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Transcript: Digital Production Buzz – August 20, 2015

Digital Production Buzz

August 20, 2015

[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]

(Click here to listen to this show.)
HOSTS

Larry Jordan & Mike Horton

GUESTS

Philip Hodgetts, President, Lumberjack System

Sean Mullen, CEO & Lead Creative, Rampant Design Tools

Doug Sheer, CEO / Chief Analyst, D.I.S. Consulting

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Larry Jordan: Tonight on The Buzz, Philip Hodgetts, the CEO of Intelligent Assistance and Lumberjack Systems, is a noted technologist with a love of media.  Recently he developed The Haiku of Production, and tonight he explains what this means and how we can use it ourselves.

Larry Jordan: Rampant Design Tools recently launched over 2,000 new 4K effects for filmmakers, some of which are free. Tonight, CEO Sean Mullen showcases his latest titles.

Larry Jordan: Finally, D.I.S. Consulting, founded in 1982, specializes in research to the broadcast and pro-audio-video industry.  This week, Doug Sheer, their CEO, explains what his company does and how it can help us better understand our markets and our audiences. 

Larry Jordan:  All this plus Tech Talk and Buzz Flashback.  The Digital Production Buzz starts now.

Announcer #1: Tonight’s Digital Production Buzz is brought to you by Otherworld Computing at macsales.com and by XenData, at xendata.com.

Announcer #2: 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 and marketing around the world.  My name is Larry Jordan, and joining us as our co-host, the ever affable, ever handsome, every vivacious, Mr. Mike Horton. 

Mike Horton: Hello, Larry!

Larry Jordan: By the way, I should mention that our news editor, Randy Altman, has the week off.

Mike Horton: Oh darn, really?

Larry Jordan: Yes.

Mike Horton: That’s why I come in here.  Go ahead, Larry.

Larry Jordan: Gosh, thank you.  Mike, I moderated an interesting panel last night that was sponsored by Keycode Media and Sony about the future of post.

Mike Horton: You had a lot of really good people there a

Larry Jordan: We had Michael Cioni, who is the president of Light Iron, who’s been on the show; Michael Whippel, who’s the chief engineer for Sony Picture Entertainment that handles their post production.  He builds the equipment.  Then Brian McMahan, who is the Senior Digital Colorist for Modern Video Film was the artist talking about how to use the equipment.

Mike Horton: I think we’ve had Brian on this show before.

Larry Jordan: We have had.

Mike Horton: He does all the big movies.

Larry Jordan: And what I was interested in was, where’s the future?  Is the future in 4K or is the future in High Dynamic Range, HDR video or something new is Wide Color Gamma.

Mike Horton: Yes, you and I talked about this a little bit, and I didn’t see that there was much future for HDR, but you think there is before 4K, at least on TV.

Larry Jordan: Well, I think that it’s going to be really, really hard for the audience to see a difference between a 2K and a 4K image.

Mike Horton: Well, yes.

Larry Jordan: And from a marketing point of view maybe, but from a real point of view probably not.  But the ability to see differences in video from HDR to what Mike Cioni called SDR, Standard Dynamic Range, HDR is just going to jump off the screen and wrap its arms around you and wrestle you to the couch!

Mike Horton: Yes, but don’t you think HDR really looks video-like? 

Larry Jordan: No!

Mike Horton: You don’t?

Larry Jordan: No, I think it looks much more real.

Mike Horton: Really?

Larry Jordan: Yes.  Remember how video highlights blowout in such a way that it just looks bad, as opposed to the way film highlights blowout when it’s over-exposed?  HDR gives us much more of a filmic look, because we’re able to retain the detail and the highlights.

Mike Horton: That panel last night, was it on a big screen?  Were you looking at images on a big screen?

Larry Jordan: No.

Mike Horton: Or was it just cues?

Larry Jordan: Just talking.  We didn’t do any image analysis.

Mike Horton: I’m telling you, I don’t like HDR.

Larry Jordan: You don’t like HDR?

Mike Horton: I like it in still photography and what you can do with it, but on movies, it just looks like video. 

Larry Jordan: Well, we will have to see.

Mike Horton: People on chat, tell me that I’m right!

Larry Jordan: I just want to say I did some checking and currently Media Composer and Final Cut and Premier don’t support HDR, so it’s a future thing.  I think we’re going to hear more at IBC; we’ll just have to see.  Thank you, Mike.

Mike Horton: Okay.  I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Larry Jordan: You always know what you’re talking about!  In fact, Mike and I are going to be right back with Philip Hodgetts talking about The Haiku of Production right after this.

Still to come on The Buzz:  Philip Hodgetts, Sean Mullen, Doug Sheer, Tech Talk and The Buzz Flashback.

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Larry Jordan: Philip Hodgetts is the CEO of Intelligent Assistance and Lumberjack System.  He’s also involved with technology in virtually every area of digital production and post production.  Even better, he’s a regular contributor to The Buzz.  Hello, Philip, welcome back!

Philip Hodgetts:  And I guess Michael?

Mike Horton: Yes, me too, I’m here!  I’m the guy with the mug!

Larry Jordan: Michael is the technologist in the group, so if there’s a technical question you’ve got, Philip, that you don’t know the answer to…

Mike Horton: Yes, if you want to know anything about metadata, Philip, you want to ask me!

Philip Hodgetts: I have a couple of codec questions for you later.

Mike Horton: Okay.

Larry Jordan: Philip, I love the phrase, The Haiku of Production.  What does that mean?

Philip Hodgetts: It’s a phrase I coined to try and describe what I was doing with the solo odyssey, because a haiku is a very specific type of poetry.  It has a very rigid structure and you have to try and fit whatever thought you want to do into that very rigid structure and, in that way, I see that what I’m trying to do with a small production kit and still maintain quality is trying to fit something into a very rigid structure which, in this case, it’s that over the shoulder bag that I demonstrated with on an early show this year.

