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Digital Production Buzz – March 29, 2018

This week on The BuZZ we talk with companies who can help us with production planning, renting gear and finding the right people both in front of and behind the camera. Plus, we have an inside look at the upcoming SuperMeet at NAB!

Join host Larry Jordan as he talks with Michael Horton, Paul Friedman, Aaton Cohen-Sitt, Steve Lack and James DeRuvo.

  • SuperMeet 2018 Preview
  • A Better Way to Rent Your Gear
  • Let Gorilla Get The Monkey Off Your Back
  • Mandy: A Better Way to Find Work
  • The Weekly DoddleNEWS Update

PLUS, we have two discount codes for you!

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Guests this Week

SuperMeet 2018 Preview

Michael Horton
Michael Horton, Co-Producer, Supermeet
The Supermeet is one of the highlights of NAB each year. Tonight, Mike Horton, co-producer of the event, joins us to showcase what we can expect on stage – as well in their “World-Famous Raffle!”

A Better Way to Rent Your Gear

Paul Friedman
Paul Friedman, Founder, LensProToGo
There are lots of rental companies out there but Lens Pro To Go considers that they have an edge in the market. Tonight we are joined by Paul Friedman, Founder of Lens Pro To Go, who talks with us about their focus on pro photographers and what makes their company special.

Let Gorilla Get The Monkey Off Your Back

Aaton Cohen-Sitt
Aaton Cohen-Sitt, CEO and President, Jungle Software
Jungle Software is designed to help filmmakers and writers with their writing, scheduling and budgeting needs for their projects. Tonight, founder Aaton Cohen-Sitt joins us to showcase their latest products and how they can help filmmakers.

Mandy: A Better Way to Find Work

Steve Lack
Steve Lack, Business Development Manager,
Mandy is the world’s largest creative community of actors, film and TV crew, theatre professionals, child actors, voiceover artists, dancers, singers, musicians, models and extras. Tonight, Steve Lack, Business Development Manager, talks about how can help you find work and build your portfolio.

The Weekly DoddleNEWS Update

James DeRuvo
James DeRuvo, Editor-in-Chief, DoddleNEWS.
James DeRuvo Editor-in-Chief at, has a multi-faceted career spanning radio, film and publishing. With experience covering technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James joins us every week to present the latest industry news.

Transcript: Digital Production Buzz – March 22, 2018


Larry Jordan

Mark Harrison, Managing Director, DPP (Digital Production Partnership)

Douglas Sheer, CEO / Chief Analyst, D.I.S. Consulting

Stefan Lederer, CEO, Bitmovin

Randi Altman, Editor-in-Chief, postPerspective

James DeRuvo, Editor-in-Chief, DoddleNEWS


Larry Jordan: Tonight on the Buzz, we look at the state of the media industry, two weeks before NAB redefines it for the coming year.  We start with Mark Harrison, managing director of the Digital Production Partnership in the UK. Recently they researched key hardware and audience trends over the last several years, and discovered reasons why what we expected to happen didn’t.  He has a fascinating report.

Larry Jordan:  Douglas Sheer has been researching the media industry for more than 40 years as the CEO of DIS Consulting.  Based on his studies, he has concerns for our industry that you need to hear.

Larry Jordan:  Stefan Lederer is an expert on data management for online video.  As the CEO of Bitmovin, he’s spent time looking at the impact changes to net neutrality will make on our industry and shares his thoughts tonight.

Larry Jordan:  Randi Altman is a highly respected journalist and editor-in-chief of  She shares her thoughts on the changing role of women in the media industry.

Larry Jordan:  All this, plus James DeRuvo with our weekly doddleNEWS update.  The Buzz starts now.

Announcer: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking, Authoritative: One show serves 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. NAB is legendary for setting the direction of our industry for the coming year.  It’s one of the two major events that developers and users alike look to for new products, new trends and new ideas.  The other is IBC in September. So we thought it would be useful to take stock before NAB starts, to get a stronger sense of where we are today.  Our guests tonight do not disappoint.

Larry Jordan:   Due to time zone differences between Los Angeles and London, I recorded our first guest, Mark Harrison, a couple of days ago and I’m still reflecting on the key issues he brought up.  His research will definitely change the questions I ask industry leaders during our coverage of NAB for the Buzz and it will also change the way you look at hardware today.

Larry Jordan:  It’s always true that change is coming, but many times the change that arrives isn’t what we expect.  Tonight’s guests will give us a better understanding of what’s coming, what’s important, and what’s hype.

Larry Jordan: Before we start though, I want to invite you to subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at  Every issue, every week, provides quick links to the different segments on the show, plus articles of interest to filmmakers.  Best of all, every issue is free, and comes out on Saturday morning.

Larry Jordan:  Now it’s time for our weekly doddleNEWS update with James DeRuvo.  Hello James.

James DeRuvo:  Hi Larry.

Larry Jordan:   So what’s this I see on your website?

James DeRuvo:   I want to let everyone know that we have our annual readers poll going on right now.  We’ve got some exciting plans for this year, and we want to know from our audience how we can best bring doddleNEWS to them.  I would like all of our listeners to swing by the website and take the survey. It’s only ten questions, it’ll take you about three minutes.

Larry Jordan:   So what’s in the news this week?

James DeRuvo:   You know, the RED Hydrogen One smartphone that RED has been talking about, it’s this game changing mobile device that has a holographic 4D display.  Unfortunately it’s going to be delayed until the summer. RED former CEO Jim Jannard, who’s shepherding the project, says that there’s been some supply chain issues.  But I think the real problem is carrier certification which has held up the launch of the device, and when it finally does ship in the summer, first to those who have pre-ordered and then to the rest, RED will launch the Hydrogen network, an online streaming site for all their 4V holographic video content.  You’ll be able to not only watch it, but also to offer your own content for sale. It’s going to be an exciting project.

Larry Jordan:  Do you see this delay as a big deal?

James DeRuvo:  No, I think it’s normal actually.  RED is used to the bleeding edge in designing the next generation of technology, and while this is Jim Jannard’s pet project and it’s been beset with a few supply chain issues, it comes as no surprise that we’ll have to wait until summer but I think it’ll be worth it.

Larry Jordan:  Alright, that’s RED.  What else we got?

James DeRuvo:  Oculus has announced a new standalone virtual reality headset called the Oculus Go.  Being built in partnership with Xiaomi, the Oculus Go doesn’t need a computer or a smartphone to run its virtual reality content, it has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, 802 11AC wifi, and 32 gigabytes of onboard storage for under $200.  But unfortunately to meet that price point, the Oculus Go is going to lose the hallmark 3D sound headphones and head tracking which made the Oculus Rift device so immersive.

Larry Jordan:  Well what’s driving Oculus right now?

James DeRuvo:  I think the bottom line is when VR headsets launched last year, a lot of them came in with too high a price tag.  Then coupled with a lack of content, it caused many, including myself, to view virtual reality as merely a gimmick.  If the genre’s going to survive, the cost is going to have to come down on hardware. The Rift headset had an original price of around $600 and it’s already been cut down to $400, but unfortunately users would also have to update their computer in order to enjoy the experience, so it became way too expensive to get into it.

James DeRuvo:  Oculus had to respond with a more affordable virtual reality option to compete with Samsung’s $99 Gear VR which was linked to the Samsung Galaxy mobile phones.  Oculus Go eliminates the need for any computer, any mobile device. It’s just a standalone device, and that’s going to make it ideal for virtual reality on the go.

Larry Jordan:  OK, what’s our third story this week?

James DeRuvo:  Nikon has launched their D850 Filmmaker Kit.  The D850 is their brand new flagship DSLR, it’s a really nice camera, I’d really like to get one.  The Filmmaker Kit comes with a trio of prime lenses, it also has an Atomos Ninja Flame external monitor recorder, and a pair of wired and wireless microphones, and an extra battery to keep you shooting.  The price is $5500 for the entire set, which is a $700 saving over purchasing all of those items piecemeal.

Larry Jordan:  Why is Nikon doing this?

James DeRuvo:  What’s interesting is while Sony, Panasonic and Canon have ruled this handheld DSLR mirrorless category for video, it’s often forgotten that Nikon blazed the trail first putting video on a DSLR in the Nikon D90.  The strength here is the combination of the new D850 and the Ninja Flame external monitor recorder for recording in 4K RAW. And if you’re moving from mobile filmmaking through a smartphone or an action camera, and really want to cut your teeth on 4K, this Filmmaker Kit makes it really easy to get going.

Larry Jordan:  OK, that’s RED and Oculus and Nikon.  What other stories are you covering this week?

James DeRuvo:  Google may be buying the experimental light field camera company, Lytro for an incredible bargain.  We launch a new feature called 20 Questions with Chris Johnson of, and FiLMiC Pro goes global with a new short film contest.

Larry Jordan:  Where can we go on the web to read all these stories?

James DeRuvo:  Well first off, don’t forget to take the reader survey, and that survey and all of these stories and more can be found at

Larry Jordan:   James DeRuvo is the Editor in Chief of and James, as always, thanks for joining us and we’ll talk to you next week.

James DeRuvo:  We’ll talk to you next week.

Female voice:  Starting Monday April 9, join the Digital Production Buzz at the 2018 NAB show in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Larry Jordan and the Buzz team are taking their microphones on the road to cover the latest news and announcements from the largest media show in the world.  Every hour of every day, the Buzz is live on the trade show floor. More than 100 interviews creating 27 new shows in four days. The Buzz has webcast directly from NAB for ten years and our coverage is legendary, heard in more than 195 countries around the world.  If you’re attending the show, visit us at booth SL10 527 and say “Hello.” If you can’t attend, visit for a schedule of shows and guests. That’s and join the Buzz at NAB.

Larry Jordan:  Mark Harrison has 20 years experience as an award winning freelance producer and director, as well as holding a number of senior innovation roles at the BBC.  Now, he’s the managing director and co-founder of the Digital Production Partnership, or DPP, an international business change network for media companies. Hello Mark.  Welcome back.

Mark Harrison:  Hi there Larry, good to speak to you again.

Larry Jordan: How would you describe the DPP?

Mark Harrison:  Well the DPP is an industry organization that loves change and loves working with companies who love change.  I guess what’s unusual about us is that we’re not a trade body, so we’re not here to advocate for anyone or to defend the interests of anyone.  We’re here to work with any company in the media supply chain, whether they’re in production, whether they’re in technology, or whether they’re a content provider, to help them to understand and manage change at this really exciting time in media.

Larry Jordan:  Why is this necessary?

Mark Harrison:  Well, it’s a great question.  It’s because what’s really changed about the media industry I think over the last few years, is that it’s just no longer possible to be great at everything on your own.  The days of the great big monolith broadcaster or monolith technology provider, giant independent production company that can just do everything, have gone. You have to collaborate.  You have to be open, you have to find partners if you’re going to be successful and that’s leading an awful lot of companies to now want to engage with others. That requires coordination and really that’s what we do.  We’re there in the middle bringing lots of really smart people together so they can work more effectively together.

Larry Jordan:  Speaking of smart people, in February at the HPA Conference you released a report called Why We Get Trends Wrong, And How To Get Them Right.  What were you studying?

Mark Harrison:  Something that had been on my mind for a little while, because I go to the Consumer Electrics Show every year in Las Vegas, and follow the trends there, and of course numerous broadcast technology shows and I speak at lots of conferences, and I was becoming aware that the things I was being asked to talk about and I’d often listened to other people talk about, and the things that I would read about in the industry press, didn’t seem necessarily to be quite the same things that were characterizing consumer behavior.  I thought, “Is this actually true? “ So I went back using my own notes going back over many years, and also the power of the internet, and researched backwards on what we’ve been all creating a buzz about over the last ten years or so and compared it with what’s actually been happening amongst consumers and their use of media.

Larry Jordan:  As you were doing this studying, what did you discover?

Mark Harrison:  I found some interesting discrepancies.  To put them into headline terms, I describe them like this.  It seems as if professionals who work in media are so fixated on audio visual technology, that anything that suggests it might somehow change in form is incredibly interesting to them.  So they run off and get very excited about it, so particularly there’s a new device, a headset for viewing things on, a new kind of screen, they get very excited about. But that’s not what excites consumers.  Consumers simply love video, and they love streamed video and they love it on a range of devices, but particularly their smartphone.

Mark Harrison:  If you look at the impact of those behaviors amongst consumers, the direct impact back into the way the media industry has to commission and make content, you find some really profound changes, and yet those are not the things that we tend to talk about when we get together at our conferences and shows.

Larry Jordan:  Isn’t the tech industry being enamored of new devices focused more on content creation and what you’re saying, it sounds like the consumers focus much more on distribution?

Mark Harrison:  Yes, that’s true.  You might say the consumers are very old fashioned.  Somebody said to me recently, and I thought it was a really great observation, they said, “What’s extraordinary about consumers of media is that unlike any other product, they’re all experts.”  That’s because human beings innately love and understand storytelling, so they know great content when they see it, and they just gobble it up. Really, that’s all they want. But somehow the media professionals keep assuming that there must need to be some fundamental changes in how we make and shape content, to go on keeping consumers happy.  There’s no sign that consumers actually think that themselves.

Larry Jordan:  Why is this important?

Mark Harrison:  The reason I think it’s important is twofold.  First, there’s not a lot of money around now in the media industry.  Even amongst many of the big players, everyone needs to get very focused upon surviving and competing.  There isn’t lots of money to spend on piloting brand new technologies, building prototypes, and doing lots of research and development.  Yet, we are still wasting millions of dollars pursuing new developments that we think are going to be important, but just aren’t. Meanwhile, if we are to satisfy the demands of consumers, which for instance now require us to make very high quality content at extraordinary speed, and delivered over the internet with great resilience, then we really do have to focus all our efforts in that place. Frankly, those companies that don’t are not going to make it.  

Mark Harrison: If you look back over the years, you see this list of technology that goes 3D, second screen, Google Glass, VR and they all have this thing in common.  They’re all demanding that consumers actually consume storytelling in a fundamentally different form. It’s a really big ask. Yet, time and time again what I’ve heard very senior people say is “This is going to change everything.  We’re going to have a whole new kind of storytelling. It’s going to be a whole new kind of creativity.” But it never happens.

Larry Jordan:  As you said, consumers are traditional.  They like watching it the way they’ve always watched it, just on devices they already have at hand, TVs or smartphones.

Mark Harrison:  Yes that’s right, and I guess that’s very untraditional in some respects because whoever would have guessed, even ten years ago, that people would be very happy watching high quality content, episodics, movies, on a smartphone?  That was ridiculous. Yet they do and we have to respect the fact that they do. I’ve heard many professionals bemoaning the fact that younger people are content to watch content on a smartphone. But you know what? If you hold that smartphone near enough to your face, it becomes a pretty big screen from the point of view of your field of view.  The quality of it of course nowadays, is outstanding because of the technology of displays. So we just have to respect that the world of consumption has changed.

Larry Jordan:  So you’re saying we need to shift our focus from the technology of content creation to the technology of distribution because storytelling really hasn’t changed?

Mark Harrison:  Well yes.  Pretty much, that’s what I’m saying, but actually my point really is that the behaviors around content consumption are profoundly changing.  The whole architecture of how we make content. Not so much the filming and the recording of it, and the shaping of it in the edit suite, but certainly the point at which it leaves that edit suite and goes through production and distribution chain to get to the consumer.  That is having to be dramatically rearchitected in order to meet the demands of the consumer.

Mark Harrison:  But even in the production realm, although we might use the same tools, we now have to just work incredibly fast because of the appetite for consumers to have good content, really quickly.  So it’s not that the production and the delivery end isn’t being changed, it is but it’s being changed in response to consumer behaviors and I guess what I’m saying is, we need to take those more seriously.

Larry Jordan:  Well the title of your presentation was Why We Get Trends Wrong and How To Get Them Right.  We’ve talked about that we’re missing the mark perhaps in not paying enough attention to consumer behavior.  What do we need to do to get trends right in the future?

Mark Harrison:  Well there’s a number of things.  The first is, we have to simply be less snobbish about what it is that consumers like doing.  I’ll give you an example. A few years back video became incredibly popular on Smartphones. A lot of people began to film holding their Smartphone upright.  It was the wrong aspect ratio from the point of view of any filmmaker. For a long time people who worked in say broadcasting, just insisted consumers were wrong, they were going to have to learn how to shoot correctly.  Well, consumers didn’t give a fig, they just went on shooting, holding their smartphones the wrong way up. As a result, they introduced a whole new aspect ratio, and vertical video is now a capability that has to be incorporated into lots of video playing and creating products, and also it’s a format that now has to be used by people who produce short form content such as news and sport.  You have to take it seriously.

Mark Harrison: That’s thing number one.  Respect what consumers are doing, even if it seems odd to you because it’s going to impact you sooner or later.  The second thing is, follow the money even if it doesn’t in itself look as if it’s going to create something new and exciting.  So what I mean by that is, if you look at the amount of money that consumers in North America alone are due to spend this year, 2018, on three things, ultra high definition televisions, Smartphones and streamed video and music, three things that belong together because all that streaming content goes into UHD TVs or into Smartphones, they are going to spend $100 billion this year alone just in North America.  What are they due to spend on VR? One billion. So, it’s obvious that anything that happens in that streamed video realm into those devices, is going to be massively significant. So watch that space and watch for any particular consumer obsessions that happen within it, because they’re going to be the ones that matter for us.

Larry Jordan:  So if you were to take a step back and look at where we’re going to be in three or four years, because I don’t think anybody can look out much farther than that, where are we going to be?

Mark Harrison:  We’ll be making more and better audio visual content than ever before, and there’s no doubt in my mind we’re living in a golden age for directors and producers and for content distributors, and of course for consumers.  There’s some absolutely fantastic stuff out there. We’ll have more and more of it, it’ll get better and better, and consumers will have an appetite for it that grows and grows. But, they will have a problem that needs solving.  Actually, they’ll have two problems that need solving. The first is that they will become extremely intolerant of streamed video that doesn’t stream well. So simple considerations like connectivity, and the video playing capability of devices, is going to be absolutely key.  

Mark Harrison:  Secondly, and I think even more important, the one thing that’s going to irritate consumers more and more is there’s all this great content, but they can’t find it.  The notion of having to move between different platforms, different providers, different devices to get to what they want, is going to really annoy them. At the moment they could subscribe to a music service, and they needn’t even type any more.  They can just say to their device, the title of any piece of music in the world from any point in history, and there’s a very good chance it will start playing for them there and then. They’re going to demand that that’s the case with video and it’s only a matter of  how the industry ends up delivering that to them.

Larry Jordan:   Mark, that’s some amazing things for us to think about.  For people that want to keep track about what DPP is doing and reports like this that you’re generating, where can they go on the web?

Mark Harrison:  They can find us at our rather long address, which is  That’s our website.

Larry Jordan:  You couldn’t get something shorter huh?

Mark Harrison:  It’s a shame that DPP is also the name of a government body in the UK, so that might give people rather the wrong idea.

Larry Jordan:  That website is all one word,, not .com.  Mark Harrison is the co-founder and managing director of DPP, and Mark, thanks for joining us today.

Mark Harrison:  It’s been a real pleasure Larry as always.

Larry Jordan:  Doug Sheer is one of the broadcast and production industry’s leading researchers and consultants.  He’s been in the field for close to 48 years, and he formed DIS Consulting in 1982 and the firm has served over 1800 clients, most of them manufacturers.  It also serves as the SMPTE governor for the New York region. Hello Doug, welcome back.

Douglas Sheer:  Thank you.

Larry Jordan:  How would you describe DIS Consulting?

Douglas Sheer:  The primary focus is on end users.  By that I mean professionals who are active in the different parts of media and entertainment industry ranging from broadcasts on the high end let’s say, down to the ranks of the freelance providers.

Larry Jordan:  What kinds of projects do you work on?

Douglas Sheer:  Over the years we’ve studied everything from single product categories like camcorders, servers, lighting to entire marketplace like the digital cinematography market in which there are many products currently in use.

Larry Jordan:  I notice on your website that you’re working with a partnership with NAB.  What are you doing with them?

Douglas Sheer:  It’s just a strategic partnership that originally had us doing work for them, and then emerged as a way of helping to produce market research and helping to find avenues for marketing.

Larry Jordan:  I can’t think of anybody who’s been in our industry longer and studying it more intensively than yourself.  This week, we’re talking about the state of our industry. What are your thoughts on the current state of the media and entertainment industry?

Douglas Sheer:  Keeping in mind that we really focus on the end users, the professional users of equipment, the people who are the creatives that are making the media, and that our client base is mainly manufacturers of equipment.  Having said that, our focus is on changes that are affecting those two constituencies and among them, what I would call the massive explosion in the ranks of freelancers, so another way of putting it is the Uberization of the professional film and TV workforce, the rising of a gig economy and the burgeoning of the numbers of people, many of whom used to be full time employees in various ways, now working exclusively freelancing.

Larry Jordan:  To me, when I hear you describe it, it sounds like budgets are collapsing and more people are making less money.

