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Transcript: Digital Production Buzz – Feb. 6, 2014

Digital Production Buzz

February 6, 2014

[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]

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HOSTS

Larry Jordan

Michael Horton

GUESTS

Brad Malcolm, President, Athentech Imaging

Jonathan Handel, Entertainment Attorney, Troy Gould

Hans-Werner Meyer, Actor

Jessica Sitomer, President, The Greenlight Coach

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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 world’s longest running podcast; covering creative content producers and tech news from media production, post-production, marketing and distribution around the world.  My name is Larry Jordan and joining us as our co-host is Mr Mike Horton.

Michael Horton: Hello Larry.

Larry Jordan: It’s good to have you back; we missed you last week.

Michael Horton: Really, is this the world’s longest, really?

Larry Jordan: Yes.

Michael Horton: It is?

Larry Jordan: Well the longest is All Things Digital, which Adam Curry started and we are the second largest.  We are the second oldest podcast in the world.

Michael Horton: Well I’ll be darned.

Larry Jordan: See, you’ve been with us so long you didn’t even realize.

Michael Horton: That’s going to be our legacy, you know that?

Larry Jordan: It is, people are going to remember us for the Buzz.

Michael Horton: Put that on the old…

Larry Jordan: Which is a frightening thought.

Michael Horton: Yes, I was part of the second longest podcast in the world.

Larry Jordan: Mm, walking those pods up from Texas to the trains in Colorado.

Michael Horton: We’ll be doing this in our walkers for the next 20 years.

Larry Jordan: But people who we are going to talk to before then include our guests for this evening.  We’re going to start with Brad Malcolm, he’s the President of Authentic Imaging.  They make a product called Perfectly Clear, which is image correct software.

Michael Horton: Have you seen this?  It’s incredible.

Larry Jordan: I’ve watched the website, it’s incredible.  Perfectly Clear was born 12 years ago, it’s become dominant in the image correct sector of the market; especially in places like photo houses; people that print photos.

Michael Horton: Oh yes, one click takes your crappy photo and boom.  It’s like taking your bad voice and auto tuning it.

Larry Jordan: What is does is, with the exposure it just…well we’re going to talk to him.

Michael Horton: I don’t know how they do it.

Larry Jordan: It’s magic.  Jonathan Handel, another magician, is Of Counsel, at Troy Gould in Los Angles.  He stops by to discuss the latest in a series of Producer Guild negotiations in Hollywood; this one’s the Writer’s Guild.  These negotiations started with a bang and it wasn’t a good one.  We’ll find out why and what tonight.

Larry Jordan: Hans Werner Meyer is one of the leading film actors in Germany and he’s on the board of the directors of the German Actors Guild.  He joins us this week from Berlin to talk about creating a career as an actor; why Germany didn’t have an Actors Guild until seven years ago; and their upcoming actors awards ceremony at the Berlinale his week.

Larry Jordan: Then we’ll wrap up with Jessica Sitomer, the President of the Greenlight Coach; who returns with advice on the value of belonging to a guild and the professional relationships that you can build there.  You Mr Mike are a guild member too are you not?

Michael Horton: I am.  I am a member of like three guilds.

Larry Jordan: Which three?

Michael Horton: Screen Actors Guild, Actors Equity and well now the AFTRA and SAG are together.

Larry Jordan: But I didn’t know you were Actors Equity; I’ll treat you with much more respect.

Michael Horton: Oh yes, absolutely.

Larry Jordan: Wow.  Just as a reminder, we are offering text transcripts for each show, courtesy of Take 1 Transcription.  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; you can learn more at Take1.tv and thanks Take 1 Transcription.  By the way, the Buzz is going to London Michael.

Michael Horton: I know; I am so jealous.

Larry Jordan: And you can carry my suitcases if you want.

Michael Horton: And you get to go to Alaska too; you’re going all over the place.

Larry Jordan: Alaska in February; I can’t think of a better place to visit.  I’ll be speaking at BVE 2014.

Michael Horton: You know it’s dark like 20 hours a day out there.

Larry Jordan: Not in February, they’ve got like two hours of daylight.  Six different sessions at BVE on three different days and all of them are free.  You can learn more at bvexpo.com.

Larry Jordan: We’ve got a great set of guests coming up tonight.  We’re going to start with Brad Malcolm and he’s going to be coming up right after this.

Larry Jordan: The Black Magic pocket cinema camera is a super 16 digital film camera that’s small enough to take anywhere.  Recording 1080p High Definition ProRes; 422 HQ files directly to fast SD cards.  This tiny camera delivers true digital film images with the feature film style 13 stops of dynamic range.  This means you get great images, even when the lighting is less than great.

Larry Jordan: Featuring an active MFT lens mount and high resolution 3.5 LCD.  You can add the lenses you need and see the results immediately on the build-in monitor.  When it comes to controlling the camera, the on-screen menu system is easy to see, easy to read and easy to adjust.

Larry Jordan: Precision engineered with state of the art technology; the Black Magic pocket cinema camera is lightweight, incredibly strong and a perfect camera for the most demanding production; best of all it’s only $995.  Learn more at blackmagicdesign.com.

Larry Jordan: Brad Malcolm is President of Authentic Imaging; which makes Perfectly Clear; this is an application which can improve the quality of your pictures.  Hello Brad.

Brad Malcolm:  Hi there.

Larry Jordan: It’s good to have you with us.  Tell us what Authentic Imaging does.

Brad Malcolm: Athentech is the name of the company but our brand is Perfectly Clear; so we can just call it Perfectly Clear and keep things simple.

Michael Horton: That’s a great name.

Larry Jordan: Yes it is a wonderful name.

Brad Malcolm: Well it does and it’s a lot more instructive as well and so, what does Perfectly Clear do?  Well we make your images perfectly clear, is one way to put it.

Larry Jordan: Well that certainly clears everything up; we can move on from here.  What do you mean makes the images perfectly clear?  Transparent?

Brad Malcolm:  Not exactly; we give our customers amazingly beautiful photos with just one click.

Michael Horton: And they do too, at least on their website.  I have to get this, this is too good to be true, it’s too magic.

Larry Jordan: But wait just a minute Brad, I think we’re being a little bit way ahead of ourselves.

