Digital Production Buzz
May 14, 2015
[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]
(Click here to listen to this show.)
Mark August, President, Society of Camera Operators
Iain Richardson, CEO, Beamshare
Seth Worley, Filmmaker , Red Giant
Voiceover: Rolling. Action! Since the dawn of digital filmmaking. Authoritative. One show serves a worldwide network of media professionals. Current. Uniting industry experts. Production. Filmmakers. Post-Production and Content Creators around the planet. Distribution. 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.
Larry Jordan: Hi, my name is Larry Jordan and Mike Horton, our co-host, has the night off. We’re going to start with Mark August; he’s a veteran camera operator and filmmaker with 25 years in the US Navy as a Combat Photographer. He served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and he’s a co-founder, since he returned, of the Digital Cinema Society and currently the President of the Society of Camera Operators. There are a lot of things we’re going to talk with Mark about tonight, including, how to survive as a Combat Photographer and how to be a successful Cinematographer.
Larry Jordan: Next is Iain Richardson; he’s the CEO of Beamshare, which is a web platform for sharing and review of media files between disparate team members. Tonight, Iain tells us more about Beamshare and what makes it better than the competition.
Larry Jordan: Then we wrap up with Seth Worley; Seth is the Resident Filmmaker at visual effects software maker Red Giant. This week, he shares his secrets on what it takes to make these highly successful films go viral.
Larry Jordan: The big news for right now is that, today, Apple released an upgrade to Final Cut Pro 10.2.1; it’s now the 10.2.1 release and fixes a problem that a lot of folks were running into. If you were shooting 25p or 30p AVCHD, when you loaded it to the timeline your images went black; which is frustrating if you’ve got lots and lots of video to work with. Well the update fixes the AVCHD problem. If you shoot a frame like 24, not a problem, but 25 and 30 would cause stuff to go black; this new upgrade fixes it. It also fixes the problem where Final Cut would crash when you tried to launch it from the doc.
Larry Jordan: Upgrades for Final Cut are free; they’re available from the Mac App Store; all you have to do is go to the App Store and go into products that you’ve purchased and re-download it. It will automatically erase the 10.2 version, replace it with the 10.2.1 version and you’re back and good to go. Hopefully this fixes the problem that I was getting a lot of emails about, which is the problems with AVCHD at the 25p and 30p frame rates.
Larry Jordan: We’re actually celebrating here in the studio, well not in the studio but in the office; it’s been raining the last couple of hours and we’re looking at it like it was Oobleck falling from the sky. It’s kind of unusual and we’re trying to figure out what this stuff is that’s falling down, rather than the ground… But dryness is not something I have to worry about for this show; we’ve got a great group of guests and I’m looking forward to sharing some of their stories with you.
Larry Jordan: Remember, you can read text transcripts for each show, courtesy of Take 1 Transcription. Transcripts are located on each show page; you can learn more at Take1.tv and thanks Take 1 for making it possible. Remember to visit us on Facebook, at digitalproducctionbuzz.com; we’re also on Twitter @DPBuZZ and subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com. It comes out every Friday and gives you an inside look at both our show and the industry.
Larry Jordan: I’m going to be right back with Mark August, right after this.
Larry Jordan: I’ve got a ton of brand new training videos, showcasing all the new features in Final Cut Pro 10.2 and they’re all available today. In fact, we’ve updated our entire Final Cut training for this release; we added more than 70 new movies covering every major and minor new feature in the software. Then, I figured, as long as I was recording, I added new techniques and new ways of working, that I’ve discovered and written about in my newsletter over the years. We’ve updated our workflow and editing training with 31 new movies and effects with 41 new movies. This makes our Final Cut training the most comprehensive, most up-to-date and most affordable way to learn everything about this amazing software. It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s complete.
Larry Jordan: I’m proud of all of my training and especially proud of this one. Get your copy today in our store at larryjordan.com or, even better, become a member of our video training library and get access to all of our training; for one low monthly price. Both are incredible values. Thanks.
Larry Jordan: Mark August is a veteran camera operator and a filmmaker with 25 years in the US Navy as a Combat Photographer. He’s a veteran of the Desert Storm War in 1991 and the Global War on Terrorism in Afghanistan. He’s now retired, but was a member of the Navy Dive Unit, Undersea Rescue Command; the US Navy’s only submarine rescue unit and retired from the Navy just a couple of months ago. He’s a current member of the Camera Guild Local 600, founding member of the Digital Cinema Society; veterans in film and television and currently President of the Society of Camera Operators.
Larry Jordan: That’s just way too much stuff Mark. Congratulations. Welcome. Good to have you with us.
Mark August: Well thank you for allowing me to be here and allowing the SFC to be here.
Larry Jordan: Well, once I read your résumé I had to chat with you; I mean, what got you started as a Combat Photographer?
Mark August: Personally it was meeting my Mother’s employer and he was a Combat Photographer in the army and he would share all these amazing images and photography just became something to elaborate on drawing and art, that I enjoyed doing the most and then just learning that all this composition was part of art. I never thought it would take me to where I’m at. I never realized that.
Larry Jordan: Was it the photography that appealed to you or the combat?
Mark August: You know, being as small as I am, in my stature; I’m only five, five and just I loved physical sports. The photography was fun because I got to be creative and express myself through that. A lot of Cinematographers, people that are in the industry, they like to be creative and that’s something I’m always inspired to be.
Larry Jordan: Now you were in it for 25 years.
Mark August: Yes, didn’t think I would be in that long; I’ll be honest.
Larry Jordan: What was it that caught your attention? Why so long?
