Digital Production Buzz
February 25, 2016
[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]
(Click here to listen to this show.)
BuZZ Flashback: Tom Dolan
Daniel Sacchelli, Event Manager, BVE & London Entertainment Week
Simon Tillyer, Managing Director, KitPlus
Rex Palmer, Freelance Lighting Cameraman
Larry Jordan: Tonight on The Buzz, we’re in London at the BVE Trade Show in the KitPlus booth and we’re going to spend the evening taking a look at media inside the UK. Our first guest is Daniel Sacchelli. He is the Event Manager for BVE and London Entertainment Week and we’ll examine what the show is and why we’re all here in the first place.
Larry Jordan: Then we’ll talk with Simon Tillyer, the Managing Director of KitPlus, a publisher and broadcaster, taking a look at his perspective of media from the point of view of somebody who’s been covering it for more than ten years.
Larry Jordan: Then we’ll talk with Rex Palmer – he’s a freelance lighting cameraman – looking at where the industry has changed over the last ten years and where he thinks the industry is going.
Larry Jordan: All of this tonight on The Buzz and The Buzz starts now.
Larry Jordan: Digital Production Buzz is brought to you by Other World Computing at macsales.com; and by imagineproducts.com, the workflow experts.
Announcer: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking – authoritative – one show serves a worldwide network of media professionals – current – uniting industry experts: production, filmmakers, post production and content creators around the planet – distribution. From the media capital of the world in Los Angeles, California, The Digital Production Buzz goes live now.
Larry Jordan: And welcome to The Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for the creative content industry covering media production, post production and marketing around the world. Mike Horton has the night off and that’s because we’re in London at the BVE Trade Show, in the KitPlus booth. Well, actually the KitPlus studio. Actually, the KitPlus studio right in the middle of the tradeshow floor, which you may not have noticed and probably haven’t heard because of all the noise coming through my mic.
Larry Jordan: I’m really excited to be in London, to be able to cover the show, because we’re going to be talking about media outside the US, specifically in the UK, and we’re going to be looking at it from three different perspectives, from the point of view of a trade show, a publishing company and a freelance lighting cameraman; and being able to look at all these different points of view, I think, is going to make for a really interesting show.
Larry Jordan: Also, before we start, 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 The Buzz, quick links to all the different segments on the show and curated articles of special interest to filmmakers. Best of all, every issue is free. I’ll be back with Daniel Sacchelli right after this.
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Larry Jordan: Daniel Sacchelli is the Event Manager at BVE and I wanted to start our conversation about media and entertainment in the UK with Daniel because he’s got a really good perspective on what’s happening, because this whole show is his responsibility. Hello, Daniel, thanks for being with us.
Daniel Sacchelli: Always a pleasure.
Larry Jordan: How would you describe BVE?
Daniel Sacchelli: BVE now is the hub for the entire media and entertainment industry here in the UK.
Larry Jordan: Now, what does that mean, the entire media industry?
Daniel Sacchelli: Certainly the concept for this year and going forward is to take BVE from where it used to be, which was very much a strictly UK focused production and broadcast show, lots of cameras, editing suites etcetera, and acknowledging the convergence of technologies and the way the industry is shifting to make the scope of the show a lot broader.
Larry Jordan: How has the show evolved? I remember back years ago, it was just focused on broadcast, but now there’s much more than broadcast here at the show.
Daniel Sacchelli: There is, yes. If you go back to the Earl’s Court days, that was very much the case. Still a very well respected show and attended by a faithful following. I think since we’ve moved over to ExCeL, a purpose built exhibition center, very suitable for a high end technology event like BVE, and over recent years we’ve seen, as I said, the convergence of technologies, it’s become logical that BVE shouldn’t just be focused solely on broadcast and production, but should encompass these other areas and these relevant industries that cross over very neatly with BVE, namely AV, live entertainment technology, streaming technology, all of which now play a part in the bigger picture.
Larry Jordan: I think what that also does is it opens up the market of people who want to attend the show because there’s a whole lot more gear that’s relevant to what they’re doing that a broadcaster may not be interested in but an individual filmmaker would.
Daniel Sacchelli: Absolutely. It opens up the market for potential exhibitors who possibly in the past have not seen BVE as a show for them because they thought it was just attended by broadcasters and production companies, but now they see a lot more software, a lot more services and a lot more organizations offering products and services that are outside of the traditional broadcast spectrum; and then as we see those exhibitors start to come, people start to acknowledge the fact that there is more to see than previously there had been in recent years and I think that’s the only way it’s going to go. The show is continuing to grow and it’s continuing to grow not just in size but in stature and with its reputation in the industry.
Larry Jordan: Last year I remember we had close to 15,000 people attended, so it’s a fairly large show. How would you describe who attends? Who are the people that are coming?
Daniel Sacchelli: That’s been one of the major shifts. In recent years, certainly since we’ve moved to ExCeL, if we discount for one second the core BVE audience, which are always going to be our most important group – the broadcasters, the production companies, the DOPs, the camera operators, people from television and film show floor – then we look at the sorts of organizations that now attend BVE alongside them and they are shopping centers, retailers, fixed installations like airports, the major banks.
Daniel Sacchelli: Every major bank from the city down the road has pre-registered to attend BVE and I think that’s due to the partners we’re now working with, like the AV user group, like Infocom, who are an education partner, so they’re providing educational content. The streaming media conference which is co-located at the show is starting to encourage these visitors from outside that traditional spectrum to now come to BVE, so it’s a very interesting mix.
