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High Definition Video for Independent Filmmakers
A How To Guide for Digital Filmmakers
Welcome all! This is my blog to share my latest research,
thoughts, etc. on utilizing HD for independent filmmaking.
YES, I am available for consulting
Contact me at email@example.com
All content copyright 2004-2007 Mike Curtis.
Monday, January 31, 2005
The new 17-inch PowerBook also includes built-in optical digital audio input and output for connecting to devices such as decks, receivers, digital instruments and 5.1 surround sound systems. Because optical digital audio transmits data as impulses of light rather than electrical signals, it enables true, noise-free, pristine sound ó eliminating troublesome ground loops and ensuring higher audio and signal quality
So if you want to do 5.1 channel audio work in the field, the 17" model is the way to go - the 12" and 15" don't have it.
Further updated: see this link for more on other unique features of the 17" model
Apple announced improved Powerbooks today.
-all models include Airport Extreme (already had in previous versions) and BlueTooth 2.0, which is faster than the 1.0 spec (when working with 2.0 rated devices). Also lets you do GPRS data transfer.
-all models include a new Sudden Motion Sensor which detects sudden changes in postion/rotation such as from dropping the 'book, and quickly parks the drive heads to prevent data loss. This is a biggie.
-all SuperDrive models include 8x DVD+/-R buring SuperDrives
-all models include 512 MB RAM base (finally!) that is of course upgradeable.
-bigger hard drives of up to 100 GB
-all models include the new scrolling trackpad, which lets you drag two fingers at a time to scroll or pan around a document (slick!)
-All 15 & 17 inch models includ the backlit keyboard now
AppleIsider has a nice summary of all the specs.
All of the new models have faster procesors, which is good, but implies that they might draw more power, thus reducing battery life per charge, which is not so good.
Larger and faster stock hard drives are an improvement as well.
Backlit keyboars standard instead of BTO is good, since it greatly helps working in the dark.
An increase to 512 MB RAM is long overdue. For the 12" models, it's actally a bit of a pain, since the cost effective upgrade is to ditch the 256 MB (or sell it on eBay or whatever) and buy a 1GB stick, since the 12" only has one slot for memeory. For the 15 & 17 inch models, the 512 MB stick is a good thing, since that means you can add another 512 MB to get up to the 1GB required for FCP HD editing.
The Sudden Motion Sensor is BIG news, since that vastly increases the survival ods for data on a dropped laptop. Dropping your laptop is perhaps the leading cause of data death among young powerbooks. (Yes I'm punning)
DVD+/-R burning in an 8x SuperDrive: the ability to burn "whatever" media si definitely a plus, and 8x is a big bump up from 4x for DVD burning.
Bluetooth 2.0: nice but not mandatory. I'm not awar of any bluetooth 2.0 devices, but forard compatibility is a always a good idea. The website mentioned something about GPRS data communication that I didn't understand fully, perhaps something about using your cellphone as a modem? Not sure.
The 12": is what I use (I have last year's model) I like that it is very small and has long batery life (up to 3 1/2 hours the way I use it when writing). Pros: small, light, fast enough for FCP editing, can burn DVDs. Cons: 1.5 GHz max, no FireWire 800 port, no PCMCIA slot, no backlit keyboard, screen too small for full sized 720p previewing, tiny speakers. Only one RAM slot, so 1GB max, and it's an expensive stick of RAM (much more expensive per GB than 2 512 MB sticks would be). Screen isn't so great - has been described as "the only iBook screen in the PowerBook line." Single FireWire 400 port can be a problem with some FireWire based video decks.
The 15": Pros: up to 1.67 GHz (fastest available), DOES have FireWire 800 and PCMCIA (PCMCIA will matter for editors later this year, all I can say for now), better speakers, 1280 pixel wide screen is sufficient for 1:1 720p previewing, bigger screen also gives FCP more room to breathe for the UI (user interface, windows etc.)backlit keyboard standard now, 2 RAM slot for more flexible and affordable RAM upgrading, MUCH better/brighter screen than the 12". Cons: Hmm, not a lot. Bigger, heavier and more expensive than the 12", shorter battery life...tha's about all I can think of.
The 17" aka "the Cafeteria Tray": the El Jefe PowerBook. Pros: huge screen gives lots of room to see bins and preview windows in FCP, including a 100% sized preview window AND a timeline at t the same time. Ports etc. are the same as the 15", includes the backlit keybaord standard. Envy of all who witness it. Cons: Big and heavy and awkward. Using it in an airline seat is an Experience, and not in a good way. Bigger screen is big, but not big enough for 1:1 1080 res viewing. Shorter battery life than other models most likely (I don'thae hard numbers on that) but a big screen is a big power draw.
So if you are looking at old vs. new PowerBooks, unless you saved $400 or more dollars, I'd suggest getting one of the new PowerBooks as the way to go.
The 15" is probably a good fit for a lot of people. If you have the budget for the 17", evaluate the practicality of it before plunking down tall coin on it.
If you're on a budget, the 15" is best bang/buck. The 12" does a lot, but does have some functional hindrances (solo FW400 port, 1GB RAM max), and upgrading it to FCP HD specs is costly (single RAM slot, costly 1GB RAM sticks).
Update: but if you want built-in optical digital audio, the 17" is the only model that supports this. Are there FireWire breakout boxes that support 5.1? I'm not sure, I'm not an audio guy.
So evaluate your total package costs, not just the machine "plus stuff".
Worth reading to understand some of the things that will matter to HD folks over the next few years, including HD broadast and high definition DVDs using H.264. A bit of a rah-rah piece for Apple, but still good stuff to be aware of. Not that it's all going to go the way they're calling it, but to see the potential.
It seems there's a problem with my HDV workflow - it works for FILES imported into iMovieHD, but NOT for video captured into iMovieHD when dealing with 1080i Sony HDV footage. Not having a camera myself, I can't test it.
Apple has released iMovieHD 5.01, which Apple claims resolves some timing issues with audio/video syncronization.
-had a long technical email conversation with a smart geeky guy (and I mean that in the best possible way) who said that HDCAM cameras (Sony F900) basically just have two DV chips in there for sensors, and that's why HDCAM format only records 1440 pixels wide - two times DV's 720 pixels wide=1440. What about vertical resolution? I didn't get an answer that I fully understood, but he was implying that it isn't all that great. Along those lines, the reason why DVCPRO HD is 960x720 pixels is because the CCD sensors in the Varicam cameras are that size - two standard def CCDs (720x480) stood up sideways on their ends (720 tall now) and set side by side (960 wide from 2x480). Disheartening - both Sony and Panasonic go to great lengths to make us think otherwise.
UPDATE But I keep hearing conflictin info in that, so I'm not sure. The CODEC on both of thse is actually lower res (1440 not 1920 on HDCAM, 960 not 1280 on Varicam), so I dunno. yet another source said they were working with the systemand needed to know the resoloution of the CCDs for some code, and it was in fact 1920x1080. So looks like I had it wrong.
Graeme pointed out that the CCDs on the Panavised HDCAM are
two 4:3 chips glued together wouldn't give you that shape or size.
Saturday, January 29, 2005
Beyond issues of temporal frequency (24 progressive versus 30 interlaced frames per second), it also looks into depth of field, sharpness, etc. are discussed.
Worth the read.
Friday, January 28, 2005
It addresses shooting modes, editing software, frame rates to shoot with, stuff like that.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
"ok.. i can maybe clear up a few things
core image definitely support at least 16bit half float in hardware
there was mention of 32 bit float relating to the windowing system, but how thats translates to CI and wether thats hardware or software i dont know
as for previewing 16bit images on 8bit monitors..
its usually not a problem... most banding issues are a side effect of pushing that limited 8bit data around.. and the rounding up and down of values that this causes.
as for shake being a usuable DI tool
its would requre a massive overhaul of the way shake's timeline works.
as it currently stands its complete crap for working with more than 1 shot
especially if there is any chance the edit might change..
none of the roto tools for example, can have their keyframes slipped in time"
Voom also has this glossary of HD related terms, but they're all consumer oriented - TV sets and broadcasting rather than cameras and tape formats.
VideoGuys.com has this blog on HD related issues. Looks so-so/decent.
I've heard Stu's name come up over the years, and emailed with him a few times. The guy is frighteningly smart.
If you want to do your own color correction, or understand what's going on in color correction, check it out.
It explains the differences and benefits of color correcting in linear vs. gamma corrected space. Geeky? Yes. Useful? YES.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Updated 9pm with more details on AAC on the fly encoding to iPod Shuffle, see below.
The Apple Store here in Austin called me to say they got iPod Shuffles in stock, first come first serve. I think the key might have been in the ignition before the phone hit the floor in the house.
(Yes, I am a gadget freak, I freely admit it - "Hi, my name is Mike, I have a problem with technolust"
So I blast over there bending the laws of space, time, and certainly breaking those of the Texas Highway Patrol.
There's a line 6 people deep, and they have about 20 of the Shuffles sitting out.
They only have the 1GB size, and I ask for three (one for me, others for friend/family) and they tell me One Per Customer. Drat.
A little social engineering later, the nice woman that I asked to buy one for me (paying by cash always helps) gives it to me outside the store. I pay her $10 for her trouble.
Note for Social Engineering Efforts:
1.) Wearing a freebie t-shirt I got for running a marathon, ratty gym shorts and Tevas, with no shave and having a No Hair Product Day is NOT the recommended solution. In general, looking like a Decent Human Being would be a plus.
2.) Asking the nice 30ish woman with the giant diamond ring who looked like she was from Dallas was maybe not an optimal choice.
3.) It DOES help to say you would like her help so your Mom won't have to drive out here herself (this is actually true)
4.) She asked if this was fake money, and in general looked like she thought she was about to be scammed. I don't blame her, I was asking her to buy it on my behalf to skirt store policy, and paying with cash.
5.) Being a nice guy and friendly about it certainly helped, and for karma's sake I offered her $10 after the fact to buy herself lunch or something which she took.
So got it home and opened it up. There's a rule in retail the that the smaller and more valuable the retail item, the more you need pliers and a blowtorch to free it from it's little plastic bunker.
Actual Potentially Useful Information Instead of Bad Personal Blog Rambling
The unit is truly tiny and weighs virtually nothing - like the pictures show, it really is pack of gum sized.
Unlike some earlier user reports, the unit does in facct have a Hold function which will prevent accidental button pushes - you just hold down the play button for three seconds.
As usual, Apple's done an outstanding job on the user interface. You can play, pause, fast forward/reverse, next track, prior track/start track over, volume up.down, turn it on/off, shuffle of linear playback mode, lock/release controls (Hold function), reset the unit, and see battery charge status all from only 4 control surfaces. Amazing. OK, really 7 buttons, but on 4 surfaces.
For the competent, everything you need to know is all on one little double sided card, conveniently business card sized with rounded corners printed on a nice card stock. Tuck it in your wallet and you'll have it all there.
It points out that there are 4 levels of battery charge indicated - green, yellow, red, nothing (figure'em out)
Somebody online complained that all songs are converted to AAC format. NOT true - there is an option in the preferences to downsample high bit rate stuff to 128 AAC just for the iPod, implying that it'll keep the high quality originals on your computer hard drive. Very nice.
UpdateI tried this - at first I just changed the setting after a bunch of music was already on there, and it did nothing. OK. Then I emptied the iPod, then dragged the contents of the playlist I wanted on the iPod. Transferring to iPod is much slower now (on 12" 1.33GHz G4 PowerBook), but all the tracks are being converted to 128 kbit AAC ON THE FLY as they are loaded onto the iPod. All of the source tracks are still in their 200-220 KB VBR MP3 source. Very, very slick. So you can squeeze more tracks on your iPod but keep your source high quality. (I'll have to check to see if this works with my iPod Mini too) This is extra nice - this way, my source stays high quality so I can play it through the high quality speakers in my living room (via Airport Extreme) or studio (connected to studio monitors in there), AND have high quality on the iPod Mini for car listening through the cassette adaptor into the car stereo("Skyscraper I Love You" with the top down at 120 mph over the Golden Gate Bridge, in the fog, at 3am, is my personal favorite). And then for jogging and other very casual listening, 128 kbit AAC. Very very nice indeed.
You can configure the unit to reserve a chunk of it's space for use as a memory stick. Very slick. The reason for his is that Autofill will just fill up the unit with music. So you can reserve whatever amount of space (a slider to set it) for data. I dropped some installers I use frequently on the 256 MB I reserved for data. So it's a 256 MB memory stick with an additional 768 MB of music as well. Or 512/512, or 100/900, or whatever you want.
And it fits in your jeans pocket no problem. Now the problem is I have too many small metal/plastic devices that have to be one per pocket and can't be sat on (no rear pocket usage). Press play, use the Hold function to prevent accidental button mashing, and slip it in your pocket. Be discreet and run the wires under your shirt if you wish.
Plugged into the laptop to recharge, it's a little awkward having this thing sticking out three inches from the left side on the frail little USB connector. It makes me change how I rest the computer on my lap. A friend has already pointed out "It makes it look like your computer has a hard-on." I responded "Hey, at least it's not pink." (Sorry, if that hadn't actually happened I wouldn't have written that here!) : )
Devices like this make it very obvious that cell phones are where MP3 players are going.
Almost by definition, everyone that can afford and wants an MP3 player already has a cell phone. What do you carry with you all the time, every day? Your keys. Your wallet (I and some friends are post-cash these days. Change is given away, cash is folded in a cheap clip, and credit cards go in a little hard case in lieu of a wallet). And your cell phone. What's optional? An MP3 player. If you're geeky, a Palm. A voice recorder if you're really, really a geek like me. And notice that Palm devices aren't all that prevalent. They aren't selling like they did a few years ago. And what's taking their place? Cell phones. What do you really use a Palm for? Contact info and calendar. Cell phones do this handily now. My Sony Ericsson T616 syncs with Address Book and iCal seamlessly via BlueTooth. That smooth integration was why I specifically sought at that phone. And how hard will it be to fold MP3 player functionality into a cellphone?
These iPod Shuffles are 512KB and 1GB for the price point - if it's going to be $250 for 2-4GB, might as well get the iPod Mini. But for a phone, you might want 2GB of songs, and they DO make memory sticks that size, and if it's included in the cost of your nice phone, why not. If you can put this much functionality in a device the size of a pack of chewing gum, putting the crucial guts in a slightly larger cell phone just isn't going to be a problem in a year or two. Or now. The power needed can be drawn off the cell phone battery instead of the built in battery, so that makes the device even smaller. I'd hate to lose the convenience of the itty bitty scroll wheel (we need a new name, it doesn't scroll) but it you could just use the phone's volume controls, and the other buttons on the phone for navigation. And as we've heard Apple and Motorola are going to have a phone with iTunes capabilities this year, it's on the way. Plus you get a screen and navigation and sort by artist/album/genre and all that good stuff.
Round 3 or 4 of car adaptors (round 2 showed at MWSF) will be how to integrate your phone, with iTunes functionality, into the car stereo. Put a microphone up by the driver's side visor for hands free phone usage.
Apple definitely will sell a ton of these.
Here's a product for someone to make: we already have cassette adaptors for cars. Make one that the shuffle just clicks onto/into, sticking out of the front of the car stereo. Squeeze the unit to press the buttons. $40? No reason to be more.
To get the link, it's right after "Posted by:" at the bottom of each article, and it'll say "Mike / 5:37 PM" (or whatever time I published)
It's right under these words on each article. Use it if you like.
I've got one of the famous HDR-FX1s, and I was going to let you know I'd be glad to send you some raw footage captured with Apple's DVHS. I guess I could burn the raw .m2t files to a DVD or something. I used the camera on a trip to south america this past month, and I think the footage looked pretty great. I have been using mostly DVCAM for the past few years, and I think Sony's HDV looks way better to the naked eye. This may be partly due to the native 16x9, or the larger chips. I think the down conversion to DV looks a lot better than shooting with a PD-170. I agree, it's never going to look as good as HDCAM, but for the money I don't think your going to get anything better. There does seem to be a little blocking going on with high motion and high contrast images. I imagine something like the crowd at a sporting event might look pretty bad. I think this camera is going to be a great tool for documentary films, and even some real low budget fiction things. With good lighting I think this camera does have the potential produce some great images. Most of the stuff I have shot so far has been outside, but I am real interested to see how it will hold up shooting in a studio with controlled lighting. If you are interested in getting some clips to play around with let me know, I'll try to get a few out sometime next week. Keep up the good work on the site, it's always enjoyable to read.
I emailed him and asked if I could post his letter, and if he'd tried the iMovie HD stuff yet (it's only $80)
I haven't tried iMovie HD yet, because I don't have a copy yet. I am going to probably break down and buy it next week sometime, but I've just got too much going on until the weekend. I've got a few random clips captured, but I'll try and digitize a couple of more, and at least one that runs over a minute. I know it's hard to watch those downloaded clips that are handheld and last only 10 seconds. The stuff I shot in South America was just for me, so there is no deadline on it. What I am going to try to do is offline it using the DV down conversion built into the camera until the updated Final Cut comes out, then hopefully I will be able to re-digitize it as HDV and finish it in this format. I am pretty sure it keeps timecode when doing the downconversion. Like I said, until next week I am booked, so as soon as I can get some out and do some more testing of my own I will.
Some readers have had some interesting questions lately that I thought would be of benefit for the community, so here goes:
Reader Douglas Smith asked:
I've been googling like crazy to find a straight answer to how much
data this thing (The Sony HDR-FX1, or FX1E puts out, and how much drive
space (thinking Lacie Firewire 800) I will need.
I've read the figure of 25 Mbps (which I'm fairly sure means BITS per
second), but I also read a reference to that being the RAW data rate,
so I'm not sure if the actual compressed output will be less (hoping
Presuming I needed, let's say, 300 minutes of raw storage space for
video, any idea how much space this would take?
(Also, I'll likely be looking at the PAL, or whatever you want to call
it, 25fps model, but whatever. Just need a rough idea here in any
If 25Mbps is the actual rate, my back of envelope calculations put it
at about 2.5 TB, which is certainly a shitload of hard drives.
I figure I'll need 3 firewire drives, a big one for video, a small one
for audio, plus a third big one for back-ups and swapping out for
And while I'm at it, any particular opinions on the viability of
fluorescent light kits (kino-flo, etc.) for studio and blue-screen
work? Shooting in Thailand, heat is as much a concern as is kicking
out the circuit breakers.
OK, one more stupid question: Is there any chance in hell I'll be able
to cut this thing on my G4 powerbook, once FCP 5 comes out? Or will I
be losing my mind waiting for every effect to render? That would save
a pile of money because I'd only really need to buy one HD monitor
(thinking the 23" Apple Cinema) to complete my set-up. I suppose I
could start on the G4, and if it just isn't working out shell-out for a
nice dual G5 and a second monitor.
Check out my links to the HVR-Z1 article on Cinema Minima, I may have been overly harsh on the FX1 footage because
a.) It was unprofessionally shot
b.) some of my analysis I now realize was based on zoomed in footage
c.) I was just being overly harsh, tired of people trying to compare the two cameras based purely on the pixel math-I wanted to beat them up a bit on the reality of the deal.
d.) I'm having overly harsh memories of DV, and I've been working with a lot of 1920x1080 uncompressed HD lately, which might skew my eye towards the flows of HDV
Yeah, the HDV footage is about 3.2 MB/sec. But transcoded to the working codec on Macs (Apple Intermediate Codec) kicks it into the 7-14 MB/sec range.
300 minutes is only abut 55 GB of raw HDV, and anywhere from 110ish to 220ish GB of Apple Intermediate Codec.
No opinion on lights, not my area. Check out DV Magazine's website, I know they've written about low cost lighting in the past.
On a PowerBook, FireWire is your only storage option, so multiple drives with backups, yeah.
Viability of editing on PowerBook - you can do it but it's time consuming. Read the "yes you can" article on HDV in FCP I wrote over the weekend, and notice the render times on a dual 2.5 GHz G5. Not much will be realtime in high quality if anything, based on what I saw on a dual 2.5 GHz G5. So you might have to drop to Medium (or Low) quality just to get playback on your PowerBook. I'll test on mine in the near future.
The one area that's a "come to complete stop" is monitoring - the only way to monitor HDV on a video screen right now is using a PCI-X HD card, which has to go in a G5, unless you convert to DVCPRO HD, and then you lose some resolution. Then you could FireWire out to a $350/day Panasonic AJ-HD1200A deck attached to a broadcast monitor. But in my experience that deck is picky about being the ONLY thing attached to a FireWire bus (or maybe that was a BlackMagic card issue, not sure), so your external storage might be a no-go.
PowerBook is great for scratch editing, but not for trying to color correct, in short.
Reader Gidon Mead asked:
Thanks again for your advice on workflow. One supplementary question: you've recommended the lacie electron blue monitor several times on the blog - would this at a pinch be usable as a primary viewing monitor for colour correction etc? Even the 19-inch version can in theory show a full 1080P image and the price has now dropped to about $350. Also, (OK that makes 2 questions!) do you know whether the Digital Cinema Preview function in FCP will work with this kind of display? All the marketing hype is about DVI monitors but I'm guessing that is just marketing hype.
