Digital Production Buzz
December 26, 2013
[Transcripts provided by Take1.tv]
Philip Hodgetts, President, Intelligent Assistance
Michael Kammes, Director, Technology & Marketing, Key Code Media
Jerome Courshon, Film Distribution Expert, Distribution LA
Cirina Catania, Producer, Digital Production BuZZ
Michele Yamazaki, VP of Marketing, Toolfarm
Ned Soltz, Contributing Editor, Digital Video Magazine
Jessica Sitomer, President, The Greenlight Coach
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: Happy holidays everybody, and welcome to The Digital Production Buzz, the leading internet podcast covering digital video production, post production and distribution around the world. My name is Larry Jordan and joining us is our co-host, the ever handsome Mr. Christmas himself, Mike Horton.
Mike Horton: Ah, Merry Christmas to you, Larry.
Larry Jordan: Merry Christmas, Mike.
Mike Horton: There’s still grumbling in my tummy.
Larry Jordan: Yes, but I hope your holidays were happy, and did you get a chance to sleep late yesterday?
Mike Horton: I didn’t, but who cares? It was a wonderful day. I got a George Foreman grill.
Larry Jordan: Oh, hey. Did you cook anything on it?
Mike Horton: Not yet, but I’m waiting for it. I’m reading the instructions as we speak. I think it’s just put food here, close lid, wait for light to turn off.
Larry Jordan: And that’s it?
Mike Horton: That’s it. That’s what the manual says. Built for me.
Larry Jordan: I was going to say it’s simple enough even Mike can use it.
Mike Horton: Exactly.
Larry Jordan: Tonight’s show is a look back at 2013 from a variety of perspectives. Next week, our crew of intrepid prognosticators takes on what we learned or perhaps didn’t learn in 2013 and shares their thoughts on what will happen in 2014. We’re going to start with Philip Hodgetts, the President of Intelligent Assistance, with an overview of the major technology trends this last year.
Larry Jordan: Then Philip is joined by Michael Kammes, the Director of Technology and Marketing for Key Code Media on what post production gear folks were actually buying. It’s one thing to have a trend; it’s another for people to spend hard earned money and put it to work in their shop.
Larry Jordan: Then film distribution expert Jerome Courshon stops by with his thoughts on distribution trends and what we learned about making money on our projects. Cirina Catania, PGA Producer and the producer of The Buzz joins Jerome with her thoughts on distribution for broadcast and cable, along with the hot guest subjects that she considered throughout the year.
Larry Jordan: Michele Yamazaki, the Director of Marketing for Toolfarm and a certified plug-in-ologist looks at the top plug-ins and utilities that caught her attention. Michele is then joined by the ever-affable Ned Soltz, the contributing editor for Digital Video Magazine with a look at the toys and gear and toys and toys that…
Mike Horton: Gear and more toys. Maybe we’ll talk about George Foreman’s grills.
Larry Jordan: Probably, but he’s more than just a one light kind of guy, that makes all the craziness of production worthwhile. Finally, we wrap up with Jessica Sitomer, the President of The Greenlight Coach on employment trends over 2013.
Mike Horton: I bet Jessica likes George Foreman grills. Let me put a poll in our chat. Anybody like George Foreman grills?
Larry Jordan: You know, whatever it takes to feed the crew.
Mike Horton: That’s new technology. We could talk about that, you know? If we have a couple of minutes at the end of the show, we’ll talk about George Foreman grills.
Larry Jordan: I will add that to the list. I love these year end shows, in spite of Michael’s help, because it helps all of us to get a much better understanding of the forces and trends that are driving our industry and next week, well, we’ll see if we can figure out where those trends are gonna take us.
Larry Jordan: By the way, we are offering 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 it possible.
Larry Jordan: You know, Mike, I’m going to pin your feet to the floor on this. At the end of the show, we’re going to ask your opinions on what the hot trends were for 2013.
Mike Horton: That would be George Foreman grills.
Larry Jordan: That would be something other than a George Foreman grill. Remember to visit us on Facebook, at digitalproductionbuzz.com; we’re on Twitter, @dpbuzz, and subscribe to our weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com. We’ll be back with the ever-interesting Mr. Philip Hodgetts right after this.
Larry Jordan: The latest version of Da Vinci Resolve 10 is now shipping from Blackmagic Design. This new version includes innovative tools to speed on-set color grading, support for open effects plug-ins and simplified integration of Final Cut Pro, Avid and Premier Pro projects. This allows timelines to be easily moved in and out. You can even tweak your edits inside Resolve without wasting time switching back to your editing software just to make a simple change.
Larry Jordan: New editing features include full multi-track editing with 16 channels of audio per clip and unlimited video and audio tracks in the timeline. Da Vinci Resolve 10 can finish online from the original camera files for dramatically better quality. 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: Philip Hodgetts is the CEO of Intelligent Assistance and involved in the technology of virtually every area of digital video. He’s also a regular contributor to The Buzz and, as always Philip, welcome back.
Philip Hodgetts: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: So I have to ask to get us started, what made 2013 memorable to you in technology?
Philip Hodgetts: Well, I think things that make it memorable for me may not necessarily apply to everybody, but for me obviously the new Final Cut Pro 10.1 and the Mac Pro have been very important highlights of this year, even though they tended to hit right at the end of the year. I think it’s a little early to draw the absolute line on whether the Mac Pro is every bit as brilliant as it seems or whether it has flaws, but time will reveal that.
Philip Hodgetts: But I think one of the trends that really comes out of that and the new software, and I think it’s a meta trend, is the use of multiple GPUs in affordable hardware, and it’s not just the new Mac Pro that makes use of multiple GPUs. I was very pleased to find out first of all that, under Mavericks, my year old MacBook Pro Retina also gains use of the second built-in graphics. In fact, if it’s working with the built-in graphics to use the display, then its free graphics will be used for open CL, or vice versa depending on where the load is.
Larry Jordan: Now wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Why is dual GPUs so significant to you?
