Digital Production Buzz
September 18, 2014
[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]
[Click here to listen to this show.]
Steve Roberts, CEO and Founder, Eyeon
Jim Geduldick, Cinema & Photo Marketing Manager, GoPro
Sam Nuttmann, Freefly Systems
Graham Sharp, SVP Global Products, Vitec Videocom
Steve Forde, Principal Product Manager, Visual Effects, Creative Cloud, Adobe
Alissa Johnson, Product Manager, Collaborative Workflows, Adobe Anywhere, Adobe
Voiceover: The Digital Production Buzz is brought to you by Blackmagic Design, creators of the world’s highest quality solutions for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries; and by shutterstock.com, a global marketplace for royalty free images and videos. With over two million royalty free HD and 4K video clips, Shutterstock helps you take your creative projects to the next level.
Voiceover: Live from Ralph’s Maytag Museum and Podcast Studio in beautiful downtown Burbank, it’s the Digital Production Buzz.
Voiceover: Production, post production, distribution.
Voiceover: What’s really happening now and in your digital future?
Voiceover: The Buzz is live now.
Larry Jordan: And welcome to The Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for creative content producers covering media production, post production, marketing and distribution around the world. My name is Larry Jordan. Our co-host, Mike Horton, has the night off. He is still in Amsterdam at IBC. He’s going to be back again next week.
Larry Jordan: Thinking of IBC, the IBC trade show was this week in Amsterdam and The Buzz was there to cover it. Probably the biggest news coming out of the show was Blackmagic Design’s acquisition of Eyeon software and we begin our show this evening with an interview with Steve Roberts, the CEO and Founder of Eyeon Software, about what this new ownership change means.
Larry Jordan: Then Buzz producer Cirina Catania has three interviews from the show floor. Jim Geduldick is the Cinema and Photo Marketing Manager for GoPro. He’s going to be talking about some new GoPro goodies; Sam Nuttmann from Freefly Systems on a new UAV – that’s the new word for drones. It’s an unmanned aerial vehicle. They’ve got some new models and Freefly is going to be talking about those; and Graham Sharp, the Senior Vice President of Global Products for Vitec Videocom has a look back at IBC and the impact independent film makers are having on broadcast television today.
Larry Jordan: Finally, Philip Hodgetts, the CEO of Intelligent Assistance interviews two product managers from Adobe Systems about the new version of After Effects and Adobe Anywhere that were revealed at IBC this week. He’ll talk first with Steve Forde, the Principal Product Manager for Visual Effects for the Creative Cloud. Steve is an expert on After Effects; and Alissa Johnson, the Product Manager for Collaborative Workflows for Adobe Anywhere. Both of them are with Adobe Systems.
Larry Jordan: Just as a reminder, we are offering text transcripts for each show, courtesy of Take 1 Transcription. Now you can quickly scan or print the contents of each show, as well as listen to it. Transcripts are located on each show page. You can learn more at take1.tv and thanks, Take 1, for making it possible.
Larry Jordan: By the way, we also want to mention and welcome a new sponsor this week. Shutterstock joins The Buzz family. It’s because of our sponsors that we’re able to continue producing the longest running podcast covering digital media in the world.
Larry Jordan: Let’s see, what else is going on? It has been one busy week with all the press announcements coming from IBC. It’s been a never ending stream of new products and exciting new things to talk about and we’re going to actually cover it in two shows. We have some interviews this week and then Cirina has more interviews that will be airing next week. You’ll be able to hear all of it here on The Buzz.
Larry Jordan: There are so many things that we’re looking at and so many new technologies to pay attention to. I can’t wait to share it with you as both tonight’s show and next week’s show moves forward, as we say.
Larry Jordan: Remember to visit with us on Facebook, at digitalproductionbuzz.com. One of the things that we do a lot with Facebook is not only are we interested in your comments, but we take a look at them and talk about them here at the office to see what we can do in terms of scheduling new guests, and coming up with some new ideas and we’ve got some stuff planned for the future that’s just really exciting. I can’t wait to share more of it with you as we get a little bit closer.
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Larry Jordan: We’ll be back with Steve Roberts and Eyeon Software, right after this.
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Larry Jordan: The big news coming out of IBC 2014 in Amsterdam this week was the purchase of Eyeon Software by Blackmagic Design. Steve Roberts is the CEO, I should probably say former CEO, and Founder of Eyeon and joins us this week to explain what the heck is going on. Welcome, Steve, good to have you with us.
Steve Roberts: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: That was quite an exciting way to start a week. What were the specifics of the announcement?
Steve Roberts: Blackmagic Design has acquired Eyeon and all its products, which is Fusion, Generation, Connection, Dimension.
Larry Jordan: We’ll just ask the obvious question – does that mean everybody in Eyeon is on the street?
Steve Roberts: No, not at all. It’s, in fact, the very opposite to that. Blackmagic’s a company that embraces the people that work in companies and are quite bullish about development and going forward. Everybody’s still there.
Larry Jordan: So you still have work to do?
Steve Roberts: Plenty of work to do, yes.
Larry Jordan: One thing I’ve learned in following this industry and being in this industry for 40 years is the more I learn, the less I know and this is a true case of Eyeon. It’s a company that I’ve heard of but I don’t know your products. What do you guys make?
