Get the Latest BuZZ Each Week

Transcript: Digital Production Buzz – September 28, 2017

HOST
Larry Jordan

GUESTS
Terry Hope, Editor, Pro Moviemaker Magazine, Bright Publishing
Philip Hodgetts, President, Lumberjack System
Paul Stewart, Director of Business Development, North America, multiCAM Systems
Stefan Karle, Founder, DoPchoice
Jess Hartmann, CEO, ProMAX Systems
James DeRuvo, Senior Writer, DoddleNEWS

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Larry Jordan: Tonight on the Buzz, we have our final reports from IBC; along with exciting new products from Lumberjack System, DoPchoice, multiCAM Systems and Promax; plus, breaking news from GoPro’s big press announcement this morning in San Francisco.

Larry Jordan: We start with Terry Hope, Editor of ProMovieMaker Magazine, with his final report from IBC 2017; this time covering the latest news in storage.  Then James DeRuvo, Senior Writer for DoddleNEWS travels to San Francisco, to cover this morning’s GoPro event; along with other major industry news.  Next, Philip Hodgetts, CEO of Lumberjack System, joins us to talk about the increasing role that artificial intelligence and machine learning is taking in post-production; along with the announcement of their latest product, Builder.

Larry Jordan: Next, Paul Stewart, North American Director of Business Development for multiCAM Systems, explains their new automated podcast technology; as well as showcasing their latest announcements from IBC.  Next, Stefan Karle, the CEO of DoPchoice, talks about their newest tools for shaping light from soft lights; which were introduced at IBC.

Larry Jordan: Next, Jess Hartmann, the CEO of ProMAX talks about the increasing use of shared storage in post-production; the differences between SAN and NAS devices and their newest announcements targeted at smaller work groups.  The Buzz starts now. 

Terry Hope: 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 plant.  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.  Hello, my name is Larry Jordan.

Larry Jordan: Tonight wraps up our coverage of IBC for 2017; but even as IBC fades away, new products are clamoring for attention.  James DeRuvo travelled to San Francisco today, to attend the GoPro launch event and called in from, I don’t know, some hotel someplace up there, with all the news of GoPro’s newest camera.  As someone who grew up in the news business, it continues to amaze me how easy it is to get reports from just about anywhere.  I’ll have more on this and my ‘Just Thinking’ segment at the end of the show.

Larry Jordan: Before IBC recedes too far into the rear-view mirror, I want to get one more report done; some of the significant announcements at IBC and that means Terry Hope.  Terry Hope is the Editor of ProMovieMaker magazine, which is a quarterly publication that appears in the UK and the US.  His career spans professional photography, then videography and now Editor of a key industry publication.  As always, welcome back Terry.

Terry Hope: Hello Larry.

Larry Jordan: I was reflecting on your reports over the last couple of weeks and realized, the one area that we haven’t talked about is storage.  Well what’s your thought on storage technology, based on what you saw at IBC?

Terry Hope: Well obviously storage is becoming ever more crucial, thanks to the increasing data requirements of the new breed of cameras, 4K, 8K and so on.  So, obviously it was really interesting to see some of the solutions that are coming out.  It was a very interesting experience.

Larry Jordan: What product did you see that caught your eye?

Terry Hope: Well, there were a couple of things, for example, on the G-Technology; one of which was a G- Rack 12 software development kit, which really was interesting; because that now is giving the capability for third party partners to develop customized apps for the G NAS operating system that can run natively on the G-Rack 12 and its dual six core Xeon processors.

Terry Hope: A couple of manufacturers have already come up with apps for this particular device and it’s obvious that this is early days and there are going to be a lot more apps coming along in the very near future.

Larry Jordan: What kind of an app can you put on a storage system?

Terry Hope: For example, there was one, it was a workflow solution, specifically for the G-Rack 12 and it was produced by Archiware, who were an expert in data management software.  They’ve integrated their P5 software suite with the G-Rack 12 to create a solution that will facilitate disaster recovery, data migration and archival options for media and entertainment workflows.

Larry Jordan: Alright.  Apps on storage are kind of cool.  What did you G-Tech talk about?

Terry Hope: In recent years, the development of SSDs has pointed the way to the future of storage on the go.  These devices are not just compact and capable of remarkably high capacities; but crucially, they’re also highly robust, able to withstand any issues that might arise if you’re working in demanding environments, temperatures or elevations; so obviously anyone who’s filming on location, SSDs are definitely the way to go in terms of safe storage of data.

Terry Hope: What G-Technology was showing is their new R series of SSDs and they combine really high performance of up to 560 megabytes a second for 4K and raw storage; with rugged features that include IP67 dust and water resistance.  They’re also drop resistant, they can withstand something like 1,000 pounds of crush resistance; so pretty secure.

Larry Jordan: How do they connect to the computer?

Terry Hope: They’re connecting with USB-C, which is compatible with Thunderbolt 3 protocols at varying speeds; depending on which on board controller is installed.  This is important because the latest MacBook Pro support full speed, for example; whereas some of the previous generation ports only run at half speed.  That’s quite an important development; the more capacity you have on an SSD, the faster you need to be able to transfer the data.

Larry Jordan: How big are these?  What do they store?

Terry Hope: They had capacities of up to two terabytes.

Larry Jordan: Was G-Tech the only storage company showing something new?

