Digital Production Buzz
October 10, 2013
[Transcripts provided by Take1.tv]
[Click here to listen to this show.]
Justin Thomson, Founder, Ashridge Films
Collin Blake, Senior Sales Engineer, Nexidia
Matthew D. Green, Assistant Research Professor, Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute
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 and joining us is our ever-affable co-host, Mr. Mike Horton.
Mike Horton: Hello, Larry, my microphone is moving. It’s moving on its own.
Larry Jordan: It’s got a poltergeist attached to it.
Mike Horton: It does. I mean, look, watch it, watch it, it’s moving.
Larry Jordan: I’m watching.
Mike Horton: I’m not touching it. It’s moving.
Larry Jordan: It just wants somebody else to talk into it.
Mike Horton: It just wants to do it this way and that way.
Larry Jordan: Listen, Mike, I’m suffering from a slight cold today, so if my voice stops, just take over the whole show.
Mike Horton: All right, no problem. I’ve got the questions right here.
Larry Jordan: Thank you. Yes, I can tell. Nobody asks questions quite the way you do.
Mike Horton: Yes, I’m interested in a lot of the guests today and I’m going to ask a lot of questions.
Larry Jordan: And the guests that we’ve got include Justin Thomson. He’s the Founder of Ashridge Films, who handles all the video production for Bestival. Have you heard of Bestival, Mike?
Mike Horton: I haven’t.
Larry Jordan: It’s the largest musical event in the world and tonight he tells us how he produces a daily highlight video covering 15 stages, over 100 acts, with 70,000 people in the audience.
Mike Horton: Wait a minute, why haven’t I heard about this?
Larry Jordan: I don’t know.
Mike Horton: I’ve not been paying attention.
Larry Jordan: You are not tuned in to the culture of the day.
Mike Horton: I am not.
Larry Jordan: Collin Blake is the Senior Sales Engineer at Nexidia, which specializes in searching media files without first converting them into text transcripts. This week, Collin explains how their system works and, more importantly, how we can take advantage of it.
Larry Jordan: Matthew Green is an Assistant Research Professor at the Johns Hopkins Security Institute. With the hacking last week at Adobe, we wanted to talk with an expert in computer security this week to learn what we can do to protect ourselves and our data.
Larry Jordan: By the way, as a reminder, we are providing 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 every show page and thanks, Take 1, for making the transcripts possible.
Mike Horton: How do they do that? Well, that’s another story.
Larry Jordan: Well, what they actually do is they listen to the show and their fingers type as fast as they can.
Mike Horton: Wow.
Larry Jordan: We send them the show audio. The show goes live on Pacific Time from six to seven. By eight o’clock we’ve got it cut up and ready for…
Mike Horton: Really? Wow. I like that. We should have them on as a guest.
Larry Jordan: We have had them on as a guest, their president, Dom Bourne.
Mike Horton: Oh…, I wasn’t there.
Larry Jordan: This is why they’re doing the transcripts. They were so impressed with the questions that you asked that they wanted to come back and do more, so…
Mike Horton: Well, as you know, I am in the early stages of dementia.
Larry Jordan: I’m not so sure “early” is the right word to use.
Mike Horton: Touché.
Larry Jordan: Anyway, Take1.tv is the folks that make these transcripts possible.
Mike, you may remember last week I announced that we had something big to talk about. Well, today, this morning, we announced a new live seminar covering 4K video and Final Cut Pro X. It’s an in-person all day seminar, November 12th in Burbank, California. I’ll have more on this later in the show, but we’re very excited because it’s our first live seminar in a couple of years. You can learn more by visiting larryjordan.biz/events and I’m looking forward to having you learn more about this, Mike. It’s really cool and I’m very excited.
Mike Horton: I’ll be there. I’ll be there.
Larry Jordan: Yes, we’re looking forward to it.
Mike Horton: How much is it? Do I get a discount?
Larry Jordan: You get a discount. In fact, if you use the word EARLYBIRD, all caps, all one word, EARLYBIRD gets you in for $20 off.
Mike Horton: I’m there.
Larry Jordan: It’s $149 normally, $129 with the discount and, Mike, we feed you. It’s great.
Mike Horton: I’m there.
Larry Jordan: Check us out on Twitter, @dpbuzz; subscribe to our newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz. We’re going to be right back with Justin Thomson right after this.
Larry Jordan: Blackmagic Design made two big announcements recently at IBC. First, the ATEM1 ME production studio switcher added a host of new features, including ten independent 6G STI inputs, each with frame sync, a built-in DVE with zoom scale and rotate, four upstream chroma keyers, three independent auxiliary outputs and a larger media pool for still frames and motion video clips.
Larry Jordan: Then Blackmagic released the public beta 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; and DaVinci Resolve Lite now supports ultra HD and additional GPUs and it’s still free. Visit blackmagicdesign.com to learn more. That’s blackmagicdesign.com.
Larry Jordan: Justin Thomson is a film maker based in London with over 20 years’ experience working in the industry. He has also, I discovered earlier today, worked extensively with our producer Cirina Catania. While he has traveled the world, what we really want to talk with him about tonight is how he covers Bestival, the world’s largest musical event. Hello Justin.
Justin Thomson: Greetings. How are you, Larry?
Larry Jordan: We are suffering from a cold, so you are sitting at the appropriate distance at this very moment in time.
Mike Horton: Yes, but I’m not, so I can ask lots of questions.
Justin Thomson: Ok, excellent.
Larry Jordan: So we’re going to start by asking what’s Bestival?
Justin Thomson: Well, Bestival is a music festival on the Isle of Wight, which is an island just off of the coast of England, and it has slowly become kind of the most popular music festival within Europe, because it’s not just a music festival but it’s also a gathering. Not quite as edgy as Burning Man, but in that direction. So everybody loves it because it’s not a very corporate feel but you get amazing music and line-ups like no other festival has.
Larry Jordan: Yes, I’ve always known it as the Isle of Wight Festival. I’ve never known of it as Bestival, ’cause I see it on Palladium all the time.
