Digital Production Buzz
January 14, 2016
[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]
(Click here to listen to this show.)
Randi Altman’s Perspective
BuZZ Flashback: Pat Groswendt
Srinivas Krishna, Founder, CEO, AWE Company
Gabe Cheifetz, President, Co-Founder, Trost Motion
Cirina Catania, Supervising Producer, The Digital Production Buzz
Larry Jordan: Tonight on The Buzz, Srinivas Krishna is the founder and CEO of AWE Company, a software developer that enables people to interact in new and imaginative ways using their mobile devices and augmented reality. Tonight, Srinivas explains how they created the world’s largest one of a kind virtual reality experience at the Fort York National Historic site in Toronto.
Larry Jordan: Next, a new partnership between DitoGear and Trost Motion combines precision motion control with camera sliders to create amazingly precise camera slides. Gabe Cheifetz, CEO of Trust Motion, joins us to explain how this new system works.
Larry Jordan: Next, Cirina Catania is the Supervising Producer of The Buzz and recently attended CES, looking at new technology for filmmakers. Tonight, she joins us to share her vision for the future of filmmaking.
Larry Jordan: All this plus a Buzz Flashback, Tech Talk, and Randi Altman’s Perspective on the News. The Buzz starts now.
Announcer #1: Digital Production Buzz is brought to you by Other World Computing at macsales.com; and by imagineproducts.com, the workflow experts.
Announcer #2: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking – authoritative – one show serves a worldwide network of media professionals – current – uniting industry experts: production, filmmakers, post production and content creators around the planet – distribution. 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 creators covering media production, post production and marketing around the world. Mike, welcome back.
Mike Horton: I was here last week, wasn’t I? Let me see.
Larry Jordan: You have… for a few hours but you were not here earlier this week and it’s nice to…
Mike Horton: Oh well, it’s always nice to see you, Larry.
Larry Jordan: It’s one of the highlights of my week.
Mike Horton: Nice to be back. Happy New Year, Larry. Ok, enough banter.
Larry Jordan: Tonight, we’re looking into the future. We’re looking at augmented reality, we’re looking at motion control cameras and we’re getting hints from CES on the future of filmmaking.
Mike Horton: Now, you were at CES. I was not at CES.
Larry Jordan: I was at CES. I know, but that’s ok, we’re going to give you a quiz on CES anyway. You sitting down?
Mike Horton: I read everything on CES.
Larry Jordan: So here’s the question – you talk with user groups and users all the time. What part of technology are they most excited about?
Mike Horton: What part?
Larry Jordan: What future thing of technology. Are they excited about VR?
Mike Horton: Yes, yes.
Larry Jordan: Really?
Mike Horton: Yes. It’s a big nut to crack and I think it’s also something extremely new and I think a lot of people want to get into it and a lot of people are getting into it, but right now it’s in its infancy and the content that I’ve seen created so far, I don’t know yet. Gaming, that’s a whole different world. VR will be driven by gaming, big time. That’s where you’re going to make the big money. Everything else, what are other business models for this thing? I think we’re going to talk to that one guy who has an interesting business model for it, but yes, it’s huge and I think it’s got legs, Larry. I know you didn’t like 3D and everything else, but I think VR has legs.
Larry Jordan: I think it’s going to be an exciting time, looking at some of the new technologies for HDR and 4K and seeing how that migrates into the home as well.
Mike Horton: And you saw a lot of that at CES, right? And the fact that there was a drone in every booth, that’s another thing that I heard.
Larry Jordan: Oh yes, the drones and the robots were everywhere. It was just amazing.
Mike Horton: Were there a lot of robots too? Seriously, where there?
Larry Jordan: Oh yes, robots and…
Mike Horton: I don’t know how much time is left because I can’t see any more on the screen there. Oh, that’s how much time. Oh, goodness’ sakes, ok.
Larry Jordan: So take a deep breath…
Mike Horton: Ok, Larry.
Larry Jordan: …because I want to remind you to subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Every issue every week is free and tells you everything you need to know about the show. Mike and I will be back with Mr. Krishna right after this.
Larry Jordan: This is Randi Altman’s Perspective.
Larry Jordan: Randi Altman has been writing about our industry for more than 20 years. In fact, she’s the editor in chief of her own website, called postperspective.com and, as always, it’s wonderful to say hello, Randi, welcome back and Happy New Year.
Randi Altman: Hi, Larry. Happy New Year to you too.
Larry Jordan: So we finished all of our partying a couple of weeks ago and the hangovers have passed. CES – what are your first thoughts?
Randi Altman: Well, while I had some people there covering it for me, I didn’t get to go but I heard that you were there and I’m curious. From my perspective, it was about virtual reality and drones. What did you see?
Larry Jordan: From my point of view, CES was all about 4K and HDR. I was struck by how everywhere you went in CES you couldn’t help but stumble over a 4K monitor. From the consumer electronics point of view, I think within six months you’ll be unable to buy an HD TV set. It gives reason for manufacturers to sell new sets to people who bought HD five, six, seven years ago and need to upgrade their hardware.
Larry Jordan: But I was just thinking, in addition to hardware, we’re also in the middle of the awards season. …announced their awards a couple of days ago and the Oscars were announced today. What’s your take on the announcements?