Michael Horton: Way ahead of ourselves.

Larry Jordan: What made you create Perfectly Clear?  I mean Photoshop has had levels and curves in it since the beginning of time; why would we even need something like this as a plug-in?

Brad Malcolm: Well, I mean that’s a good example.  Let me give you a bit of background just to kind of fill that in.  We’re not a creative filter and we’re not an artistic effect and that’s mostly what Photoshop is designed for and lots of other stuff out there.

Brad Malcolm: Perfectly Clear is all about overcoming camera limitation and that’s what makes it unique versus anything else; because there is a lot of camera limitation.  You’ve got a single aperture; that’s why your images are dark, for example.  You’ve got lens flare, you’ve got noisy images, etc; so we overcome that automatically.  That’s an important distinction to make, because we’re not an Instagram, you know, we’re not that stuff where there’s lots of creative effects out there.

Brad Malcolm:  How it all started was when our inventor went to Europe many years ago and he photographed stained glass windows; they came back dark.  He tried to use Photoshop in there and as you said, there’s lots of tools in Photoshop, but as we all know, it’s not easy to use and it’s also very time-consuming and it will also distort your images.  Moving one slide or bar will change the colours and make shifts.

Brad Malcolm: Perfectly Clear is all about an accurate representation; so that’s why we say they’re accurately beautiful images; in fact lots of our customers say that.

Larry Jordan: But I’ve had a chance to play.  I haven’t played with Perfectly Clear, so I can’t speak to your product; but I’ve played with a lot of other plug-ins and filters and even in Photoshop where you click an automatic setting and it comes close but it, you know, doesn’t quite hit it.  It’s almost but not quite right; the black levels are crushed or the white levels are a little bit too hot.

Larry Jordan: How are you accurate as opposed to just simply getting within shouting distance?

Brad Malcolm: Well, that’s a good question and also there have been many times where we’ve used that automatic correction in Photoshop or other programs and it just damages them; it just makes it worse.

Brad Malcolm: Our background is, we’ve been licensing our technology for over ten years and it’s tested and every day over 26 million prints are automatically corrected by our licensees; so, you know, it’s proven the test of time.

Brad Malcolm: What makes it unique is, we actually have 13 years of RND behind it, we have over ten patents on the technology.  Our team consists of Physicists, Engineers and Mathematicians; so we’re very science heavy.

Brad Malcolm: What we do is, everything we do we try to mimic the human eye and we adhere to the physics principles of late; so that’s all very technical.  Kind of what does that mean?  Well, if you have a photo and, as we know, an eight megapixel image, for example, from a camera phone; when we do the correction, we analyze and correct every pixel independently; so it’s now like your eight megapixel photo was taken by eight million independent apertures.

Brad Malcolm: That’s how we’re able to get extreme accurate photos; so we don’t blow out the skies, we don’t shift the colours of your wedding dress or your bridesmaid’s dress or a purple flower, whatever it may be; so we keep it accurate but we do it all automatically.

Larry Jordan: It sounds like this was first released as something in the photo market.  When did you release Perfectly Clear as a retail product?

Brad Malcolm: We’ve been kind of B2B for a long time for over the last ten years and so, well the last two to three years is when we started to roll out our Photoshop plug-in and our Lightroom plug-in; so yes, those are about three years old, two years old; and then we also rolled out, starting with the IOS, our iPhone App and iPad App and then little over a year ago we rolled out our Android App which has been a huge success as well.

Brad Malcolm: The consumer side is fairly new, which is why a lot of people haven’t heard about us yet; but that’s why when you look at images you say, well this is great, where have you been all my life?

Michael Horton: Oh yes, boy.  I mean I have an iPhone 5S which takes absolutely lovely pictures and makes it very, very easy for you; but as most consumers we screw up and I would love to get this just for my iPhone.

Brad Malcolm: Well, that we can definitely do.

Michael Horton: I will.  No I will.

Larry Jordan: He’s struggling to find a way to say please buy it tonight.

Michael Horton: No, no; well I’m logging on right now.

Larry Jordan: Is there a difference between Perfectly Clear on the desktop and Perfectly Clear on Android and Perfectly Clear on the iPhone and Perfectly Clear as the plug-in; or do we get the same results everywhere?

Brad Malcolm: The short answer is, you get the same results everywhere.  The underlying technology is the same that we license; that’s on the mobile, that’s on our desktop Apps; that’s all the same.

Brad Malcolm: At the moment there is a few further corrections in some of the desktop apps than are in mobile; but those are more in the fine tuning, so it’s some extra stuff.  But the underlying technology is the same.

Brad Malcolm: For example, in Android, one thing that we added last year, a lot of people had requested it, was an entire capture side to the Android App.  They said, hey the technology’s great but I don’t want to go to another App to do capture; so we’ve added in basically advanced capture technology from HDR, panorama, faster burst on the market; some really clever stuff in capture, so you can capture that.

Brad Malcolm: Take an HDR, both artistic and realistic, automatically run that through Perfectly Clear, so you don’t have to manually do your stuff; and you can do everything with a device that fits in your pocket; so it’s pretty cool.

Larry Jordan: Would the average consumer notice the difference, because many digital cameras make pictures that are good enough.  Isn’t that acceptable?

Brad Malcolm: Well it’s a good question.  My favorite quote is, “good is the enemy of great”.  You say, it’s good enough hand we’ve never met anybody that’s played with it and said, well yes okay, you know, it made it worse.  We get that a lot.  Well, you know, things are good; my iPhone 5S takes a good image.  My DSLR takes a good image, but then they use Perfectly Clear and they say, wow, I was amazed, I thought it was good and now it’s great.

Larry Jordan: But why is it that these very expensive DSLRs can take a perfectly good image and your plug-in makes it a better image?  We’re spending all this money on these great lenses and these DSLRs and what is it that your product does that they don’t do?  Is it because of human error?

Brad Malcolm: No, it’s definitely not human error and of course that’s sometimes the misconception because, you say well, I got a $3,000 camera and a $2,000 lens and I’m a good photographer; so it can’t be me and it’s not you.

