Tim Feess, Co-Founder, GNARBOX
Bob Dawe, Assistant Professor, Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center and Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine atRush University
Bob Benson, President-Founder, 24 Shots
Erika Nortemann, Vice President, TANDEM Stills and Motion, Inc.
Michael Rubin, Marketing Director, YI Technology
James DeRuvo, Film and Technology Reporter, DoddleNEWS
Larry Jordan: Tonight on The Buzz we are looking at a wide range of inventors and new tools that loosely revolve around production.
Larry Jordan: We start with Tim Feess, he’s the inventor of the Gnarbox, a computer the size of an iPhone 6, that can capture images from professional cameras, organize and edit them then wirelessly send them wherever you want them to go. This small box can replace your laptop on most photo shoots.
Larry Jordan: Next, Bob Benson invented the Silencer Air. This remote controlled wirelessly connected device automates focus pulling for any kind of camera, including drones. Tonight he tells us how this works.
Larry Jordan: Erika Nortemann is the vice president for Tandem Stills + Motion. They provide high quality rights managed images focusing on the outdoors. Tonight she explains why they created their website and how photographers and videographers can use it to make more money from their images.
Larry Jordan: Bob Dawe is using motion capture technology to determine brain health. Specifically he’s using it to determine Alzheimer’s symptoms early. This is a bit off our normal coverage, but he’s doing some really cool research with tools that many of us use every day.
Larry Jordan: Michael Rubin is the director of marketing for YI Technology. They just released a brand new 360 degree camera. We want to talk to Michael about their new technology, along with the new 180 degree video service that YouTube just launched.
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. If tonight’s show has a theme, it would be let’s take a look at what’s new. As you’ll discover in James DeRuvo’s news update, there were a number of new products announced this week from major companies in both hardware and software. Beyond that, however, tonight we look at some smaller companies, folks that are just getting started. In our interviews tonight, you’ll meet a number of people that came up with a better idea, and turned it into a product that we can use in our own projects.
Larry Jordan: Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the impact rapid technological change has on our industry and there are some significant negative effects. But tonight, we celebrate the positive side of change, where someone comes up with a new idea, turns it into a product, and the rest of us go, oh, cool.
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 film makers. Best of all, every issue is free and comes out on Friday.
Larry Jordan: Now it’s time for a DoddleNEWS update, with James DeRuvo. Hello James.
James DeRuvo: Hi Larry.
Larry Jordan: How you doing today and what is the news?
James DeRuvo: Well the big news today was Canon announced finally the second generation 6D platform. The 6D mark II. It’s got a full frame, 26.2 megapixel CMOS sensor with an updated DIGIC 7 processor. All the usual refinements, dual pixel CMOS autofocus, 45 point cross-type autofocus, blah blah blah. But sadly, it still only shoots in 1080p. It is up to 60 frames per second, and Canon is making it increasingly clear that if shooters want to make the move into 4K on the Canon platform, they’re going to have to pay for it by going into the upper level. That’s going to continue to leave many users who are on a limited budget to look elsewhere.
Larry Jordan: First, it’s exciting they announce the new camera, but you’re right. With all the push toward higher resolution, especially with HDR, you’d think they would support 4K?
James DeRuvo: Yes, they do have an HDR mode, so you’ll get a little bit better color gamut, but when you look at what Magic Lantern has done with the 6D, you can actually get 2K video on the mark I 6D, using Magic Lantern. I don’t understand why they’re so conservative with pushing the edge of their own platform, especially when Panasonic and Sony all have 4K cameras that cost less and do more.
Larry Jordan: What else we got?
James DeRuvo: As you know, this week we are at Vidcon which I like to call Comic Con meets NAB with a little bit of Katy Perry thrown in. Vidcon is bigger than ever this year and we were there to cover it. The big story was YouTube is pushing a new alternative to 360 degree video. It’s called VR180. According to YouTube most of their viewers who watch 360 video on YouTube like the immersion but they find keeping up with 360 degree action tedious. So they usually ignore what’s going on behind them. So YouTube has developed this new VR format called VR180 which will reduce the need to keep your head on a swivel, but still get that immersive vibe. The new spec offers viewing of 90 degrees on either side of the field of view, and VR180 cameras are expected to be out by the holiday.
