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NAB 2013 Wrap-Up

Flamingos at the Flamingo of course....

Well another year has come and gone at the National Association of Broadcasters and here's some of the things I saw this year. Wasn't able to get around as much since I was working all day Mon / Tues in the Small Tree Booth but still saw some good stuff.

4k, Storage and Data Management

Literally everything was 4k all over the place and we're expected to be shooting and editing in this format as quickly as possible. It's obvious that very few folks in production actually have a handle on how we're all supposed to store and manage all this data. Shooting 4k is easy, figuring a way to safely store that data seems to be anyone's guess. Moving forward, everyone should FIRST be considering their infrastructure and especially their storage and archive solutions.

Small Tree Communications Titanium Z series.

Your main online storage solution, whether it's shared or stand-alone, had better be scaleable. This way you can have enough storage for today and then very easily add more as your needs increase with these larger data sizes. One reason I run the Small Tree Communications storage and their 5, 8 and 16 bay Titanium units were awesome additions this year. All are scaleable both in speed (via 1gig and 10gig ports) along with easy upgrade to add more storage as needed without disrupting the workflow. The portable Titanium 5 is perfect for field productions with up to 20TB (15TB useable in RAID 5) for field shoots to ingest large amounts of data while allowing multiple artists to access and log the material. The 8 and 16 bay Titaniums can be expanded by simply adding another chassis giving you more storage space.

G-Tech EV series

G-Tech was showing off their new EV Lineup that is a clever take on combining a rugged drive and a RAID. Basically small rugged drives that run between 125 and 256 MB/s with USB 3 connections on the units. The units can run stand-alone via USB 3 or inserted into a Thunderbolt chassis. The chassis supports both versions of the drives, this is significant since the faster drive is thicker. The two drives can also run as a RAID even outside of the chassis connected directly via USB 3. Neat concept for managing lots and lots of data in the field and even back at the shop.

AJA Video Systems introduced the Ki Pro Quad with the promise of "manageable 4k." In their presentation at the Media Motion Ball, AJA noted that raw, uncompressed 4k is 48GB/min. Per MINUTE! Using something like the Ki Pro Quad, we can record in ProRes knocking that data rate all the way back down to 9GB/min. So you can record native RAW if you want to for archival purposes or maybe for finishing but also record ProRes (the various flavors thereof) for your primary edit. Or just forego the RAW altogether and go start to finish in ProRes. The system even includes a RAW pass through so you can record ProRes in the Ki Pro and RAW to another recorder and 4k to HD scaling for HD monitoring. By the way, the unit also records in HD and 2k so if you are planning to go 4k in the future, but need a solid state recorder now, you'll be set for your move.

Multiple folks recommended I check out Axle Asset Management and I have to say it looks intriguing not only as an asset management tool for projects in progress, but also as a client review tool that might be easier for us to use. Instead of uploading our cuts for clients to review, this tool will allow clients to simply log into our servers to review and leave comments on our cuts. They can also look at any and all projects / raw footage we give them access to. Really sounds intriguing and I'm planning to set up a demo with them in the near future to try it out for real. Again, this is asset management for current projects primarily, it's not made for long term, archive asset management at this time.

Thanks to Richard Harrington I was re-introduced to Drobo and their current concept of "online archive." Essentially keeping as much archived material as we think we need to have easy access to on systems that allow us to edit on directly. The concept is that once a project is finished, we push it off our main online storage system to the Drobo to archive. When a client calls in with a change, revision, whatever, we don't have to push the project back to our main online storage system, we can simply edit directly from the Drobo because they're now fast enough to support editing directly from the boxes. I'm hoping to get a unit in the shop to test out in the near future.

This is where I'll be spending the most time and effort for the next year really working on both our project based online storage and the most cost effective and easily accessible long term archive storage. And of course, a digital asset management system that can help us manage our ever expanding library. We are all going to have to take a serious look at our storage solutions and management as we enter the world of 4k and beyond. More than ever, Post Production professionals are going to be data management professionals.

nVidia: Adding speed for collaboration and older computers.

nVidia introduced me to their Visual Computing Appliance. Essentially a rack mount box with a Windows 7 computer, lots of nVidia GPUs (I believe they told me 16) that allows the end user to virtually run pretty much any Windows based software on any computer OS. They were showing Autodesk 3DS Max running on a MacBook Pro and Adobe Photoshop running on a Linux laptop. You run the software via the box and that allows you to tap into the GPU power that's in the box. So your MacBook Pro suddenly has the speed of up to 16 GPUs for example or you can allocate out the GPUs per user.

nVidia Visual Computing Appliance

The big thing for me is this breathes new life into older machines that have gone past their normal usefulness. Because the box is doing the heavy lifting, older machines, such as my original Mac Pro 1,1 could potentially be used with Adobe CS Next in a very fast and efficient manner. Or if I want to add new computers, I could get very basic computers with no bells and whistles since the nVidia is going to add a ton of virtual computing power. Very interesting concept and I'll be talking to nVidia further in the near future. We're also hoping to get them down to the Atlanta Cutters at some point to further explain the system.

Flanders Scientific, droolworthy

FSI unveiled their CM lineup including the absolutely beautiful 32" model. Writing words on this page will not do this monitor justice, you really need to see it in person. And as I have written in the past, the Flanders team is one of the best in the business not only in designing the products, but servicing it after the sale. They're also some of the most awesome people in this industry who bring delicious donuts to the show floor each morning.

Bram and Johan Desmet next to the gorgeous new 32" CM series.

Simply put, if you need a new monitor for your edit suite, machine room, on-set or anything else to do with film or video production, get a Flanders.

Non-Linear Editing

Adobe: All I'm really going to say about Adobe is that the presentation stage for Adobe was packed at all times. Tough to find a seat, seems CS Next is being well received as is the Creative Cloud concept. I was given an advance look at the software before NAB opened and they've done a great job of listening to the needs of the professional editing community to support our workflows today while moving the product and our workflows to the future. Almost all of our "checklist items" were addressed as I mentioned in my "pre-NAB" show blog. Will discuss the Adobe Anywhere in a separate blog after we do some internal testing on that. We'll have the Adobe team showing off Next at the May Atlanta Cutters meeting so mark your calendars if you'd like to join us.

Adobe's "Sir" Al Mooney, the man who heads up the Premiere Pro team.

Autodesk: Not nearly as big a splash as last year's Smoke 2013 debut, but still a solid showing this year with some updates to the product line and I can say that Autodesk is reaching out to editors to move the product line forward. Was able to meet with the Autodesk team for a bit this week and I can honestly say the team is listening loud and clear to the editing community.

Autodesk's Marc-Andre Ferguson

Avid: Had a nice announcement with newly improved AMA and workflow for better native editing support with Media Composer 7. Something our facility had been looking for back when we jumped to Media Composer / Symphony 6. They also eliminated the Symphony product as a stand-alone, over priced product and now it's simply an option for Media Composer. I personally did not get up to the booth other than to do a PostChat taping so I really don't know much more than this unfortunately. Folks I met who edit on Avid were very excited about the updates.

Blackmagic Design: Yep, they introduced the "online editor" concept at the show. The concept and design is not so much to edit an entire project, though I have to admit you probably can, but to tackle the problem of "the edit is never done." I run into this all the time where after the color grade has been completed, there are changes to the edit. Instead of having to make the changes in Premiere Pro and re-send the files or the project to Resolve, we could literally make the editorial changes inside Resolve. In the demo, a Final Cut Pro XML was imported to Resolve and all of the video tracks, transitions and audio tracks came into Resolve intact and ready to either tweak the edit or grade. Additionally, Resolve 10 adds Open FX support and they were showing Sapphire plug-ins in use in the booth. I would expect to see Boris, Red Giant and others come on board with their plug-ins over time. While really a 1.0 release, the editor looks very stout with all of the basic features we would expect in an NLE. Oh and the trim tools are just crazy good as is the optical flow for incredibly smooth slo-mo.

Adding a Sapphire Lens Flare in Resolve 10's Editor.

Apple: Honestly have no idea if they were at the show which is kind of odd considering their new "push to win back professional editors." If they were here, they didn't seem to want us to know about it. But I did meet some folks who are really happy with the X workflow and are cutting projects on it.

Pond 5 Premiere Pro Plug-In

Had no idea this concept existed. Basically Pond 5 has created a plug-in that allows you to open up their stock footage library via a media browser window inside Premiere Pro. So instead of perusing the Pond 5 website, downloading sample proxy files, moving them to your media array, importing to the project and then inserting into the timeline, you can literally drag and drop from the Pond 5 browser into your timeline. Once you complete the edit, purchase the full resolution version of the proxy files to complete your project. Love the simplicity of how this works and we'll be downloading that plug-in for all our workstations.

Blackmagic Design

So I already talked about Resolve but like last year, Blackmagic stole the show buzz with a new camera. The Pocket Camera for just $999. We all pretty much expected the jump to 4k but most were surprised by "mini me." The constant refrain I heard for three days was "have you seen the little camera?" It was rather brilliant sitting on display with a massive Arri lens on the front. What I appreciated was the weight of the camera, it's not a cheap plastic body alá point and shoot cameras. At that price point, I will definitely be adding at least one of these to my toolbox. How can you not? Super 16 quality in a ridiculously small form factor. It's just like having a GoPro or two in your bag but with a LOT more versatility. It's even more discreet in public locations than a DSLR or the Cinema Camera. I can't wait to put this thing up on a remote helicopter.

Grant Petty and I at our annual chat. One of the highlights of each NAB for me.