Larry Jordan: I was just looking at your business card and looking at the logos and they talk about BVE and London Entertainment Week. Is London Entertainment Week a show, an event or what is it?
Daniel Sacchelli: London Entertainment Week was launched this day last year on site of the show. We announced our intentions to the industry to launch a London Entertainment Week, the idea being to create a weeklong series of events that addresses the wider media and entertainment industry, an all-encompassing event, with BVE at the heart of the week, so a co-located even and awards ceremony. Last night kicked off London Entertainment Week officially with the TPi Awards. TPi is a magazine by the publisher Mondiale. Amongst other magazines, they publish TPi and they have a very prestigious event for celebrating the technical expertise of live entertainment production, so concerts and touring, theater and performing arts. That kicked off London Entertainment Week and then, along with the co-located conferences, we’ve got various user group meetings and other co-located fringe activity. We’re starting to build this series of events that makes the show more all-encompassing but still remaining BVE with this three day show so that we don’t dilute the core. Everything we’re doing with London Entertainment Week is to add benefit to our current exhibitors, as well as welcoming people from different areas.
Larry Jordan: I can see the benefit to these other shows of associating with BVE, because BVE is well known and attracts a large audience, but what’s the benefit to BVE of being associated with these other events?
Daniel Sacchelli: If we take the streaming forum conference, for example, that’s a very high level technical two day paid for conference that usually happens in Central London. By working with the organizers of that event and hosting that event here – it’s a two day paid for conference on the gallery level just above the show – their sponsors, of which there are eight of Streaming Forum 2016, rather than just having a tabletop outside the conference room that you would usually expect, they get a stand on the BVE show floor, so as well as being exposed to the 200, 250 delegates that go to the conference, they’re exposed to the thousands of people who come to BVE as well.
Daniel Sacchelli: Everything we’re doing shifts this perception of BVE into something far greater. Anything that we can do that brings new buyers to the show who are potentially going to be of interest to our current supporters is an absolute benefit.
Larry Jordan: You’ve already mentioned the fact that BVE is growing from its original broadcast roots into a much broader show. What are some of the new exhibitors that you’re seeing? What are some of the news trends that are coming to the show that weren’t there a couple of years ago?
Daniel Sacchelli: For the very first time this year, as part of London Entertainment Week, we’ve got an AV and live entertainment theater. On the show floor we have a cinematography and lighting theater, a production theater, post production and workflow, The Screen, which is essentially our keynote theater where we’re holding a lot of our fantastic content, and this year we’ve added an AV and live entertainment theater. To produce three days’ worth of seminar content specifically for that sector gives that industry the security that BVE is actually investing in the industry. It’s doing what we can to drive relevant buyers to the show who are going to be interested in the content and it sits very neatly alongside the AV and live entertainment zone, which is a new zone of exhibitors who are now joining the show for the first time.
Larry Jordan: With the new exhibitors, what part of the market have you seen is expanding? Looking at the UK, what part is growing? We’ve seen that broadcast is under a lot of pressure. Where are you seeing other opportunities and other companies and what part of the industry is showing growth?
Daniel Sacchelli: From an anecdotal point of view, what I’m seeing, the way our exhibitors are spending money, there’s always pressure on budgets and that’s never going to change. People are always looking for different ways to spread their investment across the show, so what we’re seeing now is very large manufacturers taking their stand space but also looking for additional meeting facilities, additional branding opportunities to try to have a very focused way of meeting the right buyer. It’s great, you bring 15,000 people through the door. A portion of those are going to be relevant to you, so we want to try and find ways that we can deliver a more focused buyer to you.
Daniel Sacchelli: We’re also seeing a lot more software as a service at the show, it’s not just a kit show now. Some of our larger stands are Aspera an IBM Company, Pixit Media, Quantum, these sorts of guys that are starting to invest very significantly in BVE and, again, it’s not just a camera show any more, it’s a very serious business critical event for the media industry.
Larry Jordan: One of the other things that I saw first at BVE that I’m now seeing at other conferences is the whole idea of integrating the conference on the tradeshow floor, rather than have it being separate in the facility. What was the reasoning behind integrating conferences in the first place? And then secondly I want to talk about what some of the conference subjects are.
Daniel Sacchelli: Ok. The idea behind integrating the seminar content, you’ll go to some larger events that hold their conferences in a separate facility and that’s absolutely fine, those people are going to spend days accessing very high level content at a paid for conference. By making it first of all free to attend, we encourage significant numbers of the whole spectrum of people who are involved in taking content from creation to consumption. By building those theaters on the show floor instead of hosting them in a separate conference facility, what you do for your exhibitors and your supporters is you bring the people there by attracting them with the content but as soon as those sessions are finished, as soon as the post production theater finishes, those buyers are back on the show floor interacting with and testing and comparing products, and that’s what our exhibitors want to see.
Larry Jordan: So for you, the important part is the building of conversations between what they learn in a conference and then talking to the actual exhibitors.
Daniel Sacchelli: 100 percent. They’re going to come out of a conference session after hearing something new, something innovative, and they’re going to walk over to a camera manufacturer or a service provider and say, “Right, this is what I’m interested in. How can you help me solve that problem?”
