Digital Production Buzz
April 21, 2016
[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]
(Click here to listen to this show.)
Bill Roberts, Senior Director of Product Management, Adobe
Dan May, President, Blackmagic Design
Bryce Button, Product Marketing Manager, AJA Video Systems, Inc.
Barbara de Hart, Vice President of Desktop Business and Corporate Marketing, Telestream
Ric Viers, CEO, Blastwave FX
Sean Mullen, Lead Designer, Rampant Design Tools
Larry Jordan: The Digital Production Buzz at NAB is sponsored by Maxon, Thalo and Doddle.
Larry Jordan: Tonight on The Buzz, we have highlights from our 2016 NAB show coverage, where every single interview announces new products and interesting news, starting with Bill Roberts, the Senior Director of Product Management at Adobe Systems; Dan May, the President of Blackmagic Design; Bryce Button, Product Marketing Manager for AJA Video Systems; Barbara de Hart, VP of Desktop Business and Corporate Marketing for Telestream; Ric Viers, the CEO of Blastwave FX; and Sean Mullen, the lead designer of Rampant Design Tools.
Larry Jordan: The Buzz at NAB starts now.
Announcer: Live, from the 2016 NAB show in Las Vegas. Media, technology, news, insight, connecting media professionals around the globe. The NAB Show Buzz, powered by Doddle, starts now.
Larry Jordan: Welcome to The Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for content creators covering media production, post production and marketing around the world. Hi, my name is Larry Jordan and I’m recording this live on the trade show floor at the 2016 NAB show in Las Vegas, Nevada. What we have today are highlights from more than 50 interviews that we’ve done at NAB and every single one of these interviews has new products, new technology and new announcements. For all the interviews that we did at NAB, visit nabshowbuzz.com; and we’re going to get started with Bill Roberts from Adobe, right after this.
Larry Jordan: And we’re back live at NAB. It’s still day one, the end of Monday, and joining us is Bill Roberts, the Senior Director of Product Management for Adobe. Bill, it’s always good to see you. Welcome back.
Bill Roberts: Good to see you, Larry. Thank you.
Larry Jordan: One of these days, I will figure out to turn a knob before I say hello. It’s this technology, it kind of escapes me. You guys have been making a ton of noise and some incredible new announcements and I want to get in all the new stuff, so what have you got?
Bill Roberts: Well, we have a little bit of new right across the board. I’ll start with Premiere as that’s obviously a big part of our story. Hitting on a lot of key trends at the show, the cameras now are just producing these incredibly large, complex images at high frame rate with high bit depth, so the images are just massive and people want to work on lighter and lighter devices, so that’s a bit of a challenge. What we’ve introduced now is a brand new proxy workflow to augment our native workflow, so when you ingest you can make proxies, you can actually do all this in the background so you can start working immediately.
Bill Roberts: One of the beautiful things about this is it allows you to work with even 8K RED footage very simply, if you don’t want to use the fractional decode that you can have there; and also, you can combine it with the creative cloud piece so that the proxies can use your creative cloud file synch and be available wherever you are. That’s a very nice step forward for the large images that are there.
Larry Jordan: Also, as we start to move into HDR, you guys supported HDR in the realm before this when we start to get into extremely high bit depth video, where file sizes are huge. But what are you using for a codec for your proxy files?
Bill Roberts: Whatever you want, you can set that up. We have recommendations and really, when you’re setting up your proxy, we want to focus on keeping the same aspect ratio as the original media, but aside from that it’s really up to you. You decide what the most important thing is to you – quality? Maybe you want to go into a Cineform, which is a more compressed version of a raw file, or maybe you need something a lot smaller because you know you’re going to be accessing the content on a much weaker network.
Bill Roberts: So it’s up to you, although we have some guidelines and best practices that we can apply, but it’s really a very open…
Larry Jordan: So you didn’t invent your own proxy format?
Bill Roberts: No, we did not, and we can also work with existing proxies. We know a lot of people have a programmatic MAM workflow where they’re generating proxies externally. Now you can just marry that up. In the editing experience, you can immediately bounce back and forth between native full resolution and proxies, so it’s very open, very flexible.
Larry Jordan: When you say recommendations, clearly there are some files which are easier to edit than others, so you’re looking for proxies which both generate small file size and yet relative simplicity for editing it so you’re not overtaxing your system.
Bill Roberts: Exactly, and one of the things we always fall back on, Cineform’s a nice cross platform, high performance… for these high quality workflows. But there’s a lot more than that. You mentioned HDR. You nailed it when you said we put in the framework, and we’re continuing to push and work on that. In this cycle, we’ve made sure our scopes can work in Rec. 2020. We started with the Adobe Vision workflow in a previous release and we’re going to keep adding more and more tools for those high dynamic range workflows.
Larry Jordan: One of the things I’m learning about HDR is that there are little pieces of it, the whole workflow is not put together, and monitoring to be able to see stuff at a high enough quality to do color grading is still a big issue. How is Adobe working with other vendors to try to come up with a unified workflow to make working with HDR straightforward?
Bill Roberts: Really, what we do is make sure our pipeline’s completely open and the transmit API that our third party monitoring systems can attach into, so if you have an HDR compliant monitor that works today. But you did say it is a big issue, because most people who are delivering HDR aren’t just delivering HDR, they need to deliver a standard dynamic range view as well, so we provide some basic tools for tone mapping inside the software but we also provide the tools that you need to grade for either deliverable.
Larry Jordan: Ok, we’ve got proxy workflow and work continues to expand scopes to support HDR. What else is new?
Bill Roberts: VR. If you hadn’t noticed, it seems to be a bit of a buzz word around the show.
Larry Jordan: Gee, we’re in the South Hall and VR is all in the North Hall and I haven’t made it up to that hall yet, so what’s happening with VR?
Bill Roberts: Aside from the fact that the internet has created a drinking game that anytime somebody says ‘equirectangular’ at NAB, you’re supposed to take a shot.
Larry Jordan: You practiced that, didn’t you?
Bill Roberts: No, actually, it’s just a funny thing that actually happened. Everybody’s just realizing this is kind of an overcooked term at the show, but it is actually the format that we’re supporting for viewing inside of the software, so we’ve added a VR viewer. One of the big challenges, particularly with equirectangular, you look at it and you have no idea what the end user experience would be. You don’t want to edit the whole time using a headset, even though you could be popping back and forth if you have a lot of partners like Metal, that use our transmit API to make sure the Oculus Rift can be a viewing environment, but inside the editing environment now you can turn on VR and it gives you a field of view that you can arrange and you can pan around, so you have a straight up editing environment and you have a much better idea of what the end user experience would be like.
Larry Jordan: That’s very cool.
Bill Roberts: Yes, it’s getting a great response. The panning model we use – you can have sliders if you want but most people just gravitate towards panning in the YouTube style – is where you just click and drag. Speaking of YouTube and Facebook, who support publishing of that video, we’ve also added the metadata flag so that when it’s published to either of those platforms using our Destination Publish, the player will automatically kick into VR mode on the destination site.
Bill Roberts: We’re really trying to think of end to end workflow with VR and this is a solid step out of the gate for us.
Larry Jordan: So far, everything’s been in Premiere. Do you have anything else happening elsewhere?
Bill Roberts: Everywhere. Larry, I know that you love Audition.
Larry Jordan: I do. Not only do I love Audition, we record these shows on Audition, I do my weekly podcast in Audition. I am a big fan of Audition and is it getting any love at all?
Bill Roberts: It’s getting lots of love. You’re an audio expert, so you can dive into Audition and use all the power that’s there, but one of the challenges we see in the industry, as more and more TV content becomes reality, news or documentary, those are programming types that have tight turnarounds, they don’t have enough time to do proper post audio.
Larry Jordan: And low budget.
Bill Roberts: Low budget and it’s also scary. You take a guy who’s cutting documentary and ask him to go in and really clean up a dirty audio track with a lot of background noise, chances are it may not come out well. We have a lot of expertise in there, so we’ve introduced what’s now called the Essential Sound Panel and what that does is it takes particular mix types, including voice – there are other ones for music and background – but if you take the voice one, you’re presented with a really simple UI and with one slider the person can boost the vocals and under the hood what’s happening is noise suppression, EQ, compression. It basically creates a whole stack of effects and applies them with knowledge of what the intention’s going to be.
