Digital Production Buzz
January 8, 2015
[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]
(Click here to listen to this show.)
Boris Yamnitsky, Owner, BorisFX
Ross Shain, Chief Marketing Officer, Imagineer Systems
Philip Hodgetts, President, Intelligent Assistance
Voice Over: This 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 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.
Voice Over: Live from Ralph’s Maytag Museum and Podcast Studio in beautiful downtown Burbank, it’s the Digital Production Buzz! Production, post production distribution. 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. Hi, my name is Larry Jordan and joining us, finally, as our co-host is the well rested and affable Mr. Mike Horton.
Mike Horton: That’s a new intro, isn’t it?
Larry Jordan: It is.
Mike Horton: How long did you work on that? That was like a one take thing.
Larry Jordan: The cool thing about the intro is the video that goes with it…
Mike Horton: Is there a video that goes with it?
Larry Jordan: There’s amazing video that goes with it.
Mike Horton: Oh, I can’t wait to see it! That was awesome.
Larry Jordan: We here in our new studios…
Mike Horton: I know, it’s just so beautiful.
Larry Jordan: …and testing all the cameras. The one small piece that we will be working on next week is streaming. Nobody can see it except us, but boy, does it look cool!
Mike Horton: It looks awesome! Really, trust me, it’s going to look beautiful. We got great lighting, we got great audio; it’s going to be fantastic.
Larry Jordan: And we’ve got a great co-host. How were the elephant seals by the way?
Mike Horton: It was awesome. I mean it’s been what, how many years have we been doing this and I go up every single year to see the elephant seals. They’re still there, they’re still multiplying and there’s lots more.
Larry Jordan: Do they remember you?
Mike Horton: They do. This year I didn’t take very many pictures.
Larry Jordan: Less than 50.
Mike Horton: Yes, well, I do have 10,000 of them, so I don’t know if I’m taking pictures of the same seals or just getting older. I show it to them every once in a while.
Larry Jordan: Time lapse of elephant seals!
Mike Horton: Oh my God, my nose!
Larry Jordan: We’ve got a great show today. We’re going to start with Boris Yamnitsky, founder and president of Boris FX.
Mike Horton: I love Boris!
Larry Jordan: Just before the holidays…
Mike Horton: I know.
Larry Jordan: Boris FX announced that they had acquired Imagineer Systems, the maker of Academy Award-winning Mocha and Mocha Pro. This week we learn what went into that decision.
Mike Horton: I hope we get to talk to Ross.
Larry Jordan: Well, you know, Ross Shain we’re going to be talking to as well…
Mike Horton: Oh, we are?
Larry Jordan: Yes, we’re going to talk to Ross and then we’re going to wrap up with Philip Hodgetts, the CEO of Intelligent Assistance. This week Philip is going to explain what production gear he takes on location as he managed his media and meditating.
Mike Horton: Do you know what I’d take?
Larry Jordan: What do you think?
Mike Horton: iPhone.
Larry Jordan: iPhone? I think he’s got podcasters.
Mike Horton: Padcaster?
Larry Jordan: Well, whatever it is…
Mike Horton: No, no, no he doesn’t! Well, we’ll talk about it.
Larry Jordan: His entire production kit fits in a carry-on bag. It’s really v. depressing, when you think about it.
Mike Horton: Mine fits in my pocket. So I’d have him beat.
Larry Jordan: By the way, just as 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 and learn more at Take1.tv and thanks, Take 1, for making it possible.
Mike Horton: By the way, you know, it’s really cool, because now that we’re taping this stuff if I look at my computer I look really professional.
Larry Jordan: Not only do you look professional, but if you were any better lit people would think you were a male model! I tell you the halo, the backlight, it’s just…!
Mike Horton: And my flyaway hair.
Larry Jordan: The thing I like best is that purple lame suit that you’ve got. I’ve never seen…
Mike Horton: I was told not to wear white.
Larry Jordan: And you did a wonderful job.
Mike Horton: And I wore a clean t-shirt, I did! Next week it’s going to be awesome, Larry!
Larry Jordan: It’s going to be so cool. We are so excited. Remember to visit with us on Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com. We’re on Twitter @DPBuZZ and subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com for an inside look at both our show and the industry. We’ll be right back with Boris Yamnitsky and Boris FX right after this.
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Larry Jordan: Boris Yamnitsky is the founder and president of Boston-based Boris FX. The company creates effects and graphics tools for the video post production and broadcast industries. He’s been programming cool software in our industry since the early 1990s, and it’s always nice to say welcome back, Boris. Good to have you with us.
Boris Yamnitsky: Oh thank you, Larry! Very good to be here.
Larry Jordan: Well, it’s always fun chatting with you, so both Mike and I are looking forward to our visit, but just sort of set the scene. Tell us what Boris FX does.
Boris Yamnitsky: Well, we are the visual effects specialist. We have been doing visual effects since the mid-‘90s, specializing in 3D and image restoration, you know, general visual effects for non-linear video systems, compositing, and what have you.
Larry Jordan: Why did you decide to start Boris FX? Because you were successfully working for other companies before that.
Boris Yamnitsky: Yes. Well, you know, I’ve always been a software entrepreneur in my heart and this is something that I always wanted to do, and I’ve been doing this for the past 20 years and it’s something that I really enjoy so much.
Larry Jordan: So one more background question, tell us what some of your popular products are, and we’re going to talk about the Imagineer acquisition in a minute.
Barry Yamnitsky: Sure, yes. Our most popular product today is Boris Continuum Complete.
Mike Horton: And I use it, everybody uses it.
