We continue our series on remote collaboration with part two of OWC Host Cirina Catania’s interview with Michael Kammes, BeBop’s V.P. of Marketing and Business Development. He discusses in detail how to virtualize post-production in the cloud using Beebop’s solutions. Replace your earthly workstations, use fast shared storage, get the ability to conduct live reviews and harvest approvals, and work anywhere with the horsepower of a major data center. What makes this service unique is the low monthly fee that you incur only when you need the service. It works on Windows, Unix, and Linux.
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In This Episode
- 00:30 – Cirina introduces Michael Kammes, the VP of Marketing and Business Development at BeBop.
- 01:19 – Michael talks about BeBop Technology – who should use it and what software runs on it.
- 07:05 – Michael shares why BeBop partnered with Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud.
- 09:37 – Michael explains about zero client and why people might need it.
- 16:59 – Michael talks about BeBop’s ability to screen share with clients.
- 19:09 – Cirina asks Michael about BeBop’s backup and recovery features.
- 21:27 – Michael shares a story about how he approached the NFL and talked to them about the remote possibilities for games.
- 28:07 – Cirina and Michael encourage listeners to check out BeBop Technology’s website and listen to his podcast, 5 Things.
Thank you so much. Any time I can talk to you, it’s a good day.
Tell us what BeBop is.
Many years ago, I started looking into remote editing and creation with tools like Adobe Anywhere, Avid Interplay, Avid Cloud Remote, and before that Final Cut Server with check-in and check-out from Final Cut Classic, because I saw that as the direction where the industry was going. About 2½ years ago, I left a very nice and very rewarding job at Key Code Media to go to a startup, BeBop Technology, because I believe in the technology that much.
What the BeBop Technology is cloud collaboration. I know collaboration is kind of a very loaded word, but what BeBop is doing is virtualize post-production in the cloud. Those data centers that Amazon, Azure, and Google have all over the world, BeBop is in those data centers.
We offer up powerful workstations, fast shared storage, live review and approve. We offer security. We offer sharing of links of the content to people on and off BeBop. We integrate with printing solutions. We integrate with tablets. We allow folks to work anywhere, use the horsepower in data centers, and collaborate with everyone on their team, all in a centralized place, and it goes into your OpEx budget.
It’s something you pay for monthly, and then when you don’t need it, you spin it down. You have more projects come in, you spin up more workstations. We increase your storage, we give you ways of archiving, we give you ways of delivery, so it’s taking everything that’s in the four walls of a post-production facility, put it in the cloud, and then make it easy for anyone to access.BeBop is a powerful remote virtual post-production platform designed for creatives. Click To Tweet
Who is this for? What software runs on BeBop?
I get this question all the time. Ninety-five percent of the time, data centers are going to be Windows or some form of Linux or Unix in the cloud. That’s because Windows machines, you can put just about any part in there and it’s going to work. Many of these data centers, because they’re used for general business computing and rendering, are accustomed to using things that run on Windows.
A lot of folks in the media and entertainment space want to use macOS. I get it. I am talking to you on a macOS system and I have a Mackintosh directly to my left here. But there are only a handful of Apple-centric data centers. When I say Apple-centric, I mean ones that either Apple owns and they make public, or third parties like MacStadium.
There’s only a handful of those around the world and those systems don’t scale well, meaning, in a typical data center if I want an additional CPU or additional GPU, a graphics card, I click a few boxes and I get it. When you’re dealing with Mac data centers, a lot of those data centers don’t scale in that way, so you get a Mac mini, an iMac, or Mac Pro. That’s it. You want more horsepower? You got to use a different system.
They also don’t have fast shared storage. Folks who are doing episodic TV, high-end color grades need that shared storage. The shared storage you’re normally getting in a Mac data center are consumer, prosumer, and to top it off, there isn’t a great screen sharing protocol for MacOS.
There are things like Jump Desktop and Parsec. We just heard a few weeks ago that Teradici, who is one of the leaders in screen sharing technologies, is going to be porting over their PC over IP protocol to Mac. But that aside, there just isn’t a good screen sharing application that gives creatives 30–60 frames a second at HD or higher resolutions. There are so many things that make accessing a Mac in the cloud not very realistic right now.
