Digital Production Buzz
October 24, 2013
[Transcripts provided by Take1.tv]
[Click here to listen to this show.]
Greg Crosby, Product Line Manager, G-Technology
John Malec, CEO, Visible Spectrum, Inc.
Bryce Button, Product Marketing Manager, AJA Video Systems
Michael Bird, Owner & Co-Founder, TenEighty Media
Voiceover: This 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.
Voiceover: Live from Ralph’s Maytag Museum at Podcast Studio in beautiful downtown Burbank, it’s the Digital Production Buzz.
Voiceover: Production, post production, distribution. 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 leading internet podcast covering digital video production, post production and distribution around the world. My name is Larry Jordan; our handsome co-host, Mr. Mike Horton, is off this week, so we’re going to get right into it.
Larry Jordan: We’re going to start with Greg Crosby. He’s the Product Line Manager at G-Technology. He’s at the PhotoPlus show in New York City talking about new storage gear and storage is essential to any kind of media production, so I’m looking forward to talk with him about what the new toys, sorry, the professional tools that G-Technology has to offer.
Larry Jordan: Then John Malec started a new company, Visible Spectrum, to create and automate the process of creating localized commercials. It’s a fascinating idea, as you’ll discover from John tonight.
Larry Jordan: Bryce Button’s our third guest. He’s the Product Marketing Manager at AJA Video Systems and he’s a frequent guest on The Buzz. With the industry heading toward ultra-high resolution video – 2K, 4K, Ultra HD – we want to talk with him about where AJA fits into this whole high def workflow.
Larry Jordan: And finally, Michael Bird, the Owner and Co-founder of TenEighty Media uses the new Sony HDC cameras and claims they have helped him to get more work and make more money, claims that I’m interested in learning more about, so we’ll talk with him as well.
Larry Jordan: By the way, we started something brand new last week, we had a lot of good comments about it. I want to share it with you tonight. We are doing live tweeting. The hashtag is #buzzlive. It allows us to share with you thoughts on the show but, more important, allows you to join in the conversation and add your own tweets. Send us your comments, either via our live chat or via the live tweets. Patrick is up there just typing his little heart out and want to make sure you get a chance to listen and not only listen but participate, because I love getting your questions and love asking them of the guests we have on the show.
Larry Jordan: Also, we are continuing to offer text transcripts for each show, courtesy of Take1.tv. 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, they’re fully searchable and it’s all thanks to Take 1.
Larry Jordan: The hot news this week happened on Tuesday, when Apple formally announced the new Mac Pro and mentioned they were working on a new version of Final Cut Pro X, both of which will be released in December. Since then, my email has exploded with questions about the Mac Pro, so I did my homework and I’ve compiled some suggestions on what you need to know when configuring or planning to configure a new Mac Pro system. I’ll talk about it during the last segment of tonight’s show. I’ve discovered some very interesting tips that can save you money without sacrificing performance. There’s some neat stuff coming. This is a killer machine. I’m looking forward to chatting with you a little bit later in the show.
Larry Jordan: Remember, you can visit with us on Facebook, at digitalproductionbuzz.com or also on Twitter, @dpbuzz, and you can subscribe to our weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com to get all the latest news on both our show and the industry. We are continuing to work on this newsletter, giving you as much information as we can, especially with the new Inside Insight column, which allows us to take leading opinion leaders around the web and share some of their thoughts with you in this free newsletter that comes out every Friday morning.
Larry Jordan: We are going to start with a look at storage and the folks at G-Technology right after this.
Larry Jordan: Blackmagic Design made two big announcements recently. First, the ATEM1 ME production studio switcher added new features such as ten independent 6G SDI inputs, each with frame sync, a built-in DVE with zoom scale and rotate, plus there’s also four upstream chroma keyers, three independent auxiliary outputs and a larger media pool for still frames and motion video clips.
Larry Jordan: Then, second, Blackmagic released the public demo of DaVinci Resolve 10. This major update includes improved project integration from multiple editing systems, upgraded on-set tools, support for open effects plug-ins and the ability to create DCP packages inside Resolve for projects destined for theatrical delivery. Plus DaVinci Resolve Lite now supports ultra HD and additional GPUs and it’s still free. To learn more, visit blackmagicdesign.com. That’s blackmagicdesign.com.
Larry Jordan: Greg Crosby is the Product Line Manager of G-Technology HDST. He’s at PhotoPlus in New York City, showing off some of their new products and I always love talking about storage, so I wanted to find out what some of their latest gear is. Welcome, Greg.
Greg Crosby: Hi, Larry. Thank you very much for having me on the show.
Larry Jordan: Well, thank you for staying up late. New York City is a little bit later than Los Angeles time and you’ve been at a trade show all day. The fact you can speak English, I think, is a tribute to your stamina.
Greg Crosby: I appreciate that, thank you.
Larry Jordan: You know, everyone knows that G-Technology is focused on the audio and video market, so why are you at PhotoPlus, which deals with still images?
Greg Crosby: You know, we also have a very big, you know, market in the photography industry as well, you know, so we’re supporting basically all kinds of content creators, both in the audio and video states, as you mentioned, as well as in the photography area.
Larry Jordan: So you’re not sneaking around behind our back?
Greg Crosby: No, no, of course not, no. You know, everybody needs storage, right? And, as you know, there’s high resolutions in terms of video and also the high resolutions from still photography require more and more storage, and we love that.
Larry Jordan: Well, I tell you, that’s absolutely true. A hard disk has two states – empty and full. There’s just nothing in between.
Greg Crosby: We like full hard drives and we like to give the new ones that are empty, so…
Larry Jordan: So what are you showing that’s new at the PhotoPlus show?
