Digital Production Buzz
February 4, 2016
[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]
(Click here to listen to this show.)
BuZZ Flashback: Lance Maurer
Philip Nelson, Chief Relationship Officer, NewTek
Cirina Catania, Producer, Digital Production Buzz
Michael Kammes, Director, Technology & Marketing, Key Code Media
Larry Jordan: Tonight on The Buzz, the NewTek TalkShow is bringing high quality Skype video to live productions on the web and broadcast. But, as we have personally discovered, it can be tricky to set up. Tonight Philip Nelson, the Senior VP of Strategy Development at NewTek, joins us to explain how this new box works and how to make Skype calls look and sound great.
Larry Jordan: Next, Cirina Catania is the Supervising Producer for The Buzz. This month, she is traveling to the Berlin Film Festival and joins us tonight with a preview of the Berlinale and the European film market.
Larry Jordan: Next, Michael Kammes, the Director of Technology at Key Code Media, is fascinated by the cloud. Tonight he shares his thoughts on the cloud based video editing from both Avid and Adobe. Join us as we discover whether this new technology is ready for prime time.
Larry Jordan: All this plus a Buzz Flashback, Tech Talk looks at drones 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 creative content creators covering media production, post production and marketing around the world. It’s good to have you with us. Mike, the first news happened this afternoon – Apple released new versions of Final Cut Motion and Compressor.
Mike Horton: That’s right.
Larry Jordan: And Avid did a big release earlier this week on Media Composer and we’ll hear more about that from Randi.
Mike Horton: That’s right. You’re really following all the news, aren’t you, Larry?
Larry Jordan: Well, it’s because I talk with you before we go on the air. The Final Cut release is mainly a bug fix in terms of what’s in it.
Mike Horton: There’s that one thing, which I don’t know.
Larry Jordan: There are three things, actually.
Mike Horton: Yes, all right, three things? Ok. Well, I was going to do the one thing. Now, what is it? Default video and audio…
Larry Jordan: Yes, it’s a keyboard shortcut for your favorite video effect and audio effect. There are lots of bug fixes, but there’s also support for the XF-AVC format, which is shot by the Canon C300; and the other interesting thing is it’s a lot faster to access projects on a SAN, which means if you’re transferring files between editors it’s a lot quicker.
Mike Horton: That’s a big, big thing.
Larry Jordan: That’s a big thing. Thinking of other big things, Michael, you’re an actor and…
Mike Horton: Was an actor. Now I am just a co-host of the Digital Production Buzz. What the hell happened to my life, Larry? I quit acting for this.
Larry Jordan: I’m left speechless. Anyway, one of the things I hear a lot about in word time is ensemble casts and ensemble acting. ‘The Big Short’ is an ensemble and ‘Spotlight.’ What does ensemble mean and how do you judge if it’s any good?
Mike Horton: Well, you know what an ensemble is, obviously, and the only award for ensemble acting is given out by the Screen Actors’ Guild. Did you know that? That’s the only one. They don’t give an Oscar for ensemble. It’s the leading people in the cast, it is all the people. There’s no one standout, so you give an award to all of the people, so everybody better be really good. ‘The Big Short’ and ‘Spotlight’ are really good examples of good ensembles – everybody works, everybody works well together and that is an ensemble. Same thing with a play. Everybody’s got to work very well with each other.
Larry Jordan: So there’s a sense that nobody stands out, nobody’s the star.
Mike Horton: Yes, nobody’s the star.
Larry Jordan: But all their characters are believable. In other words, it’s a group as a group, they’re believable.
Mike Horton: Right, and everybody listens to each other.
Larry Jordan: Interesting.
Mike Horton: Which is interesting, yes. There is no star.
Larry Jordan: I want to remind you, by the way, to subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Eileen, our editor, has a lot of fun putting every issue together every week. It comes out on Friday and gives you an inside look at The Buzz and the industry. Best of all, every issue is free. Mike and I will be back with Philip Nelson, right after Randi Altman’s Perspective on the News.
Larry Jordan: This is Randi Altman’s Perspective.
Larry Jordan: Randi Altman has been writing about our industry for more than 20 years. In fact, she’s the editor in chief of her own website at postperspective.com and, as always, I’m delighted to say hello Randi, welcome back.
Randi Altman: Hi, Larry, thanks for having me back again.
Larry Jordan: Let’s get right to the news. Audodesk is making big waves today. What’s the word?
Randi Altman: Yes, well yesterday they announced their public company, so they had to release a statement and a press release. They are actually laying off 925 people. This is what they’re calling a restructuring plan. They are intending to transition to the cloud and also subscription based products. They’re saying that it’s not as if they didn’t have a good year last year, but this is something that they need to do to streamline the transition.
Larry Jordan: When do the layoffs occur? Did they say?
Randi Altman: That I don’t know. I actually have some questions into Autodesk but I haven’t heard back yet. I’ll definitely keep you updated as I find out.
Larry Jordan: Cool, and people can go to your website – we’ll talk about that more in just a minute – to get the latest on the breaking news from Autodesk. Avid is making news. What’s Avid talking about?
Randi Altman: They introduced a new version of Media Composer this week and it’s intended to help with HDR workflows, so that’s a big deal. Then in addition to that, they also included the statement that they have made it easier to use for people that might be working on Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere currently. So I think that with this release they’re recognizing that editors aren’t just tied to one system any more, sometimes they have to work on all. So I think that goes to some flexibility issues. They don’t want to be counted out, they want to be part of what’s being used in all fashion, not just on big films or TV series. They want to be used all around.
Larry Jordan: Well, I hate to mention this next subject, but VR rears its ugly head yet again. What’s happening in virtual reality this week?
