Aharon Rabinowitz, Head of Marketing, Red Giant
Travis White, Head of Products, NewBlueFX
Michele Terpstra, VP Marketing, Toolfarm
Michael Kammes, Director of Technology, Key Code Media
Jonathan Handel, Entertainment/Technology Attorney, TroyGould & The Hollywood Reporter
James DeRuvo, Film and Technology Reporter, DoddleNEWS
Larry Jordan: Tonight on The Buzz, we are looking at plugins, starting with Red Giant. Red Giant began creating plugins in 2002. Over the last 14 years they’ve created a library of essential software tools for video editors and tonight, Aharon Rabinowitz, head of marketing for Red Giant talks about their history, their most popular products and their newest titles.
Larry Jordan: Michele Yamazaki Terpstra is a full time pluginologist, and the VP of marketing for Toolfarm. Tonight she shares her suggestions on essential but obscure plugins that can solve problems during editing.
Larry Jordan: Michael Kammes, director of marketing for Key Code Media got his start as an editor and even today has a soft spot in his heart for cool software, so we asked him to list his favorite plugins and tonight his answer may surprise you.
Larry Jordan: Travis White is the head of products for NewBlueFX. He wraps up our coverage of plugins with an in depth look at Titler Pro 5, a cross platform titling package that can create unique animated titles for the NLE of your choice.
Larry Jordan: Jonathan Handel joins us with an update on all the labor strife in Hollywood, including SAG/AFTRA, the DGA, the Writer’s Guild, and wages that went missing at the Magic Castle.
Larry Jordan: All this, plus James DeRuvo with our weekly DoddleNEWS update. The Buzz starts now.
Announcer: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking – authoritative – one show serves a worldwide network of media professionals – current – uniting industry experts: production, filmmakers, post production and content creators around the planet – distribution. From the media capital of the world in Los Angeles, California, The Digital Production Buzz goes live now.
Larry Jordan: And welcome to The Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for the creative content industry covering media production, post production and marketing around the world. Hi, my name is Larry Jordan.
Larry Jordan: Tonight’s show looks at plugins that enable us to do more with our editing software than either Adobe or Apple ever expected. Plugins can be fun, for example creating fancy transitions or colorful effects, or serious such as removing echoes from our audio or correcting color problems in our video. But whatever the need, there’s probably a plugin out there somewhere that can help us get our work done faster, better or more creatively. One of the earliest plugin developers for the Mac was Red Giant Software, and they begin our plugin section tonight. One of the latest to join the Mac, though they were on Windows for a long time before that, is NewBlueFX and I thought it would be appropriate to end our show with them. These will be some fun conversations, and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you.
Larry Jordan: By the way, I want to invite 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 the different segments on the show and curated articles of special interest to film makers. And best of all, every issue is free, and comes out on Friday.
Larry Jordan: Thinking of every week, it’s time for a DoddleNEWS update with James DeRuvo. Hello James.
James DeRuvo: Hello Larry.
Larry Jordan: So what’s happening this week? What’s the news?
James DeRuvo: Well 2016 has been a rough year for all of us, but in particular, it’s been tough for GoPro. They started the year with a seven percent labor force reduction. They’ve been dealing with some severe competition from lower price knock offs. They hoped that the KARMA drone would turn things around, coming out just before the holidays, but then they took it on the chin with the drone recall that recalled all 2500 that had been sold. Now, news is coming out that just before the holidays, they’re cutting another 15 percent of their jobs to make the company profitable.
Larry Jordan: Is this across the entire company or has one department been hit…?
James DeRuvo: Across the entire company. A year ago they had 1500 people employed, and now one in five is out of a job.
Larry Jordan: Do we have any good news somewhere?
James DeRuvo: Well it’s not all bad news for GoPro. The sales figures came in for Black Friday and GoPro said they are 45 percent higher than last year.
Larry Jordan: Good.
James DeRuvo: So it’s looking up but they’re also going to have to close their entertainment division and the President of the company is stepping down. Hopefully these steps will right this ship and then they’ll fix the KARMA drone problem and we’ll get back to the salad days with GoPro. But until then, we’re just going to have to weather the storm.
Larry Jordan: Very true. Do we have any other news besides GoPro?
James DeRuvo: It’s fortuitous that you’re doing plugins tonight because there’s a new plugin from a company called Digital Heaven, and it’s called the Speed Scriber and it’s from Apple Final Cut Pro X and what it does is it automatically transcribes your videos with almost zero latency and 99 percent accuracy. Does it in real time and you take your file, and drag and drop it into this folder called SpeedScriber Pending, and then you drop that folder onto the icons for SpeedScriber and within a few minutes, it has transcribed your entire video clip. Pretty exciting.
Larry Jordan: That’s pretty amazing. I’m really curious to see what kind of accuracy levels it has.
