Digital Production Buzz
December 3, 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: Andy Howard
Patrick Southern, Assistant Editor
Christina Horgan, Post Sound Editor, Fire Lotus Productions & Dog House Post Audio
Charles Dautremont, CEO/CTO, Cinedeck
Larry Jordan: Tonight on The Buzz, Patrick Southern is an editor who’s spent the last year cutting documentaries for A&E, National Geographic and the Lifetime Movie Network. Tonight, he joins us live in the studio to tell us what it takes to be a successful editor.
Larry Jordan: Next, Christina Horgan began as a graphics designer, then she became an award winning sound editor. She’s worked on feature films, television and the web. She’s a member of the Motion Picture Sound Editors Guild and tonight she explains what we need to know to capture great sound during production.
Larry Jordan: Next, Cinedeck has a very cool solution to the problem of replacing only a portion of an existing video, called an Insert Edit. Charles Dautremont, the CEO of Cinedeck, explains how it works.
Larry Jordan: All this plus Tech Talk, a Buzz Flashback and Randi Altman’s Perspective on the News. 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.
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. 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. Good to have you with us. Mike?
Mike Horton: Hmm?
Larry Jordan: Do you know what the big news was this week, the really, really big news, the news that everybody and their cousin knows about?
Mike Horton: Hmm. Michael Horton’s back after two weeks?
Larry Jordan: Well, that’s true. It’s good to have you back, by the way. We’ve missed you in that chair.
Mike Horton: Thank you. Usually you say that.
Larry Jordan: Well, this news is so big it even preempts that.
Mike Horton: I didn’t want anybody to miss it. Hi, everybody, I’m back. Thank you. It’s great to be back.
Larry Jordan: With you gone, I didn’t realize it was…
Mike Horton: Adobe did something, right?
Larry Jordan: We can’t take you anywhere, can we?
Mike Horton: They released something.
Larry Jordan: They did, they released updates to Premiere and Audition.
Mike Horton: I haven’t checked my updates, I haven’t done anything. Are they big updates or just little bug fixes?
Larry Jordan: These are big updates. These are the ones they announced at IBC.
Mike Horton: Oh, and I saw those at the Supermeet.
Larry Jordan: There are two really cool features. One is a remix feature inside Audition, which allows us to make music of any length that we want so we can retime a show and have it be slightly longer without having any change in audio quality.
Mike Horton: Mmm, we can talk to Christina Horgan about that, right?
Larry Jordan: We should, and she’s coming up a little bit later. But the big one is that Premiere now supports 4K and 8K editing and HDR video, and between the two of them I think HDR is going to have a bigger impact.
Mike Horton: Have you been doing anything with HDR? I know you talk about it a lot.
Larry Jordan: No, because there’s nothing I have that allows me to shoot it or edit it. But now we can.
Mike Horton: I know you talk about it a lot. Do you even do anything?
Larry Jordan: It’s like we see the Promised Land and we can’t get there. We’re like Moses, we’re prevented, we just can’t get across. Well, now we can. Premiere makes HDR editing possible, which is really cool. I know you’ve played with these. What do you think?
Mike Horton: I don’t play with these. Hey, listen, I’ve had a tough two weeks. I didn’t even know the damn updates were out until you told me.
Larry Jordan: I will send you a memo next time.
Mike Horton: No, but I did see them at IBC, that’s the thing, so now that they’re out I want to play with them, so thank you. I will play with them.
Larry Jordan: I want a report on my desk next week.
Mike Horton: It’s one of the perks of doing this job, folks, is I find out what’s going on when I come in to the office.
Larry Jordan: And the way that he finds out is he’s a subscriber to the Digital Production Buzz newsletter. Every issue every Friday gives people like Mike an inside look at both The Buzz and the industry. Mike and I, by the way, are going to be right back with Patrick Southern after we hear from 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 I always like every week getting her take on what’s happening inside the industry. Hello, Randi, welcome.
Randi Altman: Hi Larry, thanks for having me back.
Larry Jordan: So what’s the big news this week?
Randi Altman: Well, I think the big news is that Adobe has finally released all of the enhancements and upgrades they’ve made to their Creative Suite, the stuff that they were showing in Amsterdam at IBC and stuff that they were showing at their own Adobe Max, so it’s out there for the taking now.
Larry Jordan: Well, I know you’re going to be talking to a lot of people to find out what’s going on, but from your perspective what’s your sense of where Adobe is headed?
Randi Altman: I think they’re headed to the high end and I think this new release and these new products make that pretty clear. At Adobe Max, their own conference, they were showing native 8K editing, thanks to Dell workstations and Nvidia cards. They are really taking advantage of the GPU and also they’ve made additions to their editing product and After Effects as well, so I think they want the high end and that’s pretty clear.
Larry Jordan: Well, Adobe made the big news this week, but what else is happening in the industry that’s caught your attention?
Randi Altman: This week, Assimilate announced a new version of their Scratch. It’s 8.4. While Simulate is still being used in color suites, what they’re also doing is bringing the product on set and that’s pretty important to what they’re offering with this new release and going forward. So DITs are going to be using it in various ways on set and also they have Scratch Web, so real time via the cloud. I think that they’re one of those companies that realizes you can’t just be one thing and they’re adding to their ecosystem, so that’s big news.
Larry Jordan: I was just thinking that Assimilate’s not the only company that’s moved their tools to be on set as opposed to in post. What’s driving this trend to putting more post tools on set?
Randi Altman: I think it’s about efficiency. I think that it’s also about tighter deadlines and less budgets, so I think there has to be a very clear and efficient path from set to post and that’s what’s been happening. It started a few years ago, but the march continues.
