Digital Production Buzz
January 1, 2014
[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]
(Click here to listen to this show.)
Michael Horton, Co-Host, Digital Production Buzz
Cirina Catania, Producer, Digital Production Buzz
Ned Soltz, Contributing Editor, Digital Video Magazine
Michael Kammes, Director, Technology & Marketing, Key Code Media
Michele Yamazaki, VP Marketing, Toolfarm
Philip Hodgetts, President, Intelligent Assistance
Jonathan Handel, Entertainment/Technology Attorney & Labor Reporter, TroyGould and The Hollywood Reporter
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 shutterstock.com, a global marketplace for royalty free images and videos. With over two million royalty free HD and 4K video clips, Shutterstock helps you take your creative projects to the next level; and by Other World Computing, providing quality hardware solutions and extensive technical support to the worldwide computer industry since 1988.
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 happy New Year everyone and welcome to The Digital Production Buzz. We are 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 we are live tonight with our year end wrap-up. This is where we get to look back at 2014 and then take our best guess at where 2015 is headed; and we have a great group of analysts to help us figure this out.
Larry Jordan: We start with our co-host, Mike Horton, with a look at the core of what makes our industry work – editors and end users. Next is our Supervising Producer and film maker Cirina Catania. Her role with the show is to guess where the future is headed and who’s driving it, then invite them onto the show as a guest. I’m very interested in hearing Cirina’s take on the key industry trends in 2014 and where she thinks the show is going in 2015.
Larry Jordan: Ned Soltz, the Contributing Editor for Digital Video Magazine, joins us with a look at cameras and camera technology which continue to evolve at an incredible pace. Michael Kammes, the Director of Technology for Key Code Media, follows with his perspective on workflow automation and technology.
Larry Jordan: Michele Yamazaki, the VP of Marketing at Toolfarm, then shares her thoughts on software trends and third party developers and whether there’s a market for their products any more. Next, Philip Hodgetts, the CEO of Intelligent Assistance, returns with his thoughts on codecs, workflow and technology; and we wrap up with Jonathan Handle, Entertainment Labor Reporter for The Hollywood Reporter, with a look at labor and employment issues for the coming year.
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 take1.tv and thanks, Take 1, for making this possible.
Larry Jordan: We have a number of exciting new features planned for The Buzz starting later this month, building on our new offices and our brand new studio. Be sure to subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com for an inside look at both our show and the industry. Remember to visit with us on Facebook, at digitalproductionbuzz.com; we’re on Twitter, @dpbuzz, and we’d love to hear from you.
Larry Jordan: Hello, Michael, happy New Year to you.
Mike Horton: Hello, Larry and this is me from Canby, California on the Central Coast and it is an absolutely beautiful night and I miss you and happy New Year.
Larry Jordan: Well, a very happy New Year to you and the elephant seals. How do they look?
Mike Horton: They look pretty good. I actually posted a couple of pictures on Facebook and they were looking directly at you and they were saying, “Happy New Year, Larry Jordan,” because they miss you too.
Larry Jordan: Michael, as you look back both at the elephant seals and 2014, what are some of the key trends that you’ve spotted.
Mike Horton: Well, I was actually talking to the elephant seals today and they were talking 4K. Seriously, if there’s a trend, if there’s a buzz word, you know what it is. Everybody’s talking 4K. We’re all being beaten over the head with this thing and that’s what we’re talking about and that’s what we’ve got to deal with.
Mike Horton: Whether you think there’s a lot of difference between the image and the look, which I don’t, between 2K and 4K – and I’ve always said that, but I don’t have a cinematographer’s eye like maybe you do – but that is what we’re dealing with and that’s what we’re going to be dealing with in the future, so get used to it, folks, and get used to it, Larry.
Larry Jordan: All right. Well, I refuse necessarily to get used to it, but a separate thing – one of the things that you spent a lot of your time doing is working with users and user groups. One of the things that struck me was how hard it was for user groups to be successful last year. Did you see the same trend? People just don’t want to show up to group meetings.
Mike Horton: It is, it’s always difficult. It’s difficult to get people out of the house. People say, “Well, why don’t you just give in and stream your meetings for us who just want to stay at home and look at all the stuff on the computer screen?” and I keep saying I’m not going to do that because you need to meet face to face with these people, especially if you are wanting to have a career in this business.
Mike Horton: It is not just about staying home with your computer, it is about shaking hands with people, saying hello and looking them in the eye, just like the old days when we used to talk to each other. You still have to do that and that’s what I’m going to continue doing. I’m going to spoon this stuff into people’s mouths for the rest of my life until I just can’t do it any more and that’s it, because you really do. It is important that you do get out of the house because, like I’ve said before a hundred times, you just don’t know who you’re going to meet that’s going to change your life. You really do have to meet them.
Larry Jordan: But aren’t you shoveling against the tide? Everybody wants it all delivered on their computer screen.
Mike Horton: Yes, and I would hate to say this is a trend because it’s now a, what, ten year trend?
Larry Jordan: Yes.
Mike Horton: Maybe it’s a generational thing, I don’t know, but I am not going to stream my meetings, I am going to force you to come to these places because I’ve seen the results. I’ve seen the results of people meeting each other; and you can do it virtually, yes, to a certain point but there’s nothing like face to face meetings. That’s just the way it is.
Larry Jordan: Aside from cudgeling people to attend meetings and the inevitability of 4K, what are the trends you’re looking at in 2015?
Mike Horton: Well, speaking of that, my first meeting is going to be all about 4K. It’s going to be a 4K themed meeting. One of the reasons I’m going to be doing that is because we’re putting in a new 2K projector and we’ll be projecting 4K images on the 2K projector and I’m going to say, “Ok, see any difference? No.”
Mike Horton: It’s going to be awesome because the projector that we’ve had for the last ten years has been 1024 x 768 and now we’ve got ourselves a 2K resolution projector. So we’re going to talk about all 4K. We’re going to talk about workflow, we’re going to show images, we’re going to show all the stuff, we’re going to debate the whole thing about 4K and hopefully learn.