Terry Hope: No, there were quite a few other things on display at the show.  One of the ones that caught my eye, I went to the Glyph stand and, again, my previous comment about SSDs, they very much confirm this is the way that technology is going.  They were showing quite a few products; they had their Atom and Atom RAID products; they’re both SSD solutions.  They’re very small and flexible; again, they come with USB-C and USB-3 connectivity; which is important.  Obviously with the new Mac, you can now connect without using a dongle; so that’s important.  Again, very much like the G-Technology products, they were very, very solid and well-built and they came with a rubber bumper as well.

Terry Hope: You can imagine, with this amount of data in the field, you last thing you want to be doing is dropping your SSD and finding you’re losing all your data.  Well these are much more robust than the previous solutions.

Larry Jordan: So that’s a G-Tech and Glyph and what did you see in software that got your eye?

Terry Hope: I came across, obviously, the Black Magic booth at the show.  It’s been very well broadcast; obviously DaVinci Resolve 14 has been in beta for a while.  I had a bit of a demonstration on it and I know that you’ve covered this before on your broadcast.  But, for me, the big things were that it’s so much faster than previous versions; up to ten times I believe and it’s also got collaborative workflow features, which I think is going to be really important for professional users.

Larry Jordan: IBC is famous for taking a step back and looking ahead and projecting what the future is going to hold.  Just to wrap up your report, what did you see of future technology?

Terry Hope: One of the things which I think I mentioned on my first report, there was a chance to see some very cutting edge AI robots, which have been developed by David Hansen.  He’s been trying to create the next generation of super intelligent super benevolent robots.  His latest creation is Sophia and she’s amazing.  She can maintain eye contact, recognize faces, understand speech, hold natural conversations and even simulate human personality.  Quite impressive.  She was actually answering questions, which I thought was quite impressive.

Terry Hope: Also, the other thing that was quite impressive was her face, which is very, very lifelike and, apparently, it’s inspired by a cross between Hansen’s Wife and Audrey Hepburn.  Quite a good looking robot.  You can imagine what the questions were.  Somebody asked her from the audience whether robots had a malicious nature.  She answered that we’ve got nothing to fear.  But I’ve seen Terminator and I don’t especially believe her.

Larry Jordan: Terry, thank you so very much for spending all of your time at IBC and for these wonderful reports.  For people that want to keep up with the industry and they want to check out your magazine, where do they go on the web?

Terry Hope: Our web address is www.promoviemaker.net. 

Larry Jordan:  That’s all one word, promoviemaker.net and Terry Hope is the Editor of Promoviemaker magazine and, Terry, again, thank you for all of your time and hard work.

Terry Hope: No problem at all Larry, it’s been a pleasure.

Larry Jordan: But there’s more than IBC making news this week; in fact, the big news today is coming from GoPro and with all the details, we turn to James DeRuvo from DoddleNEWS; who’s currently in San Francisco attention the GoPro product rollout.  Hello James.

James DeRuvo: Yes Larry, I’m on assignment.

Larry Jordan: It is so cool.  What did GoPro announce?

James DeRuvo: Well GoPro announced the GoPro Hero 6 and it’s got a brand new GP1 processor, which is capable of recording at 4K; at 60 frames per second, or 1080p at up to 240 frames per second.  They’ve also incorporated a brand new digital zoom into the GoPro, so, when you’re shooting 4K, get that digital zone in there and all of a sudden you’re like … when it comes to moving in on your shot; which is something that GoPro’s never done.  It also has HDR and RAW modes and optical image stabilization that is “karma grade” which means it’s as good as the access gimbal on the GoPro Karma.  It’s got 12 stops of dynamic range.  This is a beast of a camera Larry.

James DeRuvo:  They also announced an update to the GoPro Karma Drone, which gives it smart modes including Follow Me, Cable Cam and a new feature called Tilt Up Gimbal; which allows the camera to tilt up and see what’s on top of it.  GoPro Fusion has got a couple of new features that are going to come into the 360 degree camera, including this thing called Angel View; which makes it look like the camera is floating in front of you.  You don’t see the selfie stick that holds the camera; it disappears.  I don’t know how they do it, but it’s amazing.

James DeRuvo: There’s also a panning feature, which enables you to pan within the 360 degree space; as well as that amazing over-capture, which allows you to punch out a 2D regular video clip out of anywhere in the 360 degree spectrum and it’s making Fusion look seriously like a hard-core camera that  every cinematographer is going to want to use; especially if they’re a one man band.

James DeRuvo: The firmware update for the Karma is available now at gopro.com; so any Karma owner can get these smart features on their Drones.  The Hero 6 is shipping today, so you can order it now.  Preorders for the Fusion began today and it’s shipping in November.

Larry Jordan: Pricing?

James DeRuvo: Pricing is 499 for the Hero 6, you can buy the Karma, with the Hero 6, for 1199, or the Karma by itself for 799 and the GoPro Fusion 699.

Larry Jordan: James, let’s turn our attention away from GoPro and now that IBC is over, what else is making news this week?

James DeRuvo:  Well, of course, you say that there’s more going on than just the world of IBC; so naturally I have to start off with a story from IBC.  Datavideo has introduced a new video camera called the NightHawk; it’s a micro four thirds cinema camera, which is designed for extremely low light situations like concerts.  It’s got a modular design, a 20 megapixel micro four thirds CMOS sensor, capable of capturing 1080p in extremely low light and it live streams, via 4G, through the iPhone with RMTP.  The real cool thing about it is, is that it’s customizable, because it’s got a modular design.

