Paul Kobelja, Production Technology Specialist, VER
Nick Mattingly, CEO, Co-Founder, Switcher Studio
Terry Curren, Founder/President, Alpha Dogs Inc.
Dylan Higginbotham, Creator, Stupid Raisins
Scott Page, CEO, Ignited Network
James DeRuvo, Film and Technology Reporter, DoddleNEWS
Larry Jordan: Tonight on the Buzz, we are looking at a variety of new technology. We start with Paul Kobelja, Production Technology Specialist for VER; talking about a new LED based system that can replace green screen technology and provide realistic reflections on both actors and set. Tonight, Paul explains how it works.
Larry Jordan: Next, Terrance Curren, the CEO of Alpha Dogs, just finished effects and color grading work on a 4K feature film, using Avid Symphony. Tonight, Terry shares what worked, what didn’t and what you need to know, before ending a 4K project.
Larry Jordan: Next, Dylan Higginbotham is the Founder of Stupid Raising, a company dedicated to creating plug-ins and effects for Final Cut Pro X. Tonight, Dylan explains why he started a company dedicated to final cut and how he goes about creating effects for it.
Larry Jordan: Next, Scott Page, the CEO of Ignited Networks, is seeing a [sea] change in social media; the world seems to be shifting to messaging, which has significant implications for content creators trying to make money on their project. Tonight, Scott describes what’s going on.
Larry Jordan: Next, Nick Mattingly, the CEO of Switcher Studio, has a new product that streams live video over either YouTube or Facebook and tonight he tells us what it is and how it works; and, as always, James DeRuvo joins us for our weekly Doddle News update. The Buzz starts now.
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: And welcome to the Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for the created content industry; covering media production, post-production and marketing around the world. We’re celebrating our 17th year of podcasting. Hi, my name is Larry Jordan and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the US and a very pleasant Thursday evening to everyone else. For those listening live our show is pre-taped this week to allow our staff to spend time with their families.
Larry Jordan: We have a lot of variety in today’s show, I’m looking forward to sharing it with you and before we start, 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 of the show; and curated articles of special interest to filmmakers. Best of all, every issue is free and comes out on Friday.
Larry Jordan: Now it’s time for our Doddle News update with James DeRuvo. Hello James.
James DeRuvo: Hello Larry, Happy Thanksgiving.
Larry Jordan: And a Happy Thanksgiving to you too. What’s the news?
James DeRuvo: You know, cord cutting is all the rage now, as people are trying to streamline their bills and not have to have an internet bill and a cable or satellite bill; so they’re looking to cut the cable and get rid of their cable and satellite bills and just stream video on the internet. Well the problem with that is, is that, it’s costing cities millions of dollars in lost tax revenue, because they charge a utility tax on the cable and satellite subscriptions. So, now they want to enact a so-called Netflix tax, ranging from one percent to 11 percent, depending upon what city that you live in. Currently there’s 45 cities in California that are looking to charge a utility tax on streaming video services, like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu and you consider that one in four homes have cancelled their cable subscription in favor of streaming video. You can understand why they’re doing it.
James DeRuvo: But the problem with it is, in my opinion, it’s going to be a logistical nightmare for services to affix hundreds if not thousands of different tax rates, based on what city you live in, what state you live in and it may also be against the internet tax free net. So this is like a Supreme Court decision waiting to happen.
Larry Jordan: Well, I think, as someone who streams content myself, we need to pay attention to this, because it could easily define all streaming content, not just content from entertainment companies like Netflix and Amazon.
James DeRuvo: Absolutely. I mean, when you consider that Larry Jordan teaches people how to edit video on Final Cut Pro and all the other post-productions, if you have to charge a tax, depending upon your clientele and where they live, you’re not going to have time to stream your video; you’re going to be looking up tax rates all day.
Larry Jordan: That’s a huge issue James; we’ll come back and talk about this in the future. Two weeks ago we had a show on drones and last week you had drone news for us. Do you have any new drone news for us this week?
James DeRuvo: This week DJI announced two new drones; they announced the Inspire Two, which is the next generation prosumer drone. It has a 5K camera that offers 11.5 stops of dynamic range; or you can get the optional Micro Four Thirds camera, which can take various lenses and give you 12.8 stops of dynamic range. It can also shoot in CinemaDNG Raw and Apple ProRes and it has an onboard SSD drive system, so that you can store that 5K video image.
James DeRuvo: What I’m excited about is, DJI has finally broken the 30 minute barrier on flight time; they’ve added two batteries instead of one to the system and it is able to not only fly up to an half an hour, but it can achieve a speed of up to 67 miles an hour and a ceiling of five kilometers. I mean, it’s a beast. It’s going to cost about $3,000, or $6,200, if you want the Apple ProRes and CinemaDNG license.
James DeRuvo: They also announced the Phantom Four Pro, which is an upgrade to the existing Phantom Four flying platform. It comes with an improved one inch CMOS sensor, for 11.6 stops of dynamic range; 4K video at 60 frames per second; 30 minutes of flying time and a top speed of 31 miles an hour. They all have that patented DJI obstacle and collision avoidance system and it runs for about $1,500.
