Joel Lipton, Photographer/PD, Joel Lipton Studio
Bram Desmet, President/CEO, Flanders Scientific, Inc.
Jourdan Aldredge, Creative Content Coordinator, Premium Beat
Scott Freiman, CEO, Qwire
Randi Altman, Editor-in-Chief, postPerspective
James DeRuvo, Film and Technology Reporter, DoddleNEWS
Larry Jordan: Tonight on The Buzz, Christmas is almost here and it’s time to start thinking about food. We start with Joel Lipton, a professional photographer, who makes his living shooting food. Joel takes us behind the scenes of a food shoot; then provides a full menu of tips, to make your own food photos finer.
Larry Jordan: Next, Jourdan Aldredge and his team of writers at Premium Beat, have assembled a gift guide for your favorite filmmaker. These inexpensive gifts will brighten the heart of anyone shooting movies, without breaking your budget.
Larry Jordan: Next Scott Freiman is the CEO of Qwire a company that provides collaborative tools for everyone who works with music to picture. Their core product, Qwire Music improves the workflow in managing, licensing and clearing music.
Larry Jordan:: Next, Bram Desmet is the CEO of Flanders Scientific, a developer and manufacturer of high quality monitors for production and post. Tonight, we discuss the move to HDR media and what’s involved in seeing what we’re creating.
Larry Jordan: Next, Randi Altman returns with her look back at the key trends of 2016. All this plus James DeRuvo with this week’s DoddleNEWS update. The Buzz starts now.
Male Voiceover: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking. Authoritative: One show serves a worldwide network of media professionals. Current: Uniting industry experts. Production: Filmmakers. Post-Production: And content creators around the planet. Distribution: From the media capital of the world, in Los Angeles, California, the Digital Production Buzz goes live now.
Larry Jordan: Welcome to the Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast, for the creative content industry; covering media production, post-production and marketing around the world. My name is Larry Jordan.
Larry Jordan: Christmas and Hanukkah are just a few days away; so we’re spending time in tonight’s show, looking at two key elements; food and gifts. If you’ve ever posted pictures of your plate on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll want to listen to our first guest. Joel Lipton is a professional food photographer. I recorded our interview a couple of days ago and we had an interesting discussion on how he shoots food. Then, after we were done, I asked him what we can do to improve our own food photography and suddenly the interview ran about ten minutes longer. I integrated his comments in our segment tonight, so that both professional and amateur foodies can improve the quality of their images.
Larry Jordan: Also, Randi Altman is back, which is always fun. Tonight, she kicks off our look back at media in 2016 with her take on the key technology trends for the year. She always has solid insights and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you. 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 filmmakers. Best of all, every issue is free and comes out on Friday.
Larry Jordan: Now it’s time for the DoddleNEWS update with James DeRuvo. Hello James.
James DeRuvo: Happy Holidays Larry.
Larry Jordan: And a wonderful Happy Holiday to you as well. What is happening in the world today?
James DeRuvo: Well, NVIDIA has revealed, they’re probably going to announce a new lower cost Titan 4K video card at CES. This thing is a beast; it has nine to 11 teraflops of computing power; from up to 3300 cores and 12 gigabytes of on board GDDR 5X memory. It was designed to go head to head with AMD’s Vega line of video cards. I’ll tell you. What’s really driving video card design these days is not the entertainment industry, it’s not filmmakers, it’s gaming. I mean, people are spending thousands of dollars to get the most powerful gaming systems they can; because the faster they are, the more advantage you have when you play your games. That’s what’s driving the video card industry right now; high quality games that are streaming in 4K and In-Video wants to take advantage of that with the new Titan 1080, 4K line of video card.
Larry Jordan: Well AMD is not standing still. As you know; they announced new stuff about a week ago.
James DeRuvo: It’s coming down. We’re going to have a video card war and it’s going to be fun to watch.
Larry Jordan: Well CES is coming up in about two weeks; we’ll just have to see what happens at the show. What else have you got?
James DeRuvo: How would you like to have your next film scored and written by a computer?
Larry Jordan: I’ve heard computer scored music before, it’s got beeps and bloops in it.
James DeRuvo: There’s this company that came out last year, called Juke Deck and it was created by a Cambridge university music graduate and published computer. He wanted to give video creators a tool that would allow them to create music without going through the complicated headache of licensing. He believes the licensing of music is broken and it’s expensive and the copyright, you need a lawyer to do it. He decided to create a service that would enable a video creator to instantly create his own music for his film. The music is made from virtual instruments and you get a lot of MIDI with clips of up to five minutes long, at various tempos. The downside is that, sometimes the algorithm spits out a tune that’s unusable; so you have to do it more than once and some of the genres, like rock and folk music just don’t translate too well.
James DeRuvo: If you want to have a lot more control and a lot more depth of genre that you want to read from, there’s another service called Filmstro, which uses real clips for studio musicians, that you can put together, and you can adjust momentum, depth and power and you can get a much better result. But those are two different loyalty free options for creative to be able to score their music, without having to pay a lot of money for it.
Larry Jordan: One of them is called Filmstro; what was the other one called?
James DeRuvo: Duke Deck.
Larry Jordan: Interesting. Okay, what else have you got?
