Larry Jordan Blog

Larry’s Thoughts from BVE 2015 – London

Posted by on February 26, 2015

I’m in London this week attending BVE 2015 – an industry trade show that draws about 15,000 attendees looking to get their hands on the latest technology. There are about 270 exhibitors here with a good amount of traffic at all the booths and some nice energy in the air.

After two days presenting speeches on high-resolution media and recording this week’s Digital Production Buzz podcast, I had a free day today to wander the floor catching up on what’s happening in our industry.


Building the video studio for the Digital Production Buzz has been eye-opening for me. I’ve been in production or post for more than 40 years, but I am still stunned by how much I don’t know about … um, just about everything. So, BVE was a great opportunity to catch up.

Here is a random collection of thoughts based on what I learned today.


I’ve written in the past about our problems with video streaming. Today, I finally figured out where we went wrong: we didn’t get enough bandwidth for distribution.

Talking with Jake at, which is a streaming company, I learned that in order for lots of people to see a streaming video, you need to send the output from the computer to a streaming server (we currently use Wowza, GroovyGecko provides another option) then that streaming server needs to feed your signal into a CDN (Content Distribution Network).

This CDN then provides the bandwidth to send your stream to each user. Bandwidth charges are based on: Bandwidth of originating stream times the duration of the show times the number of users.

A 720p image should stream at about 768 kbps for a talking head show and around 2 mbps for sports or lots of action.

Streaming services include GroovyGecko, Akamai, and Amazon. There are many others. Now that I realized what we didn’t know, we are looking into adding a CDN for The Buzz; I’ll keep you informed on what we learn and who we choose.


I had a great chat with Jess Hartman, CEO of ProMax, about their new Platform product. This is, essentially, a server to which you can add your own existing storage (even FireWire RAIDS), which provides a way to share your existing storage, combined with media asset management, proxy generation, user management and a host of other features all designed to simplify post-production and collaboration.

It is worth learning more about, which you can do here:

(By the way, ProMax recently purchased Caché, which provides network-based archiving to LTO tape. I suspect we’ll see an archiving feature added to the media management capabilities of the Platform in the not too distant future.)


Softron Media Services makes a very interesting piece of software. Using standard video capture devices, it can capture up to eight streams of video (for example, eight cameras or eight video channels) and convert them in real-time using a Mac Pro into ProRes 422.

NOTE: If you only need to capture one or two streams, you can use a Mac Mini. The Mac Pro is required when you need to capture more streams simultaneously.

What makes this REALLY impressive, however, is that you can be editing the video while you are still recording it. (This type of recording is called a “growing” file.)

For example, let’s say you are using four cameras to shoot a school sports match. You can record all four cameras simultaneously, and edit highlights while the game is still going on. This “edit-while-recording” capability can benefit a wide variety of uses: weddings, news, sports, even commentary from a speech or presentation.


We bought new and used lights for the Buzz Studio. And I discovered that the new light has an Ethernet connection on the back that I hadn’t seen before. So, I went round to a number of lighting booths today to learn more.

In the field, if a light has a dimmer we adjust it for each light.

In the studio, it is much more efficient to adjust lights through a lighting control console. DMX is the protocol, first developed in the theater, that is used for lighting control consoles to “talk” to dimmers or lights to adjust the brightness.

(Though, today, I was in the Arri lighting booth and discovered they use to adjust brightness, color temperature, even color. Slide a fader and the light changes from red to blue to green. VERY cool.)

However, music venues use massive numbers of lights as part of the stage presentation. While DMX as a control protocol works great, the five-wire DMX cable does not. It is heavy and expensive.

So, many new lights are now shipping with an Ethernet connection on the back. This allows a computer to directly control the lights using Cat 5e cable, which allows for much more efficient lighting control, with a very common and low-cost cable.

The good news, for me, is that simple converters can be used to terminate an Ethernet cable into a DMX plug by soldering 3 wires from one connector to the other. So, now I can add more new lights and easily integrate them into our studio, without needing to replace our entire lighting control system.


Thinking more about lighting, I spoke with a number of conversations with lighting companies today. All of them are showing LED-based instruments. The big challenge has been that LED lights radiated only daylight-color light. However, most lighting companies now support both tungsten and daylight color temperatures, with the ability to blend between them.

The other issue is that LEDs have traditionally used radiating “panels” without lenses. This tended to rule out shaping the light. Now, SumoLight has an LED panel with replaceable lenses that quickly allow focusing the light; as their CEO, David Yellin, was happy to show me.

LiteGear was showing an LED “ribbon” light that could be flexed around corners, as well as adjusted for color temperature.

The Arri L-series lights have a Fresnel lens that allows shaping the light through focusing and barn doors as traditional tungsten lights. Even more, Arri has a fresnel light that support daylight, tungsten, and all the primary colors, which can be controlled using a knob on the side of the light, or DMX controller. While not cheap, it creates a lovely light in just about any color you want.


Miller Tripods has some very nice tripods and pedestals. (Tripods are designed for the field and pedestals are designed for the studio.) Carbon filament tripods are light and durable, which is fine if you are lugging gear all over. However, they are about 25% more expensive than aluminum tripods.

Aluminum is cheaper, equally rugged, and essentially the same strength. If you are in an environment where you don’t need to hand carry a tripod, carbon fiber is much less necessary. (Even though it comes in a very cool black color.)

Shotoku is a tripod and pedestal company that I had not heard of before. However, they had some lovely studio pedestals (though I wish they went about nine inches higher) and tripods with heads.


I will admit that I’m a skeptic when it comes to The Cloud. However, Forbidden Technologies has developed a Cloud-based video editing system that is worth looking at if your editorial team consists of more than one person.

Their product is Forscene. What it does is create tiny proxy files of your camera masters and transfer them to your server or the Cloud. Then, using their software, you can do a rough cut of your media from anywhere, without worrying about where the masters are located.

Once the rough-cut (which includes editing, trimming and simple transitions) is complete, you can send it via XML or AAF to Avid, Adode Premiere Pro, or Apple Final Cut Pro X for finishing.

Forbidden Technologies has been in business for ten years, so their technology is very stable. You pay based upon the bandwidth you use each month. If you don’t do any editing, you don’t pay anything.

There are a couple of negatives to this approach: they require about 3 mbps upload speed and you need to use their software (which provides security over your images). But if collaboration or a scattered editorial workforce is important to you, check into ForScene.


VoxXpress is a website that connects voice-over talent with producers needing narration. They contacted me a couple weeks ago with a request to use some of my training as a registration prize.

I contacted “Our Man in London” – Michael Powles – who has been our delightful host and camera op here in the city. Michael is a former BBC announcer and has registered for the VoxXpress service. He had good things to say about them, so I said “Yes.”

When I stopped by their booth I learned that all talent listings on their site are free. (Most other companies charge a fee to be listed on their site.) Instead, VoxXpress makes money when the talent registered on their site gets booked. I like that: They get paid when their performers get work. Cool.


I also interviewed a lot of industry leaders for the Digital Production Buzz episode which airs later tonight. On tonight’s show you’ll hear:

* Daniel Saccheli – Event Manager, BVE – talking about how he designed the show

* John Kelly – General Manager, JVC/Europe – announcing four new cameras

* Jeromy Young – CEO, Atomos – announcing new digital recording products

* Nigel Wilkes, General Manager, Panasonic/Europe, about the challenges of the competition

* Jim Marks, DP/Director, presenting a new Schneider 4K lens

* Michael Accardi, President, CueScript, about how to pick a teleprompter

Here’s the link to the show.

Finally, I visited a lot of other companies, like WTS who builds multi-million remote trucks, which I really WANT!! but, sadly, don’t actually need. And, it is hard to fit into my suitcase.

I always enjoy BVE; especially this year because I had time to chat with lots of different companies to learn more about their technology and how I can put it to work in my business.

Thoughts on the Eve of CES 2015

Posted by on January 06, 2015

CES 2015 officially opens tomorrow. Today, however, was filled with press conferences and new product introductions. I spent today attending press conferences and wandering thru the South and Central Halls as exhibitors scrambled to get everything ready for tomorrow’s opening day.