Randi Altman: Coming off of Sundance, and if you go to my site there is a ton of coverage from Sundance and we talked a bit about that recently as well, but it was a big deal and you’ve got these big film festivals and these big trade shows like CES, which are really embracing VR, so whether or not there’s this giant future – and I know that you’re questioning that – it is happening now. Assimilate announced this week that they have their scratch web, so they have embraced virtual reality with a dailies and review application. They claim it’s the first of its kind, though there have been workarounds in the past, but this is dedicated to that and it’s intended to help make the virtual production workflow from set to post easier.
Larry Jordan: Thinking of nothing in particular, we’re in the middle of the awards shows right now. What’s the latest gossip there?
Randi Altman: Oh, it’s one right after the other, it’s kind of cuckoo. Last Friday was the ACE Eddie Awards, that’s the American Cinema Editors and a lot of times that mirrors what’s going to happen with the Best Editing Oscar, so we’ll see if that rings true. But also this past weekend were the VES awards, which is the Best in Visual Effects, and I know that ILM, who was nominated for a crazy amount of Best Visual Effects Oscars, did come home with some awards. Then we’ve got the ASC awards coming up as well, so chockfull of awards.
Larry Jordan: It seems like we’ve got a bunch of As going on. We’ve got awards, Assimilate and Avid and Autodesk. It’s an A day today. For people who want to keep track of all the breaking news, what website do you recommend they read?
Randi Altman: I think they should go to postperspective.com.
Larry Jordan: And the editor in chief of postperspective.com is Randi Altman and Randi, as always, thanks for joining us. We’ll talk to you next week.
Randi Altman: Thanks, Larry, take care.
Larry Jordan: To read more from Randi Altman, visit postperspective.com.
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Larry Jordan: Live video interviews via Skype are becoming more and more frequent on television and on the web. Philip Nelson, the Chief Relationship Officer at NewTek, joins us tonight to showcase their new TalkShow hardware and explain what we need to know to make Skype interviews look as good as possible. Hello, Philip, welcome back.
Philip Nelson: Hey, how’s it going?
Larry Jordan: Well, now that we’ve got you on and you are looking stunning, it’s going great.
Mike Horton: He actually looks very, very good and I love the Tron machine in the background.
Philip Nelson: It’s a nerd’s paradise in my office.
Mike Horton: No, seriously, what is that? We can’t see it. I can see part of it, is it a video machine?
Philip Nelson: Yes, in my office I have a pinball machine and a Tron upright arcade game and a slot machine, so when you come visit us in San Antonio you’ll never be bored.
Mike Horton: Philip is the kind of guy that you would meet at Comic-Con.
Larry Jordan: Yes, and follow around for the rest of the day.
Mike Horton: And follow, yes.
Philip Nelson: I’m the biggest nerd there.
Mike Horton: Absolutely.
Larry Jordan: Philip, when we first had you on the show in October last year, we had a lot of problems with image quality with TalkShow and we figured out what was causing the problem, and we’ll about that in just a few minutes, but I wanted to invite you back so you could showcase just how good this unit can look. But let’s start with the basics – what is the NewTek TalkShow?
Philip Nelson: Broadcasters for years have brought in remote guests and historically they’ve used satellite uplink and various other technologies which are expensive, not easily accessible and now that there are over 300 million Skype users worldwide, we partnered with Microsoft to create a broadcaster’s interface for Skype. The TalkShow is a one rack unit device that allows you to bring in professional level quality guests via Skype.
Larry Jordan: But Skype is owned by Microsoft. Why is NewTek even interested in Skype?
Philip Nelson: We love Skype. It’s easily accessible. Working with various broadcasters you see now on network television that all the old school ways are doing things are starting to go by the wayside, and they just want to bring in guests from anywhere, anywhere in the world. Whether they’re on a cell phone or a mobile device or sitting in a studio with a camera hooked to a TalkShow, and so we partnered with Microsoft to bring that broadcast level interface for Skype so that it’s not just a 360 resolution image – you can get full High Definition feeds through Skype – and also our partnership with Microsoft has allowed us to add some higher end features. If you’re on a traditional Skype call, somebody may try to call in during the show or you may get ads that pop up. But through our NewTek TalkShow, it blocks out the ads, it blocks out inbound calls, it allows you to get color correction in Skype, it allows you to have audio compressors and limiters and all of these professional features that broadcasters expect now available with Skype. So whether somebody’s calling in from a television studio with Skype or from their laptop or a mobile device, it always looks pretty good.
Larry Jordan: Before I talk more about the hardware, I want to give you an opportunity to be a hero. Are you ready for this?
Philip Nelson: I’m scared, actually.
Larry Jordan: Well, the last time you were on the show, I was complaining about the high price of the unit, which was $3,999 in the US and during the show you promptly dropped the price $1,000, so can you drop it another $1,000 again today?
Philip Nelson: I can’t be that big of a hero, but the thousand bucks is what we gave you. Tough crowd.
Larry Jordan: When I wrote my initial review of the TalkShow, when you and I first started chatting in August and September, I complained about the poor image quality. But as you can see now, the image quality is really quite good, and what we discovered at our end is that the TalkShow is not compatible with all firewalls. We were originally using Dell SonicWALL, which didn’t work, and when we switched to Fortinet, which we’re using tonight for the show, the TalkShow works great. So my question is because firewalls are not under NewTek’s control but are part of the operation of getting the TalkShow to look good, does NewTek provide a list of approved firewalls that people can select from when they’re buying a TalkShow?
