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Recent Blog Posts in April 2011

April 17, 2011
  NAB: Archiving, clouds, collaboration and digital storage
Posted By Tom Coughlin
By Tom Coughlin

LAS VEGAS —
The 2011 NAB show was the usual colorful collection of 3D display technology, antennas, editing and digital asset management platforms, etc. Digital storage as always plays an important role in many of the booths. This probably explains why digital storage products are found in every hall of the NAB show. This leads to a lot of footwork by someone who tracks the use of digital storage in media and entertainment.

The North Hall featured digital tape products, including the LTO Consortium, IBM and SpectraLogic, as well as companies offering digital asset management and content preservation services, such as Front Porch Digital. Additional tape products were shown in the Central and South Hall, including those by Cache-A and Oracle. LTO 5 offers a file system called LTFS that should have many uses for media and entertainment archived content with the advances in digital workflows. Cache-A has leveraged LTFS for a complete archive appliance using the tape file system. Companies offering archiving software at the NAB included Atempo, CET and XenData.

Cloud storage for media and entertainment is emerging as a tool for collaborative workflows and content repurposing that can span continents and time zones. Companies showing products including cloud storage included DataDirect Networks, NetApp, Nirvanix, SeaChange, Tata Communications and Technicolor. This is a growing area for this industry as media producers try to lower their costs and increase their flexibility both for post-production as well as content distribution. The companies also point to the use of cloud storage as part of a library archive system for active content distribution for professional as well as consumer use.

Avid, BlueArc and Isilon (now part of EMC) offered storage systems for high end as well as mid-range media and entertainment applications. The growth in demand of smaller media facilities is attracting interest and new products by these well known companies to address a market that has been largely served through VARS and system integrators. The shut-down of Sony’s professional media products plant due to the March earthquake and tsunami is causing many facilities to accelerate plans for a move to a digital workflow, leading to purchases of storage systems tailored to this market

The end of Apple’s XServe product earlier in 2011 caused much anxiety among post production facilities that had built their storage system infrastructure around Apple’s XSan and XServe. Many companies at NAB offered support to these stranded storage system users. StorNext (part of Quantum) has emerged as the OS of choice for XServe replacement products. XServe metadata controller replacement products using StorNext included Active Storage and Promise Technology. SAN Solutions was also offering its ArtiSAN Metadata Controller as an XServe replacement system.

Many other companies offered storage solutions, including direct attached storage systems and SAN and NAS storage systems. The media and entertainment market has an insatiable desire for digital storage and this shows no signs of abating.

Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” scheduled for release in December 2012 is said to be shot in 48 frames per second, using Red 5K Epic cameras in stereo. Petabyte workflows will shortly become the norm in larger creative projects, and the growth of digital workflows in TV production and distribution will swell the growth in storage demand as well.
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April 17, 2011
  Thunderbolt at NAB: speedy new interface empowers post power users
Posted By Tom Couglin
By Tom Couglin

LAS VEGAS —
Apple introduced a new generation of MacBook Pro computers with an advanced peripheral interface developed by Intel in late February 2011. The interface is called Thunderbolt and is based upon the Light Peak technology developed by Intel, originally using a fiber optic connection.

The Thunderbolt interface directly connects the attached device to the PCIe bus on the computer allowing very fast data transfers up to 10 Gbps.  7 devices can be daisy chained together and the cable carries 10 Watts power, some of this power is needed for the active clock data recovery (CDR) electronics incorporated in the interface. The last device in a daisy chain of thunderbolt devices can be a display port monitor since display port was incorporated into the thunderbolt interface.

High-speed direct attached storage will be very useful for professional media and entertainment post production work.MacBook Pro computers with Final Cut Pro are ubiquitous in the M&E market. With video resolutions increasing and with stereoscopic content becoming more common, the demands for storage capacity and bandwidth are greater than ever. A 10 Gbps interface will be very useful for rich video editing.

At the 2011 NAB show at least six companies were showing Thundebolt external storage devices in their booths. These included Avid, G-Tech, Intel, LaCie and Sonnet. In addition, Blackmagic, Matrox and AJA exhibited Thunderbolt compatible displays.

At the Promise booth the company was showing Thunderbolt daisy-chained storage arrays with a display port monitor at the end of the daisy chain. The company also had a SANlink adapter product that allowed connection via Thunderbolt to an XSAN storage system —essentially a laptop connection to a SAN. Intel said that the first generation Thunderbolt is copper wire based but they plan to introduce an electrical-to-optical cable version in the next few months, allowing more than a three meter connector (current Thunderbolt product length). Earlier demonstrations of an optical-based Light Peak direct attached interface promised up to 100 Gbps data rates.