Speaking of the small form factor, I had my yearly chat with Grant Petty in the BMD booth and he told me the story of how the Pocket Camera came to be. He was on vacation with the family and had taken the Cinema Camera along to play with. At one point he asked his wife if he could put it into a bag and she told him, "No, that camera is too heavy." So Grant had to carry the camera around during the trip. So that got him to wondering just how small could they take the technology? The end result, the Pocket Camera. I absolutely love stories like this because there's no focus groups, costly studies and projections or anything like that. Just, "gee I'd really love to have the quality of what we have in a smaller form so I can take it on trips with my family AND use it in production." It's been fun to watch the evolution of the company over these past few years as they are now taking us truly from start to finish across their product line.

Minty fresh Avid and Adobe project sharing

Sharing Avid projects with multiple editors cutting the same project in the past required either Avid solutions or the use of FlavorSys Strawberry. Strawberry is really an enterprise level solution way beyond the reach of smaller shops.

Mint on display at the Small Tree Communications booth.

FlavorSys introduced Mint at NAB and I got to see it up close and personal in the Small Tree booth. Designed for smaller shops like mine, this allows multiple editors to work on the exact same project at the same time. You launch the projects from the Mint interface and it essentially tracks what the editors are up to and syncs their work together in the project.

Here's the cool part, it also works on Adobe Premiere Pro projects. Just the project itself. This is something I plan to try as soon as I get back to the offices.


I am truly humbled by all the folks who thank me for all the articles, tutorials and advice I've given out through the years via, my various websites and many other places I hang out.

It's Kylee Wall! My tag team partner in the Small Tree booth.

It's nice to hear that the work is appreciated and that's is been helpful through the years. I just like to share what we've learned, what we've broken and how we fix it to offer our perspective on the production industry and if it helps you avoid our mistakes or make more informed decisions, well that is awesome. So thanks for taking the time to find me and truly, thank you.

If you didn't come out this year, well you'll find me right back in the Small Tree Communications booth for NAB 2014!

Walter Biscardi, Jr.

That's a Wrap on NAB 2013

Posted by: walter biscardi on Apr 12, 2013 at 6:43:08 amComments (7)

Looking ahead at NAB 2013

Coming to you from 36,000 feet over these fine United States as we jet from the home of this year's Final Four Championship to Sin City. I figured this was a good a time as any to share my thoughts for this year's annual love fest for all things production also known as the National Association of Broadcasters Convention. Which begs the question, how many people attending are actually broadcasters? I'm sure their numbers have been overtaken by the thousands of independents and digital content developers. But I digress.

Reading the hype before the show, it's obvious that we are all supposed have converted our entire workflows to 4k by now and those of us who have not are simply falling behind the times. I don't know about you, but we haven't even done anything in 3D yet so we must be completely and utterly lost by now. For the next week we are going to hear about the folks who are using 4k on a regular basis and some who have completely converted over to a 4k workflow. "Look, they've converted to an ENTIRE 4k workflow now, so the rest of you listen up and start converting NOW!"

Ok, I get it, 4k is coming (or it's already here) and there's no denying more data yields more beautiful images and that extra real estate gives more options when it comes to Post. But for the 98% of the rest of the production world, which comprises the vast majority of sales that come out of NAB, 4k isn't on the radar yet. First, there's no need for 98% of production today for 4k imagery. Heck, there are still projects ORIGINATING in SD. (shock and horror I know.) Second,.... well I already mentioned there's just no need for 4k imagery for many projects.

A good friend who is an amazing videographer lamented to me today that 4k makes it too easy to manipulate the image in Post. So the way something is shot in the field is not necessarily how it will appear in the final product because we, in Post, can re-frame the 4k image to suit the client's needs. So he's afraid it'll be more of "hurry up and shoot it, just shoot it wide and we'll reframe later, let's go!" Thus reducing the time he has to help move the story along with proper photography and framing in the field. This would be a shame because the art of the photographer is something that should not be lost just because we go to larger imagery.

Here's how I'm approaching 4k, which is actually different from how I approached the change to HD. I'm looking at the infrastructure from a Post standpoint. What am I going to need not only for data speeds across my network, but for sheer storage volume? How clean / easy is the 4k to proxy to 4k final workflow in the toolset we're using today, which would be Adobe Creative Suite and Resolve. What tools would make the 4k workflow more efficient if I had to make the jump in the near future? From what I can see going in, we're pretty much set for 4k to walk in the door with just a few more add-ons, but I'm not going to make any specific 4k purchases right now "just because I can." Like anything else, the longer I wait, the more the price will drop, we simply don't have a need for 4k right now. And quite honestly, the pre-show announcement that our current AJA Kona cards already support 4k means we're most of the way there already.

The thing to weigh when considering the jump to new technology like 4k is simply, "will I get a return on my investment?" This is not a "build it and they will come" type of thing. If you truly believe that adding 4k to your workflow WILL increase your clientele / workload because of the market you service, then seriously consider it. If you HOPE it MIGHT increase your business because "we have the cool new technology" and we can get ourselves into a new market, I can almost guarantee you that's a waste of money. If at all possible, unless you have tons of money at your disposal, you want to already be established "in the market" before you make the jump. Besides, "the future is 8k" is already being touted at early events so why rush into 4k now? Let them figure out all the issues with 4k and jump in at the 8k level. The 4k will just be your b-camera by that point. I'm only half joking....

By the way, with HD, I saw that broadcast was VERY quickly rolling into HD and hardly anyone in town was really working with it in Post when I started. So I jumped in faster than anyone else because it was already about 'here.' I don't see 4k delivery to the home on the near horizon. Japan has announced 4k broadcast in 2014, but seeing how long HD took to get traction in the US, I'm thinking it will be a bit longer here. No need to be the 'first kid on the block with 4k" this time around.

Resolve, the Online Editor
Either through brilliant marketing strategy or a complete "f-up" a very subtle marketing banner from Blackmagic Design appeared on South Hall this past Thursday FILLING THE ENTIRE FRONT OF THE BUILDING announcing the new "Resolve 10.... including Online Editing." Of course in this day of of social media, the sign promptly appeared across the Twitterverse and led to a very amusing phone call with BMD. It went something like this....

"Hey, so I see Resolve 10 is going to include online editing."
"WHAT?!? You just made me spit out my coffee."
"Well it's all over South Hall right now."
"Geez, I had no idea. Well isn't that funny."

And actually it WAS funny. We had a good laugh because my contact was genuinely surprised that the banner was all over the building several days early. And as we were chatting I could hear his email in box chiming away..... Of course that was about all the info I could get, a good laugh and a promise to show me the features on Monday after the press announcement.

Sooooo, what exactly does this mean, "online editing?" In the traditional sense, that would mean Resolve could take a project that was done in some offline format / codec and then reconform the entire timeline to the original media, effects, titles and all. The biggest question I have of course is what NLEs will this interface with and how?

We're an Adobe Premiere Pro shop primarily with Avid as our secondary tool. Workflow right now is to edit offline natively, export a self contained ProRes file, send that into Resolve, color grade and then send back to Premiere Pro / Avid for final assembly including graphics, sound, slate and layback to tape or digital file output.

If Resolve can now take the entire timeline with all the final graphics and sound mix with all necessary slates at the head, that will definitely knock off a big step in the last roundtrip. And are we getting to the point where Resolve can be a 100% legal tool for digital file delivery so we can knock off that step of sending the project through a legalizer for broadcast delivery? I'm definitely excited to see what Grant and company have done and what this means for collaboration with the existing NLE tools out there.

Flanders Scientific, Inc.
I'm going to be honest right here and say I can't say much of anything because FSI has shared with me preview knowledge of what they will be showing. If you don't know already, we run FSI monitors exclusively in all 6 of our production rooms because of their quality, price and performance. What I can say here is that you can expect the company to continue to build on its heritage and if you are in the market for a field, production or post monitor, put FSI at the top of your list.

Adobe Premiere Pro CS "Next"
Adobe has already announced CS "Next" as they are calling it right now and I can tell you that Adobe allowed me to get a sneak peek at what they are showing at NAB. If you were waiting for "Premiere Pro" to "take care of those stupid issues" before switching, your wait is over.

Many of you know we jumped head first into Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 back in June of last year after making the decision to leave the Final Cut Pro platform after 11 years. While the software workflow was similar there was a lot of adjustment on our part to adapt our needs to the Adobe "way of doing things." In some ways the workflow made sense, in others, it just plain had that "designed by an engineer who doesn't have to use this in front of a client" feel.

So I started reaching out to my Adobe contacts, sometimes subtly, sometimes not so much, with "suggestions" on how I would go about making the product even better. Ok, sometimes I came off harsh and I'm surprised they even kept talking to me after some of my conversations, but they did. In fact they listened to a LOT of professionals and hobbyists alike and worked very hard "under the hood" and deep in the code to take care of those little things that just make our time in the edit suite that much more efficient and creative.

Two major biggies for me are the new media management focus and the clip mixer. Media management is more robust and we can finally reconnect to media directly within the timeline. That was always a "WTF?" thing that I would constantly keep trying to do in the timeline and then scream. That would cause the client to look at me like I was crazy, I would laugh about it, edit for a while then repeat the process...... Glad that's gone. The Clip Mixer is a great addition for doing those quick mixes for a client where you can literally just run the show through and more or less "mix on the fly." And if you end up revising the timeline, all of your audio adjustments STAY with the clips rather than being married to the track.

Track Targeting has been addressed, more audio functionality, in fact more functionality and efficiency seem to have been the mantra in this development cycle. That's what I know I was saying and many other professionals were telling Adobe. Enough of all the whiz bang super cool new features, get back in and address the basics so we can be that much more efficient AND please dear gosh make the media management more solid. Adobe pretty much ran my entire checklist of "please address this" with about the only thing missing for me is a "Transcode and Consolidate" function.

