Digital Production Buzz
March 3, 2016
[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]
(Click here to listen to this show.)
BuZZ Flashback: Benjamin Carlu
Cirina Catania, Supervising Producer, Digital Production Buzz
Melissa Davies-Barnett, CEO, Arc 9
George Oliver, Co-Founder, Movidiam
Larry Jordan: Tonight on The Buzz, we’re talking about the cloud and how to use it for collaboration, project management and client review. We start with Cirina Catania, an award winning independent filmmaker, on how she’s used cloud based collaboration software, along with her thoughts on a documentary earning the Best of Show award of the 2016 Berlinale.
Larry Jordan: Next, George Olver is the co-founder of Movidiam, a creative network that allows brands, agencies and filmmakers across the globe to connect, collaborate and create films. This week, he explains what Movidiam is, why ad agencies and filmmakers are joining the Movidiam community and how it simplifies collaboration and project management.
Larry Jordan: Next, Melissa Davies-Barnett is a post production industry veteran, a co-founder of Side Effects Inc and now the co-founder and CEO of Arc 9. Arc 9 is an online service designed for collaboration and simplifying the creative workflow and client reviews.
Larry Jordan: All this plus Tech Talk, a Buzz Flashback and Randi’s 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: Tonight, we’re talking the cloud and collaboration. We’ll start with Cirina Catania. Not only is she the Supervising Producer of The Buzz, but as an independent filmmaker she’s been using cloud services for a while. We’ll talk with her about her experiences, what works and what doesn’t. Also, because she just got back from the Berlinale Film Festival in Berlin, I want to get her reactions to what she saw.
Larry Jordan: Then we’ll talk to two new cloud service providers – Movidiam and Arc 9. Each wants to improve the creative process, especially during production, but they go about it in two different ways.
Larry Jordan: We’ll talk with George Olver, the co-founder of Movidiam, and Melissa Davies-Barnett, the co-founder of Arc 9, to learn what their services do, how they compare and which one might be right for you.
Larry Jordan: Also, just as an aside, remember stereoscopic 3D? It was all the rage just a few years ago and tonight’s Buzz Flashback returns us to those days gone by. I also want to remind you to subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Every issue every week gives you an inside look at The Buzz, quick links to all the different segments on the show and curated articles of special interest to filmmakers. Best of all, every issue is free. I’ll be back with Cirina Catania right 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 am delighted to say hello Randi, welcome back.
Randi Altman: Hi Larry, good to be back.
Larry Jordan: Well, the Oscars are over. Did all your winners win?
Randi Altman: I don’t know if they all won but a lot of them won. I was pretty impressed with the showing for Mad Max: Fury Road. Took a lot of the technical side of the Oscars in terms of editors, audio, post, so it was fun to watch those guys coming up and down from the stage.
Larry Jordan: It was interesting, thinking of technical issues, The Martian didn’t win any.
Randi Altman: I know. That was a surprise. There were a lot of surprises. Everybody thought that The Revenant was going to take Best Picture, and it didn’t, which was pretty interesting. But what I did like, getting back to Mad Max, is they didn’t win Best Visual Effects, that went to Ex Machina, so that was double negative; and also Milk VFX. The interesting part of that was there was actually a female visual effects artist up there collecting an Oscar. She is one of two women who have ever collected a VFX Oscar. The last one was for Aliens and I think three have been nominated ever, so that was a really big deal and was really nice to see. It was nice to see that something off the beaten path won and that a lady went up and got an Oscar.
Larry Jordan: What are your takeaways from this? Is there some reading of tea leaves and goat entrails that we can draw from the Oscar voting this year?
Randi Altman: It was pretty diverse, I think. Other than Mad Max getting six out of the ten nominations, I think it was fairly diverse and I kind of like that. There were a couple of surprises in there and I really thought that The Revenant was going to win – not that I agreed – and there was this big build-up coming. But it was nice to see Mad Max and George Miller get a lot of notice.
Larry Jordan: Well, I was also impressed that Spotlight won, because it was a smaller film which had a really important message and the cast did a great job, as did the cast inside The Big Short. I thought both of those were excellent ensemble films. The Revenant is amazing but I think the right movie won from my point of view.
