Category Archives: General

Some Reflections on NAB 2019

NAB 2019 was almost like returning to the past as were were podcasting from the show floor, just like 2004 – 2007! Back then it was DV Guys/Digital Production BuZZ and we had a huge case of gear for an audio only show.

Fast forward a decade and a half, and we’re live streaming with Switcher Studio, adding multicam video switching to the live stream! Of course, we all know that no-one watches live streams, but we had some quality interviews recorded for OWC Radio hosted by Cirina Catania interviewing creatives about tech.

This year’s production gear would fit in a bag about a quarter the size of our audio only rig of earlier days! Not to make it easy we added lighting.

Greg mans the control table for audio (the mixer), video (the iPad) and screen support material (the MacBook Pro).

In return for assistance with the podcast OWC gave us a home on the corner of the booth for NAB. Let’s just say that OWC Radio got a lot of attention while the corner table was mostly empty.

Lumberjack System was one of the sponsors of the Content Creators Celebration where we mostly handed out finger lights and glow sticks, while talking to people about how Lumberjack gives them more time to be creative.

The highlight of the week was, without a doubt, the Faster Together Stage where LumaForge did all the heavy lifting organizing a truly inspirational evening. The Faster Together stage replaced the Supermeet on the Tuesday night. Dan Berube and Michael Horton – the people behind the Supermeets – called an end to a successful 18 years in January of this year.

Now, I’ve heard some criticism that the Faster Together stage was “very corporate” because one company was hosting, but in reality, the event was way less corporate than the Supermeets, where the stage presentations were mostly sponsored. Occasionally Avid, or Adobe would put up a creative on stage, but mostly it was “dog and pony” shows of the latest, just announced, features of their flagship apps. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

When I first talked with Sam Mestman about the Faster Together Stage he indicated he wanted to move the event back toward creativity and community – away from the corporate approach!

He, and a very dedicated team from LumaForge, delivered on that with a stage full of editors, producers, colorists, YouTube stars and technologists. Not a corporate or product presentation in site.

Our Faster Together table highlighting all the ways that Lumberjack System gives you more time for what you are really passionate about.

We had planned to demonstrate the entire Lumberjack Workflow at our table, but I didn’t expect our reliable NEX 7 to simply stop recording!

As a team, Lumberjack was able to contribute to the on stage presentations by doing what we started doing; logging during the shoot. Chris Fenwick, Alan Seawright and Brad Olsen (and probably others) had planned to interview guests at the event before it started, asking them six questions like what inspired them to get into production, and edit those into six on stage presentations during the event.

Ambitious yes, but Chris recruited our Greg Clarke to log during the shoot, and used Lumberjack to do six string-outs, one for each question. This gave Chris a huge head start and he made the screen time for the presentations. After the event he posted on Twitter:

Could NOT have pulled it off without @philiphodgetts and Greg from @LumberjackSys – their logging system made the quick turn possible. I’m SO thankful they were able to assist. 

Chris Fenwick @chrisfenwick

After more interviews for OWC Radio on the Wednesday, we packed up the production gear on the booth, had a relaxed evening when we finished, and returned home on the final day of the show.

I Am Grateful for My Friends

Driving back from NAB last week I realized how grateful I am to my friends, not only for their friendship, but what I’ve learnt from them.

From Larry Jordan I’ve learned to be a better talk show guest. Larry always makes sure his audience “keep up” with the conversation, and has frequently guided me to “back up a little and explain” before we go forward. He’ll probably need to do it again, but I am learning to make sure those listening are understanding.

From Sam Mestman, Cirina Catania and Michael Horton I am relearning the importance of community, and that we’re not in the software business, we’re in the business of giving people time. Time they can spend doing what’s really important to them.

From Cirina I’m learning, not only how to be more positive, but also how to simplify topics when I discuss them.

I’m sure there are dozens of other lessons I’ve learnt from friends, but these come to mind right now.

FCP X, Workflow Extensions and Workflows

Workflow Extensions are definitely my favorite new feature from FCP X 10.4.4. I had long been jealous of Panels in Premiere Pro CC, even with their limitations. Being able to put an interface to someone’s (our) app within the NLE seemed like a nice feature. I think Apple’s Workflow Extension are superior because they run native code (not through a Javascript/HTML interface).

Of course, we immediately get questions about when we’re going to put all our apps in Workflow Extensions. It happens with every new Apple technology release. “When will you do an iOS version?” “When are you going to create a Watch app?”

