Phil Galler, Co-Founder, Lux Machine Consulting
Dan Page, Brand Manager, DiGiGrid
Heath McKnight, Editor-in-Chief, Editor-in-Chief
Michael Kammes, Director of Technology, Key Code Media
Allison O’Keefe, EVP, Managing Director of Research and Strategy, Open Mind Strategy
James DeRuvo, Film and Technology Reporter, DoddleNEWS
Larry Jordan: Tonight on The Buzz, we’ve got a little bit of everything. We start with Philip Galler, the co-founder of Lux Machina. They are the creative minds behind some of the most innovative video walls, projection systems and interactive lighting for on-set productions. Their work appeared in ‘Rogue One,’ and ‘Oblivion’, as well as dozens of award shows, and tonight Philip explains their secrets.
Larry Jordan: Heath McKnight is the editor in chief of DoddleNEWS. Each week we hear news reports from Doddle but the company is much bigger than audio news, as Heath explains this evening.
Larry Jordan: Michael Kammes, the director of technology for Key Code Media takes us behind the scenes of the annual Editors’ Retreat and explains what happened this year.
Larry Jordan: Allison O’Keefe researches consumers each year looking for trends in media. This year’s report contains surprises that you need to know if you plan to sell your projects on the open market.
Larry Jordan: Dan Page is the brand manager for DiGiGrid. They make audio gear which can be networked. Not only does this make collaboration easy, it also simplifies the process of upgrading your audio hardware when a project suddenly expands.
Larry Jordan: All this, plus James DeRuvo with the weekly DoddleNEWS update. The Buzz starts now.
Announcer: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking – authoritative – one show serves a worldwide network of media professionals – current – uniting industry experts: production, filmmakers, post production and content creators around the planet – distribution. From the media capital of the world in Los Angeles, California, The Digital Production Buzz goes live now.
Larry Jordan: Welcome to the Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for the creative content industry, covering media production, post production and marketing around the world. Hi, my name is Larry Jordan.
Larry Jordan: Today, the FCC announced that later this month it will consider a notice of proposed rulemaking that would authorize television broadcasters to deploy on a voluntary basis the next generation IP based, TV broadcasting technology. This new standard, which is called ATSC 3.0 was greeted warmly by many broadcasters. This new ATSC 3.0 next generation TV standard is expected to be a transformative technology for broadcasters, similar to the conversion from SD to HD. It will allow television stations to deliver Ultra HD TV and HDR signals, enhanced audio, hybrid broadband and linear TV experiences, improve emergency alerting, and accessibility features, send video on demand content and even enhanced advertisement targeting to reach specific segments of viewers. The FCC hopes to release this notice later this month. In other words, the new ATSC 3.0 specs allow broadcasters to deliver services similar to existing OTT networks like Amazon and Netflix.
Larry Jordan: Speaking of the news, it’s time for our DoddleNEWS update with James DeRuvo. Hello James.
James DeRuvo: Hello Larry.
Larry Jordan: I’ve got a bit of a cold this week which you’ve probably already gathered, so I’m going to let you do most of the talking. What have we got that’s new?
James DeRuvo: You know the old adage, it’s always better to beg forgiveness than ask permission?
Larry Jordan: Yes.
James DeRuvo: Oculus Rift lost their virtual reality patent infringement case today. The jury awarded ZeniMax Software $500 million including $200 million which must be paid by Oculus Rift founder Palmer Luckey, and CEO Brendan Iribe. The jury found that Oculus was guilty of copyright infringement and false designation, but Oculus managed to avoid the more serious charge of stealing trade secrets. What it means is they’ll be able to continue to sell the Oculus Rift and game sets support the software, but it’s going to cost them to do it.
James DeRuvo: GoPro has officially relaunched their Karma drone. You may remember that they had to recall the drone because of power loss issues.
Larry Jordan: What was the problem?
James DeRuvo: They tracked the problem down to a defective battery latch that would cause the battery to slip out and lose power. So they’re redesigned the latch and now it’s ready to hit the market again, and it’s available right now in three bundles. You can get the all up, everything bundle including a Hero 5 camera for 1099, all the way down to the flight kit for those who already own the Karma Grip for 599.
James DeRuvo: Finally, Screen Gems which is an independent production company whom you may remember from the movies we used to watch in school. They’re actually now starting to shoot all of their features using the Sony A7S mirrorless camera and they got the idea because they were shooting on a horror film in London’s Underground, and they discovered that the A7S has incredible low light performance and can maintain a nimble, yet small footprint and the workflow is very similar to the Sony F55. So they’re going to go all in on mirrorless cameras to make their movies.