Randi Altman: I agree and then the editor for Mad Max won, which was pretty amazing too, but it could very easily have been The Big Short or Spotlight too. I felt there were some really good movies this year and some really good artistry that went on. My favorite part of the entire Oscar broadcast was Mark Mangini from Formosa who came up to collect his audio Oscar for Mad Max. He had more enthusiasm than anyone else on that stage and it was a ton of fun to watch.
Larry Jordan: Randi, which website can people go to to keep track of all of your thinking?
Randi Altman: Postperspective.com.
Larry Jordan: And Randi Altman is the founder and editor in chief of postperspective.com. Randi, thanks for joining us today.
Randi Altman: Thanks, Larry.
Larry Jordan: To read more from Randi Altman, visit postperspective.com.
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Larry Jordan: Cirina Catania is the Supervising Producer of The Buzz, as well as a filmmaker, journalist, former senior executive with United Artists and MGM. She’s also one of the founders of the Sundance Film Festival and today I have no idea where she’s coming from. We’re going to just tune in and find out. Hello, Cirina, welcome back.
Cirina Catania: Hi, Larry. Nice to see you this time.
Larry Jordan: Give me a clue. You’ve talked to us from Belgium and from Germany. Where are you now?
Cirina Catania: I’m actually back in beautiful downtown Burbank.
Larry Jordan: Soaking up some blue skies and warm weather again.
Cirina Catania: Oh yes, terra firma. It feels good to be in my own bed, but I have to tell you I’m a little jetlagged. You must be too, though, right?
Larry Jordan: Well, yes, but I was only in London, you were in Berlin, you were far further east than I was. By the way, thinking of Berlin, before we start talking about the Berlinale, you wanted to correct something you said last time about The Voice.
Cirina Catania: We got an email from one of our listeners in the Netherlands who has been a fan of The Buzz for a long time and he said, “I think you may be mistaken. The Voice actually originated in the Netherlands, because I worked on it.” So I did some research and it turns out that a lot of those what we consider American icons like American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, Homeland, Shark Tank, Trading Spaces, Ugly Betty, you name it, many of those shows originated in other countries. I was surprised by that and I just wanted to apologize to all of our editor fans in the Netherlands and say thank you for a great show. We obviously love it here because it’s doing really well.
Larry Jordan: One of the reasons that you were traveling in Europe this much, not only shooting your own film, but you were attending the Berlinale and I want to get your take on what sticks in your mind from the Berlinale now that it’s over.
Cirina Catania: A couple of things – the political awareness of international audiences is much greater than I believe it is in the United States. We have great entertainment and we’re getting more and more cognizant of worldwide issues, but I think we tend to be a little bit more closeted. There were two documentaries that actually screened in competition and one of them won. For the first time in the 66 year history of the Berlinale, Fuocoammare – Fire at Sea, which I believe I spoke to you about how much I loved it the last time we talked, it won the Golden Bear.
Cirina Catania: Major kudos to Rosi, the Italian director, because he actually embedded himself on the island of Lampedusa for a year and when he won the award he actually brought his daughter up on stage and promised he’d make up for lost time with her. I thought that was so cute. But he lived on the island for over a year, embedded himself and the one thing about Fuocoammare that I think is very interesting is there has been a trend, and I know I’ve been doing it more and more in the last few years, of not using voiceover narration at all, creating more of a dramatic approach to your documentary films, and that’s what Rosi did. There was no narration and he juxtaposed two stories, the story of this young 12 year old boy who lives on the island and watches his grandmother making pasta and listens to music, and then the horror of what’s happening with the refugees that are coming in from South Africa and other countries. It was very impactful and I think both the audiences and the jury loved it. Meryl Streep specifically commented about it.
Cirina Catania: So I thought that was amazing, and then the second documentary was an American documentary directed by Academy Award winning producer Alex Gibney called Zero Days. It talked about the Stuxnet virus, which infected millions and millions of computers and actually almost brought down the Iranian nuclear capability. It was the first time in the history of viruses that we know of that ones and zeros actually affected physical even when they landed at the other end. The interesting part about Zero Days is that it very clearly implicated the United States all the way up to the Obama administration for having caused it and started it.
Cirina Catania: The other imminent threat is Nitro Zeus, which is the one that’s being developed now and they’re thinking could cause EMPs and other kinds of global chaos, so it was really scary. But on the positive side, a documentary won and that was Fuocoammare and I think that’s really good for all of us independent filmmakers who are out there working really hard and not making a lot of money, as they said at the Academy Awards, just because of the love of film.
