Terry Hope, Editor, Pro Moviemaker Magazine, Bright Publishing
Laura Williams-Argilla, Director of Project Management for Creative Cloud Video, Adobe
Bryce Button, Director, Product Marketing, AJA Video Systems
Thomas Burns, CTO Media and Entertainment, Dell EMC
Dan May, President, Blackmagic Design, Inc.
James DeRuvo, Film and Technology Reporter, DoddleNEWS
Larry Jordan: Tonight on the Buzz we take a look at the big news coming out of IBC for 2017. Adobe, AJA Video, Blackmagic Design and Dell. We start with two overview reports, the first from Terry Hope of Pro Moviemaker magazine, and the second from James DeRuvo of DoddleNEWS. Each provides extended highlights from the show.
Larry Jordan: Then we go in depth starting with Adobe. Laura Williams-Argilla is the director of product management for Adobe’s Video Tools. She shares the details of Adobe’s latest product reveal and what they are planning for the future.
Larry Jordan: AJA Video announced a series of new products at IBC. Tonight, Bryce Button, director of product marketing for AJA showcases their latest products, discusses the expanding role of HDR and explains where their technology is heading.
Larry Jordan: Dell EMC redefined shared storage with upgrades to their Isilon system. Changes specifically designed for media creators. Tonight Thomas Burns, the chief technology officer for Dell EMC discusses the significance of their announcements, along with new trends in data storage.
Larry Jordan: Blackmagic Design had three big announcements at IBC, Ultimatte 12, DaVinci Resolve 14 and Fusion 9. Tonight, Dan May the president of Blackmagic Design shares the details behind these new releases. 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. IBC 2017 wrapped up two days ago, so tonight we’re taking an in depth look at some of the biggest news coming out of the show. We have detailed interviews with Adobe, AJA Video, Blackmagic Design, and Dell. Plus, we have two extended reports from our folks in the field, Terry Hope and James DeRuvo.
Larry Jordan: Before we start, Apple will be releasing High Sierra next week, the next version of the Mac operating system. This includes the new Apple file system, called APFS which replaces the venerable HFS Plus. My recommendation is to hold off upgrading to High Sierra for a few weeks in case there are any problems with the upgrade or the new APFS. Then when you’re between projects, you can upgrade when you know it’s safe. Also APFS only applies to SSD boot disks. It does not affect Fusion drives, internal hard disks or external media.
Larry Jordan: Now let’s start out coverage of IBC with Terry Hope. Terry is the editor of Pro Moviemaker magazine which is a quarterly publication that appears in the UK and the US. He began his career as a professional photographer, then a videographer and now the editor of a key UK media magazine. As always Terry, welcome back.
Terry Hope: Hello Larry.
Larry Jordan: So what’s the big news at IBC from your point of view?
Terry Hope: I’ve just got back and it was a very interesting show like it always is. I would say there wasn’t anything stand out spectacularly show stopping. But collectively there were lots of interesting things and I noticed a few areas in particular there have been lots of developments within.
Larry Jordan: Let’s focus on production today. What did you see in monitors?
Terry Hope: On the monitor front there was quite a lot going on, and I think what is interesting is that technology’s moving on, and the quality of these products are becoming much higher and the price is coming down. I visited the SmallHD stand. They had two to show. Probably I thought the most interesting one was the Focus 5 inch micro HDMI monitor. This one is daylight viewable, it’s got 800 nits brightness and it comes in at $499. The idea for this is that it’s the ideal monitor for those shooting run and gun, so it would fit onto a single person operated rig, and it also comes with all the controls you get on the higher end small HD monitors, so you can learn how to do high end editing on the monitor and then when you move up, you’ll know what you’re doing. The second monitor from SmallHD was the P3X. That’s the 17 inch one. That had incredible image quality said to rival OLED. That’s also daylight visible at 900 nits, and it comes with things like an ultra wide viewing angle, HDR preview function and ten bit color.
Larry Jordan: That’s monitors. What in lighting caught your eye?
Terry Hope: On the lighting front, again I could see quite a lot of developments happening there. I was very interested in the light panels, Gemini 2 x 1 light fixture, really powerful, but very compact and it’s designed to be used for both stills and filmmaking. Obviously daylight and tungsten balanced. What I thought was particularly interesting about this was the fact that it was very easy to control the light really precisely with the dials on the back of it. You could even replicate precise gel colors and store your settings for re-use.
Terry Hope: I also went along to the Rotolight stand, where they were showing their new Aeos light. Again, very interesting because this is designed to be a crossover product for photographers and filmmakers. It delivers continuous light but it can also offer flashlight as well. So you can have it as a product that does both and of course, typical Rotolight comes with all the special effects such as lightning, fire flickering, TVs flickering, police car flashing blue lights, all that kind of thing. Very well thought through, and a really nice product.
Larry Jordan: How about tripods?
Terry Hope: I’m particularly interested in the Flowtech tripod. It’s interesting because obviously tripods have been around pretty much since photography was invented and you would think they couldn’t really do much with them to make them different, but this one had really been rethought. The Flowtech 75 is touted as being the world’s fastest tripod legs which basically means you can operate it all from the top of the tripod. You don’t have to get down and start changing the length of each separate leg. You can do it all from the top so it makes it very quick and easy, and it even lays down flat on the floor. Being carbon fiber, it’s really light to carry around so you can pick it up with the camera on top and carry it to the next point on the shoot. Very easy to use.
Larry Jordan: We’ve covered lighting, tripods and monitors. How about audio?
Terry Hope: Yet again there was a lot going on on the audio front. Obviously Rode as always had things to show. The videomic pro 2 looks really interesting. A big step up from the videomic 1 which of course has been around for a few years now. It’s been pretty much a standard for filmmakers. The 2 just takes it a bit further, and it looked a very good product.
