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Recent Blog Posts in September 2012

September 26, 2012
  IBC 2012 - A Retrospective (Part 2)
Posted By Sam Johnson
Blackmagic Terranex
I remember last year visiting the the Terranex stand at IBC and looking at all they had to offer as we were looking for a hardware standards converter that didn't cost the earth, unfortunately Terranex's 2011 offering was still out of reach for a small post-house budget. 

So I was pleased to hear about Blackmagic Design's recent acquisition of Terranex, and then the release of the standard conversion processors at this year's NAB. 



Blackmagic offer 2 flavors, a 2D and a 3D model. Each are $1,995 and $3,995 respectfully and offer the following features;

- Up Conversion
- Down Conversion
- SD/HD Cross Conversion
- SD/HD Standards Conversion
- Cadence Detect and Remove
- Noise Reduction
- Adjustable Scaling
- Aspect Radio Conversion
- Smart Aspect
- Converts Timecode
- Includes 16 Channel Audio
- 3D Camera Align (3D Model Only)
- 3D Dual Channel Standards Conversion (3D Model Only)
- 3D Simulation (3D Model Only)

For a hardware solution that used to cost upward of $90,000 thats now no more than $4,000, whats the catch? Right? I have no idea how they have kept costs so low, especially since Blackmagic insist that they are still using Terranex components. Which leads me to believe that it must be down to mass production. 

I was demoed a 29.97fps 1920x1080 to a 25fps 1920x1080 conversion. I must say the result was brilliant. No 3:2 Pulldown issues that usually interfere with these type of interlaced conversions. Other demos were limited, but from the demo I was given I cant wait to get my hands on it and give it a real run for its money.   

Software solutions are coming along, and are decent enough for speed-up conversions, but for now, nothing beats a hardware standards converter. Especially that of a box at this price. 

It is available now worldwide. More information on the Blackmagic Terranex processors head here;

http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/teranex/

Continue reading "IBC 2012 - A Retrospective (Part 2)" »

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September 21, 2012
  IBC 2012 - A Retrospective (Part I)
Posted By Sam Johnson
I've had a week and bit to digest this year's IBC and thought I'd reflect. T'was a funny conference. It was filled with a lot of the same tech that was announced/demoed at BVE, NAB and even IBC 2011, so there was a slight lack of new announcements. That said, there were a few interesting things that I will highlight.

CANTEMO/VIDISPINE    
It was the year of the MAM/DAM solutions. Almost every stand I visited had some sort of cloud solution. Of the ones that interested and offered a complete solution, Cantemo (with a Vidispine backend) was arguable the best on offer.

Cantemo (www.cantemo.com) offers two solutions, MediaBox and Portal. Main difference between the two is licensing and site-to-site collaboration, but both other a complete MAM solution. Built around the Vidispine API, you can collaborate, annotate and integrate into your NLE. I was shown integration/round trip workflow between Cantemo and Adobe Premiere and was very impressed. By using Adobe extension manager you are able to integrate straight into Premiere as a docked window. Making it that much easier for ops to get access to the media. Has also been developed for FCP 7 and X, though integration isn't as seamless.

It has a proprietary transcoder, which can encode on import and deliver to multiple locations, should you wish. If Cantemo's own transcoder isn't good enough, you have the ability to integrate/send to third-party software such as Telestream's Episode. In fact the sky is hypothetical limit with Cantemo. Scripted using python, Cantemo have provided many a customer with customized solutions.

ADOBE ANYWHERE
One of the larger announcements at this year's IBC was Adobe's Anywhere platform. A tool for editors using Adobe Premiere and Prelude to cross collaborate by using Adobe streaming servers.

We were demoed Anywhere by evangelist Jason Levine and a colleague in Berlin. They were working with 1920x1080 media (codecs not predefined) and were round-tripping sequences between each other whilst connecting to the same media. Was a very slick presentation, and they insisted that no proxies were used. Instead it Adobe's Mercury Streaming Engine that will optimize to your network and dynamically maintain realtime playback. Full technical details are yet to be released though.

It's great tech, but thought why would I use this? I've got a perfectly good SAN. It seems as if it is being aimed at production/post houses that use freelance talent. They would not be limited to local talent, instead anyone from around the world (who had Premiere Pro CS6) would be able to log into shop's server and begin working. Also looking at aiming it toward tech managers who could use it in a disaster recovery scenario, where  should staff not have access to the building but are still able to work off site.