Larry Jordan: But do you think that there’s going to actually be an influence because of these wins on documentary filmmaking? Is there going to be some legs to this?
Cirina Catania: I do. It’s already picked up a distributor. Fuocoammare’s being distributed worldwide now. It will go on and actually make money because it’s the kind of film that appeals to audiences. As opposed to some other documentaries that have a very niche audience, I think this one has a much wider audience.
Larry Jordan: Looking at it not just in terms of that film itself, but other documentary filmmakers, yourself and many others, are there coattails you can ride?
Cirina Catania: Yes. Any time a film makes money, you know there’s going to be an influx of opportunities. There were over 70 documentaries screened at the Berlinale in various categories and they had a track at the EFM about how to make money with documentaries. I think that combined with what’s happening with all kinds of reality television and the way audiences are changing the way they watch media, I think there’s a great future for documentary. I’d tell all of our listeners to keep on doing what you’re doing – I know I am.
Larry Jordan: Well, I like the fact you said there were over 70 documentaries that were screened. Do you have any other stats in terms of how many people attended Berlinale or how many films were shown?
Cirina Catania: There were a total of, I believe, over 430 films and almost 400,000 tickets sold – 370,000 some tickets sold to the public – so that tells you how excited the public is in Germany for these films, and people come from all over the world actually and they wait in line all night to buy tickets.
Larry Jordan: I want to shift gears, because I want to move from watching finished films to creating films. What we’re doing today is focusing on online collaboration, project management, workflow software and we’ll be talking with two companies a little later today – we’re going to talk to Arc 9 and Movidiam – in terms of how their cloud based software can enable filmmaking. But you have been using collaborative software for a while. What have you noticed? Is it helpful? Is it more problems than it’s worth? Is it something that other filmmakers need to pay attention to? Give us your background.
Cirina Catania: I think that anyone who’s working with editors who are not local to your project, which is happening more and more, you have to have some kind of collaboration. It depends on whether you’re using it for editing purposes or strictly for client approvals – I use it for both. If I’m using it for editing and I need to upload major files that are several gigs each, I can’t upload to any service that I know of right now without waiting a long time because the bandwidth isn’t there yet, so that means that if you need to get something to your editor in Australia or in Germany, you literally have to ship a drive and I’m becoming more and more attached to SSD drives for that for two reasons: they’re very reliable – they don’t break as often as the other spinning drives do – and they’re very light – so for international shipping they’re cheaper.
Cirina Catania: But in terms of collaboration, I use Kollaborate a lot, which is another service that I don’t think you’re going to talk about today, but I’ve used them, for example, when I cover conventions and I need an editor to cut something very quickly. We actually used it on The Buzz when I sent some files in to The Buzz. Whether it’s stills, music, effects, video, you can upload all of those elements and then your editor can work long distance and send you back a cut that you can then annotate frame by frame. If you wanted to say, “At this frame, cut this two or three frames shorter,” or, “add music here,” or, “I don’t like this cut here for this reason, can you do this?” It’s just invaluable. I can’t get on a plane and go to Australia and there are time differences with the editor I’m working with there, so he can look at it in his own time.
Larry Jordan: But if all you’re doing is transferring files, Dropbox or Hightail would do that. What’s the advantage of the more sophisticated software?
Cirina Catania: They don’t let you amass a crew. You can get the business version of Dropbox, but then all you’re doing is shifting files around, you don’t have annotation capabilities. What Kollaborate allows me to do is have more than one person take a look at the video and then annotate right on the video with timecode what needs to be changed or what they want me to pay particular attention to. You can’t do that with any of the simple file transfer services. It’s a different type of service.
Larry Jordan: Have you ever used any of the online call sheets or production tools that are out there?
Cirina Catania: I’ve worked on productions that have used electronic versions of documents and distributed it to their crews because it’s much more efficient than having a PA stay up late at the end of the night and then distribute everything to your hotel, although many productions are still doing that. Yes, I have, I’ve used electronic call sheets. They’re very convenient. [DOTTLE]. I believe James was the first one to start doing a very sophisticated version of the electronic call sheets and they do a really good job.