Incidentally, film festivals in Europe are still ridiculouly snobbish about film vs digital even for shorts - of the top 3, Berlin and Venice insist on film and Cannes is suspiciously silent on the issue. Guess that keeps down the number of entries for them. Thankfully, at least you only need to worry about projection format ONCE the film has been accepted...
It's not a video monitor, display characteristics are different. For film work maybe, for video work...challenged. Typical brightness, contrast, gamma, and white point. Some of these things are calibratable, some are not. Digital Cinema Preview is great for showing clients, not great for finicky work. Also, won't show 1080i signal in High Quality, even on a DP 2.5 GHz G5, which in another reason to use HDP or HDLink with an LCD.
DCP will technically function on those displays, but will it deliver what you want is the other question (as described above)
Filmout is still $30K-$60K last I checked depending on length, quality, vendor, and work needed on the footage (uprez, color correction, etc.)
On Jan 24, 2005, at 6:17 PM, Andrae Palmer wrote:
I was under the impression that I could monitor HD with the video card that came with the G5 and dual monitors with one or both being HD displays? Is this a big negative. Theirs no way to output HD in Final Cut Pro through the video card to an HD display?
In some ways yes in some ways no.
Without an HD card, just using the video card, you can put the Final Cut Pro output on an external display using Digital Desktop thingy (like my technical terms? : ) ).
BUT - 1080p24 won't play back realtime full size (pixel for pixel) on a 23" LCD in High Quality, and if you drop to medium quality it might, but you're working at 1/2 res. AND on top of that, it has temporal anomalies - smooth pans are slightly irregular in speed, etc.
It's not video gamut - the image looks different. The HDLink has a different gamma and some stuff. You can adjust the display somewhat around this, but doesn't help for the
If medium res suits your needs, go for it.
All depends on what you want to be monitoring for. If you just want to see what you're doing, set to medium res on a fast box and go for it.
If you want to color correct and have anything close to an HDTV's output, or you want to see every pixel of the signal in motion, and you want to it play back at a smooth full speed (and not 21 fps for 3 frames, 24 fps for 5 frames, 22 fps for 2 frames, etc.), it's not sufficient for that.
But for editorial process (not including color correction other than general scene to scene matching), it's adequate. For client review, it's adequate (for most clients)
By HD display I presume you mean some kind of an HD monitor.
I just received in the mail an adaptor from ATI that works with some of their cards that will supposedly let it drive an HDTV. Haven't tested it yet. Essentially you could then use an HDTV hooked up to that. My concerns would then be gamma, white point, etc., because a graphics card that thinks it's driving a computer display may behave differently than an HD signal output to an HD monitor.
Even if you got the white point and gamma working, you'd still have the temporal anomalies, you'd still have the not-full-resolution problems, and I think it might have trouble with interlaced footage but I'm not sure since I haven't tested yet.
Reader Jim asked:
why can't I get FireWire out?
FireWire out for HDV? Is that your question?
I would expect FireWire out to/through HDV cameras (like DV into a camcorder, then video to TV) to NOT work, since the HDV gets transcoded to Apple Intermediate Codec, and to play out during realtime would require delivering an MPEG-2 transport stream to the FireWire port, which is very much not a realtime, on-the-fly kind of a thing.
The benefit of the BlackMagic card (perhaps Kona2 as well, haven't received a test unit yet (hint hint AJA)) is that it will play out most stuff you feed it if formatted correctly.
So take this with a grain of salt, it's just rough notes below. I may or may not rewrite this and make it purdy.
So you've edited your masterpiece in Final Cut Pro. You were smart and allowed yourself to work in 10 bits/channel for the maximum possible quality. The catch is, if you're working in 4:4:4 RGB, or want to use some plugins to create a look, you're stuck at 8 bits/channel (256 levels) in FCP for processing, not the 10 you want (1024 levels). And FCP's color correction tools are decent but not outstanding quality (see here as to why).
So what's better?
What we're really looking for here is a solution that maintains the maximum feature set of Final Cut Pro HD, and ideally lets us come back to FCP to change our minds on edit decisions. A "real" project is inevitably going to go through a number of revisions, leading the notorious "FinalFinalFinalEdit#6_version12.fcp" file on your hard drive. "One way" trips, where you can do high quality work, but would then lose all your color correction decisions if you need to make an edit, are not a great solution.
The options as I understand them are:
PUNT: take to high end finishing station
Pros: realtime, high quality
Cons: expensive, not everything will carry over, you can't go back and edit from that
PUNT 2: tape to tape color correction
actually, not so bad - you just have to recapture all your footage and make sure the timecode matches.NOTE: this is wrong. I wrote it at 1am without thinking very straight. Read below
Pros: traditional high end interface, speed, and quality
Cons: It's tape to tape. It's another encoding cycle that degrades the quality of your footage. Again. Also, unless you do it the wonky way I described above (which nobody does apparently), your edit is locked.
Jeff wrote in to point out my errant ways:
Er, that's not how traditional tape-to-tape correction is done.
Almost always, you start with an edited master, typically on tape, but it could be played out from an edit system right into the color corrector to save a generation -- with the editing system emulating a deck under RS422 control.
But typically you are adding one generation of tape -- which, in SD, with Digibeta, is not all that big a deal. With HDCam it might be, with HDCam SR it's probably ok.
You wouldn't want to color correct before you've finished editing, because a lot of the work of color correction is getting adjacent shots to work together -- and unless you see them justaposed you can't really do that. Need to see how it's edited.
For dissolves, you can program most hardware color correctors (like the daVinci) to dissolve between two settings between frame x and y -- also useful for exposure changes in the original material.
Of course, if you are dealing with multi-layer montages, you may well want to work with material that's color corrected before it all gets mixed together. The Abekas A84 switcher was designed (by Martin Snashall) for on-line editing, and had color correction on each input -- very popular way of finishing high-end spots in the late 80s and 90s, as you could tweak all layers in real time. (These sources were usually tape or else elements copied onto Abekas A64 disk recorders (also designed by the talented Mr. Snashall).
The Avid Symphony also lets you do this -- correct each layer separately, and it also lets you assign corrections by tape number if desired, useful for some sorts of editing where all shots from the same tape would get the same overall correction -- which can be further tweaked if needed. If Avid were smarter, they'd have made an uncompressed 10 bit 4:4:4 Symphony -- but they killed it off. If Apple were smart, they'd imitate as much of the Symphony color corrector as possible, and add it to FCP. But that's another kvetch.
Hope that's clear enough!
Others have written in to say I'm over obsessing on the "round trip" stuff. I only based this on discussions from last year's Digital Cinema Summit, Alan Daviau was talking about the workflow on Van Helsing, and that compressed production timelines (at least on big films) are requiring editorial, FX, and CC work to be somewhat simultaneous - you can't wait until picture lock to start on the other stuff.
I'm just imagining the process of finish an edit, screen it, change it, and not have to do CC work again.
I'm very big on repeatability, and recognize that Thing Change, even when you think you're done.
No great surprise, my theory outruns my experience on the traditional workflow stuff.
FCP to Shake
Shaky - barely gets the footage in with transitions intact, lose everything else. No plugin support
PROS: high end tools available, native LOG support
CONS: strictly a one way ticket, all CC work must be done each time send it to Shake (unless copious careful copy/paste of settings is used, and who wants to do THAT?), and you lose all you plugins etc.
I guess you could export each video track as a separate file and re-assemble it that way, but again a pain requiring a LOT of manual work.
Not having used Shake but only watched demos, someone pointed out that Shake is very shot oriented. The idea of taking an entire timeline into it is not very practical. You could go shot by shot, but there'd be lots of exporting from FCP, importing into Shake, doing the work, then rendering, then importing the rendered file back into FCP. Not very smooth.
pros: extensive controls
cons: awkward, really needs to be done shot for shot, no "return trip" back to FCP easily, lots of manual steps, easy to get lost/confuse yourself/introduce timing mistakes/editing errors. Expensive
FCP using Color Finesse
Pros: nice interface, keeps you in FCP the whole time
Cons: 8 bit rendered output only. If not going to D-5 or HDCAM SR, is fine (RIGHT? DOUBLE CHECK THIS!). sloooooow render. Seriously - I've heard the results are gorgeous if you start with 8 bit footage (even compressed) then color correct in 10 bit. But if you're going back to 8 bit, and the 10 bit color corrected footage is going to be truncated (not dithered) back to 8 bit, does it make a difference. It's late, too tired to mentally chug the math or set up a test, but I could see it going either way. Anecdotal evidence says it may help, but I need hard evidence. Not sure what to say on the 8 vs 10 bit thing. But if you're mastering to a 10 bit format, it definitely helps.
FCP to AE using Automatic Duck's tools, use CF in AE (better yet use the settings from CF you set in FCP and just render)
Similar to above, but you're essentially just using After Effects as a render module, and trusting everything lines up. In this approach, while you COULD make tweaks in After Efffects, there's no way to get those tweaks (short of manually doing it, who wants to do that for every shot in a feature/) BACK into FCP for future use.
So you don't touch anything on the timeline in After Effects, just using it as a high quality rendering algorithm.
Pros: very high quality rendered output
Cons: slow, one way ticket - can't go back and maintain the color corrections you set up in AE back to FCP. If you change your edit in FCP, have to ditch your present AE CF CC work and start over or hand match the edit in AE. A big mess. The only way to keep your post cycle fluid, and not have to hand match a million edits & pieces and tweaks and stuff, is to do some CF work in FCP, spot checking as you go. Render overnight and eyeball it. If you like it, export to AE and render from there to a DM (Digital Master). If you cooked out a 10 bit digital master, drop that back into FCP on a new timeline to drop it to tape.
AE can work in 16 bits/channel, plenty of linear color space to handle 10 bit log files (even 12 bit log if anybody made those). Very high quality output.
While in AE, you can use RAM preview to spot check. Bonus round: you don't have to have realtime HD drive performance for this to see SHORT segments of video color corrected. AE has built in tools to (slowly) build a RAM preview at every other frame, or 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 res, etc. in high or draft quality.
Hidden secret bonus - if your project started in DVCPRO HD, you can render straight from that codec to uncompressed with excellent results. You don't even need a disk array to render out the results, just disk space for that big final file.
I had previously written this:
This workflow CAN work, but you better be DONE with your edit when you start color correcting in AE. UNLESS you do all your CC work in FCP using CF, then just use AE for a rendering module. Hmm....this is viable again. Just slow.
....but that only applies if you do ALL your CC work in AE. Sloooow.
Color Finesse 2.0:
-the feature list says that it will let you export XML from FCP, do your CC work in a standalone Color Finesse 2.0 application, render the color corrected footage, export another XML file from CF 2.0, then open that in Final Cut Pro again. This lets you "round trip" it so you can bring the work back into FCP and still change your mind editorially. You can use the FCP plugin as well, it may or may not let you render to 10 bit, not sure yet.
One catch with all these is workflow - what if you have a dedicated colorist working on the footage, but have an editor still editing away?
Maybe you just export all the bins of shots used, organized by scene. Those get color corrected then brought back and relinked (hopefully seamlessly/automatically) so that the edit can keep moving on another machine while color correction is taking place.
Pros: dedicated, high quality tools
Cons: It round trips, but freezes the edit (I think, maybe can work around this) to do it. Potentially long renders for high quality.
Final Touch HD:
The F-16 solution. Expensive, but powerful and fast. Similar to the Color Finesse 2.0 approach - you export XML from FCP, import that XML into FTHD. The difference is that Final Touch HD is realtime. Lots of realtime. When done, you render out your high quality footage, export a new XML file, and open that in FCP.
If you were clever with your render folders and naming structures, maybe the edit could keep moving while you color corrected, then take footage offline in FCP and relink (in bulk) to the new directory with the new, color corrected footage. This approach could work for Color Finesse 2.0 as well.
Pros: realtime performance including fancy power windows type stuff (realtime previews, still render when done)
Cons: raw cost of software ($5000), and relatively high hardware requirements (two large monitors, high speed disk array, lots of storage, fast computer, etc.)
Iridas Speed Grade
After all I've said about Final Touch HD, Jeff Kreines wrote me to say I should check out Speed Grade. A few thoughts upon briefly checking out their website:
-it does realtime high speed stuff, with a virtually unlimited number of layered tweakings of color
-it does 8 bit (fine for most video) but for 10 bit, you need to buy additional software
-the web page said Mac version due out Q4 2004, then said June 2005 elsewhere I think. It hasn't shipped yet according to the web page
-I didn't see mention of power windows, maybe I missed it. Based on my biased (I've seen more of Final Touch HD and talked to the developers and I like it so far), at first glance it seems FTHD has more features in some regards. But that's a grossly unfair comparison considering how little I've seen of Speed Grade.
-with no Mac version, while it can handle QuickTime, do those QuickTime files have to be flattened? (Old Mac/PC compatibility issue). I need to test and find out. If the files can move back and forth smoothly, great.
-But with not XML import/export on a Mac, obviously a more convoluted process of getting access to the files from a PC
-don't know pricing yet but it was implied it's in the ballpark of Final Touch HD.
-this is a really, really vague and amateurish analysis (yes I've been up for two days with 4 hours sleep)
-but until Mac version ships, it's not nearly as integraed a solution as the Final Touch HD appears to be. Appears - haven't used either of these yet myself.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: READ THE COMMENTS (link right below the end of the article), I've posted some further rants/theory on why I obsess over all this repeatability after a reader viably question why I geek out so hard on all this stuff.
Another thought about why I geek out so much: the traditional workflow gets harder and harder to back up and change things the further you go. The workflows I pursue allow you to change your mind up until you need to render your transitions (and possibly effects and color correction) and master to tape.
Flexibility is the mantra of digital. If it is conveniently arrangeable, why NOT maintain maximum flexibility up until the last moment?
(and click on Comments below and scroll to end of article to read'em)
I was cranky from all the folks saying "it was the just as good" based largely on the math, HDV looked better than DV, and they'd never seen HDCAM on a good monitor - maybe just HDTV shows.
As I wrote the other day, the comparison was also less than fair because of:
a.) It (HDV) was unprofessionally shot
b.) some of my analysis I now realize was based on zoomed in footage from FX1
c.) I was just being overly harsh, tired of people trying to compare the two cameras based purely on the pixel math-I wanted to beat them up a bit on the reality of the deal.
d.) I'm having overly harsh memories of DV, and I've been working with a lot of 1920x1080 uncompressed HD lately, which might skew my eye towards the flows of HDV
So while F900 HDCAM still looks much better than FX1 HDV, HDV isn't as bad as I made it out to be.
Marcus van Bavel of DV Film wrote in to say:
Mike I read this on your website and had a few comments. I am using some of this same footage for a film out test:
-footage of fire causes problems due to 4:2:0 issues... [snip]
It sounds like your mpeg-2 decoder does not have proper spatial and temporal filtering on the chroma. When this footage is converted to quicktime with DVFilm Maker 2.1 you don't see those problems, the color is smooth
-pushing the footage in post to color correct will break it pretty quickly.... [snip]
Same problem, lack of chroma filtering causes this
-Mosquito noise was prevalent in any shot with a lot of fine detail. If you don't know what mosquito noise is in video, Google it. It's an artifact of compression, it shows up particularly clearly when you have fine detail next to a flat color, like small tree leaves against a sky. Once color corrected, it was very apparent.
Again same problem. The mosquito noise is for real but you make it far worse by not filtering chroma.
-color correcting HDV makes almost decent looking stills, but you get all kinds of distracting popping in compression block artifacting once the footage is playing. Compression blocks are areas that the codec decides should be perfectly flat color...even when they shouldn't be. These blocks tend to dance around distractingly.
-lots of motion forces the codec to sacrifice quality in each frame. Travelling car footage, especially out the side window? LOTS of square edged artifacts.
Do you really see those in real time? I can't, goes by too fast. If you see a lot of blocking in real time, it may be due to your real-time decoder if that's what you are using.
Also a lot of those clips that are posted were shot without a tripod. I was wondering if your HD 900 stuff was shot the same.
I wrote back, then he responded (his answers interspersed with mine:
On Thu, 20 Jan 2005, Mike Curtis wrote:
F900 shot from tripod.
It's not a fair comparision then, unless the handheld camera is using very high shutter speed, (and the clips you used weren't, they are mostly 1/60th) since motion blur will act on the image sharpness making it look as if it's never completely in focus. However you are comparing the image with the little artifacts which of course are always in perfect focus.
Used LumiereHD to convert to 8 bit lossless 4:2:2 codec (Blackmagic's)
I have a chroma filtering FCP plugin, was doodling in AE so didn't use it on it.
Doubt if either of those has proper temporal filtering for 4:2:0 but I don't know for sure.
Thanks for feedback.
Does DVFilm Maker have a downloadable demo?
Yes it's at http://dvfilm.com/maker, but no version for the Mac yet. I'm hoping that Apple has made a decent mpeg-2 decoder for iMovie HD so that I don't have to roll my own. If you hear of any clips online decoded with iMHD please let me know.
(the above was before iMovie HD had shipped)
Here's a heads up for you and your readers.
Amazingly, Mac OS 10.3.7 and the Panasonic AJHD1200a
do not work together via firewire in FCP 4.5.
I upgraded my system on Apple's advice (firmware and
OS) to help a thermal runaway problem. That problem is
solved. But now I can't get video from the deck. FCP
controls the machine but no video passes to the
I tested the system with a Panasonic AJSD93 via
firewire and it works just fine. It's only the DVCPRO
HD deck that's not working.
This problem has been comfirmed by Promax. But
unbeleivably, I can't find a mention of the
incompatibility anywhere. (Maybe my Google skills need
Updating the OS is always scary. This one bit me.
Personally, I found 10.3.5 to be the most stable/robust.
The older I get, the more hesitant I get to install software updates if I have something working securely.
Monday, January 24, 2005
Stu over at biki.net did something I meant to do - he posted our email conversation on the possible future of Shake and it's integrated workflow with Final Cut Pro HD.
I think it's interesting, you may or may not.
The gist of it is that we'd like to see better handoff between Shake and Final Cut Pro HD, since Shake has much better color correction tools. If Motion turns out to be a practice run for Shake in terms of realtime GPU driven performance (rumors I've heard indicate this, but they are just rumors), then it could truly rock for doing detailed/picky color correction on Final Cut Pro HD sequences.
My ardor for this workflow has waned since I saw Silicon Color's Final Touch HD at MacWorld the other week (use the Google bar at the top of this page to search for Final Touch for more info), but the idea is still cool.
It also looks like Color Finesse 2.0 will be available as a standalone product that will be able to import and export FCP sequences. I'm guessing it'll ship (or at least be announced) at NAB but that's conjecture. It's been a LOOOONG time coming.
That could be another possible workflow route for high quality color correction from Final Cut Pro based projects.
Using Automatic Duck's tools (Wes Plate's stuff) to port a Final Cut Pro HD project to After Effects is another possibilitiy.
Cinema Minima keeps post up a string of great articles from Sundance, from conference track comments to great witnessed moments in What Not To Do. Best example: the aspiring filmmaker who blew a meeting with a studio exec because he "was busy" at the first time the studio exec mentioned, and then lost a chance to meet at all because of it. Moment/momentum lost, never to be regained.
Plus lots of other great stuff, so just go keep reading it every day during Sundance (and possibly thereafter, too!)
Sunday, January 23, 2005
There are different cameras for different needs and the HVRZ1 isn't for everything, but, if for a low-budget, or a documentary, this camera is the way to go.
Everyone knows that shooting DV in high contrast and low light will generally result in images with a great deal of noise in the shadows, streaking in the highlights, blooming in the reds and visual stutter. Not the HVRZ1. THIS FOOTAGE FROM THIS CAMERA WAS AMAZING. Great detail in low light and high contrast. With the gain up 12dB, still no noise in the shadows. With black stretch on and Cinemalook filter, the shots were unbelievable. You could see the spray of the fountains against the night sky (with detail still evident in the background). At the football game, the cheerleaders in red uniforms showed no blooming. Skin tones were great. And, the African American male, shot in high contrast light at night, had amazing depth and detail in his face.
Mike's Commens:This is yet another way to get your project out there. Plus, shorts are a great way to learn your chops, and if nothing else the short can work as your calling card.
In case you hadn't noticed it, Cinema Minima has multiple folks at Sundance attending the conference stuff there (I should have planned ahead and attended that instead of MacWorld perhaps). Check out their coverage, it's great so far.
It talks about the odds of getting into Sundance (2603 submissions, 120 screened, maybe 10 get distribution deals).
Fun odds, isn't it? And the odds of getting into Sundance are somewhat stacked (read the article for details).
Then it talks about how to possibly write your way into Hollywood and the odds against that.
Then it talks about the odds of original material that isn't a comic book, remake, sequel, or adaptation from a novel. Very, very thin.
These are all discussing the odds of getting a movie shown in theaters.
Mike's Comments: a very sobering read, but good to know what you're up against. A more viable approach is to make your movie with the option of going theatrical - make a 24p master, preferably having shot in HD if shooting video. But be prepard to try to sell it to a cable network or go straight to video (OK, DVD) and hope for the best on NetFlix or Amazon, because you'll never get into Blockbuster.
Want to feel optimistic? Go read The Long Tail. This is the most likely way you'll get distribution or make any money.
Saturday, January 22, 2005
I was in the middle of doing my testing and taking notes and getting ready to write up this exciting news when I got an email scooping me on this one.
