Digital Production Buzz
October 3, 2013
[Transcripts provided by Take1.tv]
[Click here to listen to this show.]
Russo Anastasio, President, Shapeshifter
Bob Kovacs, Editor, Government Video magazine
Jerome Courshon, Film Distribution Expert
Patrick Sculley, Founder/CEO, PixelFlow
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. Production, post production, distribution. What’s really happening now and in your digital future? The Buzz is live now.
Larry Jordan: 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 as our co-host is the effervescent Mr. Mike Horton.
Mike Horton: Hello, everybody.
Larry Jordan: We’ve got some really great guests and interesting news for you today. We’re going to start with Russo Anastasio. He’s the president of ShapeShifter, which is an LA-based post house that specializes in format conversions…
Mike Horton: I love that name, by the way, ShapeShifter.
Larry Jordan: …And color grading and, with so much legacy footage needing to be converted, Russo joins us to explain how to make standard def. footage look as good as it can in HD.
Larry Jordan: We’ll also be joined by Jerome Courshon. He’s a film distribution expert focusing on independent films. He recently completed a training course on the secret to distribution and, since making money on our projects allows us to create new one, we invited Jerome to join us to learn how to make money in distribution.
Larry Jordan: Patrick Sculley is the CEO of Pixelflow, a cloud-based service that allows content creators to share, review and deliver video online. Since all of us are still trying to figure out the best way to collaborate via the cloud, we asked Patrick to share his thoughts with us this week.
Mike Horton: And boy is he coming in at a good time.
Larry Jordan: The big news this week was what happened earlier today when Adobe announced that its Creative Cloud website was hacked. What did you find out?
Mike Horton: Well, 2.9 million people were compromised.
Larry Jordan: How many?
Mike Horton: 2.9 million, that’s what Adobe is saying; their credit card and debit card information. They even went so far as to say that the source code was also compromised – how much they don’t know. Everything is encrypted, has it been decrypted? There is information out there, all you have to do is Google it but, Larry, you were right! I always kid you about security and the cloud and all that kind of stuff, but this is a pretty big deal.
Larry Jordan: It’s a huge deal and, by the way, if you go to blogs.adobe.com, you’ll be able to navigate down to their listing. As a precaution, Adobe says they are resetting relevant customer passwords to help prevent unauthorized access to Adobe ID accounts. If your User ID or Password were involved, you’ll receive an email notification from Adobe on how to change your password. They’re also in the process of notifying customers whose credit card or debit card information we believe to be involved in the incident.
Larry Jordan: If your information was involved you’ll receive a notification letter from Adobe with additional information on steps you can take to help protect yourself against potential misuse of personal information. They have notified the banks processing customer payments for Adobe, so they can work with the payment card companies and credit issuing banks to help protect customer accounts, and they’ve also contacted Federal Law Enforcement and are assisting in their investigation.
Mike Horton: Right now everybody should just change your password.
Larry Jordan: Absolutely, change your password because that’s the best thing. If you’re using the same password on Adobe Creative Cloud as you use on other accounts, a strong recommendation is change your password wherever you’ve duplicated it; change it elsewhere.
Mike Horton: Oh crap, really?
Larry Jordan: Yeah, you’ve got to change it everywhere, Michael.
Mike Horton: I’ll change mine to ‘Larry Jordan was right’. I’d better change that one, because I use it for everything.
Larry Jordan: Hacking is never good. They’ve also compromised the source code as well, for some of the Adobe applications.
Mike Horton: They say that, but all this stuff is encrypted. Whether they’ve decrypted it yet, who knows.
Larry Jordan: It’s still going to be a mess.
Mike Horton: Well, I know, it’s not good. That, coupled with the Tesla battery fire! All these things that you thought couldn’t be compromised and shut down… bad week! Oh god, Larry.
Larry Jordan: Let me know when you’re done.
Mike Horton: I’m going to have another sip of wine.
Larry Jordan: By the way, on the good news front, we’re getting a lot of positive comments on our new 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, and thanks to Take1.tv for making them possible.
Larry Jordan: Remember to visit us on Facebook at DigitalProductionBuzz.com. We’re also on Twitter: @dpbuzz. You know, Mike I was thinking this is the perfect time for Pick Our Brains to have a Premiere Pro question.
Mike Horton: I got one for you that’s so confusing I don’t get it, but you’re Larry Jordan and you’ll get it and you will teach me something, because it’s the only reason I show up!
Larry Jordan: Visit with us on Twitter @dpbuzz, and subscribe to our weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com for all the latest news on both our show and the industry. We’ll be right back with Russo Anastasio.
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Larry Jordan: Blackmagic Design made two big announcements earlier this month at IBC in Amsterdam. First, the ATEM 1 ME production studio switcher added more new features such as ten independent 6G-SDI inputs, each with frame sync, a built-in DVE with zoom, scale and rotate; four upstream chromakeyers; three independent auxiliary outputs and a larger media pool for still frames and motion video clips.
Larry Jordan: Blackmagic also released the public beta of DaVinci Resolve X. This major update includes improved project integration for multiple editing systems, upgraded on-set tools, support for Open FX plug-ins and the ability to create DCP packages inside Resolve for projects destined for theatrical delivery. Da Vince Resolve Lite now supports Ultra HD and more GPUs. Visit blackmagicdesign.com to learn more.
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Larry Jordan: Russo Anastasio is the President of ShapeShifter, a 12 year-old post-production house based in Los Angeles. Recently they used Blackmagic Design’s Teranex and DaVinci Resolve to finish the Mel Brooks PBS documentary, “Make a Noise.” Specifically, they handled all the color correction and format conversions for the documentary, which included converting archival footage from five decades of Mel Brooks’ performances.
Russo Anastasio: Hi Larry.
Larry Jordan: Tell us first, why did you decide to start ShapeShifter all those many years ago?
