Digital Production Buzz
August 11, 2016
Click to listen:
James DeRuvo, Senior Writer, DoddleNEWS.com
Patrick Southern, Editor
Laura Blum, Curator/Journalist, Thalo.com
Ned Soltz, Contributing Editor, Creative Planet Network
Lucas Maciel, Communications Management, Pond5
Michael Kammes, Director of Technology and Marketing, Key Code Media
Larry Jordan: Tonight on the Buzz, we explore the new era of the super editor; especially for documentaries. Patrick Southern, a Freelance Editor for A&E and other networks, shares his thoughts on new trends and workflows in editing.
Larry Jordan: Then, Lucas Maciel, Product Manager for Pond5, describes their new public domain project and how it’s providing tens of thousands of historical clips and stills, for free, to media creators.
Larry Jordan: Next, Laura Blum, Blogger for filmfestivals.com, continues her look at hybrid documentaries; which combine elements of traditional documentaries with feature film techniques from Hollywood.
Larry Jordan: Next, Ned Soltz, Contributing Editor for Creative Planet, answers the age-old question, can my vacation photos look professional?
Larry Jordan: Next, Michael Kammes, Director of Technology and Marketing for Key Code Media, continues our documentary discussion, with a look at picking the right video Codec for non-scripted and reality programming.
Larry Jordan: And, as always, we start first with a look at this week’s new with James DeRuvo of DoddleNEWS. The Buzz starts now.
Male Voiceover: 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: 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. Hi, my name is Larry Jordan and over the last few weeks, we’ve been looking at new technologies and techniques that documentaries can use to heighten their realism and attract a larger audience. That conversation continues on today’s show.
Larry Jordan: Patrick Southern will showcase new editing techniques that he’s using in the documentaries that he edits, including a free archive of historical footage, called the Public Domain Project. Later in the show we’ll meet Lucas Maciel, who’s the Project Manager for the Public Domain Project. Now this is a long-term effort from Pond5. We spoke with Lucas last night from his home in Rio de Janeiro. It was a fun conversation that I know you’ll enjoy.
Larry Jordan: Laura Blum returns with the third part in her series, on how Hollywood is influencing production techniques and documentaries and she does it by discussing Robert Greene’s film, Kate Plays Christine. Plus, long-time Buzz regulars, Ned Soltz look at camera gear and Michael Kammes on how reality shows are getting left behind in technology.
Larry Jordan: Before we get too far into the show, I want to remind you to subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Every issue, every week, gives you an inside look at the Buzz; quick links to all the different segments on the show; and curated articles of special interest to filmmakers. Best of all, every issue is free.
Larry Jordan: I was just thinking, it’s the middle of summer, my inbox is filling up. Why? Because IBC, the second largest trade show in our industry, starts September 8th in Amsterdam; that’s exactly four weeks from today and companies … using the … to catch our attention; which brings me to James DeRuvo; he has a career that spans film and radio and he’s written about technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years. He’s currently the senior writer on DoddleNEWS.com. Hello James, welcome.
James DeRuvo: Hi Larry, thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: Well it’s always good to have you back; so, what’s the latest news.
James DeRuvo: Well, the big news coming out of Sony is that they have created a new Codec that is supposed to compete with REDs [Red Raw], for having to be able to capture the amount of data that we get from a raw video image, but only have a smaller compressed size; and that new Codec is called XOVN. It was designed to support the new Sony AXF R74K external video recorder, which will be the first product to carry it in the Fall. It offers 16 bit encoding, similar to the … Format for Sony’s F55 CineAlta camera. It will increase your shooting time by 142%, while decreasing file transfer time by 59% and it does it with a sliding … encoding algorithm that can record at 661 megabits per second, at 24p, or go all the got toy up to 3300 megabits per second, at 120 frames per second.
Larry Jordan: Another Codec; I cannot tell you how thrilled I am.
James DeRuvo: Not only another Codec but another Sony proprietary Codec.
Larry Jordan: Well, we’re getting used to that. Alright. What else is happening this week?
James DeRuvo: Well, this week DitTorrent, the file sharing service, announced a new fund to help content creators distribute their films, art and music. It’s called the Discovery Fund and it will shoot out … from 2500 and $100,000. Choose 25 select filmmakers, musicians and artists who distribute their work via BitTorrent, which is the file sharing service. It will also offer marketing expertise, so that you can actually get the word out on your project.
