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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.
Friday, June 30, 2006
Sony's got a VAIO with a Blu Ray burner, but it ain't all Skittles 'n Beer over there: Edward C. Baig: Personal Tech - Vaio may be first out of the Blu-ray box, but it has maddening glitches - Yahoo! News
HDBlog.net � Blog Archive � Plextor Launches BD PC Drive: "Blu-ray may be behind when it comes to selling stand-alone players, but there seems to be a lot of manufacturers making Blu-ray recorders for computers. Plextor has announced their PX-B900A BD writer. The PX-B900A can write BD-R and re-write BD-RE discs at 2x speed. It%u2019ll write up to 25GB on a single layer disc and up to 50GB on dual-layer discs.
Not only is it a dual-layer BD burner, but it does dual-layer DVD discs as well. It combines the DVD /-R/RW and RAM formats into one. Write speeds are 2x BD-R/BD-RE, 8x DVD R/-R/ RW, 6x DVD-RW, 4x DVD R/-R DL, 5x DVD-RAM, 24x CD-R and 16x CD-RW.
The Plextor PX-B900A BD writer will be available in September or October."
DigitalBattle � Blog Archive � Blu-ray & HD-DVD Hybrid: "Samsung and Toshiba have joined forces to end the format wars for good. They are releasing a hybrid player that plays both Blu-ray and HD-DVD formats. But that%u2019s not all! Sony and NEC are also releasing a dual-format player of Blu-ray and HD-DVD. This is back-up for Sony, since they did lose miserably with Betamax."
Mitsubishi's 30GB dual-layer HD DVD-R media ready in July - Engadget
DV.com on authoring HD DVD vs Blu Ray discs - discusses the very basics of the formats, then dives into some details about what the interactivity and authoring issues will be. Ends on a bit of a downer note about the difficulty of creating complex interactive titles for these formats, but let's face it - I'm guessing 90-95% of the high def DVD content released in the next two years will pretty much be just like regular DVDs, just higher definition and perhaps with cooler menu stuff.
For indies, DVD Studio Pro already supports the HD DVD 1.0 spec. The Blu Ray 1.0 spec has only recently been finalized (and I'm presuming that because there are players and discs shipping), but DVD SP doesn't support that yet. Perplexing, since Steve Jobs said, with the head of Sony on stage, that we'd be able to author to Blu Ray last year....
Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray Player - extensive review of the first shipping Blu Ray player. At $1000, it boots faster than the first HD DVD player, responds faster to button input, but still takes half a minute (vs 45 sec on the HD DVD player) to power up and get a disc playing. Crappy/flimsy remote on this unit, too - attention manufacturers - if you're going to charge premium pricing for first round hardware, you'd damn well better make quality feeling components if you want to get any kind of market penetration. And while we're at it, HEY STUDIOS - how about some premium content to get us over to this format? 50 First Dates, xXx, etc. ain't gonna cut it! How much better do you think these players would sell if the Star Wars movies, War of the Worlds, Indiana Jones, Gone With The Wind, Wizard of Oz, etc. were released in high definition. But I digress. Anyway, based on this review, I'd STILL say hold off until some better built, better performing, more affordable units hit the market.
HDBlog.net � Blog Archive � Blu-ray Launch Tepid - headline says it all.
Pioneer BDR-101A Blu-Ray Drive Preview - this is the first (soon to be) commercially available Blu Ray burner for computers. They do a big geek out on it and delve into the details of it for use on PCs, no Mac commentary I saw unfortunately.
HDBlog.net � Blog Archive � JVC%u2019s New High-Speed LCD TVs that run at 120 Hz rather than 60Hz. It doesn't mention it, but I wonder if part of this is to run 24fps at quintuple flash, so there's no 3:2 pulldown? This would be killer for 24p high def movies. Not 1080p res, but I could see that coming down the road. The ultimate display? 1080p, triple or more flashed 24p, etc. Actually, come to think of it, you could sync it with glasses for 3D displays a la the way some modern 3D theatrical displays do with a pattern -
frame 1 - LRLRL
frame 2 - RLRLR
frame 3 - LRLRL
frame 4 - RLRLR
etc.....L=left eye image, R=right eye image. Just need active glasses and a synchronizer timer on top of the set...
Everything you ever, ever, every wanted to know about NVidia's PureVideo HD technology, which is how they're going to play protected HD content on computers with hardware decoding. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
In short, to get it all to work, you'll need a PureVideo HD capable graphics card, PureVideo HD software, and a PureVideo HD approved drive to use their way of handling HD content. Eeeyikes! Yet MORE barriers to HD content adoption! I still think the content owners may have nearly killed the format and/or its adoption by locking down the content to the point of having to buy a new computer to watch this stuff, and the two competing standards could be the coffin nails in terms of mass consumer adoption. It'll take YEARS for all this to straighten out into an affordable, one clear standard world.
Samsung does NOT plan on releasing a HD DVD/Blu-ray combo player - HD Beat - so they're out...at least for now. A combo unit is, frankly, the only safe choice at this point.
HDBlog.net � Blog Archive � Panasonic Announces Blu-ray DateSamsung: now. Philips: 3rd quarter 2006. Pioneer: September or so. Sony: currently scheduled for October.
I used to say that Panasonic was going to release their BD player in November or so, but now we know that the actual date (if Panasonic can hold a promise) is September.
Toshiba Wants Combo HD Player - Gizmodo:Toshiba president Atsutoshi Nishida weighed in today with his opinion on a dual-format HD DVD/Blu-ray player, joining the chorus of other manufacturers who have edged ever closer to a unified format for high definition DVDs. Nishida said to an annual shareholders meeting:%u201CWe have not given up on a unified format. We would like to seek ways for unifying the standards if opportunities arise."
OK, Peace Out and Whatnot - time for a beer, it's a quarter to five on a Friday...ya'all have fun and/or be good this weekend, see you soon.
Adobe released an 8kb file that will let you acquire and edit 24F Canon XL H1 footage. Excellent! More support is always good.
OK, Apple: YOUR TURN!
While I strongly advocate using Final Cut Pro over Final Cut Express, hey, it is what it is. Can you import a FCE v3.5 project into FCP 5.1.x? I don't know, I think so but am not positive - anybody know for sure? Send a confirming link if you can.
Anyway, three big new features in this version:
1.) Universal Binary - you can run it natively on your Intel based Mac (including, officially, MacBooks)
2.) Dynamic RT - more realtime stuff, as it can vary the video quality and frame rate to degrade gracefully on the fly if the system isn't fast enough for what you're trying
3.) Keyframing - you can keyframe effects now, couldn't before
Also includes Soundtrack, a cutdown version of Soundtrack Pro, and LiveType 2.1, which is the same exact version you'd get with Final Cut Studio, so that's a deal.
My advice: if you're on a SUPER tight budget and only doing DV or HDV, this is a possible option, just know that you're dealing with a cut down version of the software. Industrial/corporate videos, wedding videos, stuff like that? Sure. Indie features? STRONLY recommend the Big setup with Final Cut Pro.
Not exactly HD news, but certainly falls into the Of Interest category - Toast is something I use regularly, and love it. Intel native GOOD! I'm downloading my upgrade right after I hit Post on this...
More info from their site:
Previewing Apple Lossless audio files in Audio CD format no longer causes a -50 error.
Resolves QuickTime Movie video export issues - related to the QuickTime 7.1 update.
Resolves menu button highlight issues on Toast authored DVD-Video discs - related to the Mac OS 10.4.6 update.
Canceling the User Authentication step during the Toast Setup Assistant no longer causes a -60007 error.
The rename file field now moves correctly during scrolling up and down.
The content window no longer incorrectly scrolls when no horizontal scrollbar is displayed.
Resolves issues related to invalid characters in Mac Only, Mac & PC, and DVD-ROM UDF formats.
Resolves issues related to Music DVDs - audio playing back too slowly and static sound with some files at higher quality settings.
Resolves issues related to AppleScript - script was causing a -43 error.
Media Browser now correctly parses a YesVideo DVD with still images.
Includes an updated version of Deja Vu which preserves existing symlinks.
There are 4 different ways to get XDCAM HD footage into your Final Cut Pro edit:
Flip4Mac's XDCAM v2 plugin, $500 (also can encode back to XDCAM disc with their FlipFactory HD)
It's $500 but it's out NOW and working. Works with SD AND HD XDCAM HD content, but 1080i50 and 1080i60 only (maybe will change shortly with 1080p24 HDV support coming out last week).
PROS: Works, available, free demo is out there
CONS: But 25mbit only, 25mbit 1080i50 and 1080i60 only according to their website, no 24p, no 18 or 35mbit VBR support, $500 with free alternative due imminently - are there any functional advantages? I don't know yet
Sony's about-to-be-released free plugin (no link yet, sounds like mid-July):
-FREE as in beer, supports 1080p24, 1080i50, 1080i60, even VFR (variable frame rate)
-again only 25 mbit, so no 18 or 35 mbit VBR (variable bitrate)
PROS: free, handles the maximum number of formats natively
CONS: not out yet, no 18/35VBR support
Over HD-SDI without deck control from camera
This is what we did at the Texas HD Shootout - queued up shots on the XDCAM HD disc and played out the HD-SDI and captured uncompressed via an HD-SDI capture card to a SATA RAID. It works, it's good quality, but highly space inefficient - you get 130 MB/sec files instead of 3.6 MB/sec files with the same kind of image quality (in theory, will double check when I can, but differences should be pretty minor)
PROS: works right now for ANY shooting mode (except VFR) if you have the disk array (for uncompressed, could use DVCPRO HD also), so don't have to worry about 35mbit (which is what I'd shoot on anyway)
CONS: requires substantial additional hardware, makes HUGE files, no timecode in, makes HUGE files, 3:2 pulldown removal requires other tools (like After Effects) to do it
Over HD-SDI from camera (or deck) with FireWire deck control
I talked to Joe from Sony at the event he was extremely helpful and knowledgeable, he told me about then sent me this info:
Re: i.LINK (AKA Firewire or IEEE1394) modes.
FAM (File Access Mode)
This lets you access the XDCAM Professional Disc like a hard drive or a rewritable CD drive. You will see the directory structure and all files. You can drag and drop files to and from the Professional Disc with the appropriate tools. This includes standard Windows or OSX tools as well as specific applications. NOTE: There are restrictions on what you can drag to the disc. There are no restrictions on the General folder.
This lets you access the Audio-Video material on the Professional Disc as streaming media and you can control the media as though it were a DVCAM VTR. The Audio and Video are formatted to conform to DVCAM specifications. This means that the output is downconverted to standard definition video with either 2 channel 16 bit audio or 4 channel 12 bit audio.
At the show you asked if it is possible to output HDSDI video and audio with Firewire control. To accomplish this, you must put the i.LINK connection into the AV/C mode so you can control the deck using the i.LINK (Firewire) port. You would take the Video with embedded audio out of the HDSDI port. Audio is also available separately from the audio monitor port.
....then you'd just need to make a custom capture preset so that deck control is FireWire (as if were DVCAM), but audio and video come over HD-SDI. He then continued:
Re: 24P output formats
Both the camera and deck can record 24P video. The recording is a true 23.98 Frame per Second progressive recording. 3:2 pulldown is never recorded on the disc in HD formats. There are two playout modes for 24P material. These are menu items on the deck. The camera only support one of the playout modes:
24P played out as 24PsF, i.e., true progressive playout.
If this mode is active then SD output is muted since 24P is not defined for SD video.
Only the PDW-F30 and PDW-F70 decks are capable of this mode.
The PDW-F70 has HDSDI and Component Analog HD outputs that support this mode.
The PDW-F30 has Component Analog HD output that supports this mode.
The PDW-F350 and PDW-F330 do not support this mode.
24P played out as 60i with 3:2 pulldown added.
All XDCAM HD equipment is capable of this mode.
If this mode is active then SD output on all SD ports have 3:2 pulldown.
The PDW-F350 and PDW-F330 have the following SD ports: Composite and i.LINK.
The PDW-F70 has the following SD outputs: Composite, SDI, and i.LINK.
The PDW-F30 has the following SD outputs: Composite and i.LINK.
The HD output will match the SD output and run in 60i mode with 3:2 pulldown added.
...so I take that this way: from the CAMERA you CAN play 24p footage back and capture it over HD-SDI, but it's 24p on 60i, so you'd need to use CinemaTools to remove 3:2 pulldown.
PROS & CONS: same as for HD-SDI capture above, but now you have timecode, so CinemaTools is an option for 3:2 pulldown removal, so long as files aren't bigger than 9GB (limitation of CinemaTools).
From the DECK you can capture as true 24PsF...but who wants to buy the deck unless they have to unless you're a post house or can't keep the deck around for capture?
Oh, and there is a fifth option - if you have the deck, I'm betting it has standard nine pin deck control so you could do that...
Crippled demo (puts a stripe through it), but hey! There's a DPX QT component out there, handy...
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Studio Daily | Technology | New Gear
Sorry so late posting this one - Steve Gibby, very knowledgeable and experienced shooter, posted his Cool List from CineGear, including a little bit of news about RED.
-Anton/Bauer Elipz system - handles, light and battery for small DVCPRO HD, DV, and HDV camcorders
-ARRIFLEX 416 S16 film camera - was shown at NAB, Steve talks about why it is so nice
-AX2 Parallax Scanning Adaptor - I still don't quite get what this does for you
-Cooke S4/i lense - has readouts of your precise settings, I think that data is recordable (boy, THAT would be handy for digital FX work!)
-Innovision Bird's Eye Camera support - let's you get tall shots in non-crane locations, is cheaper too
-update on RED camera - still on track for stated dates, black model shown, radically different "shoot from the hip" gun thing shown since NAB, and IBC in September is the goal to show 4K footage. I'm pretty sure I'll be there.
CinemaTech: Front Page WSJ Story on YouTube
Good stuff, as always, from Scott.
OH, and I found this via Scott Kirsner's CinemaTech blog, and here's some more of his stuff on The Man of Steel.
Buncha plugins to repair damaged footage, minimize compression artifacts, fix dead pixels, noise reduce footage.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
So here's the quickie scoop on XDCAM HD & FCP stuff:
-25mbit only - 18/35 in progress, not yet
-1080p24 IS included, as well as 1080i60 and 1080i50
-FREE Sony software
-supposedly available now/real soon, but link I found doesn't work
-NO Canon 24F or JVC 24p support at this time, they're working on it
-for 18 or 35mbit, you CAN use FireWire deck control (put camera in AVC mode, that's Audio Video Control something or other, not Advanced Video Codec), then capture over HD-SDI - so FireWire deck control, HD-SDI ingest
-when doing that HD-SDI capture, the CAMERA kicks out 24p as 1080p24on60i, the DECK kicks out a true 1080psf (Sony style 1080p) - so that's an advantage of the deck
Thursday Update - it'll be interesting to see if the Flip4Mac software offers any advantages over Sony's, other than the fact that as of right now, the Sony software isn't available yet (where is it!!???!!). I could see Flip4Mac dropping their price in the next month. It is tough to compete with free. I found out Greg Boston, who was at the Texas HD Shootout, now owns the camera that we had there and is a few hours drive away, so I'll probably collaborate with him to check out the plugin.
Full notes below, probably more good stuff, too tired to glean'em right now:
got here late, looks like they have a Sony 4K projector running...Woooooow
1/2 million Final Cut (all versions) seats out there
got installs - ABC, NBC, CBS, fox, CNN, etc.
Disney, Dreamworks, Fox, paramount, Unviersal, WB have all cut major features w/FCP
FCP 5.1 shipping,
-FCP no longer standalone
-MacBook Pros are 2.5x faster than Powerbooks
-OK, it's official -XDCAM HD native editing is listed
-"touch the video as little as possible"
-only one version of FCP - not a bunch of steps
Native XDCAM HD suprt
requires FCS 5.1.1
Sony XDCAM transfer software
1080i50/60, 1080p24, and VFR
-24mbit CBR (not 35)
BTW - the projector looks FANTASTIC - tack sharp and good! It's the high end Sony 4K monster
-over 600 customizable commands and tools (hey - make the stuff a button or key command!) in FCP
-can add shots to a multicam clip at any time - handy!
-"works with MacBook Pro DVI output" - so maybe that Dig. Cinema Desktop for MacBook? No?
-Fincher uses a 65" plasma monitor using Digital Cinema Desktop
-Compressor - ask about the green sparklies? Play w/5.1.1
-HEY - can install Compressor nodes at no additional charge!
-Import-Sony XDCAM menu
-launches the external app
-you get visual preview of all your shots, each clip is read off the disc, can do an offline logging session
-pop in the cartridge, then you go online
-on left side you ahve a list of discs have worked with or are installed,
-on top are thumbnails
-on bottom is picture preview, transport controls, on bottom right list of all metadata associated w/clips
-go go into a previewed clip and mark In and Outs, then click the Plus button and it'll add that to the queue to be imported
-on the preview clip itself, it puts a little IN/OUT text on each clip's preview so you can telll when they've been set
-the little window on the lower right shows q'd per shot
-you can Sort By Subclips and it'll put all the marked stuff up front
-there's a checkbox for importing to FCP
-get a little queue of these working
-the dock icon shows how many shots left to pull in
-shots appear in your bins in FCP as they are sent from the Sony app
-how fast is importing? Dunno
-realtime XDCAM HD cross dissolve
-on MacBook Pro, XDCAM HD plays back realtime, even with a 3way color corrector (auto balance and saturation adjusted)
-can save color corrections as favorite then drag & drop to other clips, even in bulk
-could also do a two HD shot composite (PIP essentially)
-playing multiple clips, it drops to 1/2 rate with 2 or 3 clips, with six clips it is 1/4 frame rate, but snaps right back to full speed when you get back to a single clip
-realtime Motion performance, playing back XDCAM HD shot, adding filters that play back realtime....wow, it's pretty impressive off the MacBook Pro!
-can leave the clip looping and playing while you mess around with settings
-saving settings as a favorite is POWERFUL - can do batch stuff!
-any way to get Motion to do that? Could be done for pulldown stuff? Get Graeme to write Motion plugin?
-CAN export back to Sony XDCAM HD
-has to conform for a GOP structure, then writes it to disk, so expect it to take just as long as HDV conforming as well
-Shake now $499
-working on it
-can create disc images of the XDCAM HD discs on the computer and access it as such
-loading previews of clips takes a few seconds per shot in general
-keyboard commands are all the same as FCP keystrokes
-on import, writing files to your designated folder (set in Sony app not FCP)
-Canon and JVC - not yet, in testing and stuff
-within a week for Greg's question
-plugin in theory available now
-Q: edit w/low res proxies and relink? A: no, not at this time, and not much benefit to doing so
-OH! and this connects via FireWire to transfer data, not GigE
-faster than realtime import, 3-3.5X realtime
-but anywhere from 1.5-3.5 times faster than realtime
-frame accumulation can work with time lapse
-Aurora Borealis shots were done with time lapse with frame accumulation
-in frame accumulation form 2-64 frames
-2, 3, 4, 8, 16, 32, or 64 frames
-YES you can get FireWire deck control for HD-SDI input (decks or cameras or both?)
-undercranking is 4fps, timelapse starts at 1fps
-firmware upgradeability? upgrade by memory stick (and that works now)
-the H264 based stuff is destined to be consumer only according to Sony rep
-XDCAM uses MPEG-4 for the proxies
-35mbit MPEG-2 with current chipset does better than anything around that bitrate according to Sony guy....I sincerely don't believe that, since the Canon looked better to my & Adam Wilt's eye
Questions to ask:
-green sparklies when 10 bit converting in Compressor?
-XDCAM HD - what about 18/35 mbit - when? no comment, working on it
-how does VFR (variable frame rate) work? not asked
-does Apple plan on supporting 18&35 mbit?
-saw the 1080p24 HDV codec, so does that mean Canon XL H1 24F support?
working on it
-what about JVC GY-HD100U 24p support?
working on it
-720p25 support? not asked
-back to XDCAM HD conforming - same time as HDV?
Shake - end of developmental life?
-JVC & Canon 24p & 24F HDV support in this version? NO
-when's plugin ship? supposedly now, but can't find it
End notes. Must crash. More tomorrow, including comments on Superman Returns.
(and new Unity version, more on that later, gotta go, but here's MacNN's coverage of Xpress Pro 5.5 release.)
XPress Pro 5.5 adds XDCAM HD (I incorrectly stated Canon 24F yesterday) support and has HVX200 DVCPRO HD support (might have had that already, but certainly has it now). Supports Varicam footage, supports DVI monitoring and full screen previewing. XDCAM HD is FireWire on PC, FTP on Mac, 25 mbit CBR only.
Mojo SDI is a FireWire connected external box that gives standard def only (no HD) SDI, component, etc. connectors for standard def gear. Think of it as Avid's answer to the AJA Io, but with some acceleration benefits as well, such as DNxHD processing.
DS Nitris 8.0 offers RGB 4:4:4 support and is the big gun for finishing work. Big new features are dual link HD-SDI for RGB 4:4:4, 720p50 support for Euro work, and support for Unity ISIS (network SAN shared storage stuff).
In a hurry getting ready to leave for Dallas, so here's the press release:
Company meets demand for HD on the Mac, increased format support and
connectivity for independent professionals
TEWKSBURY, Mass.--June 28, 2006--Avid Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:
AVID) today announced the worldwide availability of version 5.5 of its
Avid Xpress(R) Pro software as well as the newest member in Avid's
line of Digital Nonlinear Accelerator(TM) products, Avid Mojo(TM) SDI.
Avid Xpress Pro version 5.5 delivers HD capabilities for both Mac and
Windows-based systems. Avid Mojo SDI, which works seamlessly with Avid
Xpress Pro and Media Composer(R) software, provides high-quality,
advanced analog and digital SDI (Serial Digital Interface) I/O
connections for professional video and audio projects.
"I'm thrilled that Avid is delivering Avid Xpress Pro on the Mac,
especially all of the HD features. The company has really stepped
things up with this release," said Tim Bird of Blast Editorial
Services, LLC who specializes in documentary and high-end corporate
video work and who beta-tested Avid Xpress Pro v 5.5 and Avid Mojo
SDI. "We are an all-Mac shop and it's great to have the confidence
that our preferred OS will work seamlessly with our editing software
of choice. The performance and feature set of this version of Avid
Xpress Pro is remarkable and Avid Mojo SDI provides such robust
Avid Xpress Pro 5.5
The Avid Xpress Pro 5.5 software offers professional video, audio,
film, effects, and encoding tools - plus custom music creation
software - for both Mac and PC platforms in a single box. The software
supports native HDV and DVCPRO HD for acquisition, editing, and
output; real-time effects and 2:3 pulldown insertion over FireWire(R);
and Avid DNxHD(TM) encoding to create effects, transitions, and titles
with uncompromised image quality. Avid's unique Open Timeline enables
users to mix HDV, DVCPRO HD, and Avid DNxHD formats with SD and DV
media in the same timeline in real-time, eliminating the
time-consuming process of incorporating media from multiple sources
into a single project.
Avid Mojo SDI
Avid Mojo SDI is a portable, advanced analog and digital SDI I/O
device with high-quality professional video and audio connections
supporting most professional decks and cameras. Connecting to any Mac
or PC via FireWire, the Avid Mojo SDI Digital Nonlinear Accelerator
offers the same analog connectivity of Avid Mojo, but adds SDI I/O and
AES/EBU digital audio I/O to expand Avid Xpress Pro solutions to work
with mastering-quality SD cameras and decks. It is available for both
Avid Xpress Pro and Media Composer software.
"Independent video and film professionals now have more features
than ever with this release of Avid Xpress Pro and Avid Mojo SDI,"
said Patrick McLean, senior product manager for Avid. "No other vendor
is able to offer such powerful content creation tools and connectivity
options on both the Mac and PC platform, all backed up by Avid's
industry leading media management. Whether it's support for various HD
formats, multi-cam support with simultaneous playback for real-time
editing, or support for new tapeless workflows and formats, our
customers can now do it all on the platform of their choice - or even
both if they choose."
Pricing and Availability
Both the Avid Xpress Pro and Avid Mojo SDI systems, including
upgrades for existing customers, are available now through Avid's
worldwide reseller channel or online at www.avidstore.com. Avid Xpress
Pro software 5.5 is priced at $1,695 USMSRP and Avid Mojo SDI is
priced at $2,495 USMSRP. Existing Avid Xpress Pro v4 or v5 customers
can upgrade to Avid Xpress Pro v5.5 for just $49.95 by download at
And here's the DS Nitris press release:
New version offers 4:4:4 HD-RGB format support
for high-resolution workflows
TEWKSBURY, Mass.--June 28, 2006--Avid Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:
AVID) today announced the worldwide availability of the Avid(R) DS
Nitris(TM) 8.0 system, which offers a native 64-bit software
architecture and dual-link I/O hardware to support high-resolution and
digital intermediate (DI) workflows. The new version also ships with
dual-boot capability, allowing editors to use either the DS or
Symphony(TM) toolset with the Avid Nitris hardware. Avid also
announced the availability of the Avid DS Assist Station(TM), a
software-only version of the Avid DS 8.0 toolset that customers can
deploy on lower-cost workstations to tackle specialized tasks such as
rotoscoping, compositing, and conform checks.
"The 4:4:4 HD-RGB log format is valuable for our work because it
provides better color accuracy than 4:2:2 HD linear when moving from
film negative to digital post production and back," said Matt
Schneider, director of technology at PostWorks New York. "We do a
significant amount of 2K digital intermediates, but with 4:4:4 HD-RGB
support and expanded memory in version 8.0 of Avid DS Nitris, we have
an attractive alternative to 2K that is a good fit for many projects.
We can now input HD-RGB directly to Avid DS Nitris from our film
scanner. PostWorks has always been a big fan of Avid DS Nitris and
this release takes the system to the next level. By the end of the
year, we plan to add three additional DI pipelines built around the
expanded capabilities of Avid DS Nitris."
Matt Feury, senior product marketing manager at Avid added, "Our
television and film finishing customers are an extremely dedicated
user base who swear by the Avid DS Nitris toolset and its ability to
help them work faster and more creatively on the hi-res,
bandwidth-intensive projects they face every day. More importantly,
they have been anticipating the arrival of advanced workflow features
in the system - and Avid DS Nitris 8.0 delivers. By adding HD-RGB
support, we've significantly advanced the system's capabilities to
support the unique finishing needs of an online community that
continues to blaze new paths in HD, 2K and even 4K post production
workflows. With a powerful feature set for demanding HD and DI
projects - we believe that Avid DS Nitris will have a huge impact
across the primetime television and digital film finishing markets we
New Features for Avid DS Nitris 8.0
With real-time, multi-stream, 10-bit HD performance, a deep
creative toolset, and expanded hardware, Avid DS Nitris 8.0 is the
ultimate editing and finishing system for SD, HD and 2K/4K DI work.
Highlights of the new system include:
-- Dual-link HD-SDI connectivity - offering new integrated I/O
hardware that provides the necessary bandwidth for capturing
and editing 4:4:4 HD-RGB formats, such as HDCAM SR.
-- Dual-boot capability - expanding the flexibility of HD
finishing options by allowing editors to run either Symphony
or Avid DS software on the same system.
-- Native 64-bit system and software support - leveraging the
advantages of workstations that feature 64-bit processors for
faster performance through access to greater physical memory,
a critical component when working with high-bandwidth, high
-- Support for 720p50 sequences - providing European customers
transitioning to HD with capture, conform, finishing, and
mastering tools in the 720p50 standard.
-- Support for Avid Unity ISIS(TM) - allowing the system to work
with Avid's newest shared-storage system to exchange and share
media assets with other connected systems.
Pricing and Availability
The Avid DS Nitris 8.0 system is available now through Avid's
worldwide reseller channel. Pricing for the Avid DS Nitris 8.0 system
is $147,995 USMSRP as a turnkey system, which includes a CPU
workstation, monitors, 2.5 TBs of RAID storage, and one license for
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$9,995 USMSRP. The Avid DS Assist Station is available for $9,995
For more information, please visit www.avid.com/dsnitris/.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Buncha updates released today - while the text mentioned it in the update, it's nice to see that it snuck in there and is now hiding in the menus: HDV 1080p24 (hooray!). I'm guessing this will be the basis of the Sony XDCAM HD support for 1080p24, 1080i50, and 1080i60....but only for 25 mbit CBR MPEG-2 (not 18 or 35 mbit VBR, which is VARIABLE, not constant bitrate.) ...but then I heard from Nate Weaver, and he said it looked like 35mbit IS working, hopefully I can verify this myself tomorrow (UPDATE: No, it wasn't - the camera reset itself to 25mbit on those clips, so our comment about 35mbit support was erroneous).
Apple also released 10.4.7 tonight - includes fixes for Mail, iChat, Syncing, Finder & other Apple apps, and of interest to editors:
(fixes) audio playback in QuickTime, iTunes, Final Cut Pro, and Soundtrack applications
Resolves an issue in which Soundtrack Pro may unexpectedly quit on PowerPC-based Macs after you analyze an audio file in the Waveform Editor by selecting Clicks and Pops.
Improves compatibility for Adobe Photoshop CS2 by preventing menu items being highlighted if the cursor was in an image's zoom field.
Networking and Xsan
Addresses an issue that could cause files to be deleted when duplicating them in the Finder on a mounted AFP volume.
