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Digital Production Buzz — May 29, 2014

  • Weighing In on 4K
  • Delivering 4K Video to the Home
  • New Varicams from Panasonic

GUESTS: Terry Curren, David Foley, and Andy Shipsides

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Join Larry Jordan and co-host Michael Horton as they talk with:

Terry Curren, Founder/President, Alpha Dogs Inc.

Terry Curren, Founder & President of Alpha Dogs weighs in on 4K.

David Foley, Sr. Technologist & Founder, NanoTech

David Foley, is Senior Technologist and Founder of NanoTech, the first company to offer 4K programming via OTT for consumers.

Andy Shipsides, Director of Education, AbelCine

Andy Shipsides, Director of Education at AbelCine has all the info you need on the new Varicams from Panasonic.

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Transcript: Digital Production Buzz – May 22, 2014

Digital Production Buzz

May 22, 2014

[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]


      Click here
to listen to this show.]


Larry Jordan

Michael Horton


Marty Murray, Producer, Kill Game

Michele Yamazaki, VP Marketing, Toolfarm

Josh Apter, Founder & President, Manhattan Edit Workshop


Voiceover: The 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; and by TOLIS Group, the BRU guys, pioneering the development and support of ultra-reliable data backup, archival and restore solutions for nearly 30 years.

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 for creative content producers covering media production, post production, marketing and distribution around the world. My name is Larry Jordan and joining us, our affable and tanned co-host, Mr. Mike Horton.

Mike Horton: And red faced.

Larry Jordan: Yes, but you may…

Mike Horton: I just got down here. Did you know there was, like, an inch of rain out in Palm Dale/Lancaster area and here it’s, like, 80 degrees?

Larry Jordan: I know.

Mike Horton: It’s just like 40 miles away. Isn’t that amazing?

Larry Jordan: Weather continues used to surprise me on a daily basis.

Mike Horton: And it snowed in Big Bear, which is, like, 40 minutes away. It’s incredible, and here it’s, like…

Larry Jordan: 80 degrees and clear skies.

Mike Horton: Well, it’s actually cloudy, but…

Larry Jordan: Can I go on now?

Mike Horton: Yes. Oh yes, we’re doing a show. Yes, tell us what’s on, Larry, will you?

Larry Jordan: We’ve got some great guests. We’re going to start with Marty Murray. He began his career as a stuntman, now he’s a producer and his third film, ‘Kill Game’, is now screening at Con. We talk about the process of producing a killer film with Marty later tonight.

Larry Jordan: Michele Yamazaki is the official plug-in-ologist for Toolfarm. She joins us this week to talk about plug-ins, social media and life in general.

Larry Jordan: And Josh Apter, the inventor of the Padcaster, actually has a day job. He’s the Founder and President of the Manhattan Edit Workshop and next month he’s hosting an event called ‘Sight, Sound and Story’, designed to help editors become better at their craft, and he stops by tonight to explain more about it.

Larry Jordan: Just as a reminder that we’re 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 and thanks, Take 1, for making it possible.

Larry Jordan: Mr. Michael…

Mike Horton: By the way, I think it’s Michele Terpstra now, because she just got married.

Larry Jordan: Really?

Mike Horton: Yes.

Larry Jordan: She did? Well, we’re celebrating the wedding, but we want to…

Mike Horton: That’s right. She got to go to Italy.

Larry Jordan: I was going to ask where she went on her honeymoon.

Mike Horton: Well, if you were on Facebook, like the rest of us in the world, you would have seen all those beautiful pictures of the gelato and all those other foods that they were eating.

Larry Jordan: It is actually because of Facebook that we have Michele coming on the show, because we’re interested in thinking about how social media can help film makers tell the world about their film, or is it just for weddings, Michael?

Mike Horton: Well, I can tell you, it’s really good for vacations.

Larry Jordan: Did you appreciate where she was eating?

Mike Horton: Absolutely.

Larry Jordan: There’s some good looking food.

Mike Horton: Thank you, Michele, for all those food pictures.

Larry Jordan: Thinking of Facebook, the Digital Production Buzz is on Facebook. You can get more information about the show at I am really impressed with the number of people that are joining in the conversation about the show. Patrick Saxon runs the social media for The Buzz and does an outstanding job. If you haven’t had a chance to become a friend, you need to check out what’s happening on Facebook.

Larry Jordan: You can also visit with us on Twitter, @dpbuzz, and Mr. Mike, do you have a Facebook page that you…

Mike Horton: I do. I have the LAFCPUG Facebook page and it actually works. I mean, I don’t do a lot with it other than to spam what I’ve got coming up, which by the way next week, the LAFCPUG meets.

Larry Jordan: What’s the content?

Mike Horton: We’ve got a lot of really good stuff. We’ve got Doug Blush, who’s probably one of the best editors in documentaries, he’s coming; and also we have the kids from USC who shot this short film on Google Glass, entirely on Google Glass.

Larry Jordan: Wow.

Mike Horton: Also fitness in post, because, Larry, you and I sit for 15 hours a day, we might as well stand up and do something to keep our…

Larry Jordan: I exercise once a week, whether I need to or not.

Mike Horton: Well, this is going to tell you how to exercise and edit at the same time. It’s with Zach Arnold; and then ProMax will be there and…

Larry Jordan: It’s going to be a great show.

Mike Horton: Yes, hopefully you will be there as one of the gurus.

Larry Jordan: And we’ll have more on that in a minute.

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 offering EF and ZE compatible lens mounts and records to a super fast SSD drive. Capturing 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 far more.

Larry Jordan: The Blackmagic production camera 4K also features an incredibly tempting price of $2,995. Learn more about the Blackmagic production camera 4K that is definitely priced to move. Visit today. That’s

Larry Jordan: Marty Murray is the Producer at Full Throttle Pictures. He’s also the CEO and the President and he’s the producer of ‘Kill Game’, which is currently screening at the Cannes Film Festival. Marty began his work in movie production in 1997; he’s developed, written and produced a number of films, as well as being a stuntman for more than 100 feature films and television shows. Welcome, Marty, good to have you with us.

Marty Murray: Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

Larry Jordan: You know, I was just thinking that the roles of stuntman and producer have a lot of similar traits – both require calculating risks and careful planning. What got you into stunt work?

Marty Murray: Well, I didn’t have the chops for acting, it was too much pressure.

Larry Jordan: What kind of stunts did you specialize in?

Marty Murray: Fighting, driving, wire work. I’ve been a back-up double and I’ve double people like Tobey Maguire, Steph Khan and a few others, but mainly I get beat up and killed a lot.

Larry Jordan: Wire work is a term I don’t know. What does that mean?

Marty Murray: It’s pretty much the newest way of, when you see someone get shot and they fly backwards or they get hit by a car and you see the bodies flying through the air, it’s all with wires nowadays. There’s no more air rams or explosions that are propelling them, so it’s all on wires.

Larry Jordan: Still looks very realistic.

Marty Murray: Oh yes. You’re being yanked and ratcheted with a lot of force and usually you’re landing somewhere quite hard and on camera, so it’s just another way to hit the ground.

Larry Jordan: You must walk away from films saying, “Why did I ever get into this?”

Marty Murray: Yes, of course. There was one film called ‘Seabiscuit’ and I was doubling Tobey Maguire and I was getting dragged by a horse in a scene for the movie and that was a perfect example of a Chicago kid who does not like horses, no offence and now I do like horses actually. But yes, doing that was a little bit more of a walkaway going, “Why am I doing this? What am I doing?” Yes.

Larry Jordan: It was a fabulous film and I never knew it was you doubling for Tobey Maguire, so you managed to deceive all of us.

Marty Murray: Good.

Larry Jordan: What made you get into producing, then?

Marty Murray: I graduated college and I had more of a business mind. I had my own landscaping business for a couple of years, which helped pay for college, and then I went right into the private sector with an internet company, Visual Properties, for a couple of years and ultimately I was just doing the standard thing – keep the job, get a job, work for the money – and then finally it just caught up with me because I was playing baseball, 12 inch softball, 16 inch softball, flag football, hockey. And I was also doing gymnastics, weight training and boxing and I just realized, one day I saw an article, stunt man for hire auditions, and literally went out to an amusement park and tried out. There were probably a couple of hundred people trying out for four or five spots and I was lucky enough to get one. That was in Six Flags back in ’98. I did that for two or three months, decided this is for me, never went back to my job and moved right out to California.

Larry Jordan: All right, so we’ve now gotten tired of stunt work and your body says it would like to stay in one piece for the long term. How do you shift into producing?

Marty Murray: Well, after a few years of building credentials and learning the stunts, there’s a lot of downtime on the sets and between jobs and healing up and training. So I took a couple of courses at UCLA Extensions, a few online courses about finance and I just wanted to find out how the whole system worked. I didn’t really have a grasp on it, so I started fitting in meetings where the investors would sit, I put myself in a position to find out what they were looking for and I did that. I actually had sold real estate for a year and a half prior to all of this and so I knew that there was a market and I had heard about other investors investing in film.

Marty Murray: So I would just simply get on set, sit behind the camera and talk with the directors, the producers, the ADs – the ADs really are, for me, the brains that are behind the scenes – and I would have to say it was at least 200 different movie sets, just standing around. People recognized that I wanted to do more than just stunts and when I saw what a producer did, with all the headaches, ultimately I found out that I enjoyed the concept of being a producer because you could put people to work and everybody was struggling to make a dollar and I felt that I had a good angle on some good projects and some great, great people and who just wanted to work and make a good penny and get their insurance, and so that’s what propelled me to become a producer, was getting so many people work.

Larry Jordan: Not only did you become a producer, but you’ve got a film screening at Cannes, which most people would kill for. Tell us about ‘Kill Game’.

Marty Murray: Well, ‘Kill Game’ was a story written by Robert Mearns, a first time director. Robert’s from Jersey and very passionate in his vision and he had done shorts in the past and when I read the script, it had a very familiar vibe but quite a different take on it, so what I liked was that it was nothing outside of the box, it doesn’t go somewhere that’s not realistic. It really kept you into a moment of truth and reading the script and talking with Robert, I reached out to an investor that I had worked with before although we weren’t planning on doing anything for another six months, and I said, “I’m sorry, we have to act on this,” and we waived a bunch of our fees and things just to get this thing rolling and he saw my excitement for the project and he went for it, luckily, and ‘Kill Game’ is really an intense thriller. There’s blood and guts and gore and it’s going to make you squirm in your seat, like, “Oh my goodness, that’s not for me,” but it’s a great movie.

Larry Jordan: There’s nothing wrong with the thriller/horror genre, especially for independents. It tends to be a very successful way to make a film. How much time after Robert wrote the story did you spend in development putting the script together and getting ready to shoot?

Marty Murray: Robert and I worked directly together for a month non-stop, every day. Again, he’s very passionate. I’m not going to say he’s long winded, he’s just got a lot of ideas and, like most great directors and writers, you just need to wrangle him in a little, find out the important points of what really is going to make it push forward and then focus on that and build from it. He was great with taking not only criticism but compliments and transitions and how about doing this and that, and if it didn’t work he would stand by it and I appreciate that as well. It was great in that regard.

Larry Jordan: A month of development is an incredibly short period of time. It raises the question of how did you get the funding fast enough?

Marty Murray: Like I said, it’s a relationship I had with my investor. I wouldn’t say anything that I didn’t feel 110 percent confident about and timing was of the essence due to the weather where I wanted to film it, and we were prepping for some other films, actually other projects of mine that we were getting ready to do, so what I did is I just took those locations, changed them within the story and reached out to the area around where we live and went directly to all the locations. There were 36 different locations, for a small movie, and it was quite expensive.

Larry Jordan: 36 locations?

Marty Murray: Yes, 36, from beaches, the water, pools, restaurants, homes, parking lots. Yes, it’s definitely big production value.

Larry Jordan: How much time did you spend shooting?

Marty Murray: It was four weeks and then we had a few days of voiceover afterwards, but yes, a four week shoot, six day week.

Larry Jordan: That means that you were doing multiple locations on the same day.

Marty Murray: We were. There was never a day when we were in one location. There was always a move and, frankly, we had to fix up the locations we lost a day or two before due to permitting and miscommunication. Nothing bad, it was just someone had a block party and we were supposed to be filming at a home, or there was an event that the park district had and, due to the noise we couldn’t film at the baseball diamond, or the school. We went to a high school and the next thing you know, they made a state qualifying meet and they weren’t ready for us, so it’s a part of the producer to be ready with a Plan B and it’s great, it makes it very exciting.

Larry Jordan: One of the reasons that we reached out to you is we got a press release from Blackmagic Design highlighting the fact that you chose to use the Blackmagic Cinema camera for production. Why did you pick that camera?

Marty Murray: Well, I’m working directly with a company called Atomic Imaging. Ari Golan and I work together, he’s a director of photography, he’s worked in live events and television shows for over 25 years. There’s no-one I know that knows more about cameras. I asked him for a test – let me check out your camera – and he put it up against the Alexa, the RED and that one. I could not see the difference. I watched him do the shoot in the same location. Once we sat and he showed me what he was looking at, the Alexa did have a little more vibrancy, it pulled out more textures. I couldn’t make heads or tails of the RED and the Blackmagic personally; and then when Ari owned a couple of them, he was willing to give it a shot, give it a try.

Marty Murray: We spoke to the director of photography, Andy Strahorn, who I had worked with a couple of times in Michigan on movies and Justin Nesbitt, who was the other producer on this reached out. So collaboratively we were going with Jonathan Hall or Andy Strahorn and the two of them were unfamiliar with the Blackmagic camera and until Andy came in and gave it a test the same way we did, the next day Andy called me up, he goes, “I’m on board. I love it. I’m up for the test if you are, Marty.” It was a roll of the dice and one that I am extremely happy with.

Larry Jordan: You said you did a lot of tests. What did you do to test the camera and compare it? What were your criteria and what did you shoot?

Marty Murray: With Ari’s testing, one was on the stage. We did it with controlled lighting and showing details. Basically, he had pictures and paintings on the stage and then he had people zooming in and just locking it off and recording and just trying to get the best clarity he could from each camera; and then he also went outside of this stage and we shot there by the trees and the river, dealing with sunlight, direct light, and then ultimately when we saw how the Blackmagic was transcoded, I don’t want to speak outside of my pay grade, but we went to DaVinci Resolve for the color correction and what it did there, by pulling the sunlight from a scene which is outside, to me it was a bright, bright day. But when he pulled it out and was able to bring down the blacks, the next thing we could see the sky was blue and we could see the clouds and we could see the reflections off the leaves and we could see the water. It was no longer just shiny bright. Then the enhancement of the greens and the tones, that was floored. We did it just as fast as I’m talking about. He did it in front of me, so that’s what sold me.

Larry Jordan: So you shot raw images, then, so you could get the dynamic range?

Marty Murray: We did, absolutely, yes.

Larry Jordan: And then once you got the raw shot, how did you edit it?

Marty Murray: Well, once we brought it in, we went to Final Cut.

Larry Jordan: Which version?

Marty Murray: I think it was 10. No, I’m sorry, I think it was 7. I think the favorite 7, yes, and then the editor was Stephen Murray, who did it in California. As much as I didn’t want to do that because I didn’t know Stephen – I wanted to control it – but I needed to allow Robert Mearns his directing, to sit down with Stephen who he had a relationship with and they edited there in California and every few days they would get back to me with, “We have a question here. Here’s a cut, what do you think?” and I just let them do their thing, let them do the final cut. We’ll take it from there. If there’s anything that jumps out or doesn’t work, we’ll discuss it, but they just sent the hard drive back to us at Ari’s studio and then he downloaded into DaVinci Resolve for the color correction and grading.

Larry Jordan: Was the director involved in the final color grade, or was that your decision?

Marty Murray: Oh no, no, no, he definitely was. Yes, it keeps in with his vision. We would take still after still of the scenes and send them back to Robert. He was extremely passionate about the feeling of each scene, but tying them all together, whether it’s the killer in the moment where he’s actually killing, the tone before, the discussions, and once he laid that out for us – which he did from beginning to end – we were prepared for what he was looking for and Ari would go back and forth with Robert five or six times about one shot and so they all understood the why and the how. Frankly, it gave a nice feel to the picture. The value that we got from the color correction really brings something special that I wasn’t expecting, and it was great.

Larry Jordan: Now, you mentioned that you had 36 locations. What were the shooting conditions like? Was the camera inside the whole time or was it outside? In other words, how much abuse did the camera take?

Marty Murray: I think it was four days of the shoot, we were over 105 degrees. I think we shot in July and August. The humidity was nearly 100 percent in Chicago, but it was extreme and there were 14 days of exteriors, half of which were night. I recall we were glad that there was a lot of night shooting due to the heat, but the cameras held up. In most of the interior locations, the AC was off because of sound, there were no fans, the windows and doors were closed so you wouldn’t hear birds chirping or cars driving by, so even with the interior shot shooting locations, we were in 90 degrees humid, hot, hot, hot.

Larry Jordan: Not only were the characters in the film getting killed, but your actors must have been dying too.

