Video editors, filmmakers and consumers of the post-production industry gather at the 12th Annual Supermeet during the week of NAB, the National Association of Broadcasters, to discover the latest in digital post technology. Supermeet took place at its usual location, the Amazon Ballroom, inside the Rio on Tuesday, April 9th, 2012 to roughly a thousand post-fanatic geeks. Hosting Supermeet as usual were Daniel Berube of the Boston branch BOSCPUG and Michael Horton of the Los Angeles branch, LACPUG. All of the post-production groups make up what’s called Creative Pro User Group with CPUGs all over the world.
Before Supermeet, one needs to take advantage of ‘supper meat,’ the appetizers served before the event. Veteran Supermeeters know to get there early. It may not be fast food, but it does go fast.
A last minute surprise addition opened the event with DSLR guru, Vincent Laforet, showing off his new toy, the Movi, a small and light enough device that holds DSLR cameras so they can move effortlessly no matter what obstacles get in its way.
What used to be a main Final Cut Pro soapbox, has become a smorgasbord of NLE systems. Avid showcased its newest features in Media Composer 7 that dropped this week for ONLY $999. Adobe showcased new features in many of its platforms including Premiere Pro, SpeedGrade for color correction and After Effects and its new exciting partnership with Cinema 4-D. And apparently the Coen Brothers plan on editing their next film on Premiere Pro according to Al Mooney, the product manager for Premiere Pro.
Autodesk’s Smoke wowed the tech-heavy crowd. Filmmaker Anthony Brownmoore did a demo on how he used Smoke on his short film, “REP 5091.” Blackmagic Design and Red Giant had demos as well. Strangely enough, there was nothing new to demo for FCP X two years after its announcement and first look at Supermeet in 2010. Maybe they’ll make the cut next year.
In the middle of the event a break from festivities lets the digital gurus roam the sponsors’ booths and network with other digital post geeks.
The second half of the show was dedicated to the status of the VFX industry. Perhaps you’ve seen profiles on FaceBook and Twitter turned green. Since the Academy Awards, an issue has risen to the surface that’s been simmering for many years. The VFX industry has been suffering more drastically in recent years. We have seen the end of famous VFX studios such as Rhythm & Hues and Digital Domain among many other VFX companies that have gone bankrupt. To put this all in focus, Scott Ross, the Co-Founder and CEO of Digital Domain and Academy nominated VFX supervisor, Scott Squires, addressed the audience with the facts.
Imagine big visual effects oriented movies without the actual VFX. Scott Squires asked the crowd what “Life of Pi” would look like? A boy in a boat talking to a tiger hand puppet is not going to cut it. Ross added, “Claudio Miranda won an Oscar for best cinematography.” Basically, the Oscar winner shot a boy in a boat in a pool surrounded by bluescreen. All the truly amazing work that brought life to the FX heavy film was added later.
More movies are relying on visual effects to return the movie studios’ investments at the box office. That’s fine for the movie studios, but what about the artists working their butts off 60, 70, 80 hours a week and not seeing an amount of pay to reflect it?
“Most countries have a cap of 60 hours a week. We typically start at 60 and go up from there,” said Scott Ross. He added, “It’s not unusual to work seven days a week.”
VFX companies have at times built VFX studios in Vancouver, Canada so movie studios got tax rebates. And then you have the VFX artists moving their families only to be out of work when the project’s over. What do they do then? Visual effects cost millions of dollars. And there’s no union whatsoever. VFX companies have been ‘under-bidding’ to compete with other VFX companies. And movie studios will start outsourcing VFX more to places like India for even cheaper labor.
Scott Ross informed the crowd of a meeting to take place in May in Los Angeles with as many of the top VFX companies as he can to discuss the possibilities of a trade association. The industry needs to set regulations and assist the individual VFX artists with better working situations including perhaps points in the films they work on. It was a very serious note and very appropriate to take place at Supermeet. Scott Ross and Scott Squires received a standing ovation from the very empathetic audience.
Supermeet always satisfies editors’ exciting curiosity of what’s next in digital post-production and the knowledge of where the industry stands. Things happen and change so often now in this business that one needs to stay informed to survive. If that’s not enough there’s always the giant raffle of amazing prizes at the end of the evening. Grown men with busting guts shout at the top of their lungs, run the entire length of the ballroom when their ticket is called after winning something cool. Supermeet brings out the child in all of us.
Additional Article on Visual Effects at Supermeet.
September 30, 2011 – The Joint @ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
The Neon Trees – celebrated an incredible breakout year with their debut album, ‘Habits,’ the flashy Utah-based pop band played through a fun, upbeat set. Wearing a red glitter-covered jacket and a Mohawk, singer Tyler Glen lead the crowd both young and old into rock themes of nostalgia. He spoke about making mixed tapes, mentioned Duran Duran and launched into songs, “1983,” “Sins of My Youth” and their first single, “Animal” which skyrocketed to platinum on Billboard’s Hot 100 in just weeks. The band has had an amazing year, performing at the KROQ Weenie Roast, SXSW and Coachella.
Elaine Bradley pounded the drums, giving an edge to the pop band. Chris Allen, guitar, and Branden Campbell, bass, complete the band’s sacred harmony. A few songs into their set, frontman Tyler Glen said he’ll now ‘Take you to church.’ He’s known for mentioning how ‘music is a sacred act of communion’ for himself and the ‘heart of the band.’
From the nostalgic past, we now take you to the ‘now’ as in ‘All You Need is Now,’ Duran Duran’s 13th studio album, released digitally on December 21, 2010. ‘Now’ sports new songs and lead singer Simon Le Bon sported a new beard. Producer Mark Ronson, an avid Duran Duran fan, revitalized the band’s ‘hunger.’ Drummer Roger Taylor remarked in a press release on the band’s website that Ronson told them to ‘go back and reclaim’ their original sound.
Those screaming female Diehard Duran Duran fans older now still roared as the band entered the stage. They launched into a set of songs old and new. Highlights include: “Planet Earth,” “Rio,” “Come Undone” with back-up singer Anna Ross and “The Wild Boys” as the band mashed the song into Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Relax (Don’t Do it).”
Images and videos screened on the back wall such as silhouettes of Bond girls to “A View To a Kill.” Other special effects appeared on four giant faces above the stage. Matrix-like effects accompanied new song “Blame The Machines.”
Bassist John Taylor, an avid tweeter, encouraged the crowd to tweet, using #duranlive when Simon Le Bon took a break. After thirty years or so, Duran Duran is still a viable and exciting band.
To boldy go where this fan had not gone before…a Star Trek Convention at the Rio! I grew up with reruns of the original TV series. Thanks Dad! I’ve always wanted to check out the convention, but never attended. I guess I was not a true ‘Trekkie.’ Avid Trek fans would agree. I don’t follow any blogs or sites online or was I a part of any newsletter or mailing list. (I am now!) I never even went to the Star Trek Experience when I had family living in Vegas. Well, now that I live in Las Vegas, I had no excuse. After all, it was a ‘short trek.’ It was nostalgic as I was accompanied by my father. We only attended Thursday, August 11th’s events. My Dad was geeked out by lunch-time. Unfortunately, most of the panels weren’t until that afternoon. We had walked around the room full of vendors. Honestly, I thought the room would have been bigger knowing the fan-dome of Trekkie fans. I did hear that the space was bigger then the Hilton which had hosted the event for a number of years. While checking out the vendors, I noticed a small crowd forming around a man brandishing sunglasses and a white shirt and white hat. The man in the white hat was directing a small documentary film crew and interviewing Star Trek fans. This filmmaker used to hold the captain’s chair on-board the U.S.S. Enterprise. That’s right! Captain James T. Kirk AKA William Shatner. What a surprise! I didn’t think I’d get a chance to see him as he was scheduled for the stage on another day and I only bought a regular convention ticket. So, this was a treat! After all these decades and many years to not only see William Shatner, but to hear him speak and give direction to his crew members felt like ‘warp speed.’ Exhilarating!
That afternoon, in one of the theaters at the Rio, the DeForest Kelley Theater as the banner says, I attended a special presentation by Larry Nemecek, a Star Trek historian. The presentation was preceded by a short music video celebrating the work of Leonard Nimoy, also known as ‘Spock.’ Nemecek beamed back to the early days of Star Trek history and how “Star Trek” made a come back in the movies and with the spin-off series; “The Next Generation,” “Deep Space Nine,” “Voyager” and “Enterprise.”
Writer David Gerrold lead a discussion about the original Star Trek series which he was a part of. A few years after the original series went off the air, in 1973, an animated series was produced using a handful of the original actors to do the voices. Gerrold wrote this animated episode, “More Tribbles, More Troubles.” I very much enjoyed the animated show. It brought back a lot of memories as I recall seeing some of those episodes. I would have been three-years old at that time, but remember seeing reruns later on. Fun stuff!
After two back-to-back presentations in a row, I decided to stretch my legs and wonder the vendors’ booths once more. Yelp had a booth with a local photography company so I got this picture above taken of me. It’s the only photo I feel comfortable sharing. The Star Trek Convention displays signs saying that all photography of the convention is for personal use only. I had taken some photos of Mr. Shatner, but I won’t be displaying them here. I’ve seen other fans already uploading pics to FaceBook. What are they going to do, take them to see the Federation?
Some of the “Star Trek” celebrities were now signing autographs and posing for photos. Olivia d’Abo was there. She looked gorgeous as always. She had bumped into me at a Coffee Bean in Los Angeles a few years ago. Yeah, it’s hard to forget that.
Being a fan of both series of “Battlestar Galactica,” I was excited to see Richard Hatch. The new series will be with me for a long frackin’ time.
The 6PM panel was all about girl geek power. The discussion centered around how women roles have gotten stronger and the audience has gotten wider. The panel touched a little bit on how social media and blogging has strengthened Star Trek’s audience appeal.
I enjoyed the one day I attended the convention. I would definitely consider attending again next year wherever the convention boldly goes.
Leonard Nimoy attended the event later in the weekend. He’s only attending a few more conventions before retiring.
May Leonard, Spock and you “Live long and prosper.”