Greg Crosby: You know, so we’re actually showing lots of new things. We’ve continued to develop our product portfolio and actually what we’re showing and highlighting at PhotoPlus is we have some new mobile products now that we’re going to be introducing. Basically, what we’ve done is we take our very popular G Drive Slim and our G Drive Mobile USB, these are very ultra fun designs, USB3.0 products and we’ve actually upgraded the hard drive inside of it, so now we are shipping them with our fast one terabyte, 7200 RPM hard drives inside of them.
Larry Jordan: Now, these are small USB drives. Is there a difference when you’ve got a single drive involved, whether it’s USB3 or Thunderbolt?
Greg Crosby: No, the interface actually provides enough bandwidth for the drive, so yes, regardless of whether it’s the USB3 interface or Thunderbolt, the same amount of performance can be achieved there. You know, obviously the big difference between the two interfaces is, you know, with Thunderbolt you also have that additional value of being able to daisy chain multiple devices on systems that have that pass-through port to be able to accommodate that.
Larry Jordan: Well, explain something, because there’s a lot of confusion. If I have a USB3 drive or if I have a Thunderbolt drive, Thunderbolt’s at least twice as fast as USB3. Why don’t I get faster performance off a single hard drive as you change the protocol?
Greg Crosby: The speed of the drive actually becomes that factor that comes into play. You know, there still is obviously some advantage to Thunderbolt as an interface, you know, as a dedicated channel and a resource that’s on that host computer versus USB3 is more of a shared resource so, you know, there still is some value in having Thunderbolt as an interface. But from a drive speed performance, the drives that are actually inside at this point aren’t capable of keeping up with those fast interfaces.
Larry Jordan: In other words, the interface, USB3 and Thunderbolt are faster than the hard drive itself, so the single high drive becomes the gating factor.
Greg Crosby: That is correct.
Larry Jordan: So we’ve got these nice little mini drives, which are wonderful for slipping into a pocket and running around with still images. Are you showing anything else that’s new?
Greg Crosby: Yes, we actually are also going to be showing a new, you know, you talked about Thunderbolt and USB3s, you know, we obviously recognize that there are people that have that Thunderbolt port and want to take advantage of that connection, even though they might not see and show that performance benefit, but we are actually going to be releasing a new G Drive Mobile with Thunderbolt, is what we’re calling it, and it’s basically again a one terabyte drive, 7200 RPM that has both a single port Thunderbolt interface, as well as a USB3.0 interface as well
Larry Jordan: Now, you’re calling that a mobile device. What does mobile mean to G-Tech?
Greg Crosby: Mobile to us is a 2½ inch hard drive inside of it. Basically, it’s a portable drive, so both those interfaces are bus powered, so there’s no need to bring, you know, an AC adaptor or some kind of wall port to be able to power up the drive, so they are completely portable drives, and fast as well. You know, we as being a part of HDST, as you had mentioned, we have HDST hard drives inside of all of our G-Technology products and HDST being a very innovative hard drive manufacturing company, we are one of the only ones out there on the market today that have a one terabyte, 7200, 2½ inch hard drive and we’re able to take total advantage of that and put that into our enclosures.
Larry Jordan: Well, the 7200 RPM is a nice thing, because we definitely get faster speeds from 72 than 54, so yay you.
Greg Crosby: You’ll actually get about 20 to 30 percent faster speeds in comparison to some of the standard 5400, 2½ inch one terabyte drives on the market today.
Larry Jordan: So Eric on our live chat is asking what’s the status of Thunderbolt 2, as opposed to Thunderbolt 1, from G-Tech’s point of view?
Greg Crosby: Yes, so at this point we haven’t officially announced any of our plans or strategies in terms of product on that. You know, we are very excited about what our friends at Apple and what we’re hoping some of our other partners are working on in terms of adopting the Thunderbolt 2 technology and, of course, you know, being a brand that’s focused on the content creation market, in the audio, video as well as music and photography realms, we are definitely going to look at integrating those once that technology becomes more readily available to us.
Larry Jordan: Ok, Greg, so here’s the hard question. It’s been 2½ years since Thunderbolt 1 was announced. Why is it taking so long for G-Tech to come out with a RAID 5 that’s got the kind of performance that we need for supporting serious media creation? Harumph.
Greg Crosby: Yes, you know, that’s a tough question. I mean, we definitely have been focusing our efforts on a variety of other products. You know, we have our new Evolution series, which is a solution that we really created in looking at the digital workflow and some of the issues and some of the inefficiencies, I guess you can say, regarding the movement of data. So we focused some of the effort there as well as, you know, we have also another really great product that everybody will start seeing, which is our G Drive Pro with Thunderbolt, which is a solution that’s giving SSD-like performance with spinning disk capacities, and that’ll be another Thunderbolt solution.
Greg Crosby: So we kind of have our resources on some of these more, I guess you can say more volume moving solutions, but that’s not to negate the fact that we aren’t taking those requests very seriously from our customers and we definitely see lots of opportunity and we will definitely look at having those solutions available as quickly as we can.
Larry Jordan: We’re getting a lot of comments on the chat. Caesar’s asking sometimes dealing with RAIDs can be confusing. He hopes you’ll consider creating more step-by-step instruction videos, especially as you start to explore different RAID levels, when RAID 1 and when RAID 0 and when RAID 5, so take that back and what kind of training, not training necessarily, but support do you provide to help people make the right decision on setting up a RAID?
Greg Crosby: Yes, you know, those are really good points and I think education, obviously, is very important and even some guidance as well, and we definitely take that very seriously and, you know, as you mentioned, we’re actually working on some content that we’re going to be able to distribute through our website and, you know, even through that great tool of YouTube, to be able to guide people through that. We also have some other really interesting ideas. You know, as I mentioned, part of the Evolution series, we have basically developed a utility, what we call G-Technology Assistant, that helps with the configuration and kind of set-up of that device, and there’s lots of opportunity for us to help guide and provide, I think, a more simplistic way of configuring devices.
Greg Crosby: So I think people will, you know, hear specifics on some of these more feature products. They’re going to be very pleased with how we are, you know, trying to simplify the overall user experience and guide users to the best solution for their needs.
