Digital Production Buzz
March 5, 2015
[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]
(Click here to listen to this show.)
Brad Malcolm, President, Athentech Imaging Inc.
Rodrigo Thomaz, Product and Training Specialist, Audio-Technica
Kevin McAuliffe, Senior Editor, Extreme Reach Toronto – Avid Community Leader
Voiceover: The Digital Production Buzz is brought to you 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: Rolling. Action!
Larry Jordan: Since the dawn of digital film making…
Larry Jordan: …one show serves a worldwide network of media professionals…
Larry Jordan: …uniting industry experts…
Larry Jordan: …film makers…
Voiceover: Post production.
Larry Jordan: …and content creators around the planet.
Larry Jordan: From the media capital of the world in Los Angeles, California, The Digital Production Buzz goes 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 is our co-host, the ever affable Mr. Mike Horton.
Mike Horton: Hello everybody.
Larry Jordan: Affable. I like that word.
Mike Horton: Affable. I do too. It’s with two Fs. Affable. I am feeling mighty affable today.
Larry Jordan: Nobody has a better aff than you do.
Mike Horton: Thank you. I’m watching ourselves right now.
Larry Jordan: It’s going to be cool.
Mike Horton: This is cool. Oh my God, do I look like this? Oh, hello. I’m still trying to get used to this whole thing.
Larry Jordan: Well, you’re doing a great job of completely confusing the rest of us, I just want you to know that. We start this week’s show with Brad Malcolm. He’s the President of Authentic Imaging Inc and they’ve created a produced called Perfectly Clear…
Mike Horton: And it’s cool.
Larry Jordan: …that automates the process of correcting and improving still images and also has uses for video producers. Then last week, The Buzz was in London, attending the BVE expo. During the show, we interviewed Rodrigo Thomaz, a product and training specialist for Audio-Technica. In this interview, recorded at the show, he showcases new wireless products and shares his thoughts on how to pick a mic for you next project.
Larry Jordan: Then we turn our attention from production to post, with a conversation with Kevin McAuliffe. Kevin is a senior editor with Extreme Reach, Toronto and an Avid community leader. He has close to 20 years of Media Composer experience and we talk with him tonight about what’s new with Media Composer.
Larry Jordan: Just a reminder, we are offering text transcripts for each show, courtesy of Take 1 Transcription. You can learn more about transcripts at take1.tv and thanks, Take 1, for making it possible.
Larry Jordan: Mike…
Mike Horton: Mmm?
Larry Jordan: …you remember all our conversations about the cloud that we’ve had for production, post production, putting media up to the cloud.
Mike Horton: Yes. Are you feeling a little bit better about the cloud?
Larry Jordan: Last week, we got so bitten, you would not believe it.
Mike Horton: Really?
Larry Jordan: Yes, we planned to originate The Buzz, both audio and video, from BVE expo at the ExCel Center in London. We spent the first day shooting video interviews and stand-ups and then that night I did a rough cut in the hotel room. I was ready to send up the files to back here so they could put them all together and integrate them, put the show together. We had less than 100 kilobits per second upload. It would take a day – a day – to upload each segment.
Mike Horton: What hotel were you staying at? Some place in Australia?
Larry Jordan: I don’t know, but there was a string that went out the back of the hotel. We realized that six days to upload the show was going to be just a non-starter.
Mike Horton: Larry, you know, when you go to places like that, you need to just stay in America where we have the fastest speeds. But when you go to South Korea, oh, piece of cake. Be like that.
Larry Jordan: Well, it’s a place I haven’t been recently, so…
Mike Horton: Well, it’s very fast speeding.
Larry Jordan: Anyway, the reason that we didn’t have live video or any video last week is we couldn’t get it back here, so we’re going to be posting some of the interviews that we did as video on our YouTube channel, but that’s why it was audio only; and I know you were worried, because you worry about that stuff.
Mike Horton: I was, because I looked for your video and just saw audio.
Larry Jordan: And it was because…
Mike Horton: It was so boring.
Larry Jordan: …we couldn’t get it out of London. It was unbelievably slow.
Mike Horton: Ok.
Larry Jordan: Remember to visit with us on Facebook, at digitalproductionbuzz.com; we’re also 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 back with Brad Malcolm right after this.
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Larry Jordan: Brad Malcolm is the President and Co-founder of Athentech Imaging. They’re the makers of Perfectly Clear. This innovative technology provides intelligent image correction for still images. Hello, Brad, welcome.
Brad Malcolm: Hi there. Thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: It is wonderful to have you on the show. Brad, how would you describe Athentech Imaging?
Brad Malcolm: We were formed by a bunch of smart physicists, engineers, computers developers and so that was the essence for the company when it was started, to come up with innovative technologies, ground breaker technologies and so we are doing that in photography right now. We also have technology in the medical realm and in the earth sciences realm, so that from a broad picture is what we’re about. Invent new things, things that are different that add value.
Larry Jordan: Why did you decide to start the company? I know you’re not the founder, you’re a co-founder, but what was it that spurred it? Starting a company is not easy work.
Brad Malcolm: Tell me about it. Yes, it was actually brought to my from my uncle, who had met Brian who was our first inventor, and Brian went to Europe a long time ago to photograph stained glass windows. He came back from his vacation and they were under exposed and they were dark, so he used Photoshop to correct those images, to make them better.
Brad Malcolm: But that was very time consuming and that was very difficult and he said, “The average person isn’t going to want to try to do this,” so he invented the core part of Perfectly Clear and said, “Hey, this is kind of cool,” and that’s where the company was formed and was shown to me and I came in to help where I could and just kind of got sucked into doing more and more and the photography stuff was shown to somebody who said, “This is really cool. What can you do with X-rays?” in their radiology world and that was really cool; and then “What can you do in the earth sciences realm?” so that was really cool as well.
Brad Malcolm: When you get some smart people together, there’s a lot that can be accomplished.
Mike Horton: You bring up X-rays. Are you enhancing X-rays? Are you making them clearer? What exactly are you doing with X-rays?
Brad Malcolm: Yes, we make them perfectly clear.
Mike Horton: Oh, so they’re not perfectly clear when we get the X-rays, you make them perfectly clear.
