Digital Production Buzz
February 18, 2016
[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]
(Click here to listen to this show.)
BuZZ Flashback: David Murdico
Ned Soltz, Contributing Editor, Creative Planet Network
Cirina Catania, Supervising Producer, Digital Production Buzz
Aharon Rabinowitz, Director of Communities, Red Giant
Larry Jordan: Tonight on The Buzz, Ned Soltz, the Contributing Editor for Digital Video Magazine, returns with an update on the latest cameras and camera technology, along with advice on how to pick the best camera for your next project.
Larry Jordan: Next, Cirina Catania, the Supervising Producer for The Buzz, is in Berlin attending the Berlinale Film Festival. She has a firsthand report on the films that are screening, along with trends in movie making that have everyone talking.
Larry Jordan: Next, Aharon Rabinowitz is Head of Marketing for Red Giant and the Executive Producer of Red Giant Films. He joins us this week with an update on brand new releases from Red Giant and a look at why they as a software developer continue to make new films.
Larry Jordan: All this plus Tech Talk, a Buzz Flashback and Randi Altman’s Perspective on the News. The Buzz starts now.
Announcer #1: Digital Production Buzz is brought to you by Other World Computing at macsales.com; and by imagineproducts.com, the workflow experts.
Announcer #2:: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking – authoritative – one show serves a worldwide network of media professionals – current – uniting industry experts: production, filmmakers, post production and content creators around the planet – distribution. From the media capital of the world in Los Angeles, California, The Digital Production Buzz goes live now.
Larry Jordan: And welcome to the Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for the creative content industry covering media production, post production and marketing around the world. Mike Horton has the night off.
Larry Jordan: Next week, The Buzz is heading to London and will originate from the BVE Expo at the ExCel Center. BVE is the UK’s largest event for professionals involved in media. It attracts in excess of 15,000 visitors from more than 60 countries and combines seminars with a trade show. They’ve invited me to speak at several sessions, where I’ll be talking about storage and gear and the impact of the internet on media and I figured that, since we were already there, we’d bring The Buzz along, so the great folks at KITPLUS offered us their studio, which is on the show floor, to allow us to explore the world of media from a UK perspective. It should be great fun, so be sure to tune in next week, when we’ll be speaking with a British accent directly from BVE in London.
Larry Jordan: Also, 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 of the show and curated articles of special interest to filmmakers. Best of all, every issue is free. I’ll be back with Ned Soltz right after Randi Altman’s Perspective on the News.
Larry Jordan: This is Randi Altman’s Perspective.
Larry Jordan: Randi Altman has been writing about our industry for more than 20 years. In fact, she’s the editor in chief of her own website, which is postperspective.com. Randi is on the road this week but we’ve managed to nail her feet to the floor. Randi, welcome back.
Randi Altman: Thanks, Larry. Good to be back.
Larry Jordan: So where are you and what are you doing?
Randi Altman: I’m currently in Indian Wells, California at the HPA Tech Retreat.
Larry Jordan: Now, the HPA, which I learned last week stands for the Hollywood Post Association, is an organization of post production companies. What are you talking about there?
Randi Altman: Actually here at the show, they announced a new name, so they’re now the Hollywood Professional Association.
Larry Jordan: The Hollywood Professional Association. Why?
Randi Altman: Yes, they felt that was more inclusive, so that’s their new name; and they also announced that Leon Silverman, who was one of the founding members of the HPA and the HPA’s President, has stepped down and Seth Hallen from Sony has taken his place. Leon will still be on the Board and will still be very visible within the HPA, but he has stepped down as President.
Larry Jordan: What does the HPA do? What’s its role in life?
Randi Altman: Well, it began as an association for post production professionals and creatives and then manufacturers got involved as well. They do their HPA awards in November, where they celebrate talent, and here at the Tech Retreat there are tons of sessions on all sorts of topics – and we touched upon that last week as well – but it’s all about education and building community.
Larry Jordan: You were saying that you’re at a Tech Retreat. Is this like a trade show or is it more of a conference?
Randi Altman: It’s a little bit of both. They have an exhibit floor, so you can take a look at some gear if you want, but most of it is conference time, so you’re in a room and you’re learning.
Larry Jordan: Sounds like a return to school. One of the things I’m curious about is what are some of the hot topics? What are they talking about? More business or more creative?
Randi Altman: More creative, absolutely more creative, more technology, where things are going, the importance of metadata in OTT workflows. Everything is metadata. The importance of metadata has never been higher, so there’s a lot of that. There was someone from NASA talking about technology yesterday, there is an HDR session going on right now. In an earlier HDR session, there was a nice debate between HDR and 4K. Some people just don’t believe in 4K, they felt like maybe it was pushed upon them and they really do believe that the image looks better thanks to high dynamic range, so that was a debate that was going on earlier in the week. It’s been a fun show.
Larry Jordan: What struck you the most as you’re listening to all these conferences?
Randi Altman: How engaged the audience is. It’s a big room and there’s a lot going on and sessions go on throughout the day. There are breaks, but it is chockfull of information and people are just there to learn.
Larry Jordan: Randi, for people who want to keep track of what you’ve learned at HPA and to learn about your website in general, where can they go on the web?
Randi Altman: They can go to postperspective.com and they can also follow me on Twitter, @postperspective. We have been tweeting about the show.
Larry Jordan: Oh, very cool. Randi, thanks for joining us today.
Larry Jordan: To read more from Randi Altman, visit postperspective.com.
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Larry Jordan: Ned Soltz is an author, editor, educator and consultant on all things related to digital video. He’s also a Contributing Editor to Digital Video Magazine, a moderator on 2-Pop and Creative Cow forums and – and best of all – a regular correspondent here on The Buzz. Hello, Ned, welcome back.