Russo Anastasio: Well it was kind of a rush decision, actually. If I had thought about it, I think I might have thought twice. As it turned out, I was working as Chief Engineer at a facility called Bedlam, and the head editor, who was my partner, Dean Chew, was at the time eyeing Soft Image DS and just at the moment that Avid bought that machine the company that we were working for moved to the West Side, and at that point there was kind of a void for some of our bigger clients that were doing DVD extras, and he looked at that machine and said, ‘we could move from this linear editor and do all the mastering and the online with the Avid DS.’ He said he was going to buy one of these and put it in his garage and I said I’ll come with you and we’ll start a real company, and that’s how it started.
Larry Jordan: So what are some of your clients currently?
Russo Anastasio: Well, we do a lot of documentaries. We do television shows for PBS, and A&E. We do a lot of reality shows, a bit of scripted shows and we do regular features on the indie level. Like I said, we do a lot of reality shows and a lot of promo and some trailers. So it’s a real mixed bag of a big spectrum.
Larry Jordan: I was visiting your website – thinking about clients and looking at your image gallery – and, by the way, your website is beautiful, it’s shapeshifterpost.com for those that want to check it out. One of the things that I was struck by was that there’s lots and lots of your offices and general areas but almost none of the edit suites themselves. Are you finding that the clients are more interested in the amenities or in the technology you provide?
Russo Anastasio: It’s a good question. I think a lot of the clients come in and they don’t really know what we’re really using, what’s under the hood. They come in and they expect to get their work done but they’re not as big of gear heads as you and your audience are, for sure. They just come in to get the job done. For example, we’ve put in a DVI [Cavia] Matrix Router, which enables us to switch from any machine right from the edit bay with a flip of the keyboard. So you can be operating a DS or a Symphony or a Final Cut, Smoke on Mac or Premier Pro, and all the CPUs are on this switch. What we’ll do is shift between the different systems with the client just sitting there, and if the client brings something in that they did on Final Cut but we’re mastering it in Smoke, we’ll switch between the two seamlessly; the client doesn’t even notice. All they know is they’re getting their job done.
Larry Jordan: What services do you specialize in? What are your strengths?
Russo Anastasio: You know, we do a lot of audio mixing. We have three 5.1 bays. We do color correction…
Larry Jordan: 5.1 meaning you do surround mixes?
Yes, surround mixes. One of the bays also does 7-1, but we don’t get too much call for 7.1.
Larry Jordan: Speaking of 7.1 – excuse me for interrupting, but I’m the ignorant one, I have to ask these questions – what is the big difference and why is there little call between 7.1 and 5.1?
Russo Anastasio: I think 7.1 is really for theatrical and broadcast TV is all 5.1. So we’re pretty much doing everything in 5.1. But then again, we’re just working on The Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013, and that had a very brief theatrical release, and that was a 5.1 mix. So I guess a lot of theatrical stuff is 5.1, but I think some of the higher end trailers and features want a 7.1 mix.
Larry Jordan: Let’s talk about a specific show that you’re working on, which is American Masters, Mel Brooks’ Make a Noise, which you did for PBS.
Mike Horton: And I saw that, it was wonderful.
Larry Jordan: What was your role on that project?
Russo Anastasio: We did all the picture finishing. So we did the online, we did the color correction and we were very instrumental in getting the project upres too, which was a huge part of that job.
Larry Jordan: That’s exactly what I want to talk about. You must have had so many different formats to work with. How difficult was it to manage all the legacy clips?
Russo Anastasio: It was quite challenging. One of the biggest issues was the editorial house kind of just handed us off a drive and it had a timeline that had seven layers, literally. This happens a lot to us, actually. I always try to protect ourselves by saying we need to consolidate the sequence as good as possible and bring it to us and have it perfect so that it just flows right into our system but we inevitable end up doing a lot of edit assist type work up front.
Larry Jordan: The clients always nod their head and they always screw it up. But don’t say yes, I don’t want to get you in trouble; what did you find was the best way to convert older, standard def media for use on the show, and what format did you convert to?
Russo Anastasio: Well, the delivery for the show was 1080, 59.94.
Larry Jordan: 1080 P or I?
Russo Anastasio: 1080 I. That’s what PBS wants. So most of the archival footage was NTSC, 29.97. So with that stuff, we ran all that stuff through the Teranex, which far and away does a better job than even some of the software stuff that we’ve played with for upresing.
Larry Jordan: That’s a Black Magic design Teranex box. Why did you pick it, because I thought it was only for tape based media?
Mike Horton: It’s so fast!
Russo Anastasio: Well, you know, a lot of the archival stuff was tape-based. You know, we would get digital beta, so it was NTSC clips and I think pretty much all of it was from tape. So we just ran that through the Teranex and actually would overcut it.
Larry Jordan: What does overcut mean?
Russo Anastasio: Well, the editorial house gave us a reference of the documentary, and so we would have that as a source. Also, on their timeline they would have the NTSC clips just kind of thrown there in their native resolution, and so we had the whole sequence timeline in front of us, and we would upres each clip, convert the sequence to High Definition and we would just overcut the upres clips where they belonged in the timeline as we go.
Larry Jordan: How would you handle frame rate conversation, because there’s a lot of confusion over how to go from 24 to 25, or 25 to 30, 30 to 24. How do you handle that?
Russo Anastasio: There was a number of ways. This job was delivering in 59.94, so most of those clips were at 29.97 fps, which is basically 59.94 at 30 base. So we didn’t have to do frame rate conversions. However, the director shot in 4K on the red for his interviews, at 23.98 fps.
Larry Jordan: Which is wrong at so many levels for that!