Larry Jordan: Cirina, I want to keep in touch with you because there’s so much stuff that’s going on in the cloud based collaborative environment, not only the people we’re talking today, but we’re going to see a whole lot more evolution over the next several months as we come up to and pass NAB and I always love your opinion on what’s happening here. Where can people follow you and keep track of what you’re up to?
Cirina Catania: They can go to filmvault.biz or thecataniagroup.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s filmvault.biz or thecataniagroup.com and The Catania herself is Cirina Catania. Cirina, thanks for joining us today.
Cirina Catania: Thank you, Larry.
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Larry Jordan: George Olver is the founder of Movidiam, a creative network that allows brands, agencies and filmmakers across the globe to connect, collaborate and create films. Hello, George, welcome back.
George Olver: Larry, great to be here.
Larry Jordan: We had a chance to talk a few months ago, but just to give us some background, how would you describe Movidiam?
George Olver: Movidiam is a professional creative network and project management application for filmmaking, so it’s two things really, it’s a professional social network where filmmakers, agencies and production companies can come and build a presence for themselves and also it’s a project management tool where they can streamline their process of production using our feature set.
Larry Jordan: Well, you were one of the founders. Why did you decide to start this service?
George Olver: I was one of the founders of Movidiam, along with Alex Vero. Alex and I have been in the processes of film production for 12 years, we’ve worked for a great number of Fortune 500 and FTSE250… and during that experience and time we learned a lot about the filmmaking process. We delivered some remarkable projects with some amazing teams from all over the world and we just thought some of these things we were doing on a day to day basis could be improved with a layer of technology.
Larry Jordan: On today’s show, we’re talking with three different web based collaborative platforms. What makes yours unique? Why should people consider you?
George Olver: I think what’s interesting about Movidiam, and it kind of dives deep into the theory of building software, is it’s a bundling up of a number of great features so it’s a hub, it’s a one stop shop. There are a number of solutions out there which are single feature and have some great elements to them, but what we’ve done with Movidiam is try to bring all those tools into our project management and then not only just have that as a project management facility for our users, but also to fuse that with the human resource and the talent that actually operates those tools. So really, it’s an intersect of talent and productivity which is what’s exciting about Movidiam.
Larry Jordan: Give me a sense of how we use it. When do we dial into this service and what do we get from it?
George Olver: Let’s take an example for an agency in New York. They might have a brief to produce a piece of content in London or in Paris, and how do they go about doing that? Well, they probably look through their Rolodex of DPs, directors, editors that they have in these locations and they maybe potentially fly a team out there. It’s business as usual but that dashboard is in our profiling section, so you can research local talent and maybe people who might be more suited to that brief and so you can find a team of best fit based on your exact needs.
George Olver: As we find that people commissioning films are brands and agencies and sometimes internal production agencies or even creative agencies, there’s more demand for filmmaking, so giving them simple access to a global creative means of a production is a very attractive and appealing thing in this content hungry world.
Larry Jordan: So one way to think of Movidiam is an online global Rolodex?
George Olver: Ultimately, that’s one way of looking at it. It’s a professional social network, so it’s a place where filmmakers come and showcase their expertise, their work, who they’ve worked with, their unique skills and present themselves to brands and agencies who might want to commission them. It’s just raising visibility for filmmakers and production companies inside the global ecosystem of filmmaking.
Larry Jordan: The last time we spoke, Movidiam was still in beta. That was a while back, so it’s time to get an update. What’s the newest news?
George Olver: The really exciting news, Larry, is that we’re releasing a mobile app with all the features in very soon, within the next two or three weeks. We’re also coming to the US. Actually, on 12th April we’ll be doing a big presentation just before the start of the Tribeca Film Festival at the Crosby Street Hotel. That’s for our American community of agencies and filmmakers and then we’re going onto NAB. Then we’re going down to New Orleans for Collision and then back to Los Angeles to communicate with some of our team and wider production companies, so a big trip around the US, which is where we see a large part of our community.
Larry Jordan: From New York to Las Vegas to New Orleans. You’re not going to get any sleep at all for the better part of a month.
George Olver: It’s going to be pretty brutal, Larry. We’re very excited. Something I did learn, though, from reading your KitPlus is that when at NAB make sure you’ve got comfortable trainers.
