Digital Production Buzz
March 27, 2014
[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]
Andrew Kowalchuk, Technical Supervisor, Banger Films, Inc.
Julie Janata, Producer, Director, Editor
Devan Cress, Director of Sales, Marshall Electronics
Brandon Reza Parvini, Founder/Creative Director, Ghost Town Media
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 and Podcast Studio in beautiful downtown Burbank, it’s the Digital Production Buzz.
Voiceover: Production, post production, distribution.
Voiceover: 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 is our co-host, the ever affable, handsome Mr. Mike Horton.
Mike Horton: Hello, Larry
Larry Jordan: Michael, you are looking rested today.
Mike Horton: I’m looking wiped today.
Larry Jordan: Well, rested, exhausted, it’s hard to tell the difference.
Mike Horton: I am not rested. I’m just looking rested.
Larry Jordan: Supermeet coming along ok?
Mike Horton: Yes, and we have a big announcement. Do I have time to do that real quick?
Larry Jordan: Real fast.
Mike Horton: Big announcement. HP and NVIDIA will have a bonus raffle at the Supermeet…
Larry Jordan: A what?
Mike Horton: A free bonus raffle.
Larry Jordan: Ok.
Mike Horton: First 500 people through the doors before 6pm at the Supermeet get a chance to win an HP fully loaded workstation and 27 inch dream color monitor and an NVIDIA K6000 graphics card…
Larry Jordan: What is that thing worth?
Mike Horton: …all in one. It’s a $14,000 package and the first 500 people get a ticket, a free raffle ticket, and we’ll raffle it off in the first half of the show.
Larry Jordan: Wow.
Mike Horton: Huge.
Larry Jordan: And you have it here. I see it sitting on the studio table. It looks beautiful.
Mike Horton: It’s big.
Larry Jordan: Gleaming beauty. $14,000!
Mike Horton: Yes. I mean, it’s…
Larry Jordan: For the first 500 people?
Mike Horton: First 500 people get a chance to win.
Larry Jordan: Ah. Well, thinking of…
Mike Horton: Which means get there early.
Larry Jordan: That’s Supermeet. What day?
Mike Horton: April 8th, Tuesday.
Larry Jordan: Which is Tuesday night. Thinking of other winners, we’re going to start our show with Andrew Kowalchuk. He’s the in-house tech guy for Banger Films. That’s a Toronto, Canada based post house that recently finished work on ‘Super Duper Alice Cooper’. Andrew did all the digitizing of legacy footage from film and videotape, and that’s what we want to talk with him about tonight.
Larry Jordan: Julie Janata is an Emmy award winning producer, director and editor. She just got two of her films into two major film festivals and we want to learn tonight how she did it.
Larry Jordan: Devan Cress is the Director of Sales for Marshall Electronics. Marshall is a leading manufacturer of LCD monitors for cameras or rack mounts. They’ve been involved in broadcast television for a long time, but tonight we want to talk with Devan about what to expect from Marshall that fits in more with the independent producer. They’ve got some cool announcements coming up with NAB and we’re going to get a sneak peek tonight.
Larry Jordan: Brandon Parvini is the Founder and Lead Creative Director at Ghost Town Media, based in Los Angeles. Founded in 2006, Ghost Town specializes in music videos with a high level of visual effects, especially 3D effects, which is what we want to talk with Brandon about tonight.
Larry Jordan: Just 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. Learn more at take1.tv and thanks, Take 1, for making this possible.
Larry Jordan: The Buzz is going to the 2014 show. We’re going to be carrying Michael’s suitcases.
Mike Horton: Please.
Larry Jordan: Bringing a team of 29 reporters, editors and technicians and broadcasting seven live shows starting Monday April 7th at 10.30am and 2pm. This NAB is going to be incredibly cool. You can learn more at nabshowbuzz.com. We’re teaming with Moviola to provide video coverage as well as audio coverage. It’s going to be, as Michael says, huge.
Mike Horton: Huge.
Larry Jordan: We’re going to be back with Andrew Kowalchuk right after this.
Larry Jordan: Blackmagic Design is now shipping its production camera 4K, a super high resolution 4K digital production camera for Ultra HD television production. Featuring a large Super 35 sensor with a professional global shutter, yet also offers EF and ZE compatible lens mounts and records to a super fast SSD drive. Featuring high quality ProRes files, the Blackmagic production camera 4K gives customers a complete solution to shoot amazing high resolution music videos, episodic television productions, television commercials, sports, documentaries and much more.
Larry Jordan: The Blackmagic production camera 4K also features an incredibly tempting price of $2995. Learn more about the Blackmagic production camera 4K that is definitely priced to move at blackmagicdesign.com. That’s blackmagicdesign.com.
Larry Jordan: Andrew Kowalchuk is the in-house tech guy at Banger Films based in Toronto, Canada. His job includes everything from online editing, post supervision and workflow solutions to network troubleshooting and printer repair. His current project is ‘Super Duper Alice Cooper’. Hello, Andrew, welcome.
Andrew Kowalchuk: Hi.
Larry Jordan: So tell us what kind of work does Banger Films Do?
Andrew Kowalchuk: Banger Films is known for documentary films that are usually music documentaries that are about heavy metal. Their first film was called ‘Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey’, came out about nine years ago, and the two principals of the company have been working on that idea for quite a while. One of them, the on-camera host, Sam Dunn, a lifelong metal head, I guess he felt that metal music was really maligned and marginalized, and so he made a doc about it that really got a lot of top metal people in the film, and kind of gave him some credibility and put in a bit of cultural perspective.