Russo Anastasio: It is. The director, Robert Trachtenberg, who is a kind of a renowned stills photographer, too, he had a very precise vision about what he wanted and he had this really cool backdrop. If you watch the feature, you can see it on PBS’s website, he had a nice backdrop for his interviews and he really wanted to have his artistic vision come through, and he wanted it to be shot at 24 frames because he wanted to have that look. Meanwhile, everything else, all the archival footage, is 29.97, and the editorial house cut it at 29.97 fps. So what we did was we matched back to the original red raw files, and we created a 24 frame sequence, brought the reference into that, overcut the red raw footage onto that timeline at 23.98 fps, and did an actual 4K color correction session with the red footage at 23.98 fps.
Larry Jordan: How did you get it to 59.94?
Russo Anastasio: After we went through and color corrected all the interview footage at 23.98 we would play it out in HD through the Teranex box, and we had the Teranex add pull down to it. That way we got that nice cadence that you expect to see when you’re watching television, which is usually at 59.94 fps so that is matched from film.
Larry Jordan: So basically you took the output of the color graded session and played it live through the Teranex and captured it back from the Teranex to a different system?
Russo Anastasio: To the Avid Symphony, yes.
Larry Jordan: Wow!
Russo Anastasio: Because in the meantime the Avid Symphony editor was building out the show in 59.94 drop frame, cut the clock and we would be mastering. So we’re going crazy, we’re upresing things, we’re doing a color session with the 23.98 stuff. That is all getting compiled into the Symphony timeline and our Symphony editor was placing those in and overcutting the entire show with the newly high-res clips. All during this process, he would take an AAF file from that session and bounce that over to Randy Coonfield who is our colorist, working on the Resolve, and he was working also in a 30 frame timeline, 59.94 frame timeline with the master show as it would appear on PBS – the 59.94fps.
Larry Jordan: Your brains must have exploded during this! How long did it take?
Russo Anastasio: It took quite a long time. I don’t really know the exact amount of hours.
Larry Jordan: Days or weeks?
Russo Anastasio: Weeks.
Mike Horton: I just remember the documentary which, as you know, was just a great documentary with Mel Brooks – I could watch him forever – but essentially the interviews with Mel Brooks were in a studio with a grey backdrop behind a table.
Russo Anastasio: Right.
Mike Horton: Shot at 4K, right?
Russo Anastasio: Shoot at 4K. That way we could do some framing, we could zoom in, we really could work with it in post.
Larry Jordan: And you did, over and over and over again!
Mike Horton: And over for weeks!
Larry Jordan: What project do you have in house that you can talk about? Anything exciting?
Russo Anastasio: Let’s see. Well, we’re working on Crossroads 2013, the concert. It’s a big job, a five hour concert and it’s coming out on Blu Ray pretty soon. It had a theatrical release. We’re working on South Beach Tow here. We do Beyond Scared Straights. Those are a couple of reality shows, and we do a lot of promos for Disney.
Larry Jordan: So you’re not starving?
Russo Anastasio: No, we’re not! We have a lot of pans in the fire.
Mike Horton: That’s great.
Larry Jordan: What website can people go to, to learn more about you?
Russo Anastasio: Our main website is Shapeshifterpost.com.
Mike Horton: It’s a nice clean website, good job!
Larry Jordan: Shapeshifterpost.com and Russo Anastasio is the President of ShapeShifter. Russo, thanks for joining us, today.
Russo Anastasio: Thank you, Larry. Thank you, Michael.
Larry Jordan: Good luck, take care. Bye bye.
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Larry Jordan: Bob Kovacs is the editor of Government Video Magazine and one of the driving forces behind the upcoming Government Video Expo, opening in Washington DC a little later this year. Welcome, Bob!
Bob Kovacs: Thank you very much, nice to be here.
Larry Jordan: It is a delight having you with us today. When did you join Government Video Magazine?
Bob Kovacs: Not very long ago. I started there as the editor on August 19th, I think, so it’s only been about a month and a half.
Larry Jordan: Nothing like jumping into the middle of the fire!
Mike Horton: Let’s ask him really hard questions then.
Bob Kovacs: That’s right, that’s right! Hit me with your best shot.
Larry Jordan: We’ll give you something simple to get started with; when is GV Expo this year?
Bob Kovacs: It is December 3rd to 5th.
Larry Jordan: Where is it?
Bob Kovacs: It’s at the Walter Washington DC Convention Center, and it’s on New York Avenue in Washington DC, in the north-west section of Washington DC.
Mike Horton: Wait a minute, where are you, Bob?
Bob Kovacs: Right now, I’m at home in the Washington DC suburbs.
Mike Horton: So you know the area and how to get there, you don’t have to Google it?
Bob Kovacs: No, I’ve been there many times.
Larry Jordan: Well, there’s a fair number of mid-sized trade shows, and I think Government Video would qualify for that description, but what makes GV Expo special?
Bob Kovacs: First of all, it targets the government video community. When you hear government video, you probably tend to think Federal government and there is an enormous amount of video going on in the Federal government and, of course, a lot of those people are in the Washington DC area, but there’s also a heck of a lot of really excellent video being made at all levels of government, from counties and cities to state level and, of course, Federal government and it really is across the board.
Bob Kovacs: In fact, every week I’ve been offering what we call the Government Video salute to a government video channel, and those have been all over the place. It was the New York City Department of Transportation one day, and it was the Arizona Game and Fish Department another week, and it was Montgomery County, Maryland’s TV system another week. So it’s all over the place. These people are making terrific video that is as good as anything you watch on TV.
Larry Jordan: So DV Expo, the Digital Video Expo just finished. Is there anything that happened at DV Expo that GV Expo can either learn from or build on?
Bob Kovacs: The DV Expo more or less targets the video production community, not necessarily the government production community. So there’s going to be more Hollywood types in there and more emphasis on video production. At the Government Video Expo, we have certainly a strong production component, but we also have other aspects of video, such as law enforcement, surveillance and other aspects like public education in government channels which do public access on your local cable TV systems. We’re the better show for those kind of people. If they want to learn how to swim in that pond, we’re the better show for them.
