The present and future of post production business and technology | Philip Hodgetts

Archive for May 2011

Last September, in my What should Apple do with Final Cut Pro article, one of the bullet points was:

Better media and metadata management.

Right in with 64 bit, all processors used and the use of the GPU. I immediately qualified myself:

Ok, there probably aren’t that many people clamoring for better metadata management, but it’s a significant part of better media management, and crucially important for the future of automation in post production.

Then toward the end of that article, under the heading of what I thought that Apple should do, other than what everyone expected, I said:

More metadata automation. Well, part of me hopes they won’t because that’s my field, but it would be nice to see source metadata being used to auto-populate Titles or Master Templates (like iMovie for iPhone does).

Truthfully, I was indulging in some wishful thinking. I still don’t think we’ll get – at least not with Final Cut Pro X v1 – auto-populating titles or Master Templates, but I am very pleasantly surprised how far Apple have “come around to my way of thinking”.

OK, let’s call it parallel development then, as I’m fairly sure that Apple had their metadata-centric rewrite well under way by the time I was writing, but it is gratifying to have one’s position validated. For a company that didn’t really show much sign of “getting” metadata with Final Cut Pro 1-7, they have certainly embraced it for Final Cut Pro X.

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May/11

31

Video is just another form of Literacy

Video is just another form of literacy. http://www.theterenceandphilipshow.com/?p=286

In this episode of The Terence and Philip Show, the discussion revolves around the question of whether or not, “video production” is ‘just another form of literacy’. Some will make their living based on their literary abilities; others use it very peripherally to how they earn a living.

The 18 Senators Who Approve Breaking The Internet To Protect Hollywood http://tinyurl.com/3dhoqfk

Last year the pending COICA legislation failed, and the Internet released the captured breath. It would have been a disaster for open speech but now we have an even worse idea: ProtectIP.

Read the article – nothing I can say here will be any clearer. I understand there’s an issue of unauthorized distribution of content, but since no-one has ever presented a peer-reviewed study that actually demonstrates that, and the US Government Accounting Office has debunked Movie and TV Industry “reports” as being without merit or value (or accuracy) and went as far as saying that unauthorized distribution promoted the material and created net value, but that’s not a reason to break the underlying infrastructure and put responsibility on unrelated 3rd parties for the actions of people they don’t control.

Lunacy? No just Government as it’s become.

May/11

25

How has technology become so pervasive?

Recently we’ve started a regular evening walk and, being the kind of guy I am, I wanted to track how far we walked and in what time. Naturally there’s an app for that! What struck me though, is that this app tracks position and elevation: a trick that requires tracking four GPS satellites. This tiny little iPhone in my pocket is tracking signals from four different satellites – each about 20,000 miles away – while I walk!

That led to thinking about the technology and how far we’ve come in my lifetime. Technology has served me well, in particular the “Internet”.

Back in 1995 I purchased a modem for the express purposes of getting connected to the (then) Media 100 Users Group that I’d heard about at the (one and only) Sydney Media 100 User Group meeting. I was about six months into my Media 100 experience and very keen to learn more.

The other goal was less easy: connecting to AOL so I could access the After Effects group there because I heard that’s where the very best After Effects Gurus would be found.

In many ways that first email community – that eventually became the International Media Users Group today that organizes the Monday night NAB MediaMotion Ball – was my first introduction to social media. That 24K/bit modem – eventually a massive 56K/bit modem – opened up a community of like minded people across the world. That connection – low bandwidth as it was – opened the world to me. It became obvious that my propensity to digital wasn’t that way-out or unusual on the world stage, unlike my local stage where I was the only post house in Australia’s sixth largest market to be digital at that time. (Thus becoming the de facto effects house.)

It wasn’t possible to take the technology for granted back then, particularly on dial-up, but inevitably we put up our first website in late 1995, among the first 500,000 sites on the Internet.

That modem purchase has a direct connection to our decision six years later to set up our own distribution, which lead to a permanent move to the US, and to high speed, always on, Internet.

That I take for granted every day, until it’s not there when I need it! And the services and technologies that have been layered back over that basic web connection – both on my laptop and phone.

Where would we be without search engines? We’d all be working much harder, accessing a magnitude of order fewer information options. Those writing code would have to work out every nuance for themselves. If it wasn’t for the Internet (and the original 2-pop.com) we’d have each had to work out the quirks and techniques for that new Final Cut Pro software! Instead, in the way it had with that Media 100 email group, myself and the other pioneers – Josh Mellicker, Steve Martin, Kevin Monahan (a.k.a. Telly), Lisa Brenneis – could share what we learnt and help solve each others, and the rest of the growing community’s, problems and issues. We shared our knowledge long before we met.

And Wikipedia? Compared with the “best of the old” – Encyclopedias at the Library along with other reference books, a minimum of six months out of date – Wikipedia is an amazing resource. Built from people’s spare time they’d have otherwise likely squandered.

Of course, it’s not just search engines and Wikipedia. There are mapping services that I use almost every day and so much more.

But it’s the iPhone – and other similar smartphones – that really bring home to me how much technology has transformed my life. I’m a latecomer to the iPhone, waiting until the current iPhone 4 because the confluence of iPhone features that I desired, and my actual need for a smart phone hadn’t worked out well before that.

