Jonathan Handel, Entertainment/Technology Attorney & Labor Reporter, TroyGould and The Hollywood Reporter
Dan Judy, Senior Colorist, DigitalFilm Tree
Todd Krautkremer, CMO, Cradlepoint
Jack Gill, Action Designer/Action Director, Stunts Unlimited
James DeRuvo, Editor-in-Chief, doddleNEWS
Larry Jordan: Tonight on the Buzz, we cover a wide range of subjects; from breaking news, to NAB. We start with Jonathan Handel, Entertainment Labor Reporter for the Hollywood Reporter. Jonathan has an update on the Writer’s Guild’s efforts to remake their entire industry and crunch time is less than ten days away.
Larry Jordan: Dan Judy is Senior Colorist for Digital Film Tree. He’s giving a presentation at NAB on his collaboration and color workflow for ‘The 100’ using DaVinci Resolve. Tonight, we learn why he thinks Resolve is such a powerful tool.
Larry Jordan: Todd Krautkremer is the Chief Marketing Officer for Cradlepoint. 5G is coming and, when it does, it has the potential to remake wireless communication as we know it. Tonight, Todd describes what they do and what’s coming.
Larry Jordan: Jack Gill is an Action Designer and Action Director and former President of Stunts Unlimited. He talks with us about the difference between a professional stunt person and a crazed idiot.
Larry Jordan: All this, plus James DeRuvo with our weekly doddleNEWS update. The Buzz starts now.
Male Voiceover: 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: Hello, my name is Larry Jordan. Most of the time, we try to plan our shows so that they have a theme; where the guests explain different aspects of a complex subject. But sometimes there’s just so much cool stuff happening, that we can’t get it all focused in one idea. That’s tonight.
Larry Jordan: While all our guests are interesting, the one issue that is deeply worrying Hollywood is the direct conflict between the Writer’s Guild and talent agents. This has the potential to disrupt every professionally scripted show in the US and beyond. Jonathan Handel has been following this closely for the Hollywood Reporter and brings us an update on the latest tonight. He follows immediately after the doddleNEWS update.
Larry Jordan: By the way, if you enjoy The Buzz, please give us a positive rating and review on the iTunes store. We appreciate your support, to help us grow our audience. Now it’s time for our weekly doddleNEWS update with James DeRuvo. Hello James.
James DeRuvo: Hello Larry. One week from NAB and we’re starting to get some big news.
Larry Jordan: Oh my goodness, there is all kinds of stuff happening. My press release meter is just bouncing on overload.
James DeRuvo: My mailbox is blowing up; it was like, what do I talk about? Let’s talk about the big news. Wait, for it, ARRI announced another camera.
Larry Jordan: No.
James DeRuvo: Large format Alexa Mini. Large format Alexa LF sensor, packed into a tiny Alexa mini body, with the highest dynamic range of any production camera on the market; though ARRI stopped short of telling us how many stops it will be. 4.5K HDR image sensor with improved lossless ARRI RAW that has 40% smaller file sizes and three internal FSND motorized filters, an HD viewfinder and one terabyte codecs with hard drives.
Larry Jordan: James, another Alexa?
James DeRuvo: I know. You know, creating another Alexa shows why ARRI continues to dominate the industry; especially during award seasons. For, like, the last five years, almost every movie that was nominated for an Academy Award was shot on an Alexa. There’s now practically a different ARRI for every single use in shooting and the smaller form factor of this large format camera is bound to get great use; especially for commercials, where it has up to 120 frames per second, shooting speed and for independent projects. It’s pretty crazy.
Larry Jordan: Okay, ARRI’s the lead story, what’s our second story?
James DeRuvo: Well Small HD is updating its monitors with Teradek; to give users a lens data overlay on the monitor itself. OS 3.4.0 will open up the monitor interface, to take in lens data that will be wirelessly transmitted from the Teradek RT wireless follow focus controller. This will enable an Assistant Cameraman to pull focus with mathematical precision.
James DeRuvo: It’s supported by current Small HD monitors; including the Focus Line 700 series, 500 series, any monitor that you can use on the Bolt wireless system. But Legacy monitors and the DP line and older are not included.
Larry Jordan: What’s your take on this?
James DeRuvo: Well, this is a great feature for Small HD users; because, as it stated, you’ll be able to literally pull focus like you’re looking at the lens as you do it; even if you’re, you know, 50 feet away. But there is a catch and that catch is, first you need to update both your Small HD monitor and the Teradek RT wireless follow focus controller with the firmware update; but the real kicker is, to enable this feature, you need to pay $1,000 license fee. When you consider the cost of the Teradek RT controller is only $14.99, that’s a pretty steep upgrade.
Larry Jordan: Wait a minute, $1,000 upgrade fee? Why so much?
James DeRuvo: Look at it this way Larry, you know, this is the reason why we can write stuff off on our taxes. I know, it’s a lot of money.
Larry Jordan: James, what’s your third story this week?
James DeRuvo: Frame IO has put out a new update that will make collaboration easier with ten new features. Amongst these new features include better control over versioning; private comments that only your team can see; you can use @mentions to tag specific team members and there’s an improved real player. Users can also archive older projects and still comment on them.