Boris Yamnitsky: It’s used for visual effects for about every editing system out there and compositing solutions with work with effects, and we specialize in a very wide range of effects, anywhere from simple glowers and globes and lights and what have you, all the way to very sophisticated image restoration, 3D extrusion, motion graphics design, these types of things.
Mike Horton: Boris, this is Michael Horton. I use your products, as does everybody, at least that I know, are you the head programmer? Do you do most of the work or do you have a large team that does most of the work, and you just administrate?
Boris Yamnitsky: I can’t take credit for all the programming that’s going on in the company, but I do my share, and I’ve always enjoyed engineering and I’m a digital scientist by training so technology is always something that fascinates me, and not only am I managing technology, not only acquiring technology, not only selling technology, but actually developing technology, and reading the papers, digging into different algorithms…
Mike Horton: That’s the question that I get asked all the time when I say I know Boris, and when they always ask me was he the guy who really actually builds the products I go, yes!
Boris Yamnitsky: The range of products that I ship in 1995 – MacWorld 1995 in Boston, I got best in show. I coded this program from start to finish. I didn’t have anyone working with me, programming at the time.
Larry Jordan: Well, that’s changed a lot over the last 20 years.
Boris Yamnitsky: It has!
Michael Horton: The boy isn’t everything!
Boris Yamnitsky: And I am so fortunate, and I really would like to thank all the engineers and other talented people that work in my company or have worked in my company in the past and have since moved on to Apple, Avid, Adobe. Just about every single company in the industry employs my former teammates.
Larry Jordan: Which means that Boris knows everybody in the industry! They all started at Boris…
Boris Yamnitsky: I have a lot of friends. I’m very fortunate to have a lot of friends. This is one of the pleasures and one of the benefits of being in this industry. I love the industry because it just has such wonderful people around me.
Larry Jordan: Well, that gets us to the most recent announcement from you guys. On December 17th, you announced that Boris FX had acquired Imagineer Systems. Why the acquisition?
Boris Yamnitsky: Well yes. To me it really feels like an absolute no-brainer, just a natural… I’ve always been very interested in rotoscoping and motion tracking as a very integral part of VFX creation. You can’t really do significant VFX work without isolating areas of the image and tracking it and being intelligent about it. So Imagineer is a great computer vision company. Their product is so unique and so deep, it’s what I call rocket science: something that’s very hard to do, something that no-one else has done in this industry, and I’ve always wanted to work with them in some capacity. About a year ago we started to talk together, and we think that the best way to go is just to merge the two companies, so that’s how it happened.
Larry Jordan: Well, the very first question that everybody is wondering is what happens to the guys at Imagineer?
Boris Yamnitsky: Ah, well, pretty much no deep change except they will take advantage of maybe a slightly larger and supportive team on our end. We give priority to R&D, and they have product specialists and product managers, marketing, sales are all intact. The interesting part is that we are very much a brick and mortar company. We’ve always had a large office in Boston, and pretty much most people work out of the office. They’re much more a virtual company. They employ people all around the globe, and it’s a great synergy because now they can take advantage of people like here in Los Angeles or Australia or New York, you know, places where, in the past, we actually had to travel to get to meet with our customers, now we will be very well presented in these locations.
Larry Jordan: Will Imagineer continue to be a separate company, or will they be just integrated into Boris?
Boris Yamnitsky: it is, yes. It is actually a UK company, and it continues to operate independently, as a UK company that is a subsidiary of Boris FX.
Larry Jordan: Oh, okay. Is Mocha, then, going to remain a standalone product, or is it going to get totally absorbed within the other Boris FX programs?
Boris Yamnitsky: Well, I’m dying to spill all the news, and I know that I shouldn’t, so!
Mike Horton: Oh, come on, nobody’s listening! Nobody’s listening, just go ahead and do it!
Boris Yamnitsky: I know that!
Mike Horton: I know that!
Boris Yamnitsky: So if I get over-enthusiastic please stop me, okay?
Mike Horton: Okay.
Boris Yamnitsky: But anyway, more will definitely be much more integrated with the systems that will work with. Yes, today it’s essentially a standalone program that has import/export capabilities with Adobe, with some other systems. Our aim is to make it as well integrated as the Boris products, so I can probably tell this much. But also, you see, Boris products will take advantage of the unique motion tracking that Mocha is famous for. It’s a two way collaboration, two way integration.
Larry Jordan: Well, Boris has had motion tracking in most of its plug-ins since forever.
Boris Yamnitsky: That’s true.
Larry Jordan: So are we looking at replacing one with the other or are you thinking that it’s going to be a combination?
Boris Yamnitsky: It’s most likely going to be a combination, but Mocha tracking is so far ahead of any tracker out there in the industry, including, you know, Boris FX planar tracker, that the technology that is built there will be use throughout our product line, there’s no question about that, it’s far superior.
Larry Jordan: Should existing users of Mocha be concerned?
Boris Yamnitsky: No! No, they will definitely just simply get more features, I can promise this much. They’ll get more and more build into Mocha with every subsequent release.
Larry Jordan: But you’re not going to tell us about all the new features you’re planning, are you?
Boris Yamnitsky: You have to come and visit us at NAB in only a few months, and please come to our booth and there you’ll have the full view of what’s going on.
Mike Horton: I would love to be in the conversation.
Boris Yamnitsky: We just accomplished the acquisition, so it’s a little too early to tell exactly what we’re going to be showing.
Mike Horton: I’d love to be in the conversations you’re having with the Mocha team!
Boris Yamnitsky: (laughing)
Mike Horton: You know what, I think you ought to do that. No, we’ve already done it, Boris!
