Jonathan Handel, Entertainment/Technology Attorney & Labor Reporter, TroyGould and The Hollywood Reporter
Harry Ostaffe, Director, Product Marketing, Control Room solutions, Black Box
Erik Weaver, Luminary of the Future of M & E Storage, HGST, a Western Digital Brand
Alx Klive, Founder/CEO, 360 Designs
Nigel Booth, EVP Business Development and Marketing, IPV
James DeRuvo, Film and Technology Reporter, DoddleNEWS
Larry Jordan: Tonight on The Buzz we are looking at companies and products that we weren’t able to talk to at NAB. We start though with breaking news from Hollywood. In late night negotiations, more reminiscent of a TV movie than real life, the Writers Guild of America and studios agreed upon new contract terms. Tonight, Jonathan Handel brings us up to date on the agreement and what it means for the industry.
Larry Jordan: Erik Weaver is a futurist at HGST, which is a part of Western Digital. Tonight, we have a wide ranging conversation on the future of storage, the cloud and the impact shooting 4K and HDR media is having on storage and asset management.
Larry Jordan: Alx Klive is the CEO of 360 Designs. They create cameras for 360 video capture. Tonight, we look at the future of 360 video and the differences in production between VR and traditional video shoots.
Larry Jordan: Nigel Booth is the executive vice president for IPV. They make mid range media asset management systems. Tonight, he describes what makes his system different from the competition and explains the need for better ways to find your media after it’s been shot.
Larry Jordan: Harry Ostaffe is the director of product marketing for Black Box. As more and more productions move towards live streaming and collaboration, we thought it would be interesting to talk with a company that enables collaboration, communication and control.
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. Last week was pretty amazing. We presented 27 hours of live interviews direct from the NAB trade show floor. We spoke with almost 100 guests and posted all the stories and interviews to our special show page at NABshowbuzz.com. It was a great effort on the part of our entire team. If you haven’t had the time to visit, make a point to listen to some of the interviews. I found all of them interesting because so many of our guests were explaining the leading edge of technology which they were introducing for the first time at NAB. If your time is short just listen to the five highlight shows that we created. These feature the best interviews from our entire time at the show. That website again is NABshowbuzz.com and thanks to everyone that helped put these shows together. It was a tremendous team effort.
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: Now with NAB ending, it’s time for a DoddleNEWS update with a soon to be well rested James DeRuvo. Hello James.
James DeRuvo: Hello Larry, my feet are so sore. 20 miles I put on my feet this year.
Larry Jordan: I tell you, it was an exhausting show. Wonderful, but exhausting.
James DeRuvo: It’s so vast.
Larry Jordan: What were your favorite things from the show?
James DeRuvo: I saw hundreds if not thousands of booths, and putting 20 miles on my feet, and by far, my favorite device at NAB this year was the Sennheiser MK2 waterproof microphone for GoPro.
Larry Jordan: The Sennheiser MK2 waterproof mic for GoPro. I remember you showing me. It was about the size of a raw almond and it was covered in fur.
James DeRuvo: Covered in this kind of polymer plastic fur that had a similar density of the fur on a sea otter. It’s really super dense, really tightly packed, and that tightly packed cover for the microphone is what repels a great deal of the water. Then the microphone itself is based on the technology used for the head mounted microphones on the Broadway stage. It’s just got a rubber membrane over it and those two things, coupled with the attachment to the back of waterproof case, enables it to record underwater, at up to one meter, for up to 30 minutes. But the Sennheiser rep assured me that if you know anything about German engineering, that means that it’s over engineered, which means it could probably last a lot longer. I can’t wait to test it.
James DeRuvo: But you don’t necessarily have to be a water action geek to use it because the MK2 also can take wind noise up to 70 miles an hour and not have it sound like there’s any wind at all. A great device. I can’t wait to play with it.
Larry Jordan: I’m looking forward to the results. What else did you find that you like?
James DeRuvo: There was plenty of other ones, like the SmallHD Fusion HDR Field Monitor. Ultra bright HDR quality with over a billion colors and SmallHD was so confident of this monitor, that they put their booth this year outside in between the central and the south halls, facing into the sun. And you could still see all the colors, you could still see the dynamic range, and you didn’t need a lens hood. It is amazing.
Larry Jordan: What else?
James DeRuvo: Then there was the BoxCast. BoxCast is for live streaming on a shoestring budget. For under $1,000 you can plug in four 4K cameras into this system. It’s about the size of a paperback book, and you can stream at 60 frames per second, and you don’t have to rely on Facebook or YouTube, you just get an embed code, stick it on your website or in your social media, you let BoxCast handle all the back end, and you’ve got live streaming in 4K for under $1,000 at $200 a month. I think this is going to be the way to go for independent filmmakers who want to do live streaming.
Larry Jordan: So if you were to highlight honorable mentions in a short period of time, what would you come up with?
