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Transcript: Digital Production Buzz – May 11, 2017

HOST
Larry Jordan

GUESTS
Ned Soltz, Contributing Editor, Red Shark News, Ned Soltz Inc.
Philip Hodgetts, President, Lumberjack System
Michele Yamazaki, VP Marketing, Toolfarm
Michael Kammes, Director of Technology, Key Code Media
Gary Watson, Co-Founder and VP of Technical Engagement, Nexsan
James DeRuvo, Film and Technology Reporter, DoddleNEWS

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Larry Jordan: Tonight on The Buzz we talk with our regulars to determine the meaning of this year’s NAB show.  We start with Ned Soltz, contributing editor to Red Shark News.  Ned is legendary for his encyclopedic knowledge of production technology, so he gets to go first as we ask, “What were the highlights and what were the trends for you at this year’s NAB?”

Larry Jordan:   We talk with Michele Yamazaki, the VP of marketing for ToolFarm.  She’s an expert in plug-ins for post production.  She has an entirely different opinion on this year’s NAB which she shares with us tonight.

Larry Jordan:  Michael Kammes, the director of technology for Key Code Media disagrees with both Michele and Ned as you’ll discover tonight.

Larry Jordan:  We shift gears to cover a new storage product from Nexsan.  Gary Watson, co-founder and VP of technical engagement joins us to explain how their shared storage systems are changing.

Larry Jordan:  Philip Hodgetts, the CEO of Intelligent Assistance and well known technologist, thinks, well Philip thinks the key to NAB wasn’t media, but services as he explains tonight.

Larry Jordan:  All this, plus James DeRuvo with our weekly DoddleNEWS update.  The Buzz starts now.

Announcer:  Since the dawn of digital filmmaking – authoritative – one show serves a worldwide network of media professionals – current – uniting industry experts – production – filmmakers – post production – and content creators around the planet – distribution.  From the media capital of the world in Los Angeles, California, the Digital Production Buzz goes live now.

Larry Jordan:  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.

Larry Jordan:  Hi, my name is Larry Jordan.  For the last few weeks, we’ve been covering many of the new announcements made during or around the annual NAB show.  Tonight, we want to do something different, we want to figure out what they all mean.  Now clearly, every company wants to announce something new to generate excitement for both its current users as well as hopefully create new ones.  But at the same time, NAB serves as an excellent spotting system for trends in our industry, trends that will reverberate over the next 12 months.  What were the hot topics this year?  Is momentum building behind a particular technology, or is interest fragmenting?  Most importantly, what technologies do we, as media creators, need to pay attention to, and potentially purchase?  Tonight our crew of experts is going to read the tea leaves and help us make sense of the media industry in 2017.

Larry Jordan:  By the way, I want to invite you to subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com.  Every issue, every week gives you an inside look at The Buzz, quick links to the different segments on the show, and curated articles of special interest to filmmakers.  Best of all, every issue is free and comes out on Friday.

Larry Jordan:  And now it’s time for a DoddleNEWS update with James DeRuvo.  Hello James.

James DeRuvo:  Hello Larry, happy Thursday.

Larry Jordan:  And a very happy Thursday to you too, and not only that, tomorrow is Friday.

James DeRuvo:  Yes, the end the week.

Larry Jordan:  I don’t know how that happens.  It happens every week just like that.

James DeRuvo:  Isn’t it annoying?

Larry Jordan: What have you got for us?

James DeRuvo:  Well not only is it happy Thursday but RED was celebrating yesterday a decade with the Mysterium RED ONE sensor.

Larry Jordan:  Hard to believe.

James DeRuvo:  Jarred Land took to Facebook yesterday and talked about how they had taken a whole bunch of Mysterium sensors and they stuck them in a time box for ten years, and what they did was they pulled them out and they created these really super cool plaques for every single employee who has been around since the original Mysterium sensor.  The Mysterium sensor was really groundbreaking because it offered 4K in 2017 when nobody else was doing it, and not only that, people could record at 60 frames per second, and then it went up from there with the Mysterium X that came on right after that, then we went to the EPIC, the DRAGON and now we’re at the WEAPON shooting 8K and the rest is history.  The very first film to use the Mysterium X sensor was Peter Jackson’s World War One short film, ‘Crossing the Line’ and it was so popular that directors like Steven Soderbergh went to digital and never looked back.

Larry Jordan:  That’s pretty amazing.

James DeRuvo:  Land also hinted that we may hear of a new sensor later this year.  He intimated later this year we will be reminded how important the sensor is to the camera.  So my question is, what is RED planning?  We have no idea, but you know what?  They live over the horizon so it could be anybody’s guess.

Larry Jordan:  Well, RED has always and consistently surprised us through the years, so I’m looking forward to seeing what their new announcements are.  What other news do we have this week?