Philip Hodgetts: Well, you see, there’s thing called Moore’s law that doesn’t really hold for processors any more. We still get this increase in processing power, but we’re not getting it off the old CPUs. The CPUs, we’re getting more cores, but we really have reached a limit of the clock speed on the CPU. But what we can do to get a lot more processing power is to go to the GPU. Once upon a time, the GPU was just there for displaying pixels on a screen and not much more, and then we started to run little graphics programs on it through OpenGL and that led to wonderful things like Boris BLUE and real time 3D in various applications.
Philip Hodgetts: And then Apple started a trend that’s just become an open standard, called OpenCL and that’s computer language which means that the graphics card, this mega-processor in there, is now running the same sort of routines that you would run on the CPU and so we can’t increase the speed of the CPU, but we can give it an incredibly huge turbo boost by running a GPU with OpenCL and then we run a second GPU that’s not connected to any display and that’s just there for the OpenCL processing, so it’s a co-processor built into your computer for you.
Larry Jordan: So should we pay more attention to dual GPUs? Or should we pay more attention to CPU speed?
Philip Hodgetts: Oh, now that’s a really tricky question. It depends on what you are running. If you are running modern Apple software or if you’re running Premier Pro or Resolve, then absolutely focus on the GPU over CPU. If your main work is in Adobe After Effects, I would probably suggest giving more focus to the CPU than the GPU.
Philip Hodgetts: It depends on whether your application is written to use those GPUs and the multiple GPUs or not, and that’s something where the software developers have to catch up with the hardware.
Larry Jordan: Well that, I think, gets to the next really big question – are you seeing more changes in hardware over the last year or more changes in software? Was software playing catch-up in 2013 and hardware took the lead? Or was this last year a chance for software to get caught up?
Philip Hodgetts: I think yes to both. I think they’re constantly leapfrogging. We saw Apple hold back to release Final Cut Pro 10.1 until the new hardware was available, simply because it would really shine on the new hardware, but that’s a case of where the software was ready before the hardware but planned for the hardware that was not yet ready. Well, similarly Adobe released in mid-December an upgrade to Premier Pro that takes advantage of a second GPU, particularly in the new Mac Pro but presumably also in anything running Mavericks we will see this support of the second GPU. So we get a performance boost without having to break the laws of physics.
Larry Jordan: It seems to me that we’ve always been leapfrogging. Hardware has to lead because nobody’s going to write software for hardware that doesn’t exist, so hardware has to take a lead, but there’s a lot of hardware features that get implemented that software just doesn’t care about, that never actually get realized in software, so it’s sort of like this reinforcing cycle. What are the key things, in addition to the OpenCL that you saw, that you’ve seen in editing systems besides Premier support for dual GPUs and the hot news of the moment, which is the release of Final Cut 10.1? Anything else catch your eye over the last year that relates to post?
Philip Hodgetts: Well, of course, we’ve seen the higher end finishing tools come down in price and/or go up in features. Resolve was never considered to be a finishing tool until we get to Resolve 10. A color tool for certain, but without some at least rudimentary editing tools, it wasn’t a finishing tool and now we’re seeing that Blackmagic Design are taking Resolve into the realm of Smoke and of Avid’s Symphony into the finishing world and we’ve seen a new release of Smoke this year that also brings incredible post effects down in price. I think that’s the one trend overall in this, in both hardware and software. Across the board, we’re getting more value for our hardware and more value for our software because the quality and performance keeps going up and the price keeps coming down.
Larry Jordan: Well, I want to invite Michael Kammes, the Director of Technology and Marketing for Key Code Media, to join us. Hello, Michael.
Michael Kammes: Hello. Good evening, gentlemen.
Mike Horton: Hi Michael.
Philip Hodgetts: Hi Michael.
Larry Jordan: Michael, Philip was just talking about the fact that the high end systems have started to support a regular standard. They’ve come down in price and increased in features and obviously Autodesk has made a huge move in the market to try to make themselves more visible. What’s your take? Do you agree with Philip or do you have a different spin on this?
Michael Kammes: I couldn’t agree more. If we look at some of the marketing for Autodesk at NAB, they were showing it on a NetBook Pro, they were showing it on underpowered computers and making a very vocal push as to using almost off the shelf hardware to run their software, so I couldn’t agree more. That’s completely right on target.
Larry Jordan: Philip was also saying that this is a chance for software to catch up, that hardware’s taken the lead, especially with dual GPUs. What do you think of that?
Michael Kammes: I kind of wish I could argue with you, Philip, but you’re just spot on tonight.
Larry Jordan: You’re not helping a whole lot, Michael.
Michael Kammes: I know, I know. No, he’s completely right. The price point of both the hardware and the software to run concurrently with one another and have multiple software solutions on one hardware platform and that hardware platform’s supporting all the different software platforms just make the entry point for these kind of technologies astronomically low.
Larry Jordan: Philip, what trend caught your eye that may not have hit the main media, that the rest of us may not have noticed this last year?
Michael Kammes: There was a big push for collaborative remote editing.
Larry Jordan: Michael, hold still. Philip.
Philip Hodgetts: You’ll go in a minute. But I agree with him.
Mike Horton: I agree with him. We all agree with him.
Philip Hodgetts: Yes, there’s a big push towards collaborative but outside, really, of a media composer environment, we’ve really not seen that level of collaboration with anything else. But I also think the trend – once again I’m going to mention it – towards bigger sensors, we’ve got more sensitivity, we’ve got some really major changes in the acquisition side and there’s never been a better time to produce, I think, because we can produce amazing images in next to no time for next to no money. If you’ve got an idea, it’s time to produce.
Larry Jordan: We’re going to have Ned Soltz on a little later in the show and, as you know, he loves talking about cameras and the trend towards larger sensors, I think, is exactly right on. Philip, for people who want to keep track of you, where can they go on the web?
Larry Jordan: That’s philiphodgetts.com and, Philip, thanks very much for joining us today.
Philip Hodgetts: Thank you very much.
Mike Horton: Thanks Philip.
Larry Jordan: Michael, what do you mean by a need for collaborative work?
Michael Kammes: Well, for years, the entry level to get into this kind of collaborative editing has been astronomically expensive. You had to spend a quarter of a million dollars or you had to spend a quarter of a million dollars on the brick and motar, right? The four walls in which you were editing – electricity, AC, all of that – and I think a lot of facilities are making their determination now that instead of real estate, they can buy a lower priced technology and have the editors work from the comfort of their own home or their favorite coffee shop and create a more interesting environment than bring them into a sterile four wall environment.