Randi Altman: It’s award craziness going on right now and the Oscars were announced this morning, it’s pretty interesting. There were some perceived snubs in terms of Best Picture – ‘Star Wars’ did not get nominated for any of the above the line categories, but it did for, I think, five different technical Oscars, so people are rewarding the technical work on that film. Then you’ve got the ones that are leading with nominations. You’ve got ‘The Revenant,’ which I think has 11; ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ and also ‘The Martian,’ so three really big films. Two of them were particularly difficult to shoot. One was shot in the desert, dry and sandy and taking care of equipment was tough; and then on the other end of the spectrum, you have ‘The Revenant’ that was shot in very cold, snowy and wet weather.
Larry Jordan: So clearly what this means is if you suffer for your art, you get nominated for an Oscar. Is that the conclusion that we should draw?
Randi Altman: Not 100 percent, but to a certain extent I do think that the Academy is recognizing the difficulty that went into shooting the films. They’re both very quality films, beautifully shot and the rest, but I don’t think it hurts that it really took a lot out of them to make it.
Larry Jordan: Which films didn’t get nominated that surprised you, especially based on your interviews?
Randi Altman: Well, Quentin Tarantino, because he doesn’t make that many films, you sort of expect when he does make one that it will be nominated. It was not. The score was nominated and I think Jennifer Jason Leigh was nominated, but other than that not really recognized.
Larry Jordan: Ok. Anybody else that surprised you for not making the list?
Randi Altman: Well, I thought Ridley Scott was going to get a director’s nomination and he didn’t, so that surprised me a little bit, but I’m happy for Adam McKay. ‘The Big Short’ is a great film, it’s timely, it’s character driven, it’s a very difficult story to piece together, so the editing on that was amazing. There are a lot of different pieces to that puzzle and he was able to pull it off in a funny, educational and interesting way, which is tough to do.
Larry Jordan: I enjoyed watching ‘The Big Short’ myself, it was fun to see how he had three interweaving storylines going at the same time and they all tied together without getting totally distracted.
Randi Altman: Absolutely, yes.
Larry Jordan: Randi, what are you going to guess for the winner? Who’s going to take home the Best Picture Oscar?
Randi Altman: Based on the amount of nominations, you have to think ‘The Revenant,’ but I don’t know, ‘The Big Short’ could surprise people. So I don’t know, I’m not betting on it.
Larry Jordan: Well, we’ll just have to see. Randi writes for postperspective.com and Randi, as always, thanks for joining us today.
Randi Altman: Thanks Larry, take care.
Larry Jordan: To read more from Randi Altman, visit postperspective.com.
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Larry Jordan: Srinivas Krishna founded AWE Company to develop augmented reality technologies for mobile devices in 2012. Based on his background as a filmmaker, their location aware VR platform is currently being used to launch one of the world’s largest out of home VR experiences at the nine acre Fort York National Historic site in downtown Toronto. Prior to AWE, Srinivas produced and directed feature films that have premiered at Toronto, Sundance and Cannes. Hello, welcome.
Srinivas Krishna: Hi, Larry.
Larry Jordan: How would you describe the AWE Company?
Srinivas Krishna: I thought we did a really good job. It’s a company of developers, designers, makers, technologists, strategists working together to create new kinds of experiences for mobile devices for the user on the go.
Larry Jordan: What was it that first got you interested in virtual reality?
Srinivas Krishna: When Smartphones came out with cameras, the iPhone, I was producing some movies for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and there was a whole mobile component to it and there was a whole team that was doing something with our movies. I finally asked, “What are you doing?” and they said, “Well, we’re trying to get these movies to play on mobile phones and geolocate them.” This was 2010. If you imagine, in those days it was tough to do, and how things have changed.
Srinivas Krishna: Anyway, when I said, “Show me one of these phones,” and I saw it, I thought, “This is not a phone. This is a video camera with a computer, with a pretty good screen and connected to the internet. This is really meant to do something else,” and I started investigating it and I got it on my brain and I couldn’t get it off and finally I just started the company.
Larry Jordan: We’re going to talk about the Fort York project in a second, but one more background piece – how would you describe the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality?
Srinivas Krishna: That’s a great question. Virtual reality is a complete virtual environment that’s delivered on a computer. It’s just an orchestrated environment and that’s the simplest way to define it. Augmented reality is the other side of the spectrum, halfway between pure reality and virtual reality. If virtual reality’s a completely artificial environment, then augmented reality is digital content, virtual content, placed in the real world through the camera on your device. I’m looking through the camera at the world and I see digital content inside that world, so in a sense it’s augmenting reality.
Larry Jordan: Before we talk about the Fort York National Historic site project, we took a video from your website and I want to share that with the audience so they get a sense of what it was that you did for that project.
Unknown man on video: One of the key challenges we have on site here at Fort York is giving people a better sense of the original context, the fact that this was a fort constructed over 200 years ago on the original Lake Ontario shoreline. One of the wonderful things about the virtual reality experience is it will allow us to bring that original context back to the site.
Unknown man on video: Our technology brings a location to life through storytelling and, for that reason, it’s perfect for a historical site like Fort York, where there are so many stories that are part and parcel of the physical environment, of the artifacts, and we allow that to be presented in a completely immersive way.