The vendors said that Thunderbolt products will be available in calendar Q3 2011. Because of the additional costs for the CDR chips and specialized interface cards, Thunderbolt interface products will be more expensive. In addition, storage arrays in Thunderbolt storage devices will likely use higher performance RAID hardware adding to the cost of these products. We expect at least a 50 percent premium and perhaps even a 2X initial price differential for the first generation of Thunderbolt products.

Thunderbolt offers a fast new interface to support richer media workflows on desktop editing systems.  For the media and entertainment industry products like this will continue the trend of higher performance tools available at lower costs enabling more creative products by more professionals.
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April 14, 2011
  NAB 2011: My Humble Opinions
Posted By Dominique Martinez
By Dominique Martinez
Head of Operations
In A Place Post
Los Angeles
www.inaplacepost.com

LAS VEGAS —
 Here is what I found interesting during the whirlwind known as NAB. As a DP and owner of a post house running a Pablo platform, I really go into
NAB looking for both production and post tools that would mutually benefit my company and myself. We were also working closely with SuperTechno as they were showing our newest toy, the New Technocrane. Some NAB highlights for me:

CAMERAS

-Alexa-M - Not sure if this stands for Mini or Modular but it is a tiny remote head for the Alexa, which will be great for 3D rigs, Steadicam, tight spaces, action shoots, etc.

-Red Epic - I kind of felt like the uncool kid on the block at the RED booth/tattoo station, and maybe I was. I thought it was a great idea to have all the cameras set up with displays, but I wish there was another type of lighting set up to really show the cameras latitudes. Either way, it was great to see the Epic. 5K, HDR, small footprint, need I say more? We are in line for an Epic at our studio, so I am really looking forward to shooting and bringing in the footage to our studio. We are already set up to work with Epic material on the Quantel Pablo, so now it is just a matter as to when the Epic’s actually get to us!

-Sony- Loads of new cameras from Sony, which also means loads of new workflows to support. They had a great presentation on the new Sony CineAlta 8K sensor camera. Their 1TB SR memory cartridges were also out for the show. With the F65 demo video, I was impressed to find that I couldn't see any noise at all while screening off of Sony's 4K projector. It was sooo clean it; felt very digital to me, but like with every digital camera, there is a sweet combination to be made if you are looking for a more "filmic" look. I am a fan of the F35, so I am sure the F65 will do just fine.

-GoPro- I have shot with and own a couple of GoPro's which are always fun and if they work for the story, great cameras for difficult shots. I am really interested in playing with their new stereo rigs.

PRODUCTION GEAR

-Arri- One of my favorite new products at NAB was the new Arri L-Series LED fresnels. I saw these new lights in the afternoon after they had been on all day and they weren't even remotely hot. It is great to think you can light an actor from a few feet away without any complaints of the lights being too hot. They have upgradeable light engines (since LEDs continue keep growing in intensity), are focusable, and splashproof/dustrproof. They claim to have a similar light output as a 1k Tungsten fresnel. Three models: the L7-T 3200K (matching tungsten, L7-D 5600K (to match daylight) and L7-C can be adjusted depending on your lighting scenario. Cool stuff.

-SuperTechno- The New Technocrane with Technohead was unveiled at NAB and had a great demo to show all the different tools added to the New Techno. Super light, compact and with a detachable telescopic arm, make the New Technocrane a big game changer in the industry. Being able to actually move around (bring it up to a rooftop, put it in an elevator, tight spaces, etc) with a technocrane is really helpful when shooting indie projects where you have to move fast with small crews. Hearing the positive response to both the New Technocrane and the Technocrane 12 was really great.

FIELD RECORDERS

It seems to be the year of the field recorders and many of them are set up with HDMI/SDI inputs that record to Uncompressed, DNX, ProRes. This could mean a lot of the new lower end cameras will be able to record out to better codecs, which will be great for higher quality images and color grading.

-AJA KI Pro Mini for example records to Compact Flash cards at resolutions up to 1080p and can utilize any of the ProRes 422 codecs. 4444 is not on the menu for this device. At this time this is the device RED endorses for Epic use. Simultaneous format recording = super cool and efficient.

-BlackMagic-This one has not been tested yet, but it seems to be the least expensive (at least from the ones I saw showing at NAB) Two negatives: it doesn't have a monitor and it doesn't have options for ProRes or DNX, leaving you with Uncompressed QTs options, meaning bigger files.