James DeRuvo: When I was in college, I was manager of a movie theater and it wasn’t uncommon for us to have a movie in our theaters for over a year. We had ‘ET’ for a year, we had ‘Top Gun’ for a year. The whole reason behind it was, was, if you had a popular movie, it wasn’t going to come out to video until the next year, and then you’d have a sequel the year after that; so it was an every other year kind of thing. Well, currently, the release window is about 90 days now and Apple is pushing studios and theaters to go to a 17 day theatrical release window; so they could start streaming first run movies within 17 days of their original release.
Larry Jordan: Well, it’s not just Apple that’s pushing the studios, they’re pushing as well because of the falloff in optical media; so we’re seeing pressure coming in a lot of different areas.
James DeRuvo: A lot of the studios are pushing for it, because, they have their own stream video services. Disney, on the other hand, doesn’t want to play; they like it the way it is and, really, the only hold-up has been theater visitors. The simple fact of the matter is, is that, although box office figures are breaking records almost every year now, theater attendance has actually stagnated and, as a result, the theater visitors are starting to warm to the idea; turning over movies faster and signing off on this 17 day theatrical release window for streaming. There is some data to suggest that it won’t really hurt the box office in doing so.
Larry Jordan: Interesting. James, for people that need all this information and more, where can they go on the web to stay current?
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 he’s with us every week; with the latest on the industry. James, have yourself a wonderful holiday, we’ll talk to you next week.
James DeRuvo: You too Larry, Harry New Year.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye-bye.
Larry Jordan: I want to introduce you to a new website, thalo.com. Thalo.com is an artist, community and networking site; for creative people to connect, be inspired and showcase their creativity. Thalo.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: Joel Lipton is a stills photograph and cinematographer, who shoots a wide variety of subjects. He’s been a freelance photographer for more than 30 years and it’s a delight to talk to him now. Hello Joel, welcome.
Joel Lipton: Thank you Larry; nice to be here.
Larry Jordan: What first got you interested in photography?
Joel Lipton: What first got me interested, when I was a kid was, I was eight years old in summer camp, in Upstate New York and you could do different activities. Someone said, do you want to do the photography club? I gave it a shot and we took photos of our friends on a Rolleiflex camera; a little twin lens, where you looked down and it was backwards and it was confusing. But we took these pictures. We then went into a dark room and developed the film into negatives, which was amazing to me at eight years old. Then, we made prints of them by taking the negative, putting it in the enlarger, projecting it onto white paper in this, you know, dark room, which had yellow amber light and then, sure enough, a few minutes after they put it in the chemistry, in the trays, the image came up and I was hooked.
Joel Lipton: I was hooked from when I was a kid and then did it as a hobby, until I found that you can actually make a living at this.
Larry Jordan: Oh my goodness.
Joel Lipton: In my 20s went to college, at the Art Center in Pasadena and studied advertising and I’ve been doing it ever since.
Larry Jordan: I can see your Art Center background in your photographs and we’ll talk more about that in just a minute. The images you create are just beautiful; just beautiful. I almost didn’t make it to this interview, I was lost on your website; well I just have to see one more. They’re just captivating stuff. You’ve shot so much, what’s your favorite subject?
Joel Lipton: God, that’s a hard thing. Obviously, you know, I’m not somebody that specializes so much, I am somebody who does a lot of different things. Eclectic. I enjoy shooting people; still life; architecture; lately wildlife. I just was in Africa for the second time and shot some wildlife and that is now super fascinating to me. But I also like food photography; that’s something that I found as a real calling and enjoyed shooting that and have had great success doing food photography.
Larry Jordan: From wildlife to people to food, that is a pretty eclectic spectrum.
Joel Lipton: Very much so.
Larry Jordan: Is it the technical challenge of taking the picture? Is it the challenge of trying to light it; to bring out the life? Is it a compositional challenge? What is it that intrigues you? There’s got to be a common thread that runs through there somewhere.
Joel Lipton: For all photography, for me, the thing that brought me to photography and that I still love every day, is the creative challenge, along with the technical, because I really do enjoy the technical; the lighting, the composition, whatever camera I possibly am shooting with, or whatever format I’m using. As is the creativity, which is, how am I going to light this? How am I going to look at this? What is the client looking for? Often time, it’s me that is making that decision; if I’m doing something for myself, or it’s the client saying to me, you know, I want you to do something like this and either give me an example; then it’s my job to bring it to life for that client. Whether shooting people for a movie poster, or shooting food for a fast food client.
Larry Jordan: It’s the holidays; let’s talk about food. Because food is one of the hardest things possible to make look good on camera. We only have to look at amateur photography of what’s on our plate to realize how hard it is. How do you get food to look good?
Joel Lipton: I would say food has got different categories. If you’re shooting a cookbook or an editorial spread for a magazine; or if you’re doing something for advertising for a fast food client; or for a menu, those are very different animals, to a certain extent. Because, if you’re doing something for editorial, you’re probably going to want it to be more natural; daylight or the look of daylight coming through a window, much more sort of homey looking. If you’re doing something for advertising, you could have it much cleaner; you may have it on a white background in the studio, or sometimes you’re working with a chef who’s doing it, or sometimes you’re working with a food stylist; who is making that. Especially in the world of fast food, because, there are food technologists from a fast food company, but there’s a food stylist who makes it look good on the day on the shoot.