James DeRuvo: SLR Magic has announced a low cost, anamorphic lens adaptor. It’s 1.33×40 anamorphic squeeze creates 2.35:1 aspect ratio when shooting on 16×9 sensors. It was exclusively designed for the 25mm Cine-3 lens or the 50mm Cine lens, using F2.8. Here’s the best part, $499. When you consider that anamorphic lenses are either extremely expensive or difficult to find, a low cost anamorphot adaptor for filmmakers is just what the doctor ordered.
Larry Jordan: What other stories are you following this week?
James DeRuvo: Other stories we’re following this week include Sony saying that 8K is a challenge to create in the micro four-thirds platform. DJI puts a Hasselblad medium format camera on a drone, and NASA launches its third annual short film competition.
Larry Jordan: James, for people that want more information about what’s happening in our industry, where can they 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 a DoddleNEWS update. James, get some rest and thank you so very much.
James DeRuvo: Alright Larry.
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Larry Jordan: Jonathan Handel is an entertainment and technology attorney of counsel at TroyGould in Los Angeles. He’s also the contributing editor on entertainment labor issues for the Hollywood Reporter, and best of all, he’s a regular here on The Buzz. Jonathan, you have been busy this week.
Jonathan Handel: Busy the last four, five or six weeks in fact.
Larry Jordan: It keeps you off the streets and out of trouble.
Jonathan Handel: At least off the street.
Larry Jordan: Jonathan, the recent Writers Guild negotiations had the entire industry on edge. It was like a pot boiler. What’s the story?
Jonathan Handel: Well it was a pot boiler. Your last guest mentioned NASA. I think they were seeing the city boiling from their satellites. Let’s step back a second. As I think we discussed a couple of months ago, the Directors Guild agreement expires June 30th, and they did their deal with a minimum of public notice, months ago. They tend to pre-negotiate their deals and then go into the bargaining session and hammer out the final details. A lot of data and analysts and the whole nine yards.
Jonathan Handel: The Writers Guild does it a little differently. They certainly do analysis, but their feeling is that taking things down to the wire and bringing people to the point where they’ve bitten off their fingernails, is sometimes the most effective way of getting what you want and need. That’s the method they chose. Unlike ten years ago where a strike was telegraphed several years in advance, no-one really saw this coming until about six weeks ago or so when suddenly the pot began to boil as you’d say.
Larry Jordan: It seems like nobody was prepared for a strike. Is that true? Everybody was walking round looking shell shocked.
Jonathan Handel: I think it is a true statement. In fact, even the concept of being prepared for a strike has a limited meaning. The studios ten years ago stockpiled motion picture scripts. There was an uptick in motion picture writing before the strike, and then a downtick afterwards as the backlog was worked off. But you don’t want to make a movie without a writer on tap in real time to make changes, so the idea of stockpiling scripts isn’t as useful. For television, stockpiling reality shows, and doing deals with reality producers, producers in foreign countries using Canadian product, that’s an area where people can insulate themselves a little bit. But the Writers Guild held it close to the vest so that people didn’t see the potential labor disturbance coming and had less opportunity to make that sort of preparation.
Jonathan Handel: I don’t remember exactly when the talks started, about four to six weeks ago, broke off a couple of times. The Writers Guild then went out and got what’s called a strike authorization vote from their membership, and that wasn’t a vote to strike, but it was a vote to authorize the leaders to call a strike in their discretion, if the contract expiration happened, which was Monday night, Tuesday morning early this week, if expiration happened without a new deal in place. They got that authorization with a vote of 96 percent of those voting, and two thirds of the members participated in the vote. Those are high numbers. The strike ten years ago got a 90 percent authorization so they actually had more backing and more solidarity incrementally than that. If you want, we can talk about the issues that were in play and why this was so difficult.
Larry Jordan: Well I think the issues are important because they’re going to be reflected in upcoming negotiations, so summarize the issues.
Jonathan Handel: There were two big issues. One of them is easy to summarize which is that the health plan has been running deficits for the last several years and was predicted to run jaw dropping deficits over the next few years. So the writers wanted an infusion of money into the plan. The next issue is more paradoxical, so that’s a bread a butter issue. But the next issue is that in this era of peak TV, of the number of scripted series having more than doubled in the last six or eight years or so, writers oddly enough were making less. Their incomes had declined in many cases as much as an average of 25 percent according to the Guild. Why is that? Well I asked the question, we know there’s a lot of new series, there’s data and charts on that. But we also know that a lot of these series are shorter than previous network series. Six, eight, ten episodes instead of 22, so I asked “How many episodes get produced in a year?” No-one had asked the question, I managed to find some data and it turns out that the number of series over four years had gone up 50 percent. The number of writers working in television by 20 percent. But the amount of work for them, the number of episodes produced, only went up six percent. So writers get hired by the series, but they get paid by the episode, and that’s the source of that mismatch.
Jonathan Handel: In addition, with shorter series, writers were taking more time to work on each script, so even though they were getting a per episode fee, their compensation on a time basis was being driven down. Then, even with a short series, you’ve got a lot more of the rest of the year that’s vacant. Those writers get held on ice, idle and uncompensated under exclusivity provisions which are okay if you had 22 episodes and you worked maybe 30 odd weeks. You know, there’s less of the year left after 35 weeks or so when you look at vacations and such. But when you work on an eight episode series, and then get held on ice, that’s a real problem.
