Bernard Weiser, President, EIPMA (Entertainment Industry Professionals Mentoring Alliance)
Paul Isaacs, Director of Product Management and Design, Sound Devices, LLC
Robert Noone, Rental Manager, Location Sound Corp
Durin Gleaves, Product Manager, Audio, Adobe, Inc.
James DeRuvo, Editor-in-Chief, doddleNEWS
Larry Jordan: Tonight on the Buzz, we are looking at mentoring and audio. We start with Bernard Weiser, president of the newly formed Entertainment Industry Professionals Mentoring Alliance. As apprenticeships in the media industry decline, mentors are stepping in to help careers get started as Bernard explains tonight.
Larry Jordan: Next, we shift our attention to audio, hardware, rentals and software. Paul Isaacs is the director of product management and design for Sound Devices. Tonight he shares his thoughts on new trends in audio that are shaping audio recording and wireless microphones.
Larry Jordan: Sometimes you should buy. Other times, you should rent, but how do you choose? Tonight we talk with Robert Noone, rental manager for Location Sound about how to make that choice, plus he shares his views on critical issues with wireless audio technology that will affect many of us before the end of the year.
Larry Jordan: Asking a product manager to talk about new products two months before NAB is not going to generate great answers. Instead, tonight Durin Gleaves, product manager for audio at Adobe shares his observations on key audio trends to watch, the importance of the Dante audio protocol, and how machine learning actually improves audio.
Larry Jordan: All this plus James DeRuvo with our weekly DoddleNEWS update. The Buzz starts now.
Announcer: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking, Authoritative: One show serves a worldwide network of media professionals. Current: Uniting industry experts. Production: Filmmakers. Post-production: And content creators around the planet. Distribution: From the media capital of the world, in Los Angeles, California, the Digital Production Buzz goes live now.
Larry Jordan: Welcome to the Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for the creative content industry, covering media production, post-production and marketing around the world.
Larry Jordan: Hi, my name is Larry Jordan. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I love audio. So that makes me especially interested in tonight’s show where we’re combining two things that I really enjoy. Helping young people launch their careers, and making our projects sound as good as possible.
Larry Jordan: While there haven’t been many breakthroughs in how we record audio for a few years, how we get signals from one place to another is undergoing a revolution. It’s called audio over IP and as you’ll learn tonight, it’s exploding. I first worked with this as part of our NAB coverage last year where we used the Dante protocol to create multi channel audio recordings of all our live shows, using gear that was not directly connected to the mixing console. This experience was so successful that we’re doing it again as part of our NAB coverage this year.
Larry Jordan: While Dante doesn’t help for editing, moving digital audio files via Ethernet works just fine, Dante makes a big difference when things are live. Tonight, we’ll also learn what other audio technology to expect at NAB, including new applications of artificial intelligence for audio.
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: And now it’s time for our weekly DoddleNEWS update with James DeRuvo. Hello James.
James DeRuvo: Happy Oscar week Larry.
Larry Jordan: And a very happy Oscar week to you. Do you have any Oscar news for us?
James DeRuvo: There is some interesting Oscar story though that I find interesting as a camera geek, and that is, being the Oscar, we already know the big winner of the Oscars this year is going to be ARRI and that’s because once again, for like the fifth straight year, almost every Academy award winning nominated movie was shot on an ARRI platform. The ALEXA ARRI models were used on films like ‘Never Look Away’, ‘Roma’, ‘Greenbook’, ‘A Star is Born, Vice’, ‘Black Panther’, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and many others. The most popular lenses though were interesting, it was a tie between using Zeiss and Angenieux. Those were the two most popular lenses that cinematographers chose but the big winner is ARRI, for sure.
Larry Jordan: You know that’s interesting. RED gets all the news but ARRI gets all the shows.
James DeRuvo: Yes, that’s true. RED grabs all the headlines with its bleeding edge 8K technology but it seems that ARRI is still the dominant film making technology amongst award winning cinematographers. RED was largely frozen out again this year. Even Panavision got ahead of RED, grabbing two nominations for ‘Blackklansman’ and ‘The Favorite.’
Larry Jordan: Alright, that’s your lead story. What’s next?
James DeRuvo: Blackmagic Design is teaming up with USC School of Cinematic Arts for a broadcast partnership. This three year strategic team up will give USC use of Blackmagic equipment and software for their Trojan Vision Campus TV station. Blackmagic will provide the URSA broadcast cameras, ATEM 4 M/E broadcast studio 4K switchers, ATEM camera control panels, HyperDeck Studio Pro recorders, the works. And in addition, the students will be editing on DaVinci Resolve 15. And Blackmagic is also tossing in a select collection of URSA Mini Pro Cinema cameras for more cinematic applications.
Larry Jordan: What’s your take on this?