Larry Jordan: James, I know you follow a lot of different technology but what is a mirrorless camera?
James DeRuvo: A mirrorless camera doesn’t have a shutter. It basically sends the images light directly, it bounces off a mirror and blasts right onto the sensor. So there is no shutter that opens up and closes to expose the light. It’s all done electronically.
Larry Jordan: So it’s more like a television camera in this regard, because the sensor is always on.
James DeRuvo: Yes.
Larry Jordan: Interesting. What’s your take on the Oculus Rift business? Is this good news, bad news or just news?
James DeRuvo: It’s just news. I mean this is nothing new for Mark Zuckerberg, you know the founder of Facebook who now owns Oculus Rift. He became infamous because he did something very similar when he created Facebook. He got busted for stealing somebody else’s idea and he managed to skirt that by just paying them a lot of money. So it’s a very similar issue and it’s really kind of nothing new. Ideas get copied all the time. You remember the nasty lawsuit that Samsung and Apple went through?
Larry Jordan: Multiple times.
James DeRuvo: Exactly. So ZeniMax which owns ID Software gets $500 million and I’m guessing they’re probably going to get some royalties from every game that gets sold, and Oculus gets to continue on. As far as how good the Rift is, honestly, I think it’s overpriced and I’m not impressed with the resolution. So I think there’s better options out there.
Larry Jordan: Well for people who want more options in finding out what the latest news is, where can they go on the web?
James DeRuvo: All these stories and others, including my review of the GoPro Karma Grip, can be found at Doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo is the senior writer for DoddleNEWS, and James, we’re going to be talking to your boss in just a few minutes in this show. I look forward to talking to Heath later, and you next week. You take care.
James DeRuvo: OK, tell him I said “Hi.”
Larry Jordan: I will do that, take care, bye bye.
James DeRuvo: 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: Philip Galler is a principal in, and co-owner of, Lux Machina, a consulting firm that blends technology and art to connect artists and audiences. They specialize in video playback and lighting for major media projects such as ‘Rogue One,’ ‘Oblivion,’ American Music, Golden Globes, Emmy and Critics Choice Awards. Amazing shows with amazing lights and sets. Hello Philip, welcome.
Philip Galler: Hi, thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: I was just reflecting, Lux Machina is not yet a household name, so how would you describe what you guys do?
Philip Galler: At Lux, we’re a small team of consultancy work to bring cutting edge technology to a large broad audience of entertainment applications, so sometimes this means using LED wall and projection in film in a way that hasn’t been done before, and making it accessible to visual effects artists and producers. Sometimes it means bringing new playback technologies into the live broadcast market and emerging systems that hadn’t been used together before into new solutions that allow our clients, creatives, cinematographers, production designers, new tools, and new ways of solving problems that they didn’t have before.
Larry Jordan: I’ve listened to that, and I still don’t understand what you do, so give me a more specific example.
Philip Galler: We design technically designed systems, so we’re technical creatives, so I would never organically design the art of a set. But I might design how we’re going to integrate video elements into that set be it LED or projection or how we might integrate lighting elements into the set. Or, I’ll give you a good example, we do some theme park work, and in the theme park work we integrate video playback and LED into a storytelling through the use of this new technology. So we’ll take and we’ll pixel map hundreds of universes of LED lights, so that we can animate certain elements on a theme ride. So it’s bringing some very advanced and sort of black magic tools into the general public’s knowledge, and into our creatives’ knowledge so they can utilize those tools as resources where they weren’t able to use them before. Specifically, we mostly focus on video playback, projection and LED integration, lighting integration.
Larry Jordan: Who hires you? Are you hired by the lighting designer, or the show producer, or the set designer? Who’s your client?
Philip Galler: That’s a great question. We work in a wide range of verticals, and I think it varies by vertical who hires us, but oftentimes it’s lighting design, production designer, in the broadcast world. And then sometimes show runners or executive producers. In the film world it’s cinematographers, production designers and more often than not, we are working with visual effects artists because that’s often where the work that we do, meets in their computer world. They do some CGI work that they have to give to us, and we end up doing some work that we have to give to them. So it covers a broad spectrum. We find that we get approached by any number of types of clients in any number of different ways, and we try to adapt to the individual circumstance, and unfortunately there’s no boilerplate answer for who comes to talk to us.
Larry Jordan: You did work for both ‘Rogue One’ and ‘Oblivion.’ Could you describe what you did on either of those films?