Justin Thomson: Well, there are two festivals, so there is the Isle of Wight Festival, so you’re correct and then Bestival is the last music festival of the festival season and I think my favorite thing about it is they do a theme each year and this year’s theme was basically underwater and sea life and on the Saturday everybody dresses up in costumes that goes along with the theme, so it’s basically just a big wild party.
Larry Jordan: I saw some of the videos and we’ll talk more about those in just a second, but how did you first get involved with this?
Justin Thomson: Well, I got involved with a friend of mine, Patrick Tichy, who is friends with the founders who created the festival and about five years ago we just went and were hanging out and we were fortunate enough to have backstage passes and Patrick Tichy is an exceptionally good photographer and film maker and we just kind of got bored hanging out, so we went to them and said, “Listen, do you mind if we…” and I had my video camera with me and we said, you know, “Do you mind if we just start videotaping some things and taking some photographs?” and they said, “Sure, no problem,” and the result was so good that they then asked the next year and they said, “Well, do you guys want to do it kind of in an official capacity,” and it started out with just a team of two, but they’ve seen the value of the videos, because they’ve become so popular, doing highlight videos, that they have increased and now we have a team of ten and we have multiple camera teams and octocopters and everything. So it’s become really, really exciting for us.
Mike Horton: Oh, man, I’d love to do what you do.
Larry Jordan: For people that want to take a look, if you go to YouTube and just do a YouTube search for Bestival, you’ll find dozens of videos there, so rather than give you a single address, we’ll just send you to YouTube. What did you shoot at this year’s event with your team of ten?
Justin Thomson: So do you mean equipment wise?
Larry Jordan: No, we’ll get to equipment. I’m talking content.
Justin Thomson: So content, we shoot everything, because we basically try to compress the entire feeling of the festival into a two to three minute video each day of everything that happened and there are four days that go on, so it’s very, very long days, because the venue’s quite big – there are 60 plus thousand people, there are about 15 different stages with six main stages and then supplementary, you know, smaller venues that you need to go do and there are over 100 different performances and acts and we try to cover as much of that as we possibly can. So it’s a lot of running around, but we’re very fortunate – because Bestival is such a character festival, it’s easy to get good content.
Justin Thomson: If we were shooting something like V Festival, which is very, very corporate and there’s not a lot of interesting things going on outside of the acts, that would be much more challenging, so we’re actually pretty lucky to have a fantastic product to shoot.
Larry Jordan: In other words, because people are dressing strange and acting weird, you got more stuff to take pictures of?
Justin Thomson: Exactly.
Larry Jordan: One Edit A Day has got a question on editing and production techniques, I’ll get to your question in a second, but first talk about the planning process. The show happens once a year. How far in advance do you start planning? Or do you just sort of wing it when you get there?
Justin Thomson: Well, because we’ve done it a number of years now, it’s become a little bit easier. We kind of have an idea of the different things that we need and the team’s become a little bit bigger so, you know, also we’re doing a highlight reel, so what we do is our pre-production consists of looking down, seeing what acts are playing when, what teams need to go and be at those spaces and we have the advantage that we don’t need to film the entire act. We can maybe get the first ten minutes of a performance and get pretty much all the content that we need, because we then have to get the footage to the runners so that they can bring it back to the production trailer so they can start inputting it.
Larry Jordan: Well, these are some significantly big acts. What kind of licensing or shooting restrictions do you have to work with?
Justin Thomson: So that’s actually the tricky part. Well, it’s usually not the act. Most of the acts are really fantastic performers. You know, they love what they’re doing. It’s the managers which can be a little bit more challenging so some of them are super cool, they don’t mind where you are; onstage, backstage, front of the stage, for however long. We’re quite lucky because, you know, we have all access, so we pretty much get to do whatever we want.
Justin Thomson: Now there are some performers where I guess their managers like to make themselves feel really important. For example, a very, very big act, we had such a restriction that, you know, we could only take essentially one photograph of the performer from backstage when they were standing with their arms raised and that was it.
Larry Jordan: And only from the left side.
Justin Thomson: Yes, exactly, so it was very, very, very particular. But for the most part, everybody is quite cool. It’s a little bit of a challenge now and then to try to get really dynamic shots because after doing a number of years, you don’t want the shots to be too repetitive, you know, you get the same angles, but still while not getting in the way of the actual performer. But then you have those magical moments when you have a performer that just completely connects with the camera and they start interacting with you and they take you along on this energetic tour where they jump into the pit and they’re, you know, interacting with the audience and that’s what I love about doing the job. That’s my favorite moment.
Larry Jordan: Well, let’s shift gears from the content to the gear. What are you using for gear to shoot?
Justin Thomson: So we are shooting with Canon 5Ds, mark 3s and 2s. We had a, it was the same on the octocopter, and then we also had a Sony FS700, because we wanted to do some slow motion stuff for this year’s highlight reel. And I have to say, you know, I’ve used the Sony FS700 on other production shoots for music videos and things like that. I don’t know if you’ve worked with it. It’s a decent camera. It just feels like everything is in the wrong place.
Mike Horton: Well, it does look weird in pictures anyway.
Justin Thomson: Yes, I think if you’re in a controlled environment it works very, very well. I mean, it’s impressive, the capabilities that it can do, the quality of the footage at that high a frame rate, but if you’re in a more dynamic scenario, you know, especially at Bestival when you’re running, you know, through the crowds and you’re trying to jump on stage and get the footage, there were just a lot of very, very frustrating points to it.
Justin Thomson: So I’d say if you’re in a controlled environment, it’s perfect. But if you’re in a much more, you know, like war zone, then it’s probably not the best camera.
Larry Jordan: Are your DSLRs heavily accessorized? Or you pretty much just use them in front of your eye?
Justin Thomson: You know, it just depends on the person who’s using the equipment. Some of the camera guys like to use the little loopholes to get a better view of the screen. I personally, I’m just a little bit more from the hip. Again, we have the advantage, you know, we don’t have any audio issues because it’s a highlight reel, so we know there’s a soundtrack that’s going to go over it, so it’s just purely just get it done and I make very, very energetic shots.
Mike Horton: One of the knocks I’ve heard against DSLR cameras is their inability to focus in run and gun shooting. How do you get around that?
