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Transcript: Digital Production Buzz – June 26, 2014

Digital Production Buzz

June 26, 2014

[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]


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Larry Jordan

Mike Horton


Jonathan Handel, of Counsel, Troy Gould

Jim Jachetta, CEO, VidOvation

Sean Mullen, CEO & Lead Creative, Rampant Design Tools

Philip Hodgetts, President, Intelligent Assistance


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 TOLISGroup, 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 is our co-host, finally, the ever handsome Mr. Mike Horton. Welcome, Mike, it’s good to have you back.

Mike Horton: Well, it’s good to be back, but it’s been a long time since you’ve been back.

Larry Jordan: Yes, I tell you, between the two of us, we’ve sort of been apart for a while.

Mike Horton: You’ve just got back from Seattle.

Larry Jordan: I got back from Seattle, I was doing some stuff for CreativeLive and last week was London and you were in New York.

Mike Horton: I was in New York and you were in London.

Larry Jordan: You didn’t send me a postcard.

Mike Horton: Then you went to Seattle and, by the way, I saw some of that on the first day at CreativeLive, which by the way, for those of you who haven’t checked out CreativeLive, it’s really good. It’s three day classes and you taught one on Final Cut Pro 10, I saw the Monday class. You are a good teacher, Larry.

Larry Jordan: Listen, coming from you, that is a high compliment.

Mike Horton: No, it was actually really good. I saw several hours of it. Well, I was working and I’d come back to you and… I had the two screens set up, so it was working out really well.

Larry Jordan: That’s very cool.

Mike Horton: Yes, good job.

Larry Jordan: And how was New York?

Mike Horton: It was so much fun. It’s been so many years since I’ve been there. It’s been, what, about five, eight years, something like that. It’s completely changed. It’s now clean and very expensive. It’s very expensive.

Larry Jordan: Well, welcome back. We are glad to have you with us.

Mike Horton: It’s great to be back.

Larry Jordan: We’ve got some great guests tonight. We’re going to start. The Supreme Court issued a decision in the Aereo case. We first covered this in April of this year as the arguments were presented in court and tonight Jonathan Handel joins us to explain this week’s Supreme Court ruling.

Larry Jordan: Jim Jachetta is the Founder and CEO of VidOvation. They specialize in moving video from Point A to Point B. Recently, they developed a wireless monitoring solution that’s currently being used by the NHL and tonight, not only does he explain what this NHL magic is, but why it’s so difficult to move video around the world.

Larry Jordan: Sean Mullen is the CEO of Rampant Design Tools. Sean is both a creative designer and the President of his own business. This week, we talk with him about how he balances the competing demands of the two.

Larry Jordan: And earlier this week, Philip Hodgetts, who’s the President of Intelligent Assistance, moderated a panel at the Creative Storage conference in Burbank. Increasingly, storage is the most critical component of any editing system and this conference looks at the future of storage. Tonight, we talk with Philip about what was presented and what we can look forward to.

Larry Jordan: Just a reminder, we are offering text transcripts for each show, courtesy of Take 1 Transcription. Now you can quickly scan or print the contents of each show, as well as listen to it. Transcripts are located on each show page. You can learn more at and thanks, Take 1, for making this possible.

Larry Jordan: Mike, I understand that a happy anniversary is appropriate.

Mike Horton: That is correct.

Larry Jordan: Well, happy anniversary.

Mike Horton: Last night was our 14th anniversary.

Larry Jordan: Of?

Mike Horton: Of LAFCPUG, or as it’s now called, LACPUG, or LAC-PUG or however you want to pronounce it, it’s the Los Angeles Creative Pro User Group now.

Larry Jordan: 14 years you’ve been doing this.

Mike Horton: 14 years. I know, I was sort of waxing eloquent about it last night and got a little teary eyed and started to wonder, “14 years? What the hell have I been doing for 14 years?”

Larry Jordan: You’ve got to get a life, guy.

Mike Horton: But it’s still going, it’s still hanging in there. We’ve been around for 14 years and I think we’ve done some good.

Larry Jordan: Congratulations. I know you’ve done some good, it’s been a meaningful part of the community for a long time.

Larry Jordan: Remember to visit us with on Facebook, at; Twitter, @dpbuzz, and I’m going to be right back with Jonathan Handel and the latest news from the Supreme Court, right after this.

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Larry Jordan: Jonathan Handel is of counsel at Troy Gould. He’s also the entertainment labor reporter for the Hollywood Reporter and now he is our man on the beat with the latest information on a significant Supreme Court ruling this week. Hello, Jonathan, welcome back.

Jonathan Handel: Well, hi Larry, how are you?

Larry Jordan: Well, we are talking to you and I am curious – what is the Supreme Court doing this week?

Jonathan Handel: Well, they’ve had a busy week. It’s the last week of their term and you see opinions tumbling out like bread from a bread box.

Mike Horton: Yes.

Jonathan Handel: In this instance, what we’re talking about is the Aereo case. Aereo, of course, is the service that allows you, or up until now has allowed you if you lived in certain parts of the country, to receive live broadcast television on your mobile device or other internet connected device. The Supreme Court is not happy with the way Aereo set up its business model, though, and we won’t see Aereo around for much longer, it looks like.

Larry Jordan: Well, what they were doing is they were doing small independent antennae, one antenna for each viewer, and they thought that this would be a way of getting around the copyright. This is not a technical issue, it’s a copyright issue, isn’t it?

Jonathan Handel: Well, it’s a technical issue very tightly intertwined with a copyright issue. As you say, the way Aereo works is that they have antennae farms, tens of thousands of dime sized antennae mounted directly on circuit boards, not like the antenna you’d go out and buy if you were to buy an antenna for your HD TV, the size of a fingernail, and when a user decides, “I want to watch a show live,” let’s say, because there’s also a DVR function that wasn’t at issue here, what happens is an antenna gets assigned to that user, the signal flows from that antenna to a specific portion of the hard drive for that user, then flows from the hard drive to that user. That technical distinction was one that Aereo thought made a difference.

Jonathan Handel: There’s a time delay, there’s a seven second time delay as things are played back off the hard drive and Aereo said, “We really, in the way we’re implemented, are a lot like a remote storage DVR,” which the lower courts have found legal. The Supreme Court said, though, “Look, that technical detail is really under the hood. It doesn’t matter to the end user and it doesn’t matter to the broadcasters who aren’t getting paid license fees. What this really looks like is a cable system. We are going to take a look and say, look, this basically walks and quacks like a duck. We think it is a duck.”

Larry Jordan: So what has Aereo said since the opinion was issued?

Jonathan Handel: Well, they’ve said ouch. They said prior to the opinion that if the court found against them, then that would be the end of Aereo. That was what Barry Diller in particular said just the day before, he’s a major investor. There are somewhere between 50 and 100 million dollars invested in this company, by the way, in total. What Aereo’s President, Chet Kanojia, said the next day was, “We are going to continue to fight. This is a bad decision. It’s going to harm consumers. We’re going to continue to fight for consumers’ rights,” but how they’re going to do that in the face of a decision that basically shuts them down is really quite unclear.

Mike Horton: Yes, from the opening arguments, though, it sounded like Aereo was dead anyway. What’s surprising about this decision is that there was any dissenting opinion. I would have thought nine to zero would have been it.

Jonathan Handel: What I found surprising was that Breyer wrote this decision, because he is a copyright minimalist in general and very pro-technology, but it was a dissent by three Conservatives, written by Scalia, not a typical alignment here, and what Scalia said is, “Look, the court is ignoring the text of the copyright law. The copyright law may create what amounts to a loophole for this kind of thing, but it’s not the court’s job,” says Scalia, “to plug loopholes in statutes.

Jonathan Handel: Remember, this is not a constitutional case, this is a statutory case. Copyright law, that’s up to Congress. We’re not sitting as a Super Congress to rewrite the copyright law,” and what the court did, in his view, was simply step away from the statue and made the decision that it wanted to reach without having a firm basis for doing so, so it’s a decision that came under pretty heavy fire in that dissent.

Larry Jordan: Jonathan, I think there’s some bigger implications here, not just for technology but for low cost consumer access to broadcast television. What we’d like to do is invite you back and see if we can’t talk about this further. Would that be possible in the next week or two, for you to spare us some time?

Jonathan Handel: I think I could find some time. I would love to do that.

Mike Horton: That’d be great. There are a lot of questions.

Larry Jordan: Thanks so much for your time, thanks for the update and we are going to continue looking at this case, both in the short and the long term. Jonathan Handel is of Counsel at Troy Gould. You can read his website at and, Jonathan, thanks so much for your time.

Jonathan Handel: Thank you both very much.

Larry Jordan: Take care. Bye bye.

Jonathan Handel: Bye bye.

Larry Jordan: Jim Jachetta is the Founder and President of VidOvation. For over 20 years, Jim’s been designing, integrating and delivering video, fiber optic and data communications systems and recently they’ve expanded into wireless video with some new technology being used by the NHL. Hello, Jim, welcome.

Jim Jachetta: Hi, thanks for having me. Pleasure to be here.

Larry Jordan: We are delighted to have you with us and let’s start with a really easy question. First, tell us about what VidOvation is.

Jim Jachetta: VidOvation is a video communications company. We manufacture solutions for wireless, solutions for fiber optic transmission, for webcasting, we make encoders to stream video over your corporate network or through the internet, but in a nutshell we help our clients move video from Point A to Point B and our tagline is ‘Moving video forward’, so we’re staying up to date with the latest technologies such as what we did for the National Hockey League, using 60 gigahertz transmission for uncompressed wireless video.

Larry Jordan: Let’s just take a second. We understand that you guys are in the business of moving video, but you’re one of the founders of the company. Why did you decide to start the company? What made that so intriguing to you?

Jim Jachetta: Well, I guess I have my dad to blame for that. My dad had an entrepreneurial spirit. My dad was an engineer at ABC, CBS and his longest and final stint was at NBC, so he worked at 30 Rock for about 12 years before starting a company called MultiDine and, as kids, my brother and I, we always worked for our dad so junior high we helped stuff circuit boards and build a lot of his audio visual equipment, so it’s in our DNA and my dad was a great problem solver and my brother and I have inherited that work ethic of doing the never been done before and solving our clients’ problems or helping with their business workflow.

Larry Jordan: I don’t want to sound too naive here, but what are the challenges in moving video? You’ve got a cable that plugs into the back of a camera, it plugs into the back of a switcher or a distribution outlet. What makes moving video such a challenge?

Jim Jachetta: It’s interesting that you ask that. One of the first hurdles that a lot of people struggle with is copyright protection, so when you want to move video from Point A to Point B, that content is owned by a television network, whether it’s an HBO, an NBC or a Warner Bros, and it’s all under the premise of preventing piracy and having the content bootlegged or distributed illegally.

Jim Jachetta: What that does is make the transmission difficult of some of these video signals, so we have to come up with ways of transmission that comply with the digital rights management or the copyright of that particular content to keep the studios happy and yet give ease of distribution to our customers, so moving video from Point A to Point B. In the case of the National Hockey League, it wasn’t so much about a copyright or a rights issue.

Jim Jachetta: It really was how do I get video out of a hostile environment inside of a hockey goal, where I can’t run a cable, I don’t have power, I can’t run electricity under ice because there’s water involved, we don’t want to electrocute a goalie. Every application is different and that’s where we thrive. The harder the project, the more fun we have.

Larry Jordan: What got you involved in wireless in the first place?

Jim Jachetta: At our old company, we specialized in fiber optics, at least prior to my departure from MultiDine, so I always felt that wireless, video over IP, compression and streaming were parts of video communications that we didn’t address at the old company. The old company’s doing very well in the fiber space, so I wanted to see what else was out there and wireless was one of our first areas and our most successful area to date.

Larry Jordan: One of the challenges of wireless is bandwidth. Video is just a massive bandwidth hog. How do you manage to get high quality video out of a wireless signal?

Jim Jachetta: Absolutely, that’s a great question. Bandwidth is a big part of it, but also congestion or, in layman’s terms, high usage. We have different frequencies or different bands, radio waves that we can use. In laymen’s terms, with your FM dial, you have different radio stations. Certain radio bands are restricted, other radio bands are open to everyone, some are licensed, some are unlicensed and by licensed I mean the FCC wants a fee to use them, unlicensed meaning anybody can use them for free.

Jim Jachetta: The wifi bands in the 2.4 gig and the 5 gig bands – I hope I’m not getting too technical – your wireless in your home, in your office, in your cell phone uses these 2.4 and 5 gigahertz bands. They’re great and we offer commercial and broadcast products that use these bands. The negative is that everyone’s using these bands and if you want to stream from a hockey goal camera or if you’re on the sidelines with a wireless camera system, you’re fighting for bandwidth and congestion usage with the spectators.

Jim Jachetta: There are 20,000, 50,000, 100,000 fans at a football game – how are you going to transmit your video out when you’re competing with all those cell phones in the venue?

Mike Horton: Maybe I don’t understand, but are you actually sharing the bandwidth with all those 100,000 people with the cell phones? Don’t you have your own network?

Jim Jachetta: Yes you are. Well, yes, you can have different networks in the same space, but then the networks will interfere with each other, so it’s like the traffic jams here in LA. We’ve got too many cars for the amount of road. You could think about it as we might each have our own lane, but if the highway’s jammed, the highway’s jammed. The spectators might have one lane, the broadcaster’s got another lane, another provider’s got a third lane, but if all the lanes are jammed, nobody’s going anywhere.

Mike Horton: Nothing is as simple as we think it is, is it?

Jim Jachetta: Right, right.

Larry Jordan: Let’s see. What you’re doing with the NHL is you’ve got a wireless camera which can be remote controlled with power that’s supplied with a battery at the camera, simply to make sure that the goals are, well, you can review them for replays. Do I have that correct?

Jim Jachetta: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Mike Horton: Oh, and it’s absolutely awesome too. We live in Los Angeles, as you know, so we watch the Kings/Rangers final and that was a big, big part of it, was those replays of the goals, so good job.

Jim Jachetta: Gary Bettman and the NHL did a tremendous job this year. They got a little bit of a black eye with the lockout last season and they came back with a vengeance. They did the Winter Classic at the Big House in Michigan with the Red Wings and the Leafs; they won an award for that. Bettman won an award for Sports Executive of the Year; and the six outdoor stadium games, the game in LA, the Dodgers and Kings wasn’t that crazy?

Mike Horton: Yes, the Dodgers’ stadium. It was awesome. It was wonderful.

Jim Jachetta: Dan Craig is like the VP of ice. I joke that he invented ice and he said, “Jimmy, I don’t know how I’m going to make ice in 60 degree weather. I don’t know how we’re going to do this. It’ll be night time,” but there was a hot spell during the week before the game. But back to why we chose 60 gigahertz. The NHL knew that the 5 gig band wasn’t desirable because of competition from spectators and other operators, so we chose 60 gig because no-one was using it, but it’s the best of both worlds.


Jim Jachetta: It’s unlicensed but, because of its directionality, it’s not susceptible to interference, nor does it cause interference, so it was like the best of both worlds. There were no licensing fees involved; due to its directionality it didn’t cause any interference, not susceptible to it, so the NHL was able to have a reliable bird’s eye view of that goal line. Did you see the plays, I think it was game four, where the puck got stuck on the ice, right onto Lundqvist there, did you see that?

Mike Horton: Oh, absolutely. That was from the goalie camera, right?

Jim Jachetta: Absolutely, absolutely. There’s a camera in the goal that moves. That’s rented or provisioned by NBC or CBC. Our shot was a still shot. We just watched that line. There’s a copy of it on our blog or it’s on the NHL YouTube channel and that’s what it’s all about, it’s that trickle. I mean, our camera will cost the fast shot but the fast shots are easy. If it bounces off a post in the back of the net, those are easy to detect. It’s the ones where it sneaks under the goalie and the goalie’s partially obstructing it, so that shot that was caught in game four was the sweet spot. That’s what our camera’s all about.

Mike Horton: Yeah, it just falls short about an inch. There were some great shots and there was a lot of heartbreak for the Rangers.

Larry Jordan: One of the things that you guys do is you work with a variety of clients. Your list is like a Who’s Who of broadcast networks. One of the things that I’m most interested in is you also specialize in webcasting and video streaming. There’s an interest there in both large companies and small trying to get their message out to the web. Where can you become helpful in that case?

Jim Jachetta: What we do is we make a system that will not only stream one camera, it’ll stream multiple cameras. Clients are being more sophisticated where they just don’t want a talking head on a webcam or even just a simple webcam and you want to switch between your Powerpoint presentation and your speaker or your moderator, or if you have a panel of people you might have a wide shot on the panel and then a tight shot on the person on the podium. We have systems that will do multi-camera shoots.

Jim Jachetta: We’ve also integrated some technology where we can do bonded cellular, so if you don’t have a LAN connection or a good wifi connection, you can stream over multiple cellular modems. If you’re traveling, doing seminars, trade shows, or guys like yourself, maybe you want to do your show on the road in remote locations, then the internet may be unpredictable in hotels and conference centers, so you could use a combination of wifi with some cellular and, by bonding small bandwidths together, make an aggregated bigger pipe to get your video or audio feed to the web.

Larry Jordan: Ok, but now I’m confused, because if I look at the switching technology that new tech provides, why would I consider VidOvation?

Jim Jachetta: Everybody loves Kiki Stockhammer, she doesn’t age. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her. 1989 was my first NAB and I think the toaster was their first product and Kiki was there. They make a nice product, I’m not going to say anything negative about that. We have solutions that fit below that, so if you don’t have the budget for a 20 or 30 thousand dollar TriCaster, we have systems that start at 3500 bucks, 4,000 bucks to do one or two cameras, so nothing against their products. We integrate some of the live view bonded cellular into our products, so that’s a little bit more of a value add for us.

Larry Jordan: But one of the challenges we’ve got with the web, in addition to getting sufficient upload speed, is there’s so much native latency inside the web. What can we do as video producers to get our program to look good when it hits the end user?

Jim Jachetta: It takes training. If you look at the guys on CNN and they’re like, “Ok, we’re here in Afghanistan,” and their anchors are trained to say, “Hello Bob, how’s it going in Afghanistan?” and they go, “Three, two, one,” because of the three or four second satellite delay. Now, a lot of our clients, when they’re going to go to somebody in the field and if they’re talking over bonded cellular and they’ve got an eight second count, they’ll start a ten count and they’ll give the reporter the cue at eight to start talking and they’re talking to them over a lower latency cellular line or IFB line, so there are ways to compensate for that, so by the time the anchor gets around to saying, “So, Barbara, how’s it going down in LA today?” you time it and you look at the latency a few minutes or 30 seconds before you’re going to go to the piece.

Jim Jachetta: There are ways around it. Net neutrality is a big issue with the cellular providers because they’re tied in to the consumer internet. Telecom companies for years have sold high speed networks to corporations a cut above the consumer grade connections, but the phone companies have been restricted in that it’s a violation of net neutrality to sell a broadcaster or a higher end client a fast lane, as it were, for the internet or to cellular.

Jim Jachetta: Cellular connectivity kind of gets bundled in with internet and it’s really different. It leads to the internet but it’s that first mile from the camera to the cell site that we need to have a fast lane for, or maybe the Verizons and AT&Ts need to build a different network for higher end use for broadcasters, a dedicated network for that.

Larry Jordan: In terms of your own company, what markets are you looking at for the next six to 12 months that look interesting to you?

Jim Jachetta: We’re doing a lot in sports and sports we look at as a sub-set of the broadcast industry. Broadcast includes TV stations, sports leagues, your NHLs. Sports is always a good segment. Independent TV networks are up and down. It seems like the people pulling the strings right now in television are the content owners, your Disneys, your major studios.

Jim Jachetta: Every other month there’s a channel that’s threatened to be blacked out on your local cable or satellite company because the content owners are putting the screws on the distributors or the distribution arm, so the industry is probably going to change but sports is always a good segment. People might lose their job, but they’re not going to get rid of their NFL package or their MLB package or their hockey. Sports is always a good segment.

Larry Jordan: Jim, for people who want more information about your company, where can they go on the web to learn more?

Jim Jachetta: They can go to

Larry Jordan: That’s Jim Jachetta is the CEO and Founder of VidOvation and, Jim, thanks for joining us today.

Jim Jachetta: Thank you for having me.

Mike Horton: Thanks, Jim, and go Kings.

Larry Jordan: Bye bye.

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Larry Jordan: It’s always worth watching Mike dance on the table during that short piece of music.

Mike Horton: I love that music.

Larry Jordan: Sean Mullen is the CEO of Rampant Design Tools. He’s also an Emmy award winning visual effects artist with over 60 feature film and television credits, including Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ally McBeal, ER, Nip, Tuck and many others. His company, Rampant Design Tools, specializes in creating original drag and drop visual elements for editors and VFX artists, which is part of what we want to talk about today. Hello, Sean.

Sean Mullen: Larry and Mike.

Mike Horton: Hey, Sean.

Larry Jordan: There you are.

Sean Mullen: How are you guys doing?

Mike Horton: Good.

Larry Jordan: We are talking to you, we are doing great. It’s good to have you back.

Sean Mullen: It’s always great to be here.

Larry Jordan: For folks in the audience who may not have heard of Rampant Design Tools or were napping just a few minutes ago…

Mike Horton: Then they’re not paying attention.

Larry Jordan: …how would you describe your company?

Sean Mullen: I would just say that we create, like you said before, drag and drop elements for editors. We create motion graphics and visual effects elements that are useful for everybody, whether you’re an editor, a compositor or motion graphics artist, but the great thing is that we’re platform and NLE agnostic, so it works in anything that can read a QuickTime movie.

Larry Jordan: You began your career as a designer and now you’re running a business. How do you balance the creative needs of a designer against the practical needs of meeting the payroll?

Sean Mullen: It’s hard because, like you said, I started out as an artist and so there’s always part of me that wants to create more and offer more and at some point you have to think of the business and go, “Well, it’s great that you want to give the end user 10,000 clips, but maybe 500 is ok,” or whatever it happens to be.

Larry Jordan: I want to concentrate a little bit on this whole concept of running a creative business with you for a few minutes, because the quality work you turn out is just amazing. Some of those tools and the visual elements are staggering, but there’s also the business of the business. How do you balance the need of running the business with creative? How much time do you spend on each? When do you work on each? Are you really focused that you get up at six in the morning and you create, or you sleep in until noon? How does that work?

Mike Horton: I know how it works – you hire your wife and just listen to whatever she wants.

Sean Mullen: A significant percentage of that is true. You have to be really liquid. Rampant is just myself and my wife, so there is no…

Mike Horton: See? Told you.

Sean Mullen: She’s a huge part of the company. I can’t do Rampant without her. There isn’t a set wake-up time or a set start time for creativity. I can’t stand being forced to be creative from ten ‘til noon, it’s not possible for me. When an idea hits, it hits. I don’t sleep very much, so that helps, but I find myself focused on the business first and the creative second because the creative will hit me when it hits me and oftentimes it hits me when I’m not thinking about the creative, if that makes any sense.

Mike Horton: Yes.

Larry Jordan: Mhmm, yes.

Sean Mullen: So you spend the majority of the time working on SEO, tracking traffic, looking at behavior patterns, getting feedback from friends, family and customers, dealing with the website, advertising, all that stuff, and that happens every single day, the social networking. You do that every single day and you’ll find that, whether you’re at the gym or you’re taking a walk or your working on QuickBooks, all of a sudden that thing will hit you and you’re, like, “I’ve got to go,” and then I run to the studio and I hammer out an idea.

Larry Jordan: You said it’s you and your wife and, like I said, the quality of your work is amazing, and for people who haven’t seen it, Rampant Design Tools is worth looking at, but there’s a trade off that you’ve made here, which is that you want to keep the company small as opposed to growing and making the company bigger. How come?

Sean Mullen: To stay competitive and to stay inside the country right now, I’ve got to be lean and mean. The idea is to grow eventually and hire people on board, but right now what we do is we do profit sharing. If one of my friends or someone I know has a specific skill that I can pass a certain project onto, instead of paying them a flat rate, they actually get a percentage of all the sales and it’s a high percentage. I’m not going to discuss that particular percentage, but it’s insanely high, high enough to make my wife want to slap me sometimes. But I like to take care of the people who take care of us.

Sean Mullen: Staying lean is important. There’s a lot of craziness going on, people are fleeing Hollywood and, in a lot of cases, production’s fleeing the country altogether. In order to combat all that, we’re way away from Hollywood, unfortunately, we’re in Orlando, where space is plentiful and cheap and we just have to make business conscious decisions on, yes, I can’t scrimp on the camera, I have an Epic, that is not a cheap camera, but I can maybe scrimp on not necessarily building out a state of the art studio versus getting a really nice studio instead, because it’s just me. It doesn’t need to look pretty for me, I don’t need to impress myself. That’s what we’re constantly doing.

Sean Mullen: My wife is a great checks and balances kind of person. I’ll say, “I want to do this,” and she’s, like, “Ok, calm down, tiger, let’s see if we can dial that back just a little bit.”

Larry Jordan: When you first started your business, you were a creative and then you moved into the business because you found something that worked. What did you find the most difficult part of switching from the creative hat to the business hat?

Sean Mullen: Wow, that’s a tough question. The most difficult part of starting a business in this particular industry was having people pay attention to you. You’ve had to reach out and grab everybody that you can. At one point, I even wrote you a letter, just like, “Hey, hey, we’re over here.” It’s just really hard with all of the, I hate to say it, all the noise that’s out there and that’s not really a great word but there are so many companies jockeying for everybody’s attention that a little company like ours is very easy to fall through the cracks, so you just have to constantly keep moving forward. The marketing and how we present ourselves has always been the toughest role for the company.

Larry Jordan: Yes, is also hard trying to figure out what the key thing is that you’ve got to market, because it may be important to you but it may not be important to the audience.

Mike Horton: Well, I’ll tell you, their drag and drop was what appealed to me. First of all, it’s great stuff – you just drag and drop it – and I’m a genius because it’s really good stuff.

Larry Jordan: Sean, there’s no doubt Mike is a genius. Please go along with me on that.

Mike Horton: Thank you.

Larry Jordan: Just make my life a lot easier.

Mike Horton: I am a genius because of Sean.

Sean Mullen: You’re very kind.

Larry Jordan: As you made the transition into running your own business, what surprised you the most from moving from a freelance position or staffed position into being the one in charge?

Sean Mullen: What surprised me the most is how much more effort it takes. I’ve always worked long hours, I’ve always worked 15 or 20 hours a day as an artist because the schedule demands it, but I find that I don’t get days off now. This business runs seven days a week and, as long as I’m asleep, it’s all-consuming, so I think that’s the difference.

Sean Mullen: When I worked for somebody or when I worked freelance, once the project is delivered, I’m not worried about it any more, it’s somebody else’s problem. Now, all the problems are my problems, whether it’s payroll or billing or marketing or whatever it happens to be, it’s always on our shoulders, so it’s a completely different mindset really.

