Rob Weidner

Optimist & Storyteller

Rob Weidner is a storyteller based in Cape Town, South Africa who enjoys empowering others with his creativity and optimism.  Technically, Rob is a freelance focus puller and camera operator focused on feature films and long-form narrative projects, but aside from that, he can also make a mean homemade pizza. To check out what he is up to now, check out his Now page.

IBC Highlights

RED's day-1 invitation-only beach party at IBC

  • RED Digital Camera’s private event at the beach bar on the first day of IBC
  • Getting to experience (better word than watch in this case) The Jungle Book in 3D in a custom built Dolby Atmos theatre!  Christie brought in two of their 4K Mirage projectors which are capable of up to 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio (HDR or high dynamic range which was a big theme of this year’s show. Contrast ratio is the ratio between blacks and whites, higher is better meaning the blacks are darker and the whites are brighter), compared to the average digital cinema these days which cannot even do 10,000:1. A quick rundown on what that actually means here, but it was mind-blowing.  It truly felt like I was right in the action and experiencing the movie through a portal in which I could have never even dreamed was possible. They also showcased The Revenant in the same theatre in Dolby Vision 2D 4K HDR.
  • angelhack hosted a hackfest sponsored by the folks at Google, Microsoft, and Avid to name a few.  Brian and Jessica from AngelHack put on an excellent event and congratulations to the winners, Skipaclass, which uses facial recognition to determine when students in an online-learning environment loose interest, so the teacher can then go back and address that individual student regarding the content, making the online-learning experience just as mutual as the real classroom.
  • Ang Lee, director of Life of Pi and the new movie Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, spoke not only received a lifetime achievement award, but he also delivered a keynote speech and showed a preview of Billy Lynn which was shot and delivered at 120 FPS, 4K resolution, and in 3D!  To see a movie like this was different, to say the least. Echoing back to the “portal” comment I made earlier, this certainly reverberates again here.  Lee had to push Sony Pictures financially, the production team technically, and cinematic boundaries theoretically to make this movie happen and I cannot suggest highly enough to go see this movie at the 120FPS, 4K, 3D, Dolby Atmos, etc roadshow when it comes out, but after seeing test footage of all deliverables and formats, this is going to be a great movie regardless.  Julian Pinn, master of ceremonies for the conference said it best when he bravely exclaimed that this movie is going to go down in filmmaking history.
Oisin Lunny - Master of Ceremonies for the IBC Rising Stars programme

Oisin Lunny - Master of Ceremonies for the IBC Rising Stars programme

  • The IBC Rising Stars two-day program!  This program is specifically for people who are under the age of thirty and want to get a kick start into the industry.  Once accepted into the program, in which there were only around fifty that did, the program was led by the extremely lively and thought-provoking Oisin Lunny.  Lunny did a fantastic job introducing the various speakers and panels that presented and actively engaged in social media conversations surrounding the IBC Rising Stars. 

Highlights from the program include:

  • Greg Spence’s inside look as a producer for Game of Thrones was packed and in response to a question I asked in front of everyone, he complimented Of Kings and Prophets a show I worked on here in South Africa with a legendary crew.  That was pretty neat!  Spence went over the various jobs that producers have, in-depth technical details on what it takes to make Game Of Thrones, and he broke down the famous “Battle of the Bastards” scene.
  • Dean Johnson Head of Innovation for Brandwidth is an incredible “professional boundary pusher” pushing the limits of what the future of technology will look like, alluding to working with the likes of Apple and various VR/AR/AI projects.  Very cool and progressive guy.
  • Eric Black, CTO for NBC Sports shared the complexities of producing the biggest sporting events worldwide, most recently the Rio Olympics where NBC delivered 2.7 billion minutes of live coverage in 17 days.  Woah…
Why does there even need to be a balance?  Work and life should be one in the same!

Why does there even need to be a balance?  Work and life should be one in the same!

 

  • Alexander McWilliam, CTO for Mubi, a service I had not heard of but am quite intrigued in now.  They curate a list of movies for you to watch based on your previous likes and dislikes.  He brought up the concept of the “T” in your career and how one needs to find a balance between being a generalist and a specialist.  

He also commented on how especially as being young, you need to be able to provide data to back up your ideas when you bring them forth, and sometimes, even if you have the data to back up a prediction, you might still be wrong. 