Larry Jordan: I want to talk more about the reduced gear, but I want to think about whether The Haiku of Production is moving in the right direction or not.  I can understand when you want to do run and gun shooting having the least amount of gear, because it’s easy to run and gun when you’re not carrying tons of stuff, but video is in the details: putting the right amount of light in the right spot.  Putting the right microphone in the right spot.  And sometimes, having a choice of tools allows you to get higher quality production.  Are we at cross purposes here?

Philip Hodgetts: No, in the same way that a haiku is only one form of poetry, there are probably 20, 30, 40, 50 other forms of poetry and various structures in poetry.  Sticking with my analogy, different types of production fit into different roles. So I want to be able to carry stuff internationally.  I want to be able to carry a kit into a restaurant and set up without imposing on the restaurant, without having to have three or four people around and the additional logistics that that requires.  So this is really not so much a case of are we doing the highest possible quality production we can, this is more a case of let’s do production that we couldn’t do in any other way.  There’s no reason that anyone should be forced to write a haiku, and there’s no reason that anyone should be forced to try and make a reduced, minimalist production kit unless they want to travel internationally and not have to be weighed down by six or seven bags.

Mike Horton: Speaking of that, there are more and more airlines now restricting what you can bring on your overheard or underneath bags.  Pretty soon they won’t allow you to bring on pretty much anything other than your purse and what you absolutely need, and so what you’re getting into, Philip, is what you’re going to have to have for your production gear.  So the less you have, the better off you are.

Philip Hodgetts: You know, this is not the only type of production I get involved with.  When we’ve needed some promotional video for Lumberjack, I made sure that we shot with some really nice Blackmagic cameras, we had all of the lighting, we used reflectors.  It was a quality production, because that’s what we were going for.  Whereas, in what I’m doing with the haiku kit is that I’m trying to create a good quality production, something that I can work with, but not carry a lot of gear and yes, it does mean you compromise.  It does mean that you don’t have a belt in case the braces fail, or a brace in case the belt fails.  So you do have to accept that you’re trying to fit into a particular structure, and there will have to be compromises, and if you don’t have to make those compromises that’s great!  If you’ve got a chase car and a truck yay for you! 

Larry Jordan: Well the analogy that comes to mind is that haiku poetry is minimalist poetry, and what you’re looking at here is minimalist production.  How do you get something that’s artistic haiku with the least amount of words, the least amount of syllables, the least amount of gear.  So it seems to me that the analogy is in the minimalism, is that fair?

Philip Hodgetts: I would think so, yes.  I mean a haiku is a very minimalist piece of poetry.  It think it only has 21 syllables.  I probably should have looked that up before I came on the show!  But yes, it is kind of a think with me know is how small can I go?  We do trade off in the compromise.  We trade off the flexibility of having to have that dynamic swoop around the table show, or the dynamic shot swooping in on the food for that pick-up shot, you know?  You do have to trade off.

Mike Horton: The crane shot for your food!

Philip Hodgetts: Yes, the crane shot over the table.  I’m happy to compromise on that.

Mike Horton: Exactly!

Philip Hodgetts: You know, for the other show that we’re doing in the Lunch with Philip and Greg Show, there’s no real compromise because we have to set up within the restaurant context, and we can only do that with the sort of minimalist kit I’ve been using, but for the other show that Greg and I are doing, the cooking show, you know, we’re including a DSLR, so we do have the two GoPros for those over the camera shots, but we also have a camera that we alternate using so that we can get those moving shows and add the dynamism without adding too much to the production kit.  And yes, I’m carrying a light because you do have to fill some light sometimes.

Larry Jordan: Well, I want to hear more about this Lunch with Philip and Greg thing.  What’s that?

Philip Hodgetts: It’s an idea that I had a couple of months back, and finally we started implementing it around the time of the Final Cut Pro X Creative Summit up in San José.  It is literally what it sounds like.  Greg Clark and myself take somebody that we find interesting out to lunch – an open invitation, Larry, when you’re ready!  We take them somewhere nice and we set up little lapel mics, the same kit that we showed on The Buzz a couple of months back.  Lapel mics on each person and two 4K GoPros facing both sides of the table.  Now, from the 4K GoPro I can do a nice zoom in.  I can extract a two shot or two single shots of Greg and I.  I’ve got a lot more flexibility in post production to play with it and simply drag and drop presets from the browser onto the multicam clip makes it very easy in Final Cut X to reframe the shots as we go, so go back to those same shots over and over.  So by having the oversampling, I’ve got that flexibility.

Philip Hodgetts: It’s really just a way of getting to know people that we’ve known in one way or another for a long time, and getting to know the person as opposed to the public figure.  It’s surprising how long you can know people and really know nothing about them.

Mike Horton: Do you ask for permission to mount the cameras at the restaurants?

Philip Hodgetts: No, I learnt a long time ago that it was a lot easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, because if you ask for permission people start to think about it.  If you just put the cameras up, nobody complains.  I’ve been incredibly surprised that we can put two cameras up.  We’re only using like clamps and the goosenecks, so they’re very non-intrusive, but either the wait staff have asked what was going on, or mostly they just ignore it.

Larry Jordan: Philip, on our live chat, Russ Fairley has been taking you at your word on The Haiku of Production, and wants to remind you that a haiku poem is three lines.  The first line is five syllables, the second is seven syllables and the third is five syllables, for a total of 17 syllables.  I mention this only because you now have two GoPros, so you’ve got 15 other thingies that you can put in your kit!

Larry Jordan: How are you getting rid of lens distortion?  Because the GoPro, because of the fisheye lens, is not a flattering camera for interviews.

Philip Hodgetts: No, and I have learnt that putting them in too close is very, very unflattering.

Mike Horton: But can’t you turn that off?  Isn’t there a little switch or something like that, that you don’t have to shoot that fisheye? 

Philip Hodgetts: It depends on the mode in the GoPro.  The 4K has only one lens angle option.  If you’re going in 1080 mode, you can go into narrower options, and that’s what I used on the family history video.  I shot 1080 and had one camera in a narrow and one camera in a wide, a two shot.

Philip Hodgetts: I probably do have more than 15 other things in the bag when you count, and it certainly comes up to five tracks in my multi-clip, because I have the two video tracks and three audio tracks, angles in my multi-clip.

