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walter biscardi's Blog

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Experimenting with Vertical Video and IGTV

I began experimenting pretty much immediately after IGTV was launched and it's turning out to be quite a lot of fun, and challenging. As I mentioned in my first post, one of the biggest challenges is the lack of horizontal space for graphics and to showcase elements in the scene.

First off I was happy to discover that we can upload videos from our computers to IGTV, unlike Instagram itself which requires the user to only upload via the mobile app. Once you set up your IGTV channel via the mobile app, you can login to Instagram via a browser on a computer and you'll then see the IGTV button appear above your Instagram images. Click that button to get to your page and then you'll see an "Upload" button show up. That's really sweet because I like to edit my videos on my computers to take advantage of the filters, music and everything else I have in my editing system.

My very first video was a re-edit of my Whipped Hot Chocolate recipe from It was originally filmed in UHD 3840 x 2160 horizontal and as most all of my existing videos are widescreen horizontal, this seemed like the perfect first video. Recipe videos are pretty straightforward so honestly, this was pretty easy. Just set up a vertical frame 1080 x 1920 Sequence in Adobe Premiere Pro and center the action. I re-did the graphics completely because the originals filled the frame left to right, they would have been illegible if I had not recut the them. All in all, not bad, but again, pretty simple translation.

Next I took my Samsung Galaxy S8 and filmed an original recipe on the fly, shooting handheld as I cooked up some Mushroom Cauliflower Rice. This time I framed it vertical with the phone and literally uploaded the video to IGTV 20 minutes after I finished shooting. I transferred the footage into Premiere Pro, added a music track, tightened up the cooking process, added graphics and added an "Instagram look" to the video. What I found is that vertical video really likes the close up. That is, being up close really accentuates the vertical video format. Wide shots and wide vistas are the domain of horizontal video. But when you can fill the frame with something pretty close to the camera, vertical video really shines.

Now having said that, my next challenge was to take something with wide vistas and imagery that fills the frame horizontally and translate that to the vertical screen. A recent zip line and monkey adventure in Roatan, Honduras shot entirely in UHD 3840 x 2160 on a GoPro. There's so much side to side that I really didn't know if I'd be able to do the trip justice. At first, I wasn't happy with the results.

As you can see above so much information is gone left and right. If I showed my hand on the rope, you couldn't see the zip line and where I was going. If I showed the zip line, you can't really experience 'riding with me.' And the GoPro is mounted on my head which is naturally swinging, moving and rotating almost constantly during the ride. If I tried to compensate too much with keeping the 'main action centered' I could give the viewer motion sickness with the computer movement fighting against the GoPro movement.

So I minimized the amount of 'corrective movement' I added and if the main action went out of center for a bit, I let it. I also started tweaking with the Scale settings, giving a little bit of an anamorphic look to the footage. So long as the entire piece has that anamorphic feel to it, it's really not noticeable as long as you don't go too far. It adds some depth to the footage as you can see below.

The image on the right looks like it's longer and the end of the zip looks like it much further away. It's a minor but effective tweak. You can see the video via the mobile app at my channel (WalterBiscardi) or here:

Since those first two tests I've been playing more with my Samsung phone and cocktail recipes which translate brilliantly to the vertical video format. I can get much closer to what I'm doing since the bottles, cocktail shaker and glasses are all vertical items. Next I'll go back and work more on my travel adventures to bring those forward to vertical video.

So where can vertical video really make an impact? Food and Cuisine certainly. Most imagery from those industries play well in the closeup and vertical space. Hospitality and Travel industries can really play well in this space if you concentrate on the closeup or somehow bring the viewer to the action. Long distance shots will need some set up and tweaking. I would probably try to film all travel materials in 4k, either vertical or horizontal to give some leeway in the edit. Certainly a lot of consumer products could play well in the vertical space. All of the industries I mentioned play directly to the public consumer and most of that audience has smartphones. They have a vertical video device in their possession at almost all times. Any of those industries can built a large audience through a smart combination of traditional horizontal and digital vertical videos. If done right, the two formats should compliment one another.

Check out my IGTV channel here or via your mobile device and IGTV App, it's available for both iOS and Android. I'm @WalterBiscardi on the apps.

Posted by: walter biscardi on Jul 5, 2018 at 2:05:55 pm Vertical Video, Instagram, IGTV, Social Media

Atlanta Studios Open House - August 23rd

Come check out my new gig and new digs on August 23rd, 2017.

GP STUDIOS is a creative agency with one of Atlanta’s largest production studios located in the heart of downtown, right on Peachtree Street. We feature two studios of 2600 sq. ft. (with hard cyc) and 820 sq. ft., both with drive in, secured access. Come join our Open House for facility tours, refreshments and to learn more about renting the studios, production space and equipment for your next project. You'll also meet our highly creative team along with Yonder Blue Films, Flanders Scientific, Gary Adcock among others.

Full services include Creative Design / Script to Screen Production, Video Production, Graphic Design, Animation, Post Production, Video Editing, Color Grading and Finishing. We have a genuine passion for visual storytelling and design, and we strive to always bring thorough understanding and thoughtfulness to the creative approach.

GP Studios is located at 133 Peachtree Street, Atlanta, GA in the Georgia-Pacific Center. Parking is attached to the rear of the building with entrances on John Wesley Dobbs Road and Courtland Street. You can also take MARTA to the Peachtree Center Station, exit via the south escalators, Georgia-Pacific Center is on your left when you come up to the street.

YOU MUST BE REGISTERED TO ATTEND THIS EVENT. If you are not registered you ...

Could 2016 Be The Year That Changed Everything?

In the same week of October, Microsoft and Apple both debuted new products. In past years, creatives, especially Professional Creatives, would drool over the latest slick and cool Apple products. But here in 2016, the bulk of the reactions I found online and through direct communications were all about Microsoft.

It seems that Microsoft has decided to take advantage of the current stagnant nature of Apple in the computer world. Oh sure Apple introduced a "touch strip" calling it "new" but PCs have had a version of the touch strip for a few years now. And of course, Windows PCs have been available with full touch screen displays for years now as well. But Microsoft sees an opening to not only the creative world, but the general public through some very innovative and "Mac-like" products.

Apple has, rightfully, become a lifestyle company built around "things" with the centerpiece being the iPhone. The iPhone put Apple on a completely new track arcing away from computers and towards consumer goods. The iPad, the Watch, the AppleTV. All consumer goods designed to make the lives easier of those who own them. They're all mini-computers to be sure, but they're consumer items with more or less specific purposes. And consumers have rewarded the company well. So it appears that Apple's current position is the general consumer doesn't need much more than a laptop these days and they don't really want a touch screen. I personally believe Apple is just waiting for the death of the "computer" as an item in the home and you'll just use your phone / tablet / watch as all the computing you'll need along with a wireless keyboard to use cloud based apps via your TV or tablet.

Now how did Apple come to be "THE" lifestyle company to the masses? Well it wasn't through blazing computer sales. Apple computers sales ALWAYS lagged behind PCs. Generally far, far behind PCs because you could only get them from one company, they were more costly than PCs and you couldn't just build one easily of the shelf. Only "artists" would use a Mac because..... well we liked working with them and they were generally "cooler" than PCs.

That "cool" factor helped Apple when it was ready to make the leap from computer to lifestyle company. Enter the iPod. 10,000 songs at your fingertips and in your pocket. No matter what the competition threw at Apple, the iPod was too cool to beat and Steve Jobs was the ultimate cool salesman. The iPhone sent the company to the stratosphere and suddenly computers were no longer front and center at Apple. The iPads and MacBook Airs followed along with the Watch as the old bread and butter towers of yore faded to the background. But it was those cool computers that gave Apple the clout and the consumers the confidence that their innovative devices not only looked good, but would work reliably. And now we're at the point where Apple is no longer a computer company first.