Frederic Haubrich from Lumiere HD sent me this link for a write-up he just did posted over at DVInfo.net. that documents how to get HDV into Final Cut HD using iMovie HD as an intermediate step. If I hadn't gone to the screening of the newly remastered three hour long version of The Big Red One last night (with Sam Fuller's wife in attendance), I might have been first on this one.
See his write-up for detailed step by step instructions. My version is below.
The basic gist of it is this iMovie HD installs a new codec called Apple Intermediate Codec, and HDV footage is transcoded to this. iMovie HD and Final Cut Express HD use it, Final Cut Pro HD 5 undoubtedly will too. You can use iMovie HD to import the footage, then import that footage into Final Cut Pro HD to edit with it's superior feature set, then use iMovie HD to put it back out to tape.
By the way, for all newcomers, please check out the main page of this website to keep up on all kinds of HD, HDV, DVCPRO HD editing news, tips, techniques, gear, etc. Or use the convenient RSS or Atom feeds if you use an RSS aggregator or browser.
In not-so-short, it works like this (this is my version):
1.) Use iMovie HD to import the footage from the HDV camera (or import .m2v files that LumiereHD has demuxed, but import them one at a time - if you import multiple files, it screws up the aspect ratio, and renders with black bars on the sides)
2.) Crack open the iMovie HD project file that you just made by right clicking (or control clicking) on the file and selecting Show Package Contents. Then you can see the Media Folder. Copy or move those files to the directory of your choice
3.) Make a new setting in Final Cut Pro HD for this new timeline. Email me and I'll send you a preset, or build your own as follows:
Name: (whatever you want, I call mine AIC 1080i60)
Frame Size: 1440x1080
Aspect Ratio: Custom (4:3) (select this before setting frame size)
Anamorphic 16:9 set to ON (checkbox)
Field Dominance: Upper (Odd)
Editing Timebase: 29.97
QuickTime Video Settings-
Compressor: Apple Intermediate Codec
click on the Advanced button underneath and select Preset: HDV 1080i, then type in 29.97 under Frames Per Second
Audio Settings/Rate: 48.000
4.) Import your clips from that iMovie HD project
5.) Drop them on the timeline
6.) Fix the Aspect Ratio on your clips: double click on a clip to open it up in the Viewer, go to the Motion tab, toggle open Distort, set Aspect Ratio to 0 (zero)
UPDATE: A reader wrote in with a slicker way to handle the Aspect Ratio Problem:
You can fix the aspect ratio just by selecting the clip in the bin, press Command-9, then check mark next to Anamorphic in the clip setup window.
Or you can do it right from the bin, without excessive clicking back and forth between the viewer window and the motion tab.
7.) in the timeline, with that same clip you just double clicked highlighted, press copy (command-c).
8.) Select All (command-a), then Paste Attributes (option-v). In the dialog that appears, click on Distort and press return
9.) Edit away! Now all your footage is ready to go
10.) When done, export a movie using File/Export/QuickTime Movie, using Current Settings, Include Audio & Video, and Make Movie Self-Contained (last is optional probably)
11.) Go back to iMovieHD, make a new HDV project, import this movie in, then select File/Share, and select Videocamera in the dialog that appears. Tell how much black you want at beginning and end, then sit back and wait - it has to re-encode to MPEG-2, it'll take a while. (Frederich clued me in on this non-obvious menu)
Mike's Notes on the process:
-the only HDV files I have sitting around are the downloaded ones I mentioned on the blog in the past, they are 1080i from a HDR-FX1
-because of this, I used LumiereHD to demux the files. iMovieHD WILL import the demuxed files (you can use some freeware to demux as well, I just had LumiereHD sitting around)
-iMovieHD does NOT import the source .m2t files, however. Doesn't recognize them.
-importing .m2v files is timeconsuming to transcode, even on a dual 2.5GHz G5.
-doing that import, processors ran 50-60% capacity, so the process isn't super efficient (could be faster with optimized code)
-importing .m2v files to transcode from built-in drive takes roughly 3.5-4 times realtime. 12 1/2 second clip took about 45 seconds to import.
-according to iMovieHD documentation, a 1.0 GHz G4 with 512 MB of RAM is required for HDV editing. Therefore a Mac mini IS sufficient to edit HDV or DVCPRO HD after upgrading the RAM. Obviously it's limited hard drive capacity and single FireWire cable will be an issue (can't capture DV/HDV to a drive on the same FireWire bus, doesn't work), but it will let something be done. NO, I don't recommend this as a primary editing machine unless it is your last option.
-Final Cut Express HD can open iMovie HD files, but Final Cut Pro HD can't. Expect version 5 of Final Cut Pro HD at NAB, and that it will import FCE HD and maybe iMovie HD files as well.
-Apple Intermediate Codec
-Playing back Apple Intermediate Codec on my dual 2.5 GHz G5, playing out through the BlackMagic HD card WORKS!
-file sizes vary with the AIC (Apple Intermediate Codec) - I've seen clips be anywhere from 6.9 to 13.8 MB/sec with 1080i60 footage. So it's MUCH larger than the 3.125 MB/sec source MPEG-2 data on tape.
-realtime effects WORK, I got the 3way color corrector to work with Playback Video quality set to High
-playing off of my internal drive, attempting a realtime cross dissolve dropped frames. Copying the media to a 5.6TB X-Serve RAID (very lovely to have sitting around but it's going back to Apple Monday) didn't help
-so SOME things are realtime, others are not.
-playing with it some more, short dissolves were realtime, longer ones weren't (RAM limitations or what? Dunno, this box has 1.5 GB RAM)
-realtime color correction worked realtime..sometimes. It's clearly taxing the processors very heavily, 85% or more on dual 2.5 GHz G5. Sometimes it played through without dropping a frame, sometimes it didn't. (I have mine set up to abort on dropped frames during playback so I can tell if it did or not).
-color correction with transition ALWAYS dropped frames promptly
-if I dropped the Playback Video Quality to Medium, however, it worked fine - several times in a row I played back a realtime cross dissolve between two clips that BOTH had RT color correction going, worked fine.
-one apparent glitch - Final Cut Pro HD THINKS it can render this stuff in realtime, but if it can't you have to "give it a kick" to get it to render things that aren't playing back right. Selecting Render All for a timeline that included selections that weren't playing back correctly did nothing. I had to go to Sequence=>Render=>Full to get it to render that selection. So it isn't perfect, but at least it works...
-rendering is pretty slow - even using a high speed RAID as a scratch disk (don't know if that helped, but it certainly wasn't slowing anything down), a 1 minute sequence with that consisted of two color corrected clips (using the 3 way color corrector) with a 2 second dissolve between them took 2 minutes and 10 seconds to render on a dual 2.5 GHz G4 with 1.5 GB of RAM.
SO: you can edit in HDV in realtime, sometimes at High quality Video Playback, but Medium works well for the stuff you're likely to want - a realtime cross dissolve between two clips that EACH have their own realtime color correction applied.
I'm recanting a little bit of my rant against HDV - maybe the AIC codec is doing some chroma filtering my other process wasn't, but HDV is holding up to some color correction fairly well.
More later as I learn more.
PS-thanks to Graeme Nattress for sending this in
Friday, January 21, 2005
Kodak's Look Management System is a previsualization tool for filmmakers to work with images to define a look, to come up with a style and be able to communicate that effectively throughout the post process.
It's really designed for working with FILM, not video (unless the video, HD or otherwise, is being transferred to film, and then only some of the tools here apply).
You can preview what it would look like if you were working with X film stock (Kodak stock, of course), with this or that filter, gel, lense, etc.; or developing processes such as skip bleach, push, etc.
There are two parts: the Look Manager System for these "what if's" as described above, and the Display Manager System for calibrating displays.
Mike's Comments: From what I saw at NAB, this stuff would be a helpful tool when shooting on film for film distribution. For HD moviemakers, it might have it's uses to a lesser extent, especially if you know you're going back out to film. As a previsualization tool, I think it has some legs for FILMmakers. It's not a totally accurate "my film will look like this exactly" tool, just a guideline from what I saw and heard 9 months ago.
I asked Roland with Silicon Color (maker of Final Touch HD) about whether they integrated this Kodak stuff into their product - he said that they offered to pay for a license for the technology to integrate into Final Touch HD, but that Kodak wasn't going to do it. So all of the other vendors - Discreet, Da Vinci, etc. - are left out as well. Kodak is sitting on the tech until they can roll out their own product, perhaps?
I mentioned Kodak Look Management System in my NAB coverage here, here, and here.
If you didn't read it, read it now, and think about how this year's Latest Greatest is mundane in 5 years (or 2 or 3).
(Eek, I just re-read it, typos & grammatical mistakes and all - risks of power blogging in the wee hours.)
"I think it's wonderful and I think it's awful," Mr. Urman said of the current ascendance of the specialty divisions. "My concern," he continued, "is that moviegoers, if they feel they have satisfied their quotient for alternatives with something that is readily available and omnipresent and advertised - they don't have to pick up a magazine, don't have to work, don't have to read much. The film has big stars. They see it and say, I'm smart; they congratulate themselves, and that keeps them from seeing the really challenging film"
But it may also be possible - it can, at any rate, be hoped - that some of the audience will be led by the middle-size movies toward more difficult and specialized pleasures, toward the little films that will continue to occupy the vanguard of this constantly evolving art form.
"When shooting verite, always turn off the radio, always turn off the television."
It includes several good examples of the workarounds required when obtaining rights is too costly.
Absolutely essential that you understand the issues involved before starting a documentary film, and still extremely useful info if shooting narrative.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
The deal is this: it is NOT a free system being offered!
It is a discount on a bundle, or 2 free Sony 23" LCD monitors and a Sony HDR-FX1 with purchase, whichever way you want to look at it.
The usual deal on the Boxx HD[pro]RT is $19,995.
The Movie in a Boxx deal is the same HD[pro]RT, at the same price, but ALSO includes two Sony PremierePro 23" 1920x1200 LCD monitors and a Sony HDR-FX1 camera, included at that same $19,995 price point.
If you were thinking about getting the HD[pro]RT, this just sweetens the deal substantially.
Boxx sells those 23" LCDs for about $2200, the Sony streets for around $3500, so it's nearly $8,000 worth of freebies in the deal.
If you'd like more info with all the specs, send me an email and I'll send you the PDF.
Sorry about the confusion,
This is a lot of information in one article, a better summary than I would have done.
Read this and my reader mail questions get cut in half.
It addresses issues of black levels, contrast, brightness, grayscale linearity & response curves, all kinds of good geeky stuff that is useful to understand when buying a display device.
There are links to the earlier parts as well.
Highly recommended to understand the pros and cons of plasma, projectors, direct view, LCD, CRT, etc.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
As an exclusive (for now) offer for HD For Indies readers, I've been designated middle man to try to help seed about 20 of these units to folks who are going to actually use them. Along those lines, they wanted to put together a system that folks could get out there and actually use. So here's what they're doing:
-Boxx HD[pro]RT system (as reviewed here, Boxx page on it here)
-throw in TWO Sony PremierPro SDM-P234/B 23" 1920 x 1200 LCD monitors
-and just so you have some HD footage to play with, also included is a Sony HDR-FX1 HDV camera, which is gives the best resolution for the money in a digital video camera
...all for the same price as the standard HD[pro]RT ($19,999).
How good of a deal is this? It's two monitors that Boxx charges about $2200 for, and a $3500 camera. So this is about an $8000 freebie.
This is as the name implies - Movie in a Boxx. Everything you need to shoot, edit, & post a project in HD resolution.
Want one? Just email me.
There's wiggle room on the exact specs if you want to change the config a bit as well.
Their goal is to seed some units out there to get the word out on this unit, to put it in the hands of working filmmakers.
So drop me a line if you want one, I can send you the PDF with the detailed specs.
In the past, I knew a few friends that had either purchased Boxx products or done artwork for their advertising materials. They were all Lightwave artists, and raved about the products for 3D usage and about the company that supported them. My uninformed seat-of-the-pants understanding was that Boxx usually catered to the 3D marketplace, and assembled very powerful, robust, tweaked systems for heavy 3D users on the PC platform, and that Boxx knew how to support those kinds of clients very well - they knew the products and knew their clients' needs. But I perceived them as skilled box assemblers/tweakers, without unique technology of their own.
I was wrong.
Boxx has an extremely close working relationship with many software vendors such as Adobe and Cineform, and in some cases co-develops technology for their products with software vendors that is exclusively available on Boxx systems.
I sat down with several folks from Boxx and had a long talk with them about their HD[pro]RT system.
Here's the basic specs:
-Dual Opteron 250 WinXP Pro system (pretty loaded)
-Adobe Professional Video Suite, which includes:
-Adobe Premiere 1.5
-After Effects Professional 6.5
-Cineform Prospect HD software (that does VERY high quality compressed video)
-single HD-SDI input (also doubles as SDI input)
-single HD-SDI output (again doubles as SDI output for SD footage)
-1394 (FireWire) input/output
-$20,000 for the basic system not including monitors
This means that it can take in pretty much any flavor HD or SD video you can think of - 1080p and 1080i footage at all the normal broadcast frame rates, 720p at 59.94 or 60fps (no 24p or variable support....at this time), NTSC, PAL, DV, and even take in native HDV via FireWire/IEEE 1394a. So all of the common formats (except 720p24 and DVCPRO50), plus HDV to boot (even for the new Sony HDR-FX1).
So what's the big deal then? I've been advocating Final Cut Pro HD rigs for some time now that have had all these specs and more.
Two key differentiators:
1.) High quality, full resolution 10 bit compressed codecs. DVCPRO HD downsamples 1280x720 to 960x720, and 1920x1080 to 1280x1080, and it's only 8 bit, not 10. This is the codec Apple works with natively and supports realtime effects with when doing offline HD (at HD res). Not so with the Cineform stuff - it's FULL raster, meaning full res (1920x1080 and 1280x720), AND it's 10 bits/channel, meaning there are 1024 gradations of color per channel, not just 256. This gives you a LOT more latitude when color correcting and looking to go to film to maintain subtle quality. (There is also an 8 bit codec if you wish to use that as well.)
2.) Multi-layer, real time performance for color correction, transitions, effects, composites, even in 10 bit. Final Cut Pro can do realtime, and can do 10 bit, but NOT both at the same time. With this system, you can be editing full raster (full res/full size), 10 bit/channel 1080 res HD video, AND get realtime color correction, AND do a realtime cross dissolve, in realtime, no rendering required to see it. Wow.
3.) Mix and match differnt kinds of footage on the same timeline. Final Cut Pro HD is infamously picky about everything having to match EXACTLY to edit on the same timeline and even just play back at full speed without rendering in real time. If you want to mix codecs for the same size and framerate, gotta render, won't play back without it. If you want to mix sizes of footage in the same codec, same problem, gotta render. Not so with the Boxx system.
The one bit of funkiness, however, is how it does this.
One significant architectural difference between Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro is how they handle realtime performance: Final Cut Pro takes a rather absolutist, brittle approach: it's realtime or it's not, and if you override the safeties and tell it to go for it, it either works of the frame rate takes a significant hit. You can manually tell it to work with lower resolution footage (Playback Quality High/Medium/Low). Premiere Pro takes a different, more flexible approach: if it can't do the realtime effect (be it a color correction, transition, PIP, whatever), it will first drop the RESOLUTION of the footage viewed. The footage still takes up the full video window, but is reduced resolution.
This is similar to Final Cut Pro HD when you tell DVCPRO HD or DV footage to play back onscreen in medium or low resolution. (So actually the two aren't so different I guess). But the key difference is that in FCP, you have to manually instruct the footage to play back at lower quality, in PP (Premiere Pro), it starts with best quality and drops quality as needed to achieve full frame rate with effects applied. If it can't do that, then it drops the frame rate.
The Cineform software takes this concept even further - it reduces the high frequency detail of the image but keeps on working in realtime. Boxx didn't say this, but I get the impression that Cineform internally stores the video frames in a pyramid type structure - the coarse layer and additional layers of finer detail stacked on top of it. Something like that, that allows the Cineform to only slightly reduce the quality of the footage if too much is being asked of the host to process in real time. When you stop on a still, the footage is processed in full quality.
I noticed this when watching a clip from the upcoming film Dust To Glory (see trailer here). They were demonstrating a lot of simultaneous effects, and the image quality looked fine. When they stopped playing the footage, it suddenly popped a little sharper.
Dust to Glory is a documentary shot on film, HD, and DV, all edited together on a Boxx HD[pro]RT, all in real time on the same timeline. Something you categorically can't do with FCP HD.
So what about the image quality?
The filmmakers of Dust to Glory carefully scrutinized several different possible workflows for their project. They had a tremendous amount of footage from their shoot about the infamous Baja 1000 rally race - they literally gave DV cameras to spectators and told them to shoot the cars as they raced past.
So what this means is that you get realtime performance, but sometimes you get it at reduced resolution (but still full size) if it can't do everything at once.
This bugs me, because I'm a quality fanatic.
But the more I think about it, does it really MATTER? Since the system can handle 10 bit footage with realtime color correction with a realtime cross dissolve, how often are you going to get into that situation?
The reality of this system is that it will let you work very quickly with 10 bit footage and realtime effects in a final quality format. This is a HUGE advantage over Final Cut Pro HD, which must render all of it's 10 bit effects and transitions, which is a huge pain and breaks the creative flow of the editorial process.
If you're trying to judge color, even their reduced res is sufficient to judge color, and it only does that when the system is overtaxed. If you're trying to evaluate detail, when you stop on a frame it will ALWAYS process it full res. So sometimes you'll be watching footage with effects and it looks fine to your eye, and then you press stop, and a brief instant later the image pops into sharper focus/full resolution. Is this ideal? No. Is this usable? Definitely for almost all situations. And you're only going to run into this reduced resolution situation sometimes.
Would I prefer this over FCP HD? Often. If the HD[pro]RT system can deliver full resolution when doing "real" color correction (Color Finesse or 3 way color corector), I'd consider that great and superior to FCP. If it couldn't I'd consider that a real problem. One catch is that the basic 2 way color corrector is realtime, but the 3way is not at this time. There was some discussion of drastically improved performance from Color Finesse on their system, but I didn't get a definitive answer on that.
Boxx is suggesting working with Prospect HD codec all the way through and not recapturing uncompressed - this makes me nervous, even though I've seen the results and it looks quite good. How good is good enough, and is this good enough for filmout? Dust to Glory used it and was happy, but did they see the results side by side with uncompressed? That I don't know. But the real question is always "Is it good enough?" rather than "Is it as good as it could be?" I think that it's likely that many people will find it sufficient unto their needs.
One catch on this system - no uncompressed option on this system - wish it were there very much to have the option if I want best possible quality.
Further notes on the system:
I do think it's a bit pricey at $20K for the basic system with software and 9 hours of compressed HD storage. But then I try to think of what else can do this at all, with a common application like Premiere Pro, that has tons of third party developer support. Then I shut up and realize it's a good deal for the money.
Codec & Data rate: using the Cineform HD codec (it's wavelet based, which is related to how they do their "reduced detail" mode), 1080p24 10 bit 4:2:2 averages about 15-16 MB/sec. Because it is VBR (variable bitrate), it can range from about 12 to 20 MB/sec depending on the complexity of the scene. For 8 bit 1080p24 footage, it's about 15% less than that (yes 15, not 20, what I was told).
HD-SDI spigots: one in, one out - would prefer 2 outs (one for deck, one for monitor), plus an analog out. Not an option. Boxx will sell you an adaptor to connect to an analog HD monitor.
DeckLink HD Pro can do HD/SD split out - HD-SDI, SD-SDI, and SD analog, which this system cannot. For budget indies, monitoring details on an LCD via HD-SDI adaptor (HDLink or HDP), then evaluating color on a downconverted SD monitor is an efficient solution.
There is no support for 4:4:4 (but then again, how common is THAT? $100K decks)
Definitely can work faster in 10 bit than FCP can and that's a HUGE bonus.
But looks like, from what I saw, that BOTH require rendering for final, full quality output.
That brings it back to the crucial difference that you can edit, and more importantly, color correct, in a 10 bit colorspace (although compressed) in realtime on the Boxx system - and at full resolution, not horizontally downsampled.
Plus, it's on a WinXP system running Premiere Pro 1.5, so that if you're wanting to do a lot of effects work the handoff between AE & PP is VERY slick and smooth, literally copy & paste simple - fast fast fast.
This system lets you work very quickly and fluidly, and in the end, isn't that one of the most important things in an editing system? Make decisions, see results quickly and keep the creative flow going. There's a lot to be said for that.
The closest workflow you could get in FCP would be to capture to DVCPRO HD (using a funky/hybrid 1080p24 using the 1080i60 codec that can't go back to a DVCPRO HD deck via FireWire) and edit with that for realtime effects. BUT...you wouldn't have full res (1280 pixels across instead of 1920), AND you'd be in 8 bit instead of 10 bit - a big difference when color correcting. Could you see the results on an 8 bit LCD monitor, however? You'd have to be looking at an analog HD or SD monitor to see the difference...and none of CRTs can show the full 1920x1080, LCDs don't have the dynamic range, plasmas don't have the resolution, etc. So would you be able to SEE the difference anyway, to evaluate it?