Larry Jordan: Before we run out of time I know ARRI made an announcement. What did ARRI talk about?
James DeRuvo: ARRI announced two new lines of lenses for the ARRI Alexa 65. There’s the ARRI Prime S and the ARRI Prime D and A line. In all total, when you toss in the existing 765 S line of lenses, they now have up to 34 different Prime lenses to cover the Alexa 65. The specs from the Prime S lenses include a range of 24-300 millimeters, using high performance objects. They are housed in robust lens barrows, with uniform front diameters, so that you can move your filters from one lens to the other. Extremely smooth focus and operation and the ARRI lens data system for inputting lens metadata.
James DeRuvo: The best part is though, is that, these new lenses give you coverage of the entire Alexa 65 sensor. The Prime DNA specs are seven lenses between 35 and 150 millimeter and all at F2.8 or faster.
Larry Jordan: Where are these available?
James DeRuvo: They’re available for rental now at arri.com.
Larry Jordan: For people that want to know what the latest news is, where can 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 is back every week with a weekly news update. James, thank you, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
James DeRuvo: You too Larry, happy turkey day.
Larry Jordan: Here’s another website I want to introduce you to, doddlenews.com. Doddle News gives you a portal into the broadcast, video and film industries. It’s a leading online resource; presenting news, revenue and products for the film and video industry. Doddle News also offers a resource guide and crew management platform, 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.
Larry Jordan: Doddle News is a part of the Thalo Arts community, a worldwide community of artists, filmmakers and storytellers. From photography to filmmaking, performing arts, to fine 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: VER is a rental house providing gear for professional productions. At VER, Paul Kobelja works with cinematographers, effects departments and producers to create technical solutions; specifically on set environments that utilize specially engineered LED screens, projectors and controllers to create a real looking world, rather than a green screen box. Hello Paul, welcome.
Paul Kobelja: Thank you for having me.
Larry Jordan: A Happy Thanksgiving to you Sir.
Paul Kobelja: A Happy Thanksgiving to you too.
Larry Jordan: Your title at VER is Production Technology Specialist. What is it?
Paul Kobelja: Well, I think a Production Technology Specialist is actually somebody, at least in this particular idiom, who is constantly looking at technologies that are designed for, I would say, other entertainment markets and then trying to figure out a way to apply those technologies and processes to the motion picture market.
Larry Jordan: Well, you were in your own company for a long while; why the relationship with VER?
Paul Kobelja: Frankly, I’m here at VER because VER purchased the company that I was with and invited me to be a part of VER; which turned out to actually be a very fortuitous thing. Because, I am not the only person, you know, who works inside this world; I did have competitors, although I didn’t have a lot of competitors. As it turned out, those competitors ended up here at VER, they invited me to join and so, essentially, I was invited to be a part of what is clearly the A team doing this type of work in motion pictures.
Larry Jordan: When I first met you, which was in Cine Gear last Spring, you were showcasing a new technology that allowed us to change backgrounds behind live actors without using green screen technology. How would you describe what this is?
Paul Kobelja: The name that we gave that was enhanced environments; which is, I would say, the best way to describe, you know, the potential of that. But essentially what it is, is it’s adapting technologies that were designed for Broadway, for concert touring, for corporate events; which is, you know, scalable LED walls that can be built, you know, usually in half meter squares, to virtually any size.
Paul Kobelja: The whole idea behind that being that, lighting and environments in our world and our natural world interact us, you know, based on the environment that you’re in. If you’re standing in a forest, it is the environment of the forest that is producing the dappled lighting that’s moving across your face that produces the motion of the leaves, that produces any number of things; as opposed to say a lighting effect that’s trying to recreate that. It just made some sense to me that there are certain environments where our perception of being inside that environment is going to be determined by how the environment is playing across the surface of a person or an object or something like that.
Larry Jordan: Sort of like watching fireworks, where the colors of the fireworks are washing over the faces of your actors?
Paul Kobelja: Right, or one of the very earliest uses of this, actually, on a very small scale, was in a movie called Angels and Demons. I think that that set-up was that the basement of the Vatican was on fire, or something; the actors had to be appearing in the scenes surrounding by fire. Rather than using flame sticks or something like that to create fire effects on their faces, what we did was we actually set up an LED screen and we fed, you know, an image of fire into that LED screen; which then produced a lighting effect that looked exactly like fire.
Larry Jordan: All of us are familiar with green screen technology. What’s the principle benefit of this new enhanced environment technology over green screens?
Paul Kobelja: I would say that there are several. If you look at the history of motion pictures and you look at the history of how these environmental effects have developed over time, people have used black screen technology, they’ve used early blue screen technology, you know, later blue screen technology and then green screen technology; you know, as well as rear projection and a number of things. I would say, probably creatively, the biggest benefit of doing this, actually, is that you are capturing everything in camera. Your Cinematographer, your Director, your Production Designer, every bit that they have developed is appearing on your set and you’re capturing everything in the lens and in the camera.