I believe Microsoft sees an opening into the hearts and minds of both consumers and professionals alike by re-inventing the computer experience around touch screen. Consumers are already used to touch screen tablets and phones. While the Surface Tablet has steadily improved, sales are far behind the iPad, though Apple is no longer the dominant tablet maker with less than 25% market share as of Q2 2016. So by taking a step "back" and re-invigorating the personal computer experience with an over the top Surface Studio and more powerful Studio tablets, Microsoft has suddenly become the "cool" computer company. Their Surface tablets run full desktop software putting it on par with the MacBook Air. Microsoft has a buzz around their products that resemble the Apple buzz of old.

So taking a page from the Apple playbook, Microsoft could use the reinvigorated computer experience which includes Windows 10 as an entryway into the full lifestyle experience. The Windows Phone failed to catch on and the Zoom audio player never got anywhere. But the living room is probably the next great battleground with streaming video services and devices. If Microsoft gets the Surface re-launch right, they could re-introduce Microsoft as an innovated lifestyle company. Right now Microsoft, HP and other PC companies are getting noticed for innovation in the computer space while Apple treads water.

As for me personally, I have probably made my final Apple purchase as I'll trade in my current MacBook Air for a Surface Tablet. For my professional computers, the 27" 5k Retina iMac will be my final Mac for work. What will replace it remains to be seen, either a custom PC desktop or the Surface Studio.

Where does the computer and lifestyle space go from here? It will be interesting to see how this Apple / Microsoft story plays out over the next 2 - 5 years.

Posted by: walter biscardi on Nov 2, 2016 at 5:13:20 pmComments (3) Microsoft, Apple, Computer

Day Three: Editing on DaVinci Resolve 12.5

It’s Day Three of my “real world” editing on DaVinci Resolve 12.5 and this is going to be the longest blog yet as I want to show you guys a lot of the “little things” that are making editing in Resolve a pleasure. I know there are a lot of questions still out there whether this is really a professional editor. For me it’s the small things that separate the applications making life efficient and fun for the the editor. I also had a pleasant surprise today. Alexis Van Hurkman, the man who literally wrote the manual on Resolve, called to point out some of the editing specific features that I might not be aware were there.

The Brains Behind Resolve
First, I have been remiss in the first two blogs for forgetting to mention the two “main brains” behind Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve. Peter Chamberlain, the Producer Manager, and Rohit Gupta, the Lead Engineer. They have been driving what has become Blackmagic’s own stamp on Resolve. Both of these gentlemen visited my former facility and have both been gracious with their time in the past, especially when I first started color grading with the software about 6 years ago. Extremely knowledgeable and friendly folks, I just wanted to thank them for all the work and my apologies for not mentioning them sooner.

Day Three Editing
Today I realized that DaVinci Resolve as an NLE is really the sum of all of its parts. The Edit Panel alone is NOT the editor. It’s the entire application working together. So if all you do is look at the Edit Panel and say “well this is missing a lot of stuff” (like I initially did), you’re missing out on so much more that’s available, particularly in the Color Panel. I looked at the Color Panel as what comes AFTER editing, but in reality, it’s part of the editing process. Now that I realize that some of the elements I thought Resolve needed are actually in the app, they’re just in a different place. Of course having Alexis walk me through a bunch of features for 30 minutes REALLY opened my eyes to a bunch of stuff I didn’t realize was there. More on that soon.

In the edit I started putting a bit more polish on the project, getting it to the point where we should be about ready to move to finish next Monday. The biggest thing I had to figure out was the round trip to / from After Effects to create a few animated graphics. Time being of the essence and me being new to Resolve, I reverted to my old FCP workflow. Export audio guides (clips) from Resolve and use those to build the AE comps. Very simple.

Resolve does NOT have your standard File > Export command like most NLEs out there. The Deliver Panel is primarily set up to deliver finished files at the end of the process, but you can also use that panel to export individual clips and selections for approvals and sending to other apps like AE.

First thing I discovered is that In / Out points set in the Edit Panel do NOT transfer over to Deliver Panel. I set them first in the Edit Panel and when I went over to the Deliver Panel, they were gone.

Alexis explained the reasoning why and it has to do with the fact that the Deliver Panel can output many variations from the same timeline including different combinations of In/Out points. So the Deliver Panel controls its own set of In/Out points. Sounds a little confusing to read I know, but in practice it makes sense. Setting up the video to export is pretty straight forward. Here you can see the controls are what you’d expect. At the top you see you can render a single clip or if you have multiple clips selected, export them as individual clips. In the File tab, you can either use the name of the timeline or set a custom file name.

And below is one of my guides in After Effects on the bottom most layer (Layer 4). No fuss, no muss, super easy and then I just rendered a ProRes out of After Effects to send back to Resolve. If I have to make changes I’ll render them as the same name and let Resolve reconnect to the new file. Yes, Blackmagic has Fusion, but one application at a time……

Window Burns
Yesterday I could not figure out to get a window burn on my Approval copies. That’s because I was looking in the wrong place. Turns out window burn controls in the Color Panel under the Data Burn controls. See what I mean about the ENTIRE application being the editor? BMD is not cramming every feature into an “editor” and then having the “color grading” act like a separate app. It’s all designed to work together.

As you can see the options available in Data (Window) Burn go WAY beyond most NLE’s in what you can have displayed on screen. In fact, most EVERY field of Metadata is available to be displayed on screen via the Custom Text options. You can see that I have Codec_Scene_Take in my custom text as contextual items. Every clip that has metadata information in the Codec, Source and Take fields will automatically be displayed as a burned in window on my output as you can see below.

Very very slick. So you set up you Data Burn info in the Color Panel and then you go over to the Deliver Panel to output. After I did this one time, it was second nature. For the purposes of this project I just output the Timeline name and the timecode. This is one example of how the entire application is the editor, not just the Edit Panel.

Keyframing & Curves
One thing that’s not available yet is initiating key framing in the timeline. You have to start the first keyframe up in the Inspector and then once that’s set, you can alter the settings in the timeline and keyframes are added as you would expect. I’ve filed a feature request to allow for key framing to start in the timeline such as with a pen tool like so many other NLEs. However, the Keyframe viewer in the timeline is awesome.

Just like how easy it is to see the labeling of the clips themselves, it’s very easy to see and edit keyframes in the Keyframe Viewer. This is very nicely done. Click that little half circle on the right side of the clip or the keyframe viewer and you now have access to the Curves where you can add bezier curves to the keyframes.

You can see in the dropdown on the left some of the parameters I can add keyframes and curves to. At the top of the screen you can see there are four curve options giving me a ton of control over the actions of the keyframes.

Composite Controls
Composite controls are located in the Inspector panel and they’re what you would expect to find in a professional NLE.

I use a LOT of Rampant Design Tools in my day to day work so I’m using compositing all the time to overlay these elements on my work. One thing I’ve requested as a future feature request is the ability to have the composite mode available via right click in the timeline. That would be a little faster than going up to the Inspector.

Crop, Lens Distortion and More in the Inspector
Speaking of the Inspector, I love how many controls are at our fingertips without the need to add additional filters or effects.

I have missed having the Crop controls right there along with the ability to feather the crop. It always felt like a needless stop to grab a crop filter in other NLEs because it’s something I seem to use ALL the time. It’s one less thing I have to go get and adds to the efficiency of an edit.

The addition of a Lens Distortion control right in the Inspector is a nice touch. Obviously a nod to all the GoPro and small cameras that use wide angle lenses. No need to grab a filter, you can make adjustments to the image right there in the inspector. There’s also Retiming Controls right there as well. I have NOT played with these yet, so I can’t comment on how and how well they work.

Transform, Crop and Dynamic Zoom Directly in Monitors
If you’re like me and you like to just want to make quick adjustments in the Source and Record Monitors, changes to scale, position and crop, this is easily done in Resolve, you just have to activate the controls in the lower left of the monitors.

With the those controls active, you’ll now see you have options to make changes right in the monitors. Change the scale, crop, position and you can play with the dynamic zoom. Dynamic zoom is especially great for you FCPX users who like the Ken Burns effects. Dynamic zoom interprets those movements correctly and allow you to make adjustments to them.