Ned Soltz: Hi Larry, it’s good to be back and we’ve got to add one more thing to the credits now.
Larry Jordan: I’m afraid to ask.
Ned Soltz: Oh, once again I’ve just started writing for redsharknews.com.
Larry Jordan: You have got to practice getting more sleep, guy. This is just ridiculous.
Ned Soltz: Sleep is overrated.
Larry Jordan: Ned, just when I thought it was safe to get back into the water, the whole camera section of our industry seems to be going wild. What’s going on?
Ned Soltz: It’s going absolutely crazy. It is too segmented. I’ve said it on this show, I’ve said it in print. There are just too many cameras and there is absolutely too much confusion. So what I’d like to try to do with you tonight is maybe in our discussion we can flesh out what the different segments of the camera market are, who they’re target toward and what type of user should look to what specific type of camera, if not a specific brand.
Larry Jordan: I think that’s a perfectly good idea and I want to start with the action camera market, because recently GoPro ran into some headwinds when sales didn’t meet expectations. Does this mean the action cam market is in trouble?
Ned Soltz: The action cam market is, again, segmented because you’ve got the GoPro and now you’ve got the DJI Osmo, which although not necessarily waterproof, is really taking the camera world by storm in that action camera market because of that wonderful built-in gimbal. I think GoPro stumbled as well because you sort of reach a point where you get market saturation.
Ned Soltz: Now, there are a couple of others – let me see if I can reach over right here. Ah, here it is. We hold up the box right here. This is an AEE S71T action camera. Let’s see if we can get this here without the reflection of my light.
Larry Jordan: You are just incredible at holding props up. You and Vanna White, I think, are two…
Ned Soltz: Oh yes. She’s got better legs, though, that’s the difference. But nonetheless, that’s an example of it. That’s a 2.7K camera. It’s not a 4K camera like the GoPro, but it has a longer battery life and better wifi connectivity. Then there’s another little one which I’ve got packed away in a box right now that I can’t find, which is called eCamera and this is actually a couple of young entrepreneurs and engineers in Shenzhen and you’ve really got to admire these kids. They started with a Kickstarter campaign and a big camera dealer, Adorama, kicked some money into that and they produced a camera with a Micro Four Third sensor, a Micro Four Third adapter and we’re talking something barely larger than the GoPro.
Ned Soltz: I’ve been testing it and there were some firmware issues with the first revision of the firmware and it wasn’t auto focusing with a little Panasonic pancake lens that I had on it, but they said, “Please don’t say anything bad about it until we’ve reissued the firmware,” so I think the firmware is now fixed and that’s a cute little camera. It’s about $500. It’s segmented, it’s niche and all the other dealers have it other than Adorama. But GoPro’s got competition right now and they’ve got market saturation.
Larry Jordan: So the action camera segment may not be dead, but we’re seeing that it’s starting to max out in terms of market penetration.
Ned Soltz: Exactly, and I was going to add that Sony just introduced a new action camera at CES. There are rumors that there’s a 4K action camera due from Sony at some near point. I think it’s segmented and that’s why GoPro is seeing a drop in sales.
Larry Jordan: Ok, so we’ve got the action camera segment. Would you consider DSLR a segment or a function?
Ned Soltz: DSLR is a segment which I believe is dead in terms of future development, because I think it’s moving more toward mirrorless right now.
Larry Jordan: Slow down, you’ve given me two big things. You think it’s dead simply because of the removal of the mirror or dead because video cameras are responding?
Ned Soltz: I think it’s dead because video cameras are responding and I’m not seeing any great innovations coming along right now in the DSLR world. That doesn’t mean that people are going to immediately throw away their Canon 7Ds and 5Ds. You still see a lot of those out there being shot and they’re still producing very good work, but they’re really not going terribly much further. As an example, today Canon announced the 80D which again is sort of in the high enthusiast price range, let’s put it that way, at a $1200 price point for body only.
Ned Soltz: Really, the only innovation right now in terms of their video is it’s going to do 1080 60p as opposed to 1080 30p and that’s about the extent of it. Even in the Canon 1DX Mark II, their $5,000 plus camera that they just introduced a couple of weeks ago, that’s going to have 4K internally but still with a Motion JPEG codec, so it’s really a high end still camera that has some incidental video capabilities. We’re not seeing the development and Nikon’s not been behind it, but on the other hand Sony is just going absolutely great guns with their mirrorless cameras, that Sony GH4.
Larry Jordan: Hold it, hold it. Stop! I want to get to mirrorless in about 20 seconds, but just a quick answer – do you think that the DSLRs are being constrained in terms of development because they’re recording to the chip? Because the chip itself doesn’t have a high data transfer rate. Do you think that’s constraining them?
Ned Soltz: I don’t think it is, because the mirrorless cameras are recording 4K 62V SDXC chips.
Larry Jordan: Ok, so what makes mirrorless so attractive?
Ned Soltz: Their smaller form factor and because the mirror really isn’t that essential any more because you’d really rather see an electronic viewfinder rather that something that’s optical and get a better view of what you’re looking at; as well, because more and more now, particularly with Sony and Panasonic, you have various kinds of logarithmic log recording options that are there and you want to be able to view it either log or you want to be able to apply a LUT to it and that requires the electronic viewfinder. Also greater versatility and because you’re taking that mirror out which is unnecessary, you can have a shallower flange depth of lens and much more adaptability to different lenses of differing manufacturers with the mirrorless camera. But also the size factor is a major, major factor.