Larry Jordan: What’s your thinking on Frame IO?
James DeRuvo: Frame IO is setting the standard for not only online security, but in making that online collaboration as efficient as possible. As it continues to evolve and as we continue to move into the Cloud with all of our projects, their trailblazing is really establishing the standard for collaborating in the Cloud and it’s exciting to see.
Larry Jordan: Okay, well we’ve had ARRI and we’ve had Small HD and we’ve had Frame IO, what other stories are you and your team following this week?
James DeRuvo: Other stories we’re following including the Telly Awards extends their submissions to April 5th; Pond 5 is opening up even more RED footage; with 2K through 8K video footage that you can select. I build my own camera cage out of a fruit slicer and what are the nine things that you absolutely need in your film kit, if you’re a beginning filmmaker.
Larry Jordan: Interesting. Where can we go on the web to learn more about these and the other stories you’re covering?
James DeRuvo: All these stories and more can be found at doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo is the Editor-in-Chief of doddleNEWS and joins us every week. I’ll see you next Thursday.
James DeRuvo: See you next Thursday.
Larry Jordan: Jonathan Handel is the Contributing Editor on Entertainment Labor issues for the Hollywood Reporter and covering the ongoing dispute between the Writer’s Guild and talent agencies. Hello Jonathan, welcome back.
Jonathan Handel: Larry, it’s a pleasure to be back.
Larry Jordan: Jonathan, we last spoke three weeks ago, discussing the Writer’s Guild attempts to rein in what they see as runaway packaging and affiliate production fees. Since then, a lot has occurred. Bring us up-to-date.
Jonathan Handel: Every day feels like I’ve been hit by a steamroller, honestly. There is so much going on, that it’s a little bit like Groundhog Day, crossed with what some people, at least, are calling Brexit. There’s a strong feeling among people outside of the writer community that the writers are dramatically shooting themselves in the foot.
Jonathan Handel: The writers are most likely going to be ordered by the Writer’s Guild on April 7th to fire their agents on mass; assuming that, first of all a vote that is going on now, among the Writer’s Guild membership, authorizes that and that vote is going to authorize that as we know the results and these are pre-ordained; and assuming that there isn’t a negotiated solution before that, between the two sides.
Jonathan Handel: There is highly unlikely to be a negotiated solution, because what the Writer’s Guild wants is to end two practices; affiliate production and packaging fees. Those are two practices that are integral to the large agencies in particular. The agencies have no intention on compromising on that. Typically, when a writer comes to this town, besides questions about, you know, how do I format a screenplay and how do I write a good one, the most desperate question writers typically ask is, how do I find an agent?
Jonathan Handel: The question now that’s on writers’ minds is, how do I fire my agent and it looks like that’s what they’re going to be doing.
Larry Jordan: Jonathan, let’s back up a step and define two terms. What are packaging fees and affiliate production?
Jonathan Handel: Packaging fees are fees that the studio pays to the talent agency, instead of the talent agency taking a ten percent commission on its clients. People think of talent agencies as taking a commission; but, in fact, in many, many instances what they do is, they’re paid by the studios. The agencies say that that saves money for the clients; the Writer’s Guild says it’s a conflict of interest; it’s a practice that’s existed for many decades.
Jonathan Handel: Affiliate production is much newer. These are separate companies that are corporate brothers and sisters of the talent agencies; that are owned by the same parent companies, that actually act as mini studios or production companies. Instead of taking a project out to a studio, the agency can actually take the project out to a company that it is related to.
Jonathan Handel: The agency say this brings more buyers into the market and they’ll be transparent with the clients about what’s going on and the deals are actually better for the clients; the Writer’s Guild says, that’s a conflict of interest. Your agent is also now acting as your employer.
Larry Jordan: I’m confused. Why are the talent agencies so reluctant to agree to this? If all their writers leave April 7th, they’ve got nobody to package or affiliate produce.
Jonathan Handel: Both of these practices bring in a lot of money for the agencies; packaging fees. The money is declining perhaps as business models change with the digital streamers; but affiliate production, in other words, becoming a media company yourself, William Morris, WME no longer being a talent agency but, in fact, mutating and evolving into a content company, they see that as the future and that was the basis, really, for a lot of private equity investment that the top three talent agencies took in, in the last ten years or so.
Jonathan Handel: They’re very wetted to these business models, they feel that they will survive; that writers will not fire them, perhaps, in their producing, or directing capacity; that they’ll have other ways of interacting with writers as production companies and that they’ve got existing deals that already are subject to package fees and those don’t get terminated if the writer leaves and they’ll be able to do it.
Larry Jordan: You mentioned, this week you feel like you’ve been hit by a steamroller. What’s the latest news?
Jonathan Handel: It’s a little hard to sort through. As I alluded to, currently the writers are voting on whether to impose a code of conduct that would ban packaging fees and affiliate production. That vote runs through Sunday; it’s a five day vote. They’re going to get their vote probably in very high percentages; that’s usually the case and the writers do seem, by and large, very united.