Paul Kobelja: To a lot of filmmakers, you know, that is a much more natural way to work. There is very strong belief that that’s the better way to do things. Which isn’t to somehow claim that it is a natural progression away from green screen or blue screen technology; I mean, we have to acknowledge that there are clearly advantages to green screen and blue screen in certain environments. But what’s happened over the last three or four decades is, green screen and blue screen environments have become much more commonplace in motion picture and television, to do things that don’t necessarily benefit from blue screen and green screen. I can give you an example actually.
Paul Kobelja: If you go to any of a number of television show and you’ve got characters, whether it’s a comedy or it’s a one hour drama, and they’re inside of a car and they’re having a conversation. What has become very commonplace is that you set up a green screen behind a [buck] or a car and do some lighting effects on those people and shoot the scene against the green screen and then you bring in your plates later. It looks acceptable on television, it certainly looks acceptable in motion pictures that way; but the realism of that car driving through that environment isn’t captured particularly well with that green screen because, the reflections that you would expect to see moving across that car, as it travels through an environment, aren’t there. Those reflections are noticeably absent; and so it’s actually better and it looks better to take that car through an environment, so you can actually see those details moving across the car. Normally you would do that with a process trailer or something like that, but process trailers can be expensive; and so, what we were able to do with this is actually construct a system that will reproduce that environment that moves across the car; without you having to put the car in a process trailer; thus allowing you, in a stage situation, to truly make it look like your car is driving through, you know, any city in the world or any environment that you can think of.
Larry Jordan: If we take a look at green screen, one of the big benefits of green screen is it’s relatively inexpensive. Your technology sounds more expensive than renting a green screen stage; so, where’s the breakeven? Where does this technology make sense from the point of view of the budget?
Paul Kobelja: Surprisingly, when you run the numbers, that’s not entirely true. To do a green screen situation, yes, to rent a green screen and light a green screen on set is relatively inexpensive; you know, where the cost comes in, actually, is in post-production. When you’re having to build the environment that’s going to go into that green screen, you know; or you’re having to bring in your [comp], you know, into that green screen; and if there’s any bleed from that green screen into objects or characters inside your shot, then you also have to go through an additional process in post, of digitally removing that green bleed that’s getting into your set.
Paul Kobelja: You know, as long as you’re dealing with a set that doesn’t have highly reflective surfaces, it’s not much of a problem; but this is the 21st Century and there is a trend, in production design, to be building sets that are more reflective of our modern world, which is, highly reflective specular surfaces; you know, marble and glass and steal and so on. So, to surround something like that with a green screen, you’re not just bringing a plate in later, you’re also doing a lot of digital cleanup to get rid of whatever bleed might be coming into your set.
Paul Kobelja: Secondly, say for example with an automobile or a process trailer, you know, when you’re doing that with an LED setup on a stage, your rate of production increases dramatically; if you’re driving around on a process trailer, you know, you’re actually driving around on streets, you know, in a wagon train consisting of police and vehicles and this, that and the other; that as you’re shooting your scene going through the neighborhood and your actors perform their scene and you get to the end of that and the Director decides he needs another one and that entire wagon train has to go all the way around the block and all the back to number one and then start all over again. That reset to number one, when you’re dealing with this system on a set, is the touch of a button; it’s instantaneous. More importantly, you can go from shooting day scene to shooting night scenes, you know, in the same work day. Again, the touch of a button you can go from one location to the next.
Larry Jordan: Paul, I’ve been continually fascinated by what this can do, since I saw it at [Cine Gear]. Do you have any examples of how you’re using it today?
Paul Kobelja: I do. We are actually getting into a project right now that’s going to be a big step forward for us. Up to now, the majority of the films that have been interested in this type of technology have largely been high concept adventure and science fiction pictures; things like Star Trek, Iron Man Two, Race to Witch Mountain, Oblivion, Tomorrowland, Guardians of the Galaxy, Passengers and don’t miss Star Wars Rogue One, because we did quite a bit on that picture. But we’re actually going into what is going to be the largest LED installation for a motion picture in history, up to now. What’s very interesting about this is, it does not fit into the category of science fiction or high concept adventure at all, it is actually a 19th Century period drama, that’s using this technology. It’s a big step forward for us because, this is truly a fully immersive enhanced environment; basically, we are providing the world that is surrounding the set pieces for this movie and it’s not the kind of thing that you would normally associate with this type of technology. We’re very excited about it, because we feel that, if you we can prove that this type of thing works in a period piece like that, it opens many, many more doors for other filmmakers who aren’t particularly attracted to making movies about superheroes.
Larry Jordan: Let’s say that I’ve got a project that I want to have you produce. What’s the biggest challenge for you, when dealing with a new customer or a project?