James DeRuvo: It says it has between 90 and 99 percent accuracy and when it’s done, it opens it up so you can look and easily find the mistakes, and correct them within a few minutes. So in less than half an hour you’re going to have a completely transcribed version for close captioning, for posting up your show notes and that type of thing. It’s going to be great for video and productions, but it’s also going to be great for podcasters too, because they’ll be able to transcribe their shows. It’s based on a flexible permanent pricing with discounts for large purchases. They’re working on versions for Avid Media Composer and Adobe Premiere Pro.
Larry Jordan: Have they announced a ship date?
James DeRuvo: It’s in Beta right now, there’s no launch date yet. For now, it’s just OS X, Yosemite, and above only on the Mac. But very exciting.
Larry Jordan: Digital Heaven’s based in London, they’ve been a developer for a long period of time, but they’ve been quiet for the last couple of years. This is very exciting, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next. What else have we got?
James DeRuvo: They’re using their cloud service that they announced at NAB to carry all the heavy lifting. It’s really going to be cool once they get it launched.
Larry Jordan: What else have we got?
James DeRuvo: There’s this French photographer who decided to make his own camera lenses with a 3D printer.
Larry Jordan: He decided to do what?
James DeRuvo: Make his own camera lenses. He has a habit of collecting old and broken camera lenses, and he took all these lenses apart, got all the lens elements out of them, then he mocked up the kind of lens they wanted to make with cardboard, and once he got what he liked, and figured out that his design was going to work and he’d get a sharp image, he then went to a company called Fabulous which is a 3D modeling and printing company and the modeled this 150 millimeter f1.8 monocle lens with a Plaquette diaphragm, and it’s incredibly sharp, and at f1.8 it’s pretty fast. It also has a slot in the design so you can insert custom bokeh filters.
Larry Jordan: That’s pretty amazing.
James DeRuvo: What I think is really cool about it is that with 3D modeling and printing, you do stuff like this, you can take broken lenses and fix them, you could create your own prime lenses and anamorphic lenses. The sky’s the limit if you can get multiple elements in there. It’s amazing what 3D printing can do.
Larry Jordan: That’s pretty amazing, and for people who want more information about what’s happening in our industry, where do they go on the web?
James DeRuvo: All these and other stories can be found at Doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo is the senior writer for Doddlenews.com and joins us every week with the DoddleNEWS update. James, thanks for joining us today.
James DeRuvo: Alright Larry, take care.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
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Larry Jordan: Aharon Rabinowitz is the head of marketing for Red Giant and the Executive Producer of Red Giant Films. An interesting piece of trivia about Aharon is that he began his career as a production intern on Sesame Street, which I have been envious of ever since I first read that. Hello Aharon, welcome back.
Aharon Rabinowitz: Hi, thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: Sesame Street really?
Aharon Rabinowitz: Yes. As a kid you grow up watching it, and then the fantasy of going to work there. Honestly, it was a dream come true, and even though I’ve always understood the muppets were human beings, but seeing it in action takes your childhood wonder and turns it into adult wonder, and how they can possibly pull this off. It was a great part of my career, I really miss it.
Larry Jordan: I had the great pleasure of working with Oscar the Grouch for one three week span. It was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had. They’re just an amazing character.
Aharon Rabinowitz: The funny thing is I took my kids to the set recently on Sesame Street, and I had warned them that the muppets were actually people, and not muppets, and they totally got that. But when they took off Big Bird’s costume, my daughter was “What just happened?” I said, “I told you that they were puppets,” and she said, “I know, but not Big Bird.”
Larry Jordan: Illusions. The last couple of years have seen a lot of evolution at Red Giant. How would you describe the company now?
Aharon Rabinowitz: The company started off as a software company that really focused on just a couple of little tools for animators, motion graphic artists, film makers, and over time it’s just grown into this amazing set of tools that artists use. In fact it was that growth that I started to see when I was working as an animator, where I decided I wanted to come and work for them. I was using Track … a lot and I’d just seen Magic Bullet Looks, the first iteration of that, and I thought this is a company that really understands the customer and people who are using this stuff. It would be really cool to work with them. I called them, and they said “No thanks,” but we managed to get there and here eight years now, and the company’s grown up and they’re producing stuff that I just love and I love it because we’re using it on the things that we do, including making our own films. So we grew the company from this place of just making software, to starting to make films that both used our products, and helped us in designing products, because we had to use them for what we’re doing. So the evolution of products would happen in part through the creation of film, just like the customers are doing.
Larry Jordan: I know it was before you joined the company, but you remember what their first product was?
