• Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020
Academy's Science and Technology Council adds 7 members
Lois Burwell

Linda Borgeson, Lois Burwell, Teri E.Dorman, Greg Hedgepath, Ujwal Nirgudkar, Helena Packer and Amy Vincent have accepted invitations to join the Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, bringing the Council’s 2020–2021 membership roster to 25.

Borgeson is currently SVP of feature postproduction, Disney Live Action.  With more than 30 years working in film, she has spent most of her career at Miramax Films and The Walt Disney Studios, working on a diverse slate of films including “Jungle Cruise,” Mulan,” “Dumbo,” “Tomorrowland,” “Kill Bill,” the first three “Spy Kids” films and “Scary Movie.”  Borgeson has a strong knowledge base in new technologies, digital cameras, dailies workflows, visual effects, 3D, large screen projection, color pipelines/ACES, DCinema, immersive sound formats, remote solutions, High Frame Rate (HFR) and HDR/EDR. She has been an Academy Member-at-Large since 2018.

Burwell won an Oscar® for her makeup work on “Braveheart” and earned a nomination for “Saving Private Ryan.”  Her other feature credits include “Ready Player One,” “Lincoln,” “War Horse” and “The Princess Bride.”  A member of the Academy since 1997, she is currently serving the third year of her second term as Makeup Artists and Hairstylists Branch governor and her fourth year as first vice president on the Academy’s Board of Governors.

Dorman is a sound editor who has worked on more than 140 films, including “La La Land,” “Foxcatcher,” “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “Moneyball,” “Unstoppable,” “Man on Fire,” the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series, “Spy Game,” “Pearl Harbor,” “The Prince of Tides,” “Lethal Weapon 2,” “Bird,” “Top Gun” and “The Deer Hunter.”  She has been a member of the Academy since 1988 and a governor representing the Sound Branch since 2017.

Hedgepath is a supervising sound editor who has worked in film and television for more than 20 years.  A two-time Golden Reel Award winner, his career highlights include designing sound effects for “Twister” and “Starship Troopers.”  His additional credits include “Coming 2 America,” “Queen & Slim,” “Straight Outta Compton,” “Selma,” “Footloose” and “The Incredible Hulk.”  He began his career in film at Lucasfilm and later worked at Sony, Soundelux, Formosa Group and Warner Bros. Hedgepath has been a member of the Academy’s Sound Branch since 2014.

Nirgudkar has worked in the Indian film industry for the past 39 years.  He initiated and coordinated the project to translate the Academy’s landmark digital preservation research reports, The Digital Dilemma and The Digital Dilemma 2, into the Marathi and Hindi languages.  In 2011, he established, and is currently chairing, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) India Section.  Nirgudkar earned a chemical engineering degree from U.D.C.T. Mumbai University (now called ICT).  He has been an Academy Member-at-Large since 2017.

Packer is currently SVP and general manager of content production for the Silicon Valley and Shanghai-based DGene Technology.  Her work includes the development of future technology for visual effects with a focus on AI and virtual production.  Packer has supervised visual effects on dozens of feature films, episodic TV series, commercials and music videos.  She has served on the Academy’s Visual Effects Branch Diversity Subcommittee as chair, the Visual Effects Branch Executive Committee and the Scientific and Technical Awards Committee.

With a 30-year career as a cinematographer, Vincent’s feature credits include “Footloose,” “The Experiment,” “Black Snake Moan,” “Hustle & Flow,” for which she won a Cinematography award at the Sundance Film Festival, and “Eve’s Bayou.”  She received the Women in Film Kodak Vision award in 2001.  Vincent participates in mentorship, training and education through the International Cinematographers Guild.  She has been a member of the Academy since 2004 and currently serves as first vice president of the American Society of Cinematographers, where she co-chairs the ASC Future Practices committee.

The Council co-chairs for 2020–2021 are Visual Effects Branch governor Craig Barron and Member-at-Large Annie Chang.

