Digital Production Buzz
June 18, 2015
[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]
(Click here to listen to this show.)
Larry Jordan & Mike Horton
Randi Altman, Industry Analyst and Editor
Philip Hodgetts, President, Lumberjack System
Curtis Fritsch, Sound Editor, AlphaDogs
Marco Missinato, Composer & Music Producer, Sounds of Oneness
Larry Jordan: Hi, we have a fascinating show for you tonight, on The Buzz. We start with Philip Hodgetts, the CEO of Intelligent Assistance. Recently, Philip was challenged to take everything he needed for production in one suitcase, for an international flight. Tonight, Philip brings that suitcase and shows us the gear that went into it.
Larry Jordan: Then, Curtis Fritsch is the Supervising Sound Editor for Alpha Dogs. Putting together an international audio mix for distribution can be tricky and tonight, Curtis shows us what we need to know when creating an international NME.
Larry Jordan: Then, Italian born Composer and Music Producer, Marco Missinato believes that beautiful music can change the world. Tonight he shows how the right music can change the emotions of your project.
Larry Jordan: And industry renowned Analyst and Editor, Randi Altman, joins us with her perspective on the news. The Buzz starts now.
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Announcer #2: …and content creators around the planet.
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Announcer #2: 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. Welcome back Mike, it’s good to see you again.
Michael Horton: It’s good to be here Larry.
Larry Jordan: It’s been an exciting week. You may not have noticed because you were busy prepping for the super meet-up; but there’s a lot of news out of Adobe, if you paid attention.
Michael Horton: Yes, and guess what I did?
Larry Jordan: What did you do?
Michael Horton: I installed it.
Larry Jordan: And what happened?
Michael Horton: And I forgot to actually read about installing it. I just installed it; and what did it do?
Larry Jordan: What did it do?
Michael Horton: It installs over your other apps and gets rid of them. All my 2014s, gone.
Larry Jordan: It figures you don’t need them anymore.
Michael Horton: Well I didn’t really need them, but I was still was like, CS6 gone.
Larry Jordan: Gone?
Michael Horton: Everything’s gone. There’s now nothing but 2015.
Larry Jordan: It’s really trying to make your life easier Mike.
Michael Horton: Which says, you should really read the ‘Read Me.’
Larry Jordan: There is a checkbox, when you are doing the installation; that when it is checked by default; that will automatically erase everything that’s there. You don’t want to check that. You want to uncheck that checkbox. Did you do it?
Michael Horton: I read that after I did that; so thank you Larry.
Larry Jordan: By the way, there’s a bunch of other things you need to pay attention to. There’s some issues with After Effects plug-ins; so most of them are working fine but there’s a few that are not and Adobe has already promised a fix coming in July; so, before you upgrade to the latest version of After Effects, be sure that you see if your plug-ins are compatible. I’ve been getting notices all week, from companies, saying, we work fine or you’ve got to do something else.
Michael Horton: Yes, Cornell doesn’t work either.
Larry Jordan: No. By the way, Adobe After Effects project files, in their 2015 version, are identical to the 2014 version; so you can share files between people working with AE 2014 or 2015; but you can’t do that with Premiere.
Michael Horton: Really?
Larry Jordan: Yes, Premiere’s files are totally different.
Michael Horton: Read the ‘Read Me.’
Larry Jordan: It really helps. Tonight, by the way, I’m excited to announce something brand new. We’ve wanted to cover current news on The Buzz for a while and we’ve finally figured out the best possible way to do it. I’m delighted to introduce a regular news segment called Perspective, with Randi Altman.
Announcer #1: This is Randi Altman’s Perspective.
Larry Jordan: Randi Altman has been writing about the post-production industry for more than 20 years; for much of that she was an Editor, then Editor-in-Chief of Post Magazine. Now she runs her own website, postperspective.com. As a noted Industry Analyst, she reports on what’s new, what’s important and why the rest of us should care. Hello Randi, welcome.
Randi Altman: Hi Larry, thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: It is a delight to have you with us. What’s the big news this week?
Randi Altman: Well, I think that everyone is talking about the new releases from Adobe, their Creative Cloud 2015. This is stuff that they previewed before NAB and it’s actually a real thing now; so there’s a lot of updates, a lot of excitement.
Larry Jordan: One of the things they’ve done is, they’ve spent a lot of time improving the performance; especially of Premiere. They’ve totally rewritten the engine under the hood and they’ve done a lot of stuff with After Effects. What are you hearing in the industry? Are people pleased with the changes?
Randi Altman: Absolutely. I’ve been seeing, over the last few years, since they introduced the Mercury Engine, I think that people started taking Premiere more seriously. I think that the pro part of the name was embraced. You’ve seen a ton of people adopting it and I think, this new release is taking it a step further; they can now do color within Premiere. You’ve got new workspaces, depending on you want to work. There’s more collaboration allowed, which was a big hit from people who especially were working with Media Composer and wanting to work in collaborative environments. So, across the board, I’ve been hearing some very good things.
Larry Jordan: But it’s more than just Adobe making news this week. What are you covering in your current issue of the Post Perspective newsletter?
Randi Altman: Try to get behind the title; it’s one of our big features. No-one does exactly what their title says; so, that’s a big deal for us, is getting past the name and the title and finding out what they do on a daily basis and getting to know the personalities. We spoke to … who just started at Argaman Animation in the UK; so we get to know her a bit. She’s actually Finnish but living in the UK.
Randi Altman: Another big story that we reported on is Sync Sound in New York. They are a longstanding audio post-production studio, working in television; and back in 1997, they started a film post-production studio called Digital Cinema. This week they sold that off to Warner Brothers; so, now Warner Brothers has an actual studio in New York City.
Larry Jordan: Which is pretty amazing when you think about it. As you’re doing your interviews, what’s your goal in the interview; what are you trying to find out?