Transform controls active, moving the video in the monitor.

Crop Controls active in the monitor, can now make changes within the monitor.

The ability to just grab and make quick adjustments in the Source / Record monitor is something I’ve missed since switching to Premiere Pro. It’s in that app, just not as easy to use. I’ve really missed this from FCP and it just one of those little things that make editing so much faster and efficient.

Drag and Drop Editing
If you’re a Drag and Drop Editor who likes to edit by dragging your clips from the Source to the Record Monitor, you’ll find all your usual overwrite and insert options along with some new ones when you drag your Source clip into the Record monitor.

I like the Place On Top option so it lays the video on a layer above where the playhead is sitting which is handy when I’m laying in all my Rampant Design effects. Or if I want to stage multiple takes one above the other, Place On Top means I don’t have to go making track selections with each edit. You also see the Append to End which is handy if your playhead isn’t at the end of the timeline. Ripple Overwrite I’ll explain in detail towards the end. It’s awesome.

Transition Options in the Timeline
Transitions have some nice ‘little things’ that make for an efficient edit. Right clicking at the head, tail, or between clips not only brings up a transition dialogue, but OPTIONS for those transitions lengths.

Audio Cross Fade Controls

Video Cross Dissolve Controls

You can see there’s four options for both Video and Audio transitions right there from 6 to 48 frames. How convenient is this? I usually have a default transition set up to 1 second for my projects, but there’s always particular dissolves or cross fades I want to be faster / slower. No need for that extra step to change the transition duration, I have four choices right there. Done. This ‘little thing’ I REALLY like a lot.

As you would expect, you can slide the transitions forward and back in the timeline to make them start, split and a end on the edit or you can make the adjustments in the Inspector. Feathers and Ease controls can be added to wipes easily in the Inspector.

Change the Transition Type In the Inspector
Changing the Transition can be done quickly in the Inspector.

You can see the in drop down box, all the Resolve transition are available so I can just flip through them and adjust on the fly rather than having to drag them one by one to pick the one I want.

For additional filters and effects beyond what Resolve has natively, the application supports Open FX effects but again, the entire application works together as the editor. Transition effects are found in the Edit Panel while filters are found in the Color Panel. Both under the Open FX tab.

I installed the Red Giant Universe filter package which gave me transitions and filters to play with. I have not gotten the point of applying any filters yet in the Color Panel. But at first I thought I was missing all the filters and effects, but Alexis pointed me to the Open FX tab in the Color Panel.

I should note that the New Blue FX filters crashed Resolve 12.5. I honestly don’t use those filters at the moment and forgot they were installed, they installed as part of my Avid installation. But after uninstalling the New Blue FX everything started working correctly. Hopefully New Blue FX is updating their products to keep working with Resolve.

Switch To Timeline After Edit controls
Here’s a neat little setting that Alexis pointed me towards. In the Edit Menu, there is a Switch to Timeline After Edit option that can be disabled.

When the control is enabled, which is a default for any editing system, when you make an edit from the Source Window, your keyboard control automatically follow the edit to the Timeline. The assumption is you just made an edit, so now you want to control the Timeline.

But in the case of long rolls with multiple takes, interviews or just longer files that we want to string out, we can turn OFF the automatic switching and the controls will remain with the Source Window. Mark In / Out, Insert the clip, scroll in the Source, Mark In / Out, Insert the Clip, etc…. without the need to keep re-selecting the Source Window. That’s actually pretty cool and Alexis was saying this was developed primarily for keyboard editors.

One less click, one less motion to make as you’re editing. Another ‘little thing.’

Ok, let’s talk about the Ripple Overwrite.
I saw this when I tested the Drag and Drop editing and honestly ignored it. Then Alexis called and this is the one feature he really wanted to show me because it’s super SUPER amazing and efficient.

Basically what Ripple Overwrite does is allow you to replace a shot in your timeline with one of a different length, and Resolve will automatically ripple your entire timeline keeping all of your edit points and edit timing intact. Your shot can be longer or shorter and Ripple Overwrite will re-assemble your timeline. Here it is in action.

I have an edited timeline, music is timed to fade out where I want it, SFX are timed to the action on the screen, Rampant style effects are located at each edit point and even titles are in the timeline. This is a 4:30 timeline and the 17 second shot highlighted has to be replaced.

If you look up there at the previous image, note especially how I have my music fading out exactly where we want it as the SFX comes in. Now the replacement clip is only 7:16. About a 10 second difference.

Now, I simply drag the 7:16 clip over to the Record Monitor, lay it onto Ripple Overwrite and…..

The 17 second clip is replaced by the 7:16 clip and all of my timing remains completely intact. Note the music fade is still precisely lined up with the SFX. The Rampant Design overlays are still exactly lined up. In fact my entire timeline is still perfectly and all it took was one click. This works both for shorter clips and longer clips, the integrity of your timeline and your edit points are held.

Now I will point out that Resolve made a cut edit in my music in order to shorten it up and keep the fade out lined up. So I have to go back in and make some adjustments to that to ensure that the music remains on the beat. I’m going to be asking if there’s any way to make the edits more intelligent whereby that fade in the music can be rolled back or forward to accommodate the ripple, instead of cutting it. BUT one click, ripple my entire timeline and all I have to do is slip my music a bit. That’s efficiency and something I wish I’ve had for a long time.

Relative Adjustments to Multiple Clips
Here’s another neat feature Alexis pointed out, Relative Adjustments to Multiple Clips. So if I have clips in the timeline that are Scaled 70%, 80% and 50%. I can select all three of them and make a Scale reduction of 10% and Resolve will make that change relative to their original sizes. Making the three clips 60%, 70% and 40% scale. I can do an absolute change to make them all 10% scale, but this relative changing of multiple clips, is pretty neat.

My Impressions and Next Steps
Well I think if you’ve read all three of these blogs you can tell I’m pretty darn impressed with DaVinci Resolve 12.5. I have barely scratched the surface and continue to review Alexis’ tutorial on the features. Is Resolve 12.5 a professional non-linear editing platform? I would honestly say “Yes” with this release. I’ve gotten pushback on forums from folks who have tried 12.0 and didn’t feel it could edit well. I totally agree, it was a step in the right direction, but wasn’t there yet.

I suppose the .5 moniker makes folks thing it’s just an update. 12.5 is an entirely new release that probably should have been called Resolve 13. This is a solid editing tool that I have enjoyed cutting in and again, I have barely figured this thing out yet. It’s very feature rich and each time I use it, I’m discovering another one of “those things I wish Resolve had.”

I’ll be finishing the corporate piece this week and I’ve now committed a reality television pilot to Resolve 12.5 next. I think it’s up to the task. We have seven episodes of this series shot and one of those will become the pilot. I’m running the entire series through Resolve. One thing I’ve been advised on is to keep the project sizes manageable. HUGE projects with thousands upon thousands of clips can get unwieldy. So I’ll employ the same workflow we used for Good Eats and This American Land where each episode is its own project.

As far as video editing for narrative, corporate, commercial, etc…. Resolve 12.5 is a great tool. Very efficiently designed and all of the features I’ve found so far are the “little things” that make life easier. I found myself having fun again in the edit suite.

Look this entire blog series isn’t about “My NLE is better than Your NLE” and the other NLEs suck. This blog series is about DaVinci Resolve being another option for video editors. It is a tool that can do the job today. Whether you choose to use it, well that’s entirely up to you. I’ll still be using Adobe Premiere Pro for projects because it’s a solid system and Resolve works well with it. But Resolve is something that is now going to take a bigger place in the toolbox. Kudos to Peter, Rohit, Alexis, Paul and of course Grant Petty for having a vision to make Resolve more than just one of the best color grading tools on the planet. And for doing it right, making this a useful tool.

With that, these “Day” blogs on Resolve are done. I’ll definitely chime back in when we get rolling on the reality series. Thanks for reading and have an awesome day!