Jonathan Handel: Then you’ve got a week where there may be some more negotiation; but most observers don’t expect a deal and then, April 7th, the writers would be ordered to fire any agent that has not signed on to the code of conduct.
Jonathan Handel: There are some agencies that have, but only smaller ones, by and large, to our knowledge and not necessarily agencies that have to stand up to a big digital streamer, you know, or Disney-Fox, a large media conglomerate. That’s one of the questions, have these agencies gotten too big for their breaches; or is that exactly what you need in a world of media companies that have gotten so big?
Larry Jordan: What’s been happening this week? I’ve been reading a lot of articles in the LA Times about writers supporting, or not supporting the position. Are you sensing any kind of a groundswell outside of the writers and talent agencies themselves?
Jonathan Handel: Certainly the Entertainment Attorneys, for example, are very concerned about what’s going on; they feel that they’re going to lose some of the ability to negotiate on behalf of writers; they’re going to lose some leverage if the agents are disempowered. To the extent, there’s a groundswell within the writers, it does seem to be that the writers are united.
Jonathan Handel: Managers are very interested in what’s going on; because managers have been performing agent like functions, to some extent, in violation of state law and they’ve been doing producing for a number of years. This is probably going to down to the benefit of the management community.
Larry Jordan: What do you see as the impact of the industry come April 7th, when contracts expire and this new system takes over?
Jonathan Handel: I think it’s going to be chaotic. I think there’s going to be litigation; the writers are going to sue the agencies, most likely and the agencies are going to sue the Writer’s Guild. Lawsuits in both directions. I asked the head of a significant production company/almost a mini studio really just this morning, how are you going to make movies and television programs without writers having, you know, clear channels to be evaluated and submit material and all that? He just looked at me in bewilderment and said, “I have no idea.” There’s an enormous amount of uncertainty as to what’s going to happen.
Jonathan Handel: April is staffing season; the season when broadcast television programs hire writers for their writers rooms and get them on board, so they can start writing for the Fall season. That normally is a process where agents interact very closely with writers and with showrunners; the writers who run the shows.
Jonathan Handel: The Writer’s Guild is attempting to put together a patchwork of an online system that people would be able to submit, to substitute for that and says, look, if you have a manager, if you have a lawyer, a network with other writers, use our online system and, somehow, we’ll muddle through it. No-one really knows how this is going to work out.
Larry Jordan: Jonathan, for people who want to follow this issue and cue track your writing, where can they go on the web?
Jonathan Handel: thrlabor.com redirects to our labor page and you can learn more about me at jhandel.com.
Larry Jordan: Jonathan Handel is the Contributing Editor for entertainment labor for the Hollywood Reporter. That website is thrlabor.com. Jonathan, thanks for joining us today; I hope you get a chance to get some sleep in the near future.
Jonathan Handel: Thanks Larry.
Male Voiceover: Join the Digital Production Buzz at the 2019 NAB Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Starting Monday April 8th, Larry Jordan and The Buzz team are taking their microphones on the road, to cover the latest news and trends from the largest media show in the world. Every hour of every day, The Buzz is live on the tradeshow floor; creating 27 new shows in four days; more than 100 interviews with key industry leaders.
Male Voiceover: The Buzz has webcast directly from NAB for 11 years, with legendary coverage that’s heard in more than 195 countries around the world. If you’re attending the show, visit us at booth SL10527 and say hello; or join us live every day of the show at nabshowbuzz.com. Join us as The Buzz covers NAB 2019, live at nabshowbuzz.com.
Larry Jordan: As part of our NAB Insight series, I want to introduce Dan Judy. He’s a Senior Colorist at Digital Film Tree. His work spans a wide range of fantasy projects from his early career on shows like ‘Swamp Thing’ and ‘Smallville’, to his more recent work on ‘The Last Man on Earth’ and ‘The 100’; which is on the CW. Hello Dan, welcome.
Dan Judy: How are you?
Larry Jordan: I’m doing great. How would you describe what you do?
Dan Judy: As a Colorist, I’m tasked with the aspect of trying to put on the screen what people have in their mind; so they have an idea of what it should look like and their designs in mind and a lot of times, when it comes time to come into my room and sit down with me, they want me to either elaborate on a look they’ve already had in mind, or they want to develop something new. I’m there to take whatever it is that their mind has envisioned and try and put it up, so that they can see it and so that everybody else can see it.
Larry Jordan: What was it that first got you interested in playing with color?
Dan Judy: Probably crayons a long time ago. I started off in Florida at a company called Century Three; many, many years ago. It had peaked my interest. I was in the Master’s Program at Central Florida and they had this internship and out of 17 interns I was offered a job, just as a PA, and they let me meld into the company. I really wanted to be in visual effects early on; but then when I saw color, because with color you get to play back a whole slew of images, as opposed to, like, one or two a day. It’s a little more rewarding and it was a pretty big challenge to try and see if I could take something on film and make it look good.
Larry Jordan: You’ve obviously succeeded, because NAB has invited you to give a talk this year at the NAB Show. What are you going to be talking about?
Dan Judy: Primarily it’s going to be about the show ‘The 100.’ Our integration of ‘The 100’ using Resolve; playing with all the aspects of post, but doing it in a remote environment, a collaborate environment and regular post-production.
