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Transcript: Digital Production Buzz – June 25, 2015

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Digital Production Buzz

June 25, 2015

[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]

(Click here to listen to this show.)

Larry Jordan


Randi Altman, Industry Analyst and Editor

Starr Ackerman, PR & AR Manager, USA/CA/SA, IK Multimedia

James Castle Stevens, Director of Marketing, Larry Jordan & Associates, Inc.

Cullie Poseria, Cinematographer


Larry Jordan: Welcome to The Buzz. We start with Starr Ackerman. She’s a musician, a public relations manager and an artist relations manager for a variety of companies, including IK Multimedia and Musicians First. She shares the latest in music and digital technology with us tonight.

Larry Jordan: Then James Castle Stevens is an actor who got his first LA gig working for ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation.’ James brings his actor’s perspective to discuss what directors need to know to make their actors better.

Larry Jordan: And then Cullie Poseria is a leading edge young cinematographer with a love of movement who does a lot of work in music videos and independent feature films. She takes us behind the scenes tonight of her new music video, Skyler Reed’s ‘I’m Doin’ It.’

Larry Jordan: We have a brand new Tech Talk featuring new features in Adobe Premiere Pro and Randi Altman joins us with her perspective on the news.

Larry Jordan: The Buzz starts now.

Announcer #1: Tonight’s Digital Production Buzz is brought to you by Other World Computing at

Announcer #2: Since the dawn of digital film making…

Announcer #2: Authoritative.

Announcer #2: …one show serves a worldwide network of media professionals…

Announcer #2: Current.

Announcer #2: …uniting industry experts…

Announcer #2: Production.

Announcer #2: …film makers…

Announcer #2: Post production.

Announcer #2: …and content creators around the planet.

Announcer #2: Distribution.

Announcer #2: From the media capital of the world in Los Angeles, California, The Digital Production Buzz goes 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. Our co-host, Mike Horton, has the night off.

Larry Jordan: The Buzz is evolving, and I’m pleased with the feedback that we’ve been getting on the changes that we’re making. For instance, a very popular request is for more product demos so, In addition to our regular interviews, we’re adding a new Tech Talk section. These short demos allow us to showcase techniques that don’t require a lot of time to explain. Tonight, we’ve got one featuring the new version of Adobe Premiere and Adobe Audition.

Larry Jordan: Thinking of media, here in California we have another problem because of our severe drought. Earlier today, KTLA TV reported that an unmanned drone shut down evening aerial firefighting operations over the lake fire. The fixed wing drone was flying about 900 feet above the ground; however, drones are not permitted over 400 feet. Worse, the area was under a Federal temporary flight restriction, making all drone operations in the fire area illegal. The problem is that if a drone is spotted, water dropping aircraft must vacate the area for crew safety. The early flight shut down allowed the fire to expand another 3.5 square miles overnight.

Larry Jordan: Another drone was spotted yesterday over the Lake Arrowhead fire and, again, flight operations shut down hours early, causing the fire to spread. Flying a drone over a wildfire may yield great footage, but the risks of delaying firefighting operations, even causing loss of life, make this a very foolish activity. In other news, last week we introduced Randi Altman’s Perspective. This is a news segment and we continue with it this week. Our goal with these segments is to cover breaking news, along with Randi’s thoughts on other important stories of the week.

Larry Jordan: This is Perspective.

Larry Jordan: Randi Altman has been covering the post production industry for more than 20 years. For more than ten of those, she was the Editor in Chief of Post magazine. Now she runs her own website, called Hello, Randi, welcome back.

Randi Altman: Hi Larry, thanks for inviting me back.

Larry Jordan: Well, we had so much fun talking about the news with you last week, I want to do the same thing again this week. What’s the big news story today?

Randi Altman: Well, the follow-up to what the big news was last week, the release of the Adobe Creative Suite 2015. There was a lot of excitement, but this week we’re starting to hear about a few hiccups, mostly in the name of plug-in incompatibility with the new versions of After Effects and Premiere, so users are being warned not to overwrite their 2014 versions while plug-in companies are trying to get it together. Currently a few are working, like Maxon Cinema 4D and Boris FX’s Continuum, but the rest are following.

Larry Jordan: Randi, is there a place people can go to get a list of what plug-ins are compatible?

Randi Altman: Yes, they can go to …com and they are a reseller of plug-ins. You can go there and see a list of compatible plug-ins that are available now.

Larry Jordan: I should mention that we have compatibility issues both with Premiere and with After Effects. Keep in mind also that I’ve been reading the Premiere file format for 2015 is different to the file format for 2014, so once you upgrade to 2015 you won’t be able to move back. Randi, the other big news this week has been Taylor Swift and her blog about Apple Music. What have you been hearing?

Randi Altman: That’s right, Taylor Swift took Apple to task on social media and Apple reacted pretty swiftly – no pun intended. The artist whose music is going to be shared by Apple for the first three months of their trial period will now be paid for their work, which is incredibly important especially to this industry. There was a time when VFX studios were doing elaborate bids for visual effects work and not getting the bids and not getting paid and it took a big toll on some studios, so I think that we’re going in the right direction with this decision.

Larry Jordan: Do you think this is a change in policy for Apple or do you think it’s a giant PR strategy?

Randi Altman: With Apple, you never know. I could go either way. It could go either way.

Larry Jordan: What other news has been hot this week?

Randi Altman: The other news that happened this week is Avid completed its acquisition of Orad. They are a 3D real time graphics company that also provides video servers and workflow management solutions, so they’re hoping to integrate the Orad technology into their own Avid Media central platform.

Larry Jordan: So Avid now owns Orad, it’s a 100 percent acquisition?

Randi Altman: Correct, completed this week.

Larry Jordan: I know you’ve got tons of stuff to do and your newsletter’s about ready to publish, so we’ll let you go, but we’ll bring you back next week to find out what the latest news is. Randi, thanks for joining us today.

Randi Altman: Thanks Larry, much appreciated.

Larry Jordan: To read more from Randi Altman, visit

Larry Jordan: We recorded that segment late yesterday. As a follow-up to Randi’s story on Apple Music, this afternoon Taylor Swift announced, quote, “After the events of this week, I’ve decided to put my album, 1989, on Apple Music and happily so,” close quote. Also, hold-out musical licensing groups Merlin and Beggars Group both announced agreements with Apple Music on Tuesday. I’ll be back with Starr Ackerman right after this.

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Larry Jordan: Starr Ackerman is a musician as well as a public relations and artist relations manager for music production software and hardware companies. She has an international reputation and joins us tonight to showcase the latest digital and mobile technology for music, podcasting and network audio. Hello, Starr, it is good to have you with us. Oh, and I wanted to ask before we got started, do you view yourself more as a musician or as a manager?

Starr Ackerman: I’m a musician at heart, but I truly want to be able to… and inspire people to make music, so if that means managing the musician… for the rest of the time that I’m alive and that’s my art and that’s my contribution to humanity, great.

Larry Jordan: Wearing your musician hat, what do you see as the future of new technology? Clearly apps and all the stuff that we need to create music has gotten much cheaper and much easier to access both in terms of hardware and distribution. What’s the future?

Starr Ackerman: I believe in the power of computer music and I have ever since I was introduced to it, more than 15 years ago, when I was able to take a CD-ROM … and I was introduced to it then. I believe in the power of computer music. So when you have more and more powerful computers… your phones and your tablets and devices, you actually have access to music making software, and then also the connectors.

Starr Ackerman: The mobility clearly is the future, when you can fit all of your stuff into a backpack and get on the plane and make music and then send it. …working for… she was sending music tunes to Survivor and they were playing them right away and was doing all this from the plane. So the future is really just more power to your computers, and your mobile devices and more knowledge in the industry of being able to get to that.

Larry Jordan: It sounds like you’re saying that the technology allows us to extend our creativity as opposed to simply altering the sound. Is that a true statement?

Starr Ackerman: Yes.

Larry Jordan: Now, are these audio filters or are these sample clips? What is it exactly that we’re getting and who are the customers for IK Multimedia?

Starr Ackerman: That’s a loaded question. … We have emulation products, so we… and then it sounds like whatever you want it to become, so plugging your car into your iPhone and then you can set a preset, for example, Jimi Hendrix, ‘All Along The Watchtower’ and then you have the exact same tone as that in AmpliTube. AmpliTube is one of the leading applications for Mac and PC for all guitar and bass players and it was brought to IOS. It was actually even on Steve Jobs’… keynote speech and showed the iPod to the world, AmpliTube was on his iPod when he showed it to the world.

Larry Jordan: Very cool.

Starr Ackerman: So it has fans. It’s been around a long time. It was the… gamer, so anyone can make these things and we really want to keep continuing…

Larry Jordan: One of the things that you guys were doing, you recently made some announcements about mobile technology. What are you doing there?

Starr Ackerman: Actually… is a leader in mobile technology. We have every connector and application available for musicians, broadcasters, podcasters etcetera. There are over 78 music creations and broadcasting applications from IK Multimedia just on IOS alone. Now we are making everything for the Android market as well because we solved the latency issue with the iRig UA.

Larry Jordan: Would you consider the products that you’re doing are designed for people who are getting into music and I want to say amateurs, for lack of a better word? Or is it for the high end market or do you span the spectrum?

Starr Ackerman: In the beginning, we were pro-audio. We’ve been in business for 19 years and so it was… to musicians… $500, $600 for an application that had maybe six or seven gigabytes of material samples that they could play through their Mac or PC and… software and we’re not talking about the software samples, like you asked before. Eminem … That was made with SampleTank, that’s one of our products. That was for Mac and PC and at the time SampleTank was $500. Now you can get SampleTank on your iPhone for 20 bucks and it has 500 sounds in it.

Larry Jordan: I was reflecting, the company’s been in business for 19 years and you’ve been doing music for a while. How has the business side of music, as opposed to the creative side, changed in your world over the last, say, five years? Can artists still make a living with music?

Starr Ackerman: Yes, artists can still make a living doing music, but you just have to achieve perfecting that art and keep trying and keep building. The most important thing… is that when you kick into the consumer side, it’s not just pro-audio any more so anyone with an iPhone or an iPad, an iPad touch or the Android can now make music.

Starr Ackerman: The software and hardware used to cost a lot of money. The inner cases are $400. The software… $500. Now it costs $20 for an app or it’s a free app and then the interface at the very lowest is $39 for an iRig, so guitar players plug in their songs – and the very first iPad commercial was someone playing their song with a guitar was iRig and AmpliTube. In that time, there have been over 25 million downloads of AmpliTube in the USA alone.

Larry Jordan: I was just thinking, in the controversy over the last week over Apple Music and its non-payment and ultimately payment of royalties, the business side and the amount of money that artists receive from streaming sites is so small on a per song basis that the way to make up for it is through volume, having lots of people listen to a song. But many artists aren’t high volume artists. What do you recommend they do to get their music heard so that they can earn a living? Or is it all just concerts?

Starr Ackerman: I believe in the power of creativity and sheer talent and if you really are good at what you do, you’re going to see every part of it. Some musicians out there, they’re just musicians and that’s all they can do, but some musicians out there have a little bit more sense and try to market themselves. Truly, playing out and getting yourself out there is the best way right now to be able to make a living at what you’re doing. Sales have definitely decreased, revenue overall. All the major record labels are, I don’t want to say anything bad about them, but it seems they’re not the moguls they were before. At this point, you have to think… you can make a lot of money.

Larry Jordan: There’s a wide spectrum of musicians that are recording and you’re on the electronic side and it ranges from that all the way back through traditional music. How important is it for musicians to keep up on the constantly changing technology? Or can you adopt a technology and stay with it for a while?

Starr Ackerman: The best thing for musicians to do now is to embrace technology for what it is. You have a computer in your pocket, it’s your phone. It is better than a computer that you had three years ago, a laptop. You also have the ability to plug into that phone any connector that you need and you can record and do everything and you can even use web applications with other people around the world to collaborate.

Starr Ackerman: You can upload it all through TuneCore and be your own record label and you can make your own money. You don’t even need a deal. You don’t have to have a middle man. You can call up the venue yourself, send them your demo or just one song and get a gig. They’re just waiting, people are booking… they’re just waiting for talent to come out. When I was doing… that’s what I did and we got booked every time.

Larry Jordan: And what projects are you working on next? What can we look forward to from a musical point of view from you?

Starr Ackerman: I recently got back into playing acoustic guitar because I… come up with some interesting… nice stuff and now I can just… in the iPhone and… and then just sit there and play and come up with ideas on the side; and then I will just play it and I’m like, “You know what? This is good.” I think I want to keep this and then build upon it so then I’ll take the audio out of that and I’ll go and I’ll create on top of that.

Starr Ackerman: When you have the technology available to you even if it’s just a short… or even just an…, which is a $40… your options are limitless. But creativity is all in the mind of the person and making music is all about your emotions, so wherever you are, mobility is key. If I’m in a hotel room or I’m in New York City walking down the street, as long as I have my phone, as long as I have a microphone in the back of my pocket… I’m already ready. I can do vocals.

Larry Jordan: Starr, what website can people go to to learn more?

Starr Ackerman: If you would like to know more about IK Multimedia products and music creation apps and accessories for Android, IOS, Mac and PC, please visit

Larry Jordan: That’s Starr Ackerman is with IK Multimedia. Starr, thanks for joining us.

Larry Jordan: Hi. I have an exciting new training bundle called The Craft of Production. In it, we cover interview techniques, how to use cameras to tell stories, how to pick microphones and record better audio and tips on lighting. Watch as we work on set and outdoors with actors and crew to show behind the scenes techniques you can put to work immediately.

Larry Jordan: See the difference camera framing makes, listen to different microphones to decide which sounds the best, learn better ways to ask questions and see how changing the lighting changes the emotion of your scene. More than four hours of in-depth practical production techniques and, even better, we’re bundling a session created by Norman Holland called ‘Get To Your First Cut.’ Norman is a world renowned feature film editor, as well as the head of the editing track at the USC Film School.

Larry Jordan: He shares his thoughts on how to get your production dailies ready to edit. I specifically selected these titles because they’re comprehensive, fun to watch and only available here. I enjoy teaching technology, but I really like showing technology in action as we put it to work in the real world. Get your copy of The Craft of Production here in my store.

Larry Jordan: James Castle Stevens is currently the Director of Marketing for my company, Larry Jordan Associates Inc, and The Digital Production Buzz. Prior to that, though, he spent 16 years in Los Angeles as a professional actor. He started by studying with notable instructors like F Murray Abraham and John de Lancie, but James soon started working on such television shows as ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation,’ ‘The Drew Carey Show,’ ‘The King of Queens’ and ‘Heroes.’ Welcome, James. Good to have you with us.

James Castle Stevens: It’s great to be here.

Larry Jordan: What do you consider the most valuable qualities for a successful actor?

James Castle Stevens: Tenacity is number one. We’re talking about acting, which is the art and the fun and the joy, and then there’s the business. They don’t call it show fun, they call it show business, so tenacity is number one, absolutely.

Larry Jordan: And coping with rejection, I’m sure, has got to be number two.

James Castle Stevens: Absolutely. You have to start to realize as an actor that you’re a product and that’s not to say that it can be that separate from yourself. You are a product but you’re also you, so you have to start to compartmentalize a little bit, realize that you’re selling a product, but at the same time be yourself. It’s an interesting balance act.

Larry Jordan: Well, one of the things that you have is a unique perspective because you’re both an actor and a director, especially working in theater as opposed to film and television. From an actor’s point of view, what makes a good director, say, for film and TV, casting back to your ‘Star Trek’ or ‘Heroes’ days?

James Castle Stevens: Jeez, yes, and of course it changes for everybody and it changes with every situation. For me, though, one of the best qualities that a director would have is letting you do what you do first, you know what I mean? They allow you to try something, allow you to do your best first choice. A lot of directors will come from different parts of the entertainment industry, like editors, for instance, or a writer and sometimes the writer has a very specific idea – this is how I want it to be, this is how I wrote it – and then they start directing and they’re not saying, “You know, hey, go play, show me something, show me what your first choice is.”

James Castle Stevens: They’re just, “This is how I want you to do it,” and they’ll just tell you right flat out, they’ll put you in a box right off the bat and it crushes all creativity. Usually the one quality I like the most is when they go, “Ok, this is nice and easy, let’s take it easy, let’s just go ahead and let’s play, let’s try this,” and then, of course, if they don’t get what they want, if they don’t get a good choice and now that they’ve seen something, they go, “Ok, I see what you did. Great, let’s try this then, let’s see if we can bring it into the world that I want you to bring it into rather than what you did yourself.”

Larry Jordan: One of the things that I’ve heard, although not always followed, is the admonition that directors should not give line readings. Why not?

James Castle Stevens: Yes. First of all because you’re kind of stepping on the actors’ bailiwick. This is his or her arena and by giving a line reading you’re basically saying, “Do it exactly like this,” which is kind of per what I was just saying before. Interpretation is incredibly important and if the director says, “Do it just like this,” you’ve just squelched all type of creativity out of the process. There’s more than that to this, obviously ego’s involved and things like that as well, but part of it is also that the director may not be the best person to give that line reading. You may do it exactly the way the directors asks and then the director will still be unsatisfied because it wasn’t necessarily a good reading.

Larry Jordan: In other words, the director may not be able to act.

James Castle Stevens: That does happen, yes.

Larry Jordan: Well, give me an example of a director that you’ve worked with that you enjoyed working with. What was their style that you liked?

James Castle Stevens: There are several. Jonathan Frakes on ‘Star Trek’ was a good example. He is a very fun-loving guy. You never got the impression that he took anything seriously, although obviously the job got done. He was doing ‘Star Trek,’ he did the movies after that, you’re doing eight days of work to get an hour program recorded and he’s working with all these actors and all these technical folks and the special effects that have to come afterward and all these considerations and it seems like he’s just having a ball. He’s joking and he’s laughing and he’s taking time to be silly and he’s encouraging goofiness on the set and you’re like, “How does anything get done”?

James Castle Stevens: But because first of all these are very professional folk and when it came time to do what you had to do, you got it done, and then let’s go enjoy ourselves. It made for a really, really enjoyable experience on the set. Another director I might mention would be Rob Schiller. He directs for sitcoms primarily and he’s really just affable, easygoing, soft spoken, not a screamer as is sometimes the case. Was just super nice, very kind and would come over and quietly whisper something to you to say, “You know, I’d like you to try something a little more like this,” and you really got the feeling that you were collaborating with him rather than just, “Hey, go. You’ve got to be louder, funnier,” you know? He was really, really intimate with it and it was very nice.

Larry Jordan: Now, you don’t necessarily need to name names, because I want to have you stayed employed in the industry, but where have directors been unhelpful?

James Castle Stevens: I’m thinking of someone in particular and if he ever watches this he’ll probably know I’m talking about him, because he’s a friend, he’s a very nice person off set, but he was very abrasive. He’s a yeller. He likes drama. He ran a set like a Greek wedding – a lot of screaming, a lot of emotions and, like a Greek wedding, probably a lot of love in there too – and if you were on the set for a long time, you knew this. You knew that it was just a lot of bark, not a lot of bite, and it was just the way he liked to work. It was very explosive, very emotional.

James Castle Stevens: But I didn’t find that to be very helpful to anybody who came on who was new, certainly if you were new to the industry. You were probably, “What is going on with this man? Why is he screaming at me?” and you came to realize, again, over time, it was just the way he worked. But, oh no, that’s not helpful. It’s not conducive to good work.

Larry Jordan: What are some other mistakes that are common that you’ve run into?

James Castle Stevens: One of the things that I find is a bigger problem is that often a director will have a very clear idea in their mind how they want the end result to be and they will start to basically tell you what the end result to be, they won’t give you a chance to explore those options – so kind of what we were talking about before – but they’ll tell you specifically. “By this moment or this line right here, I would like to see you get into this high point of emotionality.” Ok, that’s an end result but how do you want me to get there? Can we talk about the process, can we talk about what’s going on for this character at this moment? You’re saying you want this huge moment here, but we haven’t done any of the work to get there, and so it’s those things where the director is looking for the end result…

Larry Jordan: Wait, wait, wait, just stop there for a second.

James Castle Stevens: Sure.

Larry Jordan: I would have thought that setting the direction of where you want them to go would be much more helpful than, say, here’s the steps you take to get there, and it sounds like you’re saying just the opposite.

James Castle Stevens: Well, you don’t want to say, “Here’s the steps,” that’s the actor’s process, the actor’s going to have to find those steps for themselves, and if they talk about it from the script point of view, that is to say, “Right here there’s a transition, right here there’s a pivot point, right here you’re building up to this moment but then here’s where I think you have an epiphany, you understand what’s going on and then you make a transition,” that sort of thing, that’s great.

James Castle Stevens: But if they say, “I want you to be in tears, I need this here,” that’s a little awkward because really, if I were to take on that director’s point of view, it would be more, “Here are the stakes, here’s what’s going on for you, here is emotionally where you should be for me,” explaining the situation, “Your daughter is dying,” whatever the situation is, and really getting into the understanding of what the emotional content of the scene is, then let the actor do what they’re doing. If you build it up with the right emotional information, the actor will do the scene and they’ll get to that point and it’ll happen, it’ll actually happen. But if they’re thinking about it, if they’re in their head going, “Right here is the part I have to cry,” never going to happen. And if it does, it’ll be false.

Larry Jordan: Well, how would you contrast the ability of a television director – when you’ve only got eight days to do an hour’s show – versus a theatrical director, where you’ve got four or eight weeks? Is it unrealistic to assume that somebody who’s a filmmaker and trying to get that whole thing shot in a day can even do that kind of dramatic coaching?

James Castle Stevens: No, generally they don’t. Sitcom is sort of the mid ground, but you’re right, movies and hour shows, these are 16 hour days, there’s not a lot of coaching going on. Pretty much you got cast because you could do the job. If they thought you couldn’t, you wouldn’t have been cast, and you show up and they probably won’t give you coaching, you’ll do your best job and they’ll say, “Great, wrap. Next scene.” If they don’t say that, there’s a good chance you’ll get one note and if it’s going onto the third note, you’re probably about to be released. It’s a tough business.

James Castle Stevens: But sitcom is a longer form, it’s five days but it’s only a half hour show, they’re doing rehearsals. They’re rehearsing, like, a little mini play so you get a little bit of that theater experience, it can be a little looser. They’re doing it usually in front of a live audience and that sort of thing, so it’s kind of this hybrid; and then, yes, theater is you’re all chummy, you’re all having beers after rehearsals. It’s a lot more fun.

Larry Jordan: Today you’re actively involved in theater. Are you more interested in acting or directing?

James Castle Stevens: It’s changed. Toward the end of my professional acting career – because as you know I’m the Director of Marketing for your companies – I was kind of getting to the point where there were diminishing returns, you were going out for guest stars and series regular and now you’re going out for co-star and smaller roles again, and you go, “Mmm, I don’t want to do that. That’s not the route I want to go.” My daughter was born so, you know, you make a transition, you make a shift.

