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IBC SuperMeet Amsterdam 2008

By Ben King

Despite some initial worries and a few negative people who thought a European meeting of FCP users would be a flop, the first annual IBC Final Cut Pro Users Group SuperMeet was a roaring success.

Too much to read? Download the Podcast here (4.2MB)

Michael Horton trying an East African 'Jet-lag' cure.
Ben King (me), Mei-ing & Delicia.

Wednesday 10th September 2008

I flew into Amsterdam and met my friend at Schipol Airport. Mei-ing was waiting with a MASSIVE café latte (the editor's best friend) which I badly needed due to the previous late night working on a project.

Mei-ing is studying to be a doctor and in her "spare" time also co-produces the Dutch Manga and Art group "Cheescake! Studio". I would be staying at Mei-ing's place for the week.

This wasn't my first time in "the 'Dam" so I called Michael Horton who had flown in earlier that day and arranged for us to go to a great East African / Ethiopian Restaurant around the corner called Azmarino. My other good friend Delicia (founder and the other producer of Cheescake! Studio) joined Mei-ing, Mike and myself, in celebrating the first night there.

The food, which is wonderful and very spicy, is served on a sort of pancake and you use extra pancakes to eat with. Mike and I got rather drunk on Coconut and Palm Beer which is quite strong and the girls were captivated as Mike recounted the odd war story from his time in the industry.

At the end of the evening the girls and I went back to work on the Cheescake! Studio magazines and Mike went back to deal with his jet lag with a pillow and a duvet.

Thursday 11th September 2008

The following day, Mike and I went up the the RAI centre to get our passes and travel tickets, which give you full free public transport around Amsterdam for the duration of IBC.

It's well worth registering and going along to the IBC for the day as you can then get a free tram to the SuperMeet.

There was a real busy buzz as crews were setting up in preparation for the IBC opening on Friday. Unfortunately the Fish'n'Chip van was closed. Boooo!

Mike and I headed back to his hotel room to record a spot for the Digital Production Buzz previewing the SuperMeet and the IBC report that we were to do for the following Thursday.

Later that day Ramy Katrib, a.k.a the Man who put the "Pro" in Final Cut and founder of Digital Film Tree, turned up with his suitcase and a smile.
Ramy is one of the nicest guys you could ever hope to meet, a true gentleman and real party animal!

Not long after Ramy arrived, Rick Young from MacVideo turned up with all his equipment.

Imagine the scene - Mike, Rick and Ramy in one pokey hotel room with Macs, iPhones, cameras, tripods, microphones and cables everywhere!

As it was such a nice evening, we all went for a walk-around and stopped for food and drinks on the Rembrandtplein (Rembrandt Square) to breathe in the lovely atmosphere and relax before the mania that would ensue.

IBC at the RAI Centre, Amsterdam
Rick , Mike and Ramy

Ramy, Rick and myself waiting for the Tram to RAI

Friday 12th September 2008

On the Friday morning, Rick and I went to scope out the IBC to arrange interviews for MacVideo. There was some amazing technology on display from over (according to the brochure) "1400 leading manufacturers and specialist suppliers".

We got totally lost in the sprawling mass of geeks and industry people, who, like ourselves, were there to see the latest and greatest.

Some of the cool things I saw were...

The Phantom Camera by Vision Research and their new CineMags, which are basically hot swappable 256GB and 512GB non-volatile memory packs that can directly record the Phantom's high speed material.

Now when recording directly to the CineMags you get up to 450fps at 2K and up to 90fps on the Phantom 65 in 4K.

You could still record up to 1000fps in HD and up to 125fps in 4K to the camera's internal flash memory and then offload to the CineMags. Cool stuff if you need that extra slow slooow-mo.

Tucked away in a far corner of the show were a couple of really cool companies...

One was a French company called "Soft Lights" who were demonstrating their "WiFi Series" of lights, which you can control with a laptop, PDA and very soon they'll have the control software for the iPhone.

They currently use their own lighting range but I heard they are looking at supporting third-party lighting systems in the near future.