The first thing that struck me, as I was strolling about the Halls, was the hundreds of companies that I’ve never heard of. CES is expected to draw 160,000 visitors – which is almost double the size of NAB.

I thought NAB was big, but it pales in comparison to CES. The Las Vegas Convention Center – all three Halls – is full. So is the Sands Convention Center. And the Mandalay Bay. And the Venetian. Parking lots are filled with demo tents the size of small countries. Registration is so vast you can get your badge at one of 42 different locations around Las Vegas, beginning with the airport.

Seriously. CES is HUGE.

It is impossible for one person to see everything; you couldn’t jog past all the exhibits in less than three days, much less talk to anyone. So, I don’t presume to “have the pulse” of the show. But, I do have some thoughts on media, which follow on my earlier blog about looking at 2015 through the lens of 2014. (Click here to read.)


First, 4K is everywhere. I fully expect someone to announce a 4K wrist-watch. It is now called UHD (which is 3840 x 2160 pixels). This is an ideal format because it can display higher resolution images as well as provide an easy way to view 1080 media using simple pixel doubling.

Naturally, as Samsung illustrated in their press conference, something simple and easy needs to be “improved.” So, Samsung announced “SUHD.” This variation allows for:

  • Higher resolution displays – up to 4K
  • Higher dynamic range – similar to Dolby Vision, which I wrote about earlier this year
  • Higher image quality
  • Richer, more saturated colors

NOTE: I found it interesting that while Samsung lead their press conference by talking about their phones and tablets, they actually demoed their new 4K monitors and kitchen appliances. And, when the actual product reveal of their newest television monitor slowly glided on stage, you would have thought from all the lights, sound, music and fireworks that, at a minimum, they were announcing intergalactic communication directly with ET, instead of another TV set.

Thinking of 4K monitors, Sharp was touting 8K monitors. In fact, they demoed an 8K monitor next to a 4K monitor in their booth. Personally, from ten feet away, I couldn’t see a difference. But the 4K monitors looked great – provided sharpening was kept to a minimum.

NOTE: Sharp says that NHK (Japan) will start broadcast trials of 8K images in 2016. I can’t begin to imagine how much compression that image will need to go through before it reaches the home; and how much of the original quality it will retain when it gets there.

Thinking of distribution, Dish Network announced a new OTT (Over-The-Top –  the latest buzz word that means video distribution via the Internet) service that allows you to get your favorite programs via the Web for about $20 a month, without needing to subscribe to cable. Dubbed “Sling TV,” it will be released in a “few weeks” and could radically change the distribution of television content. This is something I will be watching closely because all of us could benefit from broader access to distribution.


Everything is getting connected. Volkswagen demonstrated their new e-Golf, the “most completely connected car on the planet,” according to VW. It will support Car Play from Apple, as well as a similar offering from Android, as well as VW’s own internal electronics package. You get to choose which one you want for the same price.

Vendors all over the show floor showed things talking to other things via the web. While I can see the benefit of this in the abstract – use your web browser to tell your car to start warming up on a cold morning – if my refrigerator starts talking to my bathroom scales, I’m gonna pull the plug on both of them.

Still, walking the show floor showed just how far the industry has come in getting different devices to talk to each other. What is less clear, is whether there are sufficiently robust device communication protocols for this interconnectedness to be actually useful, or just a killer demo.


BlueTooth is taking over all kinds of short-range communications, from audio speakers to mobile devices. You would think, from all the shouting, that the concept of running a wire from Point A to Point B is positively medieval technology.

Thinking of wireless, Epson today announced a flock of new wearable devices, targeted at sports and fitness fans. They did everything from measure heart rate for runners to tracking the smoothness of a golf swing. These devices will be shipping “in a few months.”


Thinking back to VW, gaming has come to car driving. A new technology demo that VW provided at their press conference showed a large monitor inside a new Golf that connected to a 3D camera, mounted in the roof. The camera was able to read hand gestures from the driver so that you could, for example, adjust the volume of the radio by waving your finger in the air. Wave two fingers and you could change the station.

Curved screens are the new “cool.” Whether I was looking at large monitors from Sharp and Samsung, or curved phones from LG, “bendable glass” seems to be the new thing.

Oh! Then there was a press conference from a company looking for funding for a device that was a cross between a Segway and a skateboard. Able to run about ten miles per battery charge, weigh less than 25 pounds and look like a Mad Max skateboard with cool blue lights. It was a Hoverboard for people that like to move fast without floating.


This is a consumer show, so everything is focused on the end result – viewing movies, as opposed to creating movies. Not all this gear is shipping. In fact, much of it is still several months away from release. But it was fun to see the overwhelming variety of ideas and excitement, even if a lot of it felt like a cool idea looking for a market.

Still, when it comes to getting a glimpse of the future, CES is a great place to look.

2014: Looking Back – Looking Forward

Posted by on January 03, 2015

For the last several months, I’ve been contributing a monthly article to TV Bay Magazine in the UK. I enjoy these opportunities to write more generally about technology. This week, I’ve expanded upon an article that I sent them for their “Year End Issue.”

This is my favorite time of year – a time of resolutions and predictions. Resolutions are fun because they allow us to think of all the things we would like to have happen in the New Year — provided they don’t take too much work on our part.

While resolutions are personal, predictions are a group sport. Last week, on the Digital Production Buzz, I invited seven industry leaders – and Buzz regulars – to share their thoughts on the past year and the new one. Our guest list included:

  • Cirina Catania, filmmaker and supervising producer for the Digital Production Buzz
  • Mike Horton, founder, Los Angeles Creative Pro User Group
  • Ned Soltz, contributing editing, Digital Video magazine
  • Philip Hodgetts, CEO, Intelligent Assistance
  • Michael Kammes, Director of Technology and Marketing, Keycode Media
  • Michele Yamazaki, VP of Marketing, Toolfarm
  • Jonathan Handel, entertainment labor reporter, “The Hollywood Reporter”

I’ve included some of their comments in this article.

NOTE: You can listen to the entire show here – it is well worth your time. Click here.


After another year writing about our industry and talking with the key movers and shakers, here are nine trends I expect to dominate our thinking in 2015.

1. Hardware and software will continue to become more powerful and more affordable. This mean budgets will continue to contract as clients perceive that high-quality work is, somehow, cheaper because the tools are cheaper.

Creative folks need to realize that budgets will continue to contract for the foreseeable future. This means that to combat “bottom-feeder pricing” we need to clearly understand and clearly showcase what makes our skills unique to our clients. However, something I’ve learned is that what we think is a unique strength and what clients think is a unique strength are rarely the same. The more you talk with your clients, the more good ideas you’ll learn from them on how to market yourself.

As Cirina Catania mentioned, “employers are finally realizing that they get what they pay for. Spending more for talent pays big rewards.”

To a US company, your ability to speak good English is expected. To a Chinese company seeking to broaden their market in the US, your ability speak and write good English is something they will pay extra for.

It used to be said that the key to success is: “who you know.” While clever, this has never really been true. It isn’t even “who knows you.” The secret is increasing the number of potential clients “who know what you know.” You may be known as “good old Bob.” But, “Bob” isn’t going to get nearly
the same amount of work as “There goes Bob – he’s an absolute After Effects wizard!”

Jonathan Handel made an interesting comment on The BuZZ when he said: “The industry thinks it’s more progressive then it really is. While it’s politics may be liberal, it’s hiring practices are actually one of the least progressive in America. The industry has a very poor record of diversity hiring.”

2. Editors that define themselves by the tools they use will lose work to editors that define themselves in terms of the results they help clients achieve or the stories they can tell.

You don’t hire a carpenter because he uses a Stanley hammer. You hire a carpenter who can build you a lovely new kitchen.

Computers and software are critically important in media today. But to choose to use, or not use, particular software for “political” reasons is akin to cutting your nose off to spite your face.