Brad Malcolm: But light is complicated and the way the human eye works; like the human actively is always dilating, opening and closing and so we can actively manage entire dynamic range.  But that’s the body.  When you put that in a mechanical sensor, like a camera, it’s impossible to mimic the same way that our eye sees light in nature.  You’ve got a single aperture with a wide dynamic range; so that’s not the human’s fault and although you try to create a wide sensor range in a camera, you can’t do it and that’s why I take that example of, what we’re doing is overcoming physical limitation in a camera; the single aperture and that’s why we correct each pixel as if it was taken by its own aperture.

Brad Malcolm: We all want smaller devices so they can fit in our pockets or be lighter around our shoulders.  Well, as we cram in more pixels, the surface area’s the same, so images become noisier; so you have the noise.  Like there’s physical limitations that, despite all the awesome technology in cameras, we can make it better.

Michael Horton: Well is it possible then that the next iteration of the Canon and Nikons come with the science behind Perfectly Clear?

Brad Malcolm: It’s definitely possible.

Michael Horton: I hope you patented all this stuff.

Brad Malcolm: We do; we have, as I said, over ten different patents on it, so it’s very unique. It’s also interesting, as you look at the industry as well, how it’s evolved from what we used to do with point and shoot cameras and what used to be embedded in cameras for your question were, yes now you can go and purchase an App and use that on your mobile device to get amazing images all running in software; ie. you can do that without the required authorization by companies around the world.

Larry Jordan: We’ve got a live chat that goes on at the same time as this show and Eric is asking, you’ve got stuff for Photoshop and for Lightroom; do you have anything for Aperture?

Brad Malcolm: We don’t have anything for Aperture at the moment.  It’s one of those things we’re debating.  We don’t have a ton of users on Aperture; but if he’s interested, it’s something we’re monitoring, so send us a request at help@athentech.com and we’re definitely monitoring the situation.

Larry Jordan: Don is asking, you’ve got a lot of stuff for still images, do you have a version for video?

Brad Malcolm: We don’t at the moment, but we will at some point because that’s just a logical progression.

Michael Horton: Can the science that you apply to Perfectly Clear be applied to video?

Brad Malcolm: Absolutely.

Michael Horton: Oh god, that would be awesome.  But then we have color correctors; you know, put them out of work.

Larry Jordan: Well yes, but I have to believe that the best automatic feature does not beat the best skilled colorist.

Michael Horton: Good question Larry.

Larry Jordan: I mean, does this put the color grading and color correction of people that know how to use Photoshop out of business.

Brad Malcolm: Well if you think about the market for Photoshop, like in people that are going to use it, no it doesn’t put them out of business because, as working photographers, whether you shoot a wedding and you come back with 2,000 images; you don’t want to spent hours behind the computer editing, that’s not where you’re getting paid, you’re getting paid for being creative, for landing clients, for doing stuff that you do best.  We’re a timesaver, so we’re not putting people out of business, we’re saving you time, so that you can focus in on your business and do what you do best; not sit behind a computer, not be shackled to your desk editing.

Brad Malcolm: Even if you’re not a working pro, like, if you come back from a vacation, you want to be planning your next vacation or sipping wine or having a birthday party with your daughter; you don’t want to be spending all your time behind the desk editing.

Michael Horton: Yes, besides, I mean, a great color corrector is grading the color, not just making accurate colours.  Going for that artistic expression of mood and the emotion and everything else behind it.

Brad Malcolm: Yes, there’s always the personal interpretation out there and that’s why we say, there’s always going to be artistic effects on stuff like that and there’s nothing wrong with that.  But that’s not what we’re about, we’re here to save you time and you can always have an image in your pocket all the time.

Larry Jordan: Brad, you said something that I want to make sure I understand.  It sounds like I can do more than one picture at once.  Do you allow batch processing?

Brad Malcolm: Absolutely.

Michael Horton: Oh my gosh.

Larry Jordan: Ah.

Brad Malcolm: That’s where the real value comes in; so you can come back from a wedding, batch all of your, say 1,000 images automatically, come back and they’re done; and that’s why when we license our technology, they said every day our licensees are correcting over 26 million prints a day automatically.

Michael Horton: Do different human beings see the images differently?  If Larry and I were out shooting the same event with the same exposures, the same aperture, the same thing and we came back and batched processed all this, would we see the accuracy differently or would we be satisfied?

Brad Malcolm: Oh you’d be satisfied; it’s a good question.  You come down to where your monitor is calibrated, that can give differences; but that gets pretty technology.  But because we’re processing every image, the key is, we’re not going to wash out a sky, we’re not going to do a color shift, we’re not going to create artifacts, we’re not going to damage all that. And that’s really where the tweaking comes down to.  You could say, well that’s all good but I just want it a little bit brighter and we make it easy to tweak that as well.

Larry Jordan: Can you remove video noise from an image?

Brad Malcolm: We can remove all types of noise from an image; and that’s all automatic.  In fact some of the editors that review us say, yes, well your noise removal is awesome, better than anything else out there on the market.

Larry Jordan: And how about languages, what language do you support?

Brad Malcolm: Well right now in our plug-ins we’re in Portuguese, we’re in English, French and German and in our Android App we’re in nine different languages; from Japanese, Korean, English, all the European ones; and that will be followed out shortly in IOS.

Michael Horton: Just quickly; our Engineer Adrian just took a picture of Larry and me with his Android phone.  It works!

Brad Malcolm: Well and one other thing to point out, we haven’t talked about is, we do have our beautify functionality.

Michael Horton: Yes, I need that big time.

Brad Malcolm: It makes it easy to look your best; we automatically smooth your skin, we lighten your teeth.

Michael Horton: Oh my goodness.  Oh that’s awesome.

Brad Malcolm: And with selfies being as popular as they are, it’s a perfect App for that.

Larry Jordan: And Brad, really quickly, how much is it?

Brad Malcolm: The App is $2.99 on Google Play and IOS and then the Photoshop plug-in is $189.

Larry Jordan: And Brad Malcolm is the President of Perfectly Clear.  Brad, thanks for joining us today.

Brad Malcolm: Thanks so much, I really appreciate you guys’ time.

Michael Horton: Thanks so much; awesome job.

Larry Jordan: Take care, bye, bye.

Brad Malcolm: Thanks guys.