James DeRuvo: Well I think it’s a cagey move on the part of Blackmagic which looks to help train the next generation of broadcasters and filmmakers. As we move into the next era of broadcasting going into 4K and above, Blackmagic aims to be at the forefront and giving student filmmakers use of the URSA Mini Pro for filmmaking will also show them that you can get high performance at a lower price. And when you consider that again, every Oscar season has had a USC grad nominated for best cinematographer since 1973, it’s easy to see why they’re doing this.
Larry Jordan: Alright, well you’ve had two camera stories so far. Can you make it a hat trick?
James DeRuvo: Yes I can. Nikon is adding 12-bit RAW to the Z series full frame mirrorless cameras. The update will provide 12-bit 4K RAW output for external monitor recorders like the Atomos Ninja 5, which relies on the ProRes RAW which isn’t strictly uncompressed RAW, but it’s close. And other models will use uncompressed RAW with the Z series platform. Other features will include an update that includes improved face tracking and eye detection and better auto focus, and the big news, compact flash express support which I’m pretty excited about.
Larry Jordan: From your perspective, what’s the importance of 12-bit RAW?
James DeRuvo: For color correcting, RAW itself is uncompressed, so it gives you all of the information that you can use. Dynamic range, color science, the whole bit, and 12-bit is going to be a lot better for color than an 8-bit or a 10-bit. So I think it’s going to be a great addition to the Z6 and Z7. It shows that Nikon continues to be committed to the filmmaking side of the platform but I think that other killer feature support for CF Express, is really not to be ignored because it enjoys the same basic design as the XQD media cards that the Nikons use, but has faster performance. I think this is going to take the Z series to the next level.
Larry Jordan: Very cool. James what other stories are you working on this week?
James DeRuvo: Other stories we’re following include Atomos has an external monitor for vloggers. We look at whether a boom pole is worth the money, or is it just an expensive broom handle? And we also have ten cameras for under $300, for those looking to take the beginning steps out of mobile filmmaking.
Larry Jordan: James, where can we go on the web to see the stories that you and your team are covering?
James DeRuvo: As always, all these stories can be found at doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo is the editor in chief of doddlenews.com and joins us every week. We’ll see you next Thursday.
James DeRuvo: See you next week.
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: Mentoring is an increasingly hot topic these days as we’ll see at NAB in a couple of months. Bernard Weiser is the president of the newly formed Entertainment Industry Professionals Mentoring Alliance, called EIPMA. Additionally, Bernard is vice president for the Motion Picture Sound Editors organization which is MPSE and the producer of their annual Golden Reel Awards which does not yet have an acronym. Hello Bernard, welcome.
Bernard Weiser: Thank you, glad to be here.
Larry Jordan: What first got you interested in mentoring?
Bernard Weiser: During a few years I was asked to be a guest lecturer at a class in fact at UCLA. That started my interest towards teaching and students and what happened is a transformation that is continuing with me, seeing the creativity in these up and coming students that is going to come into our industry. That’s what really led to me actually now teaching and on faculty teaching one course one quarter each year at UCLA with graduate students.
Larry Jordan: Why did MPSE decide to get involved with mentoring?
Bernard Weiser: That’s a good question. A little over a year ago Paul Rodriguez who is a long time MPSE board member passed away. He had a great effect, he was certainly involved with our awards show, but with mentoring in fact and students. So the MPSE wanted to do something to honor him and mentoring was so much a part of him we referred to him as our ambassador of sound because he was at NAB every year, he was constantly talking about post production sound, and sound editors, and as many people know, sound editors seem to be a forgotten lot in the storytelling and creative process of cinema and television.
Bernard Weiser: So he was our ambassador, we wanted to do something special for him and we announced a year ago that we were going to start a mentoring program in his honor. As that program started being talked about by our president, Tommy McCarthy, a lot of other organizations in the entertainment industry started hearing what we were talking about and said they want in. It started growing very quickly, and in fact it got so big that it went beyond just honoring Paul, but it started the EIPMA, Entertainment Industry Professionals Mentoring Alliance.
Bernard Weiser: One of the things with the formation of it, is a common problem that many of us in the industry saw but didn’t know how to deal with was with the lessening of apprenticeship programs through unions and such. A lot of people coming into the industry were really out of sorts as to how to proceed professionally, so it was very slow learning for them. The change from being a student or being an independent and then working within the professional system, especially the studio system. So the common problem that we saw was this gap of knowledge between the academics and the students, and the professional world. There was a need for that, and this solidified as to something that we could do to help fill that gap. EIPMA’s very conscious of that fact.
Bernard Weiser: Nobody teaches that. Nobody even discusses that, and that’s important information for anybody coming into this industry. So we become a conduit.
Larry Jordan: Does this alliance simply focus on sound editing? Is it an audio organization, or do you have a broader reach than that?
