Michael Kammes, Director of Business Development, BeBop Technology
Philip Hodgetts, President / CEO, Lumberjack System
Maxim Jago, Director, MaximJago.com
Larry O’Connor, Founder & CEO, Other World Computing
Emery Wells, CEO and Co-Founder, Frame.io
Paul Babb, Head of Worldwide Marketing, Maxon
James DeRuvo, Editor-in-Chief, DoddleNEWS
Larry Jordan: Tonight on the Buzz, we look forward into 2019 to spot emerging trends that will impact the media industry this year. We’ve invited seven futurists to share their thoughts on what’s coming.
Larry Jordan: We start with Michael Kammes, the new director of business development for BeBop Technology. Then we’ll hear from Philip Hodgetts, the CEO of Lumberjack System, producer director Maxim Jago, Larry O’Connor, the CEO of Other World Computing, Emery Wells, the CEO of Frame.io, and Paul Babb, the new head of worldwide marketing for Maxon.
Larry Jordan: All this, plus James DeRuvo with the weekly DoddleNEWS update. The Buzz starts now.
Announcer: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking, Authoritative: One show serves a worldwide network of media professionals. Current: Uniting industry experts. Production: Filmmakers. Post-production: And content creators around the planet. Distribution: From the media capital of the world, in Los Angeles, California, the Digital Production Buzz goes live now.
Larry Jordan: Welcome to the Digital Production Buzz; the world’s longest running podcast for the creative content industry, covering media production, post-production and marketing around the world.
Larry Jordan: Hi, my name is Larry Jordan. The start of a new year is as good a time as any to take a look around our industry to try to figure out what’s going on, and tonight, we’ve collected a great group of industry leaders and I’m looking forward to learning something new during our conversations. This will be an interesting show.
Larry Jordan: By the way, if you enjoy the Buzz, please give us a positive rating and review in the iTunes store. We appreciate your support to help us grow our audience.
Larry Jordan: Now it’s time for our DoddleNEWS update with James DeRuvo. Hello James, Happy New Year.
James DeRuvo: Happy New Year 2019 Larry.
Larry Jordan: It’s going to be an exciting time, no question, and I can’t think of a better way to start than with you and the news. What you got for us?
James DeRuvo: Well we’re still recovering from a post holiday stupor so I thought since we were going to be talking about trends in 2019 tonight, that we’d talk about what may be coming in the next few months.
James DeRuvo: So kicking off the first story of the year of course RED had to get in the mix and they previewed a picture of their new Lithium 4V holographic camera that they’ve been developing with Lucid Technologies. It’s going to contain dual 4K image sensors for an 8K stereographic image, and the control hub for this camera, it’s not going to have a conventional brain like you think. It looks like it’s going to be controlled by the RED Hydrogen One 4V smartphone.
Larry Jordan: Well let’s back up a step for people that don’t necessarily live on the cutting edge of future technology. What’s 4V?
James DeRuvo: 4V stands for 4 view, and the best way I can describe it is, you remember those old Viewmasters that we got to play with when we were kids? A 3D image with depth and everything. It’s kind of a very high-tech image like that but only more advanced, coming from your smartphone screen, so you don’t need any type of virtual reality glasses or goggles or anything like that. It’s just there. But honestly, I think it’s too soon to tell if 4V holographic content is going to take off. If we look to the past to see what these kind of technologies perform, we only need to look at both 3D and virtual reality to see that 4V may be the next great technology but it may also be a very small percentage of the market.
Larry Jordan: That’s RED. What’s your number two story?
James DeRuvo: It has to do with CES. If we’re going to talk about trends in 2019, the first place to hit the ground running is the Consumer Electronic Show which is now for some reason, just known as CES. They’re going to be showing electronic technology from all over the world, from every single conceivable electronics category you can think of. I like to call it Nerdstock, and the big buzz word is going to be the emergence of 5G mobile internet access. Not only with your mobile phones, but Intel is pushing 5G for your laptops, so that your internet access will always be on no matter what device you’re carrying and no matter where you are.
James DeRuvo: TV manufacturers will also be showing off the future 8K monitor designs, but industry analysts all agree that this year is going to be an off year for TVs as 4K prices have come down and content is only now getting to the point of market saturation where we’re going to see every Blu-ray coming out in 4K. But even then, we’re still in a 1080p in the broadcast world and even some broadcast channels are still broadcasting in 720p. So the only place that you’re going to see 8K broadcast is out of Japan right now. Industry analysts all agree that 8K is still way over the horizon.
James DeRuvo: The other thing that’s going to be big at CES is going to be augmented reality as it officially replaces virtual reality in many hearts and minds this year. Application developers are opening up their apps for overlaying data onto real world images from their app, and that means that augmented reality is really going to be the hot thing this year instead of VR. VR by contrast is going to be going through an adjustment period as manufacturers like Oculus tack their way towards devices that are lower priced and don’t require a high priced computer to drive them. But even then, I still think VR isn’t long for this world.
Larry Jordan: OK, 5G at CES means that it’s still a while before it hits the mass market but this is exciting news for those that need faster wireless download speeds. What’s your thought?
James DeRuvo: 5G is closer than you think. AT is already starting to push what they call 5G enhanced, and you should be seeing a 5GE logo on your mobile devices in the next few months. But T mogul executives are arguing that it’s just a marketing ploy and that it’s not really here yet. But many carriers are gearing up for it, and it’s expected that 5G will launch later this year.
