Get the Latest BuZZ Each Week

Transcript: Digital Production BuZZ – September 24, 2015

Digital Production Buzz

September 24, 2015

[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]

(Click here to listen to this show.)

HOST
Larry Jordan

GUESTS
Denver Riddle, Founder, Color Grading Central
Jonathan Handel, Entertainment/Technology Attorney & Labor Reporter, TroyGould and The Hollywood Reporter
Simon Walker, Freelance trainer
===

Larry Jordan: Tonight on The Buzz, Denver Riddle talks color in video. He’s a professional colorist and founder of Color Grading Central, which is a learning resource for filmmakers and colorists. He also developed Color Finale, an extremely popular color correction plug-in for Final Cut Pro X. Tonight, we’ll learn how to make our images look their best.

Larry Jordan: Next, the rules for hiring freelancers are changing. A recent Uber lawsuit ruled that in many cases independent contractors need to be considered employees. This ruling has deep implications for many filmmakers. Jonathan Handel, the contributing editor on entertainment labor issues for The Hollywood Reporter joins us this week to explain what we need to know about this ruling.

Larry Jordan: Next, Simon Walker is an Adobe certified expert and instructor, plus a certified trainer for Final Cut Pro X. He was working in the Adobe booth at IBC and shares his thoughts on the latest Adobe announcements, plus some exciting new technology he discovered at the show.

Larry Jordan: All this plus a Buzz Flashback and Michael Kammes on Tech Talk looks at the new tech talk show. The Buzz starts now.

Announcer #1: Tonight’s Digital Production Buzz is brought to you by Other World Computing at macsales.com; and by Xen Data, 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: 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. By the way, our co-host, Mike Horton, will return next week and Randi Altman has the night off.

Larry Jordan: After our interview last week on drones, viewer Mike sent me some important information and clarifications that I want to share with you tonight. Mike writes, quote, ‘Current FAA rules stipulate that no drone can be flown within five miles of any airport, nor can they be flown inside any national park without a special permit, and this permit does not include state parks or national forests.

Larry Jordan: ‘Also, all flights must be kept below 500 feet. Moreover, in order to fly a drone commercially, you must have at least a sport pilot’s license and apply for and be granted a Section 333 exemption from the FAA. You must also register each air frame with the FAA and have an N license number assigned for each. Finally, for each commercial flight, a complete flight plan must be filed with the local air traffic control center. As you can tell, this flight process is not for the faint of heart.

Larry Jordan: Another consideration is local ordinances. While the only government agency with jurisdiction over all airspace in the US is the FAA, local governments can and do make their own rules. While not technically enforceable, since only the FAA can make laws governing airspace, local police will still be quite happy to confiscate a wandering drone and detain the operator. As such, operators must also check and comply with all applicable local laws before flying.

Larry Jordan: As a final note, modern drones all use a variety of systems to make their use easier. Indeed, DJI, a maker of drones, brags that the users of their drones need no flying experience. Typically, a drone will use a GPS, a barometer, a compass, three gyros and a three axis accelerometer. However, the drone can lose connection to the GPS and become uncontrollable, resulting in the loss of the drone and potential damage to persons or property. Most drones allow the operator to take full manual control of the craft and actually fly it.

Larry Jordan: The new drone operator would be well served to actually learn how to fly a toy quadcopter before moving onto something like the DJI Phantom 3. The skills and understanding gained by actually learning to fly can save the drone, as well as prevent injury. To determine if the drone operator you are hiring for a gig is certified by the FAA, which protects both you and reduces your liability, visit the FAA website and search for Section 333 exemption. The list of certified operators is easily searched. If you plan to fly drones for hire, I strongly recommend you apply for an exemption on the FAA site as well.’

Larry Jordan: I’ll be back with Denver Riddle right after this.

Larry Jordan: Still to come on The Buzz – Denver Riddle, Jonathan Handel, Simon Walker, Tech Talk and Buzz Flashback.

Larry Jordan: When you’re working with media, one thing is essential – your computer needs peak performance. However, when it comes to upgrading your Mac, there are so many different options to choose from that the process can be confusing. That’s why Other World Computing carries the best upgrades that let your computer performance and storage grow as your needs grow.

Larry Jordan: Since 1988, OWC has become one of the most trusted names in quality hardware and comprehensive support to the worldwide computer industry. With an extensive online catalog of Mac, iPhone and iPad enhancement products, as well as a dedicated team of knowledgeable experts providing first rate tech support, OWC has everything you need to take your current system to the next level. Whether you need to maximize your system’s memory, add blazing speed or enhance reliability, look no further than the friendly experts at OWC. Learn more by visiting macsales.com today.

Larry Jordan: Denver Riddle is a professional colorist and founder of Color Grading Central. This is a learning resource for filmmakers and for colorists. However, Denver is better known as the developer of the well regarded Color Finale for Final Cut Pro X. Hello, Denver, welcome.

Denver Riddle: Thank you, Larry, I appreciate being on your show.

Larry Jordan: Oh, delighted. By the way, I want to start with a short story. I haven’t told this to anybody yet. I have never liked the rectangular color board in Final Cut Pro X, though I like Apple’s color tools in general. However, a while back I was complaining about the color board yet again to Apple and they immediately recommended Color Finale, so you clearly have fans in high places.