Brad Malcolm: That’s the name of our brand, so that’s why I joke about that. The market we’re active in right now is photography, but medical sciences and earth sciences are some other areas as well. The problem with X-rays is there are 4,000 shades of gray when you get an X-ray, but the human eye can only comprehend about 100 to 200, so that’s why it appears slightly fuzzy, and so we actively manage that dynamic range to bring out lots of information pixel for pixel so that everything is very… in X-rays. Everything looks crisp.
Mike Horton: So your information is still accurate, you don’t actually put in things…
Brad Malcolm: Absolutely. It’s very accurate. We don’t…
Mike Horton: Yes, you’re dealing with…
Brad Malcolm: …on our technology and that’s the essence of our patents as well.
Mike Horton: What’s that big white spot?
Larry Jordan: I was just going to say, using the spot healing brush on your X-ray would probably be a bad idea.
Brad Malcolm: Yes. Photography, there’s a big thing right now, filters, Instagram’s popular, all that creativity and creativity’s a good thing, but you can never do Instagram to your X-rays. That wouldn’t be acceptable in the medical realm.
Larry Jordan: Brad, you mentioned your product, which is Perfectly Clear. Tell us what that does and, more importantly, contrast what that does with what I’m doing in Photoshop when I’m adjusting levels or tweaking curves.
Brad Malcolm: You could think of it as being a smart, intelligent image correction and we’ve got unique science on how we do that. Our whole value proposition is to save you time so that you don’t have to do that in Photoshop. You want to spend time behind your camera and if you’re in Photoshop or Lightroom, those tools, you want to spend your time being creative, not doing mundane image correction, and that’s what we do.
Brad Malcolm: So when your images are dark, if you have red eye, if they’re noisy, when they’re lacking in color vibrancy, all those challenges we overcome. In other words, cameras have physical limitations – they have a single aperture which acts much differently than the way the human eye works, which is constantly and dynamically dilating so that you can always manage all the incoming light, so everything… with your eye looks great.
Brad Malcolm: You snap a picture at a single point in time and that’s why you have exposure issues, that’s why you have noise issues. We overcome those things, that’s what we do, so we’re a big time saver. A lot of the stuff that we do, you can do in Photoshop; a lot of the stuff we do, you can’t do in Photoshop, but we’re going to get you there quicker. Instantly.
Larry Jordan: There was a point on your website that I was really confused about, because you were talking about the fact that when you are doing Photoshop and you are adjusting settings or cleaning up color, you’re actually damaging the image, which was surprising to me because I didn’t realize that if I was doing a levels adjustment or a curves adjustment, I would be damaging the image. Is that what’s actually going on or are you just interpreting the images differently?
Brad Malcolm: Well, no, that is true and it comes from a different shift. Remember, digital is everywhere now but it’s relatively new even 15 years ago or 12 years ago, depending on when you define it started. What happened when we started to take digital images is we retrofitted or companies used the same technology that we did in film and used that concept, and what that means is you add white to brighten an image.
Brad Malcolm: Well, when you add white to brighten an image, it becomes washed out or faded, so now you have to add in color vibrancy to bring that back. Now when you do that, the color shifts so it becomes oversaturated, so then you’ve got to brighten it again, and you get in this vicious cycle and that’s what we mean by that, where part of our technology is how we always maintain real color. We maintain the DNA integrity of your photograph.
Brad Malcolm: That color blue shirt that I see, for example, should be blue or it should be purple. We’re not going to shift it. When you run it through other corrections, blue skies can become washed out or colors shifted to become prettier. We don’t do that and it’s very easy in advanced software tools like a Photoshop or others, when you adjust something, your levels, you clip, i.e. you go too far, you push it past the dynamic range, the 255, 255, 255, so you lose detail in order to get information in one area. We don’t do that, so that’s what we mean by that. We maintain all the real color that’s in your image.
Larry Jordan: If someone was a skilled Photoshop user, could they achieve the same results your software does? Or is Photoshop inherently causing the problem?
Brad Malcolm: I don’t want to make it sound like we’re picking on Photoshop, because that’s not the point, so it’s not that Photoshop’s inherently causing the problem. It’s just the way that the manual tools are designed and there’s a lot of complexity in an image, so it’s really easy to push something too far or in fixing something, let’s say I took a picture of you right now and the background’s too dark so I want to brighten up the background, well, everything gets brightened, so the background is good but now your face is overexposed. Because we do everything at a pixel per pixel level in 20 megapixel photo, when we do our correction, we’re correcting every pixel independently, so it’s as if that photo was taken by 20 million individual apertures.
Brad Malcolm: To your other question as well, though, we have a wide range of corrections. Our noise removal, for example, Photoshop, Lightroom, other tools have noise removal but there are several sliders to accomplish that. What we do automatically is very powerful, we don’t lose details or blur like other stuff does and it’s one click. Our red eye, which is from our partner, Photo Nation, that’s fully automatic. You can’t automatically remove red eye, usually you’ve got to select an area around here.
Brad Malcolm: If you’re a wedding photographer, if you’re somebody that does higher volume, with us you can batch process through thousands or millions of images. In fact, through our licensees, over 30 million prints every day are automatically corrected with our technology. That’s automatic and that’s where the real benefit comes. If you’ve got noise, we remove it. If you’re underexposed, we fix that. Got red eye, we fix that. Lacking color vibrancy, we detect it and fix it; and then the later stuff that we added is Beautify, which makes it easier to look your best.
Brad Malcolm: That’s a little more on the creative side, but smoothing your skin tone, whitening your teeth, adding life to your eyes, making that pop, removing dark circles around your eyes. You can do that in Photoshop, that’s what people do, but when we show people what we do with one click, it blows them away and they say, “Wow, I would mask, I would level, that would take me ten minutes in Photoshop to do,” and we do it instantly.
Mike Horton: You have the same application for the iPhone and the iPad, so you can add beauty and whitened teeth and all that. Can you really do that with a finger?
Brad Malcolm: You can indeed. We also have that for the Android.