Bill Roberts: The other thing we’ve added is if you’re doing that in, say, a documentary workflow, you can now go directly to AME from Audition, so the whole pipeline is, “I want to just try and make that better. Oh gee, I just boosted the vocal, that’s fantastic, great.” Pump it straight out to AME, away you go, and the video offloads right through the whole system as well. So nice things happening in Audition and more to come.
Larry Jordan: Oh, I hope so because the thing I like about what you’re doing with Audition is you’re making it much more accessible for video editors who don’t know a lot about audio. Why the love for Audition? Because you could just as easily have gone off to pro tools and music creation, but the tools that you’re dialing in are really designed for video people.
Bill Roberts: Yes. Video’s exploding, it’s one of the fastest growing media types on the internet, but if you look at the type of content that’s being produced, you often don’t have the time or the budget to be awesome. We had to actually address that issue and help people make better content, so that’s why we’re doing that. When you look at it, there was always the desire to have better audio, just not the skills or the time to do it, so we’ve tried to address that.
Larry Jordan: The thing is, people will watch really bad video – not that Premiere has ever created bad video – they will watch bad video but they won’t listen to bad audio.
Bill Roberts: That’s true.
Larry Jordan: And anything you do to make the sound better is going to benefit all of us, and I’m a huge fan of Audition so thank you for working on that. We’ve talked about Premiere with VR support and HDR support and cool stuff, we’ve talked about Audition. Are you working on anything else or are those the only two apps?
Bill Roberts: No, we updated everything. We’ve done a lot of work on After Effects. We really focused on performance. Some of the things you’re going to see if you’re working with audio, we now have a much improved real time playback environment, so picture and sound working together, which is a key part of motion graphics overall, so that’s a big improvement that users see and feel right away. Another big one is GPU.
Larry Jordan: I was going to ask.
Bill Roberts: Yes, so we’ve had a lot history of doing GPU in Premiere and as we go forward we’re bringing a lot of that expertise across to the After Effects platform now, so we’re seeing GPU accelerated effects. One of the ones that shows extremely well on the show floor is the illumatory color tools, they’re now there, GPU accelerated, so we’re getting to a very common platform there.
Bill Roberts: A lot of improvements in 3D, so…
Larry Jordan: Are we using the same rendering engine in Premiere and After Effects, or are they two different renderers?
Bill Roberts: There’s always technology that’s shared, but if you look at what happens in Premiere, that’s designed for a real time playback of a reasonable number of video tracks. If you look at what people do in After Effects, you can’t structure…
Larry Jordan: It’s…
Bill Roberts: Yes, so it’s as much shared technology as possible but there are very different use cases so you can’t be exactly the same otherwise you couldn’t provide the right experience.
Larry Jordan: Ok, so After Effects we’ve got improved performance. I think the GPU acceleration’s huge, that’s really cool.
Bill Roberts: Yes. 3D. The workflow with C4D is really smooth now, so you can do an export and still then maintain a live link back in. Those workflows where you’re iterating both on the comp and you’re iterating on the 3D content, that’s tight and fast. Really exciting things like loading of file sequences over a network. It sounds dumb, but we have some cases where certain file formats have gone from minutes to seconds, and if you’re a user your life just gets a lot better.
Bill Roberts: Actually, the other thing that’s included in After Effects but is one of our cloud services is the addition of stock.
Larry Jordan: Now, tell me what stock is because I keep getting all these emails from Adobe saying, ‘You really have to pay attention’, and I don’t understand it, so what is it?
Bill Roberts: If you think about a motion graphics artist, you’re often trying to express imagery that reflects something – somebody’s said I need to talk about a storm in Florida, you don’t have a shot so we have integrated the stock panel directly into the user interface. You can type in ‘storm Florida’, you see an image you like, you literally drag it into your comp. You like it, you can license it from inside of the software, so it’s a round trip workflow. A lot of people rely on stock in this industry, but generally they were having to leave the software and they wouldn’t have access to it, so we now have that deeply integrated.
Bill Roberts: One of the big things is we actually now have a lot of 4K content as well, so if you’re faced with building out 4K workflows, we have a lot of the imagery that you can use to do that.
Larry Jordan: You, however, have been associating with the enemy. We had Avid on this morning, and Avid has said they were working with you, and you now have round trips back and forth between Adobe and Avid. What is going on here? Has the end of the world arrived?
Bill Roberts: No, I think it’s a reflection. If you think back a few years ago, everybody on the show floor was talking about… There were… architectures, loosely coupled connections. That’s really what this is. We’re both companies that migrated towards open APIs and our API for data management and our panel API is something that Avid’s taking advantage of this cycle, building on our support of DNX, their support of our products on their storage. So now, if you’re an Interplay user, Premiere can be part of the workflow. We’re delighted they dedicated the energy to that and they’ve been fantastic about telling the world about it. I don’t think we were enemies; well, we’re frenemies. We get along. We’re going to slug it out over the editor but in terms of serving our customers’ needs, we had so many customers that had Interplay infrastructure and we’re using Premiere and After Effects as part of the pipeline, so we wanted to get that moving and they’ve been fantastic about that.
Larry Jordan: It’s interesting, thinking of the two companies, as opposed to going through a third party, which happens all the time – think Automatic Duck – now able to talk. It’s nice that there’s friendliness in the industry. I think this is a very good thing.
Bill Roberts: Well, if you build open APIs and you support them, you don’t have to exchange state secrets to get along well; and if they’re rich APIs, and that’s one of the things that I’m very proud of, the development team has really, really strong tools so people can make meaningful connections, not just ones that demo well. These are real workflow tested connections.
Larry Jordan: You’ve got time for one more new feature and one more piece of software. What have you got?
Bill Roberts: Character Animator. I think it’s still the most fun piece of software on this show floor. The team has done an incredible job. We announced it last year and we’ve gone through three preview cycles and we’re showing preview four here today. It’s really addressing a lot of the workflow pieces. We now have the heads that move in all directions. When you’re tagging, before we were completely unnaming but now we have a visual tagging panel so you can click on an ‘I’ down here and it maps across.
Bill Roberts: From a workflow perspective, now it’s connected into AME as well, so when you’re finished you can just spit out the rendered file on AME. It’s super exciting. We’ve got so many people using that now and it’s so much fun to see what they’re doing.
Larry Jordan: When does this all release? When can we get our hands on it?
Bill Roberts: Every year you ask the same question, Larry, and every year I say later in the year. It should be summertime, mid-year. That’s when our customers will be able to get their hands on this. We’ve got to finish off the pre-release to make sure it’s all solid.
Larry Jordan: So what do we have to do to get the upgrade?
Bill Roberts: It’s included with your creative cloud subscription, so anybody who’s a current creative cloud member will be able to download it on the day we make it available to everyone.
Larry Jordan: But it’s not today?
Bill Roberts: It is not today. Today, the only place you can see it is on the show floor in the booth.
Larry Jordan: Darn.
Bill Roberts: Or we have a bunch of videos online too.
Larry Jordan: Of all the things that you’ve added, what’s the thing that tickles your fancy the most?
Bill Roberts: Probably the proxy workflow. I saw Sony announced a camera that does 4K at 480 frames a second, so the size of the pictures, the amount of data they’re generating is outstripping Moore’s law. I just think sometimes you get features at the right time in the right place and I think this is one of those ones that will really make a lot of people’s lives better.
Larry Jordan: That’s very cool. Bill, where can people go on the web to learn more about these products?
Bill Roberts: Adobe.com/video and we have a ton of examples of all this stuff I’ve talked about.
Larry Jordan: That’s adobe.com/video and Bill Roberts is the Senior Director of Product Management for Adobe. Bill, as always, fun visiting. Thanks for stopping by.
Bill Roberts: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: Take care.