Justin Thomson: Just practice, and I think, you know, it comes down to the style of what you’re trying to, you know, we’re not trying to do a glossy, you know, feature film. I think that that would, you know, that is much more difficult in that case, but for us, you know, it’s ok if it’s a little bit out of focus and often, you know, I’ll purposely push it out of focus and then come in sharp and then blow it out again because the light’s been kind of star out or whatever it is. So, you know, we do have flexibility, given what the ultimate result needs to be.
Mike Horton: With all that flexibility, are you using zooms? Or is anybody using primes?
Justin Thomson: I love my 50 fixed.
Mike Horton: Really?
Justin Thomson: That is my favorite lens. I use it as much as humanly possible.
Mike Horton: So are you the guy up on the stage?
Justin Thomson: I am that guy.
Mike Horton: Ok.
Justin Thomson: And I think it’s a little bit easier because there are a lot of, Bestival has a lot of DJ sets, so you have really big names like Carl Cox or Fat Boy Slim and when, you know, you can get much closer to them and when you have that lens on the decks with the lights, also, you know, if you have, you know, they can just soak in so much light in the darkness. It just becomes very, very, very dynamic in the shot, so I love it. It’s my favorite.
Mike Horton: Right. So are you using those 1.4s or 1.2s?
Justin Thomson: We use 1.2s…
Mike Horton: Whoa!
Justin Thomson: … and we use 1.4s.
Mike Horton: Oh gosh.
Larry Jordan: All right, Mike wants to be on your crew next year.
Mike Horton: Oh.
Larry Jordan: I want to get back to…
Mike Horton: They’re so expensive, those lenses.
Larry Jordan: I want to get back to One Edit A Day’s question before we run out of time. What software are you using to edit? And do you have to worry about sound sync at all, or is everything you do just video only against a track?
Justin Thomson: Everything is video only against the track. It’s final cut and I think our biggest advantage is we have an incredible editor, Becky Bincliffe. She does all of, ironically, Sony’s promos in the UK and she has the toughest job, because she just sits in the trailer and she’s just receiving tons of footage.
Justin Thomson: It’s all about managing your footage, because we have a fantastic DI tech, Elle Marshall. You’re in a very, very difficult scenario where you have lots of, you know, footage coming in and where’s the CF card and where is it from this act and blah, blah, blah and you have to have somebody that’s basically like the ultimate German and have them very, very set of, “Ok, when you’re in my house, this is the process and then, you know, when you’re out of my house, then you can do what you want,” and they both did an outstanding job.
Mike Horton: Wow.
Larry Jordan: Oh, one other thing, what version of Final Cut? Seven or ten?
Justin Thomson: I think she’s using seven, if I remember correctly.
Larry Jordan: How do you manage to concentrate as a videographer when everybody around you is in the middle of a wild party?
Justin Thomson: Well, actually, I just try to join it for the most part. I put my earplugs in but, you know, I’m so focused on getting the shot. I love it. You know, everybody’s having a good time around you, nobody’s grumpy. It’s easy to get very, very good footage, so yes, I don’t see any problem with it.
Larry Jordan: For people that want to see more of your work, where can they go on the web to take a look?
Justin Thomson: Well, our website is www.ashridgefilms.com.
Larry Jordan: Yes, I went there, but not a single link worked.
Mike Horton: Yes.
Larry Jordan: I couldn’t see a single piece of video.
Justin Thomson: Well, that’s because we don’t put up our own video, we just keep it so you can contact us and send us emails, but the best place if you want to follow me is actually on Instagram – BeJustIncredible – and then you can delve into my life backstage, onstage and around the world.
Larry Jordan: And also for people that want to see Bestival footage, YouTube, just do a YouTube search for Bestival and you’ll see dozens and dozens of videos.
Mike Horton: Oh, I want to be you.
Larry Jordan: Michael, it would kill you.
Justin Thomson: Well, we’ll probably have a bigger crew next year, so come and join us.
Mike Horton: All right. Make it 11, all right.
Larry Jordan: Justin, thank you so much. The website for Justin is ashridgefilms.com. Justin Thomson’s the Founder and one of the videographers at Bestival. Justin, thanks for joining us today.
Mike Horton: Yes.
Justin Thomson: Thank you both, Larry and Michael, very much.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Nexidia Dialog Search allows users to quickly search large archives of media based solely on the spoken word, which means we can search our media files using standard text queries without first creating transcripts. Collin Blake is a Senior Sales Engineer with all the answers on how this magic works. Welcome, Collin.
Collin Blake: Oh, thank you for having me.
Larry Jordan: Let’s start at the beginning. Tell us what Nexidia does.
Collin Blake: Yes, so Nexidia was started or kind of got its beginning back in 1997 as part of a research project at Georgia Tech. There were some researchers that were looking to be able to search the archives of Senator Sam Millen and were having problems with the technology that was available on the market, partially due to his accent – he pronounced nuclear as ‘nucler’, for example.
Mike Horton: Just like George Bush.
Collin Blake: Yes, exactly. So, you know, that kind of spurred the research project and what came out of it was a fundamentally new approach to searching speech based on phonetics; and so over the last, well, over a decade now, that technology has been applied to a number of different areas. The largest portion of our business thus far has been in the telecom area, where we perform analytics for many of the Fortune 500 companies. That part of the business analyzes over a million hours of audio per day.
Larry Jordan: Now wait, wait, wait. Let’s just slow down for a second. First, when you say it’s working on phonetics, what does that mean? Tell us how the magic sauce works.
Collin Blake: Yes, so phonemes are the smallest units of speech, so words are made of syllables and syllables are made of phonemes and those phonemes, there’s a relatively small set of them that are unique to each language and while some people might pronounce them slightly differently from one speaker to another, they generally stay the same over the course of time, so it’s not like a dictionary where words are added and words fall out of favor. The phonemes in the English language are very steady over time and so, you know, the technology is all based on those fundamental building blocks of language.
Larry Jordan: So when you’re doing a Dialog search, what you’re doing is what? We’re taking a text phrase and trying to look for that in phonemes?