Aharon Rabinowitz: There were two things actually. Knoll Light Factory, although actually back then it might have been called Knoll Light Factory for Editors, or something like that, and then Magic Bullet. But not Magic Bullet Looks. Before Stu Maschwitz created this product that changed the frame rate of your footage from 30 frames per second to 24, people always wanted a film look, but they didn’t know what that meant. In part, a lot of it is devoted to the speed at which the footage moved, not like people moving on screen, but the frame rate. So they couldn’t quite put their finger on it. There was a certain je ne sais quoi, and he figured that out and they created a product that did that and then became a Magic Bullet that was for color correction, but more like film looks and then eventually became the whole Magic Bullet product line.
Larry Jordan: Why the fascination with color and the look of video?
Aharon Rabinowitz: As a kid, I used to watch sitcoms like Cheers and Alf. Those two shows which aired at the same time had two very different looks, and Stu and I were talking about this. There was a very distinct look to film that is very different from video. As a kid I understood that there was a difference, and I tried to point it out to my siblings, and my parents, and they had no idea what I was talking about. But the thing about color and the look of film is there’s a certain emotive quality, a certain emotion that comes with film and certain kinds of colors that you just don’t get if you’re not doing some kind of treatment to the film. So, color is part of storytelling, it’s part of emotion. It helps you identify locations and instantly jump you to a place where you don’t have to be told something. You see it’s yellow, you feel hot, you feel desert, then you don’t have to be told that it’s hot and deserty there, you instantly know it and we react that way mentally to it.
Larry Jordan: Let’s flash forward to the present. I did not realize that one of your first products was Magic Bullet, though it has been around for a while. What are some of your current best sellers? What should people make sure they have in their library?
Aharon Rabinowitz: The best sellers that we have, there’s four things that just jumped into my head. There’s the Trapcode Suite, which is a set of tools for motion graphics and visual effects. Really popular. I haven’t walked into an animation house in New York City that wasn’t using Trapcode for something. I just went to see a show with my kids recently, that was just using Trapcode as part of their projection stuff they were doing. Trapcode is a big part of that. Magic Bullet Suite, which has color correction, finishing and film looks which is really used by film makers everywhere. We’ve got PluralEyes which is a product I love so much because the one thing you can never have back is time, and this saves you that time. It syncs audio and video in seconds and for a lot of people that’s a big part of their job. They shoot a couple of days of stuff and then they have to spend a couple of days just syncing up the audio and video and this does it instantly. Finally, Red Giant Universe which is a set of tools for motion graphics, really focused on the editors. These are our four best sellers by far.
Larry Jordan: Trapcode is focused for motion graphic people?
Aharon Rabinowitz: Yes.
Larry Jordan: And Magic Bullet for colors and Red Giant Universe for editors? Do I have those broad categories correct?
Aharon Rabinowitz: Yes and no. Magic Bullet is really for film makers who aren’t colorists. It has the power of the most professional color correction tools out there, but it really is a very intuitive experience that even someone like me, coming from motion graphics and visual effects who never touched color correction, Magic Bullet is what made me believe I could take control of the color of the things that I was working on. It’s very daunting for somebody who doesn’t come from that side of it. Color correction had always been this sort of magic box that for people who don’t do it, feel very intimidated by, and Magic Bullet Suite puts the power of that while also making it very intuitive for people who want to use the tools and get that same level of quality and effect.
Larry Jordan: While we’ve been talking, I’ve had four researchers whipping around in the background on the web looking all this stuff up, and they tell me that all of these are not new products, which clearly means that Red Giant has been sitting on its hands and not creating anything new. Is that a true statement?
Aharon Rabinowitz: No, Magic Bullet Suite 13 actually just came out about a month and a half ago, maybe a little more. We re-wrote everything. Things are faster, there’s more tools in there. Six tools have been updated, and one has been made from nothing, a brand new tool. Like nothing, it’s magic. I got to say, the team of engineers, I am always amazed. We set our minds to doing certain things. I’m like, “Yes, that’s never going to happen.” Then between Stu Maschwitz who’s the creative director for Magic Bullet, and the engineers that come to work on his vision, it’s really amazing what we accomplish in a small space of time that we do to create something that’s pretty amazing. I honestly thought I had gotten a handle on color correction, and I thought I was its master, and then they added this new thing called Guided Color Correction, which makes it that much easier, and comes straight out of a place that does color correction. It’s this formula that they use, and basically we put that formula into a dialog with seven steps that just very quickly gets you a perfectly balanced shot so that you can then color grade it. Obviously the difference being there’s the color correction of fixing the lights and the darks and making everything balance nicely, and then there’s creating that color grader film look, and that’s a separate part of the process.
Larry Jordan: What’s the new Magic Bullet Suite 13 cost?
Aharon Rabinowitz: It’s 899 if you don’t own it. It’s a 299 upgrade and we also have an educational price which is 50 percent off the full price.