James DeRuvo: YouTube may have a point. When you’re watching VR online, you really don’t want to constantly see what’s going on around you. You just want to see what the action is in front of you. This has always been the flaw of 360 degree video for me in virtual reality and YouTube not only wants to redefine the VR experience, they want to save on that wasted bandwidth showing that no-one is looking at.
Larry Jordan: We’re going to be talking with Michael Rubin whose company has invented a brand new 360 degree camera specifically about this new YouTube announcement, so we’re going to follow up more with that later in the show. What else you got?
James DeRuvo: Well, Avid release updates to Pro Tools today. Joining Media Composer First, Avid this week released the Pro Tools First as a free update. So now you can get a version of Pro Tools for free which will offer all the standard audio editing features, as well as online collaboration. Then, if you want a little bit more, you can go to version 12.8, the paid version, which is now offering native mixing of 3D sound for Dolby Atmos in concert with the Atmos rendering software, you can even plan out where this sound hits in a theater floor plan. That’s really cool. Avid is making the full version more future proof, expanding the mixing options to include Dolby Atmos, but they’re also tossing in that free version to get people interested and get people into it. That is a huge new development. There’s also enhanced re-recording workflow, shared storage features. Let me tell you, it’s making that paid version look very attractive. But if you can’t afford it, that free version is no slouch.
Larry Jordan: It’s a great way to get started with the free version of Pro Tools, and I thought I’d never be able to hear Pro Tools and free in the same sentence.
James DeRuvo: That’s right.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information, where do they go on the web?
James DeRuvo: All these stories and more can be found at Doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: Doddle has got a ton of other news that you want to pay attention to, so be sure to visit the site at Doddlenews.com. James DeRuvo is the senior writer for DoddleNEWS.com, returns with the latest DoddleNEWS update. James, good to hear your voice, we’ll talk to you after the holiday. Have yourself a great weekend.
James DeRuvo: Happy 4th Larry.
Larry Jordan: Take care, Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Here’s another website I want to introduce you to. Doddlenews.com. DoddleNEWS gives you a portal into the 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, film makers and story tellers. From photography to film making, 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: Tim Feess is the co-founder of Gnarbox. He’s responsible for product development and managing the growth of the business as a whole. Hello Tim, welcome.
Tim Feess: Hi Larry, thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: It’s my pleasure. Let’s start with the obvious. What is Gnarbox?
Tim Feess: Gnarbox is effectively a rugged, compact pocket sized computer that’s designed to make it easier to back up, edit and share full resolution media while you’re in the field. It’s inspired by years and years of travel and not having a whole lot of time to come back home, back up, organize and edit all of the content. As a result, oftentimes our Go Pro videos would go unshared. So we began to think about ways we could make it easier for folks to be able to get something out of their videos and their photos. And we found that it really is applicable to DSLR, professional cameras and drones as well. So it’s designed for all of those various capture devices.
Larry Jordan: You define this as a computer which sounds like it’s more than just simply a hard disk?
Tim Feess: That’s definitely the way that we think about it. A lot of people compare our product to say the Western Digital My Passport wireless rugged mobile drive. We see it as a computing system in a hub, more so than a hard drive. It’s got an Intel Quad Core processor. It’s got an onboard GPU as well as customized software that makes it really fast at processing media, not just storing it.
Larry Jordan: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I can shoot pictures on my mobile device, I can look at pictures on my mobile device, I can send them wirelessly anywhere, and depending upon the apps I’ve got, I can edit it. Why is Gnarbox necessary?
Tim Feess: That’s certainly true. If you’re taking photos and videos with your phone, there aren’t as many problems for you. But when you start looking at professional cameras or high end prosumer cameras, that content’s often not accessible on your phone, whether it’s because the interfaces are lacking as in with an SD card or with a USB port, or whether the wifi transfers wirelessly from your camera to your phone are slow, or just because your phone or your iPad doesn’t support that format, we’re here to help you bridge that gap.
Larry Jordan: So this really is not an attachment as much for a mobile device, a cell phone, as it is for a camera which doesn’t have built in wifi capability?
Tim Feess: It certainly is. It’s also considered to be a laptop replacement by a lot of our customers who are travelling with their cameras. They want a hub so that they can download everything, store it safely and edit it in one fluid workflow, maybe across multiple cameras, just in the way they would with their laptop, and that’s what Gnarbox is all about.