Collin Blake: Yes, basically. So, you know, we start out by taking a look at the set of media and performing an initial pass to do an analysis and basically what we’re doing is creating an index of the phonemes in that content and that makes it then quickly searchable at a later point. When you enter a text query, we match that text to a set of phonemes using the language models that we have available for that particular language that’s being searched and then we compare that string of phonemes to the audio that we had analyzed ahead of time in order to provide results.
Larry Jordan: Now, this reminds me a lot of a product I heard of a few years ago called Get. Was Nexidia involved with that?
Collin Blake: I’m not familiar with that product. The two products that are probably most familiar to your audience that we have been involved with are Avid Phrase Find and Script Sync. And Nexidia powers both of those products, so those might be familiar to you.
Larry Jordan: I had a chance to visit Nexidia’s website. Does Nexidia view its market as end users or developers who create products for end users?
Collin Blake: It could be both. So Dialog Search is definitely targeted more at end users or potentially integrators, you know, looking to do something a little bit higher lever. But we do also license our underlying technology to integrators that want to design their own products around that.
Larry Jordan: Well, you said that telecom, meaning, like, telephone companies, are using the technology. What are they using it for?
Collin Blake: Yes, so the call center business is a big piece of that, so if you are running a call center for a large corporation, you want to be able to perform analytics about why people are calling, are your operators sticking to the script? Are they informing you that your call might be recorded for quality assurance? And so Nexidia is kind of the technology that’s sitting behind the scenes analyzing that data, because it’s frankly far too much data for humans to have to sort through all of it.
Mike Horton: I think I used it just today.
Larry Jordan: How so?
Mike Horton: With AT&T, because they ask you, instead of typing stuff, they ask you to say something and they recognize what you say, because I have a voice like you, Larry. They understand me.
Larry Jordan: In other words, you have diction is what you’re saying.
Mike Horton: I have diction.
Larry Jordan: You’ve mentioned the fact that it’s in Avid Script Sync and Avid Phrase Find. Are you also in Boris Soundbite?
Collin Blake: We are as well, yes.
Mike Horton: Holy cow, these guys are everywhere.
Larry Jordan: Yes.
Mike Horton: Siri, are you there?
Larry Jordan: Is this the same technology that Adobe is using in its speech to text translation in Premier Pro?
Collin Blake: It is not.
Mike Horton: Aha!
Collin Blake: We do have a Premier Pro panel, which enables search directly within Premier Pro and that’ll be coming out here very soon, but that is a different technology; and you actually hit on a key point and that is, that the Nexidia technology is not speech to text. You do not get a transcript out, so it’s really in the opposite direction – you have text you want to search for. We map that to the phonemes to the individual sounds and conduct the query that way.
Larry Jordan: You know, Mike and I were talking about this before the show. It seems analogous. Phonemes are the sound version of a visual pixel and what you’re doing is you’re analyzing the content of pixels without actually worrying about what the actual image is that the pixels are creating. Is that a good analogy?
Collin Blake: Yes, I think that’s a pretty good analogy.
Larry Jordan: See, Mike, I got a good analogy.
Mike Horton: It was a very good analogy.
Larry Jordan: Thank you very much. I feel much better already. Can we do this with live material or does it have to be recorded?
Collin Blake: So the Dialog Search product is intended for file based workflows only. There’s nothing in the technology that inhibits, you know, the use in live streams, but that’s not the target market for Dialog Search itself.
Larry Jordan: So basically, trying to wade through mountains and mountains of recorded material and then analyze it and then deliver that to a database so that you can do further analysis?
Collin Blake: Yes. The way we work is that you would basically hook us up with either a Watch folder or a series of Watch folders on a server or somewhere on your network or a media asset management system and we currently integrate with a media asset manager called CatDV and we’re also working on integration with several other media assets managers, and that’ll be a focus of our next few releases. But we comb the files that are out there on the file system or in the media asset manager, we index them – that happens at hundreds of time real time so, you know, in a day you can process thousands of hours of contact on a standard… machine – and once that content is indexed, it never needs to be done again, so it’s searchable.
Larry Jordan: Collin, we haven’t even begun to touch on examples and we’re just about out of time. What I want to do is bring you back a little later in the show and talk about specific ways that film makers can use this technology. Can you join us then?
Collin Blake: Yes, absolutely, that’d be great.
Mike Horton: Wonderful.
Larry Jordan: All right, we’ll bring you back in a few minutes.
Collin Blake: All right, thank you.
Larry Jordan: Take care.
Larry Jordan: Dr Matthew Green is an Assistant Research Professor at the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute. His research includes – now, Mike, listen to this very carefully.
Mike Horton: I am.
Larry Jordan: His research includes techniques for privacy enhanced information storage, anonymous payment systems and bilinear map-based cryptography, which certainly sounds impressive. With all the news about NSA snooping and Adobe being hacked last week, we figured it was time to take a new look at security, which is why we decided to invite Matthew back to explain everything that we don’t know about security. Matthew, welcome.
Matthew Green: Hi, it’s nice to be here.
Larry Jordan: We are delighted to have you here, but I have to start with the most basic question first – what does an Assistant Research Professor at Johns Hopkins University do?
Matthew Green: Well, you know, as the title would imply, I mostly do research, sometimes I teach, but what I mostly do is I look at the security of real information systems and I try to make them more secure or, in some cases, break them.
Larry Jordan: When you say real information systems, what does that mean?
Matthew Green: Well, I mean, some people who teach in my field look at things that are new systems that are research systems that are maybe ten years out from actually being used. My specialization is in systems that are actually being used today, so that is, you know, the kinds of things that you encounter when you store your data on the internet.
Mike Horton: So Matthew, are you one of those guys who gets invited to the Vegas hacking conferences and things like that and try to break systems?
Matthew Green: You know, my wife won’t let me go to those conferences.
Mike Horton: Ah!
Matthew Green: Too much fun but, yes, those are the kinds of places I’d like to be.
Larry Jordan: Security has been the forefront of the news recently, both with NSA allegedly spying on millions of Americans and the recent hacking of Adobe, which seems to me that there are two issues here. First is how do hackers get access to the data? And then second, how are they able to read it? So how do they get access?
