should, Larry.

Larry Jordan: Anyway, go ahead.

Philip Hodgetts: Yes, well, of course there was the inevitable push towards 4K and I’ve been trying to ignore that, but what I did really like was the Alexa Amira, if I’m saying that correctly, which is a new ENG focus camera but the thing I love about it most is that it’s built on the same infrastructure that the Arri Alexa already is, which means that, sorry, it’s Arri Amira, not Alexa. I’m getting confused there. I’ll blame the jetlag.

Philip Hodgetts: But it’s the same workflow. We don’t have to reinvent the workflow again because this camera has a proven workflow from its brother, the Alexa.

Larry Jordan: So you mentioned that IBC was pitching the idea of 4K. Are you sensing that it’s more marketing hype than real?

Philip Hodgetts: Yes, absolutely. I mean, I think the most telling statistic was that even Panasonic, who are one of the proponents of 4K and definitely had a push towards that at the show, are showing that consumer penetration is going to be something in the vicinity of 3.5 percent by 2017. Now, production wise, maybe there is…

Mike Horton: Wait, wait, 2017? Really?

Philip Hodgetts: Yes.

Mike Horton: Wow.

Larry Jordan: But 4K is not necessarily for consumers. It is used in production all the time.

Mike Horton: Well, Sony just came out with that camera with its 4K, that consumer camera. It was at IBC. I didn’t see it. Did you see it, Philip?

Philip Hodgetts: No, no. Sony had their own space and I tried to keep clear of it. I always get lost on the Sony booth. I can never find the things that are…

Mike Horton: I know, it’s as big as a small city.

Philip Hodgetts: It is, it is. Their investment in these trade shows must be incredible.

Larry Jordan: You know, one of the things that is a saying in our industry is that products are announced at NAB in the spring and shipped at IBC in the fall. Was there anything new that was announced at IBC besides the Arri camera that we should pay attention to?

Mike Horton: Announced? Oh.

Philip Hodgetts: Yes, if there is, it slipped by me. No, I had a great time at the Maxon press conference. They were showing the major features of release 15 and I do sometimes wish that I had more time to become a 3D guru, but I loved the press conference because I won a little iPad Mini from them.

Mike Horton: Oh, and also Isotope announced the RX3, which is the…

Philip Hodgetts: Oh yes, yes.

Mike Horton: …yes, which is the version above RX2 and, honest to God, if you actually see this, we showed it at the SuperMeet, it fixes all of your bad audio problems. It’s amazing.

Philip Hodgetts: You see, the problem I fear is that we’re just enabling. You see, with 4K we’re enabling… can’t be bothered to frame properly in the first place, they just want to reframe their HD in post and we’re enabling people to have bad audio. I wonder if the technology’s simply enabling bad behaviors.

Mike Horton: Yes, there’s probably a new composition plug-in coming from Panavision or something. It’s just a…

Larry Jordan: Yes, but if you’ve got…

Philip Hodgetts: Well, I mean, imagine 4K with a Lytro camera and now we don’t have to frame or focus until getting to post production.

Mike Horton: Or focus, yes, composition, focus, all that stuff will be handled.

Larry Jordan: All right, all right, all right.

Mike Horton: With software. It’ll be awesome.

Larry Jordan: We are not going to go down that path. We’ll be grumbling the entire evening. Philip, I don’t know how to ask this question, so I’m just going to plunge boldly forward. One of the highlights of the SuperMeet on Sunday night was the demo of two of your latest products, which is Change List X and the Producer’s Best Friend. Now, granted, I was the one doing the demo, but nonetheless these are really neat products. Could you tell us about them?

Philip Hodgetts: Yes, thank you very much for those demos, by the way, they were very well handled. I felt you did us proud, as we would say in Australia.

Larry Jordan: Thank you. High praise.