Mark August: You know, to be a Navy Photographer was to me an honor; it was not easy. Every time I turned around I’d meet a sailor that wanted to have my job; and every time I got an assignment I got to go and meet new people in the Navy or the Army and they would learn that there are photographers in the military. I found myself looking back and saying, I’m really lucky; I’m really lucky to have this opportunity to serve my country and to have that job description and represent the Navy; or just represent our Armed Forces.
Larry Jordan: Well cast your mind back 25 years, first gig on the job; what kind of gear were you shooting?
Mark August: Wow. You know, first job I really was given, I was on the USS Midway, which is now an Aircraft Carrier Museum in San Diego and Mr Johnson, our Lieutenant, he had just bought a brand new Nikon FM2; brand new camera. Had it in a box. He took a shining to me, I was the new guy and that’s putting it lightly. I got to go film the Battle of Midway’s anniversary with the Commanding Officer, for the little magazine that they published on the ship; so the photography that I took was going to be in the magazine, so that it’s part of the ship’s history. My photograph made it in that magazine.
Mark August: That was my first assignment and I just remembered the basics; basic composition of shooting. It was film and everybody said it was a great job. It was being cut by the Commanding Officer of the ship. That’s one of my first real assignments.
Larry Jordan: The gear’s changed since then, we’ve moved from film to digital and the cameras seem to evolve at a dizzying pace; but has the work changed? How is being a Combat Photographer? Think about the time that you were in Iraq or Afghanistan; was the process of shooting different?
Mark August: The process of shooting. You know, it’s changed with digital, everything became instant; so you took some footage, if you filmed it, and, you know, my supervisors in the military wanted it immediately and we had it downloaded and would create our dailies. Send those off to our supervisors to make sure they’re captioned right. We were constantly working against the clock and that was the hardest part, you know, when you’re watching, trying to beat the time, and then going back out and do it again.
Larry Jordan: Now why was the clock so important? What deadlines were you meeting?
Mark August: Well, because of, you know, the digital age; now that, you know, we’re coming into the 90s and going into 2000. Everything was instant and before we didn’t have to do that; we could download our film, process it.
Larry Jordan: No, I understand that, but what were you delivering the photographs to? I mean, you’re not a news organization; who was the consumer?
Mark August: No. You know, a lot of times we weren’t told what our images were being used for, but you’d have these meetings with our chiefs telling us, you know, some of the work that we’ve done has gone all the way to the top, you know, at the Pentagon or to the President himself. Just keep doing what you’re doing and try not to focus on what your images are going to be used for, but just focus on your job. That kept us kind of grounded.
Larry Jordan: So, like, you were shooting and you had no idea who was seeing the pictures?
Mark August: Oh, I knew who my supervisors were sending it to, but I didn’t ask a lot of questions and it was difficult; because sometimes you knew where it was going to go or what it was used for, but it wasn’t my place to tell the people why I was taking photographs or filming something or recording.
Larry Jordan: Let’s go back to Afghanistan, when you were there. What was a typical assignment?
Mark August: From myself there, I was with Navy Special Warfare, which was the SEAL teams and for public relations. Just showing the conditions of the base; back then, it was just considered a tent city. It was very brief. Then a few patrols. That’s pretty much all I can talk about. It was just more public relations and showing the conditions and I think later on I saw images and didn’t recognize the base.
Larry Jordan: Were you ever in a dangerous situation that you were shooting?
Mark August: I did, I did some dumb things by not paying attention or I’d walk into a field of grass not realizing it was a live minefield. You know, bad decisions, but, you know, we all kind of made some dumb things. But I think the most important thing was learning from the senior guys that were there just before me or only been in the country a little while and watching what they do and paying attention and you learn real fast.
Larry Jordan: You retired in March and you’ve been involved in the filmmaking in the military for 25 years. Now you’re trying to make it as a veteran into the film industry as a civilian. What’s it like to make that transition?
Mark August: Well, in 1993 I left the Navy full time and I went to the reserves; so I’ve been a Reserve Combat Photographer, just for clarification. The first time I tried to get into the industry, I just hit a lot of brick walls. Lucky for me, a gentleman by the name of Harry Humphries, who was a Technical Advisor, who is good friends with Michael Bay, needed a photographer for a film that they had just started working on called Transformers. I got involved with that through Harry Humphries, because of the SEAL teams and that just went onto going into Panavision, working there for five years as a technician in high definition and that transitioned into going into the union; still staying in the reserves while I was there.
Mark August: Had some assignments with North Korea for a month, took some time off from my real job at Panavision to go work for the military and just continued to grow my résumé.
Larry Jordan: One of the things that you’ve done, combat photography, you’ve done camera operation and you’ve also been a Cinematographer. How do you differentiate between them? What makes them different?
Mark August: In my point of view, Cinematographers are your leaders on a crew and they’re management; they’re managing not just people but a production’s money and looking at budgets and how much gear is going to cost and what gear they need to order and communicating that with the Director. It become a leadership role, on top of lighting. There’s many things that they’re doing; they’re handling the Camera Department, of course, the Grip Department and Electric Department. The cinematographer is involved in a very important role on a production.
Larry Jordan: You’re really differentiating the Cinematographer as a manager, where I traditionally thought of the Cinematographer as the person who handles the lighting and the look. There’s a big different between the two.
Mark August: There is a big difference, but when that one person’s in charge of it, they collaborate with all the key players for those departments. Your Cinematographer is working with his Camera Operator and his First AC in the Camera Department. In the Grip Department he’s working on his Key Grip; you know, he’s talking to them about lighting, you know, in the Electric Department; so it’s a collaboration and it’s a team effort. It’s not a one person that’s doing all the work. When you hear Cinematographers giving praise to their crew, it’s because, without them they can’t do their jobs. It’s no different from the Camera Operator working with his crew and making sure that we all communicate correctly and then communicating with our grips.
