Digital Production Buzz
September 10, 2015
[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]
(Click here to listen to this show.)
Wes Plate, President, Automatic Duck
Michael Horton, Co-Host, Digital Production Buzz
Randi Altman, Editor-in-Chief, postPerspective
Michael Kammes, Director of Technology, Key Code Media
Josh Apter, Founder & President, Manhattan Edit Workshop
Larry Jordan: Tonight on The Buzz, there’s big news from Red Giant software. They’ve teamed with Wes Plate and released two new Automatic Duck plug-ins. Tonight, Wes – the founder and President of Automatic Duck – joins us to explain their new products and partnership.
Larry Jordan: Next, the huge IBC trade show starts tomorrow and two of The Buzz team are in Amsterdam covering the event – Mike Horton and Randi Altman. We have reports from both of them this evening, setting the scene the day before IBC starts.
Larry Jordan: Next, Josh Apter is a filmmaker and the founder of the Manhattan Edit Workshop. Tonight, he shares his thoughts on the latest trends in cinematography and the visual side of storytelling.
Larry Jordan: Finally tonight, we have a major update to Tech Talk. Michael Kammes from Key Code Media joins us as co-host tonight. Michael presents our first look at some new hardware, the Avid ISIS 1000.
Larry Jordan: All this and a Buzz Flashback. The Buzz starts now.
Announcer #1: Tonight’s Digital Production Buzz is brought to you by Other World 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. Our co-host, Mike Horton, is currently in Amsterdam for IBC and we’ll talk with him later in the program. Also, Randi Altman will join us a bit later as well.
Larry Jordan: I’m delighted to announce a new partnership between Key Code Media and The Buzz. One of the most requested features for this show is more product demos and the Key Code partnership is an opportunity for us to do just that. Michael Kammes, the VP of Technology for Key Code Media and I will be hosting these sessions. Michael will focus on hardware for the professional video market, while I’ll be looking at software. Michael’s first presentation is tonight, with a detailed look at the Avid ISIS 1000.
Larry Jordan: My hope is that we can quickly expand our product coverage that we talk about on the show so that we can not only talk about the latest technology, but show you how it works as well. If there’s something specific you’d like us to cover, just drop me a note.
Larry Jordan: In other big news, Adobe announced new versions of its professional video products which they’ll be demoing at IBC. The most interesting announcements to me are support for Ultra HD and high dynamic range media in both Premiere and After Effects, along with the addition of touch support for Premiere, After Effects and Character Animator using the Microsoft Surface and Apple iPad Pro tablets. The new versions will be demoed at IBC but a release date has not yet been set. Updates will be free to all creative cloud subscribers.
Larry Jordan: And thinking about staying current, I want to remind you to subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com. This gives you an inside look at The Buzz and the industry we’re in, plus quick links to all the different segments on the show. The newsletter is free and releases every Friday. I’ll be back with Wes Plate and some big announcements right after this.
Larry Jordan: Still to come on The Buzz – Wes Plate, Michael Horton, Randi Altman, Josh Apter, Tech Talk and Buzz Flashback.
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Larry Jordan: Wes Plate is the President and founder of Automatic Duck, which started as a father and son team in 2001. They specialize in creating timeline translation software. Tonight, Wes joins us to talk about new products and a new partnership between Automatic Duck and Red Giant. Hello, Wes, welcome.
Wes Plate: Hi, Larry, it’s great to see you.
Larry Jordan: It’s great to have you back. Every time we visit, I enjoy our chats and I need to start by asking a question. I thought that you were still with Adobe. What have you been doing?
Wes Plate: I actually left Adobe at the beginning of 2014. I was at Adobe for just over two years and at the beginning of 2014 I took some time off, dad and I did some traveling independently and also together – we did a great hike in Peru – and basically around that time we started wondering how we could work together again, what we would do, and we kind of missed the… We still had Automatic Duck as something that we had access to and so we thought, “Well, Automatic Duck should do something,” so we’ve been working ever since then on bringing Automatic Duck back.
Larry Jordan: I was stunned to get the announcement yesterday from Red Giant saying they are now releasing two brand new Automatic Duck plug-ins. Let’s start first with why the relationship with Red Giant and then we’ll talk next about what the new toys are.
Wes Plate: Sure. I think when Harry and I were considering bringing Automatic Duck back, we had to consider what the tool or product we were going to create was and then also we had to consider the logistics of bringing a company back from basically zero. We wanted to partner with somebody who could help us with that and Red Giant’s got a fantastic network of users, as well as… marketing and their website’s beautiful and they’re just also a really smart group of people that we can work with in a collaborative way, so it allows us to focus on development of product. They can help us with the marketing and they can also help us with running what we might do, give us ideas and also their engineering… can collaborate on projects and create something together.
Larry Jordan: I remember several years ago, did Adobe buy the Automatic Duck products? In other words, what’s the relationship between Adobe and Red Giant and Automatic Duck?
Wes Plate: Oh, Automatic Duck has independent relationships with each of those two companies. Adobe licensed technology from us in 2011 and that acquired technology then made its way into After Effects, as well as into Premiere Pro. What they purchased was technology, not the company, so we then brought Automatic Duck back and that’s when we said, “Hey, we’d like to make something new. Hey, Red Giant, what do you think about partnering with us?” and they were down with it and so we had a lot of conversations about how this might work. We’re super excited about it and I certainly know Red Giant is excited too. I think it’s going to open up a lot of possibilities for both of us.
Larry Jordan: So the translation software that Adobe has is different from the translation software that you released just yesterday with Red Giant, is that true?