Terry Hope: Also, particularly interesting, I visited the Sennheiser stand. A year or two ago they were showing their VR microphone. That was on the stand again, but they’ve now followed this up with headphones, Ambeo Smart headset, which is put across as the world’s first intuitive compact and mobile 3D sound recording headset. Basically what that means is it’s a normal headset so you can hear through it, but it also records. It’s being introduced as the new tool for bloggers and other content creators and I listened to some audio that had been recorded with it, and it was really impressive. It was phenomenally good. If it works as well as the demo, then that’s going to be quite a product.
Larry Jordan: We’ve been talking this week about production. What I’d like to do is invite you back next week to talk about post, and also your look into the future with some of the new AI stuff that was being shown at the show. Would that work for you?
Terry Hope: That would work very well for me, thank you.
Larry Jordan: Promoviemaker.net not .com and Terry Hope is the editor if Pro Moviemaker magazine, whose website is www.promoviemaker.net and it’s a quarterly publication that appears in the UK and the US, and Terry’s helping us out with our IBC coverage. Terry thank you very much.
Terry Hope: Thank you very much Larry.
Larry Jordan: IBC is too big a show to cover with a single report, so for our second overview of IBC news, we turn to James DeRuvo the senior writer for DoddleNEWS. Hello James, welcome back.
James DeRuvo: Hello Larry, yes there is definitely plenty to talk about. I see Terry has already given you a great cook’s tour for all the gear on the exhibitor’s floor, but there’s so much to see, so I wanted to hone in on cameras and it looks like Sony has showed off four new models that prosumers and corporate video shooters are going to want to take a look at.
Larry Jordan: What did Sony announce?
James DeRuvo: Sony announced the new XDCAM PXW-Z90V. That’s first on their list that offers shooting in 4K of up to 120 frames per second, or you can go up to 960 frames per second at a lower resolution like 2K. This is largely due to a newly redesigned one inch Exmor RS imaging sensor that Sony has crafted from the ground up. Color wise, the Z90V offers instant HDR, Fast Hybrid focus and XAVC, a ten bit 422 color. Price, 2799.
Larry Jordan: 2799?
James DeRuvo: 2799 and it’s a beautiful camera too.
Larry Jordan: What else?
James DeRuvo: Next up is the HXR-NX80 NXCAM camcorder. This is a palm sized professional camera with XAVC S 4K and many of the same specs as the Z90 but in a small form factor, making it an ideal B camera for those wedding video shoots. 2299.
James DeRuvo: Going even more compact, because we’re going bigger to smaller, there’s the FDR –AX700 Handycam camcorder. This is likely going to attract the videophile looking to up his game for every day video, and make it look more broadcast quality. It sports that same one inch stacked Exmor RS CMOS sensor, that’s back illuminated, and a slightly slower Hybrid Autofocus system which reads 273 points and offers wider coverage. Price $1900.
Larry Jordan: Pricing has really dropped. That’s pretty amazing.
James DeRuvo: I know, it’s a great time to get into the business if you’re a budding shooter. Finally, there’s the Sony RX10 IV. This comes with a huge24-600mm SuperZoom. It’s able to record in S-Log3 at 24 frames per second, and Sony promises it has the fastest autofocus in the world. It records in 4K at 3840 x 2160 in XAVC S, at up to 100 megabits per second, and Sony says the stacked image design allows for imaging of 1.7x more information than 4K requires and the processor downscales it to a full pixel readout so you don’t have any binning or any of that nonsense. You get a gorgeous 4K image. Price is $1700 and it ships next month.
Larry Jordan: Wow. Clearly Sony was making a lot of camera news. Was anything else happening at the show?
James DeRuvo: One of my favorite pieces of gear from this week on the floor was from ARRI and it’s the Skypanel skyline base station. This is a wireless base station which enables you to hook up these wireless receivers to the ARRI Skypanel and you can basically adjust all of your Skypanels wirelessly by a wifi from a remote base station. The system comes in 3-receiver and 10-receiver kits, but you can also buy each station a la carte, and it looks to be the kind of tool that’s going to save hours down the road in production time while lighting gets adjusted for each individual scene. They also announce the ARRI S60-C Skypanel, that sports an anamorphic ultrawide 19mm-36mm lens, and it’s the largest LED light that they’ve ever made. So it’s easy to see that ARRI has had a hell of a show.
Larry Jordan: What’s happening on the software side?
James DeRuvo: On the software side, I know you’ll be talking to my friend Dan May at Blackmagic later in the show, and I’m eager to hear more details about the software and hardware improvements that they’ve been showing off in Amsterdam, including expanded features for that new kid on the block, Ultimatte 12. Ultimatte also gets some augmented reality tools, and this is fun, that enables on air talent to not only interact with the computer generated images and data, but also walk around them as if they were actually in the way.
Larry Jordan: What else from Blackmagic caught your eye?
James DeRuvo: DaVinci Resolve 14 is out of a very successful beta test program. It has several new features that includes incorporation of the new Fairlight audio technology and since Apple has finally killed support for Final Cut Pro 7 in an upcoming launch of Mac OS High Sierra, users who are looking for a familiar alternative will find an easy to use import of Final Cut Pro timelines into DaVinci’s workflow. There’s similar keyboard shortcuts and interface design that’ll give users the ability to transition to DaVinci in minutes.
Larry Jordan: I think it’s important to note that if you are using Final Cut 7 it won’t work in High Sierra, so thank you for mentioning that. The new Resolve update is very interesting, as you mentioned we’ll talk to Dan May about this and Fusion 9 and Ultimatte 12 a little later in the show. For listeners that want to follow all the latest news 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 James, as always, thanks for joining us this week. We’ll talk to you next week.