Philip Nelson: We really don’t, and the main reason for that is that firewalls change very quickly, and technology and IT change very quickly, and not just the hardware but they’ll do firmware updates that can change things, so we don’t specifically have a list. But we do have a document on NewTek’s website with some things to look for if you’re having issues with your quality, and one of the first things to look for is your firewall, and the ports that are open and things like that, to make sure you’re trying to get the highest quality possible. Actually, one of the benefits of TalkShow and using Skype is that even if your firewall’s not configured correctly or you have some issues, the call still comes in. In Skype, there are a couple of different types of connection and you can connect through public internet, but if you can get a direct connection using a UDP connection, you can get this High Definition video that we’re seeing today. That is one of the benefits. You weren’t able to get the high quality because of the firewall, but you were still able to get the guest and in a news situation a lot of times getting that guest is the most important thing. They want to get as high a quality as possible, but the scalability of Skype and the TalkShow solution, even if you can’t get that pristine connection, you can still get a connection. I was super bummed that we didn’t have that figured out for you before the last time I was on your show.
Larry Jordan: You were bummed, I was bummed and everybody that I talked to at NewTek was not happy, so we’re very glad that we figured it out. But I want to pick on you for one more hard question.
Philip Nelson: Ok, I’m scared again.
Larry Jordan: Set up and configuration can be challenging, you’ve mentioned this. For instance, it took our team almost a month, working with your support folks, to get the system working properly, just to be able to do simple communication because it’s not a simple box to work with. What can NewTek do to simplify the set up process to make it go easier for new users?
Philip Nelson: The definition of easy to set up can have an asterisk by it because, truthfully, setting up the TalkShow is very simple. What’s not simple is IT, and so plugging in the TalkShow, plugging in a camera, plugging in a microphone, setting up a light is actually very simple. Getting a Skype account is very simple. Probably I would say 80, 90 percent of our clients plug and play and they’re set up in five minutes, and every now and then we find a router or a firewall or something that we have some issues with, and our techs are really good about trying to figure that out or at least trying to give our customers some pointers on where they can look or have their IT people look. Those 15 percent do become frustrating but, once again, we were both able to figure it out and I’m excited that now you’re sitting here talking to me in High Def.
Larry Jordan: We are as well. Thinking of High Def, tell me about the equipment that we’re looking at. What are you using at your end for a camera and for audio?
Philip Nelson: I’m not using anything fancy. The camera I’m using is a Canon VIXIA that I got at Best Buy, so I’m not using a high end camera. It’s HDMI going into a $30 box I picked up from Amazon that converts HDMI to HD-SDI, plugged into the TalkShow. I’ve got a wireless Lavalier mic plugged into the TalkShow. I’ve got two lights, an Ikan 12 by 6 LED light that I’m pointing at and then I have another one up here on the ceiling just to give me a little bit of a fill; and then the lights you see behind me are actually the lights in my office, so I don’t have a fancy set up, it’s very simple. That’s the concept, especially with talk shows like yours even ‘Ellen DeGeneres’ or ‘The Late Late Show,’ they’re bringing in guests from all over the place, it could be fans or it could be professional broadcasters, and that’s what’s cool about this solution, that it’s scalable. But I’m not using anything fancy, like I said, it’s a $100 tripod, a $600 camera, some lights and a mic and then I also bought an $8 earpiece from Amazon that security people use for their walkie talkies, and I plugged it into a long 3.5 millimeter extension cable and I got an adapter to plug it into the output of the TalkShow so that I can actually look like I know what I’m doing.
Larry Jordan: I think I’ve got the same earpiece on my system here, but it sounds like – and I want to be clear – you’re going direct to the TalkShow. You don’t even have a computer in the circuit.
Philip Nelson: No. Basically I just plugged everything into the TalkShow, plugged my TalkShow into my hub in my office and called you guys. It’s as simple as that.
Larry Jordan: And you just have an external monitor and keyboard attached to the Skype set up in the beginning?
Philip Nelson: Yes. I just plugged a keyboard and mouse directly into the TalkShow, plugged in a monitor and here we are doing a chat. One of the things that I do want to talk about that really makes the TalkShow a superior choice, even over satellite uplink, is the latency because our latency that we’re connected at right now is less than 30 milliseconds, and one of the problems with old school technology like satellite uplink even is the delay is so great. You even see on the ‘Today’ show and national news shows, where they’re using millions of dollars’ worth of equipment, there’s a delay when they ask questions, but you and I are just sitting here talking like I’m sitting in the room with you and I hear you perfectly.
Mike Horton: I was just about to bring that up, because not only is there a delay, there’s also a sync problem with the mouth and the lips and it drives everybody nuts. We’re talking about national news, the ‘Today’ show, we’re talking about network talk shows. They bring these people on and you have a sync problem with the lips. With TalkShow, obviously, because we’re talking to you, there is no delay and it’s absolutely wonderful.
Philip Nelson: That’s what’s great, is you can actually just sit there and have a discussion. You’ll notice on network news they’ll say, “John is live in New Orleans. John,” and they’re not really having a discussion, they’re tossing to each other because of the delay. But here you can actually have a two way communication. I mentioned this last time – one of the shows that we did as one of our debut shows with the TalkShow was a variety show on NBC called ‘Best Time Ever’ with Neil Patrick Harris and they had a TalkShow in New York and a TalkShow in a fan’s house and it was a live karaoke show. They had Bonnie Tyler on stage playing ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ and she would stop and the person at home would have to continue singing what she was singing and because we had such a high end low latency connection they could do that. It’s really nice to live here in the future where these things are possible and it doesn’t cost you millions of dollars. I realize our TalkShow is $2995, which is out of the reach of the average guy at home, but anybody doing a real show can actually afford it, they can afford multiple TalkShows to have multiple guests at the same time, and if you do the call correctly, and you set it up correctly, you can have multiple guests talking to each other through Skype. It is pretty revolutionary.