Larry Jordan: What are some of your more popular conferences? What are you keynoting this year?
Daniel Sacchelli: Just walking around the show this afternoon, cinematography and lighting theater is core BVE and it is absolutely packed, it’s standing room only and has been all day, which is great. The same can be said for the post production theater. One very interesting one is the AV and live theater because it’s brand new and although there will be a certain level of interest from core BVE visitors about what exactly we’re talking about in AV and live, there are also those new visitors who have never been to BVE before.
Larry Jordan: One of the big challenges is trying to get people to show up at a trade show, and I know that is no small worry of yours as well. What is it that gets people to come to a trade show, especially in the age of the internet when so much information is available online?
Daniel Sacchelli: You have to keep evolving, first of all. We do extensive visitor and exhibitor research pre-show, post-show – what do you want to see at the show? What didn’t work so well? Who did you expect to see at the show? Are there are any new buyers groups that are of importance to you? What other shows do you do and why do you do them? – so we do really deep analytical work for exhibitors and visitors.
Daniel Sacchelli: Actually getting them, to the show, we’re an annual event so we have a 365 day marketing campaign that’s very focused, sending the right messages to the right visitors, making sure that they know that there are things for them at the show and enough to keep them at the show and to bring them back for multiple days, because what we’re seeing now is we moved to ExCeL, we knew that people who came would stay longer, but now what we’re seeing is that people are actually coming back for multiple days because there are more product launches on the show floor, there is more content and the show is growing in size and in stature so there’s more to see for people to keep returning.
Larry Jordan: You’re surrounded by exhibitors, you’ve got thousands of people showing up, everybody’s having a good time. What are you going to do next year to make the show better?
Daniel Sacchelli: The big change this year was adding the AV and live zone and everything associated with London Entertainment Week. Next year is London Entertainment Week phase two, so adding more co-located events and we’ll be announcing those very soon. We’ve got co-located conferences, training sessions, some fantastic, really exciting and innovative ideas to bring to BVE to just make it into something that’s more than just a trade show. But certainly in the coming weeks and post-show we’ll be announcing all of our plans.
Larry Jordan: It’s fun to look around the show and see the wealth of information that’s here, and the variety of exhibitors, and the people that weren’t here last year that are new this year and getting a chance to get exposed to new technology. What is it that gets you the most excited about working on shows like this? Is it the marketing? Is it the conferences? What’s the fun part?
Daniel Sacchelli: For me, it’s the actual event. This is an annual event, so we put a lot of work in from the day the show closes. We’re already working on 2017, we’ve already drawn the floor plan, we’ve already got our plans for what the content’s going to be, or the framework of it. But you can’t beat these three days, or four days including build-up, where it’s pretty unique no matter what industry you work in. If you work in events, there are 300 clients here and for four days they’re all in the same room, which is unique. It has its own set of challenges in a way but it’s really exciting and it’s what keeps me coming back for more. All year you’re building up to how you can beat the year before and create new experiences and get more people through the door. It’s something I very much enjoy.
Larry Jordan: No small amount of pressure. Much better for you than for me, I think. Congratulations. Where can people go on the web to learn more about what BVE is about?
Daniel Sacchelli: You can hit the BVE website, which is bvexpo.com, and the Twitter hashtag is #bve16.
Larry Jordan: That’s bvexpo.com and Daniel Sacchelli is the Event Manager for BVE and London Entertainment Week. Daniel, thanks for joining us.
Daniel Sacchelli: My pleasure. Thank you Larry.
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Larry Jordan: We’ve had a chance to take a look at the trade show side of media, but I want to shift gears and look at a company that covers it from a publishing and media marketing point of view, and I’m delighted to introduce Simon Tillyer. He’s the Managing Director of TV-Bay. Simon, thanks for joining us today.
Simon Tillyer: A pleasure, Larry.
Larry Jordan: Explain to me what TV-Bay is, because I’m sitting in a KitPlus booth, so help me understand the disconnect here.
Simon Tillyer: TV-Bay was originally founded some 12 years ago in a time when search engines were in their infancy, you had about a dozen search engines to choose from – it seems hard to imagine now with Google – and we noticed a gap in the market where video equipment was quite hard to buy and sell unless you were part exchanging it. So we developed a website called TV-Bay, where people could go on, advertise their kit for sale – a classified listing site – and we were constantly battling with search engine algorithms to get the site found and even today roughly 80 percent of our traffic comes from search engines. So we were building a business based on search engines, and they changed their mind and our business disappeared.
Simon Tillyer: So we decided to do a printed magazine and this was a monthly export of all the kit that had been added on TV-Bay that month. It was about 20 pages and it grew and grew. We added some news, added some reviews from your good self as well, articles, and it’s been about 100 pages now for the last eight years. We’ve done 110 issues.
Simon Tillyer: We realized as we were going along that the name TV-Bay had just been something we’d happened upon back in 2004 and we do so much more than TV stuff and we were pigeonholing ourselves into that name and we just wanted a change. We started doing different things – we were doing studio stuff, like we’re doing here at BVE, video production stuff, our own live show similar to your Buzz, not as good as your Buzz show, of course, but we were doing our own things like that. We felt we needed a rebrand.
Simon Tillyer: The heart of everything we do is kit based, it’s all about the equipment. We’re not really interested in people moving companies, what we’re really interested in is the equipment, so ‘Kit’ was a good word and we do lots of other things and so KitPlus came about. Some people still know us as TV-Bay and it’s going to take a while for that brand to slowly go down.