Larry Jordan: Tell me what the role of the Camera Operator is then?
Mark August: The role of our Camera Operator, from my experience, has been working with the Director and looking at the composition of what the Director wants and then communicating that with the Director of Photography or the Cinematographer and working with the composition. It’s back to photography and, at the same time, you’re communicating with your crew that’s working with you; your Dolly Grip, when you’re going to do a push-in. Again, you’re managing the people that you’re working closely with and it just becomes a collaboration.
Larry Jordan: Clearly, with smaller films that don’t have the ability to have both the Camera Operator and a Cinematographer, all these roles roll into one. But on a larger production, the Camera Op is more concerned about framing and the Cinematographer’s more concerned about the light inside the frame; if you exclude the management role?
Mark August: Correct to a certain extent.
Larry Jordan: How would you clarify it?
Mark August: I’ll give you an example. I was on an NBC show and the Director of Photography was an award-winning Cinematographer and he’s Australian and he asked me a question and he said, “Mark, what do you think?” And I said, “Well why don’t we start on a Cowboy and push into a Warner Brothers?” And he says, “I love it.” And then later on he says, “Why don’t we do a three T’s and go into a Haircut?” And the crew would have no idea what we were talking about.
Mark August: Again, what it was, was the Cinematographer was giving direction on how he wanted the framing and they had already talked about that with the Director; so it was quite funny. Because later on the Director was saying, he learned what the Haircut meant, for framing and he said, “Let’s go with the Haircut and go back to Cowboy” and everybody was like, what is going on with, you know, all these terms? The other people on the crew had no idea what we were talking about. The funny part was, I remember the Director saying, “Let’s push into a Haircut” and then the First AD screamed, “We’re going to a Haircut” and I thought to myself, why is he saying that? That’s all towards the Camera Operator. But it was funny, because the whole crew was thinking, what’s going on with Haircuts and Cowboys?
Mark August: Again, it was all framing. All those terms are framing for the Camera Operator. Yes, there is a big collaboration with everybody. It’s interesting how we all work together and when you work well with others and you start communicating, that makes it so much fun.
Larry Jordan: Well it’s also interesting how people love to have jargon; they love to have a secret language, that includes them and excludes others; just as what was happening between you and the Cinematographer and Director. You had your own secret language to sort of shortcut to how you were going to explain stuff.
Mark August: Yes and that’s fun because, in the Society of Camera Operators, which I’m currently the President, we teach these things; we teach these classes and we help others learn the language. For example, what a Cowboy is, I’ll explain that.
Larry Jordan: Please, because I’m dying of curiosity.
Mark August: Okay. When Westerns were being made, the Cinematographers would frame up so that you could see the bottom of the guns on the cowboy; so when they would frame it up, they would pull back the camera so you can see the bottom of the guns or see the guns; so that you can tell that cowboy had weapons on him. That’s the framing you would start on.
Larry Jordan: That’s Cowboy framing.
Mark August: That’s the Cowboy framing; so it would just kind of look a medium shot. Then if you wanted to push in where it was nice and tight, you would actually give the person a Haircut and Warner Brothers was famous for giving their actors Haircuts.
Larry Jordan: Now the Haircut refers to?
Mark August: To a real tight shot where it actually looked like they were cutting off their bangs. With those terminologies you can communicate and not confuse the camera operator on what the shot wants from the Director or the Cinematographer; and they can say, hey push into a Cowboy or give me a little bit of a Haircut or not too much of a Haircut. With those terms, it makes it easier for the Cameraman. Those are simple things.
Larry Jordan: Well it’s much easier and more fun to say Cowboy and Haircut than close-up and wide shot.
Mark August: Oh, I remember working on ‘Revenge’ and Cynthia Pushek, our Director of Photography was calling out saying, “Where are at? Where’s my T stop?” And I’m, “We’re fully open at a 28 and let’s go to a four” and one of the actors says, “What’s with all the numbers; what does this mean?” And so, you know, it was just communication on set and we’re all counting fours and twos and a 28. It was funny because, we’re yelling it out in the middle of the crew and the crew’s going, “What’s with these numbers?” It doesn’t always have to be the lingo but could be the apertures of the camera; so that’s where we were talking about apertures. Because she was looking at the lighting for that scene.
Larry Jordan: Now you are the President of the Society of Camera Operators. Tell me about the organization; what does it do?
Mark August: Absolutely. The organization started in 1979, it was a group of Camera Operators that wanted more training for Camera Operators; just like we’re talking about with these terms. At the time there was no organization. The Cinematographers had an organization, on top of the union having it. The unions would have classes on certain aspects but specifically Camera Operators. In 1979, a group of gentlemen started this organization and they developed it into a non-profit; our non-profit benefits the Children’s Hospital Vision Center and they’ve been raising money since. We’re at 184,000 total given to Children’s Hospital.
Larry Jordan: Wow.
Mark August: That’s donated and it’s been from men and women donating their time, as a volunteer, just like myself, to give back to a charity. We do charity events; we have a big fundraiser.
Larry Jordan: But you haven’t told me what the organization does; let’s focus on the organization, not the results.
Mark August: Sure. We give classes. We’ve had a Bill Hynes course; he’s one of our founding members and we have a 101 course. Bill Hynes teaching camera operating from a basic step.
Larry Jordan: Why does somebody need to join the organization? I mean, there’s a Guild of Camera Operators, doesn’t the union provide this sort of training as well?