James Castle Stevens: But I have been directing theater because it’s something I can do, something I can do while also having a full time job, and it is joyful. So as much as I do enjoy acting still, and I still gladly perform in a show, directing is the whole enchilada. It allows me to explore all of those performances plus the technical plus the direction of the… It’s very exciting.

Larry Jordan: Are you a good director or a bad director?

James Castle Stevens: You’d have to ask the actors I work with.

Larry Jordan: James, thanks for joining us today. James Castle Stevens is an actor and a director, also the Director of Marketing…

Voiceover: This is Tech Talk from the Digital Production Buzz.

Larry Jordan: I’m a big fan of Adobe Audition, as you know. We can send project video to Audition via dynamic link, so let’s go back to this project. Let us pretend that Dr. Surf is a fully edited project and we’re ready to do the sound mix. We can do the mix inside Premiere, but Premiere’s mixer is essentially a clip mixer, it’s not a track mixer and we don’t have access to all the wonderful tools we have inside Audition. But we could send the project over before, that has been around for a long time, but then we’d have to do a separate export of the video and compress the video and now it’s all really easy.

Larry Jordan: Select the project, go up to ‘edit,’ go down to ‘edit in Adobe Audition’ and select ‘sequence.’ Notice we’re giving it a name – we’ll call it Morph Cut. There used to be four choices here where we would have to create a video, but we don’t have to do that anymore, that’s done automatically. We’re going to send the entire sequence through Dynamic Link. What Dynamic Link means is that we no longer need to render the video, export the video, generate the video. Audition’s going to work with the exact same video files that Premiere uses, it’s going to treat it as though it’s editing the video in Premiere; and now when I click ‘ok,’ watch what happens – it automatically says do you want to do it? I did it before, so I’m getting rid of it.

Larry Jordan: It exports the file, it starts Audition, it loads the audio into Audition and it’s automatically got the video file as a single piece of video. We don’t even see the clips up here and we can now do our mixing until we are happy and then, to send our file back to Premiere, we go up to ‘multi track,’ go down to ‘export to Adobe Premiere Pro.’ We can then decide that we want to export each track as a stem, we can mix the entire project down to a mono file, a stereo file or a surround file or all three, have it automatically open Premiere and ask where do we want to place the audio file?

Larry Jordan: This round-tripping between Premiere and Audition is smoother than it has ever been and what Adobe has done is take the hardest part of the process, which is creating the standalone video file and making sure it’s synced to audio, that’s now automatic in Dynamic Link. No rendering, no exporting, just click. Really smooth.

Voiceover: This Tech Talk was shared from Larry Jordan’s website at

Larry Jordan: Cinematographer Cullie Poseria loves creating unique and emotional images with lighting and camerawork. She’s focused on developing an organized, creative and collaborative approach to her filmmaking which fits in well with the collaboration between actor and director that we were just discussing. Hello, Cullie, welcome.

Cullie Poseria: Hi Larry, how are you?

Larry Jordan: We are having fun here today. It’s good to have you with us. What first attracted you to cinematography?

Cullie Poseria: I guess the first time I was interested in cinematography was probably when my dad took me to an IMAX film up in Cleveland when I was a little kid and we had gone to see a National Geographic film about natural wonders and it was a really immersive experience and, when I was watching the film, all I could think was, “Wow! This is amazing. How did they film this? Where did they go? How did they make this film?” and at that time I had no idea what a cinematographer was.

Cullie Poseria: But then later on, my dad was into photography and he bought me a point and shoot camera and I practiced taking pictures and once I got into high school I got a little interested in doing art so I thought, “Ok, what can I do that would be part of my creative side but then still be able to make a living off of that?” and then I learned about filmmaking and cinematography and I took a leap and applied to film school. So I had no previous film experience before going to film school.

Larry Jordan: Where did you go to school?

Cullie Poseria: I went to New York University. I did… film and TV program.

Larry Jordan: Yes, I know that program very well. As you are doing your work, do you find yourself more interested in camerawork or lighting?

Cullie Poseria: Oh, that’s a tough one, I like both so much. I think it’s a little bit of both because each cinematographer I’ve worked with or met personally coming up through the ranks, they each have their strong suit. One usually comes up through camera, one comes up through lighting, but part of that is the collaborative process and so you’re part of the team and you’re looking over everything but the reason you have gaffer, for example, would be maybe you’re strong at camera, so you make sure you get a strong gaffer so that you can have someone push you in the lighting and steer you for certain things that you may not know; whereas some DPs who are strong at lighting will get a really strong first AC, assistant cameraman.

Cullie Poseria: I’ve enjoyed both, I’ve AC’d and I’ve gaffed and I can’t really pick one of the departments over the other. That’s why I want to be a cinematographer.

Larry Jordan: I had a chance to watch your Skyler Reed video, and we’ll talk about that in just a minute, but before we do, how would you describe your style?

Cullie Poseria: I would describe my style as somewhat experimental. I like to film dramatic and dark films. The short films that I’ve worked on have had some really personal stories but then dark emotional characters in them, so we’ve gone to shoot and kind of pushed the cameras into the darks and seen how much they could handle. Since most of the stuff I’ve done has been digital, you can only go so far before it becomes noisy or you lose the ability to… adjust it in post.

Cullie Poseria: I guess my style is more a dark style. I like really contrasting stuff, but that’s just what I’ve done most of. Actually, the Skyler Reed project was very different for me. That was a project where she came to me and said, “I want to have scenes that are really bright and somewhat nostalgic,” and I said, “Ok, tell me more,” and then we came up with the idea of flashback scenes that had a really bright window light pouring through the scene.

Cullie Poseria: So that wasn’t necessarily what I’ve worked on what I immediately get attracted to, but I figured that the project sounded great and part of being a cinematographer is working with a director and adjusting your style or approach to what they need for the project, so that’s why the project was exciting to me. It was really different to some of the stuff that I had worked on and gave me a chance to mess around with some lighting that I hadn’t really done a lot of.

Larry Jordan: You mentioned that you tend to like dark scenes and stuff where lighting is much more an element of the film itself. Was that something that evolved on its own or have you adopted this from looking at other films? In other words, what’s influenced your style?

Cullie Poseria: I think it’s a little bit of both. We got to shoot 16 millimeter in school, which allowed us to really work with a bigger dynamic range than some of the digital cameras at the time. Digital cameras in the past three years have come so far in how much dynamic range they can handle, from the highlights to the darks, so people have more ability to light into the dark or into the brightness too.

Cullie Poseria: I would say that it’s partly from watching films like Apocalypse Now, which has some really contrasting dark or very stylized scenes. There are so many different films and cinematographers that I like who have influenced me, but then – like I said before – I don’t necessarily want to limit myself, because I’m so early in my career and that’s why I want to take on more projects like Skyler’s, where I can keep adapting my style and changing with the cameras and the medium.

Larry Jordan: Thinking of cameras, do you have a favorite camera? Is there one that works especially well in low light situations?

Cullie Poseria: I would say film in certain instances, but I was actually surprised. Some of the Canon cameras are actually pretty good in low light situations. There’s a camera that they have called a 1DC, which is one of their 4K DSLR cameras. There’s a website called and one of the DPs who runs that site had done a test with that camera against a RED, Sony cameras, other Canon cameras including the C300 and other production level cameras, and that camera actually surprisingly did really well in a candlelight test and it had a very low noise ratio and so I want to do a little bit more with that camera in low light.

Cullie Poseria: But other than that, I think it’s more about when knowing how to light when you’re shooting in low light. Whatever camera you have shouldn’t feel limited. I know that, for example, Blackmagic just came out with a new camera and some of the issues that they had with their previous camera versions was that the ISO doesn’t go over 1600, I think, without getting really noisy. So whatever camera you have, it’s about learning how to light so you can get the most out of that sensor.

Cullie Poseria: To answer your question, I don’t have a favorite camera for low light. It’s more about knowing what gear you have and knowing how to get the most out of it. I’ve shot with RED and Canon and Sony cameras and even ARRI cameras as well, but it’s just about knowing the dynamic range and how many stops you can go down before you’re just going to hit the noise floor. That’s probably not the best answer. If I gave you a straightforward answer, like “This is the camera to use for low light,” someone would come around and say, “No, no, no, there’s this camera,” or some manufacturer would call me up and say, “Why did you say that?”

Larry Jordan: When you were shooting Skyler Reed, what was your goal in terms of lighting? And what gear did you use to shoot that particular video?

Cullie Poseria: We used a Canon C300, the Mark I. They’ve just had a Mark II come out, but it was the previous one.

Larry Jordan: Did you spend a lot of time with lighting or were you working with natural light? I know many of the scenes were outside rather than inside, but did you have a lot of light gear with you?

Cullie Poseria: For all the interior stuff, we supplemented daylight. We did get a full lighting kit with Kino Flos and tungsten… and with the exterior stuff, it just depended. Most of it was just bounce board or using natural light, but I think the key to that was all of the locations that we had, we did location scouts. I myself did multiple location scouts to a few of the locations, just to know what time of day we should be scheduling things, what kind of light we would.

Cullie Poseria: There’s a scene where we’re under a dock at Manhattan Beach and we went there in the morning but then I was like, “You know, if the sun was over there near the horizon, then we would get more light under the stock and also it would be really nice because it would be giving you a nice backlight,” so that’s what we factored in when we were scheduling. Because we were such a low budget production, we couldn’t really have a whole full production on the beach or get a permit for Manhattan Beach and get lights over there and all that other stuff.

Cullie Poseria: Some of our locations were like that, where we just had a bounce in there just to fill her a little bit and we relied on natural light and just trying to get the shots that we needed and then moving on to the other location so we wouldn’t lose this type of sunlight we needed for that location.

Larry Jordan: As you look back on your shoots, do you remember the good parts or the stuff that didn’t turn out so well? Which sticks in your head the most?

Cullie Poseria: Actually, for this shoot, there wasn’t really anything bad about it. This shoot was extremely smooth. I would say there would not be any bad parts that I remember. I don’t even know what the hardest thing about the actual music video shoot was. It was really smooth. We planned everything as much as we could, did as much pre-production as we possibly could and then we made sure we hired people who knew what they were doing.

Cullie Poseria: Even though it was a low budget shoot, the most important part was to hire people who you knew would show up and do a good job and you won’t necessarily have to coach them to do their job. But I think probably the hardest part about our shoot was trying to get extras. We had a couple of scenes where we wanted more extras, for example the park scene. If you watch the music video, there’s a scene where there are people trying to hustle in the park – one girl’s selling CDs and another guy’s selling flowers or whatever they’re doing in the park – and they’re supposed to be scattered throughout and Skyler Reed, the musician, is supposed to be singing and they’re all on their own hear her singing, get attracted to her voice and come to her and listen, because that’s her hustle, is singing, trying to make money on the street singing, and so I think that was the hardest scene because we didn’t have enough people to make it look like a lot of people.

Cullie Poseria: I know that usually when you get a good AP and you have a small room or something you can make it look like a lot of people by having people pass the camera multiple times or placing them so you see a different side of their face or have them change their shirt, small stuff like that, but we were shooting in a park. That was probably the most difficult thing. We only had eight extras, what do we do? We don’t have a huge group. But it looks fine to me and I think it was almost more realistic, that we didn’t have a huge crowd come and be attracted to her voice. It feels like this is more real, two or three people getting interested. It’s not necessarily a huge crowd, so it probably was for the better. So I remember the good stuff.

Larry Jordan: Thinking about that, in the little bit of time we’ve got left, how do you get involved with post? Are you involved with the editing at all and do you get involved with color correction, or does the color grade go to the director?

Cullie Poseria: In low budget productions, I’ve been asked to do the color correction on a few projects, but I don’t generally color correct. I have been dabbling with it a little bit and I do have experience color correcting on a couple of projects, but for Skyler’s I actually ended up doing the color correction because we couldn’t find someone who fit. I don’t know as many people here in LA as I do in New York and so I was posting on Mandy looking for someone to color correct with. I don’t know, I just ended up saying, “You know what? I’ll just do it for you, because we don’t really have the budget to pay someone super professional to do it,” and we just didn’t find the right person in that low budget range.

Larry Jordan: And Cullie, what website can people go to to learn more about your work?

Cullie Poseria: My website is and then /cpdp. But you should go to Larry Jordan’s website and get my website off of there.

Larry Jordan: Cullie, thanks very much for joining us. Cullie Poseria is a cinematographer and you can see her website at Cullie, thanks for joining us today.

Cullie Poseria: Thank you so much. Have a good day.

Larry Jordan: Take care. Bye bye. Ah! It’s been a heck of a show and I want to thank our guests for today. We started with Starr Ackerman, musician and gear guru, and then James Castle Stevens, the actor, and Cullie Poseria, cinematographer; and, of course, Randi Altman, the Editor in Chief of

Larry Jordan: There’s lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website at Here you’ll find thousands of interviews, all searchable, all online and all available.

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Digital Production Buzz – June 25, 2015

Join Larry Jordan and Mike Horton as they talk with Starr Ackerman, James Stevens and Cullie Poseria.

  • Audio Gear To Make Your Music Sing!
  • Directing from an Actor’s Point of View
  • Behind the Scenes of Successful Cinematography

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Guests this Week

Starr Ackerman
Starr Ackerman, PR & AR Manager, USA/CA/SA, IK Multimedia
Starr Ackerman is a musician, as well as a Public Relations and Artist Relations Manager for music production software and hardware companies, including IK Multimedia and Musician First. She joins us tonight to showcase all the latest digital and mobile technology for music, podcasting and network audio.
James Stevens
James Castle Stevens, Director of Marketing, Larry Jordan & Associates, Inc.,
James Castle Stevens is currently the Director of Marketing for Larry Jordan & Associates, Inc. and the Digital Production BuZZ. Prior to that, he spent 16 years in Los Angeles as a professional actor. He started by studying with notable instructors like F. Murray Abraham and John de Lancie, but James soon started working on such television shows as Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Drew Carey Show, The King of Queens, and Heroes. He joins us tonight with his actor’s take on directors: How can the director’s style affect the quality of the acting?
Cullie Poseria
Cullie Poseria, Cinematographer
Cullie Poseria is a young, leading-edge cinematographer with a love of movement and lighting who works on music videos and independent films. Tonight, she shares the behind-the-scenes stories from one of her latest projects: Skyler Reed’s “I’m Doin It.”

Transcript: Digital Production Buzz – June 18, 2015

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Digital Production Buzz

June 18, 2015

[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]

(Click here to listen to this show.)

Larry Jordan & Mike Horton


Randi Altman, Industry Analyst and Editor

Philip Hodgetts, President, Lumberjack System

Curtis Fritsch, Sound Editor, AlphaDogs

Marco Missinato, Composer & Music Producer, Sounds of Oneness


Larry Jordan: Hi, we have a fascinating show for you tonight, on The Buzz.  We start with Philip Hodgetts, the CEO of Intelligent Assistance.  Recently, Philip was challenged to take everything he needed for production in one suitcase, for an international flight.  Tonight, Philip brings that suitcase and shows us the gear that went into it.

Larry Jordan: Then, Curtis Fritsch is the Supervising Sound Editor for Alpha Dogs.  Putting together an international audio mix for distribution can be tricky and tonight, Curtis shows us what we need to know when creating an international NME.

Larry Jordan: Then, Italian born Composer and Music Producer, Marco Missinato believes that beautiful music can change the world.  Tonight he shows how the right music can change the emotions of your project.

Larry Jordan: And industry renowned Analyst and Editor, Randi Altman, joins us with her perspective on the news.  The Buzz starts now.

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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.  Welcome back Mike, it’s good to see you again.

Michael Horton: It’s good to be here Larry. 

Larry Jordan: It’s been an exciting week.  You may not have noticed because you were busy prepping for the super meet-up; but there’s a lot of news out of Adobe, if you paid attention.

Michael Horton: Yes, and guess what I did?

Larry Jordan: What did you do?

Michael Horton: I installed it. 

Larry Jordan: And what happened? 

Michael Horton: And I forgot to actually read about installing it.  I just installed it; and what did it do?

Larry Jordan: What did it do?

Michael Horton: It installs over your other apps and gets rid of them.  All my 2014s, gone.

Larry Jordan: It figures you don’t need them anymore.

Michael Horton: Well I didn’t really need them, but I was still was like, CS6 gone.

Larry Jordan: Gone?

Michael Horton: Everything’s gone.  There’s now nothing but 2015.

Larry Jordan: It’s really trying to make your life easier Mike.

Michael Horton: Which says, you should really read the ‘Read Me.’

Larry Jordan: There is a checkbox, when you are doing the installation; that when it is checked by default; that will automatically erase everything that’s there.  You don’t want to check that.  You want to uncheck that checkbox.  Did you do it?

Michael Horton: I read that after I did that; so thank you Larry.

Larry Jordan: By the way, there’s a bunch of other things you need to pay attention to.  There’s some issues with After Effects plug-ins; so most of them are working fine but there’s a few that are not and Adobe has already promised a fix coming in July; so, before you upgrade to the latest version of After Effects, be sure that you see if your plug-ins are compatible.  I’ve been getting notices all week, from companies, saying, we work fine or you’ve got to do something else.

Michael Horton: Yes, Cornell doesn’t work either.

Larry Jordan: No.  By the way, Adobe After Effects project files, in their 2015 version, are identical to the 2014 version; so you can share files between people working with AE 2014 or 2015; but you can’t do that with Premiere.

Michael Horton: Really?

Larry Jordan: Yes, Premiere’s files are totally different.

Michael Horton: Read the ‘Read Me.’

Larry Jordan: It really helps.  Tonight, by the way, I’m excited to announce something brand new.  We’ve wanted to cover current news on The Buzz for a while and we’ve finally figured out the best possible way to do it.  I’m delighted to introduce a regular news segment called Perspective, with Randi Altman.

Announcer #1: This is Randi Altman’s Perspective.

Larry Jordan: Randi Altman has been writing about the post-production industry for more than 20 years; for much of that she was an Editor, then Editor-in-Chief of Post Magazine.  Now she runs her own website,  As a noted Industry Analyst, she reports on what’s new, what’s important and why the rest of us should care.  Hello Randi, welcome.

Randi Altman: Hi Larry, thanks for having me. 

Larry Jordan: It is a delight to have you with us.  What’s the big news this week? 

Randi Altman: Well, I think that everyone is talking about the new releases from Adobe, their Creative Cloud 2015.  This is stuff that they previewed before NAB and it’s actually a real thing now; so there’s a lot of updates, a lot of excitement.

Larry Jordan: One of the things they’ve done is, they’ve spent a lot of time improving the performance; especially of Premiere.  They’ve totally rewritten the engine under the hood and they’ve done a lot of stuff with After Effects.  What are you hearing in the industry?  Are people pleased with the changes?

Randi Altman: Absolutely.  I’ve been seeing, over the last few years, since they introduced the Mercury Engine, I think that people started taking Premiere more seriously.  I think that the pro part of the name was embraced.  You’ve seen a ton of people adopting it and I think, this new release is taking it a step further; they can now do color within Premiere.  You’ve got new workspaces, depending on you want to work.  There’s more collaboration allowed, which was a big hit from people who especially were working with Media Composer and wanting to work in collaborative environments.  So, across the board, I’ve been hearing some very good things.

Larry Jordan: But it’s more than just Adobe making news this week.  What are you covering in your current issue of the Post Perspective newsletter?

Randi Altman: Try to get behind the title; it’s one of our big features.  No-one does exactly what their title says; so, that’s a big deal for us, is getting past the name and the title and finding out what they do on a daily basis and getting to know the personalities.  We spoke to … who just started at Argaman Animation in the UK; so we get to know her a bit.  She’s actually Finnish but living in the UK.

Randi Altman: Another big story that we reported on is Sync Sound in New York.  They are a longstanding audio post-production studio, working in television; and back in 1997, they started a film post-production studio called Digital Cinema.  This week they sold that off to Warner Brothers; so, now Warner Brothers has an actual studio in New York City.

Larry Jordan: Which is pretty amazing when you think about it.  As you’re doing your interviews, what’s your goal in the interview; what are you trying to find out? 

Randi Altman: Trying to dig a little deeper.  I want to get to know people on a personal level.  I think that, this industry is based on personality and relationships and if everybody’s sort of always on their guard, you never really get to know them; so, sometimes I’ll ask silly questions, that might appear silly.  It revokes really personal answers and shows us their character and their personality.

Larry Jordan: What’s one of the things you discovered this week, that the rest of us need to pay attention to?

Randi Altman: I would say virtual reality; immersive entertainment.  I’m actually a believer and many others are as well; so this week we found, not only Lucas Film and ILM jumping onboard and announcing a new studio targeted at this, but also Deluxe as well.  So we’ve got two pretty big players in the industry that are now embracing VR and augmented reality.

Larry Jordan: Randi, I could talk to you forever, but instead what I’m going to do is to invite you to come back and let’s pick up our discussion next week and discover more about what’s happening in the industry from your perspective.  Randi, thanks for joining us today.

Randi Altman: Thanks Larry, anytime.  Take care.

Michael Horton: To read more from Randi Altman, visit

Larry Jordan: Our friends at Other World Computing are looking for a creative fan made commercial; so they’re hosting a video contest with an incredible grand prize, a dream video workstation.  This prize package includes a 2013 Apple Mac Pro and a 4K display; an Avid Artist Transport Console and Color Control Surface.  A 16 terabyte OWC ThunderBay 4, a GoPro Hero and more.  The whole package is worth over $12,000.  Whether you’re a seasoned pro, shooting with high end gear, or a newcomer shooting with your iPhone, now you can show off your video-making talent in a 30-60 second commercial about OWC.

Larry Jordan: The deadline for entries is June 30th, so start shooting.  Visit for all the details.  That’s  Don’t miss out. 

Larry Jordan:  Philip Hodgetts is the CEO of Intelligent Assistance and Lumberjack System and is involved in the technology of virtually every area of digital production and post-production.  He’s also a regular contributor to The Buzz.  As always, welcome back Philip.

Philip Hodgetts: Thank you.  First time in this studio.

Larry Jordan: Yes, it’s a delight.  Isn’t it cool?  It gets better every time we get in here.

Michael Horton: Every week there’s just less problems isn’t there?

Larry Jordan: The thing I like is, we’re doing a whole bunch of new stuff today; not only the stuff we’re doing in your segment, but the Randi Altman segment; I’m thrilled about it.  She’s so excited about working with us.  We’ve got a product demo coming up later.  There’s some really cool things that The Buzz is evolving into; and I remember, you ran it for five years before I even got involved in it.

Philip Hodgetts: Only two years Larry, it’s been your show for a lot longer than it’s been mine.

Larry Jordan: It was a longer than that.

Philip Hodgetts: No, it ran onto the end of the DV guys, which ran for five years; 2000-2005.

Michael Horton: We only did it for two years?

Randi Altman: Just a bit over two and a half.

Michael Horton: Really?

Randi Altman: Yes.

Larry Jordan: Seems longer.

Michael Horton: Oh boy.

Randi Altman: Yes, well you spend every week with me Michael and it just seems longer.

Michael Horton: Well we used to do it at the Maytag Museum in summertime; no air-conditioning.