Philip Galler: On ‘Oblivion,’ my business partner and I were tasked with developing a projection system so that we could work with this highly complex set which was chrome and all glass. By using projection we were able to envelop the entire surrounding of the set in what appeared to be a very realistic version of a cloud scape. The challenge for us there was, how do you surround what ended up being a 400-foot screen, and how do you design a screen system that will allow you to work within the constraints of, and complexities of, filming a large motion picture? So for ‘Oblivion’ we designed a system that used 20 something projectors to create a completely seamless imagery that we could change at the push of a button.
Philip Galler: For ‘Rogue One,’ we were working on the re-shoots, and brought in the ‘Rogue One’ re-shoots because we do some other work with Lucasfilm and part of the work that we do helps look at how do you utilize LED. So we were brought into the ‘Rogue One’ re-shoots when the original team wasn’t available to develop an LED solution for interactive lighting, which is another thing that we’ve helped push along in the industry along with a handful of other companies, which is utilizing LED as a interactive lighting source for our clients. What that means is, we put an actor, in a ship or on a set, we surround them with a series of lighting fixtures, whether or not they’re LED walls or projectors, and we play back content that makes it appear as if they are actually in a certain location. This creates a much more realistic lighting effect on their face, as well as giving us realistic reflections and more powerful story telling because the actor can respond in the environment when things happen.
Philip Galler: Same with ‘Oblivion.’ I mean, really the sell is that it provides such an immersive environment for the actor that you get such a better performance out of them, in addition to cutting visual effects costs and looking great.
Larry Jordan: So what you’ve done is essentially removed the green screen with actual video projection?
Philip Galler: Correct. We like to say that we’re in camera special effects. It’s in camera visual special effects, and a lot of it is, how do you remove the green screen? You know, as we get into this world where we use CGI to do so much of the work that we do, we were encountering films where there was a lot of green screen fatigue, and even with the best performing actor, their ability to respond to something that wasn’t there is significantly diminished. By restoring some of those elements into the scenes, we’re really able to get a better performance and ultimately, a better looking result. You know, sometimes we do work with a green screen, interactive lighting, there’s blue and green screen around the actor, but because they have this lighting element to respond to that can demonstrate explosions or vehicular crashes or laser blasts, you’re able to extrapolate the world around them in a much more succinct way.
Larry Jordan: Technology and entertainment are constantly evolving. How do you keep up with the latest technology and then modify it so it works with entertainment?
Philip Galler: That’s a really good question. It’s part of our biggest challenge, is how do we keep up? I like to think that partly because of where we are in the industry, in the niche that we’re in, we get access and knowledge of things, ahead of the general public. I think that gives us an edge. People know that we like to use cutting edge stuff, and because of that they tend to share the cutting edge stuff with us. So, more often than not we get to play with a lot of toys. In the last two months we’ve been playing with laser projectors and some small light arc systems for scanning 3D objects. Things that are just becoming prosumer grade or business grade right now, we’ve been playing with for a little while now. But honestly, it’s a lot of research, it’s a lot of exploration of our own. When new things come out, let’s spend some money and get one of them, and play with it and figure out how it worked and how we can incorporate it. And the other part of it is, talking to engineers that we work with to figure out how we can adapt this new stuff into a system that will automatically work with what they’re doing on television and film sets.
Larry Jordan: How do you decide what’s achievable and what’s just not quite ready for prime time yet when you’re dealing so far out on a project?
Philip Galler: That’s interesting. We’re often asked to look at solutions that we think are impossible. Part of the job and part of the thing that we’ve taken on is that we’re going to sort of go to the ends of the earth and look at all the options to see what is possible before we turn back and we say, “Hey, we don’t this is possible.” So I think it becomes a journey of failures in many ways. Not necessarily in a negative sense, but I think we try something and if it doesn’t work, we try something else. You keep trying things in the right vein until you find the one that works, and sometimes you don’t find the one that works because it doesn’t exist yet. But every time you find something that doesn’t work, you found a solution possibly for another project.
Philip Galler: There are times where we have to turn back and tell our clients that, you know, “What you want to do isn’t possible.” We’re working on a project recently where someone wanted to do a cylindrical hologram. The reality is that that technology doesn’t exist yet and the laws of physics cannot be broken in such a way that allowed them to do what they wanted to do and part of dealing with that, and how we’ve addressed it with our clients is that we actually will bring them into wherever we’re demoing or doing the technology and the research, and we will show them why and how it doesn’t work, and what their options are. That’s how we stay ahead of what’s possible, is by trying everything, failing a whole bunch and then hopefully finding a solution. If we don’t find a solution, bringing our client in to discuss with them what their options are.
Larry Jordan: You work with major high budget projects. Are you affordable by independent filmmakers or just major studios?