Larry Jordan: Big Dog Films is asking why is Thunderbolt more expensive than other protocols?
Greg Crosby: You know, obviously the development and the cost of the hardware and the technology tends to be a little bit more expensive, especially on some of this newer and kind of cutting edge technology. You know, even if you look at something like a Thunderbolt cable, those have lots of costs associated with them, so they tend to be definitely more expensive enclosures.
Greg Crosby: But we work very closely with the Thunderbolt consortium, which is represented by our friends at Intel and at Apple and they’re working on reducing those costs and we’re definitely going to do what we can to also minimize cost but still we want to be able to provide a really high performance, highly reliable and stylish product which everybody expects from G-Technology.
Larry Jordan: What’s G-Tech’s plans for an all SSD drive? You haven’t released one yet, if I remember correctly.
Greg Crosby: Yes, at this point we have not set officially out on our road map per se, but we are definitely looking at that. There are some interesting things from a HDST standpoint and some recent opportunities that we might be able to look at specifically for our G-Technology brand. So we definitely hear that from our markets, both in the audio and video space as well as even in the photography realm, people are looking for faster, higher performing solutions.
Greg Crosby: But I also think with that there’s a trade-off. Obviously, from a capacity standpoint, the sizes aren’t quite there yet from a hard drive side, and I think we have some unique opportunities there and some things that I think hopefully everybody will just keep an eye out for some future products that we are really looking to provide that high performance as well as that high capacity.
Greg Crosby: G Drive Pro with Thunderbolt is one of those solutions. We’re offering SSD-like performance with those transfer rates of up to 480 megabytes per second performance with capacities of both two and four terabytes’ worth of storage and the cost is about one third of what it would really cost to get that with SSD storage. We’re going to be offering our four terabyte solution at $850 MSRP and the two terabyte at 699 and that’s a Thunderbolt enabled solution, including the cable. You’ll be basically ready to go and work very, very fast with your content.
Larry Jordan: And when are these shipping?
Greg Crosby: Those will probably be shipping here in the next month or so, so definitely keep an eye out for all the places you see G-Technology and that product will be available here very quickly.
Larry Jordan: Thinking about spinning media, which is a traditional hard disk, and solid state drives, the SSD, when do you pick whether to use an SSD drive or optical media? Or, sorry, SSD drive or spinning media?
Greg Crosby: So,a lot of people use SSDs obviously from a performance standpoint, you know, being able to move data very quickly. Usually, you want to look at SSDs for something that’s more read intensive, where you’re just basically pulling data off as quickly as you can. Where, on the spinning disk side of it, you kind of have the best of both worlds. You know, you get good performance, it’s not going to be SSD-like performance but both good streaming reads and streaming writes and SSDs are really better, I think, more for kind of operating system access.
Greg Crosby: You know, being able to access your applications very quickly here, very small files, very, very quickly. So, you know, I think for content creators, particularly in the audio/video side, obviously with higher resolutions they need faster transfer rates to be able to capture that content without dropping those frames and, you know, obviously from a time perspective too, you want to be able to save time. But the size as well as, you know, there’s also concerns with regard to reliability of SSDs, how long are they going to last? Where a spinning disk tends to have a greater reliability and even the ability to write over multiple times, you know?
Greg Crosby: For example, in our G-Speed line of products, which are four bays, you know, we ship those products with our inter-price class drive, you know, and those drives are designed to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you know, in multiple RAID kind of configurations. So if you’re looking for that high level of performance, that might be a solution that you might be able to look at, as well as to get that capacity.
Larry Jordan: What trends are you keeping an eye on for the future?
Greg Crosby: You know, obviously for the various markets that we cover, both in the audio and video space, we’re looking at obviously the higher resolutions, the various interfaces that are available on cameras. Particularly also we’re looking at, you know, even the digital SLR marketplace and basically that’s opening a lot of doors to people specifically in the independent markets to be able to capture video at a very high quality. So, you know, we’re looking at those trends as well as even now this big push to this 4K resolution onto 6K and 8K. That’s opening a lot of opportunity for us to provide storage that’s very fast and also provide lots of high capacity storage, because at these higher resolutions you’re definitely going to need lots of storage to be able to keep all that content.
Larry Jordan: True enough. Greg, what website can people go to to learn more?
Greg Crosby: Yes, to learn more about G-Technology and our really great products, you can visit g-technology.com.
Larry Jordan: And I’ve got to cut you off. Greg Crosby is the Product Line Manager for G-Technology at g-technology.com. Thanks, Greg.
Greg Crosby: Thanks, Larry.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: John Malec is the CEO of Visible Spectrum, which has created a new way of creating television commercials. Welcome, John.
John Malec: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: What is Visible Spectrum?
John Malec: We have a web based platform for creating custom video in a world that has gone wild for video.
Larry Jordan: Now, why custom video?
John Malec: Well, if you look at the whole world of video, we break it down into three general areas. One is programming, this will be sitcoms and game shows and the news and things like that; second would be social media; and the third would be custom messages, which include advertising, promotional messages, employee and communications, any kind of short form communication, generally a couple of minutes or less.
Larry Jordan: Well, why did you decide that this was necessary? People have been creating commercials and public service announcement since before both of us were born.
John Malec: They have been, but the world has changed radically in the last few years with the advent of technology to allow very fine levels of targeting in almost any digital medium. An example would be a web-based platform where you’re running ads based on an IP address of somebody viewing your website and you might, if you’re a chain, for instance, a restaurant chain, you may want to have your local franchise address and phone number overlaid on your pizza ad and, instead of creating one general pizza ad, as you may have done, you know, five years ago, suddenly you need to create 2,000 pizza ads, one for each franchise holder, and you need to trigger them, you know, based on the IP address of the person looking at your website.
Larry Jordan: So who do you envision the client is for your service?