Mike Horton: We’ll tape it and we’ll put it up on the thing a month later, but be there. You need to be there and speak up about it or for it or whatever you want. That’s going to be at least our theme for this month. February, I have no idea. It could be all about Larry Jordan.
Larry Jordan: No, no, it’s only partly about me. It’s all about Michael Horton and Cirina Catania. Cirina, welcome. How are you?
Cirina Catania: Hi, except I haven’t heard what you guys have been talking about.
Larry Jordan: Well, Michael says that it’s been a ten year fight to get people to attend user group meetings and other events and it’s going to continue to be a fight and he says the word is all 4K and 4K is what we’re going to be hearing next year and so I was wondering if you’ve got any thoughts on user groups before we shift over to technology, Cirina?
Cirina Catania: You know what? I think that people are getting really tired of all of the long distance social media group mentality, Facebook, and I think they’re starting to hunger for more personal interaction. I don’t know about you, Michael…
Mike Horton: See? Yes, exactly. See, she agrees with me, even though we’re the same age.
Cirina Catania: I think that if we can find a way to make it more accessible and maybe less expensive, not that you need to charge less, but how can we find a way to bring those user groups to more and more communities? I really think that we can create these microcosms of people that have a common interest and who are just dying for personal interaction, creative inspiration. I really do think that there’s a future for these user groups.
Larry Jordan: Well, we’re going to have to talk with Michael about that as we have future shows. Michael, I want to wish you a very, very happy New Year and thanks for joining us with you and the elephant seals from Cambria.
Mike Horton: Yes, I wish all of you a very, very happy New Year and, Cirina, I love you and hopefully I’ll see you soon.
Cirina Catania: Love you back, happy New Year.
Larry Jordan: And Cirina, hang on, we’re going to be back with you right after a break.
Cirina Catania: Great.
Mike Horton: Happy New Year.
Cirina Catania: Happy New Year.
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 productions, television commercials, sports, documentaries and much more.
Larry Jordan: The Blackmagic production camera 4K also features an incredibly tempting price of $2,995. Learn more about the Blackmagic production camera 4K that is definitely priced to move, visit blackmagicdesign.com today.
Larry Jordan: I should mention, before we chat again with Cirina, that Mike Horton is the Head Cutter at the Los Angeles Creative Pro User Groups and one of the two co-producers of the world famous Supermeet series of events; and Cirina Catania, who is always behind the scenes but rarely on mic, is the Supervising Producer for The Buzz, as well as a film maker, journalist and former senior executive with United Artists and MGM. She’s also one of the founders of the Sundance Film Festival, something I get to brag about not frequently enough. Hello, Cirina.
Cirina Catania: Hi, Larry. I’m excited about tonight. This is always one of my most fun shows of the year.
Larry Jordan: I enjoy it too. What were the highlights for you of 2014, if you look at it not from the show’s point of view but just as the industry?
Cirina Catania: I think one of the biggest issues that’s still facing us is net neutrality. It’s really going to change the way we use the internet and it’s a bit frightening. I don’t know what the FCC is finally going to decide, but the idea that the big guns are going to affect what it costs us as content creators to produce and distribute or work, it’s really tough. I think bandwidth is our digital heroin and you start charging more for things like HD streaming and long distance collaboration and file transfers and video conferencing, it’s going to affect us. So I think that worldwide it’s a big problem and we’re just going to have monitor it and, see what happens and hope for the best.
Larry Jordan: It’s interesting, your view of the past is not technology or people based, it’s actually political.
Cirina Catania: Well, it affects us, you know? I also think on the political front unions are going to get stronger. I don’t know if Michael would agree with that or not – the merger of SAG and AFTRA had a lot of kinks – but I think that what has happened over the last few years is that we have begun to realize as we’re maturing as film makers that the non-union atmosphere that has pervaded the industry has left many, many people with very little for retirement, with not great benefits and people are now starting to realize that not only do they want to get paid what they’re worth, but they’re looking forward to their retirement and how do you get that when you’re working non-union? So I do think that we are going to see an upswing in support for the unions.
Larry Jordan: So we’ve got a union upswing in 2015. What else are you keeping an eye on?
Cirina Catania: I think employers are finally realizing that you get what you pay for. They don’t want to spend more, but more and more they’re realizing that, “Let’s bring the pros on. Let’s get a real pro heading up this team, maybe hire an extra person,” and that going for the cheapest labor doesn’t always yield good results.
Cirina Catania: One thing that’s really interesting is that, in the last ten, 15 years with these new cameras, everybody could buy one because they could afford one, so you had literally millions of people creating content. Then they’re like lemmings swimming en masse and the cream still rises to the top. We were afraid that all these amateurs coming in and claiming to be cinematographers and directors and producers because they could buy a camera were going to put us out of business. I don’t think that’s going to happen. I really think that the good people are still going to rise to the top.
Larry Jordan: So as you look at these trends, how does that translate into guests for The Buzz? What are your plans for the next six months in terms of who you invite on the show?
Cirina Catania: I really love that we’ve been bringing more creative people on to talk about how they do what they do and some of the old timers are so much fun to talk to, so I would like to talk to the people who are hiring, I’d like to talk to more of the larger companies to find out what their plans are for the future and how they’re going to bring prosperity to all of us who are working in the trenches.
Larry Jordan: Let’s see, we’ve got political stuff that you’re watching, employment and business stuff, and also if budgets are increasing, it means the economy is improving. Are there technology trends you’re keeping an eye on?
Cirina Catania: I think that there’s going to be an increase in desire for more of the ENG style cameras and I want to ask Ned this question when he comes on and see what he thinks, but the ENG style all in one cameras I believe are going to make a comeback. Not that we’re going to dump the other ones, because they’re wonderful, but look at the reaction that Blackmagic got to the Ursa and to the Zion that’s coming out and the new Panasonic cameras that are coming out.