Larry Jordan: In a second, I want to talk about, say, four different categories of shooting and help you pick the right camera for each category, but I was thinking that the big buzz that’s going on now at HPA is the impact of high dynamic range video. Are you seeing cameras starting to take HDR into account and what do you think the impact of HDR is going to be on camera technology?
Ned Soltz: Already so many of these cameras are shooting dynamic ranges of 12, 14, 15 stops. I think that’s pretty much been there for a while. Even the Sony F3 several years ago was still shooting between 12 and 14 stops of dynamic range. So the dynamic range has already been built into those cameras but now we’re seeing cameras designed more and more for it. My favorite that was just announced in recent days is the new Panasonic Varicam LT, in that higher market segment. I’m really big on that and they are really looking to that for HDR production. But the question now is more HDR delivery and I believe we will begin to see that in consumer sets over the next couple of years.
Ned Soltz: At last NAB we were raising that same question – do we want more pixels or better pixels? – and if I had the choice of more or better pixels, I’d take a look at better pixels.
Larry Jordan: And I would agree. I think once you see HDR, resolution becomes irrelevant. But here’s the question, then. If cameras are shooting HDR video, because you’re saying they’ve got the extra stops of dynamic range, why aren’t we seeing it in our pictures?
Ned Soltz: We’re not seeing it in our pictures because the display technology is still catching up to it. We still haven’t exactly standardized on an HDR standard, so there are several competing standards that are out there and SMPTE has not made its decision in terms of what it wants to cast its fate with, and we’ve got Dolby, we’ve got Sony and at the moment I’m not up to what every single standard is and what those technological differences, electronic differences might be, but we first need the standard, then we need the manufacturers to begin to bring that to market and the manufacturers already have conflicting signals because we’re trying to move to 4K.
Ned Soltz: At the same time, we’re trying to think about 8K down the road, which isn’t that far away, and then HDR comes into the picture and what are the manufacturers actually going to do and promote? And then how is that content going to be delivered? That’s going to take a couple of years to work itself out.
Larry Jordan: Ok, so I want to discuss four different shooting scenarios in the time that we’ve got left. Which camera would you recommend for action or outdoor shooting?
Ned Soltz: I still like GoPro.
Larry Jordan: Still GoPro.
Ned Soltz: I still like GoPro. I still like the sensor, I still like the whole ecosystem of GoPro, I like the versatility. I even like the little GoPro Studio app which gets it into a Cineform codec and flattens out the image. It’s Pro Tune if you really want to shoot its version of log. I’m still on big on GoPro in that action camera segment.
Larry Jordan: Ok, how about run and gun videography?
Ned Soltz: Oooh, you’ve got a lot of options there and it’s all going to depend upon your particular budget. I like the Sony FS5.
Larry Jordan: Which is how much in price?
Ned Soltz: That’s about in the $6,000 range, and the FS7’s in the $8,000 range, but the FS5 is a wonderful run and gun camera.
Larry Jordan: Ok, how about weddings?
Ned Soltz: Weddings, I would still go for that Sony FS5. Something that could be run and gun at weddings too is the JVC 300. That just doesn’t get enough love. I think it’s a magnificent camera. JVC just isn’t getting the love that it deserves with it, particularly because of its streaming capabilities, which are about the strongest of cameras in that segment. I think also good for weddings might be the Panasonic DVX200. As well as not getting enough love, it’s a different kind of camera, it’s a Micro Four Third sensor, it’s fixed lens but it is doing 4K; and we still shouldn’t forget in the wedding segment the Canon C100, because that still has excellent auto focus capability, although a little long in the tooth on codec.
Larry Jordan: Ok, scripted filmmaking.
Ned Soltz: Scripted filmmaking, well, low budget I would never count out Blackmagic. If you’re doing scripted filmmaking and you’re really at a very, very low budgetary point of view, you can coax some wonderful images out of the Blackmagic cameras. If budget is no object, still the ARRI Alexa is king and AMIRA is a close second to that Alexa. I also really like the Sony F55, but that Varicam LT from Panasonic I think has just tremendous potential in scripted as well as B cameras to larger, more expensive cameras and as well to higher end documentary and film production work. That’s an amazing piece.
Larry Jordan: I’ve been taking notes. These are wonderful. What I’m most interested in is, with the exception of the ARRIs and the Varicams, most of the cameras you’re recommending are below 10k. True?
Ned Soltz: I think so, yes. I think you can get a lot of camera below 10k. To put in my personal plug, I own a Sony FS7, so here we’ve got an $8,000 camera with a $2,000 back for ProRes or for batteries and for 10k I consider myself as having a very decent production camera that’s used a lot, whether I shoot it or rent it out to folks for a lot of corporate work, it’s been used in some scripted work. My FS7’s been used by MTV for concert work. I think it’s a very versatile camera and at $10,000 it’s delivering a magnificent image and that’s not the only one in that $10,000 range that can do it. The technology is there in all price ranges and now it’s just the creativity of the operator.
Larry Jordan: We’ve got about a minute left, so the question I want to wrap up with is what’s the most important criteria to keep in mind when you’re decided which camera to use for your next project? What are the top three things to think about?
Ned Soltz: How much budget do you have, what do you want to spend? What do you want to achieve in terms of final deliverable product? And finally, what are your total production workflows going to be in terms of media, delivery, ease of use, the whole pipeline? But certainly, I think your budget is the first because all the cameras are good, you really have to look at your budget and then assess which camera fills the need the best and which image you like the best personally. They’re all good images, which image do you like better?
Larry Jordan: So we look at the budget, we look at image quality, we look at deliverable and we look at workflow.
Ned Soltz: Yes.
Larry Jordan: Ned, for people who want to keep track of all this stuff – this has been a great segment – where can they go on the web to see what you’re thinking today?