Larry Jordan: Yes, but BitTorrent has never been the friend of filmmakers, they’ve ripped off more films than I can count. Why should we pay attention now?
James DeRuvo: Well, the piracy reputation looms like a shot over everything the creators of BitTorrent are trying to do. But they’re working really hard to go legit. They started off with a new Netflix [competitor] streaming service called BitTorrent Now, which offers a 70/30 split on all ad revenue; plus 90% of all purchases to the content creator; and they also allow the content creators to retain the rights to their project. On top of that, now they have the new Discovery Fund; so they’re trying to do things that will encourage legitimate use of the BitTorrent algorithm.
James DeRuvo: The strength of BitTorrent is that it enables content creators to distribute around the world without having to get stuck with tremendous bandwidth costs; because the bandwidth is shared by everybody who uses the Torrent. In theory, it is a very good thing for independent filmmakers. Whether or not it will actually work in practice, is anybody’s guess. But they’re trying. They’re making efforts.
Larry Jordan: Now really quickly, I just realized that Guillermo del Toro did something cool, what was that?
James DeRuvo: This is my favorite story this week Larry. A … filmmaker by the name of Chad Vader, sent a tweet on twitter to Guillermo del Toro, hoping that he would turn around and forward it out to his 375,000 followers, about a crowd funding campaign that he was doing. He was trying to raise just $666 in order to pay his actors for a horror film that he was making, in order to attract investment. But, when del Toro saw it and he saw the picture that the filmmaker had posted, which was a picture from his movie Crimson Peak, he turned around and fully funded the guy’s campaign.
Larry Jordan: Wow, very cool.
James DeRuvo: Sent him a tweet saying “fully funded; now go make your movie.” Now, he still had 20 days left on his campaign on Indiegogo and he can then turn around and focus on actually raising the real movie and make the movie, rather than just a teaser. That was just a really cool story.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more cool stories, where can they go on the web?
James DeRuvo: You can go to DoddleNEWS.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, DoddleNEWS.com and James DeRuvo is the Senior Writer at DoddleNEWS. James, as always, thank you; we’ll chat with you soon.
James DeRuvo: Talk to you later Larry.
Larry Jordan: Bye-bye.
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Larry Jordan: Patrick Southern is a Freelance Television Editor who has spent the last few years working on non-scripted programming for A&E, National Geographic and the Lifetime Movie Network. Hello Patrick, welcome.
Patrick Southern: Hey Larry, thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: It’s always fun chatting with you. We’ve been talking about documentaries for the last few weeks and that’s what you edit. So tell us about the kind of work that you’re editing these days.
Patrick Southern: Absolutely. Currently I’m over at a place called 1895 Films and they do a lot of archival documentaries; and we do some interview stuff. But a lot of it, I guess you could potentially call it clip show ish. It’s a lot of stuff on the Library of Congress and National Archives and a few other resources like that. Yes, we have a lot of fun doing what we do.
Larry Jordan: Tell us about one of your current projects.
Patrick Southern: Currently I am cutting on a project called History Revealed; it’s yet to be released and it’s a lot of dense images and footage from, you know, like 100 years ago, that might have been lost or people haven’t seen in forever. Often times from history stories that aren’t told in your history classes. We try to keep it as international as possible too; you know, make it interesting. You know, maybe something happened in Canada that we wouldn’t talk about here in the US; or maybe something happened in Azerbaijan or some place like that.
Larry Jordan: Well, where are you getting your footage from? I mean, historical footage is hard to find.
Patrick Southern: It is hard to find. Again, for our purposes, the places we start are places like the Library of Congress or the National Archives; or one of my new favorite sources would be Pond5’s Public Domain Project; which is a lot of, you know, footage that might be even in the National Archives but not digitized. Pond5 will go in and do a 4K scan or an HD scan of the footage and then make it available for free, which is really quite nice of them.
Larry Jordan: I like the word free, that has a nice sound. By the got toy, we’re going to have the Product Manager for the Public Domain Project, he’s a guy by the name of Lucas Maciel; he’s based out of Brazil. We’ll be talking to him a little bit later in this show; so thank you for mentioning that.