Larry Jordan: Every year at the NAB show, you’ll find more than a few attendees camping out at the Maxon Cinema 4D booth all day. Why? Because Maxon’s booth hosts presentations by the most respected 3D artists in visual effects, motion graphics and design. Even if you can’t attend NAB, you can watch all of the Cinema 4D presentations streaming live at C4Dlive.com. If you register on the site, you’re also entered into a raffle with over $20,000 in prizes to be given away. Can’t watch live? No worries. All presentations are made available on demand at cineversity.com a few weeks after the show. So tune into the Maxon Cinema 4D live stream at C4Dlive.com, April 18th through to 21st, or visit cineversity.com anytime and enjoy its vast library of tutorials, resources and archived presentations, all from Maxon.
Larry Jordan: We’re back, live, day one of NAB 2016 and I’m with Dan May. He’s the President of Blackmagic Design. Their booth is 255 square miles here inside South Lower Hall. They can fire off cannons and not hit from one side of the booth to the other. Dan, welcome.
Dan May: It’s good to be here with you, Larry.
Larry Jordan: What’s new? I’m almost afraid to ask. What’s new?
Dan May: Well, it wouldn’t be NAB without, like you say, a million press releases and having a lot of new and exciting products to talk about. I would say the one really key factor for us this year is that it’s not a year where we have the ‘take all the air out of the room’ product like we’ve had for numerous years. It’s been done by us several times, I don’t want to say it’s old hat, but there is no time travel this year, there is no ‘we invented a light saber’.
Larry Jordan: No holodeck?
Dan May: No holodeck, but what we have done is we’ve put out a number of new products and a number of new free software updates that really help make good products great, help implemented workflows that people have asked for for a long time.
Larry Jordan: So get specific, what are the toys? Sorry, what are these incredible new work products that we can work with?
Dan May: Simple things, as an example, are there’s a free update for ATEM users, being able to tie Hyperdecks into ATEM so that you can have four Hyperdecks that you can use playback for video, that you can do slo-mo and replay.
Larry Jordan: We don’t have to do scripts any more.
Dan May: Right.
Larry Jordan: Very nice.
Dan May: These are things that, as a free update, it’s not something that’s going to make a big splash, but for any user out there, suddenly it just becomes incredibly useful. We have a set of updates like that, DaVinci Resolve 12.5, things that add a lot of value, OS updates for the cameras that we’re working on and showing, but they’re not going to blow everyone away because they’re unseen. But we do have hardware products.
Larry Jordan: Hold that thought for one second, I want to come back to DaVinci Resolve, because that has continued to explode into a full blown editor as opposed to just simply color grading, which almost puts you in direct competition with all the people that you use to cooperate with in terms of Avid and Adobe and Apple.
Dan May: And we still do cooperate with. What we’ve learned over time is that we want to be helpful and friendly and we understand that these are all tools in the toolbox and that there are people who are very committed to the solutions that they’ve been using, there are people who are open to new solutions and there are people who want to have fewer brands in their facility sometimes. But we also know that people want flexibility so, as we’ve seen over the years, we find ourselves saying, “Look, we can add these features and you can choose to use them or you can choose to ignore them,” as long as we don’t take away from what the product does and we continue to advance it and make it better.
Dan May: There are some really nice features about being able to say, “I’ve shot on a Blackmagic camera, I bring it into DaVinci, I’ve done my editing, I’ve done my color grading, I’ve done my finishing and I haven’t sent it another application.” There is something nice to say about that, but there are other people who will say, “I love to use my other Avid software, I love to use my Adobe software, there are so many things that fit into my workflow,” so we have to be cognizant of the fact that, again, these are just tools and people will use them and most people will gravitate towards things that make their life easier.
Dan May: Our goal is to try to make products that make people’s lives easier and if we do a good job of doing that, then we will be a part of people’s workflow, even if we’re not a part of every bit of the workflow. We don’t have to be and we’re very blessed as a company to be able to say you have choices with us that you want to use some of this hardware and someone else’s software, you want to use someone else’s camera and use our other bits of hardware, and that we have the portfolio to be able to say, “I don’t need to lock you in. I don’t have to have you be completely Blackmagic.” It’s very flattering as more people come and say, “We’re a whole Blackmagic house now,” but you don’t have to be and that’s a real ease of entry for us.
Larry Jordan: Let’s talk about the new hardware. What are the toys?
Dan May: I would say the most unique thing we’ve done is we’ve created what we call our Blackmagic Duplicator 4K and this is a one rack unit that takes 25 SD cards and encodes to H.265. The problem we’re trying to solve here is back when we used to do…
Larry Jordan: Wait, H.264 or H.265?
Dan May: H.265, because we want to be able to do 4K, Ultra HD, on these SD cards and our own H.265 encoding is very small. The Ultra HD files are just slightly larger than our H.264 in HD. Think back to ‘I want to go to my kid’s high school graduation’ and they’re trying to sell me, back in the day of VHS tape, or “I’m going to get you this Blu-Ray for 50 bucks in six months.” Well, that’s archaic, it’s not Ultra HD, it’s not necessarily easy and it’s not available at the end of the event.
Dan May: The idea here is, whether I’m a one camera or a multi-camera setup, I want to be able to hit encode, I want it to record across these 25 cards, or I can stack them if I need more, and be right out front at the merch table at the rock concert saying, “Hey, for 20 bucks, you can pick up this SD card and it’s H.265, drop it in My TV, hit play, ready to go.”
Larry Jordan: Except H.265 is not fully supported yet.
Dan May: It’s not. It is the format that is going to be out there for a lot of Ultra HD, many of the TVs out there already can do it, Samsung TVs and the like. A lot of PCs can. It’s a little questionable on the Apple side, where they are with it yet, but it is definitely something that’s coming along right now. Also, not everyone has Ultra HD, so you have to make this thing also be able to do HD, but we do feel that we have so much to offer in this space and there aren’t a lot of great solutions, that this is something that people are going to be looking at in these type of market spaces, whether they’re monetizing or not, quite honestly, and be able to have media. We did our press conference this morning and handed everyone an SD card that had the video of the press conference, so we think it’s a powerful tool, it’s a unique tool.
Larry Jordan: I think it’s a great idea because it takes over from the old Blu-Ray discs and the CDs and DVDs, so I’m excited. But the key caveat is the H.265, so be sure that you’ve got drivers installed to play the stuff.
Dan May: Yes, absolutely, and of course there are play things we may be able to do in the future, but the good news is we have this and it’s shipping now so people can get it, play with it and see what they like to do with it.
Larry Jordan: And anything else that you want to talk about?
Dan May: We do have a lot, but I would say the other two big announcements that are worth coming to check out or see on our website are a new Video Assist 4K – not necessarily surprising, our Video Assist has been really good. This is our SD recorder for monitoring and recording. We did have to make a 4K version, it’s seven inches, set up nice features. We’re not reinventing the wheel here, it’s just a really nice product for 895, also shipping now.
Dan May: What’s caught a lot of people’s eyes in the booth is we’ve made an actual studio viewfinder for our URSA and URSA Mini, so we actually have this nice hand, you can grip it, you can move. For several years people have said, “Blackmagic never makes a camera that looks like the camera it’s supposed to be,” so it was very flattering when we made an URSA Mini and people said, “Oh, Blackmagic finally made a camera that looks like a camera.” We’ve learned that sometimes you need that familiarity, people identify with that familiarity and to be able to put a studio viewfinder, a true proper studio viewfinder, on the back of an URSA Mini, people identify and they say…
Larry Jordan: Can we use the URSA Mini with an ATEM?
Dan May: Yes you can, and that’s a new software update that we’ve released today. This adds all the CCU control, the talkback and the tally, so while I don’t have the studio viewfinder shipping – it’s one of the few products I don’t actually have shipping today – we did want to show people that in addition with that Hyperdeck ATEM update, that CCU control with the URSA Mini and then showing the studio viewfinder to show that we are really committed to continuing to flush out this live production marketplace.
Larry Jordan: That is very cool. Where can people go on the web to learn more about all these new announcements?
Dan May: They can always come to our website at www.blackmagicdesign.com.
Larry Jordan: Do you have a spot that people can see the latest stuff from NAB on the site?
Dan May: Yes, they’re going to have a video that’s right on the front page. Click that, it’s about 50 minutes of seeing new products.
Larry Jordan: And Dan May is the President of Blackmagic Design. Dan, as always, thanks for coming by and thanks for joining us today.
Dan May: Great to be here.
