The Friday Roundup – Rough Cuts, Jump Cuts and Green Screen

Rough Cuts
The article linked below comes from a pro editing series but I wanted to add it this week because the basic concepts apply to any level of editing.
As I have mentioned before there are many ways to approach an editing workflow and each one has advantages and disadvantages.
All good workflows should start with the first step of bringing into the editing…
Read more…

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.

LTCsync, a timecode system that is simpler to use than a clapper

LTCsync, an open-source timecode system

Sound sync is a complex area in filming, and the clapper is still king. Now Ari Krupnik is designing a simple solution that mixes software with satellites, and he wants your feedback. Keep reading!

The email I received sounded interesting. In it Ari Krupnik pointed to a previous piece of news I had written about Tentacle Sync, and asked me if I could try an open-source app that syncs files based on LTC, including LTC from Tentacle devices. He added that development was at its early stages, but that he was looking for feedback  “on how the software works in the real world, so I can focus my efforts on what works for real people.”

A website as ProVideo Coalition is the ideal place to ask people to try something new, so I told Ari Krupnik I could share the information with readers, if he told me more about how he got interested into creating a timecode system to remove the clapper from its throne. That’s how it started, in the weeks before NAB 2019. Because of the event, I decided to hold the story for a few days, so it would not get lost in the middle of all the NAB coverage. So, now, for something completely different, here is the whole story of how LTCsync became a project.LTCsync, an open-source timecode system

Still using a clapper?

Ari Krupnik has a background in Cognitive Science. When he talks about what he does, he says “I basically look at how people understand the world, and how to make objects less confusing to people. After spending 15 years in Silicon Valley, “working for a string of technology startups including Tesla”, he started working in film, a couple of years ago, and became fascinated with the complexity of the process. That’s when Ari Krupnik stopped and asked himself: “can I use some of my tech experience to reduce manual labor in film?”

After looking at a number of areas, he decided that sound sync was a good place to try doing something different. He comments that “there are some excellent products on the market like Tentacle and BETSO, but many people still use the clapper to synchronize dual-system sound. Either the price is too high, or the complexity. So I decided to design a timecode system that is simpler to use than the clapper.” The software now available and the hardware that will come next make for a new approach to the sound sync problem.

LTCsync, an open-source timecode system

Stop babysitting the timecode

The goal for Ari Krupnik was to “eliminate as many switches and settings as possible, to make a system that you just plug in, turn on and focus on the shoot instead of babysitting the timecode. I decided to base the device on satellite time signals. I call my device Dish, like a satellite dish. Satellite time is very accurate, and it’s universal. You never have to jam-sync Dishes. They never drift. They always run on UTC. They work with expensive cameras that have timecode input, and they work with DSLRs by recording timecode on audio tracks.”

The team is still working on the hardware, but the software is taking shape already, and Ari Krupnik needs feedback from users willing to try it. The software is open-source, he says, “so anyone can adapt it to their needs. We like to release software early and often, so we can catch problems early and correct them”.

The goal is simple: to make the software compatible with the rest of the existing ecosystem, so the software should process files from any vendor. That’s the reason why Ari Krupnik needs help. He wants to “know how our software performs in the real world. We’re asking people who use LTC in their work to download our pre-release and try it”.

LTCsync runs on Windows, MacOS and Linux. You can download a build for your OS  following the link. The project home is also accessible following this link.

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NAB 2019: Bebob shows off their V-Mount Micro Batteries

Make no bones about it, digital cinema cameras have gotten smaller. From the Red Raven to the URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2 to many more the size of these cameras have progressively gotten smaller and smaller. It is also time to have batteries sized to fit these cameras well instead of standing taller than a camera. Bebob has taken this to heart and showed us their V-Mount Micro Batteries.

Bebob Micro
You can really see the size difference here

The Bebob Vmicro battery line is available in a few different capacities: 14,4V 43 Wh, 98Wh and 147Wh. Compared to their bigger brothers they are actually much smaller: 75 x 101mm. Each model has a twist-D-tap output that can be used on both sides and a 5V USB output. The twist-D-tap features three pins, a positive ground pin in the center, and a negative one on each side of the positive. You can plug in your cable one way or flip it around and connect it the other way. The V150MICRO also provides a USB port for charging your mobile devices on location.

Making batteries smaller makes complete sense to me. There are zero reasons to have a rear tail fin, large battery, on a smaller camera with a large external battery if you have other options available and work for you and your shooting situation. The smarter sized battery on a smaller camera may even open up room accessories to be mounted to the camera. Now, the Bebob Micro batteries may be smaller, but they are the same weight as the larger batteries.

The V150MICRO features lithium-ion trimix cells made in Japan and offers a max draw of 10A and a capacity of 150Wh. It has a 5-step LED fuel gauge which can be optimized for Arri or Red and is compatible with Bebob, IDX, and Sony chargers. Charging time is approximately 3 hours when using Bebob VS2/VS4 chargers.