Larry Jordan: You’ve used four terms I need some help with. We’ve got the photographer, that person I understand; he’s holding the camera. But you’ve also used the word chef and food stylist and food technologist. What are these people doing?
Joel Lipton: Well, I would say a chef, everyone would know. When I’m shooting in a restaurant, for a particular chef, they’re making their dishes themselves; they are plating them, they are making them look beautiful and sometimes they’re making them a few times for the camera, if it’s something that has a short lifespan. Whether it’s something that has got melted cheese, or foam, or whatever. That’s the chef. The food technologist would be the person, say, from a food company or from a hotel chain; where we work with food technologists who come up with the recipe for the dish. That is from the client side. A food stylist would be somebody that I would hire or the client might hire and they’re the ones, who on the day of the shoot, will take the food from the client and make it look its best.
Joel Lipton: There’s something called truth in advertising, where you have to use the actual ingredients if you’re doing an advertisement for a product or a food; you have to use the actual ingredients in the photograph. You can’t just go, well I’m shooting a McDonalds burger, but I’m going to use a burger that I made myself. You have to use their patty, if you’re doing it for Carl’s Jr, who is a client of mine. You have to use their patties, their buns, their sauces. The food stylist can make it look beautiful and, you know, make it look pretty by putting beautiful grill marks on it; but they have to use their food. The food stylist is the person that does that, along with their assistants.
Larry Jordan: Is the food that you shoot actually edible?
Joel Lipton: Yes. I mean, it starts off edible. I mean, it depends. If we’re shooting something with a chef, I mean, at a restaurant, it’s perfectly edible, you know, if it’s coming from a restaurant or a chef or a hotel. If you’re doing something for fast food, they will cook it on the outside, but they don’t necessarily have to cook that patty all the way through, because it’s not going to be eaten by a customer. They’re more concerned about how it looks on camera.
Joel Lipton: It is all real food, it’s not fake food, but, sometimes it’s being brushed with oil and things that you’re not going to want to eat; even though it’s olive oil or cooking oil. There is a thing that they do with cheese, to melt cheese a certain way without physically melting it. They tend to rub some brushed pine salt; so next time you see cheddar cheese looking so beautiful, think of someone brushing pine salt on it, to kind of get it to have that right kind of melt. They also sometimes will use a hairdryer to kind of melt it, just a little bit; so, there’s different techniques. But it is all real food.
Larry Jordan: It starts real, it may not end up real.
Joel Lipton: If we’re shooting a burger, to get the pickles to stay there and the tomato to stay where we need it to, there’s little pins and little tiny things that are there holding it, or little pieces of cardboard, to king of lift the tomato up, to catch the light perfectly. You know, we’re in there almost with magnifying glasses, to make it look so perfect and we’re spritzing it with a little bit of water and glycerin, to get the tomato to look beautiful. Besides that, there’s things in the burger, kind of holding it, to keep its structure; otherwise it may fall apart.
Larry Jordan: I’ve never thought of a burger posing for makeup before, but the image is indelible now.
Joel Lipton: That’s true, that’s very true.
Larry Jordan: There’s a lot of people in the audience that really understand tech; so let’s just go to gear for just a minute. What kind of lighting do you like? Especially because you get such incredible texture out of your images.
Joel Lipton: Lighting for strobe, I mean, I use anything from Broncolor studio strobes, for lighting; to shape the light I’m using soft boxes, or sometimes I’m using direct light, through grids; and then I’m just using, sometimes, just diffusion. I mean, there’s times when I’m shooting burgers, where, you know, it’s not a full table’s worth of food; but if it’s one tiny burger and we’re shooting it with a super wide angle lens and we’re very tight on it, you’ve got to use much small controlled sources of light; much smaller grids; much tighter. You know, there’s no point using a giant 12 by 12 silk when you’re shooting a burger that’s only, you know, five inches across. You have to find the right tool for that.
Joel Lipton: When I’m shooting video, I’ve tended to lately be using LED lighting, because LED is cooler; which also helps preserve the food. The last thing I’ve been doing and this I don’t do a lot of, but when you’re doing high speed; I have the opportunity to shoot some high speed footage of popcorn and malted balls and M&Ms for a movie theater marquee and the snack bar. We shot a thousand frame per second high speed video and we were using a light that was like a strobe light, that was used capacitors and what would be like a modeling light, on a low panel. Then, when we were ready to shoot it, they would hit a button, the light would get bright for about five seconds and then it would go off.
Larry Jordan: How important is depth of field, when you’re shooting food?
Joel Lipton: Well, depth of field is important, because, you know, a look that has existed for a while, in the editorial food, is to have shallow depth of field. Some of the stuff on my website, that I’ve done for restaurants, we specifically shoot with a 120 macro on a Hosel Rod, with a 39 megapixel digital back and we’re shooting at a 456, which is very wide open, it makes it more dreamlike and more aesthetic, I think, to the customer and to the viewer. In that sense, when I’m doing an editorial, shallow depth of field is what I want. When I’m doing advertising, if you’re doing product for menu boards, we tend to keep it nice and sharp; so you need a lot more light for that.
