Digital Production Buzz
December 31, 2015
[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]
(Click here to listen to this show.)
Randi Altman’s Perspective
Tech Talk with Larry Jordan
BuZZ Flashback: Philip Hodgetts
Philip Hodgetts, President, Lumberjack System
Ned Soltz, Contributing Editor, Digital Video Magazine, Ned Soltz Inc.
Michael Kammes, Director, Technology, Key Code Media
Larry O’Connor, President & Founder, Other World Computing
Jonathan Handel, Entertainment/Technology Attorney & Labor Reporter, TroyGould and The Hollywood Reporter
Larry Jordan: A very happy New Year’s Eve and a wonderful New Year. Tonight on The Buzz, we take a look forward at key trends that we can expect appearing in 2016. We’ll cover hardware, software, workflow, labor and legal issues with our Buzz team, including Randi Altman, Philip Hodgetts, Ned Soltz, Larry O’Connor, Michael Kammes and Jonathan Handel. A happy New Year’s Eve and tonight we look forward to 2016. The Buzz starts now.
Announcer #1: Tonight’s Digital Production Buzz is brought to you by Other World Computing at macsales.com; and by Blackmagic Design at blackmagicdesign.com.
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Larry Jordan: Welcome to The Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for creative content creators and the industry covering media production, post production and marketing around the world. Tonight, we conclude our two special shows to end the year. Last week, we looked back at 2015; tonight, we look forward to 2016 with our best guess as to what some of the most significant trends in media might be. And just as we did last week, we’ll start with our own resident expert, the man who knows the future, the man who, well, suffice it to say it’s Mike Horton. Hello Mike and a very happy New Year’s to you.
Mike Horton: Happy New Year to you, Larry, and I’m trying to think about what’s going to happen in 2016. I haven’t a clue. It’s going to be tough. Let’s see, last year and the last couple of years there was 4K, so 2016 must be 8K.
Larry Jordan: Yes, probably.
Mike Horton: And we will probably have thinner, lighter, more affordable everything.
Larry Jordan: Boy, you’re really going out on a limb there.
Mike Horton: Yes I know. Another codec. There’s going to be another codec, Larry, I guarantee it, and it’ll be the best codec yet.
Larry Jordan: There’s no question.
Mike Horton: Yes, right, but everybody’ll still use ProRes.
Larry Jordan: How about video compression? And we still haven’t talked about changes to cable coiling which, I think, is going to be important for 2016.
Mike Horton: I think there are only a few tutorials out there right now, but I think it’s going to explode. It’s an industry unto itself and, believe me, if you get in on the ground floor of this thing, you don’t have to worry about money ever again.
Larry Jordan: No.
Mike Horton: Video coiling and video compression. There it is. That’s my stock tip of the week. Oh gosh. Do you have any prognostication on what’s going to happen in 2016?
Larry Jordan: Well, personally I think it’s going to be HDR. I think once people see HDR…
Mike Horton: Yes, of course, of course, of course.
Larry Jordan: …it’s going to be amazing, and I think the other thing – and we’ll hear more of this as we talk with the gang a little bit later; well, Philip Hodgetts has the best line of all where he says, “Whatever I predict is not going to happen” – but we’re going to see, I think, a slowdown in new products being released. We’re going to see more time spent with development, because the products are coming out so quickly nobody wants to buy and Ned Soltz has a really good discussion on how that’s going to impact camera manufacturers. So I think we’re going to see technological change continue, but not at the same pace as the last year. I think it’s going to slow down.
Mike Horton: So it’s going to be much more R&D? Are events like NAB and IBC and even CES, which is going to happen next week, there’s a slowdown in all sorts of stuff there?
Larry Jordan: I think the best word to use is refinement. It’s not that the products aren’t going to be there. We’re going to keep upgrading and refining, but we’re not going to keep releasing brand new things. I think we’re going to see a little bit of a slowdown there. We’ll see.
Mike Horton: I hope so.
Larry Jordan: I’m really curious to hear what the rest of our gang has to say and it’s going to be an interesting show.
Mike Horton: So do I and I’m looking forward to it.
Larry Jordan: Well, have yourself a great holiday, enjoy your celebration and I look forward to seeing you here back in your seat next week.
Mike Horton: Absolutely, and happy holidays to you and the best to you and everybody there for 2016.
Larry Jordan: And the same to you.
Mike Horton: We deserve it. We deserve it!
Larry Jordan: Take care, Michael, thank you. I want to remind you to subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Every issue every week gives you an inside look at both The Buzz and the industry, plus quick links to all the different segments on the show. Best of all, every issue is free.
Larry Jordan: I’ll be back with Philip Hodgetts right after Randi Altman’s Perspective on the News.
Larry Jordan: This is Randi Altman’s Perspective.
Larry Jordan: Randi Altman has been writing about our industry for more than 20 years. In fact, she’s the editor in chief of her own website at postperspective.com. And here, the day before the new year starts, it’s the perfect opportunity to say welcome back, Randi, it’s good to see you.
Randi Altman: Thanks for having me back. How was your Christmas, Larry?
Larry Jordan: It was a wonderful Christmas. I got to sleep late. How can you complain about that? Clearly there are no young children in our house. How about yourself?
Randi Altman: It was great, very good.
Larry Jordan: Excellent. Last week, we spent time talking about the trends that we saw in 2015. You mentioned virtual reality as one that you’ve been fascinated with for a long time; but now I want to turn our attention forward to 2016. What are you keeping an eye on now?