Larry Jordan: I was just left so stunned by the simplicity of your thought. You’ve told us what you thought was significant, but one of the things that you do at Key Code Media is you’re where the rubber meets the road. People are spending hard earned dollars to buy gear. What are they actually buying as opposed to all the cool trends that you and Philip are spotting?
Michael Kammes: What are they actually buying, is that the question?
Mike Horton: Mhmm.
Larry Jordan: Yes.
Michael Kammes: Well, lately it’s been grey matter, it’s been IT. The big thing this year has been the collaborative editing, the Avid Interplay Central and the Interplay Sphere, you know, servers and software that are allowing editors to edit remotely with proxies. It goes around Adobe Anywhere, which finally came out this year, and that, much like Avid Interplay, allows for remote editing in real time with a decent computer.
Michael Kammes: The other thing that’s been very big, and it’s not as exciting, but it’s automation, the things that editors used to do which would be transcode media in different formats and FTP it up and send an email saying it’s done. It’s now been automated through different hardware and software processes which, unfortunately, eliminates the need for a lot of manpower.
Mike Horton: I wonder, is it any different in Key Code, Seattle, Key Code, Chicago, Key Code San Francisco? Because you’re Key Code Los Angeles, so obviously collaboration’s a huge deal.
Michael Kammes: It’s a huge deal and I always put an asterisk whenever I send an email about something like this, because as much as we’d like to think LA is the blueprint for the rest of the world, it’s not. It kind of sets the benchmark for the quality of something that’s output, but not the exact tools which are made. Avid is still the undisputed king of editors here in LA, but if you go out to the mid-west, where I’m from, or other places round the world, it could be Premier, it could be Final Cut. It’s not locked into an Avid-centric workflow.
Larry Jordan: But when it comes to collaboration, Interplay is just Avid and Adobe Anywhere is just Premier. Are you seeing anything on the Final Cut platform that lends itself to collaboration? And where does EditShare fit into all of this?
Michael Kammes: Oh, EditShare. EditShare’s fantastic. EditShare is a fantastic piece of ethernet based storage, but it also has workflow tools like Flow and those allow for some level of Final Cut shared projects. It’s more versioning, it’s more this product is locked so you’re not using it, so it’s not a traditional shared product environment like you’d expect from Avid, but it does give you some level of flexibility of not overriding what someone else has done.
Larry Jordan: Are you doing any installations of Adobe anywhere? Or is that being done by Adobe themselves?
Michael Kammes: That’s a really good question. There’s a lot of misinformation in the market right now about what Adobe Anywhere is and how it’s done and how much it costs and right now Adobe Anywhere is through sanctioned integrators, which means you have to pass a whole litany of tests, you have to give up your first born, you have to go through training and Adobe christens you in a very knight-like ceremony. As of right now, I think there are eight or nine integrators around the country and they can do the Adobe Anywhere deployment, and it’s relatively involved. But we’re actually on our third install currently.
Larry Jordan: So you’re a certified installer?
Michael Kammes: Key Code Media is a certified integrator for Adobe Anywhere, yes.
Larry Jordan: And what types of companies are interested? Who’s been picking up on Adobe Anywhere?
Michael Kammes: We’ve got a lot of interest from folks who are already doing a lot visual effects which are After Effects heavy. We have people who have been big Final Cut houses who don’t want to make the move to Final Cut 10 and they want to go Premier. Thus far, there haven’t been any Avid-centric houses. It’s been primarily VFX and Final Cut-centric post facilities.
Larry Jordan: Mike and I are both focused on the Mac, but there’s a whole world of PC editing gear out there. Do you guys see anything interesting on the PC side?
Michael Kammes: Well, it’s a little known fact that Avid actually runs better on a PC. For years, there was a graphics card driver hiccup, so you just got better performance out of a PC. Thus far, there haven’t been any other changes in the PC editing realm. I’m seeing more in the transcoding and asset management realm. Some of the Enterprise transcoding solutions – it’s all about the management solutions – tend to run more and are more prevalent, there are more options, on a PC than a Mac.
Larry Jordan: What are some of the asset management systems you’re seeing interest in?
Michael Kammes: CatDV is fantastic. It’s a relatively low entry point and the customization is phenomenal, but it can still be overwhelming, so a lot of people are moving towards Axle, which is a newer asset management system. And then, of course, you go up from there to Avid Interplay and… and some of the larger systems.
Larry Jordan: So CatDV and Axle and then we move up to Interplay. Am I hearing correctly?
Michael Kammes: Yes, those are probably the most prevalent ones we’re seeing.
Larry Jordan: Cool. Michael, where can people go on the web to learn more about what trouble you’re causing?
Larry Jordan: That’s keycodemedia, all one word, or michaelkammes. Michael, thanks for joining us.
Mike Horton: Thanks, Michael. Happy New Year.
Michael Kammes: Thanks a lot, gentlemen.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Jerome Courshon is one of today’s leading experts in independent film distribution. He teaches a course – The Secrets to Distribution: Get Your Movie Distributed Now – to both beginning and established film makers and he’s become our go-to person on how to make money in our projects. Welcome, Jerome.
Jerome Courshon: Thank you. Great to be here.
Larry Jordan: So let me ask you the hard question for today – what trends have caught your eye that are memorable in 2013?
Jerome Courshon: The biggest trend is we’re continuing to see an expansion of online delivery of content to consumers, so we have Redbox Instant that launched earlier this year, Target Ticket launched a few months ago and Target Ticket is Target’s own VOD service, so that’s two new major players into the market this year; and M-GO, which a lot of people haven’t heard of and I guess they’re going to be doing eventually more marketing and publicity, but if you buy a new television set, you’re going to more than likely see a button on the remote, that beside the Netflix button and the Amazon button there is an M-GO button – you just hit the button and you’re there.
Jerome Courshon: So we’re seeing a continued transition which is, when you look at the revenues, still not earth shattering but it’s growing and the younger generation, the teenagers and the people in their 20s but pretty much under 35, they are less inclined to open up a cable account or a satellite account for pay TV. So we’re seeing seismic changes, albeit maybe not as seismic immediately.