Bebob Micro

Bebob Micro Key Features

  • 10A draw
  • 5-step LED fuel gauge
  • Withstands falls from up to 4.9′
  • Modular design allows any mechanical component to be replaced
  • Can be re-celled at a discount when capacity weakens after years of use (capacity status alarm LEDs built-in)
  • Twist D-Tap (allows inserting cable from either side)
  • USB port
  • Compatible with Bebob, IDX, and Sony chargers


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Telestream Takes Home NAB 2019 Best of Show and Product of the Year Awards

Telestream walked away from NAB 2019 with several awards for OptiQ and Vantage Cloud Port. Award details include: IABM BaM (broadcast and media) selects OptiQ as the BaM Award winner in the “Publish” category BaM […]

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EOSHD Gear Sale ֠Nikon Z7, D850, Canon 1D X Mark II and more treasure!!

Comment on this article at the EOSHD Forum

Comment on the forum Part of the parcel of doing a blog about cameras is that occasionally, my bag gets full! Now is time to part with some treasures, so that other people can get some enjoyment out of these ex-EOSHD review cameras. All the cameras are in tip-top condition with extremely low shutter counts due to being used for video. There are no marks, scratches or dings on any of the cameras unless stated, because they have experienced low use – some being bought just for the purpose of one project or EOSHD articles. FREE postage if you are …

Read moreEOSHD Gear Sale – Nikon Z7, D850, Canon 1D X Mark II and more treasure!!

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How to Deal With Notes

The Art of Dealing With Notes_Mentorless

How to Deal With Notes

A few days ago a friend who got hired to write a show called me after the very first meeting with the TV execs during which she got to know how much they approved/disapproved her Bible and hear their “notes”.

Notes-taking is a tricky business when you’re in a hierarchy, and if you’re paid to write or direct, you will get notes. Most notes will probably make you want to puke or scream but what do you do once your “boss” tells you: “You should do this! You should change that!“?

To Follow or to Ignore?

I think the first important point is to recognize that to handle a note the best way possible and to be able to discern if it’s a note worth following, one must let go of their ego.

The hardest hardest hardest thing to do when receiving notes, is not to answer in your head (and then out loud) to justify yourself. And yet that’s a very important skill to master:

-listen to the actual note.

And the same way we should refrain from opposing notes, we should also refrain from nodding to everything. As I was talking with my friend I realized that one of the thing I have internalized came from a similar advice shared by Shonda Rhimes and Steven Soderbergh.

Three people I highly respect and who’ve demonstrated great skills at developing original work within a studio system have come to the same conclusion:

The note might be wrong, but there’s something underneath
it that you might want to dig deeper.

The Middle Path

As with most things in life, the answer is in the middle path. It’s neither about rejecting or fully agreeing with a note for the sake of it but rather listening to find out what’s underneath the note.

The job of the storyteller is to tell a story the way others can’t. The person who gives the note is giving it with the words and imagination they possess and that will likely feel frustrating and out of tune. But if one can swipe shoes and try to understand what bugs the note-giver, one can really decide if it’s a note worth following or discarding.

Here is how wiser people said it better:

Christopher Nolan about Steven Soderbergh’s Approach

When you get into that Studio environment where there’s a hierarchy and people whose jobs it is literally to being paid to give you notes to turn things around; he (Steven Soderbergh) had developed such a reasonable attitude to it that in no way compromised what he was trying to do creatively. It was all about respectfully hearing a person’s point of view, it was all about saying “Ok, the note might be wrong, or the suggestion might be wrong, but they’re saying it for a reason“.

And you have to figure out what that reason is. Sometimes that reason is ego, or trying to impress someone or whatever that is, but very often there is a creative reason. And you can either get it all out, or you can internalize it and think about it yourself.

Shonda Rhimes

I have to say the first year there were times that were really heard because my response, maybe that’s a good response, I don’t know, my response to what I call “stupid notes” from the Network is always silence, because my whole thing is that if you don’t have something nice to say, you don’t say anything at all. So they’d give me a note that I would find horrifying, like really horrifying, ‘Can’t Meredith just be nicer?’, ‘Can’t Meredith and Christina just hug?’ and my response was always, you know you’d be on the phone on this big conference call, and my response would always just be total silence, because there was nothing I could of to say, that wouldn’t be insulting.

And in that silence, what would happen for me, and still does, is after a minute or two, when they’re wondering if you’re still on the line, it gets filled with nervous chatter, because they are just as scared as you are, I mean that’s the reality. They are just scared that they don’t know what they’re talking about, and what you have on your side is that you have the vision, at the very least you feel like you know what you were trying to achieve. So it gets filled in with this nervous chatter on their part, that sort of comes around to something, and then it enables me in that silence to try to figure out what it is that they are trying to say.

Because I think that even the most stupid note is a note that is coming from something, no matter what the note is. And sometimes they are painful, sometimes they are really painful, but every note has a point. There is something underneath it that they are responding to, they may not have a way to express it, they may not have a way to verbalize what they are trying to say, but if you really let them talk long enough, you will figure out what it is that is the problem.

I’m pretty positive Neil Gaiman said the same thing but was unable to track back the quote and source, so you’ll have to either believe me on this one or prove me otherwise.

Bottom line, my conversation was a good reminder that every professional (no matter the profession, really) will have to deal with notes as soon as their work involves either collaboration and/or hierarchy and the best way to leverage a note’s potential is to remember that under the first layer of possibly clumsy words something much more important and interesting might be hiding.