Mike Horton: Yes, the unromantic side of entrepreneurship.

Sean Mullen: Yes, absolutely.

Larry Jordan: Yes, it’s business 24/7. Whether you’re awake or asleep, you’re always thinking about it.

Mike Horton: That’s the one thing we all have in common, don’t you think, Larry, is none of us sleep?

Larry Jordan: No, I think sleep is an option. Bruce Nazarian said, “We sleep when we’re dead,” and I think there’s a truth to that.

Sean Mullen: Very true.

Larry Jordan: Thinking of being creative and trying not to go to sleep, what are the new toys that you’ve got? Any new products you’ve shipped recently?

Sean Mullen: We just released what we’re calling Studio Flares, which are 2K, 4K and 5K anamorphic flares and these are not computer generated. These are legitimate, real flares shot with only using light and glass and if you’re a fan of the Star Treks or anything else out there that’s very flare heavy, it’s very similar to that.

Larry Jordan: Are they any good?

Mike Horton: Yes! You haven’t seen them?

Larry Jordan: I haven’t seen this title, no.

Mike Horton: Oh, they’re really cool.

Larry Jordan: That’s really cool. How did you price them?

Sean Mullen: They’re everywhere between 69 and 399, depending on what you’re buying. Our 5K stuff comes on drives and you get over 500 flares, so it’s still less than a dollar a clip.

Larry Jordan: And how did you shoot them?

Sean Mullen: Well, I experimented over about six months finding various kinds of anamorphic lenses from all over the world and it turns out the older the glass, the better. I’ve got over 100 different light sources. I literally walked out of Lowes one day, they must have thought I was preparing for the apocalypse because if it illuminated, I bought it.

Sean Mullen: That’s basically how it was. It was just tons and tons of experimenting and just really trying to figure out what I want to see and what I like and, I’ve got to be honest with you, I shot over 20 terabytes of raw footage, so the majority of the shoot didn’t make it to the final cut.

Larry Jordan: But you had a lot of fun picking the right clips though, didn’t you?

Sean Mullen: Oh, you can’t beat this job. I get to play with light and glass. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Larry Jordan: Sean, for people who want to see what Rampant has got, what website can they go to?

Sean Mullen:

Larry Jordan: That’s Sean Mullen is the Co-founder and CEO. Sean, thanks for joining us today.

Sean Mullen: Thank you Larry and Mike.

Mike Horton: Thanks, Sean.

Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.

Sean Mullen: Thank you too, bye bye.

Larry Jordan: I was just reflecting, Michael, that probably the number one thing that people ignore is storage.

Mike Horton: Me? Oh.

Larry Jordan: They don’t ignore you. You are unignorable.

Mike Horton: I would have loved to have been at the Creative Storage conference.

Larry Jordan: Yes, thinking of that, Philip Hodgetts was. Philip is the CEO of Intelligent Assistance and involved in technology in virtually every area of digital video. He’s also a regular contributor to The Buzz and the person that has tried the hardest to explain what’s going to both Mike and myself, generally with limited success.

Mike Horton: I never understand a word Philip says.

Larry Jordan: Hello, Philip, good to have you back.

Philip Hodgetts: Thank you very much. Codec, codec, codec.

Mike Horton: Thank you. Creative storage, creative storage, creative storage.

Larry Jordan: Philip, earlier this week you moderated a panel at the Creative Storage conference and, before we talk about the panel, tell us about what the conference itself covered.

Philip Hodgetts: Well, of course, it’s really in the name of the conference. It’s storage of all the kinds of storage that we need in the production process from acquiring it in the field to distributing in the home, so along the way we need a lot of storage. It’s focused on storage but particularly through the media and entertainment industry and our need for storage.

Larry Jordan: I want to talk a lot in this session with you about what we need to look for in storage, so we’re going to sort of do a back story on that, but let’s talk first about your panel. What was the name of the panel and what did you guys present?

Philip Hodgetts: The name of the panel was Making The Cut: Storage Challenges and Opportunities in Post Production, and this was focused on the sorts of storage that we need in post production because it’s a little different from the regular IT. If your email gets a couple of a fractions of a millisecond late in delivery, well, that doesn’t matter; but if a frame in a video stream doesn’t get there on time, that matters. We like our frames to come in the right order, so we have some very specific needs within the media and entertainment industries for storage that meets these additional needs and, of course, everybody on the panel pointed out that, with the advent of larger frame sizes, higher frame rates, stereoscopy, our need for storage is increasing exponentially, not just linearly. We went through the whole range.

Philip Hodgetts: Jesse Adams from EditShare talked about their shared storage for local area networks, storage area network; Chris Shell from Front Porch Digital covered the whole collaboration and storage across a multitude of sites; Jeff Greenwald and Dr Shane Archiquette from Hitachi Data Systems were actually a very entertaining two act. You would not expect somebody from a corporation like Hitachi Data Systems to have an entertaining presentation, but they did. They focused more on benefits of the technologies that they shared rather than speeds and feeds and the need for everybody to have faster storage, but have the storage that they need when they need it.

Philip Hodgetts: Elaine Kwok from Promise Technology also talked about how their technology can be used in an Adobe Anywhere set-up for sharing your storage across a relatively local, as in city-wide, area without any great problems and I think the most intriguing presentation was from Bernard Massari, who’s from Excelus, which is a company I had not previously heard about because they largely service the data needs of the military who, I might point out, are not quite as fussy about security as I think the MPAA and the studios are.

Philip Hodgetts: It was nice to know that Excelus has expertise in this and they do have a fascinating wide area network they built for the military to bring data from drones back without delay, because the biggest problem when you start getting out on the internet on large hops from Europe or from the Middle East back to the United States is the latency and companies like Aspira and Excelus are working on ways of reducing that latency and therefore speeding up the transfer.

Philip Hodgetts: It was a very fascinating panel, a lot of technology presented and a lot of points of view. If I had to summarize it all, it’s that the storage will be going to the cloud and we’ll be paying for what we use.

Larry Jordan: All right. I want to talk more about that, but before I should mention that…

Mike Horton: Weren’t we already talking about that… going to the cloud? Are we talking physical storage?

Philip Hodgetts: Yes. They’re really talking about everything. In fact, not only will we be renting our software, but we’ll be renting the virtual storage. I’m still dubious about the bandwidth requirements and I did ask as to what the minimum bandwidth before using cloud for your storage would be viable, and the minimum was ten gigabits a second as a dedicated connection.

Mike Horton: Where are all these storage facilities? It sounds to me that it’s like 7-11 stores. There are just thousands of them all over the United States and all over the world. There are just gazillions of these places and I don’t know where these places are.

Philip Hodgetts: And nor do you need to know.

Mike Horton: Well, it’s just fun to know.

Philip Hodgetts: Yes.

Larry Jordan: Philip, before we talk further, I should mention that the Creative Storage conferences are put on by a company called Coughlin Associates and Tom Coughlin is the President, we’ve had him on the show in the past. He runs two storage conferences and it’s principally from an engineering point of view, where he’s got about three to five hundred people in the conference, all essentially developers and people who are designing the storage that we’re going to be using this year, next year and years in the future, so your panel was talking not to consumers, but to the people who are actually designing the gear.

Philip Hodgetts: Absolutely and, in fact, in the panel before one of the questions that was being asked was answered in a most entertaining manner. You’re working with glasses of water and stacking them up to… the difference between a bi-level system like binary to a multi-level system to a 3D multi-level system of storage and frankly I felt the illustration was exciting, but I don’t know what it was talking about at all. All I know is it was supposed to be bigger, better and faster.

Mike Horton: Now you know what it’s like to talk to Philip Hodgetts.

Larry Jordan: Philip, there’s an adage that says a hard disk is either empty or full. As you’re looking around the small trade show that’s at the show, talking to vendors and the presentation at the panel, is the only thing that we should be worrying about just the storage capacity of our drive?

Philip Hodgetts: Probably the storage capacity is the least important thing that you should be worrying about. The type of storage, we should probably talk a little bit about the different types of RAID, but the type of storage, the speed of the connectivity, whether it’s shared or whether it’s dedicated to one workstation, whether it’s local or it’s using something like Avid Everywhere or Adobe Anywhere, one of these technologies where the storage is remote or one of the services from any of these companies.

Philip Hodgetts: These are the things that we really need to talk about, which is the speed and the type of storage that we have, rather than simply the capacity. Obviously, capacity’s important, we need to store a certain amount of data for a particular project, but that’s a fairly simple calculation by so many days’ shoot by so many hours per day or minute per day by the megabits per second and that’s a calculation anybody with a calculator can do. But the type of decisions about how you connect to the system, how you create redundancy so you don’t lose data, these are fairly important decisions that must be made.

Larry Jordan: The other thing that I’m trying to debate about is when should you do a single hard drive versus a RAID, and what’s this RAID business anyway?

Philip Hodgetts: RAID is ubiquitous in that it stands for the Redundant Array of Independent Drives and the idea here is to have some sort of redundancy. Now, the nice thing about redundancy is that we can lose some part of our storage and not lose data, and that’s the crucial thing, is that every hard drive, be it a spinning disk, be it SSD, every storage device that you use will fail.

Philip Hodgetts: The only thing we can’t really predict is if it’s going to fail tomorrow or in five years, but every device we have will fail and that’s the only guarantee that we have about these drives, so we need to make sure that our data is not dependent on any one piece of media because that piece of media can be lost. We need to have duplicates or redundancy. Now, the nice thing about RAID is we have lots of different levels of RAID and we can use them for redundancy or speed, or both.

Larry Jordan: Well, that gets me to something I read a lot about. I read about these RAID zeros or ones or tens or 50s. Do I need to pay attention to what the RAID level is? And is there a particular RAID level that’s best for media?

Philip Hodgetts: Yes and yes. Perhaps we should go into some detail, though. Starting with RAID zero, the RAID zero was my first exposure to RAIDs because that was the way back in the old days of relatively slow hard drives, it was the way we got speed.

Philip Hodgetts: We put multiple disks spinning around and we tied them together with some fancy electronics and software and it’s really like somebody shuffling out a table of, say, poker and the first card goes to the first drive, or the first player; the second card goes to the second drive; the third card goes to the third drive and all the time it’s taking to write to these relatively slow drives doesn’t matter because we’re not trying to write anything else to them until we’ve written to three or four other drives in sequence.

Mike Horton: Isn’t the cloud our RAID now?

Philip Hodgetts: Well, yes, but of course you do want to make sure you can get it back. I don’t think I would feel comfortable at this point in having my only copy of important media for a project in the cloud. I’m sure that any one of the people in the vendor area at the Creative Storage conference would disagree with me, that their cloud storage is completely safe, but I still feel that I like to have a local copy and I think it’s a reasonable thing to do, to have your original stored locally but your working media can be up in the cloud and shared around the world to people working wherever they’re comfortable with modern technologies.

Larry Jordan: We’ve now got two parallel themes going, so I want to close the one on RAIDs.

Philip Hodgetts: Yes, let’s go back to the RAIDs.

Mike Horton: I’m very sorry about that.

Larry Jordan: And then we’ll come back to the cloud, because otherwise we’re going to get totally off track. A RAID zero is fast, but does it provide the redundancy?

Philip Hodgetts: It’s not safe. It’s fast but it’s not safe because if any one of the drives fail, you lose everything. But it’s fast.

Larry Jordan: I don’t like the phrase ‘lose everything’, Philip. Do we have a Plan B?

Philip Hodgetts: Well, then we could go to just doing a copy of everything on another drive and that would be RAID one, where we have a drive and then a duplicate mirror of that drive is saving the exact same material as a redundant copy. With a little bit of smarts to know if one fails, the drive can be replaced or be re-duplicated over to the other drive. So you can lose one drive but you also lose half your storage.

Mike Horton: And speed suffers, correct?

Philip Hodgetts: Speed suffers badly, particularly write speed, which is a problem for our industry where we need to be able to write things consistently and faster and faster and faster as the file sizes get larger.

Larry Jordan: So if RAID zero is fast but no redundancy and RAID one is redundancy but not fast, are we stuck?

Philip Hodgetts: No, we can go up to a RAID five, a RAID six or, as you mentioned earlier, tens and 50s. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. There is a RAID three, but I’ve never, ever encountered it in the world, so we’re not even going to complicate the issue by talking about it. RAID five uses four, five or more drives and it sets them up in a particular way so that the data is written in multiple places so that you can lose any one drive and not lose any data. Now, the problem with this sort of set-up is that you have to replace that drive and rebuild it before another drive fails, or you will lose data and, again, if you lose data at that point, you’re losing everything not just one drive’s worth.

Philip Hodgetts: If a drive fails, well, the other drives in that box are probably from the same era, they’ve had the same amount of working life and then you’re going to replace a bad with a new drive and the whole thing is going to be working much, much harder for the next couple of days, so the chances of losing another drive on a RAID five during that most stressful period is a little higher than, well, a sane person would want it to be.

Philip Hodgetts: A gambler would take the risk, but I would think that we’d need to lose a little bit more of our storage space, trade off another 20 percent of storage space, but for extra redundancy, and that would be a RAID six.

Larry Jordan: But for the purposes of media, a RAID five or RAID six would give us greater storage, greater performance with redundancy than, say, a RAID one or RAID zero.

Philip Hodgetts: Correct.

Mike Horton: So the sweet spot is a five or a six.

Philip Hodgetts: Sweet spot is a five or a six. The safe and fast spot is probably a RAID 50 or a RAID ten. Simply, a RAID ten is two RAID zeros strapped as a RAID one as mirrors to each other; and a RAID 50 is two RAID fives strapped together as a RAID zero for speed.

Mike Horton: Ok, so we’d have a RAID five and six and the cloud, we’re safe. Everything is happy.

Philip Hodgetts: Everybody’s happy, yes.

Larry Jordan: Except the problem is that the cloud may be safe for archiving our media or storing it for the long term, but doesn’t have the bandwidth for editing, so we’d still need to move stuff locally to be able to edit it. Or am I misunderstanding?

Philip Hodgetts: Well, I think Adobe and Avid would probably suggest that there are alternatives that don’t require local storage and that can be shared over a long distance. They still require significant bandwidth, but we’re talking, say, for Adobe Anywhere, something around the one to two megabits per second download is considered to be about the minimum level that is workable, and that’s fairly achievable everywhere.

Philip Hodgetts: However, in answer to one of the questions that I asked, Dr Shane Archiquette from Hitachi Data Systems said that ten gigabits per second would the minimum you could consider to use cloud storage instead of purely local storage.

Larry Jordan: Well, that gets us back to the conference. What was the most interesting thing that you found at the conference as you were wandering around and listening to people?

Philip Hodgetts: You’ll be terribly, terribly surprised to note that the most important thing that everyone brought up was how the metadata about all this media is one of the most important thing and Kristin Petrovich Kennedy actually asked, “When are we going to enter all the metadata for all of the media assets that already exist and how are we going to keep getting that metadata entered as we create new assets?” and fortunately there is some hope from the technology side that increasingly the technology will recognize people, shapes, speech and so on and be able to create something indexable from that.

Philip Hodgetts: But these are not technologies we can use today and unfortunately a lot of the metadata about some of our more classic properties is becoming lost in the memories of people who are reaching the end of their productive life.

Larry Jordan: In the little bit of time we’ve got left, is there any future technology that you saw that we should pay attention to?

Philip Hodgetts: I believe there was a storage technology being mentioned as I walked into the conference and that was the one that was being demonstrated with these glass half full, multiple levels and then the 3D metric thing as a way of getting more and more data density into our flash storage, and certainly one of the themes here is that flash is going to be our predominant storage medium in the future.

Larry Jordan: We need to talk more about flash, but we’ll save that for another time. Philip, for people who want to keep track of the latest in your thinking on technology, where can they go on the web?

Philip Hodgetts: They can go to and that’s pretty much where I write my thinking.

Larry Jordan: It’s where you write your thinking. It’s where you do your thinking. and Philip, as always, thanks for joining us and for explaining this so clearly.

Philip Hodgetts: And I thank you but I do have a shorter URL for my blog. If you just go to, you will get there and that’s much shorter.

Mike Horton: Are you kidding? Oh, cool.

Larry Jordan:, very cool. Take care. Thanks, Philip.

Philip Hodgetts: All right, bye bye.

Larry Jordan: Bye bye.

Larry Jordan: The, Michael.

Mike Horton: Is there a .guru now? I mean, you can do a .guru as a URL?

Larry Jordan: Yes, there’s a .guru URL. I don’t think I’ve got my own guru yet.

Mike Horton: Well, that’s right.

Larry Jordan: I have to get my guru.

Mike Horton: You can get guru domains. You can get .sexy, .useyourtips.

Larry Jordan: You should do .organization or you should do .usergroupguru or something like that.

Mike Horton: I don’t think they have user groups or something like that, but they do have .sexy.

Larry Jordan: Well, that would qualify.

Mike Horton: I might get that one.

Larry Jordan: That would be you. I can tell, looking at the stunning sartorial…

Mike Horton: Take off my T-shirt and put that as part of my logo.

Larry Jordan: It’s interesting, and especially thinking of the celebration of 14 years of the user group.

Mike Horton: 14 years, Larry. And how long have we been doing this Buzz?

Larry Jordan: We’ve been doing it for more than seven.

Mike Horton: 13 years or something?

Larry Jordan: Seven, eight. Well, you’ve been working with Philip. Philip was doing The Buzz before I took over.

Mike Horton: Oh, that’s right.

Larry Jordan: I think you’ve been doing The Buzz for 13 years, I think, yes.

Mike Horton: About that time, 13. It was back in the 1890s when we first started this thing.

Larry Jordan: Started by Ron Margolis…

Mike Horton: Using these giant microphones and…

Larry Jordan: …Steve Martin.

Mike Horton: …no, we used to use megaphones with string.

Larry Jordan: Anyway, we should probably have a birthday cake and celebrate 14 years.

Mike Horton: We did, we had a birthday cake last night, but you didn’t show up.

Larry Jordan: Well, nobody invited me.

Mike Horton: Our good friend Jeff Stansfield made a gluten free birthday cake and I had a taste of it. It was gluten free.

Larry Jordan: That would be cool.

Mike Horton: Didn’t taste like sawdust.

Larry Jordan: Guten flee… gluten free…

Mike Horton: Gluten free.

Larry Jordan: …I can’t even pronounce it.

Mike Horton: Guten flee.

Larry Jordan: Doesn’t even seem worth eating if you can’t have that.

Mike Horton: I know, but it was good.

Larry Jordan: And thinking of good, I want to thank our guests today: Jim Jachetta, the CEO of VidOvation; Sean Mullen, the CEO of Rampant Design Tools; Philip Hodgetts, the President and Founder of Lumberjack System and Intelligent Assistance; and Jonathan Handel of Counsel at Troy Gould and the entertainment labor reporter for the Hollywood Reporter.

Larry Jordan: There’s a lot happening at The Buzz between shows. We keep track of it all on our website, at

Mike Horton: Oh my God, you can get .singles too.

Larry Jordan: Will you just put a lid on it over there?

Mike Horton: No, there are all these really cool names. Have you seen this stuff?

Larry Jordan: You can visit with us at Twitter, @dpbuzz…

Mike Horton: You could probably get .larryjordan.

Larry Jordan: …and Facebook, at

Mike Horton: Bike.

Larry Jordan: Music on The Buzz provided by SmartSound. The Buzz is streamed by

Mike Horton: Oh, you can get .buzz.

Larry Jordan: And Mike Horton is the voice at the other end of the table, buying a new website.

Mike Horton: Learn something.

Larry Jordan: Adrian Price our engineer, Cirina Catania our producer. 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 TOLISGroup, the BRU guys, pioneering the development and support of ultra reliable data backup, archival and restore solutions for nearly 30 years.

Digital Production Buzz — June 26, 2014

  • Update on the Supreme Court’s Aereo Decision
  • Simplify On-Set Monitoring with Wireless Gear
  • Running a Creative Business
  • The Challenges of “Creative Storage”

GUESTS: Jonathan Handel, Jim Jachetta, Sean Mullen, and Philip Hodgetts

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

Jonathan Handel, OfCounsel, Troy Gould

Jonathan Handel, OfCounsel at Troy Gould in Los Angeles, joins us with an update on the Supreme Court’s Aereo decision. This has a significant impact on independent producers as well as broadcasters. Jonathan explains what was decided, and why we need to know.

Jim Jachetta, CEO, VidOvation

Jim Jachetta is the Founder and CEO of VidOvation. VidOvation specializes in gear for video and data communication systems for broadcast television, sports, corporate and government markets. Recently, they’ve been working with the NHL to deliver wireless video in a production environment. This week, Jim explains how they did it.

Sean Mullen, CEO & Lead Creative, Rampant Design Tools

Sean Mullen, the CEO of Rampant Design Tools, is a creative powerhouse. He also runs a business. This week, we talk with him about how he balances the two. It’s a discussion of left-brain vs. right-brain.

Philip Hodgetts
, President, Intelligent Assistance

Earlier this week, Philip Hodgetts, the CEO of Intelligent Assistance, moderated a panel entitled, “Making the Cut: Storage Challenges and Opportunities in Post Production” at the Creative Storage Conference in Burbank. Storage is even more critical for media creators than the computers we use. So, we want to talk with Philip about what they talked about and what he learned.

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 – June 19, 2014

Digital Production Buzz

June 19, 2014

[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]


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Larry Jordan


Kim Furst, Producer/Director, Kilo Foxtrot Films

Philip Storey, Co-founder & CEO, XenData, Inc.

Philip Bloom, DOP, Editor, Director


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; our co-host, Mike Horton, has the night off.

Larry Jordan: We’ve got three incredible guests tonight. We’re going to start with Kim Furst. She’s an award winning documentary film director and editor. Flying the Feathered Edge is Kim’s fifth aviation documentary. You may know some of her earlier work. She was the editor on the award winning One Six Right, which is a learning to fly documentary. She joins us tonight to talk about what we need to know to successfully market and sell our projects.

Larry Jordan: Dr Phil Storey is the Co-founder and CEO of XenData, which provides archiving solutions for digital media. Recently, XenData announced a new, highly scalable digital video archive system that will be of interest to many post facilities. Phil explains what their new system is all about.

Larry Jordan: Last week, during my speaking tour in England, I had a chance to sit and chat with Philip Bloom, the highly respected director, director of photography and filmmaker about what he’s learned shooting and editing 4K video. Tonight, I present the first part of a two part interview looking at the challenges and opportunities of shooting 4K.

Larry Jordan: Just a reminder, we are offering text transcripts for each show, courtesy of Take 1 Transcription. Now you can quickly scan or print the contents of each show, as well as listen to it. Transcripts are located on each show page. You can learn more at and thanks, Take 1, for making the transcripts possible.

Larry Jordan: The big news this week was yesterday’s announcement from Adobe, updating all their Creative Cloud applications, releasing two new hardware devices and a much tighter integration of the Creative Cloud storage with the Creative Cloud applications. I was especially impressed with the number and quality of new features introduced with this version of Adobe Premiere and will be covering more about the latest product updates from Adobe in upcoming shows.

Larry Jordan: Last week, I had the pleasure of being on tour in England. I spoke in London, Manchester and Birmingham, taking a look at some of the challenges we have with video compression, how to make our files look as good as possible and keep them as small as possible. The tour was sponsored by TV Bay, which is a monthly magazine based out of London, and I want to thank Matt and Simon for making my visit possible. It was fun to visit with all the editors from around the country and hopefully look forward to going back a little later this year.

Larry Jordan: Thinking about staying in touch, remember to visit us on Facebook, at We’re also on Twitter, @dpbuzz, and you can subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at, which gives you an inside look at both our show and the industry. Our weekly Buzz newsletter, which publishes every Friday, helps you make sense of what’s been happening in the world of media during the last week and it gives you a chance to hear the interviews that you may have missed whenever you have the time to listen to them.

Larry Jordan: If you have not yet gone to The Buzz website, there are two places you can visit that are especially interesting. One is the show archives button. This allows you to listen to shows that go all the way back to 2009; and the other is the interview archives. This gives you a chance to search for and listen to interviews from people that we’ve interviewed also from 2009 onward. If there’s a particular person or point of view, an editor or a piece of technology, you can find it covered inside the interview archives on

Larry Jordan: I’ll be back with Kim Furst right after this.

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Larry Jordan: Kim Furst is an award winning documentary film producer, director and editor and Flying the Feathered Edge is her fifth aviation documentary. Hello, Kim, how are you?

Kim Furst: Hi Larry. Great, how are you today? It’s so great to meet you over the phone.

Larry Jordan: Oh, I am so delighted. I had a chance to go on your website and was reading about all the things you’ve been doing in your career and you’ve got documentary credits that include Discovery Channel’s Rocket Challenge in 2003, my favorite movie on aviation, which has to be One Six Right, Wings over the Rockies and The Horseman Cometh. I mean, you have been one busy person.

Kim Furst: Well, thank you. You know, I have to credit you because I can’t tell you how many late nights I might have been trying to figure out something as far as my background is as a film editor. That’s where I started, in film and actually in news and that’s how I got into documentaries, but once I ended up on Final Cut Pro, which I was on for about 15 years, I used your advice many times to get me out of scrapes on this program, so thanks a ton.

Larry Jordan: Oh, you are very kind, thanks for the kind words. What was it all those years ago that first got you started in filmmaking?

Kim Furst: Well, I always loved telling stories from when I was a kid and I think it was all about that. It was about wanting to give someone a story that you thought up and find a way to make people go, “Wow!” It was just that kind of feeling, whether it was a puppet show or whatever you did as a kid – I think in high school we had some talent shows and stuff and writing skits about teachers arresting kids using Cliff notes – and it was always this desire to tell a story.

Larry Jordan: Well, I was looking at your resume and way back – and we won’t mention when – you got started as a production assistant and camera op. How did you make the leap into editing and directing?

Kim Furst: Well, that was a great thing. I went to a wonderful university in Harrisonburg, Virginia called James Madison University and it was very far from Hollywood. I think it was my junior year, I realized I wanted to be a film director and I didn’t know how to get there from here. We didn’t have a film school. I had been a theater major and it actually ended up that my minor was theater and my major was creative writing, but my major was poetry.

Kim Furst: I was completely unqualified, really, from a film school background but what we did have, and what I did do, was we had one production company in town and they did local commercials, it had a local interest magazine called Shenandoah Magazine, and they were just great guys and I had hooked up with them at one point and I became their Girl Friday and they taught me at that time, you know, “Hey, let us show you what we’re doing,” they were editing and everything was three-quarter inch and so I started making a little spending cash, not a lot, but I’d go out with them and run B camera for a wedding or do different things and then that experience enabled me, when I graduated, to get my first job out of college at the local television station.