Larry Jordan: Well, distribution is evolving like crazy, but are we seeing any kind of revenue coming in from all these different options? It seems like the online stuff is generating far less revenue than any kind of traditional distribution.
Jerome Courshon: Well, that’s interesting. It depends on the film. It’s hard to make a blanket generalization about everything, but I will say that, for instance, this year we’ve seen an increase in Blu-ray buying so, actually, contrary to a lot of predictions, Blu-ray sales are up; electronic sell-through sales are up, and electronic sell-through, for those of your listeners who wonder what I’m talking about, that’s buying a digital copy of the film that you then own and can play on multiple devices, so electronic sell-through, as of third quarter stats, has doubled over the last year.
Jerome Courshon: Now, that sounds significant and in a way it is, but it’s only at 764 million this year as of the end of the third quarter. There’s no billions in there yet. The increase in Blu-ray and electronic sell-through has offset the decline in DVD, so when we look at the revenue playing field, it’s still somewhat flat. By the stats that will come out in a week or two, we probably will see a bit of an increase this year over last year.
Jerome Courshon: The challenge for an independent film maker is how do you get a piece of that? How do you get into the revenue streams and the major markets so that you have a share of that? That’s the whole predicament of independent film making – having the right film, the right names in your film or developing the right pedigree where you’re desirable and Tribec Film wants you or Sundance selects one to you or somebody wants you where you’re going to be positioned, let’s say, in the VOD market in a significant way or enough of a way that people will find you and buy your film.
Larry Jordan: Well, I think that speaks to one of the key weaknesses of this whole process. We’ve talked about the fact that distribution is exploding, but it also means that the film maker is responsible for their own marketing and, for many film makers, marketing, distribution, sales, if they’d wanted to do that, they’d get a job in a regular industry.
Mike Horton: Yes.
Jerome Courshon: Yes.
Larry Jordan: So what trends are you seeing to help market independent films?
Jerome Courshon: This is the grand paradox in independent film making today. The market has become so glutted with independent films.
Mike Horton: Yes, that’s the problem. I can’t find them half the time.
Jerome Courshon: Right. It’s a buyer’s market, so if you want traditional distribution, if you want to be one of the big boys or even one of the major independent players, you’ve got to be desirable enough to them to want to spend the time, energy and money to do the marketing. If you’re not desirable enough to them, then the typical film maker has two choices – one, make their film desirable. That is, build a pedigree. That’s a concept I talk about in my classes and in my program. Build a pedigree so that your film is perceived as being successful or valuable and that it has an audience.
Mike Horton: And, of course, do that through social media.
Jerome Courshon: Sure. Yes, right, so social media, film festivals also. Or just do it yourself and Facebook. A lot of people, like me, have a love/hate relationship with Facebook, but the advertising capabilities to promote a film that you’re selling yourself on Facebook are enormous. The hyper targeting functions and capabilities are unmatched by anyone else in the world, so you can target the sale of your film to a very niche audience and that audience will find you and it doesn’t cost that much in the grand scheme of things to advertise.
Mike Horton: Jerome, Craig on our live chat is asking whether video on demand opens up any markets for short form features, or does everything have to be long form?
Jerome Courshon: No, absolutely there are opportunities for short form. I was just chatting with a colleague who has some short films and he’s got them available at a higher price point that I would do, but I think he says he has them available for 1.99 or 2.99 a viewing and these are short films and he’s making money. I would price it less than that for a short film, but you can do that by building your own infrastructure, which sounds complicated but it’s not. You can use Distrify, there are a lot of tools out there. Distrify is an embeddable platform player, so you could set up an account, upload your film and anyone can watch it wherever you embed that player at whatever price point you want. There are a lot of things that you can do to drive your audience to your film, short or long.
Larry Jordan: Jerome, I want to invite Cirina Catania, who’s both a Producer’s Guild producer and the producer of The Buzz to join us. Hello Cirina.
Cirina Catania: Hello everyone. Happy holidays.
Mike Horton: Hi Cirina. Happy holidays.
Larry Jordan: Happy holidays to you. Cirina, you’ve heard Jerome’s thoughts. From your perspective, what’s made distribution so challenging this last year?
Cirina Catania: Well, here’s what was going through my mind when I was listening to him, and I know it’s very easy for all of us to encourage everyone to do their own marketing, to do their own sales, but when you think about it, you mentioned electronic sell-through being up, but I think honestly, no matter how many of those we sell, the pricing is still bargain basement. $764 million sounds like a lot of money, but the top two movies of theatrical releases alone – The Hobbit and Frozen – raised more than that.
Cirina Catania: So only two movies made more money than the whole of the electronic sell and Blu-ray is up, but it’s still not making money, so I guess what we all have to work on in the coming years, and what I’ve been observing all last year, is do we want to be a big fish in a very little pond and make a little bit of money? Or do we want to help teach people how to become a smaller fish in a much larger ocean?
Cirina Catania: I would love to see us create some prosperity for our creative film makers, I really would. It’s been a tough year.
Jerome Courshon: Yes, and I couldn’t agree more and, in fact, Cirina, as you know, that’s what my whole raison d’etre is about with my master class and my program. It’s to teach film makers, you know, here are the major markets, here’s how to get into them and here’s what you need to do to increase sales and revenue and you’re either on your own or with a distributor, but recognizing that most distributors – especially with independent films – don’t do a lot of marketing, they don’t spend a lot of money marketing, so it’s still incumbent upon the producer to recognize whether they have the kind of film that a distributor’s going to spend a lot of money pushing? And, if not, do I want to raise that money or come up with it, a little P&A war chest, if you will, and juice my sales, juice the market so I’m getting the return that I’m looking for?
Larry Jordan: Jerome, for people who want to learn more about your classes and the help you can provide, what website can they go to?
Jerome Courshon: Very simple – it’s distribution.la.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, distribution.la, and Jerome Courshon is a film distribution expert. Jerome, thanks for joining us today.
Jerome Courshon: My pleasure. Thank you.
Mike Horton: Thanks, Jerome.