Paul Kobelja: I would say probably the biggest challenge is getting people to understand at what point in the creative process we should be involved. There’s a rule that vendors aren’t invited to be a part of creative discussions; generally what happens is, filmmakers sit down and, you know, they go from script, to storyboard, to shot list, to production, making all of their decisions, as well they should, with their department heads, inside of production meetings. But, when you’re trying to apply a new technology or a new concept, rather than calling us on the phone or deciding, hey look, we think that this might be a really good way to approach this particular problem inside of our script; rather than calling us, I guess, two or three weeks before you need it done, it’s usually better to have that conversation with us much earlier in the process; so that we can be involved in helping filmmakers who are using this for the first time, to understand the latitude of, I guess, creative possibility that’s available to them.
Larry Jordan: It is a fascinating technology and I can see exactly why so many production companies would be interested in learning more. For people that would like to see demos or talk with you further, where can they go on the web to learn more?
Paul Kobelja: Well they should probably head to our website, HYPERLINK “http://www.ver.com” www.ver.com; you can dive in right there. We’ve done quite a bit of work on that website and they can begin to research the various possibilities of the work that we’re doing over here at VER.
Larry Jordan: That’s ver.com and Paul Kobelja is a Production Technology Specialist for VER. Paul, this has been a fascinating conversation, thanks for joining us today.
Paul Kobelja: Thank you so much for having me.
Larry Jordan: Terrance Curren is the Founder and President of Alpha Dogs, a Burbank based post-production facility founded in 2002. He’s also the host of the Editor’s Lounge, a regular gathering of post-production professions interested in improving the craft. Hello Terry, welcome back.
Terrance Curren: Hi Larry, it’s good to hear your voice.
Larry Jordan: By the way, Happy Thanksgiving.
Terrance Curren: Well, same to you. I wanted to say that, you know, when I say it’s good to hear your voice, it’s because, there’s a lot of us in the community that really appreciate all you do for the community and I don’t know if you get thanked enough; so, let me just thank you on Thanksgiving.
Larry Jordan: Oh, well thank you, that’s very kind. Thinking of giving back to the community, you and the work you do at Editor’s Lounge is also worthy of a pat on the back.
Terrance Curren: Oh, well thank you.
Larry Jordan: Now that we’re done congratulating each other, Alpha Dogs just finished working on the post-production for a musical thriller called Danger Diva. What did you guys do?
Terrance Curren: We did the 4K color correction and finish; all the effects etc. This one is kind of unique because, most 4K finishing that we do we do in DaVinci Resolve; or I guess you call it Blackmagic Resolve now. Just because it’s an easier pipeline. But this particular project, the Offline Editor had built tons and tons of complicated effects in the Avid timeline and to try to rebuild all that and go through Resolve, etc., would have been a nightmare; so I made the decision to do the color correct in Sympathy, in 4K and it turned out to be quite a challenge.
Larry Jordan: What were the challenges?
Terrance Curren: Well the big challenge is storage, of course, and bandwidth. I mean, you’re talking basically four times the storage and four times the bandwidth to move stuff around. You’re not going to be doing that off of the typical drive you were using in the past; so, we used Facilis’ TerraBlock, which is spanned across 24 drives per unit; so, they can distribute a lot of that bandwidth and we were coming over eight gigabit fiber, so, we can handle the bandwidth going to the systems. But even still, it’s a lot of data to be storing and moving about.
Terrance Curren: This one hour and 40 minute feature ended up being about a terrabyte and a half of storage; just that alone. Then, if you go and make a 4K DPX at the end for delivery, that’s really huge. All of this stuff takes time because it’s technically four times the processing; you’re working on four times as much frame size etc., so it’s going to take theoretically four times as long to render, etc., etc. It doesn’t actually work out that way, but that would theoretically be where you’d end up.
Larry Jordan: Resolution is more than just simply the number of pixels, the codec makes a great difference. What codec were you using for all this material?
Terrance Curren: Well this was shot on the RED camera; so, initially Avid does allow you to use the RED SDK now to mount the raw files and then, you could theoretically work with those but it would just be nearly impossible in the Media Composer Symphony. Unlike Resolve, which handles it much better. What I did was, once I had conformed everything to the raw RED files and had adjusted some of the interpretation of the raw file, because you have a lot of latitude there to change things; once I got all that locked in, then I actually converted everything to Avid’s DNX HR. It’s a pretty hefty bandwidth and it’s a pretty hefty use of storage, but at least it made it more manageable, as far as running it through the computer and processing and all that.
Larry Jordan: For Editors that are considering working in 4K, what should they consider before they start to edit their project?
Terrance Curren: Well, depending on the software you’re using to edit with, you’re probably going to want to convert to proxies, to work with, because it’s just too much to try to handle the raw media for offline editing. What’s really important is, making sure you have a pipeline in place where you can easily conform back to the original raw file. Whichever system you’re using, there’s different ways of dealing with that, but it’s really important to do all the work before you start editing; when you’re bringing stuff in, to make sure you can get back to the original media without a problem.