Cirina Catania: I think the transformer type of workflow is proving to be a little bit difficult for everyone and I see a lot of talk as I travel the country from people who are really just getting tired of all of the little bits and pieces that you have to put together in order to shoot. Now, the bigger budget shows never had a problem with that because they could afford the $150,000 cameras, but those of us on the middle line really have had to learn how to shoot in a new way and I think that some of these newer cameras that are coming out are going to help us get over that transformer approach.
Larry Jordan: Well, Ned Soltz is the Contributing Editor at Digital Video magazine. Hello, Ned.
Ned Soltz: Hello Larry and hi Cirina.
Cirina Catania: Hi Ned. Happy New Year.
Ned Soltz: Happy New Year to you and to Larry and to all of our listeners as well.
Larry Jordan: And a happy New Year to you. Ned, you just heard Cirina’s comment on the ENG style cameras. What’s your thought?
Ned Soltz: I couldn’t agree more. As a matter of fact, I have on order and hopefully should have it next week the new Sony FS7 that can really work right out of the box with its shoulder pad or its old Aaton body style or just really throw a very inexpensive shoulder mount on it with a VCT plate and there you have something that’s on a tripod, you pull it right off, you shoot it ENG style. I’m a big Sony F555 fan and they’ve just announced their slide-in rig to basically make that a typical shoulder mount ENG camera. Enough with the Franken-rigs already. I agree.
Cirina Catania: And don’t you think, Ned, that even the wonderful cameras that we’re using – I love and shoot a lot with the Blackmagic cameras – we don’t need to put all that stuff on them in order to make them work, right?
Ned Soltz: Oh, it’s getting comic. It’s getting comic, as a matter of fact. Nothing against my friends at Zukio or any of the manufacturers that create these things, but they’re just responding to the cameras that are out there and when you see the monstrosity of metal and plastic that you have to put on these things to shoot them comfortably, it’s absurd.
Larry Jordan: Well, Ned, I think this is an interesting comment and I want to follow that more; but Cirina, thanks for joining us. I’m going to bring you back a little later in the program.
Cirina Catania: All right, thank you.
Larry Jordan: You take care and we’ll wish you a happy New Year when we have a chance.
Cirina Catania: Thanks.
Larry Jordan: Take care. So Ned, camera technology continues to accelerate, as Cirina and you were just talking about. We’ve switched from DSLR style cameras to ENG style camera. Is this having the effect of freezing buying decisions? Because cameras are changing so quickly, you’re afraid to buy something because it’s going to be wrong.
Ned Soltz: Oh, I think people are absolutely totally frozen. I hear every day practically, probably a day doesn’t go by when people don’t ask me the question, “What camera should I buy?” and I’m really getting very frustrated with the question because you have to ask the person, “What’s your intent? What’s your purpose? What do you want to do with it? How do you intend to pay for it?”
Ned Soltz: But in all cases, I think on the one level I’m seeing less interest in the larger DSLRs; interest, however, in the smaller sized camera and the mirrorless cameras, as an example the GH4 from Panasonic or the A7S from Sony. Lots of interest in cameras in that particular form factor, just because they are smaller, they do require more rigging but they then also function as an extremely high quality still camera and as a B or a C camera to a larger camera. But by and large, the form factors we’re seeing are more ENG.
Ned Soltz: I’ll take a look at the two top of the line cameras that were introduced this year. Panasonic finally came out, and it’s shipping, with its 4K Varicam in 4K and high speed versions of it; and ARRI has introduced this amazing Amira camera. Both of those can work on a tripod, they can work on a TechnoGrain, they can work over your shoulder because the rigs are all built in to them. So really the high end, I think, is dictating things.
Larry Jordan: In addition to camera technology changing, we are continuing to see a proliferation of different codecs, which has ramifications throughout the entire editorial process.
Ned Soltz: Oh, I’m so glad you asked me that, Larry, because that was right here in my notes to talk about. I think it’s funny, we’re seeing the proliferation of codecs, and I’ll take Sony and Panasonic as examples of working on various AVC formats of encoding in camera which then allow you to get UHD or even 4K in camera.
Ned Soltz: But with all of that, people want ProRes. Sony has had to offer a ProRes option for the F555. The new FS7 that I’m buying will have ProRes encoding capable in the camera back as an option. You have Shogun and all the other Adamo products, as well as the convergent design Odyssey all offering the ProRes. The ARRI shoots ProRes. Everybody wants ProRes, so despite the proliferation of codecs, you still have a market out there that really is very partial to ProRes.
Ned Soltz: Another level, Canon, still shooting eight bit mpeg2 in the C300, for example, simply because that’s a broadcast format and that’s really all broadcasters need and want, that’s what they work with, so the technology is being kind of forced on us by the manufacturers but it doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s wide adoption, as shown by the fact that they have to backtrack and offer ProRes and retain legacy mpeg2 formats.
Larry Jordan: I think that’s a key point, that the manufacturers keep trying to change the codecs and they’re getting a huge amount of pushback from users who are saying, “We’ve got an existing workflow where this works. Got to get something that works with our workflow.”
Ned Soltz: Exactly, exactly. I go on episodic TV sets all the time and TV drama that has seven, ten, 12 days to turn an episode around, send it off to LA to be edited, bring it back. They don’t want to experiment with anything new, they’ve got their tried and true methodology and workflows that get them through a 12, 15 or 20 season show, if they’re lucky to get that many orders. So people don’t experiment.
Larry Jordan: Taking a look again, staying at production cameras and codecs and camera technology, what do you see as the biggest challenges facing media professionals in the coming year?
Ned Soltz: I think the biggest challenge really is going to be 4K, which is now ubiquitous. But now that 4K is ubiquitous, what do you do with it? How do you shoot it? How do you edit it? How do you deliver it? How do you use it for repositioning and reframing a shot and retaining that for future proofed use of that? That’s the first challenge.