Larry Jordan: Cirina, you were going to say something and I cut you off.
Cirina Catania: Well, no, that’s a very interesting discussion. A lot of the smaller independent distribution companies are not making a lot of money, so they don’t have a lot of money to spend on marketing and sales and they’re struggling as much as the film makers are, but when you look at the list, for example, of the most successful VOD releases, I’m looking at VOD movies for the week of December 9 through 15, all top ten films and VODs that are making money that are the most successful are from major studios and they have money.
Cirina Catania: I’ve been on both sides of that fence. I mean, to open Rain Man many, many years ago on pre-opening and opening, we spent $15 million to help launch that movie, so sometimes it takes money to make money and I think past year on The Buzz, you know, Larry, we always talk about the balance between technology news and our wish to celebrate technology art, the creativity behind technology or the creativity in front of technology depending on which side of the fence you’re standing on, but 2013, honestly I didn’t feel like there were major, major milestones.
Cirina Catania: There was a wonderful ebb and flow. Yes, there were some new advances in technology and there were some new cameras and new software and hardware, but there wasn’t anything in 2013 that to me was like the invention of the television or the invention of the airplane. There wasn’t anything that major in my mind. It was a great year.
Mike Horton: There was no 3D. There was no buzz word like 3D, although 4K kind of tried.
Cirina Catania: There you go, but despite the fact that none of us really seemed to care much for it, 3D did make some money for the industry I think for the average studios, 3D comes and goes, but I think for me, looking at the macrocosm of what happened in 2013, what was most interesting to me was the economic struggle. The smaller independents with this really strong creative spirit is still swimming upstream and I think even services like Kickstarter started that were so exciting in the beginning are sort of selling out to the famous actors of the world who have money but who want to raise money on Kickstarter on their own and are taking that money away from the little people.
Cirina Catania: That’s always a trend in the economic wars, no matter what industry you’re in. I think there’s something that is going on that it going to change the face of our industry, and that’s the law suits that were entered into last year. Our labor laws are being tested. It’s been really difficult for people in our business to survive under the free internship system, because it’s knocking the foundation away from not just the entry level jobs that are disappearing for young kids who want to get paid to work, but also the veterans who are really qualified who are not getting paid because there are younger people who are working for free, who are not as good at it, right? May or may not be as good at it.
Cirina Catania: So what these law suits that are coming out against the major corporations like NBC Universal and Warner Music and Hearst and Fox Searchlight, I think that there are going to be some changes and I hope that that is going to be for the better. In the past year on The Buzz, I’ve been trying to bring people on to talk about all phases – the prep phase, budgeting and casting and the technology behind casting now, we’ve even had some sections on how to pitch and obviously we cover production and all the gear, and I’m anxious to hear what Ned’s going to say about gear – but we’ve celebrated creativity all through the year, which I loved, and of course all of our non-linear editing changes, I really am liking Final Cut 10 finally and I think I’m sort of in the middle of the road, so I may be typical of a lot of people who are finally making that jump.
Cirina Catania: I’m a big fan of Adobe and their subscription service. I didn’t think I would like that, but I think I’m pretty typical of many people who are accepting it now. So we cover music, we cover sound, we cover all those tools and then we also go to all the Expos. I don’t know if you’ve looked around, but there are hundreds and hundreds of Expos now, so how do you select the ones that you want? That’s another trend – everybody thinks they’re going to make money by producing an Expo.
Larry Jordan: Well, Cirina, I’m looking forward to hearing more next week, as you talk about where we’re headed for 2014, but what website can people check out what your thinking is?
Cirina Catania: They can go to the producer’s corner on The Buzz which, I’m sorry, I’m not updating as much as I should; or they can go to filmvault.biz and check out what we do.
Larry Jordan: That’s filmvault.biz. Cirina Catania the producer of The Buzz and, Cirina, thanks for joining us today.
Mike Horton: Thanks, Cirina.
Cirina Catania: Thank you. Bye Larry, bye Michael.
Larry Jordan: Talk to you soon. Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Michele Yamazaki is the VP of Marketing at Toolfarm. She’s written or couldn’t written two books on plug-ins, as well as becoming the go-to person on plug-ins for our editing systems. She’s also a regular here on The Buzz, which is always a good thing. Hello Michele.
Michele Yamazaki: Hello. How are you?
Larry Jordan: We are doing great. Happy holidays to you.
Michele Yamazaki: You too.
Larry Jordan: So I have to ask you the same question I’ve been asking everybody else – what’s been the hot trends in 2013 from the world of plug-is and utilities?
Michele Yamazaki: Well, the Video Copilot Element 3D is one of the big plug-ins. It came out over a year ago.
Larry Jordan: Now, why is that such a big deal?
Michele Yamazaki: Well, it allows you to move 3D objects in After Effects. You’re not really creating a model in there, but you’re taking existing models into After Effects. It’s really fast and you can use them like particles, so you can multiply different elements, whatever shape you’re using, and you can do some really cool things with it. They just had one come out which is their flight… it has airplanes, but that’s one of their newer ones that came out this year and it’s doing pretty well and it’s a really cool plug-in.
Mike Horton: Everything Andrew Kramer does is cool.
Michele Yamazaki: It sure is.
Mike Horton: He’s amazing.
Larry Jordan: The last few years have been very difficult on the industry. Is the industry, the people who make third party plug-ins and utilities, consolidating into a few big companies? Or is it splintering into a variety of smaller companies?
Michele Yamazaki: Well, it’s kind of doing a little bit of both. We see Red Giant growing, but then you see other smaller companies that aren’t updating their plug-ins any more and they just sort of go out of business. But then, with all of the Final Cut plug-ins, you have all of these new little developers and with AE Scripts also, there are so many little developers who are just one guy who makes a cool plug-in, or they end up making a few products. So it’s kind of a little bit of both.
Larry Jordan: Is technology changing so quickly that – and I’m going to ask Ned Soltz this in just a minute – that it isn’t worth it to develop for the technology of today, because by the time you get the product developed, the technology’s changed?
Michele Yamazaki: This is true. However, hopefully it will use the same basic underlying technology that you can just update and…
Mike Horton: Hasn’t it always been that way, though? Is it any different now than it was five years ago? It’s always changing, Larry.
