Speak out against SOPA/PIPA

While you are waiting for the next part of the “Faster. Better…(not necessarily) Stronger” series, take some time to educate yourself about the Stop Online Piracy Act(SOPA) & The Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA). These bills are bad ideas. I’m all for protecting the rights of creators of material but SOPA and PIPA are the result of allowing a group of self-declared non-experts, who are being guided by companies who aren’t satisfied with only 40%+ market growth over 10 years to legislate something as wild and untamable as the Internet. It is a bad idea.

Educate yourself. Watch this video:

Visit killsopa.org – The EFF’s clearing house on what to do to help stop these bills from becoming laws.

Contact your representative and make them aware that you don’t want these bills to become law.

And check back tomorrow, because we’ll be here. We aren’t going dark. We’ll be posting part 2. Maybe in all that extra time you’ll have *not* surfing Reddit or Wikipedia, you can drop by here!

Faster. Stronger. . . (not necessarily) Better. – PART 2

If you recall from Monday’s post, I related an example of a very complicated and convoluted set of media files related to a one hour-long nature documentary. 10 camera formats. 1080 & 720. 23.98fps. 29.97fps. All delivered on 25 external hard drives.

With all the the recent advancements in cameras and acquisition technologies, the expectation is the process of media production should become faster, easier and more stream-lined. We associate improvement with advancement, right?  If it’s new then it must be better. As I mentioned in part one of this post, though, as media production has moved into the digital space, it has become bogged down by the plethora of choices available to creators. The work  feels more complicated and time-consuming, and it doesn’t necessarily result in a better product.

Continue reading “Faster. Stronger. . . (not necessarily) Better. – PART 2”

Faster. Stronger. . . (not necessarily) Better. – PART 1

It’s the whole premise of The Six Million Dollar Man: “We have the technology to make him better, stronger, faster than he was before!” I’m all for it in most aspects, but some things have become faster and stronger, but not really better. And in some cases, much worse than before.

Take acquisition. I’m talking about capturing material in the creation of a program. It can be whatever kind of show you’d like. Developments in digital acquisition have exploded in the last few years. We have such cool toys with which to capture events in 2D or 3D – Red EPIC, Phantom, Viper, DSLR, P2, XDCAM, F3, AF-100, 5D, 7D, C300, GoPro – the list goes on and on.

The image quality cannot be denied for many of these new cameras. They are amazing. If you had told me I would be working with HD images at 5K resolution just 5 years ago I would have doubted you. The detail and latitude these new devices provide are incredible. But there’s a downside to it all. A downside I don’t think anyone really thought through as these new technologies were being proposed, designed and invented. It’s a downside that many production people don’t see or even think about. It’s a downside that foists responsibility onto the last person in the chain of program creation that needs more responsibility.

Continue reading “Faster. Stronger. . . (not necessarily) Better. – PART 1”

What about the non-Broadcast arena?

As a followup to my previous post, I received this question (or something like it) in a few emails: “do you think this same trend will hit the non-broadcast arena?”

The answer is, it depends.

It depends on what kind of work you are doing. Final Cut Pro X is not an unusable editor for many folks. Undesirable for some, but it is capable of editing programs together. People who are editing for the web or for DVD delivery, are probably going to have very little cause to think about switching away from FCP-X.

That being said, there’s alot of stuff that FCP-X does differently than FCP7. It is different enough that, for all intents, it *is* a different NLE application. There will be a learning curve. There will be new ways you will have to learn to handle tasks in a different fashion. Some tasks just don’t work the same way as they did before. From little things like setting In & Out points on a clip to big things like media management, FCP-X will be a new thing for whoever picks it up.

So, while the main premise of my previous post doesn’t completely apply to smaller firms (Go big or stay small), I think that there needs to be some serious consideration given to the kinds of work you are currently doing and the kinds of work you might be doing in the near future. You will need to factor that in to your decision. FCP-X just isn’t going to have the same kinds of support FCP7 does. You won’t be able to send an FCP-X project to a post-house and have them work with it as-is. Once they receive it, they are going to need to run it through some extra steps in order to get a timeline exported for use in audio or color in an efficient manner.

On the other hand, both Avid Media Composer and Adobe Premiere Pro support many of the same import and export paths that FCP7 does today. So, if you are looking for the closest non-FCP match, then you may want to explore those platforms. Also, FCP7 is probably going to remain a viable editing application for a few more years. It won’t be updated, but it could probably remain serviceable for some time. What we don’t know, is if some future update to OSX or to Quicktime will break the functionality of FCP7. If that happens, then in order to maintain an FCP7 system, you will need to have a older installation of OSX and Quicktime running to make it work. In my opinion, that’s a temporary solution and not something I’d trust as my primary production platform for very long.

The issues of drive space and hardware purchases are certainly more financially driven than anything else. So if it is a case of planning for upgrades or for planning new purchases for your operation, I think you need to do your research about FCP-X, Avid, Premiere Pro and anything else to see what the future might hold for you if you make a choice to go down a certain path.

We’ve been here before…

Last Friday I came across this bit of news:

Avid today announced that renowned television production company, Bunim/Murray Productions, has selected Avid Media Composer® 6 and Avid Symphony® 6 editing software for all of its programs beginning in early 2012. Bunim/Murray joins a growing number of professional users who have returned to using Avid solutions from Final Cut Pro to meet their production workflow requirements. Additionally, as part of this implementation, Bunim/Murray also plans to deploy an Avid ISIS® 5000 shared storage system to effectively store and share media across its organization.

On the surface it seems like a no-brainer. Apple has forsaken the broadcast editor to release an application that is more in line with the company’s minimalist approach. In doing so, they have effectively removed the application from consideration by many editors who need things like: deck control, import and export of interchange formats (omf), manual media management and self-determined timeline configuration (i.e. manual assignment of tracks). Editors who don’t need those things have a very fine tool at their disposal. Editors who do need them, are looking elsewhere. FCP-X may deliver those things in time. Certainly there are third-party solutions that make it serviceable enough now, but that’s not acceptable to a large operation like Bunim-Murray or to most professional editors, who don’t want to have to “roll their own” features.

Hence a huge production company like Bunim-Murray is going to drop FCP in favor of Avid Media Composer. It’s going to start happening more and more. FCP-X just can’t fit into existing workflows for delivery of broadcast material. More companies are going to switch. Many will go to Avid. Some will go to Premiere Pro. There are some production companies out there, however, that won’t be able or willing to make the switch. And this is the history-repeating-itself part, this switch is going to kill those companies off.

Continue reading “We’ve been here before…”