The Council’s 16 other returning members are Bill Baggelaar, Brooke Breton, Bill Corso, Theo Gluck, Buzz Hays, Leslie Iwerks, Andrea Kalas, Academy governor John Knoll, Colette Mullenhoff, Cary Phillips, Arjun Ramamurthy, Rachel Rose, David Schuelle, Leon Silverman, Jeffrey E. Taylor and Steve Yedlin.

Established in 2003 by the Academy’s Board of Governors, the Science and Technology Council provides a forum for the exchange of information, promotes cooperation among diverse technological interests within the industry, sponsors publications, fosters educational activities, and preserves the history of the science and technology of motion pictures.

  • Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020
"Sound beaming" device puts music in your head — no headphones required
This product image released by Noveto Systems shows the SoundBeamer which beams music and sounds straight into your head, without the need for headphones. The technology uses a 3-D sensing module and locates and tracks the ear position sending audio via ultrasonic waves to create sound pockets by the user’s ears. Sound can be heard in stereo or a spatial 3-D mode that creates 360 degree sound around the listener, the company said. (Noveto Systems via AP)

Imagine a world where you move around in your own personal sound bubble. You listen to your favorite tunes, play loud computer games, watch a movie or get navigation directions in your car — all without disturbing those around you.

That's the possibility presented by "sound beaming," a new futuristic audio technology from Noveto Systems, an Israeli company. On Friday it will debut a desktop device that beams sound directly to a listener without the need for headphones.

The company provided The Associated Press with an exclusive demo of the desktop prototype of its SoundBeamer 1.0 before its launch Friday. 

The listening sensation is straight out of a sci-fi movie. The 3-D sound is so close it feels like it's inside your ears while also in front, above and behind them. 

Noveto expects the device will have plenty of practical uses, from allowing office workers to listen to music or conference calls without interrupting colleagues to letting someone play a game, movie or music without disturbing their significant others.

The lack of headphones means it's possible to hear other sounds in the room clearly.

The technology uses a 3-D sensing module and locates and tracks the ear position sending audio via ultrasonic waves to create sound pockets by the user's ears. Sound can be heard in stereo or a spatial 3-D mode that creates 360 degree sound around the listener, the company said.

The demo includes nature video clips of swans on a lake, bees buzzing and a babbling brook, where the listener feels completely transported into the scene.

But even CEO Christophe Ramstein finds it hard to put the concept into words. "The brain doesn't understand what it doesn't know," he said.

In a Noveto demonstration conducted via Zoom from Tel Aviv, SoundBeamer Product Manager Ayana Wallwater was unable to hear the sound of gunshots on a gaming demo. 

That's the point. But she does get to enjoy the reactions of people trying the software for the first time. 

"Most people just say, 'Wow, I really don't believe it,'" she said.

"You don't believe it because it sounds like a speaker, but no one else can hear it…it's supporting you and you're in the middle of everything. It's happening around you."

By changing a setting, the sound can follow a listener around when they move their head. It's also possible to move out of the beam's path and hear nothing at all, which creates a surreal experience.

"You don't need to tell the device where you are. It's not streaming to one exact place," Wallwater said. 

"It follows you wherever you go. So it's personally for you — follows you, plays what you want inside your head."

"This is what we dream of," she adds. "A world where we get the sound you want. You don't need to disturb others and others don't get disturbed by your sound. But you can still interact with them."

After his first listening experience Ramstein asked himself how it was different from other audio devices. 

"I was thinking, 'Yeah, but is it the same with headphones?' No, because I have the freedom and it's like I have the freedom of doing what I want to do. And I have these sounds playing in my head as there would be something happening here, which is difficult to explain because we have no reference for that."

While the concept of sound beaming is not new, Noveto was the first to launch the technology and their SoundBeamer 1.0 desktop device will be the first branded consumer product. 

Ramstein said a "smaller, sexier" version of the prototype will be ready for consumer release in time for Christmas 2021.