Andrew Kowalchuk: His background is an anthropologist, so he really set the film up in a cultural context, and the film did really well, and made them a lot of friends and they just kind of rolled with it from there and made a series of other films.
Larry Jordan: When did you get involved with the company?
Andrew Kowalchuk: I worked on that first movie.
Larry Jordan: And they couldn’t chase you away, huh?
Andrew Kowalchuk: Yes. It’s kind of like that. Yes, they were first time film makers and so they were renting some space from me and using some gear, and back then we were working off a tape Panasonic camera.
Larry Jordan: I remember those ancient days of long ago when you shot tape. So what kind of hats are you wearing now? What do you do for the company?
Andrew Kowalchuk: Well, I continually go online. My main thing is onlining their stuff. Because there’s so much historical stuff, there’s always a ton of visual research and there’s always a ton of stock footage. That’s been from the beginning, they’ve done that. It’s the thing of, we’re working in HD, we’ve got standard def sources from all over the place, years, who knows what? And so converting all that stuff, putting it into HD, whether it’s pillar boxed or full screen or whatever, has always been a bit of a job and in the past I’ve done software based solutions.
Larry Jordan: Ok, well hold on one second because I want to focus more specifically on the ‘Super Duper Alice Cooper’ project.
Andrew Kowalchuk: Yes, sure.
Larry Jordan: What did you have for source materials and what was the purpose of the project? Walk me through what you had to work with and then I want to find out what you did to put it together.
Andrew Kowalchuk: Right, ok, sure. Well, the Alice Cooper doc was a little bit different for them, where they decided that they were not going to use any talking heads. They actually hired another director, so it’s actually got a three director banner, and they did a concept where they were like it’s going to be all historical, any modern interviews are voice only and it’s going to be anything they could find, it was wide open.
Andrew Kowalchuk: Alice Cooper has a giant archive of stuff. I mean, they made movies in the ‘70s and probably in the ‘60s even, so Alice Cooper and his management were executive producers of the film, so we had access to this archive that’s stored at Iron Mountain, somewhere in LA, and the director was there a number of times digging stuff up, so we were film scanning, work prints, and outtakes and all kinds of stuff, so it’s got a certain amount of unseen footage, tons of TV interviews, news stuff from all over the place, photographs, just everything.
Larry Jordan: So how did you bring it in? You’re looking at all this source material, film and tape, how did you bring it into whatever you needed for editing?
Andrew Kowalchuk: Yes, the film stuff, I mean, they did film transfers and actually inside this Iron Mountain facility, I guess they have their own set-up, so they were giving me DPX stuff but we would buy stock off people, they would deliver it online or we’d get beta tapes and stuff and digitize stuff, so that’s where Teranex, the Blackmagic, that was my big go to tool for that.
Larry Jordan: Wait, wait, wait. Stop right there. How did you use the Teranex? I haven’t actually played with one in real life, walk me through the process. It’s only for tape? Or you use it for files? Can you use it for clean up?
Andrew Kowalchuk: I guess it’s a little different. Traditionally, I always thought that Teranex was a thing that people were using for standard conversion. My workflow was different, where I would have just maybe short clips. Again, if I was playing them out of my Final Cut system, in some cases I would play them just out of Final Cut, out of the Blackmagic card into the Teranex and then record them. I had to buy another device, I bought the Hyperdeck, one of those little recorders, so instead of having to hook up another system, I would just play out files, put them through the box, record them back. We’d record into ProRes because we were working in Final Cut, so everything was pretty well ProRes and take a look at them. Process them, look at them. I mean, they’re pretty meticulous. This documentary took a couple of years to make and so along the way we get really particular about how good we want the things to look, or how to make them look the best, so we tweak it and try different things.
Mike Horton: How fast was the Teranex versus the old software way of doing it?
Andrew Kowalchuk: Well, it’s just that it’s different, you know? It has benefits, it has drawbacks. For me, the software way with Compressor was more like trying to come up with recipes you know, their settings, field removal, motion estimation. I would come up with these different settings and I would process things. Usually I would process a clip three or four different ways and then see which one I thought was the best.
Andrew Kowalchuk: With the Teranex, it’s more straight ahead. You can see instantly what you’re getting and you can monitor it, but the workflow’s a bit more fiddly. You can’t line up a batch file or something and let it go, you’ve got to actually sit there and press record and watch it.
Larry Jordan: Can you actually do image restoration with it or is it simply a digitizing facility?
Andrew Kowalchuk: Well, I guess you call it restoration because I’m taking it up to HD, and in this case, in this film, the director was really adamant that all the standard def material be full screen. In the past, we’ve done pillar box stuff, so he was like, “No, this has got to be full screen,” so those were the settings I’d be dialing in, and then outputting them, and then checking out, you know, cropping and sizing, just making sure that that all looked good.
Larry Jordan: Did you take anything into DaVinci Resolve?
Andrew Kowalchuk: Yes. Well, Resolve was really the other tool that I was so happy to get my hands on and have. Because the other part of the film is a lot of silent film footage, so we would take stuff and I would color correct it in Resolve and then pass it to the graphics department. It was a small company, there’s a few guys in the graphics department, so I was able to tweak stuff, get it to look good and give it to them, because once the stuff’s married – this is the visual style they have – it’s really hard to color correct the individual elements so to me this was a really great workflow because we were just able to work at the pace that we worked at, putting it together day by day.
Andrew Kowalchuk: You wouldn’t even buy all that stock footage at once, just because there’s so much of it. You can’t even get it all, like, you can’t get it delivered in one day, you know? It’s onlined all of a sudden.
Larry Jordan: It’s a long process.
Andrew Kowalchuk: It’s sort of brick by brick building it.