Unknown man on video: When we were first approached with the virtual reality experience and applying these new technologies on a site like Fort York, I definitely saw the opportunity off the top. It was a really exciting and great team with Krishna and others to work with. It’s really played out in the way we expected it would.
Unknown man on video: It’s for us an opportunity to bring a new form of storytelling to the world and we feel like it’s one that is really personal in the sense that you can experience it wherever you are using nothing more than your Smartphone.
Larry Jordan: I’m really looking forward to talking with you about this, but before we talk about this specific project, what is it that makes the fort so historic?
Srinivas Krishna: It was where Toronto started 250 years ago, where it was founded. The British contingent cleared the forest, and they set up camp there and they named it York, and then it became Toronto many years later, but that’s where Toronto really began and the city grew up around it, and it still remains there in downtown Toronto. It’s a nine acre site, though it’s not a military site any more.
Larry Jordan: What did the fort ask you to do?
Srinivas Krishna: We built a small prototype inside a building called the blockhouse, which is the oldest building still standing in Toronto, it’s a defensive building not a fort, and that was a mixed reality, meaning it was an augmented reality drama with digital character inside a room and it was pretty groundbreaking. There were five users looking through iPads at these characters and the characters knew you were in the room and they saw it and thought, “Wow, this is really amazing. Do you want to build a visitor experience for us?” and I said, “Sure, it sounds like a great idea,” and we spent some time talking about it and the site, if you go there, you’ll see that it’s surrounded by skyscrapers, condos, an elevated highway.
Srinivas Krishna: It doesn’t look like it belongs in history, it’s really eclipsed by its environment. So they said, “We’d like to see different moments in the story of this site and the story of the city recreated at different places on the grounds.” It turned out to be eight different moments in time, all delivered on a mobile device without internet connections for about 150,000 people. I thought, “Surely this is the most difficult, stupid thing I would ever do if I were to take it on. No-one’s ever done anything like this before,” so we took it on.
Larry Jordan: Well, if we look at a map of the fort, we see that there are eight different locations. Describe briefly what some of the typical scenes would be at these locations.
Srinivas Krishna: Well, one of the scenes that you would see is the founding of the fort by Governor Simcoe and that’s the cannon fire, the 21 gun salute that happened when he founded the fort, and it’s actually in the moment when the fort was founded in 1793. You see the Battle of York, a cannon crew firing at American ships when the American forces invaded the town of York. There was a battle between the United States just after the Revolution and Great Britain that was fought on this land. You’ll see the first railroad coming to Toronto, the dredging of the land for reclamation from the lake. You’ll see the construction of the elevated highway. It’s 200 years of history and you walk through different landscapes and you come upon these scenes where they suddenly come to life as you come upon them and a whole drama unfolds. It’s pretty spectacular.
Larry Jordan: Let’s take a look. We’ve got some production shots and I want to go to this first one where an actor is being fitted with a headset that looks like there’s a flashlight on top. What’s going on here?
Srinivas Krishna: The production of this experience, it had never been done, so we really had to do some hardcore invention. We thought this is basically like a video game on some level, we’re using a game engine to create the experience, so we scan actors for facial character and recorded their performances if they were speaking or reacting and then we captured their performances using a really wonderful technology called iPi MoCap by a company called iPi Soft. So essentially it was a pipeline that we built in the studio that we took over for about a week where we’d run actors through the scans, and the facial captures, and then the motion capture. That headset that you see, with flashlights, with gimbals attached to their heads fitted onto a baseball cap essentially, that’s to track the motion of their heads as they move.
Larry Jordan: As they were moving, how were you recording them?
Srinivas Krishna: We were using I think about 16 V21 PlayStation cameras that were spaced around the studio and that was pretty much it. Those cameras fed into the software on our computers and captured their motions. It’s very effective.
Larry Jordan: I’ve got a screenshot of what looks like a browser and there are six images inside it. What are we looking at with these six images?
Srinivas Krishna: You’re looking at six of the different camera views of that actor acting out. I think that view might be one of the soldiers from that cannon scene, where they’re carrying a cannonball. That’s probably what he’s about to do, or something like that. That’s the action that develops throughout the scene.
Larry Jordan: Ok, so now let’s marry what the actors did in the motion capture studio with the images that you’ve created. Here is a picture of the cannon being fired. Where do your actors fit in with these cartoon characters?
Srinivas Krishna: We literally did scans of these actors and then we captured their motions and we married the motions to those 3D scans. So those very actors will be scanned and we marry their actions. Most of the time it was the very actors actions, sometimes we had to do some fixes on their performances, so we’d go in and either I or another stand-in actor would act out the performance and we’d just marry it to the 3D model, and then that 3D model would be in motion.
Larry Jordan: Ok, but now I’m confused. Motion capture I understand. Creating a 3D world I understand. But what’s the difference between what you created and, say, any 3D animated feature film that we see in the theaters today?
Srinivas Krishna: It’s essentially a similar technology. The incredible thing that we were able to do was how economically we were able to put it together. This is because really we used some low cost technologies to scan the actors, to scan the models, to create the models, using an iPad and a couple of different software applications; and the motion capture was iPi Soft, which was really PlayStation cameras and their software package, which are very affordable. What we found was magical about it was how we could do it ourselves.