Mark August: They do provide the training but not as hands on as what we’d started to provide. How to use wheels, which is your gear heads; which is different from a fluid head and that’s the base of the camera. How to use that. How to use pedestals. How to do a sitcom. Communicating with our Grips and working with dollies. I teach an underwater class that’s every two years; teaching underwater with a great Cinematographer by the name of Pete Romano. If you look him up, you’d just be amazed at some of the things that he’s accomplished and he’ll help and teach and give us tips on how to film underwater. For example, putting a tennis ball on the end of a pole, putting that right below the surface and focusing on the tennis ball. Then the actor can see where he or she needs to jump in the water, just before they remove the pole; so when the actor enters the water, the camera’s already in focus.
Mark August: Those are little tips you would never have known if it wasn’t for these courses and collaborating with other Cinematographers or Camera Operators to talk about these courses and classes. We provide those all for free, without any extra costs. Then the most important thing, recently was, we’ve re-developed our magazine. Our articles for Camera Operator Magazine, which is the name of the magazine, is written by articles for Camera Operators by Camera Operators. They’re all volunteers; there’s no writing staff.
Mark August: For example, this month we had one from the ‘Walking Dead,’ we’ve been working with Colin Anderson, SOC, he’s one of our active members and he’s currently working with our Editor for the new ‘Star Wars’ film; he was the Camera Operator for the film coming out in late December.
Larry Jordan: Now, who can become a member and who can get the magazines? Do you have to be a member of the union? Can it be an independent filmmaker?
Mark August: Well that’s the great thing about the organization, it’s not a union; you do not have to be in the union, it’s not a qualification. We have three tiers of membership, which would be our active. Any Camera Operator that’s been actively involved for five years of camera operating experience. Then we have our associates and that’s our Camera Assistants; our First ACs, Seconds, Directors of Photography, our DITs; we now have Producers. Then we have our student members and then we have our honorary members; so some of our honorary members would be Mr Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Penny Marshall. They’ve all become members of our organization.
Larry Jordan: If an independent filmmaker wants to join the organization, can they and how?
Mark August: Yes. Actually, if you wanted to join, you can go to our website. It’s soc.org and if you go into membership you can apply. From there you’ll get our magazines. We have screenings during award seasons, all the training classes. We have a barbecue once a year that’s coming up this weekend. Go to all these event and learn about cameras and find out how you can become a Camera Operator professionally. Network with some really big names in our industry.
Mark August: For example, I’ve got to become friends with, you know, Stephen Campanelli; he’s a current member and active member and he only works with Clint Eastwood and he’s just directed his second major film. He’s moving up to Director. Colin Anderson, I just mentioned, has just finished ‘Star Wars’ they’re all members. Gentlemen like Dan Gold; Dan Gold is an amazing Camera Operator and works on some of the greatest comedy films. I was asking about ‘Ted 2.’ You know, he’s worked on some great films. ‘Hangover 1’ and talking with him. Mitch Dubin, he works with Steven Spielberg.
Larry Jordan: How much does membership cost?
Mark August: Our membership goes off the two tiers. We have our student members are at $35 a year and that would include your magazine and the training, for our students, because it’s affordable for them; especially since they are in school. Then we have our associate members and that’s $100 a year. Then we go up to 150 for our active. It’s very inexpensive to join; you have to be sponsored. We collaborate a network together as a group.
Larry Jordan: Now what does the word sponsored mean very quickly?
Mark August: If I were asking you to sponsor me, say you wanted to be in the organization, in your application I would put my name down as your sponsor. The purpose of that is, so we have any questions to ask about your affiliations with any organizations or some of your skill set, we can go back to the sponsor, if you’re not available to talk to.
Larry Jordan: Mark the website again for the organization is?
Mark August: The organization is www.soc.org.
Larry Jordan: That’s soc.org and Mark August is the President of the Society for Camera Operators. Mark, thanks for joining us.
Mark August: Thank you for having me.
Larry Jordan: Iain Richardson is the CEO and founder of Beamshare. This is a web based video review platform that soft launched last year; but essentially it’s brand new to the marketplace. Iain, thanks for joining us today.
Iain Richardson: Thank you very much for having me.
Larry Jordan: How would you describe Beamshare?
Iain Richardson: So, as you said, it’s a simple way to get media files out to people who need to review them, comment on them, collaborate on them. For example, our customers are using it to get drafts and final versions to corporate clients or Executive Producers who need to review the material and put in their comments and kind of collaborate on it.
Larry Jordan: Well I can think of any number of web based video review platforms; why did you decide to create Beamshare?
Iain Richardson: We’ve gone for something that we think meets a need for our customers; which is something that’s really simple to use, it’s particularly designed for when you need to get material to somebody outside of the edit suite, who’s maybe not so technically literate; and we wanted to make it very simple, very quick and very easy to use. We think we’ve got possibly the simplest platform that’s out there.
Larry Jordan: I’m reminded of other CEOs I’ve talked to who always say that “We’ve designed this to be easy to use.” How would you differentiate yourself from the competition, as they’re looking at some of the other platforms that are out there? What makes you special?
Iain Richardson: For example, if you wanted to get a clip out to somebody, you can go to our website, you’d put in the clip, your email, their email, click send; that’ll take you about 20 seconds and then our system does it trick. You both get a link to review it and it just works, whether you’re on a PC, a Mac or a tablet. Very, very simple; so there’s no training, there’s no start-up time. One of our customers described to us recently, as you go further up the management chain, for instance, in broadcasting, interest in technical stuff goes way down; so it has to be simple, it has to be quick. That’s kind of what we’re focusing on.
Larry Jordan: Let’s walk through the process. Let’s say that I’ve created a file and let’s say that I’m a small production company as opposed to a studio and I need to be able to get this out to the client who’s located geographically somewhere else. What’s my process of getting that file, so that it becomes as easy as sending a link? Because clearly we’ve got to transfer the file somewhere don’t we?