Larry Jordan: Aharon, one of the things I’m getting in my emails is people are having to deal more and more in low light situations where there’s a lot of noise in the video. What have you got that can help us in that situation?
Aharon Rabinowitz: Red Giant, as a part of the Magical Suite 13 release, we released Magic Bullet Denoiser 3. It is the fastest and best video denoiser in existence. Video denoising is a very slow, painful and processor intensive process. We were able to adapt that so you get very fast video denoising. If you shoot in low light or if you’re shooting on a camera that generates a lot of noise, this will almost instantly clean it up.
Larry Jordan: Almost instantly means really fast. Is it really that quick?
Aharon Rabinowitz: It is very fast. If you’re having very bad noise in your video, you shoot in super low light and your ISOs are really high, then it’s going to slow things down. But if you’re using it at its basic settings which are often enough to get the job done, it is almost real time.
Larry Jordan: With the recent release of Mac OS Sierra, when should we upgrade operating systems to avoid having problems with our software, especially plug-ins? And the bigger question behind it is how do we determine if a plugin needs upgrading?
Aharon Rabinowitz: I’m always wary at first when a new operating system, or even a new host application comes out. Even when Adobe bump something from CC 2015 to 2015.3, you never know what’s going to happen. If something’s going to suddenly not work. Often there’s little things that need to be fixed and I always tell people, “Don’t upgrade until you hear from the company.” If you’re using plugins from certain companies, check their blogs, reach out to them. Usually they have the responsibility of reaching out to the customers which at Red Giant we do, but nothing makes me sadder than seeing people say, “I’m in the middle of this big project, and I upgraded to the new OS and now I’m done. I can’t do anything.” I think to myself, “Why would you do that? Don’t do that.“ Wait, find out from the companies if the products that you’re using are ready to go, if they’re certified for that operating system, and then once they are, with reckless abandon move into the future.
Larry Jordan: Reckless abandon. There’s more truth to that than we know.
Aharon Rabinowitz: Yes.
Larry Jordan: How do we determine if a Red Giant plugin needs to be updated?
Aharon Rabinowitz: Well there’s a couple of ways. Obviously in our blog we keep that information where you can check and see that, but if you come to the product page, under compatibility, you can see the different compatibility versions, the software and the compatibility that we have around that. If you see your host application listed there, or your operating system, and it’s not working, then you just have to run a quick update. We have a thing called Red Giant Link that will tell you if there’s an update. You can also download the update from the website and obviously we keep information on the site about versions and what you should use and when you shouldn’t upgrade. So we do our best to communicate, but we hope that users recognize that they want to update responsibly right? They want to know if their software is ready to go, just come check it out on our website and the information’s going to be right there on the product page.
Larry Jordan: For people that just have to have a Red Giant plugin, but are a little tight on cash, is there a way they can save some money?
Aharon Rabinowitz: My favorite event at Red Giant is every year we run a 40 percent off sale and it’s not because of the sale itself, it’s because of how many people we can make happy. During the year, people are strapped for cash. Maybe now they’re getting holiday money, maybe they’ve been holding out to buy. This is the time. Red Giant is running 40 percent off everything on Tuesday December 6th, so for 24 hours, 40 percent off everything in the redgiant.com store, and that includes the all new Magic Bullet Suite, it includes upgrades, even at educational prices, at the academic store which is already 50 percent off. Take 40 percent off of that So we try to make it easy for everyone this time of year to just treat themselves for the holidays, or treat someone else that they love who happens to be a software nerd like me, then it’s a great time to buy. But as a whole, I think that the way we do it is, Red Giant tries to make it easy whenever we can. Upgrades are always easy and if you want to try things before you buy, please come and download a free trial and check out the software.
Larry Jordan: And where can we go on the web to find out more about Red Giant and its products?
Aharon Rabinowitz: Come to redgiant.com.
Larry Jordan: Aharon Rabinowitz is the head of marketing for Red Giant, and Aharon, it’s always fun visiting. Thank you so much for your time.
Aharon Rabinowitz: Again, thanks for having me Larry.
Larry Jordan: Michele Terpstra is the VP of marketing at Toolfarm. She has written or co-written two books on plugins. As well as becoming the go-to person on software and plugins for our editing systems, she is the first pluginologist that I have ever met. Hello Michele, welcome back.
Michele Terpstra: Hello, how are you?
Larry Jordan: I am delighted to be talking to you. Tonight, we’re talking about plugins, so to set the scene, how would you describe Toolfarm?
Michele Terpstra: Well, we are a value added reseller of video plugins, animation software, audio software and all that kind of good stuff. We’re your one stop shop, but beyond that, we know the products really well, so if you have questions about it, we can help you choose the right product for your needs.
Larry Jordan: What plugins have caught your attention recently, especially the lesser known ones?
