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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.
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
For those looking to make the jump early to Intel based Macs, bookmark this link - it is the Rosetta (G3/G4/G5 emulation for Intel based Macs) compatibility test list - and it tells us whether the software runs, doesn't run, or sorta runs.
A VERY useful resource considering that it may take a year or more for some of our crucial production apps to get Intel native (like, say EVERYTHING Adobe makes).
Some useful tidbits right off the top (yes=runs under Rosetta, no means doesn't run at all):
Adobe Creative Suite - yes it runs, but with a speed hit
Apple's DVD Studio Pro, FCP, FCE, Motion, Soundtrack Pro - NO - won't run at all
Macromedia Dreamweaver/Fireworks/Flash 8 - YES
MS Office 2004: yes
Elgato's EyeTV - no
Monday, January 30, 2006
OK, this is MUST READING for anybody thinking about shooting a feature with a sub-$10K HD camera - as in the HVX200, the XL H1, the GY-HD100U, and/or the Z1U.
Long, long, long article, registration required. This link takes you to the features page, there is no direct link, but the article in question is titled "Four Affordable HD Camcorders Compared" and is presently the top link.
There is SO much good info in here, this is mandatory reading.
It talks about the true measured resolution off of all of these cameras, and all kinds of killer details about how they compare and how it all looked in usage.
The interesting bit of summary was how close they all came out in the end in terms of quality, and therefore workflow and shooting ease start to get much more important.
Go read it all, it'll take you a while.
I'm planning on incorporating much that they learned into my own testing to be done in a few weeks.
Steady readers will have seen me go on ad nauseum about Apple's possible consumer electronics forays that I expect this year (and to kick off on April 1st, Apple's 30th birthday). To sum up, I expect an Intel Viiv platform based Mac Mini that will have standard living room plugs - as in video and stereo hookups, in addition to the computer display and headphone jack hookups. I expect at some later point to see an Airport Express A/V type of gadget, a small wireless device with similar connections that can stream MPEG-2 and H.264 content wirelessly from a computer elsewhere in the residence to the living room/TV, the video equivalent of the audio iPod (minus the portability, of course). But it would solve the "How do I get it from computer to living room?" quandary.
Some quotes that either support those ideas, or at least trigger some interesting thoughts (these pulled from the above linked article):
Bob Iger was the first person Steve Jobs called when Apple decided it was going to market with a video-capable iPod. Jobs would not comment on any new products or potential partnerships with Disney, but said: "It's gonna be a pretty exciting next five years."
Mike's read: lining up comment for future products. As I felt the Intel deal was more about (or at least in part) about the consumer electronics play and a way for Apple to dramatically increase it's market share, I think the Disney move will have HUGE payoffs in terms of getting ALL of Disney's content on board with online digital distribution over Apple branded products. Disney has their own consumer electronics division run by an old co-worker of mine (Hey Chris!), and whether they'd want in on the action to is a very interesting question to see how it would play out.
Apple has spent years trying to build a better computer and get the world to buy into it, and while it has arguably built a better computer, the world doesn't care much (reflected in terms of market share) and has continued to buy Wintel systems. It is my guess that Apple realizes, after the success of the iPod, that the path to LARGE growth is to get into CE (consumer electronics) markets and work that angle rather than toil away on the computer side with a poor return on their investment of time and resources.
"I fully hope that the relationships between the companies will continue because its been so good," Iger said of Disney's recent collaboration with Apple and its iTunes distribution service.
Same song, second verse.
"I think Steve will be a big voice in many respects, and I think that's a good thing," Iger said of Jobs' new roll at Disney.
If true, that lends credence to Steve being able to pull Disney content to Apple consumer electronic devices.
Asked whether it can capitalize on emerging distribution opportunities -- such as Apple's iTunes and iPod -- Disney executives were hesitant to comment, saying the goal, above all else, is to make great animation films. "The rest takes care of itself," the company said. However, Disney conceded that it is open to whatever technology or means will get its products to people "on a well-timed, well-priced basis."
OK, now keep that in your head and read this:
"You may watch your favorite live action film three, four, or five times in your life," said Jobs. "But for a great animation film, your kids may watch it a dozen or a hundred times." He believes the opportunity to view these movies on other devices will eventually play an important roll and expects strong demand from family members to watch certain films from many places on many devices.
OK, BINGO. I can totally vouch for this - my neice and nephew have seen Toy Story dozens of times. My sister dropped big cash for an in car DVD player for the hours she spends with the kids in the car all of the time. If there were a little player for them? And the files it played worked in the living room too? BIG market. Kids movies are almost a different viewing/playback/monetary thing than grownups' (I'm avoiding the connotations of "adult" here) movies, and suddenly makes a lot of sense for an Apple CE device. Excuse me, SERIES of devices.
And on another note...
Pixney or Dixar?
It'll be interesting to see whether this effort turns into a Pixney (happy sounding name, happy results, good melding of cultures and talents, beautiful animation and storycrafting from Pixar, good marketing and distribution from Disney) or a Dixar (ugly name, mangled sequels, Toy Story characters in Disney, and bad merchandising, more lame "movies as Broadway musicals," spinning of Walt in grave).
I had fun thinking about the name stuff - Pixney I read somewhere else, but Dixar I came up with. If you were going to have good and bad characters in a movie, it's pretty obvious which is which.
Just a few minutes ago, Software Update popped up with DVD Studio Pro 4.0.3, with teh following description:
DVD Studio Pro 4.0.3 updates compliance for the 1.0 HD DVD Video standard content specification to Tiger and Panther based users. Users with DVD Studio Pro 4.0 or later need to install this update to ensure their projects are compliant with the 1.0 HD DVD Video standard content specification.
... so that answers that. Glad to hear the spec has been finalized, or at least that is a (somewhat) reasonable assumption to draw based on this announcement.
Woops, the above is a bit misleading - to be clear - it was known all along that the intent was to support HD-DVD, but this PROVES it with a SHIPPING version 1.0 spec suppported.
Tech note for those (poor souls!) who have to use iMovie 6 for their HDV projects
Nice NYTimes article. Talks about the culture inside Pixar. Things to be learned for anyone.
OK, for the TOTAL bottom enders, iMovieHD is a place to start...not a great place, but a place to start learning SOMETHING.
I'd much more recommend Final Cut Express, but hey, ya get whatcha can.
I especially liked all the new Themes, they are actually quite nice.
Why? Because he's doing the kind of hands on reporting that I wish I had more time to do these days, talking about the real world limitations of Final Cut Pro, Xsan, and the pros and cons of The Small Four (the 3 HDV and one DVCPRO HD sub-$10K cameras).
The Jan 25th entry has some kvetching about Xsan's lack of robustness, and then a very detailed and nice bit of opinion about the JVC vs Sony vs Panasonic cameras that are under $10,000.
Worth starting to track - I am.
He attended a panel on this stuff and has comments - the most salient of which (I thought) was this -
While the future looks bright for filmmakers making their first $10,000 movie, and trying to make some of that back –and also get noticed -- using something like Google, it isn’t so clear for filmmakers who’re used to working on multi-million dollar projects, and being guaranteed substantial salaries up front.
Marketing remains a huge challenge - how to cut through the noise? And don't tell me website and email campaigns, if it isn't from someone I know, I blow right past it.
I'm slow posting this one, but indies should be thinking about this type of thing, watching how it works, and thinking about whether this could be a viable choice for them.
Here's a slice of his coverage to give you an idea of what he's talking about:
The movie is being released simultaneously in several places: on DVD, on a premium cable channel, and in theaters. (The DVD release will be a bit delayed %u2013 until Tuesday.) That aggravates theater owners, who are accustomed to having exclusive rights to show a new film for several months. And they%u2019re right to be on edge: %u201CBubble%u201D could mark the start of a period of brutal, Darwinian winnowing for cinemas. But Soderbergh%u2019s latest production may also be the curtain-raiser for a new era in Hollywood: an era in which presenting consumers with a smorgasboard of viewing options, at different prices but on the same day, will reduce piracy while creating new efficiencies and growth opportunities for movie studios.
If simultaneous release proves viable, the operators of movie theaters will suddenly find themselves in a hyper-competitive marketplace. Some will fail. But others will reinvent the movie-going experience, perhaps by offering cushier seats, more satisfying food, less-sticky floors, alcoholic beverages, and waiter service.
An interesting read.
Headline says it all...website says backordered until Feb 15, 2006.
The title is a misnomer - 300 MB/sec is the BUS speed, not the drive's speed. Key features:
-NCQ (Native Command Queueing, but this causes trouble with some SATA cards, like the Firmtek ones)
-$350 or less street price - drives are getting CHEAP!
-I used to do a lot of drive testing myself, but there are plenty of viable solutions out there, and barefeats.com does a good job of it, so I've just been looking to Rob-ART over there to do that kind of thing (until I get biz more stable and have more spare time)
Read this if thinking about doing a low budget digital film with a production company like InDigEnt. Sounds very hard, very low pay, profit sharing for...little indie personal (vanity?) projects.
I agree with what one commenter on here said already - why get a production company, why not just do it all on your own? Startup capital is one reason. Long discussion that I won't go into right now, but every indie should be thinking about very carefully.
MTV will now offer among others:
-Beavis & Butthead
-Jackass - TV series not movie
Nickelodeon will offer Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob Squarepants, and Zoey 101
And the good stuff (in my book):
-South Park (!!! - which should hold up great under compresion)
-Comedy Central Stand Up - a bunch of stuff
-Drawn Together (my latest guilty pleasure)
All in all, not huge stuff, but rounding out the Apple offerings. Will help if/when Apple offers a consumer living room solution. And then hopefully offer higher res versions.
OK, I'm catching up (or trying to) on my backlog - Scott Kirsner's at Sundance and taking detailed notes on panels. So attention all producers and filmmakers out there - here are some suggestions from some Big Dogs of indie filmmaking on financing your film, why maintaining final cut (the edit, not the software) is so important, etc.
I consider this vital reading for the business side of filmmaking.
Some choice quotes:
one key to retaining creative control is figuring out "how...you hand over the project as late as possible to the financier." As soon as you take money, he said, you lose a little bit of the vision.
"The money has a personality," Christine Vachon said. "You have to try to fit the personality of the project to the money. Sometimes we do it successfully." Other times, not.
Ted Hope said, "I would try to avoid developing within the studio system as much as possible."
(talking about having creative control and final cut of a film):
Payne said, "I have it now, and say don't leave home without it." He got it with "About Schmidt," and that became a precedent. "I compare it to a loaded gun. The safety is off. It's in a locked box. But it's under my bed. Knowing that, I'm so much friendlier to comments [from studio execs and others involved with the film.]"
He continued: final cut is "a principle that's taken for granted in Europe -- like George Bush is an asshole -- that here is under discussion." Big laugh.
...and it's hard to top that, so go read the rest yourself.
On Jan 30, 2006, at 12:44 AM, Genevieve wrote:
Your site is great!
Intel Imac v G5 Imac? what are your thoughts. I need to do Final Cut
Editing and have heard so many conflicting views on each Imac.. What
do you think?
1.) G5's cancelled this week, they're EOL'd (End of Life) - see here.
2.) Intel iMacs won't run FCP worth a damn until end of March, when Apple tells us it'll ship the Universal Binary version of FCP 5.x.
So wait if you can, don't if you can't.
I expect the Intel version will run rings around the G5 version on iMacs, based on dual core vs. single core of otherwise roughly comparable processors, except for the Altivec accelerated stuff which is a Big Unknown, and might pull the results closer together. Or, if my suspicions about FCP 6 are right (and they are just guesses with no confirmation), then GPU will start to affect FCP performance more than a little, so I'd recommend getting the better video card Just In Case. Of course, my guesses about the next version of FCP 6 were based on Apple really hooking into Core Video for FCP, but the Intel switch might possibly have delayed that, I don't know. Some have suggested manpower would be divided to port to Intel, others have suggested additional staff was brought in to port and the original team would still be cranking away on FCP 6 features. Again, I don't know for sure either way. But the long term smart play would be to get the Intel iMac when you were ready (with the better video card), wait for Apple to ship the Intel version of FCP (sometime before end of March, but could be the 31st), and go with that....if you can afford to wait that long.
Of course, the BEST FCP box is still a tower G5, preferably a Quad if you've got the budget.
Friday, January 27, 2006
-smaller studios would allow streaming full length movies (NOT download to keep)
-therefore putting content on iPod or other PMP unlikely
-different models under discussion, but buy DVD online and watch streaming until it arrives is a likely possibility
-or streaming purchase price goes towards future DVD purchase price
-thus Amazon would largely be giving away the service, not as strong an incentive to make it good as if it were a freestanding service
-streaming never looks as good as progressive downloads, all other things being equal
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Reader report on success using a Raptor 150 GB drive in a dual 2.7 G5. This is probably the ultimate boot drive for a G5.
UPDATE WEDNESDAY 1/25/06 - 2nd report of WD Raptor 150GB drives - BAD BAD THINGS - data corruption and various awfulness - waiting for final verdict, but NOT buying one until it gets a clean bill of health
A very blunt, painfully true assessment of what it takes to make a DV based film. It ain't the making, it's the distributing that kills the economic viability of this approach.
Some painful but true quotes from the article:
Sixteen different filmmakers have directed InDigEnt's first 16 films, perhaps because making an ultra-low-budget film is so grueling.
'I will never make a movie again like this,' said Puccini director Maria Maggenti. 'That's nothing against InDigEnt. But I want a huge crew and big cameras and tons of money. I want to be able to pay for my locations. I want everyone to get a decent wage.'
Maggenti, a writer for TV series Without a Trace and director of 1995 Sundance hit The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love, said she worked on Puccini around the clock for more than four months, yet was paid just $1,500.
'The only reason I was able to do it was that I work in television making good money,' she said. 'But this is not viable as a living. (The InDigEnt model) is for rich people or for poor people who have nothing to lose.'
...and I'd have to agree with that. Read the article, it is sobering truth.
Now, the REALLY interesting spin is this: will non-DV digital productions done on the cheap-ish (and YES I'm talking about HDV especially, and HD in general) be able to do any differently than DV? Is it the digital-ness, the low production value, the lack of marketing muscle, the off-mainstream content, the low resolution of DV, something else, or some combo platter that is making these approaches fail?
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Netflix announced it will:
"carry the first movies available in HD DVD when the new high-definition
format launches in late March"
"Netflix said it will make the high-def DVD titles available at launch
as a way of supporting the next-generation DVD format and signaling its
belief that while initial adoption may be limited the market will
eventually migrate to high-definition. "
"we're committed to making the full range of titles available at Netflix
the moment they're introduced,"
From the sounds of the press release they will carry BOTH BluRay and HD
Thanks to Luis from Pitch Productions (he of the HVX200 test footage) for sending that in, the above synopsis is from him verbatim. Thanks Luis!
Scott talks to Jarod of SXSW about best time to go, best places to go, etc. if you're going.
OK, so it happened.
-$7.4B deal (Jobs bought it from Lucas for $10M and built it up from there)
-Pixar has creative control over Disney's animation efforts. WOW.
-Ed Catmull and John Lasseter will run house of mouse animation as well as Imagineering (theme parks etc.)
-Jobs is now one of the biggest shareholders of Disney
-Jobs gets a seat on the board
OK, those are the known facts. My GUESS, as I stated the other day, is that this will get Jobs what he was really after - a seat on the board of Disney, and the ability to leverage that position to push for what he wants in the consumer electronics market - such as downloadable movies for future Apple video consumer electronics, which I'm expecting to be announced April 1st (Intel based Viiv platform, etc.). Picture an iLife box that can play downloaded Hollywood movies. The opportunities then are huge - if Apple can get an HD movie service rolling, they could preempt the whole HD-DVD vs. Blu Ray thing. Whether people will be willing to buy movies that only play on their limited number of devices remains to be seen - remember DIVX, the DVD format? You'd buy the encoded DVDs for cheap, and pay to unlock them. As expected, the service cratered, and discs stopped working eventually. I routinely take DVDs over to my sister's house, or take them on family trips so her kids can watch Monsters Inc., the Incredibles, etc. wherever we go (we travel for Thanksgiving often). With Apple's plan, I'd need to bring MY player along as well. Lame. So there is a limited opportunity there. We'll see.