One thing that has been especially impressive to me has been the attention of Adobe's engineering team to their longtime users. I've read many posts and articles, particularly from those who have switched to Final Cut Pro X that other manufacturers are "scared of change" or they are "stuck in the old model of doing things." That's a very naive way of looking at things. It's MUCH easier to simply cut and run to develop a brand new product from scratch and say "this is the way it's going to be" rather than build something that can bridge the past to satisfy tried and true established workflows while moving to the future. Adobe has done an amazing job of creating that bridge ensuring that their longtime users still feel comfortable using the software while incorporating much of the input from "newbies" like myself along with new features that keep moving the product forward. Would have been much easier for Adobe (and Avid, Autodesk and others) to simply say "We're done with the old product, here's the new one, deal with it." Fortunately for us, Adobe actually listens to the end users.

Cinema Camera - Year Two
Well we already know Marco Solorio is showing off a new model of the BMCC with a new mount this year so that's out of the bag, but now that we're on year two of the introduction of the Cinema Camera I'm curious of its affect not only for BMD but the industry as a whole.

As I recently saw at Marco's workshop in Atlanta, the BMCC is absolutely insanely good at green screen work when shooting in RAW. If you used the camera for no other purpose than that one thing, it would be a great investment. But as we know, the camera takes the concept of small form DSLR camera and adds much better image quality and flexibility in photography.

So will Grant and team introduce another Cinema Camera? Will they speak of 4k this year? What will be the sequel? I'm very curious to see what comes out of Monday.

But beyond Blackmagic Design, has the Cinema Camera influenced camera manufacturers at all? Grant told me last year that he never intended to build a camera. He was just tired of seeing cameras at what he considered too high a price for what they offered. He wanted to offer a quality, "good enough" camera for a majority of what most projects and productions need. Will we see cameras influenced not only by the design of the Cinema camera, but more importantly, the price? Oftentimes in this industry when one company leads the market price downward others start to follow. Will anyone follow Grant's lead towards "affordable" cinema style cameras? That's something I'm really interested to see this time around when I visit the camera manufacturers.

This feels like it's a critical year for Avid. The company that really introduced the concept of computer based editing to the masses has had some really negative press leading into the show. How they respond, the products they present and especially their reception among the professional community will be interesting to follow. Teaming up with @PostChat for a tweet up and social media outreach was a great start.

Will be interesting to follow their story over the course of the show and the reception of the community.

Shared Storage - Ethernet grows up
Of course many of you know that I've been using Small Tree Communications solutions for ethernet based shared storage for about 6 years now and for pretty much all of that time we've been limited to around 100MB/s. Thanks to the new Titanium lineup of products Small Tree will be showcasing at NAB, we're now able to push 350MB/s and more through our systems. In fact they are scheduled to be demonstrating a system pushing an insane 1.4GB/s. Across Cat 6. Ok, we are NOT going to be installing anything like that in our shop, but if you are someone who needs absolutely insane speeds for your workflow.....

The Titanium 4, or as I call it, the "SAN in a box" is an awesome solution for small shops (up to 4 workstations can connect to it directly) and especially remote operations either on set or corporate events. Laptops and workstations can both connect directly to something that's just a bit larger than a lunch box.

Ethernet based shared storage is definitely grown up at this point and well beyond "technical voodoo" as some of my friends call it. Solid, reliable and super easy to connect to additional systems, well worth a peek if shared storage is on your checklist of things to see at NAB. Yeah, storage is boring and very unsexy, but let's face it, if you work in Post Production it is THE most important purchase you will make.

Camera Data Workflow
Again, VERY unsexy part of what we all do everyday, but holy crap, can this part of production get screwed up so very easily. How many of you get incomplete camera data on a regular basis so you have no timecode and sometimes, even better, no audio, or the camera data is scattered all over the hard drive. Why? Because the camera person or the assistant on set doesn't know how to properly copy the raw camera data from the camera card to a hard drive. It's NOT rocket science but yet we get the same problem all the time.

Imagine Products ShotPut has been around to help with that and last year Adobe rolled a very 1.0 version of Prelude. This year should bring us an updated version of Adobe Prelude along with Red Giant Software Bullet Proof. Bullet Proof looks VERY promising from early looks and it's from Red Giant who brings us so many truly useful tools to help our digital lives.

If you work with digital cameras, please, please, PLEASE look over these products and incorporate them into your data transfer workflow.

What else?
That's a good question.
"What will be the big breakout product of the show?"
"What will Grant Petty surprise us with this year?"
"Will Bram Desmet bring us donuts at the Small Tree booth?"
"How loud will the winners at the SuperMeet have to scream to get their prizes?"

All that and more will play out over four days and nights in Las Vegas.

Well that wraps up my thoughts from 36,000 feet over, oh I don't know, let's say Kansas. Have a great time in Las Vegas everyone and if you're not able to be there, just put on some Sinatra, grab a cocktail, open up your Twitter feed and set your web browser to You'll almost be able to smell that pleasant mix of "new carpet smell" and "Starbucks Coffee" that permeates the convention center.....

Posted by: walter biscardi on Apr 6, 2013 at 1:27:16 pm

Tips for attending NAB 2013 from a convention veteran...

Once again, springtime is upon us so of course it’s time for the annual National Association of Broadcasters convention. Last year y’all seemed to like the “before you go tips” so my I present the 2013 edition of “Tips from an NAB Veteran to make the best use of your time.”

Ceasars Palace, home of my newly recommend buffet featuring High Road Craft Ice Cream!

Getting to and from the show.

NAB does a great job providing free shuttle transportation to and from the show via many of the hotels along The Strip. Whether you stay in one of these hotels or not, as an attendee, you have access to these busses. So look at the NAB Bus Schedule and pick a hotel nearby to pick up the shuttle, be sure to have your convention badge on you as you generally have to show it to the bus driver to get on.

I tend to take the shuttle busses to the show and then the Las Vegas Monorail from the show depending on what time I’m leaving. Busses can get swamped at the end of the day and while the Monorail costs money, it tends to move more people faster out of the event. I just hop off at the hotel the closest to mine on the way back.

Dress for comfort, especially your feet!

NAB is a big show. Let me rephrase that. NAB is a HUGE SHOW. As in thousands upon thousands of square feet of exhibition space. Let me say that again. NAB IS A MASSIVE SHOW! You may have been to big shows before,but imagine walking through and around 4 football stadiums (US or European) to see everything and that kind of gives you a sense of how large this thing is. In other words, you’re going to be walking….. a lot…… forwards, backwards, up, down and all around.

It cannot be said enough that comfortable shoes are a MUST at this show. I wear running shoes that have fabric that breathes. Women…. how in the heck do you wear heels? I have no idea, yet I see them walking the show floor every year like it’s something they have to do. No, you honestly don’t. Same with the men wearing wingtip business shoes. Why? They are simply not comfortable to walk around 4 football fields or to even stand still for hours at a time. The NAB show floor is not really the place to make a fashion statement so just relax. Remember your feet will swell up standing and walking all day long, keep the shoes comfortable!

For dress, I tend to go with comfortable jeans and t-shirts or short sleeved button down shirts. South Lower, where most of Post Production is housed, can get a little warm on Monday / Tuesday just because of the thousands of bodies in the hall. Check the weather forecasts before you come for nighttime temps, as oftentimes a light sweater or jacket is good at night when the temps drop. While 60 degrees might sound nice and warm with just a T-Shirt, with no sun and a 10-15 mph wind, that light jacket you brought along will feel much better.

Beyond the jeans, the only event I know of that really requires any sort of “dress code” is the annual AJA Party which is held in an exclusive nightclub usually. Other than that, just “come as you are.”

Grant Petty showing me the Cinema Camera last year. My yearly sit down chat with Grant is one of my yearly highlights of the show.

Plan Ahead, Use Reference Points.

A big key is to plan ahead and then prioritize your plan. There is so much to see that it’s easy to get overwhelmed at the show, it’s literally the biggest toy box for all of to play in with everything we’d ever need to make great shows. All the stuff you read about on the internet and in magazines is on display. It’s easy to get caught up spending way too much time on some really super cool toy that you don’t need, can’t afford, would never use, but it’s just so freakin’ cool and before you know it, two hours are gone.

So pick the toys you REALLY want to see, then prioritize them in order of what’s the most important thing you need all the way down to those that would be fun to see, but it wouldn’t matter if you missed them. You will accomplish much more and see those things that will make a difference for you in the next 12 months.

The show floor oftentimes makes no logical sense. Booth numbers that go smoothly from number to number suddenly veer off into nonsense and you stand around saying “Well it should be right here, it’s the next number in sequence.” Fortunately “there’s an app for that.”

If you have a smartphone or tablet download the fabulous NAB Mobile App. I used this for the past few years and it’s awesome. My favorite feature is that you can highlight all the folks you want to visit ahead of time. During the show, the app will show me where I am and where my target destinations are, makes for easy navigation around the show. Well, easier navigation, you’re still going to have those “WTF?” moments when the booth numbers make no logical sense….

Another great way to help with navigation on the show floor and to find your way back to location is to use reference points. Pick a banner, a booth, whatever that has a high sign that you can clearly see to use as a reference point to find your way around. I often use the AJA Video Systems booth and one of the music libraries in South Lower as my reference points for example. I can visually see that point and if I know a booth I’m looking for is in the general area, I can use that to find it.

In particular, use these reference points to find the bathrooms. Small thing I know, but at least in South Hall, they are along the far left and right walls and finding these easily is a good thing. :)

Dinner with a trio of incredible colorists and all around nice guys at Sinatra's in the Wynn Hotel.

Stay tuned for the Sunday announcements.

Many companies presenting at NAB will either have press events or issue press releases on Sunday announcing their latest toys that will be on display in the exhibition halls. Websites such as have great news feeds that help you follow along with the almost dizzying array of releases.

Make notes of the releases that are of special interest to you so you’ll know what that company is debuting, locate their booth number, and prepare some questions. Yeah, write your questions down or put them in your phone / tablet because you’ll definitely forget what you were going to ask when you get to the booth. EVERYTHING sounds incredible in the press release, seeing it on the show floor and asking the right questions can get you a better picture of what the toy can and cannot do.