Bernard Weiser: We have ten industry organizations now, American Cinema Editors, Motion Picture Sound Editors, Cinema Audio Society, the Recording Academy, who, as you know they do the Grammies, SMPTE and Audio Engineering Society which is engineering, Hollywood Professionals Association Visual Effects Society, Avid and SoundGirls. We’re hoping to include cinematographers and writers very soon. Right now we’re very heavy on this post production side, just because those of us who formed this organization are in post, but we’re hoping to become much bigger and include all crafts in the entertainment industry.
Larry Jordan: Are you focusing on students, or is your focus people who work in the industry who could use advice?
Bernard Weiser: Right now we’re primarily focusing on students, anywhere from high school, college and post graduate students. But we don’t want to leave out what we call pre industry individuals who have a great interest in entering into our industry, such as veterans who may be coming out of the military. We want to definitely include them also. But you’re absolutely right. People who maybe are looking to change their endeavors, professionals that want to tap into their creative side more and want entry into these crafts, absolutely they are welcome also.
Larry Jordan: Are you accepting mentees now, and if so, how does the system work?
Bernard Weiser: Very soon. At the moment now we’re going to start our outreach because we are launching the organization in about two months as you noted in your intro. So we’re going to begin in probably just a week or so a very strong outreach to local universities, colleges, high schools and other academic organizations. We’ll be inviting educators and students to an open house at Sony Pictures Studios, either the last week of April or the first week of May. Actually, it’ll probably be on a Saturday.
Bernard Weiser: So how we’ll work is interested schools and educators and individuals are asked to contact us either through our website, which should go live shortly also, or through our reach out they can contact us and we would start with that organization or school with a panel for Q&A’s, with selected top level industry professionals which will begin our role as a conduit of information for the students, and these pre industry individuals.
From there we can set up group mentoring and on a higher level of college and post graduates, we will do one on one mentoring which would include even shadowing for a few days in the craft that they choose.
Larry Jordan: It’s one thing to hook a student’s attention. How are you going to find mentors?
Bernard Weiser: Ah, the mentors. In our outreach, being that all our organizations are top level professionals already, all the members, we’re going out with our colleagues and talking about EIPMA and it is amazing how many top level people are interested in becoming a mentor. They will go to our website, they will sign up on the website, they will be vetted to make sure that everybody knows that we were watching after that side of things too, and that’s how we will connect them to the mentees.
Larry Jordan: One of the critical issues inside Hollywood, in fact media in general, is diversity. How are you tackling that?
Bernard Weiser: I’m glad you asked. As a new organization we see the pluses of diversity. It’s very different. Right now diversity is such a hot topic and a lot of it is to fix problems that we already have in our industry, and that absolutely is very important. But here with this organization, we’re looking towards the future. These are our future rising stars in our industry so diversity is a little bit different. As a new organization, we see all the pluses that diversity has to offer and when you mix talent from different racial ethnic and social backgrounds, and this includes the veterans as I mentioned before, people who are bringing so much life experiences with them, new stories, new creative ideas grow in all of our crafts that make up our industry.
Bernard Weiser: I don’t know about you, but this really excites me. Everybody I talk to, I watch their eyes get bigger. The other night I was talking with somebody from the Academy of Motion Pictures, they’re excited and want to know more about what we’re doing. It’s the future, and it’s really exciting.
Larry Jordan: For people that want to learn more or get on a mailing list to be kept informed as to what you’re doing, where can they go on the web?
Bernard Weiser: Well we will have EIPMA.org, it is not live yet. I would expect from two to three weeks from now the website will be up and that is the place to look for information and contacts and the entry into what we are doing.
Larry Jordan: The website is not yet operational but it will be within the next two or three weeks. The website is EIPMA.org and Bernard Weiser is the president of the newly formed Entertainment Industry Professionals Mentoring Alliance. Bernard, thanks for joining us today.
Bernard Weiser: Great, thank you.
Larry Jordan: Paul Isaacs is the director of production management and design for Sound Devices. He’s responsible for the development and evolution of products for both sound devices and video devices. His background also includes work as an engineer, a product developer and a musician. Hello Paul. Welcome back.
Paul Isaacs: Hi there Larry, how are you doing?
Larry Jordan: I’m doing great, and I’m looking forward to our conversation because audio is one of my favorite subjects. But before we jump into it, let’s set the scene. How would you describe Sound Devices?
Paul Isaacs: We’re a company that has been around for over 20 years and we specialize in producing mixers, recorders and wireless products for the film and TV industry and broadcast industry. We also touch on products for the musician too.
Larry Jordan: Tonight, we’re focusing on audio and with NAB coming up, I know you can’t talk about new products but what are some of the audio trends that we are likely to hear about as we go to the show?
Paul Isaacs: A couple of things that stand out for me, I still think that there’s a lot of growth in audio over IP. The technology started many years ago, but it’s in the last I would say three, or four, five years where we’ve really seen a rapid uptake of audio, and actually video, over IP as well. We’re particularly interested in the Dante protocol which is by far the world’s leading audio over IP protocol and I think that’s really taken off because you don’t have to be an IT expert to set up a Dante network. It uses like an auto discovery mechanism which makes it easy for devices to discover one another. By virtue of that fact, it’s very easy to connect multiple channels over network very easily. Dante is really supported by most of the leading audio manufacturers now, Focus Right, Yamaha, us, many others. So it’s interconnect between different manufacturers, Dante makes that digital audio interconnect really easy.
