J.J. Kelley, Senior Producer and Correspondent, National Geographic
Tom Coughlin, President, Coughlin Associates, Inc.
John Pritchard, Founder/Director, The One Heart – One Spirit Project
Terence Curren, Founder/President, Alpha Dogs Inc.
James DeRuvo, Senior Writer, DoddleNEWS
Announcer: The Digital Production Buzz is brought to you by KeyFlow Pro, media asset management software, designed to meet the needs of work groups at an affordable price.
Larry Jordan: This week, we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the US and this holiday gives us an opportunity to share some of our most popular recent interviews with you. We start with JJ Kelley, he’s a senior producer for National Geographic. We were fascinated by his stories of shooting video from the wilds of the world.
Larry Jordan: Tom Coughlin, president of Coughlin Associates, has had a long career in both engineering and storage. Tonight we hear his insights on Cloud storage.
Larry Jordan: John Pritchard is the producer and director of the documentary, One Heart, One Spirit. He explains what it takes for an indie film to win a film festival, and whether it’s worth it.
Larry Jordan: Terry Curren, president of Alpha Dogs, continues our ongoing discussion of the impact machine learning is having on our industry and our jobs. There’s both good and bad news here.
Larry Jordan: All this, plus James DeRuvo, with our weekly doddleNEWS update. The Buzz starts now.
Announcer: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking – authoritative – one show serves a worldwide network of media professionals – current – uniting industry experts – production – filmmakers – post production – and content creators around the planet – distribution. From the media capital of the world in Los Angeles, California, The Digital Production Buzz goes live now.
Larry Jordan: Welcome to The Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for the creative content industry, covering media production, post production and marketing around the world.
Larry Jordan: Hi, my name is Larry Jordan. Today is Thanksgiving in the US, probably my favorite holiday because it reminds us to stop and say thanks to all the good people, and for all the good circumstances in our lives. For this reason, the Buzz team is taking the evening off to celebrate with friends and family. Because of the holiday, we decided it would be fun to share some of our favorite interviews from the last several months. These span from July through October of this year. We enjoyed them the first time we heard them, and hope you’ll enjoy hearing them again.
Larry Jordan: By the way, I want to invite you to subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Every issue, every week provides quick links to all the different segments on the show, plus articles of interest to filmmakers. And best of all, it’s free and comes out every Saturday.
Larry Jordan: But though today is Thanksgiving, the news never stops, not even for holidays which means it’s time for our weekly doddleNEWS update with James DeRuvo. Hello James.
James DeRuvo: Larry, let me be the first to wish you a happy turkey day.
Larry Jordan: A very happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.
James DeRuvo: And back to you.
Larry Jordan: So what have we got? We still have news happening this week even though most of the world has taken the day off. What have you got?
James DeRuvo: While everybody is watching football and filling themselves to the gullets with turkey, Kodak is announcing a new 360 degree camera called the Orbit360 4K. What makes it interesting is that whilst it has dual juxtaposed super wide angle lenses at 197 degrees, each one has a 20 megapixel CMOS sensor, so instead of sharing the load, they each have their own dedicated sensor which is pretty cool. It offers three different modes including standard 360, full frame 4K from its front facing camera, and a special dome mode which captures 235 degrees of the spherical spectrum, so you can get that kind of little planet dome action going.
Larry Jordan: How would you describe the camera itself?
James DeRuvo: It’s really small. Kodak’s 360, it’s very action camera like. It’s got this really tiny footprint, and like the GoPro Hero, it has the ability to attach to a wide variety of camera mounts. This makes it an interesting competitor to GoPro’s Fusion which is twice as big and Samsung’s Gear VR which has pretty much fallen by the wayside.
James DeRuvo: GoPro may still have a leg up when it comes to the over capture feature that comes in 2018 and their Angel view, but competition is always a great thing for users. Even in VR.
Larry Jordan: I’m so sorry, even in VR. I tell you that’s an amazing statement from you sir. That’s the Kodak Orbit360 4K camera, what else you got?