Ned Soltz: You can look at redsharknews.com or creativeplanetnetworks.com or tvtechnology.com .Those are the three sites in which my writing will appear.
Larry Jordan: There’s just no rest for the wicked. Ned Soltz, Contributing Editor for just about everybody that has print. Ned, thanks for joining us today, this has been wonderful.
Ned Soltz: Thank you, Larry, always a pleasure.
Larry Jordan: You take care. We’ll talk to you soon.
Ned Soltz: Ok, bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
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Larry Jordan: Cirina Catania is the Supervising Producer of The Buzz. She’s also an independent filmmaker and has been for a long time, as well as one of the co-founders of Sundance, and we’ve got her off in the wilds of Europe somewhere checking out a new film festival. Hello, Cirina, welcome back.
Cirina Catania: Hi, Larry. I’m actually not even back yet, I’m still in Berlin.
Larry Jordan: No, but you’re back on The Buzz, which is all I care about. So what’s happening in Berlin?
Cirina Catania: Well, it started to snow a little bit today on my way home, I can tell you that. One of things that strikes me about the Berlin Film Festival is how hard my fellow journalists work. There are thousands of us here, literally thousands of us, and nobody’s getting any sleep – me included – so by the time we hit a little bit past the halfway mark, we’re all a bit catatonic. But a typical day is probably get up around three or four in the morning, after having taken a nap for three or four hours, and then I’ll work on my writing, doing research for the upcoming day, watching the trailers for the films we’re going to see and then I’m usually out the door by about seven o’clock and I take two buses to the Potsdamer Platz and the first screening starts at nine and I’ll see a minimum of three films a day with three press conferences to go with them.
Larry Jordan: The Berlinale is going on now, correct?
Cirina Catania: Yes it is.
Larry Jordan: As a journalist, are you screening the films to write about them? Are you screening them as an independent producer to look at their techniques? What are you looking at when you go to the film? And then I want to take a look at what happens at a press conference, but what’s your goal here?
Cirina Catania: Ok, several things. The main reason for me to come to Berlin is a pure love of film, as I’ve mentioned before on The Buzz. Berlin tends to be a more political festival, I should say, than other festivals like Sundance. People at Sundance are very concerned about what actors are in the movies; here in Berlin, they talk about the directors and the message of the films. So I’m here to watch the movies, see what’s being selected, and use that as research for future films that I and my friends might be working on and just get a better feel for the international market, and then just enjoy the films because these are films that you may or may not ever see in the United States.
Cirina Catania: Most of them do get distribution. If they make it to the competition at Berlinale, most of these films will get distribution. They may or may not get a wide distribution, but it’s nice to watch them. And I learn, I learn from these amazing directors that have these works. Some of them are works of art, some of them are more commercial, so it’s a learning process for future distribution and it’s just the love of the art.
Larry Jordan: All right, so let’s shift behind the scenes. What happens at a press conference?
Cirina Catania: Well, you literally have to run from the Palace Theater over to the Hyatt Hotel where the press conferences are on the second floor. You have to run because there are only a few hundred seats in there and there are thousands of people in that theater, so you run and you try to get a seat and then they have the people from the films there. It’s very well attended here at the Berlinale. For a film called ‘Genius,’ we had the director, we had the actors, we had the producers, so they’re lined up, they’re at the podium and then we all just ask our questions.
Cirina Catania: The Germans are incredibly organized about the way they handle the press conferences. They’re all taped so we have access to the tape of the conference afterwards. We also have headphones that we can pick up that allow us to listen into whatever our language is. You can listen to it in French, in German, in Portuguese, in English, in the Asian languages because there are people there from all over the world. They usually last about an hour, there’s a photo call beforehand for all the still photographers, then the videographers come in, they stand in the front line and they get all of their video and some of the stills get taken, then they move out and the reporters start asking their questions.
Larry Jordan: Cirina, what are some of the typical questions that reporters ask? Is it pretty vacuous or is there some meat in the questions?
Cirina Catania: I’m telling you, these journalists are very well educated. They understand the history of film and they also take the messages of the film, and so the room tends to get very political. Spike Lee and his group stayed quite a while, actually, and were talking about how violent America is and how many people get killed every day in America and why he made the film and they got into the politics of violence in American communities, which actually brings me to another point.
Cirina Catania: The American government is really the evil empire in a lot of these movies this year. I’m a big shocked by that. Not completely surprised, but I guess the words I would use are a bit sad.
Larry Jordan: What are you seeing in terms of the films? You’ve mentioned already that Berlinale tends to be more political than other film festivals are. Are you seeing themes emerge aside from the evil empire? Are you seeing other themes emerge from the films?
Cirina Catania: Yes, absolutely. One that comes to mind immediately is ‘Fire at Sea,’ which is up on the top of my list. It’s actually a documentary and it’s about the island of Lampedusa. It’s directed by Gianfranco Rosi. It is a heartbreaking documentary about the immigrants as they land, and are brought off the ships and everything that they go through to make those voyages, juxtaposed against the island life and all these people who are completely unaware of what’s happening, or if they are away they just don’t care. I think the director wanted to make that point, that there can be a life being lived that’s so difficult by these immigrants and we’re making pasta, we’re playing music and we’re a little kid off for a stroll on the beach trying out his play toy gun.
Larry Jordan: Cirina, there’s another film that I’ve heard about called ‘Genius.’ Tell me about that.
Cirina Catania: Oh, that’s Michael Grandage’s film. It’s a wonderfully made film about Thomas Wolfe and the editor that worked with him for so many years to help him get his books out when no-one else would publish them. There was a movie that I saw today called ‘Zero Days,’ about the Stuxnet virus, from another documentary filmmaker who’s very well respected here in Berlin, his name is Alex Gibney, and that is a frightening, frightening film literally about how dangerous cyber warfare is and the American role in that, which was very surprising.