Steve Roberts: We started out with Fusion. I had a production company in Sydney, started in the late ‘80s, and it was our in-house tool. We started writing because there was nothing around to do compositing, which is to put images like CG, together with live action, and manipulate live action and so it started out doing that.
Steve Roberts: Today, it’s been used on well over a thousand feature films. Does VFX works – virtual environments and sets – all the fix it in postings that seem to be needed these days. Stereo conversion for 2D movies to get converted into stereo, stereo work with the disparity between images and fixing and everything. Motion graphics and broadcast work as well. It’s used on series like ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Orphan Black’.
Larry Jordan: Would it be best to describe Fusion as a compositing package?
Steve Roberts: Yes, yes. Traditionally they’re called compositing packages, where you would take elements and composite one image over the top of another, but today we’ve grown far beyond that point, where what we’re really doing is doing things in the 3D space. We have a full 3D engine and everything. So there are a lot of capabilities in what is generally called compositing, yes.
Larry Jordan: What was it about Fusion and Eyeon that made you attractive to Blackmagic, aside from the fact you and Grant both have Australian accents?
Steve Roberts: That part of it is certainly coincidence. You could say that basically Blackmagic is a dedicated R&D company that is making great products for clients. Everybody who are the founders of Blackmagic have been in production, they’ve been there at three o’clock in the morning sweating to get a job out for a client that has to be on air. And we’ve kind of had a similar background, a bit more film related, but we’ve been in production and everything and we keep things very focused on what the client needs and their productions are basically our productions.
Steve Roberts: As they’ve expanded and taken in products like Resolve and turned that into an absolutely fabulous editing and finishing suite, Fusion basically comes into the same family as a very good complement to all of that finishing side of what Resolve can do.
Larry Jordan: One of the things I discovered with Resolve is that Resolve spoke to a very, very limited market and Blackmagic took it and suddenly, maybe mass market is not the right word, but exploded the size of the market. Is that even a possibility with Fusion? Because right now, you’re a really, really powerful program for very, very few people to use.
Steve Roberts: I would think so. People need to do creative things. They need to keep doing creative images, creative motion graphics, things that are designed well, styled well and Fusion has all of those capabilities in there. There’s also a lot of what you don’t see under the hood of what the images are. But the actual management, collaboration and pipeline tooling that’s all built in underneath and that has far reaching effects for all television and broadcasting industries as well to automate things, to shift data and images around networks. So there are a lot of little things that can actually be derived out of this technology and that’s for an even bigger market.
Larry Jordan: We’ve talked about the fact of what made Fusion attractive to Blackmagic. What’s the benefit to Fusion the company in this acquisition?
Steve Roberts: The benefit, really, certainly for me more personally, is that a lot of the functional things you do as a CEO can now be pushed aside a bit more. Where I can actually concentrate more on the actual development of the product, where it’s going, the creative off it. So I get to unload some of the drudge work and actually work on the more fun side of developing and doing great stuff.
Larry Jordan: So it sounds like you tend to live on the development side as opposed to running the business side.
Steve Roberts: Yes, kind of, but yes, you’re always forced into doing a lot of things. As a small company, you have a lot of hats and unfortunately you have to keep wearing the hats you don’t really want to all the time.
Larry Jordan: I was just thinking, I’ve run my own business for 14 years. It’s different in Fusion, but you founded Eyeon Software, developed Fusion and run your own company and all of a sudden it’s not your company any more. What does that feel like?
Steve Roberts: I was wondering what I was actually going to go through when that happened. I’m actually really happy. Obviously, Fusion has been my baby for a really long time, but having a piece of software live in your basement for 26 years, it was time for it to get kicked out of the house and go and get a real job. So it’s kind of like finally getting rid of your 26 year old child.
Steve Roberts: But no, I’m very happy. I mean, this is great. The deciding part of this is where Fusion’s going to go, the clients it’s going to get and the changes it’s going to usher into the industry. I’m really stoked about that.
Larry Jordan: What are Fusion users going to see? Do they have to now contact Blackmagic for support or issues or do they contact you? How does the transition work?
Steve Roberts: The company still sits in the same form as it did, just with new owners. So they still have all the same way of support and contact, so they still go to eyeonline for all the support and the same contacts.
Larry Jordan: Fusion users should not worry at the moment?
Steve Roberts: No, in fact they’re not worrying at all. The amount of outpouring of positive sentiment to this has been really great, and so I haven’t seen a negative comment by one user yet. There are hundreds of people just congratulating us and saying this is going to be awesome. So they’re all really excited about the future.
Larry Jordan: That is a very positive thing, because if they were upset life would be much different.
Steve Roberts: Yes, indeed, yes.
Larry Jordan: Put your development hat on for a second. As you look at the effects landscape, there are lots of companies that specialize in doing compositing, and effects and 3D work. What trends are you keeping your eye on? What should we as effects people, and editors look to in the next year or two? I’m not looking for a product announcement, but what’s got your attention?