Larry Jordan: Randi, I look forward to talking with you again next week. What website can people visit who want to learn more about you and the stuff you’re writing about?
Randi Altman: Postperspective.com.
Larry Jordan: And Randi Altman is the editor in chief of postperspective.com. Randi, as always, thanks for joining us today.
Randi Altman: Thank you, Larry.
Larry Jordan: To read more from Randi Altman, visit postperspective.com.
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 lets 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: Patrick Southern is a freelance assistant editor who has recently worked on documentaries for A&E, National Geographic and the Lifetime Movie Network. Hello, Patrick, welcome.
Patrick Southern: Hey, Larry, thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: I have done my homework. You were born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Patrick Southern: That’s true, yes.
Larry Jordan: This is not a media centric environment. What got you interested in editing from there?
Patrick Southern: Interestingly enough, my father was a photographer and originally I wanted to be a cinematographer. I wanted to put images in motion, and I went to college at Oral Roberts University and got a degree in multimedia and moved out to Los Angeles to become a cinematographer and quickly found out that there are many people who are better at that than I.
Mike Horton: Did you come out to Los Angeles with no connections at all?
Patrick Southern: No connections. Well, I say that, I had one connection. I had worked at an Apple store in Oklahoma and I worked in the one to one program, which is a training program, and I taught Final Cut and Logic and a few other applications and one of my students happened to have a son in law who had a brother.
Mike Horton: So there is a connection.
Patrick Southern: There’s my connection.
Mike Horton: Who had a cousin.
Patrick Southern: Right, absolutely. So I met him and he was my only connection, but I didn’t have any work when I first came out here so my wife and I actually started working as not even extras. We were audience members, paid audience members for various studios in town.
Mike Horton: Seriously, there’s a job like that?
Patrick Southern: There is.
Mike Horton: I didn’t even know that.
Patrick Southern: Yes, $8 an hour and when there are two of you and you get free food, it’s a pretty great gig.
Larry Jordan: Yes, it takes care of lunch for that day.
Patrick Southern: It absolutely does, yes.
Larry Jordan: Well, you were teaching one on one at the Apple store in Tulsa. Is that where you got your training on the editing tools you used, or did you have mentors or take classes? What did you do?
Patrick Southern: It was kind of a mix. In college, we learned Avid and then I worked at the University’s media department for a while and learned Final Cut 7 there and then became certified in 7 at the Apple store. Then shortly thereafter they released X and everybody hated it, including myself at the time, but I still had to teach it so I got certified in X and noted very quickly that when it came to teaching Final Cut 7, it took a lot longer to get a concept across than when teaching Final Cut X.
Patrick Southern: In fact, there was an 80 year old woman who came in and she’d been learning iMovie and everybody accuses Final Cut of looking like iMovie Pro, which is a valid argument I suppose, but she went from learning iMovie to being able to ingest, organize, edit, do some color grading, effects and titling and sharing a movie all within an hour. I thought that was very interesting. So I moved out here with that training, not knowing cinematography, learned I was not so great at cinematography and then started pursuing editing from there.
Larry Jordan: What kind of projects are you working on currently? You’ve been here, what, a year? And you’re working for A&E and you’re working for Lifetime Movie Network and you’re working for National Geographic? Editors who have been here for ten years would kill for gigs like that.
Patrick Southern: That they would. I’ve been here for three years, but just the last year has been in television. Again, started out doing audience work and then the one contact that I had here in LA ended up getting me a job at a creative firm in Burbank and I worked there for about a year and a half, went through some training at a place called the Power Edit Academy and…
Mike Horton: The what?
Patrick Southern: The Power Edit Academy.
Mike Horton: Let me Google that for a second. Is it legit?
Patrick Southern: It is legit, yes.
Mike Horton: All right.
Patrick Southern: There’s a gentleman named Jeff Bartsch who works in reality television.
Mike Horton: Oh, I know Jeff.
Patrick Southern: You know Jeff?
Mike Horton: Yes, Jeff’s great.
Patrick Southern: He’s a great guy. I read his book, Edit Better, while I was working at the creative firm and thought, “Man, this is some great content.”
Mike Horton: Oh, this place. Ok, all right, ok.
Larry Jordan: Is that ok? Can he go to school there?
Mike Horton: It’s legit.
Larry Jordan: Ok, good. We’re continuing.
Patrick Southern: So I met up with Jeff to talk about his book and he said, “I’ve got this thing called the Power Edit Academy,” so I took his class and at the end of his class we’d gone through a number of things in terms of non-scripted editing and he did this great presentation trying to encourage us and so without having any jobs lined up, yet again I left my solid job at the creative firm and about three or four weeks later the one contact I had – his name’s Sam Sullivant – he happened to work on a movie called Focus and…
Larry Jordan: Not the Will Smith film?
Patrick Southern: Oh, the Will Smith film, yes. He worked on the Will Smith film with Mike Matzdorff and so I got to know Mike Matzdorff through Sam Sullivant, who is the brother of the son in law of the lady that I taught at the Apple store in Tulsa and through Mike I was able to get this job on ‘OJ Speaks and The Secret Tapes of the OJ Case with Chuck Braverman.’
Mike Horton: Yes, all of a sudden you became something of an evangelist for Final Cut X, at least in social media. On Facebook posts, on Twitter posts, it’s all Patrick Southern talking about the positive things about Final Cut Pro X.
Larry Jordan: Well, share some of those. What makes you excited about Final Cut X? I’m a little biased, I think Final Cut X is kind of cool, but you’re working in the trenches and I’m teaching it, so what do you like about it?
Patrick Southern: There are a number of things. Probably the first thing that got me working in Final Cut X was the ease of use with the magnetic timeline. A lot of people buck and fight against it, but I feel like there’s a lot in the magnetic timeline that is extremely useful. Switching shots around is super easy.