Paul Isaacs: The fact that it supports hundreds of channels in all directions make it super simple. So I think we’re going to see more growth there, and more product which is going to jump onto that audio over IP bandwagon without a doubt. You know, audio over IP has actually been standardized in the last few years too with a protocol called AES67 which is really a wrapper that works across multiple different network formats, whether it’s Dante or Ravenna or others, so that is also going to help the interconnect between different network protocols. Although my own personal opinion is that 90 percent of manufacturers will be supporting Dante anyway, so I’m not sure whether AES67 is going to offer much of an advantage. But we’ll see.
Larry Jordan: Well let me make sure I’ve got this clear. Audio IP is the ability for us to digitize audio and send it across the network. Dante is an implementation of how that process works, is that a correct statement?
Paul Isaacs: That’s a correct statement.
Larry Jordan: And there are multiple implementations, but Dante is the market leader?
Paul Isaacs: Exactly. It’s really low latency, you can have sample rates up to 96kHz, bit depth of 24-bit and you can literally have hundreds of channels existing on a network, going in any combination between any device on that network, and you can have hundreds of devices on a network. So imagine your Dante box, you hook it up to Dante network with 100 other devices on there, and then you could literally pull off any channel from any one of those devices, and with a very simple app on your computer. It’s actually a free app that Ordinate, who are the manufacturer behind Dante, that produce an app called Dante Controller which is really just a giant matrix routing software system. It will identify every device and you can route any input to any output from any device. It’s super simple. Obviously because it’s all implemented over Cat 5 and Cat 6 network cables, it makes it very cheap, reliable and cost effective to set up a digital audio network.
Larry Jordan: Let’s shift gears. There’s another term that I’m hearing more about which is digital wireless audio. What’s the advantage of digital wireless versus the traditional wireless we’ve been working with?
Paul Isaacs: I don’t know if you know Larry, I’m sure you do, you’ve heard that we’re really seeing a squeeze on the wireless RF spectrum? There’s only a limited amount of usable space in the RF spectrum. Traditionally the most commonly used part of the RF spectrum is the UHF band which runs from about 400MHz up to about seven or 800MHz. In the last few years, the RF spectrum has been going through a process of auctioning off as cell phone companies and TV companies try and buy and reserve some of that RF space for their purposes. What this has done is shrunken the amount of RF spectrum available to film and TV and broadcast productions.
Paul Isaacs: With that shrinking down, it’s become like a real challenge for users of traditional analog FM wireless microphones to find space to run their wireless transmission. Now think of a typical application, say a theater where they have maybe 20 or 30 actors on stage. All of whom need their own wireless lapel mic and transmitter on a separate frequency. If they’ve got very little space to work in, then the problems of interference between those wireless microphones and other signals in the environment becomes a real problem.
Paul Isaacs: So what digital wireless has done is enabled more wireless channels to be squeezed into a smaller amount of megahertz or bandwidth should we say. Without losing any quality and still minimizing the chance of interference between channels of wireless which is an absolute no no, obviously. It can cause glitching and audio artifacts and reduced range on wireless systems. This is without doubt a growing sector, you know many of the leading wireless manufacturers are bringing out products, and have been for the last few years, and that’s only going to grow. Wireless is such an important part of every part of the production industry.
Paul Isaacs: So you have the likes of Shure who have their systems, Sennheiser digital systems. We have our own system as well which we released last year. Sound Devices bought a company called Audio Limited which is a highly regarded wireless manufacturer. We released our first product after buying that company, we developed our own digital wireless system which is right on the cutting edge of what’s possible. We can fit up to 20 channels in an 8MHz space which is very high density with full 20 to 20kHz audio bandwidth and very low latency. Obviously latency’s a big issue as far as wireless is concerned as well. There’s a lot of development going on in this sector, and we’re very much a part of that and it’s an exciting area.
Larry Jordan: Sound Devices makes gear for the professional market, and really high quality gear. But recently a university came to me for recommendations on audio gear for student use. What does Sound Devices have that’s priced for education yet still provides high quality?
Paul Isaacs: That’s a really good question and we have a product range called the Mix Pre Series and this was really our first step into a more budget priced market, and obviously education’s very sensitive in that field. Now the challenge was for us, how can we bring the Sound Device’s known characteristics of really superb quality audio and rugged build to this education and more budget priced markets? That’s what the Mix Pre Series was.