Posted by: walter biscardi on May 10, 2016 at 1:56:10 pmComments (14) DaVinci Resolve, Blackmagic Design

Day Two: Editing on DaVinci Resolve 12.5

Ok, if I'm being honest about this, Day Two was really a continuation of a very LONG day one. See I finished working last night about 6:30, then wrote the Day One blog, and then was preparing to go to bed around 11pm when I heard my phone chime that I had a text. A Producer on the west coast needed me to do a quick turnaround of a national broadcast spot today for Friday delivery. Well, I couldn't let that project interfere with the corporate project I'm cutting on Resolve, so instead of getting some sleep, I went back to the office and continued editing about 11:30pm - 4:30am. Didn't really sleep and went back to the office at 7:30am this morning, finishing up the master candidate of the commercial spot at 6:30pm tonight. Ok, so there's the backstory and I'm surprised I'm even still awake enough to type this, but here goes.....

Some updates on the issues from Day One.

The need to Transcode to ProRes. Paul Saccone from Blackmagic Design reached out to me and told me I didn't need to transcode the 4k H264 to ProRes to get better performance. I can use "Generate Optimized Media" instead.

This basically makes a proxy file that's easy on the playback and editing but then I can simply switch back to the original H264 files for color grading at the end of the process. Yes, I still have to generate another set of files, but these go pretty darn quickly and are much much smaller than the ProRes files I generated yesterday. I thought the Generate Optimized Media was really for use with large files like RAW, but it looks like it's just as useful with the DSLR stuff too.

Not Automatically Scaling my 4k to 1080 HD

I knew this was a setting that I wasn't finding and thanks to Dmitry Kitsov's response on Twitter, I now know where the "magic button" is. It's in Project Settings > Image Scaling Preset.

The default was Scale Entire Image to Fit but what I really wanted was Center Crop with No Resizing. Seems like a long mouthful but as you can see there are four different options for mismatched resolution files so I guess that's the easiest way to describe it.

So on to Day Two.

Everything so far has been very intuitive, even in my sleep deprived state last night, I was finding new functions simply by doing what I always do with certain keystrokes.

Duplicate a clip is simply Option+drag which I used a LOT last night because I was duplicating the heck out of comedic sound effects. You can see 09829_SFX down below duplicated 5 times to coincide with the action.

Speaking of those clips, see how CLEARLY labeled the audio clips are? There's a delineation between the clip name and user controls that's fabulous. With Premiere Pro, the audio labeling frequently disappears with the audio clips so I have to double click them back up into the Source Monitor to confirm the clip name. The labelling is also plenty large and easy to read. Really nicely done.

I mentioned last night how the volume / level control in the timeline is super useful because you have full control of the amount of level rather than being limited to just 6db +/- like in Premiere Pro. Below you see an audio clip that clearly has low audio, it's a manufacturing floor with audio from the camera mic. What Resolve does is shrink and enlarge the audio waveforms giving you a really good representation of the amount of volume in a clip at a quick glance.

And here's that same clip with the clip volume raised.

You can see visually how much louder the clip is now vs. the original picture above. At first I thought this was gimmicky when I saw it in the online demos, but actually it's really handy to be able to just look at the timeline and without even seeing the volume control settings, I can tell what's full volume and what's not.

I finally played with the Text Tool and it's quite good and useful. Is it as feature rich as Adobe's? Not by a long shot, but can you create titles with it? Absolutely. You actually find the titles in the same place as the effects. They have them laid out to be pre-positioned for ease of use, but I generally just start with Text.

You drag a title out onto the timeline and then the Title Panel becomes active.

As you can see, all the basic controls you'd expect and all the fonts on my Mac loaded up. I've only used it for placeholders so far, but will create some titles for the final.

I mentioned yesterday the ease of video and audio track assignments. Here's a look at that.

Just a single control to turn the track on and off. Renaming the tracks is as simple as double-clicking the name and naming it as you can see I did with the audio tracks. It's intuitive and easy.

The Wacom Tablet Works!!!

I had to bold that one because if you're a user of Adobe Premiere Pro and you use a Wacom tablet, then you know the joy of the "jittery pen." Basically any adjustment you make with a Wacom tablet in Premiere Pro results in the keyframe / parameter changing when you release the pen. Completely maddening to say the least, so many of us resort to using a mouse when doing fine tuning such as audio mixing. But in Resolve, I've found the pen to be very accurate and stable. It's little things like this that really make a long long day in the edit suite pleasant.

A little thing that's functional but could be more efficient. Right now the only way to send out a burned in timecode copy to a client is via the Color Panel. I couldn't even find this last night (this morning) so I went out of Resolve and into Adobe Media Encoder. But if you open the timeline in the Color panel, you'll find options for timecode and other things to burn into the media. I made a request to the Resolve team to consider either making a filter for TC Window or simply adding the option to the Delivery panel. When editing, I definitely don't think much about Color and I never even thought to look at the Color panel just to find TC burn-in. So it's there, but I'm hopeful it might be a bit more intuitive for editors who have no interest in using the Color panel.

One other thing that's not working quite as it should is the ability to double click a parameter in the Inspector Panel and change it. If you go back up at look at that Title Panel and I want to double click the Size to change it from 74 to 50. If I try to double click it, the numbers simply change say up to 80 or down to 63 and they keep changing every time I double click. Or the last number will be selected but not all of them. So I have to manually backspace, backspace then type. Most likely a Beta issue and remember this IS beta software right now. Remarkably STABLE beta software too I might add. Had to restart the machine twice last night because the system got a little wonky but the software is not crashing, it's not disappearing, just gets a little "tired" from time to time so I just reboot and keep going.

Here's a look at my timeline so far. Nothing remarkable as you can see, just your good old fashioned basic timeline but sitting inside one of the most powerful color grading tools on the planet. It's been super easy and quite pleasant cutting.

What's continued to impress me is how efficiently the workspace is laid out and how intuitive all of the necessary panels are. I'm editing on a SINGLE monitor. I HATE editing on a single monitor, I love having all that extra real estate for all those windows I need open. But here I am, editing away in Resolve and when I need to access a panel, it's there. Panels move and replace themselves as you set about doing different functions while editing. It's so well thought out and I'm not searching for windows, or dragging more windows out, or losing windows under windows. Granted I have a 5k Retina iMac, but the interface is so efficient I have no need for the second window. It's absolutely remarkable so far. Keep in mind I am doing a pretty simple project right now, but this does give me an insight as to how the app will work for larger projects. The interface seems to have really been thought out from the editor's perspective first and not from an engineering / coding standpoint. It's a very light and nimble application.

Somebody asked me today "why does editing in Resolve interest you?" Well it is my color grading tool of choice. It's completely free, and by the way, I'm cutting this project using the free version of Resolve. My Studio version sits on another machine.

So if I find the Resolve can handle the bulk of our editorial load and especially if I get my new Contemporary Living Network funded, we can have every editor, no matter where they are, no matter which NLE they currently cut with editing on Resolve. Why? We can completely eliminate XMLs and any issues that arise with moving projects between NLEs and Resolve. Now we're simply passing project files back and forth and staying inside the same application.

The workflow to / from Photoshop and After Effects will be different and not as elegant as the Adobe Suite for sure, but then we had a really good workflow between the old FCP and After Effects in the past and I can draw upon that knowledge to create a simple workflow as needed. BUT completely eliminating XMLs from our editorial to editorial workflow and from our editorial to color workflow makes the idea of cutting inside Resolve very appealing. Now when I want to work with my colleague who is an AMAZING 30 years (and counting) colorist it's as simple as hand him the project file.

Does Resolve have the rich feature set of Adobe Premiere Pro or Avid? No, not even close. Does Resolve have a very good, useful feature set that any editor can cut a narrative story and is easy to adapt you muscle memory to? So far, from what I see, the answer is yes. Especially with the latest additions with Resolve 12.5.

I really like that Blackmagic Design has spent a lot of time under the hood ensuring that the basic operation of editing is smooth and easy. That's the most any editor can ask for. As for what comes next, well that all depends on what the editors ask for. From what I've been told, Blackmagic Design is listening quite well to their editing base just like Adobe.