James DeRuvo: I’ve been into 3D printing for about a year and a half now where you can pretty much design and 3D print your own props and parts and camera tools. I’ve been looking around, there’s a whole bunch of wide variety sites, and when you have an issue where like for me the other day, I lost a lens cap and I didn’t want to wait two days to order one from Amazon, so I 3D printed my own lens cap. 3D printers can be a great tool for those last minute replacement parts and everyday filmmaking tools. I’ve been searching through the web and I’ve been finding tools like those cable locks that you can attach to the side of your DSLR so that your cables don’t pull out and break. Follow focus gears, even grip heads and barn doors for your home brew lighting kits. Why not 3D make them? It’s a pretty interesting little industry and hobby. There’s a wide variety of 3D model sites out there offering designs for free including Thingieverse.com and myminifactory, and thanks to sites like Tinkercad and easy to use software like Fusion 360, you can even customize and make your own original designs.
Larry Jordan: You’ve been doing this printing for a while. What factors do you need to keep in mind when you’re doing your printing?
James DeRuvo: I like to call it the high maintenance girlfriend of the creative process, because you have to juggle a whole bunch of different factors, including extruder temperature, bed temperature, keeping your filament free of humidity and being sure that even your 3D model’s free of flaws. There’s actually whole websites out there where you can upload your model, and it will analyze it and repair it if there’s any sections missing. You have to juggle a lot of things, but when you 3D print a part that you broke within a few minutes, or that prop that you designed for your short film project, the benefit of this tool becomes abundantly clear and I honestly believe that it’s going to change the world. There’s going to come a point where we don’t remember our life without a 3D printer in the home.
Larry Jordan: Well I’m expecting a bunch of 3D printed Christmas presents from you, so get to work on it.
James DeRuvo: Funny you should say that, I’ve already designed them.
Larry Jordan: Alright, so we’ve got 3D printing, and what else is going on?
James DeRuvo: DJI has announced a new drone partnership with State, Federal and local governments. It’s called the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle UAS, Integrated Pilot Program, with the aim of standardizing and balancing regulations that don’t stifle innovation and balancing it with keeping public safety always at the forefront. The program will develop safer drone flight technologies, evaluate regulations and test new forms of management procedures and DJI is even giving drones to local governments to test themselves, so that they can develop those new procedures.
Larry Jordan: Well what do you see as DJI’s goal here?
James DeRuvo: I think their goal is to create a kind of balance between public safety and this emerging billion dollar industry. It’s no secret that the use of drones has exploded and many government organizations are struggling to keep up with regulations that keep public safety in the forefront. We’ve had near misses of airplanes, we’ve had drones crash into crowds and we’ve got these idiots that fly their drones in forest fires so they can get footage to sell to CNN. DJI is seeking to develop a balanced approach that would manage public safety and preserve it without strangling this industry, so it’s worth giving it a try because now it’s kind of like the wild west out there.
Larry Jordan: That’s DJI working with governments on regulations. What other stories are you covering this week?
James DeRuvo: Vimeo announcing support for the Mivo live streaming camera, it’s a 4K camera that they call a TV studio in your pocket. Beginning Friday there are Black Friday deals galore, and we’re looking for every single one of them.
Larry Jordan: What do you mean, beginning Friday? I think it started last week.
James DeRuvo: They really should call it Black November now. I’ve been getting emails nonstop for about the last week.
Larry Jordan: James, where can people go who want to keep track of the latest news in our industry?
James DeRuvo: All these stories and more can be found at doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo is a senior writer for doddleNEWS, and joins us every week and James, have yourself a wonderful Thanksgiving, we’ll talk to you next week.
James DeRuvo: You too, happy holidays.
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Larry Jordan: JJ 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 JJ, welcome back.
JJ 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.
JJ Kelley: It’s been far too long. Thank you so much.
Larry Jordan: How would you describe what you do?
JJ Kelley: Well, I get goose bumps when I go to work. I do really love what I do, so my job consists of being in an office for maybe 40 percent of the time, preparing to go out into the world and then the other 60 percent I’m out there on two week assignments, sometimes less, sometimes more, at various locations around the world.