Larry Jordan: So let’s just talk gear for a minute.  What gear are you using?  What microphones are you using, and how are you attaching stuff to the table?

Philip Hodgetts: I’m sorry, just before I’ll finish the lens distortion question.  There are two solutions.  One, you can just move in very, very close to the screen and lens distortion will go away, because it’s really only because we’re taking a wide angle and squeezing it into a screen that we get that lens distortion at all, but a more practical solution that’s a bit more flexible than making everyone sit this far from the screen is to use one of the very many lens distortion reversal filters.  I happen to use 4D, Alex Gollner, simply because Alex was coming on the show.  His remove lens distortion filter is free and I thought it would be a nice irony to use Alex’s filter on Alex’s shots.

Larry Jordan: I tend to favour the filter to take the lens curve out, because that way you don’t have to worry about where the people are sitting and you can still clean it up.

Philip Hodgetts: Yes.

Larry Jordan: So what other gear do you have?

Philip Hodgetts: Pretty much the same kit that I showed for the family history video: the two 4K GoPros in the strap mount, so very low profile.  I mount those on goosenecks, and you can actually mount multiple goosenecks to get the table height if you want.  I have learnt that in most cases, attaching to a chair or a nearby railing is better than the table because very few restaurant tables are stable enough not to wobble!

Mike Horton: A lot of camera jiggle!

Philip Hodgetts: The stabilise filter is going to get a real workout on at least one of the lunches coming up.

Philip Hodgetts: Then there are the three Zoom H1N’s for the audio recorder for speech.  The participant gets one recorder.  I’m using an inexpensive lapel microphone that’s sold on Amazon as a replacement for a Sennheiser radio mic.

Larry Jordan: Hold it, hold it, hold it!  Why are you recording on three separate Zoom recorders as opposed to using dual channel mono?

Philip Hodgetts: Well, because this way I can have one lapel microphone and one on each person feeding into a recorder in their pocket, and there are no wires travelling around the table to get caught up.  Radio mics add another layer of complexity, another layer of having something else to check.

Larry Jordan: I wasn’t asking about a radio mic, but the Zoom can record two microphones, because it’s a stereo recorder.  You wouldn’t need the third.  You could just have you and Greg, say, on channel one and channel two, and the guest on a second recorder.  Why did you decide to go with three?

Philip Hodgetts: Well, because there is no simple way of plugging those into a Zoom recorder, they only have one input on these particular models, and so I would have to get a wire rig, and that would be more connectors, and more connectors there’s more chance of points of failure.  Plus, having the separate recorder means that it’s just very easy for me to switch the audio angles in Final Cut Pro X as people start to talk.  It works remarkably well; I’m quite surprised. 

Larry Jordan: Okay, and are you doing anything with lighting?

Philip Hodgetts: For the Lunch with Philip and Greg, no, apart from choosing carefully where we sit and where we place the cameras, keeping the angle of the light in mind.  For example, we recorded lunch with Gerry Hoffman up in Colorado last week, and although the view out to the river and the hillside behind would have been a much nicer view than the restaurant wall, the light was coming from that direction, and so we learnt back in the day to keep the light behind the camera, and so I stick with that.  That’s my lighting in the restaurant.  The other reason is its lunch for that reason, so there is some natural light in the restaurant.

Larry Jordan: What did you decide for a mic?

Philip Hodgetts: It’s a very inexpensive, I think 29.95 sold on Amazon as a replacement microphone for a Sennheiser radio microphone pack.  It’s got the twist on screw thread that matches the Sennheiser.  Overall, I’ve been very impressed with those microphones.  I mean, as your series shows, every microphone has its own unique characteristics, but these have been remarkably good at rejecting the sound that I don’t want and keeping the close mic sound, to the point where, under the pathway for the San José International Airport, it rejected the aircraft noise…

Philip Hodgetts: Wow!

Mike Horton: …to an acceptable level.  So yes, the whole kit is probably under $1500 without the DSLR.

Larry Jordan: New subject, are you going to IBC, and what are your plans for Amsterdam?

Philip Hodgetts: I am going to IBC, and certainly will be showing Lumberjack at the Supermeet and the Intelligent Assistance software, and I think we’re going to be part of the FCP work Soho Editors project where they’re going to have a Final Cut Pro X expo for a couple of days during Amsterdam, and I want to shoot Lunch with Philip and Greg and some semi-serious foodie shows while we’re there.

Mike Horton: When are you getting there?  Because I’m getting there early and I’m leaving late.

Philip Hodgetts: Well, I’ve decided that, since I’ve got to do the long air flight we’re going to get there the week before and fly down to Barcelona and stay with a friend there and do some foodie shows, then come back to IBC and after IBC go down to Munich and spent some time with a long time friend of the family, who I haven’t seen for five years, so that should be fun too.

Mike Horton: Yes.

Larry Jordan: So one last question on pontification, which I know you hate to do, but what are you looking to see at IBC?  What should we pay attention to?

Philip Hodgetts: Everything that was announced at the NAB!

Mike Horton: Exactly!

Philip Hodgetts: I mean my interest is in post production, so I’m still looking for a better miniature audio recorder than the Zoom H1.  It’s kind of a little clumsy to put in your pocket, and if I could find a smaller recorder that can take the micro SD cards, I’d certainly be looking for that.  Really just to keep a feel for what’s going on.  An interesting thing about IBC is that it’s the European version, so you see a lot of European companies have a much better presence than they do at NAB, so you see a different range of products in some cases.

Larry Jordan: It’s going to be a fun trip.  I’ve always enjoyed going to Amsterdam, and the one time that Mike allowed me to go to IBC, which was very kind of you, I might add, I had a great time at the show.

Philip Hodgetts: You stayed there for 18 hours and got on the plane and came home.

Larry Jordan: Well yes, but I didn’t have to sleep during that time!

Philip Hodgetts: I love Amsterdam, it’s one of my favourite cities and I’m kind of glad IBC is held there as a good excuse to go every year.

Mike Horton: Absolutely!

