Pat Grosswendt, Co-Founder, Senior Sales Specialist, Litepanels
Michael Kammes, Director of Technology, Key Code Media
Wayne Read, Vice President of Marketing, Glyph Production Technologies
Martin Baker, Founder, Digital Heaven
Dave Walton, Assistant VP, Marketing Communications, JVC Kenwood USA Corporation
James DeRuvo, Senior Writer, DoddleNEWS
Larry Jordan: Tonight on the Buzz we look at several new and emerging technologies and some cool new products. We start with Pat Grosswendt, co-founder of Litepanels, who showcases their newest lighting gear, as well as current trends driving the lighting industry.
Larry Jordan: Next, Michael Kammes, the director of technology for Key Code Media, shares his thoughts on trends emerging from IBC, new uses for artificial intelligence and the evolving world of collaborative video editing.
Larry Jordan: Wayne Read the vice president of marketing for Glyph talks about their newest storage technology, along with tips for picking the best storage.
Larry Jordan: Martin Baker, the founder of Digital Heaven, showcases SpeedScriber, the first automated speech to text transcription software.
Larry Jordan: Dave Walton, assistant vice president of marketing for JVC talks about their latest cameras, along with how smart phones are changing the professional camera market.
Larry Jordan: All this, plus James DeRuvo, with our weekly DoddleNEWS update. The Buzz starts now.
Announcer: 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: Welcome to The Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for the creative content industry, covering media production, post production and marketing around the world.
Larry Jordan: Hi, my name is Larry Jordan. Tonight, we’re looking at new products and new trends that will affect us over the course of the coming year. Predicting trends is always somewhat perilous. I mean, sure, trends like computers will get faster, and storage will increase in capacity and software will continue to evolve, those are easy, but not particularly helpful. Because the key question we all want to know is, what is happening in the future, so I can prepare for it today? What gear should I buy to help me become more future proof? And what new technology can I make money on and which technology should I ignore?
Larry Jordan: Now truthfully, if anyone really had those answers they’d be selling them on the open market to the highest bidder. All we can do is guess, but tonight’s guests are more informed than most, when it comes to new technology and I think you’ll enjoy listening to their answers.
Larry Jordan: By the way, when it comes to answers, I want to invite you to subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Every issue, every week provides quick links to the different segments o the show, plus articles of interest to filmmakers. Best of all, every issue is free, and comes out on Friday.
Larry Jordan: Now, it’s time for our DoddleNEWS update, with James DeRuvo. Hello James.
James DeRuvo: Happy Thursday Larry.
Larry Jordan: And a wonderful Thursday to you as well sir, how are you?
James DeRuvo: Hanging in there.
Larry Jordan: Alright, well let’s get right to the news. What is shaking this week?
James DeRuvo: RED unveiled a brand new MONSTRO 8K Vista Vision image sensor. It’s newly designed to record up to 60 frames per second, gives you an extra two thirds of a stop greater dynamic range, and writes the image files at up to 300 megabits per second. It can also record simultaneously to both REDCODE RAW and either Apple Pro Res, or Avid DNX HDHR.
Larry Jordan: Now does this mean that every other RED camera is now obsolete?
James DeRuvo: Oh not at all. RED already future proofed the design through DRAGON, so anything before DRAGON you had to sell but they had this really great deal. RED now has this philosophy of obsolete obsolescence and it protects the shooters’ investment by enabling them to upgrade only what they need, without having to buy a whole new camera. And the MONSTRO sensor package is a steal at $29,500 for existing WEAPN users and for Stormtrooper users, it’s half that.
Larry Jordan: That’s RED, what else we got?
James DeRuvo: Atomos has updated the Ninja Shogun and Inferno recorders, for HDR pertaining to using Panasonic VariCam LT, and Sony cameras. It supports Hybrid Log Gamma HDR, and is bringing with it 4K 12-bit CNDG Raw and 2K recording at up to 240 frames per second through Atomos Raw-to-ProRes technique. RED users will benefit from an updated support of IPP2 workflow, and the new nighttime DA50, also gets audio support so you can now record externally.
Larry Jordan: Well HDR support is great, and I’m a big fan of HDR, but when is Atomos going to start to support streaming?
James DeRuvo: That’s happening in this update. You’ll be able to stream directly to HDR to YouTube, and Atomos specifically mentioned HDR flag support for live streaming from gaming consoles as well, like the Playstation 4, Pro and the Xbox One X. And although game streaming is not really our bailiwick, it’s become a very popular genre for content creators and it looks like Atomos aims to lead in it.
Larry Jordan: OK, that’s Atomos and some new upgrades. What else have we got?
James DeRuvo: In the world of drones, you know how I love drones, DJI has unveiled the Zenmuse X7 Super 35 camera for the Inspire 2 drone. It’s designed specifically for aerial cinematography, it has a Super 35 image sensor with 14 stops of dynamic range, it records in 6K CinemaDNG Raw and 5.2K Apple ProRes with up to 30 frames per second. You could also get it up to 60 frames per second using a lower resolution. All these features include DJI Cinema Color System, with D-Log Curve and D-Log Gamut colorspace.