Philip Galler: We definitely cover the gamut. We’ve worked on a handful of smaller films over the course of the years. In fact, I would say that more often than not, we find that the work that we do suits smaller films better because their visual effects budgets aren’t as large as the larger films. Larger films tend to do this, “We’re going to do really big projection gags because it’s cool.” The smaller films benefit more from interactive lighting gags where maybe they want to do a high end space chase scene. They don’t have the money to bring two gimbals out into Iceland, so they want to simulate what the light might be in Iceland. Well it’s a lot easier to bring LED walls into the studio in Atlanta, than it is to fly anybody anywhere. especially internationally. So we definitely cover the gamut when it goes from independent studios to major motion pictures, even sometimes small one man shops. So it just depends on what the exact job is, but yes, we cover everything.
Larry Jordan: This is so cool. For people that want more information, where can they go on the web to learn more?
Philip Galler: They can go to our website, which is HYPERLINK “http://www.luxmc.com” www.luxmc.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word luxmc.com. Philip Galler is a principal in, and co-owner of Lux Machina. Philip, thanks for joining us today.
Philip Galler: Thank you very much, it was a pleasure.
Larry Jordan: Heath McKnight is the editor in chief of DoddleNEWS. Heath has a long history as an independent filmmaker, a producer, an editor and a teacher. He has produced and or directed over 100 feature and short films, and is also the President of the Palm Beach Film Society. Hello Heath, welcome.
Heath McKnight: Hi Larry.
Larry Jordan: We hear James DeRuvo cover the news on a weekly basis but Doddle is much more than just audio news. How did the company get started?
Heath McKnight: It started many years ago with our original founder. He is a video and film producer, and he would have to go to different locations and he would end up with two or three different directories from the local county or city or even state film office. He said, “There’s got to be an app for that.” You know that old saying? And he discovered there’s not. He said, “Well maybe this is what we need.” We need something that people can pull up where they can search for crew. They can search for equipment or a studio to rent. They can find somebody, a filmmaker, makeup artist, somebody who has a studio, you name it, related to film and video production, they can create a listing. You can contact film offices. If you need to pull permits or if you need help finding locations. For instance, I’m in Florida, but if you hired me to shoot something in North Carolina, I would use the directory to locate crew, etcetera. Plus the app and the directory service also allows producers and directors to create an interactive call sheet which is pretty cool too, so you’re not fumbling and using multiple applications on top of it. It’s really a great way to stay within one area.
Larry Jordan: So when did you branch out into news?
Heath McKnight: They started doing news in about 2011, and they hired me early April 2012, so I’m coming up on five years now. I had a lot of experience writing for different magazines and websites such as Moviemaker, Videomaker, even MacWorld and Digital Media Online Inc. I had also been writing tech reviews for Toptenreviews.com and it was a great fit because I had the filmmaking background, plus being a writer and an editor, pulling together not only the writers we already had, but new writers. We are a little unique, kind of like IndieWire, that we don’t just cover filmmaking news and reviews for camera equipment, but we also even do just movie news, like the geeky stuff. Because a lot of us are just geeks and we love to go to the different sites and see what the new ‘Superman’ movie or the next ‘Avengers’ movie. So we even cover that as well.
Larry Jordan: So where did the name Doddle come from?
Heath McKnight: Well it’s British slang for, if I’m not mistaken, “It’s easy.” I’m sure there’s a little bit more to it, but the goal is that they want to make it as easy as possible to not only find your crew, create your call sheets, locations, and so on, but also get your daily news and reviews. It’s simple, it’s a doddle.
Larry Jordan: What news sources do you use to get your stories?
Heath McKnight: We get a lot of stuff from the major companies, and even the little ones will send us out press releases. We keep our eye on the wires, and specifically on events such as NAB, Comic-Con. If suddenly Apple says, “Hey, we’re having an event,” the iPhone may be techie and it may be more consumer, but people are using those obviously with our app and other apps, plus they’re using them to film, mobile filmmaking with the FiLMiC Pro app. So if there’s even just events, we like to try to get our reporters on it. Other websites that we like to read, major movie news sites like Variety and so on.
Larry Jordan: For people that want to be able to follow what Doddle is doing, where can they go on the web?
Heath McKnight: They can go to doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: Heath McKnight is the editor in chief of DoddleNEWS. Heath, thanks for joining us today.
Heath McKnight: Thank you Larry.
Larry Jordan: In his current role as the director of technology at Key Code Media, Michael Kammes consults on the latest in technology and best practices into the digital media communication space. He also has a habit of attending interesting events and trade shows. Hello Michael, welcome.
Michael Kammes: Hello Larry, I love the sound of your sultry voice tonight.