3. The trend to online delivery of just about everything will continue to accelerate. If you are not conversant in the web, you will be left behind. The new frontier is streaming live and recorded media via the web direct to the consumer.

Consumers are inherently lazy. It is becoming harder and harder to get them to go places and do things when, with a few keystrokes, just about anything can come to them. Businesses are not far behind. The rate of change today in any tech-related industry is so great that no one has any time to waste. Anything you can do to save your client’s time and decrease their stress will win you work.

4. For better or worse, production and post will revolve ever more tightly around The Cloud. The sad corollary is that hacking will only get worse.

2014 is the year that personal privacy died, Net Neutrality became open to doubt and the realization that if private data is posted to the web there are very good odds that it will “accidentally” become public.

On the plus side, creative teams no longer need to be located in the same geographical area. This means that you are competing with the world, not just the guy down the block. Broaden your marketing. Leverage social media. Think and market globally – work locally.

5. Broadcast TV and cable distribution are not going away, but more and more high-quality programs will make their first appearance on the web. However, making sufficient money to support high-quality programming via web distribution won’t happen in 2015. The big money still rests with broadcast and cable.

Use the web to build an audience, then leverage that audience either via web-based subscription, or traditional cable and broadcast distribution. Provided you’ve got the money to fund the start-up, the web is a great programming test bed.

6. The line between production and post-production will continue to blur. Companies will increasing seek to provide both production and post services through acquisition and expansion. Corollary: Small companies are more likely to survive than big ones because small companies can respond faster to industry changes.

7. High resolution is the trend of the future – from cameras through distribution. Whether most of us need it, or can even use it, is the elephant in the room that no one is talking about.

As Mike Horton noted, “everyone is talking 4K.” Michael Kammes stressed that, with all the new 4K gear, there will be a “rise in really bad 4K” and, in spite of bold marketing promises, broadcasting 4K will be non-existent. The Internet will be the primary delivery vehicle for high-resolution images.

Ned Soltz also feels that the reign of DSLR cameras to achieve a “cinematic look” is winding down. Existing video camera manufacturers are releasing products that are easier to use, require less out-board gear and create similar looks.

8. Industry change will continue to accelerate. Manufacturers are desperately afraid they will miss on the “Next Big Thing.” Except, they don’t know what it is until it’s here. So, to be safe, they are moving in all directions at once.

However, there is a growing push back from media professionals to manufacturers who insist on changing standards faster than most people change their socks. For example, we are seeing a demand that all professional devices support ProRes, plus whatever proprietary format the manufacturer is pushing this week.

Michael Kammes made the point that standardization will continue to elude us, manufacturers will try to leverage proprietary systems to lock in customers and that custom workflows will be the norm in the coming year.

Ned Soltz said he is seeing a clear trend where customers are increasingly reluctant to buy anything new for fear that it will be obsolete in a couple of months.

This means you need to plan on faster obsolescence of core products. It isn’t that your tools will stop working. Just the opposite, in fact. Gear will last longer than ever. But the rate of change will obsolete the technology long before the equipment itself stops working mechanically.

9. A major developer of video editing software – who’s name begins with an “A” – will release a major new upgrade during 2015. OK, so that’s a gimme. But there’s been a lot of hand-wringing this year that [insert name of company here] is giving up on the market because they haven’t updated [ insert name of software here ] for the last [insert time duration here].

Development takes time. Much though we would like major updates to our software every week, that just isn’t possible. Currently, Apple, Adobe, and Avid are all releasing major updates several times a year. That amazing track record is faster than anything we’ve ever seen before. I expect the rate of change in key media software will continue to accelerate.

This is both good and bad. Yes, we’ll get new features on a regular basis, but it will be increasingly difficult to learn how to use them before the next release changes “everything.” Annual operating system updates only make this learning curve more confusing, as we try to integrate different systems each running different versions of the OS with different versions of software.


Everything we didn’t like about 2014 is about to get worse in 2015. On the other hand, everything we liked about 2014 will probably continue.

As media professionals, we have two options: give up or gear up. If you are someone who is most comfortable when everything around them is stable and steady, then media is the wrong industry to be in right now. Because “stable” is a word that no longer applies.

Our survival rests in constant learning, constant marketing, constantly seeking new ways to do things to make the most of the gear and skills that we already have.

Media is a team sport – our industry has long been one of partnerships and relationships. That has never been more true than today. Partner with people who know what you don’t. That way, you both learn from each other. At the same time, create a relationship with your clients. Enable them  to stay in touch with their customers and they’ll provide you the money you need to continue to grow and learn.

2014 was an amazing year – both good and bad. I fully expect 2015 to be the same – only more so.

Adobe Updates Video Applications

Posted by on December 16, 2014

Adobe released updates today for its pro video applications including Adobe Premiere Pro CC, Adobe After Effects CC, Adobe Media Encoder CC, Adobe SpeedGrade CC, Adobe Audition CC, Adobe Prelude CC, and Adobe Story CC Plus. The 2014.2 release offers feature enhancements and updates, including YouTube and Vimeo uploading via Destination Publishing in Media Encoder CC for an easier, more integrated workflow when sending video content to these destinations.

The Premiere Pro CC 2014.2 update includes a number of feature enhancements for editors, including support for Arri Open Gate media, the ability to set transitions and still image default durations in either seconds or frames, and improved GoPro CineForm export. In addition, QuickTime and GoPro CineForm codecs can now be used as sequence preview file formats on Windows.

The 2014.2 update of After Effects CC provides more control over text through scripts and expressions. Additionally, based on customer feedback, the team made visual tweaks to the UI such as making the keyframe icons a bit brighter to stand out better against the background.

Along with Destination Publishing to YouTube and Vimeo, the Media Encoder CC update includes updated Vimeo and GoPro CineForm presets, the option to automatically append preset names to output file names, the ability to export audio channels as separate WAV files, and more. Audition CC, Prelude CC, Story CC Plus, and SpeedGrade CC offer a number improvements as well.

Premiere Pro CC was used to edit David Fincher’s thriller Gone Girl, which has been enjoying considerable success at the box office this fall. “When it came down to it, Premiere Pro CC was faster than anything else in the market,” said Jeff Brue of Open Drives who served as post-production engineer on the film. “That speed meant more iterations, more time to work on a shot, and more time to perfect an edit.” Many of the features introduced in Premiere Pro and After Effects CC were born of the collaboration with David Fincher’s post-production team on Gone Girl, including new project management capabilities and usability enhancements.”

“2014 has been exciting for us,” said Bill Roberts, senior director of product management. “We kicked things off with Sundance last January and ended strong with Gone Girl. Along the way we’ve been able to add great new features, like tighter workflows between Premiere Pro and After Effects CC, an integrated editing and grading pipeline, and our all-new Adobe Premiere Clip app for making great videos quickly and easily on your iOS devices. We’re happy to round off the year with these new updates adding more functionality, refinements, and an improved overall user experience.”

Thoughts on the 10.1.4 Update for Final Cut Pro X

Posted by on December 04, 2014

Yesterday, Apple updated Final Cut Pro X to version 10.1.4.

Here is a summary of what’s new in version 10.1.4:

  • Native MXF import, edit, and export with Pro Video Formats 2.0 software update
  • Option to export AVC-Intra MXF files
  • Support for import and editing with Panasonic AVC-LongG media
  • Fixes issues with automatic library backups
  • Fixes a problem where clips with certain frame rates from Canon and Sanyo cameras would not import properly
  • Resolves issues that could interrupt long imports when App Nap is enabled
  • Stabilization and Rolling Shutter reduction works correctly with 240fps video

Apple also released the Pro Video Formats 2.0 software update, which provides native support for importing, editing, and exporting MXF files with Final Cut Pro X. While FCP X already supported import of MXF files from video cameras, this update extends the format support to a broader range of files and workflows.

For more information about the new MXF support, read:


Immediately after the release, my email lit up with people worrying that the limited new features in this update indicated a lack of interest by Apple in the application. Editors are an impatient bunch.