  • Alexandre Jenny of GoPro and CEO of Kolor showed off the new Omni 360-degree rig that now automatically syncs up all six cameras in the rig and also showcased a new tool called Warp that beautifully stitches and fixes the existing issues with combining multiple cameras together in post. 
  • Michael Ford of Infinite Wisdom is a 360 producer and is truly pushing the boundaries on creative storytelling using this new medium of VR.  With the term immersive being tossed around a lot, his definition of the word was simple and agreeable, such that a piece is only truly immersive if one can get completely lost in the experience.  One of his most recent projects, Base, is getting being talked about quite a bit because it follows the life of an extreme base-jumper, Alex Polli, who unfortunately passed away from a jump just a couple weeks ago.  The film will certainly be a beautiful and immersive homage to what Polli has done for extreme sports and storytelling.  Another must see when it comes out.
  • Si Lumb of BBC’s research and development team hit on a couple great points relating new technology and effective storytelling and how it is still “all about the human” and evoking wonder in peoples’ faces. 
  • Jaclyn Pytlarz of Dolby who was not only possibly one of the youngest panellist, but also the inventor of the IcTcP (USA Patent # 9,230,338) which is incredible and doing awesome compression for HDR delivery.  ZTE Communications wrote a great article on the science located here.  Gave a cool insight on what Dolby is up to and how cool of a company it is to work for.  Every year, Dolby holds their “Idea Quest” session where they fly their employees to the Dolby headquarters and you have the opportunity to present your new ideas to the people who can make it happen.  Best job title at Dolby?  Futurist.
  • Rich Walsh of Sundog Media Toolkit, a company that has developed server based rendering for large visual computing such as Ang Lee’s new movie, took the group around on a technical tour of the IBC floor and proved that he really knew his way around.  Thanks to Sennheiser for providing their assisted hearing headsets, while in a large group of twenty, we were still able to hear Rich perfectly as if we were standing right next to him, yet on the extremely packed and loud tradeshow floor.  Highlights from the tour were the awesome new technology from:
    • Rohde & Schwarz working on a deliverable format package called IMF made possible by their Clipster product, for content that will allow for distribution across whatever channel necessary. 
    • NHK is working on 8K screens to be able to display the content of the future
    • Novaline has an awesome 3D mesh hologram product that they showcased mimicking a shark tank
  • The Foundry's Dreamspace is an awesome new way to do virtual production with digital cameras and incredible technology.
    • Noitom has developed an affordable motion capture platform
    • Snell Advanced Media showcased their Quantel Rio color finishing suite as well as their video over IP broadcast capabilities
    • Cubic Motion is working on facial animation that will melt your face off!
    • Sony is working on their Playstation VR platform which has amazing potential at bringing 360 video and VR to the family room.  We were lucky enough to get a private demo of their system which was playing a real soccer match and the “client” was able to put on a VR headset and get the full experience of the match as if they were sitting in a private box.  They are doing amazing work incorporating social aspects to the VR experience by allowing your actual friends to be in the booth with you, social media updates in real-time, as well as real live broadcast coverage in a 3D space.
  • Dolby is clearly the steam engine of the train headed towards the future of content playback.  Not only did they make a custom built Dolby Atmos studio for IBC in which they showed The Jungle Book in Dolby Vision HDR 3D and The Revenant utilising dual Christie Mirage projectors to boast a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1 as opposed to ~8,000:1 which is where the average cinema is these days.  Additionally, they are working with the industry’s biggest brands to incorporate their standards into consumer-priced equipment.
  • RED Digital Cinema Cameras had their new Helium model on showcase alongside the awesome other companies in their booth like RT Motion, OffHollywood, Gates Underwater Housing, Bright Tangerine, and Foolcolor.
  • Teradek showcased their new Sphere which does live-streaming of 360 video that uses SDI and HDMI signals to digitally stitch and deliver in real-time.  Woah.  They also unveiled their two new Bolt Pro models, the 1000 and 3000, which seem very powerful and rugged.  My only qualm with them is that they are not compatible with the Sidekicks that they released at IBC 2015.  The Sidekick is a great product and add-on for focus pullers and directors viewfinder monitors, but they need to quickly get an updated model on the market to compensate for their loyal customers.

SmallHD 700 battery back with clips on the side to keep batteries in place.  Great feature addition!

  • SmallHD had their new production-sized monitors on display and they unveiled a new 13" model which has a great display panel and is very affordable.  Also noticed that they updated the battery backs to the 500 and 700 series monitors so they ship with a push-button clip to keep the battery secure to the back of the monitor.  That was a big issue with my 702 Bright that I had!