Larry Jordan: You started laughing when I asked the question, what made it funny?
Terrance Curren: Well, it’s just that it’s kind of funny that people would even want to work in 4K right now, because it’s just such a pain and it doesn’t really gain you anything; especially in the offline stage. I would recommend to people just to work in HD and, as long as they can conform back to the 4K easily, then, when you go do the finish, you deal with 4K. But, what do you really need 4K in offline resolution for, you’re not really going to see it.
Terrance Curren: One of the things that I ran into was that, I couldn’t play and work on the timeline in full resolution, it was just too laggy, because of the demands; so, when I was doing color correction, I would have to be in the lower resolution in the timeline, sort of a proxy resolution and then switch to the full res when I was doing more detailed effects work. It was kind of cumbersome to deal with that. As opposed to Resolve, where we normally finish 4K, because it uses the GPUs and you can add more GPUs to get more power, we don’t have those kind of issues.
Larry Jordan: Terry, for people that have decided that they want to use you for their next project, where can they go on the web to learn more about Alpha Dogs?
Terrance Curren: They can go to alphadogs.tv and for Editor’s Lounge, it’s editorslounge.com.
Larry Jordan: Those are two websites, alphadogs.tv and editorslounge.com and Terrance Curren is the Founder and President of Alpha Dogs. Terry, it’s been great chatting with you; thanks for your time.
Terrance Curren: Thank you and a Happy Thanksgiving.
Larry Jordan: Dylan Higginbotham is the Founder of Stupid Raisins; they make very interesting plug-ins for Final Cut Pro X, which is why we wanted to talk with him today. Hello Dylan, welcome back.
Dylan Higginbotham: Thanks Larry. Hi, how are you doing?
Larry Jordan: I am doing great and a Happy Thanksgiving to you.
Dylan Higginbotham: Yes indeed, Happy Thanksgiving to you too.
Larry Jordan: Tell us about your newest release. It’s got a long title; it’s 100 Final Cut Pro X Animated Shapes and Elements. What is it?
Dylan Higginbotham: Yes, that’s called Crackle Pop and it’s a collection of arrows and shapes and squares and circles and pops and bursts and explosions and basically, what you can do with all those different animated elements is, create cool looking titles; you can use it to reveal logos; you can use it to spice up video, maybe add some action to a clip, things like that. It’s real popular right now; you’ll see it in a lot of videos where things kind of burst and pop onto the screen. These shapes just make it really easy for a Video Editor to have that look without having to animate it themselves.
Larry Jordan: Well, what prompted you to create the plug in?
Dylan Higginbotham: Just seeing in lots of video everywhere else. I would see some cool motion graphics videos; I love to watch motion graphic videos and I would see people doing it and I thought, oh, that is really cool looking; I like the style and so, I’m going to try and recreate it myself and see what I can come up with when I make it.
Larry Jordan: How much does it cost and how do we get it?
Dylan Higginbotham: $49 and you can get it right in FX Factory; if you have that installed. You just go and hit the download trial button and then, once the trial’s downloaded you can buy it or you can test it out first with a watermark and it’s fully functional. You can also go to stupidraisins.com and buy it from there.
Larry Jordan: Well you’ve been focused on the Final Cut Pro X plug-in market for a while; exclusively, if I remember correctly. Why did you decide to focus on just one platform?
Dylan Higginbotham: When I first started playing with Final Cut Pro, when they did the newer version back in 2011, it made so much sense to me. I thought, this is how video editing should be. I had tried other programs and they were good but it just didn’t click with me and Final Cut Pro did. I thought, this is the future; this is cheap software, $300, that’s affordable, and cameras are starting to get amazing technology and cameras and they’re affordable; so lots of people are going to make movies and I have a feeling lots of people are going to make them on Final Cut Pro. With all of those reasons, I decided to just focus on Final Cut Pro X.
Larry Jordan: You sort of bet the ranch on two things, one is Final Cut and the second, that people want to buy plug-ins. Is there a market?
Dylan Higginbotham: Oh yes. When I first started this, I made a plug-in and I sold it to another company that sells plug-ins and I thought, I would just make them and sell it to that company. But, I saw that I could make a living doing that and so, my Wife and I, we talked about it for about a year, we bounced it back and forth, and finally we decided to do it. I quit my day job and focused on this and I’ve been able to make a living; so there’s definitely a market for it. It’s kind of an interesting and cool market. One particular part of the market, that I find interesting is, the YouTube market. There are so many people making YouTube videos and a lot of them use Final Cut Pro; and so it’s fun to watch what they’re creating with it and it’s fun to figure out things I can create and build for them, that would help them make better videos.
Larry Jordan: Well that gets me to the $64 question, how do you determine which effects to create?
Dylan Higginbotham: I get a lot of requests and so I’ll keep track of the requests. If I see a trend in the requests I’ll start making something like that. A lot of times it’s something that will catch my eye. Then I also keep an eye on other market places. Sometimes I’ll take a look at that and I’ll see what’s doing well there and then I’ll say, you know what? I could make that in motion and it would probably do well for Final Cut users too.
