: walter biscardi's Blog
A new behind the scene interview has been posted on the website for the new PBS series, This American Land, being cut at Biscardi Creative Media. This time with Co-Host Caroline Raville. An 8th grade teacher for Gwinnett County Georgia Schools, she's making her national television
Interview with Caroline Raville
A new behind the scene interview has been posted on the website for the new PBS series, This American Land
, being cut at Biscardi Creative Media. This time with Executive Producer, Gary Strieker, a longtime CNN correspondent / bureau chief. Gary and Walter Biscardi, Jr. have been working together for many years now on environmental and global health projects.
Interview with Gary Strieker
This week we’re finally going to be upgrading our ethernet based SAN, which as most of you know is a Maxx Digital Final Share system. And of course most of you also know is that Small Tree Communications came up with “secret sauce” to make editing HD video via Ethernet a stable reality. So Final Share SAN was really a hybrid between Small Tree technology and Maxx Digital RAIDs.
Unfortunately since we moved into our new building the system has been under-performing. Many tweaks and changes have been made along the way, but nothing seemed to solve the problem of dropped frames across all systems since we got into the new building. The system is over two years old and definitely showing its age.
During the original development of the product, Steve Modica from Small Tree Communications would spend hours connected to our system tweaking, modifying and changing many things about how the system worked. Turned out we were pushing the ethernet SAN pretty much to the breaking point because of the long form work we were playing off (300 hours of material in a documentary) in addition to the multiple weekly series. Through many hours of tweaking and massaging, Steve was able to get more speed out of the system and made it incredibly stable.
So now that the time has come for us to step up to another system as we grow our facility from four workstations in the old space to 7 workstations plus 8 iMacs in the new space, I just feel more confident going back to the guy who started it all. And I’ll be honest, it doesn’t hurt that I’ve already been exposed to the “next thing” coming down the road.
So this weekend Steve and Chris Duffy from are coming down from Minnesota to install a new Small Tree GraniteStore ST RAID II 16 drive, 48TB system which is a 6Gig system paired with a new 10Gig Small Tree Ethernet switch.
“But wait Walt, other folks are releasing 10gig systems already, why go with a slower system?”
As I’ve learned over the past few months, it’s not just about having a very fast pipe, it’s knowing how to intelligently direct data through the pipe. So if your data is flowing efficiently to all the workstations, you can get the same performance from a “slower” pipe. Again, these are the guys who basically created the technology and they have many many tricks up their sleeve.
Including that “next thing” I mentioned. Can’t say anything about it right now, but I can say that as soon as it’s ready for real world testing, we will have it in our shop and we will tell you about it. The growth of this technology is just so exciting. What began as a cheaper alternative to Fibre Channel with some major tradeoffs in speed is maturing into much more.
In the mean time, I’ll have lots of photos and maybe even some video from Steve to explain the system as we install it this weekend.
Biscardi Creative Media (BCM) Principal Walter Biscardi, Jr. has been named Managing Producer, along with Marsha Walton, of the new series, "This American Land" from Executive Producer Gary Strieker and Environment News Trust. The weekly half hour series will begin feeding to PBS stations on August 6th, 2011.
This American Land has reporters across the country looking for people with stories to tell about what’s happening to our natural heritage - what all of us should know about what is being done and what needs to be done to protect our natural resources for the future.
Biscardi will also serve as Post Production Supervisor with BCM providing all Post services for the series. To learn more about the series, visit thisamericanland.org
For more information about Biscardi Creative Media visit biscardicreative.com
Partial credits for the series include:
Executive Producer: Gary Strieker
Managing Producer / Writer: Marsha Walton
Managing Producer / Post Production Supervisor: Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Host: Bruce Burkhardt, Caroline Reville
Editor: Adrienne Latham, R. John Becker
Sound Design: Patrick Belden
Graphics & Animation: Brandon Smith, David Warner, Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Closed Captioning: CaptionMax
Production Coordinator: Jeanna Thomas
Why is it that Producers treat Post Production as an afterthought? As in, “I need to spend all my money on Production so it looks great, but the editing we can do on the cheap.” The editor is the LAST person to touch your film. As in the person who will make or break your film by their skills to properly cut the film together making the right decisions on scenes to keep / remove, timing and a whole host of other decisions. So you hire the absolute cheapest person to do the one of the most important jobs?