Kim Furst: I got one of these coveted PA positions at the local news channel, which was WHSV-TV3 and because it was such a small channel at that time – I don’t know, I’m sure it’s grown since then – what was wonderful about it was, as a PA, you really got a lot of hands-on experience doing a lot of different things. You were basically a pack mule, you were young and healthy so you had these three-quarter inch decks and a big camera and a tripod and you would go out with a reporter and they taught you how to do a basic set-up with a news reporter and take focus and do all those things and then shoot B roll and when you got back to the station, the same people that were doing the news articles during the day, the pieces, the segments, one or two of them were actually the anchors, so they had a lot to do and it was very easy to take on more responsibility if you wanted it.

Kim Furst: One of the female reporters, I remember one day – I was there for about eight months – she said to me, “Hey, let me teach you how to edit my news packages,” and I leapt at the opportunity and so I did that for a little while and that, boy, it was linear editing and you had to figure your story out ahead of time and you had to have some certainty about where you were going and you had to lay down VO and you made a mistake, you had to punch in. The glory of non-linear editing now is that you can really work it out as you go, but you really had to know what you wanted to say when you started.

Kim Furst: So it taught me some very valuable lessons and it certainly got me interested in editing and continuing on and finding other ways of telling a story with film.

Larry Jordan: Telling stories with film reminds me that anybody who’s been using Final Cut for a long period of time is familiar with some of the footage from the movie One Six Right, which you were the editor for. Tell me about that film.

Kim Furst: I was the picture editor on that and Brian Terwilliger, who was the director, he’s a brilliant guy, a passionate aviator, loves aviation and he had a real vision for that film. One of my first professional jobs as a film editor was Rocket Challenge, which was a three part series for Discovery Channel, and I was lucky enough to be bumped up from assistant editor to editor on that program.

Kim Furst: I had a very supportive producer who saw that I knew what I was doing and an opportunity opened up and he gave me the shot at being one of the three main editors on that. Once you do one thing in a certain area, well, hey, I had done one thing on aerospace and Brian was looking for someone.

Kim Furst: Originally he was going to do a three part series for Discovery Channel, so I think that was a lot of the reason why initially Brian and I clicked and then we just got on like a house on fire. Not only is he a very good filmmaker, but he’s a very good marketing mind. That film was beautiful, but it also was incredibly well marketed and I think there’s been a lot written about it, but he did a lot of things right on that film.

Larry Jordan: Well, he had Apple distributing segments from the film to everybody who was studying Final Cut. You couldn’t not see the film because Apple was pushing it out to millions of people. That was a masterstroke.

Kim Furst: That’s right. Actually, when I found out about that in a very funny way – someone was at NAB and they said, “Kim, I’m at NAB and I see your timeline everywhere” – I had no idea, but he really did and one of the great things about that too was I had the opportunity to meet with Apple, I guess this is something that they would do, they would pick someone from different areas that had been an editor in documentary or narrative and these different segments, and interview them on how they used the technology so that they could develop what their products were, and so I spent about three hours chatting with them about what I did and I hope it didn’t lead us down the wrong path, that’s all I can say.

Larry Jordan: Let’s flash forward. You’ve been doing aviation movies, you just finished a project called Flying the Feathered Edge. What’s that?

Kim Furst: Flying the Feathered Edge is a feature length documentary about a gentleman named Robert A Bob Hoover, who is in aviation circles an absolute legend. He’s considered to be our greatest living aviator today and he was a World War II Air Force pilot and everything was stacked against him. He was too tall for the cockpit, he didn’t have good vision – you had to have 20/20 vision at the time – and he had terrible airsickness and he found a way to get over all these obstacles and really became someone who kind of defined modern air to air combat in some ways.

Kim Furst: It’s not a movie about combat, it’s really a little bit like the outliers, the 10,000 hours and being extraordinary at something, and Bob Hoover is absolutely revered by those in aviation for having an unbelievable touch and for being probably one of the finest fliers that’s ever lived, so that’s what the movie’s about. It’s about his journey.

Kim Furst: It’s interesting, because his life touched the trajectory of aviation during the entire last century, because where he began, he was flying in the ‘20s when he was young, he was flying cloth covered aircraft all the way to the first jets and he was a participant in breaking the speed of sound and North American Aviation that he worked at as a test pilot for many, many years, they developed the space shuttle and the Apollo program. It’s just an amazing history, it’s jaw-dropping and really probably that kind of individual with aviation, I mean, now the technology blows your mind.

Larry Jordan: Ok, but hold it a minute.

Kim Furst: Yes. Sorry, I’m a bit passionate about the area.

Larry Jordan: I want to flip the question around, because we’ve got Bob in front of the camera, but we’ve got you behind the camera and you wear multiple hats – you’re the director, I suspect you’re the editor, but you also put the script together, because it’s a documentary, which means the producer is the writer.

Kim Furst: Yes.

Larry Jordan: Which do you find the most challenging?

Kim Furst: Hmm, yes. I don’t mean to be flippant. I think the thing that is the most challenging for me is probably the thing that I have the least amount of interest in. I find that the most challenging thing really always is finding the story. Bob obviously is a great story, his bio is a great story, and he just in and of himself, you could probably sit him on a stage and he’s a great story.

Kim Furst: But to find the right expression of that in a full length feature that doesn’t just walk you in a roaming the garden kind of way, like, “Oh, here we are, here’s Bob, this is when he was a child, this is this,” to find a creative way to tell his story and to bring meaning to his life in a way that is bigger than the individual, because it is for him and it is for many of the films that I love about these great individuals.

Larry Jordan: Ok, but let’s focus on this for a second. As the producer, you’re responsible for putting the whole package together, then the director implements the producer’s vision and turns it into something that’s a product, and then the producer inherits it after the director walks away and now the producer’s got to market it. What I’m trying to figure out here is a lot of folks are interested in creating documentaries and virtually everybody is going to lose their shirt because there’s no money to be made.

Kim Furst: Right, that’s absolutely true.

Larry Jordan: Where do you start thinking about marketing and where do you start thinking about the audience? Is it at the story creation phase? Is it a test during shooting? Is it afterward? How do you figure out, “I want to shoot this but I also want to pay the rent”?

Kim Furst: There are different theories. If you’re smart and you want to pay the rent, you think of it right from the get go because you don’t want to create something that people aren’t going to be interested in, that’s for sure. I think that a great story well told is going to be of interest to the audience, so I think that, for me, my answer would be that I tend to be more interested in making sure that I find a great story, then you have to create it so it will be successful and you need to create something that people are going to want to see. If you create a great story, I really do believe that people will be interested in that.

Larry Jordan: Well that, I think, gets me to a really key question. When you’re working on a new film, are you thinking about what the film means to you or are you thinking about what the film means to the audience?

Kim Furst: This is a great question, Larry, because I think the luxury of the low cost of the tools of filmmaking these days, I believe it’s much easier as an independent, as I am, to focus on exactly what I want to create, and not in an airy fairy way where I’m trying to just create something really esoteric I think nobody’s going to see.

Kim Furst: Obviously, I picked a great subject and it will be successful just even based on the fact that he’s an incredible individual who has a pretty big following, so we’ve chosen someone who’s a worthy subject. He’s a wonderful subject for a documentary. But I don’t have to be as focused on the bottom line because our entire film budget was under $300,000, so I can independently raise that money, which was not easy but you can, and you can tell the story you want to tell without the incredible pressure of a studio or the need and the absolute reality of having to have that pay off financially.

Kim Furst: So I could choose a passion project like the Bob Hoover project, which really was a passion project, it was something I really wanted to tell, but I have no promise that it’s going to be financially successfully. But I was able to do that because I can wear all the hats essentially – not all the hats. I have to say that, as a smart producer, one of the best things that we were able to do is we have incredibly talented people who worked for very generous rates because they bought into the concept and they bought into the idea of what we were trying to do or they loved aviation or they liked Bob’s story or they were a friend who had worked with me for a long time.

Larry Jordan: Let’s get back to the story. At what point do you take audience reaction into account? Or do you just say, “This works for me, therefore it will work for the audience”?

Kim Furst: No. That’s a great question too. I absolutely survey the film and I make sure that I pull together people who are going to tell me what they really think and feel as opposed to just friends who are going to say, “Hey, this is great, really works, good job Kim.” I follow my own gut on what the story is, and that’s a tough thing.

Kim Furst: As a film editor, I’ve had a number of situations where I’ve come in and I have a film where maybe they’ve shot 80 to 100 hours of footage and they don’t quite know what their story’s about yet so, as a film editor, having that as a background is a really valuable thing because documentary is a bit like you’ve got a whole bucket of car parts and you don’t know whether you have a Vega in there or a Porsche.

Larry Jordan: Or just a bunch of parts.

Kim Furst: Yes, exactly. Maybe sometimes it’s a bunch of parts, you just have all carburetors.

Larry Jordan: And you’ve now got a film and you need to market it. How important is the trailer? And what are you thinking about when you put the trailer together?

Kim Furst: I think that things that can travel quickly online and that are short are very important, because it’ll breed awareness for the film. We’re in a position right now where we’re doing the full festival circuit, there is the possibility of being picked up and, in that case, someone else will probably do a trailer for us.

Kim Furst: But I think initially, certainly as a producer, when you’re drumming up support, whether it’s crew or investors or network support or international distribution, you need to show people what you’re up to and so a trailer’s incredibly important for getting people on board and for showing people what your intentions are, because if they see it in the trailer and it looks like something that they might buy into and be interested in, then you’re a long way further along than trying to just describe it to them verbally.

Larry Jordan: Kim, I would love to come back to you in about three to four months and hear how the film is doing. For people who want to see more about the film now, where can they go on the web?

Kim Furst: They can go to

Larry Jordan: That’s Kim Furst is the producer and director of the Bob Hoover film, called Flying the Feathered Edge. Kim, thanks for joining us today.

Kim Furst: Thank you so much, Larry.

Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.

Kim Furst: You too. Bye bye.

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Larry Jordan: XenData was founded in 2001 by Dr Philip Story and Mark Broadbent, both of whom had a strong optical disk background. Today, XenData has created a long track record of providing software for tape-based archiving solutions for media creators. Hello, Phil, welcome back.

Philip Storey: Hi there. Thank you, thanks for inviting me.

Larry Jordan: You’re always fun to talk to, whether it’s at NAB or some time between shows. It’s always a delight hearing what’s going on with you guys.

Philip Storey: I always enjoy talking with you.

Larry Jordan: Give us a quick description of what XenData does.

Philip Storey: We focus on delivering archive solutions for the media and entertainment industry. The bulk of what we provide is LTO based, but recently we added support for Sony’s new optical disk archive, ODA, and we’re currently working on integrating all of this with a cloud as well, so that’s basically what we do. We supply customers, typically it’s not individuals, its organizations ranging from huge multi pedabyte archives down to smaller archives, and that’s something I’d like to talk about.

Larry Jordan: Absolutely. Mini pedabytes, as it were. Well, that gets me to the announcement that you made just a week or two ago. What were you talking about?

Philip Storey: Oh yes, there we were talking about a really cost effective LTO solution. It really goes from 150 terabytes to three-quarters of a pedabyte and extremely cost effective, very expandable and, in that particular sector of the market, it’s a really attractive offering. But the other trend that we’re seeing is that more and more customers are coming in at more of an entry level. Not the individual working and needing to archive material, but work groups, basically.

Larry Jordan: So what are the options? I know that the enterprise level solution that you offered had a multi-tens of thousands of dollar price, but would store an almost unlimited amount of data, which is wonderful if you’re a studio.

Philip Storey: Exactly, exactly.

Larry Jordan: What happens if you’re smaller? What are our options?

Philip Storey: Right, so from a XenData perspective, this is really a fast growing part of our business and it is perhaps a small production company, an educational establishment, perhaps it’s the marketing department within a smaller organization. We’re seeing that companies are buying a small appliance plus either a small LTO library or perhaps only one LTO drive attached to our appliance and they’re using that over the network to be able to archive their material. Another way to look at is actually anyone that has moved to shared disk based storage – Avid Isis or Versilis or…

Larry Jordan: Or an XM?

Philip Storey: Yes, so as soon as they move to that shared disk storage and they start using it, then they start consuming the capacity and they have got a decision to make – what do we do? Do we expand the disk based capacity on that shared storage or do we bring in an archive, such that we can move projects off the main spinning disk shared storage and move it to archive, where it will live for many decades and we can restore it very easily back to the shared storage.

Philip Storey: More and more people are realizing that that’s a really good way to go, because most people are in a situation. We have a few professional baseball clubs that are customers, and in that case you really only need to access a few seasons back and older seasons you can just move across onto the archive; or if you’re a marketing department in an organization, there are often projects that you don’t want to throw the material away, you want to keep it, but you don’t really need to have day to day access to it. We’re finding that more and more. It’s educational establishments, small companies and they need somewhere to move projects and material off of their shared storage.

Larry Jordan: XenData’s archiving system is built on a Windows server. Does this mean that Macintosh clients are out of luck?

Philip Storey: No, not at all. Actually, you can access all of our products from Mac clients, but actually in this more entry level shared storage scenario, really the best way to do it – because shared storage is designed for multiple simultaneous access and archives can do that but they’re generally not designed for that type of usage – so in practice, in this entry level shared storage environment, let’s say you’re a sports team, you move your old seasons material over to the archive and then if you want to restore anything, you just restore it back to the shared storage, which is accessed via Macs, Windows, whatever. So yes, you can certainly use it if you’re Mac based.

Larry Jordan: One of the things that concerns me is that LTO tape, the tape itself, has a life span of about 25 years before the glue and the oxide separate.

Philip Storey: Well, I wouldn’t say that, actually.

Larry Jordan: Really?

Philip Storey: All of the LTO cartridge manufacturers spec a minimum of 30 years and the technologies that are used today with modern day to day LTO is entirely different to the kind of technologies that we used a couple of decades ago, and so I think it’s likely that these tapes will last for not 30 years but a heck of a lot longer.

Larry Jordan: But the LTO format itself is updated about every 18 months. In other words, LTO 5 is replaced by 6 is replaced by 7, so what do producers need to consider when they’re deciding to archive their asset on LTO tape, because the machinery won’t last as long as the tape does?

Philip Storey: Yes, yes, that’s right. Basically, the 30 years cartridge life, if we think about it and we go back 30 years ago, wow, that was 1984 and what sort of technologies were we using back then? So you hit the nail on the head. That the issue is, well, how do I maintain access when I’m going to be using a completely different operating system to the one I used 30 years ago and my hardware’s completely different to what I had 30 years ago? And the answer there is that after, say, five to eight years, to think about, “Well, how do I migrate this?”

Philip Storey: For our customers, even the ones who have just got a small LTO library, they can put in a new library or they can swap out the drive within the library, and we give them within the software within our systems, the ability to pretty easily migrate across to the latest technology. Because as you say that’s a fundamental issue and it’s all about how quickly technology becomes outdated, the hardware becomes outdated.

Larry Jordan: So basically what we need to do is that LTO gives us the ability to archive a lot of data, but we need to build in time or resources that every few years we’re going to have to migrate the hardware and update by copying from one tape to another, copy the tape from the old format to the new?

Philip Storey: Yes. I think that’s the only way, and we have lots of customers that do that. Today, LTO 6 is 2.5 terabytes per cartridge, which represents, at compressed HD, 50 megabits a second. That’s over 100 hours of material, so there’s a lot of material on a cartridge, and we’ve got a lot of customers who started with us with LTO 4 and they have swapped out the drives in their library, put in LTO 6 drives and they’re just using, as I say, the software built into the XenData system to do that migration.

Larry Jordan: Phil, for people who want more information about the products that XenData offers, where can they go on the web?

Philip Storey: At our website,

Larry Jordan: And the CEO and Co-founder of XenData is Dr Phil Storey and, Phil, thanks for joining us today. I look forward to talking to you again soon.

Philip Storey: Thank you.

Larry Jordan: Take care. Bye bye.

Philip Bloom: Bye.

Larry Jordan: Someone that needs no introduction is Philip Bloom. He’s a director, a director of photography, a filmmaker, runs his own production company called Some Like It Shot Productions and, Philip, it’s a delight to talk with you today.

Philip Bloom: It’s nice to see you again. It’s been a few years.

Larry Jordan: It has, September of what was it? You looked it up.

Philip Bloom: 2008.

Larry Jordan: And we met on the River Thames, I remember that very clearly.

Philip Bloom: In Teddington, yes. Very close to me, actually, yes.

Larry Jordan: It was a fun conversation. You walked in and said, “Who is this person and what’s going on here?” It was a wonderful conversation.

Philip Bloom: I think I said it before I walked in, actually. After the initial email, I Googled you and then I, you know…

Larry Jordan: Philip, you and I have been wandering the cities of the United Kingdom this week for a tour that’s been sponsored by TV Bay and I’ve been fascinated with your presentation on looking at 4K from a practical point of view. There’s a lot of buzz that 4K is where the world of HD is moving and I wanted to get your initial take on something that you said in your presentation, whether we need 4K or whether we want 4K. What’s your perspective?

Philip Bloom: Yes, need and want are obviously two different words and it doesn’t just mean 4K, it can apply to everything. It can apply to cars, it can apply to food. I mean, it’s like we need to eat but do we need to have caviar? What you want and what you need are two different things. We don’t actually need many things, to be honest with you, we want stuff.

Philip Storey: When it comes to 4K, we see that 4K is the best acquisition, the best image coming out of cameras, and we’ll want it. We want it. We see it, we want it. We’ll see it at demonstrations, we’ll see it at shows like this and we want it. Then you need to ask yourself, “Do you need it?” because it is going to impact your work, it’s going to impact the amount of money you have, your time and everything in a good way and a bad way, for sure.

Philip Storey: To be honest with you, when I’m doing my talk, at times I feel like I’ve done too much negative and I have to bring it back, because I’m not paid to sell 4K and is somebody asked me, “Do you want to sell 4K?” I would say no. I have to be honest about it. It isn’t for most of the people who are in that talk.

Larry Jordan: There are several sides to 4K. There’s the increased resolution, but the resolution by itself isn’t sufficient unless you consider the codec, the format you’re recording in. How do you make a decision as to whether 4K is right for you and how do you select the right format to record in?

Philip Bloom: 4K sensors aren’t all alike. There are some good ones and there are some bad ones. There are some which are incredibly good and some which are really not good at all. Just because it has the number 4K, it doesn’t mean it’s four times better than your current camera and absolutely, when it comes to what it records in, you’ve got to look at the actual codec. How compressed is it? Is it only RAW? How much space does it take up? What does it record onto?

Philip Storey: All of these things make a huge difference. When a camera can only do, say, 4K RAW and it won’t do a compressed codec, it doesn’t actually need to be like that. It just happens to be a limitation of the system. Most people don’t need to be shooting RAW. A really good, nice codec, something like XAVC that the F55 has is one of the best implementations of a compressed codec that I’ve seen and that’s what I shoot my 4K in most of the time, even though I have the ability on that camera at the same time to switch it to RAW, but I choose not to because I don’t need it.

Larry Jordan: When should you consider shooting RAW versus a compressed format?

Philip Bloom: I think the only time I would potentially consider shooting RAW is if I was doing some effects heavy work, which I don’t really do because most of my work is documentary. But occasionally I’ll be in a situation where the light contrast is so strong and I can’t do anything with it, most likely because I am shooting documentary, that I am not able to do any additional lighting, I’m going with what’s there, and I just want to have a little bit more control in post to just bring it down.

Philip Storey: But I spent 22 years of never, ever shooting RAW and then suddenly had a camera that shot RAW and it was fascinating to have that. Prior to that, I had a really strong contrast situation and I just dealt with it. I just pointed the camera the other way, I put ND on the window, I put more light up. There was always a solution. Or you just have the window blow out, for example, there’s nothing wrong with a nice blown out window. In fact, it’s actually quite nice at times.

Larry Jordan: One of the points you made in the talk that I want to come back to was the number of clients that have hired you over the last few years to actually shoot 4K. What’s that number?

Philip Bloom: Roughly, I think, since I started shooting 4K, which would have been on the RED Epic, which would have been three or so years back. In that time around 20 jobs have been specifically hired to acquire in 4K, acquisition in 4K. I’ve shot loads more than that myself in 4K and I’ve used 4K cameras loads more than that too, but these are, “Actually, we want you to use this camera,” specifying the camera and specifying 4K.

Philip Storey: Out of those 20 odd projects, none of them have ever been mastered in 4K. Most of them have been HD and most of them have gone to the web, some have gone to broadcast and I think maybe three or four even went to standard definition broadcast.

Larry Jordan: So why shoot 4K in the first place?

Philip Bloom: These are clients who want to be seen using it. These aren’t broadcast clients generally; they’re more commercial agency types who want to be seen. It’s a competitive industry. They want to be seen as, “We are using Epic, we are using Alexa,” whatever the big thing is at the time and the rest of it is irrelevant to them, and it happens a lot.

Philip Storey: If that’s what they want to do, it’s fine, it’s not my money. It’s the client’s money and the agency is getting it from the client and I will do my best to explain, if I’m hired as a DP, it is my job to explain why I don’t think we should, and if they choose to ignore that advice that’s fine. If it makes my job a lot harder, then I’ll tell them why. Very rarely will it make my job harder, because I’m not the one dealing with it in post, because that’s where the actual pain of 4K will come in – not the actual shooting of it.

Larry Jordan: I want to talk about post in a minute, but if you’re shooting 4K, do you change your production or change your lighting or change your camerawork at all?

Philip Bloom: If it was involving sets and makeup, for sure it needs to be of a higher quality, definitely. But for documentaries, there is no difference whatsoever. If you’re skilled, you’re skilled and if you get things focused, you should get it in focus whether you’re standard definition, HD or 4K. It’s just your mistakes will be a lot more obvious when it comes to a higher resolution. But I think mostly it’s actually things like makeup and your lighting is going to be key as well because you need to make things look more flattering if possible, because 4K can be quite unflattering at times.

Larry Jordan: Actors and actresses are known for wearing makeup and would prefer to have the image be softer, especially when you go in for a close-up, and 4K does everything to remove the effects of the makeup and the softness of the image. How do you balance the higher resolution against the need of the actor not to look too detailed?

Philip Bloom: Well, you can easily put on a filter when you’re shooing 4K with actors that can soften it down, but these days this is all pretty much mostly going to be done in post. The downside of that is that you won’t see it straight away. There are monitors everywhere these days on sets and you just have to explain at times, “Yes, it does look quite strong and quite harsh right now,” and you just have to explain.

Philip Storey: I have a filter which I use in my 4K camera and it makes it so much nicer. It’s actually an internal filter, it goes between the lens and the sensor and it softens it down not so it’s soft, it just makes it look a little bit more organic, more filmic. But if I’m shooting some really detailed nature-type stuff, I take it out. It just depends what I’m shooting, really.

Larry Jordan: There are three stages, I think, of 4K production. There’s acquisition, there’s editing and there’s distribution. Distribution, I think, is still problematic for 4K because broadcast is not yet ready to move to it and the web most of the time doesn’t have bandwidth, so the real crux of where the rubber meets the road is in editing. Acquisition’s fairly straightforward; there are a number of cameras that support it. What’s your feeling on editing 4K?

Philip Bloom: You’re definitely right. Some way of actually showing 4K is the biggest problem right now, by far. I have a 4K TV and the only way I can watch anything in 4K is to plug in my latest MacBook Pro into it and I can watch 4K, otherwise there’s no way I can do it. It’s a Smart TV, it’s a very expensive Smart TV, but even the apps, even the YouTube app doesn’t play 4K. They make a Smartphone, the same company, that has 4K recording in it but you can’t play it on the TV. So actually playing 4K on your 4K TV is one of the biggest, most painful things. It’s astonishing. I got the TV, I was like, “I now need to find out how I can actually see something that I’ve got,” and it literally was a case of plugging in my laptop. There’s no other way of doing it and that’s ridiculous.

Philip Storey: Editing, it depends on the format. The most editable format is going to be a compressed codec, as in something out of the camera that you can edit straight away, like we want to. When I switched to Premiere, suddenly transcoding was a dirty word. It’s very rare that I needed to edit something straight away. Those are the old days of news. I don’t edit as soon as I get back from the shoot, so transcoding was never a massive problem. I would generally just start it when I got home and then by morning it’s all done. It was never a real chore.

Philip Storey: But there are times when I’ve shot something really nice and I want to do something with it straight away and very few cameras will let me do that, and very few computers, certainly when it comes to Apples, will let you do that. My MacBook Pro, which is the top specs one with everything ticked when you go in the Apple Store and you see the pounds or the dollars go up and you go, “Oh my God,” that lets me edit 4K, lets me edit the GH4s, MP4s, which are an H264 codec, and it’s fine until you start putting effects on and then it goes [MAKES NOISE].

Philip Storey: Other than that, everything else has to be proxy. I also have a MacPro, which is generally for my edit suite at home, but because it’s relatively portable, if I know I’m going away and I’m going to be doing a lot of editing, I will bring it with me because it’s not too bad. Obviously, I can’t bring my nice monitors, can’t bring my 4K monitor, I can’t bring my Thunderbolt screens. I have a little portable monitor and it’s ok and I hope that the TV in the hotel room has an HDMI in and it’s not a God-awful TV.

Philip Storey: It’s not easy, which is ridiculous because when I first started shooting HD, it was really quite in the early days, my G4 Powerbook edited it straight away in Final Cut 7, no problems whatsoever. It was never even a consideration of having to convert it into some sort of standard definition proxy. The fact is, the jump we’ve had from HD to 4K is a massive jump, it’s leapfrogged the post technology and that’s the problem.

Larry Jordan: When you transcode your 4K, what are you transcoding it into?

Philip Bloom: Different cameras obviously record in different formats, some even record in ProRes, like the Blackmagic 4K will do ProRes HQ, which to be honest with you is too high. It’s too big a file. It’s 880 odd megabits a second or so and that’s too big. You don’t need it, certainly not for what I’m doing.

Philip Storey: Something like ProRes 422 would be more than enough and so it really depends on what it is that I’m actually working with. If I’m working with the Sony F55 in its XAVC codec, I won’t transcode. I will edit in the native format and it’s actually really good and the MacPro eats it up, even with effects on it. It’s pretty damn good and I’m absolutely fine with that. If I have to convert something that’s RAW, for example, it will go into ProRes 422. I’ll go through Resolve and I’ll convert it to ProRes 422 and that’s what I’ll edit with. If I have to edit on the laptop for whatever reason, then I may end up doing an HD proxy.

Larry Jordan: Then if you’re doing a final color grade, do you go back to the original source file and color grade that? Or do you color grade the transcoded file?

Philip Bloom: Well, whether I do it the right way or not, my way is always a bit of a, it’s like when I learnt to edit Final Cut 7, I taught myself and then somebody who’d been on a course was watching me edit and said, “Have you tried pressing that button? It does the same thing as those 17 things you just did.” I went, “Oh.” I don’t read instructions.