Larry Jordan: Well, you know, I was just reflecting. You mentioned at the beginning of the segment that your most popular package is Boris Continuum Complete. If we exclude all the exciting news about Mocha, what’s new with Continuum Complete?
Boris Yamnitsky: Well, yes, alright. We have recently released Boris Continuum Complete 9, which is another major release of the product, and there are many new features in it, including very, very significant image restoration techniques: image sharpening, some … In terms of transitions, you know, lots of new VFX filters, so you know, that was a pretty big step. Plus, of course, we introduced a library browser, which allow you to browse all the pre-sets quickly, select effects from the graphical interface. So that was a pretty welcome addition to the product.
Mike Horton: Speaking of that, where did you get that idea? Did you get it in the shower or did you get it from the users? Because that was a brilliant idea.
Boris Yamnitsky: Well, let me tell you this. Boris FX, in 1995, started with this concept of just throwing a lot of pre-sets into an NLE system such as Adobe Premier or Video 100, because we were coming from hardware feature effects world into the software, and the great thing about software is that you can actually quickly save all your work, very quickly save all your creations on your computer. So, to take advantage of that we introduced the pre-set console, and the very first version of the Boris FX had the pre-sets feature built into it. We have graphical interfaces for pre-sets for several generations of programs before. Boris RED has a graphical user interface and other programs always have this browsers of thumbnails for styles and animations and pre-sets. So the idea is not quite new, but the latest implementation was actually very nice, very significant.
Larry Jordan: One of the interesting times of the year that we’re living in as we move from last year and this year with New Years it gives us a chance to look back and look forward. Last week we invited all of our key regulars on the show to talk about what the highlights were from 2014, and what they’re looking forward to for 2015. If you wear your effects creator hat, what were some of the highlights of 2014? Was it hardware, was it software? Was it new trends in effects? And I’m going to ask you the same thing looking forward to 2015, what are you looking forward to?
Boris Yamnitsky: Yes. 2014, well, first we saw a big move into high resolution video which, for us, always means better quality visual effects and, actually, it’s supporting the high resolution such as 4K and, as you know, Avid has just released their 4K workflow, which we are very excited about.
Mike Horton: Finally!
Boris Yamnitsky: Yes! Absolutely, and so for us this was a major move, major step. It’s a very exciting direction. But for 2015, you know, we just started. I really have to see what’s going on this year.
Larry Jordan: That’s true, but what are you thinking that the big changes that are going to affect effects? Is it going to be in software, is it going to be hardware? Is it going to be GPU support, greater GPU support? What trends are you keeping your eye on?
Boris Yamnitsky: It’s definitely a race to the GPU, to the graphics card with every piece of software we deal with today and we are no exception. There is a new OpenCL standard that’s moving, that is pretty much becoming the platform for the cross-platform acceleration, hardware acceleration, and the benefit of that is that it actually is cross-platform, including NVIDIA, ATI, even Intel graphics, so it is a very significant platform.
Michael Horton: Oh wow! Did you know that, Larry?
Larry Jordan: No.
Michael Horton: I didn’t know that, either. What is that?
Boris Yamnitsky: OpenCL, that’s open to air acronym, yes. We had OpenGL, OpenCL, Open whatever!
Mike Horton: All these acronyms!
Larry Jordan: Another debate that’s been going on, I get email from a variety of different effects companies and there’s two sides to creating effects. One is node-based effects, similar to what AutoDesk does and there are others which are slider-based, for the lack of a better term, which is similar to what Continuum Complete is. Is there a significant advantage of one interface over the other from an effects creation point of view?
Boris Yamnitsky: Yes. These are just two different ways to think about visual effects and, you know, maybe a slightly more complicated way is the graph-based approach, which you really have to wrap your head around it and maybe a more approachable VFX solution is just to use simple sliders and colour chips that do the magic. So there is no right or wrong here, these are just two different approaches.
Larry Jordan: Have you done any tests with some of your products to switch to a node based compositing engine?
Boris Yamnitsky: Yes, we actually recently started to work with systems such as Da Vinci Resolve or Eyeon, now Black Magic Fusion, which are all node based compositors and it’s a different way to create VFX. It could be very powerful, there’s no question about that, it’s definitely something that a lot of people do fantastic work with.
Mike Horton: Yes, except for us who don’t understand node-based!
Larry Jordan: We’ll spell it out in words of one syllable.
Mike Horton: I don’t understand. I’ll never get it. I never will get it!
Larry Jordan: Boris, one note on our live chat. Eric is asking, he wants to know how the merger of Imagineer with Boris FX will affect plug-ins by CoreMelt, who use Mocha for their tracking product.
Mike Horton: Yes, good question!
Larry Jordan: How are they affected?
Boris Yamnitsky: I do not foresee any change here. You know, Roger has done a fantastic job of bringing Mocha into Final Cut X, and it’s bringing it to us. I’m very inspired with what he has done. You know, his integration is so deep and so sophisticated. My hat is off to him for the amount of work that he has done.
There’s no change. Mocha technology is bundled and made available to a very wide range of systems and products out there, and you know, we’ll continue this tradition of just spreading Mocha around! Everyone could do with Mocha in their life! How’s that?
Larry Jordan: Boris, for people that want to learn more about the products that you offer, where can they go on the web?
Boris Yamnitsky: www.borisfx.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s borisfx.com. Boris Yamnitsky is the founder of Boris FX and, Boris, what we’re going to do in the next segment is we’re going to talk to Ross Shain with Imagineer Systems and get their perspective on this, too. Thank you so very much for joining us, and we wish you all success in 2015.