Denver Riddle: Yes, it’s really exciting the attention that we’ve had from Apple.

Larry Jordan: What first got you interested in color?

Denver Riddle: I started out my career as a director of photography and I wanted to have more control over the image from acquisition all the way to delivery, and so I saw color correction as an extension of that.

Larry Jordan: Did you decide to start the Color Grading Central website because you wanted to teach people about color, or did you create Color Finale and then create a website to support it?

Denver Riddle: What actually happened is I was first starting out in my career as a colorist and I found that there weren’t a lot of resources for learning about color correction and so I founded Color Grading Central as a means for helping others to locate some of those resources and produce tutorials that I felt would be beneficial to others.

Denver Riddle: Color Finale actually came along, it was kind of a natural extension of that because I really enjoy Final Cut Pro X as an editor and I just felt like there were some tools that were missing that were found in Final Cut Pro 7 as well as Apple Color, which of course as you know end of line. So Color Finale was my business partner’s brainchild to bring some of the professional color correction software components into Final Cut X.

Larry Jordan: All of our NLEs have had color correction tools in them for a long time. Why create Color Finale?

Denver Riddle: In the spring of 2014 there was a survey that went out that was conducted by Marquee Broadcasting which I’m sure you’re familiar with because I know that you participated in the survey, and one of the interesting things that we found was that more than half of Final Cut X editors were actually sending their projects out of Final Cut to another program to do color correction and finishing and so we felt like whatever tools were in other programs, we wanted to be able to create tools that were compelling enough that editors would be able to finish projects right within Final Cut X.

Denver Riddle: That included bringing back the three way color corrector. We introduced a proper implementation of them RGB curves and then we also incorporated a utility for applying look up tables which we had previously developed as a standalone product. We brought that in and then there’s also a really neat secondaries tool called the Vector’s Tool that allows you to do isolated corrections based on the vectors red, green, blue, cyan, yellow and magenta.

Larry Jordan: Denver, you touched on this earlier but we have a live chat running and Eric is asking why use Color Finale when Resolve is readily available for Final Cut?

Denver Riddle: We found that a lot of editors felt that learning a new piece of software was really intimidating, learning a new program, and we also found with different sized productions and budgets that companies didn’t have the time or resources to send it out to a colorist. We wanted to help those companies be able to finish all within the Final Cut X timeline without actually having to leave the program and do the round trip dance.

Larry Jordan: The color corrector inside Final Cut, which is now a standalone effect as opposed to being built into the inspector, is built on the color engine that Apple Color provides. Are you using the same color engine or do I get different results if I make the same change in Apple’s color effect versus your color grade?

Denver Riddle: Actually, ours is unique and different. In fact, we wrote our own renderer, I guess in a sense color engine. We have the ability to implement ACES which we will at some point and the lead engineer on this worked on daily systems for films like ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ ‘Avengers’ and ‘Thor’ and so it has some of the best experience that the industry has to offer in terms of color science.

Larry Jordan: Are you sitting down? I’ve got some technical questions for you. I just recently finished two webinars, one a week ago on color grading inside Final Cut and one yesterday on color grading inside Premiere. The first one is an easy one because I think you’ve got the answer to this, but I’ve got to find out what NLEs, what video editing software do you support?

Denver Riddle: Currently we support Apple’s Final Cut Pro. Adobe’s made some really incredible inroads with image grading SpeedGrade. In Premiere, it’s the… color panel. I don’t know that there’s as much of a need for what we have for Adobe products, though we do get lots of requests from Adobe users to support Color Finale in Adobe. If we were able to port it to the Adobe creative cloud, I think that we would want to bring Color Finale to a more mature state before we decide to go that route.

Larry Jordan: Ok, so so far Color Finale works just with Final Cut X, so within that context does the codec that we shoot and the codec that we edit make a difference in the color grading results?

Denver Riddle: No, it actually shouldn’t. In our tests, we’ve thrown everything at it from RED Epic to H.264 type material and anything basically that Apple will support we can use with our color corrector. I will say there are some minimum system requirements for Color Finale in order for it to run, number one being that users need to be on Yosemite 10.10 or later and also their graphics card has to support OpenCL version 1.2. Pretty much any Macintosh that was built after about 2011 has those OpenCL 1.2 specs, but those are the two main minimum system requirements in order for it to run.

Larry Jordan: Ok. It’s a wonderful answer but it’s the right answer to the wrong question. I want to ask the question again. Regardless of whether Color Finale will run – so we’ve got a late computer, we’ve got plenty of RAM, we’ve got the graphics card – does it make a difference in the results of the color grade if we’re shooting, say, AVCHD or H.264 versus shooting a raw image on a Sony or a RED camera? In other words, does the source codec make a difference in the quality of the color grade?

Denver Riddle: Well, obviously if you bring in something from the RED camera, some kind of RAW codec, you are going to have more image bits or data to work with and so the more information, the larger color space or color palette you bring in and the more options and flexibility you’re going to have with those type of sources.

Larry Jordan: So for filmmakers who are looking to have the greatest flexibility in color grade, in changing their image, they should consider the codec that they’re shooting as one of the criteria before they actually begin production.