Larry Jordan: What is it that makes DaVinci Resolve so compelling?
Dan Judy: I just think it’s probably the most diverse tool out there; the ability to sit here in Universal City and be able to do a collaborative, creative process to people across the globe, or across town; being able to do it remotely. The ability to edit the show, color the show, do visual effects on the show and deliver the show, all while staying in the same project is a fantastic way to be able to work.
Larry Jordan: You’ve used the word collaborative and remote a couple of times, what do those terms mean to you? What are the people outside of your room doing?
Dan Judy: There’s a couple of ways to look at collaboration. Internally, we collaborate by the ability to be doing visual effects, or show drop ins, or titles and while that editor is sitting down with the project open, we can be in collaboration and I can be color correcting those shots as they’re getting dropped in, in a completely different bay. The client gets to see the results almost instantaneously. What seems like mere seconds later, they’re looking at a color corrected final look on a shot that just got dropped in.
Larry Jordan: What you’re saying is, the editor could be editing a scene and you could be color correcting, or color grading the same scene at the same time?
Dan Judy: Absolutely. We do that all the time. We’ve done it where we’ve had as many as two colorists, an editor and a visual effects artist on the same project, at the exact same time.
Larry Jordan: Where’s the media stored, that allows you to be able to manipulate this?
Dan Judy: It’s on a central SAN; so we have a central storage that has all the media stored on it and then we utilize Resolve’s shared database. The database allows me to log into the project and as long as the project is turned on in collaboration, or collaborative mode, the editor can log in. We don’t have to log in at the same time; I could start an hour later, I could start five minutes later and anybody else can join in, that needs to join in. If somebody were doing audio, there’s an audio tool in Resolve; so, if we did audio, you could do that as well.
Larry Jordan: How does the client view your work?
Dan Judy: Favorably I hope. You know, they can come into color, but we have a calibrated monitor that’s calibrated to our bays; so that when you’re in an edit suite, or another suite in the building, you’re looking at the same image. You know, they can look at it in there, but if they want to truly see it in a true color correction environment, they can walk down the hall and see it.
Dan Judy: A lot of times, they trust me to know that, if it looks as good as it looks in the edit suite, while they’re looking at it on a calibrated monitor, they’re fairly confident that, if they’re pressed for time, they’ll trust me to make sure that, in my environment, it’s also looking good.
Dan Judy: It’s within an eyelash between the bays and then, if they really are concerned and, you know, want to come in and just be certain that they’re seeing it right, they’re welcome to walk in.
Larry Jordan: What’s your goal in giving the talk? What do you hope to accomplish?
Dan Judy: Moving forward in the industry, there’s so much new technology happening daily almost and in the other aspect you brought up a little bit ago, remote. The other aspect of working collaboratively, in the creative sense, with my producers is, I have a producer sitting down in Santa Monica, or down in Newport Beach and they have a calibrated system in their areas as well, I can Team Viewer in; we can sit down and we can go over shots and the ability to be able to do that while I sit here in University City.
Dan Judy: I’ve done remotes to Portugal, to Vancouver, New York, Atlanta, places like that; so, I think the development of a guy like me and other people out there, that have hopefully garnered years of experience and people want to work with you, it’s the ability to be able to work with me no matter where you’re at in the world.
Dan Judy: What Resolve ushers in is that transition of being in a single location and always having to go to that location, or wait to get a file or whatever, as opposed to being able to see it in a very expedient and efficient manner.
Larry Jordan: It sounds like a fantastic talk. For people that want to be able to learn more about what you’re doing, have you work on their next project, or sign up for your talk, where can they go on the web?
Dan Judy: You can go to our website, which is www.digitalfilmtree.com. We also have Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts; which are all Digital Film Tree. Just type in Digital Film Tree and it’ll take you to those spots. That’s pretty much it.
Larry Jordan: That website is all one word, digitalfilmtree.com and Dan Judy is the Senior Color at Digital Film Tree. Dan, thanks for sharing your time today.
Dan Judy: Much appreciated Larry, thank you.
Larry Jordan: Todd Krautkremer is the Chief Marketing Officer at Cradlepoint. This is a company that provides Cloud delivered 4G LTE network solutions for business service providers and government organizations. Hello Todd, welcome.
Todd Krautkremer: Hello Larry, great to talk to you today.
Larry Jordan: I’m really glad to spend time with you, because Cradlepoint’s a company I don’t know anything about and I’m looking forward to our conversation and, in fact, I read your introduction, but I don’t understand it. What does Cradlepoint do?
Todd Krautkremer: Well, I can really put it in a way that everybody can relate to; because, chances are, those listeners that have found their way to work this morning have come in contact with Cradlepoint in some way, shape, or form.
Todd Krautkremer: Let me give you some examples. If you stopped at Starbucks on your way to work this morning, what keeps the Starbucks cash register constantly flowing is the fact they have Cradlepoint there, sitting ready the moment that wired connection to the store fails, to connect the store over the cellular network. Just like you and use our cell phones, it’s also great for connecting businesses and business connections.