Patrick Southern: Absolutely; I’m looking forward to hearing from him.
Larry Jordan: Yes, it was a fun interview. Anyway, I want to talk about you and not him. I mean, you’ve been editing for more than a couple of weeks here, you’ve been doing it for years, how have you seen the role of the editor change over time?
Patrick Southern: Well, you know, I have to say, I have not myself experienced, yet, a scenario where you’ve got a Picture Editor, a Sound Editor, somebody else who will be the Story Editor; and I’ve heard many people talk about this mythical scenario. But, you know, from the very get-go, I’ve kind of had to learn a little bit of everything, you know. You have to know a little bit about sound mixing, a little bit about graphics, a little bit about how to do some research. You know, how do you find your footage, how do you color grade; and all that has been very much, not necessitated by the projects that I’m working on, but it’s been very helpful, I’ll say, in getting and keeping work, since I started.
Larry Jordan: Are you seeing this as budgets decreasing and people can’t afford to pay; in other words, we’re having a race to the bottom? Or are you seeing the technology is opening up new vistas for editors? Because, one could look at this as the glass is half full and the other the glass is half empty.
Patrick Southern: Certainly. I think that those two things are extremely related. I think that budgets are going down in terms of the number of people that you might have on a team; largely because, the software has become more accessible, in terms of both price and in terms of usability. You don’t really need a single person in terms of being able to press the right buttons to do picture anymore.
Patrick Southern: Certainly there is a place for somebody who is a Picture Editor who is extremely good at picture; so good that, to have them do anything else would be a shame. Those editors still exist, you know, on television shows like Empire or anything else you might find on NBC or Fox, in terms of narrative. In terms of non-scripted, a lot of the tools have become easy to get a hold of, you don’t have to have $100,000 for a seed of Avid.
Patrick Southern: Now you’ve got editors that can and should learn more than just picture editing; they need to know how to lay in sound effects and how to do at least a basic mix. I feel like, if you know how to do graphics, the better your rough cut looks the better it’s going to get through the network; the faster it will get through the network; the sooner you can launch the project and get onto the next show.
Larry Jordan: Let’s put you back in the editor’s chair. I’ve heard this new concept defined as a Super Editor, somebody that’s doing more than just cutting pictures. You’re sitting in the editor’s chair yourself and it’s nice to have all that control; but not everybody is good at everything. Are we setting ourselves up to fail?
Patrick Southern: You know, I would say that it’s possible. What’s that phrase? You’re a jack of all trades but master of none. I do think that, to a certain degree, if somebody’s like just strictly a Picture Editor, they’re probably going to be a better Picture Editor than somebody that’s doing a little bit of everything. I don’t know that there’s any getting around that. I will say that, being in a place where, you know, a non-scripted, you kind of have to be a little bit of a Super Editor and I think that the best that you can do, when facing that, is, you know, focus on one area and grow yourself in that one area.
Patrick Southern: For example, right now I have been focusing on timing, you know; making sure that my VO and my picture and my sound effects have a rhythm to them. I think that, taking the time while you’re in the midst of doing many different things and focusing in on, okay, what is a skill that I can increase in? What’s a weakness that I can work out? I think that that’s important, while you’re being the Super Editor.
Patrick Southern: I definitely think that you’re right, if somebody has the opportunity to just focus on picture, they’re going to have a much better handle on picture editing, than somebody who’s having to do everything at once.
Larry Jordan: How do we convince clients, when’s the time to bring in an expert? In other words, what’s the deciding factors?
Patrick Southern: You know, I guess in that case it’s, when you have the budget that’s large enough and you’ve got the viewing audience that’s going to be big enough. You know, other than that Larry, I honestly don’t know. I couldn’t say when the right time is to push for having somebody that’s a Picture Editor, somebody that’s a Story Editor. As I mentioned previously, you know, I’ve yet to be on a team where that’s been the case; where there’s been that many people working on post on any one particular job.
Larry Jordan: I remember when I started out in production, I was working with crews that were 20 and 25 people and the biggest crew I ever worked with in video was about 85 people; and I thought, wow, this is really cool. It only happened once but, boy, I still remember that show; so I know what you mean.