Mike Horton: The guests that we’re talking to, Larry, they don’t need TalkShow, right? It’s just us.
Philip Nelson: No.
Larry Jordan: No, you can have a Skype call originate from your computer, which is how the rest of our guests except Philip originate theirs.
Mike Horton: Yes, but Philip’s got TalkShow, we’ve got TalkShow. Is that making any difference?
Larry Jordan: Philip, answer?
Philip Nelson: It can make a very big difference. Where it makes the difference is on the way it’s configured with return video and things like that. If I’m at home on my laptop or I have a little 1080 webcam plugged into my computer, you have less control. If I’m talking to you through my TalkShow, I can color correct what’s coming back into me, I can adjust your audio levels a little better. You don’t really have to have the TalkShow on our end, but because we’re talking about technology I thought I’d bring out the big guns and bust out my TalkShow for my feed as well.
Mike Horton: Oh, ok. So if you’re a news reporter in Afghanistan, we’re talking to you live on NBC News, if you have TalkShow, they’ve got TalkShow, are we going to get a better product?
Philip Nelson: You’re going to get a more reliable connection, but you don’t have to have it. Odds are, if they’re out in the warzone in Afghanistan, half the time they’re on a mobile device, they’re not carrying a generator or anything like that. But we are seeing more and more television trucks add in a TalkShow so that they can connect back. The other thing is I can call you a little easier, I can have a call list, I can have multiple call lists in my TalkShow, but you can also do that with the standard version of Skype.
Larry Jordan: What kind of bandwidth do we need to be able to support a high quality picture, both 720 and 1080?
Philip Nelson: You know what? I should have prepped a little better. I think it’s something like three megabits. It’s nothing crazy. I’ve done TalkShow connections at high res. In fact, the NBC show we did, they did not upgrade anybody’s internet connection at their house. They just used their standard cable modems that were in the houses and were able to get high def connections at all the houses.
Larry Jordan: Once we’ve changed our firewalls, the quality that the TalkShow provides is really amazing. We’re having a great lot of fun playing with it. The only limitation which I have to ask you to change by next Tuesday, if you would, is it only supports one Skype call at a time. I want to talk to two people at the same time. Can you fix that?
Philip Nelson: That’s a request we get a lot. It’s not a request that NewTek can fix. It’s actually part of Skype. Skype isn’t set up in this version to allow you to do multiple callers on one box.
Mike Horton: What about on Google Chat or something else besides Skype? Do you support those?
Philip Nelson: No. This is a product that was co-designed with Microsoft. It is a Skype product and one of the reasons Skype is so important is that, like I said at the beginning, there are over 300 million Skype users and you have access to all of those Skype users out of the box, directly from the TalkShow. This is a product we developed with Microsoft. Skype is an integral part of that and that’s what makes the magic happen.
Larry Jordan: So just to confirm, because we’ve got a question on our live chat, it takes HD-SDI for video signal in, it takes a standard XLR connector for your audio, so basically a feed coming out of a video switcher or a NewTek box or a standard audio signal coming out of an audio mixer and it works easily.
Philip Nelson: Actually, one of the real benefits of this is that is does support analog audio as well as embedded SDI audio, so it depends on how you’re set up. If you are in a one large television truck, one of the challenges of using Skype in the past was getting a quality return video back to your guests. A lot of times people would just set up a webcam in the studio so they could at least see the studio, but in this configuration with the TalkShow product, you can take that program out of your show, give them embedded SDI audio from the show or do analog audio, so you have choices. That’s what I love about it, is it’s very flexible. If your internet bandwidth is bad, you can still get a call. If you don’t have embedded SDI audio, you can plug a mic directly in and you’re good to go. You just have a lot of choices with how it’s configured and how it’s used. As you well know, when you’re dealing with guests all over the world, flexibility is pretty important.
Larry Jordan: Absolutely, and for people who want to learn more about the TalkShow, where can they go on the web?
Philip Nelson: You can go to www.newtek.com.
Larry Jordan: And the TalkShow is a hardware box from NewTek and Philip Nelson is the Chief Relationship Officer at NewTek. Philip, thanks for joining us today, this has been a fun conversation.
Philip Nelson: Larry and Mike, thanks for having me, and I think we should win an award for an ensemble cast just for this segment.
Mike Horton: Absolutely.
Larry Jordan: You were paying attention, you get a gold star. Philip, take care, we’ll talk to you soon.
Philip Nelson: Have a great night, guys.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
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Larry Jordan: Cirina Catania is the Supervising Producer of The Buzz, as well as a filmmaker, a journalist and former Senior Executive with United Artists and MGM. She’s also one of the founders of the Sundance Film Festival and today she’s coming to us live from Belgium, where she is, well, we’re going to say she’s filming one of her documentaries, but what she’s actually doing there – we’ll find out more in just a minute. Hello, Cirina, welcome.
Cirina Catania: Hi, Larry, from Belgium.
Larry Jordan: Yes, I tell you, you are peripatetic. You were in California just a couple of days ago and you’re en route to the Berlinale, which we’ll talk about more in just a second. But, you know, I was just thinking, now that you’ve been in Europe for all of 24 hours, what is it that strikes you about television in Europe?
Cirina Catania: I’m always blown away by how much influence the United States has all over the world and we were watching some television last night, I was watching the Belgian version of ‘The Voice,’ and I’m not talking about an American ‘Voice’ with subtitles, the Belgian version of ‘The Voice,’ and I know they have several versions. It just struck me that there’s so much US programming but that there’s also programming that has been influenced by the United States that’s running here.
Larry Jordan: I know that you’re just stopping in Belgium for a day or two and heading off to Berlinale after that. What’s happening at the Berlin Film Festival?