Patrick Southern: I remember in Final Cut 7, you had the F keys, F11, F12 and F9, I think, were your insert and overwrite and replace, I don’t even remember at this point, and I always had trouble because I always wanted to change the brightness on my computer and having to hold function got a little bit weary, so having Q, W, E and D now to do my primary edit functions into the timeline, I loved.
Patrick Southern: And now, having worked a year in non-scripted, one of the things that I’ve come to love is Lumberjack and a very little known feature of Lumberjack, the Transcript Mode, so the ability to take your transcript and then tie it to your footage in Final Cut and search within the browser and the timeline index has been amazing. I’m a very, very big fan of that tool.
Mike Horton: I’m sure Philip and Greg are watching right now. It’ll make them feel good.
Larry Jordan: I was just thinking, you came to LA, you knew exactly one person, you took a course, you met another person and clearly the way that people get jobs anywhere, not just in LA, is the people that know them and know of them. But there’s also marketing involved. How do you go about marketing yourself? How do you tell the world that you’re here and what’s worked and what hasn’t?
Patrick Southern: That’s a great question. A lot of it does start out as word of mouth, but oddly enough I met Mike Matzdorff originally through Twitter, so of all things he was on Twitter talking about Final Cut and he said, “Yes, I just worked on this movie for Warner Bros,” and I said, “Oh, I had a friend who worked on a movie at Warner Bros in Final Cut as well,” and I told him that it was my friend Sam and he said, “Oh, Sam Messman?” and I said, “No, not Sam Messman.”
Patrick Southern: Oddly enough, I found that Twitter and Facebook have been the two tools that I have got the most work through in the last year, which is very different, so as odd as it may seem, hashtagging things #FCPX, and then searching through that thread and looking for other people who are interested can help you tie into a network of people who assist or edit in Final Cut, and there have been situations where somebody that I’ve met through Twitter or Facebook hasn’t been able to do a job and has said, “Hey, would you like to potentially do this job?” and I usually say, “Yes, absolutely.”
Larry Jordan: You principally do assistant editor work as opposed to editing and there’s a big difference between what editors do and what assistant editors do. How would you describe the role of the assistant editor and when you’re assigned to a gig for the first time, what do you do? What’s your workflow?
Patrick Southern: That’s a great question. In terms of the difference between an editor and an assistant, I feel it’s a very catch-22 situation becoming an assistant because you’re both expected to be the person who knows the most about the application and also it’s your one way into post production, so you have to know all of the ins and outs of the software – or at least seemingly so – and then when it comes to editing you have to know story inside and out.
Patrick Southern: So assistant editing is very, very technical in terms of you need to know how to make a multicam clip, you need to know how to troubleshoot the software if something breaks, you need to know how to be able to organize the footage and get it to a place where the editor doesn’t have to think about all the technical stuff so that when it comes to working with the footage, they’re simply thinking of story.
Mike Horton: Do assistant editors ever once in a while go into the editor’s room when he’s having problems and actually fix his computer and fix his application and fix the problem that he’s having?
Patrick Southern: Oh yes.
Mike Horton: Do they really?
Patrick Southern: Maybe not all assistant editors but, yes, I don’t know of an editor that I’ve worked with for more than a week that hasn’t asked me to come in and, “Hey, my computer’s acting slow.”
Mike Horton: You can hear the editor in the other room, “God!” And you know exactly what you have to do – got to go in there and fix his computer.
Patrick Southern: Yes. Oh, there’s a lot of that, and being that all of the stuff I’ve worked on so far has been Final Cut X, a lot of editors I’m working with, it’s their first time working with Final Cut X, so they’ll often start out with me in the room with them and, “Hey, Patrick, how do you do this again?”
Larry Jordan: But is it principally a technical hat that you wear? Do you ever make a creative decision?
Patrick Southern: There are times when I will help with the creative process. For example, on ‘OJ Speaks’…
Mike Horton: You were an editor on that, right?
Patrick Southern: I was an assistant, but with the producer we did the first assembly, so before the editor ever got any of the material, Tom Jennings and I went through and we laid out the entire story beginning to end and it was about four hours longer than what you see on television; and then David Tillman, the editor, would come through and shorten things. I have since done editing for Tom at his company, but I was principally an assistant on that project.
Larry Jordan: But, again, as an assistant, you’re expected really to organize the media ingest and output and keep track of everything, keep the equipment working, but not necessarily to contribute creatively. Is that a true statement?
Patrick Southern: You’re not expected to do that as part of your responsibilities, but there are times when somebody will ask your opinion or say, “Hey, I could use help with maybe finding some moments,” so there are opportunities in terms of finding footage and knowing where footage is or what might potentially go well in a story that you can contribute creatively without forcing yourself on the editor.
Mike Horton: Are you confident in your abilities as a storyteller?
Patrick Southern: I’m not a Tom Jennings or a Chuck Braverman or a David Tillman, but I’m fairly confident. I did spend a year and a half at the creative firm as a producer and an editor, so I am fairly confident in my storytelling, yes.
Larry Jordan: Ok, so let’s put your assistant editor hat back on. The biggest challenge that somebody has is how they get organized for a Final Cut X edit. I’ve just dumped a basketful of camera cards on you and you’ve got an empty RAID, you’ve got a brand new computer, the software’s installed. How do you set it up?
Patrick Southern: Basically, first thing I always do is use ShotPut Pro to move everything onto the new drive so that I make sure I’ve got my checksums, I want to make sure that the transfer took place safely, and then usually there’s some sort of organization that’s communicated between me and the editor – “Here are the story beats that we expect the story is going to have” – and so we’ll break it down into events. A lot of Final Cut editors like working in one event.
