Ted “Evil Ted” Smith, Maker, The Evil Channel
Mike Nuget, Colorist & Finishing Editor, Website
Roger Mabon, Co-founder/CEO, MLogic
Michael Kammes, Director of Business Development, BeBop Technology/Creator, 5 THINGS series
James DeRuvo, Editor-in-Chief, doddleNEWS
Larry Jordan: Tonight on the Buzz, we cover a range of topics from cosplay to color correction, to archiving.
Larry Jordan: We start with Ted Smith. He used to create props for Hollywood, now he creates props and costumes for cosplay. Tonight, he shares his thoughts on the burgeoning field of cosplay, what it is, and what fascinates him about it.
Larry Jordan: Mike Nuget is a freelance colorist and finishing editor in New York City. Tonight, he explains what he does and why he prefers to handle his color work in Baselight from FilmLight.
Larry Jordan: Roger Mabon is the CEO and founder of mLogic. They design and market innovative peripheral products for desktop and portable computers. Roger is passionate about safely storing and archiving media and other assets, and tonight explains the benefits of LTO tape technology.
Larry Jordan: Michael Kammes, the director of business development for BeBop Technology joins us to showcase new ideas that we can use to get our work done faster and better, as well as options for handling large frame size media.
Larry Jordan: Plus, James DeRuvo is back and has our weekly doddleNEWS update. The Buzz starts now.
Announcer: Since the dawn of digital film making, 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. Most of the time we try to structure our shows so that they have a theme, or at least a common subject for our guests to talk about. However, every so often, we have a collection of really cool guests that just don’t easily fit into a single themed show, like tonight. We’ve got such a range. We’re covering cosplay, color grading, archiving, and workflow. I’m looking forward to the conversations.
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, welcome back.
James DeRuvo: I’m back from assignment, and ready for the latest Larry. Let’s do it.
Larry Jordan: Well what’s our first story?
James DeRuvo: Canon is predicting doom and gloom for the DSLR market. Executives are expecting a 50 percent market plunge in DSLR sales before it bottoms out, and after that, they figure that they’re going to be selling mostly prosumer and commercial cameras to the tune of five to six million a year after that. This is prompting them to shift their focus to industrial, government surveillance, and medical applications for the majority of their camera development.
Larry Jordan: Five million cameras is still a lot of cameras. Is the market abandoning DSLR, or is Canon abandoning the market?
James DeRuvo: I think the market is really abandoning DSLRs. If you look at the rental figures from the last two or three years, mirrorless has been the king and for the first time last year, mirrorless cameras outsold DSLR cameras, and Canon has dropped about ten million cameras per year since 2010. So I think the market is just moving on from DSLRs, although Canon says they’re not going to abandon DSLR users at all. It looks like it’s going to become more of a niche market which could be a good thing, because if it’s a niche market, that may make Canon more willing to try new things in development, so we’ll see. But we’re talking Canon here so you know, who knows?
Larry Jordan: Canon’s our first story, what’s number two?
James DeRuvo: Well RED and Animus have signed an agreement to license REDCODE RAW for the Atomos line of external monitor recorders. This settles a long term dispute where RED claimed Atomos was using parts of their IP to address RAW recording in Atomos external monitor recorders. The deal will give Atomos the blessing to use REDCODE RAW as a recording option for up to 8K in resolution, so long as the RED camera brain handles all the processing, and this may lead to a development partnership of products in the future.
Larry Jordan: Well what does this new agreement actually mean?
James DeRuvo: Basically what the agreement does is it avoids a nasty drawn out court battle, and that means the clear winner here is the RED user who can take advantage of more affordable external monitor recorders, without losing the benefit of recording to RED RAW. So I think it’s a win win all the way around.
Larry Jordan: OK, we’ve covered Canon, RED and Atomos, what’s our third story?
James DeRuvo: There’s a new stock footage service called ArtGrid which is being launched by ARTList. They did the same with music stock clips. This new stock footage service will offer three annual subscription levels, 1080p, four to 8K and four to 8K RAW via ProRes, REDCODE RAW and DNX files. It’ll offer a one annual fee and a worldwide commercial license with no additional charges but the real cool feature that I think is here, is that rather than go through a whole bunch of clips in the catalog and try and find which one you like, these clips are curated according to stories. Each clip will tell a story and so if you’ve got a story in mind that you’re working on, you can just focus on those stories and those clips rather than wading through a whole bunch of clips to find the right shot. That’s going to be a great feature if they make it work.
Larry Jordan: The name of the company again is?
James DeRuvo: The service is called ArtGrid, and right now they’re offering five free clips if you sign up for their newsletter, so do a Google search for ARTList or ArtGrid and sign up and you can get five free stock footage clips.
Larry Jordan: Very cool. James what other stories are you working on this week?
