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Transcript: Digital Production Buzz – Nov. 14, 2013

Digital Production Buzz

November 14, 2013

[Transcripts provided by Take1.tv]

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HOSTS

Larry Jordan

Mike Horton

GUESTS

Bryan Carroll, Producer/Director, “Why We Ride”

Philip Hodgetts, President, Intelligent Assistance

John Tkaczewski, Co-Founder & President, FileCatalyst

David Zimmerman, CEO, LC Technology International

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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 sitting across the studio table from me is our co-host, the svelte and debonair Mr. Mike Horton.

Mike Horton: Hello, Larry.

Larry Jordan: It’s good to see you back, sir.

Mike Horton: It’s always good to be back, even though I have to drive, what, an hour, hour and a half to get here.

Larry Jordan: Uphill in the snow against LA traffic the entire time.

Mike Horton: Eat your Triscuits and drink your wine and, damn, it’s worth it.

Larry Jordan: You ate my Triscuits.

Mike Horton: I did, I ate them all. Every single one of them. I know, you’ve just told me it was your dinner.

Larry Jordan: That was my dinner.

Mike Horton: I’m sorry.

Larry Jordan: Thinking of more cheerful thoughts, Bryan Carroll is here to tell us about his feature documentary directing debut called Why We Ride.

Mike Horton: I can’t wait to talk to him, because I’m interested in that biker culture.

Larry Jordan: And the whole idea that we want to chat with him about is he’s gone to the effort of producing and now he has got to distribute this and we want to find out how he’s doing distribution and marketing and selling and trying to make money and why he did a documentary as his first project, not that we have questions or anything.

Mike Horton: No.

Larry Jordan: And then the continuing controversy over Final Cut Pro X illustrates the challenges of coping with change in our industry. Philip Hodgetts of Intelligent Assistance has been writing about this and joins us tonight to talk about the difference between improvements and changes.

Larry Jordan: FileCatalyst has created a viable solution to moving large files across the internet. At the moment, it needs a blazingly fast internet connection, but many are using this with success. John Tkaczewski is the President of FileCatalyst and he joins us tonight to explain how his technology works.

Larry Jordan: And David Zimmerman, the CEO, Founder and President of LC Technology is here to rescue us from solid state media that goes, shall we say, awry. If you’re shooting with SD cards, you need to hear about how to keep your cards safe, because David’s got the experience to keep us out of trouble.

Larry Jordan: By the way, if you haven’t had a chance to check out our show page, we are now offering text transcripts for every 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 very much to Take 1 for making this kind of transcript possible.

Larry Jordan: Oh, and Michael…

Mike Horton: Mmm?

Larry Jordan: …have you heard the typing of keys in the background? You hear that clicking? Hear that frantic clicking going on?

Mike Horton: I thought that was your cat.

Larry Jordan: No, that’s not the cat. We’re doing live tweeting during the show.

Mike Horton: Ooh!

Larry Jordan: And you can join in the conversation @dpbuzz or use the hashtag #buzzlive. Last week, we had almost a thousand people taking part in the show, which is just really cool. Just remember to visit us on Facebook, at digitalproductionbuzz.com, at Twitter @dpbuzz, and visit our website…

Mike Horton: And you can get on our live chat too right now.

Larry Jordan: You know, the live chat is always a great place to ask questions.

Mike Horton: You know what? It’s hard to find the damn live chat. I always have a hard time finding it, even though it says ‘Listen to live show’ and that’s what you click on.

Larry Jordan: And then you go to the live chat and we’ve got people on the live chat now getting ready to ask questions and you’re welcome to join, because we love hearing your questions. We’ll reflect them back to the guests and everybody benefits.

Larry Jordan: It is going to be a fun show tonight. I’m going to be back with Bryan Carroll talking about Why We Ride, right after this.

Larry Jordan: The latest version of Da Vinci Resolve 10 is now shipping from Blackmagic Design. This is a new version. It includes innovative tools to speed on-set color grading, support for open effects plug-ins and simplified integration for Final Cut Pro, Avid and Premier Pro projects, allowing timelines to be easily moved in and out of Resolve. You can even tweak your edits inside Resolve without wasting time switching back to your editing software just to make a simple change. New editing features include full multi-track editing with 16 channels of audio per clip and unlimited video and audio tracks in a timeline. Da Vinci Resolve 10 can finish online from the original camera files for dramatically better quality, and the latest version of Resolve 10 is a free upgrade to all Resolve users and, if you’re looking for ways to make your pictures look great, download the free version of Da Vinci Resolve 10 from blackmagicdesign.com. That’s blackmagicdesign.com.

Larry Jordan: Bryan Carroll has extensive production experience working on A list projects such as Collateral, Titanic and Miami Vice. Why We Ride is his feature documentary debut as a director. The film has just released theatrically in Los Angeles and New York and will be rolling out in more cities soon. Welcome, Bryan.

Bryan Carroll: Thank you very much. Glad to be on.

Larry Jordan: We are delighted to have you with us. Tell us what Why We Ride is about.

Bryan Carroll: Well, Why We Ride is an inspiring adventure into the world of motorcycling, told by passionate riders, famous racers and just everyday families who ride together on the road of life.

Larry Jordan: Well, why did you decide to tell that story?

Bryan Carroll: You know, it was interesting. Originally a few years back, we had received a script that I fell in love with about the motorcycles racers and California in the ‘30s and particularly a gentleman by the name of Ed Kretz, who had won the very first Daytona 200 back in 1937, and we got to go up to Denver and visit with Ed Kretz Jr, who was also a Hall of Famer and I spent about four hours with him and I’m looking through all this great memorabilia and hearing all these stories, what I thought was going to be about motorcycle racing, and what kind of bubbled to the surface was he was talking about family and friends and relationships and these adventures and it really just kind of got me thinking, like, we’re not talking about motorcycles, we’re talking about things much more important than that.

Bryan Carroll: I’m a dad now and I grew up around motorcycles and I did what a lot of guys did and stopped riding motorcycles when I had kids and why am I not sharing this with my wife and my kids and the why came up. In my life, everything starts with why. It’s not what, it’s not how, it’s why and at that moment I said, “Ok, stop on this. We’re going to make a movie called Why We Ride and this is what we’re going to jump into.”