Addresses an issue that could cause the error "Bad file descriptor" when using the cp command to copy a file to an AFP volume.
Mac OS X 10.4 computers now respond to Layer 2 Multicast ARPs.
Addresses an issue in which the configd process could take excessive CPU resources when a DHCP server sent a malformed DHCP response.
The included Apple VPN client now supports group membership on Cisco VPN servers.
Improves reliability of the lsof command on systems with a large amount of RAM installed.
Resolves an issue that could cause Xsan clients to stop responding when accessing the SAN if an Xsan peer was rebooted.
Increases the maximum number of vnodes on systems with 2 GB or more RAM to avoid an issue that could cause Xsan clients to become unresponsive when the vnode table became full.
Resolves an issue using "Save As..." from certain Adobe applications to an Xsan volume reshared via AFP.
The cp, mv and tar commands now pre-allocate space on Xsan volumes to avoid file fragmentation.
Safari will no longer intermittently, unexpectedly quit if you use PAC (Proxy Auto Configuration) files.
Addresses an issue in which Apple Remote Desktop clients could stop updating the admin's control screen.
Motion 2.1.2 got released as well, from the PDF file:
Late-Breaking News About Motion 2.1.2
The following known issues have been fixed in Motion 2.1.2.
Motion 2.1.2 provides improved compatibility with third-party After Effects filters on PowerPC-based Macintosh computers.
Motion 2.1.2 resolves visual differences between Motion 2.1 and Motion 2.0.1 when using certain blur, color correction, distortion, glow, stylize, and tiling filters.
Motion 2.1.2 resolves visual differences between Motion 2.1 and Motion 2.0.1 when using certain generators, including Checkerboard and Star.
Motion 2.1.2 fixes an incorrect value for the Glass Distortion filter’s default Softness parameter. (The correct value of 5.00 has been restored.)
Motion 2.1.2 resolves an issue that caused the MinMax filter, when applied to large images, to corrupt the resulting output image.
Motion 2.1.2 fixes an incorrect minimum value for the Bulge filter’s Scale parameter. (The correct minimum value of –10 has been restored.)
Motion 2.1.2 fixes an issue that caused Motion to stop responding when simultaneously playing back a project containing a text object with an applied Circle Blur filter and previewing the Texture Screen filter or Glass Distortion filter in the
Motion 2.1.2 resolves an interface issue that prevented adjustment of the Angle parameter for all Image Unit filters and for certain Motion filters.
Motion 2.1.2 fixes an issue that caused certain Motion filters to clamp RGB values greater than 1 when rendering in float.
Motion 2.1.2 resolves an issue that caused Motion to stop responding when a user’s system contains a volume for which the user has no Read permissions.
Motion 2.1.2 fixes an issue that caused Motion to stop responding when the Caustics generator is added to the Timeline while the Timeline is displayed.
Soundtrack Pro Integration
Motion 2.1.2 resolves an issue that sometimes caused Motion to stop responding when the user modifies an audio file in Soundtrack Pro, saves the file, then quickly switches back and forth between Motion and Soundtrack Pro.
Intel-based Macintosh computers
Motion 2.1.2 resolves an issue that caused Adobe Photoshop files to lose their blend modes settings when imported into Motion as separate layers.
Motion 2.1.2 fixes an issue that caused the Glow filter to turn an image white when the Softness parameter is set to 0.00.
Motion 2.1.2 fixes an issue that resulted in a visual difference between the Slit Tunnel filter’s appearance on Intel-based Macintosh computers and its appearance on PowerPC-based Macintosh computers.
I briefly mentioned it the other day, but again BlackMagic released version 5.6.1 drivers for the Multibridge Extreme (and other MBs? Not sure), and version 5.6 for DeckLink cards.
(AJA released new drivers May 31st, BTW).
I'm not sure when this came out, I missed the press release, or didn't catch the HD aspect of it. The new version supports 1080i60 and 1080i50 XDCAM HD footage, but doesn't mention 24p directly. RUMOR has it 24p is recorded as 1080p24on60i, but I don't know if that's true for sure. Playing back 1080p24 footage, it comes out the HD-SDI as 1080p24on60i, not 1080p24 - this supports that theory. Shooting 24p gives lower resolution than 60i if I recall correctly, which also supports the 24p on 60i theory. So that would mean that you could capture 24p as 60i, then it may be up to you to remove 3:2 pulldown to arrive at truly 24p footage. Also, I'm betting that only 25 mbit will be supported, which dovetails with the Pro Apps update last week. 35mbit and 18mbit will not be supported in the immediate future from FCP is my best guess. Lack of 18 and 35mbit support isn't Flip4Mac's fault - FCP has to support it, and doesn't yet.
So....indie filmmakers, if using this camera, for quality purposes would want to shoot 24p at 35mbit...which is not supported by this software as best I can tell.
ALSO - anybody in the Austin area have a JVC GY-HD100U I could borrow for a day to capture from? I've got LumiereHD from my friend Frederic over there, but I don't have a camera to capture it from. Any help folks?
Now, if I'd been able to capture timecode from the camera (and I'm not sure how that'd be possible, some kind of timecode de-embedder from the FireWire signal?), that would have given me proper A frames (the frame at which the pattern/cycle starts). But capturing wild, I don't have that. So since After Effects has no auto-guessing tool for 60p footage (just 60i footage, but that it does quite well), I have to MANUALLY identify the 2:2:2:4 pattern IN EACH SHOT. Man, what a drag... (and Lu Nelson, can you save my ass again? Got any more good insights on this one? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Satan? Anyone?)
So at the moment, now that I've verified the 2:2:2:4 action, I'm stepping through the clips frame by frame, changing the In Point from the slate marker clack (and putting a Marker there so I can find it later easily) to some point BEFORE the slate closes that is on the first frame of the cycle (the first "new" frame after four frames in a row are identical). I'm thinking, based on what Nate said at the shoot, that if I can start my clip at the beginning of the cycle (which is 10 frames long, adding 2+2+2+4=10) and drop it on a 24p timeline, I should be able to render that 24p timeline out and get a correct 24p result.
So I'm gonna try that next, and I'll keep updating as I go here.
Man, this is gonna take a while...OK, maybe not too bad, I have 15 shots, 2 of each (live and tape). So if I identify the pattern in one, I should be able to go X # of frames back from slate (and the frames are perfectly synced, because from same camera at same time, just 2 different recording media) on the second copy to get it to line up and "fall on the grid" of the 2:2:2:4 pattern.
OK, is anybody following this? Anybody care? Or am I just taking notes for my own future usage here?
-mike, will update later as I learn more.
UPDATE 2pm CST -
OK, my first attempt failed - I had identified the pulldown pattern as starting at 1:50:23 on my 60p clip with 2:2:2:4 cadence, then I dropped that on a 24p timeline. Stepping through frame by frame and analyzing carefully, it didn't work - every 4th frame was a repeat (while the one that should have been there I think was skipped).
...and then Nate Weaver called! That's the beauty of this live blogging action - get near instant answers. Nate told me that it was David Newman of Cineform that told him about the 2:2:2:4 pulldown pattern, and that the Wafian recorder could remove it on the fly during capture (NICE!). But I didn't use one of those, so bummer.
In any case, what he was saying was that if you have a more normal cadence (2:3 based, can't recall if 2:3:2:3 or 2:3:3:2), you can drop THAT onto a 24p timeline and it'll work OK. But this 2:2:2:4 stuff doesn't seem to be behaving that way. I'm going to try to offset my source 60p clip's in frame around and see if that makes a difference....
UPDATE 11:15pm: ...and then the cable modem went dead, then it was time to leave...
-so it looks like I can't drop it on a timeline and have it time out correctly - major bummer. It also looks like the 24p mode does some funny things between tape playback and live capture - TAPE is 2:2:2:4, LIVE is 1:1:1:2...which just completely screws up my head, and I'm going to take a break and go out on the lake, jump in the water, and let all the pixels, math, and pulldown patterns soak out of my skin.
(so I did that, and now I'm back). So 2:2:2:4 playing back from tape, which records 24p natively supposedly, but plays back a 60p stream, repeats frames 2:2:2:4, but LIVE capture straight off the camera has a DIFFERENT cadence - 1:1:1:2. It would make more sense if it were backwards - tape to a 30p system repeating every fourth frame would give 1:1:1:2, and live SHOULD give double that on a 60p stream, using 1:1:1:2. Tape is giving a 10 frame cycle, live is giving a 5 frame cycle...I'd think it should be opposite. Did I mislink the files and get them reversed earlier? Now I'll have to go all the way back to source and double check. Anybody feel free to clue me in here.......
HD Issues reports from Cinegear, lightly going over the vendors that were there. I've never been, I like the sound of the outdoors, casual setup for the place. I'm more of a post-centric guy, this is more of a shooter's event. Read on for who was there and what was shown.
Monday, June 26, 2006
OK, this was such a good tip it just makes me sad how much time I spent doing this The Hard Way.
Reader Lu Nelson pointed out that I didn't have to manually rename and relink 550 media clips in the Finder (I spent a day or two doing this).
His suggestion, that I just tested and it works: just use Media Manager to do all the heavy lifting.
Here's what I started with (bunch of bins):
(click pic for full size)
What I should have done, that Lu suggested, was to start with the bins that I had, select ONE bin at a time (otherwise all the media ends up in the same folder, and I want it better organized than that).
(click pic for full size)
Then, go to File=>Media Manager,
(click pic for full size)
and set it up like this:
(click pic for full size)
This is set up for Copy, you might be able to use Move, but I don't like the idea of what happens if you do it wrong.
Don't forget to click Browse to define where you want these files to go, and to make a folder with the right name.
You'll notice that the Modified is a bit smaller than the Original, that is because I've set In and Out points on all the clips and it is going to use them. For my own particular purposes, I wanted one second handles because I need some frames before the marker slate (my In Point) so that I can identify the pulldown pattern for one possible technique I want to use.
In any case, this'll make a copy of all the files, remove frames outside of the In and Out Points (takes up less drive space), and copy'em all do a single directory I've selected. Also, the biggie, by basing names on Clip Names instead of Existing File Names, it will rename them all according to the structure I've spent hours and hours setting up.
The caveats are:
1.) If you use Copy (the safe choice) you're writing new files which not only takes a while, it also takes up more drive space
2.) You have to do it one bin at a time if you're picky (like me) about keeping not just your bins organized, but also your media files on the drive. This will drop a folder called "Media" wherever you chose, which isn't quite what I want, so I probably have another move-and-relink cycle to do on a per-batch basis (which for this job is per camera, per format (live or tape), per frame rate (24p, 30p, 50i, 60i or 60p)). That means waiting 10-90 minutes for each folder to get duplicated, and with 1080i60 10 bit 4:2:2 uncompressed video, that's a LOT of file size and time.
3.) I need to double check that doing this with HDV files isn't going to do anything odd, like instigate a reconform (aka recompression cycle) or mess up the files in some way.
....but it is an automated process, rather than a manual one, and even if it takes longer that is (typically) OK by me because I'd rather run something (largely) unattended that I trust will do things right, rather than faster manually by hand in a way that I might make mistakes (and with over 500 files to manipulate in a multi-step process, aren't the odds good you're gonna screw up at some point?)
As always, I carefully do a small test to make sure things work before committing time and resources, or especially doing irreversible manipulations on source data. I've got backups, but they are many many steps ago (files renamed, etc.)
OK, I realize the last few posts have been very particular and geeky specific, but I'm also doodling with the idea of how to do EASY online tutorials using Blogger's built in stuff that is a snap to manipulate. I'm doodling with the idea of making a member's only for-pay section with tutorials. Anybody think that's worth doing? Comment away...
First off, I made a simple gradient ramp in After Effects 7.0, with my project set up in 16bpc (bits per channel, aka 64 bit color depth):
(and yes, that's the source 16 bit PNG file, click for full size view)
I rendered it out as a 10 bit per channel file, and re-imported it. Then I re-rendered it with the project set to 8 bits (but still rendered out to the same 10 bit codec).
I then took each of those ramps (8 and 10 bit) and applied a very aggressive color correction - in this case, a gamma value of 2.5. YES, this is extreme, and beyond what you'd likely use in post, but I'm trying to show the differences, and be able to show the differences on your 8 bit computer screen.
Then I rendered the 16 bit graphic out at 8, 16, and 32 bit color depths.
(this is built from an 8bpc screen grab, click for full size view)
OK, see how it says 8bpc, 16bpc, and 32bpc on the side there? See how much banding (chunky steps in brightness) you get on the 8 bpc (bits per channel) as compared to the 16 and 32bpc? Banding BAD. Smooth Good. 10 bit codecs and post process BETTER.
This answers the question of why, if you have high bit depth source (in this case 10 bits/channel) that it is worth posting in 10 bits even if you're delivering on an 8 bit format (as most video delivery formats are). If you're going to push video values around in post, you want as much detail maintained as possible.
Then, for kicks, I also ran this thing another way: let's say you have 8 bit source material (like DV, DVCAM, DVCPRO, DVCPRO50, DVCPRO HD, HDV, HDCAM, etc.), and are delivering on an 8 bit deliverable (broadcast TV/HDTV, SD or HD DVDs). Why bother posting at other than 8 bits?
I took my original gradient ramp image, rendered it out as 8bpc, then used the same gamma adjustment I'd done on the 16 bit source. Then I took screenshots with processing set at 8, 16, and 32bpc. Screen grabs here are 8 bpc, so that simulates your 8 bit deliverable.
(this is an 8 bit screen grab as well, click for full size view)
There are minor visible differences between the 8 and 16 bpc stuff. Note this is the SAME graphic, at the same resolution, that we were looking at in the above 16bpc stuff - see how much more steppy it is, even in just 8 bpc output? Lots.
In any case, learn what you can from that...
The next factor to take a look at is compression in post, and how much that affects things. I've typically been an advocate of acquire FireWire when you can (format depending), then after offline is complete, flip it to uncompressed for final online (and no, this does NOT mean recapturing!). Finishing in a less compressed or uncompressed space can definitely make a difference as well, and it is a bigger difference than 8 vs 10 bit finishing for 8 bit deliverables. Demo another day.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
If you're doing post work with After Effects and THINK you're rendering to 10 bit files, you NEED to read this!
Even I, a semi-literate After Effects user (been using it for more than 10 years, was my living for 6-8 of those years) would have been burned if I hadn't double checked my setup and work.
It turns out After Effects' setup is finicky, and you need to double and triple check that everything is just so, that all the right pieces are in place, otherwise it won't behave.
So go read this article from yesterday with all the newest juiciest actual info down at the bottom.
....so while I was researching various After Effects issues trying to get 10 bits per channel output working properly, I came across this site, which looks darned useful. The main page is more for the experienced AE users, but there's also an excellent and incredibly useful page of links for free After Effects plugins which are always nice to have. I use the JPEG2000 and SuperTIFF ones frequently, they are certainly nice to have around. Try and enjoy!
PS - there's also the Plugin Finder as well to help you find all those plugins, or to see lists of plugins by category, etc. Another super useful resource.
Wow. So if true, that implies they are buying their way into the market, and the players aren't all that less expensive than the Blu Ray players, which seem to be heading towards $1000 to $1500 (which is still hundreds more, just not 2-3x more, anymore....just 2x more sometimes). But still, the review I read and linked to (too lazy to link on a Sunday, just dig for it, ya lazy bastids!) talked about looooooong boot times, huge ugly box, crappy remote, sucky UI, etc. Not at all encouraging if that should have cost $700 not $500. I'm a waitin'!
This doesn't bode well for $300 players by next Christmas, that's for sure.
Somebody's coming out with a combo player for $1200 (LG I think?). I had the link, then my MacBook kernel paniced (!) when I unplugged the audio out cable while iTunes was playing. Talk about utterly unacceptable...anyway, I think a combo box is the way to go over the next year or so unless/until a market leader stands out. What we REALLY need is the same movie on both formats with a good transfer. The size difference between the two may or may not matter once encoding gets nailed down - we'll have to see how much space HD movies REALLY take up on those discs. If they are routinely 10ish GB, then 15 vs 25 doesn't really matter much except for how many extras you can fit on. On the other hand, if 12GB makes a mediocre movie, then it starts to seriously matter....it isn't just how much footage you can fit on the disk, it is also how good it looks....
Saturday, June 24, 2006
OK, this is long and geeky, but Good Stuff is in here.
....so I've been dilligently working, after letting it lie fallow for a bit, on the Texas HD Shootout footage analysis.
I really want to do a thorough analysis, and I also want to know exactly what I'm dealing with, no "well, I'm not quite sure what I did to get those results." - I hate that.
So in the spirit of being thorough (or procrastinating, take your pick), I've been spending a lot of time and effort to make sure that all the footage is properly labelled and organized and metadata'd to the nth degree so I'll never hit a moment of "Wait a minute, is that from a different camera than I think?"
This turned out to be harder than I thought. On set, I had everybody running capture stations set up a capture bin that was labelled for the camera, format, and frame rate being recorded, then entered the Reel, Description, Scene, Shot/Take, and Angle in the Log & Capture Window. Unfortunately, when doing a capture now, the file names generated didn't come out quite the way I wanted - no camera info was recorded at the beginning of the file name written to disk, so EVERYBODY's 60fpsWalkingWide.mov could only be identified on disc and in FCP by the folder it was saved in. Complicated by the fact that we had to switch around what cameras were recording to what station, it got complicated.
So I spent a few days going through ALL the shots and renaming in Final Cut Pro, so that the full context of the shot could be understood. Now I've got FCP names like
where F350 is the camera, L is for Live, S2 is Scene 2, T2 is Take 2, Chart-ChromaDuMode (should be obvious), 1080p24on60i tells me that this is 24p footage at 1920x1080, but it has 3:2 pulldown that needs to be removed.
Then, I spent a fair bit of time manually renaming the shots in the FINDER so they'd match as well, and manually relinking each and every shot. About 550.
Yeah, that took a while.
I did all this because I don't want to hit a point where I'm not sure what file I'm working with, and revealing in Finder
To be extra sure, I also somewhere in there relocated all the captured files to folders, so I have a Live folder and a Tape folder, subdivided by camera and then format/framerate below that. The screenshot below is from FCP; but the organization is now the same in the Finder for the files on the hard drive.
This took FOREVER to do, because files have to be renamed one at a time. My process: after all files renamed in FCP, go through one at a time, highlight, press Enter, press Command-C (copy the filename), press Enter again (to de-highlight the text of the name), right click on that file, select Reveal In Finder from the contextual pop-up which switches you to the Finder and shows the source clip file selected, then press Return (or Enter, same difference), Command-V to paste the name, press Return, then Command-Tab to get back to FCP, then press down arrow to select the next file, and continue with the next file. After a folder's worth (all the same framerate from the same camera) has been renamed, highlight all those clips in FCP then right click and select Reconnect Media. Then, one at a time, find the right file and relink it.
Yeah. Took a while.
Another reason to have everything properly organized and named in the Finder was because I was going to need some help sorting out some of these files - the 1080p24on60i stuff was recorded without timecode input from the cameras, so I can't rely on the traditional A frames (timecodes ending with :00 or :05) to help me remove the pulldown, since all clips start at :00 and that :00 has only a 20% chance of being the correct A frame (timecode started at zero regardless of where the pulldown or cadence pattern was)
In order to remove pulldown, I'm facing several problems:
1.) without proper timecode A frame identification, CinemaTools is kinda useless.
2.) Also, since these files are uncompressed 10 bit 4:2:2 1920x1080 30fps, they are BIG. And CinemaTools has a file size limitation of around 2GB, and some of my captures are as large as 12 GB, this is a problem. From the Late Breaking News CinemaTools PDF:
Maximum File Size for Reverse Telecine
There is a limitation to the size of a media file that Cinema Tools can process for reverse telecine. If Cinema Tools fails to reverse the telecine pulldown for a media file and gives the alert message “The file size is too large for Reverse Telecine,” segment the file into smaller files and process those files separately. For best results, divide the files so that each file starts on an A frame.
But wait, I kept reading and under v3.0.3 is says this:
In Cinema Tools 3.0.2, performing reverse telecine on media files approximately 2.5 GB or larger generated media files with missing frames. You can now perform reverse telecine on media files up to approximately 9 GB without losing frames.
...so maybe it can do it?
...but with no accurate timecode data, you have to know in advance what the pulldown pattern is, and that's a pain to figure out.
Read the article below for more on where this investigation led me - such as After Effects lack of true 10 bit output for QuickTime....
PS - if you can correctly guess (one vote per person, log in w/your Blogger name) which image at the top of this article goes with which camera (from the Z1U, the HVX200, the XLH1, and the GY-HD100U), you'll win a prize that I, um, have yet to come up with. But it'll be interesting, I swear.
Note I didn't say good, just interesting. ; )
Use the Comments link below, and name'em like this: #1 is top left, #2 is top right, #3 is lower left, #4 is lower right.
First person to get it right wins...stuff. I'm curious as to WHY you think which is which - please do share.
This is the follow on to the above post, where I was trying to remove 3:2 pulldown from footage acquired without timecode (so no A frame detection in CinemaTools other than relying on timecode, which was wild in this case, and therefore useless).
Synopsis: After Effects, either versions 6.5.1 or 7.0 on Macintosh, has problems writing out 10 bit QuickTime files. Or more accurately, it can create 10 bit QuickTime files, but it doesn't contain 10 real bits of data. Whaaaa? Read below for the details, it is important.
I've been writing for a while about the possibility of using After Effects as a high quality finishing tool, but now that usefulness is diminished - After Effects can make good 8 bits/channel images, but not 10 bits/channel (update: that isn't a correct analysis - see bottom).
Continuation from other article above...
....so I needed a different tool, a tool that could find and identify 3:2 pulldown. A-ha! I have such a tool - it is Adobe After Effects. If you import a file into After Effects, highlight the file in the Project Window, and press Command-F (or right click and select "Interpret Footage=>Main"), you get a dialog that has an ever so convenient button labelled "Guess 3:2 Pulldown." And right next to it, "Guess 24pA Pulldown." Heaven! You just click it, it analyzes the footage, identifies the pulldown, and from that point forward in After Effects you can treat that 24pon60 clip as a 24p clip, since After Effects will handle the pulldown removal for you in any composition you place that clip in. This works like a charm!
Here's the "before" dialog:
Here's the "after" dialog:
"Hang on" you say, "but After Effects has no batch tools, so you'll have to process these clips one at a time! What a hassle!"
Incorrect, my friend, if you know a few tricks. Allow me to demonstrate:
1.) While it is possible to right click on a clip in AE after fixing the pulldown as described above and select "Interpret Footage=>Remember Interpretation" with the intent of using "Interpret Footage=>Apply Interpretation" that would be a mistake in this case - you'd be applying this particular pulldown pattern to all the other clips, but since they also start their cadence randomly, odds are 4/5 of them would be WRONG. So what to do:
-click Guess 3:2 Pulldown
-down arrow (selects next clip)
-repeat until done
2.) Now that you have all your clips all set up, you're ready to get to work. But wait a minute, you'd need to make comps for all these, right? And that's a pain to set up a new comp, etc, right? Not necessarily...do this:
-select the first clip
-drag it's icon to the Create A New Composition icon - it's the little filmstrip looking icon at the bottom of the Project window, third from the left after the search (binoculars) and New Folder buttons. It is here:
-this creates a new comp that matches the footage you dragged to it - the frame size, frame rate, aspect, duration, etc. are all set to match the clip you made the comp with. Major time saver.
-with your new comp highlighted, press Command-M to Make Movie
-this opens up the Output Movie To dialog - find or make a folder where you'll want ALL your movies to go for this entire batch we're about to create.
-now go up to Edit=>Templates=>Render Settings and create the render settings you want for your batch, and then set the Movie Default to this setting.
-similarly, go to Edit=>Templates=>Output Module and edit/create the output settings you want to use for your batch, and change the Movie Default to this setting
-you now have fixed three things: your render settings, output settings, and render locations have all been set for future rendered stuff.
-now go and delete that composition you made a minute ago. No crying, it'll come back
-NOW that you have render settings, render destination, and output settings all preset the way you want them, highlight ALL the clips you want to render out as 24p in AE and drag'em to the Create A New Composition icon
-you'll see a new dialog you haven't seen before - the New Composition From Selection dialog. Looks like this:
-click on Multiple Compositions (not Single), and also check the box for Add To Render Queue (YES you want that)
-OK, forgot to mention this step, you just need to do it before rendering: right next to the Create A New Composition button it probably says 8 bpc. Option-click on it until it says 16 bpc. This is 16 bits per channel - this means if you render to a 10 bit codec, you'll get more than 8 bits of precision. This slows down the render, but if you're working with greater than 8 bits per channel footage, or want greater than 8 bits per channel of fidelity, you need it. If your source is 8 bit footage, no need to do this step for 3:2 pulldown removal, however.
-now you'll have a ton of new comps, all set to the individual settings of each clip, and the render destination, render settings, and output settings are all correct, and all these files are already in the Render Queue. Click Render in the Render Queue and take a break, it's all cookin' down for you now.
I was all pleased with myself when The Little Voice of Doubt began to whisper in my ear -
"Yeah, but is all that 10 bit goodness still working?" I had rendered to the BlackMagic 10 bit Uncompressed (4:2:2 color sampling) codec. I wanted to be sure this was all working right - I've had issues with Compressor and 10 bit files in the past, so I wanted to be sure.
To check, I made a new compostion, 2048x1080 pixels, added a solid, cranked the project bit depth to 32 bits per channel just to be sure (option clicking on 8/16 bpc to do it), and added a Ramp. The ramp was set to go from pure black to pure white, starting at 0,0 and ending at 2048,0. Why this way? 10 bits per channel is 1024 individual gradations of color. (8 bits is 256, BTW). With a 2048 pixel wide comp (2x1024), every other pixel should increment one brightness value on a 10 bit scale. So pixel #80 from left edge of comp should have a value of 40, pixel 256 a value of 128, etc. - whatever the location on screen was from left to right, the brightness readout on a 10 bit scale should be half of that.
So I set this up, and rendered it out of After Effects 6.5.1. In order to get greater than 8 bits of detail in your rendered file, in the Output Module Settings you have to select Trillions from the Depth pop-up in the Video Output section. After Effects 6.5.1 allows this if you're rendering to a BlackMagic codec QuickTime movie, but for reasons at that time unclear, AE7 does NOT (and holding down any combo of modifier keys doesn't help).
So here's AE 6.5.1 dialog letting me use Trillions:
...and here's AE 7.0 NOT letting me use Trillions:
So I tried rendering in various formats, and then imported the results into AE 7 and zoomed way in on the file, I set the color readouts to a 10 bit scale,and watched the Info readout carefully as I panned a cursor across. And got surprising results.
If it worked right, every other pixel should jump 1 unit of brightness. Here's what I found from rendered results:
BlackMagic 10 bit (4:2:2 uncompressed Y'CbCr codec): NOT - jumps of 4, seemingly dithered
BlackMagic 10 bit RGB (4:4:4): NOT - jumps of 4, seemingly dithered
Sheer 10 bit 4:2:2: NOT - jumps of 4, seemingly dithered
Sheer 10 bit 4:4:4 YUV: NOT - jumps of 4, seemingly dithered
Sheer 10 bit RGB 4:4:4: shows all black in comp, but the QT file opens and looks OK (I've contacted the developer about this possible bug)
Cineon/DPX sequence: YES, brightness increments as expected if you set the options correctly
Photoshop file sequence: YES, brightness increments as expected, when output set to Trillions in Output Module Settings, it makes 16 bit per channel Photoshop files
OK, that's sucky and perplexing - After Effects 6.5.1, even though you can set it to render Trillions to a 10 bit codec, WILL create a file that is 10 bits, but there is NOT 10 bits of precision in that file! This means After Effects is useless to directly generate 10 bits of precision in it's work. Later I figured out AE 7.0 has the exact same problem.
Hmm....could I be wrong? I tried something else - I created a simple 100x100 pixel composition, made a 10x10 pixel solid, and sampled a color from my ramp that I knew was "between the steps" in an 8 bit scale - RGB values of 339 on a 10 bit (0-1023) scale. I rendered that out in AE 7 to the BMD 10 bit codec, and it didn't work - the brightness shifted to 333. Well, not exactly - the red, green, and blue values varied slightly, centering around 333, as if it were dithered. I did another test making additional squares with brightness values of 338, 337, 336, 335, etc. Rendering to the BMD 10 bit codec in AE 7, they all shifted, and the new values were centered around brightness jumps of 4, but the RGB values varied, leading me to think it was 8 bits of precision dithered down.
I went back and did further testing with AE 6.5.1 and AE 7.0 - neither can render a proper 10 bit QuickTime with Sheer or Blackmagic codecs. Next up: Apple & AJA codecs.
So I uninstalled (just compressed to a .tar archive and deleted the BMD codecs from the Libary:QuickTime folder) and then downloaded and installed the codecs from AJA.
If it didn't before, now whether I can select Millions of Trillions in the Output Module depends on the codec I have selected. Details on AJA codecs in After Effects 6.5.1:
AJA 10 bit log RGB codec: Millions not Trillions available, and it defaults to RGB+Alpha, so have to set it back to just RGB
AJA 10 bit RGB codec: Millions not Trillions available (this codec also has a video or full range option, I chose full range 0-1023 for this test)
AJA 2Vuy codec - defaults to Millions of colors+, no RGB only offered apparently?
AJA 2vuy codec - defaults to Millions of colors+, no RGB only offered apparently? (yes, this one's apparently different, v not V)
AJA v210 codec - defaults to Millions of colors+, no RGB only offered apparently?
Apple FCP 10 bit Uncompressed - Trillions is an option
Apple FCP 8 bit Uncompressed - tested just to see what happens, Trillions IS an option
Test Results: none of'em worked right for 10 bit output. Not in AE 6.5.1, not in AE 7.0, not with 16 or 32 bpc selected, nothin'. The only way I could get true 10 bit levels of detail out of After Effects was with Cineon or Photoshop image sequences, which are a bear to work with in Final Cut Pro, and not practical for editorial workflow.
OK, that's enough testing for now, I'll see if I can dig up any more info pertaining to WTF.
Am I doing something wrong here? If you have salient info, please let me know!
SUNDAY JUNE 25TH UPDATE:
So I started looking into what's up with the bit depth issue.
First up, AJA codec support. Reader Joe Rice was kind enough to point out this AJA support article to me, which reads in part:
Q: Does KONA 2 support 16-bit renders from Adobe After Effects?
A: Yes, KONA 2 codecs have full support for After Effects 16-bit/component ('b64a') mode. However, because of how After Effects works, it can be slightly complicated. When you export a QuickTime movie from After Effects, you have to choose a codec to use (Render Queue:Output Module:Compression Settings). To use the clip with any of the usual uncompressed 4:2:2 hardware cards out there (including KONA 2) you would typically choose either Final Cut Pro's "Uncompressed 8-bit 4:2:2" (2vuy) or "Uncompressed 10-bit 4:2:2" (v210) codecs, or the board manufacturer's proprietary uncompressed codec (e.g. "AJA Kona 2Vuy Codec"). Of all these choices, the only codec that does NOT currently support 16-bit RGB is Final Cut Pro's "Uncompressed 8-bit 4:2:2" codec. The FCP 10-bit codec DOES support 16-bit RGB, as do the KONA 2 codecs.
Note: After Effects does NOT automatically determine codec settings! You may have to edit your "Adobe After Effects x.x Prefs" file (where "x.x" is your current AE version, e.g. 6.5), located in your user/Library/Preferences folder. Use TextEdit to open the file (you might want to keep a copy of the original Prefs file just-in-case you make a mistake in editing), then search or scroll down to the section of the file labeled ["QuickTime 64-bit Output Codecs"]. To enable a given codec type (for example 10-bit uncompressed), look for a line of text like:"v210" = "1". For the AJA KONA 2Vuy codec there should be a line that looks like:"2Vuy" = "1". If the codec type is missing, just add the line to the list. If the codec type is listed, but is set to "0", change it to a "1" to select it. Save the "Adobe After Effects x.x Prefs" file, and then re-launch After Effects to use the new preferences.
You may also want to add the same lines to the After Effects Pref file in the ["QuickTime 64-bit Input Codecs"] section immediately preceding the Output Codecs. This will also allow you to import 16-bit RGB files from compliant codecs.
To allow trillions of colors with the KONA RGB codec, add the following lines to BOTH the "QuickTime 64-bit Input Codecs" and "QuickTime 64-bit Output Codecs" section of the After Effects Preference file:
"R10k" = "1"
"R10g" = "1"
For the Windows version of After Effects, the same lines need to be added to the "Adobe After Effects 6.5 Prefs.txt" file, located in your Documents and Settings/
So I did that.
As for the BlackMagic stuff, I did a search over on their site, and found this link in their support section, which reads in part:
Trillions of Colors in After Effects
After installing or updating After Effects, I cannot find a way to render to Trillions of Colors with DeckLink. Millions is the only option available. How do I make it work?
When you install current DeckLink drivers, it edits the After Effects preferences file to enable the use of trillions of colors when rendering with DeckLink cards. When you go to the Output Module Settings and click on the Depth popup menu, both Millions and Trillions should appear as available options.
If you only see Millions of colors, then it may be that After Effects was installed after the DeckLink drivers. Simply uninstall and reinstall the current DeckLink drivers and next time you open After Efects, you should be able to render to Trillions of colors.
....so while I was already on their site, I pulled down the latest drivers - they came out with a new rev of their Multibridge Extreme drivers on the 19th, v 5.6.1, so I grabbed that too, and installed it.
If the BlackMagic drivers are installed, they take over from the Apple Final Cut Pro Uncompressed codecs. I don't know if they are literally the same, or if one's taking over, but in any case, I can't be sure of using the Apple Uncompressed with the BMD codecs installed, so I just hide'em (compress to archive) while working with AJA codecs.
I'll do some more testing later today to see what effect this has, but I need to go run an errand right now...
OK I'M BACK:
...and here's what I've learned.
It's all about your After Effects Prefs file. As described above, it depends on whether your "Adobe After Effects 7.0 Prefs" (or whatever version you're running) is properly configured or not. How can you be sure your prefs are properly configured?
If you're using AJA codecs, you have to manually go in and configure as described above (somebody correct me if new installers take care of this for you). I gotta redo some stuff to test those and the Apple codecs, I'll post that up shortly.
If you're using BlackMagic codecs, you just need to have run the BlackMagic installers AFTER you've installed After Effects. Even if that means running the installer for the version you're already running, THAT'S OK. Part of the install script doctors your Adobe After Effects Prefs file to get it right. I rendered, I tested, and the BlackMagic 10 bit 422 and 10 bit RGB codecs DID render properly to 10 bit (10 bit image fidelity was maintained).
If you're using Sheer codecs (from BitJazz), then...it's not quite so obvious.
Even after installing the latest version, it DOES doctor your AE prefs (or is it installing the Output Modules that Sheer includes that does it?). BUT...it doesn't seem to do it right, or at least mine wasn't giving me Trillions options on any of the Sheer codecs. So I went into the Adobe After Effects Prefs file, did a search for "QuickTime 64" to find the right part of the prefs file, and saw that there was now "Shr0" through "Shr7" listed, but they all were set to "0" (meaning no 64 bit/Trillions support). I also received a prompt email from Andreas Wittenstein, the developer, who informed me that when I set the Sheer codec preferences to "Perfect" instead of "Best" conversion something in the dialog, that generated an error, since "Perfect" only worked on 16 bit codecs, not 10 bit codecs, so "Best" was the preferable option, otherwise it failed to work. After that I was able to render OK...but got 8 bit dithered results.
So I did a web search for "Shr1" and found a document on Andreas' site that gave me a clue as to what codecs were 8 bit and which were 10 bit. This page lists Shr1, Shr2, Shr3, and Shr4, and they are all definitely 8 bit formats and should NOT have Trillions available. But the others may be the 10 bit codecs, so I changed all those to "1" to enable the Trillions option. After changing that setting in prefs file and relaunching After Effects 7.0, Trillions was now an option for the Sheer codecs, but I still don't think I've quite got something configured right.
A-ha- then I found the below from this page here:
imco:Shr1:BtJz "Sheer RGB[A] 8b"
imco:Shr2:BtJz "Sheer Y'CbCr[A] 8bv 4:4:4[:4]"
imco:Shr3:BtJz "Sheer Y'CbCr[A] 8bv 4:2:2[:4]"
imco:Shr4:BtJz "Sheer Y'CbCr 8bw 4:2:2"
imco:Shr5:BtJz "Sheer Y'CbCr[A] 10bv 4:4:4[:4]"
imco:Shr6:BtJz "Sheer Y'CbCr[A] 10bv 4:2:2[:4]"
imco:Shr7:BtJz "Sheer RGB[A] 10b"
imdc:Shr1:BtJz "Sheer RGB[A] 8bf"
imdc:Shr7:BtJz "Sheer RGB[A] 10bf"
imtc:2vuy:Shr0 "Sheer Y'CbCr[A] 8bv 4:2:2[:4]"
imtc:2vuy:Shr3 "Sheer Y'CbCr[A] 8bv 4:2:2[:4]"
imtc:Y216:Shr0 "Sheer Y'CbCr[A] 10bv 4:2:2[:4]"
imtc:Y216:Shr6 "Sheer Y'CbCr[A] 10bv 4:2:2[:4]"
imtc:r408:Shr0 "Sheer Y'CbCr[A] 8bv 4:4:4[:4]"
imtc:r408:Shr2 "Sheer Y'CbCr[A] 8bv 4:4:4[:4]"
imtc:v210:Shr0 "Sheer Y'CbCr[A] 10bv 4:2:2[:4]"
imtc:v210:Shr6 "Sheer Y'CbCr[A] 10bv 4:2:2[:4]"
imtc:v216:Shr0 "Sheer Y'CbCr[A] 10bv 4:2:2[:4]"
imtc:v216:Shr6 "Sheer Y'CbCr[A] 10bv 4:2:2[:4]"
imtc:v408:Shr0 "Sheer Y'CbCr[A] 8bv 4:4:4[:4]"
imtc:v408:Shr2 "Sheer Y'CbCr[A] 8bv 4:4:4[:4]"
imtc:v410:Shr0 "Sheer Y'CbCr[A] 10bv 4:4:4[:4]"
imtc:v410:Shr5 "Sheer Y'CbCr[A] 10bv 4:4:4[:4]"
imtc:yuv2:Shr0 "Sheer Y'CbCr 8bw 4:2:2"
imtc:yuv2:Shr4 "Sheer Y'CbCr 8bw 4:2:2"
imtc:yuvs:Shr0 "Sheer Y'CbCr[A] 8bv 4:2:2[:4]"
imtc:yuvs:Shr3 "Sheer Y'CbCr[A] 8bv 4:2:2[:4]"
SYNOPSIS OF CURRENT STANDING: Pardon my crying Chicken Little with this one earlier, but I now think it breaks down like this:
1.) After Effects CAN render 10 bit QuickTime files with a proper 10 bits/channel of information, BUT....
2.) You have to be SURE you have your After Effects properly configured. This may well mean running BMD installers AFTER installing After Effects, and/or having to tweak the Adobe After Effects Prefs file by hand. Not ideal, but functional. Therefore...
3.) If you are going to use After Effects for 10 bit QuickTime renders, it behooves you to test the codec of choice on THAT PARTICULAR MACHINE and make sure it is working right. That means that it will BOTH let you select Trillions, AND that it actually renders out 10 bits worth of detail. To test, simplest way:
-make a 1024x10 pixel comp, 1/2 second or so long, 23.98 or 29.97 fps (really only has to be one frame, but I feel better rendering a few frames to make sure all is well)
-make a new solid, comp size
-Apply the Ramp filter (make sure your version is at least 16bpc capable), pure black to pure white, from 0,0 to 1024,0
-make sure project is set to at least 16 bpc
-render out to the codec of choice, being sure to select Trillions in the Output Module.
-and remember, just because it LETS you select Trillions, doesn't mean the file you make will BE Trillions (10 bits of detail)
-reimport that file you made, adjust the Info Palette units to a 10 bit scale (0-1024), and slowly move your cursor over the rendered file (drop in a comp if you have to) at at least 100% zoom, and make sure for each horizontal pixel you pass the cursor over moving from left to right the color value increments one value at a time, not in jumps of 4.
Simply hiding (via Stuffit compression) codecs, loading them in and out, doesn't make After Effects happy. After swapping out AJA for BMD codecs and relaunching After Effects to reopen my test file (that uses BMD codecs, and has BMD codecs queued for output) after hiding the BMD codecs and loading the AJA codecs LOCKED UP After Effects. So be careful
Codecs I know work in 10 bits:
-BlackMagic 10 bit RGB
-BlackMagic 10 bit 4:2:2
AJA codecs - I think I still don't have something quite set up right, I can do RGB+Alpha in Trillions for the AJA 10 bit log RGB codec, but when I switch it to plain RGB (no alpha), I only have Millions of colors avaiable. Actually, that applied to all the AJA codecs. Checking rendered output, somethin' weird happened, I'll have to play more to say definitively.
Apple 10 bit 4:2:2 uncompressed - did some funny gamma/ramping stuff to the image, I'm going to install Final Cut 5.1.1 tonight and retest.
...and then it's time for Sunday Night HBO, so I'm out. If you're hanging on the edge of your seat to see how all this turns out.....suffer, bitches! (gotta say that, The Wire is on....)
CinemaTech: News items: Google's advertising experiment...Jenkins on `Snakes'...Fast Company on DIY Digital Movies
Again, more Scott Stuff. Read. I Command Thee.
Scott reports on events form both. Worth a read.
The software allows users to annotate, change clip names, and delete Clips from any HVX200 P2 volume. P2 Log is specifically designed for working with MXF Clips, and is intended as a field viewer to complement an HD Log media manager. The application exports to Final Cut Pro HD XML with automatic QuickTime conversions of only the selected or marked clips, offering compatibility with any HVX200 format including PAL 720P 25/50. Users can add text notes in the metadata, change user clip names, use find/sort routines within the volume to locate clips, and indicate camera marks.
So friends hooked me up since I couldn't be there -
First up, Chris Hurd from DVInfo.net sent this link:
RED pics from CineGear -- Cage & Gun, RED One body details - The Digital Video Information Network
Nate Weaver, director/DP who was kind enough to AD at the Texas HD Shootout and all around great guy (see his site at nateweaver.net sent in links to one, two, three pics he took.
Also, see some pics that reader Eliot Hochberg took here that he was kind enough to send in.
Much appreciation and props to Chris, Nate & Elliot!
I also have some nice 3D renderings from Jim & team, but I need to confirm clearance before I can post them. More on that as soon as possible.
Friday, June 23, 2006
...and Red will be showing new prototypes, among other things. I'm not there, so if anyone reading this is, please take digital pictures and send them to me, or at least send me links if you've posted them somewhere.
Anybody feel free to send in a report from the show if you're there as well on any HD news of interest to indies.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
UPDATED AGAIN EARLY WEDNESDAY: OK, so here's what I THINK is going on: development on Shake as we know it is DONE. The product isn't technically EOL'd (that's End Of Life, and that'd mean it'd be pulled off the market), but it is DEVELOPMENTALLY EOL'd - this is the LAST version of the appliation we know and call "Shake," there will NOT be another. The good news is they got a Universal Binary out the door, it'll work on the tower Macs due later this year, and they sliced the price to $500. The bad news is that it is going to be a while before the successor to Shake comes out to possibly compete with Nuke, Toxik, and the like. So if you can use Shake as is, GREAT. If not, you're waiting a couple of years probably before the next big compositing app comes out of Apple. Otherwise, why would Apple cut the price so much, then quit selling support contracts? They are pulling back into quiet mode to hammer down and crank out new stuff, not deal (much) with current customers. You can even license the source code for $50K.
(Tuesday afternoon update): one reader thinks Shake is EOL (end of life) - that this will be the last version, according to an internal Apple email:
no further software updates are planned as we begin work on the next generation of Shake compositing software.
OK, so is that EOL'd? "Next generation of compositing software" - sounds like another future version of Shake to me...or will it be a totally new app, merging Motion's OpenGL tricks and Shake's strengths? You can already use Motion particle effects in Shake
- see Comments link below for full details I have.
Apple - Shake
Apple is shipping Shake 4.1, now a Universal Binary, and it is only $499. No, that's not a typo - it's an 80% price reduction.
Mike's Comments: WOW. That should change the game somewhat. I'll bet support contracts will still be pricey, but that's a helluva deal to get folks in the door.
This DEFINITELY makes VFX more affordable, but you still need a skilled operator to drive it. I did compositing and motion graphics for a living for many years, and started using After Effects when it was still CoSA 1.0, well before Adobe bought it, but still never got into Shake as I found it too daunting to get into. (Now after using nodes in Final Touch HD I'd be much more comfortable with it).
So at first blush, this is amazing news for an incredibly powerful tool for indies to use. Hooray!
I could also see this sending the product down a not-too-great path, however - Alias slashed the price of Maya hoping it would drive sales. Maya is similar to Shake in that it is a high powered, complex piece of post production equipment.
Pricing isn't always perfectly elastic - dropping the price X fold doesn't mean X fold more sales. With products like these, there is a finite market possible, because not everyone can figure out and use this kind of software. Put another way - I felt daunted by Shake and never bothered to learn the bootlegs that I acquired in years past (v3 or so I think) because it was so complicated.
There will probably be an initial surge of sales as folks buy it thinking they can make the next King Kong but on a budget, but the vast majority will fail and/or give up - doing good work with this tool means really knowing what you're doing (or trying to do) in the first place, AND also being able to master the complex tool. Shake started out as a command line driven, script driven tool and has had a UI added onto it. Scripting languages don't make for an easy sell, nor a wide selling product except to the technical elites. One could argue that Flash sells a zillion copies, but let's face it - there's a helluva lot more demand for web based content than heavy duty compositing work.
Having slashed the price per unit, unless the volume of sales really rockets, it places financial strain on the R&D unit - less income into the unit of the company, less R&D for development, etc. Shake is NOT a novice friendly product, unlike Final Cut or Motion, and will require substantial work to become new user friendly. But that requires development effort.
Hopefully sales will increase to more than make up for the price drop, but I don't think so. This may be a point of fuel starvation for this plane, and it may start heading down.
Or not - I've heard rumors and speculation that Motion was practice for where they wanted to take Shake - more OpenGL acceleration and clever caching - so perhaps we'll see Shake and Motion merge at some point in a new app.
And I may be overly harsh in my assessment - I haven't doodled with Shake since v3.x or so, so I don't know how much easier it may have become to use.
But while this is initially exciting, the price is SO low it makes me wonder how long Shake can stick around in its current incarnation. Oddly, if they'd cut it to $1500 or $1000, I'd have thought it'd have longer legs.
Maybe I'm just pessimistic today.
But clearly this is a push to have cheap post software to help drive Mac hardware sales - the same thing Final Cut Studio has done for the Mac. With pricing this low, anyone considering Shake as a possible compositing application would certainly do well to consider Mac hardware now.
And maybe I shouldn't sound so pessimistic - it is a very powerful tool that is now very affordable - and that's good news. Maybe the new lower price point will help it vault over combustion and other software that has no hardware partner to subsidize the cost of R&D.
In any case, for folks needing to get work done in the next couple of years, here's a great tool for you to use.
UPDATE: here's the press release on Shake 4.1's release. Of note:
Apple will no longer sell the Apple Maintenance Program for Shake. Current Shake Apple Maintenance customers can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
* Performance tests on a 17-inch MacBook Pro have shown that common tasks such as color correction, warping and the application of filters are processed up to 3.5 times faster on a MacBook Pro with 2.16 GHz Intel Core Duo than a 17-inch PowerBook G4 with 1.67 GHz Power PC.
Note "up to" and not "always" - let that pre-emptively cut off the complaints. Marketing copy, people, marketing copy.
Adam Wilt, digital video guru extraordinaire, has his write-up on the Texas HD Shootout published over at DV.com. TONS AND TONS of extremely insightful analysis screen grabs, etc.
What's the Texas HD Shootout you say, if you just got here? It was the 4 day shoot comparing the Canon XL H1, the Panasonic HVX200, the JVC GY-HD100U, the Sony HVR-Z1U, the Sony F350, and the Panasonic Varicam.
In the end, which is the winner? None of them - they all have their tradeoffs. Which is better, Ford or Chevy? Apart from religiously picking sides, it's all about the best camera for YOU, and your project's needs, etc. Some are sharper, some had more artifacting, some were better at low light, some were easier to focus, etc. All tradeoffs, no perfect camera. The closest answer? Adam says:
All these sub-$10,000 cameras would have been deemed miraculous two years ago. At the same time, compared to their more expensive brethren (from the Panasonic HDX900 and Sony PDW-F350 to the VariCam and the CineAlta), they all have severe limitations. Each is a study in compromise--each manufacturer chooses some aspects of performance and handling to optimize, invariably at the expense of others.
Which one would I pick? I want the ergonomics and tonal scale rendering of the JVC along with the sharpness and image processing of the Canon, combined with the frame-rate and format flexibility, intraframe recording, and color of the Panasonic, and the low-cost, low-noise, optical stabilization, and international compatibility of the Sony. And I want better glass than any of them had. No camera wins hands-down. None of them lose. Different tools for different needs.
I was talking to a client last night and he kept asking "Which camera should I get?" and all I can say is "It depends." and start asking questions about how they want to use it, what they want to shoot, etc. I could come up with a good rationale for buying most of the cameras, but I could also come up with a list of problems with each if you committed to that path.
Beyond the obvious image quality issues that tie into your subject matter and shooting style, there are also issues of ease of use (or even the possibility of) in post production, etc.
You do start getting generally nicer images as you spend more money, but they also all have their tradeoffs.
In any case, go check it out, this is perhaps the best thing I've linked to in months.
OK, I didn't write the above linked article, and I think he has some valid points, but I quibble with several details of what he says, most notably he says HD DVD and Blu Ray aren't quantum leaps in technology, saying they add "technology" (whatever that is) and capacity, and talks about new alternate endings, etc. I disagree - it's about high def vs standard def. A more movielike experience with a tack sharp picture on a big screen.
Sigh. More complaints, just don't have the energy to get into it. But it is worth reading as a counterpoint to the hype. As I said about a year ago, I think high definition DVDs run the risk of becoming LaserDisc 2.0 - expensive, difficult to deal with, rare, few disc choices, and only your hardcore geek friends have'em.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Final Cut Pro 5.1.1, CinemaTools 3.1.1, and more!
Key new features:
-HDVCodec "addresses compatibility issues with Sony's XDCAM-HD 1080p24 25 Mbps CBR format and playback for the XDCAM-HD 540-line VFR formats" - so does this mean XDCAM HD is importable in the first place? Or that in conjunction with the Sony or Flip4Mac plugins it'll import the 24p format as well as 1080i60?
Uncompressed 422 delivers a fix for changes in color-space and/or gamma when moving clips between Final Cut Pro and Adobe After Effects and addresses a codec issue leading to drawing errors in 16bpc After Effects projects. It also fixes discrepancies found between former AltiVec and the current Intel (scalar) code and delivers some performance improvements on Intel-based Macs.
This is BIGGIE - I was just lamenting about this the other day. Both AJA and BlackMagic are using the Apple uncompressed codecs, so this matters a LOT for post workflows.
-IMX codec fixed an Intel Mac bug
a few more less critical details, read the link for more.
I still don't have my 5.1 installers from Apple yet, can't comment on first hand stuff...whine whine whine...
My buddy Torrey Loomis at Silverado Systems just posted a PDF on how to capture the high definition output of an Xbox 360 to Final Cut Pro, using a Kona LHe card (a BlackMagic DeckLink HD Extreme or Multibridge Extreme would work just as well). Hardware, software, FCP setup, etc. are all covered.
A fun little geeky project.
CinemaTech: News Items: Movies on iTunes, Netflix set-top box, Other set-tops, Bill Gates on innovation, Brando returns, Sonnefeld on digital movie-making
Once again, Scott does my job for me - here's all the latest stuff on cinema technology on CinemaTech.
He quotes Barry Sonenfeld from one of the pieces, which I think perfectly nails the issue of the look of film vs. digital:
I still don't love the way [movies shot digitally] look. I still think they look a little too immediate. One of the things about film -- if you originate on film -- is it still has a certain grain to it that the mind is used to having. Video still looks a little bit like reportage. It still feels a little bit like you're watching the six o'clock news.
I think it is that exactly. So, if it's a look we're talking about, how can the digital be manipulated to look more like film if that is the aesthetic directive?
Samsung Electronics will consider later this year if it will launch a high-definition movie player compatible with both the Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD formats, it says.
Something like this is probably what I'd buy - two competing formats is just stupid/silly.
BusinessWeek article on Apple's so far failed attempt to get an online movie store. I still think the play is go straight to high def (SD offered as well at a lower price) and have a Mini based living room set top box type device, or an Airport Express AV/HD type device that could stream MPEG-2 & H.264 from any computer running iTunes Movie software to the living room.
But that's just me.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
UPDATE: this article talks about how the two formats are lining up right now in terms of capacity, image quality, amount of footage they'll hold, price, recording, AACS implementation, etc. A good overview of where we are today. One caveat: they talk about HD DVD discs out so far using VC-1 and H.264 and Sony going with MPEG-2 to start with - I think in time, as companies figure out the encoding better, they'll start using lower bandwidths as they figure out how to be more efficient.
NVIDIA PureVideo HD: Part 1
Charlie White interviews Beaulieu of nVidia about PureVideo HD, the spec from nVidia that will allow playback of HD DVD and Blu Ray movies on a computer. The fact that there is a new spec to allow this, as opposed to "plug 'er in and it works" should give you a clue as to the complexity. As expected, HDCP (high-bandwidth Digital Copy Protection) and AACS will be required. So it's likely that you'll have to get a new graphics card to play back these movies, because your current one won't have the right copy protection stuff in it. That's right - it won't work because it isn't secure enough for Hollywood. This will really help them sell discs...not. As a practicality, folks will need a new optical drive (HD DVD or Blu Ray) as well as a new graphics card to watch movies on their computer. It DOES seem that one aspect is changing for the better - Charlie White specifically asks about playing back movies on existing computer monitors, and Beaulieu doesn't mention hardware HDCP in the MONITOR, just in the card, and talks about DVI as well as HDMI so that it MIGHT work on existing monitors, but I'd like to see that clarified.
Again, with HD DVD and Blu Ray players in the $500-$1500 price range, I see high def discs as, unfortunately, I minority play for the next few years until/unless a clear market leader stands out and the prices drop to under $300 for players.
Next up: there are three reviews posted already of Blu Ray movies, and the blogger reviewer isn't very pleased with the image quality on two of them. What are the first three movies he could get a hold of? The Fifth Element, 50 First Dates, and xXx. Yawn. They aren't exactly yanking early adopters into the market with material like this. I can understand (somewhat) releasing older titles, but how about Star Wars or Indiana Jones movies if you really want to pull people in to the new format?
Nothing horribly new here, same stuff I've been predicting for about a year - that Apple would start selling movies online. The sticking point, supposedly, has been Jobs' insistence on one-price-for-all of $9.99. Studios want to vary it from $9.99 to $19.99.
OK, I don't think this is going to work as proposed, and here's why:
1.) There's a definite market for TV shows if missed it and you don't have a TiVO and don't want to wait until the end of the season for the DVD set. Anybody with a computer and broadband can download an episode for $3 and watch it, even on an iPod if they have one. There's no subscription, it's pretty painless, and doesn't commit you to any further purchases. This is a BIG deal - how many things do you skip because of the hassle, or because of fear of the lamprey like attachment onto your credit card of a subscription that will be a hassle to cancel? In any case, there's an unfulfilled need in the market - if no TiVO, if impatient, if you missed it, $3 and it is yours. Done.
BUT....movies are a different matter. If you missed it in the theater, then there's on demand, there's premium cable (think HBO), then regular cable (think TBS), then regular TV (think ABC). Oh, and this little thing called a DVD that's available at every Walmart, Target, Costco, Sam's, etc. If they don't have the one you want, buy it online at Amazon. Don't want to own it? Go to the corner Blockbuster. They don't have it? Netflix does. There are LOTS of options for getting movies, and honestly, if Apple were selling movies online, if they were the same quality as the downloadable TV shows, they'd be far inferior to DVDs. With no extras. So...
2.) Pricing - $10 minimum for a film, perhaps $20 if Hollywood gets it's way. OK, problem - we're talking about iPod resolution here - 320x240 pixels or so. DVDs are 720x480. So more than FOUR times as much information visually. And, Apple videos are compressed more - more artifacts. Shown on a TV, they look like bad, bad VHS. With more compression artifacts. Why on earth would I (or anyone) pay $20 for that? With no extras to boot? That only plays on a computer or iPod that's authorized for that one account? Yes, I can connect either device to a TV, but that's a major wiring hassle.
I'm recanting my previous position - I'm no longer all gung ho about Apple selling movies online to compete with DVDs. It doesn't make sense.
Why should anyone WANT to buy a movie from Apple at that quality and that price, with those limitations? Best case scenario - it's $10, comes out the day the DVD does, and downloads really fast. So now I have a tiny movie watchable only on MY computer (not yours), or my iPod Video (if I have one). iPod Video is $300 to $400. Perfectly decent DVD players are as little as $50. Yes yes yes, it isn't portable and tiny. True. But if you're going to sell a movie for playback on a 3 inch screen instead of a 36 inch screen, shouldn't the pricing be in line as well? And also, I'd bet dollars to donuts that downloaded movies would contain ZERO extras, unlike DVDs. No deleted scenes, no commentaries, nada.
So why would this make any sense at all? Why should Apple do this at all?
1.) If Apple gets Front Row working better (it's dog slow at present), they have a nice home do-it-all box - your own videos, your own music, your own pictures, etc, all play back nicely. The Intel based Minis are a lovely platform for this, and at present, cost about what an HD DVD or Blu Ray player cost, but do tons more.
2.) The Really Big Reason: there are two high def movie formats out on the market right now, and players cost from $500 to $1500. Blu Ray players cost $1000 minimum right now. That is nuts. A Core Solo Mini with 1GB of RAM is $700. That's right in there in terms of playback device costs. If Apple had a movie download service in HIGH DEFINITION instead of SD, then they'd be able to make a reasonable pitch as an alternative movie source. Then $20 per "raw" (no extras) movie starts to make sense. Using H.264 at 960x540 or 1280x720 pixels, at 6 or 8 megabits datarate (these are all very rough guesstimate numbers here), a 90 minute movie, downloading at 333 kilobytes/sec (based on my own cable modem speeds, but obviously would drop if everyone were downloading) would take about an 4 1/2 hours to download if my napkin math is right (8 mbits=1 MB/sec, 3.6 GB/hr, 1.5 hrs=5.4 GB file size, 333 kilobytes/sec=0.333 MB/sec=1.2 GB/hr, so 4.5 hours to download).
Hmmm....that kinda sucks. But compared to what? If Apple had an HD DVD or Blu Ray optical drive in that mini the price would push up by $150 or more at least. But it would be a pretty much do-it-all machine at that point - run Windows, run OS X, watch movies, download movies, listen to yours or buy more music, etc.
I've previously speculated on the need for an Airport Express A/V - like the current Airport Express (which can stream audio from computer to stereo, it has analog and digital connections), we'd just need a newer version of it that could decode H.264 (and MPEG-2 while we're at it) and stream it wirelessly from any computer running iTunes (or video metric equivalent) to this box which would decode and play the signal. There are complications as to how menus etc. are handled, but it could be done.
Frankly, thinking about this the other day, XBox 360 could jump all over this option already - Microsoft just needs to cut the deals with movie studios and get the host software running on another Windows computer in the house - not a stretch for the typical gamer household. Or just download directly to the XBox's own optional but limited hard drive. The Xbox 360 would have noooooooo trouble at all driving menus etc. - plenty of hardware horsepower in there. And, frankly, it's tons cheaper and does more than a dedicated high def player anyway. Who's to say they aren't already working on this? And if they aren't, they damn well SHOULD.
And if the two went head to head? I'd expect it'd be an interesting fight. Even though Microsoft outsources it's user interface design to other firms (this I know for a fact, I've even worked with some of the folks who do it), Apple still tends to win on the Easy To Use factor. So Apple's would probably have a nicer UI design. The catch would be the hardware - the XBox 360 is pretty much the ultimate piece of hardware to drive a UI - you can do all kinds of sexy powerful 3D stuff with it. Plus, XBox 360 is built at a loss, anyway - so the hardware is (relatively) cheap. Apple would have to come up with their own box, without subsidizing the hardware costs. Because if the game is to stream the content, then that means less smarts in the delivery device (the part that plugs into the HDTV) to keep the costs down - otherwise you might as well have a full fledged computer attached, not just an Airport Express AV/HD. So how to do a good UI that relies on low end hardware to display it, and still be effective, cool, and sexy? That's the challenge. And I think Microsoft, if they didn't flub the UI or create an unreliable product (a greater challenge for them since it has to run on a galaxy of hardware instead of Apple's limited and carefully controlled lineup), would have the upper hand on the hardware end.
But Apple has the market leadership on downloadable content, and everybody KNOWS they don't want to be beholden to Microsoft. Apple has gotten aggressive and negotiated fiercely, but I'd think Hollywood would still think Microsoft the greater threat long term.
OK, I could go on and on, that's enough for now. Comment away!
Monday, June 19, 2006
PS - the adage at frogdesign (where I worked for a bit in the 90s) on set was whenever there was a problem, folks said "MFIP" - which was short for "Mike Fix In Post" as in Mike will fix it in post production. Since I was on salary, and clearly had no life to lead of my own, I did. Grr.
This isn't QUITE news, since they showed beta stuff doing this at NAB (and I just read an article about a Land Rover Challenge using the 25 mbit only beta Sony software), but it is definitely progress - why take it on the road until it is ready? (Unless it was supposed to be ready and it isn't).
In any case, I've been getting antsy/bored/irritated waiting for native Canon 24F HDV, native JVC 24p HDV, and ANY native XDCAM HD editing in FCP since all three were demonstrated at NAB earlier this year.
So unless this was booked long ago on a "Sure, it'll be done by then!" basis (which is entirely possible, since I just found out about this and the kickoff is next week), MAYBE we'll see some new software out of Apple in the near future?
The more I think about it, I'm thinkin' we WON'T see new FCS version in the next week or two - Sony may or may not ship a final version of their software (and hey, at NAB they said it'd ship in about a month, and that was TWO months ago. Maybe they are having trouble with it? Dunno.
In any case, the waiting continues.
Friday, June 16, 2006
Discussions with various folks involved in high level, Hollywood grade productions shot digitally with Genesis, F900s & F950s, Viper, etc.
Worth reading for the high level pro's opinions.
Movies shot digitally coming out this year: Bryan Singer's Superman Returns, Michael Mann's Miami Vice, Adam Sandler's Click, Mel Gibson's Apocalypto, David Fincher's Zodiac, etc.
Also links to Scott's other article in the Hollywood Reporter on Digital Cinematography.
Review of 12 port RAID SATA enclosure with port multiplying (done as 5/5/1/1 attachments).
No time to read, gotta run, going to the Texas Motion Picture Alliance meeting now.
OK, now read it - comes with a PCI-X card that is decent but not outstanding, their unit shipped with firmware that was incompatible with the Sonnet port multiplying cards (this is BAD, upgradeable but only via PC), odd configuration of 5/5/1/1 instead of 4/4/4 or 3/3/3/3 connections for maximum possible speed. Having a 10 drive RAID with 2 extras for backups is an interesting and useful config.
It's LOUD - louder than you'd want to have in an edit suite. Drive ejection is odd - you have to use a tool to push a deeply recessed button to release drives, which is less than ideal. $800 empty with no drives, about 33-35 pounds empty.
In my opinion, an interesting but not quite right product.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
HDMI is sloooooowly becoming the standard transport for consumer level HD content, and eventually might become so for computer displays as well. The current standard is only 8 bits/channel (24 bit color, 256 gradations per color...I think it's 8 bit, right?). The new standard, HDMI v1.3, bumps it up to 12 bits/channel. ATI and nVidia will be able to support it easily enough (at least according to the HDMI folks), but will the OS on any computer platform? The new spec will allow for 1080i60 in 36 bit (12 bits/channel, 4096 gradations per color channel), or 1080p with a 90Hz refresh in 36 bit color. In theory Blu Ray and HD DVD specs call for support of this, but is it implemented or planned to e implemented any time soon in the players?
Mike's Comments: The concept is good, the need exists, but will it happen, and will it matter? HDMI is intended for digital devices - and plasmas and LCDs can't really even properly display 8 bits/channel as is. So display devices neeed to get significantly better before they are helped by this. Calibration will be helped by greater bit depths - you'll be able to make adjustments without substantial banding in the display. HD DVD and Blu Ray players will need this new HDMI hardware to support it, AND will need to implement it in both hardware and also in the discs themselves if they are going to take advantage of it beyond calibration/color manipulation. In other words, if the content itself is going to look better, it needs to be encoded at a greater bit depth, and that brings up three issues:
1.) Greater bit depth means higher data rates - is there enough headroom in the data rate specifications as well as in the realistic encode rates (note regular DVD specs call for up to 10mbit data rates, but most discs are encoded in the 6-7 mbit range at best) in order to take advantage of the greater bit depth?
2.) The encoding houses would have to encode to this greater bit depth.
3.) What happens if you put a 12 bit encoded disc in an 8 bit only capable player? Is it smart enough to handle it, or does it choke? We've already got competing standards out there with Blu Ray and HD DVD, why add another layer of potential failure?
As for computers - all operating systems are inherently 8 bits/channel displays systems. The graphics card are set up for 8 bits/channel (24 bit color). It takes specialty cards to do 10 bits/channel (SDI and HD-SDI cards). So new hardware and new OSes would be required to take advantage of this. And again, don't forget, LCD panels are going to be 99% of the displays for new high end computers, and they can't show the difference. So again, I don't see this happening anytime soon.
My take on it - great idea, not likely to be implemented any time soon in any meaningful way.
With Two Big Compact 2-Disk SATA II RAID
· Compact 2-disk SATA II RAID storage up to 1TB
· Best for real-time video editing on PCIe-equipped Macs or PCs
· Fast throughput of up to 110MB/s in Fast mode (RAID 0)
· Comes with next-generation SATA II PCI-Express Card 2E
PORTLAND, OR (June 2006) – Today LaCie announced it will bundle a next-generation SATA II PCI-Express (PCIe) card 2E with its compact Two Big two-disk RAID system. The new LaCie SATA II 3Gb/s PCI-Express Card 2E has two ports and provides a native x1 host bus interface for use with Apple® Power Mac® G5s or PCs with PCIe architecture. The LaCie Two Big with PCIe card bundle is available for the lowered price of $449 (500GB) or $879 (1TB). LaCie also offers a Two Big bundled with a PCI-X card for the lowered price of $469 (500GB) and $899 (1TB), as well as optional spare drive bundles.
LaCie Product Manager Emanuela Boila said, “Owners of new G5s will now be able to take advantage of LaCie Two Big’s speedy SATA II interface. It’s the perfect solution for video editors who want a no-fuss RAID unit with amazing throughput of up to 110MB/s. You can also protect your files with RAID redundancy via a simple-to-use selection switch. The two-port PCIe card allows you to add another unit for increased speed and capacity—all at an unbeatable price.”
LaCie Two Big with PCIe achieves a maximum throughput of 110MB/s in Fast mode (RAID 0). Drives are hot-swappable for instant expandability and the unit is hot-pluggable so can be removed without having to power down the computer. LaCie Two Big is also available with an optional spare hard drive.
LaCie Two Big comes pre-formatted in Fast mode in which the disks are striped together for ultimate speed right out of the box, best for real-time video editing. It can also be configured to RAID 1 (called Safe mode) in which data is mirrored for redundancy in case of drive failure. Concatenation (called Big mode) spans data over both disks so full capacity can be achieved whereby the drive appears as one large volume, or alternatively JBOD mode will show each disk as an independent volume.
· Compact and sturdy metal case and quiet fan for heat dissipation
· Fast data transfer rates thanks to SATA II interface
· Two hot-swappable SATA drives
· Pre-formatted in RAID 0 (Fast mode) for fastest throughput of 110MB/s
· Simple to reconfigure with RAID selection switch
· Automatic drive rebuilding in RAID 1 (Safe mode)
· Bundled with a 2-port SATA II PCIe or 4-port PCI-X card
· Works with PC or Mac
LaCie Two Big is available for pre-order today via LaCie websites and widely available through LaCie’s specialized dealer network end of June at the suggested retail prices below. LaCie Two Big ships with the selected PCI card and all necessary cables for immediate use. Additional product information can be found at www.lacie.com.
LaCie Two Big with PCI-Express 500GB @ $449 (+250GB spare HDD is $569)
LaCie Two Big with PCI-Express 1TB @ $879 (+500GB spare HDD is $1179)
LaCie Two Big with PCI-X 500GB @ $469 (+250GB spare HDD is $589)
LaCie Two Big with PCI-X 1TB @ $899 (+500GB spare HDD is $1199)
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Headline says it. Details, screengrabs, videos, the works.
Found via digg.com
Robert Goodman of Goodman Guides talks about establishing a baseline with a Chroma DuMonde chart in order to create a look in camera. Shooters, read this.
pop filter for microphones. Good widget, cheap, makes a difference!
Two good facts in this:
1.) Sony is still releasing it's first movies in about a week, (next Tuesday, the 20th), and
2.) The Samsung Blu Ray player is still scheduled to ship the 25th.
Among early movie releases, I'd be interested in The Fifth Element (sucker for Luc Besson), and House of Flying Daggers, and the original Terminator. They are DEFINITELY not starting with their A game here. The Incredibles is purportedly coming out this summer as well. More details of releases here.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Blu Ray laptops? Check.
Blu Ray movie titles? Check.
Blu Ray movie players? Oops, delayed until mid August.
Josh Oakhurst is another blogger out there writing about indie moviemaking, and he has two case studies he's writing about in the linked article above. The sad truth - both of the clients jumped in over their head before they really thought things through. Josh nails the key concept - BALANCE. One guy had a $10K budget and bought an HVX200 and plans on ONLY using the 4GB P2 card it came with, which gives him 4-5 minutes of shooting time at 1080 res. Ooooooooooops.
Another bought an Andromeda (tricked out Panasonic DVX-100A capable of 4:4:4 recording), but has no idea how to use it.
Both of these guys are probably hosed - they are undercapitalized, underequipped, and lack knowledge to realistically pull off what they are trying. But they aren't doomed - they'll learn a lot from this adventure and then be ready to move on.
Boils down to this - think through whatever it is that you're planning, and talk to somebody who's done it before and is up to date. Josh is promoting his own consulting services (and I wish him all the best), and I, of course, pimp myself on this blog.
But find SOMEBODY (me, Josh, whoever) who knows what they are doing and talk to them. Some folks will be happy to share their time, others will charge for it.
My usual indie lament is that indies will knowingly, willingly, and gladly save a nickel Friday that will cost them $20 on Monday, because they don't have the $20 on Friday. This drives me nuts.
Overall, I think it is a FAR better choice to spend a little on (ahem) consulting up front to make sure your game plan is valid before charging off into the sunset, credit card in hand.
But that's just me.
In any case, read the linked article and learn what you can from others' mistakes.
Nice little tutorial from proapptips.com on dealing with 4:3 footage in a 16:9 timeline or vice versa. This certainly comes up not just with different aspect ratios but also different formats - dropping SD footage (usually 4:3) into an HD (always 16:9) timeline. This particular tutorial is just dealing with SD footage, but there are additional issues to be dealt with (fields and scale, for instance) when working with HD timelines.
Proapptips.com looks to be chock full of tips for the Apple Pro Apps, I'm reading more there now. Looks worthwhile...
Monday, June 12, 2006
Well, poot. Not looking good.
Final Cut Express v3.5 is now supported on Intel GMA950 integrated graphics chipsets - in other words, Intel based Minis and MacBooks.
After these machines were specifically not supported for Final Cut Studio, and much pondering on why, this is Apple clearly stating that FCE is for the casual/prosumer market, and FCS is for Pros, and your Macs should match accordingly.
I still don't have my Final Cut Studio v5.1 (but that's because I haven't sent off for it, which I'm finally doing today), so I haven't tested FCS on my MacBook yet.
But I'm looking forward to running this stuff through it's paces...
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Jim Jannard, founder of Red, posted on DVXuser.com that they'll be at Cinegear with new body and cage revisions:
I'm happy to report that we have made some significant improvements to the design and will show the new RED ONE body at Cinegear.
Follow the link for more info.
Friday, June 09, 2006
Film & Video | Shoot It on the Virtual Backlot
Using greenscreen and backgrounds (even tiled backgrounds) for quickie faux location shoots. Not matte paintings, virtual environments. Can't fly your crew to Chicago? Look into stuff like this.
Studio Daily | Shedding Light on An Inconvenient Truth
Long interview about the making of An Inconvenient Truth, the doc about Al Gore's global warming warnings. They shot on pretty much every conceivable format - 8, 16, and 35mm film, DV, HDV, HDCAM video, etc.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
FirmTek today announced it is now shipping their anticipated SeriTek/2SM2-E ExpressCard adapter, a month ahead of original projections. Announced at NAB, the solution provides a MacBook Pro with storage performance.
This is the fastest storage you can get on a MacBook Pro. Period. (OK, for now.)
If anybody gets one, please contact me ASAP. You can also see some testing notes here on barefeats.com, BUT they only tested max throughput, NOT tail end performance (drives get slower as they get full/write to the tail end of the drive).
Studio Daily | View topic - PC or Mac for Digital Video Editing? I need hands info
Holy Wars Volume 97: "Mac or PC for editing?"
This is a forum discussion on Macs vs. PCs for editing. At issue is WinXP vs. OS X, as well as Apple hardware vs. Wintel/AMD hardware, as well as Final Cut Pro vs Avid (vs Premiere vs Vegas vs Edius etc.).
It's a Holy War, with people lined up on either side of the divide with religious zeal.
Main points made:
-Macs tend to be easier to take care of
-Macs tend to crash less
-PCs are less expensive
-PCs are easier and cheaper to upgrade (sorta, depends)
-more editing package choices on PC (true - Mac is Final Cut or Avid, PCs have lots more choices, but are they choices you want?)
-Apple has NO virus issues. Really. Maybe in the future, but it's not an issue now. The move to Intel has NO effect on Mac vulnerability unless you're running Windows on that box - then you'd have the same vulnerabilities as any WinXP system
-lots of people are happier on PCs with the power and flexibility of Vegas or other apps - the big point is, there is no One Best Editor, at best there is the best editing app for a particular person and a particular project.
-So when someone says "App X is the best, don't look at anything else!" be sure you ask them to qualify that statement as to why
-different tools for different jobs, and even then, different (key)strokes for different folks
-Avid, in my opinion, is harder to learn than Final Cut Pro
-Final Cut Pro, in my opinion, is often a better choice for indie filmmakers due to it's low cost, ease of use, flexible workflow, EASE OF SCALING (moving up to uncompressed or better formats)
-Final Cut Pro, in my opinion, is a good solution for indie filmmakers because it also handles so many of the tasks specific to moviemaking well. If you're just cutting DV for DV or DVD deliverable, there's lots of reasonable choices. Once you want to start worrying about film matchback, or handling HD, or handing 24p, or handling HDV, or handling multi-track audio, or doing high quality color correction, or outputting to uncompressed HD, or handling 4:4:4, or handling 10 bit anything, the list of applications gets narrowed, and you typically end up with the A-Team: Apple, Avid, or Adobe. They all have their different advantages, but if somebody walks up and asks me cold what to get, I'll say Final Cut Pro because it is such a good INDIE MOVIEMAKING tool for so many reasons.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
TiVo unveiled on Wednesday broadband video downloads, marking the latest move by the digital video recorder company to expand its Internet-related services.
Through the new TiVoCast service, people can download broadband video clips to their TiVo boxes for free from a handful of Internet sites, such as woman-oriented iVillage, technology-focused CNET.com (a CNET News.com sister site), entertainment-grooved Heavy.com, The New York Times, the National Basketball Association and Women's National Basketball Association, and news and political video blog site Rocketboom.
Tired. Lazy. Late. But interesting. Rocketboom? Cool, rock on Amanda Congdon, you've earned it.
Why cover? Yet another potential indie distribution medium.
Didn't know this one - the MacBook's GAM950 integrated graphics are the same as on the Intel based Minis, BUT are clocked lower (for less heat and power draw/heat generation, I would imagine). Minis are clocked to 400 MHz, MacBooks at 250 MHz.
Once again, Scott Kirsner does my job for me, rounding up interesting info on the distribution side of movies. Check the above link.
Google video for Mac player now available. And YES, it's a Universal Binary, so it'll run on Intel based Macs (like my BlackBook) as well.
In the meantime, I've had an interesting week - met with Sean Safreed of Red Giant Software (makers of Magic Bullet, InstantHD, and other plugins) and talked about future product ideas. He happened to be passing through Austin so I took him to Chuy's, an Austin TexMex legend, and then to Amy's Ice Cream on SoCo (South Congress) to get a taste of Austin. We talked about things to help workflow, and bounced a bunch of ideas around, I hope they productize them, and SOON.
I've also picked up a new consulting client, and I'm working with them on some compression issues, interesting stuff.
Got a bunch of mail lambasting the MacOSRumors article I linked to the other day (see below on main blog page) about the next gen tower Macs, they made the obvious point about look to Intel's planned server and workstation motherboards - this is pretty much what Apple will be using.
To get an idea of what the processor will be capable of, check out this detailed report from AnandTech.com.
AppleInsider reports news, not speculation (novel!) on the new Intel motherboard chipset and processors, including support for 800MHz DDR2 memory, and a 3.2 GHz Core 2 Extreme (aka Woodcrest) processor. There will also be an embedded graphics version of that as well.
Also, for all those asking about The Texas HD Shootout progress, I'm working on it, still. And I'm doing spring cleaning in my house. So patience, it's getting there. Since there aren't any cameras shipping that'll upset the Apple cart any time soon, I feel OK with that. (The JVC GY-HD200 and GY-HD250 will ship purportedly in September, but I don't expect them to substatially rock the apple cart, so to speak - they will have much in common with the GY-HD100U, which was included in my testing).
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Rumor time, read with typical disclaimers:
Employing Intel's 'Conroe' Core 2 Duo/Core 2 Extreme processors, there will be 2, 4, and 8-core models available with DDR2-800 memory, multiple PCI Express x16-SLI graphics cards, lots of expansion options, and a new enclosure that expands the liquid-cooled PMG5 design to offer professionals everything and the kitchen sink.
I'm excited about the specs IF they are correct, but I'm most skeptical about the timeline - there's usually 3 or 4 chicken little "It's almost here!" proclamations before it actually turns out to be true.
So, IF those specs are true, that should just be unholy fast. SLI graphics means you run two graphics cards together to get nearly twice the pixel/polygon crunching power. I expect this to be especially important once FCP 6 ships, as I expect it to leverage Core Image and Core Video for dramatic increases in realtime performance (that's all my own GUESS, I have no hard data points on that). More expansion sounds good, probably to allow for more hard drives inside.
That's not stopping folks from getting excited about it - Silverado Systems is taking preorders for whatever the Mac Pros turns out to be, a no-cost option to just get in queue.
I've put myself on that list (since that's who I usually get my Mac stuff from - Torrey Loomis, The Guy over there, knows his stuff).
Monday, June 05, 2006
The Ars Technica crew writes about all the movie rental models presently available.
Relevance to HD4NDs readers: these are the current ways you could potentially distribute your movie beyond theatrical and DVD SALES (this discusses the RENTAL market, which wouldn't be nearly as profitable for you - if Netflix has 20 copies to serve ongoing demand, that isn't exactly going to make you rich....)
Sunday, June 04, 2006
In some cases, Final Cut Pro will drop frames when performing an Edit To Tape operation, when the video is in an HD format, and the Edit To Tape operation is performed via a PCI Express I/O card.
If your scenario matches these details, you can avoid the issue by disabling Mirror on Desktop while performing the Edit To Tape operation.
To change the setting for Mirror on Desktop, follow these steps:
-Choose Final Cut Pro > Audio/Video Settings.
-On the Audio/Video Settings window, click on the A/V Devices tab.
-Deselect the Mirror on Desktop checkbox to disable Mirror on Desktop.
This document will be updated as more information becomes available.
Another Ken Stone article, this about a small steadicam rig for small/light cameras. They mention the HVX200 in the article.
It covers multiple options for how to shoot to obtain sync between your cameras, then how to create and work with Multiclips in Final Cut Pro 5.x for multicam editing.
A good read.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Wired News: Yahoo Video Mimics YouTube pretty much nails it - the scary thing for YouTube (which I use, like, and enjoy) is that they have no defensible IP (intellectual property) - Yahoo looked at the model, looked at what they were doing, and decided it was a good idea. Rather than buy the company, they decided to just emulate it on their own and rely on the Yahoo brand name to vault them over YouTube. And they have very, very good odds of success. But they're doing some things different - they link to content hosted elsewhere, like iFilm etc. Anyway, why is this of interest? Because YouTube.com and similar services give you a free place to host content for streaming. Trailers anyone? Broadband bills anyone? YouTube may not be the most optimal delivery platform for quality, but it is tough to beat the current price (free).
Wired 14.06: Prime Time for Hi-Def talks about HDTV's coming online for REAL, finally. Not news for most readers, but a good overview for those just tuning in.
The Perils of PC Posture - Yahoo! News talks about typical bad PC posture, which oh-so-most-certainly applies to editors who sit hunched in front of their NLEs for waaaaaaayyyyyyy too long at a time. Read this so you won't have back pain, carpal tunnel, etc. Actually, what will REALLY help is to read this then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
Also Off Topic but deeply disturbing -
Vast DNA Bank Pits Policing Vs. Privacy
With little public debate, state and federal rules for cataloging DNA have broadened in recent years to include not only violent felons, as was originally the case, but also perpetrators of minor crimes and even people who have been arrested but not convicted.
"These databases are starting to look more like a surveillance tool than a tool for criminal investigation," said Tania Simoncelli of the American Civil Liberties Union in New York.
Pay attention and let your legislators know if this freaks you out as much as it does me. Governments tend to NOT release powers or data they have - their powers tend to grow until it is wretchedly excessive. Anyway, I'll not rant on here, but I think a gov't database of everyone's DNA is a HORRIBLE IDEA.
Charlie White of Digital Media Net get hands on with HDV, Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0, and an OpenHD spec Dell workstation.
Some interesting notes/caveats:
-Premiere Pro 2.0 DOES support native HDV - no transcoding to another codec required any longer
-Sony HVR-M10U deck is NOT supported by Premiere Pro 2.0
-the ONLY Sony HDV device supported by Premiere Pro 2.0 is the Sony HVR-Z1U, so HDR-FX1 customers are probably in trouble
-Z1U immediately recognized, and while not specifically mentioned on the list of presets, logging and capturing worked just fine
-as with all HDV NLE systems, you CANNOT monitor back through the camera to see what's going on on your timeline live. Because of the very specific and disciplined structure of MPEG-2 GOPs (group of pictures), you can't monitor live through the camcorder or deck. No NLE is going to be able to fix this problem.
-AJA & BlackMagic can display through the cards however (Bluefish can too, but they are absurdly expensive)
-placing clips, scrubbing etc. worked like DV (assuming you have a sufficiently hoss system)
-they started stacking up effects to see how Premiere Pro would do with it - it did quite well. (be VERY interesting to see how Premiere Pro 2.0 and Final Cut Studio ran doing the same kind of stuff on a MacBook Pro, for instance!)
-sounds like PPro2 can do more RT stuff than FCP at first blush
-30 second test sequence with dissolves took less than two minutes to conform and master back to tape on a dual 3.6 Xeon (high end desktop) box.
A good read to help in camera selection.
Friday, June 02, 2006
Tiny little bus powered FW800 RAID (two laptop type drives in external enclosure with hardware RAID 0), pretty darned fast (at least when empty) - 55ish MB/sec writes, 75ish MB/sec reads. And did I say BUS powered? Plug into your laptop and go...
Thursday, June 01, 2006
NYTimes covers MovieBeam, the service that relies on a $200 box you buy that receives digital movies piggybacked on the PBS signal. New movies $4/ea, old movies $2/ea. About 100 movies fit on the internal hard drive, and 4 or 5 a month are HD.
The good news is no broadband connection required, the bad news is a phone connection is required to phone home billing info.
Read on for the full details.
Why cover this? Yet another distribution medium. How does it affect indies? Not at all - since only about 100 movies fit on the thing, it'll only be the most popular 100, so it is back to the "limited retail shelf space" situation.
I think someone (come on, Apple!) could make a better solution using a broadband connected device (Intel Mini anyone, Viiv? Hello? Bueller? Bueller?) with access to a much wider range of movies.
My friend Graeme Nattress reviews MetaSAN, a cross platform SAN solution for Macs and PCs. Does NOT require a dedicated metadata controller as Apple's Xsan does.
What's a SAN? A SAN let's you have access to common storage, typically over fibre channel connections, which are super fast. Why would you care? Editing or VFX groups love these - you can play back uncompressed SD or HD off a properly robust SAN - so no more sneakernetting footage around. One centralized place for all the data to be, and everybody can access it who is supposed to, and you can allocate bandwidth. Bandwidth allocation is useful to do things like guarantee enough bandwidth so that the capture station never drops frames while capturing, and the other Macs make do with the rest without hindering the capture station's performance.
There is also MetaLAN, which gives faster-than-usual access to files over GigE, and I want to learn more about that as well.
(found via FresHDV.com)
AJA New Kona3 drivers:
-more/better 2K support
-cross conversion on the fly (720p to 1080i and vice versa)
-96KHz audio and 16 channel audio playback/capture
-contextual menus in Control Panel
-cutom LUT support (!!!!)
-DPX file support (!!!)
-new utility applications
-other improvements and bug fixes
Kona 2 drivers v2.0 features:
-contextual menus in the Control Panel
-Custom LUT support
-DPX file support
-new utiilitiy applications
-plus other improvements and bug fixes
Next up, BlackMagic Design released their new v5..6 drivers for MultiBridge and DeckLink cards (including DeckLink HD series).
It's mostly a bug fix and stability release:
This release adds various stability and performance improvements for all DeckLink cards. Compatible with Final Cut Pro v5.1.1 (not v4.5)
But the new v5.6 drivers for Windows offer some more substantial features:
This release adds native HD 720/50p support for Adobe Production Studio, real time HDV playback in Premiere Pro 2.0 and Eyeon Fusion5 preview plugin.
Mike's Comments: Kona3 is a replacement for Kona2, and I note they don't promote Kona2 on the Mac product page any more (still for sale? Dunno). Kona3 is taking a serious run at being able to do film related stuff with the 2K support, and custom LUT support and DPX support go a long way in that regard.
The new BMD drivers are mostly just stability releases and bug fixes, I'll be going through and double checking that everything works the way it is supposed to on DeckLink HD Pro cards (PCI-X and PCIe) and my MultiBridge Extreme.
It's quite convenient (actually, knew it was coming) that both AJA and BlackMagic have new drivers out post-NAB, this gives me a good test platform in terms of "latest and greatest" to run on these.
I'll also be testing these with QuickTime 7.1.1 and OS X 10.4.6.