Steve Roberts: I think the biggest thing, there’s certainly been a huge change in the industry that I’ve seen. You just look over the history there. Currently, the amount of companies that are in LA have been decimated, and there have been some great studios that unfortunately just aren’t around anymore. So there’s been a lot of consolidation of the film visual effects market and all the post production stuff has been kind of split. A lot of it now is Deluxe Group, Technicolor Group, Disney now owns all of Pixar and the Render Man and everything out of them; ILM, that’s all part of Disney now.
Steve Roberts: There are a lot of big consolidations there, but what’s really going to happen for us out of this is the new wave of film makers. The film makers who thought they couldn’t do these effects because it was always done at a large company. Those people are going to be empowered by what we’ve created, and we’ll carry on creating in the future and that’s going to be the big change in what’s going to happen.
Larry Jordan: To me, it seems that it isn’t necessarily the way the software’s going, but we’ve got to figure out a way for businesses that do effects to make money at it again. All too often, they create this major film and go broke in the process.
Steve Roberts: Yes. There has certainly been a lot of discussion about the processes of everything there. Unfortunately, in the visual effects industry for film, they’re stepping into something that’s a lot unknown. They kind of say, “Well, I’m doing a thousand effects shots and we have some digital environments,” but they don’t realize how many changes and how that stuff gets directed so much that just keeps soaking up cycles of iterations of those shots through the film making process and they’re not really getting paid accordingly.
Steve Roberts: It’s a little different from on set. If the director goes, “That shoot the other day didn’t work, we need to go out on location again and reshoot all of that stuff,” and they talk to the producers and they go, “Yes, ok, we’ll fund that again,” and then they go and reset that whole scene and go out and shoot it again. All of the people that are working on that are actually being paid again. That doesn’t seem to happen in visual effects. It’s just a cycle that’s very wearing on the actual facilities.
Steve Roberts: I’m certainly hoping out of this, like I said, with the up and coming film makers, that they can get a taste of how to do this. Think about things a different way, do it smarter and create some great moments on the screen.
Larry Jordan: It is a challenging time, I agree. Where can people go on the web to learn more about Fusion and the products that Eyeon Software makes?
Steve Roberts: They can go to our website, eyeonline.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s eyeonline.com and Steve Roberts is the former CEO and Founder of Eyeon Software and, Steve, thanks for joining us today.
Steve Roberts: Thank you.
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Larry Jordan: IBC is the second largest trade show in our industry and the 2014 version of the show ran this week. We sent our producer, Cirina Catania, over to Amsterdam in the Netherlands to learn about the latest news and she files a series of reports. Cirina.
Cirina Catania: I’m in the GoPro booth with Jim Geduldick and we are looking at some brand new accessories for the GoPro. Tell us about it.
Jim Geduldick: Sure, welcome to the GoPro booth at IBC. We have a few new accessories that we have released since we last spoke. Probably the newest, and one of the most fun is obviously our Fetch mount, which we see old Fido over here is mounted up with. Also, the famous GoPro dog chicken. You can check her out on our YouTube page.
Jim Geduldick: We’ve also announced some other accessories since we last spoke – the Sportsman mount, which can be adapted for film making and photography. People may equate it to what you would think of like a C mount or a mic stand mount. It has a C clamp that you can basically vice close and you can use it as a grip tool. It allows you to snap in place onto the back of our housing and then you can use it as a film making tool, as people would be used to using as a grip on an electric tool.
Jim Geduldick: Since NAB, we’ve also released our three way mount, which is our extendable arm. Besides folding, it works as a handle, as an extendable arm and it also has a tripod built into the base. So that’s the new three way because it’s multifunctional for film makers, photographers. Getting that upper height that you need, as well as down below, being able to pull the pieces off and use them just as a handle or just as a tripod. Comes in handy for a lot of the film makers and photographers out there.
Jim Geduldick: Also, everybody loves being able to shoot with the Firmware 2.0 that we came out with right before NAB. That’s always something good to talk about for film makers, being able to have more manual light controls over our camera, things like ED bias, GoPro color as well as flat color settings. So if you’re giving any color grading with our camera, it allows you to get that… workflow with it. A lot of the accessories are useable for film making. Here we have our two cars here…
Jim Geduldick: A lot of people like mounting a suction cup to it as well as on our roll bar mounts for that. So as always a lot of our versatile mounts are a big factor in a lot of film makers’ workflow and also just our blackout housing, which allows you to be very inconspicuous. If you’re shooting on set, sometimes some actors don’t like big cameras in their faces, and being able to use the blackout housing, whether you’re doing reality TV, studio work, it allows you to have something that’s easily addable onto a set. You have full blackout housing instead of people going out there and just gaffer taping housings fully black, spray painting them.
Jim Geduldick: We kind of did it the easier way, we came out with a black housing. So it makes it a lot easier for film makers to use and we’re always telling the story as GoPro, as a media company as well. So here not only the user generated content, so everybody listening can submit their GoPro footage for us to either feature as photo of the day or video of the day, but a lot of times we feature user generated content as our commercials.
Jim Geduldick: Everybody remembers ‘Dubstep Baby’ from the Super Bowl last year, but then as far as Super Bowl this year, we had Felix Baumgartner in relation with Red Bull media. So one key factor is letting GoPro users, both on the professional side and consumer side, as you’re captioning your films, your everyday life, make sure you submit it to us. You never know when we could feature that in a commercial or in a GoPro on YouTube or Vimeo.