Keep in mind that this is Apple’s fifth free release in the past 12 months. The 10.1.2 update – which included significant enhancements to libraries, real-time LUT support, OS X Yosemite compatibility, ProRes 4444 XQ, and more – was less than six months ago.

Expanding on the bullet points above, the FCP X 10.1.4 release features key performance improvements including resolving an issue with automatic library backups; I’ve heard about that from a number of users. In addition, the new update introduces support for the AVC-LongG format. A relatively new format from Panasonic, AVC-LongG is part of the AVC Ultra family and provides high quality, high efficiency recording at smaller file sizes. It is being integrated into a number of Panasonic’s pro cameras and video recording devices, which are popular with broadcasters.

NOTE: AVC-LongG support is one of those features that you need if you own Panasonic gear and don’t care about in the least if you don’t.

This brings me to Apple’s Pro Video Formats 2.0 update. This provides native support for import, editing, and export of the increasingly popular Material eXchange Format (MXF). MXF is heavily used in pro video environments for editing, file delivery, and archiving. It’s specified as a delivery standard for European broadcasters, and it’s used as the audio and video packaging format for Digital Cinema Package (DCP).

While many US editors work with ProRes, the new MXF support is a significant upgrade for the video editors and facilities who work with that format. Many of these users are in Europe, where MXF is a delivery standard.

In the past, similar MXF support in FCP (Final Cut Pro 7 or Final Cut Pro X) required the purchase of expensive third-party plug-ins. MXF support is now built directly into not only Final Cut, but also Motion and Compressor and other media tools via today’s update, so editors can work seamlessly with other video products and platforms.


Our industry is evolving at an incredible pace. All of us have our own wish list for Final Cut. Mine includes better collaboration support for small groups, improved audio mixing, better integration between FCP, Motion, and Logic, and improved speed and performance for Compressor. I’m sure your list is equally long and demanding.

None of these requests will surprise Apple. They are continuing to add staff to the Final Cut team and continue to aggressively improve the product. This was “only” a release – principally bug fixes and performance improvements – with continued support for new codecs, cameras and workflows. It wasn’t intended as a major release.

There will be much more to come. Apple is not turning their back on the application, but releasing new updates and upgrades essentially every few weeks.

The recent growth of Premiere Pro and rapid development cycles from Adobe are an excellent incentive for Apple to keep pace. Competition is a wonderful thing.

Look at where we are today. Look at where we were a couple of years ago. The difference is pretty amazing.

Apple Updates Final Cut Pro X

Posted by on December 02, 2014

Today, Apple released an update to Final Cut Pro X to version 10.1.4, which includes some key stability improvements.

Apple also released the Pro Video Formats 2.0 software update, which provides native support for importing, editing, and exporting MXF files with Final Cut Pro X. While FCP X already supported import of MXF files from video cameras, this update extends the format support to a broader range of files and workflows.

Here is a summary of what’s new in version 10.1.4:

  • Native MXF import, edit, and export with Pro Video Formats 2.0 software update
  • Option to export AVC-Intra MXF files
  • Fixes issues with automatic library backups
  • Fixes a problem where clips with certain frame rates from Canon and Sanyo cameras would not import properly
  • Resolves issues that could interrupt long imports when App Nap is enabled
  • Stabilization and Rolling Shutter reduction works correctly with 240fps video

For more information about the new MXF support, you can view the following article:

I’m downloading my copy now and will let you know what else I learn in next week’s newsletter.


Apple Releases New 5K iMac

Posted by on October 19, 2014

Though masquerading as a humble 27-inch iMac, Apple unleashed a monster this week: a new 5K iMac. Named the “iMac with Retina 5K Display,” it delivers 67% more pixels than a 4K display: 5,120 pixels across and 2,880 pixels high; 14.7 million pixels! (14,745,600 to be exact).

Here’s the highlights of the new unit:

  • 5K monitor using highly-efficient LEDs which provide improved image quality
  • Improved timing controller, with four-times the bandwidth of a “normal” graphics processor, drives all 14.7 million pixels individually
  • 30% less power consumption than comparable iMacs
  • i5 or i7 processors
  • AMD graphics
  • Up to 32 GB of RAM, user replaceable
  • SSD or Fusion drives
  • Two Thunderbolt ports, each delivering up to 20 Gb/s of data

A recent blog post on iFixIt indicates that, aside from the display, the new iMac uses the same components as existing 27″ iMacs. (Read it here.)

This is the iMac page on Apple’s website:

NOTE: The starting price is $2,499, which provides a very nice system. Configured for maximum productivity, the price is a still-reasonable $3,599.


From an engineering point of view, this is an amazing monitor at a very attractive price; especially when I can remember HD video monitors costing upwards of $20,000.

There are two cautions to this system, though, that you need to consider:

  • Calibration and accurate colors
  • Can’t be used as a second, external monitor

According to Apple’s press release: “Every iMac with Retina 5K display is calibrated using three state-of-the-art spectro-radiometers to ensure precise and accurate color.”

What I don’t know as I write this is which color space these calibrators are using and whether we can trust the colors on the screen for critical video work. For web video and, most likely, photography, I’m sure this monitor represents most colors well. However, for more critical video work, I need to learn more about how this is calibrated.

Remember that new-and-improved Timing Controller mentioned above? This puppy needs to pump out a LOT of data to feed full-frame, high-frame-rate video to 14.7 million pixels. In fact, it requires so much bandwidth that the current DisplayPort 1.2 standard can’t support it. This is why there’s no separate 5K display – we don’t have any connection on the Mac that’s fast enough to get the data from the computer to the monitor. As fast as Thunderbolt 2 is, it is too slow to support monitors this big.

I expect that to change with upcoming standards such as DisplayPort 1.3 and Thunderbolt 3. However, for now, 5K is limited to just this system.

NOTE: It is interesting to me that the pixel dimensions of this monitor exactly match the supported pixel dimensions of DisplayPort 1.3 (See this AnandTech article.) This is an image size we will be hearing more about in the future. (The iMac screen dimensions also exactly double the screen dimensions of the non-Retina 27″ iMac: 2560 x 1440.)


It is a fact of physics that if monitor size remains the same while pixel density (resolution) increases, then the size of each pixel must get smaller. As pixels get smaller, the text displayed by the application should also get smaller.

But, here, Apple is doing something clever.  On the new iMac with 5K Retina display, if you run the system at “Best for Retina” resolution in System Preferences > Display, the physical size of onscreen objects (for example, text and buttons) is the same as the non-Retina 27″ display. This is because Apple has created an invisible “grid” that overlays the on-screen pixels, not just for this computer, but as part of their overall OS development system.

Developers create their user interface using coordinates on this grid. This means that text sizes don’t change, even though pixel density does. This keeps interface elements looking consistent, while the increased pixel density of the 5K iMac makes everything look sharper and higher resolution.

NOTE: For comparison, this behavior is similar to the 15″ MacBook Pro with Retina display as compared to the previous generation 15″ MacBook Pro without Retina display.


If you don’t need the extra pixels, stay with the existing 27″ iMac. The only reason to step up to this system is for the extra screen resolution.

The entry system is very nice for people that need more pixels but don’t need to move them around very quickly. Still photographers come first to mind.

As your budget allows, I would recommend the following options, listed in priority with the highest on top:

  • Upgrade to the faster GPU (AMD Radeon R9 M295X 4GB GDDR5)
  • Add more RAM, but not from Apple. Look at companies such as: OWC, Kingston, or Crucial.
  • Upgrade to the faster processor (4.0GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7)

Personally, I like the 1 TB Fusion drive a lot because it does a nice job of balancing performance and storage space with cost; so I don’t generally recommend upgrading to other options. I have it installed on two of my new iMacs and find its performance excellent. Its integral SSD drive gives me speed for repetitive tasks and the 1 TB hard drive means that I have internal storage as well.

NOTE: A Fusion drive combines both SSD and standard spinning media into a single unit. The SSD is 128 GB in size and is programmed to store the portions of the OS, applications and data that you use the most. This accelerates your most common tasks, while still providing lots of extra internal storage if you need it.