Larry Jordan: Dylan, I’ve always enjoyed working with your products and I wish you great success. For people that want to learn more about the products you have available, where can they go on the web?
Dylan Higginbotham: Stupidraisins.com
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, stupidraisins and the Founder of Stupid Raisins is Dylan Higginbotham. Dylan, thanks for joining us today and have yourself a great Thanksgiving.
Dylan Higginbotham: You’re welcome, thanks Larry. Happy Thanksgiving.
Larry Jordan: Scott Page currently serves as the CEO of Ignited Networks, which is a startup music accelerator; focused on teaching artists how to think like a startup; and he’s widely toured as a professional musician. Hello Scott, welcome back.
Scott Page: Hi Larry, how are you doing? I’m happy to be back buddy; I love your show.
Larry Jordan: Thank you and a Happy Thanksgiving to you Sir.
Scott Page: Back at you my friend.
Larry Jordan: In the show so far, we’ve been talking about new technology; but the ways that we promote and talk about technology is changing; especially in social media. What’s the latest?
Scott Page: Well, actually the world’s changing big time in kind of the social media world. We’re seeing a decline in traditional social media and what’s happening is, it’s all moving into the messaging infrastructure. So you’re going to see by the end of 2017, all these messaging platforms such as WeChat, Whatsapp, Facebook, Messengers, overtake the traditional big social networks. That changes everything for a lot of people, especially the content creators that are out there and also the advertisers and things. They’re going to have to figure out, well how do I get into these private networks? What’s going on, it’s kind of opening social networks and people posting, but in reality, you’re basically connecting to only handfuls of people on a daily basis, that you’re having conversations and stuff with. You know, this is a big reason why Facebook saw this writing on the wall and they ended up buying Whatsapp for, I think it was $19 billion; because they realized that it’s all going into real time. Everything about real time messaging.
Scott Page: What’s happening is, each piece of content that gets put into these networks now become a conversation and into these private networks. So what does this mean for all of the content creators out there. First, they need to get educated on where the market’s going; it’s moving so quickly in so many ways that it’s really important for all the content creators out there to spend some time focusing on learning what’s happening in these new messaging areas. An example is, I have a friend that is on Twitter, only posts once a day, but all of the activity is happening in the Twitter DM space; so in that sort of real time communicative space, but that area is where all the growth and everything is going on. It’s really going to a point where it’s relationships and that’s where the new dollars are; focusing on smaller groups of people which we call hives. That’s really where the world is going right now.
Larry Jordan: Well, what I’m hearing is that, the one too many of social media is being replaced with the one to one with messaging and the messaging is going real time, which means that we already didn’t have enough time in our lives to be able to do what needs to be done and now we’re going to be feeding our audience 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It strikes me that this is just sucking up more time, not less, from the point of view of promotion. Or, am I reading it wrong?
Scott Page: Yes and no. If you think about right now, all the content creators are so overwhelmed trying to manage all these networks; like they’re posting on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, Snapchat and they’re printing all this content is; but the problem is, most of these people aren’t making any money. How do I make money? For me it’s all about, how do I deliver somebody into a paying customer? Because otherwise it’s a hobby right? What happens is, the money is based on the relationships now; so that’s where the real dollars are. I see a concentration of where you are finding and targeting the right audience, because now we have the ability to actually find my target audience and put my stuff right into that group of people, which is a much better rate to conversation. Because we know that it’s so important to know your customer and, because we now have access to data, we can know that customer, we can find that customer and we can put that offering right in front of them.
Scott Page: Yes, I would say we have all this other time, but I think what’s going to happen is, it’s going to be concentrated around smaller groups of people that will pay the funds. That’s the new model.
Larry Jordan: Scott, this is a huge subject and we need to talk more about it. What we’ll do is, we’ll get back with you in a couple of weeks and spend more time as we start to learn how the world is switching from social to messaging; what the implications are and, more importantly, how we can manage it without destroying what’s left of our lives. For people that want to learn more, where can they go on the web?
Scott Page: You can go to ignited.network.
Larry Jordan: That’s ignited.network and Scott Page is the CEO of Ignited Networks. Scott, thanks for joining us. Have yourself a great holiday and we’ll talk to you soon.
Scott Page: Thanks Larry and happy holidays everybody out there.
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.com features content from around the world, with a global perspective on all things creative. Thalo is the place for creative folks to learn, collaborate, market and sell their works. Thalo is a part of the Thalo Arts community, a worldwide community of artists, filmmakers and storytellers. From photography, to filmmaking; performing arts, to fine arts and everything in between. Thalo is filled with resources you need to succeed. Visit thalo.com and discover how their community can help you connect, learn and succeed. That’s thalo.com
Larry Jordan: Nick Mattingly is the CEO and Co-Founder of Switcher Studio, which is an iOS app that enables anyone with an iOS device to capture and deliver multi cam events to online audiences. Recently they added Director mode, which records broadcast quality HD content and now he’s got something even cooler. Hello Nick, welcome.