Larry Jordan: There’s 800 million cameras already out there.  Is Datavideo a little late?

James DeRuvo: To being fair, yes, they come a little late to the party and since this camera only shoots in 1080p, it’s not only light, but it’s a little behind the curve.  But Datavideo says that the NightHawk oversamples in 4K and then downscales to 1080p; so we may see a higher resolution version in the near future.  But for streaming of concerts and over low light situations, it’s an intriguing offer.

Larry Jordan: Alright.  That’s Datavideo with their new camera.  What else we got?

James DeRuvo: Cinemartin has introduced a brand new, ridiculously thin field monitor called the Eclipse.  Get this.  It’s a seven inch OLED screen that’s 20 mm thick and it’s considered the lightest in its class.  It’s super bright and up to 1000 nits, so you won’t need a hood if you’re outside and it’s unbelievably thin.

Larry Jordan: The fact that it’s thin is one thing, but what features does it come with?

James DeRuvo: It comes with a nice zoom and crop feature, so if you’re a DSLR shooter and you want to check focus, you can zoom in, check your focus, tighten it up and then zoom back out.  It’s got plenty of customizable buttons to set it up exactly the way you want it.  But the real feature is, is that it downscales from 4K to true HD; so you get an accurate look at what you’re looking at; rather than most monitors which go the other way and upscale from 720p up to 1080p.  Even though you’re bringing in a 4K signal.  Again, how thin and light this thing is.  20 mm before adding batteries, that’s barely wide enough to accommodate its SDI connectors Larry and that’s pretty impressive for around 800 bucks.

Larry Jordan: Okay, that’s Cinemartin and their new Eclipse monitor.  What else do you have?

James DeRuvo: The Nikon D850, this is Nikon’s brand new flagship DSLR.  Turns out, it’s got some autofocus issues in video mode.  Face detection and focus tracking, that is the hallmark of the D850, tends to seek its quarry; it breathes in and out as a background, gets more complicated and, in fact, the lower end D5300 can face track better.  So this looks to be a step backwards for Nikon and even Jared Polin of Fro Knows Photo even goes so far as to say that the autofocus feature for video is pretty much useless.

Larry Jordan: Well is this going to be a big deal?

James DeRuvo: Maybe, maybe not; depending.  I mean, as filmmakers, we tend to focus mainly anyway; but if you’re shooting weddings, having that autofocus tracking mode could sure come in handy.  I mean, if that’s what you need and if that’s what you’re looking for, then more than likely Canon Dual Pixel AF is probably going to be a better choice Larry.

Larry Jordan: Alright.  That’s Nikon’s D850.  What other stories are you watching this week?

James DeRuvo: Other stories we’re following this week includes a firmware update for the Atomos SUMO 19-inch field monitor recorder.  I reviewed the iOgrapher Go Stabilizer for GoPro; which may now be my favorite cage for doing video blogging.  Next week I’m going to have a lot of talk about the realm of GoPro.

Larry Jordan: For people that want to keep track of everything happening this week and next week in the industry, where do they go on the web?

James DeRuvo: All these stories and more are found at doddlenews.com.

Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo is the Senior Writer for DoddleNEWS and joins us every week with our DoddleNEWS update.  James, thank you so much, we’ll talk to you next week.

James DeRuvo: See you next week.

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 platform 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.

Larry Jordan: DoddleNEWS is a part of the Thalo Arts community, a worldwide community of artists, filmmakers and storytellers.  From photography to filmmaking; performing arts to fine arts and everything in between, Thalo is filled with the 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: Philip Hodgetts is a technologist and the CEO of both Intelligence Assistance and Lumberjack System.  Even better, he is a regular here on the Buzz.  Hello Philip, welcome back.

Philip Hodgetts: Thank you Larry.

Larry Jordan: Philip, before we get into the specifics of your new product, I’m hearing a lot more about the role artificial intelligence or machine learning is playing in our editing systems.  What’s going on?

Philip Hodgetts: Well you’re really smart to draw that distinction, because, when we think of artificial intelligence, most people’s minds tend to go to Skynet or something like that.  Whereas, in fact, it’s much more prose.  The machine learning  is where we can teach generally a neural network which is just the magic that happens in the middle.  To do a particular task, usually something that’s fairly repetitive, they learn by looking at the examples and getting graded for the outputs.  When the machine starts to get the output that the human would be, it’s considered to be trained and then we feed it new raw data.  Eventually these machines do very useful things, like prepare your taxes, or find you the best legal case or diagnose skin cancers.  They are very good at doing these very repetitive tasks.

Larry Jordan: What’s an example of how we use AI today in editing?

Philip Hodgetts: Well, one of the great things that happens with these learning machines is that people program to do specific things.  There are tasks that everybody wants to do.  A lot of people have taken their … and built in a transcription app around it.  Generally you want to find a way of managing  media, sending it off to the … API, the programming interface that does the actual speech detect and translation and then getting it back so that it can be corrected.  Then sending it on to the host location, where you might want to use it.  There are a number of examples like SpeedScribe and … and the … schematic.

Larry Jordan: Well why can’t we do transcription on our local system?  Why does it require seriously large servers on the web?

Philip Hodgetts: Well, strangely enough, the problem is we could.  There is a downloadable version of Apple Dictation but it’s a private API and only Apple can use that.  Generally we look at these machines because they’re doing two things by sending the material to the machine and also providing it with more training material.  But they do require a lot of computational power to do things in semi-real time or faster than real time and they also need to be doing a lot of the transcription in parallel; so we don’t have to do them sequentially.

