NAB 2017: Editors Talk NLEs and More
By Debra Kaufman
The 14th annual Editor’s Lounge recently brought together post production experts to talk about the upcoming NAB 2017. AlphaDogs Editorial founder/president Terence Curren (also an editor), USC School of Cinematic Arts professor and editor Norman Hollyn, Keycode Media director of technology Michael Kammes, and Bunim-Murray senior vice president of post production Mark Raudonis talked about what they expected and hoped to see at the Las Vegas show.
The panelists focused on issues relevant to editors, focusing on nonlinear editing systems. In a quick poll of attendees, nearly all of whom were editors, they were split half-and-half between Avid Media Composer and Adobe Premiere Pro; outliers included three users each of FCP X and Black Magic Resolve as an editing system. “Nonlinear editing systems have become specialized by market,” says Raudonis, who had posed the question whether one NLE would be dominant at NAB 2017. “There’s no ‘best’ but rather what’s best for you.”
Hollyn brought up developments, mainly wrought by the cloud, that have permitted NLEs to develop true remote collaboration, something he believes he’ll see more of at NAB 2017. “The last four projects I worked on, only one was with a director and producer in Los Angeles,” he recounts. “Some were in different parts of the U.S. and some in Europe. I think that’s amazingly exciting. New technology is allowing us to collaborate with people I’d otherwise never have the chance to work with.” He believes that remote collaboration will also be a boon to his students, who as editors will have the chance to work on a variety of projects in different geographic locations.
Currently, he added, remote collaboration is “cobbled together, a combination of iPad, Facetime, and syncing in the cloud to keep media and project files up to date.” Remote collaboration has been attempted many times in the past twenty years but, now, says Hollyn, “it’s not too hard anymore to do it and we’re figuring out the best ways to do it.” But remote collaboration isn’t for every project, notes Raudonis, who points out that Bunim-Murray’s reality TV projects can have 24 editors. “We have a team approach,” he says. “We’ve experimented with distance collaboration but it hasn’t been successful.”
Curren notes that, “the minute the editor doesn’t have to be in the room, it’s a matter of where the producer can get the cheapest editor.” But Hollyn responded that it can also “work the other way, and bring jobs to editors here.” Meanwhile, everyone agreed that BlackMagic’s Resolve has very quickly belong a Swiss army knife for editors, allowing files to be exporting from Premiere to Avid and vice versa. Raudonis adds that, “it also gets people who have never thought about color to think about it.”
Addressing 4K, Raudonis states that it is “the new HD.” “It’s here,” he says, noting that all TVs are now 4K. “We’ll discover that it’s there as acquisition and distribution, but it’ll be the classic offline/online in editing.” Hollyn says that, besides Netflix, advances in use of 4K will come, not from the studios, but from “scientific, medical, gaming … and then will feed back when consumers realize they get better looking stuff from laptops than TVs.” Raudonis countered that in smaller productions, such as reality TV, there’s less risk, noting that reality TV produced with Betacam when that was “pretty cutting edge.” “We’re not shooting in 4K now,” he says, “But it’s on the horizon. It’s a natural progression. When the prices of 4K camera are the same of HD, you’ll have no financial reason not to – except for storage, but that cost is also coming down.”
Storage and workflow are still issues when it comes to 4K, says Kammes, who notes that, “there are folks limping along on storage where the warranty has been gone for decades.” “It’s a hard conversation to have,” he says. “If it’s worked for ten years, why should they upgrade?” Curren agrees, adding that storage isn’t something you can charge the client for, “so it’s hard to justify upgrading.”
Everyone was enthused about HDR, with the caveat that there are multiple standards. Hollyn points out that, “we need to talk about the various ways we watch media nowadays.” “At least half if not more of my students don’t own a TV,” he says. “They’re not looking at content on a TV, so if you can watch HDR on our phones, this may not even be an issue.” In response to a quick poll, about one-third of the Editor’s Lounge attendees said they no longer watch content on TV sets. How will the HDR multi-standard situation resolve? Going forward, say the post experts, there will be winners and losers; a couple of panelists are betting on Dolby, which already licenses audio and has brand recognition.
Both 4K and HDR will be part of the broadcasters’ evolution to ATSC 3.0, which will be on full display at NAB 2017. No one in the audience was familiar with it, but the panelists counseled them to get educated. “Your clients will be asking for 4K HDR,” says Raudonis. “There’ll be a lot more versions, and it’ll add a level of complexity to what you do. So you have to be aware that the world is changing sooner than you think.”