Larry Jordan: Jonathan Handel is an Entertainment and Technology Attorney of Counsel at Troy Gould in Los Angeles.  He’s also the Contributing Editor on entertainment labor issues for the Hollywood Reporter and has a blog at jhandel.com.  Hey Jonathan, welcome back.

Jonathan Handel: Well thanks, it’s great to be back.

Larry Jordan: We are fully into contract negotiations this month; so what’s going on?

Jonathan Handel: Well we are indeed; in fact we’re in the middle third of the cycle, I suppose you could say.  The Directors Guild negotiated their deal and ratified it last month.  They negotiated, I guess in December if memory serves; or perhaps it was November.  But in any case, in January they full ratified their deal and now the Writers Guild is in negotiation.

Jonathan Handel: That began with a bit of a bumpy start and that’s because the Writers Guild sent out a letter to members saying that they had received an opening proposal last week, before negotiations, from the studios, that they said contained $60 million in rollbacks; and that’s something of a surprise for a couple of reasons.  One is that Hollywood negotiations, unlike negotiations in the rest of the country, almost never feature rollbacks; certainly never end up that way.

Jonathan Handel: Last time around, for example, three years ago, the only rollback was that, first class air travel was eliminated from the contracts.

Larry Jordan: Just stop for a second.  Define what the word rollback means.

Jonathan Handel: In general, the intention of the word seems to be that, something that you have in the contract now is being taken away.

Larry Jordan: Okay, so theoretically, looking at it purely at face value, if the Writers Guild letter is true, they’re saying that the producers want the writers to give up $60 million in revenue.

Jonathan Handel: That’s right.

Larry Jordan: Well I can imagine this has caused some level of controversy?

Jonathan Handel: Yes, apparently so.  I mean, particularly since the DGA deal; not only did not feature rollbacks, it featured some significant gains compared to where the contract currently is.  The DGA deal featured improvements in various aspects of new media and in subscription video on demand; things like shows for Netflix and a variety of other areas.

Jonathan Handel: So the Writers Guild really was implicitly drawing a contrast between where the DGA deal ended up, on the one hand, versus what the opening proposal of the studios was to the writers on the other.

Jonathan Handel: Now, there’s always an aspect of kabuki theatre to these negotiations.  I mean, basically everyone involved in them knows that, what’s almost certainly going to happen is that the Writers Guild wind up with a deal that very much follows the template that was set by the DGA.  That’s how it’s gone for basically the last 50 years.  Whoever negotiates first, which is frequently in recent years the DGA, although not always, ends up setting a template and on things like wage increases, pension and health and most areas of residuals.  The same formulas and the same percentages end up getting applied to the way of the unions.

Larry Jordan: Well this implies that the Writers Guild really isn’t a Bellwether this year, it’s just another union at the table following the template the Directors have set; so why should they even care about this initial proposal?

Jonathan Handel: Well, in fact they have never, or certainly not recently, been the Bellwether Union.  Even when they went on strike would ultimately happen, which was 07/08.  What ultimately happened was that, while they were still on strike, the DGA negotiated and did a deal that set the template; and then the writers strike ended up with the writers doing essentially the same deal.

Jonathan Handel: That does raise the question of, why did they react so strongly and strongly enough to decide that they were going to send out a public letter?  They must have felt that the opening proposal from the studios was so far from where things would end up, was such an extreme move, that they had to counter with a strong move of their own.  But at least according to some reports in the press, the mood in the negotiating room right now is kind of tense and the negotiations have just started this week.  The opening days, apparently, are kind of tense because of this.

Jonathan Handel: At the end of the day they’re going to settle down into a rhythm where the likely result is a deal that’s very similar to the DGA deal.

Larry Jordan: What seemed to be the hot buttons for the unions this year?

Jonathan Handel: Definitely, the issues in new media.  The Netflix issue, as I said, what you had in the last couple of years, really just last year I guess was, Netflix spending $4 million an episode; a large amount on the House of Cards series, two seasons of that series.  The second season is going to be released actually in the next couple of weeks I guess.  That was a level of funding for a new media type series that really wasn’t anticipated in the original new media deals that were done in 07/08 and required, ultimately some alteration to the contract to reflect those.

Jonathan Handel: So that’s one area of ad supported new media, like Hulu that wanted some improvements; the formula is particularly low there.  It’s sort of a grab bag.  I mean, I could go down the checklist but I’m not sure that what it is, is not an overarching principle so much as it is, you know, a set of areas that they want an improvement in.

Jonathan Handel: I should say, they wanted stronger wage increases.  What the DGA got was three percent annual wage increases; the previous round of contract, the one that’s expiring in a couple of months, only featured two percent annual increases and that was a result of the economy.

Larry Jordan: I can identify with who the members of the union are, but who negotiates for the producers and who do they actually represent?

Jonathan Handel: Well the producers’ organization is called the AMPTP, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.  It’s a group that sounds like it’s made up of producers but it’s actually made up of the major studios.  The six major studios, plus CBS and MGM; they are the ones who are actually at the table.

Jonathan Handel: Now they in effect represent, as you said, all the producers of television and motion picture work; but an independent producer who comes along, you know, a year from now, will not have been at the table and they find the contract is essentially on a take it or leave it basis.  The contract’s been negotiated by the AMPTP and the union and, you know, there it is; you either sign that contract and use union talent or you don’t.

Larry Jordan: Do these negotiations have any impact outside the Hollywood community?  Does anybody pay attention to what’s going on outside of the LA guilds and AMPTP?

Jonathan Handel: Not really, no.  On a regular basis, no, it really doesn’t.

Larry Jordan: Jonathan, it continues to be fascinating watching the dance of the contracts.  Where can we go on the web to keep track of what’s going on?

Jonathan Handel: The best place to go would be THR Labor, the Hollywood Reporter Labor; thrlabour.com.

Larry Jordan: And how about your blog?

Jonathan Handel: My blog continues to be maintained from time to time and it’s jhandel.com.

Larry Jordan: That’s jhandel.com and Jonathan Handel himself is the voice you’ve been listening to; the Entertainment Labor Reporter for the Hollywood Reporter.  Jonathan, thanks for joining us today.

Jonathan Handel: Thanks very much.