Larry Jordan: How does it work?
Tim Feess: When you’re done shooting, you can take the card out of your camera. We’ve got a number of ports on the side of the box, whether you’re using an SD card, a micro SD card, those can be directly plugged in. If you’re using a compact flash or a CFAST XQD card, you can just use a reader via the USB 3 port to plug that in. What you’re going to do is power the box on, you can connect to it with wifi using your cell phone or your tablet, up to four people can connect at the same time, so they can view and interact with their footage, right there on the spot. In the app, everything is automatically organized by date, time and camera using XF metadata, and those shots will be compiled into these thumbnail collections so you can visually swipe through, you can mark favorites, you’re able to import them to the box, and from there, piecing clips together into a timeline by adding music to that, doing some basic color grading and color correction even on full res 4K, 60 frame per second video for example. You can do all of that from our app. When you’re done, you’re able to get a final product exported onto social media, or if you’re in a production scenario getting maybe the day’s selects back to the producer. All those things, depending on who you are, you can connect back to the world when you’re done shooting.
Larry Jordan: Is this principally a device geared toward folks who are posting media to social media? Or is it geared more towards people who are using this as an interim capture device to send back to the studio for additional editing?
Tim Feess: It’s certainly both I would say, and we’re working on features for both of those audiences. It was initially conceived of as a device for social media, that’s because that’s how we thought of it. But as we continue to demo the prototype to various folks, we realized that in the production world, it was just as valuable, like you’re saying, to get something back to the studio. So we’re building in cloud connectivity in a future software update. We have a number of users that are event photographers, or event videographers, that don’t want to have a laptop. Whether it’s something that they’re shooting for Getty Images or for the news media out in a riot or a protest zone. This is a really great way to get your footage off the camera, store it securely, and then get it back using maybe an FTP app on your phone or something of the like. There are a number of different connectivity use cases for those in the production world in addition to the quick social posts that we first envisioned for the product.
Larry Jordan: How big is it, how much does it weigh, and does it require a separate suitcase to carry?
Tim Feess: Absolutely not. It’s about the size of an iPhone 6 but thicker. It weighs just less than one pound, and you can fit it in your pocket. As long as you’re not wearing super tight jeans, you can fit it in your pocket, and you can just throw it in your camera bag as well. A lot of people like to do that. You can connect a hard drive, whether it’s SSD or HDD, pretty much any type of storage that you like to use via the USB 3 port and you can run backups to that when you’re done using the box itself. So when I travel, I’ll take my Go Pro and my RX100, those are my two favorite cameras. I’ll oftentimes shoot a bunch of photos and videos, plug in the SD card. First thing I do actually is back it up to a hard drive plugged in via USB 3, and while that’s happening I’ll work on an edit, and I’ll be done pretty quickly thereafter.
Larry Jordan: Tim, what camera and formats does this device support?
Tim Feess: Gnarbox is built to support any Go Pro, drone, DSLR and mirrorless camera. It also supports a number of other professional formats. In terms of video, anything that’s H.264 encoded, included XAVCS and a number of the other Sony formats will work with it, and it also supports all RAW photo types.
Larry Jordan: How much does it cost?
Tim Feess: It’s 299.
Larry Jordan: Where can we go on the web to learn more about the product?
Tim Feess: You can go to gnarbox.com to learn more about the product. We have live chat and we support our customers and prospective customers pretty much instantly if they have any questions or want to send us sample files to test out. You can buy them on our site, as well as Amazon and B&H.
Larry Jordan: That website is gnarbox.com, and Tim Feess is the co-founder of Gnarbox. Tim thanks for joining us today.
Tim Feess: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: Bob Benson began his career as an engineer. After watching a small film crew struggle to pull focus on digital cameras, Bob came up with a concept of a wireless trigger controlled follow focus. He then founded his new company, 24 Shots. Hello Bob, welcome.
Bob Benson: Thanks Larry, great to be with you.
Larry Jordan: Bob, tell me about this new wireless focus puller. What’s it called and what does it do?
Bob Benson: We came up with the Silencer Air follow focus. We saw how everyone was struggling with pulling their own focus, especially on the newer rigs and gimbals, it’s very difficult to pull focus. So our system incorporates a trigger into the handle, so you can adjust the focus on the fly just by simply moving your finger, which works really well.