In any case, you'd have to go back and recapture the uncompressed HD footage on the FCP system - this is a definite advantage of the Boxx system for speed and convenience. On the FCP system, you'd have to then go back and potentially tweak your color correction now that you're in 10 bit uncompressed if you saw something you didn't like.
Both systems would have a lengthy render for the final quality master to go to tape, and I suspect the Boxx system would render faster.
But the FCP system can do uncompressed 8 or 10 bit footage, the Boxx system can't. But the Boxx system can do full raster, 10 bit, compressed footage, and mix & match SD & HD on same timeline. FCP can't compete.
Theoretical advantage Apple (but takes longer though). And once FCP is in 10 bit, there aren't any realtime effects. The Cineform codec has been described as visually lossless. The results I saw were impressive, but I would have liked to have compared that to the source material.
There is also the question of Premiere Pro as an editing platform - I haven't worked with it enough to say myself, but it worked well enough for the Dust To Glory guys, and with tons of footage on a variety of formats, that's a strong endorsement.
In the end, as always, there are trade-offs - do you want a MUCH faster workflow for a mild potential decrease in final quality? I think for all but the most critical work, the answer would be yes.
Take a look at that Dust to Glory trailer again - it's an incredibly image centric production (gorgeous helicopter shots etc.), and they felt this was up to the task. AND they were going out to film with this project. This is no first timer's effort - these are the guys that did Step Into Liquid, the amazing surfing film.
Good enough for them, good enough for you?
How much difference does it make?
...and I didn't have a concrete answer for them.
So I decided to get one.
In short, this is a rough comparison between the two cameras, not a completely thorough analysis covering all situations. It's a bit of an ICBM vs a bottle rocket comparison, but hey, folks want to know...
This is the $3500 new 1080i60 camera that has everyone excited. (I've written extensively about it before, use the Google bar at the top of this page and search for "FX1" for lots of coverage.) It uses 3 CCDs that are 960x1080, with the green pixels offset halfway between the red and blue, which buys you some more resolution. Sony claims an effective resolution of 1440x1080, I'm not sure it really sure it really delivers that much.
The lense used on this consumer camera pretty much moots that argument anyway - it's better than most prosumer lenses, but having the optical resolving power for 1440x1080 takes a LOT of precision. It's not here.
It records to the HDV format, which is a highly compressed MPEG-2 transport stream, with a GOP size of 15. GOP stands for Group of Pictures. This means that every 15th frame is a full update of the entire frame, and the next 15 essentially just record changes from the previous frame. So that if you lose a frame due to tape failure, you can lose up to 15 frames of video - 1/2 a second. Eek.
This data is recorded onto inexpensive DV format tapes. Sony makes special HDV tape that supposedly is more robust.
The original image, which if recorded in uncompressed RGB (red/green/blue) would be about 190 MB/sec. Instead you get about 3.125 MB/sec. This is because the video gets compressed using the MPEG-2 codec, which is usually used for delivery, when you want just enough visual data, instead of for acquisition, when you want as much as feasibly possible. This can cause problems later in post when you want to color correct the footage, when that "just enough" approach may be not quite enough.
Audio is compressed, unlike with DV, using MPEG 1, Layer 2 technology. This worries some of the audio guys I know. Even lowly DV records uncompressed audio.
So, in brief:
Camera: Sony HDR-FX1
Cost: $3500ish street
Image acquisition: 3 CCDs, 960x1080, arguably 1440x1080
Color Space: 8 bit 4:2:0 YCrCb
Recording media: small form factor DV tapes - if shooting serious stuff, consider the "special for HDV" tapes
Recording format: HDV - 1440x1080 recorded in 8 bit YCrCb, compressed with MPEG-2 TS using GOP of 15 to 3.125 MB/sec
Ingest: via FireWire, built into all modern Macs and included or available on PCs via PCI cards
and in this corner....
This is Sony's first camera that could shoot 24p, in addition to 25p, 30p, 50i and 60i. They revved the camera twice, so it's now the mark 3 camera. Ian Ellis of Texas High Def was kind enough to bring his over for testing of my new uncompressed HD to hard disk product I'm working on (but that's another story altogether).
The camera has 3 2.2 million pixel CCDs, capable of true 1920x1080 image acquisition. It can handle interchangeable lenses of extremely high quality (and cost). It can record 23.976,24, 25, 29.97, or 30 progressive frames per second, or 50 or 59.94 interlaced frames per second, all to the same HDCAM format tape. The HDCAM format drops the 10 bit, 1920x1080 signal down to 8 bit, 1440x1080 before compressing it with a JPEG-like compression algorithm down to about 22 MB/sec from what could have been a 240 MB/sec data stream.
What can I say? It's an extremely high quality professional tool with tons of controls made to be used under demanding professional environments. It also lists for over $100,000.
Camera: Sony F900/3
Cost: around $100,000 list price
Image acquisition: 3 2.2 million pixel CCDs, delivering 1920x1080 pixels at 10 bits/channel
Color Space: 10 bit 4:2:2 YCrCb (camera, available from HD-SDI tap), 8 bit 4:2:2 (internally 3:1:1) on HDCAM
Recording media: HDCAM tape
Recording format: HDCAM - 1440x1080 recorded in 8 bit YCrCb, compressed with using DCT like algorithms to 22.5 MB/sec
Ingest: via HD-SDI, available as a third party add-in board for Macs and PCs, starting at $600 (DeckLink HD) and up. $2500 or so will get you a nice card for Mac or PC.
OK, to the meat of this thing: In usage.
Comparison of footage
I still don't have an HDR-FX1 to play with, so I downloaded some of the raw .m2t files from the internet (you can get the same clips from here). This is the raw, source, directly from camera stuff you get when you copy the bits over FireWire from the camera. To be clear, this is EXACTLY what is recorded to tape from the camera. There are several outdoor shots - panning shots of a country club and it's lawn and trees, driving down the road in a car, stuff like that. I converted these files using LumiereHD version 1.5b9, which can now capture footage from the HDR-FX1 but can't (yet) get it back out to tape. I converted those source files to uncompressed QuickTime media so that there would be no image degradation and I could work with the footage in After Effects and Final Cut Pro.
I also have some footage from the Sony F900 that was shot from my front porch as we tested my new uncompressed HD to disk device I'm developing (more later on that). To be fair, I used the 8 bit footage captured from tape, not the source 10 bit footage I'd recorded to disk.
Both sets of footage were shot on sunny days outdoors, which somewhat levels the playing field.
HDR-FX1 1080i60 HDV Analysis
Here's my notes on what I discovered about HDV, really getting into the 1080i footage for the first time:
-viewed at a "pixel for pixel" level, it's not as good as good DV. By this I mean that if you were to look at a DV sized (720x480) chunk of image, it looks like consumer grade DV. Not really good DV, just good consumer DV.
-stepping back, looking at the full 1440x1080 image (stretched to 1920x1080), it's clearly miles better than DV in terms of detail and resolution. This makes sense - It's got 4 1/2 times as many pixels recorded to tape as DV does.
-footage of fire causes problems due to 4:2:0 issues. What's 4:2:0 mean? I'll explain 4:4:4 and work from there. It means for every group of 4 pixels, all 4 pixels' worth of information is recorded for the Y (luminance/brightness), Cr (component red), and Cb (component blue). For 4:2:2, all 4 pixels of Y are recorded, but only 2 pixels worth of color (the Cr & Cb). Each group of two pixels is averaged together to make only 2 values recorded. For DV, which is 4:1:1, only 1/4 as much color information is recorded as brightness information. HDV is a 4:2:0 codec, meaning for one frame 4:2:0 is recorded (4 of Y, 2 of Cr, none of Cb), and for the next frame, 4:0:2 is recorded (4 of Y again, but now none of Cr and 2 of Cb). The Cr and Cb take turns essentially every other frame. This trick usually works, except in video footage where the color changes a lot from frame to frame, such as footage of fire. You get streaks of color every other horizontal line, remnants of the color info from the previous frame. HDCAM never does this
-HDV looks very consumer quality, even when scaled down to standard definition. Technically the pixels might be in there, but what's making the pixels is miles apart from pro level gear. Pay 30 times more, it's going to look substantially better. Gee, big surprise...
-pushing the footage in post to color correct will break it pretty quickly. Some of my sample footage survived a push of +45 (using the Hue/Saturation controls in After Effects) and a gamma tweak of 1.15, but some didn't. Sky footage, for example, showed noticeable blocking in the raw footage, and when color corrected to give a pleasing saturation, it had EXTREMELY visible blocking, distractingly so. Think BAD digital cable.
-Mosquito noise was prevalent in any shot with a lot of fine detail. If you don't know what mosquito noise is in video, Google it. It's an artifact of compression, it shows up particularly clearly when you have fine detail next to a flat color, like small tree leaves against a sky. Once color corrected, it was very apparent.
-color correcting HDV makes almost decent looking stills, but you get all kinds of distracting popping in compression block artifacting once the footage is playing. Compression blocks are areas that the codec decides should be perfectly flat color...even when they shouldn't be. These blocks tend to dance around distractingly.
-Again, realize the compression techniques used for HDV are EXACTLY what's used for broadcasting digital cable. So when you're watching commercials on Deep Cable at 3am and see all kinds of wierdness (look at a defocused flat colored wall over a focused speaker's shoulder), that's the kind of stuff you get with HDV.
-lots of motion forces the codec to sacrifice quality in each frame. Travelling car footage, especially out the side window? LOTS of square edged artifacts.
-When compared to the F900 footage, HDV looks cheap and consumer level. There is no way you're going to be able to intercut these two cameras without jarring dissimilarities. If you're going for a verite look, a handheld camera look, OK, then HDV could be used in the same project.
-comparing similar shots - daylight shots zoomed in on distant leaves - the differences were extreme. My eyeball guess is that the HDCAM is capturing 2-3 times the sharpness of HDV. Between the superior lense, electronics, CCDs, and compression technology, HDV doesn't even pretend to be in the same ballgame as HDCAM.
-consider HDV a nice very high res consumer DV with this camera. I'd rank the HDR-FX1 about 1/2 of the way between a good DV camera (Canon XL1S or XL2, Sony VX2100) and the Panasonic Varicam. It's much better resolution than DV, but the clarity and color fidelity of the Varicam blows HDV away. But it's nowhere near the F900 in quality by any stretch. (Which shouldn't surprise anyone, anyway)
-tree & leaves, zoomed in on from 50 feet away, were still very very sharp in the F900 footage. Everything HDV was soft focus, but rough edged due to compression. The F900 had a smoothness that the HDV footage didn't touch.
-don't consider HDV a replacement, a challenge, a match, or a camera B for a Varicam, HDX400 (new Panasonic 1080i DVCPRO HD camera) or Sony F900. Consider it a really, really sharp DV.
-if you want to shoot on it because it's more resolution and detail than DV....well, kinda. Overall yes, but some of the motion artifacts will be shocking to DV folks down at the pixel for pixel level. But overall it's a nice prosumer camera and that's it.
If you've been dreaming that you could get a Sony HDV camera (even the upcoming improved model with XLR adaptors) and go out and "shoot a movie" with it with available light, you're going to be dissapointed. Perhaps future HDV cameras will have better optics and dynamic range, but the format will always be hobbled by the compression technology.
Compare it to Open Water, shot on good PAL DV cameras, and then verrrrry carefully posted. That with more resolution, but more compression artifacts.
I'll be very curious to see Panasonic's new $4000ish DVCPRO HD camera at NAB and see how it compares.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
While Optibase will continue to sell and support the existing suite of Media 100 products, certain positions at Media 100 will be eliminated, and Research and Development initiatives with regard to Media 100 will be considerably reduced in order to improve the financial results derived from this business unit.
Optibase CEO Uzi Breier said, "Since joining Optibase, I have studied the markets in which we operate and have carefully evaluated our competitive position, as well as the growth opportunities existing in each of these markets. It is my belief, that at this time, the digital non-linear editing market does not present Optibase with the most substantial growth opportunity and is not fully synergistic with the Company`s core activities. As a result, I have recommended to Optibase`s Board of Directors, and they have agreed, that it is in the best interest of the company and its shareholders to remove certain portions of our Media 100 activities and focus our resources on initiatives that may better position Optibase for growth in both the short and long-term."
So THAT'S why you don't buy from small, economically fragile providers.
I checked out Media 100 HD at the MWSF show, but only because I thought I should cover it. It has some excellent features - use any codec, mix & match HD & SD on the same timeline - but the product's future is best described by a cop's description of a vicious car accident's driver as a state beyond DOA:
DRT (Dead Right There)
While it doesn't get into Xsan specifically, it does lay out general network topologies and workflows that fiber channel enables.
Monday, January 17, 2005
1.) Apple will roll out Final Cut Pro HD 5 at NAB in April. At least announce if not ship.
2.) The scoop on HDV & the Apple Intermediate Codec: HDV will be supported the same way it is in Final Cut Express HD, which I finally confirmed IS a 4:2:0 codec specifically made for working with HDV. There are 720p and 1080i setups for HDV, and you can "roll your own" other sizes. The codec is 4:2:0 only. There are other output options. But when you choose the 1080i or 720p options in the QT export panel, you're actually preconfiguring a whole bunch of things that get written into the quicktime movie header - the field order, pixel aspect ratio, clean aperture, as well as media and playback dimensions. If you choose "other" then you are free to go the "size" box and enter custom dimensions - say 720x480. But the other meta-information is not setup, so the intermediate codec *could* be repurposed for other media types, but it is really focused on supporting HDV, which is 4:2:0, and comes in 1080i and 720p flavors, and making the import and export of those HDV formats as simple as possible. The audio is transcoded as well, from Mpeg-1, layer 2 audio to straight-up, uncompressed 48KHz PCM.
3.) Fiber Channel connectivity has been described as "important" in this upcoming release
4.) IMX and 1080i50 DVCPRO HD will also be supported.
5.) DVCPRO HD 1080i50 will have less compression per frame than 1080i60 DVCPRO HD. Same overall bandwidth used, fewer frames per second, more bandwidth per frame, so less compression, better quality. See my previous post about 1080i50==>1080p25==>1080p24 workflows for the new Panasonic camera.
6.) Similarly, 1080i50 HDV codec (and it's Apple Intermediate Codec) will have higher bitrate per frame for same reasons.
7.) I'd expect lots of demonstrations of Xsan integrating with Final Cut Pro HD now that Xsan has shipped. I'll have more to say on Xsan in the near future. I did get this key bit of info: for each workstation that wants to work with uncompressed HD simultaneously, you'll need a fully populated X-Serve RAID. Want one uncompressed, one compressed HD station? One X-RAID fully populated. Want three simultaneous uncompressed HD users? Three X-RAIDs fully populated. Eeyouch.
-12 bit A/D converters
-CineGamma (or Cine-like gamma as the article states)
-realtime SD composite output
-works with the AJ-HD1200A deck, so can FireWire the footage into Final Cut Pro HD
-10 second pre-record - has a RAM buffer that always holds the last 10 seconds, so if you miss the start of the shot from the time you hit record, you can get it on tape
-can record 33 minutes on a ne 9 micron DVCPRO medium sized tape
-read the article (link above) for more details
Mike's Comments: They intend this as a serious camera, but with 1 million CCDs per chip, that's not enough to fully populate a 1920x1080 image. Knowing that the DVCPRO HD format only records 1280x1080, I divided 1 million by 1280 and got...926. Are they just rounding down a little bit? 1280x1080 would be 1,382,400 pixels, and if it were about 1.4 million CCDs I think they'd tell us. Dividing a million by 1280 gives us 781, so this thing is probably using the same or similar CCDs to the Varicam's native 1280x720 image sensor. That's a guess, though.
So how will this camera work for indies? For starters, it's 1080i, meaning interlaced not progressive. Great for docs at 60i, not good at all for storytelling at 24p. So what could be done with this? There will undoubtedly be a 1080i50 version of this for PAL markets, so if you shot 1080i50 and used software to interpolate/blend to 1080p25, it would be easy to retime it to 1080p24 in software. The advantage would be you could aquire in DVCPRO HD with its native codec at around 14 MB/sec. I've heard rumor that the 1080i50 implementation of DVCPRO HD uses more more data, hence less lossy compression, per frame, since there are fewer frames per second than in 1080i60. Therefore individual frames should look better from a 1080i50 source as compared to a 1080i60 source.
Would this be worth doing? Would this generate a better image than other alternatives at a similar price point? Would it be better to just go with a native Varicam approach?
Some guessing, NOT having seen the image quality or controls from the camera, just focusing on the math, which is only part of the equation:
Varicam records 960x720 to tape (squished down from the 1280x720 source).
This new camera would record 1280x1080 to tape, but that would be uprezzed from the roughly 1280x720 source on the CCDs. Better to uprez than downrez, though.
But for a 24p deliverable, you'd have to shoot PAL, then interpolate down. With what I've read somewhere about the effective resolution of field blending, that would get you a roughly 1280x750 pixel image. But would the field blended image look good/right? What would the effective shutter angle be on the treated footage? Would the temporal gluing together of the two fields look better?
Which would be preferable: 960x720 progressively sourced pixels from Varicam, or AJ-HDX400 treated to an effective 1280x750 from two fields? Would any temporal anomalies make the boost in resolution not worth it?
I have some 1080i footage from a Sony F900 and some 1080p24 footage from the same camera of the same subject material. I might scale down the 1080p24 footage to 720p and process the 1080i down and see what I get. It's a flawed test - not two different cameras, downsampling one - but it will still be instructive I think.
Other coverage from Creative Cow here.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
When I was at the NAB Digital Cinema Summit in 2004, I overheard someone (sounded like a colorist or DP) say to someone else something to this effect:
"So now I have producers emailing me stills from the shoot that they've created a look for in Photoshop. As if anyone with Photoshop could do what we do."
There's two sides to that - on the one hand, having a producer mess around in Photoshop and then instruct a DP to "do that" could be pretty infuriating, especially if the producer has no idea how he created his look or how viable it is to create that look in post.
Clearly implied in the speaker's comments was the concept that Others were encroaching on His Turf, and having amateurs dabble (presumably badly) in his profession that he'd spent decades mastering was very frustrating.
...the advent of accessible tools to others outside the traditional cadre of those who've Done These Things can be a very interesting thing. Often a scary frustrating thing if the user doesn't know what they're doing, but eventually, ultimately, as the market matures, a powerful thing.
When I was doing desktop publishing in the early 90s, photo compositing had been done on big, expensive, dedicated "heavy iron" systems. When Photoshop came along, a lot of traditionalists pooh poohed it calling it a toy. How many Scitex color station or compositing operators are around now? Incredibly few I would imagine. I could see the possibility of some of the best, most talented artists still using the high end tools, but they are losing a LOT of work to talented artists using Photoshop or similar tools on desktop Macs & PCs.
Their used to be a job title called typographer - an expert in typesetting, who knew all about fonts and kerning and leading and proper word wrap the way a DoP knows about depth of field, exposure, panning rates, etc. The way a Bedouin knows about sand.
Then came desktop publishing, and that job category pretty much evaporated. Those folks either lost their jobs to other individuals that could operate the new tools (PageMaker, Quark, etc.) or they themselves learned the new tool. Did the quality of typography out in the world decrease in the next few years? Definitely. Did tons more work get done out there, enabling people to communicate via this medium that couldn't before? Absolutely. Over time, as either the old school experts adapted to the new tools, or the new kids that grew up on this stuff learned their chops and started to do new work, a whole new aesthetic evolved. Folks like David Carson came along and changed not only our expectations of type layout, but also of print design in general.
Another example closer to home for this audience - remember when motion graphics were almost done over black? It was the introduction of a generation of print based designers that had been working with Photoshop that were then given tools and opportunity to work in video that changed things. The first motion graphics that you saw built on a white screen were probably done by somebody raised on print design on a blank white page, rather than a video guy that considered a black screen "empty."
Look at how far motion graphics lept forward in the 90s from where it had been for years - not just a new generation of designers and artists got into it, but a whole new breed that brought an entirely different approach, that thought about things in an entirely different paradigm.
This has its risks and rewards - I remember being embarassed in the early 90s when an art director asked me to make something cooler and I didn't know what he meant - should I rotate the color wheel to the left or the right to get the desired result? This was both my shortcoming in terms of knowing the lingo of the business; as well as a dichotomy of schools - I had this new, very technically oriented understanding of color, he wanted an aesthetic result. I hadn't yet achieved enough artistic understanding of what he was after to immediately understand how to translate his request into meaningful results. My bad.
All this got kicked off by my thoughts about Final Touch HD - while it's been possible to get realtime color correction to a certain limited extent with Final Cut Pro HD, Premiere Pro, Motion, and similar applications, FTHD is opening new doors to a fluent, highly interactive creative process with a great deal of control and precise results at a price point that didn't exist at all before its release.
While $5000 isn't "purchase and doodle" by any means, it's affordable enough that smaller studios could buy it, and individuals could get time on the system to do interesting doodles. And doodles is where new art comes from. Lots of doodles are required to get someplace interesting, and to do so the tools need to be accessible.
How many people get doodle time on a Da Vinci or Inferno? Statistically speaking, practically zero.
How many can doodle with Final Touch HD, or After Effects, or Photoshop? Increasingly more (in that order) for each product I just mentioned.