So how does this relate to using HD for independent filmmaking? I think that once Apple gets a foothold in that market, indies will (in a year or two) have access to that market as well. In the same way that the iTunes music store now lets indie labels get their content in there, I see no reason why indie movie projects won't be able to get into the game as well over time.
Can't get theatrical distribution? Can't get your DVD into Walmart or Blockbuster? Don't think of that as the end of the world. There's Amazon, there's Netflix, and in time ther will also be some kind of Apple Movie Store.
Or at least, that's what I think/hope/expect.
PS - my buddy Paul Alvarado has also posted his spin over at RoboGeek.com. He writes pithier summaries and has a link to his detailed April 1st prediction, which is in line with my own expectations.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
I'm a big movie geek - I see'em all when I can - artsy stuff, action stuff, the whole gamut from flicks to movies to films to art.
And I see trailers - boy do I, as I'm sure you all do too. I have several 1920x1200 screens and enjoy firing up the Apple QuickTime movie trailer pages and running it through the studio speakers (Alesis Monitor Ones, Long May They Reign).
I think we're getting burned out from overkill and oversaturation. In the last year or two, the studios have taken to running teasers and trailers six months in advance (or it is nine? Feels like eight or nine).
And maybe that's just too much.
Last year ticket sales were down seven percent I've heard said. Why? Is it alternative forms of entertainment like HDTV, the Internet, or video games? Or just that folks are choosing to see fewer movies? Or just that the movies kinda suxored last year, and the Aggregate We said "Feh - let's stay home."
Maybe, because the studios have been trying to amp us up on it for six months (think Kong trailers), they've overshot the mark. Since they've programmed us to wait for six months, maybe too many of us are subconciously thinking "I'll wait three more months and get the DVD." (The actual window is around four months these days.).
So how about it Hollywood - between the seemingly yearlong ad campaigns and the one third year wait for the DVD, have you trained us to be patient and just wait "just a little longer?"
I wonder if better results could be had with a shorter (think 1/2 the timeframe or less) and more dense (not quite twice as much ad placement) - if Hollywood could get more of us more excited in a shorter period of time, would there be a sense of urgency that has become lost now that the ad campaigns are DEFINITELY longer than the wait from theatrical to DVD release?
Certainly something to think about.
Also, other random tidbit that I've talked about privately but didnt' think to blog on until Frank Reynolds (NYC indie editor, he cut In The Bedroom among others) reminded me:
once hi-def DVDs are the norm, and seasons of TV shows will be released in the new format, there will be a strange split in the quality of the shows, such that the original STAR TREK series might actually look better in hi-def than NEXT GENERATION. The reason being that the original Trek was finished on film, and prints still exist from which hi-def transfers can be made (even though they'd be "side-letterboxed" at 1.33) where NEXT GENERATION, though shot on film, was finished on video (and the special effects for at least the early seasons were video-composited), so they won't look any better in hi-def.
We had the theory that TV shows from about the early-to-mid-70s up to the early 90s would be the ones that would not benefit from hi-def DVDs, since these would be the shows that either were shot on standard-def video, like sitcoms, or were shot on film but finished on video, so no prints exist. (Before the mid-70s or so, TV shows shots on film were done like mini-movies, with a final print. But somewhere along the line, it was more efficient to telecine the footage and edit and finish on video.) At about the early-to-mid 90s, the networks started to realize that hi-def was coming, so they prepared for it....I heard that even IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT in 1994 were finishing episodes in preparation for hi-def.
We even had the "crazy" theory that earlier seasons of MASH might look better in hi-def than later seasons because of this.
Yeah - he's totally right - older shows shot on film will if re-telecined to HD (and if it's the FINAL show and no effects required) will look BETTER than more recently shot stuff. How's that for unexpected? This assumes that original film can be tracked down, is in good shape, no new FX to be done, if not final show the source footage and a matchback EDL exists somewhere so that it wouldn't be monstrously expensive to eye match the whole thing back to a conform.
But it is an interesting point to make.
I'd like to consider Scott Kirsner my proxy at Sundance (he's not officially) - but he's covering a lot of the same stuff from the same angle I would, but perhaps smarterer.
He sat in on a panel that discussed indie distribution, online marketing, digital distribution, and other juicy tidbits you should all be interested in. Go read it.
This is a long, detailed, GREAT article about the shooting realities of working with HDV. To summarize misses the detail points - IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING SHOOTING YOUR INDIE PROJECT ON A SUB $10,000 HD CAMERA, YOU MUST READ THIS.
They go into the practical shooting details that I would miss (as a post oriented, not shooting oriented, kind of guy).
There - motivation enough?
UPDATE Tuesday afternoon:
Some choice pull quotes:
As expected, the JVC stock lens was loaded with chromatic aberration. This was a non-issue, as the lens was interchangeable and we were anticipating that for high-end drama work we would be using something akin to the Mini35 with cine lenses anyway. The fixed Z1 lens does not ‘breathe’ but it too exhibits some CA, but less so than the stock JVC.
The Z1 blows away any flipout LCD display, with its strong feel and extremely bright light output. Daytime exteriors are shootable without using an LCD hood. The JVC flip-out LCD is no different than any LCD screen I’ve seen on other cameras, so it’s not so bad, but normal. However, the JVC’s ‘focus assist’ is an excellent idea. Activate this and it switches the viewfinder to black and white and highlights in blue the areas of the frame that are in focus. I found this extremely useful when needing to focus quickly and accurately on set.
The two directors were impressed by the images. Brad in particular, fresh from his recent HD experience, was interested in the compactness and the quality. There appeared to be a soft filmic quality to the images,compared to either the F900 or the Genesis, but what was more interesting was that the much-coveted 35mm shallow DOF was obtainable with the Z1 using a static ground glass cine adaptor (the Guerrilla35) with Nikon SLR lenses. However, we found that a follow focus and camera assistant was mandatory with a 35mm cine lens attached.
This reinforced the need for us to get hold of the P+S Technik Mini35 for the JVC and the Canon for stage two of the tests. Although I can’t pre-empt later test results, we are becoming increasingly convinced that the Mini35 should no longer be considered an accessory, but something that could make using 1/3in HD/HDV for dramatic TV series a real possibility. Varous Sundance dramas already attest to this.
From my initial use of the cameras, neither yet exhibits a satisfactory depth of field control out of the box because of the small millimetre of the normal lens. The whole world is sharp. Right away, I have issues with this for drama. I have shot enough 16mm drama where you are continually pulling out walls to move yourself far enough away from the cast to be able to throw the background out of focus, so that the viewer is not distracted and we can tell them exactly where to look and where to focus their attention.
So we pulled in the Guerrilla 35. This was my first time with any of these devices and I was impressed. Using the prototype with a small set of Nikons I had a great deal of fun lensing our cast with this more acceptable depth of field. But focusing a real actor moving quickly is a big challenge on these smaller cameras.
Sony’s Z1 is an excellent camera as a replacement for the PD150, plus it does HDV. But focus is a bust because it will not return accurately to a mark on the barrel or with a focus unit. I resorted to what I had done on my daughter’s movie with the PD150 – I used the built-in automatic button to punch it up whenever I felt it needed it. I would also use a large monitor, perhaps to operate with on a tripod – or at the least to have someone watching focus like a hawk.
...and so forth.
Great, GREAT hands on detailed stuff that I wouldn't figure out as a non-shooter.
It has four external ports, BUT is a PCI card, not a PCI-X card, thus the top sustained throughput is about 90-100ish MB/sec, not 250ish as is possible with a PCI-X card. So this would be suitable for any standard definition work, compressed HD work, and uncompressed 720p24 work (no 720p60, no 1080p24).
But it is $60. It is based on a Silicon Image chipset (same as some of the other cards on the market). They also have a PC Card version as well for the same price.
Monday, January 23, 2006
A very thorough review of Wiebetech's 5 bay port multiplied SATA enclosure. We'll be seeing more of these in the future. But this one's pretty expensive - over $1000. But this type of storage is what I expect to see more of this year - 5 SATA drives, one cable to host machine. Very interesting to see the throughput tests they did - including empty and nearly full results. Based on their results, ASSUMING these data rates could be maintained without dropping frames, it looks like this kind of a setup could be used for uncompressed HD work if partitioned off at the end (gets a little too slow).
(found via FresHDV.com)
These guys had a booth at NAB last year and I covered what they were up to - namely taking two of the Andromeda modified DVX100A's and running them synchronized up to get stereoscopic imagery. So if you need to make a low budget 3D live action movie, here ya go - this is the answer in this budget range. I'll have more to say about Andromeda soon as well.
I am an indie filmmaker based in North Carolina and I have a few questions of advice for you before I build my new HD post production suite. I am very new to HD so please excuse my lack of knowledge. Any links you can provide me with for advice is much appreciated!
I will be purchasing the HVX (and five 4GB P2 cards) within the next month and I want to build the best possible editing suite I can for under $10,000
Here's what I'm thinking:
-Apple Quad (should I wait for the intels?) I will not need to start post on my next project until April.
Are you buying this box to do post JUST for this project, or to learn on it and do other work between now and then? If just for this project, quite possibly wait for Intel Mac towers later this year. If need a box now, Quad G5 is plenty powerful.
If you're not planning on posting until next April, and don't need to learn on it or do work on it before then (but you well might), then I'd say don't even bother worrying about this stuff until next January or so - THEN evaluate the gear on the market at that time and see how it fits your needs. It is good to plan ahead, but you're planning way too far ahead. This market moves too fast to peg your needs this far in advance. The one good thing you can do is assure yourself that $10K is sufficient for your editorial needs NOW, and if it is enough now, it definitely will be later.
-Apple Cinema HD Display (23 inch)
sure, or Dell to save some money, are $879 if get the deal (see barefeats.com for details from last week). You also haven't mentioned broadcast CRT for viewing the video, that can be necessary as well depending on how much work you intend to do inhouse (or how far down the post process you intend to take it).
-Black Magic Multibridge Extreme Card
it's not a card so much as a box, and is overkill for the HVX. DeckLink HD Pro Single Link PCIe when ships better fit, or AJA's Kona LHe is shipping now and a good fit for your needs. Don't forget storage! You haven't mentioned storage, how much you'll need, and how fast it'll need to be depending on whether you plan on finishing uncompressed or not.
-Final Cut Studio (should I wait for FCP 6 in April?)
depends on how soon you need the gear. Again, if need now, buy now, if can wait, wait. Also, it is likely to be ANNOUNCED April, may not ship to May/June/July/who knows for sure.
I am also concerned with burning HD-DVDs. Can you provide me with any helpful links about this? Will DVD Studio Pro allow me to burn HD DVDs that work on SD-DVD players?
the stated plan is for DVD Studio Pro to be able to burn high def DVDs, I imagine both will be supported, but Apple's only public statement I'm aware of leans towards Blu Ray for built in. I haven't seen any recent comments about when they'd be included in Apple gear. Readers - anybody else heard anything?
NO, NONE, WHATSOEVER high def disks made by anybody will play on standard SD-DVD players - think about it - DVDs were invented nearly ten years ago, why should they be able to play this brand new format?
Do the new intel Macs allow you to burn Blueray discs?
not built in - still regular DVDs
Are Blueray discs compatible with SD DVD players or just HD DVD players?
Good details on many fronts. (Yes, I'm still the lazy blogger). I'm going to be working on my detailed MWSF coverage soon.
Friday, January 20, 2006
On a front page article in the Wall Street Journal, it is revealed that Disney is in serious talks to acquire Pixar. The article talked about the likelihood of a $6.7B acquisition cost which would leave Steve Jobs as the single largest shareholder of Disney stock, and a likely seat on the board of directors.
There have been rumors to this effect in the past, and I thought the most interesting part of this was because Mouse House wanted to acquire a SUCCESSFUL animation group since they couldn't seem to do it themselves. There was much wrangling over whether Pixar could effectively launch their own animated films with another distribution company, especially since Disney has sequel rights to Monsters Inc, Toy Story, etc. that could open same weekend as whatever Pixar came out with next, and steal their thunder. Or at least threaten to.
Now, I see things differently.
My personal pet spin, or at least the slice of the deal that I find most interesting right now:
Steve Jobs is sacrificing ownership of Pixar in order to gain a seat on the board of Disney, and thus be a big part of the Big Seven movie studios, and be able to push the deals in online downloadable movies in much the same way he's been able to push downloadable audio. By being an integral part of Disney, he'll have the clout to push content for the hardware I'm now expecting April 1st (thanks Paul of Robogeek.com for sending me down that path). It'll be Intel Viiv platform, plug into your TV or better yet HDTV, be Mac Mini cheap (OK, a bit more), and tie into an online downloadable movie service. Not just last night's episode of Lost, or the Rose Bowl (Go Horns!), or music videos you have to pay for, but actual Hollywood movie content.
Starting with Disney.
Most likely some Pixar movies, I'd imagine.
(Oh, plus he'll get a few billion dollars of his own. I'd hate to pay his taxes this year.)
Who wants to bet me that it won't be possible by May/June to download Monsters Inc. and The Incredibles onto a new Intel based Mac?
While it would inevitably tick off consumers by having an HDMI connector with HDCP, and no HD analog connectors, that is what the Hollywood folks would insist on - they felt FAR too burned by DVDs being cracked and ripped so easily and have vowed to never get hit that way again.
Oh, and if Apple REALLY wanted to blow the socks off the market, they'd introduce an HD model, and a certain percentage of consumers interested in HD would skip the pending replay of the Betamax/VHS War 2.0 also known as HD-DVD vs Blu Ray and just get downloadable HD movies instead.
Present prices for HD-DVD and Blu Ray players at CES that I saw were no less than $500 for an HD-DVD player and as high as $1800 for a top of the line Blu Ray player. If Apple had an $800-$1000 box that would play high def content on your HDTV, surf the web, rip & organize & buy and play digital audio, show your digital pictures, etc.....would YOU want one?
Think about it - it'd come with iLife 06, so you could rip CDs to it, sync your iPod on it, capture & edit DV & HDV on it, burn DVDs (and eventually your own Blu Ray discs on it, as Apple voiced an opinion in the format war last year), organize & show your Photos, make web pages, etc. etc. etc. etc. Starts sounding like a pretty good deal. If you had an HDTV to watch and control all this stuff on, and a wireless keyboard and mouse, it'd be pretty darned cool.
There are implementation details to work out - UI that reads well across the room (rumors of resolution independent UI has surfaced for future OS X), Front Row needs serious speed enhancements to get smooth, a TiVO like functionality with TV Tuner would certainly add to the value of the mix (there's an HDTV recorder thingy that connects to USB 2.0 for Macs NOW, however, saw it in El Gato booth at MWSF), hardware connectivity issues to be addressed, and most importantly licensing deals to be cut with the movie studios to make them comfortable to get into this game. Then issues of backing up all this data, how to make it more portable (a TRUE video iPod, with high quality HDTV connectors would be great).
I would happily buy one.
Hmm. I'm thinking about selling some Dell and buying MORE Apple now. I'll see if it still makes sense in the morning (it's nearly 1 am in Austin).
UPDATE NEXT MORNING In the light of day, this theory still sounds good. It would also explain perhaps why the keynote was so lackluster in the beginning and so much time was spent on iLife - perhaps the hope was that this deal would have been cut and Jobs could announce the partnership, or the movie service, or SOMETHING more than what he did.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
FresHDV | Fresh news & views for videographers, editors, filmmakers, directors & producers. has a nice synopsis of the new Adobe Production Studio - After Effects 7, Premiere Pro 2, Encore 2, etc.
I'm still swamped at work, so Matthew has a nice writeup that's as good as what I'd do, go read that instead.
And read that forum link at the bottom, the second poster.
Again, this must be Lazy Blogging Week - just go read Rob-Art's excellent review of the Highpoint RocketRAID 2320 PCIe card (YES it works in Quad G5s) with special attention to the needs of uncompressed HD video editors and RAID 5 capabilities.
In short, COULD be used for HD work in theory if carefully partitioned, but the tail end perforformance is too low (180 MB/sec). Also, since it is CPU based to do the heavy math for for the parity data that makes RAID 5 work and be fault tolerant (protects your data in case of a drive's failure in the RAID), it would be sucking resources from the host CPU that you'd want available for RT video effects.