Boris Yamnitsky: Larry and Michael, thank you very much.
Mike Horton: Yes, see you soon, Boris!
Larry Jordan: Always our pleasure. We’ll talk to you soon. Bye-bye.
Boris Yamnitsky: Yes, bye-bye.
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Larry Jordan: Ross Shain is the Chief Marketing Officer of Imagineer Systems, the creators of Mocha, the industry unique planar tracking visual effects technology that we spent the entire last segment talking about. They’re also now part of the Boris FX team and we want to learn more about what that means to Imagineer. Hello, Ross, welcome!
Ross Shain: Hey, Larry, how are you?
Larry Jordan: We are doing great.
Mike Horton: You didn’t even say that Ross is an Academy Award winner.
Ross Shain: Ah, stop!
Mike Horton: No, it wasn’t even in there. You’re an Academy Award winner and proud of it! You can put it on your business card. You can meet girls that way.
Ross Shain: Yes, my wife would love that!
Larry Jordan: I should mention, Michael, in case you didn’t know, that Mocha won an Academy Award.
Mike Horton: Yes, I know.
Larry Jordan: Oh, did you?
Mike Horton: You have that in the bio!
Larry Jordan: I will end there.
Mike Horton: It was Ross’s fault. He sends the bio and he’s very, very humble. He doesn’t want anybody to know that he was an Academy Award winner.
Larry Jordan: Alright! Academy Award winning software.
Mike Horton: Okay.
Larry Jordan: Okay, it’s now in the permanent record and we will use it. Except, Ross, are you still employed?
Mike Horton: Yes!
Ross Shain: I am still employed. In fact, I guess you could say that my official new title is Chief Marketing Officer of both Imagineer Systems and Boris FX.
Mike Horton: Really?
Larry Jordan: No way! Congratulations!
Mike Horton: Whoa, that’s like twice as much work.
Ross Shain: Yes, thanks. So well, you know, I was listening to the Boris section of the interview and I know there’s some question, ‘Oh, what’s going to happen to the Imagineer team?’ and beyond everyone keeping their jobs, you know, now I’m going to be going up to Boston a bit more.
Larry Jordan: And where are you based now?
Ross Shain: I’m based in New York so it’s actually not such a bad commute.
Larry Jordan: No, you can take the train; that would be wonderful.
Ross Shain: Yes. I actually live about three hours away, so I plan to be up there pretty regularly.
Mike Horton: They do have a bus with Wi-Fi!
Ross Shain: Yes, there you go!
Mike Horton: They do!
Larry Jordan: So why did you guys decide to join Boris FX? What’s in it for you besides incredible wealth and all that sort of stuff, but why?
Ross Shain: Well, Imagineer, you know, we’ve been profitable for a long time at this point. We’ve built a steady … following and, as Boris mentioned, our technology has been not only honoured but also licensed to many different hosts in the industry. But there’s still more that we wanted to do, and when we were looking around at various companies that we wanted to work with, and once we actually started talking to Boris and getting to know him as a person and getting to know his team, it just seemed like we both really had the same vision, which is make the best tools that we could and support all the hosts out there. As we got deeper into not only the people and the team, but the actual tools in all the systems that Boris FX supports so well, and how deep the Boris Continuum Complete actually goes, we started saying well, you know, it would be so great if we did this and so great if we did this. Finally it started to make sense that maybe we could merge the two companies together.
Larry Jordan: You know, I was just reflecting. I mean you guys have developed Mocha from scratch. What does the additional that Boris FX provides get you? Is it more engineering people, is it more features? What’s the benefit?
Ross Shain: There’s a lot of great benefits for us. For one, at Imagineer Systems we’re kind of like a virtual company even though we’re based just outside of London in the UK, we have people around the world and Boris has a dedicated office with a support staff and we’re actually quite well known within our relatively small user base as far as providing very good support, but what this gives us is sort of like a grounded place. Our customer base is going to be better supported by sort of like a home base, but beyond that there’s a lot of technical resources that we’re going to be able to take advantage of. So not only the wide host support that Boris has done, whether it’s supporting hosts that we’re not on yet, like they’re very deeply ingrained into the Avid technology market, or into Resolve, for that matter, or their support for Final Cut and their support for Premier. So not only the hosts, but if you dig deep into the Boris filters and image restoration filters and things like that, there’s actually a lot of technology that will go really well into Mocha. Our customers have asked us for … for a long time.
Larry Jordan: Really?
Ross Shain: Our customers have asked us for grain management for a long time. Our customers would like to do warping within Mocha, so there’s actually a lot of great technology that we think we can put into Mocha and vice versa, put our technology into Continuum Complete and the Boris tools.
Mike Horton: Did this happen because of your instigation or was it a random meeting at a subway with Boris, or what?
Ross Shain: It was a little of both. I mean I think that our team was sort of in a situation that we wanted to continue and we wanted to grow, but we did not want to get usurped by a huge company. You know, I’ve been in this industry for quite a long time and when I worked for Avid in the mid-‘90s, they were on an acquisition spree at one point and, as we all know, a lot of times these acquisitions don’t work well. The history of successful acquisitions and mergers in the video software anyways is not so great. There’s been a lot of great tools that have been bought and then killed, and that was definitely one of my main concerns is that, you know, I really like the product that we’ve made and really the team that I’m working with. So we want to work with a partner who was going tor respect that and keep our team together so we could continue on the mission of just making the product as good as possible.
Larry Jordan: Sorry, Mike and I were both taking notes on that last statement! It took us a while.