Denver Riddle: Yes. It’s becoming more common these days for camera manufacturers to support Log type exposures and so if you do shoot in Log or one of these picture styles that gives you a flat looking image, that retains more of the detail in the shadows and the highlights, that’s going to give you more options in post in terms of how you work with that.

Denver Riddle: One of the really neat things with Color Finale is with implementing the RGB curves you can go into the master curve and you can adjust that full range to the way you want it. You can just dial in the contrast where you need it and whatever details are not important, you have that flexibility to decide what you want to keep and what you want to throw away.

Larry Jordan: Ok. Thinking that we’re now shooting a Log C or an S Log or a RAW format and I want to have good looking final output, what should I set my render settings to inside Final Cut? I’ve got a lot of different choices for rendering. What’s going to give me the best looking color?

Denver Riddle: As far as single processing or in your output settings?

Larry Jordan: In the project settings, I can go anywhere from ProRes LT all the way up to ProRes 4444 XQ. Does it make a difference which render setting I select if I’m going to be doing color grading?

Denver Riddle: I think 422 ProRes will be sufficient. From 422 to 444, this isn’t something that your eye’s going to be able to see, but there’s certainly advantages with shooting 444 with regard to doing keying and compositing, those types of things, so 422 is a good setting to color grade in.

Larry Jordan: Does it make a difference if we’re in 422 or 422 HQ? Does the extra bit rate make a difference in image quality?

Denver Riddle: To be honest, I actually don’t know that. I know that the HQ is, I guess, less of a compressed codec. As to if that’s something that you’re actually going to be able to see, that remains to be seen. I don’t know if anyone’s done any testing to see what the difference is.

Larry Jordan: I’ve done testing to test 4×4 versus 422 and there’s clearly if difference if I can originate in 4×4 versus 422, but I haven’t done testing between 422 and HQ. I should add that to my list of stuff to check. How long have you been out and who are typical customers?

Denver Riddle: Well, Color Grading Central’s been around four years now. My customers run the gamut from those who are enthusiasts who just want to make prettier pictures with the stuff that they’re shooting all the way to Fortune 500 companies that are purchasing some of the training and also Color Finale as well. It’s surprising, it seems like there’s a growing number of production companies that are adopting Final Cut 10 or chose to stick with Final Cut X when it came out.

Larry Jordan: You have a wonderful demo of Color Finale on your website – I enjoyed watching that – although I had to laugh because you were showing the difference in color grading between a RAW image and a color graded image, which is about as dramatic a difference as you can create.

Denver Riddle: Yes, that’s true.

Larry Jordan: For people who want to learn how the software works, which partly involves understanding color theory and partly involves understanding how the software works, where can they go on your website? Do you have a tutorial or training section?

Denver Riddle: I actually just recently released a tutorial on YouTube, but it’s actually available from the Color Finale product page. When you sign up, it at least points to this tutorial, but it’s available on YouTube. Basically, what the tutorial is over the summer I actually color graded a major motion pictures that’s being released this Monday and the producers edited this film in Final Cut X, so when they were looking for a colorist they tapped me for it.

Denver Riddle: I asked them if they would be interested in letting us test out Color Finale on it, which they were reluctant to do at first but we made the case and we actually color corrected the film with Color Finale. What I did is I created a tutorial around this film and took users from no understanding of color correction all the way to learning some basic principles of color theory.

Larry Jordan: And, Denver, where can people go on the web to learn more about Color Finale?

Denver Riddle: They can go to colorgradingcentral.com.

Larry Jordan: Thank you for joining us. We’re going to wrap this up. Please visit colorgradingcentral.com, check out Color Finale. Denver Riddle is the founder. Take care. Bye bye.

Larry Jordan: Still to come on The Buzz – Jonathan Handel, Simon Walker, Tech Talk and Buzz Flashback.

Larry Jordan: If you need long term archiving for your video content, then you should look at Xen Data. They specialize in providing secure long term storage of video content with a low cost per terabyte. The company has a variety of archive solutions that range from external LTO drives that can connect to your laptop to multi-petabyte storage systems using huge robotic libraries.

Larry Jordan: Xen Data Systems will store your content on LTO or Sony optical disk archive cartridges and, with their next release, they also provide an option for archiving to the Amazon cloud. They offer great compatibility with many of the third party applications used in the media and entertainment industry, including most media asset management systems. Xen Data has hundreds of installations around the world, from Los Angeles to Mongolia, so if protecting your assets is important to you, visit xendata.com.

Larry Jordan: Jonathan Handel is an entertainment and technology attorney of Counsel at TroyGould in Los Angeles. He’s also the contributing editor on entertainment labor issues for The Hollywood Reporter and he has a website at jhandel.com. Hello, Jonathan, welcome back.

Jonathan Handel: Larry, thank you for having me.

Larry Jordan: Jonathan, you’re sitting at your desk and I still have dreams of that poor Porsche that you crashed. What’s the status of your Porsche?

Jonathan Handel: Well, the Porsche was really just a radio controlled car. The actual car that I drive is an SLK, so I brought it with me.

Larry Jordan: I will never forget Mike’s and my expression as you drove that Porsche into a cat dish. I swear, one of the highlights of The Buzz.