Larry Jordan: Take care.
Larry Jordan: We are back live at NAB with Bryce Button. Bryce is the Product Marketing Manager for AJA Video System and AJA is legendary for the quality of gear they provide and I swear, Bryce, there’s been 8,000 press releases this morning alone with the new stuff that AJA has announced. What have you guys done today?
Bryce Button: Yes, it certainly is a pretty big load for this year and it crosses a lot of spectrums and categories. We announced about 23 items between new products and…
Larry Jordan: 23?
Bryce Button: Yes, between new products and updates and that type of thing. But the key items and the big news for this year’s show is definitely around IP.
Larry Jordan: Which means?
Bryce Button: IP in terms of internet protocol for transmission of signal and KONA IP, and so the transition is upon us. It’s been building to this point for quite some time.
Larry Jordan: Yes, yes, yes, yes.
Bryce Button: You don’t believe that, huh?
Larry Jordan: Well, here’s my problem. I’ve got my studio, my suite is wired. I’ve got wonderful SDI connections that go everywhere, I’m already digital. Why should I care about rewiring for IP? Because it’s going to cost me money and it’s going to be painful and I don’t like it.
Bryce Button: Well, that’s is the point, is we did not want to make it painful and the whole reason we’ve launched here with a KONA IP is that the KONA cards have been around the industry ever since the Final Cut Pro revolution and, in fact, in terms of announcing the support, Avid and Adobe and everybody else has provided, quotes, backing it all because the whole point is to make it seamless.
Larry Jordan: So tell me what it is, because I’m confused then.
Bryce Button: Ok, KONA IP is a desktop card, much like your KONA 4s or your KONA 3Gs that people have used for years. The only difference is it has two SFP Plus cages on it for 10GBE cabling. In terms of the way you’ll work with it, you’re going to work with the same AJA software that supports our KONA cards and it’ll be completely transparent to your editing software, so you will go into Media Composer, for instance, edit away as you always have. The only difference, of course, is that now you’re transmitting your signal across a network, so you could literally be editing across the world.
Bryce Button: In terms of the differences, of course it’s going to be distance, but the really big one over time is going to be metadata, and that’s key.
Larry Jordan: How so?
Bryce Button: Because once you’re into internet packets, you can add a lot of ancillary information and that data is something that is desired by many. Of course, the big catch is we’ve always had over the top, that’s been around for years, but you have latency problems there so it hasn’t worked well for live broadcast. The whole challenge has been how to use internet protocols to bring things that are much more of the live experience, where it has to arrive on time.
Bryce Button: AJA, like many companies, has joined a bunch of alliances. We’re in all the major alliances from AIMS to Sony Live IP to NDI, which is a NewTek initiative, to ASPEN, which is something that was really started by Evertz. The whole point of this card is we’ve built it in extensible fashion, so you’ll be able to put this card into your system and there’s plenty of space there for us to provide you the various codec packages that’ll come along, as well as deal with the IP protocol transition points that will occur.
Bryce Button: Today, if you go into KONA IP now, the great news is it’s not going to be any different because you’re working with a 70 20 22 protocol and that basically is uncompressed video and audio, there’s no difference to dealing with a BNC cable hookup in terms of the experience, and that’s what really matters.
Bryce Button: Then as we transition, the next phase – which is called TR4 – introduces effectively audio disembedding. It’s an AES standard that’s brought in and once we get to 3, which will be later in the year going into 2017, then you enter essence streams and that’s when it gets really exciting. Metadata can be added, can be taken out etcetera.
Larry Jordan: Before we run out of time, while the IP, I think, is really exciting because it gives us something to look forward to in the future, what are the new products that you announced that we need to mention today?
Bryce Button: Oh, a number. We’ll start with HELO. HELO is a standalone streaming recording box to H.264 with simultaneous recording and streaming. It can be done at different bit rates for the two different needs. You can go to USB drives, it’s got both SDI in and out as well as HDMI in and out, which is unique. Completely standalone device that can be powered off P-TAP, so if you happen to be working with a camera, plug into that.
Bryce Button: We also have U-TAP, which are miniature capture devices that use USB3 and you can come in SDI or HDMI. We’ve introduced the FS4, which is our next evolution of the frame synchronizers and convertors, and that’s a big one because you can do full 4K Ultra HD up down cross conversion all the way from SD etcetera. If you’re choosing to store, say, in HD now for the moment, or 2K, you’ve got four separate processors in a single one RU unit, so it’s a heck of a lot of power sitting there.
Bryce Button: New software for RovoCam. This was a little camera that we introduced with Sony optics a little earlier this year. It’s being utilized in some very big stadiums right now for sports and that’s free software that we’re making available. And then also for our traditional KONA cards IO, which are Thunderbolt driven devices, fresh software there supporting all the new non-linear packages that are coming out now from Adobe and Avid.
Larry Jordan: You’re a product marketing manager so, wearing your marketing hat, what’s got you the most excited of all the new announcements?
Bryce Button: KONA IP’s a big one for me. This transition has been hanging over the industry for quite some time. This is going to happen pretty damn fast because it’s come together and it’s been done around standards, at last.
Larry Jordan: Yes, but let me just digress for a second. I understand that the user experience is the same, and I think that’s critical, but for those of us who own physical facilities, we’ve got to rewire everything to support IP. Why should we go to the expense?
Bryce Button: It’s not going to be much of an expense because basically you’re asking for some conversions from standard SDI signaling into IP. That’s the easy bit. The difficult bit is actually providing you the tools so that you’ve got standards to work with. There really isn’t much cost and that’s why the networks have been looking at it.
Larry Jordan: Would we need to replace all of our routers and replace all of our conversions? All that hardware that lives in the workflow has to be changed, doesn’t it?
Bryce Button: Certainly you’re going to have convertors that provide that transition, but those are small, generally not that expensive bits. You’ll simply do that interrouting etcetera. We do have a technology preview here at the show, for instance, where you have ethernet connectivity and a JPEG 2000 signal coming down it and you just plug it into an HDMI monitor. That’s part of the key thing here, Larry, that as you put these things together, you’re going to cut out a lot of steps. You won’t need as much conversion. You simply come from the IP signal to your final destination.
Larry Jordan: And for people who want more information, where can they go on the web?
Bryce Button: You’re going to want to go to aja.com/nab. We’ve made your life simple – all of the new products are on a single place.
Larry Jordan: And Bryce Button is the Product Marketing Manager for AJA Video. Bryce, thanks for joining us today.
Bryce Button: Thank you again, Larry.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
Bryce Button: Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: I want to introduce you to a new website – thalo.com. Thalo.com is an artist community and networking site for creative people to connect, be inspired and showcase their creativity. Thalo features content from around the world with a global perspective on all things creative. Thalo is the place for creative folks to learn and collaborate. Thalo offers access to all of the arts, from photography to filmmaking, performing arts to fine arts and everything in between
Larry Jordan: Thalo is filled with resources that all of us can benefit from. In fact, the Thalo artist community is now a family of websites including doddleme.com, digitalproductionbuzz.com and larryjordan.com. Visit thalo.com and discover how their community can help you learn and succeed.
Larry Jordan: And welcome to day one of NAB, we are in the South Lower Hall and I am welcoming a new co-host for this show, James DeRuvo. James, hello, welcome back.
James DeRuvo: Hi, Larry, thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: You have been busy talking to people at doddleme.com and interviewing people and hobnobbing with the great and near great. I’m glad you took some time to visit with us.
James DeRuvo: Yes, wandering around. I’ve already put four miles on my feet today and I’m probably going to double that by the time the sun goes down. I’m looking at 30 miles by the end of the week.
Larry Jordan: Well, what we’re going to be doing now is we’re going to be talking with some really high quality people as opposed to just you and me. I’m delighted to introduce Barbara de Hart. She is the Vice President of Desktop Business and Corporate Marketing for Telestream. Hi, Barbara, good to have you back.
Barbara de Hart: Thank you, I’m so glad to be here, Larry. I’m a little disappointed; I thought I was your new co-host, though.
Larry Jordan: James, move over.
James DeRuvo: Ok, I’m out of here.
Larry Jordan: I missed you last year, you stood us up, but I am so glad that you are back because you always have cool things. What’s Telestream up to these days?