Larry Jordan: Well, yes, but it’s changing quicker. If we look at what happened five years ago with the operating system updates from either Microsoft or Apple, it was maybe two years in an update cycle. Now it’s a year and in a year, if you’re doing any kind of significant software, you may not be able to get it developed by the time the operating system revs and then suddenly people say, “How come it doesn’t work on the latest version?”
Mike Horton: Yes, but every time we have that big update, you wait a month and by that time the developers catch up and they’re ready to go. I don’t know, I don’t see it as a huge deal. It’s just a lot of work for those poor guys.
Michele Yamazaki: Sure is.
Larry Jordan: Michele, what do you think?
Michele Yamazaki: Well, now that Adobe has the Creative Cloud, you know, they’ve kind of tried to move away from that one year cycle by having a subscription that will always be updated…
Mike Horton: Yes, it’s like one a week.
Michele Yamazaki: Yes. Well, with After Effects I’ve noticed they’ve been trying to do once a month, or with Premier they do a monthly update, so it’s been pretty good, I think. I haven’t heard of a lot of problems with it at all, no plug-in problems, no incompatibilities or anything like that, so hopefully it will stay that way and developers can just keep going working on their stuff and keeping it updated.
Larry Jordan: You hold the reins of power at one of the largest distributors of plug-ins in the known universe.
Michele Yamazaki: We do have a lot.
Larry Jordan: I want to know, as you look over the vast Toolfarm database, which products are the top sellers?
Michele Yamazaki: Well, Trapcode Particular has been big for the last few years and that continues to be a big seller. Video Copilot 3D Element and Optical Flares also continue to be big sellers. RE:Vision Effects ReelSmart Motion Blur…
Mike Horton: Oh, cool.
Michele Yamazaki: …that’s been a big one for a while. Frischluft, who make Lenscare, Lenscare’s been very popular. Plexus is one that people love and Sapphire and Boris Continuum Complete GenArts Sapphire so they’re probably the top sellers across the board there.
Larry Jordan: How are those priced? I know Boris Continuum is not inexpensive, but it sounds like most of those products tend to be a little bit at the higher price end. Is that true?
Michele Yamazaki: Well, Sapphire is the most expensive at $1,699, but then you get something like Plexus, it’s about $200, and Optical Flares I think is $129, so they’re really all over the board. Trapcode Suite is probably the biggest seller, but Trapcode Particular in particular of that package. That one runs $399, so they’re not the little cheap plug-ins, but they’re powerful.
Larry Jordan: It sounds to me like price is not an object. If you’ve got good effects software, then people will spend the money for it.
Michele Yamazaki: I think they will and I think some developers price their stuff too low for what they make. They’re great quality products; they should sell them for a little more, I think, then they have the perceived value too.
Larry Jordan: Are companies chasing the same goals, transitions and color effects? Or are they branching out into new areas?
Michele Yamazaki: There hasn’t really been a lot of big changes in the last couple of years. You have the Magic Bullets tools from Red Giant for color correction and a few particle effects and lens flares have been popular over the last couple of years, and then 3D and it seems to be that’s still happening, so not a lot of change in that area.
Larry Jordan: I’m going to bring Ned Soltz on in just a second, but one more question to you – what characteristics make for a successful product?
Michele Yamazaki: Well, it has to be solid and it has to be something that you can do a lot of different things with – no one trick ponies – that you can use over and over on multiple projects and it’s not going to be fail on you. That’s probably the biggest thing; and also, that it doesn’t have too much of a predefined look, because if someone can see that, “Oh, that looks just like such-and-such plug-in,” you know, it’s not what you want to hear.
Larry Jordan: Michele, I want to invite Ned Soltz, who’s the Contributing Editor for Digital Video Magazine, to join us. Hello, Ned.
Ned Soltz: Hello Larry, hello Michele.
Mike Horton: Hey Ned.
Michele Yamazaki: Hello.
Ned Soltz: And hello Michael.
Larry Jordan: Ned, would you agree with Michele’s comment? What makes a successful product?
Ned Soltz: Well, I think a successful product is something that people can ultimately use to produce a successful video, and that very well may be a large package like Boris Continuum Complete or Sapphire, or I wanted to add to that, particularly for people in the Final Cut Pro 10 and even Final Cut Pro 7 world, many of the very simple individual plug-ins available from FX Factory, Noise Industries.
Larry Jordan: So are you saying – good point, Michele – are you seeing any interest in aggregators like Noise Industries, who just rebranded themselves to FX Factory if I remember right, is that where small developers are going to be successful?
Michele Yamazaki: I think they have been successful there and AE Scripts has also been very successful and it’s the same type of thing, where you have smaller developers also in the same sort of product area.
Larry Jordan: So After Effects is something I need to pay more attention to. Is AE Scripts an aggregator or are they a developer?
Michele Yamazaki: They’re a developer. I’m not really sure how it all works, I haven’t really read into it, but they have a whole bunch of developers all working and selling through their site, basically.
Ned Soltz: Right, they’re an aggregator.
Mike Horton: Yes, I’m just looking them up right now. Yes, they are an aggregator.
Michele Yamazaki: An aggregator, ok.
Larry Jordan: Well, we’ve established that. Michele, for people who want to keep track of what you’re up to, which website do you recommend they go to?
Michele Yamazaki: Toolfarm.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, toolfarm.com, and Michele Yamazaki’s the VP of Marketing. Have a wonderful holiday, Michele, we’ll talk to you next week.
Michele Yamazaki: Thank you. Happy New Year.
Mike Horton: Thanks, Michele. Happy New Year.
Larry Jordan: Happy New Year.
Michele Yamazaki: Bye.
Larry Jordan: Mr. Ned, we have got all kinds of stuff to talk about.
Ned Soltz: Oh yes we do. It’s been a few months.
Larry Jordan: It has been and you have been a stranger for too long. What’s happening in the world of cameras?
Ned Soltz: Well, all kinds of things are happening really in the world of cameras right now. I think we’re anxiously awaiting the Blackmagic 4K camera. The very first footage of that has actually appeared right now. No RAW has appeared, but Blackmagic’s beta testers are now allowed to post some of their 4K ProRes footage, so we’re really waiting on that. And I suspect that we’re really going to see a whole spate of cameras at this NAB which really are going to be breaking into the 4K kind of realm and correspondingly into RAW as well.