Larry Jordan: Oh yes. My goodness. We were just talking about the fact that a typical use would be an agency, whether in New York or LA or Las Vegas or anywhere else, but an agency that’s looking to go outside its normal area and it needs to find staff to do that, so we’ve got the Rolodex aspect of Movidiam, but there’s also the project management. Tell me more about that.
George Olver: Our project management features include a timeline tool, a task tool, a video revisions tool, a feed of chat which can be inter-project or inter-team, an ability to store assets related to that project, so rushes, RAM guidelines, brand logos, all within a dashboard interface for the project, so it’s bringing the creative means of production, the filmmakers, into the project as well as all the assets, as well as all the scheduling. We’ve got a couple of exciting Gantt charts and budget features coming up soon as well. Very exciting, Larry, filmmakers always love those.
Larry Jordan: Are you targeting the commercial audience? I’m thinking agencies here. Are you targeting more filmmakers? Who’s your typical audience?
George Olver: It’s a very interesting question and I think if I look at who is using Movidiam very effectively now, brands and agencies in the commercial market are, but we also see independent filmmakers use it and we’ve got a couple of feature films that are using some of our project management features.
George Olver: I think the way we look at it is the processes of filmmaking are nearly the same, it just depends on the level of investment and the size of the team, so the processes and structures that you go through are practically the same whether you’re making a commercial or a feature film. We’ve developed a solution that will expand to all areas of the moving image production, but initially the focus is probably brands and agencies wanting to do commercial work.
Larry Jordan: How do they use the service? I’m signing up, I go to movidiam.com, I’m in. Walk me through the set-up process.
George Olver: For filmmakers, brands and agencies the ability to set up a profile to represent yourself on the platform is completely free. To enter the project management tools, it’s… a month and also we’re offering very soon the ability to pay freelancers through the system. The agencies find the project management tools very streamlining, very efficient. It takes a lot of disparate tools that they’d been using and puts it all in one place and we all know what it’s like to get feedback from clients on text message, on voicemail, on telephone call, on Excel sheets and even on a fax from time to time – it can be confusing. We’ve put that all into once place and so the whole agency team and potentially the clients… certain aspects of the project can see it and feed back on it.
George Olver: It’s really just raising the visibility on what’s going on. In this busy world where we need to produce a lot of content, everyone involved, all the stakeholders, can see the project developing in front of them.
Larry Jordan: Go more into this project management. Do we have things like Gantt charts and timelines and projected completion dates? How extensive is it?
George Olver: We have a very significant timeline right at the top of the project management dashboard and, yes, Gantt charts have been a very requested features and we’ve looked into that and that will be integrated very shortly. I think Gantt charts were heavily utilized in the last ten years of filmmaking and I think we want to look at it and really have a think about how we can make it suitable for the screen and administrative layer of making projects work, so it will look something like a Gantt chart but whether it’s actually a Gantt chart, that’s something for our users to feed back with us.
Larry Jordan: How about client review and commenting on videos in process?
George Olver: We’ve got a revision pizza that sits right in the center of the Movidiam project management proposition, so you upload your film or a version of that film and you can annotate comments on it by clicking on the screen. You can assign points back to an editor or back to a visual effects artist or even send a version of that through a micro site to a client if you want their feedback that then comes back to you, so there’s team feedback within the creative team making it, but there’s also the ability to send it off to the client because, again, the client’s perspective is very different from the team that creates the work.
Larry Jordan: One of the things that I’m worried about with the cloud, aside from the fact that the assets are stored where I have no control over them, is just security in general. We can’t turn a newspaper page these days without discovering new companies that have been hacked or ransom demands. The worldwide web is a scary place right now. How do we make sure that something which is so deadline critical as a video project is going to be secure?
George Olver: I think this is a very important question and it’s one that we take seriously at Movidiam. This starts at the very beginning of our process of looking at code and how we do peer to peer review of our code. We test the integrity of the site with bringing others to look at the platform… from third parties. We partner with very large cloud service businesses which have a very good focus on security. Our Movidiam platform is hosted on the AWS infrastructure, which is Amazon Web Services, which might be very well known to you – it’s certainly known to a great number of large organizations in the US – and we have very a clear perspective of the technical and security landscape which we regularly look at to make sure we’re up to date.