Larry Jordan: I was just thinking, didn’t DJI acquire Hasselblad last year?
James DeRuvo: They acquired an interest in it. They bought about 25 percent of it. That investment is starting to yield some serious dividends. So the X7 isn’t medium format per se, they’re applying a lot of the lessons they’re learning from that new partnership and I’m sure we’re going to see that performance window in this new camera.
Larry Jordan: There’s something I’ve been reading about this week, something called the Soap Opera Effect that directors have been complaining about. What’s that all about?
James DeRuvo: Well technically, it’s called frame interpolation and it’s what happens when your HD and 4K TV adds frames in between the 30 frames per second signal of the video. Because most of our TVs are at either 60 megahertz, 120 megahertz, some are even 240 megahertz. In order to read the file, they’ve got to add frames. That technique was invented when we went from standard definition to high definition, since the upscale would make the video just look awful. It was blurry and muddy and the engineers invented frame interpolation, to make the image sharp again. Great for live sports, and action scenes, but for movies? It kind of gives a video this soap opera like quality. I first saw it when I saw Star Wars, and it completely ruined the film and directors just can’t stand it. So James Gunn and Edgar Wright are leading the charge to lobby TV manufacturers to just flat out kill off the feature.
Larry Jordan: James, a lot of good stories. For people that want to keep track of these and others that you’re writing about, where can they go on the web?
James DeRuvo: All these and more can be found at doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo is the senior writer for DoddleNEWS, and returns every week with the DoddleNEWS update. James thank you so much, we’ll talk to you next week.
James DeRuvo: Talk to you then.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Here’s another website I want to introduce you to. Doddlenews.com. DoddleNEWS gives you a portal into the broadcast, video and film industries. It’s a leading online resource, presenting news, reviews and products for the film and video industry. DoddleNEWS also offers a resource guide and crew management platforms specifically designed for production. These digital call sheets, along with their app, directory and premium listings, provide in depth organizational tools for busy production professionals. DoddleNEWS is a part of the Thalo Arts Community, a worldwide community of artists, film makers and story tellers. From photography to film making, performing arts to fine arts, and everything in between, Thalo is filled with resources you need to succeed. Whether you want the latest industry news, need to network with other creative professionals or require state of the art online tools to manage your next project, there’s only one place to go. Doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: Pat Grosswendt is a co-founder of Litepanels, where he works as a senior sales specialist supporting their sales teams in the Americas, Asia Pacific and China with technological insight. He’s also actively involved in new product development. Hello Pat, welcome back.
Pat Grosswendt: Hi Larry, thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: Pat, set the scene for us. How would you describe Litepanels?
Pat Grosswendt: Litepanels is the trendsetter as far as LED technology and image capture. We’ve always been looking to create tools that satisfy the need for an ever changing marketplace, and image capture routine. All at the same time as keeping in mind what is happening with the industry.
Larry Jordan: That gets me to essentially the focus of today’s show, which is the latest in technology. What is the latest technology in lighting?
Pat Grosswendt: In our lighting, the latest technology’s what we just introduced at IBC in Amsterdam, several weeks ago, which was our Gemini which is a 2×1 soft light that is low power consumption and high light output. It gives us the ability of dialing in full daylight or full tungsten or anywhere in between, just as we do in our Astra lineup. But what we’ve also introduced into the technology is the ability to draw on RGB as a separate entity, in that product, to create the pinwheel of colors that someone may choose from.
Larry Jordan: In other words, the Gemini instrument can have white light or it could be red or blue?
Pat Grosswendt: It can be white light, based on the fact we’re using white LEDs, or it could be tungsten, based on the fact we’re using orange LEDs. That’s the simplest way I think for some of the people that aren’t caught in the nuance of color temperature. Daylight or tungsten, tungsten being orange, daylight being blue. We have the option with both those chips being in the unit, just like our Astra, of fixing a color between 2700 and 6000. When you are interested in using that tool for creating another light source with a variety of colors emitting from it, you have that option of going into the unit and adjusting the hue saturation and the intensity of the light which gives you suddenly another value to that tool on the set or in the workplace.
Larry Jordan: All this is done without putting filters in front of the light?
Pat Grosswendt: Correct.
Larry Jordan: Let’s imagine we’re on location, and I’ve got daylight streaming through a window. I need to supplement that daylight to make my actors visible, so I’m using some of your units. How do I match the color of the light to the daylight so they all look like they are the same color temperature? Do I do it by eye or are there tools that we can use?
Pat Grosswendt: There’s tools you can use. We also have the ability with five pre-sets on the light to go anywhere from 6000 down to 2700, so those that are really versed with being able to by eye call the colors pretty closely to what they see, and how the camera registers it, you can go to pre-set buttons to set those levels, and then just adjust your intensity. There’s a lot of people are using different apps or different lighting tools such as handheld spectrometers that are going to read the light coming in, and match that to the light you’re emitting from the lighting tool as well as a lot of people have … where you’re actually able to adjust your film look in lighting to the sources and make sure everything’s even or not. So, there’s a lot of different opportunities today be it either handheld or by professionals that come to the set to do it.