James DeRuvo: See you next Thursday.
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: Laura Williams-Argilla is the director of product management for the Creative Cloud video tools at Adobe. In her role she, and her team, evolved Adobe’s powerful editing tool set for the needs of today’s video creators. Hello Laura, welcome.
Laura Williams-Argilla: Thank you hello Larry, how are you doing?
Larry Jordan: What does evolving Adobe’s powerful editing tool set for the needs of today’s video creators mean? What are you doing at Adobe?
Laura Williams-Argilla: At Adobe we work closely to understand how people are using video to communicate and how video influences culture in general. So we’re looking at how customers who want to communicate with video need those tools to address new ways of communicating with video. Things like emerging platforms, the involvement with the increasing needs and demands for social video, and just looking at how we can make sure our tools are right in line and keep ahead of the curve in letting them make the best possible content.
Larry Jordan: Do you view yourself as being part of the engineering team, or part of the marketing team or where?
Laura Williams-Argilla: I’m part of the product management organization which works with both of those teams very closely. My organization is made up of the product managers responsible for each of the core product teams, and with those incredibly smart people I’m working with, we work directly with the engineering team to find out what kind of needs our customers have, and the engineering team collaborate with us to find the best possible way to address those needs.
Larry Jordan: Thinking of addressing those needs, you have announced a flock of new things at IBC. What’s the new announcements?
Laura Williams-Argilla: We are doing a reveal of the next set of features for the Creative Cloud video tools, and it’s a wide set of features. We’re really excited to be announcing themes around helping people to do more in less time, be more creative, make more content, and get the maximum creativity out of the tools that we’re providing.
Larry Jordan: What are some of the highlights?
Laura Williams-Argilla: Some of my favorites, we’ve just put a new push in around VR content creation. Many people are aware that we’ve brought on Metal SkyBox into the Premiere fold, and into After Effects as well. Those features are now being natively supported in the applications, and accelerated at the same time, so people can have more tools for making immersive content that correctly understands how that immersive content works just right in the tools that they’re using already.
Laura Williams-Argilla: As part of that, we’ve created the Adobe Immersive Environment which is a really exciting way to visualize your timeline in your headset. So you can do things that relate directly to your timeline while immersed in the head mounted display. We’re finding that this is important as people are creating immersive content, the ability to relate while in that immersive environment, to things like trimming our points in their timeline without having to take that head mounted display off.
Laura Williams-Argilla: We have added the ability to open multiple projects, at the same time. Something we’ve been getting requests for for a long time. It’s really powerful, and allows you to copy and paste or move objects between two or more open projects, and they just show up right there in a really easy to address way. We’ve added more ways to collaborate in Premiere Pro and After Effects. a lot of people are aware of Team Projects which has continued to add new ways to allow cloud based collaboration with shared assets, so we’re now showing more indications of asset status, we’ve allowed people not only to refer to versions of a project that they’ve shared, we’re also letting customers pull auto saves which was another feature people had been asking for. So any time that project has been saved is now accessible in a more easily found environment.
Laura Williams-Argilla: We’ve added an additional way to collaborate because cloud based collaboration is not possible for everybody. Some environments require you to be offline and not have access to the internet. We’ve added project locking, which allows people to access a shared project with permissions, so while one person’s editing, another person is out, but they understand who is editing, who’s locked that project. It’s more a serial collaboration, which is a preferred method for some people. What we’re trying to do is address the way people work together.
Larry Jordan: These collaboration tools require Adobe Premiere for Teams correct?
Laura Williams-Argilla: Team projects does. Shared projects does not. That’s part of the regular Premiere Pro application.
Larry Jordan: You’ve mentioned a lot of collaboration with Premiere, but there are other applications like After Effects and Audition. What’s the news with those?
Laura Williams-Argilla: After Effects has a really exciting release this time too. In our NAB release we provided a new way of sharing graphics from After Effects creatives, so we introduced motion graphics templates which has taken off dramatically. Every knows that After Effects creates really beautiful, powerful motion graphics but it can be difficult to use and collaborate with. People can now create motion graphics templates in After Effects, share those to Premiere where only the parameters that are editable are presented, and presented in a way that an editor who doesn’t have After Effects knowledge can really easily access them.
Laura Williams-Argilla: We’re adding the motion graphics template format to stock, so even if you don’t know a motion graphics creator, you now have access to a collection of really well designed motion graphics templates by some of the best motion graphics artists in the world. We have increased the functionality of motion graphics templates, adding more types of parameters, and in addition to the motion graphics templates changes in After Effects, we are adding the ability to use data as a footage file. That sounds difficult to understand, I think a lot of people would not be sure why they’d want to do that. But if you’re using data to drive animation, you can use data that’s either from static sets or stats that change over time, to drive parameters of your assets. Imagine being able to connect a template in After Effects to a data set that represents weather around the world. And by changing the city have it automatically update with the connected information drive the graphic changes that are necessary for that change as well, instead of having to reset each of the parameters manually. We don’t believe that anybody goes to art school to become a motion graphics specialist to do data entry, and so this frees a lot more time for creativity and polishing that initial template. We’re creating more graphics across the board.
Larry Jordan: What’s happening with Audition?
Laura Williams-Argilla: Actually Audition just won an award from Red Shark Media for Best Audio Product, so we’re pretty excited about that. We’ve added auto docking to Audition, being one of the big features this cycle. Auto docking allows you to just quickly have the audio bed dip when voices are over it in the voice track. So instead of having to do all that manually, it just works really beautifully through an algorithm of machine learning. You can make fine changes after, but it gets you done or near done in seconds, instead of the manual time of polish.