Larry Jordan: What’s our third story?
James DeRuvo: Well I know you don’t really like rumors, but there’s persistent talk that Sony may showcase an 8K full frame mirrorless camera in response to the full frame mirrorless cameras that were announced last year by Panasonic, Canon and Nikon. While that may happen at CES, I don’t think it’s going to be an official major announcement, and even then, it’ll likely be much like the A73 which uses a 6K sensor that downscales to a 4K image. So even then, I think it’ll technically be an 8K image sensor in an A74 but look for it to be a 6K image that comes out the other end.
James DeRuvo: Meanwhile, in an interview with DP Review, Panasonic executives stated that their company is developing 8K cameras, but they’re not even going to be putting one out until after the Olympics in 2020.
Larry Jordan: I’m very curious to see where this resolution battle ends up because while I can understand the value of 4K, I’m not sure the value of 8K images or beyond is worth compared to say HDR and lower resolutions.
James DeRuvo: I completely agree. I think if anything the market for 8K would be in the movie theaters, but even then, those movie theaters only recently underwent an extensive and expensive refit to 4K projection, so I don’t think their advancement timetable for 8K is as quick as the manufacturers would like. That’s just the way it is, so I don’t think we’re going to see 8K anywhere until after the Olympics in 2020. That’s the beginning of 2019 Larry. That’s where we are and the good news is NAB is only four months away.
Larry Jordan: Oh very true.
James DeRuvo: Tell me more about what’s going on on the Buzz tonight.
Larry Jordan: Well tonight on the Buzz we’re picking up on your idea of looking forward into the year 2019 with some of our favorite futurists talking about what we can expect in the upcoming year, and it’s going to be an interesting show.
James DeRuvo: You know, I always love looking over the horizon and seeing what’s coming.
Larry Jordan: Especially when we can guess right.
James DeRuvo: Indeed.
Larry Jordan: And where can we go on the web to learn more about the stories you and your team are covering?
James DeRuvo: As always in 2019, all these stories and more can be found at Doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo is the Editor in Chief of Doddlenews.com and joins us every week. Have yourself a great year, and we’ll see you next Thursday.
James DeRuvo: Happy New Year.
Larry Jordan: As director of business development for BeBop, Michael Kammes leverages his experience with creative technology and tools providers to accelerate growth and provide strategic perspective across marketing sales and partnership. He’s also a frequent and welcome contributor to the Buzz. Hello Michael, welcome back.
Michael Kammes: Larry, great to hear your voice and Happy New Year.
Larry Jordan: And a very Happy New Year to you. Michael, as you just heard on our DoddleNews update, we’re taking a look back at 2018 and projecting coming trends for 2019. But before we start, there’s a new title attached to your name. Congratulations. Tell me about your new position.
Michael Kammes: I’m working at BeBop Technology which is obviously a technology company that focuses on editorial and VFX and creative applications in the Cloud. So instead of having a machine local next to you that you have to upgrade every couple of years and take care of, you can use any pedestrian computer, access a virtual machine in the Cloud, and edit whether it be video or motion effects like you’re sitting in front of the machine.
Larry Jordan: Congratulations on your new position and your new company and I wish you all success in the future.
Michael Kammes: Thank you so much Larry. I appreciate it.
Larry Jordan: So put your technology hat on, what are some of the highlights that caught your eye from 2018?
Michael Kammes: Well in Hollywood at least, we got really excited because Google’s put in a data center in Hollywood. So that means anyone who wants to access the aforementioned Cloud, can do it with local resources, meaning in town, and that helps out a lot. I know that’s not great for people who are outside Hollywood, but for the microcosm that is Hollyweird, it’s fantastic.
Larry Jordan: Back that up. Yes, Google’s got a data center in LA, but we still have to dial out or whatever it is up to the web before we can get to it. Why is having a local resource important?
Michael Kammes: Well I don’t know about you Larry but I don’t do much dialing lately. I ran out of my AOL hours so I’m not dialing as much anymore. But you’re right, for the folks who are local, you do obviously have to get out to the internet. So it is dependent on your connection at home. But if you’re playing video live, trying to back files up, trying to copy files back, you can interact with them faster if they’re sitting on Google storage in a data center that’s near you. It also allows developers to put together applications that require that kind of short latency by having that data center close to you. So for us folks out here, it’s fantastic.
Larry Jordan: OK, well don’t tell my phone that I can’t dial out anymore.
Michael Kammes: The other big thing I saw last year was folks can finally afford NVME flash media. For years we’ve had to deal with spinning disks and then we went to SSDs which were a great tradeoff between speed and cost, and solid state flash memory has always been prohibitively expensive. But we’re seeing that price drastically drop and now you can use that to house the OS on your PC. You can use these kinds of storage solutions in multiple types of computers which allows you to get thousands of megabytes a second of throughput as opposed to dozens or hundreds like we had with SSDs and spinning disks.
Larry Jordan: What’s the difference between an SSD and an NMVE disk?
Michael Kammes: The NVME is essentially flash memory and depending on what kind of form factor it has it’s commonly referred to as M.2 which is the form factor which attaches to the mother board. So you’re effectively using that NVME which is flash storage, as a ‘hard drive’, and you get much better performance.
Larry Jordan: Do we have the same level of reliability that we do with an SSD?