Most of the manufacturers on the show floor are very frank about what their products CAN’T do. They want to make sure the right information gets out and they want you to be a satisfied customer. So don’t just take everything at face value, ask questions!

Monday Morning

You do not have to start lining up at 8:30am to be the very first one into the convention hall. Things do not start disappearing at 9:01am. Every single year, there’s a huge mob of people just lining up outside South Hall waiting to sprint into the convention. You don’t win points for being first. Just relax, grab a cup of coffee or tea at the Starbucks and when the gates open, there will be plenty of room for everyone. The place holds something like 100,000 people, so relax…..

Super cool custom DSLR camera rig we saw at last year's Media Motion Ball.

Limited time to visit? Come later in the week.

If you’ve already made your plans, it might be too late for this, but if you really want to get hands on with equipment and software in the booths and ask questions, Wednesday and Thursday are the best days. Monday and Tuesday the crowds are the largest. Especially Thursday the crowds are always much smaller giving you much better access to the booths.

If you are going to be there all week, my advice is to avoid the “big booths” Monday and make discoveries in the outlying smaller booths in all the halls. Especially lighting and audio always seem to have the smaller crowds and they make great areas to visit, especially Monday all day.

Also take in the outdoor exhibits between South and Central Hall where there are remote production trucks, satellite uplinks and other very cool displays. While you may never have the need for a remote production truck, just walking through one and seeing how they have managed to configure an entire production facility in a very small footprint can certainly give you some ideas for designing your own production space.

In Central Hall I always go in to check out what’s the latest in microphones and field recording because when a show idea comes up, for whatever reason I start thinking about the microphones I saw and how we can use them.

I’ve also found some really cool widgets, software and tools for my work that I never would have found without just strolling “off the beaten path” as it were, such as my incredibly awesome Anthro edit consoles. Not sure where all the aerial platforms are going to be, but there are multiple remote controlled helicopter and multi-rotor companies out there now that provide outstanding platforms to shoot from the air.

Look! Nice comfortable chairs! Sit a while and take in a presentation. Your feet will thank you!

Pace Yourself, stay hydrated.

Unless you are only in Vegas for one day (because your cheap boss wouldn’t spring for at least two days) pace yourself, nothing is going anywhere for four days. It’s not like those stupid 4am day after Thanksgiving sales, there’s nothing that’s going to disappear except maybe some of the free swag that you’ll probably throw away when you get home anyway.

Many of the booths have chairs, small theaters with presentations throughout the day which are great to just sit and take a break for a few minutes. Sit in on some of the presentations that are about the toys you are considering. Sure these are well planned 15 – 30 minute presentations, but watching them can give you a good sense of whether the toy is what you expected it to be. In addition, the presentations allow you to form questions to pose to the folks working these toys in the booth. And there’s that sitting down for 15 – 30 minutes part that’s a good thing for your feet.

And above all stay hydrated, drink lots of water. The air is very dry in Las Vegas and it’s easy to get dehydrated with all the walking around you’re going to be doing. Not just at the convention, walking around the streets of Vegas will wear you out if you don’t stay hydrated. One of my first stops every year is to CVS pharmacy or small shop on the street to pick up a 6 pack of bottled water that I can refill as the week goes on.

Remember that Vegas also uses a lot of forced perspective, so things that appear to be right down the block are actually 1/2 mile or more away. For example what looks like a short walk from New York, New York Casino to Treasure Island is more like a 30 to 45 minute walk up the street.

Places are farther than they appear......

Evening Events.

Many manufacturers and groups have evening and after hours events. These are as simple as meet and greets to the world-renowed AJA VIP party. Some are free and some cost to attend. For the most part they’re fun and these are generally the best place to simply hang and meet up with your peers. You’ll find many of the bloggers, the writers, and folks who post on the various forums and tweet away all year long. And don’t be shy at these events, just walk up and say hello.

Now the same suggestions for the main show, also apply to the evening events. Primarily, pace yourself. There are a LOT of evening events, pick and choose a few, if you don’t make them all, so what? It’s ok. And manage your intake of alcohol. Yes everyone likes to party and have a beer or two, but I’m amazed at the number of folks revert back to frat college days and get completely wasted to the point where you really don’t even want to be around them. As many of the beer companies remind us, “Drink Responsibly.” And at most of these you’re going to do a lot of standing, so again, wear comfortable shoes!

Media 100 buddies from waaaaay back in the early 90's. Avid's Marianna Montague. One of the nicest people in the industry.

My absolute favorite event each year is the Media Motion Ball. It’s a smaller gathering, costs a bit more money because they serve a very nice buffet sit down dinner and is more low key than some of the other larger gatherings. It’s quieter so we can all chat and it’s a very friendly atmosphere. The sponsor tables are also usually in the same room and are very approachable. Often you’ll find the folks from the “big booths” like Blackmagic Design where you can meet more one on one with the product folks than out on the floor.

The biggest event for the Post Production industry is always the SuperMeet. Part carnival, part demonstration, always entertaining. Home of the one of the largest raffles in all of NAB. It’s also a great place to find out if there are any Post Production User Groups in your area as they do a parade of user groups as part of the event. Personally I go for about the first 1/4 to 1/2 of the event spending more time out in the sponsor area as it’s a great place for me to catch up with a lot of my friends and to meet many of you from the CreativeCow, my blog and Twitter.

I got reminded of the Red Giant / Maxon Pinball Party this year and am definitely going to make it there this year. 150 pinball machines with an ice cream truck just sounds like way too much fun to pass up.

Most manufacturers and groups will have events posted on their websites or at the booths so check them out and decide if anything works for you. And if you don’t want to go out and party, then don’t, there are so many great restaurants and food joints all over town, go enjoy yourself at one of those.

I forgot my hard drive, power cord, etc…

The Fashion Show Mall (weird name I know) located near Treasure Island and the Wynn hotel has an Apple Store and other electronics stores that should have whatever you left behind or lost on your way to Las Vegas. Other good stores and a great food court in there as well.

By the way, bring a small power tap or power strip so you can recharge all that electronic gear you need at night.

Beyond the Show, my suggestions for food and fun.

You’re in Las Vegas, there are literally tons of things to do besides gambling. Quite honestly gambling bores me, I used to work in the largest casino in the world and slot machines and such never interested me. I do place one bet each year on the weekend NASCAR race, but beyond that, not much else. So here’s some thoughts beyond the obvious gambling and drinking.

I can’t over emphasize how good the restaurants are both on and off the Strip. Buca de Beppo is wonderful off the strip. Our favorite buffet has been the Spice Market Buffett in Planet Hollywood but this year we’re going to try out the Bacchanal Buffet in Ceasars Palace because it features ice cream from our good friends at High Road Craft.

The best grouping of restaurants in one hotel is the Venetian with Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio being the standout, but there are a lot of great choices in that one hotel including the Grand Lux and an awesome Mexican Cantina. If you go downstairs in the Shoppes at Palazzos you’ll find an absolutely killer Espressamente Illy coffee house / gelato shop. My favorite coffee in Vegas.

One fun thing that presents tons of photo opportunities is the Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum in the Venetian Hotel. What makes it so fun is that nothing is behind glass, it’s all out so you can stand and pose with the wax people. It’s silly fun with something like 54 celebrities or so to get your picture with in a walk at your own pace style.

Of the “big shows” in I’ve seen in Vegas, “O” at the Bellagio simply takes the cake for spectacle. I spent as much time enjoying the show as I did marveling at the staging and just trying to figure out what sort of a warped mind can actually create some of this. Simply stunning both creatively and technically.

My 'brother from another mother' Evan Schechtman. Awesome person to bounce ideas with.

The Show is what You Make It.

Simply put, NAB Show is what you make it. You’re around somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 people for a few days. The way you make connections and the way you network is to walk up and say “hello.” That’s how I got to know so many people over the years. I’ve read their blogs, their articles, watched their companies grow, etc…. and when I saw them on the show floor, I just walked over and said “hello” and gave them my card.

Some folks I never heard from again. But those that did reach out have turned into some of the most valuable resources and best friends I could possibly ask for. Networking and meeting new people is the main reason I attend most years. Yeah, Vegas itself gets to be boring when you go every single year, but what keeps me coming back is simply getting the chance to see everyone in one place each year.

So don’t be shy, don’t be rude either, but if you want to say hello to folks, say hello.

There you go, some tips and tricks from a veteran of the Las Vegas NAB Scene. Most importantly have fun. Bring lots and lots of business cards, shake a lot hands and make yourself some new friends you can call upon when need advice. We’ll see you there!

Posted by: walter biscardi on Mar 18, 2013 at 5:55:38 am Production, Post Production

2-Day Blackmagic Cinema Camera Workshop, March 29, 30, Atlanta

UPDATE! ALL attendees will receive a $200 Gift Certificate from Flanders Scientific good for anything in the online store. This is in addition to the opportunity to win additional prizes from Blackmagic Design and Flanders Scientific.

2-Day Blackmagic Cinema Camera Workshop Registration Now Open. March 29 & 30 at Biscardi Creative Media in Atlanta, GA presented by DP Marco Solorio. ONLY 24 seats available for each day.

The first day is geared for shooters of all backgrounds. We’ll have three live shooting setups to show how the camera works in different environments.

The second day is geared toward anyone in post-production that will soon have a flurry of this footage to deal with. Sign up for both days to save money to get a full circle of Cinema Camera production and post-production knowledge.

Full Details and Registration link below.

We thank Blackmagic Design, Flanders Scientific and of course ol' Bessie and the Creative Cow for helping to make this workshop happen.