James DeRuvo:  Speaking of new announcements, we may actually get a couple of new Canon cameras this summer, maybe even at Cine Gear. First off, there’s a rumor that Canon may introduce a 4K Canon 6D Mark II in July.  Possibly at Cine Gear which will likely sport Canon’s DIGIC 7 sensor for shooting in 4K, and C-Log may also be in the mix.  Then later this year, Canon may also replace the entry level Cinema C100 Mark II with a C200 which will record in 4K and up to 60 frames per second.  Or it may just record 1080p at up to 120 frames per second.  It’s kind of hard to tell reading the tea leaves with Canon because they’re very conservative and the steps that they take on the upgrade path, so it’s likely it’ll be an incremental update that doesn’t impact the higher level models.  But, Canon’s been rumored to be developing the C200 since 2014, so this is a rumor that refuses to die Larry.

Larry Jordan:  So let me make sure I got the numbers right.  We’ve got 4K on the 6K Mark II, in the seventh month right?

James DeRuvo:  Yes.  4K on the 6D Mark II, in the seventh month.  Then later this year, the rumor is a Cinema EOS E200 which will record in 4K.

Larry Jordan:  I’ve got it all now.  So before we run out of time, because we’re talking NAB this year, what were the highlights of the show for you?

James DeRuvo:  What’s interesting about NAB is that trends over the last few years have been kind of all over the place.  2015 was very drone centric.  Last year, everybody was talking about virtual reality.  This year it was all about live streaming via Facebook and YouTube.  So no one category has ever dominated NAB for long.  But the interesting thing about live streaming is that it can use elements from all three, from VR to live broadcasting via drone, to just being able to periscope on a single mobile device.  Live streaming is all the rage, and it’s here to stay Larry.

Larry Jordan:  For people that want more information, not only about live streaming which, by the way, we’re covering on our June 8th show, where can they can go on the web?

James DeRuvo:  All these stories and more can be found at Doddlenews.com.

Larry Jordan:  James DeRuvo is the senior writer for DoddleNEWS and joins us every week with the DoddleNEWS update.  James, thank you so much.

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:  Ned Soltz is an author, editor, educator, and consultant on all things related to digital video.  He’s also a contributing editor for Creative Planet, and Red Shark News.  Best of all, he’s a regular here on the Buzz.  Hello Ned, welcome back.

Ned Soltz:  Hello Larry, and good to be back and good evening to all of our listeners.

Larry Jordan:  We are delighted to be able to start out show covering NAB with you because if anybody has seen every single booth in every single hall, and talked to every single engineer, it would be you.

Ned Soltz:  It wasn’t quite every single hall, but I did discover that the health app on your iPhone logs paces even when the application isn’t launched, and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, the first three days of NAB, I logged 17,500 steps each day, which per the GPS is about six miles per day, and didn’t even get to all of NAB, so yes, I’ve covered a few halls this trip.

Larry Jordan:  Now that you’ve covered six miles every day over the four shows of NAB, what were the highlights, and what were the trends for you at this year’s show?

Ned Soltz:  The highlight of course these days of any NAB show is what Blackmagic Design is going to introduce.  This year they circumvented things a bit by having some major product announcements and product shipping before NAB, so we were wondering what they would do to spice up NAB and they led right off with DaVinci Resolve 14.  Skipping DaVinci Resolve 13 you would expect that we are so high tech, and so beyond any kind of superstition, but no, somebody did not want there to be a DaVinci Resolve 13 so we’re right to 14, and the public beta of that even available the same day as NAB.

Ned Soltz:   There are some remarkable inclusions in that, particularly the inclusion of Fairlight.  Blackmagic had just bought Fairlight, a major audio workstation developer some six months before, and within six months they’ve managed to integrate Fairlight audio technology into Resolve.  So this becomes more and more an editor, an audio workshop and of course, a color corrector.  It was really pretty amazing, and I’ve been playing with the beta and I think it’s going to go a long way to being that all in one solution that many of us have been looking for for years.

Larry Jordan:  One of the questions that I talked about with Dan May when we interviewed him at the Buzz at NAB, was whether or not they were putting so many features in DaVinci Resolve that it’s becoming like a kitchen sink application.  His comment was, that each one of the modules is essentially stand alone.  It’s integrated in the application, but when you’re not in the color module or the editing module, it’s turned off and you don’t see any of the interface.  So it sounds like they’re very sensitive to that kitchen sink.

Ned Soltz:  They’re very sensitive to that because I asked Dan the same question in a private interview at NAB, phrasing it as my concerns over application bloat.  He said the same thing, they’re very sensitive to that, and the fact is that the audio module is turned off when you’re in editing or color, and the same thing applies when you’re in color, those other modules are turned off.  So you’re not hogging resources and quite the contrary.  They’ve actually sped up the application so it’s running significantly faster.  There’s some very interesting coding going on under the dash.