Larry Jordan: When you were transcoding and creating the final digital master, what video format or what codec were you using?
Andrew Kowalchuk: ProRes HQ. All the film stuff that we had DPX scans, those I had in larger size so I’d be working in Final Cut and sort of a mixed bag of things, but some of those film things were kind of forte, but some of them were from release prints. So there’s optical audio on them and whatnot, so they have to be sized. But those I kept full size, as large as they were scanned, and then sized them inside Resolve or inside of Final Cut, just depending on how I was treating them. So everything was ProRes HQ, all the graphics, tons of photos were flatbed scanned and the graphics guys, it’s all pretty well After Effects.
Andrew Kowalchuk: I would get that film footage or even that video footage, clean it up, do whatever I needed to do, size it for HD, hand it off to them, they would do the graphics, give it back to me, into the show, sort of build it.
Mike Horton: My goodness, this sounds like a massive project.
Larry Jordan: Is the project done? And if so, what are the distribution plans?
Andrew Kowalchuk: The film’s world premiere is at Tribeca.
Larry Jordan: Ooh, congratulations.
Andrew Kowalchuk: I guess it’s not quite April, so in a couple of weeks, and then the next date is Hot Docs Festival in Toronto. It’s got a limited theatrical release in the States. The other thing is we finished it out and in the end we went out to a DCP, so we’ve done however many versions of that, that’s playing all over the States. But what they’re doing, I know, in Canada, the day it plays at the Hot Docs Festival in Toronto, they will have a live question and answer session after the show with Alice, and if you’re in a theater in Canada, you’ll get to see that Q&A live in the theaters.
Mike Horton: Oh, fun.
Larry Jordan: That’s very cool.
Andrew Kowalchuk: Yes, and it’s in about 50 theaters in Canada on that day.
Larry Jordan: That’s going to be very exciting.
Andrew Kowalchuk: Yes, it’s pretty exciting, and for me the other thing is Alice Cooper’s one of those guys that he was always around as a kid and you’re just like, “Wow.” To actually, you know, meet him and talk to him and also find out how much of the story – this is the other thing that Banger does really well – just how much of the stories, how much are things you don’t know about people and their stories. For me, one of the big things is that a bunch of Alice’s story actually occurs in Toronto and because we’re Toronto based, there are things you’re like, “Oh, I never knew that.”
Larry Jordan: And, Andrew, where can people go on the web to learn more about the film and keep track of when it’s screening in their area?
Andrew Kowalchuk: ‘Super Duper Alice Cooper’ is the name of the movie.
Larry Jordan: And where on the web can they learn more?
Andrew Kowalchuk: Superduperalicecooper.com.
Larry Jordan: Superduperalicecooper.com, and how about Banger Films? What’s your website?
Mike Horton: Probably bangerfilms.com?
Larry Jordan: Sounds like bangerfilms.com and Andrew Kowalchuk is the Technical Supervisor at Banger Films and, Andrew, thanks for joining us today.
Mike Horton: Thanks, Andrew.
Larry Jordan: Julie Janata is an Emmy award winning producer, a director and editor. Her films have won more than 20 awards around the world; five have been acquired by Showtime, two by PBS, as well as domestic and international television and theatrical distribution. And just this month, Michael, she has two different films premiering in two different festivals. Hello, Julie, welcome.
Julie Janata: Hi. Thank you very much for having me. You guys are the gurus for all of us. I look you up on the web all the time, so thank you for having me.
Mike Horton: Oh, that’s Larry. You won’t find my name under guru, that’s for sure.
Larry Jordan: Oh, Michael’s a very famous guru, he’s just extraordinarily modest.
Mike Horton: Yes. Between you and me.
Larry Jordan: Julie, I want to talk about how you got your films into distribution, but before we do, brag about yourself a little bit. Tell us about your background.
Julie Janata: Let’s see. You said a lot about me. I started in high school in local television.
Larry Jordan: In what? In high school?
Julie Janata: In high school. I started on public access cable television as a camera operator, and during college I was assistant promotion director of an ABC station, had a big hurdle to realize that this could actually be a profession that real people do and, at the TV station in promotion, I got much more excited about editing and story building because I had grown up reading novels. So I decided to come to Hollywood, be an editor and I went to the American Film Institute.
Larry Jordan: Oh, very cool.
Julie Janata: So long story short, editor skills, producer skills and now I’m developing projects to direct.
Larry Jordan: See, you’ve just humiliated both Mike and me at the same time. Congratulations.
Julie Janata: Oh, I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to humiliate anybody.
Mike Horton: I’m going to look up her name. Film making guru. Ok.
Larry Jordan: Now we got a film making guru. So tell us about is it ‘The Cooler Bandits’ you’ve got going at South By South West?
Julie Janata: ‘Take Me To The River’ was at South By South West two weeks ago. We won the audience award for 24 beats per second, which is…
Larry Jordan: Ok, wait, wait, wait, wait. I want to make sure I got it right. So ‘Take Me To The River’ was at South By South West?
Julie Janata: Yes. ‘Take Me To The River’ and on that film I was a writer and editor. It’s so exciting. It won the audience award for, the section it was in was called 24 beats per second, which is music films, music documentary, and that one is an interracial, intergenerational collaboration in the making of a new album, and it brought together legends of Memphis R&B with rappers and each track of the album is a collaboration and includes Snoop Dogg, Terrence Howard, Mavis Staples, Bobby Bland, Bobby Rush and Frazier Boyd, who won the Oscar for ‘It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp’ from Hustle & Flow, Al Capone, who wrote ‘Whoop That Trick’.