Todd Krautkremer: McDonald’s, we do the same thing. If you rent CDs from a Redbox, as you drive up to the lake, or on vacation, so you can entertain your kids on the long drive, those are all connected over the cellular network via Cradlepoint.
Larry Jordan: We’re used to thinking of backup power, what you have is backup internet?
Todd Krautkremer: Well, that’s one of our major use cases; but what’s starting to happen is that, it’s not just for backup anymore. Let me give you another great example. You know, with the huge disasters that we’ve all witnessed in Katrina and, of course, what’s happened in Houston and these other super storms, a lot of our work and activity is literally underwater and people are finding that they can connect their businesses over the cellular network with greater reliability and, in many instances, greater speed, than over wired connections.
Todd Krautkremer: We’re at that point where there is a little bit of a switch going on as the world moves to more of a wireless future. So, yes, backup today is a great way of thinking about it, but in the future, it’s starting to become the primary way we connect. Not unlike our cell phones.
Larry Jordan: I was on the Cradlepoint website in preparation for talking to you and you make a big distinction about Edge computing. What is Edge computing?
Todd Krautkremer: It’s really the next step in Cloud computing. I suspect most people, by now, understand what Cloud computing is. What Edge computing is all about is the recognition that we need intelligence and computing power in more places other than the center of the internet. We need it closer to the Edge if we want our applications and our data to be faster. If we want to reduce the amount of bandwidth that we need to connect to the Cloud, we need to move some of that computing power to the Edge. This is becoming almost a staple within the IOT world, as we start to get applications like facial recognition.
Todd Krautkremer: Perhaps, you know, we’ve already started to run into those applications, I know I’ve certainly seen them every time I go through the clear line at the airport, they use my retinal scan as a way of authenticating me. But as you do more of that intensive type of processing, it’s pretty clear we can’t drag all those bits back and forth to the Cloud very responsibly and very cost-effectively; so we need to move more of that intelligence to the Edge. That’s effectively what Edge computing is.
Larry Jordan: You’ve talked about several of your typical customers, such as McDonald’s and Starbucks; but how are you relevant in media?
Todd Krautkremer: The game of media has changed quite dramatically over the last 15-20 years. Today, any sports game you watch, we all enjoy the benefits of the technology that exists on the field. To see markers on the field where the first down marker is; to get all the different views from the cameras hovering above; to hear all of the different perspectives being provided; to get all the stats seemingly in the right mouse at the right time. Well, all of that rich experience comes from connectivity; from being connected to data sources, from being connected back to the broadcast studios.
Todd Krautkremer: Today, to put on a show, a sports show is a good way of thinking about it, since it’s all around us, the internet is really a necessity; internet connectivity and connectivity from that site to all of these different destinations, in order to produce the show. A first order challenge for those organizations that travel from stadium to stadium and venue to venue and put on these shows is, how do I get fast and reliable connectivity that doesn’t cost me a fortune?
Todd Krautkremer: We talked about in our opening comments Larry, wireless is moving from kind of being this fail over scenario; it’s the connectivity of last resort, to now becoming the connectivity of first resort and that’s because it’s simple. You show up on a site anywhere, you know that Wi-Fi may be sketchy, you probably won’t be able to get an Ethernet connection; but, if you can make a call on your phone, you know you’ve got an LTE connection and as that becomes faster and faster, as that becomes a reality across the United States, wireless will become the first choice; not the last choice.
Larry Jordan: Where does Cradlepoint fit into all this? Am I getting services from you, or am I getting hardware? What am I getting when I work with you?
Todd Krautkremer: Of course, we don’t provide the cellular network, that’s Horizon and AT&T and T-Mobile and Sprint. They’ve invested billions of dollars to build a reliable, far-reaching infrastructure that’s getting faster and faster. What we provide is, think of it as, today, if you’re making a cellular call, what do you need? You need a subscription plan from one of the major carriers and you need a cell phone; you need both of those things. When you have both of those things, you can browse the internet and you can make a call. Well we fit exactly the same bay in a business context.
Todd Krautkremer: If you want to connect over wireless to the internet, to your back office, you need a carrier and a data plan; but you then need an Edge device; a wireless router if you will, that allows you to connect your PCs, your terminals, your cameras, your devices at a particular site, to that wireless connection, to be able to communicate over cellular. We become the equivalent of the phone for connecting all of your computer terminals and tablets and devices at a particular site. Does that make sense?
Larry Jordan: It does. What you would do is, you would be in the closet with our switch and our router and our normal internet connection and there would be a port off the switch that connects to you. Rather than having a lot of wired LAN, I’d be able to go wireless over your equipment.
Todd Krautkremer: You’ve got it. Exactly right Larry.
Larry Jordan: Todd, you’ve talked a lot about today’s technology, where’s wireless going?
Todd Krautkremer: Well, I’m glad you asked Larry, because it’s going somewhere very, very fast. I suspect a lot of listeners today have heard about the term 5G. At the Super Bowl there were some ads about 5G from the major carriers, it’s really the next best thing. A simple way to think about 5G is, it is as big a change in terms of capabilities as the internet was over a decade ago. It’s a big deal.