Ned Soltz: I think the second challenge that people have is now that there are so many logarithmic types of options and RAW types of options available, how do you learn new grading techniques or convince your editors or colorists to learn those new techniques? And then how do you handle all of that data? That’s going to be one of the biggest challenges, because now we’re dealing with various 4K formats, we’re dealing in RAW, we are drowning in data and how are we going to a) manage it; and b) how then are we going to have and keep up with computers and editing devices to be able to edit those files effectively? They’re the big challenges.
Larry Jordan: I think you’re right in that shooting 4K is actually the easiest part, but how we’re going to distribute it and how we’re going to archive it are, to me, two gigantic black holes.
Ned Soltz: Oh, amazing, amazing. Yes, we’re certainly seeing 4K delivery right now and we’ve talked about this before, where one of the future trends that I see is more and more IP delivery. When you take a look, for example, at Netflix producing everything in 4K and then delivering over IP in 4K to people’s UHD televisions, which are going to get better and better in the coming year as well, but that’s a topic for another discussion post-CES.
Ned Soltz: Nonetheless, how are you going to be delivering that? 4K YouTubes are all over the place right now and Vimeo is going to be following suit, so we’re going to see a lot of very bad 4K shot on a lot of very bad consumer level cameras where people are going to say, “Well, it’s 4K after all.” The price of democratization of the industry is the fact that we have to put up with the poor quality as well as the good and we hope that those shooting less than optimal quality are going to have opened eyes, minds and hearts and learn to improve their craft.
Larry Jordan: Well, I think that leads directly into Michael Kammes, who’s the Director of Technology and Marketing at Key Code Media and Michael’s been specializing in workflow and automation. Michael, what are your comments on what Ned’s talking about?
Michael Kammes: It’s amazing, I wanted to jump in so many times, gentlemen, over the past ten minutes. I think that Ned talked about much of this and one of the things he hit on that I’m a big part of is the move to ProRes or these post-friendly codecs that you’re finding on location as opposed to dealing with these codecs that look friendly but break down in post very quickly and the move to cameras to generate these post-friendly codecs and being able to use those in post production for better latitude I think is phenomenal. I think we’re seeing a lot of cameras that are doing that, which only helps the post process.
Larry Jordan: Are we seeing pushback from the industry that’s going to cause the camera manufacturers to charge or are the camera manufacturers just going to offer this as a second option?
Michael Kammes: I think the camera manufacturers are doing it as a response because they want to have a bigger sandbox, they want to play with more post-friendly technologies and be part of the workflow. If you’re Sony, for example, and you’re generating a codec no-one wants to use, great, you’re on the head end in terms of camera but who wants to buy your monitors? Who wants to buy your storage products? Who wants to buy your other technology if you’re not friendly with everyone else? So foraying into the ProRes or DNX realm allows you to play friendly with others as you move in the process.
Larry Jordan: Michael, hold on one second. Ned, I’m going to let you go, but are you headed to CES?
Ned Soltz: Unfortunately not this year. I’d love to be but I don’t have anybody paying for it for me, so I won’t see you there this year.
Larry Jordan: Well, I will go on your behalf. Ned, have yourself a wonderful New Year and we will talk with you soon.
Ned Soltz: Thank you so much, Larry and Michael and everybody else. Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Take care. Michael, as you look back at 2014, what are the highlights that struck you?
Michael Kammes: Well, you mentioned this briefly a few minutes ago, which was the camera automation. We had hoped, with everything going digital, that it would streamline things a bit, kind of like we thought the beta tape would streamline things a little bit, and it really hasn’t. It’s created more challenges, it’s created more things to do. It’s created things like having to matriculate metadata from one point to another, it’s that transcoding, it’s been in-coding, and all these little jobs which are really taking away from the creative aspect of why we all got into this industry, which is to create and tell stories.
Michael Kammes: So there’s been a large push over the past couple of years and 2014 was no exception to push automation to make these more, for lack of a better term, mundane tasks be automated, whether it be creating post-friendly files from camera originals on set and adding the appropriate metadata, whether it’s pushing this material to your storage to archive or… storage, so your expensive storage is freed up, or pushing the YouTube or Vimeo all in the background with only a few button clicks so it frees up the editor to actually create instead of manage.
Larry Jordan: As I’m thinking about this, what I’m hearing is that, in order for this automation and workflow to work, we have to have the industry slow down for a minute so we’ve got some sort of level of standardization. Are you seeing that happen as well?
Michael Kammes: I think a lot of us would be out of jobs, Larry, if there was standardization. As much as we would love standardization, as much as we’d like to see a blueprint as to what was done in every scenario, it’s not that way. As Ned alluded to, there are new cameras coming out, new formats. Just when we thought we had the transcode from camera original to post down, now we have recorders coming out that are recording in Log C, so now we have to do a first color path and another color grade. There are all these different, I won’t say hiccups, but different avenues to pursue in post which changes things constantly and makes standardization awfully difficult.
Larry Jordan: Well, the other thing it does is it forces you to answer the question ‘what do you want to do with the gear?’ before you buy it. For instance, if you’re doing live or near live, thinking everything from news to weddings, recording in Log C is going to make your life miserable because you don’t have the time for a color pass, so all of a sudden it behooves people to really understand what the technology is doing before they invest the money. Is that a true statement?
Michael Kammes: You couldn’t be more correct. That’s completely accurate. I think another avenue to that is does the corporate mentality of having ultimate flexibility – you said you wanted someone to know what the outcome is, what you want to accomplish so we can shoot for that. When we started work in 4K, that’s still a mystery. As Ned said a few minutes ago, we’re going to see a lot of real bad 4K because, as we all know, broadcasting in 4K, getting 4K to the end user is still kind of a mystery. No broadcasters are really pushing 1080p, let alone 2K, 3K, 4K.
Larry Jordan: Does the word impossible sound appropriate here? We’d have to rewire the entire broadcast infrastructure to broadcast 4K. It sounds like it’s an internet delivery for 4K or nothing.