A Professional Editor also knows how to properly manage time, as in being able to handle a project on time, by deadline and also managing the Producer’s expectations. A Professional Editor also knows when a project’s scope is beyond their abilities.
The Perfect Storm of how NOT to plan your Post Production played recently in some unsolicited correspondence I received from a Producer I’ve never met, but they asked for my advice to help resolve their Post Production issues. I’ve edited some of the original email, but my blunt responses are reprinted here in their entirety.
Producer: I have a film shot on RED that I’m planning to submit to Sundance. I hired a college student to cut the film and gave them 2 months to cut it. The film will be about an hour.
Me: You hired a university student to cut a film for submission to Sundance. That’s only the most difficult film festival to get an acceptance in the U.S. because EVERYBODY submits to that one. The way you get accepted is to already have an in with the festival, have a blockbuster coming out, or submit an absolutely superb story that stands out above the rest. So you entrusted a college student to prepare your film for the most difficult film festival to get into. Unless you’re trying to qualify for a student level film, that was a huge mistake right off the bat. Your film would have to be both creative and technically sound. No matter how creative your film is, a university student has no idea how to make a film technically sound to stand out in a crowded film festival submission.
And you did the film in RED which requires a stout editing system and proper professional monitoring to properly edit.
Producer: I gave the editor two requirements: make my film at least 60 minutes and have it to me no later than my deadline in two months. I gave him all the RED footage that we currently had (approximately 3/4 of the movie) so that he could get a jump on editing while we completed the film.
Me: Two months is a ridiculously tight turnaround unless you had everything ready to go and laid out for editing. Especially if you were expecting a fully finished film for submission that would include a rough audio mix, rough color enhancement, etc… If you were expecting a fully finished film with full audio mix and full color enhancement, that was not near enough time. Your timeframe was impossible meet unless you had a full post production facility behind you that was skilled in completing quick turnaround projects. No way one person was going to complete all of this in two months have it fully film festival ready.
A university student wouldn’t really know this since when they submit projects to be graded, it doesn’t always have to be fully completed. If it’s creative but not technically sound, well that’s ok because they’re learning and the professor will give them good grades. In the real world, technical quality is paramount to the creative. I’ve seen some amazingly skilled college editors but the one thing they all lack is the ability to properly prepare projects from a technical standpoint. Audio levels, video levels and proper color correction are things I always have to teach new hires.
Producer: Delays happen as they do on film sets and half of the last 1/4 of the film footage didn’t get to the editor until 3 weeks before the deadline. “No problem”, he told me, “I’ve been editing the footage as I go. You’ll definitely get your film by your deadline”. Deadline came and he calls me up and says he can’t make the deadline because the film is rendering and the ETA is 12 hours. (As an editor, isn’t this something you budget for as far as time management goes?).
Me: I’m not surprised in the least. A university student is not used to meeting deadlines yet. They can miss a deadline or two in college and it’s no big deal. Of course I can’t understand exactly what they were rendering. Was it the color correction? Was it the RED Proxy Files? Didn’t they convert all the footage to ProRes for the edit?
Yes, rendering time is one of those things you have to budget for in time management, it’s always a trade off on adding more to a project vs. render time to complete on time. Not to mention the DVD compression / authoring / burning time.
Producer: While I’m watching it, I realized that it’s not 60 minutes and there are crucial errors in it (i.e. missing scenes, and in one scene you hear the AD say “Action”). I can’t submit this!
Me: So you have not watched any rough cuts of the film at all? When the film is completed this is the first time you’re seeing it? Generally an editor submits rough cuts either on a daily, weekly or other regular schedule that is laid out with the Producer before the edit starts.
Scenes are cut out all the time for timing. I have no idea how long your raw material was vs. the imposed running time of 60 minutes. Did you give the editor guidelines on which scenes could be cut for timing and which scenes have to remain in the film? If you left it completely up to the editor, then you cannot be upset with what was removed. Getting a film to an exact running time is impossible without guidelines from the Producer as to what must stay and what can be cut.