Keep in mind that for all media work, I ALWAYS recommend storing projects and media on a second drive – ideally, a RAID 5 system, if your budget permits. I only use the internal drive for the operating system, applications and temporary files.

Excluding the cost of RAM, which varies by vendor, the new configured price of the iMac is $2999.00, excluding AppleCare and tax. This is still an amazing price.


I really like the current crop of iMacs and, from what I read, the 5K iMac fits very well into that family. However, my strong recommendation is to see one of these in person at an Apple Store, run the applications on it that you commonly use, and see how it looks.

Whether this is a good system for you depends upon what you are doing:

  • If you are primarily text and menu based, you won’t need the increased resolution this system can provide.
  • If you are primarily looking at images, rather than menus and text, this is a great system.
  • If you are shooting 2K video or smaller, this system may be overkill.
  • If you are shooting 4K video and above, this is a very inexpensive way to see all the pixels in your image.

It is always nice to have choices.

Adobe Releases New Creative Cloud Upgrades

Posted by on October 06, 2014

“Creativity Matters.” This was the central theme at today’s Adobe Max 2014 keynote; and creativity requires collaboration. As Shantanu Narayen, President and CEO of Adobe Systems said: “In our world, design is becoming more important, not less. We need to make technology more accessible…. Everyone has a story; our job is to make sure that everyone with a story to tell has the tools they need to tell it.”

This morning, Adobe announced and released updates to all their Creative Cloud applications, as well as nine mobile applications. Some of the mobile apps were new, others were rebranded and all were linked to core applications such as Photoshop, Illustrator or Premiere Pro. The video and audio applications were initially “revealed” last month at IBC, but weren’t released until this morning.

NOTE: Upgrades are free and included as part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription service.

The stage presentations this morning were hosted by David Wadhwani, SVP and General Manager for Digital Media, and showcased in-depth demos of new Photoshop and Illustrator features and technology.

Key to collaboration is the idea of a “Creative Profile.” This is a Cloud-based individualized log-in that can store settings, fonts, even media in a central location that is shared between applications and accessible between team members. The Creative Profile and associated libraries allow for easy element and document exchange between mobile and desktop apps.

While the Creative Profile does not yet appear in Premiere, the concept of easily sharing files is illustrated in Premiere with its ability to open multiple projects in read-only mode and share clips and edits between projects.

“Good design means good business,” said Mr. Wadhwani, to an enthusiastic crowd of 5,000 creatives, and Adobe said they wanted to make the process of creating good design even easier. Much was made of Behance, Adobe’s portfolio sharing and community web environment.

I”m writing this from the press room at the Adobe Max conference. Earlier last month, I wrote an article outlining the new features in Adobe’s latest versions. Later this month I’ll publish more detailed reviews. Here are some initial take-aways:

  • It was clear that Adobe is leveraging the vast span of its applications to create a highly-integrated suite of products targeted to specific markets. Each application can run stand-alone, but their true strength is in the sum of all the parts.
  • Providing access to all applications is a key strength of the Creative Cloud, because Adobe can count on users downloading as many applications as they need to get their work done.
  • Interactivity and integration with mobile was a key focus, but desktop application performance was not overlooked.
  • In spite of all the news recently of hacking – and Adobe’s servers themselves being hacked – not one word was said on stage about Cloud security.
  • The Creative Profile is a very interesting idea – and probably the first clear example of the benefits of using the Creative Cloud to improve productivity.
  • Libraries, which are shared storage locations which can be accessed from multiple applications, are a very cool concept; even if they only apply to Adobe’s still-image-based applications.
  • The new Premiere Clip provides a easy way to edit and move cell-phone videos into Premiere.

As David said in the executive briefing following the event: “All creatives work differently.” Adobe’s focus was on asset management and enabling assets to move smoothly from one app to another. “The mobile apps have to be powerful enough that professionals want to use them, yet simple enough for anyone to use them.”

A new mobile app, introduced and released this morning, is Premiere Clip. This allows anyone to shoot video with an iPhone (Android support is coming, but no date was announced) then string clips into simple sequences, trim and rearrange clips, add music cues using music Adobe has licensed for the application, add color grades based upon the Lumetri engine in Speedgrade, and output the results directly to social media, or upload to Adobe Premiere Pro CC. The imported clips come in as media, and the edit appears as a standard Premiere sequence.

While this does not begin to touch the editing power of Premiere, it solves the very real need of editing cell phone clips for social media and introduces the power, and simplicity, of video editing to the very large market of cell phone users.

I am very impressed with the speed with which Adobe is updating all their software – more than 1,000 new features across all their applications since the Creative Cloud was introduced last year. I’m also impressed with the integration between the different applications, though the amount of integration varies between apps.

There is a lot here to like – and much to write about for the future. I am very curious to see how Apple responds because Adobe is moving at blinding speed at the moment.

As David Wadhwani summarized: “Technology and creativity are not separate. Creatives have a vision and want to create it. Adobe’s job is to make the intricacies of how technology works invisible. If we create the right stuff, creatives will figure out how it works and start pushing the envelope to create entirely new ways of looking at the world.”

Configure Your System

Posted by on September 15, 2014

The two most popular questions I get every day in my email concern media management and system configuration. In this article I want to tackle system configuration.

These thoughts apply to all video and audio editing systems on both Mac and PCs.


If there’s one really important piece of advice I can share its this: Don’t obsess over configuring the “best system.” Look for a system that meets your needs and budget.

Technology changes daily. Whatever you buy today will be out of date next week and no longer sold next year. The absolute best system today won’t be worth anything in four years; and six years from now we’ll wonder how we could get any productive work done with it.

We need to change the question from: “What’s the best?” to “What do I need to meet my needs?”


We need to pick our hardware depending upon three broad categories of editing:

  • Image size, frame rate and video codec
  • Single-camera vs. multi-camera
  • The amount of effects you apply to each clip

Clearly, it would be great to configure a system that handles everything all the time in real-time with no problems. However, most of us don’t have that kind of money lying around.

Again, we need to change the discussion from “I want it to do everything,” to “I need a system that handles my current editing with room to grow in the future.” This means that we need to take a hard look at the kind of editing we are doing and what we plan to do for the future.


If all you or your clients need to edit is SD video, any computer and virtually any hard disk will be fine. (For most editing, USB 2 is too slow to be reliable. However, it will be fast enough to edit simple DV video on Windows. I recommend FireWire 800 for DV editing on the Mac.)

All DVDs always-and-only display standard def video. As long as you have a DVD burner, you don’t need a really fast computer. Yes, video compression will benefit from faster computers. However, if all you are doing is compressing for DVDs, you won’t see speed gains significant to justify the cost of buying a high-speed computer solely for DVD video compression.


Any currently shipping computer can edit HD video with few problems. Most medium- to high-end computers can edit 2K or 4K images, again, with few problems. The computer is no longer the key device it used to be. The issue with larger frame sizes is not the speed of your computer, but the speed and capacity of your storage.

For most single-stream, HD video editing, a single hard drive attached via Thunderbolt, USB 3, or FireWire 800 will be sufficient. (I do not recommend editing HD video using USB 2 or FireWire 400 devices.)

Here are a few typical codecs and data rates:

  • AVCHD / H.264. Up to 10 MB/second, including audio
  • AVC-Intra. About 15 MB/second, including audio
  • ProRes 422. About 18 MB/second, including audio
  • ProRes 422 HQ. About 25 MB/second, including audio

Keep in mind that data rates double for unrendered footage when dissolving or wiping between two video clips for the duration of the transition.

A single spinning media hard drive transfers data around 120 MB/second (85 MB/second for FireWire 800). This speed is more than adequate for standard HD editing.