John Malec: Anybody who uses video in their marketing program, whether it’s a web-based platform or a digital out of home network or a cable television station that’s selling to local business people who don’t have their own video. We are particularly in the sweet spot for people who need multiple custom versions of a general creative theme. An example would be somebody like a car dealer who wants to run a promotional piece for the overall line of cars but then each franchise or each dealer needs to have service hours, you know, special incentives and directions and address and URLs and phone numbers specific to that dealer.
Larry Jordan: So how does the system work?
John Malec: Well, it’s all web based, it’s all a cloud, there’s no software to download. We have a couple of ingredients to our secret sauce.
Larry Jordan: I want to hear all the secrets. Go ahead.
John Malec: The toolkit is entirely web based and contained on the platform, so you don’t need, you know, any of the editing programs on your own computer. Everything is right there, so that’s number one. Number two is WYSIWYG, as they say, What You See Is What You Get, so you are building a composition in real time and you’re seeing it evolve on your screen and you can change it.
John Malec: Everything we do is in layers so that if you overlay an image on a video background and you don’t like the image, you can simply drag another one over onto the previous screen and instantly you’re seeing the new image, which brings us to the need for a content cloud.
John Malec: We have a tide of 40 million images and video clips and audio clips in the cloud that people can do a word search on and bring into their composition.
Larry Jordan: 40 million?
John Malec: 40 million, yes. We have agreements with many of the major stock image and video providers and they can seamlessly view any of that stock material in the context of their composition on our site without first buying it.
Larry Jordan: Ok, so let me just make sure I’ve got this straight. We’ve got a web browser interface, a customer dials in and is able to search through up to 40 million images, both stills and video, and audio, to find the ones that they want and they build their own composition in the web browser so they don’t have to shoot video, they don’t have to edit video. It’s basically dragging building blocks around.
John Malec: It is dragging building blocks around. However, you can also upload your own custom video, so I would say that it’s not always the case that you don’t want to shoot any of your own video, but you may want to have your video integrated with other structural elements and, you know, fancy special effects and vector graphics and things like that, which brings us to the final part of the secret sauce.
John Malec: We are able to do 2.5D graphics, which are the purview of, you know, high end programs like Adobe After Effects. So all the motion graphics that you see in the most robust and higher end promotions are capable on our platform.
Larry Jordan: So the spot doesn’t have to look cheesy, because you can give them really high quality graphics to go with video which has been sourced from the leading stock footage houses?
John Malec: Yes, exactly, and we also can import templates that are built by creative agencies and customize them on our platform without degrading in any way the creative effort that was done by the agency.
Larry Jordan: There are really two potential customers here. One is the person who wants to create an ad, and you’ve made that very easy; the second is people who are creating content. Are you interested in people supplying you with templates?
John Malec: We are down the road a little bit, and by down the road I mean probably early in 2014. We’re a start-up, we’re pretty much in our first year of operation and we don’t have the infrastructure in place yet to accept third party stock templates for resale. We do accept them from customers. But we do see a crowd sourcing model that evolves here very early next year where that will be an important part of our business going forward.
Larry Jordan: So for somebody who wants to create a local ad, what does it cost? And let’s say they have to create ten variations of the same basic video, they just need to change the text.
John Malec: The off-the-street price, without a license, and I make that qualification because we do have volume pricing for larger customers, but the off-the-street price would be in the neighborhood of $100 for the first version and $15 for each of the customizations.
Larry Jordan: $100 for the first and $15?
John Malec: $15, yes, for each subsequent one. So if you’re doing ten, you’re out the door for $250, plus any stock that you may use which might add 10 to 50 or 80 dollars, depending on what you choose.
Larry Jordan: That is a very cool idea. When did you start?
John Malec: We started the work on this really in a previous incarnation of our company. We were running a network in sports bars called Tap TV, which we sold to a company named AMI Entertainment and to have this network be successful, we needed a way to allow the buyers to create their own content and put it on the screen. So we had a very rudimentary version of this as early as 2008 or 2009, but it did not have the 2.5D graphic capability, it didn’t have the tide of the 40 million assets and it had maybe one-tenth of the tools that our current platform has.
John Malec: So we started on it some time ago, but at this point, to do what we do, we utilized 2.7 million lines of computer code. It was a major development effort.
John Malec: The final point I’d like to make is on this automation. Companies can actually upload an Excel spreadsheet that has all the variables that will change in each version of the ad, and so the creative template that has holes, for instance, for an image and holes for a text or maybe holes for prices and you can associate those placeholders in the template with columns in your spreadsheet, so that for instance if we wanted to run an ad for each of the 32 NFL teams, we would have 32 rows; column one would be the helmet of the team and column two would be their team colors or, you know, the name of the fans or the team name or any number of variables like that and all we do is, in the computer, match the template with the spreadsheet and put the two together and automatically render all the possible combinations.
Larry Jordan: John, where can people go on the web to learn more about the work that you’re doing?
John Malec: www.visiblespectrum.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s visiblespectrum.com and John Malec is the CEO of Visible Spectrum and, John, thanks for joining us today.
John Malec: Oh, my pleasure.
Larry Jordan: Bryce Button is the Product Marketing Manager for AJA Video Systems. He’s been working in post production since the mid-‘80s and joined AJA from AutoDesk. At AJA, Bryce shapes product marketing messaging and initiatives for AJA’s entire product line, which means he converts engineering speak into English. Welcome, Bryce.
Bryce Button: Hello Larry, how are you? Good to be with you again.
Larry Jordan: We are talking to you, how can we not be a cheerful camper?
Bryce Button: There we go.
Larry Jordan: So set the scene first by giving us a short description of what AJA does.
Bryce Button: So in a nutshell, AJA makes products in three key categories –acquisition, editing and conversion – so that would go from original mini converters, which is where we began over 20 years ago, the beginning of this year was our anniversary, in fact, and then we went into editing clients, which is how Final Cut got its leg up and got going; and then, of course, into acquisitions, which was being the first to bring Pro Res recording to digital cameras and analogue cameras.