Srinivas Krishna: We didn’t have to go to a studio where we had to pay $20,000 a day to do the motion capture and to do the scans. We could in fact do it in a way that the client, the fort, could afford. We’re not talking about a Hollywood movie, we’re not talking about a AAA game, we’re talking about an historic site and so it’s a different kind of business model and it’s these technologies, like iPi Soft, that really make it possible to execute this kind of experience.
Mike Horton: So this is all CGI. This is not getting a rig with ten cameras on it and taking it out to the field and putting real actors in the field and later on putting buildings and things around them, otherwise that would have cost a billion dollars, right?
Srinivas Krishna: Absolutely. This is CGI, pure interactive CGI.
Mike Horton: Yes. I love the idea, I love the business model. It’s actually really cool because we’re all looking for those business models and right now the only people making money are the gamers.
Srinivas Krishna: Well, this is what virtual reality opens for us and it’s really the opportunity to create experiences that are interactive, that change and involve your participation as a user, but can tell stories that are time limited art forms. The world is opening up in terms of what we can create.
Mike Horton: Are you using the phone and Google Cardboard for the experience or something else?
Srinivas Krishna: Really all we’re using is a Nexus 6 phone and a hard case of a Google Cardboard, we built up a Cardboard. But we’re also using our own proprietary software platform that we built that delivers the experience and inside it is some significant computer vision algorithms.
Larry Jordan: Could you define what Google Cardboard is?
Srinivas Krishna: Google Cardboard, for those of us who are old enough, which would mean all of us, if we remember the Viewmaster from way back when where you looked through a little case and you’d see kaleidoscopic images or slides and you could scroll through them. Essentially, the Google Cardboard is the same but instead of slides you open up the front and you put your phone in, you close it back up and when you look through you see the screen of the phone in a completely immersive way. It’s like you’re inside a video game, inside a 3D world.
Mike Horton: For people who are using this device and walking around the park, is there a sign that says ‘Put your headset on’ or is there an audio prompt or what?
Srinivas Krishna: It’s an audio prompt. You’ll see that they’re wearing headphones, so there’s a voice, a companion, who’s taking you through the sights and telling you stories and it says, when you arrive at a spot you’ll know that you’re there because that’s what it means when we say location aware, you’ll know that you’re there, and he’ll say, “Look through your device.”
Mike Horton: Any problems with motion sickness?
Srinivas Krishna: None. We did a pretty good job and spent a couple of years actually developing the underlying technology before we did this project. We have a substantial research collaboration with some scientists at a couple of different universities in the Toronto area – Ryerson University… – and so we were working with them to solve some of these problems. It’s been a long journey.
Larry Jordan: Mike and I got into a heated debate in the Green Room before the show went on, and I’m really curious. After this experience, can we really tell narrative dramatic stories using VR? Can you control where the audience is looking well enough, or is it really designed more to feel the environment and go back 200 years in time?
Srinivas Krishna: You can do both. In this experience at Fort York, you’ll find both kinds of experiences. Each experience lasts about two minutes, not more than that because, remember, you have to hold it in front of your face, it’s not strapped to your head, which would be completely dangerous to walk around with that thing strapped to your head, so you wear it around your neck like binoculars and when you get to a spot you look through.
Srinivas Krishna: So we found that we couldn’t really make it longer than two minutes because people get tired of holding it to their face and it’s an optimal amount of time. In some of these experiences, for example, you see what it looked like before European settlement. It was a beautiful oak forest and where there are now railway tracks there used to be a river, so it’s an environmental scene and you’re encouraged to look around.
Srinivas Krishna: Other scenes are really very dramatic – there’s a battle scene where there are people firing cannons and there’s an explosion and they get killed – so that really focuses your attention very powerfully. We find that what makes it so immersive is sound and what focuses your attention is also sound. Where sound comes from is where you tend to look.
Mike Horton: That tends to be spatial audio, which is a whole different kind of thing with 3D and 360 spherical filmmaking.
Srinivas Krishna: It is. It’s a very powerful tool.
Larry Jordan: Before we wrap up, because we’re almost out of time, when does this launch and when can the public get their hands on it?
Srinivas Krishna: It launches in May this year to the public. We ran it previously throughout the fall and there was a phenomenal response to it, just phenomenal, all scores in the 90s, so we’re very excited about it. It’s launching in May and people can find out more about it if they go to our website, awecompany.com, or to our Facebook page, where there are all these postings – facebook.com/awecompany.
Mike Horton: I love this idea, I just love it.
Larry Jordan: And the website is awecompany.com. Srinivas, whose first name I’ve been practicing all day to pronounce…
Srinivas Krishna: Perfectly.
Mike Horton: This is great for the educational world.
Larry Jordan: Don’t say that, I’ll screw it up at the end. Srinivas Krishna is the founder and CEO of AWE Company. Srinivas, thanks for joining us today.
Mike Horton: Thanks so much.
Srinivas Krishna: Thank you so much.
Larry Jordan: Take care. Bye bye.