Posted by: walter biscardi on Mar 9, 2013 at 4:55:16 am BMCC, Cinematography

Getting Hired: Be Professional and Pay Attention to Detail

A pile of resumes at my company showed me that as technology gets better, communications skills seem to get worse. The same talented people who can create amazing things on screen have absolutely no idea how to represent themselves via a resume or online demo. This is the world of Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, Instagram, etc..... where everything is said in 140 characters or less, with a heavily treated photo and no attenshun givun 2 correct grammar yo! Seems people have forgotten how to represent themselves professionally for that all important "first impression." Or maybe they were just never shown at all. You never, ever get a second chance at a first impression. For most of you, an email with a resume attached is that first impression.

There's two VERY important things to remember in the creative field. 1: You have to be talented at what you do or show a very strong drive to better the talent you currently have. 2: You MUST fit in with the creative culture of the company you're joining. In my opinion, #2 is more important. We get a sense of how you're going to fit from that initial contact. Most of what I'm about to say seems to be common sense, but apparently it isn't.

Is your Email Address Professional?
Your email address makes a statement, believe it or not. When your contact information is,, or Well you come across as arrogant, an escort, irresponsible and quite simply, a turnoff from the employer side.

Those email addresses that are so "fun" and "cool" with your friends can paint a completely different picture when you're in the professional workplace. The addresses can give the employer pause as to whether you can be professional in the workplace. This might seem unfair, but first impressions are everything, especially when you're being compared to dozens, 100, 1000 or more people applying for a single position.

I'm not saying ditch your personal email address for all your friends, but get a new one for your professional communications. Obviously just keeping it as simple as your name is a great way to go but if your name isn't available, add a descriptive like or This applies to freelancers as well.

Pay Attention to Detail
Generally a job description tells you enough details to give you a sense of how to contact the business. Send your materials to the right person. Send materials to the wrong person and right off the bat, you failed Hiring Test #1. It's honestly that simple from the business standpoint. This is such a simple detail, if you can't follow this simple direction, you're at the bottom of the pile.

Show Me the Skills
Our recent job position was for a Video Editor. So knowing that, don't send a two page resume with video editor as the very last thing on page 2 or a resume that doesn't include video editor at all. What that tells me is you feel much more confident in the other abilities you're listing rather than your video editing ability. If you're applying for a specific skill, play up THAT skill in your resume / reel / materials.

And by the same token, don't let a lack of "professional experience" discourage you from applying for a position if you feel you have good basic skills and a passion for the job. I've hired several people for jobs with little "professional experience" but had really good storytelling skills on their reels.

Be Concise
A multi-page resume is not going to impress the employer any more than a well written, well organized single page resume. Just because you've worked on over 100 projects in the past two years doesn't mean you need to list every single one of them individually and every task you did on that job. Tell me the most important reasons why I should consider you in a single page, include a second page for specific awards / projects if necessary, but again, keep it concise.

Along the same lines, most people no longer include a cover letter. The cover letter is your chance to show your passion and your knowledge of the profession and job in general. A well written cover letter along with a concise one sheet resume really makes you stand out.

Keep It Clean
Create a clean layout for your resume and cover letter. Flourishes like colored fonts, "cool fonts", huge text headers, film reels in the letterhead and just an overall sloppy appearance just doesn't help your cause. A clean, professional resume layout is not rocket science, there are examples just a simple Google search away. So forget making your resume "look creative." Make it look clean, sharp, easy to read and save your creative work for the text and your samples.

Everything I've touched on above gives me, as an employer, an initial impression on how you might fit in with my creative team. As most creative facilities are somewhat small, generally 30 people or less, it's generally more important how you mesh with the rest of the team vs. just having the best skill set. So how you represent yourself in your first contact with the company is a first example of how you might represent yourself with both the team and clients.

As I said at the top, this should be common sense, but our recent job posting seems to suggest otherwise. Best of luck to all of you on your future endeavors!

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Principal, Biscardi Creative Media
Executive Producer, MTWD Entertainment
Executive Producer, Our Story Media

Posted by: walter biscardi on Jan 20, 2013 at 8:02:56 am

Workflow Update: iMac, Adobe and the "X" Factor

Apple iMacs

As I noted in my previous blog, the iMacs are fast becoming my machine of choice and the newest models are even more impressive than the two we have running. At this time, barring any major announcement from Apple that changes my mind, my plan is to replace the remaining 3 Mac Pros in Edits 1, 3 and 4 with 27" iMacs and AJA T-Taps. Once our original series hits, well I'll need 8 of them for that series alone. I'm looking at the 3.4 Ghz model though I'm not totally sold on the Fusion drive since it's brand new. Kind of disappointed I can't do the SSD Drive + SATA drive like before. I may very well go with the 3TB SATA and wait on a Fusion drive until second generation. For RAM, I'll go back to Other World Computing where 32GB is only $195 vs. $600 via Apple upgrade. I'll definitely step up to the nVidia GeForce 680MX and I'll swap out the wireless keyboard for the full sized keyboard with the number pad. Only looking at $2717 from Apple (including AppleCare) +$200 from Other World computing. Absolutely incredible for all that power plus the beautiful 27" screen.

We've had at least one iMac in production for over 6 months now and they are fast machines. The only place you'll notice them to be a bit slower than the absolute fastest machine is when you go to render. Depending on what you're rendering out, it might take a bit or a lot longer than a 12 - 16 core machine. So we're keeping our two 12 core Mac Pros and simply using those to do heavy lifting renders. When a project is done on the iMac, we can simply open it up on the 12 core and render away. But for news stories and even our documentaries, those are being rendered directly on the iMacs.

I know some folks out there look down on the iMacs because they ARE less powerful than a desktop and they are less configurable. I've seen articles of late showing all you all the technical reasons why you really need to consider more than just processor speed and RAM for maximum performance and that's correct. If you need ONE machine, and you only work with ONE machine in your operation, you probably want a desktop. Something beefy with dual graphics cards, 12-16 cores and gobs of RAM so you can get your work done and rendered as quickly as possible.

In my case, our facility is set up for 9 edit suites (5 currently running) and the potential for some new series coming in the door. For that, I need the best performance vs. cost not only to upgrade all the suites, but also maintain competitive rates vs. other post facilities in the area. I need a bunch of machines that can cut fast and are reliable no matter how much data we throw at them. So far, the iMac is proving more than capable of that and most of all, the clients have not noticed any change in the day to day operation of our shop. Premiere Pro, After Effects and Photoshop all work efficiently on the iMacs and that's about 90% of our work right there.

Adobe Premiere Pro Workflow

Somebody asked me recently to update y'all on our workflow with Adobe Premiere Pro. As I have mentioned in the past, we started right off the bat with An Editor's Guide to Adobe Premiere Pro and the media management section of that book is THE most important section for any editor to read. That section really set the basis for how we manage the workflow of all the projects.

My biggest concern going into Premiere Pro was the fact that there was no primary codec to work with, it's sort of a free-for-all. Adobe's biggest selling point is "Just worry about creating, we'll handle anything you throw at us natively." And on that they are pretty much accurate. We've only run into one specific codec / computer combination that really threw Premiere Pro for a loop and that was XDCAM Quicktime files on Windows. There's no native XDCAM QT codec for playback on Windows so you need to purchase a plug-in from Calibrated Software to make that work. But even with the plug-in, our Windows machine just chugged when we had to use XDCAM QTs that were delivered to us from shooters in the field. Beyond that single codec / computer combination, it really IS anything goes with Adobe Premiere Pro.

After coming to terms with the fact that Adobe really can handle anything natively, we decided to roll with it. So we will bring all elements into a project natively unless there is a good reason not to. Keep in mind we are an independent Post Production Facility so that means we have zero control over the footage our clients bring us. Adobe Premiere Pro has greatly improved our efficiency in having to deal with whatever the shooters send us and allowing us to get right to work.

The general workflow for a typical project for us, which is usually a news / documentary / episodic is as follows:

All media is first checked by our Media Management Specialist. Kelly manages our media database and organizes all the materials for and upcoming project, including pulling any archived materials we may have including tapes and digital media.

Kelly will then load up all the raw media organized as described in that Editor's Guide book I mentioned earlier. We use a modified version of the folder structure they show in that book but essentially we keep everything organized by how it came in. If a shooter shot three P2 cards, those cards are loaded into the project in their original folder structure since Adobe can read them natively. If we have tapes captured, they are put into their own folder and so on. As much as possible, we try to have Kelly put everything onto the SAN prior to the edit so the editors can start right off by setting up the Project instead of having to pull all the media as well.

The editor will then usually create a Bin for each element in the Project. So those three P2 Cards will come into three Bins with the same names as the P2 cards. Generally the Producers are going to come to us and tell us "Card 2, Shot 2X24Os" so it makes sense to keep the bins organized the same way the Producer logs them. We never re-name the clips, though we may put descriptive information in the metadata or at the very least the Description field. We often color code the clips too for easy timeline identification of what various elements are.

The Editor will also ensure to select "Put Media Cache Files in same location as Media Files" (or something like that) as we run on a SAN. These are the Peak Files that you will see Premiere Pro generate when you import your footage. By putting them with the media files, you can open the project on multiple machines and not have to re-generate the peak files each time. If you have a small project, it's no big deal to regenerate the peak files, but a documentary with 20 - 200 hours of material, well that can take hours.

For the offline editing, we will generally use either a 720p/59.94 or a 1080i/29.97 timeline using the AVC-Intra 100 preset in Premiere Pro. These are two great base timelines to use for high quality editing to output. We'll leave the Video Previews set to MPEG I-Frame for the offline as well. During this phase, the editor will literally edit with everything native, as is with no conversions made. 720, 1080i, 525, 625, 24, 30, 60, 25, 50, MPEG, H264,Internet downloads, etc..... whatever the raw material is, we just throw it into the timeline and edit. This is the biggest strength of Premiere Pro that we simply get the materials into the system and start editing. There's no sense in converting everything if you don't even know what will be in the final cut. BUT we do generally color code things in such a way so that we can identify things that we definitely will want to do conversion on before the final cut, makes it easy to pick those shots out later.