Larry Jordan: To me, this speaks to one of the sleeper announcements at IBC which is Adobe Sensei, which is the AI based foundation for both Premiere and other applications. To me this is actually a huge deal. Can you tell me more about it?
Laura Williams-Argilla: We’re making a big push to help people get more performance, more information and more visibility into their content by using artificial intelligence and machine learning. Now I mentioned the auto decking and you’re right, that’s a Sensei feature. Another feature you’ll see in our reveal that is powered by Sensei is better lip sync control in Character Animator. We’ve had computers watching cartoons to better understand the relationship between mouth shape and sound so we get that very natural predictable feel that you get when you’re watching 2D animation instead of what was a little bit more accurate, but felt a bit too accurate for animation. So we’re looking at ways to give you this really beautiful mouth shape to sound performance through machine learning as well.
Larry Jordan: There was talk at NAB about standardizing the audio engine in Premiere to match that of Audition. What’s happening in that regard?
Laura Williams-Argilla: We have been working very hard to put the power of all of the tools behind all of the other tools, so After Effects, Premiere, Audition, they all work on a shared code base. One of the things that we started seeing at NAB was the essential sound panel. What that does is simplify some of the most common tasks an editor has to do around audio without requiring them to go to an audio editing application. We are going to continue to add more and more workflows to that feature within the application. The goal is really to let people work where they’re most comfortable, in a way that’s the most easy to learn for them.
Larry Jordan: Where does Prelude fit into all this? Is this going to be incorporated into Premiere?
Laura Williams-Argilla: We have been incorporating parts of the Prelude workflow into Premiere as we take customer feedback. You’ll see the ingest portion of Prelude has actually shown up in the … workflow as you do some of the transcode functionality. We’re not announcing any major changes to Prelude right now, but it is an important part of the workflow for many of our customers.
Larry Jordan: So when are the updates released?
Laura Williams-Argilla: The updates are released soon. I can’t give a more fine date than that.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information, where can they can on the web?
Laura Williams-Argilla: You can always find more information about the video and audio apps in Adobe at adobe.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s adobe.com, and Laura Williams-Argilla is the director of product management for the Creative Cloud video tools at Adobe, and Laura thanks for joining us today.
Laura Williams-Argilla: Thank you, have a good night.
Larry Jordan: Bryce Button is the product marketing manager for AJA Video Systems. He’s been working in post production since the mid 1980s and joined AJA from Autodesk. At AJA, Bryce shapes product marketing messaging and initiatives for AJA’s entire product line. Hello Bryce, welcome.
Bryce Button: Thank you Larry, great to be here.
Larry Jordan: Bryce, you’re still in Amsterdam at IBC so let’s get right to the news. What did AJA announce?
Bryce Button: Our biggest announcement at IBC 2017 was the AJA IO 4K plus, and the IO 4K plus is an IO capture and playback device that you attach to your computer because you’re capturing to the computer, through Thunderbolt 3. So Thunderbolt 3 connectivity which is what everyone wants with their new Macs and the new iMac Pro to come, and HP and Lenovo machines as well. That device allows you to connect to other devices like cameras, video decks, digital recorders and players across two key connection items, and that’s 12G SDI and HDMI 2.0. So it allows you to bring in SDI signals and HDMI signals and play those back out and through the Thunderbolt 3 connection, the video that is captured or played out simply goes across that Thunderbolt 3 cord, which is essential with the new era of Macs, including the iMac Pro that is coming later this year.
Larry Jordan: What would be a use case? Who would use the IO 4K?
Bryce Button: The IO 4K plus is designed to work with all the major non-linear editing systems with its 12G-SDI and HDMI 2.0 support. So that of course means that Media Composer, Premiere, Final Cut Pro X, it’ll work with color software, it will also work with streaming software like Wirecast from Telestream.
Larry Jordan: That’s the IO 4K plus which is a digital recorder. What other new products did you announce?
Bryce Button: We also announced 12G support for our fiber converters. We announced HDMI 2.0 playback on the Key Pro Ultra plus which is our digital recorder and player that handles 4K and HD. In that case we give you configuration controls for triggering the HDR playback. We also announced an upgrade for our Helo product in the sense of new firmware that allows you to capture up to six hours to H264 or for streaming purposes of course since that’s a standalone streaming device. We also showed what is known as HDR10+ support with the new Samsung displays and that’s HDR that has dynamic metadata which allows you to trigger different settings per scene or per shot.
Larry Jordan: Where does HDR fit into your new releases, because it seems like HDR has got multiple standards associated with it?
Bryce Button: Yes, so as a company we’re very flexible from that point of view. We support all the HDR standards, and when it comes to HDR10 for instance, that is a description of what’s also known as PQ, so PQ and SDI HDR10 and HDMI is the same thing. We do support HLG which is the BBC standard, we support Dolby Vision, throughout OEDMs, our developer cards, and of course now HDR10+. Folks shouldn’t be worried about this. It’s not like a standard or as we had in the past with DVDs, so it was a real issue. Your display is able to recognize these standards. If you’ve got an HDR10+ display, especially important this year, it’ll support both HLG and HDR10 and it’ll automatically switch when it is triggered to the correct color space.
Larry Jordan: Is HDR10 an interim spec as we get up toward Rec2100? Or is it going to be a standalone in and of itself?
Bryce Button: It’s basically a description of dynamic range, brightness levels on the display, and includes support for effectively what’s known as the BT 20 20 color space, which is the broad color space that we’ve all been aiming for and is applicable for both HD and 4K or ultra HD.
Larry Jordan: You also announced a relationship with Avid. What’s going on there?