Matthew Green: Well, the fact of the matter is that we’re just not very good at making secure systems, so Adobe and companies like them, they have a problem which is they have to take your information, they have to read it off the internet, because that’s how we buy things from Adobe, we have to put that information up, they have servers sitting connected to the internet. They have to make sure that people can’t get into them except in the ways they’re supposed to be access. The problem is that software has bugs in it and a lot of software has bugs in it. The software that Adobe was using probably had some kind of vulnerability that allowed somebody to get into the server, make it do what they wanted instead of what Adobe wanted and then ultimately read the data right off.
Larry Jordan: Well, first, have you any relationship with Adobe or have you been involved in their hacking at all?
Matthew Green: No, no, I have not, definitely not been involved in their hacking but, yes, no, I am not involved with Adobe.
Larry Jordan: Ok, in case there was, I thought we’d get that out in the public record, as it was. But, I mean, how would somebody go about accessing data? What I’m ultimately going to get to is how paranoid we should be with our own data on our own networks, but for right now let’s just take a look at the bigger picture. How do they start to get in?
Matthew Green: Well there are a lot of different ways. What typically happens is people have lists of software that has bugs in it. A lot of companies don’t stay completely up to date on the latest software on their servers and so what happens is there are a lot of people out there who trade vulnerabilities. There are whole markets for people who know that there’s a particular bug in this particular piece of software, and they will either sell it to you or they’ll just tell you about it, depending on how valuable it is.
Matthew Green: They trade this information and then other people are very good at using that and some people even have tools; you can basically point at a server and it will just sort of pop the server open and let you get in, as though you’re an authorized user.
Mike Horton: It might be just the way we’re asking the questions, but you make it sound like this is really kind of easy, to get into some of these systems.
Matthew Green: Some of the systems, it’s easy to get into. Now, not every system. My guess is that Adobe, you know, being a large company, really did have good people protecting their servers, so the kind of people who get into companies like that, they’re usually very skilled. But the problem is that those kind of very skilled hackers are good too and it’s hard to prevent them from getting in.
Larry Jordan: You have a wonderful blog. Well, it’s wonderful up until the math starts, at least. Recently, you wrote about a company called RSA, if I remember correctly, which is a leading encryption provider shipping software whose default settings were challenged as faulty as early as seven years ago. What was that about and why is the industry so reluctant to take security seriously?
Matthew Green: Well, that is a whole different story and the story there actually is kind of a little more cloak and dagger. So the more recent story that’s been published in bunch of newspapers is that the US National Security Agency, it turns out, has actually been going out and weakening security standards, particularly just to make it easier for them to spy on people who are in other countries.
Matthew Green: One of the companies who was caught is potentially collaborating with the NSA was RSA. They may have included a weaker random number generator, and so that’s what that’s about. I don’t think that’s so much hackers breaking into things. Probably the NSA is not after most of our information, so that’s ok, but still kind of worrisome.
Larry Jordan: So getting back to the encryption stuff, the RSA stuff, is how the data is encoded, how it’s stored in a protected format. It’s not accessed, but being able to encrypt the data. Is that true?
Matthew Green: Right, so encryption is a really good way to protect this data; so encryption means that you’re turning it into code so that even if somebody gets the data off the server, say, they get a copy of it, they can’t actually read it.
Mike Horton: Well, yes, let’s be clear here. On the Adobe hacking, all that was encrypted, so they don’t know if it was decrypted and, well, we will if our credit card companies contact us and say, “You have a very large purchase in some place in the Middle East,” or someplace.
Matthew Green: Right, exactly, and that’s what we should be looking out for.
Larry Jordan: So back to the Adobe hacking, Adobe mentioned that not only user names and passwords were stolen, but source code may have been stolen as well. How does that figure into the problem?
Matthew Green: So that’s the really kind of worrisome part about this. We all use Adobe products – maybe not everybody, but most of us, if you use Adobe Acrobat on your web browser to read .pdf files, or if you have Flash installed and you need Flash to go to a lot of websites. These particular programs have been a big avenue for hackers to get onto people’s computers, and I don’t mean, you know, servers, I mean your personal computer.
Matthew Green: These programs have had a lot of vulnerabilities in them and have let people basically install malware – you know what malware is, it’s the software that you don’t want on your computer – and up until now, the way that hackers found these bugs in those programs was by looking at the programs you could buy and kind of pecking at them and looking for holes. But if you have the source code, all of a sudden it becomes about ten to 100 times easier to find new bugs in those programs, and so that’s the reason that the source code part is so scary – it means all of our computers are now less secure.
Larry Jordan: So how does a company, say a smaller company, determine if it’s been hacked? And, again, I’m getting back to the paranoid issue for smaller business owners now.
Matthew Green: And that’s the thing about hacking, is that even really, really secure companies can sometimes go six months before they realize that, you know, “Wait a second, somebody got into our systems.” You know, the trick that a lot of companies resort to is what they do is they create a bunch of fake accounts, fake accounts that don’t really exist, email addresses for example, and they register those email addresses and they look for those email addresses to actually turn up in the wild; and sometimes that’s the first sign that a company has that their customer database has been stolen, is that that these fake names are suddenly showing up on the internet.
Larry Jordan: Well, Adobe, Apple and Microsoft have all had security issues, as on our live chat One Edit A Day writes, ‘Is there really a holy grail to a safe cloud? Or do we avoid the cloud and the internet altogether?’
Matthew Green: So I don’t think we live in a world where you can avoid the cloud and the internet, unfortunately. I think even if you can avoid it today, in five or ten years you’re going to be stuck trusting it in some way. What we’re learning is how to do a lot better at this. I think a few years ago, companies kind of thought security was a luxury and now they’re realizing it’s a definite necessity and they’re getting better at it, which is good.
Matthew Green: The problem is the hackers are getting better too, so we’re never going to be free of this stuff, it’s always going to exist. What we hope to do is cut it down by ten times or 100 times. We’ll see.
Mike Horton: Are there always going to be people smarter than you?
Matthew Green: Yes. Oh my God, yes, and these people are brilliant. I mean, the people who do this stuff, they sit in front of computers all day, they look at code, they find the tiniest little vulnerability you could never have thought of and they exploit it and they get into your systems.
