So last week I went into some detail about the gear I got to see and play with at National Association of Broadcasters Convention last month in Las Vegas - if you missed that post, check it out here.
The other thing that's really fantastic about NAB is the knowledge you can pick up. Like last year, I participated in Post|Production World (P|PW) this year too and the sessions were just as interesting - and then there's "all badge" access sessions like the Star Wars talk where they went into detail about the character design of those crystal fox things from The Last Jedi (I'm guessing they talked about some more than that, but I came in late - if someone can remember what those cool creatures are called, let me know in the comments below).
Of course the tough question - where to start? Last week I told you I'd go into some detail on DaVinci Resolve 15 - so lets start there:
So DaVinci is Blackmagic's awesome color correction tool, that became pretty much industry standard for Color Grading. And then it became an edit system, that then included Fairlight audio mixing, and now we have Fusion. Basically, with DaVinci resolve 15, Blackmagic has turned DaVinci into a full edit suite, with one piece of software that you can buy for $299.
I'm not going to go into the operational details of DaVinci 15, I used 14 to color grade the Black Coffee trailer and went into some detail in my post about it - you can read more here. The thing that's really impressive about 15 is that Blackmagic keeps adding new features and extends the reach of this software without changing the price point. This year, with 15 they've added Fusion to it.
Let me back up - what is Fusion? This is from Blackmagic's website:
"Fusion is the world’s most advanced compositing software for visual effects artists, broadcast and motion graphic designers, and 3D animators. Over the last 30 years, Fusion has been used on thousands of Hollywood blockbuster movies and television shows. Fusion features a powerful node based interface that lets you quickly and easily create sophisticated effects by connecting different types of image processing tools together! You get a massive range of tools, incredible VR and 3D support, GPU accelerated performance, unlimited network rendering and more! Fusion gives you everything you need to create exciting broadcast graphics, dramatic titles, and even major feature film visual effects!"
And its included in DaVinci Resolve 15 or available for standalone download. Which means, just like DaVinci Resolve, you can now use parts of Fusion for Free, or buy it standalone for $299. Its just crazy.
Much like Resolve, Fusion is node based - a workflow I'm liking more and more every time I play with it. I sat in on a class as part of P|PW that showed us a walk-through of Fusion's keying capabilities - its pretty impressive. Its got a tool built in called "clean-plate" that will extend the screen behind your talent, and pull a cleaner key. And apparently if you shoot a real clean plate of your screen, the system works even better.
Of course I'm just dying to try it out on some of the footage from The Getaway shortfilm that I haven't started editing yet:
Moving on - there's so much else that I learned in P|PW - some that stand out where the session on Social Media for Indie productions, as well as one that went into detail on best practices for scripting non-fiction. (That one was of particular interest to me considering the Ghost project).
I took a session that talked about building demo reels (something that is way up on the to-do list, but I never get around to), some of the things that stood out to me in that session was that there are some things that have to be said when teaching stuff like that, that would seem obvious - the first questions you should ask yourself when making a reel:
Are you proud of the work you've done?
Do you have enough short clips to fill at least 60 seconds?
To me that would seem obvious, but then when you think about it - how many "bad" demo reels have you seen out there?
And then, there was the session exploring the opportunities for "choose your own adventure" type experiences using contemporary media. This one was just fascinating, and went into a lot of theory, with some case studies.
And that right there is the issue with trying to write about P|PW - most of the classes are theory based, which is great - it really is. But you come away with a more abstract knowledge rather than something where you can go to someone and say "I learned X today!" Its more "I learned about X and we saw how other people are making it work and what isn't working" It gives you the knowledge of how to apply what you've learned to your own projects. Like how I learned what fusion was capable of and immediately tried to figure out how I could apply it to The Getaway - or thinking about how the social media information I picked up could be applied to Women's Work at TPC, or the untitled "Ghost Hunt" project I've been working on.
Of course there were also some more technical sessions - "HDR Video Essentials" was an awesome amount of information to try and digest, even though I already had a base knowledge about some of it. Its a lot to wrap your head around.
In short, I can't stress how useful the classes are for Post|Production World if you get the chance to take them. The sessions are taught/lead by working industry professionals who deal with this stuff every day, rather than teachers or instructors working from theoretical examples and lesson plans and as such, in my experience they get to the information that you need faster and more efficiently. Its like you've barely caught your breath from running there from the show floor and you've got to be ready to take notes because they're getting right to the good stuff as soon as their time starts.
Anyway, I think that's going to wrap it up for this week. If there's something I mentioned in this post that you'd like me to go into more detail on, let me know in the comments below!
Next week, I'm going to give you all a behind-the-scenes walkthrough of the Beauty and the Beast teaser trailer I made for CCCT (link below)
Until then - thank you for reading, I hope you found it interesting.
Please be sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram: @tomameek
Thomas Meek is an independent filmmaker living and working in Houston, TX