Digital Production Buzz
September 4, 2014
[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]
Joel Stoner, President, CEO, AlterMedia
Patricia Siqueiros, Senior Program Director, College Counselor,Variety Boys & Girls Club
Cathy Aron, Executive Director, PACA/Digital Media Licensing Association
Voiceover: The 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; and by TOLIS Group, the BRU guys, pioneering the development and support of ultra-reliable data backup, archival and restore solutions for nearly 30 years.
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.
Voiceover: 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 world’s longest running podcast for creative content producers covering media production, post production, marketing and distribution around the world. My name is Larry Jordan. Our co-host, Mr. Mike Horton, has the night off. He’s getting ready for the Supermeet next week in Amsterdam.
Larry Jordan: Joel Stoner is the Founder and CEO of AlterMedia, the creators of Studio Suite. This studio management software is used by facilities in dozens of countries to budget, schedule, produce, manage, deliver and bill massive quantities of content, both smaller stages and bigger facilities, and Joel joins us tonight to explain what this is.
Larry Jordan: Patty Siqueiros is a Senior Program Director and College Counselor at the Variety Boys & Girls Club. She works to enhance leadership and college eligibility opportunities primarily for Latino students in East and Central Los Angeles by focusing on creativity. I’m looking forward to chatting with her tonight to learn more.
Larry Jordan: Then Cathy Aron, the Executive Director and former President of PACA – that’s the Digital Media Licensing Association – has been actively involved in the stock photo industry for over 30 years and now they’re getting involved with video. Tonight, we talk with her about why protecting our copyright is so important.
Larry Jordan: Just a reminder that we’re offering text transcripts for each show, courtesy of Take 1 Transcription. Now you can quickly scan or print the contents of each show, as well as listen to it. Transcripts are located on each show page. You can learn more at take1.tv and thanks, Take 1, for making all of this possible.
Larry Jordan: Next week is IBC. That’s one of the two biggest trade shows in the world. NAB in Las Vegas is number one, IBC in Amsterdam is number two and our producer, Cirina Catania, is traveling to Amsterdam next week to cover all of the breaking news – well, at least as much as one person can cover at a show that big – to find out what’s happening from a European perspective in our industry.
Larry Jordan: Cirina and I have been talking about this for a while. There’s a lot of very interesting things that are happening that are different from the States, and Cirina’s got a mandate to try to ferret all of that stuff out and explain it to us. So we’re going to have two different segments – one next week, which will have segments from IBC and one the week following, which is a wrap-up of what was covered at IBC and Cirina’s going to be there both weeks to present all that information to us.
Larry Jordan: I’m looking forward to seeing what she comes up with because, based upon what we’re seeing across our desk now, and people, and companies getting ready for the show, it looks like it’s going to be really exciting and, if you’re anywhere close to Amsterdam, you should make a point to visit at least the trade show floor.
Larry Jordan: Thinking of things to do and keep an eye on, you want to remember to visit with us on Facebook, at digitalproductionbuzz.com. There’s an active, ongoing conversation on Facebook with some of the guests we’ve got on the show and some of the subjects we’re going to cover, and I’m always interested in your comments and we watch those Facebook and Twitter accounts quite closely. We’re also on Twitter, @DPBuZZ, and you can subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter, which is published every Friday, by signing up at digitalproductionbuzz.com.
Larry Jordan: This gives you an inside look at the show, a sense of who the interviews are and who the key people are to watch, as well as some inside insight in terms of what’s happening inside our industry. It’s put together by our web manager Tori, and she does an outstanding job. Comes out every Friday and you need to read it. You can sign up for free at digitalproductionbuzz.com.
Larry Jordan: We’re going to be talking with Joel Stoner right after this.
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Larry Jordan: Joel Stoner is the Founder and CEO of AlterMedia, the creators of Studio Suite. This studio management software is used by facilities in dozens of countries to budget, schedule, produce, manage, deliver and bill massive quantities of content. Welcome, Joel, good to have you with us.
Joel Stoner: Good to be here.
Larry Jordan: Well, my hope is to have you say that at the end of the interview as well as the beginning. You know, you’ve been in this industry for a long time. What got you started, especially in things like project and studio management?
Joel Stoner: Well, I started off as a recording engineer.
Larry Jordan: No way!
Joel Stoner: I was running around from studio to studio to studio working on various different projects and people would say, “Send us an invoice,” and “Where are the tapes?” and so, between projects, I started building a database to keep track of my clients, and my invoices, and the various projects, and back then the two inch tapes that we were working with, and the songs and the track sheets and this started to grow into a fairly healthy system.
Joel Stoner: If you remember way back then, when we started to see this transition to ADATs, I kind of saw the future looming for studios where it was not going to be these giant monolithic multimillion dollar structures, but people working at home in their bedrooms, and to me that sounded like a giant market that I wanted to be a part of. So I thought, “Hey, my software would be really useful to a lot of other people,” and so I started switching my focus to that, also realizing that when I turned 50 or 60, that I wouldn’t be doing heavy metal records any more.