Larry Jordan: Well, most of us would love to hire a security expert to protect our data, but most of us probably can’t afford it, even if you came cheap. What steps can we take to protect our data and systems?
Larry Jordan: How about encryption? Do we need to worry about encrypting our emails or encrypting files? Where does that fit in to the whole equation?
Matthew Green: Well, I mean, definitely if you have, for example, a Mac, there’s a built-in feature called File Vault and if you go into the Control Panel, you can just turn it on. I think that’s a great idea. But that’s more for people stealing your laptop. Maybe that’s a worry for you, but it’s not really hackers.
Matthew Green: What is good is that companies are starting to turn on encryption for a lot of web services, so if you ever look in your browser and you see that little lock up in the corner, usually when you’re buying something on the internet, for example, what you’ll probably notice is that lock appears a lot more often these days, so even when you’re checking your email, oftentimes you’ll see that lock. You should always look for that. Learn to look for it when you’re doing something that involves private data and if you don’t see it, that’s a worry.
Mike Horton: This all sounds like global warming. We’re all screwed.
Matthew Green: Yes, a little bit.
Larry Jordan: A website that has https, the letter ‘s’ after http indicates it’s a secure site. Is that true?
Matthew Green: That’s right.
Larry Jordan: So for companies that ha…
Mike Horton: Well, wait a minute. What do they do that the http sites don’t do?
Larry Jordan: All right. Matthew?
Matthew Green: Sure. What they do is when you have that lock and when you have that https up in there, it means that the connection between your computer and the web server is encrypted and so it doesn’t matter if you’re sitting in a Starbucks and somebody can listen in on everything that’s going over the wireless connection, it’s encrypted and you are protected, so your information is not going to be in somebody else’s hands.
Mike Horton: And then how easy is it to decrypt encrypted files?
Matthew Green: Yes, it’s very hard to do it, it’s very hard to do it.
Mike Horton: Ok.
Matthew Green: The one caveat I will give you is that somebody has to be able to decrypt it, and that’s ultimately the company. So take Adobe, for example. If you use a secure connection to buy something on Adobe, your connection is secure – nobody who’s outside of Adobe should be able to steal it.
Matthew Green: But Adobe itself, of course, has to know your name and your credit card number because they have to be able to charge you, and that’s why people who hack into Adobe are such a concern, is the encryption doesn’t protect you there, because there the information might be available to them.
Larry Jordan: For companies that have the money, where can they find reliable security consultants to make sure their systems are secure? And how do we tell if the security consultant actually knows what they’re talking about?
Matthew Green: Well, there are a few companies I’d recommend. Off the top of my head, Matasano is a good one. Another one is ISEC Partners. I hear Leviathan Security is good. Those are the names I can think of. Those are companies that will basically come into your product or your organization and tell you if you’re doing a good job. But as to the other question, I’m not quite sure how to answer it.
Larry Jordan: How to tell if they actually know what they’re talking about?
Matthew Green: Those guys I know do know what they’re talking about, but some people don’t, so it’s hard to say.
Larry Jordan: So now that we’ve established the fact that you’ve got a career path that will keep you busy from now until you retire, what project are you working on currently?
Matthew Green: Well, I’m working on something’s kind of off to the side of everything you just said, and that is I’m working on privacy, I’m working on ways that you can actually pay people, while preserving your anonymity. So for example, if you want to buy something and you want to have it be as anonymous as cash but you want to buy it on the internet, that’s the project I’m working on and that’s not something you’re going to see in a week or two. It’s a little bit more long term, but that’s my research.
Mike Horton: Privacy, there’s a concept. Ok.
Matthew Green: Yes.
Larry Jordan: Matthew, where can people go to learn more about you and the work that you’re doing?
Matthew Green: Well, you mentioned I have a blog. That’s kind of where I write to people. It’s a technical blog, but it’s not aimed at cryptographers, it’s aimed at people who know something about tech and are interested in this field.
Larry Jordan: And the address is?
Matthew Green: It’s blog.cryptographyengineering.com.
Mike Horton: Yes, now lose the math.
Larry Jordan: Now, that’s blog.cryptographyengineering.com and Dr Matthew Green is an Assistant Research Professor at Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute and, Matthew, thanks for joining us today.
Matthew Green: Oh, it was nice to be here.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
Matthew Green: Bye.
Larry Jordan: Earlier in the program, we were talking with Collin Blake, the Senior Sales Engineer for Nexidia, about their technology that allows us to search media files without first transcribing them. We spent a lot of time talking about the technology but didn’t have enough time to talk about practical applications. Welcome back, Collin, good to have you with us.
Collin Blake: Thanks for having me back.
Larry Jordan: So what I want to focus on now are some specific examples of how this search technology is used, and let’s start with the high end and we’ll move ourselves down to the lower end. How are broadcasters using your products?
Collin Blake: Yes, so we just put out a press release here during IBC, that PBS is going to be using our technology, or they already are using our technology, and one of the things that we found with a lot of customers is that the broadcasters are going through and digitizing a lot of their archives and in a lot of cases they don’t have a lot of metadata associated with that and so they are, you know, finding that they’ve got all this content available to them now but not a great way to search it, at least not until somebody goes through and puts the effort in to generating good metadata; and so being able to search the words that people said in that content provides them a very useful way to discover that content and find what they’re looking for and the interface that we provide is a simple web page, so anybody who knows how to use Google can really figure out how to use Dialog Search.
Collin Blake: We also had another interesting story with a local affiliate here in Atlanta, WSB – they’re part of the Cox Media Group – that had just paid, similarly, to digitize about 40,000 hours’ worth of their news archives and back in, I guess it was in August they were producing a segment on the Civil Rights Movement for the 50th anniversary of I Have A Dream and so they were looking through their archives, trying to find relevant content to use in that. They’d spent about 80 hours indexing their 40,000 hour archive and spent about a week searching through their media asset management system using traditional metadata search methods and weren’t really finding what they were looking for, and so they decided to take a look at this trial of Dialog Search that they were doing and within just a few minutes were actually able to discover an original live feed of the I Have A Dream speech that they didn’t know that they had.
Mike Horton: Wow.
Larry Jordan: Wow.
Collin Blake: So that really was a compelling use case for them and right there probably paid for itself.