Larry Jordan: How did you connect with National Geographic?
JJ Kelley: It has been a pretty long and amazing road with the company. It really goes back to doing an internship. 12 years ago I started to make my own films, and this was back when HTV 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, Final Cut Pro was coming up, so really the power was starting to be taken away from these big production companies, and put in the hands of the every person. I was the every person at the time that this was coming around, and I started to make my own films. My senior year in college, I took a film that I made and I sent it to National Geographic and said “Will you give me a job for this film?” They said, “Get lost buddy, you really haven’t done a whole lot.” I said, “Well OK, fair enough, would you give me an internship?” And they said, “OK, we’ll give you that.” So I got an internship and it 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?
JJ Kelley: I have a short attention span and maybe that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I’ve spent a couple of years of my career editing and assistant editing and learning the ins and outs of Avid and Premiere and Final Cut. I spent two years of my career being a director of photography shooting. For National Geographic I spent a little bit of time over at vice, and shot for Discovery, really working just as a DP, and then most of my career I’ve spent as a producer, but a lot of what I do is working with on camera correspondents and together we hash out the story. We decide what the important beats are and we tell it together. So it just became a natural evolution that 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 “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?
JJ 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 it was probably my best year in terms of just getting out there. I went to all seven continents last year, and the coldest one 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, knowing that there is no B&H, 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’ll 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?
JJ Kelley: I learned a ton. I’d never been to anything quite that cold. I grew up in northern Minnesota, so 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 FS7 and because any time you send a filmmaker down to the frozen continent, you 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. So me and five other really intrepid individuals went down to Antarctica and we were charged with making a six hour miniseries for National Geographic. We had to be our own one man band and that meant doing sound, sometimes three channels of independent audio, doing all the filming and producing a fully complete story.
JJ Kelley: So I had two of everything, and 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 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, great television, I got to stay with this, and then the entire monitor just goes white. It just goes white, and I can’t see what I’m filming in front of me. So I bump to F16, there really are no trees, there’s nothing in the background anyway. I’m thinking, whatever I’m filming is probably going to be in focus right now, let’s just stick with it, and 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 essential part of your kit if you exclude the camera?
JJ 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 bring the bare bones, and it depends how many people are going to be with me, how many people I can hand the gear out to so everybody can have their own part. I was just in the Central Congo and I had a decent size crew. There were four of us that went over there, and I was able to hand bits and pieces out. So 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, I love to have a drone with me.
JJ Kelley: 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 A7S2 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. So you have those 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 … or you can just set the camera down. It’s really deciding how much time I’m going to have, how many times am I going to be moving locations? Is my life going to be at risk if I bring too much stuff? So it really is tailor made to the very shoot that I go on.
Larry Jordan: 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?
JJ Kelley: Oh 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, 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. We went in these tunnels where there are goods that are brought in and out of the country and it’s elicit travel through these tunnels. On our main film permit, 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. So when you’re actually on the ground and you have these minders with you, there are various tricks that you can use.
JJ Kelley: 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. 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 pulled 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 potential orange jump suit consequences.”
JJ Kelley: So the correspondent and I were really questioning ourselves. It’s like, “Did you say the Israelis say that they do this?” and she’s like, “Yeah, I’m a good journalist, I’m sure that I said that” and they weren’t going to let us leave until they heard exactly what she said. So we said, “OK I trust you” and we played them the tape and 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 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?
JJ Kelley: We hope and pray that everything comes back. Nothing’s nipped. It depends on how much stuff you’re bringing. National Geographic is known for taking beautiful images, pretty pictures, so sometimes that means bringing a good bit of gear. Sometimes that means bringing big cinema lenses, a long lens, a macro lens, it could mean bringing a bigger drone. So sometimes you’re going through with anywhere from seven to 18 excess baggage cases and you really want to know the airline that you’re flying on and make sure that they have a media rate, because otherwise that could cost you $10,000 if you go with the wrong airline and they charge you per kilo.