Paul Isaacs: So we were able to do that with some very clever engineering, bring out some multi channel recorder mixers, and these are very solid, die cast aluminum chassis devices that can stand up to being dropped and abused and we all know that students aren’t necessarily the most careful with these types of products. So these products are very solid. But also they have really excellent quality mic pre amps and allow the education and the students to really understand how to get great quality with great gain staging. There’s also the feature set which maybe slightly watered down compared to our high end professional recorders and mixers, but they still provide an introduction to all those types of features that you would need if you were to embark on a professional career. Things like Timecode, for instance making a mix recording separate ISOs, entering metadata. All these things have been included in a more simplified way to make it more accessible to newcomers into this industry.
Larry Jordan: Paul, I could talk to you about audio for hours but we need to wrap this up. Where can people go on the web to learn more about the products that Sound Devices has available?
Paul Isaacs: Our web page is www.sounddevices.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, sounddevices.com and Paul Isaacs is the director of product management and design for Sound Devices. Paul thanks for joining us today.
Paul Isaacs: Yes, thanks Larry.
Larry Jordan: Robert Noone joined Location Sound Corporation in 1989. He became the rental manager in 1996. His role is the logistics and inventory of all of their rental gear with the goal of keeping their equipment fresh and current. Hello Robert, welcome back.
Robert Noone: Hi, how’s it going?
Larry Jordan: I always enjoy talking with you, and I’m glad that you came back because this week we’re talking about audio. Before we start though, how would you describe Location Sound?
Robert Noone: Oh we’ve been in business for over 40 years. We service the production sound needs of our industry and we carry sales, rental and service here so we’re a one stop shop for sound people and we deal with production mixers and people who gather sounds for news, broadcast, that part of the industry.
Larry Jordan: Well there’s lots of rental houses out there. Why should someone consider working with Location Sound?
Robert Noone: Just our experience, friendly nature and the ease of renting from us.
Larry Jordan: We just heard a conversation with Paul Isaacs from Sound Devices about trends that he sees in audio technology that’ll affect the new gear coming out at NAB. From your perspective, having to keep your gear current, what audio technologies are you seeing that’s starting to drive rentals?
Robert Noone: This year there’s going to be more changes in the RF market than pretty much anything else. The recorders have been pretty standardized for a while, they’re linear and stuff like that. They record on flash cards and that type of medium. But what we’re starting to see now is the FCC has made some rules that’s going to impact the wireless market. First of all they sold off a whole lot of RF spectrum to T-Mobile. So anything above I think it was 618 is going to be moved to T-Mobile and they bought them in the auctions and stuff like that. So now we’re going to be in the smaller diameter from 470 to around 618 I think is where the cut off is. They’re going to be compressed into that smaller spectrum and RF demands are not going down, they’re going up, so these rule changes are going to affect the technology and how we do wireless mics and antenna placements and lowering the power.
Robert Noone: Before, everybody used to put more power to put more signal strength out, now it might behoove people to actually compress the audio, put less power out, and consider putting 100 milliwatts transmitters out, you want to put them on 25 or 50 milliwatts, and use antenna placements so you’re not running into all the RF interference that’s out there now. Competing against people that are working on a stage next to you and stuff, so putting less RF power out, might help all those situations. That’s what people have to change. Before it was more power, cover more area, saturate the grounds better. But with the compression and stuff like that, it might be less power, more antennas to help it out.
Robert Noone: The other thing that they did is FCC changed the deviation rule for companies like Lectrosonics which was used in a deviation value of 75. It’s now gone to 50 so you have to make sure your transmitters match up to your receivers and if you buy newer transmitters, they might not work into your old receivers unless you have the firmware updates and stuff like that. So those things are going to cause a lot of problems because you have people that usually just keep adding on to their fleet and wireless and now if they add a new transmitter, it might not work with their backwards compatible is good, unless you have all the software updates.
Robert Noone: And then the rental houses, how that’s going to affect us, is we rent a lot of pieces and if somebody just needs a transmitter to cover a boom pole or something like that, it’s a special thing that they’re doing or a smaller transmitter, now we have to be aware that either we got to rent them the older stuff and hold onto that longer than we usually do, and not go into the new stuff as much. Or when we rent the new stuff, rent it with a matching receiver from our side, so you know you’re not going to have incompatibility.
Robert Noone: That’s going to make it very confusing, and it’s going to make it tough for a while and for people to understand what those changes are going to be.
Larry Jordan: For people that already own analog wireless gear, can Location Sound help us figure out if our gear is compatible?
Robert Noone: Yes. It’s more software updates, and the right software updates. It’s mostly going to affect the Lectrosonics fan which is pretty much an industry standard for us. But they’re the ones that had the 7D deviation and now the FCC’s rule changes made 50 which is a European standard, so most of the stuff like Sennheiser and stuff were already on the 50 deviation. So the biggest people it’s going to impact is mostly the Lectrosonics community, which is probably 80 percent of the wireless that are in production sound.
Larry Jordan: One of the things you mentioned at the beginning is that Location Sound has both sales and rental. How do we decide or what criteria should we use in deciding, whether to rent or buy our audio gear?