COMPUTER ADD-ONS

-Blackmagic Design Decklink 4K – It is great seeing desktop editing move beyond 2k. This new card is capable of outputting 4K - provided you have a 4K viewing device.

SOFTWARE
-After Effects CS5.5. My fave App has been upgraded to include a fancy new Warp Stabilizer for smoothing out sloppy camera moves. Also, Stereoscopic 3D is now supported.

-Filmlight Baselight is releasing a CC plug-in for FCP. I would be a bit concerned due to FCP's color management. YUV-RGB shift, anyone?

-Davinci Resolve 8 - has gone with a multilayer timeline. But how well does it conform? Edit? Etc?

-Quantel- I was VERY excited to see the Pablo PA work so well. We run off a Pablo platform, so the idea we can have the Pablo PA on another system to prep and export jobs while our colorist is working in the other room, seems like a dream! Not only will we able to finish jobs faster for our clients, we can QC a bit easier. It also seems to be Quantel's answer to all of the above. The other big Quantel highlight for me was ArriRaw Support coming to the Pablo. We have been working with Alexa footage a lot lately, but now with the ArriRaw Support means no more 1080 ProRes files, so we will finally dig into the meat of the high res RAW footage.

Well, thank you for reading my two cents on NAB 2011. Until next year….

Dominique Martinez
Head of Operations
In A Place Post
Los Angeles
www.inaplacepost.com

Continue reading "NAB 2011: My Humble Opinions" »

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April 13, 2011
  NAB 2011 Day 2 From Zen to Beige
Posted By Carl Jacobs

Now that I've made the move from the modern zen-like Aria hotel to the cheaper-and-everything-is-putty-colored-including-the-people Bally's, I've got a moment to spend some time with you, dear readers. One thing I've learned in the past three days: socialize, blog, sleep. Pick two. Last night, blog lost.

Let's see… what else did I do yesterday? Oh yeah.  I saw a bunch of stuff on the exhibit floor, ate a crappy overpriced lunch, saw some more stuff that would bore you to tears, but gets people like me all wiggly and excited.

I want to put in a good word for Scopebox, a terrific software video scope from Divergent Media. It's been around for a while but just keeps getting better and better. They've announced they're adding a ton of new features for release this summer, but they're still selling it for only $99. It should be selling for at least three times that. Being a small company, the guys at the Divergent Media booth really listened to my feature requests when I stopped by.  

"I'd like a customizable gamut limit setting"

"We'll add that our list"

"How about visible alarms in the waveform?" 

"We can explore that"

"I'd like it to take pictures of the monkeys flying out of my butt."

"Security!"

Check out Scopebox at divergentmedia.com  

When marketing attacks.

Olympus has taken an — um — unusual approach to demonstrating their high-speed camera. I was on the exhibit floor and heard what sounded like a waterfall of little balls falling on a hard surface. Everyone in that corner of the convention floor was looking in the same direction. I walked over to see what they were seeing.

Picture in your mind a four-foot round booth made of glass—a shower stall essentially. Inside the booth are two attractive women dressed business-casual. This being Vegas, I'll go out on a limb and guess they don't work for the Olympus R&D department. Inexplicably, the two women are being showered with thousands of tiny multi-colored hard objects coming out of a hole in the top of the booth, while a high speed Olympus camera films them. Apparently, being beneath this cascade of colors is the height of party fun because the two women are dancing and smiling and having what seems to be a fantastic time. This is clearly the new foam dance. Two screens on either side of the booth display the super slo-mo footage of these women as they covert under the pouring of beads. The things are bouncing off their faces, going down their shirts and hair is everywhere as swing their heads side to side. Eventually, the flow of beads slows to a stop. 

The two women get out of the booth and start handing out packets of the same balls they'd been being pelted with. "Jelly Belly?" "Don't forget your jelly bellies." That's right. They were partying in the Jelly Belly jelly bean Chamber of Humiliation. As they were handing out the jelly beans, you could tell the Olympus employees were embarrassed at the spectacle, the two women were forcing the smiles on their faces and there was some poor schmuck in the booth sweeping up all the jelly beans to reload for the next show. It was sad and funny and bizarre. I don't know what WTF means, but WTF?

Imagine the meeting of the Olympus marketing department two weeks before NAB.  "I love it!  Shower stall. Booth babes. Jelly Bellies.  We're gonna sell a million of these — what did you call them, Stan?…  cameras, got it.  Amirite?  Body shots!"  