Mike Horton: I’m actually at the CoreMelt site.
Larry Jordan: You know, we asked Boris the same thing, is this going to affect partners like CoreMelt? Does CoreMelt need to start worrying?
Ross Shain: No, not at all, not at all. I mean again, our vision is really to try to expose the Mocha technology to as many users as possible and part of our business is licensing to Adobe, licensing to Silhouette, licensing to Quantel, licensing to CoreMelt, and I really don’t see that changing. You know, we have built a successful business with Mocha as a standalone tool, and we’re not going to alienate those customers. It’s definitely very important for people to know that we’re very committed to continuing Mocha as a standalone product as well as still working with all our licensed partners.
Larry Jordan: We couldn’t get Boris to answer this question!
Mike Horton: So let’s get Ross to answer it.
Larry Jordan: We’re going to ask you because, you know, you don’t have the same restrictions as he has. What’s the next set of features that we should expect, and when are you going to ship, and how much are they going to cost?
Mike Horton: Yes, Ross, tell us!
Ross Shain: Yes, like Boris says, it is quite early to get too far into it. You know, there are a lot things that we want to accomplish and we certainly will be showing things at NAB, but it’s fair to early to say ‘there’s going to be this particular product at this particular price.’ But, as I mentioned, the Imagineer team is certainly licking our lips looking at a lot of the Boris technology, because we know that our customers would love it, and I think that vice versa, so it seems to me like a no-brainer to put our planar tracking into many of the Boris tools.
Mike Horton: But again you guys will be a separate company, you’ll retain the name, you’ll retain the company that we all know and love, correct?
Ross Shain: Yes, absolutely. I mean I think what’s interesting is that both companies, Boris FX and Imagineer Systems have built a good name for themselves in various markets. Boris FX is super well known and respected in the Avid market, and Imagineer Systems is quite well known in a totally different market, which is like Nuke compositors and After Effects compositors and motion designers and people working in the feature film visual effects, which is quite different than broadcast editorial. So, definitely I think you’ll see both companies get closer together, but there’ll still be separate websites and we still have separate teams working on various products.
Larry Jordan: That’s very cool. Ross, for people that want to learn more about what Mocha is able to do today, where can they go on the web to learn more?
Ross Shain: Sure, they can go imagineersystems.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, imagineersystems.com. Ross Shain is the Chief Marketing Officer for Imagineer Systems and Boris FX. Ross, thanks for joining us today.
Ross Shain: Hey, guys, happy New Year to you both!
Larry Jordan: Yes, and you too. Take care.
Mike Horton: Good move, Ross!
Ross Shain: Okay. Thanks, guys.
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Larry Jordan: Philip Hodgetts is the CEO of Intelligent Assistance and involved in the technology of virtually every area of digital video. He’s also a regular contributor to The Buzz and he is far, far away. As always, Philip, welcome! Good to have you back.
Mike Horton: And he’s far, far away!
Larry Jordan: Oh, we don’t have Philip yet? Alright, well, we’re going to talk to Philp.
Mike Horton: By the way, did you know there’s a lot of fires down there in Australia?
Larry Jordan: Well, you know, where he is?
Mike Horton: Philip could be in a fire.
Larry Jordan: He could be. He is currently hiding in Tasmania.
Mike Horton: Oh, he is in Tasmania?
Larry Jordan: He’s doing some private production with…
Mike Horton: I always thought Tasmania was sort of part of mythology that actually doesn’t exist.
Larry Jordan: So we got to…
Mike Horton: Then maybe it doesn’t exist, which is why we don’t have Philip online!
Larry Jordan: Well, we’re trying to track him down. It may be that we’re going to have to string an extra cable from Sydney to Tasmania! Tasmania is, by the way, just in case you were wondering, is an island off the coast.
Mike Horton: I know where Tasmania is, I know my geography.
Larry Jordan: So wait, wait, wait! You know where Tasmania is?
Mike Horton: Yes, I do. It’s just like near Australia. It’s a big island. You have to take like a ferry to it or something.
Larry Jordan: We’re going to get Philip to see if your information is correct.
Mike Horton: Well, if we don’t have Philip yet, I still wanted to ask you all these questions. You were at CES, right?
Larry Jordan: I was. And we will talk about it in just a minute, but first…
Mike Horton: But we do have Philip online.
Larry Jordan: Hello Philip, are you with us?
Philip Hodgetts; I think I am.
Larry Jordan: Ah, there is the voice that I recognise, speaking with an Australian accent.
Mike Horton: He does, he sounds like he’s in the Barrier Reef.
Larry Jordan: Or underwater! How are you, Philip? Where are you?
Philip Hodgetts: I am in Tasmania for my family reunion, which happens every four years but I haven’t been here for 12.
Mike Horton: So you’re having a family reunion at the Great Barrier Reef underwater?
Philip Hodgetts: The weather would be so much better there! It would be so much better at the Great Barrier Reef!
Larry Jordan: So what we to find out, Philip, is you are, as we understand it, you are shooting a personal project with enough equipment that could fit in a carry-on bag. What gear did you bring, and how did you manage to get it to be that small?
Philip Hodgetts: Well, the important thing to realise is that you have to tailor your kit to the job that you’re trying to do. So my kit wouldn’t necessarily work if I was perhaps doing a TV show or something very significant, but for the sort of interviews and general colour that I wanted for this project, which is essentially a family history project. Some of my relatives are getting a little bit advanced in years and I want to make sure that their memories are recorded for posterity while they can be. So I tailored my kit for that very specific purpose, and because I set myself the goal of putting it in one over the shoulder carry-on bag plus tripod. I couldn’t get the tripod on my carry-on bag.