Larry Jordan: There’s so much information available on the internet, from manufacturers and people that cater to manufacturers, why should someone even bother to come to a trade show? Are they still a viable thing?
Bob Kovacs: Well, you’re talking to a guy who absolutely loves trade shows. I mean to me, I’m an equipment geek from many years ago. I was born an equipment geek, came out of the womb holding some electronic device, and when I go to a trade show and I smell that smell of freshly opened cartons of electronic gear and the soft sub-audible hum that that gear makes in the background, you’re talking close to orgasmic quality for me!
Bob Kovacs: So, to me, that’s one of the wonders of the trade show, being able to go there and see that gear and to talk to people who know how to use it, and to compare the Sonys with the Panasonics, with the JVCs with the Canons, and that’s all part of the wonder of a trade show. We will certainly offer that in spades at the Government Video Expo.
Mike Horton: I’m kind of with you, and I also think even more important is that you get that face-to-face that you do not get in that virtual world called the internet and it’s very important to get that face-to-face and actually see and touch.
Bob Kovacs: I think that’s an important part of this is the social aspect of it. Not only do you get to see and touch the gear, but you get to rub shoulders with your peers.
Larry Jordan: What’s been the impact now that Federal shutdown has occurred? There’s got to be a lot of people running around scared at the moment.
Bob Kovacs: Yes, we don’t know yet. Our show is sufficiently far off being in early December that I really don’t think that it’s going to affect us, but maybe, you just don’t know. I wish these nets would get their spoils in order and get the business done.
Mike Horton: We want to apologize to our global listeners for all this nonsense that’s going on.
Bob Kovacs: But by the way, it hasn’t affected traffic here. There’s still traffic jams on all the highways.
Mike Horton: That’s good.
Bob Kovacs: Whatever the government employees are doing, it hasn’t affected the traffic.
Mike Horton: They’re still driving.
Larry Jordan: Is GV Expo just exhibits, or do you have conferences and training as well?
Bob Kovacs: There’s lots of conferences and training, and a lot of that is focused across the board. Some of it has to do with how to reach out to possible government entities and contract with them to do video. There’s a straight ahead learning sessions on things like lighting and what is HEDC and coding? And why is it going to be important in the coming years? So there’s plenty of learning and classroom kind of sessions as well as close to 200 exhibitors.
Larry Jordan: That’s very good.
Mike Horton: Government video is huge!
Larry Jordan: Well, one of the things that Bob mentions is it’s much more than just the Federal government, although it’s located in Washington.
Mike Horton: Let’s hope the Federal government, which employs a lot of people and does a lot of video will get their act together by December 3rd if not tomorrow!
Bob Kovacs: You can go to so many different places. You can go to the California Department of Motor Vehicles or, as I mentioned earlier, the New York City Department of Transportation, just Google them and you’ll get this video channel that they produce on YouTube and these videos are literally as good as anything you’ll watch on TV.
Mike Horton: I have a lot of buddies who do government videos and these things are as good as anything out there.
Bob Kovacs: They’re entertaining, they’re fun, they’re creative. Great stuff!
Larry Jordan: What special things have you got planned for the Expo this year that we need to pay attention to?
Bob Kovacs: Well, we’re going to have a couple of keynote speakers, and we’re still lining those up. One that I have high hopes for is a guy who’s one of the main guys responsible for NASA’s television operations. I’m hoping he will be available to talk to us about how NASA puts together its television programming and I’m specially interested in how he’s using the new 4K cameras. These are coming down the pipe at us pretty darned rapidly, and NASA is at the forefront of that in government TV, so I’m hoping he’s going to be able to talk about that.
Mike Horton: I think you ought to get John Boehner and Mitch McConnell to show up and that would be a lot of fun.
Bob Kovacs: If we could strap some boxing gloves on them, man, we could charge some serious money!
Mike Horton: I’ll be there!
Larry Jordan: For people who want more information, where can they go on the web to learn what you guys have planned?
Bob Kovacs: Well, for the Government Video Expo, it’s gvexpo.com and hopefully everything you’ll need in the short term is going to be there and we will be updating that site with more information as we get it, like who the final keynote speakers are going to be.
Larry Jordan: And the magazine?
Bob Kovacs: Of course the magazine is at governmentvideo.com.
Larry Jordan: Bob Kovacs is the editor of Government Video Magazine. Bob, thanks for joining us today.
Bob Kovacs: It’s been a pleasure, thank you.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
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Larry Jordan: Jerome Courshon is one of today’s leading experts in independent film distribution. He teaches a course called The Secrets to Distribution: Get your Movie Distributed Now, to both beginning and established producers and directors. Welcome, Jerome!
Jerome Courshon: Hello, how are you guys?
Larry Jordan: We’re talking to you; we are doing great.
Mike Horton: Thanks for doing this. I’m actually thinking seriously of buying this DVD.
Jerome Courshon: I’ll give you a good discount!
Mike Horton: Thank you very much!
Larry Jordan: Before we get to the DVD, what got you interested in distribution in the first place?
Jerome Courshon: Well, it’s a bit of a circuitous journey, but I more or less backed into it from my own journey on my first movie and then working with colleagues, helping them on their movies and then being inundated with requests from around the country when I started writing about distribution for the Film magazines. So that led to eventually doing an evening class to see how it went, found I enjoyed it, expanded it to a one-day class and then eventually a two-day class and now this three-day physical program, but I still do a live two-day class about once a year in LA.
Larry Jordan: Why is it so hard for producers to be successful in getting their own distribution?