Randi Altman: Oh, absolutely more virtual reality trends, expecting more camera rigs, more ways to view it, but what interests me most is how they’re going to present VR content. I want to know is it going to be dramatically presented or is it going to focus more on scientific and maybe therapeutic uses? As long as they stay away from the gags that might get people a little cynical about it being the next stereo, I think that it’s going to continue its march along and be successful.
Larry Jordan: Well, if you think about it, the whole idea of interactive fiction, interactive narrative, has been with us for years and we’ve been struggling to find ways to actually make it take off. Games have probably been the most successful example of this, but an interactive feature film has been something that’s never quite made it. Perhaps VR gives us that opportunity to finally have interactive narrative fiction.
Randi Altman: I’m looking forward to seeing if that can be the case, yes.
Larry Jordan: What other things? We’ve got VR, what else is on your list for the coming year that we should pay attention to?
Randi Altman: Well, I think drones, in particular the GoPro Karma drone, which is coming out in 2016, so I’ll be eager to see that and also how the government is regulating who’s got drones and where they use them and that they don’t take down any airplanes, so it’s very important from a safety issue but also in terms of once we get into the production and using drones, how they’re used in the workflow.
Larry Jordan: That’s true. December 21st the FAA rolled out drone registration, where you need to identify the drone and the operator of the drone so they can track it down in case there’s a problem. I’m really curious to see if that starts to minimize some of the safety violations that we’ve seen with drones. So we’ve got VR, we’ve got drones, anything else?
Randi Altman: I expect to see more editors embracing color and I think that’s going to be easier for them based on tools like Resolve and Adobe Premiere, which allow for coloring within those systems. I don’t think that the high end colorist is going anywhere, there is always a need for them, but I think that some of the editors out there will definitely be taking advantage of some of these tools and doing some color work.
Larry Jordan: Well, if you think about it, even with YouTube videos, they’re all over the map in terms of color and anything that we can do to make even simple movies look better I think is a good thing; and the more people know about color, the more opportunities there are for the high end to take advantage of basic skills and then bring it up to the next level. I think color is absolutely migrating to the mainstream. Any other trends? Do you realize, CES is coming up next week? I can’t wait to go to Las Vegas and see what the latest toys are. Anything that you’re looking to see at CES besides the latest virtual reality glasses?
Randi Altman: I’m looking forward to seeing the next generation of phones that are out there, because when you’ve got people shooting 4K on their handhelds, I’m curious what’s next.
Larry Jordan: And curious of what’s next is what 2016 is all about. Randi, thanks for joining us today. Have yourself a wonderful new year and we’ll see you next week.
Randi Altman: Thank you. Take care, Larry.
Larry Jordan: Randi Altman is the editor in chief of postperspective.com. You can visit her website for some amazing interviews with leaders in the industry; and we’ll be back with Randi’s Perspective on the News next week.
Larry Jordan: To read more from Randi Altman, visit postperspective.com.
Larry Jordan: Philip, last week we spent a lot of time talking about trends that were going on in 2015. Tonight, we’re devoting the show to looking forward to 2016, so put your prognosticating hat on. What are you expecting from the new year?
Philip Hodgetts: I’m expecting that most of my predictions will be wrong.
Larry Jordan: Oh, go out on a limb.
Philip Hodgetts: I think probably this will be the year that Final Cut Pro 10 is finally taken seriously, that there’s enough evidence that even those people who are still going through separation issues from the way it was launched will get over that and realize that it may not suit them but it is a viable professional tool and a lot of people are using it, so it’ll be nice to get over that. There’s been enough controversy over it since it was released and too many people are still letting the way it was released get in the way of what’s a damn good application and every bit as capable as Premiere Pro or Media Composer in the professional editing space.
Larry Jordan: Yes, but if we look back two weeks, remember the flurry that blew up when Beats announced that they were hiring an Avid or Premiere person and all of a sudden the world was ending and the Twittersphere just exploded? And Beats isn’t even a part of Apple in that regard, it’s totally separate from Apple HQ, and everybody was saying, “It’s my NLE and not yours,” and the fingerpointing was just as fast as ever.
Philip Hodgetts: Well, it was definitely a click bait link. As you said, Beats is a completely separate company. It is owned by Apple, but I suspect that maybe they had some visitation from people on the Final Cut Pro team to explain to them just why Final Cut Pro 10 would be a much better choice for them in production and I suspect that every other Apple subsidiary is having a little review of their production features. But it’s very common.
Philip Hodgetts: Apple makes no dictate as to what their commercials have to be edited on. Internally, they obviously use Final Cut for all internal production – they always have since they acquired it, both versions. Outside companies that are contractors or independent of Apple don’t necessarily have to use that but, as I said, I suspect that Beats might be strongly encouraged to move over to the modern platform that Apple supports.
Larry Jordan: Well, I think it points out just a bigger issue – that we still like to define ourselves in terms of the tools that we use as opposed to the jobs that we create and that, I think, is always going to cause a problem as long as we are tool operators rather than storytellers. What do you think?
Philip Hodgetts: Absolutely. I still cringe to this day when somebody describes themselves as an Avid editor, or defined by the tool. Carpenters don’t define themselves by the brand of saw that they use. I’ve never heard of somebody describing themselves as a Ryobi carpenter or anything remotely like that. The engine tuning products that your garage uses, you don’t care about them.
Philip Hodgetts: I don’t know why we are so obsessed with the tools. Partly, I guess, it’s because the tools take a long time to learn to a degree of fluidity and there is a big investment in that, but really I think it’s a projection of insecurity, that I’m not really sure that I made the right decision because I really don’t know the capabilities of every single tool, so I’m going to defend my decision as being the right one because I made it, and there’s a little bit of that goes on. Hopefully we’ll get over that and realize that, look, if you’re using iMovie, it’s going to be perfectly fine. If you’re a storyteller you can tell a story with Windows Moviemaker, iMovie on an iPad, anything, it’s the storytelling skills that matter. How you use the edits to advance the story and effect emotion is really what’s important. It’s whatever’s most comfortable for you.
Philip Hodgetts: I think we’re in a great era where there are no bad choices, there can only be inappropriate choices for you, but every NLE that’s available now is capable of being used in a fully professional environment. Whether it suits you, that’s another question.
Larry Jordan: Ok, so we’ve got Final Cut 10 now sitting on a professional shelf. What else are you expecting for 2016?
Philip Hodgetts: I’m actually really intrigued by the iPad Pro. I’ve heard from a couple of early adopters and they seem to find it a very viable field production tool with a camera built in, straight into iMovie on the iPad Pro, it’s got a big enough screen and enough storage space to make that viable, and immediate uploads. You have an intelligent camera that you can edit on and upload as well, so I think that’s going to be an important trend. A lot of production is going to happen on cell phones and pad devices simply because it can be and they’re always with you. I’m often asked, “What’s the best camera?” and of course the absolute best camera is the one that I have with me when I want to take a picture or a piece of video.
Philip Hodgetts: I do B roll for our cooking shows wherever I see something that’s interesting, so a meat cabinet of aging meat in Gallagher’s Restaurant in New York, New York. I’m not sure when exactly I might want to use that, but I can capture the B roll while I’m there for when I use it in the future. So having small cameras – and I think small cameras, as I mentioned in the wrap-up show, are an important trend – we can put cameras where we never could put cameras before and get footage that we could never have before. People put GoPros all over the place on a production in the hope that they might get just three seconds of really unique footage that they couldn’t have got any other way and these inexpensive very small cameras make it very easy.
Larry Jordan: One of the issues of having more cameras and more camera formats is suddenly storage becomes even more important. What I was noticing in 2015 is that, one, there was a lot of longevity left in spinning media, they keep holding more and more on a hard disk, and SSDs still have not dropped in price, nor have they increased in storage. Are you seeing new storage trends coming in 2016?
Philip Hodgetts: I don’t think we’re seeing much that’s uniquely new. We’re seeing faster storage and more affordable storage. We’re getting tools like SHARESTATION from Lumaforge that are shared storage in a much more affordable package than we’ve been used to with the hundreds of thousands of dollars of package, and that’s an area which I think is still ripe for disruption – shared storage that’s suitable for a very small shop, two or three, four people. Most of the solutions are at the Media Enterprise level and that’s not really appropriate for the small shop.
Philip Hodgetts: I think storage is just consolidating and becoming bigger so we can lose more at once, RAID storage, so that it’s protected, and just slowly processes just trending down. I’m amazed, three terabyte portable drive on Amazon a week or two ago was under $140 and I thought, “No, I don’t really need another portable drive right now but that’s outstanding.”
Larry Jordan: I bought a four terabyte drive two weeks ago and it was $120. Four terabytes. It’s just ridiculous. What’s your take on virtual reality? Is it going to move into storytelling or is it going to stay with games?
Philip Hodgetts: I’m pretty sure that we’re going to move into storytelling with virtual reality. It’s going to take a while because it’s going to be a new medium and people will take a while to understand how you best tell a story within that medium. Unlike 3D, I think the immersiveness of the virtual reality environment will allow more complicated and interesting stories and I think it’ll be a nightmare to produce because you won’t have one fixed storyline that you have to pass through, this is the whole interactive storytelling which has been tried before but never, I think, really conquered. If we can get that conquered now with virtual reality, I think that will become very, very immersive and very powerful. It has a lot of applications in training and education as well.
Larry Jordan: Philip, for people who want to keep track of your thinking and your writing, where can they go on the web?
Philip Hodgetts: The best place is philiphodgetts.com or you can find me on lumberjacksystem.com or intelligentassistance.com.
Larry Jordan: Philip Hodgetts at philiphodgetts.com, it’s been a wonderful year spending time listening to your thinking and I look forward to doing the same thing in 2016. Thank you very much.
Philip Hodgetts: My pleasure.
Larry Jordan: Still to come on The Buzz.
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Larry Jordan: Ned Soltz is an author, an editor, an educator and a consultant on all things related to digital video. He’s also a contributing editor for Digital Video magazine, a moderator on 2Pop and Creative Cow forums and a regular correspondent here on The Buzz. As always, I’m delighted to say Ned, welcome back.
Ned Soltz: Always good to be back, Larry, and Happy New Year to you and to all of our viewers. I postponed my New Year celebration until after we’re finished, just to make certain that I’m absolutely completely coherent, but the Korbel is chilling in the fridge right now, so you’re the beginning of my New Year celebration.
Larry Jordan: I appreciate that very much and I want to duck when you pop the cork. A very Happy New Year to you as well. We’re devoting tonight’s show to looking forward to 2016. You spent a lot of time last week telling us about some new camera technology that caught your eye last year, but what are you expecting from the new year?
Ned Soltz: Well, I’m hoping in the new year to see much more with HDR, with high dynamic range, because already we have the cameras that can shoot the high dynamic range, we certainly have the software that can deal with high dynamic range. I’m looking for that in displays right now. Hopefully we’ll begin to see, if not in the new year actual physical delivery, perhaps proposals in the new year for HDR standards and the beginning of monitors that are going to be able to display HDR in price ranges that are both the astronomical as well as certainly the higher end price range. I think that’s where video and production really needs to go right now and I suspect we’re going to see a lot more of that over the coming year.
Larry Jordan: Do you think HDR is going to take some of the steam out of the engine for 4K and 8K, that once you see HDR the migration to higher resolution is going to lose force?
Ned Soltz: Well, that was the great debate last year at NAB, which was do we want more pixels or better pixels? And I think we’re going to see that debate continue with HDR. We’re seeing it to some degree right now with the OLED TVs. As an example, with the LG OLED TV, you can get both an HD version and a 4K version and the HD version’s about $2,000 and the 4K version’s about $4,000. But if you look at a $2,000 OLED TV in HD up against one of the midrange 4K UHD TVs today, you’re probably going to take the OLED TV, it’s going to look better. So I think while on the one level it’s going to be the 4K kind of mantra, on the other side of it I think what people are going to be more attracted to is actually how the image looks. Now, obviously if we’re going to be able to blend the worlds of HDR and 4K, that’s going to be the best of all possible scenarios.
Larry Jordan: I don’t want to start a debate that’s really over, but are you going to be able to see 4K when you’re sitting at a living room distance from a 55 inch screen?
Ned Soltz: Actually, you are. I’m pretty much amazed at this. Just a few weeks ago, I lamented the loss of our trusty old Panasonic plasma TV. I loved that set, I loved the picture that it delivered and one day it just went poof, so I did replace it with one of the 2015 models of the Samsung. They call it an SU HD, which is their quantum dot technology, whatever that means, but it’s basically a color space somewhere between Rec. 709 and DCIP3 and, believe me, I can see the difference, whether it is an up ressed 4K signal or whether it’s a 4K coming from Netflix or the like. In fact, it is too good, it is too sharp. I found myself dumbing that TV down by turning down a lot of the sharpness and by doing other tweaks in the picture profile. I think you can see it, you can see it too much. There’s a point where the quality is excessive and it’s lost its fantasy now.
Larry Jordan: I’m a big fan of HDR and I’m looking forward to that rolling out into the broad market, but if we put HDR aside, what other trends are you looking to see for the next year?
Ned Soltz: Well, I’m certainly looking to see fewer new cameras and much more development for the existing cameras. I think manufacturers are beginning to recognize that they just cannot keep obsoleting their existing camera line and expecting people to throw away a two or three year old camera and immediately buy a new one, so we’ll probably see much more firmware development. Sony had already said, as an example, for their F55 series they saw really as potentially five year cameras and we’re going to be seeing that right now, even in midrange cameras from Panasonic and JVC and from other vendors, that we’re going to be looking at the very least at three year cameras, so we’ll be seeing incremental firmware developments of these cameras.
Ned Soltz: I am hoping that we’ll see something from Apple which has been completely MIA in terms of professional hardware. I’m going onto 2016 with a 2013 Mac Pro. Apple just worries me right now and also we haven’t seen an update to Final Cut 10 for a while and I am hoping that Apple hasn’t forgotten about Final Cut 10 but continues the excellent stream of development that they’ve had up to this point. So it’s a hope and it’s a concern from Apple.
Ned Soltz: Obviously we’re going to see ongoing increments from Blackmagic with DaVinci Resolve, which I love as a color grader and color corrector and I’m actually even learning how to use it from the perspective of being a colorist. The software itself is remarkably easy to use, being a colorist is another set of skills. But I’ve yet to really be taken by its editing features. I think they’re there, they’re very nice, it’s a little slow, it’s a little cumbersome and I hope they put some development into that editing area of it, which I’m positive they will be.
Ned Soltz: The other thing is I’m looking forward to the great excitement of what I see coming out of small vendors right now, people with small machine shops making new sliders or camera accessories, people with small shops creating new and interesting and intriguing products that may or may not be funded by vendors, as we talked about last week, but I think that is another area of great creativity and I think great potential of people who are extraordinarily talented in terms of computer programming and people extraordinarily talented in terms of electronics and metallurgy and industrial design, so I think we’ll see a lot more of that.
Larry Jordan: Well, Randi Altman mentioned in her segment that she’s very interested in virtual reality. What’s your sense on that?
Ned Soltz: I love it, I’m interested, I think it’s really got a great way to go. We’re seeing GoPro, for example, with its VR development. There’s even this cute little Kodak 360 camera and I think VR is amazing. I, like all other New York Times subscribers, got my little VR glasses and you log on to the app and there it is in VR, so I think that’s another exciting technology which is also going to be very accessible to the consumer and even accessible to the developer on multiple levels because you can evolve a cheap VR acquisition system, you can go all the way end to a high end VR acquisition system, and in this interactive age I think it’s got a lot of potential. I would agree with her.
Larry Jordan: What other trends are you keeping your eye on as we wrap up our conversation?
Ned Soltz: Oh, I think I’m keeping my eyes open for greater sophistication in particularly long GOP codecs. Each year they seem to be getting stronger and stronger to the point that many times you can’t tell the difference between an iFrame and a long GOP codec, so I think we’ll continue to see development in that area and direction and also in terms of camera sensitivities, of the increasing development of the CMOS chips to eliminate much of the rolling shutter and Jell-o vision, global shutters or at least compensation for that in the hardware design of these sensors, so I think that’s another direction that we’re going; and then lighting is a whole other area as we move into other forms of LED lighting with no green spikes, with much higher CRIs, so that’s another untouched area right now and that’s the excitement, really, of lighting. If you can say lights are exciting, now they are.
Larry Jordan: Ned, just listening to you gets me excited about new technology. For people who want to know more about what you’re writing, where can they go on the web?
Ned Soltz: They can always go to www.creativeplanetnetworks.com, where you’ll find a plethora of articles from me and from many of my other colleagues writing for the New Bay Media family of publications.
Larry Jordan: That’s creativeplanetnetworks.com and Ned Soltz himself is a contributing editor. Ned, thanks for joining us today.
Ned Soltz: Thank you, Larry, and Happy New Year to everyone.
Larry Jordan: And a Happy New Year to you. Take care.
Larry Jordan: In his current role as Director of Technology at Keycode Media, Michael Kammes consults on the latest in technology and best practices in the digital media communications space. Also in his spare time, he creates a new series of web videos called Five Things and basically lives and breathes tech. Hello, Michael, welcome back.
Michael Kammes: Hello, Larry. Good to see you again.
Larry Jordan: A very Happy New Year. New Year’s Eve today, New Year’s tomorrow, I hope you had a good Christmas and a good holiday tomorrow.
Michael Kammes: Thank you very much, I appreciate it, and to you and your team as well. Thank you.
Larry Jordan: Thank you. We’re devoting tonight’s show to look forward at 2016, so let me just give you a general question – what are you expecting from the new year?
Michael Kammes: I’m expecting people wanting more storage, because they don’t want to delete anything.
Larry Jordan: I think just more storage in general. I have yet to find somebody who says, “Please give me a smaller hard disk.”
Michael Kammes: We’ve got a couple of things which are very interesting. I’m sure you’ve been reading the blogs that the new helio drives were released a couple of months ago and those are ten terabytes, but we’re still not finding the cost of the per terabyte dropping drastically. We’re still looking at sub-30 or 40 cents for consumer oriented drives, we’re still seeing 80 or 90 cents to a dollar per gig for more robust enterprise solutions, so a lot of folks are looking into what else is there besides disk.
Larry Jordan: You mentioned a helio drive. I haven’t heard of this. Tell me about that.
Michael Kammes: They’re drives that internally have helium inside, which helps with the amount of air pressure that’s actually on the platters inside the drive. It also, with newer technology, allows you to cram more data on the drive, so coming out in ten terabyte capacities allows you to keep more data and delete less.
Larry Jordan: Do you realize that you said ten terabytes with a straight face? Think about this. Ten terabytes is just a phenomenal amount of room to squeeze onto spinning media. I’m just blown away, and we accept it. It’s just amazing.
Michael Kammes: It boggles the mind, but when we look at 4K and image sequences and these larger files that are being generated from set, we need a place to keep that and that’s why we’re looking at not only larger spinning discs but also other solutions. LTO is obviously getting larger, LTO 7 now, but also there is a new acronym and that’s ODA – optical disk archive. Maybe like you, Larry, when I was younger, I had a CD changer in my car and you could put multiple discs in there. Well, that’s kind of what ODA is. It’s a cartridge that has multiple Blu-Rays in it that stores data and, since it’s random access, being a disc like a CD ROM or a DVD, it allows you to randomly access this data even quicker and it’s cheaper per terabyte than spinning disc.
Larry Jordan: But the ODAs are using a technology which, if I remember correctly, is mpeg2 and it’s a Sony video format. Are we storing data in its native format or are we compressing data into this older video format?
Michael Kammes: It’s a lot like the LTFS technology that we’re using for LTO tapes. It’s using it as a storage medium, so we’re copying the file as it stands, as it is, as opposed to compressing video into a mpeg2 or with Blu-Ray H.264 format, so it’s just another storage medium.
Larry Jordan: Ok, so clearly we need more storage and, with ten terabyte drives – and I can’t believe I’m actually saying that phrase – coming along and ODA, which I had a chance to look at at a Keycode seminar about three months ago and it looked very impressive, the one thing you didn’t mention was SSDs. SSDs are still very expensive, they’re still very small. Is there any breakthrough technology that we can expect in 2016 that could open up that high performance format?
Michael Kammes: At this point, it’s just cheaper prices and, although it’s great to get larger sizes, it still isn’t handling the amount of storage we need for unscripted shows or long form documentaries, so we’re seeing it used primarily for a user’s OS or for a cache, maybe on a per project basis, moving just that media to the spinning disc, working with it and then pushing it off to spinning disc or LTO tape on a chunked basis.
Larry Jordan: One of the things you mentioned last week when we were looking back at 2015 was the fact that prices are continuing their race to the floor and so it sounds like SSDs, rather than increasing the technology or performance, are just lowering the prices. We’ve seen that storage is one of the big things you’re looking for 2016. What else are you looking at?
Michael Kammes: Well, I think we’re seeing workflows that involve more color manipulation from on set. For years, we were doing Rec.709 for HD and that was the chosen color space. That’s the weapon we were handed. Now we’re getting more cameras that can shoot in various color spaces – LOGC is pretty common – so being able to incorporate that or even Aces on the higher level, we’re now dealing with these color spaces that have to have manipulation in post which adds one more layer of complexity when dealing with footage in post.
Larry Jordan: You know, Michael, I just realized we haven’t even talked about cameras. What do you expect to have happen in cameras next year?
Michael Kammes: I can let you in on some insider info. There will be a new camera in the next few months and there will be another new camera a few months after that.
Larry Jordan: Oh man, you go out on a limb, and now you’re going to tell me there’s going to be new camera codecs to go with them.
Michael Kammes: Oh yes, H.269 I think is the next one. What we’re seeing, though, is something that’s been coming down the pipe for a couple of years, and that’s obviously HDR and various color spaces being used on location for acquisition, which in turn requires workflows downwind of that in post. But these cameras require extreme care on set to have a DP that understands what you’re shooting in, as well as when you’re viewing that on set. We’re also seeing an increase in PTZ cameras, and for those out there who aren’t familiar with PTZ, it’s yet another acronym and stands for pan tilt zoom. These are cameras that are motorized, usually controlled by a joystick, and can either be IP based over the network or via a joystick. I’m not going to say it replaces a cameraperson, it doesn’t do that by any stretch, but for a wide shot you may not need to staff that. For houses of worship or other places where you don’t need a lot of camera movement, we’re seeing PTZ cameras really take a very solid place there.
Larry Jordan: Now, where does HDR fit into this? Because I’m really excited about the potential that HDR has for just massively improving image quality.
Michael Kammes: It does, and there’s obviously been a lot of discussion about should we go 4K or should we go HDR? Maybe HDR/HD is better than 4K, which I tend to lean a little bit towards. Then again, bigger’s better, so I like 4K too. But HDR, where it kind of becomes a little bit cumbersome is the workflow in post. A lot of the NLEs out there are not supporting HDR workflows and all the information out there on the web seems to change with every software revision. So there isn’t a dyed in the wool workflow for HDR through all the NLEs that can be tracked all the way through online and finishing.
Larry Jordan: Well, part of the problem we’ve got is that we don’t have a solid spec for HDR. There’s still a war going on in terms of whether it’s Rec. 2020 or whether it’s going to be Dolby Vision or something else. But one of the things I’m most encouraged by is the fact that people are actually now starting to see HDR become real, with Adobe Premiere releasing HDR support and we’re going to see monitors that support HDR at CES. So for me, I think HDR is a trend that we need to keep our eyes on for next year. Would you agree?
Michael Kammes: I would certainly agree. The one thing that has always concerned me is – and I don’t want to get up on a soap box here – but creatives like to create and I think the more we throw technology options at them, sometimes they drown in that. There are many times that you may not have to shoot on set in LOGC, you can use Rec. 709. There may be an opportunity to use HDR and there may be a time when you don’t need it for that particular shoot, and so I really don’t want people to drown in that technology and be overwhelmed by the amount of technological options out there.
Larry Jordan: Ah, but then we’d have nothing to talk about, which is what all of next year is going to be. Michael, for people who want to keep track of what you’re writing and thinking, where can they go on the web?
Michael Kammes: Michaelkammes.com on the internet as well as Twitter or, as you mentioned, my web series, fivethingsseries.com.
Larry Jordan: So that’s michaelkammes.com and the Michael himself has been joining us. Michael, thanks for joining us today. I always enjoy our visits.
Michael Kammes: Thanks Larry, I appreciate it.
Larry Jordan: Still to come on The Buzz.
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Larry Jordan: Larry O’Connor founded Other World Computing, which is also called OWC, in 1988. Their website, which you may know better than their company name, is macsales.com. OWC is both a reseller and a developer and they support all things Mac and have been doing that for more than 25 years. Hello, Larry, welcome back.
Larry O’Connor: Hey. Thanks for having me back, Larry.
Larry Jordan: And a very Happy New Year to you.
Larry O’Connor: Sure, and to you and yours. I’m looking forward to 2016 rolling in quick here.
Larry Jordan: Yes, well, we’ve just got a few hours, at least on the West Coast. It’s already happening elsewhere in the country. I was just thinking, last week we spent our entire time talking about trends that we saw in 2015 that caught our attention. I want to flip that this week and look forward to 2016. What are you expecting from the new year?
Larry O’Connor: We’ve kind of taken that first painful step to where a lot of systems don’t have those PCAE slots, they don’t have a lot of ports, external, but we have Thunderbolt and, while Thunderbolt’s been great, it’s a little bit low on the bandwidth side versus what we’ve had in the past. In 2016, a little bit further into the year is going to usher in Thunderbolt 3, which I really think starts to fully capitalize on the promise of Thunderbolt.
Larry Jordan: What’s the difference between Thunderbolt 2 and Thunderbolt 3?
Larry O’Connor: The original Thunderbolt was 10 gigabits, so probably about 1.2 gigabytes a second throughput, but you have to take off overhead for display port. Thunderbolt 2, there’s 20 gigabits and if we take the display port overhead off for that, about 1.4 gigabytes of data throughput. Now we have Thunderbolt 3, which doubles that again to 40 gigabits and now you have a percentage of that being eaten by your display channel. Now you’re talking about well over 30 gigabits of actual data throughput available and, while that’s not what a PCI slot gave, you now have a substantially increased, more than a doubling of real available bandwidth. It’s much faster.
Larry Jordan: Now, my understanding about Thunderbolt 3 is that it’s finally fast enough to support 4K, even 5K displays, which Thunderbolt 2 was not able to support. Is that a true statement?
Larry O’Connor: Thunderbolt 2’s display port supports 4K and 5K displays but it eats up a big chunk of the bandwidth, that reduces your availability, even if you don’t have a display attached, for other devices and data storage. In terms of Thunderbolt 3, you now have the throughput… available through a single channel for doing external editing and real time work with 4K and even beyond.
Larry Jordan: Ok, so we’ve got Thunderbolt 3 to look forward to. What else are you looking forward to?
Larry O’Connor: Thunderbolt 3 kind of plays in all things. Right now, when you look to adding capability to your system and certainly supporting the kinds of editing, the kinds of production work that people are already doing, Thunderbolt 3 now makes it really possible to have more of your cake and eat it too. There are a lot of Mac Pro 2010 and 2012s still in service because they’ve got those slots and they need them for the bandwidth that they offer.
Larry O’Connor: More and more of those kinds of solution needs you’ll be able to support through Thunderbolt 3, so the biggest trend is going to be further customization, being able to buy a core box that comes with very little other than this external expandability via Thunderbolt and turn it into what you need to be. Solid state, of course, will continue to get faster and larger. You’ll see good internal storage for the actual processing work, exceptional external arrays and then big spinners. Spinning platter drives will still be a big part of the equation for the store and handle those data flows on the outside.
Larry Jordan: So you’re saying one of the big benefits of Thunderbolt 3 is that it’s going to unlock a whole lot more storage at the same or a lower price. Am I hearing that correctly?
Larry O’Connor: Yes, that would be the true statement. Thunderbolt 2 on its own is plenty fast for the majority, but when you need to add a PCI card for doing external processing or you need more GPU capability, Thunderbolt 2 is kind of a limiting factor, it just doesn’t have the bandwidth. Thunderbolt 3, on the other hand, starts to enable that and make that really practical.
Larry Jordan: In other words, we could start to offload processes like GPUs off to an expansion chassis, rather than have to deal with a GPU that’s inside the computer?
Larry O’Connor: You got it. The silver towers still have a lot of place in today because we need GPU’s capability. The current systems just don’t have that expansion support, you can’t throw a bunch of GPUs into a Mac Pro 2013 and doing it over Thunderbolt, you’re getting a quarter the bandwidth of a PCIE slot. Thunderbolt 3 opens up to where now you put that external GPU in a channel, there is enough bandwidth for that GPU typically to be fully utilized.
Larry Jordan: That could even allow us to have multiple GPUs running at the same time, which could be huge in terms of media and rendering.
Larry O’Connor: Absolutely.
Larry Jordan: That’s very cool. What other things are you keeping your eyes on? Or is everything revolving around storage?
Larry O’Connor: No, not everything revolves around storage, but a trend that I guess I would say I’m hoping for is – being an Apple guy – to see more stability in our OS and a focus on improving the code base and its performance as opposed to deciding this is a year where things need to be broken and remade.
Larry Jordan: Yes, there’s always a lot of debate about whether it’s nice to have a new operating system, but the problem is when it changes every year, you’re never really sure when to upgrade because you’re never sure when the operating system is stable enough to upgrade. Maybe taking a little bit longer between OS updates would be a good thing.
Larry O’Connor: Well, I’m not saying I agree with this 100 percent, although I also don’t disagree with it. I still talk to a lot of people who say 10.6.8 was Apple’s best OS to date and since then it seems to be a lot of functionality being added but the question becomes is it functionality that everybody needs? It’s going to a lot of different places and I’d love to see things really become fully optimized and bug free and the Apple OS that we know and love.
Larry Jordan: Well, as long as operating systems are as complex as they are, I think bug free is a forlorn hope, but as few bugs as possible is more realistic.
Larry O’Connor: I’d say what we have works really well, before we break it and decide it’s time for a bunch of new features and new ways of doing things.
Larry Jordan: Larry, I want to thank you so much for joining us both last week and this week with your thoughts on what to expect in 2016. Where can people go on the web to learn more about you and your company?
Larry O’Connor: They can visit owcdigital.com and they can certainly visit macsales.com to learn a whole lot.
Larry Jordan: And Larry O’Connor is the founder of OWC. Larry, thanks for joining us today.
Larry O’Connor: I’m glad to be here, and Happy New Year, Larry, and thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: And a Happy New Year to you as well.
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, best of all, he’s a regular here on The Buzz. Hello, Jonathan, welcome back.
Jonathan Handel: Larry, how are you?
Larry Jordan: I am doing great. It’s New Year’s Eve. How can you not be excited on New Year’s Eve? Happy New Year’s Eve to you.
Jonathan Handel: That’s pretty much right, happy New Year’s Eve.
Larry Jordan: Last week, we were talking about the key trends in 2015 and this week I want to look forward to 2016. What trends are you watching?
Jonathan Handel: One that I’m certainly watching – and this will be towards the end of the year – is the labor negotiating cycle, so the above the line contracts that the Directors, Writers and Screen Actors Guild, SAG-AFTRA, are all up in 2017 and that means that the negotiations start presumably, probably, first with the DGA in the fall of 2016. So we’re going to be looking at a process of negotiation that’s going to run basically from – when you count the run-up to that and the studying and so forth – probably from September/October of 2016 through the spring of 2017.
Larry Jordan: We’ve talked a lot over the years about the guild negotiations in Hollywood, but film is now a worldwide industry. What do the guilds do? Are they following leads from other countries? Do other countries follow the contracts negotiated here? Or is this really just an isolated labor incident to Hollywood?
Jonathan Handel: It’s interesting you should ask that. There are international associations of writers’ guilds, directors’ guilds. There’s an International Federation of Actors, which is actually not an international federation of actors at all, it’s an international federation of actors’ unions, so there are indeed international associations for each of these. In the past when they’ve tried to coordinate closely, that hasn’t always worked out well. We saw a number of years ago the attempt to unionize local actors on The Hobbit in New Zealand. The international actors were SAG but the local hires they tried to unionize through a local union and through coordination through that International Federation of Actors – FIA it’s called in the French acronym – and that didn’t work out very well, it really blew up in the union’s faces.
Jonathan Handel: So they coordinate to some extent, they certainly are always meeting and talking, and I think there’s awareness of there being numbers from different countries and of differences in the way residuals work, for example, things like that, but in terms of a tight coordination or workers of the world unite, we don’t really see that.
Larry Jordan: Another thought is actors are the largest union in Hollywood. There are 100,000 plus members just in SAG alone, if I remember correctly.
Jonathan Handel: It’s about 160,000 actually, yes.
Larry Jordan: That’s a fair number and the reason this came to mind is a couple of weeks ago the LA Times ran an article about unscrupulous agents who were taking advantage of actors, charging them fees for not delivering work and so on. Do you see any movement toward greater protection of actors against unscrupulous businesses that prey on the fact that actors just can’t find work?
Jonathan Handel: It’s a hard problem. One of the deputy city attorneys in the LA City Attorney’s Office has been very dedicated to dealing with that and has been one of the drivers of legislation that’s passed and enforcement actions and so on, but they’re always, I think, chipping away at a large iceberg because there is such an oversupply of actors, with all due respect to those who are actors. There just are a lot of people who want to act, there are a lot of people who are in town, a lot of people who pass through town and so are not necessarily as well informed as they should be about what’s legit and what isn’t, what can an agent charge you for – which basically an agent shouldn’t be charging you for anything, should be charging you ten percent and that’s the end of it.
Jonathan Handel: The problem of managers can be even more difficult because managers are not regulated in any way by the state or by the unions and so you see even more abuses, frankly, in management contracts than you tend to in agency contracts. It is difficult and only a small number of those rise to the level where you’re actually going to have a criminal enforcement action on the part of the City Attorney, and I’m afraid a lot of people do end up getting burned rather than being protected, unfortunately.
Larry Jordan: Do you see this staying as the role of the City Attorney or do you see any interest in the state in setting overall legislation that would govern agents and managers?
Jonathan Handel: Well, there is legislation that governs agents and that legislation is enforced by the state and there is some enforcement as well by the City Attorney. There isn’t legislation that governs managers per se, but if managers overstep their bounds and start acting as unlicensed agents, they can be brought before the State Labor Commission the same way agents can be. I think it’s hard to see that as getting a lot more attention, for the same reason that we saw an enormous amount of difficulty in getting increased tax incentives for movies passed, which finally did pass in California, and that’s the fact that the state is essentially its own country and Northern California has very separate interests to Southern California.
Jonathan Handel: This is largely, not exclusively of course, but is largely a Los Angeles problem and when you have so much of the state centered on the San Francisco Bay area, if you look at the Lieutenant Governor, the Governor, the Attorney General, most of the state wide officers come from the Bay area and, of course, a lot of the legislators come from the Bay area and from San Diego, they’re not all from LA by any means, obviously, or from other parts of the state that are less urbanized. So it’s difficult to get things like this on the agenda and actually effect additional changes if changes are needed.
Larry Jordan: You’ve mentioned so far that we’ve got the contract negotiations coming up and the contract negotiations are followed far outside of Hollywood. We’ve talked about the issue of rogue managers and agents. Are there any other trends you’re looking at that we should keep our eyes open for, for the next year?
Jonathan Handel: Yes, and this really relates actually to the contract negotiations, and that is that in mid-2017, SAG-AFTRA will start its next election cycle and, as we alluded to last week and as we talked about on the show, the leadership of SAG-AFTRA is somewhat fragmented right now because of frustration on the part of members over certainly aspects of the merger process, particularly the health plans not being merged.
Jonathan Handel: So that’s going to make contract negotiations particularly sensitive for SAG-AFTRA, I think, and that in turn may affect what the DGA decides to ask for later in 2016 in order to come up with a deal that’s going to work for SAG-AFTRA as well. So it’s an interlocking set of jigsaw parts – the SAG-AFTRA politics, which affect the SAG-AFTRA contract negotiations, which in turn effect the DGA contract negotiations.
Larry Jordan: Well, the only solution is we’re just going to have to hang around this next year and see how it turns out. Jonathan, for people who want more information about what you’re thinking and writing, where can they go?
Jonathan Handel: Two places – thrlabor.com and jhandel.com.
Larry Jordan: And Jonathan Handel himself is the person we’ve been talking to of Counsel at TroyGould and the entertainment labor reporter for The Hollywood Reporter. Jonathan, thanks for joining us today and have yourself a great New Year.
Jonathan Handel: Thanks. You too, Larry. Be safe.
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Larry Jordan: It’s time for a Buzz Flashback. Five years ago today…
Philip Hodgetts (archive): I would love to predict that this is the year that people are going to take workflow seriously, because we will see the first of the RED Epic cameras out, we’re seeing a lot of 3D production happening – whether you and I think that’s a good thing or not, it’s inevitable that there is going to be a lot of 3D happening – and with all of that, people do need to talk about their workflow and think it through very carefully before they start.
Larry Jordan: This was a Buzz Flashback.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests for this week and especially for all their contributions to The Buzz – Randi Altman, Philip Hodgetts, Michael Kammes, Larry O’Connor, Ned Soltz and Jonathan Handel and, as always, Mike Horton.
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 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 Megan Paulos and includes Ed Golya, Hannah Dean, Keegan Guy, Lindsay Luehbert, James Miller and Brianna Murphy. As we wrap up one year and move into the next, all of us at The Buzz wish you a very happy, very healthy and very profitable New Year. On behalf Mike Horton, my name is Larry Jordan and thanks for joining us for The Digital Production Buzz.
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