Bill Roberts, Director, Product Management for Video and Audio Solutions, Adobe Systems, Inc.
Ned Soltz, Contributing Editor, Red Shark News, Ned Soltz Inc.
Jonathan Handel, Entertainment/Technology Attorney & Labor Reporter, TroyGould and The Hollywood Reporter
Paul Lasley, Co-Host/Producer, OnTravel Media
J.J. Kelley, Senior Producer and Correspondent, National Geographic
James DeRuvo, Senior Writer, DoddleNEWS
Larry Jordan: Tonight we divide The Buzz into two parts, news and travel, and we start with the news. Adobe made big news with the release yesterday of upgrades to all their applications. Tonight, Bill Roberts, the Director of Product Management for Video and Audio Solutions for Adobe joins us to explain the new releases; as well as highlight Adobe’s new foray into machine learning. Next, Ned Soltz, Contributing Editor for RedShark News, reports from NAB New York, on their latest news and announcements. We asked Ned to pay special attention to the conference track, to give us a sense of what trends are starting to take off.
Larry Jordan: Next, James DeRuvo, the Senior Writer for doddleNEWS, presents our weekly doddleNEWS update; this time with a look at all the tech news that wasn’t from Adobe or at NAB. Next, Jonathan Handel, Entertainment Labor Reporter for the Hollywood Reporter, discusses the burgeoning Harvey Weinstein scandal; it’s impact on Hollywood and, by extension, how this will impact all of us.
Larry Jordan: Then we shift gears to travel, looking at travel videos and podcasts. We start with Paul Lasley. Paul produces and hosts two daily travel shows that are broadcast to 3.5 million listeners, in the 180 countries on the American Forces radio network and podcasted on Travel.com. Tonight, Paul talks with us about travel, media and the challenges of creating interesting audio podcasts on travel.
Larry Jordan: Next, J.J. Kelley, Senior Producer and Correspondent for National Geographic, shares his stories of reporting from the wilds of the world, for the National Geographic Network. The Buzz starts now.
Male Voiceover: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking, Authoritative: One show serves a worldwide network of media professionals. Current: Uniting industry experts. Production: Filmmakers. Post-production: And content creators around the planet. Distribution: From the media capital of the world; in Los Angeles, California, the Digital Production Buzz goes live now.
Larry Jordan: Welcome to the Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for the creative content industry; covering media production, post-production and marketing around the world. Hi, my name is Larry Jordan; this was an interesting week. The Harvey Weinstein scandal exploded into something far greater than Hollywood; Adobe released updates to all their media software; and NAB New York opened for the rest of the industry to showcase the latest in technology.
Larry Jordan: NAB New York is gaining in importance, so we invited Ned Soltz to cover it on our behalf. One area where I wanted Ned to take a closer look was the conference. Often conversations start there, that don’t become products for months, or even years. Still, the conference is an excellent way to take the pulse of the industry as attendees try to figure out which ideas are worth supporting, with services or products.
Larry Jordan: Then an idea we’ve been discussing internally for a while is the challenge in creating podcasts and programs related to travel; so tonight we have two acknowledged experts, Paul Lasley and J.J. Kelley. Each has an audience of millions, with decades of experience in creating compelling programs. Tonight, we go behind the scenes to learn how they do it.
Larry Jordan: Let’s start with the news. Bill Roberts is the Director of Product Management for audio and video products for Adobe Systems. He, along with his engineering counterparts, determine the direction of Adobe products like Premiere Pro, Audition and After Effects. Hello Bill, welcome back.
Bill Roberts: Good morning, good to talk to you Larry.
Larry Jordan: It is my pleasure, because there were some exciting announcements, yesterday, from Adobe. What’s the news?
Bill Roberts: This week is obviously MAX, which is our great creativity conference and MAX is also the vehicle for us to update all of the products across the family. For the video team, it’s our opportunity to actually deliver the products that we revealed back at IBC in September.
Larry Jordan: So we can now get our hands on these things?
Bill Roberts: That is exactly it; they’re all available for download as of yesterday.
Larry Jordan: So, what are the highlights? What are your favorite features?
Bill Roberts: It’s a big update for us across the board; I’ll hit on some of the top things by product. We’re really trying to address the fact that, the one thing that doesn’t change in this industry is the increased demand for throughput; and, if you think about anybody who’s building a brand; it’s about, how do you get it across all the different screens and how do you do it consistently. A lot of the things are tied into that theme of, do more, do it faster.
Bill Roberts: For Premiere, Team Projects, which we’ve had in a full public beta for the past year, goes 1.0; so everybody can now collaborate on a Cloud project; and, on top of that, we added two other features that are really driving collaboration for very specific workflows. We’ve added Multiple Open Projects, which works flawlessly with Team Projects; so it allows people to have any historical project that they’ve opened open at the same time as the one they’re working on; so they can move back and forth between different projects very easily. That was a really important feature for people who’ve come across to Premiere Pro from products like Final Cut.
Bill Roberts: We also have added the ability to have shared projects, or Project Locking; so for people who come across from an Avid background, they’re familiar with bin locking; the idea that, if you’re working with an assistant, the assistant can prep a reel, lock it, you can pick it up and you work on it, no-one else can work on it. Basically we’ve expanded our collaboration tools to make it so that, you know, any creative workflow that you want to project onto the software is now enabled.
Larry Jordan: What’s the difference between a Shared Project and a Team Project?