Marty Murray: One of the pieces of advice I was given by one of the grips was, “Our guys are overheating. Are you familiar with Seabreeze?” I’m like, “I am, that’s a great idea.” Well, Seabreeze is a thing where you get an ice chest, you fill it half with ice and water, you drop a bunch of bandanas in there and you pour in a couple Seabreeze and what that does is the guys and girls put them on their heads and around their necks and it helps keep them cool, cools them off, so we were known as the Seabreeze cast because we all smelled like Seabreeze. We smelled good.

Larry Jordan: As you look back on it, every production has lessons that you can take forward to the future, what would you do differently and what did you learn?

Marty Murray: I like the development stage. I would have loved another three weeks. With some of the locations, locking them in with contracts, putting up a deposit and locking them in would have been nicer. Logistically, we would have lost about ten locations. I would have taken some of the driving scenes out. There were a lot of driving scenes, but we were fortunate enough to utilize the green screen at Ari’s studio and we had the cars in there for most of the driving sequences. Actually nearly all of the driving sequences were on stage with green screen because in the evening here, the rain comes out of nowhere, so I would have fixed that.

Marty Murray I would hesitate to shoot on the beach again in summer. We did have a funnel cloud come down with lightning strikes, which took away one of our shooting days completely; and then taking everyone from that hotel and finding them a new hotel in the middle of the day and evening because there was a wedding going on. Yes, I could go on for probably a good half hour about what I would change, but lessons were learned, of course. It was our third picture, so…

Larry Jordan: It sounds like the lessons boiled down into you not only need a Plan B but a Plan C and spending a little bit more time in development is probably a good thing.

Marty Murray: Absolutely correct. But, as they say, when the money’s ready to go, I’m willing to take.

Larry Jordan: Spoken like a true producer. Marty, for people who want to learn more about this film, where can they go on the web?

Marty Murray: They should reach out to our distributor, which is

Larry Jordan: That’s How about your own website?

Marty Murray: We’re at

Larry Jordan: That’s Marty, what are your plans for the film?

Marty Murray: We’re hoping to have a premiere here in Chicago for both of them later in June, but I’m not sleeping until I hear from Andre and Stanley on how it went out there. I heard it went very, very, very well but I’ll leave that to the professionals.

Larry Jordan: Marty Murray is the Producer, the CEO, the President of Full Throttle Pictures and one of the producers of ‘Kill Game’, which is currently screening at the Cannes Film Festival. Marty, it’s been a pleasure chatting. Thank you very much.

Marty Murray: Thank you Larry. Have a good day.

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Larry Jordan: Michele Yamazaki is the VP of Marketing at Toolfarm. She has written or co-written two books on plug-ins, as well as becoming the go to person on plug-ins for all of our editing systems. She’s a regular here on The Buzz as our official plug-in-ologist and she’s currently speaking Italian. Welcome, Michele.

Michele Yamazaki: Hey there, how are you?

Larry Jordan: We are talking to you. Mike has been looking forward to this interview all day.

Mike Horton: Yes, and congratulations on the wedding and congratulations on your beautiful honeymoon in Italy.

Michele Yamazaki: Well, thank you.

Larry Jordan: Where did you go?

Michele Yamazaki: Oh, gosh, where didn’t we go? We started in Rome and went up to Florence or actually Tuscany first for four days, then Florence, Verona, Venice and then down to Naples. We climbed Mount Vesuvius.

Mike Horton: Oh wow.

Michele Yamazaki: It was a busy two weeks. We needed a vacation to recover from our honeymoon.

Mike Horton: That’s what they all say.

Larry Jordan: You are not the first to have mentioned that. So you were out of the office for two weeks?

Michele Yamazaki: Yes I was.

Larry Jordan: How did you stay in touch with work and friends and family?

Michele Yamazaki: Well, I didn’t stay in touch with work too much, just to check my email once in a while, but everything was pretty much taken care of, so that was nice. I was on Facebook quite a bit – we posted tons and tons of photos on Facebook, so people were living vicariously through us.

Larry Jordan: Well, from what Michael was saying just before the show started, eating vicariously…

Mike Horton: There were lots of wonderful food pictures.

Michele Yamazaki: Oh yes. I gained seven pounds, no joke.

Larry Jordan: Unbelievable. Well, one of the things I want to focus on for our conversation, beside the fact that next time you should invite Mike and me to carry your suitcases, be like groupies to go with you through Italy. I want to talk about this social media aspect because it’s something that a lot of people do personally, but I want to look at it from a business point of view as well. When you were shooting pictures, what were you using? A special camera? Just your phone, or what?

Michele Yamazaki: Well, I was using just my phone. I didn’t want to haul anything. I have an iPhone 5S, is that the newest one? I think it is.

Larry Jordan: That’s the current one, yes.

Michele Yamazaki: The current one, yes, and so I used that mainly and what’s nice about that is that I could just upload straight from my phone. My husband, he is a photographer, so he used this fancy camera, his Nikon, and he just transferred the cards over to his laptop, so he was hauling around lenses, a laptop and a hard drive and all different cards and chargers and adapters for the different power outlets, so he had a bunch of gear. I just had a phone.

Larry Jordan: And who was the smart one on that trip, I wonder?

Michele Yamazaki: Well, we have lots of great photos.

Mike Horton: What’s interesting, you posted a lot of iPhone photos instead of all of those beautiful camera shots with those gorgeous lenses that he has.

Michele Yamazaki: Well, he did actually post those on his own account.

Mike Horton: Oh, ok, well I didn’t see those.

Michele Yamazaki: Yes. I bet between the two of us, we probably uploaded about maybe… I probably uploaded about 400 or 500 photos on my own and I bet he had three times that many.

Mike Horton: Wow.

Larry Jordan: Which brings, I think, another question – why has social media become so important to us? And this is going to lead into how businesses can sort of take advantage of it, but what makes social media so useful?

Michele Yamazaki: Well, it connects people right away. We were talking about this. Right now, we don’t have to have a slideshow with all our friends over and explain everything because we’ve done that, it was right at the moment when it happened, and that’s the same for businesses. You can get the word out fast to a huge audience with images and with video and it’s the immediacy of it all, and then people can share it on top of that.

Larry Jordan: When you’re sharing, do you treat a business account the same as a personal account? Clearly, you’re talking about different things, but should you view a business account differently?

Michele Yamazaki: I think you should. With my personal account, I wouldn’t put sales information up. None of my friends would care. Well, a lot of them in the industry might, but my grandmother, she doesn’t care. You have to target things to your audience, so with a business account you would target things like sales and new products and that kind of thing and not just fun stuff all the time.

Larry Jordan: Well, then, let’s shift for such a second. Say you’re a film maker trying to get people to pay attention to your film. How does a film maker use social media effectively?

Michele Yamazaki: First of all, for fundraising. It’s a great tool. It’s a great tool, your Kickstarter or whatever, Indiegogo or whatever you’re using, to get some buzz built up as well. If you’re a film maker and you have film festivals you’re entering, I have a few friends who are doing that circuit and they always post, “Hey, I got into this film festival,” or “Here’s some photos of me at this film festival,” and that kind of thing, so it really allows one to connect personally even though it’s their business, but it’s a personal connection at the same time.

Larry Jordan: If it’s a personal connection, how do you measure success? Clearly, when you’re talking to your friends on your honeymoon, just to get comments back and the oohs and the aahs is wonderful, but a business needs to be a bit more empirical, doesn’t it?

Michele Yamazaki: I think so. There are all sorts of different tools that you can use to view your statistics and rankings and how many people are clicking and that kind of thing.  But your stats, basically – how many people are seeing that and how many people are interested in what you’re doing – and so you can kind of tailor your posting to what’s getting the most clicks and what’s getting the most attention and a lot of times, it’s just wording.

Larry Jordan: Does Toolfarm use social media?

Michele Yamazaki: We do, quite a bit.

Larry Jordan: Who runs it? Is it you or your department?

Michele Yamazaki: Yes, Alicia who works with me, who I believe you met at NAB, she does most of the social media. She handles doing the targeted ads and that sort of thing for Facebook and Twitter and I’ll post things quite often, though, news items and new tutorial links and that kind of thing, so it’s kind of a team effort, but she handles the marketing aspect of it.

Larry Jordan: I guess what I’m trying to figure out is how do you measure success? Is it just pure numbers? Or is it the type of audience you’re reaching? What criteria should we use to say, “Hey, this effort is working,” or “Maybe we need to change what we’re doing”?

Michele Yamazaki: I think it’s kind of a combination of things. She does reports every couple of months and you can see where traffic is coming in and if the ads are working, if you’re getting traffic in sales through those links. So it’s a lot of work, actually, to really go through and compile that information and break it down, because there’s just so much information. You can hire people to do that as well, but Alicia handles it all on her own. I don’t know if that answered the question or not.

Larry Jordan: I think really using the analytics, but what I’m not hearing…

Michele Yamazaki: Analytics! That’s the word I was looking for.

Larry Jordan: What I’m not hearing is you should judge your results simply on the numbers, you should judge your results on something else.

Michele Yamazaki: No, I don’t believe you should because quite often, we went through a phase for a while, for some reason we were getting tons and tons of likes and traffic from South Korea. It was so strange. Our customer base, we do have plenty of customers in South Korea, but the average was probably 90 percent South Koreans who were liking our content, which was really weird. It was a complete imbalance. I think that, you know, it was great that we were getting likes and all that, but I don’t think that they were real. I think that they may have been spammers and that kind of thing. I don’t know what they would have gained from that.

Mike Horton: Yes, that’s always the difficult thing, as to who is real and who are robots?

Michele Yamazaki: Yes, exactly.

Mike Horton: And I’m sure there’s a tool out there to do that, but reading the analytics is such a boring thing anyway.

Michele Yamazaki: Really, it is.

Larry Jordan: It’s not as boring as codecs though.

Mike Horton: But I think you can tell that things are working if you actually post something and you get a result from that post, even if it’s something like my meeting that’s coming up next week. I post it. Two minutes later, a registration comes in. There you know, right there.

Michele Yamazaki: Absolutely.

Mike Horton: Immediately. It’s all immediate. I love the internet.

Larry Jordan: In the little bit of time we’ve got left, I know you’ve been out of the office and really not caring about work at all for weeks now, probably months, but is there anything new on Toolfarm, anything popular, anything we should pay attention to?

Michele Yamazaki: There are a few new things. Video Co-Pilot released a bunch of sound effects – it’s called Motion Pole – and it is 2,000 sound effects and they’re made specifically for special effects and movie trailers and motion design, that sort of thing. It’s not going to be screams and footsteps and that kind of thing, it’s whooshes and hits and that kind of thing that can be really used for motion graphics.

Larry Jordan: Oh yes, whooshes are incredible. You can’t do motion graphics without whooshes.

Michele Yamazaki: Yes, you can’t.

Larry Jordan: I know.

Mike Horton: Video Co-Pilot stuff is brilliant, though. It is absolutely brilliant.

Michele Yamazaki: It is. Everything they put out is gold. There are five different packs and they’re at 49.99 each or you can buy the bundle for 150.

Larry Jordan: And, Michele, where can people go on the web to figure out where all this stuff is?

Michele Yamazaki:

Larry Jordan: That’s Michele Yamazaki is the plug-in-ologist and VP of Marketing…

Mike Horton: Michele Terpstra.

Larry Jordan: …who does not care about work at all at the moment.

Michele Yamazaki: I do, I do care.

Mike Horton: We’ll get that last name right here next time we have you on.

Larry Jordan: Thanks, Michele.

Michele Yamazaki: Well, actually, I’m keeping Yamazaki professionally.

Mike Horton: Oh, you are? Ok, good.

Larry Jordan: See? That’s because we can pronounce it.

Mike Horton: Oh, that’s true. I can’t pronounce the other one.

Larry Jordan: Michele, we’ll talk to you soon.

Michele Yamazaki: All right, thank you.

Larry Jordan: Bye bye.

Larry Jordan: Josh Apter is the Founder and President of Manhattan Edit Workshop, a training company in New York City called MEW. Well, at least some of us call it that. Anyway, MEW is hosting an event for editors next month called ‘Sight, Sound and Story’, which we want to learn more about because otherwise we’d have to talk about Padcaster. Hello, Josh, good to have you with us.

Josh Apter: Hey, how you doing? I was just looking at Michele’s website. Pretty impressive stuff, guys, really. We should talk about me, I guess, but I was sort of struck by how impressive she was.

Mike Horton: Yes, she’s really good.

Larry Jordan: Yes she is.

Mike Horton: And she also gives good demo. If you ever want to have her in New York, she gives really good demo and good plug-ins and stuff. Oh, by the way, Josh, I saw you last night on television, like, three times.

Josh Apter: As my co-worker said, “Get out of my house.”

Mike Horton: Exactly.

Larry Jordan: What were you doing on television?

Mike Horton: He was on ‘American Idol’, I think it was. They played that commercial three times. I think it was ‘American Idol’.

Josh Apter: Oh my God.

Mike Horton: Yes.

Josh Apter: Yes? That’s funny. Well… and then I think it was on one of these other shows, I don’t know. I wish I had time to watch television.

Mike Horton: Yes, but what’s important is that they were nationally broadcast, so you get the big bucks residuals for those ones. We’re not talking the cable stuff, you know, that’s the stuff you get every 13 weeks.

Larry Jordan: Residuals?

Josh Apter: Yes.

Mike Horton: Yes, the residuals.

Josh Apter: Exactly.

Larry Jordan: Wow.

Josh Apter: Somehow, I actually owe those guys money. I don’t know how it worked out that way but I’m in the hole.

Larry Jordan: Ah, well, that’s the Hollywood business model.

Mike Horton: I think you ought to call SAG because it doesn’t work that way.

Josh Apter: I wish I understood how it worked, I’d be a wealthy guy. How are you guys doing?

Mike Horton: Good.

Larry Jordan: We’re going good. You know, I was just reflecting, look back at our database, the last three times that we’ve talked, we were looking at the Padcaster, but I realized you actually have a day job, which is the Manhattan Edit Workshop, so tell us what MEW does.

Josh Apter: Oh, we do all sorts of things.

Larry Jordan: Oh yes, yes, you don’t brew coffee and fix soup.

Josh Apter: You know what? Funnily enough, we brew the best coffee in New York state. I’m very, very proud. We have a giant percolator. We probably make 40 cups a day. By the end of the day, it’s sort of this thick murky reduction and it definitely will put hair on your elbows.

Mike Horton: Now, I can’t tell you how important that is to the morale of all your employees, really good coffee.

Larry Jordan: What, hair on your elbows? I don’t think so.

Josh Apter: Well, we have places where we can get waxing and laser treatments for that anyway.

Mike Horton: Happy hour at five, like, Autodesk in Los Angeles, they have happy hour at five. That’s a great place to work.

Larry Jordan: That’s when Mike would show up to work. Before we get completely off track on caffeine, what does the Manhattan Edit Workshop do?

Josh Apter: Well, we are an Apple, Avid, Adobe, Autodesk, Assimilate and Blackmagic authorized training center in New York. We train more stuff than I understand how to use any more – I used to know everything we train and now I’m sort of trying to slowly catch up with some of the programs we teach. We got started as a place where you could learn the art and technique of film editing just as an Apple authorized training center and it’s sort of blossomed into Avid, Adobe and all of the other programs and now we’re in production training.

Josh Apter: So we do digital cinema boot camps and teach people about changeable lens camera systems and we’re going to go into lighting and sound. It never ends, but it means that we have to stay on top of things and we have to be learning ourselves and it keeps us sharp.

Mike Horton: Do you ever have time to take your own classes?

Josh Apter: I wish. Here’s the most basic thing, is I can’t sit in on an After Effects class. That’s one of the saddest things about my job, is that I’ve been wanting to learn how to do that for probably 15 years. Now I can sit in on any class and I just, you know, I probably could now, actually, I complain, but I don’t think anybody would miss me if I took off for a couple of days. The place would run better.

Larry Jordan: We won’t go there. We’re just going to let that comment lie and move on. What are the hot topics in training right now? Because I’m seeing a shift, at least over here, in what people want to learn. What’s hot over in New York?

Josh Apter: Well, we just did an assistant editor class. You never know how successful a class is going to be until you’ve put it out there and start seeing the numbers come in, but we did a workshop in just specific disciplines for assistant editors and found that to be a very popular class. We also recently switched our signature six week course with Final Cut 7, 10, Avid and After Effects and we pulled 7 and put Adobe Premiere in as the first thing, it’s the first week of the course now is Adobe Premiere for that one.

Josh Apter: I think the writing is really on the wall and you’ve got to know these things now. I don’t think you can get by saying, “Well, I’m an Avid only editor here. I don’t really understand the other programs,” and that’s been a pretty major change to us, saying goodbye to our old friend Final Cut 7 and ushering in really a new era of how people do this work. It was pretty amazing.

Mike Horton: Just curious, is there any demand for Final Cut Pro 10 classes?

Josh Apter: Sure. Oh, there’s definitely a demand for that and the thing is the students love 10. It used to be when someone would come into a class with some Final Cut 7 background or they’re working it in school or what have you, they would come in and really not like Final Cut 10 at all, they just didn’t appreciate the interface and felt like it was too much like iMovie. The students coming in now that don’t really know, they really get it. It’s very intuitive and easy to use, so that problem has disappeared and we get plenty of standalone classes.