All that being said, BeBop is a platform, you can use any computer you want to get into it. If you have an iMac, you have a Mac Pro, you have a Windows machine, all of those can access the BeBop platform. The environment you create in the cloud, by and large, is going to be a Windows experience. BeBop will run just about any Windows software that the end-client has a license for. When we talk to clients who say, “Look, we want to use Adobe Creative Cloud, we want to use Resolve, and we want to use Red Giant.” All three of those applications have Windows versions. We can install all of those.
The only real outlier as of February 2021 is Avid Media Composer. Avid Media Composer spells out in their EULA that you have to use Azure if you were doing the work in the cloud. You have to rent a VM license from them. It’s a little bit more complicated. They also have their own proprietary solution called Avid Edit On Demand. To go back to the original question, if it runs on Windows, we can pretty much run it with a few exceptions.
So forget Final Cut Pro?
Yes. I’m sorry to say that because I’ve been a macOS and Final Cut user for many, many years, but unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of built-in support for that. If we look at ways to share libraries in Final Cut 10, that’s usually done by third-party tools like Postlab and Hedge.
Apple doesn’t have that built-in, so taking advantage of workstations in the cloud and collaborative technology like shared storage isn’t something that is accelerated by Final Cut 10. There’s a couple of reasons why it just wouldn’t make financial sense, but I’m hopeful that, at some point, Apple data centers be more prevalent and BeBop can incorporate that as well.
Things are changing very fast. You just don’t know. So, your providers are Azure, AWS, Google Cloud, right?
Yes, when you’re an editor. You need both CPU, so your processor, you also need GPU, and you also need fast storage. When I say fast storage, I mean high IOPS, low latency. A lot of the data centers out there are either just storage-based like Wasabi or Backblaze, or they only offer up compute and they don’t offer up GPU. When we take a look at the three big data centers, they have all the ingredients you need for a post-production cake, and that’s why BeBop has partnered with each of them.
So, the solutions that you’re using will direct us via BeBop to whichever one is most appropriate for the solutions we’re using, right?
Yes. Normally, before BeBop deploys we’ll speak with the client and say, “What data center do you like?” One of the things that BeBop was very strongly about is that we don’t believe in dictating to the end-client what data center to use. One of our larger clients is Disney. If we went to Disney and said, “Disney, I understand you have a deal with AWS, but we’re going to make you pay our AWS rate in order to use BeBop.” That wouldn’t fly because Disney, among others, has negotiated their rates with the cloud provider.
What BeBop does is say, there is a per-seat license that you pay per month, and then all the cloud costs, all the storage, all the hours on the workstation, all the servers, we deploy that under the end-client account, so you can negotiate that rate with the cloud provider.
What most people don’t know is that if you plan on using the cloud a decent amount, you can call someone at the cloud provider and say, “I plan on using XYZ cloud for a year, two years. I plan on doing this much work. I want a better rate.” And there are lower rates. You can get lower rates. You just have to call and tell them the scope of what you’re doing. We don’t want to get in the middle of that because any client we work with has things larger than what they’re editing on. They have bigger concerns for their business, so if they call and negotiate better rates, great. You get them, and we don’t get in the middle of that.
You set up the super-duper workstations at BeBop. What is a zero client? Can you explain to people what that is and why we might need it?
Sure. Before I go into zero client, I need your way of explaining how it would be, let’s say you’re a freelance editor and you’re hired to edit. Let’s say, there is no virus, there is no COVID, everyone goes to a building and works. Imagine that the day one when you walk into a facility, the workstations are there, the shared storage is in there, your video conferencing is set up. Everything that you need to work on a project in post-production is there, ready to go. That’s what BeBop is providing. We’re providing that day one, walk into the facility, and things are ready to go.
One of the great tools that have been around for years is a zero client. As we talked about in the last interview we did, many folks have unoptimized workstations. They’re working wirelessly. They have Chrome and Firefox with 50 tabs open, Spotify going, and FTP transfers. All of those are going to make your remote experience horrible.