James DeRuvo: Other stories we’re following include RODE adding multitrack recording to their new RODEcaster pro mixer, and let me tell you, it’s pretty awesome. Red Giant software launches Red Giant Universe version three with more new retro titles, and a streamlined dashboard and there’s a great new handheld tripod for vloggers that could kill the Gorillapod. And we’ve got a ton of new hardware and software reviews up as well.
Larry Jordan: James, where can we go on the web to learn more about these and all the other stories you and your team are covering?
James DeRuvo: All these stories and more can be found at doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo is the editor in chief of doddlenews.com and joins us every week. Welcome back, and we’ll see you next Thursday.
James DeRuvo: Alright Larry, see you next Thursday.
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: Ted Smith did not start out being evil, in fact he worked in Hollywood creating props and other physical effects, however, after many years his evil side started to surface. He left the film industry to share his tips and tricks with folks doing cosplay. From that ‘Evil Ted’ Smith along with his website, emerged. Hello Ted, welcome.
Ted Smith: Hey Larry, how are you doing?
Larry Jordan: I am talking to you, I’m doing great. What first got you interested in creating props for film?
Ted Smith: I think I was 14 years old, I saw Star Wars like everybody did, and as a kid I was like, “Oh my god it’s amazing. How do you make this stuff?” I found out very quickly there were no things in the library or YouTube or internet back then, so I started taking cardboard and duct tape and glue and putting stuff together.
Larry Jordan: I love the cardboard and duct tape image, that’s very cool.
Ted Smith: As a kid, I didn’t have access to all this other stuff so I just used what I had access to as a kid. Literally cardboard and duct tape. I made my mom a stormtrooper costume out of poster board for a Halloween party.
Larry Jordan: You work with the resources you have at hand, don’t you?
Ted Smith: Exactly. Necessity is the mother of invention Larry. It was like “I need this stuff.” So yes, Star Wars came out and Star Trek and things, and when I saw something on TV and it didn’t exist, and I wanted it. I just realized very quickly I had to make it, and I used what I had, so most of it in the beginning was cardboard and stuff and I grew my way to working with wood and plastic and stuff like that, but it was very primitive. When I finally went professional in 1989 I was 25 years old, I moved to California and that’s when I got exposed to mold making and casting resins and fiberglass and vacuum forming machines. My mind was blown and I was on the top of the pole.
Larry Jordan: I swear, half the people working in Hollywood had their careers changed when Star Wars came out.
Ted Smith: Yes, and I think nobody saw it on the horizon. I don’t even think George Lucas saw it coming either. They made this movie which was released and they were terrified, and nobody had the idea of the phenomena it had, the impact of creating this world and people bought it. So yes, I was always into sci fi and comic books, but Star Wars I tell people is what tipped me over the edge. I wanted more, like “This is amazing, I want to do this.”
Larry Jordan: Your bio uses terms like maker and builder. What do those mean to you?
Ted Smith: There’s people that want stuff, “I want this, I want that,” just buy it. “I want this costume,” and they just want to buy it off the shelf. As a maker, the journey is to make it yourself. I always tell people passion overrides talent. If you want something bad enough, you’ll be able to make it, and I’ve known so many people, have friends of mine who are mad talented, but they’re lazy. They could make something but choose not to, and there’s people out there who are not that talented, but they have the passion to make it, and if they stick to it long enough, they’ll end up making it themselves, because they don’t have the money to buy it, but they still have the passion to make it. If you make it yourself you don’t have to spend nearly as much money so the makers are the people who just want something bad enough they make it themselves.
Larry Jordan: Your professional career in film encompassed virtually every blockbuster Hollywood has ever turned out since the beginning of time. What did cosplay have that attracted you? Why did you leave the film industry and shift so radically?
Ted Smith: Hollywood was amazing, don’t get me wrong, I loved it while I was in it and it’s a young man’s sport. I started in my 20s, which was the perfect time to start and I ran with it. It was fun in my 20s, great in my 30s, hitting the 40s, it was OK. By the time I hit my 50s, I’m like, “This is a young man’s sport.” I was done. So I couldn’t work 15, 16 hours a day anymore and if you do anything eight hours a day over and over again, it becomes a job, and I found out very quickly that when I had my own time and my free time, I wasn’t building or making anything. I spent all that time at work in the movies, so any free time I had I stopped making things. I didn’t make for the pleasure or the joy anymore.
Ted Smith: There was down time. I was unemployed for a duration of time and I just wanted to make something for myself so I made a simple little video, on how to make a foam helmet and it blew up and it made people think “Oh my god, I can do this out of foam,” and that brought the joy back to me. I turned into a 14 year old boy again when I saw Star Wars. And I realized that’s what it was that brought the joy back to me. It turned into a job and then it became less fun, and now it’s not a job anymore, now I get to do what I want to do, make what I want to make, and just had the joy of sharing my talent with other people, and it made it fun again.