Larry Jordan: So do I look at you and think KitPlus or do I look at you and think TV-Bay?
Simon Tillyer: KitPlus from now on, I think.
Larry Jordan: All right, KitPlus, I can do that.
Simon Tillyer: Hence the KitPlus studio here at BVE.
Larry Jordan: So why are you at BVE? I’m incredibly grateful to you for sharing your studio with us, this is a huge treat and we’re delighted to be here, but why?
Simon Tillyer: We find everything we do in our business is based on marketing equipment and services offered within the broadcast and pro video industry, so basically all the exhibitors at BVE are our potential customers, people that support things we do. What can a magazine really do at a show? Well, you get two types of magazines, you have online magazines and you have printed magazines. I think it’s quite good to say we are a printed magazine that also has an online version as well.
Simon Tillyer: But either way, at a trade show you can get your three by two booth, you can hand magazines out and it’s all pretty dull and boring. So we like to do something a little up market from that. For the last four or five BVEs here in London, we’ve set up a studio, and we get our customers who are supports of the magazine to come on the show, we do roughly six 30 minute shows a day, so we’re doing 18 lives shows over three days.
Simon Tillyer: We have a presenter sat in your chair normally and she’s interviewing guests. We have four chairs here, so we have panel guests, we have ones and twos, and they’re talking about their new products, how the industry’s going and we’re basically streaming out on the BVE homepage. So we are BVE TV, for want of a better word, and we work very closely with BVE in making sure the show works. They’re very generous with their support in promoting it and in return hopefully we give them a good quality stream for the three days.
Larry Jordan: As you’ve been planning the show, because I know you’re also involved with the producing, what subjects seem to be the hottest? Which have the greatest interest?
Simon Tillyer: To be honest, most of the shows today have been on cloud based technology. It’s a big one. We had Playbox on this morning. PlayBox have a channel in the box which replaces the old machine control room, effectively, and they were saying that when they came up with the concept of a channel in a box ten years ago, they were just laughed at. How can you possibly replace these people putting VTs in VTRs? Their whole solution was a PC based system where you automate a channel and they’ve now taken that a step further and made it a cloud playout system so that instead of loading all your shows into your channel in a box, effectively, it’s all uploaded to the cloud. They’ve partnered with Tata Communications so that you can upload your week long schedule up to their cloud and play out automatically. That was a big one today. We’ve also been chatting to Gtech about the new archiving and storage options they’ve got. Who else have we had today? It’s been a busy day.
Larry Jordan: Oh, I know that feeling.
Simon Tillyer: It’s been a busy day.
Larry Jordan: When I cover NAB, I have a hard time remembering what happened 15 minutes ago. But thinking about that, I’m looking backstage, which nobody can see because you’ve got this beautiful set that you’ve designed, but we’re looking at six technical people and a whole raft of gear. What gear are you using to do the show?
Simon Tillyer: Ok, well if I talk about the people first, so KitPlus or TV-Bay, whatever, is a very small company…
Larry Jordan: So even you don’t know.
Simon Tillyer: Even I don’t know. They don’t know who they work for. KitPlus is quite a small company, there are six of us, and when you put on a show like we’re doing here, we’ve got something like 60 square meters of studio space and we’ve got an audio guy, we’ve got a vision mixer, we’re checking the stream, we’ve got an editor, we’ve got crews going around the show, so we’ve got quite a lot of personnel.
Simon Tillyer: I’m not sure whether you’ve come across Ravensbourne College at all, it’s basically one of the UK’s leading broadcast and media universities in this country, and we contact them every year and say, “We’re doing the show, anybody fancy helping?” and they’re always very generous with their time. So we get second and third year students that have got a bit of experience and, to be honest, it’s always good to see. When they come along, they come with such enthusiasm and also experience that they’ve picked up by doing their own projects. They haven’t gone into Ravensbourne knowing nothing, they’ve gone in with quite a good level of understanding of the video industry, so we’ve got some really competent people vision mixing, on the sound desk, editing and going around as a camera crew.
Simon Tillyer: We’re using PTZ cameras here, so we’ve basically made three cameramen redundant by doing that, but they’re being controlled as well on the desk. As far as the kit that we’re using, we’re editing odd cutaways on Premiere Pro, just on a Mac. We’ve got a NewTek Tricaster and we’re using a Presonus sound desk. The benefit with the Tricaster is that it can do the whole thing. It could take all the cameras in. We’re using a Polecam which just flown over my head, a Polecam and three cameras, and we’ve got three crews going around which are fitted with Videosys wireless links, so anywhere in this hall with wifi signals going all over the place, the Videosys links still give us a clean feed. We can cut to anybody anywhere in the hall. Somebody could tweet in and say…
Larry Jordan: Wait, wait, wait, live switching to the camera in the hall from here?
Simon Tillyer: Yes. From here, to two cameras, alternate. The presenter here can have a conversation with our other presenter who’s roaming the halls and we can switch between each one.
Larry Jordan: How are you getting the cameras to communicate?