There’s a concept of a zero client. Folks who are familiar with the old mainframe topologies of the 50s, 60s, 70s, and a little bit of the 80s, is that what if the end-user just has a dumb terminal? All you have is a little box that does no processing. All it does, its only purpose in life is to connect to a remote machine somewhere.
That’s what a zero client is. It allows you to have a gateway to connect to a remote machine without all those underpinnings of your OS, and all the apps you’re not supposed to be running but are trying to run in the foreground. Those can’t run because you’re dumb terminal doesn’t have a Windows OS or Mac OS or any OS.
We quite frequently recommend zero clients for folks who are in bandwidth-challenged locations, like in the Philippines for example or South America where you don’t have a great Internet connection. If we give them a zero client, it makes the experience a lot easier. For security, if you are using a zero client to get into a workstation somewhere, there’s no software for you to screen record. There’s no way for you to illegally export and download it. All of that is remote and you just have a window to get into that remote system.
Now, obviously, you’re going to talk to your clients about which client to use, or do you have one that you could recommend or a series of them? What’s your favorite zero client, Michael? Are you allowed to say?
Yes, I certainly can.
Tell me your secret.
Get real close. Get real close and I’ll tell you.
Don’t tell anybody else. Okay, what is it?
BeBop has been built in a modular way. What I mean by that is the majority of the technology on BeBop is BeBop since our homegrown IP, but we have found a fantastic protocol called PC over IP. It’s by a company called Teradici. They’re global; just a fantastic company. At this point, we utilize the Teradici PC over IP protocol.
Teradici makes hardware cards that are meant to connect via PC over IP. They also make zero clients. Teradici also is a great OEM business, so as long as you get a zero client that has a Teradici PC over IP card in it, you should be good.
BeBop tends to recommend a company called 10ZiG. They have the 1206 models and those models start under $300. They allow multiple monitors, they have microphone inputs, USB inputs, multi-monitor outputs, and it’s just a very stable connection.
We have at least a dozen clients that have bought 20 or 30 of these things, and then ship them out to their creatives all around the country, so they can edit remotely with the highest security and lowest latency.What BeBop excels in is taking the erector set that is the cloud and making it simple. People can just get on and create. Click To Tweet
I love that. Any time you talk to me about security, my ears perk up because I’ve had some very bad experiences with it. I know a lot of companies are getting hacked and things were stolen right now, so this is wonderful.
You bring up a really good point about security. A year ago when we were working at a facility, they had the rules they followed. Maybe your machine wasn’t online, maybe you’re on a proxy server so you couldn’t get out. There were all these rules in place. When we all had to be quarantined last year, a lot of those security mechanisms became impossible.
Now, no one’s going to say that publicly because you’d be in breach of any contract you signed, but security got a little bit laxer and there was a lot of trusts. We’re trusting the editors to go home, edit, and not leak stuff. I think, by and large, it’s done really well.
Unfortunately, there are people out there who have decided, let’s capitalize on this, and the rise in hacks for less-secure protocols like Windows RDP or Remote Desktop Protocol—ZDNet had a great article out the other day on this—has gone through the roof in terms of hackers, in terms of people having their security compromised.
By utilizing zero clients, by utilizing protocols that aren’t really hackable like PC over IP, it’s something that folks need to look into. You can’t just trust what I like to call security through obscurity. Just because you haven’t been hacked doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. Especially now, you really have to take a magnifying glass to the security protocols and make sure they are, in fact, secure.
One of the things in the past I always talked about was the transfer speed and how difficult it was to get your data up into the cloud, your media up into the cloud. Talk to me about that.
You’re right, and that’s not something that BeBop can wave a wand. If your Internet speeds are more dial-up than cable modem, that’s not something we can fix. That’s not something that any other tech is going to fix. It is what it is. The highway is closed, you can’t get through.