It is currently limited to Premiere Pro and Prelude, though should it take off, I imagine After Effects and the other apps would follow suit.

Sam Johnson is currently senior production engineer at AMV BBDO (www.amvbbdo.com), a large UK-based ad agency.

Continue reading "IBC 2012 - A Retrospective (Part I)" »

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September 18, 2012
  Making the switch: Mac to PC
Posted By David Bourne
In my work as a video editor and as an instructor, I try to focus on the importance of storytelling over the importance of the tools. But it's hard. Good storytelling elements never change, whereas video editing tools change like the weather.



For example, I often get asked by my small business clients, "What's the best editing software or hardware these days?" This question bugs the heck out of me.

I want to tell them, "Don't focus on the tools. Focus on storytelling, because that's what matters most." But I understand the question all too well. As small business owners, my clients want the same things that I want: an efficient, organized solution that gives them a better, more creative result.

But don't get me wrong here. It's not the "What tool is best?" question that bothers me. It's that I spend so much time and energy focusing on the tools myself!

BACKGROUND

In my 21 years as a visual storyteller, I've switched from tape-based AB roll editing to Premiere on the Mac, to the Media 100, then back to Premiere on the PC. I've tried Avid, I've been a faithful Final Cut Pro user, and I recently even tried to like FCP X.

I was super excited about FCP X before it came out, but after trying it, I knew it was time to switch. I simply did not like it for many reasons that I won't go into now. I knew that Apple was going in a different direction than I was. The MacPro needed a major update that has still not come as of September 2012. Apple seemed to put faith in their expensive and slow-to-grow Thunderbolt option, so that did not excite me either.

I dreaded a move to another editing solution, but I knew it had to happen. Switching takes time, energy and money but I knew I had to do something. My 4-year-old Mac Pro was bound to die and I'd be up the creek.

- Was the Dell/Nvidia Combo Worthy of the Switch?
That's when Dell threw me a curve ball out of nowhere. They were looking for Mac users who would consider trying a Dell Workstation. As you can see in my initial response and project history <http://wilderize.com/pcmacvideo/> , I told them yes but don't expect too much. I love my Macs and had no plans to switch back to a PC.

At first, I was skeptical. It was not because of Dell, though. I had used Dells for many years when I worked at Duke University and at UNC. My skepticism came from the difficulty of integrating two platforms: the Mac and Windows. I plan to keep using my 4-year-old Mac Pro, so the difficulty of throwing a Windows machine into my workflow did not excite me, even though I knew the Dell would be a faster editor.

By the end of my review process, I discovered many advantages to adding a Dell.

Check out my list and see why even a Mac user should consider a Dell solution.

1. Adobe's Premiere Pro Has Become a Top Choice
I switched back to Premiere Pro  after being a Final Cut Pro user for four years. Premiere is better at handling DSLR footage than FCP, and it has better integration with PhotoShop, AfterEffects and Audition.

Adobe's Mercury Playback Engine does a great job with the color conversion. When used with Nvidia Quadro cards you get very fast, realtime edits and quick output renders. I'm using the Quadro 5010M and it screams.

Premiere's program files and media will work on both the Mac and the PC with few problems. This is a huge advantage, especially since Adobe has put Premiere on the cloud. I can now use two copies of all their cloud software: One set on the Mac and one on the PC. You had to buy two copies to do that before.

2. Cross-Platform File Sharing has Gotten Better
Like most of my small business clients, I edit everything myself, so file sharing between machines has not been a big issue. When I added the PC into my workflow, it became a problem. I use Gigabit ethernet for networking, but direct disk access is best.

Thankfully, the new XFAT file system  that works with Windows 7 and OSX version 10.6.5 or above, allows me to swap ESATA or USB3 hard drives between platforms. (Never mind that my MacPro does not have a good USB3 solution.)

3. The Dell Workstations are Very Capable
Like I said earlier, Dell and Nvidia gave me an awesome machine to try out and to keep. The M6600 laptop  has a fast processor, a built in ESATA port, two USB3 ports, Firewire 600, 3 internal drives (two 2.5 in. drive slots, one micro drive) and there is still room for a DVD burner. The 17 in. display is wonderful and the Quadro externally displays via SVGA, HDMI, or a Display Port.

One big recent surprise to me: Apple no longer sells a 17 inch laptop! The 15 in. Retina Display is certainly great, but I'm not sure it makes up for the smaller physical size.

Speaking of size, I must add that the larger size of the Dell comes with a tradeoff in thickness and weight over the Macbook Pro, but that's the tradeoff for more flexibility and power without having to add Thunderbolt peripherals.