Patrick Southern: Everybody that I’ve worked with, we’ve done multiple events for the different kinds of footage, whether it be archival footage, archival audio, so forth and so on; and then within that, we will use keyword collections and I took a cue from Philip and Greg with Lumberjack and have decided that I like creating folders for people, places, activities and then if there are any other logical collections of keywords that I can put together, then I’ll create a folder for that.
Patrick Southern: So I’ve got my keyword collections that I may not even have tagged anything with and I’ll go ahead and set those up within folders and then, as we’re watching through footage, you apply your keyword collections so that footage will start to fill into those collections.
Larry Jordan: And you store the media all on a single RAID and you’ve got it all on a single device or do you have it across multiple hard disks? And is there an organizational pattern there as well?
Mike Horton: It depends on the budget, Larry.
Patrick Southern: It really does depend on the budget. Some budgets, we’ll do a mirrored drive.
Mike Horton: Oh wow.
Patrick Southern: If you don’t have a whole lot of money, then the mirrored drive is one way to go; and then the way that I prefer to work is with Sam Messman’s Share Station where everything’s all on shared storage. You’ve got a nice RAID that is then backing up to an additional drive.
Mike Horton: That thing is powerful and it’s a beauty.
Larry Jordan: So as you’re looking forward, what projects are you looking to do in the future?
Patrick Southern: Oh, that’s a great question. Right now, documentaries is the place for me. I enjoy the speed of the work.
Mike Horton: And you can also change the world with that wonderful story if you get lucky enough to be involved in that wonderful story.
Patrick Southern: Oh yes, absolutely.
Mike Horton: Only documentary. I love it.
Patrick Southern: Yes, me too.
Larry Jordan: Patrick, thanks for joining us today. Patrick Southern is an editor and an assistant editor working in Final Cut and a variety of other tools, based in LA and, Patrick, it’s been fun chatting today. Thank you very much.
Patrick Southern: Thank you, Larry.
Mike Horton: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: Take care.
Patrick Southern: Thanks, Mike.
Larry Jordan: The folks at Blackmagic Design keep shaking up the industry. The new DaVinci Resolve 12 could be all the video editor you need. DaVinci Resolve 12 combines professional non-linear video editing with the world’s most advanced color corrector, so now you can edit, color correct, finish and deliver all from one system.
Larry Jordan: The brand new Blackmagic Video Assist is a high resolution professional monitor and recorder that allows you to see a full pixel 1080 image large enough so you can focus a DSLR camera accurately; and the new URSA Mini cameras provide stunning quality with a 4.6K sensor and 15 stops of dynamic range, compact, lightweight and built from advanced magnesium alloy.
Larry Jordan: When it comes to state of the art technology, look first at Blackmagic Design at blackmagicdesign.com.
Larry Jordan: Christina Horgan began her career in graphic design, then she transitioned into sound design and sound editing. Since then, she’s won Best Sound Design at the 2015 FANtastic Horror Film Festival, as well as becoming a member of the Motion Picture Sound Editors Guild. Hello, Christina, welcome.
Christina Horgan: Hi, Larry, thank you for having me.
Larry Jordan: I’ve been looking forward to this conversation all week. I’m really glad that you’re here because I’m puzzled. You started off as a graphics designer and then you transitioned into sound design and I can’t think of a single piece of connection between graphics design and sound design. Why did you make…
Mike Horton: I’ll give you a piece of it. Do you know who developed the LAFCPUG website?
Larry Jordan: No way!
Mike Horton: She did. She designed it. There’s your graphic design. Then, because she was interested in editing at that time, she got involved in the user group. On day one, she did the LAFCPUG design, which is the same 15 years later.
Larry Jordan: She may not really want you to mention this.
Mike Horton: I know.
Christina Horgan: Not because I wanted it to stay the same.
Mike Horton: No, no, it’s all my fault, it’s all my fault that it’s the same, but she did it. She did it because she was interested in editing and film and everything else. She took that graphic design background, which she’s brilliant at, and now she’s in sound.
Larry Jordan: But graphic design is visually based and audio is aurally based and generally the two of them don’t go hand in hand. What attracted you to it?
Christina Horgan: Well, I have to disagree. In my head, in my world, I can play a movie in my mind, whether it’s visual, but it’s got to have sound with it as well. I create from the same place and it depends on what you’re going for. If you’re going to create anything visually, you still have to come up with your concept and your ideas and so forth and it’s really the same with the sound. However, you have already a visual palette to work from.
Larry Jordan: So you see pictures in your head when you’re designing sound?
Christina Horgan: Yes. Don’t let that get out too much.
Mike Horton: She really is a sane woman. I know her well.
Christina Horgan: But yes, and colors. To me, sound has colors, it’s all of that and I just transitioned from one plane to the other and I can go back again.
Larry Jordan: Well, you’ve done both sound editing and sound design. Which do you prefer?
Christina Horgan: Sound design.
Larry Jordan: How come?
Christina Horgan: It’s creative and I am a creative person and an artist as well, and so it appeals to me. However, there’s a real satisfaction in cutting and editing. I do enjoy it, it’s very relaxing, good therapy. It just depends.
Mike Horton: You know, we talk to editors, especially some of the legendary editors, they all come from sound. They all started in sound and moved to picture. Why is that? Walter Murch, Dede Allen, all these brilliant editors started in sound.
Christina Horgan: Well, I’m backwards. I started from picture and I transitioned over to sound and I don’t think I’m going back, really. I love sound.
Mike Horton: I don’t know if it’s back.