Michael Kammes: Completely because it’s solid state, there isn’t moving parts which means you’re going to have much increased reliability compared to hard drives, and even better shelf life than SSDs.
Larry Jordan: Let’s flip forward to 2019, what trends are you looking forward to?
Michael Kammes: Well I know a lot of editors aren’t going to like this, but we’ve seen this over the past couple of years, and that’s moving from a CapEx to an OpEx, and let me explain that a little bit. Traditionally you buy software and you own it. Avid used to do that back in the day, Adobe did it, Apple still does it today. You buy it, you own it, done. A lot of folks like that, because it’s a one time expenditure, but what we’re seeing is a lot more companies, especially in editorial space, have said “We can’t project how business is going to fly, so we’re going to start charging per month.” I know a lot of editors do not like that, however there is something to be said for shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars if you’re not using it on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. So I think people are going to have to start adjusting the way they spend money to go on a monthly plan or maybe paying at the beginning of a year than having to just fork it out once and be done with it.
Larry Jordan: OK, I can see that that’s going to cause a lot of controversy.
Michael Kammes: Luckily, Adobe took the bullets on this one and now everyone’s falling in line. I’m also a fan of video over IP. Obviously the standard has been ratified I think SMPTE 2021 if I’m not mistaken, and 2022. The big player is NDI which is network device interface, and this is from a company called NewTek which was one of the first companies to look at this video over IP standard and say, “This is fantastic but it’s not great for a majority of people out there because they don’t have that kind of infrastructure, either for their network or for their internet pipe.” So NewTeK came out with a way of taking full motion video, SD, HD etcetera, and compressing it down to a video stream over your network, which means you now can beam video around your network like a traditional video router, and even outside your network to distant places without getting a satellite truck, and without expensive interconnects.
Larry Jordan: Now that’s very cool. We’ve got to bring you back to talk more about all of this stuff, but for people that want to keep track of what you’re thinking and writing, and especially 5 Things, how can we find you?
Larry Jordan: That’s the number five, 5thingsseries.com and Michael Kammes is the director of business development for BeBop and Michael, I promise we’ll bring you back soon.
Michael Kammes: Hope you feel better Larry. Thank you.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Here’s another website I want to introduce you to. Doddlenews.com. DoddleNEWS gives you a portal into the broadcast, video and film industries. It’s a leading online resource, presenting news, reviews and products for the film and video industry. DoddleNEWS also offers a resource guide and crew management platforms specifically designed for production. These digital call sheets, along with their app, directory and premium listings, provide in depth organizational tools for busy production professionals. DoddleNEWS is a part of the Thalo Arts Community, a worldwide community of artists, filmmakers and storytellers. From photography to filmmaking, performing arts to fine arts, and everything in between, Thalo is filled with resources you need to succeed. Whether you want the latest industry news, need to network with other creative professionals or require state of the art online tools to manage your next project, there’s only one place to go. Doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: Philip Hodgetts is recognized as a leading technologist as well as the CEO of Lumberjack System. Even better, he’s a regular here on the Buzz where he specializes in explaining new technology. Hello Philip, welcome back.
Philip Hodgetts: Happy New Year to you Larry.
Larry Jordan: A very Happy New Year to you as well. You know, it seems appropriate seeing as this is the first Thursday in a new year, to look and try and figure out what’s coming, and nobody can spot the future better than you can so I’m going to dump the whole burden on your shoulders. What do you see as key trends this coming year?
Philip Hodgetts: I would like to point out that if I was really good at predicting the future, I’d be a whole lot richer. So keep that in mind. I think it’s going to be one of those years where we get both the high and the low end exploding at the same time. By which I mean at the high end I think we’ll see a lot more raw acquisition, that’s been an ongoing trend over the last couple of years. At the low end I think mobile production is just going to explode. Of course machine learning and artificial intelligence is going to be at our side the whole year, so to me they’re the three big things that I’m looking at this year.
Larry Jordan: At the low end you talked about exploding production, what do you mean?
Philip Hodgetts: I have within grabbing distance, five HD cameras. Within the room I could add another two to that, all 4K cameras. None of them would be too big to put into my pocket. Yesterday I carried an entire multi camera live streaming kit in a bag, and that included tripods for the cameras, tripods for lights, battery powered LED lights on very low footprint plant. Using Switcher Studio to do a live stream, the two cameras were old iPhones that are essentially now wifi cameras. Network connected smart cameras. An iPad, and that was the production kit. Everything to do a live stream out to Facebook was there in a very small bag. Most of which was mounts to put up lights and cameras. You combine that with other software options on mobile like LumaFusion from LumaTouch, that’s a very powerful professional NLE on an iOS device. These tools are just exploding, and they’re putting the creativity into the hands of everybody. This has always been Apple’s goal, to put the tools of creativity and make them accessible to everybody, and now we’re seeing this explode. Whether you’re on iOS or Android or other platforms you have the ability to produce high quality video and stories. So it’s really up to you now to tell the story you want to tell, to find those stories rather than have these blockages that we had when we started our careers, where access to quality equipment was expensive and hard to find.
Larry Jordan: Part of this is not only access to low cost production equipment, but also a diversity in delivery platforms. Distribution has also exploded. What’s your thought on that?