Larry Jordan: Does the choice of transcription servers make a difference in the quality of the transcript?

Philip Hodgetts: It will certainly make a difference in the result.  It’s … absolutely cleared better than … to that one service.   There’s a particular one out of the UK that does seem to have a reputation for slightly higher accuracy and that is Speechmatics, which are a developer contact.  This is used in a couple of systems, I think, already.  They do have a reputation for doing better with less great quality audio.  What would make it appealing to us is to support way more languages.

 

Larry Jordan: With that as a background and understanding that machine learning is having a bigger and bigger influence on what we’re doing.

Philip Hodgetts: Do you mind if I interrupt for a moment?  I saw yesterday some examples of what machine learning is doing in labs; like, we’re sort of eight to ten years away from a product.  You’ll never trust what you see or hear again.  You’ll be able to have somebody say a completely different word or sentence than they said originally just by talking in a change of word.  It’s like very scary and very creative and wonderful at the same time.

Larry Jordan: Thank you for cheering me up.  I’m going to go hide under a rock for a while.  With this as a background, tell us about the new product that you introduced at IBC.

Philip Hodgetts: Well I’ve certainly respected the work that people like Martin Baker have been doing with SpeechScribe and being very quick off the mark to see the benefit of these new services.  But, at the same time, having been a user of those services and having been the first to get transcripts into Final Cut Pro X back in 2015, through our Lumberyard application, we were not desirest to rush straight into that same space, in exactly the same way, partly because that would simply be unfair competition.

Philip Hodgetts: But what we’d realized is that, even if you get a perfect transcript in Final Cut Pro X or into any other application, they’re not really optimized for working with text-based editing.  So Graham and I looked at the entire workflow and realized that we have to build a different app, we have to build video editing applications, a brand new media video editing application that is text driven; so that you can work with your transcript, manipulate the transcript, but at the same time you can use the video that ….  So we built an interface,  so that you can preview the video base against the transcript and you can start to build storage; so you can actually edit the transcript.

Larry Jordan: Do you consider Builder to be a transcription application or something else?

Philip Hodgetts: It’s something else.  I believe it’s a video editing application that works by application.  Part of the reason why I need to justify that assertion is that, we will accept into their transcription from anywhere.  Say for example you’re in a studio situation where they’re very unhappy about audio going off to these remote APIs, you can have the transcriptions done in-house and feed them into Builder; this is the name of our app, and still get all the story building they’d benefit, just maybe not as tightly bound on the words.

Philip Hodgetts:  I don’t think it’s a transcription application, transcription is a feature of the application; but it does so much more.  We just take that transcript as a starting point, because we not only use the machine learning to get the transcript, we also use machine learning for the right keywords.  So you get an organizational starting point, based on the keywords that are derived from the transcripts and then that’s the starting point for the edit.

Larry Jordan: Just now you mentioned keywords and on the website it makes a big deal of keyword extraction.  Why are keywords important as opposed to the transcript?

Philip Hodgetts: They’re always important.  There’s no metadata that I didn’t like.  The transcript is fine, the transcript holds the words, but what the keywords hold are the concepts and concepts can be put together.  You can search for a concept or you can search for a word that’s in the transcript itself.  Both are valuable ways of finding the content.  But the problem with adding keywords is that it takes time to glance at the transcript and, believe me, it’s a lot faster to glance at a transcript to see what the keyword for that paragraph might be, than it is to listen through the paragraph in audio or watching the video.  You can build keywords yourself, but when you’re machine learning to derive keywords, you’ve got a head start on what the concepts are within the transcript and that’s using both ways to organize.

Larry Jordan: If keywords are the concept, then how important is the accuracy of the transcript?

Philip Hodgetts: Well, it depends who you talk to.  There are some people who say that, if I can’t rely on the transcript to be 100 accurate, I can’t use it for anything.  I hear from other people who have had these transcription apps for longer, that most people are not correcting.  I can get a lot of value out of the transcript without going and correcting some details.  It carries the concept quickly enough to know what’s there and if I want a better idea I will watch it.  Because, how video editors are, we’re building stories and our video; but in the transcript as a shortcut.  You can’t rely on just the script, we’re realizing that it’s part of the way of getting there and I find that 95% accurate is good enough; through keyword extraction, keyword management and inter story building.

Larry Jordan: Well, in this case, the transcript is not the final product, the transcript is just a prompt to help us get to the final product; whereas, if we were posting the transcript for people to read, we’d want it to be accurate.

Philip Hodgetts: Absolutely.  If you want to use it for subtitles, you would want it to be absolutely accurate.  But you only need that on the finished program, you don’t need that on every single minute of every interview that goes into the program.  We do have one other feature that I love and that is, you often need to add narration to a story and you can simply click on the add voiceover button and type in the narration that you want and we will instantly make you an audio file from the system voice and system language that you have your system currently set to.  That’s a real audio file, so when we send the edit over to Final Cut Pro X, the audio play is in the project in Final Cut Pro X as well.

Larry Jordan: When is this new product going to be available?

Philip Hodgetts: Well, we’ve previewed at IBC and we expect that it will be available for at least a public beta for Lumberjack customers around the time of the Final Cut Pro X Creative Summit at the end of October.

Larry Jordan: Is it a standalone app, or does it require something else?