Randi Altman: Trying to dig a little deeper. I want to get to know people on a personal level. I think that, this industry is based on personality and relationships and if everybody’s sort of always on their guard, you never really get to know them; so, sometimes I’ll ask silly questions, that might appear silly. It revokes really personal answers and shows us their character and their personality.
Larry Jordan: What’s one of the things you discovered this week, that the rest of us need to pay attention to?
Randi Altman: I would say virtual reality; immersive entertainment. I’m actually a believer and many others are as well; so this week we found, not only Lucas Film and ILM jumping onboard and announcing a new studio targeted at this, but also Deluxe as well. So we’ve got two pretty big players in the industry that are now embracing VR and augmented reality.
Larry Jordan: Randi, I could talk to you forever, but instead what I’m going to do is to invite you to come back and let’s pick up our discussion next week and discover more about what’s happening in the industry from your perspective. Randi, thanks for joining us today.
Randi Altman: Thanks Larry, anytime. Take care.
Michael Horton: To read more from Randi Altman, visit postperspective.com.
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Larry Jordan: The deadline for entries is June 30th, so start shooting. Visit macsales.com/video-contest for all the details. That’s macsales.com. Don’t miss out.
Larry Jordan: Philip Hodgetts is the CEO of Intelligent Assistance and Lumberjack System and is involved in the technology of virtually every area of digital production and post-production. He’s also a regular contributor to The Buzz. As always, welcome back Philip.
Philip Hodgetts: Thank you. First time in this studio.
Larry Jordan: Yes, it’s a delight. Isn’t it cool? It gets better every time we get in here.
Michael Horton: Every week there’s just less problems isn’t there?
Larry Jordan: The thing I like is, we’re doing a whole bunch of new stuff today; not only the stuff we’re doing in your segment, but the Randi Altman segment; I’m thrilled about it. She’s so excited about working with us. We’ve got a product demo coming up later. There’s some really cool things that The Buzz is evolving into; and I remember, you ran it for five years before I even got involved in it.
Philip Hodgetts: Only two years Larry, it’s been your show for a lot longer than it’s been mine.
Larry Jordan: It was a longer than that.
Philip Hodgetts: No, it ran onto the end of the DV guys, which ran for five years; 2000-2005.
Michael Horton: We only did it for two years?
Randi Altman: Just a bit over two and a half.
Michael Horton: Really?
Randi Altman: Yes.
Larry Jordan: Seems longer.
Michael Horton: Oh boy.
Randi Altman: Yes, well you spend every week with me Michael and it just seems longer.
Michael Horton: Well we used to do it at the Maytag Museum in summertime; no air-conditioning.
Larry Jordan: No air conditioning I remember. I was participating in some of those shows and that is hot. Yes, it was hot. One of the things that you recently got yourself challenged with is to go on an international trip and take as little gear as possible. What was the impetus behind what we’re about to talk about, which is how to shoot production with absolutely no gear?
Philip Hodgetts: Well, it really goes back to 2012, when I was trying to do the Solar Odyssey Project. I started focusing then on trying to solve the problem of no grip truck, no space, no time and there are a lot of really interesting challenges around that. I became fascinated with the concept of how small a production can I create and still maintain a level of quality that I’m happy with.
Larry Jordan: So you ended up with a steamer trunk, which is about five feet across and about 1500 pounds right?
Philip Hodgetts: Something like that; except for, maybe not quite that big.
Larry Jordan: Oh yes, put your money where your mouth is. No way.
Michael Horton: Let’s get a close-up on that.
Philip Hodgetts: So hands, you know, for relative size.
Larry Jordan: Now you’ve actually got production gear in there, it’s not just extra pair of socks?
Philip Hodgetts: No, that is production gear.
Larry Jordan: Flip it on the side, because you managed to make your face disappear; and let’s start to take a look at the stuff inside.
Philip Hodgetts: Well alright, let me perhaps put it down on the side.
Larry Jordan: That would be probably a good idea.
Philip Hodgetts: I could do Mary Poppins.
Michael Horton: Just make it appear.
Philip Hodgetts: Bring the pole out, yes.
Larry Jordan: As long as you don’t sing at the same time.
Philip Hodgetts: Well, I took some gear that I thought, you know, maybe if I had a need for it. This trip I focused on GoPros.
Larry Jordan: How come?
Philip Hodgetts: Well, because the size. I mean, let’s face it.
Larry Jordan: Yes, but a GoPro is an extreme fisheye lens; it’s not what you would use for any kind of talking head images.
Michael Horton: It does have a switch on it.
Philip Hodgetts: Yes, this is the interesting thing is that, yes, there are certain modes and the GoPros now have so many different modes, that you have to really learn which modes give you the best result. Well, if you’re in 1080p mode, 1080p 30, with a Hero Black 4, you can adjust the angle from the default very wide, to a medium to a narrow. The narrow is still a fairly wide lens, but it’s not the super extreme wide angle that you would expect to see and that you get as a default setting in 4K.
Larry Jordan: Are you still getting the spherical collaboration; the strange curves to straight lines, even when you go to the tighter shot?
Philip Hodgetts: A little bit yes, but nowhere near as severe as it is with the extreme wide.
Michael Horton: But there are plug-ins.
Philip Hodgetts: Yes, there’s any number of plug-ins, in pretty much any host, that you can just reverse that back out and you can apply it into the clip level in Final Cut X; so that you can have, every use of the clip from that point on is corrected.
Larry Jordan: Okay, so in your hand you’re holding a GoPro; but on your table is what?
Philip Hodgetts: These are some GoPro accessories that I took with me, thinking that my default mount, which I’ll come to in a moment, may not work; so, of course, you know, the classic. I guess it’s not self-adhesive.
Larry Jordan: Suction device.
Philip Hodgetts: Suction device, thank you yes; and the handgrip that has an extension; so you can do an extension off that.
Larry Jordan: Show me the third one.
Philip Hodgetts: This one?
Larry Jordan: That one, yes.