Larry Jordan: Wow. You’ve worked on other productions. What in your film background prepared you to direct this documentary?

Bryan Carroll: Well, there’s so much there, I’ve been so fortunate. I came up as a film editor, is where I originally started. I spent time as a music editor and then a sound effects editor and then visual effects editor with Jim on Titanic and then when I worked with Michael Mann, he was the one who really gave me the break in producing and then second unit directing and when I headed off into the documentary world, three really important things came out of it. One was that having that editing background was a great help in the documentary world because you have so little time, so little budget, you really are editing in your head on the fly as you’re shooting many times.

Bryan Carroll: Being around second unit, I’m directing with Michael. Again, you have such a small crew to deal with, which has huge experience, but the biggest advantage we had was technology and I was early on adapted to technology. When the Avid first came out, I was one of the first ones to jump on, really experiment, what it could do, and when I first started working with Michael, you know, we were among the first ones to use the F900 in Ali and transferred it to film and the amount of people that were doing that was, George up north was doing it with the F950s for Star Wars and then the Viper camera, so being with Michael allowed me to work with a lot of great technology, with the cameras and the recorders and the… and coming into this documentary, it was like the perfect storm.

Bryan Carroll: We finally had these great smaller version cameras like the C300s or the Type Bs, stuff that the old documentary guys used to use like the Aeroflexes or the eight card 60 millimeters. You have that same size to be very mobile. So being in that perfect little spot of having great understanding of creative production, a huge understanding of physical production, which is the… side of it, and then knowing the technical side, it really allows you to create something that appears much bigger on screen than it does in your budget.

Mike Horton: Yes, I was watching your trailer just before the show started and the images in your trailer are absolutely gorgeous and it certainly belies the fact that you had very little budget, because the images certainly show that you know where to put the camera.

Bryan Carroll: Yes, well, you know, building an amazing team was a huge help. Gentlemen by the name of Andrew [WODZETSKI] and Douglas Cheney were my DPs. Andrew and I started together, Andrew was a camera PA back on, God, I believe it was RHD with Michael Mann and I just went up to him and said, “I’m going to watch this guy. He came up as one my DPs,” and also having a great colorist on the… Mike Sawyer over at Technicolor, knowing what he can do and having this combination, it allowed me when I was capturing stuff to know that what I have here and what it’s going to turn out to be later is all there and we’re not going to blow it out and really understanding that… is so important for people and really respecting, knowing what your DP can do and what that position is and having a good relationship with those people is so important. It makes me look good.

Mike Horton: Yes, but even more important is that you’re a writer yourself and you have to be able to relate to the people that you’re telling the story of, and obviously I think you probably did that, but you know the story because you are part of the story.

Bryan Carroll: Exactly and, like I say, with having been born from writing a little bit and then coming back, it was a huge advantage because I really wanted to observe the environment and, you know, the writer and the motorcycle and the study is all in one place and it’s one piece and there are so many reality shows that document things out there right now with the handheld cameras and, you know, how they’re capturing the motorcycle life and you know what? I want to observe this, I want to connect these three people together. Let’s take one step back, let’s let the rider, the motorcycle and the environment be one and in order to do that, let’s take one step back and let’s always be on a jib or be on a slider or allow a small movement so that we know that we’re observing, we’re not doing a GoPro shot or something like that, and that was really one the fun parts about making this movie, as well as when we did the interviews.

Bryan Carroll: I always like to start a production with what the movie is and what the movie is not and one of the styles I came up with early on was all my interviews, there would be no windows, no way to see outside, it was always inside and close, because I really wanted to create a little bit of that, kind of like what Stagecoach did, I think… that when you’re inside there, it doesn’t appear as though you’re getting claustrophobic, but when you’re outside all of a sudden it doesn’t matter what the sky is, the sky looks beautiful because you’ve just been inside in this lit area and now you’re in this daylight and that sky. So that was one of the things I really wanted to create with this to just allow people who weren’t riders to see, you know, there’s a sky up there and it’s pretty amazing.

Larry Jordan: When you were shooting, what camera did you shoot and how long was production?

Bryan Carroll: Production ran just over 60 days on and off. We started the movie in July of last year, our first day of shooting was mid-August up in Sturgis, and we premiered the movie on October 3rd, so it was about 14 months from beginning to end.

Bryan Carroll: Of course, in choosing a camera, you know, we always want the big guns but we have to look at what we can afford and, again, going off of a lot of the old… that the great documentary DPs used to use, I was looking for something small that could be very fast, that I could use a wide range of lenses on and I know it would hold me up. Being a motorcycle, we knew we were going to have a problem with the revolving shutter and we started first testing with a few different cameras, but the C300, the new Canon C300’s what really stuck out.

Bryan Carroll: :I know 120 frames is going to be absolutely necessary for portraying, you know, the fast action of the motorcycle in a poetic motion and I knew the C500 was coming out soon after that, so we started with the C300 recording on board and then I moved the schedule around a little bit so when the C500 came out, we were able to put that up with the… recorder and go after those shots and it recorded 4K slo-mo on that camera, once we had that.

Larry Jordan: Mmm.

Mike Horton: I know you want to ask this question, Larry, but I’m going to ask it. Where did you get the money?

Bryan Carroll: Early on, people were kind of like, “Oh, it’s a motorcycle movie. Let’s look at sponsorship. Let’s look at all this stuff.”

Mike Horton: Exactly.

Bryan Carroll: What we realized when we were talking to people was how tied my hands were going to be in making this… had to be biased, we could not show favoritism towards anything, so actually a partner of mine who is my… partner, James Walker, came on and really helped to put this thing together and he went to the farthest outreaches, he went to private investors. I don’t think any of them really were into motorcycles. They saw it very much as a business plan and what was great about it is a lot of them, it was only their first or second time investing in a movie, most of them the first time investing in a doc, but as a director it gave me such great creative control, not having that having to show favoritism towards anything.