Philip Hodgetts: Absolutely. I see that Netflix are planning to do 90 feature films this year with budgets up to 200 million dollars a film. I mean, that’s almost a 25 percent increase in the amount of feature films that are created every year. I see a number of pressures that’s going to happen from this increase in production, one is that it’s going to push good talent, and make good talent much more valuable. But I think it’s going to push people to use tools to assist themselves be more productive and bring the cost of production down.
Larry Jordan: Which gets into your feeling on AI. What are your thoughts there?
Philip Hodgetts: I’ve had a little bit of a change in thinking about AI over the time we’ve been talking about it. I’ve started to see the big potential, like wouldn’t it be great if we could do basic stringouts or automatically tag key words and things? And I see that it’s still being reasonably good goals to achieve, but not something that we’re going to get to quickly, if ever. But what I am seeing is that machine learning is there around us all day every day. Somebody today was on Twitter saying that they had a new way of removing backgrounds from portraits, just using machine learning, that they had just fed in a lot of images, and the machine learned how to take backgrounds out from around fine hairs and the like. The color matching in Adobe Sensei, in Premiere Pro, that’s all AI based, not just a simple algorithm that says “Well if this color is at this level, then we need to adjust it to that level and that color.” Simple color matching has been made more sophisticated. To the degree that it will start to take away the need for some of those colorist jobs who can now devote all their attention to the raw footage they have to process.
Larry Jordan: We had a good conversation about a month ago with Terry Curren from AlphaDogs and Mark Raudonis from Bunim/Murray. The market seems to be splitting into the high end and the low end where the middle ground is disappearing. Is it still possible for us to make money in the middle ground, or is it really just splitting into two groups?
Philip Hodgetts: I think that’s indicative of the way society’s intending to split into two groups, one at the top and one at the lower end. These are great times to be making content, but the sort of business where we saw production technologies and skills as being the thing we sold, I think is the area that’s going to be most at risk because it’s something people feel they don’t need to pay for anymore. The technology’s become a lot cheaper and those skills are taught in school. That’s becoming yet another threat to the mainstream media, because the generation of tweens and young teens and below are just making video for themselves. They’re not waiting for some gatekeeper to let them in and to start getting access. So when those corporate clients see that sort of thing going on around them, they see the kids doing that, they wonder what the value is that they’ve been paying for and that’s where I think those businesses get a little bit stretched in the middle.
Larry Jordan: Philip, for people that want to keep track of your thinking on the web, where can they go?
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, philiphodgetts.com and Philip Hodgetts himself who’s the CEO of Lumberjack System is who we’ve been chatting with. Philip, have yourself a wonderful New Year and I look forward to talking to you soon.
Philip Hodgetts: And to you too Larry. Thank you.
Larry Jordan: Maxim Jago is a film director, screen writer and author who splits his time between film making and speaking as a futurist, especially at events that celebrate creativity. Welcome back Maxim.
Maxim Jago: Hello Larry, it’s nice to be with you.
Larry Jordan: Tonight we’re taking a look back at 2018 and then using that to help figure out what’s coming in 2019. As you look back, what were some of the key highlights for you in 2018?
Maxim Jago: A few things that jump out at me, one thing is that we really are seeing now the distribution landscape changing. So that people genuinely can make a living and get an income from what used to be called social media platforms, but now I think perhaps out to just be called media. We’ve seen this transformation of online distribution platforms like Netflix and Hulu and Amazon Studios, transforming into full blown studios that are operating in the same way that the other studios have for decades. So I think that we’ve completed the migration from traditional distribution mediums to the new wave. New media can no longer be called new media. I think one of the other lessons that I’ve taken away from 2018 is that more pixels definitely does not mean a better user experience, and I think that the companies developing technologies to support audiences are coming around to the importance of the audience experience above the color acuity and the pixel count and that kind of thing. So for example, we’ve seen not an enormous take up of VR headsets where you need more complex technology, more complex configuration, but we’ve seen great take up for standalone VR headsets, that you just turn on and although they have simplified functionality, they’re much easier for people to access. So I think there’s been this shift of thinking towards easier audience experiences.
Larry Jordan: One of the things you mentioned was that distribution has expanded far beyond traditional broadcast and cable into what we used to call social media. But from what I’m hearing from others, the business model has not shifted so that we’re not making the same amount of money with social media outlets as we are with traditional broadcast and cable. The dollars have not kept up which has implications for higher quality or more expensive productions. Would you agree or disagree?
Maxim Jago: I think I would totally agree, and I think what we’re seeing is almost a repeat of, if you look at the early stages of commercial cinema and commercial TV, there was this kind of battle of experiences where people would argue that it’s not as good on TV but others would argue it’s more accessible and how can you make the same money? Ultimately they’re different beasts that have different benefits, different costs. I think that what we’ve seen is a watering down of the distribution landscape which has been very challenging for the smaller operators producing independent content for example, or the smaller distributors.
Maxim Jago: But what I think we’re seeing with the larger studios is really business as usual. If you look at companies like Netflix for example, they really do seem to be operating in a studio model. They won’t take meetings with just anybody, they want introductions and they are already looking very seriously at taking on a ship of theaters so that they can have both an online and a traditional theatrical release. So I think for the majors, it kind of is business as usual. They’re taking command of every output channel possible. But it is less efficient than just saying “We have broadcast TV and we’ll do a license deal and we’ve got cinemas and we own them all, and that’s the end of it.” Now what we’re starting to see is this much more complex process where each different distribution platform requires its own deals. And those are very inefficient legally. If you don’t have an in house legal team, which of course these major studios have, it can take a massive chunk of the potential revenues away.