Cirina Catania: I call it my guilty pleasure every year because to me it is one of the most prominent festivals in the world. I just found out today their budget for the festival is 23 million Euros on average every year.
Larry Jordan: Oh my goodness.
Cirina Catania: I know, it’s huge. But what’s even more interesting is that the German federal government, the Commission on Culture and Media, provides almost seven million of that, so that tells you how much the government is really behind the filmmaking, and television and artistic community in Germany, and that’s why I think so much talent is recruited from there.
Larry Jordan: How would you differentiate between Sundance, which I know you have a lot of familiarity with, and Berlinale and, say, Cannes? Are they all the same, just different cities, or are they different?
Cirina Catania: I would say of all of those festivals, the Berlin Film Festival is the one that really brings a true love of film. Matter of fact, here in Berlin during the competition the press that are there refer to the films as the country that they originate in. So they’ll say, “Have you seen the German film yet?” or “Have you seen the Filipino film?” or “Have you seen the American film yet?” It’s really interesting; and also for me as a director, I’m always struck by how much they respect directors here. They talk about the directors and there’s really a lot of homage towards directors here, but in Berlin they screen over 400 films in various categories. To give you a picture of Berlin, you have the major competition, which I really enjoy and in ten days, I’m going see about 25 films; but they also have the retrospectives and they have a lot of independent and arthouse film for what they call the Panorama. Then they have a whole section of films just for young audiences and made by young people. We’ve had the head of the German cinema section on The Buzz. There’s a whole lot of shorts and then they have the Forum, which is really the experimental and avant-garde films. Also this year, they’re going to do indigenous films from all over the world and if that doesn’t solve your appetite for films, there’s also a whole series of films called Culinary Cinema, so you can pretty much have anything you want. In a way, it’s like putting a very hungry person in front of a huge smorgasbord. Meryl Street’s head of the jury this year.
Larry Jordan: What does the jury do?
Cirina Catania: The jury for the competition, actually my little group sits every year right behind the jury in the Grand Palast, and the jury, I think there are eight of them, watch all the films and then they deliberate and then they vote on the film, so the jury’s very, very powerful. This is for the main competition films. Meryl Streep is there and there’s a famous German actor, Lars Eidinger, the UK film critic Nick James. I’m excited because the French photographer Brigitte Lacombe is going to be there, and then you probably know Clive Owen from the UK, then an Italian actress, Alba Rohrwacher, and a Polish filmmaker who’s won many awards and she actually got the Silver Bear last year for Best Director, Małgorzata Szumowska. I hope I’m pronouncing her name right.
Cirina Catania: You know what else, Larry? They’re screening 77 documentaries in a Meet the Docs series over at the EFM. I’m particularly torn this year because you know I love doing documentaries and, in fact, I am working on one here in Belgium, but there’s a whole section on financing and distribution where they bring experts from all over the world to talk about that.
Larry Jordan: But there’s a separate issue that I want to have you talk about very quickly. There’s the film festival, where people are able to watch films, the 400 films that you talked about, but there’s also the film market, which is of interest to filmmakers, because it’s how they can turn their films into cash. What’s that?
Cirina Catania: Exactly. The EFM is about, I don’t know, 400 companies coming from all over the world and they have about 8,000 buyers. I don’t know how many they’re going to have this year but I believe last year it was 8,000 buyers came from 95 countries. Simultaneously, they have the coproduction market and the Berlinale talent, so on the money making side and the distribution side you have an entire huge venue that’s not too far away from where we’re going to be screening all the competition films, but that’s where those 77 documentaries are going to be. So if you want to know anything about documentaries you’re going to be over there watching the panels, and listening to what they say about who’s paying what and how much. So there’s the money side and then there’s the creative side and, for me, I hear a lot – because of what we do on The Buzz and because of where I migrate during the year – I hear a lot about the finance and distribution, but for me the pure joy of the creative of some of the best films that are coming in from all corners of the world, that to me is the inspiration that drives everything.
Larry Jordan: What determines if a film is accepted for screening? Because I suspect, like most film festivals, there are more entries than there are slots.
Cirina Catania: There are, and that is a yearly mystery because nobody says anything about why they particularly pick these films. But the committee that picks the films, every year we go in and we start watching movies, and we tend to be very, very critical about why they picked this, why they picked that, but by the time the festival’s over and you’ve seen these 20 to 30 films in competition, it’s just amazing. But, no, there really seems to be no formula, but that’s part of the beauty of it, because you can never predict what you’re going to see. They are amazing films though, that’s something. We don’t always agree on what we like or dislike and it’s really interesting because after the films you’ll see press people, and filmgoers, and filmmakers huddled in groups, like we were in the old days at Sundance, just discussing the films and really dissecting them. It’s just pure art form.
Larry Jordan: It sounds like a wonderful, wonderful time. When does the festival start?
Cirina Catania: It actually starts in a few days. I think the official day is the 12th. I’m going over in a couple of days, I’m working here for a couple more days, and then I’m going to migrate to Berlin by train and I’m actually this year doing something really interesting. I’m not going to film video with a big camera. I’m taking my iPad Pro and I’m going to do my interviews using the iPad Pro, which is something totally different for me, but I think it’s going to be less rigorous; and, of course, I’ll have a lot of stills I’ll take with the two stills cameras I take with me. But the iPad Pro on a tripod with a connection to the tripod and then I’ll do my sound using some of the Sennheiser rigs, most likely.
Larry Jordan: It sounds like a wonderful time. What we’d like to do is bring you back next week to get an update on what’s happening at the Berlinale Film Festival. Cirina, where can people go to keep track of you on the web?