Once we have a "locked cut" (parenthesis because as we all know there never really seems to be a locked cut any more) then we will start cleaning up the materials that need it. We'll use our AJA Kona and IoXTs for example for most of our format conversions. Say we're editing in a 720p/59.94 timeline, we'll take all the 1080i / 29.97 material and run it through the AJA products to make them all 720p/59.94 via hardware. Generally we do this the easy route by just throwing all the 1080i / 29.97 material into a single timeline and just making a single pass rather than do each shot individually. We can always refer back to the original media via a previous cut of the project so it's no big deal to simply have a file called "1080i Converted" in the main timeline. Same goes for SD that has to be upconverted to HD. AJA hardware does a much better job that just Adobe software. Although we are awaiting delivery of a Blackmagic Teranex 2D unit which adds line doubling with SD to HD upconverts so those will be even cleaner. That will also give us PAL-NTSC or vice versa conversion as well.

We do these conversions one of two ways. Play out the timeline from one edit system to another or play out the timeline from one edit system to our AJA Ki Pro which is how we usually do it. Love, love, LOVE the KiPro since it automatically makes a ProRes file for us. If we want a DNxHD file, we can use the KiPro Mini.

At the "locked cut" phase we also switch the Video Previews over to ProRes or DNxHD as these result in far superior renders than the MPEG I-Frame, particularly with fast moving video and graphics.

For sound mixing, we do one of two things currently. For most documentary and all broadcast projects, we'll output an OMF for our ProTools sound designer along with an H264 reference quicktime file. He'll then create a Stereo Mix or a Stereo Mix plus split tracks depending on the broadcast requirements.

Or the editor will simply mix in Adobe Premiere Pro if it's a project that doesn't require or have the budget for full sound design. Right now that's a bit clunky since we can't use the audio mixer for the mix. Well, we COULD if it truly WAS a locked cut. But the Audio Mixer in Premiere Pro is a TRACK based audio mixer, so all keyframes created by the audio mixer are created by track position. Not by clip. So when our client inevitably comes back to us with a "minor change" that results in changing out 5 clips, trimming another and adding a sound bite, well our mix would be completely screwed. All the keyframes would NOT move with the changes, they simply stay locked into place on the track. So it's a bit of a painstaking process at first, but you learn to pick up the speed as you do it more, but we mix the timelines per clip. Fortunately, you can make Gain and Volume adjustments across multiple clips so it's not as bad as it sounds.

The biggest pain in general is that for whatever reason when using a Wacom Tablet, Premiere Pro does not accurately read the input from the tablet so the keyframes and any other paramaters you try to set in the timeline will jump up/down/left/right as if snapping is always enabled. This doesn't happen with a mouse thankfully so we'll use a mouse when we have to do a long mix.

For color grading we still export a self contained QT from Premiere Pro, either ProRes or DNxHD, to Resolve. I'm going to finally use Resolve 9 this coming week on a short project to test it out. In Resolve I simply use Scene Detect to cut up the file and grade away. From Resolve it's a rendered QT, either ProRes or DNxHD again, to send back into Premiere Pro.

For file output we'll use Adobe Media Endoder as it works really well and can output multiple files easily.

For tape output, we use our one system that has a BlackMagic Extreme 3D card in it that can lay to tape frame accurately each time. MUST ensure that the Premiere Pro interface is on a single screen or there will be dropped frames. Simple go to the Windows > Workspace and choose "Editing." That brings the entire interface to a single screen.

Premiere Pro caveats

Tape Capturing is still completely useless in the software so we still break out FCP 7 pretty much exclusively for that operation. We do a lot documentary and news style work so we're always pulling materials from tape. It's still an essential part of our workflow so instead of trying to force Premiere Pro to do something it really can't, we just switch to a tool that can. Works well as we usually have Kelly do the capturing on a dedicated system so the edit suites aren't tied up capturing.

The biggest issue we've run into are project that files that come up as corrupted or missing elements and cannot be opened. Seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why this happens. Projects from 9 months ago, 6 months ago, last week. They just suddenly won't open on any of our systems. With the work we do and the clients we work with, we're constantly opening projects from as far back as 5 years ago to revise, repurpose, and pull elements from. We can go back into our FCP projects from 10 years ago and open pretty much all of them without a problem. This is something I've been VERY vocal to Adobe about and I have every confidence they are addressing this very important issue. Fortunately there is a very easy workaround. Simply create New Project and import the "corrupted" project into that. Continue working.

Premiere Pro moving forward

The tool has become the workhorse at our facility. It's a great storytelling tool and I'm finding that my rough cuts are going so much faster than with FCP. The hoverscrub in the bins is so fast for auditioning shots and while I'm still using the FCP keyboard presets, one of my editors has switched completely over to the Adobe presets because once you get used to them, you can fly even faster. I definitely need to get up to speed on all the keyboard editing / trimming. That's what folks love Avid so much for, but PPro has made major gains with these controls in 6.0 and I'm sure it's just going to get better moving forward.

So right now, I'm very happy with where Premiere Pro is today and where it's poised to move going forward. It's not perfect, but it's a solid tool and a great storytelling device. The tight integration of the entire Adobe Suite also makes life really easy when we get to the finishing process of any project.

Final Cut Pro X

I've had a lot of folks asking me if I'm considering re-introducing FCP based on the most recent updates from Apple. Here's the way I look at X today.

If you're using FCPX right now, you should be really happy with what Apple's doing. You're getting more features back into the tool and they should be making your day to day work more efficient.

For me, I see no reason to switch back to FCP. It's amusing to see Apple touting the "new features" such as Drop Shadow and the Dual display. In my mind, those are simply corrections and an admission from Apple that X was released before it was ready for prime time. In the interim, we've switched off to other NLE platforms and in my mind, both Adobe Premiere Pro and Avid are superior to what FCP X is today and certainly superior to what FCP 7 was back in the day. There are certainly some good concepts in X but as a whole package, it falls short of my needs today.

I never say never, and if a client were to come in tomorrow and demand we use X for a project, we'll use it, we have it in the shop. But as far as the tool of choice, there's nothing in X today that makes me remotely consider swapping out Premiere Pro for X as our primary or even secondary tool. There's also something to be said for looking at companies whose main source of profit comes from really good professional software vs. consumer hardware. When software is a loss leader or a minor portion of your profit margin, you can do more what you want to do vs. what the market is asking for.

Adobe, Avid and Autodesk are all actively reaching out to the professional editing community to make their products better and more accessible. I appreciate that.

And with that, the end of this installment. Hope it's helpful and thanks for all your support through the years!

Posted by: walter biscardi on Dec 10, 2012 at 3:17:57 pmComments (4) Editing, Post Production

How I Would Fix CNN (and cable news in general). Thoughts from a CNN Veteran

Huffington Post recently confirmed CNN is yet again shaking up management as President Jim Walton is leaving as the once proud network continues its downward spiral in the ratings. As a still very proud alumnus of CNN during its heyday (1990-1995) and someone who has built and managed multiple production companies in the years since, I have some ideas and would be happy to help manage CNN back to the network it once was and still can be.

Report the News, Don’t Tell Me What to Think

When Fox News came along they came with a clear agenda on what to report and how it should be reported. The idea is to shape the viewer opinion and discussion for a pre-determined outcome rather than simply reporting the news and letting the viewers make their own mind about the events. So instead of anchors and reporters delivering the stories, they make use of endless “commentators” and “experts” to tell the viewers what they should think of the story. Fox ensures that the majority of the voices the viewer will hear follow the proper message that Fox management wants to deliver on a daily basis. In addition, the anchors have very defined positions on many of the stories.

As a result, instead of being well educated about events both in the United States and abroad, multiple studies show that Fox News viewers are the least informed about th.... When you don’t have to think for yourself, you tend to not pay attention to the information. And when Fox uses loads of panels and discussions, they can fill more time with less actual “news” so they can further restrict the amount of stories their audience is exposed to on any given day. Of course, Fox News also flat out lies when the need calls for it.

So then, why has CNN (and MSNBC for that matter) adopted this “new style” of television news with endless commentators, experts, and panels who discuss ad nauseam the news of the day? As I recall from my days at the network, CNN viewers slanted towards those who were well educated in the news and events of the world. Now by “well educated” I’m not talking about schooling, I mean people who have an understanding and interest in the events of the world. In other words, these viewers can think for themselves. They are not people who want to be told what to think, how to think and who to be angry at. These are also viewers who are not leaving CNN to watch Fox either, they’re just simply not tuning in anymore because it’s insulting to be told what to think.

The viewers are also not tuning in because, well, there’s not very much news with this format. Just like Fox can manipulate how little “news” their audience actually receives daily, this format restricts CNN from actually reporting, well, the news. At any given moment on CNN it feels like there’s a 30 second soundbite and then a 10 minute discussion on what we just heard to tell us what we should think. Boring and repetitive. I don’t care who the host is, or who the panelists are or how interesting the topic might be, boring and repetitive.

I’d be willing to bet that NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams reports more stories in its 30 minute nightly broadcast than CNN and Fox News combined in most of their 30 minute blocks. Quite honestly I enjoy NBC Nightly News more than any other newscast because they do get right to the point with the stories and they squeeze the most news into that 30 minutes because that’s all the time they have.

So how about getting back to basics and telling the story. No prejudice, no slant, no experts telling us what we’re supposed to think about the story, no arguments between “left and right.” Just tell the story and do the best damn reporting from multiple resources like CNN used to do.

Don’t allow On Air Talent to slant or take sides

This is taking yet another cue from Fox News, but it’s a slippery slope. There are hosts across the CNN family of networks that openly take sides and even make accusations without having all of the facts on hand. One host in particular is famous for declaration of guilt or innocence long before the facts or the verdicts are in.