Simon Tillyer: We’re using RTS. I don’t know the exact model, but RTS have loaned us a talkback system. One of the great things about our industry is everybody is so friendly and everybody just – I say just – they just loan us equipment. We work with these guys and RTS have loaned us a four belt pack so the guys roaming around can communicate. NewTek have loaned us the Tricaster. The cameras are from Panasonic. The lights from AC Lighting just over the way there and they loan this stuff freely to us so that we can talk about it, I guess, we can get them on the show to talk about it, and in the magazine we can write about it and give them as much promo as we can.
Larry Jordan: Thinking about all this technology and shifting back to your experience publishing the magazine, what new technology are you writing about and covering that’s hot? Where’s the industry headed?
Simon Tillyer: Our magazine is probably not unique, but we have a simple formula. Each month we have a feature and we’ve just done the acquisition feature, which is always one I really love because sometimes when you do a feature that’s more focused on storage and archive, getting any images to go with that is a nightmare and you end up with a very wordy magazine. It’s a good read but it’s quite a hard read. With acquisition, it’s very visual. In this current issue, we’ve been covering stabilizing which has been a very interesting one.
Simon Tillyer: We’ve also covered, and I think there are only two in the UK, a piece of kit called Perfect Horizon. They’re a very high level stabilizer that is mainly a boat based device for filming boat races, high speed races on rough seas and it can hold a big broadcast camera perfectly stable, no matter what it’s on. We’re going to actually be testing that out in the coming months as well. We’re testing that against a handheld stabilizer. That’s been quite a good one.
Simon Tillyer: Drones are always good and there’s always a lot of health and safety type editorial around drones and how the legislation’s changing. I’m guessing the legislation in America – are you more relaxed about it now or are you finding that drone legislation in the States is…
Larry Jordan: No, we do have drone legislation, started December 22nd, so you have to be registered and your drone has to be registered as well.
Simon Tillyer: Or you can’t fly at all?
Larry Jordan: Well, you can fly as long as you don’t charge for it. If you charge for it, you have to be licensed and you have to be a licensed pilot, so you can’t just simply say, “I’m a drone operator,” you have to have a pilot’s license before you can fly a drone, which is extremely interesting.
Simon Tillyer: Wow. Yes, and do you find that’s cut down the amount of, I guess it must have cut down the amount of drone sales?
Larry Jordan: Well, no, the drones are still getting into trouble but at least now we have ways of enforcing what happens, and it also leads to greater safety on set because the people that are flying the drone know what they’re doing.
Simon Tillyer: Yes, yes. I think over here we’re still in this situation where you have to do basically a four day course, but you can see legislation tightening up on that going forwards, without a doubt.
Larry Jordan: Simon, I was just thinking, you do a print magazine in the age of the internet. Is anybody interested in reading a print magazine?
Simon Tillyer: We had this discussion at NAB in 2006, when we first decided to make the switch to print, and we were told, “Don’t do it, print’s dead, it’s of the past.” But to us, that was like a red rag to a bull, we had to try it, and it’s very satisfying because you get something through the post, you can hold it, you can feel it, you can pass it around. We did start to wonder if we were doing the right thing because the postage costs are going up, so we did a survey and it was one of those surveys that you’re afraid to push the send button, because you don’t want the wrong result, you don’t want people to tell you what you don’t want to hear. But we were actually staggered that 78 percent of our readers wanted to retain print.
Larry Jordan: 78 percent?
Simon Tillyer: Yes, only 22 percent wanted to switch to digital and of that 22 percent, ten percent wanted them both. To me, I think it’s going to go full circle and the popularity of print’s just coming back again, because people have just realized the limitations of online magazines. They’re very restricted in the Google optimization, very hard to find online and actually, if I’ve been reading or working online all day, do I really want to read stuff online again? I think it’s very personal, but we were staggered that 78 percent wanted print.
Larry Jordan: So what do you have planned for future publications? What are you covering in the next three or four issues?
Simon Tillyer: Oh!
Larry Jordan: How about next issue?
Simon Tillyer: Next issue’s quite a good one, actually. Well, all of them are great, but the next issue is our NAB preview and it’s always great to know what’s going on at NAB, so there’ll be a lot of news about new developments. Our news section is never feature specific, it’s just news. The next one is storage and archive, I think from memory, so there’ll be a lot of thoughts on where you’re archiving to. Are you archiving locally?
Larry Jordan: I want to read that because we haven’t figured that out at all at this point.
Simon Tillyer: Well, we’re only just there, and maybe not even there. But, again, it’s the big how many backups do you do and do you archive to the cloud? Is it ok to just store one copy in the cloud? If you’re archiving locally, you’re going to probably archive two copies. Should you archive to a drive that after three to five years might not power up again? There’s this whole conundrum about firstly what you back up to, why you’re backing it up anyway and how you’re going to find it once you’ve backed it up. I’m sure there’ll be editorial there on media asset management and actually finding that archive – after all, if you can’t find it, there’s no point in keeping it – and the whole cloud thing, as well as the speed of getting it up there and the speed of retrieval. That should be quite a good one. We just need to find some good pictures to go with it.
Larry Jordan: For people who want more information about the magazine and KitPlus in general, where do they go on the web?
Simon Tillyer: They can read our online version at www.kitplus.com/magazine. There you’ll find a link that you read the online magazine. Kitplus.com is just our landing page and you’ll see the kit for sale and we have articles, we have news and events as well. Anybody wanting to see the videos that we’ve been making here at BVE can go onto the event page at BVE and they’ll see probably 100 or so videos there; and NAB as well. So we’ll be at NAB in a few weeks’ time and we’ll be trawling the halls there as well.
