Ned Soltz, Contributing Editor, Red Shark News, Ned Soltz Inc.
Randi Altman, Editor-in-Chief, postPerspective
Jonathan Handel, Entertainment/Technology Attorney & Labor Reporter, TroyGould and The Hollywood Reporter
Michele Yamazaki, VP Marketing, Toolfarm
Philip Hodgetts, President, Lumberjack System
Michael Kammes, Director of Technology, Key Code Media
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 take a look at what we can expect in 2018, from a variety of experts and perspectives. We may not always be right, but it makes for some very interesting discussion.
Larry Jordan: We start with Ned Soltz, Contributing Editor for RedShark News, who looks at 2018 from the perspective of cameras and production. Next is Randi Altman, Editor-in-Chief of postperspective.com who shares her thoughts on leading trends in post-production.
Larry Jordan: Next is Jonathan Handel, Entertainment Labor Reporter for the Hollywood Reporter, who brings his legal and labor point of view to the discussion. Next is Michele Yamazaki, VP of Marketing for Toolfarm, who brings us solid background in visual effects and the business of our business to her preview of 2018.
Larry Jordan: Next is Philip Hodgetts, CEO of Intelligent Assistance, who looks at the New Year as a developer. Next is Michael Kammes, Director of Technology for Key Code Media, who shares his thoughts on the upcoming year from the perspective of large media workgroups and enterprises. And, as always, James DeRuvo, Editor in Chief of doddlenews.com presents 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 and Happy New Year. Last week we looked back at 2017, to spot the trends and technology that most affected our industry. Tonight we turn 180 degrees and look forward into 2018. We’ve assembled the same team of analysts as last week; each of whom represents a different perspective on our industry. What impresses me is not only the breadth of their opinions, but how often they disagree with each other. This will be a fun chance to compare your opinion with theirs and, at the end of the show, I’ll share my thoughts as well.
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: Happy New Year Larry.
Larry Jordan: A very Happy New Year to you as well. By the way, before we get started I wanted to congratulate you on your promotion to Editor in Chief of doddlenews.com. Congratulations and well deserved.
James DeRuvo: Well thank you Sir. I’ve got to tell you the ten year old in me was screaming, this is the best Christmas ever. It was just before the holiday.
Larry Jordan: You got any special plans as you settle into your new role?
James DeRuvo: My goal is going to be what it’s always been, which is to make doddleNEWS the go-to site for independent filmmaking news, tutorials and product reviews. That’s my goal. I want it to become the best it can possibly be and even better.
Larry Jordan: Well I wish you great success and we’ll do what we can to help out at this end.
James DeRuvo: Yes and vice-versa.
Larry Jordan: Now I want to shift gears James, because in this show, I want to have us focus on what’s going to happen in 2018, so I thought I’d ask what your thoughts are as you look ahead.
James DeRuvo: I think we’re going to see a lot of the same; we’re going to see some more disruptive technologies, but I think we’re also going to see artificial intelligence have a greater impact on technology in general, but maybe even in our industry, when it comes to post-production workflow. It’s something that’s going to affect our everyday life. Most of the time we won’t even know it either.
James DeRuvo: There’s been some dabbling with artificial intelligence to do automatic edits in non-linear editing and even writing screenplays. GoPro has an automatic edit feature within their mobile app setting. It’s basic at this point and there’s been some dubious results; but, as AI gets smarter, we may see a film get edited by a computer rather than on it.
James DeRuvo: Then there’s also virtual acting. We saw some incredible work that was done to bring Peter Cushing back to life in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story; but last year, for Blade Runner 2049, the post-production crew made Sean Young appear like she hadn’t aged a day and that shows that, with time, money and a lot of computing power, an actor’s career could be practically indefinite.
Larry Jordan: James, what do you see as the downside, if any, of AI?
James DeRuvo: I think AI’s going to have a long development road. I mean, we’re not talking Skynet here. It’s going to take a long time for an artificial intelligence to get smart enough to avoid common mistakes that we see a lot down the road. I think it was last year or the year before, they used an AI to write a screenplay and then they filmed it and it was complete word salad, it made absolutely no sense; so, it’s going to take a while before this actually has a huge impact. But I expect to see a lot of development in 2018.
Larry Jordan: Okay, that’s AI, what’s next?
James DeRuvo: I think virtual reality is going to continue to go bust, in favor of augmented reality. 2017 made it kind of a flavor of the month for some filmmakers, but VR has had difficulty finding an audience, due to high cost of gear and a limited amount of content. Then there’s that queasy feeling you get while watching virtual reality for extended periods of time. Augmented reality, however, has been gradually overtaking VR, thanks to its real world attraction of putting fantasy elements into it. I’m not saying that virtual reality is going to die per se, but I think that augmented reality has a much more practical and enjoyable interactive element that keeps audiences rooted in what they’re watching and, from a practical aspect, I think it’ll be even bigger, while VR will go the way of 3D.