SSD drives are blindingly fast. Speeds 4 – 5 times faster than standard spinning media are typical from a variety of vendors. However, there are two big downsides to SSD drives. They:

  • Only hold a fraction of media that a spinning media (standard) hard disk holds
  • They cost 2-4 times more than a spinning media drive

If money is no object, SSD drives make a huge difference in performance. However, if you need the maximum amount of storage without breaking the bank, the best use of SSD drives is to use them as your boot drive. This provides screaming performance for the operating system, applications and all background processes. Then, use standard hard drives and RAIDs for media storage on external devices.

NOTE: I do not recommend storing media on your boot drive. It is too small if you are using an internal SSD drive and too slow if you are using a standard hard disk. All media should be stored on a hard drive other than the boot drive. In most cases, this means an external device.


As frame sizes grow, you need to graduate from a single hard drive to a RAID. This is a collection of hard drives that act as a single, very big, very fast hard drive. (Here’s an article that explains RAIDs in more detail.)

“But wait a minute!” (I hear you say.) “I have a Thunderbolt hard drive, isn’t that fast enough?”


Whether you connect a singe spinning hard drive via Thunderbolt 1, Thunderbolt 2, USB 3.1, USB 3, or, to a more restricted extent, FireWire 800, the speed of the hard drive is NOT based on the protocol (how it’s connected), but the speed of the drive itself.

Within a few percent, the fastest a single hard drive can go, without flash (SSD) acceleration, is around 120 MB/second. (FireWire 800 maxes out around 85 MB/second.) This means that the only way storage gets faster is to gang drives together; which is what a RAID is all about.

As a rule of thumb, as frame size doubles (720p to 2K, from 2K to 4K) data rates quadruple (um, go up four times!). This means that as you start editing high-resolution images, you will very quickly exceed the speed of a single hard drive. VERY quickly!


The rule of thumb that I use to approximate RAID data transfer rates is to multiple the number of drives in a RAID by 100 to determine its data transfer rate.

This means that a 4-drive RAID will deliver data to or from your computer around 400 MB/second.  (Yes, this varies by RAID configuration (RAID 0 vs. RAID 5), whether it uses flash to accelerate transfers, and other technical factors. However, as a rough guide, this is pretty good.)

This also means that if you take a 4-drive RAID and connect it via Thunderbolt 2, it won’t transfer data at even Thunderbolt 1 speeds. In other words, the protocol is way faster than the drives you are using.


Yup. Using an all-SSD system will make things really fast, but, again, you are trading off total storage. For me, I’d rather add more spinning disks to gain speed, than switch to SSD (which is really fast) and spend a lot more money to get the storage I need.

NOTE: If you need speed more than storage space, an all-SSD RAID is blazing fast. Not cheap, but really, really fast.


A JBOD (“Just A Bunch of Drives”) looks like a RAID, but each drive can be accessed independently. Recently, in another article I wrote about RAIDs, a sound engineer reported that they recommended using JBODs for audio editing and effects, rather than a RAID, because the performance was better.

So I checked with a couple of RAID vendors that also make JBOD devices, as well as some professional sound effects engineers.

They all agreed that, in general, RAIDs deliver faster performance than a JBOD for most audio editing. This is a subject I will explore further in additional articles.


Bit-depth determines how accurately our digital images represent reality. The higher the bit-depth, the more accurately the color (and gray-scale) values reproduce what our eyes can see. However, there’s a trade-off: The higher the bit depth, the bigger the file.

For example:

Bit-Depth Color / Gray-scale Values File Growth
8 256 1x
10 1,024 4x
12 4,096 16x
14 16,384 65x
16 65,536 256x

Whew! Without compression, these files can become gigantic! This is another reason for the adage: “You’ll spend far more for storage than you’ll ever spend for your computer.”


The one place where faster computers will make a difference is in dealing with some of the newer codecs.

H.264 is notorious for being difficult to decompress in real-time. G-5 computers, for example, could not even play H.264 files reliably. Canon has some codecs in their DSLR cameras that require really fast gear.

If you are working with older cameras, you can also use older computers. However, don’t assume that all modern codecs will play reliably on older gear. Sometimes the processor just isn’t fast enough.

This is a good place to point out that testing a video format for compatibility and performance on your editing gear before shooting that major motion picture can save a ton of heart-ache in the editing suite after the fact.

NOTE: Keep in mind that for short-term projects that are outside the capability of your normal setup, computer gear and editing systems can be easily rented and shipped anywhere. That is often a more cost-effective choice than buying all new gear.


Just as storage becomes the gating factor as image size or bit-depth increase, so also storage speed (data transfer rate) becomes the gating factor as you start to edit multicam sequences. Again, even an iMac can easily edit a 12-stream multicam sequence; it isn’t the computer, its the speed of your storage.

Each stream in a multicam stream is a full video stream. For example, when editing ProRes 422 at 1080p 50 or 60:

  • 1 stream is about 18 MB/second
  • 2 streams are about 35 MB/second
  • 4 streams are about 70 MB/second
  • 8 streams are about 150 MB/second

Even a two stream edit is going to tax a single hard drive because the heads can’t switch between the two streams fast enough for reliable playback.

As you start to do more multicam editing, you’ll need a high-speed RAID connected via Thunderbolt.


Yes, for multicam work, an SSD RAID will be a big improvement over spinning media. You won’t be able to store as much on it, but your multicam editing will fly.

Another good technique is to convert your multicam source files to proxy files for the purposes of multicam editing, then switch back to full-res when the multicam is done.


When it comes to effects, the rules change. Storage is no longer important, graphics process is. Both Final Cut and Premiere are off-loading more and more processing to the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit). This means that if effects are your bread-and-butter, for example editing commercials or motion graphics, you don’t need massive storage, you need massive GPUs.

The trend in today’s video editing software is to push as much of the image processing to the GPU as possible. The more effects work you do, the more you will benefit from a high-speed GPU. From what I’ve been told by both Adobe and Apple, the difference between OpenCL and CUDA has, essentially, disappeared. Both will do an excellent job in graphics processing.

NOTE: Before buying a GPU, however, make sure it is compatible with your software – not all GPU cards are.


Here is my recommendation on where to spend money. Not all systems can be customized, so look at the specs of each unit and pick the one that comes closest to what you need:

For the budget-limited:

  • An iMac
  • 8 GB of RAM, though 16 GB is better
  • A Thunderbolt-connected spinning media hard drive

For straight editing

  • Any current computer
  • A minimum of 16 GB of RAM
  • Any medium- to high-end GPU
  • An SSD internal boot drive
  • As much external storage capacity using spinning media as you can afford; preferably a RAID connected via Thunderbolt (or the Windows-equivalent, see below)

For multicam editing

  • Any current computer will do fine for up to 4-5 streams. Beyond that either use proxy media, or get a medium- to high-end Mac Pro or high-end Windows system
  • A minimum of 16 GB of RAM, preferably increase the RAM to 32 GB
  • SSD internal boot drive
  • An 8-bay spinning media RAID 5 or 4-bay SSD RAID 5, both connected via Thunderbolt

For effects-heavy editing

  • A high-end Mac Pro or high-speed Windows system
  • 32 GB of RAM or more
  • The highest-performance GPU you can afford
  • SSD internal boot drive
  • SSD RAID connected via Thunderbolt 2 with sufficient storage to hold a project
  • A backup RAID using spinning media to hold projects prior to and after editing using the SSD


First, your computer needs to support USB 3 or 3.1. Plugging a USB 3 device into a USB 2 port only slows the USB 3 device down to USB 2 speeds.

USB 3.1, the latest version of USB, is the fastest version of USB yet, but it isn’t as fast as Thunderbolt. Also, the USB protocol is designed for moving small packets of data, while Thunderbolt is designed for moving massive media files.

If you are on a PC and don’t have access to Thunderbolt, then mini-SAS, USB 3, USB 3.1, or FibreChannel are all excellent options with serious speed. eSATA isn’t necessarily as fast, but it will also be a good, economical choice when editing fewer streams of multicam video. Given the choice, eSATA is a better choice than any version of FireWire.


The only way the data transfer rate of your storage is going to fill a Thunderbolt 2 pipe is using a RAID with 20 spinning hard disks, or ten SSD drives. Anything less won’t do it.