Julie Janata: There are dozens of people in this movie, including all the great session musicians who were really the backbone of Stax Records and Royal Studios and Zebra Ranch. They did what they called woodshedding, which was they wouldn’t write a song and rehearse it and then go into the studio. They would go into the studio and say, “Al Green needs three more tracks for his new album,” and together they would write it. And so Martin Shore, who directed this film, tried to recreate that atmosphere, that creative convergence, and put eight cameras at a time on each one of these sessions and 3500 hours of footage and…
Mike Horton: Oh! 3500? Wow.
Julie Janata: …and tried to make a story out of that, not just one session at a time, but their back story. They’re such creative people, and the interaction between them is so exciting, and to watch the creative process bloom in front of you; and then also with the back story of civil rights, not just civil rights back in the day but Snoop is tremendous at being so gracious about how modern rappers are standing on the shoulders of these others who are really unsung, people that you may never have heard of. But, for example, Skip Pitts helped to write ‘Shaft’ for Isaac Hayes.
Larry Jordan: Now, this is a project where you could spend just a lifetime watching the rushes, much less do any editing. But at the same time, you’ve got another film called ‘The Cooler Bandits’, which went to the Cleveland International Film Festival. Is that right?
Julie Janata: Yes. It premiered yesterday and it played again in Akron, Ohio today, which is its home town – most of it’s shot in Akron, Ohio – and it screens again tomorrow morning, Friday 28th, at Tower City in Cleveland if anybody’s nearby.
Larry Jordan: So how did you get these films in the festival? Was it your responsibility or did somebody else do that?
Julie Janata: Well, not only these films, but I’ve done it on many films, and there is no secret sauce to getting a film into a festival except to make a good movie and to have a point of view. Make a good movie that represents your own voice. Years ago, one of the first documentaries I made, I was trained on studio films in Meredith filmmaking, which I still do and I still really love, and so I was trained in story structure and character development and I really love that.
Julie Janata: But years ago, we were making a film called ‘Mayor of the Sunset Strip’ about a KROQ DJ named Rodney Bingenheimer, who had discovered a lot of great bands and helped to make them famous, and he’s still on KROQ today. At the time that we were making that movie, there was a show on TV called ‘Behind The Music’. It was free on TV every night, so the big question was, why should anybody care about our movie? If you’re watching bands for free and you don’t have to get off your couch, why should I care as an audience person?
Julie Janata: So as a filmmaker, my feeling is then you have to step up and almost build the film backwards from why is this special? Why is this different? And then build that into the story and the characters and make it compelling enough that audiences will want it, distributors will want it, film festivals will want it. So I don’t know what the trick is except really try hard to make a good movie. One tip I would say is it never, never works to rush a film to a festival. It never works. It’s not ready.
Larry Jordan: And Julie, where can people go to keep track of the films you’re working on, on the web?
Julie Janata: Well, the best place is my Facebook page.
Larry Jordan: Which is?
Julie Janata: Juliejanata.
Larry Jordan: That’s facebook.com/juliejanata. Julie, thanks for joining us today. We appreciate your time.
Mike Horton: Thanks Julie.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
Julie Janata: Thank you. Take care. Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Devan Cress is the Director of Sales at Marshall Electronics, which is a manufacturer of broadcast monitors that mount on top of a camera or in a rack. He’s got more than 15 years’ experience in the industry and, Devan, thanks for joining us today.
Devan Cress: Well, I certainly do appreciate that. Thank you very much.
Larry Jordan: Well, we are glad to have you here because Marshall’s a company that I pay attention to every NAB and I want to talk a little bit more about what you guys are doing at the upcoming trade show. But first, give us a background on what Marshall Electronics makes.
Devan Cress: Sure. Marshall Electronics is best known for doing LCD rack mount monitors, as well as camera top monitors. They’re used in the film industry, they’re used throughout any place that you might need to have a better resolution solution to view a camera, to have a better viewing angle as well. We’ve been in business for about 25 years and we made a name in the industry and certainly have been in the broadcast sector for quite some time.
Larry Jordan: Well, you’ve got a second type of monitor which is not a rack mount, but it’s a camera top. Tell us about those?
Devan Cress: Sure. We’ve been building camera top monitors for about four or five years and, if you’ve used a camera before – of course, many of your audience have – the viewfinders are very small. We realized four or five years ago a need in the industry to have a much larger viewing capacity for what is being filmed. Marshall then introduced the camera top monitor. It has evolved over the years. We’ve added feature sets such as waveform; we’ve added features such as false color, so that you can get better focusing angles. Through the years, the resolutions have increased too. I would say one of the new things in the market is higher resolution monitors. That’s something that Marshall is introducing at the NAB and something that you should certainly be looking at.
Larry Jordan: We’ll talk about the NAB stuff in a second, but you said a phrase that I’m not sure I understand. You used the words ‘false color’. What does that mean and how does it help?
Devan Cress: With a false color filter, you’re going to be able to see lines around the picture so that you can get an accurate color picture. Many times, if you’re looking through a smaller viewfinder, you’re not going to be able to focus correctly and get the correct colors. That’s something that a camera top monitor offers you the ability to do and, when it has these features such as false color, you’re able to better capture an accurate picture and really see what the camera is filming.
Larry Jordan: Now, help me understand. This is just a monitor setting. We’re not changing a filter setting in the camera, but how does false color help me see the picture better?
Devan Cress: False color is going to put a line around some of the edges of a person, per se, so you’re able to better focus in on the main focus of what the filmmaker is trying to find, so it’s not capturing the things to the left or the right, in the foreground, in the background. You’re able to focus in on the actual article that you’re trying to find.