Jonathan Handel: Those were issues, there were a variety of other issues. Screenwriters’ incomes are down. There are residuals issues. So what did the writers get? They got three percent basic wage increases, same as the Directors Guild. They got increases in residuals for streaming video on demand like Netflix and ad support video on demand, like ad support Hulu. Again, following the Directors Guild deal we understand. On the issue of the health plan they did get an infusion of some extra money, in return for agreeing to some cost saving measures, and on the issue of the short seasons, you’ve got two parts to the issue. They’re getting paid for fewer episodes and they’re getting held for longer periods. They got some relief on both halves of that equation. The screenwriters, their income is down, they did not get relief on that other than the three percent increase in basic wage minimums. So they didn’t score there, and also did not get what they call script parity which would be the idea that no matter what medium and what budget you write a script for, you get paid the same. A one hour script on network, same payment for a one hour script on basic cable. The studios resisted that because it doesn’t fit with the budgetary model.
Larry Jordan: How do you see this playing out as audiences continue to fragment for television, and we’re seeing more and more over the top services like Netflix come in? Are we setting ourselves up for more problems in the future, or are they starting to address this?
Jonathan Handel: Hopefully the structure that they put in place this round, and on the number of episode payments and the structure they put in place three years ago and then extended this round on the hold fees, the idle time, hopefully those mechanisms will be robust enough that as viewing patterns change and series get shorter and so forth, that they will be able to adapt them in the next round and not have as much of a cliffhanger to this. But there’s no doubt that this is an industry where both the upfront compensation models and the residuals models which most strikes by the way have been about residuals, so this one if there had been one, wouldn’t be. But both of those get stressed by technological change, because it changes the budget models, sales models, revenue models, the whole nine yards. The fact of the matter is, as you said, audiences are atomizing, they’re fragmenting. If there had been a strike it would have accelerated that trend, you would have had re-runs and reality and sports and news on the linear channels. That would have driven people off of broadcasting cable and onto digital platforms even further, like Netflix which the sell was really easy. Netflix would say, “Well you never caught Breaking Bad, great series, we have it, why don’t you come watch that instead of re-runs?” So the difficulty’s not going to end, and the business changes on a three to six to nine month basis, but the contracts only get renegotiated every three years.
Jonathan Handel: Up next, the Screen Actors Guild, SAG-AFTRA is negotiating their contract in about ten days. They have some issues with holds and exclusivity themselves. Their pension plan needs an infusion of money. It’s not expected to be nearly as contentious or nerve wracking as the Writers process was.
Larry Jordan: What’s your takeaway from all of this? It seems to me that the Writers Guild surprised everybody with the strength of their position and the virulence with which they advocated it. Are you seeing that this is a harbinger of the future, or was this sort of an outlier?
Jonathan Handel: It’s an interesting thing. The strongest tools a union has are data number one. Number two, the threat of a strike, and number three, an actual strike. But the threat of a strike only works if you occasionally actually do strike, if it’s a credible threat. This is one of those, will this tactic work again three years from now? I don’t know. If they felt it was necessary. I don’t think so because it’s a “Fool me once, fool me twice situation. You made me think you were going to strike last time but you didn’t. I don’t think you’re going to strike this time.” How do you play that? You’re shifting from poker to chess perhaps.
Jonathan Handel: The broader takeaway is that in a country that is overall very anti-union, there are fewer than six percent of private sector jobs are unionized, Hollywood is an outlier in that respect in that Hollywood is, not exclusively but very much a union town. It’s a difficult process, the negotiation process and dealing with these contracts are six, 700 pages each. They’re stuffed with language that’s completely outdated along with language that’s up to the minute when the negotiations happen. But even that language goes stale three years out and needs to be modified. So, to give you a sense of it, the modification documents that say, “Revise paragraph 54A” and this that and the other, those themselves are 50 page, eight and a half by 11 sheets of paper. So it’s an enormous amount of adjustment that has to go on.
Larry Jordan: I can’t think of a better person to watch it than yourself Jonathan. I’ve very much appreciated reading all the articles you’ve written on it. For people that want more information, where can they go on the web to get more details or get the current state of your thinking?
Jonathan Handel: Two places. Thrlabor.com which stands for The Hollywood Reporter labor, and for more about who’s writing this stuff, my website is jhandel.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, jhandel.com and Jonathan Handel is the entertainment labor reporter for The Hollywood Reporter. Jonathan, the only person that can make sense of all this is you, and I’m very grateful for you taking the time to share with us an update on what’s happening with the guilds, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that SAG-AFTRA is not too traumatic.
Jonathan Handel: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: You take care bye bye.
Jonathan Handel: You too, bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Erik Weaver is a specialist, focusing on the intersection of the cloud and the media and entertainment industry. He’s currently running strategy for HGST which is a Western Digital company, and he is a luminary of the future, the first one of these I have ever interviewed. Hello Erik, welcome.