Cirina Catania: I’m trying to think of some more political movies. Oh, there was another movie that would be very controversial in the United States. It probably would even get an X rating. It was called … It’s about being 17 and it’s a coming of age film about two young boys who discover that they’re gay and it’s quite graphic. In our country it would be, anyway.
Cirina Catania: There’s another film called ‘Letters from War,’ so you have all subjects. You’re dealing with war, you’re dealing with sexuality, you’re dealing with abortion, you’re dealing with violence, immigration issues. It’s pretty intense.
Larry Jordan: As a filmmaker, what are you learning? What techniques are you seeing that you want to borrow for your own films?
Cirina Catania: I don’t know if it’s technique so much as inspiration. I have to tell you that watching Mahana, and I wish I knew the name of the cinematographer, the Lee Tamahori film about the Maori tribes, every single shot in that movie was beautiful. It reminded me of years ago in the late ‘70s, watching Terrence Malik’s ‘Days of Heaven’ for the first time in a big theater and we don’t have that very much any more. With these smaller digital cameras, we can get beautiful images, but this movie’s very cinematic and it’s just huge. Every shot is gorgeous. It’s well lit and it didn’t take away from the story. I guess you can say that’s my big takeaway which is reinforcing two things – the story is very important and the visuals are very important, but if they don’t go together then you’ve got a mess.
Larry Jordan: Before we talk about more movies, one of the thoughts that struck me is it sounds to me like filmmakers should make an effort to attend film festivals, whether they can make the trip to Berlin or not is different, but it seems to me that there’s a huge educational component to a film festival that would benefit any filmmaker. Is that a true statement?
Cirina Catania: I absolutely believe that so much, Larry. I think you hit it right on the nail. We need to respect and appreciate and enjoy our craft. There’s a lot of talk about the business, which is very important of course, you want to know how to sell your films, but sometimes you just need to enjoy who you are as an artist and make good product. When you get inspired by these beautiful movies that we’re seeing, or even by a movie that’s awful but still somehow gets you to think about life, I think that’s very important.
Larry Jordan: I was just looking at the schedule for the Berlinale and there’s this thing, this block, on tomorrow’s schedule. It’s an eight hour film. What’s this?
Cirina Catania: I know, I looked at my schedule when I first got here and I thought I had tomorrow off. I thought, “Oh, there’s only one movie.” It turns out it’s an eight hour movie. We’re going to be in the theater for nine hours, with an hour break in between. It’s a Filipino movie. I can’t pronounce it in Filipino, but the English translation is ‘Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery,’ so I hope it doesn’t put me to sleep. It is the mythological exploration of the history of the Philippines and it’s in black and white, very high contrast, and a lot of us are talking about whether we really want to sit for eight hours to watch one movie on the one hand, but on the other hand it really feels like an event and I’m anxious to see whether or not it’s going to be enjoyable.
Larry Jordan: I’m really curious as to whether they’ve simply abrogated their editing responsibility and said, “We can’t make a decision, we’re going to force you to watch all the dailies,” or whether there’s a big enough story there to sustain for eight hours, but it seems to me within the first half hour you’d know if it’s going to be worth investing your time in.
Cirina Catania: Yes, we’ve actually all said we’re going to sit through part of it and if it’s really bad we’re just going to go out to lunch and go finish our reviews. We have to write all our reviews.
Larry Jordan: What’s the headline of your next article going to be?
Cirina Catania: I think I’m going to talk about the American government as the evil empire here in Berlin.
Larry Jordan: An interesting story. Cirina, for people who want to keep track of all the stuff that you’re writing and your thoughts on the film festival, where can they go on the web?
Cirina Catania: Go to filmvault.biz or thecataniagroup.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s filmvault.biz or thecataniagroup.com and Cirina Catania is the Supervising Producer of The Buzz and traveling to Berlinale. Cirina, thanks so much for joining us today. Enjoy the festival and have a safe trip home.
Cirina Catania: Thanks Larry, see you next week.
Larry Jordan: Welcome to Tech Talk.
Larry Jordan: So we’ve already dragged our file across. Oh, it’s the wrong file, how do I get rid of this? Highlight it, hit the delete key. It asks if you’re sure you want to get rid of it. Because there has to be one compression setting applied to clip, if I delete the compression setting, it deletes the clip. Well, that’s not what I wanted. I just wanted to change – no, no, not compressed files – up here, media. Let’s drag our dance back in again, close this file, pull it over.
Larry Jordan: To change a setting, simply grab the setting you want and drag it on top. Notice that, as I change it, the existing setting changes color. As soon as it changes color, you’re going to replace it. To add a setting, drag it on top of the file name. There’s the file name, there’s the setting. Oh, I want a third one. Drag it on top of the file name and now we’ve got three settings. Highlight the setting you don’t want, hit the delete key, press yes. If it’s the last compression setting, it will make the clip disappear. If there are multiple compression settings, it just deletes the compression setting.
Larry Jordan: To change where the file gets stored, double click it and this allows me to specify a different destination. Notice it goes to compressed files because that’s what I set as the default in preferences. Let’s just grab this header over here. Notice that there’s a thing called ‘Status.’ This shows you the compression status of the file and we’ll talk about that more in just a second. Let’s just make this a YouTube one pass, put it right there.
Larry Jordan: Once you’ve got the setting applies, once you’ve got the location set, you click the right pointing arrow and down here at the bottom it will show us the compression. Because this is one pass, it shows how much time is left, it allows us to see what’s going on in terms of what the settings are and what the movie is that we’re compressing, and then it goes away. This is from our webinar of about a month ago, talking about editing dance and music videos.