Larry Jordan: Hans Werner Meyer is one of the most visible working actors in Germany.  He has starred in or performed in more than 120 films and television producers; he’s also a singer in his acapela group and my German is so bad, I won’t even begin to pronounce the name.  He’s on the board and he’s the spokesperson for the German Actors Guild; it’s a delight, Hans, to welcome you to the show.

Hans Werner Meyer: Well nice to talk to you Larry.

Larry Jordan: 120 films and television productions is a ton of work.  What got you started in acting?

Hans Werner Meyer: What got me started?  Well I have felt like it; I have felt like being an actor.  I remember when I acted in school, I was doing a school production in Germany and in the United States as well, by the way; because I spent one year in New Jersey as an exchange student.  We had a theatre production there as well.

Hans Werner Meyer: When I went on stage and I felt the limelight, I felt free, I felt, this is where I’m supposed to be; so it was just a feeling.

Larry Jordan: Being in one film or being in one television production is hard work enough in itself; but being in that many requires a real dedication to your career.  What contributes to your success?

Hans Werner Meyer: That’s a question I can hardly answer.  When I count all these productions, there are two series with it; one with 48 episodes and one with so far 30 episodes; so it is a lot but it’s two series you can also count as just one production.

Hans Werner Meyer: I was lucky I guess, I had a lot of luck in my life.  I started off as a theatre actor, I didn’t want to perform in films or TV films, that didn’t interest me at all; I only wanted to act in theatre.  But then for some reason, I was quite successful on the screen and in TV, so that’s where my path led me and that’s where I went.

Larry Jordan: In the States and you mentioned this yourself, actors speak of getting a lucky break to get started.  Is acting success principally due to chance?

Hans Werner Meyer: Well yes, chance has a lot to do with it.  You have to be at the right place at the right time.  But then of course you have to make the most of it; so you have to be completely dedicated and then pray to God that you are successful.

Larry Jordan: Actors around the world, just using the phrase working actor, is a special treat; because so many actors are not working.

Hans Werner Meyer: Yes.

Larry Jordan: What makes for a successful career?  If you were to give advice to someone starting out, who wants to make a career as an actor, what advice would you give them?

Hans Werner Meyer: Well, what advice?  First of all you have to want it more than anything else; you have to be ready to make all kinds of sacrifices to live your dream.  You have to be able to get up once you have been punched down, because that happens a lot; especially in Germany.  When you read the reviews, which you shouldn’t do, but if you do, you have to be able to get up again once you have been insulted or people don’t like you.

Hans Werner Meyer: My Father said, when he learnt that I wanted to be an actor, he said, well you can do that of course but you have to remember, if people criticize your work, they also criticize you as a person and you have to be able to endure that.

Larry Jordan: I think that’s especially true, because actors live so much of their life on the outside; they’re such an emotional person that, to be able to deal with that criticism must be especially difficult?

Hans Werner Meyer: It is; actually it is.  But it’s like, if you want to box, you have to be able to take a hit.  Being an actor is compared to being a boxer, I would say.  You have to be able to punch and you have to be able to take it in.

Larry Jordan: And have to get up after being knocked out; but there’s fewer bruises I think.

Hans Werner Meyer: Yes, but you have to smile having the bruises too.  But as an actor, you can use the bruises as well, you can use the pain that you have endured and make something out of it; something that brings you out of it again.

Hans Werner Meyer: I mean, I’m not talking about therapy but it’s quite valuable.  Pain is a valuable issue when you’re acting.

Larry Jordan: Sounds like you can learn lessons about life from being an actor.

Hans Werner Meyer: Yes, that’s why actors are so much fun to be with, because they learn from life and they try to take it from the bright side.

Larry Jordan: You wear two hats, well multiple hats; I’m already envious of your singing, but we’re going to ignore that for a minute.  You’re also on the board of the German Actors Guild; what’s that?

Hans Werner Meyer: In Germany we didn’t have an Actors Guild until seven years ago.  Now really consider that.  It’s one of the biggest cinema markets in the world, I think the second biggest after the United States and we didn’t have an Actors Guild.  That has to do with the history of course, with the war I guess; because after that, people didn’t want to have to do too much with organizations.

Hans Werner Meyer: In all the other countries with a functioning film industry, like the United States, Great Britain, Denmark, a small country with a very good functioning film industry; they have been having Actors Guilds since more than 80 years.

Hans Werner Meyer: We realized, we have to just take it in our own hands, because actors tend to not like organizations and organizing things and I’m like that as well.  But we just realized, it couldn’t go on anymore, it couldn’t go on like that; because in Germany like in many countries, it’s getting more and more difficult to make films.  There is less and less money, less budgets.  Budgets are smaller and it’s getting tougher and tougher to shoot films; so we had to organize ourselves to stand up for our own interests.

Hans Werner Meyer: I was just there, I have to say, at the wrong place at the wrong time because we were seven people founding this guild seven years ago; nice number I realize; and now we’re more than 2,500, which is basically half of the working actors in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Larry Jordan: What does the association do for its members?  What do you get for joining?

Hans Werner Meyer: For the first time in the history of German cinema and TV, we are negotiating with the producers; we’re actually negotiating contracts.  That’s one thing you get; security in your working conditions.  Then we are trying to stabilize the social network; because for actors in Germany, it’s very difficult.  We have quite a good social network in Germany, but for actors it’s very difficult because we have varying employers.  We’re not employed with one company for a long time, but we’re employed with many companies for a small amount of time.

Hans Werner Meyer: We hardly ever get to get the benefits there that we have to pay in the unemployment security system; so we’re working on that as well to get the actors have the benefits they’re paying for.

Hans Werner Meyer: Third I would say, being a member of the guild gives you a certain amount of pride in your own profession.  For the third time we’re doing the German Actors Award, which is comparable to the SAG Award, the Screen Actors Guild Award in America.  We’re giving it out on the Berlinale and that’s just a great party and people enjoy it very much and the whole industry is there.  It gives us this sense of pride.

Larry Jordan: I want to come back to your awards ceremony in just a second; but who can become a member of the guild?  What do you have to do to qualify?