Mike Horton: It’s interesting, I just don’t see a lot of demand here in Los Angeles and so it’s surprising. That’s really cool though.

Josh Apter: Yes, you know, Radical Media just put up, like, 50 network seats of Final Cut 10 in their New York shop and they’re cutting some giant documentary in it and I think more people have sort of proven that it can perform at that professional level and do it fast. It will take time. Final Cut 1, you know, that took time too, but I think it’ll just be another tool in the toolbox for people. But yes, like Avid, it’s been there, it will continue to be there. A lot of work in New York is Avid based so…

Mike Horton: Yes, I’m seeing a lot of demand for Avid classes here, which is interesting.

Larry Jordan: One of the things that you also do in addition to the formal training is you’ve got events going on and the reason I mention that is you’ve got the upcoming ‘Sight, Sound and Story’. What’s that about?

Mike Horton: Yes, what a killer event. What a killer line-up.

Josh Apter: Yes, that was like, you know, we sort of said, “Let’s go for broke here and really see what we can get,” and we were lucky enough to have Michael Kahn as our headlining panelist.

Mike Horton: How the hell did you get him? I mean, he doesn’t do these kinds of things hardly ever.

Josh Apter: Yes, exactly, he doesn’t do speaking engagements that often. I think also Bobbie O’Steen is a very well liked, respected film historian and author and she can put in the time and do the research and I think if you look at her track record, and I’m sure Michael said, “Oh, who’s Bobbie O’Steen,” and the first thing you see is that she’s talked to many, many editors and they keep coming back, so she’s obviously doing something right, and I think that having the two of them together is a great fit, but I don’t know. Maybe he also wanted to come to New York for the weekend and catch a show.

Mike Horton: Yes, that’s awesome. That’s a huge coup.

Larry Jordan: Wait a minute, you’ve got more than one Oscar winner on the panel. I mean, who all do you have coming?

Josh Apter: Right, well, the sound design team from ‘Wolf of Wall Street’. I think there are a bunch of Academy Awards peppered in that group also, so those guys came last year to talk about ‘Life of Pi’, so I know what the audience is in for and I know the scenes they’re going to talk about from ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ and if you’ve seen the movie, there are a couple of doozies in there that should be really nice. It’s a great, hard working, well respected group. I think one of the things we decided to see if we could do something interesting, we had gone to an FEG panel, HBO and we heard these guys from 24/7 speak about the work they do and we all looked at each other and said, “We’ve got to have these people.” The quality of work they produce in the time that they’re given is astonishing.

Josh Apter: So then they pop up; and then, because TV is really coming into its own with this… everyone’s talking about it, it’s like the new independent film and it’s really where people are going to see this high quality content now, that big movies are under so much pressure to make their budgets and they see a lot of, I don’t know, comic book content and sequals and things, like, this is really where people can tell interesting stories that are maybe on the human interest side and so we happened to get ‘True Detective’ and ‘30 Rock’ and ‘Mad Men’ and ‘House of Cards’ represented on this panel. I think people are going to go bonkers when they start hearing what goes into making these shows.

Mike Horton: I’ve got to tell you what’s got me more excited, well, not more than Michael Kahn, you can’t get more excited than that, but it’s the cutting sports television, which is filled with drama. It’s just filled with wonderful stories and nobody does that and you guys have come up with that wonderful panel of these brilliant creative people and, oh my gosh, I wish I could be there.

Josh Apter: Yes, so it’s a terrific group. We’ve seen some of them speak. We thought maybe we would break out and try to do a 30 for 30 and 24/7 panel, but there were just too many numbers. It was one or the other.

Mike Horton: Good title, yes.

Josh Apter: Yes. We’ll get them soon enough. Actually, the guys that we wanted weren’t available, so we will get them but, yes, it’s a nice thing. Not that many people necessarily know about it. We know we’re going to do a documentary panel because we love non-fiction so much, it’s kind of a New York thing, we feel, so that’s always represented but, you know, we did TransMedia last year and we said, “What can we throw into the mix that people might not get the chance to see every day?”

Mike Horton: Well, this is one of them. This is an amazing day that you have set up here. I hope you can sit in on it, Josh.

Josh Apter: Well, what I do is I get to MC and then hopefully I get to sit on the stairs in the front and watch this myself.

Mike Horton: Good.

Larry Jordan: Is it sold out or can people still get tickets?

Josh Apter: People can still get tickets. When we opened the doors for tickets, it was early on and what we found from previous years is that it starts to go like gangbusters right after Memorial Day, so we’ve definitely sold a chunk of them but we’re looking to fill the house.

Mike Horton: Yes, and it’s only $89 for the entire day and night and it’s ridiculously cheap.

Josh Apter: Well, actually, for you guys it’s actually cheaper because we created a couple of promo codes that I emailed to Cirina…

Larry Jordan: Ah, you wouldn’t happen to share those, would you?

Josh Apter: Yes, well, they’re direct links that you can probably post so that you can just apply the code, but if you put in SFSJORDAN, you get 30 bucks off and if you put in SFS_CPUGNETWORK, I think is what it, or CPUGNET is what I want to say, I don’t know. We did this with BERUBI. Maybe you know, Mike, what the heck we called it.

Mike Horton: I don’t know.

Josh Apter: You can look them up. It’s CPUGNET, is the one for user group people, but SFSJORDAN’s the same discount, so you could just pretend that that’s your discount code.

Mike Horton: Well, it’s insanely cheap for what you’re going to get out of this.

Larry Jordan: What we will do is we will include that in tomorrow’s Buzz newsletter that goes out, so if you haven’t subscribed to the newsletter, do that and you’ll get the codes. Josh, we’ll also post that to our social media, so we’ll get the word out for you as well.

Josh Apter: I should add the only caveat is if you’ve already bought your ticket full price, don’t ask for a discount.

Mike Horton: Yes, exactly. It’s silly, you’re getting such a good deal anyway.

Josh Apter: Right. Well, the party itself is worth the price of admission, because you’re hanging out with all the editors who are going to be on the panels and you can talk to them. We’re doing a live stream with Art of the Guillotine, so we’ll have a table set up there where we’re going to do interviews at a little station in the party and then go live to Padcasters via wifi on the floor of the show, so…

Marty Murray: Oh, cool.

Josh Apter: Yes, we’re going to do a couple of backflips with this one. Like I said, we’re going to go crazy and it’s either going to be the most insane show we’ve ever done or people are going to say, “Wow, I can’t believe they tried to do that.”

Mike Horton: I wish you best of luck with the bandwidth.

Larry Jordan: Succeed or die on your sword.

Mike Horton: I don’t know if you’ve ever done those live stream things. They’re just a bitch.

Josh Apter: They are very hard. We’re doing one, actually, at Cine Gear. We’re actually going to take an HDMI out of an iPad and Padcaster set-up to sort of like a, I don’t know what the thing is, like a Terrablock, is that what those are called?

Larry Jordan: Yes.

Josh Apter: So we’re going to send a more robust signal than we might at the ‘Sight, Sound, Story’ show or we might replicate what we’re doing at Cine Gear at the show.

Mike Horton: Are you coming out to Cine Gear?

Josh Apter: I am on a mercenary mission to Cine Gear. I’m showing up Friday at noon and I’m leaving on a red eye Saturday night.

Mike Horton: Ok, well, then I’ll see you there on Saturday.

Josh Apter: Cool, yes. I’m going to be there right around, maybe if you want to talk I can do an interview with you…

Mike Horton: Oh hell, no. Oh no, no, no. No, no, no.

Larry Jordan: No, no, no. Mike doesn’t do interviews.

Mike Horton: If it’s live stream, I don’t do interviews because it’ll break up, it’ll be pixilated, it won’t work.

Josh Apter: Your NAB interview was phenomenal.

Larry Jordan: I don’t know how we managed to make it so good, but we didn’t do it on site, we did it off site, so we schlepped the tapes around.

Mike Horton: Oh, live streaming is, you know, I still think it’s five years down the line. It’s just do hard.

Josh Apter: Yes. Yes, it is. Once Skype comes out with a professional version, I think it’ll be an easier thing to do on an iPad, but right now it’s very primitive.

Mike Horton: Yes, it’s very primitive.

Larry Jordan: What would you want people to get out of this ‘Sight, Sound and Story?’ What’s your goal in getting all these people together?

Josh Apter: Well, I think the first idea is to celebrate part of the storytelling process that people don’t have too much insight into, just because people feel like these shows and these movies drop out of the sky perfectly edited.

Larry Jordan: Oh, they’re shot that way, Josh, you know? They’re shot.

Josh Apter: Yes, it’s shot in camera.

Mike Horton: It’s all in camera. It’s all green screen.

Josh Apter: No, you know, that’s one of the, and a lot of the people who come are experienced editors themselves, so they really know, but it’s also a way to hang out with your friends and talk about the business and network with people and you always learn something about how something went together or a story about what backflips they needed to do to make this piece work. It’s all those inside stories and really looking at the effort and the love and the passion that goes into telling stories from the people who don’t often get the recognition that I think they deserve. That’s really what hopefully the takeaway is from…

Mike Horton: Yes, that’s the cool thing. Looking at your past events, you do bring on a lot of people who do this mysterious craft that nobody really understands and then people look at their credits and go, “How the hell did you get them?” “Well, I asked them,” because they never do get asked to do these sorts of things and it’s good that you give them a chance to be in the limelight there for just a few minutes.

Josh Apter: Yes, exactly, and as we sort of go and broaden the show into different disciplines, we’re going to be talking to cinematographers and producers and this whole thing is going to be evolving to bring everybody into the show.

Mike Horton: Yes, bring art directors. Art directors are the coolest people ever.

Josh Apter: Production design, art directors, I know, and you would never know and then production design gets a credit before the editor and people have no concept of what they do.

Mike Horton: I wish I lived in New York, but then I can’t afford it.

Larry Jordan: You could fly out, Michael. You could make a guest appearance.

Mike Horton: Los Angeles is expensive enough. New York is insane. It’s insane.

Josh Apter: Well, if you get yourself out here, Mike, I’ll find you a place to stay, a free place on the bowery…

Mike Horton: On the bowery.

Larry Jordan: I’ve seen places like that, Josh. We would never get Mike back again. Where can people go on the web to learn more about this event and to register?

Josh Apter: The site is You don’t even need a www, that’s how serious…

Mike Horton: That’s right, yes, exactly.

Larry Jordan: So it’s and is it totally produced by Manhattan Edit Workshop, or are you co-producing it with somebody else?

Josh Apter: No, it’s totally produced by us. This is sort of an evolution of the event that we co-produced with… series when they were in New York and we loved doing it so much that we kept on building on it and Ace does their show in LA every summer and they actually take the show and they’re doing a show in London and, I believe, in Toronto, maybe in the fall. So this is our own thing. If everyone’s going to be looking at me if it doesn’t come off.

Larry Jordan: It’ll be great.

Mike Horton: If you live in New York City, you’re insane if you don’t go to this. It’s June 14th.

Larry Jordan: And Josh, where can people go to learn about training from the Workshop?

Josh Apter: They can go to

Larry Jordan: And Mike is absolutely correct, you can’t afford to miss this event. What’s the date, quickly?

Josh Apter: June 14th 2014, from 10.30am until question mark. It’s going to be a big day.

Larry Jordan: Josh Apter is the Founder and President of Manhattan Edit Workshop and the Producer of ‘Sight, Sound and Story’. Josh, thanks for joining us today.

Josh Apter: Thanks as always.

Mike Horton: Thanks, Josh. I’ll see you at Cine Gear.

Larry Jordan: Bye bye.

Josh Apter: All right, see you.

Larry Jordan: You know, Michael, that’s such a cool idea, the ‘Sight, Sound and Story’, to be able to get those kind of people together.

Mike Horton: I know, we should do something like that in Los Angeles, although AC does that in August. Not like this. I mean, this is a whole different, well, it is kind of like this, but it’s different.

Larry Jordan: Well, you know, you could do a Supermeet of editors, rather than focusing on…

Mike Horton: No, I mean, there are too many events in Los Angeles. That’s why we never do a Supermeet in Los Angeles, because there are always too many events. But something like this, which is just a panel of really unique types of editors and disciplines, like sports television, like documentaries, like a Michael Kahn, and it’s 12 hours of these brilliant people and what you can learn and what you can get, my goodness. It’s a great thing, all in one day. For $89 or $69 with the code. Come on.

Larry Jordan: No, $59.

Mike Horton: 59?

Larry Jordan: Yes, 59.

Mike Horton: Well, there goes my hearing. That’s 30 bucks, that’s ridiculous. It’s insane.

Larry Jordan: You could buy a plane ticket and go, Michael.

Mike Horton: Actually, I’m going to be in New York, but I’m going to be there on the 15th.

Larry Jordan: Oh! Wrong.

Mike Horton: I know, it’s terrible.

Larry Jordan: You know, it was also interesting talking with Marty Murray at the beginning, the guy that did ‘Kill Game’, and listening to what he would like to do differently. It was his third film and he said what he’d like was just a couple more weeks of development and a couple more fallback plans when things fall apart.

Mike Horton: If I were to ask you that same question when you were doing live television, for instance, back in the east, wouldn’t you have that same kind of answer?

Larry Jordan: Yes.

Mike Horton: “I would love to have done things differently,” because you’ve got to learn. You learn from all your mistakes and all the hassles and all the problems.

Larry Jordan: And you make it better.

Mike Horton: And you make it better.

Larry Jordan: And hopefully you survive the first time to improve it.

Mike Horton: Yes, that’s the big thing.

Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests today: Marty Murray, the Founder of Full Throttle Films; Michele Yamazaki, who is going with Michele Yamazaki, Michael, just so you know.

Mike Horton: Yes, I screwed up, I’m sorry. Michele Yamazaki, you are forever Michele Yamazaki.

Larry Jordan: She’s the official plug-in-ologist and VP of Marketing for Toolfarm; Josh Apter, the inventor of the Padcaster and Founder and President of Manhattan Edit Workshop and ‘Sight, Sound and Story’.

Larry Jordan: There’s a lot happening at The Buzz between shows and it’s all posted to our website, Visit with us on Twitter, @dpbuzz, and Facebook, at

Larry Jordan: Music provided by SmartSound, streaming by, transcripts by Take 1 Transcription. Our producer is Cirina Catania, our ever affable co-host, Mr. Mike Horton, engineer Adrian Price. My name’s Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to The Buzz.

Voiceover: The 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; and by TOLIS Group, the BRU guys, pioneering the development and support of ultra reliable data backup, archival and restore solutions for nearly 30 years.

Digital Production Buzz — May 22, 2014

  • Shooting “Kill Game” on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera
  • New Plug-ins From a Pluginologist
  • “Sight, Sound & Story” Workshop for Editors

GUESTS: Marty Murray, Michele Yamazaki, and Josh Apter

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Join Larry Jordan and co-host Michael Horton as they talk with:

Marty Murray, Producer, Kill Game

Marty Murray, is the producer of “Kill Game,” currently screening at Cannes. We talk with him this week about why he decided to shoot his feature using the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and how the images were handled during post-production.

Michele Yamazaki, VP Marketing, Toolfarm

Michele Yamazaki, is the official Pluginologist for Toolfarm, and joins us this week with her picks on cool new plug-ins and the power of social media to promote them.

Josh Apter, Founder & President, Manhattan Edit Workshop

Josh Apter, is the Founder and President of Manhattan Edit Workshops and is prepping for their “Sight, Sound & Story” event with some of our industry’s most prominent editors. Josh joins us this week to tell us more about it.

The Buzz is all the information you need now to know what’s coming next!

The Digital Production BuZZ airs LIVE Thursday from 6-7 PM Pacific Daylight Time. Ask questions during the show on our Live Chat, listen live, download an episode from the archives, or subscribe to the podcast either through iTunes or our website. Whatever you do, DON’T miss this week’s show!

Transcript: Digital Production Buzz – May 15, 2014

Digital Production Buzz

May 15, 2014

[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]


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Larry Jordan

Michael Horton


David Newman, Sr. Director, Software Engineering, GoPro

Jonathan Handel, Entertainment/Technology Attorney & Labor Reporter, TroyGould and The Hollywood Reporter

Brian Drewes, Co-Founder, ZEROvfx

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 for creative content producers covering media production, post production, marketing and distribution all around the world. My name is Larry Jordan and joining us is our co-host, the ever handsome, the affable, the well rested and a much better Mr. Mike Horton.

Mike Horton: And the always sweating. My goodness, it’s hot here. It’s just so hot.

Larry Jordan: It is a very warm Los Angeles. It’s hit, what, 102 degrees today.

Mike Horton: It was 102 in Chatsworth, that’s for sure.

Larry Jordan: And it’s at least 125 here in the studio.

Mike Horton: Exactly.

Larry Jordan: We have got to get the air conditioning working, that’s all there is to it. Sitting round with all these old washing machines, they don’t care, but we do.

Mike Horton: Well, they’re taking up all the electricity.

Larry Jordan: Yes, well, that’s true, that’s true. The air conditioner is laboring to keep up with the hot water.

Mike Horton: That’s right, yes.