Jonathan Handel: It was a water dish, that’s right.

Larry Jordan: Jonathan, there’s an issue we’re all wrestling with which is how do you know if someone is an employee or an independent contractor?

Jonathan Handel: It’s a tough one and that issue has come up in no less than three recent cases involving Uber, which I suppose you’d like me to talk a little bit about?

Larry Jordan: I do, because the question I’ve got – before we talk about Uber specifically – is why is the issue of independent contractor versus an employee important?

Jonathan Handel: Well, that is the threshold question. It’s important for anyone who produces or runs a crew in any way in our business and it’s important because it makes a difference in terms of issues like liability, taxes, withholding, potential for unemployment compensation, benefits, the need sometimes to pay employees expenses like when they use their car or their equipment, so there’s a whole host of issues that revolve around whether someone is an independent contractor or an employee and it’s easier to treat people as independent contractors. That’s what people tend to do when they’re operating fast and loose, but it’s not always the safest thing.

Larry Jordan: All right, well, let’s switch over to Uber, which is setting the precedents in this case. I think you said there are three cases. Set the scene, what’s the first one about?

Jonathan Handel: The most recent decision that we’ve had comes in a class action lawsuit by Uber drivers against Uber, drivers who want to be classified as employees despite the fact that Uber has been classifying them as independent contractors. What the court decided, much to Uber’s dismay, is that that case can proceed as a class action, so they’ve certified the class in legal jargon and the case is going to move forward. We don’t have a decision yet, obviously, at this early stage or even any indication as to how the court will rule on the ultimate question, but it is an important case. That’s number one.

Larry Jordan: Let’s just take that just for a second. If the case goes to trial and if it’s decided that they are employees, from the point of view of the drivers, what is the difference?

Jonathan Handel: There are several differences. One is that they have to get paid at least minimum wage and so they have the question of when is an Uber driver on duty? If they’ve got the app on, and what if they also have the Lift app on, do they have to get paid? Suppose it’s a really poor day so the number of fares they have don’t add up to cover minimum wage plus overtime for the time that they’ve worked, who’s responsible for that? Is Uber going to be responsible for topping it off, bringing them up to minimum wage? Is Lift going to be partially responsible if they also are a Lift driver? You can see the complexities.

Jonathan Handel: Expenses, the expense of using your car. When you’re an employee, you’re generally entitled to have that expense reimbursed at a rate that the IRS sets, today around 52.5 cents a mile, whereas an independent contractor is responsible for all their own expenses unless their contract says otherwise. I should say liabilities are an issue as well. If an Uber driver commits an assault or something against someone, to what degree can Uber itself be held liable? It depends in part on whether or not they’re an employee.

Larry Jordan: Ok, now there are three cases. You’ve described the first one, which is the class action suit. What’s the second one?

Jonathan Handel: The second one, where we also had a recent decision, was a California Unemployment Appeals Board case. The Unemployment Appeals Board does pretty much what its name sounds like, which is if you’re denied unemployment or you’re granted unemployment, whichever side is unhappy, the employer or the employee can appeal and an Uber driver was granted unemployment by the Unemployment Appeals Board and, of course, to be granted unemployment you have to be categorized as an employee, not as an independent contractor, so they made a decision on that same issue.

Jonathan Handel: The third case was before yet another body, the California Labor Commissioner, and there the employee was seeking back wages, potentially over time, I’m not sure, and also her expenses for driving the car. The Commission decided that she was an employee and granted her the expenses. Didn’t grant the wages, but that was really because the employee was uncooperative in providing evidence, so it’s not a decisive factor. Uber, I believe, is appealing that case. The unemployment case, I’m not sure what the status of that is, but what you see is sort of a trifecta of California cases, all of which have gone against Uber on this issue.

Larry Jordan: Ok, so Uber is not necessarily making films on a regular basis. How much of this can be extended to filmmakers as they’re hiring? We hire freelance people all the time and if it applies to us, then what criteria do we need to use to determine whether somebody is an independent contractor, a freelancer, or an employee?

Jonathan Handel: It’s a tough issue and part of that is illustrated by the fact that, although Uber has been losing in these California cases, they’ve won in other states that apply ostensibly pretty much the same rules. The reason there’s so much uncertainty on this issue is that there isn’t a single decisive factor. There are something like up to 20 or more factors that courts and administrative agencies can look at in trying to decide whether someone’s an employee or an independent contractor.

Jonathan Handel: Among the key issues are the following. First of all, if you do in fact decide to pay someone as an employee, that’s pretty dispositive, they’ll be treated as an employee. That’s the easy case, set that aside. If you treat them as an independent contractor, it doesn’t work the same way in reverse, it’s not necessarily dispositive. They can get reclassified, as the Uber cases show, and the issues include how much control you the boss or the person engaging the worker exercise over them, whether they’re excusive to your or whether they work for other people during the week doing the same sort of stuff, whether they train themselves if training is needed to do what they’re doing, whether they bring their own equipment or whether you supply it.