Philip Hodgetts: This is a very neat little extension that you can add onto the handgrip.
Michael Horton: What, is that like for selfies?
Philip Hodgetts: Well, you could use it for selfies and, of course, this is very cute because, in the base, you have a little mini tripod.
Michael Horton: Really?
Larry Jordan: Oh, look at that.
Michael Horton: Oh, Kim Kardashian would love that.
Philip Hodgetts: And you can just screw that back in there, yes and end up with something that’s extremely unstable; until you put the screws in and everything.
Larry Jordan: So you need a little sand cushion to keep it nailed down.
Philip Hodgetts: Yes you do. So that was one of my options and this also creates a handgrip. Well, I didn’t actually need to use that, nor the suction grip; because the, the default that I thought I would use, turns out to be a very good choice.
Larry Jordan: Well, now while you’re digging it out, Grant in our live chat is saying that, “I got away with a trip pod and a Pelican case for a two week production in Wichita. Oh, and a laptop bag too.” So I guess he took three bags to do what you’re doing in one bag.
Philip Hodgetts: And I didn’t take a laptop but I did take an iPad.
Michael Horton: What did you say; a trip pod?
Larry Jordan: A trip pod.
Michael Horton: What is a trip pod?
Larry Jordan: I don’t know, he hasn’t spelled it out; I’m just reading what’s here in the live chat.
Michael Horton: Maybe it’s a tripod instead of a Trip Pod. It was a typo.
Larry Jordan: Well, he could be from Australia; you know, Australia does have spelling challenges.
Philip Hodgetts: Yes. Well the moment you can get away without not taking a tripod or a trip pod.
Larry Jordan: Grant, will you just tell us whether it’s a trip pod or a tripod; because it’s trip pod here.
Michael Horton: it’s an Aussie tripod.
Larry Jordan: So what else we got?
Michael Horton: Oh, lookout, look at all that.
Philip Hodgetts: These are such a flexible mount.
Michael Horton: Oh these are like your trip pods or you could turn them into a trip pod.
Philip Hodgetts: They’re just a basic gooseneck.
Michael Horton: Oh, is that right?
Philip Hodgetts: Yes.
Michael Horton: Oh cool.
Larry Jordan: They bend?
Philip Hodgetts: Yes, they bend every which way.
Larry Jordan: Oh, look at that. Just move slower. Our camera guy’s going nuts trying to follow you.
Michael Horton: Why do we need these things?
Philip Hodgetts: Well, because, there’s always a convenient coffee table or chair. Getting back to the purpose of the video, I was recording a family history video; I was wanting to document the history of my family, well, before frankly it’s too late to document it.
Larry Jordan: Grant is yet to define what a trip pod is; but he says that he needs a good zoom and focus, so he couldn’t use the GoPro.
Philip Hodgetts: Of course and you have to acknowledge that there are horses for courses, as we say; there is appropriate video tools for appropriate purposes. I was travelling by myself, I was logging it, I was organizing the interview, I was shooting the interview, I was doing the interview; so clearly I’m not operating cameras as a fully fledged camera operator; so it had to be a system that let me set it up and forget it. I set one camera closer and narrower and the other a little further back and a little wider.
Larry Jordan: How far apart from side to side?
Philip Hodgetts: Oh, not very far at all. You know, typically set up, one camera would be about here and the other camera would be about there, in actual location.
Larry Jordan: And they were both mounted on chairs or something to get them up?
Philip Hodgetts: Chairs, coffee tables.
Larry Jordan: Whatever was available.
Philip Hodgetts: Whatever was available. For example, you know, I could simply set up a camera here; go like that and then bring that around.
Larry Jordan: Oh my goodness, it’s like a camera erector ….
Michael Horton: Well, the nice thing about these things, especially when you’re interviewing family, these things are not intimidating.
Philip Hodgetts: No. Now in fact, the only thing that’s intimidating is that they flash blue lights for the Wi-Fi network and they flash red lights for when they’re recording and that can be a little intimidating for a family that’s not used to it. You can also use these to go across a table; so, at least in one situation, the chair was on the opposite side of the table, but the gooseneck came across; so the camera was still in fairly close.
Larry Jordan: Oh, look at this.
Michael Horton: Forgive me; but how do you frame with these little guys?
Philip Hodgetts: Ah, well, you see, that’s why you need an iOS or an android device, because one is paired to my phone and one is paired to my iPad.
Larry Jordan: So you’re using the iPad as the monitor for the camera.
Philip Hodgetts: Correct, yes. They have a relatively low quality preview … frame it and adjust the settings in real time and remote start and stop.
Larry Jordan: Grant apologizes that he was actually trying to type tripod; it was not an Australian spelling. But Mike, I’m going to ask you a question, because I know production is your life. As you look at the stuff on the table, what is the one thing that’s missing, that would be necessary to record an interview?
Michael Horton: A microphone?
Larry Jordan: You are so quick, you know.
Michael Horton: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: There’s just no grass growing under your chair.
Philip Hodgetts: You need to carry two microphones, because it’s always a possibility, as it turned out, it happened, some of my relatives may have wanted to be interviewed together; I thought maybe Husband and Wife. But, as it turns out, two of my Cousins wanted to work together; so I carried two of my Zoom H1N.
Michael Horton: Oh those things are cool.
Philip Hodgetts: Yes, which are under $100.
Larry Jordan: Now those are the Zoom H1N?
Philip Hodgetts: Yes.
Larry Jordan: Yes, those are nice and those are single channel or stereo?
Philip Hodgetts: No, it’s two channel and Wi-Fi also.
Michael Horton: But you use those don’t you, or use a bigger ….?
Larry Jordan: I use the bigger one, the four.
Philip Hodgetts: Yes, the four is very much more common, because it’s got more features and takes the XLR.
Larry Jordan: And it has lights, blinking lights. Blinking lights are really important.
Philip Hodgetts: This is very dull, it doesn’t have a lot of blinking lights at all; and, of course, the ubiquitous lapel microphone.