Larry Jordan: So in other words, it enhances the edge detail that we’re seeing, the transition between a person’s face and a background.
Devan Cress: That is absolutely correct. Absolutely correct on that, hence obviously you’re getting a better picture and a better filmmaking experience.
Larry Jordan: So let’s shift gears and talk about NAB. What are you going to be launching at NAB?
Devan Cress: At NAB this year, we’re launching some full resolution camera top monitors, as well as monitors. We’ve seen 4K and 2K resolutions, and the resolutions of cameras increase. We have had more and more requests for full resolution 1920 by 1080 camera top monitors. In the past, many of the camera top monitors were not available with that kind of pixel ratio in them, so a lot of things were scaled so you weren’t getting an accurate depiction of exactly what was seen on the monitor.
Devan Cress: You could do pixel to pixel ratios, where you would see certain sections of what was being filmed, but you weren’t able to get a full view screen without having it scaled. So, with the technology that’s increased and the ability to be able to shrink down the pixels, we now have 1920 by 1080 panels available. One of the new products that we’re showing is a V-LCD71MD. This particular monitor comes in the modular design feature, so you have multiple inputs that you can put into this from HDMI to HD-SDI, and you’re able to use any number of batteries on it.
Devan Cress: But the nice feature of it is the full resolution, being able to see the full picture set directly in front of you. This monitor will be on display as well at NAB, so any of your audience can certainly stop by and see that.
Mike Horton: Now, what size do they come in? Have you got different sizes or one standard size?
Devan Cress: The first size of the monitor in this full resolution is going to be a seven inch size. This also has a nice feature set that a lot of film makers like, where it can accept an HDMI output and we have modules that will do a cross conversion on it as well. So if you were filming and you have to use a longer distance HD-SDI cable, you don’t have to have any kind of converters. You can just input HDMI and you can output an HD-SDI signal from that, so that’s an added feature to this as well which obviously helps film makers quite a bit.
Larry Jordan: Everything in the camera revolves around weight. You just don’t have the unlimited bearing capacity of a monitor on the table, so how much does the seven inch monitor weigh? And where does the battery get attached?
Devan Cress: The seven inch monitor weighs approximately 14 ounces, so there is some weight behind that, but that would include the batteries. You have multiple options on it for the battery mounts. You can use Canon batteries, Sony batteries, Panasonic batteries, so we really built this monitor to work with just about any camera that is out there.
Larry Jordan: Marshall’s supplied monitors for the high end part of the market – broadcast and network television – for years and years and years. How are you pricing these new camera tops? Is this designed for people that have big budgets?
Devan Cress: Marshall has realized that there are all kinds of filmmakers out there in the market today, so Marshall makes a full range of monitors from the entry level, all the way up to the broadcast quality size. Our entry level monitors would be our CT monitors. These are wonderful monitors for people who are shooting with DSLR cameras. They offer many features as well as the different battery mount options.
Devan Cress: The NB series is probably one of our most popular ones and that is in the series of the new 71 MD that I mentioned. This is one that has modular design inputs so that it has flexibility to change. I would say that this is probably one of our most popular in the broadcast field. Now, we also have our Orchid line that will have waveform, vectorscope, many more features that the broadcast industry likes as well.
Devan Cress: As a price point, we have everything going from a $200 monitor all the way up to a very advanced features set monitor that can range to $2,000 or so.
Larry Jordan: Those are much more attractive prices than I was expecting. An entry level at $200 and the high end is still less than $2,000?
Devan Cress: That is correct, absolutely. With the advanced feature sets, you would be looking at a price of $2,000. The monitor that I mentioned, the V-LCD71MD, our newest monitor with the full resolution, has a list price of $1699, so it’s still a very affordable monitor for the feature sets that are offered and excellent for the filmmaking industry.
Larry Jordan: Now, that monitor is a 1080 monitor, so it gives us 1920 pixels across by 1080 high. What happens if we start to move into higher res like 2K or 4K? How are we going to monitor that?
Devan Cress: We certainly have addressed that in the 4K field. We don’t have monitors that can be camera top monitors as of yet, but we do have production monitors that we have just come out with. This particular series is our QVW series and this offers full resolution 4K and also, in a smaller size, we’ve scale and accept 4K signals to fit the particular pixel ratio. These monitors can range all the way up to 4096 by 2160 and our smaller sized ones will be 1920 by 1080 in resolution but they all will accept 2K and 4K resolution.
Devan Cress: The place that we see these monitors going is more into the production side, where a director or a producer will want to see on the side in a little bit larger screen, approximately maybe a 27 inch screen or so, the full 4K image and Marshall is also introducing those at the NAB show.
Mike Horton: Well, I’m looking forward to that.
Larry Jordan: Yes.
Devan Cress: They certainly have a wonderful picture on them and it’s amazing to see the changes in resolution and how quickly it’s happening.
Larry Jordan: So you’re taking the feed from the camera, so it would be an HDMI or an
Devan Cress: There are a number of cameras out there but very few cameras are actually doing a native 4K output. The ones I’m familiar with are produced by RED or Canon or Sony and they will have four 3G HD-SDI cables as an output. We accept those four 3G HD-SDI outputs. Basically, you’re pulling in four 1080p signals and then stitching them all together seamlessly to produce a 4K image.
Devan Cress: The other cameras that are out there, we’re still seeing a lot of HDMI cameras that are recording in 4K, but they’re not actually in the field outputting in 4K. You have to bring that back to process. So we see some people using the HDMI full resolution monitors in filming 4K and then we see the need for these particular cameras like the Sony F55, where they have a native 4K output, and these production monitors that we are producing are certainly a valuable solution.