Larry Jordan: I can see the benefit of AR to consumers, but, do you see a benefit to filmmakers for AR?
James DeRuvo: I don’t think filmmakers will be able to benefit from it on set; maybe in post. But I really don’t see how a filmmaker could benefit from it other than maybe he’s looking through the camera image and he sees all the camera settings on his augmented reality glasses. It may make it convenient, but I don’t think it’ll have a measurable impact.
Larry Jordan: OK, that’s AR, what’s another on your list?
James DeRuvo: Ultra high definition will continue to become the mainstream, and we’re going to see 5G supplant maybe even our internet connections. 2017 was the year that found filmmakers finally leaving 1080p behind in favor of 4K. The higher end cinema cameras have all moved beyond 4K now, but it’s all the rage in smartphones and we may even see higher resolutions make it into those lower end camera platforms, so are you ready for an 8K GoPro, or an iPhone 10S shooting in 8K? Well maybe not that much, but 6K could definitely happen. There’s also a next generation wireless spec known as 5G. We’re currently at 4G LTE, and as more cell phone providers make the transition to LT, 5G is going to make us connect even faster and just about everywhere. So that means users could decouple their internet access from the home, and solely rely on mobile phones as a blindingly fast hot spot. So you could be streaming your next binge watch through your mobile cellular subscription and cancelling your home internet access altogether.
Larry Jordan: Very interesting. What else do you see happening in 2018?
James DeRuvo: Well I think we’re going to see more computer security issues affecting all of us. Just recently there was an exploit that hit every single Intel based chip made in the last ten years, and the fix is going to slow down your computer by as much as 30 percent when patched. I think we’re going to see more pain when it comes to living our digital life.
Larry Jordan: Amazing series of projections. We’ll just have to see what happens. James, for people that want to keep track of what’s happening in our industry, where do they go on the web?
James DeRuvo: All these stories and more can be found at doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo is the Editor in Chief of doddlenews.com, and James, I wish you all success, and talk to you next week.
James DeRuvo: Talk to you next week Larry, Happy New Year.
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Larry Jordan: Ned Soltz is an author, an editor, an educator, and consultant on all things related to digital video. He’s also a contributing editor for RedShark News, and best of all, he’s a regular here on the Buzz. Hello Ned. Welcome back.
Ned Soltz: Hi Larry, great to be back after a week’s absence.
Larry Jordan: It is always good to have you back, and last week you led off our discussion of what happened in 2017. You did such a great job you’re leading off the discussion of where we’re going in 2018. So what do you see as the trends that we need to pay attention to?
Ned Soltz: I spoke last week about the trend to high dynamic range video, and I want to amplify on it this week because I think that really is one of the major directions that I see us heading in 2018. All the stars are converging for this. For several years now, we’ve had cameras that can shoot 12 stops of dynamic range or 14 stops or 15 stops, or 16 stops, whatever the manufacturers are advertising. However, we’ve really had no way of practically displaying that entire range, so with the advent of new high dynamic range standards for acquisition, editing, and viewing, with the advent of now inexpensive consumer sets for high dynamic range, I was seeing LG sets this past holiday season and Sony sets, for $400, $500, $600 that display high dynamic range, all the way up to some extraordinarily high quality OLED displays that still are in the $2000 price range which is what we were paying for HD TVs a few years ago. And with video on YouTube this is going to be the year for high dynamic range.
Larry Jordan: I am a huge fan of HDR and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens, but the other hot buzz words that we’re seeing this past year was 360 VR and augmented reality.
Ned Soltz: Augmented reality, absolutely. Even though Nokia has discontinued this high end camera, there just obviously wasn’t the market for it, we’re seeing 360 cameras still in reasonable price points to more professional price points, and with Final Cut Pro X 10.4, now adding VR as a one of its editing options, it’s already been there in Adobe Premiere, we’re going to see easier ways of editing. Delivery is already something that we can achieve via the web in a 360 case, and with goggles, you’ll see more of that at more popular price range, and the augmented reality with dropping things into this. So, this is going to be a real year for this. The software is catching up with it, the hardware is accessible, even just viewing 360 on a computer, manually rotating the image with a mouse, you don’t even really need specialized equipment necessarily to take at least partial advantage of it.
Larry Jordan: What’s your thinking on artificial intelligence slash machine learning?