Larry Jordan: So AJA got started with mini converters?
Bryce Button: That’s correct. John Abt, our owner, used to work at Grass Valley; in fact, he was one of the designers of their original switches and when he left, he decided that he wanted to install these areas in the business where bridge products were needed and decided to go out on his own and hence AJA was born.
Larry Jordan: Well, I want to take a look first at the acquisition side. 4K is a buzz word that means higher resolution video than standard HD and specifically video that has four times the resolution of HD. At both NAB and IBC, 4K was everywhere. How does this higher resolution video affect AJA?
Bryce Button: Well, AJA has been involved in high resolution film and digital work for a long time, because we have an area of the business that’s a little blind to the public, for DCI. If you go to a theater, you will generally be watching your movie on a projection system that is likely to have some AJA equipment in it and we’ve been doing that for some time. Then, with the KONA cards, with the KONA 3G introducing 4K playback initially and then capture about three years ago now, it’s quite a long experience there. And then, of course, the cameras have now proliferated and we have brought that 2K and 4K capabilities to our acquisition line with Key Pro and that’s what helps, of course, in terms of getting through editing very quickly, because the Key Pro products are only for Pro Res and therefore you can go into edit immediately after the shoot with a 4K source.
Larry Jordan: I have to ask, how close to the train tracks are you?
Bryce Button: Well, it would appear that this train does not want to go away. This sound is coming through blocks and various other normal building material, so I’m a little surprised.
Larry Jordan: So your life is not in jeopardy at this moment?
Bryce Button: No, I certainly hope not. I’m not in Canada, so hopefully the lines are ok.
Larry Jordan: So you’ve talked about the KONA card, which is a PCI ecard, but we’re looking at all the excitement surrounding the new Mac Proc, which doesn’t have any PCI ecards in it at all. Does that mean AJA is out of business?
Bryce Button: Absolutely not. At IBC, we did a technology preview of our coming IO4K product, which will be released alongside the Mac Pro. So the IO4K is an extension of what we started with the IOXT, the IOXT being the Thunderbolt 1 editing device which will, of course, still work with Thunderbolt 2 computers. But the IO4K, as we showed it running live at IBC, will handle your HD workflows and, of course, 4K as well.
Bryce Button: And in fact, to make your life easier as you make the transition, being a Thunderbolt 2 equipped product with pass-through, so you can have storage on the back end of this product, you are going to be able to actually use its real time down conversion to HD. So let’s say you’ve got a 4K project that’s come in as source. You’ll be able to edit away and if you’re still currently running HD monitors, you’ve got a full-blown SDI and HDMI output that will do that conversion live for you and then over time, as you choose to purchase a 4K display, of course we support the 4K out as well. And that’s all done through Thunderbolt 2.
Larry Jordan: There’s a lot of debate or discussion or just plain argument that PCI ecards are superior to Thunderbolt because you can plug the card directly into the computer. Where does AJA fit in that spectrum of discussion?
Bryce Button: Well, we have products on both ends, so on the PCIE end, we have what’s known as the Corvid Ultra, and the Corvid Ultra is the most powerful hardware in the world right now for handling 4K workflows all the way up to 60P and that is a PCIE2 based product. So if you need it, we have it.
Bryce Button: There’s no reason you can’t work with a Corvid Ultra and, in fact, that Corvid Ultra is part of what we package with a scaling card, joystick controller and software and are now calling Truzoom and that is a package that’s currently being used, for instance, for NFL games, where they’re using a 4K camera at the location and then for a questionable referee call etcetera, they’re blowing into that original 4K frame using the Corvid Ultra, the choosing software and the joystick controller and pulling out a pristine HD image of a particular area of that original frame.
Larry Jordan: Ok, now wait, wait, wait. You’ve got me completely confused. So you’re capturing a 4K image and bringing that in and doing what with it?
Bryce Button: Well, it’s coming through live, right? You can be capturing that material off the 4K camera. In real time, while we’re doing that, on the output we can output to multiple HD STIs and you can be using the zoom controller, it’s like a joystick controller for games, that type of thing, where you take a 16×9 frame and you can scale that 16×9 frame from anywhere on your original 4K source.
Larry Jordan: Is this what they call regions of influence or regions of interest, where they’re taking, say, a 2,000 pixel by 1,000 pixel block of pixels from the much larger 4K image and they’re panning that region of interest inside a frame, so the camera’s stationary and it’s the panning of the actual image itself that’s changing?
Bryce Button: That’s exactly what we’re doing with the Corvid Ultra, the true scale scaling card and the Truzoom software, yes. So we basically invented that in the sense of it being affordable. So products have existed for that kind of workflow on the very high end for some time, but they literally cost about five times the price of our package.
Larry Jordan: All right, you’ve forced me to ask – what’s the Truzoom cost?
Bryce Button: So you’re looking at 8,000 for the software; you’re looking at 10,000 for the card and then the true scale card, which is doing the real time scaling – and I have to clarify, you can literally go from any size to any size – that is around 3995. And, in fact, what’s happened with suppliers like EVS is they’ve entered into an OEM relationship with us, so that for their sports broadcasting, they’re now combining that with their high end servers for broadcast needs.
Larry Jordan: So my math is rusty, but it’s roughly around 20k for the whole package?
Bryce Button: That’s correct.
Larry Jordan: So who’s the target market for Truzoom?
Bryce Button: At this point in time, the biggest target markets are obviously the sports industry, which is the heart of broadcasting today, it’s what sort of keeps people glued to television sets versus just online episodic viewing. It’s also ideal for live events, so for instance we really, through our Key Pro products, are getting used by a lot of major bands for tours. But this will be able to allow them to do is to actually have a high resolution camera like a C500 or a Sony F55 and then pull out elements of what they’re shooting on the stage to throw up on the monitors above in real time.