Larry Jordan: I tell you, if it gets any deeper I’m going to have to rediscover my socks. Oh my goodness.
Michael Kammes: I think we need to get you a saxophone, you can do a little bit of jazz for us.
Larry Jordan: Probably. Don’t make me laugh because I’m going to start to cough. You recently attended the annual Editors Retreat. Tell us about it.
Michael Kammes: Well the Retreat, I think it’s in its 14th or 15th year, and it was held in Nashville, Tennessee this year. Every year it hops around to different places around the US. It’s a gathering of 60 to 70 higher end editors all around the country, and we get together and we not only do peer presentations on technology or editing tips, but we also get to hear from some of the leaders in the industry. This year we were lucky enough to have Dan Lebental who cut ‘Elf,’ and ‘Iron Man 1 and 2,’ and ‘Thor: The Dark World’ and ‘Chips’ which is coming out in theatres and also Steve Audette, who’s been cutting ‘Frontline’ and ‘Nova’ for many years. So we hear from them on different editing tips and the projects they’re working on.
Larry Jordan: Who runs the event? Who’s the host?
Michael Kammes: It’s a good question. FMC you may be familiar with, Future Media Concepts. Ben, the owner there, has put this on for over a decade, and the MC of everything is the legendary Jeff Greenberg.
Larry Jordan: Very true. Jeff I know. What is the purpose of this? Is it to learn technology? Is it to learn the craft? Is it to network? What’s the thrust do you think?
Michael Kammes: It’s mainly on the craft. That’s why Dan and Steve actually looked at cuts that almost everyone did and gave critical feedback. You could have done this better, you could have done this differently, you could have emphasized this point more. You could have waited more on this beat, you know, to punctuate that joke. But it was also how to be a faster creative editor, whether it’s ten different ways to do multicam inside Premiere. Scott Simmons did a lot of stuff on Premiere. We also had Gary Adcock who as you know is very technical, and did a presentation on Aces which isn’t as creative as much as it is finding the right path and the right workflow for the mathematical complications that is color. My favorite one though was Misha Tenenbaum. I think you know who Misha is and he did something called the signal and the noise which was a way of critically looking at film and television to a lesser extent, and being able to not grade the film, but analyze it based on length of shots, color palettes, and have a kind of metrics on how good a film is depending on how many J cuts or how many L cuts and then comparing that to other films done by the same editor or the same director.
Larry Jordan: What was the benefit of the analysis?
Michael Kammes: It could see what worked for directors or for producers or editors. Did more successful films have more J cuts? Did more successful films have more L cuts? Was there more action in the third act? Did that do better in terms of critical acclaim? So, I don’t think the idea was completely fleshed out, but it gave us another way of analyzing films without just calling it art, and it being a day.
Larry Jordan: You’re being a little modest, because you yourself presented at the session. What did you talk about?
Michael Kammes: I did an hour long session on what was called ‘The Tens’ and it was the top ten things you need to upgrade your professional edit bay. Some of those would be a Whisper Rack for example, putting all your loud gear in a Whisper Rack so when the producer and the director come in, you’re not drowning them in white noise from the computer. Things like different human interface units, like Tangent panels. So just things that I’ve found over the past year or so that professional edit base can use to take that next step up.
Larry Jordan: Top ten cool toys is really what it was.
Michael Kammes: Yes, boy toys, yes.
Larry Jordan: Michael, for people that want more about what you’re doing, where can they go on the web?
Michael Kammes: A couple of different places. They can check me out at fivethingsseries.com, Michaelkammes.com or you can check out Editors Retreat online at editorsretreat.com.
Larry Jordan: Michael Kammes himself is the voice you’re listening to. Director of technology at Key Code Media and other places. Michael, thanks for joining us today.
Michael Kammes: Get better Larry.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Allison O’Keefe is a researcher and strategist specializing in media and consumer culture for open mind strategy. Allison consults for major brands on positioning, product development, target definition and marketing. She’s received global recognition for her expertise in the millennial market. Hello Allison, welcome.
Allison O’Keefe: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: What is open minds strategy?
Allison O’Keefe: Open mind strategy is a qualitative and quantitative research and brand strategy company. We work with an array of brands, everybody from packaged goods to retailers, to media, but media is really sort of our accidental sweet spot and we really enjoy talking to consumers about that.
Larry Jordan: Recently you published a paper looking at the top TV trends for 2017. What were some of your key observations?