Barbara de Hart: We have been so busy, lots of exciting things going on. One of the things that we’re debuting here at NAB this year is our new Telestream cloud offering. Late last year, we acquired a company called PandaStream, which is a cloud based encoding solution and we have been busy over the last six months taking that product offering and adding a lot of Telestream’s expertise and technology into that cloud offering and so cloud encoding is the name of the game for us these days.
Larry Jordan: Well, I know that your title says Desktop Business and Corporate Marketing, but on your thingy here it says Desktop and Cloud Business.
Barbara de Hart: Right.
Larry Jordan: Why is Telestream in the cloud? Now, from a marketing point of view everybody and their cousin needs to be in the cloud because otherwise you can’t compete in today’s society, but how am I supposed to transfer a 17 terabyte file up to the cloud for compression when I can have Vantage or Episode on my local system? Give me the reason for this.
Barbara de Hart: If you start from the point of looking at the devices that we are viewing our content on and work backwards, when you’re distributing content over the internet you have to get the content up there anyway and so you might as well create the distribution versions that you need and send them out there. A lot of our customers already use cloud storage for different aspects of their workflows and so having encoding capabilities in the cloud is an important part of the whole story.
Larry Jordan: Is there an advantage to encoding in the cloud as opposed to encoding locally?
Barbara de Hart: I think the variables are many whenever you’re looking at an encoding task. It depends on what you’re coming from, what you’re going to, what you need to do with it in the middle, and when you look at the location of that, whether it’s on premise – I would say we don’t care if it’s in the closet or in the cloud, we just want you to use a Telestream solution. Our job is to make the best encoding products available and make them available wherever you’re doing your other work so that we can help solve the problem.
Larry Jordan: If we’re working with Episode, that’d be like a small shop or an individual; working with Vantage, that would be more like an enterprise. Who’s the target market for cloud?
Barbara de Hart: It goes really across the board. When you look at Telestream’s products, we serve markets all the way from education to houses of worship to corporate enterprise to the large media and entertainment companies and when you look at cloud encoding, we cross all of those. There’s as much viability for education, larger or smaller houses of worship, corporate enterprise and media and entertainment as well. There’s also a type of company that Telestream solutions didn’t address before and that is what we would call the cloud resident company, so companies whose operations are all already in the cloud. If they have a need for media processing to occur, they would never consider an on premise solution, so it’s opened up a whole new door for us as far as serving an even broader customer base.
Larry Jordan: That’s very interesting. I still remain somewhat skeptical of the cloud, but I can understand now why you guys would be going after it. Is there anything else new or is that the only thing that you guys have been working on for the last year?
Barbara de Hart: Gosh, no. There are lots of things. One of the exciting things we just announced last week is with our Wirecast Live Streaming product. We announced integration with Facebook Live. Facebook Live is a new and exciting destination for live streaming. It had previously been available to some of the partner levels who produce content or distribute content over Facebook and so now that’s available for everyone, super exciting there, and that’s just really exploded. It’s taken on a whole life of its own, which is really fun.
James DeRuvo: Is Telestream handling the back-end on that?
Barbara de Hart: We’re creating the content on the ground and then we are distributing it directly into the Facebook Live APIs and then, of course, Facebook is handling the distribution from there. It’s really great to be able to take your camera and all of a sudden have a live stream going out to all of your friends in your news feed. It’s a whole new world, really.
James DeRuvo: You know how GoPro announced that periscope integration on Twitter? Is ultimately the goal to have something similar, to where you would have an app that integrates with your camera or that type of thing, or use your mobile phone and then you’d be able to go in from there?
Barbara de Hart: That’s a great question. Telestream has a product called Wirecast Go, which is for the IOS. It’s not just live streaming from your camera, but it adds production capabilities and that’s not yet available or we don’t have the Facebook APIs integrated in with the IOS app, but really our goal and our entry point for this was to be able to give people the tools available in Wirecast for production. We all know the difference in value in just taking a camera shot and shooting that versus being able to add some production to it. You might have multiple cameras, you might want to add in overlay or a lower third, introducing things that are a little bit more production oriented with the content, and so that’s really our focus with Wirecast having that capability.
Larry Jordan: We like Wirecast a lot. We’ve been working with that on the video side of The Buzz for a long time.
Barbara de Hart: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: Anything else?
Barbara de Hart: The big, big, big news for us at the show is on the enterprise media and entertainment side of things. Our Vantage media processing platform has supported VOD workflows only. Just before the show, we announced Lightspeed Live server which allows you to do live streaming and/or live capture on the higher end of the product family, live streaming, enterprise class production, so we’re super excited about that. Anybody who comes by the Telestream booth at NAB can see a huge Live island in the middle.
Larry Jordan: Position this between this and Tricaster.
Barbara de Hart: Our Lightspeed Live? Well, Lightspeed Live doesn’t do any production, it’s basically usually base band in or IP video in and then a live stream out, so it’s often used for repurposing broadcast content for OTT distribution and it’s really targeted at its initial launch at that OTT distribution of…
Larry Jordan: So I’ve got the program created and now I need to be able to distribute it, and that’s where your product would come in. Called what, again?
Barbara de Hart: Yes, it’s called Lightspeed Live.
Larry Jordan: Is it shipping?
Barbara de Hart: It will be shipping – oh, can I say this out loud? – It’ll be shipping early summer.
Larry Jordan: This year?
Barbara de Hart: Yes. Oh yes.
Larry Jordan: But it’s not shipping now.
Barbara de Hart: No, not at the moment.
Larry Jordan: But it’s shipping real soon.
Barbara de Hart: Real soon and it’s in our booth at NAB. Like I say, it takes up the whole center of our booth.
Larry Jordan: So it actually exists.
Barbara de Hart: Oh, it’s real. It’s real and it makes pretty pictures.
Larry Jordan: Of all the things that you’ve announced recently, what’s the thing that’s got your attention the most?
Barbara de Hart: I think certainly the cloud is a new and evolving part of our industry and I think that, when you spend a lot of time focusing on on premise solutions and then you have the opportunity to start moving things up into the cloud, it does open a lot of doors that otherwise wouldn’t have been there. That’s really got a lot of our heads spinning at this point.
Larry Jordan: And where can we go on the web to learn more?
Barbara de Hart: You can go to telestream.net.
Larry Jordan: And Barbara de Hart is the VP of Desktop Business and Cloud Business for Telestream. Barbara, as always, a delight. Thanks for joining us today.
Barbara de Hart: Thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: Take care.
Larry Jordan: Welcome back to NAB. Day two in the South Lower Hall. We have got a ton of great products and companies to talk about and I just can’t wait to get started. Ric Viers is the CEO of blastwave.com, which specializes in some of the most incredible sound effects you have ever heard. Ric, good to have you with us.
Ric Viers: Ah, good to be back.
Larry Jordan: Well, it is always fun to see you, so I’m glad that you’re here. First, give us a sense of what Blastwave is, and then we’re going to talk about all the new stuff.
Ric Viers: Blastwave FX, I hate to say this, we just realized this yesterday, but this is our tenth year.
Larry Jordan: No way!
Ric Viers: See? We should have been planning a little bit better, but yes, this is our tenth year, so we’ll probably have something up our sleeve toward the end of the year to celebrate.
Larry Jordan: Are you bringing a cake to NAB?
Ric Viers: Next year. It’ll be a cupcake but, yes, we’ll bring you something. But, yes, ten years of producing sound effect libraries and that’s where we’re at with…
Larry Jordan: What was it that first got you hooked on sound effects? Because you’ve been doing this for a long time.
Ric Viers: I hate to say it, but I think it’s either next year or the year after this, it’ll be 20 years.
Larry Jordan: 20 years?
Ric Viers: 20 years, yes.
Larry Jordan: Well, you started when you were three.
Ric Viers: I was three years old when I started, a little Fisher Price recorder. But, yes, I actually went to school for film and television production. I was a filmmaker at heart and I still am, but it didn’t take me too long in the industry before I realized the importance of sound and so I was doing location sound as my start and then started recording sound effects somewhat as a hobby. I wasn’t really satisfied with the sound effect collections that were available to the consumer and some of the professional as well, so I just grabbed a microphone and said, “I’ll just do this myself,” which turned into a career.