Wes Plate: That’s correct.
Larry Jordan: Then tell me what the new toys are because I’m all anxious to learn more.
Wes Plate: In 2014, when we were trying to figure out what to do next, it coincided with me trying to figure out why people liked Final Cut 10 so much. I kept hearing great things about Final Cut 10 and so I set out to learn what the enjoyment they were getting was. Anyway, I started to really enjoy it. I set my mind to learning it and I loved the editing tools and then, as I was working, I realized I needed to get to After Effects. I needed this tool to get from Final Cut 10 to After Effects and at the time all that was available wasn’t working.
Wes Plate: There was a lot of crashing and the solution of the time wasn’t working, so I said, “Well, there’s got to be a way that Automatic Duck can come up with something that has what people expect from Automatic Duck, a level of translation, to do what people know us for,” and so it made sense for us to think about this Final Cut 10 to After Effects plug-in. So that’s what we’ve got now, is a tool called Automatic Duck Ximport AE. It’s an After Effects plug-in that lives in After Effects and it imports Final Cut 10 .xml files.
Larry Jordan: Ximport AE. Clearly some heavy marketing going on here. So what does it do?
Wes Plate: It builds a bridge between Final Cut 10 and After Effects so that you can use Final Cut 10 to mock-up, maybe get your timings all set up, maybe rough out some composites, but use it as a tool to arrange your shots that then can feed into After Effects so that you can use After Effects for its compositing tools and whatever animation you want to do.
Wes Plate: After Effects has a great interoperability because it’s made by Adobe and Final Cut 10 obviously doesn’t have that and so we’re kind of providing that same bridge of technology that we used to, the idea of that timeline translation technology from the past but we’re applying it to Final Cut 10, so we’re building a bridge so that you can work in Final Cut and, when you’re ready, bring all that stuff into After Effects really quickly with a high level of fidelity of translation, really making the tools work together almost like they’re one but much more seamlessly.
Larry Jordan: Now, do I consider this a dynamic link where I’ve got dynamic conversation going between the two apps? Or is it step by step? How does that work?
Wes Plate: It’s mostly a one way translation that you might do towards the end of a process, because it is not dynamically updating between the two applications. Basically you take a snapshot in time in Final Cut Pro when you export this .xml file and so then our plug-in will read that .xml file into After Effects, turning it into an After Effects composition. Every shot… layer. When you’re done in After Effects, then, you’ll render out a QuickTime movie, just the way that you normally would, then the editor can import that QuickTime render back into Final Cut Pro and cut it back into their piece.
Larry Jordan: I want to make sure I’m clear. What we’re doing is we’re exporting .xml using the standard .xml export from Final Cut. Your plug-in takes over once that .xml is created? Or are you a menu item that’s doing both the .xml export and the conversion to After Effects?
Wes Plate: Right now, it’s a plug-in in After Effects. The export out of Final Cut Pro step is done just using the standard Final Cut .xml export command from the file menu.
Larry Jordan: One of the challenges we’ve had working with Final Cut 10 .xml is that stuff like compound clips and multicam clips don’t necessarily export as well as we would like. Are there features within Final Cut that are not supported within your plug-in? In other words, can I apply effects and have those effects transfer to After Effects or do I need to just use raw clips and just use it from a timing point of view? Where are the limitations?
Wes Plate: There certainly are limitations. We have to take an approach of what can we do with as little loss as possible? If there is going to be something that we can’t do, a really direct translation that’s 100 percent accurate, then we may not approach that translation. But we’re able to do things like scale, position, rotation and opacity, volume, key frames. All those things can be animated, so in addition to a passage you could have your blending mode, speed changes, time remapping as well as constant speed.
Wes Plate: Third party effects translate with our tool, which allow you to apply something like, let’s say, color … from Red Giant. You could apply that in Final Cut Pro. It doesn’t have to be applied in After Effects using our plug-in with the exact same settings. The user’s guide lists all the stuff that translates and then anything that falls out of that list will be something that won’t come through. You will still get the raw clip for whatever it can translate, but since it’s all live in After Effects you can fix up whatever scaling you might need to adjust. It’s all still live and so it’s a very rich translation. Don’t get me wrong, certainly it’s not everything or 100 percent.
Larry Jordan: Now, that’s the first of two tools, that’s the Ximport AE, which is so brilliantly named, it just rolls off the tongue.
Wes Plate: It’s beautiful.
Larry Jordan: What’s the other one?
Wes Plate: The other one is brilliantly named as well, Larry, you’ll love it – it’s called Media Copy – and you’ll never guess what it does.
Larry Jordan: I hesitate to even guess, actually.
Wes Plate: I should have given you a chance to guess. So we have this other tool called Automatic Duck Media Copy, which is actually coming into version 4. This is a product that Automatic Duck used to sell a number of years ago and was particularly popular with Avid users. What this product does is read an Avid .aaf file, even an Avid .bin file or an .omf, I guess, for that matter. Also .xml from Final Cut 7 and we’ve also now added the ability for it to support Final Cut 10 .xml. What Media Copy does is it looks at that file and says, “What media is referenced by this sequence or referenced by the clips in this .bin?” and then it just copies those files to a location that you specify.
Wes Plate: It can be really handy if you need to move a sequence from Final Cut 10 on one computer to After Effects artists down the room or down the street. It can also be helpful if you just want to isolate the media for a project so that you can archive it, for example. That’s what a lot of Avid users have told us they do with it. It takes a tool that can be pretty tedious in the NLE – all the NLEs have some kind of tool for moving media – but it kind of keeps it in that NLE sandbox in a way. In the case of Avid, it creates a whole bunch of clips that an editor might not want to have in their bin, so it’s a simple way to take the media that’s associated with a project and just move it or copy it to another computer.