Larry Jordan: Well would you describe that as the goal that you have in creating movies for your website, as spreading the joy?
Ted Smith: Yes. Exactly. Spreading the joy and also I want to take the intimidation out of building, because what happened was, when I was growing up, if you wanted to make something, you had to use wood or plastic or needed power tools and all this high end stuff. I realize now that format foam or EDA foam and just craft foam doesn’t need power tools, you need a sharp knife and a cutting mat, and some intuition and desire. You don’t need all that stuff now. So I realized you can make a Hollywood style prop and costume for a fraction of the budget on your kitchen table or your mom and dad’s house. It’s a different material, it’s readily available, it’s cheap, inexpensive, it’s how you seal it and paint it that makes it look amazing. So you don’t need big expensive stuff anymore.
Larry Jordan: Well now, wait a minute. I saw your latest video and you’re using a Dremel tool.
Ted Smith: OK. Well alright, spend 20 bucks people, buy a Dremel. There you go. Dip in your pockets, get $20, buy a Dremel. Yes, I always tell people you start as a novice, and people always ask me “What do I start off with?” and I say basic, cutting to a mat, and as you progress you’ll find out there’s other additional tools you want to get. But don’t make the lack of a tool a reason not to build. You don’t need it and in time you want to upstage your technique and progress, become less of a novice, you can buy some more tools. A band saw is a big one. I always recommend people get a band saw, when you start to move up a little bit bigger, a simple table top band saw, it’s great.
Larry Jordan: Aside from acquiring a few, but essential tools, what other suggestions do you have for people who want to create their own props and create their own costumes?
Ted Smith: Oh my gosh yes, imagination’s the best. One of the things that I like about it, all the young people out there who want to build something from movies or video games is great. You need that passion to start building something. But I always tell people don’t be afraid to experiment and build your own stuff. I belong to the website Pinterest where people post images and art and I’ll Google and do image searches for robots, and I’ll see images of things and if one of them inspires me but I don’t want to do that, I like the head of this guy, I like the arm of this guy, I like the body of this guy. You start mish mashing different things and just being creative and making something that’s your own is great. I think that’s one of the best satisfactions. You walk into a convention and people say “Oh that’s so cool, what is that?” You say, “I made that myself. It’s my own design.”
Larry Jordan: I’ve tried to avoid asking this question the entire interview, but I realize I cannot not ask. Where did the Evil Ted come from?
Ted Smith: My best friend passed recently and he was my best friend but he was also named Ted. We lived together and the going joke was, we got lumped together as the Teds. My family and his family would call us Ted One, Ted Two or Ted A, Ted B. We said “No, it’s Good Ted, Evil Ted.” I wanted to be Evil Ted and they said “Why do you want to be Evil Ted?” I said “Who wants to be Good Ted?” That’s not alluring, that’s not interesting. So, and it kind of stuck and I went on tour with Rob Zombie, and I did costumes and props for his show and Rob was really confused. He said “Oh my god, there’s several Teds on this tour. You, our road manager and another guy. There’s different Teds.” I looked at Rob and went, “Dude there’s only one Evil Ted.” Everybody started laughing, and I made sure to put my name on it, and once I made my shirt with my name on it, and we did the tour, when it was over I had so many shirts and sweatshirts with my name on it, I’d wear them to work, and people just would point, laugh, and say “Oh yeah, Evil Ted.” It just got cemented.
Larry Jordan: Well do your friends call you Evil or Ted?
Ted Smith: It’s funny, my fans call me Evil. I have all these people who say “Oh Evil,” or “Mr Evil” or “Should we call you Ted or Evil?” I say “Whatever works for you guys is fine.”
Larry Jordan: Ted, for people that want to know where they can go on the web to learn more about all the stuff you’re creating, where can they go?
Ted Smith: That amazing thing on websites, eviltedsmith.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, eviltedsmith.com.
Ted Smith: Oh it’s eviltedsmith.com, that is it.
Larry Jordan: The Evil Ted himself is the voice you’ve been listening to. Ted Smith, thank you so very much for joining us today.
Ted Smith: Oh Larry, thank you so much.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Mike Nuget has been a colorist and finishing editor in the New York City area for more than 15 years. He first worked at Technicolor-PostWorks, but then decided to branch off to start his own freelance company. Hello Mike, welcome.
Mike Nuget: Hi Larry, thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: My pleasure. How would you describe what a colorist and finishing editor does?