Erik Weaver: Larry, thank you so much, appreciate your time today.
Larry Jordan: What is a luminary of the future? I have to ask.
Erik Weaver: We have some wonderful creative titles, both at G-Tech, another sub-company. They actually get to be like Chief Guardians of the Galaxy and stuff like that. It’s just somebody who gets to go out there and see what actually is going to change the media and entertainment industry, and how that will affect everybody in the normal world.
Larry Jordan: Erik, I hate to break it to you, but HGST is focused on storage. Why are you thinking about the cloud?
Erik Weaver: That’s a good question. What you’re going to see is almost everybody is moving towards cloud based solutions. Why we care about that is because there’s really two different solutions there. There’s cloud and there’s hybrid cloud. Most people who kind of dove head first in the cloud realize that there’s actually a benefit between both worlds, and finding that balance. So, all of these things that we’re building right now, large scale object storage systems, are all S3 compliant and S3’s really the language of the cloud. Then as you begin to need to scale up and out, every cloud that you know will also be an Object storage, which is some of the solutions which we’re building right now.
Larry Jordan: What’s the benefit of Object storage versus how we’ve been storing stuff to hard disks all our life?
Erik Weaver: Your … other tier one style systems typically have a footprint that can only grow so large. Whereas object storage, some of the systems we build, can start at even half a petabyte and grow up to 50 or 100 petabytes. So as you get into these workflows that begin to grow in size and complexity, 4K, 8K, UHD, these new workflows that have all this data that just keeps growing, you’re going to need to be able to cost efficiently store more things. That’s really what Object is about being able to scale up very easily as opposed to a complex brittle infrastructure that will not go beyond a certain point.
Larry Jordan: I think you’re using storage in a very broad context, because you’ve used high speed storage which we would use say for online editing. There’s Nearline storage which I’m not completely clear the definition of, and you’ve also used archiving. All three of those would be considered storage, but not all three of those have the same technical specs.
Erik Weaver: I think you’ve got to be able to get a very good understanding of what are the different tiers of storage we’d need, and what you’re going to best them for. Again, you might have different needs for editing, whereas you’ll have a whole other need for storing or archiving that, or distributing that content. Each one of these has a different flavor or need to it within the pipeline.
Larry Jordan: Why should people be interested in cloud storage when our files as you say are so big and the speed of the last mile, our connection into the internet, is often so extremely slow?
Erik Weaver: Again, I think this goes back to hybrid workflows. Yes, there are some challenges to building purely cloud based workflows. You just absolutely have to figure out how and what works where and when. If you’re dealing with some editing storage, there’s only a couple of programs out there that will allow you to do things like Avid editing in the cloud, whereas, you might want to keep some of those aspects on site, and then simply use a proxy or use storage in the cloud. One structure we’ve seen really work well is something called IOA, interconnected oriented architectures where you centralize your storage at a colocation facility like an Equinix or a One Wilshire and then simply work off the proxy files.
Erik Weaver: I think what you’re going to see a proliferation of is software defined storage. So what you might need when you’re editing, might need really fast nearline or very fast local storage, but as it goes into archive tiers or other tiers, you might need a whole different set of solutions which you’re not quite as willing to spend as much money on. So sometimes when you get into archives, that’s more for a long term, and you want to be able to begin to also figure out what is the metadata associated with the files? How can you retreat and properly find the files themselves? I actually remember a story of one of the major studios in which they had taken a 30 second clip from a helicopter of an action scene. When they went to put it into the film, they couldn’t find it. They had so much content and so many takes and pieces of data, that they couldn’t even find that piece. So they had to file an insurance claim and reshoot the entire scene at a tune of about $130,000.
Larry Jordan: So where does HGST fit into all of this?
Erik Weaver: HGST actually is the world’s largest storage vendor, sorry, Western Digital who owns HGST, as well as G-Tech and SanDisk. So we can pretty much play anywhere in this pipeline. We can do everything from devices that drive themselves and other pieces or components there around storage, platforms where we deliver huge numbers of either flash or spinning disk, and then finally, what we’re really getting to get into and focus on, are systems in which you basically can simply roll in something that has 500 terabytes and moves up to 50 petabytes.
Larry Jordan: NAB just finished. Did you show anything new at NAB we need to pay attention to?
Erik Weaver: The X100 was a wonderful release for us. It’s basically an inner box object storage that you could roll into your facility that represents about 2.4 petabytes starting, and goes up over 50 petabytes.
Larry Jordan: Erik, you did say petabytes. That is a ridiculous amount of storage.
Erik Weaver: What’s really funny about this and people don’t understand is that Hollywood has no choice but go towards HDR or UHD because they can now all shoot it, and the directors and TVs all play it. So now that the directors see it, they’re like “Wow, this is so much more beautiful.” But these files are insanely large. The other thing is figuring out what you keep and what you don’t keep. Eventually, this becomes a real challenge as well because you can’t just package everything up and try and keep it forever. It has a burden that just keeps carrying on. Unlike somewhere you can store it in a thing, and it’s a nice flat rate, it’s easy to understand. Because you have to constantly migrate this data because you have what’s called the digital dilemma, and that says that both the format in which it’s saved goes bad, and also you get bit rot on the device you saved it on. So tape goes bad after about five years, and that’s what people have traditionally done. That’s not going to work anymore.