What if paint brushes were $20,000? How many great artists would we have? The truly great, if identified early, and dedicated to the pursuit, would probably Find A Way. But how many great artists would never have the chance to discover their talent, or have their talent discovered?
An artist must be prolific in order to grow.
And these new kinds of tools enable the prolific efforts required for great new art to be born.
End of rant.
Saturday, January 15, 2005
FCP works with half res when doing RT stuff then scales it up. So when you're using realtime effects, it can be downsampled to half resolution for effects processing, and then blown back up for display. I need to look into this some more.UPDATED: Allow me to clarify - it CAN be half res when you're NOT working with highest quality setting. If using "High" quality it should be full res.
-The Synchromy stuff in the BitJazz Sheer codec will maintain quality, if you do 4:4:4 YUV (which you should be able to capture with BMD or Kona2), you can do high quality work and not change color values when going FCP =>AE=>FCP
-had lunch with Andreas Wittenstein of BitJazz, taked about their new G5 optimized beta of the Sheer codec and it's use in various workflows
-Roland of Final Touch HD: CAN output to BlackMagic card to review your 10 bit CC work in realtime
-QuickTime 7: man, those Apple folks are tight lipped. couldn't even get a hint of a confirmation about a lot of things.
-QT 7 has onscreen controls for brightness, contrast, etc.
-QT 7 has onscreen controls for fast or slow playback, a little slider to make variable adjustments - not just 1X or 2X, but a slider inbetwen up to about 5X I think I saw
-still never got a straight answer as to whether the Apple Intermediate Codec was 4:2:2 or 4:2:0
Friday, January 14, 2005
"I like HD for Indies a lot, great blog. Mike's a nice guy. But he also says this re Final Touch"
"As an aside, this tool was developed by asking a lot of traditional colorists what they wanted, and the tool is mostly organized around that kind of workflow. Now, myself, coming from the complete DIY, Very Digital Boy, Grew Up On Photoshop approach, this room based approach is a little foreign and uncomfortable. After seeing the workflow, at first I felt awkward in it, but it makes more sense as you get used to "
"All I'm trying to point out is that Mike doesn't have much color correction experience, and therefore wouldn't necessarily be the best person to evaluate different color correction systems. I'd rather hear what Mike Most has to say... (our resident ex-colorist)."
My hotel's funky internet access keeps me from posting directly to CML, so I wanted to address this to try to clarify my comments on Final Touch HD.
First off, I'd love to hear what Mike Most or other experienced colorist has to say about Final Touch HD. Hopefully he was at the show and had a chance to check it out. I'm not a colorist and I am very interested (and respectful) of such an opinion. If any knowledgeable person got a chance to sit down and see the demo, write in and I'll post up comments.
Secondly, this is not a dig at whomever wrote the above comments, they were offering a validly based opinion and being entirely decent about it.
Now, as for my own background, I freely admit I've never operated a Da Vinci or any such similar high end color correction station. I'd never even seen one until NAB this year.
But I do have a passing knowledge of color.
I started out doing photo retouch in Photoshop in the earliest 90s, back when the ad agencies we were doing work for kept telling us it couldn't be done on the desktop (this was on a Mac IIci back in the day). But we did it, and it worked, and we were keeping national level clients happy. I was hand calibrating monitors to Matchprints for our print work, dealing with RGB and CMYK differences, which got me started on familiarity working with different color spaces and the limitations of each.
I then got into digital video a few years later and worked with Media 100 systems when that was the thing (and then picked up Final Cut Pro a few years later). By this time I was working with CoSA, which became After Effects, and worked with that as my primary tool for a living for about 8 years.
By 1996, I was doing things like using 3D motion capture sessions that drove 3D animation that was photorealistically composited onto live plates using multi-pass lighting rendered 3D plates composited in After Effects. (That was for a Compaq project that won an international award.)
The techniques I saw demonstrated with the Final Touch system - initial system calibration to a target output, primary and secondary color correction, channel derived mattes for selective color correction, travelling soft feathered mattes for channel by channel tweaks, etc. - were all things I've used over the years, but had to wait patiently in After Effects (or other similar programs) to see the results of. I didn't have the colorist's workflow or terminology, but I was doing many of the same tasks, using similar techniques that I'd figured out or reverse engineered from reading Cinefex, etc.
I've created imagery that's been used on everything from cell phones to cinema screens, and just about everything I can imagine in between. Various reporduction media and their limits is something I've always had to deal with.
So I'm not familiar with the traditional colorists workflow by any stretch of the imagination. But I am familiar with much of what they are trying to do.
OK, sorry, end of ego rant.
With that caveat, based on my limited exposure to Final Touch HD - about 20-30 minutes spent watching the demo artist, and more time spent talking to Roland - I see FTHD as a very exciting new tool, doing things in real time that weren't possible with the other tools I've been investigating.
Have I seen the rendered results up close on a good BVM CRT? No. Do I have experience working with HD out to film? Limited. But it looks like this could be an extremely useful and powerful tool for folks working on the desktop, and specifically for folks with Final Cut Pro.
I'd been looking into possible workflows involving Final Cut timelines moved into After Effects or Shake to achieve better color correction results, and this looks faster, tidier, and more flexible. At this price point it could justify itself promptly. The quality sounds like it'll be nice - floating point calculation, you can output 10 bit/channel QuickTime files. Their guys are saying you can process 10 bit log stuff too. Again, I'd need to see the final rendered output to evaluate that, and run it through some torture tests a la the OneRiver codec test footage, the DCI StEM footage, etc. Any input on testing methodology would be gratefully accepted, and of course I look forward to a more experienced eye than mine sitting down on one of these systems.
I think we're entering a very interesting age where people like me that don't have the traditionalist's background have access to these kinds of tools and start doing new things with them. Might be good/bad/ugly/interesting/scary, we'll have to see. There will probably be beginner's mistakes, but I hope there can also be some fresh perspectives. Watching the explosion in the field of motion graphics as Photoshop trained graphic artists got into the game has completely revolutionized that category of commercial art (I write this in San Francisco, where I saw this happening in the mid/late 90s). Perhaps we'll see similarly interesting new results as new folks get access to a new level of tools. We'll probably see some painful mistakes made, too, but in the end it will get someplace interesting I think.
In any case, I look forward to a chance to play with this category of tool. And I do mean play - creative exploration. While it's been possible in the past to achieve similar results, it was only after looooooong render sessions, and once you go non-realtime, that drastically alters the creative flow of an artist. It's very hard to stay in the groove when you have to wait minutes or hours to see the results of your work. I forget who said an artist must be prolific in order to grow, but I absolutely believe that. Having a tool that instantly responds to your inquisitive gestures is essential to closing the happy/positive feedback loop that is essential to good creative energy and efforts.
So that's what I know (or at least think) so far, and I will continue to post what I can learn as I go. Unfortunately, my voice recorder dissapeared at Moscone so I won't be able to transcribe the rest of my notes from the demo session. I'm going to try to get hands on with a system and report what I can, based on my own limited perspective as Desktop Guy, not a traditional colorist, so keep that in mind.
Thursday, January 13, 2005
Kano Technology's SATA enclosures
LaCie's Silverscreen, their tiny little media playback device (USB 2.0 port, HDMI out, MPEG-1/2/4 & DiVX playback, MP3 & JPEG photo playback)
La Cie F800 hotswap FireWire 800 RAID 0/1/5 enclosure with it's beefy aluminum drive trays
Exabyte's LTO2 autoloader that can back up 1.4 TB unattended
Silverscreen device, remote, and User Interface pictures
AJA's HDP, an HD0-SDI to DVI & RCA stereo pair adaptor.
I went by QLogic's booth, they make fiber channel switches such as you'd use with Xsan. Their pricing scheme is funky: you buy a 16 port switch for $4000, but only half the ports are live. You pay $2000 to "make live" additional groups of 4 ports (so $500/port) via a license arrangement.
Mattenee is a $400 plugin for FCP/After Effects/Premiere Pro etc. that does pretty good one button keying. It works with Reflecmedia's microdot reflection material. You know that shiny stuff on your running shoes that reflects headlights from cars super bright? Imagine a big gray piece of that. Now put a ring of LED lights around your camera lense. Your camera lense is like the headlight, the tarp (actually spring steel edge piece holds it taut) is like the stuff on your running shoes. You can get either green or blue light rings for different size camera lenses, and it works GREAT. It's amazing how good a key this thing can generate. You can use your own keying software, but Mattenee has presets to work with it. It's really cool.
Delicious Monster makes Delicious Library. It's so cool I whipped out my credit card and bought it on the spot. Have an iSight or DV camera (or $130 barcode scanner they sell)? Just hold your DVD movie box, or videogame, or book in front of the iSight and it scans the barcode, figures out what it is, looks up that book/movie/game on Amazon, then pulls down all the info such as artwork cover, director, actors, etc. Automagically, as Steve would say. Super extra ultra cool. THEN it is set up to run a lending library, so you can know that Rhonda, sweet bum that she is, STILL has my copy of The Way of the Gun that she borrowed on the 20th, since you dragged the artwork icon for Way of the Gun to Rhonda's name in the "Borrowers" list. Rhonda, are you reading this? Rhonda Schneider, of Llano, Texas? Hullloooo? If I'd had Delicious Library installed and in use, I'd know who had what of my DVDs, books, etc. you can even call up Amazon derived lists of "similar to" or "if you liked X you'll like Y" lists, and one-click buy'em through Delicious Library. (And I'm sure Delicious gets an Affiliates fee out of it). Actually, Amazon should buy this application and give it away - it would pay for itself. Not strictly a filmmaker tool, but I'm betting everyone who reads this has a zillion DVDs that get loaned out and dissapear all the time.
Also talked to Ted Schilwitz from AJA again about what's up with Kona2 cards, and discussed what they're doing about 10 bit 4:4:4 support in Kona2, which presently has hardware but not software support. Can't say what's up, but they are going about it the Right Way, should be very pleasing results.
Spent some time in the AJA booth looking at the IO, IO LA and IO LD. These products let standard definition users ingest SD footage from analog or digital sources (for example, Beta SP or Digibeta sources) via FireWire. But it's not DV - it's uncompressd video travelling over a FireWire cable. It can be a good idea to connect these via a FireWire card in a PCI slot to prevent bus contention issues if you want to capture the video to FireWire drives. G-Tech, Granite Digital, La Cie make good solutions for these users.
AJA was demonstrating recorded and live input from the Sony HDR-FX1 going into their Kona2 card via the HD10A, a little adaptor as well.
AJA's HDP is their HD-SDI to DVI adaptor. It has TWO pasthrough outputs - VERY handy. If you're doing 4:2:2 work (not 4:4:4) and don't need to load custom lookup tables for calibration, this is a very handy piece of gear. About $700 I think on the street.
Walked around and got some vendors together to see each other's products. Folks in the HD card business met folks in the SATA card business and good things will come out of this. Got an HD card vendor in front of Final Touch HD and good things should come out of that as well.
Read the comments link at the end of each article, I'm getting some smart feedback. h'biki wrote in to say that since Motion uses GPU for major functionality, FCP 5 could as well, and that perhaps Tiger will be a requirement for FCP 5's new goodies. That is a good argument. But the drums in the jungle seem to be hinting that FCP 5 will be more of a maintenance and additional formats release rather than a Bold New Features release. But what do the drums in the jungle know? h'biki also pointed out that 18 months is their usual development cycle, not 12, so FCP 6 at NAB 2006 might not be realistic.
Graeme Nattress (www.nattress.com - filters for Final Cut Pro) wrote in to say this about Xsan:
Spotted this on your blog: "MDC talks to the storage via Ethernet, so it's out of band - metadata traffic is off of the main data pipe (fiber channel)"
The MDC talks to the storage over fibre - but to the clients over ethernet. The MDC needs a fibre connection to the XSRAID and ethernet to the clients. They also recommend a separate ethernet connection for client internet access - at the very least a different subnet of the main ethernet connection. Airport works well for client internet, or, if enough slots, shove in a second ethernet card.
At least that's what I'm told, and from reading the manual.
Improved resolution in PAL HDV: John Nagle wrote in to say:
I found out today that my hunch was correct: if you are shooting in 50i
instead of 60i, the camera (correctly!) takes advantage of the extra
bandwidth available to it and produces a much cleaner frame. The disparity
in the images I've seen were quite significant.
jean wrote in to ask:
thanks a lot fo your review of the show
when i met andrew and ron at the ibc i ask them that we could use FTHD with
the surface control from jl cooper :
it is the one color finesse 2 will use
is it possible?
The control surface used with Final Touch HD is NOT by JL Cooper, it's by an English company called Tangent Devices. It's 15,000 British pounds or so (cost not weight).
You ask, I find out...
OK, back into the breach....
As an a very interesting aside, a reader wrote in to say that he confirmed that the PAL version, the HDR-FX1E, has better quality video, since they use the same 25 megabit datarate for only 50 fields per second instead of 60 fields per second. If you shot 50i, field blended down to 25p via software, and retimed for 24p, that would be a very interesting option. For even better quality, keep reading....
...if WHILE YOU'RE SHOOTING (not afterwards!) you use the AJA HD analog to HD-SDI converter HD10A you have an HD-SDI output from the camera. Yes, it's analog redigitized, but you skip all the MPEG-2 encoding, and that's worth it. You'd also want to record uncompressed audio, since the audio is compressed with HDV.
So how do you record it?
Here are some options, increasing in cost & quality:
1.) Record it to DVCPRO HD 1080i deck, such as the AJ-1200A. It's about $25,000 with the FireWire board. If you want FireWire out, it's another five or six thousand dollars. This will give you compressed 8 bit 1280x1080 4:2:2 footage at about 14 MB/sec instead of the 3.2 or so MB/sec of MPEG-2. Now, MPEG-2 is more efficient than DVCPRO HD, but it's not THAT much more efficient. I think this is actually the sweet spot in terms of price, portability/field viability, and quality. You can then ingest via FireWire onto a G4 laptop in the field for spot editing and checking. In Austin, there's one that rents for $350/day, price varies on your market and rental length. Edit back in the studio on a G4 or G5. Want better? Read on...
2.) Record to HDCAM. It's natively 8 bit, 1440x1080, 3:1:1. It's about a 22 MB/sec data stream. Actually, thinking about it, this may not be so great since the resolution is only slightly better, but the color space is 3:1:1 rather than 4:2:2. Then you have no native codec support in FCP, you'd have to use DVCPRO HD for an offline codec, then do your online uncompressed. Higher requirements for storage speed and quantity, and HDCAM decks are pricier than DVCPRO HD decks. Even a 24p capable J-H3 deck is about $25,000, and it does NOT record. These decks rent for $500-$1000/day depending on market and rental duration. You're most of the way to renting a better camera.
3.) Record to Panasonic D-5 or HDCAM SR for 10 bit 4:2:2 quality. It's 10 bit, full raster (no downsampling to 1280 or 1440) which is great, but that's silly, since these are $90,000 to $100,000 decks. You'd be better off renting a better camera at this point.
Also, be sure to read the comments associated with that article, after the end of the article there's a line that says "Posted by: Mike / 1:33 AM (5) comments". Click on the "comments" word and it'll take you to a single article view that shows the comments. Read'em, the developer and his engineers corrected some of my incorrect assumptions.
The rest of the workflow to get back to FCP is cool.
So it looks like it works like this:
Finish your offline edit.
Recapture (or relink) online quality footage by recapturing from tape or relinking to other media. If working with DVCPRO HD sourced material, Render To in Media Manager can be a valid option as well (maybe, since FCP scaling is bad/evil).
Export XML out of FCP. Quit FCP.
Launch Final Touch HD.
Your timeline opens up before you in Final Touch HD, shots have been assigned numbers.
Group shots as desired, start in the first room for color correction process.
Many steps later, when done with your work in Final Touch HD, render the results. It'll help you with file/folder structure issues.
Export XML from Final Touch HD, then Quit.
Open Final Cut Pro HD, import the NEW XML file you just made.
Your timeline is back, now only it links to the color corrected footage. All of your other effects etc. are restored via the XML process.
This is the theory as I'm interpreting as they've explained to me, I could be wrong, and it might not work this gracefully. Sounds good in theory, I want to try it myself.
Below are my raw transcribed notes from sitting down with them. They end abruptly because that's as far as I transcribed from my voice recorder. I'll try to get back to it and finish:
FTHD - software based color corrector
-lots of hardware based platforms for CC
-backed by big names
-computers can do it on a home computer now (a nice one)
-G5, two screens,
-he's done film-out for work
-working with 1/2 res files off of striped FireWire pair
-can deal with QuickTime natively - use BlackMagic codec, 8/10 bit, 4:2:2 or 4:4:4
-do your online
-import into FTHD
-went to mainstream colorists and asked them for what they wanted
-divided into 8 rooms
setup room is the first - to bring in frames from elsewhere. As the shots are brought in, each shot gets a shot # that matches to the order from the timeline in FCP or whatever, can cue up by shot # or by timecode
-can organize your shots here, can assign colorists here, can do status reporting that goes to an HTML server where a manager can keep track
-can add notes on a shot by shot level
-project settings for res, timebase, etc.
-user preferences are settings for individual colorist users to set it up exactly how they want it to work
-sensitivity settings for panel, for instance
-color coding system to tag what shot gets labelled what color for it's status
-can set lookup tables for film print LUT for calibration
-do a two minute test and send it to eFilm or whatever to go out to film, stare at it and match the film to the screen, then that is your calibration LUT
-this project then should use that LUT (look Up Table) so that you're calibrated to that output device
-lets you work WYSIWYG
Primary In Room
-consists of primary color corrections for shadows, midtones, highlights
-screen layout corresponds to physical control layout
-Vectorscope: can be zoomed in on, and can be set to update in realtime so it's live as video plays
-set a basic look in the Primary In Room
-can have several looks assigned to a hot key combo "Hot Grades" allow for up to 4 presets to compare between the 4 different looks
-Advanced Tab allows for lift/gamma/gain for RGB, also have printer lights and printer light calibration that you would get from the lab (whatever that last means, haven't done that yet myself)
-the art of CC is where it works - image isolation & manipulating just that area to make it look good.
PICK UP FROM FOLDER C#29 AT 8 MIN 30 SEC
-geometry - for rotations & zooms and stuff - cool overlay grid helps with this
-still store - store an unlimited # of stills of before/after, with various grading looks, etc.
-final frame - for final output I presume, never got this far in the presentation
-woops, that's it. More later.
One of the presentations was on Xsan for video editors.
It's not cheap - a "from scratch" studio setup for multiple editors starts in the $25,000 to $35,000 area, but for facilities and multi-editor setups, Apple claims it's 1/2 to 1/3 of their nearest competitor's costs, and that sounds viable from what I've seen of Avid's costs.
Here's what I found notable from the presentation:
-Xsan is $1000/seat, regardless of whether that's client or MDC (metadata controller). Ironically, MDC is my initials.
-so that means the metadata controller software is a grand, too. You need one of those.
-16TB per volume limit, 8 volume max. So 128TB maximum storage capacity for now. Awww...and I'd planned on 200. Yeah, right. When Tiger comes out, that'll push it up into the "never mind, it's enough" category for anybody. Whether it would practically scale to that limit is another discussion.
-you can do volume expansion where you just add more drives and the volume gets bigger without reformatting - nice.
-Minimum config is this: X-Serve RAID, metadata controller, fiber channel switch, and edit station Macs. While you could just do one edit station Mac, it's pointless - you should've just connected it directly to the server.
In a bigger install, you'd probably want a backup MDC, so that if the primary went down it could failover to the backup, and there'd only be a few seconds delay. Nice job, Apple.
Big installs in place include the Scrubs TV show setup where they edit in HD.
-Another install has 42 editing Macs for a big reality TV production company that has an 800:1 shooting ratio. They do a LOT off Offline RT work.
-MDC talks to the storage via Ethernet, so it's out of band - metadata traffic is off of the main data pipe (fiber channel)
-site planning is CRITICAL for Xsan setups, lots of factors to take into consideration
-what are they doing?
-large vs. small files and streams (audio vs. video, and audio might be up to 24 small streams with seek requirements, video a few big ones)?
-what codec/s that has what bandwidth/s?
-how many RT streams per station?
-how many simultaneous users?
Calculate the worst case scenario and be ready for it - what if everyone comes back from lunch and sets up multi-stream playback?
-adding more X-Serve RAIDs increases bandwidth, not just capacity. But the fiber channel can be a bottleneck
-the fiber channel switch is likely to be the most costly component in the whole setup, but it's worth it. Switch is your friend and a crucial piece of gear.
-cabling is GLASS in their, remember that. if you bend it too tight, it'll break. Then light can get through the cable, but sub-optimally. Then your throughput shits out (my term, excuse me). So take care of your cabling, get it professionally installed.
-segregate your media - separate audio from video both in storage and during captures
-use affinities and multiple volumes (I have no idea what he means by affinities in this context, but I'm going to find out)
-separate render and ingest from static material (need to think on that one)
-it's a freeway - plot out what's ideal, avoid traffic jams, think about local vs remote (on SAN) traffic setups - what NEEDS to be on SAN, what can be on local client disk? Minimize traffic on your freeway to avoid jamups.