This is tabloid journalism at its worst and has no place in a company that considers itself the “Worldwide Leader In News.” Just run TMZ or hire the Jersey Shore crew to give opinions on news events and call it day if you want go that route. It’s impossible to differentiate “serious journalism” from “tabloid journalism” if it all comes from the same place.

I firmly believe hiring on-air Talent for their opinions is the single most destructive thing that has happened to CNN’s credibility in its history. Credibility lost by allowing one on air person to declare guilt at all costs demeans the work of the real journalists working under the same banner.

At one time the mantra of the network was: “The News is the Star.” In other words, Journalists are observers who report what they find. Journalists don’t interject their own opinion, they don’t make up facts, they don’t shout down others, they observe, investigate and report on what they find. It’s time to get rid of the opinions and put talented people back on camera who actually understand newsgathering and can report the stories of the day fairly.

Tell me the WHOLE Story.

This is 24 hours of news per day. When did the stories shrink to 30 to 60 seconds with nary time to hear anything useful? What’s so important that the news has to be extremely short when you have 24 hours to fill?

The American attention span is short, but yet I keep hearing from educated viewers (again, not talking school education here) that CBS Sunday Morning is their favorite news program on the air. Could there BE a more slower paced news show on television? Why do they like it? Because the stories are allowed to breathe and we get much more information from them than just a 60 second soundbite and some b-roll. Same with 60 Minutes on Sunday evenings.

I’m not saying you run 10 minute stories all day long on CNN, but 2:30 - 5:00 packages throughout the day would be wonderful. Give the reporters, writers, producers and editors time to who the story from multiple angles and more information. Run the 7:00 to 10:00 minute features when the story warrants. If a story runs over the “traditional top of the hour break” then so be it. The internet doesn’t run on one hour blocks so CNN really doesn’t have to either. Sure it’s nice on the TV Guides, but if it’s the difference between a chopped up 1 minute story and 10 minutes to tell the whole story, well just tell the story. We have 24 hours to make up for whatever story we missed “at the top of the hour.”

For the audience that wants to get just the quick headlines of the days events, well that’s what Headline News was designed for and they can just watch that..... oh wait..... it’s now HLN and just another network full of people telling us what we’re supposed to think and who we’re supposed to be angry with. Never mind, I can only fix one network at a time.

Bring back the Talent.

Here’s something that I know will be completely radical and I probably should not put this out there in public, but...... I would bring back a lot of editorial, reporting and production talent. Blasphemy I know because the majority of the money in a corporation is supposed to be spent on management, management perks and more management.

Management in corporate America is paid so disproportionately to the rank and file that certainly with trimming even a small portion of management from the company, that would free up money to bring back creative talent. Management can’t create a quality on-air product worth watching, but the corporation mentality keeps rewarding bad decisions that lead to ever smaller audiences and quite honestly that doesn’t make any sense.

CNN is a NEWS ORGANIZATION that reports the news VISUALLY so without talent to report, write, photograph and edit, well, you’ve got nothing to show other than a bunch of “experts, panelists and commentators” to tell us what to think. So first and foremost I would bring back the actual talent that can report and show the news. That probably means taking a look at the many levels of management to see how to start trimming that area back instead of the constant firing of the production talent that is so prevalen...

You simply can’t produce an accurate, high quality, on air product if you don’t have the journalistic and creative talent behind it. Period. Hiring a whole bunch of new folks with no credibility or contacts is not going to cut it. It takes years to build up a reputation as someone to share information with. The veteran journalistic and creative talent needs to be beefed back up so the network can get back to telling the stories and telling them accurately.

Educate the Viewer

A recent poll showed that when you remove the talking points from an issue and simply present the facts, there is more agreement than disagreement between Americans.

So in addition to telling the whole story, let’s educate the viewer on issues both large and small. Right now if CNN wants to discuss “ObamaCare” then we’re sure to see two “experts” on both sides of the issue arguing for 5 minutes and generally the person who shouts the loudest wins. How can you possibly explain something so complex as the 974 page Affordable Health Care Act with two opposite minded people merely shouting talking points in 5 minutes? There is a need to explain complex issues so regular Americans can understand them, but not to the Elementary schoolchildren playground “I Know You Are, but What Am I?” level.

Once again, we have 24 hours a day, 365 days a year of “news” to fill. Using the Affordable Health Care Act as an example, break it down and explain exactly what the law is and is not. How exactly the law affects Americans. How will it be funded? How is it different from what is available today and so on. There are 974 pages to go through and comprehend. Break the entire Act down in plain English for the viewer to better understand what the issue is. This will take more than 10 minutes to do, it’ll probably take weeks, maybe months to properly produce a special that accurately explains the law. You run these specials both on air and with full sections of the website dedicated to these issues. No slant, no opinion, just the facts and nothing but the facts.

Educating the viewer will make CNN a very valuable and “go to” resource for the general public. We already know what both sides of any issue already think, there’s no need to rehash that, tell me something I don’t know.

Use iReporters to augment, not replace.

CNN management recently decided that everyday folks with cell phones are going to be able to replace journalistic and creative professionals. They won’t. They certainly can and should augment the creative professionals, but they can’t completely replace them. iReporters are great for “in the moment” action, breaking news, and even some small town stories, but if you’re going to tell a news story, you need to tell the whole story, from all angles, in a compelling way.

There is an art to shooting and telling the story to ensure that it’s reported fairly and balanced. Reporters from news organizations can open doors and get folks to speak out on camera that folks with an iPhone won’t get access to. You need that kind of access to tell the whole story. General public folks with cellphones often just show one side of the story, the side they see when something is happening. Getting the whole story requires trained photographers and sound people along with reporters and producers with experience.

So there’s no denying that iReporters or relying on general public folks with cameras should be used to help augment production when needed, but in no way should it ever replace what trained created professionals do.

Call out the lies and the liars who tell them.

It seems in today’s political and news world, folks are allowed to say whatever they want on television with very little questioning. The attitude seems to be “if I say it, then it’s true.” That’s completely unacceptable in life, let alone condoning it on news channels by letting the people get away with it.

Let’s call them out. Make a statement on CNN, another network or at an event that seems questionable, let’s find the truth. Hold people, especially our public servants, accountable for their actions and statements. That’s one of the things the news is supposed to do, not leave it to comedians like Jon Stewart and his very talented team at The Daily Show.

Get the news right the first time.

There always has been competition to get breaking news out first. This was something CNN did very well for a long time, in part because there was nobody else doing 24 hour news. Now with so much competition, breaking news scoops are measured in seconds rather than minutes or hours. Apparently getting the news onto the air 5 seconds before anyone else means you’re better than the other guys at getting the stories. That’s all well and good until you get the story wrong.

The most recent black eye for CNN was the highly anticipated Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Health Care Act, or “Obamacare.” Not only did CNN get it wrong, it took a full seven minutes for them to correct the story.

It’s one thing to get it wrong, but to take a full seven minutes on the air to correct yourself? That’s horrific. More than anything else, those seven minutes just erodes consumer confidence in the network as a trustworthy news source. So one has to ask, is it worth a 5 second scoop to get the news wrong or take that extra 30 seconds to confirm the story is correct?

Augment coverage on the internet

CNN actually has one of the best internet news websites on the market, but it's rather stale on a day to day basis. Hit that website for an entire week and only the very top section is updated over the course of a week. All of the rest of the panels seems to stick with the same story all week long.

First off, CNN's domestic coverage should be a live feed on the home page 24/7. There's no excuse for the news coverage to not be one of the first things the viewer sees. For the overseas audience, they can change this to CNN International / CNN Espanol or another network.

Second, the website should be constantly updating to augment and compliment the television coverage. The news is all coming from the same place, so why does the website feel like a completely independent operation from the television networks? The two should compliment each other more tightly than they seem to do now.

Put more live, special interest events on the internet and off the network coverage. For example, each and every campaign stop by a politician is not a "breaking news event" worthy of live coverage on the network. Stream those to the internet and those who want to see them, can. Pick and choose events that are truly "news worthy" and not just stump speeches for network air. Same for court cases and the like. If it's not "news worthy" to the mass audience, move it to the internet for the special interest audiences.

Look for and Give People a Voice

In the case of the United States, there are over 300 million people who live in the country. If you watch any of the news networks for any length of time, it appears that less than 200 people are allowed to speak for the entire country about any topic.

There are 300 million voices in this country and while it will take some digging, some real journalistic work and reaching out to the affiliates, there are some great stories out there of Americans doing things right. Just regular people who see a need and come up with a solution. No fanfare, no committees, no arguments on Sunday Morning talking head shows..... With 24 hour news, there's a lot of room to go out and find these stories. Not just a vehicle for talking heads to spew information on what's wrong today, CNN can help present solutions to their audience. Immigration, HealthCare, Poverty, Drought, Climate Change, Pollution, Science, Education and so on.

Very often it's the people who live with the issues each day that come up with the most creative and cost-effective solutions. It's time we start finding those folks.

In a nutshell

I could go on, but these are the major areas where I would start to re-build the network. It won’t happen overnight, but given the chance, I know myself and a few other CNN alumni could put the network back on the path to credibility and profitability, in that order.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.

CNN Editor 1990 - 1995

Owner, Biscardi Creative Media, Buford, GA

Posted by: walter biscardi on Aug 14, 2012 at 2:58:29 amComments (31) Cable New, CNN

Continuing Tales of an FCP Switcher - Our CS6 Workflow, for now

Our third entry in the continuing tales of our switch from Final Cut Pro to anything else. Today we're talking Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 and the workflow we've developed for a current broadcast series. Before you read this, yep, it's a bit convoluted but we fully expect this to smooth out and get better as Adobe moves their product forward.