Cirina Catania: Jim, how long have you been with GoPro and how did you end up working at the company? You’re a film maker as well.
Jim Geduldick: Yes I am. Just like everybody else listening, I was making contact with GoPros before joining the company. I’ve been at the company almost a year now in this role in marketing, and covering all the professional cinema and photo markets, as well as broadcast. I had a love and a use for GoPro in my personal and professional life before I joined and it kind of just seemed like an inevitable thing, coming from an action sports background and a professional photography background. It made sense to just work with my friends at GoPro.
Jim Geduldick: I love working with the passionate users we have, but then we also have very passionate people within GoPro who always want to see what people are doing in new and interesting ways with our camera systems.
Cirina Catania: A lot of people are doing time lapses now. They’re very, very popular. Can you give us one tip that you would tell people on how to get the best time lapse possible?
Jim Geduldick: Sure. One tip is definitely shoot with ProTune on. It’s going to give you a higher megabit codec to shoot with. You’re going to get upwards of 45 megabits per second shooting in ProTune. But then, when it comes down to time lapses, if you’re not shooting the video mode for that, because one trick is to cheat a time lapse on video as if you shoot regular video even upwards of 4K at 15 frames on the Hero 3+ Black is that you can speed it up to almost get a hyper lapse effect, which I’ve done and we’ve done within GoPro and the media team too.
Jim Geduldick: Cheat it shooting in the video mode, but then if you’re shooting traditional time lapses, obviously just set up your favorite interval within our camera on the stills side and then use it how you would either in Photoshop, or Light Room, or GoPro Studio. Obviously using GoPro Studio, which is free, is the easiest way to make time lapses or work with GoPro content.
Cirina Catania: You have always had a lot of athletics and a lot of action shots. Now that the camera’s very, very popular, are you seeing other types of filming with it?
Jim Geduldick: Oh yes, everything from reality TV. I don’t think you would go on TV and not see something that you could recognize as GoPro today. Feature films are also heavily involved in using our cameras, not for just that flash cam, but also not too long ago David Kronenberg shot a short all on a GoPro, in very David Kronenberg style, very immersive, getting you in, bringing you into his world and getting you immersed in that. We see a lot of different storytellers now using our cameras in very different ways, not just in the traditional action sports point of view crash cam style, but more along the lines of telling stories with our camera.
Cirina Catania: I think with the new codec, what’s happened is a lot of the broadcast outlets are now approving the use of the GoPro for network shows. We used it at National Geographic on our last film.
Jim Geduldick: Yes, and one of the great things that we announced and Adobe announced with their press release this week for the new Freedom Pod update is that you now have full GoPro Cineform codec support in the Adobe Creative Cloud. So the great thing about that is you now have access to GoPro’s high resolution, 4K and beyond encode and decode support within your favorite Adobe tool. Anything that uses the media core engine – Photoshop, Light Room, Audition, Premiere, After Effects – you can now encode and decode both on the Mac and PC side for GoPro software.
Larry Jordan: Jim Geduldick is the Cinema and Photo Marketing Manager for GoPro and their website is gopro.com.
Cirina Catania: This is Cirina Catania at 2014 IBC for The Digital Production Buzz. I’m here at the Freefly booth with Sam Nuttmann and we’ve got some good news. There’s something shipping today that we actually covered at NAB, so tell us about that.
Sam Nuttmann: Yes, that’s right. Today we start shipping the MoVI M15, which is our newest in the MoVI line-up. It will carry 15 pounds of camera, so you can put a Sony F55 on there with a cinema prime lens and all sorts of other goodies on there.
Cirina Catania: Tell us what you’ve got for the smaller, more mobile cameras.
Sam Nuttmann: We’ve develop a mobile kit, so you can put your iPhone on the MoVI M5, which is pretty cool. We haven’t announced pricing on that yet, we’re still finishing up with that, but it is pretty cool. We’ve also done a price announcement today, where we’re dropping the price on our MoVIs. The M15 will sell at $12,000 US; the M10 has dropped down to $8,000 US; and the M5 is at $4,000 US. Now, those lower prices does not include the controller, but you can purchase those controllers separately.
Cirina Catania: What would you say your most popular unit is? You guys have just got stuff flying off the shelves.
Sam Nuttmann: The M10 is our first product and definitely is our most popular. It really carries the widest range of cameras, from very small to very large; and the M15, it’ll be popular with particular users that like using the Sony F55, or maybe the Alexa M or something like that. I think that the M10 is still probably the workhorse of our line because it has so much versatility in weight and size.
Larry Jordan: That was Sam Nuttmann of Freefly Systems talking about the MoVI, unattended flying vehicle, being interviewed by Cirina Catania at IBC. Freefly Systems’ website is freeflysystems.com.
Larry Jordan: Cirina next spoke with Graham Sharp, the Senior Vice President of Global Products for Vitec Videocom, and Graham began his conversation talking about the history of IBC.