Larry Jordan: So for people that are doing stuff that’s recorded and edited later, the Truzoom is probably not going to be a lot of value, but for people that are doing live production, this gives a cost effective way of being able to get multiple zooms without having to have multiple cameras.
Bryce Button: That’s correct. On the second side, though, just to clarify, if you get the Corvid Ultra by itself – and this is what’s being used with Quantel’s Pablo Rio system for high end color and finishing – they’re using that simply because for the playback you’ve got pristine, deep color playback of 4K material at 60 frames per second and so right now that’s how the Pablo Rio is being used on a lot of high end productions for finishing.
Larry Jordan: For people that would like access to this but can’t afford to spend 20k for the hardware, is this a rentable item? Is this something that rental houses are picking up on?
Bryce Button: That’s likely to occur, we’ll see over time. I think for the type of audience you’re describing there, the IO4K is probably more suitable because the IO4K with Thunderbolt 2 will, of course, be able to support 60 frames per second with STP10 with the new Mac Pro.
Larry Jordan: A question that Eric is asking on the live chat – has AJA been working with the Mac Pro?
Bryce Button: Well, we’re under NDA, but yes we are a close partner of Apple’s.
Larry Jordan: You know, I just have to take a tour through your studios, that’s all there is to it just, you know, to see what’s going on. It’s not that I want to see the Mac Pro itself, that would be wrong, but if it happens to be sitting on a table, I’m glad to look at it.
Bryce Button: I’m afraid we have a special building with a special room that gets locked out and lowly people like me are not allowed in.
Larry Jordan: You know, you’re just no fun at all.
Bryce Button: But anyway, there will of course be a lot of events coming up as we get close to the Mac Pro’s release and people will be able to come see it working all live.
Larry Jordan: So the IO4K is designed for recording 4K images. It’s essentially a digital video recorder, it just works with higher resolution.
Bryce Button: It’s not a recorder. It’s a mobile extension of what we’ve done with KONA cards, right? So it’s an IO device.
Larry Jordan: Ok, help me understand the difference.
Bryce Button: So when you say recorder, we take sort of that to be an all in one device like the Key Pro product, so the recording actually happens on that device and no computer is needed. With KONA cards and the IO products, you’re of course connecting them to a computer and the results and files are being captured through hard drives and being played back off hard drives attached to your computer.
Larry Jordan: So if I wanted to attach a monitor, I would attach the monitor via the IO4K? But if I wanted to record the information I’d use, like, the Key Pro?
Bryce Button: You can use the Key Pro quad or you can go through the IO4K, because remember this is an IO editing device and it’ll be going through there and it’ll be controlled by Final Cut or Premiere, whatever your choice is, because remember Premier also does 4K and then you’re just capturing those files through your computer system and playing them back as you edit them.
Bryce Button: And then the IO4K, it’s playing that footage out off your drive to your SDI or HDMI connected display.
Larry Jordan: And is the IO4K shipping? And, if so, what’s the price?
Bryce Button: So it’s going to release at the same time as the Mac Pro and we will be announcing the price close to the release date.
Larry Jordan: Hmm, so at this point you’re doing technology demos but haven’t announced a ship date.
Bryce Button: That’s correct. The ship date will be the same as Apple.
Larry Jordan: So I just have to call Apple and say, “When are they shipping the Mac Pro?”
Bryce Button: Well, as of Tuesday we know it’s in the month of December.
Larry Jordan: Well, you know as much as I do at this point, so…
Larry Jordan: What trends are you watching for the future? Is it all high resolution, or have we got some other stuff coming along that we need to pay attention to?
Bryce Button: Oh, I think in general there’s a number of things going on. Obviously, high frame rates is a big part of things, whether you’re working in HD or above. The deep color supports, and with the Key Pro quad we’re now supporting Pro Res 4444, that’s a big deal.
Larry Jordan: Wow.
Bryce Button: And then, of course, the bridging…
Larry Jordan: Now, when you say in the Key Pro quad, when you say support, it means that you can record an image from the camera in Pro Res four by four?
Bryce Button: That’s correct.
Larry Jordan: Ok, keep going.
Bryce Button: And you can do that with HD or 4K.
Larry Jordan: Ok.
Bryce Button: So that’s important, and then of course the growing need for IP connected workflows, in other words all the way from streaming and, you know, this year we have increased our streaming capabilities of the KONA cards. When WireCast 5 comes out, you’ll be able to use your KONA 3G and actually bring in, let’s say they buy directional FPI ports on the KONA 3G, so you could hook up multiple cameras, literally do a live switch to the internet through WireCast 5. So that kind of workflow for internet needs as well as just general IT based transmissions is something that obviously we and others have been looking at quite seriously for effectively long distance needs.
Larry Jordan: Some amazing stuff to look forward to, Bryce. Where can people go on the web to learn more about the products that you’re making?
Bryce Button: So I’d love everyone to go visit www.aja.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s aja.com. Bryce Button is the Product Marketing Manager for AJA Video Systems and, Bryce, thanks for joining us today.
Bryce Button: Thank you so much, Larry. Look forward to seeing you soon.
Larry Jordan: Take care. Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Michael Bird is the owner and co-founder, along with David Cleaves, of TenEighty Media. The two partners wanted to create a resource dedicated solely to supporting high quality corporate events and broadcast and they are using high end HD production techniques to do it. Welcome, Michael.
Michael Bird: Hi, how are you?
Larry Jordan: I am talking to you, I’m having a great show so far, I expect that to continue and the pressure is all on you.
Michael Bird: Well, good, good. I’m a pressure kind of guy. Thank you.
Larry Jordan: What is TenEighty Media and what do you guys do?
Michael Bird: We do corporate and broadcast shows like, you know, corporate staging shows, awards, things like that; plus we also support broadcasts, live broadcasts. We’re kind of a weird hybrid.
