the spark of inspiration…

That moment when a new concept is introduced.

A new possibility.

A new potential.

Expanding the universe.

It’s the expansion of knowledge and possibilities.  It’s the discovery of the continued super intelligence that excites me.  This happens with music as well.  A new sound.  A new combination of new sounds and chordal cluster with a profound yet familiar rhythm that changes something in someone.  A new possibility is created.  The universe expands.  There’s more space in which to create.  More exploration to consider.

A new possibility for expansion.

A new opportunity to expand our universe.

That moment where God touches you and reminds you how great He/She/We are.

The reminder of greatness.

Oh boy… NAB time!!

Some dads take their sons on camping trips or baseball games.  Mine took me to audio technology trade shows.  I remember being 9 years old going to the 1986 AES (Audio Engineering Society) show in NY.  Studer was still showcasing their analog multitracks!  Since then, I’ve always been like a kid in a candy store when it came to traversing thru convention centers filled with amazing gear!

Anyway, I’m going to NAB in Vegas next week and I’ll be vlogging from there but here’s what I’m excited about.

4K

In 2006 at the NAB show, I put down a $1,000 deposit for a RED camera.  For two years after that, I was laughed at, teased and snickered at for falling for RED’s ‘scam’.

‘It’s vaporware and will never come out.’  ’Who needs 4K anyway?’

Well, I got my camera 2 years later and loved everything that came out of it.  RED and Dalsa were the only companies with 4K solutions in 2007/2008.  Dalsa went out of business shortly thereafter but RED survived and thrived.  Even after they delivered on their 2006 promise, controversy still raged with the industry’s resistance 4K as a viable production and post-production format.  There was also the argument that RED’s 4K was ‘not real 4K’ because of the inherent de-Bayering process involved with CMOS sensoring.  Lots of FUD, lots of mis-information, lots of resistance to change.  4 years after I received RED camera #187 (yes, 187) the rest of the industry has finally agreed that 4K is indeed the future.  This year’s NAB is going to cement that.

Outside of RED’s 4K (Scarlet) and 5K (EPIC) offerings, there’s a few other hi-resolution format cameras that are of interest:

Sony’s F65 – 8K sensor that downsamples to 16bit uncompressed 4K imagery recorded to Sony’s new SR Codec on their new slick looking flash memory chocolate bars of goodness.

Sony NEX-FS700 – a bit of a surprise – same body design as their NEX-FS100 but is ’4K ready’ with 4K video output that will be recorded to a future Sony 4K recorder.

Canon EOS 1D-C – this is Canon’s 4K DSLR that records 8-bit 4:2:2 Motion JPEG 4K video to CF cards.

Canon C500 – an updated version of Canon’s popular new C300 HD camera that will output 10-bit non-de-Bayered uncompressed 4K RAW.  What we record that signal to is currently unknown, but there will probably be some 3rd party solutions announced at NAB.

 JVC GY-HM150 – yes it’s a 4K camera, but it’s got a 1/2 chip (not 35mm) so it’s not too interesting to me for cinematography.

ARRI Alexa 4K?  This would definitely be a wildcard and I hope they announce their 4K plans at the show next week.

Here’s what’s amazing.  With the exception of the Sony F65 and the future ARRI 4K Alexa, these cameras are under the $30K mark.  RED shook up the industry from a technological standpoint as well as price point back in 2006 and the industry followed.  This is an amazing time for cinematographers and visual content creators.  The technology is more accessible and cheaper in cost than ever before.  How to get a ‘filmic’ look from digital cameras is not the conversation anymore – but more about workflows and which camera company’s color science and form-factor is right for your project?

But how do we display all this 4K content that we’re shooting?  I’ll be reporting back about 4K displays and distribution devices.  I would expect RED to have an announcement on their RED Ray product which last time I checked, could store a full 4K feature film on a standard DVD!  ’Everything in life changes… including our camera specs and delivery dates…‘ is RED’s motto so I would expect RED Ray to be a bit different now.

 

Avid vs. Adobe vs. Apple vs. Autodesk

NLEs baby!!!