Jonathan Handel: Are you judging them basically by the quality of their work output, or are you judging them based on the number of hours they’re working and the exact details in the way they’re working? If you say, “No, I want you to put such and such filter in front of that lens, not a so and so filter,” as opposed to saying, “I want something that’s a hazy retro look,” those kinds of factors could help make the difference.

Jonathan Handel: So you can see, it’s not an easy call, but the more someone feels like an employee, the more someone is at your job site where you tell them, when you tell them, working primarily or exclusively for you and not holding themselves out to the general community as available for services, the more they may have to be treated as an employee.

Larry Jordan: So short term, while these cases are wending their way through the California legal system in all of its different implementations, do we need to change our behavior in hiring freelancers or do we need to protect ourselves with different contracts? What should we do?

Jonathan Handel: That’s hard, because on the one hand you want to say, “Well, I’m a small operator, I’m a small producer doing small productions, no-one’s really going to pay attention to me,” and it’s true that if you’re not 20th Century Fox or Uber or someone big, there isn’t going to be the motivation on the part of the agencies to come looking for you, but one disgruntled worker, on the other hand, can create an awful lot of dismay and headache if something goes wrong and then you are caught in the maw of a system that’s going to decide are they or aren’t they? And you’re tempted to say only their hairdresser knows for sure whether they’re an employee or not.

Jonathan Handel: Certainly in contrast, something that a producer can do is include arbitration provisions, because you can take the decision making power away from the courts and many of the various agencies by requiring the disputes be arbitrated. In fact, Uber somewhat belatedly did exactly that and so that class action law suit we were talking about only affects and only applies directly to drivers up through, I think, 2013 or so. After that, drivers were clicking yes on arbitration agreements in their contracts, so it becomes a very different look. An arbitrator is in general probably more management friendly, more company friendly, to be direct about it, and certainly less bound by some of the details of the law in some cases.

Larry Jordan: Well, it looks like we’re going to have to keep an eye on this because there’s no specific action we can take, we just need to be sensitive to it until the courts rule.

Jonathan Handel: Yes, that’s exactly right. We saw something similar with the unpaid internship issue, where people had been using unpaid interns perhaps in ways that don’t comport with the law for many years. We saw a saw a court decision that put everyone on notice and then that decision got reversed and now it appears that some of the changes that the big studios made, they might not even have had to make, so there are very unsettled areas of the law here and very politicized.

Jonathan Handel: Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, you’ve got your particular opinion on this, whether you’re management or labor and the judges are influenced by who they’re appointed by, the politicians are influenced by who they’re elected by and it’s not an area of law that just is as cold as a piece of marble. It’s not obvious.

Larry Jordan: Jonathan, I know next week you’re going to be going up to the SAG convention and you’re going to be giving us a report from that, so I can’t wait to talk to you, but for people who want to keep track of you, what website can they go to?

Jonathan Handel: They can go to jhandel.com or thrlabor.com.

Larry Jordan: Jonathan, thanks for joining us today.

Larry Jordan: Still to come on The Buzz – Simon Walker, 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 they’re 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.

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 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.

Larry Jordan: 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.

Announcer #1: Welcome to Tech Talk, sponsored by Keycode Media.

Michael Kammes: One of the most useful products to hit the market in the past year has been TalkShow by Newtek. I’m hoping you remember Newtek. They’ve been around for about 30 years and were the folks behind Video Toaster. Well, fast forward 20 years to 2005 and Newtek release the Tricaster, otherwise known as the broadcast studio in a box.

Michael Kammes: The Tricaster allows users to bump up their game in terms of production value. Elevating your production value often comes by having guests and live video within your broadcast. Sending out a crew is both expensive and time consuming. It also lacks the real time give and take a live show has. However, getting guests in a studio can often be just as challenging. Skype has usually been the go-to solution – there are over 300 million Skype users out there – but incorporating this into a live scenario has always required separate computers, scan convertors, frame size and frame rate conversions, quality loss and the inevitable kludge audio configs. This is the problem TalkShow solves.

Michael Kammes: TalkShow, which is based in Microsoft’s Skype TX, is a professional version of Skype running on a computer appliance that transmits and receives Skype feeds in a broadcast HD SDI format, so it integrates seamlessly into your broadcast chain. Because this is the pro version of Skype, you don’t have to deal with ads or pop-ups, just a clean audio and video signal. The… is pretty simple to operate. It’s got HD SDI in and out to send and receive video with the in-Skype user. There are also telelights built in so the end user knows when they’re hot and when they’re not. A local monitor can be attached to control TalkShow, as well as control multiple units for segments where multiple guests are Skyped in.

Michael Kammes: This allows not only a centralized place to control everything, but also a real time preview of the incoming Skype signal so you know what you’re going to get before you switch to it. For all of you broadcasters out there, yes, there is genlock on the unit to reduce latency issues inherent with these types of solutions.

Michael Kammes: To take pressure off of your shoulders during operation, TalkShow also has automatic features to make your life a little bit easier. It’s got built in color correction to bounce the image for broadcast levels, either set on auto or that you can set yourself; a USB 3.0 connection so you can save the recorded calls to an external drive in a pretty easily editable QuickTime format. TalkShow can have a custom still image or take a screen grab of your guest, so in the event of a video dropout or loss of picture, the audio comes through behind the still image. There are also numerous audio controls including compressors, limiters, EQs and metering to keep your audio intelligible.