Erik Weaver: Actually Hollywood last year did something like 16 exobytes of data altogether, and that number is growing greatly. So it is going to continue to skyrocket.
Larry Jordan: Sounds like your job is secure?
Erik Weaver: As long as we’re supplying the cloud, it certainly is.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information, where can they go on the web?
Erik Weaver: Head onto HGST.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s four letters, HGST.com. Erik Weaver is a specialist who focuses on the intersection of the cloud with the media and entertainment industry. Erik, thanks for joining us today.
Erik Weaver: Thank you so much for your time.
Larry Jordan: Alx Klive is the founder and CEO of live VR capture company, 360 Designs. The company has made waves with its innovative 360 camera designs, live VR workflow solutions, and live VR production credits. Hi Alx, welcome.
Alx Klive: Hi Larry, thanks for having me on.
Larry Jordan: It’s my pleasure. How would you describe 360 Designs?
Alx Klive: Well we do three things. We are a live VR production company, I think first and foremost. That certainly was the genesis for the company and why I started the business because of my belief in live VR and its future. And along the way we found that there were no camera solutions for doing live VR that really met our needs and standards, so we developed some cameras and that’s what we’ve become most known for actually, is for our mini EYE professional 360 cameras. Third thing we do, we’ve started producing some content, so we’re working with director Adam Cosco, on very excellent narrative content, and that’s an area we’re interested in too.
Larry Jordan: What makes a 360 camera different from a regular camera?
Alx Klive: Well it provides a fully immersive experience. This is the move from a 60 degree field of views to a 360 view. Fully spherical as well. So that’s the key difference.
Larry Jordan: How is planning a 360 degree shoot different from planning a regular video shoot, or are they essentially the same?
Alx Klive: In many ways actually, we feel they are the same, certainly in terms of framing. In very much the same way as a traditional shoot we can only look in one direction at any one time. There’s this tendency sometimes with 360 video to have things going on in all directions, but to keep looking around is frankly a pain in the neck, so we think very carefully about this center line if that’s what you want to call it. When you’re cutting between angles, between cameras, we always give that a lot of consideration. From a production perspective, there’s quite a lot that’s different in terms of the obvious thing, where do you hide the crew? Where do you hide the lights if you have those, and other equipment? So this is something you certainly have to pan around. Less of an issue with a live VR shoot, but certainly for other kinds of content it can be a challenge.
Larry Jordan: If we’re spending all this time worrying about framing, and we’re not taking advantage of the full 360, why are we in 360 VR in the first place?
Alx Klive: That’s a great question. I think it’s an immersive experience, so the idea that you can look around if you want to, and certainly we see in terms of how people view the content, it’s pretty common that each time you change a shot, people will look around them, but then they’ll focus on the act on the stage in front of them again, which is much like real life. You’re not going to be constantly looking at the crowd behind you.
Larry Jordan: So it sounds like the experiences that seem to work the best are performance related? I’m going to say music concert, but it could be theater or other stuff as well?
Alx Klive: I think there’s a lot of different types of content that work really well. We’re very much focused on the live VR side. In that realm I think sports content is huge. It’s going to become huger. And as you said, music and entertainment type content, wherever you have fans of a band, fans of a football team, that’s where you’re going to see certainly a big take up initially.
Larry Jordan: We were talking with another guest earlier on the show about a new form of VR called volumetric, where instead of the camera’s pointing out, they’re all pointing in. What’s your take on this style?
Alx Klive: Volumentary video, the concept has been around for a while. You can move around within a space. There’s different ways of capturing, it doesn’t have to be outside looking in. But the idea that you have complete six degrees of freedom within a space that’s video, and to move around, this is what it’s referring to. I wonder what the interface for that is going to be. I think history shows that interactive video content, whether it’s you choose the camera angle or possibly having the ability to move anywhere, move yourself as the camera angle, hasn’t generally worked in the past. My own views on that, I think it’s too much work for the viewer. Generally speaking, the reason that television and films have been successful, is it is a passive experience. You sit back, you let it wash over you, you watch television to relax. It’ll be interesting to see how it develops. There’s a lot of great work going into it at the moment. I struggle with whether people are ultimately are going to want it.
Larry Jordan: It is an interesting discussion. In the 360 form, we’re just sort of passive participants in an event, and in the shooting in the volumetric form, it’s like Star Trek’s holodeck where we have to be active participants. Would that be a fair characterization?
Alx Klive: How active you need to be, whether you become part of the content experience, or whether you’re like a ghost, just observing it, I think is very interesting.
Larry Jordan: What did you show at NAB?