In short, I don't think this approach is going to be a good one for RAID 5.
Wiley Wiggins sent me a link about Handbrake working on the Intel Macs, so you can encode H.264 in REAL TIME. Not sure about frame size, but that's mighty impressive right out of the gate.
Adobe announced After Effects 7 yesterday. Some key new features for Folks Like Us:
-redone UI easier to navigate and control
-Graph Editor - easier control of keyframes
-HDR color support - this is a biggie for the FX crowd - you have High Dynamic Range imaging support, and can do 32 bit float compositing in the Pro version, and will composite stuff in a more realistic fashion (mimics real light behavior better)
-Timewarp - uses motion vectors for better time stretching - be very interesting to see how good and how fast it is at 60i to 24p conversion
-more file formats supported (HDV, camera RAW, OpenEXR, AAF, 10bit YUV, 32bit TIFF & PSD formats
-OpenGL acceleration - hopefully usefully now, first time didn't make much difference
-Flash video export (now that Adobe owns Macromedia)
-tight integration with Premiere Pro 2, which I'll write about soon
Here's where I found that info on Pro Apps:
-Final Cut Studio only option, can't buy individual apps anymore
-Universal Binary (runs on Intel Macs) due by March 31st
Monday, January 16, 2006
Some thoughts on why Apple isn't talking about battery life.
Tom's Hardware just reviewed a 2.0ghz Core Duo PC laptop with X1600 graphics. Batery life was very dissapointing:
They did more tests and decided the problem was not with the CPU, but actually with either the X1600 itself, or Intel's Sonoma chipset not shutting down unneeded PCI Express lanes, etc:
So, maybe Apple, Intel and ATI were working up till the last minute to fix the bug.
By the way, I predict After Effects 7 will be released tomorrow. The LA motion graphics organization is having a meeting and the Adobe After Effects product head will be there:
Also, have you seen the Toshiba M400? Dual core tablet PC, mmm... The last one had a GeForce so maybe the new one will have good gfx too (without the power problems of the X1600, I hope):
About XP and Vista on Intel Macs, I agree that Vista is almost definite. XP might also be possible, because it's possible that the EFI BIOS replacement thing that Apple is using can emulate an older BIOS:
"Intel Australia, while being careful not to comment on Apple's hardware specifically, says motherboards based on the Intel 945 chipset already support EFI and can boot Windows with no problems."
Hope you're doing well. Happy new year.
I followed up with an email saying that was so good I'd like to post it, so he consented and added this bit more:
No problem Mike, it would be an honor
I scoured the net today for some other reviews of Core Duo laptops with X1600s to see if they were are also having battery problems.
An Acer (2.0ghz duo, X1600 w 256mb RAM) is not
This Eversham one is, though (1.83ghz duo, also X1600)
Again, I'd guess that Apple is having similar problems. The Acer shows that you _can_ get good battery life out of a Duo and X1600 though, so there is hope.
The Acer's specs are pretty cool, actually. Similar to Apple's specs, except it has ExpressCard and PC card slots, memory stick readers, 1680x1050 screen, S-Video, better DVD drive, 2.0ghz instead of 1.83ghz, 120gb hard drive instead of 100gb. It does weigh more and it is thicker though.
Heck with it, let's just wait for the faster, 64bit Merom in September. I'll bet Apple will make a great 17" using that.
(side note - MacBook Pros (or MacBooks Pro?) do have Express card slots, but lack PC card slots - the above left some ambiguity)
I'm still curious whether the lack of Firewire 800 and PC card slots is a temporary thing with this model or a permanent shift in the winds. If so, bad news for video editors for now - FireWire800 has been the fastest laptop external drive bus widely available, and with no PC Card slot, no direct reading of P2 cards from HVX200.
And no, I'm not dead, just super busy on color correction projects at my new digital color correction business. I still will post all the detailed MWSF coverage (LOTS of products I haven't even mentioned yet of interest for HD & editors. When work slows down enough for me to do a website for it, then I will.)
Thanks to Torrey Loomis of Silverado Systems for pointing out I hadn't linked to this yet.
Friday, January 13, 2006
Ran into my friend Paul Alvarado of Robogeek.com at the 20th Anniversary party for the Austin Film Society. We talked shop about the new Intel based Macs, and I expressed my dissapointment that they didn't have the Viiv platform Minis that plug into the living room TV that I'd been hoping for, with downloadable movies, yadda yadda yadda (that I've been writing about since last August).
He pointed out that the keynote was kind of flat, that a lot of time was spent on minor details of iLife that weren't really keynote worthy, and that perhaps something big had to be ditched at the last minute.
He also pointed out that Steve Jobs made of point of telling the audience that April 1st, 2006, was the 30th anniversary of Apple computer, and that he wouldn't be seeing many of us before NAB otherwise, so just wanted to point that out.
So Paul is predicting, and I'm agreeing with him, that April 1st could be a great day to launch some dramatically new products, such as downloadable movies (maybe in hi def? Or is that later?), Intel Viiv based Macs that are intended to live in the living room connected to the TV, with an improved Front Row system to control it all.
So there. Think on that a bit.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Everything the Kona2 could do? This does that. And a few more goodies:
-RGB 4:4:4:4 - so now you can do an alpha channel on your RGB film style projects. Excellent news for compositors and production folk who need to render with alpha
-downstream live HD keying - so you can pass a 10 bit HD signal through the system and add a keyed graphic, such as a logo bug, lower third, whatever
-oh, and it'll work in those killer Quad G5s boxes
-$2900, so $500 more than a Kona2 board
-the connectors are a little different - there are tiny little
-a different breakout box - the K3-Box. It is not compatible with the K-Box, so old board/old box, new board/new box ONLY, NO mixing and matching. Same inputs/output layout as K-Box, but with different connections to the card
-there are new features lying dormant on the card - the hardware is done, but the software isn't, and they aren't saying what it will do, just "more stuff"
-Ted Schilowitz, smiling his best I-know-something-you-don't smile, said that he felt clients would be pleased with having spent the extra money when the software comes out to enable those features
Mike's Comments: Hmmm...I've talked to Ted off the record about desirable future features in the past, so I feel a little too close to the inside to speculate - it wouldn't be fair to Ted. But you folks go right ahead and speculate alllll you want. I'm betting it'll be pretty cool though, if I'm right, and WILL be worth the extra $500.
Note that the product is called Kona3, not Kona2e. They feel there are enough changes to warrant a brand new name/revision. That says substantively new/different/better features to me.
Take a look at the feature set of this board. Take a look at their competitors products and what they offer. Take a look at the inputs and outputs on their board and think about what could be run through those.
Bummer. Read on for details as to why, but looks like Vista might not work, either.
Barry Green has posted over on DVXuser.com their initial observations of the four way camera shootout (extremely similar to what I'm doing in a month).
Here's a teaser:
I'm sure everyone wants the meat first, so here it is: the XLH1 and HVX tied for noise performance, the HVX is more sensitive than all of them, the XLH1 has the best horizontal resolution, 24F mode ain't progressive scan, the Sony is the cleanest noise performance but the loser in all other test-chart categories, and the JVC surprised us all by being a very strong performer.
Okay, now that we got that out of the way (and you're all scrounging around to find your jaws, since your jaws all dropped when I said the XLH1 was just as noisy as the HVX), I'll expound a little.
So read the whole thing, I'm sure you'll be into it all.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
So YES this has holes and errors and omissions and notes, but start with this:
Christopher Breen takes a look at the new 20" iMac for use as a home multimedia entertainment device. He plays back music and DVDs with it. Problems arose: built in speakers not oomphy enough for watching movies "full on," Front Row is slooooooow to respond at times; and you can either adjust volume with the remote or have 5.1 surround sound but not both at the same time. Harrumph. If Apple wants to have a viable home theater experience, it needs to walk AND chew gum at the SAME time. For first time apartment dwellers and dorm students however, it's not a bad solution.
As for the choice of iMac and PowerBook to get Intel upgrades, after a day it makes a bit more sense - while I desperately wanted to see Viiv platform living room Minis, Apple needs to smoothly transition to intel before dropping anything crazy new on the market to avoid consumer confusion. Powerbooks were dying for an upgrade, and as I WROTE HERE FIND LINK, I think that MOST PowerBook users aren't actually doing anything "heavy" all that often. Most are doing what I'm doing rught now - surfing the web, writing email, a little MS Office work, playing back some media, etc. Occassionally, I do some heavy lifting with my laptop, but not all that often. With Pro Apps a couple of months away, that's a survivable thing. Then I'll just be impatiently awaiting the Adobe products to port over. Then again, how often am I going to be using those on my laptop? Apple did right on this one - for consumers, they have a perfectly acceptable machine to do a lot of consumer stuff right now. PLUS, having an installed base of machines that are quietly ready to handle heavy duty media isn't a bad thing at all either. Interesting to note a couple of small changes between iMacs G5 and Intel: better graphics cards that are upgradable to 256 MB (only on 20" model), and support for an external monitor that is NOT just mirrored, but fully independent (from what I've heard, I need to confirm).
new iMac specs (cribbed from Macworld UK:
A 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo processor;
512MB of 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM;
An 8x SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW);
PCI Express-based ATI Radeon X1600 with 128MB GDDR3 memory;
160GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 7200 rpm;
Built-in stereo speakers and microphone; and
The infrared Apple Remote, Mighty Mouse and Apple Keyboard.
2.0 GHz Intel Core Duo processor;
512MB of 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM;
An 8x SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW);
PCI Express-based ATI Radeon X1600 with 128MB GDDR3 memory;
250GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 7,200 rpm;
Built-in stereo speakers and microphone; and
The infrared Apple Remote, Mighty Mouse and Apple Keyboard.
Build-to-order options and accessories include up to 2GB DDR2 SDRAM, 250GB and 500GB Serial ATA hard drives or up to 256MB of GDDR3 video memory on the 20-inch iMac.
The graphics cards in the new MacBook Pro supports hardware decoding of . Proof is here, search the page for "H.264" to find the line. The question is whether Apple will be able to support it, or if the hardware is set up to only work with Windows to hook into it. I know, I know, it's hardware and should be agnostic, but you'd be amazed at how complicated it gets. (Thanks to Charlie Wood for pointing that out.)
I saw that ATI was demoing a bunch of stuff and scanned to see if Silicon Color was going to be demoing there. While scanning for them, I noticed that Aspyr would be demoing the game Stubbs the Zombie on Mac. It's a fun game of zombies attacking a 50's sci-fi town - except that YOU are the zombie. Based on the Halo engine, it's a cute game, ribald sense of humor, I can't wait to fire it up on the Quad G5 with 7800 GT card now that 10.4.4 has been released with its VERY improved OpenGL drivers. As a bonus, one of my best friends and former business partners Patrick Curry was CTO on that project, so go out and buy it and see some of his handiwork, you'll enjoy it.
La Cie introduced a bunch of new stuff, but for us the only item of serious interest was the Two Big, a two SATA II hard disk RAID in 500 ($500) and 1TB ($1000) configs. RAID 0 speed of up to 115 MB/sec. Hot swap, simple plug 'n play. Not sure yet whether it is port multiplied (single SATA cable to host) or basic SATA one-drive-one-cable setup. It looks like it is probably up to La Cie's usually high quality standards, but it does seem a bit pricey for the indie crowd.
Final Cut Pro changes
Final Cut Studio FAQ. Apple has quietly changed the bundling on Final Cut Studio - Final Cut Pro 5, DVD Studio Pro, Soundtrack Pro, and Motion are no longer for sale individually. If you need one of those by itself, you better get out there and purchase it quickly from a retail location, because whatever is in stock is all that is going to be available. From now on, you have to buy Final Cut Studio and get the whole ball of wax.
Apple has also announced a migration plan for folks who want the universal binary version (runs Power PC as wewll as Intel based OS X) of Final Cut Pro 5.x - you'll be able to trade in your current installer disks and pay $49 "sometime before the end of March" (from the FAQ link above). This is entirely reasonable - the new discs will install on either G4/G5/MacBook Pro/iMac Dual Core no problems. If you have older versions of Final Cut, DVD Studio Pro, etc., you'll be able to upgrade on a sliding scale, depending on what you've got and how old it is. See the FAQ link above for details, but you'd pay anywhere from $99 to $699 to upgrade.
Volume licensing is available for biz and edu clients for 5 or more seats at a time.
As with before, you can't run a copy of Compressor on one machine that has the same license as Final Cut Pro on another machine - got bit by that one the other day myself when doing a test install in the studio.
I'm also hearing that while you can technically launch FCP 5.0.4 on the Intel dev boxes (but not well), I'm not sure if it runs at all on the new iMacs and MacBook Pros. One person said on Intel dev boxes it was dropping frames all over the place (format unknown), someone else said DV worked marginally but nothing else, and Brian Meanie, product manager (I think that's his title, he's basically The Guy for FCP) basically said don't bother, it doesn't work worth a flip on Intel Macs and it DEFINITELY is not a supported configuration. So wait until March like the rest of us.
The timing is interesting - if they have an upgrade in March, that leaves them cledan room to say "OK, all you FCS v5 folks - you're taken care of." so that if (I'm guessing here, but this is what they've done several years in a row) they announce a new version of FCP 6 at NAB, and ship it either then or sometime between April and June, they will clear themselves of the "I just paid for a big upgrade and now you're making me pay again!" whiners. Come to think of it, this makes me think that this is PROOF that they are going to be coming out with a new version at NAB - if they were going to skip from v5 for PowerPC and have v6 that was universal binaries (runs on both), then they would just wait for NAB a month later to roll it out.
(Thanks to someone from TidBits for sending that link in!)
Steve Jobs MWSF Keynote available as streaming QT here. Or you can read my detailed NOTES COVERAGE HERE
Apple releases QuickTime 7.0.4, OS X 10.4.4, iTunes 6.0.2. All available via Software Update. QT 7.0.4 is I believe required for iLife 06, OS X 10.4.4 has a lot of bug fixes including purportedly dramatically better OpenGL performance, and I'm not sure what's changed in iTunes 6.0.2.
Apple also released iLife 06, which adds faster performance, better integration between the apps and the web, and a new iWeb application to build web pages with, that looks incredibly easy to use. GarageBand now has truly excellent podcasting tools, and everything is set up to do podcasting and video podcasting and have it be a snap to use. All very excellent. For detailed notes on all the new features of iLife 06, do a search for "iLife" on my keynote coverage HERE FIND THE LINK
NEW MACS FOR USE FOR PRO APPS ONCE THERE ARE UNIVERSAL BINARIES:
I'll have a bunch more to say later in depth, but in short, they should be pretty damn rockin' once Pro Apps get out there. Guessing gets hard - the current PowerPC FCP stuff is heavily optimized for that particular chipset. Apple has long touted the G4 and G5's Altivec capabilities as being key to the performance of Final Cut Pro. Now, with the Intel platform, they don't have those SAME (and I stress same) resources available, there are different resources for vector processing - MMX SE etc. I asked Brian Meanie, FCP product manager, if the Intel stuff was harder to program these types of tasks for than PowerPC. Silly me for asking, he gave an excellently political answer that told me...absolutely nothing. "I'm still smiling." was the closest thing I got to a direct answer. Sigh. Oh well, it is his job to maintain positive spin and not divulge ahead of schedule. So I will have to seek firm answers elsewhere. It is tiresome that those most able to answer crucial questions sometimes are in a position where they can't give those answers.
DISREGARDING the Altivec issue for now since I have no firm answers, just going on floating point performance, integer performance, bus speeds, etc., I'm hypothesizing that the new iMacs should run an Intel optimized FCP 5.x at about the same speed as a dual 1.8 GHz G5 with stock graphics card, and the MacBook Pro (still hate that name) will run slower than that. Maybe it'll be better, could be worse, but I feel that is a vaguely safe assumption in terms of taking an early ballpark stab at it.
The lack of FireWire 800 is expected on an iMac (never had it), but is vexing on the MacBook Pro. It is a professional's tool, and FireWire 400 long ago stopped being as fast as modern hard drives.