Mike Horton: Yes, I’m going to download for the iPad and iPhone and probably try it out tonight, because your website makes this look all so wonderfully simple and I can sure use the help with my photographs, so I’m going to take…
Brad Malcolm: Well, that again comes down to the value. That’s our whole value proposition. We’re here to save your time, make it easy to look your best, make it automatic because you have better things to do. And just one thing for clarification – on the iPhone, we’re coming out with a major release here shortly. That doesn’t contain the next generation of Beautify, like our current Android does and our current plug-ins do. That’s coming soon, but you’ll see four out of nine Beautify stuff, so just stay tuned.
Larry Jordan: You mentioned that this is a plug-in. What software do you work with?
Brad Malcolm: It’s a plug-in to Photoshop and it’s a plug-in to Lightroom.
Larry Jordan: I was just reflecting as you were listing all the different things that you did, is any of this technology patented?
Brad Malcolm: Yes, we have a lot of different patents in over 15 different countries. We spend a lot of money on patent expenses. It’s insane, how much money actually one spends. But yes, our technology’s patented in not just one country, but in over 15 different countries, and there are multiple patents.
Larry Jordan: Let’s go back to this whole color correction image improvement point of view. When I was reading your website, I read that our eyes see color one way and our cameras see color a different way. Could you, without confusing Michael, explain this in laymen’s terms, how this works?
Brad Malcolm: There are two aspects, there’s color and there’s light. The eye is constantly adjusting to manage all the color and all the light, where as a camera is a single point in time and so that’s a large part of the difference between the camera and the eye. In real time, the eye can manage different color, so if we have multiple light sources in a room, for example, the eye can focus in on one and realize, ok, that object is white and that object is blue. Let’s look at snow, for example. Quite often, you take a picture and the snow’s blue. Well, it wasn’t blue, so why was it?
Brad Malcolm: The camera has to white balance on something and it’s a difficult problem and it’s easy to get the colors mixed up when there are multiple light sources, so it balances on something that isn’t quite white and you end up with a blue image or a green image, whereas the human eye doesn’t have that problem. It comes down to just the inherent challenges in building an advanced sensor of a camera, and they do a great job. There’s a lot of technology in our cameras, they’re very advanced, but they’re still just physical limitations compared to the human body.
Mike Horton: Did you have a lot of fun with that internet phenom last week with the blue and black dress and the gold and white dress and everybody was seeing it in different colors?
Brad Malcolm: I didn’t see that. I’ve been traveling, so I…
Mike Horton: Oh, it was huge. It blew up and then every tech website gave you the reasons why people see different colors and, of course, none of those essays made any sense to me at all. But people saw this dress in either gold and white or blue and black and there were reasons for it, something to do with the brain and the eye, I don’t know. But anyway, it was a huge phenomenon last week.
Brad Malcolm: Yes, well, the body’s an amazing machine. The way our retina sees things differently, you’ve got the rods, you’ve got the cones, everything’s interpreted differently. I don’t want to get into all that detail because I may say something incorrectly off hand, but yes it just is amazing the way the human eye works for that and, of course, it gets complicated trying to build that in a real time mechanical device.
Larry Jordan: It’s interesting, just looking at Mike under the lighting that we have in the studio…
Mike Horton: Am I all red?
Larry Jordan: No, but looking at Mike outside, you know that he looks the same but the color temperature of the light is so different and your eye adjusts to that automatically and with the camera you’ve got to tell it what color light it’s working in.
Mike Horton: I know you were always very busy, but did you read about that? Did you get into that phenomenon of the blue and the black and the gold and the white?
Larry Jordan: It was very cool.
Mike Horton: I saw it as gold and white and my wife saw it as blue and black.
Larry Jordan: Really? Yes, blue and black, that’s me.
Mike Horton: Ok.
Larry Jordan: We’ll fight it out after.
Mike Horton: All right, we will.
Larry Jordan: Brad, give us some examples of how we can use the software. From what I understand, and I will confess I haven’t run it yet, but really you just load the pictures into the software, click one button and the processing is automatic. I’m not dragging sliders around, it’s doing all that for me. Is that correct?
Brad Malcolm: Yes, that’s correct. There are a couple of things, as background. We license the core technology, so we provide that engine to our licensees, the largest printers around the world use us. You’ve probably used us if you’ve ever been into a… or printed through a major retailer, and so that’s the licensing side, the B2B side of our business.
Brad Malcolm: We have a desktop software, which is a Photoshop and Lightroom plug-in. You install that in Photoshop or Lightroom; it also works in Adobe Elements and Corel’s PaintShop Pro. You load an image in and you open Perfectly Clear and it’s corrected automatically. We give you eight different presets that you can choose, so you can choose each one that highlights or emphasizes a particular issue. We have a fixed start for really dark images. If you want extra vibrant images, we do have a landscape one. We have our Beautify one that essentially is for portraits, because all images are slightly different.
Brad Malcolm: So yes, you click it and it’s automatic. We do have sliders for every one of our algorithms, so for those people who want to fine tune, they can do that but again, our strength is saving you time. And then same thing in our mobile apps, Android, IOS, which includes Amazon Kindle devices. It’s automatic but if you want there are slider bars to fine tune, and they’re not the same slider bars you’d find in Photoshop. They’re unique to each one of our algorithms.
Larry Jordan: We have a live chat and Dean is asking whether there are any plans to work with Apple’s Photo application?
Brad Malcolm: What does ‘work with’ mean, I guess?
Larry Jordan: If it’s a plug-in for Photoshop, would it be a plug-in for Photo?
Brad Malcolm: That’s a good question and I don’t have an answer to it. Apple’s Photo is still new, so…
Mike Horton: Yes, it just came out. Or did it just come out?
Brad Malcolm: I believe they’re still in beta, actually, so Apple had a program called Aperture and they’re phasing out Aperture, so whether or not we can be a plug-in largely depends upon whether Apple opens up that interface so that we can build in. Adobe has a plug-in interface and so we need that to be available to plug into that architecture, so that’s the technical answer. We will have a standalone version out here later this spring as well, which means anybody can use it in anything. It doesn’t plug in, it doesn’t require any… programs…
Mike Horton: Oh nice.
Brad Malcolm: …you can just load imagines from anywhere, that will be Windows and Mac, and then you can think of it, use us for your first step and then you can use Photo from Apple or whatever your other tool is for organizing, sorting, sharing etcetera.
