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Star Wars Chronicled

Five questions with Orphmedia President and TFN Digital Producer Peter Orphanos By Dave Nagel
By now, many of you have heard about or seen TFN Digital, a twice-monthly Web broadcast that covers news about the Star Wars universe and carries features about those who make things happen in said universe. For Star Wars fans, it's a must-see. For video professionals, it stands out as an example of how to use streaming media (QuickTime and Windows Media) not just to deliver entertainment, but to showcase the services your production company offers.

TFN Digital is the work of Orphmedia, a Macintosh-based multimedia production house located in New York. I had a chance to talk with the company's founder, Peter Orphanos, about his company, the the TFN Digital series and his views on streaming media. First, a little background.

Orphmedia was founded a little more than a year ago by Peter Orphanos, who says he wanted to start a multimedia production company, but not one focused solely on the Web, since the revenues aren't really there yet.

"Taking the corporate production company model, meshing it in with a typical Hollywood production company model and then combining development, prep, shoot, post and compress, my idea started to take shape," Orphanos says. He launched the self-financed company in April 2000.

Orphanos says that, for him, Star Wars is a passion. The show appears on theforce.net, an incredibly content-deep site dedicated to all things Star Wars. The site already carries a broad range of QuickTime content?mostly short films, parodies and examples of effects, as well as tutorials on creating effects. Why not a streaming news magazine?

Peter Orphanos (right) with Peter Mayhew ("Chewbacca")
following an interview for TFN Digital.

"TFN Digital is a passion of ours", Orphanos says, "and it may be a side project, but we want to push the barriers with it."

The series is edited and composited entirely on the Macintosh platform using three desktop G4s and a G3 PowerBook. Graphics are created in Adobe Photoshop and, occasionally, Illustrator. Editing is done in Apple's Final Cut Pro, with compositing handled in Adobe After Effects. For compression for the Web, Orphmedia uses Media 100's Cleaner 5, which often runs on the PowerBook (to keep the desktops free for client work). He says of Cleaner, "This is product that is only getting better. Sorenson is amazing, and their tech support guy has been great."

TFN Digital uses a variety of title sequences
for regular and special editions. Editing is
done in Apple Final Cut Pro. Compositing is
in Adobe After Effects.

So why Macintosh?

"My parents bought me an apple //e in 1984, and I loved it," Orphanos says. "My best friend had an Apple ][+, and we tried to network our favorite game, Dark Forest, so we could play with each other over the phones from our homes.... After that, I was sold on Apple even through the early '90s."

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