Bill Roberts: Team projects live in the Cloud and that’s designed for the ability for people to work on a project at the same time; there’s no restrictions, there’s no locking and unlocking of the project. That’s fantastic for a lot of workflows; but when we started to do more and more with Hollywood, the specific workflows where you’ve got a Senior Editor and you’ve got assistants, they really wanted the ability to have what I’ll call Serial Workflow. Somebody works on it, you know, it has a state; the next person picks it up and they don’t want anybody messing with it while they’re working on it.
Bill Roberts: That’s the big difference. Team Projects is unfettered collaboration and will help you merge all the changes on the backend; if people have created conflict. The idea of Shared Projects is really, let’s address the workflows; where people do not want to ever get into a situation where there could be any conflicts between version.
Larry Jordan: Well we’ve talked briefly about the new features in Premiere, what else is new?
Bill Roberts: There’s one that nicely spans Premiere and After Effects. We introduced the idea of motion graphics templates back at NAB and they kind of get supercharged in this release. Not only are we changing the way that you create and consume them and to make that even easier; but also, we now have them available on Adobe stock; so literally hundreds and hundreds of hundreds of beautiful templates that you’re going to be able to download, many of them for free, to help you kick start your creativity.
Bill Roberts: Just to recap on what a motion graphics template is, it’s all the complexity of After Effects condensed down and now delivered and it’s super easy to use.
Larry Jordan: So a motion graphics template is created in After Effects, but used in Premiere and it’s designed for Premiere Editors who don’t know After Effects, to have the power of After Effects.
Bill Roberts: That’s exactly what it is and that was one of the biggest challenges we have. If you take someone who’s not a motion graphics expert, they’re an Editor by trade and you present them with After Effects, it is designed to be the ultimate creative playground. It’s got all the layers of Photoshop, it interacts with all of our other products; but it’s got that added element of time; so a lot of people were intimidated by that. With motion graphics templates, we’ve really addressed a lot of the challenges that people had in, you know, being productive and staying on brand.
Bill Roberts: We’ve actually made it a little bit easier for the multi-framed deliveries that people have today; because quite often, you might be delivering something 16×9 for your broadcast channels, square for Instagram and, heaven forbid, even portrait video; so we added two new attributes to motion graphics templates and how they’re used, called Responsive Design. We have one which allows you to lock something relative to each other or relative to the frame; so let’s say you wanted something in the top corner of a 16×9 window and then you want to deliver it into a portrait video, it will automatically lock; so when you change that aspect ratio, it will move up and be in the right place.
Bill Roberts: We’ve also done the same thing for time. If you’re going to take a lot of effort to have a nicely animated intro and extro, say for a lower third, what you want to do, if you’re adjusting the length of it, is not have the intro and extro animation change, you want them to stay static and just change the overall duration; that’s responsive design time. We’ve been working with our customers to make sure that these things really meet the needs of this high velocity content production.
Larry Jordan: Well there’s a lot of other features we can talk about and we haven’t even mentioned my favorite program, which is Audition. But there’s something else that you guys have announced, that I want to find out about. What is Adobe Sensei?
Bill Roberts: When we start to look at, you know, what’s going on in the industry that’s changed, we can now use machine learning and artificial intelligence to augment what people do. Sensei is our term that kind of brings those worlds together and gives it a jazzy marketing moniker. There’s so much that machines can do better than humans and there’s a great example of that in Audition, for this cycle. Typical things in video are voice, background music, background sound and you have to create a mix. Before you can even think about doing anything pure creative, you’ve got to get to the basics; you’ve got to be able to hear the voice relative to everything else.
Bill Roberts: We’ve added a new feature, which allows you to automatically ride the audio through an entire sequence with the click of a button; so it builds upon our ability to have track types. As long as you put all of your voice on a track and type that as voice, all your background sound on tracks that are labeled as background sound; same for music, one click of a button and you’ll have automation throughout the entire timeline and that automation is then something you can go in and start tweaking, because it’s just basically the same as if you rode through your entire sequence, adjusting the faders. But, being a machine, it knows exactly every single sample at every single, you know, frame of that video is going to be volume adjusted correctly. There’s no point in mixing like a machine, you want the machine to mix like a human, wherever possible.
Larry Jordan: Because it’s machine learning, that generally means that we’re working with servers on the web. Do we have to have internet access for these features, like automatic docking in Audition, or lip syncing in Character Animator to work?
Bill Roberts: No. In this particular case, this is actually running completely local; so there’s no need to be connected.
Larry Jordan: These are some very exciting new features. For people that want to learn more, where can they go on the web?
Bill Roberts: Adobe.com/video and all the new information is up there, as well as demo videos for a ton of fantastic features.
Larry Jordan: That website is adobe.com/video and Bill Roberts is the Director of Product Management for audio and video products at Adobe and Bill, as always, thanks for joining us.
Bill Roberts: Thank you Larry, I appreciate your time.
Larry Jordan: Ned Soltz is a Contributing Editor to the Creative Planet and RedShark News and, best of all, he’s a regular here on The Buzz. Hello Ned.
Ned Soltz: Hi Larry, good evening.
Larry Jordan: It is wonderful to hear your voice, it has been a while.
Ned Soltz: It has indeed been a while; but, getting back into the swing of things right now, after an accident and now I’m about 95% me.
Larry Jordan: Because you’re now mobile, we decided to send you off to cover NAB New York this week. What are the highlights?