Mike Nuget: We are the post side of the post production process of television and film, meaning a TV show or a film will be shot, written, directed, all that stuff and then it goes to an editor who is the first part of the post production process. Once the edit is done and the content is in place, it hands off to a finishing editor, which basically takes all the original camera footage, all the visual effects, titles, things like that, puts it all together in a very high res finalized piece. Once that’s done it’s handed off to a colorist which is also something that I do as well, sometimes you feel they’re separated, then the colorist basically takes the show and gives it a look. Where a drama might be dark and gloomy and blue, versus a comedy that’s bright, orange and happy. We get to portray that and work with the director of photography and director and producers, whoever wants to come in, to really polish off the product. Then once that’s done, it goes back again, usually to a finishing editor for final titles, credits and everything else, so it’s kind of the last couple of pieces to the whole puzzle of television and film.
Larry Jordan: Increasingly, we’re editing camera native or high quality intermediate codec. Is there still a need for a finishing editor to clean up before it goes to color grading?
Mike Nuget: Most of the time yes. It depends on what they shot. If they shot at a certain level of compression and file size and their systems can handle that, then technically you don’t need a finishing editor. They can do the finishing on their own, which happens quite often actually. Where then somebody will just give me as a colorist, I’ll play the one role, they’ll give me the file and I will color it from there. But in big picture and big theatrical films and big episodic television, the file sizes are so large now especially with four, six and 8K and HDR, normally the editors won’t use a system that’s powerful enough for six months. They don’t want to spend the money renting a system that is that much, so they’ll use compression files that somebody will make them called dailies, and they’ll use those compressed files for six months while they’re doing the creative editorializing, and then they’ll have to give it to us and we’ll have to take the original camera that’s been sitting on a drive for a couple of months, and put it back together. So it’s not 100 percent necessary but most of the time it is especially on big budget things. If they don’t need to do it then I’ll just take the role as a colorist and take their final high res picture and work with that.
Larry Jordan: I can understand if you’re working with 4K and HDR and bigger a proxy workflow makes a lot of sense. Then you just come back and make it all look beautiful. What first got you interested in this? I can’t imagine a five year old looking up at the stars, and saying “I want to be a finishing editor.”
Mike Nuget: Like most people when they go to college or when they first quote unquote dream of being in this industry in the post size, they always think of an editor. That’s great, that’s exactly how I got into it too, I was interested in doing music videos with a friend’s band. It wasn’t until I got into the industry in about 2003, when HD was just starting to come out, my brain got tickled by the fact that I could be quote unquote on the forefront of technology. So instead of just editing and taking that role and not really diving into the technology of it, I saw this HD thing and I was just at the right moment of being an assistant, where I had a choice to either go into more of the offline creative editorial, or stay on the online side or finishing side. I chose to say on the finishing side just because that technology kind of piqued my interest and then it just kind of grew from there.
Mike Nuget: It’s definitely not something that most people go into the industry for. I think a lot of people don’t even know that position exists sometimes. To this day I still sometimes get clients come into my room and they sit down, and say “OK, what are we doing today?” “Well it’s kind of weird you don’t know what you’re doing with me, but you hired me for the day” or whatever.
Larry Jordan: Finishing and color grading is all about software. What’s a finishing tool that you like using?
Mike Nuget: There’s definitely a good number of them out there. At a certain level it starts to weed out some of the software that can’t handle certain things, so for example, there’s only a handful of finishing software like Avid and Smoke and Flame and then there’s really only a handful of color systems. In my case I chose FilmLight, a company whose product is Baselight. It’s a color product. I got into that in about 2011 when they made a new plug in called Baselight addition plug in for the Avid. So I was able to stay in Avid which was my normal native software, and then I was able to dive super deep into color, having the Baselight color tools right there in front of me.
Mike Nuget: That really piqued my interest and then when I started moving into more color and I realized there’s also a full Baselight system of big Linux box and a big control panel, I got more involved with the company and I started to help develop workflows that would go easier from the Avid to the Baselight and back and things like that, and they just came out with a plug in. So I was lucky enough to be on the forefront of that, and I even did some demos in 2016 and 2018 and at IBC for FilmLight showing these workflows and showing off the plug in that they’ve created for Avid. So that’s definitely one of my go to things when it comes to color correction.
Larry Jordan: Why should we consider Baselight rather than DaVinci Resolve?
Mike Nuget: I always consider it almost like the same argument of what’s better, Windows or Mac? The answer is whatever tool is best for you at that moment. That’s why I always suggest for everybody to learn everything. I’ve learned obviously Windows and Mac, I’ve learned Resolve, I’ve learned Baselight and everything else, so it’s a personal thing I think. It’s like holding a camera in your hand. Are you a Canon guy? Are you a Nikon guy? It’s just physical features or something like that.