Larry Jordan: No air conditioning I remember.  I was participating in some of those shows and that is hot.  Yes, it was hot.  One of the things that you recently got yourself challenged with is to go on an international trip and take as little gear as possible.  What was the impetus behind what we’re about to talk about, which is how to shoot production with absolutely no gear?

Philip Hodgetts: Well, it really goes back to 2012, when I was trying to do the Solar Odyssey Project.  I started focusing then on trying to solve the problem of no grip truck, no space, no time and there are a lot of really interesting challenges around that.  I became fascinated with the concept of how small a production can I create and still maintain a level of quality that I’m happy with.

Larry Jordan: So you ended up with a steamer trunk, which is about five feet across and about 1500 pounds right?

Philip Hodgetts: Something like that; except for, maybe not quite that big.

Larry Jordan: Oh yes, put your money where your mouth is.  No way.

Michael Horton: Let’s get a close-up on that.

Philip Hodgetts: So hands, you know, for relative size.

Larry Jordan: Now you’ve actually got production gear in there, it’s not just extra pair of socks?

Philip Hodgetts: No, that is production gear.

Larry Jordan: Flip it on the side, because you managed to make your face disappear; and let’s start to take a look at the stuff inside.

Philip Hodgetts: Well alright, let me perhaps put it down on the side.

Larry Jordan: That would be probably a good idea.

Philip Hodgetts: I could do Mary Poppins.

Michael Horton: Just make it appear.

Philip Hodgetts: Bring the pole out, yes.

Larry Jordan: As long as you don’t sing at the same time.

Philip Hodgetts: Well, I took some gear that I thought, you know, maybe if I had a need for it.  This trip I focused on GoPros.

Larry Jordan: How come?

Philip Hodgetts: Well, because the size.  I mean, let’s face it.

Larry Jordan: Yes, but a GoPro is an extreme fisheye lens; it’s not what you would use for any kind of talking head images.

Michael Horton: It does have a switch on it.

Philip Hodgetts: Yes, this is the interesting thing is that, yes, there are certain modes and the GoPros now have so many different modes, that you have to really learn which modes give you the best result.  Well, if you’re in 1080p mode, 1080p 30, with a Hero Black 4, you can adjust the angle from the default very wide, to a medium to a narrow.  The narrow is still a fairly wide lens, but it’s not the super extreme wide angle that you would expect to see and that you get as  a default setting in 4K.

Larry Jordan: Are you still getting the spherical collaboration; the strange curves to straight lines, even when you go to the tighter shot?

Philip Hodgetts:  A little bit yes, but nowhere near as severe as it is with the extreme wide.

Michael Horton: But there are plug-ins.

Philip Hodgetts: Yes, there’s any number of plug-ins, in pretty much any host, that you can just reverse that back out and you can apply it into the clip level in Final Cut X; so that you can have, every use of the clip from that point on is corrected.

Larry Jordan: Okay, so in your hand you’re holding a GoPro; but on your table is what?

Philip Hodgetts: These are some GoPro accessories that I took with me, thinking that my default mount, which I’ll come to in a moment, may not work; so, of course, you know, the classic.  I guess it’s not self-adhesive.

Larry Jordan: Suction device.

Philip Hodgetts: Suction device, thank you yes; and the handgrip that has an extension; so you can do an extension off that.

Larry Jordan: Show me the third one.

Philip Hodgetts: This one?

Larry Jordan: That one, yes.

Philip Hodgetts: This is a very neat little extension that you can add onto the handgrip.

Michael Horton: What, is that like for selfies?

Philip Hodgetts: Well, you could use it for selfies and, of course, this is very cute because, in the base, you have a little mini tripod.

Michael Horton: Really?

Larry Jordan: Oh, look at that.

Michael Horton: Oh, Kim Kardashian would love that.

Philip Hodgetts: And you can just screw that back in there, yes and end up with something that’s extremely unstable; until you put the screws in and everything.

Larry Jordan: So you need a little sand cushion to keep it nailed down.

Philip Hodgetts: Yes you do.  So that was one of my options and this also creates a handgrip.  Well, I didn’t actually need to use that, nor the suction grip; because the, the default that I thought I would use, turns out to be a very good choice.

Larry Jordan: Well, now while you’re digging it out, Grant in our live chat is saying that, “I got away with a trip pod and a Pelican case for a two week production in Wichita.  Oh, and a laptop bag too.”  So I guess he took three bags to do what you’re doing in one bag.

Philip Hodgetts: And I didn’t take a laptop but I did take an iPad.

Michael Horton: What did you say; a trip pod?

Larry Jordan: A trip pod.

Michael Horton: What is a trip pod?

Larry Jordan: I don’t know, he hasn’t spelled it out; I’m just reading what’s here in the live chat.

Michael Horton: Maybe it’s a tripod instead of a Trip Pod.  It was a typo.

Larry Jordan: Well, he could be from Australia; you know, Australia does have spelling challenges.

Philip Hodgetts: Yes.  Well the moment you can get away without not taking a tripod or a trip pod.

Larry Jordan: Grant, will you just tell us whether it’s a trip pod or a tripod; because it’s trip pod here.

Michael Horton: it’s an Aussie tripod.

Larry Jordan: So what else we got?

Michael Horton: Oh, lookout, look at all that.

Philip Hodgetts: These are such a flexible mount.

Michael Horton: Oh these are like your trip pods or you could turn them into a trip pod.

Philip Hodgetts: They’re just a basic gooseneck.

Michael Horton: Oh, is that right?

Philip Hodgetts: Yes.

Michael Horton: Oh cool.

Larry Jordan: They bend?

Philip Hodgetts: Yes, they bend every which way.

Larry Jordan: Oh, look at that.  Just move slower.  Our camera guy’s going nuts trying to follow you.

Michael Horton: Why do we need these things?

Philip Hodgetts: Well, because, there’s always a convenient coffee table or chair.  Getting back to the purpose of the video, I was recording a family history video; I was wanting to document the history of my family, well, before frankly it’s too late to document it.

Larry Jordan: Grant is yet to define what a trip pod is; but he says that he needs a good zoom and focus, so he couldn’t use the GoPro.

Philip Hodgetts: Of course and you have to acknowledge that there are horses for courses, as we say; there is appropriate video tools for appropriate purposes. I was travelling by myself, I was logging it, I was organizing the interview, I was shooting the interview, I was doing the interview; so clearly I’m not operating cameras as a fully fledged camera operator; so it had to be a system that let me set it up and forget it.  I set one camera closer and narrower and the other a little further back and a little wider.

Larry Jordan: How far apart from side to side?

Philip Hodgetts: Oh, not very far at all.  You know, typically set up, one camera would be about here and the other camera would be about there, in actual location.

Larry Jordan: And they were both mounted on chairs or something to get them up?

Philip Hodgetts: Chairs, coffee tables.

Larry Jordan: Whatever was available.

Philip Hodgetts: Whatever was available. For example, you know, I could simply set up a camera here; go like that and then bring that around.

Larry Jordan: Oh my goodness, it’s like a camera erector ….

Michael Horton: Well, the nice thing about these things, especially when you’re interviewing family, these things are not intimidating.

Philip Hodgetts: No.  Now in fact, the only thing that’s intimidating is that they flash blue lights for the Wi-Fi network and they flash red lights for when they’re recording and that can be a little intimidating for a family that’s not used to it.  You can also use these to go across a table; so, at least in one situation, the chair was on the opposite side of the table, but the gooseneck came across; so the camera was still in fairly close.

Larry Jordan: Oh, look at this.

Michael Horton: Forgive me; but how do you frame with these little guys?

Philip Hodgetts: Ah, well, you see, that’s why you need an iOS or an android device, because one is paired to my phone and one is paired to my iPad.

Larry Jordan: So you’re using the iPad as the monitor for the camera.

Philip Hodgetts: Correct, yes.  They have a relatively low quality preview … frame it and adjust the settings in real time and remote start and stop.

Larry Jordan: Grant apologizes that he was actually trying to type tripod; it was not an Australian spelling.  But Mike, I’m going to ask you a question, because I know production is your life.  As you look at the stuff on the table, what is the one thing that’s missing, that would be necessary to record an interview?

Michael Horton: A microphone?

Larry Jordan: You are so quick, you know.

Michael Horton: Thank you.

Larry Jordan: There’s just no grass growing under your chair.

Philip Hodgetts: You need to carry two microphones, because it’s always a possibility, as it turned out, it happened, some of my relatives may have wanted to be interviewed together; I thought maybe Husband and Wife.  But, as it turns out, two of my Cousins wanted to work together; so I carried two of my Zoom H1N.

Michael Horton: Oh those things are cool.

Philip Hodgetts: Yes, which are under $100.

Larry Jordan: Now those are the Zoom H1N?

Philip Hodgetts: Yes.

Larry Jordan: Yes, those are nice and those are single channel or stereo?

Philip Hodgetts: No, it’s two channel and Wi-Fi also.

Michael Horton: But you use those don’t you, or use a bigger ….?

Larry Jordan: I use the bigger one, the four.

Philip Hodgetts: Yes, the four is very much more common, because it’s got more features and takes the XLR.

Larry Jordan: And it has lights, blinking lights.  Blinking lights are really important.

Philip Hodgetts: This is very dull, it doesn’t have a lot of blinking lights at all; and, of course, the ubiquitous lapel microphone.

Larry Jordan: What brand?

Philip Hodgetts: This is an el-cheapo off Amazon and I’d have to look up the exact model number.  But it’s about $24.99.

Larry Jordan: Seriously?  You did no research, you just said, I’ll get the cheapest one and you flick the button.

Philip Hodgetts: Well, frankly, we’re recording voice.  It’s hard to get a microphone that doesn’t do a decent job of recording voice in quiet environments.

Larry Jordan: Now, let me disagree with that, because we have in fact been doing some interesting tests, recording voice with different microphones; and you’ll actually see a demo of this later in the show.  We are comparing ten different microphones and it’s fascinating to us, as we were doing it, just how much difference there was in audio quality as we switched between mikes.

Michael Horton: Yes, honestly, some of them make you sound like a Munchkin in the ‘Wizard of Oz.’

Larry Jordan: I’m not at all diminishing the quality of the mike that you’ve got here, but it is not a true statement to say that all lavaliers sound similar.

Philip Hodgetts: No, that was probably an exaggeration.  But, let me reframe that.  It’s possible to get a good enough quality.  I mean, all we’re really trying to do, at this point, is get a clean recording of somebody’s recollection and somebody’s memory and with them on camera, so that future generations can see the person talking, see the person telling their story, telling their memories.

Philip Hodgetts: Maybe because I’ve got a few years older and some of my relatives are getting to that point where I may not see them in the future, that I’ve become more keen on capturing these memories.

Larry Jordan: No I agree.  When my Dad was older than yours is and I was very proud to get an interview with him five year before he died and it was audio only; but it was just a huge chance for us to talk about how he looked back on his life; so I totally agree with that.

Philip Hodgetts: These are sold on Amazon as a replacement for a Sennheiser radio mike lapel microphone; that’s how I found it.

Michael Horton: That’s a good marketing thing.

Philip Hodgetts: Yes and a second one takes no space, with spare batteries and so on, in there.

Larry Jordan: Okay, how about lighting?

Philip Hodgetts: Lighting, I did carry the entire time.  I carried a Litepanels Croma, which is nice, because it’s got the dual color.  If we just turn it on a little bit.

Larry Jordan: Oh that’s right, dual means it could be daylight or tungsten.

Philip Hodgetts: Yes.

Michael Horton: Oh nice.

Philip Hodgetts: However, I carried this for the entire two weeks of the trip and used it for five minutes; on one of the very last interview, the night before I left.

Larry Jordan: No way?  Did you find it helpful, when you used it?

Philip Hodgetts: On that one interview, it definitely did, otherwise, light would have been a little too over the head and the Gorilla pod is the mount for the light mount.

Larry Jordan: What does it use for batteries?

Philip Hodgetts: Just regular old AA batteries that you can get anywhere in the world.

Michael Horton: Even in Australia.

Philip Hodgetts: Even in Australia; at the supermarket.

Larry Jordan: That is so cool.

Philip Hodgetts: Yes, and that’s a really nice light; it’s not too heavy.

Larry Jordan: Did you have to deal with backlight too much?  I mean, how did the GoPros handle contrast?

Philip Hodgetts: The GoPros don’t handle contrast brilliantly; fortunately, I’m smart enough to work out where the light is and where I position people and chairs and tables are not hard to move around.  And so I made sure that curtains were closed, if they were going to be anywhere near the shot; that dogs were harnessed and moved out of the room, except with one of my Cousins, the dogs became a feature of the interview; and positioned, generally, so that the light was facing the direction of the camera, so that we were working with the light rather than against the light.

Michael Horton: Were you reviewing the sound and the picture every day or did you do that when you got home?

Philip Hodgetts:  I did spot checks, where I could; but I know this gear, I know what I’m getting, what I have seen in the past.  The one thing that I don’t have with me, because I borrowed it, I was using a Nexto DI, I think it is, which is an automatic offload device; that takes the cards and automatically backs it up onto a hard drive.

Larry Jordan: Now Grant again is a wonderful counterpoint to what you’re saying.  He needed two wireless mikes with XLR inputs and clearly these are wired.  Are you recording double system into this, so that the GoPro records silent and you’re going to have to marry it up later?  Or are you feeding audio into the GoPro?

Philip Hodgetts: the GoPro has built-in audio and that is good enough quality for Final Cut Pro X, certainly to make multi-clips based purely on the audio synchronization.

Larry Jordan: So you’re using the audio off the zoom as your main audio; but you’re recording camera audio for sync purposes.

Philip Hodgetts: Absolutely.

Larry Jordan: And it worked?

Philip Hodgetts: Worked beautifully, yes.  That didn’t hiccup.  I mean, Final Cut is really, really good on that.  I know there are people who claim that Pluraleyes will do a better job, but I’ve certainly never had any trouble with Final Cut.  The only one time I’ve had trouble is because I didn’t name my angles; and you have to name the audio angle too.

Larry Jordan: Really?

Philip Hodgetts: Or give it a common camera name; yes.  Because it still needs to be an angle and that was the only thing that mucked up, was my audio didn’t go out into … timeline.

Larry Jordan: As you look back on it, what was the one piece of gear that you used the least and the flipside of this is, what piece of gear would you have liked to have had, that you didn’t bring?

Philip Hodgetts: I didn’t use, for these interviews, the DSLR that I carry with me.  I still carry a NEX-7; simply because I like to have a good still camera with me.  But it’s a great b-roll camera and in January I used the iOgrapher, with my iPad 2 and a DSLR as my two cameras.  This trip I wanted to carry a little bit lighter and so we went down to the GoPros; which were purchased for another purpose.

Philip Hodgetts: I wouldn’t advocate, if you’re just doing family history, don’t go out and buy a lot of gear.  You need good audio recording, you need an acceptable picture and you’ve got a phone, you’ve got an iPad, you’ve got an android device; you’ve got something that’s going give you those pictures.  I really, you know, want to encourage people to get in there and do these history questions; I’ve got a great set of questions.

Larry Jordan: So, for you, the audio is much more important than the picture for these.

Philip Hodgetts: Absolutely, yes.  I wanted the picture because, I wanted people to be able to see down the track and some of my relatives would have preferred to do audio only and I discovered that there are audio only recordings of my Grandmother and I didn’t even know existed; so I have to get them converted, I have to get them into this system, into digital form.

Michael Horton: Why not use one of these?

Philip Hodgetts: Just because it’s a more complicated situation; you’ve got to run cables from the audio.  I was carrying the iPad as my primary device anyway and you need to two iOS devices if you’re going to have two cameras; each one does pair with one iOS device, in the simplest configuration and swap backwards and forwards, but you have to repair them every time.

Larry Jordan: What piece would you like that you didn’t have?

Philip Hodgetts: I honestly don’t think there was anything that I wanted to have for this project that I didn’t take.  I took a lot of stuff that I didn’t use; you know, zip ties, extra mounts, all of this suction cap stuff.  Almost didn’t use the light, but I did.  None of this came out of the Ziploc bag.  The Nexto DI was great.  But, pretty much, this is what I’d take next time.

Larry Jordan: And for people that want to keep track of what you’re thinking on the web, because we’re going to wrap this up.  Where can they go on the web to read what you’re writing?

Philip Hodgetts:  We’ve been talking about the family history project there and I’m going to publish the questions shortly.

Larry Jordan: And Philip Hodgetts is the CEO of Intelligent Assistance and Lumberjack System.  Philip, thanks for joining us.

Larry Jordan: Hi.  I have an exciting new training bundle called The Craft of Production.  In it, we cover interview techniques, how to use cameras to tell stories, how to pick microphones and record better audio and tips on lighting.  Watch as we work on set and outdoors, with actors and crew, to show behind the scenes techniques you can put to work immediately.  See the difference camera framing makes; listen to different microphones, to decide which sounds the best; learn better ways to ask questions; and see how changing the lighting changes the emotion of your scene.

Larry Jordan: More than four hours of in-depth practical production techniques and, even better, we’re bundling a session created by Norman Hollyn, called Get to Your First Cut. Norman is a world-renowned feature film editor, as well as the Head of the Editing Track at the USC Film School.  He shares his thoughts on how to get your production dailies ready to edit.

Larry Jordan: I specifically selected these titles, because they’re comprehensive, fun to watch and only available here.  I enjoy teaching technology, but I really like showing technology, in action, as we put it to work in the real world.  Get your copy of The Craft of Production, here in my store.

Larry Jordan: Curtis Fritsch is an Audio Editor at Alpha Dogs.  This is a Burbank based post-production facility and he is a Sound Designer, Re-Recording Mixer, Engineer and Tech for all things audio.  Tonight we want to learn about what it takes to prep audio for international distribution.  Hello Curtis, welcome.

Curtis Fritsch: Hey Larry, how’s it going?  Thanks for having me.

Larry Jordan: We are delighted to have you on.  How does audio need to change for international distribution?

Curtis Fritsch: Well, for international distribution, they like to dub it into their own languages, if they’re not going to subtitle it; so, what they like to have are things like footsteps, calf rubs; you know, anything that was captured during production, that might have to come out, because of the fact that the English voices are going to be intruding over those things.

Curtis Fritsch: You know, someone might be, you know, touches a banister or might be starting a car and that might be part of the production sound for the English version which is fine; but that won’t show up when we take away the English dialogue.  What we need to do is recreate that for foreign markets, so it just feels like a much fuller and richer film; like, you’re not missing anything.

Larry Jordan: But, wait a minute.

Michael Horton: What, you have to Foley everything, I mean, for international distribution?

Curtis Fritsch: For the most part.  I mean, there are certain things that you can tape over, but yes, I mean, I should start off by saying this.  Every film and every facility is a little bit different in this.  I mean, it’s generally done on a case by a case basis.  The most important thing I can say is to, check with the deliverables of a distribution company; because, a lot of the places I’ve seen have been pretty strict; some of them have been a little bit more lenient.

Curtis Fritsch: I mean, sometimes people have been rejected because a footstep is out of sync; other times, they’ve just taken a lot of stuff from production, put it in and they’ve said this is a pass.  So, it really depends on who’s doing your QC and which markets you’re going to also.

Curtis Fritsch: It’s not an exact science.  You really should check your deliverable requirements and possibly talk to someone that will be distributing your movie as well.

Larry Jordan: Well now, let’s back up about two steps.  When I’m creating my film, I’m creating a final stereo pair.  How do I create audio that doesn’t have the voice mixed in with the sound effects and the music?

Curtis Fritsch: Are you talking from when you’re filming it?

Larry Jordan: No, when I’m doing the final mix.  What I’m trying to get to is explain stems.

Curtis Fritsch: Oh okay.  Yes, for the most part, you want to take your dialogue and put that separate from your effects and then separate that from music.  Is that what you’re talking about?

Larry Jordan: Yes.

Curtis Fritsch: Okay.  Yes, I mean, what you want to do is try and get all your dialogue, by itself, onto dialogue tracks and then, everything else, like just the practical effects, you want to have on your effects tracks.  Some of those can be used; some of them may not be used.  I’ve had people complain that have said, you know, this sounds too much like a production, we need it to actually sound like it’s not production.  It’s an interesting process learning what certain places like and what certain people like.

Curtis Fritsch: I didn’t do this personally, but I’ve been told that, in Japan, apparently people kiss differently; so if there’s a kiss from production, they may not like it, they may reject it over that.

Larry Jordan: Well let’s back up about five or six steps.  When we’re recording audio, in production, are we going to record audio any differently, in production, knowing that we’re going to go international, or is production exactly the same?

Curtis Fritsch: Production’s pretty much exactly the same you want it to be.  Because, I mean, the thing you most likely want to do is just record some of the stuff on set, like, maybe some footsteps; definitely get a good amount of room tone in there; you know, just some of the sounds that you think might have been cancelled out.  Like, if you’ve got a car that is being used on set for that day, the best thing to do would be to try and take a little bit of extra time, maybe record some stuff from that car, when it’s not being filmed; just to get some wild takes of that car sounds.  That’s a good one.

Larry Jordan: Okay, so in recording and production, we record whether we’re going international or not the same way.  When we’re mixing, now we’ve got to do essentially three mixes; we do a mix which is dialogue, we do a mix which are just effects, we do another mix which is just music.  When we combine those, do we still end up with the same quality mix as if we had done everything as a single stereo pair; or am I doing quality tradeoffs to do these individual dialogue effects and music stems?

Curtis Fritsch: Not normally.  The way that you do international deliveries is that, most of the time, there are certain things; like if you’ve got footsteps in there, that can make some phase cancellation problems, if you introduce that into the regular mix.  So you sort of want to keep all your stuff … properly in your mix sessions, so that the things that are going specifically for international don’t end up in your regular mix; if that makes sense.

Larry Jordan: No, it makes perfect sense; not a problem.  When we are putting all this stuff together, are we then delivering a final stereo pair and then the three individual stereo pairs; one for dialogue, one for music and one for effects?  Or am I delivering a final mix dialogue and then a combined music and effects?

Curtis Fritsch: It depends.  I mean, you could be delivering just a few of those, you could be delivering all of those.  On a recent delivery, it was a full 5.1 mix; so they wanted it to be a 5.1 mix plus a stereo of everything.  Then they wanted it to be 5.1 of the music and effects combined, along with a stereo version of that; and then they also wanted stereo pairs of each dialogue, effects and music.  So, sometimes that can be what your deliverables call for.

Curtis Fritsch: Also, sometimes they call for what’s called an optional track.  An optional track consists of vocalizations that do not involve words but may be useful to them.  Like, it would be breaths, gasps, signs, things like that; that can be used.  They may not use them but it’s good to have; so stuff like that may be called for.

Curtis Fritsch: I mean, the most important thing to know, in my opinion, for doing form deliverables, delivering for a market, is just to know your deliverables.  Read your spec sheets, read the requirements from any form distribution company and ask them questions; you know, be specific.  The thing you have to do is find someone; you know, you may need to ask for an NME supervisor; ask for someone for clarification.  Because, the last thing you want this to do is be rejected and have to come back and say, “Okay, well what did we mess up on?”  I mean, that’s just something you want to avoid as much as possible.