JJ Kelley: So once you get over there, 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, who’s going to have the right vehicles that aren’t going to break down, he’s going to have back up vehicles. Then you need to go to a lot of countries in the world with something called a film carnet which lists every piece of gear that you have, and I live in New York, and 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: 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?
JJ Kelley: Go to JJKelley.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, JJKelley.com, and JJ thanks for joining us today. This has been amazing.
JJ Kelley: Thanks so much Larry. Have a great night.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Tom Coughlin is a Silicon Valley consultant, a storage analyst, and the organizer of the Annual Storage Visions and Creative Visions Conferences. Storage is critical to media creation which is why it’s always good to have Tom back on the show. Hello Tom, welcome back.
Tom Coughlin: Hi Larry, thank you very much. It’s good to be back.
Larry Jordan: Tom, this week we’re talking about storage, specifically Cloud storage, and before we get into that though, what got you interested in storage in the first place?
Tom Coughlin: Well I’m actually an engineer by background. I’ve worked on digital storage technologies and applications for three decades, so it’s kind of in my blood.
Larry Jordan: How would you define Cloud storage?
Tom Coughlin: Well Cloud storage would be a digital content that’s being stored in large data centers or on premise where it’s accessible to the internet, with public networks.
Larry Jordan: What makes Cloud storage different from local storage?
Tom Coughlin: With local storage you’re usually talking storage that’s within a facility being used directly for an application or for instance, media and entertainment for post production. Generally when people are talking about Cloud storage, they’re talking about storage that’s accessible remotely and it could be used for things where people are trying to do collaborative projects and want to share content with somebody who’s far away, to do collaborative workflows. The difference between what’s in the Cloud and what’s local is generally where the storage is actually located, and how you access that content.
Larry Jordan: Is gear for Cloud storage different than the gear we use for local storage?
Tom Coughlin: Generally, it’s not. But one thing that is different about the Cloud storage, especially large Cloud storage providers, is because they have such a volume of equipment they buy, that many of these people, like Amazon or Google, or Facebook, they define to manufacturers what they want. They may have large IT departments themselves and a lot of times they’ll buy off the shelf components, they’ll use software to configure it and make it do what they want it to do. Especially for smaller facilities, you know, they oftentimes have a lot more resources than some … in house storage.
Larry Jordan: Who are the big players in Cloud storage today?
Tom Coughlin: There’s a lot of people that are providing Cloud storage or have storage in the Cloud, folks who work particularly in the media and entertainment space. There are smaller ones, but the larger ones would be Google, Amazon, and Microsoft is also working in that area. There’s a lot of smaller players as well who are doing various things in Cloud storage.
Larry Jordan: When we’re debating what storage to use, when should we consider putting our data in the Cloud, and when should we keep our data local?
Tom Coughlin: The reasons why people put things in the Cloud is one, if they’re doing something collaborative, and they want somebody to be able to access it remotely. Another reason that people put things in the Cloud is to basically move what otherwise might be a capital expense to buy storage equipment into an operating expense, where you’re hiring a service including backup and all of the IT operations with the content. So there’s a few different reasons why people will use Cloud for various applications.
Larry Jordan: What’s interesting to me is your definition of a Cloud which is basically a remote server with web access, the issues that we deal with with storage, whether its local or Cloud, are pretty much the same. The gear is the same, it’s just whether we need the collaboration aspect it sounds like is the key difference? True?
Tom Coughlin: Well there’s two key differences. One is whether you want to manage the assets yourself, which you would do with on premise, or if you want to do something where somebody else is managing it, that’s one reason. And the other thing is to enable collaboration and sharing of content.
Larry Jordan: How concerned should we be about the security over our data in the Cloud?
Tom Coughlin: There’s always a question, you know, if you’ve got content available to the internet, how safe it’s going to be. The folks that are providing these services though have done a lot to create encryption, other ways of ensuring privacy and that this data is not accessible to people who aren’t supposed to get it. And also if you’ve got a larger facility with enough storage you can often get dedicated space within a data center, where the content’s going to be kept. So there’s various things to be done to make the Cloud more secure. But if you get down to it, if you don’t want anyone ever to have the possibility of accessing it, keeping it local, keeping it unconnected would be the best idea.