-avoid choke points in the flow (a good switch, for instance)
If your site is mission critical, consider redundancy and protection:
-metadata controller redundancy (failover units)
-UPS on all systems, etc.
Xsan is 1/2 to 1/3 of other systems, but still not cheap.
-Xsan certification is 5 day class
OK, that's it, I'm to bed. As always email me questions, link at top of page.
-I was WRONG about the analog outputs on the HDR-FX1 - you CAN capture the feed from the analog outputs when shooting live to another format. AJA can plug a couple of connectors together to get the analog feed into their Kona2 card to get uncompressed HD input recorded to whatever. You could also record to a field deck, like a Panasonic 1200a DVCPRO HD deck to get something smaller and more portable, but then you'd be recording compressed 8 bit 1280x1080. Still arguably better than the MPEG-2, and certainly easier to edit with (until FCP HD supports DVCPRO HD, which I'm 99% certain will happen with FCP HD 5 at NAB).
-FCP 5 - expect a lot of foundation support, not building new stories on top. By this I mean that it is expected to be a stability release without a lot of stunning new features. DVCPRO HD 1080i50, HDV, and 50 mbit IMX are all nice, but don't expect realtime 10 bit color correction (drat!), don't expect better than 8 bit RGB processing (damn!), and don't expect a big FCP to Shake Luv In from Apple. Said one source about the relationship between FCP and Shake teams "It's a battle." in reference to better FCP/Shake integration. DO expect the Apple Intermediate Codec to be used for HDV import.
-*Conjecture* - thinking about it, this makes sense. Tiger offers a lot of cool new stuff in Core Image, a floating point color correction and manipulation engine in the core OS. But Tiger won't even be finished until summer, and I'd expect Apple to launch it (or announce imminent launch) at WWDC in May or June (dates not set yet, I recall they bumped it to later a year or two ago). BUT once Tiger is done, THEN the FCP team can start coding to take advantage of it, AND so can the Shake team (if they haven't already - Motion has been described as a "practice run" for what they plan to do in real time in Shake in the future, this release or maybe next). After Tiger is done, then FCP will be able to add all kinds of amazingly powerful new realtime stuff that Core Image offers, so plan on version 6 at NAB 2006 to Rock The House. All that cool realtime stuff that Motion can do? Expect those types of capabilities (realtime geometry & color correction changes on multiple simultaneous video layers, high speed compositing) in FCP 6. But not till then, darnit.
-Apple Intermediate Codec is what is used in iMovie HD and Final Cut Express HD. I kept getting inconsistent info about 4:2:2 vs 4:2:0, but 4:2:0 seems to be the consensus. It is a variable bitrate codec, sample footage I saw runs from 6.9 to 12.3 MB/sec for 1080i60 footage.
-I'm betting that the Apple Intermediate Codec gets used in FCP HD, and that if it isn't 4:2:2 capable, there will be a 4:2:2 version of it for FCP HD. It's a Good Idea who's time as come. It's an editing codec, not a delivery codec. But that's fine with me so long as it works.
-Final Cut Express HD when importing DOES dice shots into individual clips based on start/stop times, so the iMovie HD step I mentioned the other day is not necessary.
-Final Cut Express HD capturing of HDV is different than other kinds of captures - it buffers the HDV and converts it as fast as it can, which isn't necessarily realtime. There is a little readout in the bottom right corner of the capture window that states whether capture is realtime or not. If capture is NOT realtime, what you see on screen is delayed from what you see on the viewfinder on the camera. So watch the CAMERA flipout screen on the HDR-FX1 during capture, NOT the computer screen to figure out when to stop capturing. If transcoding lags behind the live feed, after you stop capturing it displays some kind of a "still working on it" type display with estimated time to remain. You can abort out of that by hitting the Escape key a second time to bail out of it. So this process works by buffering the HDV stream to disk, and converting those frames to the Apple Intermediate Codec (so it's writing two data streams to disk - the temporarily buffered HDV AS WELL AS the Apple Intermediate Codec, which is much larger).
-Apple Intermediate Codec has three options: 1080i60, 720p30, and "Other" in the QuickTime Export dialog. Other brings up no options, so I don't yet get how it works. But we'll be using this in FCP HD I'm sure, so get used to it.
-Setups in Final Cut Express HD support list 1080i50, and Mary Massey, a product marketing manager at Apple, told me they were demonstrating Final Cut Express HD in England using the HDR-FX1E (the PAL version) right now.
-so that opens the door to shooting 1080i50, converting that to 1080p25, and retiming that for 1080p24. You'd end up with an effective true resolution of about 1440 pixels across (at best, it's 960 CCD pixels with the green pixels offset halfway horizontally) by about 750 pixels vertically of effective resolution. This is based on digital math presuming the optics of the camera could catch that in the first place. But it's still better than the other options at this price point, so I'd encourage it. Anybody interested in the details of how to do this? I can write up a workflow if there's enough demand. Email me, link at top of page.
-LTO2 tape format from Exabyte is the format that's making me reconsider tape as an option to hard drives. A 7 cartridge rotary autoloader is about $4500 they said, and backs up 1.4 TB of data at about 40 MB/sec, which should add up to 140 GB/hr, but I recall him saying 100 GB/hr. So 14 hours to back that up. Hmmm...but then again, how much footage are you likely to generate in a given day? That's all you need to back up overnight. Tolis BRU (Backup & Recovery Utility) is the recommended backup program for working with the LTO2 tape format according to Exabyte. Retrospect the booth guy said is low end, and I've heard Bad Things about version 6 of Retrospect.
-ATTO has a dual controler 2 Gbit fiber channel card, so 4 ports, 2 x 2 ports, each pair of ports has it's own 2Gbit hub chipset. Hmm. So in theory could attach to two different X-Serve RAIDs, or stripe'em all up for more speed, or other options like that. Around $1100/$1200. They also have a $1400 4Gbit card, but no 4 Gbit products currently on the market, but I literally overheard from several feet away someone say that Huge is supposedly coming out with a 4 Gbit array, but I don't know anything else about that.
-G-Tech is a new company that is a spinoff of Medea. Remeber the G-RAID? That is this guy's product and company. They have cool little enclosures that look like G5's you left in the dryer too long (shrunken). 320 GB is $369 list, 500 is $500 list, and 800 is $1299 list. The interesting twist is that they have them in FireWire 800 and native SATA, both at the same prices listed above.
-G-Tech also has a little piece of gear that LaCie is introducing something similar to, but G-Tech's enclosure looks better. LaCie calls theirs Silverscreen, G-Tech calls theirs...shoot I lost it in my notes...but it's the same kind of thing. It's a tiny gadget with a 40 or 80 GB 2.5 inch (laptop sized) drive in it that has a USB 2.0 socket for power or computer connection to load it up with media files - MP3's, pictures, and movies. Movies can be MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, or DiVX, and can be SD or HD resolution. The device will play out to SD or 1080i screens, not sure about 720p. But it's interesting, and assuming it can take a decent data rate file, would be a great presentation device as it can run freestanding, no computer required. Comes with a remote and has a passably decent user interface with menus. Great HD presentation idea if the playback can be made to look decent. Their demo footage looked pretty crunchy, pretty compressed and not great.
-I was told that one of the reasons why the "serious" arrays cost so much is that they qualify their drives - they buy a pallet and then send back all those that don't meet the RAID guys' tight specs. That's one reason why their arrays cost so much, they screen their drives and test them. So where do those cast-off drives go? Apparently there is a chain of preference - the big OEM's (Dell, HP, Apple, etc.) get first dibs on the drives, those not sold there or passed up go to second tier folks like RAID manufacturer's, and somewhere down at the bottom of the list are places like CompUSA and Fry's who get all the rejects. After asking several unnamed but well placed sources today, 3 times I heard Fry's mentioned as the Don't Go There place for drives. So seriously, it makes a difference - don't buy from Fry's.
-LaCie has the Silverscreen as mentioned above for digital content presentation, same price, $259 for 40GB, $329 for 80GB (those are G-Tech prices, they said same price as LaCie.)
-LaCie also has FastCoder, a tiny box that connects via FireWire that does realtime DV to MPEG-2 transcoding. Didn't see the quality. Comes with a DVD authoring app that you just feed DV and it relies on the hardware to convert to MPEG-2, so can make a DVD very quickly from MPEG-2. Tiny little consumer looking box, smaller than a remote control.
LaCie's 321 monitor is very bright and contrasty, and I mean that in the best possible way. Perhaps the best looking color I've seen on an LCD, the black levels were pretty good, not too high. It's 21.3 inches, 1600x1200 resolution, roughly comparable to CRT levels of bright/contrast according to sales guy (but he's a sales guy), and $1799. A $399 calibrator is available that I mentioned earlier this week.
Media100HD - their own uncompressed 10 bit codec (or 8 bit) for HD, and can mix on the same timeline different sized media (HD or SD), different codecs (animation, 844x, MJPEGB, Media100HD, etc.). Pretty powerful stuff. Time Warner has some installs in Texas apparently. Color correction done in 32 bit/channel float, derived from their fast 844X engine. For news type guys OK, but I'm hesitant about indie film usage. I'm still not convinced about their longterm stability/longevity, check where they are in a year. They had the whiff of death about them when they went through bankruptcy (or threatened to? Can't recall) and Optibase bought'em. Announced HDV support using Lumiere HD.
OK, one more post and to bed, it's 1am. Sheesh, what I go through for you folks...
1.) the 1EN2 enclosure is shipping, and is 20% off at MWSF. $170, $260 if bundled with the Seritek 1SE2 two external port PCI card. The 1EN2 is compatible with ANY SATA host. Extra drive trays are $22 and great for backups/archiving.
2.) the Seritek 1V4 card is a 4 port internal SATA port PCI-X card. Allows for up to 4 drives to be connected internally, it is completely driverless (plug 'n play 'n GO!), and you can boot off of it. $120 shipping soon.
3.) The Seritek 1VE4 has four external ports (thus the "E"), and also will hotswap drives, and even hotswap RAID sets. Otherwise same features as 1V4 card. $140, shipping late February I think.
You can get uncompressed HD speeds out of the 4 port cards, I set up a G5 with BlackMagic card, a 1VE4 card, and two 1EN2 enclosures and have been playing back uncompressed 10 bit 4:2:2 1080i60 HD footage without incident at their booth for hours. There are some things to be done to set it up properly to work right, but it works.
Disclosure statement: I've been doing some consulting work for Firmtek helping them with their booth at MWSF.
Silicon Color announced that Final Touch HD has shipped at MWSF after being announced at Siggraph. Here are some pictures of the UI (at the end of the page). Unfortunately, my carefully written notes didn't show up on the .Mac page.
It's the most interesting product I've seen at the show so far.
It will do realtime color correction of HD footage with multiple color correction effects,
-it will handle 10 bit footage
-all color correction is done in 32 bit per CHANNEL color space (floating point color correction)
-all color correction is done in RGB
-it can work with proxy files for lower throughput drive systems.
-you can have tracked soft matted color corrections with feathered color vignettes, primary and secondary color correction, and gaussian blur...ALL IN REAL TIME.
This sounds very similar to what Nucoda is doing on the PC side...but this is just $5000 instead of circa $100,000.
How It Works:
I sat down with Roland Wood, president and founder of the company, to hear how it all gets done. If I get any of this wrong, it's my own fault.
Say you've finished your editorial work in Final Cut Pro HD, using DVCPRO HD as an offline codec. You haven't color corrected so far.
Now you're ready for serious color correction.
Recapture from tape (or relink if elsewhere on disk) to your best quality source - 10 bit instead of 8 bit if you can.
Export XML from Final Cut Pro HD.
Go to Final Touch HD, the $5000 piece of software. Hardware requirements are similar to FCP, except you MUST have two monitors (user interface and video preview), and a Radeon 9800 is the minimal graphics card allowed.
You can import the XML file and it drops all your shots, in order from timeline, into Final Touch HD (FTHD henceforth).
FTHD is organized into a series of "rooms" to borrow a term from traditional color correction.
As an aside, this tool was developed by asking a lot of traditional colorists what they wanted, and the tool is mostly organized around that kind of workflow. Now, myself, coming from the complete DIY, Very Digital Boy, Grew Up On Photoshop approach, this room based approach is a little foreign and uncomfortable. After seeing the workflow, at first I felt awkward in it, but it makes more sense as you get used to it.
In each room you do different tasks - basic setup, calibration, primary color correction, secondary color correction, effects, etc.
Once you're done, you render out the final results to new QuickTime files, and have to integrate that back into FCP. How to do that was a bit fuzzy and I want to roll through that with them tomorrow. But it should be able to relink back into FCP with the now corrected shots.
The things I saw them doing on this $5000 piece of software were about 80% of what I saw eFilm showing they were doing on their proprietary DI tools they had shown at NAB last year for the work they did on Van Helsing.
Except for some potent 3D tracking stuff (which you could do in Shake and integrate into this workflow), this solution did ALMOST everything they showed at NAB, and did some things eFilm said they hoped to add by now.
They were defining looks that could be saved and added to groups of shots (for instance, all of the Camera 1 shots in a 2 camera conversation, so all of the "left side" shots could easily get the same treatments but still be individually tweaked).
All of the settings they were creating could be saved, individually or in whole, and added to shots or groups of shots.
Each individual component of a color grade, be it primary or secondary color correction, effects, softening, grain, etc. could be saved to disk, or the whole group saved to disk, and thus reloaded and applied to shots or groups of shots.
If you don't have an X-Serve RAID to work off of, you can import your files and FTHD will generate low res proxies to work with. When playing back footage, the proxies are used, but when you stop on a still, the full res is instantly swapped back in. Very clever, very well scaled solution.
Watching what it is doing, I'm guessing that this is working very similarly to Motion, in that the CPU handles certain tasks and the GPU is doing a lot of the graphics heavy lifting.
I asked Roland about this and his answers were a bit annoyingly cagey...so be it. But he did say that they were using all their resources that were available to them. Um, OK dude. Yeah.
But it works, and it's very impressive how much it can do in real time. Far, FAR beyond what FCP can do on it's own.
Ideally, in a perfect world, I'd love to see these capabilities rolled into an FCP plug-in, but I know that isn't technically possible.
The rumors that I've been hearing about the next version of Shake is that Motion was just a practice run for what they're going to do with the next big upgrade. Talking to Jean-Luc from Apple who works with Shake, I made it clear that Apple should get better Final Cut Pro HD/Shake integration, and he vigorously nodded his head without saying anything. Apple is aware of this desire and is presumably working on it.
Therefore, as cool as Final Touch HD is, I'd be very curious to see what happens with Shake and FCP before I committed to a $5000 software purchase, and perhaps a $3000 and up control surface.
That said, now that I think about it, even if Shake and FCP handshake beautifully, I'd be EXTREMELY surprised if the color correction tools in Shake were NEARLY as sophisticated as what FTHD is offering in terms of ease of use, organization, and especially speed. This is SUCH a focused tool, oriented around clean, organized workflow and a colorists specific needs. I just don't see how Shake, as a general purpose (but high end) compositing tool would ever have tools this focused outside it's core competency. While you can color correct, and well, within Shake (and do log, which FTHD doesn't), it's not organized around that as a driving principle and primary focus. The workflow and organizational tools aren't there.
Final Touch HD is enough of a breakthrough product that you could base a business on it. A very focused business, but a high quality one.
With Apple's G5 Macs, Final Cut Pro HD, BlackMagic or AJA HD-SDI capture products, X-Serve RAIDs, Xsan, and Final Touch HD, you could compete feature for feature, quality for quality with suites and studios costing more than ten times as much. AND be more flexible in your workflow, and still work at high speed.
And that's the kind of thing revolutions are built upon.
Mandatory - click on "Comments" link immediately below this for more info from the developer explaining some key points I got wrong in the above write-up.
Was talking with Jerry from ProMax, he clued me in that the analog outputs on the HDR-FX1 are NOT upstream of the MPEG-2. Now, he was capturing from HDV tape, so I want to double check on it, but he's saying that the Sony HDR-FX1 HDV camera's analog HD video output is AFTER the MPEG-2 engine, so that there is NO benefit to capturing video from the analog outputs in the field live while shooting into a BlackMagic Multi-bridge which could convert the analog HD into high quality uncompressed digital HD. Too bad, it was a fun idea.
If that didn't make sense, don't worry about it, since my idea didn't work.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Walking back from Moscone tonight, I walked into the huge Sony Style store in the Metreon, which is about a block from the Moscone Center (the convention center where MacWorld SF is being held.)
While checking out the DV camcorder lineup, I ran into Scott Sheppard from Inside Mac Radio and we chatted a bit, until he pointed out we were standing next to a Sony HDR-FX1 HDV camcorder, Sony's new 1080i prosumer model. Not being a shooter myself, I think it's cool but didn't have a whole lot to do other than pan around and zoom in and out.
But if you're at the show and run out of things to do (it's a small show, especially compared to NAMM or NAB or CES), walk over and get hands on with it.
They list it for $3699, so somebody's got to have it mail order for $3500, maybe $3400.
Might they bundle or sell them later? We'll have to wait and see, but not BTO for now. Damn. eBay off the stock G5 card then.
Tony said that the X800 card would go up for sale on the ATI online store tomorrow (Wednesday).
He said that they would be shipping immediately, not just for sale.
So I'm buying mine tomorrow.
-you CAN get Airport and BlueTooth on this thing, but they are Build To Order options - $129 for both.
-you can upgrade it to 1GB of RAM, but it's only got one RAM slot, so you have to either pay Apple's huge price markups or ditch the 256 (or eBay it) and buy a 1GB module.
-remember no keyboard and mouse, gotta get your own.
-I think it could make for a very intersting living room Mac, you'd just need a way to get the signal to show up on your TV with an adaptor of some sort. Add a wireless keyboard and mouse and an IR remote from Keyspan, and I'd MUCH rather steer iTunes than use a CD changer.
That will probably be my motivation/justification when I get one.
Album 1 is milling around at the show - pictures of the Sony HDR-FX1 at the Sony Style store (there were DOZENS of these at the Apple booth, Apple is hooked up with Sony in a big way); and some of the 8 zillion iPod accessories at the show.
Album 2 shows Granite Digital's storage products, Noren's quiet acoustic enclosures (large & pricey), and the new Mercedes CLS 500 sedan, with an integrated iPod
Album 3 shows Mac Mini from various angles, and screen grabs of the System Profiler report, and Silicon Colors Final Touch HD that I'll be writing more about after dinner tonight.
Final Cut Pro HD does not, at this time, support native HDV editing.
But iMovie 05 (due out Jan 22) and Final Cut Express HD (due when? Not sure) do.
iMovie can import all the footage from an HDV tape and dice it into clips for you based on start/stop takes.
that iMovie can be opened in FCE HD to edit/work with, since FCE HD can open iMovie projects.
Final Cut Pro HD can open that project (on the same computer with codecs installed from FCE HD)
If you created a customized Final Cut Pro HD preset, with the right frame size, frame rate, codec, etc. (1440x1080, 59.94 fps, upper field first (???), Apple Intermediate Codec) you could then open that file in FCP.
HOWEVER, you would not have realtime color correction, effects, etc., because that is not supported at this time.
HOWEVER, at that point you could use Media Manager to transcode to the codec of your choice.
Would this be any easier than Lumiere HD? YES, because iMovie would chop up all the takes for you.
Would this be better quality than Lumiere HD? NO, since you would have transcoded twice, even if you selected a lossless codec in FCP HD.
Would it be close enough/good enough for my needs? I'm betting yes for a lot of folks, but that DEPENDS.
But that's today's Clever Hack. Whether it's worth doing, I dunno. You would then get the realtime 3-way color corrector, and there's a lot to be said for that. But if you're that concerned with quality, why NOT suffer through the manual import process of LumiereHD?
Perhaps Asteroid will be debuted at the NAMM Show (National Association of Music Merchandisers).
Perhaps the PowerBooks will get announced there or somewhere else.
But in all the hubbub, these eagerly anticipated products got skipped over.
He told me that they were using some kind of an interstitial codec, and sent me over to find someone else.
So here's the scoop:
The HDV is read in from the tape in real time, but then it is transcoded to an all i-frame intermediate codec. The reason for this is that within the HDV data structure, one "clean and whole" frame is recorded, then the next 15 frames are recorded as changes from the previous frame. So if you want to know what a frame looks like that is 12 frames after an I-frame, you have to calculate what the prior 12 frames looked like going back to that I-frame. Time consuming and problematic.
So the usual fix for this is to transcode to a different codec.
Apple's codec for this is the Apple Intermediate (or is it Interstitial?) Codec, a 4:2:0 codec that matches the 4:2:0 color space of the HDV footage. It's a compressed codec that is all I-frames, so is easy to edit with.
Changes in Final Cut Express HD - now have full screen playback (Digital Cinema Desktop) like Final Cut Pro HD. Now have HDV support. Only a 2-way color corrector, not the 3-way color corrector like Final Cut Pro HD.
You can't play your HDV timeline back out through the HDV camera to a monitor like a DV camera. This will be a problem for anyone trying to do any kind of decent color correction with HDV.
When it gets transcoded on import, can't send that back out.
When you want to go back out to HDV, you have to transcode BACK to HDV from the intermediate codec.
They say that if you have a fast enough Mac, it's realtime.