We have found a lot of the episodic television that’s being done in BeBop, a lot of the documentaries that are coming in waves, a lot of that is arriving directly to the post facility, and then the post facility person who can still access the facility is uploading things because they have the faster connection.
We’re also seeing a large influx of some of that Frame.io talks quite a bit. In fact, they have an announcement coming up on this, is Camera to Cloud, which is why take that content, put it on a drive, and drive or ship it somewhere? Why not beam it directly from where it’s being acquired up to the cloud? Why not create proxies, send those up to the cloud because they’re lightweight, and when they’re in the cloud anyone who has access can get them? Why not do that?
We’re seeing a larger move to people making that leap and saying, I’ll upload the proxies directly to the cloud. My editors can start working on them, and then when they need the high res, that’s usually a couple of days later when that content has time to be uploaded or has time to get back to the post facility, where you can do a proper color pass and audio mix.
Get back to base camp and then worry about it. And a lot of people are using proxy workflows now. It’s become much easier no matter what NLE you’re using. Now, you talked about being able to screen share, and that brought to mind your whole over-the-shoulder aspects of this, where you can share with your client and they can see what you’re doing. How does BeBop work that way?
I’m so excited about this. I haven’t been able to talk a lot about it. You get kind of a scoop here. We did a soft launch in November. In November, we released a product that comes with the BeBop platform that’s called BeBop Rev Live. BeBop Rev Live is the successor to OTS. OTS is our existing screen share technology. OTS is great when you have to have two people talking one-to-one and you need it in the most secure way possible, so sensitive discussions.
This new product called BeBop Rev Live allows you when you’re working on BeBop in the cloud, to play out directly from your timeline to a web browser. We’re talking minimal latency. I can have my entire computer GUI up through my BeBop session, I hit play, and with no extra drain on the system you can send a link to as many people as you want, and they can view the direct output of your timeline.
BeBop doesn’t believe in dictating to the end client what data center to use.
That means you’re not getting what I like to call “screen scrape,” where it’s just grabbing what’s on your screen. We’re actively pulling from the direct output of your NLE timeline, so you’re getting the highest quality, you’re getting the sync, and you’re getting the low latency because of the tech BeBop has in the background.
It allows you to play out from your timeline. The people who are viewing it on the web page can view it in standard or high quality. They can give feedback either via email. We’re going to be tying this into a video conferencing system so you can use Teams or BlueJeans or Zoom. You can use the great collaboration that those video conferencing solutions have, but you get to use the video provided by BeBop. It’s the best of both worlds.
That’s epic. You’re solving all the problems, Michael.
Well, a lot of folks are coming out with tools like this, and BeBop Rev Live is just the first step. I can tell you we’re going to be doing a heck of a lot with it in the near future. It’s part of my goal to democratize this type of technology and bring it to the masses, and I think BeBop is doing that in a really, really good way.
What happens if disaster strikes and we lose our media? Can we recover it? Whatever’s been sent to BeBop, you’re backing it up over there, right?
Great question. I know this is a topic very near and dear to your heart. Anyone who knows you knows that. That is something that’s on the very top of your list. That’s the great thing about the cloud. If you were to have storage at your house on one hard drive, the wind blows the wrong way, that drive gets corrupted. When you upload things to a CSP (Cloud Service Provider), they’re already backing it up and putting it in multiple places. If one of the drives in the cloud fails, they got all that content.
I think there are, I don’t want to say it’s 69, but we’re talking just massive uptime. What you can also do in the cloud is, obviously, park content in other places. If that 69s of uptime isn’t enough on your fast storage in the cloud, you can always put it into a slower tier or even in an archival tier so it doesn’t get lost.
We traditionally find that most users are creating backups in the cloud, not as many backups—the old rule was three different backups and at least one of them’s off-site—we’re not seeing that as much of the cloud. We normally see in the cloud as one backup point, but folks are traditionally having a hard copy on-premises as well because they’re most likely going to do a high-end color pass or a surround sound audio mix in the future. Those two things are still best served being done at the office.
I promised everybody we were going to talk about the Super Bowl. About a year ago, I believe, you guys approached the NFL and talked to them about the remote possibilities for the games. This is a huge topic; I don’t even know how to start this. How did it work?