Larry Jordan: With Avid, the media is stored separately from the project file, but in Final Cut 10 you have the option of storing media in essentially a bundle which is inside the library. If I’ve got media stored inside the library bundle, can you still grab it and copy it?
Wes Plate: Yes, we can still find that media and copy it to a new location that will basically pull it out of the bundle; and then the After Effects plug-in, when it’s searching for media, is smart enough to search the system for those media files even though they have a different path than the .xml file states.
Larry Jordan: That is very cool, because dealing with a bundle has caused a lot of problems for a lot of people.
Wes Plate: Yes, and it can be handy to have everything in one place, but it also – like you say – causes problems and confusion.
Larry Jordan: Well, I recommend that for people who are new to Final Cut, storing media inside the library simplifies your life tremendously because you know where it is, but it’s hard to open up that bundle and pull media out without breaking your project. And again, you’re not moving media, you’re creating a copy of it. Essentially, you’re collecting it into a separate location, either for archiving or additional processing. Is that a true statement?
Wes Plate: That’s right. We don’t ever move media, which implies that the first location is going to have its media deleted. We’re always creating new files in the destination location.
Larry Jordan: Is this the start of multiple applications or is this just that you were bored and your team decided to do something and this is a stopgap until something else comes along and you take that motorcycle trip across the country? Or are we going to be seeing and hearing more from Automatic Duck in the future?
Wes Plate: The hope is that this will be the start of a new phase with Automatic Duck and, partnered with Red Giant, we’re going to be able to create more tools over time. We’ve got more ideas than we have time to implement them all and we’re going to be trying to figure out which of those ideas we’re going to tackle next. Some things are bigger than others, but we definitely have room to grow and we have plans to grow as well.
Larry Jordan: Red Giant specializes in creating effects which change looks – I’m thinking of Magic Bullet and Trapcode Suite and all the other incredible tools they’ve got. You’ve got something totally different. You’re not changing the look, you’re actually providing utilities for moving files from Point A to Point B. Why did you decide to partner with Red Giant? There’s not a one for one relationship between what you create and what the bulk of their products are.
Wes Plate: That’s true. I think it’s a nice synergy. We provide a different kind of product than they’ve had in their catalog until now, so I think that this is a nice supplement to what they’ve already been offering to their users. They’ve been offering these looks and these effect plug-ins for some time, but now Red Giant can offer a really great utility tool that complements those effects that their users already have.
Wes Plate: The ability to translate third party plug-ins is a great big benefit to all those users. Even though we are supporting plug-ins from other vendors besides Red Giant – the plug-in supports plug-ins from Boris, Digital Anarchy, Noise Industries – and so we certainly want to make sure we get as much coverage as we can. It’s also a nice thing… at Red Giant, that they happen to make at plug-ins that we’ve made sure that they translate.
Larry Jordan: I was just thinking, you and your dad started Automatic Duck almost 14 years ago. Is he still talking to you and is he involved with the development?
Wes Plate: Oh yes, he’s immensely involved. He’s doing great. It’s been 15 years since we started the development, you’re right. We’re still getting along great and, you know, it’s never easy working with family but we’ve developed a really great relationship.
Larry Jordan: It’s really hard to turn your back and walk away. They just keep hanging around. What are you looking at in the future? What trends are you keeping your eye on? I’m not asking for new product, but what’s caught your attention and is there some special opportunities as we start to move, with Adobe’s announcement yesterday of support, into high dynamic range media or as we move into four, five, even 8K images? Are there utilities that we need to keep our eyes on or is this media just bigger but the same as what we’re dealing with now?
Wes Plate: Oh boy. When we deal with media for our stuff, it’s just a file that we’re referencing. When I’m working as an editor, even, I rarely think about my media any more, so if it’s big or small, it almost doesn’t even matter from the perspective that I take, so I don’t necessarily have a very insightful view. What I look to is how editors can be most efficient with their workflows and what stumbling blocks in the NLE might they hit that they have to do 50 clicks to get something done, and maybe that could be streamlined? So my interest is always in trying to keep the creative flow of users in that state of just creating instead of having to be clicking and working with technology that gets in that way. So I continue to look to that and I think that transcends even files because that’s truly just a way of working beyond technology.
Larry Jordan: Are you seeing an increasing interest in collaboration? I’m thinking Avid’s had collaboration between editors down for a long time and Adobe’s continuing to experiment with Adobe Anywhere. Final Cut right now is one editor per library. Are you seeing an increasing need for collaboration in terms of multiple people in the same files at the same time?
Wes Plate: I certainly hear the need for that. In the places that I go and the people I talk to, I hear that that’s one of the major remaining criticisms of Final Cut 10, although I know that there are people and companies out there that are trying to figure out ways around that one system, one editor, one library limitation. I don’t know that I’m aware of necessarily the technologies that other companies might be developing, I’m not too up on all that, but I know that it’s certainly an issue.
Larry Jordan: It’s interesting, because I suspect that if collaboration was easy, we would have it already. But we know that with Adobe Anywhere, Adobe’s been experimenting with providing collaboration, but it’s not a trivial solution. That’s some serious hardware and software, to be able to get that to work.
