The case against using flash for multimedia content – Redux

It never ceases to amaze me that multimedia storytelling workshops typically want to use something like Soundslides to deliver a finished multimedia story.

originally posted my opinions around NOT using Flash based content as your primary delivery method, and now it appears even more so that Flash is not the best solution as a primary delivery method.

Don’t get me wrong, SoundSlides is a great tool for producing photofilms, but the reality is, iphone/ipad users are growing, and they don’t display flash based content – read why Apple chose to go down this route.  Visit Youtube or Vimeo, and your brower referrer switches to an HTML5 version of a video.

That’s not an option when using SoundSlides or any other Flash based post production delivery tool.

Deal with it


It’s critical that multimedia journalists get comfortable with using video editing applications on their laptops to put their stories together.  Mac users, either Imovie or FCPX. Windows,  Adobe and SONY both have what would be considered “Consumer” products that are more than capable of producing finished pieces that can then be output to h.264 mp4 – which is the preferred file format for inclusion into a blog or website and is cross platform.

For windows users specifically, SONY Vegas Movie Studio Platinum is probably the best application for the money for photofilm post production.  For less than $125.00, you can edit audio in addition to laying your images with audio on the Vegas timeline.  No other software package offers as much for the price.  Plus, if you have the need for including video into your project, you’re already set up to do so.

Why anyone would exclude Ipad/iPhone viewers by using Flash as their primary delivery platform is beyond my comprehension.  Flash is a great platform, but it’s become readily apparent, that html5 is going to be the eventual way to deliver multimedia content.  Adobe Edge is already in public beta.  In my opinion, this portends of things to come.

As much as photographers hate the idea of having to be tech geeks, the nature of our profession REQUIRES that we have a certain level of technical compentence in order to do what we do.

Get over it and realize it’s in your best interest to not take the easy way out.  Learn to use a proper video editing application – even if you’re only producing photofilms.  You’ll be glad you did.

The Tools For A New Breed Of Shooter/Editor

SONY Vegas Pro 10

Going out on a limb here with this post, but I think there’s merit to what I’m about to say.

I’ll admit a special place in my post production heart for SONY Vegas Pro.  I learned to cut, grade and handle audio all within the one interface of SONY Vegas since version 5 that allowed me to get alot of work done – until it began to let me down when the first two versions of Vegas Pro 10 were released in the fall of 2010.  It forced me to purchase and grudgingly learn to use Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.  Although PPro is a solid editing application, the way it handles audio and color correction & grading leave alot to be desired IMO.  It’s stuck in an old paradigm that is inefficient in my opinion.

So what does this have to do with with this announcement about SONY Vegas Pro?

I’m revisiting Vegas Pro 10 now that it’s been updated to version 10.0d.  And it’s because of what it can do if I don’t need to share a project – which I have yet to requested of me, that’s causing me to reassess using it again.

Although Apple FCPX is a new paradigm for them, and the resulting fallout from established post production houses clearly flexing what muscle they have by moving to competing software apps, the paradigm shift that’s taking place is one that may be finally rearing its ugly head publicly for the established niche editor only.

That of the post production house is a dying breed.

Professional post houses are a very small part of a software companies sales, and they typically are also more high maintenance in relation to prosumers/idie type shooter/editor customers.

I respect what really good editors are capable of producing out of hours of raw footage, but are we missing the bigger picture here?

The democritization of the tools used to create compelling content has made it possible for anyone to shoot and edit said content.  As many well know – alot of it is pure garbage as can be attested by going to YouTube.

But there are those talented indie shooter/editors who are bypassing the gatekeepers and are producing exceptional content and make a name for themselves.  A look on Vimeo and ExposureRoom are but two examples of quality content to be found.

It’s my opinion that’s the market SONY Vegas Pro and Apple FCPX are targeting their products for.  Adobe and Avid smell blood in the water in the wake of Apple’s release of Final Cut Pro X, and are offering steep discounts to those post houses who feel abandoned by Apple – and many of them are making the switch as a result.

It’s a bitter pill to swallow for those who have made a name for themselves over the course of the past decade as boutique post production houses based on Apple’s Final Cut ecosystem, but it’s my belief a new breed of content finishing is now truly emerging.

That of the solo, independent production entity.  Post production is now in the hands of one, or at most three people, where all shooting and post production is done in house.  No more farming out the work to a third party post production facility.  The internet is the distribution platform, the creation and post production of content stays in house on affordable PC’s.

You create your own unique ecosystem and as a result, maintain all control throughout the whole production and post process.  Something unheard of just ten years ago.  SONY’s Vegas Pro on the Windows platform and Apple’s Final Cut X put the tools of post production into the hands of the masses to create their own unique vision.

Very exciting, and yet scary, times indeed.

Is Post Production Shifting To A New Paradigm?

FCPX

I’m no Apple apologetic, but I thought it was important to look at what the release of #FCPX has done to the post production world.

Given the nature of what occurred with the release of Apple’s Final Cut Pro X, and the debacle that ensued as a result of the new application being so radically different as to no longer provide the level of collaboration that mainstream apps like Final Cut Pro, Avid’s Media Composer and Adobe’s Premiere Pro offer, the question that’s slowly begun to surface in my mind is an important one:

Is post production moving mainstream to a self contained ecosystem paradigm?