Larry Jordan: I’ve now screwed up my layout because I got carried away dragging. I’m just going to go to workspaces, reset to default workspaces. It says yes and we’re back again. But what happens if I say, “Oh, that was the wrong thing. I need to recompress it”? Notice it says ‘done’ and the green arrow doesn’t work. Just hold the control key down, click on the word ‘done,’ say reset status and now it’s ready to recompress. Just control click or right mouse click and reset the status back to ready, or if you’ve stopped it because you’ve clicked this red square.
Larry Jordan: Well, we’ve seen how we can apply settings – we go down, for instance, broadcast here, there’s the H.265 codec which is now called HEVC High Efficiency Video Codec, and we can twirl this down and drag a 4K codec on here. Now, you only get this warning once. It says HEVC codec must be installed to use this feature. Clicking ok will install and enable this codec for immediate use.
Larry Jordan: Notice they don’t give you a choice, so I’m going to click ok here and now it’s going to in the background install the H.265 codec, such that AME can compress the file, but I can’t play the file. It doesn’t install a playback codec, it just installs a compression codec so I can compress it but I can’t view it unless I load it up into Premiere.
Larry Jordan: Aharon Rabinowitz is the Head of Marketing for Red Giant and the Executive Producer of Red Giant Films and, as always, I’m delighted to say welcome back Aharon, it’s good to see you.
Aharon Rabinowitz: Thanks so much for having me.
Larry Jordan: Aharon, the big news which was announced just scant seconds ago, is the new Shooter Suite 13. What’s in this new version?
Aharon Rabinowitz: The biggest thing about it is PluralEyes 4 and I have to say that PluralEyes is very near and dear to me because I was at a trade show once and I was sitting next to Bruce Sharp, the person who created it, and he showed it to me, it was amazing, and I went to the powers that be at Red Giant and I said, “I just saw this amazing thing, I could really use a license of this,” and then a few years later they basically bought the company. I was like, “Just one license was all I wanted.”
Aharon Rabinowitz: PluralEyes, I have to say, is probably the closest thing to magic that Red Giant sells. It does audio/video sync, it does it in seconds and it’s just an amazing product. For the last few weeks, as I’ve been more involved this as Head of Marketing – and I’ve been involved in it from the beginning, but they told me all these things were coming to it and when you finally see them in action, I didn’t think we could really improve the product, but it’s a major overhaul.
Larry Jordan: Wait, wait, wait. I’m confused here, so let’s just slow down a second. We can sync clips, multicam and compound clips, in Premiere and we can sync them in Final Cut. Why would we even want PluralEyes?
Aharon Rabinowitz: That’s a great question and I think the answer is this – have you tried PluralEyes? The first thing they’ll say is if you try PluralEyes, you’ll see the difference instantly. It always works. There are no complications. What this version does in particular is you have a folder full of files, you don’t know what’s linked together, what’s not. You just drag them all into Premier Pro or directly into PluralEyes, and you hit sync, and it figures out what devices things came from and it creates new tracks for each of those things, so you don’t have to be organized at all.
Aharon Rabinowitz: There are a few cases where that may not be the case, but for the most part no thought has to go into it, you just drop the stuff in. PluralEyes does it instantly, it’s a few seconds for a sync, you get visual feedback as it’s going, you know exactly what’s happening – it’s not like some kind of black box where you’re not sure why things are happening – and there are all these different algorithms that PluralEyes can use.
Aharon Rabinowitz: Let’s say your clips aren’t in order or the sound’s not loud enough, it can do all these things and, while it’s always been able to do these things, the new version does them automatically. The user doesn’t have to try to guess any more what it can do. This will look at the sound, look at the video and it will figure it all out and just spit out what you need when it’s done.
Larry Jordan: Now, there’s a new feature you’ve got called Smart Start. I read that twice and I’m still not clear what it does, because I don’t think it can do it. What is it?
Aharon Rabinowitz: Smart Start, literally you can drag a folder full of media and drop it into PluralEyes and it will figure out which media came from which device and create new tracks for that. You could drop whole folders in and it will create tracks based on that folder structure, but the moment you hit sync it will begin to look at all that media, and it will figure out whether or not that media even belongs there and it will begin to arrange it properly.
Larry Jordan: Ok, so let’s just follow this through. I’m recording on a DSLR camera which, as we know, has terrible audio, and I’m recording on a Zoom H4N. So I’ve got the Zoom, which has got audio files in its own little folder structure and I’ve got the Canon, which has got video files in its own little folder structure, and PluralEyes is going to magically find the right audio file to go with the right audio?
Aharon Rabinowitz: Yes. Assuming that you’ve offloaded that stuff onto your computer, because you have to bring it onto your machine, and then you drag those files in. It depends, if you’ve offloaded them all into one folder, which is never an ideal solution but if you happen to have done that, and you just dump that into PluralEyes, PluralEyes will immediately figure out what’s what and arrange things, it will put them in order based on the audio.
Aharon Rabinowitz: There’s one other thing that’s really special about PluralEyes that nothing else in the universe that I know does – there’s a problem that users find, that I have found also. I never understood what it was a long time ago, before Bruce had explained this to me, but there is this problem that audio and video devices don’t always record at exactly the same speed. You experience something called audio drift and it could be just a couple of frames off, but it becomes very obvious as time goes on where people begin to not have their mouth match up with the audio. You can’t sync with that, that’s unsyncable, but PluralEyes can actually catch that and stretch and compress things as needed to make it work perfectly.