The other manufacturer was a Swedish company called IKONOSKOP who make the worlds smallest super16mm film camera - the A-cam SP16.

They have now jumped on the digital bandwagon and announced the A-cam dII which records 12-Bit full 1920x1080 RAW at up to 60fps in Adobe's new DNG format.

It currently records to an 80GB SSD which can hold about 12 mins or I believe you can record directly to an HDCAM SR deck. The unit itself is tiny and has a very simple design and they offer a variety of lens mounts for either PL, Leica, IMS or C-Mount.

Price is expected to be around $9500.

An amazing announcement is that SONY is now licensing its SxS technology to other manufacturers.

The first company to use this will be JVC and the first units will be for the JVC GY-HD200/250 HD cameras.

The SxS units are expected to be released in Spring 2009 for €1400.

Additionally, to promote the uptake of the format, if you buy the camera and the Hard Disk Drive recorder between now and the launch, JVC will give you the SxS adaptor free! (Possibly Europe only - check with JVC in your area for more details).

That evening, Rick, Mike, Ramy and I went to the Blackmagic Party in the Eclipse nightclub on Rembrandtplein. There was a free bar, loads of food and "death by powerpoint", but joking aside, it was nice to meet some of the people behind the fantastic Blackmagic products.

It was here that I met for the first time, the man that put "Boss" into Boston, "Yoda voice" into any conversation and "Wasabi" into Michael Horton...

...That man is Daniel 'KingPin' Berube - Head Cutter of BOSFCPUG and along with Mike is co-producer of the The Final Cut Pro User Network SuperMeets. This guy is awesome and he's just amazing to hang-out with. Dan has what I like to call a "720° sense of humour".

Along with Dan's lovely wife Katy, we all went for a tourist-like wander around the streets of the 'Dam. Stopping by the Red Light District to take a look (but not touch!) at what I like to call '"Disneyland for Sex", which is a quite bizarre experience if you have never been there.

More bizarrely, there has been a recent move by fashion houses, to buy up properties once used as brothels. They put on a sort of mini-show in the windows instead of the usual call girls and were actually very watchable, so much so that they had crowds of people waiting to watch the performances that were like a sort of "live" advert.

The evening progressed with a fantastic meal in Chinatown and a few more beers to numb the pain in our feet from all the walking.

Dan & Katy Berube at Blackmagic in the Eclipse
Ramy, Mike, Katy, Rick & Dan

...don't ask.
Meing & I riding to the Kilk! Animation Festival

Saturday 13th September 2008

Got up late with what might be described as a hangover which could only be quelled with a super massive Café Latte...

Now there are no Starbucks in Holland - well there are 2 in Schipol Airport but not in the rest of the country. However if you want something similar, most of the "real coffee" shops and not the "coffee" shops will sell you an excellent caffeine hit.

The main chain of real coffee shops is called "The Coffee Company" and they do a great Double Ristretto Latte which has less caffeine and more flavour for those coffee lovers out there but will still wake up even the most slovenly media types!

After spending my morning drinking coffee and reading material that I had picked up at the show, I went to the IBC and met Rick to shoot an interview with SONY for MacVideo.

Later that afternoon I met up with Mei-ing to visit the Klik! Animation festival which this year ran over the same weekend as the IBC.

Even though the festival is in its infancy, it's well worth a visit, as it has a real diverse variety of animations from around the world, plus you can get a beer and watch the films!

Another event that coincided with the IBC this year, was the Cannes Lions Advertising Awards held at an amazing indoor beach complex - complete with sand. Unfortunately I didn't manage to get to this - maybe next year!

That evening, Mike, Dan, Katy and I attended the CalDigit Canal cruise which was a great opportunity to meet CalDigit users and vendors from the around of the world and get drunk!

Although I've been to Amsterdam many times before, I was a "Canal Booze Cruise Virgin" and the three CalDigit J's (Jon, Jared and Jeff) broke me in gently!

After the cruise, Mike and I shared transport to the AJA party (yes if you come to the IBC there are LOADS of parties!).

Now this would sound fairly innocuous, if it weren't for that fact that I was riding a bicycle and Mike sat pillion, holding on for dear life as we raced through the streets of the 'Dam in search of the next venue!