Larry Jordan: So what’s involved in getting Dialog Search installed?
Collin Blake: Yes, so there’s the server piece of it – it runs on our Windows server. The hardware specs aren’t anything too fantastic. Basically, the larger processor used for it the faster we’ll be able to index. We like to have solid state drives to search on, the database runs faster because we do a lot of random access and solid state drives perform better in that case.
Collin Blake: And then we install the server component on that machine and the clients are using just a web page to be able to search and, when they find a clip that they’re interested in, they pull up a preview window that plays that video in the web browser with timecoded hits for each of the occurrences of the search term within that player.
Larry Jordan: Well, let’s step down a level from the broadcasters to film makers and independents. You mentioned Script Sync and Phrase Search with Avid. Tell us about those.
Collin Blake: Yes, so those are much more kind of project based, so where Dialog Search is looking at an archive, Phrase Find or Script Sync are much more designed to be working on the selection of clips that you have in the editor at one time and so you might be searching, you know, hours instead of thousands of hours and that’s what the Phrase Find product is all about.
Collin Blake: Script Sync will allow you to take a script and a piece of content and time align to one another and so, you know, if you are then wanting to find, you know, the video that corresponds with a particular portion of the script, that’s what you’re able to do with that product.
Larry Jordan: And how about what Boris is doing with Soundbite?
Collin Blake: That’s also analogous to Phrase Find, so it’s kind of this search capability at a project level.
Larry Jordan: So all we have to really do is to point this search at wherever the media is and it’ll go off and index it and then we can query it.
Collin Blake: Right. So, you know, that’s in the Dialog Search product. We take care of that as kind of a pre-processing step. The other products that we mentioned – the Phrase Find and Soundbite – there’s not that pre-processing step but there’s, you know, some time you have to wait in order to perform the query at that time.
Larry Jordan: Can we use this technology to create closed captions?
Collin Blake: No, and that kind of goes back to the fact that we don’t create a transcript, so we never map the sounds that we hear to words. We take the words that you search for and map them to sounds.
Larry Jordan: Now, why not just take it to the next step and create a transcript?
Collin Blake: Well there have been a lot of companies that have been trying to crack that nut over the years and what we’ve found and what a lot of companies, Google included, has found that the best accuracy that you can hope for is in the range of 60 to 70 percent across a wide variety of speakers and types of content.
Collin Blake: And there are a few problems there. There’s speaker accents, there’s also words that don’t exist in the dictionary so when you try and convert something to text, you rely on that being in your dictionary and so if there’s an unusual name or the name of a place that doesn’t exist, it’s not going to be in your dictionary and your speech to text engine is going to try and still map that speech to something that it recognizes, which is going to be wrong, and consequently if you try and search for that, you wont be able to find it.
Collin Blake: And so, you know, the drawback with our technology is you don’t get a transcript, but on the positive side, our search accuracy is much, much higher and we can find things that you wouldn’t be able to find on a dictionary based approach. Oftentimes, those words are the most important to find as well – the names of people, places and things.
Larry Jordan: I’m just taking notes here for a second. You mentioned that one of the things that you wanted to integrate more with is media asset management. What other features are you looking at for the future?
Collin Blake: Yes, so we are looking to integrate with other media asset managers and basically that’s going to make it easier for people that have large media archives in other asset managers to point our system at their media. But Dialog Search itself also has an application for ramming interface, and that allows you to conduct all of those search features that a user would normally do through the web interface natively in the application, and so we’ve actually used that API ourselves to create a Premier Pro panel to be able to search an archive directly within Premier Pro. You find a hit and a clip that you want to use, you drag that directly to your timeline and you can be editing with it.
Collin Blake: But that API is available to customers and, yes, so we can use it ourselves but our customers are free to use it and integrate it into their own workflows, and so we see some good potential use cases for that as well.
Larry Jordan: Collin, for people that want to learn more, where can they go on the web?
Collin Blake: They can go to www.nexidia.tv.
Larry Jordan: That’s nexidia.tv and Collin Blake is the Senior Sales Engineer for Nexidia and, Collin, thanks for joining us today.
Collin Blake: Thank you very much for having me.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Ok, Mike, it’s time. Are you ready?
Mike Horton: No. I lost it.
Larry Jordan: All right, well…
Mike Horton: I’m finding it right now. Here it is, got it.
Larry Jordan: Ok, are you ready?
Mike Horton: Ok, yes.
Larry Jordan: The lights dim and the man steps up to the microphone and says it’s time for…
Mike Horton: Pick Our Brains. I was just seeing if you were paying attention.
Larry Jordan: I was paying attention.
Mike Horton: Thank you, Larry, for holding the finger down.
Larry Jordan: It was probably not your best effort, but dramatically the pause was incredible.
Mike Horton: No, but this is a really good question. This is a technique question. This is something that people have problems with all of the time. It’s a Final Cut X question.
Larry Jordan: Ok, but it actually applies to multiple softwares.
Mike Horton: It could apply to anything. ‘I shot an interview against a white backdrop, but the background is not white enough,’ which means he didn’t light it very well. ‘My client wanted a apple background, but since we did not light it up,’ see, told you, ‘it looks a bit grey. Is there an easy way to make it whiter?’ So remember, he’s shot an interview against a white backdrop and he wants to make the backdrop whiter.
Larry Jordan: As long as it’s reasonably white, it’s easy. If he shot at medium to dark grey and needs to make it white, it gets harder. The easiest way to do that is to take the clip and load it into your color corrector – in Final Cut X, you go to the inspector, click on the color corrector panel – and when you switch over, there’s three buttons inside Final Cut X that allows you to adjust exposure, saturation and color.
Larry Jordan: What you want to do is go to the exposure panel and drag up the highlights puck so that you’re increasing the white level of the highlights. As long as nothing else in the image is brighter than the background in terms of grey scale, it’ll pull the background up. This is a technique we use all the time when we shoot against a white background, because there’s always something in a white background that isn’t perfect.