Graham Sharp: IBC replaced what was a symposium in Switzerland about 12, 14, 15 years ago, I don’t remember exactly. There used to be a very high end broadcast symposium in Switzerland every year, and the manufacturers would trek off and it was very small, and very boutique, and what the traditional linear broadcasters have realized is that they can’t sustain the way they used to make programs. So they’ve gone down the outsource model. So almost every broadcaster in Europe has laid off staff, and all those staff have become independent videographers. They’re doing the same job they were before but they now work for themselves and they’re working for independent production companies.
Graham Sharp: The proliferation in channels has also driven down the production costs. I’ve got to make programs cheaper. So what we’ve seen is traditional broadcasters outsource more, traditional broadcast staff become independent and then, because of the growth in the whole industry, a massive influx of new people producing programs. This unique little club that existed 15 years ago in Switzerland where we all flew over and met the BBC, and ZDF from Germany and what used to be called, who the hell were the Netherlands broadcast people? I can’t remember. Whatever. You know, that’s disappeared now because we as manufacturers can’t just sell to one organization.
Graham Sharp: We’re now selling to hundreds and thousands of independent videographers. And what’s happened, the growth, I think, in things like IBC is now, Holland’s a relatively cheap place to get to. It’s connected to everywhere in mainland Europe by train. It used to be relatively cheap hotel wise, food wise. It’s big enough to house a big conference. So IBC has grown. What we see increasingly on a booth like this is we spend our days talking to the independent videographers, not the four or five key broadcasters, and I think what we see going on at IBC reflects that huge change in the industry from a few select companies making programs to the whole world making programs.
Cirina Catania: On the independent side, it’s been a very difficult few years for a lot of independent producers. Where do you see all of this going in the future in terms of monetization, not just for the manufacturers but for the content providers as well?
Graham Sharp: I think it’s rather interesting if you watch the way that some of the, let’s call them new companies are commissioning content. A few years ago, you would never have dreamt that Netflix would commission content, and you wouldn’t have guessed that all the awards are being swept by the cable shows that certainly aren’t not what you would traditionally think as mainstream content.
Graham Sharp: I think what happened was, when the internet came along, and we went from a few channels terrestrially to a few hundred channels through cable and satellite, to potentially unlimited channels through the internet, I think the more high end program makers got really worried that they were just going to get swamped by internet channels who were going to eat their lunch, take their business, take their revenue.
Graham Sharp: The reality of what’s actually happened is quality has actually prevailed and I use the analogy, because I see myself as a toolmaker, I spent the last 30 years of my career building products for people to use to make television, and I always say to people, “Look, at home I have a hammer, I have the best hammer that money can buy but I’m not a carpenter. I need skills, I need training to be a carpenter,” and it’s the same with video.
Graham Sharp: You can have the best equipment money can buy but you’re not necessarily a film maker, and I think what happened was the internet came along, the traditional channels or traditional commissioning companies went into a state of shock, drew back a little bit, but now we’re through that and quality is prevailing, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t create a YouTube channel and do what I want.
Graham Sharp: We’re in that long tail environment where if I’m a one legged butterfly collector, I can probably find a channel on YouTube that appeals to me. What we’re doing is we’re enabling the niche markets. I actually think it’s one of the most fantastic times in our industry that we’ve had in ages. There’s choice, there’s freedom. It’s enabling the long tail at one end, but there’s still a quality end at the other.
Cirina Catania: How long have you been in this business and how did you get involved with Vitec?
Graham Sharp: My first job in television was in 1984, so 30 years, and I’ve been involved with Vitec for 18 months. I joined in May of last year. Prior to that, I was CMO of Grass Valley. I was at Avid for years and years, I ran Avid for years and years and prior to that I was one of the early guys at Discreet Logic. I was VP of Sales and Marketing for Discreet Logic.
Cirina Catania: Thank you so much, you’ve given us a great overview and we’ll stay with you as we move into the future to see what else is going to happen next. Thank you.
Graham Sharp: If you’re going to need any other random thoughts, just let me know.
Cirina Catania: Thank you, Graham. Have a wonderful IBC.
Graham Sharp: Thank you very much. Thank you.
Larry Jordan: That was Graham Sharp, the Senior Vice President for Global Products at Vitec Videocom. Their website is vitecgroup.com; and thanks, Cirina, for all these interviews.
Larry Jordan: Continuing our coverage of IBC 2014, Buzz reporter Philip Hodgetts interviewed Steve Forde, the Principal Product Manager for Visual Effects for Creative Cloud and Alissa Johnson, the Product Manager for Collaborative Workflows at Adobe Anywhere. Both are with Adobe Systems. Philip.
Philip Hodgetts: In the fore, what are the new features coming to After Effects?
Steve Forde: There are obviously a lot of features in Premiere Pro, there are a lot of features right across the board and we’ve been going through a pretty hefty investment into the architecture of After Effects. Specifically planning for the future as After Effects becomes a first class citizen in Adobe Anywhere and at the same time really fundamentally changing as new hardware is now available, new uses for the hardware in different ways.
Steve Forde: We’ve had such tremendous success with things like Premiere Pro in the graphics card utilization and all that kind of stuff, it’s time to look at After Effects and I think that the model that we’ve been really going with over the last few years is, how can I make 600 decisions instead of 100, right? When is the machine getting in my way?
