Dale Grahn shares his experience on color timing his first film, Predator (1987.)
Dale Grahn’s resume as a color timer is impressive. He’s worked extensively with Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola. He must have one of the longest list of films under one name in the IMDB database! Dale talks about the craft of color timing feature films. We get the inside scoop on how he helped develop the bleach bypass look of Saving Private Ryan. Dale is the grand master of color for feature films and broadcast television series. He’s the guy, as Chris Fenwick says, you want to watch over their shoulder as they perform their craft. Dale talks about his new iPad app that helps you learn the basics of color grading. The app has several video tutorials with Dale Grahn explaining how to produce different looks. Then you get the opportunity to try to match what he does. The game-like approach is a great teaching aid.
Dale was very gracious to talk with us and also very patient. We had the worst Skype related technical issues ever in the history recording the DCP! Yikes! Thanks to Chris’ editing prowess we lobotomized the gremlins.
CARL 00:12 Today is Wednesday, February 6, 2013. We would like to welcome you to another edition of The Digital Convergence Podcast, the number one talk show about photography, video, and post-production. This is Episode Number 109, “Color My World.” The Digital Convergence Podcast is sponsored by the following: CrumplePop, [sound effect] film and broadcast effects for Final Cut Pro.
MITCH 01:31 Yay.
CARL 01:32 It’s pretty cool. I think we’ve come of age. People want to sponsor our podcast and we’re very grateful.
MITCH 01:39 Ah, it’s so nice to be rich.
CARL 01:40 Yeah, right. We define wealth in terms of time and the experiences that we have.
MITCH 01:49 That’s right.
CARL 01:51 Because the dollars sure aren’t coming in. Alright, my name is Carl Olson, I’m with Digital Film TV, and I’m here with my cohorts and colleagues, Mr. Chris Fenwick of Slice Editorial and chrisfenwick.com.
CHRIS 02:02 In the morning to you.
CARL 02:05 Hailing from the west coast. Then the home of the Golden Gateway, is it called the Golden Gateway?
MITCH 02:12 No, Gateway to the West.
CARL 02:13 Gateway to the West. I keep thinking of McDonald’s.
CHRIS 02:16 I’m the guy with the Golden Gate. [laughter]
MITCH 02:20 We’ve only got one arch, not two.
CARL 02:23 They ran out of money. Planet Mitch of planet5D.com.
MITCH 02:28 And soon to be a new football stadium, but that’s a whole other story.
CARL 02:31 Then I have one more guest. Now, I Tweeted a question this morning. I said, “What do the films Gladiator, Saving Private Ryan, The Lion King, Die Hard, and The Legend of Bagger Vance all have in common?”
CHRIS 02:47 Dale Grahn.
CARL 02:48 Dale Grahn.
MITCH 02:50 Yeah.
CARL 02:51 Dale, welcome aboard.
DALE 02:53 Hello.
CARL 02:55 We’re glad to have you here. I hope you haven’t started regretting being with us.
CHRIS 03:00 He’s having second thoughts.
DALE 03:02 No, not yet.
CARL 03:04 Seriously, we’re glad to have you here. Dale is going to be talking a lot about color today. Chris and I, earlier, we were looking at the IMDB database
CHRIS 03:17 It’s really a shame you haven’t done more work, Dale.
DALE 03:20 Well, you know, I’m a little lazy.
CARL 03:23 Oh, my word!
CHRIS 03:24 The who’s who of, actually, some of my favorite movies.
CARL 03:27 Like what?
CHRIS 03:39 I think one of my favorite movies, but worse DVDs because they made it wrong, was The American President. But then there’s other ones like A.I., which are so rich visually and Minority Report, which has such a broad spectrum of looks and acts and scenes to it. They are really gorgeous, gorgeous movies.
DALE 03:52 Thank you.
CHRIS 03:55 Then Apocalypse Now, good night!
MITCH 03:59 Hannibal? Miss Congeniality? There’s so many names on this list.
CARL 04:04 Oh, I missed that one. Miss Congeniality? Wow. Sandra Bullock. Coming up in this episode, after the news from Mr. Planet Mitch in just a minute, like I mentioned we’re going to talk about color. What can we learn from the founding fathers of color grading and color timing in today’s digital world? Then we’ll have some product picks. We’ve got some great, short movies we want to talk about today, if time permits, and much, much more.
MITCH 04:36 First, his mouth shut.
CARL 04:44 Everybody know what time it is?
CHRIS 04:47 It’s time for a sound effect.
MITCH 04:48 It’s news time.
CARL 04:49 Yeah, it’s news time.
MITCH 04:51 Time for sound effects? [laughter]
CARL 04:53 From the planet5D news room, what is happening in the world of video and photographer, Mr. Mitch?
MITCH 04:58 I think I have my giggle box on today. That’s bad. One of my sponsors over at planet5D, whom I don’t think I’ve talked about very much, is the good folks at LockCircle. They have announced a new set of…and it’s really sort of hard to describe. They’re not new lenses, they’re old lenses from Zeiss, but they’ve got a package where you can take Zeiss photography lenses, the ZF.2 line, and they mod them. They’ve got one set of mods now for Canon EF mounts. They’ve just announced this new set of mods for Nikon F-Mounts. If you have Zeiss photography lenses, and maybe many of our listeners do, you can now mount those as CineStyle lenses to make movies on your Nikon. Which I think is pretty cool.
CARL 06:01 How much is it?
MITCH 06:03 They didn’t give me a price, they just announced them and they should be available in three or four weeks. They haven’t even updated their website yet, so I don’t have any pricing on that. Basically, you send them your Zeiss ZF.2 lens and they de-click them, they put on some fancy, new focus ring kind of things, they put some new markings on them, and they put a new mount. So, it’s not even an adapter, they actually change the mount on the back of the lens so that it fits your Nikon. That’s pretty cool stuff.
CARL 06:43 You said Nikon, would it also do Canon? Did you mention Canon?
MITCH 06:46 They had previously released a Canon EF mount, same product. But now they’re doing Nikons.
CARL 06:51 Oh, okay. Very nice.
MITCH 06:53 They’ve got all sorts of products over there if you want to check them out over at Lockcircle.com.
CHRIS 06:58 Somehow the phrase, “void your warranty” comes to mind. [laughter]
MITCH 07:03 Actually, I don’t think they do, because last year at NAB, Lockcircle was actually in the Zeiss booth. I believe they’ve got sort of an arrangement going on there. I don’t know the details, but if it was a fly-by-night thing, you would not…
CHRIS 07:18 I’m not saying it voids your warranty, I’m just saying that phrase comes to mind.
MITCH 07:23 Are you guys hearing that crackle and static?
CARL 07:25 Yeah, I don’t know where that’s coming from.
CHRIS 07:27 Am I crackling?
MITCH 07:29 That’s a whole other story. Also, I’m hearing that GH3 from Panasonic is finally showing up in many stores at this point. They’ve been very hard to find, I hope that’s coming of news. I thought this was interesting, we were talking about 4K cameras a couple of weeks ago, and how we don’t know where…consumers won’t be using them.
I found this article over on NoFilm School that actually appeared during the Super Bowl, where CBS was using 4K cameras on many spots of the field, clearly to be able to zoom in on situations like if there was a close call or somebody fumbled. They would take the 4K footage and be able to zoom in and of course, down-res it to 1080 or 720 or whatever they’re broadcasting. But I thought I’d mention that, purely for the fact that it’s one more way of using 4K, and still only putting out what we’re traditionally using as HD.
CHRIS 08:41 That’s amazing that they can do that in a live situation, interesting.
MITCH 08:48 Somebody steps on the sidelines…and they’ve always had kind of fuzzy views, and everybody kind of guessed whether they stepped on the line. Well, if you can zoom in on 4K footage, theoretically you’ll have more resolution and be able to know better.
CARL 09:04 That’s a technique, and I’ve mentioned it before on the show, that I shoot with a Canon 5D and I’m using, a lot of times, just one camera and it’s a talking head. I can do jump cuts and things like that, where I move in closer or back without having to do multiple takes. Because everything I do is at 720p for the Reets.TV product that I do.
CHRIS 09:32 Yeah, we do that all the time, too. We shoot at 1080 and post at 720 so we can reframe.
CARL 09:38 That static sounds like it’s on your side, Chris.
CHRIS 09:41 Really?
CARL 09:43 Yeah, every time you talk.
MITCH 09:45 It wasn’t there in pre-show, so I’m wondering where it came from.
CHRIS 09:48 I’ll be back. You guys keep talking, I’m listening.
CARL 09:53 Alright. What else do you have for us today, Mr. Planet Mitch?
MITCH 09:57 You’re going to have to remind me, did I talk about the SmartLav from Rode last week?
CARL 10:02 You did a little bit, because you had been out at…
MITCH 10:06 I know when we had…
CARL 10:08 …Los Angeles.
MITCH 10:09 …at the show last week, the website was not available. They hadn’t really actually announced the SmartLav yet. Just to let you know that SmartLav.com is the place you can go to find out about that $60 LavMic that plugs right into your iPhone. I’ve been using it on several of my recordings recently, and it’s so simple and easy to use your iPhone to be recording things. I connect with my iPhone to Dropbox, so when I get back to my computer the recordings are there. It’s very simple. If you were curious about it last week, the website’s available now – SmartLav.com.
CARL 10:52 SmartLav.com. Very good. Stu Maschwitz did a blog post on the Rode SmartLav, seems to be a fan.
MITCH 11:03 Yeah, he does.
CHRIS 11:04 I think he might have stirred up a little bit of controversy among some people about this, but I think this is moving in the right direction. The iPhone and the Android devices are just so cool as being tools for film making.
MITCH 11:23 Yep, that’s all I have.
CHRIS 11:24 That was a great news segment, what’s next? [laughter]
CARL 11:30 Wait, wait, wait.
MITCH 11:32 Chris, you got your backup on?
CHRIS 11:34 I recorded all the troubleshooting, are you kidding? I’m going to release this as a special show.
CARL 11:41 Man, that’s blackmail money. I take back all those mean things I said about you, Chris. There is one other news item I wanted to discuss. Did you guys see the new iPad app called Pro Cut X for Final Cut Pro 10?
CHRIS 11:57 I did.
CARL 11:59 What do you think?
CHRIS 12:00 I’m a touch typist so I operate my edit system from my keyboard, and typing or doing something on an iPad where you don’t have the positive reinforcement of the button under your finger, I don’t see that thing as a benefit. Everything it does, I can do from the keyboard anyway. I’m not impressed. It might be neat if you want to lean back and put that thing on your lap.
MITCH 12:33 Edit from a…
CHRIS 12:35 Prone position.
MITCH 12:36 We have photos of you with your feet up on the desk, don’t we?
CHRIS 12:39 Yeah, but my keyboard cable is long enough, I can take it with me.
CARL 12:47 I think that’s some of the complaints on FCP.CO. They have an article on this, that Planet Mitch was kind enough to forward to me this morning. I think basically all this thing does, while it’s very beautiful, it looks like it just sends keyboard shortcuts to the application.
CHRIS 13:06 Yeah, it’s very cool.
CARL 13:07 And so there’s latency with that.
CHRIS 13:09 Yeah, latency is bad.
CARL 13:12 I like keyboard shortcuts, too, because that speeds things up. So, if there’s going to be latency and I’m going to press a button on that…I don’t want to short circuit this out real soon, because I know these guys have put a lot of work into it. It’s a very beautiful app. I have been intrigued with the idea of having touch surfaces for controls. Hopefully, what we’re going to see, as this becomes more refined, that it becomes a good interface tool. Because there are external hardware tools for editing and color like the TangentWave and so forth.
MITCH 13:48 I don’t see it as something for a high-end person like Chris. My wife has been helping me out and doing some editing recently. She’s not the biggest fan of keyboard shortcuts, which drives me crazy but that’s a whole other story. I can envision somebody who’s just trying to learn Final Cut or somebody who’s not a hardcore keyboard user using this app quite successfully. It may not be for everybody.
CHRIS 14:19 People love their iPads and they love touching that thing, so if it reduces a barrier to make you feel more comfortable with it, then surely it’s a good thing.
MITCH 14:28 Absolutely.
CHRIS 14:29 I just like my keyboard. I’ve got 88 keys on it or whatever, 102 keys on it and I know what they all do. I am actually quite comfortable with what I have.