Larry Jordan: How so?
Todd Krautkremer: Well, what it means is that, you’ll be able to connect faster over wireless than you will in many instances over wired; you’ll be able to connect with less delay and latency, so this ability now to make Edge computing pervasive is possible; you’ll be able to connect a massive number of things that are almost unimaginable today.
Todd Krautkremer: Every car going down the road in the future will be communicating in real time; as a way of driving more autonomy and more security. You’ll have, literally, billions and billions of things, sensors and cameras and all sorts of different IOT devices connected over cellular networks.
Todd Krautkremer: To accommodate this massive number of connections and to do it at faster speeds and to provide greater efficiency for the carriers; so that they can have a spectrum of pricing that fits these different use cases, they need to make a quantum leap in the technology to power cellular networks and that quantum leap is called 5G.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information about the services that Cradlepoint provides, where can they go on the web?
Todd Krautkremer: The best place to go, of course, is www.cradlepoint.com. The information that people need to know about what we do and, more importantly, about all of the different use cases and customers that we support and provide connectivity for, it’s all on there and some really great use cases. Including, by the way, a use case about Fox Sports; which is the example I gave when I was talking about why is this technology relevant for the media world.
Larry Jordan: That website is cradlepoint.com and Todd Krautkremer Is the Chief Marketing Officer at Cradlepoint. Todd, thanks for joining us today.
Todd Krautkremer: You bet. Thank you so much for having me on your show.
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: Jack Gill is an Action Designer, Action Director and Stunt Coordinator. He has created some of the movie industry’s most memorable action sequences; for example, in ‘Jumanji,’ ‘Furious Seven’ and the ‘Fate of the Furious,’ ‘Ride Along’ and ‘Ride Along Two’; ‘Fast Five’ and many more. Jack is a past President of Stunts Unlimited; a member of the Director’s Guild of America; the Screen Actor’s Guild and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and has been nominated and won many stunt awards over the past years. Hello Jack, welcome.
Jack Gill: How are you Larry?
Larry Jordan: I am impressed with your résumé; that and the fact that you’re still breathing, I think, is also pretty much of a shock too.
Jack Gill: And I’m still walking around; so that’s good too.
Larry Jordan: How would you describe what you do in broad terms?
Jack Gill: Essentially, what we’re doing as stunt people is, we’re creating things that other people normally can’t do in a safe manner. We’re trying to give something that they’ve never seen before and what most people think is completely out of their minds and unsafe, we create a safe environment and get it done.
Larry Jordan: Well that gets me to my most important question. I look at the images on your website of what stunt people do and I think, these people are crazy. What’s the difference between creating a stunt and doing something stupid?
Jack Gill: A lot of people have that feeling when they first see it and not to say that that changes at all; because, every single conversation we have, you know, they say, there’s just no way we can do this. But what you do is, you break it down into pieces. Once you break it down into pieces and you figure out how to do it safely and that’s how you get by.
Larry Jordan: What does safely mean to you?
Jack Gill: We’re trying to protect the stunt people, number one; because that’s where we have to start the whole process. We have to start rehearsing it without anybody around. Then we’ve got to try to protect the crew, the actors, the director, the producers; everybody that’s around it, we have to then protect as well. That’s where it becomes a little more difficult; because now you’re dealing with 300-400 people on the crew and when you’ve got cars racing through the streets and crashing, you know, it’s a big job.
Jack Gill: It’s not something to be taken lightly and it’s something that you include everybody involved; so that you can get input from every single person that’s there on the action sequence.
Larry Jordan: Every stunt is different, whether you’re falling off a building; or racing motorcycles, or crashing a car; but when do you want to get involved in the planning of a stunt?
Jack Gill: The planning of it comes way before we ever even get out there on the set and usually, on a feature film, that’s a couple of months ahead of time. You have talked about in, you know, in a board room over amongst maybe five to ten people and then you’ve discussed it with your stunt team and then you go out and you rehearse it in a parking lot; until you’ve got it where you can do it three or four times successfully. Then you say, okay, we’ve got the kinks worked out, let’s now work the actor into it.
Jack Gill: Then you have the actor for a couple of weeks and you work the actor into the pieces that you believe the actor can do safely and do, you know, multiple times; not just once. Once you’ve figured that off, then you take it to the set and you figure out how to do it in front of cameras and where to set these cameras. There’s a lot that goes into this, but it is a process.
Larry Jordan: Wait a minute. If you’re crashing cars, or sliding a motorcycle across pavement, you can’t keep crashing cars over and over and over in rehearsal; what are you actually rehearsing?
Jack Gill: We’re actually rehearsing crashing cars and sliding motorcycles. On ‘Fast and Furious’ we’re actually doing that. We take junk cars that we buy for 500 bucks and we come in there and we do the actual crash; so we see what’s going to happen and where the pieces are going to fly.
Jack Gill: Even though it’s a little different every time, we still rehearse the actual stunt. Now, if it’s something that’s really, really big, that you just can’t rehearse; that costs maybe a couple of hundred thousand dollars to do, sure, I get your point, you can’t rehearse all of that and then it’s an accurate guess as to what’s going to happen.