Larry Jordan:  What’s your take on HDR, what’s happening there?

Ned Soltz:   HDR is on the way.  We have all of these competing standards and we have a tremendous lack of knowledge about what it actually is.  In reality, we’ve been shooting a higher dynamic range ever since we’ve had this new generation of large sensor cameras where we’re shooting 12 stops or 14 stops or 15 stops or whatever the manufacturer’s specification is.  Now that’s just being translated into delivery and display technology and this HDR incorporates not just the dynamic range of a camera, but an extremely bright picture of 1,000 nit minimum and a broader color space than your typical traditional Rec. 709 color space.  So we’re in broader color spaces, meaning that we’re going to be shooting for that.  Now delivery is going to be another matter because we’ve got competing standards, Dolby Vision which is proprietary on a chip, HDR10 which is what most of the HDR sets are right now that we’re seeing on the market, because that’s an open source platform.  Then finally, hybrid log gamma, HLG, which we’re seeing now integrated into the Sony FS5 and C150 cameras are going to have that output.

Ned Soltz:  The way we can start monitoring it, at least for acquisition purposes, is through Atomos, the Atomos Inferno, with its HDR capabilities, and Atomos was showing the Atomos Sumo which really is a sumo wrestler type dimension with a 19 inch sealed monitor recorder.  I mean try mounting that on top of your GH5.  But that really is going to serve as a director’s monitor, and also back in the studio, a guide for editing.  Effectively what they’re doing is putting a high dynamic range LUT on that image and you’ll be able to see an approximation of high dynamic range.  Delivery is going to be yet another matter.

Larry Jordan:  Ned, it seems that we’re sort of at a crossroads here, because we have to have standards to get any kind of interoperability between hardware and software, so standards themselves are a good thing.   But ten different standards for HDR strikes me it’s going to hold us back, not move us forward?  What do you think?

Ned Soltz:  I think it’s going to hold us back until something shakes out.  Right now, in terms of marketing of consumer sets, HDR10 has the advantage because it is open source.  There’s no royalties that anybody’s paying to Dolby and as a result, that’s keeping the price point down a bit, but I certainly wouldn’t count Dolby out.  HLG is where we’re going and this hybrid log gamma is where we’re going in terms of our acquisition devices.  So we’re still going to be needing devices that are going to output in that respective gamma range and conversion devices such as what AJA were showing a prototype of, their new conversion device.  AJA by the way, also announced support for Kona cards, for HDR outputs, and just so everybody knows, in the Blackmagic world, the only Blackmagic devices right now that are going to be able to deal with HDR are the Ultra Studio Extreme 4K extreme external boxes.  None of your decklink cards at the moment are going to be able to deal with HDR.

Larry Jordan:  Let’s shift gears and look at a whole bunch of other topics that have come up.  Last year the news was all VR.  We would all be wearing goggles this year, and wandering around in a 3D haze.  How real is VR and augmented reality?

Ned Soltz:  It exists, and there certainly are uses for it, and we were hearing ever since last year’s NAB that we would see scripted production in virtual reality, and I don’t think we’re really seeing anything significant in terms of scripted production.  For gaming, for specialized areas, travel scenarios, I’ve seen it actually used in nursing homes as travel entertainment for residents.  So it’s there and virtual reality’s there, the augmented reality is there.  But I still think it’s for the moment a niche player.

Larry Jordan: How about trends in hardware?

Ned Soltz:  Trends in hardware, IP.  Now again, you may say I’m an individual editor, or I’m a small shop with only a few systems, but ultimately I think we’re going to be looking to be linking our devices over IP rather than traditional SDI coax cable because of the abilities that an IP workflow will have actually to be able to be in California and control your devices on the East Coast.  So I think that whole infrastructure of IP is something that we need to be looking at whether we are small, several unit, several bay shops, all the way up to the Enterprise level.

Larry Jordan:  How about lenses?

Ned Soltz:   We were talking about lenses before NAB, this whole generation of let’s say five to $15,000 lenses.  With the Zeiss, I took a look at the Sigmas and they’re pretty impressive.  So we’ve got lenses that are a level above DSLR lenses.  Lenses that are a level below, in price and somewhat in quality as well.  Traditional cine PL lenses available in E bounce and ES bounce and in some cases micro four-thirds.  So this really takes us to the next level.  I mean, I shouldn’t ignore the Fujinons either, they’re pretty impressive lenses in that price range.

Larry Jordan:  You’ve written that we’re talking to each other differently today.  What does that mean?

Ned Soltz:  Well I think we’re no longer talking to each other in terms of “What camera did you use to shoot this?”  “What NLE did you use to post this?”  I think we’re much more sophisticated now in terms of trying to talk about what is the kind of look that we are seeking to create, and how are we taking these tools and not being religious about our tools if you will, but rather saying that what tools can we employ in order to achieve this result?  So I think the dialogue has switched from specific hardware to specific production needs and production workflows, trends and technologies.