As for the “Action” I don’t think the editor did a sound pass on the film. I would not submit anything to a festival like Sundance without a professional sound designer doing a clean pass on the film first. Basically all he does is smooth all the levels and clean up any extraneous audio. That allows us to submit to film festivals and then he goes in and does the full sound mix which on a one hour film I would expect anywhere from 2 to 10 days depending on whether he’s supplying any original music and if we’re going 5.1 or stereo mix. Barring that, our editors would spend two days on a 60 minute film just smoothing out all the levels so nothing is jarring or extraneous.
Producer: So, I have to import the film into my own FCP program, crudely cut out the “Action”, and submit the half-assed film to Sundance with a production note as to why the other errors were not corrected. And then I had to find another editor to fix the mistakes he made, thereby costing me even more money. Up until this point, I had been paying him on a delayed schedule since I was independently financing the project. Every two weeks, I’d pay him for one week’s work.
Me: Again, you’re planning to submit to Sundance and you hired a college student to do the work. And it sounds like you did not review the film at all during the editing process. And you had a ridiculously tight turnaround time to complete the film. Perfect storm.
Indie film producers never budget enough money or time for Post Production. So they hire the cheapest person they can find and they have all sorts of issues in the edit that they can’t seem to explain. This cycle runs like a broken record here in Atlanta yet the Producers don’t learn. Post Production generally costs at least 1/3 more than Production. More if you’re shooting on the cheap. My independent film (20 minutes) cost $3500 to shoot and if I had to pay for the Post Production that would have been over $20,000. But since it was my own film, I didn’t have to pay for the Post or the facility. We spent 6 weeks cutting and preparing that 20 minute scripted film. The first three weeks finessing, the second three weeks in sound mix and color enhancement.
On the plus side you were actually paying the editor so that’s a good thing. Indie Producers are notorious for not paying at all. I would have demanded, and all editors I work with would have demanded 50% of the budget up front and you would not have received the final cut until the balance of payment was received.
Producer: He didn’t meet either of the requirements I set for him AND gave me a “finished” project that I couldn’t use. I’ve already paid him for 6 out of the 8 weeks, in the good faith that he’d finish the project per my requirements and continued to send payment after he failed to do so. I know it sucks for him because he really worked all day and night the last week, but this is a business and his actions caused me to lose money. And honestly, better prioritizing on his part would have prevented this entire situation (he spent days color-correcting while raw footage was waiting idly by to be cut into coherent scenes). As an editor, what would you expect from your client if this had happened to you. What do you think would be the fair thing for me to do?
Me: This is a business for you. It’s a learning experience for him. He’s a college student, he’s not a professional editor. You made the decision to hire him I’m guessing because he was ridiculously cheap. Therefore you owe him the payment.
Our one hour documentary took 6 days to color correct with a 30 year Colorist doing the work with professionally calibrated equipment in a professional color suite. So that fact that he took days is not surprising in the least. I would expect a non-colorist to take at least 2 weeks to color correct a one hour film. Did you tell him not to color correct any of the scenes until the film was completed? In fact, why were you color correcting the film at all when you had such a tight turnaround? That’s another mistake and something that you as a Producer needed to clarify with the editor.
As a professional editor you would not have had anything to submit to Sundance without giving me the final payment so the fact that you even had something to submit is remarkable. As a professional editor, I would have prioritized the edit to complete the story first and finish second. But in college you’re all about impressing people with your knowledge of software and effects, so playing with graphics, color enhancement and the like are what it’s all about in college. So I’m not surprised he wanted to play with looks on the film instead of finishing it first.
All in all, you chose the wrong person when you decided to hire someone in college to do a highly professional job. As the Producer it is your responsibility to hire the right people to complete each task of the project. It sounds to me like you did not budget near enough money for Post Production or you would have hired a good professional editor or Post facility. This happens all the time here and what usually happens is a facility like mine has to come behind and clean up the mess.
Sorry to be so blunt, but you made a very poor choice to choose such an unqualified person to cut a project for such high profile expectations.
