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Larry Jordan: Paul Saccone is the Senior Director of Product Marketing for Blackmagic Design. He’s been with the company since January 2014. With the recent release of the brand new public beta of DaVinci Resolve 12, I want to chat with Paul and find out what’s in the new software. Hello, Paul, good to have you with us.
Paul Saccone: Hi Larry, good to be here.
Larry Jordan: What’s in the new feature? What have you got?
Paul Saccone: We’ve turned Resolve from just a color correction and finishing system into a full blown NLE. We’ve added advanced trimming tools for things like asymmetric and dynamic trimming, you can now trim live with audio playback, there’s an entirely new audio engine for high sample rate and high bit def audio with a new mixer and plug-in support. We’ve added multi-camera editing.
Paul Saccone: We’ve got a great new smooth cut transition that uses optical flow algorithms to smooth out cuts in interviews so you don’t have to cover jump cuts with B roll. We’ve got a brand new media manager which is specifically designed for editorial workflows and other nice smaller things like transition curves for editable transfers, the ability to animate with key frames and on-screen motion paths with Bezier control, all of that stuff.
Larry Jordan: There are already Avid Media Composer and Premiere Pro and Final Cut, which you have intimate knowledge of. Why turn Resolve into an NLE?
Paul Saccone: As our customers that are finishing and doing color correction are under increasing deadlines, they were asking us to put in tools that allowed them to do some basic editing so that they could essentially have an online editor that allowed them to make last minute changes without having to go back to their creative editor.
Paul Saccone: So as we did that, they started asking us for more and more features; and, in addition, in order to be interoperable with the Final Cuts and the Avids of the world, we had to keep adding these features, so just turned it into a full blown NLE at this point.
Larry Jordan: What do we need to be able to run Resolve? What kind of hardware?
Paul Saccone: Any current Mac or Windows machine will do. It really relies heavily on your GPU, so the faster your graphics card and the more memory you have, the better.
Larry Jordan: And where can we go to download a copy and what does it cost?
Paul Saccone: You can go to blackmagicdesign.com. Right on our homepage you’ll see a download link for the public beta of DaVinci Resolve 12 and DaVinci Resolve 12 is free, so if you’re an independent editor working in SD, HD or Ultra HD, you can use the free version of the software. If you’re in a multiuser workgroup and need some of the advanced features like temporal and spatial noise reduction, the collaborative stuff that I mentioned and the shared database, then you can get the full version of DaVinci Resolve 12 Studio for $995.
Larry Jordan: Paul Saccone is the Senior Director of Product Marketing for Blackmagic Design. Paul, I look forward to talking to you a lot more about this when the product actually ships, and thanks for joining us today.
Paul Saccone: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: Pilar Alessandra is the director of the popular writing workshops ‘On the Page’ and author of ‘The Coffee Break Screenwriter.’ She teaches screenwriting, pitching and story analysis at workshops around the world and, as a script consultant, Pilar has helped thousands of writers create, refine and, most importantly, sell their scripts. Hello, Pilar, glad to have you with us.
Pilar Alessandra: Hello. Thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: What got you started writing scripts?
Pilar Alessandra: My background is not as a writer. My background is as a story analyst and I started as a script reader when I was in my 20s, reading for Amplin Entertainment, and then as senior story analyst when it became Dreamworks.
Larry Jordan: Now, what does reading mean?
Pilar Alessandra: A script reader is probably the first person to look at a script when it’s submitted to a studio and that person then figures out what kind of a script it is, what its strengths and weaknesses are and whether or not it will make a good film.
Larry Jordan: So you were the gatekeeper preventing most people from having a successful script?
Pilar Alessandra: Yes. My husband’s nickname for me is Crusher of Dreams, or at least it was before I started teaching. It’s one of the reasons I started teaching, actually, so I could actually help.
Larry Jordan: Well, Crusher of Dreams is definitely a statement, that’s for sure.
Pilar Alessandra: You can just call me Crusher. It’s all right.
Larry Jordan: Now, from then you went to an analyst. What’s the difference between a reader and an analyst?
Pilar Alessandra: A story analyst is a reader, so that was my background, I was a story analyst. The nickname for them is readers. As a script consultant, which is what I do now, I work one on one with writers, really helping them with their individual scripts so that when they get to those gates that are kept, their scripts are in really good shape and people will be more open to them.
Larry Jordan: As a reader, before you started your own company, what was the one thing you noticed about the scripts you were looking at?
Pilar Alessandra: I think it was one of the reasons I became a teacher. I kept seeing certain things that were really popping off the page and making people excited about a script and then I would see certain things that made them put it down, made them get bored, made them pass it, basically give the script a pass.
Larry Jordan: For instance?
Pilar Alessandra: I think always there’s that idea of the unique idea. If they were excited about the writing but it was an idea they’d seen a thousand times, unfortunately it was a pass. But that also didn’t mean that it couldn’t be an idea we’ve maybe seen – let’s say a bank robbery movie – but if there was a twist on the idea, if there was a fresh take on the idea, that also excited them. So seeing what writers did to spin even tropes that we know and make them new, that was something that I started seeing and some of the things that I started adding to classes.
Larry Jordan: Which came first, becoming a story consultant or writing a book?
Pilar Alessandra: Believe it or not, teaching and consulting, because I think teaching teaches you and I was able to see what tools I was teaching my writers that were actually helping in the moment and helping them make their scripts better. That was a great test for what would work in the book. I think almost like somebody who’s doing a cookbook, you have to test out the recipes first.
Larry Jordan: What are some of the tricks or techniques that writers need to keep in mind to make their scripts sellable?
Pilar Alessandra: A lot of what I teach in class, when we get to the rewrite stage, has to do with editing, and you probably know that better than anybody else – that economy is everything and often in a first draft people have put their entire brain on a page and that can be exciting that first time around, but you have to chip away and chip away and get to what the focus of the scenes are, what the real story is. That takes some craftsmanship.
Larry Jordan: Is it that they’re writing too many words and they’re not letting the visuals breathe? Or is it that they’re trying to prove that they’ve done the research?
Pilar Alessandra: I think it’s a little of both. I think you really nailed it. Sometimes it is just over-choreography, so instead of saying ‘She takes a drink of water’, it would be ‘Her arm reaches out, her hands grasp the glass, she raises it to her mouth, she takes a sip of water’, so too much choreography. But you’re right, sometimes it’s the research, where they want to show off what they know and what they know may have nothing to do with the story.
Larry Jordan: I’ve been watching a series from England called ‘Foyle’s War,’ which is set in the time around World War II. One of the comments they made is that the lead actor kept saying, “Take out words. Let me do more gestures, let me do more facial expressions, let me say less,” and for writers, where you think everything has to be written on the page, taking out a word and putting in a gesture is a very dangerous thing because you don’t exactly know what that gesture is. How do you encourage writers to write visually as opposed to orally?
Pilar Alessandra: I think what I usually say is it’s actually more powerful. You write in that action, suddenly the camera is close on that action, you’re expressing more than you could ever express in a line of dialogue. Try it, take out that line of dialogue, replace it with an action and suddenly you are in a sense directing your movie without the director knowing he’s being directed.
Larry Jordan: And for a much smaller budget.
Pilar Alessandra: Right, exactly.