Native as much as possible

Gone is the "log and transfer" requirement of FCP and it does take some time to get used to the fact that you can literally jump right in without the need to do anything to your media. As much as we can, we just leave everything raw and native as it came in. Saves a lot of time initially and with some very fast "big iron" systems, we have cut our back end render times down to essentially "real time." Our 27 minute shows render in about 28 minutes.

Our biggest struggle is getting field cameramen to STOP converting the native files to quicktime files. QT files actually slow down Premiere Pro as they're 32 bit files. They're slowly catching on but it's kind of maddening when we get the QTs.

The other beauty is that Premiere Pro can read native cards even when information is missing, like those LASTCLIP.txt files that come along with P2 material. I can't tell you how many times that file was missing and FCP would not do anything with the camera data. Premiere Pro can read the data just fine so that's been a huge help.

Capture Scratch

As you know the "Capture Scratch" for Adobe CS6 is a bit different than in FCP. You have to set up the Capture Scratch yourself and we use the strategy laid out in "An Editor's Guide to Adobe Premiere Pro" as our guide to set up the folders correctly.

We create a single Project Folder at the root level of our SAN for each project. This makes it very easy for Archiving at the end of the process as we just simply drag that folder to an Archive Drive. We have to be very vigilant and ensure that all of the media is put into the correct location BEFORE we import anything to our Project. All of our native media and captured video go directly into the Captured Video folder while all audio goes into the Captured Audio folder. We then add additional folders as necessary for Graphics, Exports, Color Grading, etc....

At the moment, if we need to capture from video tape, we still use FCP 7 as we've not had reliable VTR control from our primary edit systems. We will be testing out tape capture via our Resolve system that has the Decklink Extreme 3D in it shortly. We're also receiving an UltraStudio 3D Thunderbolt box to test with our new iMac 27" machine.


This particular project is cut at 1080i / 29.97 and we've found that AVC Intra 1080i / 60 Sequence Preset gives us a perfect starting point for our Sequences in this project. In fact, we use the AVC Intra Sequence settings as the starting point for just about all of our projects.

Most of our systems are set up with the AJA Kona boards for output to our Flanders Scientific monitors and KRK Rokit 5 audio monitors. For the editing process, it's basically the same as FCP though must faster since we're cutting all native as much as we can.

Sound Design

At the end of the process, an AAF is prepared along with a quicktime reference movie for our Sound Designer who mixes the show in ProTools. He sends us back a Stereo AIFF file for the Master timeline.

We prepare the reference quicktime file on our 12 Core Mac Pro for maximum render speed.

Color Grading

Davinci Resolve is our color grading tool of choice and at the moment, it does not support all the native resolutions we can use in Premiere Pro CS6. So a flattened ProRes Quicktime file is created from the final timeline to be sent to Resolve. Again, this file is created on our 12 Core Mac Pro.

Typically we can use an EDL to pre-conform that file to add all the cuts and dissolves back to the edit, but for whatever reason the EDLs being generated by our CS6 systems contain a lot of errors that are causing Resolve to crash. So I just use Resolve's "Scene Detect" tool which is just stupid powerful and generally it takes me between 10 and 15 minutes to prep a 30 minutes show for color grade.

At the end of the color grade process, I render out a flattened ProRes file to go back to the editor.

(Note: SpeedGrade does not support our AJA or BMD I/O devices so that's not an option for us at this time.)


Lower Thirds and most on screen graphics are created in Photoshop. Full screen animated graphics are created in After Effects but without dynamic linking, I just render the self contained movies as they're short and easy to do.

Final Output

First off, we move the Project File to one of our 12 Core Mac Pros for final render. This is our Resolve system that also features dual nVidia graphics cards. Renders are a little faster than realtime.

For this particular series, we need to lay out to HD tape for mastering. Layback to tape is handled by our BlackMagic Decklink Extreme 3D card inside the Resolve system. Before starting the tape layback, we have to ensure that our Video In Point is the very first frame in the Sequence. For whatever reason, the BMD VTR controls don't respect an In Point in the Sequence. So we just have to ensure that the very beginning of the Sequence is the In Point for the Edit.

The we simply choose File > Export > Tape and it brings up the BMD VTR controls. Enter in the In Point for the VTR itself and then click "Ok" and tape layback begins. Unlike FCP we don't see any sort of video playback on the computer screens, we just see it via the VTR output.

That's pretty much it. From there we ship out our tape. The use of FCP 7 to capture when necessary and the flattening of the file for Resolve convolute the workflow a little bit. Those are small tradeoffs for the tremendous time savings just editing the entire show natively. Editors can start working on stories in minutes compared to hours when we had to Log and Transfer everything.

The Caveats

You didn't think this was all roses, did you?

We have a nagging issue with "Media Pending" slates that interfere with the video output both in the software Program monitor and the AJA / BMD outputs. Whenever you launch a Premiere Pro project you invariably see the yellow "Media Pending" slate appear as the software loads your media. As the media loads up, the Media Pending slate should disappear.

For lack of a better term, it's "sticking" across most of our systems. Even after all of the media is loaded and Premiere Pro has finished re-linking, the yellow slates stay up on the screens preventing us from outputting video. Play the timeline, we can hear the audio, we can see the thumbnails of the clips in the timeline, but we can't actually see the video play out. We are talking to both Adobe and Small Tree Communications to see where the culprit may be.

We have also experienced unexplained instability with CS6. Systems that work perfectly for months suddenly come up with the "I'm sorry, your system has experienced a fatal error" message from the software before it quits. No rhyme or reason.

So the move from FCP 7 is progressing very nicely but not without a few bumps here and there. Come to think of it, you can say that about pretty much all software out there these days.

Posted by: walter biscardi on Jul 3, 2012 at 3:09:42 pmComments (9)

Know When to Apply The Brakes

Cutting a few corners. We all do this from time to time because, well it's human nature. If we can get by without anybody noticing..... what's the harm?

When it comes to the creative process, we have all cut corners in one way or another and it's usually to meet a deadline. There's times we just have plain HAVE to cut a few things out, do something a different way because the budget and the time is running out. But when it comes to the quality of the final output, if the time is available, make the time to give your client the best possible output. Today we had to make such a call.

When a project is finished we generally review it in our Screening Room which has a 7 foot projection screen. Primarily because typos just jump right out on a screen that big, but also because if something is not quite right with the video, it's plainly apparent.

Today it was plainly apparent something was wrong with one of the stories on a show. It appeared to be overly compressed for some reason and I knew that it was an HD originated story, not up-converted from SD. We immediately stopped playback and the editor and I went back to review the sequence.

The footage in question was originally prepared by another production company and sent to us along with an FCP 7 project file. It was all XDCAM 1080i that had been transcoded via Log and Transfer to quicktime files. Problem was that some of the footage appeared to be missing when my editor opened the timeline. It was originally a 30 minute show that we were cutting down to a 9 minute segment for our show.

Also included was a self contained quicktime file of the entire story, so my editor and Producer made the decision to simply cut the story from that quicktime file, since all the media was obviously there. In Premiere Pro it appeared as an XDCAM 422 file and while working on the edit, the compression issue just didn't jump out to my editor. They assumed it also had something to do with the un-rendered state of the footage in the timeline. We've also had some XDCAM footage come to our shop in the past that looked overly compressed for one reason or another.

Turns out the quicktime file was the culprit. It was overly compressed by the production company for reasons unknown. The end file size was about half what I would expect for a self contained 27 minute show file. When we put the same shot up on the 7 foot screen from the QT file vs. the original media, the difference was plain as day.

Now this was a fully completed and mastered show, ready to go out the door. We could have cut a corner at that point knowing that the majority of the home audience would never notice the compression issue and just shipped it. The Producer had already approved the Master, we were just making one final quality control check. But our client is paying us to put out the best possible show, not just send it off because they looked at it and said it was ok.

So we put the brakes on and notified the client right away of the issue. We made the decision to replace as much of the QT file with the original footage as we could. This will also involve me going back into Resolve to re-apply the color grade to the entire story. It'll add two un-billed days to the edit schedule due to this all happening just before the July 4th holiday, but it's the right thing to do. Our client is very happy we caught this and are taking the time to correct it.

It would have been so easy to just ship the show and if there was a complaint later, reminded the client that they approved the Master. But that's not the right thing to do, we have to do right by our clients. Spend that extra hour, day, week, whatever, if you have the time available, put the brakes on and put out the absolute best quality product you can create.

Ultimately the home viewer will have a much better experience and that, of course, is why we're in this business in the first place.

Posted by: walter biscardi on Jul 3, 2012 at 1:28:34 pmComments (2)

Mac Pros and other equipment for sale

We are transitioning our hardware in the shop so we’ll have multiple computers and some other assorted hardware for sale over the coming weeks. We’ll update this blog post as equipment becomes available.

All of our machines have been used in a Post Production environment and have been well cared for. All machines are sold “As Is” with no warranty offered or implied. Please contact Randy Lockey for purchase information. Randy (at) or 770 271 3427. These will be sold first come, first served basis and we will NOT hold any equipment for any amount of time.

Check and Credit Cards are accepted for purchase, contact Randy for details. Thanks!

Full details of all the equipment for sale is on the company website blog. It will be updated as more equipment comes online for sal.

Posted by: walter biscardi on Jul 2, 2012 at 5:56:02 pm MacPro, AJA

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Professional Video Editor, Producer, Creative Director, Director since 1990.

Credits include multiple Emmys, Tellys, Aurora and CableAce Awards.

Creative Director for Georgia-Pacific and GP Studios, Atlanta. Former Owner / Operator of Biscardi Creative Media. The show you knew us best for was "Good Eats" on the Food Network. I developed the HD Post workflow and we also created all the animations for the series.

Favorite pastime is cooking with pizza on the grill one of my specialties. Each Christmas Eve we serve the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional Italian seafood meal with approx. 30 items on the menu.

If I wasn't in video production I would either own a restaurant or a movie theater.



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