What else?  Oh. Apple introduced a new version of Final Cut called Final Cut Pro X.  You can read about it here Final Cut Pro X Announcement and see it here  Final Cut Pro X Sneak Peek . 

Lots of people will be talking about this ad naseum on the interwebs so I don't have anything to add here, except to say that what they showed was for the most part really cool. What they didn't show or talk about is what everyone will be talking about over the next few weeks.  Last night's unveiling was clearly labeled  a sneak peek and the software is still being worked on.  But they only have two months before release, so we'll see.

That's all for now, kiddie-winkles.  Back tomorrow.

Continue reading "NAB 2011 Day 2 From Zen to Beige" »

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April 13, 2011
  Second Day Impression at NAB
Posted By Mike Romey

Stumbling across the finish line here at NAB to see everything.   Found a bunch of great gear in the North hall.  

If you are not familiar with stereo rigs but interested you should check out Element Technica’s booth. They have some amazing hardware and software that they have developed.  One of the products they are showing is a rig called the Atom.   It has most of the cabling for follow focus and ocular correction built into the carcass of the unit.   This makes setup and configuration faster and easier.    The metadata field recorder they are developing particularly intrigued me.   This device records all the camera follow focus and inner ocular convergences to a memory card or streams the data live to any possible listening devices such as a Virtual set.  Hoping they can lace an SDI signal in the future with this metadata.   They also have a hand unit for these rigs that allows the stereographer to control lens and ocular positions of cameras. Was really impressed with their equipment and spent a bunch of time looking at the units in detail.

Another great find worth checking out on the lower cost spectrum is the GoPro sport camera.  They introduced stereo support for their sport camera line.   The cameras can shot in 1080p and can be synched together for stereo support now.   They also introduced a new waterproof case to support stereo production.

Was also captivated by Teradek’s wireless video encoder.  It’s a little device that can be mounted on a camera and send wireless video with embedded audio to any wifi device.   So on set you can use this device to review live footage from your iPhone or iPad.   Was surprised at how well the footage held up especially with everyone on the show floor flooding the facility with wifi pollution.

Seems like NAB 2011 was the year of field recorders.  All the vendors seem to get that people want to go direct to edit and the field recorder is the way to do it.   A company named Gemini introduced a 4:4:4 field recorders with built in monitor that can record dual signals two 2 ssd drives.   This unit packed the most features I saw in the smallest form factor.   Including DPX file format support in future firmware revisions.   DPX acquisition is a key component at our facility and has been a standard for visual effects.   Receiving the footage in the proper format allows us to control the time it takes to prep footage for production.

Lastly what would a blog on NAB be without mentioning RED.  These guys are always rocking it and NAB was no exception.   Live tattooing on NAB floor, WHAT!   I know everyone is excited to see the HDRX footage and the Epic but the device that really got me amped up was the Red Ray Pro and Consumer devices.   Red has done it again buy introducing a new red ray file format called “.RED”   that is specifically geared to playback.   Think projection room playback device.   The device is capable of playing back HD, 2K, and 4K.   The catch is this, the size of the encoded files are tiny so the hardware requirements to playback 4k are nominal.   This in turn should make the cost affordable.   If you are looking for a device to playback 4k without purchasing truckloads of storage you need to see this device.   If you have a projection room and are trying to determine how to playback footage this thing is for you.   They also plan on making a version that can run at home.   In theory you could outfit a director with one of these at home smaller devices, encode the footage to red ray so that only the directors device can playback and ftp transfer the footage to your director quickly for 4k playback and review.   Really astonishing stuff and hoping to talk to RED about outfitting Zoic with these units for Dailies and review sessions.  

Continue reading "Second Day Impression at NAB" »

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April 13, 2011
  NAB 2011 Day 1 into Day 2
Posted By Ed Heede

Day one was a time of semi-controlled chaos. First up: I threw my hat in the ring for the chance to do a somewhat private interview with James Cameron and Vincent Pace. I assumed the option would come to not much or possibly nothing at all. To my surprise, the interview was granted and scheduled for a slot after high noon. So instead of delving across the NAB floor, my crew and I went through the keynote and general press meet for an intro to James Cameron and Vincent Pace at the official rollout of their Cameron-Pace Group effort.

Next, the scheduled interview for James and Vincent was to be attended by 3 groups, ours for POST Magazine and 2 other media crews for what would have been up to 12 people. Not exactly a one-on-one interview. As it turned out the other 2 crews somehow dropped out and my crew (Paul Gentry, Ken Locsmandi and myself) was the one left standing. Not quite one-on-one setting but very near it.