Jerome Courshon: (laughing) That’s a great question, and my feeling is that most producers, even veteran producers, if you’ve been in the industry for a while you tend to think you know everything. Most veteran producers I meet think they know everything about the industry, and that’s simply not true, and things change as well. So I think that for veteran producers sometimes it’s just a matter of what can I learn from this younger guy, Jerome Courshon? I probably can’t learn anything from him. Or other people out there that teach about this and, you know, I think that’s part of it but I think there’s probably about five different answers to that question. I think for young producers, those who are starting out, they’re really into the creative aspect of film making and they haven’t realized yet that they must master the business side if they want a sustainable career. Whether someone’s a newbie or a veteran, I think the reasons are different.
Larry Jordan: They don’t teach you that at film school, do they?
Jerome Courshon: No, they really don’t.
Larry Jordan: What do you see as the biggest obstacles to getting distribution?
Jerome Courshon: One of the biggest obstacles to getting – I want to say distribution – but let’s say to getting a good deal is that oftentimes producers make bad deals. They’ll make an alright deal, which in today’s climate, if it’s not the eight deal, if you’re not getting a good advance, a good upfront amount of money, then making an all rights deal for a small amount of money – an all rights means all North American rights, from theatrical to DVD to VOD to internet to Television – making all rights deals frequently result, in the independent film world, in bad deals being made, which then results in the producer not maybe recouping his budget, not making a profit, having trouble raising financing for his follow-up films and so forth.
Mike Horton: Well, creative people are always really passionate about what they do, which is one of the reasons they do what they do and the fact that somebody likes what they do means they practically give it away just because somebody liked it.
Jerome Courshon: Well yes, that’s true, and here’s the other thing that I find, especially with people who’ve spent two to four years making a movie. They’re exhausted; they’re tired. You know, someone knocks on their door who loves their movie and the film maker or the producer falls in love with this person because it’s been a desert, and now they’re like, wow, I’m going to make a deal, and they don’t really then examine what that deal entails and what the implications are for the rights they’re licensing.
Larry Jordan: So bottom line, besides let’s buy your DVD and learn all we can learn is do you need a lawyer?
Jerome Courshon: Yes, negotiate, or at least review your long form contract, that’s a minimum to do that. Also, depending on the level of experience of a producer, maybe they can negotiate the main points just between them and the distributor. I can do that and a lot of people can do that when they’ve been in the industry for a while. But then when you get down to these 20 or 30 page contracts, you need to have a really good attorney, not one who is just a general practice entertainment attorney but one who actually negotiates and reads through these distribution contracts regularly because that’s important. Otherwise paragraphs get missed, clauses get missed, mechanisms aren’t in place to protect the producer, oftentimes.
Larry Jordan: We’ve established that we need an attorney, do producers need to have an agent?
Jerome Courshon: Well, yes and no. there are a lot of producers out there who don’t have agents. If you want to package something, certainly having an agent helps that process.
Larry Jordan: What does package mean to you?
Jerome Courshon: Packaging, for instance producer Joe wants to get Brad Pitt into his project or he wants some names in the project and if he’s with, say, one of the top agencies, the agency can help bring those elements to the project to facilitate it being funded and made.
Larry Jordan: What’s the different between an agent and a sales agent?
Jerome Courshon: I don’t know if I have time to answer that! Well, the agent that I’m talking about right now is a talent agent, like somebody at ICM or UTA or CAA. The lines get blurred here, and I don’t want to send your audience down a ‘what the heck is he talking about’ road, but the top agencies in LA, as I think you know, have independent film divisions and a number of the agents in each of those divisions can represent completed projects. They can represent incomplete projects, and so they will show up at Sundance repping some films.
Jerome Courshon: If you’re talking about a foreign sales agent – I don’t know how detailed you want me to get here with the distinctions – that’s someone who represents films that will sell into the international territories, and most of those companies are based in Los Angeles, but there are some in many countries around the world. We call them foreign sales agents here in America, even though many are based here and they sell into the international markets.
Mike Horton: Here’s a very familiar situation that happens all the time. I’ve mortgaged my house and I’ve mortgaged all my credit cards, I’ve made my movie, and I’ve submitted it to Sundance and it gets accepted. I have no money left and my movie has been accepted into Sundance…
Jerome Courshon: You played the lottery by getting the slot at Sundance.
Mike Horton: Exactly, and that’s a big bloody deal, and all those other movies that have been accepted to Sundance have those producers’ agents who are going to be repping them, and they’re doing all sorts of wonderful marketing things. I got nothing left, what do I do?
Jerome Courshon: It’s simple! You gave me an easy question. First of all, if you win the lottery and you get programmed at Sundance, every single major producer rep will want to represent your film. All the top agencies, the top five agencies in Los Angeles will want to rep your film. You can have the pick of the litter, more than likely, and one of them will rep your film, and you’ll have to raise some money if you really want to position your film in the best way possible, and you can do that on Kickstarter or Indiegogo or Gofundme or whatever the other sites are.
Mike Horton: Okay, that easy!
Jerome Courshon: Yes! I mean, seriously, if you’ve got a film at Sundance you not only want to have representation, you’re going to want to have an attorney online so to speak. You’re going to want to hire a PR firm to help create buzz before the screening actually happens, because you need those acquisitions executives from all the distributors. You need them at the first screening of your film. They all compile lists of the films they must see when they get to Sundance, and if you’re not on one of those lists then what happens is your movie screens, or your documentary screens and there’s so many films there you’re probably not going to get buzz if you didn’t build it ahead of time, and then two or three screenings later they all go well, I didn’t hear anything about the film, it mustn’t be any good or it’s not worth my buying it, so a sale doesn’t happen.
Larry Jordan: Well, it sounds to me like what you’re saying is planning for distribution needs to start during preproduction.
Jerome Courshon: Well, it really should. I think that when producers are savvy enough to go okay, who’s my audience for the film? Who am I making this film for, besides my own personal gratification or whatever, who is this film going to be marketed to? What in the script will help me market this film? What can I do during production that will start aggregating an audience? So that when the film is done and it starts doing festivals or I make a deal with somebody and it’s going to go roll out, I’ve already got an audience built for this film. I mean all of this is so important today, partly because the marketplace is so glutted with so many thousands of films. So it behooves the producer or director to do what they can to stand out and preposition themselves to be in a place where they’ve built an audience or at least they know how they’re going to market the film and who their audience is, so that at the finish line of making the movie they know what the next steps are.
