NAB 2019 Wrap up

Oliver Peters wrote the NAB wrap up I wanted to write. I completely agree with his assessment of this year’s show overall:

This year the NAB Show seemed to emphasize its roots – the “B” in National Association of Broadcasters. Gone or barely visible were the fads of past years, such as stereoscopic 3D, 360-degree video, virtual/augmented reality, drones, etc. Not that these are gone – merely that they have refocused on the smaller segment of marketshare that reflects reality. There’s not much point in promoting stereo 3D at NAB if most of the industry goes ‘meh’.

Like Peters, I was also very impressed with Cinamaker and hope to use their product for one of my upcoming presentations. I think they need to offer a turnkey kit that includes everything (tripods, cables, travel case, etc) to further simplify the process. But they were definitely one of my favorite booths this year.

I was also impressed by how far all of the cloud service providers have come. Make no mistake, the future of collaboration is going to be software run in the cloud. I think the biggest short coming is that these services don’t know how to speak to Producers. It’s great that Sony Animations is partnering with Google Cloud Platform, but as an independent producer I’m used to working with a post house and saying, “I need five edit bays for six weeks.” None of the cloud providers I spoke with understood that … by a mile. I think the next step for these companies is going to be some User Research into this area.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • The Birds of a Feather ACES 2.0 event was aces all around.
  • My thoughts about Avid’s huge changes to Media Composer remain the same since my “Opening Salvo” live post.
  • Resolve 16 looks sweet but that keyboard…

look at the data — but not too much

Great interview with AMC’s Josh Sapan at Recode about the benefits and limitations of using data in the creative process:

This mirrors what I’ve been saying about using data to inform the creative process, not decide. Too bad we don’t have the tools we need yet.

Further reading:

Opening Salvo (Updated)

Bravo Avid! You really made a bold statement on Saturday, announcing the next version of #Mediacomposer featuring a major UI overhaul just two days before Blackmagic Design will unveil Resolve 16. The last time the “NLE Wars” ran so hot Apple had the largest booth at NAB.

The infrastructure changes to Nexis are also big, (I mean, cloudspaces!!!) but beyond the scope of this particular post. Right now we are going to focus on why the UI overhaul is so revolutionary.

A curmudgeon’s meme.

Avid Editors will swap tales about which version of Media Composer was the most stable. ˆMeridien vs. Post-Meridien; the fabled 4.6.2 that never crashed … with SD; and 8.9.4 was pretty good until 2018. when Avid tried to be all like Adobe.

Part of Media Composer’s speed and stability is the enduring nature of it’s interface. Avid has changed MC multiple times in the past: Think AMA, and the dynamic timeline. But since the interface remains consistent an Editor’s valuable muscle memory doesn’t need to be retrained. An experience Editor and MC is a form of an existing BMI between man and machine.

Changing the interface could effect muscle memory, which in the Avid world could cause riots. Therefore every change needs to carefully weigh the costs and benefits. So this is a big gamble for Avid.

The advantage of taking this risk is that Avid is looking to tackle the widespread problem of non-editor usability. Avid isn’t Discoverable and it’s interface is very dated in the age of the single screen workstations (iMac, laptop, story producer screening station), iOS-era interactions, and the continued drift away from Log and Capture metaphors. Avid is gambling that making custom interfaces depending on “role” and with tailored toolsets is the way to go. Agitating a few to the benefit of the many.

From the website MC will support Resolve-style roles: Edit, Color, Finish, etc. But Avid is also introducing roles like Producer, Assistant, Logger. These interfaces will put the tools these roles needs front and center while hiding the more esoteric buttons. This would enable larger teams to collaborate more efficiently and within the Avid (Microsoft) eco-system.

Last year you would have barely realize that Media Composer as a product of Avid Technologies. I bet that’s going to very different this.

There is is. Media Composer does Premiere meets Resolve

Update: Just had a hands on demo with 2019.5 and the new interface is a big deal. I think Bin management is going to require a rethink of an AE’s/Editor’s habits. The demo is running on a MacBook Pro, Avid is definitely trying to show off interface efficiency.

Update: Media Composer is just a small slice of Avid’s booth.

Pre-NAB 2019

Another year, another NAB Show to look forward to. If you’ve never been, NAB is the show to gain hands-on knowledge of the newest tools available to our industry. In no particular order, here are some of the things I’ll be looking out for this April:

NAB Throwback. Do you see it? 🙂

Canon: The C300 is the new unscripted workhorse camera. So I was intrigued by last year’s introduction of the C200, especially by the metadata friendly, easy to use Canon RAW Light recording format. Unfortunately, Canon limited the C200’s usefulness in multi-camera productions. So I’m curious to see if Canon will introduce its RAW format to the C300 or release a C300 Mark III. Side note:I’m also interested in learning what 3rd party lens manufacturers for the EF mount. 