Larry Jordan: I could talk about how stunts are creating forever with you, because it’s such an alien territory for me. But I want to talk from a filmmaking point of view. Your title is Action Designer, Action Director; where did these come from and what do they mean?
Jack Gill: Well, they started out, essentially, back years and years ago; you know, 20 years ago we were called Stunt Coordinators and Second Unit Director; which meant a Stunt Coordinator pretty much brings all the stunt people onto the set and then somebody else would say, here’s what they do. This guy’s going to fall off a hose; this guy is going to get shot off the top of a building and fall onto a mat. Second Unit Directors were essentially guys who came in and shot a car that drives by a building, or a placard on a guy’s desk, or a door opening and closing.
Jack Gill: Now, over the years, it has become much more. A Stunt Coordinator has become an Action Designer and an Action Designer pretty much designs every piece of the action sequence; from its inception of trying to figure out what it is, to its actual completion at the end of the movie and then, sometimes, you’re even hired once the movie’s completely over, to figure out what you do to pick up all the little pieces, to make the movie even better.
Jack Gill: Action Designer has become a lot like a Production Designer in the art world, is that, they come in there and do everything from top to bottom and have a crew. An Action Designer in our business has a crew of stunt people or, you know, the action industry. A Second Unit Director, on the other end, is the guy that films all of the action.
Jack Gill: Second Unit just didn’t really describe what a Second Unit Director did; so Action Director pretty much describes that he designs all of the action, he goes in there with the Action Designer and figures out where the cameras go and how to film each and every aspect of it.
Jack Gill: Those two terms, from Stunt Coordinator, became Action Designer and Second Unit Director morphed into, you know, Action Director. They are new terms that we are using now to more aptly describe the industry.
Larry Jordan: What’s the relationship then between the Director and the Action Designer, or the Action Director?
Jack Gill: Very, very close; I mean, they worked hand-in-hand; usually are working every single day together, to try and figure it all out. Because, you know, an Action Designer can design an incredibly exciting piece, but then when you talk to the Action Director, he has to figure out how to shoot it and sometimes he does have to break it into pieces. Then you go hand-in-hand and sit down on a table with a model and you figure out which piece you’ve going to shoot first, where all the cameras go, where the crew goes, how much the actor’s going to do.
Jack Gill: You know, there’s a lot that goes into it and that’s what I think most people don’t’ really understand is that, you don’t really shoot these things all in one piece; even though, when you’re seeing it in the movie theater, it feels like one piece. That’s what we’re trying to convey. We’re trying to keep the movie audience goers to feel like there are part of this sequence; so if they are in the car, or jumping off the building, or lit on fire, they’re really part of the movie. That’s what we’re trying to do.
Larry Jordan: Jack, you’ve mentioned the Academy wanting to change the name to Action Designer and Action Director, why have there not been any awards for stunts?
Jack Gill: That’s a great question and the problem I’ve had is for 29 years, we have been asking the Oscars for an action category and they have shut us out every single year. I wish I could give you an answer to that Larry, but for some reasons they have a deep-seated problem with bringing in an action category; even though I think it would bring their ratings up. Maybe we just need the public to get involved and to try and convince the Academy that we need an action Oscar.
Larry Jordan: One of the things about being a stunt person is staying in shape. I was curious, when you’re training, what’s the most important part? Is it working on your strength, working on flexibility, working on stamina? What makes a good stunt person physically?
Jack Gill: I think you do have to stay fit the entire time you’re trying to do stunts because, you know, there are so many avenues that the stunt world can go into. Sometimes you’re doing horse pictures, sometimes you’re doing car pictures, sometimes it’s all high falls; you can’t ever tell which way it’s going to turn. As a stunt person, you have to be completely fit in all avenues; so you’re continually training in almost every aspect of the stunt business.
Jack Gill: What’s always very exciting is what you’re doing week in and week out; but if you don’t stay fit you’re going to get hurt and that’s the problem. You’re trying to continually not get hurt. That’s not to say it’s not going to happen, because the business has gotten inherently safer than it was when I first started. But that’s the thing you’re trying not to do, you’re trying not to get hurt; because, once you get hurt, you’re out of the business and people forget about you pretty quickly.
Larry Jordan: Let’s flip the same question. When you’re training, what’s the most important mental aspect of the job?
Jack Gill: That’s a great question because, the mental aspect of it is just as important as the physical aspect of it; because there are lots of stunt people who are extremely fit and extremely athletic and you think these guys are going to be fantastic in our business and then you find out they don’t have the mental capacity to understand it. Either they don’t have commonsense, which has a lot to do with it, or they can’t think on their feet quickly.
Jack Gill: If you can’t think on your feet quickly, you’re going to have a real problem in this business; because things go wrong and when things go wrong, you have to understand what you’re going to do when those things go wrong and make the right choice. Some people can’t do that, some people freak out and just break down and can’t make an adjustment.
Jack Gill: What makes a great stunt person is being able to make a great adjustment under fire and that’s where we see the really fantastic stun people shine is, when something has gone wrong and they still make the right choice to make it through whatever it is that they had to do to get through, without hurting anybody.