Larry Jordan: Where can people see Lunch with Philip and Greg?  Is it starting to be released, or are you still in production?

Philip Hodgetts: There are four published, and the simplest way to do it is simply type in the URL, lunchwithphilipandgreg.com.  That will take you to a filtered feed of the philiphodgetts.com blog that shows you only the lunch episodes.

Larry Jordan: And for people who want to keep track of the rest of what Philip Hodgetts is going, where can they go?

Philip Hodgetts: philiphodgetts.com; lumberjacksystem.com or intelligentassistance.com.

Larry Jordan: And that’s the Philip Hodgetts himself.  Philip, as always, a delight visiting.  I look forward to seeing you when you get back from Amsterdam.

Mike Horton: See you next week, Philip, at Lassiters!

Larry Jordan: Still to come on The Buzz, Sean Mullen, Doug Sheer, Tech Talk and The Buzz Flashback.

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Larry Jordan: Sean Mullen is the CEO of Rampant Design Tools.  He is also an EMI award-winning visual effects artist with over 60 feature film and television credits, including Charmed. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ali McBeal, ER, and Nip Tuck.  His company, Rampant Design Tools, specialises in creating original drag and drop visual elements for editors and VFX artists, and they have been busy!  Hello Sean, welcome back!

Sean Mullen: Hi Larry, hi Mike!  How are my two favourite people here?

Mike Horton: Hi, Sean! 

Larry Jordan:  So here’s the question, you obviously don’t sleep, so the first thing I want to know is what have you released lately?

Sean Mullen: Everything!  Pretty much.  Since I saw you at NAB, I’ve released 18 volumes.

Larry Jordan: 18 volumes of what?

Sean Mullen: Tons of transitions, overlays.  We did a texture toolkit with over 1600 12K textures.  We did motion graphics for our Editor product, all kinds of things.

Mike Horton: How do you come up with 1600 textures?

Larry Jordan: He does one texture; it’s red and then it’s blue and then it’s green and it’s the same texture, it’s just different colours!

Sean Mullen: That makes things a lot easier.

Mike Horton: Okay, well now I understand!

Sean Mullen: Just rotate the hue!

Larry Jordan: Sean, one of the things you’ve been doing recently is doing a lot of 4K work, and I want to just chat with you about that.  Why the interest in 4K, is there really a market for it?

Sean Mullen: Our higher end clients, the studios and the people doing features are all requesting 4K or higher.  Do I think everyone’s delivering in 4K right now?  No, but there’s a lot of productions protecting for 4K and delivering in 1080, so I think right now the big thing is protecting for 4K, just like back in the day when we would work in SD, but you would shoot it in film so you’d protect it for HD.  You know, I think they’re doing the same thing nowadays where they’re protecting for 4K if and when broadcast 4K really picks up.

Larry Jordan: Well, why can’t we just take our regular 1080 stuff and scale it up?

Sean Mullen: I mean there’s some pretty amazing hardware and software technologies out there, but to up res an entire show would take a lot, and it still doesn’t quite look right.  I’m sure it would be fine.  I mean there are some networks that still produce in 720 and they broadcast in 1080, you really can’t tell.  But if you put a true 4K image next to an upres’d 1080 image, I think you’d definitely tell the difference.

Mike Horton: On a TV?

Sean Mullen: Oh, I believe so.  As a matter of fact, if you go to like your Best Buy where they have a Samsung 1080 right next to a Samsung 4K playing the same feed, it’s night and day.

Mike Horton: Oh.  How come it’s night and day in the Best Buy, but it’s not night and day in your house?

Sean Mullen: Just a ridiculous amount of compression, I think.  I mean once H265 really takes over, I think that will completely change, but right now you’re seeing a lot of 4K delivered super crunchy.

Mike Horton: Yes, well I meant there are some 4K in your house with 4K displays, and if you go that person’s house and watch that 4K display, it certainly doesn’t look anything different than my 1080 at home.

Sean Mullen: That’s true.  If you get a 4K Blu-ray or an actual 4K feed in that monitor, or go to YouTube and watch 4K, it’s gorgeous.  But you’re absolutely right, the satellite delivered 4K is really crunchy.

Mike Horton: I don’t even see the difference when I watch a 4K YouTube thing.

Larry Jordan: But that’s because you’re watching it with your glasses off, Mike.

Mike Horton: I’m watching it on the computer!

Larry Jordan: It isn’t 4K on the computer.  It is in 2K on the computer.

Mike Horton: Even on my retina computer, no?

Larry Jordan: Even, no.

Mike Horton: What am I watching, then?

Larry Jordan: Well, I don’t know what you’re watching.  I don’t want to know what you’re watching, I want to talk to Sean.  Suddenly we’re talking about your home movie collection.

Mike Horton: I don’t understand what we’re talking about here.

Larry Jordan: Okay.  Sean, what kind of stuff have you been releasing?  What are your effects about?

Sean Mullen: Well, we were asked quite a bit recently to make transitions, so we’ve been making a lot of custom transitions, everything from flare transitions and glitch transitions to I made a series of matte transitions.  We had a very popular matte product a while back and so I made a supplemental transition pack for it.  Just a lot of hand created transitions.  We did a Motion Graphics for Editors kit, where it has 600 pre-animated elements for editors and they can drag on and make their own mograph, which has done really well and, of course, your favourite Texture Toolkit, where I shot one texture and rotated it 1600 times!

Larry Jordan: By the way, you have a lot of fans on the live chat.  Russ says, “Since we added an URSA camera, my clients insist on 4K, so it’s pretty much a rampant town around here.”  So fans are all over the live chat today.

Sean Mullen: Well, that means a lot.

Mike Horton: Yes, Monica’s in there.  She’s saying where are you?  Well, nobody can figure out how to use this live chat.

Larry Jordan: We have to give Michael instruction on how to chat.

Mike Horton: They did, it was a 30 minute demo on how to use this thing!

Larry Jordan: A very sad situation.

Larry Jordan: Who are the clients that are buying the 4K?  Are you seeing it just going to high end studios or is it broader?  What I’m trying to figure out is how big a groundswell do we have for 4K or is it still being driven by marketing hype?