4. Windows is Better than it Used to Be
Please excuse my Mac bias, but Windows annoys the heck out of me. My last experience was with Vista, so it could not have gotten much worse than that. All in all, working with Windows 7 on the Dell has not been too bad.

One thing that helps a lot: most of my daily productivity apps (Evernote, Gmail, and Dropbox ) are now on the cloud. I miss the beautiful simplicity of the Mac OS when I'm editing on the Dell, but in a way that is good. It keeps me focused on what I'm supposed to be doing: editing video!

5. Apple has Shifted Focus from Professional Video Editors

As a professional editor, I feel like like Apple has given us the proverbial finger. And we were their darlings for so many years! (Students of brand loyalty and emotional connections to products can learn a lot by looking at Apple's shift in this market.)

FCP X now caters to the middle, where there are more numbers of folks buying. This is not good for many video pros nor for small businesses who need more flexible solutions.

Dell, on the other hand, is going over backwards for the pro video market. They make it very clear that they want our business.
- What's the Answer to the Question Now?
Ask me today "What tool is best?" and I will recommend Premiere Pro with a Quadro card in a Dell workstation. Or if you already love OSX, buy a Mac and know that you will be super compatible with the majority of the world's PCs.

David Bourne is the Owner of Bourne Media.

Continue reading "Making the switch: Mac to PC" »

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September 14, 2012
  IBC: storage, archiving, asset management
Posted By Tom Coughlin
AMSTERDAM - Video capture, production, distribution and archiving require significant investments in equipment and software.  As a consequence significant media industry events include a lot of digital storage and stored content management booths on the exhibit floor and some sessions focusing on storage, archiving and asset management topics.  This piece looks at some of the many products and services on display at the 2013 IBC in Amsterdam.

There were storage offerings a plenty and with a great many interfaces including direct connect as well as network connections.  Among the products shown, Marquis was offering project parking for archiving, distributing and restoring Avid projects.  Dynamic Drive Pool (DDP) showcased their Ethernet SAN products for file-based workflows. Promise Technology was showing their latest Thunderbolt products. These systems could be seen at many other booths in the IBC exhibit area. Atto was another company whose PCIe, Thunderbolt and HBA products were in wide use at the IBC.  HGST (a division of Western Digital) was also showing its Thunderbolt and other storage products and many storage arrays at the IBC were using HGST HDDs.

Active Storage was demonstrating their Mmedia systems, offering an integrated media creation storage platform for storing and managing content from ingest to archive. The mRAID offers scalable and easy to use mass storage and including an environmental processor to control the system environment and out-of-band communication. Their mVault scalable media archive offers Petabytes of near-line content storage.

LaCie (soon to be part of Seagate Technology) was showcasing Thunderbolt external SSD drives (two of these could be used in a RAID-0 configuration to provide up to 1 GBps data rates).   Likewise CalDigit was showing SSD as well as HDD external storage products.  Samsung and Toshiba were showing storage and memory components at the IBC.  There were European storage product distributors such as Stordis showing products by many vendors at the show.  In addition to iSCSI and Fibre Channel SAN products, Studio Network Solutions also offered XTarget software to turn any Mac with attached storage into an iSCSI SAN.

GB Labs debuted their Space network storage systems, offering various sized storage configurations for SSD, HDD and tape NAS storage.  Accusys was showing their ExaSAN PCIe disk arrays.  Their products include an interesting PCIe SAN switch technology that provide external PCIe SAN connectivity, facilitating up to 60Gbps data rates.  Object Matrix had their MatrixStore cost effective and feature rich nearline storage for file-based workflows.  Apace showcased its portfolio of media management, workflow and clustered storage system products for the media industry.  Facilis showed their shared storage for post  with both Fibre Channel and Ethernet connectivity.  SGI was at the show with its Modular open storage NAS offering.  XOR Media is the former hardware part of SeaChange, and they were showing their storage systems geared for advanced content delivery.

EMC Isilon was demonstrating its scale-out storage solutions that have been popular for many media and entertainment library systems.  Thelatest products offer up to 15PB with 100GBps data rates. Avere was showing their FXT Edge Filers providing high performance and cloud storage for some M&E applications by caching active data on their FXT clusters at the edge near the user to eliminate WAN latency issues.  JMR was showing their desktop PCIe SATA/SATA RAID storage products for use with video workstations. Tiger Technology was showcasing clustered storage and SAN appliances.  Rorke (part of Avnet) was showing its Fibre Channel SAN products as well as NAS and archiving products.  HDS had a significant presence showing their high performance storage systems geared for the M&E market.