Since these are Workflow Extensions we need to think about workflow. What makes sense being in the host app, and what does not make sense? What makes sense are workflow apps that you “touch” and get back to FCP X. Workflow apps where you go away from FCP X, perform some combination of activities and then go back to FCP X, do not make sense.

Thus, asset management, review and approval, and training apps make sense. You want to view the reviewer comments in FCP X, in the native timeline or clip being commented on. You want to search for a clip and bring it to FCP X.

As we proved in 1999 with the first of our training products, The DV Companion for FCP, having the instructional video floating over the app makes a lot of sense. (Technically Workflow Extensions don’t float, but they are there in the app, so it’s much the same.)

A limitation on Workflow Extension is that they must have a single interface window, so document based apps aren’t suitable.

So, when it comes to the Intelligent Assistance Software and Lumberjack System apps, it makes sense for some to become Workflow Extensions, and not others, based on workflows. Apps like Producer’s Best Friend – where you generate reports and then get back to FCP X – or Sync-N-Link X – where you have clips in FCP X that you want synchronized and immediately sent back in FCP X – make a lot of sense.

Conversely Change List X makes less sense in a Workflow Extension because the output is not used in FCP X at all. Similarly the two translation apps don’t make much sense as Workflow Extensions.

For Lumberjack System, Lumberyard makes sense as a Workflow Extension because – again – it uses Event Clips as the input and the result is updated in FCP X. noteLogger and backLogger make no sense as Workflow Extensions because the are used before FCP X. They are, as is real time logging in the iOS app, “pre editing” tools to be used before the NLE.

Similarly Lumberjack Builder not only makes no sense as a Workflow Extension, but isn’t even possible. Builder takes an input from FCP X (Event Clips) but work continues in Builder. You can update an Event with Keywords logged in Builder (because it’s more efficient) but Builder is really designed as a companion NLE to FCP X, again to be used before finishing work is done in FCP X.

Transcription Workflow Extensions only make sense if you haven’t really considered the workflow. While it wasn’t automated transcription, Lumberjack was first to bring transcripts into FCP X back in early 2015 for the OJ Simpson Documentaries. We discovered that even a perfect transcript in FCP X is still a terrible workflow. Searching is difficult, and there’s no way to build a story based on text, the way transcripts are used.

Getting transcripts into FCP X is solving the wrong problem, which is working with transcripts in a way that makes sense. That’s why Greg and I spend a lot of time thinking about the workflow, and realized there was no way that transcript workflows could be grafted into FCP X, and it was/is our belief that it’s not a high priority for the Pro Apps team. So we built an entirely new kind of NLE for text driven editing.

Being a document based app, meaning you can have multiple documents open at once, with each document carrying multiple stories, it can’t be shoehorned into a Workflow Extension, but more importantly it would be the wrong thing to do. FCP X is not the place to be editing with text.

So, when thinking about Workflow Extensions, consider what workflow problem they solve. Where the Workflow Extension functionality is used IN a FCP X workflow, it probably belongs in a Workflow Extension. Where it independently enhances FCP X workflows, either before or after the primary FCP X work, then it isn’t appropriate for a Workflow Extension.

The Terence and Philip Show Episode 82: What Do You Get Paid For?

When I wrote yesterday’s blog post on Aging Out, I had completely forgotten this episode of The Terence and Philip Show we recorded back in February. Turns out it couldn’t be more relevant.

In this show we discuss the important role of professional skills and experience. They discuss the difference between having the tools, knowing how to use them and how to create with those tools.

With so much changing, new careers will need to be invented.




Looking back on 2017 on the Digital Production BuZZ

I was honored to be invited – as one of many – to provide my thoughts on 2017: what technologies were important, what major changes happened.

Here is a link to the full show –  
Here is a link to the Transcript –  
Or if you want to go direct to my segment:
MP3: 




Preparing for the unknown ‘Jobs of the Future’

I’ve written here before, and Terry Curren and I have discussed repeated on The Terence and Philip Show, that many jobs are likely to be replaced by the combination of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics/Automation. It’s good to see people thinking and writing about these things, as does Caitlin Fitzsimmons of the Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), in an article – How to prepare for the jobs of the future when you don’t know what they are – that features an interview with Pulitzer prize-winning author and New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman, who writes about the age of acceleration in his new book, Thank You For Being Late.

The whole article (and likely the book, which I’m about to buy) are worth the read, but I loved this paragraph from Ms Fitzsimmons:

That’s because the only way to equip children for the future of work is to develop their imagination, creativity and emotional intelligence. If the world is changing, the best thing you can do is equip them for change. They need to be emotionally resilient with a habit of self-directed lifelong learning.