Current Issue
April 2016

Recent Blog Posts in April 2013

April 25, 2013
  NAB 2013: Wrap Up & Top Picks
Posted By Heath Firestone
I decided to do things a little different this year. The last two NAB's I've done a video blog, focusing on just a few noteworthy NAB releases. But this year, I decided to go back to a written blog, and just do one longer NAB wrap-up, focusing on a longer list of products.  

This year, the theme of NAB seemed to be 4K, but a lot of NAB seems to be focused on releasing similar, but improved versions of existing products. We also got to see working versions of products, which were announced last NAB. It also seemed to be more focused on eliminating rolling shutter issues in camera. With Sony's release of the F55 with global shutter a couple of months ago, others are following suit, with Blackmagic Design announcing their global shutter 4K Production Camera, and Red adapting an LCD shutter add on, called the Red Motion Mount.  

Here are the highlights from a few of the booths I visited.


Atomos released a new version of the Samurai Camera Mounted Recorder, called the Samurai Blade, which improves over the Samurai by offering S-Log and C-Log Recording, full size BNC connectors and a higher resolution 1280 x720 touchscreen monitor with waveform monitor, vectorscope, zoom, and adjustments.  One of the cool things about the Atamos recorders, is they aren't limited to SSD media, but also support recording to 2.5" HDD drives, which are fast enough for ProRes and DNxHD recording.  This is significant since you can use inexpensive 2.5-inch hard drives, and treat them more like tape, putting them on a shelf when you are done, for short term archive, instead of having to transfer the files off like with expensive SSD media.  They were also showing the new AC version of the Connect HDSDI to HDMI and HDMI to HDSDI converters.  


Convergent Design was showing off their very cool Odyssey 7 monitor/recorder.  I was very impressed by this little monitor. One great feature is a different kind of focus assist in addition to the usual.  This focus assist uses edge detection, and looks a lot like a difference matte. It shows much more detail at the center of the focus range, really standing out as you roll focus through the depth of a person's hair, for example. It's hard to describe, but really cool to see.   

The Odyssey 7 has a great looking 7.7-inch Touch Screen, with lots of menu controls. It also has two HDSDI inputs, and one HDMI, and the same outputs, but what is really cool, is that they have conversion capabilities, so if you feed into the SDI, you can spit out HDMI, or if you are feeding HDMI from something like a DSLR, you can spit out HDSDI.  They also have timecode I/O, which is really useful with the recording functionality of the monitor. If you have an external timecode generator, this gives you a professional feature addition to cameras which you might be shooting with that don't have that feature.  It also has dual SSD slots, which can be configured to run in RAID 0 or RAID 1 configurations, so mirrored, or spanned. It also has Android and iPhone remote control, and will support Avid DNxHD, ARRIRAW, and Canon 4K Cinema Raw, with the additional purchase or rental of those codecs.  

Without codecs, it is priced at $1,295, and I believe they said it will be available in July. The Odyssey 7Q, is the quad version of this with four HDSDI connections, configurable as input or output, and it has quad view.  It will also do simultaneous proxy recording and up to 120fps recording of RAW DNxHD compressed. 


Decimator Design was showcasing their new MD-CROSS, which is a little different than the MD-DUCC, in that it supports HDSDI to HDMI, and vice versa, has an LCD menu, and an extensive Test Pattern Generator, all in one. What makes this stand out from other HDSDI to HDMI converters, is that it handles framerate conversion as well, meaning that it can convert whatever framerate you are dealing with to something your monitor can handle, which is very useful. It also does up and down conversion, and a bunch of other stuff, all for under $700. It is definitely one of those things that can save you in a pinch.


Blackmagic Design was showing their new phone sized camera, called the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, which is very similar to the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, but has HDMI output instead of HDSDI, and only shoots up to 1920 X 1080, to either ProRes or Cinema DNG RAW compressed, all for $1,000, and available in July.  They also showed their 4K camera which is $4,000, due around the same time, sporting a Super 35mm sensor that has a global shutter, making it an exciting future option.


Matrox was showing a couple of cool new products. The first is the Monarch, which is a stand-alone box, which is really pretty small, which has the capability to input from HDMI and stream to H.264 while simultaneously capturing to H.264 on an SD card, or to the two USB ports, or even to network attached storage. It supports up to 30Mbps for capture, and up to 20Mbps for streaming. Control is through a Web interface over the LAN. It can also be used for video monitoring over the local network with under a second delay, which can be very useful since HDMI is difficult to run long distance. It comes in at under $1,000, and should be available in July. They were also showing their 4K playback card, called the Mojito 4K. It allows full 4K playback, but requires a beefy machine to handle it.


Autodesk has continued to refine Smoke's interface, listening to editors, and making sure that they are whitling away at the learning curve, and making the interface more and more intuitive. They had a huge response to their open beta, and refined the experience to mesh with what editors from other platforms expect, so there is an easy transition.  For people like me, who come from an effect heavy background and always hated having to switch back and forth between their compositing application and their editor, having more power than Combustion, and an awesome editor, combined into one, is a dream.

Make it easy to learn or transition to, and affordable, and I can't ask for much more, except to make it work seamlessly with my 3D graphics app (which happens to be Maya). It seems like Autodesk is listening to guys like me. No revolutionary announcements, but sometimes making things easier and more practical is the best improvement you can make. I'm sold. They also announced support for Blackmagic products, so you now have options on the hardware side as well.  


Adobe is currently offering their Cloud subscription service for $30/month for the first year, something that was reserved for owners of older suites. The cloud service seems to be highly confusing, but once you understand it, it will be hard for you to want to go back, I'll explain. When you are subscribed to the service, you automatically get access to the entire Master Suite, as downloads. You also are kept up to date with the latest releases. When you do the math, it doesn't make sense to purchase the software anymore. It is one situation where leasing makes way more sense than buying.  

They also made some drastic changes to the Windows timeline, which while it takes a little getting used to, saves lots of clicks, making editing quite a bit faster, so lots of productivity enhancements. SpeedGrade has some new functions for matching color from one shot to another, which is really slick, impressive, and promises to be one of my most used functions, especially for multicam shoots using different make and model cameras. I wish I'd had this capability on a lot of my past projects.


AJA announced that they will no longer do pre-release announcements, meaning, when you hear about something new, it will be shipping. It's a cool idea, and after the disasters like Blackmagic had with delays to shipping the Cinema Camera, and Red has had with most of their announcements, this might be a welcome policy. 

They are shipping the KiPro Quad, which really is a cool device, and has some really nice features like built in down conversion, and is just really built solidly. It looks like something that will withstand the rigors of years of production abuse. They also have a cool new Region of Interest or ROI device, which takes DVI or HDMI input, and spits out HDSDI. It is only intended to work with computers, not cameras, and is designed to allow you to spit out a high quality up-converted, genlockable Region of Interest output, so broadcasters can easily incorporate windows, or stuff like windowed YouTube streams into their pipeline.  They also have a new Hi5 Quad converter, which takes in four HDSDI inputs (4K), and spits out 4K HDMI, or it can just act as a HDSDI to HDMI converter (though an expensive one).


The Foundry made a couple of interesting announcements. For NukeX users with up-to-date maintenance, they now get two Nuke Assist licenses, allowing two stripped down versions of Nuke to be used per NukeX license, similar to an on-line/off-line edit setup. You can have two people doing the grunt work, who don't need all of the full capabilities of NukeX, and have one finisher, who polishes it, and brings it up to the level it needs to be, utilizing the more advanced features of the program. Cool idea, but pricing for NukeX and annual maintenance isn't for the faint of heart, and seems to be one of the frustrations of many of its users. No doubt, it is a great program, and extremely powerful, though, and for a lot of applications, has become the industry standard.  