But it has to render from the interstitial codec back to MPEG-2 - this is a problem since MPEG-2 is such an asymmetrical codec - meaning it takes longer to encode than it does to decode MPEG-2. So if you have a 30 minute show on your timeline, you have to render to MPEG-2 in something like realtime (a dual 2.0 GHz G5 can do at least realtime according to the Apple guy I spoke with).
THEN you can go back to tape.
So it's NOT realtime instantaneous- you have to transcode a second (slower) time after originally transcoding on import, and THEN you go back to tape.
So for a half hour show, from the time you select Print To Tape it can take an hour or more before the show is on the tape.
But at least you CAN go back out to tape.
It would be interesting to see how lossy this transcoding process is, but capturing footage and laying it back to tape, then capturing the newly laid back to tape, and putting that result back to tape, etc. How bad would it look after X # of generations?
Apple Intermediate Codec is the name of the codec.
You CAN use that codec in any app on that machine that Final Cut Express HD (or iMovie 05) is installed on.
Audio is handled natively in it's native MPEG (is that right?) format.
-some of the G4's are faster enough to transcode the footage, G5's are OK.
-source HDV gets erased on import, the Intermediate Codec is what gets written to disk on import, NOT native HDV.
I'm assuming iMovie 05 works the same way.
-can drop that Intermediate file into Motion or whatever.
-you can drop a Motion file into FCE HD
-you can import your imported HDV footage (from FCE HD) into Motion, do stuff to it, import it back into FCE HD. Changes made to the Motion file, once saved in Motion, auto-update in FCE HD.
Basically, the Apple Intermediate Codec is available to any app since it's a QuickTime codec available to any QuickTime app.
Apple clearly is going with Blu-Ray, not HD-DVD drives. Steve talked about the long working relationship with Sony, they showed a Sony camera, said how great Sony was. Apple's going Blu-Ray for sure. Steve was also clearly trying to show how much of a hurry they were in to get Blu-Ray DVDs going using H.264 (aka MPEG-4 AVC). So I called this one right last week.
-Final Cut Express HD & iMovie 05 with HDV native support - native HDV editing, I'll be checking it out at the booth shortly. I'm surprised that they are allowing a feature disparity to exist between Final Cut Pro HD and Final Cut Express HD and iMovie 05 (with HDV support). The can spin it as pro vs. consumer, and that FCP HD supports the pro level features, but....that's not a good enough answer. Final Cut Pro HD 5.0 is definitely going to ship at NAB I'd think now.
iMovie 05 is nice, and the ability to start a project there and walk it into FCE HD (Final Cut Express HD) will be sweet. Especially since you can "bulk import" an entire tape into iMovie and it'll dice it into scenes, presumably with HDV as well but I'll confirm.
Since Final Cut Express wasn't selling all that well, the inclusion of SoundTrack & LiveType and HDV support will make it an extremely viable choice for a lot of editors.
-Tiger is sweet, and the Widgets & Dashboard stuff is nice. We'll have to wait until summer for QuickTime 7 though. Other big stuff - up to 24 tracks of surround sound, so it looks like we MIGHT be able to capture multiple tracks of audio at once and finally get all that worked out.
OK, now I'm off into the fray of the show floor.
I'll post a more detailed analysis after I get this posted.
Biggies so far: native HDV in & BACK OUT TO TAPE from iMovie 05. HDV support (plus soundtrack & Livetype, plus iMovie & Motion integration) in Final Cut Express HD. H.264 codec in QuickTime 7
Tiger coming out first half of this year, so end of June? (WWDC launch?)
Other Good Stuff: iLife 05, iWorks with Keynote 2 & Pages. Pages is a layout/word processor with tons of easy to use templates that are Apple simple.
Mac Mini - tiny, basic, 1.25 - 1.42 GHz, $499 -$599, no KVM, available Jan 22
iPod Shuffle - itty bitty, smaller than pack of gum, shuffle or playback lineaerly, play/pause, prev/next, volume up or down and that's it - $99 for 512MB, $149 for 1GB, shipping from factory today
8:15 arrive at Moscone
8:25 social engineer my way into the better line
8:55 finally get in and get seated
9:11 Steve walks out
-they're using HD projection I noticed - Steve points this out and says - "Why?" he says. Clearly some HD goodies coming
-101 retail stores open around the world
-over 1 million visitors a week (20 MacWorlds a week)
-London most recent store
-on Gegent Street
-best reviews on this for any product they've ever received
-Walt Mossberg quote about how good it is
-various praise for the G5 iMac
-PC MAgazine says: "5-out-of-5 rating"
-in first full quarter of shipping is the most popular Mac they make - the best seller
Mac OS X
-Panther "has been an awesome release for us"
-over 12,000 apps
-14 million active users on OS X (Panther or any version?)
5th major release of
-ship first half of this year (BY JUNE, RIGHT?)
-over 200 new features
-#1 unix in the world
-better Windows client
-Core Image floating point image library
-.Mac syncing between Macs
-Safari RSS - auto-detect & viewing in Safari
-Automator - macro stuff
-they're search technology built into the core, allows you to find ANYTHING on your system - pics, stuff in PDFs, bookmarks, emails, contacts, etc.
-works w/ an icon, get a search field, get a menu with top hits, hit return to get a better kind of view
-MSN & Google have their own apps, but if you build it into the OS can do more
-far nicer and simpler interface makes it nicer
-OS can let Spotlight know when things change - DON'T have to run search again if a file updates, since OS informs Spotlight
-can be integrated into the Apps, integrated into all their apps, developers can build it in and use in aps
-over 100 developers including Microsoft are integrating Spotlight into their stuff
-can sort search results by people, by kind, etc.
-can expand the images found to show the first 5 or all
-each category shows the first 5, then has a "show more" below
-found the world "soccer" within a PDF doc
-within Contacts it'll show the contact info, click on phoen # is pops it full screen
-he's got over 100,000 images from Corbis on the Mac which have metadata, can search the metadata
-he accidentally opens the wrong app and locks up the machine, switches to another machine
-in the Finder it uses Spotlight
-Smart Folders let you leave a Folder floating as a search result
-even within System Prefs can use Spotlight, WAY COOL - let's you search for "bright" to find the screen dimming, etc.
-this is powerful, real, and GOOD for real world performance
-can use iTunes artwork as a screensaver
(HEY! THERE'S A SONY HDR-FX1 SITTING NEXT TO HIM, SO DEFINITELY IMOVIE HD IS COMING!)
-can search across all mailboxes instantly using Spotlight technology
-do a search and it adds a Spotlight column
-has a slideshow feature within mail
-search 100,000 emails in about 1 sec
-can save the search as a Smart Mailbox feature - GREAT for multiple slicing of searches, don't have to have an email in just one folder - SWEET!
-slideshow feature lets you play like an iPhoto slideshow, use an Expose like "see all" feature
-one button to add a pic in mail to iPhoto
-iPhoto will launch and add pics to iPhoto
-biggest update in a decade
-over 330 million copies downloaded
-10s of millions more
-90% plus to Windows
-24 channel surround sound
-full HD playback - 1080p24
-complete MPEG-4 compliance
-full screen overlay controls
-"best video codec technology in the world, adopted for next generation of DVDs, both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD"
-it's really astounding
-scales up really nicely
-has a sample from House of Flying Daggers
-has smooth sliding infinite scale with a drag control, NOT the corner
-H.264 scales from cell phones up to HD
-everybody is signing up for it
-really the foundation of QuickTime 7
-Expose helps you find your windows fast
-if you have to do a quick "thing" - weather, calculation
-get in, find info, get out
-Dashboard is a place for widgets to live - get in, get info, get out
-calculator, calendar, stickies, controller for iTunes, clock, unit converter, dictionary/thesaurus (pretty, too), stock tracker (shows Pixar and Apple, Apple at 124, flight taracker, yellow pages, translation of language, weather
-widgets has a plus sign in the bottom left
-click it and it lifts the dock to show widgets underneath
-beautiful water ripple transitions
-WIDGETS ARE COOL
-currency converter finds the rates on the internet
-clock can be flipped over to switch time zones
-clock goes dark during night time
-yellow pages - click on results to get MacQuest directions
-weather shows rain
-weather widget has beautiful OpenGL stuff for rain, wind, fog, etc.
-widget architecture is open,
-eBay has a widget they're building, can enter a new bid with it
-can pop in and out of dashboard
-it's real, it's useful, it rocks
-iChat ties in with AIM already
-extended the audio conferencing up to 10 simultaneous people
-for video, added the first multi-party videoconferencing with 4 people using H.264
-nice layout of the images
-live demo of videoconferencing
-Danica Cleary in Paris, Phil Schiller at home , Scott somebody
-can go fullscreen
-can have a reflection on the "tabletop" of the UI done in realtime
-very lovely UI, is truly 1st class
-nice 3-up layout
Tiger will be out first half 2005, LONG before Longhorn
-2005 is going to be the year of high definition video"
-FCP HD in use already
-most popular HD editing product in the world
-Final Cut Express HD
-HDV & DV editing
-Soundtrack for custom music
-seamlessly integrates iMOvie projects
-Motion integration seamless
-$299, available in February
-$99 upgrade from existing Final Cut Express users
-04 has been a huge hit for them
-new version with almost every app a major upgrade
-iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, GarageBand are all heavy updates, iTunes is still as is
-better organizing and searching
-more formats supported
-more powerful editing - will not need to leave iPhoto to make your pictures perfect
-new books and book design
-even easier than before
-folders with projects and multiple albums
-super fast search
-calendar view to find by month/week/day
-new formats supported: MPEG-4 movies supported to keep'em in there from cameras
-best RAW support in the industry built into iPhoto
-to edit: get a view of pics in album across the top in the strip
-have an editing dashboard
B&W points, brightness, contrast, exposure, histogram, saturation, sharpmenss, straighen, temp, tint
-same controls for RAW & JPEG
-advanced slideshows: set the timings diferently for each photo, can pan/zoom Ken Burns style
-new book layout tools
25,039 photos in here
-folders within to organize
-can search by keyword
-can search by date with a graphical clickable calendar
-double click on the month to get the week, double click week to get days
-MPEG-4 videos off of the camera
-photos to edit album - editing dashboard - can tweak sliders for the settings above. Hold down the Control key to get a before/after
-and can then save changes
-straighten control has a zoom and rotate in same control, and displays a grid - NICE!
-nice transitions in the customizable timings of iPhoto slideshow,
-BOOK STUFF: hit "Make Book" for different sizes & designs
-can lay it out manually or Automatically and then go back and tweak it - double sided printing, can use the strip at the top to drag around page layouts, drag photos around to adjust the layout. DAMN, it's nice! if you drag to replace another they swap, can use the image adjust dashboard widget EVEN WITHIN THE BOOK!
-good, fast, easy controls.
-mall folks could build a business off of this
-can buy the book straight from iPHoto, can buy prints straight from iPhoto, prints are now 19 cents.
-can add text to the pages
-picketbook 3.5x2.6 - for little stuff in pocket
all 20 pages minimum double sided, prices are $30 for the big book, soft cover is $20, 8x6, is $10, pocketbook is $4, books available Day 1 that iLife 05 ships
-MPEG-4 video support within
-magic iMovie - plug in camcorder, give it a title, tell it what transitions, it'll pull it in and format & MAKE A FRICKIN MOVIE for you
-iMovie supports HD now - HDV - EDITS IT
-720p and 1080i HDV including Sony
-works the same way iMovie works
-can go back out to camcorder no problem
-time slowdown effects
-can watch movies in high def, or put back to
-can make a 16:9 standard def DVDs now
-awaiting Blu-Ray to do their own DVDs (so they're going to use Blu-Ray, right?)
-high def camcorders - world's first prosumer camcorder, sells for $3499
-Sony "the best video company in the world"
-compete with them on computers and music, started using their 3.5" floppies in the origianl Mac
-welcome president of Sony to talk about collaboration between Sony & Apple to make it the Year of HD between Sony & Apple
-Kunitake Ando, president of Sony (Damn!)
-long & close relationship with Sony, admiration & respect for Appple hardware and software
-great hardware and software, can revolutionize the way we create video at home
-2005 is year of HD in home
-Sony's strategy to create HD world, with flat panel WEGA disks, Blu-Ray recorders, camcorders,
-Sony supplies camcorders for pro market
-software is the glue to make great value, to get max value of the hardware
-strategically it's important for Sony to work with Sony for seamless integration
-"make great software - just do that - only for Mac platform"
-background of HDV format that Sony is promoting aggressively this year
-records HD on DV format tapes
-together create this great HD world
-looking forward will keep the great features, will have a smaller, lighter cameras, easier to use for less money in HDV format
-STEVE - "we work closely with Sony on camcorders and still cameras"
-15 amazing new themes
-have animated drop zones
-1 step DVD creation - plug in a camcorder, it'll suck it in and make a DVD
-support for -r, +R, -RW, +RW etc. for ALL the DVD formats-THEMES THAT ANIMATE ON THE PHOTOS & STUFF
can drop a movie onto the stuff,
-one theme shows a srcolling, 3D thing that can drag & drop pics & movies onto
-shows 2 live movies playing on a moving scrolling background
-really, really nice themes
-big translucent overlays (but performance lags a bit)
-fun kitschy animated stuff
-these are nice & cool, pro designed stuff
-baby mobile! spinning 3D thing w/running video on them with shadows and everything
-yeah, it would be HARD to build something better than this
-clearly, they're in a rush to support Blu-Ray
-new packs - instruments & stuff
-realtime music notation from Logic
-8 track simultaneous tracks
-recorded tracks are as flexible as software stuff - change keys and stuff
-pitch and timing fixing
-create your own loops
John Mayer is back to help demo this again this year (won a Grammy)
-he plays music from a keyboard, it creates musical notation on the fly directly into GarageBand
-can drag and drop the notes around to change them, and it plays it back in realtime
-record 4 tracks live
-some tracks already laid down, then recording 4 more tracks with two guitars & two voices
-can solo tracks (as expected) to tweak
-John Mayer played a little live piece with accompaniment.
-and other new features he didn't have time to show
-they all work seamlessly and closely together to hand off to everybody else.
-can access all the other data from all the other apps
-$79 for iLife 05
-sell on January 22nd
-free on all new Macs
-succesor to AppleWorks
-Keynote 2 - cinema quality
-10 new themes
-powerful animated builds
-self-running kiosk slideshows
-presenter display - can see timiings, notes, etc. that aren't on main display
-easy to build using Themes & stuff
-lots of cool pop-up animation stuff that mere mortals can set up
-watercolor theme - soft blue, animated roll-in graphics, edge treatment on photos
-scrapbook - animated flip-in titles
-charts & graphs that you just put in the data
-compatible with AppleWorks, PowerPoint, Flash, & PDF support
Flash & PDF export
-"word processing with an incredible sense of style"
-it's a layout app, not just word processing
-advanced typography, footnotes, layouts
-40 apple designed templates
-has placeholder stuff in there, and replace it
-each template has lots of different pages per template
-drop in your own pics & stuff
-templates are good starting points
-could be as simple as letter templates
-family newsletter, menu, brochures, etc.
Phil Schiller will give a demo of Pages
It starts you with a doc that has placeholder text & graphics. You don't start on a scary empty page.
-font stuff is all pre-made for you
-integrated w/iLife, understands that you have stuff
-when placing a graphic, your picture browser shows your iPhoto libary and folders/albums, can just drag and drop, it handles all kinds of good stuff
-drag picture around, text flows dynamically around it in realtime
-templates aren't just one page, they are the whole document - front page, inside pages, back pages, various inside pages
-highlight text, go to Objects, change it to a chart, it kills the text in that space and replaces JUST that amount of text
-it handles lots of good stuff for you based on nice design rules
-it's really, really easy
-same team designed Pages that did Keynote
-if you know how to use Keynote, you're most of the way
-AppleWorks, Word, outputs PDF as well compatible
-$79 for iWork
WHY DOESN'T APPLE OFFER A STRIPPED DOWN MAC THAT'S MORE AFFORDABLE
-brief aside, the Virgina Tech stuff
-round, tiny, barel bigger than the DVD width
-combo optical drive - read DVD, burn CDs
-slot load combo
-firewire & usb 2
-analog & digtal audio
-imagine a stack of DVDs about 3 inches tall and a little bit wider
-bring your own display, keyboard and mouse
-take Mac Mini - hook it up to 20" Cinema display
-hook it up to any industry standard display and mouse
-comes with Panther
-comes with iLife 05
-priced so folks that were thinking of switching woudl have no more excuses
-1.25 GHz G4, 256 BM, 40 GB, Cmbo drive, $499
-1.42 GHz G5, 256 MB, 80GB, Combo, $599
-newest & most affordable Mac ever
-most popular online store
-over 230 million songs sold to date
-1.25 songs a day, rate of half a billion songs per year
-sales have earned iTunes 70% market share
-market share has held, even with all the competitors
-iTunes stores in 15 online stores, 70% of worldwide
-iTunes prepaid music cards sold last quarter, over 1 million cards sold since Thanksgiving
-retooled the iTunes Essentials - trying to come up with good ways for folks to discover new music - by artist, by time period, by genres, etc.
-have iPods & Minis
-733,000 2003 holiday quarter iPods sold
-for 2004 holiday quarter, sold 4,500,000
-500% growth year over year
-have sold 10 million iPods now
-over 8 million of them sold in calendar year 2004
-digital music era is coming upon us,
-10 millionth iPod made on Dec 16th, 2004, Steve has it
-last quarter, the top 5 Amazon online products were the 20GB iPod, #2 was iPod silver mini, #4 was the prepaid card
-"Made for iPod"
-the iPod economy - over 400 accessory products
-unmatched in industry by a mile
-a few new things for iPod to announce
-for car audio - BMW deal happened last summer
-was huge for them
-working on next gen adaptor out this year
-other announcements being made today
-iPod adaptors for their cars for 2005
-Mercedes Benz, Nissan, Volvo, Scion
-Alfa Romeo & Ferrari in Europe for car adaptors
-Mercedes has 2 cars at MacWorld - see controls from steering wheels - SLK Roadster and CLS model on the show floor
-Motorola phones w/iTunes support
-start rolling out this spring
One More Thing
-iPod market share - a year ago in Jan 2004, iPod was 31% of market, Flash players were 62%, iPod wannabes were 7%. Then iPod Mini went after high end of Flash market. How'd they do? Jan 2005, iPod is 65% of market share, Flash is down to 29%, wannabes are 6%
-obviously Flash is the next market
-Flash Mainstream Market
-a zillion little flash players
-very fragmented market, nobody is leading
-products are all about the same
Rio - tortured UI, no click wheel, very small display, AAA batteries
-trying to be iPod easy, but tiny displays and no click wheels
-hard to use
-hard to find your music
-don't want to make another one of these
-want a really great product
-easier than existing iPod
-bring more people in
-needed a new original idea that was way better than the tortured UI existing
-saw the answer - the most popular way iPod users listen to music - shuffle was the most popular option
-smalle than a pack of Trident, weighs same as 4 quarters - less than an ounce
-play/pause, prev/next, volume up and down
-shuffle or play linearly with playlist with switch on back
-cap on bottom - USB 2.0 connector
-12 hours rechargable battery
-PC or Mac
-upside down and comes with a lanyard
-integration between device and jukebox
-iTunes new feature - Autofill - goes throgh library and playlist and pick in order or random or most often played or etc. and make your Shuffle full to top
-can use it as storage device to enable disk use, and allocate how much for disk use and how much for music
-new version of iTunes that comes with it
-256 MB stuff on market holds about 60 songs
-512 MB model - 120 songs - $99
-1GB model, 240 songs, $149
-after you get it, accessorize - "in 30 days 100 products"
-some of their existing stuff - armband, a dock, sports case hard case, battery extender for 20 more hours, are all $29 each, rolling out in next 4 weeks
-new TV ad to start running in a week or so
-might be some at the Apple Store a few blocks away -RUN AND GO BUY IF YOU WANT ONE TODAY
John Mayer is playing a song
analysis to follow
Mike's Comments: This sounds useful for anyone doing live production that is recording to tape and wants to eidt the results further afterwards.
Monday, January 10, 2005
While helping a vendor set up their booth tonight at the Moscone Convention Center, I noticed the elgago booth had a product called eyeHome, and it looks just like the photos except for the name (which is of course easily Photoshopped).
Somebody duped somebody.
See the "iHome" pictures here.
See the eyeHome here.
See what I mean?
In the iHome photos, the styrofoam in the box doesn't look like the way Apple packages, and the thin paperfoam over the product isn't a tidy fit. Somebody intentionally duped this up in their cube.
Inside Moscone Center Monday Night:
All the booths are in place, it's interesting to walk around. There is lots of iPod stuff around. LOTS.
It's a small show - I'd be surprised if it takes me 2 days to talk in depth to everyone I care about - I may well come home early.
If you didn't see the iHome pictures on the web that are purportedly of the new low cost Mac, they may have been not of iHome but of eyeHome from elgato. It won best of show 2004 from Macworld.
HP has a surprisingly strong presence at the show. Besides a commitment to carry the iPod Photo as well as the regular iPods, HP has tons of printers and scanners set out at the show.
Lots of bag and carrying accessories.
An interesting concept as an iPod accesssory: Boom Bags - bags/backpacks that are portable speaker systems specifically designed to work with iPods.