Iain Richardson: Sure, you simply select the file on your PC or Mac or whatever you’re using, you put in the email address of the person it’s going to, you put in a comment if you want to; you know, explain what it’s about and you just click send. Then Beamshare will upload the file, it’ll process it, it’ll make it ready for whatever platform the receiver is on; whether it’s, you know, mobile, IOS, android; whatever they need they get in a very simple form. That just works away, depending on your upload connection; it might take a little bit of time; so it’s as fast as your connection.
Larry Jordan: Okay but wait a second. Email generally has a five to ten megabyte file limit, which means that I’ve got to then compress that file down to five meg to be able to email it? Or, how is Beamshare getting the file from my system, say I’ve got a 70 gig master file that they need to review?
Iain Richardson: Sure. Beamshare works through a webpage; so you’re not really emailing the file, you’re going to our webpage; it’s an online system. Go into our webpage and you’re basically putting the filename and your email into a form and then it’s a browser based application that is uploading the file. Then our application will send out a link to you and your client or your colleague.
Larry Jordan: So I’m not putting the email address in an email program, I’m putting it into a browser interface and behind the scenes the browser’s grabbing the master file.
Iain Richardson: Exactly.
Larry Jordan: Is there a file format that you prefer, that works best with this? I’m sure uploading a 70 gig file would, for most people, be a little bit time-consuming.
Iain Richardson: We’ll handle whatever format you give us, but you’re quite right that if you’re, for instance, a small company with a not very fast broadband connection, you’d probably want to provide a file that’s a manageable size; simply because it’s going to be quicker to upload over your connection. We can’t really control that. Then what’s also good about it is that, the person at the other end doesn’t download the file, they just simply get another web interface with a play button and an easy way to put in comments and, you know, add their feedback.
Larry Jordan: Are the comments synched to timecode or can they see timecode if they’re interested?
Iain Richardson: Yes. The comments are actually in the timeline; so if I put in a comment at three minutes 20 seconds, then that will appear with a little colored marker that identifies where it is. Also it will have my name against it, so, what some of our customers find is that, they might have many people involved; there might be six different people who need to see this and leave their comments. Kind of a benefit we didn’t quite expect is that everyone gets to see each other’s comments; so you tend to get a consensus. If the first person says they don’t like, you know, this scene; the second person will at least see that, so they can kind of get their thoughts inline, without having to go round and round on email chains and lots of catch-up calls.
Larry Jordan: Now we’ve reviewed the video, how do we assemble all the comments back to deliver them to the Editor, so they can make changes?
Iain Richardson: You know, everyone involved gets to see this list of comments, colored coded against the timeline; so the editor would typically just work from that and just make sure everything’s done. You know, then there’s usually like a loop, isn’t there, where you collect all the comments, you make the changes; then they could upload a new version. One thing we do is we provide a way to put everything in a folder; so you can have first draft, second draft, final version. You can also put documents in there, which is quite handy if you’ve got the original project spec that says, there’s only going to be two drafts, so if you want a third draft you’re going to have to renegotiate the contract. You might put the script in there. You know, collect everything together and, again, the whole idea is to get away from these big chains of emails that are quite difficult to handle and quite time-consuming.
Larry Jordan: How long have you spent developing this?
Iain Richardson: It’s been about two, two and a half years; so yes, quite a process and a lot of work and a lot of discussions with potential customers to get it in the form it is now.
Larry Jordan: What was the hardest part of the development process?
Iain Richardson: In the early days it was getting any video file watchable on any device; so, you know, doing all the work behind the scenes to produce. Whether it’s different versions or to make it streamable. You know, we want the people involved, the Editor and their client to not have to think too much about that; just upload a file and we do the rest of it. That was the hard part in the early stage.
Iain Richardson: Later on, I think, it’s not so much the hard part but the interesting part has been getting people to use the early versions of Beamshare and then visiting them and looking at their workflows and then fine tuning what we do to try and make their workflows as simple as possible; just to save them time. Kind of understanding the customers, understanding, you know, what’s important to them.
Larry Jordan: How is the system priced?
Iain Richardson: You can use it for free and a lot of people do and we just place a limit on the amount that you can actually have stored on our online system; because we obviously pay for that. Then for customers who want to store more material or share more with multiple clients, we just charge a monthly subscript.
Larry Jordan: Is the subscription price based on the amount of material stored or the amount transmitted or the number of clients? How are you pricing that?
Iain Richardson: We keep it quite simple; so you can store 100 gigabytes of material and you pay, it’s £15 a month, because I’m based in the UK, which is about $21-22 a month. Some of our customers might have multiple team members; so we have a team subscription as well.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information about Beamshare, where can they go on the web?
Iain Richardson: Beamshare.com, very simple; and you’ll see right on the front page a little form; put a file in, put an email address in and you can start reviewing within seconds.
Larry Jordan: That web address is beamshare.com and Iain Richardson is the founder and CEO of Beamshare. Iain, thanks for joining us for that.
Iain Richardson: Thank you very much Larry, it’s been a pleasure talking to you.
Larry Jordan: Seth Worley is the Resident Filmmaker at visual effects software, Red Giant and the Director and Writer of short films, branded content and commercials for clients like J. J Abrams, Bad Robot Production, Leo Burnett, Steve Taylor, The Perfect Foil and more. He lives and works in Nashville, Tennessee. Hello Seth, welcome back.
Seth Worley: Hey, thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: It’s always a delight having you. I mean, the stuff that you do is incredible and I want to steal all your secrets so I can do it myself; so thanks so much for being on the show.
Seth Worley: Oh man, thanks Larry.