Michael Kammes: All TalkShow audio is also processed in Floating Point 96K. More on audio. Yes, it is my first love. There are always issues with sound during remote interviews. For example, there can be feedback, controlling what is and what is not sent back to the field or giving cues to a talent. TalkShow handles four channels of audio on input, thus allowing more control over audio including mix minus ability. You can also utilize GPI triggers to facilitate a good talkback solution.

Michael Kammes: I do caution, however, to get help configuring and setting proper audio routing and levels during your TalkShow integration. Are you more cutting edge? Sure you are. That’s why there’s also Dante support – audio over IP. So what are you going to need? Well, first you’re going to need 1.2 megabits of internet bandwidth. This is easily accomplished at any facility that has DSL, cable or better. You’ll need an HD SDI switcher like the Tricaster. This unit is designed to work with HD SDI models of Tricaster. However, HD SDI to HD… will work just as well, albeit at an added cost.

Michael Kammes: I recommend an audio mixer. While the Tricaster does have a built in mixer with multiple audio inputs, more often than not I recommend an upward mixer for a greater level of flexibility, control and inputs. Also, keep in mind this is a single channel box, that is one caller at a time, although you can queue up the next caller. To accommodate multiple concurrent guests, you will need multiple TalkShow units. Under the hood, TalkShow is still a computer. As such, you’ll need a local monitor – I recommend DVI – keyboard and a mouse to operate it. TalkShow retails for $39.95, which makes it slightly more expensive than building a homebrew Skype solution, but the built in broadcast features make it a simple solution for easier integration into a live production environment.

Michael Kammes: So does this look like a toy you can use, or do you have another solution that works just as well? Track us down online and let us know. I’m Michael Kammas with Keycode Media.

Larry Jordan: Simon Walker is a UK based trainer and Adobe certified expert and instructor, an Apple certified master trainer in Final Cut Studio and a certified trainer for Final Cut Pro X. What he doesn’t know, the rest of us don’t need to learn. Hello, Simon, welcome back. It’s good to have you with us.

Simon Walker: Hi Larry.

Larry Jordan: Simon, last week at IBC, you were presenting for Adobe in their booth. Give us the details of their forthcoming upgrade.

Simon Walker: I wasn’t on the main stage, I was working with them on one of the pods and talking to customers about some of their new releases and things like that and it’s quite interesting, I think, what they’ve got going on, cross-referenced with what I’ve been unofficially calling the interconnectedness of all things, which is a Douglas Adams quote, of course. But it’s interesting that Adobe is supporting HDR in their new release when you cross-reference that with some of the other things that are happening, things that Sony are doing and also car manufacturers like Bluefish are doing to support actually having the ability to see HDR on the screens.

Simon Walker: It was quite interesting, wandering around all the different booths at IBC and then doing a tealeaf reading. It’s a massive technical jigsaw puzzle to actually bring these together. I’m happy to talk more specifically more than that general overview, if you like.

Larry Jordan: There are two things I want to cover. One is I’d love to get a sense of what the specific features are; but then I want to explore this whole concept of interconnectedness with you. Let’s talk about what the new goodies are in the upcoming release, which Adobe previewed but which has not yet been released.

Simon Walker: The big one was HDR and support for those formats in and out and they also have lots of small things like the video limiter now exists as an effect in the video panel, so you can apply it at the last minute if you’re doing a quick turnaround – although caveat, I’ve written a blog post about this, always better to grade your stuff first. This is just a get out of jail free card, if you like.

Larry Jordan: Hold it a second. They’ve had a broadcast safe filter for a while. Is this a replacement for that?

Simon Walker: They removed the broadcast colors effect in the 2015 version and they’ve still got the video limiter, which is the Mercury playback accelerated filter. If you put that through its paces under specific settings, that’s actually pretty good, but they’ve added the same one to the export tab for video on the export from Premiere Pro, so it’s just one of those small little extras that can help you when you’re on a deadline or doing things at 100 miles an hour.

Larry Jordan: I was thinking about it, HDR is a huge feature and so far Apple and Avid don’t support it but Adobe will be supporting it when the product gets released, which reminds me that there are really two types of features – those that get the most publicity and those that are the most helpful to editors in the workflow. Of the major features, what are you most excited about? And then I’m going to ask you what are the minor features that get you the most interested?

Simon Walker: The major one was HDR and I got very excited because I was able to play with it with one of the new Sony monitors, the BVM X300, and Sony were also demonstrating those on their stand too. So I was playing with it on the Bluefish stand and using their Epoch and their Neutron cards to actually physically change the display and I have to say it’s not until you see these things in the flesh that you really appreciate the experience that is looking at these bright HDR images, especially when you’re looking at them side by side with an SDR image and they are undoubtedly beautiful to look at and wonderfully saturated.

Simon Walker: But I can’t imagine sitting in a dark editing suite for more than about half an hour without needing a breaking or turning on the light because they are just so bright and the joke was that we were going to have to put our shades on to watch these. Then the joke extended to be the fact that 3D didn’t take on because people had to wear glasses to watch it and then suddenly you’ve got HDR, well, you might have to wear glasses with that. Boom-boom!