Larry Jordan: One could hope, at least.
Joel Stoner: I hoped I wouldn’t be, yes, and so I saw this as kind of a brighter future, and a way to help out and make some money at the same time. So back in ’97 I started the company and hired a bunch of people, and the first release was in ’98, and that was aimed at recording studios; but right away, we got calls from around the world, literally people saying, “We need this for our post production studios too.” So over the years we kept adding features, and features, and features, and now it’s used in, you said dozens, I’ll accept that, but it’s really 50 countries. We’re pretty proud of…
Larry Jordan: Well, isn’t that four dozen?
Joel Stoner: True. It is an accurate way to put it, yes.
Larry Jordan: See, you’re just being honest. I’m just making the marketing speech here. Well, you know, I was reflecting. I worked in an advertising agency in the ‘80s and one of the things we discovered was there was no good accounting software for ad agencies, and I was listening to the background of your company and realized that, in the ‘80s, I was writing software to do accounting and project management for ad agencies and sold it to a large company, because I figured that was really cool.
Joel Stoner: What they really did is they wanted to put it on the shelf so it wouldn’t compete with their product. So what I thought would be college education for the kids proved to be lunch money for about a week and a half, that was it. You, on the other hand, have made a success of it. You’ve been going since the late ‘90s. That’s a tribute to the quality of your software and your team.
Joel Stoner: Yes, it’s become kind of a lifestyle at this point, and we have a number of advertising agencies, just to touch on that, using Studio Suite as well. But during the various cycles of the industry, we’ve gone up from sometimes just myself, currently we’ve got ten or 11 people in the company. So we’re still small but extremely responsive to our customers. That’s really our pride and joy.
Larry Jordan: I was doing the math, you’ve been in business for 16 years. That’s more than just a small company, that’s a survivor and congratulations for that.
Joel Stoner: Yes. Thank you very much. 17 years, going on 18, actually.
Larry Jordan: Yes, it’s a frightening thought when you think you just started it yesterday.
Joel Stoner: I know. It seems like it.
Larry Jordan: I want to find out more about Studio Suite, but give me one more sense, what do you have as a goal of the company? I mean, what is it that keeps you moving forward?
Joel Stoner: Keeping customers happy, to be honest with you. As you know, the industry’s changed a lot, even just in the recent years. The morph that’s occurred between production and post production and, as a software developer we really need to figure out how to address that, how to handle and support our customers that are in that – well, we used to do post, but now we’re doing production and all the production companies that are now doing a lot of post on set – how do we address that? So that’s been a big part of our focus in the past couple of years, trying to get the tools to our customers that they need.
Larry Jordan: Give me the elevator pitch – what is Studio Suite?
Joel Stoner: Studio Suite is studio management software. Any production company or any organization, actually, that needs to do budgeting and scheduling, project management, media asset management, equipment inventory, including check-in/check-out of equipment or even physical media assets via barcode, track all that back to a customer so you can see their whole history. Create an invoice from it within Studio Suite, send that out to third party accounting software and the things like schedules, we sync with Google Calendar, and iCal. So people can see what’s going on at the studio just by looking at their Google Calendar; and it’s two way, so you can actually make adjustments from Google and have that reflect back into Studio Suite.
Larry Jordan: Who are some of your typical customers?
Joel Stoner: It’s an impressive range, starting as an old heavy mill recording engineer. Sony, Warner Bros, Fox, NASA, US Department of Justice, YouTube, on down to hundreds of post production companies that most people have never heard of.
Larry Jordan: Ah, but sweetheart darling. Ok, so you’re talking to guys that have got the seriously big budgets, so this has got to cost 50 to 70 thousand dollars. Why should the rest of us even care?
Joel Stoner: No, it doesn’t.
Larry Jordan: Be still my heart.
Joel Stoner: The goal from the beginning was kind of model after Microsoft – make it as cheap as you can so everybody gets it and then you’re the standard. For the first bunch of years, the first release was $349 for an unlimited number of users and it’s gone up a lot since then, I’ll be honest with you. We do have a product currently called Studio Suite Solo, which is intended for students and hobbyists, really. That’s $399. But if you’re a professional user working at home, that’s about $1200 and if you’re a network, meaning you’ve got three or five users, it goes up from there based on how many users you’ve got.
Larry Jordan: Can somebody get in for less than $5,000?
Joel Stoner: Yes, sure. Absolutely.
Larry Jordan: All right. Now, I spent some time on your website learning about this as I was getting ready for the interview. It looks like this is built on a Filemaker platform. Is that a true statement?
Joel Stoner: That is a true statement, yes.
Larry Jordan: Is Filemaker robust enough? Because I’ve heard that if it isn’t a sequel database or if it isn’t something like an Oracle database, it isn’t fast enough, doesn’t perform, isn’t secure. Should we worry?
Joel Stoner: No. I stumbled into Filemaker completely by accident, started building it when I had no idea what a database even was, but the benefits along the way have been outstanding. One is, it’s super easy, meaning all of our customers – who tend to be a creative lot – they want their screens, and all their print-outs to look just the way they want it to, with the fonts, and the colors and the positions, and with Filemaker they can do that.