Mike Horton: Like Red Bull.

Larry Jordan: You got it shot in 60, and how are you editing? What software and what were the challenges in post?

Bryan Carroll: We went with Avid on this one. I have had great relationships with many people in this business and a lot of the guys I know have Avid, were able to help us with Avid, so we edited the show on Avid and one of the reasons was I was an editor and I still know how to run an Avid, so there’s still something fun about being able to jump in there if I want to, which is kind of fun.

Bryan Carroll: And the flow system that we were going to use, I knew it would be expensive shooting 4K and we were not going to have the money to go through a post house and do our daily transfers and all that, so we really had to be from camera to editing room in the smoothest, most inexpensive way we could do that and the Avid cutting room, the DNX175X format, that file’s a little bit bigger than the .ama file on the standard C300, so we already knew we could wrap that in a package and that would be our master.

Bryan Carroll: And then for the 4K, using the new Codex Vault, we had that in our van with us whenever we traveled hooked up to battery, so as the 4K came out, it’d go in the van, we’d be downloading that and converting it and then at night we’d put it in our hotel rooms and then that would start making our DNX175ZX file, so then the next day we could go back to editorial, work on them and we could back up the 4K onto a hard drive.

Bryan Carroll: So the workflow system was really good, working through that process with the Avid back here at home.

Larry Jordan: All right, we’ve got the film done, you’ve launched it in Los Angeles and New York. How are you going to make your money back on this? And why launch in LA and New York? Is it for award consideration or just because they’re the two biggest cities?

Bryan Carroll: Well, of course we definitely wanted to get the… for award consideration and, you know, if you say ‘Launching in San Francisco and Minneapolis’, nobody takes you seriously. You say, “We’re launching in LA and New York,” it’s just kind of like, “Oh, ok, that makes sense,” so we wanted to do the standard launch but we… We didn’t have a studio behind us, we don’t have that PR and P&A money to really do that kind of a campaign to get it out there, but what we did know is we knew who our fan base was and knowing who the motorcycle riders are.

Bryan Carroll: Back in February we started a very aggressive online campaign, close to 50,000 followers on Facebook, we now are averaging about 250 to 500 followers a day signing on now, so we knew who our fan was and we said, “We’re going to use what’s out there, the Twitters, the Facebooks,” you know, these kinds of new ways to connect to our fans to release this movie and the title of the movie, you know, is Why We Ride and we really wanted to use the ‘We’ part of that and what better way to celebrate that than make it available in every community around the country?

Bryan Carroll: So we came up with two programs. One of them is working with the dealerships round there and helping them to bring it to their local towns. They help pay for the DCPs and the… and the streaming but what we launched a week ago is Tug, and we now have 33 screenings that are being tugged around the country and we’re adding usually three to five per day, and that is where the fans themselves can sign onto our website, go to where the screenings are to see if there’s a screening… they can request to host a screening.

Bryan Carroll: As long as, like, 60, 70 percent of tickets sell in a certain amount of time, boom, we can deliver it to them. So this is kind of a really new distribution program where the fans themselves are bringing it to their town and they’re on the blogs saying, “Hey, we’re doing this, we need to sell 30 more tickets and it’s going to come to our town,” and it’s just exploded. We’re up to 33 screenings already.

Larry Jordan: Bryan, for people who want to learn more about the film, where can they go on the web and what can they do to bring the film to their town?

Bryan Carroll: Definitely go to our website, which is whyweridefilm.com. We’re keeping much updated stuff there. There’s a page on there for buying show times, where they can see our screenings. At the bottom of that, if their town isn’t on there, they can host a screening and they can help host a screening in their home town.

Bryan Carroll: Also, they can go to our Facebook page through a link on our webpage and the Facebook page is the most active right now, where people that are having the screenings are feeding back, they’re showing pictures of their screenings and their fan base coming together and stuff, so whyweridefilm.com is the best place to start and from there you’ll see the links to… and hopefully come out to one of our screenings.

Larry Jordan: Thank you, Bryan.

Mike Horton: Yes, I can’t wait to see this. This sounds really wonderful.

Larry Jordan: The website is whyweridefilm.com, all one word. Bryan Carroll’s the producer/director. Bryan, thanks for joining us today.

Bryan Carroll: Thank you so much. You have a great evening.

Larry Jordan: Bye bye.

Larry Jordan: Philip Hodgetts is the CEO of Intelligent Assistance, involved in the technology of virtually every area of digital video, which is really impressive. But what I like the best is he’s also a regular contributor to The Buzz and, as always, Philip, welcome back.

Philip Hodgetts: Thank you very much.

Larry Jordan: Philip, there’s been a lot of talk over the last few years as to whether Final Cut Pro X is ready for professional use, but I think that…

Mike Horton: Hey, wait, didn’t you answer that question in Amsterdam?

Larry Jordan: Yes, but I think that question masks some bigger issues that Philip’s been writing about in his blog that I want to spend a couple of minutes talking over with you. You’ve been quoted as saying that people want things to improve but they don’t want things to change. How do you see the difference?

Philip Hodgetts: It’s fairly simple. If things that change require you to relearn or to learn something new and the one thing I have learnt is that nobody really voluntarily ever changes their work flow, we get comfortable doing the things that we know how to do, so when somebody brings a new format to us or somebody brings a new editing interface to us or somebody brings just a new way of doing something, even if it’s better or potentially better, we don’t like having that change thrust upon us because, for most people, learning something new is, for some reason, I think it’s bad memories from school or something, but learning something new is a bad thing in many people’s mind.

Philip Hodgetts: To me, because I guess it’s the way I grew up, I hated school, I’m always looking for the new thing and that’s good for me, but the problem is most people don’t really want to spend the time to learn something new even if that will make their life better once they’ve learnt it.

Mike Horton: I wonder if this is a generational thing, though, and the younger people seem to gravitate to what is new, especially if there are influencers out there telling them to do it.

Philip Hodgetts: Oh, I agree. I think it’s very much generational. I saw this a few years ago with a young protégé of mine and instead of processing the difference that we saw between the traditional ways of doing things and a Media 100 in those days, he could see immediately the similarity to Pro Tools, which he’d already had a look at.