Two days in, call me impressed.

This article first appeared on

Posted by: walter biscardi on Apr 28, 2016 at 7:02:52 pmComments (1) Video Editing, NLE, DaVinci Resolve

Day One: Editing on DaVinci Resolve 12.5

At the recently completed NAB Show in Las Vegas, Blackmagic Design took the wraps off DaVinci Resolve 12.5. It really could be a Resolve 13 but they probably wanted to avoid that unlucky number. I’ve been predicting for over a year now that NAB 2016 would be the year this tool became a full fledged non-linear editing system and sure enough, it’s a solid editing platform.

For those who don’t know the history, DaVinci Systems’ Resolve has been around a very long time in the film industry and was the de-facto standard for color grading and color enhancement in the industry. At one time it costs millions to set up a single Resolve color grading suite. When Blackmagic Design purchased the company, it was on its last legs and after first shoring up the product and bringing it into the modern era, Grant Petty and his team began evolving the product into a full fledged video editing system.

Media Panel in DaVinci Resolve 12.5

Today I spent my first full day editing a real project on the 12.5 Beta. The first thing I did was to purchase Alexis Van Hurkmann’s tutorial “DaVinci Resolve 12.5 New Features” from Ripple Training. He’s such a great trainer and I kept that open on the second screen as a reference while working. It’s the best $49 dollars you’ll spend if you want to get up to speed on the new features in a hurry. Use the code resolve40 when you check out.

The editing system is a new 27″ iMac 5k Retina 4.0 Ghz with 32GB RAM and all the top of the line graphics card. Media is stored on our 48TB Studio Network Solutions EVO media share connected via 10GigE converted to thunderbolt. The original materials were shot on a Panasonic GH4 at 4k UHD resolution in the H264 format.

Ingesting and organizing the bins was very straightforward if you’ve used any non-linear editing system before. Can either select and drag individual items over or drag in folders from the Media panel. The new layouts and options in the Media Panel are very intuitive as is the metadata editor. After watching Alexis go over this panel in his tutorial, I jumped right in and started adding the Scene and Take numbers along with Comments on the good takes. Really made it super simple to organize. I really like the dual Metadata / Inspector Window. Nice use of space to make them both share the same window.

Alexis Van Hurkmann Training on the right and Media Panel entering Metadata on the left.

All audio was recorded separately on a Zoom H6 recorder and as always, we made sure to audibly slate each scene and take along with a proper slate or hand clap. After placing all the video and audio clips into a single bin, I used the “Auto-Sync using Audio Waveform” command. There were about 50 clips to sync and it was done in about a minute or so. I LOVED that no new clips were created. No multi-cam clips or extra clips to be sorted through. The audio from the Zoom recorder was simply placed on a new audio track on the video clips. Double click the video into the Source and I heard the clean zoom audio.

For the most part it worked perfectly. There were 7 B-Roll shots that had no Zoom audio recorded for them, which I should have left out of the Sync bin, but forgot. Resolve sync’d some random Zoom audio to those B-Roll shots. I tried using the Clip Attributes function to select the original camera audio for those B-Roll clips but it didn’t work. Most likely a bug and this is beta software after all, so that’s to be expected. I reported this issue via the Blackmagic Design forum for the Beta software.

At first I set up using the FCPX keyboard shortcuts but almost immediately switched over to DaVinci Resolve shortcuts. They’re definitely modeled on the FCP 7 shortcuts and I picked them up very quickly.

At first the system seemed very snappy but after I made just two edits it became sluggish. I had a feeling it was the 4k H264 files. Even Premiere Pro gets sluggish with 4k H264s. The file sizes are very small, but there is a lot of processing involved to let them play smoothly. Each time I loaded a clip into the Source window, it took a few seconds to draw out the frames and then when I hit play, there was a delay. So I used the Media Management tool in Resolve to Transcode everything to ProRes. Time well spent because the system was EXTREMELY responsive as soon as I started editing with the ProRes files. Instant loads, instant JKL response on the keyboard.

Everything about editing in Resolve 12.5 so far is intuitive. The Trim commands are fabulous and I especially love that some features are active by simply hovering over a different area. Hit Trim and hover over the thumbnails in the video track and you’re automatically Slipping the video. I use slip a LOT and loved this. It was very intuitive and easy for me to poke around and discover stuff.

The ease of video and audio track assignments was refreshing. I’m used to double setting the audio and video in Premiere Pro and then having a second set of commands for Pasting or snapping the playhead along the timeline.

The audio level control within the timeline is fantastic. Full range of volume and loudness just by raising and lowering the volume without the need for any sort of gain control. So simple.

The biggest thing I’m trying to figure out now is how to force Resolve to leave my 4k material at full 100% scale instead of scaling it down to fit my 1080 HD editing timeline. I’m sure the moment I ask on a forum I’ll have the answer, but that’s about the only thing I couldn’t figure out on my own today.

There were some hiccups to be sure and I’m still trying to find some of the controls but as far as editing, it felt like trying on a new pair of shoes. I was walking for a bit and then in an hour I started jogging. Not up to full speed yet, but for a first day editing on the system, it was easy and intuitive.

Grant, Paul Saccone and the entire Blackmagic Design team have done an incredible job building up this app to be really useful, intuitive and simple to move into one of the most powerful color grading tools on the planet. That’s Day One, I’ll update as we move along in the project.

Grant Petty and I at NAB Show 2016. At one point the two of us had such a rivalry against each other we had to be separated on these very Creative Cow forums. True Story!

This article first appeared on

Posted by: walter biscardi on Apr 27, 2016 at 5:15:41 pm 4k, UHD, Video Editing

Where to find Walter Biscardi at NAB Show 2016

NAB Show 2016 is upon us and my schedule is coming together. I’ll be primarily appearing in the Studio Network Solutions booth SL11113 giving the presentation Adobe Premiere Pro Project Management and Project Sharing Best Practices. (full details below) I’ll also be at some of the evening events and just hanging out. So if you have the chance, come say hello and let’s chat! Heck, if you want to meet up for a coffee and talk shop, ping me on Twitter, @walterbiscardi or drop me an email walter (at) Look forward to seeing you all!

LOVE Stef and Sean from Rampant Design Tools

Saturday: Arriving in the afternoon and honestly, this is my quietest day. If you’re in town and want to meet up to chat, ping me! I’m staying over in the MGM Grand / NY NY area of the Strip.

Sunday: If anyone wants to meet up for breakfast, ping me. I’m also around in the early afternoon. 9pm I’ll be at the #PostChat meet-up outside the O’Shea’s Bar in The Linq restaurant district. Outside between The Linq hotel and Flamingo. I might also try out the High Roller observation wheel Sunday night.

Meeting Vashi! at the #PostChat meet-up

Monday: I’ll be in the SNS Booth SL11113 all day and presenting Adobe Premiere Pro Project Management and Project Sharing Best Practices at 10:30am, 2:00pm and 4:00pm.

In the presentation I will take you though best practices for Adobe Premiere Pro Project Management and Project Sharing. These management tips can apply to other NLEs as well. I’ll demonstrate the techniques I developed for managing the wealth of digital data created in today’s video production world, whether you’re in the corporate, broadcast or digital marketplace. I’ll cover the basics of standardizing your project management including: Media Management & Organization, File / Folder Renaming, Transcoding, Media Cache, Shared Projects (2 or more editors sharing the same project), Cross Platform (Mac & Windows), Archiving. This is a must presentation for anyone looking to bring order to an expanding digital media workload and library.

I’ll also be available all day in the booth to answer any questions you have about Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, Shared Storage Workflow, 4k, UHD, Post Production and of course, anything to do with cooking. Pizza On the Grill is my favorite! So stop on by and say hello!

Monday Evening: You’ll find me at the Media Motion Ball located in the Monte Carlo.

Tuesday: I’ll be in the SNS Booth SL11113 all day and presenting Adobe Premiere Pro Project Management and Project Sharing Best Practices at 10:30am, 2:00pm and 4:00pm. (see full description above) Again, I’ll be available to answer any questions you have on all matters Post and of course cooking. So stop by and say hello!