Aframe is offering video production in the cloud and collaborative workflows between video editors in multiple remote locations.  TATA Communications from India is offering media communication services enabling collaborative workflows as well. Scality advertised a Sync-N-Share software, which looked like it also could be used for cloud-based collaborative projects. DataDirect Networks also presented its Cloud Storage  (Object Storage) products for distributed media workflows.

There were a variety of external recording devices on display for direct camera storage or for rapid transfer from camera flash card formats to external HDDs.  These included products from Nexto DI and Gemini 4:4:4.  Mediaproxy unveiled an uypdated logserver with 80-100 TB of RAID storage.  Aspera introduced its FASP 3 high-speed content transport technology enabling cloud object support, file sharing and content distribution with various delivery options and support for Microsoft Windows Azure and providing full resolution media sharing between remote Avid editing stations.

Xendata demonstrated its LTO Video Archive products using LTO-5 tape while For-A was showing their LTO realtime archiving and production solutions.  StorageDNA was offering LTO-5 LTFS file-based workflow products.  Cache-A likewise was showing LTO storage products.  Quantum had a large display showing their upgrades to the StorNext DAM platform and its support in its HDD and tape based products.  SGL was showing its content archive and storage management solutions.  Spectra Logic had examples of its large LTO storage libraries at its booth. Front Porch Digital was showing its asset management and cloud archiving solutions.  Quotium Technologies is a European company with software that can do pro-active monitoring large digital archives.

There are new and important initiatives afoot in Europe. The EBU is working on creating standards for the long-term storage and preservation of file-based media assets. NHK was showing their Super Hi-Vision 8K X 4K video from the 2012 Summer Olympics, which will drive a pixel count (and likely storage and bandwidth requirement) that is 16 times that of today's HDTV. Other groups are pushing multiple camera content capture to create free-viewpoint video imaging - perhaps part of the technology needed to make a working holodeck. In my last blog, I discussed very high frame rate demonstrations at the 2012 IBC (1,000 fps or higher and resolution up to 4K) but even many modern 4K professional cameras run as high as 120 fps. The DVB technology group was demonstrating next generation content delivery technology and MPEG DASH and HVEC compression should help with adaptive streaming through the internet as well as better compression algorithms for high resolution content. IBM was showing its archive solutions at the show and folks from the LTO consortium indicated that the first LTO 6 format products would be released in 2013. 

Whew, that is a lot of companies, and I am sure that I didn't get all of them - too many companies in multiple halls and too little time.  Nevertheless it should be clear that the media and entertainment industry is driving a lot of digital storage and storage management innovation.  As the frame rate, resolution and number of cameras increase the innovation required in content compression, storage capacity and storage bandwidth will continue to grow - bit overflow indeed!

Tom Coughlin runs Coughlin Associates,  www.tomcoughlin.com

 

Continue reading "IBC: storage, archiving, asset management" »

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September 12, 2012
  IBC 2012: IBC Under the Sun and another successful year
Posted By Robert Keske
The Sun and stars shined this year, with stunning days and nights. I always enjoy traveling to the beautiful city of Amsterdam to attend IBC, but this year was something special. 

IBC really showed it's strength this year, with the addition of IBC Connected World - in Hall 14, and the Meeting Suites. I believe that IBC Connected World, an area of IBC which "encapsulates the very latest developments in mobile TV, 3G and 4G services," led this year's theme: "Connected" or "Collaboration"...whatever you want to call it. This year's exhibitors delivered, as technology providers always had an answer when asked how to best connect/talk to the team back at Nice Shoes, my clients or the rest of the industry. The latest collaboration tools and standards were being delivered and communicated across all levels of our industry in a single exhibition hall.  
 
Robert Keske is the CTO at Nice Shoes in NYC. The studio is a full service, artist-driven design, animation, visual effects and color grading facility specializing in high-end commercials, web content, film, TV and music videos.
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September 11, 2012
  IBC 2012: Day 5 - Hall 7, The Closing Bell
Posted By Katie Hinsen


Hall 7 on the final day of IBC 2012.

Today was the final day of IBC 2012. I could feel it, the demo artists were adding a little last-day flavor to their presentations, the vendors finally had a chance to rush around and see each others' products, and the visitors were wheeling around their suitcases, grabbing the last of the freebies and making last minute deals before flying home to every corner of the world.