Larry Jordan: I was offered a conference earlier today, and one of the big challenges we have is not just larger image sizes, a 4K or a 2K image, but we’re seeing a lot more interest in faster frame rates – 50 frames a second, 48 frames a second and 60 frames a second. How does the frame rate affect the monitor that we pick?
Devan Cress: The particular frame rate has been increasing, you’re absolutely correct. The traditional broadcast standard of 2994 and 5994 are still available with these, but they also support the 60 hertz. What you’re seeing is a smoother transition with the faster frame ratios. All of these monitors, of course, support all of the common formats that are available as an output on any of the 4K cameras that are currently available. 00:40:38:04
Larry Jordan: Is it harder for a monitor manufacturer to support higher resolution or faster frame rates?
Devan Cress: In my opinion, it would be harder to support the higher resolutions. There’s a limited number of panel manufacturers out there who are actually producing these panels, so they’re very difficult to get a hold of, you have to find the right one with the correct color for the film industry and, in our search, when we were building our 4K monitors, it was very difficult to find a panel that met our specifications.
Devan Cress: The panel that we found that met our specification has an 815 MIT brightness, which is an extraordinary brightness in a panel of that particular size, so that it is very vibrant and very clear, which we find important in the filming industry. Many times, these are in outdoor environments and the sun can be shining down and you need something that has the brightness so that you can see a clear picture.
Larry Jordan: That’s some amazing stuff. So just to recap, tell us what the new goodies are at NAB so people know what to look for when they come by your booth.
Devan Cress: Absolutely. I would say that we’d want everybody to come by and see our new camera top monitor that is full resolution. That’s our V-LCD71MD. As I stated, that was 1920 by 1080 as a full resolution panel. We have an entire line of 4K compatible monitors. That’s our entire QVW line that comes in 17, 24 and 27 inch sizes. We also have a 31 inch 4K native resolution solution that we’ll be displaying at NAB as well.
Devan Cress: In the film and production side, I also welcome all of your listeners to come and look at our HDMI wireless solution. We have a solution that will fit on top of a camera top and it will be able to transmit up to 150 feet away to any other camera top monitor or production monitor a signal coming directly from a camera.
Mike Horton: I love it. I love it. That’s wonderful.
Larry Jordan: Is that frequency agile or are you going to end up with interference with wireless microphones?
Devan Cress: This particular device, which is our WP1 or WP2, has over 100 frequencies on it, so it’s a frequency hopping device which automatically goes through a number of different frequencies to find one that is available. We use this inside trade shows, where there is the worst interference and we haven’t had problems with this particular unit.
Larry Jordan: And, Devan, what website can people go to to learn more?
Devan Cress: People should go to lcdracks.com to learn more about the Marshall product line.
Larry Jordan: That’s lcdracks.com and Devan Cress is the Director of Sales for Marshall. Devan, thanks for joining us today.
Mike Horton: Thanks Devan.
Larry Jordan: Take care.
Devan Cress: Excellent. Have a good one.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
Devan Cress: Thank you very much.
Larry Jordan: Brandon Parvini is the Founder and Lead Creative Director of Ghost Town Media, a Los Angeles based post production house that produces award winning work with extensive use of Cinema 4D. They’ve created music videos for today’s most successful musical artists such a Linkin Park, Kanye West, Will.i.am and others. Hello, Brandon.
Brandon Reza Parvini: Hi there.
Larry Jordan: Brandon, why did you decide to start a brand new post house in 2006 in Los Angeles? This is like hurt yourself the most, isn’t it?
Brandon Reza Parvini: Yes, actually. I decided to show up just as they were turning off the party lights and everyone’s going home. I’d been working for a couple of years in broadcast, coming straight out of college, and for some reason the ladder system that traditional post houses have just kind of scared me, the idea of grinding my way up, sitting underneath of a… artist and I guess I’m just not patient enough that I came to a better answer.
Brandon Reza Parvini: I figured if I could basically break off and show people what I could do, initially with the work with Mr. Jeff Lichtfuss, who is another partner in the company, and just kind of show people what we could do. I could more quickly get after the projects I wanted to do and have a little bit of that creative freedom, even if… I had no other freedom.
Larry Jordan: Well, I had a chance to visit your website and some of the Will.i.am videos are just stunning.
Mike Horton: Yes, I’m watching one right now with Justin Bieber.
Larry Jordan: Just amazing stuff. How did you manage to get involved in the very clannish music business? Breaking in is not easy.
Brandon Reza Parvini: It’s incredible how circumstantial all of it is. It’s interesting, I entered into the music video industry basically during its demise. I would be talking with the producers and they’d talk about this time before time when they’d fly everyone to Florida because it was cheaper to do that on a private jet and now all of a sudden, at the time, I’m doing a music video for 5,000 bucks and a backrub and it traditionally would have been a six figure deal.
Brandon Reza Parvini: Because of that, when that happened, the whole world kind of became flat and it became about just what you were making. I was working with a couple of directors who I was friends with, I had went to school with, and was doing some smaller projects for a record label… and people started seeing stuff. I ended up getting linked in with Partizan Entertainment at the time. Partizan being Michel Gondry’s company. They had a whole rostra of directors who were dealing with some of the best acts in the industry and just being fortunate and working with Gov’t Mule I managed to get recommended from director to director and you just kind of trip, bumble and stumble your way into things.
Brandon Reza Parvini: I wish I could tell you there’s some kind of brilliant marketing strategy. There isn’t. It’s just late nights.
Larry Jordan: Well, looking at some of the videos, they all have a very specific style, a very specific look. Is that look determined before you begin shooting or do you figure that out after you’ve got the footage in the can?