Hopefully, we'll see some high speed stuff available for that ExpressCard slot in the future. A commenter posted that the specs for that bus (must have pulled it from Intel data, and I HAVE NOT confirmed this info) is good for 250 MB/sec (yes, megaBYTES), which opens the door to all kinds of intersting things, like the POSSIBILITY of having SDI and HD-SDI capabilities on a laptop. With a fast enough external bus (and it seems fast enough), and a fast enough processor (yep), the ability to do uncompressed SDI in and out of a laptop is compelling. 250 MB/sec is plenty to share between a capture card and a storage device. But oops, there's only one slot, so presumably only one card. Hmm. Well, you could have your storage on FireWire then (see? We're missing that FW800 badly!) and have an SDI card for capture/playback. A card with HD-SDI occupying that slot would only be good for capturing and playing back compressed media - no way to get high speed data in and out of the laptop. Of course, all of these cards would have to be MUCH smaller than the current lineup of cards, so this could all be moot anyway, unless the card was merely used as a plug for a larger outboard device (hmm...look at the BlackMagic Multibridge Extreme - a bunch of guts in a box with a slim connector to computer - something along those lines?). The possibility of high speed data port and HD-SDI on the same card is remote - too much stuff happening in too small a space, and no one company has the expertise all inhouse. And parterships are endemically slow. Maybe future MacBook Pros will have FireWire 800 again.
The MacBook Pro has a 1440x900 resolution screen, which is actually LESS than the model released just a few months ago, with a XXXXxXXX RESOLUTION SCREEN. However, it is still sufficiently high resolution to show a 720p image pixel for pixel (1:1 full resolution), so that's good.
HD CAMERA SHOOTOUT GOING ON TODAY, WEDNESDAY JAN 11, 2006
There's a thread over on DVInfo.net about a camera test taking place today - they're pitting the following cameras head to head:
-Canon XL H1
and from the Big Boys League,
There are detailed specs of what they hope to accomplish within a one day shoot, and I must say it is a VERY aggressive schedule. I'm sitting on a plane on the way back to Austin right now (Wednesday 2:20pm California time), so they are probably well into their shoot, I hope it's going well.
I got an email Monday inviting me to attend, but unfortunately I wasn't able to - I've got to fly back to Austin and prep a job tonight for a client coloring session tomorrow.
I'm bummed not only because I can't attend, but because they are beating me to the punch - I've been trying to set up a similar camera test to take place in February using the exact same lineup of cameras, but with a little extra HD For Indies Luv that I'll detail later.
I should make a chart showing the features and pros and cons of all these cameras...that'd be handy...
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
well, it was a looooong day over at Moscone Center in San Francisco today. It is 9pm, I just got back to the hotel and caught up on 90 new emails since this morning. I have TONS of notes, pictures, audio recordings (great note taking methodology), and thoughts in my head about all that has happened today. Whooof! Too much.
I'm beat, I've had minimal sleep for three nights in a row now, I've been madly on the go since 6am, and tomorrow on the plane I'll be doing a full write-up of all that has transpired. But for tonight, just a few thoughts, based on thoughts during the day and notes from commenters (thank you all!) to the keynote notes I posted. So here's a bunch of random thoughts:
-no FireWire 800 in the MacBook Pro (and boy, that is NOT as graceful and elegant a name as PowerBook), nor in the iMac. Why not? For one, there never was FireWire 800 on iMacs, that's pro feature, so that's OK. But what about the 15.4" MacBook Pro? (God, it's going to take a while to get used to saying/typing that.) Some I spoke to today guessed it was because Apple is moving away from it, but I'm more inclined to think it had more to do with Intel motherboard designs that Apple may have been working with to make this motherboard, and getting this product to market. This new ExpressCard slot (and I'd never heard of that until today) is, according to some reader comments, good for 250 MB/sec - plenty fast enough for SATA and FW800 and whatever you want. I'd expect to see
-Final Cut Pro is no longer available as a standalone thing - just Final Cut Studio. I don't feel too bad about that, because clients used to get just FCP and then realize they needed the rest. But what if I want X # of seats of DVD Studio Pro or compressor? Can't be done any more (OK, you couldn't license Compressor individually, but you get the idea).
-Final Cut Studio cross grades are $50 in March. Good deal, that's reasonable for the Intel and PPC version. You just have to trade in your Final Cut Studio installer disks from the older version. Fair enough. That to me says that that will be for Final Cut Studio with Final Cut Pro 5.0.4 or later. Note that NAB will be the next month - if you've just paid to get the Intel compatible version (a universal binary actually for PPC as well), you'll be primed to pay again for another upgrade if they should introduce it at NAB. But will they? I talked to Brian Meanie, product manager (I think that's his title, he's The Guy for FCP) and he said they are happy with the performance of Intel so far. Actually, he didn't - he gave perfectly political answers, and did a perfect job as project manager - durn him! I was asking about a substitute for Altivec and....ah hell and drat it, I'll have to refer to my notes since he phrased it so carefully and well. He's really good at the political side of his job, and it can't be easy. I'll write about the perils of Intel migration later. The point of all this is that there might not be a brand new, feature laden version at NAB if they've been swamped with Intel porting and optimizing. But somebody else pointed out that those are two different teams potentially - new version folk and porting folk. We'll have to wait and see, too many variables and I could believe either side as being reasonable and believable.
-some sources said current FCP will not run at all (crash/fail to launch) on Intel Macs, others said only DV will work at all, and poorly, under Rosetta. I'll have to confirm myself.
-MacBook Pro and iMac Intel Dual Core - what lumpy, inelegant names! Now that we have Intel chips inside, this seems to start a trend of, well, lumpy and inelegant names. May this get fixed as soon as possible - I'm not happy with these names. I understand Apple's desire to rebrand and clarify the distinction, but bleargh...not easy names to say or deal with.
Went to dinner with Andreas Wittenstein of BitJazz, maker of the Sheer codec - damn he is smart. I'm going to do an interview with him and lay out the benefits of his Sheer codec as soon as possible, like next week or so.
Saw lots of cool stuff today - Kano, Sonnet, Firmtek, G-Tech, and others all had cool new storage stuff, the new Macs, new iLife 06 (and I think I'm going to look into migrating HD4NDs over to it, and it does NOT have to use .mac I found out - hooray! Can publish to another location, like my server.
OK, my eyelids are literally drooping - expect a huge update tomorrow night, but probably nothing until then since it is a travel day for me.
Apple's page on the iMac - read up on the specs. Really, it is just a new processor in same enclosure, and wickedly faster.
Also, for those about to ask - I don't recommend using this for Final Cut Pro HD yet, since it isn't native on Intel. How does it run? Can you capture? I'll find out today. This applies to the MacBook Pro laptops as well.
Here's Apple's page on the new laptops.
-1440x900 native res screen
-1.67 or 1.83 GHz Intel Dual Core
-80 or 100 GB drives on the two models, is SATA now, not ATA
read up on full specs here
-new laptops called MacBook Pro (replaces powerbooks) - $1999 and $2499, 15.4 inch screen, built in iSight, Intel Dual Core chips, 4-5 times faster than PowerBook G4 processors, 1 inch thick, etc., 1.67 or 1.83 GHz
-iMac Dual Core - exact same case and form factor and price, but with 1.67 or ??? GHz chips, 17" & 20"
iLife 06- iWeb for web stuff super cool and easy, podcasting tools, runs on Intel Macs natively, ships with'em, etc.
NO NEW VIDEO STUFF OF IMPORT (SNL doesn't count)
NO VIIV PLATFORM MACS
TRANSITION TO INTEL BY END OF YEAR - THUS POWERMACS (or MacPro whatever) by end of year, as well as servers - maybe Sept. announce, ship November? Minis and iBooks in spring/summer? Servers towards year end?
OK, I was wrong on a lot of this stuff, but was at least right about new laptops!
OK all, here's my raw notes from the Keynote, as I took'em:
-STARTING LATE, JUST GOT INTO THE OVERFLOW ROOM - (the Kids Table) AT 9:07, HE STARTED PRESUMABLY AT 9AM
-sold 32 million iPods in 2005
-iTunes - songs purchased and downloaded - 850 million songs - hit a billion song mark in the next few months
-selling 3M songs a day
-over 1B songs a year run rate
-83% market share
-(showing off some new Keynote features)
-TV shows content - started selling about 90 days ago, since launch on Oct. 12th, sold over 8M videos
-added sports w/ABC and ESPN - Rose Bowl Game - 15m min condensed version - all the key moments - all 4 BCS games
-Rose Bowl #1 v ideo
-more content - Saturday Night Live - today - Samurai Delicatessen w/John Belushi - Coneheads At Home, Blues Brothers on SNL,
-lots of Best of SNL buyable on iTunes starting today
NEW ACCESSORY FOR IPOD - a remote that is also an FM tuner, clips onto clothing - plugs into Nano or 5th Gen iPod, you'll get a radio screen, can set preset stations, etc.
-$49 goes on sale today
-Chrysler - is the first of the Big Three to announce Major iPod integration support this year - over 3M CHryusler/Jeep/?? moddels will have iPod integration -
-over 40% of cars sold in US this year will have option of iPod integration
-did an ad with Winton Marsallis - "Sparks" - nice looking spot!
-rest of day talking about Mac - SO THEREFORE NO NEW IPODS
-is for digital photogrpahers
-the tool for photographers the way FCP is for filmmakers
-at launch,they made a video, they're showing an excerpt.
-the ability to lay it out on the screen makes it easier according to their guy in video
-(side note - I've heard some bitching about Aperture because it is slow and doesn't integrate as well with Photoshop as some folks would like)
-over 1500 widgets available for Tiger
-few more new Widgets - Google widget, new front end to Address Book, snok conditions, new calendar, white pages lookups,
-(IF THEY'RE BURNING TIME ON WIDGETS, THIS DOESN'T BODE WELL FOR HUGE NEW THINGS)
-10.4.4 IS DOWNLOADABLE TODAY - SO BETTER OPENGL PERFORMANCE
-"a giant new relase" says Steve
-"propel us further ahead of anything else in the world"
-iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, GarageBand, and iTunes
-"incredibly fast" had a 25,000 photo limit, up to 250,000 photos (1000/month for 20 years)
-"scrolls like butter"
-full screen editing - can use the full screen to edit and select and whatnot
-controls show in a strip on the bottom, thumbnails at top, controls pop up
-can do full screen compares (up to 8 at once)
-one click effects:
has 8 of most popular effects
can click'em multiple times to pile up effect
original sits in the middle
combine all the edges, vignette it, etc.
hit center button to get back to original
-all new cards, calendars, and dramatically better books
higher quality book printing, hard and soft cover
added calendars to make your own calendars (no more going to Kinko's as my sister does every year for our Dad)
added cards - can make nice cards, super easy, order'em online, even postcards
(STEVE SEEMS TIRED, NOT EXCITED)
Photocasting - podcasting for Photos (like Flickr?)
people want to share photos
people like to share'em over internet
every time I update an album, people who subscribe to that get their update
works by going to Source List, find an album you want to Photocast, puts a symbol next to it, and it uploads all those to .Mac
can password protect it
when someone subscribes, in THEIR list in THEIR iPhoto, if Dad subscribes to my Photocast album, they will download to HIS computer so HE can see them.
so it goes from my Mac, to the .Mac server, to subscribers Macs for them to have their own local copies
"it's like Magic - you take away the machinery" - Steve says
you must be a .mac member to publish
can use any RSS reader to subscribe to see
DEMO OF IPHOTO
-as you scroll, it has a little overlay that gives month/year of the photos you're scrolling past - nice
-(Steve keeps coughing - doesn't seem to feel well today)
-he's demoing cards - this does not make me feel happy that he's burning time on this piddly stuff
-calendar function can tap into keywords, can auto-flow or manually arrange it, works like the Pages app or the book feature stuff to rearrange
-he's not sounding very motivational here...
-he's shoiwng Photocast demo - I'm getting REALLLLLLLLLY underwhelmed now...no huge new products I'm betting - if we've already covered iPods and downloadable stuff - the only new content is SNL stuff for the moment - at least it is NBC not just ABC
-the Photocasting is pretty darn cool - when you set up Photocast, it asks if you want to email, so you fill in name of folks you're inviting to subscribe, when they get email, they click to subscribe, it launches iPhoto and the Album shows up and the files download in background via .Mac servers. If publisher updats, subscriber sees updates to that album in short order
-added HDV last year
-can get an HD camera for under $1600
-adding animated themes to iMovie
-realtime effects and titles, some new audio tools, MORE than one project at once, a single command to prep for iPod format, can create video podcasts using the same thing
there are drop zones for stuff to load video into it
these are the same exact kind of thing as iDVD does with clever menus, but now it is for content - and DAMN, they are pretty darned good! Clearly, it is using OpenGL and CoreVideo to do this stuff. He didn't show it doing it, so clearly there's some rendering involved, but they look great - the bar is raised for pro video guys for packaging of content
travel theme with "arrived" stamps and postcard picks
road trip theme/scrapbook look
3D panes on white with drop shaodws theme - this is the kind of thing I used to do with After Effects and it took forever to render
masking themes - view video through text
raises the bar for home video production, MASSIVELY
-added widescreen menus to make widescren DVDs
-Magic iDVD - if you want to make aDVD but don't have time, just choose a theme from many, drop your movies and photos (even photo albums) in, access to your iLofe libraries, push a button to make a project, another to make a DVD and you're done. This is cool!
-improved slide shows
-ehanced map view
-support third party DVD burners
-skipping the demo for time
-lots of new features, one thing to focus on:
-Podcast Studio addition
-addeed a podcast artwork track, over 200 sound effects, over 100 jingles, automatic ducking - lowers background audio when your voice pauses, voice enhancer to use built in mike, can use iChat to do the interviews and it records them into GarageBand
-OK, MY LIFE JUST GOT EASIER - LOOKS LIKE I'LL BE DOING PODCASTS SOON
-"Hi, I'm Steve, welcome to my weekly podcast "Super Secret Apple Rumors" I have some inside sources telling me next iPod will be huge - 8 pounds and 10 inch screen!" recorded audio
-drags in artwork to over the track
-can drop photos over the timeline, so photos will load in time as you wish
-can put audio in underneath it
-the jingles don't suck, so that's good
-automatic ducking - you don't even have to do anything, it automatically lowers the volume of the background track
-YES, I WILL BE USING THIS, AND SOON
-podcast artwork track is really, really nice
-new JamPack - world music
looks like he's summing up -
-they allow us to express ourselves creatively - pics, movies, etc., we want to share them with folks, increasingly over the Internet - but increasingly, we want to build a website, so today we are introducing a sixth app -
-new app allows us to share digital photos, movies, video podcasts, our taste in music, our blogs, and other podcasts - iWeb is the new app
-there's apps out ther that let you build stuff - the grid says easy/beautiful sites on one axis, and ugly/beautiful
-they want something super easy to build beautiful websites
-iWeb - aapl designed websites, iLife media broswer, online phto albums, blugs an dpodcats, one click publishing to dotmac, pick a theme, you have pages of layout options, iLife media browser, so can make a good looking page in a few seconds
-photo layout pages, create blogs in seconds, updating whenever you like
-create/delete an entry as you like
-podcasts are cake
-subscription stuff is all done for you
-push one button after you make it, published to .mac automatically, viewable on any broswer on any platform
-if they have a modern broswer, can use Ajax viewer for Firefox, Safari, IE with nice next/previous
-any RSS reader to subscribe to blog
-can subscribe to podcast, iTunes will subscribe to that podcast
-gonna build a website with the demo
-NICE graphical layout - can throw text wherever you want, kinda like Pages does, move stuff around graphically, drag photos in and set it wherever you want, rotate pictures, scale & crop in the layout, drop in other photos where you want 'em, can do background music to drop a playlist and it'll provide pointers to the iTune smusic store for all those songs (OK, that's a bit much)
-dragging iTunes music to iWeb makes links to Apple store
-photo layout pages - can drag around to rearrange, can drag a photoalbum to the top of the page, that makes a link to the photocast for that album
-can pick a blog page - headline/dates/copy layout, handles all the formatting, short versions on front pages, etc.
_I think I see Blogger fading into background if I can migrrate it - boy, that'll be tough with nearly 2000 articles and links and stuff
-can drop in a podcast and it'll play onscreen via QT with slideshow and stuff (presumably QT stuff as well)
-can send podcast to iWeb to package and prep and mix down etc., iWeb catches that file and asks if you want on web page or podcast
-MAN this is nice stuff!