Wacom was showing their new 13-inch Cintiq, which has several improvements over its predecessor. It has a full 1920 X 1080 resolution HD display, is thinner and lighter than the previous model, and doesn't get hot or have a massive power supply either.  It is a sleek tablet, whose kickstand acts as a cover, and seems to be a very useful size. It also comes in at under $1,000.


The only real news with GoPro, is that they are working on a 3D kit for the GoPro Hero3, which should be coming out soon.


One of the products I was most excited about was the new IS-Mini, which is an on-set grading tool... or so I thought. I was a little confused because I was being shown how it works in conjunction with the IS-100 CCBOXX. In conjunction with the CCBOXX, this little $1,300 converter brings in HDSDI, and spits out HDSDI and HDMI.  

It does two functions, which is that it applies a color calibration, so that all monitors match, and grading done to that monitor will be to an accurate monitor, and it can apply a LUT or Look to the corrected image. This made me really interested, especially since some cameras like the Blackmagic Cinema Camera only output the crushed image to HDSDI when recording in RAW mode, so this would allow you to see a rough on-set grade, so you can get a feel for what it will look like when graded. I also saw Fujifilm's I-Pad app, which allows you to adjust your grade. This was all very exciting for a great price... but unfortunately I got it wrong.  It is true that it applies a LUT or Look, and calibration color correction, however it doesn't come with the ability to create that LUT or Look.

The IPad app I saw was for the CCBOXX. This is a very powerful combo, but the CCBOXX, which does some other cool stuff, costs closer to $30,000 configured, making it more of a rental option. Also, I wasn't sure how it did the color correction for the monitor. I was hoping it would have a series of test patterns and visual printouts to match to, as a poor man's calibration tool, but instead it works with a colorimeter. This is great for accuracy, but also pretty expensive. So, this is part of a high-end device, and not as useful on its own. It is too bad Fujifilm doesn't develop a less function version of the color correction app, and offer a poor man's calibration option, or this thing would probably fly off the shelf. It may still have some use for the grading purpose, though with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera.  I believe you can dial in a Look in camera, which is carried in the video stream sent to the HDSDI.  f this is correct, it is possible that this little box could convert the crushed image into a viewable output with rough onset grading. 

There is no doubt this box has potential, the real question is whether Fujifilm will recognize the potential market, or if they will be concerned about competing with the CCBOXX if they add this functionality.   


Sennheiser was showing off their relatively new MKE 600 microphone (it's been shipping since September, but it was new to me), which is designed for DSLR use. It is shorter than the highly regarded ME 66, but similar in design, but really made to work better with DSLR's.  In particular, I like the shock mount, which is much more compact and easy to work with than most, and can fit in a hot shoe mount or has threading on the bottom if you want to mount it to a magic arm. It also has a short, coiled mini to XLR adapter option, internal battery to power it if you don't have phantom power, and low cut filter.  So, it is basically an ME 66 redesigned to work with DSLR's, for about $400. Very cool!  


I wasn't sure what to expect from Think Logical, especially when Bob Ventresca told me they are a KVM over fiber, up to 40 Kilometers, in length. I wasn't sure why I would need a KVM over fiber, but as I got talking to him, I came to understand, that this isn't just a KVM, but rather long distance transmission of modular components, which carry Keyboard, Video, and Mouse, and just about everything else you can think of, from RS232, to quad HDSDI for 4K, all over fiber, through some of the fastest routers in the world. So, if you have a building with massively powerful machines, they can be controlled as though they were under your desk, even though they may exist in a temperature controlled environment in a building across campus, which could definitely be useful.


Microsoft announced that will be using Azure, Microsoft's cloud service for streaming and on-demand for their NBC Sports, NBC Olympics, and GolfChannel. Azure is an impressive cloud storage service, and had been specially adapted for the purpose of rendering massive projects, which it has done for Pixar in the past.  Also, on display was the SurfacePro tablet, which I get a little excited about because it is one of the few Windows based tablets which utilizes the Wacom technology, allowing for 256 levels of touch sensitivity. Also, being Windows-based, means it can be used as tablet within professional drawing and compositing applications.  Plus it costs about the same as a 13-inch Wacom tablet, and while it isn't as large, and doesn't have some of the professional features, it is an awesome tablet that you can sketch on.


It was definitely a great NAB, with too much to see, and too little time. I saw a lot of stuff I am really excited about, and can't wait to get my hands on. 

Here is a list of my Top 7:
1 - Matrox Monarch stand alone MPEG2 streaming and capture device  
2 - Convergent Design Odyssey 7 monitor/recorder 
3 - Blackmagic Production 4K Camera, which now has a proper Super 35 sized sensor, with the reasonable $4K price tag.  
4 - Decimator Design MD-CROSS Up/Down/Cross/Frame-rate Converter.  Now has an LCD screen, HDMI input, and their extensive test pattern generator built in, and still under $700.
5 - Adobe Cloud Version "Next."  I love the cloud-leased software idea, and a lot of the new features of the upcoming Creative Suite.
6 - Autodesk Smoke, all the power of Smoke as an editor and compositor package, now easy to use and learn.  That's pretty awesome.
7 - Atamos Samurai Blade monitor and recorder.  S-Log, Waveform Monitor & Vecrtoscope, can record to ProRes or DNxHD, onto SSD, or more significantly, standard 2.5" HDD, so much cheaper to capture to, and can be used more like tapes, rather than having to clear them off like an SSD.

Honorable Mention - Fujifilm IS-Mini, not for what it does, which is awesome when paired with the IS-100 CCBOXX, but for the potential it has as a standalone device if they decide to develop it in that direction.

Heath Firestone is a Writer/Producer/Director/Editor with Firestone Studios LLC. He has a strong background in 3D compositing and digital effects and owns one of the most advanced virtual production studios in the industry. Heath is constantly creating new ways of making really dynamic and engaging shots, utilizing visual effects... to enhance the story, not distract from it. He can be reached at:
Continue reading "NAB 2013: Wrap Up & Top Picks" »

Permalink | Comments(0)
April 17, 2013
  Editing Storage in the Production Pits
Posted By Tom Coughlin
By Tom Coughlin
Coughlin Associates

Digital storage is a big part of the NAB show.  All that content has to be kept somewhere. Post production, including nonlinear editing, requires a lot of storage and with performance characteristics that are very different from most computer storage applications.  

The NAB has several activities going on with a post production focus.  The HPA had a post production pit in the back of the lower South Hall and Digital Production Buzz (who has a great radio program covering all aspects of post production) was doing radio interviews during the NAB show. 

Atto Technology was demonstrating a digital workflow with HP and Red at the NAB show, editing Red footage with Adobe Premiere Pro over an HP Fibre Channel network and utilizing the Quantum StorNext file system. Atto Fibre Channel Host Bus Adapters (HBAs) and Express SAS HBAs were being used in several other exhibits throughout the South Hall.  In addition to Fibre Channel and SAS connectivity Atto plays an important role in Thunderbolt infrastructure to support many other storage companies.

 EditShare introduced a second generation of its Field mobile storage system (the Field 2, pictured below, left). This storage device, small enough to fit on the overhead baggage on an airplane, provides a portable complete, end-to-end digital workflow with tools for remote collaboration. With this device users can record up to two channels of HD in familiar codecs (XDCAM-EX35, DNxHD, DVDProHD and others). The device allows for edit-while-capturing with EditShare's Flow software. The device can scale up to 24 Terabytes using 3.5-inch and 2.4-inch HDDs and SSDs, including 10k SAS HDDs. And the EditShare Sync Tool allows users to send data from a remote location back home using a simple Internet VPN connection. In addition to the Field, EditShare produces a 60-bay high density storage system providing up to 240 TB of storage, four of which can be connected to a Geevs server to provide up to 960 TB of storage, including LTO tape backup.

