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Recent Blog Posts in July 2011

July 26, 2011
  SIGGRAPH Beyond the Convention Walls Part 2: Art & More in Vancouver
Posted By Jessie Nagel
Some more tips on where to go and what to see during SIGGRAPH 2011, from a Vancouver native.

Vancouver has been called terminal city, so named because it was the terminus of the Canadian National Rail line. But as a teenager, the name evoked a certain appealing ennui - food for my arty soul. I know you can relate. So in honor of that vibe, I wanted to offer some additional area finds that speak to the inner geek or alt hipster, depending on your point of view.

The Waldorf Hotel is a home base, if by home you mean a 63-year-old hotel re-imagined as a creative compound where contemporary art, music, food and culture convene under one roof. Tiki bar - check. Music events - check. Place to get a haircut - check. Wine tastings - check. Dig it at http://www.waldorfhotel.com.  Oh yeah, you can stay there too. The once gritty Main Street had been polished with the advent of galleries, vintage and boutique designer shops and restaurants. Most of the action happens between Broadway and 18th but there are a few cool places closer to 3rd including The Narrow Lounge and restaurant/gallery The Whip.

Another neighborhood worth exploring is Commercial Drive a.k.a The Drive (http://www.thedrive.ca). If you've got a penchant for patchouli this is your area... but if you are adverse to the hippie aesthetic, do not shy away. The Drive has plenty of things to see and do that don't involve a dream catcher. This was once the center for Italian life in Vancouver. A few Italian cafés still thrive in and amongst the vintage shops, restaurants and the co-op bookstore.

If you love shopping at record stores - think High Fidelity - then Zulu Records is your new heaven. Located on 4th Street in Kitsilano (see my previous blog post), Zulu (http://www.zulurecords.com) was founded in 1981 and has since been the place in town to get great music of all kinds including local bands and vinyl.

From sounds of the city to Sins of the City - walking tour, that is. The Vancouver Police Museum offers this glimpse of the city's shady past. For more information: http://www.vancouverpolicemuseum.ca . They also hold workshops for fingerprinting and blood spatter. Um...okay.

We move next to the unreal, as interpreted through art: Check out the Vancouver Art Gallery's current UNREAL show. As noted on the website (http://www.vanartgallery.bc.ca): UNREAL considers contemporary artists' explorations beyond the rational and looks at the ways in which they delve into ideas around desire, fantasy, anxiety and the absurd.  Sounds like perfect place to end this post.

See you in Vancouver!

Jessie Nagel is a PR vet specializing in our industry. Her company is Hype (www.hypeworld.com). 


 
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July 14, 2011
  Coming to Avid Media Composer: 64-bit, 4K and higher projects, a new interface
Posted By Brady Betzel
BURBANK - Just before an Avid-hosted event last night on the Warner Bros. lot, editors who gathered there were discussing the shortfalls of FCP X as well as the direction of Adobe and Avid. The buzz was palpable.

Inside the Steven J. Ross theater, Avid brought the troops together to emphasize its commitment to the professional market, hammering home that their focus is us: the editors. It was good to hear at a time when some industry people and businesses are feeling abandoned after the release of FCP X.

In the lobby, vendor tables were on display: AJA, Matrox, MOTU, Blackmagic, Blue Fish 444, and many other Avid technologies were being shown. Interestingly, no hints at any new Avid created hardware though.

With great hors d'oeuvre's and drinks, the excitement and buzz was thick in the atmosphere. I overheard many people asking what they are going to do in terms of software, I even cringed at overhearing someone mention Final Cut Pro X, what some are referring to as "iMovie Pro," as a "professional" solution - hopefully it was a joke. Avid cleverly sprinkled DVDs around the party for people to take: "Avid for Final Cut Pro Users." As we entered the theater, I noticed that it was full. Our industry is actively pursuing a leader during this weird time. A quick intro was followed by a panel between two editors discussing their careers and jumping between different nonlinear editing systems. They included Alan E. Bell (500 Days of Summer, Water for Elephants, The Amazing Spider-Man) and independent editor Jonathan Alberts. To the meat and potatoes of the night: We were first given a legal disclaimer saying that none of what was going to be shared is 100% going to be in a future release - but in today's market they better be.