Sean Mullen: 4K in general is definitely marketing hype.  You know, you want to sell the new TVs, you’re not going to sell a lot of 1080p TVs right now, so with Black Friday and the Superbowl coming up, you’re going to want to push that in 4K, whether or not you’re going to get 4K.  But for us, I would say 40% to 50% of our sales are 4K.  I’ve done a lot of tutorials showing editors that, even if you’re working in HD, the 4K gives you a lot more latitude.  You know, you can rotate the frame, you can scale it, so you can get a lot more flexibility out of the effects by using 4K and 1080.  That being said, our 2K products outsell our 4K products quite a bit, just because some people are afraid of 4K, thinking their machine won’t push it, but, in reality, it’s really not that heavy of an element to put on top of your footage.

Larry Jordan: From a computer point of view, 4K doesn’t make any difference.

Mike Horton: Even I know that!

Larry Jordan: From a storage point of view, it does take more storage. 

Sean Mullen: That’s correct.

Larry Jordan: What format are you shipping for 4K?

Sean Mullen: I do everything in ProRes.

Larry Jordan: 4:2:2, four by four?

Sean Mullen: It depends.  If it has an alpha channel, it’s quad four, if it doesn’t it’s 4:2:2.

Larry Jordan: 4:2:2: or 4:2:2 HQ?

Sean Mullen: I try to do HQ, it just depends.  For the download versions, I’ll give you HQ or LT, on the hard drive versions everything is best quality as possible, because we ship you a hard drive, so drive space is irrelevant at that point.

Mike Horton: The download version, are we talking big, big downloads?

Sean Mullen: Oh yes!

Mike Horton: That take three to four days.

Sean Mullen: Absolutely.  At 4K, yes, you’re looking at, you know, between 30 and 60 gigabytes for a volume.

Mike Horton: Oh wow!

Larry Jordan: 30 and 60 gigabytes for a volume?  And you’ve done 18 volumes?

Sean Mullen: Oh, total we’re in the neighbourhood of something like 30 or 40 volumes.  I mean my Amazon bill is huge!  But yes, I’m not going to sacrifice quality just for the ability to download.  If it’s really an issue, we’ll ship it to you on a hard drive, which we offer all the time, but there’s really no reason for the end result to suffer because the download takes a little bit longer.

Larry Jordan: What’s been a popular seller?  Transitions or some of those light leaks that you’ve put together, or what?

Sean Mullen: Our light leaks do really well, everything from the free stuff all the way up to the 4K.  We have editors of all types using our light leaks everywhere.  You see a lot of our mattes and lens flares and light leaks on America’s Got Talent.  Our stuff is everywhere, but the light leaks and the flares and the light effects are definitely the most popular.

Larry Jordan: The live chat has already spotted the live cat walking behind you.  We want to know if the office mascot has a name.

Sean Mullen: That’s Dash.  We have five cats.  It’s like Animal Kingdom here, so there’s lots of animals all over the place.

Mike Horton: As a matter of fact, Dash is one of the transitions!

Sean Mullen: Yes, we’re going to do cat effects!

Mike Horton: Walks across the screen.  The Dash effect!

Larry Jordan: The Dash effect.

Larry Jordan: What are you working on next?  More transitions, more visual effects, or is there a cool new thing you’ve just discovered that you can’t talk about, or is it more of the same at the moment?

Sean Mullen: There’s definitely cool stuff that I can’t talk abut, but I will say we’re doing a whole new series of effects and I know you’re going to not like this, maybe, we’ve been asked to develop an 8K series for a studio, so we’re going to start working on 8K sooner than later.

Mike Horton: Well, you probably should because the Olympics are coming up in Tokyo, and it’s going to be all 8K over there. 

Sean Mullen: Exactly.

Mike Horton: So you might as well start doing it for them.

Sean Mullen: We have friends at Technicolor who told us that 8K is coming, and it’s coming fast.

Mike Horton: Sure!

Larry Jordan: Although we’re going to be shooting 8K, like we’re shooting 6K now, but I wonder if we’re going to be editing 8K?  And I wonder if you’re going to be able to see it, because how are you going to monitor in 8K?

Mike Horton: You talked to Sony last night.  They showed a complete workflow from shooting 8K, editing 8K, broadcasting 8K.

Larry Jordan: But when I put him on the spot, he said 4K’s going to be our distribution format for the next ten years.  8K is going to be what we originate in.

Mike Horton: Yes, but we’d like to see it and we talk about it, and it’s fun.

Larry Jordan: You’re not going to see an 8K image!

Mike Horton: We did, we saw it on a big 8K display. It’s huge!  It looked like video.

Larry Jordan: Wrong!  It’s just…  Sean, talk to Mike quietly after the show’s over, would you?  Just explain to him just how…

Mike Horton: It looked like crap.

Larry Jordan: …how wrong he is!  For people that want more information about your products, where can they go?

Sean Mullen: They can go to rampantdesigntools.com.

Larry Jordan: All one word. Rampantdesigntools.com.

Mike Horton: And, by the way, Rampant is going away raffle prizes at the Amsterdam Supermeet.  So another reason to go there.  Right, Sean?

Sean Mullen: Absolutely, Mike!

Mike Horton: Get Stephanie on it.

Larry Jordan: The website is rampantdesigntools.com.  Sean Mullens, the CEO.  Sean, thanks for joining us today.

Sean Mullen: Thank you, Larry and Mike.

Mike Horton: Thanks.

Larry Jordan: Bye-bye.

Larry Jordan: Still to come on The Buzz, Doug Sheer, Tech Talk and Buzz Flashback.

Larry Jordan: Hi, I’ve got a ton of brand new training videos showcasing all the new features in Final Cut Pro 10.2, and it’s available today.  In fact, we’ve updated our entire Final Cut training just for this release.  We added more than 70 new movies covering every major new feature in the software.  Then I added new techniques and new ways of working that I’ve discovered and written about in my newsletter over the years.  I updated our workflow and editing training with 31 new movies and effects with 41 new movies.