Robert Noone: If you think you’re only going to use it a couple of times a year, less than let’s say six, then you probably should rent. If you believe you’re going to use it six or more times a year, then you probably should add it into your fleet. Also if you’re looking to expand your package, and you’re not sure which way you go, I would recommend renting the first couple of times just to get a feel of what you want to do before you put out that outlay of capital. A lot of times what we do is if you rent from us and then buy from us, we give you discount on the previous rental. The biggest thing you have to decide is how often you’re going to use it. If you’re not using it too often, I don’t think the capital outlay is best. The more you use it the more you want to buy it. The less you use it, the less you want to buy it.
Larry Jordan: I really want to reinforce that because a few years ago, I needed to buy a collection of Lavalier mics for my studio. And one of the smartest things I did was rent about ten different mics from Location Sound. Then test them to see which ones sounded the best in my studio. What I learned in talking with your team at the time I was renting all that gear is that audio is foreign territory for a lot of video producers. So what help does Location Sound provide in making sure that we’re getting the right gear for our project?
Robert Noone: You know, when you come in and you explain what you’re doing and stuff like that, we’re going to design packages that fit your needs and cover what you’ve told us. The audio quality and stuff like that is also based on budget, so we need to know what budget range you’re looking in so we can decide if it’s better for you to buy or rent mostly, and what you can afford with the budget you have. If you have only a couple of hundred dollars, sometimes it’s better just put wireless going in the cameras. Preferably we would say, it’s always better to have it going into a recorder, you record it on the recorder and maybe send the signal to camera to have a back up track. But everything is dependent on the budget. So deciding the budget and what ways they’re going, if you’re buying or if you’re going to rent, the decision that we help you decide. If it’s over the weekend and stuff of course you’re going to rent. But then how much is in the budget to accomplish what you want to do and we try to give you the best products to solve your problem, and get what you want done accomplished based on the budget.
Robert Noone: Mics and stuff like that, a lot of that is preference per person’s ears. That is something we can give you the different mics that you can listen to them and you can decide which way you want to go on that. That’s more preference. Sometimes talent requires certain mics based on their voice and stuff. So there’s a lot of things that are more opinionated and the best thing we can do is give you a wide selection. But you know what’s more the industry standards, show you what the industry standard is and show you the comparable mics in that field and decide what your preference is. Some people like an open mike, some people like a bright mic, some people like it full sounding. So there’s different needs and requirements for the person and that is on an individual basis.
Larry Jordan: One last question before I let you go. For producers who haven’t worked with an audio rental house before, what questions should they ask the people they are renting from before they make a decision to rent?
Robert Noone: That pertains more to companies procedures. Some companies have very strict procedures. They need insurance, they do credit card holds on the equipment. One thing good about us is we just make you fill out the credit card authorization form and we only charge you for the rental. We assume that the card you gave us is the card we’re going to run, and if it goes through then you have a good credit card. So we don’t do a thousand dollar hold or 500 which ties up your credit line. So I would say that’s a big thing that I know a lot of people are happy that we don’t do that, and it makes it easier to process an order and stuff. Ease of operation, willing to work with people, discounts for time. Those are the things that they should be looking for. All the rental houses are very similar in price but the longer you go out on a rental the larger the discounts get and do they carry the equipment you’re looking for?
Larry Jordan: For people that want to learn more about the services and products that Location Sound provides, where can they go on the web?
Robert Noone: Go to www.locationsound.com and that’ll pull up our website and we’ll go from there.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, locationsound.com. Robert Noone is the rental manager for Location Sound, and Robert, thanks for joining us today.
Robert Noone: OK, you have a good day too Larry.
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Larry Jordan: Durin Gleaves joined the Adobe audition team in 2004. Now as product manager for audio at Adobe, he oversees audio features and workflows across several creative cloud applications, and services. Hello Durin, welcome back.
Durin Gleaves: Thanks Larry, nice to be here.
Larry Jordan: Durin, tonight we’ve heard from Sound Devices who makes hardware, and Location Sound who rents hardware, but without software all this hardware is incomplete. That brings us to Adobe. How would you define your role for audio at Adobe?
Durin Gleaves: Well my job is to effectively talk to people who are creating audio content, keep an eye out for trends, for changes in how people start to work and the way that they work, and figure out how to convert those into features in workflows and software that can have the biggest impact over the largest number of users.
Larry Jordan: Well you used a word that I love to hear, which is trends. While I don’t expect you to tell us about Adobe’s coming upgrades, much. Let’s take a look at the near future. What audio trends are you expecting to emerge at NAB? What’s caught your eye?
Durin Gleaves: I’m really happy that it looks like the podcasting pavilion is going to be bigger than it’s ever been before. I’m a huge podcasting fan, I’ve been a fan for a long time now so it’s really good to see how much it’s grown, how largely it’s been adopted, and how people are using it not just to promote their stories and their brands, but even as springboards to larger platforms.