Philip Hodgetts: Change List X is a very specialized tool, it’s used mostly in the high end, as you pointed out. People who have a film that gets to final or a TV show in some cases that get to final, of course, the directors can’t be stopped from fiddling with their finals so we get a final final. But in the meantime final went off to the audio guys and the visual effects guys and they started work and they really don’t appreciate getting a new cut where they’d have to start work over again. Trust me. They do not appreciate that.

Mike Horton No.

Philip Hodgetts: So the tradition in the industry and, of course, Cinema Tools did this for us in the old days of Final Cut Studio, is to generate a change list, which is really a set of instructions of how you convert the old edit into the new edit, you know, trim so much here, add a new shot here, take this shot out, and Change List X does that for projects or compound clips for Final Cut Pro X users.

Larry Jordan: Ok, and how about Producer’s Best Friend?

Philip Hodgetts: Well, if you have ever been the producer or worked for a producer who has to generate all sorts of reports at the end of or during production, such as you’ve got a final lock or a final issue lock on pictures, and so now all the stock footage that you have put into the show needs to be going out and bought in full resolution, so you need a stock footage report. Or you need a music report to file your music return; or you need to report to Disney or one of those companies and they want a listing of every clip that you’ve got.

Philip Hodgetts: Now, this would be painful copying and pasting and copying and pasting because, you know, unless you want to spend a $100 on EDLX, you’ve got not even an .edl to start with, which at least you could in the old days. So we automated that process, so instead of it taking days, it takes mere minutes to generate any possible report – clips, transitions, markers, notes.

Larry Jordan: But… how does Producer’s Best Friend know that something is a stock clip or know the source of a piece of music?

Philip Hodgetts: Well, that’s the magic of Final Cut Pro X’s rolls and sub-rolls, so that you can tag each stock, you can tag, for example, a roll of stock footage but then you can sub-roll each of the stock houses so you can generate a report for each stock house. And likewise for music. And you can use rolls in any way that you like and you can get a roll by roll report.

Larry Jordan: So you identify the clip as you’re editing it by assigning a roll to it and, because the roll travels with the clip as you move its location or change its duration, the roll still applies. And then how do we get it out of Final Cut into Producer’s Best Friend?

Philip Hodgetts: Simply export a Final Cut Pro X .xml of either a project, a compound clip or even an event, because one of the things that Producer’s Best Friend does is it reports on all the clips in your event, something that Final Cut Pro X by itself will not do. It doesn’t even have a batch list function like Final Cut Pro VII does, so we added that into Producer’s Best Friend, so simply export the .xml and then open that .xml into Producer’s Best Friend and run your report, which is an excel spreadsheet, which is completely compatible with Numbers, by the way.

Larry Jordan: One of the other products you released a little bit ago but I want you to mention is Sync-N-Link. What’s that?

Philip Hodgetts: Sync-N-Link is again one of those, if you need it you know, but if you don’t need it you don’t worry about it, you know, and you’re not missing anything important. For those people who work with jam synced timecoding, in other words they have timecode generators on the set and they feed that into each of the cameras and each of the audio recorders – and this is very common in film and high end TV production – what Sync-N-Link will do will use those matching timecodes to synchronize the double system, synchronize your high quality audio recording with your video and edit back, so you can do that in one batch instead of having four interns working overnight doing it manually one clip at a time.

Larry Jordan: So basically you would put all of your audio and video elements into an event, export that as an .xml and then Sync-N-Link processes them all automatically?

Philip Hodgetts: Exactly. See, that’s why you did the demo at the SuperMeet and I didn’t.

Larry Jordan: Philip, for people who want more information about your products, where can they go to learn more?

Philip Hodgetts: Just head on over to intelligentassistance.com.

Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, intelligentassistance.com. Philip Hodgetts is the President of Intelligent Assistance. Get yourself some rest and thanks so much for joining us today.

Philip Hodgetts: Thank you.

Larry Jordan: Bye bye.

Mike Horton: Thanks.

Larry Jordan: So, Michael, what is this SuperMeet thing we’ve been hearing about today?