Larry Jordan: What brand?
Philip Hodgetts: This is an el-cheapo off Amazon and I’d have to look up the exact model number. But it’s about $24.99.
Larry Jordan: Seriously? You did no research, you just said, I’ll get the cheapest one and you flick the button.
Philip Hodgetts: Well, frankly, we’re recording voice. It’s hard to get a microphone that doesn’t do a decent job of recording voice in quiet environments.
Larry Jordan: Now, let me disagree with that, because we have in fact been doing some interesting tests, recording voice with different microphones; and you’ll actually see a demo of this later in the show. We are comparing ten different microphones and it’s fascinating to us, as we were doing it, just how much difference there was in audio quality as we switched between mikes.
Michael Horton: Yes, honestly, some of them make you sound like a Munchkin in the ‘Wizard of Oz.’
Larry Jordan: I’m not at all diminishing the quality of the mike that you’ve got here, but it is not a true statement to say that all lavaliers sound similar.
Philip Hodgetts: No, that was probably an exaggeration. But, let me reframe that. It’s possible to get a good enough quality. I mean, all we’re really trying to do, at this point, is get a clean recording of somebody’s recollection and somebody’s memory and with them on camera, so that future generations can see the person talking, see the person telling their story, telling their memories.
Philip Hodgetts: Maybe because I’ve got a few years older and some of my relatives are getting to that point where I may not see them in the future, that I’ve become more keen on capturing these memories.
Larry Jordan: No I agree. When my Dad was older than yours is and I was very proud to get an interview with him five year before he died and it was audio only; but it was just a huge chance for us to talk about how he looked back on his life; so I totally agree with that.
Philip Hodgetts: These are sold on Amazon as a replacement for a Sennheiser radio mike lapel microphone; that’s how I found it.
Michael Horton: That’s a good marketing thing.
Philip Hodgetts: Yes and a second one takes no space, with spare batteries and so on, in there.
Larry Jordan: Okay, how about lighting?
Philip Hodgetts: Lighting, I did carry the entire time. I carried a Litepanels Croma, which is nice, because it’s got the dual color. If we just turn it on a little bit.
Larry Jordan: Oh that’s right, dual means it could be daylight or tungsten.
Philip Hodgetts: Yes.
Michael Horton: Oh nice.
Philip Hodgetts: However, I carried this for the entire two weeks of the trip and used it for five minutes; on one of the very last interview, the night before I left.
Larry Jordan: No way? Did you find it helpful, when you used it?
Philip Hodgetts: On that one interview, it definitely did, otherwise, light would have been a little too over the head and the Gorilla pod is the mount for the light mount.
Larry Jordan: What does it use for batteries?
Philip Hodgetts: Just regular old AA batteries that you can get anywhere in the world.
Michael Horton: Even in Australia.
Philip Hodgetts: Even in Australia; at the supermarket.
Larry Jordan: That is so cool.
Philip Hodgetts: Yes, and that’s a really nice light; it’s not too heavy.
Larry Jordan: Did you have to deal with backlight too much? I mean, how did the GoPros handle contrast?
Philip Hodgetts: The GoPros don’t handle contrast brilliantly; fortunately, I’m smart enough to work out where the light is and where I position people and chairs and tables are not hard to move around. And so I made sure that curtains were closed, if they were going to be anywhere near the shot; that dogs were harnessed and moved out of the room, except with one of my Cousins, the dogs became a feature of the interview; and positioned, generally, so that the light was facing the direction of the camera, so that we were working with the light rather than against the light.
Michael Horton: Were you reviewing the sound and the picture every day or did you do that when you got home?
Philip Hodgetts: I did spot checks, where I could; but I know this gear, I know what I’m getting, what I have seen in the past. The one thing that I don’t have with me, because I borrowed it, I was using a Nexto DI, I think it is, which is an automatic offload device; that takes the cards and automatically backs it up onto a hard drive.
Larry Jordan: Now Grant again is a wonderful counterpoint to what you’re saying. He needed two wireless mikes with XLR inputs and clearly these are wired. Are you recording double system into this, so that the GoPro records silent and you’re going to have to marry it up later? Or are you feeding audio into the GoPro?
Philip Hodgetts: the GoPro has built-in audio and that is good enough quality for Final Cut Pro X, certainly to make multi-clips based purely on the audio synchronization.
Larry Jordan: So you’re using the audio off the zoom as your main audio; but you’re recording camera audio for sync purposes.
Philip Hodgetts: Absolutely.
Larry Jordan: And it worked?
Philip Hodgetts: Worked beautifully, yes. That didn’t hiccup. I mean, Final Cut is really, really good on that. I know there are people who claim that Pluraleyes will do a better job, but I’ve certainly never had any trouble with Final Cut. The only one time I’ve had trouble is because I didn’t name my angles; and you have to name the audio angle too.
Larry Jordan: Really?
Philip Hodgetts: Or give it a common camera name; yes. Because it still needs to be an angle and that was the only thing that mucked up, was my audio didn’t go out into … timeline.
Larry Jordan: As you look back on it, what was the one piece of gear that you used the least and the flipside of this is, what piece of gear would you have liked to have had, that you didn’t bring?
Philip Hodgetts: I didn’t use, for these interviews, the DSLR that I carry with me. I still carry a NEX-7; simply because I like to have a good still camera with me. But it’s a great b-roll camera and in January I used the iOgrapher, with my iPad 2 and a DSLR as my two cameras. This trip I wanted to carry a little bit lighter and so we went down to the GoPros; which were purchased for another purpose.
Philip Hodgetts: I wouldn’t advocate, if you’re just doing family history, don’t go out and buy a lot of gear. You need good audio recording, you need an acceptable picture and you’ve got a phone, you’ve got an iPad, you’ve got an android device; you’ve got something that’s going give you those pictures. I really, you know, want to encourage people to get in there and do these history questions; I’ve got a great set of questions.