George Olver: Your reference to having control over your footage, you have total control over it. You can choose where to put it, which projects to put it in, how to move it around, when to remove it, and I think the idea of a physical hard drive in your office in Los Angeles might potentially be less secure than the cloud.
Larry Jordan: How is it priced? How much money am I investing?
George Olver: The project management features are $25 a month. There’s the ability to submit a brief, which soon will be a charged feature, and then we have an enterprise level package for some of the larger agencies, who might well be using the system with an enterprise custom package where we give them direct access to training guidance on who to select from a talent perspective based on their guidelines and recommendations.
Larry Jordan: If I’m a filmmaker and want to profile myself on Movidiam, is there a fee for that?
George Olver: That’s absolutely free and we’d be delighted to have you there. The Movidiam community is incredibly diverse and very rich in the content that it puts up. All our profiles have the ability to blog and update what you’re up to on them and we find very interesting stories often being discussed in the community.
Larry Jordan: Have you announced how many users you’ve got? How many people in profile?
George Olver: We haven’t announced the number of users that are profiling, but there are several hundred agencies a week signing up to the platform, looking for talent to work with because they’re very excited about working with people who might be more talented or more interesting or more creative than the existing network they have.
Larry Jordan: Nothing like more competition for a person trying to get a job. I tell you, you’re making our lives both better and more difficult at the same time.
George Olver: I think Movidiam is challenging for the uncompetitive and the people who don’t invest in building a presence and celebrating the work they’ve done. I think there is a team of best fits for every project and whatever level of the business that you’re working in, you’ve got to be in the marketplace and that’s what a profile will do for you on Movidiam.
Larry Jordan: Where can people go on the web to learn more about you and your service?
George Olver: Movidiam.com, it’s free to sign up and please do come and investigate some of the profiles and conversations that are going on on the site. That’s our homepage and it’d be great to have a conversation with you, Larry, on our podcast for our community.
Larry Jordan: George, I’d enjoy that. George Olver is a co-founder and CEO of Movidiam at movidiam.com. George, thanks for joining us today.
George Olver: Great to be here, Larry.
Larry Jordan: Welcome to Tech Talk.
Larry Jordan: If I have a clip and let’s go find our project clip – oh, I know, let’s import this one – this is the world famous sea turtle. Let’s go back to our editing layout so we have a preview window. There we go. We’ll find the appropriate spot. We’ll set it in and we’ll set it out and edit that down to the timeline.
Larry Jordan: This is a sea turtle. I don’t need the audio, so let’s option click on that, get rid of the audio. But I want to slow this turtle down right about there. I want to see the power in those flippers. Well, if I select the clip, go up to the clip menu, go down to speed and duration, there’s this really nice new setting. Let’s slow this down to 15 percent and under here, optical flow shows up for the first time. What optical flow does is it invents new video. It’s like inbetweening. It invents new video based upon how pixels move from one frame to the next frame and optical flow for slow motion can take slow motion and make it really smooth as opposed to making it sort of like a still frame or a slideshow that’s dissolving from one slide to the next.
Larry Jordan: This shot is going to have to analyze for a bit and then after it’s analyzed you can see that it needs to render and this is playing back without rendering. If I go back to clip, speed/duration, remember you turn optical flow on in this menu. I want to slow them down to, say, five percent. Let’s make it ten percent, that’s just a shade too slow. Let’s go to clip, speed/duration, let’s make it ten percent, optical flow, click ok and just to keep it simple we’ll just render the first one right here. Delete this and render.
Larry Jordan: Rendering’s going to take a little bit of time but when it gets rendered we’ll show it to you, so I’ll do a dissolve and be right back.
Larry Jordan: Look at this. The analysis has done. Watch the playback of our turtle.
Larry Jordan: Is that amazing or what?
Larry Jordan: Optical flow is most relevant when we’re working with extreme slow motion, below 15 or 10 percent. What it does is it takes frame one, which exists in shot by the camera, and frame two, which exists in shot by the camera, and figures out all the intervening frames and creates brand new video to move the pixels from frame one to frame two and to create all those in between states.
Larry Jordan: Optical flow works the best where the background is not moving, where the background is basically bland, where you’ve got a clearly defined object in the foreground. If you had a gray object against a gray background, optical flow’s not going to work very well. Here, for instance, I’ve got a turtle against a blue sea and optical flow works great at being able to create extremely slow motion. We’ve not had this option in Premiere before and it makes extremely slow motion like we would use Twixtor for. We can now use Premiere and this is really nice.