Larry Jordan: We’ve got a great group of guests tonight.

Mike Horton: Yes.

Larry Jordan: We are going to start with David Neman, the Senior Director of Software Engineering at GoPro. GoPro cameras are everywhere these days, but integrating their footage into a professional edit is often a challenge. Recently, GoPro announced new software and codecs to make this easier, which David will discuss tonight.

Larry Jordan: Hollywood is even more preoccupied with fights and the potential for fights than usual this week, from class action lawsuits covering unpaid interns at Fox to the Musicians’ Union and the Writers’ Guild. Jonathan Handel, the Entertainment Labor Reporter for The Hollywood Reporter joins us tonight to bring us up to speed on all the latest fisticuffs.

Larry Jordan: And Brian Drewes is the Co-Founder of ZEROvfx, a Boston based visual effects company that continues to succeed in a very difficult business climate. Brian returns to explain the secrets of their success.

Larry Jordan: 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. Learn more at and thanks, Take 1, for making these transcripts possible.

Larry Jordan: Mr. Michael…

Mike Horton: Mhmm?

Larry Jordan: …I can tell by looking at you that you are just a bundle of energy in all this heat. What are you working on these days?

Mike Horton: Um…

Larry Jordan: It’s that bad, huh?

Mike Horton: Nothing. Working on the next LAFCPUG meet. Working on the Amsterdam Supermeet. Working on the Tokyo Supermeet. Working on all the webinars… Movieola. Working on The Digital Production Buzz. I have 12 jobs.

Larry Jordan: And a couple of them should start paying money one of these days, don’t you think?

Mike Horton: Yes, one of these days it’s going to pay off.

Larry Jordan: Well, it is wonderful to see you back. We missed you last week, because…

Mike Horton: Yes I did, because I had a tooth problem.

Larry Jordan: Yes, and is it all well better now?

Mike Horton: No. Yes and no. I’m taking lots of Advil.

Larry Jordan: One of the things I really like about Michael is he soldiers on through the pain. There’s just nobody that really, no-one deals with pain the way that Mike does.

Mike Horton: Well, just take a couple of Advil and I’m happy, and I’m so happy right now.

Larry Jordan: You’re feeling…

Mike Horton: Hey, should we say something about the Avid thing really quick?

Larry Jordan: Oh yes. By the way, they announced something new. What is it?

Mike Horton: Yes, it’s a subscription model now, well, you have your choice – subscription model or you can buy it. It’s $49 a month. If you need it, you pay 49 bucks a month and you stop paying for it if you don’t need it. But what’s really cool, if you own it right now, you can lock it in for $299 for another couple of years or pay $39 per month, so it’s actually a heck of a good deal. Go to

Larry Jordan: It’s part of their Avid Everywhere. By the way, did you hear the news about Adobe? Their VIP site is down.

Mike Horton: It’s been down for, what, 18, 19 hours now?

Larry Jordan: Yes, almost.

Mike Horton: That’s not good.

Larry Jordan: No, it’s very not good because people who want to access the cloud for their software can’t do it. If you’ve downloaded it, it’ll work; but if you need to register, you can’t.

Mike Horton: And all those people saying, “I don’t trust the cloud. I don’t trust the cloud,” like Larry.

Larry Jordan: We’ll be back with David Newman after this.

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Larry Jordan: Mike and I are playing with my headset volume and my eardrum’s now into the next county.

Mike Horton: You told me to do it that way. I just do what you tell me to do.

Larry Jordan: David Newman is the Senior Director of Software Engineering at GoPro. He recently moved from managing the software applications teams to working within the camera teams advanced technology group. Sounds really impressive. Welcome, David, it’s good to have you back.

David Newman: Oh, thank you, Larry and Mike also, thanks.

Larry Jordan: We are glad to have you with us because we’ve got about 800,000 GoPro questions for you.

Mike Horton: For the 800,000 users. Well, more than that.

Larry Jordan: Before we start, what does a Senior Director of Software Engineering at GoPro actually do?

David Newman: Well, my responsibility was for both mobile and desktop teams, so I had people who were in charge of doing the applications on the IOS and Android devices, that’s the GoPro app, and I had people working on GoPro Studio, which is a free editing utility that we offer to all our customers – both of those utilities are free – and as a Senior Director I get to specify the types of technology that I’m going to use and really engage both outwards with customer licensing, I would bring technologies into our suite of tools, so I had a lot of responsibilities for both outward facing and inward technology selection. A lot of fun.

David Newman: Now, as you said in your introduction, I’m moving that, sort of thinking about which software technologies to advance, sort of like image processing algorithms, and how to move that into the camera team so that when we are designing cameras, we are really staying in the forefront of what will happen in post so we can design a camera that really works well with the new things that people will be doing when they’re doing image development, color corrections and so on.

Larry Jordan: There are two minds about that, so we’ll just jump right in. Wouldn’t you want to have the camera shoot the correct color to begin with? And, number two, if the camera is set to do a specific thing, how much do you want to do in camera, where you can’t change it later, versus how much do you want to do in post, when you can always change your mind? Answer whichever one of those you want to tackle first.

David Newman: Well, it ends up being a user dependent choice. Sometimes you don’t want the camera to be making selections for you because you know you’re going to color correct. This is the more the coradiant users, the user who’s shooting for episodic television, who is shooting for feature work. They’re going to go into the ProTune menu and say, “I want flat, I want fixed white color, I want to control how much sampling’s going on, I want to control the ISO on the camera.”

David Newman: All of those are part of the new ProTune 2.0 feature that was rolled out for Hero 3+ only about six weeks ago, so it’s a firmware update. But there are also professionals who want a corrected color, they want white elements to track what’s happening in the world, and we now… allow you to say what parts of the image are developed and what parts aren’t. So you can say, “I just want GoPro color, I want it to be saturated,” and that makes more sense for your broadcast customers.

David Newman: Of course, our mask cine market will probably not turn ProTune on because they all want the more friendly bit rates. The lower bit rates are faster to play back, faster to transfer from the camera and so on. Whereas ProTune turns the bit rates right up to the maximum the camera can do so that we give the highest possible quality experience to a professional. So you can be in two minds. Sometimes you will want to shoot where it comes out just tanned and beautiful from the camera; and other times you’ll want it as flat and as raw as we could possibly make on the side of the camera.

Larry Jordan: One of the things that I’ve been hearing a lot in my email recently is that working with GoPro footage, especially in a professional editing environment, is more difficult than people expect. What do people need to know to work with GoPro footage successfully, whether it’s taking out the fisheye effect or converting it into a format that gives us greater color space? Is there something special we need to do to work with GoPro footage?

David Newman: I think some of that is a little bit legacy information. It used to be a lot harder and a good example is that with the advent of Hero 3 and Hero 3+, we added timecode, but if you haven’t upgraded your Aniline, you may not experience that timecode, they think, “Oh, GoPro doesn’t have timecode.” Well, it does and the thing works with Premiere CS6 and CC, it works with Media Composer 7, it works with Timecode X. All of those will read the timecode from GoPro. But if you’re on an older version, you haven’t upgraded the tool you’re on, Media Composer 6 or 6.5, you may not see the timecode and you’ll find that you have more difficulty.

David Newman: Now, unfortunately we can’t backward upgrade those capabilities. Adding timecode into an MP4 is a very new thing and not all the tools are expecting that. We do use a standard QuickTime timecode track. It is time of day, so you set the clock and, in fact, if you used the GoPro app, it actively sets the clock so you can use your Smartphone as effectively being your reference source for clock. So now your timecode will roll from that set-in time, so it greatly reduces the time on productions when you’re dealing with multiple GoPro cameras, as well as mixing with other cameras, to be able to look up material based on timecode.

David Newman: The first thing there is sometimes if you feel there is no timecode, have a look at the toolset that you’re using and make sure that you’ve got the tools that can support a timecode track within an MP4. The other areas you mentioned, things like, how much of the lens curvature there is? The GoPro shoots really wide images and this is more of a set-up DIT issue, or even a cinematography issue. Yes, it’s great having cameras placed everywhere on sets and being able to get those angles.

David Newman: You still should plan for each of those shots, because if you just set the camera in its default mode and shoot this 120 degree horizontal field of view – very, very wide – that will have a curvature associated with it. It will have some of what people call fisheye. The GoPro lens is strictly not a fisheye lens, because a fisheye will have way more curvature and, in fact, the GoPro lens curvature is designed to have a certain aesthetic, to have a certain capability of depicting a wide image without it having the streamed, bubbly nature of a fisheye which makes people’s faces very round in the middle and with the edges really crushing in.

David Newman: We worked on a balance and it’s halfway between fisheye and rectilinear. But if you were to rectilinear converse, streaming a wide image, now your edges are stretched, correct stretched, but it’s wider than what you experience with any other camera, so it sometimes doesn’t look correct. I’ve seen GoPro content used in episodic television and so on; often leave the curvature on because it actually makes that wide image look more natural.

David Newman: But if you want it to inter-cut with other cameras as if there wasn’t any curvature at all, you probably should be using the medium field of view. You can shoot 1080 and the 2.7K with a medium field of view, which almost has no curvature at all and you can just rectilinear convert that and it looks natural.

Mike Horton: I did not know that. I mean, I don’t use the GoPro because I’m not a shooter, but I did not know that, because all you see is the GoPro videos of the day and there is a bit of curvature in all of those videos. So I didn’t think there was a way to actually do it in camera.

David Newman: When we were working on ‘Need for Speed’ and we were helping Shane Hurlbut and his crew – we’d known the Bandito Brothers and all those guys for a long time, worked with them on a number of features – and they were using a lot of GoPro content in that project and they were really worried about the curvature. And so we were prototyping Hero 3+ at the time, which was introducing this 2.7K mode with a narrower field of view and I remember someone… on one of their Twitter feeds and saying, “Oh, we got the new firmware,” and they go, “Ah, shh, shh, NDA,” you know?

David Newman: But I told them, “No, no, not that yet,” because we were working on Hero 3+ and it looks like there’s almost no distortion at all. And then within our free tool the GoPro Cineform studio tool will actually have a fisheye removal. But even the latest Adobe Premiere CC has filters, presets basically, that will do the lens to. Rectilinear conversion and if you set the camera up into the medium field of view, it looks beautiful.

David Newman: You can still shoot at 2.7K with that medium field of view, which gives you a great over sample image, so if you’re doing an HD production, you’ve got quite a lot of extra pixels to move around in, a more extra sharp pixel when you resize it down to 1080; or, if you’re doing a HD or a full 4K or HD production, you can upscale to 2.7K and that not looking too soft.  So there are a number of different… That is the sweet spot mode for the camera. I would shoot most productions, unless you need a really wide image, in 2.7K with a medium field of view…

Larry Jordan: Sorry for the pause, I was taking notes because I want to make sure I understand that. Back in 2011, GoPro purchased CineForm. As we know, CineForm makes some really phenomenal codecs. How has CineForm evolved under GoPro? Are you still shooting mpeg4 with H.264 compression? Or are you starting to roll in CineForm into some of the camera native formats?

David Newman: No, CineForm would be quite a large format for a small film…camera. If you think about the size of the SD media we’re using, CineForm is not as compressed as H.264 and it’s designed as an intermediate codec. We saw it used, and still is today, in large compact cameras and mobile recorded devices and so on and, of course, in editorial and post, but not in the kinds of form factors that you see in GoPro cameras.

David Newman: The CineForm technology, when GoPro acquired it, was primarily about solving the problem that GoPro users have where the intermediate codec is a necessity. Back when we acquired it, on the GoPro web page, when people were shooting their – even then it was just 1080p 30fps – Three years ago most consumer class computers couldn’t comfortably play back 1080p 30fps from an H.264 and so the recommended workflow was to download MPEG Streamclip, which is really for pros, it’s not a customer friendly utility, download and transcode it into what was available on the computer.

David Newman: Now, on the Mac, you have ProRes, if you installed Final Cut, and on the PC you were left stranded. So by acquiring CineForm and giving our codec away for free, which we weren’t doing, and I was the CGO at CineForm, and by acquiring CineForm they could solve two problems that the customers had. One was the ability to play back their content with reasonable computer hardware, because the CineForm codec is way faster than H.264.

David Newman: The other is that we were making massive inroads into 3D, so the Neo-3D, which was an expensive tool at the time, although it was cost effective for 3D producers, was a $3,000 utility and how the GoPro/CineForm relationship actually started was Nick Wilburn and Brad Schmidt, who’s the… CEO and Credit Director, were doing their first year at NAB, this was back in 2010, and just before the show they were told that they must have 3D, it’s the booming thing – and it was certainly true – and so what they did is they downloaded the software, a 15 day trial of 3D, and edited their first demo reel of GoPro 3D with our software. They liked the software so much they bought the company, so within 12 months of that meeting, we were part of GoPro.

Larry Jordan: One of the things I was reading about recently, and I’m a little confused so I’m just going to sound stupid at the moment, but you’re now doing something with SMPTE. Is it a new codec or is it a new standard? What’s happening here?

David Newman: I think probably a lot of the existing CineForm customers are going, “Well, what happened to CineForm? It’s a great codec, they still have it, but GoPro doesn’t seem to be pushing it that much.” We actually make it available pretty much for free when you install our software, but there’s not a big marketing push behind it.

Larry Jordan: I think that would be a safe statement, yes.

David Newman: Yes, and the reason is what we were actually doing, somewhat stealth and a little bit more publicly recently, was working on the standardization of the codec. We have been working with SMPTE for two and a half years. It takes a long time. We’re not done, but we’re a long way through the first two parts of the standard. They have been published and are now available through SMPTE and this was only a few weeks ago, so we had a big celebration there. It just took a very long time to work out how to take what is the core technology behind the CineForm codec and basically share it with the world.

David Newman: There are things that the codec does that really don’t have an equivalent in the market today. So there are still compelling reasons to have it. It’s not so much that GoPro could have been promoting it, but when you consider how much our business has exploded, the small market of professional codecs is not one of the things that they need to be dealing with. That’s basically the case. It was more of an intention type of thing, but they did invest into making sure this technology was out there, because we, as in GoPro, are using it internally and customers do produce – think of back in the CineForm days, we might have tens of thousands of users using the CineForm codecs for content creation.

David Newman: Now we have millions of users using it for content creation and, while we don’t push the codec so much, it’s in way, way more systems than we could have imagined as one of the designers of the codec. It’s out there in so many places and we want to protect that content. We want the user who puts their finished edit and they render it out into a CineForm file as a much higher quality intermediate than they could with H.264. Then when they come back to that file and maybe in ten years’ time they’ll go, “Oh, I did this event, I want to go back,” they need to know that that file is secure, that file is available to them. Even whether GoPro’s gone off and done something else. We’ve basically registered what we did with CineForm and we’ve put it into the SMPTE standard.

Larry Jordan: Take a deep breath. What does that mean from a practical point of view? You’ve registered it with SMPTE. Is that like registering a copyright?

David Newman: No. Actually, what we did is we defined the technology that explains how to encode and decode bitstream, such that even if GoPro was not actively supporting decoders and encoders. A third party could recreate our work and extract that information from your file. Let’s say that in 30 years’ time you have a ProRes file and Apple doesn’t care about professional video products any more – that was not supposed to be leading anywhere – but anyway, you may not be able to decode that because there’s no public information about that.

David Newman: There are some people who have reversed engineered it, but it’s not a public standard and we had some interesting markets that were beyond just… some of the professional customers who would not use the format if it wasn’t standard. One of the examples of something that we may do is SMPTE is also working on the Interoperable Master Format, and this is a new package that allows production companies – Disney, Paramount, studios – to finish episodic television feature film work into a format that you can create all your deliverables from.

David Newman: Right now, they’re primarily using JPEG 2000, which was the format when CineForm was founded were going to use and found so inefficient in terms of computer time that we actually developed the CineForm codec as a solution for it. We’re about eight times faster than JPEG 2000. We’re very similar otherwise, bit rates and quality and other factors. All the things are very similar, we label a codec just like JPEG 2000. JPEG 2000 is an awesome quality way of storing images. It’s what we use for DCPs, for visual theater protection formats and…

Larry Jordan: Ok, now hold on, time out. I have a different question then. We’ve got this standard or soon to be standard or will be a standard or you’re moving down the road to become a standard, but standards will ultimately show up. Who’s then responsible for making sure that this codec is then supported in the NLEs that we use, whether it’s Avid or Apple or Adobe? Does GoPro develop the interface or do the developers themselves – Apple, Adobe, Avid – have to do that?

David Newman: Ok, that’s interesting. To answer your question, it is a standard today but we’re adding more descriptions to do more and more elaborate things with the codec. We did the simplest version, it’s a standard today and that’s published now. As a result, anybody – whether it’s an NLE, a camera manufacturer and so on – can request that standard from SMPTE. SMPTE manages the, I think it’s a $300 fee, you pay for the standard and once you have the standard you can implement and so on.

David Newman: But if you wish to implement it within your NLE, camera, so on, although with a camera we only have software… you may contact GoPro to license… to implement it within your tool. That’s always been the case, but through SMPTE you can get the standard and then you can get our reference version for that, which is something that we maintain and build and we license that. Meaning that there might be some fees associated with that, because we’re just like other codec vendors, like a common codec vendor with a lot of tools, is something like MainConcept.