Larry Jordan: What makes it so hard to pull focus? I mean, we’ve been focusing cameras since they were invented.
Bob Benson: With the latest invent of the new stabilizers and gimbals where the camera has to free float and move, there’s no way to actually reach in, touch the lens, it throws the whole rig out of whack. So that’s where you need an electronic wireless system that’s lightweight, that’ll easily adapt to a rig like that and doesn’t throw the camera and everything out of balance. That’s where the Silencer stands out.
Larry Jordan: What was it that got you on a film set to begin with to discover this is a problem that needed solving?
Bob Benson: You know, I just was helping out some friends shooting some film, and I said, “Gosh, there’s got to be a better way.” It just seemed like there had to be and within a month or so we decided to do a Kickstarter campaign. We had some great success with that and it was successful. Now we’ve come out with the latest and greatest which is the Silencer Air.
Larry Jordan: What did you learn as you were funding your project on Kickstarter? What were the big lessons you took away from that?
Bob Benson: We actually had a campaign that started originally that failed. That we learned a lot from. We were able to go back and cost reduce even more, get the tooling costs down, get the production costs down, and we were able to put up another campaign and we were able to rally a lot of people, especially in the industry. I wasn’t an industry guy, but we were able to rally a lot of people behind the new campaign, and with the lower costs and really getting that final number down to where people could afford it, especially in the indie market. People are looking for a great product that does the job, at a relatively low cost.
Larry Jordan: How did you rally support? What did you do to get people to pay attention?
Bob Benson: I think again our Facebook, getting out there and just talking with indie film makers. Trying to get into the community. Talk with people, see what they needed, see what their struggles were. We contributed to some film makers projects, pretty much anything to just get out there, get the word out, get some feedback which ultimately we put a ton of their feedback into the initial design, and then four years later we’ve got a ton of great feedback. We were able to leverage the technology and put all their needs, wants and desires into the latest product which is so exciting for us.
Larry Jordan: What’s some of the new features in the latest product? What’s new?
Bob Benson: What’s new is the product uses an app which is our 24 Shots app. Within that app you can save all of your lenses, all the lens profiles, so when you’re switching lenses on set it’s not a major adventure. You put the lens on, you call up the file and it remembers everything to do with that file. You can also save profiles. Let’s say you’ve got a certain type of lens, you want it to always work at this kind of speed, and this kind of trigger sensitivity, you can save all of that. Also you can save up to 20 focus points, so within that app you can save 20 points while you’re on set you can quickly go through the blocking, set all those points, and when it’s ready to go it’s a basic push button, step right through all 20 sequences. Within those 20 you can actually adjust the curve and the motor speed to give it the artistic touch for every single shot, and that’s something that hasn’t been available at all. So that is an aspect we’re so proud of.
Larry Jordan: That’s a ton of new features, congratulations.
Bob Benson: It is.
Larry Jordan: The thing I like is that because it’s wireless you can have that camera flying all over everywhere, and still be able to hit the focus points you need. That’s a huge benefit I hadn’t considered before.
Bob Benson: It’s absolutely huge and one other aspect is, we have a drone mode, so you can actually mount this onto your drone and control your focus directly from your radio control, which is again, for the price point, you’ve got a wide variety of uses for the product and we think it’s just great. We’re excited.
Larry Jordan: How much does the product cost?
Bob Benson: The standard product is 875, and we do have an upgrade where if you’ve got a cine lens or if you’re using a gear drive lens, that would be our Pro Gear drive we’d recommend, and that would be an additional 120.
Larry Jordan: So for less than $1000?
Bob Benson: Yes. Absolutely.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information, where do they go on the web?
Bob Benson: If you go to 24shots.com, and check out our Silencer Air.
Larry Jordan: That’s the number two, the number four, 24shots.com and Bob Benson is the founder and CEO of 24 Shots. Bob, thanks for joining us today.
Bob Benson: Great. Thanks for having me Larry, have a great day.
Larry Jordan: Erika Nortemann is a veteran photography industry professional with over a decade of high level management experience. As vice president of Tandem Stills + Motion, she oversees three leading platforms, photography and motion clip licensing, digital asset management and original content production. Hello Erika, welcome.