Joel Lipton: There’s a company called Paul Buff and they make these small strobes called Einsteins and they’re mono blockheads and these mono blockheads are great, because they’re 640 watts, at full power, and they can go down as low as two watt seconds for very little power; which is great if you’re trying to balance it with available light in a restaurant; or, if you want very shallow depth of field and you just need a little bit of light. I also shoot with a 5D Mark III for a lot of stuff; my Canon. You don’t need a lot of power.
Larry Jordan: Joel, what advice do you have for people shooting food for themselves; or posting to Instagram or Facebook?
Joel Lipton: You know, everybody’s taking pictures of food and I think that people are getting a more aesthetic understanding of food; whether it looks great on their plate or not, but they’re trying to shoot good pictures of food. I also think that restaurants are plating their food nicer, because they know people are going to shoot pictures of their food and then that’s going to help their business. I think that’s sort of an interesting trend in how Instagram and people taking pictures with their food and sharing food pictures, has sort of helped the aesthetic of food in restaurants.
Larry Jordan: Aside from the fact that we can’t go through all the stagings that you can do in a commercial shoot, is there one single tip you can give people, to help them make their food photography look better when they’re sitting in a restaurant about to post it to Facebook?
Joel Lipton: Yes I can. I think that, if they’re in a restaurant and there’s some nice window light, if the light is backlighting your food and rim lighting it; in order to show texture, that would be a way for you to really show off your food. Look at it at different angles; at three quarters or look at it lower. I always tend to like to Dutch my camera and Dutch is a term where you turn your camera on a little bit of an angle. Make sure there’s no crap in the background; you know, straws or, you know, junk. Try to make it interesting. Then, if it’s dark in the restaurant, use your friend’s phone to rim light your food; because, if you just light it with the light that’s on your camera, then, it’s going to be flat; you’re going over line it in the front.
Joel Lipton: I tend to take my Wife’s camera and I top light my food, or rim light it and try to get the best angle. My Son just graduated film school; so then, he’ll take a napkin and he’ll make it softer and then my Wife gets crazy and my Daughter says, could you stop it and eat your food?
Larry Jordan: You must be impossible in a restaurant.
Joel Lipton: I sometimes am. You’re diffusing the light with the napkin, or you’re bouncing it off of a menu, to get the right kind of quality of light. Seriously, I’ve done that but, you know, not every night.
Larry Jordan: If you did it every night, they’d stop taking you out to dinner.
Joel Lipton: Exactly.
Larry Jordan: Joel, for people that want to take a look at your work and, ideally, hire you for another 6-7,000 jobs, where can they go on the web?
Joel Lipton: My website is my name, it’s just joellipton.com.
Larry Jordan: Give yourself a treat and visit Joel’s website; there’s so many different subjects and such beautiful photography. It’s just a wonderful way to look at some beautiful images. Joel, thanks for sharing time with us today.
Joel Lipton: It’s been my pleasure. Thanks Larry.
Larry Jordan: Jourdan Aldredge is a filmmaker and a writer for PremiumBeat.com. He’s worked professionally in the industry, with brands such as AT&T, Pepsi and Beats by Dre. As well as being a video journalist with the Dallas Observer. Hello Jourdan, welcome.
Jourdan Aldredge: Hello Larry.
Larry Jordan: How would you describe what you do?
Jourdan Aldredge: I would describe what I do as half actual video production and filmmaking and then half writing and journalism on that very subject. I write and manage with Premium Beat; we’re a stock music company that has an immersive and active blog; which we update multiple times throughout the day and cover everything in video production, filmmaking, video editing, writing, directing and everything in between.
Larry Jordan: Well one of the things you’ve done recently, in your copious spare time, is put together this Christmas gift ideas. Tell me about this.
Jourdan Aldredge: We have several writers on staff and use a lot of contributors as well. As a team, actually, we came up with just a list of gifts for filmmakers; not specifically filmmakers for filmmakers but just also people who have filmmakers in their family or friend group. But they all are kind of just little small knick-knack things which, if you do the right one, I mean, it could help out in a pinch or it could just be a fun thing that just enriches their lives a little bit.
Larry Jordan: Alright, I’m filled with curiosity. What’s on the list?
Jourdan Aldredge: We did this campaign, actually, it was really cool; it was a Kickstarter campaign and it was a little tongue in cheek. But it was just simply different apparel and hats and sweaters that say the word movies.
Larry Jordan: Ah cool. Okay, what’s next?
Jourdan Aldredge: Custom lens covers; so, whether you’re a personal branding or you have a small little shop with your own logo and everything, you actually can order for those people lens covers to go over their lens caps. That way, one, if they lose it, they know which one’s theirs real quick and also, it’s a little promotion; and, they’re actually really affordable, really cheap and really easy to put on; so, you never could have too many of those around.
Larry Jordan: No, lens covers means the bag a lens goes in?
Jourdan Aldredge: No, so on the lens cap, it’s just a cover to go on the lens cap.
Larry Jordan: Okay, also a cool idea. What’s next?
