We are very pleased to welcome Steve Bayes to FCP.co as a regular contributor. Steve up until a year ago was the product manager for Final Cut Pro X, so although he can't talk about future FCPX plans, we look forward to him sharing his 30 years of post production wisdom with us.
Steve will also be on our live YouTube show on Tuesday the 3rd of September, make sure you hit the reminder!
You know those YouTube videos where you could cut the first 15% before the “Content Creator” gets to the point? Well, I’m going to keep this article from being like that. Even though asking the question, “Do you know who I am?” occasionally gets me a good table in a crowded restaurant, I probably need to set up the backstory about why you should read the rest of this.
Quick version: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stevebayes
Slightly longer version: I went to film school when they actually taught film, and video was a single tube camera with a port-a-pack recorder (avert your eyes, kids). I was video editing with fancy 1” decks, DVE, Chyrons and a bunch of other expensive gear you can see in the Museum of Crappy Old Equipment No One Misses.
Shortly after the Avid Media Composer was invented they lent one to our chic little video boutique in Boston. By the end of the week we were charging clients to use it. So I figured this was something.
Fast forward 35 years where I designed some stuff, taught some other stuff and product managed apps you still use. This includes managing FCP X so (1) I am very biased and (2) I have a bit of experience to add to discussions on the Inter Webs — the ones that don’t end up with people shouting “You know who else would manage media like that? Hitler!”. Nope.
I also occasionally invest or consult for companies and, because I am mostly retired and only work with friends and cool projects, I will be straight up with any personal or financial connection I have. I can probably still enlighten you about these companies even with that teensy caveat. Having helped manage all the third-party pro video developers while at Apple, you can assume I know someone at most of the best companies. And finally, this is the first in a series of articles or about one a month.
So I don’t blame you if you just skipped down to this part of the article while mumbling, “Blah, blah, Steve Bayes, blah blah”.
So why am I writing all this and not sending duckface selfies from the beach? Well, I sunburn easily and I still have some passion about the industry I helped build. I’ve worked with so many great engineers, designers, testers and customers over the years that I still feel engaged.
There is a unique insight that comes from being in the middle of the most powerful visual medium since cave paintings.
The move from film to tape to file has changed everything about the communications industry and this change will only accelerate. I’m still fascinated and would like to pass on some of that perspective.
Now let’s talk about the second biggest video trade show in the world, IBC, which is coming up in mid-September. I think this might be my 25th year in a row so I can attest that the Dutch are wonderful and I have had a great time every year — mostly because it is always my birthday all week. I can also give excellent tours of the really bad parts of Amsterdam.
IBC tends to be old school European and Rest of World broadcast decision makers looking for big, expensive things to install which only they can operate. But I do see the occasional kid with a gleam wondering why you need so many pens in your shirt pocket to be “professional”. That’s it, dude, it’s the pens.
I will sketch out what to look for this year and I will follow up with a (heavily edited for attitude) report once I return after a couple of weeks in France. I figure quality is more important than speed with this kind of analysis anyway. And there is a lot of delicious French food that is not going to eat itself.
Look for more advanced workflows that handle HDR better. Use your dynamic range for good and don’t lose track of it on the way to the final display.
Cameras will cost you more money to use if you actually shoot 8K, but they still need to do a great job recording RAW at 4K. There also needs to be a way to record a proper post production codec. Atomos has just announced support for recording RAW over HDMI from their second major camera manufacturer, Panasonic Lumix S1H. (I managed the original ProRes and extra crispy ProRes RAW releases and I have done work for Atomos.)
Evaluate any new editing features to see if they can realistically play back multiple streams of 4K RAW on an older MacBook Pro with a Thunderbolt connected SSD. This includes skimming and dropping frames once you add a LUT on 4 streams and hit play.
Asset management may not be sexy, but it is starting show a little leg. There is a lot of cool metadata being generated and an increasing number of camera angles on every shoot. If you can’t find a shot, it doesn’t exist. Look for better integration of MAMs with editing systems and emerging, powerful metadata driven workflows.
Every time someone talks about “the cloud” you need to down a shot of aquavit. Then ask, “I just shot a terabyte of 8K footage yesterday with my 3-camera rig, how long to upload it from my hotel before I can start to generate proxies in your cloud?”. They will point you to a workflow that requires very little footage and lots of GPU computing. Or generates proxies locally. Or review and approval. Or AI that evaluates your finished master, not the source material, for things that really should not be broadcast.
And then is the cloud just “Cool Dropbox” or do they really add value designed for video production? How easy is it to customize and teach to newbies? And by that I mean, will you get more consistent results across timezones when the client decides to do something clever at 2 AM?
In the end, is there a clear ROI benefit to the cloud over local storage when working with the speeds and quality we expect today? I’d like to see those numbers and the justification. I’m going to predict we see a cloud/local hybrid for quite some time.
And what will Apple do? I absolutely will not speculate except to say that I personally would like a new MacPro and Pro Display XDR. And if the Cupertino Delivery Drone drops one off, I will be sure to let you know. I would connect it to a LumaForge Jellyfish and see how many simultaneous functions I can kick off before all the lights dim and the downstairs dog starts to howl. (And yes, I consult and invested with LumaForge.)
My next Apple purchase will be a new iPad Pro so that I can edit and back up large photo and video files while on the road. In February I traveled 3 weeks in Asia with only carry on — 11 hotels, 3 countries with maximum 15 lbs. (7 kg) for my suitcase. Weight is critical to me. I need to work with the Sony A7Riii, the DJI Pocket Osmo and a fast SSD through the iPad USB-C connection.
To help with that, I am still waiting for the Gnarbox 2.0 to ship. My guess is they held on to the 2.0 release past their original ship date this summer to take into account upcoming iOS and iPadOS functions for external device file access (announced at WWDC in June) — but I don’t know. It's what I would have done if I was a small, agile hardware company. Would love to see Thunderbolt speeds on both the iPad Pro and the Gnarbox — again, I don’t know, but it is the next logical step with the upcoming iPadOS. I hope to know more after IBC.
When I first brought an Avid Media Composer home from Tewksbury so I could develop curriculum for the Avid 101 class, I needed to rent a van. I had 2 giant tube monitors, a Quadra 950 and a stack of very expensive 9GB SCSI drives. Editors, real editors, ridiculed me for expecting them to edit with a mouse. “A mouse! What’s next — no overtime for notes from the execs? Get out of here, kid, you know we depend on getting time and a half, right? Why would we ever… wait, where’s the boss taking our beta SP decks?”
I remember how painful that change was. It wasn’t the first or the last time disruption as a result of new technology caused both loss and opportunity.
Imagine how many musicians were thrown out of work when movies could play back sound? Maybe I can impart a video version of the “Innovator’s Dilemma” to give you a heads up on where to look, how to cut through the vaporware and focus on the real story. It’s all about the story!
As the summer fog descends on San Francisco, that’s a wrap for the first FCP.co article. I can’t speculate about anything I already know under NDA (unless I get special permission, of course!), but let me know if there is something you would like to see in a future article.
TL;DR: Someone once said, “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” so maybe writing about video is like getting peanut sauce on your chips while standing in the rain.
See you in Amsterdam!