Michele Terpstra: Today I thought I’d talk about some more unique plugins that do a certain job that no other plugin can do, and do it really well. Rowbyte Plexus is one. It’s been out for quite a while, but it’s a way to visualize your data and you’ve probably seen this used in commercials and anything with a techy look to it, where you have these object meshes, you can take in OBJ files which are 3D files. In the example that they use, they have a bust of a person, their head and shoulders, and they take it through layers and they have really cool effects to it. Now in the latest version you can time it with audio and sound, which I guess are the same thing, and defmaps, so it’s a cool plugin and it’s a lot of fun to play with which is something I really enjoy about plugins. A lot of them are a lot of fun.
Larry Jordan: What’s the name of the one you just talked about?
Michele Terpstra: Plexus. It’s from a company called Rowbyte.
Larry Jordan: OK, what else you got?
Michele Terpstra: Motion Boutique Newton. Newton allows you to animate things with physics, without having to do it all by hand, which can be really painful and time consuming to make sure that your bounces look right, or your springing or your pivots and all that, look natural. It’s really great for animating text like kinetic text animations or if something is bouncing, or you have a mechanical thing you’re trying to demonstrate. It’s used quite a bit in things, and you’ll never even know it. It’s one of those tools that you can use in a thousand different projects and nobody would know you’re using the same tool. It doesn’t have any sort of look to it. But it’s a lot of fun and it makes your stuff look so cool.
Larry Jordan: It’s called?
Michele Terpstra: Motion Boutique Newton.
Larry Jordan: OK what else you got?
Michele Terpstra: Mettle SkyBox which you’re probably aware of if you’re working with 360 VR content, and there’s several different tools that are part of the SkyBox family that will allow you take 360 formats and let you work with them, and after effects, so that you can add other elements to it. You could add animations from Plexus for example, or you can add composite different elements, and you can do all sorts of cool effects inside your VR content. So if you’re creating stuff for Oculus Rift or 360 content for YouTube, it’s a great tool to have. There’s a previewer, and a converter, and an extractor and creator. And that is Mettle SkyBox.
Larry Jordan: OK, what’s next?
Michele Terpstra: RevisionFX ReelSmart Motion Blur. Now this is an older plugin but it’s one that I always go back to. If you’re looking to add motion blur to footage that’s already shot, say you shot it with a fast shutter and your footage is lacking motion blur, or if you shot with a fast shutter because you’re shooting green screen footage, and it’s a lot easier to key, you can naturally add Motion Blur to your footage. If you’re working with 3D footage for example, a lot of times you can add Motion Blur in your 3D package, however it takes a really long time to render and it can be time consuming. But you can take a regular render and apply ReelSmart Motion Blur to it, and it looks just so natural, and it’s such a great plugin, it’s one I use all the time.
Larry Jordan: Called?
Michele Terpstra: RevisionFX ReelSmart Motion Blur.
Larry Jordan: OK, got another one?
Michele Terpstra: The last one here is Trapcode Tao. It is the newest from Trapcode, and I recently did a little video for a program I have called The Lab, and over the years I’ve created a ton of cool effects that I had no use for. So with Tao I was just playing with it, and I came up with so many fun things. It allows you to create these 3D geometries, and after effects, and you can play with the lights and camera and add color maps, and animate and loop things. You can apply it to masks so you could do spirals, or it has all sorts of abstract shapes, so it’s great for doing stuff in backgrounds and for text. It’s great for abstract materials.
Larry Jordan: And called?
Michele Terpstra: Trapcode Tao.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information, where can they go on the web to learn more?
Michele Terpstra: To Toolfarm.com.
Larry Jordan: The VP of marketing and chief pluginologist at Toolfarm is Michele Terpstra, and Michele, thanks for joining us today.
Michele Terpstra: Thank you for having me on your show.
Larry Jordan: In his current role as director of technology at Key Code Media, Michael Kammes consults on the latest in technology and best practices into the digital media communication space. He’s also, let’s just say, he has a strange love of workflow codecs and process. Hello Michael, welcome back.
Michael Kammes: Larry, great to talk to you.
Larry Jordan: It’s my pleasure. In today’s show we’re talking about plugins. So the question I’ve got for you, is what plugins have you seen that caught your eye?
Michael Kammes: Most people know me as a technology guy, but actually I started out in the creative realm. Audio especially. There’s a couple of audio pug ins that I use on a weekly basis and I think a couple of them you may be familiar with. iZotope for example.
Larry Jordan: Oh yes.
Michael Kammes: Their RX Post Production Suite is fantastic, especially when we’re dealing with dialog where we have to reduce the noise in the background and also their loudness meter. I’m sure you’re aware that when you’re doing mixes for television and broadcast, you have to be compliant to the loudness specifications. It’s not just volume, it’s what’s the compression on the audio? So being able to use a loudness meter in the mix is fantastic.