Jourdan Aldredge: The Lumu iPhone light meter that you’re just a person that has a light meter in your bag and maybe the battery goes out or you forgot it, this is just a little adaptor that goes on any iPhone and an app where you could pull it up and it works, pretty much just as well as a digital one in a pinch; I mean, if it’s something you really like, it’s something you could replace in your repertoire and just have with you at all times.
Larry Jordan: That’s a cool number three. What’s number four?
Jourdan Aldredge: Number four would be a magazine subscription, specifically, the American Society of Cinematographers. You‘re in the industry, it never hurts to check it; it’s kind of the top level too; so its … was behind the scenes on, I don’t know, whatever the latest ‘Star Trek’ film or summer blockbuster. They do some cool interviews and in-depth kind of industry focused stuff about the different people and the different steps they’re working on.
Larry Jordan: Another good magazine for the audio industry is called Mix and it’s the same thing as Cinematographer; it goes into the industry in-depth. You can add that to your list for next year.
Jourdan Aldredge: Yes, you could even do a little double package there for someone.
Larry Jordan: Okay, we’re up to number five. What you got?
Jourdan Aldredge: Number five would be a Gorillapod. We are linked to one made by Joby.
Larry Jordan: It’s like a bunch of pipe cleaners.
Jourdan Aldredge: Yes, exactly.
Larry Jordan: You can bend it in any position you want and it just sits there. You‘re absolutely right, it’s a very, very cool device for putting cameras in strange situations. We’ve got two left; what’s number six?
Jourdan Aldredge: This actually could go for people that aren’t even in videography; it’s really cool right now. Google Cardboard is something that Google will send you, to pair with you using their Google or YouTube virtual reality. It’s just kind of a cool, fun thing to see where VR is and where some of these videos can take you.
Larry Jordan: The first time I saw Google VR, it reminded me of the Viewmaster and you’re way too young to remember those. But it’s a very similar concept.
Jourdan Aldredge: Correct me if I’m wrong, it’s the one with the slide on the side?
Larry Jordan: Yes.
Jourdan Aldredge: Yes. I vaguely remember those.
Larry Jordan: Thank you. I appreciate that. What’s the last one on your list?
Jourdan Aldredge: Number seven, if you want to make a filmmaker happy, even if they already have all this stuff, a simple lens cleaning kit, or any other products. We link to one made by Zeiss. It just has everything from wipes, to a few blowers, a little brush; just everything you might need when you’re in a pinch and your lens is a bit smudged, there’s some dirt on it and you want to clean it up. I mean, you go through those multiple times through the years, so, it never hurts to have a stockpile.
Larry Jordan: That is a great list of very inexpensive and yet very useful gifts. You and your team did a great job. For people that want more tips and techniques on the industry, where can they go on the web?
Jourdan Aldredge: You could find more about this article and a whole bunch of other stuff at PremiumBeat.com/blog.
Larry Jordan: Jourdan Aldredge is a filmmaker and a writer for Premium Beat. Jourdan, thanks for joining us today.
Jourdan Aldredge: Thanks for having me Larry.
Larry Jordan: Scott Freiman is the CEO and Co-Founder of Qwire. They provide collaborative tools for managing music for pictures. Their core product, Qwire Music, improves workflow for people involved in creating, recording, manipulating, placing, licensing, clearing, delivering, administering or budgeting; for music in media. Hello Scott welcome.
Scott Freiman: Thank you for having me; glad to be here.
Larry Jordan: A pleasure to have you with us. How would you describe Qwire, the company?
Scott Freiman: Qwire is still a fairly small company, started by two composers who saw a need for managing the scores that they were writing for some top TV shows. The problem was that, that was only part of the puzzle; because they needed to interact with music editors, who were doing spotting notes; they needed to interact with music supervisors, who were licensing tracks; even the picture editor, who’s temping the score and proving video cuts, they wanted to interact with them as well and they couldn’t with their own sort of standalone solution.
Scott Freiman: What we built was a software package that exists in the Cloud; all these different people, picture editors, supervisors, composers, music editors, all have their own sets of tools for managing their work and yet they can communicate with each other and share information. It cuts down on redundancy, it keeps everyone in the loop; when a cut changes; when a piece of music changes; when a song can’t be licensed or budgets are overrun, everyone can know about it instantly.
Larry Jordan: Well, is this a single product, or is it a collection of products?
Scott Freiman: We think of it as a collection of modules. It’s one product we call Qwire Music; but there’s a Qwire Post for picture editors; there’s a Qwire Spot for composers and music editors. All falls under the same umbrella and you use the module or modules that you need to do your work. Often times, on a smaller budget production, you might have the composer acting as the music supervisor, for example; or the picture editor may also be acting as the music editor. Rather than try and make these all separate things, we have them each with their own functionality and you can sort of combine them like Lego; however you see fit.
Larry Jordan: Is this an application that runs locally; or is it a service; or do I access through a web browser? How does it work?
Scott Freiman: It is an application that you run local, with a centralized Cloud based data server. You connect to the server in order to share information; in order to retrieve information. Everything is secure. You can also share music sync to video with a very unique patented player that we have, that allows you to send playlists of multiple audio tracks against a single video. For example, I could share a playlist of three alternatives of songs or three different score pieces that I’ve written; one with the drums and one without the drums, with the same video. Share those with people on a completely secure manner; get comments back, right into Qwire.