Larry Jordan:  Thinking of workflows we’re going to be talking with Michael Kammes in just another couple of segments, and if anybody loves new workflows it’s got to be Michael.

Ned Soltz:  Oh yes.

Larry Jordan:  So we will just let that rest quietly until we chat with him in a couple of minutes.  In the very few minutes we’ve got left, what new technology caught your eye?  It may not yet be a full product.

Ned Soltz:  Well what’s catching my eye actually are products from Digital Anarchy and CoreMelt that we’ll be seeing in the next few months which are going to be able to take your timeline, in the case of Digital Anarchy this is working in Premiere, with CoreMelt of course Roger works in Final Cut Pro X, and we’re going to be able then to upload our timelines to the virtual transcription services, and within a few minutes get a transcription back at 95 percent accuracy or thereabouts. Be able to use that for titling, you’ll actually be able to use that for editing too, to click on a phrase, and go exactly to that phrase within the timeline.  I think that’s going to be particularly important in interview and documentary work.

Larry Jordan:  Ned, for people that want more information about what you’re writing, where do they go?

Ned Soltz:  They can look at Creativeplanetnetworks.com or www.redsharknews.com and there you will find my writings ad infinitum.

Larry Jordan:  Ned Soltz is the contributing editor for Red Shark News.  Ned, thanks for joining us.  We’ll talk to you soon.

Ned Soltz:  Thank you Larry, take care.

Larry Jordan:  Bye bye.

Larry Jordan:   Michele Yamazaki is the VP of marketing at ToolFarm, a company that specializes in plug-ins and effects for video editors.  Hello Michele, welcome back.

Michele Yamazaki:  Thank you for having me.

Larry Jordan:  Today we’re looking back at NAB to see what trends stand out.  So, what caught your eye at the show?

Michele Yamazaki:  I will be honest that nothing caught my eye.  But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just seems like there wasn’t really anything groundbreaking that I saw, and I should note that I was mainly looking at video post production software, and not much else, because you know that’s our niche.  But it seems like maybe the industry has grown up and we’re leveling off and now they’re refining the existing software and making the features that they already have better.

Larry Jordan:  Was NAB a bust?

Michele Yamazaki:  I don’t think it was a bust.  For us, NAB is always such a great place to connect with all of those people that you talk with online all year, and it’s sort of like a big reunion every year.  For that reason alone it’s so worth going.

Larry Jordan:  Is revising existing technology bad?  Do we have to always reinvent the industry?

Michele Yamazaki:  No, I think it’s actually a good thing because they’re making improvements and making things better, and that’s always a good thing.

Larry Jordan:  What are your thoughts about the new cloud based speech to text plug-ins?

Michele Yamazaki: There are a couple, and it’s kind of surprising that this is happening now.  This is technology that’s been around for a while and we sell stuff from other vendors as well, and I’m sure you’re talking about the Digital Anarchy and the CoreMelt tools that have just been announced.  I haven’t tried them so I don’t know how they work better than older technologies.  They may be really great.  I think it’s something that a lot of people can really use, especially if they’re doing documentary work and they’re dealing with tons and tons and tons of footage.  It’s going to be interesting to see where it all goes.

Larry Jordan:  What are your thoughts about upgrades to both Premiere and DaVinci?

Michele Yamazaki:   The Premiere Pro and the whole motion graphics template looks awesome.  I saw in on a couple of sessions at the Adobe booth.  They talked about that with After Effects and Jason Levine.  It was fantastic and I can’t wait to use it.  I actually have a little project but I’m holding off on starting it, but I can’t wait to use that feature.  The Resolve announcement, that’s going to be a big one with the Fairlight audio engine.  Seems like a great improvement.  I wonder why they skipped version 13 though?  We’re wondering if they were superstitious?

Larry Jordan:   There’s two numbers that seem not to work in the industry.  Microsoft discovered this too.  Anything numbered eight doesn’t work, and anything numbered 13 tends to be a problem. So, no-one will admit to superstition, but I have a feeling it’s there.

Michele Yamazaki:   Right.

Larry Jordan:  How important are trade shows today to launching new products?

Michele Yamazaki: I don’t think they’re all that important anymore because everything is on the internet, and so the announcements this year seem like they came early.  The Adobe releases were early, pre NAB and it seems like people or companies are trying to move ahead of the glut of information that comes out around NAB to set their products apart, which makes a lot of sense.  Things are subscription based, so they’re being updated all the time, so companies aren’t waiting for the big event to release their upgrades.  So I don’t think they’re all that important any more.

Larry Jordan:  I can appreciate that.  I was on the media list for NAB and the three days, Saturday, Sunday and Monday before NAB, I was getting 200 press releases a day.  You just can’t keep track of that stuff.