Durin Gleaves: I’m also really excited about the growth in the voice based experiences. Things like branded experiences and entertainment for Alexa and Google devices. Those are just getting better than they have in the past and people are starting to do really interesting and innovative things on them. Beyond that, I’m really excited to see what’s new in artificial intelligence and machine learning with regards to sound and audio process.
Larry Jordan: I want to come back to artificial intelligence and audio in just a minute, but what makes podcasting so significant to you?
Durin Gleaves: I don’t think it’s anything revolutionary to listeners, just democratizes the ability for people to share their voice. Whether that’s telling stories that are personal, whether it’s talking about historical or current news and political events, it’s just a fascinating way for people to get out there and get directly to the people that they want to talk to.
Larry Jordan: Earlier in the show we heard both Paul Isaacs and Robert Noone talk about audio over IP and more specifically a protocol within that called Dante. From a software point of view does Audition support Dante and what benefits from your perspective does Dante provide compared to traditional audio cabling?
Durin Gleaves: Yes, Dante has software that emulates audio interfaces so it’s a virtual audio device that Audition, Premiere, other audio applications can access and as far as the application knows, it thinks it’s just another piece of hardware in the chain. But the software can communicate via these protocols with all of the different hardware options that are out there. Dante’s one of several protocols, I think it’s the most popular right now although it is a little propriety but it’s effective because, back in the day if we wanted to do a remote voiceover recording, you had to go to a studio that had an ISPN connection and that’s expensive, and kind of a pain to go out and use that. It wasn’t necessarily that good.
Durin Gleaves: What audio over IP really lets us do is send uncompressed clean crystal clear sound, and multiple channels of it, over network cable. So it gets rid of those huge amounts of twisted snakes that get all messed up behind your desk and you have to reroute through walls and ceiling tiles, and it puts them into a single fiber optic or network cable that you plug in and it offers digital switching, digital patching. It’s so much more flexible and so much easier than it used to be.
Larry Jordan: So from an operational point of view, if we were using Dante with Audition, it’s just going to show up as though it was a hardware device even though it isn’t really hardware, it’s pretending to be hardware and we just use it the same as we would any other device?
Durin Gleaves: Yes, it would certainly put audio hardware inside those settings, and that’s maybe now a kind of legacy term. It really should just be audio interface, whether that’s a physical piece of hardware on the desk or inside the computer system, or a virtual application running that just does the exact same thing but over the network. It’s really kind of changed how that is presented to users into studios.
Larry Jordan: Well the cool thing that I discovered about Dante as I was doing some homework for this segment, is that the machine that’s originating the Dante and the machine that’s receiving the Dante, don’t even have to be in the same state. They could be wildly different because it just uses the web for sending the signals, which just totally redefines the concept of remote.
Durin Gleaves: Yes, it’s fantastic. As long as the bandwidth is there, then it’s amazing how much discrete audio channels you can send over those protocols
Larry Jordan: Another thing that you were interested in is machine learning and how that relates to audio. How does machine learning relate to audio?
Durin Gleaves: There’s so many possibilities. I can tell you what Adobe has done, in our applications so far. I’ll start with that. One of the first AI and machine learning based features that we did here at Adobe what we call Adobe Sensei, it’s a brand for our AI and machine learning technology, was remix in Audition which you can load any song. It didn’t have to be specially prepared, any piece of recorded music, and it would analyze it and it would be able to make remixes, whether they’re shorter, or longer, just by dragging the edge of the clip, and they were musically coherent, they could track a lot of different characteristics of that song, harmonies, staves, rhythm etcetera. It’s just an amazing little tool that can save somebody so much time when they have a piece of music that’s a finite length and they need to very quickly get remixed to satisfy different duration projects.
Durin Gleaves: Beyond that, we’ve done some work around auto ducking which is, we’re all familiar with either key framing a bunch of volume key frames in, so that the music comes down when somebody’s talking and then it comes back up when they stop, or what’s called riding the fader, when you record the automation and you just sit there and move the volume knob up and down. Those are great but they’re very manual, you have to do them in real time or really slower, and if you start to make changes to your timeline you got to make same changes to the automation as well.
Durin Gleaves: So we use machine learning to actually look at clips that were tagged as dialog, look at the content within those clips, so it’s not just an in and out point, but the actual signal inside, the emphasis and the dynamic range of those clips and adjust and draw those key frames in for you. So it’s not just a black box where it just turns it all up and down automatically and you don’t have any control. It does the busy work of clicking on all those little key frames and tracking them when you move a clip around. You can still go in and manually make changes if you want to add a different effect or make some minor adjustments based on the content. But maybe in some cases the machine learning isn’t quite intelligent enough to know what you were thinking, or what you wanted there. So in some ways it just saves a lot of time.