Wes Plate: Yes, I was quite au fait with Adobe Anywhere during my time when I was at Adobe and I was amazed at how complex that program is; and you’re right, the more integrated you want that system to be, the seamless handout between stuff, the harder I think it is and so when you look at the kind of collaboration Automatic Duck is making possible with Ximport AE, it’s allowing Final Cut 10 and After Effects to collaborate in a new way.
Wes Plate: It’s not 100 percent seamless where you just click a button and now all of a sudden magically appears. You have to click five times, but it’s still a whole lot better than just starting from scratch and rebuilding and it still is a kind of collaboration, because… to work together all the time, and I think we’ll always be looking for ways that we can make that even better.
Larry Jordan: And I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with. Welcome back, by the way, it’s good to have you back on the scene, you’ve been quiet for too long.
Wes Plate: Thanks, Larry.
Larry Jordan: Are we buying the product from Automatic Duck or from Red Giant? And where do we go on the web to see it?
Wes Plate: All the sales are handled through Red Giant’s website now, so if you want an Automatic Duck product, you can go to redgiant.com. We also have stuff at automaticduck.com, information about the products and as well you can still access the old Final Cut 7 plug-ins from a long time ago from automaticduck.com. So check out both those places for information about the new stuff.
Larry Jordan: The key website is automaticduck.com. Wes Plate is the co-founder of Automatic Duck, the President and one of the chief bottle washers. Wes, thanks for joining us today.
Wes Plate: It’s great to see you Larry. Bye
Larry Jordan: Take care. See you soon.
Larry Jordan: Still to come on The Buzz – Michael Horton, Randi Altman, Josh Apter, Tech Talk and Buzz Flashback.
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Larry Jordan: Normally, Mike Horton is sitting across the table from me, but today he’s not across the table, he’s across the ocean. He’s in Amsterdam getting ready to go to IBC and host the legendary Supermeet at IBC. Michael, are you with us?
Mike Horton: I am here. I’m here on the beautiful [FOREIGN DIALOG] Street in Amsterdam, which is in the heart of the Jordaan area, which is one of the most beautiful areas of Amsterdam and as a matter of fact, if I’m going to give you a little travelogue here, if you ever go to Amsterdam, this is where you want to stay, right here in the Jordaan area because it is the place that you’ve always imagined Amsterdam to be with all the canals and the churches and the beautiful 1600 built buildings. It is the most beautiful city ever.
Larry Jordan: Are you spending any time getting ready for the Supermeet or are you just kicking back being a vacationer today?
Mike Horton: Actually, I just got back 30 minutes ago from the RAI, which is where the big IBC trade show is, and I just dropped off a bunch of promotional material at various booths there. For those of you who do not know what IBC is, essentially it’s NAB here in Europe and where NAB is the place where they announce the products, IBC is the place that they ship the products. That’s pretty much it. And then we do the Supermeet on Sunday September 13th here in Dam Square at the Hotel Krasnapolsky and we’ve done this now for eight years.
Larry Jordan: I remember that was where I had a change to give a speech a few years ago, when we talked about Final Cut 10.
Mike Horton: Yes you did.
Larry Jordan: That’s a beautiful old hotel. It’s a spectacular location. How many people are you expecting for the event?
Mike Horton: We usually get about 500 people and we expect this to be the same, if not more, because we have the legendary sound editor Walter Murch, who’s our guest. You have been in Walter Murch’s place before in Supermeet Amsterdam and now Walter Murch is at the Supermeet Amsterdam so, Larry, you’re in very good company.
Larry Jordan: I’m in extraordinarily good company. Have you had a chance to see any of the preparation for IBC? How big is the show itself?
Mike Horton: Yes I did. I was at the show floor today, at the RAI, and I did some undercover work as much as I possibly could, but the problem is the companies there are doing better undercover work than I could possibly do. I went to the Sony booth to see what this new camera that they’re going to announce is going to be. I couldn’t see anything anywhere where this new camera that they’re going to announce is going to be, but I imagine it’s going to be some sort of 8K kind of thing like Canon announced.
Mike Horton: So I couldn’t find anything there, and then I went to these other places and I know Atomos has just introduced the Shogun Studio and they had big, huge signs all over the RAI convention center, along with Blackmagic. It was like who can do the biggest signs, Atomos or Blackmagic? It was just all over the place, and they’re out-Sonying each other. It was just this massive Blackmagic here, Atomos here, Blackmagic. It was incredible.
Mike Horton: But it’s so much fun and, I mean, I’m out here right now. It’s, what, seven o’clock now or something like that in Amsterdam and it is a beautiful day. It’s a gorgeous, sunny, sunny day although in the next couple of days it’s going to be raining, but I’m enjoying myself right now.
Larry Jordan: Well, Michael, I appreciate you taking time out of your evening, our morning – because we recorded this a few hours before the show to talk with us. Is there still room for people to sign up for the Supermeet? And, if so, where do they go?
Mike Horton: Oh, absolutely, we never turn anybody away, and this really is going to be one of the best shows that we’ve had in a long, long time so if anybody happens to be in Amsterdam at this time, the Supermeet really is the place to be because you’ll meet a lot of very, very smart people and you’ll learn a lot and that’s the whole idea of these events, just to show up and network and meet people who are much smarter than you, learn something and go home maybe with a raffle prize, who knows? There are 68,000 Euros’ worth of raffle prices.
Larry Jordan: What website can people go to?
Mike Horton: Supermeet.com. It’s that easy.
Larry Jordan: Mike Horton is the co-host for The Buzz. He’s over in Amsterdam getting ready for IBC. He’s also the legendary co-founder of the Supermeets and the one in Amsterdam is coming up this Sunday. The website is supermeet.com. Mike, thanks for joining us today.