Steve Forde: As an After Effects artist, usually you make a change and then you preview what you did, always, over, over, over again. So we really looked at that in our usual cadence, so it’s one of the reasons why there’s actually not that many features in After Effects, as compared to the rest of the products for this reveal. In the spring, people who have used After Effects and know After Effects well, I’m going to be very interested to see what they think.
Philip Hodgetts: We’ve certainly seen a lot of performance boosts and seem to use all that the machine can offer and it certainly would be nice to see After Effects use all the machine can offer.
Steve Forde: Yes, and not just for the pipeline and utilizing all the hardware, but it’s the fundamental shift of things. Since After Effects was 1.0, the way that it has always worked – I mean, it came out in 1992, right? Computer programs don’t work exactly the same way as they did in 1992 and I think that is probably the area that will be the most interesting to the After Effects artist.
Philip Hodgetts: But there are some new features in the full reveal?
Steve Forde: Yes. Yes, a big thing is around the UI consistency. You’ll notice some updates to the UI. This is the first generation. So all the products as we’ve looked towards touch, I mean, people are using After Effects and Premiere Pro and all that kind of stuff on a wide ranging set of hardware, so high DPI is really important. After Effects, we introduced that for the retina display specifically in the composition so that your comp looked correct, but a lot of the UI was not really taking advantage of the retina. So with the high DPI update along with the UI, we’ve got that consistently across Windows and Mac, and as people are working on really large displays and that kind of stuff, you can scale things up and get the nice aliasing that you expect on fonts, on text, on icons and all that kind of stuff. So those are big areas.
Steve Forde: At the same time, Cineware 2.0, which isn’t a small deal. What I love about the relationship with Maxon is we introduced the first iteration of Cineware not last NAB, the NAB before and the response from users was gargantuan for both companies, so we were really happy with that. The good news about having something get that much use is you get a lot of, “Ok, I need it to do this and I need it to do that,” and so there’s a very rich road map. Probably, this release was most focused around performance.
Steve Forde: People would always want things faster and that’s not lost on us. I think the interaction between CINEMA 4D and After Effects got a lot tighter, which is nice. You’ve got a lot more flexibility around your multi pass render options, there’s things in terms of how the standard workflow is set up. So a lot of streamlining in terms of where we went from 1.0 to 2.0, and those are the primary; and then obviously with Adobe Anywhere, that’s…
Philip Hodgetts: Not everyone would know what Cineware is, so you might just want to give a quick background on that.
Steve Forde: Yes, sure. I noticed, and both Oliver at Maxon and myself, Oliver’s the Product Manager of CINEMA 4D, we got talking about files. How many files people have to spit out of CINEMA 4D, create image sequence after image sequence, multiple pass renders and then bring them into the compositor and most C4D artists were using After Effects as their compositor as well.
Steve Forde: What happens when you want to go back and make a change? If you want to go back into CINEMA 4D and you’ve already brought your image sequences in After Effects, well, you have to re-run all your image sequences again. That creates a lot of data, creates a lot of folders and a lot of confusion about what files are really what, and especially with image sequences, now you’ve got thousands of files all changing over and over and over again.
Steve Forde: The idea with CINEMA 4D for coming into After Effects and creating Cineware was the opportunity to, can I just drop a CINEMA 4D project right into a composition? Can I keep it in its native format? And we kind of looked at how dynamic link works between Premiere Pro and After Effects, because you can make changes in After Effects and not render a thing and just go back over to Premiere Pro, and the idea was can we do that with a product that’s not even an Adobe product? Can we do that and work with a different vendor and see how far out we can extend it?
Steve Forde: The Maxon folks were awesome. They were up for the challenge. We had this model and we came up with something where you drop it into the comp, you can jump back to CINEMA 4D, make a change and you don’t render anything out, you just go back into After Effects and you can support your multi pass pipeline with no files, which is kind of cool.
Philip Hodgetts: Alyssa, how does After Effects feed into the Anywhere workflow? Perhaps start with a little description about Adobe Anywhere for us.
Alissa Johnson: Sure. Adobe Anywhere is our collaboration platform for collaboration between initially Premiere Pro and Prelude when we launched in market around NAB timeframe about a year and a half ago. Those were the two client applications that we went to market with and it really consists of two different components. One is a collaboration hub, and that really is a database for the metadata that keeps track of all the changes that you’re making in these shared productions where you can have multiple asset types and it has production history, it has activity streams. It’s really the collaboration side of things.
Alissa Johnson: And then we also have the streaming side of things. So you have all of your assets centrally located and we use the power of the Mercury streaming engines, which is sort of the Mercury technology that we have in Premiere Pro that we’re able to put on a server and actually use to stream out dynamically the full res media that’s in your storage and that goes out to the client applications. It’s a dynamic connection, so it will actually look at your network availability and it will add compression if you need it and so that you have a good playback experience as an editor.
Alissa Johnson: If you have really great bandwidth, it will actually give you the full resolution files, which is great if you have that kind of capacity. Even if you’re working off of a lower res stream, if you park on the frame it’ll give you the full resolution file. We launched initially with support for Prelude and Premiere Pro, but After Effects was something we really wanted to bring on board as soon as possible.