Facilis (picture, below, right) premiered their TerraBlock v5.7 and introduced SyncBlock.  SyncBlock manages archive, backup and synchronization for direct attachment to the TerraBlock Shared Storage Sytsem.  SyncBlock include single and library LTO 5 products and include HDDs providing from 8 to 64 TB of storage.  The SynchBlock packages allow automatic archive, backup, synchronization, mirroring and transport of file media ingested into a TerraBlock. The TerraBlock supports 4 Gb/s to 16 Gb/s Fibre Channel and 1 GB and 10 GB Ethernet connectivity. The TerraBlock v5.7 now supports 4 TB HDDs, 16 Gb/s Fibre Channel and also provides ATTO ThunderLink support.  Drive recovery time is improved by 50 precent and its can capture DPX files to multi-user Write volumes.  The latest Apple and Windows post production software are supported.

Hitachi GST debuted its Evolution series of storage devices. These feature interchangeable and up to 1 TB  expandable storage modules that can be used as stand alone external USB 3.0 HDDs (the G-Drive ev PLUS) or in 6 Gb/s SATA docking stations to provide more storage options such as RAID 0, RAID 1 or JBOD as well as Thunderbolt connectivity.  The G-Drive ev PLUS storage modules provides data rates up to 250 MB/s and this can be even higher in the docking stations.  We should expect more developments with the Evolution products as time goes on.

LaCie (now part of Seagate Technology) has a full line of Thunderbolt external storage products for Mac and PC, including vary fast SSD products as well as mobile and desktop storage. They have also expanded their NAS Pro line-up. JMR displayed additions to their SilverStor Desktop storage systems. These products provide SATA/SATA JBOD and RAID storage with Thunderbolt support offering 700 MB/s data rates with up to 100 TB on the standard product and supporting 100's of TB with expansion chassis.  These products also support PCIe expansion, including PCIe SSDs.

There were a large number of other storage companies providing, Flash Memory, HDD, optical and tape based storage systems for post-production, archiving and play-out applications. These were mostly clustered in the lower South Hall mostly but with some located in other places, such as the North Hall. There must be more than 40 companies showing various storage (and related) solutions for post production and special effects; including Aberdeen, Amplidata, Avere, Avid, Chelsio, Exadata, Panasas, Small Tree, Tiger and many others, including those mentioned in our earlier blogs.

With the LG announcement of NCAA Final Four captured in 4K as an Ultra HD TV demonstration it is obvious that the amount of storage and bandwidth required for today and future post production workflows is increasing rapidly. With the support of the digital storage community serving the M&E industry these needs will be met, enabling a new generation of immersive consumer experiences.
Continue reading "Editing Storage in the Production Pits" »

Permalink | Comments(0)
April 15, 2013
  Wrapping Up the 2013 NAB Show
Posted By Larry Jordan
By Larry Jordan

Any NAB Show is too massive to be summarized in a single blog post. This show represents the current state of a multi-billion dollar industry composed of thousands of wildly different companies. I enjoy walking the halls just to learn about gear that I never use - like helicopters, transmission towers, and radio playout servers. NAB is a very cool place.

Still, in our part of the industry, there is lots of stuff going on. Here are my thoughts, in no particular order.

We now have the technological ability to do just about anything we can imagine; in fact, we can even do things that most of us can't even imagine. Technology is no longer the gating factor of creativity. Yes, we can make tech go faster. Yes, we can make it easier to use. Yes, we can create still more eye-popping effects. But, we have NEVER had the range of story-telling tools and technology for every possible budget as we do today.

The industry is still feeling the crunch of hard economic times. Major manufacturers are lowering prices on key software. The time between upgrades is stretching out. Technology is no longer a gating factor, but budgets and deadlines are crunched like never before. Teams are disappearing in favor of the one-man-band; this has good and bad ramifications throughout the industry.

Partnerships are increasing. I was struck by the number of partnerships announced between companies. Pooling resources seems more attractive than competing in today's market.

AJA made the obvious point that sometimes the emperor has no clothes. AJA announced that they would only talk about products that were shipping. In contrast, Panasonic was talking about a 4K monitor that won't ship until October. Why not announce this at IBC in September, I asked? Because, they said, not everyone travels to Europe. Sigh...

The word "3D" has disappeared. Last year it was everywhere. This year it is gone.

The NEW word is "4K," as in 4K images. (Though this term is somewhat vague and encompasses two different resolutions: 4,096 x 2,160 pixels or 3,840 x 2,160 pixels.) Personally, I think 4K is similar to 96k sample rates in audio. Useful for creating massive marketing excitement, but practically useful to less than 10% of the total market.

Red stepped up their resolution to 6K, with a camera surgical theater in their booth to replace old sensors with new ones.

Hitachi was showing an 8K camera, with Japan's NHK announced broadcast support for 8K images coming later in this decade. 8K? Sheesh!! Uncompressed 8K video requires somewhere around 2.1 GB per second - which is TWICE as fast as the current Thunderbolt, and faster than Thunderbolt 2.0, which was announced at NAB by Intel.

NOTE: Though Intel needs to simplify its certification process if it EVER expects Thunderbolt to be successful. Far too many devices are lingering in certification limbo. At some point, if Intel doesn't speed up, key vendors will stop playing Intel's game. And that would be bad for all of us.

Blackmagic Design announced two more Cinema cameras: Production 4K and Pocket Cinema. As usual, their low prices leave you gasping for breath. The key is whether they can ship them within our lifetimes. BMD is saying July.

Let's put all this advanced resolution in perspective. According to studies done by Panavision, in order to see the increased resolution afforded by 4K images projected in a theater, you would need to sit in the first six rows of that theater, in other words, closer to the screen than one-half the screen height. I suspect that means we need to pull the couch EXTRA close to that 4K monitor in the living room... (Like the ones announced by Sony, Sharp, and Panasonic at prices that rival high-end BMWs.)

Higher resolution images allow creating "ROI," or "Regions of Interest." For example, an 8K camera with the appropriate lens, sitting on the 50-yard line can see the entire field from goal line to goal line. The resolution of this camera is so great, that we can create windows, or ROIs, into that massive 8K image. Then, we can follow the action, not by panning the camera, but by panning the ROI as the runner moves down the field.

What seems to be coming is a time when cameras don't move. Instead, we create "Ken Burns effects" within an extremely high-resolution image to create the framing and movement that we need.

HD cameras are now microscopic in size with great image quality. Not just the GoPro Hero 3, but cameras built into cell phones and sunglasses. We are starting to live in a world where cameras are both invisible and everywhere.

Granted, this allows us to create very cool images that were impossible only two years ago. But it also raises massive privacy concerns. How do you negotiate a deal, resolve a conflict, or have a private conversation when cameras are ubiquitous? Reality TV not withstanding, some things are meant to be private.

Turning more specifically to the world of post-production:
The release of Avid Media Composer 7 and its related price drops not withstanding, Avid seems to be struggling to define what it is in the market. I don't have as good contacts at Avid as I do at Adobe and Apple, but the feeling I'm getting is that the word "beleaguered" can be applied.

Adobe is everywhere. Adobe has seized on the current confusion in the market place with both hands and is aggressively leveraging their Creative Suite products to fill the void. The announcement of Adobe Anywhere allowing collaboration between editing team members without regard to geographic location has the potential to transform the entire collaborative process of editing.

Apple's Final Cut Pro X software was visible at the show, with new software, hardware, and alliances announced from a variety of companies. In fact, the week before NAB, Apple announced that it has sold more seats of FCP X than of FCP 7. But, FCP X seems to be playing in a different market than the NAB crowd. Not better, not worse. Just different.