Larry Jordan: Career and at least one company and maybe more. So what have you got that’s new for us?
Ric Viers: A few things. A follow-up from last year – last year I told you that I was about to create my 666th sound effects library and we did. On Halloween last year, we released library number 666 called Haunted FX.
Larry Jordan: I would hope so, with that number.
Ric Viers: It was 666 sound effects to wake the dead. We documented it on my online reality show YouTube channel, the Detroit Chop Shop Video Diaries. I won’t go into too much detail but we had some absolutely legitimate happenings, some supernatural events that took place during the show. But right now I’m getting ready to go into the sixth season of the show and we’ve got some big stuff planned for the interns this year.
Ric Viers: To date, we’ve given over $150,000 worth of gear and software to the interns from all the sponsors and partners that I have.
Larry Jordan: Are you serious?
Ric Viers: To help them get started. I remember how hard it is to get started. This is a true story – I had to get my dad to co-sign for a loan so I could buy my first couple of microphones, my package, and now I have a mic cabinet that’s got – I hate to even say this – over 175 microphones and I feel so bad for saying this but there are microphones I have that I have never used – yet.
Larry Jordan: Yes, but there are also some who say, “Yes, but I can only use that outside. I can only use that one underwater.” Not to be snobbish or anything, but I’m sure that there’s not one mic that meets all of your needs.
Ric Viers: I’m a little fru-fru when it comes to microphones. There are certain microphones after Labor Day that I won’t touch. People ask me, “Why don’t you just use one microphone?” and that’s kind of like going to a photographer and saying, “Well, obviously you only need one lens, you only have one camera.” It’s the same kind of concept. They capture things differently, they hear things differently, they reproduce the sound differently. It’s a lot of fun to play with and say, “This one sounds better for this.”
Larry Jordan: So obviously you’ve got nothing new to talk about this year.
Ric Viers: Oh, of course, I just sit around at home all day listening to your show, I don’t actually work for a living. Actually, in January we launched something I’m very proud of and that is soundeffects.com.
Larry Jordan: Why? You’ve already got Blastwave. Why another one?
Ric Viers: Well, Blastwave FX is a publisher of professional sound effect libraries. Soundeffects.com…
Larry Jordan: Is a bunch of amateur sound effects.
Ric Viers: No, actually, we have professional sound effects there but the goal of soundeffects.com is to not sell sound effects, although we offer them, but to educate and teach people the world of sound effects, the black art that is making noise. That’s the goal there, to get a community of kids that are interested in getting into this industry or making sounds for their own productions and show them, “Hey, look, here are some articles, some tutorials.” We run contests and all sorts of fun stuff, but that’s the goal behind soundeffects.com.
Larry Jordan: So it’s a teaching site.
Ric Viers: That is a part of it, yes.
Larry Jordan: And Blastwave is a selling site.
Ric Viers: Blastwave FX, yes, we’re a publisher of professional sound effect libraries.
Larry Jordan: Does Blastwave publish more than just your effects?
Ric Viers: Currently no, but that is something that we’re looking into for the future. I probably shouldn’t be saying this out loud, but that’s the truth.
Larry Jordan: I was just wondering because there are sites which specialize in reselling and there are sites that sell their own stuff and I never realized whether Blastwave had a point of view.
Ric Viers: What made us different from the beginning was there were only two major publishers when we started, but they had a whole host of products from various producers and things like that, and that’s good and that’s cool and that’s great, but I think what made us a niche was that we have a certain flavor, a certain style to our sound effects and we wanted to stay true to that vision. It’s easy to go out and just buy a bunch of sound effects from some guys and then make a massive library of sound. That wasn’t really our goal. We wanted to establish a sound to our sound effects from the get-go.
Larry Jordan: A style.
Ric Viers: Yes, yes.
Larry Jordan: And is it just you or do you have a team of people working with you?
Ric Viers: We have a team of people, yes.
Larry Jordan: More than just you?
Ric Viers: Believe it or not, more than just me.
Larry Jordan: When you are the face to the organization, it’s sometimes hard to believe there are people behind you.
Ric Viers: Every sound effect ends up in my ears at some point. Nothing gets released until I personally have mastered it, so the buck does stop here. The decibels stop here. But we do have some people that help us out, absolutely. We’ve got a team of people that handle things like the website, marketing, sales, distribution, things like that because – God help me – I am so horrible when it comes to math and accounting so we have people that take care of that.
Larry Jordan: I was just thinking, what I’d like to do is I’d like to hold you for another segment and talk about the whole process of recording sound effects, if you can give us a couple of extra minutes, but before we do that, talk to me about your latest release. What are the latest sound effects that you’ve got?
Ric Viers: I guess it would be last month, we came out with a new library called Beeps and there are over 3,000 beeps. It is exactly as advertised. We’ve got telemetries and short beeps and one of the things that I found that was a hole in the industry is there are no real world beeps. There are synthesized beeps but it didn’t sound like you were pushing a button on a console of a spacecraft or something like that.
Larry Jordan: 1972 Volkswagen Beetle, beep, beep.
Ric Viers: No, a bit more multimedia slash science fiction types of beeps, so something that actually sounds like it’s coming out of a console or something coming off of a dashboard of a spacecraft or something like that.
Larry Jordan: That must have been terrible to work on. I can’t imagine how hard.
Ric Viers: Oh my gosh, yes, because nothing will freak you out more and make you more stressed than listening to high frequencies for weeks and months on end, let me tell you. Needless to say, I’ve been spending a lot of days at the spa to just bring me down from that.
Larry Jordan: I can’t imagine you spending days at the spa.
Ric Viers: Actually, I’m a spa nut.
Larry Jordan: And for people who want to make a difference with their sound effects, what are two websites you can think of that would be useful for people to know that want the best sound effects?
Ric Viers: In terms of learning information, I would say go to soundeffects.com. We’re getting up there, just now starting to release articles and videos, as well as my website, ricviers.com.
Larry Jordan: And the Ric Viers himself is the voice that we’re listening to. Ric, thanks for joining us today.
Ric Viers: My pleasure.
Larry Jordan: Take care.
Larry Jordan: The Buzz at NAB is powered by Doddle. Doddle gives you a portal into the broadcast, video and film industries. It’s a leading online resource presenting news, reviews and tutorials for the film and video industry. Doddle also offers a resource guide and crew management platforms specifically designed for production. Doddle’s digital call sheets, along with their app, directory and premium listings, provide in depth production organizational tools for business professionals.
Larry Jordan: Doddle is a part of the thalo.com artist community, a family of websites designed for filmmakers to network and collaborate with other creative individuals around the world. Whether you want the latest industry news, need to network with other creative professionals or require state of the art online tools to manage your next project, there’s only one place to go – doddleme.com.
Larry Jordan: And welcome back to the second day of NAB. My name is Larry Jordan and I am joined by my peripatetic co-host, Mr. James DeRuvo. Good to see you. Where have you been and why have you come back?
James DeRuvo: I’ve been wandering through the Central Hall. I just saw the largest drone I have ever seen in my life, it’s about seven feet wide and it can carry five RED camera packages on a gimbal.
Larry Jordan: How many?
James DeRuvo: Five.
Larry Jordan: Wow.
James DeRuvo: You could bomb a country with this drone, it’s so huge.
Larry Jordan: It’s good to have you back.
James DeRuvo: It’s good to be back.
Larry Jordan: Joining us today is Sean Mullen. He’s the lead designer of Rampant Design Tools and a frequent guest on The Buzz and we’re always glad to have you here, Sean. Welcome back.
Sean Mullen: Thanks, Larry. Thanks, James. It’s great to be here.
Larry Jordan: For people who have not realized the quality of material that Rampant Design Tools creates, how would you describe the company?
Sean Mullen: We create drag and drop style effects that are QuickTime based. They work in everything that can read QuickTime, so we’re pretty much platform and OS agnostic. The best way to describe it is we’re the digital saucer for your chips. You can instantly stylize any edit or any motion graphic with our content just by dragging and dropping.
James DeRuvo: Ok, now I’m hungry.