Michael Kammes: Completely, but what I’m seeing a lot of is that there are two sides to the camp on 4K. There’s either ‘let’s shoot 4K because we can do the, for lack of a better term, pan and scanner, the reframing for HD distribution’. There’s also obviously heavier fidelity for VFX; but the other angle is, well, I want this to be something we can broadcast in ten years. How many times have we turned on the TV and we’ve seen standard def from ten years ago and it looks horrible? We want to be able to have something that can not only be broadcast in HD but inevitably in 4K so it looks good. So we’re kind of stuck in two camps as to what do you want to use 4K for.
Larry Jordan: So what are the key trends that you’re watching in 2015?
Michael Kammes: One of them shoots a little bit off that, and that’s actually something you wouldn’t expect to hear me talk about, but it’s live broadcast, it’s using tools like Tricaster, like WireCast, for example. These are tools that allow anyone to create a relatively good production-wise show, a web show, whether it be a podcast or web series or live broadcast. It allows you to interact with your audience and that is a little bit on the CSQ from post production, but being able to interact with your audience to see what they want is just phenomenal, and we’re seeing that in corporate, in gaming believe it or not, in almost every vertical out there.
Larry Jordan: I agree, that’s why we built our studio and what we’re going to be concentrating on for 2015, so I agree there. Before I run out of time, what are the biggest challenges facing media professionals? We’ve talked about trends and some of the stuff from 2014; what do we need to be careful of in 2015?
Michael Kammes: There are massive expectations to have a beautiful production. Since the democratization of these tools, the ability to create something that looks shiny and flashy and good. There’s even more pressure to accomplish that, even on the lower end, so folks who are doing, as I mentioned, the WireCast, the Tricaster or just buying a 4K camera at a local electronics store and shooting something coming up with something that looks phenomenal, that aesthetically looks great. That’s required even more; and being able to purchase plug-ins and other slick tools to make your art look better, that’s being pushed at every end of the spectrum.
Larry Jordan: Well, thinking of that reminds me of our VP of Marketing at Toolfarm, which is Michele Yamazaki. Hello, Michele.
Michele Yamazaki: Hi, how are you?
Larry Jordan: We are doing great. Michael says that the future is setting expectations that every show needs to look perfect, which leads us directly into software. Would you agree or disagree?
Michele Yamazaki: I totally agree. It’s a tough thing to live up to.
Larry Jordan: But you’ve got plug-ins. Doesn’t the software make it look great automatically?
Michele Yamazaki: It definitely helps, but there’s knowledge and skill involved as well and training. There’s a lot to it and there are a lot of people out there doing it now, so the competition’s stiff, the expectations are high. It’s a tough world.
Larry Jordan: Michael, I wish you a very, very happy New Year. Are you going to CES?
Michael Kammes: No I’m not, unfortunately. I wish I was, I like looking at shiny things and pushing buttons, but alas it was not the…
Larry Jordan: Ah, well, see, I’m going for the first time in about ten years, so between you and Ned and me, I’ll take notes for all three of us. Michael, you have yourself a wonderful New Year.
Michael Kammes: Brilliant, thanks a lot. Happy New Year to both of you.
Larry Jordan: Thank you. Michele, I was just reflecting that we’ve been looking with Michael and Ned on hardware trends in cameras and codecs, but you live in a different world, you live in software. What were some of the highlights of 2014 from a software point of view?
Michele Yamazaki: Element 3D from Video Copilot was released, version two was released. It was delayed a little bit because they wanted to make sure all the bugs were gone, and that was just a huge event. Everyone was waiting and waiting and waiting, so that was a great release and everyone’s really happy with it. It has some really great new features. That was probably the biggest event. The new Sapphire just came out as well just a week ago.
Larry Jordan: Michele, I’m going to stop you for a second so I can work in an ad, but we’ll bring you right back after this.
Larry Jordan: Finding the perfect royalty free image or video for your creative project can be a crucial step in the film making process and, whether it’s for your website, publication or video segment, the experts at shutterstock.com can help you choose from over two million royalty free HD and 4K stock video clips, including time lapses, aerials, green screens and model released clips.
Larry Jordan: Sourcing over 12,000 brand new video clips each week, Shutterstock consistently offers the highest quality stills and video clips from professional film makers. Plus Shutterstock provides sophisticated search engine tools so you can search and drill down by category, clip resolution, contributor name and more. Also, use their great no risk try-before-you-buy option so you can see how their clips will look in your project before making a single purchase.
Larry Jordan: Try Shutterstock today – sign up for a free account. No credit card is needed and, as an added bonus to you, enter promo code BUZZ2014 before December 31st to receive 25 percent off any footage package. Discover shutterstock.com. That’s shutterstock.com.
Larry Jordan: Michele Yamazaki is the VP of Marketing for Toolfarm, a company that specializes in plug-ins and third party developers. One of the things that was interesting to me is the fact that, because the economy was so poor for so many years, a lot of developers were really struggling. Are you seeing the economy improve to the point that developers can make a living again creating new software?
Michele Yamazaki: I think so. There are a lot of new companies out there and a funny trend that we’ve been noticing, that you’ve probably noticed too, is that companies keep buying each other up.
Larry Jordan: For instance, who’s buying who now?
Michele Yamazaki: Imagineer was just acquired by Boris Effects and that’s kind of an interesting acquisition that nobody really expected, but I guess it makes sense. They don’t compete with each other’s products and they said that they’re going to each act as their own individual company but share resources, so it makes a lot of sense. Hopefully consumers will benefit from that.
Larry Jordan: Any other acquisitions?
Michele Yamazaki: There were quite a few. Fusion is now owned by Blackmagic, so that’s an interesting one, and I think because of that we’re already seeing a lot more Fusion plug-ins out there. The Foundry is up for sale also and, who knows, there might be a deal in the works. I haven’t heard but we were just thinking who could buy them – Autodesk or Blackmagic or Adobe. That could be an interesting acquisition as well.
Larry Jordan: It’s interesting that there is acquisition, because that means that the people doing the acquiring think that there’s additional growth in the market. Where do you see Avid in all of this? Apple and Adobe have got all kinds of developers, but what’s happening with Avid from a development point of view?