Hans Werner Meyer: Well you have to work as an actor.  You don’t have to necessarily have a training as an actor, because you can become an actor without training of course.  You should do your training and we’re telling everybody that they should.  But if you’re working as an actor, because many people have been working since they were kids on films and TV shows.  So if you’re regularly working as an actor, you can become a member.

Larry Jordan: You’ve already mentioned the fact that one of the things the guild is doing is negotiating benefits such as health insurance and retirement and that for actors.  What are the key challenges facing actors in Germany today, aside from the social network?

Hans Werner Meyer: I mentioned it before.  There are less productions now than have been a couple of years ago.  There is less money for each production; so one of the challenges certainly is surviving.  But aside from that, you have the normal challenges as an actor; I mean, depending on your role.  But you’re also facing smaller amounts of time to prepare.  The work of an actor is under a lot of pressure because of the cut of budgets and productions.

Larry Jordan: One of the pressures budgets are under has been the economic downturn across the world, over the last four or five years.  Are you seeing with the slow economic recovery, that that is releasing more budgets or are budgets still being very constrained?

Hans Werner Meyer: They’re still being very constrained in Germany.  There is no direct connection between the economy and the budgets in Germany, because we have two big TV broadcasting companies comparable to the BBC in the United Kingdom; and actually they have a lot of money.  But they’re so big and they have so many costs that, they’re spending less and less money on production; not only fictional production but also all the other productions that you need on TV.

Hans Werner Meyer: We have a structural problem here.  The money is there, it’s just not being spent in the right way.

Larry Jordan: Well let’s talk about something more cheerful before we both become depressed.

Hans Werner Meyer: Sorry, I’m really sorry.  I like to be more cheerful, but when you ask me those questions, you know, those topics just are not so much fun.

Larry Jordan: Well something that is fun is your upcoming awards ceremony.  Tell me about, one, why are you doing at the Berlinale and what is the ceremony celebrating?

Hans Werner Meyer: The ceremony is celebrating the work of the actor.  Because normally, if you have a ceremony and you have awards for actors, you have the foreign look on the acting; you have people judging actors from the outside and here it’s actors celebrating other actors.  I wouldn’t’ use the term judging but we celebrate the best performances, the most inspiring performance.  We prefer the term ‘inspiring to’ best.  It’s not about who is the best but it is about, who inspires us the most.

Hans Werner Meyer: That’s why it’s so much fun, because people go there and no-one’s envious; everybody loves us being there and celebrating each other.

Larry Jordan:  Did I hear correctly, this is the third year you’ve done the awards or is this the first?

Hans Werner Meyer: No it’s the third.

Larry Jordan: Do you see any significance difference in the craft of acting as it’s practiced in Europe, as opposed to the States?

Hans Werner Meyer: There is a difference in the craft of acting from one country to the other in Europe and the United States as well.  I think the craft of acting represents pretty much a lot of the national mentality, I would say.  In America I see, people like to cry, they like to make people cry because that’s an expression of emotion that is accepted well; it’s truthful to be able to cry.

Hans Werner Meyer: In Great Britain, people like to make each other laugh a lot.  And in Germany, I guess it’s about, people like to make each other think.

Larry Jordan: So it’s almost reflecting the culture of the country is what the actors are doing?

Hans Werner Meyer:  I think so, yes.  That’s why acting is so valuable to the society and that’s why what we’re trying to get into people’s heads as well, that acting is a craft that is invisible; you don’t see what the actor is doing, you only see the outcome, you don’t see the work.  That’s why people have strange ideas about what acting really is.  That’s why it’s easy to forget why it’s valuable.

Hans Werner Meyer: That’s actually the point.  It represents the culture of the people, the identity of the people.

Larry Jordan: You’ve been acting all of your life and what is it that makes acting still fun for you today?

Hans Werner Meyer: Oh, well I wouldn’t want to live without it actually.  I get bored easily.  Doing a series, even though it’s a successful series I’m doing right now, bears the danger of being bored, because you’re always playing the same character.  However you can go into other depths with it, if you play one character in different stories; so that’s the advantage.

Hans Werner Meyer: But what keeps me going on is, well, it’s just about passion and I’m a passionate person and I need passion in my life.  If I don’t perform on the stage for too long of time, I keep the aggressions in my life and, you know, people around me don’t like that.

Larry Jordan: Hans, where can people go on the web to learn more about you and your work?

Hans Werner Meyer: Me personally, I have a website which I’m afraid I don’t keep too well.  But it’s called hans-werner-meyer.de.

Larry Jordan: And for people that want to learn more about the awards ceremony coming up and the German Actors Guild; do they have a website people can visit?

Hans Werner Meyer: bffs.de

Larry Jordan: Those two websites are bffs.de and Hans Werner Meyer’s site is hans-werner-meyer.de.  Hans, I could talk with you all day; this has been a wonderful conversation.  Thank you so much for your time.

Hans Werner Meyer: Well thank you for the opportunity.

Larry Jordan: Jessica Sitomer is a Job Coach and helps people find work; she’s also a regular on the Buzz, which actually cheers up both Mike and I because it’s a great way to end the show; and she is the President of the Greenlight Coach.  But what we like best about Jessica is that she’s really good at providing really helpful job-hunting advice.  Hello Jessica.

Jessica Sitomer: Hello guys.

Michael Horton: Hi Jessica.

Larry Jordan: Man, are you in a well somewhere?  Where are you?

Jessica Sitomer: I’m in Los Angeles but I’m actually at a Speakers Conference.

Larry Jordan: Of course you are.

Michael Horton: Oh you’re in Los Angeles, really?

Jessica Sitomer: I’m in Los Angeles, yes.

Michael Horton: Well darn it, I could have had you do another webinar hour for me.

Larry Jordan: We could have had you live on the show.

Jessica Sitomer: I’m here till the 18th.

Larry Jordan: Next time we’ll bring you out to the studio and treat you to one of our studio catered dinners.

Jessica Sitomer: Okay.

Michael Horton: By the way, did you just listen to the interview that Larry did with the actor in Germany?

Jessica Sitomer: I’m actually in a conference right now.

Michael Horton: Oh boy.

Jessica Sitomer: I’ve snuck out to talk to you guys.  I’ll have to listen to the replay.