Larry Jordan: How long has this been out and is anybody using it?
Scott Freiman: Yes. We have a lot of top shows using it right now. We started really getting it out into the world in 2013 and we continued to enhance it, working alongside people like Alex Patsavas, the music supervisor and John Ullrich, my partner, also an analytics composer. Music editors, picture editors and producers, all look at the product, like it and then say, wouldn’t it be great if it could do this; and we continue to enhance it. Over the last year or two, we’ve really been expanding. We’re on many, many of the shows that you watch on television and quite a few independent films as well.
Larry Jordan: How do you price it?
Scott Freiman: Today, what we’re doing is, we’re pricing it at a zero cost; so everyone can use it for free. Ultimately, our goal is to have the production studios pick up the cost for this. The reason for that is, we feel that, ultimately, all of this information rolling up to the studio is going to benefit them, in terms of being able to better manage the process; better manage budgets. But, right now, our focus is really on building adoption; getting people to use the product; really making it the best functionality for everybody, to go along with the way that they work.
Larry Jordan: For people that need more information, where can they go on the web?
Scott Freiman: They should go to qwiremusic.com. We have a download that will be available, if not this evening, by tomorrow certainly. You can fill out a form and request a free demo product, completely functional. It’ll work for you. If you like it, you can upgrade to the full version for zero cost.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, qwiremusic and Scott Freiman is the CEO of Qwire. Scott, thanks for joining us today.
Scott Freiman: Thanks so much for having me.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye-bye.
Larry Jordan: Here’s another website I want to introduce you to, doddlenews.com. DoddleNEWS gives you a portal into the broadcasting, 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 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: DoddleNEWS 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 everything in between, Thalo is filled with the 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: Bram Desmet is the President and CEO of Flanders Scientific Inc. a Georgia based company; best known for high quality professional equipment to the broadcast and post-production industries; including their monitors and supporting software. Hello Bram, welcome.
Bram Desmet: Thank you for having me.
Larry Jordan: How would you describe Flanders Scientific?
Bram Desmet: We are really focused, primarily, on displays and displays and devices that are associated with displays; thinks like LUT boxes; color management devices; measuring equipment; the final piece in the puzzle, seeing your image on a beautiful screen.
Larry Jordan: I want to run a television monitor company is not something an eight year old would normally say to themselves. What is it that got you interested in this in the first place?
Bram Desmet: Well actually, my Father was in this industry for quite a long time; he was one of the employees for BARCO CRT Division in the US, in the early 80s. I literally grew up around it, so, kind of how I learned it all and how I got kind of roped into this industry.
Larry Jordan: I’ve been looking at your name and I’m looking at Flanders Scientific, there’s no correlation between the two. How did the company get its name?
Bram Desmet: All the owners of the company are originally from the Flanders region of Belgium; now that includes myself, but I was only four years old or so when I moved to the United States, with my Father who was working for BARCO at the time. But, it just kind of came from that. We had always joked that, if we started a company, we were going to call it Flanders Scientific, kind of in homage to the idea of Scientific Atlanta or one of those types of company; and it just was a natural fit. We were just paying tribute to our homeland.
Larry Jordan: That is a very cool name. Let’s talk about some of the products that you’ve got. There’s companies that specialize in small monitors that mount to a camera and there’s others that specialize in very large systems; where do your products fit in and what do you view is your niche?
Bram Desmet: Our bread and butter products are really that 17 to 20 ish sized monitor. Now that being said, we do have everything down to a nine inch monitor and we go all the way up to a 55 inch monitor. But the bulk of what we focus on is kind of those midsized monitors; for editorial; for color grading. That’s been our strong suit for a very long time; kind of the hero monitor in a color suite. But also color critical onset monitoring is actually probably where we’ve seen the most growth. We’re very popular with DITs, camera operators; people like that, who need to see, not just an image, but they need to see an accurate image. That’s really been our specialty.
Bram Desmet: What we tend to see is still more of this trend of having a hero monitor for the colorist, which the colorist sits close to and then a larger … monitor; so they go with a plasma, or they go with a large consumer OLED or a consumer LCD. What we’ve done to address that market segment is make our little color management box; our box iO and box iO is basically a 3D LUT box, which allows you to accurately calibrate those more kind of prosumer level products; those displays that at least look more or less like the hero monitor that the colorist might be using.
Larry Jordan: Flanders is known for sending monitors back for calibration at the factory. Does that mean that I have to send my 55 inch TV set to you for calibration with box iO?
Bram Desmet: No. You can actually do all of this onsite. You know, especially for the smaller monitor, we have some people who are, you know, maybe just a camera operator, who doesn’t want to invest the time or energy or money into calibration equipment; so what they’ll do is, they’ll send it back to us. We offer a free service, where you can send it to our European or RUS headquarters, either one of those, and have the monitor calibrated for free. The user just pays shipping. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get these calibration kits, they start at 600 bucks for both the probe and the software. It’s easy enough for anybody to really do themselves, if they are willing to do that.
Bram Desmet: Lots of different options. You can send it in; you can buy the calibre and go do it yourself; you can hire a professional calibrator. Again, our approach to just be as open as possible and give people as many options as possible.