Maxim Jago: So one of the things that’s very interesting that’s coming up and I may be jumping ahead here, is the implementation of smart contracts to manage payments in productions, particularly independent productions, and there’s some very interesting developments coming there.
Larry Jordan: Let’s take a look forward then. Building on what you saw in 2018, what’s coming in 2019?
Maxim Jago: First of all, Nvidia have shown these examples of artificial faces. I don’t know if you’ve seen any of that? It’s absolutely fascinating because they really are pretty much indistinguishable from natural human faces but they’re not based on anything. They’re procedurally generated and this is both beautiful and terrifying because it puts into question the role of actors in films, that combined with Google’s procedurally generated human speech system, it’s not a speech synthesis system, it’s actually generating speech, means that we’re moving towards virtual actors, which I think is something we’ve spoken about before.
Maxim Jago: So we’re seeing some new technologies coming online. We’re seeing very high quality built in inside out motion tracking VR headsets. Oculus have announced something that’s coming, the Quest headset. I’ve been working with a company, GameFace Labs, producing core.live which is a micro form factor super computer for VR and other gaming experiences. We’re seeing this new generation of technology coming online but all of that to me is just another medium, it’s another way for audiences to experience things. And what it always comes back to, is the story and that’s not changing at all. People need to tell stories, and they need to tell stories that people care about.
Maxim Jago: But what I also see happening is in the business side of production. We’re now looking at the meaningful implementation of cryptocurrencies which, to put as briefly as possible, is just a more efficient way for us to transact money, but what crypto currencies allow us to do is use smart contracts where you can build into the whole process of distribution the payments that are due to participants in the project. So for example, if your music composer is due to get perhaps one and a half percent of your net profits, that can literally come from each individual ticket sale via an automated process with nobody in the middle promising to be honest about what the revenues are, because the whole thing is automated and every transaction is recorded on a block chain, which means that it can be verified and checked and can’t be faked. So we’re starting to see mechanisms coming in that are automating a very honest, what people are referring to as a trustless transaction system, where trust is irrelevant to the transaction because we don’t need trust. We have a mechanism in place that is by design honest. And I think that’s going to be very interesting for collaborative creative productions where people just get together and decide to make something amazing and everybody who participates benefits.
Larry Jordan: Fascinating. For people that want to keep track of what you’re thinking and researching and especially the projects you’re working on, where can they go on the web?
Maxim Jago: I’m easy to find. I’m at maximjago.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word maximjago.com, and Maxim Jago is the voice you’ve been listening to. Maxim, thanks for chatting with us today.
Maxim Jago: Thank you so much for inviting me. It’s always a pleasure.
Larry Jordan: Larry O’Connor is the founder and CEO of Other World Computing, which we all know as OWC. Founded in 1988, OWC is both a developer and a reseller supporting all things Mac for more than 30 years. Hello Larry, welcome back.
Larry O’Connor: Hey, how you doing Larry?
Larry Jordan: Well, aside from a cold I’m doing great. How about yourself?
Larry O’Connor: No complaints at all.
Larry Jordan: That’s always a good way to start the year. This week we’re looking back at the highlights of 2018 and projecting key trends for 2019. But before we do that, congratulations to OWC’s acquisition of Akitio which was announced this morning. Why did you acquire the company?
Larry O’Connor: You know, they’re a good fit for us. They complement us in areas where we have some gaps and we have different technology that accelerates and enhances their product line so for lack of any other good reason, they’re a really good fit for us and there’s plenty of other great reasons that made this something that we really couldn’t pass up. It’s a win for both organizations.
Larry Jordan: What happens to the Akitio team?
Larry O’Connor: They’re now part of the OWC family. So everybody who was part of Akitio is remaining with OWC. So they have now become a part of Team OWC as of just a couple of weeks ago.
Larry Jordan: Congratulations to everybody. As we look back at 2018, from your perspective what were some of the highlights?
Larry O’Connor: We saw bigger hard drives, we saw faster Thunderbolt arrays, more drives NRAs, solid state drives finally started to come down in price. I could go on and on. The big thing that didn’t change of course, the number of ports on these machines and the need for additional ports that connect into them. We did see for the first time 32GB in Apple laptops which is a nice jump forward with Apple’s new MacBook Pro line but still we face the port challenge.
Larry Jordan: That brings up your reactions to the new Mac Mini.
Larry O’Connor: The Mac Mini is kind of a step in the right direction. We unfortunately got the solid state … but you do have some nice ports for expansion on the back. It’s got nice Thunderbolt 3 ports, they’re still fixing a little power issue with those Type-C ports, but the memory’s upgradable. That was a reversal of what they did in 2014 and instead of being limited to only 16GB from the factory, now you can upgrade all the way up to 64 gigabytes and that’s something you can do starting from 8GB, and at your leisure move all the way up. So it’s nice to see Apple bringing back user expandability and upgradeability again. I like the Mac Mini, I think it’s expensive but I do like its long term flexibility and the ability to keep it future proof.
Larry Jordan: I confess I purchased one and I’ve been having a great deal of fun playing with it, so I second your opinion. It may be a bit expensive but it’s a great tool. As you look at hardware looking back at 2018, what do you see driving hardware changes in 2019?