Larry Jordan: This makes our Final Cut Pro X 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.  I’m proud of all of my training, and especially 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 our training for one low monthly price.  Both are incredible value.  Thanks!

Larry Jordan: This is Tech Talk from The Digital Production Buzz.

Larry Jordan: One of the features that separates Final Cut from other editing software is its ability to label clips using keywords.  A keyword is a descriptor that describes some part of a clip, maybe a costume, the actor that’s in it, or any other characteristic that you prefer.  The cool thing is that we can search on keywords and build both keyword collections and smart collections, which is what I want to illustrate today.

Larry Jordan: I’ve got a bunch of clips here that we’ve imported.  Now, you know when you import clips that you can import keywords based upon folder names, which is what’s happened here.  This is part of the import process and, while very useful, it’s even more important to be able to add keywords to clips as part of the editing process.  For instance, here I’ve got a polar bear.  If we want to see what keywords are associated with the polar bear, we go down to this key icon right here, and when that clip is selected we see that it’s been assigned a keyword for animals and a keyword for Pond5.

Larry Jordan: Notice these icons right here, the blue icon.  These are called keyword collections.  When you click on a keyword collection – let’s close the keyword window – only those clips that have been assigned the animal keyword are displayed, even though all the clips are available to me.  The keyword collection gives me a subset of those clips, to which a keyword has been assigned.

Larry Jordan: We’ve got other keyword collections of dance and people and, say, space.  Well, let’s say that I want to create another keyword collection.  I want to say let’s highlight everything that’s a bear.  So we’ll hold a command key down and select the black bear and a grizzly bear and a polar bear.  Select our key icon and we’ll give it the word ‘bear’.  And when I press Enter, we’ve added that keyword.  Notice that bear is not part of the tiger clip, but it is part of the bear clip, and a new keyword collection is bear, which allows me to see just the bear clips as part of the animal clips, which is part of all the media which is in that particular stock footage folder.

Larry Jordan: This ability to assign an unlimited number of keywords to any combination of clips makes it really easy for us to not just have to group clips in folders, but to group them by content or subject matter.

Larry Jordan: Where this power becomes especially important is when we start to find the stuff.  If we go up to the search box up here and I type the word bear, I search for those clips that have bear in the filename or bear in the notes field associated with that clip.  But notice that grizzly’s not there, because the grizzly clip is not called grizzly bear but grizzly sow.

Larry Jordan: What I’d like to be able to do is do a more refined search, which we can do by clicking on the magnifying glass.  This opens up a search filter.  We could search for text if we want, but the key is to click this plus sign right here, and look at all the different things I can search on, whether the media’s used in a project, whether it’s been stabilised, what format it has.  All useful, but the one that I like the best is keywords.  Keywords allows me to display all the keywords that are assigned to every clip inside the selected folder or the selected library.

Larry Jordan: One of the new features inside Final Cut 10.2 is the ability to resize this window.  In the past, we were limited to 27 keywords, now we can do hundreds because even the window, not only can it be resized but we can also scroll it should that become necessary.

Larry Jordan: With this filter, let’s say that I want to find all clips which are both animals and landscape. Now, I’m using the word ‘and’ not in a logical sense, I’m saying that if it has an animal keyword – there it is – or a landscape keyword…  We’ll just show you the landscapes, see no animals!  We’ve got animals, no landscapes or both.  This ‘any’ means that if a clip has either animals or landscape – it’s a Boolean ‘or’ – it’ll show up here in the browser.  If I switch this to ‘and’ include all, now is there any clip that has animals and landscape?  No, so this comes up empty.  But is there a clip that has animals and bear, the answer is yes. All three of these clips have an animal’s keyword and a bear keyword.

Larry Jordan: This ability to use multiple keywords in a variety of combinations, clips that have any of the keywords or clips that must have all the keywords, makes a huge difference in trying to be able to sort through clips.  It’s far superior to simply grouping clips in folders or bins.

Larry Jordan: What makes this especially useful is if we have a search that we like, for instance it must be both animals and bear, we can create what’s called a ‘smart collection’.  A smart collection is a saved search.  We’ll call this ‘animals and bears’, and, notice the colour of the icon.  Blue means it’s a keyword collection assigned automatically, maintained automatically by Final Cut.  A saved search, a smart collection, has got the purple icon.  For instance, if I go back to here and let’s pretend that this iceberg is a bear.  So we’re going to give it a bear – there we go – and we’re going to call it an animal.  Now, those of you who know icebergs know that this is neither a bear nor an animal.  There is a great leap of faith going on here!  But I digress.  Notice when we click on ‘save search’, our new clip, which has got both animals and bear as a keyword assigned to it, shows up as part of the saved search.  Keyword collections and saved searches are maintained automatically by Final Cut.

Larry Jordan:   The power that keywords provide is the ability to organise our clips any way that we want and find clips based upon any combination of keywords that we like.  It is a powerful feature inside Final Cut Pro X.  I recommend you take a look at how it works.

Larry Jordan: Douglas Sheer founded D.I.S. Consulting in 1982, and has led the firm through 550 field studies, researching cameras, servers, storage, audio switchers, lighting, lenses, digital cinematography and much more.  He also currently serves as a governor for the New York region for the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, which all the rest of us call SMPTE.  Hello, Doug, welcome!

Doug Sheer: Hello!

Larry Jordan: Before I offend you, do you want to be Doug or Douglas?  I have managed to say it twice differently?

Doug Sheer: I like Doug.

Larry Jordan: You’ve got it!  Doug, what is D.I.S. Consulting?

Doug Sheer: Well, we are a syndicated market research company.  We do both syndicated studies and also custom projects.

Larry Jordan: What does the word ‘syndicated’ mean?

Doug Sheer: It means that more than one company can buy the same study.

Larry Jordan: Well, research companies have been doing that for a long time where they’ll do research and sell it to anybody that wants to pay for the cheque, so it sounds like syndication also has some control over the content of the study?  Or is it just simply that you’re selling to multiple buyers?

Doug Sheer: Well, another way to say it is multi-client.