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Larry Jordan: Gabe Cheifetz is a co-founder of Trost Motion, Koji Color and CrumplePop, all of which are providers of software and hardware for the video and motion picture industry, where he’s been creating leading edge products for more than 20 years. Hello, Gabe, welcome back.
Gabe Cheifetz: Hey, Larry, thanks, and thanks for improving on my bio there.
Mike Horton: Give him an extra sentence.
Gabe Cheifetz: It was much better than what I wrote, so I appreciate that.
Larry Jordan: How would you describe Trost Motion?
Gabe Cheifetz: I would describe it as a camera slider that takes advantage of what a camera slider could actually do.
Larry Jordan: Now, wait, wait, wait, take a deep breath. There are two questions – one, what is the company; and secondly, what is the product? Describe what the company is first.
Gabe Cheifetz: Sure thing. Trost Motion is a developer and marketer of a line of hardware for production professionals who are interested in moving their camera in a nicer way than they could previously with existing products and technology.
Larry Jordan: Ok, so tell me about the products that the company makes.
Gabe Cheifetz: We make a line of camera sliders that are designed for precision and strength and we think that that’s what differentiates us from other offerings out there and I’d be happy to tell you more about that in detail.
Larry Jordan: We’re going to talk a lot about it. I grew up when we were all using dollies and we were laying tracks down to move the camera from Point A to Point B, because the cameras weighed about seven metric tonnes.
Gabe Cheifetz: Right.
Larry Jordan: And now we’ve got sliders, because the cameras are so much lighter, that fit on top of the tripod. What is it that makes a slider hard to make? I mean, I’ve seen sliders for $1.98. Why can’t I just use the cheap ones?
Gabe Cheifetz: Well, that really gets to the heart of it because moving a camera back and forth on a track, it doesn’t seem like rocket science, like you said. There are some very economical options that you can buy from the back of a truck or wherever you happen to find them out there. What we did was to try to re-imagine what you could do with that little device and really what it came down to was what if the thing could actually hold your camera in a very stable way and what if it could allow you, for instance, to put a long lens on your camera and shoot?
Gabe Cheifetz: That sounds trivial but it’s actually not because let’s say you have a slider right now and you put a 100 millimeter prime lens on your camera. You go to shoot something, it seems like a piece of cake, and if you go to look at the footage it’ll look like there was an earthquake going on. That’s because – and this is just one example – with a long lens the tiniest movement of the focal point is going to get amplified, it’s going to get multiplied out and that’s why it’s hard to shoot things handheld with a longer lens. The same thing applies to a slider and so with a wide lens, sure, pretty much any slider will do, you can slide your camera past a fence post or a cactus, wow, cool. Let’s say you wanted to shoot at 100 millimeters. You need something that is super precise and that turned out to be the hard thing to do.
Larry Jordan: What does super precise mean?
Gabe Cheifetz: Super precise means very simply it is solid enough and precise enough so that when you try to get a long lens shot on a Trost slider, it’s going to look beautiful. That’s very hard to pull off with other kinds of equipment and even, like you just mentioned, a dolly with track, it’s even difficult in that scenario because the smallest vibration or move or if you go from one length of track to another on the dolly, it’s going to show up.
Gabe Cheifetz: So we actually spent, believe it or not, over three years working on the Trost slider and the reason it was so difficult and this wasn’t just moving a camera back and forth, is because we wanted to offer this kind of precision that would give filmmakers a new tool for making images. We really believe that it’s a new instrument for making moving images, because when you can put a long lens on the slider or when you can do macro videography, all of a sudden this opens up whole new categories of shots. Let’s say you want to create a macro moving image of the side of a wedding ring, you want to see the facet of the jewel on there. Imagine doing that with a slider that has some grinding in the bearings.
Gabe Cheifetz: You need a really high level of precision to be able to make that very slow and very smooth move and that’s why, when you think about it, it’s very rare that you see macro tracking shots in general, except for in very high end productions. It’s very rare that you see long lens tracking shots from a slider, because it’s really hard to do and the equipment’s not designed for that.
Gabe Cheifetz: There are lots of great sliders out there. It’s 2016, the slider’s not a new idea. It’s not like we invented the slider. But we do think that giving people a tool where they can add motion to their shot in categories of shots that were previously impossible is noteworthy and that’s why we think this device is significant.
Larry Jordan: So the strength of this device is not only does it look good if you’re moving quickly, but it also looks good if you’re moving slowly, it looks good if you’ve got a heavy camera or a light camera and it looks good if you’re on a long lens or a short lens. In other words, the worst situation is a light camera on a long lens moving slowly. That would make every flaw in the slider show up, correct?
Gabe Cheifetz: Exactly, that’s right, and I’ll give you a great example. We have a user of the Trost slider named Alex Horner, who’s a DP who does a lot of the ads for Red Bull, some of their longer form content that they see. They just did a piece in the old Detroit Lions stadium, which kind of looks like a Roman ruin now, and they shot a guy doing interesting BMX bike tricks amongst this stuff.
Gabe Cheifetz: So he hung his RED Epic camera with some long lenses on it off of the edge of the stadium on the Trost slider and we were very excited when we learned about this because it’s a great example of the kind of thing that is normally off limits for a slider. Shots like that, it’s going to be hard to lay track on the upper seats of an abandoned stadium, but this one meter long device, the Trost M series slider, gave him that kind of stability and let him pull off the shots.