Christina Horgan: I’ve always been kind of a nut for audio anyhow. I didn’t even know it when I was a kid and always messing around with my own thing, my own mixes. Remember the little cassette tapes? We would record and I had my amplifier and all my equalizers and I was always trying to do my own thing and absolutely loved it. Had no idea that there was a deeper thing going on there really, because I am artistic as well, so it was just easier to apply visual. But it took an economical crash for me to finally get to realize – I don’t come from a family that has anyone in the industry so right off the bat it was difficult to get into. Secondly, I’m female. I graduated from high school a long, long time ago and it was even tougher to get into unless you had family already in the industry.
Larry Jordan: So where did you study? Where did you learn your craft?
Christina Horgan: I learned at Video Symphony, an absolutely fantastic program. I took the Pro Tools program and all of the instructors there were top veterans – Vicky Sampson, Solange Schwalbe.
Mike Horton: Larry Jordan.
Christina Horgan: Larry Jordan, yes. But every aspect of audio. We went through an entire audio engineering program, so each aspect of post came later and we learned from all of the experts how to cut properly all the way to mixing. It gave you a taste of everything so that you could find your way. What you really thought you wanted to do when you came there might not be what you ended up wanting to do, actually.
Larry Jordan: Well, not only did you take the class, but you actually listened to what the instructors were talking about, because you won the award for Best Sound Design for Cut! Tell me what this is about.
Mike Horton: That was so cool because you had just been at my meeting, showing off Cut! and showing off her work, and then the next day she’s holding up a trophy from San Diego.
Christina Horgan: That’s true.
Mike Horton: I know, it really was, it was the next day or next two days.
Christina Horgan: A couple of days later, and honestly I was really surprised. I was already just really excited to be nominated, that alone was beyond any expectation, and the entries were really, all of them were great and…
Mike Horton: Well, that’s a hell of a film fest.
Christina Horgan: Yes, it was fantastic, it really was. But the Cut! sound design is a very fun story. I was able to collaborate with the director, David Rountree, on his ideal, what his vision was, and he allowed me to really pick his brain, and that’s something that is not normal. You don’t usually get to have any kind of collaboration on that level with most film directors, or even beyond your supervising sound editor, and Solange Schwalbe and Vicky Sampson were co-supervisors on the movie. Anyway, he had a specific feel for what he wanted. He wanted a lot of metal in his sound design and I guess you could go to a library, but that’s not real sound design.
Mike Horton: Yes, we had the talk earlier. Why not just go to a library and pick them out, especially when you have no budget?
Christina Horgan: Well, you would do that for hard effects, if you’re cutting sound effects, but if you’re creating sound design, which is a completely different animal, you want it to be original and unique. There might be some things you could pull from a library and elaborate on and modify them and tweak them, but true sound design is taking a concept and creating something that has not been created yet for that movie. Sound design is sounds that are not real to the world, especially horror films. That’s a great example. It’s the sounds that drive the emotion and make the hairs stand up on your arms and the back of your neck and the suspense that keeps your attention. With so many of those horror movies, the scripts are not really great.
Larry Jordan: Yes, it’s all in the audio.
Christina Horgan: So you have to be able to drive the story home with the sound design.
Larry Jordan: Do you record your own audio?
Christina Horgan: I do. If I have the use of a studio, that’s wonderful, but normally you don’t and in this case I didn’t.
Mike Horton: She’s got wonderful stories about creating the sound design for Cut!
Christina Horgan: Yes, I don’t have time to tell them all.
Mike Horton: I know, we only have about two and a half minutes, but you should bring her back just to tell that story. There are just a great, great stories when you have no money.
Larry Jordan: All right, tell me a story. What was it like?
Mike Horton: Quickly!
Christina Horgan: Quickly, it was done in my kitchen. Briefly, I didn’t have any mics. There’s no budget on this movie, first of all, and I didn’t have any mics worthy of something you would create. I was hoping to be able to borrow one from the school and you’re not supposed to do that, take it off the premises.
Christina Horgan: My kitchen was a disaster zone for three weeks, off limits, and everything was created and recorded in my kitchen directly into Pro Tools on my laptop, plugged in on the counter, and I ransacked a dumpster – and I’m not a dumpster diver – and I found a karaoke machine that had a little ten dollar mic that came with it that was still plugged into it and it was just a little cheap cardioid mic and I thought, “Hmm, I wonder if this thing works,” and found out it worked and I used that. I hung a guy wire across my kitchen and then looped this thing over and just slid it back and forth over whatever it was I needed to record so I could have use of all my hands. It was awful.
Mike Horton: Are we talking about a lot of sound effects in the movie or all of the sound effects in the movie?
Christina Horgan: All of it.
Mike Horton: All of it done in your kitchen with a ten dollar mic.
Christina Horgan: Yes, yes, and half the sound design was already done with that mic because it was so chintzy and so bad that I was just going to take it into Pro Tools and tweak and modify it and process it and do all the stuff to get all these scary sounds anyway.
Mike Horton: And you did process the sounds?
Christina Horgan: Oh yes. Otherwise they would just sound like a bunch of pots and pans and scrapes.
Mike Horton: Oh, ok. All right.
Christina Horgan: I won’t give all of it away.
Larry Jordan: You said it took you three weeks to record, at least your kitchen was trashed for three weeks. How long did it take you to design the audio itself?
Christina Horgan: Well, we had a lot of time on the film. We had probably a total of about six months that we worked on it. That wasn’t the original schedule.
Mike Horton: Six months in post?
Christina Horgan: Yes.
Mike Horton: Wow.
Christina Horgan: It got pushed. There’s no budget so it was easy. We were all invested in this movie, we loved this movie.
Mike Horton: And David’s such a nice guy, you want to do anything for him.