Larry Jordan: Is a genre, like horror or anything like that, still the most popular thing to go for or do good movies find the audience?
Jerome Courshon: Not by themselves. I mean some will, certainly, but not by themselves. You know, a lot of the films that we term classics today, or films that make the best 100 lists and whatnot, you know a number of those films really only got noticed because Pauline Kael or Rex Reed or some of these famous critics really championed them. They wouldn’t have found their way without that, so films really do need some help, usually, whether it’s from a critic or a film festival or a good distribution deal that really puts it out there in a major way.
Larry Jordan: Does it ever make sense for a producer to consider doing their own distribution?
Jerome Courshon: It does, and it’s a tough road but it’s one of the things that I teach, and I’m kind of a big proponent of mixing both traditional distribution with some DIY. The reason I’m a big proponent of that is because so many companies today want all your rights, and if you give up all your rights, including all your internet rights, and you give them up exclusively, you’re giving away, potentially, a lot of revenue that, if you held back for instance some of the internet rights and you exploit those yourself, you actually have a source of continuous revenue that can come to you.
Larry Jordan: You’ve got a wealth of information just in this interview.
Mike Horton: I’m getting this DVD! My head is exploding.
Larry Jordan: Where can people go to get your DVD and what does it cover?
Jerome Courshon: My program, it’s nine DVDs in a three volume set, covers…
Mike Horton: Nine?
Jerome Courshon: Nine DVDs.
Larry Jordan: Holy cow! Okay.
Jerome Courshon: It’s literally a three-day program. I mean you could watch it in a row and not go to sleep for a day, but I wouldn’t recommend that!
Larry Jordan: Well, you haven’t put me to sleep, so as long as your voice is on there…!
Jerome Courshon: Thank you! So it covers the A to Z, from theatrical all the way down to the internet and DIY approaches, and I’m offering a discount to your audience for the next couple of weeks. Anyone who’s listening now or hears it in the archives or at iTunes, and the discount is 20% off, and they can find that at this link, which is distribution.LA/buzz.
Mike Horton: I’m going there right now.
Jerome Courshon: That’s where the 20% discount will be for your listeners.
Mike Horton: I’m going to take the pay check that Larry gives me and I’m going to buy this DVD.
Jerome Courshon: I’m going to hold you to that!
Mike Horton: No, I’m serious. I’m going to get this thing.
Larry Jordan: The website is distribution.LA/buzz for a 20% discount and Jerome Courshon is a film distribution expert… and I got to wake Michael up.
Mike Horton: What? Oh that’s…
Larry Jordan: Push the button.
Mike Horton: I’m buying the DVD!
Larry Jordan: Well, buy the DVD after you’ve pushed the button.
Mike Horton: Right, there we go!
Larry Jordan: Jerome, thanks so much for joining us today, we wish you great success.
Jerome Courshon: Thank you. My pleasure, glad I could be of help.
Mike Horton: Yes, thanks a lot for doing this.
Larry Jordan: We will bring you back. There’s lots more we can talk about.
Jerome Courshon: Sounds great.
Larry Jordan: Take care.
Jerome Courshon: Thank you.
= = =
Larry Jordan: You know, Michael, the thing I like about this…
Mike Horton: Don’t talk to me, I’m buying the DVD.
Larry Jordan: While you’re buying the DVD, the thing about this…
Mike Horton: By the way, could you just turn the lights on so I can see my credit card?
Larry Jordan: The thing I like about this is that it’s comprehensive and he keeps it up to date, and those are two things that I’m impressed with.
Mike Horton: How do you do that with a DVD, though?
Larry Jordan: You know, that’s a really good question, but it solves the issue of how you’re going to get it from point A to point B! We’ve got some really cool stuff about a cloud-based review process, and we’re going to talk to Patrick Sculley right after this.
= = =
Larry Jordan: Patrick Sculley is the founder and CEO of PixelFlow, a cloud-based service that allows content creators to share, review and deliver video online. The recent announcement of PixelFlow Air caught our eye at the recent DV Expo, and we wanted to learn more. Hello, Patrick!
Patrick Sculley: Hello there, Larry. How are you this evening?
Larry Jordan: We are doing great, glad to have you with us. Let’s start at the beginning, why did you create PixelFlow?
Patrick Sculley: Thank you for such a wonderful question. Really we believe in video at PixelFlow, we’re media creators ourselves and we believe in the power of video, and what video can do for storytelling, for information, for education and for the world. It’s a tool that can break boundaries of communication, of language of all sorts of different areas, and our real passion at PixelFlow is providing a service that allows creators to come together on a production and to collaborate no matter where they are in the world, whether they’re in the other room or if they’re across the globe, to be able to share thoughts, ideas and their vision in a safe and secure manner, and to push the boundaries of what’s actually possible in the cloud when it comes to collaboration.
Larry Jordan: So what is PixelFlow Air?
Patrick Sculley: So PixelFlow Air is our third major release of PixelFlow and what it allows you to do is to collaborate in ways that weren’t possible before, either with our previous products or capable at all.
Patrick Sculley: So, a little bit of background on PixelFlow and why we wanted to come up with this new product is that we believe that tools in the cloud should be secure, of course, easy to use and fun all at the same time. So what we’ve done is, over the past few years, is learn a little bit about how our customers were using the tool. We were able to gain insight.
Patrick Sculley: We work with USC and UCLA at their film schools and really gained some valuable insight from their students, and we worked with people like Michael Horton and also Claudia Crask at Creative Pro SuperMeets and user groups to get their insight into ways that we could really add value to their business and ways that we could help them connect with their customers and to increase production value and to come together within their team. So we were able to take what we’d learned and try to really break it down to its essence, break our product down and not taking anything for granted.