Nick Mattingly: Hey, thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: Tell me, how would you describe Switcher Studio?
Nick Mattingly: First off, making videos hard; it’s expensive; it takes a lot of gear to get started and we’re trying to solve those problems. If you look at the way people create content on the spectrum, from pulling out your phone, to point and shoot; to the nightly news or in [ESP] and production. We bring about 80% of the production value at the top, without any need for special hardware; so using iPhones, iPads, our Cloud services and that’s how it pools. You can start making really great video.
Larry Jordan: Why?
Nick Mattingly: I mean, there is so much content online, it’s so noisy and it’s hard to stand out; especially with the shift in live video over the past few years, where we went from news stream and [Live Trim] as the giant, to now we have Twitter and Periscope and Facebook Live. You know, as a viewer, we want that television expensive and, as someone that creates content, getting there can be really hard. With Switcher, we’re making that creation process easier and more affordable.
Larry Jordan: Where are you seeing the greatest use of Switcher Studio? Who’s picking up on it?
Nick Mattingly: It’s really been all across the board. With Switcher Studio, because of the multi camera experience, or being able to bring in your computer for a Skype call or a presentation, a lot of the use cases are still event driven. It’s a concert or a workshop; a speaking engagement, a business meeting. We have customers who are doing puppet shows on Facebook; so there are some weird ones in there. What we’ve seen is that, there’s a new kind of live video that is more spontaneous and less planned and kind of filmed first.
Nick Mattingly: That’s part of what we’re talking about today, is the new product that we’re launching called Switcher Go, that takes that more off the cuff production and enhances the quality of video that people can make and we are very, very soon to launch on Switcher Go.
Larry Jordan: I want to talk specifically about the product in one second, but one more question about Switcher. How do I use it? How does it work? Not technically in terms of how it talks to the web, but from an end user point of view. I’ve got three iPhones, what do I do next?
Nick Mattingly: Right, so to get started, you would go to our website at switcherstudio.com and create an account; email address and password. Once you’ve created that account you would go to the app store on your iPhone or iPad and download Switcher Studio. When you first launch the app you’ll have two options; it’ll say use as camera or use as switcher and if you select use as switcher, you’ll log in with those same credentials that you made on the website and now that device, that’s where the magic happens. That’s where you can be the Director and start to connect other devices, add graphics, tell it where to stream. That’s where the whole production takes place.
Nick Mattingly: Now, if you want another camera, you would launch Switch Studio on another iPhone or iPad and, as long as they’re on the same Wi-Fi network or hotspot, they’ll all be able to communicate with one another and you can start making edits on the fly.
Larry Jordan: If I wanted to use three iPhones to cover an event, whether it’s a Flash Mob or a performance or something, I would then need four cell devices, three to act as camera and one to act as the Director?
Nick Mattingly: That’s correct. Now you could do just the three devices, that main device. You can use the built-in camera; so that can serve as a source and the controller. If you want to use Director mode, it will disable the camera on that device, so that it’s just a video switcher; so that’s where you can kind of expand it to having one kind of core switchboard and then four additional sources.
Larry Jordan: And all of them need to download Switcher Studio. Is there a cost for the download or is the cost for the service on the website?
Nick Mattingly: The download is free for Switcher Studio. You would sign up for the Switcher Studio service through the website. It’s $25 a month or 299 a year and that includes access to the video mixing app, desktop tools, Cloud service and support.
Larry Jordan: Now we’ve got this new thing called Switcher Go. Tell me about that.
Nick Mattingly: Switcher Go is a very, very easy way to record video, but you can also sync with your YouTube account or Facebook account; so it’s a really easy way to do live video on YouTube and Facebook Live. But we’re going beyond just the built in camera; so yes, you can use your phone and you can stream video directly from it, but, with a lot of these native apps, the experience can be somewhat limiting. It’s just what you point your camera at. With Switcher Go, we have sliders for exposure, ISO, shutter speed. We have a slider for easing in and out when you zoom; so rather than the traditional pinch to zoom, you can get a much smoother effect that’s easier for viewers. We also have a slider for depth of field; so you can shift the focus. We do that in a way that it works across iOS devices. It’s not an iPhone 7 specific feature. Just by starting to tweak some of the camera settings, you can really improve the video quality; even if it’s just the zoom and the depth of field slider.
Nick Mattingly: Then we can take that a step further, where you can also add photos and pre-recorded video; so at Switcher Go you could use the built-in camera, but you can also add up to four photos or videos from your camera roll, that you can cut to or share with your viewers, while you’re recording or streaming.
Larry Jordan: As a former live television Director, I don’t know if I’m supposed to be really depressed by this or really excited and I think I’m both. This is an amazing tool to be able to get small cameras into the field, to cover an event of any sort and get it up to the web live, so people can see what’s going on. It’s amazing. Is Switcher Go a standalone application or does it integrate with Switcher Studio?