I honestly have no idea if this Producer really was expecting sympathy from me or what, but when you make a poor business decision and then try to lay the blame on an unqualified person, that just really gets to me. There are thousands of incredibly talented artists in colleges and universities across the country, I’ve met a lot of them myself. They do insanely creative work and soon will take over our entire industry.
But it’s not fair to lay down unrealistic expectations on someone who is still learning the craft and then expect them to turn out a film worthy of one of the most famous film festivals in the world. So if the film gets rejected, whose going to be to blame? The Producer / Writer for the story or the Editor because they got in over their head? The Producer made an incredibly bad choice on whom to have cut the film. Ultimately success or rejection will ride on all the choices the Producer and Director made during the course of the production.
I’m seeing this all over the various forums, blogs and twitter feeds in one variant or another in regards to the big Final Cut Pro X reveal at the FCPUG SuperMeet in Las Vegas last Tuesday.
“Hey, don’t knock down this product when it was just a SNEAK PEEK people! Sure there’s some questions out there but we should all be happy that Apple has at least shown us something. You know they’re normally super secret so the fact that actually showed Final Cut Pro X is a big change in the company. I’m excited about these new changes! Now we have to wait till June to see what features are still in the application before we start to complain.”
Apple had two freakin’ hours of stage time available and they wasted it on just one hour of a super slick presentation.
Of course we’re going to knock the presentation because all it did was leave us with many more questions than answers.
How long would it have taken to mention planned support for third party filters? 30 seconds?
Third party capture cards? 60 seconds?
Log and Capture / Edit to Tape support? (are they still there?) 20 seconds?
Customizable interface to replicate a more traditional editing style? 2 minutes?
Continued support of OMF, XML, EDL, AAF import / export? 30-60 seconds?
Text Tool? 2 minutes?
Track management? (as in allowing us to specify audio tracks for elements for ease of sending to ProTools and other sound editors) 1 minute?
The other ProApps? (as in are they being updated, retained and if so, expected releases?) 2 minutes?
In other words, MANY of the unanswered questions that all of us are asking could have been answered in that additional hour with plenty of time to spare.
Even if they didn’t want to show one of their patented slick slides or video demo, they could have at least told us about the various professional features that many of us use every day. But apparently those questions I’ve asked up above are somehow trade secrets that simply cannot be revealed because what if (gasp) one of the competitors (Avid, Adobe, Quantel, Autodesk, Vegas) finds out that Apple intends to retain standard pro features?
I’m sick and tired of sneak peeks and teases quite honestly. Put the product out there where we can truly test it out and ask questions like the Adobe, Avid, Autodesk, Quantel and all the other demonstrations that were out on the show floor. Put it in the hands of 1,000 beta testers in all sorts of production situations to get real world feedback instead of relying on a couple of post houses and maybe 10 beta testers. I spoke one on one with the CEO of Avid about the product and the future of the product. That was a useful conversation with frank questions and answers.
“I cannot speak about anything except what you just saw in the presentation”
is the response one of my colleagues got from the Apple ProApps team after the “sneak peek.” In other words, you have questions, I have no answers.
So what was the point in coming at all if you didn’t want to address the Pro Editors’ questions?
For fanboys it was the ultimate Apple dog and pony show last Tuesday.
But in the end, in front of 1700 video editors, on what could have been the night Apple completely re-invented non-linear editing, quite simply, Apple dropped the ball. Next time come prepared to answer very simple, very basic questions from the professionals in the room.
So by now it’s a known fact that the FCPUG Supermeet on April 12 in Las Vegas has been abruptly taken over by Apple
. Yes, it says “special presenter” on the Supermeet Website but it’s a known fact now that it will be Apple showing off the new Final Cut Pro and most likely the entire new Studio suite.
Now we know that Apple has already broken with policy by allowing Larry Jordan to publicly make a few comments about a Final Cut Pro event in Cupertino a few months ago. This was a remarkable change and I definitely took that as a signal that Apple would be making an appearance at NAB. Allowing Larry to speak publicly was certainly a marketing ploy designed to drum up some interest in the product for the show. After all, we’ve been waiting two years to see something, anything, from Apple and of course Larry called the new FCP “jaw dropping.” I expected Apple to do one of its patented Sunday afternoon events so we’d all be talking about Final Cut Pro during the show and be able to pester Adobe and Avid about their responses to what Apple was going to offer. Or perhaps Apple would be the final presentation at the FCPUG SuperMeet. But to suddenly demand essentially a total takeover of the event? Nope, even I didn’t see that one coming.
Regardless of whether you applaud this move or not (I’m in the “or not” category)
let’s take a look at what this means for Apple and Final Cut Pro. In the parlance of Las Vegas, Apple has gone “All In” for this one event.
There is no Apple booth on the show floor. There is no Sunday Apple Marketing event. There is no ANYTHING from Apple
other than a complete takeover of one of the largest paid gatherings of video editors at NAB. In other words, just one shot in front of an audience of the very people who will make or break the product and presentation.
This isn’t an iPhone, iPod, iPad, iAnything launch where the general public ooooohs and aaaaaahs and the latest slick Apple offering. Extensive press coverage of Steve Jobs giving one of his patented presentations including the “there’s one more thing” line dropping that one thing we can’t live without.
No, this is a product launch that directly affects the bottom line of those of us in Post Production make a living.
Apple has been quietly working for two years to supposedly re-invent Final Cut Pro. They’ve now gone all-in to give us one look, one presentation in front of a crowd of post production professionals to make or break that two years of work.
So what does Apple now have to deliver? Quite simply, everything..
Forget the interface which seems to take up so much of the discussion, “will it be iMovie Pro or not?” Who cares? If it’s an intuitive interface and makes the application more efficient that’s fine. If it’s a crappy interface designed more for the iMasses and not a professional video editor, well then…….
I’m looking for the changes under the hood. Just a few of the things I’m looking for:
Media Management: No more files mysteriously going offline that I have to reconnect when I open a project. No more files just going off into the ether.
Offline / Online Workflow: We do documentaries with 200 to 500 hours of raw materials, would be nice not to have bring it all in as ProRes until the very end and do it in a very easy, efficient manner.
Format Integration: Native Format integration of H.264, MXF and others across ALL the applications. Does no good if Final Cut Pro can edit with something you can’t send into Color natively.
Project Settings: All settings remain with the Project, not global to the application. An editor should not have to constantly re-set Format, Capture Scratch, etc… each time they open a project.
TimeCode output: Timecode output via SDI like pretty much every other NLE out there.
On Screen Text Tool: Type and control your text on the Canvas, not in the Viewer.
Full Integration of the Suite: Adobe CS5 is the model, Final Cut Studio has to meet or exceed that level of integration across all apps.
There’s a lot more I could mention, but those are some of the top things I’m looking for and each of these items has to do with efficiency. At the end of the day, that’s what editors are looking for. The most efficient workflow to get my job done so I can spend more time on the creative and less time on the technical.
Right now Adobe quite honestly has the lead on that one.
You know a while back I said this was basically going to be the make or break year for me with Final Cut Pro. Apple has made that decision pretty easy for me now.
Do we see the best Pro Non-Linear Application ever or do we get a watered down, single screen Prosumer level editing tool geared towards the iMasses and not Professional Post Production?
Is Apple so confident they have the best product on the market that it’s worth taking over the entire SuperMeet? Or have they made something that’s really more prosumer targeted that won’t stand up to following demos by Avid / Premiere and will take 2 hours to convince us it’s the best product?
Two years in the making.
Apple’s Biggest Win ever at NAB or one of the most Epic Fails of all time?
Tune in Tuesday, April 12th to find out.
Yep, tweeted this week by Michael Horton. Blackmagic has kicked in a full $29,000 Davinci Resolve as part of the "World Famous Raffle" at the Las Vegas FCPUG SuperMeet. That ALONE is worth attending the supermeet if you're going to be out at NAB 2011. (along with the other items that make up the $81,000 worth of prizes and counting)
By the way, there's also a code on that page to get your free Exhibits Only NAB pass if you still need one.....
Dan Desmet brought our new LM-2460W to the office today, but as I found out, it's actually the first of the new LM-2461W models! Lots of new stuff and upgrades to share. This is one cool monitor! Please bear with the iPhone video and audio quality, it's all we had in the shop today, but I really wanted Dan to tell you some of the super cool features of this monitor.
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