NOTE: Apple is still offering encouraging words that a new MacPro is still coming later this year. "When," not "if," is the key word. Specs and timing are totally unknown. My feeling is that Apple is constrained by an availability of the right chips; but that doesn't lessen the pain.

* Autodesk is revitalized. They may still be at the high-end of the price spectrum, but they are doing everything they can to become relevant to the broad market. The release of Smoke 2013 began a trend they continued into NAB with the announcement of the new 2014 Creation Suite shows that they are not willing cede their market to others.

* The big booths get all the attention, but the cool stuff lurks in the corners. A very cool plug-in for FCP X is SliceX, a collaboration between Core Melt and Imagineer Systems. This automated rotoscoping tool allows you to select a region of any shape within an image, then motion track it for the duration of the clip. Very, very cool.

* Another cool discovery was Quiver, a flat-fee-based aggregator that is designed to process and deliver your films for sales on iTunes, Google, and other media platforms. I was impressed with what these folks are doing.

Larry Jordan is a producer, director, editor, author, and Apple Certified Trainer with more than 35 year's experience. Based in Los Angeles, he's a member of the Directors Guild of America and the Producers Guild of America. Visit his website at

Continue reading "Wrapping Up the 2013 NAB Show" »

Permalink | Comments(0)
April 15, 2013
  NAB 2013: Dispatches From A Young Editor
Posted By Troy Mercury
A funny thing happened on the way to the 2013 NAB exhibition floor.  As a first-time NAB attendee, I was expecting to be blown away by the outrageous displays of cameras, sound equipment, editing software, and wall-to-wall 4K displays. Instead, I was blown away by something much less ostentatious yet somehow more profound and pervasive. Was it the rare sight of interaction and cooperation between the production and post communities? Was it the realization of the size and scope of the industry I am part of? Was it the unbelievably poor selection of food and drink? It was none of these.

It started on Sunday, during the Post-Production World training sessions, which were wonderful and informative.  As I went from room to room, session to session, I could feel something was off and I couldn't quite put my finger on it. This feeling lasted for most of the day until I attended a keynote presentation called "From Concept to Delivery: The Fusion of New Media and Storytelling." As I waited for the speakers to take the stage, I noticed the large monitors both left and right displaying all the speakers and educators for NAB's 2013 Post Production World. While this wasn't the exact picture it looked something like this:  

Does anything seem strange about this picture? It took me a couple head-turns to figure out also, so take your time. If you guessed, "no women," then you win the prize. Now, the picture that was displaying at the keynote did have some women in it and from what I could make out, maybe 5 or 6 of about 50-60 people.  This struck me in 2 ways. 

First, I work as an editor for a small/medium post house in New York City. We work on everything from commercials to films and handle editorial through finishing. At jumP, I work with lots of women on a daily business spanning all occupations; executive producers, editors, assistant editors, Flame artists, After effect artists, designers, partners, etc...So due to my personal work experience it  was quite shocking to see A) so few female trainers/speakers and B) So few female attendees (in relation to how many men I saw). It was very unexpected and it didn't match the reality that I am used to.  Perhaps my work experience is unique, but I would venture a guess there are many more women in the industry than are represented at NAB.  

Secondly, and more importantly, is how this impacts the business we are in. Now during the keynote, the discussion revolved around workflows, 4K content, Vimeo and Youtube delivery, NLE choice, and all the things you would expect professionals to be discussing at this year's NAB. What wasn't really discussed was the nature and quality of the content and, in particular, how it relates to potential audiences.  We all tell stories in this business.  How well can we do if the stories we are putting out there aren't actively engaging 50% of our audiences?  The lack of women in leadership roles (despite women being very prevalent in the industry) that I saw reflected at NAB does no favors to anyone in our industry. 

There is a huge demand for more content and huge downward pressure to reduce costs in our industry. There are numerous ways to view content, from movie theaters to mobile phones, and every opportunity to reach new audiences should be embraced.  We will not reach those audiences unless as an industry we have a diverse set of people leading the way.  In many ways, this reminds me of our politics here in the US, where a younger generation is usually way ahead its leaders. I believe that younger audiences will not care what they watch their stories on, what resolution they are shown at, whether it is 24 or 48 frames per second or what NLE they were cut on. 

They will care if the stories relate to them and move them. Until we understand that, I see continued disruption to the all of our business models.

 Troy Mercury is an editor at NYC's Jump (
Continue reading "NAB 2013: Dispatches From A Young Editor" »

Permalink | Comments(0)
April 11, 2013
  How To Do NAB In 2 Days!
Posted By Katie Hinsen
With 92,414 attendees, plus exhibitors, press, staff and special guests, this year's show is huge. The LVCC is over 2 million square feet of indoor exhibit space. That's a lot of exercise for both the feet and the senses.

So with only two days on the floor, I approached this like I do a typical edit. 

Firstly, I planned and scheduled. I got as much information I could, drank a lot of coffee and loosely considered my goals as I might look at my deliverables. Time was fixed, and the content was great, so I had to figure out how to squeeze a decent coherent experience out of something with an impossible shooting ratio. The start and the end were important. Key points in between were important, and montages of the rest of the pretty things could be squeezed in around all of that.

I focused on the message, trying not to be tempted by the halls and booths that were not post focused. Cameras and microphones and trucks and antennae are cool, but a distraction. I looked over the conference sessions and had to be tempted away from things I knew I would be amused by, but were not necessary to attend. 

I loaded my calendar with more bookings, sessions, talks and plans than I could ever manage, only so that if I found myself with a spare few minutes, no time would be wasted. There was always somewhere to be. I spent most of my time in the South Hall with post production, attended two conference sessions and did a quick lap of the other halls just in case there was something I had missed. I can't go to to a show without checking out NHK and Fraunhofer Institute, as they have the most imaginitive and astounding technology that has me imagining what I'll be dealing with in the future. But my focus on the South Hall was important. 

I had to check out Avid, and they do have the only cloud-based workflow that I can actually see myself using anytime soon. MC7 comes out in 8 weeks time, and in 7 weeks we can download a demo. Here's what it looks like, to have your timeline up online in a web browser.

If you have Avid installed, you can use the full software and just link to your Isis (the old Unity) server media and it streams pretty fast, holding frames in RAM.

I got very excited about Baselight Editions at IBC, now it's fully released and they have in pre-production a mini version of the Baselight Blackboard color grading panel, called Slate.

One conference session I attended was a panel discussion on The Art of Editing. It was nice to get away from the tech of editing for a short moment. The panelists had one very interesting prediction. That 4K is this NAB what 3D was two years ago. It was true that this NAB, you were not relevant unless you had something 4K or higher on your stand, but there was a markedly smaller presence of 3D than before. Now every NLE advertises their ability to handle 4 or 5K material. The prediction was that "unlike 3D, 4K is a reality that's here to stay". It's true that with the availability of cheap high res cameras, we will be seeing more and more material coming through post that is of higher than HD source resolution.

I started NAB 2013 with a conference session about Sony's Ci cloud and their 4K consumer products. I ended NAB with a conference session about the art of editing, a nice overview of the state of the industry and reflections on the show from editors. In between, I visited important and interesting booths, played with the new post toys and occasionally amused myself with pretty toys I'll never need (like the phantom helicopter camera mount). 

How to do NAB in two days? I don't recommend trying. It was a rush, and I have arrived home in New York wondering about all the stuff I missed seeing. But it's like an edit where you have lots of material, and a tight deadline. You have to plan well, take the content you think is most important and the first idea that works. Fill in any gaps with the fun shots you can't live without and let go. Because tomorrow it's on to the next job. 

Continue reading "How To Do NAB In 2 Days!" »

Permalink | Comments(0)
April 11, 2013
  NAB 2013: The Theme is 4K
Posted By Heath Firestone
This year, the theme of NAB seems to be 4K, but a lot of NAB seems to be focused on releasing similar, but improved versions of existing products.  