Larry Jordan: Let me come back at you with that, because I’ve heard this comment that HDR is really bright, because it is compared to standard dynamic range video – by the way HDR, for those who don’t know the acronym, stands for high dynamic range video, where the highlights are brighter and the shadows are darker than traditional video – but the reason that we watch video in darkened rooms is that standard dynamic range video is just dark. It’s just a really, really dim experience. Maybe what we’re doing is emulating real life, where we don’t have to walk around in dark rooms to have conversations with people.

Simon Walker: Absolutely, and that’s something I was talking about with a couple of editors when we were standing in front of the screen. We were saying this is going to be much easier for edit suites that weren’t specifically dark. I’ve been in so many edit suites that have been in open plan offices because of budgetary or other reasons, so it’s going to be very interesting to see the uptake of this because, you’re absolutely right, you don’t have to be in a dark room. Also, we were talking about how it might change the editing process because if you’re an editor and you’re going to be tempted to cut from a really dark or a night shot into a bright shot, that’s going to really wake up the audience. So you could use this for good or ill, it’s up to you as an editor, I suppose.

Larry Jordan: I’m reminded of stun lights at a heavy metal concert, where all of a sudden the front wall lights up and people’s eyes are nailed to the back of the concert hall.

Simon Walker: Yes, yes. It’s exactly that experience. Also, at the colorist mixer party, Warren Eagles – he’s co-founder of the International Colorist Academy – was joking with everybody that, yes, you’re going to have to do an HDR version and an SDR version and the joke was for the same money, just because the saturation is so difficult on them, or so different between the two versions, and we’re so used to, as you say, slightly dimmer images and the saturation isn’t as saturated, isn’t as bright and it doesn’t grab you as much.

Simon Walker: So that’ll be interesting, but there’s one more point that is if you’re looking at a 4K image side by side with an HDR image, the same spec, the same feed, the same codec, it’s just so much sharper watching the HDR image which, as I understand it, is to do with the way our eyes process light and the brighter it is, the more sharp it seems to us. So there’s something interesting in watching two 4K images side by side and seeing one visibly 30 or 40 percent sharper. That’s got to have an aspect as well, especially on outdoor big display screens.

Larry Jordan: Let’s get back to the announcements that Adobe made and a comment that you made earlier about interconnectedness. Now, one of the things that I remember reading about you writing is the interconnectedness between technology companies that are working to try to make the connections of all this different gear more seamless. How can it be more seamless than it already is? If we plug in hard discs, they show up on our desktop and software knows how to save files. What’s the missing component that you’re starting to see?

Simon Walker: I do have a comment on plugging stuff in, but interesting you should mention about the human interface. I’ve been working on a Dell laptop side by side with my old MacBook Pro and it’s the M3800, the one with the touch screen. The reason for this is that I’ve been testing out the new touch interface that Premiere Pro has got and I have to say, after many years of advising editors about working more quickly, using keyboard shortcuts and the mouse in a more efficient way, I found that physically touching stuff on the screen is so much faster. So much so, I’ve been going back to the MacBook Pro and trying to touch the screen, forgetting that it’s not a touch screen. So it’s really interesting, it’s so much faster to be able to press something on the screen rather than collect your mouse on the track pad and then go and click something.

Simon Walker: I thought originally it wasn’t necessarily going to be as ergonomic as it is, because you’re lifting up your arm to press the screen, but actually it’s very natural and I can’t imagine not doing it any more. Another reason why I’ve been hopping in between Windows and Mac is that so many editors I know are switching over to Windows, especially large facilities, so I have to jump in between both operating systems, but I have to say, given the money, if I had to buy a new laptop, I would be seriously tempted to switch to Windows. I know that’s heresy, but anyway.

Larry Jordan: Well, I was just thinking it’s going to change the pizza eating habits of a lot of editors if touch catches on like this.

Simon Walker: Yes, absolutely. You’re absolutely right. It’s actually a good thing. It’s going to be good discipline in the edit suite. “You can’t have crisps, not until you’ve finished that edit.” Maybe that’s a reward system for editors.

Larry Jordan: Do I remember reading correctly that the World Cup was using some of these touch features?

Simon Walker: We didn’t use touch at the World Cup. We certainly used Windows and, poor me, I was stuck in Rio for six to eight weeks, Copacabana and so on.

Larry Jordan: I’m so sorry.

Simon Walker: I know, I know. It’s all right, don’t worry, I’ll be ok, I’ll get over it.

Larry Jordan: Tell me about what you learned at the World Cup.

Simon Walker: I will tell you about that, but can I just go back to your interconnectedness of things? Because there was something else that I saw at IBC…

Larry Jordan: It’s your interview, you just take control. Run this however you want.

Simon Walker: All right. The other thing that I thought was quite interesting was Thunderbolt plugging into both Mac and Windows. The new Dell laptop I’ve got has got Thunderbolt on it. You have to download the drivers for it, but I have my Mac formatted discs plugged into my PC laptop and I’ve done a series of tests with things like MacDrive and Paragon’s HFS Plus for Windows and seen which is faster. By the way, the Paragon software seems to me to be about 20 or 30 percent faster, because I’m getting almost 320 megabytes a second of the Thunderbolt connection for my SSD.