The AJA party was held behind the Rijksmuseum in the Cobra Café - lovely food and waitresses but unfortunately I didn't stay long as I had another date with The Rock Club Paradiso and some other of my friends from Amsterdam!

After dancing late into the night I crawled back in at around 4am... crashed out on the bed and fell asleep faster than a Narcoleptic on Temazepam!

Jeff & Mike on the banks of the Canal
Jared and I are not amused by the "Bunny" sketch

The Gashouder

When they said fly over for the SuperMeet...

Sunday 14th September 2008

At 8:30am I was rudely awoken by my phone's annoying alarm clock and I just had time to shower and get ready to meet Mike and Ramy at their hotel before the taxi arrived to take us to the venue.

The venue itself is called "The Gashouder". Its a fantastic building on the grounds of the beautiful Culture Park Westergasfabriek, which a little off the beaten track but easy to find and its only a short bicycle, tram or taxi ride from the centre of Amsterdam.

The Gashouder was formerly a giant gas storage tank and paranoid visions played through my mind - Michael Horton one of the world's biggest advocates of Final Cut, working as a double agent for Avid - gathering as many Final Cut Users together as possible - locking us all inside and tossing in a match!

The stage and screen had already been erected and the giant curtain separating the reception and the presentation area was hanging like a giant blue tidal wave across the entire expanse of the venue.

Whilst the AV crew set-up and ran through presentations, our first job of the day was to organise 500+ chairs for the expected audience - luckily Dan and Katy were already there and Mike, Ramy and myself were joined by Phil Ashby and Richard Atherton from the West of England Final Cut Pro User Group and Mike from All Access Passes, which made the process quick and painless. Well VIRTUALLY painless, considering I was either nursing a hangover or a fat chipmunk had found its way into my skull and was now gnawing away at my sinuses!

When everything was set up there was just time to sneak in a quick brunch at the café next to the Gashouder, before we all put our noses back to the grindstone to sort out all the sponsors' tables, the passes, raffle tickets, etc.

There was a steady stream of people who came early and they eagerly grabbed some of the Mediterranean food, wine or Dutch beer on offer. They made the most of the sponsors being relatively quiet to answer all manner of questions and to experience first-hand, some of their new products.

G-Technology had their G-RAID Mini2, a seriously portable 2x 2.5" HDD RAID with a Firewire connection which also carries the FireWire bus power and can be used alongside the eSATA port for a faster transfer rate, plus it has a built-in fan to keep the drives cool.

CalDigit where showing their range including the HDpro, HDone, their RAID Card with HDelement and their new Quadra RAID (now called the CalDigit VR) with USB2.0, FW400/800 and eSATA ports for which it has a maximum transfer of 200MBps! Prices start at $399 for the 500GB version and also comes in 1TB, 1.5TB and 2TB capacities. With a 3TB version using dual 1.5TB Seagate Hard disks coming soon.

Mike runs through the schedule with the AV crew
Jared Picune from CalDigit setting up their stand

The Future Store
Blackmagic Design

Martin Baker of Digital Heaven was demonstrating his new product "Loader", which will save time by converting MP3 and CAF files into AIFF before importing into FCP and organising them into project folders.

Focus Enhancements were showing off their new FS-5 Portable DTE Recorder with wireless logging and marking.

The Foundry were showing their first FCP plug-in suite called Furnace, which are really high-end - noise, wire, flicker removal and match grade plugins. Whilst Red Giant, Noise Industries and GenArts demonstrated their catalogue of plugins and filters.

Matrox showed their MXO2 (or AJA IOHD Killer as Dan likes to put it) portable IO solution for MacBookPro or MacPro.

Other vendors and manufacturers included LaCie, the Future Store, Glyph, Dynamic Drive Pool and the College of MultiMedia.

For the main show the attendees heard presentations from Apple, Blackmagic Design, Adobe, CalDigit and Thompson Grass Valley, amongst others.