David Newman: They provide the engine behind a lot of our playback tools that you see on mobile solutions and they’re in the business of taking H.264 and MPEG2 and building from the standards an optimized version and then making it easy for people to integrate model tools. So this is one of those standards, but we’re not…

Larry Jordan: David, David, David, we’ve got to invite you back but we’re running out of time.

Mike Horton: That’s fascinating stuff.

Larry Jordan: Certainly no shortage of stuff to talk about. For people who want more information, where can they go on the web?

David Newman: Well, certainly is a great place to find out everything about the cameras and as well you can reach out to us.

Larry Jordan: That’s David Newman is the Senior Director of Software Engineering at GoPro. David, we’ll have you back, I promise. Thanks for joining us.

Mike Horton: Thank you, David.

Larry Jordan: Take care.

David Newman: Thanks, guys.

Larry Jordan: Bye bye.

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Larry Jordan: Jonathan Handel is an entertainment and technology attorney of Counsel at TroyGould in Los Angeles. He’s also the Contributing Editor on entertainment labor issues for The Hollywood Reporter, he’s got a blog at and is totally unable to drive a toy Porsche. Hello, Jonathan, welcome back.

Jonathan Handel: Oh my God, the past is never dead, is it?

Mike Horton: It’s never dead.

Larry Jordan: Unlike Europe, you are never forgotten here in the US.

Jonathan Handel: Unlike Europe indeed, very interesting new ruling, that’s right.

Larry Jordan: Jonathan, Hollywood is making so much news this week that we can’t begin to cover it all in depth, so I’m just going to cue you and step back. Give us the headlines and point us to where we can go for more information, and I want to start with a subject that I talk about with my students all the time, which is internships. Tell us about the lawsuit against Fox from the unpaid interns who toiled on Black Swan. What’s happening?

Jonathan Handel: Well, that’s a lawsuit that was filed in 2011 and it’s been making its way through the system. They won a victory in the District Court last year and the case was on appeal. The Court of Appeals is expected to rule sometime early next year, so it’s going to be a while. Now, what’s that case about? It is about unpaid internships. As I think everyone knows, those kinds of internships are very common in the entertainment industry and in some other industries – the music business, publishing, fashion.

Jonathan Handel: All these are creative areas where there’s a lot more demand for entree into jobs and into career paths than there are places to accommodate people, and that’s a formula for people potentially being taken advantage of. The law is actually pretty strict on what kinds of unpaid internships are allowed and what kinds aren’t. And the answer really is that most of the ones that we think of, where you’re doing something for the employer and you’re fetching coffee and dealing with picking up someone’s laundry, maybe learning a bit about directing or writing or editing, whatever the person is that you’re working for, according to the judge, internships that look like that are not legal. Basically, if the employer is getting a benefit and getting far more benefit than the intern is, if the intern is doing work that otherwise would have to be done by someone who is paid, if the intern is not in a training program at the location of the company, all of those factors weigh in favor of saying, “Look, this is somebody who is working.”

Jonathan Handel: Now, the companies say, “Well, look, interns get the benefit of entree into these careers,” but there are two answer to that. One is the reality is that a lot of people don’t, a lot of people end up interning and then don’t make it; and the other thing is that the judge said, “Look, those kinds of benefits, the experience of learning a bit about a production company and of getting references and referrals for jobs and that sort of thing, those are the same sort of benefits someone would get if they were working. That really is just an incidental aspect of being an employee.”

Jonathan Handel: It is on appeal. We don’t know how that’s going to turn out, but it doesn’t look great at this point for Fox and for some of the other companies and, in fact, Fox and Universal, which apparently both were doing unpaid internships, changed their policies and have paid internships now. The other major studios, according to an article, always had paid internships but UCLA nonetheless reports that 90 percent of the internships from production companies, smaller companies, are still unpaid.

Mike Horton: Kind of sounds like a State Supreme Court decision here several years down the line.

Jonathan Handel: Well, it’s a federal case.

Mike Horton: Oh, a federal case.

Jonathan Handel: Yes, yes, because the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as in this case New York state law – the case was brought in New York because the picture was shot there – it’s one of those areas where you have overlapping federal and state law and so they brought a case in the federal court.

Larry Jordan: Now, is there a limit? For instance, here on The Buzz we’ll have an intern come by for a week or two weeks at the most, but never more than that. If they’re just here and they’re a fly on the wall learning how things work, are we illegal, based upon that initial ruling?

Jonathan Handel: No, that sounds legal. If they’re there really just to learn and they’re not actually doing work that is productive work for the company, they’re not laboring for you guys, but literally are shadowing and a fly on the wall, from my understanding of the ruling, that would be fine.

Larry Jordan: Ok, let’s shift gears. What’s the issue with the Musicians’ Union and offshore migration?

Jonathan Handel: The Musicians’ Union is not happy that certain companies, and in particular the largest two, being Lionsgate and Marvel, are very prone to scoring their projects overseas and not using US union labor. The union points out that it’s particularly ironic that we’re talking about major movies that, in most cases, have received tax subsidies, when they’re shot in the US, from the states in which production takes place so they pocket the tax subsidies and then look for further savings by offshoring what the union says should be good old American jobs.

Mike Horton: Wow. Holy crap, that’s just like taking a cue from the VFX industry. You find that tax subsidy in VFX and you find it in music and you find it in this, oh my goodness. Just grrr.

Larry Jordan: Not that Mike has an opinion.

Jonathan Handel: Not that Mike has an opinion, exactly. But that is exactly the way the Musicians’ Union feels and so the latest development is that they delivered 12,000 petitions to Lionsgate a couple of days ago, on Tuesday, calling for them to score their projects here. They reached some accommodation with Lionsgate on ‘Mad Men’. That is scored in the US, I believe, but in terms of the film projects, they’re still pretty consistently being done overseas.

Larry Jordan: All right, next one – it doesn’t surprise me that SAG and AFTRA are fighting again. What’s this one about?

Jonathan Handel: Well, no, I don’t think they’re fighting, actually. SAG-AFTRA is negotiating with the studios.

Larry Jordan: Oh, well I take back my words. What’s the latest from SAG-AFTRA?

Jonathan Handel: It’s being done under a news blackout, so there’s nothing much to report except to just give people the contacts. These negotiations happen every three years. The DGA and WGA did their deals earlier this year and ratified them. Those deals will serve in large part as a template for what SAG-AFTRA ends up achieving, so there’s kind of a kabuki dance. SAG-AFTRA is probably asking for five percent or four percent raises and the studios are probably offering two percent, but everyone knows the annual increase in minimums is going to be three percent, because that’s what the DGA and Writers’ Guild got.

Jonathan Handel: In new media, there were these developments in residuals and other terms, particularly for subscription video on demand services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, and SAG-AFTRA will get those developments ultimately as well. The bigger and tougher issue for them is that they still have two separate TV contracts, the AFTRA contract and the SAG contract.

Jonathan Handel: They’re trying to merge those, but the little bit of the mystery is going to be, ok, if you do merge those contracts, number one, the wage rates are different and that’s a leftover effect of the fact that SAG stalemated for a year and didn’t do a deal, back up to the writers’ strike. So what wage rate do you adopt?

Jonathan Handel: And then, number two, the pension and health funds are not merged. So if you have a single contract, how do you decide for a new show whether the P&H is going to be done under the SAG plan or the AFTRA plan? That’s obviously a very technical kind of issue, but one that makes a real difference in terms of people’s ability to have good health coverage and…

Mike Horton: That’s exactly what all the anti-merger people were saying and it’s going to be interesting to find out how they’re going to resolve this.

Jonathan Handel: Right, right.

Larry Jordan: But is it a good sign or a bad sign that the news blackout is holding? If there were a lot of internal dissention, they’d be leaking this all over, wouldn’t they?

Jonathan Handel: Well, it’s a frustrating sign, since I write for The Hollywood Reporter, but…

Larry Jordan: We don’t care about you, Jonathan.

Jonathan Handel: Aww, I feel abandoned. But you’re right, you’re right. All kidding aside, at least for a moment or two, this is a more peaceful time in the life cycle of this union, certainly than several years ago. When they go into the next internal election cycle, what’s that going to look like? I don’t think it will be this year, I don’t think. Maybe it would be this year, I don’t know.

Jonathan Handel: That certainly is an area where some of these internal divisions will come to the fore again, but it’s interesting. You mentioned the anti-merger folks. The pro-merger folks made a major argument where they said, “Look, if you merge SAG and AFTRA, you’re not going to have as much SAG versus AFTRA dissention because things will be more internalized,” and that’s proven true. There still is dissent and it’s along some of the traditional lines, but it’s not at the fiercely pitched boil that it was at a few years ago when you had separate unions.

Larry Jordan: And Jonathan, there’s more that we could talk about, but we’re going to let you go for right now. Where can people go on the web to learn more?

Jonathan Handel: Well, two places. My website is and The Hollywood Reporter,

Larry Jordan: That’s and and Jonathan Handel’s the entertainment technology attorney and labor reporter for The Hollywood Reporter. Jonathan, thanks as always for joining us.

Jonathan Handel: Thanks very much.

Mike Horton: Thanks Jonathan.

Larry Jordan: Bye bye.

Jonathan Handel: Bye bye.

Larry Jordan: We had our next guest on a few weeks ago. Brian Drewes is the Co-Founder and Head of Production at Boston based Zero VFX, where he oversees all components of large visual effects projects from initial bidding to final delivery. I was just reflecting, Michael, before we say hi to Brian, that last week we had a show that concentrated on how to keep a business alive and I can’t think of a harder industry to be in…

Mike Horton: Than the visual effects industry, yes.

Larry Jordan: …than visual effects, so I want to find out not just how creative Brian is, but how fast his footwork is. Hello, Brian, welcome.

Brian Drewes: It’s pretty fast, let me tell you. How are you guys?

Mike Horton: I bet it is.

Larry Jordan: We’re doing great to have you with us.

Mike Horton: I think the biggest difference is he’s in Boston and we’re in LA. Maybe that’s the big difference.

Brian Drewes: So that means I dance faster, I think, right?

Mike Horton: Exactly.

Larry Jordan: They’re always saying, you know, you’ve got to it the way they do in a big city, not realizing Boston is a big city.

Brian Drewes: Well, it’s certainly a big city, just not a big industry city, that’s for sure. But I think that we’ve sort of proven that a little untrue at this point.

Mike Horton: The thing about Boston is it has the smartest people in the world right there.

Brian Drewes: Oh thanks. That’s on the other side of the river…

Larry Jordan: Yes, true enough, true enough. Give us a quick thumbnail, what does Zero VFX do, just so we have a background? Because then really I want to focus on two things, Brian. I want to talk about how to survive as a business, because you’ve got some insight there, but I also want to talk about the growth creatively of the company, so we’re going to look in both directions. But tell us about Zero VFX.

Brian Drewes: Sure. We’ve been around for four years and we primarily work in visual effects for TV commercials and feature films. About a 50/50 split between those, especially last year, but in general that’s where we like to be, is that split. Mostly in photo reel, so really hard surface modeling and compositing, all that kind of stuff, and then some motion graphics, especially for the commercial end of things.

Larry Jordan: How many commercials did you do last year?

Brian Drewes: Well, in the first quarter of this year, we delivered about 400 spots. So that’s pretty busy, right?

Mike Horton: Are you serious?

Brian Drewes: Yes.

Larry Jordan: You’re not just by yourself over there. You’ve got some teamwork.

Brian Drewes: No, we counted them up, actually. We looked on our server and we were like, “How many? We were really busy this quarter,” and it was like, “Holy cow, yes, that’s 400 spots.”

Mike Horton: Are you talking 400 national spots or a lot of the…

Brian Drewes: Yes, yes.

Mike Horton: Holy cow. That’s like every single commercial.

Brian Drewes: Well, no, come on. There are a lot of commercials out there, right? Yes, but it’s a lot of Boston based agencies, but they were working on national stuff, for sure.

Larry Jordan: How many people do you have working there with you?

Brian Drewes: We have a total of 35 now, but at the beginning of the year we were up to 45, because we fluctuate, of course, especially with the future stuff, we end up bouncing up. So we had 45 at our maximum.

Larry Jordan: You’ve got 35 or 45 creative people. Clearly, there’s the business end and goodness knows we can’t discount them nor say they’re not creative, but when you’ve got that big a team, how do you manage them? How do you keep them all on the same page?

Brian Drewes: Well, we have all the production assets, management tools, like Shotgun that help with communication. That’s really a big thing, is communication between the departments that start needing to develop and we try to make sure that people get to experience those commercials and features, because we feel like that diversity, not just from a business perspective but from a creative perspective. It keeps people engaged and really keeps people driving their capabilities and learning what they’re good at, and that’s our job as employers, is to help people figure out what they’re best at and what they enjoy doing. We get a really good look at a lot of different cross sections of things to do, so I think it’s a great thing for everybody.

Mike Horton: You don’t have 35, 45 people working on the same project. I mean, they’re all diverse and work on separate commercials. You can’t have 45 people working on 400 commercials, correct?

Brian Drewes: That’s correct, yes, and we’ve got somewhat different pipelines, but there are points where they intersect. So when we’re working on commercials that have heavy compositing, of course that’s where the feature film pipeline starts coming in. We just built this four years ago, over the last four years. We’re really able to look at and take a step back and say, “Ok, how do we want these two different pipelines that have two different environments, where will they interact and how do we as managers make sure that they’re interacting in a way that’s both the best for the company, for the client and for the creatives that are participating in it?

Larry Jordan: Well, that brings up a conversation we had a couple of weeks ago when we spoke with Christina Lee Storm about her documentary on the death of the legendary VFX company Rhythm & Hues, right after they won an Oscar for the ‘Life of Pi’. These are hard times for the VFX industry. What are you guys doing to survive?

Brian Drewes: I think I said this word earlier, but diversity really is it. The other side of the river, Harvard Business School, that’s what you learn. I didn’t go there, but from what I hear that’s business school 101, is having this kind of diversity where you say, “Ok, we want to make sure that, as a footprint, the company can withstand those cycles that are inherent, especially in project based work, where you don’t necessarily have the control over the rest of the process that ends up impacting our sales cycles for these different things.”

Brian Drewes: So with the commercials you have these very short duration projects, but you end up on the cash flow side, with the revenue side of the company. You end up with these swings but don’t end up having all your eggs in just one basket. That for me personally is the thing that I think is very important to not forget, because it’s really easy to forget that when you’re just crushing it on features and say, “Ok, great, we’re doing four features,” like we did last year – we did ‘American Hustle’, ‘Equalizer’, ‘Sex Tape’ and… Pleasure’ and you can easily fall into just saying, “This is all we’re doing,” but we made a lot of very clear and cognizant choice to say, “We’re going to ingest more in the commercials.”

Brian Drewes: So we brought in an executive producer on the commercial side who’s a phenomenal addition to the team, named Sarah Spitz, who worked at an agency for 15 years. So we’re really making sure that we don’t forget that very essential part of running a business – making sure to maintain that diversity – so that if there are places where you have to say “No, this project’s not for me,” you’re not putting your company out of business to make that decision.

Mike Horton: But you did American Hustle, you did the other movies that you mentioned. Did you, as other VFX companies have done and have gone under as a result, bid hoping that you would actually make money on the gig because it would look good on the resume? How did that work? Because you know what the other companies have done and then, of course, there’s the changes and all this and they end up losing money.

Brian Drewes: Yes. I’ll make that decision on shots. But for a whole film, I personally would not make that decision. I would never go in saying, like, “Oh yes, by the way I’m going to lose money on this entire film.” If you know that going in, that’s problematic, for sure. But again, if you do have a diverse footprint where you’re saying, “I’m going to lose money on my features part of my business but I have the commercials that are making up for that,” you can make that decision. So it’s really about having diversity, which does give you the ability to not have to make that hard decision sometimes. I’ve never been in a position where I’ve had to make that. But I can see how that develops, and it’s not just to say…

Mike Horton: Well, especially when you’re starting your company too. You want to get your name out there.

Brian Drewes: Absolutely, absolutely, and that’s something that you have to trust is going to be there and you’re going to have to make those decisions sometimes. Like we made the decision that, ok, there are going to be many months where we don’t get a paycheck and that’s part of the business. Personally, as owners of the company, we’ve always of course paid our employees, but as owners we say, “Ok, we’re going to sacrifice here because we believe in the company, we believe in the team and we believe in the relationships we have with clients that this is all going to work out.” That’s the risk that I decided and Sean decided to take, but that’s what owning a business is about.

Mike Horton: Better believe in the relationship you have with your family.

Larry Jordan: The challenge, I think, for the VFX industry, though, is it seems like you guys – I’m lumping you in with everybody else – are in a race to the bottom. Where suddenly you’re just competing on price and you’re underbidding each other to the point that nobody’s making any money. I mention that simply because the streets of Burbank and Hollywood are littered with VFX firms that aren’t around any more. How do you avoid that trap when it is so easy to say, “Well, we’ll do it for 100 bucks less”?