Mike Horton: I mess around with both Photoshop and Lightroom a lot. I don’t necessarily like one over the other. Do I have to buy two separate applications for those two programs?
Brad Malcolm: No, no. What we’ve done is we have a Photoshop plug-in or a Lightroom plug-in, or we have a bundle of both of them.
Mike Horton: Oh, you have a bundle? Ok. Well, that’s the one I’d get.
Brad Malcolm: Yes, the plug-in is $149, just for reference, so you can spend $149 for either Photoshop or Lightroom, or spend $199 and you get it for both. We sell a curved platform in that case, those two platforms. There are a lot of other companies that have their different filters and enhancements and they have five or six different plug-ins. We just have one.
Larry Jordan: Our producer, Cirina, has found an interesting use of your product with a video workflow, which is kind of cool. What she does, she tells me, is that she uses it to pull a still image from raw video, then uses Perfectly Clear to do a quick color grade for her colorist to use as a reference. Have you seen other unusual uses of the application?
Brad Malcolm: It’s an interesting one. For that workflow, she’s using a Blackmagic camera, if I understand correctly, which is very high quality and we’re talking 4K, so it’s high quality. But it comes down to what a lot of people don’t realize until after the fact – hey, I got a DSLR, hey, I got high quality. I’m shooting RAW. Ok, so RAW, great.
Brad Malcolm: In theory or practically we are capturing all this information, but because it hasn’t been processed, it’s actually flatter than a JPEG is, whereas a JPEG has actually been processed so it has some punch to it. People get a DSLR to shoot RAW, they think they’re going to have a better image but then they’re disappointed because, ah, ok, now I got to have complicated RAW processing software.
Brad Malcolm: Well, if you use our technology, we work on RAW files so we automatically analyze that and give you an image that looks great, but we preserve all their detail. So that’s what happens there, you have a high quality Blackmagic video, you can shoot a still in there but it needs some oomph, it needs some punch, and so that makes a lot of sense and we do see that a lot.
Larry Jordan: What’s the price of the program?
Brad Malcolm: It’s $149.
Larry Jordan: So $139 for Photoshop, another $139 for Lightroom and then some number for both?
Brad Malcolm: No, 149.
Larry Jordan: 49?
Brad Malcolm: Yes, so 149 gets you the Lightroom plug-in, or you can spend 149 to buy the Photoshop plug-in, or you buy the bundle which gets you both and that’s 199.
Larry Jordan: And for people who want to learn more, where can they go on the web to learn more about the product?
Brad Malcolm: If you Google Perfectly Clear, which is the name of the technology, we’ll come up as your top ratings. Our website is athentech, which is our company name, athentech.com, and two other things to mention, our mobile app for Android and IOS is $2.99, so you could buy half a cup of coffee or, while you’re waiting for your cup of coffee, you download the app, because it’s less than the price of a cup of coffee. Gets you amazing images and I don’t know if Cirina’s mentioned, but she’s also won several awards as of late and we’re featuring one of her pictures and Perfectly Clear has helped her win that award because it saved a lot of time.
Mike Horton: Oh, great. That’s so cool
Larry Jordan: And Brad is the President of Authentic Imaging. Brad, thanks for joining us today. I’ve enjoyed the visit.
Brad Malcolm: Thanks for having me.
Brad Malcolm: My pleasure.
Mike Horton: Thanks, Brad.
Larry Jordan: Take care. Bye bye.
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Larry Jordan: Last week, I was in London attending the BVE expo at the ExCel Center. During the expo, we took our cameras and microphones around the show floor looking for interesting stories to cover and many of those we presented in last week’s show. However, we saved one for tonight. In this interview, I spoke with Rodrigo, Thomaz, product and training specialist for Audio-Technica UK, about some of their latest microphone products.
Larry Jordan: Continuing our tour around BVE, we’re in the Audio-Technica booth. Now, for those of you who don’t know Audio-Technica, it’s a microphone company, it makes a wide variety of microphones, and what I want to do is to learn more about what Audio-Technica’s got, both in wired in wireless mics. To do this, I want to introduce Rodrigo Thomaz. He is the event manager for Audio-Technica. Rodrigo, thanks for joining us today.
Rodrigo Thomaz: Hey, my pleasure to be here with you.
Larry Jordan: Describe Audio-Technica. What does the company do?
Rodrigo Thomaz: Audio-Technica actually started about 50 years ago in Japan with cartridges and stylus turntables. Then we moved on to microphones, headphones and so on and now wireless systems as well, so the history is there for 50 years doing great products.
Larry Jordan: As I walk around BVE, there are any number of microphone companies here. What makes Audio-Technica special? Why should someone consider your products?
Rodrigo Thomaz: First of all, it’s a family orientated business. It was run by a family in Japan for 50 years and we strive for quality and natural sound. There’s no compromise in that. Even though its tech specs are well advertised, it’s very honest. When you buy an Audio-Technica product, that’s what you get – a very honest sound, very natural.
Larry Jordan: How would you compare yourselves with other companies that also emphasize audio quality? I think Sennheiser comes instantly to mind, and others.
Rodrigo Thomaz: Sure. I think one thing we can say about us is the fact that we make very specific mics for very specific applications. Our catalog is huge, we have a large number of microphones. Sometimes it’s a very singular microphone; however, we do have microphones for very specific instruments or voices or even, if it’s in broadcast installation, which is a big part of our business as well, broadcast installation for us is massive. It’s just a variety of products to cover everything in the range of all Europe.
Larry Jordan: Talk to me more about the wireless. What have you got that’s in wireless? I know that one of the new products you have is also wireless for field work.
Rodrigo Thomaz: Yes. Right now we are exploring our System 10 camera mount system, which is this little guy over here. We have a number of systems on the System 10 range and this is now our third incarnation of System 10.
Larry Jordan: And what is it?
Rodrigo Thomaz: Basically, it’s a 2.4 gigahertz, a little receiving transmitter. What we have here is a very small little receiver, lithium battery, a long life battery, and you have a dual mono and balanced output as well, so if you do have a DSLR camera. For instance, if you need to feed left and right of the stereo image, well, we do have a dual mono over here that would do that for you.