Larry Jordan: iZotope is on your list of things to consider. What’s another audio plugin?
Michael Kammes: Another one you’ve covered as well, and that’s Unveil by Zynaptiq which is to reduce reverb. It’s not going to remove all your reverb, but sometimes it’s just enough to squeak by. Also, if you’re working with ADR, VocALign Project is fantastic. It allows you align ADR with the scratch dialog from location, and can help immensely during that process.
Larry Jordan: I’ve used all three of these plugins and they’re all excellent, so I agree with your opinion. My question is, what software are you using these plugins in?
Michael Kammes: I’m traditionally in Pro Tools. I’ve been working with Pro Tools for almost 20 years now, and that’s my go-to audio tool.
Larry Jordan: I use these Inside Adobe Auditions so I agree with you. These are outstanding plugins but they’re just audio Michael. What have we got for video?
Michael Kammes: For video, a popular package is the Sapphire package. I think they’re at version 10 right now. It’s a little pricey, but the transitions I use almost on a daily basis with my series 5 things. The TV distort filter is fantastic. Also Beauty Box by Digital Anarchy is fantastic. When you’re dealing with people whose skin may not be perfect, maybe there are some blemishes or what not, talent always likes being made to look better, and using this gently on your footage helps immensely. Rampant Design, although it’s not a plugin per se, the fact that they have drag and drop, transitions and motion graphics and visual effects, and their distortion in grunge stuff is fantastic to give your footage a little bit of pop. If you use FX Factory, you can buy plugins through their interface, and there’s a couple of ones that are great. Bars is fantastic. Unfortunately I cut a lot of videos that aren’t the most exciting, so if we can add some life to some of those static charts, that’s fantastic. That’s like $40. And lastly, Slide Pop. As a kid I loved View-Master, the thing you held up to your eyes. You can now recreate that effect with Slide Pop to give that View-Master look to some of your footage for transitions.
Larry Jordan: I had this sudden flash as you were talking about Beauty Box, one of the trends in our industry is to get higher and higher resolutions. 4K, 5K, 6K, we’re pushing eight and 16 right now at some of the technological edges of the envelope and yet Beauty Box does the exact opposite. Do we not have a conflict here?
Michael Kammes: I don’t think there’s a conflict. It reminds me of a great story I’ll tell you briefly with Oprah about ten years ago or so. As you may remember, I used to work in Chicago, and they were thinking about … HD, but Oprah saw herself in HD and said, “I don’t want that.” So they continued down the SD road for a few more years.
Larry Jordan: Michael, for people that want to keep track of you on the web, where can they go?
Michael Kammes: Two places. Michaelkammes.com or Fivethingsseries.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, michaelkammes.com and Michael, as always, a delight talking with you. Thanks for joining us today.
Michael Kammes: Thanks again Larry.
Larry Jordan: Jonathan Handel is an entertainment and technology attorney of counsel at Troy Gould in Los Angeles. He’s also the contributing editor of entertainment labor issues for the Hollywood Reporter. And best of all, he’s a regular here on The Buzz. Hello Jonathan, welcome back.
Jonathan Handel: Larry, how are you doing?
Larry Jordan: I am suffering from confusion. Seems like every Guild is either marching or thinking of marching. What is going on?
Jonathan Handel: It is a busy time in the world of work. That is absolutely true. Let’s start with SAG/AFTRA and the video games strike. SAG/AFTRA has been on strike against the nine or so video game companies for about five or six weeks now. They’ve had three picket lines, about three to 400 people each, and a virtual picketing operation at one point. The largest issue is they want a form of residuals, a form of back end compensation, and there’s been some back and forth, no pun intended, between them and the companies, but there has been no agreement on a formula or an approach.
Larry Jordan: Are there ongoing conversations?
Jonathan Handel: As far as I know there are not. The parties reached a point where they were pretty bitter, and pretty dug in and I think there’s probably going to have to be a bit of passage of time before we see real movement here. The companies at some point are going to want to prepare demo versions of new software for trade shows in the spring, for GDC, Game Developers Conference and E3 as well. E3 I think is May, GDC’s a little earlier, and so that may at some point drive them to say, “Look, we want to get SAG/AFTRA talent for these demo games as we have in the past.”
Larry Jordan: Is Christmas in jeopardy in terms of video games?
Jonathan Handel: No, not at all. Those games of course, the production was completed in general some time ago and there’s no indication that this will affect Christmas sales.
Larry Jordan: OK, what’s happening in another Guild?