Larry Jordan: Let me interrupt for just a second. You’ve got an audio clip, there’s volume in the audio clip. What’s the machine learning part? There’s either volume or there isn’t. There’s either the fade up or the fade down. What’s the training and this whole mystique of training a computer to do something? I’m very confused about that.
Durin Gleaves: Well in the case of auto ducking, it’s less about understanding what is in the content, and more about reducing the busy work so you get to focus on the creative part. You don’t have to spend an hour dropping in key frames and bringing them down and adjusting them just right over the course of a few minutes of a timeline. But with other features, you know, we just recently released some new effects around … reverbs that are also machine learning based. It’s really ways of having an algorithm that finds patterns in huge data sets and being able to change its behavior over time in response to those.
Larry Jordan: But what is the machine learning?
Durin Gleaves: It depends. There’s a couple of types of machine learning. On a big scale there’s what’s called supervised and unsupervised machine learning, and supervised is where we feed an algorithm a bunch of information that we already know the answer to. You could think of it as a math class. Teacher gives an assignment, there’s a bunch of problems, and teacher knows the answers and you’re graded on how accurately you get the correct answers. Whereas unsupervised is more like an art class. Here’s a bunch of art supplies, create something and learn how they work yourself, and then you come back and show me what you’ve done and we can guide you, guide the AI or in this case the art student into being able to create better and find more things to do with those supplies.
Larry Jordan: Hm. Clearly I’m going to have to do some more homework to understand it, but it just seems like magic to me. Durin, there’s nobody else listening right now, so I just thought maybe you could give us a clue what Adobe’s going to be announcing at NAB? Your secret is safe with me.
Durin Gleaves: Oh sure, I’ll just run down the list right now. No, I’m kidding, I can’t do that. We have lots of marketing and PR folks and they’d be very upset if I broke the embargo and let things out early. I’ll tell you what I’ve said before around a lot of what we’re doing. We’re committed to continuing to improve performance and quality of all our applications across the board and we see that as a feature unto itself. With regards to say Audition specifically or working between Audition and Premiere, we’re committed to trying to bridge that gap so between NLE and the DAW, the video editor and the audio editor, and we’re working towards this long term vision of getting rid of this idea of interchange, that lie we tell around picture lock, “Here’s the project, we’re done. Oh no, we made this change” and so it’s a lot of extra effort on the part of the audio producers and everybody else involved. So we want to get rid of that idea and just have a project where Premiere is the best video editor for that project and Audition is the best audio environment for that project, but the project exists and is shared, and everybody gets to work together and see those changes in real time. So you know, it’s a long road I think to get to that vision, but I think it’s going to be worth it when we get there.
Larry Jordan: Well it’s like waiting for Christmas. We have a few more weeks to go before we can learn the secret of what’s coming new this spring. For people that want to learn more about Adobe and its creative cloud applications, where can they go on the web?
Durin Gleaves: The best place is adobe.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word in case you’ve been living under a rock, adobe.com and Durin Gleaves is the product manager for audio at Adobe, and Durin, thanks for joining us, it is always fun to visit with you.
Durin Gleaves: It’s my pleasure, thank you so much Larry.
Larry Jordan: Take care, have a great evening. Bye bye.
Durin Gleaves: You too.
Larry Jordan: You know, I was just thinking, I attended a seminar this morning at USC that was talking about the fourth industrial revolution. The first was the invention of steam power. The second was the introduction of the assembly line, and mass production. The third was the advent of technology and the fourth is the extension of technology into artificial intelligence, smart machines and the interconnected internet of things.
Larry Jordan: We’re seeing this in our daily lives with Siri and Alexa smart speakers, online doorbells and refrigerators and facial recognition in our photos. As the speaker this morning made clear, we really don’t have a clue how this will play out in society or in its impact on jobs. We’ve talked in the past on the Buzz of the impact of AI extending into the editorial process. We learned more about it tonight as it becomes easier than ever to route audio from anywhere to anywhere using just an Ethernet connection or how machine learning allows us to do amazing things with audio, from removing noise to separating vocals from the backing music, in a mixed audio clip. And I’m sure we’ll see a lot more of this technological magic at NAB in just a few weeks.
Larry Jordan: For some, these are exciting times. For others, these could foreshadow deep changes in society to come. But what this morning’s talk made clear is that we can’t stop change. Instead, we have to learn how to roll with it, and incorporate it into our own lives as Alvin Toffler said, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” We whose lives are built on technology, need to memorize this and put it into action because otherwise if we’re unable to forget what we learned and learn something new, we’ll become overwhelmed.
Larry Jordan: As Mr Toffler said, “Change is the process by which the future invades our lives.”
Change is inevitable, but in a few weeks at NAB we’ll get the clearest signpost yet of where all this change is taking us. Just something I’m thinking about.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests this week, Bernard Weiser with EIPMA, Paul Isaacs with Sound Devices, Robert Noone with Location Sound, Durin Gleaves with Adobe, 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.