Brandon Reza Parvini: Yes.
Mike Horton: Both?
Brandon Reza Parvini: A little bit of both. We’ve always had a notion over here that I have no interest in going toe to toe with Method or with Visual Domain. They do what they do. If you want to have a 60 foot tall robot bashing through a building and have it all be photo real, go to them. They have a bunch of machines and a bunch of artists who are all awesome at doing that. We like to approach things a little bit differently over here, that change in approach and the eventual goals of the vision, our projects just look different.
Brandon Reza Parvini: We invent workflows in order to find a way to do it with less people. We break our software all the time, we ask it to do things that it’s not supposed to do and we like happy accidents. We like finding quirks and peculiarities in the software that we can kind of exploit and find beauty in this breakage. Because of that, it’s become a calling card of the company. When you need something a little bit different, when you need something else, you can talk to the guys over at Ghost Town and they’ll usually come up with a solution that’s kind of mixing chemicals a little bit. It’s going to be weird but hopefully it’ll be cool.
Larry Jordan: Well, it is cool and it’s very stylish and it’s very visual. What software tools are you using to create this?
Brandon Reza Parvini: We started as an After Effects house and just literally applying all the effects that you could find, and then I eventually realized that I kind of had peaked out what After Effects could provide for us, so that’s when I made the jump over to Cinema 4D and started actually getting better assets to work from. And then beyond that, we track these in Mocha and SynthEyes. I’ve been doing some work in a platform known as… which is basically a visual coding language. Thankfully it is very open source and I can kind of Frankenstein code together to make cool looking imagery.
Brandon Reza Parvini: But we’re fairly software agnostic. It’s more a matter of what gives you the look you need. I’ve had times where I’ve had to jump into Nuke, just to get a… extractor and then bring that back over to After Effects, where I feel more comfortable about doing the compositing. You just kind of go after the software that helps you get to where you want to be.
Mike Horton: You do a lot of Cinema 4D, going through the various videos here, and you can see a lot of 3D. Why Cinema 4D over, say, Maya? Did you look at both and think one’s just easier or more comfortable for me than the other? Or is it completely different and Maya scares the hell out of you?
Brandon Reza Parvini: It’s funny, my business partner Jeff actually was trained in Maya and we always thought that we’d be a Maya house. I describe this to people, that software is a bit of a language – you learn to speak someone’s language – and being someone who came in from outside the industry, I never spoke Autodesk, I was never trained to speak Autodesk, but I had been using Photoshop since I was six so I spoke fluent Adobe. Maxon and their language that they went with for Cinema 4D was very Adobe-ish, in the same way that Latin… to English and it… fashion. You could kind of make your way through there very quickly, and so the language barrier and the barrier of entry was so much lower to get into Cinema 4D and start getting stuff that looked good in terms of where you invest your 10,000 hours.
Brandon Reza Parvini: I chose to invest mine there and get much further along than starting from scratch. I’ve been in and out of Maya several times and I’ve never felt comfortable there. I’ve always felt like a bit of a fish out of water. It does incredible work, it’s just not the workflow that I enjoy and, frankly, it’s the speed. It’s the speed of being able to jump in and really quickly be able to throw in a set of MoGraph, toss together a quick procedural shader and have something that looks like what you wanted to have without having to build it brick by brick. They have a lot of really beneficial shortcuts. The idea that I can go in on a Tuesday and by the evening be rendering, not be working to get to the render until Friday. I can come up with an idea and say, “Ok, I’m just going to hop into C4D,” jump in there and just make what I need to make. It doesn’t get in your way and I felt like at times Maya and a lot of the other 3D solutions had so many brilliant options that were just unneeded for the task at hand.
Brandon Reza Parvini: I use the analogy of bringing a Howitzer to a knife fight. Sometimes I just need to get a quick piece of geometry rendered with a basic piece of lighting on it, or I have a model and I just want to get a basic shader on this and I know what the shader needs to look like. I don’t need to be worrying about all 47 other tabs. I can just get in there and do what I need to do.
Mike Horton: And plus now, there’s a Lite version in Adobe Premier, so jeez.
Brandon Reza Parvini: Exactly. I know.
Larry Jordan: Brandon, where can people go on the web to learn more about the kind of work your company is turning out?
Brandon Reza Parvini: You can go to gtmvfx.com and that’s our main site. You can also find us on Twitter @gtmvfx. I myself have generally been abstaining from social media, though I’m slowly working my way in there and I’m actually going to be presenting and speaking on behalf of Maxon over at this year’s NAB. I’m going to be over in the South Hall and I’ll be talking about some of the odd ways that I go about how I do what I do.
Larry Jordan: Very good. You’ve got a duplicate site at ghosttownmedia.com for people who don’t like initials. It’s gtmvfx.com or ghosttownmedia.com. Brandon Parvini is the Founder and Lead Creative Director. Brandon, thanks for joining us today.
Brandon Reza Parvini: Cheers.
Mike Horton: Thanks, Brandon.
Larry Jordan: Take care.
Brandon Reza Parvini: Thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
Mike Horton: I like that music.
Larry Jordan: That’s a nice piece of music. We’ll use that again. You could dance to it.
Mike Horton: I am dancing.
Larry Jordan: Get off the table.
Mike Horton: Ok, then.
Larry Jordan: You’re kicking the coffee cups.
Mike Horton: Back in the chair. Ok. I’m ready.
Larry Jordan: You ready?
Mike Horton: I’m ready.
Larry Jordan: You standing by?
Mike Horton: Yes.
Larry Jordan: Ok, here we go. The microphone is up, the lights are down. It’s time for…
Mike Horton: Pick Our Brains.
