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October 2014
Issue: Workstations - May 2008

AJA CARDS HELP STREAMLINE THE TONIGHT SHOW'S VFX PIPELINE

HOLLYWOOD - The Tonight Show with Jay Leno is using AJA's Xena 2Ke video card as part of its VFX editing pipeline. Xena 2Ke is the company's high-end card for Windows Vista and XP systems, and delivers uncompressed SD, HD and Dual Link HD video, enabling customers to work with 2K frames in a future-safe architecture.

Mac McAlpin (pictured) has been the VFX editor for The Tonight Show for 15 years and says he uses the Xena 2Ke card for both ingesting HD greenscreen footage, as well as for the show's Adobe After Effects compositing workflow. As head of the VFX editing team, McAlpin works with After Effects artist Gary Reisman and VFX editor Fred Kaplan. Adobe After Effects is a core tool for the team and the Xena 2K aids in video ingest and playback.

The show's production pipeline includes Sony HDCAM as the main acquisition format and a separate Avid Nitris department for editing. The VFX team produces pre-recorded greenscreen comedic segments for the show, along with credit roll montages and last-minute effects.

The Tonight Show was introduced to the AJA card by LA-based systems integrator/AJA dealer DV411, which has been servicing the program for over ten years. "When The Tonight Show needed a realtime HD key-out solution with bullet-proof reliability that would also work well with After Effects and the HP xw9300 workstation, the AJA Xena 2Ke was an obvious choice," says Cutter Stevens, technical director of DV411.