Erika Nortemann: Hello, thank you.
Larry Jordan: Tell me, what is Tandem?
Erika Nortemann: Tandem Stills + Motion, we are a visual media company that represents three very different, and yet cohesive units. So Tandem Stills + Motion represents a stock photography agency, we represent a digital asset management company, and we also represent a motion film production company.
Larry Jordan: We’re going to talk digital asset management in a couple of weeks, so much though I’m fascinated with that subject, we’re going to put that to one side and focus on the photography side. There’s at least 700 million other photography and stock footage sites. Why did Tandem decide to start their own?
Erika Nortemann: That’s a great question. Back in 2010, the CEO and founder, Ian Shive, he was a photographer himself and he was represented by agencies and just thought he could do something a little bit differently. He thought that he could offer photographers better percentages in their sales, and also thought he could get higher rates for them as well as offering, on the flip side, to clients buying images, really offering them a very well curated experience. They know down to the color of the shirt the photographer was wearing on the day they were taking that photo. We maintain that data and we’re able to share that with the client if they need that much. So it’s a really personalized experience. We know all of our clients very well and they’ve been with us from day one.
Larry Jordan: Who is a typical client?
Erika Nortemann: We focus on the outdoor active lifestyle, so a typical client for us could be, or is, Outside magazine, or Sunset magazine, folks who are really focused on getting people out and travelling and enjoying the outdoors and leading healthy lifestyles.
Larry Jordan: Is this more of a photographer management group? Are you managing photographers and assigning them photographs to shoot? Or is this more of a stock house where people just dial in and see what’s there?
Erika Nortemann: It’s both actually. So we represent about 400 photographers who send their work in that they’re shooting on their own, either passion projects or assignments that they are shooting for other clients that they don’t have exclusive rights over. They’ll submit it to us and we’ll get it out there. Folks can come to our site and search the database to find what they’re looking for, but we do assignments as well so some of our long term clients like the Nature Conservancy, they all have a specific project in mind and they’ll come to us and we’ll set them up with a photographer who we think is best able to shoot that assignment.
Larry Jordan: You’ve talked a lot about photographers which I take to mean stills. Where does video fit into this equation?
Erika Nortemann: When Tandem Stills + Motion started, it definitely was marrying photography and video together. What we found is that, the world was ready and eager for the photography side of things, and over the last couple of years, we’re starting to see video play a bigger role in stock licensing as well as in assignments themselves. So we’re finding some of our photographers, they love their still photography and that’s what they’re shooting, but we’re also finding a number of them who are interested in video and telling stories with motion. We’re starting to incorporate the clip licensing aspect to that. That was originally there seven years ago, but we’re incorporating that more and more into our daily sales.
Larry Jordan: Why should a photographer or a videographer for that matter, bring their art to Tandem?
Erika Nortemann: I would say there are probably two good reasons. The first being that we offer rights managed pricing, so they’re going to get more money for an individual sale than they’ll see with royalty free pricing, they’ll see cents on the dollar. Two, we’re a small team but one of the reasons that Ian founded this company is because he wanted it to be a personal experience. So photographers and clients alike, when they pick up the phone and call us, they will be talking to one of a handful of people. We get to know our clients and our photographers. They can ask us questions, and hopefully it feels like a very rewarding mutual partnership. I think it provides a more personal and hopefully a more fun experience. It definitely is more fun for us.
Larry Jordan: Erika, for people that want more information, where do they go on the web?
Erika Nortemann: They can go to tandemstock.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, tandemstock.com and Erika Nortemann is a vice president of Tandem Stills + Motion. Erika, thank you for your time today.
Erika Nortemann: Thank you very much.
Larry Jordan: Michael Rubin has a 20 year background in digital still and motion photography. Currently he is the marketing director for YI Technology. They have a full line of mirrorless action, drone, home and VR cameras. Hello Michael, welcome.
Michael Rubin: Hi Larry, thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: I’ve already described the fact that you make cameras. Is that the entire business for YI? In other words, what does YI do?
Michael Rubin: YI makes all types of cameras. You mentioned the action, the mirrorless, and we have VR of course and the drones, but we also have home cameras as well for security and for monitoring inside the home.