It was much quieter today. Still buzzing, but in more of a muffled drone. Many of the visitors and sales people had already left, and those remaining at the RAI were tired; slower moving, and conversations were muted. There was a general understanding, read on all faces, that both the conference and the city had been enjoyed to the fullest extent this week.

I decided if there was anywhere I wanted to be at the moment the end of the conference was announced, it was Hall 7. Post people are my people, and I knew there would be an air of relief when people finally got to take off their corporate garb and get back to being relaxed, easy-going techs and creatives. As the last half-hour approached, demo screens turned to countdown clocks. People started packing up and announcer mics were unplugged so that the audio systems could be used to play music instead.

As visitors left to grab the first of hundreds of taxis outside, exhibitors cracked open hard-earned drinks and sat around the shells of their booths. 

I strolled out onto the sunny streets of Amsterdam, inspired, exhausted, and excited to do it all again in 2013.


At the announcement of the closing of IBC 2012, post people were smiling, sleeping, or sneaking out the door. Quantel, The Foundry and others passing by.
Continue reading "IBC 2012: Day 5 - Hall 7, The Closing Bell" »

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September 10, 2012
  IBC 2012: Day 4 - I Have Seen The Future
Posted By Katie Hinsen
People are getting "IBC Fatigue". I can feel it all around me, the excitement that existed a couple of days ago is diminishing. For the vendors, tomorrow is the light at the end of the tunnel. For the visitors, sleep and a chance to rest the feet is in sight. Today was less crowded, the past two days was when the conference swelled with all the Europeans who only took off work for the weekend. Last year there were over 50,000 people at IBC, and I'm told this year the show is much bigger. There is 900,000 square feet of indoor space, plus an additional large temporary show hall and an outdoor exhibit section. Those numbers make my economy class airplane seat seem even smaller.

To combat the feeling that I maybe no longer care about anything other than being in my own bed at home, I decided to spend the day looking for new and interesting technology and innovations. I dragged along a geeky cohort and we paced the halls looking out for anything we hadn't seen before.

The most interesting thing we noticed was the trend toward autostereoscopy. It's becoming more and more obvious that it's a technology that might not go away, and the industry is trying to push it into the home. This means it has to be of high quality, and low cost. 

Right now, there are two manufacturers of autostereoscopic displays, Alioscopy and Dimenco (an offshoot of Philips). These guys have been around for quite a while, but content has been mostly CG, produced specifically for the display. As stereo images are half-res (HD on an HDTV are only SD), depending on the system used autostereoscopic images can be much lower res still and there are generally only a few good viewing angles. 

Dolby and Sony are now showing 4K monitors that render from stereo to autostereo on-the-fly, so your 3D blu-ray or 3DHD broadcast content show at (upscaled in the conversion) HD/2K quality. Dolby's one is actually a Dimenco with 28 viewing angles, and a custom chip in the back that does the conversion pretty well. Everyone is talking about it at IBC this year. It stutters a little and distorts occasionally, and it hasn't got much depth to it but fantastic picture quality. 

Sony has done something really clever. They have come up with their own monitors. They have turned their VAIO LCDs into autosterescopic displays. They are doing this across the range, too- adding a conversion chipset to all their VAIO televisions, computer monitors, laptops, and handheld devices. You can turn the lenticular barrier on or off, so if you're not watching 3D you can still see perfect 2D. Even cooler than that, they are showing the holy grail of 3D... autostereoscopy with head tracking. There's a camera on the top of the screen, that uses facial recognition to find your eyes and make sure that no matter where you're sitting, you are in the "sweet spot". Now of course, this only works for one viewer, and it is still in need of a lot of development; but it's a great concept. 

Even further into the future, and deeper into the realms of geekdom, we have the serious R&D guys. The most impressive is actually the Fraunhofer Institute. These guys won the IBC Award for Best Conference Paper, for their research into autostereoscopy. 
  

They have a very fast chip for converting stereo to autostereo, so the quality is better. Even cooler in my mind, was actually their version of the Lytro camera that does light field video. So in the future, we might not be doing autostereoscopic conversion in post houses, but we could be replacing the on-set focus pullers.

The IBC Future Zone has a stand showing holographic autostereoscopy, and a stand showing autostereoscopy so fast, that it can convert live video. But I really do have to give massive credit to the research team at NHK in Japan. Instead of focusing on 3D like the rest of us, they are letting everyone else figure that out, and creating Super Hi-Vision. I watched clips of the London Olympics that they shot, on their 8K monitors with 22.2 channel audio, and I could see the individual faces of people in the stadium crowd. It was really, really amazing. The cameras have a 120 Hz image sensor, and 72 HD-SDI cables coming out the back.