Alx Klive: We had a big announcement around our live streaming VR drone which we’ve developed. We’ve been developing for a year. It’s called Flying EYE and it’s a large drone that can stream live, near uncompressed broadcast quality video up to 6K wirelessly to the ground and from there it can go to YouTube or Facebook or a headset near you. We’ve had a fantastic response to it.
Larry Jordan: A 6K live streaming drone? I would say you’d have a fantastic response to that.
Alx Klive: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: In your opinion, and I know that you are on the side that firmly believes in it, what do you see the future of VR and more importantly, 360 VR being? Is it going to be relegated principally to games?
Alx Klive: I think that’s the clear two sides to VR. On the one side you have CG generated VR for want of a better description, and that really encompasses all of games. On the other side you’ve got video based VR, that’s the area we’re involved in. I think that the two are quite different things. I think the game side is pretty clearly going to be huge. On the flip side, I think that certainly live VR as far as video is concerned, is going to be an enormous market. We have predictions of a trillion dollar market in ten years time and this is really based on this idea that live VR, once the quality improves and we’re really at the AM radio stage right now with this, once the quality improves to a level where essentially you don’t see the pixels any more, the quality of the image is stunning and a lot of this comes down to the headset which is the weak link in the chain right now, it becomes like teleportation. When you can bounce around the world to any event or concert or happening of any interest, live at the tap of a headset, I think that’s going to be very compelling, it’s going to be very popular, and I think it’s kind of a given.
Larry Jordan: Alx, where can people go on the web to learn more about you and your company?
Alx Klive: The company name is 360 Designs, you could search for that in your favorite search engine. Our web address is 360designs.io for input, output.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word. The numbers 360designs.io, not .com, and Alx Klive is the founder and CEO of 360 Designs. Alx, thanks for joining us today.
Alx Klive: Thanks for having us Larry.
Larry Jordan: Media asset management is important in any project but often it’s misunderstood or not used. Tonight, we talk with Nigel Booth, executive vice president of business development and marketing for IPV and IPV makes Curator, which is an all in one media management system. Hello Nigel, welcome.
Nigel Booth: Hey Larry, great to meet you.
Larry Jordan: It’s my pleasure because I’m really looking forward to learning more about Curator. How would you describe this product?
Nigel Booth: Curator is a media asset management solution that’s focused primarily around the video content production side of the business, and very much finds its sweet spot in sports, the creative services side and more increasingly, unscripted and reality TV production. And of course, the mainstay of our business, which has historically been broadcast.
Larry Jordan: There’s lots of companies that are offering some form of media asset management, from Axle at the low end to Dalet at the high end. Where in this range does Curator fit?
Nigel Booth: Our main competition would not be at the low, low end, but we would be at the mid end. We often say that part of the beauty of Curator is it’s an extremely flexible solution but of course part of the problem is, it’s an extremely flexible solution. So more recently, we’ve been packaging those same software core services to meet the low to mid end, and the mid to high end, and of course it’s the same services and same software that can scale right the way up to the Enterprise.
Larry Jordan: You’ve talked about a couple of different people that could use it, whether that’s sports or broadcast news. But give me a sense of who a typical customer is and how they use the software.
Nigel Booth: A typical customer for us in the news space would be anybody that’s doing logging and tagging of content. We’ve put a huge emphasis on the tagging of content and we try as much as we can to control or steer the vocabulary that people use because ultimately people need to search for content and find it, and if you can’t search for it and can’t find it, you might as well not own it, and present the user with content that was valid at the time that it was shot. As I say, that plays right the way through to the production space as well.
Larry Jordan: Well one of the things you mentioned also was moving into reality television which is known for its ridiculous shooting ratios. How do you help here?
Nigel Booth: We put a lot of emphasis on the creation of the proxy, and it has to be something that represents the high resolution media in every which way, right the way down to the frame level. Our solutions are very much focused around that proxy workflow so we reduce the amount of high risk storage that people require. We’re able to, even in the context of Premiere, we’re able to stream these live proxies in and out of Premiere, and make those decisions based on the proxy and you can drive two workflows from there. You can either say, “Yes this is good enough, it’s content I’m going to push directly to social media.” So I’m going to take those decisions you’ve made against the proxy and apply them to the high res, which could be located anywhere in the world in the case of some of the cloud deployments, and render in the background those effects that you’ve made against the proxy. This is a fairly unique offering to IPV in terms of the way the integration with Premiere is. So people can work on the proxy, make those decisions, either this is a late breaking story in the context of news, or it’s something I’m just going to push up to social media. I’m going to render that directly without ever having to touch the high res in that instance. Or it’s a high value production and I might want to do some color correction itself. You’ve rough cut these projects together on the proxy, you can then move to a high res suite if that’s available to you and do your work essentially. And then publish directly from within the Premiere UI in this instance.
Larry Jordan: Are you server based or cloud based?