Rodrigo Thomaz: If you have a camera such as a Blackmagic or another camera that takes up balance signal, we flick the switch and now we have a very nice balanced signal as well. It can monitor your audio as well, PFI and monitor output here for your headphones. We do have a little body pack as well that you can use a number of already, very popular microphone headsets, lapel mics, even goose necks or boundary mics, so a number of opportunities there for you to use those microphones. We have about 20 of them for you to choose from.
Larry Jordan: So I could use the Audio-Technica receiver transmitter with any microphone?
Rodrigo Thomaz: Well, really you can. We use this on the high risk connectors, a four pin high risk connector, so if you do have another brand that you like to use or you already own – I can see that you use a very nice… microphone, that is a very nice product – you could actually just rewire that with a high risk connector and, voila, you have that as well.
Larry Jordan: There’s a real challenge with wireless frequencies getting more and more congested. How do you make sure that you’re on a clear frequency?
Rodrigo Thomaz: Well, it’s digital. For instance, a lot of people who use this product would be, let’s say, videographers at a wedding or using a DSLR camera. They might have a live band playing. Most likely, they will be using a UHF system, but even if they are using a different system, we can fit eight systems together at the same time in the same place and the space between each frequency is very nicely calculated.
Rodrigo Thomaz: The system is very smart, it’s always looking for a free frequency and it never will let you down… diversity, so it’s not a diverse thing in a sense but it always looks for an empty frequency and there’s a safety net for you there. Let’s say a wireless wifi router is changing channels all the time. The system is very clever in that it always has a spare frequency there for you and it will just flick to that frequency and you never even hear a sound or a click or anything. Just very seamless.
Larry Jordan: Audio-Technica has so many different microphones for so many different purposes, how do you decide which microphone to use?
Rodrigo Thomaz: We do have a microphone range, for instance the Artist Elite, that if you go into a recording studio, let’s say I’m recording vocals, a vintage vocal or a more pop vocal, we do have microphones to cater for that as well. The 4047 microphone has a very nice vintage sound, but I can have a pop singer who wants a very crispy sound so I may suggest a 44 to a 450 microphone.
Rodrigo Thomaz: Those microphones aren’t being sometimes changed for about 20 years and they are very, very good quality and people have been using these all over the world, they’re very popular. It’s good to have a chunky catalog. It’s hard work for us to export. However, for the end user it’s great because you can pinpoint. I had a lady here who came looking for specifically a microphone for a violin. We have a 80 20 31 mic, which was designed for strings only, so it’s very specific. We like to do that, to be very specific about our mics, so we have a lot of mics for a lot of applications.
Larry Jordan: What’s the model number of this new transmitter receiver pair?
Rodrigo Thomaz: This we call the System 10 camera mount system. This is how you’re going to find this online. If you search for System 10 camera mount system, there is the…
Larry Jordan: For people who want more information, what website can they go to?
Rodrigo Thomaz: They can go to eu.audio-technica.co.uk.
Larry Jordan: Rodrigo Thomaz is the event manager for Audio-Technica. Rodrigo, thanks for joining us today.
Larry Jordan: Kevin McAuliffe is the senior editor for Extreme Reach Toronto. He’s also an Avid community leader with close to 20 years of Media Composer experience. Kevin uses his knowledge to help educate not only the Avid community, but editors currently looking to make a switch to Media Composer. Hello, Kevin, welcome.
Kevin McAuliffe: Larry, thanks for having me. Michael, good to talk to you again as well.
Mike Horton: Hiya Kevin. We were worried about you for a second, couldn’t get a hold of you.
Kevin McAuliffe: I know, I was sitting up here waiting for the Skype call to come through, but it’s funny because I was listening to that last interview and I’ll sing the praises of Audio-Technica, because I’m actually talking to you on one of their microphones right now and it’s fabulous, I love it.
Larry Jordan: See? He is a multitalented individual. Kevin, just to get ourselves started, what got you interested in editing in the first place?
Kevin McAuliffe: Oh, there’s a great story. It’s funny, nobody ever asks me that story and it’s always a good one. When I was about 14 years old, my parents took me to Universal Studios in California and I did this thing called the Star Trek Experience and basically they took you and they dressed you up like, I was a Klingon, basically, but they actually made a little ten minute video and it was one of those things where I saw all the cameras and I saw the stuff and I thought to myself, “That’s something I’ve got to do.” I was totally amazed at how they put this thing together. I still have the video from way back then.
Kevin McAuliffe: I came back home and I said to my parents, “I don’t know what aspect of film or television I want to do, but that’s what I want to do,” and believe it or not, at the time, this was, well, let’s see, this was about when I was 15 so about 25 years ago, they looked up to see how many schools offered this and there was a school in Ontario, Canada, one high school that had a television studio in it. We’re still using it. Ready for this? Video Toaster. Editing on Video Toaster with all those fantastic wipes with the football players, stuff like that, but that sort of gave me my first real look at everything that went into television and editing was always one of those things that kind of scared me because you had those giant tape decks that were 400 pounds that you had to slam the tape in at the top, three quarter inch back in the day.
Kevin McAuliffe: But after high school, I took a tour of Sheridan College. Sheridan College is well known for their computer animation course, but they’re also well known for their media and their advanced television, and I walked in and I saw – here’s another thing that’s going to make me sound old again – non-linear editing on D Vision, way back in the day, and it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen and I was like, “That’s what I’ve got to do. I want to learn how to do that.” Of course, they made me sit through two years of doing the old splicing on the Steenbeck and things like that, but in the third year I got to use Media Composer, version 5.5.
Kevin McAuliffe: When I tell people, “Oh, I’ve been using Media Composer since version 5,” they’re like, “What? You’ve been using it for three or four years?” I’m like, “No, it got to 12 and reset itself and started with Media Composer Adrenalin version 1, so technically it’s at version 20 now, so I’ve been using it for 15 versions,” so I’ve been using it a long time.
Mike Horton: I’ve got a story for you, that ‘Star Trek’ thing. I did an episode of ‘Star Trek Voyager’, and I know you did the same thing when you did the Universal Studio thing, where I got to beam up. I got to stand in the pod, I got to beam up and, of course, they cut that scene.
Larry Jordan: No!