Larry Jordan: Litepanels has continued to develop new lights over the years. What trends in lighting today are driving your product development? What do customers want?
Pat Grosswendt: Everybody’s looking for something they can use, something better that doesn’t replace what you just bought. We’ve seen many changes, and a lot of those effectively are happening within the camera, that knowing the camera will give you many more advantages over knowing just about lighting, because the two have to work in unison, and if you know the camera, you’re going to realize that you can get a lot of work done by only adding a few lights instead of a lot. The essence today is, it’s not about how much light you put out, but where you put the light. So that your painting can be broader, can be very detailed.
Larry Jordan: I have a philosophical question. Technology changes so rapidly that for many of us, any gear we buy today will be obsolete in six months, and this makes it really difficult to earn a return on our investment. Because of this, it’s often better to work with the gear we have rather than to buy new gear which puts manufacturers like you in a bind, because you need to create new gear to fend off competition, but you also need to reassure end users that the investment in the gear they buy today is safe. It seems like it’s almost a vicious cycle. What’s your take?
Pat Grosswendt: It’s a great observation but that happens every time I speak with you. I think the value is that we understand lighting, and we’re going to produce a product based on our understanding of lighting and how technology allows us to move forward. The benefit comes from the ability to show something. If you build it, they will come, they will buy it, if it’s right for them. So being very broad in your decision making is not so simple, but at the same time, you want to develop something that will reach to a broader market. We can’t confuse the customer, we can only educate them and a lot of times, these shows are not intended by many of us that are helping to design the product to put a PO in the sales person or reseller’s hands. That should come organically from the fact that what we made is so enthralling and of interest that the customer realizes at this point in their career, it’s the right tool for them to have and that becomes the onus on us or any other manufacturer. Make great products and they will follow.
Larry Jordan: As you mentioned, cameras are becoming increasingly sensitive. Low light levels are almost noise free in many cameras. How does that affect your decisions in the lighting you develop?
Pat Grosswendt: Cameras are very sensitive. As a matter of fact, if you tell them they did a bad job, they get very upset. That’s how sensitive they are.
Larry Jordan: Thank you. Don’t forget to tip your waiter.
Pat Grosswendt: Yes, I’ll be here all week. Back to the question of what’s happening with cameras? I think everybody’s in the same position, whether you’re designing cars or whether you’re designing refrigerators, or whether you’re designing cameras, or lights. You have to have a better idea. That’s what people expect from those who have cut trails. So whatever the camera manufacturer is doing is to fit a segmented market, whatever the lighting manufacturer’s doing is to fit a segmented market. So you have to be able to realize one, who is your market share or how many of those sub-groups are you making your market share? And from that, you’re going to design products that will last, become a return on the investment, but also do the chore that they’re expected to do.
Pat Grosswendt: The longevity of a product helps … whether it’s a camera or a light, so we need to be very aware of what’s happening with cameras, but I think most people intuitively are simply because they’re seeing it every day, whether it’s on the set or on the market shelf. How it fits to their needs is an important factor. Everybody’s not going to use a small little camera that you’re going to put on a surfboard to take a picture of you cutting down a wave, compared to a larger camera with a longer lens that somebody’s going to shoot from afar. The perspectives are different. So as the marketplace is taking viewers into different arenas of distribution, of imagery, whether it’s YouTube or Vimeo or Netflix or Paramount Studios projects, there’s a lot of different projects happening with a lot of different formats, and it goes back to the part about designing a tool that people realize is useful for them. Just because the bolt’s designed for one thing doesn’t mean that that’s the only thing it’s going to be designed for. Somebody may pick it up, 1,000 people will use it differently than what it was designed for because it fits a need that they can fit into their design of what they’re doing. Visually. And so, knowing what the camera manufacturer’s going through is, let’s see what the market is willing to move themselves towards to give us an idea of the direction.
Pat Grosswendt: We will see that lighting is being dictated by who’s buying what. But also by who bought what, and what they’re still using, and that’s why they’re not buying new. We have many customers that are still using lights they bought from us 12 or 15 years ago. If you build a great product, people will come to buy it and because they don’t come back right away, is hopefully the return on their investment because what you design fit their needs. As they look towards something to replace it eventually for whatever reason, ten out of ten times they’re going to come and look at what you have. So being innovative, just like the camera manufacturers are having to do, is the key to success in developing new products and reaching customers.
Larry Jordan: For people that want to become a customer of Litepanels or learn more about your products, where can they go on the web?
Pat Grosswendt: Litepanels.com.
Larry Jordan: Litepanels.com, and Pat Grosswendt is a co-founder of Litepanels and currently senior sales specialist. Pat, thanks for joining us today.
Pat Grosswendt: Great to speak with you Larry. Be well.
Larry Jordan: In his current role as director of technology at Key Code Media, Michael Kammes consults on the latest in technology and best practices into the digital media communication space. He also has this wonderful love of workflow, codecs and process. Hello Michael, welcome back.