Cirina Catania: Go to thecataniagroup.com or filmvault.biz.
Larry Jordan: That’s thecataniagroup.com and Cirina Catania herself, Supervising Producer for The Buzz and peripatetic traveler about the world. Cirina, thanks for joining us today.
Cirina Catania: Thanks, Larry. Goodnight.
Larry Jordan: Take care.
Larry Jordan: Welcome to Tech Talk.
Larry Jordan: Well, here we are in our opulent back yard. We’ve got a DJI Inspire 1 drone and before we take off, let’s explain what some of this stuff is. What are we looking at here?
Zach: This is one of the advanced drones in the market right now. It has GPS satellites, it has about a two and a half mile range, it has a built in camera that can shoot up to 4K. It’s incredible. The new camera that they just came out with for this actually has a Micro Four Thirds sensor, so you can put your own lenses on it. It’s really one of the most sophisticated drones on the market.
Larry Jordan: Let’s look at the components. I notice it’s got four propellers and I’ve seen drones with as many as eight. What determines the number of propellers and are the propellers replaceable if one breaks?
Zach: Yes, the propellers on this are plastic, they can be either plastic or carbon fiber if you have custom made ones. The reason that this one has four is because it has a smaller payload, it’s made to be more compact. The larger ones will have either six or eight propellers. They’re probably about twice the size of this and can carry up to a RED or a DSLR, a lot of them carry DSLRs. But this doesn’t need eight, that’s too much.
Larry Jordan: What’s the central housing here?
Zach: Central housing here holds the battery in the back and then the rest of this is just mechanics and for structural integrity.
Larry Jordan: And I also notice that the legs lift up and down – we’ll see that in just a minute. How about the camera and the gimbal? What’s happening under there?
Zach: With this camera, it’s on a three axis gimbal to keep it steady like this, no matter where you’re moving. With a second operator and another controller, what you can do is have a second operator controlling the camera to move a full 360 all the way around. It tilts up and down, sideways like that also. So if you went in for a cool effect, you have a locked off version where it’ll stay perfectly straight and with the telemetry of the drone, so if you turn it turns and it looks like you’re flying a plane. It’s a neat effect that works every once in a while, but typically for everything I do I keep it unlocked so it’s just as steady as it can be.
Larry Jordan: Well, we’ve seen the drone. What I want do see is what you’re wearing around the neck. To solve that, let me just put the drone on the ground.
Zach: Totally fine.
Larry Jordan: And I’ll put that here. What do we have here?
Zach: This is the DJI controller. It connects as a monitor through the DJI Go app. When you open it up, it has a lot of really important information not only about the actual drone itself and the camera, but it has really good safety tutorials on there. That’s really important to read if you’re a first time pilot. You can also do a flight simulation through the app where, instead of actually flying your drone, if you want to get comfortable with the controls you can actually through the app do flight simulation.
Larry Jordan: What about the section below it? What are the controllers below the app?
Zach: The controls below it, you’ve got a very simple power button and DJI is very intelligent with its batteries, so you can’t just press it once and it turns on. You press it once and then you press and hold it and then it’ll turn everything on. You’ve got your controls, which are very simple. They’re both eight directional controllers so you can go in either direction. One controls your height and the direction that it turns – your yaw – and then the other is just basic forward, backward, left and right.
Zach: This is your home button, so if you’re ever out of sight of your drone, it’s very important to keep a line of sight with the drone, it’s part of FAA regulations on learning how to fly, you press the home button and it will come back to you and land itself. If it’s close enough and in your line of sight, you can actually cancel it in the app and regain control over it.
Zach: On the back side of this – I’ll turn it around so you can see – you can see that your control are sent with two really strong antennas. You have a record button, a couple of little switches and buttons that do random things. This will control the tilt of the gimbal, so pointing the camera up or down, and then on the bottom here you have another USB port and there’s actually an HDMI port so you can do HDMI out to a monitor, so you can bring a 50 inch 4K TV with you to a set.
Larry Jordan: Ok, well let’s turn the power off and have you put this back on again and I’ll put the drone back up. Let’s turn the power on and let’s get this ready to fly.
Zach: Ok, so what I’m going to do is do the same thing as we did on the controller, we’re going to press the power button once and then press and hold it. That will turn it on and it’s going to start searching for satellites and running through its system check, making sure the gimbal’s calibrated, the compass is calibrated and all that. Here we go.
Larry Jordan: Let’s get this ready to take off. I’m going to pick it up and move it over to here, give ourselves a safe position to be in. There you go.
Larry Jordan: In his current role as the Director of Technology for Key Code Media, Michael Kammes consults in the latest in technology and best practices in digital media and, I’m delighted to say, he’s also a regular on The Buzz. Hello, Michael, welcome back.
Michael Kammes: Hi Larry, good evening, how are you?
Larry Jordan: I am delighted to be talking to you. It’s been a while but getting you to stay still is really tough. You’re here now, but now you’re leaving for the Editors’ Retreat in scant seconds. What’s the Editors’ Retreat and why are you going?
Michael Kammes: The Editors’ Retreat is a gathering of excellent editors from all around the country and the world to talk about technology, but not just technology. It’s more based on creation – best practices for editing, how to craft those certain scenes – and I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to speak there on cloud based editing technology.
Larry Jordan: Wait a minute, say that again.
Michael Kammes: Cloud based editing technology.
Larry Jordan: That’s almost like an oxymoron, isn’t it? Cloud based and editing don’t belong in the same sentence. What are you talking about?
Michael Kammes: It’s the ability to edit where you want, when you want, so you no longer have to go to those ugly square edit bays that are dimly lit. You now can sit on your couch or, as I do, sit on my couch with my puppy and edit and sit in my comfy slippers and enjoy my house while I can edit.