Looking at the back of this beast, makes me glad I'm in post production!

Tomorrow is the last day of IBC 2012. The show officially closes at 4pm, and I'm sure every vendor who has been standing at a booth being nice to people for five days, will have a well-deserved drink to make up for having to watch the rest of us wandering around with freebies, brochures, beers, and lots to talk about, both from the show and after-hours in Amsterdam.
Continue reading "IBC 2012: Day 4 - I Have Seen The Future" »

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September 10, 2012
  IBC 2012: Day 3 - Less Trekking, More Teching
Posted By Katie Hinsen
Today was the day I planned to give my feet a rest and give my brain a decent workout with conference sessions. The biggest gossip of IBC is that Fuji have announced they will stop producing film at the end of 2012. That's huge news for everyone here I think. It is great for some, awful for others. 



However, my conference sessions today focused on the future, beyond film. The need for standards, and improvements in what we produce and how we produce it.

James Cameron and Vincent Pace gave a talk about what they call "5-D Production". Basically, it's a nice way of selling to clients that when we make something in 3-D, they get a 2-D deliverable as well. The production costs are the same, although the post costs are a little higher, but Cameron and Pace are on a mission to educate content buyers and distributors that having both deliverables is okay. Make something great in 3-D, and it will be great in 2-D as well. Around 70% of all televisions sold at the moment are 3-D capable. Cameron suggests that in about a year, autostereoscopic televisions will be ready for the consumer market, and we as content creators need to be ready. He's a man with high hopes for this, but the other speakers I heard today had a more important technical issue to press on us.

Audiences got really excited when they first saw decent quality images jumping out of the screen at them in recent years. Now, however, they're asking if the dorky glasses and occasional headaches are worth it, when the quality of the image is generally less than they have grown used to. I saw six conference sessions today, and I left with a definite sense that having a good knowledge of image standards and measurements, and a good knowledge of stereoscopy, is no longer good enough. 

I have got to start getting very serious about higher resolutions, higher frame rates, higher bit depth, and higher expectations from my clients, and their audiences. 

More importantly, ACES workflow, which is going to be a hard pill to swallow for most post houses and their colorists; is about to be the new standard for all deliverables. 

With the sad end of Fuji, and the very serious charge into ACES, times are about to change for us in post production. Quickly, and radically. So we had all better embrace the new, fire up our bandwidth, and have some fun with it. 
Continue reading "IBC 2012: Day 3 - Less Trekking, More Teching" »

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September 09, 2012
  IBC 2012: Day Two - Sore Head, Sore Feet, Big Smile
Posted By Katie Hinsen
Getting out of bed this morning hungover and jetlagged wasn't easy, but I was on a mission. I would see all of Hall 7.

The sheer scale of IBC is impressive. There are 17 halls and an outdoor exhibit. Hall 7 is the main Post Production hall, and it was going to take all day to see every exhibit that sparked my interest. But by golly, I'm a woman on a mission and no amount of fun and free drinks last night was going to slow me down. That's what coffee is for, and the Dutch do a great espresso.

Full of caffeine and Advil, I took my camera and notebook and entered the Post Production hall of IBC 2012. 

Many long hours later, I hit the bar with a few of my nerdy friends and rested my feet. I had collected two bags full of pamphlets, purchased a ShuttleXpress controller, and got my hands on the coolest freebie of Hall 7, Hitachi's sumo guy.


He's going on my desk when I get home.

Talking amongst ourselves, we decided pretty quickly that this show's post production buzz was about two things: Thunderbolt, and accessibility. The latter refers to companies making their high-end products available and accessible to the small company or at-home user. 

The most exciting example of that, is Baselight Editions. We already have a few software-only versions of high-end grading and effects toolsets, and they are fun. But this one is a plug-in. You can now have Baselight inside your Avid, with most of the features of the full Baselight including the Truelight LUT system. Right now it's only out for Mac Avid, and you can only grade with the Avid panels. But they've announced it for FCP 7 and Nuke, with Tangent Wave panel. That should be ready within about 6 months. A single license is for one computer, so if you have Avid, FCP and Nuke all on one machine your plugin will work across all three. 


Baseight Editions in Avid.