Thunderbolt 2 is designed, for now, to drive 4K video monitors, not storage bandwidth. Storage vendors are supporting Thunderbolt 2 not because they need to – they don’t – but because they don’t want to be at a marketing disadvantage when they are shipping Thunderbolt 1 and the competition is shipping Thunderbolt 2.

For virtually all editing today – except stereoscopic 3D, high-bit depth, multicam editing – an 8-drive RAID will be more than enough. And, in fact, for most of us, a 4-drive RAID will be sufficient.

NOTE: Another reason storage vendors are supporting Thunderbolt 2, is that when you connect a Thunderbolt 1 device as part of a chain of Thunderbolt 2 devices, the entire chain slows down to Thunderbolt 1 speeds. While probably not affecting your storage at all, this would have a serious impact on any external video monitors you are using.


As you’ve discovered, the computer isn’t the focus of configuring a system. The challenges are storage, GPUs and understanding the kind of editing you are doing.

There is no one perfect editing system, because each of us is doing different kinds of editing. My goal in this article is to help you ask the right questions as you plan your next system.

Don’t get caught in the “What’s the Best?” trap. Think about your needs and find the gear that meets them on a budget you can afford.

As always, I’m interested in your comments.

Adobe Announces New Updates at IBC 2014

Posted by on September 08, 2014

This morning, at IBC 2014, Adobe Systems revealed forth-coming updates to:

  • Adobe Premiere Pro CC
  • After Effects CC
  • Story CC
  • Prelude CC
  • Audition CC
  • SpeedGrade CC
  • Adobe Media Encoder CC
  • Adobe Anywhere for Video

While no pricing or specific release dates were announced, if the past is a guide, the new versions should ship sometime in late October. The update will be offered free to all current Creative Cloud subscribers.

This article details what Adobe announced and features an exclusive interview with Bill Roberts, Senior Director of Product Management for Creative Cloud for Video at Adobe, explaining why Adobe made these changes.


The updates key on four areas:

  • Support for cutting-edge hardware and standards is accelerated via Adobe Creative Cloud, enabling the company to respond quickly to new hardware and software standards. Key updates extend native file support, with the addition of the GoPro CineForm intermediate codec and AJA RAW. Performance enhancements include accelerated Masking & Tracking; and new GPU-optimized playback that delivers better performance when viewing extremely high resolution 4k and ultraHD footage from Phantom Cine, Canon RAW and RED R3D files.
  • A refreshed user-interface across all the video applications supports HiDPI displays for both Mac Retina Displays and Windows 8.1, providing a cleaner appearance, and enabling video pros to stay focused on their projects.
  • Powerful new media and project management features, including Consolidate & Transcode; Search Bins; and Multi-project Workflows offer more ease and flexibility, at the project level, so Adobe Premiere Pro CC users can complete tasks more smoothly. For video playback, Adobe Media Encoder now includes destination publishing with preset options so users can render, deliver and share projects to multiple locations, automating the delivery process. Additionally, Extended Match Source support now includes QuickTime and DNxHD formats, simplifying the workflow for users who are transcoding or rendering content.
  • Streamlined workflows and ongoing refinements make everyday tasks easier and faster inside Adobe CC video apps, including Timeline Views in Adobe Premiere Pro CC; Curve adjustments and Look Hover previews in Adobe SpeedGrade® CC; and Rough Cut Dissolves and keyboard shortcuts for tagging in Adobe Prelude® CC.

Globally, Adobe refreshed the interface for all their video products. As Al Mooney, Product Manager for Professional Video at Adobe said: “Our goal was to reduce the flash and flatten the interface to make it easier to get into the editing.”

During a press presentation last week, Bill Roberts, Senior Director of Product Management for Creative Cloud for Video at Adobe, announced that Adobe Premiere Pro CC was exclusively used to edit David Fincher’s feature film: Gone Girl (Kirk Baxter, ACE, was the editor), Saturday Night Live uses Premiere for all their comedy roll-ins, and a variety of broadcast networks around the world are also now using Premiere, including: ABC, BBC, CNN, NBC Sports, ITV, Viacom and others.

“We now have 2.3 million Creative Cloud subscribers,” reported Roberts. “This is our 5th year of double-digit expansion for our video products. Since first releasing the Creative Cloud, we’ve added nearly 600 new and enhanced features, and released 67 feature-bearing updates.”

“Premiere is the hub around which all our video applications revolve,” said Roberts during the presentation. He emphasized that “the network is the platform,” where all their video applications are able to work together from capture to delivery. Also, Adobe is positioning Premiere Pro for improved color (Rec. 2020), faster frame rates (120 fps and beyond) and higher resolution images (8K UHD).

Both Roberts and Mooney emphasized that there were more than 200 partners developing plug-ins and panels (3rd-party workflows integrated directly into Adobe applications). Companies that were specifically highlighted were:

  • Pond5. Stock footage
  • EVS. Integrated media asset management
  • Deltatre. Data-assisted logging of growing files (files which can be edited while still being recording)
  • NRK. Customer-specific media asset management integration


Here are specific product notes from Adobe’s press release:

Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Automatically generate new bins based on search criteria, including Advanced Timeline Search. Search bins update automatically as you add new content to your projects. Streamline large projects with Consolidate & Transcode. Bring everything you need into one workspace with new Multi-project workflows: open media and sequences from other projects and bring existing clips, edits, transitions, or graphics directly into your current project.

Premiere Pro helps you keep on top of today’s high-resolution workflows. Open or encode GoPro CineForm, an easily managed, cross-platform codec, ideal for high resolution footage. Harness the power of the GPU with native support for 4K, 5K, 6K and higher content, now including AJA RAW, Canon RAW, and Phantom Cine, as well as RED and Cinema DNG footage.

Adobe After Effects CC

Along with a new look, the next release of After Effects offers an enhanced Live 3D Pipeline, allowing artists to work faster with 3D elements in their compositions, enhanced Anywhere collaboration, and usability refinements that make motion graphics and visual effects work easier and more efficient.

Adobe Prelude CC

Log your metadata while the event is in front of your eyes. Use keyboard shortcuts together with your custom tags to prepare content efficiently—and without typos. Deliver media that gives your editor a running start for a faster turnaround in post-production. Add In and Out points more efficiently and apply transitions across clips in the Rough Cut Timeline. Replace, or augment, camera audio with new support for multiple audio tracks.

Adobe SpeedGrade CC

Working with Looks in SpeedGrade has never been easier: hover to preview Looks in the main image Monitor, and click to apply. Add Curve adjustments by adding and dragging points on a curve. Use Curve grading layers on their own or in tandem with the other SpeedGrade color correction tools. With Grading Layer Grouping you can group and name parts of your overall Look, combine Looks, or copy and paste selected grading layers. Add 4K monitoring with Enhanced Mercury Transmit, including new support for Blackmagic video cards.

Render and deliver your work in one fell swoop with Destination Publishing: Add preset options for FTP sites, or your local Creative Cloud folder. Send to multiple locations and track rendering and upload in the same panel. Automate transcoding of all of your project files at once by dragging Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro XML projects into your Watch Folder.

Adobe Audition CC

Open virtually any video format, including RED, XDCAM, MXF, and others. Video files now load faster and play more smoothly. Minimize background noises while amplifying and leveling speech with a powerful new Target Dynamic Range parameter providing even better volume leveling for spoken content. Read and add notes to audio files with iXML metadata support.

Adobe Story CC Plus

Customize text boxes so that notes and comments stand out and assign numbers to camera shots to align with your scene order.

Adobe Anywhere

Adobe Anywhere, the collaborative workflow platform that empowers users of Adobe professional video solutions, such as Adobe Premiere Pro CC and Adobe After Effects CC, to work together using centralized media and assets across standard networks. Adobe Anywhere complements Creative Cloud applications and enables deep collaboration for large organizations working with video, including broadcasters, educational institutions and government agencies. Enhanced support for Adobe After Effects® CC enables visual and motion graphic artists to collaborate more effectively so they can spend more time working creatively and less time searching for missing footage and collecting files. Additionally, new options in the Adobe Anywhere app for iPad are added, so users to scrub and review video footage faster.