Last year, I was amped about Apple’s release of Final Cut Pro X…  until they released Final Cut Pro X.  I didn’t blog about it at the time, but initially I was enraged at the product launch like most editors were.  I was appalled at the missing features and how ‘non-pro’ it seemed.  There was intense disappointment at the death of a platform that I had lived and breathed since 1999.  Final Cut Pro was dead and Final Cut Pro X, a completely new NLE built from the ground up was not going to handle my editing needs.  It was definitely a sad day – not unlike how Windows users of Logic Audio felt when Apple purchased Emagic and killed the Windows version of Logic back in 2001.

I had been experimenting with Adobe CS5 due to their incredible RED workflow and like the extremist I am, decided on the day of the FCPX launch that I was going to switch to Adobe Premiere as my new editing platform.  But there was also Avid, which I cut on for years before I moved to Final Cut.  Both Avid and Adobe was making a huge effort to let editors know that they were listening and were committed to ‘pros’.

Smash cut to today.  I’m using both Premiere Pro and Media Composer.  Both NLEs have their strengths and their weaknesses.  Gotta use the right tool for the job – no such thing as the end all/be all NLE.  Even though I don’t edit in FCPX, I’m still keeping a close eye on it. I like some of the core ideas and the engine is pretty incredible.  I feel like it’s definitely a look into the future of editing and in a few years, it won’t have the stigma it currently has.

Avid Media Composer 6 – released a few months ago, MC6 is a great update.  A complete overhaul to the UI which is great because prior to – Media Composer looked EXACTLY like it did when I first started using it in 1994.  Yikes.  3rd party hardware support, AMA and ProRes implementation is great and of course, more seamless integration with ProTools is a huge timesaver.

Adobe CS6 – announced yesterday, this is extremely exciting and I will be spending a lot of time at Adobe’s booth watching presentations.  Premiere Pro CS6 literally looks like what everyone hoped FCPX was going to be, and people jokingly call it FCP 8.  What makes Premiere Pro so powerful besides its awesome Mercury Playback Engine, is its integration with the other Adobe killer apps – After Effects, Photoshop, Media Encoder, Encore, etc…  It’s such an incredibly powerful system – especially for independents.

Apple FCPX – Apple has released 3 semi-major updates to FCPX since its release last year and now supports broadcast monitoring, XML export and multicam to name a few new features.  It seems like steady development but it’s still unclear how much of the professional market Apple really wants to cater to.  My guess is none.  FCPX 1.0 was geared towards the future of content creators, those who are creating for the web and single-person shops.  No tape support, new editing paradigm, iMovie import before FCP7 import, etc…  Their subsequent updates have added more pro features but lets be real – Apple makes the majority of its money from iPhones and iPads.  The pro-video market to them is like the equivelent of what human intelligence will be to AI intelligence after the Singularity happens…  Insignificant.  I kid, but really Apple’s bottom line is not affected by video editors, or musicians or any professional customers who aren’t buying iPhones or iPads.  Time will tell.

Autodesk Smoke – I hear they’re announcing a brilliant new version at NAB.  Could be revolutionary to the space.

 

Other cool things?  Thunderbolt.  GPU Processing.  Stereoscopic tools.  Super high frame rate capture.  Ummm, there’s other stuff I’m forgetting until I see it on the show floor.

Whew.  Ok.  Long blog post.  Stay tuned for video blog posts from NAB and further analysis about other cool stuff from the show floor.

the NEW and improved kennmichael.com – the process

When it comes to executing ideas, my process usually happens in stages. Sometimes those stages take multiple years. Take for example, my website.

Stage 1

kennmichael.com went up on my birthday (September 2010) for the first screening of my short film Hear Me. It was my first experience with WordPress and I was so excited that I didn’t have to build an entire site from scratch like I did with my codekraft.com site back in 2006. No PHP design and extensive HTML coding, just a couple of settings, a theme and I was off.

Blogged a bit about Hear Me, and as the excitement and the film festival momentum wore off, so did my addition of content to the blog. Something wasn’t right.

Stage 2

Months later, I realized that blogging and maintaining a website required discipline. That seemed like too much work, so instead, I focused on finding a new WordPress theme.

I searched high and low for something that felt right and I thought I found it. Perfect timing too because NAB was coming up and there was all this excitement about the next version of Final Cut to be introduced at the LAFCPUG SuperMeet. Bunch of blog posts about the forthcoming FCPX and then got the hang of branching out into other topics and creating posts without making a big deal about it.

