Archive for June, 2009

SilverDocs Breakout – Network Acquisition Strategies

June 17, 2009 1 comment

I had the good fortune of attending a breakout session in conjunction with Silverdocs, “Behind Network Acquisition Strategies” (or something like that, the title didn’t exactly roll off the tongue) sponsored by WIFV.

The presenters were Peter Hamilton (with more than 30 years in the business at the highest levels) and Dawn M. Porter of Trilogy Films and A&E.

Even though the session was a bit rushed (we were too long noshing on eggy-weggs and didn’t leave ourselves enough time for two packed presentations), it was an invaluable look into the *business* of entertainment. For a first-time or early producer, these are the very high-level takeaways if you’re hoping to pitch/land a dev deal with the big boys (large cable networks, i.e. Nat Geo, Animal Planet, Smithsonian Channel, PBS, Travel Channel, Food Network, etc.)

Being a somewhat romantic and artistic person myself, it was good to be reminded of the very real economic underpinnings of the industry.

As Dawn aptly put it (paraphrasing), these are our widgets. If they’re not right, if we can’t get the widgets out, then we’re not a viable business.

  • Not a proven commodity? It doesn’t matter HOW great your idea is, no one at the level mentioned above is going to consider you. Find someone who’s been through it before and partner with them.
  • Yep, you’re not going to own your brilliant idea. Live with it. Ideas are cheap.
  • HOW ideas are implemented (on time, under budget) is what you need an experienced producer for; at least the first (couple’a) time(s)
  • Hooks commissioning producers consider: unique access (to a person, library, place, or resource), a name or proven recognizable talent
  • If you think you’ve got unique access, get a letter-of-intent from that resource indicating they he/she/it/the organization/whatever is on board.
  • Be honest with your budget. Do this early and do it right. Consider deliverables (e.g. five beta tapes) in budgeting.
  • There’s a very good chance you won’t get your full budget, even if a cable network green-lights your project. This is where creative financing comes into play.
  • Looking at doing some “undercover” or “edgy” shooting? Get a lawyer on board. Now.
  • Looking at breaking the law (trespassing, stealing, etc.) to produce your show? Don’t. The networks won’t touch it. No matter how brilliant it is, their standards and fair practices division will kill it. And, no, you’re not Michael Moore or Sacha Baron Cohen (nor do you have their money or phalanx of lawyers)
  • Take advantage of bulk O&E insurance if the network offers it.
  • If you have the good fortune of landing a pitch meeting, bring tape. It doesn’t need to be a finished product, but a good three- to five-minute segment will answer more questions about what you’re proposing and your capablilities than any amount of hot air or documentation.
  • BUT, have all that documentation at the ready.
  • Pay attention to existing programming. If your concept fits into an already existing series (e.g. “History Undercover,” Nat Geo’s “Secret History,” etc.), it’s going to be a much easier sell.
Categories: Da Biz

CS4 – Questions, Doubts, Impressions and Confessions of an FCP Cutter

I’ve been a dyed-in-the-wool FCP cutter for about nine years. Until yesterday, I felt like I had good reason not to seriously consider other NLE’s. Vegas? Not powerful enough. AVID? Clunky and temperamental. Premiere? Nothing but a passing fancy to a Mac user.

Then I got a load of an eye-opening demo of CS4’s Premiere by Adobe’s Dave Helmly. And you know what? I’m willing to make a pronouncement–as of today, hands down, it looks like it kicks FCP’s ass all-over the playground in terms of functionality.

I don’t want to shill for Adobe, but there’s just too many features and interoperabilities to ignore. It basically plays with everything, including native MXF, Red, and XDCam footage. Well, you can read the hype yourself, but I’ll say, I saw it all laid out on an active timeline, and even though Dave was running a screamer (16 core, 16gb RAM, some ridiculous graphics card) there was no rendering or untoward noticable lag at all.

When Dave did a transcode, he brought up Apple’s system monitor, and there were active processes taking place on all 16 nodes, FCP doesn’t take advantage of threaded processing power yet.

Of particular interest to me was the “speech transcription” feature. Dave pulled up a clip and using this function, Premiere created a searchable transcription of the clip. This is a function Avid has been touting with its latest releases, and given that a former Avid developer recently joined the Adobe team, it’s not surprising to see a similar capability in Premiere. Apparently, that dude brought his bag-of-tricks with him.

I hate to say it, but I think I’ve–finally–got another NLE to learn.

And I hope Apple gets off its ass and has a major upgrade with its next FCP release, come on y’all, you done started this wing-ding, don’t get left holding the slop bucket now that some other cooks have moved into the kitchen and are pushing out some tasty features.

Categories: FCP/Post Production

MSB Video Update

Mac Business Solutions held an industry update yesterday, featuring some pretty cool talks from (all the vendors, of course, but especially …)

BUT the thing that blew my mind is what Adobe’s Dave Helmly quickly ran through with Premiere in CS4, so much that it warrants a “real posting.”

Categories: FCP/Post Production

Black Hole (Charles Burns)

I’m about four years behind the curve on this one (nothing new there), but I just finished Charles Burns’ Black Hole, an excellent graphic novel that depicts teenage alienation and ennui in literal terms. Check it out.,9565,1121476,00.html

Categories: Book Shelf


She said
I’m your last shot at redemption
flashing a mongoose smile
and turning around
she walked away

Categories: Daily Mind Drippings

Shared Video Asset Storage; Facilis VS Editshare

June 9, 2009 1 comment

Here at the NSF’s OLPA, we’ve been trying to figure out the best setup at work to share assets among five FCP seats and a couple of Avids. Right now, as far as the hardware goes, it’s looking like it’s between a Facilis Terrablock or an Editshare , with us leaning towards Editshare.

Here’s a diagram of our workflow, we’re also evaulating DAMs. If anyone has experience from the field, I’m all ears.

Categories: FCP/Post Production

The Man-Perm

I got a man-perm yesterday. It was actually a bit less painful than I expected and my stylist, Yen Phan, was great.


Categories: Daily Mind Drippings