Christina Horgan: Exactly, he’s a great director and because of our dedication and investment in David Rountree, we’re his post team. I hope he makes a lot of movies.
Mike Horton: Well, he will. People like him and he’s talented, so he will.
Christina Horgan: He is talented. But, yes, we had a lot of time. It was just supposed to be two months and I would have still been finished, but because I had so much extra time, it allowed me to go back and do more and more, so there are layers and layers and layers of sound design.
Mike Horton: Are you proud of your work or could you go over it again and again and again?
Christina Horgan: No, I love it. I won’t touch it now it’s done.
Mike Horton: Ah, good for you.
Christina Horgan: This one’s done. But that is another thing about post – there’s not enough time to do things. These days, it’s just got to be done in two weeks’ time and we’re so used to that.
Mike Horton: No chance for it to breathe.
Christina Horgan: Right.
Mike Horton: No chance for you to breathe.
Christina Horgan: And it really does make a difference. Your award winning movies are the ones that really have the budget to employ a lot of editors and a lot of crew, or they have the budget to allow for the length of time to work on it, or both.
Larry Jordan: So what would you like to be doing in the future? What are the next couple of projects you’re hoping to get?
Mike Horton: Redesign the LAFCPUG website? Only kidding.
Christina Horgan: Now he brings that up. I’m not doing that any more. Anything to do with editing. I love post editing and I love sound design. I have to say I am not a big horror movie fan. If I’m going to go rent a movie, it’s usually not going to be that, but to work on them is an entirely different thing. I absolutely love it. I could just create sound design for horror movies all day long. Blood and guts and all that stuff.
Mike Horton: Blood and guts. Just don’t watch them.
Christina Horgan: Well, we don’t get the reels in chronological order.
Larry Jordan: And you get just to design it on your own. Christina, thank you so very much for joining us today.
Christina Horgan: My pleasure.
Larry Jordan: We will bring you back to hear more horror stories of horror films in the future.
Christina Horgan: Thank you, Larry.
Mike Horton: Horror stories of horror films, yes.
Larry Jordan: Take care. Thanks again.
Christina Horgan: Thank you for having me.
Larry Jordan: Welcome to Tech Talk.
Larry Jordan: When I’m editing 4K in a 4K timeline, image stabilization works differently than if I’m editing 4K inside, say, an HD timeline. There is our R3D native file inside the source monitor. I need to configure this to match the sequence settings. We’ll drag it in, we’ll say change the sequence settings and there is our R3D file playing natively inside Premiere.
Larry Jordan: Except notice the road. The road is rocking. Generally, the road doesn’t rock when you are shooting unless the camera is handheld, so we need to stabilize it. We’ll go to the effects menu, do a search for the warp stabilizer, grab that and drag it onto the clip and, like all image stabilization, the first thing that it’s got to do is analyze the clip, because what it’s doing is it’s mapping where essential pixels are moving so it knows what it has to stabilize and what it doesn’t.
Larry Jordan: Here we go. Analysis is not particularly fast when you’re dealing with an image as large as 4K, but the analysis is done and now, if we rewind back to the beginning, notice how steady the road is because the default settings in warp stabilizer have just taken out all that handheld jitter. This is a really, really important point. The larger or the higher the resolution of your video, the more critical it is that it be stable.
Larry Jordan: When we’re looking at tiny little images in standard def, you can have the camera move as much as you want, nobody’s going to get sick watching it. But when you take higher resolution video and you display it on a larger screen or a theatrical size screen, sensitive members of the audience are absolutely going to develop motion sickness. This is why, as your resolution increases, the speed of your movements must decrease – slower pans, slower tilts – and image stabilization becomes really important because the eye gets fooled into thinking the whole environment around you is moving and suddenly your audience is throwing up in the aisles when you really want them to be fascinated by the quality of your cinematography.
Larry Jordan: There’s a conflict here so, one, move slower when you shoot 4K and, two, image stabilize. It doesn’t have to be rock solid, you can keep that handheld kind of movement, but take the jerkiness out of it or your audience is just never going to be able to concentrate on your material because it’s just too disquieting for their tummies.
Larry Jordan: But a couple of interesting things. In order for warp stabilizer to work, the clip must be in a sequence and both the sequence frame size and the clip frame size must match, which means it’s fine for stabilizing a 4K image in a 4K project, but what do you do when you want to stabilize an image in an HD project? Here, warp stabilizer breaks unless you know the secret. Let me show you.
Larry Jordan: If I apply the warp stabilizer, I’m going to get an error message and it says it requires the clip dimensions to be the same as the sequence. Well, this won’t work. What we do instead – let’s go back up to the effect controls and take off the effect – is we right mouse click on this and we nest the sequence. The word nest is right there and we’ll just accept the default name and apply the warp stabilizer to the nest. Again, it’s got to go through and calculate, which is going to take the better part of three minutes, so I’m going to do a quick dissolve here because it still has to analyze. But the way that we get around the fact that the warp stabilizer requires the clip to be the same size as the project is that we nest the clip.
Larry Jordan: At that point, the warp stabilizer works exactly the same way and, as soon as this analysis is done, I want to show you a couple of settings that can even improve the quality of the stabilization once the filter’s done analyzing. Be right back.
Larry Jordan: And the analysis is almost complete. If we go down to the effect controls, we can see that this is where it’s listing the analysis. It’s good to go, we’ll just hit it at the beginning and play it. Notice that the image is stable but we see some variation at the top and the bottom. That’s because down here for borders I’ve left the smooth motion set, subspace warp set, but I’ve changed the borders. Stabilize only means that the image is stable but we’re going to see little edges of black creeping in and out.