Let’s go under the hood a little bit and tell me—if you know—how many editors there were, where were they, do we get pre-records, how did they do the replays, what about streaming, what about the roll-ins? All of these things that, as a producer, I start thinking about. What did BeBop do to help that process along for the production company that’s responsible for all of that?
The story starts almost two years ago. When I just started at BeBop, I went to the NFL. BeBop has a great relationship with Adobe. We were introduced to some folks at the NFL and we met Brad Boim and Eric Peters. They really liked BeBop but weren’t sure it was going to work for everyone in the various departments, which we completely understood. It’s a newer technology. But we signed a contract and they were using it for several games doing promotional stuff.
Then the pandemic hit and on that Thursday everyone had to be sent home. We got a call from the NFL out here in LA, and they said, “We can’t have anyone in the building. How fast can you get more machines?” Over the past year, we’re over 50, maybe close to 100 seats. We are close to 100 terabytes in various tiers of storage, and 95% of the post-production for the NFL this season by the NFL was done on BeBop.
When the Super Bowl was coming up, the NFL had spoken to the folks at Van Wagner, who, for years, had done the in-stadium entertainment for the Super Bowl no matter where it was. We got in touch with them and we were able to spin up (I think) over a dozen systems. They had editors and creatives, video editors, motion graphics, et cetera all around the country, so East Coast, West Coast, et cetera.
All of them were able to remote into one data center on the BeBop platform. They were able to upload all the content they needed. They were able to browse through the content that they had back at the office. They were able to browse content from other Super Bowls they had done to pull legacy material. And they were able to assemble all of the media, all of the hype reels and player profiles that were played at the stadium. In fact, what’s funny is that on the day of the Super Bowl, they weren’t using the systems at all because they had finished everything prior to that.
The NFL was using BeBop for some live portions of the Super Bowl but not a lot I can talk to publicly about that, unfortunately. But yeah, the long story short is there were over a dozen editors all across the country, using fast shared storage, using Premiere, cutting both motion graphics stuff, stuff with alpha channels, compressed 265 and 264 material. It really was a crowning achievement because it’s the technology that we’ve been talking about, showing, and selling for years, and now to see it used on a big stage was just fantastic.
You must be so proud of that, Michael.
I am very proud but I know that I wasn’t the one who was supporting them when there were questions at midnight. I wasn’t the one making code changes to accommodate workflows. That was the team that allowed me to sit on their shoulders, so it was definitely them.
What’s also been very interesting—and I have to be very careful the way I speak about this—is all of the projects that came on to BeBop last year. Big shows from VOD partners that I can’t say out loud. A lot of these shows that were in post last year are now finally getting to air, so it’s fantastic.
In our internal conversations at the company, it feels like every other week someone else is saying, “Hey, remember that show we did for so and so? It’s airing next week. Or, did you see the episode last night? It’s great to finally see the end game of this media, and this isn’t just corporate marketing or weddings. These are things that are getting Nielsen ratings, that are being scrutinized, and we’re able to say we allowed that.
We facilitated the creatives being able to do this when they were on lockdown and couldn’t leave the house, we did that. We’ve also been able to keep thousands of people employed because we’ve been enabling these workflows. They didn’t go unemployed because they could go into the office to work. The fact that we were able to facilitate that is just immensely gratifying.Just because you haven’t been hacked doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. Click To Tweet
Wow. I just remember how excited you were when we talked a couple of years ago, because you literally just started at BeBop. To think where you were then, where you are now, and everything that has happened. As unfortunate as it is, we have to live with the way things are right now.
You are facilitating remote production and post-production, which is a part of our everyday life. If we’re going to make a living, we need to know how to do it. That’s one of the reasons why I want to bring you on here because I do hope that people will go to BeBop and check it out.
Now, I’m assuming that the workflow manuals that the production department and post-production department would produce, there’s a collaboration that would occur between your client and BeBop, to make sure that everything that is lined up is being done in a way that’s going to work for everybody. Am I correct on that?
