Every December, we dig into our weblogs and tally pageviews for stories published at StudioDaily in the last 12 months. The traffic stats reveal what we've been thinking about, and what's been generating discussion, when it comes to product reviews, case studies, NAB news, and other business stories. And they often point toward what will be making news in the next year, too. Here are links to five of our top 10 stories from the year. Keep an eye out for the top five. Enjoy this look back at 2014!

#10 Spider-Man Meets Buster Keaton



Our production and post round-up for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 saw a tremendous amount of web traffic as summer got under way. We wondered why that story, in particular, was getting so much attention, so we analyzed our stats. It turns out a lot of the links could be tracked back to writer David Vienna's popular post on Tumblr that used animated GIFs to illustrate how one of the film's visual gags (above) was based explicitly on a terrific Buster Keaton stunt from the 1922 short "Cops." Our thanks to filmmaker Jack Howard, who reblogged the post with a link back to our story. We learned that you can't underestimate the power of social media when it comes to getting eyeballs on the web.

#9 Nice Drone. But Do You Have a License to Fly That Thing?

DJI Phantom 2 Vision+

Videographers bristled when word came in November that the Federal Aviation Administration was drafting rules for commercial use of unmanned aircraft that would subject tiny, three-pound drones like the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ to the same regulations as larger drones weighing as much as 55 pounds. They weren't upset by the idea that drone pilots should be required to undergo some training and abide by certain restrictions, but the proposed rules seemed like overkill — specifically, the requirement that would require anyone who wants to fly a GoPro on a quadcopter to undergo the same training as pilots of full-size manned aircraft. That's a pretty onerous restriction for a technology that promises to democratize aerial photography, and it has free speech implications when it's used to restrict the ability of newsgathering operations to fly a drone in order to take photographs from public space. Some drone advocates say the concerns are overblown — check out this story at Pro Video Coalition claiming that the federal government has no authority to regulate drone flight — and maybe that's enough to make you feel comfortable letting your freaky drone fly. But given that the FAA is threatening fines and jail time for people who fly near stadiums and auto raceways, and a recent determination by the National Transportation Safety Board that the FAA does, in fact, have authority over drone operators who fly carelessly or recklessly, it's a good idea to keep a close eye on the current state of the law.

#8 ARRI Expands Alexa-Based Line-up


2014 was the year that ARRI extended the very popular Alexa brand, shipping the Amira — a lighter, documentary-style camera that is an Alexa in everything but its name, including the sensor — and introducing the large-format Alexa 65. The Amira isn't a 4K camera, but a paid upgrade allows it to upsample footage in camera, recording UHD ProRes files directly to CFast cards, enabling a streamlined workflow for UHDTV production. Like the Amira, the Alexa 65 uses the exact same sensor design as the Alexa — its 6560×3102 A3X CMOS sensor is essentially three Alexa sensors turned vertically and stitched together side by side. "The dynamic range and colorimetry are retained, but to these is added a far greater capacity for capturing fine detail," said ARRI Managing Director Franz Kraus following the official Alexa 65 launch in Los Angeles earlier this month. "Our goal was simple — to meet and surpass the image quality of 65mm film." It's not clear whether the Alexa 65 will find a 65mm-like niche in specialty production like high-end blockbusters and IMAX programming, or if it will be more widely adopted by directors and cinematographers who crave 6.5K resolution for mainstream projects that finish in 2K and 4K. "I am looking forward to shooting with the Alexa 65 when I really need more 'definition,'" Roger Deakins wrote in a posting at his website forum last month. The camera will be available through ARRI Rental beginning in January.

#7 Todd Soundelux Goes Bankrupt


For film and TV pros who valued the robust audio post-production community in Los Angeles, the collapse this year of Todd-Soundelux — Todd-AO, Soundelux, and POP Sound — represented the end of an era. The company entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May, closed on July 10, and later put its 25,000-square-foot Burbank studios up for sale. Formosa Santa Monica opened in the Arizona Avenue location vacated by POP sound in September, and Sounddogs.com picked up the Todd-Soundelux sound effects libraries in November. Some would say the writing was on the wall back in 2012, when Empire Investment Holdings bought the companies (then known as CSS Studios) from Discovery Communications and shut down Sound One in New York City almost immediately.

#6 Subscription Model for Software Picks Up Steam


When Adobe began requiring users to subscribe to its Creative Cloud service in order to have access to new versions of its software suite that includes Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Photoshop, many users complained loudly. The subscription model was more expensive than buying a perpetual license for every second or third software upgrade. It featured ties to the cloud that some users found superfluous or, in the case of high-value content they were safeguarding for customers, potentially dangerous. And it relied on authentication over the Internet, a process that had the potential to lock people out of their Adobe suites — a worst-case scenario that became reality for one long day in May. Never mind all that—Adobe saw Creative Cloud subscriptions climb to nearly 3.5 million at the end of its fiscal year, slightly more than it had originally targeted. The company celebrated by buying microstock service Fotolia, which it plans to integrate into the Creative Cloud suite. And Wall Street approves: currently trading at around $75, Adobe stock is at an all-time high. That means other companies are following suit, led by Autodesk, which in October announced plans to phase out perpetual software licenses and move all of its users to subscriptions over the next two years. Get ready for more subscription options, and fewer opportunities to buy software outright, in 2015.

More to come …