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

CAT | Business

As we don’t have children our post dinner discussions range across all sorts of topics: from design details for a current project, to discussions about industry issues, such as collaboration. My thinking is evolving somewhat, because of the discussion with Greg, which built on a conversation he had with filmmaker Bradley Olsen.

One conclusion is that, if/when Apple add collaboration to Final Cut Pro X, there will be serious hate! Again!

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When Apple released FCP X six years ago, there was an incredible backlash, which Apple deserved for the sudden, harsh removal of FCP 7 from the market. But I believe there was another reason behind the anger beyond the sudden cut off: there was no more hope that Apple would supplant Avid in the editing world.

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My first exposure to a multi-camera live broadcast event was in an earlier career when the local TV station set up for a broadcast in the theater I worked for. There were two trucks in the alley way. Cables running everywhere, and two days to set up. Running it all was a team of 12 people.

Yesterday, we did a three camera live broadcast and I carried the broadcast gear in my shoulder bag and was set up in an hour.

That’s a pretty serious change!

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We were watching the WWDC keynote address last night and the term “Machine Learning” came up so ofter, that if you were taking a shot each time, it would have been very detrimental to your health. There were at least 12-15 references during the 2.25 hour keynote.

Apple have seriously embraced Machine Learning/Deep Learning across many apps and have introduced a Machine Learning framework for running developer designed learning algorithms, even providing conversion tools for migrating from other AI platforms.

Or course, this comes as no surprise, as I wrote about the many ways Apple were integrating machine learning back in October 2016.

UPDATE: Wired also noticed just how key Machine Learning has become to Apple.

An article on Tubefilter caught my eye: The Most-Desired Career Among Young People Today Is ‘YouTuber’ (Study).

The top 10 jobs kids want, per the First Choice study, are as follows: YouTuber, blogger/vlogger, musician/singer, actor, filmmaker, doctor/nurse, TV presenter, athlete/teacher, writer, and lawyer.

The one thing that the top jobs have in common is fame!

The thing is, it works. Not for everyone but it works.

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With the announcement of Resolve 14 today at NAB 2017, it seems that Blackmagic Design have their sites clearly on Avid’s Media Composer: intentionally or not.

I’ve long wondered what apps would be most threatened by Blackmagic’s rapid development of Resolve.

Adobe’s suite of tools and dynamic link makes a powerful argument for that platform. Although Resolve has improved integration with Fusion, it’s not yet at the level of Dynamic Link. Not that Dynamic Link is the most robust of Adobe tech. Despite being free, it’s hard to see Resolve directly threatening Premiere Pro, After Effects et. al.

Apple’s Final Cut Pro X/Motion combination features a new look at the editing interface – probably the reason it’s the most used professional NLE now –  and those who use it, love the Magnetic Timeline. The most common response to today’s Resolve announcements was “but it’s track based.”  Once you’re a fan of the Magnetic Timeline it’s hard to go back.

There are other players like Media 100, Edius and Vegas that will definitely be threatened by Resolve Free or the full version for just $299, but the one company that – mid term – is most threatened is Avid.

Resolve has already replaced Avid’s excellent (but left to die) Symphony grading and with major audio improvements – integrating their Fairlight purchase – and shared project upgrades directly threaten core focuses of Media Composer and ProTools.

Fortunate or not, while these are key parts of Avid’s current software lineup, there are a small percentage of Avid’s overall business.

Very interesting to see how the new features and pricing affect adoption, and who will be most threatened. If you’re looking for a modern, track-based NLE with good audio, great color grading, and excellent DIT tools and collaborative workflows gaining maturity, Resolve deserves a version 14 look.

Alex Gollner (aka Alex4D) has seen the same issues: Blackmagic Design has sights set on Avid with DaVinci Resolve 14

Apr/17

17

Machine Learning in practical terms

While researching the anecdotal history of some local property, I did what I’ve done previously: ask Siri. In this case, asking about actors dates of birth and death. In the past, these type of questions would have pulled up the relevant IMDB or Wikipedia page with Siri saying “I’ve found some links for you on the web” or similar.

It took several rounds before I realized that, while the pages were still being pulled up as before, Siri was parsing out the answer to the question I’d asked, and gave that to me directly. I never had to glance down or open my phone.

Similarly, in Mail, there is now a predictive mailbox making suggestions (usually accurate) into which email box I might want to move the selected email.

In Calendar, I find addresses being suggested for my events, based on whether I’ve been there or not, address book entries, or other information.

It’s clear to me that these are all improvements related directly the Apple’s increased use of Machine Learning across it’s software products.

The Wall Street Journal (firewalled but details available here) reports that Apple is planning to join its competitors in original programming.

The shows Apple is considering would likely be comparable to critically acclaimed programs like “Westworld” on Time Warner Inc.’s HBO or “Stranger Things” on Netflix.

I would say the move was inevitable, and predicted it seven years ago in Dec 2009. More from the WSJ”

Nonetheless, the entry of the world’s most valuable company into original television and films could be a transformative moment for Hollywood and mark a significant turn in strategy for Apple as it starts to become more of a media company, rather than just a distributor of other companies’ media.

Nov/16

16

Apple’s Production Future

Robert Cringely has never backed away from controversial ideas and in among a rant about Apple losing its ‘mojo’  he proposes that Apple buy up all the ‘Hollywood’ writers as an end run around Studios. And that’s an idea I proposed about seven years ago in my piece What if Apple or Google simply bypassed Networks and Studios?

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One of the powerful way Artificial Intelligence ‘learns’ is by using neural networks. Neural Networks are trained with a large number of examples where the result is known. The Neural Network adjusts until it gives the same result as the human ‘teacher’.

However, there’s a trap. If that source material contains biases – such as modeling Police ‘stop and frisk’ – then whatever biases are in the learning material will be contained in the subsequent AI modeling. This is the subject of an article in Nature: There is a blind spot in AI research  and also the praise of Cathy O’Neil’s book Weapons of Math Destruction that not only brings up that issue, but the problem of “proxies”.

Proxies, in this context, are data sources that are used in AI programs that are not the actual data, but rather something that approximates the data: like using zip code as a proxy for income or ethnicity.

Based on O’Neil’s book, I’d say the authors of the Nature article are too late. There are already institutionalized biases in very commonly used algorithms in finance, housing, policing and criminal policy.

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