Larry Jordan: One of your new cameras is a VR camera. What got you into 360 degree design?
Michael Rubin: A little over a year and a half ago, Google approached YI’s head designer for at that time, the action cameras, and said “We really want to work on the next generation of cameras.” A lot of effort went into it and we were able to come out with the YI Halo at NAB that has 16 cameras around, and one camera up. It ended up delivering about 8K by 8K stereoscopic 3D VR capture, and it will also do 6K by 6K at 60 frames per second. It’s relatively light, eight pounds, and very portable.
Larry Jordan: How many cameras?
Michael Rubin: 16 around and one up.
Larry Jordan: That’s a ridiculous number of cameras. Why so many?
Michael Rubin: It allows us to get stereoscopic, you obviously need to have at least two lenses capturing. It also gives us overlap which allows for great stitching, and in the event that one of the cameras was to go down, three cameras cover any particular part of the scene, so it can be recovered to some degree at that point.
Larry Jordan: There’s a lot of 360 cameras out there. Why do we choose the Halo, or better yet, how do we pick the best one for our project?
Michael Rubin: That’s a great question. First up, if you’re doing a full immersive planning to produce it maybe in a planetarium or a 360 round theater, certainly you want to be looking at a camera like the Halo. You need the resolution, you need more importantly the stitching too, and that’s where we were able to join up with Google and use the Jump system. Being able to do that just makes it so much easier, you send the data up, it comes back stitched beautifully, it knows which cameras it came from. But then if you’re looking at just capturing everyday 360 around you, or maybe you’re at a concert, we have at the other end, professional quality but really very inexpensive, 399 for the 360 VR. That’s two lenses, you’re able to hold it up or put it on a tripod or a monopod, and that will capture all of the audio around you and will capture video all around 360. It’s not stereoscopic and so that was the first that we’ve announced, and actually, before the show we’ve been talking that we have a new 180 VR announcement as part of the Daydream and YouTube set up and that’s a whole new way to do VR. It’s not really new, but it’s a new approach to it that hasn’t been done for quite a while. So now we’re looking at stereoscopic 180.
Larry Jordan: Last week YouTube announced this new program, as you mentioned, featuring 180 degree video. Yet you just announced a 360 degree camera. Now 180 degree video decreases file size and makes it easier for the viewers to know where to look, but where does your 360 gear fit into YouTube’s 180 new service?
Michael Rubin: Well with the 180 camera which was in development at the same time as the 360, this does give you a new point of view, one that we’re much more familiar with and allows you of course to hide the lighting, hide the crew. So that’s in those choices where you really want to have a planar view and look at things in one direction, 180 is perfect. When it comes to 360, you want to capture the whole event. Maybe it’s a live streaming event, so you want to use our 360 VR, it’s in the head mounted display, and you want to have that full immersed, maybe it’s a documentary inside a building and you want to go through the whole of the building? That’s where 360 and really high resolution 360 comes in.
Larry Jordan: So if you want to show an environment, 360 is probably the best choice? But if you want to tell a story 180 may be better?
Michael Rubin: Absolutely. I think it really depends on the story. I had lunch with a couple of gentlemen who have been shooting 360 VR in the Jump system for the last year or so, and we were talking about how the storytelling business has changed radically, where we always were thinking about maybe forward and maybe we change point of view using the cameras. Where now we have to figure out where the cues are to send somebody to look behind them. So that’s where 360 does become a whole new way of thinking, a new way to make decisions.
Larry Jordan: Well 360 and now 180 video’s been generating a ton of hype. What do you think the actual reality is going to be? What are we going to use it for in two to four years?
Michael Rubin: I think in two to four years, we’re going to have displays that will be just like wearing glasses, that will be very easy. I’m sure you saw at NAB, all these new AR mixed reality glasses, augmented reality glasses are pretty incredible. I think we’re also going to see theaters that can handle a full 360 in the round, and they may be 3D they may not. And I think the head mounted displays, they’re getting much smaller, and they’re becoming self contained. By the end of this year there should be a few, so we’re really at the beginning of it all. But it’s going to be slow at first, and then it’s going to be really fast.
Larry Jordan: We’ll have to see if this ends up skyrocketing the way folks like you expect, or tanking like stereoscopic 3D did and becoming just a very niche product. I’m really curious to see how this plays out and for people that need more information Michael, where do they go on the web?
