You do a lot of teaching in the area of authoring DVDs. Do you see the newest technology around DVD and CD recording offering capabilities that just about anybody can easily master?
All you need today to make a Red Book compliant CD is iTunes, which anybody can have on any laptop, Mac or PC. Now granted, that doesn’t mean that you want to create a master CD for manufacturing replication using iTunes, but you can certainly make a Red Book compliant CD of your favorite stuff using iTunes. How many years ago was that an impossibility? You had to jump through hoops and you had to have the right software and you had to have the right burner and you had to have the right blanks. Nowadays, it is like select 12 or 14 tunes and make a playlist and tell it burn the playlist to CD and there you go. You pick the CD out and it is in Red Book compliant format. You stick it in the CD player and it is a CD.
At the level you teach, you’re trying to teach people how to get into the more sophisticated aspects of DVD menu development and some of the deeper capabilities, right?
Yes, but a lot of that is actually possible on desktop applications. Case in point: DVD Studio Pro. In the fall of 2000, I had the good fortune to meet Paul Kent, who runs the Macworld for IDG World Entertainment. Paul was doing QuickTime Live at that point in Beverley Hills. We hooked up and got to talking and I said, “Paul, do you ever think about putting DVD on at Macworld, because this is like brand-new technology and it is really cool. One thing led to another and he booked me to do a DVD session. Well, unbeknownst to everybody else, Apple had bought Astarte in 2000 and in January of 2001, Steve Jobs came up on stage for his keynote and introduced iDVD and DVD Studio Pro. That was the day before my presentation. The people were literally hanging from the rafters in my DVD session the following day, because it was the huge buzzword at the time.
It has become incredibly simple. Authoring a DVD today is incredibly simple on both the Mac and the PC. Authoring a Blu-ray disc is possible, but to really author a high-end Blu-ray disc with all the bells and whistles that Hollywood puts into it: that is still a very expensive fully professional scenario that is going to cost multiple thousands of dollars for the software and encoding and all the rest of that.
In other words, Blu-ray today is kind of like DVD was 10 or 12 years ago, in the early days.
Part of what you do is teach people how to take advantage of the available technologies to actually be able to make Blu-ray discs, right?
Yes, in fact back in September I wrote and published the first of my Digital Press guide books. It is called Fast Path to Blu-ray for Mac.
The main website to pop over to is www.TheDigitalGuy.com. For a number of years people called me the DVD Guy, but it became pretty clear that DVD was morphing into all these other technologies and they were all digital. I just acknowledged what had been a fact of life for me for 20 plus years and I’m the Digital Guy. If you go to the site, you’ll find my new book, Fast Path to Blu-ray for Mac, is available in two formats, one being an instant PDF eBook download.
Now, what is good about Fast Path to Blu-ray for Mac is: if you work on a Mac and you are functionally clueless about how to make a Blu-ray disc, my book will walk you through every application on the Mac that you can use to make a Blu-ray disc. That includes Final Cut 7, Compressor 3.5, Toast 10, and Adobe Encore CS4. I literally walk you through chapter and verse of: this is what you do, this is where you click, this is what you tell it, this is how you enter this name, this is how you make this connection. It walks you from “I don’t know what to do” to “Oh, my god, I have a Blu-ray disc and it plays in my Blu-ray player.”
If you like printed books, there is a link that will take you to my Amazon Create Space account, where you can buy a print on-demand hard copy of the same book. And it looks beautiful when it is printed. Plus, it has got margins that you can scribble on because electronic books are hard to write on.
Anything more about the IDMA you’d like to mention?
One thing that I would like to mention: the IDMA and I believe strongly in technology democratization and the ability to profit from creative. On our revamped website that will go live hopefully sometime this month, we are adding the IDMA digital media gallery. Any IDMA member can upload their video content (trailers or whatever) to be freely viewed by the public in a high-quality format. We will be closing a deal to have a transaction action attached to that, which will allow for people to sell their content and make money from it through the IDMA Web site.
It sounds as though it could become an effective digital media marketplace.
That is my goal: to facilitate the profitability of people’s creative enterprises through the use of the Internet. Because, my second favorite statement of the last ten years is: the internet has changed everything, and for the better.
How did you first get started teaching people how to use computer tools?
The person that I have to blame for that is my old friend Dennis Teeny, a fraternity brother who went on to become the music department chairman at Wayne State University after we graduated. It turns out that by the time he got there, I had a relatively well-established career as a studio musician and I understood engineering and production and all that stuff, so he asked me to create a class, which I did, called “Recording and Electronic Techniques for Musicians.”
It was a college course that taught people how the multi-track production process worked. We did it by going into a multi-track studio week after week after week, every time the class would meet. And, we would make a record over the course of 13 weeks. Every week we would do another part of it, which was pretty groundbreaking. Also, parenthetically, in 1984 I had purchased my first Macintosh and I wrote the textbook because nothing existed really that could describe what this process. I wrote the textbook for the class on the Mac and had it published a couple years later by Music Sales Corp. You can still find it used on Amazon.
1984 was the year the Mac was introduced, true?
Yes, it was, as a matter of fact. I have always tried to be on the cutting edge of stuff because I have always found that the connection – the conjunction of the arts and technology – is a really powerful place if you can get the technology to behave and work the way it is supposed to work.