Larry Jordan: As we’re picking a storage vendor, what questions should we ask them to determine whether this is the right storage vendor for us?
Tom Coughlin: Things to look at would be what they call a service level agreement, which is the agreement that’s made, what kind of service they’re going to provide, what kind of availability they’re going to have, how many … whether it’s located in more than one place or the data’s replicated geographically so that for instance if one site goes down, it’s available from another site. There’s a number of different things that can be in the service level agreements that have a lot to do with it. And of course the more things you’re asking for generally the more expensive it’s going to get, so those are some of the tradeoffs you make in getting those services.
Larry Jordan: I’ve had the great pleasure of speaking at some of your storage conferences, and you’ve been covering the storage industry with your conferences for many years. Why did you decide to start them?
Tom Coughlin: I decided to start them because I thought that visual storage is playing a very important role in the media space, and events that focused on that would be valuable to people in the industry, so that’s why I started Creative Storage. The other conference Storage Visions I started because I think in general that storage is playing an extremely important role that the idea and the vision of where storage is going will have a lot to do with what we can do with the content we’re creating. With so much unstructured content being created, particularly unstructured content not like data in databases, but data that doesn’t have as much information on how to find things, how we deal with that in videos is one of those. How we deal with that’s very important and the tools that enable us to do that I think are the cutting edge of what makes artificial intelligence and big video projects, big data projects in general, possible. So Storage Visions conference this year in Milpitas, California is going to have a particular focus on unstructured data storage and its application.
Larry Jordan: Who would benefit most by attending one of your conferences?
Tom Coughlin: Geared towards people with niches in technology, those that make technology and those that use the technology, whether it be from the component side or from the systems side, or people that are making applications, using storage content.
Larry Jordan: What are your attendees trying to accomplish when they attend the show?
Tom Coughlin: There’s a number of different uses, all the way from people within the industry being able to connect, and for people who are making use of those tools and services to be able to find out and evaluate those tools and services on site, in an environment where they can catch a lot of things that are going on in the industry, digital storage and its applications in one place.
Larry Jordan: What do you see as the future of storage? Are we fading out on spinning disks and coming into something different? Or is it pretty much the same for the next several years?
Tom Coughlin: Well things are changing an awful lot. There’s a big move towards solid state storage where you need the speed of the performance. But there’s also still a place for people that are keeping content for a long period of time in which case, they may trade off the price for some longer latencies, or a bit slower performance, and that’s places where … or even magnetic tape or optical disks can play a role. So I think we’re going to see a lot of different storage technologies in place for some time to come, as long as they’re cost effective, you have that tradeoff between cost effective as storage versus performance. Even some new technologies coming in, especially in the solid state area where there’s things like non-volatile memories that may bring in architectures that would bring the computing power closer to the storage content which will dramatically change the way that we do computation, rendering, the analysis of data to create metadata, to be able to find new stuff and even to be able to create content in new and faster ways. For instance what if I could do CGI whilst …? If I could really fast rendering to fill in some content and make some changes I want to make. Those things may be possible with some of these new computer architectures.
Larry Jordan: Tom for people that want to attend your next conference, where is it, when is it and where do they sign up?
Tom Coughlin: So the Storage Visions Conference is going to be October 16th, 2017. It’s going to be in Milpitas, California. The website is storagevisions.com and welcome everyone to come there. It’s keeping stuff, or making use of the stuff you’ve got, this is the place you can find out the best tools, new visions and ideas of what people can do and in the not too distant future.
Larry Jordan: Tom, for people who want to keep track of all the stuff that you and your team are working on, where can they go on the web?
Tom Coughlin: You can go to tomcoughlin.com which is my site, and also you may be interested in the Entertainment Storage Alliance site which is entertainmentstorage.org.