More from the show floor tomorrow, I'm going to get up early and get in line for the keynote speech, and I'll post either from the auditorium (broadband access permitting) or immediately thereafter.
Think Secret has a nice summary of all of the anticipated Apple announcements likely and not likely. Almost Certainly: PowerBook speed bumps (nothing incredible here), Flash based iPod. Probable but no guarantees: headless low cost Mac for under $600, a very cool FireWire based audio breakout box code named "Asteroid", iLife 05 with GarageBand 2 that may support HDV in iMovie HD, iWork 05 would be their productivity/office suite, Keynote 2.0 is an updated version of the presentation software. IPod Minis may get bumped to 5 GB from 4GB.
MacOSXRumors is reporting that Adobe will NOT be announcing nor releasing Adobe Creative Suite 2.0, that the product will be announced in the spring and ship in the summer.
I DEFINITELY do not expect to see faster G5 desktop machines nor G5 PowerBooks. At this point I'm not expecting a new version of Final Cut Pro HD. Maybe a bundling deal with LumiereHD to give HDV support to FCP HD since iMovie HD might have HDV support? Maybe, but I doubt it.
I'll be at the keynote and report as fast as I can.
Gefen releases a slew of new products for sharing or extending high resolution computer displays:
-the 2x1 DVI DL Switcher lets yo connect two computers to 1 30" Apple LCD or other dual link DVI display. $700
-the DVI-2000 HD Extender lets you put a 30" or similar dual link DVI device up to 330 feet away from the G5 it is connected to by using fiber optics inbetween. $1300.
-the Combo Extension Cable is a cable with DVI (for up to 1920x1200), USB, and FireWire all in one cable. Perfect for Apple 20, 23, and 30 inch displays when you want to put them further away from the computer (such as in a closet or at the end of the desk). 10 foot $100, 15 ft $130.
-the CAT-5 5000 HD is for when you REALLY want your stuff far away - 150 feet away. Two displays and USB can be put 150 feet away, it uses CAT5 Ethernet cabling to carry the signals.
-the FireWire800 Repeater lets you extend a FireWire 800 signal up to 33 feet.
La Cie announced many new products:
-a FireWire 800 array of 2TB, support RAID levels 0, 0+1, & 5. 4 bay enclosure, FireWire800 & USB 2.0 interfaces, ships spring 2005. Macworld has pictures in their article. 1TB is $1500, 1.6TB is $2300, 2TB is $2700. I'm curious how fast they are. Has an LCD screen. Hotswap drives & hotswap fan. Audible alarm on drive failure and auto-starts a rebuild in RAID 5 config.
-Blue Eye Pro monitor calibration device to ship later this month, creates ICC profiles (useful for print work). Specifically for use with the La Cie 321 monitor, is $350. MacWorld article here.
-the first LighScribe support on Mac - print labels directly onto a DVD, available later this month
-their Ethernet Disk's capacity was boosted to 1TB, allows up to 25 people to access data simultaneously. Shipping "winter 2005"
-La Cie Fastcoder: realtime transcoding of DV to MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 on G3, G4, or G5 via FireWire. Available next month, $249. Supports batch encoding. MacWorld article with pictures here.
-La Cie Silverscreen: portable USB hard drive (40 or 80GB), can plug directly into a TV for instant playback of music/video/photos, supports 5.1 audio, comes with a remote, ships later this month. Plays back MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4. S-video and component analog outputs, can scale standard def to 1080iHD, but doesn't appear to play native HD material. Audio output is analog RCA pair, digital coax & optical SPIDF. $249 for 40GB now, $329 for 80GB next month. MacWorld article with picture here.
SoftRAID released version 3.1.2 of their RAID striping software. I still wish it supported RAID 10. Bug them about it. : )
OK, that's it for facts. Next up: Rumors!
Sunday, January 09, 2005
Oh! But like you care!
OK, on to priorities -
Apple's Booth - giant black felt drapes covering EVERYTHING, fifteen or more feet high. Even the stuff suspended from the ceiling is covered and inscrutable. Security people posted at the corners to watch for people sneaking in, and a bunch of security around the entrance. Same as always, in other words. It is BY FAR the biggest booth in the show, and the show isn't all that huge.
ATIWalked by the ATI booth and they have signage up talking about their X800 graphics card, which I wrote about already here and here. This card is big for HD editors, since it does NOT block the Slot 2 PCI-X slot, as the other fast cards from NVidia and ATI do.
Adobe: Had a Photoshop running up on a projector, but I couldn't tell if it was the rumored CS version or not. Still has the "feather" icon (hate it, I want my eyeball back!). There were a couple of icons on the Dock that I didn't recognize that looked very high end (nice icon artwork). One had a video camera on it, but it could just be something that already exists or a non-Adobe product.
Quark has a decent sized booth, as does Dr. Bott. FastMac has a booth as well, they sell various go-fast parts for Macs, so I need to get friendly with them. Brenthaven has a booth, I have one of their excellent bags for the PowerBook I'm writing this on.
Without getting evil, that's what I can tell so far, fantasies of ducking into the Apple booth with a camera (and my running shoes) for a snap-n-sprint not withstanding.
There's a new competitive sport for you. I'd love to see the color commentary - "The security guard's looking the other way, he's in the booth...HE'S GOT THE PIX! He's looking good, slipping out of the booth...OH! Security's spotted him! WE GOT GAME NOW BABY - and they're off! A nice fake towards the Quark booth, he's over through the maze in the Adobe booth and hes running for the doors! But WAIT! Security got on the radio, reinforcements on the way! Will he make it? Keep watching, we'll be right back after these messages from our sponsors at Nike."
OK, I digress, and way too much.
Durn it, I knew I should have brought my Airport Express, but I thought to myself "Nah, I won't have a chance to use it..."
I'm heading over to Moscone to help a vendor prep for a demo to MacWorld editors tomorrow.
I'll see if there's anything groovy in Moscone to see yet, in terms of who has what set up in their booths.
I've previously reviewed a pre-release version of the card here.
They are very slightly less fast than the Sonnet Tempo X 4+4, faster than the RocketRAID 1820a card.
The 1VE4 card can hotswap, even RAID sets.
A drive connected can boot a Mac.
Truly plug and play - no drivers involved whatsoever.
Has trouble with SSC (Spread Spectrum Clocking) that Hitachi has on some models of it's drives, the 7K250 and 7K400, so you need to be sure to get drives without that feature.
Read the review for the rest of the details.
Saturday, January 08, 2005
I plan on blogging from the show floor, and today I need to figure out Flickr so I can post pictures to the blog as well.
YOUR JOB: If you see a press release for something I haven't covered yet at the show, or in general it seems like I'm missing something, EMAIL ME at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can get on it.
Say I've regurgitated a press release but you find out their giving demos in the booth and it's something you want to know more about? EMAIL ME with the booth number, and if it's of interest I'll blog on it.
Got a specific question about support for a gadget that is of interest to other HD editors? EMAIL ME.
You get the idea.
I'm the point man.
The article also mentions that the board is expected to get to retailers sometime in mid January, so it's not available yet (it's still not listed on their online store).
Friday, January 07, 2005
Updated Friday noon: Here's a thought: MacWorld is reporting that Motorola backed out of a product demo on Thursday for fear of the phone's design being seen and copied:
That device was going to be shown off during a keynote talk Thursday at the International Consumer Electronics Show until executives realized that engineers worldwide might be watching the speech webcast and could, if they were inclined, see the design and share it around the Internet.
Perhaps this is why the Stevecast isn't going to be simulcast on the web?
Macintouch and others are reporting that Steve Jobs has killed the live webcast of his keynote at MacWorld San Francisco next week, otherwise known as the Stevenote. There will be no satellite broadcast, there will be no live broadcast in Apple stores. It will be available later in the day to be viewed online, just not live.
First off: What a drag!
Secondly: Why do this? Especially if they were shaping up to introduce some especially new slick products? Do Apple's media people feel this will give them better control over the news & spin? Are Apple's server geeks worried they couldn't handle the traffic? What gives?
I could read this as either meaning really big things are going to be announced, or that there isn't much big coming out. Nah, the latter can't be true, otherwise they would have held off yesterday's announcements until next week during the keynote.
It still can't export back out to the cameras in 1080i yet, but it can ingest from the following cameras:
- JVC JY-HD10U (720p30, HDV SD)
- JVC GR-HD1 (720p30, HDV SD)
- JVC GR-PD1 (HDV SD50p)
- JVC CU-VH1(720p30, HDV SD)
- SONY HDR-FX1(1080i60)
- SONY HDR-FX1(E) (1080i50)
- SONY HVR-Z1 (1080i50/60)
Mike's Comments: I still think this is the best HDV solution for the Mac, but I'm anxious for them to get camera export working ASAP. Maybe at MWSF next week.
It can resize video and change the field order as necessary for your target editing format.
This lets you use HDV footage with any program that supports QuickTime.
Mike's Comments: At $80, it's an inexpensive solution. It only does import, however, it doesn't help you get back out to HDV, for that you'd need LumiereHD. But, it's inexpensive and a quick way to start messing around with HDV. LumiereHD does have a more fully capable feature set, such as FCP HD integration besides the ability to go back out to HDV tape.
Thursday, January 06, 2005
ATI this morning announced a Mac version of their incredibly fast X800 graphics card, the RADEON X800 XT Mac Edition card. (Website and online store haven't been updated as of 9am CST).
-single slot solution (doesn't block Slot 2 in a G5, this is a big deal, since the prior top end Radeon card and the NVidia high end cards block slot 2, preventing a third PCI-X card from being installed). It's also only half length - it's a tiny card.
-will drive the Apple 30" LCD display (only one, not two like the NVidia card...but are you really going to have TWO 30" displays?)
-DVI and ADC outputs - can drive two monitors, whether they connect with DVI, ADC, or VGA (using adaptors).
-OUTSTANDING performance - in all of Rob-Art's tests but one, the X800 beat NVidia's top of the line card by anywhere from a little to a lot. The only test that the X800 lagged in was the test of Apple's Motion application to build a RAM preview. The NVidia card was able to drive the test file at 14.3 frames per second, the ATI X800 at 13.0. Not a huge difference.
-List price is $499, $100 less than NVidia's top end offering.
-also allows for use of the ATI Displays utility, which lets the user tweak the settings of the graphics card and override certain settings. Useful for games that don't support full scene anti-aliasing, for instance.
Rob-Art over at BareFeats has already tested the card, and early this morning posted his review. Read it for the detailed results.
Mike's Comments: This is GREAT news for folks wanting to edit high definition video AND still have a high performance graphics card. In the past, video editors didn't especially need or get a big performance boost from top end video cards. With the advent of Apple's Motion, and anticipated changes to the OS later this year with Tiger, a high end graphics card is now relevant to video editors and 2D motion graphics artists (as well as to 3D artists who always needed high performance OpenGL cards).
Based on the specs and the performance from Rob-Art's review, I don't see any downside to this card - it's very fast, it's less expensive than NVidia's offering, and it doesn't block the adjacent expansion slot the way the other high end cards on the market do.
I would expect Apple to offer these as a build-to-order option on their website in the near future, probably to be announced next week at the MacWorld Expo in San Francisco (I'll be there).
I think Apple could have a Mac and software capable of creating a Blu-Ray high definition video disc using the MPEG-4 AVC codec as early as this summer.
I'm starting to think that Apple will have a nice little trifecta coming along this summer:
1.) OS X 10.4, aka Tiger, is expected to ship in the May/June timeframe.
2.) Tiger will support at least two of the codecs to be used in the next generation DVD discs capable of playing back high definition video - MPEG-2 (already supported in standard definition video with Compressor) and MPEG-4 AVC support has been announced as part of Tiger. The VC-1 codec from Microsoft might be supported as well via third party software like Flip4Mac or Compression Master (but not Cleaner).
3.) the first Blu-Ray or HD-DVD computer drives with disc burning capabilities are expected this summer (see previous story about Toast support for HD-DVD and Blu-Ray).
So Apple will be well positioned to be immediately ready to start working with high definition DVDs - they'll have all the pieces in place:
-suport for consumer level high definition video with HDV, expected to be supported in iMovie 5 next week
-support for professional HD video already - native DVCPRO HD and uncompressed already supported, HDV in FCP 5
-Apple was first to market to support DVD burning capabilities with their SuperDrive Macs (I bought one) - will they do it again with high definition DVDs?
-which format will Apple pick? In the same way we had the whole DVD-R and DVD+R conundrum, it'll be even worse with HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray, since they are even more mutually incompatible. Blu-Ray holds more and is the more technically elegant solution, which Apple tends to favor, regardless of which product the market favors in the longer term. Hmm. Plus, Pioneer is a longterm supplier for Apple, and the SuperDrive was a Pioneer product. Perhaps this will be enough to tip the scales to Blu-Ray's favor, since Pioneer is a member of the Blu-Ray group.
-the version of QuickTime in Tiger will support encoding to MPEG-4 AVC, a key codec for Blu-Ray discs (and HD-DVDs as well)
-so all that's left is for Apple to update DVD Studio Pro 4 to include Blu-Ray high definition authoring. This may be a tough one, since the ink on the Blu-Ray specs is hardly dry at this point.
In short, I predict that Apple will be positioned to release a Mac with a BD-R (Blu-Ray Recordable), capable of ingesting and editing HD video and outputting a properly formatted Blu-Ray high definition video disc with DVD Studio Pro 4 as early as this summer.
What do you think? Use the comment link below, or email me at email@example.com.
Now, back to planet reality - nobody's going to have a Blu-Ray or HD-DVD playback deck for awhile. If they are available in bulk at any vaguely reasonable price point by Christmas 2005, I'll be pleasantly surprised. And why would they buy them? Because they'll need movies on Blu-Ray or HD-DVD to want to play them back. Will we have the same problems that early DVD players did, that many wouldn't play back the recorded DVDs on consumer playback decks? Possibly.
So while Apple will be in a position to release this kind of a product if they pushed for it, there won't be any kind of significant market demand for such a product for some time I'll bet.
But it's nice to know Apple will be ready and positioned for it.
Wait and see...
Mike's Comments: This is good news, so that we know Toast will be on the ball when the next generation DVD drives for computers ship this summer.
Mike's Comments: bigger is better when dealing with the massive amounts of data required for uncompressed HD work. This will allow for RAID 0 arrays as large as 4 terabytes with a single 8 port (or two 4 port) SATA cards, such as those from Sonnett or Firmtek. You could actually set up a RAID 0 of 8.5 terabytes using two 8 port cards, some clever cable routing, and a 17th drive in the second SATA bay in your G5.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
1.) X-Serve's were upgraded to 2.3 GHz, not 2.5 or beyond yesterday.
2.) Apple dropped the price of G5 desktop computers for non-US markets yesterday. Most likely due to currency valuation disparities.
If Apple WERE going to bring out new Macs, why would the drop prices on non-domestic a week before rolling out the new models? If Apple were going to have new models worldwide, why wouldn't they just announce new those new models next week and THEN adjust pricing? If they were going to introduce higher end models and leave the current model line alone, again it would make sense to wait for next week to do it.
The ONLY reason to do drop prices the week before would be to get prices in line.
If new models were coming, Apple wouldn't have done this.
Further support: if Apple were going to have 2.5 GHz (or faster) X-Serves available, they wouldn't have announced the 2.3's this week.
Ergo, no new or faster models to be announced next week.
As I've said before, Apple is clearing the slate for something big - otherwise this would all be Stevecast fodder.
The one thing I haven't seen announced yet is confirmation that Steve Jobs' annual MacWorld stage show will be streamcast on the Internet. Steve Jobs will be doing the keynote, right?
That isn't to say that there won't be some changes - I expect Apple to announce a build-to-order option for ATI's new X800 graphics card.
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Normally, these would all be things Steve Jobs would announce at MacWorld San Francisco to adulating Mac faithful, and the crowd would go nuts.
What I think is interesting is that they are getting all these announcements out of the way, so that the attention can stay focused on their bigger announcements.
What might these announcements be? A major third party is going to announce a product of interest to graphics artists/video editors tomorrow (especially for the kind of work I've been discussing on the blog, so stay tuned, I'll cover it here), so that's not part of it.
I'm expecting Apple to splash an upgraded iPod Mini, a flash memory based iPod, and the rumor boards have once again lit up with the possibility of a low cost headless Mac (I'm doubting this one a bit, but we'll see). But what else? We'll have to wait and see.
But I just think it's very interesting that they've spent this "ammo" before the show by announcing these products now.
I'm glad I'll be at the show and covering it.
The XServe G5 Dual 2.3 GHz is $3999, the cluster node and single processor models are both $2999.
As with the X-Serve RAID, you can now get 400 GB drive modules as well (up from 250 GB).
As a filmmaker, why care? Because if you have a larger than one editor setup, you might want an Xsan storage area network, and then you'll need an XServe to help run it.
Apple LCD Monitor Price Changes
Item Old Price New Price
20" $1299 $999
23" $1999 $1799
30" $3299 $2999
Price drops of $200 to $300, not bad.
What's more interesting is that they've done this a week before the show, instead of at the show. This to me means that they are trying to make room in the media/news pipeline for other products to get the attention. So this means that they have bigger news to follow. Since the rumor boards haven't said peep about new/improved displays, I'm betting that Apple will not have other display related news to share, so this price drop is it as far as Apple Displays are concerned.
But costing less is a Good Thing.
I expect some significant display technology related news tomorrow from a longtime Apple partner, by the way, so tune in tomorrow...
A storage area network allows you have multiple computers all access the same media on the same drives at the same time. "Couldn't I do that already with my existing computers over Ethernet?" ask the savvier folks. "Yes, I reply, but not at 200 MB/sec."
Xsan is one part of a system that allows video workgroups to work efficiently together. By storing all the video footage in one place, on high speed fault tolerant (one drive in array dies you DON'T lose all your data) stored centrally.
The software is $999 per node (per client machine), PLUS about $500 for a fiber channel interface card (fiber channel is yet another way to get computers to talk to each other or hard disks.) It's like the best of Ethernet (distant, multi-machine connections) and SCSI/ATA/SATA/FireWire (fast, connects to drives) in one.
The setup on Xsan is complicated, requiring an X-Serve for metadata control, X-Serve RAID, client machines with software and hardware, etc. See this handy chart on Apple's web page to get an idea of how the workflow could be.
This is really for multiple editor setups, or projects where effects artists need steady access to the footage as well as the editors. There are a zillion ways to configure a studio depending on your project's needs. Effects & editorial? Ingest assistant and primary editor? Dailies and editorial at the same time? An outside consultant (hint hint, email at top of page) can help you configure your studio for optimal workflow and maximum efficiency.
Here's a link to Apple's Press Release on the subject, which discusses it's role for FCP editing.
Here's other coverage from AppleInsider.
Here's MacWorld's coverage.
Monday, January 03, 2005
Ah, the beauty of passion for one's endeavors.
This is one step in a loooong list of improvements I'd like to make to the site, time and tech willing.
Do you have something you'd like to see done on the site, in terms of either topics not being covered, features of the website or RSS/Atom feed, etc? Please let me know.
Sunday, January 02, 2005
A great discussion between working professionals on How Things Get Done.
Membership is required (this particular post is on CML-HDTV or the HD camera list), and be respectful of the way things are done on the site. Read the FAQs before posting or Face The Wrath.
Saturday, January 01, 2005
I'm impressed you're reading this as hungover as you are, and especially with all that Marks A Lot writing on your shaved head (have you looked in the mirror yet this morning? Have you?)
Here's my list of things I'm looking forward to this year I'm pretty sure are going to happen:
-high resolution DVDs with consumer set top playback boxes. HD-DVD or Blu-Ray, I don't care, I'm just ready for them to happen.
-along those lines, if they both roll out in competing formats, it'll be a marketing disaster. Who wants to buy two different players to play back movies? It'll hurt the adoption of high res DVDs. Want to rent a movie and find out it doesn't work? Nope.
-Canon & JVC roll out new and/or improved HDV cameras, flesh out the product line (higher end cameras too!)
-Panasonic rolls out their low cost DVCPRO HD camcorder (should be under $5K) - boy, this would get HDV's attention.
-Final Cut Pro 5 with support for HDV, IMX, DVCPRO HD 1080i50, and other goodies
-next version of Shake that incorporates all the realtime GPU magic of Motion...be nice if the price dropped & the UI got friendlier...a LOT friendlier
Here's things I want to see that may not happen, but I fervently wish they would:
-HDV 1080p24 in a camera Final Cut Pro HD would support. Barring that, 720p24 HDV supported by FCP HD.
-HD-DVD and Blu-Ray kiss and make up, we get set top boxes that play both (soooo doubt this, but hey I can dream, can't it?)
-Final Cut Pro HD gains support for 12 bits/channel capture/edit/palyback, gains realtime effects for at least 10 bit footage (hopefully 4:4:4 as well as 4:2:2), Kona2 and BlackMagic leap on it and promptly support it with their hardware
-Final Cut Pro HD gets better support for plugins, and plugin writers make better plugins, so we get something better than 8 bit RGB processing for plugins. Oh, and logarithmic footage support would be great too.
-my new company sells tons of my low cost direct to disk uncompressed 10 bit 4:4:4 (or 4:2:2) Final Cut Pro HD compatible recording device.