Larry Jordan: Curtis, I have to tell you a story, before we run out of time; because, what you say makes perfect sense, except it doesn’t exist in the real world, in a lot of cases.  A friend of mine was delivering a show to a network and they had nine pages; nine pages of what the video specs were going to be, but there wasn’t a word about audio.  It was a cable network.  They called the cable head in, they said, we need to know what the audio specs are for delivery.  Well, the cable headquarters sent them over to master control, which is in New Jersey and New Jersey master control answered the phone and said, “What do you want to know?”  They said, “What audio specs do you need for delivery?”  There was a very long pause at the other end of the phone and finally this gruff voice gets on and says, “Well, do what you always do” and hung up the phone.  So, sometimes you need help.

Michael Horton: I had no idea it was this complicated.

Curtis Fritsch: I agree, that’s actually something I’ve dealt with too.  Yes, in an ideal world, you do want to talk to someone.  I talked to someone who said, well, if there’s something missing we’ll catch it; so, just make sure it’s good; and that was the direction I was given.

Curtis Fritsch: Yes, I mean, that’s the best thing you can do is just, you know, try and recreate as much as possible, don’t miss anything, don’t have anything out of sync.  It’s not easy.  You know, the best way to do it is just trial by … and just talk to people who’ve done it before.  That’s another good piece of advice.  I mean, we have several mixers on staff here.

Larry Jordan: Are you worrying about international audio levels like the Luff standard that the EU requires, or the Calmac when you’re doing stuff for the US?  Are you mixing to now government mandated levels?

Curtis Fritsch: I mean, that’s the Calmac that’s usually for television; so, if they take the dialogue out.  It’s not that important because the Calmac is usually based upon dialogue levels; like negative 24 for dialogue normalization.  Maybe I have that backwards, but I still remember, it was the dialogue level needs to be even.

Larry Jordan: For people that need more information, where can they go on the web?

Curtis Fritsch:

Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, A L P H A and Curtis Fritsch is the Sound Editor for Alpha Dogs.  Curtis, thanks for joining us today.

Curtis Fritsch: Thank you Larry.

Michael Horton: Thanks Curtis.

Larry Jordan: Bye, bye.

Larry Jordan: I really enjoy Marco Missinato’s mission statement, where he writes, that he has dedicated his life to the creation of music that inspires and brings peace and oneness to the world; as well as support humanity and mother earth at this delicate and difficult transition time.  I like the broader vision that music can change society; which is what we want to talk with Marco about.  Hell Marco, welcome.

Marco Missinato:  Hello.  Is this Larry or it’s Michael; or both of you?

Larry Jordan: No, it is both of us.

Michael Horton: Yes, this is both of us.

Marco Missinato: Hello.  Thank you for having me there; it’s really lovely to have the chance to have some time with you guys.

Larry Jordan: We are delighted.  The one that you’re looking at, by the way, is me; that’s Larry.  The voice that sounds warm and handsome and avuncular, that’s Michael.

Michael Horton: Yes, I’m getting over a summer cold and hopefully I won’t cough my way through this interview.

Larry Jordan: Marco, what got you interested in music in the first place?

Marco Missinato: Music was there for me since really literally day one.  It was, for me, a way to cope with the dissonances of, what we all have to encounter in our life; and so, for me, when music was playing, it would instantly create a sense of oneness.  Basically, the illusion of separation would go away and so I would feel back home.  So, for me, music, since the beginning, was a way to go back home. 

Larry Jordan: Now, were you playing music at a young age or did you start composing at a young age as well?

Marco Missinato: I started composing right away; the first chance to come close to an instrument.  I remember, at three years old, I was excited about this little flute that was given to me and I would spend hours and hours composing melodies on it.

Larry Jordan: At three years old, I’m not sure I could even have held a flute; I’m very impressed.

Michael Horton: You’re talking about bringing music that would bring you back home.  What kind of music did you listen to when you were home?

Marco Missinato: I would listen literally everything that would come along.  At the time, TV was still in black and white and we have only radios and a little jukebox to listen to music.  So, whatever was there, it would take my breath away.  I would say pop music, of course Italian music, because I was in Italy at the time; but also a lot of American music and also classical music like Beethoven, Chopin and then, of course, the jazz.  All variety of music.  Because it doesn’t really matter what kind of music it is, as long as it’s being conceived from the heart.

Larry Jordan: Which gets me to a piece that you recently composed called unfolding secrets; tell me about this.

Marco Missinato: ‘Unfolding secrets’ is my latest production, as a Composer and Music Producer.  It has a fabulous host, Kristin Hoffmann as a soprano vocalist.  It’s an album that has a very symphonic flavor and it’s called ‘Unfolding Secrets; Symphony of the Heart.’  Because, it’s music that has that frequency; has the ability to really open the heart.

Larry Jordan: Before we talk about it, I want to play a short 30 second clip and let you listen to it; then I want to talk about how and what you were thinking about as you composed it.  But let’s play the music.


Larry Jordan: Obviously the piece is much longer, but I wanted to give listeners a flavor for what it sounded like.  What were you thinking as you composed this?

Marco Missinato: Well actually, Larry, when I go to the instrument with the idea of composing, in my personal experience, with music, there is no thinking taking place.  Meaning, I have to put myself in a situation of no mind, of stillness; so that I can connect with the, what can I say, maybe with life, we can say, with source.  Some people would say God.  But, with that part of life that is unseen and is still very mysterious.  That allows me to create, to literally download the melodies.

Larry Jordan: Marco, I was impressed with the amount of layers and that textures in that music.  Was that recorded in a studio or did you do it one layer at a time in a home facility?

Marco Missinato: At this time of the production, the album, we are still working with the layers of high technology, computerized digital music; with the exception, of course, with Kristin Hoffmann who sing live.  But we are looking for, very soon, to have a real symphony orchestra to perform all the tracks; so that we can really have that warm analogue kind of sound.

Larry Jordan: Has this symphony been performed anywhere aside from your album?

Marco Missinato: Yes, we did a series of concerts in Ecuador; we did a concert in New York and one in Sedona and now we are working with attracting the connection for a potential world tour; in Europe, in the USA and in Canada.

Michael Horton: Did you do these concerts with real instruments, real people; or was it all digital, off of computer?

Marco Missinato: No, no, the concert were all live.  We had several major concert with the symphonic orchestra of Ecuador.

Michael Horton: Oh wonderful.

Marco Missinato: And then we had a situation, like in New York and Sedona, where we were blending a number of live musicians with the tracks; so it was, I would say, a 50 percent digital and 50 percent live.

Michael Horton: Lovely.  So how d’you like that sound, that 50 percent digital and 50 percent live?

Marco Missinato: Well, music needs to be heard live, that’s the bottom line.  You know, you  need to listen to the real musicians, the real instruments performing and that’s where the frequencies of the music really has a penetrating layer of energy that literally opens up your heart; and that’s what we are looking for.  To perform as much as possible live, with the live musicians.

Larry Jordan: Well, I want to give people a flavor of what your music sounds like.  Let’s try a second short clip from the album.  I think this piece is called, ‘A Dream From My Heart’ and let’s take a listen.


Larry Jordan: It has the magical ability to take us somewhere totally different.  I mean, it’s an entirely different world.  How do you manage that?  I know that you’re doing it from the heart, but is there a direction that you’re feeling or is it just totally unconscious?

Marco Missinato: I would say, this is exactly what is about to happen at this time of our wonderful journey as humans.  We are starting to recognize that music is much more than entertainment; not that there’s anything wrong with entertainment at all, it’s wonderful.  But we are getting to the idea that music comes from sound and sounds is vibration and everything vibrates; so there is a profound connection between music and our life, our existence, our cellular structures.

Marco Missinato: When music is coming from a pure intent, meaning there is no inner agenda, mind agenda, there is not an ego, there is not an expectation that something has to happen; when we position ourselves in front of the instrument, with the purity of like a child, that allows these very pure melodies to come through.  It is something that is not just for few elective, it’s just for everybody, that are of course inclined to music, can reach that state of purity.

Marco Missinato: At this moment, I would say musicians have a wonderful responsibility to really create and make a big difference in life.  They always have done that, of course, but now, more than ever, we are really waking up to new frontiers that needs to be crossed, when it comes to music.

Larry Jordan: But it seems to me that music today is not listened to so much as consumed; it washes over all of us.  How do you get people to slow down enough to actually listen, as opposed to simply hear?

Marco Missinato: Well, I believe, at this moment, there is a lot of people among humanity that are really looking for music that is not distracting, but it’s more introspective; because we are looking for a connection at this moment.  Because there is so many outside informations that are constantly running and it is very important that we find a genuine situation that will allow us to stay still and to really listen our true voice; which is certainly not the one that comes from, I would say, the matrix.

Larry Jordan: Yes, that’s true.  It is fun to listen to and it’s nice to hope that people are actually listening to music and willing to hear the message that it contains.

Michael Horton: Yes, we all have that connection; as whether it can connect us or not, I don’t know.  It can, on certain occasions; it’s why some people go to church and sing, in that collective kind of thing.  It brings us together; music always brings us together.

Marco Missinato: Absolutely.

Larry Jordan: Marco, what projects are you working on next?

Marco Missinato: Well right now I am involved in different kind of projects; but the nature of the object is to take Unfolding Secrets to a world exposure and to attract the right situation that will allow us to do a world tour; I would say, to share as much as possible this beautiful experience.  That’s where I’m focusing most of the time at this moment.  But I am also doing other projects.  I am producing other music.

Marco Missinato: I want to extend the concept of a symphonic sound and I want to expand it and use, also, other instruments; so include also rhythms, percussions and other more digital and modern instruments.  From the point of view of production, that’s where I am aiming for right now, is to put between the symphonic orchestra and Kristin Hoffmann, a variety of modern instruments.

Larry Jordan: I was just reading your bio and you describe yourself as both a Composer and a Music Producer.  What’s the difference between the two?

Marco Missinato: Well, the Composer is a person that somehow has the ability to literally create the melody of what we call music; which is basically the conversation that the music exposes.  Production is what happens after.  It’s like, if you make a little baby and then you decide, okay, what kind of clothing we are going to put on this beautiful little body; how we want it to look like.  What is the intent?   And that’s the production.

Marco Missinato: When I first compose the melodies, then I felt very well that the production was going to be more like a classical, contemporary kind of style; and so I became a producer and I start to produce the costume, the dressing around these melodies.

Larry Jordan: Interesting.  Marco, where can people go on the web to learn more about you and your music?

Marco Missinato: The website is

Larry Jordan: And Marco Missinato is the Composer and Music Producer for Sounds of Oneness.  Marco, thanks for joining us today.

Marco Missinato: Sure, thank you; appreciate it.

Michael Horton: And you brought Larry and me together.

Larry Jordan: And we’ve got a wonderful new feature called Tech Talk; take a look.

Voiceover:  This is Tech Talk, from the Digital Production Buzz.

Larry Jordan: But there’s a whole lot more we can talk about with microphones than just simply where they’re placed or what levels to record at and to do that, I want to introduce our two actors, Andrew and Cynthia; thanks so much for joining us.  If you look very closely, you’ll discover that they are not wearing one or two microphones, they’re wearing four or five microphones.  Because I want to concentrate on how the microphones sound.

Larry Jordan: We’re going to start with Andrew.  You sitting down, you ready?

Andrew: Absolutely.

Larry Jordan: We’ve got a four stand microphone that’s staring Andrew in the face; you can see it on the three shot.  Then you see that he’s wearing a headset.  Then, if you look really closely, he’s actually got two lavaliers and, if you hold it up, a hand mike; that’s five mikes total.  What we want to do is, we want to compare the sound of those mikes; so here’s what we’re going to do.  We’re going to start first with the Electro-Voice RE20 and what we’re going to do is, we’re going to have you deliver the same line, the dialogue.

Larry Jordan: We’ll switch between the RE20 and then we’ll go to the headset mike; that’s an Audio-Technica BPHS1.  Then we’ll go to the hand mike and then we’ll go to a Tram and then we’ll got to the Audio-Technica and we’ll go through this.  So listen to the difference between these five mikes, the Electro-Voice RE20 the Audio-Technica headset, the Shure SM58 hand mike, the Tram TR50 and then the Audio-Technica Pro 70.  You ready?

Larry Jordan: As best you can, talk to the desk mike and then play it out to the camera after that.  Go.

Andrew: There are many things for which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited.  I dare say Christmas among the rest.  But I am sure I have thought of Christmastime, apart from its sacred name; if anything can be apart from that.

Larry Jordan: Switch.

Andrew: As a good time; a kind for giving charitable time.  The only time I know of in the long calendar year, when men and women show compassion to one another and, therefore, has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket.

Larry Jordan: Switch.

Andrew: I do believe that it has done me good and will do me good and I say God bless it.  There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited.

Larry Jordan: Switch.

Andrew: I daresay Christmas, among the rest; but I am sure I have thought of Christmas time, apart from its sacred name; if anything can be apart from that.

Larry Jordan: So what we’ve just done is, we went through the Electro-Voice RE20; then we went to the headset; then we went to the hand mike; then we went to the Tram Lavalier.  Clearly, there’s a huge difference between those mikes.  The warm richness of the desk mike, but it’s huge and impossible to use, in many shooting situations.

Larry Jordan: The headset mike is great but cannot be confused with looking good at the same time.  The lavaliers have an entirely different sound, as does the hand mike; which means that you want to pick a mike that gives you the sound that you want, which looks the way that you want.  For instance, a headset mike is perfect for a football game sportscaster, but not necessarily great for a romantic scene and a candlelit dinner.

Voiceover: This Tech Talk was shared from Larry Jordan’s website, at

Larry Jordan: One of the things that I like doing is helping people understand how technology works and, thanks to people like Mike and Philip and others that I work with, they give me a chance to share some of what I’ve discovered with you.  We’re going to be doing more of that in coming weeks here on The Buzz.

Michael Horton: Really, I help you?

Larry Jordan: Yes you do.  My feeling is, if I can explain it so you understand it, then I’m doing a good job of explaining it.

Michael Horton: Okay.

Larry Jordan: It’s been an interesting show.

Michael Horton: I understood that; that was actually pretty good.

Larry Jordan: Actually, you know, Michael, one of the things that’s going to happen is, not only that, but you’re going to carry that as a webbing hour on Movieola.

Michael Horton: Yes, in July.

Larry Jordan: July 21st.

Michael Horton: Yes, it’s going to be good.  By the way, I like the Shure the best.

Larry Jordan: The Shure hand mike.

Michael Horton: That was the hand mike, right?  Yes.

Larry Jordan: That’s right.  I use it for all of my audio only interviews; its’ just a beautiful warm mike and the Trams, the lavaliers, we’re going to be using when we move to our new set; which is in the process.

Michael Horton: We have a new set?

Larry Jordan: We have a new set.

Michael Horton: We’re doing everything new.

Larry Jordan: I’m trying to impress you, really, it’s all about Michael.

Michael Horton: Are we going to have a green screen?

Larry Jordan: We are not going to have a green screen right away.

Michael Horton: Seriously, we need a green screen.

Larry Jordan: It’s going to be interesting.  I want to thank our guests this week.  We’re starting with Philip Hodgetts, the CEO of Intelligent Assistance; Curtis Fritsch, Senior Audio Engineer and Senior Audio Mixer for Alpha Dogs and Marco Missinato, Composer and Music Producer for Song of Oneness.

Larry Jordan: There’s a lot of history in our industry, but even better you’ll find all our current shows and interviews available at; all searchable, all online and all available.  Talk with us on Twitter @DPBuZZ; Facebook,  The music composed by Nathan Doogie Turner; additional music on The Buzz provided by  Text transcripts provided by Take1 and visit to learn more.  Our producer, Cirina Catania, engineering team, Megan Paulos; Ed Golya; Keegan Guy; Lindsay Luebbert; and Brianna Murphy.

Larry Jordan: On behalf of Mike Horton, that’s him.

Michael Horton: That’s me.

Larry Jordan: My name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to The Buzz.

Michael Horton: Goodbye everybody.

Larry Jordan: The Digital Production Buzz was brought to you by Other World Computing; providing quality hardware solutions and extensive technical support to the worldwide computer industry since 1988.

Digital Production Buzz – June 18, 2015

Join Larry Jordan and Mike Horton as they talk with Philip Hodgetts, Curtis Fritsch, and Marco Missinato.

  • All You Need For Production – In One Small Bag
  • Secrets of International Audio
  • The Emotional Power of Music

View Show Transcript

Watch the Full Episode

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Guests this Week

Philip Hodgetts
Philip Hodgetts, President, Lumberjack System
Bigger is definitely not better when you’re packing gear for international flights. Philip Hodgetts, President of Lumberjack Systems, joins us in-studio to show the gear he carries for production, and how it fits into one small carry-on bag.
Curtis Fritsch
Curtis Fritsch, Sound Editor, Alpha Dogs
Curtis Fritsch, Supervising Sound Editor at Alpha Dogs, is an expert in preparing film sound for foreign distribution. Tonight, he shares his secrets about what audio to provide and what to avoid in your final mix so your distributor will be able to release your film internationally.
Marco Missinato
Marco Missinato,Composer & Music Producer, Sounds of Oneness
Italian-born composer and music producer Marco Missinato believes that beautiful music can change the world. At the age of six, he began composing at a piano that was a gift from his mother, spending endless hours alone in his room. In the nineties, he left Rome and went to Los Angeles to dedicate himself to his passion for music. Tonight, discover how adding the right music can add power to your projects.

Transcript: Digital Production Buzz – June 11, 2015

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Digital Production Buzz

June 11, 2015

[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]


(Click here to listen to this show.)


Larry Jordan & Mike Horton


Oliver Hollis-Leick, Co-Founder, The Mocap Vaults

Larry O’Connor, President & Founder, Other World Computing

Tim Smith, Senior Film and Television Advisor, Canon USA, Inc.

Larry Jordan: Hi. I’ve got a fascinating show for you tonight. We’re going to start with Oliver Hollis-Leick. He is the founder of The Mocap Vault. His mission in life is to teach actors and filmmakers how to do mocap and tonight he shares the secrets of mocap with us.

Larry Jordan: Then Larry O’Connor, the CEO of OWC, stops by to explain that not all cables are created equal. In fact, the construction and components of any cable make a big difference in performance and reliability. Tonight, Larry shares the secrets of cables.

Larry Jordan: And then finally, Tim Smith is the Senior Advisor for Film and Television for Canon. He’s the perfect person to talk about cameras with but, more importantly, he’s the perfect person to talk about lenses and tonight we’re going to discuss how to pick the right lens for your camera.

Larry Jordan: They’re all next on The Buzz.

Announcer: Tonight’s Digital Production Buzz is brought to you by Other World Computing at

Larry Jordan: Since the dawn of digital film making …

Voiceover: Authoritative.

Larry Jordan: …one show serves a worldwide network of media professionals …

Voiceover: Current.

Larry Jordan: …uniting industry experts …

Voiceover: Production.

Larry Jordan: …film makers …

Voiceover: Post production.

Larry Jordan: …and content creators around the planet.

Voiceover: Distribution.

Larry Jordan: From the media capital of the world in Los Angeles, California, The Digital Production Buzz goes 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 and joining us, the casually dressed for the summer co-host, Mr. Mike Horton.

Mike Horton: Does this bother you?

Larry Jordan: You know, I think that NASA is just way cool. It’s a very cool look.

Mike Horton: Put all your money into NASA. Ok.

Larry Jordan: I didn’t realize we could invest in NASA.

Mike Horton: Well, we could, couldn’t we? Well, we do. Taxpayer money.

Larry Jordan: That’s very true. Thinking of money and investment, the big news this week was from Apple with the WWDC, their worldwide developer conference.

Mike Horton: Did you actually watch that entire thing?

Larry Jordan: I did not watch it this time. I normally do. But it was impressive, it ran two and a half hours. It just went on for …

Mike Horton: I know and the one that everybody wanted to hear was all about Apple Music and, of course, that comes in the last 15 minutes of the two and a half hours.

Larry Jordan: But they also announced the new version of IOS, IOS9, they announced El Capitan.

Mike Horton: And the new operating system and I’m sure the first question you got from all of your listeners and viewers was, “Does Final Cut Pro X work with the new operating system?” Larry, do you have that answer yet? It hasn’t shipped.

Larry Jordan: Not yet. It hasn’t shipped and I did get that email, I got it five minutes after the conference ended. A guy very worried said, “Is Final Cut X going to work with the new version?”

Mike Horton: Everybody thinks you work for Apple, that you have the inside ear for everything that they’re doing, even in the secret labs. Have you? Have you, Larry?

Larry Jordan: No, no. I’ve managed to …

Mike Horton: Have you been in the secret lab?

Larry Jordan: I’ve managed to pick a business model where Apple barely talks to me, much less works and hires me.

Mike Horton: I think they talk to … anybody.

Larry Jordan: Well, it’s going to be an exciting time. It’s going to be a cool summer. Alex4D is already deconstructing the operating system.

Mike Horton: Yes, I think he’s already posted a couple of things where he’s getting into the code and all that, but will Final Cut Pro X work with the new operating system? Of course it’ll work!

Larry Jordan: It just hasn’t shipped yet.

Mike Horton: It just hasn’t shipped yet.

Larry Jordan: By the way, Mike and I will be back with Oliver Hollis-Leick right after this.

Larry Jordan: Our friends at Other World Computing are looking for a creative, fan-made commercial, so they’re hosting a video contest with an incredible grand prize – a dream video workstation. This prize package includes a 2013 Apple Mac Pro and a 4K display, an Avid Artist’s transport console and color control surface, a 16 terabyte OWC Thunderbay 4, a GoPro Hero and more.

Larry Jordan: The whole package is worth over $12,000. Whether you’re a seasoned pro shooting with high end gear or a newcomer shooting with your iPhone, now you can show off your video-making talent in a 30 to 60 second commercial about OWC. The deadline for entries is June 30th, so start shooting. Visit for all the details. That’s Don’t miss out.

Larry Jordan: Oliver Hollis-Leick is a trained actor who has specialized in motion capture for the last 13 years. He’s played James Bond, Iron Man, Spiderman, Captain Scarlet and hundreds of other characters. He co-founded The Mocap Vaults to train a new generation of motion capture performers and filmmakers. Hello, Oliver, welcome.

Oliver Hollis-Leick: Hello, good evening.

Larry Jordan: I should mention, before we get started, that we are talking with you live in the UK at something like two o’clock in the morning and we’ll find out the reason why you’re still awake at two o’clock in the morning in just a couple of minutes. But first, Oliver, how would you define mocap?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: Motion capture is essentially the process of recording human movement in three dimensions, in simple form.

Larry Jordan: Well, how is it done?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: There are a variety of methods you can use, but the most common way is to use a studio full of these optical cameras that focus down into a stage, which is known as the volume, and that’s where the actor will perform and the actor wears all these different reflective markers and light projected from the camera bounces off the reflective markers into the cameras again and is then put together by the system to create a 3D model.

Larry Jordan: Which makes me realize that we’re not really interested in seeing what the actor looks like. What we’re doing is capturing the movements of the actor, so the fact that it looks garish is not important because it’s capturing the markers that are important. True statement?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: Exactly, yes, absolutely.