Michele Yamazaki: I’m not really sure. They’re subscription now, they’ve gone to a subscription model, I believe, but they still have a perpetual license. I think that a lot of companies are going to subscription. You asked if developers can hang on in this economy and I think subscription modeling is also helping with that because they’re getting their money more frequently, instead of just at the upgrade time or just when a new version is released. It’s more of a steady income coming in, like Adobe has done.
Michele Yamazaki: But I think that that might bite them, because I think that a lot of the people using the software are going to get fed up with it, having 100 subscriptions to manage and they’re going to end up going back to perpetual licensing before long. I just have a feeling. But as far as Avid, I’m not really sure. That’s a tough question. There are a lot of people who are very loyal to Avid, so yes, it could be good for them.
Larry Jordan: Let’s shift over to Adobe. Adobe has aggressively courted developers to its platform in the last year. Are you seeing an increase in sales and interest in developing plug-ins for Premiere?
Michele Yamazaki: Definitely. There are a lot of plug-ins for After Effects that are now being ported to Premiere and Premiere only plug-ins, Final Cut plug-ins. A lot of the noise industry plug-ins are now being developed for Premiere as well. That was new a couple of years ago, that’s not new last year, but there are a lot more plug-ins available for Premiere than there were five years ago.
Larry Jordan: Fred in our live chat’s asking if you’re seeing any support for OFX.
Michele Yamazaki: A lot.
Larry Jordan: Really?
Michele Yamazaki: A lot. Revision Effects, they were on board with the whole OFX thing from the beginning, but Boris is involved with that, there are a lot of companies now who are creating plug-ins for OFX and I think that because Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve uses an OFX platform and Nuke, I think that that’s really pushing a lot of it. There’s a big market out there.
Larry Jordan: Apple is the third company whose name starts with an A. Apple is rev-ing its operating system on an annual basis. Does that constant OS change make things easier or harder for developers?
Michele Yamazaki: I think it makes it harder for consumers, so that could make it harder for developers as well. A lot of people I know, including myself, are hesitant to upgrade our operating systems and I’ve had to upgrade an operating system to use plug-ins that require a newer system and then I end up having problems with my mail and other issues, so that’s a really tough one. I think it’s tough for everybody.
Larry Jordan: Well, let’s ask a developer. Philip Hodgetts is the CEO of Intelligent Assistance. Hello, Philip, how are you?
Philip Hodgetts: Hello.
Larry Jordan: I understand that it’s raining in Australia.
Philip Hodgetts: It’s just sprinkling in Tasmania. I came outside to get a better signal. See, I suffer for your show, Larry, I suffer for you.
Larry Jordan: Nobody does a better job of suffering silently than you do so, Philip, it’s good to have you with us. Michele is saying that there is an increasing market for plug-ins that Adobe is becoming increasingly attracted to develop for and, before we let Michele go, do you have a question for her before we chat with you?
Philip Hodgetts: Oh, I hadn’t prepared a question for Michele. I’d prepared a question for Jon.
Michele Yamazaki: You know what? I had actually prepared a question for Philip.
Larry Jordan: All right, go ahead.
Michele Yamazaki: It’s funny, what you just mentioned about Adobe. I was wondering if the Lumberjack system that you’ve developed is going to be ported at all to Premiere in the future?
Philip Hodgetts: We had originally thought that we might do that, but then when I really examined the paradigms of building Lumberjack on, I realized that we could do a really, really good integration with Final Cut Pro 10 and a kind of half-assed integration with Premiere and at this point I’d rather not do a half-assed implementation, particularly since Adobe has tools in the same space with Pro Utilize Logger and Pro-U, so at this point in time we have that on hold. But we are actively moving towards developing some of our other apps into panels for Premiere Pro, because it is a growing market and I don’t want to leave it all behind.
Larry Jordan: Michele, I want to thank you so much for joining us – we’re going to switch over to Philip – and I wish you a very, very happy New Year. We look forward to chatting with you again in the future. Thanks for joining us tonight.
Michele Yamazaki: Thank you. Happy New Year.
Larry Jordan: Take care. Philip, let’s talk a little bit more about this whole development issue. Have you seen over the last year or so an improvement in the market?
Philip Hodgetts: Our market has been fairly constant over the last couple of years. The product mix varies and we’ve certainly seen uptake of things like Sequence… Reporter, originally developed for Final Cut 7, but we’re seeing that now selling quite well to Premiere Pro users because, of course, Premiere exports a slight variant of the Final Cut Pro 7 xml.
Philip Hodgetts: So yes, we’re seeing growth in that side and we’re seeing, of course, some products like our Event Manager becoming obsolete, and you move on. I think that’s the nature of the developer’s life, that eventually the primary act may include features that you made sure are no longer essential or necessary. We see a constantly changing mix, but overall about the same level.
Larry Jordan: When Ned was on, which was back when you were asleep given the fact that you’re, like, 18 hours ahead of us or such a matter, Ned was talking about the continuing evolution of camera technology. How does the rapid evolution of cameras and codecs and technology affect you as a developer? Does it make your life easier because you’ve got more products to develop or harder because support becomes just ridiculously tough?
Philip Hodgetts: It’s a little bit of a mixture of both. In some ways, the codec… the codec issues because if it’s just a Final Cut 10 to Final Cut 10 workflow or if it’s a Premiere to Premiere workflow, that’s fine. Where we have issues with evolving camera technologies is in the way that those apps deal with the media when they ingest it. Premiere Pro keeps it natively; Final Cut Pro 10 enlarges and re-wraps it as MOVs, keeping the audio and video untouched.
Philip Hodgetts: That means that in certain workflows you can have trouble with reconnecting to media because Final Cut Pro 10 doesn’t recognize the media in the same way that Premiere Pro does. So there are issues like that and, of course, every time another codec is introduced, it’s another complication in the workflow, it’s another possible place where it can all fall apart once again.
Larry Jordan: Let’s take a look at where it fell apart or didn’t fall apart. What are the highlights from 2014 that stick in your mind?