Ned Soltz: NAB New York just as a background, there was a show for a number of years, called CCW and NAB acquired that show, in order to create an NAB East. We can’t think of this in terms of the magnitude of NAB Las Vegas; or the magnitude of an IBC; but rather it’s an excellent opportunity, in the Fall, to bring together an assortment of speakers and topics, as well as product demos and vendors and take up the majority of the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. I got a good walk through there and looked at some of the conferences and played with some of the toys as well.
Larry Jordan: Well let’s take a look at the conference. What were some of the hot topics there?
Ned Soltz: First of all we have to remember that the B in NAB stands for Broadcasters; so that, particularly in this show, the programming was very strongly concentrated toward broadcasters. Particularly dealing with issues as the ATSC 3.0, the new proposed standard for our broadcast television that incorporates higher resolutions and IP over broadcast and other business type areas. But two things really stood out very strongly. At the keynote address, instead of really dealing with broadcasters, it was dealing with cyber security.
Ned Soltz: The cyber security issue really permeates everything across the board, from individual users, even to broadcasters; particularly now with so much broadcast work; so much storage, so much approval work all being Cloud based, there remains these significant and very real concerns for cyber security. Those sessions really were significant and, if not dominant, certainly very prevalent.
Ned Soltz: There was one that’s probably more pertinent to our audience and that was with several individuals who are noted camera operators of the broadcast world and members of the SOC; Society of Camera Operators and it was really on the role and craft of the camera operator. Particularly fascinating because, somehow and particularly even when we’re working in smaller scripted scenarios, the camera person is just thought of as somebody who follows the directions and, here, grab that shot and push that button; but, indeed, there’s a certain craft of the camera operator, regardless of the level of production and that really is blocking up those shots; making certain the set runs smoothly, and communicating with the DP, with the Director, with talent.
Ned Soltz: This is the significant role of the Camera Operator and that is really pertinent, completely across the board, to broadcasters, as well as to the majority of us; who are going to be either indie shooters, or shooting in scripted scenarios, or even in other areas of the production world, to appreciate the significance of the Camera Operator.
Larry Jordan: Before we run out of time, what new technology caught your eye; either in the show or in the conference.
Ned Soltz: There were two new cameras that, particularly being laid up for a bit, I hadn’t had the chance to see early on. But it was really the first public showing of the Sony Venice; the new full frame Sony camera, for high end cinema production. As well as the more affordable and down to earth Panasonic EVA1, in a Super 35 format; kind of the mini varicam, if you will and to see some of the excellent images that are created by this EVA1 was very impressive. Then, in another area, JVC’s PTZ camera, with an integrated switcher and a synergy with Roland; because we’re seeing synergies between varying manufacturers right now and this Roland/JVC synergy is an excellent example of that.
Ned Soltz: My favorite lighting companies, Cineo and BBS, both of them are bringing new product to market; particularly in the two type LED, or phosphorous lighting, that is really replacing hot lighting at the moment and even replacing florescence. Lots of good stuff.
Larry Jordan: For people that want to keep track of your writing and what you’re doing, where do they go on the web?
Ned Soltz: Best place to find me is redsharknews.com.
Larry Jordan: That website is all one word, redsharknews.com and Ned Soltz is the Contributing Editor for RedShark. Ned, thanks for joining us today.
Ned Soltz: Always a pleasure. Thank you.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye-bye.
Larry Jordan: But there’s still more news, because now it’s time for our doddleNEWS update with James DeRuvo. Hello James.
James DeRuvo: Well hi Larry.
Larry Jordan: Good to hear your voice. What’s the news this week?
James DeRuvo: The Adobe news is pretty big and NAB New York has had some really interesting technology, but there’s a lot of other news this week in the industry.
Larry Jordan: Well go to.
James DeRuvo: First off, Western Digital has announced a, get this, 12 terabyte spinning hard drives. 7200 RPM spinning drives at up to 12 terabytes; so it goes eight, ten and 12, with up to 250 megabytes of cache and it’s sealed inside an atmosphere of helium. Nice and protected against dust and moisture and that type of thing. Western Digital’s enhanced RAFF technology has also been added and that monitors and dampens out any linear or rotational vibrations; that translates into better long term performance and a healthier hard drive.
Larry Jordan: Well James, just how much more can these hard drives go?
James DeRuvo: They’re even currently developing a 16 terabyte model for server and enterprise clients; so, as we go deeper into the 4K and 8K universe, that innovation has never been more important and I think it’s going to just keep growing, until they figure out a different way to build them.
Larry Jordan: That’s the new 12 terabyte drives from Western Digital; what’s next?
James DeRuvo: Well there’s another Wi-Fi hack out in the wild now, that we want to be aware of; it’s called Crack and it exploits a handshake in the Wi-Fi WPA2 protocol. This handshake clears out the encryption key up to four times during verification; so it’s what’s your verification? Okay, what’s your verification? It asks you four times. What the hackers have managed to do is, they’ve been able to exploit that clearing out of the encryption key to wiggle their way into the network and it enables them to steal, manipulate and insert data into the stream. But they can only do it if they’re within a 150 foot range of the Wi-Fi signal.
Larry Jordan: You know, I was just thinking, with all the hacks we’ve had recently, it seems to me that computer security is a lot harder than it looks.