Mike Nuget: The features that I’ve seen in Baselight, I’ve actually not seen in a lot of other places, and it’s a smaller company. I’ve worked very closely with these guys. I know most of the developers and the code writers and they’re very into being different and trying to be better and developing things that you didn’t even think of, like the last version that just came out, version five, had tools in there that I didn’t even know I wanted. When I started using them, I wondered how I did not have them before, and it’s nice to know that there’s a company out there who was thinking like operators, but developing like developers. So that’s a really nice handshake. They’re really good with that.
Larry Jordan: Give me a couple more specifics and features that you really like in Baselight that make it special to you.
Mike Nuget: First off, the workflow between Avid and Baselight was phenomenal. I mean, we used to have to flatten a file out which mean basically making a full file, which could take 20, 30 minutes. Baselight guy would have to ingest it, color it, make a new file, another 100GB or so, have to bring that back into Avid, put titles back on it, and then make another file. So now they’ve developed this Baselight workflow where you’re just exchanging metadata. So now you’re changing about a 3MB file which is emailable, super quick and all that. Then it goes to the colorist, and when it comes back from the colorist, the color grade is still alive because of the Baselight plug in. So I can actually see every single thing the colorist did, every single layer, every single shape they created, all the features they used, and I can even manipulate them further if needed. If we’re in title session and all of a sudden the client says, “You know, the vignette on that is a little too strong, let’s make it less.” I have the ability to do that without having to go back and forth, so it eliminates the need to have two people always there at the same time, and have two systems running. That was a huge thing. That’s what I’ve been talking about for years with them.
Mike Nuget: As far as features go, the new texture equalizer that they came out with is amazing. It’s basically like a blur and sharpen but it breaks down the picture by detail, so if you have a close up picture of a guy’s face, and you hit one certain button, it’ll just sharpen the hairs on his eyebrows. Versus sharpening the skin on his face. And vice versa, there’s also features that will sharpen or blur the big chunks, and not touch the little chunks. So in something like interviews which I do a lot of in documentary work, things like that, it’s an amazing thing to be able to pull out in front of a client.
Larry Jordan: What advice do you have for other colorists who are trying to decide what software to use on their next project?
Mike Nuget: It really comes down to what the project needs. I always promote the learn everything because if I go to a session and I say “I only know Baselight” and they say “Well we really wanted to work in Resolve” then I’d be out of luck. The good thing is I can switch back and forth. So I definitely advise to do that, at least to a point where you can handle jobs. With the Baselight, what I always tell people too is the Baselight plug in is only $1,000 and I know that’s not chump change, but that’s nothing compared to like a full color system, which could be $30 to $50,000, whatever it is. So for $1,000 you can get the Baselight color tool set and the interface right in your Avid. With that you can learn as much as you want on your own, that’s exactly how I did it, I learned it for about two years, and then when I went to jump on the full Baselight system, with the full panel, the exact same software was sitting in front of me with even more tools, and then I just had to learn the panel.
Mike Nuget: So for that price point, to be able to learn a system like that, I think that’s really good. My advice would be just try it out. There’s a free trial, and then you can decide on where you want to go from there.
Larry Jordan: For people that want to hire you to do their next project, where can they go on the web?
Mike Nuget: My website is www.mikenuget.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, mikenuget.com and Mike has been a colorist and finishing editor for a long time. Mike thanks for joining us today.
Mike Nuget: Thank you so much for having me.
Larry Jordan: Roger Mabon is the co-founder and CEO of mLogic which designs and markets peripheral products for desktop and portable computers. Prior to mLogic Roger co-founded G-Technology which is known to media folks around the world. Hello Roger, welcome back.
Roger Mabon: Hello Larry, how are you today?
Larry Jordan: I’m looking forward to talking with you because the last time we spoke was like earlier last year. What have you guys been up to recently?
Roger Mabon: Well we’re still just plugging away making easy to use and affordable archiving systems for content creation pros.
Larry Jordan: Well why the focus on LTO which is the tape format you guys are using?
Roger Mabon: Yes, we have a whole line of LTO tape products. We’re currently on what’s known as the eighth generation of the LTO technology, so LTO-8, and we have a line of products that are very popular out there, called the mTape and they’re desktop units, shoebox size device and people use these things on set to be able to do things like offload original camera files on set, deliver content on LTO and just archive completed projects to LTO tape.
Larry Jordan: Well there’s two directions I want to go. First, why LTO? The second is, what’s the features in the eighth version, so let’s talk why LTO first? What’s the advantage of tape versus just putting a hard disk on a shelf?