Philip Hodgetts: From the codec side, absolutely the slow introduction of H265, the high efficiency video codec that will slowly replace H264. I think this is the year we’ll start to see our regular tools support H265 and, although it’s going to be a slow transition to that more efficient codec which is roughly the same quality at half the bandwidth or twice the quality at the same bandwidth, in the short term it’s simply going to mean more work for everybody because you’ll have to do two version, one for the H264 legacy and one for the H265 incoming. These things always complicate the workflow in the short term, even though the long term benefit may be there.
Larry Jordan: Ok, switching gears, what do you see in 2015 that’s a trend to watch?
Philip Hodgetts: Definitely more use of metadata. Certainly workflows that are driven my metadata. We’re seeing a lot of that coming in. I’m, of course, interested in the content metadata still, the metadata that describes what’s in the video, not just the technical metadata which drives a lot of workflows right now. But we’ve seen an increasing use of metadata. I can go back five years and when I talked about metadata people said, “What?” and these days almost everybody is aware of what metadata is, even if they’re not actively using it themselves or it’s not automating their workflow as yet.
Philip Hodgetts: But definitely the advent of more metadata based workflows is a trend that’s been coming and it’s going to increase in 2015 and beyond.
Larry Jordan: To me, it seems like there’s a trend toward complexity in our industry – things are becoming more complex – or people are trying to make things so simple that a simple tool is no longer useful. Would you agree?
Philip Hodgetts: Yes, largely. Brian Maffitt at a… Media Motion ball a couple of years back put up a slide that said how complex our life was in… We had PAL, we had NTSC and two or three tape formats and that was it, whereas now we have 4ADP, 720, 1080, ultra HD. We have more frame rates. You couldn’t put 24 frames per second on a tape without wrapping it as 2997. Now we can go either way. So yes, I agree. That is the nature of ecosystems, to get more and more complex until the point where they collapse into simplicity again.
Larry Jordan: So is the industry changing faster than professionals can keep up? Is this going to just freeze the average user into not making a decision?
Philip Hodgetts: That’s very true. When you know that Blackmagic is going to update Resolve or a piece of hardware or their camera in 12 months, it’s very hard to fall in love with what they’re offering now because you’re aware that very quickly it’s going to become something that’s no longer current, the knowledge you put into it is going to become obsolete. So yes, it does make it much more difficult for people to decide to take the plunge and commit to a particular camera or workflow. What we really, really need to do is to get rid of this idea of a snowflake workflow, where every workflow is unique.
Philip Hodgetts: In an ideal world, we would have two or three standardized workflows that everyone was familiar with, these are the way we do things. Back in the old days, back in the offline/online days, the early days of Media Composer, this was well known. These were known workflows, but now almost every project has to start with, “Well, what are we starting with? What do we need to work within the editorial phase and what are we going to deliver?” and it gets increasingly complex and really good productions start with their workflows long before they start shooting for, say, a feature film or a television series. Getting those workflows right is fundamentally important to peace of mind and getting the product out, and it would be nice if they were standardized.
Larry Jordan: I asked Michael Kammes the same question – are we likely to standardize? – and after he got done laughing he said standardization’s even more unreachable today than it was ten years ago, that so many people would be out of work if we actually standardized. He’s thinking that we’re in custom workflows for a long time to come. Sounds like you tend to agree.
Philip Hodgetts: I do tend to agree. That would be my fantasy, that we don’t have custom workflows for too much longer. The reality is I think it’s just going to get more and more complicated and more and more variable. It means that people like Michael, who can advise clients on those workflows and the tools that they might need, become even more important, not so much for getting the hardware working, as was the role of value added reseller five and ten years ago, but now just to get the workflows as smooth as they can be with the fewest steps and to make everybody’s life happier. But you’re not going to get one workflow that suits everybody, unfortunately.
Larry Jordan: Well, it all comes down to people, which reminds me of Jonathan Handel, who’s the entertainment labor reporter for The Hollywood Reporter. Hello, Jonathan.
Jonathan Handel: Hey, Larry, happy New Year.
Larry Jordan: And a very happy New Year to you as well. Philip is saying that life is becoming more not less complex, which means we’re going to need more and more people to do the jobs. Would you tend to agree with that basic assessment?
Jonathan Handel: I think that’s right. You were just talking about workflows and, as workflows continue to become more complex, people are going to need to be more trained and more versatile in adapting their skills as new technologies come online.
Larry Jordan: Philip, you mentioned at the beginning of your segment that you had a question for Jonathan. Can you work it in now?
Philip Hodgetts: I do, yes, and this is a perfect segue from what Jonathan just said, in that do you see the guilds pushing their members into learning and adopting and are they providing the learning resources that their members need?
Jonathan Handel: I think that’s an area that the guilds do include within their purviews, but they could probably do more in that area. There isn’t a lot of intensive training from some of the guilds, though it does vary. I think the Animation Guild, at least for a time but I don’t know currently what they’re doing…
Larry Jordan: Hold it one second, Jonathan. I’ve got to say goodbye to Philip because we’ve got to squeeze an ad in. Philip, you travel safely back from Australia. Jonathan, I’m going to bring you back after an ad. Stay with us.
Larry Jordan: When you’re working with media, one thing is essential – your computer needs peak performance. However, when it comes to upgrading your Mac, there are so many different options to choose from that the process can be confusing. That’s why Other World Computing carries the best upgrades that let your computer performance and storage grow as your needs grow.
Larry Jordan: Since 1988, OWC has become one of the most trusted names in quality hardware and comprehensive support to the worldwide computer industry. With an extensive online catalog of Mac, iPhone and iPad enhancement products, as well as a dedicated team of knowledgeable experts providing first rate tech support, OWC has everything you need to take your current system to the next level. Whether you need to maximize your system’s memory, add blazing speed or enhance reliability, look no further than the friendly experts at OWC. Learn more by visiting macsales.com. That’s macsales.com.
Larry Jordan: Jonathan, when last we left, we were beginning to talk about whether the guilds are going to start to train their members and you were in mid-speech and I had to cut you off. Let’s pick up where you left off.