Larry O’Connor: I hope the user gets a chance to drive some of those changes. I hit the Mac Mini real quick and with the ports it’s got you can give that the same horsepower as a MacBook Pro or even an iMac Pro. Now it’s just like connecting a VGA … EGPU card, like a Helios FX, into one of the … ports that you can upgrade the GPU, give it a GPU in this particular case, do the same kind of heavy lifting that an iMac Pro can do. In 2019 I like what Apple did with the Mac Mini last October, and I really hope they continue those thoughts when we get to the next Mac Book Pro, the next iMac. And of course hopefully a Mac Pro refresh to bring back the ability for the user to have some flexibility in where its future goes and gosh, I hope they do something about the keyboard on the Apple laptops. Maybe younger folks don’t mind, but I have a hard time with that. The butterfly one, two, three, I don’t care. Whispers, you’re tapping on like hitting a board compared to the nice keyboards that Apple I would say abandoned with the Retina after 2015.
Larry Jordan: For someone who spends a lot of his time writing, the keyboard is a really important aspect of that to me. We are all keeping our fingers crossed for what Apple develops for the modular Mac Pro. I think that is one of the key driving factors of excitement in the coming year.
Larry O’Connor: I’ve been saying for a long time that the base systems become less and less relevant as we go forward in terms of what’s built into it and to some degree what, even what OS is some degree run on it. People want things to get the job done, as more move to the Cloud, less dependencies on that core system. Apple needs to listen to its user and give the user what they’re asking for. Give the consumer what the consumer needs. Give the professional users a machine that they really can make great use of.
Larry Jordan: What’s been the reaction to the EGPU? Has it been well received?
Larry O’Connor: It’s been fantastically received. It gives new life to systems that otherwise might have been shut out. The new AR and VR technologies and even what … does in terms of its different effects. Knowing that you have a processor that’s great and a big load is put on the GPU and now you can upgrade that GPU but to something that plugs in externally, is really sweet. When you look at the Mac Book Air 2018 that just got introduced about the same time as the Mac Mini, there’s another machine that on its own is fine for a lot of basic work. But you can get back to base, plug in a dock, plug in an EGPU, and now it’s a workstation.
Larry Jordan: What trends in media are you expecting for 2019?
Larry O’Connor : We’re seeing the first 8K broadcast coming up soon in Japan and that of course finds its way back here. 8K sets are coming out so more and more demand on high resolution video capture means more demand for capacity, store the media that’s going to be generated at that high resolution. The nice thing that supports that for the editing and the processing side, is the lower cost per gigabyte on the sellers state drive side. We’re going to see a lot more … SSD, or something for the editing, for the post processing. And just greater demand for hard drive storage to have all those raw files, all the duplicates, the backups of that source.
Larry Jordan: Michael Kammes was seeing a shift from SSD to NVME storage. Are you seeing the same thing?
Larry O’Connor : NVME is just another interface for flash, but when we’re talking SSD the traditional SATA drive, the NVME which is a PCIE direct storage solution, I would absolutely agree with that more and more. It’s definitely going the NVME route, even in our externals. All of our new solutions are now NVME based. We still support the standard systems for USB 3.0 the standard two and a half inch SSD, but everything USB Type-C gen two and everything, Thunderbolt 3 it’s all going NVME. So I guess the easier way to put it out there, there’s going to be more flash solid state flash storage going forward for the heavy lifting versus in the past where budgets kind of constrained that. But yes, data is in general, and we’re talking not just sad interface, solutions for anything where speed is talked about that’s going to become the minority versus NVME, PCIE the flash spotlight.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information about the products that OWC offers, where can they go on the web?
Larry O’Connor : You can visit OWC.com and find everything via OWC digital, find out where to buy, what’s new and what we can do for your computer. So everything’s there now.
Larry Jordan: Larry O’Connor is the founder and CEO of OWC and Larry, thanks for joining us today.
Larry O’Connor: Great way to start the new year off and thank you Larry.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Emery Wells is the co founder and CEO of Frame.io, a video review and collaboration platform used by hundreds of thousands of media professionals and companies. Prior to Frame.io he was an award winning producer and visual effects supervisor. Hello Emery, welcome back.
Emery Wells: Hello Larry, always a pleasure to be here.
Larry Jordan: One of the things that a change in the year does is it gives us a chance to look back and look forward. As you look back on 2018, what were some of the key highlights?
Emery Wells: A couple of key highlights for Frame.io was our launch of workflow extensions for Final Cut Pro and I think that was something that’s going to be important for the industry at large. We were a launch partner with Apple in launching the very first workflow extension. I think ProRes RAW is going to be something that is important. I’m quite proud of the workflow guide that we launched at Frame.io. It’s 100,000 word guide on everything you need to know about workflow from capture to delivery and it was a huge effort on our part and hopefully will be something that is referenced for many years to come.
Larry Jordan: I have not yet read every word of network flow guide, but that which I’ve read is amazing. You guys deserve a huge pat on the back for putting that together. It’s excellent.
Emery Wells: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: What trends and news do you expect for 2019? Let’s flip it around and look ahead.