Mike Horton: Ah! That thing that I’ve been hyping for the last three months or something like that? Anyway, we just finished up just, what, last Sunday. We had this wonderful event. For those of you who do not know what SuperMeets are, they are these events that myself and Dan Berube, we produce around the world and this last one was in Amsterdam as part of IBC and Larry Jordan was the keynote speaker.

Larry Jordan: It was great fun. It was great fun.

Mike Horton: And because, you know, one of the reasons we had you is because we launched Final Cut Pro X in June of, what, 2011…

Larry Jordan: London. SuperMeet London.

Mike Horton: …at London and you were there to launch it and since that time, we had not spoken of it at a SuperMeet. I think, well, Michael Wall did at Amsterdam, talked a little bit about it, but we haven’t talked about it for two years. So we brought you back on to give us a closer look and it was all about, is Final Cut Pro X ready for professional use?

Larry Jordan: And one of the things – I thought a lot about this – because one of the things I do really well is I love doing demos of software and I wanted to, and we did in fact, do a demo. We demo’d seven different utilities, some from Philip and some from XMIL…

Mike Horton: The more professional users.

Larry Jordan: The high end, the stuff that the guys that are…

Mike Horton: That the big boys use.

Larry Jordan: That’s right, and a lot of people don’t even know those tools exist, but I realized in thinking about the speech that there’s a lot more than just doing a cool demo in the process of upgrading. That there’s a huge amount of fear right now because when you make a decision on what editing software to use, it’s a bet the ranch decision. It’s a ‘my company is going to make its living on whatever I decide’ and there’s a lot of scared people out there.

Mike Horton: And I think if people actually watch your speech and listen to it closely, which they probably will because it keeps you engaged throughout the entire speech, they’re going to not only learn a lot, they’re going to learn a lot.

Larry Jordan: I was wondering where you were going to go with that sentence. But Michael, how are they going to be able to see the videos?

Mike Horton: Yes, well, this was the big announcement. Tomorrow at fcp.co – let me repeat that again, fcp.co – we are going to put the official Larry Jordan keynote speech of the Amsterdam SuperMeet on that page. So go to fcp.co and you will wake up tomorrow morning and you will see it and this is the official, this is with the close-ups of Larry, this is with all the winkles in his skin, this is with all the smiles in his face…

Larry Jordan: Michael. Michael.

Mike Horton: …this is with all the modulations in his voice. This is Larry Jordan…

Larry Jordan: Michael.

Mike Horton: …at his best.

Larry Jordan: Michael, you can stop now.

Mike Horton: This is the official.

Larry Jordan: I really enjoyed the talk. I spent a lot of time thinking about it.

Mike Horton: I know, and you put a lot of work into this and I really appreciate it, but so did the audience. The audience was about 450 people there, standing room only, and they hung on every word and I think they appreciated every word you said. I know I did.

Larry Jordan: And for those of you that can’t wait until tomorrow to see the video, I wrote a blog that…

Mike Horton: Oh, you did?

Larry Jordan: I wrote a blog specifically about SuperMeet that summarizes the whole, I call it seeking perfection, where the perfect is the enemy of the good and how we keep getting in our own way, trying to figure out where we’re going to go next.

Mike Horton: How do you write a blog, having jetlag?

Larry Jordan: And it’s larryjordan.biz/blog and it’s the very first one there – larryjordan.biz/blog – and it goes through all the elements of trying to make a decision of there is no doubt Final Cut VII is dead, and there’s also no doubt at some point in the relatively near future, and I’m not saying next week, but some point in the very near future, Final Cut VII is going to stop working on current hardware and current operating systems.

Mike Horton: Yes.

Larry Jordan: At that point, you are going to be forced to make a decision on where do you go next.

Mike Horton: My son – here’s a good story – my son is going to Santa Monica City College, he’s taking an editing class as part of his game development class. He’s forced to use Final Cut VII. Where can he get it? I had to call up an old friend, said, “Are you still using it? Can I get the serial number? Can I get the disks?”