James DeRuvo: Last year was a tough year for computer security in our industry and it’s coming full circle with this latest exploit. The problem is, is that this exploit attacks every platform; from the mobile platform, to the Windows platform, to the Apple platform, to Android, it doesn’t matter; because it’s all based on Wi-Fi. The problem is, is that the target is always finding these new vulnerabilities that nobody knows about; it’s called a Zero Day Exploit. Computer network security is even more important than developing better imaging tools, in my opinion; because, if we want to keep films up on the movie screen and not on the Pirate Bay, we’ve got to be on top of this and be even better at it than the hackers are.
Larry Jordan: Well now that you’ve got us completely paranoid, do you have any good news?
James DeRuvo: This ought to cheer you up. You know that collaboration software frame.io? Well they’ve teamed up with Pond5, our favorite collection of royalty free stock media assets and now you’ll be able to work within the frame.io interface to search, select and buy media assets from Pond5. They’ll be fully time stamped with comments and annotations, directly on the assets, for later referral and that’s all going to be starting right now.
Larry Jordan: What do you see as the reason for the collaboration?
James DeRuvo: The basic idea is to fast-track the process of finding, choosing and approving stock media assets; just to make it easier. Within the frame.io architecture that asset can then be downloaded and then passed on seamlessly to the Editor, with any notes that have been generated in the collaboration session; so that everyone is on the same page from the beginning of the project, all the way to the end.
Larry Jordan: That’s frame.io and Pond5, what other stories are you following this week?
James DeRuvo: Other stories we’re following this week include Lucasfilm has launched a Star Wars virtual reality experience at Disneyland and Disneyworld; that’s going to be coming out this Christmas and I reviewed the GoPro Hero 6, with some test footage from my San Francisco adventure.
Larry Jordan: James, for people that want more information, where can they go on the web?
James DeRuvo: All these stories and more can be found at doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo is the Senior Writer for doddleNEWS and joins us every week with the doddleNEWS update. Thank you James.
James DeRuvo: Alright Larry, see you next week.
Larry Jordan: Jonathan Handel is an Entertainment and Technology Attorney; he is also the Contributing Editor on Entertainment Labor Issues for the Hollywood Reporter and, best of all, he’s a regular here on The Buzz. Hello Jonathan, welcome back, it’s been a long time.
Jonathan Handel: Larry, it has been a while, it’s good to be back.
Larry Jordan: I want to talk with you today about the Harvey Weinstein scandal; because that’s continuing to generate front page news. Give us a summary, what’s going on?
Jonathan Handel: Well this started about two weeks ago, with first the New York Times and then the New Yorker publishing exposes in which numerous women, it’s up to about 30 women now, accused Weinstein both of sexual harassment and, in several cases, of actual rape. The result was a firestorm, as I think everyone knows. He was expelled from the Motion Picture Academy and other organizations; projects were canceled; deals were canceled; he was fired from the company he co-founded, The Weinstein Company, and the company’s future is now in doubt. With an underscore that, in fact, there are some accusations, of a somewhat lesser nature, but still sexual harassment, against his brother Bob; who was co-owner of the company with him and with investors. It’s been a dramatic several weeks of developments on this.
Larry Jordan: But it seems that the Weinstein scandal is speaking to a bigger problem that Hollywood has always had to deal with, which is male predators. Is this starting to expand beyond just Harvey Weinstein?
Jonathan Handel: Well it is. Roy Price, who was the Head of the Television and Movie Studio at Amazon, is now out; he has left the company, or been ejected; depending on what the reports are; based on sexual harassment. Reports have been written by women, of sexual harassment by, you know, television executives, you know, movie critics, TV critics being harassed. It’s been enormous. But, I want to take slight issue, when you say this is a problem with Hollywood. It’s only a more glamorous, if you will, problem in Hollywood; this is a problem throughout the country and throughout the world.
Jonathan Handel: You know, we live in a world where women are expected to act and perform like they just jumped out of a bucket of KFC; you know, it’s all legs and breasts. If you think about the way women are supposed to dress really dressy, it’s showing legs, showing breasts. Flip that around. What if we lived in a world where, you know, the good looking guys had to wear tight shirts and shorts, it’s almost laughable to say it; but it underscores that we live in a world where women are expected to be, at some level, objects for heterosexual male consumption. That is the beginning of a slippery slope that some men slide down, that leads to sexual harassment and even to rape.
Jonathan Handel: It’s an enormous problem in Hollywood. We have a President who got almost 63 million votes, despite a tape that was quite explicit about how he can do what he wants with women because he’s a star and he can grab them and kiss them and so forth; grab their genitals. This is not just a Hollywood problem. But I hope that the intensity of the attention here will lead people, in the future, who might be tempted to behave this way, to think to themselves, I don’t want to end up like Harvey; who, at this point, is in a rehab center in Arizona and is disgraced and probably may well end up sued, or even criminally indicted.
Larry Jordan: Do you think there’s going to be a long-term impact, or do you think this is just going to be a flash in the pan and more of the same?
Jonathan Handel: I think there will be a long-term impact, at least incrementally. I don’t think that any one incident, no matter how dramatic, changes the world. You know, rape has been used as a tool of war around the world for millennia; the male oppression, unfortunately, of women is a long-standing problem. I mean, 100 years or so ago you couldn’t even fly in an airplane and now you can fly on the internet, or in an airplane, or in a rocket, or you can destroy the world with nuclear weapons. I mean, the technological reach of human kind has expanded so dramatically, but our moral and ethical development has been much more slow and incremental. It’s there, this is a better world even today than it was 20, 30, 40, 100 years ago; but it is slow.