Joel Stoner: It runs cross platform, so it’s Mac and PC. You can have a Mac or PC server – any mix of Mac and PC clients and IOS clients, by the way – and now with Filemaker 13, they’ve got something called Web Direct and that’s really opened the door because now you don’t even have to have Filemaker Pro on your computer, all you need is a browser, and you can log into the Studio Suite database, do everything you need in a browser and log out. So you can do that from wherever you are, if you’re in Europe, or New York, or Utah, you can get in and get stuff done. Now, as far as the robustness, what’s great about our customers is they are not typically giant corporations, and even if they are, it’s a small department within a corporation.
Joel Stoner: It’s not like we’re doing airline scheduling software that millions of people are trying to access at the same time. It’s usually a small group of one to five, ten maybe. The highest seat count we’ve got is 40. Our sweet spot is really the smaller organization or small groups within large organizations.
Larry Jordan: Is Studio Suite designed for people who run facilities or designed for people who run projects?
Joel Stoner: Facilities. You can do projects as well, but what differentiates it from something like Movie Magic Budgeting or Scheduling, whereas those are really targeted towards an individual project or whatever’s going on, Studio Suite is from the perspective of a facility, because it’s got a contacts module to track. Not only all your clients, but all your staff, and all your vendors, all the name, address, phone numbers, and also the communications between them over the years of your business, not just one particular project.
Joel Stoner: It tracks all of the equipment inventory that you’ve got – when you purchased it, what its value is today, all the maintenance that you’ve done to it, all the revenue that’s been generated by that camera, how much you’ve spent keeping it repaired, things like that. Show me the metrics on how many times Studio A has been used this year versus the year before, that kind of stuff. So it’s really a more overarching long view for a facility than a single project base type thing.
Larry Jordan: I’m thinking of another couple of project managers. Basecamp comes instantly to mind and there is other project management software. What differentiates you from them?
Joel Stoner: Well, it’d be kind of like running an auto repair business with Basecamp. Our workflow in our industry is really pretty unique. Basecamp’s really great at what it does, but it’s very general and broad, and it does get kind of specific in a lot of ways, but you can’t customize it. If you need it to look a certain way, you can do a very minimal amount of that. If you need a button that figures out, how many donuts we’ve got to buy for the crew tomorrow, you can’t do that, and there are a lot of little peculiarities that go on in the world of production and post production that need special slots, and all that is addressed pretty well in Studio Suite.
Larry Jordan: Let’s see, I’m thinking here about whether I’m going to talk more about databases or if I want to talk more about the business, and I think I want to talk about security. I mean, everybody and their cousins have been worrying about it this week. How do we keep that data secure?
Joel Stoner: First off, let’s talk about this big celebrity photo scandal that’s going on. This is a really broad topic, but you’d have to almost say that the value of privacy and security seems to be going down. That’s a whole other topic. Studio Suite, for the record, you do need a username and a password to get in it, it’s got SSL encryption on all the data, and so it’s really just as secure as anything else can be.
Larry Jordan: Is this hosted locally at a corporate site? Or is it hosted on some cloud somewhere?
Joel Stoner: Each user, each of our customers, has their own server in their facility that has only their data on it. So there’s not a chance that their stuff is going to get intermingled with any other company, or project or spied upon by some server room technician who’s curious about what the next big video game details are that’s being developed within Studio Suite. As long as your server room is behind a firewall, and in your locked building, and SSL encrypted, and needs a username and password to get onto the server and also to get into the database. That’s about as good as your bank is.
Larry Jordan: You’re not selling storage services and you’re not hosting the databases?
Joel Stoner: That is correct.
Larry Jordan: Are you planning to expand in that direction?
Joel Stoner: Possibly.
Larry Jordan: Ah. Ok, but as of right now, for people who are paranoid about security, it isn’t necessary for them to use your storage to be able to use your service?
Joel Stoner: Definitely not. All of our customers have different opinions and preferences about what kind of storage they like, or don’t like, or how they want to be connected to their network. So we leave those decision to them and we just provide them with good business management software that can talk to that data wherever it is.
Larry Jordan: I want to get back to cost for a second, then we’ll take a look at some of the specific features. You’ve mentioned that you can get sort of like a student version for $399, but to get in for a single user’s about $1200 and it requires Filemaker 13, which is the latest version of the software, which is an extra cost.
Joel Stoner: No. We bundle the Filemaker into that price.
Larry Jordan: Ok, so that $1200 includes a single user version of Filemaker.
Joel Stoner: It does.
Larry Jordan: If you had two users, I guess what I’m asking, are we subscribing to this? Are we purchasing it outright? And what are the ongoing costs?
Joel Stoner: Actually, as of this release, which is next Tuesday by the way…
Larry Jordan: As if there’s nothing else going on on Tuesday. How are you going to make any noise at all?