Larry Jordan: Oh, okay.  That is much more understandable than syndicated, because syndicated I’m still struggling with.  Who are typical clients?

Doug Sheer: Well, we’ve had over 1700 of them, so you could say that if the study is about cameras or camcorders, it’s most of the major brands supporting that study.

Larry Jordan: So then tell me about the research itself.  What are we trying to determine?

Doug Sheer: Well, the core of any of these studies is the product area, so people are wanting to know what their brand share is.  They want to know which market segments, which regions are purchasing the most equipment or planning to purchase the most equipment, and what kind of equipment they’re going to buy.  There’s a lot of range, let’s say within cameras or camcorders.  We collect our information by censor, and so that’s of more use to the manufacturers.

Larry Jordan: Well, there’s lots of different ways that we can do this.  Are you looking at sales data and trying to see what’s buying or are you looking at demographic data in terms of projecting who the audience is?  What are we looking at?  What are we basing our studies on?

Doug Sheer: Well, we’re basing the studies on feedback directly from end users, in this case broadcasters, professional video or audio users of a variety of types.  So ranging anywhere from institutional users to TV broadcasters to independents, mobile companies (meaning the truck companies) and everything and anything in between.

Larry Jordan: We’ve had a lot of fun over the last several shows talking to several different market companies who are trying to figure out what’s selling or predicting what’s happening in the future, or determining what futures manufacturers need to add to their equipment, what would be an appropriate use of your data?

Doug Sheer: Well, as I say, the central area is the product data, but we go way beyond that.  So in our technology trends section, we look particularly at the features or the specifications that people might want in the next generation of camera, server, whatever the product is.

Larry Jordan: So you’re helping people figure out what the next product should be in terms of a feature set, not just simply whether it’s selling or not?

Doug Sheer: Exactly.

Larry Jordan: So what are some recent studies, and what have you learnt?  Tell me all the gossip!  I really want to know all the secrets here.

Doug Sheer: Well, I think there are a lot of different things going on in the industry at the moment.  One is what I would call prices in freefall.  So, looking at cameras and camcorders as an example, something that you might have had to spend $100,000 for just five or six years ago is now probably something you can put in your hands for less than $10,000.  So you know, we’re seeing that as a real change in the accessibility of equipment to customers.

Mike Horton: That’s a question a lot of us have always been asking.  The price of these cameras and other items have gone from six figures down to a couple of figures.  How did that happen?

Doug Sheer: Well, part of it is competition.  I think part of it is a reaction to the crash of 2008, because in many ways the industry is still reacting to that, is still puling itself up from that and, in fact, another thing I would say is a big trend at the moment is that there are a lot of manufacturers who I feel are hanging on by a thread.  You know, they are really candidates for acquisition and they’re not hiding it very well.

Mike Horton: So obviously the margin is not very wide, as it used to be, correct?

Doug Sheer: Right, so profits are very tight.  I don’t like to name names of companies, particularly, in part because they’re almost all clients.

Mike Horton: That’s alright, we’re not going to ask you.

Doug Sheer: I would say that, just taking the category of cameras and camcorders, what you’re seeing is that there are many of the same features, many of the same levels of operation.  Most cameras now are ultra high definition or certainly most companies are offering one flavour or another of ultra high def, and yet you can buy such a camera for as little as a thousand dollars or you can buy it for 25 or 35,000 or more.  Those companies that are insistent on maintaining profit, are insistent on providing what they believe to be better quality, they’re getting tough competition from what I would call bottom feeders.

Larry Jordan: One of the challenges that we have, especially in the technology industry, is technology changes so quickly that you’re afraid that whatever you buy today in six months is outdated.  Does your research look into that at all in terms of fear of buying because whatever you get’s going to be out of date, and what have you seen?

Doug Sheer: Well, I like to quote this.  In the ’80s I edited the first guide to electronic news gathering, and C. Robert Paulson, Bob Paulson, was the principal author.  He said something in there which was, if you’re seeing it in the market now, if it’s been introduced at NAB, let’s say, whatever it is, don’t buy it for the first year.  If it’s still around a year later and there’s nothing superior to it and enough people are out there using it, then you might feel safe in investing in it.  Pretty good advice.

Larry Jordan: But given the technology turnover that we’re seeing now, even if something is successful, a manufacturer’s scrapping it and moving onto something else in six to eight months.

Doug Sheer: It depends on which product you’re talking about.  I think that that’s very true, certainly very true of consumer products.  I think it’s a little less true in professional broadcast products.  The problem really, for a consumer of professional products who’s trying to be sophisticated and thoughtful about it is that yes, they are being bombarded with one offering after another, and so it’s very hard when so many products are so similar to the others, to decide which one is really the superior product.

Larry Jordan: Let’s flip the coin.  You’ve been doing research for manufacturers, helping them figure out what features they need.  For people that are creating content or the broadcasters who are using the gear, can your research help us to figure out what we should be doing next?

Doug Sheer: It can.  I can say personally, we’ve always chased after manufacturers.  That isn’t to say we haven’t had broadcasters and major facilities and even the consulting companies, the Accentures and the McKinseys as clients.  We have, and that has sometimes been very useful to end user customers.

Larry Jordan: So can creatives draw conclusions from some of the trends you’re seeing, and what trends are you seeing that we need to pay attention to?

Doug Sheer: Well, I think there are a umber of things now.  Certainly, ultra high definition, but I think we get lost in what I like to say is I’m a K, you’re a K.  You know, everybody has a different flavour of K, and I think it’s important not to get snookered, not to get taken in simply by the idea that high resolution is going to give you what you need.  I think professionals are now looking much more carefully.  They’re looking at high dynamic range.  They’re looking at high frame rates.  They’re looking beyond purely ultra high definition, and that’s smart.

Doug Sheer:  Take a company like Arriflex.  They’ve been a client, but for a long time they offered some very, very nice cameras and they had a very strong position in digital cinematography, and yet they weren’t offering Super 35 or 4K, they were taking a different path, and yet they’ve produced cameras that offered very high quality, very high end features, and they have a very strong following.  I think it illustrates that true professionals, I mean customers, are often able to look beyond simple the next generation, and they’re able to look for and seek and buy those products that have the features they really want, and that, again, is very smart.