Bryce Button: Aha. So when it comes to working with Avid, they’ve always been a great partner, and effectively what we’ve done is we have created a version of IO4K+ that is dedicated to Avid users for Media Composer, News Cutter, applications like that. So you can think of it as the same thing as an IO4K+ in the sense that it’s got the same 12G SDI support, the same HDMI 2.0, but specifically on this model, which will be sold by Avid through their channel, you do get an XLR audio input on the front which has Mic/Line and Phantom Power support, so editors doing news pieces, vloggers for instance, can literally plug their microphone right into the front of the device which helps when you’re doing voiceovers to timeline.
Larry Jordan: Which of your new announcements has gotten the most interest at the show?
Bryce Button: IO4K+ has had a ton of attention, and then the product that’s probably had the second most attention is what’s known as FS-HDR which we had announced as a tech preview, at NAB. This is our real time HDR conversion product which is in a 1RU factor, and this product we released just prior to the show with additional features that we hadn’t originally talked about at NAB, and it’s had a huge amount of interest at the show with a lot of orders in its first week. So it’s a real time device. It translates or transforms the current standard dynamic range video into HDR. It can also transform between the different HDR standards, again that’s why we’re not concerned that there are multiple standards out there, they’re just different ways of trying to get the same end result. You can go from HDR to SDR as well when you have to deliver for normal standard dynamic range screens.
Larry Jordan: With all these new announcements to look at, where can people go on the web to learn more?
Bryce Button: We’d love it if you visited our website of course at aja.com and you’ll find that we’ve indeed got a couple of new solution pages there. If you wanted to learn more about HDR in general as well as Thunderbolt 3, we have solution pages that actually give you a description of what these standards are, what they’re about, how they function, before we get into the actual product information, so you can choose the correct product for your particular workflow.
Larry Jordan: That website is aja.com and Bryce Button is the product marketing manager for AJA Video Systems. Bryce, being at a trade show is an exhausting job. I wish you a successful show and a safe trip home.
Bryce Button: Thank you very much, it’s indeed been an incredible week here in Amsterdam, and like anyone, I am looking forward to getting home as well.
Larry Jordan: Thomas Burns is Dell EMC’s chief technology officer for media and entertainment. He’s a founding member of the StudioSysAdmins networking site, and began his career at Silicon Graphics, developing Maya animation software and managing digital disk recorder products. Hello Thomas, welcome.
Thomas Burns: Hello Larry, thank you.
Larry Jordan: Thomas, you live at a different level than I do. I’m always focused on individual tools, but part of your job is to take a look at the big picture. What do you see as key themes coming out of IBC?
Thomas Burns: I think we all have to understand now that data has mass. Video is the massiest data of them all. It has its own gravity with planets and black holes and suns and inertia and all of that sort of physics stuff. Because truly, data may cost something to store, and it’s not inconsequential, data costs a lot to store, but it costs a lot more to move it from place to place in the global collaborative production workflow that defines so many projects these days. We have to understand the cost of that data gravity in order to design an efficient production pipeline.
Larry Jordan: What does data gravity mean? I hold a hard disk in my hand, it doesn’t weigh any different than if it’s full or empty. What’s the term mean to you?
Thomas Burns: The term came from big data. Now we call it analytics, but what I mean is that if I’m on set generating UHD resolution images, in 10 bit, even compressed, even heavily compressed 800 megabits per second or something like that, I still have to have a physical amount of time to copy those camera cards to the DIT station, and then the DIT has to make those copies and checks on them and back them up for the insurance company, and then I have to send one copy to the post house and one copy to the VFX house, and I have to have a down res copy to send to the studio so they can check that I’m spending their production dollars well. All of these data movements have a cost in terms of human time, infrastructure time, physical time. Creative projects never finish, they just kind of run out of time. What we want to do is maximize the amount of time so you can keep doing as many iterations as you can dream of and still make your deadline and still get paid.
Larry Jordan: It sounds like the situation’s almost hopeless because files are getting bigger and the gravity is going to get denser.
Thomas Burns: The networks get faster, the disks get faster and we always have cheaper tiers such as object storage, so that we can keep everything but only pay for the expensive storage that we’re actually working on that day.
Larry Jordan: Media today is devouring storage, especially as we move to higher resolutions like 4, 6, even 8K and the shift to HDR and wider color gamut, file sizes are exploding. How do you see the future of storage, and how should smaller companies that are not studios, prepare for the future?
Thomas Burns: One thing I would advise smaller companies to do is all of those drives that are sitting on a shelf, where they archived a project and put it away a year ago, you have to plug in those drives and make sure they spin up at least once a year, twice a year is better. Because hard drives on a shelf are just not a very good archival mechanism.
Thomas Burns: In answer to your earlier question about storage requirements increasing, it’s absolutely true and yet we never talk about frame rate. We always talk about resolution as the driver of greater storage needs, and yet the gaming industry is now standardized on 60 frames per second, some games are 120 frames per second, and some are 120 frames per second per eye. So frame rate is not only changing the nature of narrative storytelling, but it’s the single biggest driver of the storage requirements that we’re seeing explode.
Thomas Burns: The obvious answer from a storage company, is “Oh, we’d love you to buy more storage” but we have a tiered approach that allows you to only buy the expensive storage for the stuff that you’re working on today and a really intelligent archiving system so that you park older versions on cheaper and colder tiers of storage.
Larry Jordan: We’re focusing on news coming out of IBC and I know you’re still in Amsterdam holed up in your hotel room this evening, so what did Dell announce at IBC this year?