Larry Jordan: Let me get this straight. What you’re allowing editors to do is to edit wherever they want without tying them to the edit bay, but that really requires access to your media just about anywhere. How do we manage to make that work?
Michael Kammes: It’s very difficult but, yes, the Holy Grail is to be able to sit where you want, when you want and edit. There are a couple of different ways to do that. We have the traditional cloud paradigm, and when I say cloud I mean someone else’s storage in the cloud and you upload your media there and then you edit in a browser which is notoriously lacking in terms of feature set. Then we also have the more robust methodology which is the media sits at home base, and you sit at home, and you pull the media from your home base, and that’s when you get to use tools like Avid and Adobe. Then we have hybrid models like Avid, that also has Media Composer UX, which allows you to edit in a browser but still using the media back at the mothership.
Larry Jordan: It sounded to me, up until you used the word Avid, like you were describing Adobe Anywhere, which is a server based ability to feed, I don’t want to say proxies, but feed your media anywhere. Is this what we’re talking about here?
Michael Kammes: That’s what the most common methodology is and both Avid and Adobe have similar technologies, which is where the media sits at your data center, usually within the four walls of your facility, and it goes through a traditional local editorial process – logging, etcetera – but the editors can then take their laptops and go remote and log in to the media from remote as if they were local and then edit that media, which is streamed to their system in real time.
Larry Jordan: Are they working with proxy files? How are they able to get access to the media and have a good enough image so they can make editorial decisions? I’m not saying master quality, but good enough.
Michael Kammes: That’s where it gets a little tricky and where it varies from solution to solution. If you look at Adobe Anywhere, this is always looking at the higher… media and in real time is using the Mercury Playback engine, what they call the Mercury streaming engine, to actually generate these proxies on the fly, so it’s not a low res/high res relink methodology, it’s actually just a low res file that’s been created on the fly, so you’re not dealing with two different types of files. When we deal with Avid, this has a couple of different variants that they can stream to your system in real time, so it does have a little bit of an online/offline methodology.
Larry Jordan: You’re using the word streaming in both cases. Originally you talked about the fact that we could store the files on a cloud server somewhere, accessed via a browser, but the interface and the response time is pretty bad. But both Avid and Adobe are streaming – does that solve some of the security issues of having access to the media, preventing access to people who shouldn’t have unauthorized access to it?
Michael Kammes: There comes a point in time where there’s diminishing returns. How many times has YouTube tried to prevent people from downloading files and people still get to them? There’s a point of diminishing returns for doing that. Both Avid and Adobe have rules set in place that may prevent the end user from exporting a file. Will that stop a user from using a screen recording application and recording something? No, it’s not going to stop them at all.
Larry Jordan: No, my fault, it’s a really good answer but to the wrong question. I’m much more concerned about security of the dailies. Think of the ‘Harry Potter’ movies or ‘Star Wars,’ where security was everything on making sure people didn’t see the movie before it was released. How do you prevent unauthorized access to the raw footage that’s part of the editorial process?
Michael Kammes: There are two ways. One is internet abstinence, which is you simply don’t use remote editing for these kinds of films. I don’t think even in ten years, when another ‘Star Wars’ prequel or sequel comes out, that they’re going to allow remote editing, there are just too many things to take into consideration for security. But on projects where security isn’t as high, you can use things like VPN. A VPN is a virtual private network and it allows a secure handshake between your local machine and the mothership, and that can weed out unwarranted and unscrupulous folks. But the best practice is internet abstinence and don’t have your machines online.
Larry Jordan: Ok, so for projects which are not highly security conscious, what are we trading off for remote editing as opposed to coming into the edit bay and being able to access our masters directly?
Michael Kammes: Usually, Larry, it’s latency, the delay between a key press and what you’re seeing on the screen. Editors are all about speed and a lot of times when latency is introduced, there can be hell to pay because I don’t get that immediate gratification of playback. When you’re sitting across the country, there can be latency in there, so there has to be the expectation of a slight delay when we look at these full complete systems. There are also little things like some of your filters may not be on both systems, some fonts may not be there, so you have to understand that because you get to sit in your fuzzy slippers on your warm comfortable couch, there are going to be some performance tradeoffs for the time being.
Larry Jordan: While your dog keeps you company.
Michael Kammes: Yes.
Larry Jordan: When is remote editing appropriate? When would you recommend it?
Michael Kammes: Right now, I’m a big fan of it for predators, so those folks who are producers and editors, who want to do string-outs or logging or non-complex editorial, the pre-edit, as it were. I think that’s a fantastic way to start using these tools because you don’t need a robust toolset, you just need to see it and log it. I think for unscripted television, where you are doing string-outs of scenes and logging an immense amount of footage, I think that’s the sweet spot right now.
Larry Jordan: What hardware do we need to pull this off?
Michael Kammes: Because there are a couple of different methodologies, if we’re looking at the more traditional Avid Interplay or Avid Everywhere and the Adobe Anywhere, we’re looking at the traditional systems that you would need to run the software locally because at the end of the day you are still running that software locally, you’re just pulling the media from a remote location. So you’re going to need, and I hope I don’t annoy any of your sponsors by saying this, 80 to 100 grand. It’s going to start there, there’s no way around that. You’ll need a system that’s capable of running your Premiere or your Avid system and you’ll need a decent internet connection. Editing at your coffee shop, not so much right now. You’re probably going to need a good 40 to 50 megabits a second for a decent picture.
Larry Jordan: Wait, say that internet bandwidth again.
Michael Kammes: 40 to 50 megabits a second, which would be a cable modem running to your house. That’s pretty common.