Simon Walker: But in any case, what I thought was really interesting was the fact that, through Thunderbolt, you can do – like Bluefish have got – an external chassis, I think it’s a Magma chassis, where they’ve got graphics cards plugged into an external chassis that will work with a MacPro via Thunderbolt and the guys over at G Technology have made a MiniMag reader for RED cards and that plugs into the G Dog, and that plugs in via Thunderbolt, so it’s very interesting. The higher dynamic range footage requires faster speed but at the same time you’ve got all these companies doing small little connectivity things so that you can actually transfer stuff between computers or between drives and backups or RAIDs and not have to worry about which particular platform you’re on as much as we used to.

Simon Walker: That’s what I mean by the interconnectedness and it’s not as if every manufacturer’s working together to make an editor’s life easy, I know they’re in business to sell stuff too, but it’s quite interesting how they seem to be settling upon things that are really helpful and overlapping, about helping you not have to consider so much of the technical aspect, and that isn’t such a barrier to editing. At least, that was my impression over last week at IBC.

Larry Jordan: If you were to pick the top three highlights that did not involve Adobe from IBC, clearly HDR would be one, what would be the other two?

Simon Walker: The second one would be Thunderbolt on Mac and PC and how that’s being rolled out quite significantly everywhere, and the third one would be a nice tiny little gadget, again from G Technology, that is a Firewire adaptor so you can plug it in the back of your USB3 drives that they do – their EV series drives – and then you can daisy chain Firewire drives off the back of it.

Larry Jordan: A connector for Firewire that goes to USB, not Thunderbolt?

Simon Walker: Off the back of the USBs, when you plug them into the dock, they plug in via the – oh, I’ve forgotten what it’s called now. It’s that special adapter that usually you have to have that plugs into the back of a machine. It’s usually on the inside. The word’s gone from me, but you plug it into the back of the drive and it converts it into a Firewire 800. I’ve got, and I’m sure you have as well, a large plastic bucket of about 30 drives that I’ve used over the last ten years or so, most of which have been Firewire and I don’t have a Firewire port on my new laptop, so it’s quite interesting to be able to piggy view these back or daisy chain them back off each other.

Larry Jordan: That is very cool.

Simon Walker: I know. They only just introduced it and so I’ve been testing out how many I can daisy chain and how many power drives versus self powered or bus powered. So just that small thing, to be able to access old drives, I found pretty useful.

Larry Jordan: Simon, normally at this point in the interview I ask what new projects you’re working on, but I know what your next project is and I also know you’re under NDR, so instead I’m going to say that we need to have you come back and talk about this when it’s done, because it is very cool. Where can people go on the web to keep track of what you’re doing?

Simon Walker: Oh, thank you Larry. People can go to my website, which is www.simonwalkerfreelance.com, or via Twitter which is just @simonwalker and if you type in Simon Walker on LinkedIn, you can always find me as well.

Larry Jordan: The voice you’ve been listening to is Simon Walker, a freelance trainer and media maven based out of the UK. His website is simonwalkerfreelance.com and, Simon, thanks for joining us today.

Simon Walker: Thank you Larry, it’s a pleasure.

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

Unknown female (archive): It’s two separate video streams, so that the DTs or stereographers, their job is to get the best 3D they can and certainly sometimes that’s going to be with a large 3D rig and I think for 85 percent of the rest of the application, you can probably do pretty well with 3D A1.

Larry Jordan: This was a Buzz Flashback.

Larry Jordan: You know, it’s interesting listening to the conversation with Simon, with his reaction to seeing HDR for the very first time. I had a chance to see HDR almost two years ago in a demonstration that Dolby provided and, as Simon mentioned, the difference between looking at a standard dynamic range, the video that we’re looking at every day, and high dynamic range, where the blacks are far darker and the highlights just sort of knock you back in your seat, is stunning.

Larry Jordan: What I was especially interested in is not only are we seeing HDR supported in terms of hardware – monitors to be able to display the HDR image – but it’s now started to be supported in software, with Adobe’s recent announcements in terms of how they’re going to be supporting HDR video in the next version of Premiere, which will be shipping in the next month or so.

Larry Jordan: Personally, I think HDR has far more opportunities for us than simple 4K or higher resolution because the normal audience is going to see the difference in HDR far more than they’ll ever see at a higher resolution. The only down side is, as of right now, we can’t retrofit HDR onto existing productions.

Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests this week: Denver Riddle, the developer of Color Finale; Jonathan Handel, the entertainment labor editor for The Hollywood Reporter; and Simon Walker, a UK based trainer and media guru.

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; and please sign up for our free weekly show newsletter.

Larry Jordan: Talk with us on Twitter, @DPBuZZ, and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Our theme music is composed by Nathan Doogie 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 production team, Megan Paulos, Ed Golya, Keegan Guy, Hannah Dean, James Miller and Brianna Murphy. My name is Larry Jordan, thanks for watching.

Announcer #1: The Digital Production Buzz was brought to you by Other World Computing, providing quality hardware solutions and extensive technical support to the worldwide computer industry since 1988; and by Xen Data, who provides highly competitive digital video archive solutions.

TAGS:  

Share the Episode