Larry Jordan: Jonathan, for people who want to keep track of what you’re writing, where can they go?
Jonathan Handel: Well they can go two places. To find out more about me, jhandel.com and my writing is on the Hollywood Reporter, particularly thrlabor.com.
Larry Jordan: Jonathan Handel is an Entertainment and Technology Attorney and the Contributing Editor for Entertainment Labor Issues for the Hollywood Reporter. Jonathan, thanks for joining us today.
Jonathan Handel: Thank you Larry.
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 platform 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.
Larry Jordan: 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 the 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: Paul Lasley, along with his co-host Elizabeth Harryman create ten podcasts about travel every week, that are heard on American Forces Network in 145 countries. They are the longest serving independent contributors to AFN; providing travel coverage since flying was fun. Hello Paul.
Paul Lasley: Hi Larry, it’s a pleasure to talk to you.
Larry Jordan: Well I’m looking forward to this; I had a chance to read your résumé and it is intimidating; you have been everywhere and done everything.
Paul Lasley: Oh, not everywhere and done everything; but we have managed to have some really good times on the road. You know, one of the things about travel is that, we get to really have interesting experiences and meet interesting people and searching for ways to communicate that to the public. That’s really our goal here, is to encourage people to travel and to do it smarter and better and cheaper maybe and enjoy themselves when they’re on the road.
Larry Jordan: I know I went outside my front door day before yesterday; so I think there’s hope there. What first got you interested in travel?
Paul Lasley: Actually, many years ago I was a Business Editor and it didn’t seem to be a lot of fun and I looked around and I met some people who were doing travel and that seemed a lot more fun than interviewing executives about the state of their company; so, I got into travel. Elizabeth was writing about theater, because she had been an actress in New York. We got together and thought travel would be an interesting field and there we were.
Larry Jordan: What programs are you creating now?
Paul Lasley: We do two shows a day for American Forces. They’re podcasts, of course, as well as radio. The first one is a one minute travel feature, that Elizabeth and I voice and we have to script it, because, has to come out at 59 seconds. The second show is a 25 minute interview show and we’re able to go to places and talk about subjects that really aren’t covered in the normal travel media.
Paul Lasley: For instance, we just did an interview last week with the CEO of Lufthansa Technik in Puerto Rico; because they had managed, within I think 48 hours, to have 90 tons of supplies delivered to their base in Puerto Rico by a Lufthansa freighter. It was an amazing thing, because they were helping out all their employees and colleagues and things like that down there. That’s something that probably won’t get into the mainstream media, but it really illustrates how travel companies really work to help and really work in the face of emergencies.
Larry Jordan: Are you originating your travel reports locally, that is to say out of your studio; or are you traveling and all of these are done on location?
Paul Lasley: Oh I wish. No, most of the time they’re done in front of a computer screen and on Skype and on the telephone; but we do get to travel a good bit and that’s really the perk of the business, that’s what keeps us going for 24/7. I’m sure it’s the kind of thing you do Larry, people think it’s a lot more glamorous; at the end of the day, it’s a really nice job though.
Larry Jordan: It is. The glamour comes in listening to it, not necessarily in producing it.
Paul Lasley: Absolutely and Elizabeth listens to all of my stuff, because I can’t bear to listen to myself.
Larry Jordan: Well you have nothing to be ashamed about, in terms of a professional set of pipes; as they like to say. How do you decide where to travel and what to cover?
Paul Lasley: Well, it’s a process. Elizabeth and I live the world of travel and we try to look at things that are trending; we look at technology, of course, which is a huge part of travel today. It’s revolutionized travel over what it was even five or ten years ago. We utilize all of that; we read incessantly, we get four or 500 emails a day; from various travel sources, and things like that, around the world. That gives us a sense of what’s happening and what we should be doing. Then we choose topics out of that.
Larry Jordan: Does your interview show follow a standardized format, or is it different every day?
Paul Lasley: It’s very conversational; very similar to what you do. We really have conversations, rather than say a strict Q&A format or something like that and we find that’s much better. Especially if we’re interviewing senior people in the travel business, what we find is that, they have a static pitch; this is what they do and travel people are talking constantly. By having a conversation, we’ll come up with very interesting angles and ways to maybe approach their product a little bit better.
Paul Lasley: Sometimes it’s not so much about the product that they’re promoting, but rather, oh I don’t know, something really interesting about technology. Royal Caribbean, for instance, has incredible Wi-Fi access on their ships now and that was a whole other subject that led to several interviews with their tech people; because, really what they’re doing is Wi-Fi that’s about as fast as most people have at home.
Larry Jordan: Now wait a minute. I’m spending $800 million to go on a cruise, so I can sit in front of my computer and post on Facebook. What’s wrong with this picture?
Paul Lasley: People do and that’s the amazing thing. You know, I’ve been in this business, I don’t want to say forever, but I’ve been in the business long enough to know that, at one time you had to go to the ship’s radio room and they would telex something off for you, or something like that. There were phones in the rooms, but no television; nothing like that. That’s barely 20 years ago and they have Wi-Fi as good as your home.
Larry Jordan: Our Producer is getting ready to take a cruise herself and has been demanding that we not contact her, because there’s no Wi-Fi. But now I know the secret. She is in such trouble right now.