Here are the highlights from a few of the booths I visited.


Atomos released a new version of the Samurai Camera Mounted Recorder, called the Samurai Blade, which improves over the Samurai by offering S-Log and C-Log Recording, full size BNC connectors and a higher resolution 1280 x720 touchscreen monitor with waveform monitor, vectorscope, zoom, and adjustments.  One of the cool things about the Atamos recorders, is they aren't limited to SSD media, but also support recording to 2.5" HDD drives, which are fast enough for ProRes and DNxHD recording.  They were also showing the new AC version of the Connect HDSDI to HDMI and HDMI to HDSDI converters, which don't use wall wart power supplies.  

Convergent Design

Convergent Design was showing off their very cool Odyssey 7 monitor/recorder.  I was very impressed by this little monitor.  It has a great looking 7.7" Touch Screen, with lots of menu controls.  It also has two HDSDI inputs, and one HDMI, and the same outputs, but what is really cool, is that they have conversion capabilities, so if you feed into the SDI, you can spit out HDMI, or if you are feeding HDMI from something like a DSLR, you can spit out HDSDI.  One of the coolest features, however, is the edge detection focus assist, which basically shows up like a black and white difference matte.  So rather than just have a red outline, you see much more detail of what is at the center of your focus, so it is much more accurate, and promises to be a favorite focus assist tool.  They also have Timecode I/O, which is really useful with the recording functionality of the monitor.  If you have an external timecode generator, this gives you a professional feature addition to cameras which you might be shooting with that don't have that feature.  It also has dual SSD slots, which can be configured to run in RAID 0 or RAID 1 configurations, so mirrored, or spanned.  It also has Android and iPhone remote control, and will support Avid DNxHD, ARRIRAW, and Canon 4K Cinema Raw, with the additional purchase or rental of those codecs.  Without codecs, it is priced at $1295, and I believe they said it will be available in July.  The Odyssey 7Q, is the quad version of this with four HDSDI connections, configurable as input or output, and it has quad view.  It will also do simultaneous proxy recording and up to 120fps recording of RAW DNxHD Compressed. 


Fujifilm was demonstrating their new IS-Mini On-Set Preview and Monitor Calibration tool for $1300.  It's a small little box, which has HDSDI in and out and HDMI output.  It has some really cool functionality when paired with IS100 CCBOX, color corrector, but I'm going to focus on what it does as a stand-alone product.  The first thing it does, is work as a monitor calibration tool, which allows you to set up your monitor to show accurate color.  This is great because you know that what you are coloring to, is what it will look like when it is displayed on professional equipment, regardless of what you are using.  This also means that if you use one of these on each of your monitors, they will all have very similar colorimetry, whether they are professional OLED displays, or consumer LCDs.  It also allows you to view Log or Look previews, to a calibrated monitor, and using an iPad interface, you can dial in onset looks.  It's a very cool tool and idea, and extremely useful, for both onset monitoring, and for post applications.

There's a lot more to talk about, but you'll have to wait for my next blog.

Heath Firestone is a Producer/Director at Firestone Studios LLC. He can be reached at:
Continue reading "NAB 2013: The Theme is 4K" »

Permalink | Comments(0)
April 11, 2013
  NAB 2013: Is Your Archive Active?
Posted By Tom Coughlin
Since professional video content has long time economic value, archiving has a recognized economic return.   As the resolution, frame rates and total amount of captured video content increase the amount of digital storage needed increases as well.  This trend is expected to continue in the future leading to a steady accumulating archived storage capacity.  Since video archives are likely to be accessed to monetize the content these archives are more often than not active rather than passive.  This means that the time to access the content is much shorter than a traditional passive archive.

There are a number of storage devices that are used for active video storage archiving.  These include hard disk drives (HDDs), magnetic tape and optical discs. For various reasons some archivists prefer one type of storage technology more than another.  Also, in the same active archive multiple storage devices may be used to provide the right blend of write as well as read performance and cost.  In fact there are even archive systems that use flash memory or DRAM as a layer of very fast caching storage.  It is common to use HDDs as a cache for content that eventually will be stored in digital magnetic tape.

Many companies at the 2013 NAB show were showing LTO tape archiving technology.  The latest rev of the LTO digital magnetic tape specification (rev 6) provides for a 2.5 TB disk cartridge. The LTO Consortium had a popular exhibit at the 2013 NAB promoting the new LTO 6 tape standard.   LTO revision 6 as well as 5 incorporate a file system called the LTFS file system.  The LTFS file system allows LTO tapes to appear as separate storage volumes on a computer (like  an external HDD or USB storage device). LTFS also allows new options for storage systems using LTO tape.

One of the interesting developments in LTO storage in the past year is its use for on-line or cloud archive storage.  Fujifilm, the company that manufacturers most of the magnetic tape raw media, introduced the Permivault LTO tape based cloud storage in 2012.  At the 2013 NAB show the company announced that it was using the Crossroads Systems Strongbox tape archive in its Perivault archives.  The Permivault cloud archive stores customer data on their own dedicated LTO tape cartridges giving the customer the ability to control access to the individual storage devices.

Many other companies were exhibiting LTO storage products at the 2013 NAB show including HP, IBM and Quantum (some of the leading members of the LTO Alliance), Storage DNA, Oracle, and Xendata.

The Active Archive Alliance embraces all storage devices and systems offering active archive systems and had their own booth at the 2013 NAB.  The companies represented make HDD arrays storage systems, digital tape systems as well as optical disc libraries as well as the components that service these products.  This group has undergone significant membership growth over the last year as the important role of archive archives in the Media and Entertainment and other industries has increased in importance.    

Quantum had a particularly interesting combination of storage to support active archiving including LTO tape, a distributed HDD object storage systems called Lattus (using the Amplidata distributed storage technology) a performance HDD storage layer and a metadata server product which together provide general backup and access support to many parts of a modern media workflow.

There were a surprising number of optical archive products on display at the 2013 NAB show.   Both Sony and Panasonic have announced 12 disc Blu-ray disc cartridge products with storage capacities of about 1.5 TB and expandable to at least 3 TB.  Companies such as Q-Stor were showing optical disk library storage systems.  There are media and entertainment clients that prefer optical storage to digital magnetic tape archive storage.

Other interesting archive offerings included those of Front Porch Digital (FPD).  FPD has a line of SAMMA products for digitization of older analog storage formats as well as its DIVA on-line archive service.  The latest Diva 7.1 version has modularized the application and allows more rapid introduction of  new features that are making this product more useful in all layers of the video workflow.  

As digital storage content increases in resolution, frame rate and total hours of video in storage the demand for content archiving will increase both in required storage capacity as well as archive performance.  The need for access to archived content has led to a strong movement towards active archives.  Faster access to large content files has also resulted in multiple layers of storage used in today's archive systems including flash memory, HDDs, magnetic digital tapes and optical storage.

Tom Coughlin, President, Coughlin Associates is a widely respected storage analyst and consultant.  You can find out more about him at  He is the organizer of the 2013 Creative Storage Conference, June 25, 2013 in Culver City, CA, 
Continue reading "NAB 2013: Is Your Archive Active?" »

Permalink | Comments(0)
April 11, 2013
  A Flashier NAB in 2013
Posted By Tom Coughlin
While the vast bulk of digital content is stored on hard disk drives, digital tape and even optical discs; flash memory is finding its way into more and more video workflow applications. and as a result it is changing the face of storage systems and architectures.  The 2013 NAB show gave a glimpse of a faster future for content storage using flash memory.

Read and even write speed for NAND flash memory can be many times faster than HDDs and decreasing flash memory cell sizes are providing solid state storage at lower prices.  Currently flash memory minimum line widths are at about 19 nm but they will probably go to 15 nm within the next couple of years.  While narrower line widths create challenges for flash controllers to reduce cell wear the major flash controller companies seem up to the challenges.  