Douglas Sheer:  Well there is a squeeze, there’s no question that there’s a squeeze on the incomes of these now increasingly freelance people.  Where they might have been making anywhere from 60 to $150,000 a year, as an inside staff member somewhere, they now might make more like 25 or $35,000 with the exception of the big markets, so LA, San Francisco and New York, DC, certain larger markets if we’re just looking at North America.  There the pay skills are higher, but the work of course is very competitive.

Larry Jordan:  Seems to me this would have a ripple effect up to manufacturers.  If the people that use their gear don’t have as much money, they’re not going to be buying as much gear.

Douglas Sheer:  Well it’s funny.  It’s had two effects.  In the most recent five years, it’s built companies like Blackmagic because companies that were offering camcorders and other products very affordably, say 4K quality camcorders, found a huge market of more and more people pouring into the freelance ranks, who needed to have basic capabilities.  They needed to have a camcorder, they needed to have an editing suite. So they needed to buy those things. So at least in the most recent history, it’s actually been beneficial to some companies, and it’s hurt other companies, so it’s been a mixed bag.

Larry Jordan:  Well let’s project out.  What are you seeing in the near future for say the next one to three years?

Douglas Sheer:  Well I definitely see a recession.

Larry Jordan: How so?

Douglas Sheer:  An economic recession across the broad span of all markets and people that have tried to time such things have gotten into trouble.  So I’m just going to say that if people are curious, all they need do is take a look at Wikipedia and look at the number of recessions, the timing of them, the duration of them, and the depth of them, and they would see that as my father used to say, “We’re cruising for a bruising.”  The way it will affect our media and entertainment industry is combining with a weakening dollar, higher interest rates and the enormous debt that we’re carrying which is now 21 trillion, I think it’s going to bring tremendous pressure on media and entertainment markets, theme parks, theater attendance, pay cable, consumer electronics purchases, and on some of the many jobs that I’ve been talking about.  It will ripple across the industry.

Larry Jordan:  So what should media professionals do to get ready or to prepare for this?

Douglas Sheer:  Sell your equities.  Seriously. I’m a lifelong bull, so I’m very much the optimist, but in the short term I would say the sensible thing, and of course I’m not a financial adviser, but I would be certainly careful about how much money to have in equities.  The other thing too is, to the degree that you can find employment on the inside as opposed to being a freelancer, if that’s what your life looks like today that you’re a freelancer, I would say that would be helpful, although in a true recession no job is absolutely guaranteed.

Douglas Sheer:  But there are other aspects to the near future that I think are worth looking at in terms of the impact that they will have on media and entertainment.  The other is the trade war, so we’re certainly getting ourselves into what I would call a looming trade war which although right now it’s very limited in its scope, the retaliation on the part of some foreign countries, may start to have impacts on this market.  I think also that one thing I see that’s developing, is a more careful governmental look at companies like Apple, Facebook, Google, Twitter and Amazon and many other tech companies. So I think particularly after the mid terms, it’s a possibility that we would start to see much more scrutiny of those companies, and maybe that might even ultimately in some cases, lead to pressure to break them up.

Larry Jordan:  So what do you see as reasons for hope?  This is a pretty bleak assessment of the next few years.

Douglas Sheer:  I guess you would say it is a bleak assessment of the next few years.  But I think that from the perspective of manufacturers who have been the primary clients, media and entertainment is not the only part of their market.  So there’s the education market, there’s corporate, medical, governmental, there are many different aspects of the market, not just strictly media and entertainment.  So in that sense, there’s a lot of growth going on. I think that even during a recession some areas benefit and others don’t. I also think that in some product areas, let’s say technology areas like VR and artificial intelligence generally, the internet of things, and the direction of automation, robotics and so forth, I think that in those areas is a lot of opportunity for growth that could possibly supplant the hit that some of the creative tools may take.

Larry Jordan:  Some fascinating comments.  Doug, for people that want to follow your thinking, where can they go on the web?

Douglas Sheer:  We have a website, which is and I’m happy to receive emails which is

Larry Jordan:  That website is, all one word, and Doug Sheer is the founder of DIS Consulting, and Doug, thanks for joining us today.

Douglas Sheer:  You’re very welcome.

Larry Jordan:  Stefan Lederer is the co-founder and CEO of Bitmovin.  They provide software that solves complex video problems for leading media companies worldwide.  Hello Stefan, welcome.

Stefan Lederer:  Hello.  Thanks for having me on the show.

Larry Jordan:  How would you describe Bitmovin?

Stefan Lederer:  Bitmovin is a tool set out of different parts of the media workflow.  Media encoding, media playback, media analytics. So we are providing those tools to engineers to develop us, to produce us out in the market, really put together a first class streaming system.  So we try to be as good as Netflix, and outperforming leading providers in the market with the technology, with the compression standards that we’re using, with the play implementations that we’re using, with the data that we are generating, for analytic solutions.  So really to provide a leading service on the market and our customers like the New York Times, like Sling, like Periscope, our cloud player for example, are choosing us because of this performance and expertise advantage.

Larry Jordan:  Is your principle market, the people who buy your products, developers who are putting products together for consumers, or are you selling direct to consumers?

Stefan Lederer:   There are developers that build consumer facing applications, like on the media streaming services.  At the same time we have companies with customers that build end to end turnkey solutions for consumers as well as for prosumers or professionals as well as for streaming services.  We are not selling to consumers directly, but we have a lot of professionals using our service for projects small as well as big.

Larry Jordan:   You recently gave a talk at South by Southwest about net neutrality.  What did you speak about?

Stefan Lederer:   Yes, that was an amazing talk.  We had for example Heather of Mozilla who’s heading policy there.  We had Nitin from Cloudflare, one of the rising stars in the CDN space and we had … as a moderator who was responsible for net neutrality and why combine one of the most important company explorators in the Silicon Valley.  We talked about the problems that are arising by now the internet being unregulated, having better pipes for streaming services like Netflix, for those large incumbents, and how missing net neutrality is hindering and limiting new players in the market to enter the market.  We talked about serial metering for example for a bandwidth consumption of apps like Netflix versus new providers how to survive in such an ecosystem. We also talked about all the problems that are arising for the consumers if there’s no net neutrality given. … mentioned at the end of his interview that there were so many different news cases and a way for media, it’s also governments communicate with their population via video.  If … online fitness, it has … so many other areas where video is an essential part and net neutrality is essential to guarantee that all the consumers can access those services in the best possible quality and not only the leading five streaming services in the market.

Larry Jordan:  Well what do you see as the fallout?  I know that a number of people are taking the FCC to court to try to overturn the current rules, but what do you see as the fallout if the rules are not overturned?

Stefan Lederer:  What we see is that for example … is preferring certain large providers like YouTube, like Netflix, like the leading streaming services, and it’s extremely hard if you’re now starting your own thing, starting your own live streaming service, on demand streaming service or in general video product.  It can also be like Warship or education and so on. Now the consumer cannot watch this service in the same quality as Netflix because you are not in this premium pipe. You’re in the standard pipe … and the quality you can deliver to this particular user is lower than with the market leading services.  It’s hard for you to enter the market and be competitive. That’s I think one of the major issues that we see, that we are afraid that the variety of services on the market is suffering by a loss of net neutrality due to recent rulings.

Larry Jordan:  One of the other things that caught my eye was a recent report that Bitmovin put together that analyzed the types of media that we’re producing.  What did you guys discover?

Stefan Lederer:  You see so many different areas where media is used.  Media broadcasters and … MSOs, they’re very classic, the media providers that we know over the last decade.  But new forms of media are everywhere on the internet. With the push of the button, you can generate video with today’s phones and cameras, and you can share it on social networks and your website and so on.  Services like Facebook and Instagram or Snap Chat is completely videocentric, but also beyond that, services like for example Cloudflare or online Word Press or other services are having media as an essential part of their offering.  So everybody can contribute media now … and we see more and more services coming out in the elearning space where we see for example you can learn coding, other skills. Elearning is this huge market, we recently saw a market study that said … $60 billion market which is crazy.  And you also see for example, light streaming of niche sports, or high school sport events, but also esports and things like that. Also in fitness or lifestyle or cooking and all those things where you think there are new ways of consuming content, even ecommerce. Websites are using media to spread or show what their goods look like, and we see media as entering so many spaces.  

Stefan Lederer:  One good one for example is internet communication.  Every HR department is super keen on using media for better communication, for delivering information to new employees or existing employees, town hall events or a company … speeches, are big topics for large companies, Fortune 5000 companies.  It’s unbelievable how much effort is going into those workflows. But it justifies the importance of media nowadays.

Larry Jordan:  Stefan, for people that want more information or want to learn more about your company, where can they go on the web?

Stefan Lederer:  Go to and we have a lot of information up there, also for new technology, like … which is more efficient encoding form.  There’s other things that you need for example to fight for net neutrality even if it’s not enforced in the network, and there are a lot of interesting things in our blog which I recommend everybody to come and read about.

Larry Jordan:  That website is and Stefan Lederer is the co-founder and CEO.  Stefan, thanks for joining us today.

Stefan Lederer:  Thank you very much.

Larry Jordan:  Bye bye.

Larry Jordan:   Here’s another website I want to introduce you to. 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.

Larry Jordan:  Randi Altman is the editor-in-chief of  She’s been writing about our industry for more than 20 years, and she is an expert on what’s happening in post production.  Hello Randi, it’s been too long since we last heard your voice. Welcome back.

Randi Altman:  Thanks Larry, it’s good to be here.

Larry Jordan:  There’s two things I want to chat with you about today.  First is the general state of the media industry and more specifically, women in our industry.  And we’ll start with the industry. You’ve just returned from the HPA tech retreat, what are your thoughts on what you found there?

Randi Altman:  As usual, I was hoping to see more young people and more women, and I probably did see a little bit more of both.  It was well attended, it’s a great place to be, only because everywhere you go you see somebody you know, and if you don’t know them, you’re sitting next to them and you get to know them, so it’s a wonderful place to learn about technology and trends, and also make friends and potential colleagues and things like that.  So it was definitely worthwhile. In terms of the industry and with NAB approaching, there is some excitement, and I have a feeling that the term for NAB this year is going to be AI, so it’ll be interesting to see where that is at, how they think it’s going to affect, or the products that are available for AI and post and production and where that’s leading.  Some people are dubious, some people are excited. Just like any sort of new path in the industry, there are believers and non-believers, so it’ll be nice to go and see some product and decide where we’re at.

Larry Jordan:  How does AI affect media?

Randi Altman: Not necessarily the creative process, but I think it can help with some of the more tedious parts of the job.  You and I have spoken about this in the past too, is will it put any creatives out of business? I truly don’t believe that, because I do believe that kind of creativity is human, and that’s always important.

Larry Jordan:  Earlier tonight we heard from Doug Sheer who feels that our industry is heading for some tough times.  There’s too many freelancers chasing too few jobs, budgets are continuing to shrink, combined with what he sees as a recession in the broader US economy.  In other words, tough times for media. What’s your thought?

Randi Altman:  Well I’m not the sky is falling kind of person but what he says, there’s a lot of truth to that, yes.  There are a lot of freelancers and budgets are shrinking and people have to do things in a lot less time than they used to.  But I think what’s going to happen is the industry is just going to continue to adapt to that. I’m not an economist, I don’t know about a possible countrywide recession but I do know that our industry has needed to adapt over the years, and they’ve evolved with that.  The term is, “Evolve or die,” so we have to keep on chugging along so we have to find better workflows, more efficient workflows, until things change.

Larry Jordan:  It just strikes me as we’re in really hard times at the moment.

Randi Altman:  Yes, I know and I have been in this industry long enough to have seen many dips and recessions and the industry always comes back.  It comes back in a different way, but it comes back, things adapt, things change, people find different ways to make a living. I would love for new companies to start popping up all over the place and actually be profitable.  I would love for bigger budgets and more time to work on things, but that’s just a different world now, that doesn’t exist unfortunately, where we are.

Randi Altman:  I think it all goes back to adapting and trying to keep the creative in the forefront and never lose sight of that.  There’s the saying, and I’m going to get it wrong, about how diversity breathes invention? You’ve got to hope that the big giant brains that we have in our industry find different ways to make things efficient without killing the industry itself.

Larry Jordan:  Thinking of things changing, let’s shift gears.  We’re now in the era of Me Too and Time’s Up reflecting the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.  How do you see this changing the role of women in our industry?

Randi Altman:  Well I’ve already started seeing a change which has been really kind of fantastic.  So over the past couple of years, there’s been at the HPA tech retreat, there’s the Women in Post luncheon, and that’s always very nice, and there was a feeling of sisterhood in a sense for the few women that were at the HPA tech retreat.  There was a lot of bonding that was going on and discussions, and also talking to some of the manufacturers and post houses, how they’re gearing up and making a conscious effort to look for qualified women. Not just to hire a woman, because that helps nobody, but to hire qualified women in whatever job they need to fill.  One person said they’re hoping to get to 50 50 but it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take a little bit, so that’s one good thing that’s happening is that people are more aware that they have to look a little bit further to get some really good talent, and talent with different kind of perspectives, which is always a good thing.  

Randi Altman:  But also just opening up the industry to young women and girls who want to join this industry and not be intimidated by engineering in an all male class, starting them early and a perfect example of that is NAB, they have their 4K charity run.  I’ll see you there I’m assuming?

Larry Jordan:  The 4K charity run?

Randi Altman:  Yes.

Larry Jordan:  Only if I can walk.

Randi Altman: That’s Tuesday morning and it’s a charity run, and one of the places that the proceeds are going to is Girls that Code.  Trying to spread the word a little bit and start programs to get girls to code, and not to be intimidated by it, and you don’t necessarily have to be a mathematician to code.  Anyone can do it.

Larry Jordan:  Do you see these changes as being systemic?  Or do you see them being lip service?

Randi Altman:  No I think that they’re systemic, I really do think that it’s opened up people’s eyes and something maybe they haven’t thought about.  I don’t believe that it was like a director was deliberately only hiring men on the crew. I just think that they weren’t thinking about it and they’d always been surrounded by men, and it just seemed normal.  So I think that their eyes are opened a bit more, and I think that you have initiatives that are happening, for instance just interviewed a director named Jessica Sanders, and she edited a short, which was at Sundance.  She went out of her way to hire mostly female crew, including a VFX supervisor and she said that’s one of the areas in the industry that is wanting. There’s just not a ton of VFX supervisors that are female, she says. So she made a conscious effort, she’s always wanted to work with women, she likes having that perspective, but it was also part of a short film series that was dedicated to supporting the voices of female filmmakers, so there is a lot of this going on.  Again, it’s like muscle memory. Once you get used to doing it, it’s just going to happen.

Larry Jordan:  Why do you think there’s so few qualified women out there?  What can we do to boost the number of folks available?

Randi Altman:  Well I think there are a good amount of qualified women out there.  I just think that again, it’s the just not thinking about, there’s less women in the industry than men, and maybe you have to look a little further.  But again I think it’s getting to the girls young, and making them comfortable with more of the technical roles in the industry. We have a lot of creatives, executive producers, but those roles, the more technical roles are actually starting to attract some young females.  So I’m hoping that just continues. Again, I really do believe it will be muscle memory. I mean hopefully in a couple of years, we won’t even think twice about it.

Larry Jordan: How about the pay differential between men and women?  Are you seeing that start to be addressed?

Randi Altman:  You know, to be honest, I don’t know that much about the pay differences.  Obviously within the larger scope of the world, yes, and within any industry.  But that’s not an area that I know about. I’m hoping again, people are going to open their eyes and realize that talent is talent, and for the same job one shouldn’t be making more than the other.  So again, I hope that people are just more aware.

Larry Jordan: So if you were to put your future seeking hat on, what do you think’s going to happen over the next two years?

Randi Altman:  I think that we’re going to find more and more women in different roles within the industry.  Women holding each other up, and promoting each other. Qualified women. Again, you know, to go back to the bit about companies hiring women, it’s all about hiring qualified and talented people, regardless of gender, and it wouldn’t help anyone if they just hired women to hire women.  They need to hire the women that fill the role and fill it well, so same thing with men. I’m hoping that in two years we won’t even be having this conversation. That’s my wish. I hope that it comes true.

Larry Jordan:  And Randi, for people that want to keep track of what you’re writing and thinking, where can they go on the web?

Randi Altman:  They can go to

Larry Jordan:  That’s all one word, and Randi Altman is the editor-in-chief of and Randi, it’s always a treat talking to you.  Thanks for joining us today.

Randi Altman:  Thanks Larry.

Larry Jordan:  I was just reflecting on our interviews tonight.  There’s no doubt that our industry is in a time of upheaval but as Randi Altman made clear, we’ve been in upheaval for the last 20 years.  The switch from film to digital, from high priced hardware to software that runs on personal computers, from the shift from large technical crews to one man bands.  Our industry has been buffeted by changes in audience viewing, technology and budgets for a long time.

Larry Jordan: It’s easy listening to our guests to get depressed.  There are no end to the challenges we face as media creators.  Motivational author Napoleon Hill once wrote, “Every diversity carries with it the seed of equal or greater benefit.”  Think back to the tools filmmakers were using 20, 30, even 40 years ago. Primitive and limited when compared to what we have today, yet even with the equivalent of stone knives and bear claws, they were able to tell compelling stories that we still watch today.

Larry Jordan:  This is why Mark Harrison’s comments are so relevant.  Don’t focus on the latest tools, focus on your audience.  What do they want to see or hear, or learn? What’s our goal?  Is it to tell compelling stories, or use the latest gear? If we’ve learned anything over the last few years, it’s that we must not define ourselves in terms of the gear we use, but the stories we tell. A carpenter is not someone who pounds nails with a Stanley hammer, but a craftsman who creates kitchens.  

Larry Jordan:  Randi Altman is correct.  Adversity has always driven creative change.  In two weeks, NAB will showcase the latest in tools and technology, but as storytellers, we need to remind ourselves that our clients don’t care what tools we use, but the results we deliver with the tools that we use.  Just something I’m thinking about.

Larry Jordan:  I want to thank our guests this week, Mark Harrison with DPP, Douglas Sheer with DIS Consulting, Stefan Lederer with Bitmovin, Randi Altman with and James DeRuvo with

Larry Jordan:   There’s a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website, at 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.

Larry Jordan:  Talk with us on Twitter @DPBuzz and Facebook at  

Larry Jordan:   Our theme music is composed by Nathan Dugi-Turner with additional music provided by  Text transcripts are provided by Take1 Transcription. Visit to learn how they can help you.

Larry Jordan:   Our producer is Debbie Price, my name is Larry Jordan, and thanks for listening to The Digital Production Buzz.
Larry Jordan:  The Digital Production Buzz is copyright 2018 by Thalo LLC.

Digital Production Buzz – March 22, 2018

Tonight, we look at the state of the media industry two weeks before NAB redefines it for the coming year. From issues like hardware trends that fail to succeed, net neutrality, too many free-lancers chasing too few jobs and the changing role of women in media, we look at the current state of the industry and see where we are heading. Not all the new is good, but all of it is important.

Join host Larry Jordan as he talks with Mark Harrison, Douglas Sheer, Stefan Lederer, Randi Altman and James DeRuvo.

  • The Future Isn’t What We Think It Is
  • Media is in for some Rough Times
  • The Unintended Consequences of Net Neutrality
  • Women’s Roles in Media are Changing
  • The Weekly DoddleNEWS Update

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Listen to the Full Episode

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Buzz on iTunes

Guests this Week

The Future Isn’t What We Think It Is

Mark Harrison
Mark Harrison, Managing Director, DPP (Digital Production Partnership)
The Digital Production Partnership (DPP) is a Membership-based, not-for-profit company, founded to make the move to fully digital, global, internet-enabled content creation and distribution work more productively for everyone in media. Tonight, Mark Harrison, Managing Director of the DPP, talks about trends in our industry and where we have been getting it wrong.

Media is in for some Rough Times

Douglas Sheer
Douglas Sheer, CEO / Chief Analyst, D.I.S. Consulting
Douglas Sheer is an optimist who is very worried about the future. Doug founded D.I.S. Consulting and for the last 40 years has been researching professional media users and manufacturers. What he sees now is troubling and you need to know what’s coming.

The Unintended Consequences of Net Neutrality

Stefan Lederer
Stefan Lederer, CEO, Bitmovin
Our next guest is an expert in data management for online video. Stefan Lederer, CEO of Bitmovin, talks about how net neutrality, and the changes that are currently planned, affects innovation and new companies.

Women’s Roles in Media are Changing

Randi Altman
Randi Altman, Editor-in-Chief, postPerspective
Fresh from her recent trip to the HPA Tech Retreat, Randi Altman, editor-in-chief of, joins us tonight to share her thoughts on the state of the media industry and reflect on the changing role of and respect for women in our industry.

The Weekly DoddleNEWS Update

James DeRuvo
James DeRuvo, Editor-in-Chief, DoddleNEWS.
James DeRuvo Editor-in-Chief at, has a multi-faceted career spanning radio, film and publishing. With experience covering technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James joins us every week to present the latest industry news.