Ned Soltz: I think we’re going to see it this year more and more, and particularly in acquisition and logging. That’s where it’s going to be of tremendous value of various artificial intelligence software hardware combinations which are really able to do a lot of the logging and metadata tagging for us. In a way, I’m not as happy with it as others, because I’ll confess to being an old timer here. I loved the good old days of logging and capturing tape and why did I do that? Despite the fact that probably being about as adult ADD as one could be, and rushing and wanting to do things in a hurry, I always looked at that as a getting to know your footage. I really liked actually logging through a tape and actually looking at that footage, sometimes in detail, sometimes just enough to get an in point or an out point, and that was just such a benefit for me in editing.
Ned Soltz: Yes, it’s wonderful to have metadata, it’s wonderful to have voice to text recognition where I can just click a phrase and go right to that segment of the clip. There still was something about actually physically acquainting yourself with the footage. That world is gone. I’ve got to learn that standard definition and non electric cars are a thing of the past. So I’ve got to move on, and as such now it’s going to streamline the process. We’re a metadata world and if automated and automated artificial intelligence fashion, we can end up with clips that are already tagged with metadata put into the proper bins and then start editing, it will indeed be a time saver, and for those of us billing on the clock, it’s going to be a money saver for clients and delivery as well. I see that really going places this coming year.
Larry Jordan: You know, your system of logging makes the assumption of reasonable shooting ratios. As shooting ratios hit one, two, and 3,000 to one, it becomes almost impossible to look at all that footage.
Ned Soltz: You can’t do that anymore right? That is to say those days are gone. Because tape we rationed because we just can’t carry that many tapes. You can carry as many cards as can fit in a pocket or fit in your card carrier, so the shooting ratios are as you say, absolutely absurd right now. And yet you have to use artificial intelligence.
Larry Jordan: What do you see happening with 8K? And should anything happen with 8K?
Ned Soltz: I think it should. I think we’re probably reaching the point now of storage limits and they’re really reasonably dealing with footage. I think for the moment 8K in its earliest implementation is probably going to be very much like 4K was in its early implementation. Really more for framing and moving around a frame, and deriving multiple shots out of one shot. But yes, it’s there, the technologies have been there for a few years, and give it three or four more years before it starts to move mainstream.
Larry Jordan: Last question before I let you go. What do you see happening in cameras?
Ned Soltz: I think the manufacturers are very wise now in not releasing cameras at the rate that they released cameras. The market just can’t keep up with it and it’s not there. I think what we’re going to see is a continuation of building on firmware updates or existing cameras. Anything that we see now camera wise is certainly going to have that ability to output varying types of high dynamic range footage, and we’re going to still be all over the board here in terms of the lower end of the spectrum. I suspect we may start seeing things that are in the mid range once again. Sony’s FS7 which I own two of, has been around for a while and you know, the chip set’s getting a little long in tooth and while I have no information from Sony about it, and if I did, I couldn’t say anything about it, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that in line for some kind of refresh or update along with the F5, F55 lines. Panasonic’s already thrown out its salvo with the Eagle One and we’ll see what they decide to do with varicams, and maybe this’ll be the year Avid will finally go 4K, who knows?
Larry Jordan: It’s always fun to speculate.
Ned Soltz: It is indeed.
Larry Jordan: Ned, for people who want to keep track of your writing, where can they go on the web?
Ned Soltz: Go to www.redsharknews.com and there you’ll find the latest and greatest of what I’ve been ruminating about.
Larry Jordan: Ned, even the old stuff is worth reading. Ned Soltz is a contributing editor to RedShark News, and a welcome guest on the Buzz. Ned, thanks for your help both last week and this week, and have yourself a good year.
Ned Soltz: Thank you Larry, and a good year to all our listeners as well.
Larry Jordan: Continuing our look into 2018, we’re joined by Randi Altman. She’s the editor in Chief of postperspective.com, she’s been writing about our industry for a long time. She’s an expert on what’s happening in post production. Hello Randi, welcome back.
Randi Altman: Hey Larry, how are you?
Larry Jordan: And a very happy holiday to you.
Randi Altman: Right back at you.
Larry Jordan: Randi, last week we took a look back at key trends in 2017 so what I’m curious this week is how you see them playing out in 2018. What’s coming?
Randi Altman: Well we’ve seen a lot of AR, VR, mixed reality, 360 video happening in 2017, and I think that will continue in 2018, but I think as more people are working in VR, workflows are starting to be hammered out. Again I don’t know if there’s any standards to be had but I do think best practices are being distributed among professionals, workflows are becoming more streamlined. But again, I don’t know how much narrative story telling we’re going to see with VR. That might actually shake out in 2018. In 2017 we saw people telling stories, maybe selling product, maybe it’s a music video or a concert experience, but for the most part, I think VR, AR, that was being used to sell product. So I’m curious to see what’s going to shake out in the new year.