It was a candid 15 minutes with James Cameron and partner Vincent Pace on the state of 3D cinema, film and production which could have gone much longer but was revealing in its own way. More on this when we edit the footage and post it for one and all. I will say James Cameron had spoken to George Lucas about producing a new theatrical standard for quality control so that the 3D experience is all that it should be for audiences. At the post D.I. stage James Cameron outlined his visual process in lowering gray values and pumping up whites from digital acquisition for achieving a favored target look for exhibition. And if there was an overriding point to the Cameron-Pace Group it is to make 3D as seamless and attractive a process as possible for 2D filmmakers going into the brave new medium.

As far as my very limited time on the floor Monday I was impressed by:

  • Blackmagic HD HyperDeck Shuttle SDI and HDMI SSD recorder ($345)

  • UltraStudio 3D with ThunderBolt I/O (portable 3D capture and playback unit w/ 12 bit hardware architecture, dual link 3 Gb/s w/ full 4:4:4 SD, HD and 2K support, ($995).

The Da Vince Resolve 8 (multi layer timeline support and much more).

CUBIX had a quite refreshing take on expansion / acceleration for high-end production applications in collaboration with powerhouse graphics innovator NVIDIA.

AJA IO Extreme (Thunderbolt enabled) will ship in the not too distant future. AJA KONA 3 does up to 4K playout with appropriate hardware.


DAY 2

Tuesday was a time of simply navigating the show floor looking into nooks and crannies. More on this later.

Highlight of the day was the FCPUG “SuperMeet” where APPLE rolled out its sneak peek of Final Cut Pro X. Have to say this advance was a legit jaw-dropper. Best software I saw at the show from the cost/benefit stance and a breakthrough editorial product at any price.

By now the feature bullet points will be familiar to most anyone near the pro post-production arena. A few standouts:

  • 64 bit w/ OpenGL

  • resolution independent up to 4k

  • Magnetic Timeline (allows movement of clips without disrupting other clips along the timeline)

  • Fully color-managed (ColorSync)

  • shot detection / correction technology for automating and isolating incoming media by things like people in clips (or absent from them) rolling shutter correction, auto color balance, etc

  • Lots more goodies (see the official and un-official releases)

To start off with, FCP is clearly a far more responsive and agile program. Managing incoming material is much streamlined due to shot detection and correction technology. There is also an “Audition” feature that allows quick demo of multiple clip variations in rapid-fire order for client approval (one of my personal favorites). “Compound” clips feature is a utility allowing editors to nest many multiple layers of edits into one collapsed layer for ease of handling: a very powerful management tool. No more issues with losing audio sync on sophisticated cuts (“L” cuts or any other class of cuts due to Magnetic Timeline). Auto scene color matching looks to be a very practical and labor saving feature. Sophisticated keyframe editable speed changes (ramp changes were not shown but could probably be done manually).

The long and the short of FCP? This package will cut a vast amount out of fat out of the editorial process shaving hours and days if not weeks out of longer form projects. This tool has to be seen to be believed. If the crowd at the SuperMeet was any indication, the new FCP stands to be a massive hit with its established base and for new converts to come.

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April 12, 2011
  First Day Impression at NAB
Posted By Mike Romey

So the first day at NAB was quite a world wind of meetings.  Was hard to make it through the show floor without seeing another familiar face.   Was only able to make it through the one hall but saw some great demonstrations.

One particular demonstration that stands out was the Foundry’s workflow integration between Mari and Nuke.  At Zoic Studio’s we do a tremendous amount of set extension work for television and this process seems very button up and straight forward.   Seems like a must have for matte painting work.

Another interesting device worth seeing is the Cinedeck Extreme.  It’s a small field recorder with LCD display that uses SSD drive’s to record 4:4:4 footage to either Pro Res, Cineform or Dnxhd.   Blackmagic also introduced a similar field recorder called the HyperDeck Shuttle at $345 and the Hyper Deck Studio at $995.

Also very exciting to see Apple’s next generation thunderbolt enabled devices.  AJA was demonstration a very impressive IO Extreme that supports Apples new Thunderbolt technology.

The Thunderbolt enabled device can display signal and data at the same time bi-directionally.  This turns out to be a very powerful addition to Apple’s new laptops offering some tremendous power via a small connection.