Kevin McAuliffe: Of course.
Mike Horton: They cut that scene. They actually give you a little badge at the end of that scene where you actually get to beam up on that episode. It was so much fun and they cut it out.
Larry Jordan: So no-one’s ever seen you beam up?
Mike Horton: So if you ever see ‘Star Trek Voyager’, they cut out that scene.
Larry Jordan: How could they do that to you?
Mike Horton: I know. I know. It was just so much fun.
Larry Jordan: Do you still have the badge?
Kevin McAuliffe: I’ll look for your hand in that episode.
Larry Jordan: That leads to the next question. You got bitten when you were a ‘Klingon’, so to speak, but what brought you to Avid?
Kevin McAuliffe: Back in the day, there were really only a couple of players. Like I said, there was D Vision, which at the time was, I really got an intro because that was sort of the first little foray into non-linear editing, and then it was Avid. After that, Avid was really the only player. Premiere was around back then and wasn’t the juggernaut that it’s become today, but it was an Avid world back then and that was really the only option.
Kevin McAuliffe: For the longest time, that’s what I did and, as we all know, as the job changes and we do different things, other things came along and for the longest time I actually switched to Final Cut. I was a Final Cut guy for probably about four years – I’m going to get lots of hate mail for this – I want to say in the Final Cut heyday, but certainly in that five, six, seven span, in the Final Cut Studio span, it was really making headways.
Kevin McAuliffe: Premiere at that point started to get in the race, was starting to accelerate at that point, but it was really the Avid and Final Cut battle at that time and I was doing a lot in Final Cut and at the end of the day, most of the work that I have done has been in collaborative environments and I’m not going to say that’s really where Avid excels, because Avid excels at editing in general, but one thing about Avid – obviously as people have known over the last ten years – they’ve really started to focus on that collaborative workflow and that has really been the focus of a lot the work that I’ve done, it’s been working with six or seven other editors on many of the same projects and that’s really where Avid has now started to dominate.
Mike Horton: You’re based out of Toronto, right?
Kevin McAuliffe: Yes, Toronto, Canada.
Mike Horton: Is it pretty much an Avid town? Or is it now becoming an Avid/Premiere town? I know a lot of people still use Final Cut.
Kevin McAuliffe: In my opinion, it’s still a pretty Avid dominated town. We’re in that interesting flux period. Apple obviously took the direction that they took a couple of years ago with how they wanted to Final Cut and Premiere has now got into the driver’s seat with Avid to be in that race, and it’s become an interesting race because for the longest time that was Final Cut’s scene.
Kevin McAuliffe: I’m not saying that Final Cut’s not in the race as well, don’t get me wrong, but at the time it was really one of those, if you could sit down and edit in front of Final Cut and you went into a Media Composer facility, you could make your way through Media Composer, they were very similar in how they functioned. Well, now Premiere’s kind of stepped into that place. If you’re a Media Composer editor, you could sit down with Premiere and get up to speed pretty quickly. If you’re an editor, you can sit get up to speed pretty quickly when editing on either system. Now, Final Cut has obviously taken things a little bit differently in the past few years.
Larry Jordan: But I want to come back to this, Kevin, because I want to contrast something. Grant, who’s in our live chat, writes that Final Cut is so easy to use now and its functionality for sharing is better and faster than Avid, I can’t see the hoo-ha any more, which gets to something I’m really curious about. For decades, there’s been the whole which NLE is the best and the NLE wars. Where do you stand on this?
Mike Horton: Tell me you hate it.
Kevin McAuliffe: You know what? It’s interesting that you said sharing, because I’m not talking about necessarily sharing, I’m talking about a collaborative workflow where you might have ten editors working on a project at the same time. I’m not talking about a couple of editors sitting down, I’m going to edit some and then, Larry, I’m going to pass it off to you and then you’re going to do some stuff and you’re going to pass it back to me. I’m talking about editors sharing storage, sharing media, working on a project at the same time.
Mike Horton: You can do that, right, Larry, in Final Cut with an XN?
Larry Jordan: No. You can’t have multiple people in the same library at the same time, but you can access the library from an XN. But you can’t have multiple people, no. Kevin’s absolutely right, the collaboration within Avid beats everything in Premiere with the possible exception of Adobe Anywhere, but beats Premiere and beats Final Cut. So that’s a good point.
Kevin McAuliffe: We’re not talking necessarily about sharing, we’re talking about a collaborative multi editor environment. As far what’s better, that’s like me saying what’s a better apple? Is a Fuji apple better? Is a Red Delicious better? One thing that I always try to tell all Final Cut editors – and don’t get me wrong, a lot of editors say… and then I can cut circles around you and that’s great and everything – because Final Cut is a different beast than it used to be, and I say beast in the most respectful terms, is that you might be the best Final Cut Pro 10 editor in the world, but you’d better get out there and you’d better learn Media Composer, because
Kevin McAuliffe: Avid is entrenched in a lot of production facilities, especially in LA, especially on the bigger productions, and if you want to get in on those productions, it’s not like it was back in the day where I know Final Cut and Avid works very similarly, it’s a very different workflow now so get out there and if you want to get into these facilities that have Avid, make sure you know it backwards, forwards, upside down. I hear people talk about the rigidity of Avid, “I don’t like Media Composer because I don’t have the flexibility that I have in other applications,” but I tell people that, believe it or not, that’s a blessing in disguise.
Kevin McAuliffe: One thing I tell people, when they go in to set their project up, people immediately always think that when they’re setting their project up, they’re setting it up to how their footage was shot and I say, “Don’t think that. Think of how you’re setting your project up as to what the final file that you’re going to deliver to your client is.” If you think that way and you’re bringing in media, because again, much like in Premiere, much like in Final Cut, you can bring in any type of media into Media Composer timeline to work with, but that Media Composer timeline is fixed to what you’re going to be delivering at the very end of your production.
Kevin McAuliffe: If you remember that, Media Composer is essentially giving you the road to drive down and saying, “This is the way you’re going to drive,” so that no matter what happens, you’re going to get to the destination the way that you need to.
Larry Jordan: Now, I want to be clear here that you don’t work for Avid, you’re an editor that just is using Avid.
Kevin McAuliffe: I do not work for Avid.