Michael Kammes: Hi Larry, good to hear your voice again.
Larry Jordan: This week we’re looking at new technology and there’s so much new technology exploding around us, and much of it passes through Key Code Media. So I want to have us take a step back and see if between the two of us, we can spot some bigger trends, so let’s start with, from your perspective, what were some of the highlights coming out of IBC?
Michael Kammes: Well some of the highlights coming out of IBC, and I hate to put on the purple hat again, but the Avid continuing announcements of working with Microsoft in terms of remote editing, whether it be in a VM or in a cloud or simply editing remotely with the media elsewhere, they seem to really be pushing the envelope that most other major players have abandoned or are still looking into what a solution may be.
Larry Jordan: Now VM stands for virtual machine. What would Avid be doing in a virtual machine environment?
Michael Kammes: Traditionally it’s been a one to one ratio. If you want to run Media Composer, you need a machine in front of you that can run Media Composer. But let’s say that you are renting out Microsoft is your space, and you could then put Media Composer on that VM, or perhaps you want to work with editors that are across the country. Well you can spin up a VM locally and then have someone across the country access it from their home office or their own edit bay.
Larry Jordan: I’ve had very limited experience working with a virtual machine, but discovered that it had a lot of latency and a lot of lag. Is that still true of that technology?
Michael Kammes: We’re talking about a couple of different things. If we’re talking about a VM that is local, meaning I’m running a VM within the four walls of my facility, the lag isn’t too bad. But if we’re talking about someone in another country, someone across the country, then we have this little thing called physics, and the speed of light, and having a key pressed in New York, having it trigger something in LA and then going back to New York, that can be an issue. But if it’s local, latency isn’t too bad at all.
Larry Jordan: Alright, well let’s shift to a different subject, which is artificial intelligence or machine learning. This seems to be sprouting up everywhere, it’s like kudzu, you can’t get away from it. What’s your thought on AI?
Michael Kammes: Well, I think that’s where we’re definitely going. I think there’s a big concern and a big worry in the industry that it’s going to take away the jobs of, dare I say, some of the more pedestrian things that editors and assistant editors do. I look at it as a godsend, because I think it’s going to free up a lot of the mundane tasks that assistants and editors are doing and allow them to create or do other things. I don’t think it’s going to phase out any jobs. What I think is very interesting, as you pointed out, it’s everywhere.
Larry Jordan: I’m not necessarily as optimistic as you are. I think AI will cost a lot of jobs and I think one of the things that surprises me is how little conversation there is on the impact that machine learning will have on job creation. So we’ll see how that develops over the next 12 months.
Michael Kammes: I’d be very interested and if it does end up eating into some of the job market, I can only hope that the creatives in the industry are up to that change just like they were when they moved from tape to digital, to learn new skills and still be employable as their job description morphs.
Larry Jordan: What’s your thinking on Adobe, of their new project collaboration emphasis?
Michael Kammes: Oh this is my new favorite thing Larry. I’ve been so into this concept ever since Adobe Anywhere came out, what was it? Three years ago. I’m anxious to work with it more. I think it’s going to be at least for the microcosm of Hollyweird, I think it’s going to be massive. I think for everyone outside of Hollywood, who wants to get into collaborative workflows, I think this is going to be a massive eye opening experience that you can collaboratively work without pushing and pulling project files and media and I think the folks who are using Avid really need to watch out, because I think Adobe’s really going to start taking a chunk of that business.
Larry Jordan: How about storage technology? Any interesting stuff happening there?
Michael Kammes: When we talk about storage, what we see are a lot of companies who are throwing a lot of drives in a chassis and then sharing it out over the network as a NAS. Without getting into a lot of the finer details of SAN versus NAS, we’re seeing a lot of low cost NAS providers trying to top themselves as having the ability of a SAN, and anyone that’s done any kind of IT work, anyone that’s ever been in a collaborative environment, knows that’s not the case. So the one thing I want to caution is that when folks are looking into less expensive storage from smaller brands, look at the fine print in the details because you’re not going to get the performance and features that you would find in a SAN in an off the shelf NAS.
Larry Jordan: So your vote is to pick what?
Michael Kammes: I’m a big fan of SANs, I’m a big fan of storage providers who have invested in their own technology, and developed their own file systems as opposed to trying to use something generic like a NAS.
Larry Jordan: For people that need to keep track of you and what you’re doing, where they can go on the web?
Michael Kammes: Lots of places, but the first one is michaelkammes.com, and fivethingsseries.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, michaelkammes.com or fivethingsseries.com. Michael, thanks for joining us today, I look forward to talking to you soon.
Michael Kammes: Always a pleasure, thank you Larry.
Larry Jordan: Wayne Read has been working with computers since let’s just say a long time. Currently he’s the vice president of marketing for Glyph Productions Technology, providing trusted data transport and storage solutions. Hello Wayne, welcome.
Wayne Read: Hi Larry, how are you sir?
Larry Jordan: I’m looking forward to our conversation. It’s been a while since we’ve had Glyph on the program, and just to get things started, how would you describe Glyph?