Joel Stoner: Yes, we found out that Apple’s following our lead on announcing some other new little product on that day. Where were we? Oh, pricing. I’m sure you are aware that there’s this new trend in software pricing to do annual or monthly pricing, and sometimes it’s being forced down our throats and a lot of us don’t like that. So we’ve always been a perpetual model, where you buy it once and use it ‘til you’re done, but now we’re going to offer the annual because a lot of people do like that.
Joel Stoner: If the $1200, including Filemaker, seems a little rich for you, you can get an annual license and that’s, I think, about two-thirds of that, or maybe half. The only catch, of course, is you’ve got to keep paying every year to do that. If you buy the perpetual, it’s a one time deal, you can use it forever; if you buy the annual, you do have to keep paying every year. The advantage to the annual, though, is you always get the latest version of the software.
Larry Jordan: Got it. A company of two people that needs to keep track of all this stuff, roughly what kind of price are we looking at?
Joel Stoner: That’s going to be about $4800 plus support.
Larry Jordan: Ok, so what we’re buying is, we’re buying the cost of Filemaker server and we’re buying the necessary Filemaker seats plus your software in a multi-user mode.
Joel Stoner: Yes. The perpetual, we talked about the $1200 per user, and then the server is $2400, so the numbers are nice and easy to figure out. Server 2400 plus 1200 each, that’s the 48, and then the annual support. You’re really going to want that the first year. That’s 20 percent of the value of the software.
Joel Stoner: You can keep paying, but it’s really that first year that you’re going to need it. If you’re the kind of organization where you’re always hiring new people along with a lot of transients, new techs, you need a lot of attention, and you might want to stay on that annual support, but that first year is pretty critical.
Larry Jordan: What’s some of the new stuff? Can you tell us what’s going to be announced on the 9th?
Joel Stoner: Yes. We’re actually doing a video series starting last week on some of this and kind of what I mentioned earlier about talking to our customers about what they need, and one of the biggest things is that people aren’t doing production in one building any more, or post production.
Joel Stoner: People are doing it in their houses, and across country, and around the world and they’re all working on the same project. So accessibility was the very first thing we focused on and, with extremely good timing, that’s when Filemaker came out with their 13 version that includes this Web Direct technology that means that anybody can access Studio Suite from anywhere in the world through the browser. So accessibility is the thing that people are wanting and a major feature of Studio Suite now.
Joel Stoner: The next one was calendar. People need to be able to have a calendar that can show resource usage and availability, but also tasks, also daily notes about, hey, so and so’s coming in at two o’clock to meet about this, but also project calendars. When we think about scheduling studios, we think about rooms, and people, and equipment and two o’clock to four o’clock.
Joel Stoner: But a lot of projects are, hey, we think we’re going to do something in December starting on the 2nd and then going to the 15th. We have no idea what resources are there yet, but we need to schedule a banner across the top. So now within Studio Suite, we’ve got a project calendar as well as a resource calendar; and also employee schedules so everybody can see in one calendar resource usage, task, notes, employee schedules and projects.
Larry Jordan: That’s very cool.
Joel Stoner: Yes. And they wanted that to be visible in other places, so that’s the Google and iCal synchronization that we got. The next big topic was people were like, “Hey, you know, my guy is in Nebraska this week and I need him to log his time into the project from where he is, but I actually have 30 guys in Nebraska working on a shoot and I don’t want to pay for 30 seats for the duration of this month long project. What can I do?”
Joel Stoner: We have a module called Quick Log, and we’ve added this to our product called WebGlancer, which is a read-only limited access version of Studio Suite that also works in a browser, but the key factor is that it does not occupy a seat. In other words, it’s for free. From this WebGlancer access point to Studio Suite, you can click on the Quick Log and then from in that you can select what project you’re working on, click on the ‘Add Me’ button, adjust your times. You can add yourself to a couple of different projects, you could also add in other resources like equipment or other services that you provided.
Larry Jordan: Very cool, very cool.
Joel Stoner: Yes. It gets it all in.
Larry Jordan: Joel, where can people go on the web to learn more?
Joel Stoner: Studiosuite.com.
Larry Jordan: Studiosuite.com and Joel Stoner is the Founder and CEO of AlterMedia. Joel, thanks for joining us today.
Joel Stoner: And here you go, it’s great to be here.
Larry Jordan: Oh, it’s our pleasure. Take care. Bye bye.
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Larry Jordan: Patty Siqueiros is a Senior Program Director and College Counselor at the Variety Boys & Girls Club. She works to enhance leadership and college eligibility opportunities, primarily for Latino students in East and Central Los Angeles by focusing on creativity. Hello, Patty, welcome.
Patricia Siqueiros: Hi.
Larry Jordan: It is wonderful to have you with us. Thanks for taking the time this evening to join us.
Patricia Siqueiros: Thank you. Thank you for providing me this opportunity to talk about our club.
Larry Jordan: You are welcome and we’re going to get you talking as much as possible. Start, though, by explaining what the Variety Boys & Girls Club is.
Patricia Siqueiros: The Variety Boys & Girls Club is a club that has been around since 1949 and it’s situated in the Boyle Heights community, which neighbors East Los Angeles, and we provide after school programming for students between the ages of six and 17 and the type of programming that we offer is academic, leadership development, we also offer social recreational and sports.