Larry Jordan: Yes. I mean, for people that have it installed, you’ve got time yet and, as long as you don’t upgrade your hardware and don’t upgrade your operating system, you’ve got time. But at some point it’s not going to work. We know that time is coming. Where are you going to go next? And that’s what my blog is about and that’s what the speech is about.

Mike Horton: I’ll be darned. Why am I not on your mailing list or something? Have I been taken off your mailing list?

Larry Jordan: No, Michael, you are the number one person on my mailing list.

Mike Horton: Well, I didn’t get this blog thing.

Larry Jordan: Well, it’s a wonderful blog. You’ll like it.

Mike Horton: Holy cow, that’s a lot of words there, Larry.

Larry Jordan: They’re all spelled correctly and are relatively small because I wrote it with you in mind.

Mike Horton: This is really tiny print. Next time, try Verdana.

Larry Jordan: I will make it larger for you. I’ll use the Mike size font.

Mike Horton: Anyway, again, for those of you who are listening, fcp.co. It’ll be on board tomorrow and it is really worth listening and watching.

Larry Jordan: Do check out the blog too, because you get a chance to issue comments back and I’d love to get your feedback on what you think about the thoughts that I’m…

Mike Horton: Oh my God, you actually read the comments? Oh, don’t ever do that. That’s…

Larry Jordan: Oh, not only do I read them, I answer them.

Mike Horton: Oh my God. I never read my comments.

Larry Jordan: Michael, this is the only way that…

Mike Horton: ‘Horton, your stomach’s too fat’ and…

Larry Jordan: I want to thank…

Mike Horton: Makes me feel awful.

Larry Jordan: No, no, you look wonderful, dashing and debonair, getting people to jump on their hands on the stage.

Mike Horton: Never read comments. Turn comments off.

Larry Jordan: Oh no, comments make it all worthwhile. I want to thank our guests this week – Sébastien Francoeur, the Senior CG Artist with Rodeo Visual Effects Company based up in Montreal, Canada; Jessica Sitomer, the President of The Greenlight Coach; Jeremy Pollard, the Product Manager for Australia-based Cospective; and Philip Hodgetts himself, the President of Intelligent Assistance.

Larry Jordan: There’s a lot happening at The Buzz between shows. Visit digitalproductionbuzz.com, click the ‘Latest News’ – we update this several times a day with all the latest in product news from our industry. Talk with us on Twitter at dpbuzz and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com. By the way, Michael, our Twitter audience on The Buzz – almost doubled in the two weeks leading up to the SuperMeet. We were blown away by the amount of traffic we were getting.

Mike Horton: Why’s that? Anything I’ve done?

Larry Jordan: I think you did it.

Mike Horton: Does that mean I get paid for this now?

Larry Jordan: Twitter is dpbuzz – you’re not going to make a dime…

Mike Horton: Check in the mail?

Larry Jordan: Make a point to join the chat, because we’d love to hear from you. Music on The Buzz is provided by Smart Sound. The Buzz is streamed by wehostmacs.com.

Mike Horton: Checking my email now for a check.

Larry Jordan: We are not even going to start talking about money here, Michael, because…

Mike Horton: PayPal. I take PayPal.

Larry Jordan: …you have no place to stand.

Mike Horton: I do take PayPal.

Larry Jordan: Email us at info@digitalproductionbuzz.com. You could pay me, you know. Our producer is Cirina Catania. On behalf of Mike Horton, my name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to The Digital Production Buzz.

Mike Horton: Bye everybody.

Voiceover: This Digital Production Buzz was brought to you by Blackmagic Design, creators of the world’s highest quality solutions for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries.

Tandberg Data Announces Industry’s First LTO-6 Half Height External Tape Drive with Fibre Channel Connectivity

Tandberg Data, a global leader in data storage and data protection solutions, has announced the availability of the industry’s first LTO-6 Half Height (HH) Fibre Channel (FC) external desktop tape drive, capable of backing up 6.25TB* of data on a single cartridge. The new LTO-6 HH FC tape drive is particularly well suited for media, entertainment, broadcasting and imaging applications because it provides a highly cost-effective means of storing large video files, managing workflow within the production environment and simplifying archiving tasks.