Larry Jordan: Ah, very cool. Simon Tillyer is the Managing Director, actually one of two Managing Directors, for KitPlus. The website is kitplus.com and, Simon, thanks for joining us today.
Simon Tillyer: Thank you, Larry.
Larry Jordan: Welcome to Tech Talk.
Larry Jordan: Conforming a clip means to play a clip shot at one frame rate at a different frame rate, within a project, so that every frame in the original clip plays. For example, to play a clip shot at 120 frames per second at 24 frames per second in a project. Apple calls this setting an ‘Automatic Speed’ setting.
Larry Jordan: Now, this is done to achieve a very smooth, very high quality slow motion effect, so what we do is we shoot at a faster frame rate and playback at a lower frame rate, which gives us automatic slow motion with really high quality with no stutter or choppiness. Here’s how it works.
Larry Jordan: Here’s an example of we’re back in Brazil and we’ve got our dancer dancing on the top of the train. All right, not bad. It would be nice if we could run this in slow motion and not have any jerkiness because we want people to stay in the movement of the dance. Select the clip, go to the smurf menu and notice this choice called ‘Automatic Speed.’
Larry Jordan: What it’s done – let me just go back a step here and show you how we got to where we are – if I select the project, command J and open up the project settings, we see that this project is a 24 frame a second project. If I select the clip and go up to the info tab in the inspector, I see it’s a 60 frame a second clip. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to play every frame. It’s going to slow the clip down 40 percent. I’m going to play every frame in this clip and create a high quality stutter-free slow motion. Go to the smurf menu, ‘Automatic Speed,’ and now look what’s happened. No jitter, no choppiness, very smooth, clean images, no motion blur, exactly what we want.
Larry Jordan: What I’ve done is I’ve simply played a clip back at the speed at which it was shot inside the timeline, which is at a different frame rate than the clip. NFL Films is legendary for doing this. When NFL Films is shooting football and it was shooting film, it was always shooting film at 32 frames a second. You would then play that film back at 24 frames a second, slowing the clip by about 30 percent, and this gave us this beautiful balletic movement of very, very large men moving very, very quickly and violently on the football field, and yet this sense of grace and dance because we were looking at this elegant slow motion, which gave us a chance to see what was going on much more clearly that we could see it by watching in real time.
Larry Jordan: Well, let’s just take a look here and do the same thing. Here is a snowboarder. Lovely shot, but wouldn’t it be cool if we could slow it down? Well, it was shot at 29.97, it’s playing back at 24. Select the clip, go to the smurf menu, select ‘Automatic Speed.’ It slows it down 20 percent and notice now there’s no jerkiness, there’s no stutter but it’s much smoother, lovelier. It seems to hang longer. Very cool.
Larry Jordan: In order to create this effect, you have to shoot in the camera at a faster frame rate than you plan to edit in your project, then select the clip in your project and turn on ‘Automatic Speed.’ At that point, you can then adjust it manually if you want, but if you start to drag the thumb to make it any other speed than the one that Final Cut sets, you’re injecting choppiness again. The absolute smoothest setting is automatic speed and don’t make any speed changes.
Larry Jordan: We’ve had a chance to look at media in the UK from two perspective, one is trade shows and the other is publishing. But now I want to go into the industry itself and I want you to meet Rex Palmer, who is a lighting cameraman and has been working freelance in the UK for, well, let’s just say more than a year or two. Hello, Rex, good to have you with us.
Rex Palmer: Good to be here.
Larry Jordan: How would you describe your background? What have you done?
Rex Palmer: Well, I started work at the BBC many years ago as a trainee cameraman, and one of the first programs that it was my pleasure to work on, or to assist on perhaps I should say, was ‘Dr Who,’ which I think is…
Larry Jordan: Oh my goodness.
Rex Palmer: …seen by many people around the world, so that was quite an experience, working on the first ever ‘Dr Who’ which, of course, was shot in black and white, and the cameras we had in those days were rather large and heavy and difficult to move around. So they needed new young trainees like me to help move the cables so that they didn’t make noise as they moved around the studio.
Larry Jordan: Now, you describe yourself as a lighting cameraman, which is a term that we don’t use in the States. What does that mean?
Rex Palmer: That means that I can also light my own work.
Larry Jordan: Would you consider yourself a director of photography?
Rex Palmer: That is a term that, in the UK, is used by film cameramen specifically. The term for television has always been lighting cameraman, just to distinguish the fact that the actual work we do is slightly different.
Larry Jordan: Do you prefer the lighting part of it or the camera part of it?
Rex Palmer: Nowadays, the camera part of it.
Larry Jordan: How come?
Rex Palmer: That’s what I’ve ended up doing for the last 20 years, I’ve been actually working on covering the Formula 1 championship all over the world.
Larry Jordan: What are some of the projects you’ve worked on recently?
Rex Palmer: Well, that’s the main one that I’ve been doing, as I say, for the last 20 years. Before that, all sorts of sports in the UK. I started off in the studios in London with the BBC. I did all sorts of studio programs, whether it be light entertainment like ‘Morecambe & Wise,’ or doing the sports linking for the weekend sports shows or doing drama, the various different ‘Plays for Today’ – we had a series called ‘Play for Today’ back in those days.
Larry Jordan: With drama, drama’s got a script and we’re following along what’s going on. Sports is about as unscripted as it gets.