Mike Horton: Thanks Larry, have a great show and I will see you in a couple of weeks.
Larry Jordan: I look forward to it. Travel safely and have a great Sunday.
Mike Horton: I shall. See you later.
Larry Jordan: We started our conversation about IBC with Mike Horton. Now we turn to the hard news front and we’re chatting with Randi Altman. Randi is the Editor in Chief of postperspective.com and a regular news correspondent on all things related to post. Hello, Randi, how are you?
Randi Altman: Hi, Larry, how are you?
Larry Jordan: We are doing great. It’s sunny, it’s warm and I understand it’s going to be raining tomorrow in Amsterdam. I wish I was there.
Randi Altman: Oh no! Well, today was a gorgeous day, so sorry you missed it. It was actually sunny and bright and beautiful, even at the RAI.
Larry Jordan: I know that it’s in the evening and we pre-tape this because you just refuse to stay up until three o’clock in the morning to join us live on the show, but what are you looking forward to at IBC? How are you going to cover the show?
Randi Altman: Well, personally I’m going to be walking around with my iOgrapher camera rig interviewing people, finding out the elevator pitch on what’s new and then I’m allowing my readers to go and try to investigate it a little bit more on their own. But there’s a lot going on. Little dribs and drabs have been announced prior to the show – 8K is now a big part of the conversation, thanks to Canon’s development of an 8K camera reference monitor, so I’m going to find out what people really think about 8K – do they need it? Do they want it?
Larry Jordan: Mike Horton was talking about the fact that it looked like there were dueling booths going on with Atomos and Blackmagic Design, each trying to outdo the other, and Sony is getting ready to introduce a new 8K camera. It sounds like we’re going to be seeing some new announcements, not just shipping product as we were expecting. Is that your take as well?
Randi Altman: Yes, absolutely. Also, Tangent Panels introduced a new affordable and small footprint panel that is good for editors and VFX artists, not just dedicated color graders. They were clear in saying that this is a prototype and that the design might change, the features might change, but they’re showing that, so there are companies here with new products that, if it’s not ready at the show, will be ready in early 2016.
Larry Jordan: What else are you looking forward to seeing? You’ve already mentioned virtual reality. Is there a booth that you want to take a look at in particular?
Randi Altman: I’m just going to wander around, and that’s going to be a big part of my show as well. While I do make some appointments, the rest of the time is spent just kind of wandering the different halls that maybe I’m not familiar with to find something new. RED is going to be here with a small booth but they may be talking in partnership, so there’s a lot going on. It’s going to be an interesting show and I’m looking forward to finding out what everybody’s planning on doing.
Larry Jordan: You’re going to see what the news is and you’re going to report it.
Randi Altman: I will. That is my goal, yes.
Larry Jordan: Randi, do you cover press conferences? Or do you just travel the show floor?
Randi Altman: I do press conferences. Quantel and Snell are going to have a press conference tomorrow and I believe they’re going to introduce a brand new name for the company. There’s going to be an AJA press conference where I expect some new products. So yes, I’ll be going to some press events, press conferences and also just visiting booths solo.
Larry Jordan: And for people who want to keep track of what you see that’s new and that we need to pay attention to, where can they go on the web?
Randi Altman: They can go to postperspective.com. I will also be tweeting and I’m going to have some blogs from post pros who are wandering the show for me and giving me their perspective, so there’ll be a lot going on.
Larry Jordan: And the main website is postperspective.com. Randi Altman is the Editor in Chief; Randi, thanks for joining us today.
Randi Altman: Thanks, Larry.
Larry Jordan: Still to come on The Buzz – Josh Apter, Tech Talk and Buzz Flashback.
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Larry Jordan: 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. This makes our Final Cut Pro 10 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.
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Larry Jordan: Tonight, we have a big change to Tech Talk. The Buzz has partnered with Key Code Media to provide more in-depth product demos of professional video products. Michael Kammes of Key Code Media and I will co-host these presentations. Tonight, I’m delighted to welcome Michael Kammes to Tech Talk.
Voiceover: Welcome to Tech Talk, sponsored by Key Code Media.
Michael Kammes: There comes a time in the life of every editor to make that hard decision – do I work with local storage or do I invest in something a bit more robust? Do I worry about media management and duplication with multiple editors or do I bite that bullet and invest in central life storage that everyone can access?
Michael Kammes: When your productions end up moving to centralized storage, you need to balance cost as well as the features that your demanding editors need. It’s been rare to find that until now, and that’s why I’m super stoked to show you the new Avid ISIS 1000.
Michael Kammes: You’re probably thinking, “Hey, Michael, since Avid made this, I bet it only works with Media Composer or Pro Tools.” That’s not the case. The 1000 does not require working with Media Composer or Pro Tools. It’s open collaboration for both third party applications like Final Cut Pro 10, Premiere Pro and even DaVinci Resolve.
Michael Kammes: Let’s run down some of the facts about the Avid ISIS 1000. First, the 1000 delivers about 300 to 350 megabytes a second of performance up to the switch. That’s about 20 streams of 1080p ProRes. All systems are connected via a single or dual one… connection, plenty of bandwidth for a vast majority of the camera formats out there.
Michael Kammes: There’s 20 terabytes of storage, 16 of which are usable. That means your data is protected if a drive dies. The 1000 also supports up to 25 real time connected clients. You can also stack up to four of the ISIS 1000s for up to 80 terabytes of storage; and lastly, the 1000 uses mirrored flash SSDs to increase performance with metadata and OS.