Larry Jordan: Every editor clearly wants a job and every editor needs a job. What skills do you think we need to develop to become more conversant, to survive in this new Super Editor world? What do we need to do and learn?
I think the first thing to learn is how to learn and I that’s the one thing I am thankful for about my college education Larry. Even there, you know, it was like, the classes I’m taking it’s not enough. I think that if you can learn to learn, you know; go on Video Copilot, take tutorials and while you’re working, you know, find avenues that you can learn. Either reading a book, you know, reblinking of an eye or, you know, … podcast like this one. Find as many helpful tricks as you can; whether it be video tutorials like [Gripple] training or [London.com].
Patrick Southern: I think that, teaching yourself as much software skills as you can is good; but also, focusing on the core skills. Because software’s going to change, so, I think that if you know how to change between pieces of software, like Premiere or Final Cut, or Avid or After Effects or Fusion or Nuke or Resolve, if you have the ability to learn those quickly, as long as you know the core concepts, I think jumping from software to software is going to be a little bit easier and jumping from tool to tool and task to task is a lot easier once you, you know, learn the core skills and learn how to find those resources for learning.
Larry Jordan: Let’s put you back editing again, which is always a fun place to go. How do you find the historical footage that you get? How do you track it down? Because, it seems to me that finding the right shot when people weren’t shooting film as much as they are today, must be really tricky.
Patrick Southern: It is tricky. To be frank, there are some stories that there’s just not enough footage or enough photos to support. For the project I’m on right now, it starts out with things like searching battleship. Story around, what seems to have the largest treasure trove of images. But, you know, the best thing that I can say to do is, go out and, if you think that there might be a museum that might have stuff related to what you’re looking for.
Patrick Southern: You know, I’ve called aviation museums or naval museums and often times, you know, it’s not going to be something that shows first thing on Google when you type it in; you need to think of, okay, where did this take place? Therefore, I need to look at a museum near that location. Local museums and large archives like the Library of Congress or the National Archives are usually where I go and I usually just search, you know, you type in like you would into Google; you type in the term for the thing that you’re searching for or you think creatively, when I’m going to Pond5, sometimes I’ll just type in, okay, I know the story is about this, but I don’t have exact footage of this, so let me get something generally like it.
Patrick Southern: Sometimes you play a little bit looser with the archival footage that you’re looking for. Maybe you just need a shot of water from the 1930s.
Larry Jordan: Are you doing your own research, or do you have somebody that helps you out?
Patrick Southern: We do have a team of researchers here, but I do enjoy the research process; so I will do a little bit of the plan myself and we do have a number of researchers that, if I need something specific, then I’ll call on them and they will go and do magic that, you know, I certainly could not do.
Larry Jordan: You’re just looking for an excuse to browse the web, I can tell by listening.
Patrick Southern: Yes, well I really do enjoy looking through the National Archives and the Library of Congress; they’ve got some crazy images and it is frankly a lot of fun to look through.
Larry Jordan: Patrick, for people that want to keep track of you, what website can they go to?
Patrick Southern: They can go to twitter.com/jpsouthern; or they can go to 1895 Films to see what we’re working on over here.
Larry Jordan: Patrick Southern is the Freelance Editor there and Patrick, thanks for joining us, it’s been wonderful chatting.
Patrick Southern: Alright, thanks so much Larry.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye-bye.
Larry Jordan: Laura Blum is a Film and Events Curator, as well as a thalo.com Contributing Writer, filmfestivals.com blogger and former Film and Television Development Executive with Sony BMG. She gives us a regular look at the intersection of the creative arts, with filmmaking. Welcome back Laura.
Laura Blum: it’s great to be back Larry; thank you.
Larry Jordan: You know, last week, you used a term called Hybrid Filmmaking. What does that term mean to you?
Laura Blum: Narrative Filmmaking is about entertaining, you know, fantasy and also, you know, maybe delivering transcendence. Well, traditional doc making is really about exposing the truth and traditionally it uses formal devices that are more distancing. So Hybrid Filmmaking comes along to use elements such as, let’s say, performance, special effects; animation and the whole point is to tell the true story.
Larry Jordan: Well last week, again, we talked about documentaries taking their cue from fiction films. What’s an example of this?