Larry Jordan: So, for you, the audio is much more important than the picture for these.
Philip Hodgetts: Absolutely, yes. I wanted the picture because, I wanted people to be able to see down the track and some of my relatives would have preferred to do audio only and I discovered that there are audio only recordings of my Grandmother and I didn’t even know existed; so I have to get them converted, I have to get them into this system, into digital form.
Michael Horton: Why not use one of these?
Philip Hodgetts: Just because it’s a more complicated situation; you’ve got to run cables from the audio. I was carrying the iPad as my primary device anyway and you need to two iOS devices if you’re going to have two cameras; each one does pair with one iOS device, in the simplest configuration and swap backwards and forwards, but you have to repair them every time.
Larry Jordan: What piece would you like that you didn’t have?
Philip Hodgetts: I honestly don’t think there was anything that I wanted to have for this project that I didn’t take. I took a lot of stuff that I didn’t use; you know, zip ties, extra mounts, all of this suction cap stuff. Almost didn’t use the light, but I did. None of this came out of the Ziploc bag. The Nexto DI was great. But, pretty much, this is what I’d take next time.
Larry Jordan: And for people that want to keep track of what you’re thinking on the web, because we’re going to wrap this up. Where can they go on the web to read what you’re writing?
Philip Hodgetts: Philiphodgetts.com. We’ve been talking about the family history project there and I’m going to publish the questions shortly.
Larry Jordan: And Philip Hodgetts is the CEO of Intelligent Assistance and Lumberjack System. Philip, thanks for joining us.
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Larry Jordan: Curtis Fritsch is an Audio Editor at Alpha Dogs. This is a Burbank based post-production facility and he is a Sound Designer, Re-Recording Mixer, Engineer and Tech for all things audio. Tonight we want to learn about what it takes to prep audio for international distribution. Hello Curtis, welcome.
Curtis Fritsch: Hey Larry, how’s it going? Thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: We are delighted to have you on. How does audio need to change for international distribution?
Curtis Fritsch: Well, for international distribution, they like to dub it into their own languages, if they’re not going to subtitle it; so, what they like to have are things like footsteps, calf rubs; you know, anything that was captured during production, that might have to come out, because of the fact that the English voices are going to be intruding over those things.
Curtis Fritsch: You know, someone might be, you know, touches a banister or might be starting a car and that might be part of the production sound for the English version which is fine; but that won’t show up when we take away the English dialogue. What we need to do is recreate that for foreign markets, so it just feels like a much fuller and richer film; like, you’re not missing anything.
Larry Jordan: But, wait a minute.
Michael Horton: What, you have to Foley everything, I mean, for international distribution?
Curtis Fritsch: For the most part. I mean, there are certain things that you can tape over, but yes, I mean, I should start off by saying this. Every film and every facility is a little bit different in this. I mean, it’s generally done on a case by a case basis. The most important thing I can say is to, check with the deliverables of a distribution company; because, a lot of the places I’ve seen have been pretty strict; some of them have been a little bit more lenient.
Curtis Fritsch: I mean, sometimes people have been rejected because a footstep is out of sync; other times, they’ve just taken a lot of stuff from production, put it in and they’ve said this is a pass. So, it really depends on who’s doing your QC and which markets you’re going to also.
Curtis Fritsch: It’s not an exact science. You really should check your deliverable requirements and possibly talk to someone that will be distributing your movie as well.
Larry Jordan: Well now, let’s back up about two steps. When I’m creating my film, I’m creating a final stereo pair. How do I create audio that doesn’t have the voice mixed in with the sound effects and the music?
Curtis Fritsch: Are you talking from when you’re filming it?
Larry Jordan: No, when I’m doing the final mix. What I’m trying to get to is explain stems.
Curtis Fritsch: Oh okay. Yes, for the most part, you want to take your dialogue and put that separate from your effects and then separate that from music. Is that what you’re talking about?
Larry Jordan: Yes.
Curtis Fritsch: Okay. Yes, I mean, what you want to do is try and get all your dialogue, by itself, onto dialogue tracks and then, everything else, like just the practical effects, you want to have on your effects tracks. Some of those can be used; some of them may not be used. I’ve had people complain that have said, you know, this sounds too much like a production, we need it to actually sound like it’s not production. It’s an interesting process learning what certain places like and what certain people like.
Curtis Fritsch: I didn’t do this personally, but I’ve been told that, in Japan, apparently people kiss differently; so if there’s a kiss from production, they may not like it, they may reject it over that.
Larry Jordan: Well let’s back up about five or six steps. When we’re recording audio, in production, are we going to record audio any differently, in production, knowing that we’re going to go international, or is production exactly the same?
Curtis Fritsch: Production’s pretty much exactly the same you want it to be. Because, I mean, the thing you most likely want to do is just record some of the stuff on set, like, maybe some footsteps; definitely get a good amount of room tone in there; you know, just some of the sounds that you think might have been cancelled out. Like, if you’ve got a car that is being used on set for that day, the best thing to do would be to try and take a little bit of extra time, maybe record some stuff from that car, when it’s not being filmed; just to get some wild takes of that car sounds. That’s a good one.
Larry Jordan: Okay, so in recording and production, we record whether we’re going international or not the same way. When we’re mixing, now we’ve got to do essentially three mixes; we do a mix which is dialogue, we do a mix which are just effects, we do another mix which is just music. When we combine those, do we still end up with the same quality mix as if we had done everything as a single stereo pair; or am I doing quality tradeoffs to do these individual dialogue effects and music stems?
Curtis Fritsch: Not normally. The way that you do international deliveries is that, most of the time, there are certain things; like if you’ve got footsteps in there, that can make some phase cancellation problems, if you introduce that into the regular mix. So you sort of want to keep all your stuff … properly in your mix sessions, so that the things that are going specifically for international don’t end up in your regular mix; if that makes sense.