Michele Yamazaki:  No you can’t, so it’s nice that they’re spacing it all around.  I know with our company, NAB is always just huge, and it’s now more for sales than news.

Larry Jordan:   Does this shift in emphasis, there’s nothing new at the show, and we’re not launching new products, does that mean we should stop attending trade shows?

Michele Yamazaki:  I don’t think so because of the social value of it.  For example, the Media Motion Ball had its 20th anniversary this year, and that’s always such an amazing event.  We all keep in touch all year online and then we get to see them, so that’s great.  Then you have events like the supermeet where you can meet with people from the companies.  So that’s still an important aspect of it.

Larry Jordan:  If you were to summarize NAB 2017 in a sentence, what would you say?

Michele Yamazaki:  That’s a tough one, I’ll have to think about that.  Nothing groundbreaking but a lot of fun.

Larry Jordan:  Michele, for people that want to keep track of what you and ToolFarm are up to, where can they go on the web?

Michele Yamazaki:  To toolfarm.com.

Larry Jordan:  That’s toolfarm.com and Michele Yamazaki is the VP of marketing for ToolFarm.  Michele, thanks for joining us today.

Michele Yamazaki:  Thank you so much.

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 with digital media.  He’s also, well he has this strange love of workflows which we forgive him for.  Hello Michael, how are you?

Michael Kammes:   I’m great.  It’s fantastic to hear the smooth dulcet sounds of Larry Jordan.

Larry Jordan:   Yes, well it’s nice that the smooth dulcet tones of Larry Jordan don’t have a cold.  I thought I was going to die at NAB and I managed to survive because now, I get to talk to you.  What were the highlights of the show?

Michael Kammes:  Cloud this, cloud that.  Everything was cloud in south hall, lower and upper.  Everyone was interopping with Microsoft, everyone was interopping with Amazon, and leveraging the AI, the intelligence that these cloud providers have to bolster the feature set of the solutions that the manufacturers in south hall lower and upper were pushing.

Larry Jordan:  What do you mean by AI?

Michael Kammes:  A good question.  So machine learning, artificial intelligence, and I’m not talking Skynet, not talking anything like that, but we’re talking computers who can pick out patterns, and those patterns whether they be speech to text, facial recognition, noticing brand logos and names and we saw a ton of asset management companies taking advantage of this on the back end, saying “Look, you can use our asset management spun up in the cloud, and then leverage these tools within these cloud providers to add more metadata,” as I’m sure Philip will talk about, “to your assets.”

Larry Jordan:  Well one of the things Ned mentioned is that he didn’t see a whole lot of hardware announcements, but did see a lot of workflow, and much more attention being paid to what we’re using the hardware to create.  You notice anything?

Michael Kammes:  Completely.  I think, for years it’s been moving away from custom hardware to generic hardware with custom software.  But one thing Ned did mention that I think we’re a little farther along than he may have made it seem, would be video over IP.  If we look at Grass Valley, at Ross, at NewTec, they’re all developing, or have developed, standards of transmitting video over IP instead of traditional SDI cables.  So we’re a lot farther along than just starting to look at it.

Larry Jordan:  Have they unified around the single standard, or do we have the NewTec standard and a Grass Valley standard?

Michael Kammes:  There’s a lot of different standards, just like HDR and unfortunately SMPTE haven’t finalized their recommendations, and then you have companies like NewTec pushing their own.  So there really isn’t one standard right now unfortunately.

Larry Jordan:  Last year, I almost bought a helicopter.

Michael Kammes:  Really?

Larry Jordan:  Yeah, well I didn’t have the money and I have no place to park it, but it had my name on it.  So what did you see that caught your eye at the show?

Michael Kammes: Well speaking of automobiles, actually I saw one off the show floor.  Lucas Wilson of Supersphere Productions has a partnership with a 2D production broadcast truck.  All outfitted with Blackmagic gear, but what they also do, is shoot 360 and in that 360 broadcast, they superimpose the 2D images.  So if you’re watching a sporting event or a concert, you can have a heads up display almost with stats or facts or other camera angles without taking you out of the 360 experience.

Larry Jordan:  Alright, I’ll get my helicopter, you get your 360 production truck.  Did you sense an overall theme at the show?

Michael Kammes: No, I found that more people, as has been mentioned before, wanted to get news out ahead of time because they realized that they’ll get lost in the white noise.  So I saw a lot of people pushing to get their word out prior to try and garner that kind of press before NAB.

Larry Jordan:  So, what was your feeling, big show or sort of an off year show?

Michael Kammes:  The statistics I read said that we had 103,000 people I think, and 1900 exhibitors.  But the key word that I saw was registered.  It didn’t say how many actually showed up.  So, it seemed a little bit lighter this year, but the numbers say registered were more.