Larry Jordan: If I say stabilize and crop, it’s going to crop evenly around the image and make the image look stable, but the best option is crop and auto scale and it’s going to slightly zoom our image so that it fills the entire frame and now you don’t notice the motion jitter of the road. What we’re seeing is that warp stabilizer works great when you’re editing a 4K clip in a 4K sequence, but if you’re using warp stabilizer on a 4K clip inside an HD sequence, you always want to nest the 4K clip in order for the image stabilization to work.
Larry Jordan: Charles Dautremont is the CEO and CTO of Cinedeck. As the Chief Technology Officer, he leads a team of developers creating innovative solutions for the broadcast industry. Charles holds a Bachelor of Science in architecture from Cornell University and started in the entertainment industry here in Los Angeles as a Technical Director at the visual effects and animation studio Rhythm & Hues. Hello, Charles, welcome.
Charles Dautremont: How are you doing?
Larry Jordan: We’re talking to you and I’m looking forward to this interview, so we’re doing great. How about yourself?
Charles Dautremont: Good, good. Good to be back. It’s been a long time.
Larry Jordan: It has indeed. How would you describe Cinedeck?
Charles Dautremont: Oh, a lot of work. We make tools that help people get their work done. That’s how I’d describe it.
Larry Jordan: Well, yes, but that could be said of just about any software developer and you guys don’t do software as much as hardware.
Mike Horton: I’ll tell you, I saw it just a couple of weeks ago at the LAFCPUG meeting in the lobby and I would describe it as magic. Using that word, you can go in and say, “Well, what makes it magic, Horton?” Well, don’t talk to me, talk to Charles.
Larry Jordan: Ok, so why is it magical?
Charles Dautremont: Well, lately it’s magical because we’ve cracked the insert editing egg into flattened files, which has been a problem for everybody since the advent of file based workflows. Once you’ve got a flat file, if you have to make a change in the past you had to re-render the entire file after making the change in the NLE. That’s no longer true.
Larry Jordan: Define a flat file. Tell me what a flat file means to you.
Charles Dautremont: A file that you would deliver to the network, for instance, so you have your timeline in your editor, like Avid or Final Cut, and when that’s all cut and you’ve added all your effects and color and all the rest of it, the end of the game is you render it out as one layer with the audio however it needs to be and that’s what you hand off to your delivery. Now, if you need to make a change to that, say there’s an audio dropout or misspelling in a lower third, that sort of thing, in the traditional workflow you go back to your editor and you give that person whatever the fix is, they put it in the timeline and they re-render the final product again.
Larry Jordan: Well, that’s because so many compression algorithms compress between frames, it’s not just individual frames that are compressed, they compress video in groups of frames which means insert editing becomes difficult because of the way the compression scheme works. Do you guys get around that somehow?
Charles Dautremont: We do it for certain codecs like XDCAM that are… like that, but most delivery codecs actually are iFrame codecs, but still to this day no-one has really done that. But we’ve done it.
Larry Jordan: Back in the day, which is long before you were born, I was doing video editing on one inch and two inch tape decks and we could do insert edits in tape, but the insert would need to be exactly the same duration as the clip that we were replacing, it just dropped in and had to match to the frame. Do you have the same limitation as we do with insert edits on the Cinedeck?
Charles Dautremont: Do you mean if you have a 40 minute tape, you need to work within that 40 minute tape’s duration?
Larry Jordan: No, let’s say you wanted to replace a one minute shot and you needed to replace it with a one minute and five second shot, can you still do that as an insert edit or do we have to go back to the NLE?
Charles Dautremont: You would need to go back to the NLE in that case. It’s really extremely analogous to working with tape. If you have a file that’s 40 minutes long, it’s like having a 40 minute tape. If you need a 42 minute file, then you would have to go get a 60 minute tape to fit it in. So again, it’s very much like tape in that sense.
Larry Jordan: So is insert edit a product, an application, a feature within one of your hardware boxes or a plug-in for an NLE?
Charles Dautremont: Currently it’s a feature in the software that runs on our hardware. That doesn’t mean that it won’t become those other things at some point in the not too distant future.
Larry Jordan: So help me understand, how does the process work? I’ve got a one hour show, I’ve got to replace a bad title, I misspelled a person’s name, so how do I do it?
Charles Dautremont: You load the complete file that you exported earlier into our insert edit player and with your NLE you treat it exactly like a tape machine, set an in point, an out point. In Avid, for instance, you use the digital cut tool, press the ‘Digital cut go’ and it does the insert, so it’s very simple and very much like using a tape machine.
Larry Jordan: So we would transfer the file to one of the three different versions of Cinedeck that are out there, do the edit down the Cinedeck and then transfer it back off to the final distribution? Am I hearing that correctly?
Charles Dautremont: The file can live anywhere, as long as you have a big enough pipe. For instance, most of our customers have SANs that their files live on, like an ISCI or similar, and as long as the pipe is big enough, the file can be run directly from the SAN inserted to and it still lives on the SAN so there’s not really a copy overhead or that sort of thing.
Larry Jordan: Ok, then I’m confused again because I thought you said earlier that it required Cinedeck gear to be able to do the insert edit and now we’re doing it from the SAN. Where does the Cinedeck get involved?
Charles Dautremont: The Cinedeck gets involved because there’s baseband video involved. The NLE is playing out video to the Cinedeck, which is then writing it into the file. It’s exactly like a tape machine, if you think of it that way. The tape just can live somewhere else, like on a SAN.
Larry Jordan: Is the insert edit frame accurate?
Charles Dautremont: It is, of course, perfectly frame accurate or it wouldn’t be much use, and it’s also better than a tape machine in some respects because on a tape machine it’s very hard to do an extremely short insert. At least, the engineers I’ve spoken to, people don’t do less than a second usually, whereas we could do a single frame of a single channel of audio.