Patrick Sculley: What we’ve come up with is a tool that’s quick to get up and running with. We have fast pitch competitions that use PixelFlow for sharing videos. We’ve got corporate environments and a lot of other interesting applications where people that maybe don’t have any experience with video have video that they need to share and to work with and they want to have easy and seamless access that meets the needs in corporate environments, and that also meets the security needs of professional post such as customers like Nickelodeon and MTV.
Larry Jordan: Well, security is very fresh on our minds, with the hacking today with Adobe, where almost three million people’s accounts were hacked.
Mike Horton: Hey, Patrick did you hear about that?
Larry Jordan: How do you guarantee security when even companies like Adobe can’t pull it off?
Patrick Sculley: Well, first of all, I get it, right. People come up to me, and a lot of years ago people used to say to me oh, this new horseless carriage thing, I just don’t know if I can ride in it because it’s too dangerous. In reality, I still come across people that say hey, flying in an airplane is too dangerous, but the cloud does present some very intricate and real concerns to media producers and those that are putting their livelihood and their works and that are also liable to others, frankly. You know, it’s one thing to put something that’s important to you up, but when it’s your business or you have employees who you’re working with, with others, then it really comes down to your reputation. Larry, we’ve really had to put our heads together, not just internally but talking to other companies and getting ideas and puling experience from a variety of industries in order to put together a comprehensive security framework for PixelFlow that is built in at our core.
Larry Jordan: Are you storing the data on your own servers or are you using Amazon S3 or where is the actual information being stored, and what information are you storing?
Patrick Sculley: Well, first of all, I want to let you know we don’t save credit cards. We never have saved your credit card in PixelFlow and we never will, and Adobe is a close partner of ours, so I’ll just leave that be. But I want to leave that as an example of something in PixelFlow that we don’t save. Another step that we’ve taken in PixelFlow is that all of the data within PixelFlow resides in our private cloud. This is data on servers that we own, that we operate, they’re in our cabinets, that are biometrically in a fast six certified facility, etcetera. Those are a couple of steps we take.
Patrick Sculley: We also have independent auditors that run tests, and our customers also. We encourage them to run their own tests against our systems in terms of security and vulnerability. We do use a content delivery network, mainly Amazon, which has its benefits that the cloud often offers. The trade off is wherever you are in the globe you’re going to have a consistent experience with watching your videos; it doesn’t matter if you’re in South America or you’re in San Francisco, however close you are to that major hub or that city you’re going to have a consistent type of viewing experience. So, within that cloud, Amazon has very specific security protocols, and that’s one of the reasons we chose Amazon after looking at the multitude out there, and we take very detailed precautions that we’re able to leverage and also make easy to use.
Patrick Sculley: There are certain security levels that Amazon incorporates that also adhere to the MPAA guidelines of auditing access and token-based authentication. So even if you have access now, if you’re able to somehow hijack an encrypted line the chances of it getting hacked are a lot less likely than thinking about having a hard drive in transit in the mail, where it could be intercepted or between your office and your office in Hollywood anybody could make a copy of that and you would have no idea, and that’s one benefit that the cloud actually offers above and beyond with security, our ability to audit every single access and to trace that back to who watched it, how long did they spend watching it and then to be able to seamlessly or elegantly flush that access out at any time if the owners require.
Larry Jordan: Well, Patrick, I’m impressed enough that I think people need to take a look at Website. Where can they go to learn more?
Patrick Sculley: Terrific, Larry. They can, of course, go to PixelFlow.com, and we’ve got a special right now for two months of free service. We really love what we do. We love helping people and seeing all the things that video makes possible in this world.
Larry Jordan: The website is pixelflow.com. Patrick Sculley is the CEO and founder and Patrick, thanks for joining us today.
Patrick Sculley: Always a pleasure, Larry, and take care Michael. See you soon.
= = =
Larry Jordan: You know, Michael, there’s two things I want to do before we run out of time today. The first is I want to reflect for a moment on what’s been happening at Adobe, because that has implications for all of us.
Mike Horton: You mean you want to gloat?
Larry Jordan: No, no, no!
Mike Horton: Because over the years you’ve said: “I have this problem with security in the cloud!” Well, Larry, you were right,
Larry Jordan: Well, yeah, but that doesn’t make me feel good.
Mike Horton: No, I know. It’s not a good situation.
Larry Jordan: Cirina, our producer, and I were talking about this just before the show, and we were debating whether we wanted to bring on somebody to talk about security today and what we’re going to do is we’re going to find somebody to talk about internet security in general for next week’s show.
Mike Horton: That’s a really good idea.
Larry Jordan: So rather than try and do something quickly, we wanted to give ourselves time together to get some homework done. So we’ll be talking about a segment next week that focuses on security,
Mike Horton: And in the meantime, change your passwords to: Larry Jordan was right! 21311
Larry Jordan: And also do visit Adobe’s website, read the blog, discover what was actually taken and what Adobe’s doing to fix it, because you want to pay attention to this. But if you’re working with any creative cloud applications, definitely changing your password is absolutely…
Mike Horton: Yes, do it right now. It’s really easy. Just go to Adobe’s website, click on this button. You can actually go to adobe.com, and there’s a button right there on the front page. Click on it, change your password. Easy, done!
Larry Jordan: And if Michael can do it…
Mike Horton: I know!
Larry Jordan: So we decided to do our Pick Our Brains question, but…
Larry Jordan: Are you ready?
Mike Horton: Yeah, okay. Here we go.
Larry Jordan: Michael takes a deep breath, and he says it’s time for…
Mike Horton: Pick our Brains! You know, I’m going to need more time. We’re out of time right now.
Larry Jordan: I have missed that, really. What have you got?