Michael Rubin: You can go to our website, YItechnology.com.
Larry Jordan: All one word, YItechnology.com and Michael Rubin is the marketing director for YI Technology. Michael, thanks for joining us today.
Michael Rubin: Thank you Larry.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
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, film makers and story tellers. From photography to film making, 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: Robert Dawe is a PhD and an assistant professor of radiology at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago. Recently, they’ve discovered that motion capture technology can help spot symptoms early. Hello Bob, welcome.
Bob Dawe: Hi Larry, thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: You know, I was just remarking, you are the first radiology research person we’ve talked to in the 17 years this show has been on the air, so while your research is way outside what we normally cover on the show, the tools that you’re using and how you’re using them are just really cool. So I’m looking forward to chatting with you and let’s start by, what is it that first got you interested in ageing research?
Bob Dawe: Like many people that I speak to, I have a personal connection to the ageing research. I’ve seen grandparents descend into this heartbreaking world of not quite knowing fully what’s going on, and since I was in high school I knew that I wanted to be some kind of engineer and be able to help people. So biomedical engineer really spoke to me and I fortunately ended up in an area where I can really, I hope, make a difference in people’s lives.
Larry Jordan: More specifically, what are you studying?
Bob Dawe: I consider myself kind of a gadget guy, and that gives me the opportunity to study lots of different things fortunately. My work started off in radiology, hence my appointment as an assistant professor of radiology and specifically I was studying MRI. I really got my foot in the door with the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center by taking post mortem brains that were donated by our very giving study participants, and imaging them post mortem, in an MRI scanner, just like the one you see in a hospital. By now, we have hundreds of these scans and we can tell some very interesting signatures of not only Alzheimer’s Disease but many other neural pathologies and behaviors that were observed before death.
Larry Jordan: Make the transition from post mortem brains which means after somebody’s died, to motion capture where they’re not moving a whole lot once they’re dead.
Bob Dawe: Absolutely, so that was my first foray into the gadgetry and studying ageing. But over the years, I’ve transitioned into studying things like mobility and sleep, and in particular, this project with the Kinect and iPi Software really spoke to me because I kind of had this feeling that you injure your knee, and your range of motion in your knee decreases somehow. That influences your ability to exercise, be active, walk to the grocery store, go out and see friends. So you’re getting less aerobic exercise, less social interaction and it’s possible, and in fact looks more and more likely every day that that leads to some kind of cognitive decline. So although it seems disjointed this connection between the biomechanics of gait and your knee range of motion for example, those may somehow influence the way you think, or your ability to think critically later in life.
Larry Jordan: I was just reading new research this week that seems to indicate that exercise, combined with lowering blood pressure and cognitive training, can reduce the risk of getting Alzheimer’s? But where does motion capture come in?
Bob Dawe: We already have our study participants go through a battery of motor performances, a structured motor exam. It involves them walking a couple of feet across the room, standing up from a chair, standing on one foot or the other for 20 seconds. That’s already in place, and we were getting some very basic measures, usually with a stop watch. Like, how long does it take them to walk eight feet? Or how long are they able to stand on one foot without losing balance? But we had the feeling there’s a lot more we could be capturing from this motor performance, and that’s where Kinect comes in, the motion capture with iPi software. The goal really is to create a 3D digital record of this performance, so that we can go back at a later date and measure any number of interesting biomechanical parameters. So that kind of led us directly to the motion capture solution. You know it’s done in Hollywood. We didn’t quite want that expensive rig to be transporting around, but lucky for us we found a much less expensive and much more portable solution that involved just a single Kinect sensor and this iPi software which drives the data collection process, and also helps in the post processing aspects of the data.
Larry Jordan: Why did you choose Kinect, and why did you choose iPi?
Bob Dawe: Well as many of your listeners are probably aware, the Kinect started life as a video game peripheral. So by its own nature it’s got to be very inexpensive which is good for us. I think Microsoft is probably disappointed at how it fared as a video game peripheral but it’s found many other uses, especially in the research community, and one of those is what we’re doing with it, gait analysis. We were drawn to it, not only because it’s cheap, inexpensive and portable, it’s easy to use, it’s only one sensor. We developed quite easily a strategic positioning method, that’s consistent from test to test. In addition, the iPi software, we tried to make a home brew solution for how we were going to take the raw data and estimate body position from that data, and I quickly discovered that was not going to be an option with my programming experience, because the frame rates went from 30 to about ten or 15 maximum.