Larry Jordan: But recently Avid’s been having a really hard time financially and there’s been a lot of talk of the beleaguered Avid. Is it worth editors even learning the software, given the difficulties Avid is going through?
Kevin McAuliffe: Let’s put it this way. Like I said, I don’t work for the company, I can’t speak for the company, but I don’t really necessarily think that Avid’s going through any tough times, like everybody is saying they are. If you take a look at the Academy Awards this year, take a look at the films that were nominated for film editing – you’ve got ‘American Sniper’, you’ve got ‘Boyhood’, ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’, ‘Imitation Game’ and ‘Whiplash’ that won the Academy Award, all edited in Avid.
Kevin McAuliffe: The big players out there are still using Avid. I wouldn’t consider myself to be a big player because I’m not editing Hollywood features, but I’m doing pro editing, I’m doing commercials, I’m doing things like that and for me Avid is still the tool of choice.
Larry Jordan: Why did it take Avid so long to get into 4K?
Kevin McAuliffe: That’s a great question and that’s one that people like to give Avid a bash for. Again, it’s only my own personal opinion, but what people need to remember about a company like Avid is that Avid has two very different and distinct ecosystems. There are technically three, if you want to include storage in that, but storage can flip back and forth between the editing side and the post audio side. Really, there were a lot of factors that Avid needed to take into consideration such as interplay, which is asset management for Media Composer.
Kevin McAuliffe: That’s something that Avid has to keep in mind when they’re developing their software, so they need to make sure, it works great in Media Composer, but how is this going to transfer into interplay asset management? You need to make sure that all that 2K, Ultra HD, 4K media is being indexed the way that it needs to be so all the editors can access it. They need to make sure that if I’m going to be sending 4K work over to Pro Tools, that the files that I’m sending get over there in one step.
Kevin McAuliffe: Again, just my own opinion, but when Avid is designing stuff, it needs to look at the bigger picture. They can’t just look at it as, “Let’s just put this into Media Composer,” because suddenly you’re going to have a system that’s, let’s say, doing 4K work at a facility but then you’re going to have another system that maybe hasn’t been upgraded yet. There are just all these different things that they needed to take into consideration when doing this. Again, just my own opinion.
Larry Jordan: Well, at least he has an opinion.
Mike Horton: Kevin does have an opinion. Kevin, I just wanted to let you know that I always watch the tutorials that you do. You put them up, what, about once a week now?
Kevin McAuliffe: Once a week, yes.
Mike Horton: The one on background animations – oh, so good. It was so good, so much fun. Good job, I loved that one. It was just so much fun.
Kevin McAuliffe: Well, thank you. Thank you.
Mike Horton: And you can find those, by the way, on PVC. I think you’ve got a Vimeo blog or on the Avid site. But anyway, Kevin puts these things out about once a week.
Kevin McAuliffe: Yes, once a week. You can actually find them on youtube.com/user/ mediacomposer101. User singular.
Mike Horton: Yes, so you can learn Media Composer for free from him, so thank you Kevin.
Kevin McAuliffe: Well, I mean, that’s something that I try to do. Really for me, the tutorials got started out at the Creative Cow, so obviously I want to give a big thanks to them because Ron Lindeboom and… gave me the freedom to do them. They said, “Avid is something that’s important that people learn,” and I did 93 tutorials for them that have had somewhere between one and a half to two million views across all their channels, and I still get people who email me every day saying, “I just watched your tutorials on the Cow and I have a question for you,” so now I try to direct them to the new site.
Kevin McAuliffe: But there are still people out there checking them out and that was version 6 of Media Composer. We’re now up to version 8.3 of Media Composer, so people are still out there finding those older tutorials.
Larry Jordan: Before I talk about how Avid interacts with other software, you started to talk about what Avid does that other NLEs can’t and you stressed how important collaboration, multiple editors working in the same project at the same time, is. Off the top of your head, what are some of the key features for you that Avid has that we can’t get from Premiere or Final Cut?
Kevin McAuliffe: That’s a good question. It’s an interesting situation that we’re in in the Avid world, because for the longest time we’ve had pretty much most of the features at our disposal that we really need. One thing that I think Avid is doing now that is interesting, it’s kind of like Adobe did with After Effects, which is with After Effects we didn’t have the greatest keyer in After Effects so instead of Adobe spending all this time to say, “Let’s develop a new keyer” they turned to I believe it’s The Foundry and they licensed Keylight to put into After Effects.
Kevin McAuliffe: It’s kind of like what they’ve done with Imagineer Systems with Mocca and what they’ve done with Cinema 4D.
Kevin McAuliffe: One thing that Avid has great support from is their partner companies, like Boris FX and other companies like that, that really give us tools in our timeline that let the guys at Avid do what the guys at Avid do and lets the team at Boris FX develop these great tools for us like, for example, it could flicker fix or it could be 3D elements, it could be all this great type of stuff, to let us fix the problems that normally editors – and don’t get me wrong, I love After Effects, I’m a huge After Effects user, but a lot of times I just need to get in and do stuff quickly in my timeline and I don’t want to be constantly sending stuff to After Effects, even though the fact that we have Pro Import After Effects, formerly Automatic Duck, inside of After Effects is fantastic, so I just export in AF with no media, they go boom, I import it, there’s all my Media Composer layers inside of After Effects in 30 seconds, which is really good.
Mike Horton: What’s the one thing in Avid that is lacking that you so want and you dream about? Is there anything?
Kevin McAuliffe: I don’t think there’s anything necessarily because, like I said, the partner companies have really stepped up and filled in a lot of the gaps. For example, we have the Marquee Title tool. I remember back in the day when the Marquee Title tool required its own dedicated workstation, the workstation alone was 25 or 30 thousand dollars and now all of that 3D titling and stuff like that can be done with effects like Boris FX’ 3D Objects or NewBlueFX’s Titler Pro. NewBlue Titler Pro covers…
Mike Horton: Yes, that’s a brilliant program.
Kevin McAuliffe: …subscription, so editors might already have some of these tools at their disposal and they don’t even realize it yet.
Mike Horton: And NewBlueFX, they do it for all the NLEs, but they do brilliant work.
Larry Jordan: Yes, they do.