Avid introduced DNx 4:4:4 resolution, interoperability with more third-party products such as Blackmagic, Blue Fish 444 and MOTU...they even showed an AJA Kona card, which would be a very welcome addition to the family, and 7.1 sound was discussed at one point. The audience was very excited about native 2K, 4K and higher projects within Media Composer, as well as the announcement that Media Composer will be 64-bit.



Finally, one feature I didn't think was going to happen was a new interface. It appeared that they have a tabbed timeline window now, similar to Premiere Pro, After Effects and Final Cut. Avid reiterated that they are not sacrificing features, and the interface will be able to look like previous versions if you do not like the change. [Editor's note: the shown image is that of a prototype.] Avid re-emphasized its commitment to the professionals in the industry. Media Composer and Pro Tools will continue to grow together and become more cohesive. Shifting from the old ways of Avid being a "closed" system to the newer ways of being an "open" system is starting to surface much more prominently and will continue to grow with its AMA architecture and expanded third-party support. As long as Avid does not go the way of eliminating prominent features in their toolset, the future of Media Composer and Pro Tools seems to be headed in the right direction.

For more on Avid's Media Composer preview, check out Post editor Randi Altman's ARTICLE.

Brady Betzel is assistant editor on Lopez Tonight and a regular contributor to Post Magazine.
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July 11, 2011
  SIGGRAPH 2011: Explore Vancouver beyond convention center walls
Posted By Jessie Nagel
With the SIGGRAPH show coming to Vancouver next month, I was asked to share tips about my hometown so industry pros could get an idea of where to go and how to get around during the show.

I grew up in Vancouver and travel there with frequency to see my family. It's a vibrant and exciting city, with unprecedented water access and jutting green glass skyscrapers set against majestic mountains. Vancouver is a leader in the farm-to-table foodie movement, and the influence of many cultures can be seen, heard and eaten in Canada's third largest city.

Walking, biking and public transit are the best ways to see "the city by the sea." In fact, the Skytrain Canada line is the easiest way from the airport to downtown. In approximately 30 minutes you can go from YVR to Waterfront Station, just a few blocks from the Convention Center where SIGGRAPH is being held.

The Vancouver Convention Center is a departure from the typical boxy meeting place, with a six-acre living roof that houses thousands of indigenous plants and recovers rainwater for irrigation. Exiting the building, visitors can walk along the water to Coal Harbor and eventually Stanley Park, 1,000 acres of parkland that also houses the Aquarium, Rose Gardens, thousands of evergreen trees and more.  

To the east of the Convention Center is Gastown - the oldest neighborhood in downtown Vancouver that is both annoyingly touristy and relevant to locals and visitors. Restaurants and bars worth checking out include: Boneta, Salt, L'Abattoir, Pourhouse, & Six Acres. Check out http://www.gastownblog.com for more information on the neighborhood.


When I was a young punk, Gastown was the destination for music venues (some legit, some underground) and thrift (read: vintage) shopping...today, many such destinations have disappeared into the storied personal histories of a few souls. Speaking of operating on the fringes, the edge of Gastown includes the Downtown Eastside, an impoverished area where drugs and crime are at their highest here so if you want to roam into Chinatown - to go to the Sun Yat Sen Gardens (http://www.vancouverchinesegarden.com) or the hip and delicious Bao Bei (http://www.bao-bei.ca) - be streetwise.  There are gems to find on this side of town, but don't be surprised by the drug and other illicit offers.

If you prefer sand to solicitations, English Bay and Kitsilano (Kits) beaches (http://vancouver.ca/parks/rec/beaches/) offer a respite from urban frenzy without leaving the city. A recent visit found the beach-stand fish & chips best left to the romance and nostalgia of memory.  To satisfy the urge for battered seafood Go Fish (1505 West 1st Avenue) by the docks near Granville Island is a modest stand with fresh, seasonal offerings including fish & chips.  It is massively busy so be prepared to wait. If you are feeling impatient, nearby Granville Island Public Market (http://www.granvilleisland.com) offers food stands galore, including prepared hot food, baked goods, produce and other delights. Hands down, it's one of my favorite places in the city. Granville Island is accessible from downtown via False Creek Ferry service (http://www.granvilleislandferries.bc.ca). The ride itself is a good To-Do, offering great views of the city. False Creek Ferries can even do longer tours, including one at sunset (Advance booking required).  And so, with reference to the setting sun I leave you....but not for long. Next up: arts and culture (and a little shopping) in Vancouver a.k.a Terminal City.