Philip Hodgetts: What I learnt fairly recently when I did a little mental swap with Dave Basulto, I told him the benefits of Lumberjack in Final Cut Pro X, and he showed me the joys of using IOS devices with an iOgrapher, a recorder. And I was desperately trying to justify a brand new A7, and then he goes and shows me how I can just use an iPad and an iOgrapher and I was like oh, darn, now I can’t justify that A7!
Mike Horton: Ah!
Larry Jordan: How sad!
Mike Horton: By the way, for those who do not know what the iOgrapher is, could you tell everybody really quickly what the iOgrapher is?
Philip Hodgetts: The iOgrapher is a family of clip on frames to go around your IOS device, in this case an iPad Air 2. Each can be mounted on a tripod and has a series of cold shoes on the top and, of course, at iographer.com you can find a whole bunch of accessories that fit in all sorts of different small … lights and microphones and cable adaptors, so that you can plug those into the iPad.
Mike Horton: Yes, and it comes in hot pink!
Philip Hodgetts: The ones I’ve got are black. Hot pink is not my best shade!
Mike Horton: Well no, I got one. I got one in hot pink! I gave it to my wife for Christmas.
Philip Hodgetts: You have?
Mike Horton: I do. Gave it to her for Christmas last year and she’s used it a couple of times.
Philip Hodgetts: Well, that must have been a special edition for her.
Mike Horton: I guess so.
Larry Jordan: Why did you pick iOgrapher? What was it that made that attractive to you?
Philip Hodgetts: It’s the combination of the iOgrapher for the iPad and a piece of software called Film It Pro means that I can actually use the iPad as a semi-professional camera. It gives me control over the zoom. That’s the software that gives me control over zoom, whereas the iOgrapher gives me the ability to mount it on a tripod and use it like a camera, or I can use it handheld, but I was using it on a tripod, and feed the audio from a microphone.
Philip Hodgetts: In my case I was actually recording second system audio, because I also had a second camera, because I was carrying my DSLR for still photography purposes and my NEX-7 makes a fairly decent video camera. I’d love to like it as a video camera, but it has the downside that it doesn’t always record for much more than ten or 12 minutes without overheating. Of course, in the weather in Tasmania, I’ve had no such overheating problems at all! Even though it is the middle of summer.
Mike Horton: Here’s a tip for you that a lot of my friends use. If you don’t want to carry or pay for extra baggage fees for tripods, carry a golf club bag. Put your tripods in the golf club and most airlines allow golf club bags to go and fly for free.
Philip Hodgetts: Well, that’s a darn good tip, isn’t it?
Mike Horton: That is a darn good tip.
Philip Hodgetts: The tripod I got is one that is a Manfrotto available at iographer.com and it’s only about 15 inches high when it collapses down, but I can put the camera up to above my own head height.
Mike Horton: Oh, that’s even a better tip. I like that one too.
Philip Hodgetts: I did shoot that one through my check through baggage, but I just carry it over my shoulder with the shoulder bag when I’m going out shooting. And that’s a very powerful combination and, of course, combining with the iPhone, where I was running a Lumberjack iOS modder on my iPhone so I was logging my interviews as I went so that when I come back and ingest it all into Final Cut Pro X I’m going to have completely logged material of my family interviews.
Larry Jordan: Okay, I want to talk about lumberjack in a second, but let’s go through the rest of your gear first. We got an iPad, which you’re using as a camera. You’re mounting it into the iOgrapher, which is a frame that holds things like lights and microphones. That’s then going on top of a tripod. Are you using external microphones and are you using external lights and, if so, what did you bring?
Philip Hodgetts: I did bring a Litepanels Croma with me, but I haven’t yet had the need to use it. Each time I’ve been able to set up in a way that gives me good images from the available light. The cameras in the iPads are remarkably good for what they are. They are a secondary use of the device, so they’re not something you would expect to be of great quality, but Apple to spend a lot of effort making better pixels in their cameras rather than just putting more and more pixels into the devices, so I’ve been quite happy with those results.
Philip Hodgetts: For audio, because I’m going to be using the two cameras, I’ve decided to use second system audio, so I have a Zoom H1, the small baby one that’s under $100, with a Technica microphone, the bell microphone. I have a radio mic with me, but I haven’t needed to use it because the iOgrapher and the very wide lens angle on the iPad means that I can get in quite close …
Philip Hodgetts: I intend to synchronise my audio and video together into a multiclick based on the audio, and in my experience it’s been that it does that very well. That’s pretty much my entire kit. I have the Croma for lighting, I have a second NEX-7, simply because I had that for my still photography use. I only ever shot one iOgrapher with one NEX-7 so far, and the H1 for audio, and that’s pretty much the basic kit.
Philip Hodgetts: I also have a gorilla pod for the NEX-7 to mount that with, so I have the option to mount that.
Mike Horton: Those things come in so handy, those Gorilla pods. They’re wonderful!
Philip Hodgetts: Aren’t they? Aren’t they brilliant? I packed it into my carry-on bag really easily.
Larry Jordan: Tell me what a gorilla pod is.
Philip Hodgetts: A gorilla pod is a little, like a knobbly legged tripod! Each of the knobs are like essentially a universal … You twist them and make them into a standard tripod or you can wrap it round the top bars of a chair or hang it over a door, all sorts of unique ways to mount a camera. This comes back to an experience of mine in 2012 of trying to get everything under a solar powered boat in the smallest amount of space…
Mike Horton: You’ve never seen those, Larry? You’ve never seen those gorilla pods?