Larry Jordan: Michael, I was just thinking, there’s got to be more than one way to do remote or cloud based editing. Are there typical ways that we can do this?
Michael Kammes: Yes, there are three main ways as I see it. There’s the more traditional cloud editing paradigm, which is all your media is sitting in a third party data center and you edit in a browser. That’s the best way I can think of to describe it, pure cloud editing, someone else’s cloud. The second one would be remote editing, which is slightly different, and that’s where the media actually sits in your data center, usually within your facility, and then when you’re sitting at home editing, you’re pulling everything via the internet from your mothership, from your office, as opposed to a third party hosted cloud; and that media can either be high res or low res depending on what solution you’re working with.
Michael Kammes: Another solution I find very interesting, and Michael Bay actually used it on ‘Transformers,’ is something by Teradici, and that uses the PCoIP methodology, the PC over IP. Your viewers out there may be familiar with TeamViewer and Remote Desktop and it’s very similar to that, only Teradici has hardware on both ends and makes sure your color’s good, you have sustained frame rate, the audio is good, so it’s like you’re sitting in front of your bay only you have a terminal at your house. It’s almost a throwback to the ’70s and the mainframe topology.
Larry Jordan: I was thinking the same thing. Mainframes have reared their ugly heads, except now they’re on laptops.
Michael Kammes: Completely.
Larry Jordan: Michael, is this beta technology or is it being used in real life?
Michael Kammes: It’s a balance of both. If you look a few years ago, a company called Forbidden had a product called Forscene, which is actually editing in a browser and all the media’s in a cloud. That was used extensively with the Olympics several years ago. Avid Interplay, also known as Avid Everywhere, since it’s closely tied into newsroom automation, it’s been used quite a bit for string-outs and remote shoots and whatnot. That being said, Adobe Anywhere is only two years old, and other solutions are still being beta tested right now to find out what can work in a real world environment and what’s just a pipe dream.
Larry Jordan: I’d love to sit in on this session at Editors’ Retreat, it sounds fascinating. For people who can attend, where can they go on the web to learn more?
Michael Kammes: They can go to editorsretreat.com or they can follow me on Twitter and I’ll have all the information there, and that’s @michaelkammes.
Larry Jordan: And do you have a website people should pay attention to?
Michael Kammes: That same name, michaelkammes.com.
Larry Jordan: And the Michael Kammes himself is the Director of Technology for Key Code Media and about to catch a plane heading east. Michael, thanks for joining us today and I wish you safe travels and have a wonderful speech.
Michael Kammes: Thanks, Larry. See you next time.
Larry Jordan: It’s time for a Buzz Flashback. Five years ago today…
Lance Maurer (archive): New Mexico Post Alliance is basically an organization here in New Mexico made up of post production professionals and some people that are also shooting in the field. Our aim here is to essentially make the soil better for future post facilities that might want to move here and also to give ourselves lots of information and educate ourselves as to all the latest technology.
Larry Jordan: This was a Buzz Flashback.
Larry Jordan: It was interesting during the Tech Talk, when we were talking about drones, how all of a sudden everybody stopped moving and we were all watching the monitor together. They’re fascinating pieces of gear and give us shots that we can’t get anywhere else.
Mike Horton: You went to CES, you’re one of the few people that I know who actually went, along with the 120,000 other people, but you said that just about every booth that you went to had drones.
Larry Jordan: Oh, they were everywhere. They were like little ants, you couldn’t step anywhere without stepping on a drone. There was one booth, and they’re going to hate me because I don’t remember the name of the product, but their entire stage demo was drones. At one point they had a synchronized drone flying. There were 15 drones in three rows of five and they were going forward and back.
Mike Horton: Seriously? Was that one of those demonstrations where drones won’t run into each other, kind of thing?
Larry Jordan: They were dancing. The drones were dancing up and down, forward and back, then these two wheeled devices were rolling all over the floor and they could flip themselves up a step and so they were flipping up steps and flipping down steps. It was really quite fun to watch.
Mike Horton: That thing you were showing, that was part of a webinar that you were doing on drones, right?
Larry Jordan: Yes, we did it two weeks ago.
Mike Horton: Have you actually used the unit and flown a drone?
Larry Jordan: I have never flown a drone. I have touched a drone, that’s as close as I’ve come, and we looked at the unit. But that was a $6,000 drone that he was flying and I was not about to do flying lessons on something that expensive.
Mike Horton: Especially when there’s concrete everywhere.
Larry Jordan: But Zach was a great guest.
Mike Horton: No, that was a great segment. That was a really cool segment.
Larry Jordan: In the webinar, we had two parts of it. One was talking about how you license a drone and the rules changed on December 22nd.
Mike Horton: The rules are changing all the time. It’s now really hard. But the really cool thing is that little GPS thing that’s in all drones now, or supposed to be in all drones now. If you get into a no fly zone, it actually stops.
Larry Jordan: And comes back to you.
Mike Horton: Well, I think it stops. I’m not really sure but I know it stops. But that’s amazing. That’s just amazing. It still kind of pisses me off.
Larry Jordan: Well, we’ll add that to your list of Christmas presents.
Mike Horton: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests for today: Philip Nelson, the Chief Relationship Officer at NewTek, Cirina Catania, Supervising Producer at The Digital Production Buzz, and Michael Kammes, Director of Technology at Key Code Media.
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 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 show producer is Debbie Price. Our engineering team is led by Megan Paulos and includes Ed Golya, Keegan Guy, James Miller and Brianna Murphy. On behalf of the handsome guy on the other side of the table, Mr. Mike Horton, my name is Larry Jordan and thanks for joining us for The Digital Production Buzz.
Mike Horton: Goodbye, everybody.
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