Jonathan Handel: Let’s stick with SAG/AFTRA for a moment, and this time SAG/AFTRA and the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation. Today is World Aids Day, and last night they put on a panel at SAG/AFTRA with a range of actors and story tellers, show runners, and doctors. Dr Michael Gottlieb who was a pioneering physician for the last 35 years or whatever it’s been now since the early 80s in dealing with the epidemic. And the message they were sending was this, that this epidemic of HIV and AIDS continues. It’s become very heavily though certainly not exclusively a problem in the black community, and very heavily a problem in the southeastern United States where seven out of ten states that have the highest infection rate in this country, and close to half the new cases in this country, are located in the southeast. There is very much a cultural factor at work there in terms of access to health insurance, access to care and compassion and openness for men having sex with men, men who identify as gay, etcetera. It’s a difficult issue.
Jonathan Handel: So that was last night. Sticking with all three of the unions, what happens next this coming Monday? The Directors Guild begins talks for their new TV and theatrical agreements with the Motion Picture Studios, the AMPTP representing the majors and the other signatories to the DGA agreement. That agreement doesn’t expire till the middle of next year. SAG/AFTRA agreement also expires in the middle of next year. Their talks will probably start in February, but have not been announced. The Writers Guild just announced their negotiating committee. They haven’t announced their dates, but that would probably be late March or early April. So all three unions having new contracts.
Larry Jordan: There was something also you wrote that just caught my eye about something disappearing in the Magic Castle?
Jonathan Handel: Well that’s right. This is a law suit, not a union issue, but it is a work issue. It’s a class action on behalf of the restaurant employees and bar employees at the Magic Castle which alleges wage theft. It alleges that their wages disappeared, a very nasty trick if indeed the allegations are true. The Magic Castle of course is LA’s palace of prestidigitation. For those who don’t know, it’s a maze like mansion where you can go and see different magic shows in each room, open only to guests who have been invited by a member or accompanied by a member. Been around for some number of decades. And they are alleging that timesheets were falsified, that they weren’t allowed their breaks for lunch and for rest breaks and things like that. That overtime wasn’t paid. Really a very unfortunate and not necessarily uncommon set of allegations in industries in general of wage theft for lower income workers. We have to emphasize we don’t know whether these allegations are true or not. The Magic Castle had no comment when I requested comment.
Larry Jordan: Well there’s no shortage of stuff to keep track of. For people that want the latest information, Jonathan, where can they go on the web?
Jonathan Handel: Two places. THRlabor.com, the HollywoodReporterLabor.com and my website at Jhandel, Jhandel.com.
Larry Jordan: Jonathan Handel is the entertainment labor issue editor, contributing reporter for the Hollywood Reporter. Jonathan thanks for joining us today.
Jonathan Handel: Thanks Larry.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
Jonathan Handel: Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: There’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. DoddleNEWS is a part of the Thalo Arts Community, a worldwide community of artists, film makers and story tellers. From photography to film making, performing arts to fine arts, and everything in between, Thalo is filled with resources you need to succeed. 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. Doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: Travis White began his career as a Hollywood editor, but for the last several years, he’s headed product development at NewBlueFX. They specialize in creating plugins, effects and titling software for a wide variety of windows and Macintosh editing systems. Hello Travis, welcome.
Travis White: Hello Larry, how are you doing?
Larry Jordan: I am talking to you and we are talking plugins. I am doing great. How would you describe NewBlueFX?
Travis White: NewBlueFX do a lot. I would say at the core of it we are post production effects that are realized as plugins throughout every video editor out there, both Windows and Mac. We are also post and live automated graphics so we have graphics packages for doing titles and graphics work in both post production and in live. Then those same video effects can be used in those graphic … as well.
Larry Jordan: Your audio’s fading in and out. You might want to get a little bit closer to your microphone, and while you do that, why did the company decide to get into development effect software?
Travis White: Well we started as a videotech company. The history of it was actually doing audio effects and audio production and we saw the need for a lot of effects that solved problems. A number of effects out there with glorious work that are actually quite complex to use and we saw a place where we could really save the editor billable hours by making solutions that solved the different needs in a much more controlled … with fabulous results.
Larry Jordan: The company began by creating software for Windows. What made you decide to expand a couple of years ago to include the Mac?
Travis White: It wasn’t too far after we began the company that we did Mac as well, and it was very clear that historically a high end production was a Mac appropriate experience. But more and more so, it really is a world that shares both sides and workflows back and forth between Mac and Windows systems are so predominant … that you really have to exist on both platforms so you can maintain the solution as the media’s going back and forth and your productions are going back and forth between the kinds of people that you’re working with.
Larry Jordan: As you look back on it, when the company first started, what was the first product that you guys developed?
Travis White: The first products we developed were actually plugins that were created for OEM originally … Those were in Pinnacle, later on in Avid, and other solutions as well, but we quickly moved into direct available plugins for professional post production. In fact, even right now our titling solution, Titler Pro, is the included titling solution in Avid Media Composer, it’s been included in the Grass Valley editing solutions, and again it’s on every editing platform out there.