Larry Jordan: So this gets me to the first really hard question – what is it that makes mocap so challenging for a performer? Nobody cares what you look like, nobody sees your face and you’re sitting in front of a green screen. What makes it hard?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: The hardest thing about motion capture is the rawness of it. On a movie set, you’ve got costume, props, other actors around you, you know exactly where the camera is and you know what kind of size of shot it is and you can just perform. In motion capture, you have a bare warehouse-like set with no props, no costumes – you’re wearing a Lycra suit, no matter what kind of character you’re playing – sometimes you have no other actors in the room and you don’t necessarily even know where the camera is.

Larry Jordan: Wait a minute. This is a little bit different than …

Mike Horton: This is what every actor loves.

Larry Jordan: Well, I was just thinking, Andy Serkis did Gollum for ‘Lord of the Rings’ and they were shooting him on location. You’re saying mocap is not an on location event?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: It is actually an on location event, but it’s rarely done that way because of the complications that are introduced doing that. Because motion capture works on reflective light, any kind of interference from studio lights or daylight can pose quite a problem, not to mention the fact that you then have to visually remove that performer from the shot using … effects anyway.

Larry Jordan: So aside from the fact that it’s way too late at night and clearly no sane person should be up at this hour, what is it that got you interested in mocap in the first place? How do you express yourself as an actor?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: Like many people, mocap came across me rather than me coming across it. A friend of mine had already been doing it for a couple of years and he said they were looking for an extra guy and would I be interested in auditioning, and that’s how I discovered it. I got my first role in a video game 13 years ago and it was such an enjoyable experience that I looked into it more and more and found myself doing it more and more.

Larry Jordan: Ok, wait a minute, you’re wearing a Lycra suit, you’re covered with white dots, you’re in a big warehouse under bizarre lights and it’s an enjoyable experience? What’s wrong with this picture?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: Oh yes. Well, I’m just that kind of guy, I guess.

Mike Horton: Glutton for punishment. When you were doing the video game, and I know you’ve done a lot of movies, but when you are doing video games, were you actually vocalizing? Are you actually saying lines and words while you’re doing the mocap?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: It depends, actually. Certainly in the earlier days, they would have an A list celebrity record the lines in advance and then when I turned up on set I’d actually be acting along to the lines, because obviously nobody cares about me.

Mike Horton: What about the video game? Were you an actual character in the video game or were you doubling for another actor?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: Oh yes. Well, I’d be doubling for other actors if that was the case, but in the last five or six years I’ve had my head scanned several times, they’ve created a digital version of me and actually I was walking through the London Underground a few years ago and saw a huge poster for a new alien game with my head on it, and I didn’t even know that they’d done this. I just suddenly was looking at myself on this poster.

Mike Horton: Then, of course, you took a selfie.

Oliver Hollis-Leick: Of course I did, yes.

Larry Jordan: What was it that got you interested in this in the first place? I know you said that mocap found you, but what it is that caught your fancy?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: Motion capture is probably the purest form of acting you can get, because it’s based entirely on imagination. It’s like going back to the days of childhood, when you just said, “Today I’m going to be this creature or this character and I’m in this place. Today I’m on a starship,” or, “Today I’m in the jungle,” and you can just create that there and then.

Oliver Hollis-Leick: The special thing about it is I could say, “Well, what if this is happening? And maybe the dinosaur comes in from this direction or there’s this spaceship floating at this point.” The animators can then go away and take that creative input and introduce it into the project. You couldn’t do that on a film set.

Mike Horton: Do you sometimes play creatures or is it pretty much all people?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: I played Dobby in ‘Harry Potter,’ I’ve played six legged creatures – I did some of those for ‘John Carter on Mars’ – I’ve played dragons, ogres, werewolves.

Mike Horton: So obviously you have to be somewhat athletic and be able to contort your body into these kinds of figures?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: It’s incredibly tiring work, actually. If you imagine being down in a squat position, like Andy Serkis was for Gollum, and doing that day after day after day after day. It does get to you.

Mike Horton: Yes. Well, I can see that you’re in good shape, and you’d better be in good shape to do what you do.

Oliver Hollis-Leick: I won’t be in the morning, that’s for sure.

Larry Jordan: What type of actors are good at mocap? And on the flip side, what I’m going to ask you next is if you’re a filmmaker casting an actor for mocap, what do you look for?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: I’m really glad you asked that question because at the moment there’s definitely a short sightedness in the industry. Actors are generally cast on their voice for games and for films, even, with motion capture and a lot of the time physicality is never even present during the audition – it’s based on voice, the old traditional way of casting video game actors. But then you get that person in the studio and you realize they have no fluidity, no movement, they can’t adapt their body.

Oliver Hollis-Leick: In fact, when they’re put in a Lycra suit and they’ve got a bunch of nerdy guys looking at them, they can get pretty tense, so you then have to combat that. So it’s really important to look for somebody who’s versatile, who is happy to improvise and somebody who will commit themselves to the role 100 percent.

Larry Jordan: So how should a filmmaker run a casting session for a mocap actor?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: I would say first of all if you’re going to have them playing a character or someone who doesn’t look like them, don’t get them coming in wearing clothes like this, because that hides the motion, especially if it’s long flowing dresses or whatever. You want to see the outline of the person, the shape of them. You’re looking for whether there’s tension in their body or whether they can relax in a strange environment. Get them to try different things, see how versatile they are and how flexible they can be.

Mike Horton: Would dancers be good at mocap?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: It depends. Dancers are good with their bodies but not necessarily always trained actors. But if they’re playing creatures, definitely, yes. They understand their own movement in a way that many people don’t.

Mike Horton: Do you have a dance background yourself?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: I don’t, but I did martial arts and gymnastics, which gave me body coordination from that, and I did go to drama school and we did tap dancing and ballet and all that kind of stuff.

Larry Jordan: I’m having a hard time equating tap dance and ballet with Dobby. Somehow the pictures don’t work the same way. Where’s the market? If you’ve got mocap skills, who’s hiring? What type of clients are looking for you?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: It’s such a broad range now and it’s growing more and more all the time. At the moment, I work on video games, it’s a huge part of my work, but the games could be anything. I’ve done mobile games and I’ve also done AAA games, but movies as well like ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Total Recall.’ Those are all done by VFX houses that use motion capture as a part of their pipeline and they would take the data and animate on top of it until they get it the way they want it to look.

Oliver Hollis-Leick: But there’s something really interesting happening now in entertainment and that is, of course, virtual reality and it makes me think of perhaps how the public responded to television 80 years ago – someone telling them they had to get this new device in their house that would have images beamed into it and maybe how reluctant they might have been to that. We’re being asked to take these headsets … It’s an extraordinary experience. The first time I put it on, I didn’t want to take it off.

Larry Jordan: Oh, you didn’t want to take the VR headset off, it was that immersive?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: It’s so engrossing, it’s so immersive. It’s quite remarkable.

Mike Horton: It really hasn’t hit the world as much as, we’re talking about it all the time, we’re seeing it but the Oculus Rift is not really shipped yet and a lot of us have experienced it but we’re not seeing a lot of it. Have you yourself done games in the VR world yet?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: I haven’t, but a colleague of mine did recently. A game we’d already worked on together decided they wanted to do a VR experience and so he had to do that. But, of course, you’re not acting to a camera any more, you’re acting to a person who will be watching you in the future.

Mike Horton: Yes, it’s so new and you’re on the ground floor, so that’s exciting.

Oliver Hollis-Leick: Yes.

Larry Jordan: Walk me through a typical day. You’ve been booked for a gig, it’s your first day on set doing mocap. You walk in the door, what’s happening next? Go into some detail. What would we see if we were there?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: First thing, I have to be put into the Lycra suit and have to have all of these markers applied to my body in the right places. Then they do a calibration, where they connect those dots up into a skeleton in the system, a skeleton that will stick with me for the rest of the day. Then I will usually be presented with a script for the first time in the project, I won’t have seen it before that usually, and I have to learn the lines very quickly and then we start doing tentative …

Larry Jordan: We lost the last sentence. Try that one more time. You’re looking at the script, you had to learn it quickly, and then give us the rest of it.

Oliver Hollis-Leick: Then we’ll do a brief rehearsal and then we’ll just start hitting it shot after shot, because in mocap there’s no relight, there’s no moving the camera. It’s ever present so you just keep going.

Larry Jordan: Is there a director or someone telling you what to do? Or are they just saying, “Do whatever you want”?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: It’s a funny thing, because in film there’s a very established infrastructure of how a set works, but in games you often get an animator who’s got a collection of moves they need for their game turn up and they’ve never worked with an actor before, and so they’re saying, “Can you lift your left arm a bit higher? Can you tilt your head?” rather than saying, “Ok, so you’re in a dark environment and there’s this werewolf hiding and he’s going to jump on you,” which is the way an actor works, to be stimulated emotively.

Larry Jordan: So they’re giving you body movements rather than environments.

Oliver Hollis-Leick: Often, yes.

Larry Jordan: How would you like to be directed in an ideal world?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: The best way is to give me an idea of where I am, what I’m doing, who’s with me, where I just came from, what my objective is. Those start a thought process that stimulates action.

Larry Jordan: Now it’s time to ask you why you’re up at two o’clock in the morning in London talking to us live, as opposed to getting some rest. What’s happening here?

Mike Horton: It took him four hours to get out of the Lycra suit.

Oliver Hollis-Leick: Exactly, yes. They just peel it off me at the end of the day.

Mike Horton: Then it’s a long shower.

Oliver Hollis-Leick: Well, in the morning, in a few hours, I’m flying to Los Angeles and this weekend we’re holding a huge event at a professional mocap stage there called Just Cause and we’re getting the greatest minds in motion capture together with new and aspiring actors, animators, technicians and directors to get everybody talking about how we can create better performances using motion capture.

Larry Jordan: Can anybody attend or is this an invitation only event?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: Yes, absolutely. If you go to our website, there’s a variety of different places you can come, but the observer position on the Sunday means that somebody who’s just looking to get more of an idea about how the technology works and how they can get involved, they can come along and see exactly how it works.

Larry Jordan: Well, the other thing that you do is you train actors to do motion capture work. How do you tell somebody to wear white dots and move around a stage?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: There’s actually a revolution happening in motion capture, thanks to companies like iPi Soft and the software that they’re making now. I can take a Kinect camera from an Xbox and I can put it on a tripod in a room with a bunch of actors and none of them need to put any suits on, no markers, they can just stand in front of this camera and record their performance and they can see it on screen within minutes on a character.

Mike Horton: Yes, is it going to be maybe in another year or so when we won’t have to wear the Lycra suits and all the dots and stuff, everything’s done inside camera and software?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: Well, it’s possible now. The only problem is that optical, which is where you wear the markers, is just much more accurate. But, as technology advances, there’s nothing to stop a markerless motion capture system from taking over.

Mike Horton: Ok, but if actors didn’t have to wear those Lycra suits, I think they’d feel a lot more comfortable.

Oliver Hollis-Leick: Oh, I think that takes the fun out of it.

Mike Horton: It kind of snugs the man parts.

Oliver Hollis-Leick: It certainly does, yes. It’s very cupping.

Mike Horton: Yes it is.

Larry Jordan: What I’m curious about is, when you’re training actors, is it in movement? Is it in expressing emotions? Is it more like a dance class or is it more like a discover who you are class? How do you structure the instruction?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: It’s such a pleasurable class to teach because what my job is in that room is to take people back to the most kind of basic form of imaginative work, start saying to people, “Ok, forget everything that’s around you and go into your own world. Now you’re a dragon, you’ve got these wings,” or, “You’re a gorilla and you’ve got to move in a more primitive way and you’re in a jungle and it’s raining and you’re responding to that,” and suddenly you see people get lost in these worlds and they love it, they really love it.

Mike Horton: Yes, I think you really have to appreciate the actors who do this, like the Andy Serkises. It’s really extraordinary, what they do.

Oliver Hollis-Leick: Yes, when you see what people have to work with and what they do with it, it’s quite remarkable, what those people do.

Mike Horton: Remember the old Bob Zemeckis movie, ‘Polar Express,’ where he’s taken Tom Hanks, for instance, it’s the first time he’d ever gotten into those Lycra suits with the dots and stuff and he has to act. It was still wonderful stuff. It’s not necessarily a great movie, but the performances were terrific.

Oliver Hollis-Leick: Absolutely, and he played many of the parts.

Mike Horton: Yes.

Larry Jordan: It’s an exercise in imagination and if you’ve got an active imagination and can express that in movement, then you’re more than halfway there in being successful at mocap.

Oliver Hollis-Leick: Absolutely. A bold imagination and a kind of freeness of body is a great start.

Mike Horton: Sounds like a really fun class.

Oliver Hollis-Leick: It is fun.

Larry Jordan: For people who want to go to this event that you’re working on this weekend, what website can they go to?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: and if they click on the training side of things, they go in there and you’ll see The Mocap Vaults summit right there and you just click and book.

Larry Jordan: For people who can’t make the event, do you have training that’s available to them online?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: Not yet, but that is something we’re working on. I’m actually creating a video at the moment, a film, which is called ‘Acting for Video Games’ and it explains the whole process and how to go about it.

Larry Jordan: That would be very cool.

Mike Horton: Back when I was an actor, I used to do a lot of video game voiceover work and, of course, we didn’t have mocap or anything like that, we’d just go in and do the voices. But now they’re hiring actors not only for their voices, but they’re bringing them into the studios and doing the mocap thing, and a lot of those guys – these are A list actors who are doing this kind of stuff and once they do it, they don’t want to do it again. It’s a lot of work.

Oliver Hollis-Leick: Yes, maybe that’s true.

Mike Horton: It’s really, really hard work.

Oliver Hollis-Leick: It is, yes, there’s no doubt about that.

Larry Jordan: For people who want to keep track of you, do you have a website separate and distinct from the event and, if so, what website should people go to?

Oliver Hollis-Leick: My website is, but we also have a Facebook page for The Mocap Vaults and I have my … under my name.

Larry Jordan: The main website is and Oliver Hollis-Leick is the co-founder of The Mocap Vaults. Oliver, this has been fun. Thanks for joining us today.

Mike Horton: Yes, it’s been a lot of fun. Thanks.

Oliver Hollis-Leick: Yes, it’s been a real pleasure. Thank you very much.

Mike Horton: Welcome to LA in a week.

Larry Jordan: Bye bye.

Mike Horton: Or today.

Oliver Hollis-Leick: Thanks, man. See you. Bye.

Larry Jordan: I’ve got a ton of brand new training videos showcasing all the new features in Final Cut Pro 10.2, and they’re all available today. In fact, we’ve updated our entire Final Cut training for this release. We added more than 70 new movies covering every major and minor new feature in the software.

Larry Jordan: Then I figured, as long as I was recording, I’d add new techniques and new ways of working that I’ve discovered and written about in my newsletter over the years. We’ve updated our workflow in editing training with 31 new movies and effects with 41 new movies. This makes our Final Cut training the most comprehensive, most up to date and most affordable way to learn everything about this amazing software. It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s complete.

Larry Jordan: I’m proud of all of my training and especially proud of this one. Get your copy today in our store at or, even better, become a member of our video training library and get access to all of our training for one low monthly price. Both are incredible value. Thanks.

Larry Jordan: Larry O’Connor founded Other World Computing, which is also called OWC, in 1988. Their website is They’ve been supporting all things Mac for more than 25 years and were recently recognized as one of the fastest growing privately held companies in the Chicago area. They are also a current sponsor of The Buzz, for which we’re grateful. Hello, Larry, welcome back.

Larry O’Connor: Hey, Larry, thanks for having me.

Larry Jordan: It’s always a delight. Now, I know that Mike is perhaps not so interested in this, but some people covet jewelry or fine wine. Me, I love cables, lots and lots of audio cables and video cables.

Mike Horton: Are you kidding? We’re talking to Larry about cables?

Larry Jordan: Video cables and audio cables. It’s going to be great. But you tell me that …

Mike Horton: Larry came on this show to talk about cables? Larry, did you come on this show to talk about cables?

Larry O’Connor: Yes, I’m taking a moment from my … to talk about cables, although I’m sure we can slip other stuff in there, but …

Larry Jordan: Unbelievable. Michael, you are totally losing the significance of this …

Mike Horton: I’m looking at the paragraph. Yes, we’re talking to Larry about cables today. Ok, Larry, go ahead.

Larry Jordan: Larry, Michael has no respect, no respect for the quality work that people need to know about to have cables function properly, and now you’re telling me that cables are not created equal?

Larry O’Connor: Indeed. Cables are tough thing to even, you know, you certainly can’t get excited talking about cables, so if you don’t have a good cable in your workflow, cable can be the most troublesome part of your set-up when everything else seems to be working right or should be working right. I’m sure you’ve already experienced multiple times the weakest link in the chain, it brings the whole chain down and it’s really important to have cables that, quite frankly, don’t become that weak link.

Larry Jordan: Well, now, let’s just talk about that for a second, because a cable’s just got wires in it and a connector. What makes poor quality?

Larry O’Connor: Well, there’s different grades of copper and different amounts of copper, different amounts of the conductor in general, whether it be copper or silver. If we look at Thunderbolt cables just as one example, they all go through the same certification, you can’t have a … Thunderbolt cable without that part being certified.

Larry O’Connor: However, you do have a lot of free will and choice to maybe … what kind of materials you use, how the strain release is designed and the general flexibility and that comes back to the quality of the copper that’s inside. … and you can get cables that feel really good and you think, “Wow, this cable’s super thick and heavy duty and everything else, it must be a great cable,” but if you’re compensating for a lower grade material that’s inside or it’s just got a super thick housing, touch and feel does not a good cable make.

Larry O’Connor: On a Thunderbolt cable, certainly in the case of the cable we put out there, the weakest link that we’ve seen in some of the other options that are out there are in the strain release, especially if you have a more rigid cable and then if you don’t have a good strain release for multiple plug-in and plug-out, you start to see.. most often on all the strain releases … The strain release is typically your weak leak in the …

Larry O’Connor: One person I talked to earlier said, “Well, how do I know if this Thunderbolt cable is a bad Thunderbolt cable?” I said, “Well, if it has their logo on it, you’re golden.” That’s an easy way to tell. If you cut through our cable, you’ll notice it’s got good flexibility so it doesn’t put a lot of stress on that connection point where the cable goes into the connector, and the strain release is at a good size and of a good material that significantly reduces even the probability of that kind of weak point.

Larry O’Connor: In a very rigid cable, you’re always putting pressure on that connection point and with a bad strain release, you can end up with a breakage there or not enough of a strain release, unbeknownst to you, you can actually be tugging on the actual conductors inside that cable and cause a break or a stretch or a reduction in the proper connection, undetectable to the eye.

Mike Horton: How would you even quality control that? You’re manufacturing thousands of these things.

Larry O’Connor: It’s a process and as far as the QC side goes, it’s very easy to … the materials … The moment …cables into production. Number two, we do a significant number of, I’d guess you’d say random checks in terms of the cable throughout to make sure nothing went wrong …, but it really comes down to the materials. A conductor is a conductor, it’s either the correct conductor or it’s not. The strain release … A lot of it is… for us from just visual inspection and the rest is … like we do on every product that we put out the door.

Mike Horton: So there is low quality copper and there’s high quality copper? Isn’t copper copper?

Larry O’Connor: There are different grades of copper and while copper is copper, the level of purity of the copper makes a big difference in terms of the electrical flow.

Larry Jordan: In ethernet cables, Larry, when we move from, say, CAT4 to CAT5 and from 5E to 6, our speeds improve. Are we looking at improved performance with higher grade cables, or are we just looking at preventing problems?

Larry O’Connor: You’re definitely looking at preventing problems … higher certification … you’ve got to have the right grade copper inside. But depending upon what your application is … in ethernet cables you’ve got … solid core but if you look at … But if you have an overly thick cable, sometimes they’re compensating for a low grade of the actual conductive within the cable.

Larry Jordan: Back in the days when we were focusing principally on audio cables and, to a lesser extent, video cables, we had to deal with things like cold solder joints, which would cause an audio cable not to function properly. Do we need to even worry about technical stuff like solder joints when we’re dealing with high end data cables, like we’re talking about now?

Larry O’Connor: You do. I would say that the … performs those connections, most of … circuit’s not inside as opposed to the old, if it’s not hand done, I guess would be the easiest way … or surface, so yes it would still technically be an issue, but I would be very surprised to run into that kind of issue. Yes, there are solder joints … within the cable, that gets you from the connector … even have that potentiality with the Thunderbolt chip.

Larry O’Connor: On our Thunderbolt cable, each end has an active control, they’re active cables. That is another point of potential failure, but … certified your Thunderbolt cable design, you’ve pretty much got to be building to an accepted reference and manufacturing process. This kind of thing shouldn’t be happening today.

Larry O’Connor: However, you look at HDMI cable to video cable, even USB cables, just to get right down to the cables that we ship with our USB products, and FireWire, same kind of story, we just don’t throw any USB cable or any other … USB cables are all … the biggest commodity cable around, but the reality is there’s a big difference in what you can get in a USB cable and the USB cables we ship with our products simply come from a single factory that has been approved for both their EFI and … how much they shield and how much … out of them and, again, the copper that is inside and as you get to the higher data rate audio’s a little different today but as soon as you get into the higher data rates, the more you compromise on your cable quality, the more likelihood you’re going to have issues.

Larry O’Connor: With large … there’s plenty of room for … but at a higher speed you’re still going to get … you’re plugging into devices that are saying, ‘I’m here, hello, I’m USB 5G’ and the controller says, ‘Well, hello,’ start talking to your data …

Larry Jordan: Now, Larry, hang on a second. I need you to move a little bit in a different direction because we’re starting to lose your phone, it’s starting to fade out. One thing I want to come back to is if we own cables already and they seem to be working ok, are they ok or are there tests that we can do, without having access to hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of test gear, to know that the cables are ok? The one thing that we have to trust is our data is safe and bad cables puts that into jeopardy.

Larry O’Connor: …it’s one of the overheads on their data connection, so in terms of if there was a problem depending if it’s a minor issue or borderline, you may not know that the issue is there. Having said that, there’s not really an easy way for an end user to test the cable. But if you’re having issues, the easiest path is if there’s any kind of issue, you don’t think you’re getting the data rates you should be getting … data rates, swap the cable. … have to worry about that with, other than, again, the other aspect is, if you start with a quality cable, whether you’re just plugging it in and forgetting it or you’re on the road and constantly disconnecting and connecting that device, the higher quality product reduces the probability of physical failure down the road.

Mike Horton: Something I never even think about. If something goes wrong, I don’t think about the cable and sometimes it probably is the cable. I’ve learned something from you, Larry. Thank you.

Larry Jordan: Michael has been taking notes on this during the entire presentation and he’s now got seven legal sheets of paper marked up with what he needs to know about cables.

Mike Horton: I will buy all my cables from OWC.

Larry Jordan: I was about to do this incredible demonstration of cable coiling but …

Mike Horton: Oh my gosh, do we have time? No, we don’t have time.

