Q&A with Safe Harbor’s NLE Specialist Jeff Pulera
Q: How long have you been with Safe Harbor Computers?
A: I’ve been employed by Safe Harbor for about 4 years, but I’ve been a customer for over 20 years now! Safe Harbor was taking care of my computer and animation needs before I ever got into video editing.
Q: What is your background in video?
A: I began videotaping weddings in 1992, and that quickly grew to include corporate and event video production. Having no formal training, I learned as I went, doing a lot of reading along the way. As the internet took off, I found video-related forums to be of great benefit, providing networking with like-minded individuals.
Q: How do you feel about technology in video production?
A: Having the best tools means nothing if you don’t have the talent to back them up, but in the right hands, technology can really make a difference in productivity and quality. I’ve always kept up with new technologies, being the first in my market area to offer nonlinear editing, digital format video cameras, DVD authoring and HD video, for instance. I felt this gave me a leg up on the competition, being able to offer higher quality and new services ahead of my competition.
Q: How does this technology enhance creativity?
A: Creative people typically have a vision of how they want to move with a shoot or edit project, and the right tools allow them to unleash their creativity without constraints or compromises. It’s one thing to see a concept in your head, and another to actually have the tools available to make it a reality and be able to share it with an audience. For instance, the blockbuster movie Avatar has been on the drawing board for many years, but only recently did technology allow the movie to finally be produced as the director had envisioned it.
Q: Do you feel these tools are a good investment?
A: As with any purchase for any business, you have to be able to justify the expense. If you can show that the new software or hardware will improve workflow, save time and open new doors with clients, then it may be a good idea to move forward and grow your business. What new markets could you serve, what customer demand could be met, if you invest in new gear, and what will it mean to your bottom line? Those are a few considerations to factor in.
Q: Where is video delivery headed?
A: There is a certain market for Blu-ray disc, but overwhelmingly today, online delivery is becoming the new standard. Internet bandwidth has grown to where feature-length HD movie streaming is common, and new 4G phones provide streaming video on the go. Devices like Roku and AppleTV allow streaming video to be viewed on home theater systems. Video producers today need to be ready to handle the acquisition, editing and export of HD video to meet the needs of this growing market to remain competitive.
Q: What is the current trend in video cameras?
A: Tape is pretty much out of the picture, with almost all new camcorders recording to memory cards in either MPEG-2 or H.264-based formats. These cameras typically offer 720p, 1080i and 1080p recording modes in frame rates of 24, 30 or 60 to meet most any need. Canon DSLR cameras are all the rage right now because their very large image sensors and broad choice of lenses allow a film-like depth of field control, for a look unavailable from most camcorders with standard ¼” to ½” image sensors. New camcorders with large sensors and interchangeable lenses have recently been announced to compete with the DSLR units.
Q: So you think DSLR cameras are the way to go then?
A: DSLR cameras really require several add-on parts to do any serious video work - you need a mounting rig that provides a stable way to hold the camera and also provides mounting points for microphones, audio mixers, a portable LCD monitor and other goodies to make up for shortcomings in the “still camera” form factor. Even with the accessories, DSLRs are not suited to long-form recording, so I see them as a complement to camcorders at this time and not a replacement. They have their place, whether for high-end wedding video, corporate work, indie films, TV commercials or even network TV, as an entire episode of House was shot with DSLRs recently. DSLRs definitely add some creative possibilities not available with camcorders, but they’re not for everyone.
Q: What gear are you currently using?
A: I have a couple of HDV cameras from Sony and Canon, and also use a Panasonic AG-HMC40 AVCCAM unit. I’m working mainly with 1080i because that’s the format of the HDV cameras, though the Panasonic offers several varieties of 1080i/p and 720p. I use Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 to edit, and have the Matrox MXO2 Mini with MAX hardware for capture, playback and accelerated H.264 encoding and it just works really fast for HD productions, not much rendering going on with that setup.
Q: If you could try something new right now, what would it be?
A: Well, I’m already doing HD, so what could be better than 3D HD? I’d love to experiment in that medium and see what it has to offer, and not in a horror movie kind of way, but just to see what can be done creatively to enhance the viewing experience and make it more immersive. I’m glad to be working with Safe Harbor, as I get to try many new technologies and better yet, I can share that experience with other videographers and help them to move their creativity and technology – and business – ahead.