Philip Hodgetts: It is part of the Lumberjack system.  One of the great features you can do in the keyword manager that we built is that you can bring in the keywords that have been carefully entered in Lumberjack; in the real time logger and other parts of the system and you can apply those to keyword ranges that have been automatically generated or created by paragraphs inside Builder.  It integrates with the rest of Lumberjack and it is part of that.  It will be no extra cost, it will just be part of Lumberjack subscription.  There will be a charge for transcriptions done through our app, but as I said, you don’t have to do the transcriptions through our app.

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

Philip Hodgetts: To lumberjacksystem.com and particularly to lumberjacksystem.com/builder.html.

Larry Jordan: Philip Hodgetts is the CEO of lumberjacksystem.com.  Philip, as always, thanks for joining us today.  We’ll talk soon.

Philip Hodgetts: My pleasure.

Larry Jordan: Paul Stewart is the Director of Business Development for North America for multiCAM Systems.  He works closely with customers and educators to reduce the learning curve and technical burden of producing and streaming live presentations and events.  Hello Paul, welcome.

Paul Stewart: Thank you Larry for having me.

Larry Jordan: How would you describe multiCAM Systems?

Paul Stewart: MultiCAM Systems essentially allows radio stations to produce visual radio in a very easy, very seamless and very automated fashion; so we’re not building a product for video experts, we’re building a product for people that want to create a nice looking show without all the video expertise.

Larry Jordan: What is visual radio?

Paul Stewart: Essentially, it’s adding a visual element to a traditional radio station; so, as an example, many sports shows on television are visual radio in that they have the radio style microphones, the radio style console in front of them and it’s set up in a very talk format type of room and yet there’s cameras in the studio to capture what is happening and put that on either television, or web stream, on mobile app, so on and so forth.

Larry Jordan: Paul, we’ve talked about your broadcast products, what other markets do you serve?

Paul Stewart: We serve a variety of different verticals, such as conference centers, conference capture, lecture capture for e-learning and distance learning; as well as surgery simulation, which is for teaching hospitals and medical facilities.

Larry Jordan: Well it also seems, one of the key differentiators is that you’re fully automated; you don’t need to have people running the equipment or picking the shots, it’s automatically switching cameras.  Is that a true statement?

Paul Stewart: Correct, yes, we rely upon external hardware and software that’s being used to conference, as an example.  If you have a current audio conference system, we interact with that, we take cues from the audio conference system and that tells us, you know, which cameras should be placed on the air, which camera angles should we be using; so on and so forth.  We’re following what’s happening and switching to video and making the compositions accordingly.  There’s really no need to have an operator sitting in front of the machine, doing much of anything; but, of course, we do offer a manual alternative to the automated system.

Larry Jordan: Why was the company founded?

Paul Stewart: The company was founded, you know, around the multiCAM product, because there wasn’t something at the time that was easy to use, but also served that purpose; something that would be easy to use and nothing at the time really existed.  That sort of gave way to the creation of the company and the development of this product.

Larry Jordan: Does the company make hardware, software, or provide services?

Paul Stewart: Both.

Larry Jordan: Are you providing a wirecast service, where you’re doing the compression and streaming?  Or are you more like a grass valley, where you’re providing switchers?  What does your stuff do?

Paul Stewart: We do a little bit of everything.  We are the switcher, we are the graphics engine; so we’ll add graphics to the final output and we have an integrated streaming and recording functionality as well.  The bottom line, what I tell people is, this is the only system that you need for producing the high quality videos for visual radio.

Larry Jordan: You would be competing with the New Tech, for instance.

Paul Stewart: That’s correct.

Larry Jordan: What did you announce that’s new at IBC?

Paul Stewart: We announced a couple of new hardware units for our system at IBC this year, one of which is a nine input HD SDI unit, the other is the IP unit; which actually has no SDI capture card and the cameras that we interface with the IP unit are full IP cameras; PTZ cameras.  What that’s going to allow the operators to do is have, you know, multiple cameras on the network; more cameras than what would be traditional available in a SDI system and be able to switch those inputs for various rooms.  If you have multiple studios, there is rooms throughout the building, you could feasibly use one multiCAM system and control multiple cameras in different locations to produce the show that you want to produce.

Larry Jordan: Given the fact that New Tech is out there and wirecast and one beyond, why would somebody consider your system?

Paul Stewart: Our system is an all-in-one package and very, very simple to use.  Other systems are excellent in terms of, you know, television production and producing visual radio in maybe a more manual sense.  We integrate with the audio over IP environment to get mic levels and fader levels.  The automations are meant to get metadata as well as composition information; so basically, you know, what are we doing graphically to match what the broadcast automation software is doing on the audio side and we use all that input in our artificial intelligence engine to create something that looks really good in a completely automated fashion.

Larry Jordan: I would normally hesitate to ask this question, but the multiCAM System’s website is a mess, there’s typos, there’s pages that are just filled with place holders; why should customers take your product seriously when your website is so poorly done?

Paul Stewart: We just recently launched a new website and we were sort of hurrying up to do that prior to the show.  There is definitely some work that needs to be done and that’s something that we’re all working on still, you know, to this day; so we’re still working on it and adding content and that type of thing.  I would say, we are focusing on the development of the product and the website is, you know, falling behind.

Larry Jordan: How is your system priced?