Rex Palmer: This is true. It’s a different discipline, yes.
Larry Jordan: What’s the challenge? How do you manage to keep up with sport?
Rex Palmer: You rely a lot on the director, obviously. Whereas in the studio, where you’re doing a scripted program, each cameraman has a list on his camera of all the shots that he’s going to be taking with a shot description and position where it’s got to be, whether it’s a wide shot, tight shot and so on. But when you’re doing sports, you rely on first of all knowing the role of a particular camera that you might be doing.
Rex Palmer: For example, Wimbledon tennis. Doing Wimbledon tennis, the standard when I started was to have four cameras around the court. We’d have the high wide shot, which was the overall picture of the court, then you’d have a close up over the service holder from the same end as the high wide and two side cameras looking at the players at each end. So you had to understand the role that each of those cameras did and the director would expect you to know what you had to do at any given time. He would, of course, get you to change things, he’d call for a close up or for a wider shot or whatever, so you were constantly being guided by the director as to what shot he wanted to use next, although you understood the format so you knew more or less what was expected of you.
Larry Jordan: Of all the sports you cover, which one do you have the most fun with?
Rex Palmer: I did enjoy doing Wimbledon, but then you also got to do many of ‘The Open’ golf championships as well. Different parts of the country and seeing the scenery there, because they were nearly always seaside courses, so you got to enjoy nice weather, though often it was rather breezy, and if you were doing a camera up on a tower, on a platform, the people used to look at you very strangely because you’d be wearing a big heavy coat, and maybe a hat as well and the people on the ground down around you would be in their bikinis.
Larry Jordan: You describe yourself as a freelance rather than staff. Is most of the work freelance these days or is most of the work staff?
Rex Palmer: No, most of the work now, especially in the UK, is freelance. I was a staff cameraman when I was at the BBC, obviously, because you’re working in the studios, and then on outside broadcasts you were staff, and you worked with a crew of maybe half a dozen other people, along with the sound man, the engineers who made sure the pictures looked right and all that sort of thing and you went round as a team.
Rex Palmer: But once that stopped, you go freelance, then you’re out on your own and you’ve got to find your own work, so that’s the difference.
Larry Jordan: What part of the industry is shooting these days? In the States, we’re seeing that some industries are cutting back and some outlets are increasing. Where’s the market? Where are the jobs today?
Rex Palmer: Live television is still live television, you can’t get around that, so it is still there. The difficulty is knowing the right people that will give you the sort of work that you want to do, and that’s where life becomes a bit more difficult. If you want to specialize in a particular thing, you’ve got to first of all somehow get a name for doing that sort of work so you get known and then the work will then come to you.
Larry Jordan: We’re seeing at the show a lot of robotic cameras, point and zoom cameras, which are replacing the traditional camera operator. Have they made much of an impact in terms of the work that you’ve been doing?
Rex Palmer: Not really, certainly not in something like major sports, because you can’t have too many robotic cameras which then might fail and fall on the players, for example, so no, you don’t get it so much. But the thing that really has changed is the size of the cameras, getting smaller, and the size of the lenses, getting bigger. On most sports, you’ve got large zoom lenses which can be up to 100 to one range, which is phenomenal, and when you’re doing something like that, obviously you need some very stable camera mountings because you don’t want to be wobbling about trying to take a close up of a car that’s at the other end of the pit lane.
Larry Jordan: I do remember back when I was starting out, I was working with Touit lenses, so we had to just shift from one because we didn’t have the zoom, and when the first zooms came out on the old RCA TK42s and TK43s, the camera and the pedestal and the lens weighed close to 1,000 pounds.
Rex Palmer: This is true, absolutely, yes.
Larry Jordan: And getting that thing to start dollying was a real challenge.
Rex Palmer: And that’s where one of our British companies, Vinton, came into their own making superb camera pedestals which would balance the camera and you could change the height and direction all with one hand, which made the work of the studio cameraman so much easier.
Larry Jordan: I do remember that I was dollying a camera at one point and I lost control of it and it crashed through the set, so I totally understand what you mean. Talent was a little worried as their camera got a little bit too close.
Rex Palmer: Exactly, yes.
Larry Jordan: You’re at the end of your career.
Rex Palmer: This is true.
Larry Jordan: You’ve still got 30 or 40 years left, but you’re at the end of it.
Rex Palmer: I don’t think so!
Larry Jordan: What advice would you give to the kids who are starting out? What do they need to know to be a good camera person?
Rex Palmer: That is rather difficult nowadays because the only way that camera trainees come into the business is through media colleges, and a lot of the people that go to media colleges think they want to be directors rather than actual camera operators, and the skills obviously are very different. But we’re very lucky in Great Britain that we do have a lot of very good media colleges producing lots of very good potential cameramen, and part of the camera guild of which I am a member is to encourage the media colleges to be involved in the training of the cameramen to do camera work, not just be a director, and there is an award scheme that is run in the UK where a particular student at a particular college or university will get an award for being the best of that year’s bunch.
Larry Jordan: Now, you’ve mentioned the GTC, the Guild of Television Cameramen, which is where you and I first met a couple of years ago.
Rex Palmer: Indeed.
Larry Jordan: Tell me more about what the guild does. Is it just a union?
Rex Palmer: No.
Larry Jordan: You’ve touched on more of it, but expand on that.