Michael Kammes: A tech note from me wouldn’t be complete without some important notes that you need to be aware of. First, the 1000 is not direct attached storage. The 1000 requires a switch connected by a 10… uplink only. Luckily, Avid sanctioned several inexpensive switches, including those from Dell and Netgear, and even has bundles where you can get the storage and the switch from one place.
Michael Kammes: We’ve also found the 1000 is fairly loud, so I wouldn’t recommend having it in your edit bay. Put it with the rest of your network gear in a climate controlled room.
Michael Kammes: Well, enough with me. Let’s actually see the thing. Here you go.
Michael Kammes: Jumping into collaborative workflows, as I mentioned earlier, you can access ISIS 1000 media inside Final Cut Pro 10, Premiere Pro and Resolve. As an example, here we are in Final Cut Pro 10. While Final Cut Pro 10 doesn’t currently support multiple editors inside the same library at the same time regardless of what storage you have, the ISIS 1000 does allow multiple editors to access the same media at the same time all on one protected place. Avid has also made several tweaks under the hood to more efficiently stream media to and from your Mac systems and to be utilized to the fullest extent during playback by Final Cut Pro 10.
Michael Kammes: For those of you who work inside Premiere, the workflow is very similar. Multiple editors can mount the same volumes or, as Avid calls them, workspaces and all editors – if given permission – can work with the same copies of media in real time. No concurrent editors in the same project, however, without Adobe Anywhere. Media Composer still has the market cornered on concurrently shared projects.
Michael Kammes: Many folks seem to think that running shared storage is something for IT folks or us tech heads and, while the ISIS 1000 certainly does have high end administrative features, it’s still simple enough to handle through a basic web interface. Here, you have the ability to log into the ISIS 1000 via your edit station’s web browser and handle your basic functions. You can look at the virtual workspaces you’ve created, as well as how much space in that workspace has been used and how much is still free.
Michael Kammes: You can also manipulate what users can take advantage of in that workspace. Triggers can also be set as warnings when the workspace is about to run out of free space, but don’t worry – you can grow and shrink the space available with a few mouse clicks from your web browser.
Michael Kammes: I personally really dig the ability in the web interface to see which clients are connected and how much bandwidth they’re using, as well as the total bandwidth out of the box. I want to make sure I’m getting the most bang for my buck.
Michael Kammes: I’m jazzed to see heavy iron shrunk down and made affordable for smaller edit shops. Collaborative editing is increasingly important for media creation, which is where the Avid ISIS 100 shines.
Michael Kammes: Got tech questions? I’ve got the tech answers. Hit me up on one of the links below. I’m Michael Kammes of Key Code Media.
Larry Jordan: Josh Apter is a practicing filmmaker and the founder and President of Manhattan Edit Workshop, a training company in New York City. He’s also hosting the upcoming MEW Shop Sight, Sound and Story workshop focusing on cinematography. Hello, Josh, welcome.
Josh Apter: Welcome. How you doing?
Larry Jordan: I am talking to you, I’m doing great. I was just thinking about your workshop coming up – how would you define cinematography?
Josh Apter: Wow. Do we have another 16 minutes? Cinematography to me is really this extension of the director’s vision. I make movies and I co-direct with a cinematographer and we generally have this really interesting symbiotic relationship where he understands how to visualize things that we’ll either co-write or I’ll write and I think I look at that relationship between the cinematographer and the director as this very collaborative unit that is together a filmmaker, in a way.
Larry Jordan: Yes, but that’s a pretty vague statement. Is the cinematography worrying about the camera, about lighting? And where does the cinematographer end and production design begin?
Josh Apter: You bring up a great point because filmmaking is such a collaborative art form. I’ve talked to people about this, you can be a writer and write by yourself in a room and create incredible works of art; you can be a painter and isolate yourself and be an incredibly prolific and successful artist. But to be a filmmaker, you are working with a large number of people and, in a best case scenario, you’re letting their talents shine and letting them bring what they can to the situation and hopefully everybody has a common vision or the vision changes based on the strengths of the people coming to the production.
Josh Apter: Production design is incredibly important, cinematography is incredibly important, the direction, the acting. There are so many elements at play that it’s almost where does any of it end and begin when you’re really talking about these important elements of the process? So much of it is moving at the same time that, to me, it’s amazing that anything gets done.
Larry Jordan: I was just thinking, you’re a filmmaker yourself. When you hire a cinematographer to work with you, clearly there has to be a level of experience and trust, but are you hiring them for their camera skills and framing or are you hiring them for their ability to light?
Josh Apter: Both. I’m lucky, I’ve been working with the same cinematographer, he’s my directing partner also, but we’ve been working together since the mid-‘90s and so I no longer need to even speak out loud. The way we work together is whatever’s written there or whatever the idea is – and we improvise a lot too – he generally can understand what I’m hoping that it looks like, the visual style in terms of camera movement and lighting, and we discuss that, we toss it around. In some cases, we don’t have time to do either of those things and then we just try to grab it… light before everyone has to go home and do their day jobs.
Larry Jordan: Thinking about this, I know you’ve got a conference coming up called Sight, Sound & Story: The Art of Cinematography, and I want to talk with you about that in just a minute. But I was just thinking, are you seeing a lot of change in the field of cinematography right now or is it pretty much the same? Camera change all the time, lights change all the time, but has the craft changed because of that?
Josh Apter: It’s funny, I’m looking on my phone because just as we were talking, this Kickstarter campaign for, I think it’s called Steady XP or something, it’s a stabilization system that’s just been developed where it’s an attachment to your camera that mounts on the cold shoe that monitors your movement and then, with some software interpolation, it can counteract the camera’s movement by negating the wave forms. It will turn handheld cinematography into almost Steadicam-like cinematography.