Larry Jordan: Well, that gets me to a question I asked Michele that I want to ask you – are you seeing a sense of buyers’ exhaustion? With new cameras coming out so quickly, nobody wants to buy because whatever they get will be out of date within a couple of months.
Ned Soltz: It’s a combination of things. There’s buyer exhaustion. There’s the question of out of date. There’s a question of, I even call it a buyer paralysis, it’s what do I buy? And it seems that every other day I’m getting bombarded with the question, “What camera do I buy?” and the only answer I can give is what do you want to do with it?
Larry Jordan: Yes.
Ned Soltz: But at the same time, prices are high. Talking to a lot of independent shooters or even if I can use my business as an example, things have not been that great in 2013 for a lot of independent shooters. There’s a tremendous amount of competition, a tremendous amount of price erosion as well.
Larry Jordan: Well, also there’s a sense that producers want to buy the latest toy and, if you keep buying the latest toy, you’ll spend yourself into bankruptcy.
Ned Soltz: You’ll spend yourself into bankruptcy, absolutely, so I’m advising people, if you have a specific project, rent for that specific project and try to build that into your budget because there are so many choices, there are so many shooting scenarios that one has, one camera doesn’t fit all.
Mike Horton: I’m finding a lot of people – this is a male kind of thing with a lot of testosterone – who want to buy the latest gear and they’re the first ones to buy the RED and the first ones to buy the Epic.
Ned Soltz: Epic, right, or the first ones to update their RED to the Dragon sensor.
Mike Horton: But a lot of them are trading down and they’ve had their fun with the new cameras, but they’re also trading down to a C100 or a C300.
Ned Soltz: I was going to say C100. That’s becoming a tremendously popular camera. You can trade down to that and you’re in the low $5,000 and have a very portable unit, have something that can produce some very credible quality. I mean, I don’t know how Canon does it – these are supposedly eight bit cameras, but there’s some secret sauce in there that makes the video look a lot better than eight bit footage.
Larry Jordan: Ned, I’m going to have you answer a couple of questions as quickly as you can. We’re getting a lot of discussion on the live chat about whether 3D is dead. Are you seeing any interest in not consumer grade but prosumer and low pro level 3D cameras?
Ned Soltz: No.
Larry Jordan: Try not to say too short a sentence.
Ned Soltz: You know, I’d say 3D, you’re dead to me.
Mike Horton: I’ve got to throw this in, though, and I think you’ll see it at CES in this next month – the beginnings of the glass free 3D television sets and when that happens, maybe it’ll give a little spike to 3D again. Who knows? I don’t know. Who knows?
Ned Soltz: Maybe until you’re trying to watch them in your living room after two or three beers and then try to get up and vomit around the room…
Mike Horton: You know, let’s give it a shot.
Ned Soltz: …and then you’ll see how popular 3D is.
Mike Horton: Hey, Dolby’s coming out with one, so let’s give it a shot and see.
Ned Soltz: I’m open minded.
Larry Jordan: Ok, Ned, next short question – what products have you seen that are not camera related that stand out from the last year?
Mike Horton: George Foreman grill.
Ned Soltz: Well, I think Final Cut 10.1 is standing out in the last year. I’m really just getting into it right now and it’s a pretty big upgrade, and Da Vinci Resolve 10 as well I think is a pretty major upgrade for this past year. I’m very impressed with that. And then I think all of the rigs that I’m seeing to rig out, the Blackmagics or the Canons, a lot of very clever innovations; and then the most innovative product of all is the movie. That’s my top product of the year.
Larry Jordan: It seems like every time I turn around, I’m seeing a new version of an LED light. What were the hot trends in lighting? Or was it just a me too year?
Ned Soltz: It’s a me too year, I think, and also now that the licensing with light panels is solved and people are paying whatever licenses they have to, but we are seeing some innovations in some levels of LED lighting and I think it all has a place. But it’s mostly me too.
Larry Jordan: All right, well, we’re going to bring you back next week, because I’m really curious to see what your thoughts are for 2014. Don’t share them now because otherwise Mike won’t show up.
Ned Soltz: Oh, I won’t, I won’t. I will keep them absolutely to myself.
Larry Jordan: That’s it, keep them secret. And for people who want to keep track of what you’re doing, which website should they visit?
Ned Soltz: Well, creativeplanetcommunities is the best place to see me right now. Creativeplanetnetwork.com/digitalvideomagazine.
Larry Jordan: That’s creativeplanetnetwork.com/digitalvideomagazine. Ned Soltz, Contributing Editor to Digital Video Magazine. Ned, thanks for joining us today.
Ned Soltz: Good to speak with you again.
Mike Horton: Thanks.
Larry Jordan: Talk to you next week.
Mike Horton: Happy New Year, Ned.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
Ned Soltz: Same to you, Mike. Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Jessica Sitomer is a job coach and helps people find work. She’s also a regular on The Buzz and she’s the President of The Greenlight Coach, but what we like best about Jessica is that she’s really good at providing really helpful jobhunting advice. Hello, Jessica.
Jessica Sitomer: Hello.
Larry Jordan: Sorry to keep you up so late and attending all these parties and restaurants and doings on in Florida, thank you for taking a break to chat with us. So what’s happening in the world of work that caught your eye this last year?
Jessica Sitomer: I would say the biggest surprise and shocker of trends this year with work was that people were being hired based on the number of social media clout they had. In other words, people were being asked how many friends and followers they had and there’s an actual website called clout.com and producers and directors are comparing actors and people based on how much clout they had for the day and I just found that shocking because…
Mike Horton: Oh wow.
Jessica Sitomer: …you know, you think that your talent’s going to get you the job and then all of a sudden you realize that they’re checking how many people are following you on social media.
Mike Horton: Do you know that you can actually buy followers? I mean, they actually wrote a book on it, it was NPR.
Larry Jordan: Yes, I get emails once a week about that.
Mike Horton: The Paris Hiltons and the Lady Gagas and the Universal Studios are buying viewers and most of them are fake and it’s terrible.