Thomas Burns: We have new version of our flagship Isilon Scale-Out NAS, which is a really great way for people that want to participate in the global collaborative way that feature and episodic projects get made these days. People talk about cloud, and all cloud really is is an object file system living in somebody else’s data center. We have ECS which is our object file system, but the big news for us this IBC, is now it’s been almost a year to the day that the merger with Dell and EMC was announced, and so we have a whole end to end bunch of stuff that as a storage company, especially an enterprise storage company, we were never able to show on the booth before. And that’s the complete range of Dell from work stations to displays, to a really cool technology that artists and content creators would really like to get a hold of, the Dell Canvas. I was going to say Microsoft Surface because that’s what it makes me think of. It’s a really interesting, two handed way to work in an interactive artists environment.
Larry Jordan: Let’s take a deep breath, because we’ve covered a whole lot of products in about one paragraph. You’ve talked about network attached storage, that’s what the NAS is, but what does Scale-Out mean, and why and where would we use it?
Thomas Burns: People always start with a USB drive or in the old days it was a Firewire drive attached to their workstation and they always had to wait while you copied the files off to that USB drive, then you walked it down the hall and you had to wait while the recipient would ingest those files onto their workstation. When you work off of a NAS, any kind of NAS, that problem goes away because you’re editing in place and your collaborative flow gets much better.
Larry Jordan: Would we think of a NAS as a server?
Thomas Burns: Yes, exactly.
Larry Jordan: Go ahead.
Thomas Burns: Your normal NAS has some technical issues that Isilon’s Scale-Out NAS gets around by being able to expand and control the actual capacity of the storage without having to copy data, without having any down time. It’s the most flexible and scalable NAS for video production, collaborative video production. This really more appeals to the storage administrator who normally when you add a couple of terabytes or a couple of petabytes of storage, it’s a big deal and you have to migrate data and you have to manage all of the infrastructure. With Isilon you just throw the new storage in and it’s automatically balanced to use the new capacity, new CPU and the new network ports.
Larry Jordan: Haven’t we had this technology for a while? Why did Dell need to design this new gear?
Thomas Burns: Isilon’s been in the business of scale-out NAS for 15 years. We’ve just announced our sixth generation of hardware and our eighth generation of the flagship 1FS operating system if you will, file system. There’s a number of bundling and competitive advantages to getting into Gen 6 Isilon, our starter bundle provides a really inexpensive way to get in the collaborative shared production flow.
Larry Jordan: What does really inexpensive mean to a company like Dell?
Thomas Burns: It’s an enterprise storage product, so it’s going to be more than a bunch of Firewire drives sitting on your shelf. But the efficiency advantages and the performance advantages are going with all IP storage over a one gig or a ten gig network, make it worth the cost.
Larry Jordan: Who would be a typical customer?
Thomas Burns: A four person editorial work group that is used to sharing disks amongst themselves should really look into the workflow advantages of going to a scale-out NAS. But on the very very large end, broadcasters, visual effects houses, integrated telco, cableco, satco, anybody that deals with large volumes of media for a living, and hates to wait for that progress bar to slowly creep across the screen. Those are the people that we want to show the benefits of scale-out NAS.
Larry Jordan: It’s an obvious question but I’m going to ask it anyway. Dell is a PC company and many media creators are Macintosh based. Is there an issue of Windows versus Mac versus Linux in terms of connecting your gear?
Thomas Burns: That’s the beauty about putting everything on a common network such as Ethernet, is that those problems go away. No client side driver, no custom metadata overlay network, it’s just simple Ethernet. And it works, and it’s fast.
Larry Jordan: We’ve been focusing on storage from Dell. Were there other products that content creators need to pay attention to that you guys announced at IBC?
Thomas Burns: One of the things that I’m probably going to get for our own internal video production unit, are these Windows XPS 17 all in one workstations. When I say all in one, it’s like an iMac type of form factor. The new one from Dell has the most amazing quality 5.1 sound bar built right in, and you know, the dirty little secret, especially in animation where I worked for many years, is that good audio makes your picture look better. So having good audio right on your desktop without a lot of fiddling and setup is a real boon to people who are doing shot finaling and program reviews just from their desktop.
Larry Jordan: What else do we need to pay attention to that you guys were talking about?
Thomas Burns: We announced partnerships with all of the major content creation software companies. The A’s right? Avid, Adobe, Autodesk. We had Autodesk Flame which is typically a very high end uncompressed DPX workflow content finishing tool, and Autodesk Flame usually takes direct attached storage or a SAN because of the performance requirements. Now we have our Gen 6 Isilon and we can handle 12 Flames hooked up to one of our all flash F800 Isilon units, and it’s just so much easier to work in an all Ethernet network than having to manage all of those individual storage components called LUNs.
Larry Jordan: I was just counting on my fingers as you were talking, how many storage vendors are out there, and I gave up after about five or 6,000. Why should somebody consider Dell? Around here you throw a rock, you’re going to hit two storage vendors.
Thomas Burns: Dell’s got a huge range of products. Because of the history of Isilon in the collaborative production group when the editors have to interface with the VFX people and they have to interface with the stuff coming in FTP or Aspera, having everything all in one compact data lake where the path names never change because, no matter how much the storage grows and shrinks, you never have to migrate data or change your path links. Think of it as the world’s largest expandable D-drive, and that’s a Window’s term. I could call it the Isilon volume on your desktop, it’s the exact same thing in Mac, Windows and Linux.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information, where can they go on the web?
Thomas Burns: Dell EMC has a massive website, detailing all of our products. I would advise you to Google Isilon Gen6, for all the gory details.
Larry Jordan: Isilon is spelled Isilon and a Google search will turn up what you need to know. Thomas Burns is Dell EMC’s chief technology officer for media and entertainment, and Thomas thanks for joining us today.
Thomas Burns: Thank you Larry.