Paul Lasley: I’ve blown her cover.
Larry Jordan: How do you keep your audience interested? It’s a radio show about places you go to see? This is a challenge.
Paul Lasley: We hold pictures up to the microphone. No I joke about that. It’s a cliché to say radio is the theater of the mind, but it truly is when it comes to travel. We can talk about glaciers caving and, you know, blue sky in Alaska and we don’t have to have that. But we’re able to draw word pictures and that seems to me to be very satisfying.
Larry Jordan: A phrase that I read on your website is that podcasts are frozen radio. What does that mean to you?
Paul Lasley: A lot of people have asked us what a podcast is and radio, to me, is a very dynamic medium. But if we turn it into a podcast that you can digitally download and listen to at your convenience, then that becomes frozen, in a way. I think it’s a very exciting medium and, of course, it has a whole resurgence going on right now. A lot of people are getting into it that never would have thought they would and I think that’s very exciting as well.
Larry Jordan: When you travel, do you talk about the place you’re visiting, or are you interviewing people at the location? Is it more of an environmental study, or an interview for subject matter?
Paul Lasley: Both, it depends. Elizabeth and I will do shows where it’s just us talking about interesting things that we’ve come across; but I love to interview people. For instance, once we were doing the Dorchester Hotel in London; gorgeous hotel. The thing that stands out to me is an interview with did with the doorman. We started off by saying, wow, you must have stars and crowned heads and all these royalty coming to you and everything else. He said, well we do, but the thing that means the most to me and my staff are the newlywed couples who’ve saved for months, if not years, to spend their wedding night in the Dorchester. We are so good to them, it would surprise everyone.
Larry Jordan: It’s not the famous people, it’s the people that have worked to earn the privilege.
Paul Lasley: Amen and I think that’s true for all of us in the travel business. Elizabeth and I are in the business of fulfilling people’s dreams; helping them fulfil their dreams and giving them good straight advice. That’s what, at the end of the day, all most people want; they really want somebody to say, hey, you’ve made the right decision, or this is the right way to go. That’s very satisfying.
Larry Jordan: Before we let you go, let’s talk tech for just a minute. What kind of gear are you using in your studio?
Paul Lasley: Well I work on Apple, but I have two Sennheiser 440 dynamic microphones and we have a couple of headsets, actually, that we use. You know, I use loopback a lot in the process of recording in Skype; which I do constantly and it’s gotten much, much better over the years. Then, of course, we will talk to anybody on a landline, on satellite phones and even on cell phones and it works very, very well.
Larry Jordan: What kind of turnaround time do you give yourself? I assume the 29 minute show is not live?
Paul Lasley: No, it’s taped; well both shows are taped. But we can turn it around in a couple of days. We don’t do breaking news, because, when we put it up on the satellite it goes up the following week and we can’t really control what day that runs and the time zones and, of course, we’re in 145 countries; so who knows, you know. We try and stay away from real breaking news, but we try and cover timely subjects.
Larry Jordan: As you look back on it, and you’ve got way too many shows to remember all of them; I have trouble remembering breakfast; but what’s a couple of memorable interviews that you’ve done?
Paul Lasley: Oh, memorable interviews. Well I think, one of the most memorable interviews occurred in London, when we talked to the Royal Curator of the Royal Collection. Everything that the Queen owns is kept in like a museum like environment and we interviewed him and, I’ll never forget, we were in Holyrood House, in the Royal residence actually, and interviewing this guy. He’s Lord somebody or other; I can’t remember exactly at this moment. But we’re on a sofa that is one of these overstuffed down sofas and we kept sinking down. By the end of the interview, he and I were actually almost prone on this sofa.
Paul Lasley: I’ll never forget that, but it was wonderful because he said, now don’t get carried away by the Rembrandts and the Vermeers and all this amazing stuff that we have; just remember, we also have the largest collection in the world of Victorian washstands. It was a great interview and, you know, it was after we met Prince Charles; so, it was very nice.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information, where can they go on the web?
Paul Lasley: The website is Ontravel and it is a podcast for everything that’s there.
Larry Jordan: That website is ontravel.com and Paul Lasley, along with his co-host, Elizabeth Harryman, run the site. Paul, thanks for joining us today.
Paul Lasley: Thank you Larry, it’s a pleasure.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye-bye.
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Larry Jordan: J.J. Kelley is a twice Emmy nominated Director and Correspondent; he is also a Senior Producer at Explorer, which is National Geographic’s flagship documentary series. His work has taken him to all seven continents and he’s currently hosting a new adventure series for the Travel Channel. Hello J.J. welcome back.
J.J. Kelley: Hey Larry, it’s a real pleasure.
Larry Jordan: You know, I was just calculating, it was six years since you and I last spoke on this show; it seems like it was at least six years ago. It’s good to have you back again.
J.J. Kelley: It’s been far too long, thank you so much.
Larry Jordan: How would you describe what you do?
J.J. Kelley: Well, I get goosebumps when I go to work; I do really love what I do. My job consists of being in an office for maybe 40% of the time, preparing to go out into the world; and then the other 60%, I’m out there on two week assignments, sometimes less, sometimes more, you know, really at various locations all around the world.
Larry Jordan: How did you connect with National Geographic?