CARL 14:40 It’s something worth watching. Very, very, very, very good.
MITCH 14:46 Great news segment. [music]
CARL 14:51 It’s now time to talk about our sponsors and podcast friends at CrumplePop, film and broadcast effects for Final Cut Pro. You can find them at CrumplePop.com. Cool, cool, cool effects. I use them every single day that I edit, when I edit. Does that make sense? So, every time I’m in Final Cut somehow or another, CrumplePop finds its way into my edit.
CHRIS 15:20 And into your heart.
CARL 15:22 They went into my heart a long time ago. I love their stuff. I still have some old, legacy Final Cut Pro 7 projects, and I even use some of their old Final Cut Pro 7 plug-ins like Lower Thirds and that sort of thing, because I am so embedded in that. I love the look, I love the feel and love the support that you get there, they’re very accessible. All our DPC listeners, they can get a 20% discount on all CrumplePop products. All you have to do when you checkout, you pick your favorite plug-ins, load your cart up full, just buy everything, okay? Just put everything in the cart. To start off with something, Retrograde would be a good one to start off with.
CHRIS 16:12 I love Retrograde.
CARL 16:15 It is cool. I like [inaudible] 35. I use that a lot. Anyway, use the coupon code DCP20, 20% discount off already reasonably-priced plug-ins.
MITCH 16:36 I have to say again, the support over there is phenomenal. I don’t know if it’s just because they love me or what, but I had a problem with one of the plug-ins when I was editing 4K footage. They responded with a fix within a day or two.
CARL 16:50 Wow. That’s awesome. Speaking of CrumplePop, that’s how we came to know…[music] Mr. Dale Grahn. [laughter] Hey, Dale. You still with us?
DALE 17:07 Yes, I am.
CARL 17:10 We’ve had a rough Skype-y morning this morning.
MITCH 17:14 Which the users know pretty much nothing about, it’s all edited out.
CHRIS 17:17 We’re going to cut out 12 minutes of troubleshooting.
DALE 17:20 Sounds great.
CARL 17:22 Then we’re going to sell that as premium products. [laughter] Patrick Inhofer in his Tao of Color Newsletter, he said this about the app that CrumplePop and you had collaborated on, I’ll just read it verbatim, “Be a color timer. Dale Grahn Color App, Dale Grahn himself will teach you his techniques and you will be able to practice them by trying to recreate the famous looks of Private Ryan, Gladiator, or Minority Report. You will have 21 invaluable video lessons, in three levels of difficulties based on your experience. The real gem of this app are the included video tutorials by Dale Grahn. All your corrections are limited by the controls of the film timer. No user shapes or HSL selections here, it’s all printer points and density, terrific.” Now, that’s high praise from the Tao of Color.
DALE 18:20 That’s very high praise and I’m very grateful for his kind words. There’s only one thing I would say is we didn’t actually try to recreate any of those looks in the app. I don’t want to mislead anybody to think that’s what we’re teaching them how to do. What we are teaching is the technique of how all of those looks had been created. We’re trying to do that in a beginner, entry-level stage.
CARL 08:57 Very cool. We’ll talk about that a little bit more as we go on, but I think it would nice first to hear about your background. How did you become a color timer? How did you get into the business of film?
DALE 19:10 Actually, I started off at MGM Laboratories as a stock boy pushing raw stock around and delivering it to the printing department. An opening came up for an assistant in the timing department, and I put in for it and I was chosen for it. That’s where I began. MGM Laboratories was one of the only film laboratories that actually had what they call “timing assistants.” It was a great program because you were creating and teaching people how to be timers, as well as helping the color timer himself how to do his job. It was a great learning program. They were one of the only ones who actually used that system. That’s how I learned. I started as an assistant. I was an assistant for about six-and-a-half years. Then I got an opportunity to become a color timer.
CARL 20:18 Did you start out thinking that’s what you wanted to be, a color timer?
DALE 20:23 No. Actually, when I entered into the department, I knew it was an exciting department, but to be perfectly honest I couldn’t actually see what they were doing. The corrections were so small, I wasn’t really aware of what they were looking at, until after a while and a couple of months of being in the department. Because it was all visual, and some of these framer points are very minimal and very difficult to see. You don’t have an immediate reaction. You don’t dial it in, you have to call out a correction and then it has to be printed. Then you can see what happens to the film afterwards. It’s quite different and a lot more time consuming, and a lot more visual.
CARL 21:17 We’ve already thrown out a bunch of terms that I think need some definitions. Let’s go the basics here. What is color timing? What is a color timer?
DALE 21:30 A color time, historically, began in the black-and-white days where he would actually run tests in developing, to try and get the right contrast ratios and such. Then he would also, after doing that…and it was the amount of time that the negative would be in the developers, so that’s why it was called a timer. You would also do the printing process, the answer print process which would be showing the client the work. He would have to adjust the density in black-and-white, perhaps adjust the contrast but hopefully not adjust the contrast, hopefully that’s all done in the developing area, so all the contrast ratios match.
Then it moved from that point to color. When it moved into color, the timer was no longer involved in the developing process, he was only involved in the answer print process in showing the client the work, and actually adjusting the color visually. They used color mattes in the beginning, which they’d have to actually cut and choose different levels of color mattes to print the film with. If that filter didn’t work, they’d put in another filter or a different filter, very labor intensive and very visual again.
CARL 23:04 So that had to be done frame by frame?
DALE 23:07 Not frame-by-frame, it was always done cut-by-cut. There was always a benefit if you had a roll, say a television show, you’re shooting shots with a man and a woman on the same roll, a very good chance that they’re going to print very close to each other.
CARL 23:48 I have absolutely no experience in this space whatsoever.
MITCH 23:34 So, a novice question. Was this done after the edit or before the editor saw the film?
DALE 23:39 No, this was done after the edit. Actually, what happens is they would go through what they call the daily process. They would create what was called a work print. Most often the work prints were not timed because that was more money to have timed dailies. They would cut together the work print and then what you would do, what the timer would do, is he would sit together with the client and run through the work print, and choose what direction they wanted to go in every sequence. Then it was the timer’s job to move the film into that direction and, of course, do all the technical work cleaning up, making cutbacks the same, keeping the density the same, evening out sequences, and just the technical, but then also the aesthetic as well.
CHRIS 24:35 It really almost sounds like…compared to the way most people just sit at a mouse or some sort of a color grading table now, it almost sounds like Fred Flintstone making a movie. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, it’s astonishing to think of the way things used to be. In the 80’s and 90’s, I was just making TV shows…
DALE 25:07 I guess you would call it skill-oriented. In order to the job, you’d have to be able to look at the image and know what’s right and wrong about the image, and make your adjustments based on what you know, what you see, what the image is telling you. You don’t have any tools to tell you what’s wrong with the image. You have to be able to know by looking. Experience, really, is the only way to gain that, knowledge and repetition, over and over and over again.
CHRIS 25:37 Hence, the six-and-a-half years of apprentice-ship as an assistant. Kids nowadays, they think, “God, if I’ve got to watch over this guy’s shoulder for six hours, I’m going to gouge my eyes out.” They just want to jump in and do it. Let’s talk about the apprenticeship and the different levels that you…ways you could get started back then.
DALE 25:59 The only way that you could get started back then would be to go into…to be lucky enough to get into the timing department and then start off as an assistant and learn from there. You had to prove yourself as an assistant. Some assistants never made it timer because they couldn’t do the job. You would also always have to prove yourself at every level in order to advance to the next. There were a number of rankings.
You start off doing very basic stuff. Then you would go maybe 16MM and then you might be doing something important like dailies in 35MM. Then you might move up to television shows. From television shows you move up to features and within features, you move up the ranks there to the higher-profile clients. Only certain timers would get the really high-profile films and clients, because they would not want to put someone in a room with an individual and give them responsibility with a multi-million dollar project unless they were capable of doing it.
CHRIS 27:15 At what point in your career did people start asking for you, as opposed to you getting lucky enough to be assigned the client, do you remember that?
DALE 27:29 Actually, I remember it completely. It started right away, immediately. It was very unique. I had been at MGM lab for a long time and they finally were about to go out of business. They actually wrote a letter up and sent me over to Deluxe Labs because they said you’re probably not going to be able to be a timer anymore over here, ever again, just because of seniority. They said if you really want to be a timer and keep going, we’ll send you over to Deluxe. So they did, they sent me over with a reference letter, and I started over there doing trailers. I did a trailer called Predator. I was working at night, and somewhere around midnight Joel Silver walks in and we’re running the trailer. He comes in and says, “Are you my color timer?” I said, “No. I’m just here to show you the trailer.”
He says, “Well, why aren’t you timing my movie, are you not good enough?” I said, “No, sir. You’ve been assigned another timer. He works days, I work nights. You wanted to see the trailer so I worked on the trailer. I do trailers. He said, “I don’t know why I don’t have…” He wanted the timer to be doing the trailer. I said, “Well, if you just sit down, we’ll take a look at the trailer, or you can wait until tomorrow morning when he comes in and you can watch it.” So, we ran the trailer and he stands up and says, “That’s the greatest blank, blank trailer I’ve ever seen in my life. You’re timing my movie.” And I said, “Sir, I can’t time your movie. You’ve already been assigned a timer.” He says, “I’m Joel Silver and you’re timing my movie.” And he walked out. [laughter]
CHRIS 29:33 That’s great. That’s a great story.
DALE 29:35 The next night I got a phone call from the president of the company and he said, “Dale, what did you say to that client last night?” I’m thinking, “Oh, god. That’s it. I’m fired. I’m going to get fired.” I said, “I don’t know, sir. He wanted…he asked for me.” He said, “I understand that, kid. But, he likes you. You’re timing that movie.”
CHRIS 29:58 That’s awesome.
DALE 29:59 I moved from nights to days, and once I did Predator, people started requesting me. And also Field of Dreams, when I did Field of Dreams, people started requesting me after that as well.
CHRIS 30:13 Another really beautiful movie.
DALE 30:17 What I liked about…and that’s really been my whole career, and that’s been people seeing my work and choosing me for my work rather than choosing me for my name or my position, say for being head timer or whatever. I was never head timer and I actually always turned it down, because I wanted people to choose me because of me and my work, not because of who I was positionally or even what movie I had worked on. Look at my work, don’t look at the name or titles. How did they look? Were they good? Is that what you want?
That’s always been my motif, if you want to call it. It’s always worked out that way. That’s how I got to work with Steven Spielberg because of Dracula. J Kaminski saw Dracula. I did not get a screen credit on that, but he saw it and he called up the lab. He had done a film called Huck Finn and he said, “I need to know who the timer was on that film because he knows exactly how to time Huck Finn.” I started a relationship with him and then he brought me Steven with Amistad.
CHRIS 31:38 Very cool.
DALE 31:39 Again, it was all because of seeing my work and wanting to work with me because of that, and that’s really what timing was all about for me.
CARL 31:51 So from that point from being a stock boy to working with Steven Spielberg, how much time had elapsed there? How much time are we talking about?
DALE 32:07 I guess I started working with Steven…I started working with Steven on Amistad, what was that?
DALE 32:12 ’97.
DALE 32:13 ’97, yeah. I had just come back from Pixar. I actually worked at Pixar for six months, went through Pixar University, graduate of Pixar University. That’s another story. John Lasseter hired me to work with him at Pixar because he saw something in me that he wanted in his company. But it didn’t work out because my family just couldn’t move up there. We tried it for six months, but it just didn’t work out. That was one of the best companies I ever worked for. It was great.
CARL 33:00 It had to be hard to say, “You know what? I can’t do this anymore.”
DALE 33:04 Oh, you can’t believe how hard it was then to leave. That was just like a dream come true, working there. But, I went back to Technicolor because I wanted to finish the project I had started there which was Bug’s Life. So, I went back to Technicolor and that’s when I met Steven.
CARL 33:30 I have a real dumb question. Again, I have no insight on how this stuff works. You just mentioned you did Bug’s Life. That was a computer animated movie. What role does a color…I would assume that in the rendering and all that all the color would have just been taken care of in the render. So, what role does a color timer play in a movie like Bug’s Life or Toy Story?
DALE 33:59 In the beginning, that was not the case. In the beginning, they were not as sophisticated. They definitely needed color timing. They actually developed a laser printer, I hope I’m not breaking a contract by telling you this, and then they were able to create their own negatives. When they did that, they were more capable of making the color more exact. But, when you’re creating a negative piece by piece, it has to be timed together. In animation, we had a thing called successive exposure in Disney films like Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, Aladdin. They all went through successive exposure format.