On the subject of Avid, they are showing off a new version of everything, but I can't write about it because I haven't explored it. I went to the shiny Avid stand, and asked a shiny lady if I could chat to someone, and was told that they aren't talking to anyone one-on-one. I waved my Press badge and was told someone from PR would call me. I haven't heard from them, so I suppose their shiny new line is a bit too polished to show to an editor like me. I'll scrub up and try again another day.

Boris FX has launched BCC8, and it's improved nicely. They have now put all their plug-ins into 16 well-origanized categories. They say they've tried to make their effects look more "film" but I think for the most part, they still look like BCC plug-ins. They have a proper 3D lens flare, and some nice new lights with automatic occlusion. They have added some really cool restoration tools, and some new scopes that also generate a log file of color errors in .txt format.

Blackmagic has the biggest stand at the show this year, but no racecar. They don't need one, their products are new, exciting, and clever. Resolve 9 is out now, the Beta test is over. It has about 100 new features, and a great new GUI. It's definitely improved and much less clunky. They have also embraced Thunderbolt across their line. Both Blackmagic and AJA have added Thunderbolt to their converters/extenders, Blackmagic is the only one to be certified to run Thunderbolt for Windows. 


Blackmagic Mini Monitor and AJA T-Tap, Thunderbolt to SDI/HDMI.

The EMC booth had a magician, the most interesting way to demo a product that shifts data. If you want to experience the Autodesk booth from afar, they are streaming and uploading their demos and presentations to area.autodesk.com. They don't show card tricks though. The SGO, Foundry and Autodesk booths also have magicians of sorts, they have regular presentations by users and artists from post houses such as Park Road Post, PrimeFocus and Sinneszellen.

One thing that I noticed, was that almost nobody is developing stuff for FCPX. When asked why, they all say it's because nobody is using it. Companies are still developing new products for FCP7 as if the whole "X" thing never happened in the professional world.

I drooled over all the little toys and peripherals. I have a very extensive list for Santa Claus this year. I left Hall 7 with a sore head, sore feet, and a big smile. 
Continue reading "IBC 2012: Day Two - Sore Head, Sore Feet, Big Smile" »

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September 08, 2012
  IBC 2012: Slowing Time - Massing Data
Posted By Tom Coughlin
Physicists in the last ten years have accomplished an incredible feat; they have slowed and even stopped light using ultra cold plasmas.  The light is absorbed in the plasma and does not radiate again until a laser beam perpendicular to the original path of the first light beam irradiates the ultra cold plasma and excites to it reemit the light along its original path. Since the motion of light in a sense defines our local perception of time we might say that these experiments have slowed and even stopped time, within the ultra cold plasma used to absorb the energy of the light beam.



In a similar sense, a video played at very slow speeds can enhance our perception of time and make us aware of features of the scene that might otherwise pass unnoticed.  Many folks have seen this effect but it is only when the video frame rate becomes very high that these temporal details become more clear.  When you combine this with high-resolution video images the effect is striking.  At the 2012 IBC conference I had an opportunity to experience close to 1,000 frames per second, true 4k video at the For-A exhibit.

For-A announced their Super Slo Mo Camera earlier in 2012 (the FT-ONE).  While other professional video cameras are available that can shoot greater than 1,000 fps HD video (2K, such as the Phantom Miro M320S), this is the first 4K slow-motion video I have seen up close.  In a small display room For-A showed footage of Orcas jumping out of the water, competitive skiers as well as canons and explosives.  With the high resolution images the slow motion revealed amazing details.  I saw many effects in great detail that I had previously only read about in physics books-amazing...  Just seeing such video answers the question about what you can do with higher video frame rates.



While high-resolution video at even higher rates has been demonstrated in university labs-just check out youtube videos to see some of this work, the For-A camera is a commercially available product (selling for about $135,000 US). This camera captures uncompressed raw data on an internal RAM memory with a recording capacity of 8.5 seconds. Two hot-swappable SSD cartridges (each capable of storing 75 seconds of 4K images) are used for the content capture.  Clearly the data rate for capturing this content is large.   Higher capacity, very high data rate storage devices will be needed to make it possible to capture more than about 150 seconds of content.

Most modern professional video cameras can capture content up to 120 fps. At higher resolution (and with stereoscopic content) these frame rates will be needed to prevent motion artifacts that distract from a video experience.  Devices such as the For-A Slow Mo Camera point to where these frame rate trends could go in the future to capture details and create special effects that might not be possible otherwise. The storage capacity and bandwidth required are daunting today but probably not so much in another ten years. Higher frame rates, higher resolutions (NHK was showing its 8K X 4K video shot at the 2012 Summer Olympics) and more cameras simultaneously capturing video content will create a new generation of visual experiences within a decade or so and they will require significant increases in the required bandwidth and storage capacity to make this happen.