Paul Saccone, Director of Technical Marketing at Apple's Applications Marketing group, announced (for the first time anywhere) that they are releasing a free update to Final Cut Pro 6 with support for Panasonic's AVCHD and built-in support for RED footage.

Paul showed the beta version of the new Log and Transfer that supports R3D files by putting them in a Quicktime wrapper with no transcoding! This means you can edit the 4K RED files (albeit in a 2K timeline) natively in Final Cut Pro and it will also preserve all metadata.

Apparently you will be able to send the timeline into Apple Color with all RAW parameters available in the Primary Room in a “RED” tab, where you can edit the RAW parameters like white balance, exposure, etc, etc.

Paul also showed the new Quicktime ProRes CODEC for Windows. Shame he didn't show a magic wand to turn PC users into Mac users but this is at least a move to integrate those with the short-sightedness to buy Windows machines back into the Final Cut Studio workflow.

Paul from Apple addresses the 700+ crowd

Miguel de Olaso
Ever wondered what the penthouse of the Deathstar looked like?

Miguel de Olaso, also known to Red Digital Cinema Camera users as MacGregor, showed some lovely footage from the RedOne and talked about workflow with Final Cut Studio 2.

QuVis announced a very exciting compressor plug-in called "Wraptor", that creates a DCI compliant JPEG2000 D-Cinema movie. Recently, Digital Cinema Packages (or DCPs) could cost upwards of $20,000 for a movie and the hardware to do this was expensive.

Apparently Mike Paulson of QuVis didn't think making DCPs should be so expensive. I like your thinking Mike.

Wraptor will cost an amazingly low $699 and enables users to do everything needed to create a DCP for distribution, including encoding JPEG2000 with a quality guarantee. It does MXF packaging, encryption, audio processing and colourspace conversion.

QuVis also said that Wraptor will produce a package that is 30% to 50% smaller than competitors' DCP solutions.

Karl Soule from Adobe previewed Creative Suite 4 Production Premium, with specific spotlight on an amazing new technology that is part of Soundbooth CS4.

The new feature called "Speech Transcription" does exactly what it says on the tin - converts speech to text. If this works half as well as it did in the demo then the time and cost saving in creating subtitles alone, would make it worth buying for many production companies.

However, one of the exciting applications of having speech transcribed easily, is using it as metadata for logging and finding specific clips for editing or even for internet searches.

Director of Marketing, Scott Sheehan at Thompson Grass Valley, showed some footage and the file-based workflow between their Infinity Camera and FCP.

The process is full 10-bit, 4:2:2, JPEG2000 that uses the I-J2K Suite from CineForm or an MPEG-2 HD workflow using the Telestream Flip4Mac solution.

Karl Soule
Scott Sheehan

Darius Fisher
Jeffrey Nachmanoff & Billy Fox

During the break, the attendees mingled, ate, drank and networked, and those who hadn't already done so - picked the brains of the sponsors in the reception area.

In the second half, Darius Fisher, Editor and FX wizard, showed us "Fuel" (formally Fields of Fuel) a documentary that won the Audience award at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.

Darius, who co-edited and produced the film, showed the trailer and various clips from the documentary which had the audience captivated. He also demonstrated how they used Final Cut Studio with Blackmagic products to make it all possible.

Rick Young from MacVideo showed us his top ten tips for Final Cut Pro, which had a lot of people talking about revising their workflow.

Writer and Director, Jeffrey Nachmanoff showed us how he shot his new thriller "Traitor" starring Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce and Saïd Taghmaoui.

Nachmanoff shot "Traitor" in Europe, Africa and North America and then sent footage back to editor Billy Fox, who used Final Cut Studio to edit, do a full audio mix and even visualise complex special effects.

Fox then put the offlines on his iWeb site, so that Nachmanoff could work out what he needed to do as the film was being shot.

Apple Pro article on Traitor

Finally, we had the world famous raffle! There was over $50,000 (€35,000) worth of prizes to give away.

With Mike and Dan hosting, Jeff from CalDigit as "that mad man on stage" and Darius Fisher calling the raffle numbers, the prizes went to crazy Europeans that definitely put and end to the idea that we are all a bit reserved this side of the pond.

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