Nick Mattingly: It’s a great question. Switcher Go is kind of a phone first experience; we have made this free product that we really want to encourage people to look at, for making mobile video, in general; whether it’s recorded or whether it’s live. We have an easy button integration with the YouTube and Facebook live, so that you can broadcast to those channels. But, the really cool part is that, Switcher Studio users, if you create an account on our website or you’re doing more of the event type productions, can actually tap into Switcher Go users; so you can crowd source video and start to use these two products in tandem. We’re also experimenting with some new features and architectural changers in Switcher Go, that we’re going to be able to use to enhance Switcher Studio.
Nick Mattingly: We’ve built this ecosystem where these pieces work together and Switcher Studio is kind of at the top of the list and this is where everything comes together; from the Cloud services to the desktop tools, to the new Switcher Go app; it’s all under this one umbrella. Not everybody needs multi camera, that is one of the really cool things about Switcher Studio; but, you know, Switcher Go is kind of that entry point, it allows you to start creating content, to start creating better content and it allows people that are using the core Switcher Studio product to kind of bring those two worlds together.
Larry Jordan: And you’re going to tell me it actually works huh?
Nick Mattingly: It works. It works really well. We also looked at how people are creating video on mobile and what some of the limitations or frustrations are with that. Some things that are really important for video, regardless of what you’re doing, is the battery, the storage and the volume. We have introduced a notification bar within the software that’s always on screen; that shows you your battery, your storage and a VU meter. So you can see if it’s too loud or it needs to be quieter. Also what we’ve noticed with live video is that, users will sometimes start a broadcast, maybe five, ten, 15 minutes before the event actually starts; so we have the ability to mute the microphones; so you don’t have to worry about your conversations being overheard or you could run photos or videos leading up to the actual production. Not just have the room sound or whatever your phone is picking up going out there for the world to hear.
Larry Jordan: This brings up a really important point. It’s wonderful to have multiple points of video and the quality of the cameras in iOS devices are really good. But how do we get good quality audio? Because, far too often, audio is sacrificed and an interesting program becomes unwatchable?
Nick Mattingly: By default with any iOS app, it’s going to use the built-in microphone. But with Switcher Studio, we have support for Bluetooth audio; so, if you have a Bluetooth headset you can get a wireless microphone, without having to spend hundreds of dollars on a special wireless system, with a transmitter and receiver. You can also bring in external sources; so using an audio adapter like the iRig Pre. You could bring in an XLR connection to the headphone port on your mobile device. Or there are digital audio adapters that will connect to the lighting port on your iPhone or iPad. You can also use the Apple camera kit converter, to go from the lighting to a USB port, where you can bring in more traditional audio interfaces. There’s a lot of flexibility for getting better audio and that’s a really good first step toward getting better video.
Larry Jordan: An example. We’ve got an audio mixer, generates an analog sound with an XLR connector stereo. How do I get that into an iPhone?
Nick Mattingly: Right; so if you had a panel discussion or you had a couple of microphones where you’re running sound from your computer and you have a microphone on yourself, you could run that through a traditional audio mixer and take the line out; just the master feed out, via XLR or whatever connection you have available. Then use an audio adapter like the iRig Pre. It’s a $30-40 adapter that will take that XLR connection and convert it to the TRRS; the headphone port for your mobile device. There’s other variations that work with the lighting as well. We have more information available on the website for some of the gadgets that are out there, that help with those workflows.
Larry Jordan: Nick, for people that want to learn more, where can they go on the web?
Nick Mattingly: Switcherstudio.com.
Larry Jordan: Nick Mattingly is the CEO and Co-Founder of Switcher Studio and Nick, this has been a fun visit. Thanks for taking the time.
Nick Mattingly: Thank you. I’ve had a lot of help. We’ve got a great team, so, it’s not just me; but it’s been a blast and thanks for having us.
Larry Jordan: This has been a wide-ranging program, with all kinds of things to listen to and think about. I want to thank our guests this week. Paul Kobelja with VER; Terry Curren with Alpha Dogs; Dylan Higginbotham with Studio Raisins; Scott Page with Ignited Networks; Nick Mattingly with Switcher Studio; and James DeRuvo with Doddle News. There’s a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website, at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Here you’ll find thousands of interviews, all online and all available to you today. Remember to sign up for our free weekly show newsletter that comes out every Friday.
Larry Jordan: Talk with us on Twitter at dpbuzz and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Our theme music is composed by Nathan Dugi-Turner; with additional music provided by smartsound.com. Text transcripts are provided by Take1 Transcription; visit take1.tv to learn how they can help you. Our producer is Debbie Price; my name is Larry Jordan. Have yourself a wonderful Thanksgiving and thanks for listening to the Digital Production Buzz.
Larry Jordan: The Digital Production Buzz is copyright 2016 by Thalo LLC.