Adobe Anywhere for video adds robust collaboration support for After Effects users and brings refinements to the Adobe Anywhere app for iPad, including new scrubbing gestures and sorting options. A new streaming API allows facilities and broadcasters to integrate content from Adobe Anywhere into a variety of user experiences on the web or mobile devices.


After Adobe’s announcements, I spoke with Bill Roberts, Senior Director of Product Management for Creative Cloud Video at Adobe to learn more about the reasons behind this new version. Here’s our conversation.

Larry: Bill, what was Adobe’s goal with this version?

Bill: Well – our tag line is “Creative Possibilities are Wide Open”, which is our way of trying to pull together many themes. Making File-Based workflows at any resolution or frame rate simple and painless is really at the core of our strategy. You see all kinds of features for Premiere Pro that allow you to work more with the metadata around the file rather than the file itself – this means making adding metadata easier (tag panel in Prelude) and easier searching in Premiere Pro – (Search Bins that allow automatic grouping of file-based media on any type of metadata) and ability to search in the Timeline.

Another big part of this is making sure the applications are FULLY optimized for the platforms our customers are using: in the spring we talked about deBayering of RED on the new Mac Pro, now we’ve extended that GPU usage to other formats such as Phantom Cine and Canon RAW. This extended hardware support also includes extending HiDPI
support to all platforms (Windows added to our existing Mac support) and starting to explore touch, not just on devices, but as part of the laptop computing experience – gestures pioneered on the trackpad are being migrated to direct screen manipulation.

Long story short: get the technology out of the way, present the media in the way people think about it and delight them with performance and interaction to allow them to tell the best stories possible to inform and entertain the world.

Larry: In your press briefing you said that the “Network is the heart of the platform.” What does that mean?

Bill: It’s a big statement – but if I rewind in my career to 20 years ago, the platform was custom-built hardware. Switchers, DVEs, VTRs etc. If we go back to the early 1990’s, the workstation became the platform – at first with custom hardware to allow compressed video playback and much later allowing uncompressed playback without specialized hardware. Adobe really began to shine in this age. We are a pure software company so the latter Workstation age and the recent age of the powerful laptop combined with a shift to file-based workflows made the computing platform something that you could personally own – but all of the above models rely on data to be resident on the device or in the same building, but this is changing: Whether the Network is the Internet or an intranet, your machine is connected now.

This means many things compute can be remote and workgroups can be virtual (As in the case if
you’re using Adobe Anywhere – I will be hosting a session at IBC with Mark Keller, CTO of Hogarth on how they are creating virtual teams for their advertising organization that span all of EMEA – whilst the data stays in one location.) It can also be as simple as Creative Cloud files that can be synced and shared – products such as AME can now directly publish to your Creative Cloud account – allowing files to be instantly shared with your virtual team no matter where they are.

Larry: Where and how does the Creative Cloud fit into this?

Bill: It’s a huge part of the vision – we really see Creative Cloud as being the hub of your workflow, particularly for creative individuals or small teams where the project structure may change week to week or month to month (as contrasted with Broadcasters – who tend to define and implement more “static” workflows) Today – you can make a shared folder the location for your Premiere Pro Project and media, this can be synced with other users and you can add comments. This is not concurrent collaboration (as we have with Anywhere) but can be really powerful for small teams and can extend across other disciplines. Think of getting the best After Effects Artist to do a shot for you – really easy way of keeping everything in one place. Creative Cloud is something that is hugely important to all of Adobe, so we’re not doing any big Creative Cloud announcements at IBC, but our MAX event will follow in October – stay tuned!

Larry: How does Adobe view the trend toward higher-resolution video?

Bill: BRING IT ON! We’ve been working with 4K data for quite some time – we now see lots of 5 and 6K source footage coming in – but where we get really excited about is delivering better home experience and the adoption of 4K sets is growing fast:

However, if you look at the size of new sets, the 4K pixels is really something that is needed – but we also need to worry about frame rate – adopting 50P in EMEA and 60P in North America. Most exciting is extended color range to the home. Dolby with Dolby Vision is on the front end of this experience. We’re working with Dolby to deliver a great experience to the home and our Chief Color Scientist, Lars Borg, is chairing the SMTPE committee on mastering for Rec. 2020 (higher dynamic range) and Rec. 709 (our current HD color space). Ultimately when you combine 4K + High Frame Rate + Extended Gamut makes for an awesome home experience.

Larry: You made the comment in the press briefing that Adobe wants to “make file-based workflow feel file-less.” What does this mean?

Bill: File-based workflows have been a double edged sword — breakthrough cost and flexibility, but lots of files need to be managed & manipulated. This takes time away from the creative process. Think about the file names your DSLR or any camera produce. They’re not meaningful until you can log them or simply see the content in the files.

This was the major motivation for creating Adobe Prelude. Prelude gives users a powerful set of tools to deal with this new aspect of their workflow. It makes it easy to do renaming, file ingest, tagging or temporal logging of the content and creating sub clips. Along the way, Adobe created a file-less logging workflow with the Adobe Live Logger iPad app. Using integrated support for Timecode Buddy, users can log events in real-time and integrate their logging metadata with recorded media later in the workflow.

In addition, Adobe Anywhere provides the ability to bridge automated workflows with creative work. It lifts the burden of file management from the creative user. Users just sign in, see their content and edit it. There are no files to mess with and the tedious job of manipulating files can be delegated to an asset management system. The Anywhere API is the key to automating file movement behind the scenes and allowing creative people to focus on creative work.

Larry: One of the striking new features in this version is the new interface. Why change something that was already successful?

Bill: Evolution. We’ve been pushing the UI forward since CS6 – first Apple went to HiDPI display so we supported that, now it’s on Windows, this lead to the removal of small bevels and lines and things that would not scale well for these denser pixel screens. Windows is now also supporting touch, so you need to start making things you adjust more suitable to direct manipulation (for example, if you compare the [current version of] SpeedGrade with the upcoming version, all the sliders have larger touch points) and the gestures we built out of the track-pads are now being transferred to direct manipulation. We’re really at the beginning of a process that we see as an evolutionary path that will continue for years. Our goal is to work with our customers to ensure that every change we make improves speed and efficiency.

Larry: (smile…) It has a dark gray interface, does that mean it is “iMovie Pro???”

Bill: Nah, the darker color is more about color being a dynamic part of the creative process – we want a consistent look and feel to all our applications and ensure that the image is front and center to the user.

Larry: What changes are you making to Adobe Anywhere?

Bill: Many of our customer requests are on the back end – the open REST API allows users to create completely custom workflows with a standard product. One of the key changes is adding access to the H.264 stream the Mercury Streaming Engine creates. This allows customers to create experiences that are custom designed for their environment, such as a browser-based web interface for legal to approve programming is something that can now be built. We have also started to expand the usage of the product from just News, Sport, and Advertising into heavier projects. Long form entertainment has many more assets, so we’ve made changes to the API for bulk loading of assets and have improved performance for large projects. We’ve also added improved sorting and gesture support to the iPad app, which we built to demonstrate the beginning of what was possible and inspire our customers and partners to think about what mobile collaboration experiences could mean for their workflows.

Larry: Is Adobe Anywhere filtering down to the workgroup level?

Bill: When we introduced the collaboration platform we wanted to solve the big customer Enterprise workflow challenges (start with the hard stuff) and delight them. Although we are focused on enterprise customers today, our intention is to “nail it” and “scale it” with a solution that serves smaller workgroups as well.

Larry: When will this version be released?

Bill: We’re not announcing release dates for any of our products at this point – we feel it’s our responsibility to the industry to reveal our features at key events like IBC, then announce the ship date later, PR will keep you posted.


Adobe is demoing the new versions this week at IBC. We’ll learn more about Adobe’s plans and specific features in the weeks leading up to the final release.