Larry Jordan: If, on the other hand, you’re – and, by the way, adjusting the highlights is true in Premiere, CS6, CC, Final Cut 7 and Final Cut 6, any color corrector’s got a slider that allows you to adjust the highlights and you just push the whites up until they blow out, they max at 100 percent. Where things get tricky, though, is if the background is so dark that you’re now pulling up too much of the face or you’re pulling up a white shirt too much. At this point, you might want to do a map or a key specifically keyed around that grey area, or you might need to do a… on the person in the middle to make sure that their white shirt doesn’t get too hot or their face doesn’t get too hot. At that point, it gets trickier. But simply pushing up the grayscale value of the whites to push the whites into 100 percent, so they’re as white as they can be, is done all the time.
Mike Horton: Ok. If it were me, I’d just bring it into DaVinci Resolve. It’s free.
Larry Jordan: That’s true if you’ve got the DaVinci Resolve and you know how to use the software.
Mike Horton: Yes. I do, kind of.
Larry Jordan: You see, you’re just… you are amazing.
Mike Horton: I sort of do. I would know how to do that.
Larry Jordan: Your technical skills leave me speechless.
Mike Horton: No, honestly, I would know how to do that with DaVinci Resolve. Nothing else though.
Larry Jordan: No. Well, you’re doing well, Mike.
Mike Horton: Nothing else.
Larry Jordan: There’s hope for you and humanity in general.
Mike Horton: I need to take a few of your seminars. I will be at the 4K seminar.
Larry Jordan: Thinking of that, we announced today a brand new seminar, my company did. 4K and Final Cut Pro X. We are getting ready to start the pilot season. A lot of people are doing documentaries, Hollywood’s looking to create pilots and they’re trying to figure out how to deal with higher resolution video; 4K, 5K, 6K, we’ve got 4K images and all from HD…
Mike Horton: Hey, that’s no problem with Final Cut X. Is there going to be a Final Cut X 4K kind of thing?
Larry Jordan: Well, Final Cut now currently out of the box supports 5K images.
Mike Horton: Right.
Larry Jordan: But the trick is not just the software, but the whole infrastructure. How do you deal with the files? How do you deal with storage? What do you need for bandwidth? So what we’ve done is we’ve assembled a great group of people to specifically answer questions like how do I save money by avoiding mistakes? And is Final Cut X ready for prime time? And we’ve got companies such as LumaForge, which is working on some multi-mega movies.
Mike Horton: Sam Messman, yes.
Larry Jordan: Sam Messman, Chief Workflow Architect, is going to do a presentation; Neil Smith, the CEO of LumaForge, who is setting up all these hardware infrastructures, is going to do a presentation.
Mike Horton: And Neil can talk.
Larry Jordan: Bryce Button, Product Manager from AJA; Kendall Eckman from Blackmagic Design; the world famous Philip Hodgetts talking about metadata and how you can keep track of your media.
Mike Horton: Is this an all day thing?
Larry Jordan: It’s an all day seminar.
Mike Horton: Oh, ok.
Larry Jordan: Jess Hartmann, CEO of ProMAX is going to be talking; Mark Anderson from G Technology.
Mike Horton: Holy cow, you’ve got an all star panel there.
Larry Jordan: Tim Jones, the CEO from the Tolis Group, talking about archiving. We’ll have demos, hardware and software. It starts at nine o’clock in the morning.
Mike Horton: What about Michael Horton?
Larry Jordan: Michael Horton is invited and, if he wears a clean shirt, we’ll let him speak, but the chances are slim. Anyway, it’s going to be at the Pickwick Gardens Conference Center, that’s in downtown Burbank. It’s Tuesday November 12th and to learn more we’d love to have you join us, learn more, go to Larryjordan.biz/event and if you use the registration code, EARLYBIRD, you’ll get a $20 discount. The price, including breakfast and lunch, is $129 with the discount and we’d love to see you there. The room only holds 140 people.
Mike Horton: Wow, this will sell out.
Larry Jordan: And there’s plenty of time to get your questions answered, because the people that have the answers will be there, so I’m really excited.
Mike Horton: Including me.
Larry Jordan: And the thing I like best, Mike, is it’s the first seminar that we’ve done that’s live in two years and I’m really hoping it’s successful because if it is we’ll do more.
Mike Horton: Oh, holy cow, you’ve got a heck of a team there.
Larry Jordan: Yes, really pleased.
Mike Horton: This is an all star panel and I would urge you to go.
Larry Jordan: It’s very cool, we’re excited. And there’s some cool new technology that’s going to be announced there, which I can’t talk about yet.
Mike Horton: Hey, by the way, if the Mac Pro comes out, will you show it?
Larry Jordan: Yes.
Mike Horton: Ok.
Larry Jordan: If I can get my hands on it, I may have to mug a few people in Cupertino but we will.
Mike Horton: Because they’re having a October 22nd thing.
Larry Jordan: It is rumored that they’re announcing it on October 22nd.
Mike Horton: Yes. I know the iPads are being announced. We know that for sure. But we don’t know about the Mac Pro. Well, it could be.
Larry Jordan: It could be, but you never know.
Mike Horton: It could be announced that the ship date is going to be the day after your seminar.
Larry Jordan: In which case, we are going to have a wonderful time talking about it. That’s larryjordan.biz/event and you can learn a lot more. Mike, it’s been a great show. You did a fabulous job.
Mike Horton: I asked some questions.
Larry Jordan: And not only that, but you had a great Pick Our Brains question. I was really impressed.
Mike Horton: Yes, that was great, yes.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests, Justin Thomson, the Founder of Ashridge Films talking about Bestival; Collin Blake, Senior Sales Engineer at Nexidia on how to search media files without first creating transcripts…
Mike Horton: That’s cool, that thing.
Larry Jordan: Very cool. And Dr Matthew Green, Assistant Research Professor at the Johns Hopkins Security Institute, helping us protect ourselves and our data. There’s a lot happening at The Buzz between shows. Visit digitalproductionbuzz.com, click ‘Latest News’. We update this several times a day with the latest in news from our industry. You can talk with us on Twitter, @dpbuzz, and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com.
Larry Jordan: Music on The Buzz provided by SmartSound. Our producer is Cirina Catania. On behalf of the ever-handsome Mike Horton, my name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to The Digital Production Buzz.
Mike Horton: Goodbye all.
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