J.J. Kelley: It has been a pretty long and amazing road with the company and it really goes back to doing an internship. You know, 12 years ago, I started to make my own films and, you know, this was back when HDV was coming around and you could buy professional or Prosumer cameras and they were at your fingertips and you could make your own film. Editing software; you know, Final Cut Pro was coming up. Really the power was starting to be taken away from these big production companies and put in the hands in the every person and I was the every person at the time that this was coming around and I started to make my own films.
J.J. Kelley: My senior year in college, I took a film that I made and I sent it to National Geographic and I said, goodness, will you give me a job on this film. They said, get lost buddy, you really haven’t done a whole lot and I said, okay, fair enough, would you give me an internship and they said, okay, we’ll give you that. I got an internship and that led to Production Coordinator jobs, Associate Producer, Producer and then Senior Producer; which is what I do now.
Larry Jordan: Do you find yourself doing more producing, or more reporting on camera?
J.J. Kelley: I have a short attention span and maybe that’s a good thing; maybe that’s a bad thing. You know, I’ve spent a couple of years of my career editing and assistant editing and kind of learning the ins and outs of Avid and Premiere and Final Cut. I’ve spent two years of my career being a Director of Photography, shooting for National Geographic. I’ve spent a little bit of time over at Vice and shot for Discovery; really working just as a DP. Then most of my career it’s been as a Producer; but, you know, a lot of what I do is working with On Camera Correspondents and together we hash out a story, you know, we decide what the important beats are and we really tell it together. It just became a natural evolution that, you know, working with them on what they should say, I kind of had a sense for what should be said and my bosses took a chance on me and said, well why don’t you step out from behind the camera and get in front of it?
Larry Jordan: As you are looking at it from a Producer’s point of view, what were some of your more unusual destinations?
J.J. Kelley: Oh, my goodness, I love this question, because I really get to go to some of the most incredible places in the world. Last year, for me, was probably my best year, in terms of just getting out there. I went to all seven continents last year and the coldest one, you know, really stood out as being the most challenging and rewarding, in terms of video production; that was Antarctica, of course. Going down there and deciding the camera equipment to bring, you know, knowing that there is no B&H, you know, there’s no Adorama; there’s no way to get replacement parts, basically, you’re going to be down there for four months. At times it will be negative 40, negative 70 degrees and you need to have everything with you to make a television show.
Larry Jordan: Just trying to keep the gear warm enough to function, at temperatures that low, is a challenge in itself; separate and distinct from what you record. How did you do it?
J.J. Kelley: I learned a ton. I’ve never been to anything quite that cold. I grew up in Northern Minnesota, so I knew, you know, negative 40 wasn’t completely foreign to me; but I really hadn’t done a lot of filming in that environment. Cameras are incredibly robust; for that shoot we had the Sony FF7s and, for that, because any time you send a filmmaker down to the frozen continent, you kind of have to boot out a scientist; so the science community down there wants to disseminate the information that they’re learning down there, but they also want to continue to get information; so they only let a select amount of people down there.
J.J. Kelley: Five other really intrepid individuals and I went out to Antarctica and we were charged with making a six hour mini-series for National Geographic; so we had to be our own one man band. That meant doing sound, sometimes three channels of independent audio, doing all the filming and producing a fully complete story; so, you know, I had two of everything.
J.J. Kelley: The cameras were incredibly tough, what wasn’t as tough were the LCD screens. Sometimes it would be so cold, I’d be living in a tent, I’d be charging my batteries with a generator and I remember it would get down, it would dip to negative 50 and I couldn’t feel my fingers and there was a good scene going on, it was a crazy blizzard, I thought, this is going to be great film, this is going to be great television; I’ve got to stay with this. Then the entire monitor just goes white; it just goes white and I can’t see what I’m filming in front of me. I bump to F16, there really are no trees, there’s nothing in the background.
J.J. Kelley: Anyway, I’m thinking, whatever I’m filming is probably going to be in focus right now, let’s just stick with it and, you know, sure enough, it ended up being a great scene and the camera kept ticking; it was just, I couldn’t see what I was doing.
Larry Jordan: When you are going on location, clearly you have to take more than a camera. What do you feel is an essential part of your kit, if you exclude the camera?
J.J. Kelley: I’ve been doing this for a little while now, about 12 years kind of out there in the world and I’ve come to the point in my career where, if I’m not using it every day I am going to leave it back home; because it is slowing me down. Sometimes, on more risky assignments, if it’s slowing you down, then it’s putting your life at risk; so I really kind of bring the bare bones. It depends how many people are going to be with me; how many people I can hand the gear out to, so everybody can kind of have their own part.
J.J. Kelley: I was just in Central Congo and I had a decent sized crew; there were four of us that went over there and I was able to hand bits and pieces out. You know, if I can bring a drone over today, I love a drone; I love the aerial perspective. I like to get up in the air, whether it’s an establishing shot for a scene, beautiful b roll, I love to have a drone with me. I’m going to need to have wireless audio; audio is so critical, it’s so important camera side; you need to understand what people are saying, otherwise, the message is just completely lost. I always wear a little DSLR camera around my neck, because I love to take photographs; so I always have my A7s II with a Leica 35 Prime around my neck; so any time I shoot a scene, I can get a photo, just to remember for myself.
J.J. Kelley: See now those kind of bare bones parts, you can do a lot with that. If you know you’re going to be in a dangerous situation, maybe you can leave that tripod behind and you can get by with a Cine … or you can just set the camera down. You know, it’s really deciding, how much time am I going to have? How many times am I going to be moving location? Is my life going to be at risk if I bring too much stuff? It really is kind of tailor-made to the very shoot that I go on.