For those that know me, I am a big fan of Shotgun’s Production tracking system and Tweak Software’s RV and it was pretty impressive to see RV running on an HDSDI enabled NVidia graphics card.  This addition to Tweak’s software lineup allows facilities to use RV to review stereo 3d work via high performance HDSDI enabled projectors like the Christies.   They are using Fusion I/O solid state memory cards to load up the content and play back without any run up and very little load time.

Lastly getting ready to speak on a panel with some real giant.  Will be speaking on a panel about Virtual set production.    The name of the session is “ The Virtual Filmmaking Revolution: Merging Live Action, CG, Previs and Real-Time Technology”. The panel is Tuesday afternoon. 

http://expo.nabshow.com/mynabshow2011/public/SessionDetails.aspx?FromPage=nz_ALSessionSearch.aspx&SessionID=1429

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April 12, 2011
  NAB 2011 Day 1 Plush carpet padding is your friend
Posted By Carl Jacobs

I was going to base my observations of the first day of NAB on extensive notes and research.  Then I realized that's just what that annoying overachieving kid you knew in junior high would do.  I'm no longer that kid—I mean,  I have a different idea: I'm going to make it all up.

First order of bidness was to attend the opening keynote featuring James Cameron.  Unfortunately it also included thirty minutes of opening remarks from the head of the NAB and an award ceremony for a former president of—zzzzzzz…  Sorry, dozed off for a minute there.  It was just like on the Oscars when the guy comes out to explain how the all the votes get tallied and I start screaming hysterically, "Where are all the pretty famous people!?"  Only without the screaming.  

Finally James Cameron hit the stage.  Alas, I could only stay for fifteen minutes but what I heard was something like this  James Cameron Keynote Clip this James Cameron, Vince Pace Announce New 3D Venture this James Cameron and Vince Pace Forms Cameron-Pace Group for New 3D Features and this James Cameron’s New Company CAMERON-PACE Group Will Further Spread The 3D Gospel

In what is becoming a yearly NAB tradition, I stopped by the AbleCine booth.  They have more cameras and lenses and cool camera thingys than you can shake a stick at.  I know that because I shook my stick at them and was promptly wrestled to the ground.   While I was there, someone on the staff showed up with the rare-in-the-wild RED Epic and everyone held it up like baby Simba.  Now that is one BAMF looking camera. 

AbleCine was also showing a new 3D Phantom camera that has interchangeable lenses made in Russia. Huh? Russia? Just as long as it doesn't interfere with their ability to make vodka, I guess I'm okay with it.  This might be the first Phantom that people use for shots other than super slo-mo "Nooooooooooooooooo…"

Sony's booth was huge again as always, but not so huge that I went "That's huge!'  It's tucked way in the back of the hall which takes some of the hugeness away. They were showing off their new F65 CineAlta camera.  It shoots in 4k RAW on an 8k sensor and will probably replace the F35 for most DPs. The post workflow is yet to be determined which makes me nervous because we all know how good Sony is with software *crickets*

Sony has a new SR codec for Final Cut, AVID and presumably Vegas.  It's essentially the same format as HDCAM-SR. I played with it a little bit in Final Cut and… whatever.  Sony had barely-trained interns showing it off which may or may not be an indication of how hard they want to push it. I'm not sure why we need another compressed working format but… yay?

Meanwhile, a big trend seems to be small uncompressed external recorders.  Convergent Design, Blackmagic and someone else I can't remember introduced these leetle teeny weeny boxes that can be mounted to a camera and  that'll record uncompressed video to small solid state drives. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I'm going to go with "Sure. Why not? Fill that SAN up as fast as you can."

Oh! Oh! Panasonic had this really big ass TV.  A 4k 152" behemoth costing $500,000 and tipping the scales at one ton.  You have to use one of those skyscraper window washer lifts that hangs from the top just to clean the screen.  TV Logic also had a 4k TV and Sony had a 3.8k TV.  Everybody's making 4k screens it seems.  It's giving my 50" plasma at home feelings of inadequacy.  Oh wait that's me.    

Well, kids.  That's all I have time for right now.  By the time we meet again, the Supermeet will have come and gone and there'll be a new NLE bestowed upon us that will enrich the human experience and reveal the meaning of our existence.  Or it will just piss people off.   Will it be it awesome, a head-scratcher or just meh?  I'm calling Apple up right now to let them know something's going down at the Supermeet.  Has anybody else told them about this? 