-just hit the "Publish" button for it to go to .Mac
-uploads it, generates HTML & RSS feeds and all that action
-I'm gonna be testing this and planning migration for HD4NDs reaaaalllllllll soon
-nice Ajax fullscreen photo view works on any modern browser
has a nice row of stuff at top for pictures, podcasts, blogs, etc. - hmmm....I like this organization!
-I wonder if I can publish to ANOTHER location, so I could use my hdforindies.com URL?
-iWeb helps for photos, podcasts, vlogcasts, etc.
-$79 for iLife 06
AVAILABLE TODAY (go buy it!)
$99 family pack for up to 5 macs
-free on all new Macs
-over 1M subscribers
-expect it to continue
iWork new version
Keynote and Pages has a new version - 3D charts, advanced image editing for masking and stuff, image reflections, freeform shapes and masks, tables with calculations (sorta like Excel), new themes and templates
-$79 today, $99 family pack, 30 day free trial on new macs
LET'S TALK ABOUT THE COMPUTER SYSTEMS THEMSELVES
-we're making some of the best products we ever have
-started off the year by selling over 1M macs a quarter and up from there
-announced shift to Intel last year at WWDC in the spring
-said that by June of 06 they'd have Macs with Intel processors
-an update today on how their doing
-CLEARLY, NO INTEL MACS TODAY
-Paul Otellini comes out in a bunny suit and hands over a wafer and shakes hands with Steve
-they both say they are ready
TODAY ROLLING OUT FIRST MAC WITH INTEL PROCESSOR
-THE IMAC is the first new Mac based on Intel
-putting an Intel processor iinside the new iMac (so same form factor?)
-offered in same 17 & 20 inch sizes
-same features (camera, Front Row, remote etc.)
-so what's different?
-new iMac is 2 to 3 times faster than the iMac G5
-putting in the latest and greatest Intel stuff - Intel Core Duo - dual processor 2MB L2 cache
-each processor is faster than G5, and there's two of'em
-iMac G5 Core Duo
-integer performance 10.2 for G5, 32.6 for iMac Core Duo - is 3.2X faster
-using best compiler on each
-floating point performance
13.0 for G5, 27.1 for Core Duo, for 2.1 times faster
-for most important daily stuff - 2 to three times faster
-not everything is faster (same discs etc) for 2-3 times faster processing
-every iMac has dual processors now
-sme features means no FireWire 800
-10.4.4 is running fully natively on the Intel Core Duo - all the apps too - so iLife, Safari, etc. EVERYTHING THEY ARE DOING is native. Everything they are doing runs on both, universal binaries. PowerPC and Intel on the same disc.
-all the demos run so far were on the Core Duo today
-can trade in the discs for new versions of Universal Binaries (cross grade) for $49
THAT IS A DEAL
-developers are porting as well, THEY DIDN'T KNOW new Macs due today
-(SO I'M TOTALLY WRONG!)
-several universal binary apps - Quark announced new version of XPress is completely universal, beta program at MacWorld, beta is universal right from the start
-until developers get it all unversal, shipping rosetta, runs MOST apps under Rosetta, but not all
-Office runs fine under Rosetta, will be universal later
-Roz Ho from MS Mac Biz Unit, universal binaries for Office and Messenger "on track"
-shipping several updates soon, sync services for handhelds and Entourage, Spotlight support for Entourage, another Messenger update via free download in March, throughout Jan, buy a new Mac and get 1/2 off Office. Formalizing the commitment to platform w/official agreement to ship new Office for Mac for a minimum of 5 years
-2005 was best year for Mac group biz
-Steve demos running Office in Rosetta
-running Photoshop under Rosetta, running one of their "build a poster" demos....it runs well enough for piddling, but not fast enough for pros
-Safari under Intel is wicked fast - pages just blink up
17" w/1.8 Ghz dual, 160 GB, ATI X1600, $1299
20" 2.0 GHz for $1699
...this makes sense - it is the easiest form factor to port, and is clearly the consumer shape form factor
-using latest from Intel stuff
-transitioning entire product line THIS CALENDAR YEAR - so PowerMacs by end of calendar year.
new TV ad -
Intel facilty - Intel chips have been trapped in a PC, doing dull stuff, now in a mac...imagine the possibilities
cute, but only fun for the Mac folks, a little insulting to Dell/HP/etc.
ONE MORE THING
PowerBooks - been trying to shoehorn a G5 in and couldn't get it into the form factor, when switching said it was about performance per watt
-G4 chips - .27
-G5 - .23 (even lower performance)
Core Duo is 1.05 Intel Core Duo
NEW NOTEBOOK COMPUTER - THE MACBOOK PRO
-new name because they are done with "Power" and want "mac" int the name
-Intel Core Duo chip in it - dual processors in every MacBook Pro
-4-5X times faster than the Powerbook G4
-PBG4 vs MacBook Pro -
interger 6.7 vs 30.3, 4.5X
floating point4.9 vs 25.6 for floating point - 5.2x faster
thinnest - 1" tall
15.4 inch widescreen as bright as cinema displays
-built in iSign built in (!!!!)
-videoconferencing on the go
-WHAT'S THE SCREEN RES!
-Phil videoconferences from the audience on the laptop (so it must ship before tooooo long)
-IR sensor and Apple remote comes with it - Front Row built in
-can watch from across the room
-MagSafe feature - new power adaptop and connector held magnetically - when it gets yanked, it just pulls right off
-(save us all a lot of work- leading cause of laptop death)
-backlight kybd w/sendor
-sudden motion sensor
DVI out to drive a 30" cinema display
-digtal optical and analog audio in and out
$19999 1.667, 667 MHZ bus, 512, MB, 80GB SATA, 4X superdrive, ATI X1600, ExpressCard slot, Airport Extreme & Bluetooth
-$2499, 1.83 GHz, faster drive and more (too fast to write it down)
shipping in Februay, taking orders starting today
-get your orders in quick he says
-transition all products to Intel processors IN CALENDAR YEAR 2006
aapol is 30 on April 1st
-hot swap (no power down required to swap drives)
-faster performance than FireWire 800
Taking a random stab based on some bus topology knowledge, I think this would let you get about 80 or 100 MB/sec in a RAID config, which is better than FW800 would do on a G5. Now, where would this come in handy? It would be good to move around large datasets, and be able to read in data fast enough for dual stream uncompressed SD probably, but would a laptop processor have enough juevos to do a realtime dissolve?
Certainly useful for accessing hotswap SATA drives though, which I'm an advocate of for small studios that can't afford and SAN and need to move around a lot of files and jobs between stations.
$90, available first quarter.
Firmtek is showing a new enclosure - a compact, 2 bay hotswap enclosure for SATA drives. It has two eSATA connectors on the back, and power and activity lights for each drive. I would imagine the trays are compatible with their other products as well. I like their design philosophy - they have direct connect drives (backplane connectors not pigtail connectors), properly handle static discharge risks (not all do), three speed fans (user selectable) to control noise level, external power brick. I've got 4 of their previous 2 bay enclosure and like'em, I use them daily.
Availabiility mid Q1 2006, price not stated.
In any case, here's the plan:
-I'm going to leave a Blogger window open when I go into the hall (since there is no WiFi or cell coverage in there).
-I'm going to type as fast as my little piddies will go to take all the notes I can
-after keynote, I'll copy/paste into the Blogger window, walk out until I get coverage, and hit Send.
I'm still thinking Minis, Powerbooks, iLife 06, improved .Mac services (including video download caching) and major video download stuff. The Airport Express A/V thing I've been talking about since August? I dunno if that is here or later - wouldn't Apple want to sell full systems rather than just add-ons at first? Best profit potential.
An hour and a half to go...
Monday, January 09, 2006
OK, this is direct from the source - Sonnet is the first to release PCIe cards for the new PCIe Macs (including the Quad G5) that will support up to 20 (yes, twenty) drives.
It does this by using port multiplication - the ability to connect multiple drives to a single eSATA cable. No longer the massive tangle of one cable per drive, port multiplication will allow for up to five drives to connect to the host computer via a singlel, regular, eSATA connector (if the enclosure supports port multiplication).
The Tempo SATA E4P ($299.95) is the one I'm most interested in with 4 external eSATA ports, all of which can support up to 5 drives. The Tempo SATA E4i ($199.95) has four internal ports. I'm not a big fan of internal drive mounts, but for those who are, this'll work with their G5 Jive kit to mount more than the stock number of drives internally in a G5.
Sonnet is also releasing a similar card for PCI-X Macs, the Tempo Sata X4P. Same basic thing, but for PCI-X Macs.
Sonnet is also announcing a new enclosure, the Fusion 500P ($599.95 with no drives), a new five bay hard drive enclosure with a built-in port multiplier (saw that one coming, didn't you?). Oh, and it's hot swap bays! Also has activity LEDs and a purportedly quiet fan. Extra trays are $40 - a touch pricey, but not too bad (I'd prefer $30ish). But it is from a solid company, so I feel better about paying that rather than some no-support mail order house.
Put it all together, and a single Tempo SATA E4P can support FOUR of these enclosures, for 20 drives, or up to ten terabytes. That ought to hold you for a while! And the system lends itself to minimizing RAID 0 risks - RAID sets are no larger than they have to be. With the older 8 port cards, an 8 drive array was the logical setup to maintain speed needed. Now, just set up sequential 5 drive arrays as capture/render volumes in FCP.
Expected to ship in early February.
Mike's Comments (as if I haven't been editorializing along the way - ah well): Well, I have to say I like'em -because I had suggested to them some time ago that they should do something pretty much exactly like this, and I'm pleased to say it looks like they are going to deliver what I wanted. Five drives is the magic number for port multiplication in terms of HD editing - with 5 drives, you can be assured of ALWAYS having enough drive speed for single stream 10 bit 4:2:2 1080p or 1080i resolution playback and capture when configured as a RAID 0. With good fast modern SATA drives (such as my current fave the Seagate 7200.8 series), you can get at least 40 MB/sec per drive, even at the tail of the drive when it is slowest. Five of them give you at least 200 MB/sec, which is 10 bit 1080i60 4:2:2 HD with headroom for QuickTime's inefficiencies. Therefore, you can just add additional enclosures when you need more space - each one is a brick of HD-ness. This lets you scale incrementally as your needs grow. Want to add backups or redundancy to your RAID? Get a matching enclosure (same drive types) and do backups or set up a RAID 10 with Tiger's Disk Utility. Need more space for that big project? Just attach another enclosure of five drives. Great solution for indies. I'd also stressed quiet operation was important in an editing environment (as opposed to the non-dull roar of an XServe RAID), and it looks like they factored that in, too. I hope to test one ASAP. I especially like that they are offering them bare with no drives - many companies only sell pre-configured with drives that have been fairly heavily marked up in price.
Also, if this card is the same as previous Sonnet cards, nothing stops you from putting two cards in your box for up to FORTY drives (I'll need to verify this feature, but I expect this to be true).
While it doesn't offer the data protection or RAID 3 or RAID 5, I do feel that RAID 0 based systems are the best bang for the buck for the lower budgeted indie. So long as you can recapture your footage from tape, it is safe enough for non-deadline critical work. While RAID 0 setups will inevitably fail at some point when one of the drives fails (after some years usually), I've yet to have one of my 4 RAID 0s fail in about a year and a half, knock on wood. Plenty of time to crank out a project.
The only things these cards don't address is what to do for folks like me - I have four 2 bay enclosures, three 4 bay enclosures, and one 5 bay enclosure that are all NON-port multiplication. I can hook up four drives per card, so I could either get two cards, or try to retrofit my enclosures with a port multiplication board (and they are out there, linked to'em recently). But it's a bit of a sticky situation for those with existing RAIDs and new PCIe Macs, when you have existing 8 drive arrays that need to be connected to these new machines. Perhaps a future product will address this, or is port multiplication The Way Of The Fyou-Chorr?
So for now, I recommend this as the best game in town for indies on a tight budget. There are also other port multiplication enclosures out there, but I'd want to test and/or verify compatibility before I got a non-returnable product to work with this Sonnet card.
But I'm betting by the end of the show, I'll be recommending these as a Best Pick.
As always, wait and see, wait and see.
(Picture snagged from the Sonnet website, figured they wouldn't mind)
In any case, SED has been an up and coming thing, combining the best of LCD/plasma displays (flat, relatively low power, lighter weight) with the best of CRTs (good blacks, high contrast) in one package that purportedly will eventually be able to be produced at lower than LCD/plasma prices.
Some choice quotes from the IGN guys who saw it:
"but Toshiba's prototype SEDs offer a whopping 10,000:1 contrast ratio"
"The sets we viewed were running in 720p and not the standard 1080p that SEDs will accommodate later this year."
"the 42" SEDs we saw will be axed in favor of a base size that begins at 55", Toshiba promises."
"We were continually amazed by how rich and deep the blacks were in these pictures, and always without sacrificing image detail. The graying effect commonly associated with low contrast ratios was not only missing from these videos, but the 16x9 "letterbox bars" were so deeply black that the pictures looked to be coming out of the nearby wall and not displayed on a television at all."
As for price, Samsung "would not even venture to give us a ballpark figure for these televisions. That noted, previous reports on the technology state that it can be mass-produced on a cheaper scale than competing plasma or LCD televisions."
OK, kids, time to start readin' - the above linked page has a link to the manual somewhere, or here's the direct link (copy/paste):
Thanks to Luis Caffesse for sending that one in!
Pictures from CES - thanks to Michael Flynn for sending this in.
New enclosure uses port multiplying on an eSATA cable. Up to 5 drives off of one cable. Only works with cards that support port multiplying, which is a very short list. LaCie has one, Wiebetech claims to have one (which they must be getting from somebody else), I think Highpoint claims to have one but I haven't played with it yet. But I expect (hope) to see/hear more eSATA port mulitplying claims tomorrow.
back to this one:
- 1, 2, or 5 trays
-PCI-X host card (so not for PCIe Macs)
-single eSATA connector
-up to 500 GB per tray
-but even empty, it is $1000 for the 5 bay with no host card. Ouch! The 2.5 TB model (5x500 GB drives) is $3379.95.
Mark Cuban's Landmark Theater chain was all lined up (in theory) to go with Sony's 4K (4096x2160) resolution projectors, but have changed their mind. "Sony now has a grand total of zero announced customers for its high-resolution 4K projectors."
I'm wondering if this is related to the fact that somebody said at NAB last year something to the effect of "The first 12 rows (in a theater) can see 4K, if it is optimally projected and everyone has 20/20 vision. Beyond that, 2K is indistinguishable."
Maybe Mark's thinking that those first 12 rows aren't worth it, at least for the money involved.
I think Scott Kirsner's setting up the tee ball shot for Apple's annoucements tomorrow - he's talking about needing a place to put all your digital assets (home and Hollywood movies, photos, MP3s, etc.) that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.
And that's exactly what I'm expecting to see tomorrow from Steve.
Boy, I am so far out on this limb now that if I'm wrong...I'll have to go to NAB.
Microsoft Tunes Into Windows Live - Yahoo! News
MS plans on rolling out Windows Live to use Media Center Edition OS (likely targeted to Intel Viiv platform PCs, same hardware platform I expect Apple to announce support for tomorrow) access more online content, like remotely record TV shows, find programming info, etc.
Yahoo expanding Web on TV, phones with Go service - their Yahoo Go TV service " will target consumers buying PC-linked TVs with fast Internet connections." On a side note, I heard their demo failed repeatedly until it crashed during a press demo (unconfirmed). Not an auspicious start, but clearly, EVERYBODY is getting on the Internet video bus. Google did on Friday, and Apple probably will tomorrow even more than they already are (with TV shows etc.)
Speaking of which, Google Launches Video Download Service -
"The service, called Google VideoStore, allows consumers to buy and download video content from providers such as CBS Broadcasting and the National Basketball Association (NBA) from its Web site."
another article about it - Google plans to expand video services
TiVO was unexpected quiet at CES, with just a few minor things like PSP, iPod Video and Mac support, but STILL lack a strong HD plan or products. I think that even though they have a great product, they haven't been able to make the deals necessary to scale into the big league, and are drifting rapidly off the back of the peloton, never to return. A shame.