Laura Blum: Yes, there’s quite a few. I’m going to talk about some that are coming up. I think it’s August 24th, that Kate Plays Christine opens; that’s by Robert Greene. Some folks may know his 2014 film Actress. Kate Plays Christine stars and I do mean stars Kate Lyn Sheil, an actress people may know from House of Cards. She preps for the role of Christine Chubbuck in this film. Christine is the Florida News Reporter who killed herself rather sensationally on national television in 1974.
Laura Blum: Instead of watching real life events unfold, we watched the performance and what it brings up. Without giving too much away, it culminates in an art form that is supposed to be about objectivity, but it’s really asking us to think about how much subjectivity went into this document. There’s a moment of soap opera, quite the whole thing is … of a camera. It really asks us to think about, how much does Kate Play Christine and how much does Kate play herself.
Larry Jordan: Why are documentaries using these techniques? I mean, hasn’t the traditional got toy of revealing the truth through a documentary been sufficient?
Laura Blum: There’s two answers to that and I shall go straight for the crasser answer. One is that, for a producer there’s a real benefit because it expands the audience for non-fiction [fare]. You can really just say that a factual piece goes down easier if it’s sweetened with more familiar methods of dramatic storytelling. Think about it, it’s more emotionally involving, more memorable; you know, you could say it’s hookier, it’s more approachable. So to borrow stylistic elements from Hollywood means you might see a return on your investment.
Laura Blum: Then, you can also say that, all of the art forms have been up to this mischief in recent years or even decades, where they’ve been mixing it up with archival interpretation and staged reality. Let’s go back to filmmaking. You had Dogma Movement; making of films, TV, of course, team up with reality formats; online videos are absolutely awash with [tell all] selfies; and content makers have been more and more pulling back the curtain on how it produces content and how they come up with evidence. So we’re seeing these vogues pop up in doc making.
Larry Jordan: It sounds like there’s a number of trends that we can explore and Laura, I want to bring you back next week and we’ll continue our conversation about Hybrid Filmmaking. Laura Blum, thank you so very much.
Laura Blum: Thank you so much. Thank you Larry.
Larry Jordan: Ned Soltz is a Contributing Editor for Creative Planet, a moderator on 2-pop and Creative Cow Forums and, best of all, a regular here on the Buzz. Hello Ned, welcome back.
Ned Soltz: Hello Larry and hello to all of our listeners; it’s good to be with everybody this evening.
Larry Jordan: Well, welcome back from your Alaskan cruise. Did you take any pictures?
Ned Soltz: Oh, I shot about 3300 stills and rolled about an hour and 45 minutes worth of videos; so, yes, I am wading through material right now. At the same time, I’m trying to put together some kind of article, which I’ve actually done, and will appear any day now on redsharknews.com.
Larry Jordan: What gear did you take?
Ned Soltz: Well, I took a Sony A6300 Mirrorless camera body and a Sony A7R2 Full Frame Mirrorless body camera. I took a Sony Zeiss 16-70 F4 lens and the new Sony 72300 G-series lens; as well as the 24-70 Full Frame G-Master F28 lens; a Sony 16-35 lens and a Rokinon 8mm Fisheye; only for the APS system. Then, two GoPros and assorted mounts.
Larry Jordan: Did you see any of Alaska, or watch it all through the viewfinder?
Ned Soltz: I think a lot of it got watched through the viewfinder and that was part of what I was trying to prove on this trip or explore on this trip; which is, is it possible to try to go on vacation and, at the same time, do serious photographic and video work, with some series gear? I think the answer to that is a partially yes and a partial no.
Ned Soltz: Alaska, of course, is noted for its wildlife; but to be a good wildlife photographer, you’ve got to sit and wait for the wildlife to appear. Because, as we learned, as large as Denali National Park is, for example, and you hear about all of these things, there are only 350 grizzly bears in the millions of acres of Denali; and only 50 wolves. The land really doesn’t support as large a livestock population as one would think it did. But you can’t do that when you’re on vacation and your wife is getting a little antsy and the tour bus is about to move on and you don’t have self-service to call Uber if you get left behind; and there isn’t any Uber in the middle of Denali National Park anyway.