Larry Jordan: I’m thinking about professional consumers and the flight to the bottom that we’re seeing with pricing.  Are we seeing more decisions are based solely on price because either there’s a feature similarity or we don’t understand the feature and therefore discount it, or is there something that is more dominant than price, such as brand name or testimonials from somebody else?

Doug Sheer: Well, I think, you know, I feel that the forums, meaning the online forums, are among the most useful things to users, because they can get genuine feedback – regardless of the fact that there are some ringers in there – from other similar customers about new products or existing products, and that’s very helpful beyond the promotional control of the manufacturers.  So I advise people to use things like that in order to have a feel for what really happens when you buy a certain product.

Larry Jordan: Are you looking principally at hardware or do you look at software as well?

Doug Sheer: We do look at software.  I think the overarching thing about software today is that every system which requires software, let’s take cameras although I’m not a one-trick pony here, but there’s virtually no identical workflow between cameras even of the same manufacturer.  So each one has different compression, each one has different connectivity, each one has different kind of software that is required in order to blend it all into an end to end capture to finish system.

Doug Sheer: So you know, therefore software is tremendously important, and I think that the model today which was really promoted largely by Adobe, which is leasing your software and not owning it, is advantageous in the sense that most of the major software packages that you would need in order to operate either as an independent or within an institution, are available in that way and that way you’re always knowing that you’re having the latest iteration of that software.  But we do cover software in our sports report, in our digital cinematography report, in many of our reports where we’re focused mostly on editing or graphics.

Larry Jordan: As you look at the last six months and project into the next six months, what’s the big takeaway that we should learn based on your research?

Doug Sheer: Well, I think there’s some things that are really coming to the boil, I would say.  One is that flash media is just absolutely primed to take the place of hard drives, and I think you’re going to start to see that show up in products in the form of all flash storage within laptops and tablets and so forth.  I think you’re going to see much more proliferation of flash.  It’s already probably penetrating something like 65 or 70% of camcorder use, but that’s very much spreading.

Doug Sheer: I think certainly the impact of drones and robotics and other forms of automation, is very important and continuing to grow.  We have a drone study, so we’re very interested in that.  I think as far as six months, the economics are a concern.  I mean the world has continued to be very unstable from an economic point of view, and that’s certainly most seen in Europe, but it’s seen in pockets around the world, and that’s difficult for manufacturers.

Larry Jordan: It’s difficult for the rest of us too!

Doug Sheer: Right!

Larry Jordan: Doug, for people that want to learn more about your research or invest in your reports or just congratulate you for a job well done, where can they go on the web?

Doug Sheer: Simply disresearch.com.  You’ll find all the prospectuses there.  They’ll find information about the company.  That’s a good suggestion.

Larry Jordan: Doug, I want to thank you so very much for your time.  This has been fascinating.

Mike Horton: Yes!

Larry Jordan: And the website that they can go to is disresearch.com.  Doug Sheer is the founder.  Thank you, Sir.

Doug Sheer: My pleasure.

Larry Jordan: Thank you.

Larry Jordan: It’s time for a Buzz Flashback.  Five years ago today…

Bruce Sharpe (archive):  And our flagship product in that area is PluralEyes and what it does is it allows you to automatically synchronise audio and video clips.  If you don’t use PluralEyes, you’re faced with a pretty tedious process of looking for handclaps or using a clapper and looking for that, so we take away that synchronisation step for you.

Larry Jordan: This was a Buzz Flashback.

Larry Jordan: Michael, I was just reflecting on the comment that Doug Sheer, where it’s a race to the bottom for pricing.

Mike Horton: Yes.

Larry Jordan: And we all feel it’s great, because we get stuff for a lot less money, but we’re not really benefitting ourselves for the long term if these manufacturers go out of business.

Mike Horton: No.  Some of them will.  I mean is there anything different than it was, say, ten years ago, 15 years ago?  I still don’t have that answer of why did the prices of these very, very expensive items drop so much!  And we’re talking about 80, 90%, and it can’t be just because we shipped off the manufacturing to a country that…

Larry Jordan: I think Doug gave us the answer.  Back when the economy collapsed, 2008-2009, and nobody was buying, if you’re got nobody buying you drop your price to get somebody to buy something, and the prices fell through the floor because there was just nothing going on.

Mike Horton: Final Cut Pro was $999 in the year 2000.

Larry Jordan: Yes, but Final Cut Pro was also seven applications.

Mike Horton: It was software, and for hardware it began with that, it seemed like.  Everything just began with Final Cut Pro being a cheap piece of software, and all of a sudden it went to cameras and it went to hard drives, and it went to everything else with digital video as thought the entire world decided to make movies.

Larry Jordan: It’s interesting.  We’re going to be talking more about that in the future, but that was a fascinating segment.  Thinking of fascinating, I want to thank our guests for tonight: Philip Hodgetts, the CEO of Intelligent Assistance, Sean Mullen, the CEO of Rampant Design Tools, and Douglas Sheer, the CEO of D.I.S. Consulting.

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 thousands of interviews all online, and all available to you today.  Our website is getting a facelift.  Check out our new look at digitalproductionbuzz.com.  Talk with on Twitter @DPBuZZ, and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com.

Larry Jordan: Our theme music is composed by Nathan Doogie Turner, with additional music provided by smartsound.com. Text transcripts from Take 1 Transcription.  Visit take1.tv to learn how they can help you. Our producer is Cirina Catania; or engineering team, led by Megan Paulos, includes Ed Golya, Alex Hackworth, James Miller, Lindsey Luebbert, Brianna Murphy and Jen Smith.  And thank you to Alex for a wonderful summer, we will miss you when you go away.

Larry Jordan: My name’s Larry Jordan.

Mike Horton: Bye, Alex!

Larry Jordan: His name’s Mike Horton.

Mike Horton: Yes!

Larry Jordan: Thanks for watching The Buzz.

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