Philip Storey: If I tell you how I do things, I’m sure you’ll tell me I’m doing it completely the wrong way, but I simply keep my filenames exactly the same and I edit on an HD timeline and I do everything with all my color and effects on there and then I unlink the media and then I will re-link the media to the 4K version and put it on a new 4K timeline and everything should theoretically just snap in, and then I just need to render it out. Theoretically.

Philip Storey: Doesn’t always work, especially with Premiere which has got, annoyingly, really good at finding your files that you’ve actually unlinked, whereas before you literally had to say this is it here, each one, here, here, here. Now, you unlink it, you may put it into the most hidden folder possible on your hard drive and then – bang! – it pops up, “Hey,” it says, “Guess what? I’ve found it!” It’s like Lassie. It’s wagging its tail at you really excitedly that, “You won’t believe how good I am. Look what I’ve done, master. I’ve found your hidden files.” I’m like, “No, I want to re-link them to files I haven’t told you about yet.” Painful.

Larry Jordan: Well, the software really wants to be helpful. It’s trying to make your life easier.

Philip Bloom: It doesn’t know what I want. It can’t read my mind.

Larry Jordan: Well, there’s nothing wrong with the approach that you’re using – unlinking the low res and re-linking to the high res. We’ve been doing that in Final Cut 7 for years, it works the same in Premiere and I’ve seen the quality of your work and it’s outstanding, so clearly you’re doing something right as the color grade. What do you see as the downsides of 4K?

Philip Bloom: The downsides of 4K are time and money. Time is money as well. Let’s not even get into the actual costs of the recording media, which vary drastically per camera and also the actual amount of data that is created by the various different formats. Because I travel so much, one thing I always carry as hand luggage are my hard drives, my rushes. That’s more valuable than my camera. My camera is insured, it’s replaceable. My shoot is not, so I always carry stuff and I always use bus powered drives because I can carry them round with me.

Philip Storey: I will most likely have a g-ray or something like that in my luggage with another copy, but I still have a copy on me and it’s on one of these two terabytes USB3 drives. There’ll be a number of them in there, quite often I have 20 of them in my carrier, and that’s fine, and there’ll be so many different projects on that and that’s great, but now it’s to the point where one of those two terabytes won’t get me very far at all. If I’m using a camera and a recording format that’s going to give me half a terabyte for 24 minutes, it’s a huge…

Larry Jordan: Half a terabyte for 24 minutes?

Philip Bloom: Yes, that’s uncompressed 4K CinemaDNG RAW, which is pointless. You don’t need it. We’re in a world where compression has gotten very, very, very good. Who puts completely uncompressed versions of music on their iPhone? Nobody does that apart from the most anal audiophile and compression’s got so good now and things are called lossless compressed for a reason. Even lossy compressed stuff is so good you can barely tell.

Philip Storey: It depends on what you’re doing. If you’re not doing any heavy effects work, as long as it’s not crazily lossy compressed, it’s fine, it’s absolutely fine. The C300 is one of the biggest, most successful broadcast large format… cameras out there and it’s 50 megabits a second. So that’s fairly heavily compressed but it’s broadcast accepted as HD and it’s great and you can get loads on your hard drives, it’s very easy to work with on just about every computer, even a MacBook Air can eat it up.

Philip Storey: That sort of stuff’s wonderful and yet suddenly we’re faced with terrifyingly high data rates and terrifyingly high render times and just watching that render bar slowly move, if it’s even going to play. 4K has made all of my Macs crash more than they’ve ever done before. Macs are always famous, oh, they never crash. Well, they do crash and they crash even more now that I work with 4K. I think Premiere in particular is a massive, massive resources hog. You can just see it. I have a measure on the computer seeing what resources are being used and I just see it suddenly taking everything. I have to keep quitting it and restarting it, just because I can see it’s draining too much.

Philip Storey: So yes, it is a problem, it’s a huge problem and the fact that I have to go round with a workstation – it is a workstation, it may be a small workstation but it’s still a workstation – carrying around a workstation on jobs with me, look, I’m not a DIT. I’m not somebody where you expect to have these things. Every other time it’s been laptops and suddenly a laptop isn’t good enough. I don’t have enough time. If I’m out abroad doing a job, shooting and editing, I like to get some sleep as well and it gives me a little bit more sleep than if I didn’t have that.

Larry Jordan: A business question and then a production question. Can you charge more for your 4K work? Or are they not willing to pay more money for 4K?

Philip Bloom: You have to charge more for your 4K work. If you’re not going to get paid any more for your 4K work for clients, you don’t do it because it’s costing you more money on the hard drives and everything else. If you can’t pass the cost onto your client, you should not be doing it. It’s absolutely crazy to do that.

Larry Jordan: Are you doubling your rate? What percentage?

Philip Bloom: It depends on what the project is. Obviously, I will charge more for the hard drives and editing time, yes, it does go up. I did a job recently that was 4K uncompressed RAW. It had to be, because that was the camera that they wanted to shoot on, and so that was factored into my editing time. It was an extra day, I think, just for transcoding, so that is passed on, yes.

Larry Jordan: Philip, there’s so much that we can talk about and I’m starting to run out of time. Can we invite you back to talk specifically about which cameras you would recommend?

Philip Bloom: Yes, absolutely. I mean, that’s a conversation that can go on for hours.


Larry Jordan: Philip, for people who want to keep track of the work you’re doing and that which you’re writing, what website can they go to?

Philip Bloom: Yes, my website is my name, which is I couldn’t get the .com. I almost got the .com. I think that an eye surgeon in London had it. He wanted £50,000 for it and I said, “No, you’re all right.” And you know what annoys me? This was about three years ago and you type in and there’s still nothing there. He’s never used it. It’s just a waste of my time.

Larry Jordan: That’s for Philip Bloom himself, director, director of photography, filmmaker and the Founder of Some Like It Shot. Philip Bloom, thanks for joining us today.

Philip Bloom: Thank you.

Larry Jordan: Next week, we’ll have part two of this interview that we recorded when I was in London last week with Philip Bloom, talking about what the best 4K cameras are for different projects. We’ll also be taking a look at the specific challenges of how to record 4K and, more importantly, how to edit 4K and the challenges that provides. Philip’s got some really insightful comments and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you next week.

Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests this week on the show, starting with Kim Furst, the producer, director and editor. It was wonderful listening to her and her background of how she became what she is and the role that story plays in the projects that she creates; Dr Phil Storey, the CEO of XenData and looking at some new archiving opportunities for small workgroups; and Philip Bloom, the director, DP and filmmaker.

Larry Jordan: There’s a lot happening at The Buzz between shows and it’s all posted to our website, You can talk with us on Twitter, @dpbuzz, and chat with us on 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 you can email us at

Larry Jordan: Our producer is Cirina Catania, our engineer Adrian Price. My name is 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 — June 19, 2014

  • How to Become a Successful Documentary Filmmaker
  • Archiving Update from XenData
  • Philip Bloom on 4K Video (Part 1)

GUESTS: Kim Furst, Phil Storey, and Philip Bloom

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

Kim Furst, Producer/Director, Kilo Foxtrot Films

Kim Furst is a filmmaker who has produced, directed OR edited several independent documentaries, including “Flying The Feathered Edge”, “The Horsemen Cometh”, and “One Six Right.” Tonight, Kim joins The BuZZ to share some of her thoughts on what it takes to successfully market and sell your documentary.

Phil Storey, Co-founder & CEO, XenData, Inc.

As media files continue to explode in size and quantity, long-term archiving is becoming more essential – and confusing. Dr. Phil Storey, CEO of XenData, joins us with an update on new archiving tools from XenData.

Philip Bloom
, DOP, Editor, Director

In the first of a two-part interview, recorded in England, DP/Director/Editor Philip Bloom shares his thoughts on the advantages and disadvantages of shooting, editing and distributing 4K video.

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 – June 12, 2014

Digital Production Buzz

June 12, 2014

[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]


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Larry Jordan


Michael Cioni, CEO, Light Iron

Jessica Sitomer, Founder, The Greenlight Coach

Oliver Peters, Editor, Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC


Voiceover: The digital production Buzz is brought to you by Black Magic 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 back-up, 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? 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. I’m in London this week, so we pre-taped this show, which is why our co-host Mike Horton, has the night off.

Larry Jordan: Tonight we’re focused on remote collaboration; looking at products, services and the human side of working remotely. We start with Michael Cioni, the CEO of Light Iron, our post-production facility based in New York and Los Angeles. They have a new program called Live Play 3 that provides real-time logging and review of onset dailies.

Larry Jordan: Next is Jessica Sitomer, the CEO of the Greenlight Coach; looking at the human side of working remotely, building teams and staying grounded.

Larry Jordan: And then finally, Oliver Peters, the President of Oliver Peters Post-Production Services, joins us to talk about Avid’s newest strategic direction, Avid Everywhere.

Larry Jordan: Just to remind you 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 every show page; learn more at and thanks Take 1 for making our transcripts possible.

Larry Jordan: This week I’m travelling with the folks at the TV Bay show as they tour three cities throughout England; which means we recorded the Buzz just before I left; so I look forward to telling you about my trip on next week’s show. Remember to visit us on Facebook at; we’re also on Twitter @DPBuZZ; and subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at, which gives you an inside look, every week, at both our show and the industry.

Larry Jordan: I’ll be back with Michael Cioni of Light Iron right after this.

Larry Jordan: Black Magic 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; it also offers EF and ZE compatible lens mounts and records to a superfast SSD drive. Capturing high quality ProRes files, the Black Magic Production camera 4K gives customers a complete solution to shoot amazing high resolution music videos; episodic television productions; television commercials; sports; documentaries and much, much more.

Larry Jordan: The Black Magic Production camera 4K also features an incredibly tempting price of $2995. Learn more about the Black Magic Production camera 4K, that is definitely priced to move, visit today.

Larry Jordan: As the CEO of Light Iron, Michael Cioni has supervised digital intermediates and workflow on hundreds of feature films, including ‘Ender’s Game’, ‘The Muppets Most Wanted’ and ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’.

Larry Jordan: As an industry leader for onset post production, Light Iron’s outpost mobile post systems are used on more than 100 major motion pictures, television shows and commercials every year; and now they’ve released something new. Welcome back Michael, good to have you with us.

Michael Cioni: Thank you Larry, great to be here.

Larry Jordan: Give us a quick capsule description of what Light Iron is doing today?

Michael Cioni: Well today we are really experiencing so much of the mobility that people want. Democratization and technological development wants to move, it wants to be flexible, it wants to be wherever the production is; and focusing on that through mobile carts is great. But even mobile carts aren’t as flexible as people can be; and so the latest thing that we’ve been working on for about a year is called Live Play 3, which we are so excited to finally be deploying to the market.

Larry Jordan: Okay, but let’s back up a step, because you did not get the business to be a software developer, you got in the business to be a post house.

Michael Cioni: That’s right. It’s a great point because, what I found is, being a post house isn’t easy; it’s extremely difficult to be a post house because it is so rapidly changing; and even small companies and medium companies, it can be very difficult to respond to the changes in the market which happen so quick. So software development has been something we started years ago and it’s just grown and grown and grown and I think it’s probably one of our favorite services that we provide.

Michael Cioni: I think we have, somewhere in the neighborhood of maybe 30 applications we build; most of them are just for internal use. But when we get to the drawing board with some of the ones we release to the public, that’s really where it becomes exciting.

Larry Jordan: Why so?

Michael Cioni: For me it’s all about creative control. I feel like creative control is like a race, it’s this big challenge, it’s like Mount Everest; and the idea is, if you can climb high enough, you know, you get all these accolades, you get all these rewards and things like that. Creative control is something that people are always after, especially cinematographers and especially producers and directors. They want to be able to control the content no matter where they are.

Michael Cioni: The funny thing is, is when we did everything in an analogue world – mainly film based, creative control actually was pretty strong because this work that was being done was sort of locked up in this negative and it was kind of like, you put it in a box and you locked it up and only the people physically touching it were able to manipulate it. That’s actually very powerful for creative people because it is total control.

Michael Cioni: You’re not going to, you know, develop film in your bathtub Larry, you’re not going to like probably have 35 million film projectors at home to, you know, stream up dailies and sync sound; it just didn’t happen. So creative control was good.

Michael Cioni: But as digital democratization came along, that control started to get away from people and even when you think about really good quality monitors on set, everybody’s got an opinion, everybody can see it, everybody can say something; and these cameras do such a great job. They almost make the job look easy and that’s not good either, because it’s not easy, but it makes it look simple.

Michael Cioni: So the software development that has really excited us is to be able to return creative control by leveraging the technology out there and give it to the people that matter; and if we can put the brakes or the jet engine onto tools and applications, we can then help throttle what creative control can be given to each individual on a show.

Larry Jordan: So tell me what Live Play is.

Michael Cioni: Live Play is a cloud based collaboration database and sort of media center. But it’s bigger than a lot of the other ones that just provide a metadata center because it is the only tool that’s designed to work on the set equally as off the set.

Michael Cioni: So, that’s where the creative collaboration starts to break down with other systems; it’s because, they don’t necessary have a presence on the actual production side, they wait till the dailies start to get created.

Michael Cioni: For us, Live Play actually is tied to each camera; so it actually is broadcasting its signal, so that you can see the cameras even if you’re not on the set. So a Visual Effects Supervisor offset or a DP at a second unit, they can actually see what’s happening to other cameras, even though they’re not there; so it’s real-time camera control. But it also then allows for video assist in playback because it’s constantly recording everything you do when the camera actually rolls; so it’s a video assist support tool.

Michael Cioni: But then, it’s taking those records and it’s putting them on the cloud; and you can take those records and put them on the cloud or you can replace those records with colored synced polished files and then you can see it when you’re off set.

Michael Cioni: So you have this video assist live broadcast deal and this take home dailies all wrapped into one system that enables people to start looking at footage and sort that footage and start actually editing that footage before they even go to bed that night. That’s the type of creative control I think people are really hungry for; they want speed; there’s a huge change in the market with people shooting offsite and they’re shooting in any state and city and county in the world and we want to bring that back to give them control.

Larry Jordan: Let’s take about five steps back here. I can understand why you’re excited about your product, but playing devil’s advocate here, most cameras now are Wi-Fi equipped; why do we need Live Play? And how are you dealing with security on the cloud, to reassure me that all of my visual images are not going to end up in a torrent stream somewhere. And how hard is this to run? I mean, it sounds to me that the devil is in the details.

Michael Cioni: Yes, the devil absolutely is in the details, you’re absolutely right about that. The truth is, when it comes to total control, you want to make sure that you have security; that is obviously the biggest thing about that. We actually use 256 bit TLS encryption; this stuff is, for lack of a better term in the world, bulletproof and that’s really critical for us to make sure that all productions are secure in that sense.

Michael Cioni: But you said like Wi-Fi equipped cameras. The truth is, when you’re dealing with cameras that are pushing any type of file up to the cloud, those are not actually matched back to the camera original negative; it’s a proxy file that is disassociated with the actual camera negative. For example, if you were to send in many situations, a picture from a camera up to the cloud, it doesn’t have the same timecode, it doesn’t have the same filename, it doesn’t know what magazine it belonged to. It doesn’t know what frame rate it was actually recorded in, if it was over-cranked. It doesn’t know things like color temperature and ISO and lens information.

Michael Cioni: Those are the types of things that separate a metadata rich file from just sort of a blatant proxy file. These aren’t low res proxy versions, these are actually timecoded files that can replace your negative when it’s on the cloud. So it’s like having real negative wherever you go. That’s something that the other Wi-Fi equipped cameras can’t provide and that’s a huge advantage for people that want to be making frame based notes.

Michael Cioni: That’s one thing that’s really special about Live Play, it’s actually frame based, not take based and not second based, it’s literally frame based. You make a note on a frame, that frame information can be transmitted to Avid or Final Cut or Premiere and the editors can know exactly what someone mentioned about that particular frame.

Larry Jordan: How are you getting that signal? Are you tapping into the side of the camera itself or how are you getting all that metadata and adding it to the video stream?

Michael Cioni: Great question. Well there’s so many different ways to do it, because we don’t want to do it one way, because not everybody works the same way; so if you typically use a video village approach, video village is going to have a video signal sent to it from the cameras. That’s one way; we actually tap out of video village and we put that into a computer which runs Light Iron Server, which is basically the brains of the operation. That is capturing all the metadata through the bit stream and that’s one way to get a lot of that information.

Michael Cioni: Because camera companies are putting a lot of that metadata inside their SDI streams, for people like us to hook it and grab it and implement it. But other people don’t use VTR, they don’t have a robust video village. So the way Light Iron Server works is, if you take camera downloads and you download those magazines and you process them in Resolve or Colorfront or something like that, you often get an XML or an ALE out of those renders you create on your little render kit.

Michael Cioni: Light Iron Server can read those XMLs and ALEs and it will populate its database using those; so you can have the clips online and you can actually throw up the database later and it will instantly populate all the clips with the metadata that came from the original negative. It can happen instantly when you shoot or it can happen later after you process it.

Larry Jordan: I was just reflecting, as I was doing some research prior to this interview, that there’s a lot of video and media review applications. There’s Switch from Telestream; Sorenson 360 from Sorenson; Pro Player from Digital Heaven and a bunch of players that have tried to enter the market and have just failed. Why is this space so interesting and yet so difficult to satisfy?

Michael Cioni: Number one reason is control of the source. When you are a cloud based review tool, you don’t have the ability to control or really even influence how the media is actually created. You’re just waiting for that media to come into existence and then you take it and you push it around. With Live Play 3, we actually have very, very specific tools that allow people to optimize the footage they create. So we’re helping instruct them how to create the footage and Live Play can actually make a lot of that footage on its own. So it’s able to start communicating deeper with the original cameras.

Michael Cioni: It really goes back to that issue Larry, it’s to get away from the proxy file. It has to be a proxy just to stream through the internet. We understand that, but that’s the only component of the word proxy I want to borrow; everything else I want it to behave like original negative. 4K, 5K, 6K, those types of things; that’s really the biggest difference between Live Play and everything else.

Michael Cioni: The other component to this is the fact that it is not just dailies review, it’s also video assist, it’s also an asset manager, it also makes reports, it also catalogues camera reports and script notes; and it’s all about the hooks. Like pitching a big tent; if you want to pitch a big tent you’ve got to put a lot of stakes in the ground and anchor it down. Live Play has so many anchors into so many other great tools and cameras out there, that it makes it easier for people to integrate into their workflow.

Larry Jordan: You’ve mentioned the fact that, one of the brains behind this is Light Iron Server. Does that mean that, in order to use Live Play, people need to hire Light Iron to put this together?

Michael Cioni: Great question and the answer is absolutely not. Light Iron Server is actually the service that you’re paying for, similar to Netflix. It’s like Netflix is, you’re paying for the Netflix service and that’s how Light Iron Server works and anybody can have access to that.

Michael Cioni: The actual application or HTML version of the tool is something that is free; everybody can have access to that. Just like you can be anywhere in the world and log into your Netflix account and you can either play the movies you want to see. Live Play is the same way. You are paying for the web as a service and the actual applications that you interface with are free.

Michael Cioni: We make it available to everybody worldwide. We know that we can’t actually provide post-production services on every project, but thankfully we know that every project needs some sort of post-production service and therefore, we’re able to implement a tool that is lacking for a lot of people in the market.

Michael Cioni: You know, another thing Larry is that there’s probably a lot of people listening that have never really used a central database for their projects; it’s still very new to a lot of people.

Michael Cioni: The idea is, we want to give them the best introductory solution for true collaboration. Some people will come up with like ways to use like Dropbox or even iTunes like podcasting and those are great alternatives; but those aren’t collaborative, they’re just a way to like use the webmail to move pictures around the world. But the truth is, we want people to really truly collaborate and that’s why Light Iron Server, as a service, is something that everyone can have.

Larry Jordan: We’ve got the server, we’ve got Live Play Version 3, what kind of technical overhead is necessary to get this set up and running? What I’m trying to figure out is, who’s the customer for this?

Michael Cioni: Yes. Most customers are going to be people that are not shooting and then going home on their shoots; they’re probably on the road, they might be out of town, or they just want access to things quickly. They want faster turnarounds. They don’t want to wait a day or two for things to come to them and that’s becoming more and more common.

Michael Cioni: But the other things you need to run Light Iron Server is just a Mac computer. Light Iron Server is an OS10 application and what’s great is, if you like to go directly from the camera, Light Iron Server is a great tool for that. If you want to render files, you can use Scratch, you can use Colorfront Express, you can use Resolve, you can even use Premiere and Episode and things like that. However people prefer to make files, we want to integrate that information, those tools into ours. So we’re not controlling the way people have to work.

Michael Cioni: We’ve made Light Iron Live Play flexible enough that it can integrate with a system they’ve already used. It’s like a Swiss Army Knife Larry, it is so deep. Very few people will get to every single tool that is embedded in this application; so that’s why people can find what they’re comfortable with and integrate it into their workflow slowly.

Larry Jordan: Is this best used in a scripted environment or reality? In other words, if I’m a producer sitting back trying to figure out, is this for me? What questions do they need to get answered to decide if Live Play can help them?

Michael Cioni: Great question. Think of like iPhoto or Lightroom or something like that. Are those best for wedding videographers, wedding photographers or are they best for someone who just likes to catalogue their family photos, or are they best for students? When an application is designed as good as it can be and they’re designed well, all of a sudden it crosses those lines and people don’t have to be limited by the type of work that they do.

Michael Cioni: Live Play as a data asset manager and dailies review tool, it doesn’t really care how you arrange things; it’s all arranged by the way you prefer to work, so if you’re episodic, you like to work in episodes, if you’re feature you like to work by shoot days and scenes. If you’re reality you often work by location and because this tool is designed to have tagging just like on Facebook. You’re seeing all the tagging become very, very common on Facebook and it’s able to almost recognize people’s faces and you have these quick little touches where you can, this is me, this is my Mom and this is my friend.

Michael Cioni: That’s how Live Play works; so that you can create rapid tagging which makes it easy for everyone to view, because of course in Facebook, once you tag that person, anyone who sees that photo automatically gets the benefit of the searching of those tags. Live Play is the same way. Once I tag something happened at night in the barn with such and such person, everyone who’s on that same project can use those tags to automatically filter for them. So it’s truly collaborative.

Larry Jordan: When do you plan to have the software available?

Michael Cioni: We’re starting our first beta now and you can go to and you can actually sign up for the beta and we get information about your project and then we can start providing the beta for you. But the full release will probably be early August, where everyone will be able to start taking advantage of this tool.

Larry Jordan: And have you figured out pricing yet?

Michael Cioni: Pricing is sort of like a cell phone company, it’s based on how many gigs you actually need. So we don’t want to penalize people that have very few gigs versus people that will need a lot. The pricing structure can be as little as $250 a week for 25 people to be using it; or you can go up to 500 people using it. So it just depends on the size of your production and how many gigs of dailies you’re going to be able to use.

Michael Cioni: But if you’re a small independent production and you’ve got five to ten people, 250 bucks a week gives you enough for almost a week’s worth of dailies to be reviewed by all your people; and that’s a really, really great entry level way to get involved.

Larry Jordan: And where can people go on the web to learn more?

Michael Cioni:

Larry Jordan: And Michael Ciona is the CEO of Light Iron. Michael, it’s always a pleasure talking with you. Thanks for sharing your time.

Michael Cioni: Thank you Larry.

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Larry Jordan: Jessica Sitomer is a Job Coach and helps people find work; she’s also, and we’re very grateful for this fact, a regular on the Buzz and she’s the CEO of the Greenlight Coach. But, what we really like best about Jessica is that she is really, really good at providing really helpful job-hunting advice. Jessica, welcome back.

Jessica Sitomer: It’s great to be here, as always.

Larry Jordan: We are always delighted to have you return. We find that a vote of confidence that is just wonderful. We were just talking with Michael Cioni, who was saying that productions today want to be mobile and next segment we’re going to talk to Oliver Peters about Avid’s new initiative called Avid Everywhere.

Larry Jordan: It seems like the idea of staying in one location is a thing of the past. So what are the challenges in remote collaboration?

Jessica Sitomer: Well the challenges are that you’re not all working together in one place; so there’s a little bit lacking on the accountability side and there’s also a lack of creating relationships there which, you know, some people see as a real benefit to working together. However, you can have both while working remotely, it’s just a matter of having the skills and knowing how to do it.

Larry Jordan: Well that’s exactly what I wanted to spend a little bit of time talking with you about because increasingly, productions are scattered across the globe, with different people creating different elements. So we find ourselves working remotely and often times with people that we don’t know and having met. How do we get them to care about our production?

Jessica Sitomer: Well the first thing I would do is look them up. You can Google them, you can IMDb them and really do a little research on who it is that you’re going to be working with. Once you can find a few things that you can talk to them on a personal level about, I would advise having a Skype session with them; just so you can see each other face to face. It benefits both parties.

Jessica Sitomer: Now in some cases it’s going to be a producer who is working with crew, in some cases it will be crew working with other crew. So either way it’s making sure that you don’t put anybody on a pedestal. Treat everybody with respect, but make sure you feel comfortable that you can talk to anybody. Because, when you get on Skype you’re seeing them face to face and it’s like being with them personally; because you can see their physiology, you can hear their tonality and, you know, if you’re a crew person talking to a producer, they’re going to take a lot more personal interest in you, which is a good thing. Because then, the next time they have another production that’s remote, they’re going to have the confidence in you.

Jessica Sitomer: That would be the first thing to do. Do your research on them, get to know a little bit about them that can start a good phone conversation and then once they like you on that phone conversation, just ask for a quick Skype session. Say, “I like to see the people who I’m working for or working with and I’d like to get to, you know, have a little face to face time since we are remote”. You know, Skype is free and it’s everywhere; it’s great.

Larry Jordan: One of the things I find interesting about the Buzz is that we really cover a worldwide industry. We talk with people across the world every week. This reflects, I think, what our lives are like right now; it seems like we’re increasingly everywhere and yet nowhere. There’s a lack of an anchor in our life about where we’re supposed to be. How do we get ourselves grounded?

Jessica Sitomer: You know, it’s interesting that you ask me that, considering that I’ve been a gypsy for the last three years. You know, I was talking about my travelling schedule and literally I can be in three different states in one month.

Jessica Sitomer: The way I stay grounded is, literally I have a picture of my dog on my laptop, so that every time I open it I see that; it feels grounded as home. But, you know, I think that our industry has always been very travel oriented depending on what classification you’re in; so it’s just a matter of having that feeling of, I am so grateful that this is my life and that I get to be anywhere in the world and can do what I love. That wherever you are, that’s where home is.