Alissa Johnson: At IBC last year, we had a preview of After Effects collaboration support in Anywhere, but it wasn’t really ready for prime time. So we’ve done quite a bit of work over the last year and what we’re showing here at IBC this year is collaboration support for After Effects. It’s a little bit different than what we offer with Prelude and Premiere. You still need to have your storage mounted to your client machine and you’re still rendering locally, but you have the power of the collaboration features in the Anywhere system.
Steve Forde: Yes, when we looked at how After Effects artists work with each other, you know, we’ve had a feature in After Effects for a long time, collect files, and that’s how everybody’s kind of taken their project and put it onto a hard drive or a thumb drive or whatever, Dropbox, and given it to somebody else.
Steve Forde: The interesting thing, though, is that we went back and said, “Well, why is it when somebody double clicks that AEP when they get it, that they’re still seeing color bursts from missing footage? Why are they missing all sorts of stuff?” and what we came down to, and I think this is one of the core principles of what Anywhere provides, is that the .AEP in Anywhere is gone.
Steve Forde: That AEP file as a project file is a binary document that people auto save like crazy, they’ll save in many different places and then say another month passes by or you pass that off to somebody else, which one’s the right one? How is the other person supposed to know that? We went back to the first principles and we basically said, “Well, what happens if we get rid of that .AEP and move into something called production?” And if that production has everything that could possibly be related to it, inside of it, and then deal with… cases like a scenario where the After Effects artist now never has to care where they store any media asset or what it’s named, because they’ll never have to worry about having that color bust missing footage again.
Steve Forde: One of the things that we looked at was, “Ok, so if it’s in a production, you don’t double click the AEP, you just sign in to Anywhere.” You use your username and password and that has a list of all your productions that you can go into. You open one. In this case, every time you lift the mouse, every time you do anything in the application where you then could normally save the project, it’s automatically recorded in an industrial database. That means you can go backwards to any point in time.
Philip Hodgetts: Wow.
Alissa Johnson: The versioning capability is pretty impressive.
Philip Hodgetts: And that’s a feature that’s been long asked for.
Steve Forde: Right. Well, that’s just it. But a lot of other systems have really tried to focus on, “How do I take these files and make that work?” Well, the problem is the files themselves and by getting into a database transactional model, now you can go and work with multiple people all signing in, doing their own thing without having to worry about trampling on each other’s work.
Steve Forde: You can version it, you can do interesting things with it and at the same time you can still go back – and this to me was, I’ve been around After Effects for a long time and the holy grail for me was when I saw something I see everybody do a lot – I’m going to go into Photoshop and I’m going to create a graphic, a PSD, and I’m going to hit save and I’m going to save it probably to the last place Photoshop saved something, and a lot of times I’m usually working so fast it’s going to say, ‘Untitled 1’, or 2 or 3 or 500, and then I’m going to drop that in my After Effects project and then I’m going to go off and do my stuff.
Steve Forde: But the problem is that I had already collected my files and I was just making a modification to the After Effects project, which means the next person who opens this up is not going to have the PSD named Untitled 1 sitting on my desktop. Where Anywhere comes in is that I can work in Photoshop, I could save my file, and as soon as I drop it into a production, Anywhere takes over. Obviously After Effects knows how to use that PSD and will continue to use that PSD, say it’s a RED 4K file that’s monstrous, but Anywhere’s going to move it over to the right place on the server where it should be, and as soon as that’s done, it’s going to start using the one on the server and ignore the one on the desktop.
Steve Forde: The user doesn’t care what it’s called because it’s in the production in context to how it’s used, and they’re also not going to care where it’s stored. They never have to go try to find that missing footage or do media management. They can focus on what they’re there to do, create, and that’s really one of the core tenets.
Alissa Johnson: To add to what Steve said, we’ve seen an evolution in the industry from tape based to file based and with Anywhere we’re really taking that file less.
Steve Forde: Yes, we believe that’s the next iteration.
Philip Hodgetts: I have a dumb question. Is that affecting the project format for After Effects that isn’t using Anywhere?
Steve Forde: No. The interesting thing is you have to be able to bring in a traditional project. At the same time, the nice thing about the collaborative nature is that you can work with a bunch of users, but at the same time you’re going to want to be able to pass that project. You’re going to want to be able to turn it into a project to somebody else, right?
Steve Forde: So it’s basically the collect files notion. What happens with the Anywhere scenario is we’re talking to the Anywhere collaboration hub, which is the core part of it, it’s the brains of Anywhere, which then may also in an enterprise location be talking to a media asset management system or something driving policies on shared storage and all that kind of stuff, and all that is opaque to the artist. The artist just signs in and starts to work, but if I do want to put that, say, on a thumb drive or something like that and send it off to somebody else, what I want to be able to do is I want to basically collect that out and turn that into an After Effects project and I want to turn that into media that I can pass along.
Steve Forde: At that point the Anywhere production is going to be as up to date as when that collect happened. The other nice idea with this is downstream we’re getting into a scenario where people do like to work remotely, they work from different places, and a lot of times being able to bring things in and put things back is challenging on its own and Anywhere really offers a new opportunity to look at that.