Hollywood is viewed as the standard by which production houses have done what they do.  You have multiple people who have a niche specialty – ie; cutting, sound design, CGI/effects, color grading, etc.  Many times, those jobs are farmed out to other specialty post production companies.

With the release of FCPX, Apple, which made a name for itself in the late 90’s with their affordable release of Final Cut Pro 1.0 all the way through to version 7, has once again shaken the foundations of the post production world.

The release of Final Cut Pro X removed key features of collaboration from what traditional post production people have come to expect.  You can no longer export your projects to an interchange format like AAF, OMF, EDL – or even read previous FCP XML files – all which are critical in the traditional post production of content for film and broadcast.  Add to that, Final Cut Pro 7 and server are now discontinued and no longer supported, you have a ripple effect that’s being felt throughout the industry.

The clamor over the removal of critical collaboration tools has caused die hard Final Cut users to consider, and many are, abandoning ship to competing products from Avid and Adobe.

As I’ve thought about this more and more, I’m getting a sense that Apple is now publicly exerting it’s influence in this area that most solo content producers have already been doing – working as a self contained production entity.

Apple wasn’t the first to make the claim to fame of what goes on in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

That honor goes to a little known Windows based NLE: SONY Vegas Pro.

SONY Vegas Pro 10

In SONY’s Vegas Pro – and now in Apple FCPX, you deal with audio, titles, color grading, etc. within a single application, no longer working with a suite of applications, and the associated specialty niche editors, to produce a finished product.  CGI/Special Effects can still be done outside the ecosystem, it just requires a couple of additional steps to bring them into the timeline.  But the majority of solo/micro productions typically aren’t requiring this level of content for their projects.

Let’s look at this from a different perspective:  The vast majority of shooters, who now have democratized tools at their disposal, are producing content in amounts unheard of 5 years ago.  DSLR Video now produces content technically that rivals film when in the hands of a skilled shooter.  The tools for editing costing only a few hundred dollars now rival systems that cost thousands and thousands of dollars just over a decade ago.  A single desktop computer has more power than the render farm that produced the effects for Jurassic Park.  48 hours of video is being uploaded every minute to YouTube.

Apple has taken the paradigm so deeply entrenched in traditional post production and totally removed it from their video editing application.

To those who have relied upon the Final Cut Ecosystem, the fallout has been tumultuous.  Those who based their business model around those previous post production tools from Apple and the traditional paradigm that it entails are now left scrambling to find viable alternatives.

Having said that, I want to go back to this concept of the self contained shooter/editor – myself being one of them.  Take this a step further,a micro crew of 2-3 people total, doing all post in house.

At what point do these so called professional collaborative features become a non-issue?

That’s the question that has yet to be answered fully.  I think Apple has brought this issue to the forefront – and has set into motion a paradigm shift that will polarize the post production of content in ways that will leave alot of bodies so to speak on the side of the road, and in the process, cause a rethink of content production.

Adapt or Perish seems to be the mantra from Apple.

Only time will tell if this paradigm shift is viable.

SONY Upgrades the PMW-F3 to “Mini-Alexa”

Sony has released details of their paid firmware upgrade for the SONY PMW-F3 and the buzz around it is bring a happy dance to those who use it now or for those looking to move in that direction.

The CBK-RGB01 upgrade for the F3 will allow for 4:4:4 uncompressed output over 3G-SDI (the next-generation of HD-SDI) or dual-link HD-SDI, four pre-loaded look up tables (LUTs), five custom LUTs, and most importantly an S-LOG workflow — essentially it’s more of a RAW workflow, which Sony is claiming improves dynamic range by a staggering 800%!

All of these new features come at a price: $3,300. While this may seem to be alot of money for a firmware upgrade, filmmakers interested in those enhanced features will be working on well-funded projects. As a comparison, a 4:4:4 recorder like the Cinedeck costs $10k alone.

While it’d be nice to have the upgraded features enabled by default, Sony is playing it by allowing shooters to get their foot in the door for a lower priced stock F3 camera, with hopes that those very filmmakers will pony up for the future upgrades.

This upgrade justifies the SONY F3 being called a “mini ALEXA” when you consider the Arri Alexa is a $75,000 camera body and the SONY PMW-F3 body sans lenses with firmware upgrade is $17,000.

IMO, The SONY PMW-F3 is bringing a level of technical quality that is more within reach of dedicated digital filmmakers.

SONY Announces S35 Sensor NXCAM

This looks squarely to go up against the Panasonic AF-100 – and is probably a better camera as well.

I wonder what the bitrate is considering it’s shooting in an AVCHD file format. 

According to the article, the camera is priced at under $7,000, the modular AVCHD S-35mm unit features a boxy body, large top-mounted screen/viewfinder, sturdy mike extension that doubles as a carry handle, and a right-side hand-hold grip — the latter two components being easily removed to convert it into a compact, studio-type camera.

Apparently, there is a photograph embargo until March 23rd when the camera will be officially unveiled.