Larry Jordan: So a couple of those websites, for the conference it’s storagevisions.com, and to keep track of what Tom and his researchers are doing visit tomcoughlin.com and Tom Coughlin is the founder of Tom Coughlin and Associates. Tom thanks for joining us today.
Tom Coughlin: Thanks so much Larry. Glad to talk to you again.
Larry Jordan: John Pritchard is an award winning educational filmmaker, multimedia producer and publisher. His newest film, One Heart One Spirit, just won Best Indigenous Documentary at the 2017 Melbourne Documentary Film Festival in Australia. Hello John.
John Pritchard: Hey Larry, how’s it going?
Larry Jordan: I’m talking to you, it’s going great. By the way, congratulations on winning the award, we’re going to talk about that more in just a minute.
John Pritchard: Many thanks.
Larry Jordan: How would you describe One Heart One Spirit?
John Pritchard: This is a film that has been in the making for a number of years, but it takes place in Northern Australia where there is a Festival of Aboriginal Wisdom that is shared with the outside world every August since about 1999 and a couple of thousand people come to this Garma Festival. Garma is an Aboriginal word that means coming together in harmony, and it’s essentially the only place in the world where people from the outside can go and learn about the 40,000 year old traditions and culture of the Aboriginal people. My film is unique in the sense that a very close friend of mine who’s a Native American elder, who is of Micmac and Mohawk heritage, travelled to Australia and was doing a storytelling tour and was invited up to this festival, and essentially a couple of filmmakers followed him around for three days, and that’s where we got the footage. That’s really the essence of the film which is the essence of indigenous wisdom, that we’re all one human family, we’re all connected and we took that message and are now bringing it to colleges and universities on a world tour.
Larry Jordan: I can understand the value of the festival, but why did you decide to turn it into a film?
John Pritchard: This was a long process that started with our executive producer who lives in Sydney and we worked together very closely in New York City back in the 90s and the Native American elder is someone that we worked with in a band called Sinh-Tala where he played his Native American flutes, Greg played guitar and I played drums, percussion and keyboard. We played all over New York City and put an album together which is the soundtrack for this album, but we all went our separate ways in the early days of the dot com era, 97, 98. Greg went back to Australia and he really had this vision of getting Ken to meet with the Aboriginal folks up at this festival and it took a number of years but it finally happened. The subject matter and content was very new to me being that it was an Aboriginal festival. I’ve gone to many Native American pow wows, but there’s something very unique about Australian Aboriginal people, even finding out that our human heritage goes back to Australia, not to Africa. The folks that focus on the journey to Eve 180,000 years ago in Africa have now started to re-write their research and it’s now going back to Australia interestingly.
Larry Jordan: What was the purpose of the film? Now that it’s done, what are you doing with it?
John Pritchard: The purpose is to share the heart of indigenous people everywhere which is to have not only respect for each other, but also for the earth. So these are two very timely issues as we know with our current political scene, kindness is not necessarily an operating word, and certainly environmental justice has had to take a big slap in the face during the last year. But both these issues of human kindness and caring for the earth are at the earth of indigenous people all over the planet, and this message, we believe, as a filmmaking team, is crucial to bring to the world, and especially to college kids. People that are at the heart of their own career building, about to go out into the world, and as much as we can do to introduce them to these very simple indigenous principles of respect, being less materialistic, thinking seven generations ahead.
Larry Jordan: John, take a breath. We’re going to run out of time, so I understand the film has value but I also want to talk about the fact you decided not just to send it to college kids, but you wanted to send it to a film festival. What was the role of the film festival?
John Pritchard: The big search that every filmmaker needs to go through is to find or create a festival lift that is going to be showcasing the subject matter that their film contains, and for us obviously looking at different film festivals in Australia, this one in Melbourne had an indigenous focus and we knew there would be quite a number of films that we would be competing against, but at the same time the director in particular there had a specific passion for helping get the indigenous message out. So what I recommend to all filmmakers, which is a little bit of stating the obvious, but if you can really go through the hundreds of film festivals and find the ones that really resonate with your message, the most important thing you can do is try to contact the director of that film festival and not unsurprisingly, they are accessible, and their goal is to get your film seen and if it’s in a competitive category, to help you do as well as you can to win. We found the Melbourne film festival to be extremely helpful all the way through from the moment we entered to getting articles written by local magazines and online blogs. The critical component is really to search and find the festivals that match your film. Does that make sense?