As the prices go down on flash memory it will become used more and more frequently in storage systems.  The prices of other storage devices such as HDDs will also decrease with time but the access time to data on rotating storage devices has created limits to storage system performance that a bit of flash memory can help overcome.  

This has resulted in faster storage interfaces, many built upon the intrinsic speed of the PCIe bus in computer systems.  At the 2013 NAB show Intel announced that the copper-based PCIe-based Thunderbolt interface is going from 10 Gb/s raw data rates to 20 Gb/s raw data rate for the next generation products (probably due out in 2014).  Earlier in the year the USB Implementer Forum announced that the USB 3.2 spec, to be released in 2013 would increase USB interface speeds from 5 Gb/s to 10 Gb/s.  

Likewise the next generation of SATA and likely SAS storage interfaces running at 12-24 Gb/s or higher will also use the PCIe bus.  These faster interfaces have been designed to take advantage of the performance of solid-state memory devices.  Faster storage devices and interfaces are encouraging storage system providers for the media and entertainment market to include some (or a lot) of flash memory in their storage architectures.

Promise Technology was showing their Pegasus J2 mobile solid-state storage device with up to 512 GB of storage capacity and sporting a Thunderbolt connection, along with many HDD-based storage products with Thunderbolt and Fibre Channel connectivity.

Solid-state memory has become the storage technology of choice for all new professional video cameras, increasingly displacing other storage media (at least for field recording).  Panasonic said that their 64 GB and 32 GB microP2 cards (an SD card form factor) for their line of professional video cameras will be available this month.  

Fusion-io was showing up in a number of booths at the NAB show.  At the NVIDIA booth the 1.6 TB ioFX card was driving four 4K displays in real time.  Systems integrators are looking to include these cards in their systems, including HP integration of the ioFX cards in their Z-series workstation products.

Toshiba debuted a new flash based content distribution system at the NAB show.  The On-Air Max Flash Flash Memory Playout Server was on display with at least two partner companies that will use the product for content delivery applications.  The flash memory in this system consists of chips on a blade rather than having an SSD based system.  Toshiba has a whole family of flash-based content delivery servers for content delivery networks (CDNs).

Many other companies exhibiting at the 2013 NAB used flash memory for caching and other acceleration applications.  These included DDN, EditShare, EMC, IBM, HP  and NetApp among many others.  On the other hand there were some exhibitors who have decided to go flash memory all the way and replace all their other storage with solid-state memory. 

CloudSigma, a cloud services provider, announced that it is replacing its HDD infrastructure for all SSD storage systems from SolidFire.  The SolidFire  storage boxes provide 26 TB of raw SSD per box and the company uses a combination of performance virtualization, deduplication and compression to provide net storage costs to CloudSigma users of $0.14/GB/month for replicated content while providing a 100% storage performance improvement and a 40% overall performance improvement.  Since with this setup storage is no longer the bottleneck to overall solution performance the company reports 25% lower CPU and RAM requirements.

Clearly solid-state memory has found a solid niche in the media and entertainment industry.  It has enabled faster storage systems and interfaces that can support higher resolution video streams and thus should increase the productivity of modern video workflows.  It is also widely used as the storage media in modern high performance professional video cameras.  From content capture through content distribution flash is providing better overall storage performance for media and entertainment applications.

Tom Coughlin, President, Coughlin Associates is a widely respected storage analyst and consultant.  You can find out more about him at  He is the organizer of the 2013 Creative Storage Conference, June 25, 2013 in Culver City, CA, 
Continue reading "A Flashier NAB in 2013" »

Permalink | Comments(0)
April 09, 2013
  NAB: In the clouds
Posted By Katie Hinsen
At a conference like this, it was pretty funny to see that at the Starbucks in the convention center, the televisions broadcasting the morning news were all different aspect ratios and none of them were correct. This one, both pillarbox and letterbox with visible VITC was my favorite.

I've been in Vegas two days, and today was my first day at the NAB Show 2013. The buzz word this year is "cloud".  

The big thing I keep hearing is "what's the most exciting thing you've seen so far, other than the new Blackmagic camera?"

I'm in post. I shouldn't really care about the Blackmagic pocket cinema camera. But I suppose all of us in post care a little bit, for two reasons. Firstly, it's a really cool toy. It's $995, it's 2.5K resolution, it's a micro 4/3, and records DNG (raw) and pro res SxS. It's a slightly less sharp version of last year's Blackmagic cinema camera but it's the size of an iPhone. Secondly, they are marketing it to students and documentary filmmakers, so in post, we will have to deal with it at some stage. So here it is.

Cute, huh? Their standard cinema camera is about to do 4K as well. 

The more interesting thing on the Blackmagic stand was of course Resolve 10.  It has over 50 new features, mostly requests from users of previous versions. 

You can now organize projects into folders. It has a new editor, and now unlimited audio layers as well as the unlimited video layers. The biggest improvements I saw, are that you can now do a bunch of things that we all wish we could do in Resolve before. Slip and slide, titling (although pretty basic), generators, and open FX plugins. You have unlimited shapes in CC mode. There's a new gradient tool, which isn't in every colorist's box. There's now a splitter mode, where you can grade R. G or B channel separately or even offset them if you're doing restoration. You can cut and paste keyframes in tracking/stabilization. Also really cool is that they have added optical flow to their retiming tools. Basically, Resolve is something many of us have in our Swiss Army Knife of tools. Now it's got a few more bits and pieces we all thought "this is an awesome program, if only it had certain features..."

Thunderbolt keeps getting better. More and more of us are seeing it in our professional world now. Exciting news, for us nerds, is that they are working on a 2.0 that is now 20Gbs up and down. Next year we will see that, and also longer thunderbolt cables. Right now we can get up to 30 meters, we're about to get 100 meters optical. And thinner- 3mm. I'm not sure that size matters to us sitting behind the desk, but the length means that we might see more thunderbolt in our edit suites. Which would be nice.

Tomorrow I'm going to see if I can break a few of the new post tools, like Avid MC7. But today, I was wandering around hearing "cloud is the latest thing for post". 

So I looked in to what that really means. 

And don't worry, the reality is "not much". All the companies asserting that their cloud solution for post is the latest game-changer, when I actually started asking questions, had little to offer.

Lots of companies have been offering cloud solutions for a while now. I've seen it used a bit for news, but most of us just use DropBox and are happy with that. Sony has announced their cloud service, called "Ci". Deluxe and Prime Focus are two companies that have been long established post houses now selling some sort of cloud solution. It's an asset, project and data management wiki with an interface for dummies. The only advantage to using one of these new services is that it keeps your production more organized in a central (virtual) place. But speakers on the "post production in the cloud" panel all admitted that no editor cares about metadata tagging enough to get it as accurate as it needs to be, and that no service will ever keep up with the size of files we keep creating. So none of these services can ever really be something we will have to deal with in the near future. It's really a good service for our producers, but it's not going to be a place where our source files live. Even our proxies are too big to be worked with online. I'm yet to see Adobe's new cloud product, I will see if it's any more exciting than this.

So post people, you'll hear all about clouds this year. Don't fret, they're just something we rarely see because we're stuck in a dark room all day. Our productions will (or at least should) start working in some sort of managed cloud platform, so the biggest change we'll see is that our production workflow management will get a bit better.  

More importantly, the free swag report. If you're at the show, there are a few company branded oversized t-shirts floating around. If you ask nicely, Deluxe has portable device chargers. Flanders is giving out a good screen cleaning kit, possibly the most valuable freebie, but if you're really special Canon has the best swag in the form of a USB stick that's a mini replica of their EOS 5D camera. The "prime lens", complete with lens cap, comes off and it's the 8 Gig USB stick part. It even has a little strap. 