Larry Jordan: No, unfortunately we don’t have time.

Mike Horton: Oh, it’s terrible.

Larry Jordan: I am so sorry. It was so close.

Mike Horton: Larry would have loved to have seen that.

Larry Jordan: Larry, for people who want to know about not only cables but other products that OWC’s got, where can they go on the web to learn more?

Larry O’Connor: They can go to our new store site, that’s and, of course, they can find everything under the sun at There’s just one other quick thing, the same kind of thing, is this memory, that all memory is created equal.

Larry Jordan: Well, hold it, we’re going to talk memory a little bit later. We’ll come back to that but, Larry, thanks for joining us today.

Mike Horton: Yes, thanks Larry.

Larry Jordan: Take care.

Larry O’Connor: Very welcome. Thanks for having me.

Larry Jordan: Bye bye.

Larry O’Connor: Bye now.

Larry Jordan: Tim Smith has been with Canon for more than 25 years and serves as a Senior Film and Television Advisor. While he’s a good person to talk to about picking the right camera, he is an outstanding person to talk to about picking the right lens, which is exactly what we’re about to do. Hello, Tim, welcome.

Tim Smith: Hey, Larry, how are you?

Larry Jordan: We’re doing great and, while I want to spend most of our time talking about lenses, I first need you to bring us up to date on Canon cameras. What’s the latest news on camera technology from, say, NAB to today?

Tim Smith: We had a huge NAB, actually. We introduced two 4K cameras to our line-up, which includes the new C300 Mark II and a new camera called an XC10. The XC10’s actually getting ready to ship right about now, it should be seen in a while, over the next couple of weeks or so, and that’s a really small fairly inexpensive – $2500 – 4K camera, sort of the opposite of what we did in the past where we created the 5V Mark IIs, which was this still camera that seemed to pique such an interest in the moving image community.

Tim Smith: This is more of a motion camera that’s more designed like a still camera. Its primary function is to record motion, but it also does stills. It’s sort of the opposite with a ten power zoom, small, about $2500. And then the other, the bigger announcement, I think, was this new C300 Mark II, which isn’t going to ship until about September/October, but this is our newest, biggest, baddest 4K camera with internal recording and 15 stops of latitude and a whole new log, a whole new log curve. It’s a wonderful camera, great … all that kind of stuff.

Larry Jordan: Ok, so we’ve talked about cameras, but a camera’s of no value at all unless you have a good lens in it. Is Canon doing anything new in lens technology?

Tim Smith: Oh my gosh, over the last couple of years. People do think of us as Canon camera. In reality, we’re Canon lens, we’re a lens company and we have been since day one. Currently in the Eos line there’s over 60 lenses that you could put on your cameras and in the Cinema line of lenses, just in the last three years or so, we’ve produced 12 cinema lenses, anywhere from 14 millimeter to one we were showing at NAB, which is already a legend, it’s a 50 to a 1,000 cinema zoom, so it’s an enormous range in a single lens. You know, everybody laughs at that.

Larry Jordan: 50 to 1,000 zoom? What is that, it’s got to be the size of a Howitzer. It’s got to be giant.

Tim Smith: Yes, you’d think. It’s not, actually, it’s only 15 pounds.

Larry Jordan: Wow.

Tim Smith: It’s very workable. It’s really not that much bigger than our 30 to 300, which is a very common lens to be using in film and television these days. So it’s a little bit bigger than that with a built-in servo, motorized servo on it as well, so it’s pretty practical. I think there are two so far, actually, it’s a $70,000 plus lens.

Mike Horton: Jeez.

Tim Smith: There’s one at a company called … here in Hollywood for rent, I know they purchased it, and there’s one that I get to play with from time to time, but I think so far we’re just looking at two. It’ll be a few more months before there’s any real quantity of those in the world. But that’s a legendary lens and that’s where I think you go with this. We do make great cameras, but cameras have a shelf life. Lenses live forever and ever and ever and we have rental houses out there with 80, 90 million dollars’ worth of lenses that they’ve had for 30, 40, 50 years and people still rent them, people still use them.

Larry Jordan: I want to come back to that, because I had a chance to visit the Canon booth at Cinegear earlier this week, when they were at the Paramount lot in LA. Many Canon cameras come with permanently attached lenses. Since the lenses can’t be removed or changed, should we even worry about them, because they’re locked to the camera?

Tim Smith: It depends on what you’re shooting. We have a good number, and all our SLRs are interchangeable as well, but we have a good number of cinema lens cameras as well that are interchangeable. As a matter of fact, we’re making both mounts EF and PL. But the fixed lens cameras like the XE10 or the XF product, they’re really more made for news, documentary, event videography, those types of things.

Tim Smith: When it comes to narrative television or filmmaking, it’s really unlikely that a fixed lens is going to cover you. You really do look for a lot of different lenses in order to do that. A major motion picture’s always going to have a dozen different lenses to choose from and different focal lengths. The built-in zoom ones tend to be not as wide, maybe a little slower, they’re not always as sharp. They’re just very versatile and that plays well into the documentary world.

Mike Horton: Tim, this is Michael Horton here. I’m in charge of the stupid questions, so what’s the difference between the cinema lenses and the other lenses? Can we put a cinema lens on a DSLR?

Tim Smith: You can, you can. They are designed a little bit differently. Let’s go to resolution, which plays into this. In the motion world, there’s all the buzz about 4K resolution, shall we go more than 4K? But in the still world, 4K resolution is only eight megapixels. Our phones have surpassed that. 4K is a motion term. But that doesn’t mean the lenses are really proper for that. Now, we’ve used still lenses constantly on our cameras.

Tim Smith: Canon makes a great line of lenses and they’re used very specifically for different things. But a cinema lens is really designed so the edge to edge detail is sharp – instead of a looking at an image that’s been blown up to eight by ten or 11 by 14, you’re looking at an image that’s got to be sharp for 40 feet across so that when you’re sitting in a theater eight rows back, there’s detail from edge to edge.

Tim Smith: There’s also no exposure drop-off to any of the corners as well. It’s a lot more difficult to get a consistent image for that size screen and that’s where cinema plays into it. You also want faster lenses and consistent F stops. A still lens is designed where you take an F stop, take a shot, move on, maybe it’s another F stop for the next shot. You’ve got t be able to zoom or move through your range without seeing the shift in brightness because of an F stop change, so you tend to have prime lenses in the cinema world that are theoretically similar if not the same F stop through the whole prime, so as you switch from a 14 to a 24 to a 28 or whatever, you have that consistent image.

Tim Smith: So the punishment fits the crime, motion pictures and narrative television’s a little bit different than stills. That’s not to say people aren’t doing it, they are, but it has more to do with price sometimes than it does their personal choice.

Larry Jordan: There’s a term I’ve heard called breathing. What does that mean in regard to a lens?

Tim Smith: Breathing is when you’re focusing, when you focus the lens and the subject moves a little bit and you’re following the focus. If the focal length or the magnification of it seems to shift a little bit because you’re moving the glass, that’s breathing. In an ideal and expensive lens, it doesn’t breathe.

Tim Smith: There are really two key terms in cinema zooms. One is called breathing, which is what we’re talking about, the idea that you can focus without reframing, without it moving. So if you’re on one actor and you have to pull your focus to the other actor five feet away, well, it’s fine for the focus to move but you don’t want the image to change its aspect ratio, you don’t want it to change its angle of view or its … so it doesn’t look like it’s been zoomed or went wider, which sometimes can happen when a lens breathes.

Tim Smith: The other one is ramping. You don’t want the F stop to shift while you’re zooming and most lenses ramp at some point where maybe you picked an F stop of five and you’re at 60 millimeters but you’re going to zoom in to 280 millimeters. Well, during that zoom, the F stop has to change to compensate for the shift in the way the glass works. It’s expensive to make sure it doesn’t do that, but you don’t want to see the brightness of the image shift while you’re zooming. A lot of the money goes into making sure lenses don’t breathe and they don’t ramp.

Larry Jordan: You mention that there have been a lot of technology changes over the last couple of years. How has lens technology changed? Glass has been glass for a long time.

Tim Smith: It has, but we’ve had to step up to the resolutions and the new color science. Digital has changed the way we have to make a lens, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go looking for older lenses. A lot of filmmakers do. I just saw last weekend a film called ‘Ex Machina,’ which was a great film shot on a Sony F65, which was probably one of the highest resolution cameras that exists, but the cinematographer went back and got vintage glass from somewhere in the ‘70s to create a certain look, so he had to soften that information.

Tim Smith: But we now have to design a lens around a digital sensor and new color science, so it is a little bit different. But you’re right, the basics haven’t changed any. The older lenses are, in some cases, as popular as they ever were.

Mike Horton: Is the process of making a lens still the same as the last 100 years, pretty much by hand?

Tim Smith: On cinema lenses, yes. There’s not economy of scale when you’re making a $200 or $300 lens, that’s done in a machine, but these 50 to 1,000s are hand polished and hand sanded the whole process. At one point I think somebody told me there are only a couple of people even in their package that can do these lenses.

Mike Horton: Oh really?

Tim Smith: If they’re on vacation, we just wait ‘til they get back. It’s a real art. So for the higher end ones, yes, they’re still very much made by hand; and also the materials have changed. The lead content that you’re allowed to put in glass has changed, so they’ve had to come up with different ways of creating glass as some of the environmental laws have kicked in, so we’ve had to deal with that over the years. There used to be a considerable amount of lead in the glass … lenses 20 years ago and it’s just not acceptable any more, so we’ve had that change as well.

Mike Horton: Well, you’ve been around, you’ve been using the lenses forever. Are the lenses today better than they were 30, 40 years ago?

Tim Smith: Oh man. Technically, yes, but better, no, because it’s really very subjective. One of my favorite lenses from Canon is a 28 millimeter and it’s a very slow lens and it’s one of our inexpensive lenses. One of the great things about this job is I don’t buy them, but it’s probably one of our least expensive lenses and it’s not one of the better lenses, but because it’s got such a creamy look to it, such a non-perfect look to it, I like it a lot so I use it for different things that way. And then there are other lenses that are just tack sharp, just dead on.

Tim Smith: I think one of the things digital did over the last couple of years to filmmakers as they were transitioning from film to digital is it sort of took one of the options away from them. They used to be able to pick up film stock that would give them a certain look, then they would pick a lens that would give them a certain look. Now, everybody has a digital sensor and the looks are baked in to that particular company’s sensor, so if you’re shooting on a Canon or a RED or a Sony, you really look to your lens selection to help carve out that look.

Tim Smith: It doesn’t always have to be sharp as a tack and sometimes it should and maybe doing a lot of green screen work, so that’s a detail thing. But if you’re doing a period piece from the ‘50s, you don’t want it to look like Monday night football.

Larry Jordan: We have a live chat going on during our conversation, Tim and Alex are asking, what’s the difference between F stops and T stops?

Tim Smith: Mmm, ok. It’s how light is measured. An F stop is a physical opening that’s used in the 35 millimeter world, so if you’re looking at your aperture, it’s physically how large it is measured. A T stop is transmission – how much light is being passed through. It was just the way the two industries went. There is a way to convert F stops to T stops so that you can get the equivalent number, but on a still lens an F stop is the physical measurement of the actual hole, the actual opening in the aperture; and on a cinema lens we call it a T stop, and that’s the amount of light that’s being transmitted through that hole.

Tim Smith: That’s an interesting question. We get that a lot because we make both lenses and you can put a lens on one of our cameras that the lens is barreled with F stops but the camera’s a cinema camera, so it wants to read in T stops. Then there’s some software built in to do that translation for you.

Larry Jordan: One of the things we’ve been working and wrestling with here in our studio is trying to find the right lenses for the cameras that we’ve got, which caused me to discover something that I wasn’t paying any attention to before, which is that there are different lens mounts. We have MFT mounts on our gear here. Canon, I think, makes EF mounts and there are PL mounts. Why the different mounts and does it make a difference in quality and why can’t you guys all do the same thing and make my life easier?

Mike Horton: Yes, like with codecs too, you know?

Tim Smith: From your lips to God’s ears on the Mount. Canon owns the EF mount and that’s something we developed for our electronic focus cameras on the stills, like the 5Ds and so on, and we’re continuing to support that mount. But we also make the bulk of our glass in PL, which stands for positive lock. The PL mount in the film and television industry has been a universal mount system forever.

Tim Smith: It’s a good, sturdy, thick metal mount which instead of where you twist the lens onto the front of a camera and it clicks into place, in the motion picture world the lens always goes in perfectly level and then you twist the lock and mount around the lens and it takes a bite down on it. They both have their positives and their negatives. It’s really more about the economics. If you’re a rental house with $10 million worth of PL glass, how many non-PL cameras do you want to have in your rental pool that you can add lenses to the body?

Larry Jordan: Well, can we convert from different mounts? And is there a quality or image loss if we do a conversion? I’m still trying to get the lenses for my cameras.

Tim Smith: Not necessarily. Yes, conversions can be done. All of our zoom lenses can bounce between the two mounts. We have a series of six primes, though, that are dedicated into PL and there are companies that will do a conversion for that as well, to turn them into PL. But based on the price point of those lenses, they tend to play more in the still world and there are more machines in the field in EF for us to hang them on, and when it comes to profitability lenses are actually better than selling cameras.

Larry Jordan: Can I get Canon lenses to work on non-Canon cameras?

Tim Smith: I have seen that done. I should say this – there are companies out there like Blackmagic which make a camera, which is a competing product to us. I love it because they have our mount on it, so that there are a number of cameras out there that we can put our lenses on is a good thing for our business model and there are adaptors, like the switch between Canon and Nikon. It depends on the physical mount.

Tim Smith: If you’ve got a larger mount on a camera than the lens, you can adapt a lot of things. But if a lens … bigger than the camera, it’s a little bit more tricky. But yes, I’ve seen relatively inexpensive Canon to Nikon adaptors and, as long as they’re buying Canon lenses to put on somebody else’s camera, that’s probably not such a bad thing.

Larry Jordan: Which gets to my point, that you don’t have to buy the lens from the same person that makes the camera, you can mix and match as you see fit.

Tim Smith: True. If you really wanted to scratch your head over this one, though, when we design a sensor it’s based on the color science of our glass as well, so the best in terms of perfection marriage usually is the lens from the company that designed the camera as well. But that said, the changes in what you see are really purely specification changes. From a creativity standpoint, you make your own decisions on that in terms of what you want that image to look like.

Tim Smith: From an engineering standpoint, we go after the sharpest, most perfect, most lifelike reproduction of the world that you can make with an electronic camera. From a creative standpoint, imperfections are part of the image. JJ Abrams with his ability to add lens flare, I mean, we looked forever to take lens flare out of lenses and then you go see ‘Star Trek’ and all you see is lens flare.

Mike Horton: Lots of lens flare, yes.

Tim Smith: And he can use any camera, any lens he wants, but he’s not looking for perfection. There was a wonderful cinematographer named Russell Carpenter, he did ‘Titanic’ and a lot of others, but he worked on a film about Steve Jobs, all shot electronically, but it was Jobs in the ‘60s, the ‘70s, the ‘80s, the ‘90s and so on and every ten year period he was looking for lenses and glass from that era, is my understanding, in order to give it more of the flavor of that period. So you can really do a lot with the imperfections of glass to create a mood.

Mike Horton: Tim, really quickly because we don’t have much time, is it ok to buy a used lens and not ok to buy a used camera?

Tim Smith: There’s much less risk in a used lens and there’s a lot more value to a used lens. We made a series of cinema lenses in the ‘70s called the K35s and we haven’t made them in over 30 years and that lens is still in demand. I promise you, whatever camera we built in the ‘70s doesn’t have a ton of value left, but those lenses were beautiful pieces of glass and they’re still renting.

Tim Smith: I think if I were looking at equipment as an investment, I’d invest in lenses. If I’m looking at equipment to keep up with trends, I’ve got to have a camera too, but I need a business model to pay for the camera. It has to make sense. But if I’m just looking for an investment, I’d buy glass all day long.

Larry Jordan: Tim, for people who want more information, what website can they go to to learn more?

Tim Smith:

Larry Jordan: And Tim Smith is the Senior Film and Television Advisor for Canon. Tim, thanks for joining us today.

Tim Smith: Thanks, Larry. Good seeing and talking to you again.

Mike Horton: Thanks Tim.

Larry Jordan: Bye bye.

Larry Jordan: So are you buying me a lens for Christmas?

Mike Horton: See, there was a lot of camera news this week – the Sony Alpha 7R2 and the Leica Q came out this week and both of them are getting a huge buzz. Sony has internal 4K; the Leica, just a tiny little fixed lens thing for $4,000. I’m sure Tim has looked at both of these but I would have liked to have heard his opinion. But there are too many cameras, Larry.

Larry Jordan: I had a chance to see cameras at Cinegear. I had a wonderful time, I spent the whole day.

Mike Horton: Yes, lots of cameras there. Oh, you did? See, I was there for about two hours and I didn’t understand anything I was looking at, so I left.

Larry Jordan: We were spending time talking codecs.

Mike Horton: Oh, is that what it was? That’s probably why I left, I overheard you and I said, “Oh my God, this is boring.”

Larry Jordan: But I was looking at lenses, I was looking at cameras and I was looking at lights and the variety is just mind-numbing. Trying to make a choice is so hard, which is what Tim …

Mike Horton: And then this year, for the second time, lots of booths with drones. Lots of booths with drones. Three years ago, no drones. Now, drones.

Larry Jordan: Even a year ago, there was barely a drone. I saw my first drone at BVE in London two years ago.

Mike Horton: Oh really?

Larry Jordan: And over the last year and a half, the technology change for drones has been amazing.

Mike Horton: Well, you saw it at NAB, they actually took a whole section of the upstairs at NAB, turned it into a drone pavilion.

Larry Jordan: Flew them around in the cage.

Mike Horton: Flew them around in the cage. Did you go up there?

Larry Jordan: Yes. Well, looking at lights, trying to decide between tungsten lights, which are old school, and the new LED lights and you can’t walk anywhere …

Mike Horton: What do we have in here? Are these tungsten?

Larry Jordan: We’ve got all tungsten except one. We’ve got one LED light, which is your back light, Mike E, and you are going to have your own LED light …

Mike Horton: You’d save a lot of electricity if you put LEDs in here.

Larry Jordan: Yes. Do you know how expensive they are?

Mike Horton: Yes, they are.

Larry Jordan: Oh man.

Mike Horton: But they’ll save you over the 20 year period that you’re here.

Larry Jordan: But one needs to invest in them first time, however.

Mike Horton: Yes, that’s the problem.

Larry Jordan: So you can buy me a lens or a light, whichever you prefer.

Mike Horton: For your birthday …

Larry Jordan: For my birthday.

Mike Horton: …an LED light key light for Larry.

Larry Jordan: It’s been a great show.

Mike Horton: Send your money to whatever Buzz

Larry Jordan: Can I thank our guests?

Mike Horton: Yes, go ahead.

Larry Jordan: We want to thank Oliver Hollis-Leick, motion capture actor and trainer; Larry O’Connor, the CEO of Other World Computing; and Tim Smith, Senior Advisor for Film and Television for Canon, who loves talked codecs as well as lenses with Mike.

Mike Horton: Yes he does.

Larry Jordan: There’s lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website …

Mike Horton: He’s a fun guy to bring to parties.

Larry Jordan: …at Much more fun than someone else I could look at. If you haven’t visited recently, check it out, we’ve been making a lot of changes to The Buzz website.

Larry Jordan: You can talk with us on Twitter, @DPBuZZ, and Facebook, at Our theme music is composed by Nathan Doogie Turner, additional music from Text transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription. Transcripts are located on each show page and you can learn more at and thanks, Take 1, for making it possible.

Larry Jordan: Our producer is Cirina Catania; engineering led by Megan Paulos, including Ed Golya, Keegan Guy, Alex Hackworth, Lindsay Luebbert and Brianna Murphy. On behalf of Mike Horton, my name’s Larry Jordan; and thanks for listening to The Buzz.

Digital Production Buzz – June 11, 2015

Join Larry Jordan and Mike Horton as they talk with Oliver Hollis-Leick, Larry O’Connor, and Tim Smith.

  • Inside Tips on MoCap Acting
  • Not All Cables Are Created Equal
  • Pick the Right Lens for Your Camera

View Show Transcript

Watch the Full Episode

Buzz on YouTubeTranscript

Listen to the Full Episode

Buzz on iTunesTranscript

Guests this Week

Oliver Hollis-Leick
Oliver Hollis-Leick, Co-Founder, The Mocap Vaults
Oliver Hollis-Leick, founder of The Mocap Vault, is a 13-year mocap acting veteran that has worked on over 80 videogame and movie titles, with roles in such films as “Iron Man 2,” “Total Recall,” “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” among many others, The Mocap Vault’s goal is teach today’s actors and filmmakers mocap techniques for video game and feature films. He joins us this week to share some of his secrets.
Larry OConnor
Larry O’Connor, President & Founder, Other World Computing
Not all cables are the same. Construction and component quality make a difference in how well your system will work. Larry O’Connor, CEO of OWC, joins us this week to explain what we need to know to make sure our cables are up to snuff.
Tim Smith
Tim Smith, Senior Film and Television Advisor, Canon USA, Inc.
Tim Smith has been with Canon for more than 25 years and serves as a Senior Film and Television Advisor. He’s the perfect person to talk about picking the right camera, which is exactly what we are about to do.

Transcript: Digital Production Buzz – June 4, 2015

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Digital Production Buzz

June 4, 2015

[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]


(Click here to listen to this show.)


Larry Jordan & Mike Horton


Eddie Robison, VFX Supervisor, Inhance Digital

James Cullen Bressack, Writer/Director, Pernicious

Louis Kravitz, Still Photographer


Announcer: Tonight’s Digital Production Buzz is brought to you by Other World Computing at

Voiceover: Rolling. Action!

Larry Jordan: Since the dawn of digital film making …

Voiceover: Authoritative.

Larry Jordan: …one show serves a worldwide network of media professionals …

Voiceover: Current.

Larry Jordan: …uniting industry experts …

Voiceover: Production.

Larry Jordan: …film makers …

Voiceover: Post production.

Larry Jordan: …and content creators around the planet.

Voiceover: Distribution.

Larry Jordan: From the media capital of the world in Los Angeles, California, The Digital Production Buzz goes 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 and joining us is the ever affable co-host, Mr. Mike Horton.

Mike Horton: Hello Larry.

Larry Jordan: It’s good to see you. I’ve got something I want to talk to you about, but not quite …

Mike Horton: Really?

Larry Jordan: Yes, yes, we’re going to come right back to you.

Mike Horton: Is it something fun?

Larry Jordan: Oh yes.

Mike Horton: Ok.

Larry Jordan: And humorous.

Mike Horton: Humorous? Oooh, I can’t wait.

Larry Jordan: We start our show with Eddie Robison. He’s the VFX supervisor at Inhance Digital. He’s done visual effects for ‘Star Trek Voyager,’ NBC’s Grimm and a wide variety of feature films, commercials and TV shows. He joins us tonight to talk about creating effects for ‘Grimm.’