Philip Hodgetts: Now, for most of my generation, that similarity was more like, “Oh my God, how could you possibly even think these were vaguely the same application?” but for that generation and a generation that’s only known constant change – I jokingly say that the only constant these days is that things will change.

Larry Jordan: Well, first, you know, I was just reflecting back about 800,000 years ago, when I was young, and I remember when I was younger I had less to forget and…

Philip Hodgetts: Yes, yes, unlearning becomes easier as we get older. We just call it forgetting.

Mike Horton: That’s a good line, Larry. I think I’m going to steal that one.

Larry Jordan: Everything is easier to learn when you’re younger, because first you’re sort of in a learning mode; and second, you have less baggage associated with whatever you’re working with. But it seems to me that there’s a bigger issue of how do we cope with the technological changes rocking our industry?

Philip Hodgetts: That’s a really good question. I mean, generally people cope with it badly. That’s probably not the answer that we want. I mean, I’ve been racking my brain, how do we do this more positively? Because in an ideal world, we’d all be spending four to eight hours a week improving our skills, you know, doing tutorials about parts of applications that we know that we don’t use regularly, buying training from people, like Larry Jordan & Associates and others, and continually improving our skills, just doing things that we don’t normally do.

Philip Hodgetts: And I say that and know full well that people have lives outside their work life, they have families that they want to spend time with in the evenings and at weekends and they have significant others, they have children, they have hobbies, they have other interests, and I come back to the position of, well, when do you do this essential training? And I don’t have a great answer for that.

Philip Hodgetts: I know it’s essential, I know that you’ve got to fit it in somewhere, because if you do not continually improve your skills, you are falling backwards. As you said, when we were younger there was less to know and… and you had to tell a story. Now you’ve got to know a little bit about color, you’ve got to know a little bit tightening, you’ve got to know how to do a whole lot of jib compression technology. These are skills that we didn’t need five, ten, 15 years ago. You could get a job telling a story and this has changed. I don’t know where you fit it in, but somehow you’ve got to fit it in because it’s essential to your future.

Mike Horton: There’s also the fact that it costs more to change. I mean, you have to buy new stuff.

Philip Hodgetts: But buying new stuff is nowhere near as expensive as the time you’ll spend learning how to use it. You know, software is really – these days particularly – inexpensive. Back in the day there was a really great training series for After Effects and it was, I think, 40 hours of training – it’s a lot more now – but I worked out that that was probably going to take you 100 hours to get the benefit from and that’s probably a fairly significant month’s work that you were going to be investing into your future if you actually did the training of what had been provided in that training course. So the training for any piece of software is a whole lot more of an investment than the actual software is.

Larry Jordan: I was just reflecting on the difference between improvements and changes and I realized that the tools that we use influence the stories that we tell and I was thinking back, again to when I was directing live TV, I would have the opportunity every so often to do a three videotape edit in a very expensive CMX room and the stories that I could tell with that videotape was limited by how much money I had and how much time in the CMX room. I couldn’t do graphically intensive tasks, I’d have to go off to an animation stand. Are we actually being blinded by the tools we’re using in terms of the stories that we can tell?

Philip Hodgetts: Well, certainly if we were still cutting offline in three-quarter inch, I don’t know that we’d have the two to three second held for a long shot of reality television that you get. I feel very confident that we wouldn’t, in fact. It would just be impossible to manage the 16 camera shoot into some form of manageable media that one could edit offline on a three-quarter inch suite. The idea just frightens the heck out of me.

Philip Hodgetts: So absolutely, the way we tell the stories and even, to some degree, the stories that we will tell are dictated by the type of technology that’s available. The plus side of that is, because there is a range of technology from, you know, very inexpensive DSOR level technology right through to, you know, your F65s and… and all of those tools, there’s a budget where you can still get out there and tell your story, even if you can’t tell the story in the way that a $120 million studio movie might tell that story. You can still tell your story and I think that’s what great about the level of democratization of the tools that we’ve had now.

Larry Jordan: Mike and I are going to talk about this during Pick Our Brains, but I want to get your take on this. Because we are charged with delivering our projects on time and on budget, at what point should we resist change, like not being too close to the bleeding edge, and at what point should we embrace change?

Philip Hodgetts: Again, an excellent question. The simplest way to look at that is that you really only embrace the change when the pluses for the change outweigh the negatives for the lack of change, so to speak, and inherently the higher end market, the higher end studios, the higher end television shows, these are the most conservative to change because, heck, they’ve got a lot of money riding on every decision that’s made. To make a major change at that level really requires a lot of people to put their reputations on the line and we all know that those people do not like to make those sorts of decisions, so inherently they become more conservative.

Philip Hodgetts: On the other end of the spectrum, though,  you have people who saw the potential of, say, the RED camera and realized that while that was somewhat problematic in its early days in the field, to the extent that you usually carried a second camera as a spare, and the workflows gave us all nightmares for years, for many people the availability of a camera of that quality in that price range was worth the pain because it gets the sort of level of imagery that they did ultimately get from that camera.

Philip Hodgetts: So, simply, the value of the change has to be more than the pain of not changing.

Larry Jordan: Easy to say and hard to calculate.

Philip Hodgetts: Absolutely. Absolutely. These are some of the most complicated questions we’ve ever tackled in our little discussions here on The Buzz.

Larry Jordan: They are. It was wonderful to read your blogs recently, because you were hitting on this and it just sparked all kinds of ideas in my own head. By the way, Eric in our live chat has a quick question for you – are you surprised that no other NLE has done a magnetic timeline type of thing that Final Cut X has? This is an interesting speed change in terms of editing. What’s your thought?

Philip Hodgetts: I agree. I do find that the magnetic timeline is one of the things that make me feel faster in Final Cut Pro X. I think that this very idea of the big disruptive change is what people in the design of Premier Pro and Avid have been trying to avoid. We did have a magnetic timeline, it was called a Movieola.

Mike Horton: Well, yes.