Larry Jordan: As you look at it today, what are some of your more popular products?
Travis White: The more popular … just released a new version of Titler … 5 and I would say that’s one of the very popular solutions that we have. It’s gritty, it’s animated, it’s titling graphics and it brings in a lot of things that a 3D modeling program can do except it’s based on the … of a video editor so you don’t have to become a 3D modeling expert. And it also does three dimensional work which is a lion’s share of a lot of the work as well, fantastically. So that is a very popular one. Another one that we just revamped as well is Colorfast Two. So that is a color correction and color grading plugin. Both of these work natively inside the video editing application so it’s not a round trip, we’re not outside the NLE experience, it’s inside the NLE experience.
Larry Jordan: You’re heading of products, so as you’re looking to decide which products to develop, what kind of user feedback is most helpful?
Travis White: Direct. The kind of user feedback that we get, there’s two kinds. One type of user feedback is, “I have a problem, I’m looking for a solution. This is my current workflow, I would like to do it faster. This is my current workflow, I’d like to solve this problem.” That by far is when the user gets into that dialog with us, and we engage them in that conversation, that’s by far the most helpful. When users come back, and say “Can you do that feature like that other product out there?” That’s not nearly as helpful because we can mimic a feature of another solution, but that’s not necessarily helping us or the user solve the problem. So it’s really in that conversation, back and forth, getting to the core of what is … and often on our creative side, we can bring a new approach, or a faster, more efficient approach, than what the user has previously experienced, usually when they have either a point in their workflow that’s slow or daunting, it’s because the current solutions are a bit of a … trying to chain together a series of events and we can see that through the conversation with the customer, and really streamline the solution.
Larry Jordan: You support a wide variety of applications both at the OEM level and at the consumer level. Is there one NLE or a couple of NLEs which tend to sell more plugins than another? In other words, where their customer base is more likely to buy plugins than another?
Travis White: Yes. From the plugin perspective, from the effects perspective, for example, Adobe Premiere, they have a nice set of plugins that they start in, but their user base is really used to a plugin community and they know about that plugin community, and Adobe promotes that plugin community. So there’s a lot of purchase of, and finding new solutions … And then another way to answer that question, Grass Valley, there’s actually not a lot of plugin offerings in the Grass Valley world. We are one of them, one of the few, so then simply being one of the few options offered in that market, the user bases I think … The Avid community, for which we’re included in, it all depends on their … right? If they’re a rough cut editor they tend to not use very many plugins at all. If they’re a finish editor they tend to use a good number of plugins to solve those problems that are in the finished stage. So it kind of depends on who that customer is and the kinds of work that they do.
Larry Jordan: Given all the operating system and application updates recently, how do we determine if our plugins are up to date?
Travis White: You mean plugins from us?
Larry Jordan: Yes.
Travis White: We have a good tool called the NewBlue new effects application manager. It actually is a simple interface, that shows you all the plugins you own which may or may not be installed on their systems … see what is installed, and other plugins that you own that might not be installed and it gives you opportunities for direct update right there when the product has an update available. It gives you opportunities to download an installation if you have not yet installed something you own on this particular machine. It gives you access to tutorials and information on how to utilize the application, so that’s … check your NewBlue application manager, and it will get you up to speed …
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information about Titler Pro 5 or Colorfast 2 or all the different transitions and effects that NewBlueFX has got, where do they go on the web?
Travis White: They go to newbluefx.com.
Larry Jordan: The website for Titler Pro 5 and all the rest of their effects is newbluefx.com, all one word, newbluefx.com and Travis White is the head of products for NewBlueFX. Travis, thanks so very much for taking time to talk to us today.
Travis White: Thank you Larry, appreciate it.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
Larry Jordan: You know, it’s been an interesting conversation talking about plugins whether we’re talking with developers who’ve been in it for a while or people that are relatively new and just picking your favorite plugin is always fun. Plugins can be quirky or time saving, fun or essential. I want to thank our guests for today, Aharon Rabinowitz with Red Giant, Michele Terpstra with Toolfarm, Michael Kammes with Key Code Media, Jonathan Handel, the Hollywood Reporter, Travis White with NewBlueFX, and James DeRuvo with DoddleNEWS.
Larry Jordan: There is a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Here you’ll find thousands of interviews all online, and all available to you today. And remember to sign up for our free weekly show newsletter that comes out every Friday. Talk with us on Twitter @DPBuZZ and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com.
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Larry Jordan: Our producer is Debbie Price. My name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to the Digital Production Buzz.
Larry Jordan: The Digital Production Buzz is copyright 2016 by Thalo LLC.