Larry Jordan: What was it that made you decide to get involved with the club?
Patricia Siqueiros: I’ve always had a passion for education. I grew up in a community not too far from Boyle Heights, in El Sereno, and it’s also a predominantly Latino working class neighborhood. So my passion has always been to give back to my community and I felt that this was the perfect place where I can help kids starting from a young age and get them prepared for college, which I feel is key to helping them to open the doors for other opportunities.
Larry Jordan: What is the average age of the kids at the club?
Patricia Siqueiros: For the most part, the majority of our kids are elementary age students so they’re about, I would say about nine to ten years old. But again we service kids six to 17.
Larry Jordan: One of the things that I mentioned in the intro is that one of the things you do is to enhance leadership and college eligibility opportunities. What are some of the challenges these kids face?
Patricia Siqueiros: Boyle Heights, as I mentioned, it neighbors East Los Angeles and it’s close to downtown Los Angeles, but Boyle Heights is plagued with gang violence. Also the vast majority of the families who reside in Boyle Heights live below the federal poverty level, and so we see a lot of families who are making less than 23,000 and these are families that consist of four members or more. There are also high rates of obesity, diabetes and a lot of our students are academically behind at least two grade levels.
Larry Jordan: How are you challenging or encouraging them or whatever the right word is? What are you doing to get them excited about college?
Patricia Siqueiros: Every day, we provide tutoring, one on one assistance with their homework. We find that our kids are struggling, so we have to oftentimes re-teach the lesson. But in addition, we do get them motivated and encouraged to pursue a college education. We start teaching them at the elementary age level about college. We take them on college field trips.
Patricia Siqueiros: We also have what is called our College Club and that focuses on kids that are in elementary school and we teach them about college through interactive games that we’ve created here, that I’ve created, such as College Monopoly, College Bingo, College Jeopardy. So the kids are already learning about college, and they’re all excited and so we have kids that are six or seven years of age saying that they’re going to go to Harvard. So we’re planting the seed for the kids.
Patricia Siqueiros: For the older kids, we start doing case management, and we follow them, and we track the classes that they’re taking, and we make sure that if they need tutoring, that we provide the tutoring.
Patricia Siqueiros: Then for the kids in high school, we continue those same services but we also provide them SAT prep training to help them score better, because we find that our kids are doing ok in terms of grades but they’re also struggling with their SATs.
Larry Jordan: Where does creativity fit into this whole equation?
Patricia Siqueiros: That’s a key component of our programming. We know that our kids, unfortunately their school funding’s cut. So first thing they cut is the arts programming, and so we want to make sure that we provide a space, or an opportunity for the kids to express themselves creatively. Whether it’s in our arts and crafts department where they’re doing painting, and sketching and wood burning, or whether it’s in our digital media center, where they’re participating in our photo club or a film class.
Larry Jordan: Now, why a photo club?
Patricia Siqueiros: The photo club, I think, it provides the kids the opportunity to learn about a medium that they may not have and so they’re taking pictures; but then these pictures, they realize that they can use photography as a way to represent their stories about their family, their community, their lives, their school and so in our photo club the kids are taking pictures of images around them, and we’re empowering them to tell a story and to advocate for their community.
Larry Jordan: What is it that the kids like about being a part of the club?
Patricia Siqueiros: I think for them, given the circumstances around them, this becomes a second home. In many cases, a lot of the kids say that this is their first home and it provides them with a space where they feel safe. Where they know that there are people here, adults who care about them and are helping them achieve their academic potential.
Larry Jordan: What kind of gear do the kids have to work with to take photos?
Patricia Siqueiros: Unfortunately, we don’t have as many resources as we wish we could provide our students. In terms of our photo club, it consists of about 15 members, and the 15 kids that are in the photo club are sharing one camera, which is our photo club instructor’s camera, his own personal camera. They take turns, so each member has an opportunity to take up to five images and then they rotate. Then the next member will be able to use the camera.
Larry Jordan: How did the photo club get started? And how can people contribute, say, hardware or cameras they don’t need any more? Are you willing to take contributions?
Patricia Siqueiros: Yes, any contributions we would gladly accept and, yes, they can make a donation. They can visit our website, come and drop them off, or call us and we would gladly pick up the donations. To answer your first question, our photo club started a few years ago and Juan is now doing a fabulous job of teaching the kids how to use photos to represent what goes on in their lives and, again, to tell their story creatively and be able to use pictures to voice their opinion about certain issues.
Patricia Siqueiros: We have kids taking pictures of the images of the graffiti, and then they’re taking images of all the liquor stores around their community. So essentially they’re becoming change agents and where photography is providing them with a voice.
Larry Jordan: I understand that last year your kids were competing in a photo contest. What was the contest and how did they do?
Patricia Siqueiros: We’re one of many boys’ and girls’ clubs across America and so our kids competed. We submitted photos and five of our kids were selected at a national level and recognized and became finalists, and so they were images, again, of their community, of their cultural traditions, and I think that was key in why they were selected to compete at a national level, because they really did a great job of defining who they were and what community they came from.