Larry Jordan: I remember that. Stapled together with magnets. Philip, where can people go to learn more about the stuff you’re writing?

Philip Hodgetts: The stuff I’m writing is usually found at philiphodgetts.com, with one L in Philip, and also our great applications can be found at intelligentassistance.com.

Larry Jordan: That’s philiphodgetts.com, all one word, and intelligentassistance.com is the website for the products that you run and, Philip, thanks for joining us. As always, a great conversation.

Philip Hodgetts: My pleasure, thank you.

Mike Horton: Thanks, Philip.

Larry Jordan: Take care. Bye bye.

Philip Hodgetts: Bye.

Larry Jordan: In the year 2000, John Tkaczewski founded Unlimi-Tech Software. That’s the creator of FileCatalyst. It’s a suite of file transfer solutions and, as President, John is active in software development and overseeing creative and technical vision for the FileCatalyst Webmail and FileCatalyst Workflow products. John, welcome.

John Tkaczewski: Welcome. Hello.

Larry Jordan: Glad to have you with us. Tell us, what is FileCatalyst?

John Tkaczewski: FileCatalyst is an accelerated and managed file transfer solution that is very often used by the media industry to move large media files to geographically teams.

Larry Jordan: Well, why does it exist?

John Tkaczewski: Well, it exists for two reasons. First of all, with the media workflows moving completely digital these days, shipping of tapes is just not cost effective and it’s fairly slow. If you’re going to ship a tape, it’s going to at least take you overnight to get there, while if you transfer the file using the internet and a tool like FileCatalyst, you could get that media there in a span of a few minutes or maybe, you know, an hour or two.

Larry Jordan: Well, clearly you’re speeding stuff up more than I’m used to having it sped up. What is FileCatalyst? Is it hardware? Is it software? Is it a massively fast pipe between Point A and Point B? What is it?

John Tkaczewski: It’s strictly software. What we do is utilize your existing internet connectivity that you have on both ends from where you’re sending the files from one point to the other point, and we optimize your bandwidth using our software. So it is a custom protocol, file transfer protocol, that we’ve built that allows you to optimize the bandwidth and speed up the transfers more than you would normally see with traditional tools such as FTP or SFTP that, you know, maybe a lot of your audience is familiar with.

Larry Jordan: As you think back on starting the company, what was the defining moment that made you realize there was a need for this kind of solution?

John Tkaczewski: Well, actually that happened probably about five years ago or maybe a bit more, six years ago now. We already had file transfer applications back then, but they were strictly based on just FTP or, you know, the regular protocols that everybody’s familiar with and our users started to submit trouble tickets asking how come the file transfer was so slow. So we started looking into how we could build a better technology to maximize the bandwidth and really optimize the file transfer.

John Tkaczewski: So it really was spurred by our existing clients and then we just started working on a better and faster protocol for transferring files.

Larry Jordan: You say that it’s software, and I can think of a number of companies that have tried to succeed in this space and they seem to have fallen by the wayside. What makes this so challenging to run a company on?

John Tkaczewski: Well, there are many challenges with transferring large media files using the internet. First challenge that we’re now starting to see less and less is the link speed with those connections. So when you look at, you know, six, seven years ago, having a DSL connection with one or two megabit upstream, that was considered broadband and those links, you know, were fast enough for browsing but they were definitely not used for moving massive files.

John Tkaczewski: Today, with the emergence of fiber connections that are coming down in price quite a bit and the high speed cable packages that you can get, you know, you can get a high speed cable packages now for up to 50 to even 100 megabits for a commodity price, and this makes a big difference, that now you can actually move these large files, providing you have it right software, efficiently and fast and beat your courier to it.

Larry Jordan: Well, if we’ve got a web connection – and I dream of a 50 megabit connection, I think my upload speed is like one – anyway, how does it work? I mean, the speed of the connection is the speed of the connection. It can only move so many bits at a time unless you’re using compression or some other piece of magic. How are you doing it?

John Tkaczewski: Ok, so the explanation is the underlying technology used on the internet is called TCP and that’s the main sort of control protocol for 99 percent of internet traffic out there today so, you know, it powers FTP, SFTP, Samba or any kind of Windows or web-based folder sharing and TCP is a protocol that was designed in the ‘70s, it’s reliable, it’s been around for a long time, but it wasn’t designed to move a large amount of data.

John Tkaczewski: The reason it wasn’t designed for that is that TCP traffic is very chatty, so if I want to send you data using TCP, I’m going to send a little bit of data, like a few packets, and I’m going to ask you if you got it and then you’re going to tell me, “Yes I got it,” so then I’m going to go and send you a little bit more data and I’m going to ask you again, “Did you get it?” So what we’re doing is we’re actually doing a lot of talking and not a lot of sending.

John Tkaczewski: This problem creates a delay and you cannot optimize your maximum… so when you have a very slow connection, well, you know, the wait time that you’re waiting for chatting is not much because you don’t have a very fast connection, but if you start going into a connection of ten megabits or more, all of a sudden that airtime becomes very relevant and we optimize that because our protocol pretty much constantly sends files and doesn’t wait, so our protocol looks more like, “Ok, I’m going to be sending you files and if you miss some data, just let me know,” and I’m just continuously sending the data until you raise your hand and tell me, “Oh, I missed something,” and then I’m just going to re-transmit that one little piece that we are missing and I’m going to continue sending data continuously.

John Tkaczewski: So this protocol is basically, you know, you optimize the air that you would normally see on the regular TCP traffic.

Larry Jordan: In order for this to work, what’s the minimum upload or download speed? Because upload really is the gating factor. Download speeds are fast, but upload speeds cost money.

John Tkaczewski: Exactly. So it’s always going to be the slower of the two, so you have two points and it’s always going to be the slowest of two that counts, and our clients are starting to see value in our software with at least ten megabits upstream, and then they are starting to see the improvements. The other side of the coin is also how far are you sending these files, so if you’re sending files only, like, say within LA, the distance is not very great so, you know, you can live with the chattiness and probably get a pretty good transfer rate.