Emery Wells: For 2019, this next generation of video creator is going to become the most important video creator. I think they’ve been second tier, the traditional filmmaker or professional filmmaking industry that’s been focused on broadcast and feature films and things like that have always been the face of the industry, but I think that’ll start to flip in 2019. Certainly the broadest base of creators are not producing work for those platforms anymore, and it’s a whole new generation of creators that care about different things. They don’t have the baggage of hating Final Cut. They don’t hate Vertical Video. They grew up making video on mobile devices and I think there’s a lot of wide reaching implications for the rest of the industry. I think that group cares less about quality, and I think quality has become almost more of an aesthetic choice. We had to fight really hard to try to make something look halfway decent, halfway professional. I think the technology and the quality has gotten good enough where now it’s become really more of a choice. Of course quality and quest for quality is going to always continue in the background, but how people utilize it is changing. It’s not necessarily what works on the largest distribution channels any more. Social media channels are the largest distribution channel that we have for the content that we’re creating, and the type of content that works well on those channels is just very different than what works well on television or movies.
Larry Jordan: You called these the next generation video content creators. How would you define what those people are?
Emery Wells: They’re certainly younger. I think they’re graduating high school and college now, so they’re a new generation. They’ve grown up with a different set of technologies, as I was saying. They grew up making video on their phones. They grew up making video for social. They have a different set of goals than I think the creators that are producing stuff right now.
Larry Jordan: Ned Soltz last week as we were talking with him, made reference to the same group of a new flavor of content creator. The question that I’ve got is can you make a living at it? You can absolutely create all kinds of video for free, but what does it do for a business model?
Emery Wells: I think that’s a really good question. Certainly the number of people that are making a living off of essentially creating their own brand, that is a growing population of people that are making video to promote their own brand and really their business is their brand. So it’s an important distinction to make. But then there’s still going to be the people that are just producing video for social. There’s always generations in every industry and so naturally a younger generation is going to approach things a little bit differently with a different set of principles, criteria, concerns. I think really the biggest thing is just they embrace the channels for distribution that exist today in a way that I think the older generations and the folks that have been doing this for a longer time, they continue to reject. The idea that any film making today rejects Vertical Video is absurd. The idea that any creator today rejects Final Cut Pro is absurd and they just don’t have the baggage.
Larry Jordan: You’ve talked about the new generation video creator who tends to be a single individual and yet you’ve built your company based on collaboration. Are we getting out of sync between where your company is headed and where these new media creators are going?
Emery Wells: I don’t think it’s that they necessarily don’t work with one another. I think that what we found with Frame.io is that the majority of the people who we sell to today are individuals and small teams. We have large organizations as well that have thousands of people who are producing stuff and that’ll continue to exist. But even the folks that are buying our entry level plans for 19 and 29 dollars a month, they’re still working with people. Even when you’re producing media for social, it’s still a very collaborative art, a very collaborative process. I think that group of people don’t really have necessarily a full blown business with full time employees, but they have a loose collection of characters that they’re pseudo in business with. That they’re usually working with all the time. So even in those one man bands I find that there typically is this loose collection of people that are almost full time, not being paid or employed full time, but are kind of working together on a consistent basis.
Larry Jordan: Some very interesting thoughts. Emery, for people that want to learn more about what you and your company are doing, where can they go on the web?
Emery Wells: They can go to Frame.io.
Larry Jordan: That’s Frame.io not .com. Frame.io and Emery Wells is the co founder and CEO of Frame.io and Emery, thanks for joining us today.
Emery Wells: Thank you Larry.
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Larry Jordan: Paul Babb is the head of worldwide marketing for Maxon as well as a creative artist and designer with more than 20 years experience in 3D animation, visual effects, motion graphics and graphics design. Hello Paul, welcome back.
Paul Babb: Happy New Year Larry.
Larry Jordan: A very Happy New year to you as well. Paul, this seems to be a time of new beginnings for many folks so congratulations to you on your new role with Maxon. What are you doing these days?
Paul Babb: Thank you very much Larry. Well, I’m learning how to focus on markets outside of north and south America these days, where since the complete acquisition of Maxon by Nemetschek and the placement of Dave McGavran from Adobe as our CEO, we’ve been learning how to become a global company and we’re using all the resources around the world and working together. It’s been a very exciting time.
Larry Jordan: I wish you great success and many congratulations on the new position.
Paul Babb: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: Wearing your visual effects hat, what were some of the highlights for the VFX industry in 2018?
Paul Babb: Wow, highlights for the visual effects? Well, I’m really excited about some of the things I’ve been seeing where applications of VR and AR in terms of VFX have been getting closer and closer to some pretty exciting developments where the offerings are way more practical than they’ve been in the past. It seemed like for a few years VR was the buzz word but everybody was playing around, and it seems like in 2018 we start to see the beginnings of some practical applications and make exciting uses of it and I think 2019 will show us even more.
Larry Jordan: As you look at software marketing from last year to this, what trends in marketing are you seeing start to emerge?
Paul Babb: Well, it’s a challenging time for a marketer these days. With the GDPR in Europe, everybody has to be concerned about people’s privacy, and of course we have always been very respectful about how we contact people and giving them the option of opting out and making sure we’re not spamming. I’m very sensitive to it myself, I don’t like it but GDPR is another animal altogether. It puts a lot of restrictions on you as a marketing person and how you can reach people. And because it’s Europe and you can’t sequester people, you can, you can break up the markets but at the same time it’s better probably just to work it all together. But it’s a very challenging time for marketing people to get the word out. So I think our approach over the last 20 years of building community has really paid off because that seems to be where you find people and it’s where people want to be found is in a community with their peers, with other artists. And exchanging ideas, getting inspired, exciting each other and it’s a great validation of what we’ve been doing over the years to a certain point.