Nigel Booth: We can either offer a hosted service, a SASS, a subscription, an on prem or an off prem model. But more typically what we see today is a hybrid approach. So we might see the proxies that are living in the cloud, and the high res is managed locally. So in the context of clients that we have such as Hurst, which I appreciate is a large production environment, they’re registering content through their 32 different locations throughout the US, the proxies are being created locally and are then able to be shared right the way across the enterprise. So if somebody sees the requirement to use a piece of high res content, we will move it in the background seamlessly. So what they’re not having to do is to send out 32 copies of the high res to every location, filling up their expensive high res storage just in case they might need it. So it brings some real efficiencies there.
Larry Jordan: How is your system priced?
Nigel Booth: In general terms it depends on the number of services, the number of users that need to hook into the system, but we would typically be in and around the 40 to $50,000 mark, as an entry point. But the system does actually scale up to the Enterprise, so typically those projects could be north of a million. As I said, importantly, it’s those same software services that are used for small systems right the way through to the large deployed systems as well.
Larry Jordan: What did you announce at NAB?
Nigel Booth: We announced a number of improved workflows in and around the creative services side. I think uniquely as I just mentioned, we’re able to stream these proxies in and out of tools like Premiere. We showed a deeper integration with Adobe, but in and around the production task and sequence management side of the business, we showed an update to our Premiere integration where we’re able to manage projects and sequences to lock content in and out. So almost think of it as Interplay Lite if you like, but for Premiere.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information, where can they go on the web?
Nigel Booth: They need to look us up at www.ipv.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s ipv.com and Nigel Booth is the executive vice president of business development and marketing for IPV and Nigel, thanks for joining us today.
Nigel Booth: Thank you very much Larry, I’ve enjoyed talking with 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: Harry Ostaffe is the director of product marketing for Black Box, a company that helps customers build, manage, optimize and secure their IT infrastructure. As more and more productions move toward live streaming and collaboration, we thought it would be interesting to talk with a company that enables collaboration, communication and control. Hello Harry, welcome.
Harry Ostaffe: Hi, thank you.
Larry Jordan: How would you describe Black Box as a company?
Harry Ostaffe: Black Box is a broad range supplier of products and services for technology, communications industry, collaboration and IT infrastructure.
Larry Jordan: One of the categories, and I went on your website, you guys cover a huge amount of territory, but one of the areas you work in is media and entertainment, and specifically control rooms. What does control rooms mean to you?
Harry Ostaffe: Controls can be a broad segment across multiple industries, but in particular for us, the type of technology that we provide in the control room are things like video wall processing, and KVM technology, video extension and other types of video processing, multi viewing, desktop optimization technologies for control room operators, as well as remote collaboration and sharing.
Larry Jordan: Now that we’re narrowing it down even further, how would you narrow down your products that relate to media?
Harry Ostaffe: Our primary offering in that space is high performance KVM, and that’s both KVM switching and KVM extension. Our focus is on both live production and post production environments.
Larry Jordan: You use two different terms. KVM switching and KVM extensions. What’s the difference?
Harry Ostaffe: The term KVM stands for keyboard video and mouse, and KVM technology is needed if a user wants to separate the user station from the CPU by more than, say, five meters or so just because there’s inherent distance limitations of video and USB signals. So, if the CPU is put in a secured area, then some sort of extension technology is needed to get from the user to the server. And that extension technology is KVM extension. When you have multiple users, and multiple servers, we can put a switch in the middle so any one of the users can access any one of the servers, and that would be a KVM switching.
Larry Jordan: What kind of distances are you able to achieve with KVM extensions or KVM switching? How far apart can the computers and the monitors be?
Harry Ostaffe: Over calix it could be about 1,000 feet, and over fiber it could be six miles.
Larry Jordan: Oh my goodness. Let’s just take a really simple example. I’ve got a post production edit suite where we want to have very large storage devices and computers which are noisy, controlled from a distance. What do we need to put into the edit suite and what do we need to put in next to the computer? What kind of gear is necessary?
Harry Ostaffe: At each end point, there would be a KVM transmitter at the server, and a KVM receiver at the user station. Typically there would be one receiver per monitor, or there could potentially be a dual head configuration where one receiver would drive two monitors. But sometimes the user stations are multi monitor desktops. There could be three or four monitors, so there might be several receivers at the user station.
Larry Jordan: What is the receiver or the transmitter actually doing? Where does it connect in to the computer, or where do the keyboards connect? Walk me through the hooking up process.
Harry Ostaffe: In the case of a physical server, and we also do connectivity with virtualized servers as well, but for physical servers, the keyboard video and mouse ports that come out the back of the server would connect into the KVM transmitter, and then from there the transmitter would encode the signal, and put it out onto a different type of a medium. So it could be calix cable, it could be fiber cable or it could be Ethernet, depending on which technology is selected. And then the signal would go across the wire, and at the receiver’s station, the receiver would convert it back from either calix, fiber or IP converted back to the keyboard, video and mouse signals. Then those would plug in locally to the keyboard, to the monitor, and to the mouse.
Larry Jordan: I remember KVM units being clunky switches, with only short run cables. How has the technology changed?