Continue reading "NAB 2011 Day 1 Plush carpet padding is your friend" »

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April 11, 2011
  NAB 2011: SSD Field Recorders
Posted By Saker Klippsten
This year's NAB shows has a slew of new products based around SSD Drives.
As memory costs come down we will for sure see more products based around these fast, 
low power consumption devices that have a potential for hundreds of different uses.

First Up is Blackmagic Design's HyperDeck Shuttle, claiming to be the world's smallest
HDMI/SDI field recorder. It boasts a beautiful sleek aluminum design, with your control
buttons on one side and connections on the other. Starting at $345 US, plus media, this
will be shipping in May.

Black Magic also has a HyperDeck Studio 1U rackmount version coming out in July. This will have your familiar
VTR jog-dial and button control along with a little LCD for previewing your content live or playback.
It has two slots for SSD which allow for hot swapping of disks while recording. This allows you to potentially
"record forever" as Blackmagic put it. "You can just keep changing out drives".

Both devices record to an uncompressed 4:2:2 Quicktime. You can find out more at http://www.blackmagic-design.com/products/hyperdeckstudio/

Next we have two devices from a company called ATOMOS.

Known as the The Ninja and Samurai, the only real difference is one does HDMI and the other HD/SDI.
What's interesting about these two devices is that they have a touch screen display and you can see what you are recording along with the controls. With swapable battery packs on the back, this easily mounts to your camera and can act not only as record but also 5" LCD screen.

Both devices record to Apple ProRes 422 HQ formats. I spoke to them about possibly supporting 444 but
they did not have this planned for the first release.

Starting Prices of ~$1,000 US for the HDMI  (shipping soon) and ~$1,500US for the SDI, which will ship later on in the year.

You can read more about these two devices at http://www.atmos.com

Third up from AJA is the baby brother to the Ki Pro, the Ki Pro Mini. This device records to CF cards not SSD drives.
It has a nice ruggedized feel to it. With audio meters on the front and volume control. It sports similar
button look, feel and data display as its older bro. This also records to ProRes 422HQ.  

Check out: http://www.aja.com/products/kipro/ki-pro-mini/ki-pro-mini-description.php





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April 11, 2011
  It's NAB Eve and all is well
Posted By Carl Jacobs

The Sunday before the NAB exhibits open is traditionally a day of kiss-and-tell for vendors and VARs. Some noises have been heard coming from these heavy makeout sessions.  AJA is adding 4k capabilities to their Kona 3G card.  Reports say it will be a free firmware upgrade.  Fire up those 4k projectors, kids.  Oh wait, did you say you don't have one of those?  Well, how about TV Logic's new 4k pixel-for-pixel LCD panel?  You saw it last year as a prototype, now you can buy one at your local "4k-Monitors-R-Us."  I'm guessing it'll cost a little more than that 19" Zenith flat-panel in your kitchen. But that's just a guess.

I finally finished my first-blush list of what I'm looking for at NAB 2011.  Of course, I know there will be some shiny object of geek desire that will distract me within five minutes of walking into the LVCC, ruining all my best-laid plans. But that's NAB baby!  Stay on target… stay on target…

Here's what I'll be looking at over the next three days.  I'll let you know what I find. Unless it's really gross.

Camera to Post gear.  Even though as a post facility we don't do any production, our clients do.  So we see nearly every camera format and have to know how to workflow it.  Since the camera—or DIT cart—is where it all the trouble starts, I'll be seeking out info on new cameras from Sony and Red, DIT tools like Flexxity, dax|Mobile, Silverstack and 3cd, and external recorders from Codex, Atomos and AJA.

Compression.  Our digital delivery guys would attack me with their sharp little teeth if I didn't check out the latest offerings from folks like Sorenson and Telestream.  "ProRes files created in Windows?  That's black magic, sir!"

Storage.  The great thing about SANs is you get lots of storage.  The bad thing about SANs is that it's never enough.  I'm going to put Active and Promise in a cage match to the death.  Who wins? Me.

File Transport Software.  Video tape isn't dead but it's in the old folks home waiting for its daily sponge bath.  So how do we get a 30 min ProRes file to a network?   Maybe Signiant and Aspera will have the answer.

3D Video Card.  I know there are lots of 3d video cards out there already but I need/want/crave a frame sequential 3D HDMI output that mimics the output of a 3D Blu-ray player.  C'mon people, I'm editing a 3D IMAX feature over here, is that too much to ask?

Monitors.  Even though I'm so in love with TV Logic I want to marry it and raise our human/LCD mutant children, I owe it to our shop to check out the latest from Panasonic, Marshall and maybe Sony.  But only if Sony is nice to me. 