Wayne Read: We like to say that Glyph is a boutique manufacturer of external storage solutions, for anybody that wants to create content. Whether that be professional or prosumers, in the field or in the studio, but we’ve also found that we have a much broader appeal, and we’re finding that our products are being embraced by college students who are freshmen in college, through the Department of Defense. So, it’s been exciting watching us move beyond just being boutique.
Larry Jordan: Well tonight we’re looking at new products, so what have you done for us lately?
Wayne Read: Well last year we launched the Atom and the Atom Raid, which are basically two SSD devices that fit in your pocket, that are USB-C 3.1 gen two, so compatible with Thunderbolt 3 as well as backward compatible to USB 3.0. What’s been so great about those products is that in your hand you have basically a production grade studio level performance product, so our Atom right now, we had at one terabyte, and this year we’ve increased that capacity to a two terabyte capacity in something that’s two inches by five inches. What’s interesting is we’ve seen a lot of people in the video space and doing a lot of 4K editing, love our Atom Raid which is getting 860 megabytes per second out of something that is three inches by five inches. So that’s an exciting product for us this past year.
Larry Jordan: Clearly, storage capacity on an SSD is increasing, but why is it taking so long? Why is adding capacity to an SSD drive so difficult?
Wayne Read: Part of the challenge is, in our situation, we also want to be bus powered when we’re looking at SSDs for mobile use, and there’s a power requirement for those. So I think part of the challenge is the increased capacity and the power requirements aren’t there. Also there’s a demand for SSD around the world, and there’s actually a shortage right now. So a part of that is demand is going to control the growth, and the capacities of those items. They’re coming along, but it’s a process.
Larry Jordan: Another question I keep wondering about is hybrid drives. Why can’t we take an SSD and combine it with a hard disc like Apple’s done with the Fusion drive?
Wayne Read: You’re seeing some of that happen, but I believe that the benefit of an SSD drive is that you don’t have any moving parts. So you don’t have any heat, and you’re going to get a much cleaner sustained performance out of it.
Larry Jordan: OK. I was just counting on both fingers and toes, there’s 800 million storage vendors out there. How do we pick which storage to get, and how do we pick the right vendor?
Wayne Read: There may be 800 million out there, but the truth is that there are very few that are small and independent that are not owned by some of the large conglomerates, and we’re one of those. So that’s one thing, is you look for a company that’s going to care about your workflow, is going to accessible to you, and will be designing products that will be helping you improve your workflow. And one of the things we’ve done this year, is we’re going to be launching a dock for our Atoms. We’ve found that people who love using it in a mobile setting, or in the field, wanted to come back into their studio and have that Atom be part of their studio workflow. So it’s going to be a docking device, that will allow you to connect it to your laptop or Mac or PC, and then you’re also going to be able to put in SD cards or other devices that are coming out of your drones or your cameras.
Wayne Read: That came strictly out of us listening to the market, and very nimbly adapting and developing that product for the market. So that’s part of it, and I think one of the things you’ve got to look at is, you get to a certain point where speed is important, and capacity’s important. But also the build. All of our products are built in Cortland, New York, and they’re tested up there, and at the end of the day if something doesn’t work, if it’s not assembled to the highest standard, and it’s not engineered to the highest standard, then the storage and the speed really don’t matter. So, we pride ourselves on that and our 3, 2, 1 warranty which is …
Larry Jordan: But the flip side to being a small company is that a large company has got resources and is likely to be there next year. How do we know that Glyph is going to hang around?
Wayne Read: Well we’ve hung around for 25 years, through a lot of different market dynamics obviously. We’re coming off two years in a row of 40 percent growth and this year it’s going to be even higher than that, so we’re here to stay. We’re going to keep on innovating and building quality product. We have a very passionate client and customer base, and we’re just going to keep on supporting that base.
Larry Jordan: So for people that want to learn more about Glyph products, where do they go on the web?
Wayne Read: I would go to www.glyphtech.com. You can find out about our products, also some of the resellers that have them available.
Larry Jordan: That website is glyphtech.com and Wayne Read is the VP of marketing for Glyph, and Wayne thanks for joining us today.
Wayne Read: Thank you Larry, have a good evening.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Martin Baker left the BBC after 13 years as an editor to found Digital Heaven, in the year 2000. Over the last 17 years, Martin and his team have developed a series of utilities and plug ins that make an editor’s life a lot easier. And their newest title is SpeedScriber. Hello Martin, welcome.
Martin Baker: Hi Larry, good to be here.
Larry Jordan: Let’s start at the beginning. What is SpeedScriber?
Martin Baker: SpeedScriber is the world’s first automated transcription app. It’s for Mac OS and it’s specifically aimed at content creators and most importantly, it integrates with all three major editing systems. So that’s Avid, Final Cut Pro X and Premiere Pro. SpeedScriber’s been two years of work and me working six days a week on it to get it to this point.
Larry Jordan: What made it so hard?
Martin Baker: It’s complex. The whole system, the way you have to interact with it, integrating with all the NLE’s, there’s just so much there. It’s pretty complex stuff really to be honest.