CARL 35:01 What does that mean, successive exposure format?
DALE 35:04 That means they photograph three images of black and white, three records. They’re going back to a YCM and they marry those frames and it creates a hyper…like a more saturated color palette, more beautiful negatives, very expensive though and very time-consuming. It takes about three hours to print each reel.
CARL 35:33 Wow. It’s amazing to think how far along technology has come today. People like me, I got into this because the tools are inexpensive. I can do a lot with inexpensive software. It doesn’t mean I have the craftsmanship that you have in doing this, but it’s amazing how far this has come along.
DALE 35:55 Yeah, there are good advancements, because in our day everything was so expensive to have to do. To try and change contrasting the scene was very, very difficult. Very few people were willing to pay for the process to do it. In fact, I only know of one cameraman that I did it with, I think on three films, and that was Vittorio Storraro. We would actually change the contrast scene to scene by pre-flashing the stock and then running the stock back through developing system to increase the contrast in our system.
CHRIS 36:48 I noticed looking at your IMDB credits, you’re always listed as a color timer, never as color grader or a colorist. Did you ever get involved in the digital tools?
DALE 37:00 No.
CHRIS 37:04 What did you think of them?
DALE 37:05 I never got involved in the sense that I actually did the work. I actually supervised several digital colorist sessions.
CHRIS 37:18 There’s a dream job, to have a guy like you over your shoulder, teaching me the ways of some of the greatest films of the last 20 or 30 years, and talking me through how to use my tool better. With your eye, you’ve got to know that person got the schooling of a lifetime. That would be an honor.
DALE 37:45 Thank you, thank you. It would be great to be able to do that. In fact, when I left I was going to work with eFilm to do just that, to teach them their colors, how to time film, how to become film timers. But, it didn’t work out because I had retired recently and my wife said, “You just retired and now you’re going back again.”
CHRIS 38:22 It’s like working for the Mafia, they always suck you back in.
DALE 38:25 Yeah, so I had to make the decision you’re out or you’re in, so I had to go out. I passed up a lot of good opportunities, but I needed to take a break from the industry.
CARL 38:40 Speaking of breaks, I’d like to take a sponsor break at this point. Dale’s been in the business so long he knows how to create a good Segway there. [laughter] We do have a sponsor I do want to take some time to talk about, and that’s Kre8insights. One of the topics that’s really hot topic on this podcast is the business of filmmaking, really taking your video business to the next level, being profitable. That’s what we all want to do – we want to make money while we practice our art. One of the best resources on how to get jobs, how to prepare your proposals, how to market what you’re doing, is Kre8insights. It’s a special membership site that is just chalk full of practical information on how to turbo charge your video business.
If you want to get on the fast track of video production in the film industry, you need to check out Kre8insights.com. They also have a 30-day membership that’s free and no credit card is required. All you have to do is go to Kre8, that’s K-R-E-8-insider.com/DCP and our listeners will be able to get a 30-day free membership. You’ll have access to just about everything in there. Give it a look. There are forums in it, a number of videos and another thing they just started…they had their first what they call “Expert Interrogation.” They do a spreecast, I think they’re going to do this…oh, my goodness.
MITCH 40:29 Tuesdays and Thursdays.
CARL 40:31 Tuesdays and Thursdays. I believe you’re going to be on one of those, aren’t you Mr. Mitch?
MITCH 40:35 I am. I’m going to be on in March. I had a great talk with Michael Gebben just the other day, and he got me so pumped up, I was revving to go for hours after that phone call.
CARL 40:48 They had Ryan Koral on from EpicMotion yesterday, so they got off to a really good start. They had almost a hundred people there.
MITCH 40:56 Yeah, there were almost a hundred.
CARL 40:59 Yeah, it was really good. Check them out, Kre8insights.com. To get the 30-day membership, go to Kre8, K-R-E-8-insider.com/DCP for your free, 30-day membership. Alright, let’s get back into it, Dale. I got a couple of listener questions, here. Some of our listeners wanted to ask you…for example, we have DC Reels, he says, “Good get, Carl.” So, everybody’s happy that you’re joining us today, despite our Skype issues.
DALE 41:38 Great.
CARL 41:39 So he says, “On your typical gig, how much time are you given to do your job as a color timer?
DALE 41:49 That depends on the schedule and when a film would come in. What it would normally take just for all of the editorial to get done and everything compiled and ready, if you went straight with no hitches, probably three weeks to time the film, maybe three to four passes of color timing.
CARL 42:20 Now that work week, was that three to four weeks your typical 9 to 5, or is that more like 12 to 14 hours?
DALE 42:29 No, usually our shift was a standard 10-hour day, but usually we’d never go home in 10. It would be 12 or 13. But again, it would depend on how many shows we were working on at the time. So, I would usually be working on three to five shows at a time.
CARL 42:53 Three to five shows at a time. I’m trying to visualize how your workspace must have looked.
DALE 43:04 Absolutely a mess, film everywhere, older prints, all kinds of stuff.
CARL 43:15 So, there’s got to be some kind of machinery involved in this. I found this photo that I put in my show notes, just this kind of a reference of a Rank Cintel. I would love to have one of these, because it looks like such a cool gadget. Is this anything type of the kind of gear that you worked on, or is it something different?
DALE 43:32 No, no. The highest technology we had Hazeltine in our world. I think some laboratories used a Telecine machine but we never had one, because it was always at a starting place and the timer would…whenever you got a film, you’d almost take it in another direction, almost always.
CARL 44:04 Do you have any photos or anything like that, of the equipment that you worked on that we could put in the show notes?
DALE 44:11 Unfortunately, no. I don’t think so.
CHRIS 44:15 The lost art.
CARL 44:17 It’s the lost art, man.
DALE 44:18 There are basically two side-by-side projectors, one you hand crank through or power it through, and you would have the clip on side and the film on the other side. Then you would just wind through it. Or you would, in the old days, we actually used to do screen timing which was…we would time the film as it was running in the theater and call out the corrections to the assistant and he would write them down. That was pretty impressive. Very difficult to do.
CHRIS 44:50 Wow.
DALE 44:51 We had to make immediate decisions as you saw it on the screen. It was a good way of doing it, because you were watching the flow of the color and you’re making the decisions instantly.
MITCH 45:02 Do you do that with the sound on?
DALE 45:04 Yeah, you could. It would depend on how much work was necessary. If you were doing your first pass, then probably no sound, but if you were making your final run-through, then you probably want to be watching the film and listening to everything. Because you want to feel everything, because you’re trying to create emotion in the timing, if you’re doing a feature. If you’re doing television, you’re just trying to keep it within their color range. Because each show had its own palette, each television show. I used to do Cagney and Lacey, it had its own palette.
CHRIS 45:51 I have a question for you. I call it the deserted island question. If you were going to be stuck on a deserted island with a magic DVD player that didn’t need electricity and a screen, and you could watch one of your films for the foreseeable future until you got rescued, if you got rescued, what would it be?
DALE 46:14 Oh, golly. What would it be…?
CHRIS 46:19 I’ll have you know that if I had to make the same choice, I would actually choose of all films, my choice would be one of yours, but we’ll get to that.
DALE 46:27 Really? Thank you. I suppose Saving Private Ryan or Apocalypse Now Redux or Dracula. Dracula, I think, was a very successful film for me, and I enjoyed thoroughly working on it. It’s hard to choose.
CHRIS 47:03 Yeah, it’s a tough question.
DALE 47:10 Then, some of my animation was really quite beautiful, I thought. Nightmare Before Christmas was difficult to do but I thought it looked wonderful. I have a lot of favorites.
MITCH 47:26 He didn’t pass the “just one” test, did he?
CHRIS 47:29 No, it’s a tough call. It’s interesting, though. Because when I look at your filmography here…Saving Private Ryan is referred to so often. It basically made bleach bypass a household term. We already mentioned A.I. I just remember that being a film where you just walk away from it and your head is spinning like, “How do I make something look like that?” Or Minority Report, same thing.
DALE 48:06 Right, very visual films.
CHRIS 48:09 They’re like landmark things that people in this business, they talk about all the time.
DALE 48:18 Janusz Kaminski is brilliant and so is Steven and Michael Kahn. They’re an amazing team. It’s always just the four of us. Whenever we would work together, that was it, it was just the four of us. It reminds me of the first time I met Steven. It was on Amistad, of course, and probably 20 people in thousand dollar suits, sitting and waiting in the theater for Steven to arrive. He walks in, paces back and forth and said, “Can I have your attention, please? I normally only do this with the cinematographer, the color timer, and the editor, so all the rest of you have the day off, so thank you for coming.” [laughter] Silently, everyone walked out the door without saying one word. I would have left if he hadn’t said color timer. That is the experience we had always. It was always the four of us with an occasional assistant of Michael Kahn. Only the four of us, we always decided everything. Every film that we did, it was a combination of all four of us.
CARL 49:49 Can you tell us a little bit about the thought process say behind, both Chris and you mentioned Saving Private Ryan has a very distinctive look. How did that decision come to be made to make that film look the way it did?
DALE 50:05 It actually was a mistake. We originally were running the process with…because we did both. We did bleach bypass the negative, and then we also did the ENR process and we were running at 50 on the ENR process. For one day of developing, they reached 100 and those shots were the ones that caught Steven’s eye. I’m over here in America, trying to reproduce the look of those two shots at 50 on the IR rating and I’m not getting anywhere near it. I can’t even match it. I’m thinking, “Okay, I’m done. I’m going to be fired from this job because I can’t match that shot that he loves.” I’m looking at it and I’m thinking, “It’s too saturated. I need to go higher.”
But I, at the time, did not know that we could go to 100 on the ENR process. I only found out from a casual conversation with the shift foremen saying, “If I could just get a little higher.” He said, “Well, I can take it to 100. Give it to me.” As soon as we hit 100 on the IR, the shot matched exactly and I was able to time the rest of the movie. So, it ran at 100 IR rating and the ER rating, plus we bypassed negative.
CARL 51:48 So, going back to the newbies in the audience, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it, I think I already exposed my ignorance quite a bit. What is this IRE that you’re talking about?
DALE 52:04 ENR. It was developed by Vittorio Storraro. It’s a process of developing where it retains more silver…the print stock retains more silver and gives higher contrast ratio.
CARL 52:26 I’m sorry, I dropped Mitch off the call somehow or the other.
DALE 52:28 Did you get me, though?
CARL 52:31 Yeah, I got you. That was good.
DALE 52:37 They increase the contrast ratio. The higher you want, the higher…it also causes desaturation as well.
CHRIS 52:45 I’m trying to add Mitch back in.
CARL 52:46 This is going to be the most edited show, ever.
CHRIS 52:48 Yeah, if we’re lucky we won’t have to color time this audio podcast.
CARL 52:53 Mitch, you there?
MITCH 52:54 I’m back.
CARL 52:55 Hey, hey. Welcome back to the Digital Convergence Podcast.
MITCH 52:59 I love Skype.
CHRIS 53:02 We have been going quite a while.
CARL 53:05 There’s a couple more questions I’d like to get in, then we need to move on. Dale, we will have to get you back on again. I tell you what, just that discussion you had there about the creative process, how you came up with look for Saving Private Ryan is very intriguing to me. Those are the kinds of things I like to hear there. But, I do have a question from Darren Yomamoto. He says, “What film or TV show would you like a crack at coloring?”
DALE 53:40 I think it…is it CSI that has kind of a hyper-color look to it?
CHRIS 53:47 Which one? Vegas, Miami?
DALE 53:51 I think it’s Miami.
CHRIS 53:53 Miami is the one…I call that one CSI Orange. It’s true. There’s something orange in every single frame.
DALE 54:02 I think I’d like to try to stabilize that or give it a different kind of look. Basically, anything where I could take it in another direction. Anything that could be manipulated like a period piece or create a time period or look, that would be exciting to me. For instance, it would have been nice to have worked on Lincoln, being a period piece.
CHRIS 54:40 To make it look like it was shot in the 1860’? I’m kidding.
DALE 54:45 Right, there’s so many beautiful things that you can do with the images there to create the feeling of being back then. Not necessarily be saturated or whatever, but really bring you into the frame.
CHRIS 55:00 I had mentioned earlier about what an honor it would be to have somebody like you sitting over your shoulder while you were trying to learn the craft. Why don’t you tell us a little bit more about the app? Because I’d like to hear your explanation of it, your app that you did with CrumplePop? [sound effect] Sponsor of the show.
DALE 55:23 What we tried to do is we tried to simplify the color board, and also to increment it because a color timer needs increments. He needs to be able to recreate same correction, so he can be technically correct within the film itself, making cutbacks exactly match, putting the exact amounts of color or density or contrast or saturation in and being able to recreate that, so that he’s technically correct. That’s important. We didn’t want to make it too difficult. I didn’t want to make it too difficult for anybody. I wanted them to just have a little bit of difficulty in some of them, so they would have to go over it again and learn by repetition.
But mostly I tried to give the basics of simple contrast, making a normal neutral flush tone, trying to look at an image for what is the image telling you. Is the person wearing warm clothing, are they at the beach? Is it cold outside, is it sunny, should it be? You can tell by looking at the image what you need to do to it, what direction you need to go and/or what direction you can go by understanding the image. Again, color timing is all visual and all learning how to look at an image, whether it’s digital or film.
CARL 57:20 I like the approach because it’s not just video tutorials. There’s an exercise, you try and match. It’s almost like a game, if you will. Try and match what you do and that reinforces the principles and helps you retain what you’ve learned.
DALE 57:39 Hopefully.
CARL 57:40 Yeah, I hope. What are your plans? I got the feeling that you’re just scratching the surface with this. You cover a lot of ground and there’s a lot of opportunity here.
DALE 58:00 My plan would be to stay with CrumplePop and develop new products. There have been a lot of requests for this type of control board to be put into Final Cut Pro as a plug-in. So, if we were to do that it would be a little more elegant and have more tools. It would be based more on principle of color timing and it would be incredibly quick and very efficient, the design.
CARL 58:44 We’ve covered a lot of ground and there’s a lot more we could cover but time is becoming the limiting factor here. We do need to talk about another one of our sponsors here. This is Shutterstock. Shutterstock is where you’ll find over 800,000 stock video clips. You can start your search at Shutterstock.com to find that perfect clip for your website presentation or any other video project. In fact, you can go straight to the video footage at footage.Shutterstock.com. A lot of cool stuff out there. Very easy to use search and here’s a special deal for you guys, for listeners. I know a lot of you like to shoot your own stuff, but sometimes you just need that perfect shot from, I don’t know, say Thailand and you don’t have the budget to travel to Thailand.
Wouldn’t it be nice to just drop video footage from there? You can do it by going to Shutterstock and searching for your footage and you can get 30% off the footage that you select. How do you do it? You just enter this code when you check out: Digital and the number 2, so Digital2 and get 30% off of any package. Shutterstock, where you’ll find over 800,000 stock video clips, Shutterstock.com.
We need to move on. I’d like to talk about…we have some beautiful films but we just don’t have time to talk about them today. I would like to get into product picks or tips of the week, then we’ll wrap up the show. I’m going to put Dale on the spot. Do you have a product…hint, hint…that you would like to recommend to our listeners today?
DALE 01:00:41 I do have the app, of course, that I would like to pitch to everyone. But, I would like to everybody just keep their eye on CrumplePop, and hopefully we’re going to be coming up with some new products, exciting products in the very near future. Keep your eye on CrumplePop.
CARL 01:01:12 That’s a very good pick. Planet Mitch?
MITCH 01:01:15 I’ve got something new in the mail this week that I’m going to be testing shortly called the Aviator Travel Jib, and it’s from the good folks over at Nice Industries. I’m just incredibly impressed with how small this thing is and it’s well built, so keep an eye on pLanet5D. I’ll have a review in a couple of weeks.
CARL 01:01:37 Sounds interesting. Mr. Chris Fenwick?
CHRIS 01:01:38 For the sake of time and lack of preparedness, I’ve got nothing.
CARL 01:01:43 Okay, we like that. [laughter] I’d like to expand our readers’, our listeners’ knowledge base and I just came across a really outstanding book. I’ve just started but it’s called The Facts of Business Life, What Every Business Owner Knows That You Don’t by Bill McBean. I’ll include that in the show notes. Mr. Dale Grahn, thank you so much for putting up with our technical glitches today and thank you for being on the show, we really appreciate it.
DALE 01:02:21 Thank you for having me. It’s been a pleasure.
CARL 01:02:25 I’m so glad you feel that way. It’s not typical. [laughter] It really is not and we were so looking forward to…and it has been, We’ve got a lot of good info from you. Where can people find out more about you and follow what you’re doing today?
DALE 01:02:43 Actually, nowhere really. [laughter] You can look to CrumplePop in the future but as far as films, I’m kind of done in that area, so you won’t be seeing any new titles in my IMDB file. Hopefully, the new projects that we’re going to be doing at CrumplePop will be exciting and helpful to the industry. Because, that’s really what we want to do, help the industry not necessarily try to change it, just add what we can to it.
CARL 01:03:26 That’s awesome. You can find out about the app at Dale Grahn Color. That’s G-R-A-H-N, right?
DALE 01:03:36 Yes.
CARL 01:03:37 That’s DaleGrahnColor.com and I’ll include a link to that. We’ll get you kicking and screaming into Twitter here before long, too. [laughter]
DALE 01:03:49 Okay.
CARL 01:03:51 That’s where the community is. We’ve got to get you on there.
DALE 01:03:53 I don’t have an account yet, but apparently I’m going to need to get one.
CARL 01:03:57 Yeah, just do it. Get it out of your system. I know it’s hard. I went through the same thing. I was a late adopter, but I did it. In fact, I did it then I quit it, then I went back. I think that describes a lot of people with it. [laughter] Alright, Mitch?
MITCH 01:04:19 pLanet5D.com, that’s me.
CARL 01:04:23 Alright, Chris?
CHRIS 01:04:24 Chrisfenwick.com and Chris Fenwick on Twitter.
CARL 01:04:27 You can catch me at DigitalFilm.TV and I’m now on Twitter as The Carl Olson.
MITCH 01:04:37 Not A Carl Olson, but “The.”
CARL 01:04:39 Yeah, it’s very pretentious.
CHRIS 01:04:41 It’s a definitive article.
CARL 01:04:42 So, I am The definitive Carl Olson, and the only reason I’m the definitive Carl Olson is because I can’t get…somebody is squatting on Carl Olson and it’s not been used in years. Anyway, that’s branding issues. That’s not your problem, it’s just mine. We do want to thank our show sponsors. CrumplePop, [sound effect] film and broadcast effects for Final Cut Pro and we’ve got Mr. Dale Grahn here supporting that team as well, so that’s awesome.
Then, Kre8insights.com, helping talented and passionate filmmakers become successful entrepreneurs. Visit their website today for proven strategies that can help you grow your business. Kre8insights.com. That’s K-R-E-8-insights.com. Then Shutterstock.com, where you’ll find over 800,000 stock video clips. Digital and the number 2, Digital2, for your 30% off on your next order. Remember that, okay? Please rate us and leave feedback in iTunes and we really want to thank everyone who has. We certainly appreciate all the feedback, the questions that have come in. We really appreciate that. It’s encouraging to us and helps us to see where we need to go with the shows, because it’s just as much your show as it us sitting here.
We really appreciate that so continue to send it in. In fact, next week’s episode will focus on your questions and I have a few that’s backlogged already but keep sending them in. If there’s something that you would like for us to address, just send it in. You can do it by Twitter. You can do it by voicemail, on my website, email, carrier pigeon, pony express, I don’t care. Just get your questions to me, okay? Gentlemen, it’s been a great show. Thank you so much.
MITCH 01:06:35 Thanks, Dale.
DALE 01:06:36 Thank you.
CHRIS 01:06:37 Thanks, Dale. This was a real pleasure, thank you so much.
MITCH 01:06:39 I really want to have him back. Put that on the list, Carl.
CARL 01:06:42 We’ve got to make it up to him.
MITCH 01:06:46 I’ve still got more questions.
CARL 01:06:47 I do, too. Not enough time in the day.
CHRIS 01:06:53 We’ve now switched over to episode 110.
CARL 01:06:54 Yep, there you go. Get out there and tell a great story, everyone. That’s a wrap. [music]
Lydia Hurlbut is the co-founder and CEO of Hurlbut Visuals.
According to her amazing bio:
“For the past 25 years Lydia’s career path has been varied with an expertise in numerous fields including: pediatric nursing, forensic science, life coaching, marketing and film production. Lydia first envisioned Hurlbut Visuals while visiting Shane in Puerto Rico on the film “Act of Valor.” What began as way to showcase Shane’s pioneering ability with the Canon 5D Mark II camera has expanded to include the Blog, an HDSLR Cinema Rental Division, an educational Bootcamp, and a division devoted to funding and producing independent projects. Lydia’s leadership and knowledge of the film business along with her amazingly talented team has allowed for extraordinary growth.
“Lydia has a master’s degree in forensic nursing from the University of Virginia. Marketing has been self-taught by reading “everything she could get her hands on” and mentoring help from two close friends in the field of marketing, Star Ladin and Christiane Holbrook. This unique skill set combination supported by existing relationships in the film industry allows Hurlbut Visuals to be creative and fearless in taking risks on new ideas.
“In today’s competitive business marketplace, Lydia has been challenged to create business solutions that speak to both independent companies and large corporations. Visual storytelling combined with the practical knowledge and teaching gift of Shane Hurlbut, ASC and the Elite Team has provided the solution.”
In this episode of the Digital Convergence Podcast, Chris Fenwick, planetMitch and I are privileged to participate in a thought provoking conversation with Lydia. She shares her deep insights and experience on business, marketing, branding, education, and building a team in the competive world of filmmaking. Lydia also takes time to answer questions from DCP listeners.
CARL 00:12 Today is Wednesday, January 23, 2013. We would like to welcome you to another edition of The Digital Convergence Podcast, the number one talk show about photography, video, and post-production. This is Episode Number 107, “Smart Business for Cinema.”
The Digital Convergence Podcast is sponsored by CrumplePop, crinkle, crinkle, crinkle, crunch.
CrumplePop – film and broadcast effects for Final Cut Pro. I’m here today with Mr. Chris Fenwick of Slice Editorial, who is somewhere in the bowels of San Francisco, I believe.
CHRIS 00:54 Yeah, I’m in that location that has the really bad bandwidth.
CARL 00:59 Yes, it’s the global dynamics of Eureka. Then we have Planet Mitch who is also on the road. [sound effect]
MITCH 01:09 I found it.
CARL 01:11 Thank you, Mitch. Where are you?
MITCH 01:13 I’m in Laguna Beach.
CARL 01:14 Laguna Beach? Why are you in Laguna Beach?
MITCH 01:18 The wonderful folks at Rode Microphones invited me to their 2013 conference, so I’m out having a grand little time at this beautiful hotel.
CARL 01:28 Awesome. We’ll talk about that in just a little bit more, but we have someone very special waiting in the wings here. She is the co-founder and CEO of Hurlbut Visuals, Lydia Hurlbut. Lydia, welcome aboard.
LYDIA 01:46 Thank you so much, gentlemen. It’s great to join you this morning.
CARL 01:50 We have been wanting to talk to you for a long time. Actually, to listen to you, I should say. So, thanks for joining us today.
LYDIA 01:57 I’m really excited about it.
CARL 02:00 Today we’re going to be talking with Lydia later on in the show, but first we’re going to do a few little housekeeping things. A lot of exciting things to talk about…get Lydia’s insight on the business of cinema. Lots of good stuff there, so I’m excited. Anyway, let’s just get right into the next piece. [music] Okay, Mitch.
MITCH 02:27 I’m ready.
CARL 02:28 Tell us, what’s going on at Rode?
MITCH 02:30 Well, Rode is a wonderful little company and the more I know about them, the more impressed I
am. They have grown quite a bit in the last couple of years. I think the DSLR revolution, of course, boosted them to the place they are. And it’s all because of pLanet5d.com, you know that. Not too long ago, they announced the IXY which is a stereo microphone, we talked about it here on the show, that attaches to your iPhone. I now have one of those in my hot little hand, so I’m going to be giving that baby a test. Unfortunately, it’s still designed for the 30 pin connector so I’ll have to use it with my icky, old iPad instead of my brand new iPhone5.
They’re working on the iPhone 5 version and it should be out shortly. But, two things they announced yesterday which I think are pretty darned cool. By the way, the IXY, they have an application called Rode Rek that interfaces with the microphone on the iPhone. That application also works with their brand new product, which their website isn’t even updated yet. I went this morning to try and do a little news publishing about it.
But, they have taken this one step further and they now have a smartLav, a leveler mic which hooks right into your Smart Phone. They had a really cool demo movie yesterday where for example, the groom in the wedding has an iPhone. So, they just attached this little Lav mic straight to his iPhone, shove it into his pocket and off they go. You don’t have to have external recorders or wireless connections for everybody. I think the brilliant thing about this, and this is not a 100% confirmed yet, the pricing may change because they haven’t officially released this product yet, but it’s going to be $60.
CHRIS 04:45 Wow.
MITCH 04:46 Dirt cheap for a Lavalier mic and it’s the same quality as their regular Lav mic.
CARL 04:53 But it’s still going to have the $399 dungle.
MITCH 04:57 No. This plugs straight into the iPhone.
CARL 05:00 That’s what I’m talking about.
CARL 05:02 It’s the dungle. [laughter]
MITCH 05:05 Okay and no, I did not ask them, yet, about whether or not they’re going to have an Android version. I know some people wanted to know and I forgot to ask that question. The second big thing that they announced yesterday which I think is really cool…you guys are familiar with the Rode VideoMic.
CARL 05:31 Yes.
MITCH 05:32 They’ve got two VideoMics, the long skinny one and then the short Pro version. Then they, of
course, have the stereo VideoMic Pro now, which is the little ball. But, I’ve had the VideoMic for
quite a while and everybody always hated those rubber bands. Hate them, hate them, hate them.
CARL 05:55 I have broke several of those.
MITCH 05:58 They have gotten together with the folks at Rycote, who have one of the coolest shock-mounts on the planet, and they have released a new Rode VideoMic that has a Rycote shock-mount, and this things is just awesome. No more rubber bands. No more icky attachment issues, it just works.
CARL 06:27 The other problem with the rubber bands was if there was any movement of the camera you’d hear that. The mic would pick that up. To me, that was a big downside of that camera. Of course, most people were just using it as a reference sound to synch up external sound.
MITCH 06:42 Theoretically, and I have not yet tried it but I have my hot little hands on it, the Rycote
shock-mount will prevent all of that noise. That’s pretty cool.
CARL 06:53 Hey, I’ve got a question about that, backing up to the XY.
MITCH 06:56 Yeah?
CARL 06:57 Will that work while you’re recording video on the iPhone or is it just a standalone audio recorder?
MITCH 07:06 You know, that’s a good question. I will find out and let you know when I test it.
CARL 07:12 Did they give you any idea, too, when the iPhone5 version would come out?
MITCH 07:16 No. They are busting their tails to get that done, because they know everybody wants one.
CHRIS 07:23 I think the real issue with the IXY recording video is to point the phone to shoot video, the XY pattern for the microphone…
CARL 07:36 Oh yeah, yeah.
MITCH07:37 Darn good point, Chris. Brilliant.
CHRIS 07:39 Kill joy, but I don’t want to record the palm of my hand while I’m shooting video.
MITCH 07:47 Good point.
CARL 07:48 Yeah, that’s what I get for being a genius…not.
MITCH 07:54 Offline, they said this is rather lame, because now you can’t use your phone while you’re working, if you’re like shooting a movie or something.
CHRIS 08:06 Really, people are saying that?
MITCH 08:08 Well, lame because…
CARL 08:10 But you know what? It’s a podcaster’s tool. I don’t think that’s a legit…I mean, I was asking the question. I was curious if that’s possible, but it doesn’t have to be for that.
MITCH 08:23 Of course, some people wanted to know if the phone rings and interrupts your recording while it…
CARL 08:27 You just put that in airplane mode.
MITCH 08:29 I think the application actually prevents it for you. I haven’t downloaded it, I was going to do it. But when I have, I will test it out. In this application, there’s two versions of it. There’s a lite version which is free and then there is…I think it’s $5.95, the full version which lets you edit your audio right on your iPhone. There’s all sorts of stuff you can do plus, like I mentioned before, the cool thing to me about it is that you connect to Dropbox or several other locations. So, as soon as you record something it’s on your PC. You know, it’s just connected which is brilliant.
CARL 09:13 I’ll look forward to seeing the little Lav mic that they’re going to come out with the iPhone. I could see that would be great for podcasters.
MITCH 09:20 Yes.
CARL 09:21 That’s going to be a really good tool.
MITCH 09:23 I will do a video about it shortly, when I get home.
CARL 09:27 Well, absolutely fantastic, Mitch. Glad you’re having fun out there, and it sounds like there’s some great products coming out from Rode Mics. I’ll look forward to getting my hands on some of that. You know, it’s time for a sponsor break. CrumplePop – film and broadcast effects for Final Cut Pro. You can find them at CrumplePop.com. They have a really cool app out now. I could call it a game tutorial. It’s more like a game…it is kind of a tutorial, but the goal of the app is to try to match Dale Grahn’s color choices. He explains what he does, then you try to match his results. It actually scores you as you do it. It’ll score your results. In some cases, I came dead on and in other cases, I was just way, way off. Anyway, shows you how much I still have to learn.
MITCH 10:32 Coloring is hard.
CARL 10:33 Yeah. The premise of this is Dale says, “Hey, you know, we can just go down to just basically five or six controls here to teach the basics of color. You have three sliders for RGB color and then you’ve got a density or contrast and saturation. And just using those tools, you can learn on your iPad to color the way Dale does. In fact, we’ll have Dale Grahn on the show in the next week or two. So, he’s going to join us. He is a color timer for both Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola, so it will be interesting to get his take on color timing.
CHRIS 11:20 Yeah, I’m looking forward to that.
CARL 11:22 Anyway, I just want to remind everyone, our listeners, that you can get a 20% discount on all CrumplePop products. All you have to do is use a coupon code, DCP…get it? Digital Convergence Podcast…20, DCP 20. In fact, one of our listeners, John Friedman, he says, “Thanks to the podcast, I saved 20%, using that code, off my recent purchase of CrumplePop.” And he tells us he got Fisheye Fixer for GoPro. Way to go. So, he got a savings, you can too. We want to thank everyone at CrumplePop for their support of this podcast. CrumplePop.com. [sound effect] Cool.
I know everything sounds kind of rushed because I’m kind of rushing to the meat of this podcast. The lady has been patiently waiting behind the scenes, as we have our little banter here about the news and everything. Lydia, you are, according to your bio, you’re the co-founder and CEO of Hurlbut Visuals. A lot of us in this Convergence audience are very familiar with what you and Shane have done to promote the latest Convergent technologies like the Canon 5D Mark 2 and other types of cameras that have made cinematic film making or digital film, as Shane calls it, accessible to mere mortals. It’s good to have you here.
LYDIA 13:00 Well, thank you so much, Carl. I love that, and I love the way you support your sponsors, because we try to do the same thing, and I think it’s critically important. The sound effects, I’ve got to work on that for mine.
CARL 13:14 We only look for sponsors that are fun to do. [laughter] CrumplePop has been a great supporter of the website. Oh, you know, I forgot to mention…the footnote, sorry to interrupt, but we’re going to be providing transcripts of future editions of the podcasts…
CHRIS 13:32 That’s cool.
CARL 13:33 …so, if you like to read it as opposed to listen to it, that’s going to be available. So, CrumplePop is taking care of that for us.
CHRIS 13:39 Really?
CARL 13:40 Yeah, isn’t that cool?
CHRIS 13:42 That is cool.
CARL 13:43 This show will be transcribed in text. It will be a book. So Lydia, tell us a little bit about your road. How did you get to this point in the film making industry, because you mentioned earlier that you used to be a nurse or you were in nursing? So, here you are in the film making world. I think that’s got to be an interesting story. How did you get from there to here?
LYDIA 14:08 Sure. I started out as a pediatric nurse. I worked at Children’s Hospital and then…Shane and I have been together for 25 years this year. I was always…we, ironically, were always working together in that before he had an agent. When he was really just starting out in the business, I was always behind the scenes, when I had a day off, scheduling him or calling producers when he was busy on a shoot and kind of in that role. But, very much on the sidelines and very determined to do my own thing.
I then went down the road of forensics, found it absolutely fascinating, was going to join the FBI at one time in my life, and really wanted to profile. That was my dream. So, I realized I couldn’t simultaneously be happily married, have a family, and be a profiler because they’re just incompatible. So, I came back to Los Angeles, because I did graduate school at the University of Virginia, and Shane and I commuted for 9 months. During that time period, I crammed it all in.
After that, I came back to L.A., I worked with California Sexual Assault Investigator’s Association, I did very much in the world of forensics – sexual assault nurse examiner in the emergency room. Then I had children, and I realized it was really hard to potentially see adolescents that had been abused, and then go home and turn it off in a way that I could do before I had children. Because, you really have to compartmentalize sides of your brain or it really starts to impact your personal life. At that point, I just said, “You know what? I need to take a break from all of this.” I had my kids, and I volunteered for National Public Radio and took some years off to be a mom. After that, when my son was in kindergarten, I went back and started life coaching. Did life and business coaching and studied marketing, and that ultimately led to where I am today.
My dad was the one who said, “Lydia, you really need to work with Shane. You’re helping all of these other people, why not your husband?” And I thought, “He’s right. Why not Shane?”
CARL 16:50 Dads are great, aren’t they?
LYDIA 16:51 Oh, it was amazing. It was amazing, and my dad said, “Build your own empire instead of helping other people build theirs.” I’m so grateful because they have such a sense of perspective, that when you’re in it, you don’t.
CHRIS 17:07 Yeah, and probably parents are the one entity in your life that really are never going to have anything but your best interest in mind.
LYDIA 17:16 Exactly, exactly.
MITCH 17:20 He’s an amazing man and I got to meet Lydia’s dad, so I’m blessed as well.
LYDIA 17:24 Thank you. Thank you, Mitch. You know, it’s so funny, because he’s such a part of this Hurlbut Visual story. We just went to Thailand to go see him for the holidays, because he lives in Chiang Mai.
MITCH 17:39 Why is that? Tell everybody, Lydia.
LYDIA 17:40 He, it’s so funny…my dad, long story, but he was fortunate and blessed to travel the world with his second wife, who happened to be very well off. They fell in love with the people, the culture, the philosophy of Thailand. He begged her to move there. I love that she loved him so much, and said, “I’m going to pick up my life and move from Allerton, NY to Chiang Mai, Thailand.” And she did it when she was seventy-three. I think that’s pretty extraordinary…or in her early seventies, I guess. But, it’s just terrific that she could be that flexible. Unfortunately since then, she has passed away but my dad loves Thailand and is very committed to being there the rest of his life.
CHRIS 18:39 Wow, that’s great.
CARL 18:42 I think traveling around the world and living in different places like that, it changes your whole world view on things.
LYDIA 18:50 It does, and I think the people and the culture of Thailand, I was so excited to be able to expose my children to that, and just to the different foods and the languages. Because obviously, it’s not just Thai that’s spoken in Thailand, and so it really gives them a worldwide education and builds their confidence.
CHRIS 19:17 Hmm. I have a question. Lydia, we’ve all heard Shane tell the story. Anybody who probably owns a DSLR has heard Shane tell the story about going to the, he calls it the wine and cheese event, I think it was at Sammy’s when he first saw the 5D. He got all excited by the big sensor. I think everybody’s heard that story. What were you thinking at that time? When he was like, “Hey, look. I’m Shane Hurlbut, I shoot big movies and look, I’m playing with this little camera.” Did you think he was crazy at the time?
LYDIA 19:52 Well, here comes the giant confession to everybody, that I’ve never said before. I appreciated my husband’s talent before I started working with him. I always knew he was gifted with lighting and just a really talented cinematographer. But, what I did not appreciate, and this answers your question, is his pioneering spirit. I have such a sense of awe for Shane now, truthfully, in terms of his fearlessness and pioneering ability. And that was through an act of valor through using the camera. That’s just when I was tuning into his world of tech.
Truthfully, before then I didn’t pay so much attention to what Shane was shooting on, because I had my own thing and he had his own thing. I’d tell him about my nursing forensic crazy stories, and he would tell me, “Oh, I’ve got this feature coming up.” Or whatever, but I wasn’t as really clued in to the technology. It probably, Chris, didn’t have as much of an impact as it should have. I now really appreciate Shane’s gift, in terms of mixing formats, and really being fearless in trying different platforms and mixing them together.
CARL 21:18 I think one of the things that I get from Shane’s experience with this is more having to do with the craft. He has taught us that there’s a language, if you will, a vernacular to the craft of cinema which is not entirely tied to the technology that you’re using to film whatever it is you’re filming. It’s not so much the gear as it is the clever things that he does. I’m just astounded by the…the film, The Last Three Minutes, how the carnival scene…I still can’t get that out of my mind. It was fiendishly clever. You know, just a few little inexpensive pieces of technology. You know, lighting and just the way it was composed and so forth. To come up with this incredible illusion of a carnival. Was that dependent on the Canon 5? Yeah, that was part of it, but he really showed us there’s a lot more to this than just the equipment that’s behind it. He’s got this creativity and vision that’s…I’m at a loss of words but I think it has to do a lot with the craft. And he shows himself as a craftsman, an artist here.
LYDIA 22:42 Thanks for saying that, Carl, because I obviously agree with you. I think for film makers to broaden it out, that’s the really exciting piece. Where, everybody talks about the democratization of film making with all of this new technology. I think that this is such an important point, because The Last Three Minutes was such a low budget. I think it really then becomes about the creativity and about…you’re implementing your ideas. Making the scene simple in a certain way…it was a very, very simple lighting gag that he did, that he’d done for years, and then making it appear so much bigger that it was, based on the way it was shot.
I think, again, so much of it is really taking the broad skillset that we all come with, and at least to me is the most exciting thing for young film makers out there. Just implementing that and being as creative as you possibly can to get your project made.
CARL 23:54 You mentioned, too, that you’re self-taught. Education seems to be a big part of your own personal life. I’ve noticed that’s a characteristic of people who go into business for themselves or the ones who are successful in business, are people who value education. Would you mind talking a little bit about your approach to how you educate yourself? You mentioned earlier that you got into marketing, life coaching and all of those things involved education, to a degree.
LYDIA 24:27 Yes, I love…as you can all tell, I love school, I love learning. I believe that we are all lifelong learners. You know, what I’ve realized for being an entrepreneur, is that success is not determined by whether or not you’ve been to business school, necessarily. Because initially, I felt insecure because the way that the medical world works or the forensic world works, is you need to have the degree and then you execute on the job, and you get practice along the way. For being an entrepreneur, you use every single piece of skill in your life that you have gotten…
CARL 25:11 Exactly.
LYDIA 25:15 …and implement. So, it’s really not about the degree. In business, it’s much more about the relationships and it’s about capitalizing on where you see holes. Does business help? Absolutely, I’m sure. It makes it a lot easier. What I did was I worked for a very successful, fifth-generation entrepreneur, Christiana Holbrook. She was a mom in Pasadena, and I was her intern for a full year. She said I will teach you everything I know about business and marketing in exchange for this internship.
It was phenomenal, because what Christiana and I did was we studied the Internet at that time, which was very male-dominated selling, marketing if you will, which I found to be such a turn off. That was prevalent. Marketing was just turning around into the collaborative, value-based way that it’s done today, the value delivery piece. But, at that time I was really looking at the hard sell marketing.
I learned so much from that. I’ve also studied the way that women and men do business very differently. I’m a member of the Women Entrepreneurial Group. It’s called WEGs, is our little acronym, in Malibu. These women, truthfully, have taught me just as much in a short amount of time, because they’re all really…they’re at very different levels of their businesses, but there’s such a sharing and collaboration that happens. That’s been another piece of my learning.
This year, I was sharing with Chris before, that I have actually hired a leadership coach, Jane Warlow who is originally from London and has moved to the United States and she’s absolutely brilliant. She’s a resonance coach. She looks at energy and how…and I know that this sounds woo-woo to some people but it really plays out in business. The best that I can describe it is, you know when you go into a meeting and you’re initially turned off by somebody? Or you’re on a shoot with them and you don’t really understand why…you’ve just met them, but you can’t stand the person for whatever reason, and that has to do with the way that we resonate with one another.
Jane works with big companies. I mean, huge Fortune-500 companies teaching leadership skills, resonance, and she’s fascinating. She’s coaching me this year on leadership. I’m also in a Mastermind group. Those are really the ways that I am pushing myself forward in education.
CARL 28:11 How did you come to that decision that you needed a life coach or wanted a life coach?
LYDIA 28:16 So, I’ve felt that I needed to up my leadership game because leadership makes or breaks the business. I have an extraordinary team that I am honored to lead, and it’s because of my team at Hurlbut Visuals and Revolution Cinema Rentals both, that I believed that I needed to become a better leader. And part of that is with coaching, because with coaching you recognize things within yourself that you didn’t know were present.
It’s about making the unconscious conscious, and therefore you can recognize your strengths, your areas that need improvement, and really capitalize to become the best leader you can be. Jane does it in a fascinating way with biometrics, and it’s the biometrics so it’s very scientific. Again, it’s making the unconscious pieces of you, conscious, so that you can then work on those. I really did it for this extraordinary team that I have.
CARL 29:35 Then one other thing that you mentioned being part of a Mastermind. I know a number of people that are part of Masterminds formally. I guess there are others who have it more of an informal arrangement. What’s the benefit to being part of a Mastermind and are the people…I don’t want you to go into who, but are they in the same industry or do you talk to people that’s in a broad range of businesses in the Mastermind?
LYDIA 30:06 Again, this is a very individual decision for everybody so I’m going to preface it with that, but what really works for me is to hear what other businesses are doing. Because I think you can become so insulated in the world of film making, that you really miss out on the trends on what other businesses are doing. So, my Mastermind is with women and it’s not that…we’d love to have a man join us if they ever chose to, but this is a very powerful group of incredibly successful women, and they’re of a variety of fields. One’s in retail, one is in marketing. We just have a plethora. One is, her husband is a really high end hair dresser, I hate to use the word dresser…hair designer. She’s run his empire for years.
So, we have a wide range of women and what I love about the group and the Mastermind, is that it pushes me to stay on target, to commit to certain things, to really be on top of my game because I’m showing up…We meet quarterly, so every quarter we talk about here’s what we’ve done in this quarter and here are our goals. It’s a very strategic, goal-oriented…Obviously, if you didn’t meet a particular goal, you just talk about obstacles that got in your way, but the learning experience is incredible. These women ask questions that I never would have thought of on my own, and that’s the value piece for me.
CARL 31:53 See, I think that is a great tip for our listeners, because I’m going to venture to say that a lot of our listeners are freelancers and are in business for themselves. They’re hired guns. I think that’s a piece that’s often overlooked, is having that mentoring from a Mastermind group, if you will. And like you, I prefer to talk to a lot of people who are outside of what I do, because I think that sparks creative thought and they’re able to look at things objectively. Where I’m so entrenched in code or I’m so entrenched in video, sometimes I can’t see forest for the trees and that’s having someone from the outside looking in and ask those thought-provoking questions that make you think. I see a lot of value in that.
CHRIS 32:42 I think the other thing about this topic that’s really important it’s…it seems to me I’ve seen this in some National Geographic special or something, where the animal goes to the watering hole and while one animal is drinking, the other ones kind of stand guard. They’re checking the horizon making sure the predators aren’t coming. It seems to me there’s like a biblical story about testing the soldiers and the ones that…
CARL 33:14 Gideon.
CHRIS 33:15 Gideon? The guys that just stick their face in the water to drink, they’re not going to last long. They’re not long for this world. But, the guys that cup the water and bring it up to drink, they’re keeping an eye on their horizon. I think that in business, we totally have to do the exact same thing and it’s very easy, in this business in particular, just to be completely mired down in knobs and tech and filters and cameras and cables, and which drive dock, blah, blah, blah. To have somebody, and in your case, Lydia, it’s you with your head up, checking the horizon and keeping in touch with all of the other aspects of not just the business or the industry, but like the whole world.
I recently had a conversation with somebody not in this industry, but they were in another business and I don’t want to say, but they were like…Kodak was one of their clients. And again, not in the film making world at all, and they were shocked when Kodak shut down all of their stuff that involved them. They were like, “Really?” I go, “Yeah, have you not been paying attention? Film is on the way out.” “Oh yeah, we didn’t really notice that.” You have to look at the world as a whole. The beauty of what Shane and Lydia has, is that Lydia’s looking over Shane’s shoulder while he’s busy doing what he does. But as individuals, you need to divide your time. There are days when you really have to be entrenched in the buttons and the cameras and the filters and the mice and all that stuff. But on your down days, you need to be looking at the whole world, because it’s important to see what’s going on and not be blindsided when one of your clients goes out of business because people aren’t using film anymore, you know?
LYDIA 35:18 Chris, that’s such an important point. I’d love to also dive in with in the global trending, because I think that we can get very US-centric. This is the value of travel. One of the things that my dad, and I keep telling him how vital he is in my life, he’s trending Asian film for me, and what’s happening in the Asian marketplace, and what’s important there and what technology they’re using and he’s so into this. He wants us to succeed and he’s my Asian contact person. He’s like, “Oh, my gosh. This movie was huge.” It’s so sweet because he believes in the global perspective as well. One of our directors, Po Chen, and she very much stays in touch with that market and what’s happening and spends time in Hong Kong.
So, I’d just like to add that piece, because I think that we can become very America-centric. I think part of our job is to really understand what’s happening in Europe and what’s going on in Asia, and how is that impacting our film making, here in the US.
CARL 36:40 I think that’s a good point and I think it’s reflected in the way a lot of people deal with change. With change in the economy, the change in technologies and things like that. Because what happens is…and I’m guilty of this, too. I’m constantly trying to figure out how to reprogram my own thinking on things. But, people will start thinking well, we’ve got to protect the jobs. We’ve got to legislate this, we’ve got to corral that, so we can maintain the status quo. But the reality is, it is a global market. Technology is going to keep on marching. We can’t just corral it all in and make it not change. Change is the only thing that’s constant, to borrow an old cliché there.
CHRIS 37:29 I actually heard…
LYDIA 37:30 And you know…I’m sorry, Chris. Go ahead, I don’t want to cut in on you.
CHRIS 37:32 I actually heard that Web Service is taking status quo out of the dictionary. I’m kidding.
CARL 37:40 Maybe so. Go ahead, Lydia.
LYDIA 37:42 I was just going to say that control is such an illusion, and film industry…I think that when you get to a certain point in life, and maybe for some it’s a different age than others, but it really is such an illusion that we have any control. I think what we’re responsible for is keeping up our skill set and being proactive and the way that we show up every day. I think it’s so important to really embrace change and have a fluidity.
We try to do that as much as possible as a business, where people have a diverse skill set, they can do more than one job, if you will. And, it’s not based around ego, and this is what I do and you can’t force me out of it. Because the world is changing at such a rapid pace, and I think for film makers, what is critical is just being present, doing the best job that you can do, having the greatest attitude, and getting rid of rigidity.
CARL 38:57 Yeah, and I think Hurlbut Visuals is a reflection of that, because it seems like it’s structured in such a way that there’s multiple revenue streams, it’s looking ahead to the future, it’s providing education. Tell us a little bit about how Hurlbut Visuals came to be what it is today and where you see it going tomorrow.
LYDIA 39:19 Sure. This is actually a really fun story, Shane and I…he was on Act of Valor, shooting in Puerto Rico. I hadn’t seen him a lot because he was coming and going, shooting. He said, “You really need to come to Puerto Rico. It’s so beautiful.” I’d never been and he talked me into leaving the kids for a few days, and off I went. It is just a paradise to anybody who’s never been there. I found myself with some time to really sit and think. This is when I had just said to Christiana, “You know what? I really need to turn my focus to my husband and just kind of build out my own thing.” I had the gift of a week there, and that’s really how it started. And that’s when I said to Shane, and he tells this story frequently, “I’m going to brand you.” [laughter] Shane was terrified at the point. He was like, “What are you talking about? I’m just a guy that shoots movies. That’s what I do.”
So, that’s how it all started. My web developer, Ryan of Rhino Technologies, is like my brother, truthfully. We just have this amazing relationship. Ryan and I started, he from the website because I am not tech-oriented and I certainly could no more build a website than the man in the moon. I said, “Here’s my vision.” He and I really started from the ground up, and he was my first collaborator.
It has built out and it has changed so much from there, but it was originally based on Shane’s pioneering ability with this 5D, based on what he had learned from Act of Valor. Everything started with a blog and educationally giving back. Gradually, Hurlbut Visuals kind of built itself, if you will, with some guidance. My team came to me in extraordinary ways and I’m so blessed and grateful, and that’s really what I want to come across. So, it started with Ryan from the web side. Doug and Ann came at very similar times.
Ann Gaither, my operations manager, came from Barry Anderson. We were planning our educational boot camp, the one that we had done in 2010, and I said, “Oh, my gosh, Barry. I need somebody I can trust and somebody that understands our aesthetic and is going to have amazing customer service. He said, “You need Ann and I’m willing to share her.” So, Barry and I share Ann Gaither with both of our businesses. She is phenomenal and Ann is self-starter who just knows what needs doing. She’s done event planning for ever and you just literally throw her tasks and they’re done. She’s brilliant and she can pretty much do anything asked.
Doug, my business development guy. Doug say Shane speak in San Diego. He said, ”This sounds so fascinating, what you all are doing. I want to be a part of it.” Now, Doug has a degree in law. He’s got a degree in engineering, he’s brilliant. I said I really could use some help with business strategy, because I’m a mom, I have two kids, I have a husband on the road for six months. This started out as a very part-time job for me.
The part-time job grew over time. Doug is my SVP of business development where I can just say to him, “Please take these balls off my plate.” He totally has a sense of who we are and where we’re going. It was really funny, because Doug is also a gifted still photographer that really wanted to learn motion in the way that Shane was doing it. He’s had all sorts of roles. One time, he was Shane’s assistant for a few weeks which was hilarious, because Shane’s never been so organized In his entire life.
Doug has played a variety of roles under the Hurlbut Visuals umbrella. So, every person in my team has come in such an extraordinary way. It’s been amazing. Then Q for Revolution Cinema Rentals was a gift from a friend. He said this is the perfect guy to run the rental division. It’s been such an extraordinary experience along the way.
CARL 44:10 It sounds like choosing the right people is one key element that points to the success of Hurlbut Visuals. How do you know that you’ve got the right person in place?
LYDIA 44:24 That’s an excellent question, Carl. I think it’s a combination of really…the skill set, I would say, is probably one of the most important elements that I look for. I also look for proactivity and an inherent leadership quality.
CARL 44:48 How would that manifest when somebody comes to you? How would you see if that leadership ability is there?
LYDIA 44:54 If I set up a scenario within the interview, and I’ve gotten much better at interviewing over time. And I think when you have your interview skill set down, and you’re really an excellent listener…I use my intuition, truthfully, a lot with people. I really listen to it. Now, it’s finding the right person for the right job that they love. I really ask people what is it that turns them on, what do they enjoy doing. Because you could have the most talented human being on the planet, but if you put them in a job that they hate, they’re out of there. You can see their misery, right? So, I think it’s really asking the right questions and listening to that. I think for women and men, you know what’s interesting on intuition?
Men use their intuition all the time. Shane does, but they just don’t really talk about it as much as women do. There’s a wonderful book called One by Lance Secretan, and it’s a leadership book and it’s about being whole and you can’t divide yourself into all of these compartments. He talks about the importance, that has been studied, actually, at Harvard, on the importance of intuition and for 21st century business and mediation. Those two key elements are what make very successful 21st century executives, and I thought that was fascinating.
CARL 46:46 I’m going to put that in the show notes.
CHRIS 46:49 We have intuition, we just don’t get credit for it very often.
LYDIA 46:54 That’s so true, Chris. Men have amazing intuition, they do. And they use it all the time. I just think women talk about it more.
CARL 47:05 Yeah we haven’t talked about intuition once in a 106 episodes, have we?
CHRIS 47:10 There’s always some new topic to approach.
CARL 47:12 That’s going to be episode 108, intuition. You’re right, I think that is…it’s almost like spidey-senses to me. I can feel something go off when I meet somebody. It’s like my con meter is on all the time. Of course, I don’t want to by cynical all the time. I want to be positive. I want to see the good in people as well. That’s a good point. I never really thought of it quite like that. Go ahead, Chris. I’m sorry.
CHRIS 47:51 I have a question that just sort of came to me. Getting back to film making. Lydia, what is your favorite movie that Shane has shot?
LYDIA 48:05 Oh, that’s so tough. I have to say I believe it’s Greatest Game for the cinematography and for the incredible story, and that’s followed up really closely by Rat Pack, his very, very first feature.
Again, they’re both kind of period pieces. I love each movie that Shane did because it has such special meaning for me. Obviously, Act of Valor for the pioneering, for the incredible story of the Seals and what they do for our country every single day.
And for the fact that it was the beginning of Hurlbut Visuals. Each movie kind of has a story to me, based on our lives and so it’s very, very hard to…and I’ve seen Shane grow as a cinematographer and stretch himself through every single movie. But personally, I feel Greatest Game was some of the most beautiful cinematography that he’s done. That’s just my personal…Terminator was his first big action, blockbuster movie. I mean, they all have…It’s really hard, it’s hard because I’m attached to them all.
CARL 49:31 One of my favorites, and actually it was the first time I had ever heard of Shane Hurlbut, but it was the Skulls. My wife had…actually, she says, “Carl you’ve got to see this. You’ve got to watch this movie.” I put her off for a long time, because I was just, you know, I’m always…I’ve got to work on this. I need somebody to help me with this. I’m always a skeptic about things. But she said, “This is a really good movie. You’ve got to watch it. You’ve got to watch this.”
So finally, we rented the movie and I sat down and watched it, and I was totally blown away. So I looked up who’s the director of photography on that? Shane Hurlbut. So, you just kind of file that away and when the Digital Convergence Revolution started happening, I said, “Oh, I know where I know that name. It was the movie The Skulls.”
LYDIA 50:20 That’s so great and I love that. And I think what’s special for Shane about that, that was obviously his second movie ever with director Rob Cohen. For him, it’s his relationship with every single director and how much fun they have together in creating this amazing art form. That’s really where Shane’s…he gets to work with Scott Waugh on A Need for Speed, who was one of the directors for Bandito Brothers that did Act of Valor. They just have such a synergistic way of working together, and the art is enhanced because of their relationship. And I think if you really look at the history of most directors and cinematographers, that is the case.
CARL 51:15 You know, we’ve already been talking for almost…well, a little over an hour here. I’ve got some listener questions and I was just wondering if you might take a moment just to address a couple of questions from our listeners, here at the Digital Convergence Podcast.
LYDIA 51:28 I’d love to, Carl.
CARL 41:29 This first one is from Kevin Fitzgerald and this is what he says, “I love listening to the podcast…” Wait a minute, that’s not the question. Let’s see. He says, “My question is this. What advice do you have for someone who is at the beginning of his or her career. How do you take a love for film making a few completed projects and turn that into a career? I think a lot of us who listen to the show are growing in our technical proficiency, but still don’t know how to turn it into something that pays the bills. I’d love to have your perspective.”
LYDIA 52:02 That is such a great question, because I think it really applies to so many people. Hopefully, what helps is what we’ve been able to give our interns. I am going to give an example because I think that’s very specific. We have an internship program that we developed, and really part of my job is figuring out when somebody is ready to fly on their own, if you will. I think it’s getting as much experience as possible in a variety of different areas, which makes you very marketable. So, I’m sorry, Carl, what was the name of the person who asked this question?
CARL 52:46 Kevin, Kevin Fitzgerald.
LYDIA 52:48 Kevin. So, I would say to Kevin, really taking the experience because the passion of film makers is extraordinary. So, taking his experience and really finding what other projects he can go on through connections, through friends of friends. Our interns can go on set. Our latest intern, Drew, really has a desire to be a gaffer, that is his dream. So, I called Shane’s gaffer, John, who has been so experienced and said, “Hey, could you host Drew on the set for a day to get some experience?”
It went incredibly well and he’s going to go back again. I think it’s really opening yourself up to the experience and the money will follow. It’s really how your attitude is. If they see you as a hardworking, “whatever it takes” type of human being, that’s incredibly attractive to film makers. And not somebody who is punching a clock or has an issue. I think the less entitled everybody can be, and the more open to the experience and present in the moment again, makes you very attractive. Asking questions, seeing things, the proactivity of seeing what needs doing before it becomes a bleeding need on set, that type of thing.
CHRIS 54:19 I have a bleeding need story. I first met you guys on the boot camp. At the time, I was on crutches. I couldn’t walk, I was a wreck. I had just been in a car accident, but I wanted to be there for that job. I was sitting next to my car, waiting for data to get delivered to me from the cameras and it was during one of the shoot days, where you guys had…I think you had four or five different sets going on where the different teams were rotating around.
All of a sudden, bursting out of one of the doors, is Shane and he’s got a case under his arm that had to have weighed 70 pounds. And he was running from one set to the other. It was across the alley in another building. I thought, “Oh, my goodness…this guy is like a tornado. You guys had a huge crew and it was a wonderful event, and there was plenty of people there and it shocked me that, really? There’s not somebody Shane could have sent to the other set with a piece of gear that they needed? But no, he’s on his own, bolting across this alley way to get to the other building where people were shooting some other scene.
LYDIA 55:37 Well, yeah…go ahead, Chris. Sorry.
CHRIS 55:40 I remember thinking that energy on a set is so, it’s undeniable. When you see somebody as a young person who is trying to make an impression, I always say to people, “Really? You’re going to stand there with your hands in your pockets? You can’t find something to do?” You want to bring that kind of energy. You know, as a young kid I don’t know if you want to be running between sets, but Shane obviously knew what he was doing and whatever was in that box, had to be on the other set and he was going to get it there as soon as possible. But, you’re always looking for that. You’re looking for somebody that has enthusiasm and is you know, always looking to make something a little better.
LYDIA 56:33 I agree and I have to tell you, in terms of the financial piece because everybody’s concerned about paying their bills and I totally get it. There is a bit of paying your dues. However; what I’ve noticed about our guys is that they will actually pool their money to somebody that’s a PA and there’s no money there and say, “Hey, you worked so hard today. You know, here’s a $100.” I think a camera PA or a set PA or whatever, if production can’t give a stipend, our guys take it upon themselves to really dive into their own pockets and say, “We really appreciate and value the work that you’ve done here today. Thank you so much.” I love that, because then you’re valued.
You are making money, because we all have to pay bills and I think we all understand that. And until you can get yourself to the point of really making enough, I think really be willing to do a position like a PA or a camera PA. And, just getting in there and having people noticed you, because I’ve done the same thing throughout my career before I became an entrepreneur. It’s how can I distinguish myself, set myself apart, and really show people that I’m a value-add.
CHRIS 57:57 I have an intern question, because this is something that we’ve talked about at Slice, about getting some interns in. Our roadblock or our speed bump to dealing with that is the fear of feeling like, you take these people, you train them and then all of a sudden, they’re out there. They just leave you. How do you deal with that in terms of…it sounds like it’s not really an issue and that the interning…how do you deal?
LYDIA 58:38 I appreciate that question very much. I would say that we…you know, our intern program has evolved based on needs. We really didn’t know what it was going to look like when we first started it, so we were very authentic and candid with our interns and said, “Look. This is the first time we’re doing anything like this. Let’s put a box around it in terms of parameters. Let’s make it for X amount of time, let’s say three months so it’s valuable for you. We can give you a great learning experience, that much we can guarantee.
And, we will try to get you out on set, I’m just trying to be as specific as possible in our case, as much as we can so that you have the set experience.” Shane, thankfully, took a lot of time with our interns to go over lighting and to go through his movies. That was a great learning tool for them. How did he choose a certain life for a certain scene or a certain camera angle? We’ve learned, truthfully, Chris, what works and what doesn’t. We’ve revamped our intern program based on feedback from our interns.
For us, what works is we’re now going to be offering a paid internship program that has a lot of flexibility and fluidity because a lot of people are in school. So they want two days a week or three days a week. We’re also going to make it for a set amount of time and then re-evaluate. That usually looks to be somewhere in the neighborhood of three months and usually no more than six. That is what works really, really well, so far, for us and for our interns. I hope that helps and that’s our experience. I know it’s very different in your world. I think we learned the most based on feedback from our interns.
CHRIS 01:00:45 That’s very helpful, thank you.
CARL 01:00:47 Wow, it’s just amazing to me how a simple question like that can really just turn into a great discussion. I really appreciate your insight on that. And Kevin, thank you for sending the question in and I appreciate your comments about the Podcast. You say you love listening to the Podcast, “You all have such great experience.” Well, we’re still growing in that, Kevin. I have to tell you. This is an interesting point he makes here. He says, “The information you share is accessible. You don’t surround your Podcast with a bunch of meaningless jargon, or talk down to those of us who are new kids on the block. You guys are all super encouraging, and it means a lot to those of us just starting out, so thanks.” Thank you, Kevin. We appreciate that very, very much. And by the way, he’s from St. Louis.
MITCH 01:01:32 Hooray.
CARL 01:01:33 We’ll do one more and then we’re going to have to wrap this show up. This is from Jason in Seattle. Earlier, Chris has mentioned Shane’s vigorous energy. Jason says, “I view Lydia as the producer of the Hurlbut story. I wonder if she could talk a bit about how she channels Shane’s vigorous energy and passion as a person into the story of their business.” And also he wonders if Lydia would painting a picture before and after of Hurlbut Visuals prior to her rebranding it as such. I’m not sure what he means by that. He says Shane has become a beloved household name in the visual film community, but how has this rebranding changed the way clients see him? Oh, okay. That’s a mouthful, Lydia.
LYDIA 01:02:21 Yes, that’s a three-parter there. [laughter]
CARL 01:02:28 I just loaded it all up at one time.
LYDIA 01:02:30 Alright, Jason. I’m diving in man, and I hope I serve you well on this answer. In terms of the
Hurlbut Visuals story, Shane is a wild man, and I’ve known that since I started dating him. He does
have a crazy amount of energy, much more than I do. I think it’s really Hurlbut Visuals for him,
because you can imagine Shane before Hurlbut Visuals.
Shane is “I shoot commercials and I shoot features and then I have down time.” Shane does well with a little bit of down time but not a lot. So, Hurlbut Visuals has really been a terrific…before I was coming up with remodel projects or cleaning projects or what is Shane going to do with his time, right? Now, this is a wonderful way for him to give back and he loves speaking, and he loves educating. Those are really his two passions other than film making. I think he’s really talented at both of those. His mom taught school for 30 years, and she was an incredible teacher and leader. So, Hurlbut Visuals has really been at outlet for Shane to take all of this energy and fiery passion, and I’m hoping it’s a win-win for everybody.
I think the rebranding piece I will address with…Hurlbut Visuals initially was comprised of a lot. And from a business perspective, when you’re first starting out as an entrepreneur, you take your great ideas and throw them against the wall and kind of see what sticks, see what people respond to, see what draws an income stream, see what you enjoy doing. Hurlbut Visuals used to be production and education, and we had our DSLR rental division.
What I learned is that…and where the rebranding took place, recently is that we rebranded what used to Hurlbut Visuals DSLR Cinema Rentals is not Revolution Cinema Rentals. So, that was the rebranding piece and Hurlbut Visuals is really now education and production, because they’re synergistic and go hand-in-hand.
We wanted to create a boutique creative collective of cinematographers that were Shane and a group of colleagues and that’s really Revolution Cinema Rentals. We do so much more than rent gear, and that is really camera testing and having this incredible pioneering space that allows cinematographers to really come and play, and do their thing. I hope that answered the rebranding piece. The last word on branding, because I really love branding, is just being incredibly clear on who you are and what you do. Where brand confusion happens is when there’s a lack of clarity. I think it’s really as simple as that. Some people get…they go, “Oh, I get it.” Because when you’re in a business, it’s hard to see when waters are getting muddied.
CHRIS 01:06:13 Yes, and that’s exactly the problem. That’s been my problem. I’m a man of many interests. I like a
lot of different things and focus does come very difficult for me, because I love to do many
different things. When I got into this business, I got into it from the standpoint that I would be a
hired gun. I’d be this production company. Boy, did not my world get turned upside down a couple
of years ago, because I just totally changed everything mid-ship. Now, I am what I call a content
producer. So, you can see the challenges I have. I’m working on it.
LYDIA 01:06:49 I think it’s great and again, it’s really knowing what you do well and letting the world know that.
You know, it’s the USP or whatever, I don’t like that term, but when people say, “Hey, what do you
do?” Then you have that really concise answer with clarity. There’s a wonderful woman, Marie Nemeth, who I just have to give a shout-out to, because she’s a cancer survivor and she’s phenomenal. She’s written tons of books. She’s a coach. And she’s one of those wise women that when she walks in a room, you notice her presence.
She talks about clarity, focus, ease, and grace. She said if you can communicate what you do with those four pieces, she said you’re right on. I thought what a wonderful…I can remember that. Clarity, focus, ease, and grace. So, she’s written tons of books about money and energy of money, how to be a better leader and business woman. Again, it’s Marie Nemeth.
CARL 01:08:05 Very good, I’ll put that in the show notes. If you could send me those links, that would be helpful.
LYDIA 01:08:10 Absolutely.
CARL 01:08:11 Sounds like some great reading. That’s what I like to do is fill everybody’s Kindles up for a week
until the next show. By the way, in deference to Kevin where he says we don’t use jargon, we
threw out a USP. So, I’m going to explain what that is real quick, right?
MITCH 01:08:30 Right.
CARL 01:08:31 Unique selling proposition.
LYDIA 01:08:34 So sorry I broke a cardinal rule of the show. [laughter]
CARL 01:08:38 Oh no, you did not break the rules.
LYDIA 01:08:40 Sorry, Kevin. Oh, no.
CARL 01:08:44 Google it.
CHRIS 01:08:47 I’ve never heard of that.
CARL 01:08:48 Yeah. Unique Selling Proposition.
CHRIS 01:08:52 The term back in the 80’s and early 90’s was core competency, but nobody could pronounce
competency, so I can see why they changed it to USP.
CARL 01:09:01 Alright. Well, it’s time to move on, here. So Lydia, where can people find out more about you and
what’s happening at Hurlbut Visuals?
LYDIA 01:09:10 Absolutely, just the website Hurlbutvisuals.com and also our other business, which again, it’s a
creative collective collaboration and RevolutionCinemaRentals.com.
CHRIS 01:09:26 Very cool.
CARL 01:09:27 Very nice. We haven’t heard from Mitch. I don’t know if he’s dropped off. Mitch, are you still there?
MITCH 01:09:34 I am just so fascinated by Lydia, I am just speechless.
CARL 01:09:39 And you’ll be heading to Hurlbut Visuals as soon as we get off this podcast, right?
MITCH 01:09:45 That’s right. Well, I have to eat breakfast but that’s a whole other story.
CARL 01:09:50 You’ve been grousing about breakfast all morning long. [laughter]
LYDIA 01:09:53 Mitch, I’m going to buy your lunch, okay? Now that I’m all red in the face from the compliment.
Thank you so much, Mitch. I’ve got your back for lunch.
MITCH 01:10:03 Okay, great.
CARL 01:10:04 Mr. Chris Fenwick at Chrisfenwick.com, you’re going to be holed up at Global Dynamics in Eureka
for the rest of the day, right?
CHRIS 01:10:13 We’ll call it Global Dynamics in Eureka. No, I’m actually at the Charles Schwab Corporate
Headquarters in downtown San Francisco.
CARL 01:10:21 Very nice. I do want to give a shout out to Chris Simmons. We’ve been talking a lot about business
and Masterminds and that sort of thing today. Very grateful to Lydia for bringing those things up. My friend, Chris Simmons, is offering a free 30-day membership to their Kre8insider community. You can get more information about that, sign up for that at Kre8insight and I’ll provide a…excuse me, that’s Kre8, K-R-E-8-insider.com. I’ll provide a link to that in the show notes as well.
If you want to learn more about the business of video production, this is the place to go. You can find out more about this podcast at DigitalFilm.TV. We really appreciate the feedback, your questions and comments. Those really make the show. Just like we heard from Kevin today and Jason from Seattle, really good questions. It helps us, it keeps us on our toes. It keeps us thinking.
We’ve got more questions that we’re queuing up. In a couple of weeks, we’ll have another Q&A episode. Those are a lot of fun, lot of fun to do. Send us your voicemail or send an email, a Tweet. Whatever you’re comfortable with. Just ask your question or make your comments, and we’ll be glad to share it on our show. In fact, DC Reels, he commented on Twitter, he says, “Thanks so much for answering my iMac question on the podcast. Very helpful answers, too. Kudos.” We certainly appreciate that that’s helpful to you, and we want to thank our show sponsor, CrumplePop…[laughter]
MITCH 01:12:02 You’d catch me at the wrong time.
CARL 01:12:05 CrumplePop, film and broadcast effects for Final Cut Pro.
MITCH 01:12:10 You’d think I would be ready, but I’ve been moving …
CARL 01:12:15 You are a man on the road. You are imbedded in L.A., so that’s really alright.
MITCH 01:12:18 Well, it really makes me mad, because I especially brought my exact, special crumple paper.
CARL 01:12:26 We don’t want you to be mad, we want you to be happy, okay?
MITCH 01:12:30 I brought it.
CARL 01:12:31 So here, we’re going to do it, okay? [laughter] A special thank you to our show sponsor,
CrumpePop, [sound effect] film and broadcast effects for Final Cut Pro. See? You feel better, right?
MITCH 01:12:41 I do, I do. [laughter]
CARL 01:12:44 And we want to give a shout out to Darren Yamamoto, our 140 character marketer. He says
there’s nothing better than listening to the DCP podcast when I edit, that’s cool. Please keep spreading the word about the podcast and thank you so much for your support.
MITCH 01:13:01 Who’s are tentative guest for next week?
CARL 01:13:03 You know, I’m working on that. You had somebody lined up or were trying to get somebody lined
up and are we…?
MITCH 01:13:11 I was asked to call on Friday to confirm that, but tentatively we have Vincent Laforet for next
CARL 01:13:20 Awesome. Vincent Laforet will be on next week, hopefully. Then after that, we’ll probably have
Dale Grahn who did this iPad App.
MITCH 01:13:32 For CrumplePop.
CARL 01:13:33 That’s right. Very cool. It’s going to be an exciting couple of weeks, and there will be more after
that, no doubt. Folks, it’s been a pleasure. Lydia, thank you so very, very much to take time out to talk with us today.
LYDIA 01:13:46 Thank you so much. It’s been a blast, gentlemen. It’s really been fun. Thank you for having me.
CARL 01:13:53 And let Shane know that we still love him, too. But, we just wanted to talk to you today. We’ll
have him on the show before long.
LYDIA 01:14:00 I appreciate that and I know he always loves coming on, and telling some crazy stories.
That’ll be good.
CARL 01:14:06 Yeah, that will be great. Alright everybody, let’s get back out there and go shoot some video.
That’s a wrap. [music]
“All you need is six buttons,” he said. “We can revolutionize the industry.”
It was a bit hard to believe. Color grading was a highly technical, semi-mysterious science. Power windows, HSL keys, tracking masks, eyedroppers, scopes, giant control surfaces in dark suites – our understanding was that you needed power tools to even play the game. A lot more than six buttons.
Nevertheless, it was difficult to discount what Dale was saying. Dale Grahn was a color timer – the film world antecedent to the digital colorist. And he wasn’t just any color timer – he had crafted the look of Saving Private Ryan, Gladiator, Munich, and hundreds of other films. When Apocalypse Now needed to be re-timed for Apocalypse Now Redux, they went to Dale Grahn. When Steven Spielberg needed a color timer, he went to Dale Grahn.
Dale doesn’t immediately slice up the image and start tweaking it. As a color timer, you don’t have those tools. You have to look at the image as a whole, and work with it on its own terms. It’s an absolutely, fundamentally different way to look at an image. Sometimes, that’s a lot more limiting than working with digital tools. Power windows are handy.
Often, the best way to approach these questions is to get back to basics. With, for instance, just six buttons.
“The goal is to learn how to think color,” Dale had said when we first met. It makes sense to us now.
This is just our first collaboration with Dale – we also have some some very exciting tools for film and video editors in the works. For now, we hope you enjoy Dale Grahn Color for iPad. With the app launched, we finally have time to site down with a hot chocolate and try to figure out why, in that one lesson, Dale added those two points of cyan…
To learn more check out http://www.dalegrahncolor.com