Gabe Cheifetz: We did a big victory lap when we saw that footage coming back, because it’s exactly what we hope we can get people excited about. If you’re doing food photography, for instance, you can do moving shots at a macro scale with a macro lens and that’s interesting.
Larry Jordan: All right, so Eric on our live chat is saying this sounds wonderful because it’s all manual, but what happens if you automate it? Which gets me into the new relationship you’ve got with DitoGear. What have DitoGear and Trost done together?
Gabe Cheifetz: You can pull off some really nice slow shots by hand with the Trost slider, and that’s one of the big strengths of it, but we heard from a lot of folks who needed shots that were basically pixel perfect in a repeated way. They needed to be able to nail the same shot in a repeated way for the post production needs that they had, and let’s say they’re doing some CG elements or something, they need it to be 100 percent repeatable.
Gabe Cheifetz: That’s why we partnered with DitoGear, because those guys, like us, really pay attention to precision. They have a whole technology they developed that allows you to move the carriage on the slider in a very predictable, extremely precise way and very, very slowly, which was a big deal for us. So we worked with them and they developed a custom motor control kit, basically a motor and a controller, that installs onto the Trost slider and allows you to program repeatable moves using the Trost slider and the DitoGear motion control kit. That is just now becoming available and we’re super excited about it.
Larry Jordan: What price ranges are we looking at for these sliders?
Gabe Cheifetz: The one meter Trost slider, which is called the M100, is $1795 and that comes with basically everything you need, there aren’t a zillion accessories as we wanted to provide one extremely simple package. The DitoGear motion control kit, I believe, is starting at $1445. Those are two separate pieces. You can get the Trost slider first and upgrade to the DitoGear motion control later if you want.
Larry Jordan: Where can people go on the web to learn more about this gear? Because some of the photographs and demos you’ve got are stunning, I love watching them. Where can they go on the web?
Gabe Cheifetz: Thanks. Yes, they can go to www.trostmotion.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s trostmotion.com and Gabe Cheifetz is the President and co-founder of Trost Motion and CrumplePop and a bunch of other companies we all enjoy. Gabe, thanks for joining us today.
Mike Horton: Thanks, Gabe.
Gabe Cheifetz: All right, thanks a lot Larry.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
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Larry Jordan: Welcome to Tech Talk.
Larry Jordan: Now, dance is a special case. In drama, emotions are seen in close-ups, but in dance, emotions are seen in the movement of the body. In fact – and this is such a key point – in dance, close-ups detract from the emotion. In drama, cameras shoot at eye level from the edges of the action, and in dance cameras shoot at knee level from the center of the action, the cameras are in two totally different positions at two different heights.
Larry Jordan: In drama, the key light tends to smooth texture. In dance, key lighting needs to emphasize muscles and shadows. In drama, key lighting comes from the front. In dance, key lighting comes from the side. In drama, reaction shots telegraph emotions and in dance reaction shots should be avoided.
Larry Jordan: Here we have a dance piece. This is courtesy of Amy ‘Catfox’ Campion and anticsperformance.com. They were in Brazil shooting some breakdancing and hip-hop dancing. For those of you who have ever danced or done serious exercise, you know that you get tired, and these dancers did eight to ten takes of some very active physical movement.
Larry Jordan: We want to tell a story. The story is joy, her happiness at being able to dance at the beginning of a day, so it’s just having fun. As she starts to circle, I’m going to look at her arms and find where they go down and set an in and, because we know that our shot durations are four seconds and nine frames, give ourselves a duration and edit this down to the timeline. Now, let’s see where we end up here.
Larry Jordan: It feels a little premature. Let’s just back this over about two frames. Try it again.
Larry Jordan: All right, now we’ve got this lovely shot of her dancing here. Right there, see her step out? Ok, we’re going to set an in. You can see her foot just start to step out if you look really closely and so we’ll edit this next one in and we’ll take a look at how these cut together.
Larry Jordan: Ok, now she goes down and we’ve got this wonderful reverse angle right here. One of the nice things about DSLRs is they give you beautiful depth of field. One of the problems is DSLRs is trying to hit focus and so now we’re working around a focus issue here. We’ll set an in and edit it down to the timeline.
Larry Jordan: Here’s the finished piece. Let’s just see if we can watch this.
Larry Jordan: Cirina Catania is the Supervising Producer of The Buzz, a fact we’re grateful for every day, as well as a filmmaker, a journalist and a former senior executive with United Artists and MGM.
Mike Horton: Wait, what?
Larry Jordan: Yes, senior executive.
Mike Horton: She was a senior executive at United Artists? Seriously?
Larry Jordan: And MGM. Will you pay attention? You’ve only been working with her for eight years.
Mike Horton: I didn’t know that.
Larry Jordan: She’s also one of the founders of the Sundance Film Festival, obviously keeps her light under a bushel, and it’s always great to say hello, Cirina, welcome back.
Cirina Catania: Mike, you are so funny. My hidden life.