Larry Jordan: Melissa Davies-Barnett is a post production industry veteran, having founded Side Effects Inc. Side Effects focused on digital visual effects compositing and animation. Today, Melissa is the CEO and founder of Arc 9, where she and her team are creating products to solve inefficiencies in the creative workflow; and we continue with Melissa our conversation on web based collaboration software. Hello, Melissa, welcome.
Melissa Davies-Barnett: Hello.
Larry Jordan: I have to ask first, what got you interested in visual effects? This is not something women go into.
Melissa Davies-Barnett: Well, after college it was a brand new industry. We started experimenting with doing things digitally instead of doing opticals and then my partners and I worked on freelance projects, talking people into doing digital effects as opposed to opticals and then the whole industry just grew in the ’90s.
Larry Jordan: Exploded I think is a better word, not just grew. Were you studying graphical effects in college? What attracted you to visual effects?
Melissa Davies-Barnett: No, I was an architecture major and did a documentary film with some film students and I was in charge of the graphics, so I had to figure out how to create the graphics and animate them. After college, I was offered a job in New York to do graphics. I went to New York for about six months and then moved to LA and my first project was with New Line, a feature that was direct to video DVD and they had no money, so I said, “Let’s do it digitally.” They went, “What?” There was no money to do the opticals so we decided to do it digitally and it was very experimental at the time, a lot of… effects and there I met both of my partners in that project. We went on to do music videos and started Side Effects. We did about 50… incorporated CG. Our shop was small, always stayed small, and we focused mostly on commercials. We did a lot of tennis shoes, soft drinks and cars.
Larry Jordan: Well then, from Side Effects and from your visual effects background, why did you decide to create Arc 9? What was missing that you needed to create?
Melissa Davies-Barnett: I kind of take us back to the early ’90s, when we really had to teach the whole industry a new way of working. As the old film processes went out, we had a big educational… and so now we’re seeing that same kind of thing happen in workflow. People think that happened a long time ago, but it really didn’t. There are still agencies and production companies – mostly agencies, which is really where our workflow is geared towards, small to large organizations that have a lot of collaborators and an approval process – which are using FTP, which we used in the early ’90s. They’re signing into FTP sites and downloading and uploading, so I think it’s hard for someone to understand what collaboration and workflow are, because there are so many tools out there that you can piece together.
Melissa Davies-Barnett: What we really wanted to have was the ability to collaborate all over the world with artists easily and seamlessly and move away from everyone having to be in one building, and it really didn’t exist, not just review and approval, but managing your project, managing your deadlines, managing your teams, integrating clients and creating presentations, so throughout the process while you’re presenting to your client and the work has to look good, there’s branding, and we wanted to be able to bring that all together in one application and not have to have machines with guys in the background converting files and uploading and downloading, an edit bay assembling everything, because the whole production process is really changing. There are shorter timelines, everybody’s spread on multiple projects, so that’s really all the things that we wanted to create Arc 9 for.
Larry Jordan: One of the benefits of having all your creative people in one spot is just the ad hoc brainstorming and the small conversations that occur which spark ideas, which then turn themselves into something visual. How do you keep that brainstorming/collaboration/ freewheeling spirit going on the web?
Melissa Davies-Barnett: We’ve integrated with tools like Spark and Slap that more and more teams are using to chat any time of the day and give organized feedback. As we go along in the development, we find more and more ways to bring teams together. I don’t know that all location based brainstorming will ever disappear, but it certainly makes it easier to have the flexibility to have people all over the world to be able to collaborate in one space. Obviously, on live chat, on live screen share, live reviews combined with doing them interactively or any time of day that you want from anywhere makes it easier to get everyone’s feedback because in every creative project there’s a lot of feedback.
Larry Jordan: Do you think of this as a collaboration tool, a teambuilding tool, a project management tool? Where does it fit in the creative workflow?
Melissa Davies-Barnett: Collaboration is really broad. Skype is a collaboration tool. There are a lot of different collaboration tools. We call Arc 9 a collaboration and workflow tool, taking all the processes that you do in a creative project and putting them into one application. You can manage your teams, manage your assets, manage your deadlines and your deliveries. You can review and approve with all different types of annotation tools any kind of content – video, design files, images, multi page presentations – and on the back end you have all the analytics that go with that – who’s opened, who’s viewed, but it’s all managed so you can figure out where things are in the review process. I’m not sure that anybody else really has a review status of every single file that you have in a project.