Larry Jordan: Do you see VR being a replacement for what we’re doing now or an adjunct? Are you seeing it being as big as 3D or bigger? What’s your take?
Randi Altman: I see it being used alongside, so feature films being released and they’re going to release VR experiences that take people on a different journey than the film itself, and maybe they could pick different ways they wish the story played out. But I don’t think it’s going to replace it. Is it going to be bigger than stereo 3D? Yes. I think it already is. I think people have already embraced it. Now with the headsets people could watch VR anywhere, they don’t have to go to a theater and experience it that way. It’s a very solo experience, VR, and people could do it pretty much anywhere.
Larry Jordan: Well it’s a year of the Rs. We’ve got VR, and AR and HDR. What’s happening with HDR in your mind?
Randi Altman: Well it’s going to continue on. I mean, people like telling stories that way and it enhances the picture. I think more so than 8K which people will be, I think, experimenting more with, but I don’t think it’s going to be a regular way.
Larry Jordan: You don’t think it’s going to be real big?
Randi Altman: No, I don’t. I think that there’s going to be steady gains and more and more manufacturers are introducing 8K products so there’ll be some experimentation, there’ll be some projects done with it, but I don’t really see it becoming the norm.
Larry Jordan: Do you even see 8K as a real thing, or is it just marketing hype? Because we can’t physically see an 8K image.
Randi Altman: That’s right. I mean, Dell has an 8K display monitor, but is it true 8K? People debate that. So, I don’t know what 2018 is going to hold for displays, I’m assuming that some companies will have some stuff but until then, you’re right, it’s very hard for the everyday consumer to see anything in 8K.
Larry Jordan: Hollywood from a staffing and diversity point of view has been in complete turmoil the second half of 2017. What do you see happening in 2018?
Randi Altman: Well there’s been a lot of news in that respect, and it’s not been good. But, what I see in 2018 is a lot of people, women, they’re going to have the opportunity to be in different positions within the industry and I hope within the world itself, but in terms of our industry, women have typically not been in the overly technical positions, and it’s not because they aren’t qualified, it just hasn’t been. And I’ve moderated a couple of panels on this with women in VFX and women in post, and nobody has a real answer other than maybe they’re intimidated in a way. So there’s a ton of female executive producers and there’s more female colorists. There are more female editors, and more female directors. Are there enough? No. That has to change, and I do think that we are going to see that change this year.
Larry Jordan: If you had one thought to wrap up 2018, is it more of the same, radical change, changes in technology, or changes in people?
Randi Altman: I think it’s going to be a combination of all. I don’t see any one thing coming and changing the industry. I think little steps ahead, and we’ll see the change in small increments, but I don’t expect to see any one giant thing come and change the industry, no.
Larry Jordan: Randi, thank you so very much for your time. Randi Altman is the Editor in Chief of postperspective.com, that’s all one word, postperspective.com and it is always a delight talking with you. Thanks for joining us today.
Randi Altman: Thanks Larry.
Larry Jordan: Jonathan Handel is an entertainment and technology attorney of counsel at TroyGould in Los Angeles. He’s also the contributing editor on entertainment labor issues for the Hollywood Reporter and best of all, he’s a regular here on the Buzz. Hello Jonathan, welcome back.
Jonathan Handel: Larry, it’s a pleasure to be back.
Larry Jordan: Jonathan, last week we took a look back at 2017 and some of the highlights, or more importantly, the lowlights of the last year. What trends are you watching for 2018?
Jonathan Handel: Well of course the big story that continues to have traction, have legs, is the sexual harassment stories that started with the Harvey Weinstein allegations, and have continued apace. I don’t see that stopping any time soon. The industry is setting up a task force to be headed by Anita Hill, that will try to come up with some method for dealing with these kind of allegations and reducing the occurrences, and I think that’s going to be a very big and dramatic piece of what goes on.
Jonathan Handel: This is a little beyond the entertainment industry per se, but inevitably will have an effect. We’re heading into the midterm elections, we won’t get into politics here, but suffice to say that those are going to be heavily contested and the industry will take its various stands there. There’ll also be the outcome of several deals that we talked about last week or attempted deals, involving consolidation in the entertainment industry. AT&T Time Warner is going to court because the Justice Department is trying to block that. Disney acquiring large parts of Fox may happen and Sinclair Broadcasting is likely to successfully acquire the television stations owned currently by Tribune. So we will see consolidation in the new year, probably see an increase in interest rates, that’ll have an effect on the industry and on consumers generally, and I would also expect that we will see video on demand. In other words, movies that are in theaters that while they’re in theaters, or just shortly after they’ve left the theater, they’ll be available at a premium price in the home. It’s likely that there will be at least one company with that sort of product offering this year.