Mike Horton: No, I didn’t know that. I knew everything else but I had no idea, senior executive at United Artists. Wow.
Cirina Catania: Yes, eight years of my life.
Mike Horton: Really?
Cirina Catania: That’s right.
Mike Horton: Exactly what capacity, or what does a senior executive mean?
Cirina Catania: I was the Senior Vice President Worldwide Marketing when I left.
Mike Horton: Holy crap! Really?
Cirina Catania: Yes, sir.
Larry Jordan: See, and you don’t treat her with any respect, do you?
Mike Horton: What was the movie that killed United Artists?
Cirina Catania: The one that killed it? Oh, I got there right after ‘Heaven’s Gate’… Yes, Michael… that one. The last one our team worked on was ‘Rain Man.’
Mike Horton: Oh wow.
Larry Jordan: Oh yes. Cirina, before we get lost in historical nostalgia, I want to talk to you about the future. You were at CES last week and the show was totally focused on consumers, not filmmakers, but I was struck by the proliferation of very small cameras all trying to compete with GoPro. What new film technology did you notice?
Cirina Catania: On the small cameras, there are a lot of them, but why mess with something that already worked well? There was, however, one that I really liked and that’s the Osmo. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but for under $600 you can have a stabilized 4K camera that has a gyro built in, you can do 360 panoramas, time lapses and you can clip your iPhone to it so that your iPhone works as a monitor while you’re shooting. I love that one.
Larry Jordan: Oh, a monitor on the iPhone? That is very cool. Now, one of the things that we learned when we were talking with our first guest, and he was talking about the fact that what sells virtual reality is the audio, so thinking about that, what sound solutions and what audio techniques did you see at CES that caught your ear?
Cirina Catania: I literally got stuck at the Sennheiser booth. I was blown away by the new Ambeo 3D virtual reality. It’s an Ambisonic microphone that has four capsules in it that allow us to capture an entire field of sound with one microphone. It works with all the new 360 degree cameras and it’s just amazing. It’s coming out mid-2016 and if you have VR, why not have good VR sound, right?
Larry Jordan: Absolutely.
Cirina Catania: And then for filmmakers, there was another little thing in that booth that I loved, it’s the clip mic digital. It’s a small lav that we use in the field and oftentimes we have trouble because they can’t capture the sound at a high enough volume without really ruining the sound. This one has a built in pre-amp that monitors rumble hiss and levels, avoids dropout in the signals and the volume level was great. I tried it on the one interview that I did, which is up on my site, but everywhere you looked there was virtual reality, Larry.
Larry Jordan: One of the things about the clip mic, the clip mic uses the MKE 2 capsule that Sennheiser created, but it uses the Apogee pre-amp. Apogee, which has been known for digital I/O for a long time, is doing the pre-amp for it, it’s the first time that the two companies have done a partnership and the quality of that, especially recording to an iPhone, is really solid. I was very impressed when I had a chance to play with one.
Cirina Catania: And thank you for reminding me, because it was a partnership between Apogee and Sennheiser and the free app that goes with it just blew me away.
Larry Jordan: Yes, the iPhone app especially.
Cirina Catania: …has a lightning connector.
Larry Jordan: Well, that’s coming, I suspect. Right now, it comes in through the mic connector.
Cirina Catania: No, the iClip digital, the clip mic digital, has a lightning connector.
Larry Jordan: Oh, it does?
Cirina Catania: I actually recorded the interview on my iPad using the clip mic digital.
Larry Jordan: Oh, that’s very cool.
Mike Horton: Let’s look that up.
Larry Jordan: Let’s get back to Mike’s favorite subject, which is virtual reality. What did you see at the show that was talking about VR?
Cirina Catania: Oculus glasses everywhere, Google Cardboard everywhere, but Zeiss has come out with a new high end VR glass that takes the Cardboard and really brings it into a more professional realm. You can clip your Smartphone into it and you can control your drone with the Zeiss VR and you can look through your Smartphone to see virtual reality environments. It’s great for gaming and it works with several models of the DJI Phantom, which we’re actually using on some of our shoots.
Cirina Catania: They also have a new smart glass, a data glass. Remember Google Glass, how weird those things looked?
Larry Jordan: Oh yes.
Cirina Catania: Well, leave it up to Zeiss to come up with the really high end technology that also looks good. These look like regular beautiful glasses on their very high end data glass and instead of projecting the data into your eyes, the data is projected on the glass so that you’re actually reading the data on the back of your glasses.
Larry Jordan: Oh my goodness.
Cirina Catania: Mhmm.
Mike Horton: Cirina, how much is that clip mic digital thing? I’m looking at their website and I don’t see it, other than the picture of it.
Cirina Catania: It’s brand new and it may not be there. I believe they told me it was $199. I’m actually going to be looking to get one for myself and I’ll share that info with you.
Mike Horton: Ok, well it looks really cool.
Cirina Catania: Yes, it’s very cool.
Larry Jordan: Another thing that impressed me was that you could not find an HD television set anywhere, it was all 4K. But my question is, is 4K going to be the big news or is it going to be HDR? Because every one of those 4K sets was also HDR compatible.
Cirina Catania: I think we’re going to go to HDR, but I think that most of the companies are waiting until NAB to show the HDR. I did see one at the Laff TV booth and it was only 3.9 millimeters thick.