Larry Jordan: No, it makes perfect sense; not a problem. When we are putting all this stuff together, are we then delivering a final stereo pair and then the three individual stereo pairs; one for dialogue, one for music and one for effects? Or am I delivering a final mix dialogue and then a combined music and effects?
Curtis Fritsch: It depends. I mean, you could be delivering just a few of those, you could be delivering all of those. On a recent delivery, it was a full 5.1 mix; so they wanted it to be a 5.1 mix plus a stereo of everything. Then they wanted it to be 5.1 of the music and effects combined, along with a stereo version of that; and then they also wanted stereo pairs of each dialogue, effects and music. So, sometimes that can be what your deliverables call for.
Curtis Fritsch: Also, sometimes they call for what’s called an optional track. An optional track consists of vocalizations that do not involve words but may be useful to them. Like, it would be breaths, gasps, signs, things like that; that can be used. They may not use them but it’s good to have; so stuff like that may be called for.
Curtis Fritsch: I mean, the most important thing to know, in my opinion, for doing form deliverables, delivering for a market, is just to know your deliverables. Read your spec sheets, read the requirements from any form distribution company and ask them questions; you know, be specific. The thing you have to do is find someone; you know, you may need to ask for an NME supervisor; ask for someone for clarification. Because, the last thing you want this to do is be rejected and have to come back and say, “Okay, well what did we mess up on?” I mean, that’s just something you want to avoid as much as possible.
Larry Jordan: Curtis, I have to tell you a story, before we run out of time; because, what you say makes perfect sense, except it doesn’t exist in the real world, in a lot of cases. A friend of mine was delivering a show to a network and they had nine pages; nine pages of what the video specs were going to be, but there wasn’t a word about audio. It was a cable network. They called the cable head in, they said, we need to know what the audio specs are for delivery. Well, the cable headquarters sent them over to master control, which is in New Jersey and New Jersey master control answered the phone and said, “What do you want to know?” They said, “What audio specs do you need for delivery?” There was a very long pause at the other end of the phone and finally this gruff voice gets on and says, “Well, do what you always do” and hung up the phone. So, sometimes you need help.
Michael Horton: I had no idea it was this complicated.
Curtis Fritsch: I agree, that’s actually something I’ve dealt with too. Yes, in an ideal world, you do want to talk to someone. I talked to someone who said, well, if there’s something missing we’ll catch it; so, just make sure it’s good; and that was the direction I was given.
Curtis Fritsch: Yes, I mean, that’s the best thing you can do is just, you know, try and recreate as much as possible, don’t miss anything, don’t have anything out of sync. It’s not easy. You know, the best way to do it is just trial by … and just talk to people who’ve done it before. That’s another good piece of advice. I mean, we have several mixers on staff here.
Larry Jordan: Are you worrying about international audio levels like the Luff standard that the EU requires, or the Calmac when you’re doing stuff for the US? Are you mixing to now government mandated levels?
Curtis Fritsch: I mean, that’s the Calmac that’s usually for television; so, if they take the dialogue out. It’s not that important because the Calmac is usually based upon dialogue levels; like negative 24 for dialogue normalization. Maybe I have that backwards, but I still remember, it was the dialogue level needs to be even.
Larry Jordan: For people that need more information, where can they go on the web?
Curtis Fritsch: Alphadogs.tv.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, A L P H A Dogs.tv and Curtis Fritsch is the Sound Editor for Alpha Dogs. Curtis, thanks for joining us today.
Curtis Fritsch: Thank you Larry.
Michael Horton: Thanks Curtis.
Larry Jordan: Bye, bye.
Larry Jordan: I really enjoy Marco Missinato’s mission statement, where he writes, that he has dedicated his life to the creation of music that inspires and brings peace and oneness to the world; as well as support humanity and mother earth at this delicate and difficult transition time. I like the broader vision that music can change society; which is what we want to talk with Marco about. Hell Marco, welcome.
Marco Missinato: Hello. Is this Larry or it’s Michael; or both of you?
Larry Jordan: No, it is both of us.
Michael Horton: Yes, this is both of us.
Marco Missinato: Hello. Thank you for having me there; it’s really lovely to have the chance to have some time with you guys.
Larry Jordan: We are delighted. The one that you’re looking at, by the way, is me; that’s Larry. The voice that sounds warm and handsome and avuncular, that’s Michael.
Michael Horton: Yes, I’m getting over a summer cold and hopefully I won’t cough my way through this interview.
Larry Jordan: Marco, what got you interested in music in the first place?
Marco Missinato: Music was there for me since really literally day one. It was, for me, a way to cope with the dissonances of, what we all have to encounter in our life; and so, for me, when music was playing, it would instantly create a sense of oneness. Basically, the illusion of separation would go away and so I would feel back home. So, for me, music, since the beginning, was a way to go back home.
Larry Jordan: Now, were you playing music at a young age or did you start composing at a young age as well?
Marco Missinato: I started composing right away; the first chance to come close to an instrument. I remember, at three years old, I was excited about this little flute that was given to me and I would spend hours and hours composing melodies on it.
Larry Jordan: At three years old, I’m not sure I could even have held a flute; I’m very impressed.
Michael Horton: You’re talking about bringing music that would bring you back home. What kind of music did you listen to when you were home?
Marco Missinato: I would listen literally everything that would come along. At the time, TV was still in black and white and we have only radios and a little jukebox to listen to music. So, whatever was there, it would take my breath away. I would say pop music, of course Italian music, because I was in Italy at the time; but also a lot of American music and also classical music like Beethoven, Chopin and then, of course, the jazz. All variety of music. Because it doesn’t really matter what kind of music it is, as long as it’s being conceived from the heart.
Larry Jordan: Which gets me to a piece that you recently composed called unfolding secrets; tell me about this.