Larry Jordan: How do you integrate with the NLEs?
Martin Baker: It depends on the NLE. They all have their little strengths, and weaknesses. Avid is a simple text export, but it’s in a very specific format that Avid requires for their script import, so we do that. We support that. For Final Cut Pro X, it basically adds transcript, breaks it down into generally sentences, and then it will add a sentence as a key word range, on that clip. And there’s actually a pretty deep integration with Final Cut Pro in that you can drag a clip from Final Cut Pro into SpeedScriber, transcribe it, and then send it back again, without having to mess around with any XML files yourself. So it’s all drag and drop which is pretty neat.
Martin Baker: For Premiere, we’ve got a custom panel which is of course one of the great things about Premiere, that they open out to third party developers. With that you can log into your account and attach the transcript to a clip and depending on what type of clip it is, it will either come in as speech metadata or it will come in as markers.
Larry Jordan: Well there’s a number of speech detect utilities out there. SpeedScriber was first, but there’s now Builder, and Transcriptive, which come to mind. What makes SpeedScriber unique?
Martin Baker: One of the things that really makes it unique as a product is that it is a native Mac OS app and it’s combining that with the power and the scalability of a cloud based transcription service. So when you put those two things together, you can do some very interesting things. So for instance, just to give you one example, if you were to drag in a multi gigabyte video file into SpeedScriber, because we’re a native Mac OS app, we have access to all the built in media handling that Apple apps do. So that means that we can just create an audio file and we can upload that audio file to our servers for transcription because at the end of the day, all it needs is the audio. So that’s one of the key things that we do.
Larry Jordan: From the point of view of the user, we don’t have to worry about prepping the file, just grab what we’ve got and drag it over?
Martin Baker: Exactly. So it cuts down the prep time.
Larry Jordan: How does the software work?
Martin Baker: There’s two basic ways that it works. First of all you can drag a media file, audio or video from the finder, directly into the SpeedScriber app, and that comes in as a panel on the left, the import panel. Then you can choose what type of English accent it has, on the file. And also how many speakers that file should contain. Once you’ve done those two things, you press the transcribe button, and then up it goes, for transcription, and then within minutes, you will get back a transcript within the app, and that all happens automatically.
Larry Jordan: How would you define the accuracy of the transcription?
Martin Baker: The thing about automated transcription is, which seems obvious to some people, but maybe not to others, is that it will absolutely depend on the quality of your original source file. So it makes a major difference. If you upload something that has poorly recorded audio, the mike is in a corner of a very acoustically live room, you are not going to get good results with that. If you upload something which has background music, that makes it so much more difficult to decode where the words are and what the words are. So again, it’s always best to have the cleanest, least echoey audio recording to feed into the system. And by doing that you’re going to get the best results out of it.
Larry Jordan: One of the challenges I’ve found in doing automated transcription is that most automated systems have problems with acronyms and proper nouns. Is that also true of your service?
Martin Baker: Not in my experience, no. It’s actually pretty good with all that stuff.
Larry Jordan: One of the concerns that some people have about uploading files to the cloud or anywhere outside the facility, is security and privacy. Are these audio files retained by you after we upload them, or are they erased?
Martin Baker: So you have two options. By default, they are retained for seven days and then they’re automatically deleted, and the reason why that is in place is simply for diagnostic purposes. So if somebody said, “I got really bad results with this and the audio is really good,” then we can look at it because we have that original audio file as long as they do it within seven days. We can listen to that original audio file, obviously with their permission and compare it against the transcript and investigate what’s going on there. Obviously for some users that is a concern, and I understand that, so what we have introduced fairly recently is that you now have the option to delete the audio file as soon as the transcription is complete. So we don’t hold any audio files if you select that option, then that’s an account level option basically.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information about SpeedScriber, where can they go, and is there a trial version available?
Martin Baker: Sure, so they can just go to speedscriber.com and you can click through to the Mac app store, and download it. It’s a free download, you have to create an online account, but when you do that, you will get 15 free minutes that you can just try out yourself with your own files and just see how it works for you. And after that, you can buy minutes as you need to.
Larry Jordan: That website is all one word, speedscriber.com and Martin Baker is the CEO and founder of Digital Heaven, and Martin, thanks for joining us today.
Martin Baker: Thanks very much Larry.
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Larry Jordan: David Walton is an expert in the field of cameras. He’s also the assistant vice president of marketing for professional products at JVC Kenwood USA. He’s based out of the company’s headquarters in Wayne, New Jersey. Hello Dave, welcome back.
Dave Walton: Hi Larry, it’s good to talk to you.
Larry Jordan: With all the different camera manufacturers that are in the market today, how would you describe JVC?
Dave Walton: Well it’s an interesting question, because we’ve been in this business for a long time. This is actually our 90th year anniversary as a manufacturer in the electronics area, and we started building cameras about 70 years ago, so those are just some numbers, but the reality is that we’ve been around a long time and we have a variety of products that fit in, I would say, well certainly the professional products area. We range everywhere from broadcast products that are used for electronic news gathering and studio usage down to products that are used for events, sports, you name it.