Josh Apter: In that sense, it’s changing dramatically every day. You’re seeing what’s going on with drone cinematography and putting those capabilities into a lot of other people’s hands. The barrier of entry is a lot lower financially and this is similar to the way it was in editing. Because you can learn Final Cut Pro by bootlegging a copy and learning the buttons over a weekend, that doesn’t necessarily make you an editor in the sense that you understand rhythm and timing and character and the shape of something like that, and I think just because you have these tools and a lot of toys – and believe me, there are plenty of toys out there and they’re all getting newer and better and cheaper and bigger and with more pixels – it doesn’t necessarily make everyone who can afford them a cinematographer, so that discipline remains identical in a way. It’s about telling a story using light and image and those things are the same way whether you’re shooting on film or pneumatic tape or shooting on 8K.
Larry Jordan: I would prefer to shoot on 8K than pneumatic tape, but having done…
Josh Apter: It’s the work of the devil, right?
Larry Jordan: So that gets me to, I think, a challenge that I’ve been thinking about myself – how do we train people to understand what the craft of cinematography is, because it’s easy to get distracted by all the toys; which leads me into the speaker series you’ve got, so tell me about that.
Josh Apter: The first question about how to teach it, I think in the early days of the, quote, DSLR revolution I was teaching classes with a gentleman you may know, Jem Schofield from THEC47 and it was remarkable how much the discipline resembled film in that we were working with regular lenses, we had manual exposure control and you had to understand certain things in a way that you didn’t have to when you had point and shoot video cameras with zoom rockers and auto focus and it really brought some of that film discipline back into the training of cinematography, so I thought that was terrific.
Josh Apter: You’ll never be able to teach people to not see what they’re shooting until it gets back from the lab. You’ll never be able to recreate the excitement of that. Video assist is great, playback is great, I don’t think anyone would ever go back if they could, but there are certain things that are just different now and for good reason.
Larry Jordan: On the other hand, waiting until the next day to realize that you’ve entirely screwed up the entire day’s shoot because you had a hair in the gate, I don’t want to go through that feeling either, so there are pluses and minuses here.
Josh Apter: Right, and just like no editor that I’ve met who started in film and went to digital would ever go back to film, I don’t think any cinematographer would go back to basically wearing a blindfold for 24 hours until they know what they had got the day before.
Larry Jordan: What was your thinking in putting this workshop together? I was impressed that it’s not really a workshop, it’s a speaker series – you’re listening to a bunch of experts talking. What was the thinking behind this?
Josh Apter: It’s a symposium, much like Sight, Sound & Story, the post-production event that we’ve been doing for the past three years and then for four years before that we were co-producing… New York with American cinema editors and I’ll give credit where credit is due, the newly minted President of Manhattan Edit Workshop, Jason Bank – I just outed him because the press release isn’t out yet – was thinking ahead saying, “We’ve been doing these editing events but we do teach cinematography, we’re all interested in it, we’re filmmakers. It’s Sight, Sound & Story. We’ve done VFX panels and sound panels, why don’t we branch out and do a panel dedicated to the art of cinematography?” and he’s really taken it and run with it.
Josh Apter: I’m helping as much as I can and loving every minute of it, but I think it’s a logical extension of what we do and it’ll be just like those summits that we do in June but it’s a single evening and two panels and we’re starting smaller here, but it may end up being as big an event as the post-production event that we do every June.
Larry Jordan: Now, the panel’s caused me to think – you’ve got two tracks, one is on non-fiction and one called creative vision. Is cinematography different from non-fiction to fiction? Or does cinematography vary by budget – as you have more money, you can do more stuff and as you have less money, and most non-fiction is pretty poorly funded, you can’t do as much? Is the genre the difference or is the budget the difference?
Josh Apter: I think the genre and the budget are the difference. No amount of money will be able to buy you a real experience that’s not happening in front of your eyes. I’d say arguably reality TV tries to invent some of these experiences and I think the conventional wisdom is that some of that stuff is staged and not real, but in real documentary let’s talk about… for example. There’s no money that could buy you what happened in American Dream, and so that’s not a budgetary constraint, that’s an observational opportunity.
Josh Apter: If you’re there long enough and you get the trust of these people and you have a good enough eye to find what’s out there and see these connections between people and the situation, you’ll get that and it doesn’t matter if you have $1,000, $100,000 or $1,000,000. In that sense, I think cinematography is cinematography. The challenges are different in narrative in documentary and I think that’s why we’re dividing the two, because we really want to focus on what happens when there’s no take two? What happens when you’re thrown into an experience that has a big question mark on it?
Josh Apter: And then about the experience of shooting scripted, when you’re really trying to bring this vision, this blueprint on paper, to fruition and how does it grow from that thing that we’ve read and all fallen in love with to something that’s going to be interpreted and seen by people in a purely visual way. It’s not like we’re going to have the screenplay alongside the screen so we know what the original text was. It becomes something different, and how do you extrapolate that and turn it into something that we sit and watch in a theater and enjoy?
Larry Jordan: So who do you have doing these presentations?
Josh Apter: Let’s see. I wrote them down so I wouldn’t mangle their names. In our non-fiction panel, and they may be growing so I only want to say who we know we’re locked in for, Matt Porwoll, who just won a Sundance Award for Cartel Land, a DP who shoots non-fiction and fiction, but this is for documentary; and Jerry Ricciotti from Vice TV. They’re going to do our documentary panel.