"You know, I was trying to think how we compare sound beaming with any other inventions in history. And I think the only one that came to mind is… the first time I tried the iPod I was like, 'Oh, my God. What's that?' I think sound beaming is something that is as disruptive as that. There's something to be said about it doesn't exist before. There's the freedom of using it. And it's really amazing."

  • Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020
The Mill launches Augmented Reality app, Mill Scout
Mill Scout

Global creative production partner The Mill has launched its latest virtual production tool, Mill Scout.

Mill Scout is an Augmented Reality (AR) application for smartphones and tablets that can help directors, creatives and visual effects supervisors visualize CGI characters and objects live on-set, in-situ through the director’s lens. 

Traditionally, creative teams are unable to visualize CGI objects until after the shoot during the postproduction process; however using Mill Scout enables immediate visualization of any object during filming that has been preloaded onto the app. By placing CGI objects into real-world environments using Mill Scout, creative teams are now able to tailor shots to VFX specifics, offering up heightened creative flexibility and nuance during the on-set direction process. 

Mill Scout has already successfully been used by directors and VFX supervisors for brands such as Lexus, Honda and PlayStation. 

The app runs completely standalone on iPhone, iPad and Android, with no other dependencies on hardware, keeping the app portable and easily accessible from anywhere. 

Assets prepped using any 3D software can be uploaded into the app, which was built using Unity and Apple’s AR kit. 

Mill Scout is available to any creative teams working in collaboration with The Mill.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020
Blackmagic Design unveils DaVinci Resolve 17
DaVinci Resolve 17
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Blackmagic Design has announced DaVinci Resolve 17, a major new release with over 100 new features and 200 improvements. The color page features new HDR grading tools, redesigned primary controls, AI based magic mask and more. Fairlight updates mouse and keyboard edit selection tools so customers can work faster, along with Fairlight Audio Core and FlexBus, a next generation audio engine and busing architecture with support for 2,000 tracks. Editors get a metadata slate view with bin dividers, zoomed waveforms for audio trimming, smart reframing, a unified inspector and dozens of other time saving tools. In addition, compositions created in Fusion can now be used as an effect, title or transition on the edit and cut pages.

DaVinci Resolve 17 features new creative tools for colorists. Power Window drawing has been improved, there are new split screen wipe options, an additional Sat vs Lum curve, improved scopes, support for 17 point 3D LUTs and more.

The HDR grading palette lets customers create new color wheels with custom roll off for specific tonal ranges, giving customers more creative control to make fine adjustments. The wheels include exposure and saturation controls for each zone. They’re color space aware so customers get perceptually uniform results.

The mesh based warping tool lets customers adjust two color para7 at once. Customers can adjust both hue and saturation or chroma and luma. Adjustments are made by dragging control points, with smooth falloff for clean, natural looking adjustments. It’s an entirely new way to transform color in their images.

Selecting and tracking people for targeted correction has never been easier. Magic mask uses the DaVinci Neural Engine to automatically create masks for an entire person or specific features such as face or arms. Customers get matte finesse tools, the ability to add and remove strokes and automatic tracking.

DaVinci Resolve color management adds features to simplify their workflow and improve image quality.

DaVinci wide gamut and DaVinci intermediate are timeline color space and gamma settings that provide a universal internal working color space. It’s larger than what cameras can capture, or BT.2020, ARRI wide gamut and even ACES AP1. Customers will never lose image data, no matter where it comes from.

DaVinci Resolve 17 is the biggest update in Fairlight history with new features, tools and core improvements that make it the world’s fastest and highest quality solution for audio post production.

Edit selection mode with new keyboard shortcuts unlocks functionality previously available on the Fairlight Audio Editor. These context sensitive tools make editing incredibly fast. If users are switching over to Fairlight, these intuitive and familiar tools will help customers get up and running quickly.