Larry Jordan: When did you first realize you wanted to be a filmmaker?
Seth Worley: How far back do you want me to go?
Larry Jordan: How far back is the answer?
Seth Worley: 1993 we discovered ‘Jurassic Park.’ I took every family member I had one at a time, so I could see it as many times as possible. It worked and I found that I was watching the person I brought way more often than I was watching the movie. Kind of taking credit for their entertainment experience and, like, aren’t you grateful that I brought you ‘Jurassic Park?’ It’s kind of that feeling I’ve been chasing ever since.
Larry Jordan: I was just thinking, I love watching the reaction of audiences to stuff that I create and see when they fall asleep and when they’re getting excited about it; so I can understand why that triggers. You’re responsible for that emotional response, even if Steven Spielberg created the movie. You’re the reason they’re sitting there watching the movie, so you get credit for that.
Seth Worley: Absolutely. It’s also responsibility, yes.
Larry Jordan: Yes, because if they hate the movie it’s your fault.
Seth Worley: It’s all on you, yes.
Larry Jordan: What was the first film you made and who saw it?
Seth Worley: Oh wow. I like to think there are several first films. Like there was one I made in seventh grade, using those Taco Bell eyeball straws that they released, as this marketing thing, called ‘Eyes of the Invasion’ and no-one saw that except my parents and my brothers. Then in high school I made a film called ‘Try Hard’ that was exactly what it sounds like; it was a parody of ‘Die Hard’ that all my friends’ saw.
Seth Worley: But the real thing for me was when I started being allowed to make videos for my youth group at church and simultaneously for my TV production class in high school. At school we had a cable access channel; we were required to make programming for this cable access channel and our teacher took it very seriously. Then in the youth group I had to make this weekly narrative content, because I offered to do it and had to stick to it; and every night it would play for this audience. Having an audience really helped me learn the dangers of self-indulgence very quickly and very early on. Just because it’s entertaining to you, it doesn’t mean it’s entertaining to other people. All the secrets of keeping people’s attention.
Seth Worley: Unfortunately, every job I’ve had since, it’s been making stuff for something that has a built-in audience already; whether it be the software company I’m at right now that has a built-in customer base already and one that we build through our films, or before this job, when I was doing convention and conference programming. These people paid to be at conferences already and they were forced to sit and watch my videos; so I didn’t have to go find the audience. Having that audience was the biggest education.
Larry Jordan: Why is it an education? Go into that in just a little bit of a tale. What do you learn from watching the audience?
Seth Worley: I mean, you learn what’s working and what’s not. I mean, just like you said, if people aren’t enjoying the movie it’s your fault; so you learn from just sitting in the crowd or sitting behind the stage and seeing when people are laughing and when they’re not laughing. You hear the gasps. You just feel it in the room when people are getting it or when they’re not. The more you can do that, the better you get, I believe. So many people can make things in a bubble and be convinced that what they’re doing is great and never grow; because they never have to experience the horrible feeling of making something that doesn’t work and having people respond to that; you know what I mean?
Larry Jordan: That gets to an interesting point. A lot of filmmakers, especially for short films, are using YouTube for distribution and I say nothing bad about YouTube, but you don’t get any audience feedback. It’s like you’re broadcasting and nobody’s responding. How can you learn from a situation like that?
Seth Worley: You know, that’s something I’m learning. My job at Red Giant, I work from home, ultimately; you know, I have worked with a crew, worked shooting things but, you know, Aharon Rabinowitz, who is the Head of Marketing at Red Giant, my Executive Producer on my films, he lives and works in New York City; most of Red Giant is based out of Portland. I work remotely and I experience that every day; it’s that feeling of, you send it out there and you either get positive responses back or you get indifference and it’s very hard to learn that way.
Seth Worley: I don’t actually have a clear answer to that. You can find, sometimes, when something’s not working, based on people will type super negative comments on YouTube and you’ll have to kind of figure out, what is it they didn’t like here? Behind all their profanity, like, what is it that’s really, you know, going on? You know, for me, I try to show it to people in person, as often as possible, because people can lie to you in an email and they can lie to you in comments; even after they’re watching, they can turn a lie to your face. When they watching, they can’t lie with how they’re reacting; there’s the look in their eyes. I try to show stuff to people in person and weirdly, creepily stare at them as much as possible while they watch it.
Larry Jordan: I want to talk for a minute about one of the films you’ve created which is ‘Spy vs. Guy’ which is on your website. By the way, your website is sethworley.com; you’ve also got films on redgiant.com. But I went to sethworley and for people that haven’t had a chance, you’ve got a number of your short films posted. I was watching ‘Spy vs. Guy’ and it starts as this classic thriller, at night; rainy streets, Washington. How can you not love a scene that starts like that. All of a sudden, about half way through, the Keystone Cops break out and you’ve got guys in ZZ Top beards waving homeless signs and all of a sudden the pizza guy is in dire straits of being chased, because he’s got a quarter in his pocket. How do you balance drama versus comedy and how do you make that transition and have the audience still stay with you, when you’re going from a serious political thriller to ‘Roadrunner.’
Seth Worley: Well I appreciate you implying that I’ve been successful in that. For me, I always approach it seriously. My brother Ben scores all of my films and acts in the majority of them as well, and I remember he turned in the music for one scene for ‘Plot Device,’ it was the 80s action buddy cop sequence. He had this theme that just felt totally wrong. I said, “Buddy, what?” He said, “Oh this is funny.” I said, “No, no, no, no, your job doing the music is not to be funny.” Like it’s actually none of our jobs to be funny; we have to treat this like we really think it’s ‘Die Hard’ like we have to score this thing like it’s completely a real action film and the comedy will happen on its own.