Rex Palmer: It’s not a union, it is a camera guild. It is worldwide, although obviously it started here and many of the members are based in the UK. We have agents all around the world, we have cameramen from Australia, China, America of course, right across the States, Canada, all over the world, though as I say the majority are based in the UK, because of where it started.
Rex Palmer: The role really is to try and maintain and, if possible, increase the standards of camera work that the cameraman do all over the world.
Larry Jordan: How do you do it? Part of it is training, part of it is experience and part of it is to want to do better, so how do you build that, how do you foster that?
Rex Palmer: One of the things we have is a members’ forum online where members can discuss with more experienced members problems they may be having trying to do a particular shot or what’s the best equipment to use for doing a particular thing. But one of the main things that the guild does, which unfortunately is only in the UK, is we hold workshops which can cover a wide range of things, lighting being an obvious one, new camera developments is another one, or actual experienced operators telling about how they got round solving particular problems, and this is a way people learn. At all these things, there are discussions afterwards and people talk to one another and learn from the interaction they have.
Larry Jordan: I was just reflecting on how technology has changed over the years. From your point of view, how does technology affect storytelling?
Rex Palmer: In various ways. Obviously, one of the things is now that the cameras have got so much smaller and therefore so much lighter that it’s easier to take a camera into a small situation that you wouldn’t necessarily otherwise have been able to do. But in terms of storytelling, it depends what the director – assuming you’re not doing a self shoot – ideas are as to how to achieve what he wants to do to tell the story.
Rex Palmer: We’re there to advise and make suggestions as to how it would be best done with maybe a change of a piece of equipment, maybe using particular camera mounting, a dolly that would give particular movement in a particular way. So that would be how we can assist the production to generate what they are trying to achieve with their end product.
Larry Jordan: Cameras are smaller and they’re cheaper and they do more. One of the things I’ve often wondered is whether art grows out of the boundary between what you want to do and what you can do, in that now our cameras can do so much that sometimes it’s hard to focus on what we want to do because there are so many different opportunities for us.
Rex Palmer: Right.
Larry Jordan: Are we better off now, when everything seems to want to do everything, or were we actually better off a while ago, where we were more limited and forcing ourselves against boundaries?
Rex Palmer: We were probably a little better off a few years ago, when there were limitations as to what any one camera could do, and you would understand the limitations and you were able to work around them. Nowadays, the cameras seem to be able to do everything, but then you suddenly find that actually the color balance is wrong or the light changes and it still doesn’t look right. So in a sense there are almost too many variables now to keep it under control, especially if you’re doing a multi camera shoot.
Rex Palmer: If you’re doing a multi camera shoot, you want to make sure that all the cameras are looking at, say, a player on a football field or a baseball field in the States, that they all make the person they’re looking at look the same color, not too pasty, not too dark, depending on what they are; or that the clothes look the same. Sometimes with modern cameras, with the sensitivity of the way the chips are now designed with a red, green and blue sensor, they’ve very narrow peak sensors and if you’ve then got stadium lighting, which is also LED, the peaks are in slightly different places. So although the player appears to be wearing red shorts when you’re live looking at it, through the camera it could suddenly appear to be a slight shade of green or something. That is a big problem.
Larry Jordan: In the time that we’ve got left, what advice would you give to somebody starting out to help them become better?
Rex Palmer: Try and get some experience with an experienced cameraman, as a helper, as an assistant for him, because that way you can see how it should be done and hopefully learn from that.
Larry Jordan: And for people who want more information about the guild, where can they go on the web?
Rex Palmer: Go online. The web address is gtc.org.uk.
Larry Jordan: That’s gtc.org.uk and Rex Palmer is a lighting cameraman freelance here in the UK and, Rex, thanks for joining us today.
Rex Palmer: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: Take care.
Larry Jordan: It’s time for a Buzz Flashback. Five years ago today…
Tom Dolan (archive): I think the audience is going to start to look at different sites in the sense of channels and what can I expect when I go there. And what we’re hoping to do at Festival of Films is take creative and audience groups and to provide them what that group would like to see, and so within our site you’ll find the particular type of entertainment that you’re looking for, the particular type of documentaries or information that you’re looking for.
Larry Jordan: This was a Buzz Flashback.
Larry Jordan: It’s been an interesting time here at BVE and I’ve enjoyed listening to our guests talk because I’ve learned not only how the US and the UK are similar, I’m also hearing how they’re different. We use the same gear because they’re made by the same manufacturers, but we use them in different ways for different audiences and for different purposes; and taking a closer look at media inside the UK is what this week’s show is all about.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests tonight – Daniel Sacchelli, the Event Manager for BVE, and Simon Tillyer, the Managing Director for KitPlus, and Rex Palmer, a freelance lighting cameraman – each for their own perspective on the industry.
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 remember to sign up for our free weekly show newsletter.
Larry Jordan: Talk with us on Twitter, @DPBuZZ, and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Our theme music is composed by Nathan Doogie Turner with additional music provided by smartsound.com. Text transcripts are provided by Take 1 Transcription – visit take1.tv to learn how they can help you.
Larry Jordan: Our Supervising Producer is Cirina Catania; our BVE coverage was produced by Debbie Price. Our production team is led by Brianna Murphy and thanks to our team here at BVE at KitPlus. My name is Larry Jordan; thanks for joining us for The Digital Production Buzz at BVE in London.
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