Larry Jordan: This has got to be a feeling of incredible pride as you watch these kids succeed.
Patricia Siqueiros: It is. It’s the best thing. To be able to come here every day, the staff here feels a little overwhelmed because our kids are dealing with so many issues and unfortunately we can’t address them all, but we feel rewarded when we see the progress that our students are making. We offer scholarships to our students to pursue a higher education and we know that some of our students are pursuing a higher education at Georgetown University. It’s so gratifying when we know that all of our hard work is paying off.
Larry Jordan: What are your hopes for the future? What does the next six months to a year look like for you?
Patricia Siqueiros: For me, it looks like we’re going to continue working on our programming, and making sure that we’re providing the highest quality programming to provide our students the best opportunities so that we make sure that they’re ready to go off to a higher education.
Larry Jordan: For people who want to go on the web to learn more about the club and your organization, where should they go?
Patricia Siqueiros: They can visit our website, which is www.vbgc.org and there on our website there’s information about our programming and also our contact information.
Larry Jordan: That website is vbgc.org and Patty Siqueiros is the Senior Program Director and College Counselor at the Variety Boy & Girls Club. Patty, thanks for joining us today.
Patricia Siqueiros: Thank you again for giving us this opportunity.
Larry Jordan: Oh, and best wishes for the future.
Patricia Siqueiros: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
Patricia Siqueiros: Bye.
Larry Jordan: Cathy Aron is the Executive Director and former President of PACA. That’s the Digital Media Licensing Association. She’s been actively involved in the stock photo industry for over 30 years and was formerly the President of Photo Network Stock, a very successful general stock photo rights managed archive. Hello, Cathy, welcome.
Cathy Aron: Hi, Larry.
Larry Jordan: It is wonderful to have you with us. Thanks for joining us today.
Cathy Aron: Thanks for having me. I’m thrilled to be on.
Larry Jordan: The pleasure is ours. What got you involved in working with stock media when you first started out?
Cathy Aron: Well, that’s an interesting question. I really kind of fell into it. I’m not a photographer by trade, although I grew up in a house where my dad was a amateur photographer, it was something he did on the side. And he… my trade that bought a business that did a catalog of images for schools, and things like that, and asked me to run it for him after I was done with college.
Cathy Aron: I was doing it part-time, and then unfortunately he passed away, and I was kind of thrown into doing it full-time, and I didn’t really know anything about reproduction rights or anything like that. It was kind of a thing that people used when they went on trips and… turned out they had title slides and pictures from all over the world.
Cathy Aron: I quickly learned all about reproduction because they were selling rights to Warner Bros and places like that, and found out that there was a lot more money to be made in reproduction rights than there was in selling 55 cent… images. That’s kind of what got me started in it and then I branched out from there.
Cathy Aron: It seems like a lifetime ago since I’ve been Executive Director for PACA for ten years. But my love of photography, I think, has been a lifelong love and now my focus has really been on the copyright protection angle, and the importance of copyright, protecting the rights of creators. I think that in the last few years of media, and everything that’s happened since the advent of the internet has changed, everything about what creators need to do to protect themselves.
Larry Jordan: Wait, wait, wait, take a deep breath. You’re going to do the whole interview in 30 seconds.
Cathy Aron: No, no, no. But I just mean that my love of photography has really changed to protection of photography and of media. That’s been an evolution.
Larry Jordan: Ok, well, let’s take a step forward. We’ve now got you deeply involved in the industry and you’re the Executive Director of PACA, except I don’t know what PACA is. What’s PACA?
Cathy Aron: Ok, well, we’re a 50 year old association and we started out as the Picture Archive Council America, and since the world of digital content licensing has changed so much, we realized last year that our role as an association has changed as well, and we’re changing our name actually to DMLA, which is the Digital Media Licensing Association.
Cathy Aron: But since we’ve been known for so many years as PACA, we kind of have to make that a slow change. So we’re no longer just an association of pictures, we now have motion and digital, and all kinds of licensing are now joining our association, so it’s not just photos any more.
Larry Jordan: All right, so we used to be PACA, we’re becoming DMLA – I’m trying hard not to say DIMLA – but we’re becoming…
Cathy Aron: I know, I know.
Larry Jordan: Who are some of your members?
Cathy Aron: Well, our biggest member is Corbis and then I would say that most of our members are smaller archives. Pond 5, well, Pond 5 is not a small archive, but that’s our biggest motion company at this point.
Larry Jordan: I notice you’ve got Pond 5, and you’ve got Shutterstock and you’ve got a few others, but there are also a number of royalty free houses – Create Us, Getty Images, Artbeats – that are not on your membership list. Why would somebody want to be a member? What’s the benefit to a stock house joining, and can individuals join as well?
Cathy Aron: Individuals can join, as long as they’re licensing content. If you’re producing but you’re not licensing, then you wouldn’t qualify for membership. So that’s the basis for membership, although you could join as an affiliate member but you couldn’t be a general member.