Marco Missinato: ‘Unfolding secrets’ is my latest production, as a Composer and Music Producer. It has a fabulous host, Kristin Hoffmann as a soprano vocalist. It’s an album that has a very symphonic flavor and it’s called ‘Unfolding Secrets; Symphony of the Heart.’ Because, it’s music that has that frequency; has the ability to really open the heart.
Larry Jordan: Before we talk about it, I want to play a short 30 second clip and let you listen to it; then I want to talk about how and what you were thinking about as you composed it. But let’s play the music.
Larry Jordan: Obviously the piece is much longer, but I wanted to give listeners a flavor for what it sounded like. What were you thinking as you composed this?
Marco Missinato: Well actually, Larry, when I go to the instrument with the idea of composing, in my personal experience, with music, there is no thinking taking place. Meaning, I have to put myself in a situation of no mind, of stillness; so that I can connect with the, what can I say, maybe with life, we can say, with source. Some people would say God. But, with that part of life that is unseen and is still very mysterious. That allows me to create, to literally download the melodies.
Larry Jordan: Marco, I was impressed with the amount of layers and that textures in that music. Was that recorded in a studio or did you do it one layer at a time in a home facility?
Marco Missinato: At this time of the production, the album, we are still working with the layers of high technology, computerized digital music; with the exception, of course, with Kristin Hoffmann who sing live. But we are looking for, very soon, to have a real symphony orchestra to perform all the tracks; so that we can really have that warm analogue kind of sound.
Larry Jordan: Has this symphony been performed anywhere aside from your album?
Marco Missinato: Yes, we did a series of concerts in Ecuador; we did a concert in New York and one in Sedona and now we are working with attracting the connection for a potential world tour; in Europe, in the USA and in Canada.
Michael Horton: Did you do these concerts with real instruments, real people; or was it all digital, off of computer?
Marco Missinato: No, no, the concert were all live. We had several major concert with the symphonic orchestra of Ecuador.
Michael Horton: Oh wonderful.
Marco Missinato: And then we had a situation, like in New York and Sedona, where we were blending a number of live musicians with the tracks; so it was, I would say, a 50 percent digital and 50 percent live.
Michael Horton: Lovely. So how d’you like that sound, that 50 percent digital and 50 percent live?
Marco Missinato: Well, music needs to be heard live, that’s the bottom line. You know, you need to listen to the real musicians, the real instruments performing and that’s where the frequencies of the music really has a penetrating layer of energy that literally opens up your heart; and that’s what we are looking for. To perform as much as possible live, with the live musicians.
Larry Jordan: Well, I want to give people a flavor of what your music sounds like. Let’s try a second short clip from the album. I think this piece is called, ‘A Dream From My Heart’ and let’s take a listen.
Larry Jordan: It has the magical ability to take us somewhere totally different. I mean, it’s an entirely different world. How do you manage that? I know that you’re doing it from the heart, but is there a direction that you’re feeling or is it just totally unconscious?
Marco Missinato: I would say, this is exactly what is about to happen at this time of our wonderful journey as humans. We are starting to recognize that music is much more than entertainment; not that there’s anything wrong with entertainment at all, it’s wonderful. But we are getting to the idea that music comes from sound and sounds is vibration and everything vibrates; so there is a profound connection between music and our life, our existence, our cellular structures.
Marco Missinato: When music is coming from a pure intent, meaning there is no inner agenda, mind agenda, there is not an ego, there is not an expectation that something has to happen; when we position ourselves in front of the instrument, with the purity of like a child, that allows these very pure melodies to come through. It is something that is not just for few elective, it’s just for everybody, that are of course inclined to music, can reach that state of purity.
Marco Missinato: At this moment, I would say musicians have a wonderful responsibility to really create and make a big difference in life. They always have done that, of course, but now, more than ever, we are really waking up to new frontiers that needs to be crossed, when it comes to music.
Larry Jordan: But it seems to me that music today is not listened to so much as consumed; it washes over all of us. How do you get people to slow down enough to actually listen, as opposed to simply hear?
Marco Missinato: Well, I believe, at this moment, there is a lot of people among humanity that are really looking for music that is not distracting, but it’s more introspective; because we are looking for a connection at this moment. Because there is so many outside informations that are constantly running and it is very important that we find a genuine situation that will allow us to stay still and to really listen our true voice; which is certainly not the one that comes from, I would say, the matrix.
Larry Jordan: Yes, that’s true. It is fun to listen to and it’s nice to hope that people are actually listening to music and willing to hear the message that it contains.
Michael Horton: Yes, we all have that connection; as whether it can connect us or not, I don’t know. It can, on certain occasions; it’s why some people go to church and sing, in that collective kind of thing. It brings us together; music always brings us together.
Marco Missinato: Absolutely.
Larry Jordan: Marco, what projects are you working on next?
Marco Missinato: Well right now I am involved in different kind of projects; but the nature of the object is to take Unfolding Secrets to a world exposure and to attract the right situation that will allow us to do a world tour; I would say, to share as much as possible this beautiful experience. That’s where I’m focusing most of the time at this moment. But I am also doing other projects. I am producing other music.
Marco Missinato: I want to extend the concept of a symphonic sound and I want to expand it and use, also, other instruments; so include also rhythms, percussions and other more digital and modern instruments. From the point of view of production, that’s where I am aiming for right now, is to put between the symphonic orchestra and Kristin Hoffmann, a variety of modern instruments.
Larry Jordan: I was just reading your bio and you describe yourself as both a Composer and a Music Producer. What’s the difference between the two?
Marco Missinato: Well, the Composer is a person that somehow has the ability to literally create the melody of what we call music; which is basically the conversation that the music exposes. Production is what happens after. It’s like, if you make a little baby and then you decide, okay, what kind of clothing we are going to put on this beautiful little body; how we want it to look like. What is the intent? And that’s the production.
Marco Missinato: When I first compose the melodies, then I felt very well that the production was going to be more like a classical, contemporary kind of style; and so I became a producer and I start to produce the costume, the dressing around these melodies.
Larry Jordan: Interesting. Marco, where can people go on the web to learn more about you and your music?