Brian Drewes: Yes. I think I’d rather race to the side, which is to say, “Ok, I’m going to try a bunch of side businesses. I’m going to try to create content, I’m going to write technology.” You know, we use technology, we have technologists that work for us and so let’s make software. Let’s try these other things. Really bringing the innovation in and really not stagnating at just a project based entity I think is really important and, certainly, call me in five years or ten years and see if that’s working, but up ‘til now it has. Not to say that I’m certainly not the smartest person ever around and I think that it’s a shame that there are so many companies, and so many people that are having a really hard time with it and I don’t know what the answer is for them.

Brian Drewes: All I can vote on is what my company does and the vision that we’re bringing to it as owners and creators, is to say let’s let people play around with technology and see what comes out of it, see if we can’t make a great product. I just released a software called Downstream that is a tiny little tool for After Effects that allows people to look at compression before they bake it into their QuickTime movie. It’s just these little tiny tools that are like, let’s see what happens, let’s see if that works and I think it’s a race to the side. I’d rather look at it that way and then you don’t have to race to the bottom if you go sideways.

Mike Horton: Well, speaking of racing to the bottom, in the commercial industry, do you lose gigs to Toronto and Vancouver and Montreal and London?

Brian Drewes: No, no, it’s not looked at that way generally. You compete on price, but it’s definitely about relationships and at some point it’s someone else’s money that’s getting spent. So I think people really look for the team that they want to work with and they have a little bit more leeway in that, because those projects generally are smaller. You’re not talking about a five million dollar feature film. So they have the ability to be doing many of these projects so they can kind of go shotgun with it and just try a bunch of different people. You generally aren’t competing against other facilities just on price.

Mike Horton: Oh, you’re making me feel warm and fuzzy. Well, you are, and there’s hope out there with guys like him who is doing the right thing.

Brian Drewes: It’s a solution for us. It’s really like you have to invent those solutions with the strengths that you have in your team. So, like, I’ve had a lot of agency relationships over the years of my career and that’s why we’ve chosen this kind of diversity. Someone else is maybe really great at product development for software, so go and do that. It’s just to sort of say don’t just have one job, have multiple jobs as far as careers. If you work for a company, if you own a company, have multiple careers and really try to continue to invent and don’t just do projects.

Larry Jordan: One more business question, then I want to shift over to creative. But this sort of runs the balances between business and creative, because if keeping clients is based upon your creative talent and your relationships, how do you keep your creative talent from walking over to the competition?

Brian Drewes: That’s a different sort of issue to what we have in Boston. But I hope that if you’re appropriately staffing projects, if you’re a good employer to your employees, hopefully you foster a culture that people want to stay in. For us in Boston, we are building most of our staff and do have to hire people from other cities to come to Boston to help us when we are in these really prolific periods. But for us it’s really about growing that staff, and really training people, and working with the schools to get a good pipeline of students that can come out and have a job right out of college. For us, it’s about capturing and training. That’s really important to us.

Mike Horton: Yes, get those MIT guys.

Brian Drewes: Yes, yes. Lots of science.

Larry Jordan: Ok, now you get to put your creative hat on. From a creative perspective, which is where you’ve been living up until suddenly you’re running a staff of 45. How do you balance the creative work that got you started in this industry with the day to day business work?

Brian Drewes: Well, I’ve always been a producer. I’d like to consider myself a creative producer, but Sean Devereaux, who’s our Visual Effects Supervisor – I’m speaking for him now – but it is a balance between coming and being purely creative and then also the management of the team and management of the shots and going and being on set. The set work is extraordinarily important in really working with the film makers and really developing those relationships that bring you through the post process. I think from a creative standpoint, it’s just bringing it to that next level.

Larry Jordan: When you say the set work is important, what does that mean?

Brian Drewes: Well, as far as going and actually being on set with the directors, with the producers and really helping sculpt what is being shot. That’s really a super important part of the process, is knowing, “Ok, this is what we’ve budgeted. This is what the creative goals of the film makers are,” which of course changes from expectations to execution. It’s a creative process, so you get the camera set up and it’s not exactly what you thought, so you need to work with the film makers to make sure that their vision is coming through in a way that makes me, the producer, be able to know that we’re going to be pretty close to budget. That is extraordinarily important for determining what the pathway of that feature will be.

Mike Horton: You need to take your business model on the road.

Larry Jordan: Syndicate his business model?

Mike Horton: Yes, exactly. Tell everybody how to do it.

Brian Drewes: That’s another example of going sideways.

Mike Horton: Exactly. That would be another source of income.

Brian Drewes: There you go.

Larry Jordan: See, Michael is always looking for speakers for his next Supermeet.

Mike Horton: Any time I talk to young actors who want to get in the business, I say, “Don’t just be an actor.”

Brian Drewes: Yes.

Larry Jordan: What should they be?

Mike Horton: Director/actor.

Larry Jordan: Oh, I see. Hyphen it.

Mike Horton: Cinematographer. Learn everything about the business.

Larry Jordan: Brian, what projects are you working on now that you can talk about?

Brian Drewes: Well, we’re working on two feature films which I can’t talk about, I’m sorry, other than to say that they’re not shooting in Massachusetts, so no incentives whatsoever. It’s through the network of people we have developed over these last four years and, really, our careers that has allowed us to be able to evolve past the whole tax credit thing here in Massachusetts. So we’re really proud and stoked to be able to say that and can’t wait to talk more about the films. But we’re actively on set for those. So we expect that we’ll be really starting to hit the stride there in the fall, picking those up; and then just a bunch of commercials, pretty much at any point.

Larry Jordan: Do I note that you just finished a couple of interesting features? Or am I…

Brian Drewes: Oh yes. Yes, yes, for Sony we finished ‘The Equalizer’, which is a Denzel Washington film, which is going to be awesome and that comes out early fall.

Mike Horton: Is that based on the old TV show?

Brian Drewes: Yes, it’s based on the old TV show.

Mike Horton: Oh, cool.

Brian Drewes: It’s sick. It’s a great film. We’re really excited. There were 600 shots in that, visual effects shots…

Larry Jordan: Oh my goodness.

Brian Drewes: …so we’ve got lots of varying levels of…. in that, lots of explosions and all around sort of excellence. It’s an action film.

Larry Jordan: No pride of ownership there. How about the other one?

Brian Drewes: That one’s called ‘Sex Tape’. That’s with Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel and that’s coming out here I believe in a month or so, and that’s a comedy. It’s phenomenal. Also really great film makers, really great team to work with on both of those. The studios have been a pleasure to work with and that one’s a very funny movie, very, very funny movie, so some really fun stuff.

Larry Jordan: Brian, for people who have decided that you have to do their next project, where can they go on the web to learn more about you?

Brian Drewes:

Larry Jordan: That’s Brian Drewes is the Co-Founder of Zero VFX and, Brian, as always, thanks for joining us. Look forward to having you come back.

Brian Drewes: Hey, cheers. Thanks, guys.

Larry Jordan: Thanks, bye bye.

Brian Drewes: Bye.

Larry Jordan: Mike, you can get off the table now.

Mike Horton: That’s so cool, that music.

Larry Jordan: I like it.

Mike Horton: It went on for a little too long. I had so much to say and now we don’t have any time to say it. It was nice, you know, hearing about the whole VFX industry. As you know, I’ve been following that very, very closely and it’s not doing so well, but he’s doing well, and that company is doing well, and I know there are other companies doing well too and it’s just nice to hear that. It’s nice to hear the positive stories.

Larry Jordan: Well, I think he makes a good point, and you picked up on this, when he was talking about the fact that you can’t be a one trick pony.

Mike Horton: No.

Larry Jordan: You’ve got to have multiple talents.

Mike Horton: I mean, it’s easier to talk about his smaller company, but when you talk about big, big, big companies where you have three or four hundred employees that you’ve got to take care of and then you make the decisions to go underbid these big movies in the hopes that you can make money. It’s just not a business model that works. But his seems to work.

Larry Jordan: Well, I’m especially impressed with how much he’s grown over the last couple of years.

Mike Horton: Isn’t that amazing? In four years, during the worst period of the visual effects industry. Incredible.

Larry Jordan: Yes, and I also like the fact that when you’re dealing with creative people, you’ve got to focus on your staff and…

Mike Horton: Oh yes, you’ve got to keep that talent or do what you can. I mean, a few of them are going to go, there’s nothing you can do – people have got egos – but keep that talent.

Larry Jordan: Well, the other thing I was just looking up, he last joined us on December 12th of last year. So it’s been about five months since we talked with him and it’s just fascinating to hear about the growth and how the company continues to improve. That’s really cool. He’s a good guy and I’m glad to have him back; and the stuff at GoPro is amazing.

Mike Horton: Yes, and they should be coming out with a 6K 3D IMAX version here in the next six months. And if they’re not, well, jeez. Talking about that guy, he’s so smart. He could probably come up with all this. He’s designing the software. Put it in that same form factor, put in an IMAX version.

Larry Jordan: We talk with David a lot. David Newman is the Senior Director of Software Engineering at GoPro; and then Jonathan Handel, the entertainment labor reporter for…

Mike Horton: Come on, David, give it to us in six months. You can do it.

Larry Jordan: …The Hollywood Reporter; and Brian Drewes, the Co-Founder of Zero VFX, the Boston based visual effects company.

Larry Jordan: There’s a lot happening at The Buzz between shows and it’s all posted to our website at Hang out with us on Twitter, @dpbuzz, and Facebook, at

Larry Jordan: Our producer is Cirina Catania, our engineer is Adrian Price. On behalf of the ever handsome Mike Horton, my name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to the Digital Production Buzz.

Mike Horton: Bye, everybody.

Voiceover: The 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; and by TOLIS Group, the BRU guys, pioneering the development and support of ultra reliable data backup, archival and restore solutions for nearly 30 years.

Digital Production Buzz — May 15, 2014

  • New Software and Techniques from GoPro
  • Hollywood Update: Interns, Musicians, and SAG/AFTRA
  • Creativity and Survival in the VFX Industry

GUESTS: David Newman, Jonathan Handel, and Brian Drewes

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Join Larry Jordan and co-host Michael Horton as they talk with:

David Newman, Sr. Director, Software Engineering , GoPro

David Newman, Sr. Director of Software Engineering at GoPro, joins us this week with updates on the latest news from GoPro, including the adding support for the high-performance VC-5 video compression format.

Jonathan Handel, Entertainment/Technology Attorney & Labor Reporter, TroyGould and The Hollywood Reporter

Jonathan Handel, Entertainment/Technology Attorney and labor reporter for The Hollywood Reporter joins us this week to talk about all the labor issues swirling in Hollywood; from the musicians unions, to Fox interns, the Brian Singer case and the Writer’s Guild.

Brian Drewes, Co-Founder, ZEROvfx

The world of visual effects (VFX) is struggling to survive. VFX skills have never been in more demand, and budgets have never been more strained. Brian Drewes, Co-founder of ZEROvfx, joins us this week to bring us up-to-date on the technology and the industry.

The Buzz is all the information you need now to know what’s coming next!

The Digital Production BuZZ airs LIVE Thursday from 6-7 PM Pacific Daylight Time. Ask questions during the show on our Live Chat, listen live, download an episode from the archives, or subscribe to the podcast either through iTunes or our website. Whatever you do, DON’T miss this week’s show!

Transcript: Digital Production Buzz – May 8, 2014

Digital Production Buzz

May 8, 2014

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Larry Jordan


Larry O’Connor, President & Founder, Other World Computing

Brad Weyl, COO, ADS

Dan Borunda, Director of Sales & Marketing, G2

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 for creative content producers covering media production, post production, marketing and distribution around the world. My name is Larry Jordan; our co-host, the ever handsome Mike Horton, has the night off.

Larry Jordan: Tonight’s show looks at the process of starting and maintaining a successful creative business. It’s fun to talk about gear and creating stories but, at the end of the day, we still need to pay the rent, month after month and year after year.

Larry Jordan: Our guests tonight have been doing just that for a very, very long time. We start with Larry O’Connor. He founded OWC when he was 14 years old. Now, more than 25 years later, OWC is recognized as one of the fastest growing privately held companies in the Chicago area. Tonight, we talk with Larry about what it takes to be successful in the insanely challenging world of high tech.

Larry Jordan: Then we shift to the world of post production with Brad Weyl, who’s the Chief Operating Officer of ADS, a Hollywood based digital media service company. It’s been in business for more than 20 years. They handle creation and distribution of masters, digital format conversions, closed captioning, as well as restoration and preservation of older projects. We want to learn from Brad what they focus on to remain successful.

Larry Jordan: We’ll wrap up with Dan Borunda. He joins us as the Director of Sales and Marketing for G2. This is family owned graphics business. They began back in 1969, before the advent of computers, and they’ve survived for more than 40 years, long after computers knocked most of their competitors out of business. Dan stops by to share his thoughts on the secrets of their success.

Larry Jordan: If you’re looking for ways to make your business survive and grow, you need to listen to today’s show.

Larry Jordan: Just a reminder, we’re 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 and thanks, Take 1, for making these transcripts possible.

Larry Jordan: By the way, we are always looking for guest ideas, so if you’ve got an idea for a product that needs to be featured or a particular film whose film maker you think needs the spotlight, be sure and let us know. You can email me at That’s

Larry Jordan: You can remember to visit us on Facebook at One of the things that we’re working with on Facebook and our Twitter account as well is trying to give you more up to date information and take you more behind the scenes, give you a heads up not just in terms of the show that’s starting this week, but some of our key guests coming up over the next month. We’re going to be starting to feature guests a bit more so you can get a better handle on who’s coming and look at their websites and decide what kind of questions you want to ask. We’re always interested in listener feedback, so be sure to let us know if there’s some particular guest or some particular subject or some particular question you’d like answered.

Larry Jordan: In all cases, you can just email me at You can also visit us on Twitter, @dpbuzz, and subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at This weekly newsletter is published by our web team and it gives you an inside look at both our show and the industry. You can get more information at our website at The newsletter comes out every Friday morning, right after the show, and it has all kinds of cool stuff.

Larry Jordan: We’ll be joining Larry O’Connor with OWC 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 millimeter sensor with a professional global shutter, yet also offering EF and ZE compatible lens mounts and records to a super fast SSD drive. Capturing 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 $2,995. Learn more about the Blackmagic production camera 4K that is definitely priced to move, visit

Larry Jordan: Larry O’Connor founded OWC in 1988. You may also know the company as They’ve been supporting all things Mac for more than 25 years and were recently recognized as one of the fastest growing privately held companies in the Chicago area. Hello, Larry.

Larry O’Connor: How you doing?

Larry Jordan: You know, it’s a good thing that I’m talking to you because otherwise somebody else talking to the two of us would not know which Larry they are talking to.

Larry O’Connor: It would be a lot of bouncing back and forth.

Larry Jordan: Thank you so much for joining us. I’ve been a fan of OWC for a long time and I was reflecting on this and realized that, when I was 14 years old, I was not particularly interested in starting a company. What caused you at that age to start the company?

Larry O’Connor: Well, I certainly had an interest in computers and technology. I also had the handicap of not being able to drive and it was a headache, quite frankly, getting an upgrade on my own personal system, in addition to the fact that you needed to take it apart and bring it into a car and drive it to another place and not being able to drive and being able to schedule it. It was quite an inconvenience.

Larry O’Connor: The biggest realization or driver was, number one, after a little bit of self educating, I found out how easy it was to install memory, even drives at that point in time, and the other kicker, of course, was that it took more time – forget the drive to the computer shop and all the time it takes to get all that stuff disconnected and computers were a little more bulky back in that day – but it took more time to fill out the paperwork and watch the service guy put your computer on the shelf and then put his feet back up on the table than it did to do the installation or that upgrade yourself.

Larry O’Connor: Having seen that and also the situation with the memory market – it had gone up one year and the prices came way down the following year and these guys were very quick to raise their prices and when people continued to pay the price, they decided that even though the prices dropped about 75 percent, they really didn’t need to drop their prices – it was an opportunity to get into the game and it was an opportunity to educate people saying, “There are absolutely things you should bring your system in for, but as a starting point memory upgrades are something you don’t need to do that for,” and we kind of showed people how to spend five minutes in your home to do this.

Larry Jordan: Well, time has passed since that young 14 year old was replacing memory on his computer. How would you describe what OWC does today?

Larry O’Connor: In the simplest form, we do the same thing we’ve always done and that’s looking to maximize technology in general with the resources that are available and with the most efficient use of those resources. There’s memory, storage, acceleration products. We look for ways to help people maximize the hardware, whether it’s a machine from several years ago or a machine that they just brought home yesterday.

Larry O’Connor: It’s making sure that you can get the most from it; you make an investment to start with and there’s often a lot of potential that goes untapped if your next step is to buy a replacement system as opposed to some pretty simple upgrades and enhancements that can really make that current system do things way beyond what even maybe a brand new system would do for you.

Larry O’Connor: We’re just trying to make things simple and we provide product that works and, when it comes to technology in general, educate our customers and share information as opposed to make it seem like it’s a magic black box and we’re not going to tell you what it does. I think people who understand the technology and, again, we break it down and make it simple, are really our best customers and get the most use out of it and the most enjoyment from the capabilities.