Seth Worley: That’s kind of been my approach all along is, you know, ‘Spy vs. Guy’ really, really is dangerous because I catch myself in the middle of production, I get bummed and I’m like, oh I’m not really making a 1970s conspiracy thriller, like I’m making a comedy ultimately. But I have to always operate under the idea that I’m really making a serious film within that genre. The jokes are going to be acted out, they’re going to happen. They’re situation based jokes and if we play them like jokes then they’ll fall flat; but if we play them like real cinematic moments, then I think that’s when they have the most impact.
Larry Jordan: One of the things that I was struck by is the very limited amount of dialogue; your jokes are visual jokes, it’s the contrast of the t-shirt pizza guy with the homeless veteran with the beard that goes down to his belt. How are you setting that up so it’s funny and yet treating it seriously? That strikes me as a very fine line to walk.
Seth Worley: It is, it is a fine line to walk. On ‘Spy vs. Guy’ for example, I know that we looked at the genre that we were playing in, which was, you know, the 1970s conspiracy; you know, ‘The Day of the Jackal’ was the biggest reference for me on that film. In that genre they use zoom lenses, like a kid who just got a zoom lens for Christmas. It’s ridiculous and it’s such a kitschy thing to do nowadays. You don’t see it very often. Like, people actually move the camera nowadays; but back then they would just zoom, non-stop and so we did that a lot.
Seth Worley: In our production design, we always try to focus on what feels real and what’s serious. Well, like I said, what often looks real is the funniest. I mean, I don’t know how to explain it. I think it’s just wild goofy people trying to make serious things and I think I know that. Maybe there’s fear that if we actually try to make something serious one day it would just be ridiculous and stupid and funny. People would think it was a comedy. Maybe I’m just playing on that to our strengths.
Larry Jordan: In other words, when you’re serious you’re still funny.
Seth Worley: Yes, you can’t help it.
Larry Jordan: One of the other things I was wondering about is, so many of your videos have had massive views on YouTube; they’ve been really successful. Do you plan a video to go viral? Do you plan for something to make tripwires on YouTube and have it go through the roof?
Seth Worley: Oh man, you want it to. I mean, nobody makes something and is hoping that, you know, 15 people see it. You make something and you want a million people to see it. There’s strategy to it, there’s all kinds of ways to go about it; I would even tell you that if it’s good it will find an audience, but sometimes it just doesn’t. One of my favorite shorts we did was a short called ‘Form 17’ we made to promote PluralEyes and that was a very dialogue heavy but very character driven short that I’m still to this day very proud of and it did not find a maker.
Seth Worley: I think it has everything to do with luck; it’s just time of day, time of the year that you release it, what else is out there. I mean we released our last film, ‘Old/New’ narrated by Patton Oswalt; we had Patton Oswalt, we thought we were going to get millions of views and we’re still struggling towards that million dollar thing. You know, for a lot of reasons, one of them being a ‘Power Rangers’ related short film was released like two days after that got millions of views. You know, it’s like, when something like that’s out there it immediately takes up the attention and understandably so; so I think it’s just luck.
Larry Jordan: Caesar, who’s on our live chat, is agreeing with you in terms of playing it straight. He says, “That’s exactly what the Director of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter said; they had to play it straight” he writes, “if they made jokes it wasn’t going to work”, although, perhaps that movie wasn’t meant to be funny; so you never know with these sort of things.
Seth Worley: Exactly. That’s a great example.
Larry Jordan: Put your Red Giant hat on. I know you’re the Resident Filmmaker for Red Giant. When you’re planning a film, when do you start to work in effects and do you design a film for a specific effect? Because clearly Red Giant wants you to showcase what you can do with their products. How much of your filmmaking is driven by the effects that you’ve got access to?
Seth Worley: Our best films are always the ones that start with the product. For example, on ‘Old/New’ our last short, Magic Bullet suite was going to have a considerable upgrade and one of the main features was in the plug-in called Magic Bullet Film, which emulated old film stock, real film stocks. Our conversation started with that. It was, okay we have a plug-in that it’s technology that we’ve created to simulate old technology. What are the themes inherent in this? We start with, okay, what visually could we do here and if there’s nothing overtly visual to do, is there something thematic related to this that we could do and then tie the visuals back in?
Seth Worley: Through those conversations we came to put this idea of a guy obsessed with brand new things and then he discovers that old things are actually great. He liked old whisky and old reclaimed wood and old records are fantastic; and then he takes it too far and he’s like old bananas are okay and old plumbing is nice. Then he takes it so far that he’s living in a cave with a skeleton and he has no communication with the outside world, because he’s taken things so antiquated. We just thought that’s great, it’s a great way to play up this cultural idea that like pictures don’t look finished until they look worse and older and that old things are better than new things.
Seth Worley: Through that process we were able to actually visually show this by having the look of the film become more older and older as we go into these older film stocks, as it goes on, showcasing the variety of looks that Magic Bullet Film can accomplish. The worst ones are the ones where I have a cool idea and we just find the closest possible product we can plug-in there.
Larry Jordan: Well you got your start with effects with little eyeballs on sticks.
Seth Worley: Little eyeballs on sticks.
Larry Jordan: It boggles the imagination right there. What is it about effects that fascinate you?
Seth Worley: I love the quote from John Lasseter, where he said that “Art challenges the technology and technology inspires the art.” My favorite Director is probably Robert Zemeckis; I grew up the most influenced by his work; specifically ‘Back to the Future,’ ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit,’ ‘Forrest Gump.’ You know, those movies prove that like visual effects are not all about robots and dinosaurs and, you know, the big spectacle; it’s even about just the spectacled story itself.