Ned Soltz: You have to really grab shots as best as possible and, in fact, as I’m processing my material, I am really surprised at the quality of the material I got was able to get; which I don’t attribute so much to photographic and video skills as I really do to the versatility of the Sony equipment. I’ve really got to give Sony a tremendous amount of credit, for what they’re been able to produce with these APSC, as well as full-frame cameras.
Larry Jordan: How are you going to organize all these clips and especially the stills?
Ned Soltz: My stills are definitely organized in Adobe Lightroom. It’s also a wonderful digital asset manager. You can organize your video in Lightroom as well; so, it’s wonderful for folders and sub-folders and key words and to be able to represent those and retrieve those. I’m using a still service called smugmug.com, which is a great archiving service; which also allows various levels of subscription, one of which is actually even to be able to sell some of these stills, which I hope to be able to do. These go onto SmugMug, I am processing in Lightroom, some of the things I’m taking over to Photoshop. The GoPro video will go through the GoPro app first and then it’s going to go into Resolve for coloring and even potentially editing; because that’s another whole set of topics of how impressed I am now with Da Vinci 12.5 and today 12.5.1 editing. The main digital asset management of this project is via Adobe Lightroom.
Larry Jordan: Very cool. Ned, for people that want to keep track of you and see if you actually do edit your home movies, where can they go on the web?
Ned Soltz: Well, the best place for this particular project is to keep an eye on redsharknews.com; where this more detailed article will go up; as well as a future article on: Is the same skill set necessary or available for shooting stills as for shooting video? This will all be on redsharknews.com
Larry Jordan: Ned Soltz is the writer of the article and regular on the Buzz. Ned, thanks for joining us today.
Ned Soltz: Thank you so much Larry.
Larry Jordan: Bye-bye.
Ned Soltz: Bye-bye.
Larry Jordan: Lucas Maciel was the Lead Coordinator of Pond5’s the Public Domain Project, which is an effort to make some of the world’s most valuable and historical audiovisual assets available to all media makers for free. Hello Lucas, welcome.
Lucas Maciel: Hello Larry. It’s lovely to speak to you.
Larry Jordan: It’s my pleasure. How would you describe the Public Domain Project?
Lucas Maciel: The Public Domain Project was an effort that we started some time ago, that we believe very much in. It’s our mission to serve media makers with everything they may need, when they’re working on a project. We think that they need to have access to footage; to after effects templates; to soundtracks; to sound effects. It’s obvious to us that, one of the most valuable resources that people can use when they’re making a project is historical footage; is historical audio and speeches; and this kind of content sometimes is very hard to find, but very useful.
Lucas Maciel: Thinking of this need, that video makers have, we decided we wanted to help solve this problem; making this content that is hard to find available in an easy to use platform.
Larry Jordan: Lucas, this costs Pond5 money and you’re making it available for free. Why did Pond5 decide to do this?
Lucas Maciel: Well, first of all, I think it comes from the understanding that, this is the right thing to do; to be honest. It’s our mission. We believe that we need to fuel creativity by empowering media makers with whichever they need. We don’t think Public Domain content should be costly to people. This is content that belongs to the world, by whichever reason; be it because the government made it available; maybe because it expired the copyrights that existed over it. It should be easy for people to find.
Lucas Maciel: Of course it gives us good publicity, of course, it gives us links back to the sites; so we do gain something in the end. But most of all, we think that’s the right thing to do. It should be that hard that you have to go to the National Archives, the Library of Congress yourself or hire a researcher to look for the content that you want to use and it shouldn’t’ be difficult to find when you’re using a tool online, that had never been thought for media markers, you know, they had been built for historians. We thought it was the right thing to do, to make it available for free and in a got toy the media makers can use easily.
Lucas Maciel: I think more companies should think about doing good, you know, doing good to the world; not only doing good to their pockets, you know. We think that, when you do the right thing, that’s the real worth in having a company and we want to get fulfilled in this mission and this project is a key part of that.
Larry Jordan: How many clips are involved in the Public Domain Project? How big is the library?
Lucas Maciel: We have around 80,000 assets; 10,000 of them are video clips; around 65 are around photographs too; and we have something like 3-4,000 audio clips, which are anything from sound effects from NASA, like, “Houston we have a problem” or just the sounds from space and from the rockets, to historical speeches; from Churchill and from many historical figures. Also we have something that we acquired from the Library of Congress, like music from immigrant communities that came to the US in the 30s. They recorded their traditional … culture in music and we have those recordings available; just so it gives some diversity to the collection as well. Something around 80,000 assets from different kinds of media types.