Larry Jordan: Well, what does corporate staging show mean to you?
Michael Bird: Corporate staging is where, say, someone has to rollout of a certain product, maybe, a major car manufacturer or pharmaceutical, and they have, you know, their reps from all over the world come in and they roll out videos and know-how and keynote speakers and you project everything onto large either wide screen, multi-screen, you know, large HD, larger than life images, to really wow people to get them fired up to go.
Larry Jordan: What got you inspired to do this?
Michael Bird: I was kind of raised in the industry. My family are all industry people. I started off in production trucks, under age, you know, 12, 13 years old, hanging out with my brother – he was an A1 for the Texas Rangers – and I would go and hang out for the summer and hang cables and I thought these guys were the coolest guys in the world and I wanted to be like them and, you know, I love sports so I would go down on the field and in high school I was doing, back then it was South West Conference football and running for AB and it was a different job. I thought it was pretty cool and those guys who did it were really looked up to.
Larry Jordan: Yes, I grew up in remote trucks and did a lot of directing out of them and it’s just way fun. If you like it, it’s addictive and if you don’t, you wonder why anybody wants to do it at all.
Michael Bird: It was like being raised on a pirate ship.
Larry Jordan: Absolutely right. With the corporate events that you’re doing, are you doing just video IMagnification feeding to a screen or doing streaming or recording or what kind of production?
Michael Bird: We do just about all of it. They’re all different. It can be, you know, IMag, just a regular two screen, magnification of screens, or it can be high res wide screen blending, you know, the whole time recording. But also we do some HD web feeds all over the globe. Sometimes they’re webcasts, you know, sometimes it’s sat feed. It just really depends. It’s really different, you know, like the term, I call it being an AV SEAL. You land in the ballrooms or beaches or whatever and everything’s always different, you have to build it a different way.
Larry Jordan: Yes, I understand that. Have you found that live streaming is reliable enough? I mean, there have been all kinds of horror stories, trying to stream a major event.
Michael Bird: Well, it’s funny you ask that, because we were just at a downlink site a couple of weeks ago, with no help from the venue, their fiber line just went down and we tried to get a phone bridge and they didn’t have that, so instantly you know how it is, you become an IT guy and you’re online and figuring out ports and this and that and finally, you know, last minute you get it running and it goes, so there’s a lot of moving parts, you know? And if you’re not in control of it, there’s really no telling what could happen.
Larry Jordan: Well, besides scaring all of us to death…
Michael Bird: It worked, though.
Larry Jordan: …is live streaming even worth it for most people? Or are they better off just recording and posting a download video later?
Michael Bird: Everyone is different, really. You know, it really depends. I don’t know where you would save the money, in post end or just going through and doing a live cut. It really depends on the client. Everyone’s different. Everyone has a different opinion of it so, you know, basically what they tell me they want me to do it, we just do it the best we can.
Larry Jordan: Well, one of the things that you are doing is you’re working with the new Sony HDC2500 cameras. Why did you pick those and how are they working out?
Michael Bird: That was an awesome purchase. We were really, really excited about those. We picked those up because, like I said, we also do broadcast and we wanted the highest quality cameras you can possibly get for the most high end, you know, finished product and with these cameras, it’s been a pretty nice bargaining chip with people that are kind of on the fence about really to go full blown, you know, either 3G HD or whatever.
Michael Bird: We’ve had shows to where we said, “Look, if we’re going to do it with feeds, we just want you to see the difference on the large, large, large screens, where it really makes a difference,” and we’ve had the CEO come out afterwards of a certain, you know, corporation and say, “I’ve never seen it look this nice.” It’s just amazing.
Larry Jordan: Is it the camera or is it the lenses you’re using?
Michael Bird: Well, the camera, they’re beautiful. You’d probably put the same lens on a lower end camera and it wouldn’t be the same. You know, I know these are, what, 10 bit? and, you know, they also have the option for the 120 frames out and 3G. They just look amazing, especially, you know, you get on the big 18×32, you know, the larger format screens. There’s a difference, you know? It’s not soft. It’s just beautiful. The first time you see it, you’re really taken back.
Larry Jordan: What video format are you shooting?
Michael Bird: Well, it depends. You know, we do full HD, HD DSI uncompressed. It depends on the show. We record to Key Pro a lot of times, 422 Pro Res. And so after that a lot of times I don’t get to see the end, end, end product because we hand it off, but I’m always happy when I do get to see it, you know, when we’re clearing some drives, I get to pop it on and look. I’ll sit there and I have, like, the, you know, I freak out over it. I’m just like, “Wow, that looks so great.” It’s almost like I’m admiring my own golf shot.
Larry Jordan: So what you’re doing is you’re taking HD SDI, essentially uncompressed video coming off the camera, and you’re either feeding that live as part of a broadcast or you’re going to be capturing it, and if you capture it, you’re capturing it at Pro Res for editing later?
Michael Bird: Yes, that’s correct. That is correct.
Larry Jordan: How long have you had the HDC cameras?
Michael Bird: We bought them right when they first came out, I want to say about two years ago, coming on two years just about, and I’ve done shows where much bigger corporate staging companies have come into our ballroom in the same venue and their scenery engineers are just completely blown away. They’re like, “What cameras are these?” I’m like, “These are the Sony 500s,” and they’re like, “We haven’t even seen this,” and you’re going into truck engineers that I’m working with, we did, you know, a cool thing in Austin with some guys and it was a brand new truck, brand new, second gig, and they had, like, three or four 2500s and I mentioned the EIC, I’m like, “Oh, we have a couple of those. We have quite a few,” and he’s like, “What would a small corporate staging company do with those?” I’m like, “You know what? We go big or go home, baby.” Got to look good. Got to look good.
Larry Jordan: You said that you make more money because you’re using these cameras. How do they make you money?