Paul Stewart: Our system is actually priced quite a bit lower than a lot of competing systems.  What is nice about the price of the multiCAM is that, we give you one single price that contains everything that you would need.  Ultimately, it’s very simple to understand, both from a technical aspect, but also the pricing of the unit.

Larry Jordan: If I have a small radio station and I only need one or two cameras, what would be an entry price?

Paul Stewart: One or two cameras, we would be talking probably somewhere in the $15-20,000 range.

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

Paul Stewart: For more information, you can please visit multicam-systems.com.

Larry Jordan: It’s multicam-systems.com and Paul Stewart is the Director of Business Development for North America for multiCAM systems and, Paul, thank you for your time today.

Paul Stewart: Thank you very much Larry, I appreciate it.

Larry Jordan: Stefan Karle founded DoPchoice in 2008 to create high quality lighting tools and accessories.  Based in Munich, his company has since invented snap bags and snap grids and butterfly grids; among many others.  Hello Stefan, welcome.

Stefan Karle: Hello Larry.

Larry Jordan: How would you describe DoPchoice?

Stefan Karle: DoPchoice is a company that is mainly producing light shaping products, but it’s kind of accessories for LED lighting.

Larry Jordan: What got you so interested that you started the company?

Stefan Karle: Basically I was a cinematographer.  I was a little bit sick about the existing products that had been on the market; perhaps it’s my German engineering background.  I tried to make it better and I found a way and I had invested already so much money and I wanted to try it out and see if it’s working as a product.  Finally, nine years ago, we sold our first product and it’s a nice growing company at the moment.

Larry Jordan: Well let’s talk about that growing company.  What new products have you shown at IBC?

Stefan Karle: At the IBC we have showed our two new products; one brand new product group that is called the ‘Snap Boxes.’  These are mainly made for light tile products or all these kind of flexible tiles that are now getting more and more popular in our market.  With tiles, when you look into them, they’re really a bright and you need to diffuse them.  VF made some boxes that collapse simply together, where you can set it up in a very simple and quick way; as all of our other products.  When you have a nice diffused soft light that you can hang, so you can fly it across, in a little studio; or you can just put it over frames or over flags and you get full control of your light by changing all of the sides of these soft boxes.

Larry Jordan: For people that may not know lighting, why are these lighting grids so necessary?

Stefan Karle: Soft boxes are so important because you don’t want to have little … lights, you want to have a diffused one source light that is wrapping nicely around a face or your actor or your object that you’re filming.  With soft light, needs to be also directed in a way; therefore, we have also the grids that control these kind of soft lights.

Larry Jordan: What are your most popular products?

Stefan Karle: The most popular product is getting more and more the snap bags; so these are our soft boxes mainly for LED lighting.  We started these really early, six-seven years ago, with our first collaborations with LED manufacturers, to introduce these soft boxes that do not need any poles or … and to be really quick and easy to set up on your LED features and the market response is amazing on that.

Stefan Karle: We have grown the family over the years and this was also the second new product that we have made in collaboration with ARRI; so that you can mount two ARRI S60 Skypanels that are really popular in the market, together as a huge light source, with a special bracket.  Then you can put our Octa 5 or Octa 7 in front of it; so as you have a huge light source that has really a huge punch; that is getting more into this range of HMI lights that was not possible before.  By being controlled easily now, in the color temperature, in the whole color range and easily going on any household power plug.

Larry Jordan: Do you have any tutorials on your website that explain how to use your gear?

Stefan Karle: In every product section, you have always the product videos that are linked directly on our product site.  If you go on products, you have the snap bags and the snap grids and so on and on each section you have the tutorial videos for these products.  Also, in each and every product we have some more descriptions and pictures.

Larry Jordan: I’ve had the pleasure of visiting your website and enjoying both the tutorials on how to use your products, but also the range of products that you have.  For people that want to learn more about what kind of light shaping tools DoPchoice makes, where can they go on the web?

Stefan Karle: It’s on our website, it’s dopchoice.com.

Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, dopchoice.com and Stefan Karle is the Founder and CEO of DoPchoice and, Stefan, thanks for joining us today.

Stefan Karle: Thank you very much Larry.

Larry Jordan: I want to introduce you to a new website; thalo.com.  Thalo is an artist community and networking site for creative people to connect, be inspired and showcase their creativity.  Thalo.com features content from around the world, with a global perspective on all things creative.  Thalo is the place for creative folks to learn, collaborate, market and sell their works.

Larry Jordan: Thalo is a part of Thalo Arts; a worldwide community of artists, filmmakers and storytellers.  From photography, to filmmaking, performing arts to fine arts and everything in between.  Thalo is filled with the resources you need to succeed.  Visit thalo.com and discover how their community can help you connect, learn and succeed.  That’s thalo.com.

Larry Jordan: Jess Hartmann has over 36 years of experience in creating technology solutions and, currently, he’s the CEO of ProMAX Systems.  Hello Jess, welcome back.

Jess Hartmann: Thank you Larry, how are you?

Larry Jordan: I’m talking to you, I’m doing great actually.  Let’s start with a couple of really basic questions.  How would you describe ProMAX?

Jess Hartmann: You’ve known ProMAX for a lot of years, you know, we’re a media technology solutions company that has been in this space, I want to say, forever and I took over in 2008 with the company.  But we are here to help people be more creative and get back to being creative using technology.

Larry Jordan: Now, does that mean software, hardware, or both?

Jess Hartmann: It means both; it means we create solutions to make it easier for people to get their jobs done and not have to worry about the technology.

Larry Jordan: One of the things that you’re known for is your shared storage systems; you have a variety of products, in fact, we’re going to be talking about some of your new announcements at IBC in just a minute.  But I want to take a second.  Why is shared storage such an attractive market; because there’s got to be eight billion firms that are chasing that market?

Jess Hartmann: Yes, there really are and it’s interesting, because there’s more coming into that market all the time.  I think it’s been attractive for so many vendors because of the demand growth in this space.  You know, as you know, over the last four or five years we’ve just really started to see organizations moving to a shared storage type of environment.  But prior to that, so many people were working independently on their machines and just carrying drives back and forth.

Larry Jordan: Why can’t I just take a Mac Mini and throw a couple of hard disks at it?  I mean, suddenly I’ve got servers, I’ve got NASs and then, just to confuse us, we spell it backwards and we’ve got SANS.  What’s a SAN, what’s a NAS and what’s a server?

Jess Hartmann: SANs started as a certain type of technology, which is called a block mode device and it was designed originally, or early on, so that you could get a fast enough speed that you needed for editing back to your Mac Pro and be able to actually stream video.  The fun part about the difference between a NAS and a SAN is that, a SAN requires, I think you remember in the old Apple ex SAN environments, it requires something called a metadata network and a direct connection to the storage.

Jess Hartmann: SAN environments, theoretically, can be faster than NAS’, but because technology has gotten so quick with the ten gigabit interfaces, generally there’s no practical difference between them anymore.  Quantum still sells a SAN environment With their StorNext; but the rest of the world and I mean the rest, including even Avid, has moved to more of a NAS architecture.

Larry Jordan: So SANS came first, but NASs are easier to use?

Jess Hartmann: Yes and they’re certainly much more predominant now than they were and they can absolutely produce the same type of bandwidth.  We get over four gigabytes a second on our SSD system.

Larry Jordan: If I’m editing off-shared storage, do I have to have ten gig Ethernet?  Do I need to re-cable my plant?

Jess Hartmann: Generally no.  Let’s say you’re still a 1080 user and you are the typical ProRes 422.  You know, that is only going to require 18-20 megabytes a second.  On a one gigabit connection, your standard Ethernet connect, you can get five streams of that on our server.  So there’s really no need, if you’re still in 1080, to be going to ten gig.

Jess Hartmann: Why can’t we just take a Mac Mini and hook a bunch of hard drives to it?  Well, the truth is, you can, but it doesn’t always work well and it doesn’t always work consistently and you end up being an IT administrator when you build your own systems like this.  You can make them work and many people have; but they find after a while that the effort is probably just not worth it.

Larry Jordan: Then, if we’re a single person, we don’t really need network attached storage?  The network attached storage becomes valuable as we’re part of a group of people working.  Is that a true statement?

Jess Hartmann: That’s absolutely a true statement.

Larry Jordan: Let’s say I’ve got a small work group, say four to eight people, what criteria should we use when choosing a shared storage system; or, what questions should we ask?

Jess Hartmann: I think the biggest thing today to consider is, looking beyond a shared storage system.  I will tell you that, there are literally tens, if not a good 100 valuable good quality shared storage systems that you can get on the market.  Because shared storage has really become a commodity in our industry, like you can buy it very inexpensively and you can buy it from a number of great places, when you think of solving this problem, you should look beyond just getting shared storage.  You look at your workflow and ask yourself, how am I going to make that workflow more efficient; not just how do I get storage from my local device onto a network device.

Larry Jordan: Do we need to worry about how we connect our computers to the network?

Jess Hartmann: We absolutely do and this will get into a conversation about the Codecs and the Wrappers, etc, the types of files that we’re using and streaming from; which obviously comes from the camera etc.  We also need to know what size, bit rates per second  that are coming off of those Codecs and that will determine what type of connection we need to our shared storage device; whether that is a one gigabit connection, or whether it’s a ten gigabit connection, or if we need to go ten gigabit fiber.  All of those are a consideration for it.

Larry Jordan: If I were to do a takeaway from what you’ve just told me, there’s lots of choice and shared storage and while there are probably very few bad choices, there are better choices by configuring the shared storage to match our workflow.

Jess Hartmann: You know, that’s exactly correct.  As we all know, there’s so many more components to workflow design than just being able to access our videos and our projects; there is the ingest component, there is the transcoding or pre-transcoding component, there is asset management and being able to find and locate things, there is the post-transcoding and the rendering component and finally there’s the archiving.

Jess Hartmann:  When you look at that entire workflow process or life cycle, people buy pieces of technology for each one of those components generally.  They hook it up to a shared storage system and now they’ve got quite a bit of complexity that they’ve just introduced in their environment and then they end up having to have somebody allocate their time as an IT person; making sure all of that works together and continues to work together and solve all the problems associated with it.

Larry Jordan: Well thinking of solving problems, this brings us to IBC and in this show we are looking at some of the new stuff announced last week at IBC.  What did ProMAX announced?

Jess Hartmann: We announced a couple of different things.  The first is something called Platform Core.  To bring us back to that prior conversation, as you know, we’ve built something and have been selling and supporting a product called Platform Workflow servers and those devices are designed to take you all the way from the ingest process, all the way through the archive process, with one appliance.  It’s obviously shared storage, but it does other things, including asset management; rendering;  transcoding and archiving etc.