Larry Jordan: I was just thinking, Apple just announced that it was deprecating QuickTime on Windows. Does that suddenly destroy your entire market?
Sean Mullen: It does not. On the Apple side, it doesn’t affect us at all. On the PC side, in the short term you can run a personal firewall that you can block any malicious attacks if you’re still using ProRes. This is bigger than just our company, this is huge, so people aren’t going to abandon ProRes quite yet.
Larry Jordan: ProRes?
Sean Mullen: Yes.
Larry Jordan: Ok.
Sean Mullen: We work with ProRes.
James DeRuvo: Is ProRes heavily dependent on QuickTime to actually operate?
Sean Mullen: Yes and no. On the PC side, I believe so. On the Mac side, this is irrelevant. But, yes, from what I understand, we’re getting mixed information because everyone’s scrambling and everyone’s at NAB, but I think things will pan out a little bit more clearly in the next week or two so we can get a firm answer from both Apple and Adobe and other manufacturers. Right now, people are just scrambling and releasing half sentences that people are deciphering and spreading misinformation, so I think right now the best thing, if you’re a PC user and you’re dependent upon QuickTime, is that you should be using some kind of a personal firewall that blocks malicious stuff; and you probably shouldn’t be going to those kinds of websites on your workstation anyway.
Larry Jordan: That’s a whole separate story, trying to figure out what’s happening with QuickTime. It’s just that a lot of your stuff is QuickTime dependent and I’m sure that when that announcement came out, it was not the happiest day of your life.
Sean Mullen: It wasn’t the happiest day. We issue everything on RED so we can certainly go back to everything and transcode it to something else, whatever that thing happens to be. However, I can’t get two or three PC users to tell me one workflow that’s not ProRes. We could do DNxHR maybe, it just depends. We could do DPX files, it all depends on what the PC community wants and right no-one’s speaking up.
James DeRuvo: Could you port it over to Silverlight?
Sean Mullen: Sure. We could do it to anything that anybody wants.
James DeRuvo: Or HTML5 would probably be…
Sean Mullen: Yes, we could H.265 if the processing speed wasn’t so heavy. Right now, H.265 decoding is a little rough, so compositing with that would probably not be the best right this second.
Larry Jordan: Well, the nice thing is that stuff that you’ve got will work short term and long term will have a codec that we’re going to be able to convert to, so it’s not as though people need to panic; and on the Mac side, everything is just the way it always has been so there’s no change there.
Sean Mullen: Right, no change.
Larry Jordan: So tell us what the new stuff is.
Sean Mullen: Well, we have four new style effects, which are our QuickTime based effects. We have muzzle flashes which are real muzzle flashes and smoke, so if you’re compositing action scenes these are 100 percent real muzzle flashes and gun smoke.
James DeRuvo: Are they Freddie Wong approved?
Sean Mullen: I would like to make that happen. If you can make that happen, let’s do this. I would love to get them in the hands of Freddie Wong and see what he has to say. I know Seth Worley and Ryan Connolly have them, but I don’t know if they’re using them yet. The other style effects we’re using that we’ve created are natural flares. Last year we released anamorphic flares and they were widely popular. The only thing that people asked for was whether they could have more natural flares to pair with those.
Larry Jordan: What’s the difference between the anamorphic and the natural?
Sean Mullen: The anamorphics are very sci-fi looking, very JJ Abrams, big, loud flares. I made this other product as a complementary product, something you’d see in a grocery store commercial or a bank commercial, very soft, beautiful, non-attention grabbing but more color and overlay flares. We also have some flare transitions and some reflections, but the really big news here is that we’ve decided to start making product specific effects as well.
Sean Mullen: We have eight brand new Final Cut products, brand new Final Cut plug-ins that Stephanie Mullen, the other half of Rampant, has created; and we also have After Effects and Premiere Pro presets, so we’ve started branching out.
James DeRuvo: Would she be the better half?
Sean Mullen: She’s more like the better 85 percent.
Larry Jordan: Now, wait, wait, you said these are application specific. What does that mean?
Sean Mullen: We are branching out. We will always do style effects, we’ll always do media based or QuickTime based effects, but we’re always doing product specific things like Final Cut plug-ins, After Effects presets and plug-ins, Premiere presets and plug-ins. We’re going to start creating content for specific things that you can’t necessarily do just with QuickTime.
Larry Jordan: For instance?
Sean Mullen: The eight Final Cut plug-ins are still drag and drop and they’re still based on our QuickTime effects, but they give you things that you can’t do natively with just the QuickTime. For example, my favorite product is the glitch transitions that she made. You can distort your video, but it also displaces your video, so it’s not just an overlay. You’ve got our great glitch overlays but then it also displaces the video on both sides. We also have style mats where you can drag and drop into drop zones, so we’re utilizing the power of Final Cut exclusive effects mixed with Rampant and it’s a good marriage.
Larry Jordan: Now, are these all released or are these just being talked about or what’s the plan?
Sean Mullen: Everything is released. We don’t mess around. We made sure everything was done and out in the market before NAB.
Larry Jordan: I see, so no sleep at all during the month of March.
Sean Mullen: No, no. We’re vampires.
Larry Jordan: What’s your goal? Is your goal to continue the style stuff or is your goal to shift more toward application specific?
Sean Mullen: My goal is to help all video editors and motion designers everywhere do what they need to do, to help them make their video look better. If that’s QuickTime based, I will do that from now until the end of time. If it’s something in After Effects, like a preset, for example we’ve just released real camera shake presents. I shot and tracked everything on the RED and so you can drag real camera shakes from subtle nice drifts to really crazy action and it’s all real. It’s not scripted, it’s not animated, it’s cracked from real camera footage. Everything we do starts in camera, no matter what we do. You can’t do that in QuickTime but it’s still valuable to artists and video editors, so we’re going to continue to make tools that we find useful and helpful to editors and artists everywhere.
James DeRuvo: Back to the discontinuance of QuickTime just for a moment, all your existing clients that already have these style effects that are build in QuickTime, are they going to have to turn around and port those effects over into whatever the new thing is, or will they just go and download it from you? What’s your strategy towards servicing that transition from one to the other? Do you have one yet?
Sean Mullen: We will always have our effects available online. If you’ve bought from us in the past, you can always go back and download, so if you’ve bought flares, for example, you can go back and download a different codec or a different format of those flares when they’re available.
Larry Jordan: Sean, I want to follow up on this idea of creating camera lens flares. How do you record them without recording that which is in front of the lens to begin with?
Sean Mullen: Aha! Yes, that’s the trick. First I had to find really old glass, because today’s glass doesn’t flare that much or that well – it’s not supposed to. Machine made glass doesn’t necessarily flare, so I went and found 30 to 50 year old lenses and did a lot…
Larry Jordan: Where did you find them?
Sean Mullen: You’d be surprised what you can find on eBay that people think have no value. I grabbed as many lenses as I possibly could, so right now our studio’s full of random lenses and adapters.
Larry Jordan: In other words, you’re buying junk.
Sean Mullen: Absolutely. One man’s junk…
Larry Jordan: And storing it in your studio. You’re going to run out of room.
Sean Mullen: Yes.
Larry Jordan: People are going to look at your studio and wonder just what kind of work is being done here.
Sean Mullen: Yes, if I died and someone went through my studio, there would be some questions.
James DeRuvo: Well, look at it this way, he could also get into the lens rental business afterwards.
Sean Mullen: For sure, for sure.
James DeRuvo: If that QuickTime thing doesn’t work out.
Larry Jordan: All right, so we’ve got lenses piled up in corners of your garage. Now what?
Sean Mullen: Then you do some research and find what kind of light creates the flare, then you also find out what kind of angles create the best flare, but you’re right, all lens flares that you see in production have a source and the source is in camera. You’re not going to necessarily get a flare. If you’re pointing at the sun, you’ll get a flare. If you’re not pointing at the sun or if the sun’s off camera, no flare. The real trick is shooting a lot wider than your delivery spec and then cropping.
James DeRuvo: And then do you shoot it against a black background?
Sean Mullen: Yes, 99 percent of everything we do is over a black background.
Larry Jordan: Hmm. Now, when you say doing some research to figure out what the best angle is to get a flare or the best type of light, where do you put the light? Want angle and how bright?