Bob Dawe: So some quick Googling revealed the iPi software which is really impressive I think, probably for motion capture, and certainly for the gait analysis that we’re doing.
Larry Jordan: What are you hoping to determine as a result of your research?
Bob Dawe: Well I mentioned that I have this inkling, and I think most people probably do, that you injure your knee very slightly for example, or your knee range of motion goes down. That influences how often you get out of the house, but although we have this inkling that that might be true, it’s really hard to get hard numbers on that. What is a significant decrease in knee range of motion? Is it five degrees? Ten degrees? And what happens as a result of that? When is it time to go see the doctor, and when is it time to have some physical therapy? I think that’s the answer that this Kinect set up can provide us. It can provide us with hard numbers and then we study in the future how many of our participants become disabled, how many have falls, and based on that we can say, if we see your hip or knee range of motion decreasing at a rate of X degrees per year, that’s significant. You need to go see a doctor.
Larry Jordan: How do you capture movements without using traditional sensors? One of the things that iPi is famous for is that it uses markerless sensors. What is it using to detect the movement?
Bob Dawe: Yes, that was crucial for us. We’re going out into the community, we send our research assistants to the residences of our participants, it makes it more feasible to study thousands of people. But I was very skeptical of the ability of this sensor to provide any meaningful measurement without those markers. But it turns out we’re really not sacrificing much at all by using this system, compared to a full blown professional motion tracking rig. I’d like to call it a depth sensing camera, so it assigns to each pixel in the frame a distance from the sensor to that pixel, so we can see the motion of the participant moving toward the camera, getting closer towards the camera as they perform the walking activity. To do that, it uses a infrared projector which projects a unique pattern of infrared light onto the field of view and it senses any distortion in that projection with an infrared receiver. Based on that, it calculates the distance of an object from the sensor.
Larry Jordan: That is very cool. What data are you pulling out?
Bob Dawe: We get the raw depth information and we bring that back to the lab where we have a brigade of specially trained research assistants who are really skilled at using the iPi motion capture software, to post process that depth data and smooth out the measurements in order to get a really good and true to life representation of what the participant actually did. How they actually moved. Once we have that, at the moment we’ve started looking at just knee range of motion, hip range of motion, some timing parameters like cadence or what we call the single support time, how long one foot is on the ground compared to two. But there’s really any number of parameters we could go back in the future if we decide that they’re interesting, and pull out. That’s really a strength of this technique I believe is that it creates a permanent digital record.
Larry Jordan: How many tests do you need to make before you can start to draw conclusions and what’s the projected duration of this research project? In other words, how soon can you tell us the results?
Bob Dawe: We’ve already run a 50 person pilot study, the purpose of which was really to give us the answer, is it going to give us anything at all? Is it going to be accurate? The answer was yes by the way.
Larry Jordan: Thank you.
Bob Dawe: But beyond that, we have more than 2,000 people we’re planning on capturing this type of data in at least every two years, and possibly every year. So once a year or two goes by, we’re going to have cross sectional data on the entire cohort. That should lead to some interesting findings, I’m quite confident. I don’t know what they’ll be, but I’m excited.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information about your research, where can they go on the web?
Bob Dawe: I would send them to rush.edu, and from there they can find the link to the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center where they can read all about not just the Kinect research, but everything that we’re doing.
Larry Jordan: That website is rush.edu, and Robert Dawe is a PhD and assistant professor of radiology at Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center. Bob thanks for joining us today.
Bob Dawe: Thanks a lot.
Larry Jordan: One of the things I enjoy the most about this show is discovering new tools that expand our creative horizons, either by extending existing technology or creating new ways to create images that we were not able to create before, and we had a really great range of guests to talk about that today.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank my guests this week, Tim Freess, the co-founder of Gnarbox, Bob Benson, the founder of 24 Shots, Erika Nortemann, the VP of Tandem Stills + Motion, Michael Rubin, the marketing director for YI Technology, Bob Dawe, assistant professor at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, and James DeRuvo the senior writer for DoddleNEWS.
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