Marco Missinato: The website is marcomissinato.com.
Larry Jordan: And Marco Missinato is the Composer and Music Producer for Sounds of Oneness. Marco, thanks for joining us today.
Marco Missinato: Sure, thank you; appreciate it.
Michael Horton: And you brought Larry and me together.
Larry Jordan: And we’ve got a wonderful new feature called Tech Talk; take a look.
Voiceover: This is Tech Talk, from the Digital Production Buzz.
Larry Jordan: But there’s a whole lot more we can talk about with microphones than just simply where they’re placed or what levels to record at and to do that, I want to introduce our two actors, Andrew and Cynthia; thanks so much for joining us. If you look very closely, you’ll discover that they are not wearing one or two microphones, they’re wearing four or five microphones. Because I want to concentrate on how the microphones sound.
Larry Jordan: We’re going to start with Andrew. You sitting down, you ready?
Larry Jordan: We’ve got a four stand microphone that’s staring Andrew in the face; you can see it on the three shot. Then you see that he’s wearing a headset. Then, if you look really closely, he’s actually got two lavaliers and, if you hold it up, a hand mike; that’s five mikes total. What we want to do is, we want to compare the sound of those mikes; so here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to start first with the Electro-Voice RE20 and what we’re going to do is, we’re going to have you deliver the same line, the dialogue.
Larry Jordan: We’ll switch between the RE20 and then we’ll go to the headset mike; that’s an Audio-Technica BPHS1. Then we’ll go to the hand mike and then we’ll go to a Tram and then we’ll got to the Audio-Technica and we’ll go through this. So listen to the difference between these five mikes, the Electro-Voice RE20 the Audio-Technica headset, the Shure SM58 hand mike, the Tram TR50 and then the Audio-Technica Pro 70. You ready?
Larry Jordan: As best you can, talk to the desk mike and then play it out to the camera after that. Go.
Andrew: There are many things for which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited. I dare say Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have thought of Christmastime, apart from its sacred name; if anything can be apart from that.
Larry Jordan: Switch.
Andrew: As a good time; a kind for giving charitable time. The only time I know of in the long calendar year, when men and women show compassion to one another and, therefore, has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket.
Larry Jordan: Switch.
Andrew: I do believe that it has done me good and will do me good and I say God bless it. There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited.
Larry Jordan: Switch.
Andrew: I daresay Christmas, among the rest; but I am sure I have thought of Christmas time, apart from its sacred name; if anything can be apart from that.
Larry Jordan: So what we’ve just done is, we went through the Electro-Voice RE20; then we went to the headset; then we went to the hand mike; then we went to the Tram Lavalier. Clearly, there’s a huge difference between those mikes. The warm richness of the desk mike, but it’s huge and impossible to use, in many shooting situations.
Larry Jordan: The headset mike is great but cannot be confused with looking good at the same time. The lavaliers have an entirely different sound, as does the hand mike; which means that you want to pick a mike that gives you the sound that you want, which looks the way that you want. For instance, a headset mike is perfect for a football game sportscaster, but not necessarily great for a romantic scene and a candlelit dinner.
Voiceover: This Tech Talk was shared from Larry Jordan’s website, at larryjordan.com.
Larry Jordan: One of the things that I like doing is helping people understand how technology works and, thanks to people like Mike and Philip and others that I work with, they give me a chance to share some of what I’ve discovered with you. We’re going to be doing more of that in coming weeks here on The Buzz.
Michael Horton: Really, I help you?
Larry Jordan: Yes you do. My feeling is, if I can explain it so you understand it, then I’m doing a good job of explaining it.
Michael Horton: Okay.
Larry Jordan: It’s been an interesting show.
Michael Horton: I understood that; that was actually pretty good.
Larry Jordan: Actually, you know, Michael, one of the things that’s going to happen is, not only that, but you’re going to carry that as a webbing hour on Movieola.
Michael Horton: Yes, in July.
Larry Jordan: July 21st.
Michael Horton: Yes, it’s going to be good. By the way, I like the Shure the best.
Larry Jordan: The Shure hand mike.
Michael Horton: That was the hand mike, right? Yes.
Larry Jordan: That’s right. I use it for all of my audio only interviews; its’ just a beautiful warm mike and the Trams, the lavaliers, we’re going to be using when we move to our new set; which is in the process.
Michael Horton: We have a new set?
Larry Jordan: We have a new set.
Michael Horton: We’re doing everything new.
Larry Jordan: I’m trying to impress you, really, it’s all about Michael.
Michael Horton: Are we going to have a green screen?
Larry Jordan: We are not going to have a green screen right away.
Michael Horton: Seriously, we need a green screen.
Larry Jordan: It’s going to be interesting. I want to thank our guests this week. We’re starting with Philip Hodgetts, the CEO of Intelligent Assistance; Curtis Fritsch, Senior Audio Engineer and Senior Audio Mixer for Alpha Dogs and Marco Missinato, Composer and Music Producer for Song of Oneness.
Larry Jordan: There’s a lot of history in our industry, but even better you’ll find all our current shows and interviews available at digitalproductionbuzz.com; all searchable, all online and all available. Talk with us on Twitter @DPBuZZ; Facebook, digitalproductionbuzz.com. The music composed by Nathan Doogie Turner; additional music on The Buzz provided by smartsound.com. Text transcripts provided by Take1 and visit take1.tv to learn more. Our producer, Cirina Catania, engineering team, Megan Paulos; Ed Golya; Keegan Guy; Lindsay Luebbert; and Brianna Murphy.
Larry Jordan: On behalf of Mike Horton, that’s him.
Michael Horton: That’s me.
Larry Jordan: My name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to The Buzz.
Michael Horton: Goodbye everybody.
Larry Jordan: The Digital Production Buzz was brought to you by Other World Computing; providing quality hardware solutions and extensive technical support to the worldwide computer industry since 1988.