Roger Mabon: That’s a great question. This is a question which we field every day and basically if you keep data on a spinning hard drive, one of my older G-Tech drives for instance, stick it on a shelf, and then go back four or five years later, the chances are that data’s not going to be accessible. And it has a lot to do with the way a hard drive is made, it’s got platters, it’s got a motor, it’s got heads and these things deteriorate over time. It’s not if, but when a hard drive will fail. So that’s where this tape idea came in. I’ve sold a ton of hard drives in my life, and the new mission here now is to preserve the assets that reside in all those drives, and LTO tape is by far the safest media to place your content. This is why banks use it, why the IRS use it, anything that is very critical and has to be preserved for the long term always ends up on tape. That’s why you want to have an LTO device in your workflow.
Larry Jordan: I think up until about three years ago, that was an appropriate argument, but now there’s a challenger, which is storing our assets or backing up our assets to the cloud. Which it is argued could be cheaper. Why would we consider LTO tape which has got a high upfront cost versus the cloud?
Roger Mabon: Well yes, obviously the cloud is a big deal. There’s definitely a place for the cloud. The issues with the cloud is it can become quite expensive, especially when you try to retrieve data, there’s different pricing structures. You can put it up there relatively cheap but when you try to pull it back down, it’s much more expensive. With 4K, 8K cameras, and multi camera shoots on productions nowadays, you’re generating terabytes upon terabytes of data per day. That takes a long time to get to the cloud and it can be cost prohibitive. So there’s definitely a place still and will be for some time for these LTO tape systems because like you said, there is an upfront cost for the hardware, but the media is incredibly affordable. For instance, an LTO-7 tape that holds six terabytes of data has a list price around $60 so it’s very much cheaper than say a spinning hard drive.
Larry Jordan: The other advantage is once we’ve purchased the LTO drive, we don’t have to keep spending money each month as we do with a cloud service. True?
Roger Mabon: This is true, very true. You invest in the hardware upfront, and then you will eventually start winning. If you’re using hard drives or using a cloud service, eventually you will win with LTO because the media’s so much cheaper.
Larry Jordan: Let’s talk about the latest product, the LTO-8. What does that give us that seven or six did not?
Roger Mabon: So the big advantage of eight is the capacity per cartridge. An LTO-8 tape cartridge can hold a native capacity of 12 terabytes of data and that’s versus six terabytes for the seven cartridge. So it’s twice as large as the previous generation in terms of capacity.
Larry Jordan: Is it just capacity that’s the difference or is there a speed difference or performance, or what else?
Roger Mabon: It’s mainly just capacity. The LTO-7 spec is actually the same speed as LTO-8 and that’s 300 megabytes per second. So when people think tape, they go “Wow, tape’s kind of archaic and slow,” but an LTO-7 tape deck is faster than a hard drive by quite a margin.
Larry Jordan: One of the things that we have to have in order to use an LTO tape is we have to have software to drive it. You make the hardware, but other companies make the software, and you bundle or support a wide variety of software. But you’ve also started creating your own utility software specifically for mTape. Why?
Roger Mabon: That’s very true, so now we’re supply an LTFS based utility from ourselves. It comes bundled free with our mTape products. It’s a very simple archive and retrieve app that gets the job done, offloading from camera cards or spinning drives, Raids, whatever it might be, onto LTO tape so that is a free utility that comes in the box. But we also have many software partners like you alluded to, so we have people such as Archiware, YoYotta, Imagine Products, Storage DNA and the list goes on. Each one of these third party archive applications has their own features and benefits. Most of them if not all have a database application, which makes it really nice for plugging in metadata and being able to browse tapes that are currently not inline in the LTO unit. So offline browsing. If you’re going back and looking for that shot from whenever it might have been, it’s easy to find. So our utility is very simplistic, works great, but if you’re looking for a little bit more robust feature rich software, we do recommend some of our partners.
Larry Jordan: LTO drives like hard discs are not made by mLogic, they’re made in this case by IBM and Quantum. Why should we consider buying an LTO system from mTape when you guys are not making the drive itself?
Roger Mabon: Good question. So the actual LTO tape mechanism is an IBM product, so anybody’s that’s selling an LTO8 A system has purchased the drive from IBM. IBM and the likes of Quantum that you mention, they do sell LTO systems. The big difference between what mLogic is doing with its mTape and those products is that our devices have Thunderbolt 3 connections on the back of these units. So they’re simply plug and play with any Mac or PC that has a Thunderbolt port on it which makes things very simple when you’re doing an archive.
Larry Jordan: What’s the price of an LTO-8 device?
Roger Mabon: The list price is $4999 for the hardware.
Larry Jordan: Would an LTO-7 or six be cheaper for people who want to start with something smaller?
Roger Mabon: Yes, so an LTO6 drive mTape would be $3000 and an LTO-7 mTape is $4500.
Larry Jordan: As you mention, data stored on an LTO tape lasts up to 30 years, but the tape drives themselves change about every 18 months. From LTO-6 to seven to eight. What’s the best practice for managing assets stored on tape?