Larry Jordan: And what codecs does this support?
Charles Dautremont: Currently in use around town, most people work in ProRes, some people work a bit in DNx. I’d say 95 percent of the work is done in ProRes.
Mike Horton: Really? 95 percent? Jeez.
Charles Dautremont: Absolutely. Network deliveries that are not cinema deliveries, in other words network television, are I would say maybe higher than 95 percent ProRes.
Mike Horton: Wow.
Charles Dautremont: Yes, and there are people who prefer DNx but they’re a small minority mostly because of what the networks require, not the actual preferences of the people doing the work. Now, we also support JPEG 2000 for insert edit and for cinematic deliveries, of course, that’s more common.
Larry Jordan: We’ve talked about the codecs that you support, and this doesn’t even require an NLE, so this could be something that could be done long after the editors involved with the project are finished. You realize that there’s a mistake here or we’ve got to blur something out or whatever, so this doesn’t actually require tying in with the edit suite, it just requires access to the master output of the show, correct?
Charles Dautremont: Right. For instance, a scenario that comes up relatively frequently with one of our customers is their customer will arrive with a fix for a show that was done, well, put out to tape and they need to make the inserts from the tape to the file, so we also support that and drive the tape machine as the source for the fix.
Larry Jordan: Given what this does, aside from the fact that it requires Cinedeck gear to run, are there other limitations with this that we should be aware of?
Charles Dautremont: There are some limitations in terms of codec, things like variable bitrate H.264. That’s very difficult to do and not a big need for that, but that’s certainly a limitation. Lossless compression where the frame sizes are not the same, it’s a similar scenario. Otherwise there aren’t a whole lot of limitations. You’re limited in the number of audio channels by the FDI, you can only carry 16. So a file based version of this, which allows you to just open two files and do an insert from one to the other, would have fewer of these limitations that are hardware based.
Larry Jordan: You know, it’s an amazing technique, to be able to do an insert edit on a file based workflow and have it be frame accurate. I’m sitting here stunned that you can actually do this.
Mike Horton: You’ve just got to see it.
Larry Jordan: It’s just amazing.
Charles Dautremont: Yes, yes. Everybody says they can’t believe it, they have to see it, and then when they see it, it’s a little bit underwhelming because it just works. If you come from the tape world, it’s even more underwhelming because that’s how you have worked all your life.
Larry Jordan: That’s right, they always did it that way.
Charles Dautremont: But this all started back in the early 2000s, when we were doing film deliveries in short films and we were working in After Effects and some of the stuff we were doing was 4K or 6K at the time and it took eight, ten or 12 hours to export something. So if you made a mistake or you had a fix or the client wanted something else, that’s a serious penalty. It seemed to me at the time, I couldn’t believe it, here we are in this digital world, it’s just data, why can’t we just fix it in the flat file? I don’t know.
Larry Jordan: And now for the first time, we can. Charles, where can we go on the web to learn more about this product and the rest of the Cinedeck gear?
Charles Dautremont: You can go to cinedeck.com. That’s full of nice little demo stuff and all kinds of information.
Larry Jordan: And Charles Dautremont is the CEO and CTO of Cinedeck. Charles, thanks for joining us today. This has been a fun interview. I’m glad for your time.
Larry Jordan: It’s time for a Buzz Flashback. Five years ago today…
Andy Howard (archive): One of the things that we’ve been focusing on recently is integration in with unified communications environments. In particular, we’re showing integration with Microsoft Sharepoint server for information distribution throughout organizations, as well as Microsoft’s Office communication server so that you can view video directly within the Office communicator client and be able to collaborate with users about that video as you’re watching it.
Larry Jordan: This was a Buzz Flashback.
Larry Jordan: Michael, I was just thinking, you’ve had a past history with Christina. She’s been working with you now for a long time.
Mike Horton: I did. We need to have her back because she’s got a story. She’s got a great story of survival in this industry.
Larry Jordan: And not giving up.
Mike Horton: And not giving up and ambition and all the things that we need to survive and it goes beyond what most of us have gone through. Whether she wants to talk about it or not, I don’t know, but she’s a hell of a woman. Very talented.
Larry Jordan: And how did you get her to do your website? That’s a story in itself.
Mike Horton: It was interesting, because when you start a user group, all of a sudden everybody’s excited about it and it’s a digital revolution and all that kind of stuff, everybody wants to help, and she was one of those people who wanted to help and she happened to be a graphics designer and I, as you know, cannot draw a stick figure…
Larry Jordan: I do know that.
Mike Horton: …and I find web design incredibly boring, so she did the design of the website but it had to be simple enough for me to update it all the time, and it’s stayed the same for 15 years. It’s just terrible.
Larry Jordan: Well, my feeling is once you find something that works, don’t change it.
Mike Horton: I know. It looks so old, but it’s easy to navigate. Thank you, Chris. It works.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests for tonight, starting with film editor Patrick Southern, then sound designer Christina Horgan and Charles Dautremont, the CEO and CTO of Cinedeck.
Larry Jordan: There’s a lot of history in our industry, as Mike has just made clear, and you’ll find it at digitalproductionbuzz.com, thousands of interviews all online and all available today; and please sign up for our free weekly show newsletter, talk with us on Twitter, @DPBuZZ, and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com.
Larry Jordan: 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; production is Megan Paulos, Ed Golya, Keegan Guy, Lindsay Luebbert, James Miller and Brianna Murphy. On behalf of the handsome Mike Horton, my name’s Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to The Buzz.
Mike Horton: Goodbye, everybody.
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 Blackmagic Design, creating revolutionary solutions for film, post production and television.