Scopes.  Santa, I want a software scope with gamut and adjustable alarms.  Santa?  Oh no he's drunk again.

Media Asset Management.  There's nothing more exciting than shopping for a MAM—except almost anything else in the world. 

"Our system handles metadata."      "Really?  Well, my car has tires.'" 

The little guys.  I promise pretty please with sugar on it to make a pipe and drape table run around the back of the halls to see the whacked-out, weird and sometimes brilliant products from the people who can't afford much more than a foam core sign and a bathroom stall of floor space.  They just want some love.

Finally, the  Las Vegas Supermeet .  I called Apple and asked it out on a date to this yearly shindig Tuesday at Bally's.  Apple said it was busy that night.  Weird.  


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April 10, 2011
  The pre-NAB list
Posted By Mike Romey

Sunday night and getting ready for NAB.  Flying out of Burbank tomorrow morning with everyone else from Los Angeles — bound to see a few people I know on the flight. Thought I would put together a list of software and hardware offerings I plan on seeing at NAB 2011 this year.  Many of these companies make products that we use at Zoic. Hoping they will have some significant additions that will help production this year.

Hardware

1. Alexa camera and accessories from Arri

2. KiPro Mini and hardware announcements from AJA

3. Blackmagic Design hardware announcements

4. Cinedeck Extreme

5. Teradek HD camera top wireless video encoder

6. Element Technica Atom rig and accessories

7. Lightcraft’s Prevision system 

8. Codex digital content recording system

Software

1. Nuke and Storm from The Foundry

2. Shotgun Software's production tracking management software

3. Tweak Software’s RV software with SDI and Arri Raw support

4. Vizrt’s stereo 3D imagery using Christie Mirage Projector

5. Autdesk's MotionBuilder additions

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April 05, 2011
  Reflections on LA WEB FEST 2011
Posted By Ed Heede
By Ed Heede

LOS ANGELES — The untamed world of alternate indie cinema doesn’t get more independent or grass roots resourceful than what was at the Los Angeles Web Fest 2011 (www.lawebfest.com). A show I happened to attend at the tail end of March:

Back in the day, some might say a ‘70s and ‘80s Sundance Film Festival was the original antidote to the old studio entertainment machine. These days others would point to shows like LA Web Fest as more of an upstart challenge to the establishment “indie” sector that has been looking more Hollywood than “indie” for some time.

If true indie film means unfettered by anything more than the absolute will and imagination of true guerrilla filmmakers, then LA Web Fest surely qualified. Well over 100 films were shown from America, Europe and as far away as India and Australia. The event was kick-started in year 2010 by playwright and network TV writer Michael Ajakwe Jr., whose mantra remains, “You can find greatness in anyone — anywhere.”

Ajakwe is a believer in Web as a cinema platform and is passionate in defense of it. In his own words:

“I've worked as a writer and/or producer in Hollywood for 22 years, and some of the best, most engaging work I've ever seen is being created online. Most writers will admit that it is much more difficult to set up a story with a satisfying ending in three, six or 12 minutes rather than the 30-, 60-, 90- and 120-minute formats we've all grown up on. Many traditional content writers aren't hip to this super-short form of storytelling and can't do it well.  Most are afraid to climb into the Octagon and take a stab at it and even dismiss it as inferior storytelling when this type of storytelling actually requires tremendous craft to do well.  Sometimes, we marginalize things we don't understand."

To Ajakwe’s point, what I saw was a refreshing contrast in intimacy and quality for shortform projects across the board. Many works were original with a raw edge often absent from mainstream and more traditional venues.

As to the tech capture and post side: Virtually all projects were lensed on Canon 5D or 7D cameras and posted on Final Cut Studio. This, for the simple fact that the Canon/Apple combo offered ease of use into post with that all-important cinema look that filmmakers crave. With so many of 2011 Sundance projects shot on Canon hardware, and theater chains, like AMC, open to do business with indie filmmakers, LA Web Fest seems another clear sign of a trend that bodes large for all players at the cinema sector. (On that score, the upcoming NAB Show is often where such market lessons are either publicly learned or fumbled by the brands we have all come to know and respect. But more on that in the days ahead.)

Whatever happens on the tech side, the object of cinema is channeling good stories to an audience. With fresh voices finding a path to do that through the Web and shows like LA Web Fest, it’s no stretch to say Michael Ajakwe and others like him are on to something. What it all becomes seems a large question in search of larger answers.
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