Larry Jordan:  NAB was saying 106,000 the last day of the show.  That was the number they published, so that’s the number that I take away with.  Michael, for people that want more information, where can they go on the web?

Michael Kammes:  Two places, you can go to michaelkammes.com and my web series on technology fivethingsseries.com.

Larry Jordan:  That’s all one word, michaelkammes.com and Michael himself is the voice you’re listening to.  Michael thanks so much for your time.

Michael Kammes:  My pleasure Larry, thank you.

Larry Jordan:  Gary Watson is currently the vice president of technical engagement and the co-founder of Nexsan.  Previously he was the chief technical officer of Nexsan for 13 years.  Hello Gary, welcome.

Gary Watson:  Hello Larry, thanks for having me.

Larry Jordan:  It’s my pleasure.  How would you describe Nexsan?

Gary Watson:  Nexsan is an 18 year old manufacturer of storage hardware.  We’ were one of the pioneers of high density, high capacity storage.  So we’ve been making storage for the media world since about the year 2000.

Larry Jordan:  There’s a lot of storage companies out there.  Why should someone consider using Nexsan?

Gary Watson:  We tend to win on people who are either long term Nexsan customers and are happy with our delivered liability, or they’re new to us and they like our feature set, very differentiated high capacity, very affordable storage.  The media people care a lot about simplicity of use, and they want something that has a high sequential bandwidth.  Is designed to be in a closet as opposed to the data center.

Larry Jordan:  I was spending some time before this interview reading your website, and you stress over and over that your files are designed for the IT professional and yet most small and medium size media companies don’t even have an IT department.  Should they even consider your products, or are they too complex to use?

Gary Watson:  We’ve had success with people at all ends of the spectrum.  Our products are very simple to use, there’s a lot of wizards that help you through the routine configuration process.  We also are a local American company for people to just call us and ask us for advice.  We have a lot of small customers.  We have plenty of customers that are just a single person who needs a few hundred terabytes of data.  We tend to skew to the high capacity point so our customers typically are let’s say 100 terabytes and up. Our biggest customer is somewhere around 100 petabytes.  We certainly have all kinds of different configurations for people from pretty small to pretty gigantic.

Larry Jordan: Thinking of configurations, I want to congratulate you on your new product announcement a couple of days ago.  What did you announce?

Gary Watson:  We announced a major hardware refresh to our Unity platform.  Unity is a system that allows you to scale up.  A single system can go to five petabytes.  It has enormous amounts of collaboration technology built into it and mobile access technology, so you can store your media content in there on the local LAN using the traditional SIS/SNB Nash protocols, or NFS.  So that means your Unix and Mac and Windows people are covered.  But we also have technology which allows you to access files remotely.  If you want people to be able to do that, they could use their IOS, Android, Mac and PC devices to securely access assets from wherever they are in the world, as well as a technology which allows data to be efficiently replicated to other Unity systems in your organization.  Let’s say you had a production house in Los Angeles, a production house in New York.  You could designate file systems that are to be replicated from one to the other, and it will continuously keep them synchronized for you, and it does it in a very WAN efficient way without the use of WAN accelerators or manage file transfer appliances.  Very simple, straightforward.  You just click a few boxes in the UI and it just happens.

Gary Watson:  What’s happening, there’s a transition in the media world where Flash is becoming inexpensive enough to be used for ordinary applications, and so we wanted to make sure we had a full product line available for people who wanted to scale up to petabytes of Flash.

Larry Jordan:  What’s an entry price point?

Gary Watson:  I think we have configurations as low as $30,000 and you can spend millions if you want to.

Larry Jordan:  What do you see as the future of storage?  Where are we headed?

Gary Watson:  It looks like spinning disk is going to be the leader on cost per terabyte for a few more years at least, so we’re currently shipping ten terabyte hard drives, and we’re testing 12 terabyte hard drives.  Bigger ones are coming.  The media cost is about ten times cheaper than Flash.  However, just like with your laptop, sometimes Flash is cheap enough, and it has a lot of advantages that you don’t have to think about, you know, having drop frames because you have too many different people hitting the archive at the same time, you don’t have those issues with Flash.

Gary Watson:  At Nexsan, we don’t take sides in that argument.  We offer both.  And in fact you can even have it mixed.  You can have some pools that are available with Flash, some pools that are available with spinning hard drives in the same system.

Larry Jordan:  For people that want more information about Nexsan, where can they go on the web?

Gary Watson:  It’s just Nexsan.com.

Larry Jordan:  And that website is nexsan.com and Gary Watson is the vice president of technical engagement and the co-founder of Nexsan.  Gary thanks for joining us today.

Gary Watson:  Thank you very much Larry.

Larry Jordan:  I want to introduce you to a new website, Thalo.com.  Thalo 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 Thalo Arts, 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 the 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 Hodgetts is a technologist and the CEO of Intelligent Assistance and Lumberjack System.  Even better, he is a regular here on the Buzz to discuss technology.  Hello Philip, welcome back.