Once again, thanks to Omega Broadcast Group for their generous loan of the camera for several days this week right as they came in. If you are in the Austin Area, don't forget they have a hands on thing with the HVX200 today (Monday). I talked to Allan Barnwell over there, and he said they are expecting multiple more shipments this month, so they (and presumably other vendors) should be able to fill their backorders quickly and deliver new orders soon.
OK, back to review, below is all Jen:
DVX fans will really like this camera. It looks like an inflated DVX and most of the controls are in about the same place they were on the DVX so making the switch is fairly simple. The menu has a lot more to it and will definitely require some reading, as will information on importing from what Mike has told me. I approached the camera solely from a shooting perspective, curious to see what difference there would be in the image with the added resolution, as well as what improvements were made to the design of the camera. I have a few big issues with the DVX after shooting with it in a wide variety of situations (I should let it be known that I am a Canon girl) including a narrative feature, a few short films, and segments for "Downtown" and "Rollergirls". Here are my thoughts:
- This camera's design is much sturdier than the DVX, beginning with it being built using much less plastic.
- The menu is lot easier to control and navigate thanks to there being actual buttons (vs. the toggle switch on the DVX which I have always thought is a total pain in the ass). - The iris, zoom and focus wheels are wider and more resistant than the DVX. This makes it easier to control slight image adjustments while shooting in documentary situations where your light and focus is shifting constantly. I have found it hard to not overshoot my mark on the DVX because the wheels turned to easily.
- There is now an Auto/Manual switch located behind the LCD screen which allows you to go from full auto mode to full manual mode with a flip of a switch. This is particularly handy in documentary shooting when you have drastic, sudden changes in your image.
- The focus assist button, located above the manual/auto focus switch, is handy as well. It essentially zooms in on the center of your image so that you can check focus without zooming or reframing (assuming that your focus is in the middle of your frame, which I find is not usually the case, but I like the idea of it).
- What is most interesting to me is the the under and over-cranking feature on this camera. Similar to the Varicam, you can shoot specifically for slow or fast motion instead of doing the speed change in the edit. Anyone who has tried to slow down video footage knows that it can start to look really bad really fast. The test shot that Mike showed me looked pretty great, so I am really excited to play with this function on a project.
- I think there is definite improvement with the lens on this camera, but ultimately you just can't have the flexibility or control with a fixed lens that you can get with interchangeable lenses. The lens on the DVX would not allow for extreme close-ups without a diopter- the problem isn't completely corrected on this lens but it is much better. This lens is wider and zooms further, so you have more flexibility and more control over your depth of field. I think Panasonic can still do better with this lens, but it's a step in the right direction.
- The fixed hard matte on the DVX is gone on this model and I'm happy to see it go- cleaning the lens on the DVX is extremely difficult since you can't actually get to it without unscrewing the hard matte. It's a small thing but makes a big difference particularly on narrative shoots.
- In 16x9 mode, the LCD monitor displays the corrected image, so you can actually see what you are framing without an external monitor.
- The LCD display information is contained mostly in the areas at the top and bottom of the screen, which means in 16x9 mode you can see almost the entire image without display information on top of it.
- The image stabilizer seems to be better than the DVX (which wouldn't be hard to improve on)
- I found it easier to focus in general and to get tighter focus on close-ups than on the DVX. Part may be due to the drastic increase in resolution and part may be the better lens, but I have had problems with close shots appearing soft when they are not.
- The extra resolution seems to help greatly with contrast problems inherent in video. I tested the camera with extreme contrast in the shot and the highlights seemed to hold up much better than with miniDV (meaning less artifacts and greater detail in the highlights). The same seems to be true of the shadows as well, which I am optimistic about since the DVX is notoriously bad in low light situations. Granted I have not seen any of the footage blown up or projected, but from what I could tell on the LCD, it looked pretty good.
- One of my biggest complaints (the other being the lens) about the DVX is how uncomfortable it is to use handheld. The design of the camera puts all of the weight on your hand (which I've found cuts off circulation to your fingers on long handheld shots) and arm, so generally it's just not friendly for handheld if you don't have an attachment to distribute some of the weight to your shoulder. And since this camera is significantly heavier than the DVX it's even more of a problem now. Low-mode handheld isn't as bad, since you can use the handle on the top of the camera to hold it, but I definitely recommend buying or making a shoulder rig if you plan to do any extensive eye-level handheld work.
Overall, I am looking forward to seeing what this camera can do in a production environment. And I am very curious to get this camera side by side with the Canon XL H1 to see how they compare.
OK, this is Mike again. Due to time constraints, Jen was unable to view her shot footage on computer screen or broadcast CRT, but I will strive to do so upon my return from MWSF. I was able to go through her footage and view it on a 23" Apple LCD at 100% size, most of her test footage was shot at 1080i60. As with the other footage we've shot (or I've let other folks shoot, I'm not shooter), SO FAR, unless there are settings not being taken advantage of, the images look pretty good if you have PLENTY of light. In interior settings especially, however, anything not VERY well lit shows a LOT of noise in the shadows, which in the end may be the achilles heel of this camera.
I'll have more to say when I can sit down and thoroughly go over this footage, which I have not had time to do. I'm trying to arrange with Chris Hurd of DVInfo.net to host some/all of the test footage shot to date, he's got the DVDs but needs some time to go through it, and he's going to SF as well (I'm having dinner with him tomorrow night in fact).
But so far, in beginning tests, the resolution is quite nice, but the dynamic range, low light performance, and noise in shadow makes me think this isn't the be-all, end-all indie cheapie camera. Which is? I'll be better able to answer that question in about 2 months after my camera test with the sub-$10K contenders from Sony, JVC, Panasonic, and Canon.
Sunday, January 08, 2006
I don't officially qualify for press credentials and will be hitting up some vendor buddies to see if I can do any better than a plain jane civillian pass to get into the keynote, which will require lining up in front of Moscone at a just evil chunk of pre-dawn earliness to make sure I get in. Bleargh. Don't wanna get up that early, so if anybody can help me out, drop me an email and I'll get it Monday when I check into hotel. If you want good coverage, then any help I can get helps to guarantee that.
I'm expecting some mighty impressive things from Apple, here's my best guesses:
-new Intel Macs announced but not shipped yet - we may get the classic "within 30 days" quote from Steve, but 45-90 is more like it.
-PowerBooks or iBooks, but I'm more certain of new Minis
-those Minis will be Intel Viiv platform, home media PC thing
-new Front Row for more TiVO like action of media scanning and playback - current version just practice
-more Apple downloadable video stuff
-possibly, maybe (or perhaps later this year) an Aiport Express device with video outputs - a perfect addition for non-Mini owners
-NO Intel PowerMacs - they've already said they'll be later, like in a year/year and a half, with servers going last
-NO Intel iMacs - later this year but not yet
-maybe more iPod options, but frankly, I'm more interested in the other stuff
-maybe an update on next-gen OS X, but I think only likely if touting more Intel platform related info about it (such as Rosetta emulation layer, etc.)
-iLife 06 with iWeb (whatever that is) according to some leaked Apple stuff purportedly (iLife 06 yes, iWeb dunno). Maybe high def DVD burning? Or is that next year? This is a total guess on my part, no evidence whatsoever. It's kind of sad that DVD Studio Pro will have been out about a year by the time consumer players hit the market
-massively increased storage and throughput for .Mac services, since it is rumored (and I believe this one) to be used to store/cache downloadable video content
-I'm curious if there will be Hollywood movie content downloadable, that's a huge threshold to see if it gets crossed, and one of the most meaningful ones. Disney would be the likely first partner (think Pixar stuff/agreeements)
-I'm NOT NOT NOT expecting to see 42 & 50" plasmas as is beign reported elsewhere - I think somebody just saw Apple logo/menus on a big plasma running off a new tiny Mini and mistook what they say
OK, now I have to pack 'n drive. Feel free to post in the comments any thoughts on all this rumory stuff, and it'll be interesting to see Tuesday how right or wrong I am. Then razz me terribly if I'm wrong, or tell me how I Rawk Like Slayer for getting stuff right.
Items of interest to this crowd:
-Lacie has 6 new drive products
-Small Tree Communications will show BlazeFS, new file sharing system, for use with GigE and 10 GigE networking
-Retrospect 6.1 for Mac Business Editions - hope to god it is stable by now, I've not heard good things about OSX versions
-Tolis BRU Server - backup stuff
...and ten zillion iPod things, and whatever Apple unveils.
-bigger screen, records stuff too
I'm including this as another example of convergent devices hitting the market - and FAST - that are changing the possible viewing habits of people, creating new markets for indie content (no matter what format it was originated on)
Graeme Nattress of Nattress Plugins has joined the RED camera team. From the DVInfo.net blurb from Jim:
...his creative thinking and expertise with the RAW workflow, software solutions, and clear connection with the target users will guarantee a better end product."
Graeme is an extremely intelligent guy I've had the pleasure of talking to many times over the last year via email, phone, and face to face. He is VERY forward thinking, and EXACTLY the right kind of guy to help on his end to bring a truly next-gen camera to market.
I was going to ignore this rumor, but it is getting so much attention I gotta take a shot at it. The rumor is that Apple will release 42 & 50" plasma TVs (HD or not, whatever) with an embedded Viiv platform (Intel's home theater PC new setup) that runs OS X.
I don't think so.
I've long anticipated Viiv platform computers that would connect to TVs of choice, and I think somebody saw an Apple logo on a display and misconstrued the meaning of it. I take this as further evidence of the home theater play, and I hope to see downloadable movies and more TV shows as a part of it, with HD movies coming in the next year some-odd. The faster Apple gets on the downloadable HD bandwagon (download to own), the sooner they can compete with the optical disk market, which for now is VERY expensive - $500 to $1800 is the price range I've seen for HD DVD and higher end Blu Ray players.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
More Gefen goodies, this time for multiple HDTV inputs and an Apple Cinema display. I'll probably be needing to get some other Gefen stuff in the near future to do DVI remoting (long cable runs from computer to monitors) etc.
-$1000, no 1080p support in this generation of product, but future products will
-BD Java a possible hold up
“BD Java is one thing that is still being worked out. The timetable, as I understand it, is late March,” said Sanduski. “So that’s why [our timetable is] end of April. We think we can do it.”
-3 month + lag behind HD-DVD
-"early summer" for Sony players
-Pioneer only to give a price - $1800 for one particular unit (there are SURE to be cheaper players, don't blow this out of proportion, and they'll definitely drop in price by Christmas '06)
-Sony PS3 still planned to have a Blu-ray player in it, due "spring", so that's likely to be first mass available, affordable Blu-Ray player - will it be hamstrung in some way? Or will that be the cheap/good/fun player that also offers games?
The war is definitely on - Blu-Ray vs HD DVD. PS3 is a huge deal for getting Blu-Ray out there, HD-DVD will be first to market and have support from MS in Windows Vista (ZERO official support from MS for Blu-ray in Vista, bring your own drivers please). Blu Ray was winning more studio support last I heard, but HP switched to favoring HD-DVD recently, and MS is rumored to be PAYING folks to use HD-DVD over Blu-Ray. So lots or pros and cons.
Miglia Technology on Thursday announced TVMini HD, a device that lets you watch, pause, and record High Definition TV (HDTV) on your Mac. TVMini HD costs $249.
Sounds cool - but has limits - works with OTA, free digital cable HD content (but NOT paid digital cable or sattelite HD - so no HBO?)
-connects via USB 2.0
-up to 1920x1080 supported
-can export to PSP or iPod video formats
-1080i requires a dual G5
I'm not at CES, but apparently, it's alllll about video at CES. So read this link.
Oh, then read some of these I've fallen behind on, stemming from more of Scott's coverage of issues of interest. Yes, I'm lame by not making these hyperlinks, the REALLY interested will copy and paste.
Dolby looking for new growth (because they're hosed in a digital world):
Ticket Tweaking - how Hollywood comes up with box office estimates
Hollywood Reporter talking about industry leaders for 05 - and Steve Jobs is the first mentioned:
Starz introduces Vongo, a new downloadable movie service
more coverage on Vongo
more on Starz- Provider of TV Movie Channels Looks to Expand to PC's and Video Players
Again, all this I found via Scott Kirsner's excellent CinemaTech website.
more deferral to Scott's coverage for Google video - (I am so bured right now it isn't even funny, only blogging during renders & copies...)
again, read Scott's coverage, better than I can (probably even if I had time)
The basic scoop: anyone can now upload video to Google's Video Store, set their price, and watch the millions roll in (or not.) The minimum charge, Google co-founder Larry Page said, is five cents. The vast majority of the revenue share, he added, goes to the content provider.
Obviously, you indies should see the possibilities here - think of it as eBay for video content.
a reader at CES has pictures of Toshiba HD-DVD and Sony Blu-ray Disc players, fresh from CES (Sony's supports 1080p, I'm pleased to note)
-there's a lot of clearly labeled "prototype" units, and stuff under glass (often indifcating non-functional prototypes), but hey, we're getting there...sloooowly.
I figured - MS didn't want to hold up XBox 360 waiting for teh HD DVD stuff to get ready. Optional extra later this year.
So are they pushing HD DVD over Blu Ray just for XBox 360 (how big a percentage of income does it represent?) or creating market confusion, hoping to launch a download service (or make profit from others' by selling the OS the hardware runs on) later by stymying Blu Ray with no software support in Windows Vista? Or other reasons?
Yeah, I pretty much don't trust MS to Do The Right Thing. Big surprise.
this is the same kind of physical platform that I expect Apple to use in the Minis and PowerBook/iBooks to be announced next week - that's right, I think products will be announced, but won't ship "for real" for a coupla months.
This is entirely guesswork with no hard proof, just tea leaf readings.
Oh, and video stuff.
first gen players may not have "full" interactivity, but I disagree about one possible conclusion - it HAS to have menus, they can't release a product without.
No time to detail it, read it. There's just HUGE changes going on right now, the tectonic plates of the industry are moving FAST.
I'm still expcting huge announcements from Apple on Tuesday for video stuff. Google's in the game now too.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
If you want to get some hands on time with the camera while you wait for
Panasonic to ship more units, Allan at Omega is holding an open house
this Friday from 3 to 5, and another this Monday from 10:00 to noon.
Omega Broadcast Group
817 West Howard Lane
Come one, come all.
I'm just now transferring some additional material over from Luis and Peter (new guy) that shot for a couple of hours today, focal charts and stuff.
Dell's 30" LCD panel is now available to be ordered online, with 2560x1600 pixel resolution, requiring a dual link DVI connector (check your graphics card for support, this is pretty new/expensive/uncommon until quite recently).
-DVI-D dual link
-Energy Star Compliant
-claimed 400 cd/m2 typical brightness
-700:1 claimed contrasat ratio
-95 degree max operating temp (don't use outdoors in Texas summer)
-177 W max power draw
-4 USB 2.0 ports
-NO VIDEO INPUTS either SD or HD, just computer attachments, so can't use this as a TV monitor as you can with the 24" model that I have from Dell
Thanks to Dave Peterson for pointing this out to me! If you see a relevant bit of news that I'm not on top of, please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE - this is only $300 less than Apple, so not such a great deal considering Apple's better looking unit. I'll need to look at brightness/contrast and see if the Dell is better to consider whether to recomend or not. If they are otherwise identical, I'd STRONGLY recommend AGAINST the Dell, unless it drops below $2000.
Nice little read - talks about cutting HD offline, DI, why film is still preferable to digital for acquisition, etc.
Highlights from article:
-Toshiba's high def DVD players - two models, $499 & $799 (wait for'em to come down)
-Fox to release Fantastic Four and Ice Age - ho hum
-Lion's Gate - Saw, Reservoir Dogs, Lord of War - at least they are trying as hard as they can, that's some of their better stuff - do they HAVE any better movies?
-Paramount - The Italian Job and Tomb Raider
Discussion of the ongoing format war included, with Microsoft's sudden favoritism of HD-DVD tipping the field (I think that alone might keep the war going a loooong time, which could give MS time to get an online strategy in place to say skip all of this optical disc stuff).
UPDATE - this article has more details on the Toshiba player, such as model #s and pricing strategy etc.
links links links - Scott's got'em. Got time? Go read about movie biz. Yeah, I've got blogorrhea right now - just trying to catch up on a zillion open windows.