Larry Jordan: Sure, but that doesn’t mean that everybody that’s listening knows what it is!
Mike Horton: Oh, so it’s one of those questions for everybody. That’s usually the questions that I ask.
Philip Hodgetts: Larry’s very good at asking me those questions, because I often forget that not everybody has seen the tools that I have, so I’m always glad when Larry pulls me up and says now explain that to people, because I do tend to run on sometimes!
Mike Horton: Well, actually, I want to ask Philip about Tasmanian devils, but I guess that doesn’t mean anything to the audience that is listening.
Philip Hodgetts: Michael, I think we should leave my family out of this call!
Larry Jordan: Philip, I have a question, just one more audio question, then I want to switch over to Lumberjack. With the Zoom H1 that you’re using, which is the small one, are you using the microphone on the Zoom and it’s just close enough that it picks up? I know you said you had an external microphone, but what I wasn’t clear on is whether you’re using a mic plugged into the Zoom, or the Zoom mic itself.
Philip Hodgetts: I am using a lapel microphone plugged into the Zoom and I’m positioning the lapel microphone in the standard location for an interview. I have found that they do work without that external microphone if you can get it close enough, but there’s still nothing really quite as good as getting a microphone really close to the source … all changes of room tone.
Larry Jordan: I agree totally, and a lapel mic is a good one for an interview. Do you remember what brand you’re using of lapel mic?
Philip Hodgetts: It’s a large Technica that was recommended to me by a guy who knows his stuff with audio, so I’m happy to take recommendations from folk who know their stuff. I don’t remember the model off the top of my head.
Mike Horton: And when you’re doing interviews with family who have never done this sort of thing before, is it difficult to get them to act naturally when you throw a lapel mic on them and maybe light them and tell them to put their chin up?
Philip Hodgetts: Yes! I have a couple of family members that have felt sufficiently uncomfortable that they’ve just given me a flat out no, and although I’d like to catch the interviews I don’t really feel that I want to make anyone so uncomfortable or push them into doing something they really don’t feel comfortable to do. One of my cousins has done some interviews for her workplace and she said, I went off sick I was so stressed if they were doing the interview. So I thought well, I like her, I don’t think I really want to put that sort of stress on one of my family, so I gave her a pass!
Mike Horton: Although, knowing your mom like I do, it would be very easy to put a microphone on her and she would go on forever!
Philip Hodgetts: Yes. The only real problems I’ve had with my aunts is that they’re not quite in the Facebook, Twitter world that I’m in and they were a little bit concerned that it might get out of the family. But this is a project for personal family use and so there’s no privacy issue for them to worry about.
Mike Horton: But I tell you, everybody should be doing what you’re doing, because we should all be asking questions of our family because we never do until it’s too late.
Philip Hodgetts: Exactly, and that’s really why I wanted to capture this point. It turns out I’m probably going to have to come back to the next family reunion to catch the rest of them, because I didn’t get as many people as I had hoped for this time round.
Mike Horton: I think you’re going to be well rewarded.
Larry Jordan: That’s a very true statement. We’ve been listening to some interviews that we recorded several years ago of people that aren’t with us anymore, and it’s fascinating just to hear their voice, much less the content. Suddenly you flash on all the memories just by hearing what they sound like.
Mike Horton: Yes.
Larry Jordan: Philip, you’re using a piece of software that I know your company developed called Lumberjack. Where does Lumberjack fit in, and how are you using it? What does it do?
Philip Hodgetts: Lumberjack system is a series of tools that work together so that you can log while you’re shooting, or set key word ranges, I suppose is more accurate, and then they get laid up against the media files once they’re ingested in the multicam files or, in my case, once they’re ingested and the multicam files are created.
Philip Hodgetts: What I’m using is the iOS logger. That’s a version that will let me go away from the internet, because you don’t always have the internet, and I’m beginning to realise, here in Tasmania and just in Australia, just how privileged and how blessed we are with internet in our normal life in the United States. We have it so much easier. Everything is metered internet here and most people are on 2GB a month’s allocation. So I haven’t been downloading very many movies or watching YouTube videos while I’m here!
Philip Hodgetts: The nice thing about working with our own software is, of course, when you work with your own software you suddenly realise what you need to do to make it even better. We rely on our users to feed us back suggestions, but I did find every time I go out to try and do a project on our own that we find a way of making it even better. While I’ve been here the team back in California have been doing some major revisions to the iOS logger to make it a lot more robust away from the internet.
Larry Jordan: Now let’s just focus on how the software works. Are you able to log while you’re also asking the questions? Do you have to split your attention or do you have somebody else logging while you’re doing the interviews? How does the workflow work?
Philip Hodgetts: I am actually logging it as I go. I have potentially about ten questions that I’m asking each person. They’re fairly open-ended questions, such as what do you remember from growing up, or if you left Tasmania, what did you feel like when you were leaving and what does it feel like when you’re coming back? So I had those key words already set up in before I left, but it’s so easy with Lumberjack to, even on the iPhone, to add an extra keyword while you’re logging, so a couple of places people mentioned things that I hadn’t set up a key word for and so I just added another key word.
Philip Hodgetts: One of the features that I decided to add on the very first time that I used Lumberjack logger, was that we needed a way of going back in time and logging something that happened 10, 15 or 30 seconds ago, as you realised a new subject has been created that you don’t have a key word for. So it’s very easy and the iOS logger works on both iPad and iPhone, so I’m shooting with an iPad, I’m logging with my iPhone, I’m a poster child for Apple right now! I feel like I’m a semi-pro user story.