Jessica Sitomer: Now if you’re being taken away from family, that’s a different story; you have other tools for that, which we’ve discussed on past episodes, so get the archives. But we’re talking about people who are in remote locations and working for all different places and how do they feel grounded that that’s home. Especially if they’re being uprooted to another place to work remotely.

Jessica Sitomer: So, you want to bring personal things from home, you want to recognize that this is most likely temporary, if you’ve been taken out of your actual home and it all comes down to your attitude. It’s all how you perceive it. You can perceive this as, “Oh this is so inconvenient” this is, you know, “Turning my life upside down” or you can say, “How exciting I get to be some place else and I get to call this home for a while and, you know, everybody on Facebook is going to be envious that I’m here” you know.

Jessica Sitomer: You know, it’s really attitude when it comes down to where is home. You know, home is where the heart is. It’s true, it’s like wherever you are, that’s where home is and there’s plenty of ways to communicate with the people you love and to stay in touch and, like I said, Skype can be used for that as well.

Larry Jordan: For people that have been in production for a long time, this is an easy question to answer, but for people that are getting started it’s hard. When you’re working with people you haven’t worked with before, on a remote location, both cast and crew. How do you build a sense of team spirit and how do you fit yourself in?

Jessica Sitomer: Well part of that is the responsibility of the leaders; the producers, the department heads. You know, what’s interesting is you can model like an MLM, which is Multi Level Marketing company and basically you have groups of people, we’ll use as an analogy, who all work remotely, all work from home. However, they have team leaders and under those teams they have other levels of leadership and that’s how you can look at it.

Jessica Sitomer: So you might have a producer who, once a week you all get on the team call, you all talk about where you are within your projects and, you know, do something positive to make everybody feel good. You know, go around, give everyone a compliment for something that they did. If you need to do a feedback sandwich, do that, where you say something positive and then something that they need to work on and then end with a positive; if you need something that needs to be worked on; and then you can take it down a level.

Jessica Sitomer: Once the producer does that, then each department can have, whoever the department head is, they can have a team meeting; and that’s what you call it, you call it a team meeting so people feel like they’re part of a team. That’s part of it.

Jessica Sitomer: Emails, you can send emails to everyone. You know, inspirational, motivational, everybody send a picture out this week of where you are, a picture of your desk. Little things like that make people feel part of something. It’s what I do with my, you know, Greenlight intensives in the past and my mentor program now. You know, we’re all over the country the people in my mentor program, so I have them post things. You know, post a story about yourself this week that nobody knows.

Jessica Sitomer: Even though there’s a group in LA or a group in Vancouver, you know, the few people in New York or the few people in Atlanta or Nashville or New Orleans, like, they kind of feel alone but then they feel like part of a group. So it’s creating that team group mentality and doing leadership exercises with them, so that they do feel a part of it.

Jessica Sitomer: I just wanted to also comment on what you said earlier about how for the new people getting into the industry it’s harder which is actually a mindset because, you don’t know what you don’t know. You know, in my opinion we’re challenging for people who have not worked remotely all these years and all of a sudden are having to do something out of their comfort zone; where the people who are coming into it and are new, this is all they’re going to know, so this is going to feel very comfortable to them.

Jessica Sitomer: It’s the people who have been in it for a while, who’ve never had to work remotely, who are going to have to adjust and have a really positive attitude about it, that they can continue working.

Larry Jordan: One of the axioms that I’ve heard, and I tend to believe in, is that we hire the people we know. But what if you’re in a remote location and don’t know anyone?

Jessica Sitomer: Well that’s why I always suggest getting mentors in the main production cities where you could work because people can get to know you through mentorship. Business advice and guidance mentorships where you are having conversations with them to move your career forward, for them to give you business advice on what you can be doing from where you are to, you know, help you and they’ll tell you like what they’ve done.

Jessica Sitomer: Through that, you go out and do the things they tell you to do. The first conversation they get to know you, second conversation they get to trust you, because now you’ve done the things that they’ve suggested that you do. So, oh this person listens, even though he’s so far remote, he still did the three things I told him to do. Now I know I can trust him.

Jessica Sitomer: Now I’ll give him some more things that maybe I wouldn’t have been willing to tell him in the first conversation. Maybe I’ll introduce him to somebody, maybe, you know, I can give him a day to work remotely, you know, on one of my shows or somebody’s show I know. By the third conversation they care about you; and then once they care about you, then they’re really thinking about you, especially because you’ve asked them to be your mentor.

Jessica Sitomer: Now they’re going to be looking for things to do to help you get ahead, you’re on top of mind and that’s what you want to do. The problem is, when you don’t know people and you’re just sending blind, you know, resumes and cover letters, it’s a complete stranger; so they have no reason to. You have to create these relationships, either on social media or through mentorships and through referrals to people, so that this way you can know the people before the productions start happening. You want to start targeting the people who are always busy, in the closest production city to you, or in the major production cities, who you know are always busy in the types of things that you want to be working on.

Larry Jordan: Jessica, I could sit and talk with you for hours. You have such wonderful suggestions. For people that want to learn more about what you’re writing and what you’re doing, where can they go on the web?

Jessica Sitomer: They can go to and sign up for my newsletters and find out everything about me; or, to learn how to do great cover letters, so you really stand out. There’s a free webinar there for you to watch; the five things you never want to put in a cover letter.

Larry Jordan: See, you tell me this stuff at the end of the interview and now I want to do another 25 minutes about what we should not put in a cover letter. We’re going to have to invite you back.

Jessica Sitomer: Well that’s why I do it that way.

Larry Jordan: Jessica Sitomer is the CEO of the Greenlight Coach. Her website is and Jessica, as always, thanks for joining us.

Jessica Sitomer: Thanks for having me.

Larry Jordan: Oliver Peters is based in Central Florida and has been in the post-production business for over 35 years. He’s an award-winning editor and colorist; runs Oliver Peters Post-Production Services. He’s also a Contributing Editor to videography, DV and TV technology magazines and it’s always a delight having a chance to visit. Welcome back Oliver, good to have you with us.

Oliver Peters: Thank you, glad to be here.

Larry Jordan: Oliver, this week we’ve been looking at the challenges in remote collaboration. We talked first with Michael Cioni about their new Live Play 3 for remote viewing and logging of digital dailies. Then we talked with Jessica Sitomer about the personal challenges of working on location. One of the hot things that was announced at NAB this year is something from Avid called Avid Everywhere, which is what I want to chat with you about. What is it?

Oliver Peters: Well Avid Everywhere is sort of a coalescing of all of their existing products and new products to come around a concept that they call Everywhere. So Avid has historically had ranks in shared storage and collaborative workflows, both in news and feature films and so on, and this concept kind of makes that more a whole rather than a bunch of individual little parts.

Larry Jordan: Well is this a series of products, a business plan or a strategic vision?

Oliver Peters: All of the above.

Larry Jordan: Really?

Oliver Peters: On a real basic product level you’ve had storage which historically has gone under the names of ISIS and Unity and so on. You’ve had asset management called Interplay and then you’ve had the various products; Media Composer and Pro Tools, being what most people tend to use in the Avid world.

Oliver Peters: Those all interact and what this does is kind of makes that more around the concept of, here’s a platform and the platform can have this tool; a video editing tool or a music creation tool that plugs into the platform.

Oliver Peters: In the Pro Tools world that would mean something like two composers collaborating across the world with each other; part of it over the web, part of it in some sort of facility based shared storage. Same thing for editors.

Larry Jordan: I was looking at the products that Avid announced at NAB which reflected this new strategy. There was Media Composer 7, there was Pro Tools 11; then there’s Motion Graphics 2.5 and Fast Track Solo and Duo; Interplay Production and Pulse and Airspeed 5000. It seems to me that this strategy really is targeted at the very high end of the market. Should filmmakers even be paying attention?

Oliver Peters: Well sure, absolutely. Obviously if you are, you know, NBC Universal and in your television operation you’ve got hundreds of systems, that’s one kind of infrastructure, right? And that takes a lot of hand holding and systems integration, as well as in-house engineering efforts.

Oliver Peters: On the other hand, if you’re a feature film where you may have one editor and a few assistants and you’ve got shared storage, that’s a much smaller footprint and can generally be configured either by one savvy consultant or possibly a reseller or a rental operation. So there are variations to that.

Oliver Peters: Obviously there’s market pressure; so there’s certainly pressure to have smaller, lighter versions of all of this that require less IT knowledge and, you know, Avid certainly acknowledges they’ve been, you know, asked to deliver that; whether or not we see that, that’s something else.

Larry Jordan: What do you view as the goal of Avid Everywhere?

Oliver Peters: Well Avid Everywhere, I think, is partially to kind of decouple a particular tool from a particular location. For example, part of this concept is a marketplace concept, which up till now has lived in the products primarily as a web portal to buy plug-ins and so on. But they also view this as a way, for instance, where a composer could post music and set his own licensing fees and so on and so forth.

Oliver Peters: You know, you kind of have a community environment where maybe another Pro Tools user across the world can search this marketplace and say, “Ah I like that music” and Avid’s tools essentially provide the mechanism by which that thing can be posted; that an approval version can be downloaded and then paid for and so on.

Oliver Peters: There definitely is a vision going forward, not all of those products currently exist in that form but, you know, part of what was rolled out at NAB tends to be sort of under the hood hooks that make all of the rest of it possible.

Larry Jordan: One of the things I was talking about recently with a composer is that, the traditional image that we have of the whole band gathering together in a studio and laying down a multi track version of the song all at one time has pretty much disappeared, except for the very, very high end, most famous of all the groups. Most of the time what happens is, a producer will record a track and they will just send that track to somebody somewhere else in the country who then plays their part against the track. Rather than the collaboration at the end of the music, it’s the collaboration during the creation of the music, which is what I think Pro Tools 11 was built to support. Are you getting the same feeling from Avid?

Oliver Peters: Yes, definitely getting that. I mean they use exactly those same sorts of examples in some of their smaller presentations; so that’s definitely the case.

Oliver Peters: It’s a little harder to do with video yet, just because video tends to hog more bandwidth; but that’s where Avid’s now called Media Composer Cloud, what was previously called Interplay Sphere, adds that dynamic on the video side. It’s a little bit different because, Media Composer Cloud is the full Media Composer software, but it gives you the added ability to essentially phone home to your home based facility and pull shots in.

Oliver Peters: You know, let’s say you’re cutting a news story somewhere in the middle of the country and you need to get a particular source clip back from the main network in New York, that’s what Interplay Sphere does, which is now Media Composer Cloud. So it allows you to essentially connect to the shared storage back halfway across the country and bring those clips in.

Larry Jordan: I want to talk more about the cloud in a second, but I was just thinking that, I think Adobe has got a better handle on this than Avid does, as I understand from your description because Adobe is basically doing a streaming version of whatever your file happens to be, without needing to download it. Whereas Avid is simply going up to an existing server and pulling down the clip; which strikes me as slower and more cumbersome.

Oliver Peters: Well it depends on the objectives. I’d say the Avid approach is a hybrid approach; so it’s meant to edit locally but then be able to connect across a longer distance. Whereas the Adobe version means, everything goes back to the home base and then all editors, or it could be the director reviewing the cut or whatever, is pulling back from that central location. It’s a little bit different objective and certainly a different workflow.

Larry Jordan: How would you compare the two and do you think Adobe has got it right, or do you think Avid’s got it right, or do you think it’s not a question of right or wrong?

Oliver Peters: I don’t know that it’s a question of right or wrong. One of the limitations, I think, is how much internet bandwidth you have, right? So if you are only pulling material back from some central location, then the streaming concept works pretty well because they’re basically only sending you proxy media to your desktop; in the case of Adobe. But any final mastering would happen with the high res material back at the home base.

Oliver Peters: But, if you have new original content at your remote site, that you need to get back into the server, you have to upload it and that’s going to depend on the pipes you have available to you and wherever you are in the world, right? So, if you’re in a place that has good internet connectivity, then it tends to be a pretty good two-way street. If you’re in the middle of somewhere that doesn’t have good internet connectivity, then it tends to be more of a one-way street. Potentially with FedEx still involved in the process there.

Larry Jordan: Yes, there’s a point where shipping hard disks is faster than trying to email or FTP stuff.

Oliver Peters: Yes, I mean the method of collaboration most people have tended to have, even in the Avid world, you know, has tended to be mirroring sets of drives with media and then simply shuttling project files across, right? If I’ve got two editors across the country from each other and they both have an identical copy of the media, then the actual edit decision information is very small and that can be emailed FTP, Dropbox; any number of ways to get it back and forth.

Oliver Peters: You know, that tends to be sort of the poor man’s approach that everybody’s been doing for a while and I think, these companies are trying to go beyond that. The Adobe argument seems pretty compelling but it’s not particularly cheap because the servers and the shared storage, you know, all tend to add up.

Oliver Peters: Likewise with Avid, to be really effective with it, you need the shared storage and the other rest of the infrastructure; and there’s also Quantel who has a very similar system as well in their YouTube product and it’s primarily targeted for news operations.

Larry Jordan: One of the things, in addition to bandwidth, that makes me really skeptical about the cloud is security. Every day it seems we read about the latest hacker breaking into yet another secure cloud storage facility. How is Avid resolving this concern?

Oliver Peters: I’m not 100% sure of the technical details of this, but I believe they’re using VPN as a method of getting into, you know, the system. Typically, if you’re in a regular Avid shop that’s got Unity and Interplay, ISIS, whatever; those machines tend to be off of the internet connection right? You know, most of the chief engineers are pretty nervous about internet connectivity and so those machines tend to be restricted in the first place. It really doesn’t start to become an issue until we start going outside and trying to connect.

Oliver Peters: You know, definitely in the Hollywood community you’ve got some structures like PICS, which is used a lot to move dailies around; and obviously they are promoting the security aspects because they’re dealing with major studios and there’s a lot of concern with piracy in addition to hacking.

Oliver Peters: In terms of the Adobe approach, I believe it’s also using a VPN structure. So it’s a little bit different than just connecting to a public Wi-Fi and going in; although that can be done too, I believe.

Larry Jordan: I want to take a step back and wear your business owner hat for just a second. Avid’s been in the press a lot, especially lately with all the financial turmoil and restatement of financial results and money losing quarters that they’ve had. Is Avid Everywhere going to get lost in the shuffle? I mean Avid’s fighting a lot of different alligators and a lot of different swamps.

Oliver Peters: Yes, to some extent they tend to fall into the too big to fail kind of category; particularly for large broadcast operations. It’s hard to say. I certainly wouldn’t say that their financial position looks rosy; they appear to still be burning through cash. But, at least at this point there are still some cash reserves. So that’s better than it could be.

Oliver Peters: However, you know, at some point you’ve got to turn the ship around and, you know, I don’t see that happening fast; so it’s really just a matter of, you know, how this all gets resolved.

Oliver Peters: You know, ultimately, the analysis and SEC paperwork and all of that takes time and, you know, for all we know it could come out significantly in their favor. But even if it does, the damage has been done right? Because, you know, publicity is negative no matter what and if at the end of the line the publicity turns out to be not so bad, well people never remember that.

Oliver Peters: I don’t know. I think that’s one of those things you can speculate forever and in the meantime the tools work, they get expanded upon; maybe not as quickly as we’d like but, you know, they get the job done and that’s where a lot of the editors kind of view it. If worst came to worse and the company were no longer there, the software that you have would continue to work, at least for a while, as long as some OS change didn’t completely break it.

Larry Jordan: So it sounds like, of all the things that’s keeping you awake in the middle of the night, this is not one of them.

Oliver Peters: No it’s not one of them and that’s largely, in my case, because I have a mix of customers that tend to want different editing tools; so I do projects still on Final Cut 7, I do projects on X, I do some on Premiere and some on Media Composer. So, you know, it’s not somewhere where I’ve got all my eggs in one basket. Now with Resolve 11 around the corner, who knows where that’s going to go.

Larry Jordan: Once again, Black Magic is muddying the waters.

Oliver Peters: Yes, but they are adding a collaborative element which is kind of interesting and we’ll see how that really plays out because clearly that’s complex, likewise Final Cut X, people keep hoping there’s some sort of collaboration coming around the corner and I don’t know. Now that you’ve got iDrive or whatever it’s called, will give us back what we had with iDisk. Maybe Final Cut X has a collaborative over the web factor that we don’t know about yet.

Larry Jordan: Well let’s put your editor hat on. We’ve got you changing hats left, right and sideways here. A client comes to you with a project and the project could be edited on Avid or Adobe or Apple. What would make you choose Avid?

Oliver Peters: Right now Avid is still, I feel, the most robust of the tools out there. I’ve done Premiere and X and Final Cut 7 projects; I’d say Final Cut 7 was pretty robust; but, you know, feeling its age with the 32 bit structure and all the new media that’s coming from cameras and so on. So with that, I still find that, if you’re going to put a ton of media into a project and you want the software to re-link to it and not lose it, you know, be there day in, day out, Media Composer still feels the strongest to me out of all of that and it seems the most consistent in terms of a data format that the project files are in.

Oliver Peters: Because Final Cut X and Premiere tend to keep evolving their project, it’s very difficult to have any sort of backwards compatibility. With Avid it’s a little bit better. You know, I can tender still open projects that I had from ten years ago and usually I can kind of go back a couple of versions, which is better than some and not as good as others.

Oliver Peters: Where I’m doing quick turnaround stuff, I’d probably go Final Cut X. If I were doing a large project, definitely feature films, something like that, these days I’d probably go Media Composer.

Larry Jordan: What would you use for color grading?

Oliver Peters: I’d tend to use Color a lot still, but I also use Resolve and SpeedGrade, to some extent. I also do a lot of color correcting just inside the NLE, with the tools that are there. It sort of depends on, you know, what does the job call for? If it’s a legitimate color grading job, like doing a show or a film or something like that, then I’m going to use a dedicated tool; so Color or Resolve. But if it’s just, okay, everything looks pretty good, you just need to kind of even out the cameras a bit, I think the tools inside the NLEs are all pretty solid.

Larry Jordan: I love chatting with you, you’ve got such good opinions and good advice. For people that want to hire you to color grade their next project, where can they go on the web to learn more?

Oliver Peters: Just contact me at the website which is

Larry Jordan: That’s and the Oliver Peters himself, the Founder and Owner of Oliver Peters Post Production Services; Oliver, thanks for joining us today.

Oliver Peters: Thank you very much; been a pleasure.

Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests this week, Michael Cioni, the CEO of Light Iron; Jessica Sitomer, the CEO of the Greenlight Coach; and Oliver Peters, the CEO of Oliver Peters Post-Production Services.

Larry Jordan: There’s a lot happening at the Buzz between shows and it’s all posted to our website, at Visit with us on Twitter @DPBuZZ and Facebook, Music on the Buzz is provided by SmartSound. The Buzz is streamed by Text transcripts are provided by Take 1 Transcription. You can email us at

Larry Jordan: Our Producer is Serena Katanya, our Engineer Adrian Price. On behalf of our co-Host Mike Horton, my name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to The Digital Production Buzz.

Voiceover: The Digital Production Buzz was brought to you by Black Magic 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 — June 12, 2014

  • Remote Collaboration with Live Play 3
  • The Human Side of Remote Collaboration
  • What “Avid Everywhere” Means to Editors

GUESTS: Michael Cioni, Jessica Sitomer, and Oliver Peters

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

Michael Cioni, CEO, Light Iron

Remote collaboration is forcing on-set video review to shift to The Cloud. Michael Cioni, CEO of Light Iron, joins us this week to discuss the challenges of today’s production and Light Iron’s latest release of Live Play 3.

Jessica Sitomer, President, The Greenlight Coach

Productions are no longer studio-based. Cast and crew are traveling to the far corners of the world and working with new people every day. Jessica Sitomer, CEO of The Greenlight Coach, joins us to discuss the human size of “going remote.”

Oliver Peters
, Editor, Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC

Avid recently announced “Avid Everywhere.” This week, Oliver Peters, President of Oliver Peters Post-Production Services, joins us to explain what this means in the real-world.

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 – June 5, 2014

Digital Production Buzz

June 5, 2014

[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]


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Larry Jordan

Michael Horton


Michael Berenbaum, A.C.E

Doug Pircher, General Manager, International Supplies

Chris Layhe, Director/DP/Editor, CLAI


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; Mike Horton has the night off.

Larry Jordan: Our first guest is feature film editor Michael Berenbaum. He’s edited ‘Sex in the City’, both versions, on film as well as the HBO series, as well as a wide variety of broadcast episodic programs and joins us tonight to share his thoughts on the craft of editing, which I am really looking forward to discussing with him.

Larry Jordan: The Cine Gear Expo was a Los Angeles exhibition and film series that celebrates all the different equipment that it takes to make movies. It opens tomorrow on the Paramount Studio lot in Hollywood. Tonight, Doug Pircher, the General Manager for International Supplies, joins us and, as we have learned talking with him at the NAB show many, many years over, no-one has a better eye for spotting very cool and very unknown toys like Doug.

Larry Jordan: And we wrap up with Chris Layhe. He’s a director, director of photography and editor for San Francisco based CLAI. He specializes in work for very high end clients. We’ll talk with him tonight about what it takes to keep high pressure clients happy.

Larry Jordan: Just 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. You can learn more at and thanks, Take 1, for making these transcripts possible.

Larry Jordan: We’re going to be on the road next week – I’m heading out to London on Saturday afternoon, arriving some time way too early on Sunday. I’m going to be taking part in a tour that’s being sponsored by the TV Bay Show. They’re a London based broadcast program that focuses on technology, especially media technology, and I’m part of the tour, along with Philip Bloom and VFX wizard HaZ Dulull and we’re going to start in London. We’ll be talking there on Monday the 9th; going to Manchester, talking there Wednesday the 11th and wrapping up in Birmingham on Friday the 13th.

Larry Jordan: I’m really excited about this. I’m going to be talking about Final Cut 10 in a professional environment and we’ll also be doing some one on one coaching. So if you have a chance, if you’re near London, Manchester or Birmingham, I would love to spend some time chatting with you. You can learn more by visiting It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to visit England – I was there in February with the BVE Show – but you’re sort of chained to your booth when that’s going on. I’m looking forward to visiting different cities and getting a chance to say hi to you if you have a chance to stop by and visit.

Larry Jordan: Remember, as long as we’re visiting, check us out on Facebook, at We’re also on Twitter, @dpbuzz, and you can subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at for an inside look at both our show and the industry. This newsletter gets released every Friday, roughly around noon. It’s published by our web manager, Tori, and she spends a lot of time putting more than just simply show announcements in it.

Larry Jordan: We’ve got inside insight, we have featured interviews from past weeks that you may not have had a chance to listen to, we highlight interesting websites and guests that we have on each week. It’s a really nice way to stay in touch with what’s happening on The Buzz and if you haven’t signed up yet, please do so. It’s free, shows up every Friday and we’d love to have you be part of our group.

Larry Jordan: I’ll be right back with Michael Berenbaum right after this.

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Larry Jordan: Michael Berenbaum served as the editor on both features of ‘Sex in the City’ and ‘Sex in the City 2’, the box office hits that were based on the HBO series, which Michael also edited. Along the way, he’s edited ‘The Americans’, ‘What To Expect When You’re Expecting’, ‘War, Inc.’ and ‘Hollywoodland’. He’s worked with such directors as Joel and Ethan Coen, John Turturro, Al Pacino, Julian Schnabel and Martin Scorsese. He’s been nominated for three Emmys, won one which was for the pilot episode of ‘Desperate Housewives’. He’s been busy. Hello, Michael. Welcome.

Michael Berenbaum: Hello Larry. Thanks for having me. That’s some introduction. Wow.

Larry Jordan: And the sad part is it’s all true, for those of us who aspire to that. You depress all of us. I was just thinking, as I was looking over your resume and wandering through the multitude of listings on IMDB, what got you started in editing?

Michael Berenbaum: Well, that goes back quite a way. The origins of it, I guess, were one weekend when I was about ten years old, I was bored and I said to my dad, “I’m bored, what can I do?” and he gave me his little 8mm movie camera that had a three lens turret on it and you had to load the film in the dark in the bathroom and I just went out with my friend and we shot a little movie.

Michael Berenbaum: Now, little did I know at the time, because people don’t notice editing when they’re watching something and I didn’t know what it was, but I knew that in this movie we were making, if I was going to cut between my friend and myself and there were just the two of us, he had to film me and then I had to film him and then he had to film me. So we sort of edited it in the camera.

Michael Berenbaum: That was the only way we could figure it out at the time; and then I just sort of made movies along the way through high school and went to NYU Film School and got an internship in an editing room in New York and met a lot of people in the building, it was a very social environment, and just got hired again from my internship, just from being there, being in the right place at the right time.

Larry Jordan: Being in the right place at the right time is a statement that virtually all of us can make.

Mike Horton: Yes. Well, you have to fill the requirements for the job and do well for the people who hire you again but it helps to have the luck to get that first opportunity.

Larry Jordan: I want to spend time today talking about the craft of editing. We spend a lot of time talking about technology and we’ll touch on that. But I want to focus a little bit more away from the stuff that plugs into the wall and more the stuff that goes on in your head.

Michael Berenbaum: Ok, because that’s the part I know least about.

Larry Jordan: I want to talk about that too, but as you look back on the stuff that you’ve edited so far, and you still have a lot of years left to go. What are some of your most memorable films or projects?

Michael Berenbaum: Certainly ‘Sex in the City’. When we started that in 1997, I did the pilot, and who knew that it was going to turn into what it did and it became an on and off job for 13 years.

Larry Jordan: Oh my goodness.

Michael Berenbaum: That’s highly unusual in this business. We did the pilot and then a year later it got picked up and I did six years of that. What’s really cool is you get to meet all these different people. Since it’s freelance, you never know who’s going to call you to work on a project. It’s always very exciting. I got a call one day, I was editing this small independent feature and I got a call, “Al Pacino wants to meet you.” I mean, that was insane, and then I went off and met Al Pacino and I worked with him over the course of three years.

Larry Jordan: What project did you work with him on?

Michael Berenbaum: That was a film called ‘Chinese Coffee’ that he directed. It was based on a play and it was basically Al and Jerry Orbach and it went on for three years. I started on it and then had to leave and other people took over and then Al kept calling me to come back and work on it, so it was great. We became good friends over the course of those years and that’s just crazy, to think that.

Larry Jordan: Well, just to drop one more name, you also worked with Martin Scorsese. What did you do with him?

Michael Berenbaum: The first film I did with him was called ‘After Hours’ and it was one of my first jobs and I was an apprentice sound editor on that job and I got to work with an amazing sound editor supervisor named Skip Lievsay and that was a low budget film that he was doing and I was told it was going to be a three or four week job and it turned into six months, and I got to learn so much just from being there.