Seth Worley: You know, it’s just problem solving. Visual effects are such a creative form that involves such an interesting amount of problem solving. It’s problem solving and the idea of creating an illusion for people and showing people something that they can’t see every day or that they may not be expecting.
Larry Jordan: But it seems to me, you know, you couldn’t pick a better film to be a fan of than ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit.’ That film, you don’t see a single effect; the rabbit is real, Jessica is real and it’s of course their interacting with Bob Hoskins. What to me is, is the effect it became invisible; you couldn’t tell the story without the effect. But the effect is not something you pay attention to, of course the curtains move when a rabbit moves past it; you don’t even notice it. As opposed to a lot of things where, how big you can blow it up or how big an explosion you have sort of gets in the way of the story, this, they can’t tell the story without the effect. It seems to me that you’ve got something just like that in mind.
Seth Worley: I think the thing that solidified the magic of making movies to me was the making of Roger Rabbit; seeing where the weasels come into Eddie Valiant’s office and they’re carrying around live action guns; they’re animated weasels carrying live action guns. Their raw footage is just an invisible man movie; it’s these floating guns walking around that are being hung by strings and then Bob Hoskins has stiff handcuffs on his hand, so where Roger’s hand can be animated into it and he’s controlling it. He’s got that machine that’s under the sink that he pulls up and it spits the water out and they paint Roger over it. I mean, as a kid, I remember seeing that and thinking, grown ups do this for a living? Like, this is awesome.
Seth Worley: It’s those subtle details; it’s just them having fun. You know, when they can just simply through in some animated character; not simply obviously but can throw an animated character just holding animated weapons; but I love that extra challenge of, let’s make this a little bit harder, let’s put live action guns in there.
Seth Worley: Another thing is Bob Hoskins’ performance. Some of my favorite actors are actors who you see work with visual effects really well because they’re just good at pretending and not only that but they enjoy doing it and they take it totally seriously. You know, Patrick Stewart is one of them, who comes to mind; but Bob Hoskins in Roger Rabbit is one of the best live action visual effects performances from history to me.
Larry Jordan: It was back to your tennis balls again, they were holding tennis balls that illustrated where Roger Rabbit was and Bob was acting to a tennis ball and made it completely believable.
Seth Worley: Exactly and he also gets what a lot of people can’t. I don’t know how he did it. He got eye line right, in that, if you have a character that’s supposed to be here but they’re not, you pretend to look at them; you’re focusing on something beyond that. You can’t focus at nothing. I don’t know how he does it. In that movie he is focusing at that space; even when there’s nothing there. It’s exceptional. I could talk for about two hours about Bob Hoskins’ eye line in Roger Rabbit.
Larry Jordan: Which gives you an idea that you have got to get a life; I think that’s the big risk.
Seth Worley: I really do. Look, I don’t leave this room. My kids haven’t seen me in months, I’ve just been finishing films.
Larry Jordan: I mean, you’re not yet 60, but as you look back over the last several years of filmmaking, what’s the number one lesson that you’ve learned?
Seth Worley: Wow; that’s a question I wish I had read ahead of the show.
Larry Jordan: As you look back on the films that you’ve made and each film evolves, improves on the one before, what’s the big takeaway? What’s the big lesson you’ve learned about filmmaking?
Seth Worley: Have fun, challenge yourself. I’ve learned that, the best projects are the ones that I have no guarantee they’re going to work and the ones that have been the least fulfilling, that I’ve learned the least and have accomplished the least are the ones that I know they’re going to work from the beginning. The biggest thing I constantly learn is, just constantly challenge yourself, constantly try to work with new people, do things that scare you and keep your crew safe in the process.
Larry Jordan: If you’d have rehearsed that answer it wouldn’t have been as good by the way. Where can people go on the web to learn more about you and your products and films?
Seth Worley: You can see all my Red Giant films at redgiant.com/films; there’s also tutorials I do there; and you can see my other projects, like my commercials and such, at sethworley.com.
Larry Jordan: And the Seth Worley himself, that’s sethworley.com.
Seth Worley: Yes Sir.
Larry Jordan: Seth, it’s always a delight chatting with you, thanks so much for sharing your time today.
Seth Worley: Thanks Larry.
Larry Jordan: Take care.
Larry Jordan: How can you not love talking about films with a guy who loves making films and you could tell just by watching Seth, how his eyes lit up as he starts to describe some of the films that motivated him to become a filmmaker; and if you haven’t gone to Seth’s website, to see some of the stuff that’s he’s created, some amazing short films that are fun to watch and thinking about getting involved with your work. We were talking with Mark August about some of his challenges in being a Navy Photographer for 25 years; suddenly realizing that what he thought would be a four year gig turned into a 25 year career, with opportunities he never expected.
Larry Jordan: I love watching interviews where people’s eyes just light up and they start to share their enthusiasm of why we’re in this business in the first place; which leads me to thank our guests for tonight, Mark August, a US Navy Combat Photographer and President of the Society of Camera Operators; Iain Richardson, President of Beamshare; and Seth Worley, Filmmaker for Red Giant Films.
Larry Jordan: There’s a 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 today. You can talk with us on Twitter @DPBuZZ and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com.
Larry Jordan: Mike Horton has the night off, but he’ll be with us next week and in the meantime I’ll mention that our theme music is composed by Nathan Doogie Turner; additional music on the Buzz provided by smartsound.com. Text transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription. Our Producer is Cirina Catania, our engineering team is led by Megan Paulos and is joined by Ed Golya, Keegan Guy, Lindsay Luebbert and Brianna Murphy.
Larry Jordan: On behalf of Mike Horton, who is at least here in spirit, my name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to the Digital Production Buzz.