That is kind of the hallmark of what I have been doing. For example, I was getting into sequenced music productions in the mid-80’s before most of the folks in Detroit had graduated from guitars to whatever else. That was actually part of the reason why I had to leave Detroit after a certain point. People thought I was too wild and crazy, like: what planet is this guy on? He has got all these synthesizers and Synclaviers and stuff.
The Synclavier was an amazingly powerful iteration of what digital technology can bring to the creative art of music making. Not only was it a fantastic music sequencer, but you could literally have a library of just about anything under the sun and you could sequence that stuff in real time and it sounded fantastic. Back in 1988, I used that technology to make what I thought at the time (and still think it may be the first) totally tapeless albums. That was Millie Scott on Island Records. Her album called I Can Make it Good for You. That album was created entirely on the Synclavier and direct-to-disk; there was no tape. It was mixed to DAT, digital tape.
Do you see it as a healthy trend that now a lot of the functionality of something like a Synclavier is available in a virtual synthesizer? Or, do you think we are losing something in the translation from molecules to electronics?
I think there are pluses and minuses, but let me tell you this story and where I think the yin and the yang of this go. I put the music-making part of my career on hold around 1991 and put the Synclaviers to work in post-production sound environments. I didn’t get back to making music again until about 2005. I remember very clearly the day that I was ready to get back into making music. I pushed the power switch on the Synclavier and the power supply blew out. I said, “I think this is an omen.”
So I checked out Logic 7, and then I heard the quality of the sound of the virtual instruments, not only the ones that were built into Logic, but also the Spectrasonic’s library, the Stylist drum stuff, the Trilogy basses, and the atmosphere keyboard sounds, which are amazingly brilliant in their innovation and their usability. I said, “Holy Moly, this is the solution.”
So, you never got the Synclavier repaired?
No, it is still in storage. When I got involved in making music again in early ‘06 and I found an artist who I wanted to produce, it became pretty clear that the way to produce it was in Logic Pro 7 and that is exactly what I did. And I had a ball. We did the entire record in the box. All the tracks were sequenced inside Logic Pro in the Mac. All the live recording was done to a hard drive attached to the Mac. All the mixing was done in the Mac in Logic Pro. I will tell you: once you are seduced by the efficiency of working in an environment where when you reopen a song it is exactly where you left it (whether it was two weeks ago or two years ago) that is very seductive from a production standpoint, I can tell you.
Do all these capabilities open up the possibilities for composers?
In terms of orchestral instruments, it certainly gives a creative composer the ability to realize a partial or complete orchestral composition without having to buy an orchestra, which is a pretty amazing development, all things considered.
Prior to the advent of samplers and instruments that could replicate the sound of non-electronic instruments, meaning orchestral instruments, acoustical instruments, brass, winds, and so on, the only way that you could get an orchestral piece realized was to hire an orchestra for a couple of hours and go through the music prep and write the charts out and hopefully there are no mistakes in the notes and then mount a recording session. My god, that could cost thousands of dollars.
The advent of better and better virtual instruments and better and better libraries (and more importantly, more and more expressive libraries of acoustical instruments, like Vienna Symphonic Strings) have allowed orchestral composers or those who wish to embrace orchestral textures in their compositions to do so quite cost effectively.
That would almost go along with your theme of the democratization offered as technology overlaps into the music area.
It is very much part and parcel of that and what I find wonderful about that is, for example, how many film composers have been discovered and have been able to successfully create a demo and make a connection because they have been able to demo cost-effectively without having to suffer the slings and arrows of having to mount an orchestral recording session in the Czech Republic that is reasonably affordable or in Utah or wherever you could do it in this country.
It is an enabling technology. Now, that being said, an infinite number of film composers at an infinite number of laptops are not all necessarily going to create Eneyo Moreconni, but if you are talented and the technology exists there to translate your vision into an acoustical realization, the odds are much better that you have a shot at being recognized. That is the part of this that is not only very exciting – just in terms of the pure technology – but it is the part that I get really excited about from the teacher side of me. This is why I love to go to sessions at Macworld. Coming up in February I am doing a session again on music. This particular year I am doing a session on Logic 9, which is the newest version of the Logic Pro family on the Macintosh. Man, Logic 9 is head and shoulders above what Logic 7 was. And Logic 7 was amazing. Logic 9 adds a whole new level of amazing to what can be done and it is a tribute to the fact that as the power of the hardware and the computer processors increases, the power of the software creative types to harness that power and turn it into useful functional stuff increases, as well. You can do things in Logic 9 that you have never been able to do, ever.
The Digital Guy site: http://www.thedigitalguy.com/
Roxio Creator 2010: http://www.roxio.com/enu/products/creator/default.html
Apple Final Cut Pro: http://www.apple.com/finalcutstudio/finalcutpro/
International Digital Media Alliance: http://www.apple.com/finalcutstudio/finalcutpro/
BluStreak Premaster: http://blustreak.dvdafteredit.com/
Despite justly being known as a digital jack-of-all-trades (aka Mr. Digital Guy), Bruce Nazarian thoroughly enjoys his vinyl collection, including many records he personally produced early in his rich and varied career. Much of his work has involved pushing the outer boundaries of creativity in the digital media realm – from pioneering achievements in direct-to-disk recording to evangelizing the potential and use of DVD and Blu-ray discs.
Currently, Bruce is serving as president of the non-profit International Digital Media Alliance (IDMA), while authoring books on DVD and Blu-ray production, teaching a new generation how to innovate with the latest technology, and traveling around the world as a consultant and speaker at conferences and tradeshows.