Larry Jordan: Tell me what the words licensing images means to you.
Cathy Aron: Licensing content.
Larry Jordan: Ok. What does that mean?
Cathy Aron: That means that you have some kind of content that you are licensing for reproduction. Whether it is motion, or images, or it could even be other kinds of work that you are licensing for reproduction. So someone is taking your work and re-using it.
Larry Jordan: Ok, so let’s slow this down just a little bit more because I’m still not keeping up. What does licensing for reproduction mean? I’ve shot this video, I’m putting it up to the web and I’m selling it. Is that licensing? Or is it…
Cathy Aron: That’s licensing. That is licensing.
Larry Jordan: So it’s when I put an image up to sell and somebody else buys it, even if it’s only to one other person?
Cathy Aron: Correct.
Larry Jordan: Well, that’s easy. Why didn’t you say that the first time? Selling your images. Any producer who’s shooting video and is selling their images into stock could theoretically become a member?
Cathy Aron: Absolutely.
Larry Jordan: Why should they?
Cathy Aron: Why should they?
Larry Jordan: Yes.
Cathy Aron: Ok, that’s an interesting question. Why should you become a member? Well, our goals are to build a stronger and more unified industry, and I would say one of the most important things that we’ve been doing over the last few years is fighting for the rights of creators. We believe that copyright is really under attack.
Cathy Aron: I think everybody was fully excited about the internet and we are too. It was supposed to level the playing field. It does in some ways, but it’s very difficult to protect your rights on the internet and Google isn’t making it any easier. They don’t care if their search takes someone to a pirated site or a legitimate site. So one of the main things we work on through our legal counsel, Nancy… who’s very well known in the copyright arena, is we lobby and we work with other content associations to work with the Copyright Office, and Congress and other important bodies to protect copyright.
Cathy Aron: I think that those of us in the know realize that, once things are put up on the internet, it’s really hard to know if someone has pirated it, is using them illegally, and that’s one of the things that we work toward and that’s kind of what the association does. It does as a group what individuals can’t do on their own. We use dues money and other money that we bring into the association to fight those issues. So that’s one thing that we do.
Cathy Aron: We also build, I think it was three years ago we built something called PACA Search and it’s a mega search engine. I think we have 80 archives up on it right now. We have both motion and stills, where people can search and brings you in an instant, from using keywords, what you’re looking for and everything up there is licensable content. We built it as an alternative to using Google Image search, and that way our buyers can find images that are able to be licensed and it doesn’t bring them things that aren’t licensable.
Cathy Aron: Other things that we do for our members, we have a conference once a year and we bring things that are changing the industry, like new technologies, the latest on legal issues. A lot of our members are smaller, two to three person companies and don’t have time to really pay attention to what’s going on. We talk about social media, how to use it in your business, we talk about advancements and image testers, things like that. We talk about how buyers are buying, what’s the newest way that people are searching for images or motion. We talk about changes in search and anything that’s the new thing that have happened over the last year, we bring that to the conference. So in two days people can hear what they might have wanted to be working on in the last year but they just haven’t had time to do it.
Cathy Aron: We have that, we do webinars, we are just starting to have monthly webinars. We’ve had a few in the last year that bring new information to our members, and also we have a blog where we post information that’s happening in the industry or on the internet that’s important to our industry.
Larry Jordan: Ok, hold it, take a breath. My turn again. Cathy, a lot of the people who listen to this podcast are new film makers, or relatively new film makers. Could you define copyright for someone who’s not a lawyer to understand, and then go on from that into explaining, why copyright is important in the first place?
Cathy Aron: Copyright is the creator’s ownership of what they create, and by the copyright law, anything you create is yours. The copyright law says if you create it, you own it. If you go to court, if you haven’t registered the copyright of your creation, you don’t have all the benefits of the copyright, you can’t get damages and things like that. So you always own a copyright once you’ve created it. Once we start diluting the copyright, it becomes a little harder for people to go after people who have infringed their copyright.
Larry Jordan: What does infringed copyright mean?
Cathy Aron: If I go on the internet, and I download your picture, and I put it in my brochure or book and I never pay you for that, then I’ve infringed your copyright. That’s called copyright infringement. If you find out that I’ve used that image, you can sue me for copyright infringement. A lot of times people will just say, “Just pay me what you would have paid me if you had contacted me to use it,” or by law you can charge more for that because of the infringement part of it. It’s become harder and harder to find infringements on the internet because there are so many images and material on the internet.
Larry Jordan: All right, so we’ve got copyright infringement is when somebody uses a creative work that you’ve created without your permission, without paying you. But the first question then becomes, how do we find that work, how do we find that infringement? And the second question is, the legal system right now is not the most efficient way, especially if you’re a small company. Are there other options than trying to go to court, which could take a long time and cost a lot of money?