Jess Hartmann: What we found is, we’re getting great growth on that product worldwide, but there are conditions and there are situations where people are not really ready to step up to a full workflow server.  It does cost a little bit more when you put all of that stuff into one box.  At IBC this year, we’ve announced an entry level product, which is just shared storage and data management and these types of things and it’s called Platform Core.  This product is designed to really have very fast shared storage, at a much better price than what you would get if you wanted to get an entire workflow server.

Larry Jordan: What does it specifically contain?

Jess Hartmann: The Platform Core is really born out of our workflow servers, so it contains the same simple and easy interface, to be able to connect to shared storage, to create volumes, to be able to load your media onto the server, to be able to mount those volumes and stream that video back to your editing software; whether that’s Adobe Premier Pro or, you know, the Creative Cloud Suite or Avid or Final Cut Pro etc.  As well as a bunch of data management capabilities that are built in; so that you can make sure that you have mirroring and snapshots and all of the protection that you need in a standard shared storage device.

Larry Jordan: When you say mount volumes, am I able to have multiple users in the same volume at the same time?

Jess Hartmann: Yes, Platform Core has all of the capabilities to include the ability to have many different users connected, with different permission structures; mount certain volumes for certain users and others don’t have access to that.  So we can really organize our data by project and set it up so we know, you know, which editors have access to what information.

Larry Jordan: When does this new toy ship?

Jess Hartmann: It’s shipping right now and we have 64 terabyte beginning server for just under 10,000; so 9,999.  That’s all the goodness of a platform workflow server, minus all those asset management transcoding features and we think that’s going to be very valuable in the market.

Larry Jordan: Thinking of that, who is your target market?  Who do you expect to buy the system?

Jess Hartmann: As you know, we specialized for media creators since this company was born; so, we look at organizations anywhere from four users on up; we have users in companies that have 200 plus users on our system.  But our sweet spot is probably between four and 40 users that are hitting the servers at any one time.

Larry Jordan: Well that’s the Platform Core, which is like an entry level shared storage; you also announced Hybrid Cloud, what’s that?

Jess Hartmann: Hybrid Cloud for us is our entry into what I would call our next phase of platform, which is a hybrid cloud environment and what Hybrid Cloud Backup does, which is what we just announced, it is a module that goes on our platform workflow servers and lets you use the same simple interface that you have into platform; but be able to back up your data to any one of the cloud based services; including Amazon S3 and Glacier and Azure and Google and about 25 different services.

Jess Hartmann:  You have the ability to just go by volume or go by project, right click on the space and say back that up or schedule it to be backed up on a particular schedule.  As long as you have the bandwidth and the space up on your cloud services account, it’s going to automatically copy it all up there, maintain it for you and also give you the ability through our searching browser to find it.  Whether you’re connected to the internet or not, you can find it because it’s all maintained in the local database.

Larry Jordan: Well this is essentially an extension of what you do now, because your platform system allows you to do archiving, but the archiving is local; now you’re archiving to the cloud.  But it’s basically just a checkbox but going in a different location.

Jess Hartmann: You couldn’t have said it better.  Today we have the ability to see what’s on the tape and now you’ll have the ability to see what’s on the cloud.

Larry Jordan: When does it ship?

Jess Hartmann: In Q4; so we’re looking probably around the November timeframe.

Larry Jordan: For people that want more information about both Platform Core and Hybrid Cloud, where can they go on the web?

Jess Hartmann: Just to simple promax.com.

Larry Jordan: Jess Hartmann is the CEO of ProMAX System and, Jess, thanks for joining us today.

Jess Hartmann: Appreciate it Larry.  Take care.

Larry Jordan: You know, I was just thinking, earlier in the day, I was talking with James DeRuvo, via Skype, to get the latest news about GoPro’s event this morning.  Now, in and of itself, that’s typical of most phone calls, except ours was being recorded for inclusion in tonight’s show.  James was walking through a conference center during the call and we could hear the voices of other people near him as he walked and we talked.  What struck me was how ordinary this has become.

Larry Jordan: I watch the news reports from Mexico after an earthquake, or Puerto Rico, in the middle of a hurricane and rather than be amazed that they’re able to get a signal out of that location at all, I’m complaining that the camera is shaky, or the focus is soft.

Larry Jordan:  In one way or another, I’ve been in news all my life and, while I hate to say that I can remember when, not only can I remember it, I was busy doing it at the time.  I’ve set up location feeds using satellites, microwaves and telephone landlines and probably others that I’ve forgotten.  In all the hurtling forward progress of technology, it is often hard to reflect on just how far we’ve come.

Larry Jordan: Events like IBC give us a glimpse of the future.  Phone calls like those with James remind us just how much technology has changed from the past.  Just something I’m thinking about and, as always, I’m interested in your thoughts.

Larry Jordan: I want to thank this week’s guests, Terry Hope from Promoviemaker magazine, James DeRuvo with DoddleNEWS, Philip Hodgetts with Lumberjack System, Paul Stewart with multiCAM Systems, Stefan Karle of DoPchoice and Jess Hartmann of ProMax.

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 and remember to sign up for our free weekly show newsletter that comes out every Friday afternoon.  Talk with us on Twitter @DPBuZZ and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com.  Our theme music is composed by Nathan Dugi-Turner, with additional music provided by smartsound.com.  Text transcripts are provided by Take1 Transcription; visit take1.tv to learn how they can help you.  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’s copyright 2017, by Thalo LLC.

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