Larry Jordan: What new toys do you have out?
Bram Desmet: We do some of the newer DM series; so the DM series are our top of the line monitors. We just released a DM170, which is a 17 inch and then a DM240, which is a 24 inch. Those are newer products in our line-up and what we’ve done across the entire DM series and what we’ve just announced a week or so ago, was the new HDR preview modes; which allows operators in onset environments or quality control applications, an affordable way to monitor HDR signals. Again, this is not for mastering; so, I want to be clear about that. This is a way to provide that affordable access, to allow people to see what is actually present in that HDR signal.
Larry Jordan: Is this Rec. 2020 spec or is this P3 or what does it mean in practical terms?
Bram Desmet: We’ve added HDR preview modes to all of our DM series monitors and those HDR preview modes are really geared towards operators in onset environments or in quality control applications, perhaps in post; to allow them to affordably monitor HDR signals, to see what’s present in the content. Now, this is not for HDR mastering, but certainly for, again, those QC or preview applications, it is very suitable.
Larry Jordan: Now there’s a lot of different definitions of HDR that seem to be floating around. Are you talking P3 or are you talking a Rec. 2020 or what?
Bram Desmet: It’s important to distinguish between the EOTF, the Electro-Optical Transfer Function; which is what really makes high dynamic range have that high dynamic range to it; verse the color gamut. Our HDR mode can be used in combination with any of those color gamuts; so you can use it with Rec. 709 you can use it with P3, you can use it with Rec. 2020 color gamut. Now the Rec. 2020 color gamut in relation, because no flat panel will display all of that color gamut; but ours do a very admirable job of covering a large portion of that. Again, can be used with ST2084, which is PQ; or HLG, which is the other popular alternative that’s hybrid-log gamma. Those two flavors of HDR, we can show you preview modes on those, on our DM series units.
Larry Jordan: One of the things you’ve said in the past, as you and I were chatting, is that, we cannot yet accurately represent the full range of what Rec. 2020 is; it’s going to be a series of small steps. What I’m think I’m hearing you say is, that the way that your monitors work today, is that you’re able to express the wider saturation levels, more than the wider brightness levels. Is that a true statement?
Bram Desmet: For example on our monitors, when you’re looking at PQ for example; so the ST2084 HDR standard, we actually have two ways of monitoring. One is where we clip it at certain luminance levels. On the DM series, for example, we’ll just clip 300 nits. Obviously, HDR and most of these standards can go up to 10,000 nits; so that only shows you a small portion of it. The other thing that we have is, we have what we call a soft roll and what that does is, it shows you all the code values that are present; it just doesn’t represent them one to one, at the luminance level that they’re supposed to be at. You’ll see the difference between the code value that represents 9,000 nits and the code value that represents 10,000 nits; different levels of luminance on your screen. You can still see that accurately.
Bram Desmet: Now that’s not a full ATR experience, but if you’re on set and you have a signal coming in, from a camera that’s PQ, it would be able to see, is that information there, or are we going beyond the range, even, of what the camera can capture or show in that PQ range. That’s a very useful mode.
Bram Desmet: The saturation is also a challenge because, there’s no flat panel display that can show you that Rec. 2020 color gamut; because, it’s extraordinarily wide. We cover, I think, it’s something like 83-84% of that, depending on the model of monitor. What we do is we just clip once we can’t hit that saturation anymore. Most natural colors fall well within that; you have to go to a really nice laser projector to be able to see that.
Larry Jordan: How long do you think it will take for the industry to deliver full Rec. 2020 monitors? Are we talking a few months, a few years or decades?
Bram Desmet: That’s kind of the million dollar question there. The other part of that is, we may not necessarily want to do that. I know that sounds strange but, the way that I think of Rec. 2020 is that, it’s more aspirational than anything else and it serves as a good container. What you can do is, you can deliver something where levels are specified relative to the Rec. 2020 standard; but perhaps we do our grading on a P3 color gamut monitor and those available. That’s actually what a lot of facilities are already doing; so they are actually mastering on a P3 color gamut display, but they are simply having their deliverables, basically, as if though they are Rec. 2020 value and relatively future proof.
Bram Desmet: Again, you may not necessarily want to do Rec. 2020. There are visual issues that can happen, once you start going to those extremely wide color gamuts.
Larry Jordan: This is going to be a subject that we’re going to be talking about for a lot of months to come and Bram, thanks for your advice for this. Where can people go on the web to learn more?
Bram Desmet: You can always reach us through our website, flandersscientific.com. You’ll see our contact details there; you know, user guides, information on our monitors, all of that can be found at flandersscientific.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, flandersscientific.com and Bram Desmet is the President and CEO of Flanders Scientific. Bram, as always, a delight. Thanks for joining us today.
Bram Desmet: No problem. Thank you.
Larry Jordan: Randi Altman is the Editor-in-Chief of PostPerspective.com. She’s been writing about our industry for more than 20 years; she’s an expert on what’s happening in post-production and, best of all, she’s a good friend of The Buzz. Hello Randi, welcome back.
Randi Altman: Thanks Larry, good to be back.
Larry Jordan: It has been a while since I’ve heard your voice and I’ve been looking forward to our conversation.