Philip Hodgetts:  Hi Larry, thanks for having me.

Larry Jordan:  It is always a pleasure.  What were the highlights and what were the trends for you at this year’s NAB?

Philip Hodgetts:  Well the highlight I think probably everyone points to is Resolve 14.  I’m not sure whether that’s because they’re very excited about Resolve 14, or because it was a relatively quiet show and there was nothing else to be excited about.  One or the other.  I think it’s a very excellent step forward, I’m not meaning to dismiss Resolve 14 in any way, shape or form.  I think it’s a very smart move by Blackmagic and deserves to be watched very closely.  But I think the things that really impressed me at the show was the stuff that I didn’t get to see, because I wasn’t expecting it to be at the show.  That is Microsoft, Google and Amazon and IBM Watson were all there, showing their cognitive services technologies, and that’s a term that is an umbrella for off the shelf kind of artificial intelligence machine learning tools.  You could go to the trouble of hooking up a learning machine and programming it, well training it yourself, or for those common things that we want to look at like speech detects, key word extraction, sentiment extraction, emotion extraction, visual identification, these very common tasks have already been programmed and trained ready for any one of us to just pick up and use in our application.

Philip Hodgetts:  I heard a rumor that I wasn’t able to confirm and I still can’t track it down, but that Adobe was showing searching in Premiere Pro bins based on visual search technology from IBM Watson.  Now that’s the direction that we’re going to be going into.  This idea that instead of having to put in metadata, key words and all of that, that we will be able to derive this stuff automatically.  So we’ll be able to search for boats in an ocean throughout an entire pool.  Oh and Axle, the digital asset management system incorporated the same technology in their latest version, so you can search through your Axle database before it even gets indexed, searching for the image that you’re looking for, rather than for metadata that you would have to have entered or derived previously.

Larry Jordan:  Michael Kammes mentioned in his segment that it would take you about a minute and a half to mention metadata, and you beat him by five seconds.

Philip Hodgetts:  Yay.  I guess it’s unpredictable in that respect.

Larry Jordan:  One of the things that Michael thought was very interesting, and Ned Soltz mentioned it as well, is the shift away from looking at specific software, and much more looking at cloud based services.  But there’s no standard yet for how this works and both Michael, Ned and Michele for that matter, made mention of the fact that we’re still suffering from a plethora of standards which means that we’re stuck in the water.  What do you think?

Philip Hodgetts:  That’s what I’ve always said about standards.  It’s nice that we have so many of them, and they’re all incompatible, and all unique.  Yes, that is going to be a problem.  Depending on the service that you’re trying to put into the cloud, most of these services tend to be self contained, review and approval, or there are asset management systems in the cloud.  The problem still comes down to actually getting your media into the cloud to do any shared collaborative workflow on the bandwidth that we have in most instances, most locations.

Larry Jordan:  One of the things that I noticed, and you just touched on it, I want to emphasize is, we’re starting to see a greater emphasis on collaboration at the lower cost systems, that the price points are moving down so that they become affordable to smaller and smaller work groups.  Did you notice the same thing?

Philip Hodgetts:  I didn’t per se notice the same thing, but I certainly agree that that’s a trend that’s been going on for my entire career from the fact that when I was starting out, Resolve with less than half the capabilities of the current Resolve was, with hardware, a half million dollar investment.  That that is substantially available for free is absolutely indicative of this trend.  The cameras, I started paying 30, $40,000 AUS for a professional level camera when I first started out.  Some $5,000 cameras now produce images that are eight or ten times the size, 16 times the size, and of much better quality.  This trend is not new. It’s just that as we hit new price points and new performance points, it opens it up to more people, people who would never have been able to afford.  Take transcription.  At transcription at $8 a minute as it was not that long ago, is now down to 50 cents a minute, or $2 a minute at Take 1.  These are services that are a quarter of the cost as they come down, and we see not only more automated services, but services coming on line, we’re down to 25 cents or 20 cents a minute.  The wholesale cost is around two cents a minute, so inevitably the cost of transcription will come down under 20 cents a minute for the raw transcription.  And raw transcription will get better all the time.

Larry Jordan:  What were some of the other trends that caught your attention?  One I remember we were talking about last year is drones.

Philip Hodgetts:  Well, I mean drones were everywhere, and they had their own separate program within the conference itself.  There was a drone group out by that rather wonderful colorful rock stack that’s just outside of Las Vegas.  A great place to do drones.  So yes, drones are everywhere and of course they’re getting smarter.  The software for them makes the ability to create great images from a drone that much more accessible to more people because the software is getting smarter.  I first encountered drones … in 2012 and it was an incredibly manual process to fly one.  Having to change mental space as you turn the drone, suddenly forward is now left, and back is now right because they don’t auto correct.  Modern drones auto correct.  If you want it to go forward, it doesn’t matter which way the drone is pointing, it goes in that same direction.  Software is getting smarter.  You can just spin around and the common things, all in software without having to upscale.  An overall trend that we’re seeing is that more and more people can do more and more things themselves with less of the specialized training that was necessary when we all started in the business.