Melissa Davies-Barnett: There’s a lot that’s under the hood and trying to keep it simple is a hard thing to do. Simple to me is not simple to someone else, but we tried to make it so that a producer or a production manager has all the tools that they need. A creative person only needs to know a little piece of it. A client has a very simple private client portal that’s focused on feedback and approvals and you can also manage multiple companies, multiple brands with one sign-in all in one application.
Larry Jordan: How does it work? I go to the Arc 9 website, which is arc9.com. What do I do?
Melissa Davies-Barnett: You go to arc9.com and you create an account. You can create libraries or projects. You upload your files from anywhere. We’ve tried to integrate as many sources as generally people use, so Dropbox, Box, Vimeo, YouTube…
Larry Jordan: Wait, wait, wait, time out, slow down, because I’m confused again. Why am I uploading files when I’m not sure what I’m doing yet? Do I need to upload something to be able to use Arc 9, or can I collaborate with my team to come up with ideas before I invent files? Is the file upload the first part of the process after creating an account?
Melissa Davies-Barnett: Yes. We’re not a design tool. It’s meant to take your creative whatever – it could be a creative brief, it could be storyboards. We’re not Photoshop or a design tool. You upload files, you collaborate on those files. You can iterate those files, so we have version management where every version is stacked and managed. You can compare one version to the next to the next in sync.
Larry Jordan: How do we make sure that the stuff that we upload is secure, especially with commercial projects when there’s millions of dollars in launch money hanging in the balance and if it gets out at the wrong time that launch is destroyed?
Melissa Davies-Barnett: That’s one of the big hurdles that we all have to get over, is the embracing of cloud and the security around cloud. We follow all the MPAA guidelines. We’re on Amazon. We have different levels of security depending on the user, but everything’s encrypted. I’m really not the person to ask about all the security, but we do follow all the MPAA guidelines to ensure that everything is secure.
Larry Jordan: When did you release the site? When did it go live?
Melissa Davies-Barnett: We launched it live at the end of 2014 but it really wasn’t until, I’d say, mid-August 2015 that we had all the pieces that really worked together. We launched first with review and approval and a little bit of asset management and then added in presentations and all along we’ve been building conversions. Right now, we support over 300 different file types and video codecs and, for example, on Arc 9 you can take a Photoshop file, don’t even convert it, upload it and re-render every single layer, so you have the ability to really work with your team and see every layer of a file and review it. At the same time, that person on the other side can download the original raw file, so it comes showing two different things, a web based file and the original raw file.
Larry Jordan: And where can people go on the web to learn more about you and your service?
Melissa Davies-Barnett: You can go to arc9.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s arc9.com and Melissa Davies-Barnett is the co-founder of Arc 9. Melissa, thanks for joining us today.
Melissa Davies-Barnett: Thank you very much.
Larry Jordan: It’s time for a Buzz Flashback. Five years ago today…
Unknown man (archive): …bank is a marketplace for 3D content, mostly filmed content, so we have producers all over the world who are shooting with two cameras various… content that could be used in advertising projects, demonstrations for products or anything else involving 3D.
Larry Jordan: This was a Buzz Flashback.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank this week’s guests, starting with Cirina Catania, an independent filmmaker and the Supervising Producer of The Buzz; George Olver, co-founder and CEO of Movidiam; and Melissa Davies-Barnett, the co-founder and CEO of Arc 9.
Larry Jordan: There’s a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website, at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Here you’ll find thousands of interviews all online and all available to you today; and remember to sign up for our free weekly show newsletter.
Larry Jordan: Talk with us on Twitter, @dpbuzz, and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Our theme music is composed by Nathan Doogie Turner with additional music provided by smartsound.com. Text transcripts are provided by Take 1 Transcription – visit take1.tv to learn how they can help you.
Larry Jordan: Our Supervising Producer is Cirina Catania and our show producer is Debbie Price. Our engineering team is led by Brianna Murphy and includes Ed Golya, Keegan Guy and James Miller. My name is Larry Jordan and thanks for joining us for The Digital Production Buzz.
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