Larry Jordan: From an interview producer point of view, do you find it distracting to be trying to think about your next question and guide the discussion while you’re also trying to be concrete and focus on logging? Is it easy to split your attention like that?
Mike Horton: Yes!
Philip Hodgetts: I haven’t found it a problem. Some people have recorded that they feel that they’d like to have it as a separate role, but all the time that I’ve worked with it I’ve had no real issue because it’s clearly straightforward to simply look down for about ten seconds and type in a new key word. What we’re logging is key word ranges. We’re not trying to log as in a transcript, we’re just doing key word ranges, and that’s what Lumberjack does. It sets up key word ranges in time and then we use that time, the time of day, to match between the media file and the log. What’s really great about using iOS devices is you never have to worry about setting the time because every time they connect to the network, the internet, they reset their time to actually atomic clock accuracy. So it’s a perfect combination for Lumberjack.
Mike Horton: I would find it really difficult. First of all I can’t multi-task. I have a difficult time talking to you and Philip at the same time!
Philip Hodgetts: Well, I probably have one of those brains that allows me to multitask. Actually, in my grade school I used to constantly in trouble because I was reading under the desk during class, reading two or three books a week, and the thing that really annoyed my teacher was when he asked me a question I could answer it because I was able, back in that day, to concentrate on the two things at once. And so I find it very straightforward for me.
Mike Horton: Well, the cure to this is to just hire Philip to do the logging and I’ll do the interviewing.
Larry Jordan: That’s it, I think that’s the perfect answer right there.
Philip Hodgetts: Even if you do have to add an extra person, you’re adding somebody who is a relatively junior member of the team, an intern or a production assistant, who are generally a lot less expensive in the budget than many more hours of an assistant editor or an editor to do the same job after the fact.
Mike Horton: That is very true.
Philip Hodgetts: The economics of it certainly work out, even if you do have to add an extra person to the crew.
Larry Jordan: Yes, and clearly, as we move more and more into shooting more and materials in a digital environment, putting metadata in as early in the production process just makes your life a whole lot easier. Philip, for people that want more information about Lumberjack, where can they go on the web?
Philip Hodgetts: Lumberjacksystem.com will get you all the information you want about Lumberjack.
Larry Jordan: And for people that want to know what you’re thinking about, where can they go to learn your latest thoughts?
Philip Hodgetts: My latest thoughts, my rantings, are at philiphodgetts.com.
Larry Jordan: That lumberjacksystem.com for Lumberjack, and philiphodgetts.com for Philip Hodgetts. And Philip, as always, a delight chatting. Have a fun time with your family and travel safely back home!
Philip Hodgetts: Thank you.
Mike Horton: Thanks, Philip! See you soon.
Philip Hodgetts: Bye!
Larry Jordan: You know, it’s an interesting challenge trying to figure out how to record interviews and how to ask questions and log it all at one time. That is not a simple task. I agree with Philip, having somebody to give you a hand on site is going to save you…
Mike Horton: I couldn’t do it, no.
Larry Jordan: Yes, you could, you could.
Mike Horton: Well first of all, when you’re asking people questions and you’re logging, you’re not listening to the answers, that doesn’t work! You got to listen, you got to look at them in the eye, you know?
Larry Jordan: And even if you don’t look at them in the eye, at least listening.
Mike Horton: You’re really boring! You’re incredibly boring. I’m sorry I asked that question. Let’s go onto another question because you’re so boring!
Larry Jordan: I’ve heard dumb answers before, but that one is a new record!
Mike Horton: That was really dumb. I‘m logging dumb answer don’t use this!
Larry Jordan: Did you go to CES, real quick?
Mike Horton: No, you went to CES.
Larry Jordan: I did, though.
Mike Horton: You never know what you’re doing, you’re so busy.
Larry Jordan: The thing that maddens me most about CES is there were hundreds of companies there I’ve never heard of, just hundreds!
Mike Horton: No, did you actually get to walk a floor? You’re so busy.
Larry Jordan: I walked South floor lower, I walked South floor upper, and I walked Central.
Mike Horton: Did you see like any really groovy TVs or anything like that?
Larry Jordan: Oh, the new 8K monitor at Sharp. 8K! And it was sitting next to a 4K and I discovered if you increase the sharpening, any monitor will look awful, but the 4K and 8K looked really cool.
Mike Horton: What do they show on 8K?
Larry Jordan: I did a blog. Go to Larryjordan.biz/blog and you’ll see what I was writing about.
Mike Horton: Are these one of those like giant screens?
Larry Jordan: Huge screens. The size of you, it’s amazing. I would like to thank our guests today, Boris Yamnitsky…
Mike Horton: I actually drank a lot during the holidays.
Larry Jordan: …the founder and CEO of Boris FX. Ross Shain, the Chief Marketing Officer for Imagineer Systems…
Mike Horton: And Academy Award winner!
Larry Jordan: Philip Hodgetts, CEO of Intelligent Assistance. There’s a lot of history in our industry. You’ll see it all at our website at digitalproductionbuzz.com. You can talk with us on Twitter at DPBuzz and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Music on The Buzz provided by Smart Sound. Text transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription. You can email us at info@digitalproductionbuzz. Our producer, Cirina Catania, our engineering team is led by Meghan Paulos and included Ed Golyer and Brianna Murphy and Alexia Chalida.
Mike Horton: So many people doing this show!
Larry Jordan: It’s a crowd, it’s getting better! On behalf of Mike Horton, my name’s Larry Jordan, thank for listening to The Buzz.
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