Larry Jordan: Most of the major guilds negotiated contracts in 2017, do you see anything happening on the labor front?
Jonathan Handel: On the labor front, a couple of things. One key thing is that the Screen Actors Guild, SAG-AFTRA successfully attained recognition with Telemundo and they don’t yet have a deal, so that really reflects demographic change here, the importance and growth of Spanish language broadcasting. I should mention also that there will be continued efforts to try and consolidate gains and increase unionization in interactive media, video games. The SAG-AFTRA video game strike lasted around a year and ended last year. So those are some of the labor issues. IATSE also, the union that represents most crew of course, will be negotiating their deal this year. The above the line unions did negotiate their deals last year, and so they stand pat for another couple of years or so.
Larry Jordan: If you were to look at it from a higher level perspective, it sounds like consolidation is one of the themes, and diversity is one of the themes. Anything else?
Jonathan Handel: Yes, I think that’s correct and those are probably the two most significant themes, and we are going to see continued interaction between the industry and the consumer. On the one hand changing consumption patterns is a large part of what’s driving this consolidation and technological change. On the other hand, the increasing diversity in the entertainment industry may have some effect on the larger society. Finally, dialing back to the immediate future, I will be going to the Consumer Electronics Show the second week of January, and will see what’s on tap in terms of new technology.
Larry Jordan: CES is the world’s largest toy store, I always enjoy that show.
Jonathan Handel: Absolutely it is.
Larry Jordan: Jonathan, for people who want to keep track of your writing, where can they go on the web?
Jonathan Handel: Two places. Thrlabor.com, the Hollywood Reporter Labor, and jhandel.com.
Larry Jordan: Jonathan Handel is an entertainment and technology attorney of counsel at TroyGould, as well as a contributing editor for the Hollywood Reporter. Jonathan, as always, thanks for joining us today.
Jonathan Handel: Thanks very much.
Larry Jordan: Michele Yamazaki is the VP of marketing at Toolfarm. Now this is a company that specializes in plug ins and effects for video editors. She’s written or co-written two books on plug ins as well as becoming the go to person on software and plug ins for our editing systems. Hello Michele, welcome back.
Michele Yamazaki: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: Last week you shared your thoughts on what the highlights were in 2017 so what I want to do this week is flip it around. What are you expecting for 2018?
Michele Yamazaki: Honestly, I’m expecting more of the same. I’m expecting that new releases of software will add performance and more workflow features for users. I think that the VR is going to be pretty strong, VR, AR, 360 video and all that.
Larry Jordan: Now what does workflow features mean to you?
Michele Yamazaki: Oh just better design of their user interface. Some features in certain softwares have been a little clunky, going between different applications has been a little clunky sometimes. They’re making it easier to work between different softwares. We saw a lot of that in the last couple of years, and I think that’s going to continue to be a trend.
Larry Jordan: What’s your thoughts on CGI?
Michele Yamazaki: We go to the movies a lot, and I will admit that I’m not a fan of the superhero genre that you see a lot of effects. I mean, pretty much the whole films are effects. The CGI seems to really have gotten a lot better in the last few years. The physics and all that seem to be a lot more accurate I guess to the eye. It doesn’t stick out as like, “Oh my gosh, he just bounced off the ground in an odd way that looks so unnatural.” It seems they’re really doing a good job of that, with uncanny valley as well. You don’t notice it so much.
Larry Jordan: Let’s shift gears and take a look at the business side of our industry. What do you see happening in 2018?
Michele Yamazaki: Well in 2017, there were a lot of smaller companies that were bought up by larger companies, and that’s kind of a trend that we’ve seen in the last ten years, and I expect that to continue. I’m not really sure what it will be, but there’s always some small company that comes up with a great idea, and then someone like Adobe or Apple or someone else will acquire them and acquire their technology, so who knows what that will be? It’ll be a mystery. As far as the average worker, someone who’s behind a computer every day, I see them getting calls for more 360 VR video and AR type work, and probably some advertisements for projection mapped things. I know someone a couple of years ago who had a job for a projection mapped wedding cake which was pretty cool, and I think we’re going to end up seeing a lot of that kind of thing coming up. Like, you’re not seeing just video on a screen any more, there’s other places where this video is going to end up.
Larry Jordan: What is projection mapping?