Randi Altman: Same here.
Larry Jordan: This is the time of year where we take a look back at the trends of 2016 and try to make sense of it all. What’s your take?
Randi Altman: You and I have had some debates, over the past year and a half, about virtual reality and where it’s going; and will it be a fad? Is it like stereo 3D? I’m here to talk a little bit about that; because I think it’s important. Well, I think it’s given our industry a nice kick in the butt, in some respects; I think that it’s gotten some traditional 2D production and post-production companies a new avenue toward revenue. I don’t know if anyone’s making a ton of money with it yet, but I think that, that’s going to happen; I do. I think, virtual reality and 360 video and augmented reality are going to happen. Now I’m assuming you have some questions for me relating to that.
Larry Jordan: Yes, a couple of things. There’s no doubt the industry is always looking for the next big thing. A few years ago it was stereoscopic 3D; then it was virtual reality; and goodness knows what it will be in 2017. From the industry’s point of view, I think VR fulfils the need of, here’s something new we need to develop equipment and software for. But recent reports in the retail industry are showing that, people are not buying VR headsets; that the consumer uptake tends to be much slower and everybody’s missing projections. I’m just curious if this indicates that this is more of a fad than a long-term trend?
Randi Altman: I still don’t’ think so and believe me, I am not optimistic in any other way, in any other part of my life. But I am fairly optimistic that this is going to be something. Whether or not it’s going to be from a narrative perspective in the media and entertainment industry; or if companies will be making their money off of media and entertainment and then making experiences for, let’s say, medical or training, or therapies; like there’s a Professor at USC, who is working with veterans who have PTSD. It might be that the entertainment industry leads us to these other kind of really great things; which also need experienced production and post-production people to be working on them.
Larry Jordan: You know, I think you may have hit on it. I think that, if we focus on VR solely in terms of narrative storytelling, I don’t think it’s going to be successful. But if we look at it as immersive experiences, whether it’s games; or museums; or education; or training; or, as you were talking about, medical imaging, there I think there’s some real benefits. It may be that this becomes a popular niche product. There are some really large niches, which is medicine and games.
Randi Altman: Well it’s true, but I also think there’s just some confusion. I wanted to buy one for my son, because I thought he would just love to be immersed in a different world; like we all would, I guess. But I don’t know which one is right. Like, we don’t have a Samsung phone; I don’t know which ones are… the ones that are probably all immersive are way too expensive; so right now it’s sort of like, do you want to invest in something that’s 300 bucks that might not be suitable in six months from now? That’s why I held back and didn’t do anything. It’s sort of a new frontier and we’ve used that term before, relating to it. But I think we’re still sort of mashing it out.
Larry Jordan: You’re right. The more you play with it and discover what it can do and what it can’t, the more valuable you become.
Randi Altman: Absolutely and companies and studios that are jumping into VR are being careful to offer more traditional experiences as well; because they know, if they put all their egg in that basket, that it’s going to be an issue. You know, they don’t have complete rose-colored glasses on.
Larry Jordan: Well it’s good that they’re not complete rose-colored glasses. In the time we’ve got left, anything else catch your mind over the last year?
Randi Altman: Just the trend continuing of people being asked to do more than their job title says and, while some of that might have to do with budgets, I also think that the artists are embracing the opportunity to try new things and be more creative; in ways that maybe they hadn’t been allowed to be creative before. That’s moving ahead.
Larry Jordan: I think that’s a positive trend, in terms of people breaking out of restrictive boxes. I just wish that there had been a way to stop the budget collapse; where people are asked to do more for less money and working harder and getting less for it. That’s a trend that still bothers me for the last year.
Randi Altman: Rightfully so; absolutely.
Larry Jordan: Randi, not only is it a delight talking to you, but you’re giving us a jump on our year-end review. Next week we’ve assembled more of The Buzz, to take a look back at 2016. You just got the opportunity to go first. For people that want more information, where can they go on the web to learn more about what you’re writing?
Randi Altman: They should go to PostPerspective.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, PostPerspective.com. Randi Altman is the Editor-in-Chief of PostPerspective.com. Randi, it is always a treat. Thanks for joining us today.
Randi Altman: Thanks Larry; Happy Holidays.
Larry Jordan: Randi got us started; so next week we continue our look back at 2016, with our Buzz team and some other experts. We’ll be talking with Larry O’Connor from OWC; as always, James DeRuvo, with DoddleNEWS. Michele Yamazaki with Tool Farm; Michael Kammes from Key Code media; and Jonathan Handle will take a look back, not at tech, but at the past year in the industry. By the way, we’ve got an entire show dedicated to music on January 12th.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests this week, Joel Lipton, the freelance photographer; Jourdan Aldredge from Premium Beat; Scott Freiman from Qwire; Bram Desmet from Flanders Scientific; Randi Altman from PostPerspective.com and James DeRuvo with doddlenews.com. 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 on line and all available to you today. 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.
Larry Jordan: Our music is composed by Nathan Dugi-Turner, with additional music provided by smartsound.com. Text transcripts are provided by Take 1 Transcription. Visit take1.tv to learn how they can help you. Our Producer is Debbie Price; my name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to the Digital Production Buzz.