Allison O’Keefe: One of the things that we’ve noticed lately is how much we’re seeing the past as an antidote to the present coming through in the content they watch. What I mean by that is, if you look at the array of shows that have really been striking a chord with people lately, they’re often set in a different time, whether it’s ‘Stranger Things’ being set in the 80s, or ‘The Americans,’ ‘Red Oaks,’ ‘Westworld,’ across the array of television options both streaming and broadcast. What we’re finding is that part of the connection to this content that’s set in the past is really that we’re living in pretty difficult times at the moment, and people are looking for an escape from the today that they’re living in, and they’re using their content to get that.
Allison O’Keefe: More interestingly, there are some reasons behind that. One of them is that there are a lot of issues on the table today that people are at odds with one another on, and that can be really difficult and upsetting. But when you watch a show that’s set in the 80s, there’s almost a bit of a ‘they didn’t know any better then’ justification that people give to the characters. So if somebody’s trying to figure out an issue, even though the setting might not be that far in the past, it’s just far enough that people give that character license to work it out a little bit more. That’s one of the reasons.
Allison O’Keefe: Another thing is just seeing characters set in a different way from what they’re used to today. So particularly when we talk to millennials, that’s people between the ages of roughly 19 and 35 now, when they were growing up the media around them was very much focused on girls. Millennials were definitely a power girl generation. So guys fell behind, not just in society, and we could do a whole conversation just about that, but even in the media they watched. For guys it was very much about a ‘Jackass’ generation, and kids who just didn’t try very hard and who weren’t supposed to try very hard but still expected to succeed, having fun. Girls in that generation were very driven, and being told “You’re not just as good as boys, you’re probably better.” The media around them was very focused on that, so you saw these power girl images. Whether it was somebody like a Hannah Montana or Katniss Everdeen, and interestingly in this trend of past as an antidote to present you see these shows set in the 80s, it’s OK for the guys to be heroes because in the 80s, the guys were the heroes. So there’s this interesting two trends emerging there. The interest in the past, but also an interest in the resurgence of strong male characters.
Larry Jordan: Every filmmaker wants to feel that their project will be picked up by the networks or a studio. What would your advice be to help a filmmaker develop characters that resonate with audiences today?
Allison O’Keefe: Certainly when things are guided towards the youth generation, they are looking for more about balance in the gender play. They definitely want to see both guys and girls that are hero characters. But here is actually an interesting territory. One of the other themes that we’re seeing this year is really just a need for heroes, and for quite a long time, we were seeing the anti-hero as extremely appealing. Whether that was in a show like ‘Breaking Bad,’ which would be the best example of that. The reason so many of those anti-hero shows were connecting is because times weren’t great, and TV wasn’t a very optimistic place about ten years ago and people were just sick of that. They thought, “This isn’t what it really looks like. Give me some of the dark, some of the seedy.” And the anti-hero really became appealing.
Allison O’Keefe: What we’re seeing now is, while there is still some interest in the anti-heroes, people are really Jonesing for a real hero again. That’s actually because the people that are supposed to be our real heroes in the real world are really letting everybody down. One thing that I think is a really interesting trend that we’ll see emerge is just a desperate need for a true hero character. I think something like that is something that we’re constantly hearing people want, and they want that person they can look up to that can be both relatable and aspirational. We’re short of that in our lives right now and in our media.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information and want to follow what Open Minds is doing, where can they go on the web to learn more?
Allison O’Keefe: Our website is openmindstrategy.com and you can also follow us on Twitter at openmindnyc.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, openmindstrategy.com and Allison O’Keefe is the executive VP of research and strategy for Open Mind Strategy. Allison, thanks for joining us today.
Allison O’Keefe: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: Here’s another website I want to introduce you to. Doddlenews.com. DoddleNEWS gives you a portal into the broadcast, video and film industries. It’s a leading online resource, presenting news, reviews and products for the film and video industry. DoddleNEWS also offers a resource guide and crew management platforms specifically designed for production. These digital call sheets, along with their app, directory and premium listings, provide in depth organizational tools for busy production professionals. 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, 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: Dan Page has more than 20 years experience working in the studio and live audio industry, graduating from the University of Surrey, which is in the UK, with a prestigious Tonmeister degree. He’s spent his career designing and building studios, recording systems, and live touring rigs. Currently he’s the brand manager for DiGiGrid and responsible for its network audio products and solutions. Hello Dan, welcome.
Dan Page: Thank you Larry, good afternoon.
Larry Jordan: Dan, what first got you interested in audio?
Dan Page: I was brought up playing, my mum was very keen on being a bit of a musician, so I’m a classically trained flautist and pianist and I guess I wasn’t quite ready to be a performer myself, so as is the case with lots of people in this industry, we are ex-performers or amateur performers, and it was a way of keeping the involvement with music and audio without actually being the wrong side of the microphone as it were.