Larry O’Connor: I want to come back to this education part in just a minute, but I was just reflecting – is OWC simply a reseller, or do you make your own products?

Larry O’Connor: We’ve been making our own products for over 20 years. Memory, way back in the day, were chips so we can’t take credit for producing those, but we began building hard drives way back in 1989 and, as far as solutions, the majority of our products, you can go back into the late ‘90s, go back a decade. We built acceleration products, T4 process or upgrade cards. Today, we manufacture solid state drives, we manufacture our own memory which does involve a PC versus just plain old chips.

Larry O’Connor: We’re a direct seller and we sell brands that aren’t just OWC, but that’s evolved based on customer needs and customers coming to us and hybridizing us out to where, if you looked at our site in the ‘90s, everything we sold for the most part was an OWC type product, or there was one category that was a little broader than just OWC. Today, the majority of the products that we move through our site are OWC branded products, but we also sell hundreds of other brand products which support the needs of our customers. If nothing else, we’re customer driven and that’s why we offer the products that we do.

Larry O’Connor: But we are absolutely a manufacturer and that’s something that’s sometimes hard to see that. Just because of the way we’ve been positioned, I know a lot of people just see us as a reseller, but that’s by no means the case.

Larry Jordan: I got my start in the computer industry a couple of years before you started OWC and they’re no longer in business. In fact, the world of Macintosh resellers is littered with corpses of dead companies. What is it that’s allowed OWC to survive?

Larry O’Connor: We go back to the customer focus. We’ve stayed focused on our customers, we listen to our customers and, first and foremost, we focus on delivering a quality product and supporting that product. You can have a great product and not have a team that’s there for the customer and if you can’t use the product, it’s probably not going to last or certainly reach its full success.

Larry O’Connor: The other side of the coin, you can have great people who want to support a product, but the product quality isn’t there. That’s kind of a problem in itself and at OWC we’ve worked really hard to produce an exceptional product and have the team there to make sure that our customers get the best use out of that product.

Larry Jordan: Allow me to interrupt for a second and be just a shade cynical here, because I think if you poked any company, they would say, “Well, we are clearly focused on our customers,” so I sort of take with a grain of salt the fact that you say we listen to and focus on our customers. How does that translate into practical behavior?

Larry O’Connor: You’re right, it’s common sense. It’s what you would expect. You’d expect sellers to respond, you’d expect that to be the status quo, but in terms of how it translates into how we work in our field, I guess whether it’s a product coming back to us or a customer calling for support, we’re not scripted, we actually evaluate every piece of product that comes back through our doors, we share information, we build a database of different use cases – what went wrong, why it went wrong.

Larry O’Connor: Quite frankly, the majority of the products that we do see back, there is no issue. The issue had to do with the use case and we actually take the time to explore how that use was being implemented so that the next time that scenario comes up, we already have an answer for it, plus we can reach out to the existing customer to make sure that the replacement that goes out to them isn’t going to come back and we actually do cross checks and other things to support that aspect as well. But the point of the matter is we look to solve problems, not just to give lip service and the support side, our team members are by and large users of our products, so again they’re not just talking from a reference sheet that they may be reading.

Larry O’Connor: The support that’s given is from firsthand experience and a big piece of that also internally is we have, certainly on the Mac side of the equation, arguably the largest test labs in two locations now of Macintosh systems which we’re always putting through different test circumstances every day. We’re testing different scenarios, whether it’s curb product, a standard ongoing QC or testing different standards that customers are proposing to us to understand, how or how not a certain product is interacting in terms of expectations. We don’t stop.

Larry O’Connor: We listen and we act and we do what we say we’re going to do, is what it comes down to. And again it all is common sense kind of stuff and it’s what you should expect. This is kind of a cop out for me, but put it this way – the feedback that comes back to us from our customers is that, whatever we’re doing in terms of executing these… that we put out there is something that very few others do to that level today.

Larry Jordan: Would you say that the key secret to success is customer service? Or does it expand beyond that?

Larry O’Connor: It expands beyond. It’s not just customer service. It’s having the right team and our customer support team is truly a team that, from a cultural point of view, is there to provide what internally we reference as the OWC difference. Customer service is certainly a core, but it’s also having the understanding on the product side of the equation, providing product that is right for the customer, and that goes into after sales and the presentation.

Larry O’Connor: Another core operating piece of our equation is that whether a customer comes to us with a $50 budget or a $5,000 budget. If it’s a $200 product that is correct for that need, that’s what we’re going to recommend. Whether it’s over or under the budget, it is what it is. When I first bought a Mac back in 1990 or 1991, the one thing I’ll never forget – and it was a good experience to go through – was the number of sales reps that took the approach of, “How much can you spend today?” or “Can I have your credit card number?” and I was like, “I’ve got questions about this. This is a major purchase for me.”

Larry O’Connor: Sales guys, at least the ones I encountered back in the day, they were not – and I’m not by any means pigeonholing – but at this extreme of the equation it was about how much you’re willing to spend or what your credit card limit was, and we really take the approach of what are you looking to accomplish, what are your needs today, tomorrow. What is going to be right to effectively give you a solution to your need versus how much you can afford so we can find what will fit into that.

Larry O’Connor: We really are here to have customers for the long term as opposed to one off sales and certainly some sales guys say we leave a lot on the table that way, but we really don’t because we’re able to establish a customer base. We want our customers to trust us and we want to earn that trust. Word of mouth is huge for us as is, of course, repeat business because certainly when you come to us, we’re here to provide the right solution not just a solution that we think fits what you can spend today.

Larry Jordan: I think it comes down to having the right staff. I’ve heard you mention more than once that it’s not just having good products, although that’s important, but having the staff that can execute the combination of understanding the products with the customer service. So what do you look for when you’re hiring new team members?

Larry O’Connor: We look for people who are already enthusiastic about technology and are willing to learn. It’s as simple as that. There’s not necessarily a test that somebody passes, other than you come in with an open mind and a good spirit and willingness and an understanding that the customer is first.

Larry O’Connor: Building a quality product is an easier part of the equation than making sure you have the right team on the front lines supporting that product. It’s a lot easier to throw out great support when you have great products, but you can certainly have great products and see those products undermined and the organization undermined by less than the best on the front line.

Larry O’Connor: We treat our customers the way that we want to be treated when we’re on the other side of the equation. We want to be treated with intelligence, we want to be treated from a point of view that, yes, it’s not an on/off switch that we’ve missed and we don’t need to go through ten steps to get to the part that we know is the issue and it’s definitely about having a team that embraces technology and is willing to learn.

Larry O’Connor: I can’t really put a finger on it, other than to say we’ve got great leadership in our customer team, we have great people that have come on board that make the OWC difference for everybody.

Larry Jordan: There’s another 800 pound gorilla in the retail arena, which is Apple stores, and Apple also makes a big point of focusing on meeting customer needs and not having commission driven sales reps. How do you co-exist, if not compete, with the Apple retail store?

Larry O’Connor: Apple sells new Macs and we sell upgrades, so that people don’t necessarily have to buy a new Mac as often. That’s a competitive point, but we add value to what Apple’s already selling. That’s the way I would certainly see it. Now there are certainly stores, which by no means compete. We allow people to get more from those systems.

Larry O’Connor: There are really two different directions and, from where I sit, I don’t see them as a competitor. In a sense, they’re a competitor, depending upon what the action is, but if nothing else, we give options. We support at least a reasonable portion of their goals because people want to know that they have options that keep their machines going and have that longevity as opposed to…

Larry Jordan: So rather than compete with the Apple store, you enhance what they’re already selling?

Larry O’Connor: Absolutely positively. More Macs out there mean more systems that we get to ideally support down the road. Macs tend to have a much greater longevity than PCs and it’s amazing. Just the other day we dealt with a Mac that was, let alone four years old, but this system was even six or seven years old and, with a machine that was built a couple of years ago, quite frankly, depending what your applications are, there are still easy opportunities – and these aren’t hacks or things that are being strapped together – very easy, straightforward upgrade options that can make them outperform even some of the latest and greatest systems today, and that’s a lot of fun from my point of view and it’s really cost efficient.

Larry O’Connor: Again, it’s all about maximizing out those resources. If somebody has a good experience with a machine that they didn’t have to replace today, certainly it reinforces their position on buying another Mac when the time does come, when the other machine needs to either be retired or passed down and more likely passed down than retired because these systems tend to have great longevity.

Larry Jordan: I was just doing the math. You’ve been running OWC for more than 25 years. How do you keep yourself from getting burned out?

Larry O’Connor: Technology’s always changing and I have to say it’s a lot of fun. There’s always something new on the horizon. We have a really prolific pipeline in terms of the new products that we have coming down the road here and, as far as the burnout side, I enjoy the challenge. I have a team around me that certainly enjoys the challenge and we keep it fun. That’s the bottom line.

Larry O’Connor: I’ve been running at full bore for a very long time and to take a step back, I think that would be a lot more difficult. Bottom line, it’s just fun. If you keep it fun, it keeps you young and certainly burnout doesn’t enter the equation with that scenario.

Larry Jordan: Thinking of learning new things, I was wandering about on your website and saw about your new green office headquarters with wind generated electricity and I had just one question. Why?

Larry O’Connor: It all comes down to maximizing the use of resources and I’ll just put this right out there – I don’t believe in going green just for the sake of going green if the cost to do so exceeds the long term cost benefits of making such an investments and it’s probably not energy efficient. The cost of a solution, so to speak, tends to be in ratio to the energy that’s necessary to support that solution and in the case of wind, the RI was there. It’s a longer term RI but we’re not here for two or three or five years, we’re looking long term. If it’s a 20 year horizon, I don’t have a problem with that, quite frankly, and a longer term investment actually made sense.

Larry O’Connor: We happen to be in a really good quarter for wind and we have a 500 kilowatt wind generator on our facility. In the last month, we’ve produced roughly double what our entire operation consumed. The wind’s not always blowing and we’re actually looking at putting solar on our roof in Illinois, which we actually did in our Austen office, just three or four months ago that was energized.

Larry O’Connor: Solar has come a long way, wind is certainly something that, when the wind is blowing, it’s power to be tapped and whatever the resource may be, if we can be efficient at using it, I think that’s just the smart thing to do and we should take advantage of the technology to get the most from the resources around us.

Larry Jordan: There’s no shortage of wind in the Chicago area. For people who want to know where to go to learn more about OWC, what website do you recommend?

Larry O’Connor: is a great place to explore.

Larry Jordan: And the President and Founder of is Other World Computing’s Larry O’Connor and, Larry, thanks for joining us today. I enjoyed the visit.

Larry O’Connor: It’s a pleasure, Larry. I hope to be on again. Thank you very much.

Larry Jordan: I look forward to it. Take care. Bye bye.


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Larry Jordan: Brad Weyl is the Chief Operating Officer of ADS, which was founded in 1994. ADS was one of the first post production studios to offer digital video and audio services and, with the possible exception of running a visual effects facility, no part of our industry has seen more change and more competition than post production yet 20 years later, they’re still going strong. Hello, Brad, welcome. It’s good to have you with us. Tell us what ADS does.

Brad Weyl: ADS is a post production center here in Hollywood, California. We specialize in not only post production, so we have online suites with Avid and Final Cut. We also do a myriad of services when it comes to restoration, preservation and legacy library format distribution and preservation.

Larry Jordan: You’re the Chief Operating Officer, which means you get to watch all the nuts and bolts of the business. How has it evolved over the years since it was founded?

Brad Weyl: The premise of ADS is based on service, quality and value. Our goal is to offer not only to the studios, but to the many majors and the independents, an opportunity to experience quality service, fast turnaround and a value for their needs in not only finishing, but also in distribution of their product.

Larry Jordan: As I drive around the streets of Hollywood and Burbank, a lot of post facilities have closed their doors recently. What has it been that’s allowed ADS to keep going?

Brad Weyl: Unfortunately, the economy has taken its toll on certain facilities. I think that the never ending trend of the studios trying to do everything in-house and then out of house and certainly value and economy of scale is an issue for those folks and we appreciate that. I think it comes down to efficiency and being able to address the needs of the customer for pieces that are not necessarily a commodity but the one-off and the special needs that they have.

Larry Jordan: Are you seeing more of an interest in customization, or more of an interest in most popular services right now?

Brad Weyl: I don’t understand the question and the differentiation between the two.

Larry Jordan: I’ll ask a different question. I’m flexible. What are people buying the most of right now?

Brad Weyl: My core business is tailoring the need for getting the product out to the individual distribution point. We hit iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Google, YouTube and we also hit ABC, NBC, Fox. We tailor to the first run network television and we tailor to the independent feature finishing. So I think that the problem is that people have tried to do as much as they can in-house and there’s, be it the producer working in his office, working on his system there and the studios working in-house in their facility and they’re trying to go for automation in large volumes. But they still need the specialized individual care that they receive at an independent facility like ADS.

Larry Jordan: Has management changed the way they do business, especially with the economic downturn and budgets getting squeezed so badly and people wanting a lot more for a lot less? Has the business model changed?

Brad Weyl: Overall, yes. At ADS, I won’t say necessarily because we’ve always had the philosophy that, down to the individual order, every order’s important, every customer’s important and so we try and address it on an individual basis. We’re a large company when it comes to volume and scale. We’re a small company when it comes to individual customer attention and attention to detail on the orders.

Larry Jordan: How do you market the company? Are you selling to the same customers over and over or are you expanding your audience?

Brad Weyl: My goal is to certainly expand the customer base, but no, we’re a very well kept secret in Hollywood and I’d like to expand that. It’s not about marketing, it’s about servicing the customer and the immediate need of the order that’s in our house at this point and, again, we’re a distribution company. We’re a post production company. We hit a myriad of different services, but it comes down to dealing with 4K, 2K, high def, standard def and then dealing with file and tape based services and we try and make sure that we hit all of those on a need based on the customer. I service what the customer needs, not what I want to sell to them.

Larry Jordan: As a small business owner myself, I’ve finally come to the conclusion, after running this company for about ten years, that running a small company, or even a middle sized company, is a constant balancing of risk. You are trying to decide how much capital you risk to do something new or whether you reduce staff. How do you decide where the risk needs to be and where the balance point is?

Brad Weyl: I try to err on the side of additional capital expenditure. We do a tremendous amount of capital expenditure where we’re dealing with new technology. I’m not necessarily chasing new technology unless it’s something that has been adopted by my core customers, but we also do experiment and we try and go there. If I have a peak load or if I have a capacity issue, I throw dollars and people at it to make sure that I get it done for the customer.

Larry Jordan: So you’re always leaning forward and taking on just a little bit more risk, rather than playing it conservatively?

Brad Weyl: That would be fair, yes.

Larry Jordan: What have been the biggest obstacles the company has needed to overcome, aside from being the best kept secret in Hollywood?

Brad Weyl: I think the obstacles are the fact that, while we try to partner with our customers, I would greatly appreciate more insight into what their future technology needs are so that we could anticipate it a little better. We are a post post company, so I take finished material. My core business is finished material, I re-purpose it, I do international and domestic distribution of that along with finishing, and if I get a more forward look from my customers as to what their need is, I would gladly partner with them to make sure that I’m geared up for it.

Larry Jordan: If you were to give advice to another small or medium sized business owner, something that’s stood you in good stead, what would it be?

Brad Weyl: Listen to your staff and your customers.

Larry Jordan: Why is that so important?

Brad Weyl: Because anybody could throw a bunch of money at a lot of equipment and build a post production company, but without the people doing the work, it won’t get done. There’s no such thing as automation in our technology and how we’re dealing with this and there’s no rulebook to it.  So you have to listen to your staff, you have to trust them and you have to listen to your customers and what they want and then you make sure that you find a balance between cost and profit and try and stay in business, and we’ve been very successful for 20 years and thanks to our customers and our staff, we want to do that for another 20 years.

Larry Jordan: Brad, what website can people go to to learn more?

Brad Weyl: You can reach us at

Larry Jordan: Brad Weyl is the Chief Operating Officer of ADS. Brad, thanks for joining us today.

Brad Weyl: Thank you.

Larry Jordan: Continuing our exploration of companies that are successful brings me to our next guest and, in today’s world of got to have it now and it had better be online, it’s nice to know that there’s still a market for high quality design and printed work, and that’s the world of G2 Graphic Services. Dan Borunda is the Director of Sales and Marketing for G2. Hello, Dan, welcome.

Dan Borunda: Hello and thank you for having me.

Larry Jordan: I am having a great time on this show because we’re getting so many different perspectives on what it takes to run a successful business as opposed to design movies and buy the latest gear and nobody understands running a business better than the guy that’s got the gun pointed at him saying, “Generate the revenue,” which is where you fit in.

Dan Borunda: Exactly.

Larry Jordan: What does G2 do?

Dan Borunda: G2 is a full service communications company and we are a fully vertically integrated company, from Sheetfed digital printing, design, CAD prototyping, displays, 3D work, packaging, custom signage and… So we are a true one stop resource and the vertical integration aspect of what we do and the passion for what we do and the speed at which we do it definitely sets us apart in the industry.

Larry Jordan: That was a nice reading of your laundry list. Man, did you have that memorized?