Sean Mullen: I use everything from every single light you can buy online to every flashlight you can buy online. There are literally probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 light sources in our studio.
James DeRuvo: So he has a lens storage unit and then he has a flashlight storage unit.
Sean Mullen: Right, but Florida’s full of hurricanes so we’re definitely prepared when the power goes out. We each have eight flashlights.
Larry Jordan: And Ric Viers was talking earlier about doing sound effects for frogs, he’s got a frog studio that he works with, so we’ve got frog studios and light studios and lens studios.
James DeRuvo: There’s a Dr. Seuss book in here somewhere.
Larry Jordan: I think so. Ok, so we’re shooting against black and now what happens? When you say you’re shooting larger, what kind of camera are you using?
Sean Mullen: Right now I’m using the RED Epic.
Larry Jordan: So you’re shooting at 5K?
Sean Mullen: Right, 5K wide.
Larry Jordan: And then cropping to?
Sean Mullen: I’m still cropping back to 5K, but I’m shooting 5K wide, so I’m giving you 5K 16 by 9 but I’m shooting 5K wide.
Larry Jordan: Now, what does 5K wide mean? For those of us who don’t shoot 5K on a regular basis.
Sean Mullen: I should know the actual dimensions and I don’t right now, I’m embarrassed, I should know it, but I believe it’s almost two to one. It’s huge. It’s ridiculously wide.
James DeRuvo: You have a lot of real estate.
Larry Jordan: It’s messing with the aspect ratio.
Sean Mullen: Yes.
Larry Jordan: So we’ve got more horizontal pixels.
Sean Mullen: Correct.
Larry Jordan: So why shoot wide?
Sean Mullen: That way I can crop out the source. You don’t want to see your source in your composite.
Larry Jordan: Oh, oh, oh! Because the light would actually be in the shot.
Sean Mullen: Correct, correct.
Larry Jordan: So you’ve got to crop the light out.
Sean Mullen: By cropping it out, I now have a flare minus the source and now it’s a compositing element. I really shouldn’t be telling secrets on your show, Larry.
James DeRuvo: Does that throw off the light when you light meter? Does having the direct source throw it off just a little bit and you have to compensate?
Sean Mullen: The great thing about the RED waveform is that it’s very stylized so that you can get a lot of information out of it. I know when I’m clipping, I know when any channel is clipping and I’m usually trying to keep everything dead center. If something’s crazy and I know it’s crazy, I’ll record it and I’ll throw it into REDCINE just to double check, but nine times out of ten I’m not clipping.
James DeRuvo: Can you upscale? How far up can you upscale with 5K?
Sean Mullen: I will never upscale anything. I’m dead set against it.
James DeRuvo: I guess it doesn’t really matter if you’re just doing light flares. You don’t really have to worry about using a 5K light flare in an 8K file.
Sean Mullen: When it comes time for 8K to really be a workflow, I’ll have 8K flares. I’m looking at all the 8K cameras right now.
Larry Jordan: That’s going in the 8K section of the studio as opposed to the flashlights, right next to the frog swamp. That’s where it’s going to go. You know, shooting against black makes sense. Are you giving us alpha composites on any of this stuff?
Sean Mullen: On things like distortion and grunge and film, I’ll give you an alpha channel. On light I will never, ever, ever give you an alpha channel.
Larry Jordan: How come?
Sean Mullen: Because I don’t believe you can put a hard matte on light, I think it looks terrible. I see people do it all the time and it makes me cringe, so I wholeheartedly recommend that you use blend modes If you want to create your own alpha channel after you take our effects, that’s fine but that’s on you. I truly hate lunar mattes and alpha mattes with light. I think it’s wrong.
Larry Jordan: So how do you really feel?
James DeRuvo: Yes, don’t sugar coat it.
Larry Jordan: What blend modes should we use for lens flares? What looks good?
Sean Mullen: Screen is the safe way to go. I know if I say Add, you’ll remind me that you could violate broadcast standards, so you have to be careful where you’re going. But Screen is always the safe way to go. If you’re not going to broadcast, if you’re going to the web or another medium where clipping doesn’t matter, Add is beautiful. But you’re absolutely going to clip when you’re using Add in a light source, especially over a bright background or whatever.
Larry Jordan: I do like Screen, and what Screen does is it combines the lighter pixels of the foreground with the background, which is exactly what you want with lens flares, to just take the lighter pixels.
Sean Mullen: Right, and you can’t do that with an alpha channel.
James DeRuvo: Are they really popular? Are filmmakers using lenses? JJ catches a lot of crap when he uses his lens flares now, so how is…
Sean Mullen: Yes, our flares are our number one selling products but, like anything, use things in moderation.
James DeRuvo: Don’t be JJ.
Sean Mullen: Well, every once in a while we’ll get submitting something and it’s just flare, flare, flare, flare and I’m not sure what the message of the video was, but it’s a great demo reel for Rampant so I guess thank you. But the reality is you should use it sparingly and when it’s purposeful, that’s all.
Larry Jordan: Tasteful.
Sean Mullen: Yes.
Larry Jordan: I’m not exactly sure that word applies to a lot of the products that have been created now.
James DeRuvo: A little goes a long way.
Larry Jordan: Yes. Flares are your most popular product?
Sean Mullen: Yes, flares are our number one selling product right now.
Larry Jordan: What’s number two?
Sean Mullen: Our style mattes, our animated mattes are insanely popular.
Larry Jordan: What’s an animated matte?
Sean Mullen: I spent a few weeks animating every possible shape configuration I should think of, so you could drop video into them. It’s basically stylizing your edit. I guess the best example would be every time you see a reality show where they cut from one scene and it scales down and there’s a box and then right next to it’s another box with the next scene in it and it scales back up. We’re calling those style mattes. They’re basically animated mattes. So we’re basically punching video through all kinds of different shapes, from modern shapes to simple shapes to all kinds of different animations.
Larry Jordan: Hmm. What projects are you working on next?
Sean Mullen: We’re developing so many new products for After Effects and Premiere, as well as Final Cut. We’re really pushing the Final Cut stuff, but I’m also working with a lot of action directors and I’m shooting blood effects next, which won’t be popular for some people but will be popular for others.
Larry Jordan: Blood effects.
Sean Mullen: Blood effects, yes.
James DeRuvo: Are you having a hard time getting volunteers?
Larry Jordan: No, but he’s got a stack of corpses in the studio.
James DeRuvo: Sean Mullen, serial killer.
Sean Mullen: We’d have to answer a lot of questions if someone casually walked by and saw them.
Larry Jordan: Sean, what website can people go to learn both of the old and the new effects that you’re creating?
Sean Mullen: That’s rampantdesigntools.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s rampantdesigntools.com. Sean Mullen is the lead designer of Rampant Design Tools. Sean, thanks for joining us today, it’s always fun.
Sean Mullen: Thanks, Larry. Thanks, James.
Larry Jordan: Take care.
Larry Jordan: Our NAB 2016 coverage is a massive effort and these are only some of the more than 50 interviews that we’ve done here at the show. For all the interviews, be sure to visit nabshowbuzz.com; and I want to thank our guests on tonight’s show, starting with Bill Roberts, the Senior Director of Product Management for Adobe Systems; Dan May, the President of Blackmagic Design; Bryce Button, the Product Marketing Manager for AJA Video Systems; Barbara de Hart, VP of Desktop Business and Corporate Marketing for Telestream; Ric Viers, CEO for Blastwave FX and soundeffects.com; Sean Mullen, the lead designer for Rampant Design Tools, as well as the rest of The Buzz team.
Larry Jordan: In fact, it takes a great group of people to create our NAB show coverage and I want to call them to your specific attention, starting with our Executive Producer, Steven W. Roth; our series producer is Debbie Price; our producer, Paige Braven; production and web, Brianna Murphy; social media, Patrick Saxon; production assistant, Steve Neven. I also want to thank the team at doddleme.com – Heath McKnight, James DeRuvo and Danny Samptos.
Larry Jordan: My name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to The Digital Production Buzz at NAB.
Announcer: The NAB Show Buzz is powered by Doddle, at doddleme.com and sponsored by Maxon and Thalo. Copyright 2016 by Thalo LLC.