Sharing myself and my opinions were still a bit uncomfortable. Sure, if I got in a conversation with you in person, I’d have no qualms about engaging in very in-depth dissertations on topics I was passionate about… But here with the written word, not so much.

Work got busy, and my blog became frozen in time.

Steve Jobs died, and I posted an old video of mine in tribute to him and Apple. Once again, no discipline, no content, no sharing.

In November of last year, I had a major epiphany about my purpose and specifically where my true overall passion existed. All of a sudden, there was a wealth of thoughts, ideas and visions. These were things that absolutely needed to be shared. Not because people need to listen to me, but because by sharing my creations, they retain life and grow. Habitually throughout my life, I’ve hid behind a perfectionist controlling attitude that never thought most things were good enough to share with the public at large for fear that I would be ripped to shreads. How’s that worked for me? Eh. I have 28 years of music on just about every audio format known to man sitting on shelves.

All this to say that it was a few months ago that I had a burning need to share. But… I needed a good environment in which to do so.

Stage 3

Back to the website. I wanted a space that I could easily post music, blog posts, and video. I also needed a place where potential clients could see my credits and work samples. I also needed something scalable and visually customized.

I had jumped into WordPress back in 2010 without truly knowing how powerful it was from a database standpoint.

Databases are a bit of a odd guilty pleasure for me. Since I bought my first video camera in 1987 and started accumulating recorded video tapes, I kept a log of what was on each tape. Around 1991, I converted the log to a Filemaker database. 17 years later when I purchased a RED camera and started using LTO as a backup and archive format, I built a new database that was data/file-centric instead of tape-centric. As I started converting all my video tapes and audio tapes into digital files I found having 2 huge databases not linked to each other clunky and I thought maybe there was a better way to do it.

Thanks to Lynda.com, a few tutorials opened my eyes to the truth of Filemaker. Incredible power. I redesigned the new database to include and link data from old one and added a bunch of new useful features…

Anyway, the same thing happend with WordPress. I was shown how powerful the database aspect was and all of a sudden was knee-deep in PHP and HTML again. But this time, I was customizing instead of building from scratch. Started with the default TwentyEleven theme and created a child theme that has tons of custom post types and taxonomies. As much as programming is frustrating and maddening, it’s also extremely satisfying.

I spent about a month working on the code and visual design. I designed it to make it extremely easy to populate the site with all kinds of content. The easier I make it for myself, the more I’m apt to post.

What’s so important about all this? Nothing at all.

Thank you for indulging. Thank you for indulging my process. When I was younger I was impatient and viewed the process as something in the way of getting to the goal. As I got older, I started to realize that the process is where the magic is. The journey is the best part – because the destination will always change, and you’re never going to ‘get there’. Once you think you’ve ‘arrived’ there’s already a new destination on the horizon.

I’m very happy with the way the site turned out, and of course, it’s a work in progress. And I’m ok with that.

before

after

‘ISAM’ – Full album with track-by-track commentary from Amon Tobin

The inspiring-ness.

This IMO, is the future of electronic music… The seamless melding of recorded organic sound and electronic manipulation of those sounds to create textures from another planet… AND to mold all that sound design into a beautiful, engaging composition. This goes beyond synthesized music… Beyond sampled music… Beyond traditional music…

Check out Amon Tobin’s running commentary.

 

Also, some cool making of footage with Amon playing a Haken Continuum Fingerboard.

Michael Cioni and Posting a 5K Red EPIC short

Michael Cioni recounts the making of ‘Tattoo’ – a film written, shot on the new RED EPIC 5K camera, posted and delivered to premiere at RED’s NAB booth in 10 days. Tons of great tek goodness in his tumblr post.

I love Michael’s ability to explain very complex concepts in a palatable way. He is absolutely at the forefront of future-think when it comes to post technology and workflows. Much props.

To anyone who feels that taking RED footage thru post is a nightmare, READ THIS ARTICLE. The days of never-ending transcodes and crashing Red-tools are over. We’re in 2011, not 2008. I believe in RAW workflow, not baked-in imagery.

Link

Can’t wait for my EPIC-X.