Michael Berenbaum: We were in the sound department, but Marty and Thelma were just upstairs and we crossed paths and I got to hear Marty tell stories; and then a few years later I worked on ‘Goodfellas’ as one of the ADR editors – when actors come in and replace their dialog or add voiceover or something, so I was helping put all that stuff together.

Larry Jordan: All right, so put your editor hat back on again. We’ve fast forwarded to today. What I’m curious about is editing a feature film is not a small investment of time. You’re investing months and maybe years on the project. What criteria do you use to decide whether you want to invest that time editing a film or television program?

Michael Berenbaum: Well, when you get to the point where you have options, which isn’t always the case. They send you the script and you can decide whether you even like what it’s about or the type of genre it is or who’s involved and you don’t even have to go for an interview if you don’t like it. On the other hand, if you’re not working and the phone rings and somebody wants to hire you, I mean, that’s probably how I got most of my jobs, just by going, “Oh, yes, you want to hire me? I’ll take it.”

Larry Jordan: Yes, well, it’s true.

Michael Berenbaum: It just happened by coincidence that a lot of these things have been quality projects.

Larry Jordan: If you had to choose, you would choose based upon the script or you’d choose based on the director, based on the genre? In other words, you’ve got two scripts at the same time – let us hope that happens often – how do you make a decision?

Michael Berenbaum: You read the script, but it’s the experience that is the most fun thing about it. You’re spending a lot of time with these people, especially the director. You’ll be in an editing room with him for months at a time and if you like this person and you want to spend time with him and get to know him and hopefully work together on future projects, that’s a big incentive.

Michael Berenbaum: Even if it’s a great script and you just hear horrible things about the people doing it, it sort of puts you off. So it’s mostly the people because that’s the journey you’re taking. You’re getting to spend your days with these people and hopefully at the end of these projects you have something to show and people will like it.

Larry Jordan: Ok, so we’ve now made the decision, you want to edit a film, and you’ve read the script. Well, let’s even not go that far. You’ve made the decision to edit a film. Walk me through the process of what you do before the first daily shows up.

Michael Berenbaum: Well, you hire an assistant who is going to organize everything for you, and I have had a wonderful assistant named Carrie who’s worked with me for many years, and we will determine where we’re going to be editing, because it’s always a different place, whether we’re going to have to go to the location or we’re going to find an editing room in New York, which is where I mostly work, although I have worked in Los Angeles, and what equipment we’re going to need. Usually, it’s an Avid, of course, but what peripherals will we need?

Michael Berenbaum: Then it’s just where’s the lab, who else is involved, are there a lot of visual effects that we need to see pre-visuals of or are there storyboards that might help us to know what’s going to be shot? And it’s just getting ready. It doesn’t really start until we start getting the film.

Larry Jordan: It sounds to me like most of the work that you do is not getting wrapped up in the script, but rather get wrapped up in logistics and making sure you’ve got a space and people. Is that true?

Michael Berenbaum: Yes. At that point, you’re so close to filming, the script’s pretty much locked down. They may be doing small rewrites, but I’m usually not involved in that. If I know the director, I will tell him my thoughts and when you have an interview, that’s mostly what you’ll talk about – how do you like the script? Did it work for you? How do you see the characters?

Larry Jordan: So you’ll read the script before you even go to the interview?

Michael Berenbaum: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. They’ll send it to you ahead of time, because if you don’t know this person, that’s the icebreaker. It’s the one thing you have in common, you’ve both read the script, so it’s something you can talk about. If the director likes your ideas of what you’re presenting to him or likes your personality or whatever, that’s how you get the work, basically, other than your reputation or a recommendation. It’s a very personal experience.

Larry Jordan: You’ve said that one of the things that you do is you hire an assistant editor. How do you decide who does what?

Michael Berenbaum: In terms of…?

Larry Jordan: Their role, your role, and do you have anybody else on the editorial team?

Michael Berenbaum: You know what? Over the years, when Avids and computers took over for editing on film, the crews got much smaller. So you used to have a few assistants and some apprentice editors and now it’s usually just me and an assistant for most of the job, and maybe a post production assistant to help us out. Luckily, on the job I’m on now, we do have some apprentice editors, which I haven’t had for many years and it’s great to be able to have young people start in that position and see what’s going on.

Michael Berenbaum: Basically, Carrie, my assistant, or whoever it may be, will introduce herself to the lab people and everybody on the crew that we’ll be dealing with. We’ll contact the script supervisor and they’ll send us examples of their notes to see if it’s what we like or we’ll make adjustments. And once the film starts coming in, she will get the film from the lab, or the digital files, and organize it in the editing system, break it down into scenes, and then it comes to me and I just, scene by scene, start to go through it.

Larry Jordan: As the editor, how knowledgeable do you need to be about technology?

Michael Berenbaum: Well, I like to say that I’m on a need to know basis. I am not totally fluent in technology and I really rely upon my assistant and the tech team to help me out there. If I need to do certain visual effects, I do know how to do a lot of those but some come up and I’ll learn them as I need to know them. I try to stay out of it as much as possible.

Larry Jordan: How come?

Michael Berenbaum: Just so I can concentrate on the creative part. Certainly for people coming in, the more you know is beneficial and so everything you can learn to help you get that job is a good thing. For me, I know what I know, I know what works, I know what I need to do to get the job done and then anything else I need to know, I just pick it up on the fly.

Larry Jordan: Ok, so we’ve read the script, we’ve had the interview, you’ve been hired for the job. You’ve got your team, logistics and room put together. You said you’re editing on an Avid.

Michael Berenbaum: That’s what I usually use, yes.

Larry Jordan: The dailies come in and Carrie, your assistant, breaks them down. You’re ready to start cutting frame one. Where do you start?

Michael Berenbaum: Well, I start by looking at the script supervisor’s notes, the line script. It’s basically my connection to the set. She’s written down any information that the director wanted me to have, like they prefer this line from this take or don’t use this angle, the makeup got messed up, or this take they flubbed a line. I’ll go through that and then I’ll just start watching everything they’ve shot. In the old days, they used to just sit in a theater and screen all the stuff that was shot the day before with the editor, the director and some of the crew would come, the director of photography.

Michael Berenbaum: That doesn’t happen so much any more, so I’ll just look at the shots that I have available to me. Sometimes I’ll just look at one of each angle to just know what I have to work with and then, as I go through the scene, I’ll look at the options, if there are four or five takes. As I get to different sections of the scene, I’ll look at the four or five versions of that particular moment but I won’t necessarily watch everything right off the bat because I’m not a very good note taker and I usually forget which is the best one, so I have to watch it over and over again.

Michael Berenbaum: But I’ll just watch everything that’s shot, decide where the scene would start, what the scene’s about, what is the story that has to be told in this particular moment and who’s point of view is the scene being pulled from. And then I just instinctually find a starting place which is sometimes the hardest part, you know, where to begin because it’s not always after they yell action, because sometimes somebody will walk through a door and walk across the room and maybe that’s not the most interesting way to start the scene.

Michael Berenbaum: I’ll just explore the possibilities of where to begin and then proceed as if I am watching the movie – what would come next logically? Who do I want to be on? Do I need to be on this person’s face as they’re saying that line or is it more important to the story that I’m on the other person’s face while they hear that line? Do I want to be in a close-up or a wide shot?

Michael Berenbaum: I just put it together step by step, then I’ll take a break and go back and look at it and make some adjustments, and that will continue over the course of the entire job. But the first thing is just to get it together into some form of a scene.

Larry Jordan: Do you ever feel the film is finished? Or do they just sort of rip it from your hands because the deadline is upon you?

Michael Berenbaum: Well, on TV that happens a lot because the schedules are so short. Over the course of a season, the air dates tend to get closer and closer to when you finish the show, so sometimes you’re really scrambling at the end. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a situation where we weren’t satisfied that we had the best version that we could come up with. I don’t think we’ve ever said, “Oh, if we had another two weeks, this would be so much better.” I think we’re always at least completely satisfied at the moment that, ok, we’re done, it can go out into the world.

Larry Jordan: I’ve discovered that editors have a strong opinion about this next question – do you believe in visiting the set?

Michael Berenbaum: I know, some people just don’t like to do that, they don’t want to be influenced by the reality of what’s being filmed. I do like to go to the set, especially on the first day of filming, when I have no film yet because there’s not very much for me to do at that point except go and meet all the people that otherwise I would never meet.

Michael Berenbaum: Yes, of course, if I’m where they’re filming – sometimes they film in other locations and I’m still in New York – but if I’m there, I do like to go meet everybody, say hi, just so they know who I am, so you can put a face with a name, and say hi to the actors. Usually I’ll see an actor because I’ve been staring at their face for weeks and I’ll go up to them and forget they have no clue who I am. I feel as though I’ve known them my whole life and it’s very awkward, but I do like to take advantage of that because when you go to the party at the end of the job, you won’t know anybody otherwise.

Larry Jordan: That’s true. You’ve got a presentation coming up at the Sight, Sound and Story panel, the TV panel that mewshop is putting on. Tell us about that.

Michael Berenbaum: That’s right. I’m actually really excited about it. We have a great group of editors coming to join us and the clips that they’ve chosen that we’re going to show are really spectacular. Some of the best shows on TV right now, we have the editors from. We have Gary Levy, who’s worked on ‘Nurse Jackie’; and we have Cindy Mollo, who’s been working on ‘House of Cards’; and Meg Reticker from ‘True Detective’. If there’s time, I may show something from ‘The Americans’ as well, so it’s going to be a really great panel.

Larry Jordan: When is it?

Michael Berenbaum: It’s a week from Saturday. It’s the 14th and it’s a full day event. My particular panel is at noon, so certainly if anyone’s out there who’s interested in editing, it’s going to be a great day and you should come out and see us.

Larry Jordan: Do you have a website for us?

Michael Berenbaum: You can go to the Manhattan Edit Workshop website. It’s That will have all the information.

Larry Jordan: And do you have a website for yourself?

Michael Berenbaum: I don’t, I don’t.

Larry Jordan: Michael! Michael, we have to talk.

Michael Berenbaum: Ok, we’ll talk. I’ll stay on the line after the show.

Larry Jordan: Michael Berenbaum is the editor on ‘Sex in the City’ and ‘Sex in the City 2’, as well as a variety of other things. Michael, thanks for joining us today.

Michael Berenbaum: Hey, it was a pleasure, Larry. Thanks for having me.

Larry Jordan: Bye bye.

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Larry Jordan: Doug Pircher is the General Manager of International Supplies, a distributor of a wide range of products for the media industry. But what makes Doug unique is his ability to spot really cool products that none of the rest of us have ever heard of. Hello, Doug, welcome.

Doug Pircher: Hi Larry, how are you?

Larry Jordan: We are talking with you and it’s not NAB. I’m already feeling better than normal. How are you?

Doug Pircher: Very good, very good.

Larry Jordan: I was just thinking, we’ve talked to you at every NAB show probably for the last five or six years and you always surprise me with the stuff that you’ve got, but I’ve never really asked what is International Supplies because we haven’t had that much time, so what’s the company?

Doug Pircher: International Suppliers is a distributor. We actually started out in the photographic industry almost 30 years ago and we were, and still are, believe it or not, the largest independent film distributor in the United States.

Larry Jordan: Is it your company?

Doug Pircher: No, I’m the General Manager. David Golshirazi owns the company.

Larry Jordan: So what brings you to Cine Gear?

Doug Pircher: Well, we’ve been doing a lot of the shows over the years and, because Cine Gear is right in Hollywood, in our back yard, we walked the show several times over the last five or six years and suddenly we decided after last year, “Why aren’t we here?” So we purchased a booth and we’ll be exhibiting at the show starting tomorrow morning.

Larry Jordan: Why did you decide to come to Cine Gear? There are all kinds of media shows around the country.

Doug Pircher: There are, but the one thing about Cine Gear that we found that was unique, Larry, is that at Cine Gear you actually meet the working professionals and it has a different atmosphere than most of the other shows. In a lot of the shows, people will come up and they’ll look at the products and they’ll start asking questions and they’ll say, “How much is this?” or whatever and at Cine Gear, what I noticed last year was I was standing next to one of the lighting products that we distribute and people were coming up and these guys were turning the light on, putting their hand in front of it and it dawned on me that these are real pros, they know what they’re doing. What makes Cine Gear really unique is you’ve got some of the top professionals in the media world that are attending and you can’t tell the difference between them and the novices that are just coming in to learn. So it’s a great experience for everybody.

Larry Jordan: Well, the thing I also enjoy about it is, because it’s on the Paramount lot, it’s really an outside exhibit. You’re not sort of cheek by jowl with everybody else and people are strolling the streets of the lot and the booths are spread out across a multi-block area. You get more of a relaxed feeling instead of having to hustle to get from one booth to the next.

Doug Pircher: It’s very relaxed, that’s right, and people are really communicating with one another and they’re serious, they’re there to do a job or to see the equipment, but at the same time they’re having fun.

Larry Jordan: Well, it’s a toy store. I mean, how can you not have fun when you’re surrounded by such incredible things to play with?

Doug Pircher: You’re absolutely right, it is a toy store. For anybody in the industry, these are the toys.

Larry Jordan: So thinking of that, what toys are you bringing?

Doug Pircher: Well, we represent several companies and we have Varavon. Varavon had some really unique sliders for the cameras and is introducing something that’s really cool this year. They showed it at NAB and it’s a hand held gimbal that you can operate the camera and it does a lot of really cool moves with a DSLR type of camera. We’ll be showing that.

Larry Jordan: So it’s sort of like a drone except there’s no airplane attached. You’ve got the gimbal that holds the camera.

Doug Pircher: That’s right, exactly. That right, yes. And we’ve got some other things – I’ve got another new one for you that we’re introducing at the show and I know you’ll get a kick out of this one. It’s called the Hipjib.

Larry Jordan: The Hipjib?

Doug Pircher: That’s right. It was developed by a producer and photographer from Berlin, Germany. We met with them at the NAB show and just recently signed an exclusive agreement. They made an announcement this morning on Facebook. What this is is a belt that goes around your waist and it has a little contraption that sits on the front by your belt and then you can take just a standard tripod and clip to the legs right into this and turn your tripod into a jib for your video camera.

Larry Jordan: And that means that the tripod shifts every time you take a breath because your tummy’s going in and out.

Doug Pircher: That’s about right.

Larry Jordan: All right, we’ve got the Hipjib. Anything else that’s cool?

Doug Pircher: Well, we’ve got the Explorer cases. Explorer cases are some of the strongest protection for any camera equipment or any kind of electronics, and they have a story of their own. What’s really neat about them is they’re hard, waterproof cases that have been tested to be virtually indestructible and they have modular bags inside that the photographers or videographers can put their equipment in. But it’s modular so you can take the bags out and they have storage inside and then they have handles and shoulder straps so you can actually take them out individually. In one case we have, it’ll fit four of these individual bags. If you’re going on a location, you can ship everything to the location but then you’ll only pull the bags that you’re going to need for a particular shoot out at any given time and it’s really, really nice.

Larry Jordan: I wonder about the words virtually and indestructible, but it sounds at least like it could hold up for a couple of plane flights.

Doug Pircher: We’ve got some videos that are just unbelievable. When you take a look at these videos, you’ll agree they’re virtually indestructible.

Larry Jordan: I was reflecting – I’m still remembering your all wood keyboard from about five years ago – but how do you find this stuff? Do people approach you? You specialize in the offbeat.

Doug Pircher: Yes, it’s a combination of things. We look for people, we look for companies and then through word of mouth people contact us and we evaluate products and we’re always looking for inventors, people that are just bringing something new to market and if somebody’s got something exciting, best of market or best of its class, we attempt to bring that to the market. Often we find them overseas, but it could be anywhere, from the United States, from Germany, from Korea, Japan, and we’ll work with these companies to develop a marketing plan and then introduce their product to the United States market.

Larry Jordan: Now, would a developer come to you because they don’t have any distribution? And say it becomes a success and they take off, would they then leave you and go to some other distributor?

Doug Pircher: Oh, that’s possible, that happens and sometimes the people will stay with us indefinitely. So that is just a personal thing or there are a lot of different reason that that can happen.

Larry Jordan: I want to reflect back again. You made an interesting statement. How would you contrast Cine Gear with NAB or IBC? Those are professional geared shows as well. What makes Cine Gear different?

Doug Pircher: Well, with Cine Gear they seem to be more working hands-on professionals. At shows like NAB, the corporate types are there and you see more people wearing suits or dressed semi-formally and they’re the business people or maybe the buyers for the different companies. But at Cine Gear, if they’re there, you don’t see that. What you see is the lighting directors, you see the cameramen, the actual grips who are actually working on the films and they’re there and they’re in shorts and jeans and cut-offs or whatever, but you can tell from the way that they move, the way that they look at the equipment, the questions that they ask that these are the people who are actually using it on a daily basis.

Larry Jordan: Do you bring a different type of person, less sales, more tech, when you’re staffing the booth?

Doug Pircher: I would like to say that we could do that, but no. We bring the same people all the time and we try to be able to be like chameleons and switch from one end to the other. But generally that’s what we do anyway. We have to learn enough about the product that we can talk intelligently about it and we’ve got a few people that we call our in-house techies who can handle some of the real technical issues, but otherwise I find that most of people, in talking with them, it’s pretty much the same.

Larry Jordan: Doug, for people who want to get a sense of the products that your company carries, where can they go on the web?

Doug Pircher: They can go to and they’ll get a full range of everything that we have.

Larry Jordan: That’s and Doug Pircher is the General Manager for International Supplies. Doug, it’s been fun, as always, talking with you. Thanks for joining us today.

Doug Pircher: Thank you, Larry.

Larry Jordan: Take care. Bye bye.

Doug Pircher: You too. Bye.

Larry Jordan: Chris Layhe is a director, a director of photography and editor at a company called CLAI. Chris formed that in San Francisco and it specializes in crafting commercials for high end clients, including IBM, Nokia, ABC, Ford, Renault and others. Hello, Chris.

Chris Layhe: Hello Larry, how are you?

Larry Jordan: Well, I’m recovering from drinking a glass of water at the wrong time, but other than that I’m doing great. How do I pronounce the name of your company?

Chris Layhe: It’s just CLAI.

Larry Jordan: Where did you come up with a name like that?

Chris Layhe: It’s Chris Layhe Associates Inc., but my last name is spelled L-A-Y-H-E and nobody can spell it or say it right, so it was easier to go with CLAI.

Larry Jordan: Ah, clever, clever, clever. What got you started in advertising all those many years ago?

Chris Layhe: Oh gosh, well, basically at college I did degrees in architecture and film and television, and then a post graduate in 3D animation. I went from there to the BBC for about a year and a half and then from the BBC to Saatchi and Saatchi in London and went in directing broadcast commercials and the like. I was dragged into it with no warning whatsoever.

Larry Jordan: Well, wait a minute, wait a minute, the BBC is a highly reputable organization and Saatchi and Saatchi is no slouch either, but making that transition is not easy. How did you get that first job?

Chris Layhe: The BBC people saw me when I was still doing my post grad in 3D animation and liked what I was doing, liked the way I was working and thinking about things, and so they pulled me in and started working with me at that point. I’ve always had a love of storytelling, but combined with a love of still photography and individual images and the sort of thing that goes into 3D animation and Saatchi and Saatchi liked the cleanness of my designs, the cleanness of my shooting and the way I saw things, and they saw that as a way of bringing more storytelling into their slightly staid commercials. So I got pulled across that way.

Larry Jordan: I think you raise a really good point. Would you describe yourself more as a storyteller or more of a technician, which is what I think a 3D artist would qualify as?

Chris Layhe: I get asked that question quite a bit, actually, and I would personally describe myself and the way I work as an artisan who tells stories. I’m not a film maker, I don’t produce fine art and don’t see it that way, and neither am I a technician. I kind of think that the idea of an artisan is, you know, somebody who, for example, might be a woodcarver or something like that. It’s that combination of technology and creativity and an original way of looking at things. I like that way of thinking.

Larry Jordan: When a client hands you a script for a commercial, what process do you go down before you start to shoot frame one?

Chris Layhe: Oh, gosh. The first thing I do is I try and find out as much as I can about the audience and try and get a very clear picture of five or six people who might be looking at something. We don’t do too many commercials, we do more longer form pieces, so more like five minute long commercials type things. I get a picture of the audience and their way of thinking, their knowledge about the product or whatever it might be, and then find out about what it is that I’m promoting or selling or marketing and then try to come up with something that meets the way that the audience will see it that is interesting, exciting or humorous and gives them something they can enjoy. Perhaps rather than the more standard way of saying, “Well, tell me all about the product and we’ll just make something and hope that it’s right for the audience.” I like to work the other way round. It seems a good way of doing it.

Larry Jordan: Do you start first with a script, or do you start first with the concept? What’s the workflow here as you start to shape to get ready for production?

Chris Layhe: I think the script is the part that you have to put everything that’s technical from. The script is going to give you the concept, if you haven’t already been given one, and then it’s how you play with the concept to get it right for the viewer and to make it work for everybody else that’s an appropriate concept, not just an idea. I kind of work on the two sides at the same time. Part of my brain is thinking, “In shot terms, what do I need to do to get the right images, to get the right lighting, to get the right background?” and suchlike, and the other half of my brain is saying, “What’s the story I’m telling? How can I develop that story visually?” if I’m working as a DP or in terms of the script and the concept, if I’m working as a director. How can you make those two come together? So I think you have to work on both sides at the same time a little bit and then you just start putting stakes in the ground and try things out and test them.

Larry Jordan: How do you avoid doing two roles at the same time? You’re both a director and a director of photography, and the director of photography as I understand it really determines the look of what the piece is. But as a director you’re almost always thinking in terms of light and angles and cameras. How do you manage to avoid stepping on toes?

Chris Layhe: If it’s a small project, then I have to fulfill multiple roles. If it’s a larger project with a larger crew, then I can step back once we’re getting towards the concept point, and say, “Well, I’ll be directing this one,” or, “I’ll be DPing this one,” and focus on one side or the other. At that point, life becomes much easier, but people don’t always have the sort of budgets that you really would like to have to do a piece. So again I think you’re treading a fine line, Larry, between how you look at a project and which angle you come at it from. You just choose your angle.

Larry Jordan: I was just reflecting on a comment you made where you said if you have the budget. Everybody’s budgets are getting squeezed. Are you feeling more pain because budgets are getting squeezed or deadlines are getting squeezed?

Chris Layhe: Good question. I think in our case it’s more budgets. The deadlines you can pretty much always get round if you design carefully and you bear in mind what that deadline’s going to be and you work within it. The budgets are always a lot more difficult. I think one of the problems we have is we primarily shoot in 5K. We use the RED Epic cameras and have done for many years, RED Epics and the RED ones before that.

Chris Layhe: So there’s a lot we can do with the systems we shoot with but I think clients are certainly looking around more, trying to get more value for money and I think as technology is changing very quickly at the moment, particularly on the shoot side of things, there are very few clients who are able to keep up with it and it does make it difficult, I think, for a client to understand the difference between quote A and quote B from another company and, of course, there’s a tendency to always say, “Well, we’ll take the lowest quote and then ask whoever we want to do the project to do it for that price.”

Chris Layhe: That certainly is giving us more and more problems over the last few years, as everything becomes so complicated. How does a client tell the difference between somebody who’s got $150,000 worth of RED equipment or somebody who’s got a seven year old RED 1 with a Nikon lens taped to the front and has maybe spent 300 bucks on it? They don’t know the difference a lot of the time and I think it’s becoming more difficult for them to actually assess what the real budget should be to make a production.

Larry Jordan: Thinking of clients, there’s been a lot of talk this week that Apple may be moving its advertising in-house instead of using TBW Chiat Day. I can see that using an in-house agency can save money. Why should clients still consider using outside agencies, which leads into what your business is all about?

Chris Layhe: Well, I guess the answer to that is if we look back, what, 15, 20 years. How many of those agencies like Apple, Cisco, so many other people, have their own fairly large in-house production companies that they’ve then closed down. It’s very difficult for most companies to keep coming up with original ideas and original ways of looking at things when you’re immersed in nothing but that company.

Larry Jordan: So it’s the broader perspective that you offer?

Chris Layhe: I think so, yes, yes. That would be my concern; and also, of course, certainly if we’re producing a project and I’m directing, I’m going to look around and I’ve got a choice of DPs, I’ve got a choice of audio guys, of editors, and I’m going to pick the one who’s the most appropriate for the project. If you’ve got an in-house department, almost by definition you may have two, three, four people in each role but you don’t have that same breadth to pick from. So you start to design for the people you’ve got available to you rather than designing for the concept.

Larry Jordan: When you’re shooting, are you shooting for the edit or are you shooting to give as much coverage as you can and you’ll figure out the edit later?

Chris Layhe: I think I shoot as somebody who also does editing and so I don’t shoot for the edit that’s down on the script, I shoot for what an editor would really like, which is 37 possible cutaways and every other angle you might think of, and seven takes.

Larry Jordan: So you’re the guy that took the shooting ratio from 10:1 to about 20,000:1.

Chris Layhe: That’s the joy of digital cinema, though, Larry.

Larry Jordan: Ah, your editor’s now got to watch 700 hours of drek to get, oh, sorry, sorry, incredible images to get to the piece that they want.

Chris Layhe: No, they certainly don’t, but I’d rather have enough coverage of something and walk away knowing that I’ve got it all in the can than have just about enough and, when the client changes the brief or changes the script or says, “Oh, if only I’d told you about this part of it,” you’ve maybe got something to cover it.

Larry Jordan: Yes, if you’re lucky.

Chris Layhe: Yes, if you’re very lucky indeed. I think I kind of stumble towards that direction when I can do. Of course, you don’t always have time and their things get a bit more difficult. One of the pleasures I have of working with 5K footage is that it does at least allow you the possibility of building shots that you didn’t take at the time and reframing to get a different look out of a second take, for example. So you’ve got a bit more to edit with, a bit more to play with than you might have just with 1080p footage.

Larry Jordan: Do you tend to enjoy working with actors, or do you prefer to work with everything except people?

Chris Layhe: I’m totally wrong. I love actors, I adore children and I quite like animals. I like the interaction that you get back from a good actor and the ideas that they bring to the stage, bring to the program almost every time. It gives you a chance to look at things from their perspective.

Larry Jordan: According to my notes, you’ve worked with some fairly high end clients – IBM, Nokia, ABC, Ford and others. These are clients that are not just selling a product, but they’re trying to build an image. I’m thinking of McDonald’s and their golden arches. If those golden arches came out green, you’d be looking for work.

Chris Layhe: Oh yes.

Larry Jordan: What do you find is the biggest challenge? You’re playing on a pretty high wire here and there’s countless companies who would love to steal these clients from you. What’s the challenge of working with a high pressure, high end client?