Larry Jordan: Aharon, I was just thinking, PluralEyes is a standalone application, so we’ve got to quit out of our editor, do PluralEyes, get back into our editor. Can we do anything to simplify that?
Aharon Rabinowitz: This time around, there’s been some really nice integration with Premiere Pro. In the past there was a script that you’d run within Premiere Pro that would send it over to PluralEyes. Now we just have a panel that opens in Premiere Pro that you just hit ‘synchronize’ and it does the synchronization right there in Premiere Pro. If you wanted to send it over to PluralEyes, maybe you want more visual feedback, you can do that too. But the best thing about that is that it doesn’t actually move your files around and mess up your timeline. It creates a duplicate timeline that is just a synched version of that so that you can go back to your original without having any kind of damage to it. It’s a lot more of an effortless situation for anybody who’s editing in Premiere Pro.
Larry Jordan: Now, this is part of Shooter Suite 13. Is there anything else in the suite that we need to pay attention to besides PluralEyes?
Aharon Rabinowitz: There are other products in the suite. The most notable is Offload, which actually now works with PluralEyes. Offload is a product that you use to just backup your footage, whether it’s in the field or right when you return home. You get back to your station where you’re working, you take your card, you connect it to your computer and you set it where you want it to copy from where and where you want it to go. Offload will copy it and also make an additional duplicate so you have a backup.
Aharon Rabinowitz: The way it works now is PluralEyes will detect any Offload events that you’ve done and you can just click a button and tell PluralEyes to bring in all that media and it will then sync it all up and then you can just send it right out to your editor.
Larry Jordan: I was just reflecting, you guys have had a lot of new announcements. You’ve got Shooter Suite 13, which was announced this week, but you also have done some stuff to Trapcode. What’s happening with Trapcode?
Aharon Rabinowitz: Trapcode we released at the end of last year, Trapcode Suite 13, a major upgrade to the Trapcode suite. What I will tell you is that the thing that I found that people have responded to most about Trapcode Suite 13 is Trapcode Particular, we added a new user interface. We didn’t really change the features of Trapcode Particular but it turned out that people weren’t using some of the best stuff because it was buried so deeply and some of it’s very complex.
Aharon Rabinowitz: So by creating this user interface that’s a little bit like Magic Bullet looks in the sense that you drag in things you want to use, and then you play with the values there and you get results, it’s very visual, it’s very artist driven instead of being numbers and sliders and things like that. You basically have the power of Trapcode Particular that’s always been there but now it’s just really easy to use and fun to use and you get real time feedback.
Aharon Rabinowitz: It depends on what you’re doing. You’re not going to get real time for everything, but you can actually see what you’re doing when you’re making slider, value and color changes. It all happens right in front of you.
Larry Jordan: Red Giant’s been in the plug-in business since forever, helping to define plug-ins in the first place. Are you seeing more interest in things like Trapcode, which are creating effects, or more things like utilities and Plural Eyes and Offload, which are helping us deal with media? Where’s the interest now?
Aharon Rabinowitz: I’ve got to tell you, it’s almost split right down the middle there of what you’ve just described. PluralEyes is probably our most popular single item product. Trapcode Suite is a product full of many products. PluralEyes in and of itself, if there were shelves, it would be flying off of them. People just love it. It solves a problem. I’ve learned this, there’s only one thing you can never have back in life and that is time. You can make money and you can do a lot of things – maybe sleep’s another one, I don’t know – but time is something you can’t have back and PluralEyes really gives that to you. It does in seconds what would take hours or even days and that we see is a tremendous attractor.
Aharon Rabinowitz: On the other hand, visual effects and motion graphics, I have found through my interactions with After Effects users – I ran a group called After Effects New York a long time ago – they’re more passionate about what they do than almost anyone else I’ve met. I know people love editing and they love making films, but I have found that people who create something from nothing, there’s just another way of thinking there and Trapcode has been that kind of thing for them. It’s a tool that they rely on because it lets them create something from nothing.
Larry Jordan: Thinking of something that came from nothing, about two years ago you guys released Red Giant Universe, which was your subscription based program. How’s that doing?
Aharon Rabinowitz: It’s doing great. At the end of last year we released version 1.6. We started in 2014 with 50 effects and 1.6 brought us to a total of 100 effects and it’s constantly growing. It’s full of a lot of great stuff. I’ll tell you, though, I have some fun ones that I love in there. There’s one called VHS, which I see everywhere – Saturday Night Live – I see it on tons of TV shows and commercials where it creates a look of VHS. It’s just so funny, we’re in this digital age and people just want to go back to the way things used to be. But VHS is a great one; there’s one called Retrograde, which gives it the look of 35 millimeter film and they’re very authentic. We worked with the guys at CrumplePop to capture all of the actual real elements that help make these things look real, so it’s great stuff to look at.
Larry Jordan: Why would I have Universe and buy Trapcode? Or why would I have Universe and buy PluralEyes? Aren’t they the same thing?
Aharon Rabinowitz: Red Giant Universe is a set of tools, a very specific set of tools for the editor, and PluralEyes is a different product and it’s not part of Red Giant Universe. Trapcode is obviously something for motion graphics and visual effects people. Universe has a little bit of stuff in there for everybody, but really it’s for editors who are turning stuff around very quickly. It runs on the GPU, there are 100 different kinds of effects to use, a lot of transitions, things like that. I think a lot of wedding people, people doing event videography, people doing cuts for interesting things and trying to transition between shots in TV shows, those are the kinds of things you’ll find people doing with Red Giant Universe.