Larry Jordan: 80,000 clips is a lot of clips. Where did you get them from and how did you decide which ones to include?
Lucas Maciel: We got those clips from a variety of sources; some of the most important forms were the Library of Congress and the National Archives. When choosing the subjects that we wanted to have in the collection, we had in mind the things that media makers need to use the most. Not only because it was historical but because it was visually interesting. Let’s say, something that people really look for is sports; so we wanted to find sports content, especially now that the Olympics is happening; and also we have some footage from the Olympics of Helsinki in 1952 that was released in the Public Domain. From lots of old sports as well.
Lucas Maciel: We had this criteria of, what’s visually interesting for people to remix; because our ultimate goal was that people tell history again, you know, like, they retell these stories; because, as long as it’s being told it’s alive. This is the criteria is that it’s visually interesting, but also about historical relevance. As I mentioned before, some historical audio and speeches made it to the collection. This is some of the criteria for selecting the subjects.
Lucas Maciel: But when it comes to selecting the sources, we had to be very careful because, we are taking about content that is free of copyright; so it really has to be free of copyright. We had to take a look at the legislation in the US and at the little details, to make sure that, what we are making available does not pose any risk to our users. You know, they can rest assured that, whichever they’re using will cause them no trouble in terms of any legal obstacles; because there are no copyrights involved.
Lucas Maciel: There is a difference between copyright and rights of images and, I mean, the laws between different countries; so, it was a very detailed oriented work. You know, like sometimes you’ll find something that is in the Public Domain but not in the US and we’re, okay, let’s throw it away. We could have had a much larger collection, but we made a smaller one that we knew was really safe for people to use. So far, I mean, the project has been live for over a year, one and a half years so far, I think, and we’ve received absolutely zero reports from customers with legal problems, with somebody that claimed copyright over the work that they used.
Larry Jordan: When you’re gathering the clips, what workflow did you use? Did you have to digitize them? If so, what format are they in and did you do any cleanup?
Lucas Maciel: What we basically do with [Foolish], for example, is we select some film, some reels that we’ve got in the archives that had not been digitized. We took them to a dark room, we shot them in 4K, as they were being projected on the screen. Then we run them through a tool that we have that cuts the reel, whenever there is a cut in the footage; so when you have a continuous sequence and it breaks to another sequence, it splits them apart into separate clips. Then we run these clips through a tool that makes auto-tagging; so it analyzes frame by frame and adds key words to each individual clip. Then we run them also through some human curation, to add extra key words and do some [futuring]. But the tool can also improve itself and give better key words.
Lucas Maciel: This allows people, for example, to search, not only for the subject of the original reel, but also the subject of that specific clip. I mean, a good example is, rather than looking for Germany and World Got tor II, you might need a shot of a soldier walking by the sidewalk when a civilian’s looking. You can search for soldier, sidewalk, civilian, daylight and then you will find that specific clip that suits your needs. That is one of the got toys that we make this content available.
Lucas Maciel: We also combine with the metadata that already exists with the file; so, the metadata that’s in the archives, you know. But this gives a good idea of the process behind making this content available in the best got toy for media makers to use.
Larry Jordan: Why did you decide to project the film clips rather than scan them?
Lucas Maciel: Actually, there are cases of both, but that’s merely practicality and we didn’t have access to the scanning tools from the archives; so this was an easy and fast got toy to do it ourselves. But we spoke with the archives, as we were doing this, and they gave us some hard drives with content that they had scanned; so we went through the same process with content that they had scanned in their machines. There’s a mix of both.
Larry Jordan: Lucas, where can people go on the web specifically, to see this Public Domain content?
Lucas Maciel: Oh, they can go to pond5.com, which is our website and if they type directly pond5.com/free, they land directly on the Public Domain Project landing page. Then, if they’re just searching, regularly, on our site, they can use the Future, to see Public Domain only results.
Larry Jordan: Lucas Maciel was the Lead Coordinator of Pond5’s Public Domain Project and Lucas, thanks for joining us tonight.
Lucas Maciel: My pleasure. You’re welcome Larry.