Mike Horton: Their marketing team lacks.
Larry Jordan: How do you move files from Avid to DaVinci Resolve?
Kevin McAuliffe: The one thing I love about finishing in a program like Resolve is that the functionality is pretty much the same, much like in After Effects. In Resolve, we can basically take an AAF from our Media Composer timeline, whether it’s a 30 second spot or a half hour show, and export the AAF. Now, this is in HD or higher than HD, we can do all the way up to 4K.
Kevin McAuliffe: We can export an AAF, basically go into Resolve, we can link to all the media that we’ve already digitized, so this is all DNxHD or DNxHR for doing higher than HD. It all appears in Resolve to do our color grade and then we can actually render out MXF files right back to Media Composer, so that when the AAF file is exported, it’s just a link to inside of Resolve. The Resolve workflow is a really, really good solid workflow for Media Composer editors to use for color grading. It’s a fantastic tool and the great thing is that, I’d say, for most of the stuff that Media Composer editors want to do, the free option will work perfectly.
Kevin McAuliffe: The only thing they need to keep in mind is that if they happen to be doing stereoscopic, you’ve got to pay for that option, but if you happen to be doing any of the DCI resolutions, the digital cinema resolutions, that requires the full version of Resolve, so something to keep in the back of your head.
Mike Horton: Yes but, come on, it’s $999 for goodness’ sake.
Kevin McAuliffe: If you’re doing stuff for the cinema, I know, $999 is a really good deal, and it’s funny because I’m taking a look at, and of course now the program just escaped my brain and I have it sitting here beside me somewhere…
Mike Horton: Fusion.
Kevin McAuliffe: Fusion, that’s the one. What’s very cool about Fusion is that Fusion actually has a Media Composer plug-in, so you can basically, through Media Composer, drag the Fusion plug-in onto your clip, you click one button, Fusion opens, do the work you want to do, you say save and, boom, it appears in your…
Mike Horton: And as we speak they’re working on a Mac version.
Larry Jordan: That’s true.
Kevin McAuliffe: There you go. A lot of companies are starting to look, and let’s put it this way, if Media Composer was as, quote unquote, dead as some people like to say that it is, these companies wouldn’t be investing a lot of time to make these things for Media Composer. Obviously, Media Composer’s still a big market.
Mike Horton: Yes, well, thanks for all you do, Kevin. I really learn a lot from you, as does my son, who watched that same tutorial just the other day.
Larry Jordan: Kevin, where can people find the tutorials?
Kevin McAuliffe: They can find the tutorials over at youtube.com/user/mediacomposer 101 and I just want to thank the great team at Video Guys for being a sponsor, because they’ve been fantastic. Yes, they can check it out, they can subscribe to it there. We’ve only had the tutorials done for about three months…
Larry Jordan: And, Kevin, I’m going to cut you off.
Kevin McAuliffe: …and we’ve had about 20,000 viewers so far.
Larry Jordan: Kevin McAuliffe is a senior editor with Extreme Reach Toronto and an Avid community leader. Kevin, thanks for joining us today.
Kevin McAuliffe: Thanks for having me, Larry.
Mike Horton: Thanks, Kevin.
Larry Jordan: Take care. Bye bye.
Mike Horton: Stay warm.
Larry Jordan: Michael, it’s interesting listening to Kevin talk about the benefits of Avid. We spend a lot of time talking with Premiere people and with Final Cut people and it’s nice to hear the Avid folks chip in.
Mike Horton: It’s more nice to hear that he just doesn’t give a damn about the war any more, which I know you don’t either. You have your favorites, you have what your knowledge is. You don’t necessarily need to know all of them. I expect you one day to actually do webinars on Vegas Pro, but you probably won’t. But this whole thing about the war and what is best, it’s just really silly and it needs to stop.
Larry Jordan: Well, it’s like asking yourself what’s the best car or the best camera, it really is the best car for the job that you need.
Mike Horton: What is the best car, Larry?
Larry Jordan: It’s easy, Michael, are you’re driving a group of 40 school kids across country or driving sheets of plywood? Because one’s a bus and the other’s a truck.
Mike Horton: Good analogy. Good analogy. I like that. What is it? Is it a minivan or a Prius?
Larry Jordan: But we’ve got to have Kevin back, he does such a great job.
Mike Horton: Oh, he’s wonderful. He’s one of the best.
Larry Jordan: Let’s see, we had a wonderful time in London…
Mike Horton: Yes, what did we have tonight?
Larry Jordan: We had London and we had Perfectly Clear and we had…
Mike Horton: By the way, Perfectly Clear really looks cool. I’m going to download that for my iPhone, because I have this awful, awful iPhone which takes awful, awful pictures and that could make my awful pictures into perfectly clear pictures. Thank you. That was a good commercial, wasn’t it?
Larry Jordan: And look what it would do to your elephant seals.
Mike Horton: It could.
Larry Jordan: It would turn them into otters. It’d be great.
Mike Horton: Give them nice skin tone during the molting season.
Larry Jordan: Beautiful blue, yes, it’d be great. I want to thank our guests for this week: Brad Malcolm, the President of Athentech Imaging, the makers of Perfectly Clear; Rodrigo Thomaz, product and training specialist with Audio-Technica in the UK; and Kevin McAuliffe, Media Composer community leader and expert trainer and expert editor.
Larry Jordan: There’s lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Here you’ll find hundreds of past shows and thousands of interviews all searchable, all online and all available. You can talk with us on Twitter, @DPBuZZ, and Facebook, at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Our theme music is composed by Nathan Doogie Turner; additional music on The Buzz is provided by smartsound.com. Text transcripts are provided by Take 1 Transcription. You can email us at any time via our website.
Larry Jordan: Our producer is Cirina Catania. Our engineering team is lead by Megan Paulos, includes Alexia Chalida, Ed Golya, Keenan Guy and Brianna Murphy. On behalf of Mike Horton – that’s the handsome guy in a gray suit – my name is Larry Jordan…
Mike Horton: It’s blue.
Larry Jordan: …and thanks for listening…
Mike Horton: It’s dark blue.
Larry Jordan: …to The Digital Production Buzz.
Mike Horton: Goodbye, everybody.
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