Larry Jordan: Yes, what did you do to win? Did you have to do anything special in terms of marketing or the media?
John Pritchard: The main thing that we had to do was stay in the eye of both the film director and his team and once they went through their process of looking at all of the different films that were in this category of Indigenous Documentary films, they had let us know that we were high in the running. I think it’s probably different for example with Sundance which we’re entering in another week, and you have a much larger pool of films that are not necessarily in a particular category other than documentary and feature and so on.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information about your film, where can they go on the web?
John Pritchard: createkinderworld.org is where people can go and also download a free guidebook.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, createkinderworld.org not .com, and John Pritchard is the publisher and the director of One Heart One Spirit. John, thanks for joining us today.
John Pritchard: Thanks so much Larry.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Here’s another website I want to introduce you to. doddlenews.com. doddleNEWS gives you a portal into the broadcast, video and film industries. It’s a leading online resource, presenting news, reviews and products for the film and video industry. doddleNEWS also offers a resource guide and crew management platforms specifically designed for production. These digital call sheets, along with their app, directory and premium listings, provide in depth organizational tools for busy production professionals. doddleNEWS is a part of the Thalo Arts Community, a worldwide community of artists, film makers and story tellers. From photography to film making, performing arts to fine arts, and everything in between, Thalo is filled with resources you need to succeed. Whether you want the latest industry news, need to network with other creative professionals or require state of the art online tools to manage your next project, there’s only one place to go. doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: Terence Curren is the founder and president of Alpha Dogs, a Burbank based post production facility that he started back in 2002. Terry is also the host of the Editors Lounge, a regular gathering of post production professionals interested in improving their craft. Hello Terry, welcome back.
Terence Curren: Thanks Larry, I always enjoy these confrontations.
Larry Jordan: I always enjoy talking with you, because if there’s one thing I can count on, it’s the fact that you never ever have an opinion.
Terence Curren: I guess you know me well.
Larry Jordan: Terry, we’ve just discussed the basics of artificial intelligence with Philip Hodgetts, so what I’d like to do is to focus more on its impact in our industry with you. So, what are your thoughts? Is AI a good thing, or are we doomed?
Terence Curren: Wow, that’s a great question. Well let me put it this way, ultimately we are doomed I think. But right now, what’s really important is to focus on being creative. The reason I put it that way is that, yes, at some point in time, artificial intelligence will become as intelligent as human beings, and then one second later, it’s smarter than we are, and a day later we’re cockroaches compared to it. When that happens, which is hopefully a long way off, the rosy predictions are like 2040. The less rosy predictions are much later than that, so it’s a ways off, but there are stages, as Philip’s talked about of AI, and the ones that are going to immediately start replacing jobs in our industry are the mundane jobs, logging footage, syncing dailies, that kind of stuff, which is why I tell people, focus on the creative, because that’s the hardest thing for AI to do, the creative thing. That muse that strikes and gives you an idea of how to put two things together that you shouldn’t put together, that all the rules say don’t put together, but somehow it makes an amazing end result. So that part is going to be the last thing to be replaced so if you want to be in this industry and to continue to work, focus on the creative.
Larry Jordan: Now when you say focus on the creative, it sounds like what you want us to do is look more at the craft of editing as opposed to the technology?
Terence Curren: Exactly. Because from the technology standpoint, that’s going to be the easiest thing to replace, technologically so to speak. Philip ten years ago was showing his First Cuts which would string out footage into a basic rough cut and then the editor could go in and just fine tune it. That eliminates the mundane part which is what he was trying to do. But it also eliminates a job that an assistant editor would traditionally do. So if you’re doing anything that’s very repetitive, if it’s something that someone can be taught within a few days, you’re probably going to get replaced sooner than later. That’s why I really recommend focusing on the creative side because that’s the part that’s going to be the hardest thing to replace with artificial intelligence in the long run.