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Larry Jordan: Dan May is the president of Blackmagic Design and overseas North and South American operations. He’s been an integral part of a core team that has built Blackmagic into a game changing force in the feature film, post production and TV broadcast industries. Hello Dan, welcome back.
Dan May: Larry, always good to be back with you.
Larry Jordan: We’re talking IBC, we’re talking new products, and now that we’re talking to you, what’s the news from Blackmagic?
Dan May: Well certainly the biggest announcement we had at IBC this year was the launch of Ultimatte 12. An exciting launch for us, Ultimatte was a company that we had picked up last year. Ultimatte has been known in our industry as that very high end green screen capable, keen graphics type of box. We wanted to redo what they had been doing, bringing that Blackmagic to the product as it were, and we’re very happy to have Ultimatte 12 showing and shipping at IBC this year.
Larry Jordan: You purchased Ultimatte in September 2016, the same time as you purchased Fairlight, and at the time of the acquisition you announced Ultimatte 12. What took you so long to bring it out?
Dan May: We wanted to do all the Blackmagic bits to Ultimatte 12 that we could, so it took us a while to go through and be able to put the technology that Blackmagic had at our fingertips into this box. So we knew what the big things in Ultimatte 12 from a feature set were going to be was being able to move to this ultra HD space, being able to add these algorithms were going to require more processing power. These were things we knew were going to be part of that Ultimatte 12. What took so long was to pool all that together, and of course using Blackmagic’s purchasing power for parts, adding our 12 gig technology to do 4K. So it did take a bit of time for us to get all that in there, but we’re really pleased with the final product and of course being able to take something like Ultimatte’s, which were essentially $40,000 boxes, and turn this into a $10,000 box, what is truly the world’s leading professional keyer and compositor for these kind of real time capabilities.
Larry Jordan: What are some of the big new features in Ultimatte 12?
Dan May: Certainly the ultra HD is a big part of this. We’ve had HD keying capabilities for a long time in the Ultimatte 11s. That’s about a ten year old product, and it has been a great product out there for folks that are doing news and graphics of that nature. But in particular when you start looking at what we see in this expansive development of augmented reality and virtual reality, this is a newer technology where people are trying to get the most out of that capability to make it as immersive as possible, and that’s where ultra HD really comes into effect. The rest of the bits that are in Ultimatte 12, they’re a little bit more in the algorithm based capabilities, so it’s not as easy to just say, “Oh you get a cleaner key here, you get finer details here, better color fidelity.” These are all algorithmic challenges that need to be done largely because of wanting to improve the keying and composing capabilities, but especially because as you’re going to ultra HD, those details are going to be noticed more. The details need to be extra refined and we need to have that processing power built in. So a lot of it’s under the hood algorithms that really take the ultra HD keying capability of Ultimatte 12 to a whole new level.
Larry Jordan: Ultimatte was not the only new announcement. What else is news?
Dan May: The big things that we also wanted to show at IBC this year was Resolve 14 and of course our latest Fusion update as well. We announced Resolve 14 at NAB, we had announced Fusion at Siggraph, but both of these were pre-announcements, so these were really the two new softwares that we were able to show for the first time. Resolve has obviously come a long way from when we acquired that product, being able to pull in all of the Fairlight audio capabilities into the software, how much development time we’ve put into the editing platform. Of course world class color grading software, and really truly being able to show multiple users working on projects at the same time across multiple machines. This is something that’s very unique to what DaVinci Resolve 14 does and of course Fusion, an application that has so much capabilities in Fusion 9, again tying into all these capabilities of better rotoscoping, better graphics capabilities, being able to tie into more 3D animation, being able to do even better planar tracking and camera tracking which Fusion was already famous for. These are great software tools. Of course, having both these softwares now available at 299 is really remarkable that we can offer that to folks out there, and I think it puts a nice bow on how a lot of these Blackmagic products can all work together, how they empower individuals with tremendous capabilities for relatively very little cost compared to where we were looking ten or 12 years ago. So a very busy IBC for us this year.
Larry Jordan: Well this begs the larger question. Blackmagic has the tradition, and Ultimatte’s a classic example, where you take a package and Teranex is another, which costs tens of thousands of dollars, and you drop the price to below 10,000, or you take Resolve or you take Fusion which was a multi thousand dollar package and now you’ve got a free version. Where does Blackmagic make its money and do the rest of us need to worry that you’re going to run out of cash?
Dan May: I’m hoping that that’s not going to be the case, certainly the strategy is not to run out of cash. The unique part about Blackmagic is the fact that we’ve been able to build a portfolio which is able to leverage all of the pieces of the engine so I don’t need to go and make $3,000 on a Fusion 9 software, because I’m hoping someone’s going to buy a Decklink card, or they’re going to buy some SmartView, or they’re going to buy some Teranexes. You know, I’m not necessarily going to need to make $20,000 on a camera, because I’m hoping that they’re going to use Resolve and buy again many converters or Decklink cards. This is a very unique position in our industry. When you look around at other folk that are in the IBC hall, that we’re in, and what they do, a lot of them are very singular in what they do and how they approach that. So Blackmagic’s model is not one that we need to maximize the profitability of any one product because we’re being able to fill in a lot of pieces of the overall workflow. Again, so far that’s worked out really well for us and we definitely believe that that’s a model that will continue on to the future for us.
Larry Jordan: Looking at Resolve 14, you’ve got three major applications which is editing, color grading and audio all in the same app, all wrapped around a collaborative engine where multiple editors can be editing the same project at the same time. It almost feels like we’re adding so much stuff that the application’s becoming a jack of all trades, master of none. How are you avoiding that?