Roger Mabon: I know we discussed in the recent past that you have some LTO-6 tapes now and you’re wondering how to read them because unfortunately LTO-8 does not read those tapes. It used to be that there was a two generation back read capability which has unfortunately broken with LTO-8 but will return with LTO-9. But when the newer generation devices come out, you can skip two generations typically which is six plus years before you have to even think about your data. When you do need to do it, you need to migrate the data from the older generation tapes to the latest generation tape. So say from six to eight right now, and we actually came out with a product recently called mRack Migrate for this exact purpose. This device has both an LTO-6 tape drive in it and an LTO-8 tape drive and it is designed to migrate the data off the older LTO-6 to LTO-8 media. It’s a migration thing that needs to happen.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information about the products that mLogic offers, where can they go on the web?
Roger Mabon: They can go to mlogic.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, mlogic.com and Roger Mabon is the co-founder and CEO of mLogic, and Roger it is always fun talking with you. Thank you so much for spending time with us.
Roger Mabon: Thank you for having me Larry.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
Roger Mabon: Bye bye.
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Larry Jordan: As director of business development for BeBop Technology, Michael Kammes leverages his experience with creative technology and tools providers to accelerate growth and provide strategic perspective across marketing, sales and partnerships. Hello Michael, welcome back.
Michael Kammes: Hello Larry, good to hear your voice.
Larry Jordan: Michael, tonight I want to talk about workflow but first, tell me what you’re doing for BeBop and explain what I said in the intro because I don’t know what you’re doing.
Michael Kammes: BeBop is a newer company that focuses on visual creativeness in the cloud. So BeBop has a platform that you can edit on from the safety of wherever you like to edit and because we’re working with all the major data centers like Google and Microsoft and Amazon, we can put all your media near to where you are, to cut down on latency. So folks can edit from their machine, on a virtual machine in a data center, and harness the power of that virtual machine in the data center.
Larry Jordan: And your role with Bebop is to do what?
Michael Kammes: My role is director of business development, so not only am I coaching technologists on why BeBop is a platform for them, but also evangelizing the BeBop technology to the greater industry.
Larry Jordan: Well let’s evangelize more than just BeBop. Let’s take a look with workflow. Clearly deadlines are not getting any longer. What changes to workflows have you seen recently?
Michael Kammes: What we’re seeing is the media getting to the creatives faster than ever before. While there still is a place for shipping hard drives or in some cases, hand carrying the hard drives on a plane, there are an increasing number of productions which are using devices on set that can convert the media in real time from the camera, to a proxy format and then beam it over 4G or over wifi to an Amazon data center, or a Microsoft, and editors can then pull that down and start working with it. This is especially important with unscripted television, when you’re maybe shooting overseas, or shooting in remote areas, when you may not be able to get the media on the drive transferred, hand carried, that frequently. So being able to beam it wirelessly cuts down on that downtime.
Larry Jordan: Are we giving up too much in terms of being able to see the image if we’re looking at proxies?
Michael Kammes: No, I don’t think so. Ten, 15 years ago when we were still doing the Avid 14 to one, 15 to one, which believe it or not is still being used, I think now that we’re using decent frame size H.264, I think with H.265 kind of on the roadmap and starting to be used, I think we’re getting more quality than we ever have with offline or proxy editing.
Larry Jordan: But we’re shifting codecs. If we’re looking at a ProRes 422 file, which is designed for efficient editing, H.264 is really cumbersome, and requires a whole lot more horsepower. Are we trading off on storage and sacrificing CPU power?
Michael Kammes: We are. I mean there’s always going to be a give and take. By getting the 264s and in the future the 265s to editorial faster, they can start doing the assemblies, and then by the time the high res comes in, they can relink to that. It should also be said that a lot of the cameras that are out there being shot, many of them aren’t doing ProRes anyway. They’re doing XAVC or some other compressed format as well, just in a larger frame size and higher data rate. So whether it’s proxy or high res quite often we’re being stuck with the limited processing power of the computer anyway.
Larry Jordan: You mentioned XAVC and other codecs. What’s your advice for dealing with our continually expanding world of codecs that we need to work with?
Michael Kammes: There’s two different schools of thought. One of them is the mezzanine workflow and I’ll explain what that means. That’s converting all your source footage to a stable robust codec that retains as much fidelity as possible without making your storage bust at the seams, so that would mean taking a 4K XAVC and flipping it to a ProRes 422HQ. Obviously, that’s not the highest res possible because we’re not doing ProRes 4444, but we’re using a fat enough codec with enough latitude that we can still work with it and not lose any quality. So a lot of folks will move to a mezzanine format.
Michael Kammes: The other workflow is to continue the tried and true method of offline, online or proxy formats, so that would be cutting with either a proxy that the camera generates, or creating a proxy from your high res, doing your creative cut with that, your creative editorial, and then reconforming back to the original on a high performance machine.