Dan Borunda: No, no, no, since I’m the marketing guy, I have this burned in my brain, because I’ve been on camera live and I’ve been on trade show floors and I’ve had phone calls that I get out of the blue, so it’s definitely part of my subconscious mind.

Larry Jordan: If my notes serve me correctly, G2 began in 1969. What’s the story behind the founding of the company?

Dan Borunda: Well, it’s a great story about a man, John Beard Senior, who had a desire to start a business on basically a simple premise. He loved photography, he loved working with imagery and things like that and he decided to open up a small 900 square feet building in Hollywood. It was very humble, there was no parking. I think he just had one swamp cooler and one film processer and he basically was just doing film work – imaging film, camera film and things like that – and it just evolved from there. Where customers were coming to him and saying, “Mr. Beard, can you not only process our film, but could you actually also take some pictures for us?” And his attitude always was to say yes to the customer in every instance.

Dan Borunda: Don’t ever say no to the customer. That was one of the interesting aspects of learning about John Beard Senior that I was so impressed with, was that he is so customer-centric. All decisions that are made here are based on what the customer needs and he always says, it’s funny, when we’re meeting with him, whatever we’re talking about, he always says, “Don’t ever say no. We will find a way to get it done,” and that really, the whatever it takes motto that the company has stayed with for some time, I think communicates the very fabric or the soul of the company, where you have people who are so committed to the customer and it’s a very passionate, it’s a very intense thing because we’re often put into deadlines which are not human and we just do it, we just get it done. It’s great because we have such a great team here that works so seamlessly that we can do the miraculous. There’s always a quip of a mission is always possible here at G2 and that’s really what we run with, or what I run with in terms of how I frame things in terms of talking about the company.

Larry Jordan: We were talking with Larry O’Connor, who’s the President of OWC, in the first segment. And then we were talking with Brad Weyl, who is with ADS Hollywood and both of them said, “A customer-centric focus is critical to their success.”

Dan Borunda: Oh, definitely.

Larry Jordan: But I think if you poked any company and said, “What’s important?” The knee-jerk reaction is, “Well, customers are our most important client,” but how do you back that up? Because it’s easy to say.

Dan Borunda: Yes, it’s easy to say that. I think the key thing, peeling that back a little bit further, is that, if you had to pin me down, say, three pillars of how to be successful or how to push forward and how we’ve done it, is that we don’t stand still. We have evolved as a company. When a customer has a need, we analyze the need, we see what scope of our customer base is saying that – does it seem to be a consensus with a number of people? – And we go out and acquire the equipment and make it happen and service that need.

Dan Borunda: You can never stand still, I think that’s one of the key pillars. Also, I was listening to the other interview and I think he was talking about this a little bit too, listening to your customers and responding to their needs and, as I said before, don’t ever say no. I think also one of the key things too is that all your business decisions, all of them, whether it be service acquisitions or even how you decorate your lobby, what you put in your conference room, needs to be with your customers in mind – What do they like? What do they want? It’s really the core aspect of understanding your customer on a very gut level.

Dan Borunda: I would say beyond that, peeling it back even further, on more of a psychological level, listen to them, whether it be an email, a blog or feedback you’re getting on your Facebook page or in social media. You’re really being attentive to that and then you’re going further and you’re asking questions and you’re asking them, “What do you think about this?” or “How have we been doing this for you in this way?” And I think that it’s really, really key that you are very, very attentive and that you’re properly disseminating the information that’s coming back from your customers. I think that is such a foundational principle and it may sound like a cliché in business, but we have done very well by listening and acting. Not just listening, but going further – acting. You have to act.

Dan Borunda: There are so many companies that have died because they’ve stood still, particularly in the printing industry. They have not reacted. They have just stuck in the same hole of “We’re just going to print a brochure and that’s all we’re going to do,” and if a customer walks in the door and says, “You know what? I need something designed,” “I’m sorry, that’s not what we do,” those companies die. Those companies have no future.

Dan Borunda: You have to be solutions based, you have to attack it from the standpoint of what do my customers need, and maybe it’s not print. Maybe what they need is a good web page or maybe what they need is a good logo design. Maybe what they need to do is create different imagery on their packaging or on the signage of the store fronts of their buildings, so you have to be all about solutions. You have to be in the creative part of solving a customer’s problem. You have to have a seat at the table.

Larry Jordan: Wait, wait, wait, wait.

Dan Borunda: Ok.

Larry Jordan: There’s a balance, because you can throw money at a problem and go bankrupt buying the latest technology. How do you balance the risk of plunging boldly forward with being able to stay in business?

Dan Borunda: Well, I think, as I mentioned, what we’ve done is that we have really quantified the feedback that we’re getting. In other words, it’s not just somebody saying “Gosh, can you do this?” And we get a few calls and things like that, but when we’re seeing a number of customers saying that they have the same type of need and we’re looking at it going, “You know what? We need to respond to that need, because what this customer’s going to end doing is going to a vendor, going to a competitor.”

Dan Borunda: We never want to lose any business. So I think it’s quantifying and qualifying the need and looking at it from the scope of, Are we really getting this question? Is this need continuing to come up? In those situations, you definitely need to respond and do it and in that sense it makes sense because you know that the business is there to sustain the acquisition.

Larry Jordan: As I listen to your description, when I wasn’t working in television I was working in graphics design and had the great pleasure of meeting many, many companies that do work similar to yours and yet, in the digital age, so many of these companies that specialized in printing and graphics design have either collapsed or become consumed by a different company; and the other thing is that everybody now has the tools – Photoshop and Illustrator – on their own desktop to do professional grade design. How is it that you stand out from the competition and continue to be successful? Is it simply listening to the customer?

Dan Borunda: Well, it’s listening but also it is looking out. I’m the strategy guy and I’m also the research guy. I’m constantly looking ahead and looking at the marketplace and looking at the trends in our industry and one of the things – I’m a book nut and I’m a research nut and I’m a strategic thinker – and a lot of the data that I’m looking at speaks to the need for a company to be a solutions provider, but to offer specialized services, or as they say ancillary services. And those are graphic design, specialty packaging, retail, indoor, outdoor signage, mailing variable data, fulfillment, warehousing, and also 3D work.

Dan Borunda: We’ve actually launched into 3D vacuum form printing, which has been a huge success because people are looking for different ways to promote their products and the studies came back with, one particular study that I looked at with respect to displays where one company actually increased their sales or their coupon distribution by 188 percent simply by creating a three dimensional character for their coupon dispenser. It was more or less like it was an image of a shark coming out of a wall, so it wasn’t just a flat image of a shark. The shark came out of the wall and it was actually for Baskin Robbins, and Baskin Robbins had phenomenal success by using a three dimensional image.

Dan Borunda: That got us thinking and now, again, customer-centric. Is it successful? Is it selling? Does it make sense? We were hearing back from customers left and right, particularly at the WonderCon show which we attended, and they said, “Oh my gosh, you do three dimensional printing. I want to meet with you,” and we’ve had an amazing, amazing response to just that one service. But again, it speaks to offering the specialized services.

Dan Borunda: As I said before, you can’t just be a printer. You have to have those specialized ancillary services so that you are more of a niche player and you’re developing niches for your business and then people see you as a multi-dimensional resource and you know what? They start calling you because they assume that you can figure it out because you can provide that solution. Again, I think you really need to be fluid in your business approach, as well as in your service offerings and that’s what we’ve found to be very successful for us.

Larry Jordan: it also sounds to me like you’re trying not to be all things to all people, but try to go deep in the areas that you do cover.

Dan Borunda: Exactly, exactly, exactly, and offer something that’s unique and that people are looking for. Once I saw the data, as a marketing guy, I just went completely crazy, and sure enough what was great is that we tried it out. We went to the WonderCon show with the purpose of exploring if this need was really valid and we stepped out onto the floor and I can’t tell you the number of people who came up.

Dan Borunda: From an animated film, we had a title treatment for ‘The Lorax’ and we had kids, we had adults, we had people coming up saying, “Oh my gosh, you can do this? This would be great on our store front,” or “This would be great as a point of purchase display,” and it just caught fire. At that point I go, “This is a great example of research that’s validated with the consumer.” And since I’m a nut about that and I love that anyway, for me to have that validation from a consumer was great. Next to my marriage and the birth of my kids, that’s it for me, man. I love that kind of stuff.

Larry Jordan: Help me understand. What do you see as the difference between sales and marketing? You wear both hats.

Dan Borunda: I think what marketing should do – maybe in the simplest terms – is marketing should point you to where the fish are and not just any fish but the targeted fish that you are pursuing, that are the most profitable. The way marketing works with sales is marketing is actually directing your efforts to the right market. For instance, let me make that more of a practical aspect. For us, what we’re doing is that we’re finding success in the cosmetic industry. The cosmetic industry is recession proof and they’re still spending money. The other industries like the natural food industry, there’s a $90 billion industry that’s just amazingly fluid and growing and that’s another industry that we’re also into. As well as the entertainment industry which, believe it or not, has definitely recovered and so we do work with the major studios and we’re very active in the entertainment world as well.

Dan Borunda: Also the gaming industry because it’s still incredibly profitable and we do quite a bit of work in those markets. But that again is a product of marketing, that is a product of looking back and saying, “Ok, where are the growth markets? Where are the profitable service sectors?” And that’s where you point your guns, and that’s where you point your sales people, and that’s where you position your company at trade shows, and you hawk out to them in various other venues and social media and whatnot. I think that’s how marketing should work – it points you to where that pot of gold is.

Larry Jordan: Where’s the pot of gold coming up in the next year, 18 months? What are you looking at?

Dan Borunda: What we’re finding is the pot of gold is tracing back into the whole aspect of web to print ecommerce, branded store fronts, web development services, integrated marketing services like design, product research and signage and media marketing support, which would then involve video production and social media services. All those avenues are really the future of where our company is going to be heading. So again, being a solutions provider, when we are in a meeting and the customer is saying, “Well, I really want to promote our product or service at this particular venue,” then the answer isn’t always, “Well, I’ll print you a brochure,” or “I’ll design you a website.”

Dan Borunda: Maybe what it also involves is, “Hey, we need to do a short video for you that you can put on YouTube,” and so that’s the kind of thought processes that you need to start developing. Again, much more of a creative solutions provider and that’s the direction where we’re going to be heading. That’s really what we’re looking at, and also augmented reality, different aspects of what you can do now in print by creating little scanned icons that can be scanned by a phone and actually you can see videos and do some brilliant, incredible things. We’re also going to be looking at 3D and taking 3D printing further and actually creating animation within the 3D so that you can actually create, let’s say, a model at a cosmetics show and have her animated. In other words, have a clear image of a face that you would animate behind it with video and she would be speaking. Those are the directions that we’re going in the creative aspect and that’s where we feel that where ultimately our future is.

Larry Jordan: As you look back on the last four or five years and at another small to medium sized company that’s trying to figure out what they need to do to be successful, aside from product, what advice would you give them on tips to really focus on what it takes to make their business grow?

Dan Borunda: I think that the key thing is really understanding the marketplace, understanding the marketplace of where they’re selling to, looking at the growth trends, understanding where the profitability and where the business really is. And I think most companies, what they do wrong is they just go buy a big piece of equipment, assuming that, since somebody else is doing it, that they’re going to copy it. But they don’t understand the market, they just jump into it and they fail because they don’t understand the marketplace, they don’t understand the customer. Since I’m a research nut, I’m always going to go back to what worked for me, which is you have to research the heck out of your industry.

Dan Borunda: You have to understand it inside and out and you have to understand it extremely well and watch the trends and look at what’s happening in your market and then customize or skew your business to meet those trends and make smart choices about your acquisitions, as well as the type of people you hire. We had a company that’s local to us that basically abandoned their printing equipment and they just became a solutions provider, and pure creative and they have grown phenomenally well.

Dan Borunda: They had their best year last year and he was one of the individual who was kind of my mentor early on when I was listening to him and I was just saying, “Look, what are you doing?” You know, when someone’s incredibly successful, I always listen to them or read their book or whatever and he was talking about that we understand our market, we know where our pot of gold is and we have geared our company to pursue it and we staffed up appropriately, and that was the other key aspect of it and that was one thing that I always remember. He goes, “You have to have the right staff to meet the market need. You really have to pay attention to who you’re hiring,” and I thought, “That’s brilliant and that makes sense,” and, again, that’s what most people are not thinking about. Who’s on your team? Is your team capable of fulfilling the needs of your market?

Dan Borunda: You have to have everybody marching in the same direction to the same drum and be totally qualified and capable to meet the needs of that particular market, and I thought that was brilliant and that’s something that I’m certainly working on myself, in terms of who we choose to hire here at G2, and the caliber, and the capacity, and the direction of this person and whether they fit into that typical person that we’re looking for.

Larry Jordan: Dan, for people who want to learn more about what G2 is up to, where can they go on the web?

Dan Borunda: They can go to and ask for me, Dan, and I’d be happy to talk to them and, again, I just appreciate the opportunity to talk about a venture dear to me.

Larry Jordan: Oh, it’s our pleasure. Glad to have you with us. The website is and Dan Borunda is the Director of Sales and Marketing for G2. Dan, thanks for joining us today.
Dan Borunda: Oh, thank you so much.

Larry Jordan: Take care. Bye bye.

Dan Borunda: Bye.

Larry Jordan: As I look back and reflect on the guests that we’ve talked with today, a couple of things become clear. First is a deep knowledge of the products that they’re selling; but second, to focus not just on the customer, but a focus on the customer’s needs and trying to figure out what the customer needs and anticipate it. The other thing that struck me was a comment that Brad made when he said that he’s willing to invest money to lean forward and lean into opportunities rather than being conservative and wait for the opportunities to come to him. I thought that risk interested strategy was a good one and I appreciate all the comments that our guests made during today’s show. Starting with Larry O’Connor, the Founder and CEO of OWC, which is Other World Computing; Brad Weyl, the COO of ADS in Hollywood; and Dan Borunda, the Director of Sales and Marketing for G2.

Larry Jordan: There’s a lot happening at The Buzz between shows and the best place to find it is at You can talk with us on Twitter, @dpbuzz, and Facebook, at

Larry Jordan: Music on The Buzz is provided by SmartSound. The Buzz is streamed by Text transcripts are provided by Take 1 Transcription and when you get lonely and want to send a note with an idea, then send it to

Larry Jordan: Our producer is Cirina Catania, our engineer is Adrian Price. On behalf of Mike Horton, who has the night off, my name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to the Digital Production Buzz.

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Digital Production Buzz — May 8, 2014

  • Inside Other World Computing
  • 20 Years and Still Growing. How?
  • Growing a Family-Run Graphics Business

GUESTS: Brad Weyl, Larry O’Connor, and Dan Borunda

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Join Larry Jordan and co-host Michael Horton as they talk with:

Larry O’Connor, President & Founder, Other World Computing

Larry O’Connor started Other World Computing (OWC) when he was 14. Many, many years have passed and OWC is still going strong. Larry shares his thoughts on running a successful business and what it takes to survive in today’s economy.

Brad Weyl, COO, ADS

Brad Weyl is the COO of ADS, a Hollywood-based digital video and audio services company. Recently, they celebrated 20 years in business. This week, Brad explains the secrets to their business success.

Dan Borunda, Director of Sales & Marketing, G2

This week, we look at “The Secret to Success.” Dan Borunda is the Director of Sales and Marketing for G2, a family-owned graphics business. In operation since 1969, Dan talks with us this week about their secrets to long-term business survival.

The Buzz is all the information you need now to know what’s coming next!

The Digital Production BuZZ airs LIVE Thursday from 6-7 PM Pacific Daylight Time. Ask questions during the show on our Live Chat, listen live, download an episode from the archives, or subscribe to the podcast either through iTunes or our website. Whatever you do, DON’T miss this week’s show!

Digital Production Buzz — May 1, 2014

  • Work, Motherhood, and Filmmaking
  • Creating DVD and Blu-ray Discs
  • Looking for a Creative Edge

GUESTS: Gesine Thomson, Bruce Nazarian, and Joel Edwards

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Join Larry Jordan and co-host Michael Horton as they talk with:

Gesine Thomson, Filmmaker/Futurist/Architect

Gesine Thomson, Filmmaker/Futurist/Architect and speaker at TEDx, talks about work, motherhood and filmmaking in honor of next week’s Mother’s Day celebration.

Bruce Nazarian, CEO, Digital Media Consulting Group, Inc.

DVDs and Blu-ray Discs are NOT dead — especially if you want to distribute your film yourself. Bruce Nazarian, CEO of the Digital Media Consulting Group, tells us everything we need to know about creating a DVD master for your independent feature release.

Joel Edwards, Founder/Director, Evolve

Evolve, based in Chicago and spearheaded by founder and Director, Joel Edwards, is producing some pretty amazing work on behalf of their clients, such as National Geographic, ABC, and ESPN. Joel joins us to share some of their secrets.

The Buzz is all the information you need now to know what’s coming next!

The Digital Production BuZZ airs LIVE Thursday from 6-7 PM Pacific Daylight Time. Ask questions during the show on our Live Chat, listen live, download an episode from the archives, or subscribe to the podcast either through iTunes or our website. Whatever you do, DON’T miss this week’s show!