Edward J. Epstein, one of my favorite new media prognosticators, chimes in wiht his thoughts are for 2006 concerning movies and distribution and the like. As with most futurists, he'll be off on a lot of it, but the core of "Hollywood's income is fleeing from theaters to the home" is true.
Very highly suggested reading for the indie filmmakers out there.
If I had time (sigh, no time these days) I'd tackle and analyze'em one by one. but no time.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
But I couldn't help but overhear the announced saying tomorrow it'll be possible to download the game from iTunes. Price unknonwn.
We've seen an increasing # of TV shows available, starting with the most popular (Lost and Desperate Housewives). It has spread to include things like SciFi series and now football games.
First off, it is GREAT that this kind of thing is becoming more popular. But far more interesting, I think, is how fast it is getting popular to watch on computer or iPod. And of course, on your Viiv platform Intel based Mac, which I'm about 95% certain they are going to introduce but probably not ship next week. And I still think/hope that an Airport Express A/V type of device that I wrote about starting last summer will be introduced as well for all of those who don't want to buy an entire new computer.
Wait, wait, back on track - but the interesting thing about the networks encoding and posting shows, and now games, the day after they air, is that it is a huge impulse buy market. Miss the game or show? No biggie, buy it online for $2. Watch on your iPod (or TV connected to iPod) or computer the next day.
But AFTER this gets entrenched as mainstream, it gets really interesting. They are still treating it like DVDs, which were expensive at first - nope, this is wrong (or would be if they kept this attitude) - start thinking of it more like Amazon and Netflix, where it is an endless store and you can put anything in there. Encoding costs are low - you can do it on a desktop Mac, for Pete's sake - and hosting costs are slight, just put it on the server farm and Akamai distributed hubs. Broadband costs are included in the cost of the download, so it scales quite beautifully all the way down to very LOW numbers of units sold.
We got zillions of songs available on iTunes, and more indie label stuff is getting in there all the time (keep pushing for it, it will happen). Podcasting is currently free and abundant to jump start the market, but podcasts for a fee are coming, and soon I would guess from my tea leaf readings (as in no NDA's broken or bent, and I have no knowledge of Apple's private internal dealings, just the signs point to it). I think we're going to see major producer content (TV and movies) intro'd next week by Steve, and indie content should be able to get in later this year.
Welcome to the new game - forget getting theatrical distribution, get on Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes (or iVideo Store or whatever) for your little indie film. The next challenge beyond that is successful marketing, but this is not the blog for that.
For all my current clients fretting about a filmout? Prioritize, folks....
"With either 0 1 or 1 0 (also known as 10), any single disk can go down. However, if a second disk goes (which they often do if you don't take care to get different drives from different manufacturing batches), then with 0 1 there is a 2/3 chance you'll lose your data, whereas with 1 0 there is only a 1/3 chance.
This is because, in 0 1, if disk 1 and 4 go down then, although your data is theoretically still there in disks 2 and 3, the RAID system will only see a mirrored array where both sides of the mirror are broken, and thus claim all data is lost.
So do make sure you use 1 0, since the performace and capacity should be exactly the same as with 0 1. "
Read the rest from the link at top of article for the full scoop.
FujiFilm pre-announces recordable media for both HD-DVD and Blu Ray will be available in the middle of 2006.
...which should give you a clue as to the rough timeframe these things will be mass available in the US for burning.
LaCie has a bunch of stuff they'll be showing at MacWorld, such as small form factor hard drives, hotswap two bay SATA II enclosures with PCI-X SATA ports, and some other stuff.
Nothing that sings out to me as a great bang for the buck for HD editors and HD post.
Broadcomm is saying they'll have a chip that'll work for both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. The codecs are the same on both platforms, but the interactivity layer (software) is different between the two. So once chip to decode both is nice, but whether one or two laser assemblies will be required is another, since the two formats focus either shalow or deep with larger or smaller laser spots.
In the past, first gen devices that could decode competing formats cost nearly as much as one of each player - here's to hoping that we could just get one player and then just NOT WORRY about what kind of disc goes in if it'll just PLAY.
Still, it's dumb that we have two formats going into this - total VHS vs Beta all over again. I'm still gunning/hoping for Blu Ray, but we'll have to wait and see how it all plays out.
$12 PDF purportedly explains all about QT Pro features (haven't seen it myself).
-2 port cardbus SATA interface card (for laptops)
-USB 2.0/FireWire/SATA two disk enclosure
-and some other stuff.
The twenty are:
Sony's first movies will include: 'The Fifth Element', Bram Stoker's 'Dracula', 'Desperado', 'For a Few Dollars More', 'The Guns of Navarone', 'Hitch', 'House of Flying Daggers', 'A Knight's Tale', 'Kung Fu Hustle', 'The Last Waltz', 'Legends of the Fall', 'Resident Evil Apocalypse', 'Robocop', 'Sense and Sensibility', 'Stealth', 'Species', 'SWAT', 'XXX', 'Black Hawk Down' and 'The Bridge on the River Kwai'.
Gee, doesn't sound like a huge commitment to me - they are still feeling this thing out. A mix of old and new, and of the new, none of them recent blockbusters.
Oooooh....Species! Get excited!....not.
There's about four movies in there I'd be interested in seeing. This to me is an incredibly tepid launch. If they want this format to GO, they need to get some winer movies in there. House of Flying Daggers is the only one I personally would be really excited to see in HD.
All of this is Big Time Rumorville, as reported by Think Secret, NOT me. So according to them:
-Final Cut Pro 6 will be shown for first time (ship date unknown)
-FCP 6 expected to have native 5.1 audio editiing, native 1080p24 and 1080p30 DVCPROHD (it sort of does now already)
-DVD Studio Pro 5 supporting HD-DVD and Blu-Ray (and players will hopefully be shiping from the CE manufacturers -mike)
-Final Cut Extreme, a high end editor capable of 2K and 4K, $10,000, requiring absolutely top end equipment (Quad G5 with dual QuadroFX cards)
-new Xserve RAID extreme with dual Infiniband instead of fibre channel
I think this sounds very....optimistic, but I shall wait and see.
NAB is April 22-27 in Vegas.
Not cinematography material, but interesting/fun.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
As usual, first off, thanks so very much to Allan Barnwell and David Fry of Omega Broadcasting Group for being kind enough to loan one of their brand new, just-as-they-got-it models to us, with extra P2 cards and batteries. These guys do sales and rentals and should be on your potential vendor list.
First up is Luis Caffesse that I mentioned from Pitch Productions.
What follows is the write-up he sent me in it's entirety, unedited. I usually quote in italics, but that'd get boring to read.
So all below is his impressions of the camera:
First off, a quick summary about my experience so you have some idea where I'm coming from. I've been shooting and editing for the past 10 years, working as production director in both radio and TV. The last 5 years I've spent working on my own shooting local and regional commercials, corporate videos, as well as post work on both narrative and music video projects. The bulk of my shooting has been in DV, with a few projects here and there done in HD (both on HDCam and DVCProHD). I've shot extensively with the DVX100, and virtually every other 'prosumer' type cam out there. On the post end I've worked with both Avid on PC and FCP on the Mac. As of now 99.9% of my cutting is done on the Mac. A lot of my interest in this camera comes from it's tapeless workflow and ability to deliver numerous format options. Also, seeing as we didn't have the ideal setup for critical examination of the image, most of my time was spent examinging the efficiency and intuitiveness of the ergonomics and setting on the camera.
When Mike first asked if I wanted to come by and check out the camera he mentioned that I should try to get a hold of the manual. We couldn't find the manual online before the camera was delivered, but I wasn't too worried seeing as I figured the HVX would be very similar to the DVX. I assumed the manual would be overkill, and that we'd be able to figure out the cam no problem by just picking it up and fiddling around. Well, I was both right and wrong.
Upon seeing it out of the box my first thought was that it looked exactly like a DVX, just larger and fatter. Picking it up it felt very well balanced, much like a DVX but with a bit more mass. Personally I liked the feel of it, the added weight should help in making smoother handheld shots.
Just glancing over the layout of the controls I felt right at home. If you've ever shot with the DVX then you shouldn't have any problem figuring out where everything is. The major controls are all in the same place, with just a few minor layout changes (i.e. FireWire port is now near the back, the preset wheel is on the back left and recessed, etc). But all in all, the controls felt very familiar. It also felt much more robust than the DVX. I think I made Mike nervous at one point when I said the HVX felt like we could drop it on the floor without hurting it. Don't worry, we didn't test out that theory.
Flipping on the menu things again felt very familiar. The menu structure is exactly like the menu layout on the DVX (1. Scene File, 2. Camera Setup, etc). This is where things started getting interesting. Playing around with the menus it became clear that although the camera felt like a bigger DVX, it was actually much more complicated than that. There are quite a few different and new menu options, and I suddenly found myself referring to the manual that came with the camera quite often.
Menu navigation felt a little smoother than the DVX, if for no other reason than the buttons used to navigate the menu are more solid and easier to use. Luckily Panasonic did away with the little 'joystick' button we all grew to hate on the DVX (at least I know I did). It's a good thing they did too, because the menus on the HVX are a bit more extensive. I found myself having to scroll down whole pages of menu options in some cases. It would have b een great to have a 'page down' function in the menus, or to see a better structure to the submenus. But, I figure they wanted to keep the menu structure as close to the DVX as possible. So instead new menu options are lumped in with the old ones. This means that now the 'RECORDING SETUP' menu has about 3 pages worth of things to scroll through. It would be nice to see them break these up in future releases, maybe putting 'format options' in one menu and 'audio recording' options in a separate menu. This camera has so many different recording opportunities that it seems a bit crowded to put just about everything involving 'RECORDING' into one menu.
After fiddling with the menus a bit I got right to recording some clips. We had two 4GB P2 cards in the camera. I'll say that I never even stopped to think about the fact that I was shooting on P2. The beauty of tapeless recording only became clear to me when we switched over to DV tape for a minute. Seeing the tape transport pop open, waiting for the tape to load up, and then waiting for it to get up to speed to record really made me appreciate how robust and immediate P2 technology really is. While I'm glad Panasonic gave us the option to still shoot on DV tape, I really think that once anyone picks up this camera and shoots on P2 they will never open that tape transport again. After only about 15 minutes of shooting on P2, shooting on DV tape already seemed really archaic to me.
As a quick side note I should point out that both Mike and I were a bit impressed with how robust the P2 cards felt. Each came packaged in it's own case, just like a tape would. On top of that there are caps which protect the connectors. The cards themselves are surprisingly heavy for their size. "Fragile" is not a word I would ever use to describe these things. It really gave me the impression that if you dropped it you'd have nothing to worry about (of course Mike didn't want me to test that out, but I couldn't blame him for that). Other than the fact that they cost much more, I wouldn't feel like I had to be treat these things with any more care than you would a tape on set. In fact, they feel like they can take more abuse than a tape would.
When it came to shooting we shot a few short clips in every possible format. After taking a minute to wrap my head around all the menu options, it became pretty easy to switch from one format to another. Just like the DVX, the format options are all buried in the 'RECORDING SETUP' menu. While it would be nice to have control over the format with an on camera wheel or button, I guess it's just not feasible when you have that many choices. All in all, it's not that big a deal to go into the menu to switch recording formats, seeing as you probably won't be switching from 480 to 720 to 1080 in the middle of a shoot.
While recording it became apparent that Panasonic made a great choice by keeping the LCD on the HVX at 4:3 instead of opting for a 16:9 LCD design. When shooting 16:9 all the display information is laid out in the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen, so you always have a clear view of your entire shot edge to edge. I know that's a really simple idea, but it was a nice change not seeing my shot cluttered up by display information. The only thing which bothered me about the display was that by default it did not show you which format you were shooting in. It is possible to see additional info by hitting the 'DISPLAY' button on the side of the camera, but otherwise the information on the LCD all looked the same whether I was shooting 1080, 720, or 480. It may be possible to leave the format information on the LCD at all times, but it's not that way by default. I found myself double checking the format settings a few times until I became more comfortable with the camera.
Shooting in the various formats was straightforward, even though there are quite a few of them. It's only when trying to shoot variable framerates in 720 that things got a bit complicated. In order to overcrank or undercrank the camera you have to adjust the settings in TWO different menus on the HVX. First, in the "SCENE FILE" menu you must set the cam to "Film Cam" mode (as opposed to 'Video Cam' mode). Then you set your frame rate from one of the many options (12fps up to 60fps). Then you must exit that menu, and go down to your 'RECORDING SETUP' menu. In that menu you set your timebase - meaning what framerate you want the clip to play back at, either 720/24PN or 720/30PN (not to be confused with 720/24P, or 720/30P). This will tell the NLE to treat the clip as a 24fps or 30fps clip when imported into the computer.
The thing that bothered me about this was the need to go into not only one but TWO menu options. Shooting variable framerates is something that many people will want to do in the middle of a shoot, and it seems like there is a lot of opportunity for setting up the camera incorrectly when making these switches. With as much trouble as many seem to have already between 24P and 24PA on the DVX, the options on the HVX will definitely open the door to a lot of workflow mistakes. But, this shouldn't be taken as a slam against the camera itself. My point is that to properly use the HVX will take a bit of learning on the part of the shooter. This isn't just a point and shoot operation. Once I got it down I had no problems, but I did have to go back to the manual a few times before the logic of the variable frame shooting made sense to me. Expect to spend some time testing out your shooting modes with this camera.
If there was ever a reason to use the F1-F6 customizable preset wheel then variable frame speed shooting is it. It seems like the best thing to do if you plan on shooting slow/fast motion stuff is to set up your presets before the shoot. That way there would be no need to fiddle with the menus on set. Set up F1 as your "base" set up (either 1080/24P or 720/24P), and then use F2-F6 for your variable frame settings. That should help alleviate any menu missettings on set. Want to shoot 60P for 24fps playback? Just flip to F2, 12P? Just flip to F3. Proper set up and testing should make it painless. I just wouldn't leave those decisions for 'on set'
One thing that's really nice is that when shooting 60P for 24fps playback (720/24PN mode) the HVX will playback the footage at 24P. This means you can shoot, and then immediately watch your stuff in slow motion. Switching over to 'VCR' mode is nearly instantaneous, and the thumbnail view made it very easy to scroll through clips. The clip controls weren't completely obvious at first, but once you figure out the navigation it's amazing how quickly you can review shots. My only complaint on the thumbnail view is that it only allows for LEFT and RIGHT navigation when going from clip to clip. This means if you have to scroll through every thumbnail to get to the clip you want, instead of just scrolling up or down past entire rows of shots. Not a big deal, just a slight annoyance.
Shooting felt pretty much the same as the DVX, and if anything it was more comfortable. I quickly put the cam into manual mode (the controls are all in the same place as the DVX). The manual zoom felt a lot better than the ring on the DVX, it always felt too loose to me. The HVX zoom has a nice amount of tension on the ring, still fully manual but just tight enough to let you keep your fingers on the zoom ring without moving it. The manual focus ring felt about the same to me as a DVX does. The new "fat" iris wheel is a great little change. It's got a nice amount of resistance to it, and it's wide enough to control with your thumb without having to be in just the right spot to adjust it. All in all, I could hold the HVX exactly the way I hold a DVX and shoot. So once you get familiar with the menus and formats, the rest feels right at home.
Hooking up the cam to the computer took a quick check to the manual. It's not intuitive (it involves hooking up the cam and holding down the 'VCR/Cam' mode button for 2 seconds to get the cam to connect). Once we got that figured out the camera popped right up onto Mike's G5 as an external device. The LCD on the camera has a nice simple display to let you know if the cam is connected (see the pictures). Once we got the footage imported to FCP and played out to Mike's monitor one thing became clear (no pun intended)... FOCUS IS CRITICAL.
In my quick opinion, even with the focus assist feature the LCD screen cannot be trusted for focus on the HVX. The EVF seems much crisper, but until I become more familiar with this camera I wouldn't feel comfortable setting focus with anything other than an external production monitor. Nearly everything I shot seemed just a bit soft. Granted, we weren't shooting in the best of conditions (Mike could use some more lamps in his place), so we were shooting wide open the entire time. But I can't overstate it enough, FOCUS FOCUS FOCUS. Again, this isn't a critique on the camera - the only reason focus is so important is because we're not talking about DV resolution anymore. With great formats comes great responsibility - okay, maybe that's a bit much.... but you get the point. Focus.