Larry Jordan: The focus of today’s show is new technology, so what’s new with JVC’s cameras?
Dave Walton: Cameras have been evolving for a long time, and it’s been generally the policy to build cameras that are as flexible for as many different applications as possible. Because it costs a lot of money to design a specific product for one application. So if you can nudge in features that work for a variety of things, that’s fine. But we’ve also found that you can’t be too general. It helps if we can come out with specific features that address certain markets, for example, we have a sports production camcorder. That camera actually will interface with the scoreboard at stadiums and we’re talking now probably high school and some college, the actual score and the clock and all those could be overlaid on the video in a professional looking lower third graphic that will simplify the process of producing that live streaming event, or live recorded event that’s later used. We have some coaches that are using these to record games and to do it with a scoreboard clock overlay and then they have footage that they can go and review after the game, that’s terrific looking HD footage. We have the scoreboard templates for baseball and football and soccer and other sports.
Dave Walton: So this is just one type of feature that we have in a product that gives it a applicability in a particular vertical market. We have another product that has a specifics overlay for the house of worship market, so church can do graphics easily in the camera. In general, we have a number of products, and accessories that work in the broadcast market that allow you to do live streaming from a breaking news location. These are things that we have built into the cameras today.
Larry Jordan: Well I’m getting a sense that the camera market is fragmenting. Not just existing manufacturers, like yourself and others who have been in the industry for decades, but also with the new manufacturers that are providing new competition. There’s so many different cameras, that it’s hard for end users to choose. How does a camera manufacturer decide whether to develop a new camera or add features to an existing camera?
Dave Walton: I think a lot of that has to do certainly with the market. We’ve always had a lot of cameras in the marketplace. The professional cameras have always, at least in the last 30 years, been able to leverage the technology that’s gone into the development of consumer cameras. It’s very expensive to build a camera, and the professional camera market is not as big as the consumer market ever was. And when a manufacturer is building products for a consumer marketplace where the volumes are very high, and the costs are very low, they’re able to develop technology that can be leveraged into specific products for vertical professional markets that allow them to be affordable. When I entered this business in the late 1970s, a professional video camera used by a television station, often at that time cost $40,000. That’s a lot of money in 1979 dollars. $40,000 would probably be close to $100,000 today. If that’s what it costs to build a camera to go out and shoot a wedding, nobody would be shooting weddings, but what we’re seeing is the exact opposite now. We’re seeing cell phones developed with such good technology that in a mass market sense, that in a way they’re setting the standards by which consumers are expecting video cameras to perform and now we in the professional camera industry, have to keep up with them in many cases.
Larry Jordan: I think this points out a real challenge. In the past companies like JVC would develop a low end consumer camera and then migrate up to the professional camera. But the smart phones have literally destroyed the consumer camera market.
Dave Walton: You’re absolutely correct.
Larry Jordan: How does JVC react now?
Dave Walton: An analogy that I like to use is, if you have a Swiss army knife which consumer cell phones tend to be, they do many different things, and they do some things very well. But a Swiss army knife could be used by a gourmet chef to create a fantastic meal, if the chef knows what they’re doing, they could use a Swiss army knife, and they could create the most incredible meal with that knife. However, I don’t know any chefs that would want to do that, because a chef would pick tools for creating a meal that are ideal and suited specifically for the project at hand.
Dave Walton: One of the complaints we would hear typically about using a cell phone for a video production, is “But where are the XLR audio connectors?” Something it seems very simple, but I suspect Larry that in your audio studio right now, you are using a microphone that’s connected to a console with an XLR audio connector. You’re not trying to figure out how to nudge that into a form factor that will fit in your shirt pocket. You don’t have to, and you wouldn’t do that because you have specific needs, and those needs are not the same as 100 million consumers out there. You have needs to get a job done, and you’re going to use the technology that’s ideal for that.
Dave Walton: And our camera technology is much the same way. We build a camera that is useful for a professional and they need to be able to connect professional audio equipment, not just through an XLR connector, but perhaps one that provides 48 volts of current to power a microphone, and that’s one of the things that’s built in with the camera. The other has to do with lenses, and the way lenses perform. Not just whether they have the capability within the lens of zooming and stabilization, but lenses that have a particular feel to the camera operator so that they can get the shot they want in a way that feels comfortable to them. And the form factor of a cell phone is typically not all that comfortable. So they have decimated the consumer market place, but I don’t think they’re going to be the ideal form factor for a professional doing a production or a documentary or in a live shooting event where you have multiple cameras and that sort of thing.
Larry Jordan: How does a camera manufacturer like JVC compete against smart phones? Because the technology of smart phones is just growing exponentially.
Dave Walton: On the consumer side, it’s really not possible. The money that goes into developing the integrated circuits in those products and the chips and the lenses and everything that goes into those is far greater in terms of investment than whatever went into the consumer camcorder or the professional camera market. We just don’t have the money to invest in specific products that do one thing, that they’re putting into the products that are selling in the millions. But having said that, we’re going to be able to latch onto some of that, it’s going to make our products better for specific applications. But we’re never going to be able to compete with a product like a Swiss army knife that does everything for everybody.