For those of you not here in Vegas, your freebie is this little link to content from the Intel Studio Experience booth where they have a lot of really nerdy and interesting sessions every day.
Continue reading "NAB: In the clouds" »

Permalink | Comments(0)
April 08, 2013
  NAB 2013 is under way. It's all about 4k.
Posted By TJ Ryan
Another April, another NAB. Things got off to a wet cold start as the wind and rain ripped through monday morning set up. Nothing like seeing crazed exhibitors try to get last minute gear into the convention center and out of the rain. Blow dryers were in short supply while exhibitors attempted to dry out wet logic boards.

Last year it was 4k, 3D, cloud and thunderbolt. 2013, all the talk is about 4k workflow and the range of products available is phenominal. Looks like 4k is taking off in the way 3D didn't. All the arguments from last year still hold true. 4k is too expensive now and it's not really going to be viable till next year. Why shoot 4k when it all ends up on my ipad in the end. 4k image looks great but I can get a better looking picture shooting 2k at a higher frame rate. All true statements but it doesn't change the fact that a big transition is in store for business models across the board.

If your looking to build, expand or upgrade to 4k workflow, where do you start. Well let's start with a good work station. There are several options available. The mac pro is at the bottom of the food chain with supermicro workstations and the HP Z-series blowing the doors off apple in terms of processor speeds and PCI slots. Once you pick a work station with a fast processor and a bunch of ram - now you need fill it. You will need quite a few graphics cards depending on your workflow. Nvidia quadro is the choice for any 4k workflow. Usually starting with 1 and going up to about 4. If you go with 4 or more you will need an expansion chasis, Qubix had some new ones on display at a decent price. If you are working with RED footage then it's always nice to add in some Red Rocket cards. Now you have your workstation and your graphics cards it's time to look at a capture card. Last year at this time your choices were slim. Now everyone has a 4k card. The AJA kona 3g is always top on my list but if you are putting in a DaVinci system then you will want to go with a Black Magic Design 4K card. Next up is storage. This is were things get pricey. 8gig fiber storage is best, but there are other options like 10gig and 40gig ethernet as well as 6gig SAS. Choices will depend on your budget but there are a few reasonably priced options if you are doing a sigle workstation with direct storage and don't need a SAN. Sans Digital has a 32 TB raid for under 15k and sonnet tech can put you in a 32 TB 8g fiber raid for around 20k. Now that we have a system we will need to figure out what software we are using. Apple and Avid are still top choices for editing with the new kids on the block being Adobe. AJA wasn't too happy about being left out of the DaVinci workflow but not too worry, AJA has several cards that will work with the Adobe options and Adobe now has speed grade as part of its solutions to give you a full 4k workflow from edit to color to sound. If you are doing color correction and need a control surface there are several options. DaVinci and Pablo surfaces can range in the 30k area. That is a bit high so for smaller budget there is the Avid artist series and tangent devices.element both starting at under 2k. And finally no system is complete without a monitor. I looked at the TV Logic 4k monitor and was impressed with the new glass. Sony unveiled a 30 and 56 inch OLED professional grade monitor. Of course this one is only a prototype with a release date next year but it was nice to look at.

All in all you can put together a 4k workstation with storage and control surface for under 25K . Still a bit pricey but not so high that you have to mortgage your house. Then add in a projector or monitor and if you have some deep pockets get a nice control surface. So buy in now or start saving cause it looks like 4k will be around for a few more years. Hopefully long enough to recoop the money it will cost to build the system.
Continue reading "NAB 2013 is under way. It's all about 4k." »

Permalink | Comments(0)
April 08, 2013
  My First NAB
Posted By Tucker Corson
April 06, 2013

So I'm off to my first ever NAB and I couldn't be more excited. There is so much to look forward to in such a small amount of time! For the next three days I will be covering the National Association of Broadcasters convention floor, filled with hundreds of booths, speakers, and techies alike, which represent our industry at its technical finest. I cannot express my excitement about attending the convention and checking out all the new toys and tech coming to us this year.

A few "must see" features for me this year will be the all new Autodesk 2014 products, along with the Foundry, and the next-generation multi-screen displays that have been so popularly advertised prior to the convention. As a technical 3D artist, but also as an IT representative of Gentleman Scholar, I also look forward to the vast amount of hardware and storage possibilities at the convention. Our studio has gone through some dramatic changes in the last four months, and with these changes comes a need for adaptation. We are currently looking into larger storage options and setups, specifically with Rorke, who seem to offer an inexpensive and fast storage solution that may be a game changer for us at GS.

Above all I'm excited for the good food, fun company, and all the techno goodies I can imagine! This trip will be an amazing experience and a huge help to our technological advancement at Gentleman Scholar.

See you on the floor!

Tucker Corson is with Gentleman Scholar, a group of solution driven artists situated at the intersection of story, style and technology. They bring together experience in live-action, design and animation for commercials, music videos and film.

Continue reading "My First NAB" »

Permalink | Comments(0)
April 04, 2013
  Adobe reveals next-gen video software
Posted By Larry Jordan
By Larry Jordan

On April 4, Adobe revealed the next generation of its video software, announcing new versions of Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Audition, Prelude, SpeedGrade, Story, and Media Encoder. (If your favorite product was not on this list, don't worry, it didn't die, it just wasn't part of this announcement.)

▪    Adobe is more tightly integrating network accessibility into their projects. Not just the Creative Cloud, but the new Adobe Anywhere, which provide network-based team-oriented workflows.
▪    Everything is faster, including improved user interfaces, customization and  64-bit memory support
▪    Tighter integration between Story, Prelude, and Premiere Pro
▪    Built upon the current, familiar interface, but adding some killer new features.

In this announcement, Adobe did not announce release dates, pricing, or even final names. With the 2013 NAB Show coming up, Adobe wanted to showcase their new software, while still taking some time to wrap up development and get final versions ready to release.

Let's take a look at some of the new goodies.

Adobe announced Adobe Anywhere last January. What this provides is a collaborative environment where all media resides on a server, while editorial groups can access this same media and projects via the network.

What makes this new technology especially attractive is that editors don't have be in the same facility. In fact, Adobe stresses that this system doesn't even require proxies, while the master files remain on the server. This allows collaboration without regard to geographic boundaries. Media can be shared between different applications, run by different people, in different geographic areas; without relinking media, without transferring files and with complete version control.

For one-man-bands, this is no big deal. For workgroups, this provides a whole new definition of collaboration. Best of all, it integrated into the next version of Premiere Pro, Prelude, or After Effects. In other words, once you upgrade to the new versions of each of these, you can edit stand-alone, or with Adobe Anywhere using the same software.

The initial release of Adobe Anywhere is targeted at the Enterprise (read, large workgroups) and a PDF listing of recommended hardware can be found here:


NOTE: The only downside to Adobe Anywhere that I've seen so far is that it requires a Windows server in order to work. I am sure there will be minimum network bandwidth considerations as well.

I spend about a third of my time editing in Premiere, the rest is split between Final Cut Pro X and Final Cut Pro 7.

What impresses me most about this new version is speed. Adobe Anywhere is fully integrated. The Mercury playback engine is faster, and supports more GPUs. There is also improved support for importing Avid and Final Cut projects using AAF and XML.
Adobe has continued streamlining the user interface, with more customization is available.

Relinking missing media is faster and more intelligent. Audio control is improved, and Adobe added the Lumetri Deep Color Engine which allows adding LUTs and other color looks quickly and easily to your projects while still inside Premiere.

Audition, which has become my daily go-to audio application has seen a lot of improvement.

The entire app is now 64-bit, allowing for much larger and much faster audio projects. They've improved the interface, making is faster, easier to customize (and it was already really customizable), with more keyboard shortcuts. Favorites were beefed up with improved automation and an enhanced Favorites panel.