Chris Layhe: Perhaps an example is a good way of doing it. We were involved in a project, we didn’t actually shoot, we were just providing some of the facilities for it, for Apple a couple of years ago and they came. They brought along a 40, 50 man crew to shoot four commercials and had them here in San Francisco for about a week and a half for the shoot, and then they kept everybody at the location sitting for a week in case they changed their mind and wanted to reshoot something, and I think that’s the challenge.

Chris Layhe: That when you’re working with a larger client and in some ways perhaps a little more educated client, it’s the tiny details that matter. It’s the tiny details that get something thrown out and you have to start again, because they’ve already sorted out how they want to be seen, how they want to do everything. They have their brand very, very well controlled and so it’s the little things that trip you up. We do a wide variety of work – we do some stuff for larger companies and we do quite a lot of work for non-profits and for staff of companies and also music videos and theater pieces, all sorts of stuff like that – and I think as you get bigger, they get more defined as to exactly what they want and exactly what they want to see. As people are smaller, you have more flexibility to play with how they appear and play around a little bit more. I particularly like to make pieces that have some humor in them and I think that’s something where, as you get up towards the larger clients, humor starts to get to be a difficult thing to do.

Larry Jordan: And it makes them very nervous.

Chris Layhe: It does, yes, whereas with the smaller clients, you have more flexibility and far more options available to you, which is in many ways more interesting because you’re creating more of the story.

Larry Jordan: When you’re working with a really large, well defined brand as a director, can you even suggest ideas? Or are you really just implementing what’s in the script?

Chris Layhe: Pretty much that. You can suggest ideas in the way that it’s shot, in the way that some of the elements are put there. But unless you’re doing a third or fourth take, you’re not going to start playing with the script or have a lot of say in many of the other things. It’s more set in stone because, if nothing else, you’ve probably got 20 people sitting there watching, deciding whether you’ve done it right or not and any time you have a rule by committee, less and less material can get through that’s away from the given line.

Larry Jordan: Because they’ve spent so much time thinking it out ahead of time.

Chris Layhe: Yes, and probably paid an ad agency and a PR agency and a whole load of other people to think about it as well and you’re just at the tip of the production. It’s all been done beforehand for the most part.

Larry Jordan: Do you find that clients change as budgets get bigger or smaller, their personalities or what they let you do?

Chris Layhe: I think they sweat a lot more as it gets bigger. There’s certainly a lot more concern that if they do it wrong, everybody’s head is going to be on the line. I guess that’s probably the same in most occupations, but definitely you have less flexibility the larger the budget gets.

Larry Jordan: So what do you do – everybody is running around trying to protect their job and they’re all trying to do your job and you’re the one that’s actually doing the job, how do you keep everybody happy and avoid fistfights?

Chris Layhe: Generally, I have the producer between me and the client.

Larry Jordan: Coward.

Chris Layhe: I look after my crew.

Larry Jordan: So what are the instructions you give the producer?

Chris Layhe: Keep the client away from me wherever possible.

Larry Jordan: Really?

Chris Layhe: It’s as easy as that. If we can stop them jumping in the middle of a shot or wanting to change things or, worst of all, saying, “It doesn’t seem to work,” when you’ve only taken two shots out of a set of 50, if you can just keep them away, keep them happy and allow me to talk to them at the right time in the production, that’s really the main goal with the producer. If they can do that, then you can get on with your job which, at the end of the day, is to make pretty pictures and tell the story, not to keep everybody happy.

Larry Jordan: And for making pretty pictures and telling the story, Chris, what website can people go to to learn more about you and your company?

Chris Layhe:

Larry Jordan: And the CLA himself if Chris Layhe, a director, director of photography and editor for CLAI, which is a San Francisco based house. Chris, thanks for joining us today.

Chris Layhe: My pleasure, Larry. Nice to talk.

Larry Jordan: Take care. Bye bye.

Larry Jordan: One of the things that I find most interesting as we talked with people on the show today is their focus on storytelling. I was interested in what Michael had to say, that he leaves the technology to his assistant and he concentrates on telling the story; and, as Chris was talking about, the fact that whatever it takes to keep the client somewhat separate from the production. I like the ideas of separation of storytelling from tech to a certain extent and also separation of client from the production. I can remember on many shoots where the client would start to run the production and everything just sort of grinds to a halt.

Larry Jordan: I also enjoyed Doug Pircher and his comments. I’ve had the pleasure of talking with Doug at multiple NABs and he has the broadest collection of strange stuff and he gets so excited about showing it off and things that you would never have thought would appeal to media professionals, Doug has available and showcases in his company. I’ve been stunned on many occasions with him whipping out something I would never have thought somebody would have been interested in inventing and there it is and it’s a really cool, really nicely implemented idea, which reminds me of what Cine Gear is all about.

Larry Jordan: Cine Gear is an opportunity to celebrate all the different tools that we use inside production and if you haven’t had a chance to visit the Cine Gear show and you’re anywhere close to LA, the show coming up starting tomorrow and continuing through the weekend, it’s definitely just a nice stroll to discover how many different pieces of equipment we use to turn reality into the magic of pictures.

Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests today, starting with the feature film editor Michael Berenbaum. Some really interesting ideas in terms of how he approaches a production and how he looks at a script and how he starts figuring out where the story actually starts and many times it’s not even at the beginning. Then Doug Pircher, General Manager of International Supplies; and we wrapped up with Chris Layhe, the Director and Founder of CLAI up in San Francisco.

Larry Jordan: There’s a lot happening at The Buzz between shows and it’s all posted to our website 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. You can email us at

Larry Jordan: Our producer is Cirina Catania, our engineer Adrian Price. Our co-host is off this week, Mike Horton. My name is 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 — June 5, 2014

  • Michael Berenbaum, A.C.E., on Editing
  • Why See the Gear at CineGear?
  • How to Handle High-End Clients

GUESTS: Michael Berenbaum, Doug Pircher, and Chris Layhe

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

Michael Berenbaum, A.C.E.

Good people, good work…that is what success is all about. Michael Berenbaum, A.C.E., has multiple awards for editing, including a Primetime Emmy. We talk with him this week on how he views the craft of ediing.

Doug Pircher, General Manager, International Supplies

CineGear opens in Los Angeles on Friday, June 6th. Why do we need to go? Doug Pircher, General Manager of International Supplies has an opinion on the value of actually seeing the gear before you buy it. He joins us this week to explain why.

Chris Layhe, Director/DP/Editor, CLAi

Chris Layhe is Director, DP and Editor at CLAi, a company he formed in San Francisco to produce for a long roster of high-end clients, including IBM, Nokia, ABC, Ford and Renault. This week he tells us how to successful handle high-end clients.

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 29, 2014

Digital Production Buzz

May 29, 2014

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Larry Jordan

Michael Horton


Terry Curren, Founder/President, Alpha Dogs Inc

David Foley, Sr. Technologist & Founder, NanoTech

Andy Shipsides, Director of Education, AbelCine


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 TOLISGroup, 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 is our co-host, the ever cosmopolitan Mr. Mike Horton.

Mike Horton: I am the traveling man.

Larry Jordan: Nobody is more…

Mike Horton: Hey, you’re going to be traveling, right?

Larry Jordan: I am, I’m going to London the week after next.

Mike Horton: Oh man, you always get to go to the cool places. Nobody ever invites me to those places.

Larry Jordan: I generally go to Anchorage in February, I go to Arizona in August. I think it makes perfect sense to me.

Mike Horton: Yes, well, you can always come to Chatsworth, to my house.

Larry Jordan: Yes, but that’s too hot. We’ve got a great group of hot guests tonight, he said, blending this beautifully. We’re going to start with Terry Curren. He’s the Founder and President of LA-based Alpha Dogs and hosts the regular Editor’s Lounge. Recently, we heard Terry grumbling about 4K hype and couldn’t resist bringing him on…

Mike Horton: Yes, I’ve already heard Terry talk about 4K over the years, over and over and over.

Larry Jordan: I don’t think he’s a fan, I think.

Mike Horton: I don’t think he is.

Larry Jordan: No. I’m really curious to hear what he has to say.

Mike Horton: But I think he did coin the term, and he’ll probably use it during the conversation, “4K’s fine for acquisition and not so fine for distribution.”

Larry Jordan: Yes, well, see, that’s interesting because our second guest is…

Mike Horton: I know.

Larry Jordan: …is David Foley. He’s the Senior Technologist and Co-Founder of NanoTech Entertainment and what NanoTech is doing is they have found a way to provide thousands of 4K video products direct to consumers via the internet and he is in direct, I’m not going to say opposition, but he definitely disagrees with Terry’s point of view that you can’t distribute 4K images, and we want to compare and contrast between Terry and David.

Larry Jordan: Then we’re going to wrap up with Andy Shipsides. He’s the Director of Education at AbelCine, which is a sales, rental and education house also in LA. Andy teaches camera classes there and Panasonic has just released some brand new Varicam cameras and we want to get Andy’s point of view on what market the Varicam fits and why we should consider those cameras and spend a bit of time talking about high end video cameras, as opposed to some of the more entry level types.

Larry Jordan: Anyway, it’s going to be a great discussion between Terry and David and Andy; and thinking of great discussions, Michael, what are you up to these days?

Mike Horton: I’m recovering from last night; and by the way, thank you for coming out last night and being a guru at the LAFCPUG meeting. It was a good show.

Larry Jordan: How can you not enjoy going to one of those LAFCPUG meetings?

Mike Horton: It was a lot of fun.

Larry Jordan: We had a good crowd.

Mike Horton: We had the world premiere of Fitness in Post, which is something that Zack Arnold has started, and it’ll keep us all fit and healthy because we’re sitting 14, 15 hours a day. I think you sit 20 hours a day and then sleep four hours a day and then get up and sit some more, so you’d benefit from this program big time. So will I. As you can see, my stomach would say, as I need to get rid of it.

Larry Jordan: It was a great, great time and I enjoyed chatting with everybody and answering their questions. Are you going to take a hiatus for the summer?

Mike Horton: No. I should, but I don’t.

Larry Jordan: Well, I’m going to join you again during the summer.

Mike Horton: No, I’m working on Amsterdam Supermeet.

Larry Jordan: Between the two user groups, that’ll keep you busy.

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. Learn more at and thanks, Take 1, for making the transcripts possible.

Larry Jordan: Remember to visit us on The Buzz at Facebook, at We’re on Twitter, @dpbuzz. Subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at We’ll be back with Terry Curren, Founder of Alpha Dogs, right after this.

Larry Jordan: Blackmagic Design is now shipping its production camera 4K, a super high resolution 4K digital production camera for ultra HD television production.  Featuring a large Super 35 sensor with a professional global shutter, it also offers 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 production, television commercials, sports, documentaries and much more.

Larry Jordan: The Blackmagic production camera 4K also features an incredibly tempting price of $2995. Learn more about the Blackmagic production camera 4K that is definitely priced to move. Visit today. That’s

Larry Jordan: Terry Curren is the Founder and President of Alpha Dogs, which is a boutique post production facility that he himself founded in 2002 in Los Angeles. Terry’s also the host of the Editor’s Lounge and, Terry, welcome. Good to have you with us.

Terry Curren: Hey. How’s it going, Larry?

Larry Jordan: Well, we are talking to you and Mike is just a quivering bundle of excitement at this moment.

Mike Horton: Hi Terry.

Terry Curren: Yes, I heard the set-up there, Michael. So you’ve heard me talk about 4K too much, huh?

Mike Horton: I’ve heard you talk about 4K for the last two, three years when the 4K was a buzz term. When it was an early buzz term you were talking about it. What the hell?

Larry Jordan: Terry, let’s just set a background for you for people who haven’t heard of Alpha Dogs and haven’t heard of Editors’ Lounge. The last time you were on The Buzz was in January of 2013, so give us a quick description of what Alpha Dogs is and the kind of stuff you work on.

Terry Curren: Ok. Alpha Dogs is a middle sized post house in Burbank and we’re primarily a finishing house – that’s where most of our focus is – but we also have offline bays for rent etcetera, we do graphics, audio mixing and color correction. We started with the focus on the talent as opposed to on the gear, which was a big difference back when we started and it’s served us well – people come to us for the personal service they get.

Terry Curren: Editors’ Lounge, on the other hand, is something that also started back in 2003. Now that I had a place, I wanted to have a meeting for editors that wasn’t specific to any platform, more just about the general art form and it’s kind of a place to hang out and shoot the crap mostly. It’s kind of developed into a much bigger thing, but the manufacturers seem to like coming and doing demos, even though we abuse them, because they do get honest feedback, and then we also get editors who come and talk about the craft and we’ve placed a lot of videos of the better events up on the Editors’ Lounge site. So there you go.

Larry Jordan: Ok, so in other words you’ve got your hands up to your elbows dirty and working with all this post production format stuff.

Terry Curren: Yes.

Larry Jordan: One of the things that I really enjoy about your Editors’ Lounge events is that you’re never shy about sharing your opinion and you’ve been grumbling about 4K video for a while, so give us a background. What’s your perspective on 4K?

Terry Curren: Well, first you have to ask why – is it because it’s going to give a better experience to the home viewer? There are multiple studies, there are calculators you can find online etcetera that show, where you take your viewing distance and your eyesight, say 20/20, and the size of your screen and they show whether you’ll notice a difference between 1080 and 4K, and basically if you’ve got a 65 inch TV, which is what I have in my living room, I have to sit five feet or closer to see a difference, and that’s pretty darn close to a 65 inch TV.

Terry Curren: The problem is that the human eye has a finite ability to resolve. There is a point where it can no longer resolve detail and anything past that, we’re just wasting time. I get that Sony’s worried and they haven’t been selling enough TVs because the Koreans and the Chinese now really have put a hurt on them, but that doesn’t mean that we should try to sell something to the consumers – who just bought HD TVs – that is not going to give them a better experience.

Terry Curren: I can guarantee you that my parents will never been able to see the difference between HD and 4K on a monitor at home.

Larry Jordan: Ok, let me just interrupt because I did some research on this prior to this show.

Terry Curren: Uh-oh.

Larry Jordan: No, no, it’s all right. Panavision did a study and said that when you’re in a theater, a digitally projected image which is on, say, a 40 foot screen, the optimal distance of watching a 2K picture in a digitally projected theater is one and a half to two times the screen height, so if the screen height is, say, 20 feet high, you want to sit between 30 and 40 feet back from the screen to be able to get the optimal viewing of a 2K image.

Larry Jordan: Continuing the same research, they said in order for you to be able to see the difference in pixels of a 4K image, you’d need to set not one and a half to two times the screen height away, but somewhere between six to ten feet away from the screen to be able to see the additional resolution that 4K provides.

Terry Curren: May I rest my case?

Larry Jordan: Well, except, Terry, I think that there’s a couple of different issues here. We’ve got high resolution for acquisition, we’ve got high resolution for editing and we’ve got high resolution for distribution. Are you saying that we should not even shoot high resolution because we can’t distribute it?

Terry Curren: Well, you’re right, there are three different parts. Shooting high resolution, it depends on what you’re going to do with it. Is there a point in shooting two million K? Probably not unless you plan to push in 10,000 times. I know people who are using 4K cameras to shoot two person interviews. That gives them the master shot and two close-ups with one take, which saves a lot of time and effort, but their final product is HD. There are other people who will argue, like Adam Wills, that if you take a highly compressed 4K, so something that comes down to 420, like one of the Sony cameras, and you down sample that to a 1080 signal, then all of a sudden you have 444, so you actually have a better signal by down sampling after you’ve captured at a higher resolution, so there’s certainly an argument for that also. But when you’re talking about distribution, right now I have a really good looking image that I create in my color correction bay at 1080 and it’s ten bit and it’s 444 color correction. You know what it looks like when you get home?

Larry Jordan: What does it look like?

Terry Curren: Nothing like what I started with. Now you’ve got to go four times that amount of data down to the house. Are they going to increase the pipes that much? We can’t even get a decent 1080 signal into the home now. Why are we going to all of a sudden have four times? They’ll argue yes, but the H.265 codec is more efficient. Ok, well, then let’s use that now with 1080 if it’s so much more efficient and try to get 444 ten or 12 bit down to the house.

Larry Jordan: I’m willing to accept, until we talk to our next guest, because David, I think, is going to disagree with you, but I’m willing to accept that we have severe limitations in distributing 4K images. Broadcast right now can’t handle it. Most digital theaters are showing 2K pictures except for Sony, Sony theaters are 4K, and we have problems with 4K on cable.

Mike Horton: And net neutrality’s going to kill it anyway.

Terry Curren: That’s right. There is that too. Well, I don’t know, did you see the Dolby HDR monitor at NAB?

Mike Horton: No. I heard a lot about it but I did not see it.

Terry Curren: Oh my God, it’s amazing. They’re doing high dynamic range. They did a lot of research, because the human eye is far more sensitive to contrast difference than it is to resolution, so they wanted to find out where the sweet spot is. Right now, reference monitors are set up for 100 NIT being the white point, the unit of measurement, so 100 NIT is the white point. You go down to zero, you’re black, or a little bit higher than zero because they don’t do perfect black on most monitors, but that’s the range.

Terry Curren: So what they did is they wanted to see how high they could go that people would still watch it and be able to perceive the difference and then also where the sweet spot would be, so they actually used a full blown projector and rear projected it down onto a small screen and had people watch various images and what they determined was that the human eye can perceive the contrast all the way up to 20,000 NITs and the sweet spot that they found, that most people were happy with, is your white point. Your brightest part in the picture was at 10,000 NIT, ok? Now we’re at 100 NITs. So their monitor now is capable of doing 4,000 NITs and when they show you a scene from a movie and you see the 1080 beautiful scene on a nice monitor and then right next to it is the exact same scene on the HDR monitor and it just really pops. That’s the kind of thing where my parents would walk in and go, “Oh, I like that one on the right,” you know, the HDR monitor, because everything pops. When you have the higher dynamic range, you’ve got more room for information and separation of detail, which increases contrast, which is what people perceive as sharpness. When you expand that range, it also allows more room for chroma, so the colors pop more etcetera. It’s really impressive. I strongly encourage everybody to see it.

Mike Horton: Yes, but how much is it? It’s like a gazillion dollars or something, right?

Terry Curren: No, no, no. Actually, they’re trying to license this.

Mike Horton: Oh, ok.

Terry Curren: If you go and look at all the electronics that feed your television at home, there’s licensed Dolby stuff in all of it. That’s what they want to do. They’re going to make a reference monitor, right now they have prototype ones around town that people are using to color correct and to have material available, but what I was told is they’re looking at about $8,000 for the reference monitor, which is reasonable for our universe. But what they’ve done is license the technology to a bunch of television companies, VIZIO being one of them. VIZIO is including it in their home high end monitor, whatever they call it, but VIZIO are the cheap guys, and I guess they were showing it at CES this year. So you go buy a VIZIO TV and it has an HDR mode in it. Any material that comes over the net that’s HDR is going to really pop.

Larry Jordan: Terry, I had a chance to visit the Dolby labs here in Burbank and they gave me a technical demo of that and you’re absolutely right.

Mike Horton: Did you understand it?

Larry Jordan: Yes.

Mike Horton: I wouldn’t.

Larry Jordan: They were talking codecs, Mike, you’d have loved it. But you’re absolutely right. The HDR – I think it’s high definition…

Mike Horton: High dynamic range.

Larry Jordan: …high dynamic range, the HDR image just sort of glowed off the screen and you got a sense of contrast in a sky that you would never see normally; and you’re also right in that they want to essentially license their technology the same way that you throw a Dolby switch on an old tape deck or a Dolby switch now, it is noise reduction circuitry for our audio that we take for granted. It would be the same thing, it gives us access to all of this additional visual information invisibly – you just turn on your TV set and it senses whether it’s there or not.

Terry Curren: Exactly.

Larry Jordan: And you are right, they were working with low resolution standard 1080P or 2K images, they weren’t working with real high resolution images.

Terry Curren: Yes, once again the human eye is capable of perceiving the contrast difference far greater than the detail or the resolution difference.

Larry Jordan: But you are leaving unsaid one gigantic question mark about 4K. It sounds like you’re accepting that high resolution for acquisition makes sense in some situations and you are casting aspersions on distribution of high resolution, but you are carefully skirting the whole issue of editing high resolution. How come?

Terry Curren: Well, you’re talking about four times the data rate, right? So you’re talking about four times as much storage, four times as much bandwidth, four times as much processing power on your CPUs and GPUs, four times as much rendering time. Just multiply everything by four, and the joke is you’re not getting four times the resolution in reality because if you look at a horizontal line, you’re actually only getting twice the resolution; or if you look at it vertically, you’re only getting twice the resolution, so we’re taking four times the data and we’re having to process that and what tools do we use right now? Do you want a reference monitor? Ok, you got $35,000? No problem. You want to actually view that on an external scope so you can do decent color correction? Oh, those don’t exist yet. These kinds of things are big issues on a workflow that we just don’t have yet and if you were forced to do that and you go buy this extremely high end equipment to do it, do you think the producers are going to come in and say, “Oh, you know what? I’ll be happy to pay you three or four times as much to finish our 4K show”? No.

Mike Horton: Is there any reason at all to edit in 4K? Is there any reason?

Terry Curren: You could argue for future protection, maybe, but…

Mike Horton: Well, I mean, why can’t you do proxies? Why don’t you edit proxies like everybody else does?

Terry Curren: Yes, ok, but at what point do you make the 4K file?

Mike Horton: At the end.

Terry Curren: I’d look at this more from the finishing end.

Mike Horton: When you’re done, yes. Well, that’s true, you’re at the finishing end.

Terry Curren: Right. I mean, you can offline anything, you could be offlining 8K proxies or 2,000K proxies or whatever, but at some point in time you’re talking about making a 4K master. That process has to be done and the tools are just not really there to do that elegantly or economically at this point in time, but people don’t talk about that. They just talk about, “Hey, we need to sell more TVs,” which I think is short sighted because, I’ve got to tell you, I just replaced my parents’ 35 inch standard def television about three months ago with a HD flat screen 55 inch TV. They’re happy as can be. There’s no way they’re going to go, “Oh, let’s throw this away because I heard there’s this 4K thing out there,” when they can’t even see the difference.

Larry Jordan: There are a couple of issues here. Issue number one is we would never have moved to HD from standard def if we all waited for people to have an HD television set in their home, because nobody would have bought the television set because there was no HD programming. Is this a chicken and egg syndrome?

Terry Curren: Well, we certainly did that with HD. The Japanese were broadcasting it in the early ‘80s and when did we get it? 2005, 2006? And if you look at one of the survey companies, maybe Nielsen, they came out with an article where they show the amount of people, even if they have HD televisions, that are watching SD up converted. It’s something like 65 or 70 percent. It’s crazy. So currently, that’s what people are doing – watching SD, even if they have an HD TV. I mean, you see it, you go into a bar or something and they’ve got four by three material up there on the 16 by nine set and it’s stretched out and things like that.

Larry Jordan: Well, I still know that there’s a lot of satellite programming that’s done in standard def because they just don’t have the bandwidth to support HD, so some of it is you’re watching SD because you don’t have any options, because you want to be able to get the content and the content doesn’t deserve a large enough audience to have the bandwidth for HD. But does that mean that we should turn our back on 4K?

Terry Curren: Well, let’s reverse engineer this and look at it from a different point. Let’s find out what the maximum amount of detail the human eye can perceive is, let’s find that number, if it’s 2K, if it’s 4K, if it’s 286,000K, whatever it is, let’s find that number. That’s our target. Let’s stop farting around and just do that. Anything beyond that, we’re wasting money and time and effort and bandwidth and anything below that, you could say, “Well, we have something to aspire to,” but this game that we’re experiencing now from the television manufacturers is similar to what Apple did to phones. It used to be you bought one, maybe two phones in your entire life. That’s what you had in your house. They never died, they never went bad, you never had to replace them. It’s just a phone. Apple changed that market. Now you replace your phone every two years. The TV guys are trying to do the same thing. It was buy your HD TV back in 2005, 2006, somewhere in there, and then they’re going, two years later, “Buy a 3D TV,” and now, two years later, it’s “Oh, you’ve got to buy a 4K TV,” and then two years from now it’s going to be, “Oh, no, you’ve got to buy an 8K TV,” you know? Ok, that’s a cute game but that’s not how people buy televisions in the real world. They still look at it like an appliance, like a washing machine or a refrigerator. You’re not going to be swapping them out every couple of years. There’s my rant.

Larry Jordan: So I’m sensing a little bit of skepticism, Terry, just a little bit of negative feedback.

Mike Horton: Yes.

Terry Curren: Yes, I was a 3D skeptic too and I had plenty of people telling me I was wrong this time.

Mike Horton: I was wondering how Terry felt about when HD TVs came out first.

Terry Curren: Oh, well, I was praying for the HD from back in the early ‘80s, when the Japanese had them, like, “Come on, guys, get it over here. Let’s get it going,” you know? But that was a different thing because you can see the difference.

Larry Jordan: You’re not a complete Luddite, in other words.

Terry Curren: No, no, I’m not a Luddite at all. I’m just a realist. Personally, I love film, I wish film was still the same. I hate to see film go but if it is going, I’ve got to admit, the ARRI Alexa is a pretty good replacement.

Larry Jordan: Well, thinking about that, we’re going to be talking not ARRI Alexa, but we’re going to talk about a competitor to the ARRI, which is the new Panasonic Varicams coming up a little bit later in today’s show.

Larry Jordan: Terry, for people who want to keep track of the latest rants that are going on with you and Editors’ Lounge, where can they go on the web?

Terry Curren:

Larry Jordan: That’s

Terry Curren:, yes.

Mike Horton: That is tomorrow night, by the way, here in Los Angeles.

Terry Curren: Yes, yes. Yes, we have one tomorrow night with Adobe coming down, and then also Philip…

Mike Horton: Yes, Philip Hodgetts and Lumberjack, right?

Terry Curren: Exactly, and Philip and I also do a podcast called the Terence and Philip Show.

Mike Horton: It’s called the Rant of the 4K.

Larry Jordan: Terry, for people who feel they just have to throw money in your direction, how can they get hold of Alpha Dogs?

Terry Curren:

Larry Jordan: That’s Terry Curren is the Founder and President and if you want to keep track of the latest rants from people who have a clue about what’s going on, check out Terry Curren is the Founder and President of Alpha Dogs. Terry, thanks so much for joining us. It is always wonderful hearing your opinion.

Mike Horton: Thanks Terry.

Terry Curren: Thanks a lot, Larry. Thanks, Michael.

Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.

Terry Curren: Bye, bye.

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Larry Jordan: David Foley is a Co-Founder of NanoTech Entertainment, which is based in San Jose and focused on entertainment and communications products. He’s an award winning IPTV and gaming designer and development professional with over 20 years of experience in the industry. Hello, David.

David Foley: Hi, how are you?

Larry Jordan: Well, we are consumed with curiosity. We just had a segment talking with Terry Curren and Terry was saying that 4K may not necessarily be evil, but it may be premature and we can’t deliver it to the home and nobody is interested and just give up the whole idea.