Michele Yamazaki: Projection mapping is when you create video, you can use specialized mats to map onto different objects, for example you could map onto a wedding cake, or you could map onto different shapes. I’ve seen examples of Las Vegas shows that have like a big sphere and they’re mapping things onto a sphere, and then other elements in a scene, and it can be used for entertainment, or an art project. I’ve seen it where they have it projected onto the sides of buildings. It’s very interesting and I’d love to do some tests. Oh, actually, my parents were at a Halloween thing and they had projection mapped faces on pumpkins. These pumpkins talked and it was a cute little thing. My mom took video of it, but I think it’s going to used all over the place because it’s a unique way to advertise, or to show your art, that kind of thing.
Larry Jordan: Michele, for people that want to keep track of what you and your company are up to, where can they go on the web?
Michele Yamazaki: They can go to toolfarm.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, toolfarm.com and Michele Yamazaki is the VP of marketing at Toolfarm, and Michele, thanks for joining us and have yourself a wonderful new year.
Michele Yamazaki: Thank you, you too.
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 the resources you need to succeed. Whether you want the latest industry news, need to network with other creative professionals or require state of the art online tools to manage your next project, there’s only one place to go. Doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: Philip Hodgetts is a technologist and the CEO of both Intelligent Assistance and Lumberjack System. Even better, he’s a regular on the Buzz, and last week he talked about what was happening in 2017, but I want to know what’s happening in the future. Hello Philip, welcome back.
Philip Hodgetts: Thank you Larry.
Larry Jordan: Alright, jump right into it. What do you see happening as the key trends in 2018?
Philip Hodgetts: The key trends will be a continuation of the hype around 360, which I remain somewhat skeptical about. Of course high dynamic range will roll out affordable sets that’ll be coming into people’s lounge rooms all year, and affecting our production process because we have to future proof our material. This is the year that we will see more and more of the machine learning start to have effects into our production processes. It’s not so much taking them over, but as a smart assistance, I think is the direction I’d like to see us take.
Larry Jordan: Give me an example.
Philip Hodgetts: Speech to text takes over from human transcription, either the stuff that you’ve done yourself, or image recognition, for example instead of having to have an assistant organize all of your B roll into bins and tag it with appropriate labels, I think this year will be the first year we see software in the mainstream that is available to you and I and to every editor that helps categorize and search. I know that Adobe have been working with IBM Watson on image search over the last year, they’ve previewed some stuff at NAB last year, and there have been ongoing demos in small groups. So I expect that they will be the first to show us some sort of search your bins by actual image without having to search via key words that you’ve added and therefore the whole time consuming logging process I see being largely taken over by machines. I know there will be people who say to me, “But I have to see every frame before I can make every decision” and great, if you’re in an environment where that’s possible, all the better. I would love to be there, but I think most editors are in the environment where we need to get this done as quickly as we can, and we need to find the places where there is emotion in our material, we need to find the place where it’s a cat or a dog or a house, or Sam or Tom, and we will be able to do that without having to go through the time consuming logging phase that drives everyone nuts.
Larry Jordan: Well the other problem is shooting ratios are skyrocketing. In the past at ten to one or 20 to one, you could see everything but when you’ve got 1,000, or 2,000 or 3,000 to one, there’s no way.
Philip Hodgetts: Yes, when an average Bunim Murray reality TV show clocks in at 68 hours of shot material per day of shoot, remembering there’s only 24 hours in each actual day, they’re shooting nearly three times the day rate, and to watch that alone is three days worth of work. How can you watch three days of dailies, when there’s only 24 hours in a day, and presumably editors should sleep? So this is where the artificial intelligence tools, image recognition, emotion detection, speech to text and therefore key word extraction, is going to make our lives so much easier, and I think a lot fewer projects will be left on the shelf because shooting it was fun, but all that organization before and editing has been the block, and that’s going to be alleviated by this new technology.
Larry Jordan: Well in almost exactly four months, NAB will be upon us again. What do you think the hot topics will be?
Philip Hodgetts: I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a lot of machine learning coming around there. High dynamic range obviously, and yes, we’ll see a lot of 360 VR. I’m not sure where the other hot trend of augmented reality’s going to fit into a production world, because it doesn’t seem to me to affect what we do in the production side as it happens downstream of our edited material. But you know, maybe my vision is too small and we will see augmented reality coming into the edit bay.
Larry Jordan: It’s an exciting time Philip. For people who want to keep track of what you’re writing, and what your companies are developing, where can they go on the web?
Philip Hodgetts: Philiphodgetts.com is where I do my writing, and intelligentassistance.com is where you’ll find our software to make life working with Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro easier. And Lumberjack System is the only logging and pre-editing tool for Final Cut Pro X.
Larry Jordan: I like your commercial. Philip Hodgetts is the CEO of both Intelligent Assistance and Lumberjack System and Philip as always, it’s fun chatting with you. Take care and have yourself a great new year.