Here’s hoping Canon will add TC I/O.

ACES & Color Managed Pipelines: have you read the Netflix primer on Color Managed Pipelines? It’s a good read. This year at NAB I’m curious to see how the maker’s of Color Correction software like Digital Vision’s Nucoda are educating their users about these ideas that I’m confident will go industrywide.

Get ready for CDL to be part of your acronym vocabulary.

Avid: if you visited Avid’s booth in the last two years you wouldn’t know that they are the makers of Media Composer. So I’m curious to see whether 2019 will be any different. I’m also excited to see how Avid’s partnership with Microsoft Azure has developed; in particular if the cognitive services have been integrated into Media Central in a meaningful way.

Reminds me of an old joke…

Media Asset Managers: Speaking of cognitive services… I’m still on the look out for cloud based MAM that seamlessly connects to Google Cloud Video Intelligence or Microsoft Azure Vision. I was recently given access to a fully functional version of Cantemo’s Iconik.

When the A.I. does the tagging it will be perfectly consistent, right?

Social: Each year I tell myself that I’m going to be more social and attend some meet-ups. Instead I use the time to catch up with old friends and talk shop. This year I plan on going to the Blue Collar Post Collective’s NAB meet-up, and we’ll see if I make it 🙂

Chapter 12 – Biographical

My path in the business began in high school. In my junior year my days were filled with electronics and computer programing classes and I had some uninspired notion about studying engineering in college. The work suited my logical side, but I distinctly remember feeling ambivalent because some creative spark was missing. As a child I loved to play with Legos, and in middle school my friends were big into role-playing games (Cyberpunk 2020, not D&D, if you must know). These were group activities that blended a rigid systems-type thinking with the more unpredictable nature of creativity.

Everything changed one afternoon when a friend invited me to help him tape his public access show after school. Eric’s show was called Pinhead Nation and he booked local rock bands to perform in his backyard on the deck of his parents’ house. Then he’d interview them afterwards. All I remember from that afternoon is running around to clear off the deck and lay audio cables with intense purpose. There was a feeling of camaraderie that is familiar to anyone who’s worked on a set. It was so exciting to be part of a crew. This collaborative approach to creativity is exactly what had been missing. The feeling electrified me and I was ‘hooked’. By the following year I transferred into my high school’s the television production class.

When Joey Ramone sends The Independents to perform on your public access show.

My high school’s video production program had a small studio with two pedestal cameras, an ENG camera, a control room with A/B switch, and an S-VHS linear editing system. In retrospect, I was lucky to have access to a high school program with so much equipment. At the time (1998-1999) that analogue gear probably cost our school district a small fortune.

The class had a variety of projects, but my favorite was a newscast I wrote set during Roman times. It was a multi-step project. First, I had to write the script in the A/V format (original hand written script). Then I had to tape and edit an ENG package that would be ‘rolled-in’ into the main newscast. From here it was a natural progression to go on to major in video production in college.

If you recognize someone in this video; yeah I once directed an Emmy winner 🙂

In college I gravitated towards documentary production. Looking back now, I think I realized that it was easier to create high quality documentary productions than scripted narratives, because narrative is SO resource intensive. A scripted production requires costumes and sets, in addition to lighting and sound; while documentary, especially *cinéma vérté*, requires so much less. Also, I enjoy learning and a good documentary teaches you something new about the world. It can be creative and emotional while also feeding the logical part of the mind.

Maybe Hidden Brain can remake this into a podcast? Just sayin’.

In college I also started the FDU Film Guild. A campus club that purchased extra equipment and props to encourage fellow students to get out there and make films. It served the purpose of building a community of people who help each other by contributing their unique skills. One of our primary fundraising activities was filming campus events, creating DVD’s, and selling those DVD’s to the organizations. Event videography, but lucrative nevertheless.

“But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked…”

I also spent two years working at a company in New York City called iNextv. It was like Youtube, just 5 years too early, since almost nobody had fast broadband internet at the time. My first assignment on the job was to assist the studio engineer with soldering the remaining cables to their bnc connectors. During my two years on the job I had opportunities to run studio cameras, assist the Avid Media Composer editors, and learn Final Cut Pro. It was a sad day when I came into work and learned that the company had became the latest victim of the first dot com bubble.

The year after graduating college I moved to Washington, DC and landed my first job as an Assistant Editor. But that’s a story for another post…