Mike Horton: Alright, this is a Premiere question. It says, I’m trying to copy a clip and then paste it onto the same layer, just at a different point. You got me so far, Larry?
Larry Jordan: Yes.
Mike Horton: The clip is on the video track two. However, when I move the playhead and paste it into position, it pastes the clip onto track one.
Larry Jordan: Yes.
Mike Horton: Yes? Track two is selected, with V1 in the far left. Are you still with me?
Larry Jordan: Yes.
Mike Horton: Alright, the only way around this that I’ve found so far is locking track one…
Larry Jordan: Boo!
Mike Horton: In which case the paste defaults to the next available track, in this case track two. Is there anyway to paste into the same track you have copied from, Larry?
Larry Jordan: Okay.
Larry Jordan: Here’s what’s happened…
Mike Horton: Visualize what’s happening.
Larry Jordan: He has a clip on V2 that he wants to copy and paste also to V2,
Mike Horton: Yes.
Larry Jordan: And it’s pasting to the wrong track.
Mike Horton: Right, but he also wants to copy and paste it like way down the line there.
Larry Jordan: Hush up.
Mike Horton: Okay.
Larry Jordan: It’s my turn.
Mike Horton: Yes.
Larry Jordan: Okay, are you done?
Mike Horton: Yes.
Larry Jordan: Okay. There is a difference between selecting a track and targeting a track. In CS6 and earlier versions you can target by dragging that little thing that says V1, dragging that up and down. This determines where a clip is going to be edited when you bring it down from the source monitor to the Premiere timeline. But that’s not selecting the track. In CS6, you need to click on the track header, so that it glows light gray, and that selects the track. Premiere will always paste a clip to the lowest numbered track that’s light gray. You can have track V1, V2, V3, all be light gray. Whichever the lowest numbered track is, is the track to which you will paste the clip. In the CC release, you can actually click on the track and the track itself turns light gray.
Mike Horton: That was my next question.
Larry Jordan: Whichever is the lowest numbered track that’s light gray, is the track to which it will paste the clip. Targeting, that is the patch, is irrelevant. Selecting the track is relevant, and it needs to be the lowest numbered track. So if you want it on V3, V1 and V2 must not be selected. If more than one track is selected, it pastes to the lowest numbered track.
Mike Horton: Would you call that intuitive?
Larry Jordan: Well, you know, in Final Cut 7 we had the autoselect lights, and remember that the way it would patch in Final Cut 7 is it will automatically paste to the lowest numbered track whose autoselect light is dark, and if you wanted to change it you had to copy the clip first, then change the autoselect light, which could not be accused of being intuitive, either.
Larry Jordan: It is equally unintuitive in both instances, but it’s different between Final Cut 7 and Premiere.
Mike Horton: Okay, I’m going to get another glass of water. Thank you, Larry.
Larry Jordan: You’re welcome, Mike. You know it’s all about just trying to keep track of all this stuff.
Mike Horton: Like I said, the reason I show up is because I learn so much from you!
Larry Jordan: It’s been an interesting show.
Mike Horton: Yes. Interesting day, interesting week.
Larry Jordan: Yes, very much so. I’m so sorry that you yourself was involved in this Adobe thing. That’s always frustrating, and there’s nothing you can do about it except…
Mike Horton: There’s nothing you can do about it.
Larry Jordan: … change your password.
Mike Horton: Except to say well, you know, Larry Jordan was right! Here’s to you, Larry!
Larry Jordan: Oh my goodness. I’m just trying to think of… Oh, oh, Mike!
Mike Horton: What?
Larry Jordan: We have got a really cool announcement to make on the Buzz next week.
Mike Horton: Next week?
Larry Jordan: Next week. A week from today, at this very moment…
Mike Horton: Can you give us a hint?
Larry Jordan: It’s going to be really cool.
Mike Horton: Oh, okay.
Larry Jordan: It’s going to be a special event, and we’re going to be able to talk about it a week from today. We’re announcing it a week from today. So people just have to tune in.
Mike Horton: So the government is not going to be shut down a week from today, right?
Larry Jordan: It doesn’t make any difference. We will be independent of the government shutdown.
Mike Horton: Okay.
Larry Jordan: I hope. One prays, at least.
Mike Horton: One prays, yes.
Larry Jordan: Grant on our live chat is saying, are we moving to Australia?
Mike Horton: Grant, I would move there in a heartbeat, really. I mean open up your couch for me, I’m there.
Larry Jordan: So okay, Mike, half the Buzz is moving to Australia! Anyway, I want to say…
Mike Horton: Just remember, never confuse the American public with this government. Okay.
= = =
Larry Jordan: Anyway, I want to thank our guests this week, Russo Anastasio is the President of ShapeShifter, a post house in LA. Bob Kovaks is the editor of Government Video Magazine, and one of the driving forces behind Government Video Expo. Jerome Courshon is a film distribution expert. Michael, he’s a guy we have got to get back.
Mike Horton: Yes, that was a fascinating discussion.
Larry Jordan: And very enthusiastic about a very boring subject, which is distribution.
Mike Horton: Yes, but it’s also about making money and doing it right.
Larry Jordan: Yes, and that’s the key, because if you don’t do it right you don’t make the money. And Patrick Sculley, the CEO of PixelFlow, who’s got a new video review application for us to consider. There’s a lot happening at the Buzz between shows. Visit digitalproductionbuzz.com and click latest news, we update this several times a day with the latest news in our industry. You can talk with us on Twitter, we always love hearing your comments. That’s dpbuzz is the handle. Facebook has got digitalproductionbuzz.com.
Larry Jordan: Music on the Buzz is provided by Smart Sound. The Buzz is streamed by Wehostmax.com and you can email us at email@example.com . Our producer is Serena Katanya. That warm, baritone chuckle is Mike Horton and my name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to the Digital Production Buzz.