Jessie Nagel is a PR vet specializing in our industry. Her company is Hype (www.hypeworld.com).
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July 08, 2011
  GenArts Webinar next week: a sneak peek
Posted By Barry Goch
Greetings Post family!

I just wanted to give everyone a little sneak peek into the upcoming July 21st Webinar that I'm doing with GenArts and Post Magazine on Sapphire Sparks for Smoke on Mac. Timing is 12:00-1:00 pm ET / 9:00-10:00 am PT.

In this free Webinar, "Editorial Finishing and Eye Candy," I'll be breaking down a spot that I did and showing how I used Sapphire Sparks as both creative and technical tools. You can see the spot here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlZwYXz4Kxc

For example, in the "Bam" shot I used Sapphire Shape and Sapphire FilmDamage to help create that look.

Here's the link to sign up: http://tinyurl.com/6k27km4

Hope to see you in the Webinar!

Barry Goch
Online and Offline Editor
barrygoch.com
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July 08, 2011
  Of Apples and Avids: The Cautionary Tale of FCP X
Posted By Jonathan Moser
Even as I write, this unprecedented (in our industry) drama is still unfolding. Not since the "New Coke" debacle of 1985 has one company raised so much furor and alienated so many with a product change. But the situation with Final Cut Pro X is not a simple case of a flavor gone wrong...as one blogger pointed out, these are people's livelihoods one company has decided to play with.

By this point it doesn't matter whether FCP X is "awesome" as Mr. Jobs said in an email in April of 2010, what matters is the question of how one company so used to getting it right, got it so dismally wrong.

Item: A new cottage industry enabling Final Cut editors to migrate to Avid or Adobe has formed throughout the industry.

Item: Third-party vendors have publicly acknowledged (in carefully written prose) how Apple's secrecy and inflexibility has affected their ability to continue supplying and/or developing product for Final Cut Pro X.

Item: Both Adobe and Avid are offering unprecedented discounts for FCP owners to purchase their editing products.

It's almost inconceivable to this writer (whose day job is as a professional video editor) how the lackluster judgment of the leadership of Apple could put into a professional marketplace a product so hobbled and simply foreign to legions of vocal, supportive and dedicated users to make it virtually unusable in a broadcast environment...and not have figured out what would happen. The question it raises is whether it truly was a mistake in judgment, or a cynical way for Apple to divest itself of a market it may really not have wanted (or needed) to support in the first place: the broadcast professional.

Four years ago, the paradigms were polar opposites and another company was in the firing line for similar yet different reasons. Avid was losing market share quickly to the more agile, cheaper and more open Final Cut Pro. Media Composer was seen as a stodgy, decades old, and expensive behemoth, with too many iterations and limitations, a closed architecture and not up to today's file-based tasks. It was often referred to as "your dad's editing system." Image is everything...and Final Cut, with Apple's marketing magic, QuickTime expertise and suite of effective and sexy applications was gunning for the pro market, and winning.

As a professional editor, I found myself caught in the crosshairs. being a longtime Media Composer user I found myself forced to learn Final Cut since so few Avid jobs were available. After training on FCP one day, I found myself angry about it and wrote a diatribe to Avid asking the same types of questions Final Cut users are asking now. How could you abandon us? At the time, I was not the only voice complaining about Avid's intransigence and arrogance, many others, fed up with Avid, jumped ship. But then something highly unusual happened: Avid uncharacteristically stepped up to the plate and responded. It initiated a corporate sea change that dramatically demonstrated that even the deepest corporate culture could change in order to survive.

Innovation, reinvention, openness, flexibility became the rule rather than the stodgy, arrogant chutzpah of the "Old" Avid. And the offerings now have opened up the company and its products. There's much more that has to be done, but the point is AVID LISTENED and responded to its loyal (and dependent) user base.