Aharon Rabinowitz: I’d even venture to say that if I had to define Magic Bullet versus Red Giant Universe, Red Giant Universe is for people who really are editors, who consider themselves editors and are cutting every day and I’d say that Magic Bullet is one of those things that’s kind of across the board, but someone who defines themselves as a filmmaker might find themselves using Magic Bullet more than Red Giant Universe.
Larry Jordan: Which gets me to the last thing I want to talk with you about before we run out of time today. The second half of your title is Executive Producer of Red Giant Films. Having seen your latest action adventure, which is just really cool, why are you guys shooting films?
Aharon Rabinowitz: There are so many reasons to do it, but I’m not going to lie, there’s a great value for us in the product area, which is we use our products to make our films which means we can show them off and we learn about the process of filmmaking and what we can do better in terms of making products and things get born out of that. The last version of Trapcode, we actually created a bunch of stuff in there for a project we were working on, ‘Go Bag.’ We needed gun muzzle flashes and things like that and there weren’t these kinds of features in there that would make it easy to do, so that got put into the product because we know it’s the kind of thing lots of people were doing. We learn that by doing it ourselves, so all round from showing off the products to helping us make the products, it’s a really great experience.
Larry Jordan: Not that you don’t have any fun putting the film together in the first place.
Aharon Rabinowitz: Oh my God, it’s the favorite part of my job. I love it.
Larry Jordan: Tell me about what ‘Go Bag’ is, for people who haven’t seen it.
Larry Jordan: ‘Go Bag’ is a short film directed by Seth Worley, who’s directed most of our short films. It’s a story of a young spy who, after a mission that may or may not have gone bad – it’s not really clear – she accidentally switches her go bag, the bag of tools that she uses to stay out of trouble, guns and passport and money, with somebody else and she has to defend herself with things like a selfie stick and deodorant. It’s can she survive fighting bad guys with what people keep in their normal everyday carryon bag?
Larry Jordan: It is a well done piece with explosions and it’s a low budget film that has a high budget look. You did a really nice job with that.
Aharon Rabinowitz: Thank you, and I have… Seth, who is just an amazing guy to work with and I consider myself lucky just to be around the people at Red Giant in general because they’re so talented and they put thought into everything that they do in making products and making films and I’m just blessed to have that.
Larry Jordan: As Executive Producer, what’s your role?
Aharon Rabinowitz: Often I write the films with Seth. This one I did not, but a lot of it is just making sure that Seth has what he needs and then really just getting out of his way. The film before this, Old/New, which was narrated by Patton Oswalt, Seth and I wrote together, which is probably the most fun I’ve ever had working on anything. He and I were sending stuff back and forth, these rhymes, these very funny jokes, and then when Patton Oswalt agreed to narrate it, I think I might have cried a little bit, honestly. He liked the film with just the temporary narration that Seth had put in.
Aharon Rabinowitz: But for us, this process is just this amazing thing that kind of was born out of an idea to show off what our products do and it’s become a very big part of the essence of what Red Giant is these days.
Larry Jordan: And for people who want to see the films, where can they go on the web?
Aharon Rabinowitz: Head over to redgiant.com/films. Tell them I sent you.
Larry Jordan: And for people who want to learn about the products that Red Giant’s got, where can they go?
Aharon Rabinowitz: Just go to redgiant.com.
Larry Jordan: And Aharon Rabinowitz is the Head of Marketing for Red Giant and the Executive Producer for Red Giant Films at redgiant.com. Aharon, a wonderful chance to visit, thanks so much for taking the time.
Aharon Rabinowitz: Thank you so much for having me, Larry.
Larry Jordan: It’s time for a Buzz Flashback. Five years ago today…
Unknown man (archive): I don’t think there are any key elements, I think it’s just something that’s unexpected, something that’s memorable, something that you would want to share. The big difference with online is a lot of people watch by themselves, whereas we used to all sit around the TV or we’d get together and have parties. Now people tend to watch a lot of content individually but you still want that sharing experience, though, so you’re like, “Ah, Charlie, you’ve got to check this out.”
Larry Jordan: This was a Buzz Flashback.
Larry Jordan: I was just reflecting on the diversity of tonight’s show. We started first with Ned Soltz. I was most impressed with Ned’s comments saying that we just have too many cameras going after too many segments and not only is there confusion but no one particular camera’s generating a whole lot of revenue, which doesn’t help the developers and doesn’t help us. But I was also impressed with his ideas on how to pick the best camera for the different projects we’re working with, whether it’s weddings or run and gun or whether it’s filmmaking or news. Ned’s got some really good ideas and I enjoyed that segment a lot.
Larry Jordan: I also enjoyed Cirina’s comments, Supervising Producer of The Buzz reporting from the Berlinale, about how the theme tends to be politics and how there are a lot of active discussions about what’s happening in the films in the press conferences following them; and Aharon always has great comments, Head of Marketing for Red Giant.
Larry Jordan: There’s a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website, at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Here you’ll find thousands of interviews all online and all available to you today; and please sign up for our free weekly show newsletter.
Larry Jordan: Talk with us on Twitter, @DPBuZZ, and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Our theme music is composed by Nathan Dugie Turner with additional music provided by smartsound.com. Text transcripts are provided by Take 1 Transcription – visit take1.tv to learn how they can help you.
Larry Jordan: Our Supervising Producer is Cirina Catania; our producer is Debbie Price. Our production team is led by Megan Paulos and includes Ed Golya, Keegan Guy, James Miller and Brianna Murphy. Megan Paulos is leaving us after tonight’s show – the studio and this show are what they are because of her energy, her skills and her enthusiasm. She is extraordinarily talented and on behalf of all of us at The Buzz, we wish Meagan the very best and let her know that she’ll be missed. My name is Larry Jordan; thanks for joining us for The Digital Production Buzz.
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