Larry Jordan: As long as we’re talking about your early background, what is the Tonmeister degree?
Dan Page: It actually originated in Germany and moved over to the UK some years later, but it is a combination of classical music which is where my playing came from really, and the study of sound. So unlike other courses where they maybe teach you how to use a mixing desk and teach you how the equipment works, we studied electronics and maths and acoustics, all the theory behind what we do as professionals now, and we were left to our own devices to figure out the practical nature of applying that knowledge. So it really was a grounding in everything audio and a Tonmeister is master of sound if you like.
Larry Jordan: Let’s fast forward about 20, 25 years, and now suddenly you’re at DiGiGrid.
Dan Page: I am yes.
Larry Jordan: Except I don’t know what DiGiGrid does. What is DiGiGrid?
Dan Page: We are a little manufacturer making networked audio products. Audio interfaces that connect instead of via USB or via Thunderbolt, we use the Ethernet, the land port on your computer. And we make DSP products that again are network connected. We’re a little brand but striving to do big things.
Larry Jordan: I was looking around the office and audio and audio interfaces are one of the loves of my life, though I do not have your level of technical skill. I’m looking, and I’ve got gear from Alesis and Focusrite and Presonus and Digidesign and Avid and Adderall and Steinberg. Why should I even think about doing DiGiGrid?
Dan Page: It comes down to a couple of things. Our level of interfacing we like to think is high quality. The background of the interface actually comes from DiGiCo, so DiGiCo are the big digital live mixing company and that’s like my parent company. So all the hardware designs, the mike amps, the converters are all drawn from high end touring systems, so the quality is one thing that we really make quite a big play on. But actually the flexibility that audio networking provides, you know, many people in this small interface market have never really thought about expansion or what they’re going to do next beyond their initial requirement of a two by two or a four by four interface. The audio networking side of it, while we’re not trying to be an installation network, on a small eco system level, audio networking provides a whole bunch of functionality which users, we think will find useful.
Larry Jordan: Can I get decent audio quality over Ethernet? Is there the bandwidth to support it?
Dan Page: Absolutely. On our network, similar to Dante and others, it gives us about 500 channels at 48K bandwidth, which we’ve doubled the sample rate, we’ve halved the channel counts, so 250 odd channels at 96K. So there’s always actually a bit of a myth that maybe the Ethernet isn’t as quick as Thunderbolt or other formats available, but the reality is, that audio networking gives us a huge potential channel count.
Larry Jordan: Is audio network the same thing as Dante?
Dan Page: Yes. They’re all different flavors of the same thing and it’s becoming a real popular topic at the moment. We have Motu putting AVB on their interfaces, Dante’s obviously very popular, AES67, Ravenna and SoundGrid being our format. They’re all essentially flavors of the same basic structure, an IP based audio network.
Larry Jordan: As I think about this, if it’s IP based, that means that I could take this and run this into a switch, and I could have essentially distributed audio gear across a network. True?
Dan Page: Absolutely yes. There are some minimum requirements on the switches and some things to consider about bandwidth, but essentially it is using standard off the shelf networking hardware, absolutely.
Larry Jordan: You mentioned before that DiGiCo is your parent company but I also understand Waves was involved. How did this whole merger come about, and what did each company contribute?
Dan Page: Before DiGiGrid’s existence, one of the things that we at DiGiCo acknowledged was the need for plug-in processing, or the implementation of plug-ins on our live mixing consoles. Waves were the obvious partner for two reason. One, they had probably the biggest single library of plug-in choice of any plug-in developer, that’s probably true. But they’d also been working on their own DSP platform, which is where the whole SoundGrid technology came from. They developed this real time DSP engine based on Intel CPUs that gave us real time low latency plug-in processing that was capable of processing hundreds of plug-ins in a very cost effective way. We integrated that into our live mixing platform. Having done that, we all sat around and “Well, actually Waves has this amazing studio base of users. We make great hardware. Maybe there’s some further mileage in developing this relationship.” That’s where this whole DiGiGrid thing really came from. So DiGiCo make the hardware, our mike amps and A to D converters and our boxes, and Waves provide all the network based infrastructure code and the plug-ins and this DSP engine that together make this DiGiGrid platform.
Larry Jordan: When did DiGiGrid first release?
Dan Page: I think we’re now into our third year. So 2014, a few NAMMs ago was when it all kicked off. So we’re three, four years old I suppose.
Larry Jordan: We’ve mentioned the fact that one of the big benefits of IP based audio, the networking that you provide, is that basically gear can be located just about anywhere and accessed over a network. But when should someone consider using a networked interface versus the traditional USB which we all know and love from a variety of vendors?