Upon seeing the footage I was a bit surprised with the amount of mosquito noise we saw. Again, we weren't shooting in ideal conditions but the thing is you will always have shadows in your frame. The portions of the frame that were exposed well seemed very clean, but once something fell into shadow we saw quite a few 'dancing pixels.' All in all the amount of noise seemed pretty close to what you get at DV resolution on a DVX. So it's really nothing to worry about - people have been shooting great stuff with the DVX for years. But, I guess I was naively hoping for a miraculous 100% noise free image.
One of the only reasons I was really happy to see that addition of the DV tape drive on the camera was for the 720 downconverting dubbing function. Once again we had to dive into the manual to figure it out, but once we got it all set up correctly we were able to dub some of the 720/60P (at 24fps) slowmotion shots to DV tape. It took a little while to get it set up, but once we did it worked like a charm. The menu options in 'dubbing mode' are pretty extensive (see pictures), and the camera lets you choose your pulldown setting when dubbing 720/24P material to DV. So, you can choose either 24P or 24PA pulldown cadence. We went with 24PA, then quickly captured the DV material into FCP and were left with some smooth slowmotion anamorphic DV at true 24 frames per second. It's a nice option for any project shooting DV that might require variable frame speeds. Of course, to be able to do it you need to be able to record in 720 first...which begs the question why you would bother originating in DV...but it's a nice option to have. Though I haven't done any real critical side by side testing, the downcoverted footage didn't seem to be significantly better than what you would get from a DVX100a shooting anamorphic.
Overall I would say I was definitely impressed the capabilities of this camera. As a low cost HD camera it's going to be tough to beat. Many people have referred to it as a $6000 HD camera - which I think is a bit disingenuous. To really be able to capitalize on the functionality of the HVX you need to shoot to P2 or to an external drive solution like the upcoming Firestore or Cineporter drives (I don't think being tethered to a computer for capture is a very realistic solution for most people). That said, I would say this thing is definitely a contender to be my next camera. But personally I would say that if you're hoping to buy the HVX now and just shoot DV until you can afford to get some P2 cards or a hard drive for it then you're probably better of just getting a DVX. Buying this camera for DV only is like buying a Quad G5 because you need to be able to send email. The HVX is not just a 'big DVX' - it's similar enough to the DVX to get you up and running, but you'll quickly realize there is a whole lot more to this camera. If the HVX is the 'big brother' to the DVX (as a lot of people expected), then 'big brother' went to grad school and got a PhD while 'little brother' is still finishing high school. This camera is geared for DVCPro50 and DVCProHD shooting, it just so happens that it has a DV tape drive on it. I won't be surprised if the tape transport is gone in the next version of the camera.
Keep in mind these are all just first impressions after spending about 3 hours with the camera. One thing I know for certain is that after just the little bit of time I spent shooting tapeless - I don't ever want to see another tape again.
End Luis' comments.
Jarred Land of DVXUser.com dropped me a Happy New Year note and included a link to this article on frame rates with the HVX200. Now that it is finally on the market, it is time to start digging into it. I'll be picking up one to play with later today, but for starters I'll be reading this to get up to speed on all the modes.
For instance, frame rates available when shooting with 720p:
12, 18, 20,22,24,26,30,32,36,48, and 60 (probably 23.976 and 29.97 too, I just need to read more).
UPDATE - NOW that I've played with the camera a bit and had a chance to glance over this article, YES - READ THIS. They have done the hard work and have some lovely examples to show how it all works, so go read this article. But I agree with Frank's comments (in the comments link below) - what is considered really slomo for video guys is just getting into the slomo world for film. To me, slomo is in the hundreds of fps, not just 60. You could software extended (using predictive pixel vector stuff like Shake or Twixtor) to get 120 or 180 fps, but it would depend on your footage. Bouncing ball? Probably OK. Blowing leaves? Probably not. But their onscreen examples are extremely useful to instantly snap to how the functions work.
This article talks about capturing downconverted DV from an HDV source. This is a great way to do offline of your projects if you have a less powerful Mac, or want to offline in SD not HD.
Some HDV decks and camcorders are capable of playing an HDV tape and performing a down-convert of that signal, sending a DV signal out via FireWire. Final Cut Pro can capture this DV signal, but regular DV device control may not be appropriate in this capture scenario, because the tape transport mechanism is not really handling DV-formatted video on tape.
...and so forth. If you're thinking about working with HDV, read up on this. I recently had an editor go on at length about offlining HDV as DV, because of the additional processing required for HD instead of SD video. I said why not have a fast recent Mac, and he said, in essence, "not good enough" because the whole thing bogged down on large projects.
I wondered whether he was doing features in reels or all at once?
Worth further investigation, end diggression.
Further good quote from the Apple article:
If you use Capture Now and the preference is set to "Abort Capture" on timecode breaks, you'll have to attend to the process since the capture will stop after each timecode break. The upside of this method is that you will maintain original timecode, allowing you to re-capture later if desired.
If you use Capture Now and the preference is set to "Warn After Capture" on timecode breaks, you can capture the entire tape at once, but the timecode of the captured result may not match what is on tape. This will preclude the possibility of subsequent recapturing based on timecode.
...and that would be bad.
Anyway, all you HDV feature wannabes, read this article, good info.
Overview of the landscape of the changing scenarios going on with cable companies and movies. Making content that you hope gets picked up? Read this and think about how it would affect what you produce.
It is interesting how much the landscape is changing these days...smart cookies will adapt to the new models to optimize their chances of success...BEFORE they commit to a project.
Monday, January 02, 2006
I DID in fact take the trouble to annotate them all, then iPhoto crashed and I lost all my comments I'd typed in the Publish window. I was so irked I didn't retype. Well, too bad.
In any case, here's a bunch of pictures of the camera and the menus. Note the blue box in the middle of the viewfinder is the focus assist stuff, and that the thumbnail image screen on the camera shows a description of the format the clip was shot in at the bottom of the screen (even the logo changes for DVCPROHD vs DVCPRO50), and shows frame size and frame rate.
YES, I'll post some source clips as soon as I get some hosting issues resolved hopefully later this week.
OK, here's my first day's thoughts as I've just started working with the HVX200. I'll hopefully type up something more formal later, but below are my raw notes.
First off, MANY THANKS to David Fry and Allan Barnwell of Omega Broadcast Group for the generous loan of a stock HVX200 with a total of four 4GB P2 cards and two extra batteries for several days this week.
I'm not as up on the capabilities of this camera as I'd like to be before I started messing with it, and it quickly became apparent. This camera has DEPTH, there is a lot to it, you'll spend HOURS just doodling with the shooting modes and figuring out what frame sizes and frame rates you can shoot and what are the limitations under each, how to work with variable frame rate shooting modes (720p only), etc.
-LOTS of options
-people are going to be confused and shoot stuff that they regret they shot that way later
-there will be a market for help on this stuff
-so far in my LIMITED understanding Final Cut Pro support is good but not awe inspiring, unless I need to learn more about metadata support (was this shot P or I? for instance)
-getting it into FCP is cake - hook it up, set the mode correctly and plug it in
-DRIVERS ARE NECESSARY to get it to show up on Mac
-lots of little specific details to get right
-for the money, it's awfully nice
-image quality, especially low light performance - it's not replacing a Varicam anytime soon, but FOR THE MONEY it is a helluva deal
-as with most 1/3" HD camcorders, cramming a ton of pixel sensors onto a small area doesn't create the best low light performance. My completely non-scientific, haven't seen'em side by side gut vibe says that the Sony is likely to have better low light performance - shooting some stuff in my moderate to poorly lit house (time to change the halogens!), the shadows had a loooooot of grain...but I need to spend more time with camera before drawing any serious conclusions.
Many/most of the comments/observations are from Luis, if it is in quotes, it is something he said. Luis shoots with a DVX100A for local stuff, he's a one-man-band type of operation shooting DV and working with Final Cut Pro. He's quite familiar with the DVX100A from both a shooting and editing/posting perspective, and I asked him to come over and mess with it to get his opinion on it. I'll have other DoPs working with it over the next few days, and if I have time I'll write an overall review/summary of it. In classic "I ain't got no time to pretty it up" HD4NDs fashion, here are my raw notes. I mean, ahem, I prefer to get information out there as quickly as possible and sacrifice polish for immediacy.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THESE ARE MY INITIAL IMPRESSIONS, AS I TOOK THE CAMERA OUT OF THE BOX AND STARTED WORKING WITH IT with an experienced DVX100A shooter. I think it is valid to share/publish these thoughts and notes, since I figure it is similar to what other first time users will experience.
I'm sure I'll either add to this or have more to say as the week goes by, but here's what I've got for now.
I hope to hear back from Luis with his additional notes soon, too, I'll post those as well.
This was done using my Quad G5 with a BlackMagic Multibridge Extreme connected for viewing HD content via DVI on my Apple 23" monitor (mostly because I could).
RAW NOTES EXACTLY AS I TOOK'EM:
-surprising that the audio controls are buried in the menus (same as they are on the DVX)
-they've now added more options
-in general very much like the DVX - menu structure is exactly the same with added options to some menus
-"I've never seen this camera before and I feel like I know where everything is already"
-audio setups on the side are the same, the new buttons are the same
-some basics on the camera just holding it and checking it out:
-incredibly well balanced, definitely heftier than the DVX
-nice that the LCD viewer can bend out more than 90 degrees
-nice that the LCD flips around 180 degrees
-focus assist CAN be used while shooting, press the well located button and it runs for 10 seconds
-focus assist magnifies whatever is in the middle of the screen
-this sucker is going to be TOUGH for newbies (and experienced folk) to figure out. For GOD'S SAKE be sure you are shooting the mode you want! We wanted to shoot 60fps for 24fps playback (slomo) of me scaring Girl Kitty (Hey, all in the name of science, right?), but instead we shot 24fps playback for 60fps playback (I think), so we'll see what it get. Instead of slomo, we'll have speedup. Undercrank vs. overcrank.
Based on that kind of stuff, this is probably the most complicated (or feature rich, depending on your view) camera under $10K.
For instance -
you've got Scene File to set overall
-you can only set the frame rate when in Film Cam Mode: you can only over/undercrank when in Film Cam Mode.
-can't over/undercrank in 1080p (variable frame rates only available in 720p mode)
-IN ORDER TO RECORD OVER/UNDERCRANK - you need to
"Using the Record Format (P2) function, on the Recording Setup screen, select 720/30PN or 720/24PN as the recording format." ...to shoot variable frame rates (p.35 of the manual - the variable framerate section starts on P.34)
-WTF does the N stands for? N denotes Native?
-can't change frame rates while recording, thus no ramping like the Varicam does
-Cineporter connects via P2, so it is a virtual P2 card (in theory), as opposed to the Focus Enhancements product, which connects via FireWire (and gets 3:2 pulldown or flagged frames added). So in theory, the Cineporter will be the way to go
-in the VCR mode, you have to use the side to side buttons to nav the clips, can't use up and down - kinda annoying.
-I was going to copy and paste snippets of text, but the PDF is password protected to prevent copying and pasting
-connect camera to Mac AFTER Mac is on
-camera may not be recognized after sleep
-"It's as if the tape transport doesn't even exist when you're in P2 mode" - Luis
-"People are really gonna....mess this up." (insert appropriate word in that pause)
-"It's gonna be a nightmare for a lot of post houses." just in terms of complexity, much the same way the Varicam works.
-when powered down (or in VCR mode, basically when not in camera mode), it makes the same thunky clicky sound as the DVX100A - this is the image stabilization doohickey flopping around inside - THIS IS NORMAL, freak not.
-you have to power the camera OFF in order to switch between P2 and camera - baiscally rebooting the camera between modes
-this camera is DEEP - you thought your regular, 29.97 DV camera had options? This goes waaaaaaaaaaaaay beyond that. If you want to do anything more than the point & shoot DV basics, you'll need to plan some serious time with the camera to figure it out and get at the features you want. Without commenting on the efficacy of the camera, the large variety of options available is daunting, and there are multiple components to Getting It Right when trying to do something specific.
-the FORMAT handles 4 channels of audio, but there are two XLR and two Line In inputs, but I don't know if they can all be hot
-dubbing function (from HD to SD on DV) "is NOT intuitive." can't dub 1080 footage to DV, only 720
-"I'm surprised at how needed the manual is" -this from an experienced DVX100A user
-low light performance - noisier in low light - "shouldn't be a surprise, I was just hoping it was a lot cleaner. Keeping in mind it's a $6000 camera, it is leaps and bounds ahead of anything we've seen up to this point...as a $6000 camera it is impressive, it is more realistically a $7000-$10,000 to be a usable"
-don't hotswap the FireWire - you gotta shut it down to get it in camera mode
-file importing - File-Import-P2 works just fine, you even get little preview icons - nice!
-2GB reported it would take about 4 minutes to import over FireWire, I didn't stopwatch it or anything
-it appears that Macs are to use FireWire400 and Windows to use USB 2.0, I don't know how rigid that is
things to try I haven't yet:
-record live out the analog to DVCPRO HD at same time as camera does (just to see the difference, uncompressed would be good but I don't have the fibre channel RAID here)
-live out the FireWire while shooting?
-try to connect directly to a drive - p. 84 in the manual
end of notes
I'm sure I'll have more to add (and Luis too), just wanted to start with this. More coming, don't worry, it'll just take some time to doodle with it and get more info out there.
There's a bunch of stuff we doodled with that I didn't take notes on, but not-as-impressive-as-we'd-hoped low light performance was one of the biggies - for the documentary crowd that is intending to deliver SD assets, that alone might knock this camera out of contention (aside from the high cost of P2 cards at this time, of course).
macosXrumors.com: news and rumors related to Mac OS X and Apple
It's more than just tea leaf reading, I'm really expecting Apple to announce a video service that will involve using your iDisk as a cache for purchasable downloadable movies. (There as a link to this back in December).
It's a comin'.
I'm also predicting MacIntel systems to be announced but not shipped at MWSF based on more recent info (tea leaf reading, but darn strong evidence).
The article I'm linking to at the top talks about 1TB download limits per month for iDisk.
UPDATE 6:05PM CST: Apple pulled the change, making me think it might have been a woopsie-posted-to-early kind of a thing (like the ATI/G5 fiasco a few years ago), further supporting the idea that it shouldn't have been rolled out until MWSF next week. See here for screenshot of what it did say.
And did I mention that I am, after all, going to be at MWSF this year?
-11ms response time (this is kinda meaningless since they all measure differently)
-700:1 claimed contrast ratio
-claimed 400 CD/m2 brightness
I'm seriously thinking of getting one of these, in part to see the 2K output from my BlackMagic Multibridge Extreme.
price still unknown
Somebody got hands on. I'm not going to read it, since I have my own (OK loaner from Omega Broadcast Group, thanks Allan and David!) to start reading up on. But you folks go right ahead.
A nice, simple, concise description of the business that theater chains are REALLY in. Showing movies is their #2 profit source.
is the order of ops.
Read this to get a better understanding of what you're up against when you try to pitch/sell your movie.
...and they like it.
The G5 Quad will give graphics professionals the power they need to produce large-scale output on increasingly short deadlines. For anyone other than graphics or video professionals, this system is probably overkill...
The Quad G5 got the highest score we've ever seen on the CPU-stressing CineBench rendering test: 1,104. The Pentium EE840 overclocked to 3.6 GHz recently got a 667, and an Athlon 64 4800+ overclocked to 2.7 GHz scored 775. CineBench is a multithreaded app, so the more cores or threads your system can handle, the more efficiently your workload gets done.
No huge new news, but a coupla good tidbits.
Apple press piece on how their app (Shake) was used to composite over 2000 shots for King Kong. I didn't know Weta used it THAT extensively! Although I'm sure they have it hot rodded all to death.
A bit of a misnomer - it can be done, but he walks through the steps involved.
He captures over FireWire, as well as through a Multibridge using the analog outputs of the camera (AFTER it has been recorded to HDV). Oh, and he captures to both DVCPRO HD as well as uncompressed over the analog feeds.
The only time uncompressed over analog offers a possible image quality improvement is when shooting live, skipping HDV compression.
But a good read, and includes a link to a good little gadget to convert LANC to RS422 deck control for $150 from Addenda (the RS-4/L), I may need to pick one of those up.