Philip Hodgetts: Thank you. May 2018 be everything you want it to be and that extends to all of our listeners.
Larry Jordan: In his current role as the director of technology at Key Code Media, Michael Kammes consults in the latest in technology and best practices into the digital media and communications space. He’s also the executive producer and host of Five Things. Hello Michael. Welcome back.
Michael Kammes: Hi Larry, good to talk to you again.
Larry Jordan: Michael, last week we took a look back at key trends and things that surprised you in 2017. So how do you see things playing out in 2018? What do you see as the future?
Michael Kammes: Well, I think consumers are going to have a really good year and the reason I bring that up is if you like acronyms like I do, you’ve probably been following SMPTE and ATSC 3.0 and now that that is becoming the law of the land as much as SMPTE can be a law, I think we’re going to see a lot of facilities moving over to ATSC 3.0 which means as consumers there’s going to be a lot more ways to consume broadcasting cable media.
Larry Jordan: Translate that into English. What is ATSC 3.0?
Michael Kammes: ATSC 3.0 is, for lack of a better marketing term, a revolution in terms of how media can be broadcast and consumed. Instead of just being over the airwaves, or being a cable provider, you’ll now be able to view a majority of the same media on almost any mobile device, over the air and via your wifi signal. So it makes the content that’s been generated by the broadcast networks more easily accessible with better metadata, so it allows you to actually experience the media a little bit deeper.
Larry Jordan: So it’s a standard to allow broadcast networks and stations to send their media out over the web?
Michael Kammes: Over the web yes. More IP based, yes.
Larry Jordan: The problem that broadcasters are in, and you know this even better than I do, is the budgets have cratered and they just don’t have the wealth they had for upgrades the way they did even ten years ago. The cash just isn’t there. So I think they’re hurting to be able to make this kind of conversion.
Michael Kammes: I completely agree. I think also when it was still SD, you weren’t upgrading for five or seven years. You were upgrading and it was going to last for 15 or 20 years, because decks were decks, and tubes were tubes, and aside from a part here and there, you could use the same gear for over a decade. Unfortunately, that’s just not the current landscape with disposable technology. Heck, our furniture is disposable right, it’s all Ikea? We buy Blackmagic gear, it’s disposable and the same thing is for broadcasters who were buying gear that unfortunately will be based on computers which will be out of date in several years. So unfortunately, a lot of broadcasters haven’t moved to that paradigm of having to update more frequently.
Larry Jordan: OK. So we’ve got that to look forward to which means more program choices for consumers. What else are you looking forward to?
Michael Kammes: Well I think the rest of us who are, I don’t want to say Apple fan boys, but who like the Mac ecosystem, even with all its restrictions, I think are going to enjoy this year. Obviously the iMac Pro just started shipping a few weeks ago. The new Mac Pro should be shipping at some point this year, we don’t know if that’s going to be January 30th or December 30th, but we’ll get more of the Apple sauce. I think what you’re also going to see is Apple with High Sierra has been dipping into the external GPU realm and although it’s very rudimentary right now, and there’s a lot of restrictions and hiccups, I think we’re going to see performance just shoot through the roof as third party manufacturers create more external GPUs that are NLE tools, and are encoding tools and graphics tools, can start using that. So I think from a performance standpoint, we’re going to see a huge boost on that end.
Michael Kammes: I think for those of us who enjoy Netflix you’re going to see a lot of tools this upcoming year. They’re going to be Netflix friendly and when I say that, I mean creating the media that Netflix wants, which is an IMF wrapper which is kind of like a glorified zip file with some enhanced metadata. And I think you’re going to see a lot of affordable software solutions to create this, so it’s not just for the big folks, it’s now for the average creators, who want to create media for Netflix.
Michael Kammes: I think what you’re also going to see is a lot of software companies continuing to jump on the subscription bandwagon. Kind of like what Adobe did, which is you’re going to pay per month, you’re going to be renting the software instead of owning it. I know a lot of folks don’t like that, they want to buy it and own it. Unfortunately in the business realm, it makes more sense to have predictable income every quarter, every month, so I think you’re going to see more manufacturers who make software move to that model, I think much to the chagrin of folks in the industry.
Michael Kammes: As we also talked about a few weeks ago regarding VR, I think we’re going to continue to see the decline of VR in terms of working with it for long form cinematic pieces. I think we’re going to see it for more experiential, so we’re talking marketing and real estate and that sort of thing. But I think we’re going to see more investment in the AR realm, the augmented reality realm, to aid people in the business sector as opposed to being a complete entertainment experience.
Larry Jordan: You just got yourself invited back to about 12 different programs to talk about all this stuff.
Michael Kammes: That’s my whole plan Larry.
Larry Jordan: Aside from VR, do you think there’s any technology that’s going to slowly fade away in 2018? Or maybe not fade away but become much less important?
Michael Kammes: Pause. Let me think that through because I was thinking about that earlier and I couldn’t think of anything besides VR that was really going to take a big hit this year.
Larry Jordan: Michael, that’s some fascinating stuff to think about. You got any more thoughts before we wrap up?
Michael Kammes: Here’s one, and I have to preface this with this is not NDA, this is just the way I see things, is that Adobe I think is poised to really make a push into the remote editing paradigm. At a consumer level. Right now, Avid does it, but you need to have deep pockets. I think Adobe already has storage in the cloud to some extent for smaller files. I think they already have team projects and now with the late 2017 release of Shared Projects, I foresee at some point Adobe charging users more and allowing you to store your video media in the cloud which will then be distributed amongst multiple servers around the country so you can remote edit with video in the cloud. I think that only makes sense. I think the only thing that Adobe needs is an asset management system on top of it, but that’s what I kind of see in the tea leaves. Again, I’m not revealing any NDA information, that’s just the writing on the wall as far as I see it.
Larry Jordan: I think there’s going to be a push toward remote editing, but until we solve the whole internet bandwidth issue it’s going to not function because if I’m uploading two or three terabytes of data a day, there isn’t a pipe fast enough to be able to support that.
Michael Kammes: I’d agree with that. I think there’s probably going to be two paradigms. I think there’s going to be you create the proxies on your own and you upload it to an Adobe shared folder, and you’re editing those low res proxies. Or perhaps you’re leveraging Amazon S3 and their elastic transcoder, and if you have those fat pipes, you’re uploading the high res, and then letting the elastic transcoder generate those proxies for the end user in the cloud. But you’re right, it really depends on how fat your pipe is up to the series of interconnected tubes.
Larry Jordan: Michael, some fascinating things to think about. Where can people go on the web to learn what you’re doing and thinking?
Michael Kammes: Two places, you can track down my namesake, michaelkammes.com, or 5thingsseries.com.
Larry Jordan: That second is the number 5thingsseries.com. Michael Kammes is executive producer and host of Five Things, and Michael, as always, thanks for joining us.
Michael Kammes: Happy new year, thanks a lot Larry.
Larry Jordan: You know, I was just thinking. This evening we’ve heard lots of opinions on where the future is taking us. We’re pretty well agreed on the growth of machine learning and HDR and augmented reality, though AR doesn’t provide many opportunities at the moment for filmmakers. And machine learning will take several years to find its place. We’re split on the long term prospects for VR and 8K and hopeful that recent improvements in diversity will continue. On the business side, software rental which is also called subscriptions, and business consolidation are likely to grow, neither of which are particularly good for end users.
Larry Jordan: In other words, this coming year will be a combination of good news and bad news, with much of what happened obscured until the dust settles a bit. For me, there are three bigger trends that I’m watching. First is the continued erosion of personal privacy, with ever on devices that constantly monitor what’s going on, and being said around them. Second is our inability to keep digital data secure, especially devices attached via the internet of things. Also witness the latest security crisis with Intel CPUs and cloud services. Third is the continued use of technology to reduce the number of available jobs. And it’s this last one that troubles me the most.
Larry Jordan: The American economy today is founded on two contradictory pillars of support. First is sustained economic growth through consumer spending, while at the same time, increasing the use of technology to reduce the number of employees. We’re seeing a classic example of reduce the headcount behavior with the recent corporate tax cut. In more than 90 percent of companies surveyed, that money didn’t go to wages or hiring, it went to stockholders. What seems lost on industry is that consumers can’t keep spending if they don’t have jobs. And automation in all its various forms, is claiming thousands of jobs every day. We see this on set, in post, and throughout marketing and distribution, just in our own industry. The mantra is, let machines do the repetitive work while consumers bask in their newfound leisure time.
Larry Jordan: But leisure time is no fun if you don’t have money to spend during it. This increasing reliance on technology is creating an underclass of unemployed and underemployed workers that has me deeply troubled. In addition to cool new toys and features, technology also needs to find new and innovative ways of retraining workers and re-establishing them in the workforce. We need a serious discussion of how to balance technology with employment, and we need to think more carefully about whether inventing new technology because we can, is the wisest course for society.
Larry Jordan: Just something I’m thinking about.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests for this week , Ned Soltz of RedShark News, Randi Altman of postperspective.com, Jonathan Handel of the Hollywood Reporter, Michele Yamazaki of toolfarm.com, Philip Hodgetts of Lumberjack System, Michael Kammes of Key Code Media, and James DeRuvo of doddlenews.com.
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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