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October 12, 2012

Remembering Steve Sabol

One of the jobs I had in “a past life” was doing some technology work and training for NFL Films. I recently saw an article on the passing of Steve Sabol, and needed to take a moment and pause, reflect, and celebrate the life of a man I knew briefly in my career, but who left a lasting impact on me. I doubt he would’ve remembered me, but I definitely remembered him.

If you are a fan of the “mutant rugby” that Americans call Football, you need to thank Steve. The impact he had on promoting this game was unprecedented. He and his organization brought the drama, the conflict of Football, to television in a way that hadn’t been seen before. Some of the best camera operators worked at NFL Films, and week-after-week, they’d shoot plays at crazy frame rates – over 120fps – just to bring those creamy slow-motion shots you’re used to seeing. I still crave owning a high-frame-rate camera because of what I grew up watching from Steve.

Steve introduced the concept of metadata to me. Back in the 90’s, NFL Films was sitting on a HUGE library of film, dating back to something like 1947. He called for the creation of a computerized system to catalog, tag, and digitize this library, and his team created a custom system called SABRE. Using SABRE, an editor could search for all the clips of Green Bay Packers linebackers with cold breath at an away game, and SABRE would deliver a list of clips, with low-res proxie files ready to view. All the asset-management systems of today? Steve’s team had them beat back in 1999. I remember asking one of the production staff about my brother-in-law, who played for the Raiders, and within 5 minutes, he handed me a tape with all his highlights cut together.

Steve was also thinking about the future of broadcasting – the division I worked with was NFL Films Online – a team of people hired to create the next generation of NFL Films. A lot of those early attempts involved extending shows that were broadcast on ESPN or the big 4 networks. We would take a show brand, like Edge NFL Matchup on ESPN, and create original online content. Many of the traditional shows were limited to 24 minutes of on-air time, and couldn’t cover all the games, so our job was to bring the hosts in, let them talk about the games the same way they did on-air, and produce extended content that fans could watch on the web site. And, we had to do it at 1/25 the cost of the on-air version. I have memories of training the production staff how to use a virtual set system we set up in an old film storage room.  One of their virtual set designers was a 16 year old kid who impressed Steve enough to get a job.

One of the last projects I remember working on was a virtual set demo for an NFL Owner’s meeting in Baltimore. I had to tech-direct the demo, showing live internet streaming (with Steve holding a clock as “proof”!) from another part of the building. Steve was presenting his vision for “building the Brand online” and it worked – he convinced the owners to fund the project.

Steve was a class act, and what you saw in all those on-camera intros was what you got off-camera. He was a genuine, personable guy with a vision of what he wanted.

 

November 27, 2009

Movie Gift Ideas?

I normally try to keep this blog focused on Adobe tools and techniques, but seeing it’s a holiday weekend, I’m deviating to talk about something cool that may give you a gift idea for the movie fanatic in your household.

If you haven’t guessed, I’m one of those fanatics. I love owning movies. I have about 500 movies on DVD, and about 65 on Blu-Ray, and that number grows monthly. I love the feeling of physically owning a copy of a movie, and even though Netflix and on-demand has made me more picky about my purchases, I still love buying movies.

There are hundreds of movie titles out there that never see a home video release. In many cases, these films were not successful at the box office, are too old, or just not recognized as ‘significant’ films, and thus will not be profitable enough to garner a widespread release on DVD.

In the past year, I’ve noticed a couple of sites that make it easier to see these types of movies. The first is the Warner Brothers’ Archive, which features a burn-on-demand way of owning some of these lost gems of movies. I’ve purchased a couple of discs from the archives, and the quality is better than my VHS copies. I wouldn’t call them “reference” quality – in many cases, the prints have some dirt and/or scratches. And, there’s very little in the way of extras. The menus are also generic “Warner Archive” menus. But this is still a wonderful way of getting a movie that’s unavailable for any reasonable price otherwise.

Universal is also jumping on the Archive bandwagon by teaming up with Turner Classic Movies. Lately, they’ve been focused on their “horror collection,” including some of the really obscure titles like “The Mad Ghoul.” It’s cool seeing some of the lesser-known Universal monsters see the light of day.

For an online experience, check out the Criterion Online Cinematheque. For US$5, you can watch a movie on their web site, and if you want to own it, the $5 goes towards owning the disc! Since Criterion has such a wide array of movies from many different eras and genres, there’s bound to be something worth checking out.

I hope everyone has a nice Thanksgiving weekend, and stay safe on Black Friday!

November 20, 2009

Changes

I’m pretty excited about my new role here at Adobe! Last week, I moved into a new role as Technical Evangelist, Dynamic Media.

I’m already hard at work talking with people in the broadcasting world, helping people as they add or transition to the Adobe video production workflows. Adobe has seen some amazing gains in the broadcasting space, including relationships with the BBC, CNN, Hearst-Argyle, and more. I’m hoping to help grow that area in the future.

I’ll still be creating more episodes of AdobeTV shows, and I’m still active on Twitter (KarlSoule) for anyone needing to get a hold of me quickly.

March 9, 2009

MAX 2009 Planning – Make your voice heard!

At last year’s MAX, I had a wonderful time teaching video labs to people outside of the video world, showing them the basics of the video tools, and how to encode for the web. The session was so popular, we added a 4th lab day just to accommodate everyone.

MAX 2009 is in full planning mode right now, and there’s an open call for sessions over here. If you have an idea for a session or a lab at this year’s MAX, submit it now.

Right now, the number of technical session ideas far outweigh the number of creative sessions. If you are a creative professional, and would like to see more sessions at MAX that appeal to you, the time to act is RIGHT NOW. Ideas for sessions can only be submitted until April 15th. If you’d like to see more about the video tools, and how they relate to creating web content, now is the time to request it. Any creative session ideas would be appreciated. I’d love to see MAX stay as a place where the coders and the creatives can come together and mingle. :)

Post a Session or Session idea
Post a Lab or Lab idea

February 7, 2009

8 random facts about me…

Welcome to one of those blog posts where you get to hear a little bit of non-work related info about me. I hope to dazzle you with facts that very few are aware of in the halls of Adobe. Here we go:

1. I am an authentic hippie lovechild. Mom met my father working at a book store at 1800 Haight Street in 1969. I spent the first few years of my life at various communes in Northern California and Oregon before Mom settled down in the Sacramento region. In fact, my birth name (changed when I was 3) was Rashied Karl Delaney. Go figure.

2. My music tastes are all over the board, shifting from techno/ambient/trance to folk music in the blink of an eye. I grew up listening to a lot of 60’s/70’s classic rock, but when I hit my late teens, I had a huge penchant for punk that kicked in – Pistols, Dead Kennedys, Ramones, Black Flag. I really loved the musicianship of the early Police mixed with some punk energy – songs like “Next to You” and “Dead-End Job” are all-time favorites. Right now, I’m listening to a lot of Nickel Creek and Kings of Leon, with some Bowie thrown into the mix for good measure.

3. I would never consider myself a musician, although I try. I bought my first bass guitar when I was 17. This past year, I bought a mandolin, and, while still very much a beginner, I’m seeing progress made. I used to keep the mando handy during rendering of clips, but sadly, with CS4, I’m doing a whole lot less rendering. :)

4. I still love traveling, even after all these years on the road. Getting to travel internationally for Adobe fulfills one of my life-long goals of seeing the world. Seeing new places is always a thrill – I’ll be in Eastern Europe and Moscow in the next few months – but I’m always looking forward to returning to places I’ve been before.

5. I’m attempting to learn Mandarin Chinese. Wo bu shuo hao Hanyu.

6. The biggest creative weakness I’d love to overcome is the ability to draw. My skills of an artist are woefully lacking, and it hampers my creativity sometimes.

7. I am super-sensitive to caffeine. I’m not sure why, but coffee, tea, even cola can have a profound effect on me, more than the average person. however, this sensitivity doesn’t last long, and I very quickly can get into a multi-espresso-per-day habit. At least once a year, I take an extended break from the caffeine just to get back to baseline.

8. I have 2 webbed toes on my left foot. Yes, I can swim like Patrick Duffy.

February 5, 2009

Nice Premiere Pro article on PDN Gear Guide.

Go check it out.

February 4, 2009

On Christian Bale, and behaving on a hot set…

Over the last 10 years, I’ve had the privilege of being on a couple of Hollywood sets. While my career has kept me (for the most part) away from big-budget Hollywood, I have a respect for the way things are done down there. A lot of lower-end productions still utilize the Hollywood method because it’s tried and true.

Right now, there’s an audio clip floating around that features a very-upset Christian Bale screaming out a young Director of Photography. The clip makes Bale sound like he’s a monster, and coupled with other news stories, it’s painting a picture of him being out of control. That’s not how to interpret that clip.

The world of high-end production is a very high-strung one. There’s a production schedule to keep, scenes have to be completed, sets struck, new sets built; it’s a pressure-cooker of an environment for everyone involved because there’s just not enough hours in the day to get things done. Every job is segmented and broken down into smaller jobs so that everything can go just right. Actors are the center of it all, and if they are trying to portray an emotionally filled scene accurately, many of them feel the actual emotions of the scene.

From what I just read, the scene being shot just prior to Bale’s tirade was just such a scene, and the tirade came after the DP decided to fiddle with lights during the take. Not once, but TWICE. We aren’t hearing the polite, “Don’t do that anymore.” We are hearing an actor, having been polite before, saying enough is enough. Is it pretty? No, but I’ve heard plenty worse. If anything, the DP should’ve gone and hid instead of continuing to confront Bale – it sounds like the DP was in the wrong here.

I’m curious – how many of you have ever seen or heard a director, actor, or producer just lose it over a mistake? I can probably name about 5 times in my pro career where I’ve seen it happen, and not one of them was undeserved, considering the circumstances. Luckily, only one of them was ever directed at me. :)

September 28, 2008

What about Ultra?

Production Premium CS3 and Master Collection CS3 for Windows included a program called Ultra CS3, which is used for keying and virtual sets. In fact, Ultra existed as a separate program for many years, made by a small company called Serious Magic. Adobe acquired Serious Magic in 2006.

So, with the announcement of CS4 last week, people have been emailing me, wondering what’s going on with Ultra for CS4. Here’s the scoop:

(more…)

July 22, 2008

The Man Behind the Curtain

For those of you who have watched our AdobeTV show, “Short & Suite,” I want to introduce you to the person responsible for the majority of the work on the Johnny Encore videos – Kush Amerisinghe. You can see Kush in his own show, called “Ask the Adobe Ones.”

Kush is a powerhouse of creativity, designing the “look” of the majority of the Johnny Encore videos. He does previsuals, directs the camera, edits, creates finished 2D and 3D graphics, and composites all the elements together.I just wanted to take a moment to give him the props he deserves!

Kush.jpg

Thanks, Kush!

January 21, 2008

Welcome!

I’m a Creative Suite Evangelist, with a heavy leaning towards the video and audio products. I actually got my start in the production world at a radio station here in Northern California. I was responsible for producing commercials and comedy segments for an afternoon sports talk show. When I started, I had a 2-track Otari reel-to-reel machine, a razor blade, and a whole lotta splicing tape. :p My first video jobs didn’t even involve a computer – just 3 VTR’s, doing A/B Roll editing.

Now, here I am, almost 20 years later, traveling the globe, showing the latest magic from Adobe in the video world! This blog will share some tips and tricks I’ve picked up for Production Premium, and will also chronicle my stays around the world. Next stop – Video Forum UK next week! I’ll be showing the new P2 workflow in Production Premium, as well as many other exciting things. Be sure to say hi.

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