Tuesday Evening: You’ll find me for a little while at the Supermeet located in the Rio. I don’t stay for the entire event and I generally just hang out in the vendor area to chat with folks. Generally I end up going out for dinner after a few hours here.

Wednesday: I’ll be in the SNS Booth SL11113 all day and presenting Adobe Premiere Pro Project Management and Project Sharing Best Practices at 10:30am, 2:00pm and 4:00pm. (see full description above) Again, I’ll be available to answer any questions you have on all matters Post and of course cooking. So stop by and say hello!

Wednesday Evening: I’m attending a private event and then will be on my way back to Atlanta bright and early Thursday morning.

I really hope I get to meet up with you this year. Have fun!

About the Author:

Walter Biscardi, Jr. is a 25 year veteran in media production and the Founder of BISCARDI CREATIVE MEDIA, a full service digital media production company near Atlanta, Georgia with services that include Video Production, Sound Production, Sound Mixing, Graphic Design, Animation, Post Production, Video Editing, Color Grading, Finishing, Digital Asset Transfer, Digitizing and Archiving. He’s also the Founder of CONTEMPORARY LIVING NETWORK, a digital lifestyle network coming soon featuring Life Worth Living. He and his team have been a part of many national awards including the Emmy and Peabody. Walter is also a frequent speaker at national industry events and offered training and consulting in the media industry.

Two Editors, One Adobe Premiere Pro Project File

So I ignited a bit of a firestorm on social media a few days ago with a simple tweet.

With Adobe Premiere, you cannot have two editors open the exact same project at the exact same time to work together. Premiere Pro has no way to merge the information between the two editors so whomever saves the project last will overwrite the work the other person has done. For this reason, even though we run a shared storage system for all our media, we always keep our projects on the local computer. The editor has total control of the project and if it needs to be shared, they create a “B” version of the same project. This ensures nobody screws up and overwrites someone else’s work.

Well along comes Studio Network Solutions with a simple way for two editors to open the exact same project at the exact time with no fear of one person overwriting the other’s work. Makes it super easy for two editors to work together if need be or for a Producer to simply open a project for review on a second workstation while the editor keeps working. They employ file locking via their EVO ShareBrowser software.

Ok, here’s the EVO ShareBrowser on Edit Workstation 3. It’s an iMac running OS X Yosemite.

Along the left column you can see both the EVO storage (we broke it into four partitions) along with some other storage we have on the network and local. I’ve already highlighted the Premiere Pro Project file which is sitting on EVO 1 and ready for edit.

I launch the project from the Browser and you can see what happens below.

The EVO ShareBrowser has automatically placed a lock on the project file. It’s an open lock because I launched it first from this system so Edit 3 has control of the project file.

Now I go over to our Edit 1 Workstation. It’s a Dell T5500 Precision running Windows 7.

There’s that exact same project file on EVO 1 only here you can clearly see the lock is closed AND I can clearly see that Edit 3 has control of the lock.

I want to see that project anyway so I double click to launch.

In case I missed the lock icon, the EVO ShareBrowser tells me right away that the project is being used elsewhere and I can only run in Read Only Mode.

I click Yes to Continue.

You can see that the Lock is now Red reminding me that I do not have write control of the project, but there’s the exact same project open on the Edit 1 system at the exact time it's running on Edit 3.

So what can I do now? I can edit, I can make notes, I can simply watch and review, I can log, I can do anything I would normally do with Premiere EXCEPT save that exact same file name. See the EVO will prevent that since the project file is locked. If you forget this and simply click on “Save” this prompt pops up.

But I can go ahead and “Save As” and simply give the project on Edit 1 a new extension to the name. You can see the Edit 1 has control of the new "B" project file.

At this point if we want to merge the two projects together, the editor in Edit 3 would be able to import and merge the changes between Edit 1 and Edit 3. Yes this needs to be done manually, but it adds another level of efficiency that we haven’t had to this date.

Why? The file locking removes the fear that we might accidentally overwrite someone else’s work while they’re working. When keeping the files local on each workstation, sometimes you have to go to that workstation, copy the file (maybe turn on the machine if it’s not on) and then take that file to your local workstation to start editing. This makes absolutely sure nobody will accidentally overwrite your work, but it can also be a bit of a pain.

With this file locking system that the EVO ShareBrowser provides, we are immediately switching our workflow with our project files now living directly with the media on the EVO server. If a secondary editor joins on to a project, they can simply just open the project where the editor 1 is at this very moment and start right into the edit with a “B” project. It's a small thing, but we're loving this new wrinkle in the workflow. Oh and editors can request the project files be unlocked allowing another person to take over by simply messaging across the EVO network.

This is by no means Adobe Anywhere or Avid workflow, but it’s a nice small step forward in efficiency. This project locking feature can be applied to as many project types as we need including After Effects, Photoshop, ProTools and more. For us it’s a pretty cool step forward to be able to have the project files out and easily accessible for the entire shop rather than locked on each computer system. I’m hoping soon we’ll get to have the feature of Anywhere in a much more scaled down feature set for just in use in a local shop rather than the big cloud architecture now supported.

Of course I did also receive this today. Wonder what it means? NAB is less than two weeks away……

Posted by: walter biscardi on Apr 1, 2015 at 3:34:26 amComments (2) Shared Storage, Must Editor Workflow

Repairs made to Library

For the past few weeks I’ve been informed by Members that videos in the Library are appearing with the locked “Private” icon from Vimeo. It’s taken me a few weeks to really dig in and investigate and it turns out this all stems from my cancellation of Vimeo Pro. It threw the entire privacy settings for a loop on Vimeo thus locking everyone out of a lot of the library items.

I have gone in and reset most everything back to Wistia and all seems to be working well now. The rest of the titles will move over to Wistia shortly.

My sincere apologies if you’ve been frustrated trying to access the library. It’s been a busy time for me and I was simply not able to dedicate enough time to really figure out what was going on. Hope you’re enjoying the library and we’ll have some more training news soon!

I hope this picture of a happy Molly the Wonder Dog preparing for a voice over session helps to make up for any annoyances I’ve caused.


Posted by: walter biscardi on Mar 17, 2015 at 4:37:42 pm Video, Tutorials

NAB Show 2015: Tips from an NAB Convention Veteran To Make the Best Use of Your Time.

The snow is finally starting to melt, well except in Boston, so that means it’s time for the annual National Association of Broadcasters convention.   I’ve gone so many times it’s more like a family reunion than a trade show anymore.  Here’s my 2015 edition of “Tips from an NAB Veteran to make the best use of your time.”    

Bring Your Business Cards and Plenty of Them!.
More than anything else, this is the largest Networking event for creatives in the world.   I have met so many wonderful people who I now call friends and whom I call upon for answers to my questions.  Some I even collaborate with.   So beyond just trying to maybe connect with someone to get a job, connect with people who can help you out when you have questions.

Limited time to visit?  Come later in the week.
If you’ve already made your plans, it might be too late for this, but if you really want to get hands on with equipment and software in the booths and ask questions, Wednesday and Thursday are the best days.   Monday and Tuesday the crowds are the largest.   Especially Thursday the crowds are always much smaller giving you much better access to the booths.

If you are going to be there all week, my advice is to avoid the “big booths” Monday and make discoveries in the outlying smaller booths in all the halls.  Especially lighting and audio always seem to have the smaller crowds and they make great areas to visit, especially Monday all day.
Also take in the outdoor exhibits between South and Central Hall where there are remote production trucks, satellite uplinks and other very cool displays.   While you may never have the need for a remote production truck, just walking through one and seeing how they have managed to configure an entire production facility in a very small footprint can certainly give you some ideas for designing your own production space.

In Central Hall I always go in to check out what’s the latest in microphones and field recording because when a show idea comes up, for whatever reason I start thinking about the microphones I saw and how we can use them.   It was here that I first learned about Countryman Audio for example and have since started using their products.