Jonathan Handel: Not a problem. I think that more and more resilient training, if I could put it that way, is something that the guilds would do well to focus on. I don’t want to paint with a broad brush, I think some of the guilds and below the line unions, the various IA locals, have training of various sorts, others don’t.
Jonathan Handel: But we saw the importance of being resilient this past year in several rather difficult ways, actually. One of those was at Sony. Talk about workflows that were disrupted, the entire company’s workflow was disrupted and morale was obviously very much affected by the Sony hack. The importance, whether you’re working in a small work group, a small production company, entity or team or a larger one, of relationships with your people can’t be underestimated.
Larry Jordan: One thing that Cirina said during her segment is that she thinks there’s a trend now for the unions to get stronger because we’re starting to see that paying the lowest price for talent is not a recipe for success. Are you seeing a chance for unions to strengthen their hand next year?
Jonathan Handel: Well, that’s hard to know. The one big union contract that’s coming up is the IA’s contract, the IATSE basic agreement, and if history is a guide it will follow more or less in pattern and one of the questions will be will they get streaming video residuals? The above the line unions achieved that in the 2013 and 2014 negotiating cycle, but whether the IA will is a harder question for two reasons.
Jonathan Handel: First of all, they wouldn’t get the residuals for their individual members anyway, as residuals just go to the pension and health fund; but secondly, the degree to which IA participates in residuals, if you do a chart of it which, as you know, I’ve done, is a very spotty matter in many places. Many situations or scenarios where the above the lines get residuals, the IA doesn’t.
Larry Jordan: Let’s take a look at a couple of other big picture issues. How about diversity? What’s your hold for diversity?
Jonathan Handel: Diversity is something that both the UCLA and the unions have done continuing studies on and the industry as a whole has a very poor record when it comes to diversity. There has been very little progress in integrating women and people of color, both in front of the camera and behind the camera, relatively little progress with LGBT people as well, although there are certainly more and more actors who do feel comfortable coming out; and it’s an area, particularly with regard to women and people of color, that really needs to be thought about.
Jonathan Handel: You put together a team or a cast frequently from people that you know and that’s the natural thing, but we tend to form friendship and social groups many times along not so racially diverse or even necessarily gender diverse lines and it’s resulted in an industry that thinks of itself as very progressive but in fact is further behind the curve than a lot of American industries are.
Larry Jordan: Ok, let’s take a look at the fact that OSHA has set some new regulations down which affect all of us. What are those?
Jonathan Handel: Well, the regs require that any injury that results in a hospitalization be reported to OSHA. Now, this actually does not affect those of us in California because California is one of the states that already required that and California has its own state level CAL-OSHA agency. But states that rely on the Federal regs like New York, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Florida, major production centers, that is a change.
Jonathan Handel: The rules previously were a little bit looser on that and there has been criticism from OSHA that this industry cuts corners. We saw what is allegedly a terrible example of that in the Midnight Rider situation in Georgia, where Sarah Jones, a camera assistant, was struck by debris from a set that they’d set up on train tracks, allegedly without permission from the railroad, and she was killed. There is a criminal case that is pending and is going to be heard in March on that.
Larry Jordan: Well, Jonathan, there’s a ton more stuff we have to talk about – there’s guild agreements coming up, IATSE coming up, we’ve got reality TV which is driving WJ East nuts, but I’m going to be out of time today. We’re just going to have to invite you back to talk about these in the future.
Jonathan Handel: That’ll be my pleasure.
Larry Jordan: You have yourself a wonderful New Year. We’ll talk to you soon.
Jonathan Handel: Thank you. Happy New Year again.
Larry Jordan: And you too. You know, Cirina, as I was listening to all this stuff, it’s been an amazing year in our industry and it sounds like it’s going to be an amazing year in 2015.
Cirina Catania: It really is, it really is, and there’s so much. I wish we had a two hour show because we’ve barely scratched the surface.
Larry Jordan: Well, what are you looking at for guests? You told me before that you want to hire people that are making business and hiring decisions. What else are you looking for for this year for the show?
Cirina Catania: You know what I’m really looking forward to is video, video on The Buzz. I want to see these faces.
Larry Jordan: We do too and one of these weeks we’ll get that to work.
Cirina Catania: Yes, I’m trying to wrangle Paul [BATT] because I think he’s actually a neighbor of your new studio.
Larry Jordan: He is indeed.
Cirina Catania: Yes, I’d love to have Paul on. I haven’t heard yet because it’s been the holidays but hoping to have him maybe next week. There are a lot of good people in the rings. I’d like to start hearing from the different unions. Listening to Jonathan, I started thinking about all of the mentors that are available with the various unions that we all belong to. I know in the Producer’s Guild we have the Produced By conference and we have a mentor system there…
Larry Jordan: And we’ll have to get them all in, but for right now we do need to wrap up. Are you going to CES?
Cirina Catania: I will be at CES, I will absolutely be at CES.
Larry Jordan: I’ll see you there and, Cirina, you take care. We’ll talk to you soon.
Cirina Catania: Happy New Year.
Larry Jordan: And you too. I want to thank our guests – Mike Horton, Cirina Catania, Ned, Soltz, Michael Kammes, Michele Yamazaki, Philip Hodgetts and Jonathan Handel, an incredible crew of regulars.
Larry Jordan: There’s lot of history in our industry. You can learn it all at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Music on The Buzz is provided by Smartsound, Text transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription. Our producer is Cirina Catania, our engineers are Brianna Murphy, Ed [GOLYER] and Megan Paulos. On behalf of Mike Horton, my name is Larry Jordan. Have yourself a very happy New Year and thanks for listening to the Digital Production 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 shuttterstock.com, a global marketplace for royalty free images and videos. With over two million royalty free HD and 4K video clips, Shutterstock helps you take your creative projects to the next level; and by Other World Computing, providing quality hardware solutions and extensive technical support to the worldwide computer industry since 1988.