Harry Ostaffe: The big change that’s occurred over the years is KVM has changed from analog type circuitry, to digital circuitry. With digital KVM there’s significant advantages, including the much greater distance capabilities, much better signal clarity, and much greater scalability in terms of building out an Enterprise class system. So we’ve worked on projects where there are literally 1,000 end points between the number of servers and users.
Larry Jordan: 1,000 end points? What would be an example of something that’s that big?
Harry Ostaffe: There’s different types of industries where that would be in play. One of the industries is military, and another one is broadcast. There are some very large broadcast operations in the market, and as they build Enterprise level scalability, those broadcasters do connect in a significant number of servers and users.
Larry Jordan: Does your gear work with Macintosh software?
Harry Ostaffe: Our gear is independent of any type of operating system, because you’re connecting it to physical layer, so whether it’s Windows or Apple or Linux or any other type of operating system, since the connectivity is at the port level, it’s independent of the OS.
Larry Jordan: Does this technology make a difference if we’re doing something unusual like color grading or in a color suite where we’ve got different kind of interfaces to work with?
Harry Ostaffe: Absolutely. In fact at NAB we demonstrated KVM extension with a FilmLight color grading station, and color grading can be a much more demanding application when it comes to KVM because there’s typically multiple signals versus the standard keyboard and mouse. So with the demonstration that we had at NAB, there were three USB signals, and three video signals all coming from one server that we were … KVM extension with, and that’s just a little bit more advanced than a typical end user station. So when you do something like that, that colorization station could be connected to one type of software. Today let’s say it could be connected to one server today, or for one project today, and then it could be switched over and connected to a different server for another project tomorrow.
Larry Jordan: Thinking of NAB reminds me that NAB just wrapped up. What were you showing at NAB and tell us more about it?
Harry Ostaffe: We showed several different things at NAB. One of the primary things we demonstrated was high performance KVM where we showed an authentic looking user station that would be used in a live production environment, or in an OBV type of a vehicle where we have a user station with multiple monitors. That user, at that station, could switch to any number of servers that were accessible to them. We also showed, as a variation of that, a KVM over IP platform which we call InvisaPC which not only supports virtual servers, but one thing we do unique in the market, is also we provide access to both physical and virtualized servers. So whereas somebody previously would have had to have KVM for the physical servers, and let’s say zero client type of a solution for the virtualized servers, through one platform we can access both types of infrastructure.
Larry Jordan: How do you deal with high resolution images say 4K or greater?
Harry Ostaffe: 4K images can be switched and extended through our KVM platforms with no problem.
Larry Jordan: You’ve got some amazing gear. I remember when KVM was much more limited than this. You guys have been doing some good work. By the way, I saw a product called Freedom. What is Freedom?
Harry Ostaffe: Freedom is a type of KVM product. It’s more of a desktop product that provides keyboard and mouse switching for a multi monitor desktop. So for example, if you had four monitors on your desktop and wanted one keyboard and mouse, the Freedom switch provides switching capability that as you move your mouse from monitor to monitor, it’s instantaneously switching control from whatever monitor the mouse is showing on, it’s instantly switching to that server that’s attached to that monitor. So it’s a way to build a multi-OS extended desktop where you can have different types of operating systems. But it has the feel, from the user standpoint, as one contiguous system.
Larry Jordan: Are your products scaled and priced for both small production houses as well as Enterprises? Or are you really just targeting the Enterprise market?
Harry Ostaffe: We have a range of different types of KVM platforms. In fact, when it comes to KVM switching systems, we have four different types of platforms and two different types of technology. The different types of technologies are either what’s called direct connect where there’s a centralized switching chassis, but then there’s also IP based. So we have the two platforms of the direct connect, and two platforms that are IP based and within those platforms, we offer a range of scalability from a small work team of up to ten end points, up to unlimited where you can have thousands of end points on one system.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information Harry, where can they go on the web?
Harry Ostaffe: To learn more information, you can go to blackbox.com/broadcast.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, blackbox.com/broadcast, and Harry Ostaffe is the director of product marketing for their control room operations for Black Box. Harry, thanks for joining us today.
Harry Ostaffe: Thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: NAB is such a huge show, it’s impossible to cover all of it. That’s why I’m glad that we could present these interviews tonight. Also a reminder. Be sure to listen to our NAB coverage, or listen to individual interviews of companies that you’re interested in, by visiting NABshowbuzz.com. That’s NABshowbuzz.com. We’ll leave these interviews up for a long time to come, but there’s some really interesting and timely information that I think you would find interesting to listen to, and I encourage you to visit NABshowbuzz.com.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank tonight’s guests, Jonathan Handel, the entertainment labor reporter for the Hollywood Reporter, Erik Weaver, luminary of the future for HGST, Alx Klive, the CEO of 360 Designs, Nigel Booth, executive vice president for business development for IPV, Harry Ostaffe, the director of product marketing for Black Box. And as always, James DeRuvo, the senior writer for DoddleNEWS.
Larry Jordan: There’s a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Here you’ll find thousands of interviews all online, and all available to you today. Talk with us on Twitter @DPBuZZ and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com.
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