For Mac users, the LTO-6 HH FC tape drive delivers fast, portable backup and archiving when used with a Fibre Channel-to-Thunderbolt bridge solution. The LTFS (Linear Tape File System) feature permits users to quickly access and share large files of digital assets. With the LTO-6 HH FC tape drive, for example, an hour of HD video (500GB) can be transferred in less than 50 minutes.

Quick Look: Tandberg Data LTO-6 HH FC External Tape Drive Features

  • Capacity: 2.5TB/ 6.25TB (native/compressed)
  • Performance up to 1.4TB/Hr (compressed)
  • Low media costs – less than $.02/GB per cartridge
  • 30-year archive life
  • Future proof with eight-generation roadmap
  • LTFS (Linear Tape File System) support for Mac, Linux & Windows
  • AES 256-bit hardware encryption
  • Backward write compatible one generation/read compatible two generations
  • Three year Advanced Replacement Service warranty

Availability

The LTO-6 HH FC external tape drive is available now through Tandberg Data’s established channel of global distributors and resellers.

Click for more information about Tandberg Data’s LTO-6 HH FC external tape drive.

Zacuto Introduces The Tripod Adapter Plate

Zacuto is thrilled to announce the release of the much anticipated Tripod Adapter Plate for our new QR Shoulder Pad and Dovetail. We know lots of you have been eyeing our quick release, universal (attaches under any baseplate or camera) QR Shoulder Pad these past few months but have held back because of tripod compatibility issues. Worry no more! With the Tripod Adapter Plate, you can keep your Zacuto QR Shoulder Pad with Dovetail under your baseplate and quickly move back and forth to your tripod, monopod, slider etc.. Having several Tripod Adapter Plates on your various support equipment can make moving from handheld to tripod to dolly to slider a breeze. Use this Tripod Adapter Plate in tandem with the Zacuto QR Dovetail (not included). The Zacuto QR Dovetail can be purchased individually or as an included accessory with the Zacuto QR Shoulder Pad.

The Zacuto Tripod Adapter Plate has a large platform for video camera rigs with baseplates and accessories. This large platform can support a fully built up camera rig, unlike some smaller platform products on the market designed more for lighter photographic use.

Once the dovetail is securely in place under your camera or baseplate it will snap right into the Tripod Adapter Plate and quickly lock into place. Release by pushing the red button on the side while pulling the longer red lever at the rear of the plate. The underside of our Tripod Adapter Plate has three ¼ 20 screw holes, two 3/8 16 screw holes and a locator pin port to accommodate the wide variety of tripods, monopods, sliders, dollies etc..

The Zacuto Tripod Adapter Plate is only compatible with Zacuto’s QR-Dovetail; although, the Zacuto QR Dovetail will work with your existing Kessler and Really Right Stuff tripod adapter base.

If your tripod does not have back and forth balance adjustment, consider adding our TAP Slide to achieve perfect balance with your Zacuto Tripod Adapter Plate.

The TAP Slide is for exclusive use with the Zacuto Tripod Adapter plate. If your tripod head does not have forwards and backwards balance adjustment, it may be difficult to find correct balance with the Tripod Adapter Plate and particularly front or back heavy kits. Add the TAP Slide to have additional back and forth adjustment between the TAP Slide and Tripod Adapter Plate.

Slide your Zacuto Tripod Adapter Plate into the TAP Slide. Line up the Allen screw holes that can be found on both plates and screw the included 10/32 Allen into place. This will act as a stopper so the Adapter Plate cannot slip out of the TAP Slide unexpectedly. Once in place, the Tripod Adapter Plate can slide freely for balance and is then clamped securely in place with a red lever. The underside of the Zacuto TAP Slide has the same connectors as the Tripod Adapter Plate: three ¼ 20 screw holes, two 3/8 16 screw holes and a locator pin port.

Click for more information about Zacuto’s Tripod Adapter Plate and TAP Slide.