Thomas M. Coughlin, the founder of Coughlin Associates, has over 30 years of magnetic recording engineering and engineering management experience at companies developing flexible tapes and floppy disc storage as well as rigid disks at such companies as Polaroid, Seagate Technology, Maxtor, Micropolis, Nashua Computer Products, Ampex and SyQuest.

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September 07, 2012
  IBC 2012 - Day 1: Racecars in a sea of traffic
Posted By Katie Hinsen
This is my first IBC. I'm an editor, colorist, 3D artist and all-round nerd. Coming to IBC has been a fantasy of mine for years, and here I am. 

My first day at the show has been pretty overwhelming. It's huge, and bustling. The halls are hot and stuffy, so it's no wonder so many people spend time in the large outdoor bar area. Mind you, when in Holland, drinking beer is the thing to do. Among the offerings for lunch at IBC was traditional Dutch fare: a "combo meal" of 8 fried meatballs and two bottles of beer.

The RAI is a maze of exhibition halls, divided into zones. I spent my first day wandering around, exploring, trying to get my bearings. Companies with a lot of money have large, flashy booths, usually offering refreshments. Taking Quantel's lead from NAB a couple of years back, it is now cool to have a racecar in your booth. I understand GoPro suggesting that their range of cameras perform best when mounted on a racecar... but I'm not sure how one is expected to color correct, or watch a large HD televsion, while driving one. 


GoPro suggests mounting an HD camera on your F1 vehicle, and a Stereoscopic camera on your rally car.

I wandered around the Post Production and New Media section for quite a while, figuring out my first priorities for demos while I'm here. Avid is showing off MC 6.5, and Quantel has re-launched the software-only version of Pablo that they announced at NAB, now calling it "Pablo Rio" and pairing it with a new mini version of the Neo panel. And, unlike at NAB where they seemed to have rushed the announcement to keep up with the 64-bit buzz, they are actually selling and shipping it now. For those who look closely enough, Quantel are also sort-of showing a new product that is in development for 3D. It's a separate piece of software, designed to fix stereoscopy errors. It also exports depth maps. I'm keen to see where that goes, as it looks like they are working on keeping up with SGO's Mistika which already does everything Quantel are trying to develop, but for those companies who don't want to make the move to a new DI solution, Quantel might just be getting back into the competition.

The Future Zone is a section of IBC that I was very excited to explore. It's much smaller than I expected, but I suppose most of the companies that focus on creative and innovative R&D aren't making enough money for a specially designed, expansive booth with a cafe and a racecar. This section is like a toy store for me. NHK, the Japanese broadcaster with their own in-house Sci-Tech research lab, was screening sections of the London Olympics in Super Hi-Vision (8K television with 22.2 channel sound). Less serious but more fun was the throwable panoramic ball-camera, and the impressive holographic method of autostereoscopy that provides a seamless 70 viewing angles.

Of course I couldn't go past the Focal Press bookstand, so I bought myself an appropriately nerdy souvenir. I had to. 


Some light reading for the flight home.

Katie Hinsen is an editor, colorist and graphics artist working at Goldcrest Post in NYC. She can be reached at katie.hinsen@gmail.com.

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September 05, 2012
  IBC 2012: Leading the Electronic Media and Entertainment Industry
Posted By Robert Keske
Attending IBC is always exciting from a cultural perspective. From the attendees who have travelled from all over the world, to Amsterdam's own unique culture and atmosphere, it's an opportunity to meet people and see things that I wouldn't encounter every day, even working in New York City. 



On one level, IBC exhibitors display our industry's solutions, software, and hardware, in order to showcase their wares. But IBC exhibitors also give the attendees a glimpse into the future, offering a look at where both professional and consumer technologies are headed. I'm looking forward to yet another glimpse into the future at this year's IBC, while also seeing how what I got a peek at last year has panned out.

IBC's catchphrase, "Leading the Electronic Media and Entertainment Industry,' is something that I feel rings true, and I look forward to seeing what the technological leaders in our field will be showcasing this year.

Robert Keske is the CTO at Nice Shoes in NYC. The studio is a full service, artist-driven design, animation, visual effects and color grading facility specializing in high-end commercials, web content, film, TV and music videos.
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