Larry Jordan: Technology changes so rapidly that for many of us, any gear we buy today will be obsolete in six months. This makes it really difficult for us to earn a return on our investment and because of this, it’s often better for us to work with the gear we have rather than buy something new. This delayed buying cycle puts manufacturers like JVC in a bind, because you need to create new gear to fend off the competition, but you also need to reassure end users that their investment is safe. It sets up what seems almost like a vicious cycle. What’s your take?
Dave Walton: It’s always been the case and at the high end, that generally means that a producer is going to rent equipment, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You’re going to go out, you’re going to shoot a TV commercial and you want it to be the very best and you want to use the very best cameras, and the very best lenses. There’s a very good chance that you’re going to consider going to a rental house and renting the gear necessary, and it’s not just cameras, it’s all kinds of things. It’s cranes, it’s dollies, it’s the equipment you need for the job at hand. If you do the same thing over and over again on a regular basis, you’re probably going to buy something and you know what you’re going to do now, you know what you need the product to do two years from now. If the cameras we have, and I believe they do, will solve the problem that you have now and two years from now, you’re not worried about them becoming obsolete, you just want cameras that are going to reliably get the job done, and that means that you’re going to pick from the best of what we have today. You’re not necessarily going to try to figure it out, because what happens is that people say “Oh yes, but it needs to have 4K, 120p so I can do slow mo 4K.” Well do you need that today? Tomorrow? In the future? Well maybe not, so maybe what you need today is a pan tilt zoom camera that can be put onto a mount and provide the shots you need with the image you need in the most effective way, and that’s the products that we offer, and those are the ones that we sell the most of.
Dave Walton: It becomes a little different when you’re talking about a cinema project where you’re going out and shooting a movie, or a documentary that is going to take advantage of the high dynamic range or the 4K features, and for that then people are very interested in products like our GYLS300, that will do log recording, and that gives you a lot more lens options and a larger imager, and there are many options out there for customers not just with our product but with DSLRs and with cinema cameras.
Dave Walton: There’s a lot to choose from and my advice still is to a customer, pick what’s going to work best for the kind of work you do, and if you don’t know what you’re going to do, you might want to hold off a little bit, learn as much as you can, get the experience, even if it’s using your latest and greatest cell phone, or rent the gear and get your hands on professional gear and see if that’s going to work for you before you go out and make a great big investment.
Larry Jordan: For people that do want to know what the latest in professional gear is, especially from JVC, where can they go on the web?
Dave Walton: They can go to pro.jvc.com or they can even go to jvc.com and click on professional and they’ll get all the information about our products.
Larry Jordan: That website is pro.jvc.com and Dave Walton is the assistant vice president for marketing for professional products for JVC Kenwood. Dave, thanks for joining us today.
Dave Walton: Thank you for having me.
Larry Jordan: You know, I was just thinking. In my newsletter last week I reviewed a new software program called Command. This is a new combined computer ipad app that allows you to gather and organize, keyboard shortcuts for any Mac application, and display them as a series of buttons on an ipad. Personally I’m a keyboard shortcut junkie and I can easily remember hundreds of shortcuts spread across a variety of programs. Well, hundreds perhaps, except the one shortcut I need at that particular moment. But I’ve learned that not everyone can remember or even wants to use keyboard shortcuts. Many prefer to use menus while others prefer to use buttons. Each of us uses the same programs differently.
Larry Jordan: All of us want to get our work done efficiently with as much quality as possible, but while we may all have the same goal, we don’t all have the same path to the goal. Keyboard shortcuts are great if you’re using the same program day after day, but shortcuts aren’t a big help if you only use a program periodically and need to use menus to remember what the program does and how it works.
Larry Jordan: I try to always keep this in mind as I interview guests for the Buzz. What’s important to one person may not be important to someone else. That’s why I always try to start by explaining the basics so that we all have the same base level of knowledge, then build upon that to discover the key features in whatever we’re talking about at the time. Unless we all have the same foundation of knowledge, talking about cool new features won’t mean very much. And that’s a hard balance to hit. To make sure we have enough time to talk about the cool new stuff, while also assuring that everyone understands what we’re talking about. All while doing this in the time we have available.
Larry Jordan: Time versus content versus comprehensiveness. This is a balance we try to hit every week. Just something I’m thinking about and as always, I’d like to know your opinion.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests for this week, Pat Grosswendt from Litepanels, Michael Kammes from Key Code Media, Wayne Read from Glyph, Martin Baker from Digital Heaven, Dave Walton from JVC Kenwood, and James DeRuvo from DoddleNEWS.
Larry Jordan: There’s a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website, at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Here you’ll find thousands of interviews, all online and all available to you today. Remember to sign up for our free weekly show newsletter that comes out every Friday afternoon.
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Larry Jordan: Our producer is Debbie Price, my name is Larry Jordan, and thanks for listening to The Digital Production Buzz.
Larry Jordan: The Digital Production Buzz is copyright 2017 by Thalo LLC.