John Tkaczewski: But as soon as you’re starting to send files coast to coast or, you know, you send files from LA to Europe or to Australia or New Zealand, all of a sudden those international transfers really, really slow down and this is where you’ll see a very big benefit of FileCatalyst, even if your connection is maybe ten megabits.

Larry Jordan: Well, let’s see. We have a question from one of our listeners – how do you handle security to make sure people can’t tap into the traffic?

John Tkaczewski: Well, we utilize the same security that you use on the internet today, so FSL is one of the security protocols, and then we also use AES as well, which is the other part for encrypting all the data that is being transferred.

John Tkaczewski: So the transfers can be very secure, we can secure the traffic over the public internet, but you also have the option, you know, if you want to open using your VPN or any other existing security tools. We’re completely transparent through that, so we can work over your existing VPN or secure lines you already may have created.

Larry Jordan: Is this product designed only for large enterprises, or is it affordable by smaller shops?

John Tkaczewski: It’s usually for, I would say, medium to large. That usually would be our target audience. On the smaller side, we might have a company with maybe a handful of people but they are moving a lot of big data and for them it’s a big pain point, so they will acquire our software or license our software. On the larger side, well, then you have the big large production studios and broadcast networks, TV networks and so on, that use the software on the larger enterprise side of things.

Larry Jordan: For this to work, you would need to have FileCatalyst at both ends – the person sending the file and the person receiving the file.

John Tkaczewski: That’s correct.

Larry Jordan: So when the software is licensed, does each side have to license the software? Or can one side license for both sides?

John Tkaczewski: Well, that’s the nice part of our licensing arrangement, is that when we provide you a server license, the client applications come with it, so you can give the client application to all the parties that you need to exchange files with, so they don’t need to purchase anything more to send files to and from your file… server.

Larry Jordan: So receiving is free, sending costs money.

John Tkaczewski: Well, those clients are bi-directional, right? So you could be installing the client for somebody that you want to send files to, but also the same customer or client could also upload files back to your server, because our licensing is always based on the server, the central spot where your media resides and where you’re going to have all your users connecting and transferring files.

Larry Jordan: And how is it priced?

John Tkaczewski: The pricing starts at around $5,000 for a perpetual license and that’s a lifetime license that you don’t have to pay an annual cost because it’s just the software. We also have packages on cloud providers, for example Amazon, if you want to install something on AWS, we have a pre-installed FileCatalyst server you can try, as well as on Windows and we also run our own hosted service as well, if you want to do just a monthly service type of thing.

Larry Jordan: And what servers does it run on?

John Tkaczewski: It runs on Windows, Mac OSX and Linux, as well as some other more specific systems, like Solaris as well will run on that.

Larry Jordan: So you’re buying the license for a server. The server allows you to send files to a client, the client to send back to the server and the server license starts at $5,000?

John Tkaczewski: For a perpetual license, yes.

Larry Jordan: And the benefit is it’s worth getting into if you have at least a ten megabit upload speed to be able to take advantage of the speed that your file transfer protocol supports.

John Tkaczewski: That’s correct.

Larry Jordan: This is very cool.

Mike Horton: I think so too.

John Tkaczewski: Sorry?

Larry Jordan: Mike and I are just nodding our heads, saying this is very cool. Congratulations. It just took us a while to figure out how it works.

Mike Horton: Thank you for clarifying that, Larry.

John Tkaczewski: We do offer free evaluations. You can go to our website and register for a free evaluation and we’ll give you a license for free for a month. Also, if you want to test it on maybe one of the cloud deployments, you can also go to one of our cloud centers and purchase an instant FileCatalyst server on the cloud.

Larry Jordan: Cool. And for people who want to learn more, what website can they go to?

John Tkaczewski: They can go to filecatalyst.com, that’s probably the best website. That’s filecatalyst.com.

Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, F-I-L-E-C-A-T-A-L-Y-S-T, filecatalyst.com and John Tkaczewski is the Co-Founder and President of FileCatalyst. John, thanks for joining us today.

John Tkaczewski: Thank you very much, Michael and Larry, for having me.

Mike Horton: Thank you very much. That was great.

Larry Jordan: Talk to you soon. Bye bye.

John Tkaczewski: Thank you.

Larry Jordan: Since founding LC Technology International in 1997, which seems almost too long ago to even consider, David Zimmerman has built it into one of the premier sources for Windows and OS10 based file and data recovery solutions. He’s been working in the data recovery software industry for 15 years, in software for 25, which means he’s got a pretty good understanding of what it takes to get our lost files back. Welcome, David.

David Zimmerman: Hi there. How are you guys doing today?

Larry Jordan: We are talking to you, we’re having a great time so far. David, what got you interested in what seems to be the enormously boring subject of data recovery in the first place?

Mike Horton: Until you lose it.

David Zimmerman: True. Well, you know, it’s not really a boring field. It’s actually kind of interesting, you know? I got started back in the early ‘80s building systems and selling CAD/CAM systems and got into some dialogistic and test related products for a number of years and got involved with data recovery and it’s an intriguing field.

Larry Jordan: Especially if you’re losing data, yes.

Mike Horton: Yes.

David Zimmerman: Yes, definitely. Well, yes, and it’s something that’s pretty specialized but it happens to everybody and some of the things that have happened to people that have lost things, you know, some of the stuff is irreplaceable and it makes you feel good at the end of the day when you’re making products that make people happy.

Mike Horton: David, you know, all of us, we try so hard and we have all this redundant backup and all this other stuff and still things happen. How come it happens?

David Zimmerman: You know, there’s… things that happen. Inexperience and, you know, you have mechanical failures, you have physical problems with some of the devices. One of the companies that we work with is SanDisk, we’ve been doing their data recovery since 2002 and we make their RescuePRO products as well for them, but I think we had a little over 20,000 devices come into our lab for recovery services over the last ten years, all kinds of problems – water, run over by a car, chewed on by a dog. Things happen and you can’t always be protected from stuff like that.

David Zimmerman: One of the things you’ve got to do is be really careful handling the cards, you know, that you’re using and if you’re not using them, put them in a case…

Mike Horton: And don’t step on them.