Michael Bird: Well, you get a reputation of someone who really, really cares about the end product. You know you’re not nickel and diming someone to death when you throw up something like that and you’re very competitive in your market and you’re putting out a better product. And so word gets out, you know, we’re a smaller company, we have to sometimes work twice as hard as the bigger companies and when you’re able to do that and get those up and running, and they’re so easy to use and matching them has been a dream and, you know, we’ve even had curve balls where people have brought some of their own cameras in and we’ve had them match and it’s the ease of use – and I’ve worked with all different, you know, Grass Valleys, all the others – and I like the way they’re laid out, I like the RCTs, how they’re laid out. Even though, you know, I’ll self-shoot and things like that, it’s not uncommon for me to sit down with some of those paddles and looking at one of our life form vectors and just really getting deep into it, because that’s what I really, really enjoy doing and I love working with them.
Larry Jordan: Michael, for people who have a checkbook and want to send it in your direction, what website can they go visit?
Michael Bird: It is www.teneightymedia.com and we’d love to hear from you. We take all forms of payment.
Larry Jordan: That’s teneightymedia.com. Michael Bird is the owner and co-founder and, Michael, thanks for joining us today.
Michael Bird: I really appreciate the time. It was my pleasure.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
Larry Jordan: In the time we’ve got left, we’ve got two tech questions for Pick Our Brains, and I also want to talk about the new Mac Pro. But first, let’s tackle a couple of Pick Our Brains questions that came in via email this week.
Larry Jordan: Paul Watson said that he’d just finished a project on Final Cut 10.0.9 and it turns out that, by mistake, the timelines frame rate was set to 23.98, but all the footage was shot at 29.97 and he’s never seen any way to change frame rates. So the question is how do I change it from 23.98 to 29.97?
Larry Jordan: Well, the answer is whenever you edit your first video clip into the timeline, it will automatically match the timeline settings to the clip. But if you added a generator to the timeline, the generator allows you to specify both the frame size and the frame rate and what I suspect happened is you probably edited a slate, which is a generator, and 23.98 is the default frame rate setting, so you set the right image size but you didn’t necessarily set the right frame rate.
Larry Jordan: The way you fix this is create a new project, edit any piece of video into that new project that has the frame size and frame rate that you want, then copy the clips from the old project and paste them after that video clip that’s inside the new project. Having that video clip there locks the frame size and locks the frame rate so it won’t change as you paste the clips in. Because the clips are already 29.97, they’re going to automatically adopt the right frame rate to match the clip that’s already there.
Larry Jordan: Once you’ve got your existing edit pasted in, delete that very first clip which is simply a placeholder to lock the frame rate and frame size and everything is back to normal and you’ve reset it without having a lot of aggravation. That trick works in both Final Cut X and in Final Cut 7.
Larry Jordan: Tom C asks another question. This is about surround sound. ‘When using Adobe Audition, what’s the best way to get uncompressed multi-channel sound from the Macintosh to six surround speakers? In this case, best means both highest quality audio and cost, in other words not having to cost a fortune.’
Larry Jordan: Well, the problem with the Mac is that both the optical, the digital audio out and the headphone out are stereo, so what you have to do is you have to get an audio interface that supports multiple channels out. Presonus makes a box, it’s about 100, 150 dollars, which will support up to ten discrete audio channels out via a Firewire interface, so you plug the box in via a Firewire port or, if you’re on a Thunderbolt system, with a Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter cable and then you have up to ten channels out.
Larry Jordan: You plug your speakers directly into the back of the Presonus and you’re able to have surround monitoring using your existing speakers. What you can’t do is you can’t in real time do mixing down to a multiplexed signal. You have to have discrete channels, which Audition supports, so you would take Audition’s discrete output channels to the Presonus, the Presonus to your speakers and you’re able to monitor in surround sound.
Larry Jordan: Then, after you get the mix done, you’d run the mix through a multiplexer to create the kind of multiplex sound that you would need for actual six channel distribution. This allows you to monitor six discrete channels without having a problem. I’ve worked with this for a number of years on the surround system I’ve got upstairs and it works great.
Larry Jordan: Which gets me to other things that work great. There’s been a lot of interest in the Mac Pro and I wanted to spend about a minute talking about this before we run out of time today.
Larry Jordan: One of the things that’s most exciting about the Mac Pro is, because it is optimized for performance, we’ve got massively powerful dual channel graphics processing units – GPUs – we’ve got up to 12 CPU cores, we have up to 64 gigabytes of RAM, the solid state storage which can be up to a terabyte in size, and it’s all designed to give us the fastest possible speed, which is great if you’ve got tons of money to spend. But if you don’t have tons of money and you’re trying to decide exactly how to spend the money that you’ve got, I did some homework and, if you’re going to spend money, do you spend it on maximizing CPU speed or GPU modeling speed or RAM or storage?
Larry Jordan: And the answer is always spend your money getting the highest performance GPU that you can, because the GPU is wired into the box so you can’t change the GPU later. The second thing you want to spend money on is RAM. The third thing you want to spend money on is internal storage, because you’re best off getting less internal SSD storage and storing media – audio, video or stills – on a separate drive; and the last thing you need to care about is CPU speed, because any speed CPU can handle single stream video today.
Larry Jordan: The key factors are GPU and storage. You spend your money there; and multicam is the most taxing thing you can do and high resolution video is the second most taxing thing you can do.
Larry Jordan: I’ll have more on this in an article in my newsletter coming out on Monday. I want to thank our guests: Greg Crosby from G-Technology, John Malec of Visible Spectrum, Bryce Button of AJA Video Systems and Michael Bird of TenEighty Media.
Larry Jordan: Our producer is Cirina Catania, our engineer the ever handsome Adrian Price. Mike Horton has got the week off, he’ll be back next week. My name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to The Buzz.
Voiceover: This Digital Production Buzz was brought to you by Blackmagic Design, creators of the world’s highest quality solutions for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries.