NAB Show 2017

 Qtr, 2017

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show is as much about its conference and networking as it is about new equipment and services. This year’s event in Las Vegas was no exception. “Turning Wolverine into Logan: The Editing Team Talks Collaboration” drew many excited NAB-goers. The ACE-sponsored Creative Master Series session hosted film editors Dirk Westervelt, ACE, and Michael McCusker, ACE, along with VFX editor John Berri, and assistant editor Daniel Nussbaum.

Moderated by editor and University of Southern California professor Norman Hollyn, the panel shared how religiously they used previsualization for major action scenes. With an accompanying previs demo, the audience was able to see how both editors worked using this process. McCusker was quick to admit that even though it portrays an accurate representation of the scene, the previs does not show the suspense or tension a scene is supposed to have. So, it was the editor’s job to get those performances to uphold all of the story beats. Westervelt added, “In previs, you miss transitional moments but you need to honor the arrangement. You’re crossing your fingers that it all works in the end.”

Berri related how director James Mangold “loved working in previs then reworking the script and going straight to the editing room.” However, Mangold challenged all of them to have strong reasons to argue for their ideas. “Our director wants your point of view but then he’ll want to argue with you,” said Westervelt. “So you better have a strong reason why you made that cut.”

After explaining the previs process, the editors shared how essential it was to have a reliable first assistant editor create an efficient pipeline. Nussbaum was in charge of but not limited to dailies, exports, turnovers and even setting up Skype sessions for scene playback between team members. The editors added that they never planned beforehand on assigning scenes. It all just happened by who got to it first as the dailies came in.

Hollyn expressed how well the editors achieved the balance of setup and reveal during the movie’s most dramatic parts. “What are the decisions that make you say, let’s stay on this close-up for just a bit longer, or why do we prefer a character’s back side over their reaction?” he asked. McCusker and Westervelt said it was due to the incredible performances of their actors. “The tiny details allowed us more creative freedom and allowed us to tell our story,” McCusker said.

The panel concluded with advice to aspiring editors: Learn all of the editing software and keep cutting. “My adage is, always be locking,” advised Westervelt. “You don’t want the viewer to be looking beyond what’s in the cut even if it’s your very first one.” Overall, the Logan panel was filled with charisma and they made this a memorable experience for everyone. The NAB exhibition hall revealed industry trends including workflows for 4K and High Dynamic Range as well as for working in the cloud. Most fundamental to its strategy, Avid announced a relationship with Microsoft to develop cloud-based apps for the media and entertainment industry. It also reported that Microsoft Azure is its preferred cloud-hosting partner for the Media Central (Pro Tools, Media Composer) platform.

Avid is making a major play in the cloud, which is a significant step for the company,” said Avid Chairman and CEO Louis Hernandez, Jr. “This represents the culmination of our Avid Everywhere vision and strategy … which will open up significant growth prospects for the company.” Per the agreement, Microsoft “will invest additional resources and funding” to accelerate development of Avid cloud-based tools while Avid will exclusively offer Microsoft Azure hosting and media services to its customers. Avid also aims to make it easier for rerecording mixers to create Dolby Atmos immersive sound by hooking up its Pro Tools audio post-production system with the Dolby system.companies are working on a soon-to-be-released next version of Pro Tools that will offer native Atmos mixing capabilities for the multi-channel and object-based audio format. Avid is also making a version of Media Composer available for free. Media Composer | First is a cut-down version featuring four video tracks and eight audio tracks but with a number of functions present in the full fat software including publishing to social media channels including YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook.

Other companies including Lightworks, Blackmagic Design and most recently, FilmLight have released free software in a bid to attract new users. The highlight of Blackmagic’s news was its plans to bring the capabilities of its recently-acquired audio toolmaker Fairlight into DaVinci Resolve. Now in beta, DaVinci Resolve 14 effectively merges grading, editing, and now, sound. It also announced a faster playback engine and a visual effects application overhaul.

The Fairlight Audio system allows for up to 1000 tracks of 24-bit, 192kHz audio files. Blackmagic claims the new playback engine would allow 4K formats to be played back without any lag or stall issues. And the upgraded visual effects toolkit allows users to adjust facial features via Resolve’s new motion-tracking system. In addition to this, there will also be about 20 new plugins. The main focus of Adobe’s NAB show announcements was a set of updates to its Creative Cloud. Among new features are a camera shake deblur function and motion-graphics templates that allow users to add titles, animations and lower thirds to a video.

2017 NAB Show. Photos by Peter Zakhary