Two new features are amazing: Sound Remover (which reminds me of Sony Creative Software's Spectral Layers) can remove unwanted sounds from a clip, such as a siren, without removing other sounds, such as dialog. This is very, very close to magic.

The other really hot new feature is Preview Editor, which allows you to see a before and after on the same waveform, before you actually make a change. This prevents that "duh!" feeling that occurs right after you've done something stupid.

NOTE: Audition will not, initially, support Adobe Anywhere.

The big news here is a Live 3D Pipeline integration with Cinema 4D. Create a shape in Cinema 4D, bring it into After Effects for lighting, positioning, and compositing into the final effect.

On the list of improved effects is the Refine Edge tool for rotoscoping, Warp Stabilizer VFX lets you choose which object in a shot you want to stabilize (which is just WAY cool!), improved camera tracking, and a new Pixel Motion Blur.
Support for Adobe Anywhere will be added to After Effects later this year.

The big news with SpeedGrade is an improved user interface, the ability to load SpeedGrade looks into Premiere, and the ability to automatically match shots and check color continuity between scenes.

The big news with Story is integration with Prelude. You can now write your script, shoot your script, then import your script into Prelude to make finding shots using text searches a whole lot faster.

You can now assign permissions to shared scripts so that your collaborators only see, or correct, what you want them to see or correct.
Shooting scripts can be automatically generated, script syncing is faster, reports are dynamic (meaning they are adjusted on the fly as new information becomes available).

Like I said, the Adobe theme of speed is everywhere - and Story is a huge beneficiary of this.

I've already mentioned the improved integration between Story and Prelude. By combining the script text from Story with the speech recognition that Adobe migrated from  Premiere, you can quickly match text to transcript to find exactly the clips you want using text searches.

Files can now be renamed on ingest. Gone are the days when you need to figure out what "Clip 054″ actually is. Improved tagging and customized templates means less typing, but more essential clip information captured easily.

The application is now 64-bit, ingests faster and with less setup, allows you to specify where you want ingested files stored.
Prelude is also Adobe Anywhere enabled, and allows you to create a rough-cut that can be instantly sent to Premiere for editing. This allows a production assistant to create a quick selects reel, allowing the editor can concentrate on shaping those selects into a story.

Media Encoder has been updated to support the new features in these applications, but hasn't changed much from the current version.

Adobe did not mention anything about Adobe Encore in their announcements this evening. However, do not assume from this that the application is dead.

All in all, these new announcements from Adobe show that they are working VERY hard to improve the applications that most of us use every day.

I am already in the process of revising all our Adobe training and will have new training available on, or shortly after, these new applications ship.

If you are going to the 2013 NAB Show, or the Supermeet, you can see these new applications in action.

I'm looking forward to the release of the final versions. What was already good, just got a whole lot better.

Larry Jordan is a producer, director, editor, author, and Apple Certified Trainer with more than 35 year's experience. Based in Los Angeles, he's a member of the Directors Guild of America and the Producers Guild of America. Visit his website at

Continue reading "Adobe reveals next-gen video software" »

Permalink | Comments(0)
April 01, 2013
  Can you still have a career in editing?
Posted By Larry Jordan

Three emails got me thinking today. The first was from Jack Reilly, of Future Media Concepts who is organizing Post-Production World at NAB. He's asked me to host a Hot Panels session Wednesday at NAB on The Future of Editing.

The second was a YouTube comment from Ray Roman who wrote: "I recently had a dream where there was a software that analyzes all of the content and edits 'the best' outcome possible. It was a nightmare!"

The third was also a YouTube question from GambitRocks, a student who asked: "I was considering going to graduate school for Post Production Editing, but I'm really concerned about future employment prospects. It seems like video/film production is having the same problem right now. Do you have any tips or advice in regards to pursuing a career in Editing?"

And, you know, I had a hard time finding a reassuring answer to GambitRocks question.

Story-telling has been around since we first learned to talk, so I have no doubt that stories will continue long after all of us are gone. But, the ability to make a living telling stories - THAT is a much more difficult question to answer.

The opening sentence in Charles Dickens' "The Tale of Two Cities" describes editing today perfectly: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

Never have we had such incredible tools, so affordably priced, and available to as many people. That's the good news.

The reality, though, is that all these tools have opened the floodgates to so many new people that it is difficult to make a consistent living.

No one works on staff anymore; editors are primarily free-lance. I tell my students to expect to be out of work half of the time, then to work furiously to make up for it the other half. We spend as much time marketing ourselves as we do creating compelling stories. (Which is great if you love marketing; but if we loved marketing, why did we become editors?)

Budgets are a fraction of what they were even five years ago. And not just the event videographer is affected by competition from college kids working for free to establish their career. Look at the high-end financial drama with Digital Domain and Rhythm and Hues. After looking at the empty store-fronts littering Burbank, it seems like running a post-production facility is a direct line to bankruptcy.

It isn't just a case of the strong survive. Even editors with solid, network-level skills are struggling to find work.

Directors, afraid of missing a key shot, are recording 100:1, 500:1, even 1000:1 shooting ratios - generating MASSIVE amounts of material that can only be processed with platoons of low-paid production assistants, or metadata-based editing to automate the editorial process; the process that Ray Roman was lamenting.

At the mid- to low-end of the food-chain (however you decide to define it) editors are forced to compete on price, because clients, who grew up watching YouTube videos, can't tell the difference between changing shots and telling a story. And when you compete solely on price, pretty soon everyone is either working for free or leaving the business.

It used to be that editing was the springboard to a creative career that would allow you to pay your bills, feed your family and enjoy your life. Now, that idyllic vision is the province of only a few.

Collapsing budgets, exploding competition, ubiquitous tools - its enough to make someone thinking about a career in editing consider something safer, like chain saw juggling.

All this turmoil in our industry, and it seems worse now than ever before, got me wondering - is editing as a craft and an industry likely to survive for the long-term?

For me, the answer is: "I think so, but it will never be what it was."

I had a lunch meeting today with a software company that was extolling the virtues of their latest product. As the conversation wound down, I asked them why someone should buy their product, versus the competition.

They looked at me in surprise, paused a moment, and said: "Um, yeah, we need to be able to answer that."

As editors, we need to answer EXACTLY this same question: Why should someone hire you? If all we can answer is "I'm the cheapest," keep your bags packed, because you won't last very long. There is ALWAYS someone cheaper than you.

When there are no other criteria upon which to make a decision, clients will always pick the cheapest. Our job is to educate potential clients on the benefit of working with us.

What benefits do you provide that are hard to find anywhere else? What does the client get by working with you - in addition to a completed video? What skills do you have that make you unique?

Every single one of us is different - we need to emphasize how our uniqueness benefits our clients.

"But, wait!," you say. "If I do that, I'll lose jobs."

My answer to that is: "If they aren't paying you enough to live on, you don't need that job in the first place." Over the years, I've discovered that if a producer convinces you to work for them for free, they will never give you a paying gig. Why? Because they have already proven you will work for them for free.

Yes, there are times when donating your time - though not your equipment - can make strategic sense. But you can't build a career on it.

What makes you unique? What do you do different/better than anyone else? WHY SHOULD THE CLIENT HIRE YOU?

Create a clear, coherent, concise answer to that question and you have a career. Compete on price and you might as well start selling your gear on eBay to pay the rent.

As always, I'm interested in your comments.


- - -

Larry Jordan is a producer, director, editor, author, and Apple Certified Trainer with more than 35 year's experience. Based in Los Angeles, he's a member of the Directors Guild of America and the Producers Guild of America. Visit his website at

Continue reading "Can you still have a career in editing?" »

Permalink | Comments(0)