Dan May: Hey, it’s a big challenge, because when you put up the white board, and say, “What do we want to do and what are the challenges going to be?” You don’t want to make it so that all these professional color grading folks that have been using this tool for 20 years, suddenly feel like we’ve taken away from color grading capabilities in order to … capabilities. So you really do have to focus on all of those pages at the same time and give them equal weight. So much so, that if someone is simply just an editor and never is going to go into those other pages, you have to give them everything that they’re going to need. The benefit there is that they can be still using the same processing power, so if I’m in the editing page, and I’m not an audio engineer, and I’m not going to go to that level of detail that the Fairlight page will give you, that is perfectly acceptable. But why wouldn’t I want to have that Fairlight processing power if I am going to be doing audio adjustments, if I am going to be doing some type of feed ramping and timing? Why wouldn’t I want to use that Fairlight processing power? Same thing in the color page.
Dan May: If I am just doing color correction, that’s great, and we know we have all those tools in there, but why wouldn’t I want to have some of the editing capabilities right within that page to say, “Look, this actually needs to be a second longer. I actually need to add three more frames in order for that transition to work.” Some of those tools being able to be accessible right within those pages is paramount. It’s a big challenge. But we feel like the benefits of that collaborative workflow, having multiple people working on projects at the same time, outweigh the risks that we may run if we were to go the other direction. So it’s not an easy task. It takes a lot of work, but so far, what we’ve heard back on Resolve 14 is all very positive.
Larry Jordan: Let’s take a look at Fusion 9. One of the things that you stressed is that Fusion 9 does not require internet access. Why is that so important?
Dan May: One of the problems that we see with the whole internet connection need, whether you’re trying to buy a cloud subscription or whether people are trying to access how many licenses you may have, is that there are a lot of companies out there that are doing high end effects and high end editing work that don’t want to be on the internet for obvious reasons. There’s been numerous hacks that have gone out throughout Hollywood, because obviously there’s more risk involved there, and obviously more people seeking out those shots or movies or dailies. There’s just risk of being on the internet. So one of the things that we have heard from that high end clientele was, we really don’t want to have to have these machines hooked up to the internet just to validate that we can use the software that we’re buying in our case, or renting or whatever you want to look at for other cases. So, it’s a marketing point that may not affect your everyday Fusion artist that just wants to go and rotoscopes and stuff out of their event video, but at the same point, if I’m going on location and I’m taking my laptop out, you know, I may not have internet access. So we felt that that was a point that was important enough to put into the marketing to say, you buy this copy of software, it is your copy of software, not required to be online.
Larry Jordan: There’s two versions of Fusion 9, Fusion 9 and Fusion 9 Studio. What are the key differences between them?
Dan May: The big thing that we wanted to do is, and this is very similar to Resolve, we wanted to make sure that we had a very robust free version of the software. We understand that there’s a lot of people that don’t necessarily want to pay for what may be the highest end features and there may be the need for people to be able to get in and experiment with the software, or they just have multiple seats where they need to have an assistant working on something that doesn’t require all of the high end software. The biggest things you’re going to see on the Studio is going to be, more of the capabilities that are really on the high end things, like stereo VR, various VR functionalities that we have in there, but a lot of things that also have to do with if you’re working with multiple seats of software. If I’m someone that just wants to get in and start working with some of this VFX software, by all means the Fusion 9 software which is free is a very robust software for someone to get up and going in.
Larry Jordan: Dan, for people that want more information about all of Blackmagic’s products, where can they go on the web?
Dan May: They can definitely come and visit us at www.blackmagicdesign.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, blackmagicdesign.com and Dan May is the president of Blackmagic Design for North and South America. Dan thanks for joining us today.
Dan May: Larry, great to be with you.
Larry Jordan: You know, I was just thinking, due to the time differences between LA and Amsterdam, I recorded the interview with Thomas Burns yesterday morning. Ever since then, I’ve been thinking about his comments that data has mass. During the interview Thomas said, “I think we need to understand that data has mass and video is the massiest data of them all. It has its own gravity with inertia and all that physics stuff. Because data costs a lot to store,” he said, “and a lot more to move it from place to place, we have to understand the costs of that data gravity in order to define an efficient workflow.”
Larry Jordan: His comments made me realize that I deal with this issue every day though I have not yet given it a cool name like data mass. Here at the office, I have multiple computers and about 80 terabytes of storage. However, I’ve discovered that what I can create is bounded by the speed of my internet connection and the size of the files I need to transfer. I’m not limited by my storage or my computer, I’m limited by how fast I can transfer the data from one point to another. In this case, the mass of the data that I need to move, from one place to another, is so large and my pipeline is so small, that it forces me to change what I can create to account for these limitations.
Larry Jordan: A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. In the past that was the speed of our computers. Then it was the speed of our storage. Now it’s how fast we can transfer data from one place to another. This data gravity is one of the driving factors behind the new Apple file system which speeds copying files, or the new HEVC codec which makes compressed files 30 to 40 percent smaller. It’s also why many of us are looking for faster ways to connect to the web, and why multi-tasking file transfers on set is so desirable.
Larry Jordan: As we move toward higher resolutions, faster frame rates, and richer colors, this data mass is only going to get denser. The solution isn’t in our computers. It’s in how we connect them. Just something I’m thinking about. And as always, I’m interested in your opinion.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests for this week, Laura Williams-Argilla from Adobe, Bryce Button from AJA Video, Dan May from Blackmagic Design, Thomas Burns from Dell, Terry Hope from Pro Moviemaker magazine, and as always, James DeRuvo from DoddleNEWS.
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Larry Jordan: Our producer is Debbie Price, my name is Larry Jordan, and thanks for listening to The Digital Production Buzz.
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