Larry Jordan: But it takes and puts all the pressure really on word of mouth and takes the control away from you and puts the control really in the hands of the user?
Paul Babb: Right and I would guess for a lot of corporations they wouldn’t like that. Personally, I love that. What it does is it behooves us to make sure our customers are happy. It puts a little bit of responsibility on us to make sure that our customers are getting serviced properly, and they’re getting their needs taken care of. I’m very comfortable with my customers speaking for us at this point because I feel that we do bend over backwards and try to give them everything we can. We support community as much as we can. We try to provide resources and service as much as we possibly can. I think customers need that. It’s also assurance. Not to single them out, but when Adobe a few years back went subscription, everybody’s concern was that they would be beholding, they would be stuck with this subscription, they don’t know where to go. Adobe’s done a pretty good job of making sure that there’s been value in that subscription, that the updates have been coming out on a regular basis, that new technology has been coming on a regular basis, and I think if you keep people happy, that if your customers are speaking for you, you shouldn’t be worried.
Larry Jordan: So what’s going to be driving the visual effects industry in 2019?
Paul Babb: I truly believe it’s going to be interactive. AR and VR types of application. The smaller shows where the heads of studios or the heads of departments at TV studios or film studios, the smaller events that I have been where I’ve been hearing people speak, they’ve been talking about how to incorporate some of this new technology. The interactive technology. A lot of specifically how to incorporate maybe the game engines into some of the work that they’re doing. I think there’s still a lot of exploration going on but I think we’re starting to see fruit from that exploration. There were some minor inclusions at last year’s Super Bowl in terms of AR and the application of that, and I know that they want to take that even further and I’ve noticed this season of the NFL, there’s been a lot more pushing those boundaries, and I think you’re also seeing that a bit more in the visual effects industry.
Paul Babb: We’ve got to the point now where they can pretty much make a movie about anything that they want to make. Years ago it used to be “Well, we’re not going to be able to pull off Aquaman, because how are you going to do all that water etcetera?” Nowadays, they’re doing it. So I think the next part is how can you get the audience involved? Sort of like what we’re talking about with marketing is how can you get the community involved, and they’ll do your marketing for you. I think the entertainment industry has to find that same avenue. How can you get the audience involved? Because you’re drawing them in to see some of these films but there’s a lot of people not going because “Ah, I can do this at home, I’ve got a big screen TV and I’ve got 4K and I’ve got better surround and I don’t have to hear other people chewing on popcorn.” How can they take that next step in interactivity or involvement in some shape or form?
Larry Jordan: How do you see the role of the creative professional evolving this year?
Paul Babb: It’s a different time. I was listening a little bit to your interview before with Emery, and talking about the smaller houses and a lot of these guys who are not hired guns. The industry is driven by great artists, hired guns who are not necessarily employees, and it’s really interesting because those guys who are, for lack of a better word, the renaissance men of the visual effects industry, the guys that can do everything and can visualize everything, it’s becoming more about those guys and less about the giant pipelines where people are just plunking in colors. I think that is going to be the bigger change, that may be, I hope, we’ll start to get to know those artists even a bit more. I’ve noticed friends who are not in the industry are starting to understand that it’s not so much … or Disney or this big studio or that big studio, but the artists who are making it happen. Like back in the old days, Disney was well known by the nine old men of animation or the seven. I think it’s the nine old men?
Larry Jordan: I think it’s seven, but we’ll pretend it’s nine.
Paul Babb: Seven, thank you. OK either seven or nine was in my head. So the seven old men of animation were known for the work that they did and I’m hoping, and maybe this is just personal wishful thinking, that the individual artists or the teams of artists that accomplish these tasks will get more recognition or will be revered more for the work that’s being turned out.
Larry Jordan: Paul, for people who want more information about Maxon, where can they go on the web?
Paul Babb: They can go to www.maxon.net.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, maxon.net and Paul Babb is the head of worldwide marketing for Maxon and Paul, thanks for joining us and have yourself a very happy New Year.
Paul Babb: You too Larry, thank you.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: You know, I was just thinking of the opening lines from Tale of Two Cities. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. Charles Dickens must have worked in media. The start of a new year is a good time to spend a few minutes taking stock on where we are and where we’re going. As you heard tonight, there’s no shortage of exciting new technology on the horizon. But as Emery Wells said tonight, at the end it all comes down to story. The technology we need to tell compelling stories has never been more accessible or more affordable.
Larry Jordan: Distribution has given each of us access to audiences that we could not even dream of a few years ago. Still, technology and distribution are only two sides of the media triangle. The third is story. That’s where each of us can make a unique contribution because each of us tells stories in different ways. Yes, we are in a challenging business environment, but there is a never ending hunger for great stories, and stories both large and small, are our stock in trade.
Larry Jordan: I wish you and all your stories a very successful 2019.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests this week, Michael Kammes with BeBop Technology, Philip Hodgetts with Lumberjack System, producer director Maxim Jago, Larry O’Connor with Other World Computing, Emery Wells with Frame.io, Paul Babb with Maxon and James DeRuvo with Doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: There’s a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website, at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Here you’ll find thousands of interviews, all online and all available to you today. Remember to sign up for our free weekly show newsletter that comes out every Saturday.
Larry Jordan: Our theme music is composed by Nathan Dugi-Turner with additional music provided by Smartsound.com.
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 2019 by Thalo LLC.