Transcript: Digital Production Buzz – March 15, 2018


Larry Jordan

Julian Slater, Sound Designer/Supervising Sound Editor, Sony Pictures

Christian Cooke and Brad Zoern, Post Production Sound Mixer, Deluxe, Toronto

Jeff Berryman, Senior Scientist, Bosch Communication Systems

Christopher Johnson, President and Founder,

Robert Kiraz, Co-Founder and CEO, StudioBinder

James DeRuvo, Editor-in-Chief, DoddleNEWS


Larry Jordan: Tonight on the Buzz, we look at audio mixing, hardware and production planning.  We start with Oscar nominated sound designer Julian Slater. He has more than 75 features to his credit.  Tonight, we talk about how he creates the soundscape for a film, including his recent sound design and mixing on Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

Larry Jordan:  Next, we move to an Oscar winning film, The Shape of Water and talk with its two re-recording mixers, Christian Cooke and Brad Zoern.  They’ve worked as an audio team for more than ten years, and tonight they talk about how they created the final audio mix for this Oscar winning film.

Larry Jordan:   Jeff Berryman claims that the amount of information a media professional needs to know about how to use networks is more than they should need to know.  Jeff is a senior scientist for Bosch Communications and chair of several AES standards committees. Tonight he explains what we need to know to become intelligent users of network equipment.

Larry Jordan:   Next we turn from audio to hardware. is a company that customizes computer hardware to meet the specific high performance needs of media professionals.  Tonight we talk with president and founder, Christopher Johnson about how they create tailor made hardware for media pros.

Larry Jordan:   Production planning can be a headache filled with ever present deadlines, mountains of paperwork and thousands of details to track.  Tonight we talk with Robert Kiraz, co founder and CEO of StudioBinder, a cloud based solution to help put everything in one place and reduce your stress.

Larry Jordan:  All this, plus James DeRuvo with our weekly doddleNEWS update.  The Buzz starts now.

Announcer: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking, Authoritative: One show serves 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 have a variety of things to talk about but we’re going to start with audio which seems appropriate for an audio podcast. Our first two interviews revolve around Oscar nominated films and audio mixers.  As you listen to the interviews with Justin Slater, Christian Cooke and Brad Zoern, listen to the size and diversity of the teams they work with to bring the sound of our movies to life. Many times as I sit in a dark editing room working on a project, I wonder what it would be like to be part of a bigger team working on a larger project.  Tonight’s interviews provide an interesting perspective on what’s possible and how it works.

Larry Jordan:  Then we turn our attention to improving our network skills, creating custom high performance hardware for visual effects, and improving our production planning.  We have some fascinating guests tonight and I’m looking forward to our conversation.

Larry Jordan: Before we start though, I want to invite you to subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at  Every issue, every week, provides quick links to the different segments on the show, plus articles of interest to filmmakers.  Best of all, every issue is free, and comes out on Saturday morning.

Larry Jordan:  Now it’s time for our doddleNEWS update with James DeRuvo.  Hello James.

James DeRuvo:   Happy Thursday Larry.  

Larry Jordan:  A very happy Thursday to you, and I will let you know that it’s less than four weeks to NAB.

James DeRuvo:  Less than a month.

Larry Jordan:  So what have we got for news today?

James DeRuvo:  Well you remember that story that we talked about last week, it was actually more of a rumor that Canon might be shifting focus to mirrorless camera technology?

Larry Jordan:  Yes.

James DeRuvo:  Granted, they’ve been making mirrorless cameras for a while but it’s always been as an also ran, but now we’re starting to hear that they’re going to start focusing on mirrorless, and it kind of makes sense because if you look at the rental numbers for 2017, Sony mirrorless cameras and the Panasonic GH5 were at the top of the list.  They’re very popular with runners and gunners who want to rent a camera for the weekend and shoot. We’ve got a couple of interviews this week, one from Canon’s CEO Fujio Mitarai, and from Sony Camera manager, Kenji Tanaka, that seemed to add weight to this notion that Canon is actually shifting towards mirrorless and Nikon may be coming along with them.  It comes from Tanaka saying at Camera Plus this week that he expects both Canon and Nikon to have full frame mirrorless cameras for sale within a year. Canon’s CEO Mitarai basically said that Canon plans to go on the offensive in the mirrorless camera realm, and so this is going to make that category very interesting if Canon takes mirrorless and runs with it seriously.

Larry Jordan:  Looks like there’s more mirrorless cameras in our future.  What’s our second story?

James DeRuvo:  It’s Canon camera day here at the Buzz.  The Canon 5D Mark IV has developed a minor high frame rate issue.  It’s not a deal breaker if you don’t use the Canon mobile app. If you use the Canon mobile app on the android side, there’s no confirmation of it for iOS yet, but when Canon’s Android remote app triggers high frame rate in the 5D Mark IV, it could cause the camera to hang up and crash and the only way to clear it is to remove the battery, count to ten seconds, and then pop it back in.

Larry Jordan:  So what’s the specific issue?

James DeRuvo:  There’s a bit of code that is causing the handshake between the Android app and the camera itself to hang up, and that’s causing the camera to crash.  More often than not this is bad code that’s in the app, not in the camera itself. Canon is aware of the problem. They responded immediately to users who have complained about the issue, and they should have a firmware fix out within the next four to six weeks.  But it’s a salient reminder that our cameras are more computers than imaging devices these days, and sometimes they can simply crash when they get a command they don’t understand.

Larry Jordan:  We’ve heard about Nikon, and Sony and Canon.  Do you have any stories that don’t involve cameras this week?

James DeRuvo:   I have a software story.  Adobe announced this week that for the first time in five years they’re raising the price of Creative Cloud.  Starting April 16th, there’s going to be a modest six percent price increase for Creative Cloud, in both piecemeal and all-you-can-eat subscriptions.  But it’s not that big a deal. The increase amounts to between $1-2 a month and if you’re a student user, or you are using the Adobe photography plan, those plans are going to remain as is, unaffected, and you’ll be paying the same amount.

Larry Jordan:  Is this Adobe’s first price increase?

James DeRuvo:  Very first price increase and when you consider how dramatically they’ve expanded the entire Creative Cloud catalog, they’ve added applications like Adobe Character Animator, Adobe Spark, Adobe Stock and others, no increase in five years, that’s really impressive.  The increase doesn’t even amount to the cost of a latte at Starbucks, so I don’t even think it’s a big deal. But the good news is, if you just signed up or renewed your subscription, that increase won’t appear until your renewal date. So that could be up to a year.

Larry Jordan:  News from Adobe.  What other stories are you following this week?

James DeRuvo:  Well other stories we’re following include Rycote has a great microphone blimp kit that can be modified to be even smaller. I reviewed the Robo R2 3D printer and boy, that was an odyssey.  My question to you this week Larry, is are cinema cameras getting too complicated?

Larry Jordan:  The answer is yes and no.  If it has the controls that you need, no, and if it has more controls than you need, yes.  Where can we go on the web to read all these stories?

James DeRuvo:  All these stories and more can be found at

Larry Jordan:   James DeRuvo is the Editor in Chief of doddleNEWS and James, as always, thanks for joining us and we’ll talk to you next week.

James DeRuvo:  See you next week.

Female voice:  Starting Monday April 9, join the Digital Production Buzz at the 2018 NAB show in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Larry Jordan and the Buzz team are taking their microphones on the road to cover the latest news and announcements from the largest media show in the world.  Every hour of every day, the Buzz is live on the trade show floor. More than 100 interviews creating 27 new shows in four days. The Buzz has webcast directly from NAB for ten years and our coverage is legendary, heard in more than 195 countries around the world.  If you’re attending the show, visit us at booth SL10 527 and say “Hello.” If you can’t attend, visit for a schedule of shows and guests. That’s and join the Buzz at NAB.

Larry Jordan:  Julian Slater has created sound for more than 75 feature films and television shows over a 25 year career.  These include most recently Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Baby Driver. He was nominated this year for two Academy Awards for best sound mixing, and best sound editing, and is a two time Emmy award nominee.  Hello Julian, welcome.

Julian Slater:  Thanks for having me.

Larry Jordan:  75 features is a ton of work.  What first got you interested in sound mixing?

Julian Slater:  That’s the first time anyone has ever relayed that kind of information to me, and I’m slightly shocked at hearing that.  I guess it’s been quite a lot of work over the course of the last 25 years.

Larry Jordan:  What got you started?  What is it that hooked your interest in audio?

Julian Slater:  A number of things, and looking back on them now I can probably identify them.  I know it was the cassette Walkman whereby I spent a ton of my time listening to music and getting interested in any kind of music, and I do remember when I was about nine or ten, seeing a documentary with Ben Burtt, the sound designer of Star Wars, and how he came up with the sounds of the laser blasters and Chewbacca and the TIE fighters.  Even though I didn’t know it at the time, I think that had a big effect, like a lightbulb moment. Then latterly, when I was about 12, I do remember seeing the music video for the Police, Every Little Thing She Does is Magic. They’re on this big mixing desk and they’re just pushing these faders up and down, and I distinctly remember thinking, “Wow.  That looks really cool. I want to do that.” Fast forward 25 years, that’s kind of what I’m doing.

Larry Jordan:  You’ve worked in a variety of different audio roles.  Which do you enjoy the most?

Julian Slater:  It can depend on the production.  I wear three hats. I’m a sound designer which means I can sit there for weeks and weeks coming up with some weird and wonderful noises that may or may not get used.  I’m a supervising sound editor which means I run a team of other sound editors, and with that I have two roles. One is I have a duty to the producer to bring the project in on budget.  And at the very least it’s to give the director what he or she is thinking for their sound for their movie, and hopefully it’s to go further than that, and to help them get stuff they probably didn’t even think could be possible.

Larry Jordan:  When have you had a producer say, “Don’t worry about the budget, spend whatever you need?”  And when have you ever had a director say, “I don’t care about my creative vision, I want to save money?”

Julian Slater:  Exactly.  I do remember on Shaun of the Dead, which was the first time I’d worked and I had my own post facility at that time, we put in a budget quote and it’s the only time I’ve ever been told I was too cheap because I was an unknown entity, I hadn’t really done big features at that point.  Universal were worried it was so cheap that it meant that I didn’t really know what I was doing, which wasn’t the case at all. But that’s the only time subsequent in my career that I’ve been told that the quote is too low. It is a tricky high wire act sometimes to accomplish those two roles successfully.  

Julian Slater:  Then there’s the third role I was going to say which is the re-recording mixer, which is the person who sits there on the desk and then blends all those hundreds and hundreds of elements together to make it work as one whole, hopefully harmonious sounding soundtrack.

Larry Jordan:  Let’s shift gears to the specific.  Recently you worked on Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.  What did you do?

Julian Slater:  All three of those.  So that was me involved for eight months as the sound designer coming up with the sound of the hippos for example, and the charging rhinos in the helicopter sequence.  As the co-supervisor, there was me and another guy who we shared the duties on running a team of six or seven editors, and that was over the course of six months. Then, mixing it was quite a big thing on this project.  I think we mixed for something like maybe even eight weeks in total.

Larry Jordan:  What took so long?

Julian Slater:  VFX kept coming in late, the schedule got pushed because various reasons.  With a movie like that, you’ve got a lot of visual effects that are continually coming in and you kind of settle on the sounds at one point for say the helicopter, which is moving in one way at one particular point in the sequence, and then the new turnover comes through and it’s doing something different.  If you’ve already done a mix on that, you need to rework all the elements and then remix it, so that’s what we were doing. For Jumanji I was on that for nine months, so that’s quite a long stint.

Larry Jordan:   Put your sound designer hat on, and let’s talk about the jungle sounds in Jumanji.  Where do you start, and how do you create them? Do you record something naturally or start with something artificially generated?  Walk me through your process.

Julian Slater:  It’s a bit of both of those actually.  The great thing about Jumanji is it’s a computer game.  You don’t really have to be beholden to any reality. Jumanji is a place that doesn’t exist, and therefore we can have fun with the sounds.  So we wanted the sounds of Jumanji to change as the guys were walking through the jungle. I’ve a vast library of sound effects from various commercial sound effects libraries, from previous movies that I’ve worked on.  But then you also go out and you record some stuff. Because I wasn’t beholden to, this is a jungle that is based in Borneo or in the rain forest in Brazil, you can do what you want. As long as it sounds right, and as long as everyone agrees that it sounds right, you can kind of do anything you want.  So along with regular jungle noises, I took things like wolves crying and howling and slowing them down, and making weird noises that hopefully prick up your ears a bit and make you a bit on edge when there’s tension about to happen.

Julian Slater:  There’s no hard and fast rules to it, and as long as it’s something that hopefully excites the audience, and helps tell a story, then go for it and have fun and do something that’s hopefully unique.

Larry Jordan:  How do you and the director communicate when you’re trying to describe something that doesn’t yet exist?

Julian Slater:  That’s a good question.  The thing that I find about my job for want of a better phrase, the challenge about it, and also the fun thing about it, is no two directors hear sounds the same.  I literally came off a plane on a Friday night from Baby Driver where I spent seven months in the UK working with Edgar Wright, who thinks about sound in one very particular way, and then I had the weekend off and then I came into work on a Monday and started Jumanji with Jake who thinks about sound in a completely different way, and I’d never worked with Jake before so my role is to try and tap into how that director feels about sound and what it is they’re after, and try and get into their brain as quickly as possible to start servicing their needs.  

Julian Slater:   It’s not necessarily a case of going through the movie and literally watching it through and them saying, “This is what I want here, this is what I want there.”  That doesn’t really happen so much, what’s called spotting sessions where you literally sit through the whole movie. You just have a conversation and you talk emotion and some tableaux of sound and then I’ll go away and start creating stuff and the director will come in, play the first sequence, and hopefully they’ll say “Oh that’s great, that’s exactly the kind of the thing I’m looking for,” or “That’s not quite right, and this is the thing that isn’t quite gelling for me.”  It’s a to and fro process the whole time. You know, there’s no point talking about sounds, we may as well start playing with sounds and seeing how those sounds work within the environment, against the music, or against the dialog and do a trial of it, and then adjust to taste and progress on that. You’re constantly throwing up ideas and hopefully the majority of them work. Sometimes they don’t, more often they do, and it’s about being flexible and not having a specific idea.  

Julian Slater:   I used to say from day one I know exactly how this is going to sound, but I don’t believe that any more at all.  I really do think it’s experimentation and how you feel something should feel on day one of the process is not necessarily how you feel it should sound on day 30 or month two or month four.  It changes as the movie changes.

Larry Jordan:  What characteristics or skill sets does someone need from your perspective, to be successful in sound design and sound mixing?

Julian Slater:  Let me tell you my attitude.  I deeply believe you’ve got to be a team player.  If you’re someone like me who’s a team leader, I lead the sound crew, you’ve got to lead by example.  There are people who do what I do who don’t even do the work, they just come into a room and tell other people what to do and I don’t believe in that.  I do the work and I try and teach the work that I do, to try and pass on the knowledge to people around me if they’re fresher in the industry. I believe a good strength that you should have is to try and think outside the box.  Just to reflect what is on screen is the easy thing. I think anyone can do that and mirror the images with a sound. It’s trying to come from it from a different angle, and trying to think what can be done to make it sound unique.  What can be done to enhance tension or dramatic moments, and emotional moments? That’s not necessarily reflecting what’s on screen at all.

Julian Slater:   Also, as a sound designer and as a mixer, sometimes those two roles are almost the same thing.  Taking away sounds can be just as important as adding sounds and as a sound designer, if you’ve spent three weeks working on a very cool sound, it’s very easy to get offended or upset if it even makes through to the mix, and the director says, “I don’t like this, let’s try something else.”  Try not to be wedded. If you feel it’s right and you feel that it warrants it, you’ve got to go bat for your sounds, and you’ve got to state your reason why but you should never really be too wedded because a mix on a movie has got hundreds of elements and just changing a piece of music for another piece of music can completely change the tone of a scene, and therefore all the other sounds that are working with it.

Julian Slater:  So I would say, good people person, try and think outside the box.

Larry Jordan:   Give me an example of what outside the box means to you.

Julian Slater:   Trying to make a sound that you wouldn’t necessarily expect it to be.  As an example, Steve who was one of the picture editors on Jumanji, he’s on his next job, this was a few weeks ago, and he emailed me in a panic.  He said, “I’ve been trying to make a sound of on this thing of a blood explosion, and I have nothing in my library for it.” I said, “Well try finding a mud splat, try finding an explosion, try to find a canon boom, and then find something completely random to put over the top of it.”  He said, “Why so?” and I said, “Well in Jumanji they’re on these motorbikes and they’ve got these big canons and whenever they fire the canon, there’s a screaming sound which is actually a gibbon screaming,” which is something you would not necessarily put on the sound of a canon blast but it gives it its own unique tone, unique sound to it.  I like to think that if you close your eyes, as you get towards the end of the movie and you hear that sound again, you’ll know what it is, because it’s been lodged in your brain. Steve was like, “Oh wow, that’s great, that’s amazing.” I said, “Well that’s what I did for the canons in Jumanji, I just picked something random.” There’s not necessarily a methodology to it, there’s the phrase of throwing paint at the wall and seeing what sticks.  So that’s the kind of thing, it’s trying to think not just “OK, what does a canon sound like?” It’s trying to explore your peripheral vision a bit.

Larry Jordan:  You’ve been doing this for a long time.  What is it that still gets you excited about getting up in the morning?

Julian Slater:  I literally feel like I have just started my career.  I mean, the whole thing with Baby Driver and the two Oscar noms and I’m still very young.  A lot of my fellow nominees this year were 20 years in advance of me. I really feel like I’ve yet to set out what I started to do.  I came to LA to do a movie that never happened, and I had a year’s worth of work disappear and realized when this year’s worth of work disappeared that all my directors, all my picture editors and producers I’d left in the UK and I didn’t know anyone and I had to start from scratch.  I’m very proud that after just four and a half years, I’ve kind of got to this point where I’ve done two double Oscar nomination in the BAFTA noms, but I still feel there’s further to go, so that’s what drives me in the morning.

Larry Jordan:  Julian, for people that want to hire you for their next gig, where can they find you on the web?

Julian Slater: You could go to Imdb or Imdb Pro, and just search my name, Julian Slater, and my contact details are in there.

Larry Jordan:  That’s all one word, julianslater, and the Julian Slater himself is the voice you’re listening to.  Julian this has been fun, thank you so much for your time.

Julian Slater: Thank you so much.

Larry Jordan:  Christian Cooke and Brad Zoern are re-recording sound mixers at Deluxe in Toronto.  Both were nominated for an Oscar this year for their work audio mixing The Shape of Water.  Hello Christian, and welcome Brad.

Christian Cooke:  Hi.

Brad Zoern:   Thank you very much.

Larry Jordan:  Christian, I want to start first, you guys work often as a team.  When did you first start working together?

Christian Cooke:  Only about ten years ago.

Larry Jordan:  What brought you together?

Christian Cooke:  We were on a TV series called Lost Girl for Jay Firestone.  

Larry Jordan:  Were you mixing at that time or were you doing other audio work?

Christian Cooke:  Mixing.  We were both mixers.

Larry Jordan:  Brad, what got you interested in sound mixing back many years ago?

Brad Zoern: My first full time job was at a post production studio so I originally wanted to do music as most of the people that come into this business, were musicians beforehand, and I really enjoyed the post aspect of the job and found it a much more secure future and not going deaf at the age of 30 from doing music.

Larry Jordan: Christian, how did you get the gig mixing The Shape of Water?

Christian Cooke:  … the post supervisor if I was the available.

Larry Jordan:  It shouldn’t be that easy to get a project that good.

Christian Cooke:  I said “I think I’m available, let me check my schedule.”

Brad Zoern:  Also you had done Strain with Guillermo.

Christian Cooke:  I did the Strain, I did the pilot with Guillermo.

Larry Jordan:  Christian, tell me about the process you followed in mixing the file.  Did both you guys do the exact same work, or did you separate the job? Go into some detail on this.

Christian Cooke:  Well I did the dialog and the music and Brad handled all the good stuff.  Well, the music was amazing, the dialog was pretty good too, it was all great.

Larry Jordan:  There wasn’t a whole lot of dialog.  Your lead character didn’t speak. This is striking me as opting for not a lot of work.

Christian Cooke:  You’d be surprised.  There was a lot of extra breaths.  Nelson Ferreira did a full breath pass with Sally for the whole movie, the entire film.  Like every time she moved or breathed, so there was a lot of breaths to add into the already existing production track.

Larry Jordan:  Why was the breathing so important?

Christian Cooke:  Guillermo wanted to bring her, not more to life, I’m not sure how to describe it, but he just wanted her presence on the screen.

Larry Jordan:  Brad, if Christian is doing the dialog and the music, what’s left to you?

Brad Zoern:  All the background, ambiance, I mixed those as well as the sound effects and all of the creature sounds and all that as well as foley.

Larry Jordan:  How much of that was artificially created, and how much of it was just a recording of the natural world?

Brad Zoern:  The only thing naturally recorded on the set in that would have probably been 70 percent of the lead dialog.  That’s about it. Everything else has been edited by our amazing sound editing team, and the supervising sound editor, sound designer Nathan Robitaille who did all the creature voice and everything like that as well as our foley guys who basically brought the creature to life by doing skin movements, feet, all that sort of thing to put it on the screen and give it some life, because basically everything I had was recreated in a sound edit beforehand.  Not a lot from the original location recordings other than some dialog was what was original in that movie.