Larry Jordan: That also says that proxies are shifting to the camera rather than creating a proxy after the fact, is that true?
Michael Kammes: In that instance, yes. And it all comes down to how long the editors have to work on the project. If the post production cycle is that short, like a reality or news, they need that real quick. If it’s something more creative, like maybe an Amazon Original or a Netflix Original where you have a little bit more latitude in terms of time, then you can go the tried and true method of capturing high res and then creating proxies after the fact and working with that.
Larry Jordan: Thinking also of codecs, brings me to mind that Apple is discontinuing support for its Legacy 32 bit codecs in the next version of the MacOS. What’s your opinion on this?
Michael Kammes: That’s a really good question and those who are listening probably heard about the kerfuffle a month or so ago which I think you spearheaded part of Apple rectifying that kerfuffle. Developers were alerted to this a while ago, that QuickTime was being deprecated and that 32 bit codecs were on their way out. But what wasn’t really publicized is that Adobe knew about it, Avid knew about it, they just didn’t publicize the details of it, so everyone was scared that maybe this was catching Apple, Adobe and everyone else off guard. But the fact is that aside from the paltry bit of information that Apple initially had on their website, it’s not a big deal. Avid and Adobe have been planning for this for quite a while, and already have engines under the hood to handle playing back those old codecs and Larry, I got to tell you, I’m so very happy that you put up that blog post and were able to get Apple to fully flesh out the blog post on the 32 bit codecs going away because without that we’d really all be lost.
Larry Jordan: Well I will confess when I first read that warning from Apple, I was afraid that all of our Legacy media was going to disappear, so I’m glad that everybody has got a handle on it and was finally able to talk about it.
Michael Kammes: Agreed. I think it put a lot of people’s minds at ease. I think there was a concern that “Hey we can’t use any of our Avid codecs. We can’t use any of our Legacy codecs for other systems.” And the fact that Apple fleshed that out and that Avid responded to it and Adobe responded to it, I think you have that on your blog, I think put a lot of people’s minds at ease.
Larry Jordan: You know, thinking of technology changing which it seems to do on an hourly basis, reminds me that we’re just a couple of months away from NAB and right now we’re in the middle of a quiet time as everybody’s got their heads down coding. What are your thoughts for what to expect at the show? What trends are you thinking are going to happen based upon what you’re seeing here?
Michael Kammes: I think you’ve probably seen that it seems to be every other year there’s something big at NAB, whether it was 3D, VR, 4K and then HDR. So this year I honestly think it’s going to be kind of an off year. I haven’t seen anything revolutionary come down the pipe or even in whispers over the last year or so. I think companies are going to continue to refine what they’ve already promised, so we’re talking about applications that are running in a data center, in a cloud. I think we’re going to be seeing more machine learning being applied to tasks in post production. I think obviously there’s going to be more 265 encoders, but none of this is, dare I say, new. This is stuff that’s been talked about for years, we’ve seen other companies come out with in the past two years, and I think we’re just going to see more of a proliferation in the industry of that at NAB this year.
Larry Jordan: Well you realize as soon as you say that, the entire industry is going to say “We’re going to make Michael Kammes wrong and create all kinds of new stuff.” So we’ll just have to actually see what happens come April.
Michael Kammes: I love being wrong Larry. I’m sure you know that real well.
Larry Jordan: Michael, for people that want to keep track of what you’re doing and thinking, where can they go on the web?
Larry Jordan: Let’s go to michaelkammes.com, all one word, and Michael is the director of business development for BeBop and Michael, as always, thanks for joining us today.
Michael Kammes: Thank you so much for the time Larry.
Larry Jordan: You know, I was just thinking about Mike Nuget’s comments about software. As Mike made clear in his interview, he makes a point to learn all the software tools that apply to his work, at least learn them well enough to get a job done with them. While he has favorite tools such as Avid and Baselight, he’s not so foolish as to limit himself to one piece of technology, and this is good advice for the rest of us. As we’ve talked about in the past, one of the challenges to making a living in the creative arts today is distinguishing ourselves from the competition. The more we focus on the results we can achieve, rather than the tools that we use, the easier it becomes for clients to realize that what they are paying for is not someone who knows which button to push, but why to push that button in the first place.
Larry Jordan: The world is changing. Technology used to be expensive, and complex. Now it’s fairly cheap and commonplace. This means that knowing how the tools work is not enough to earn a living. People skills, project management and creativity are equally important. Just something I’m thinking about.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests this week, cosplay prop maker Ted Smith, colorist and finishing editor Mike Nuget, Roger Mabon with mLogic, Michael Kammes with Bebop Technology 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 morning.
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.