Yes, but it is malleable. One of the great examples is Vox Media out of New York. They’re doing marketing and advertising campaigns for dozens, if not more, companies. They’ll give us a call and say, remember the show we did last month? Well, we’re going to do one just like it. Can I get 12 machines 10 terabytes of storage with our standard disk image? Then, they’ll use BeBop for X amount of weeks. When they’re done, they spin it down, and now they have that encapsulated cost that they can then pass along to their end clients. It becomes really good for the gig-based economy.
I like to think of BeBop as “cloud sherpas” to post. Folks want to make it very technical, and anyone who knows me knows I love making it technical, but what BeBop excels in is taking the erector set that is the cloud and making it simple. People can just get on and create.
At the end of the day, everyone who works in post has honed their skills so much that any slowdowns can hamper or even cause you to miss a delivery date. Anything we can do to eliminate that tech barrier, just makes it easier for people to create.
Absolutely, that’s wonderful. Is there anything really significant that I haven’t asked you about that you might want to talk about at this point?
Trying to see how much I can get away with. We will have a few more announcements in the not too distant future, that’s going to help BeBop be a part of a lot more people, not just ones that are in the cloud. I’m very excited about that. I would ask you to follow our Twitter feed because we’re going to be starting to mention some of the projects we’ve been a part of that we can probably talk about, so check that out.
You know me, Cirina. I am always a glutton for sharing tech, so anyone who has any questions can hit me up anywhere online and I’m going to be there to answer questions.
And tell us where to go to find you?
Sure. A couple of ways. My name, Michael Kammes. I have the same handle on every social media platform. Or you could always go to 5thingsseries.com. I haven’t had an update there in a little bit, but there’s a ton of archival tech info where I demystify concepts in post-production.
I love your 5 things podcast, and that’s Michael Kammes. Where do we go to find BeBop?
Michael, we’re going to have you back on very soon because I have a feeling that some of these announcements are going to be pretty groovy.
They’re going to be awesome.
This is wonderful. Thank you so much for your time. And everybody listening, remember, get up off your chairs and go do something wonderful today. Get on over to BeBop online. This is Cirina Catania. I’m saying goodbye to Michael Kammes and I’m going to sign off.
Thanks for listening, and thank you to OWC for sponsoring this wonderful podcast, where we can talk to amazing people, and bring all these ideas and new ways of doing to you at home. Thanks for listening. We appreciate you, and we love and appreciate OWC. Have a great day.
- Michael Kammes
- Michael Kammes – Facebook
- Michael Kammes – Instagram
- Michael Kammes – Twitter
- Michael Kammes – Youtube
- BeBop Technology
- BeBop Technology – Facebook
- BeBop Technology – Instagram
- BeBop Technology – Twitter
- BeBop Technology – Youtube
- BeBop Rev Live
- 5 THINGS
- Brad Boim
- Eric Peters
- Adobe Anywhere
- Adobe Creative Cloud
- Avid Cloud Remote
- Avid Edit On Demand
- Avid Interplay
- Avid Media Composer
- DaVinci Resolve
- Final Cut Server
- Jump Desktop
- Key Code Media
- Microsoft Teams
- Vox Media
- Windows RDP
- Establish effective communication guidelines between remote team members. Overcommunication can overwhelm your team. Lack of communication can make them feel lost or alone.
- Your team should have the right remote working tools and applications to manage remote collaboration and communication.
- Set up a security plan before employees work completely remote to protect your business’s data. Securing your organization’s data is a very important step for remote companies since your data is no longer chained to a particular network or device.
- Clearly identify project roles and responsibilities across all team members. Keep the team well informed and organized to more quickly accomplish goals.
- Use your time wisely as it can hugely impact your project and goals. Set deadlines for each task and regularly keep track of progress.
- Always consider your team members’ time zones. Schedule work and deadlines based on the time zone of your remote teammates.
- Be an active listener. Listen to feedback to make every team member feel valued.
- Check out BeBop Technology’s website and listen to Michael Kammes’ podcast, 5 Things.