Avid's original problem, (as it now appears to be Apple's) is that its corporate arrogance and culture deafened and blinded them to the sometimes mundane but practical needs of the marketplace. Back then it was Avid's belief that as virtual creator of the nonlinear editing market it just knew better than we, the users. That vulnerability opened it up to the young, hip magic of Apple and the one-flavor-fits-all of FCP.

Now, similarly, in today's scenario, it's Apple's culture of dictating change for all, changing the rules and paradigms with impunity and, now, answering the furor with corporate silence. It is and has been Apple's big flaw.

It's ironic that in 1984 the same company, Apple, would introduce the Mac to the world (with the amazing Ridley Scott commercial featuring a young woman destroying an Orwellian vision of a world - a dictatorial groupthink society of grey PC followers), would themselves be dictating the future in their own inflexible groupthink, offering no chance of choice in how FCP X is used in a broadcast environment.

Just one year later, in 1985, the Coca-Cola Company was also silent about its new product: New Coke, at least for a while. Ironically, just as original formula Coke hoarders had surfaced then, stockpiling as much original product as possible, today there is a run on copies of FCP 7, with prices rising rapidly after many realized they couldn't get their job done with FCP X...at least not in its current incarnation. And with six months to the next revision (at last report), facility owners are in a bind.

Apple has announced that FCP 7 is "end-of-life," and is being put to bed. No updates, no fixes. Yes, that FCP 7, the dependable tool of leagues of personal and professional users and facilities with features that might not be seen as cutting edge to the Apple cognoscenti - things like multicam, ingest from and output to tape, (Tape is dead, according to Apple, only the tens of thousands of broadcast, educational and corporate users in the real-world didn't quite hear that probably deafened by the sounds of tape machines whirring around them). Also, what about the basic ability to take in projects from earlier versions; a staple in the ever-upgrading video business?

It's the same arrogance that took Blu-ray off the map for Apple and put it into the hands of third-party add-ons, despite the fact that Blu-ray is flourishing. It seems it's the same third-party vendors that Apple is depending on to make FCP X "Pro" again - Kona, Automatic Duck, Matrox and the like.

Other arguments are Apple doesn't care about the professional market. iMovie aficionados love FCPX according to Apple's own Website.

It seems a lot of Kool-Aid drinkers in the Apple camp are now waking up to the realities that their hip mega-company (black tee-shirts and all) made a mistake of historic proportions. But one wonders:  given the company of Ipads, Ipods, Iphones and all that cool alien technology and enough marketing savvy to take it into the corporate stratosphere: was it really a mistake?

It's not like Apple hasn't changed horses mid-stream before to change it's own direction and gobble up market share in markets of its own creation.

Could Apple have known what would happen? How could they not? There is no problem with innovation...but Apple took choice away with those innovations whether you wanted to use them or not.

Avid's major update of Media Composer to 5.0 was aimed at Final Cut users. It adopted a number of FCP-style innovations to bring back customers - multi format and active timeline, Avid Media Architecture flexibility allowing a wide use of different codecs, Smart Tools, stereo pairs. But even with all those innovations, Avid still gave Media Composer clients one thing that Apple didn't give theirs - choice.

How many users were complaining about dual window setups? How many hated multiple audio tracks? When did anyone say, "I don't need no stinkin' audio export or multicam capability, machine control or external monitoring? These were decisions made in the heightened stratosphere of Cupertino and in the vacuum of real-world necessities, as if television production didn't really need all this stuff.

Obviously the game isn't over...one thing Apple/FCP users are is dedicated and tenacious. But, for now, the playing field is wide open for Avid, Adobe and anyone else that really wants to put their hat into the broadcast ring.

We're still waiting to see if Apple's decisions decimated their pro market or whether they just simply wanted out of it, but they have to admit that there's one thing they may not get back - the trust and respect of its multitude of users and partners. To take a politically incorrect saying: The Fat Lady Has Yet To Sing in this story.

If anyone remembers, the answer for Coca-Cola all those years ago was to reinstate the Original Coke alongside the "New" Coke. Could we see the same?

It's going to be interesting to watch this continue to unfold.

Jonathan Moser is currently editing the game show Scream if You Know the Answer for The Travel Channel, using Media Composer. He has also worked on Making the Band 2 and Making a Super Model and Dateline for six years. You can email Jon at flashcutter@yahoo.com and visit his Website at WWW.JONATHANMOSER.NET

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