Larry Jordan: Putting aside the emotional aspect of people losing their jobs which is very similar to the old joke of “Other than that, Mrs Lincoln, did you enjoy the play?” Is it really a bad thing that we’re streamlining our workflow?
Terence Curren: No. I’m not a Luddite. I think that the technological improvements that we’re making everywhere, not just in our industry, but in general, make our lives better and have the promise of making our lives better throughout. The problem is that we have a society based on a minimum of a 40 hour work week work ethic and we’re moving to a society where there just won’t be that much work that needs to be done, and how do we restructure our society so that we can enjoy the benefits of all of this technology, and not feel guilty that we’re not working hard enough?
Larry Jordan: Or more importantly, how can we enjoy the benefits of all this technology, and live while making less money?
Terence Curren: Yes, which is the whole universal basic income discussion which is probably an entirely different show.
Larry Jordan: If you’re a young editor starting out, what advice would you give? Should they embrace this technology, should they fight against the technology, and how should they structure their career?
Terence Curren: Ooh, well, if somebody was starting out now, and wanting to be an editor, I would tell them the same thing that I was saying back when I was teaching editing classes around 2000. That is, if you can imagine yourself doing anything else for a living, you should go do it, because our industry is so difficult and so competitive to get in and then make a decent living at, that unless you can’t imagine doing anything else, you probably won’t have the drive for the long run that it takes to build a career. That said, if you are one of those people who can’t imagine doing anything else, then just do it. Edit as much as you can, edit for friends, look at your local film school and offer to edit director’s projects. Wherever you can edit, and that’s how you get the chops, and the connections that eventually will lead to a career.
Larry Jordan: Terry, for people that want more information about what you’re doing and Alpha Dogs itself, where can they go on the web?
Terence Curren: alphadogs.tv for Alpha Dogs, editorslounge.com for the Editors Lounge, and theterenceandphilipshow.com for your dose of Philip and I debating various things.
Larry Jordan: Bring extra coffee when that occurs. That website is alphadogs.tv and Terence Curren is the founder and president of Alpha Dogs. Terry, this has been fun, thanks so much for joining us.
Terence Curren: Thanks for having me Larry.
Larry Jordan: You know, I was just thinking. It’s easy in these days to get discouraged. It seems that each day brings its own share of bad news, and we certainly don’t need to go out of our way to find it. That to me, is why Thanksgiving is so important. Bad news rises up and slaps us in the face, but good news, good friends and good family surround us so much that all too often we take them for granted. Thanksgiving reminds us to stop and give thanks. As folk who specialize in telling stories with moving images, there have never been better times than these. Yes, budgets are falling, but so are barriers that prevented many of us from even entering the industry. Gear is more affordable and higher quality than ever. Distribution channels that used to be controlled by the few are open to almost all of us, and audiences are eager for and receptive to new programming
Larry Jordan: Now I don’t deny that as an industry we have major challenges, but I also want to affirm that we also have major opportunities. Every time I pick up an HD camera, I’m reminded of how hard it was to record a professional grade video image when I started in television. Equipment that used to require trucks to carry, now fits in my hand. Back then, getting an audience to see what I created required a broadcast television station. Now it simply requires uploading a file to YouTube. In the past, we could only work with the people who were near us. Now we can easily access creative talent from around the world.
Larry Jordan: Life is never perfect, nor easy, but it has also never been better. I prefer to think of the glass as half full, and growing. Have a very happy Thanksgiving, and thanks from me, for being part of the Buzz family.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests for this week, JJ Kelley with the National Geographic, Tom Coughlin of Coughlin Associates, John Pritchard of One Heart, One Spirit, Terry Curren of Alpha Dogs, and James DeRuvo of doddleNEWS.
Larry Jordan: There’s a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website, at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Here you’ll find thousands of interviews, all online and available to you today. Remember to sign up for our free weekly show newsletter that comes out every Saturday.
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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 and have a happy Thanksgiving.
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