Larry Jordan: You mentioned earlier that you like to get actors involved as much as possible and as early as possible in creating a stunt. How do you decide how much dangerous stuff an actor can do?
Jack Gill: Well, I mean, you start from the inception understanding the actor and what they’ve done in the past. You know, if I don’t know the actor ahead of time, we’ll bring him on board and let him watch most of the rehearsal process, so he gets a feel for it and then, once he’s gotten a feel for it, we’ll bring him in very gingerly to start with. The last thing we want to do is even twist an ankle, or create a bruise; because actors are irreplaceable in the business.
Jack Gill: Once the action arranger has gotten a feel for what we can do, we take him in there and we say, let’s start you off with, you know, something small and you graduate from there to see how much they can do. But you never want to put him in a situation where there’s only a 50/50 chance he’s going to get through without getting hurt; because that would be asinine on, you know, the Stunt Designer; because you can’t afford to get an actor hurt. We put them in as many pieces that we can, to see that we can duplicate it as many times as possible.
Larry Jordan: If you’re talking to an audience of filmmakers, not stunt people, what would you tell a filmmaker are the key things to keep in mind when they’re thinking of doing stunts for a movie?
Jack Gill: Well, I mean, I think as a filmmaker, you have to understand that you need to listen to your Action Designer and to your Action Director and you need to look at a lot of the videos that they did beforehand; to show you the rehearsals. A lot of times, filmmakers can help you out. They can come in and say, well I see what you’re doing, you’re doing it in a lot bigger piece; I think I can put the actor in here.
Jack Gill: It’s great to get input from filmmakers, to find out what we can do to make our job easier, or to make it a better piece. There’s lots of input that really helps us in that situation; so it’s great to see the rehearsals ahead of time and then to expand on it and say, here’s what I think I can do to help.
Larry Jordan: How is CGI affecting the stunt industry?
Jack Gill: That’s a question that has come up quite a lot in the past. It used to be that we thought CGI was going to replace the stunt industry and the special effects industry. What we’ve found out is that, the viewing public, the audience members, are much more savvy than what the studios thought they were and that they can tell when things go completely into the CGI world. Once that happens you’ve lost your audience; they don’t really want to go see those movies time and time again.
Jack Gill: We went back to doing things live as much as possible, to try and do senior pan stunts and try and do everything as real as possible and use CGI as a partner; where they’ll replace backgrounds for us, so they’ll take cables out. But it has become a real close partnership with CGI in that, they’re allowing the action industry to do as much as possible live and then they will help us as much as they can. It’s become a really tight-knit partnership.
Larry Jordan: Jack, I could talk to you for hours, but because we have a limited amount of time, for someone that wants to hire you for their next gig, where can they go on the web?
Jack Gill: You can go to www.stuntsunlimited.com and you can find me there. They’ll hunt me down and, you know, I can do whatever you would like.
Larry Jordan: That website is all one word, stuntsunlimited and Jack Gill is an Action Designer and Action Director. Jack, this has been fun, thank you for your time.
Jack Gill: Thank you Larry, I appreciate it.
Larry Jordan: You know, I was just thinking, the annual NAB Show is a clear indication of the turbulent times we live in. It seems like we’re continuously buffeted by forces beyond our control; technological change, equipment obsolescence, financial pressures, increased competition and exploding distribution just to name a few. It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin.
Larry Jordan: Next week, to help us get a head start on the changing landscape of technology, we present our annual look ahead at NAB. During next week’s show, we’ll chat with our regular contributors about what trends they expect to emerge out of this year’s show. The forces of change are not slowly down, if anything, they’re getting faster; which means that it’s almost impossible for one person to keep up with the industry. Rather than get overwhelmed and depressed, let’s focus instead on our unique gifts; telling stories with moving pictures.
Larry Jordan: I was talking with one of my students yesterday, who was trying to decide what to major in. I told her that, while it was important to know how technology works, anything she learns today about technology will be obsolete in three years. Rather than focusing on tech, focus on storytelling; focus on content. Clients don’t hire us because we know how to use a Red or ARRI camera, they hire us to use the gear at our disposal to tell visual stories that attract audiences and effect change.
Larry Jordan: Media has always blended traditional gear with cutting edge technology; just because it’s new, doesn’t make it better and just because it’s old, doesn’t make it obsolete. Lenses, lighting gear and microphones come immediately to mind when thinking of high quality older gear that still works perfectly.
Larry Jordan: We live in a time of almost limitless creative possibilities, which sounds great; but what I’ve learned is that creativity is at its best when it’s pushing against something. We are at our most creative when someone else says, no you can’t do that. Perhaps we need to think of all this swirling new technology not as an overwhelming wave, but as a force that we need to push against, in order to do our best work. Just something I’m thinking about.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests this week; Jonathan Handel with the Hollywood Reporter, Dan Judy with Digital Film Tree, Todd Krautkremer with Cradlepoint, Jack Gill with Stunts Unlimited and James DeRuvo with doddlenews.com. 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 Saturday morning.
Larry Jordan: 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. Our Producer is Debbie Price, my name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to the Digital Production Buzz.