Larry Jordan:  What else caught your eye?

Philip Hodgetts:  Well as I said, when we did the interview from the show floor, I didn’t spend an enormous amount of time on the show floor.  And so I didn’t see a lot of what was going on there, and frankly I almost think I’m happier to have stayed away from NAB at NAB.  I was locked away, it was a hard life in a 59th floor EMO suite with LumaForge who, as Bob Zellen said in his review of NAB, had come out of nowhere to be a front runner in the shared storage space for Final Cut Pro X and Premiere particularly.  I guess I hung around with that guy so I got their picture …

Larry Jordan:  One of the things that Michael felt and Michele both felt, is that there wasn’t the theme that we’re still struggling to figure out what the next technology was.  It was drones two years ago.  It was virtual reality last year.  Maybe it’s HDR this year.  That there’s a lot of searching to figure out where we’re headed.  Would you agree, disagree or have your own opinion?

Philip Hodgetts:  Well it’s almost the wrong question to ask, because these things are not mutually exclusive.  They might be hot and new one year, and there was certainly a lot of focus on VR still around at NAB this year.  But these things are all happening in parallel.  We’ve gone away from a monolith industry into one that is more like a multi-headed hydra.  We have all sorts of types of production that are valid, all sorts of levels of production that are valid, all sorts of ways of producing material that is valid.  These days of one thing, like M2 or DVCPRO, there’s a technology that takes everybody’s imagination I think are probably gone, because there are just so many technologies to specialize in or to take your imagination.

Larry Jordan:  So now that you’ve told us that you were locked in a hotel suite and speaking to no-one for days at NAB, how would you project the future?  What’s going to be happening over the next six months?  Any takeaways from your point of view that we should pay attention to?

Philip Hodgetts:  Absolutely we will see the cognitive services that I started out in conversation with, starting to appear in products.  Not only my own products, but other people’s products.  When you can have visual search for an API that you don’t have to do any of the heavy lifting, when you have speech detects without having to do any of the heavy lifting, without even having to have a PhD on …, although fortunately we do, then these things become more available to more sorts of applications.  Like having direct visual search in your asset management tool.  I think that these cognitive services although they didn’t get a big play because they’re behind the scenes technology, are going to start appearing all over the place in the next six months and through into the next year.

Larry Jordan:  Philip for people who want to keep track of what you’re thinking and what you’re writing, where can they go on the web?

Philip Hodgetts:  The best place is philiphodgetts.com, that’s my personal blog.  Also professionally, it’s intelligentassistance.com or at lumberjacksystem.com.

Larry Jordan:  Can’t you find a single website and just standardize on that?

Philip Hodgetts:  Well you could go to metadata.guru as well.  If you really want to talk about metadata.  Each of these sites serves their own purposes.  I like to keep them individual and focused.

Larry Jordan:  Philip Hodgetts has never met a website that he doesn’t like.  You can find him at intelligentassistance.com and Philip, I hope you feel better soon, having gone through that myself.  That’s intelligentassistance.com.  Philip Hodgetts is the CEO and Philip, thanks for joining us today.

Philip Hodgetts:  My pleasure Larry, thank you.

Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.

Larry Jordan:  NAB redefines the media industry every year.  As Philip mentioned, I too am struck by how quickly trends are changing.  And I suspect this is because our industry doesn’t quite know what to focus on next.  There seems to be a lot of throwing ideas against the wall to see what sticks.  If technology’s not immediately successful, it gets dropped for the next big thing, and this kind of thinking drives us all nuts, because it makes us want to sit on our wallets while we wait for the industry to sort itself out, especially when it comes to standards.

Larry Jordan:  I’m also struck by the divergence of opinions from our guests this evening.  No two people agreed on what was important.  It may not have been an off year at NAB but it certainly was a confusing one.  I want to thank our guests this week, Ned Soltz from Red Shark News, Michele Yamazaki from ToolFarm, Michael Kammes from Key Code Media, Gary Watson at Nexsan, and Philip Hodgetts of Intelligent Assistance, and as always, James DeRuvo with DoddleNEWS.

Larry Jordan:  Talk with us on Twitter @DPBuZZ and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com.

Larry Jordan:   Our theme music is composed by Nathan Dugi-Turner with additional music provided by Smartsound.com.  Text transcripts are provided by Take1.tv which is Take 1 Transcription.  Visit Take1.tv to learn how they can help you.

Larry Jordan:   Our producer’s 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.

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