Cathy Aron: Sure, and that’s another thing we provide for our members. We have legal documents, which are great especially for new people coming into the industry and small businesses. As a PACA member, you get all the legal documents that you could possibly need for running your business. Included in those are Take Down Notices and infringement letters, and that would always be the first recourse that anybody would send out to someone if they catch them infringing their imagery, or their motion, or whatever it would be. Hopefully that would do it and you would send them a bill saying, “You used my image, or my video and here’s the bill for what it would have been if you would have contacted me first,” and often that’s just all it takes.
Cathy Aron: There is a development with the Copyright Office this year, where they’ve asked for comments and they’ve actually had some sessions with many people in the industry who have gone and testified in front of the Copyright Office on a small claims court for copyright, and that would act pretty much like a small claims court does in the public arena for small infringement issues. So infringements that you could actually go to a copyright small claims courts for and take somebody to court there. You wouldn’t need a lawyer or anything like that, and that would be just awesome because most cases are small.
Cathy Aron: They’re not big violations, they’re just small ones. So we’re really hoping that takes place and comes to fruition because I think that would be really helpful for photographers and other creators. So if they didn’t pay your invoice, you could take them to small claims court, just like you would in any other kind of business.
Larry Jordan: One of the things you said earlier is that we’re losing control of our copyrights. First, define that; and second, how can we get control back?
Cathy Aron: We can get control back by education, and that’s one of the major things that PACA or DMLA stands for. See, I’m not even using it and I need to. It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Education is really, really where it has to start, Larry, and it needs to start in elementary school. I think the thing that we’re fighting is that you’re in an era where kids start out with the whole idea that everything on the internet is free, and they start that thought process at a very young age. So even in college, in some of the classes where they’re learning design and stuff, they’re encouraged to copy and paste pictures for projects and there’s really no great copyright program in colleges.
Cathy Aron: We have a copyright program – it actually needs to be redone, it’s a little out of date, things change so quickly – but we have a copyright education program on our site and it is all about copyright and wrong, and teachers all over the country call me and ask if they can use it in their classes because there’s no program that are set up, and I think that’s the whole thing. It needs to be education, and I think if people knew that things are copyrighted and can’t be used, they wouldn’t use them. I think it’s lack of knowledge for the most part that keeps people unaware that things need licenses before they use them.
Larry Jordan: In the little bit of time that we have left, tell me how search engines are making our life difficult.
Cathy Aron: Because they don’t identify if things need to be licensed or not. Bing just came out with a new image widget last week that brings up a collage of images and lets you put them on your website, and there’s not one word about if those images or licensable or not. That’s the problem. If the search engines are not going to talk about licensing and copyright, then how is the potential buyer or user going to know about it?
Larry Jordan: And if there isn’t some indication on the image that it’s a copyrighted image, they’ll just assume that it’s free to use.
Cathy Aron: They take that off. The search engines take it off.
Larry Jordan: Well, I think you’ve got work for the next 50 years ahead of you.
Cathy Aron: I think I do too. I just hope I can live that long.
Larry Jordan: For people who want more information, where can they go on the web to learn more?
Cathy Aron: It’s www.pacaoffice.org.
Larry Jordan: That’s pacaoffice.org and Cathy Aron is the Executive Director and former President of PACA, soon to be Digital Media Licensing Association, simply to confuse the heck out of all of us. Cathy, this has been wonderful. We will bring you back because I think an understanding of copyright is important for every film maker, and copyright applies to both moving and still images, and having you on to explain that, I think, is really useful and I want to thank you so very much for your time.
Cathy Aron: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
Cathy Aron: Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: I’m struck by Cathy’s comments on the ubiquity of images, and the ubiquity of moving images and the complete lack of understanding about copyrights; and, for those of us who need to make a living based upon selling images, having a clear differentiation between that which is available for free and that which we need to charge a fee for I think could be a useful place to start. So I encourage you to take a look at that website – pacaoffice.org – and learn a bit more and see what you can do to help get the word out on the importance of copyrights.
Larry Jordan: I was also impressed with our conversation with Patty Siqueiros and the fact that she’s running a photo club at a kids’ club – a boys and girls club – that’s sharing one camera between 15 kids. That strikes me as an opportunity for some additional hardware donations; and Joel Stoner talking about the whole idea of being able to keep track of all the different elements in a facility, whether it’s scheduling, or people, or billing, or everything in between.
Larry Jordan: It’s been a fascinatingly diverse show and I’m glad you were here to join it with us. I want to thank our guests, Joel Stoner, the Founder and CEO of AlterMedia; Patty Siqueiros, the Senior Program Director and College Counselor at the Variety Boys & Girls Club; and Cathy Aron, the Executive Director and former President of PACA, which is becoming the Digital Media Licensing Association.
Larry Jordan: There’s a lot happening at The Buzz between shows. Be sure to visit our website at digitalproductionbuzz.com, talk with us on Twitter, @DPBuZZ, and Facebook, at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Music on The Buzz is provided by SmartSound; The Buzz is streamed by wehostmacs.com; text transcripts by Take 1 Transcription. Email us if you’re bored at email@example.com. Our producer is Cirina Catania, Tori Hoefke is our engineer. Mike Horton has the night off. My name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to The Digital Production Buzz.
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