David Foley: Yes, I heard Terry and I don’t disagree with some of the things he said, but certainly I do disagree with some of them as well.

Larry Jordan: Which is why we decided to put you on after him, to let him sort of soften the ground and you get to come in and explain what’s going on. Tell us first what NanoTech Entertainment does.

David Foley: We build a variety of hardware and software products and also deliver content over the top on a variety of devices.

Larry Jordan: Now, what does over the top mean?

David Foley: Over the top essentially means that, instead of using traditional broadcast methods, you’re delivering the signal to your television using the internet.

Larry Jordan: So when we see the phrase OTT, that stands for over the top and it means video delivery via the internet?

David Foley: Yes, so if you have, say, a Smart TV and you’re watching Netflix or Hulu, you’re getting it over the top as opposed to coming down through your direct TV or your cable box.

Larry Jordan: Wouldn’t it have just been easier to say ‘via the web’?

Mike Horton: Yes.

David Foley: Well, you know, that doesn’t make a nice acronym, right?

Mike Horton: So an Apple TV, a Roku box, those things, are those over the top devices?

David Foley: Correct.

Mike Horton: Ok.

Larry Jordan: Ok, so why did you decide to co-found NanoTech?

David Foley: Well, we actually started building out of home entertainment products, a digital pinball machine was our first product, and then a couple of years ago, as we saw the Roku start to get traction, we really felt like there was going to be a paradigm shift in viewing habits, moving away from what had been built up as the viewing method where people would have a DVR, store the show then go and watch it at their leisure. It’s now become, ‘I don’t want to wait for it to come by and have to record it and then watch it. I want to just go online right now and I want to watch three episodes in a row of something’ and so we felt like that was a really good shift in how people were going to be watching television and so we started investing in building the technology to create channels for devices like the Roku.

Larry Jordan: Ok. Well, we just heard Terry Curren explain that there are three phases to high resolution video – there’s the acquisition, which is what the camera acquires, which you’re not involved with; there’s the editing, which Terry is deeply involved with; and then there’s distribution of the final content to the home or the broadcast, which you are deeply involved with. Terry is saying that high resolution video, however you decide to define that, doesn’t really have a role yet in distribution. Would you agree or disagree?

David Foley: Well, I disagree and I disagree from two points. One is he was saying that the human eye can’t differentiate it, but what we’ve seen and the stuff that we’ve worked on says that the average consumer is looking at a 50 to 65 inch display in a room where they’re six to ten feet away and you can differentiate between HD, 4K and 8K in that viewing zone, if you will.

Larry Jordan: With a screen that’s about how big, did you say?

David Foley: 50 to 65 inch.

Larry Jordan: Ok, so then we established that NanoTech got started with digital pinball and you decided to shift into a home delivery of video, for lack of a better phrase. What specific products are you releasing and what format are you releasing them in?

David Foley: Our current wave of products is twofold. One is that we’re building a set top box that is the first set top box that delivers 4K, like a Roku box delivers HD, but it actually delivers 4K using the same kind of internet connection and we can deliver that with a very good resolution in 4K with a network connection that’s as low as ten megabits.

Larry Jordan: Ten megabits for a 4K image?

David Foley: That’s correct.

Larry Jordan: And you’re not throwing away so many pixels due to compression that you’re back to a 2K quality?

David Foley: No, absolutely not.

Mike Horton: And people in that six to ten foot zone can really tell the difference? Is there any scientific basis for this, or is this just the gut that says, “Yes, I can see the difference. This is awesome”?

David Foley: Well, there’s scientific basis. We’ve also done a number of taste tests and we’ve actually deployed with a bunch of our OEM customers and we’ve also shown it at major trade shows and we’ve done side by side displays where we’ve done 1080P and a 2160P or a 4K display side by side and let people decide for themselves. We’ve also done a lot of work on the compression front, where at our booth at CES we had the same streams running at six megabits, ten megabits and 20 megabits to let people see the difference in quality when you go down as low as six megabits when delivering 4K.

Mike Horton: Is this some super secret sauce you’ve got going here in the compression? Or is this something that we all know about?

David Foley: No, it’s a combination of using what’s out there for codecs and then doing some post processing. There are a bunch of companies that do optimization for compression. If you look at companies like Beemer, they take your 1080P compressed image and they’ll deliver it to you and 30 or 40 percent better bandwidth usage, and there are plenty of post processes you can use to do that. We’ve stumbled across a combination of things, if you will, that allow us to deliver it using standard codecs.

Larry Jordan: Now, is this a shipping product or is this something that’s still in the labs?

David Foley: The product has been out to our OEM customers and we’re about to release a version for our consumer customers where we’re actually updating to the latest operating system with Android 4.4.

Larry Jordan: And what’s involved in getting the box and is it affordable by mere mortals?

David Foley: It is. It’s actually a retail price of 299 and will be in retail stores this summer and you’ll also be able to buy it off the web in Amazon and places like that.

Larry Jordan: Now, that’s 299 and how much for the service itself?

David Foley: Our service comes with the box or we’re also building out versions of our channel – our channel’s called Ultraflix and that’s the 4K dedicated channel – and it has a combination of about 100 hours of free 4K content and then we have about 200 hours of video on demand content and that varies on what it is. We have a bunch of movies that you can rent that are as low as $1.99 for a rental period, all the way up to more current releases that are $12 to $15; and in the fall we’ll actually be releasing a digital locker version, where you can actually buy the content and store it online and stream it as many times as you like.

Larry Jordan: What do we need for monitors or television sets to be able to watch this?

David Foley: Well, that was the big surprise two years ago when we were at CES. You saw a few people with 4K televisions, and then last year it was just a tidal wave and there are not only the big players, the Sonys, Samsungs, LGs and VIZIOs that all have 4K product and are actually starting to gear up for second generation 4K product, but you also have a wave of very low cost panels coming in that use decent glass, and so if you have a good 4K image, like off of our Nuvola box, you can get a very low cost display. There are companies like Seiki and TCL and Hisense that have a 65 inch 4K television that’s under $1700.

Mike Horton: I’ve actually seen those.

Larry Jordan: Wow.

Mike Horton: They’re actually impressive, but that’s me. I see double vision, so…

Larry Jordan: If I don’t have a 4K monitor, can I use your service, even if I’ve got, say, a standard high def set or a 2K set?

David Foley: No. Well, you could use it but you’re certainly not going to get any benefit out of it because it’s all 4K content.

Larry Jordan: Ok, so I guess what I’m asking is, so there’d be no benefit for me to get your service if I don’t also have a 4K set?

David Foley: That’s correct.

Larry Jordan: There’s a ton of interesting stuff going on. It sounds like you’re optimistic about the future growth for 4K.

David Foley: Well, we are and we’re just basically looking at the market and looking at what’s already out there and companies like Sony have already shipped over half a million 4K sets. We’re looking at the numbers combined between the low end sets, where we have our device plugged into the TV, and the high end sets, where our channel will actually just be embedded right in the television. We’re going to be deployed on over a million units this year.

Larry Jordan: Hang on, Mike and I were looking at the online chat for a question. Mike, you had a question?

Mike Horton: No, I do, but again I’m the stupid one here, so I’m going to ask a stupid question. When we’re talking about pumping all this stuff through that box here, is the net neutrality ruling here going to hurt you if you become as big as Netflix? Are they going to hit you with a big price increase?

David Foley: Well, it’s interesting because the net neutrality thing is really, in my opinion, a red herring for the FCC to take control of the internet.

Mike Horton: Yes, that’s what we hope, or hope not.

David Foley: Yes, I hope not, for sure. But I think that if you look at it from a business perspective, sure, we should pay a little bit more than an email service or a web service because we are using a lot more bandwidth, but I think that just needs to be factored into your business model.

Larry Jordan: David, for people who want to learn more about the products that you offer or if they want to sign up to get this box when it ships, where do they go on the web?

David Foley:

Larry Jordan: That’s David Foley is a Co-Founder of NanoTech Entertainment. David, thanks for joining us today.

Mike Horton: Yes, David, you should come to Los Angeles tomorrow for the Editors’ Lounge and sit down with Terry Curren. It would be an awesome panel.

David Foley: Well, you know, I can’t make it tomorrow, but I’d be happy to come down when I have a little bit of a chance to set up a schedule.

Mike Horton: It would be so much fun.

Larry Jordan: I’d pay to watch that.  David, thanks for joining us.

David Foley: All right, thank you so much.

Larry Jordan: Bye bye.

Larry Jordan: Andy Shipsides is the Director of Education at AbelCine and still teaches camera classes his very self in the training department, as well as serving as their technical editor for their blog. He joins us with an update on the new Varicams from Panasonic. Hello, Andy.

Andy Shipsides: Hi Larry, how’s it going?

Larry Jordan: We are having a great time talking about 4K and that gets us into shooting 4K and that gets us into the sort of stuff that you’re talking about, which is cameras, and we are really looking forward to chatting with you. But let’s just set a scene real quick for people who haven’t heard of AbelCine. What do you guys do?

Andy Shipsides: We’re a camera sales company. We sell high end cameras and all accoutrement. We’re also a rental company of high end professional video cameras. We do training classes on those products and we also service them and fix them, so kind of a full service camera house, so to speak.

Larry Jordan: You guys started as a repair facility, then you moved into rental and sales. Where does education fit into this?

Andy Shipsides: Well, exactly, we started off as an Aaton repair house. We picked the Aaton film cameras and kind of evolved into these different things and education’s a natural outgrowth as the business changed. We started off selling pretty expensive cameras, broadcast cameras… a couple of years back now, only a couple of years back really, and the business of that, and you sell a couple of them and you’re doing pretty well. Now, cameras have got cheaper and we used to just do one on one training and we thought, “You know what? We’re selling a lot more cameras these days…” and we wanted to keep that same level of service to our customers and we wanted to educate them, so that kind of evolved into a whole training program outside of that one on one model that we had before. It still happens, of course, but it’s a necessity of our business and we wanted to have the wider reach that comes with these new cameras, but we wanted to just give our customers the sort of service they were expecting from us.

Larry Jordan: There are so many cameras at so many different price points, how should we decide what camera to buy? What decision criteria should we make?

Andy Shipsides: You’re exactly right, there are so many tools out there now and education’s an outgrowth of that, so that’s why we always educate our customers, because there are so many tools out there it’s hard to make that decision nowadays. We always say horses for courses, no one tool fits the job, it’s all unique but I think we have to look at criteria like sensor size, obviously there are a lot of big sensor cameras out there that give a certain kind of look. Dynamic range is a big one, it’s often overlooked in terms of the specs of a camera, but recently it’s gotten more attention with cameras like the Alexa having 14 stops of range, so it’s an important factor and, in fact, one that really defines the image a lot. And then, of course, there’s the whole resolution thing, it’s important.  4K obviously is a lot of discussion for today, and then beyond that it’s sort of features like usability. Usability is huge. People will accept a camera that kind of works for some applications, but you really need to be able to use this thing in a lot of scenarios. It’s a tool and if it only works for you in a few scenarios for your production, then you’re kind of limited.

Larry Jordan: Well, that’s where Panasonic comes in. Panasonic has had both consumer grade cameras and professional grade cameras and the high end of the Panasonic line is the Varicam, and I know that AbelCine caters to the high end of the market as opposed to people buying for $1.98, but what makes the new Varicams impressive?

Andy Shipsides: Varicam has a long history here of image quality and a look that everyone loved and it’s one of the first cameras we started to sell after the Aaton film cameras, well, it was kind of a concurrent thing, but the Varicams are known for their look and for the quality of the camera build. This camera has a lot of dynamic range, it’s got those 14 stops that is a magic bullet for the look of it, and it’s promising the look of the Varicam, that nice color quality that Panasonic is known for, so there’s an image quality thing that we’re all after all the time and the camera looks good. It’s kind of like film stock, you’re choosing a look; and then, of course, it’s got the sensor resolution which, moving forward with the 4K thing, is an actual thing. It’s complicated but it’s a real thing; and there are frame rates too. In 4K, you can shoot at 120 frames and then they have this other model, which is an HD model, which can shoot up to 440 frames, it’s a modular system. So it hits a lot of things – frame rate, dynamic range, resolution. It’s got a lot of those key words, but they’re important things.

Larry Jordan: It’s wonderful to have a camera that has those kind of specs, but it seems to me that a hidden trap is the codec the camera shoots. Now, I know Mike loves codecs like nobody else, but if I’ve got a high end camera and it records AVC HD, I’m giving up a lot of the quality of the lens and a lot of the quality of the sensor. How much weight should we give to the codec that the camera shoots?

Andy Shipsides: I certainly do. We talk about this a lot. You do want to have the best quality you can get at a certain cost. There are the two sides to any coin, right? When you’re talking about high end compression, the better quality you get, the bigger the file sizes are, so it causes other problems. So there’s that part, but they have this AVC Ultra and AVC Intra compression that’s been pretty successful in other forms and Sony have the XAVC codec and it’s done pretty well. Panasonic really started that in their own AVC Ultra compression. It’s proved to be quite good, certainly the quality you’d expect out of most popular video codecs today, and so Ultra is kind of new, I don’t know exactly what it is, but the promise is, being that it’s a modern codec, that you can get a lot of bang for your buck, so to speak.

Larry Jordan: If we’re shooting, how do we decide what settings to use? By that I mean how do we decide what video format? When should we shoot RAW? When should we shoot AVC Intra? How do we make those kind of technical decisions when we’re maybe not feeling really secure technically?

Andy Shipsides: Well, that’s a big one. It’s a decision that you have to make on a lot of levels. Post production and production merge this way all the time today, you can’t just go shoot film and deal with it later, you have to…that talks to people and there are a couple of big things. There’s quality, obviously. You shoot AVC HD, you’re going to suffer the consequences of shooting that codec and adjustability in post once you get out of it. But if you go to the higher quality codecs, the AVC Ultras versus RAW, I’d say – well, RAW, it’s the best quality you can get, absolutely, and the Panasonic cameras can do that too with a codecs recorder – the best quality but you’re going to pay the price in processing and post and just physically hard drive space. Big deal, obviously, hard drive space, so when you’re making that decision, you have to really look at that, for that data rate, the data rate of the RAW data, because that literally means money out of your pocket for production, and massive RAID space in those facilities. The 4K uncompressed RAW data, which is going to be basically what comes out of there, is about two gigabit a second, so…

Mike Horton: Holy cow.

Andy Shipsides: Yes, so it’s a little big. It’s just about a terabyte an hour, let’s say, a little more than that. So it’s a lot of data.

Mike Horton: It’s a lot of data, a lot of storage, a lot of metal.

Andy Shipsides: Exactly and that’s a big consideration.

Larry Jordan: Andy, would it be a true statement to say that if you need fast turnaround, you want to shoot a format which would not be RAW? But if you’re doing a lot of CGI or Rotoscoping or color correction, a lot of post production, post effects work, then you’d want to shoot the highest quality RAW format because it’s going to give you the data that you need to make it look good?

Andy Shipsides: Exactly right. That’s the decision. Do you need the quality? Do you need the ultimate flexibility and CGI potential, repositioning, all of that, of RAW? If you need it, you go for it. Otherwise, quick turnaround, that’s the advantage of having an AVC Ultra codec. It’s quick turnaround, you can still shoot in blocks, you get the dynamic range that you want but you can edit it in… can even support up to the 4K versions of these codecs, so you can actually still be in 4K if you want to be. Before that was the way to get high res, was to do RAW. But now with these new cameras, I can get 4K and still be in video if I want to be, so I don’t have to worry about all that extra data if I don’t really need it.

Larry Jordan: So these cameras will now shoot more than HD? They’ll take us to 2K, even 4K?

Andy Shipsides: That’s right, yes. That’s one of the great things about these new video cameras, or cinema camera, but they can just shoot video if you want it, even in 4K. It’s a new idea really. 4K cameras have been out for a while, but they’re RAW cameras and that’s a bigger decision to make, but 4K video is one that may be a little more palatable.

Larry Jordan: One of the things that I’m fond of reflecting on when I chat with guests is one of the companies that I do not want to run is a post production facility in Los Angeles, because this is a recipe for having no hair and sleepless nights.

Andy Shipsides: Yes, I would think so.

Larry Jordan: The other, though, is a camera company because all of a sudden competition is coming up from places you never saw before. We’re seeing Blackmagicdesign and AGA, which are traditional interface vendors, suddenly releasing cameras, and cameras at these price points that we’ve never seen, cameras with this level of features at this price. How does a company like Panasonic cope with this kind of off the wall competition?

Andy Shipsides: This is something we talk about a lot, as you can imagine, internally, because it affects us too as a reseller. Obviously there’s more money to be made on a higher price camera, so take a lower price, change your business model around a little bit and companies like us are threatened in a way by competition in the form of, like, What’s stopping them from selling a Blackmagic camera? So suddenly it thrusts us into everything else, but at the same time it does spur on momentum. It spurs on camera companies to lower their prices and if you look at the cameras today and the prices they are, they’re fractionally what they were a couple of years ago. At the same time, how Panasonic really competes is in feature sets and options and outputs and things that add usability to a product. Yes, you can get a 4K image out of a Blackmagic camera and the same with the new Psion, and they’re both good cameras in their own way. Panasonic went for functions and operation and build quality and things like that to separate it from the fray, so to speak.

Mike Horton: In the high end cameras that you’re talking about, the Varicams and the REDs and the ARRIs and things, is image quality pretty much the same in the Blackmagic cameras as in those?

Andy Shipsides: Not to get too into the politics of all that stuff and saying one’s better than the other, but I think that dynamic range, definitely, as we get higher end is increased. I think we could argue that, especially in the area of the new RED Dragon 55, the new cameras. They’re pushing those boundaries, getting to a 14 stop range, this new Panasonic being included in that, and that’s a big part of it, so the quality of the image in terms of dynamic range is certainly there. Specs in terms of resolution, well, you can get that in Blackmagic. If you’re just looking for 4K or Ultra HD, you can get there. That spec has been met now. It’s the other stuff that comes along with it that defines it, the colorimetry, the look and quality of the image overall.

Mike Horton: Well, you know in this world that, especially when it comes to the indie film world, it’s budgets matter more than anything and we will go for the Blackmagic over the ARRI if the cost is a lot different.

Andy Shipsides: Yes, only about $90,000.

Mike Horton: Yes, if it’s still going to give us a great image, and from what I’ve seen it does…

Andy Shipsides: Yes, yes.

Larry Jordan: But it seems to me also there’s another dynamic. First we’ve got the dynamic of picking the right codec; second, the dynamic of a camera that’s got a high usability function; and we’ve also got the massive differences in price between a $90,000 and a $20,000 and a $10,000 camera. But the other is camera technology is changing so quickly that we almost can’t get our money back on rentals. In other words, if I bought a camera, I can’t do enough jobs to get my money back and it almost seems like the camera manufacturers are changing so quickly to force us into renting cameras as opposed to buying cameras otherwise we’re not going to get our money back. What do you think?

Andy Shipsides: Well, it’s like any tool. I always talk about it and compare cameras to construction equipment, which seems like a weird analogy, but you don’t buy a…

Larry Jordan: Everybody needs a bulldozer. Ok, I’m in favor of this.

Mike Horton: I do.

Andy Shipsides: If you need a bulldozer, you buy a bulldozer. Why are you going to buy a bulldozer? Because you’re going to make money using it, you know? If you buy a tool that you can’t make money on as a professional, then that’s not a good purchase. So paying back a purchase like that, well, it’s something where you may be able to pay it back right away and you know that. People buy really expensive cameras all the time because they know they have the workflow; but I know what you mean. On the other side, the flip side of that coin, it is hard to get your money back compared to what it was, because it just lasted longer and basically the math has changed. It used to be, well, I know this camera’s going to last me ten years and it did. You know, a Betacam, hell yes… ten years, you got it. Now it’s like if you get three solid years out of a camera, that’s rock and roll.

Mike Horton: Yes, really.

Larry Jordan: I remember the digi Betacam. You bought it and it never changed. You put in new tape and it lasted forever. I feel like that’s like constant employment – it’s something in the distant past. We just don’t see that today.

Mike Horton: We’re running out of time here, I want to get this question in, how much does ergonomics mean to you and the cinematographers you work with? How big a deal is that?

Andy Shipsides: It actually is quite big, believe it or not. Again, from that working professional standpoint, every day you work, what they can do with something, how fast they can do it kind of is their job because if I can’t get that shot right now, then I can’t and because I’m limited by the function and shape of the camera, then I’m limited to what I can do with it. Now, a good cinematographer can make anything work, of course.  I won’t pretend like the job isn’t there, but it is a really big factor for a lot of people. In fact, we have sports shooters, news shooters, those guys, to them ergonomics is king. They almost rate ergonomics over the spec. They have to move quick and if it’s not in the right spot and they can’t nail that shot for the doc or the news that they’re shooting, they won’t do it, they just don’t want it, so it is a big deal.

Mike Horton: Do those guys go the DSLR route? Or do they go for the Varicams and the others?

Andy Shipsides: Surprisingly, it’s a good chunk of that market has gone up for the F55. The Varicam shooters in the past, they’re looking at this new Varicam too. They’re used to this kind of camera and this function. The new school, young kids coming in, they say, “Hey, I have a DSLR too, I love DSLR,” and they can make it work, but you give that to somebody who’s been using a broadcast camera for 20 years and they look at it like, “Ok, I can’t use that,” so it’s a matter of perspective but I think there is even maybe two different trains of thought at the same time. It’s these… cameras, we’ve kind of had those for many years as a shooter and… DSLRs. I certainly know what I can do with each of those tools, how fast I can operate them, so I think that people that you work with and the people we sell to and rent to, they know what they can do with it and how fast they can turn it around. Many of them will still ask for the big wide camera, and also there’s this whole perception thing too that goes along with it, which we can talk about if you want to, but having a big camera says something, you know? Having a DSLR says something else.

Larry Jordan: Andy, we have a couple of questions before we run out of time. Eric on the live chat is asking whether the Blackmagic cinema camera is competing with the ARRI. Do you see them being direct competitors?

Andy Shipsides: Well, that’s a good question. Yes and no. Not in the sense that no-one in the cinema world would want to use the Blackmagic camera for a big budget movie. It’s not going to happen. Maybe for a cross cam, second cam, B cam kind of thing, sure, but whatever it is, perception wise or otherwise, it’s not going to happen. But that’s where the Alexa kind of lives – narrative, high end commercial, that kind of thing – so it’s not really competing because the price points are so vastly different, so the markets are so vastly different. I think it competes only in the sense that they can make competitive images, you can make a similar picture with it, but there’s this whole perception part of it that comes into play.

Larry Jordan: Which gets me to the last big question – are the new Varicams available and, if not, when do they ship and what do they cost?

Andy Shipsides: Ah, I can only answer some part of that. They’re not available yet. They’re coming in September. Price point, all I can say is under 60 something. I can’t promise a harder number there, they won’t tell me, so that’s a guess.

Larry Jordan: Ok, but you’re saying around $60,000 for the camera, which would not include the lens, correct?

Andy Shipsides: Correct, yes. It’s a pro camera that way, yes.

Larry Jordan: Ok, so they’re coming in September and what’s the name of the new version so we know what to check into?

Andy Shipsides: It’s the Varicam Super 35. There are two versions of it. The Super 35 has a Super 35 brain, so to speak, and then you can take that off and put on the Varicam HS, which is the high speed two third inch version, so you can record with two different brains. Varicam Super 35 and Varicam HS.

Larry Jordan: And two questions on the live chat. Cesar’s asking what’s the favored camera now for news and documentary production?  Short answer.

Andy Shipsides: F55, yes.

Larry Jordan: The F55 from Sony and Eric is suggesting the Canon C300 is also very popular.

Andy Shipsides: You’re right, you’re actually right, you’re right, I would take that back. C300. I’m going to go with you on that. Between those two, you’re right, the C300 is…

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

Andy Shipsides:; and if you want to learn about our training classes, and there’s also our blog –

Mike Horton: And they’ll be at CineGear here next week, which I will be at, and looking forward to hanging out at AbelCine.

Larry Jordan: CineGear is a wonderful show and that website is Andy Shipsides is Director of Education. Andy, thanks for joining us today.

Andy Shipsides: Thank you very much.

Mike Horton: Thanks Andy.

Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.

Andy Shipsides: Bye bye.

Larry Jordan: Well, if nothing else, Michael, we’ve had a divergence of opinion today.

Mike Horton: Yes. What’s your opinion of 4K distribution, real quick? I know we’ve only got two minutes.

Larry Jordan: I am a fan of shooting high resolution for acquisition because that way you’ve got yourself covered, and especially because directors are not planning shoots any more, they’re just pointing the camera and hoping they get a shot and fix it in post, so I think 4K gives us more flexibility in editing and getting the shots framed the way we want.

Mike Horton: I know I have old eyes, but I have seen those side by side comparisons between the HD and the 4K displays and David talked about people saying, “Well, I can see the difference.” I’m sorry, I can’t, and it might be my old eyes, so I don’t know. But he said there is some sort of scientific basis for that, the six to ten feet thing. Terry says no.

Larry Jordan: I tend to agree with Terry, though, that the HDR – high dynamic range – is a much more impressive visual image than the 4K image is, so I tend to lean toward shooting high resolution, shooting 4K or 5K or six…

Mike Horton: Oh, absolutely.

Larry Jordan: …but then editing down to 2K and distributing 2K, because I’m not yet convinced that 4K is a market that I can make some money.

Mike Horton: Well, see, I can’t tell the difference in a movie theater between 4K and 2K.

Larry Jordan: Michael, I’ve seen your glasses. If you washed them once in a while it would make a difference.

Mike Horton: I do and it just always fogs up. This is why I see you in a fog. I see the world in a fog. Something’s wrong. I need contacts or something.

Larry Jordan: Just younger eyes, I think, is really all that’s necessary.

Mike Horton: And my ears are going bad too.

Larry Jordan: It has been a wonderful show. I can’t think of the last time we had this kind of divergence in opinion between two different groups of people. I’ve enjoyed listening to both Terry and…

Mike Horton: And I believe everybody.

Larry Jordan: Well, I think everybody’s got a point. I don’t think anybody’s misguided. They’re focusing on different parts of the market. I want to thank Terry Curren, the Founder and President of Alpha Dogs; Dave Foley, Senior Technologist and Co-Founder of NanoTech; and Andy Shipsides, Director of Education at AbelCine talking about Panasonic Varicams.

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

Larry Jordan: Music on The Buzz is provided by SmartSound, streaming by and transcriptions by Take 1 Transcription. Our producer is Cirina Catania, engineer Adrian Price. That affable, warm, avuncular voice on the other side of the table, Mr. Mike Horton. My name’s Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to The Buzz.

Mike Horton: Bye everybody.

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