Dan Page: There’s nothing wrong with the USB model. You could buy a small interface and it has two, four, or eight inputs, eight outputs. If you want to expand it, most of them these days have an ADAC connection so you can buy an ADAC enabled mike pre, eight channels that give you more inputs. But really, for most people, that’s as far as you could ever expand it. The other issue you have is that if you want to start locating gear within a space, whether a studio or a small production facility or a home even, you’re into running lots of analog cabling and unfriendly infrastructure really for a lot of people. You can achieve exactly the same thing, same results and same quality. In our sense, a better quality, but the same quality using standard off the shelf cheap network cabling. So you start with your standard base interface, of our choice, and when you want to expand it, instead of using ADAC you’re going to use off the shelf network hardware, switches and cabling to add interfaces to it. And instead of being limited to adding one extra box through ADAC, actually we have a scalable solution that allows you to add multiple boxes up to 16 in some cases, which allows you to say, “Well look, I need two inputs over in this room for a little vocal booth, or I need some outputs for headphone fees on the studio floor.” It just makes the whole thing easy, convenient to configure, throw together and change actually if you need to change it.
Larry Jordan: As I was looking at your website, it looked like your introductory product, probably the lowest cost, was the headphone amp. The next one up is a two by two or a two by four simple interface. What’s the entry level price to get started with your gear?
Dan Page: The entry level of the Q or the M which are our headphone or little two by two boxes, are around the $450 price upwards, so that’s really the entry point.
Larry Jordan: 450 US?
Dan Page: US yes.
Larry Jordan: They work?
Dan Page: Absolutely. They’re great sounding boxes. If I’m honest about it, they are a premium product. If you look at other two by two interfaces or four by fours or even some of the headphone amps, these are on the upper end of it, and they are premium products. But you get what you pay for. I always make the analogy between cars. You could buy half a dozen cars that get you from A to B, and depending on how you feel about the product, your brand loyalty, your expectation of quality, you will make a purchasing decision based on what you can afford and what you think you’re going to get out of it. And it’s the same here. If you aspire to quality, you can buy a small interface that is great sounding. Our little Ms and Ds, sub $1,000 boxes, sound like $3,000 boxes, because it’s the same pre-amps and the same converters, just scaled down to a smaller level.
Larry Jordan: The average musician, if they compare you with an Adderall or an Alesis, or a Digidesign, if they plug-into each one of these, are they going to be able to hear a difference or is the principal reason for getting your stuff the interconnectivity?
Dan Page: I think it’s a bit of both. I would like to think that people will appreciate the quality and hear the difference. Of course, I have to be a realist and accept that’s maybe not always the case. People don’t have golden ears. But measurably it’s different, and we think the quality sounds great. But more importantly, it opens you up into this expandability, scalability, modularity of the system where you’re not investing in a piece of kit and then when you want something bigger and better, you’re replacing it. Actually what we say is you start with one bit and you can supplement it with something else which is going to expand your system without ruining your initial investment.
Larry Jordan: So where can people go on the web to learn more about you and your products?
Dan Page: The best place is our website which is HYPERLINK “http://www.digigrid.net” www.digigrid.net. All the information’s on there, there are videos, pictures, contact details, where to buy. It’s all there for you see.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, digigrid.net, not .com. Digigrid.net. Dan Page is the brand manager for DiGiGrid. Dan, thanks for joining us today.
Dan Page: Thanks for having me Larry, it’s been a pleasure.
Larry Jordan: We began this evening taking a look at interactive lighting and replacement of green screen with lights that are 400 feet wide, and multiple projectors and wrapped up with interactive audio networked audio and lots of different stuff in between. I love these wide ranging shows to really explore the depth of our industry. And thinking of exploring the industry next week, we’re going to be looking at writers. Nothing happens until we have a script. So we’re going to be talking to writers who write scripts for a wide variety of different genres.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests for this week, Philip Galler from Lux Machina, Heath McKnight from DoddleNEWS, Michael Kammes, Key Code Media, Allison O’Keefe, Open Mind Strategy, Dan Page, DiGiGrid, and of course James DeRuvo with DoddleNEWS.
Larry Jordan: There is a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Here you’ll find thousands of interviews all online, and available to you today. And remember to check out our free weekly show newsletter that comes out every Friday. Talk with us on Twitter @DPBuZZ and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com.
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Larry Jordan: Our producer is Debbie Price. My name is Larry Jordan, and thanks for listening to The Digital Production Buzz.
Larry Jordan: The Digital Production Buzz is copyright 2017 by Thalo LLC.