Now I carry a computer in my pocket that is more powerful than the Blue and White G3 we purchased to beta test Final Cut Pro version 1. Of course, it has editing software built on top of the all-new AV Foundation (that also powers Final Cut Pro X). Just this weekend I shot some HD video and edited on my phone!

Not to mention, the phone always knows where it is: I doubt I could get lost even in Boston (where I have managed to get lost more than once)! It tracks my walking – and gives me calories I’ve burnt along the way. It hooks into Twitter, Email, Web, Maps. I have the Square device and software, so I’m able to accept credit card payments anywhere.

Over the time I’ve been on the Internet, I’ve watched Avid’s Media Composer go from Version 4 all the way through to 5.5 (or realistically version 13 or so if we take the Adrenaline experiment into account). From low data rate proxies to full online HD, high quality video.

I’ve watched Final Cut Pro come, go and be replaced by an all new Final Cut Pro X. Camera quality has been increasing almost exponentially while dropping dramatically in price.

We’ve gone from high barriers to entry to anyone who wanted a career in creative film/TV or video production, to an open democratization that has, in some ways, gone a little too far to the “wide open, don’t need any training” direction.

The one thing I haven’t experienced in that 16 years of my digital life, is things staying the same. Change is the only constant.

There will always be change. To think that we have reached the pinnacle of any technology or industry is ludicrous. Our tools change. The techniques change. The workflows change.

And we change. We adapt. Or we find another place – another career – where we’re more comfortable.

The only change I don’t welcome is one that interferes with the freedom of the Internet, or a change that takes down the infrastructure.

Hype – HTML 5 Authoring tool. http://tumultco.com/hype/

New offering in the HTML 5 Authoring space – Hype.  Odd name but let’s get over that and hope it’s really “Substance”!

Using Hype, you can create beautiful HTML5 web content. Animations and interactive content made with Hype work on desktops, smartphones and iPads. No coding required.

I have no experience with this, but point to it as a stepping stone to wider adoption of HTML 5.

Here’s a question.  If you enter a new business into a crowded market, would you design it to be as similar to the existing competition, or would you design something different that differentiates itself in the marketplace?

Growing up in Australia in the 1960’s thru to 90’s on Saturday afternoon the average Sydneysider – the biggest city in Australia – could choose from five networks: 3 commercial (7, 9 and 10) and two Government – ABC (think PBS but Govt funded) and SBS (for multicultural entertainment). Typically two of the commercial networks and both ABC and SBS would have some sort of sport. (Soccer on SBS was very “multicultural” at the time!)

The ratings winner was the 10 network because they programmed something that wasn’t sport! Although sports were, and are, very popular, the aggregate non-sport market was bigger!

Although Media Composer wasn’t the first non-linear editing software, it was the first to capture the popular imagination of the industry. It’s interface was very comfortable for editors familiar with both Moviola and tape-based offline editing. That was probably exactly the right thing to do at the time.

At the time.

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Jonathan Coulton Making Half A Million A Year – No Record Label http://tinyurl.com/3kms62l

Jonathan has been at the forefront of those connecting with fans, and it’s working out pretty well for him. He sells his music with a Creative Commons (Some rights reserved, i.e. licensing and making money from it) so it’s impossible to pirate what’s freely exchangable.

And yet, he’s making really good money selling music, merchandise and concert tickets.

More to the point, he’s doing better than the vast majority of music acts that get picked up by the major record labels. If Coulton had signed with them, he’d be hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt!

Of course, defenders of the old system will insist that he’s an “exception,” but, really, just how many exceptions do we need until people realize that the market is changing rapidly, and those who embrace new models and new methods of distribution are finding that they can make a lot more money than they did in the past.

The comments are as interesting as the article.

I’m incredibly proud to announce that prEdit – our paper cut editing tool for Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro users – has been updated to version 1.5 with some great new features.

prEdit 1.0.x required the transcript to be generated in Adobe Premiere Pro or Soundbooth; or be processed through either of those applications to lock text to video. While prEdit 1.5 still supports that workflow, it now also works with:

Text, DOC and RTF formats that have timecode at (least) the start of each speaker. More frequent Timecode entries will make the text/video match more accurate.

3Play Media’s JSON format, also available from Media Silo, is supported and has absolute word accuracy. We recommend the JSON format for new transcripts in the future, for now prEdit works with what you’ve already got. (3Play Media also offer more conventional formats with the JSON format, so you can have multiple options for the same transcription fee.)

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May/11

17

Interns, Internships and Getting Started.

Interns, Internships and Getting Started http://tinyurl.com/452ta3h Episode 27 of The Terence and Philip Show.

In this episode Terence and Philip are joined by Alpha Dogs’ employee Isai Espinoza in a discussion about the value of Internships to both the employer and the intern, how to get the best out of an internship, and what’s in it for the employer. In typical fashion, this quickly leads to a discussion about breaking into the business, and what it takes to make it.

Yes, this is probably going to be a rant. I’m just about over hearing that Final Cut Pro X is “not for pros”, as if that had some useful meaning.

Guess what folks, that’s a totally meaningless sentence and anyone who says it is… Well, let’s just say I don’t have a high opinion of their thinking processes.

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