Michael Horton: I would have loved to have heard your impressions, because it was an excellent interview; this actor in Germany whose starting the German Actors Guild.  Larry did a wonderful job.

Larry Jordan: Thank you.  You know, Hans Meyer talked about why Germany didn’t even have an Actors Guild until seven years ago and earlier in the show we heard Jonathan talking about the Writers Guild negotiations; so the thought occurred to me, do we really need to belong to a guild?

Jessica Sitomer: Well, as an active and working member of SAG and AFTRA and as somebody who worked as the in-house career coach for the local 600 Cinematographer Guild for 11 years; I would say yes or no, depending on people’s situation.

Larry Jordan: Why is that?

Jessica Sitomer: Yes, when you have the contacts and you are ready to work union jobs.  Well it also depends on the union rules. Some unions are very expensive to get into and they don’t help you get work at all; so if you don’t have contacts you pay a lot in dues and unless you know what to do as far as, let’s say the Camera Guild, they had me as their Career Coach, because that, people felt was worth their dues.

Jessica Sitomer: There’s also a lot of networking opportunities.  They protect you in certain instances.  Like I mean, if you are working a union job, they’re there to protect your rights, make sure that you get paid, make sure you are safe.  I mean, unions are very, very important.

Jessica Sitomer: However, if you are not established, some unions prevent you from working; you have to know the rules of the unions you’re joining before you work in them, as in SAG, you can’t work non-union; so therefore, if you are an actor and you don’t have credits, you need to keep building credits on that union world; it may not be in your best interest to join SAG yet.  So it really depends on a person’s situation.  Unions are a great thing, just are you ready to be in one?

Larry Jordan: Well what can we do to make our guild membership help our career?

Jessica Sitomer: Okay, well first of all your brothers and sisters are your contacts; they are the people you want to be reaching out to; people whose careers you want to emulate.  I know that at the Cinematographers Guild, we’re basically historical as behind the music… and you can watch the videos and learn about their members.  Most guilds have a magazine; you can read articles about the members and you want to reach out to the people, because you have contact information and you have a way to reach them.

Jessica Sitomer: These are the people who could potentially hire you; you want to create target lists within your own unions, to find the people who you want to reach out to.  Unions also have events; so there are tons of opportunities for networking, not only with your fellow members but with the members who are there, who are speaking and giving back.  They have holiday parties where you get to see them with their families.  I mean there’s a lot of opportunity for networking and meeting the people who hire you when you are in the union; unless of course you’re the head of this department in which case you need to meet producers and directors; in which case you meet people with that union and then you take each other to each other’s union events.

Michael Horton: There’s a Screen Actors Guild Foundation which have free webinars hours almost every other day.  They have free events that you can go to.  That’s assuming you live in Los Angles; where Casting Directors show up, they have everything about finances, living and everything that you can possibly think of; and it’s all free.

Jessica Sitomer: And you know what? If you’re in a union, get to know the people who work in the office.  It is so important because, if you are closer to the office that you can get to know the employees, they’ll remember you when things come up.  They will introduce you to people when they think you need to know them.

Jessica Sitomer: It’s just like getting to know an assistant in an agent’s office or in a big executive’s office; get to know the people, get to know your business reps.  I mean these people are all there to help you and if you’re just going to sit back and wait around for things to happen, it’s not.  Like you should get involved with your union; you should know what they’re doing, especially if you’re complaining about your union, it probably means you’ve never been to union meetings and don’t know what it is that’s going on.  You’ve got to have a voice; get to know who you’re voting for, why you’re voting for them and get involved with the issues.

Larry Jordan: Jessica, Jessica, Jessica.

Jessica Sitomer: Yes.

Michael Horton: She’s passionate, she’s passionate Larry.

Jessica Sitomer: Yes.

Larry Jordan: Well I’ve never doubted that, but the question is, you’re in a union where everybody is doing the same thing; it’s a Camera Operators Union or it’s a Cinematographers Union or it’s a Directors Union and a Director’s not going to hire another Director.  I mean, you’re talking to people that are competing with you for work; why should you pay attention?

Jessica Sitomer: Well because, either way you’re competing with people for the jobs; so wouldn’t you rather be competing with your friend?  Because this way, if he doesn’t get the job and you do, maybe on the next job he’ll get it; so you want to create groups of people who you think are equally passionate about you and keep it within the circle of families.

Jessica Sitomer: Also, only the head of department at the union is the one that doesn’t get hired by people from the union.  Camera Operators are hired by other Camera Operators and ACs and DPs; so they do need to know each other; and the bottom line is, the cream is always going to rise to the top.

Jessica Sitomer: Just because there are 1,000 members of a union, doesn’t mean that there are 1,000 people who are going to make it; the best make it and you’ve got to go above and beyond to be the best.

Larry Jordan: Well does mean that you spend more time making friends with others or more time being good at what you do?  How do you balance?

Jessica Sitomer: Well you’ve got to be good at what you do because it’s important that when you do get the opportunity, that you can make the most of it.  However, that’s only part of it.  You see how many people succeed in Hollywood who are not the best at what they do; so relationships really are, I would say, 60% of it and then 40% is having the talent to back it up.

Michael Horton: Oh sure and it’s probably even more than 60%.  That applies to anything that you want to do.

Jessica Sitomer: Yes.  Yes, it’s about relationships, it’s about who you know.  But make sure that you’ve got the goods, because you don’t want to make them look bad, so don’t say you can do something that you can’t do.  Like learn at schools, stay up-to-date, watch all of Larry’s stuff; that’s what I do, I Google it, he always comes up number one when I search Final Cut.

Michael Horton: I know, that drives me nuts.

Jessica Sitomer: It makes me so happy, I’m like oh good.

Michael Horton: I know Larry Jordan.

Jessica Sitomer: He’s going to solve my problem now.

Michael Horton: Well Larry’s available for autographs after the show.

Larry Jordan: Jessica, what happens if there isn’t a guild or a union in your town?  Should you just give up the hope of being a member?

Jessica Sitomer: No because there are satellite offices and you can find out what’s closest to you.  You don’t necessarily need to be in a union if there isn’t one nearby, you  need to be in an entertainment community.  If you’re the only one in your community then you’re not living in the right place.  I mean, it’s like, if you’re a duck in a pond and your food runs out, you don’t stay in that pond, you go find a new pond.  You have to go where the work is, where the people are, where your tribe is.