Larry Jordan: Mmm.
Cirina Catania: I wasn’t really focused on the HDR video too much, but I thought that one was pretty interesting.
Larry Jordan: Well, I’ve decided to replace the video wall in my living room with a 4K video wall instead and Mike is going to help me install it this weekend. What else caught your eye, aside from a near death experience with a drone?
Cirina Catania: Well, you know, I grew up with Nakano, it’s a Swiss company that makes robotics and I remember building things when I was a little kid. There’s a company there called MakeBlock that sells DIY kits for kids and they start at $75. They’re compatible with Lego parts and you can build these amazing robots, so I thought that was fun; and then in the gaming area, it has to be Virtuix’s Omni. It’s a gaming treadmill that’s finally coming out and it takes gaming to the whole next level.
Cirina Catania: But then the… part of me loved the leather tech bags at… and I have to tell you my very favorite thing of all of CES was the BrewGenie, so you can lie in bed in the morning and you can start your coffee with your iPhone.
Mike Horton: Oh my gosh, I love it.
Larry Jordan: Provided you have the strength to actually pick up your iPhone before you get out of bed.
Mike Horton: I love it, I want that.
Larry Jordan: Cirina, thanks for joining us today and for people who want to keep track of some of the projects you’re working with, what project do you want people to pay attention to?
Cirina Catania: Probably easiest to go to filmvault.biz or thecataniagroup.com.
Larry Jordan: And the head of the Catania Group is Cirina Catania. She’s also the Supervising Producer of The Buzz and…
Mike Horton: And a former senior executive at United Artists. That’s so cool.
Larry Jordan: And you should bow when she walks in the room.
Mike Horton: I will now. For now and evermore.
Larry Jordan: Cirina, as always, it’s been a great visit. Thanks and we’ll talk to you again soon.
Cirina Catania: Thank you. Thank you both. Have a nice night.
Larry Jordan: You take care.
Cirina Catania: Bye.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: It’s time for a Buzz Flashback. Five years ago today…
Unknown man (archive): It was a creation out of necessity, that’s really the beginning of it all and technology was changing and we started with our original product, which was the cinema ring light, which gave someone the option of not having to traipse through the garage and find an old plywood built nit and actually taking advantage of new technology and incorporating it into something people can use, and that was the beginning of the six.
Larry Jordan: This was a Buzz Flashback.
Larry Jordan: Michael is sending notes to himself…
Mike Horton: I’m talking to Grant, because he just posted a picture of a thousand kangaroos on the road and they’re drinking water, he says.
Larry Jordan: One of the things that I like about CES is everybody is throwing you these really great ideas and you just wonder which ones are going to take off and which ones are just never going to make it.
Mike Horton: What do you mean, the people in the booths or the people you’re meeting?
Larry Jordan: People in the booths, yes. It’s just such a toy store. I’ll take you next time.
Mike Horton: Now, you’ve been to NAB and you’ve been to CES. Is CES really that much bigger than NAB?
Larry Jordan: Two to two and a half times the size.
Mike Horton: 175,000 people?
Larry Jordan: 3600 exhibitors, 2.5 million square feet of floor space, twice the exhibitors, twice the attendees and two and a half times the floor space.
Mike Horton: I look at NAB and it looks like all floor spaces, except for maybe the end of the South Hall.
Larry Jordan: But CES also uses seven hotels. The entire Sands Convention Center.
Mike Horton: I was actually going to go until I looked at the hotel prices and they were just through the roof, so unless you get somebody to pay for your hotel, you’re not going to CES.
Larry Jordan: Which I very gratefully did. The guys at Storage Visions asked me to speak and paid for my hotel.
Mike Horton: Yes, well, you’re very lucky.
Larry Jordan: Tom Coughlin is a wonderful guy.
Mike Horton: Because they say it’s their final show too.
Larry Jordan: One of the things I also liked about CES is it sets the stage for NAB and we’re going to be seeing what happens at the professional market coming up.
Mike Horton: You’re going to see drones and you’re going to see VR.
Larry Jordan: And HDR.
Mike Horton: And you’re going to see maybe robots.
Larry Jordan: I think you can count on it; and thinking about things you can count on, you can count on us having quality guests for you every week. I want to thank Srinivas Krishna, founder and CEO of the AWE Company; Gabe Cheifetz, the co-founder and CEO of Trost Motion; and Cirina Catania, the Supervising Producer for The Buzz, as well as a filmmaker.
Larry Jordan: There’s a lot of history in our industry posted to our website, at digitalproductionbuzz.com, all online, all available to you today, and our weekly show newsletter is free. Talk with us on Twitter, @DPBuZZ, and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Our theme music is composed by Nathan Dugie Turner with additional music provided by smartsound.com. Text transcripts are provided by Take 1 Transcription – visit take1.tv to learn how they can help you.
Larry Jordan: Our producer is Cirina Catania; the production team led by Megan Paulos and includes Ed Golya and Brianna Murphy. On behalf Mike Horton, the handsome guy to my right, my name’s Larry Jordan and thanks for joining us for The Digital Production Buzz.
Mike Horton: Bye, everybody.
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