Larry Jordan: I think there was a little bit of a slur on the last word, but the beginning was…
Mike Horton: You know, the night after I have my local user group meeting, my voice is just on low.
Larry Jordan: Very powerful. It’s dropped three notes. Your baritone is starting to approach bass.
Mike Horton: Yes, tomorrow it’ll be back up here.
Larry Jordan: For all of us people who have normal voices, you just embarrass us.
Mike Horton: Speaking of a normal voice, this guy does not have a normal problem, that you can hopefully solve.
Larry Jordan: Ok, what software?
Mike Horton: It is a Final Cut Pro 10 problem.
Larry Jordan: Ok, I’m sitting down.
Mike Horton: And he says: ‘I recently updated to Final Cut Pro 10.1. Now, I want to take projects that I have finished, saved on one external hard drive, and move everything including the raw data to a backup drive. I used to duplicate the project and event onto the backup hard drive and delete the original, but that feature is gone. So then is it correct to copy my entire library over to this external hard drive using Finder, then delete events and projects on my main hard drive? Then, from then on when I back up, I can use Time Machine to only backup changed files?’
Larry Jordan: Oh, you read that so well. I’ll tell you, it’s like listening to Miss Piggy with a deeper voice.
Mike Horton: I read it with his emotion.
Larry Jordan: With Final Cut 10.1, they changed the entire way that does media management in that there are now two places that media can be stored. One is inside the library, which is called managed media; and the second is the library points to an external folder, where the media is perhaps shared between editors. This is called external media. The easiest way to do back ups is if all of your media is stored inside the library folder. You just simply, in the Finder, grab the library, that icon that’s sitting on your desktop and drag that icon over to a second drive.
Mike Horton: That easy, just drag and drop?
Larry Jordan: Just drag it, because what happens is the library is what’s called a super folder, it’s a special kind of folder called a bundle, and inside that bundle is all of your media, all of your projects, all of your events. Dragging the library that contains everything is as easy as dragging a single file. You could, in fact, do this automatically. Let’s say all of your libraries were stored in a single folder, just hypothetically. On my system, I call it Final Cut Libraries. You could get an application from bombich.com called Carbon Copy Cloner and, say, every 15 minutes, every five hours, every evening, copy the entire folder – Final Cut Libraries – to the second drive.
Mike Horton: And, of course, it only copies what’s different.
Larry Jordan: It will only copy that which has changed, which means you’re going to copy the media once and after that your backup becomes almost instantaneous. The cool thing is that you can schedule this so it becomes a part of the regular backup routine and now you still have the library in two places, because having an extra copy of a project is never a bad thing. When you decide that it’s time to delete, then you just simply delete it off your main drive.
Larry Jordan: Things get more complex, though, when the media is stored in a second file, where the library points to the external media. Now you’ve got to make sure that you’re backing up all of the files that are contained inside that library and the files they point to, so it means you need to keep track of what you are backing up.
Larry Jordan: What’s nice, though, is inside Final Cut 10.1, there is a move library function in the file menu and you can select the library that you want to move and it will automatically move it and associated media from wherever it is to wherever you want it to go.
Larry Jordan: But really, from my point of view, a program like Carbon Copy Cloner gives us all the benefits plus scheduling of Time Machine. Time Machine works, Carbon Copy Cloner works, dragging it from the Finder works and what you’re really dragging is the library which contains or points to everything.
Mike Horton: Now, since we’re talking about all this library stuff, should we not mention this groovy little tool that just came out a week or two ago called Library Manager?
Larry Jordan: Library Manager, which is published by Arctic Whiteness, is a $6 utility.
Mike Horton: It’s a nine buck app or something.
Larry Jordan: But it’s dirt cheap. The problem is it doesn’t allow us to move libraries. It allows us to open files, delete render files, delete proxy files, delete optimized files, delete analysis files and even delete shared media, but doesn’t allow us to do backups or clones. Library Manager is on my system and I run it every day because it’s so useful in opening exactly the project that we want, but doesn’t answer his question about, how do I make backups successfully.
Mike Horton: Ok.
Larry Jordan: Is that ok?
Mike Horton: Yes, that’s very good.
Larry Jordan: Just want to make sure. For those people who were not paying attention…
Mike Horton: A satisfactory answer to a complex problem.
Larry Jordan: …when is Supermeet?
Mike Horton: April 8th.
Larry Jordan: Which is Tuesday.
Mike Horton: I’m going to be there. You’re going to be there Saturday, I’m going to be there Saturday. We’re staying an entire week.
Larry Jordan: We can go out dancing.
Mike Horton: We’re, yes, going dancing at the end. We’ll see a show.
Larry Jordan: I’m going to take a nap.
Mike Horton: We’ll go see…
Larry Jordan: And The Buzz, I’ll tell you, you’ve got to pay attention…
Mike Horton: I know, The Buzz is going to be there.
Larry Jordan: …our webmaster Tori has been working her fingers to the bone getting nabshowbuzz.com ready. You have got to check out this website. Nabshowbuzz.com, live shows, taped shows, every kind of show, you name it, the interviews are there. I want to thank our guests who joined us today – Andrew Kowalchuk, Julie Janata, Devan Cress and Brandon Parvini.
Larry Jordan: Music on The Buzz is provided by SmartSound. The Buzz is streamed by wehostmacs.com. Our producer is Cirina Catania, our engineer, Adrian Price. His name is Mike Horton, my name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to The Buzz.
Mike Horton: Goodbye, everybody.
Voiceover: This Digital Production Buzz was brought to you by Blackmagic Design, creators of the world’s highest quality solutions for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries.