Boris Yamnitsky, Founder and President, BorisFX
Aharon Rabinowitz, Head of Marketing, Red Giant
Jim Tierney, President, Digital Anarchy
Pete Litwinowicz, Co-Founder, RE:Vision Effects, Inc.
James DeRuvo, Editor-in-Chief, DoddleNEWS
Male Voiceover: The Digital Production Buzz is brought to you by KeyPro Flow, media asset management software, designed to meet the needs of work groups at an affordable price.
Larry Jordan: Tonight on the Buzz, we are looking at plugins. What they are, how they’re made and trends that plugin developers are watching for 2018.
Larry Jordan: We start with Boris Yamnitsky, founder and CEO of BorisFX. Their product lines include Boris Continuum Complete, Mocha and Sapphire.
Larry Jordan: Next is Aharon Rabinowitz, head of marketing for Red Giant. Their product lines include Magic Bullet, Trapcode, and Universe.
Larry Jordan: Next is Jim Tierney is the founder and CEO of Digital Anarchy. Their product lines include Beauty Box, Flicker Free, and Transcriptive.
Larry Jordan: Next is Pete Litwinowicz is the co founder and CEO of RE:Vision Effects. Their product lines include Effections, RE:Match and Twixtor.
Larry Jordan: All this, plus James DeRuvo with this week’s 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. Tonight we’re talking about plugins, those small but indispensible pieces of software that fit into your editing system. There’s a whole industry devoted to creating them, and tonight we’re talking with four companies that solely exist to create plugins. Most of them tend to be smaller companies, and all of them have fascinating stories. This is a group of people that I always enjoy talking with.
Larry Jordan: Also this week, CES opened in Las Vegas. CES is mostly focused on the consumer market, but still, a few goodies for filmmakers were announced, and James DeRuvo will include them in his update in a minute. Next week, James and I will spend more time talking about the significance of CES announcements to our industry, both in terms of products and trends.
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 the different segments on the show, plus articles of interest to filmmakers. Best of all, it’s free and comes out every Saturday.
Larry Jordan: Now it’s time for our doddleNEWS update with James DeRuvo. Hello James.
James DeRuvo: Hello Larry.
Larry Jordan: So what’s the news?
James DeRuvo: Well this week is CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, and honestly the most exciting thing to hit the showroom floor this week may have been the power outage that knocked the show’s electricity out for about two and a half hours.
Larry Jordan: Oh my goodness.
James DeRuvo: Other than that, we had a few shining spots of light for filmmakers in a dark sea of Smart cars and virtual reality gadgets.
Larry Jordan: Well let’s look for those shining lights for filmmakers. What’s first on your list?
James DeRuvo: Panasonic announced the GH5s. This is an updated version of their current GH5 design. It’s aimed square at film production, the updated GH5 offers fewer pixels, but those pixels are larger, so you get better low light performance. It also has true ten bit Hybrid Log-Gamma HDR, and internal 4K 60 recording. The part I like, there’s no recording limit now outside of the size of your SD cards and she takes two.
Larry Jordan: Well what attracts you to this camera?
James DeRuvo: The thing I like about this camera is that Panasonic wasn’t afraid to dial back the megapixel count and focus on how to more effectively capture the light. All too often the temptation is to stuff a sensor with more pixels thinking that more is better, but it’s easy for more noise to get invited into the party. So the trend towards fewer pixels being larger for more light sensitivity, makes for more accurate colors without having to deal with background noise that can muddy the image. And that effectively undoes all the sensor’s trying to do to capture more detail.
Larry Jordan: OK, that’s Panasonic with their new GH5s. What’s next on your list?
James DeRuvo: DJI announced two new handheld camera gimbals this week. The DJI Osmo 2 is a vast improvement over the previous handheld gimbal. It supports smartphones with capture to either portrait or landscape mode, and we all know that portrait mode is evil. Plus, button control for digital zooms, app setting adjustment and three times longer battery life. Did I mention it’s only $129? Then there’s the DJI Ronin-S which is a handheld gimbal that supports DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, and this one is really cool because it has a self balancing adjustment feature which corrects itself based upon which lens the user adds to the camera. So if you make a lens change right in the middle of your shoot, the Ronin-S will rebalance itself. Plus it works in concert with your camera’s image stabilization scheme, and both gimbals supported through the DJI Go app.
Larry Jordan: Well tell me what a gimbal does, and why these things are important.
James DeRuvo: A gimbal uses a series of electric motors around the three axes of space that a camera occupies, and those gimbal motors make subtle counter movements to dampen out any camera shake that occurs when a camera starts to move. Think of it as the next step in steadicam like technology. It’s solid state, and it’s very small and a lot lighter. You don’t have to wear that big gigantic rig anymore. Gimbals are all the rage now because they’re handheld. Perhaps even too much. We speculated that the technology is perhaps overused, but I don’t see these gimbals doing anything but continuing the trend, and honestly, I think I may have to get one myself.
Larry Jordan: OK, so those are two new handheld camera gimbals from DJI. What’s third on your list?
James DeRuvo: Sadly, GoPro’s getting out of the drone business. With sales numbers that were the worst since the company went public in 2014, the action camera company has once again announced it’s laying off nearly 300 employees and getting out of the drone business for good. CEO Nick Woodman stated that a combination of a saturated UAV market, and more restrictive regulations pertaining to drone use, contributed to lower sales of the GoPro Karma drone, and let’s face it, that recall two years ago didn’t help either. Woodman is also reducing his CEO salary to a dollar a year, and confirmed that the company has hired Goldman Sachs to explore a potential sale or merger.
Larry Jordan: Last week you said that perhaps the worst of GoPro’s troubles were behind it. What happened?
James DeRuvo: Well, I thought they were, I think everybody thought they were. I had hoped that the worst was behind them for sure, and that maybe a smarter generation Karma drone would come out later this year as a result. But sadly that’s no longer the case as the company is simply trying to turn around again in 2018. Though the drone recall hurt any future for the Karma, I think that Woodman is onto something with these restrictive drone regulations affecting the sales of the drone category as a whole. They’re not the first company to get out of this category, and they may not be the last. The only question is, can GoPro survive 2018 intact?
Larry Jordan: So that’s the latest news out of GoPro. What other stories are you following?
James DeRuvo: Other stories we’re following included Canon admitted that when it comes to cameras, they’re just not that into innovating. Red Giant is teaming up with an indie music group for a music video contest, and Razer has a cool new laptop that merges your mobile device into it. Are you ready to cut your next film on a smartphone? But the question is, will it ever see the light of the saleroom floor?
Larry Jordan: For these and other stories where can we go on the web?
James DeRuvo: All these stories and more can be found at doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: Well James that brings up a good point. Last week we congratulated you on your new role with doddleNEWS as Editor in Chief. What are your plans? I know you want to be all singing and all dancing, but what are you concentrating on as you develop the site, say for the next quarter or so?
James DeRuvo: Well Larry, I’m excited to have this opportunity and I have some pretty big shoes to fill because Heath was a fantastic boss. I’m really going to miss his touch, but I’m confident that Doddle’s best days are ahead of it, and we have some pretty great plans for 2018 including expanding our readership, providing the same great combination of tech and movie reviews, coverage of NAB, and more. There’s also our work here on the Buzz.
Larry Jordan: Well when you say the combination of tech and movie news, what does that mean to you?
James DeRuvo: We cover the latest tech tools that filmmakers can use to streamline their workflow and make their shooting a lot more affordable, a lot better. We also keep our pulse on movie news, as let’s face it, you’re not a filmmaker unless you’re a fan of movies, and your love of movies doesn’t end just because you make them. So we like to give our filmmaker readers movie news as well but from a filmmaker point of view. So that’s the reason why we do a combination of tech and movie news, but we also do the reviews of a lot of the tech gadgets that we highlight, so we’re going to be doing a lot more of those this year so if you’re looking to buy a new piece of technology, stay tuned because we’re going to be having some great stuff that we’re going to test and review in the near future.
Larry Jordan: Very cool. James DeRuvo is the Editor in Chief of doddleNEWS and joins us every week with the doddleNEWS update. James, have yourself a great week, enjoy CES, and we’ll talk to you about it in detail next week.
James DeRuvo: OK Larry, take care.
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Larry Jordan: Boris Yamnitsky is the founder and president of leading plugin developer, BorisFX. Since 1995, BorisFX has created powerful, time saving, post production software tools and plugins for visual effects, editing, finishing and motion graphics. Its award winning product line includes Continuum, Sapphire and Mocha Pro. Hello Boris, welcome.
Boris Yamnitsky: Hello Larry.
Larry Jordan: How would you describe BorisFX?
Boris Yamnitsky: Today BorisFX is a plugin development company comprised of historically three separate development teams, and product families. One is the Boris Continuum which started in the 1990s, the other two are Mocha, coming from the Imagineer system, the award winning tracking and masking system for visual effects. The third one is Sapphire, originally developed by GenArts which was merged with BorisFX in 2016.
Larry Jordan: I want to talk about your acquisitions in a minute, but you’ve been creating plugins for over 20 years. What changes have you seen as plugins have evolved over that time?
Boris Yamnitsky: Oh many. 20 years ago, actually plugin development was very simple because the plugin market didn’t really exist, or was rather poor and software VFX were very limited. So a lot of the fresh new plugins were quite simple and limited. In the past 20 years obviously the plugin market and plugin technology matured, and the sophistication level is quite high. There is a lot of image processing and a lot of sophisticated math that goes into plugin development these days. Today is the domain of what I think of as specialists. The companies and teams that specialize in visual image processing, and specialize in very fine detailed VFX workflow. For example, we were just now recognized by Advanced Imaging Society in Hollywood for our technology achievement and we’re picking up the award next week in Beverly Hills.
Boris Yamnitsky: So what I’m saying is, it is very much a sophisticated field these days.
Larry Jordan: You’ve mentioned that you’ve acquired a number of companies recently, Mocha and Sapphire. When do you decide to acquire technology, and when do you decide to develop it on your own?
Boris Yamnitsky: I tend to think of these events more as mergers rather than acquisitions because it basically is a meeting of like minded teams and like minded companies. You know, the main drive here is to take the best out of the existing technologies and existing products and put them together and see how they make sense together. For example, when we integrated Mocha tracking and masking into Boris Continuum three years ago, that was so significant and popular with our customers. Same thing happened just a few months ago when we put Mocha into Sapphire. That was of huge benefit for existing Sapphire customers, probably the biggest change in Sapphire product in quite a few years.
Boris Yamnitsky: So that’s what basically drives me, that fact that you can roll up your sleeves, dig in and see what’s best in each piece of software, and see how you can leverage that best within a larger product family.
Larry Jordan: How do you deal with the fear that the host application, Final Cut, or Premiere, or Avid, will add a feature that you’re currently selling or developing as a plugin?
Boris Yamnitsky: OK, that’s a great question Larry. Thanks for asking by the way. This is the story of my life for the past 20 years, it’s absolutely exactly what’s happening. I strongly believe that image processing is a pretty sophisticated field which is better left to specialists or companies and teams that invest very heavily in the field. Companies who study the state of the art research, companies that put a lot of investment into development. So you know, I’m always staying one step ahead of the game.
Larry Jordan: How do you determine which plugins to create?
Boris Yamnitsky: For the most part it’s user driven. We obviously talk a lot to our customers, we do a lot of face to face interaction over user groups and internet and chat. But also we’re trying to think one step ahead and just trying to predict what the next big thing in VFX is going to be and sometimes we introduce effects or features that no-one really expected. Sometimes they become very popular.
Larry Jordan: What’s the process you go through when creating a plugin?
Boris Yamnitsky: First of all, it goes through market research or talking to customers as I mentioned, trying to understand what are their challenges, what are the difficult parts of it? Then study state of the art research and study state of the art technology that’s available. There are quite a few challenges out there arising from broadcast standards, from regulation. For example, we recently developed a broadcast … for a filter that allows you to make a project broadcast … because like most of the visual treatment these days come with very heavy color and image treatment. Sometimes we’re jumping outside of the little color range, it becomes a big problem, or like flash photography, or there are all kinds of challenges that modern video makers, broadcasters, post production is dealing with on a daily basis.
Boris Yamnitsky: So we naturally research the area and respond with our best solutions.
Larry Jordan: I know the process varies by plugin, but in general, how long does it take to create a plugin? Are we talking a couple of months, or a couple of years or what?
Boris Yamnitsky: Oh, that depends. That depends on the magnitude of the challenge. Sometimes we actually get lucky and sometimes we create something very interesting in quite a short period of time. Other plugins, or other features, they may take many months. More than one release cycle, we try to release products on about 12 month cycles, or like refresh and update our products in our family on a 12 month cycle. But sometimes, like the … talk process where it takes more than 12 months to get something right and get it out there.
Larry Jordan: Well, that brings me I think to the most obvious question, which is what are some of your latest products that have survived this whole development cycle?
Boris Yamnitsky: We just completed in 2017 the V11 versions of Sapphire and Continuum, and that was actually significant because that was our first product release where the two teams were working together, sharing code and sharing know how. So there was a lot of benefit on both packages from that. As I mentioned, Sapphire got the excellent Mocha tracking and masking system, and Continuum actually recently acquired rights to the Primatte Chromakey, so that was a big boost to the Continuum users. In addition to that, we jumped into the brand new VR space, so Continuum has the VR unit now.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information about your products, where can they go on the web?
Boris Yamnitsky: It is www.borisfx.com for all three brands, Continuum, Sapphire, and Mocha.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, borisfx.com and Boris Yamnitsky is the founder and president of BorisFX, and Boris thanks for joining us today.
Boris Yamnitsky: Thank you Larry, it’s been a pleasure.
Larry Jordan: Previously a motion graphics and visual effects artist, Aharon Rabinowitz is the head of marketing at Red Giant and the executive producer of Red Giant Films. Hello Aharon, welcome back.
Aharon Rabinowitz: Hey Larry, thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: How would you describe Red Giant?
Aharon Rabinowitz: Red Giant is a software company that makes tools for artists, animators, visual effects artists, filmmakers, that kind of thing.
Larry Jordan: Red Giant’s been creating plugins for a long time. What changes have you seen as plugins have evolved over the years?
Aharon Rabinowitz: The biggest thing that I’ve seen and become the biggest focus, is speed. We’re always adding new features but if you want to see really where there’s kind of a change in the focus, was getting things done quickly. I mean, we’ve always talked about that over the years, but with the GPU, suddenly everything has become much more focused on making things faster, and that’s obviously been a theme. Once that came to Premiere Pro for example, everybody wants to jump on that and make editing crazy fast if they can.
Larry Jordan: You have a wide range of effects and plugins that Red Giant has created over time. How do you determine which plugins to create?
Aharon Rabinowitz: The great thing about working at Red Giant is that a lot of us are people who actually do this stuff professionally, motion graphics, visual effects, filmmaking. So we tend to just design the tools that we want to have when we go out there working. So whether we’re making a film, which is something that Red Giant does regularly, or doing motion graphics, we kind of find ourselves saying, “Oh I wish we had this” and then we just put our brains together and working with an amazing engineering team, we make stuff that we want to have.
Larry Jordan: When you think about it, plugins are like the tail of a very big dog. You fit within the environment of an NLE, whether it’s Avid or Adobe or Final Cut or somebody else. How do you deal with the fear that the host application will add the capability that you’re developing as a plugin?
Aharon Rabinowitz: Oh my god, a lot of not sleeping. It’s a big concern always because we are dependent on these bigger host applications and for Red Giant, especially Adobe because the stuff is very popular in Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro, we’re constantly trying to do our best to have a really good dialog with the various host application makers. So whether it’s Avid or Adobe or Apple, we do our best to communicate often and early so that we can make sure that our stuff survives there and flourishes because at the end of the day, the people who are using it are the most important. It’s not about us or the software companies we’re working with to develop this stuff. We don’t want the people who are being creative to have an interruption in that process because our tools suddenly stop working from a new update. It happens occasionally, but only because like small details can get missed between that communication, but we do everything in our power to make sure that we are always on top of these things.
Larry Jordan: Red Giant has been known for making standalone plugins for years. Recently you branched out to create Universe. What’s Universe?
Aharon Rabinowitz: Red Giant Universe is our fastest growing adopted product. It’s 76 tools for editors and motion graphics artists that runs in pretty much every popular host app like Premiere Pro or Avid or DaVinci Resolve. It’s a series of visual effects and motion graphics tools and also transitions and they are GPU accelerated because again, coming back to that theme of fast. We wanted to create a set of tools that could be just used by editors to get stuff done fast and probably the thing that we come back to again, is this idea of creating stuff we wanted. These are all the tools that I’ve always wanted but couldn’t have because the development cycle for so many of our other tools takes a year, as we go through these big things. In Universe we get to make little tools that we really love, and they become very popular, so it’s kind of a pleasure to see this stuff cranking out constantly. We’re constantly updating it, and then seeing them out there used by editors and motion graphics artists.
Larry Jordan: Well is Universe Effects in the cloud?
Aharon Rabinowitz: It’s not in the cloud any more than I guess Adobe After Effects or Premiere Pro are in the cloud. Your licensing I guess is in the cloud, but the tools exist on your computer. If you disconnect from the cloud your tools still work. They’re just a set of tools that we license through subscription, and it’s actually been a real eye opener. It’s the first set of tools that we’ve done through subscription and the amount of people jumping on that has been huge. So it makes us think maybe that’s the kind of thing we might want to do more of in the future, but it’s been pretty amazing.
Larry Jordan: Aharon, Red Giant makes a wide variety of products. It used to make plugins that you could purchase by themselves, and now you’ve got Universe. Does that mean that all of your software is now available for subscription or can we buy plugins standalone?
Aharon Rabinowitz: You can buy most of our products as standalone or what you’d call the old licensing way where you buy the license and then you have it. Red Giant Universe is our only subscription product. It’s been incredibly popular, so obviously it’s the kind of thing we think about for all of our products, but that’s the only one that’s available by subscription. Everything else is perpetual license.
Larry Jordan: What happens with our access to the plugin when we no longer subscribe? Say we have a legacy project, are we losing access to that data?
Aharon Rabinowitz: Yes. I mean, the same way that you’d lose access to After Effects or Premiere Pro, it’s the same kind of thing. But again if you needed to reactivate that for a project, if you had a change of a project and you’re being paid by your client, for $20 you can just reactivate that for the month and go from there.
Larry Jordan: Shifting back and putting your development hat back on, what’s the process of developing an effect for Universe?
Aharon Rabinowitz: Oh it’s great. It’s probably the most artist friendly from a design perspective. This is something that when we created, we tried to find a way that would let artists like myself, because I’m not really a coder, I know a little bit, be able to create stuff. So we used a system where we built hundreds of building blocks of like different, very small effects, and then using code to call one of those effects in, we basically say, “Bring me the blur, bring me this glow, let’s add them together, let’s do a couple of other little things, let’s add some mathematics into it, to make these things more random.” We end up with a tool that from the development side is very friendly for us to develop the tools we want without having to go through the full engineering process that we would normally go through for something like Magic Bullet for example.
Larry Jordan: So what’s your turnaround time? Is development days, weeks, months or years?
Aharon Rabinowitz: You know, it really depends. The thing is more testing than anything else. We can turn around a plugin in a week, after internally messing with it and having fun with it. But of course we want to test it internally then we want to go through a beta process where people start asking for features. So that process takes a little bit longer, but it’s not being held up by resources where engineering isn’t available, it’s being held up more by the process of us wanting to do the best version of that product that we can do.
Larry Jordan: What trends are you keeping an eye on for 2018?
Aharon Rabinowitz: The funniest thing I think about the fact that we’re in this industry where we’ve worked so hard to create visuals that are cutting edge and high quality, high resolution. We’re finding that the most popular thing right now in terms of tools as far as the kinds of things editors are doing for example is, they want looks that are retro type looks. I’m not saying that this is like our focus as a company, but it’s always interesting to see that people want to make their awesome new footage look like it’s old and more legit in its weird way. We can see the metrics on Universe what people are using the most, and it’s pretty amazing that people want to make their awesome, high res footage look like it was shot on a VHS camera. It’s just amazing. But we’re also seeing again, we come back to speed. Universe is built on speed. We’ve released a new version of Trapcode that is GPU accelerated for particular and we’re hoping to expand that to other Trapcode tools. But people want less to do more, then they can do faster. Yes, everyone always wants to do more, but speed is the turnaround times that everyone has so we keep an eye on that. What is it that people are doing? What are they trying to get done faster, and just try to answer that?
Larry Jordan: Earlier this week you announced a contest. What’s your contest?
Aharon Rabinowitz: My favorite band of all time is They Might Be Giants, and I noticed that they were running a contest to have a music video made from their fans, and I reached out to them and said, “Your fans are awesome, I’m one of them, so I guess I’m awesome, but they’re not filmmakers. I think we can help you because I think our audience is the same kind of audience that you guys like. Quirky, technologically interested and fun people and maybe we can get our audience to help you.” They were super stoked by the idea. I have to say that John Flansburgh who called me, he made this joke about liking our company name, Red Giant, They Might Be Giants. It took me four hours before I got it. I was so focused on the work aspect of it, and I was like, “Oh I totally missed that.” I don’t know, but we talked and it just made a lot of sense to do this contest together and maybe do another one a little bit later too that’s even more focused on visual effects. But right now, we’re just trying to help bring our audience to help them make an awesome music video, so head over to their site, theymightbegiants.com and you can just apply to enter the contest and you can win $3,000 plus everything that Red Giant makes as a part of that.
Larry Jordan: And for people that want to go somewhere on the web to learn more about the products Red Giant makes, where do they go?
Aharon Rabinowitz: Head over to redgiant.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, redgiant.com and Aharon Rabinowitz is the head of marketing for Red Giant. Aharon, thanks for joining us today.
Aharon Rabinowitz: Again, thanks so much for having me.
Larry Jordan: Jim Tierney founded Digital Anarchy in 2001 specifically to develop plugins to simplify creating visual effects, and as always he’s always working on a new version of something. Hello Jim. Welcome back.
Jim Tierney: Hey Larry, how you doing?
Larry Jordan: I’m doing great, and we’re talking plugins tonight, so how would you describe Digital Anarchy?
Jim Tierney: You know, we’ve been creating visual effects plugins for the last 17 years and we try and bring cool tools that are powerful and easy to use to video editors.
Larry Jordan: As you’ve been doing this for so long, how have plugins evolved since you started?
Jim Tierney: It’s still mostly the same type of thing, because we’re plugging into different host applications so the host applications have changed now. FCP 10 definitely wasn’t around 17 years ago, but the act of it is mostly the same. I think one of the big changes is that we’ve tried to make the plugins much easier to use, simplifying things, realizing that most editors don’t have time to spend ten hours learning how to use a plugin. Making sure that it does what it’s advertised to do, and does it simply is a big deal for us.
Larry Jordan: How do you deal with the fear that the host application will add the capability that you’re currently developing or selling as a plugin?
Jim Tierney: I think we just ignore it. You know what I mean, because you just don’t know what they’re going to do and it’s just part of doing business that the host app could potentially add that functionality. Hopefully they come talk to us if we have the best solution for that and they want to add something like that. But it’s just another one of the business risks that you deal with.
Larry Jordan: Adobe doesn’t share their road map for the next three years with you?
Jim Tierney: Not really. They share a little bit of it, and of course Apple doesn’t share any of their road map with us ever. So you get some sense of what’s happening and what’s important to them but sometimes stuff comes out of the blue. So far we’ve been mostly fortunate that there hasn’t been too many of our products that have been made obsolete by built in features.
Larry Jordan: How do you determine what plugins to create?
Jim Tierney: A lot of it comes down to what needs we see, and what we’re capable of doing. There are certain things that we don’t have the expertise in, like 3D stuff. We just don’t have that, that’s not in our wheelhouse. A lot of times we’ll have ideas, and say “Alright that’s an amazing idea, how do we do this?” and then it sits on the shelf for a year or two before some of the technology comes along that enables us to do it the way we want to do it. There’s no point in doing half assed products so we really need to be sure that whatever you’re harnessing is really going to solve the issue that you’re trying to fix.
Larry Jordan: Well what would you describe as in your wheelhouse? What are your strengths?
Jim Tierney: Two dimensional, 2D image processing, that’s what Beauty Box is. Flicker free. So just image processing generally. Then we’re always looking for ways to broaden what we do and that’s where Transcriptive came out of. It’s similar to what we do but it’s definitely not image processing, so it’s a little bit of a departure from our normal stuff.
Larry Jordan: Well that gets me to some of your new products because I know Transcriptive has been evolving quickly over time. Tell us what the latest releases are.
Jim Tierney: We released 1.0 in September, and we’ve just been doing small revs, and we just released 1.03 which adds the ability to use YouTube as a speech service. They’re super accurate and it’s free. It’s a pretty slow process to do it that way but that’s one option and listening to what people keep telling us what they want and just trying to wrap that into the product as fast as we can.
Larry Jordan: How should editors determine which plugins to add to their system? I mean, clearly they should buy all of yours, but what criteria should they set?
Jim Tierney: It really comes down to what do you do? If you’re doing compositing, there’s no point going off and buying Transcriptive. It’s not the appropriate thing there. But if you’ve got 100 hours of video that you’re trying to sift through, then buying something like Transcriptive makes total sense. It just really comes down to what do you do the most often, and what kind of products are out there that will make that easier for you? Everybody’s got a different workflow and a different thing that they specialize in, so it’s tough to say, “You need to have this tool, that tool and that tool.” You just have to look at like, “What do I do all the time and are there plugins out there that will make my life easier?”
Larry Jordan: Thinking of making my life easier, what trends are you watching for 2018?
Jim Tierney: For us, the big thing is just artificial intelligence and machine learning. That’s what Transcriptive came out of. I think the big thing for us is how do we make searching video easier? Transcriptive’s a big part of that, turning all the dialog into text so you can search it. Some of the stuff that’s on our roadmap is object recognition to go through a video and find key words to all the different things in the video so that you can usually search it and find it. So for us I think that’s one of the bigger trends.
Larry Jordan: And for people that want to keep track of both Transcriptive and the rest of your products, where can they go on the web?
Jim Tierney: digitalanarchy.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, digitalanarchy.com and Jim Tierney is the founder and president of Digital Anarchy, and Jim it’s always fun to talk to you. Thank you for sharing your time.
Jim Tierney: Alright, thanks Larry.
Larry Jordan: Take care. Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Here’s another website I want to introduce you to. doddlenews.com. doddleNEWS gives you a portal into the broadcast, video and film industries. It’s a leading online resource, presenting news, reviews and products for the film and video industry. doddleNEWS also offers a resource guide and crew management platforms specifically designed for production. These digital call sheets, along with their app, directory and premium listings, provide in depth organizational tools for busy production professionals. doddleNEWS is a part of the Thalo Arts Community, a worldwide community of artists, film makers and story tellers. From photography to film making, performing arts to fine arts, and everything in between, Thalo is filled with resources you need to succeed. Whether you want the latest industry news, need to network with other creative professionals or require state of the art online tools to manage your next project, there’s only one place to go. doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: Pete Litwinowicz, along with Pierre Jasmin, cofounded RE:Vision Effects in 1998. Prior to RE:Vision, Pete worked in the advanced technology group at Apple, and before that, he worked at Aurora Systems where he helped support and develop early digital paint and 3D animation systems, which is really cool. Hello Pete. Welcome.
Pete Litwinowicz: Well thank you, hi Larry.
Larry Jordan: How would you describe RE:Vision Effects?
Pete Litwinowicz: Well we’re a company who makes plugins which is add ons to your favorite compositing and editing apps, and our goal is to fill in the holes where the host apps can’t get to what we can fill in to help you out.
Larry Jordan: So why did you and Pierre decide to start the company?
Pete Litwinowicz: Well, we had been working on a movie together, and we decided that we wanted to start a company and sell software to people who make movies because the process of making a movie, while incredibly fun, was very stressful and so we decided to start a business which of course wasn’t at all stressful, I kid. We just like making software and making pictures with software, and we work really well together, so we decided to start a company.
Larry Jordan: You’ve been creating plugins for almost 20 years. How have plugins evolved over time?
Pete Litwinowicz: Oh gosh, I think there were a lot more companies doing plugins because there were more holes in the host applications. As we have matured as a video and post production industry, those holes get slowly filled in, so what I see is people filling in niche areas that are either very difficult mathematically, I think that’s what we do best, or just in ways that people aren’t thinking about including as features to their software, you know, being able to read files off the internet and do interesting things with spreadsheets and turn that into motion graphics, or turn that into some kind of animation.
Pete Litwinowicz: I think the plugins themselves have gotten more sophisticated because the holes that were present 20 years ago, have been filled in by the host apps because they’re really good at what they do too. They’ve had time to fill in those gaps.
Larry Jordan: Well you’re dancing in the same room as a crazed elephant. How do you deal with the fear that the host application will add the capability that you’re developing a plugin for?
Pete Litwinowicz: That’s a constant, I’m not going to say fear because I feel comfortable in that space, but it’s a constant stress element. One way is that we’re really good at what we do in terms of math, particularly our company. So we dance in that space by trying to be better, faster and sometimes the host app providing a similar feature than what we provide as a plugin is actually a boon, because what happens is the host will expose a feature, say retiming using optical flow which After Effects did many years ago. And we thought, “Oh, gosh, we’re going to see sales of our Twixtor plugin go down the tubes.” Actually it was just the opposite. What happened was people were exposed to the idea, and then found that they wanted something better, so you know there’s many ways that these holes can be filled in, not just whether it’s a feature check box, you know what I mean?
Pete Litwinowicz: But at the same time, we do worry about those things. For instance, we’re playing in a space where doing slow motion is being suddenly filled in by cameras that can do slow motion. You don’t need to do it as much in software. Of course you always need to do something in software because your DP or the director may not film it the way you like, and you need to change it in post anyway. But there are more options if you have more frames. We’re playing with space on both hardware and software. But we like it, we like being there.
Larry Jordan: You like the stress.
Pete Litwinowicz: Yes, like I said it’s minor stress. It’s not major stress any more. It was major stress maybe ten, 15 years ago when we were still trying to earn enough money to eat, you know what I mean? So we’re doing OK.
Larry Jordan: So how do you determine which plugins to create?
Pete Litwinowicz: A number of factors. One is we tend to gravitate towards things that we like to do. If we want it, we assume someone else wants it. That said, we also do look at trends, and we look at what people are doing today. For instance, there’s a lot of 360 workflow, and we said, “Well how do we get in that space?” We don’t want to do what everybody else is doing because that’s covered. So we try to find the holes once again, whether it’s by other host apps or other plugins or other pieces of small software and we go, “If we do this, I would use this.” That’s number one. Two, if it has a lot of math in it, we love those problems because that’s what we like to do, try to take away the math from the people who are going to use it of course, make it easier to use for them. We like math and we like making pictures, and we always use our own software because we always have some kind of project that we want to do and we go, “Wait, there’s nothing out there that fixes this. Maybe we should do it.” So it’s very self gratifying at the same time. We do it for us and for the community at large at the same time.
Larry Jordan: Well there’s a lot of plugins out there from lots of different companies, and if plugins are in addition to the editing software, whether it’s from Avid, or Adobe or Apple, what recommendations do you have for us as filmmakers to decide what should be in our basic kit of plugins?
Pete Litwinowicz: Well I think it somewhat depends on what you’re doing. If you’re doing something that’s advertising, you may want something that allows you to do prettier pictures, something that’s a little more obvious. Glints, glows, in 1990s language. But I would also choose to look for things you’re always going to have a problem with. If you’re doing some kind of editing job or compositing job for somebody who’s given you footage that is not what it needs to be, so you need also tools to do denoising, you need tools to do things that are fixing things. Sure, the host apps have that too, but there are other options out there that sometimes are better.
Pete Litwinowicz: And then there’s stock footage. I always recommend to people “Don’t overlook stock footage, you may not consider that a plugin, but in a sense it is.” If you’re doing 3D kinds of motion graphics, look for things that make your 3D job easier. Because there are lots of tools out there that in addition to full on 3D apps there’s Motion that can produce some motion graphics for Final Cut Pro, there’s Cinema 4D that comes with After Effects. Look for things that can help you with that workflow in addition to what has already been provided to you by the major host app makers.
Larry Jordan: You mentioned before that one of the things you use in your development process is watching trends. What are some of the trends you’re keeping an eye on for 2018?
Pete Litwinowicz: For the last few years we’ve seen cameras doing more and more resolution, and different ways of viewing, 360, virtual, kind of world view kinds of things. I believe that being able to have a higher resolution and higher bit depth, HDR footage, is really exciting and we’re just at the cusp of what kinds of tools are going to be needed to really take advantage of the extra bit depth. 4K’s pretty much a standard. People say, “Why do you need more?” Not just for pan and scan, there’s other ways to manipulate the footage that you may need more resolution, which is related to maybe VR output or maybe not. Maybe it’s just being able to reframe it in other ways just than pan and scan. These are the kinds of trends I see.
Pete Litwinowicz: And then with higher frame rate, there comes another host of problems. If you’re indoors and you have LED lights, you’re going to get flicker. So while we may lose some clients because they can shoot their footage in higher and higher frame rates, there’s other problems that come with that. There’s more noise, there’s more flicker if you’re using electric lights. So I’m answering two questions at the same time which is, I see the hardware getting more sophisticated, but at the same time it opens up doors for more software to fix those things. That is the trend that I see. We’re trying to stay ahead of the problems that people are going to be seeing, even before they have them in their hands to see those problems. We’re trying to educate ourselves what might people be needing in a year or two because this has become so pervasive, these higher frame rate and higher pixel depth.
Larry Jordan: Which gets me to the products that you’ve got now. What are some of your latest products that we should pay attention to?
Pete Litwinowicz: Well the latest thing we have, Final Cut Pro and Motion just came out with 360 support, so we now have a 360 equiangular stabilizer for Final Cut Pro and Motion which is an automatic one so you don’t have to go in and align points and do those things. It works in the entire spherical realm so it does things other than just shift pixels up and down and left and right. It actually tries to move them around on the sphere that you might see, because you have this complete wrap around footage. We already have it available for After Effects but we just came out with it this week for Final Cut Pro and Motion. We hope people will want to use that.
Pete Litwinowicz: And then our other product that we have is called RE:Match which is, probably you’ve had a shoot where you have multiple cameras on the scene, or you turn off your camera and turn it on and the lighting has changed or the sun has moved and you need to match the shot. We’re trying to help people, when they have similar shots, at least something in the scene that’s represented in both shots, to try to allow them to match them up more automatically, if not completely automatically. We have this product called RE:Match that we just came out with a version 2 for After Effects and Premiere Pro.
Larry Jordan: And for people that want more information, where can they go on the web to learn more about RE:Vision’s products?
Pete Litwinowicz: Come to our website, revisionfx.com. And we have demo versions, trials, tutorials, demo movies. Just take a little gander around.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, revisionfx.com. Pete Litwinowicz is the cofounder of RE:Vision Effects and Pete, thanks for joining us today.
Pete Litwinowicz: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: You know, I was just thinking. Just as the iOS app store allows us to customize our iPhones, plugins allow us to turn our editing system into something much more customized for the way we edit. When I first started editing all those years ago, I couldn’t figure out why plugins existed. Why didn’t Adobe or Apple or Avid simply include all these features in their software? What I discovered is that these larger developers pick features that target the largest number of users. It isn’t worth their time to create something that only a few editors need. However, what Final Cut proved back around version 1.2 or so, was that when an application allows other developers to connect their software into it, the host software becomes much more flexible and attractive. This is one of the reasons Final Cut exploded into an editing behemoth. It was extremely easy for other developers to create small programs called plugins that filled the gaps left by Apple.
Larry Jordan: This lesson was not lost on other developers. Now APIs, which is what these connections are called, are now standard on almost all major software. Plugins are vital to the long term success of any program. Most of these plugin developers are smaller companies. Some focus on effects or transitions, others on utilities or conversion software. But all of them are looking for ways to make our editing faster, or easier, or more interesting or just more fun.
Larry Jordan: If you haven’t purchased a plugin recently, make a point to look around and see what’s out there. These companies need our financial support as well as our feedback. Plugin developers survive based on their sales. They don’t get any money from Avid or Apple or Adobe. Everyone benefits from an active and growing plugin market.
Larry Jordan: Just something I’m thinking about.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests for this week, Boris Yamnitsky with BorisFX, Aharon Rabinowitz with Red Giant, Jim Tierney with Digital Anarchy, Pete Litwinowicz with RE:Vision Effects and James DeRuvo with doddleNEWS.
Larry Jordan: There’s a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website, at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Here you’ll find thousands of interviews, all online and all available to you today. 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.
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