Jessica Sitomer: You don’t have to be necessarily where a union is, because there is plenty of right to work space in this country or throughout the world, where you can work without being in a union; however, you do have to find the entertainment community and be a part of that.

Michael Horton: Absolutely and SAG, unfortunately closed down a lot of satellite offices throughout the United States, but there’s still a number that exist.

Jessica Sitomer: Yes.

Larry Jordan: Jess, where can people go on the web to keep track of what you’re up to when you’re not attending Speakers Conferences in Los Angeles?

Jessica Sitomer: Well right now I’d like them to go to joingreenlightu.com.

Michael Horton: Oh and she’s got a bunch of really cool free webinars up there right now; like a four part series.

Jessica Sitomer: That’s right.

Michael Horton: It’s really excellent.

Jessica Sitomer: Yes, thank you.  Otherwise find me at thegreenlightcoach.com.

Larry Jordan: Thegreenlightcoach.com and the other web address again, one more time.

Jessica Sitomer: joingreenlightu.com.

Larry Jordan: joingreenlightu.com.  Jessica Sitomer, the President of the Greenlight Coach; go back take notes and mail them to me and to Mike so we can learn what you’re learning.  You take care of yourself.

Jessica Sitomer: Bye buddies.

Michael Horton: Thanks Jessica.

Larry Jordan: Bye, bye.

Larry Jordan: She is so much fun to chat with.

Michael Horton: No she’s great, I just love her.  I learn so much from her. I’ve had her do a couple of webinars for me at Moviola and we get such good feedback from her; because she’s so committed and passionate.

Larry Jordan: And enthusiastic.  You can’t help but feel good about your job prospects.

Michael Horton: Did I tell you, that interview with the German was just great?

Larry Jordan: Well thank you.

Michael Horton: You know, you ought to make a living doing this.

Larry Jordan: We are trying.  It’s number three on my to do list.

Michael Horton: And forget those webinars and stuff, you know, stop talking about codecs and stuff, you know.

Larry Jordan: I will talk about codecs and I will talk about actors and I will even talk to you.

Michael Horton: No, you want to talk about actors.

Larry Jordan: Speaking of actors, my favorite actor is drawing up to a microphone.

Michael Horton: Your favorite voicer?

Larry Jordan: He’s about ready to do my favorite voiceover when Michael himself says it’s time for…

Michael Horton: Pick our brains.

Larry Jordan: You know, that was probably the best one you’ve done this entire calendar year.

Michael Horton: You know, sometimes you just feel it in your intuit and you’re just there, you’re focused.  I’ve been focused this entire podcast.

Larry Jordan: You’ve been doing a great job, it’s been great.

Michael Horton: It’s been very focused.  Normally I’m not, I mean sipping coffee.  You know, I am, I’m doing coffee and wine.  Just a really stupid thing.

Larry Jordan: I’m watching you drink this.

Michael Horton: That red vine.

Larry Jordan: My stomach is hurting just watching.  Have we got a question?

Michael Horton: Yes we do and this is kind of a tough question and I think the answer is you’re hosed.  We have two minutes to fill here.  Alright, so this is a Final Cut Pro X 10.0.9 question.  My updated Final Cut Pro X 10.1 event library got corrupted for whatever reason and I would like to go back to the project from an earlier version of Final Cut Pro 10.0.9.  Now I have a computer with the older version installed but I have not been able to open the event from the old Final Cut Projects and Events.  Do you have an idea how I can do this or is it even possible?

Larry Jordan: I just had one great idea that’s an unpublished work around and that is, go into the corrupted library folder and delete the library database.

Michael Horton: Delete the database?

Larry Jordan: Delete the library database, so when you open that library back up in Final Cut, it will rebuild the database based upon the events and the projects that are there.

Michael Horton: Oh, well hold on here; that’s actually kind of interesting.

Larry Jordan: The second thing you can do.

Michael Horton: It won’t work though.

Larry Jordan: Well it worked for me.

Michael Horton: Did it?  Where you had a corrupted file?

Larry Jordan: I had a corrupted library that had been converted from Final Cut 10.09.  Another thing is that you cannot open an Event folder after it’s been run through 10.1, unless you put it back in the Final Cut Events folder; because in Final Cut 10.09, the earlier version, all events are stored inside a folder inside Final Cut Events and all projects are stored inside a project called Final Cut Projects.

Larry Jordan: The problem is, the process of upgrading moves the media out of the Events folder and moves the media out of the Projects folder and moves it into the library; which means that you’ve got the database from 10.09 but you don’t have the media from 10.09.  So if trashing the library does not fix the problem, then what you’re going to need to do; the only way to get it to work in 10.09 is to have had a copy of the Final Cut Events and the Final Cut Projects that got corrupted.  You have to go back to the original copy that you made before you did the update; and most of us don’t make copies of projects before we update them.

Michael Horton: My gosh Larry, I think that might work.

Larry Jordan: So just something to think about.

Michael Horton: I’m not going to think about it.

Larry Jordan: Well you could if you wanted to.

Michael Horton:  I don’t want to; I don’t want to think about it.

Larry Jordan: Anyway, people that we do want to think about are our guests for this evening.  Brian Malcolm, the President of Authentic Imaging, Perfectly Clear; Jonathan Handel, the Entertainment Labor Reporter for the Hollywood Reporter; Hans Werner Meyer, a German Actor and Jessica Sitomer, the President of the Greenlight Coach.

Larry Jordan: There is a lot happening at the Buzz. Between shows, visit digitalproductionbuzz.com to learn more.  Click on the latest news, because we update this several times a year with all the latest news from our industry.

Larry Jordan: You can visit with us on Twitter, @dpbuzz and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com.  Music on the Buzz is provided by SmartSound; the Buzz is streamed by wehostmacs.com and text transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription.

Jessica Sitomer: Our producer is Cirina Catania.

Michael Horton: Who’s in Berlin.

Larry Jordan: Covering the Berlinale.  That voice is Mike Horton and my name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to the Digital Production Buzz.

Michael Horton: Goodbye.

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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