Larry Jordan: Here’s another website I want to introduce you to; DoddleNEWS.com. DoddleNEWS gives you a portal into the broadcast, video and film industries. It’s a leading online resource; presenting news, reviews and products for the film and video industry. DoddleNEWS also offers a resource guide and crew management platforms, specifically designed for production. These digital call sheets, along with their app, directory and premium listings, provide in-depth organizational tools for busy production professionals.
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Larry Jordan: This is Larry Jordan, the host of the Digital Production Buzz. The following interview is an excerpt from a recent program. To hear the entire program, visit digitalproductionbuzz dot com.
Larry Jordan: In his current role as Director of Technology and Marketing at Keycode Media, Michael Kammes consults on the latest in technology and best practices. He also has a strange love of workflow, codecs and process. Hello Michael, welcome back.
Michael Kammes: Hello Larry, great to hear your voice. It makes the world right.
Larry Jordan: [LAUGHS] Thank you, I’ll send you a check tomorrow. You know, we think of Hollywood as leading the charge into new technology, but while that may be true of feature films, is it true for all of its programming?
Michael Kammes: That’s a fantastic topic and it probably won’t be very popular, but let me ask you a question Larry. When you’re editing content, what would you say the average age of your gear is? If you just had to guess, would it be a year, four years? What would be an average age for it?
Larry Jordan: Well I’m sort of atypical, because I bought everything new about a year and a half ago, so everything I’ve got is about a year old.
Michael Kammes: OK, a year old. If we look at what really makes Hollywood go around, and contrary to popular belief, it’s not feature film, it’s television. That’s what employs everyone in Hollywood. There’s just an immense amount of unscripted television. And if we look at the technology that a lot of the unscripted houses are using, they’re very risk averse.
Larry Jordan: [LAUGHS] Yes, that’s true.
Michael Kammes: Yes, believe it or not, you wouldn’t think the mecca of technology would be risk averse, but we look at the technologies they’re using, and they’re using codecs that came out in 2001. We’re talking ten to one. A lot of the houses are still using Avid Unity, which they stopped making Unities in 2005. So, we’re dealing with storage chassis that have hard drives that could be upwards of 11 years old.
Larry Jordan: I get emails every day from people saying, I’m working with a 2007 Mac Pro. What do I need to get this thing optimized? Yeah, I totally understand. Risk averse is exactly the right word.
Michael Kammes: Go ahead.
Larry Jordan: What do they need to catch up? What’s the next step?
Michael Kammes: Well it’s a domino effect. Really what we need to start doing is working with better quality codecs, but unfortunately while better quality codecs have better visual fidelity, it means you need more storage to handle these higher bit rate codecs, and that’s an outlay of cash. So if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Let’s keep using the same storage and we don’t have to change our work. But where that falls down is, in the age of social media where we have to get preview cuts out and we want to share on social media before the project’s done, it makes it so the editors have to conform every time they need to get any kind of cut out. And that’s very difficult and time consuming.
Larry Jordan: Is social media going to be a driving force, or the conversion to HDR? What do you see?
Michael Kammes: I think in this case, it’s going to be getting it out before the show is ready to air. So getting it out to social media, getting it on social media platforms, creating other content rather than just what’s over broadcast.
Larry Jordan: Well the industry is not only risk averse but they hate spending money and budgets are tight. Is this technology even affordable to most of video people today?
Michael Kammes: I think it really is affordable. If we look at XDCAM, which is a ten year old codec, that’s not a heavyweight codec, and if folks are using that for their offlines, you know have a broadcast quality broadcast screener that you can put on the web, you can send out for a view and approve, and you can do things like check focus with ten to one.
Larry Jordan: That’s a frightening thought. So Michael, where can people go to learn more about the technology they should pay attention to?
Michael Kammes: Couple of places. Fivethingsseries dot com, and my namesake, michaelkammes dot com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, M I C H A E L K A M M E S and the Mister Michael Kammes himself is the voice you’ve been listening to. Michael, it is always fun chatting. Thank you much for taking the time.
Michael Kammes: Thank you Larry.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: It’s been a fascinating conversation over the last few weeks, looking in-depth at documentaries and some of the new technology we can use to improve our projects.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests this week:
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