Larry Jordan:  How big a team were you working with, from an audio point of view?

Brad Zoern:  Our editorial team on the effects was headed up by Nathan Robitaille who was the sound designer, and probably about four sound effects editors, a couple of guys that did the background, ambient editing and then our foley team which is our foley artists, foley editor and our foley mixer.  So between all those guys, they made up for the editorial team on the sound design, sound effects and foley side of things, and the dialog side would have been three or four, Nelson Ferreira and Jill Purdey.

Larry Jordan:  Christian, I know you took the lead on the project.  What happened when you and Brad would disagree on how something’s supposed to be mixed?

Christian Cooke:  Guillermo would let us know.  We don’t often disagree, we have a very similar mindset as to how to approach a film or a TV show, so.

Brad Zoern:  That’s why we’ve lasted ten years together.

Christian Cooke:  We’re like an old married couple.

Brad Zoern:  Chris is what my wife calls my work wife.

Christian Cooke:  Work wife.

Larry Jordan:  Brad, what were your biggest challenges putting the soundtrack together?

Brad Zoern:  It would have been the creature.  We created the sound of him from the bottom up.  There was absolutely nothing there beforehand, so just making that sound real and putting it into the space and having it work with the production dialog that was recorded on location, it was probably the biggest challenge for me, so it sounded natural.  If it didn’t sound natural, it’s going to take you out of the moment of the film and the magic of the film. That was my biggest challenge, just making it sound like I didn’t do any work.

Larry Jordan:  Christian, now that you’re looking at the film, what are you proudest of?

Christian Cooke:  I’m proudest of this movie.  What an incredible experience to be involved with all the people that we had the pleasure of working with, and I don’t know, it just opened your eyes I guess as to what’s possible.

Larry Jordan:  Christian, for people who want to keep track of the work that you’re doing, where do you work and where can we go on the web to learn more?

Christian Cooke:  I work at Deluxe in Toronto and if you want to check out my Imdb page, you’re more than welcome to do that.  That’s christiantcooke.

Larry Jordan:  And Brad, same question.  I know you’re freelance, how can people keep track of you?

Brad Zoern:  Through Imdb is the best option, bradzoern, you can see all my current projects and stuff like that.

Larry Jordan:  Christian Cooke and Brad Zoern are re-recording sound mixers working out of Deluxe in Toronto.  Gentlemen, thank you so very much for joining me today.

Brad Zoern:  Thank you very much.

Christian Cooke:  It was a pleasure.

Brad Zoern:  Thank you.

Larry Jordan:  Jeff Berryman is a senior scientist for Bosch Communications and chair of several AES standards committees.  He also has strong opinions about what we need to know about networking. Hello Jeff, welcome.

Jeff Berryman:  Hi Larry, thank you very much.

Larry Jordan:  Jeff, how would you describe what you do, when you are not working with AES?

Jeff Berryman:  My job title is Senior Scientist, and what that really means is they didn’t know what to call me, but I work a lot on future technology planning, early stage product architectures and some technology evaluations that we do for incoming technologies and also I do a little programming just to keep my hand in.

Larry Jordan:  Enough to keep you out of trouble.  Alright, how would you describe what you do as part of AES?

Jeff Berryman:  Well as part of AES I chair a couple of committees that are working on developing standards for media networking, for the networking that we need in professional audio broadcasting.  The two committees in particular I work with, one of them is a committee that is responsible for an AES standard called AES 70 which is a way of remote controlling devices over a network.  The other committee is working a little bit more futuristically trying to figure out what is going to be needed in the future for what are called network directories, like a phone book for networks that lets you find things.  When we get up to networks with thousands of devices, it’s a … problem. So we’ll eventually be having standards in that area too. That area’s a little developmental.

Larry Jordan:  Well you’re working about three to five years ahead of the rest of us, but is part of the area you’re working with this new idea of audio over IP?

Jeff Berryman:  Yes, very much so.  The audio over IP area is certainly full upon us.  The AES has a very well known standard in that area called AES 67 which is a standard that defines how you send sound over an IP network, and the work I do has something to do with that, but it also is a companion piece to AES 67 which is a standard to test how you control devices that receive that sound.  You know, the quick one liner we have is, “You can send sound over a network, but what are you going to do with it when it gets there?” So that’s the question that I spend most of my time on and other AES colleagues are spending time on how to send sound in the first place.

Larry Jordan:  I remember years before you were born working in broadcast television and we thought the ability to punch a button, and have a remote video tape machine start playback was about the best it was going to get.  This sounds like the next evolution of that?

Jeff Berryman:  Yes, it is the next evolution of that.  We really think that in order to have a complete networking solution in your production facility, or other audio applications and video applications, you’re going to need to be able to not only send the program material around from place to place, but you’re also going to have to have a lot of remote control over the devices.  I’m aware of one radio installation that’s being developed in Europe right now, where they have a cluster of studios in something like this 70 mile diameter circle and they all share common signal processing capabilities in a server room someplace. So with applications like that, you need not only good ways to send the sound around, but good ways to control what’s happening to it.

Larry Jordan:  You’ve said that there’s a problem with how we use our network equipment.  What’s the problem with it?

Jeff Berryman:  Well it isn’t so much a problem with how we use it, as the problem with how we talk about it.  I mean, if you look at the dialogs that are going around the broadcast community right now that there’s a bunch of people that are interested in business and operations and management, and they’re very concerned with planning studio workflows, optimizing resources, booking equipment, managing inventories, managing repairs and maintenance, and generally speaking with all of those highly financially leveraged activities that make you maximize use of your capital plant.  That’s one bunch.

Jeff Berryman: The other bunch is talking about more like the remote button on the tape machine, is how once you have a studio there, how do you make everything, all the equipment all play nicely together, make the cues pop when they’re supposed to pop?  So that’s the device control problem. Those two crowds are both wanting network solutions but often they don’t realize they’re talking different things. So sometimes you get in these conversations and people are talking at cross purposes.  You have the high level business people, studio management people wanting stuff, the low level device control people wanting stuff. There are some commonalities but basically the problems need to be addressed separately. That’s what I see right now in the industry is going on.

Larry Jordan:  Well how does AES get involved with this?

Jeff Berryman:  AES doesn’t get involved with the studio management problem or at least they haven’t done so far.  What I call the high level problem, optimizing resources, that is not the province of AES. Other people are working on that, the EBU, the European Broadcast Union has done a lot of signature work.  There’s another group called the Joint Task Force on Network Media that’s very interested in that. SMPTE, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, another professional organization, a parallel to the AES, is very interested in that question, as are other trade associations as well.  The AES is really more interested in the smaller question of how you control devices and so on. The reason for that is that the AES has a constituency that extends not only to the broadcast community, but also the professional audio community, the airport paging systems and concert sound systems and installed theater systems etcetera, and a lot of those applications don’t have the resource management challenges that broadcast does.  So in fact, it’s the broadcast oriented organizations, national associated broadcasters and so on, that are really focusing on the high level problem. AES is focusing on the low level problem.

Larry Jordan:  But it seems to me, and let’s just wear an AES hat for a minute, it seems to me that one of the fall outs of this is, I could have a server farm based in a city, and because there’s no law sending audio over IP, I don’t need local stations any more.  I don’t need local engineers, it could all be one remotely out of a single control room? If that’s true, are audio engineers concerned about that over the long term?

Jeff Berryman:  I haven’t heard those concerns because it seems to me that as much as networking allows centralization, it also allows decentralization.  So while you might have a lot of servers in the center, if I understand your question correctly, I can imagine a lot of servers in the center doing the leg work of mixing and image processing and sound processing and storing programs, storage and all that stuff.  But those servers could be accessed remotely, so in fact you know you’re looking at a situation where you’re almost increasing the ability to do things locally. You can create a whole production from a location van if you want to because you can access these remote facilities very well.  So I don’t see that the centralization is necessarily the only outcome, and I don’t see if things do get centralized it will necessarily put people out of work. I think it’ll give them more freedom.

Larry Jordan:  Interesting.  For people that want more information about what AES is doing, where can they go on the web?

Jeff Berryman:  AES website is  That’s the easiest place to go.  The companion society, the Society for Motion Picture and Television Engineers that I mentioned is at

Larry Jordan:  That’s and Jeff Berryman is running one of the standards committees for AES, and Jeff, thanks for joining us today.

Jeff Berryman:  Larry, it’s been a pleasure.

Larry Jordan:  Take care, bye bye.

Larry Jordan:  Christopher Johnson is the visionary behind the high performance hardware from  As founder and president of the company, he is responsible for company sales, marketing and research and development, as well as their strategic direction.  Hello Christopher, welcome.

Christopher Johnson:  Hi Larry.

Larry Jordan:  How would you describe

Christopher Johnson:  Well, we’re a team of creative artists and technologists and computer hardware experts we like to think, that are focused on supporting the community of media production, content creation.  We’re based in Los Angeles, we were founded in 2010, basically to serve studio teams, visual effects artists, designers, media professional, anyone who is doing content creation work worldwide.

Larry Jordan:  There’s no shortage of computers out there.  Why did you decide to start the company?

Christopher Johnson:  My wife introduced me to a video game which I got addicted to.  These people are constantly talking about computer hardware, specifically graphics cards most often.  After building about seven of these machines, my wife asked me “So what are you going to do with these seven computers you’ve built?”  I promptly sold them on Craigslist, and one of the people that showed up was a media professional, here in LA, and he wanted all these kinds of upgrades and I started to think about it being a business.  I can’t think of a better place to be than Los Angeles and in short order, we got a couple of celebrity clients and we were off and running.

Christopher Johnson:  If it comes to the real value of what we’re providing the media professional, if you call up Apple or Dell or HP and you say your core applications are Premiere Pro, After Effects, Cinema 4D and Octane Render, and what’s the best hardware for you?  You’re going to get crickets. But we know what’s best for that workflow. We can walk through customers to show component by component what is going to best support the work that they’re doing. That’s what we provide.

Larry Jordan:  What are your products?  You’ve talked about the products, but what are your products?

Christopher Johnson:  We’re actually providing custom built workstations, portables and servers and storage.  So those are the four buckets. Workstations are variety, we have Dual Xeon workstations, we have Intel Core products, and we have AMD Threadripper in our workstations.  Then on the server side, we have CPU oriented servers and GPU optimized servers. We have storage products and we have portables, which are not laptops. These are workstations which are more like basically a workstation where the keyboard and the monitors fold up onto the keyboard and they’re basically portable studios.  They can have up to three graphics cards and up to 30 terabytes of storage. It’s a full on workstation. For DITs, and directors of photography etcetera, it’s ideal.

Larry Jordan:  A big limitation as one of your reviewers wrote, is that your hardware is Windows only.  How do you reassure Mac users that it’s safe to migrate to Windows?

Christopher Johnson:  Well, that’s a really good question.  We do build Linux workstations as well and a lot of the larger enterprise clients often have us just build and stability test the hardware.  No OS installed. So there’s a variety of different operating systems needs, but for Mac people, I think the thing to say is it’s very stressful for them thinking about that they can have hardware that’s two, three, five, ten times more powerful than what they’re working with.  So it’s constantly on their mind. One of the options that we’ve found that’s helpful to them, in making that move, is if they’ve got render needs, and this is a really common one, they’re working in Adobe CC and Cinema 4D, and their Macs cannot handle Cinema 4D renders. You can purchase a Dual Xeon workstation, or a GPU optimized workstation, just to handle those render jobs and you can connect that workstation via SMB to all the Macs.  There’s no issue. So that’s one way you can start to integrate without making the leap cold turkey, I’m dropping Macs and I’m going over to PC. That’s one way we can help the Mac community with the work that they have to do.

Larry Jordan:  A lot of times, creative people have no clue what the hardware actually is, they just simply turn it on and start to use it.  How do you help us create a customized system that meets our needs?

Christopher Johnson:  The place we start with is what are your core applications?  Typically the three most used applications are what drive the hardware, because what we’re ultimately providing is insight into how the software talks to the hardware.  Is it efficient? And in what ways is it efficient? How is it using the hardware? So going through that with people it then becomes apparent to them what is going to be best and we explain why.  For example in Premiere Pro, and After Effects and Photoshop, you’re never going to use more than six to eight cores on any CPU. So a Dual Xeon configuration doesn’t make sense for someone who’s doing that kind of work.

Christopher Johnson:  If you use Cinema 4D, if you’re doing motion graphics, or modeling, it’s important to ask the customer “What are you doing with Cinema?  Are you just doing modeling and motion graphics or do you use physical render or do you use a render engine like Octane or Redshift to support your rendering needs?”  All of those things help determine what’s going to be best, not only what applications they’re using but how they’re using the application.

Larry Jordan:  How would you describe the typical customer?

Christopher Johnson:  Most of our customers are CG, visual effects artists, edit and color.  It’s mostly Adobe CC, Avid, Cinema 4D, Autodesk products like 3DS Max and Maya, V-Ray, Arnold, Octane and Redshift, and DaVinci Resolve for color.

Larry Jordan:  What would you most like our listeners to know about your products?

Christopher Johnson:  We’re not selling you what we sell.  We’re selling you on what’s best for you.  One of the things I think your listeners will probably notice if they go to HP or Dell, or even Apple, your options are limited and a lot of times those options are not best for a content creation workflow.  We also understand what’s required of creative excellence and the big monster in the background is time. If you’ve got poorly sourced or underpowered hardware, it has a huge impact. Projects go, your team capabilities and ultimately the thing you least wanted to impact, the creative process itself.  We’re here to liberate and empower people’s creative capabilities.

Larry Jordan:  For people that need more information, where can they go on the web to learn about you and your company?

Christopher Johnson:

Larry Jordan:  That’s all one word, and Christopher Johnson is the founder and CEO, and Christopher, thanks for joining us today.

Christopher Johnson:  Thank you Larry.

Larry Jordan:   Here’s another website I want to introduce you to. 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.

Larry Jordan:  Robert Kiraz has a background as a serial entrepreneur with a specialization in film and entertainment technology.  Currently Robert is the co-founder and CEO of StudioBinder, a project management solution for production companies and ProductionBeast, a job board and social network for video professionals.  Hello Robert, welcome.

Robert Kiraz:  Hey Larry, thanks for having me.

Larry Jordan:  How would you describe StudioBinder the company?

Robert Kiraz:  StudioBinder solves a big problem in the entertainment industry.  I often joke that throughout the entire history of cinema there’s probably never been an efficient production.  Most productions get done but they’re very rarely efficient. We know there’s a lot of great post production software out there, but there really isn’t a great pre-production and production management solution in the Cloud.  So that’s what we’re looking to solve. So StudioBinder is a proxy management solution made specifically for video creatives so they can use it to manage their talent and their crew details. They can create production calendars and share it with their colleagues, they can create tasks and shot lists and storyboards and shooting schedules and script breakdowns and even generate call sheets that are personalized to the recipient and send them out and track them all within the Cloud.  On top of that, document storage in the Cloud as well. For us, the way we look at is, it doesn’t matter if you’re a videographer or an agency or a production company, or even a brand, if you’re creating video on a recurring basis, being efficient is really important, saving hours in planning time really adds up and that means that you’re saving on labor too. That’s what we’re looking to solve is to try to make production management a lot more efficient.

Larry Jordan:  Well production management is not something a six year old looks up at the stars and says, “When I grow up I’m going to invent production management software.”  What was it that first caught your attention with this?

Robert Kiraz:  My background’s in filmmaking.  I studied filmmaking at SC, so my background is very much rooted as a writer/director.  But in 2008 I did a life pivot into technology and created my first company which was a live video streaming company and from there, I sold the company and wanted to get back into the entertainment field in some way, and I knew that this was a big problem.  Right around 2012 I had shot a passion project of mine, and I funded it and it was a pretty big shoot, and I was shocked at how completely inefficient the experience is. That might have been because I was coming at it from a tech perspective … five or six years, I was just shocked.  I was like, “You’re telling me call sheets are spreadsheets and you send them out hours before the shoot and you have no way of knowing if somebody even sees the call sheet?” Most of my cast and crew I had not seen for weeks the day before the shoot so the entire experience was just shocking to me and I talked to my producer and said, “Is this normal?” and he’s like, “Yes, this is how it’s done.”  We had text messaging which was crazy. So StudioBinder came out of a personal pain point for me, that I experienced.

Larry Jordan:   By the way, I went to your website and I watched the tour demo, and I thought it was brilliant.  Just a really good demo of what StudioBinder can do and we’ll have the website for people that want to watch it, but do visit the website and do check out the tour, because it’s excellent produced.  When you were working with StudioBinder, this is one of those applications that can always have new features added, because there’s so many different ways that we can describe what a production is. How do you balance adding key customer features with feature creep, that make the program more complex and harder to use?

Robert Kiraz:   Yes, that’s a great question.  Actually someone recently asked me, “So StudioBinder does a lot of things, but what’s the one thing that StudioBinder does?  Like what is the defining feature?” My response is, “The one thing that StudioBinder does is everything.” Because the problem with production is that if you build a niche solution that does one thing, let’s say just shot listing, that data needs to go onto the call sheet, or if you have a screenplay, that needs to go and become potentially a breakdown or a shooting schedule.  So at some point there’s a handoff of software and this is the inefficiency in the industry, it’s because there isn’t a solution that can take it A to Z.

Robert Kiraz:  You’re oftentimes exporting data.  There’s this whole CSV export import and data refactoring experience that is the production experience.  People just give up and say “You know what? I’ll just make a spreadsheet for it.” Most scheduling software is just antiquated and you’d think it was still the 90s.  So there really isn’t a modern solution that can take you through that entire production experience. It’s a huge feat to pull it off, and it’s something that we’re working on every day. But that ultimately is what is necessary and finding a way of course through the software to just enable or disable the features that make sense for your scale of production which can change, shoot to shoot.  So making it very easy to use, and very modular, that’s an important part of it but going too niche with a production management solution is actually the cause of the problem. You actually have to do it all unfortunately for me, got to build it all. But we’re getting there.

Larry Jordan:  Who do you think is the typical customer?  Is it a large studio, a single videographer?  I know you want to say everybody, but who’s your target?

Robert Kiraz: Here’s something very interesting, originally we started off as pure entertainment, thinking production companies, feature films, short films, indie writer directors.  But something interesting happened where there’s a sort of split in our customer base. It’s growing all the time. There’s this new contingent which is short form branded content, so on one side we have of course traditional entertainment with feature films and shorts.  On the other hand, or the other camp, you have creative agencies creating short form entertainment. You have brands where every brand now is essentially, I mean every company is effectively a publisher now. Everyone has a YouTube or Vimeo page and to be relevant in social media you’ve got to create content, especially video content which is very shareable.  So brands are creating their own content, they have their in house video departments now, more than ever before, and they’re looking for efficiency tools. So what we’re seeing is it really is a 50-50 split right now between entertainment and branded content, short form entertainment and our customers really, we have Facebook and BuzzFeed on one hand, and on the other we have CBS.  So it’s an eclectic mix which again goes back to we’ve got to build it all and allow people to approach it in a more modular fashion, make it personal to their needs.

Larry Jordan:  How do you price your service?  What’s it cost?

Robert Kiraz:  It’s pretty straightforward.  As a turnkey system, you can go to our pricing page  We have plans that are as affordable as $19 a month up to $85. That’s per user.  There are additional incentives and discounts for larger organizations, and if they have any questions they can email us and we’ll get them all set up.

Larry Jordan:  I understand you’ve got a discount for our listeners?

Robert Kiraz:  We do.  It’s a 20 percent discount for the first month.  I believe it’s LarryJordan20 is the discount code.  If you upgrade we can put that in and get the discount.

Larry Jordan:  That sounds like a good code to me.  What website Robert do people need to go to to learn more?

Robert Kiraz:  Sure, it’s

Larry Jordan:  That’s all one word, and Robert Kiraz is the co-founder and CEO of StudioBinder, and Robert thanks for taking the time to join us tonight.  This has been an interesting conversation.

Robert Kiraz:  Thank you for having me.

Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.

Larry Jordan:  You know, I was just thinking.  NAB, for those of you who aren’t keeping track, is still more than three weeks away.  However, now is the time that companies start to send press releases bragging about their upcoming announcements at the show.  They do this to make an impact before the noise of all the other announcements drowns them out. The rush really started on Monday and will continue to build force until we get to the show.  Soon I’ll be drowning in literally hundreds of press releases. However, one this morning caught my eye that I want to share with you.

Larry Jordan:  First though, a bit of background.  Press releases are written for an audience of informed writers or editors to use in reporting about a new product or service.  These releases need to describe the news, explain why it’s significant and do so in words that make sense to their audience, and sometimes a little marketing gets in there as well.  A lot of time and energy goes into planning, writing and reviewing a press release.