Josh Apter: Then there’s Paul Koestner, who I think is best known for shooting with Louis CK and shooing the Louis Show, and Nancy Schreiber, ASC, whose resume is too long to list. She had The Nines, The Comeback, November, and comes with a career’s worth of knowledge in the narrative field. And the list is growing, we’re still talking to people and working things out. You know how it is, schedules open up and close up, but we know these people are going to be there and we already know some of the things they’re going to show and we’re getting really excited.
Larry Jordan: We keep our fingers crossed that most everybody is able to show up, that would be great. I want to come back to cinematography, but let’s just put a button on this. Where can people go to learn more about the speaker series? Is there still room for people to attend and how much are you charging?
Josh Apter: People can still sign up at sightsoundandstory.com. There is a discount code for Larry Jordan viewers and I wish I had it in front of me. I know what it is, I’m sure we can post it on your site. It’s probably the same code that we had for the Sight, Sound & Story event in June, I’m sure, and I think it’s $45, but with the Larry Jordan discount it would be less than that. That’s for the panels and then we throw a big party afterwards with open bar, hors d’oeuvres and you get to hang out with the panelists and the moderators and keep asking questions and poking around.
Larry Jordan: What we’ll do is you can email me the code later and we’ll put it in our newsletter that goes out on Friday, tomorrow, and it will tell the world about it and give them a chance to attend and save money at the same time.
Josh Apter: That would be terrific.
Larry Jordan: I want to come back to you the director working with a cinematographer for just a minute. What do you need your cinematographer to know for you to be able to work with them? What are the key things that a cinematographer needs? Now, the guy you’ve been working with, you’ve been working with since forever so you rely on him almost like an extension of yourself. But if you’re giving advice to filmmakers who are trying to decide to hire a cinematographer, what should they expect that person to know?
Josh Apter: I think if you’re hiring at a certain level, you’re going to have to trust that this person understands, they’ll have watched a reel, you’ll know they can light a scene, that they can operate the camera. What I would probably look for is a commonality. Sit down and talk to them and find out if they like the same kinds of films, like the same cinematography and cinematographers.
Josh Apter: I think if you find that link and you’re inspired by the same things, chances are you’ll see eye to eye when you’re working on the project together. That to me is a big thing because, like I said, there is that symbiotic relationship and what you don’t want to do is have this vision in your head of what something would look and feel like and then the cinematographer’s instinct is exactly opposite that and then either you have to come to some compromise or you’re always correcting someone, saying, “Yes, that’s not what I want,” and that’s inevitable, that will happen, that someone’s interpretation’s different than yours, and it should be, but I think some sort of simpatico relationship is really vital.
Josh Apter: You’re going to war together and you are the two keys, so you’re the ones making it all… you know what rolls downhill, I guess, as they say.
Larry Jordan: What strikes me in your answer is something that I try to stress to my students, which is technical knowledge is really important, but the ability to work with people is even more important, and that often gets lost as people get hung up in trying to learn the technology. They also need to learn how to work with people.
Josh Apter: Yes, and you’re all on the same team and there’s no room for crazy egos. I’ve been on sets with crazy directors and it just makes it an unpleasant experience. You know what? Sometimes it yields great art, but it’s a drag while you’re making it.
Larry Jordan: It’s no fun.
Josh Apter: It’s no fun at all.
Larry Jordan: What website can people go to learn more about the series again?
Josh Apter: It’s www.sightsoundandstory.com.
Larry Jordan: And Josh Apter is the founder. Josh, thanks for joining us today.
Josh Apter: Always a pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: It’s time for a Buzz Flashback. Five years ago today…
Ned Soltz: The iPad is really very exciting. This has been the great development over the past year and, as I visit other studios and clients or friends or whatever, I’m just seeing the iPad almost becoming a very ubiquitous kind of editing tool as well as specific applications that are going to help creators, and I’ve got two or three right now that really are very impressive.
Larry Jordan: This was a Buzz Flashback.
Larry Jordan: One of the interesting things I liked about talking with Josh is the relationship that develops between the cinematographer and the director and, in fact, it’s really a three way relationship between the director, the cinematographer and the production designer because they are the creative leads and each of them relies on the other to be able to make a film happen. The reason I’m so struck by this is that I spend most of my time teaching people technology and it’s an important aspect, but it’s easy to get blinded by trying to figure out what the best camera is or what the greatest resolution is or what the best speed is that you need. This is a piece of the puzzle but it’s not the entire puzzle and the ability to work well with people and be collaborative and creative and not get in the way is, I think, an even greater skill which is impossible to teach and something that you can only learn over time. I was interested in Josh’s comment on that.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests for today, starting with Wes Plate, the founder and President of Automatic Duck; Michael Horton, the co-producer of the Supermeet at IBC; Randi Altman, Editor in Chief of postperspective.com; and Josh Apter, the founder and President of the Manhattan Edit Workshop, or soon to be ex-President, from what he announced tonight.
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.
Larry Jordan: Visit with us on Twitter, @dpbuzz, and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Our theme music is composed by Nathan Dugie Turner, with additional music provided by smartsound.com. Text transcripts are provided by Take 1 Transcription – visit take1.tv to learn how they can help you.
Larry Jordan: Our producer is Cirina Catania; our engineering team is led by Meagan Paulos and includes Ed Golya, James Miller, Keegan Guy, Lindsay Luebbert and Brianna Murphy. On behalf of Mike Horton in Amsterdam, my name is Larry Jordan and thanks for joining us on The Buzz.
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