Larry Jordan: Now some shoots, they just let you wander on your own, other shoots you’ve got minders; think of it as PR people that are keeping an eye on you. How does your shoot change when you’re being minded?
J.J. Kelley: Oh the minders, the minders. It definitely restricts the message that you’re going to be telling. A lot of times if I’m going to a place, like I was just in the Gaza Strip and, going over there, you have to apply for a film permit of what you’re going to be doing and you really have to be pretty vague when you’re telling them what you’re going to be doing; if you think what you’re going to be doing could be annoying to them.
J.J. Kelley: We went in these tunnels where there are goods that are kind of brought in and out of the country and it’s illicit travel through these tunnels. On our main film permit you know, you have to be honest, you can’t lie when you’re going into these places; but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a little bit oblique with what you’re going to do. When you’re actually on the ground and you have these minders with you, you know, there are various tricks that you can use. You never want to lie; because lying, in a place like the Gaza Strip, where you have a group like Hamas around, could get you at risk.
J.J. Kelley: We had an amazing situation where the correspondent was talking about these illegal tunnels and said, sometimes the Israelis say that suicide bombers are going through the tunnels and the minder didn’t hear us correctly and thought that we said, suicide bombers are going through these tunnels. We said, the Israelis say, so we qualified it and they didn’t quite catch the details, because they didn’t speak great English; so they pull us into a Hamas holding cell, where we were surrounded by people with AK47s and then it was a matter of, we’re going to play the tape, if you’re lying then, you know, potential orange jumpsuit kind of consequences.
J.J. Kelley: We were really questioning the correspondent, like, did you say the Israelis say that they do this? She was like, yes, I’m a good journalist, I’m confident, I’m sure that I said that and they weren’t going to let us leave until they heard exactly what she said. We said, okay, I trust you and we played them the tape; sure enough she said the right thing, they understood it correctly and they let us go. But you can’t be deceptive in front of these minders, because, you know, it really could have some pretty awful consequences.
Larry Jordan: A big challenge is just getting your gear across the border. How do you make sure that you come back with the gear that you went in with?
J.J. Kelley: We hope and pray that everything comes back; nothing’s nipped. I mean, it depends on how much stuff you bring and National Geographic, you know, is known for taking beautiful images, pretty pictures; so, sometimes that means bringing a good bit of gear. You know, sometimes that means bringing big cinema lenses; a long lens; a macro lens. It could mean bringing the bigger drone. Sometimes you’re going through with anywhere from seven to 18 excess baggage cases and you really want to know your airline that you’re flying on and make sure that they have a media rate; because otherwise that could cost you, you know, $10,000, if you go with the wrong airline and they charge you per kilo.
J.J. Kelley: Once you get over there, I mean, I really rely on local Producers. If I go to a place like the Congo, I’m hiring a solid local Producer, who I know, who I’ve worked with before, who’s been vetted, who’s going to have local porters that can help out; is going to have the right vehicles, that aren’t going to break down; is going to have backup vehicles. Then, you need to go to a lot of countries in the world with something like a film carnet, which lists every piece of gear that you have. I live in New York, when I fly out of JFK I go to customs and they’ll look at this list and they’ll point to various items and I have to show them that I have those items and I have to show them that I have those items when I get back as well; because if I don’t, my company could get fined pretty heavily.
Larry Jordan: Well there’s no shortage of excitement in your life, that’s for sure. For people that want to know more, where can they go on the web?
J.J. Kelley: Go to jjkelley.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, jjkelley.com and J.J. thanks for joining us today. This has been amazing.
J.J. Kelley: Thanks so much Larry. Have a great night.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye-bye.
Larry Jordan: You know, I was just thinking about how audiences are evolving. This was sparked by the Nielsen company announcing this morning that it will offer networks and studios data on who is watching programs using streaming video on demand services; which will complement the ratings it already provides on traditional delivery systems, such as broadcast and cable. The broadcast audience has been shrinking for years, but no-one has a good idea on how much of that audience is actually lost; versus watching these shows on streaming media. Nielsen hopes to fill that information gap.
Larry Jordan: If you think back just a few years, the idea that watching video on a computer would be as easy, or as popular as watching video on a TV, would have seemed the realm of science fiction. Today, for many of us and most in the Buzz audience, I suspect, this is a normal way of how we live our lives. I’m really curious to see whether the audiences for these programs are, in fact, smaller; or simply finding different ways and different times to watch the same program.
Larry Jordan: This is just something I’m thinking about and, as always, I’m interested in your opinion.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank this week’s guests, Paul Roberts from Adobe Systems; Ned Soltz from RedShark News; Jonathan Handel from the Hollywood Reporter; Paul Lasley from On Travel Media; J.J. Kelley from the National Geographic Channel; and James DeRuvo with doddleNEWS. There’s a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Here you’ll find thousands of interviews, all online and all available to you today and remember to sign up for our free weekly show newsletter, that comes out every Saturday.
Larry Jordan: Talk with us on Twitter @dpbuzz and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Our theme music is composed by Nathan Dugi-Turner; with additional music provided by smartsound.com. Text transcripts are provided by Take 1 Transcription; visit take1.tv to learn how they can help you. Our Producer is Debbie Price, my name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to the Digital Production Buzz.