Larry Jordan:   But sometimes, especially in technology, the writer of the press release forgets these simple facts and gets carried away in a fit of geek hyper speak that well, here’s an example from a press release I received this morning from a company called Anevia.  This is their first paragraph. “Anevia, a leading provider in OTT and IPTV software solutions, has launched the latest version of its NEA CDN product created to deliver low latency and broadcast quality content even during peak viewing times. The new version enables operators to go virtual with an HVM based AMI for seamless deployment in AWS ensuring they can combine all the benefits of NEA CDN with those of the Amazon Cloud.  For example, greater flexibility, scalability and cost savings.”

Larry Jordan:  Now I’ve been in media for more than 40 years, and covering the industry for almost 20 and I have no idea what they are talking about.  This trap of getting so wrapped up in technology that we’re unable to make sense, is one that all of us who write or make films need to be wary of.  We know too much, far more than our audience. This means that we always need to be careful that what we say and what we write can be understood by the people we’re trying to reach.  This is clearly something the folks at Anevia forgot. Just something I’m thinking about.

Larry Jordan:  I want to thank my guests this week, Julian Slater with Sony Pictures, Christian Cooke and Brad Zoern with Deluxe in Toronto, Jeff Berryman with AES, Christopher Johnson with, Robert Kiraz with StudioBinder and James DeRuvo with

Larry Jordan:   There’s a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website, at 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.

Larry Jordan:  Talk with us on Twitter @DPBuzz and Facebook at  

Larry Jordan:   Our theme music is composed by Nathan Dugi-Turner with additional music provided by  Text transcripts are provided by Take 1 Transcription. Visit to learn how they can help you.

Larry Jordan:   Our producer is Debbie Price, my name is Larry Jordan, and thanks for listening to The Digital Production Buzz.

Larry Jordan:  The Digital Production Buzz is copyright 2018 by Thalo LLC.

Digital Production Buzz – March 15, 2018

This week we look at audio, hardware and production planning. We start by talking with three Academy-nominated audio mixers, chat about new audio network standards being developed by AES, learn about custom-built, high-performance computer hardware and discover better ways to plan a production. Plus, the weekly DoddleNEWS Update!

Join host Larry Jordan as he talks with Julian Slater, Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern, Jeff Berryman, Christopher Johnson, Robert Kiraz and James DeRuvo.

  • Secrets of a Superstar Mixer
  • Audio Mixing “The Shape of Water”
  • Creating Audio Network Standards
  • Custom, High-Performance Media Hardware
  • StudioBinder Improves Production Planning
  • The Weekly DoddleNEWS Update

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Listen to the Full Episode

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Buzz on iTunes

Guests this Week

Secrets of a Superstar Mixer

Julian Slater
Julian Slater, Sound Designer/Supervising Sound Editor, Sony Pictures
Pictures show us what’s going on, but sound touches the heart. Tonight we talk with award-winning sound designer, Julian Slater, about his recent work on “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and “Baby Driver.” With more than 75 features to his credit we talk about how he creates the soundscape for a film.

Audio Mixing “The Shape of Water”

Christian Cooke and Brad Zoern
Christian Cooke and Brad Zoern, Post Production Sound Mixer, Deluxe, Toronto
Christian Cooke and Brad Zoern were nominated for an Oscar this year for their work mixing “The Shape of Water.” They’ve worked as an audio team for ten years. Tonight, they talk about the process of creating the audio for this Oscar-winning film.

Creating Audio Network Standards

Jeff Berryman
Jeff Berryman, Senior Scientist, Bosch Communication Systems
Jeff Berryman claims that the amount of information a media professional NEEDS to know about how to use networks intelligently is more than they SHOULD need to know. Jeff is a Senior Scientist for Bosch Communications and chair of several AES standards committees. Tonight, he explains the key terms we NEED to know to become intelligent users of network equipment.

Custom, High-Performance Media Hardware

Christopher Johnson
Christopher Johnson, President and Founder, is a company that customizes computer hardware to meet the specific high-performance needs of media professionals. Tonight we talk with President and Founder, Christopher Johnson, about how they create tailor-made hardware for media pros.

StudioBinder Improves Production Planning

Robert Kiraz
Robert Kiraz, Co-Founder and CEO, StudioBinder
Production planning can be a headache with ever-present deadlines, mountains of paperwork and thousands of details to track. However, StudioBinder came up with a Cloud-based solution to help put everything in one place and reduce your stress. Tonight we talk with Robert Kiraz, Co-founder and CEO of StudioBinder.

The Weekly DoddleNEWS Update

James DeRuvo
James DeRuvo, Editor-in-Chief, DoddleNEWS.
James DeRuvo Editor-in-Chief at, has a multi-faceted career spanning radio, film and publishing. With experience covering technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James joins us every week to present the latest industry news.

Transcript: Digital Production Buzz – March 8, 2018


Larry Jordan

Jim Malcolm, General Manager, North America, Humaneyes Technologies

Srinivas Krishna, Founder and CEO, Geogram and AWE Company Ltd.

Ethan Shaftel, Director/Writer of Film, EasyAction

Matthew Celia, Creative Director, Light Sail VR

James DeRuvo, Editor-in-Chief, DoddleNEWS


Larry Jordan: Tonight on the Buzz, we are looking at virtual reality and augmented reality.  We start with Jim Malcolm, general manager for North America for Humaneyes. They make the Vuze VR camera.  Jim shares his thoughts on where VR is heading, and how we can start experimenting with it today.

Larry Jordan:  Next we look at a specific example of an AR application, Geogram, developed by the AWE Company.  CEO Srinivas Krishna explains the difference between VR and AR and showcases the areas where AR is most likely to be successful initially.

Larry Jordan:  Ethan Shaftel is a writer and director of immersive experiences and VR storytelling.  He shares his thoughts on how VR differs from traditional filmmaking and describes his process and software that he uses to create two recent VR films.

Larry Jordan:  Matthew Celia is the creative director of Light Sail VR.  Tonight he talks about the challenges in creating his latest VR project, Speak of the Devil, along with the gear that he used.

Larry Jordan:  All this, plus James DeRuvo with our weekly doddleNEWS update.  The Buzz starts now.

Announcer: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking, Authoritative: One show serves 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 revisiting VR and adding a look at AR which is short for augmented reality.  We’ve avoided AR in the past because it tends to require less filmmaking and more development and engineering. However, tonight we learn about an application that is releasing this week that combines AR with filmmaking.  You’ll be interested in our interview with Srinivas Krishna as he tells us more about it. I’ll have more on this in my just thinking segment at the end of the show, but as you listen to tonight’s interviews, ask yourself, “How can exploring VR enable me to add more services to offer to my current or potential clients?”  Jim Malcolm’s thoughts on an inexpensive way to start experimenting with VR can be very useful in your thinking. This will be an interesting show.

Larry Jordan: Before we start though, I want to invite you to subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at  Every issue, every week, provides quick links to the different segments on the show, plus articles of interest to filmmakers.  Best of all, every issue is 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.  This is your one month call to NAB.

Larry Jordan:  I’m already starting to get press releases of people saying, “Here’s what we’re going to announce at NAB,” so I think other people are aware of that fact too.

James DeRuvo:  As the news guy for doddle, I’m more than happy about that because it’s been a dry month.

Larry Jordan:  February is always hard because nobody wants to talk about anything.  They’re gearing up for NAB.

James DeRuvo:  I’m going to be busy for the next month or so so that’s going to be fun.

Larry Jordan:  It will be fun, I’m looking forward to all the news and all the new products.  That gets us to the news this week. What’s happening?

James DeRuvo:  There’s an indication that Canon may be shifting focus to mirrorless cameras for their consumer DSLR camera production.  Based on an interview with Canon president of marketing, Masahiro Sakata, Canon may be shifting focus of their consumer division away from DSLRs and to mirrorless designs and the M50 which we talked about last week, may be their first step.  Sales and rental trends show that users tend to prefer the smaller form factor of a mirrorless camera, so it looks like Canon is tired of playing second fiddle to Sony and Panasonic.

Larry Jordan:  Well hasn’t Canon built their reputation on DSLRs which are, inherently, mirrored cameras?

James DeRuvo:  That’s why I kind of think that they’re not going to forsake their DSLR centric clientele just to focus solely on mirrorless designs moving forward.  But it could mean that because the fact that mirrorless cameras are so popular, they’re reacting finally to that trend and they’re going to start focusing more of their design improvements and testing them out in mirrorless consumer cameras first before they get seated down into the DSLRs.

Larry Jordan:  That’s news from Canon, what else is happening?

James DeRuvo:  You may remember last week we talked about ProGrade, the new media card company that was started to fill the gap left by Lexar closing not too long ago?  They have announced that they’re not going to be supporting XQD media cards for both Nikon and Sony. They want to push those manufacturers to go for the newer Compact Flash Express format, which they say will be backwards compatible with XQD but will have faster file transfer speeds.

Larry Jordan:  James, back up a step.  Tell me what ProGrade is and then tell me what the significance of this news is.

James DeRuvo:  ProGrade was a company that was started by former executives of both Lexar and SanDisk who wanted to start a company to fill the gap left when Lexar was closed.  If you look at their line of SD cards and CFast cards, they look exactly like a Lexar, right on down to the color scheme. So they want to create high performing media cards and it sounds to me like these guys are now free to push for their preferred formats.  Clearly they support the upcoming Compact Flash Express format over XQD but the only hiccup is that they have to convince Nikon and Sony to enable support for Compact Flash Express with a future firmware update and until then, they’re going to be focusing on producing CFast 2 and SD cards in the near future.

Larry Jordan:  That’s ProGrade.  What’s our third story this week?

James DeRuvo:  We just had the Oscars as everybody knows and it was very exciting to see Roger Deakins finally get his due.  But if you look at how many cameras were used in all the Oscar nominated and winning films, it looks like Arri once again was the big winner.  Arri scored the most nominations and wins amongst features at this year’s Academy Awards. Meanwhile, film is firmly back as Steven Spielberg’s The Post and Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread were both nominated for best picture, and they were shot using Panavision’s Panaflex XL2.

Larry Jordan:  Arri’s been around for a long time.  What makes this announcement interesting to you?

James DeRuvo:  Well what I find most interesting wasn’t that Arri cleaned up at the awards, they usually do every year but that Red was practically nonexistent.  Even in nominations. Red continues to push the state of the art though and that makes everything move. I just thought it was interesting that they weren’t around.

Larry Jordan:  What other stories are you following this week?

James DeRuvo:  Other stories we’re following include there are some great DIY solutions this week, including a $20 shock mount that looks and works great.  Pomfort goes into beta with their latest live grade color correction software, and Amazon is going after YouTube in the streaming wars.

Larry Jordan:  Where can people go on the web to learn about these and other stories?

James DeRuvo:  All these stories and more can be found at

Larry Jordan:   James DeRuvo is the Editor in Chief of and joins us every week.  James, as always, thank you and we’ll talk to you next Thursday.

James DeRuvo:  See you next Thursday.

Female voice:  Starting Monday April 9, join the Digital Production Buzz at the 2018 NAB show in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Larry Jordan and the Buzz team are taking their microphones on the road to cover the latest news and announcements from the largest media show in the world.  Every hour of every day, the Buzz is live on the trade show floor. More than 100 interviews creating 27 new shows in four days. The Buzz has webcast directly from NAB for ten years and our coverage is legendary, heard in more than 195 countries around the world.  If you’re attending the show, visit us at booth SL10 527 and say “Hello.” If you can’t attend, visit for a schedule of shows and guests. That’s and join the Buzz at NAB.

Larry Jordan:  Jim Malcolm is the general manager North America for Humaneyes Technologies.  He’s responsible for managing the Vuze VR camera product eco system as well as all the other Humaneyes products.  He also sits on the board of directors for the Consumer Technology Association and is the immediate past president of the Imaging Alliance, and before joining Humaneyes, he was president and chief marketing officer of Ricoh imaging America’s Corporation.  Hello Jim, welcome.

Jim Malcolm:  Hi, how are you today?

Larry Jordan:  How would you describe Humaneyes?

Jim Malcolm:  Humaneyes is an innovative technology company that really has its roots in graphic arts and computer animation.  But started to see the real benefit and future in virtual reality and has applied its technology and patents to really defining the future of virtual reality.

Larry Jordan:  One of the ways you’re defining it is a product called the Vuze VR camera.  What’s this?

Jim Malcolm:  So the Vuze camera is really a very powerful camera system, self contained, that basically takes two series of video.  One for your left eye, and one for your right eye, and automatically creates what we call VR video. This is something that you can play back in a VR headset, and see everything around you in full 3D with ambisonic audio.

Larry Jordan:  I hate to break it to you, but most of us would call this stereoscopic 3D and you’re calling it VR.  How come?

Jim Malcolm:  Because it’s the intent of the camera, in fact not just our camera, but the category is to play the product back in a headset.  And unlike when you look at 3D stereoscopic on a movie screen, or on a flat 2D environment, the intent of VR video is to be able to allow you to look everywhere and add interactivity to that video as well.

Larry Jordan:  So are you shooting a 360 degree image off the left eye, and a separate 360 degree image off the right eye?

Jim Malcolm:  That’s correct.  So the camera systems actually have, in our world, a series of eight cameras.  We use four of those to create a 4K spherical video for your left eye, the other four for 4K video for your right eye.  We put those together in software, sync them and time them and make sure the color matches, so when you put it into the headset, you have this seamless 360 degree 3D world, really captured from two different viewing perspectives.

Larry Jordan:  How do you deal with issues like nausea and disorientation, because a lot of people would not be used to viewing this?

Jim Malcolm:  You know, it’s a really big challenge.  One of the biggest complaints about VR is “Wow, it makes me feel nauseous.”  I’ll go back to the early days of motion pictures, back when people sat in movie theaters for the first time, and they felt nauseous inside of a movie theater.  The brain wasn’t used to the experience. So there’s a couple of things that happen, one is the technology’s improved which makes things a little bit easier inside the headset.  Frame rates and color and syncing between each eye. But also very important to it, is creators are learning special techniques or discipline techniques in order to shoot in a way that you don’t make your viewer sick.

Larry Jordan:  For instance?

Jim Malcolm:  In the past when people first started shooting with VR, maybe they would do a handheld shot across a room.  The problem with that is regardless of how steady you are, you start getting a little bit of shake to the movement or it goes up and down.  Your brain’s not used to dealing with this, so either a camera placement that’s stationary and move your action around it, or a stable camera platform that moves the camera very uniformly is a lot better way to keep people in a headset without feeling nauseous.  

Larry Jordan:  Is it not only an issue of camera stabilization but also resolution?  Does higher resolution improve the viewing experience?

Jim Malcolm:  It’s a tough one to answer.  The reason I hesitate is, I’ve been in experiences that are pixilated and have terrible image quality but they don’t make you sick.  So in and of itself, it’s not the resolving power. In fact, all of these VR headsets today really don’t have the greatest image because they don’t really have the highest resolution.  What’s more important than the resolution is the actual frame rates. So if you take the same experience and view it in a mobile VR like on a Gear VR headset that plays back in 30 frames per second, you might feel a little bit more nauseous or a little more uncomfortable, let’s not even call it nauseous, than if you took that same video and played it back on something like an HTC Vive, which the computer takes that video and rezzes it up to 90 frames per second.  That higher frame rate eliminates pulse when you’re looking around quickly in that headset and help gives you a more comfortable experience.

Larry Jordan:  One of the things that we’re all looking at in VR is how it breaks out of being a niche product into a mass market product, and it seems to me that the big gating factor is this headset that we have to wear.  As opposed to AR which can be seen on say a mobile device. Do you think it’s possible for VR to achieve mainstream status or is the experience itself because it needs a headset going to be limited to more specific applications?

Jim Malcolm:  VR is going to make mainstream status, and it’s going to first start probably at your workplace, whether it’s training, education, remote conferencing.  There’s a lot of very practical applications for wearing a headset. It’s those kind of defined disciplines that are going to allow us then to open the door towards a social VR and VR for entertainment and some of the other components.  It’s interesting right now in the news and in the press, you see a lot of discussion around the entertainment properties. There was this movie, or there was this event or whatever, the Olympics were just shot in VR, and people are trying to understand what is the value to that?  You can take that same technology, that same capability, and apply it to how to inspect an oil rig before you fly somebody out to that platform for example, and you can deliver a very rich experience, play all kinds of value to it and people don’t think about the entertainment, they think about the practical part. We will start to incorporate VR into our everyday workplace and then we’ll start to bring it into our everyday social worlds.

Larry Jordan:  It seems to me that the initial foray with VR is going to be experiences and education because I think narrative’s going to take us a while to develop.  Would you agree with that?

Jim Malcolm: I think that’s true.  We’re already seeing it, and what’s interesting from an education point of view, which I didn’t expect, originally the educators were looking at how do I share my course, my class, or my discussion in virtual reality?  That’s kind of plateaued a little bit but we see this huge spike at learning institutions themselves, adopting the Vuze camera in order to teach the principles of VR. The reason they use it as a teaching tool is, they can teach virtual reality without having to make the students computer programmers which really opens up a much larger audience to VR, including journalism.  The list goes on and on, education, government, law enforcement, where you can have a class on just about anything, and people can start to create content without having to become a programmer.

Larry Jordan:   If you were to advise a filmmaker, not necessarily to create narrative fiction because for me the jury is still out on that, but the idea of experiences in education makes perfect sense.  If you were to advise them on how to create content for 360 VR, what are some of the top rules they need to keep in mind as they’re starting their own production experience?

Jim Malcolm:  I’ll first say that I hate rules but you do need some rules or guidelines to get started, because the principles of storytelling remain the same. I think my biggest frustration to us as an industry is that because a lot of people haven’t figured out how to tell a narrative in a VR headset, then the whole narrative story gets a bum rap.

Larry Jordan:  And you don’t think it should?

Jim Malcolm:  I don’t think that it should because the opportunity to tell a story, regardless of the medium, is there.  And it is so much more immersive and so much more impactful, but again the problem that we have is that too many people have tried to simply replace a camera placement or replace a production that they used to do with a 2D or a fixed view camera, with a virtual reality camera with mixed results.  But if you actually start by creating the script and the dialog from the very beginning as a VR narrative, how you bring that story to life, it makes sense that it’s in a headset. It makes it have a purpose and I think that’s the biggest gap. I guess my recommendation if you’re starting to dabble with, explore, quite frankly even deliver for your clients, make sure whatever you make has got a story.  The same way that you would do with any other video or film equipment.

Larry Jordan:  One of the ideas that I found very helpful in understanding VR was to think of it not as the typical filmmaking experience but more like creating live theater where you still have creative control but the process is different between the two.  Would you think that’s a good analogy?

Jim Malcolm:  I actually think that’s a great analogy and the reason that I like that analogy is, when we think about directing an existing film, you’ve got your craft cart and the sound guy and the lighting guys, and you’re working in a confined space.  When you do look at that whole stage and you know that your audience is there and you know that you’ve got to keep all of your support off or out of view, I think it makes a lot of sense. I think that the challenge of the director who’s used to filming in 2D traditional film, maybe has a much more difficult time getting that in the head than somebody who’s directing stage performances.  So I hadn’t thought about that, but I think live stage performance, that kind of core competency that it takes to be able to create that, is absolutely the base foundation to build virtual reality on.

Larry Jordan:  So let’s get back to those rules that you hate.  You’ve already told us that we want to make sure the camera is really stable, that we don’t do hand held shots.  It’s also because we’re seeing in 360, we can’t suddenly cut to a tight shot because that means we’re going to a wide shot at a different angle, so what other suggestions do you have us consider as we play with this, to make ourselves feel like we’re being successful?

Jim Malcolm:  There’s a couple of things that you can do and I wouldn’t say that you can’t go from a wide shot to a tight shot, because what you have to start thinking about is camera placement.  Because basically what you’re doing is you’re taking the viewer, and you’re transporting them, or teleporting them to a new direction. So you need some sort of an event that triggers a logical reason why you’re moving.  Maybe it’s a fade to black, maybe it’s a sound, maybe it’s a bright light, maybe it’s tracking some motion. Then you have to have a reason for why that camera shows up at a new location.

Jim Malcolm:   So the example I’ll give you is out of a series called Invisible, and spoiler alert, but there’s a section where you are this third person and you’re looking over in this room and then it immediately cuts to this scene where the camera is placed on the ground.  It is the most uncomfortable feeling you’ve ever had, because it almost feels like you’ve been decapitated, sorry to sound so negative, and it’s very uncomfortable because we don’t sit on the ground. But when you turn around and you look behind you, you’re actually sitting in a pool of blood with a dead body.  So as the movie unfolds and there’s a reason for you to have this impact and end up on the floor, the impact of that transition is huge. When done right it is impactful, it’s memorable and helps further advance the story.

Larry Jordan:  There’s a lot of different VR cameras out there.  Why should somebody consider Vuze?

Jim Malcolm:  The short answer is cost.  The second part of it is ease of use.  What we’ve done is, we’ve made two different versions of the camera.  One is an $800 product, the other is 1200. Basically the difference between the two is the $1200 camera actually allows you to do live streaming, and to be able to capture video directly to a hard drive on a computer.  At those price points, with a system that can render out as high as 4096 by 4096, we can create content that exceeds the playback capability of VR headsets today. For not a lot of money, any filmmaker who has the bug or the curiosity to figure out, “How do I start to tell a story in VR?” can create some amazing content today.