David Zimmerman: Don’t step on them, don’t leave them in the sun in your car, you know, be careful, don’t touch the contacts, don’t eject the cards from your camera while it’s on, shut it off before you eject the card and, you know, one of the other things we seem to see a lot of is static electricity with some of the small micro SD cards.

Larry Jordan: Well, that gets to another issue. Can we store data on an SD card for some period of time, or is it not safe? Should we just use it for temporary work only?

David Zimmerman: I store almost all my files on all different types of Flash stuff. They don’t have that…, they don’t wear out. Yes, you’ve got to be careful with them but, you know, for permanent storage, personally I keep my stuff on, I’ve got about a dozen Flash drives and I have copies and stuff everywhere.

Mike Horton: Yes, see, he can say that because he knows how to recover it.

Larry Jordan: Well, yes.

David Zimmerman: Fortunately, I have never lost anything. But you’ve got to be careful and, with the right tools, when it does happen to you, you can get your stuff back. You’ve just got to be careful about how you do it.

Larry Jordan: It sounds to me, and correct me if I’m incorrect, but DriveSavers has made a career out of recovering crashed hard disks and it sounds like you’re working on a company which recovers stuff from solid state media. Is that a true distinction?

David Zimmerman: Correct. Yes, sir. You know, we make software for hard drives, but if it’s a physical problem with a hard drive, we don’t bother dealing with that stuff. We specialize in Flash. You know, Flash is slowly replacing everything that’s out there and pretty much everything has Flash in it now as well.

Larry Jordan: But Flash has got some real challenges because it doesn’t store data the same way that a hard disk does. How do you actually physically recover a Flash drive that’s gone bad?

Mike Horton: Well, wait a minute, teach me something here. How is it different than the hard drive in Flash media?

David Zimmerman: Well, we have special equipment and we take the actual memory chip off of the circuit board. We have some software that emulates a controller and we’re able to read and image the memory chip to pull the data off of it. It’s a little bit different than using a hard drive and having to rebuild the drive, replace the motor or head or, you know, any of the moving components. It is a little bit easier to work on some of the Flash stuff. Personally, I think so.

Larry Jordan: David, if I remember correctly, the actual data is stored on a typical RAM chip, but the RAM chip is connected to a specialized controller chip which does both data encryption and data compression and the controller chip varies by manufacturer, so in order to recover a chip, you have to understand who made it because that tells you what controller you have to work through to be able to figure out how the data is stored on the chip. Is my understanding correct?

David Zimmerman: Yes, yes. Yes, yes, yes, and there’s ways to figure it out and reverse the patterns, the right patterns, so you can understand how the data is actually written, the algorithms and as you get into other devices that have more than one chip, you have to interleave the data back together. It’s a fairly complex thing but, you know, we’ve got three guys in the labs sitting there all day and that’s all they do is, you know, pull memory chips off of circuit boards off of damaged Flash devices.

Larry Jordan: And wave magic wands and recover the data.

David Zimmerman: Well, a lot of the software that we use is pretty high end stuff, it’s self-learning so there are only so many models and manufacturers that are out there and eventually you’re increasing the database of controller information that you’ve got.  You have to try different combinations and know what you’re doing but it is possible to do, and encryption really isn’t an issue. There are some that do that, military, they’re a little bit more expensive but for the average consumer/end user, a compact Flash or an SD card, the data’s on it…

Larry Jordan: Two questions coming in from our live chat. The first one is how do we decide what’s a reliable SD card or are they all the same? What brands are worth getting?

David Zimmerman: When you take them apart and look at them, they look the same. You’ve only got a handful of manufacturers that make the actual chips. You have even more companies that make the actual controllers. Personally, I stick to some of the brand name products. I usually buy SanDisk products.

Mike Horton: That seems to be the one that gets all the buzz. It’s a frequently asked question on the internet and everybody says SanDisk.

David Zimmerman: Yes.

Larry Jordan: And the other question in our live chat is how reliable are USB readers? Are they going to damage the card?

David Zimmerman: No, not unless you try and stick the card in upside down, and that’s an important thing because, you know, you get a lot of people with cameras and the cards are getting bigger and the batteries will die while they’re trying to transfer their data because they’ve got the camera plugged into the computer. Get the card out of the camera and put it in a USB reader and use a reader that’s typically faster.

Larry Jordan: Where can people go on the web to learn more about the products you’ve got and the services you provide?

David Zimmerman: They can go to our website, which is www.lc, then a hyphen and then the word tech, T-E-C-H, .com. (lc-tech.com)

Larry Jordan: And David Zimmerman is the CEO and Founder and President of LC Technology. The website is lc-tech, L-C hyphen tech.com. David, thanks for joining us today.

David Zimmerman: No problem, guys. Good talking to you.

Mike Horton: Thanks David.

Larry Jordan: Bye bye.

Larry Jordan: Ok, Michael, it’s time. Are you warmed up?

Mike Horton: Rubbing my hands together as we speak.

Larry Jordan: Are you getting ready for this incredible moment?

Mike Horton: Checking my voice. Na-na-na-na-na-na-na. Ok, I’m ready.

Larry Jordan: Let us not check that voice any more.

Mike Horton: All right, ok.

Larry Jordan: The voice is perfect. Are you ready?

Mike Horton: Yes.

Larry Jordan: Michael approaches the microphone, grasping it with both hands. He takes a big stentorian breath and he says it’s time for…

Mike Horton: Pick Our Brains.

Larry Jordan: That wasn’t too bad.

Mike Horton: It’s the only reason I’m here, just to do that.

Larry Jordan: Actually, the reason is to make me giggle after you’re done. That’s the real reason. Do you have a Pick Our Brains question?

Mike Horton: I do have a Pick Our Brains question and it is quite timely.

Larry Jordan: While you’re getting ready to read that, by the way, we will take emailed Pick Our Brains questions, just send it.

Mike Horton: That’s right, yes.

Larry Jordan: Pickourbrains@digitalproductionbuzz.com.