Larry Jordan: Then, thinking of ‘Grimm,’ James Cullen Bressack creates horror films. As the writer and director of the ‘Pernicious’ film, which releases later this month, we talk with him tonight about what it takes to create a successful horror film besides buckets of blood.

Larry Jordan: And Louis Kravitz is a celebrated still photographer who travels the world taking pictures of people. He also is staging an exhibition of his work. He talks with us tonight about the creative challenges of taking world class images.

Larry Jordan: Mike, the thing I mentioned earlier …

Mike Horton: Yes?

Larry Jordan: …is we just did a webinar yesterday talking about audio and microphones and we had actors …

Mike Horton: Oh, is that what all those microphones were all about?

Larry Jordan: We had actors in the studio, we had 12 different microphones – these Electro-Voice RE20s, we had Audio-Technica headsets, Countryman headsets, Sennheisers and Tram microphones. We took actors outside and just listened to the difference in mic quality and how mic position changed, it was amazing, change the position of a mic just a little bit and audio quality changes totally.

Mike Horton: You had a lot of Lavs out there, so you had actors outside with Lavs?

Larry Jordan: We had actors. We rolled cameras out the back and did pictures and sound. We took a Shotgun and moved the Shotgun on and off axis. We had a Lavalier that you held down at your tummy and moved it up to see where the best position for the Lav is. I had one of our actors wearing five different microphones and we listened to the sound quality as he switched from one to the other.

Mike Horton: You know, back when I was an actor, the field audio guys would always send somebody over to put a Lav on you and it would always be somewhere around here, unless of course you were doing a T-shirt thing or a swimsuit thing, and then they’d have to do all sorts of weird things with the boom and everything else. You eventually looped everything because a lot of it didn’t work. Ed can tell you that.

Larry Jordan: What we discovered is that we can get really, really good audio with a boom mic if you get it within about one and a half, two feet of the talent.

Mike Horton: Well, there’s an art to the guy who’s actually holding the stick and the boom mic. But was there a winner?

Larry Jordan: Yes. We love the Rode NTG2 Shotgun mic.

Mike Horton: Really? That’s cheaper than the Sennheisers, right?

Larry Jordan: Yes. We loved the Tram TR50, we use those. In fact, we’re going to have Lavs for us soon and you are going to be on a Tram …

Mike Horton: So we can actually walk around and get out of camera? I could do it over there on a …

Larry Jordan: You dancing? Yes, it’s going to …

Mike Horton: I can lay down on a couch.

Larry Jordan: And we would notice the difference?

Mike Horton: Yes. I’m still here, Larry.

Larry Jordan: Visit with us on Facebook at; we’re on Twitter, @DPBuZZ, and subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at Mike and I, the guy that’s not asleep on the couch, will be right back with Eddie Robison right after this.

Larry Jordan: Our friends at Other World Computing are looking for a creative, fan-made commercial, so they’re hosting a video contest with an incredible grand prize of a dream video workstation. This prize package includes a 2013 Apple Mac Pro and a 4K display, an Avid Artist’s transport console and color control surface, a 16 terabyte OWC Thunderbay 4, a GoPro Hero and more.

Larry Jordan: The whole package is worth over $12,000. Whether you’re a seasoned pro shooting with high end gear or a newcomer shooting with your iPhone, now you can show off your video making talent in a 30 to 60 second commercial about OWC. The deadline for entries is June 30th, so start shooting. Visit for all the details. That’s Don’t miss out.

Larry Jordan: Eddie Robison is the VFX supervisor at Enhanced Digital. He started in visual effects in 1996 and he’s held staff positions at six different post facilities. His work has appeared in feature films, music videos and over 40 different TV shows, including ‘Star Trek Enterprise,’ ‘X Files’ and ‘CSI: Miami’ and NBC’s ‘Grimm.’ Eddie was also nominated for a VES award and an Emmy award. Hello, Eddie, welcome.

Eddie Robison: Hey guys, Larry, Mike, thanks for having me.

Mike Horton: Hi Eddie.

Larry Jordan: We are delighted to have you with us. Before we start talking about ‘Grimm,’ because I want to get into a lot of the details with that, what got you into visual effects?

Eddie Robison: Good question. I was doing graphics for a company that produced chachkies and I didn’t really have any exposure to 3D until a friend of mine who was a PA on the film ‘Truman Show’ introduced me to their in-house … guy, whose name is Matt Markowitz. He became my guru and showed me the ropes, basically.

Larry Jordan: Well, now that you’re creating effects, what software tools are you using?

Eddie Robison: I use a lot of different packages at work. For compositing, we use Fusion by Blackmagic and then for 3d kind of things we use the best tool for the job, meaning we could use 3D Studio Max we can use Maya, we can use Lightwave. We do some stopping in ZBrush, it just depends on what the …

Larry Jordan: Well, you’ve been using Fusion on programs like ‘Star Trek Voyager’ and ‘CSI: Miami,’ as well as NBC’s ‘Grimm.’ What is it about Fusion that you like?

Eddie Robison: I got my first job doing 3D and I wasn’t really exposed to compositing, but after I moved over to a company called Digital … I was exposed to desktop compositing. Before that, it was all done in … and a lot of your listeners probably don’t even know what those are, they’re so old. But I was introduced to what was then called Digital Fusion, it was 3.0, and it was a way to break elements without the gels … and a new basic comp. It was very powerful and it was really thrilling as an artist to be able to comp my own stuff and so I stuck with it. Fusion has very … independent workflows before anyone else did …

Larry Jordan: Eddie, take a break. Your cell phone is breaking up.

Mike Horton: I was wondering, before Blackmagic bought Fusion, everybody thought Fusion was dead, with Nuke and Maya and everything else supplanting Fusion, and now that it’s free, which is quite amazing, has that changed anything? You were one of the few people actually using it.

Eddie Robison: Yes, it’s funny, you say I’m one of the few people using it but this industry is full of pockets of artists that came up together and I know a lot of people who use it, I know a lot of houses that still use it. I’m hoping that Blackmagic buying it and making it free for home users will create a larger user base for it and it will make a comeback.

Eddie Robison: The bottom line with packages like Nuke is – and we all know that Nuke is prevalent throughout the industry now – is that it’s insanely expensive and so hopefully Blackmagic will bring Fusion back, as it were. The product is not actually free for studios, there is a studio version that I believe is about one fifth the price of Nuke, but it’s still not free. It’s free for the home user and hopefully that will create a base.

Mike Horton: In terms of the user interface, is Fusion more intuitive than Nuke or the same or harder to use?

Eddie Robison: For me, it’s easy, it’s like second nature because I’ve been using it so long. It’s a node based compositor, so it’s a lot like Nuke in that respect. It’s way more different to After Effects than it is to, say, Nuke.

Mike Horton: It was just that Moviola put a bunch of tutorials on how to use Fusion, which are excellent by the way, and I want to plug this because they really are good. But for those of us who don’t understand node based compositing, which I don’t, I can’t get my head around that whole thing because we’re into non-linear editing and the node based compositing is just so weird, but it’s actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. You just have to have talent.

Eddie Robison: Well, not only that but you have to get the basics of it. They call it the flow and it really does flow from one side of the screen to the other, or however you want to do it. You can do it top down, right to left, left to right, but you essentially just line up nodes and you pipe them into one another. In my case, I start on the far left with my plate and I end on the far right with my saver. Everything happens in between, it’s pretty easy to follow. What makes it so powerful is that you can customize it to your own plate. You’re not just locked into one way of doing it.

Larry Jordan: I want to focus on using Fusion with ‘Grimm.’ Talk to us about your workflow. When do you get involved with each individual episode and how does the effects process work?

Eddie Robison: At the beginning, we get a script and a basic breakdown from the visual effects supervisor, who is called Ed Irastorza, and my producer, Jane Saks, and myself sit down and go through the whole thing and do a bid.

Larry Jordan: Now wait, wait, hang on one second. Let’s just put this in time. Is this before or after shooting of the show?

Eddie Robison: This is immediately before. After the show is shot and they got through editorial and they start doing a rough online edit, they give us a chance to re-bid the show. Then we can give a more accurate bid of how each shot is going to work. Sometimes they have these grand designs that can’t be done on a TV budget, so after it’s shot and we see exactly what it all entails, then we adjust the bid.

Larry Jordan: Ok, so you’ve got a bid and you’ve got all the shots not maybe planned, but you have a sense of how many shots you have to create.

Eddie Robison: Exactly. The shots are awarded and then we get our plates and we start production on it and we typically get somewhere around two weeks to work on an episode.

Mike Horton: Jeez, you’re kidding! Two weeks, that’s it?

Eddie Robison: Exactly.

Mike Horton: Oh my God.

Eddie Robison: Yes, it’s TV.

Larry Jordan: Well, let’s back up a step, because you used a term I want you to explain. You said you get your plates and you start working on the effects. What is a plate?

Eddie Robison: The plate is the image sequence that is basically the background photography that was shot in production on set.

Larry Jordan: So it’s not just the background, it’s the actors, it’s whatever they shot is what you’re getting.

Eddie Robison: Indeed, yes. It can be actors acting over a green screen or it could be an establishing shot of the city. Anything they give us that is principal photography, that’s the plate.

Mike Horton: What about the actors that turn into those monster characters and things like that? That’s not a plate, is it?

Eddie Robison: Yes it is.

Mike Horton: It is?

Eddie Robison: Yes. Some of the actors that come to us, the actors have green dots all over their face that we use for 3D tracking. We then have to remove those dots, which is time consuming but it’s very necessary to have them there for an accurate track. Then, depending on whatever creature it is that week, we take the track into 3D and we start match moving and doing the animation of the 3D character.

Larry Jordan: Well, how do you remove the tracking dots? I’ve often wondered that.

Eddie Robison: In Fusion, there are a couple of different ways we do it. You can actually paint every frame if you need to. Sometimes we have to do that if the dot is moving in and out of shadow, let’s say, or coming from one side of the face as they turn and disappearing around the other. There are a variety of methods.

Eddie Robison: There’s another method that we use that we’ve termed the slip, where we actually merge the plate over itself, offset it to the right or left and reveal that through an effects mask, so essentially we’re cloning without using a cloning tool. It really depends on the complexities of the shot when we see it.

Larry Jordan: That has got to be time consuming. It’s got to take forever.

Eddie Robison: Yes, it is. We have a couple of guys that are pretty ace at it. We all do it. It’s not the most fun job in the world, for sure. You really sometimes want to just get to the meat of it and start doing the fun stuff, but it’s got to be done.

Larry Jordan: That’s true.

Mike Horton: Speaking of all this fun stuff, you do get wonderful results, especially in ‘Grimm,’ which I’m a big fan of. It seems to me that the visual effects in television are just as good as the visual effects in the movies, but yet you’ve got two weeks to do them.

Eddie Robison: Yes, it’s getting there, it really is. Some of the stuff that you see on TV, like I’m sure you guys are fans of ‘Game of Thrones,’ everyone is, last Sunday’s episode, my job was on the floor. The things that they’re putting on TV now and calling a TV show are bigger and more ambitious than a lot of film stuff used to be and it does become daunting at times, but we just kind of power through.

Eddie Robison: We’ve got really special guys who we call generalists because they generally can do all – we don’t have time for a film pipeline which consists of a separate modeler, a separate texture artist, a separate rigger, a separate animator, compositor, all that. The guys who are on my team generally can do it all.

Larry Jordan: How big a team do you have? How many people are involved in this two week project?

Mike Horton: 250.

Eddie Robison: Would you believe it if I told you we do it with about eight guys?

Mike Horton: Oh, no, I don’t believe it.

Larry Jordan: No, we don’t believe it.

Mike Horton: No, don’t believe it. You’re lying.

Eddie Robison: Ok, seven guys and one lady.

Mike Horton: Jeez, that’s just insane. Is that, like, 20 hour days?

Eddie Robison: No, believe it or not, it’s not. It can be and sometimes you work a little overtime or you work a weekend day, but this is season five, we were in at the ground floor of season one, so we’ve got a really good working relationship with Ed and Adam on the post side of production and we’ve really worked it out so we know what we’re doing. We kind of hit the ground running.

Eddie Robison: And when I say two weeks, we do two weeks on the shots. We generally turn an artist over a week before and start doing the sculpt of the characters so that when the plates arrive we’ve got a character that’s basically approved and ready to go. So I guess I lied a little bit.

Mike Horton: Aha!

Larry Jordan: Do you need to do much rotoscoping? And, if so, what for?

Eddie Robison: We do a ton of it. It is a necessary evil and no-one really loves doing it but it kind of is where the magic happens. It’s where it really marries up to the plate, so if I’ve got a woman in a turtleneck sweater and she turns into a lizard, I’ve got to somehow tuck that lizards behind the turtleneck, don’t I?

Eddie Robison: So I’ve got to roto the neck and any hand movement she does that might cross her face, anything that goes in front of her has to be roto’d and quite often in the case of ‘Grimm,’ they’ll have someone with a big hairdo and then the creature has to kind of shrink in because it doesn’t have hair, it’s like a lizard, let’s just say in the case of that.

Eddie Robison: So we use rotoscoping in combination with our dot removal techniques to do something called clean plating, which is removing their hair and creating pockets of clean background so that when we shrink their head into the character, you don’t see all the stuff poking out from behind.

Larry Jordan: It sounds like an immense amount of work to be able to make an effect which lasts for about a second and a half.

Eddie Robison: It is.

Mike Horton: You talked about that you have to bid on this stuff every episode. Did I hear that right?

Eddie Robison: Yes. There are 22 episodes in a season of ‘Grimm.’ We generally bid every episode. We will generally work on almost every episode, but we are one of three principal houses that work on it.

Mike Horton: Oh, so are there some times when other houses beat you out and you don’t get the gig?

Eddie Robison: It’s not that, it’s that the timeline is so tight and the turnover is so quick and the work so complicated, they just won’t give it all to one house.

Mike Horton: Oh, ok.

Eddie Robison: So we’ll be working on episode one while two and three are also being worked on and, by the time we turn over one and deliver, we might do a couple of shots for three and then we’re back on for four, so the bulk of the huge effects aren’t always on one place. It’s kind of a smart way that they do it.

Mike Horton: Is there a lot of outsourcing of visual effects in the TV industry or is it pretty much just the movies?

Eddie Robison: No, there’s tons of outsourcing in the industry. I think there’s probably more film production for TV going on in Georgia right now than there is here, not to mention Canada. I just read an email the other day that said 350 million in tax incentives approved for California and some of the work is coming back and hopefully they will keep that trend going.

Mike Horton: Yes, hopefully.

Larry Jordan: Eddie, who decides the look of the effects? Do you invent it and just surprise the producers or do you have a lot of discussions about how stuff is going to look?

Eddie Robison: They don’t like surprises. They have a concept artist for creatures and they send real cool drawings of what they think the creature should look like from a particular angle. Mind you, the creature needs to be sussed out from all angles because it’s 3D and the characters can be turning every which way in front of the camera, so we have to extrapolate what it looks like at the back and around the other side and all that stuff. Typically, we’ll take concept art and do a sculpt, we’ll do a … which is just a rotation of the 3D model, and send it out for approval.

Mike Horton: By the way, when Fusion comes to the Mac, are you going to be using Macs?

Eddie Robison: No. No, no. My iPhone that I’m talking to you on now is as far toward the Mac as I want to be.

Mike Horton: Ok. All right.

Larry Jordan: What programs are you doing besides ‘Grimm,’ in the few seconds we’ve got left?

Eddie Robison: We just finished our first full season of ‘Jane the Virgin.’ We also just finished our third season of ‘Nashville.’ We worked on a pilot called ‘Rush Hour,’ which will be a mid-season replacement, it was picked up, and we’ve not heard word yet that we’ve got it for series, but we did over 100 shots for that pilot.

Larry Jordan: Wow.

Eddie Robison: We worked on ‘Episodes,’ which is on Showtime, I believe.

Larry Jordan: And Eddie, for people who want to keep track of what you guys are doing, where can they go on the web?

Eddie Robison: or just

Larry Jordan: And Eddie Robison is the VFX supervisor for Inhance Digital. Eddie, thanks for joining us today.

Eddie Robison: You bet. My pleasure.

Mike Horton: Thanks Eddie, that was a lot of fun.

Larry Jordan: Bye bye.

Eddie Robison: Thank you.

Larry Jordan: I’ve got a ton of brand new training videos showcasing all the new features in Final Cut Pro 10.2, and they’re all available today. In fact, we’ve updated our entire Final Cut training for this release. We added more than 70 new movies covering every major and minor new feature in the software.

Larry Jordan: Then I figured, as long as I was recording, I added new techniques and new ways of working that I’ve discovered and written about in my newsletter over the years. We’ve updated our workflow in editing training with 31 new movies and effects with 41 new movies. This makes our Final Cut training the most comprehensive, most up to date and most affordable way to learn everything about this amazing software. It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s complete.

Larry Jordan: I’m proud of all of my training and especially proud of this one. Get your copy today in our store at or, even better, become a member of our video training library and get access to all of our training for one low monthly price. Both are incredible value. Thanks.

Larry Jordan: James Cullen Bressack is one of the most popular filmmakers creating modern day horror films. His credits include ‘Jennifer,’ ‘Hate Crime’ and ‘13/13/13’ and the brand new release, ‘Pernicious.’ Shot and set in Thailand, ‘Pernicious’ is a bloody, no-holds barred horror film that is James’ first theatrical release. Hello, James, welcome.

James Cullen Bressack: Hey, thanks for having me.

Larry Jordan: Yes, well, I’m not so sure. Anyway, we’re delighted to have you as a guest …

Mike Horton: We should have some background music. Horror background music going on.

Larry Jordan: I need to confess up front that horror films are my least favorite film genre.

Mike Horton: Oh, really? I love them.

Larry Jordan: I got 45 seconds in the trailer, I said, “This is an amazing piece of work.” I mean, I get scared when the lights are on. That being said, what makes horror films so fascinating to you?

James Cullen Bressack: For me, working with an actor and talking with them about the darkest recesses of humanity and the human mind have always interested me because no evil person ever truly feels that they’re evil.

Larry Jordan: Well, that’s a true statement for sure. I was just thinking, wearing your filmmaker hat, it’s been said that the most profitable genre for independent filmmakers is horror films. Have you found that to be true for yourself?

James Cullen Bressack: I don’t necessarily know. I guess they would say that horror is the most profitable genre but I didn’t really dabble in other genres, so I can’t really compare.

Larry Jordan: Oh, horror’s all you’ve done?

James Cullen Bressack: Yes. I’m now in production on my first drama, but I’ve only done horror.

Mike Horton: Now, how do you define a horror movie?

James Cullen Bressack: I define a horror movie as ordinary people put in extraordinary situations.

Mike Horton: Well, that could be a suspense film, that could be a thriller, that could be a lot of things. Would ‘The Exorcist’ be a horror film? Would ‘The Omen’ be a horror film?

James Cullen Bressack: I believe ‘The Exorcist’ is a horror film. I believe ‘The Omen’ is a horror film. But that’s how mainstream society would classify it. I actually personally feel like I’ve never really made a horror film. I’ve just made stories about people that have crazy things that happen to them, but what makes it a horror film if a ghost shows up and kills people? Is it just the fact that it’s killing people?

James Cullen Bressack: Or if the ghost shows up and it’s friendly, is that still a horror film? Watching something like ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ that’s terrifying, but it’s not a horror film. I think that sometimes we try to clump things in genres but ultimately I think I haven’t quite really made horror films, I’ve made stories about people.

Mike Horton: Well, we’re forced to classify these films into genres now with the internet and keywords and Netflix, in order to search for something you have to have a keyword and one of those keywords is horror.

James Cullen Bressack: Yes, yes, definitely. I definitely think that the horror films that I’ve made are a little different than others, but I definitely agree with you.

Larry Jordan: James, can you tell us about your newest film, ‘Pernicious?’

James Cullen Bressack: My newest film ‘Pernicious’ is about three girls going to Thailand and awakening an ancient evil.

Larry Jordan: It sounds like a perfect …

Mike Horton: Horror film.

Larry Jordan: …a perfect horror film. Like I said, I watched the beginning of the trailer and some of the imagery is really, really nice. What was it like to shoot in Thailand?

James Cullen Bressack: Oh, it was amazing. It was such a beautiful place. I spent three months there and it’s just something that I will live with forever. I’m going to remember that for the rest of my life.

Larry Jordan: That is very cool.

Mike Horton: I heard it’s hot.

James Cullen Bressack: Oh, you have no idea. It’s hot, humid. You’re walking and it feels like you’re swimming.

Larry Jordan: Put your writer/director hat on, because you were both the writer and the director for ‘Pernicious.’ When you’re writing a film, we’ll call it a horror film, are you keeping certain ideas in mind as opposed to writing a drama? Are there genre tricks that you’re using to keep the audience enthralled?

James Cullen Bressack: Yes, I like to go by an eight act structure that horror films follow sometimes. Most follow a three act structure, but an eight act structure makes sure that something scary happens every couple of pages.

James Cullen Bressack: Probably why I say that I haven’t really made a horror movie is every single horror movie I write, I start off writing as a comedy or as a drama and then I get sick of the characters, so I start killing them. I never really set out to make a horror film, so when you’re watching ‘Pernicious,’ the first half of the movie isn’t really that scary, but then I’m like, “No, everybody has to die now.”

Larry Jordan: It sounds to me like, in order to make it really scary, the audience has to care at some level about the characters.

James Cullen Bressack: Yes, I definitely think there has to be that connection.

Larry Jordan: And if they don’t, if they’re just cartoons, then it’s not scary to put them in jeopardy because nobody particularly cares.

James Cullen Bressack: I definitely agree with that, although I would be shocked if they were literal cartoons in the roles of characters.

Larry Jordan: We have a live chat and Eric on our live chat wanted to know more specifically where you shot in Thailand.

James Cullen Bressack: I shot in Bangkok and Ayutthaya.

Larry Jordan: Ok, and when you are creating a horror film, how important are effects? Or is it more that the character’s in jeopardy?

James Cullen Bressack: I think characters in jeopardy are important, but myself being a huge fan of practical effects I think effects are everything really.

Larry Jordan: Are these all mechanical that you do on set or are you going back and doing them in post later?

James Cullen Bressack: These are all practical, we did these on set. I think having real practical gore is important. It’s just so much more visceral and disgusting and I’m heavily inspired by the films of the 1980s. The gore back then was so much better than the CGI stuff that they do today.

Mike Horton: Yes, that was going to be my next question – who are your influencers here? The 1980s, you just said?

James Cullen Bressack: Yes, yes, I was heavily influenced by a lot of Asian cinema. I’ve always been a huge fan of Korean and Japanese films, the works of Takashi Miike and Park Chan-wook, but I guess I was heavily inspired by Ely Roth.

Mike Horton: Yes, you get a lot of gore there.

James Cullen Bressack: Yes.

Larry Jordan: When you’re casting, are you looking for a particular type of actor?

James Cullen Bressack: Yes, I usually look for who’s best for the role and that movie I had auditions for, but typically I hate having auditions, I usually just think, “Hmm, I’ve seen this person do this in this movie. I bet you they could do that in my movie,” so I just cast them off of that.