Larry Jordan:  For people that want more information, where can they go on the web?

Jim Malcolm:  The easiest place to go is to, there is no dot com in there, but just  That’ll bring you to our Vuze camera website, there are samples that can be downloaded, you can learn about the product and you can purchase right on that site.

Larry Jordan:  Jim Malcolm is the general manager for North America for Humaneyes Technology, the folks that make the Vuze camera, and Jim, thanks for joining us today.

Jim Malcolm:  Thank you.

Larry Jordan:  Srinivas Krishna is the founder and CEO of the pioneering AR VR studio called AWE Company Limited.  For the past six years he’s been engaging mobile users with ground breaking AR and VR experiences. Now he and his team are releasing a new mobile app that lets people create augmented reality videos using only their smart phones.  It’s called Geogram. Hello Srinivas, welcome.

Srinivas Krishna:  Thank you Larry, glad to be here.

Larry Jordan:  How would you describe what AWE Company does?

Srinivas Krishna:  AWE Company, for the past six years or so, has been creating technologies and experiences for mobile users of augmented and virtual reality experiences.  We’re a studio that serves businesses and their users essentially.

Larry Jordan:  Why this?  Why VR?

Srinivas Krishna:  I had been making films for 20 years, and not long after the smartphone came out, I had a kid.  And when I saw him engage with an ipad which I didn’t know how to turn on, I knew that life was really going to change, and I had to face the future head on.  So I really did fall into a rabbit hole. I started exploring augmented reality and what I could do with mobile phones, and devices, and there was no looking back.

Larry Jordan:  Tell us about this new thing you’ve got called Geogram.  What is it?

Srinivas Krishna:  Geogram is a mobile app that lets you share your memories where they happen.  Today we have social media that essentially allows us to create a post about our experience at a place, it’s about a place but really the place itself is disassociated from the story or the memory or the video.  What Geogram does is it allows us to mark our presence at a place with an augmented reality video that we can record and leave there and communicate our presence from that location and share it. You can share it across your normal social media channels, but if you have the app it transports you to that place in virtual reality where you can see that video.  If you’re at the location, you can see the video there, playing for you and any other videos that go alongside it.

Larry Jordan:  I had the chance to watch the story that NBC News did on you where they profiled Geogram, but give us an example that NBC talked about, of how this is used in real life.

Srinivas Krishna:  That was almost the first use case of the product, and we were still building it at the time.  We had a client in Orlando who was building a memorial in honor of all those who’d been impacted by the tragedy of the shooting at the Pulse nightclub.  We had told them about this app that we were building that might be just more useful and easier to use than the augmented reality projects that we’d been doing till then.  He was very excited about it so we released an early version of it and asked him if he would like to share it with people in his community. What happened was that people who were impacted by this tragedy started going to the location of the nightclub and leaving their sentiments, their statements for the people that they had lost, at the location, much like a digital memento.  I don’t know how else to describe it, it was a digital memento, it was like a virtual shrine at the location. Extremely powerful experience for us and it’s really what got us down this road to say there’s something very powerful at the core of this technology and what we’re able to enable with it, and we really felt compelled to develop it and release it.

Larry Jordan:  What do you see as the differences between augmented reality, AR and virtual reality, VR?

Srinivas Krishna:  Augmented reality marries digital content with the world.  So it can super impose or imbed a 3D object, a virtual object, or a video or a picture, anything you want, into the world that you’re looking at through the camera on your device.  Virtual reality is an immersive experience that is 360, and completely envelops you inside its world. The result is they have different use cases, augmented reality is very much something that you might do on the go.  It’s more active, you can be in motion. You can be walking around. Virtual reality, because it’s so immersive, requires you often to sit down, be more passive, not as active in the experience of it.

Larry Jordan:  Do you think VR’s success is limited by the fact that every viewer needs to wear a headset, where with AR we don’t?

Srinivas Krishna:  I think they’re different kinds of experiences and they have different ways that we measure their success.  For example, movies have a certain kind of experience. They’re successful, you have to go to the theater to have that theatrical experience.  In the same way, I think virtual reality, we just need to look at the success of it differently. It’s the kind of thing that maybe belongs in a basement or a man cave, you’re at home, it’s passive.  While AR is really much more ubiquitous, it gives you information about objects, about the world. With Geogram it can give you more than just information, it can give you stories and memories and emotions.

Larry Jordan:  With VR, we’ve been hearing the buzz about VR for a long time, but AR has sort of been flying below the radar.  What’s holding the technology of AR back?

Srinivas Krishna:  Great question.  What’s been holding it back is really just that it needs to get on a great number of devices.  I think that’s what’s changing this year is that both Apple and android are embedding AR technologies inside their operating systems.  So that now it’s much easier to create content and consume it in a more exciting way. So the basic technologies that underlie AR are the ability to superimpose or position digital content realistically in the real world through a camera.  Sounds easy the way I say it, but it’s actually a lot harder than it sounds. The other piece of technology that is important for AR is the ability to share a piece of content between two or more people. So that they’re each able to experience the same digital content in the world, each from their own perspectives.  These are now starting to become more and more commonplace, because the big Apple and Google and Facebook and the big platforms are really investing in it and making it possible.

Larry Jordan:  What do you see as the low hanging fruit for AR?  What apps, and I use apps in the broader context, what uses will we see first?

Srinivas Krishna:  I think a really great use case is way finding, helping you get around.  A lot of people just have trouble with maps. I do, I look at maps and I say “I’d rather just ask someone the directions.”  I’m that kind of person. So, now with AR what you can do, is you can point your phone at the world, it can recognize where you are and you can tell it where you want to go and it’ll give you directions in real time.  

Srinivas Krishna:  The other thing is you can get information about the world very easily just by looking at objects or buildings and your environment.  In a sense, that’s what Geogram enables you to do, it enables you to experience the stories of a place. You go to a location, and it used to be in fact that to learn any kind of story you had to go to the place where the story happened.  This was a long time ago but that’s where you’d go and people in the community would tell you the stories. Today much of our stories are disconnected from places altogether. They live in screens, they live in print, they don’t really have any physical bearing with that location any more.  What augmented reality does is it allows you then to go back to that place of stories residing in a place which Geogram enables for example. There’ll be others that will do it over time. That’s a remarkable thing. It gives stories context. It gives them a setting. So these I see are the low hanging fruit, they’re things that anyone can do and I think we’ll start seeing that rolling out pretty quickly.

Larry Jordan:  Has Geogram been released and if so, what’s the cost?

Srinivas Krishna:  We are releasing Geogram in fact this week.  

Larry Jordan:  Congratulations.

Srinivas Krishna:  It’s live in the app stores.  We’re building new features every day so we’d love people to start using this, especially content makers and creators because when you look through, there will not be many Geograms in the world so we’re starting in a sense from scratch.  So we’d really love people to start sharing their memories and their experiences and whatever you see or experience that is really interesting to you and to other people on the platform.

Larry Jordan:  What does it cost?

Srinivas Krishna:  Geogram you’ll be happy to know, is absolutely free, and we hope to keep it free for individual users forever.

Larry Jordan:  For people who want more information about it, where can they go on the web?

Srinivas Krishna:  They can find us at

Larry Jordan:  That website is  Not dot com, Srinivas Krishna is the founder and CEO of the company that created it, which is AWE Company, and Srinivas, thanks for joining us today.

Srinivas Krishna:  Larry it’s been my pleasure.  Thank you so much.

Larry Jordan:  Ethan Shaftel directs film, VR, immersive media and interactive projects.  His background is in spatial media and video installation projects. In fact he’s created media for multi screen pop concerts and music festivals as well as animation wrapped floats for Disney.  Hello Ethan, welcome.

Ethan Shaftel:  Hi Larry, I’m delighted to be here, thanks.

Larry Jordan:  Today we’re talking about VR.  What got you interested in VR in the first place?

Ethan Shaftel:  I love interactive storytelling.  I’ve always loved film, but I was never much of a gamer, but I loved Mist when it came out and even though it was a game, you were solving puzzles.  Mist the computer game was so immersive and so story driven, that I felt like it was a great example of what could be done, but I felt like when VR came back on the scene about three years ago that it was a wide open platform, a wide open media that could be defined in any way we want, and so a interactive narrative of VR experience, doesn’t need any more definition than just VR.  In a sense it’s new, we can make it whatever we want.

Larry Jordan:  Is VR better suited for experiences as you describe, or better suited for education or narrative story telling?

Ethan Shaftel:  I think it’s very suited to all these things.  The power of the medium fully, we know the things that grab us instantly, about VR the first time we put on a headset, and that’s really the immersion, that sense of presence.  But that’s only the first step. What do we do with that? We transported an audience member or viewer somewhere, that’s the first step of VR. Then what do we do? VR games are really obvious successes.  It makes a ton of sense to then have that viewer shoot zombies or play tennis. That’s going to work really well, those are obvious successes, and I don’t mean to denigrate that when I say obvious. But that’s the low hanging fruit of VR.   But then what else can we do? What type of other experiential or narrative experiences? Those require some more thought and those are very much still in development right now.

Larry Jordan:  Tell me about some of the projects that you’re working on.

Ethan Shaftel:  When I got into VR I was doing prototypes and experiments and things on the side with my existing collaborators, a lot of people involved in animation and motion graphics.  The first stand alone piece that we decided to make and try to get into festivals, was a mix of animation and live action called Extravaganza. That was lucky enough to get into Tribeca last year and premier there in April.  That’s opened a lot of doors subsequent to that, and we’ve been very fortunate about getting Extravaganza out there. So now I’ve been working on a variety of things, most recently a piece for Red Bull. Our VR version of the classic bonus stage from Street Fighter 2.

Larry Jordan:   Films are generally viewed as part of a group, in a theater.  How do you answer the charge that VR by isolating each viewer in their own headset, is an isolating experience?

Ethan Shaftel:  That’s a really interesting topic.  We participate in different media in different ways.  I don’t think the idea that VR replaces or represents an evolution of film is accurate.  There is huge overlap between VR and film in certain visual and storytelling ways. I think that overlap will continue to be something we explore but it’s not the same.  VR in that sense, at least the pieces that we see out there in the narrative space, and the things that I’ve made and things like Extravaganza, they’re more of an experience similar to something like …  We don’t tend to read novels out loud to each other or even in a room full of people, it is something that is a single person experience.

Ethan Shaftel:  A word that comes up a lot with great literature is immersion.  You sink into it, you feel that you’re there. A little bit different from the literal immersion of VR, but similar and overlapping.  So there’s a place for single experiences, or experiences that are primarily immersed in by an individual. What I think we see is that how we connect to great literature, becomes really important to us and becomes a way of actually making social connections.  On your dating profile you say your favorite book and if someone else has that favorite book, that’s really meaningful. That means that you guys should probably be talking, you should probably go have coffee. Going in deeply into an experience, it’s when you come out and you start talking about it with others, sharing your experience, comparing and contrasting, that’s what makes art social.  Even if it’s not in a room full of people.

Larry Jordan:  When you’re creating your own VR experiences, what tools, what software do you use?

Ethan Shaftel:  The first software that me and my collaborators were really using to experiment was Cinema 40.  Largely that’s because it was already an animation software that we were using for traditional cinema projects, motion graphics, animation that were not … C40 had already some really good tools and the ability to go into existing animations, maybe you’ve already done, and then used the virtual VR camera to export them and view them in a headset?  And then learn of course what falls flat. How you need to rework staging and you need to think about space in a different way, and that was really the key. You’ve got to start playing with it if you want to do it at all. Then as we grew, the software grew as well. The VR features are much more robust now than they were then, and that’s really exciting to see in concert with all of our tests and experimentation.

Larry Jordan:  There’s stereoscopic 3D, there’s 2D, there’s 360 degrees, versus 180 degrees.  How do you pick the right format for a VR project?

Ethan Shaftel:  That’s a great question.  When I use the term VR and even just in this conversation, I am very inclusive with that.  I think that when the primary aspect or at least that initial aspect of the piece of art regardless of what it is, transportation to a new world, replacing what the viewer sees and hears in their living room with something else, then that counts as VR, virtual reality.  So something like Extravaganza, my initial VR movie, is stereoscopic 360 video. It means that it’s three degrees of freedom, you can look around but you can’t get up and walk across the room. It’s not interactive, you know, it’s a linear piece of media that’s going to play from the beginning to end and aside from the ability to look around at any location, and any place in that world, from your locked point of view, there is no interactivity.  So I think that’s very much VR, but of course the creator has to understand the technological limitations of that choice of what kind of flavor of VR you’re going to use.

Ethan Shaftel:   So with Extravaganza, making it work with the storyline, the viewer becomes a puppet locked into a VR puppet show.  You have a body that is interacting with other characters, you see it moving, but someone else is controlling you. That kind of storytelling works well with 360 video because it leans into that idea of lack of agency and the lack of control you have except for what you’re seeing.  But that wouldn’t have been a good choice at all for the Street Fighter game. That needed to have a much higher level of agency because it really is a game. You’re running, you’re punching, you’re kicking, you’re moving, and you’re scoring more or less points depending on the damage you do.  So for that, we did it on a game engine with a six degree of freedom platform. I don’t think that 360 ever hurts. If you can do it, and make a wider field of exploration for the viewer, then I think that’s a benefit and it makes you think about attention and the audience’s view of the world in a really good way.  So I don’t think it’s meaningful to cut that down arbitrarily. However the tenable side of it, there’s a lot of advantages to only shooting 180. You have an off camera, you have the ability to hide equipment and use lighting in a different way. Plus it can be less expensive.

Larry Jordan:  Ethan, for people that want to be able to take a look at the projects you’re creating, where can they go on the web?

Ethan Shaftel:  You can find me at

Larry Jordan:  That’s all one word,  His website is excellent. Make a point to go visit, and Ethan, thanks for joining us today.

Ethan Shaftel:  Thank you so much.  I was delighted to sit down and talk.

Larry Jordan:   Here’s another website I want to introduce you to. 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.

Larry Jordan:  Matthew Celia is the managing director and creative director of Light Sail VR.  This is a company that creates engaging VR content. Hello Matt, welcome back.

Matthew Celia:  Hi, thanks for having me.

Larry Jordan:  How would you describe Light Sail VR?

Matthew Celia:  Light Sail VR is a Hollywood based VR production company, and we are pioneering the evolving field of cinematic virtual reality storytelling.  Our focus, being from a film background, is on bringing compelling narratives and characters and cool visuals to every project we touch. So far we’ve made our name producing high profile pieces for Google, ABC, GoPro, Paramount to name a few.  But we’ve just recently released our first original project called Speak of the Devil.

Larry Jordan:  Well before we get to Speak of the Devil, isn’t cinematic VR storytelling an oxymoron?  

Matthew Celia:  Oh I disagree.  No I think you can always put a story into anything.  It’s just how you execute it and make it work for the …

Larry Jordan:  We’re going to talk a lot about how you execute it.  Tell us what Speak of the Devil is before we talk about how you created it.

Matthew Celia:  Sure, Speak of the Devil at its heart is a horror film that takes place in the forest.  It’s about this woman who accidentally summons a demon but the unique thing about it is that it is an interactive live action film much in the style of an immersive theater piece.  That was a unique challenge in VR.

Larry Jordan:  What made it a unique challenge?

Matthew Celia:  Well what we had to do is we had to put together this story that made sense and figure out this logic programming, so that the audience could explore it at their own pace and go wherever they wanted to go but we weren’t going to lose that storytelling, that narrative aspect.

Larry Jordan:  But wait a minute, this is a horror film, and people are exploring a horror film under their own initiative?  Horror I’m afraid is not my favorite subject, but this strikes me as something that people would not want to do.

Matthew Celia:  Right, but you know, horror theme houses and haunted houses are very popular and escape rooms and all that stuff.  So we’re tapping into that. We’re tapping into that thrill and what we do is we drop you into the forest and you meet these characters and you go off searching and things are just not right.  And eventually we’re ramping up that tension, just as you would in the traditional screenplay. We really broke it down into looking at here’s the setup, the theme, the inciting incidents, the all is lost moments, the final climactic end.  We took that structure and we just started parceling it together.

Larry Jordan:  I want to come back to writing the script in just a minute, but before we do, what’s the status of Speak of the Devil now?

Matthew Celia:  Speak of the Devil has just been released a few weeks ago.  It is available on the Google Daydream store and on the Gear VR, the Oculus store.  It’s for sale for like three bucks, so forego that one cup of coffee and check it out.

Larry Jordan:  Hope you sell tens of thousands of them, I wish you great success.

Matthew Celia:  Thank you.

Larry Jordan:  Earlier tonight, Ethan Shaftel mentioned that writing a VR script is different from writing a normal film script.  Would you agree or disagree? And if you agree, what makes writing a VR script different?

Matthew Celia:  I agree and I disagree.  I don’t agree that you need to write a VR script where you describe the quadrants which is very popular for some reason, which say in front of us, there’s this, to left of us, this.  That’s the director’s job. It’s a director’s job just like in a traditional screenplay you wouldn’t put every single camera angle. But it is different because I think you need to think carefully about how characters are entering and exiting a scene.  I think you need to think about more descriptive places and in this latest project that we did, we had to think about how is the logic of an interactive story going to work so that it makes sense no matter how people experience it?

Larry Jordan:  One of the things that I think you and I talked about the last time you were on which was in November, and if not, take the credit for it anyway, because I found it incredibly brilliant, is that you made the analogy that VR is much more like staging a theater play than staging a traditional film.  Would you still agree with that?

Matthew Celia:  Absolutely.  I think every project we do we just kind of reinforce that and it just proves it to us that VR narrative cinematic storytelling is like immersive interactive theater.

Larry Jordan:  I love that phrase.  Alright, I’m going to steal that one from you too.

Matthew Celia:  Cool.

Larry Jordan:  When you were shooting this, what kind of camera gear were you working with?  What was your production hardware?

Matthew Celia:  We shot with the GoPro Odyssey.  We were so lucky and fortunate to be in the Google Jumpstart program which is this amazing program from Google that gives indie filmmakers the camera and then access to the post production stitching software gratis, totally free, no strings attached.  It’s incredible, and we were able to shoot it at 5.7K, left eye and right eye, so that’s quite a bit of data, at 60 frames a second. It really is like the pinnacle of quality for stereoscopic live action VR right now.

Larry Jordan:  How did you edit it?

Matthew Celia:  We edited it, and this is kind of funny actually, we used Premiere Pro and we broke every scene down into its own sequence, and we were editing each part, each scene individually because it’s a narrative that has multiple options.  But we found that we really couldn’t experience it or play it back or understand the audience is going to view it until we put it into a game engine. So we used Unity to actually do the playback of it so that we could write all the logic code that would tell us when we could see each scene.

Larry Jordan:  Did you shoot 360 or 180 and do you have an opinion on which format is better?

Matthew Celia:  We shot 360 and we’re actually about to do our first 180 piece in a couple of weeks here.  I think the formats are very different. I think 180 for me, you lose some of that immersion.  You lose some of that sense of presence that you get with 360, because if you’re turning your head to the left in 180 you’re going to see a black line.  But 180 is a lot easier to make, a lot easier to produce, the quality of the stereoscopic imagery and the resolution is a lot higher. And right now when we’re in these early days when there’s not really much of a monetization path and things still take so much longer, and the dollars aren’t there, you need to come up with concepts and ideas that work not only creatively but financially.  And I think VR 180 is a really strong step in that direction.

Larry Jordan:  So maybe you think VR 180 is an interim step before we have the equipment and the budgets for 360?

Matthew Celia:   Absolutely.  And I think it works really well for point of view stuff, where you’re talking to a person directly.  But I think eventually it’s all going to end up in 360 because you really do want that full presence I find.

Larry Jordan:  Well this I think gets to a bigger question, can VR really become mainstream when we all need to wear a headset to see it?

Matthew Celia:  You know, I think right now our headsets remind me of the Gordon Gecko cell phone.  They’re big, they’re clunky, people are like, “Oh that’s never going to take off. Who’s going to have a cell phone in your car?”  But now look at where we’re at. When you’re starting to wear glasses with augmented reality where the lenses become fully opaque, that’s virtual reality.  And I think that there is location based experiences that are really popular, and theme park experiences that are really popular. Will it be as popular and ubiquitous as the television?  I don’t know, but I really think there’s a strong market and a strong group of people who enjoy escaping from their reality for a few minutes a day.

Larry Jordan:  So it sounds like overall you’re pretty optimistic?

Matthew Celia:  I am, especially with the Oculus Go’s coming out later this year.  This is a $200 stand alone headset. You don’t need a Samsung phone or a special phone, you don’t need anything.  It’s very affordably priced, and it has access to all of the amazing content on the Oculus store. I think that the cost right now is still too high, and when that hits the market, I think we’re going to start seeing consumers adopt in even bigger ways.

Larry Jordan:  You’ve done a number of VR projects, and now that you’ve got some experience under your belt, what’s the number one piece of advice you’d give a producer who’s starting to experiment with it for the first time?