Philip Hodgetts: Changing topic back to almost where we started, on the performance issues. Is the work that you’re doing on After Effects going to have an ongoing impact to third party plug-ins? Because there’s a huge ecosystem around After Effects.
Steve Forde: Yes, I know, I used to be one.
Philip Hodgetts: You did.
Steve Forde: I used to make plug-ins for After Effects. I think that’s why the exercise has been quite some time in the making. We started working with plug-in developers late last year in terms of the initial builds and where we were with this architectural change. We actually have a developer’s kitchen in a week in Seattle, where basically all the plug-in vendors come in and then we go through the architecture and still have enough time to make changes to what they need for their products.
Steve Forde: The good news is that the way the model works is it’s not dramatically different, but it will require the plug-in vendors to make sure that there’s support and so forth.
Philip Hodgetts: As an After Effects product manager, do you feel at all threatened by After Effects features being moved into Premiere?
Steve Forde: The funny thing is, and I’ve told this story to a few folks so I apologize if I’m repeating it, but when I started at Adobe, I ran into two different people on the same day, it was the first day, and I think they were both from our sales organization. When I look at Adobe applications, After Effects is probably one of the most complex ones we make.
Steve Forde: The interesting thing is that if I look at every Premiere editor who wants to be able to do things in After Effects, and I see them open After Effects, then I see them immediately get fear and terror in their eyes and then close After Effects. The first thing I heard was, “Can you make After Effects easier to use? Because editors will do more things with it and naturally as a business we want more people to use the application.”
Steve Forde: But then at the same time, After Effects is like an industry standard, and people who have been with After Effects since day one have almost shaped the app their own way. The communication with the team has been so good in the sense that a lot of the way After Effects is, it was developed almost by a community in that sense. So the other person came to me and said, “Whatever you do, don’t change anything.” Ok, so make it easier to use but don’t change a thing. Ok, that’s going to be interesting.
Steve Forde: But really what it came down to was, there was a lot of folks talking about different opportunities to combine tools and I did like the philosophy of, “If I look at a cook, why does a cook have to go to two different kitchens to make the same meal?” I heard a lot of that, but at the same time if you look at After Effects and Premiere Pro, they’re each their own 747 cockpit of dials, and buttons, and knobs, and just by throwing more dials, and buttons, and knobs in each one is not the right thing either. So really what we wanted to do is try to look at it and say, “Well, what does the editor want to accomplish, especially when they maybe are working with somebody else?” If I’m working with a graphics guy, I’ve got a great broadcaster designer, I’ve got some great lower thirds or something like that. Well, I want to be able to drop them in, but do I have to go back to that guy every time just if I wanted to change the name on the lower third or something? It’s kind of ridiculous.
Steve Forde: So at the same time people would send a project and what you would see is somebody who doesn’t really even want to go down into After Effects, double clicking that After Effects project file and seeing the guy who created it, or maybe I created it six months ago, and I have no clue how this thing was put together, but I just need to do something quick. So the idea was, what can we do to put it into the editing experience from the editing perspective, and get it so that changing text, providing masking? If I’m doing things and I’m going to create a mask there should be no penalty for going back to After Effects if you want to really do something crazy.
Steve Forde: But you should also be able to lever that stuff if it’s good enough, and it should work fast, and take advantage of all the things that the editor can do. In fact, with the masking introduction and live text templates, we’ve seen more utilization of After Effects from Premiere Pro editors than before we started putting that technology really into Premiere. I think it’s a win/win. I think we may have finally figured that out but time will tell. I think it’s a good thing. I’ve been a big champion for it.
Alissa Johnson: If they can start using it in an interface they’re already familiar with and then get comfortable there, that actually might open up a pathway for them to say, “You know, maybe instead of going to my graphics guy, I can open up After Effects and work on this a little bit myself.” So we think that’ll be interesting to see as well.
Philip Hodgetts: Thank you very much Alissa and Steve.
Steve Forde: Not at all. Thank you.
Alissa Johnson: Thanks.
Steve Forde: Thanks for having us.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank Philip Hodgetts and Cirina Catania for conducting these interviews at IBC 2014 in Amsterdam. We’ll have more news and interviews from IBC on next week’s show.
Larry Jordan: In the meantime, I want to thank our guests for this week, starting with Steve Roberts, the former CEO and Founder of Eyeon Software about the new acquisition of Eyeon by Blackmagic Design; Jim Geduldick, the Cinema and Photo Marketing Manager for GoPro; Sam Nuttmann from Freefly Systems; Graham Sharp, the Senior Vice President of Global Products for Vitec Videocom; and Steve Forde, Principal Product Manager for Visual Effects for the Creative Cloud, and Alissa Johnson, Product Manager for Collaborative Workflows, both working with Adobe Systems.
Larry Jordan: There’s a lot happening at The Buzz between shows and it’s all posted to our website at digitalproductionbuzz.com. You can talk with us on Twitter, @DPBuZZ, and Facebook, at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Music on The Buzz is provided by SmartSound; The Buzz is streamed by wehostmacs.com.
Larry Jordan: Text transcripts are provided by Take 1 Transcription. You can email us at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our producer is Cirina Catania, our engineer is Adrian Price. On behalf of Mike Horton, my name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to The Digital Production Buzz.
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