Mike Horton: That’s really the only way, especially if you’re going to bring your actors to a hot and humid place where the conditions are not exactly wonderful. You’d better have really, really good food and a really, really good time and really, really good personalities.

James Cullen Bressack: Definitely, and I was blessed with these three heroes. They were so amazing to work with and super sweet.

Mike Horton: That’s great.

Larry Jordan: Do you enjoy writing the film, directing the film or marketing the film the most?

James Cullen Bressack: I enjoy all three. I think that it’s part of the film for me. I prefer doing all three. I think it’s all rolled into my job as the director.

Larry Jordan: Now, my understanding is ‘Pernicious’ has been picked up by a company, it’s their first time feature and it’s also your first theatrical release. How did that happen?

James Cullen Bressack: It is my first theatrical but it’s not my first feature.

Larry Jordan: I mis-spoke. I didn’t mean to imply that. I should have said first theatrical feature release. How did you land that?

James Cullen Bressack: The producers … the film just really believe in it and they wanted to give it a theatrical release, so they made sure that it happened.

Mike Horton: Did you have to run the gamut of the film festival circuit and all that kind of stuff before you got the sale?

James Cullen Bressack: Yes, yes. We played festivals in Spain and I did a Q&A for a festival in Australia and we played festivals in Thailand. We played all around the world, so we definitely did the festival circuit.

Larry Jordan: Back to our live chat. Caesar writes that, “I’m a horror movie fan. I just saw the trailer for ‘Pernicious’ and it looks interesting. My favorite horror film,” Caesar continues, “is probably Rob Zombie’s ‘Halloween.’ He took horror to a new level.” James, did you see that?

Mike Horton: Rob Zombie did ‘Halloween?’ I didn’t think so.

James Cullen Bressack: I did see Rob Zombie’s ‘Halloween.’

Mike Horton: Oh, he did?

James Cullen Bressack: And though I did think it was good, I do challenge you to see John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween.’

Mike Horton: Oh, that one, ok. I was thinking of John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween,’ not Rob Zombie’s.

Larry Jordan: Well, we’ll see if Caesar has a comment, but he specifically asked about Rob Zombie’s ‘Halloween.’ Everybody’s got favorites.

James Cullen Bressack: Yes, I definitely think Rob Zombie’s Halloween is a visceral film and it’s definitely a darker look into the character of Michael Myers. I did enjoy it, I just will always forever be a fan of the original.

Mike Horton: Yes, how can you not?

Larry Jordan: Thinking of fans of films, where can people go on the web to learn more about ‘Pernicious?’

James Cullen Bressack: You can check out ‘Pernicious’ on or you can check out my website, or follow me on Twitter, @jamescullenb, or follow perniciousthemovie on Twitter.

Larry Jordan: That’s or James, thanks for joining us today.

James Cullen Bressack: Thank you so much for having me.

Mike Horton: Thanks James.

Larry Jordan: Bye bye.

James Cullen Bressack: Bye.

Larry Jordan: Prior to becoming a still photographer, Louis Kravitz worked for 45 years as an actuary, founding the still successful Kravitz Inc., which is headquartered in LA. We caught up with him at the Coffee Fix in Studio City, where he is exhibiting a fascinating series entitled Kolkata Morning. The back story of these images from India is very compelling. Hello, Louis, welcome.

Louis Kravitz: Hi, how you doing, Larry?

Larry Jordan: We are doing great. How about yourself?

Louis Kravitz: I have a lot of background noise, for some reason. Maybe when I set up this Skype. Maybe I need to shut your program off, hold on.

Mike Horton: Yes, you need to shut our program down.

Larry Jordan: Definitely shut the program down.

Louis Kravitz: Yes, I’m sorry. I had it on Safari. I shut Safari off, that’s better.

Mike Horton: Yes, there you go.

Larry Jordan: Now you look great.

Mike Horton: And you sound great.

Larry Jordan: Yes, and the picture’s looking great as well.

Mike Horton: Is it? I can’t see the picture.

Larry Jordan: We don’t show you the picture.

Mike Horton: Why don’t I get to see the picture? I’m looking into a blank screen. I have no idea what he looks like …

Larry Jordan: Because you’re not a visual guy.

Mike Horton: …I have no idea where he lives. Ok.

Larry Jordan: Louis, photography is quite a switch from the dry numbers of being an actuary. What got you interested in photography?

Louis Kravitz: I always loved to travel. I started travelling, I had my first anxiety attack in 1990 going to Irian Jaya, and I used to carry a camera with me. About 2002, I decided to take it a little bit more seriously and as I got older I realized I had someone in my older son who could take over my business and really succeed and probably do better than I could, and photography was my way out of my business. So my son now runs our business, it’s an actuarial consulting firm in Encino, and I get to travel the world and take pictures.

Mike Horton: Wow. What a great life.

Louis Kravitz: You’re absolutely right. I’m a very fortunate man.

Larry Jordan: On your website, you describe your photos as being about people and their reaction to you. What do you mean by reaction?

Louis Kravitz: When I travel, I like to meet people and I’m not a street photographer that likes to just take a picture without them knowing about it. I like people to know I’m taking their picture and spend some time, enter into a conversation, so they’re reacting to me and that’s very different to what a lot of other street photographers might do. They want to catch them unaware. I want them to be aware of me and it’s kind of fun to interact and eventually maybe take a picture of them doing something interesting.

Mike Horton: Yes, a number of the pictures I’m looking at right now are somewhat posed, but others are not. How do you gain their trust, especially when you’re dealing with different cultures and different languages?

Louis Kravitz: I’m a short old guy who’s not very intimidating.

Mike Horton: So if people look like you and talk like you, you can take good photographs or gain their trust.

Louis Kravitz: Yes, I’m also from New York and I got a lot of chutzpah.

Mike Horton: Ok, there you go.

Louis Kravitz: I think it’s that I like people. I enjoy the interaction with people and I think for the most part people sense that. I’ve been very fortunate as I’ve travelled to meet a lot of people. Calcutta was a very great experience for me.

Larry Jordan: I want to get there, but I want to ask one more question before we do, which is which photographer had the most influence on your creative style?

Louis Kravitz: Probably Steve McCurry, because if it wasn’t for him I probably never would have gone to India. I saw the pictures he took, I was really impressed with them and I wanted to take pictures just like him, so in 2008 is when I went to India, sort of following in his footsteps.

Larry Jordan: So tell me about the India trip. What did you do?

Louis Kravitz: 2008 was my first trip to India. I didn’t want to stay in the cities, I found the cities, well, they’re big, they’re dirty. I went to rural areas, I went to Jadasca and I went to … and I shot at farming communities, tribal areas and that was my beginning in photographing in India. I later went to Gujarat and Rajasthan, I made some friends as I travelled.

Louis Kravitz: I was in southern India in January of 2012 and my guide and friend, Sheba Bunyan decided I needed to go to Calcutta. I was going to go to Asia, as it turns out, in October of 2012. I spent seven days in Calcutta and that’s how the project started.

Larry Jordan: Wow.

Mike Horton: Do you find people of lesser means in the rural areas more interesting subjects than, say, the people who have better means in the cities, in terms of just that interesting subject, that face, that story that they might be able to tell?

Louis Kravitz: You know what? I’ve never thought about that, but yes, and the reason I think is that they’re very curious about us, they’re very curious about me. On my website, I have a lot of pictures of Hindu and Muslim women who are revealing their faces to me, but I’m not their husband and they’re not supposed to do that.

Louis Kravitz: But they’re revealing their face to me because they’re very curious and they want to know what I’m going to do with that camera, so there are pictures of them just pulling the veil away from their face and I’m shooting that face. I just came back from Japan. When you’re in a Western civilization, they know what I’m doing. It’s not as interesting for them they’re not that curious about me, I’m just another photographer.

Larry Jordan: Well, one of the things that your website said that I was intrigued by – let me just get this quote correct – you write about showing the themes people share as they move through your life. What are those themes that you’re finding that are common between different cultures?

Louis Kravitz: What travelling has done has give me maybe a worldwide perspective on people. We all want to be healthy. We want our children to grow and prosper. We want love in our life. The thing that amazed me as I started travelling, whether I was in Irian Jaya with Stone Age people or in Africa with the Maasai or in India with the … people, we’re the same. We’ll bleed, we want the same and the fact is I think we’re all brothers.

Louis Kravitz: That we war against each other and we do harm to each other really amazes me. I don’t understand it at all because it’s like hurting someone in your own family. I think when you travel, you get a whole different perspective and I think one of the problems in our country is a lot of people don’t travel. They have an image of what the people are like in another country, they have no idea.

Mike Horton: Yes. I love the quote from Mark Twain, ‘the greatest threat to bigotry is travel.’

Louis Kravitz: Yes.

Mike Horton: You want to see the truth? Travel.

Louis Kravitz: I once had an idiot say to me – I’m Jewish – “How does it feel to have one and a half billion people hate you?” and I’ve been to Turkey, I’ve been through India with 250 million Muslims. That’s just bullshit.

Larry Jordan: What’s your style of shooting? It sounds like you ask their permission. Do you pay your subjects and are you shooting a lot of shots, or are you just grabbing a couple? How do you work?

Louis Kravitz: I typically walk down a street – in Calcutta I was getting up at daybreak. If I see an interesting scene, I’ll take it. If I see an interesting face, I might shoot first and then my style is, if you were standing in the street, I might shoot you from a distance. You, actually, modern man, I might pick up my camera and nudge to you and ask you basically if it’s ok, and if you nodded yes I would shoot and I would keep getting closer and closer to you and I keep taking pictures as I get closer.

Louis Kravitz: I then eventually get into a conversation. If we don’t speak the same language, it’s very hard to do that, so it’s more like smiles, it’s more like body language. You’re sort of just connecting and as we’re connecting, I’m shooting. You’re sort of connecting with your eyes. Does that make sense?

Larry Jordan: It does, but how do you handle things like releases? If you’re going to sell or publish a photograph, how do you get release for your subjects?

Louis Kravitz: Well, when you’re in India, I just don’t. I don’t expect to be using it commercially. My understanding of release is if it’s not being used for commercial purposes, you don’t need a release. So if I’m showing it on the wall as a work of art, you don’t need a release. That’s been litigated, I understand.

Mike Horton: Yes, and there’s so much disagreement there. It’s just ridiculous.

Louis Kravitz: Anybody can sue you for anything.

Mike Horton: Yes, that’s true, and they do.

Louis Kravitz: I’m doing a new project I’m excited about for an organization called Justice In Aging, so I’ll be shooting senior citizens in various environments. There … going to get a release because they’ll be using them on their website and it gives them some security. I shot at a veterans’ center, disabled veterans getting haircuts. Everybody signed a release. But walking in India, that’s impossible.

Larry Jordan: Let’s talk about this exhibit you’re putting together. What’s involved in staging an exhibit of photographs?

Louis Kravitz: You’re taking thousands of pictures. It’s editing it down to, in this case, 20 pictures. It’s trying to learn to sequence them. Maybe if you’re lucky like me, have friends help me to sequence and pick them. I may pick 40 and they’ll help me narrow them down to 20. When you’re so involved and you’re so close, it’s hard to be objective.

Louis Kravitz: Then printing, in this case a really good printer at Sammy’s Camera in Los Angeles mainly the owner printed them for me and taught me a lot about printing black and white; and then getting them framed, and there are different ways of framing them, deciding how you want them framed. In this case, my projects was first shown in Lens Work magazine in September 2013. It was then displayed at Sammy’s Camera and eventually the people at Coffee Fix decided to show it as well.

Larry Jordan: Is it the same collection of images in all three locations?

Louis Kravitz: No, actually. The publisher of Lens Work, he picked the 20 that he liked out of about 40. Sammy’s, I only could show 12 and in this exhibit I went back to Calcutta in January of 2014. I’ve added about six to eight new pictures to the exhibit. I plan on going back again in November if I can of this year and ultimately get enough to produce a book. I also look to have an exhibit in India.

Mike Horton: Oh, that’d be fun.

Louis Kravitz: Yes it would.

Mike Horton: I’ve been looking through your website, looking at all the pictures, which are just lovely, and a lot of them are black and white and a lot of them are in color. When do you decide black and white versus color? Is it just a gut feeling?

Louis Kravitz: Yes and no. The first black and white pictures I ever did were Kolkata Morning. I shot the first morning by myself, my friend had not showed up to show me the city. I went back to the hotel, I downloaded the pictures and, looking at them, I felt that the color was interfering with what it felt like in the morning in Calcutta.

Louis Kravitz: Calcutta is one of the densest cities in the whole world. If you travel in Calcutta after ten o’clock in the morning, you can hardly breathe, and by the afternoon it’s impossible. But at 6am, 7am, 8am, it’s beautiful. The air is cleaner, it’s quiet and there’s a feeling to it and black and white showed that feeling while with color, the picture was almost as much about color as it was Calcutta. Does that make sense?

Mike Horton: Sure.

Louis Kravitz: So my first black and white was that project.

Mike Horton: Do you process your pictures much? Or is it pretty much what comes out of the camera?

Louis Kravitz: Pretty much what comes out of the camera. I use Lightroom from Adobe. I’ve given myself permission not to learn Photoshop, so I don’t own it.

Mike Horton: Well, Lightroom’s a pretty powerful program.

Louis Kravitz: Right, it’s powerful, it allows me to lighten pictures; if it’s in color, to adjust the color. I’ll be honest about this – I’m very bad at judging color. Black and white is a savior to me. You wouldn’t want me to pick paint for your house.

Larry Jordan: Do you sign your photographs?

Louis Kravitz: Yes.

Larry Jordan: Where?

Louis Kravitz: I was signing them on the photographs, just like an artist would on a painting, and I recently went to an exhibit and I saw how they framed it where the photographer printed it with about a one inch border around the print and he signed in the border and then the frame and the matting came to the paper, so you were able to see the paper, and I really liked that look.

Louis Kravitz: So now all my pictures in the future will have about a one inch border, I’ll sign in the border. If the picture has a title, I’ll put it in the border. I’ll date it in the border, number it in the border and then frame it. I think it’s a lot prettier.

Larry Jordan: We have four photographers on our crew and they are all dying to know what camera you shoot with.

Mike Horton: Yes, what’s the most important lens to have?

Louis Kravitz: I shoot with a Leica and the reason I picked a Leica is that, before I went to digital, I shot with a rangefinder and it’s smaller. When I’m walking in the street and you have a small camera, it’s much less intimidating than walking with a Nikon or a Canon and a lens this big. So mine looks like an old camera, it looks like a film camera – it’s not, it’s digital. It’s probably one of the most expensive cameras made but it doesn’t look it, so I’m not as intimidating. I typically shoot with a 35 to 50 millimeter lens, mostly the 50.

Mike Horton: Wow, so you’ve got to get up close to your subjects.

Louis Kravitz: Yes, and that’s what I enjoy about it. I’m basically standing next to you.

Larry Jordan: Now, wait a minute, I want to make sure I heard this. You’re shooting with a 50 millimeter lens, not a zoom, but a fixed length?

Louis Kravitz: Right, but Leica doesn’t make a zoom lens for this. It’s a digital rangefinder. My longest lens is at 90 millimeter and I might use that for a portrait session, but going into the street, a 35 and a 50 serves me really well.

Larry Jordan: And what format are you shooting?

Louis Kravitz: It’s a 35 millimeter two by three format.

Mike Horton: How fast is the 50 lens?

Louis Kravitz: The 50’s at F2 and the 35’s at 1.4.

Mike Horton: When you were going out to the rice fields in Cambodia, do you want to be out there in early morning and late afternoon during magic hour, or can you get those great shots during noon?

Louis Kravitz: I think you really would like to be out there in the magic hour, in the morning or late afternoon, but often you don’t have that choice, you’re travelling, so you have to learn how to make adjustments and slowly, as I learn, I’m learning how to shoot at noon as well. They’re just different.

Mike Horton: Yes. There’s good stuff there.

Larry Jordan: How about lens filters? Are you using anything special on the camera lens itself?

Louis Kravitz: No, I don’t use any filters other than a protective filter so that the lens doesn’t get damaged, a neutral UV lens filter.

Mike Horton: You don’t want to drop a Leica into a rice paddy.

Larry Jordan: No, bad idea.

Mike Horton: That’s a really bad, bad thing to do.

Louis Kravitz: You don’t want to drop it at all. It’s a good camera.

Larry Jordan: Well, back to our four photographers in the back, they all want to carry your suitcases on your next trip to India or …

Mike Horton: Yes, so do I.

Larry Jordan: …Israel or anywhere else, so if you need volunteers you’ve got a place to look.

Louis Kravitz: Thank you.

Mike Horton: Do you have any inkling to get one of those Canons or Nikons with the giant zoom lenses?

Louis Kravitz: My wife owns the Nikon D800 with a 28 to 300, I think it is, but she has just decided, she just shoots with a 50 or an 85 and that’s all she carries now.

Mike Horton: Well, that 800 is …

Louis Kravitz: It’s too heavy.

Mike Horton: Yes, that 800 is heavy.

Louis Kravitz: Yes. I leave it to her, I don’t use it, I like my camera.

Mike Horton: Ok, good for you.

Louis Kravitz: I find it very heavy.

Larry Jordan: What projects are you working on next?

Louis Kravitz: The next project is for Justice in Aging. They are a not for profit organization that helps senior citizens with legal matters, involved with health and economic issues. They basically train other organizations and they’ll sue on behalf – they did a class action suit recently with Social Security and won hundreds of millions of dollars for seniors. I’m going to start shooting to help build a library for them they can use on their website and their blog. Going charitable work is really great. I teach photography in LA and I’m very fortunate, I don’t need to sell my photographs. I have a chance to do work for free.

Larry Jordan: That’s very cool.

Mike Horton: Well, I want to be you when I grow up.

Larry Jordan: Louis, what website can people go to to learn more about your work?

Louis Kravitz: That website is

Larry Jordan: That’s Louis, thanks for joining us today.

Mike Horton: Thanks a lot, Louis.

Louis Kravitz: Thank you very much for having me. It was really enjoyable. Appreciate it.

Larry Jordan: Bye bye.

Louis Kravitz: Bye bye.

Larry Jordan: So, Mike, you want to go help him with his photography?

Mike Horton: Yes. Just like those guys. Absolutely.

Larry Jordan: I think the entire control room has signed up to go be a volunteer.

Mike Horton: Yes, wouldn’t that be great? To just spend the rest of my life running around the world taking photographs and meeting people and coming up with some of these wonderful images that he does.

Larry Jordan: The thing I like is that, for a guy who says he doesn’t understand color that well, the color images are stunning. They’re rich and they’re deep. They’re fun to look at.

Mike Horton: Yes, well, it’s not the tool. It’s the guy who’s snapping the thing at the right time.

Larry Jordan: But having a good tool helps.

Mike Horton: Yes, it helps.

Larry Jordan: And the Leica’s an amazing piece of work.

Mike Horton: It’s a very expensive camera. Those lenses and the camera, very expensive.

Larry Jordan: Are you going to buy one for me?

Mike Horton: Yes.

Larry Jordan: Oh, all right, scratch that idea.

Mike Horton: If you sell all these cameras that are here, you can buy one Leica.

Larry Jordan: Well, the other thing I was interested in is he works with a prime lens, he works with a fixed link lens and, rather than zoom the lens, he moves his feet.

Mike Horton: You would have thought there would have been a zoom, because you look at his pictures there and you would have thought that, but no, he’s got to get right up to, he’s got to be here.

Larry Jordan: Mhmm.

Mike Horton: Just between you and me, right there, and that does take chutzpah. “Can I take your picture? I’m from New York. I’ve got chutzpah.”

Larry Jordan: My, my, my. You know, the other interesting thing is the visceral reaction that I have, and others, to horror. Some people really like it and some people don’t. I don’t like seeing people in jeopardy like that and I am very uncomfortable with it.

Mike Horton: Really? Well, there are a lot of people that don’t, but obviously there are a lot of people who do, because it is very profitable.

Larry Jordan: It is and then his photography, James’ photography is great.

Mike Horton: I’m actually looking forward to his movie. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

Larry Jordan: Give me a report.

Mike Horton: I like horror, but I like good horror. I like good movies, just like he does. He’s not going to define himself as a horror director, he’s going to define himself as a director/writer, but there is a definition of horror. I don’t know what that is. Honestly don’t.

Larry Jordan: No, but you can see it.

Mike Horton: Yes. Buckets of blood.

Larry Jordan: That’s the truth. I want to thank our guest for today: Eddie Robison, the VFX supervisor at Inhance Digital.

Mike Horton: He was great. Oh, man.

Larry Jordan: It was a good show today.

Mike Horton: It was really good. Bring them all back.

Larry Jordan: We will bring them back. James Cullen Bressack, the writer/director of Pernicious; and Louis Kravitz, photographer. There’s lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website at Here you’ll find hundreds of past shows and thousands of interviews all searchable, all online and all available.

Larry Jordan: By the way, visit our website and take our survey. We’re planning the next version of The Buzz and we’d love your opinion. Talk with us on Twitter, @DPBuZZ, and Facebook, at Our theme music is composed by Nathan Doogie Turner, additional music on The Buzz provided by Smartsound and text transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription at

Larry Jordan: Our producer is Cirina Catania; engineering team led by Megan Paulos, including Ed Golya, Keegan Guy, Alex Hackworth, Eileen Kim and Brianna Murphy. On behalf of Mike Horton, my name’s Larry Jordan; thanks for watching and listening to The Buzz.

Mike Horton: Goodbye everybody.

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Digital Production Buzz – June 4, 2015

Join Larry Jordan and Mike Horton as they talk with Eddie Robison, James Cullen Bressack, and Louis Kravitz.

  • Creating Visual Effects for NBC’s Grimm
  • Bloody Horror! What’s the Workflow?
  • Creating Stunning Still Images

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Guests this Week

Eddie Robison
Eddie Robison, VFX Supervisor, Inhance Digital
Starting in 1996, Eddie Robison has created visual effects for over 40 different TV shows including “Star Trek Enterprise,” “X-Files,” “NCIS,” “CSI Miami” and “Grimm.” He’s been nominated for a VES Award and an Emmy Award. We talk with him tonight about creating visual effects for Grimm.
James Cullen Bressack
James Cullen Bressack, Writer/Director, Pernicious
One of the most popular creators of modern-day horror films, James Cullen Bressack – whose previous credits include “Jennifer”, “Hate Crime” and “13/13/13” – directs the June release of “Pernicious.” Shot and set in Thailand, “Pernicious” is a bloody, no holds-barred horror film that marks James’s first theatrical release. Tonight, he talks about how he scares an audience to death.
Louis Kravitz
Louis Kravitz, Still Photographer
Prior to becoming a still photographer, Louis Kravitz worked for 45 years as an actuary, founding the still successful Kravitz, Inc., headquartered in Los Angeles. We caught up to him at the Coffee Fix in Studio City where he is exhibiting a fascinating series entitled, “Kolkata Morning.” Tonight we talk with him about how he creates the stunning still images that have become his trademark.