Matthew Celia:  Know your whole workflow.  Know it from beginning all the way to distribution.  A lot of these tools are really new and they’re always in beta.  A lot of the distribution platforms are always in beta, so things are changing a lot.  So you need to work with a partner who is up on it, knows the whole pipeline from A to Z, because they will help you achieve a better quality product because they know all the little … and every step of the way that segmenting it out you might miss.

Larry Jordan: For people that want more information about the kind of creative projects you’re coming up with, where can they go on the web?

Matthew Celia:  You can check us out at

Larry Jordan:  That’s all one word, and the managing director and creative director of Light Sail VR is Matthew Celia, and Matt, thanks for joining us today.

Matthew Celia:  Thanks Larry, appreciate you having me back.

Larry Jordan:  Oh, always a pleasure.  Take care, bye bye.

Larry Jordan:  I was just thinking, most of us look at the world based on what we know.  For example, most of us are filmmakers in some form, and look at the world through a media lens.  This often colors how we view new technology such as VR and AR that we’re talking about tonight. Jim Malcolm made a good comment this evening that helped me understand this better.  When he said that VR is not a replacement for traditional filmmaking, any more than TV was a replacement for film. Years ago when I first heard of VR I was puzzled, because I couldn’t see how it would benefit narrative storytelling or traditional filmmaking.  What I’ve learned since is that I’m trying to put a square peg in a round hole. VR isn’t filmmaking. It’s its own thing.

Larry Jordan:  A better way to think of VR is that we’re creating the digital equivalent of live theater.  Theater can be just as involving emotional and uplifting as the best films, but it uses entirely different techniques and technology to tell its stories.  The same with VR. The more we think of it as filmmaking, the more frustrated we’ll become. That’s why experimenting with this format is so important. We need to try it for ourselves, see what works and what existing skills we need to unlearn.  

Larry Jordan:  VR provides us, especially those of us with theater backgrounds, with an opportunity to provide expanded services to our clients.  The world of VR is still young, there’s room for more people like us to explore and expand the medium, and along the way, it provides those who do with the ability to generate more revenue and stand out from the increasingly crowded filmmaking pack.  Because at the end of the day, there’s nothing wrong with paying the rent and sleeping soundly at night. VR gives us the opportunity to explore something new and make money with it at the same time. Just something I’m thinking about.

Larry Jordan:  I want to thank our guests for this week, Jim Malcolm with Humaneyes, Srinivas Krishna with the AWE Company, VR filmmaker Ethan Shaftel, VR filmmaker Matthew Celia, and James DeRuvo

Larry Jordan:   There’s a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website, at 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.

Larry Jordan:  Talk with us on Twitter @DPBuzz and Facebook at  

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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.

Larry Jordan:  The Digital Production Buzz is copyright 2018 by Thalo LLC.

Digital Production Buzz – March 8, 2018

This week we take an updated look at VR and AR, as we catch up with past guests, learn more about their current projects and discover lots of tips on what to consider when you start experimenting with VR. Plus, we talk about the current state of VR cameras and how they are becoming easier to use.

Join host Larry Jordan as he talks with Jim Malcolm, Srinivas Krishna, Ethan Shaftel, Matthew Celia and James DeRuvo.

  • Experiment with VR Inexpensively
  • VR Moves Into the Physical World
  • Immersive Media Is Not Your Traditional Film
  • Creating a Story-Driven VR Project
  • The Weekly DoddleNEWS Update

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Listen to the Full Episode

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Buzz on iTunes

Guests this Week

Experiment with VR Inexpensively

Jim Malcolm
Jim Malcolm, General Manager, North America, Humaneyes Technologies
VR and VR headsets are expanding out of their niche market. Tonight, Jim Malcolm, General Manager of Humaneyes Technologies explains how we are doing more with VR and how he sees VR growing in the future.

VR Moves Into the Physical World

Srinivas Krishna
Srinivas Krishna, Founder and CEO, Geogram and AWE Company Ltd.
Awe Company creates Augmented Reality applications. Tonight we are joined by Srinivas Krishna, Founder and CEO who talks with us about their vision of integrating the digital and the physical world to solve human problems.

Immersive Media Is Not Your Traditional Film

Ethan Shaftel
Ethan Shaftel, Director/Writer of Film, EasyAction
Ethan Shaftel is a Writer/Director and creator of immersive media. Tonight he joins us to explain what immersive media is, how it differs from traditional film and where he wants to take it.

Creating a Story-Driven VR Project

Matthew Celia
Matthew Celia, Creative Director, Light Sail VR
Matthew Celia is the Creative Director for Light Sail VR. Tonight we talk about his latest VR project: “Speak of the Devil,” how he created it and the gear he used.

The Weekly DoddleNEWS Update

James DeRuvo
James DeRuvo, Editor-in-Chief, DoddleNEWS.
James DeRuvo Editor-in-Chief at, has a multi-faceted career spanning radio, film and publishing. With experience covering technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James joins us every week to present the latest industry news.

Transcript: Digital Production Buzz – March 1, 2018


Larry Jordan

Ned Soltz, Contributing Editor, Red Shark News, Ned Soltz Inc.

James DeRuvo, Editor-in-Chief, DoddleNEWS

Les Zellan, Chairman, Cooke Optics

Carl Cook, Director of Television and Cinema, East, VER


Larry Jordan: Tonight on the Buzz, we are talking about renting gear.  With production equipment evolving so quickly, sometimes it’s better not to buy new equipment, but to rent it when you need it.  We start with Ned Soltz.  Ned describes the process of renting cameras and shares his experiences in renting out the cameras he owns through a rental house.  

Larry Jordan: Next, James DeRuvo, Editor-in-Chief of DoddleNEWS describes his experiences renting out his gear through a crowd sourced website.

Larry Jordan: Next, Les Zellan, Chairman of Cooke Optics and maker of Cooke lenses describes how they consider all their customers to be rental houses and house that affects their manufacturing.

Larry Jordan: Next, Carl Cook, Director of Television and Cinema East for VER describes what a rental house does and how it can benefit a producer to rent their production equipment through a traditional rental house.

Larry Jordan: All this, plus James DeRuvo with this week’s DoddleNEWS update.  The Buzz starts now.

Male Voiceover: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking, Authoritative: One show serves a worldwide network of media professionals.  Current: Uniting industry experts.  Production: Filmmakers.  Post-production: And content creators around the planet.  Distribution: From the media capital of the world, in Los Angeles, California, the Digital Production Buzz goes live now.

Larry Jordan: Welcome to the Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for the creative content industry.  Covering media production, post-production and marketing around the world.  Hello, my name is Larry Jordan.  Cameras and other high quality production equipment are not cheap and most of us are not shooting every day, which means, all that expensive gear is sitting on a shelf, costing us money and collecting dust.  This week, we decided to take a look at different ways to rent our gear for our next project.  There are several ways this can be done, through personal contacts, crowd sourced websites and traditional rental houses.

Larry Jordan: Over the course of tonight’s show, we’ll talk about all these options, with the people who’ve used them and know them best.  It’s always a nice feeling to point to a camera or any expensive piece of gear and say, I own this, but all too often, we let the camera we own determine which camera we’ll use for our next project, which may not be the best creative choice.  Renting saves us money and gives us far more creative options.

Larry Jordan: Tonight we’ll learn how the process works, when it makes sense to rent and when it makes sense to own.  Before we start though, I want to invite you to subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at  Every issue, every week provides quick links to the different segments on the show, plus articles of interest to filmmakers and, best of all, it’s free and comes out every Saturday.

Larry Jordan: Now it’s time for our DoddleNEWS update with James DeRuvo. Hello James.

James DeRuvo: Hello Larry.

Larry Jordan: Alright James, what’s news this week?

James DeRuvo: This is camera week on the Buzz. Sony introduced a new 4K full frame mirrorless camera called the Third Generation A7 line, the A7 III.  It has a 24.2 megapixel backside illuminated Exmor sensor, five access image stabilization, it can shoot 14-bit Raw, 4K HDR video, S-Log2, S-Log3 and, just for fun, high frame rate up to 120 frames per second in HD.

Larry Jordan: Well where does this fit in Sony’s product line?

James DeRuvo: Well that’s what’s interesting about it.  Because Sony refers to the A7 III as its basic 4K mirrorless camera, but with all those features, plus it oversamples two and a half times the image data, so that you get no pixel bedding, it’s hard to believe this camera is an entry level model, but that’s what they’re calling it.

Larry Jordan: Well that’s one Sony camera, you said it’s camera week, does Sony have a second announcement?

James DeRuvo: Well, it’s not a camera per se, but it supports cameras.  Sony has announced this low priced $70 sync cable for their RX0 action camera.  It’s called the VMC-MM2 and what it does is it enables you to sync your RX0 action camera with your Sony brand mirrorless camera, so that you can get a second point of view that’s synchronized with you’re a camera.  That way, it frees up a user to do two different forms of content at the same time.  They also actually announced this at CES, but they’ve also come out with this camera control box that can sync up to 100 RX0 cameras, so that you can create a nice little bullet type effect.

Larry Jordan: What do you see Sony’s goals to be with the RX0 camera?

James DeRuvo: Well, I think the RX0, you know, it’s Sony’s GoPro killer, but, honestly, GoPro has its hands full with lower priced alternatives that are a tenth the cost.  They’re not really worried about yet another higher end model.  But the RX0 is incredibly diverse and it enables you to do things like bullet time through their camera control module and this sync cable is going to be great, it’s going to enable one man wedding photographers to be able to shoot two different vantage points at the same time and keep everything in sync.  I think they’re just expanding its capability.

Larry Jordan: That’s two major announcements from Sony, what else is in the news?

James DeRuvo: Canon announced the new 4K M50 mirrorless camera.  It comes with a 24.1 megapixel APS-C sensor that shoots 4K video with Canon Log at 24 frames per second.  But, there’s a few downsides.  First off, because it’s an APS-C sensor, it’s a 1.6X crop.  Then, on top of that, you get another 1.6X crop when you’re shooting in 4K.  Then, on top of that, it loses dual pixel autofocus when you’re shooting in 4K and it doesn’t have HDR support.

Larry Jordan: What’s the significance of it being mirrorless, what does mirrorless get us that mirror does not?

James DeRuvo: Mirrorless gives us a smaller camera, lighter, because you don’t have the shutter mechanism involved and a smaller footprint, which is really great if you are shooting out in the field.  If you’re a wedding photographer and you’re lugging around a lot of equipment, making it smaller and lighter is always a good thing.

Larry Jordan: Who do you see as the market for this new Canon camera?  Who does it compete with?

James DeRuvo: I don’t see how it can compete with Panasonic’s GH5 since the APS-C sensor isn’t being used to its fullest capacity and ends up being smaller than the micro four thirds of the GH5 and don’t even talk about the Sony Alpha models, because they’re full frame.  At the end of the day, this is largest aimed at a video blogging crowd on YouTube and not much else.

Larry Jordan: We’ve got announcements from Sony and Canon, what other stories are you following this week?

James DeRuvo: Other stories we’re following this week include Sigma 14-24 Art lens finally has a price and shipping date, DJI’s Phantom 5 could have interchangeable lenses and fly longer and Adobe plans to shut down their Story Screenwriter App, but you have a year to get all your stuff before they do.  Oh and it’s five weeks to NAB.

Larry Jordan: Five and a half, but who’s counting.  James, where can people go to get all these breaking news stories?

James DeRuvo: All these stories and more can be found at

Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo is the Editor-in-Chief of DoddleNEWS and joins us every week.  But, James, this show is talking about renting gear and I know you’ve rented your gear, so, I’d like to invite you back a little later in the show to talk about your experience in rentals.  Is that okay?

James DeRuvo: Oh absolutely.  You know, not many people realize that, with all this equipment that you have, you’ve got extra revenue just waiting to be made and being able to do it in a shared environment is a great idea.

Larry Jordan: We’ll talk to you in just a few minutes.  James, thanks for joining us this week.

James DeRuvo: Okay Larry.

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Larry Jordan: Ned Soltz is an Author, Editor, Educator and Consultant on all things related to digital video, he’s also a Contributing Editor for Red Shark News and, best of all, he’s a regular here on the Buzz.  Hello Ned, welcome back.

Ned Soltz: Hello Larry and greetings to all of our listeners as well.

Larry Jordan: They are happy to hear your voice.

Ned Soltz: Oh, absolutely.  I am sure somebody’s going to be happy to hear my voice these days.

Larry Jordan: This week we’re talking about renting gear.  When should we consider renting gear instead of buying it?

Ned Soltz: The whole question boils down to return on investment.  When you look at a piece of gear you just sometimes have to get the stars out of your eyes, just like with new cars and ask yourself honestly, do I really need to invest capital into this, into what is essentially a depreciating asset.  What possibilities do I have?  What kind of new business could I potentially and realistically attract with this new piece of gear?  

Ned Soltz: Sometimes things are just so expensive to purchase that it really doesn’t pay to purchase it.  The example here is glass.  We’re seeing some phenomenal cinema glass now in what I call a mid-range. Let’s say from maybe about $3,500 to $12-15,000 range, in many cinema primes or cinema zooms.  Now these are wonderful pieces of glass, but you really invest in that only if you’re going to be using that on a day-to-day basis and you have that client kind of demand, otherwise, it’s far more economical to calculate your rate and what you’re charging and so forth based upon factoring a rental into it, in order to achieve what you want.  That may even allow you to go to the next level of cinema lens.  I’m only using that as one example.

Ned Soltz: Cameras become yet another example.  There are some situations that a DSLR, or a mirrorless work perfectly. There are other situations where you may want a fully kitted out, high end Sony or VariCam or a RED and that might be out of your range, but you know that the client’s going to pay for it, or the artistic demand is there.  In that case, you rent as well.  There’s the economic and artist decisions.  I think that’s what goes into it first.

Larry Jordan: What should we be aware of when we’re renting a piece of equipment?

Ned Soltz: There are levels in which you rent and we’re talking about individual renters, because I rent individually.  Then you look at levels of rental houses.  There are web-based rental houses that will send your gear out overnight and I’ve dealt with a few of those before.  There are, what I call, more discount rental outlets, that seem to be lower than the major rental houses in terms of price. Then you have your big, larger major rental houses, which seem to have higher published rates than anybody else, but which also might be more open to negotiation depending on the amount of equipment, the length of time and the customer relationship that you have with them.

Ned Soltz: In the higher end, essentially you’re going to have checkout facilities you’ve going to be able to go over the equipment with them, you’re going to be a little more confident that that equipment is coming to you in tip-top shape, rather than from one of the discount types of rental places, where you’re basically going to rent, you’re going to pick up your gear and what you’ve got is what you’ve got.  I think it all depends, again, upon levels of risk that you want to take and what your budget is.

Larry Jordan: Should budget be the driving factor?

Ned Soltz: To me, budget is a driving factor, but budget is never the driving factor.  There really has to be a balance between budget and between what you think is going to give you the most dependable service.

Larry Jordan: If you’re renting a piece of equipment that you’re taking on a shoot, how do you familiarize yourself with that gear prior to the shoot?

Ned Soltz: In many rental houses, that are a higher end rental house, you’ll have a checkout with the rental agency, which means they will set it up, they will go over it with you and give you some basic familiarity.  Otherwise, if it’s a piece of equipment you’re not familiar with at all, of course the tendency today is to crowd source everything on the web and we know everything that you read on the web is accurate.  But if you don’t believe that, then you may want to rent that piece of gear for an extra day or two, just to run it through its paces.  That’s what many professionals will do.  The least of what you want is to be on set and reading a manual or calling tech support.  It’s worth it for the extra day or two.

Larry Jordan: What happens if you damage the gear, or something goes wrong?

Ned Soltz: That’s where your insurance comes in.  Because, I hope everybody has got production and liability insurance.  But along with your production insurance, your insurance agent will specify and you’ll pay for a rental gear insurance, up to given limits and you pay for how much limit you want.  I think I’ve got about $25,000 on my policy.  Then, when I want to rent something, I will get an idea of what I want, I’ll have them review it and give me a quote in writing and that will often have the serial number of the product as well.  I then give a shout to the insurance company, who will then email or fax an insurance binder to the rental house, to indicate that you’re covered.  In other cases, where it’s not, the rental house very well may take a deposit on your credit card, not charge it, but authorize it, to the extent of the value of the equipment.

Larry Jordan: The flipside of renting is an owner renting their gear to someone else and I know you rent some of your gear to individuals.  What experiences have you had in renting your own gear?

Ned Soltz: My experience has been very positive.  First of all, I have one camera that I leave with a rental house on consignment at all times.  Some months I get a very nice check and some months I get nothing, it just all depends on what the demand is.  But it is a piece of equipment that I had pretty much paid off, through amortization and through work and I wanted the successor model, even though this particular model of camera is perfectly accurate.  So I figured what I would do is, I would put this camera to work, helping to pay for the new camera and so far that’s been the case.  

Ned Soltz: It’s been very successful left with this facility and, therefore, the insurance and everything else is between them and the client.  I’ve not had any damage to the product at all, but I know if the product is damaged or destroyed, I’ll collect my money from insurance and that will be it.

Ned Soltz: Generally, rentals that I’ve had have been more word of mouth than advertising.  What I require, of course, is the certificate from their insurance company and because I’m an individual, I can certainly take the time to familiarize the person with the equipment.  The downside is, I’m not a big rental house, I’m not a one stop shop. Primarily I rent cameras.  Let’s say I’m renting one of my cameras, I’ve got a limited number of lenses.  If lenses that I have are going to be adequate to the client that’s great, otherwise, then, they’ve got to source a lens or a camera from me, they’ve got to source a lens from somebody else.  As a result of that, it becomes very difficult when you’re going to multiple sources.

Larry Jordan: Where can we go to find out how much we should charge for gear that we’re renting out ourselves?

Ned Soltz: I go to the various rental houses online and I see what they’re charging online and I try to scale my pricing accordingly and scale it lower than what the going rate would be at a commercial house.  Because I’m not offering the full service that a commercial house will offer.

Larry Jordan: Is there a reasonable time to rent a piece of equipment?  In other words, how long should we hold onto equipment before it becomes unrealistic to rent?

Ned Soltz: I think, when you reach the point here nobody wants it anymore, the product is not obsolete, as long as people still want to use it.

Larry Jordan: What tips do you have for somebody who wants to rent gear and has never rented before?

Ned Soltz: I would say, the first tip is, decide upon your budget.  Once you’ve decided upon your budget, then look at the needs that you have in that particular shoot, try to match the equipment that you need for the particular shoot and, then, see if that falls within your budget.  

Ned Soltz: If you find that your needs are far greater than your budget, you have to either reassess the budget amount that you have, or you then have to scale down your objectives, or if it’s in the case of something that’s for a specific client, you may have to tell the client that, for the price we have agreed upon, or discussed at least, we can’t deliver you this particular quality that you’re looking for.  You don’t want to do that, that’s a point of last resort, which is why you want to clarify with your client exactly what they want and then get your cost of equipment together before approaching your client with a quote, based upon the level that the client wants.  

Ned Soltz: Now, of course, a client may very well come to you with totally unrealistic expectations and you quote high, because you’ve had to rent equipment far higher.  At that point you have to work with that client to say, it’s just not going to be achievable within the budget that you want.  Then you get into other general business practices of, how much do you keep cutting your prices and cutting your prices to the point that it’s no longer realistic for you to be in business.  That’s another set of issues, you know, of the high school kid with the DSLR cutting your prices.

Larry Jordan: Ned, I enjoy talking to you every time we chat, because I learn something new.  For people that want to follow your current thinking, where can they go on the web?

Ned Soltz: Best place to go on the web these days is where I’m writing with some degree of regularity and both product review, as well as industry opinion and I would welcome any comments that anyone has to any of my Red Shark articles.

Larry Jordan: Ned Soltz is the Contributing Editor for Red Shark News and Ned, as always, thanks for taking the time to join us.

Ned Soltz: Thank you Larry.

Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo is the Editor-in-Chief for DoddleNEWS, but he’s also a videographer and someone who’s rented his own gear, which is what we want to talk with him about now.  Hello James, welcome back.

James DeRuvo: Hello Larry.

Larry Jordan: Why did you decide to rent your own gear?

James DeRuvo: Honestly, I did it because I was writing an article about the emerging trend of the shared environment.  You can use Uber or Lift to make a living with your car, you can use Air BnB to make a living with your house or apartment, videographers and photographers for a while now had various opportunities to rent their unused gear through such sites as ShareGrid and, so, I wanted to just see, well how does this work?  I listed all of my camera gear on ShareGrid and made a nice little profit in the meantime, so that was a very interesting experience that I wrote about.

Larry Jordan: Why ShareGrid?

James DeRuvo: I kind of like the name. It was easy to remember and I like their website interface.  The whole idea behind it is, is that you would list all of your stuff on ShareGrid and then people would contact you via email, or text message and then you would arrange to meet with them at a neutral location.  They have already paid for the rental, because it’s all done online.  They inspect the gear, you sign on a piece of paper and they take it off and then you meet back together a couple of days later and you get your stuff back.