Jessica Sitomer: I know.
Larry Jordan: Well, now that you’ve really got me depressed, are jobs getting more plentiful or are folks just giving up? Or is the industry as screwed up as it was a year ago?
Jessica Sitomer: I think that jobs are getting more plentiful, because there have been more outlets, I mean, with Netflixs and all the different places that are creating actual content, and then plus webisodes, people are actually putting money into webisodes now, money into people’s YouTube channels, so it’s not always in thoroughly Union work, but there’s so much more opportunity out there for people to be working. I mean, more than I’ve ever seen before, so I was excited about that this year.
Larry Jordan: What are the hot jobs?
Jessica Sitomer: The hot jobs. I would say online mediums, like I was just saying, like doing webisodes and YouTube type things because the regular networks, the regular studios, they’re still doing it the way they’ve always done it and so you have to know people and have those relationships. But, I mean, you can create webisodes and YouTube content wherever you live – just find a community of people and different types of people together and people are willing to spend money now in advertising dollars to get on your channel.
Larry Jordan: So the flip question is what jobs seem to be going away?
Jessica Sitomer: I would say that that really depends on people’s classification. Every year, there’s more technology being created and therefore maybe film isn’t being shot as much, so a film loader wouldn’t be necessary. With editing, the editing equipment has changed, so if you’re only skilled in one set then, you know, that’s going away. It really depends on what your classification is. You’ve got to be on top of what’s coming instead of resisting what’s coming.
Larry Jordan: Well, thinking of that, part of what we’re learning is that we’re in a freelance world where getting a staff job that lasts for any period of time is pretty much over, which means that half our time is spent working and the other half is spent looking for work. What marketing is working and what marketing techniques should we just stop using?
Jessica Sitomer: Well, what I noticed this year is that a lot more people in the entertainment community got involved in sending out either monthly or quarterly newsletters using MailChimp or Constant Contact so that people knew what they were up to in a professional way. More people reported getting jobs through people they met on Facebook this year than I’ve ever seen for my clients. Big names in the industry became more accessible through Twitter, I was able to get a lot of my clients talking to people who they wanted to meet that way. And for me, I noticed that Pinterest and Instagram started joining Facebook and Twitter on commercials, which meant it was time for me to learn about them, but I haven’t quite brought it out to the masses yet. I guess that’s for next week’s call.
Mike Horton: In 2014…
Jessica Sitomer: So yes, social media has really been a big, big growth spurt this year, more than ever as far as the entertainment industry goes.
Larry Jordan: So for somebody who wants to spend some time polishing their skills, learning social media is probably the best investment?
Jessica Sitomer: Yes, I would say right now, because in-person networking is always going to be the best way and that is a skill that will never go away and will always be necessary, but social media is new for a lot of people and a lot of people are very resistant to it or they think it’s for their kids or they just don’t understand the business side of it, so knowing that when you see products on TV and you’re seeing a P that you don’t what that means, it’s Pinterest, or the camera for Instagram and you’re thinking, “Oh, my college kids are using this,” know that there are brands using that, so you have to find out, “Well, how can I use this for me?”
Larry Jordan: Mike and I were both taking notes. We’ll come back to you in just a second.
Mike Horton: Yes, we’re just pontificating on 2014.
Larry Jordan: We’re looking forward to chatting with you again next week, when we talk about the trends in 2014. But as we take one last look back at 2013, is there reason for hope or is there reason for just being discouraged?
Jessica Sitomer: You’re talking to a career coach. There’s always reason for hope, always. I mean, all of this stuff means more opportunities. I mean, all the social media stuff should be so embraced – it’s free! I mean, they’re finding little ways to monetize it, but every time they do a new social media site pops up, you know, then you have choices. But absolutely, more accessibility on the web, doing webisodes, getting opportunities to be seen that way, there’s just so much possibility now. I’m extremely hopeful and excited.
Larry Jordan: And this is why we talk to you. Jessica, which website can people go to to keep track of what you’re doing?
Jessica Sitomer: Thegreenlightcoach.com.
Larry Jordan: All one word – thegreenlightcoach.com – and Jessica Sitomer is the President of The Greenlight Coach. Jessica, have a very happy holiday. We’ll talk to you next year and next week.
Mike Horton: Happy New Year, Jessica.
Jessica Sitomer: Happy New Year.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
Jessica Sitomer: Bye.
Larry Jordan: So, Mike, you’ve had a chance to hear everybody and…
Mike Horton: Feels nice to put a smile on my face after talking to Jessica.
Larry Jordan: You know, Jessica’s the perfect person…
Mike Horton: She’s the one that always puts a smile on my face. Gives me that little hope after you depress me.
Larry Jordan: What are your thoughts for last year?
Mike Horton: I didn’t see any trends. I didn’t see that big of a difference between 2013, 2012 and 2011. I think everything is just these little incremental updates and changes. If there was a buzz word in 2013, I don’t know what it was. There usually is. Social media might be one year, 3D might be another year.
Larry Jordan: 4K?
Mike Horton: 4K, but 4K was a buzz word in 2012 and I haven’t seen a lot of actual real work done with 4K other than going to a movie theater and seeing something screened in 4K, so I don’t know if there’s a big, big trend going on and if there is, you tell me, Larry, because you’re much smarter than I am and time is running out anyway.
Larry Jordan: I’m anxious to talk to our crew, including Mike, next week. I want to thank our guests this week – Philip Hodgetts, the President of Intelligent Assistance; Michael Kammes, Director of Technology and Marketing for Key Code Media; film distribution expert Jerome Courshon; Cirina Catania, producer of The Buzz; Michele Yamazaki, Director of Marketing for Toolfarm; Ned Soltz, Contributing Editor for Digital Video Magazine; and Jessica Sitomer, President of The Greenlight Coach.
Larry Jordan: There’s a lot happening at The Buzz. Be sure to visit our website at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Our producer, the ever optimistic Cirina Catania; our engineer is Adrian Price. On behalf of Mike Horton, my name is Larry Jordan. Have a wonderful holiday, we’ll see you next year and thanks for listening to The Buzz.
Mike Horton: Happy New year, everyone.
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.