Getting to and from the show.
NAB does a great job providing free shuttle transportation to and from the show via many of the hotels along The Strip.   Whether you stay in one of these hotels or not, as an attendee, you have access to these busses.   So look at the NAB Bus Schedule and pick a hotel nearby to pick up the shuttle, be sure to have your convention badge on you as you generally have to show it to the bus driver to get on.  Now in 2014 I did notice that traffic was MUCH worse getting to the show in the morning so I started hopping the Monorail in the morning.   If you get a one week Monorail pass, it’s a pretty good deal and I usually end up using it throughout the week to go to down to MGM / New York New York or all the way up near where Sahara used to be.

At the end of the day, I always take the Las Vegas Monorail from the show.   Busses can get swamped at the end of the day and while the Monorail costs money, it tends to move more people faster out of the event.   Even if looks like there are tons of people headed up to the monorail, they move you though pretty well onto the monorail to get out.  I just hop off at the hotel the closest to mine on the way back.  The best hotel for monorail service on the Strip is the Flamingo.   It has the shortest walking distance from hotel rooms to the station of any of the monorail based hotels, less than 10 minutes to your room if you’re on the monorail side of the hotel and about 12 minutes to your room on the other side.  It’s generally my “go-to” hotel for the show.

Dress for comfort, especially your feet!
NAB is a big show.   Let me rephrase that.   NAB is a HUGE SHOW.   As in thousands upon thousands of square feet of exhibition space.   Let me say that again.   NAB IS A MASSIVE SHOW!   You may have been to big trade shows before, but imagine walking through and around 4 football stadiums (US or European) to see everything and that kind of gives you a sense of how large this thing is.   In other words, you’re going to be walking….. a lot…… forwards, backwards, up, down and all around.

It cannot be said enough that comfortable shoes are a MUST at this show.  I wear running shoes that have fabric that breathes.  Women…. how in the heck do you wear heels?   I have no idea, yet I see you walking the show floor every year like it’s something you have to do.  No, you honestly don’t.  Same with the men wearing wingtip business shoes.  Why?  They are simply not comfortable to walk around 4 football fields or to even stand still for hours at a time.    The NAB show floor is not the place to make a fashion statement so just relax.   Remember your feet will swell up standing and walking all day long, keep the shoes comfortable!

For dress, I tend to go with comfortable jeans and t-shirts or short sleeved button down shirts.   South Lower, where most of Post Production is housed, can get a little warm on Monday / Tuesday just because of the thousands of bodies in the hall.   Check the weather forecasts before you come for nighttime temps, as oftentimes a light sweater or jacket is good at night when the temps drop.   While 60 degrees might sound nice and warm with just a T-Shirt, with no sun and a 10-15 mph wind, that light jacket you brought along will feel much better.

Beyond the jeans, the only event I know of that really requires any sort of “dress code” is the annual AJA Party which is held in an exclusive nightclub usually and does require an invitation to attend.   Other than that, it’s generally just “come as you are.”

Plan Ahead, Check out the Changes, Use Reference Points and check .
A big key is to plan ahead and then prioritize your plan.  There is so much to see that it’s easy to get overwhelmed at the show, it’s literally the biggest toy box for all of to play in with everything we’d ever need to make great shows.   All the stuff you read about on the internet and in magazines is on display.   It’s easy to get caught up spending way too much time on some really super cool toy that you don’t need, can’t afford, would never use, but it’s just so freakin’ cool and before you know it, two hours are gone.

So pick the toys you REALLY want to see, then prioritize them in order of what’s the most important thing you need  all the way down to those that would be fun to see, but it wouldn’t matter if you missed them.   You will accomplish much more and see those things that will make a difference for you in the next 12 months.

If you’re thinking “Well I went last year so I know where everything is” think again.   Most all the vendors are shuffled every year except the HUGE booths like Blackmagic Design.  There have also been quite a few changes this year.  A new Aerial Robotics and Drone Pavilion has been added. The New Media Expo is co-hosting in the North Hall for content creators, I’ll definitely be checking this area out for my content.   Check out the NAB Show website to do searches on all your favorite destinations using this handy Exhibitor Search page.  Type in the name you’re looking for and it will bring up the building and finally the booth location. The show floor oftentimes makes no logical sense.   Booth numbers that go smoothly from number to number suddenly veer off into nonsense and you stand around saying “Well it should be right here, it’s the next number in sequence.” 

If you have a smartphone or tablet you can access the My NAB Show tool.  I’ve used their My NAB app for the past few years, but I’ll try this tool set this time as I don’t see the regular mobile app available on my phone.  This should offer you a good map view and also allows you to put your entire show schedule into the app to keep track of what’s going on.

Another great way to help with navigation on the show floor and to find your way back to location is to use reference points.  Pick a banner, a booth, whatever that has a high sign that you can clearly see to use as a reference point to find your way around.   I often use the AJA Video Systems booth, the Adobe Theater and one of the music libraries in South Lower as my reference points for example.    I can visually see that point and if I know a booth I’m looking for is in the general area, I can use that to find it.

In particular, use these reference points to find the bathrooms.   Small thing I know, but at least in South Hall, they are along the far left and right walls and finding these easily is a good thing.  :)

Stay tuned for the Sunday announcements.
Many companies presenting at NAB will either have press events or issue press releases on Sunday announcing their latest toys that will be on display in the exhibition halls.  Websites such as have great news feeds that help you follow along with the almost dizzying array of releases.
Make notes of the releases that are of special interest to you so you’ll know what that company is debuting, locate their booth number, and prepare some questions.  Yeah, write your questions down or put them in your phone / tablet because you’ll definitely forget what you were going to ask when you get to the booth.    EVERYTHING sounds incredible in the press release, seeing it on the show floor and asking the right questions can get you a better picture of what the toy can and cannot do.  Pay very close attention to what the product does NOW and what might come in a future release.  There’s a lot of difference between what’s ready to go now and what “might” happen at a later date.

Most of the manufacturers on the show floor are very frank about what their products CAN’T do.  They want to make sure the right information gets out and they want you to be a satisfied customer.  So don’t just take everything at face value, ask questions!   And here’s the best question to ask,  “Is this shipping now and if not when will it ship?”  Some companies have developed reputations of demonstrating really awesome stuff that’s still not available when NAB comes around again.  Heck some of it never gets released, hence the term “vaporware.”

Monday Morning
UPDATE: NAB Exhibits will open at 10:00am on Monday morning, not 9:00am as in the past.
Here’s my yearly reminder: You do not have to start lining up at 9:30am to be the very first one into the convention hall Monday morning.   Things do not start disappearing at 10:01am.   Once again, last year, there was a huge mob of people just lining up outside the gates at South Hall waiting to sprint into the convention.  Those of us working the booths call this “The running of the bulls.”  You don’t win points for being first.   Just relax, grab a cup of coffee or tea at the Starbucks and when the gates open, there will be plenty of room for everyone.   The place holds something like 100,000 people, so relax, let the mob run in ahead you and then you can just meander in behind them.

A GREAT way to avoid the mobs on Monday morning is to walk directly to the back half of the convention hall first thing.  It’s always quiet back there Monday morning because folks get hung up at the huge booths up front .   Lots of equipment and personnel available in the booth out back to get your hands on and questions answered.   Then you can wander back up to the front after lunch.

Another great tip, walk the outside walls on the left and right side of the halls, especially South Hall.  Walking down the middle is basically rush hour all day, every day, especially at the front of South Hall.  So walk along the outer walls to get around the show floor more easily.

I’ve found some really cool widgets, software and tools for my work that I never would have found without just strolling “off the beaten path” as it were, such as my incredibly awesome Anthro edit consoles.   For Post Production, the Plug-In Pavilion is always a great place to see what’s out there for effects and time savers.  There’s also something called the Start-Up Pavilion with brand new products often debuting at the show from smaller companies.  Always great to see what they have to share with us.