Mike Horton: We want to remind you there are no stupid questions, because I am the one who asks the stupid questions, I’m in charge of the stupid questions and anyone else who comes up with questions, they are not stupid, and this one is not stupid.

Larry Jordan: And so what is it?

Mike Horton: And it is timely. Larry, should we upgrade to OS10 Mavericks?

Larry Jordan: Well, I was just about to say yes until Eric was on our live chat saying that Mavericks has been a nightmare for him, so the answer’s a decided maybe.

Mike Horton: Ok. Well, I mean, here’s the consensus out there for people who are waiting for Mavericks or people who have taken the plunge, because you and I know that you’re stupid to upgrade to a major operating system upgrade in the middle of a project and you just don’t do that, so we assume that nobody out there does that.

Larry Jordan: Of course they do, but don’t do it.

Mike Horton: Except for you.

Larry Jordan: Wait for the project to finish, then upgrade.

Mike Horton: All right, anyway, so what works or what is supportive…

Larry Jordan: Wait, wait, wait, wait, that’s my question. Michael, based upon your extensive research of the industry, what works and what doesn’t?

Mike Horton: Well, Final Cut 7 works with OS10 Mavericks. What is problematic is some of the third party plug-ins. However, there have been some people out there, like my friend Ben King, who have tested a lot of these third party plug-ins and have found them all to work. Now, he hasn’t tested all of them and there are some out there that probably don’t work, but most of them – going all the way back to Joe’s Filters and Eureka actually work – seriously – work with Mavericks. After Effects has issues. Premier Pro supports Mavericks. It supposedly does not have any issues. Avid supports Mavericks, I believe. I have not heard any big issues. And Final Cut X supports it, no issues as far as I’ve heard.

Mike Horton: Now, our friend Eric, he’s got issues.

Larry Jordan: Yes, he’s been having some frequent crashes and freezes, so it points out, I think, a bigger point, and Adrian makes this on our chat, where an operating system upgrade is not a trivial thing. What you want to do is…

Mike Horton: No it’s not.

Larry Jordan: …you don’t upgrade in the middle of a critical project and you don’t upgrade your only editing system. You can create easily, inside DiskUtility, create a dual boot, which is what I did with one of my editing systems, I created dual boot so one side is 10-8 and the other is 10-9 and I’ve loaded my stuff to 10-9, which is Mavericks, and I’m just testing it and where stuff works, great, and where it doesn’t, it tells me where I need to be cautious.

Larry Jordan: So far, my personal experience is relatively successful with Mavericks. I haven’t had problems.

Mike Horton: Well, there is another big issue out there and it’s a big issue and I believe Apple and Western Digital are working together, because there are a lot of issues with that hard drive.

Larry Jordan: Oh, and I have an update. I sent a note over to Western Digital, because I was going to write about…

Mike Horton: Do you know those guys? You know everybody, right? They write you, they give you free tours.

Larry Jordan: Well, the cool thing is they answer my questions, that’s the cool thing.

Mike Horton: Really?

Larry Jordan: I sent a note over to Western…

Mike Horton: I write them, they don’t write me back.

Larry Jordan: Will you let me finish, for heaven’s sakes? This is…

Mike Horton: Wish I was Larry Jordan. Go ahead, Larry.

Larry Jordan: I contacted the folks at Western Digital, because about two and a half weeks ago they put out an emergency notice saying if you have Western Digital hardware, there is a chance that it’s not going to work under Mavericks because of the software that they use on their hard disks. So two days ago, I sent an email over to the press people at Western Digital saying has there been any change in Western Digital’s support for Mavericks or is it still a problem? And, as of two days ago, Western Digital is not advising you to use Western Digital hard drives on Mavericks because of the software that they’re using as the underlying controllers of their hard disks.

Larry Jordan: I said please keep me informed and I’ll tell the world as soon as Western Digital gets this fixed.

Mike Horton: Aren’t they, like, the only hard drive manufacturer left? I mean, they bought every friggin’ company. Hitachi, they were bought by, was it Western Digital?

Larry Jordan: Yes, well, they’re running in parallel at the moment. Western Digital owns Hitachi but they’re not fully integrated yet.

Mike Horton: Ok, so Western Digital isn’t making the Hitachi…

Larry Jordan: No, it’s the software that’s driving it. It’s not the drives themselves.

Mike Horton: Samsung, is that still a separate…

Larry Jordan: Seagate is Samsung.

Mike Horton: Seagate. So it’s Western Digital and Seagate, they’re the only two manufacturers out there.

Larry Jordan: There are three, but those are the…

Mike Horton: There are?

Larry Jordan: Yes, and I’m blanking on the third one at the moment.

Mike Horton: Why don’t we start one? Let’s make hard drives.

Larry Jordan: I can’t polish metal that nicely. Michael, what? You doing an honest days’ work?

Mike Horton: You know, you’ve got to take chances in life, Larry. Let’s just start a hard drive company.

Larry Jordan: As if we don’t have enough pain in our lives. I want to thank our guests this week, starting with Bryan Carroll, the writer and director of Why We Ride.

Mike Horton: I can’t wait to see that movie.

Larry Jordan: That’s a documentary feature film that’s going to be really cool; Philip Hodgetts of Intelligent Assistance on coping with change; John Tkaczewski, the President of FileCatalyst…

Mike Horton: I think it’s Tkaczewski, but never mind. What do I know?

Larry Jordan: …who told us how to move media into the fast lane; and David Zimmerman, the CEO, Founder and President of LC Technology International, keeping us safe when we use our solid state media.

Larry Jordan: There’s a lot happening at The Buzz between shows. Visit digitalproductionbuzz.com, click on ‘Latest News’ and get the latest in the industry. Talk with us on Twitter @dpbuzz, and Facebook, at digitalproductionbuzz.com. The Buzz is streamed by wehostmacs.com. You can email us – info@digitalproductionbuzz. Our producer, the ever beautiful Cirina Catania; my co-host, Mike Horton. My name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to The Buzz.

Mike Horton: Bye everybody.

Voiceover: This Digital Production Buzz was brought to you by Blackmagic Design, creators of the world’s highest quality solutions for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries.

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