James DeRuvo: I was skeptical because I thought, okay, you know, what’s going to happen?  But it ended up being a very nice experience.  The people who I rented my gear to tend to be millennials, younger filmmakers who are just starting out, but they’re very excited about this whole shared portal opportunity, rather than going into a big professional rental store.  You know, we have all of this camera equipment. I’ve got three Gimbals and five GoPros and two different SLRs and a camcorder, you know, 90% of the time they’re just sitting there, so why not put them to use and make a little extra money?  That’s why I did it.

Larry Jordan: What insurance do you require?

James DeRuvo: All of the insurance is handled through ShareGrid. They have their own insurance waiver and you do have to pay for the insurance.  It used to be that you were given the option of self-insuring, or using their insurance service, but now they require all renters to buy the insurance, so everything is protected.  When they first started, insurance was a really kind of touch and go issue, because they were always giving people the option of paying for insurance or not and then, I guess they must have had a problem with losing too much gear and so they required insurance after that.  

James DeRuvo: Another thing that you’ve got to make sure of is, if you turn down a rental more than four or five times and I was just too busy to do it, then all of a sudden you stop getting requests.  You’ve got to make sure that’s all above board.

Larry Jordan: Do you quality the people that you rent to, or is everything handled through ShareGrid and you just trust them?

James DeRuvo: It’s kind of like Ebay where you have feedback ratings.  You give feedback ratings to the experience and, then, the higher the rating, the more trustworthy the renter and the more trustworthy the person who’s renting the gear.  It’s in your own best interest to provide a positive renting experience, because that will increase your feedback rating and then people are more than likely wanting to trust you.  Whenever I would get a text message from ShareGrid saying, “Hey, someone wants to rent from you,” I can go online, I can look at their profile, I can see what they’ve done in the past, see comments about how people have done and then I can decide whether or not to rent to them or not.  It’s a really nice social experience that, for me, worked out quite well.

Larry Jordan: How do you determine your rates?

James DeRuvo: They kind of give you an example, you can go on and look at what other similar products are renting for on ShareGrid and then you can determine it from there.  Or, if you just want to, you can just charge less or more, depending upon what you want to get.  But, obviously, if you’re going to be charging more than what other people are charging, you’re not going to get very many rentals and you could put a rental on sale every once in a while and give them an extra day, or that type of thing. It’s really casual and kind of open and I like it.

Larry Jordan: If you were to rent gear for yourself, as opposed to rent your gear to others, would you use the same website?

James DeRuvo: I would use ShareGrid, but I probably wouldn’t use it for something that’s kind of out of my range.  Like, if I wanted to shoot with a RED Helium for the very first time, I probably wouldn’t go to ShareGrid because I wouldn’t have that customer support behind it. So I would go to LensProToGo or Camera Lens to do it, because then I could get support behind it, so that, if I run into some problems, I’m not trying to chase down the owner of the camera gear, I can just call LensProToGo and they’ve got somebody there that can help me.  

James DeRuvo: I think, it largely depends upon what you’re renting and what your budget and project is.  The thing about shooting film is, there’s no real rules per se and, so, I think it just largely depends.  If you’re just going out and you need an extra GoPro, ShareGrid’s the way to go. If you’re wanting to get a shot at the RED Helium for the first time, then I would go for a larger concern that will give you the kind of support that you’re going to need to run it.

Larry Jordan: What advice do you have for someone thinking of renting their own gear for the first time?

Larry Jordan: Be organized.  What I mean by that is, make sure that you have all of your stuff properly labeled.  I did have one experience where they rented two different GoPros from me and another guy and they got the GoPro switched.  Then, I had to go back to them a second time because they got the batteries mixed up.  You want to make sure that everything that you have is labeled. You want to make sure that you have like a form that you give them to sign so that they know what they’re getting, they’ve checked off everything.  Organization will set you free.  

James DeRuvo: That is probably the biggest thing that I would recommend, if you’re going to rent your own gear, is make sure you have all your serial numbers on all the rental information that you have.  Your contact information, if not on the gear, on the case that the gear comes into, make sure that your gear is easily identifiable, that all your supporting gear, like batteries and camera mounts and all that stuff are properly identified, so that you make sure you can get everything back and list everything. Everything that you’ve got in your kit, list it on the rental piece that they sign, so that they know that they’re signing for, not just the camera, but for the batteries and the cables and then give them a copy of that, so they can check off, okay I’m giving them back.  

James DeRuvo: Then, when you go to pick up your gear, you do it all again, you sign that you’ve picked up everything that you need, so that there’s no misunderstandings.  That is going to go a long way towards making sure you get your own gear back, but also that you have a positive rental experience.  Because, if they see that you’re organized, that you care about your gear, then they’re going to want to rent from you again because they know that you offer not only good gear, but a good service.

Larry Jordan: For people who want to keep track of what you’re thinking and doing, where can they go on the web?

James DeRuvo: I’m the Editor-in-Chief of, I’m always there.

Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo is the Editor-in-Chief at DoddleNEWS and, James, thanks for joining us, we’ll talk to you next week.

James DeRuvo: Alright, have a good weekend.

Larry Jordan: Les Zellan is the Chairman of Cooke Optics, best known for their precision lenses for film and television.  Not only are their lenses available for purchase, they are also available to rent and that’s why we wanted to talk to Les today.  Hello Les, welcome back.

Les Zellan: Thank you, I’m glad to be here.

Larry Jordan: Before we start talking about rentals, describe Cooke lenses.

Les Zellan: Well, you know, we’re making now about 65 different lenses every month, use various formats, from Super 35 to the newer large format cameras.  We have anamorphic lenses, we have the lenses that started the whole modern lens revolution, the S4s, 5Is and the anamorphics, the new S7s, which are full frame.  You know, we are trying to keep up with the camera guys and all the new formats that they have.  In fact, the S7s that we introduced last year at NAB actually got to the market before the cameras did.

Les Zellan: Our goal is to give cinematographers and videographers the tools they need to capture the images that they send all over the world.

Larry Jordan: Well, do you sell, rent, or both sell and rent your lenses?

Les Zellan: We are a manufacturer and we only sell, we don’t want to compete with our customers and, traditionally, our biggest customer are rental houses.  But my philosophy goes one step further, that is, I consider anybody I sell to, be them an individual, or the biggest rental company in the world is our own company.  If I sell to an individual, he’s going to put those on one of his jobs and undoubtedly rent them to that production and deny a rental company that rental.  

Les Zellan: We look at all of our customers as rental companies, be them individuals or some of these gigantic rental companies.  We try to create everybody fairly and pretty much the same.

Larry Jordan: Does your manufacturing change, knowing that your lenses will be principally rented, which generally means subjected to harsher treatment?

Les Zellan: No.  The motion picture industry is, shall we say, not gentle on equipment. Whether it is an individual, or a rental company, so we would like to think that our lenses and our products are built to the highest standards. Frankly, whether it’s an individual, or a rental company, a lot of stuff happens on a set, equipment is often times mishandled, with the best of intentions.  Again, we build everything to the highest possible standard as we can.

Larry Jordan: Equipment is always expendable on a shoot, I know what you mean.  Tell me about this collaboration you have with your rental houses.  They’re your largest market.  Do they give you feedback on what they’d like you to create?

Les Zellan: We’re in an interesting marketplace, because, the rental houses which are our largest customers are not our user actually.  You know, the user is their customer, the Director of Photography, the Cinematographer that walks into that rental house and says, I want a Cooke lens.  There’s a little bit of a disconnect, but yes, we pride ourselves on listening to the industry, we talk to all the rental house customers, we happily accept their feedback, we talk to the end users, the Cinematographers, we talk to assistants.  The best example of this was the design of the S4s.  

Les Zellan: Just so you know, the S4s this year have turned 20 years old, they’re still our bestselling product.  They have become more or less the standard of the industry.  I know we really nailed the design because, almost all of our competitors have at least copied the ergonomics of the S4s.  The way we came up with that was, we talked to three groups of people, we talked to the Cinematographer and the DT and, frankly, they’re pretty much the easiest group.  They like Cooke lenses, they like the Cooke work, they like the warmth of the Cooke, they like the way they render the images and the contrast and the Cooke look has been consistent for almost 100 years now, so we know what they want.

Les Zellan: Then we talked to the assistants and these are the guys that really are at the sharp end.  They’re the guy that picks up the lens, they’re the guy that puts focus on it, they’re the guy that actually handles the lens.  They had an enormous amount of input into our design of the S4s and subsequent lenses, the size, the shape, the ergonomic of the lens were really, in large part, due to their input.  Then we also talked to the rental houses.  You know, the rental houses gets a lot of feedback from their customers on what they want, but they want some specific things.  

Les Zellan: Time is money and if a lens goes out on a shoot and it comes back and it takes a week to clean that lens, that whole set of lenses may be out of commission for a week.  One of the things we did with the S4s and our subsequent products is tried to make them as easily serviceable as possible, so that a rental house can turn them around very quickly.  An S4, for example, takes about an hour to do normal cleaning and service on it, some of our competitors take a day to do that.  We listen to people at every level of the industry and try to satisfy their needs.

Larry Jordan: For a DP who’s thinking of renting Cooke lenses for the very first time, what advice do you have to help them pick the best lens for their project?

Les Zellan: Well, you know, that’s always an interesting question and an impossible question for me to answer, because, I am really a firm believer that the choices that he makes should be driven by the story.  Too often now, you know, we introduce a new product or a new focal length or one of my competitors does, it doesn’t matter and all of a sudden people say, oh I can’t shoot my next movie unless they have that new camera, or that new lens, or that new whatever.  That just seems to me like crazy talk.  How did you shoot your last movie without that product, you know?  It really needs to be story driven.  I wish I could answer that question but I really can’t.

Larry Jordan: Let me come back at you, because I think you can.  How do we determine how your lens will affect our story?  I agree totally that we want to pick the lens that enhances our story, but, what criteria should we use in judging which Cooke lens is going to be able to reinforce that?

Les Zellan: If the Cooke look is right for your film, then it’s simply a matter of picking the difference between the Mini S4, the S4 or the 5i is just the speed.  The Mini S4 is [28], the S4 is two and the 5i is 1.4, but the look is consistent.  You know, when they shot Hugo, I don’t know, five or six years ago now, they shot that with two sets of fours, two sets of fives and two sets of Minis and depending on what camera we used in the Minis, depending on the shot, they would either use the fours or the fives.  

Les Zellan: That extends also into our other lenses.  For instance, if you were going to shoot with a full frame camera, like the Venice or the Arri LF, or the RED Weapon, you know, the now S7 series, but the S7 series color and color balances in a look is consistent with S4s and fives and the minis.  The same is true for our anamorphic lenses.  If the Cooke look is right for your film, then it’s simply a matter of ticking, what format am I shooting and what speed do I need.

Larry Jordan: For people that need more information about the lenses that Cooke makes available, where can they go on the web?

Les Zellan: They can go to

Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, and Les Zellan is the Chairman of Cooke Optics.  Les, thanks for joining us today.

Les Zellan: You’re so welcome, thank you for having me.

Larry Jordan: Here’s another website I want to introduce you to,  DoddleNEWS gives you a portal into the broadcast, video and film industries.  It’s a leading online resource, presenting news, reviews and products for the film and video industry.  DoddleNEWS also offers a resource guide and crew management platform specifically designed for production.  These digital call sheets, along with their app, directory and premium listings, provide in-depth organizational tools for busy production professionals.  

Larry Jordan: DoddleNEWS is a part of the Thalo Arts community, a worldwide community of artists, filmmakers and storytellers.  From photography to filmmaking, performing arts to fine arts and everything in between, Thalo is filled with the resources you need to succeed.  Whether you want the latest industry news, need to network with other creative professionals, or require state of the art online tools to manage your next project, there’s only one place to go,

Larry Jordan: Over the past 20 years, Carl Cook has held many different positions within the New York production community, Editor, Production Manager, Camera Tech, Rental Manager, Sales Executive.  Now, at VR, Carl is the Director of Television and Cinema East, with a focus on reintroducing VER as a top tier camera rental house and service provider in New York City.  Hello Carl, welcome.

Carl Cook: Hello Larry, thanks for having me.

Larry Jordan: How would you describe VER?

Carl Cook: We’re a global provider of production equipment, we have 36 offices worldwide, within that, camera aside, we also rent audio, LED, lighting.  We also have full engineering capabilities for our broadcast division.  The way I like to put it is, it’s a global company but with a local focus.

Larry Jordan: Now, in your intro, I said that you were a rental house and service provider, what services do you provide?

Carl Cook: Beyond your kind of run of the mill box rental, if you just wanted to place an order and pick something up, whatever that item may be, we go far beyond that.  We provide poor engineering support, consulting, for production companies who are working on multi-chain, large, live event productions.  We’re at the ground floor conversations with production.  To give you an example, we did an AC/DC concert in Wrigley Field.  There was 22 cameras, there was a blend of 35mm digital 35, the other half was studio cameras.  

Carl Cook: What’s unique about our service is, we’re able to come in, with all of our equipment, with our background in broadcast and our background in cinema, bring in our engineers, our techs and our consultants, we can sit down with production, outline what our capabilities are, listen to them and they’ll tell us their vision and we’ll make it happen.  When the gear leaves the rental house, our job isn’t over, we see ourselves as an extension of production, so we’re right there with you the entire way.  We’re a 24/7 business and we’re always there at a moment’s notice.

Larry Jordan: Let’s focus on the independent filmmaker. Generally you’re renting one camera, maybe two, but it’s not a big live production, but it’s a film production.  How does the rental process work?  How can you help them decide what cameras and gear they need and come up with a price that makes sense?

Carl Cook: That’s actually a great question.  You know, I don’t want to lend the impression that, just because of the size and scale that VER operates, that we’re not a friend of the independent filmmaker, or the student filmmaker, in fact, on the contrary.  We have relationships with the local universities in all of the cities that we have a presence in.  In terms of what we can offer them, it really comes down to two things, ultimately the creative decision on the camera, which we’re happy to show a prospective client camera tests, lens tenses, they can come in, spend a day at our facility, you know, just hang out with our camera prep techs, with our lens technicians and just have a conversation.  

Carl Cook: The second thing is, of course, the budget.  We all know that independent projects can be a micro budget and where VER excels in that regard is, because we are a larger company and we have such a vast and deep inventory, we can afford to discount these packages to support these projects, because we have other long-term larger projects that are kind of fueling the machines.  

Carl Cook: To be frank, it’s more about the relationship, especially on the cinema and independent film side.  We know that these young and independent filmmakers, they’re going to be on another project and they’re going to have a long and lustrous career and we’re interested in becoming parties with them.  We don’t really want to focus too much money or what kind of budget these productions have.  Then it just comes down to simple paperwork that they have to fill out, to establish an account with us and then they’re ready to roll.

Larry Jordan: Let’s talk about that paperwork.  What do you need from a filmmaker to rent gear to them and what do they need for insurance?

Carl Cook: The most important aspect of renting equipment, from any rental house, is production insurance and that doesn’t mean liability insurance, it means insurance for the equipment.  It’s typically up to the broker, the wording and what our people accept, but it typically is a special addendum and the insurance form that says miscellaneous rental equipment and then it’ll have in the far column, to the value of 500000.  

Carl Cook: Beyond that, there’s a little pamphlet that we send out, that’s one or two pages, with pretty straightforward questions.  It’s not invasive at all, we have a department that handles that.  They can call you, they can get in touch with you, they can walk you through the paperwork, it really doesn’t differ much from vendor to vendor.  Of course, we do our due diligence.  There’s a portion of the process where we can’t just accept an insurance certificate for a $1 million on face value, so they’ll do some behind the scenes due diligence to check the validity of that.  

Carl Cook: When everything is on the up and up, the key is to be insured and you can make payment with a credit card, with a check, there’s a whole host of ways.  We’ve really gone through great lengths to make it as simple as possible, to get that set up, because that’s the boring part of the business and nobody really wants to deal with that.  In fact, we’ve recently revamped the process to streamline it even more and you can get all the forms on our website, or by calling any of the VER offices.

Larry Jordan: When should someone decide to rent equipment over buying it?

Carl Cook: That’s a great question.  It comes down to what the needs of the particular production are.  On the episodics, you know, television, teacher films, where it’s higher end cinema cameras, whether it be film or digital, more often than not it’s a rental product, for a host of reasons.  The equipment’s just too expensive to buy, it would take an army of people to maintain and there’s so many specialties involved with the optics and with the cameras themselves.  When you’re working with a rental house, you have that layer of redundancy, if something goes down, all you have to do is make a phone call and “Hey guys, my camera’s down, I need one like yesterday” and, you know, a rental house will respond.

Carl Cook: Now that suits those projects.  I’ll use reality television as an example.  Some of the lower budget reality projects, that are successful shows on cable, that will go four or five year and lean more towards a lower end or prosumer style camera, in some of those instances production opts to buy.  We have some of our greatest clients who own their own gear too.  What goes into the actual rental and when you’re’ dealing with a rental company is, the support, that’s the thing that gets missed a lot.  If you just kind of look at a spreadsheet and say, well wait a minute, why would I rent this camera for four months when I can buy it for this?  

Carl Cook: If that’s your matrix, it’s not going to make a lot of sense to you, because you step back and realize that, well wait a minute, we have a lot riding on this production, we don’t’ have an Equipment Manager, we don’t have a Lens Technician, you know, we don’t have certified Sony or Arri technicians.  To answer your question in short, it really just depends on the nature of the production.  There are instances where it may make sense to buy.

Carl Cook: One last piece that’s important to know about that is, even when an owner/operator, so a DP or an AC, is working on commercial projects and they opt to buy a camera for themselves, the only thing I would say to that is, you do pigeonhole yourself with the technology.  Every year and a half cameras change, lenses, audio, lighting, things like that typically have a much longer period of amortization for a rental house, or for anybody trying to get their money back.  

Carl Cook: But the cameras themselves, that technology changes so rapidly.  To make a capital investment on a technology that 18-24 months after the fact, Canon, Sony, Arri are going to release a new product, you pigeonhole yourself into using that same camera for all of your production.  You just don’t have the vast inventory.  

Carl Cook: We just say, you know, let us do the work and worry about getting the money back on the cameras, you know, you rent it from us and we can support it and when a new camera comes out, guess what?  We’re going to be the ones that are going to end up taking the hit and we’re going to buy it.  If you want to come test it and rent it, then you can do that.

Larry Jordan: What advice would you give a producer who is thinking of renting for the first time, what should they keep in mind?

Carl Cook: I think it’s important to have a frank conversation about the budget, upfront.  We can provide suggestions for products that are a little more budget friendly.  The other thing too is that, just looking on paper at the actual rate of a rental and this is something that we deal with, with producers, quite a bit, it’s important for the production community to know that, what goes into the rental rate is a host of things.  It’s not just what the product costs, it’s what the market will bear, it’s what it costs to service it, so there’s a whole host of things.  

Carl Cook: I would say, from my perspective, for a new producer who wants to rent for the first time, transparency and trust is not just on the producer’s part, but also on the onus of the rental company too.

Larry Jordan: Carl, for people that want more information about VER, where can they go on the web?

Carl Cook: They can go to and you can see all the other work we do, that’s not just camera and optics.

Larry Jordan: Carl Cook is the Director of Television and Cinema East for VER and, Carl, thanks for joining us today.

Carl Cook: Thank you so much Larry.

Larry Jordan: I was just thinking, I own a camera, but for the last three video productions I’ve produced, we rented all of our production equipment.  Using the camera I owned would have been a lot cheaper, but the project itself would have suffered.  Renting gave me an unlimited range of creative options, in terms of the look of the project, our flexibility during production and picking gear that our production team was comfortable using.  

Larry Jordan: As I was preparing tonight’s show, I realized that, with our upcoming Buzz coverage of the 2018 NAB show, we’re renting again, except, this time, it’s for a series of live audio shows, not video.  For the first eight years that we covered NAB, I owned all the audio gear that we used for the show, we drove it in, set it up, aired our shows, packed it up and drove it home.  

Larry Jordan: Last year, we rented for the first time and it did not go well.  We didn’t communicate well with the rental house that supplied us our equipment and crew, or they didn’t listen clearly.  Either way, both the crew and the gear were insufficient.  The first day’s broadcasts were not ideal.  While not all the problems were caused by bad system design, a lot of them were.  But, overnight, they went back to their warehouse, swapped out all the wrong equipment for the right gear, moved staff around and brought in an entirely different crew and the rest of the week’s shows went much more smoothly.

Larry Jordan: For me, this is one of the key benefits of working with a high quality rental house, they have a very deep bench.  If what you have doesn’t work, or it’s the wrong thing for the job at hand, you can get the right thing as fast as a delivery truck can get there.  Nothing beats good planning, but sometimes, even the best of plans don’t foresee everything that can and does go wrong during production.  At times like these, it’s good to know that someone’s got your back.  Just something I’m thinking about.

Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests this week, Ned Soltz with, Les Zellan, Chairman of Cooke Optics, Carl Cook with VER and James DeRuvo with  There’s a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website, at  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.

Larry Jordan: Talk with us on Twitter @DPBuZZ and Facebook at  Our theme music is composed by Nathan Dugi-Turner, with additional music provided by  Text transcripts are provided by Take1 Transcription, visit to learn how they can help you.  Our Producer is Debbie Price, my name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to the Digital Production Buzz.