Pace Yourself, stay hydrated.
Unless you are only in Vegas for one day (because your cheap boss wouldn’t spring for at least two days) pace yourself, nothing is going anywhere for four days.  It’s not like those stupid day after Thanksgiving sales, there’s nothing that’s going to disappear except maybe some of the free swag that you’ll probably throw away when you get home anyway.

Many of the larger booths have chairs, small theaters with presentations throughout the day which are great to just sit and take a break for a few minutes.   Sit in on some of the presentations that are about the toys you are considering.   Sure these are well planned 15 – 30 minute presentations, but watching them can give you a good sense of whether the toy is what you expected it to be.  In addition, the presentations allow you to form questions to pose to the folks working these toys in the booth.   And there’s that sitting down for 15 – 30 minutes part that’s a good thing for your feet.
And above all stay hydrated, drink lots of water.   The air is very dry in Las Vegas and it’s easy to get dehydrated with all the walking around you’re going to be doing.   Not just at the convention, walking around the streets of Vegas will wear you out if you don’t stay hydrated.    One of my first stops every year is to CVS pharmacy or small shop on the street to pick up a 6 pack of bottled water that I can refill as the week goes on.

Remember that Vegas also uses a lot of forced perspective, so things that appear to be right down the block are actually 1/2 mile or more away.   For example what looks like a short walk from New York, New York Casino to Treasure Island is more like a 50 minute walk up the street.

Evening Events.
Many manufacturers and groups have evening and after hours events.   These are as simple as meet and greets to the world-renowed AJA VIP party.   Some are free and some cost to attend.  For the most part they’re fun and these are generally the best place to simply hang and meet up with your peers.   You’ll find many of the bloggers, the writers, and folks who post on the various forums and tweet away all year long.  And don’t be shy at these events, just walk up and say hello.

Now the same suggestions for the main show, also apply to the evening events.  Primarily, pace yourself.   There are a LOT of evening events, pick and choose a few, if you don’t make them all, so what?   It’s ok.   And manage your intake of alcohol.   Yes everyone likes to party and have a beer or two, but I’m amazed at the number of folks revert back to frat college days and get completely wasted to the point where you really don’t even want to be around them.   Remember, you are representing yourself at all times and it’s best to remain coherent and professional when you’re in public.  As many of the beer companies remind us, “Drink Responsibly.”   And at most of these you’re going to do a lot of standing, so again, wear comfortable shoes!

My absolute favorite event each year is the Media Motion Ball.  It’s a smaller gathering, costs a bit more money because they serve a very nice buffet sit down dinner and is more low key than some of the other larger gatherings.   It’s quieter so we can all chat and it’s a very friendly atmosphere.   The sponsor tables are also usually in the same room and are very approachable.  Often you’ll find the folks from the “big booths” like Blackmagic Design where you can meet more one on one with the product folks than out on the floor.

The biggest event for the Post Production industry is always the SuperMeet.  Part carnival, part demonstration, always entertaining.  Home of the one of the largest raffles in all of NAB.   It’s also a great place to find out if there are any Post Production User Groups in your area as they do a parade of user groups as part of the event.  Personally I go for about the first 1/4 to 1/2 of the event spending more time out in the sponsor area as it’s a great place for me to catch up with a lot of my friends and to meet many of you from the CreativeCow, my blog and Twitter.

For those of you arriving by Sunday, #PostChat will be hosting a casual meet up at 8pm. Check out their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter for details..

Most manufacturers and groups will have events posted on their websites or at the booths so check them out and decide if anything works for you. And if you don’t want to go out and party, then don’t, there are so many great restaurants and food joints all over town, go enjoy yourself at one of those. 

I forgot my hard drive, power cord, etc… and portable cell phone chargers
The Fashion Show Mall (weird name I know) located near Treasure Island and the Wynn hotel has an Apple Store and other electronics stores that should have whatever you left behind or lost on your way to Las Vegas.   Other good stores and a great food court in there as well.
Your Cell Phone will NOT last through the entire day.  NAB Show days and nights are LONG!  So bring a few back up batteries so you can recharge your phone during the day.  There are many USB portable charger units around like these, I have three of them here and plan to bring all of them to have on me during the day.  (Thanks to Dylan Reeve for the reminder on this tip)

By the way, bring a small power tap or power strip so you can recharge all that electronic gear you need at night.
Beyond the Show, my suggestions for food and fun.
You’re in Las Vegas, there are literally tons of things to do besides gambling.   Quite honestly gambling bores me, I used to work in the largest casino in the world and slot machines and such never interested me.  I do place one bet each year on the weekend NASCAR race, but beyond that, not much else.    So here’s some thoughts beyond the obvious gambling and drinking.

I can’t over emphasize how good the restaurants are both on and off the Strip.   Buca de Beppo is wonderful off the strip.   Our favorite buffet has been the Spice Market Buffett in Planet Hollywood although the Bacchanal Buffet in Caesars Palace was just insanely good last year.  Pricey, but amazing and it features ice cream from our good friends at High Road Craft.    

The best grouping of restaurants in one hotel is the Venetian with Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio being the standout, but there are a lot of great choices in that one hotel including the Grand Lux and an awesome Mexican Cantina.  If you go downstairs in the Shoppes at Palazzos you’ll find an absolutely killer Espressamente Illy coffee house / gelato shop.  My favorite coffee in Vegas.

One fun thing that presents tons of photo opportunities is the Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum in the Venetian Hotel.   What makes it so fun is that nothing is behind glass, it’s all out so you can stand and pose with the wax people.   It’s silly fun with something like 54 celebrities or so to get your picture with in a walk at your own pace style.

Of the “big shows” in I’ve seen in Vegas, “O” at the Bellagio simply takes the cake for spectacle.  I spent as much time enjoying the show as I did marveling at the staging and just trying to figure out what sort of a warped mind can actually create some of this.  Simply stunning both creatively and technically.  Mystere at Treasure Island is still my favorite Cirque show and although I’ve yet to make it, The Beatles Love at Mirage is supposed to be spectacular.  Penn & Teller come out to the lobby after every show to meet and greet for any guest that wants to say hello.

The show is what you make it.
Simply put, NAB Show is what you make it.  You’re around somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 people for a few days.   The way you make connections and the way you network is to walk up and say “hello.”   That’s how I got to know so many people over the years.   I’ve read their blogs, their articles, watched their companies grow, etc….  and when I saw them on the show floor, I just walked over and said “hello” and gave them my card.
Some folks I never heard from again.  But those that did reach out have turned into some of the most valuable resources and best friends I could possibly ask for.   Networking and meeting new people is the main reason I attend most years.   Yeah, Vegas itself gets to be boring when you go every single year, but what keeps me coming back is simply getting the chance to see everyone in one place each year.

So don’t be shy, don’t be rude either, but if you want to say hello to folks, say hello.  If you want to say hello to me, you can find me on the show floor, at the #PostChat event and definitely at the Media Motion Ball.  I’ll post my schedule in a separate blog when my schedule is finalized.

If you want to get a sense of how much fun NAB is, there's a series of #WallyCam videos on my website blog with a slew of my selfie videos from the show both last year and in 2013.  This one with Marco Solorio is one of my favorites from last year.

There you go, some tips and tricks from a veteran of the Las Vegas NAB Scene.   Again: Bring lots and lots of business cards, shake a lot hands and make yourself some new friends you can call upon when need advice.   Most importantly have fun.  We’ll see you there!

Posted by: walter biscardi on Mar 9, 2015 at 4:39:31 am NAB, Tips

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Professional Video Editor, Producer, Creative Director, Director since 1990.

Credits include multiple Emmys, Tellys, Aurora and CableAce Awards.

Creative Director for Georgia-Pacific and GP Studios, Atlanta. Former Owner / Operator of Biscardi Creative Media. The show you knew us best for was "Good Eats" on the Food Network. I developed the HD Post workflow and we also created all the animations for the series.

Favorite pastime is cooking with pizza on the grill one of my specialties. Each Christmas Eve we serve the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional Italian seafood meal with approx. 30 items on the menu.

If I wasn't in video production I would either own a restaurant or a movie theater.



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