Fairlight Audio Core is a low latency, next generation audio engine that intelligently manages workload by using all CPU cores and threads, as well as the optional Fairlight Audio Accelerator card. Customers get up to 2,000 tracks, each with real time EQ, dynamics and 6 plug-ins, all on a single system.

FlexBus is a flexible bus architecture that uses up to 26 channel wide multi purpose buses instead of fixed buses. Customers can send tracks to buses, buses to tracks, and buses to buses in as many cascade layers deep as needed to create massive sessions. Route anything to anything without limitations.

The new transient analysis tool automatically detects individual words, beats, or sound effects. Transient markers are displayed as vertical lines in the waveform. Customers can navigate between them using the arrow keys. Transient markers make it easy to identify specific parts of a sound for editing.

Fairlight Audio Core and FlexBus enable large projects with thousands of tracks on a single system. Previously this required “chase” computers to be sync’d with a primary system. Plus DaVinci Resolve’s multi user collaboration lets multiple sound editors work on the entire project at the same time.

DaVinci Resolve 17 makes the cut page even smarter with great new features designed to help customers finish quick turn around projects even faster.

Metadata slate view with bin dividers makes it easy to sort and find clips based on scene, shot, camera and more. When used with source tape, it’s the fastest way to jump in and out of scenes or groups of shots.

Customers can now see larger audio waveforms while trimming.

Now customers can edit in 16:9 HD or Ultra HD and quickly create square or vertical versions for posting to Instagram and other apps. The DaVinci Neural Engine automatically identifies faces and repositions them inside the new frame so customers don’t have to do it manually.

Finding the right effect, transition or title is faster and easier than ever. The elegant, new multi column view lets customers see more and scroll less. Descriptive icons also help customers quickly find what customers need. Plus, customers can hover scrub the mouse across any item to see a live preview in the viewer.

Live production projects from ATEM Mini Pro ISO can be opened as a video edit. The sync bin with multiview lets customers fine tune edits from the original live production or even replace shots. You can use the HD ISO recordings from ATEM or relink to Blackmagic RAW camera files for finishing in Ultra HD.

The edit page adds dozens of time saving new features that professional editors have asked for.

Now customers can create easily managed, independent proxy media that dramatically improves system performance and makes projects portable. Proxies can be as small as 1/16th resolution and saved as H.264, H.265, ProRes or DNxHR. They can even be generated internally or externally by third party tools.

It’s now easier to create synchronized multicam clips. Simply stack clips on the timeline and use the new “auto align” tool to sync based on timecode or waveform. Customers can also manually move clips into position to create a sync map. Timelines can be converted into a multicam clip or a compound clip.

New Resolve FX 3D, HSL and luma keyer plug-ins let customers pull keys directly in the timeline on both the edit and cut pages. In addition, alpha channels from Resolve FX and Open FX plug-ins are now supported, as are embedded alpha channels and external matte files giving customers even more compositing options.

The render in place command lets customers generate render files for any portion of the timeline. Once rendered, customers can move, edit and trim without having to re-render. Unlike cache files, render files are easy to manage and portable.

Source side adjustments let customers change a clip before editing it into the timeline. For example, customers can adjust RAW controls, add a LUT, remap audio tracks, change sizing, playback frame rate and more, all before editing a clip into the timeline.

Customers can now import and export individual timelines or bins, giving customers more ways to collaborate. Timeline and bin files are easy to share and small enough to email.

New support for native processing of interlaced timelines results in higher quality compositing and titling for interlaced deliverables. High quality DaVinci Neural Engine de-interlacing analyzes motion between fields to reconstruct progressive frames. Customers also get real time 3:2 pulldown removal.

Compositions customers create on the Fusion page can now be saved as a template and used on the edit or cut page. New animation curve modifiers can be used to automatically retime animations when customers change their duration in an edit. Audio playback with waveform display makes it easier to create precisely timed animations, there are shared markers with the edit page and more. In addition, 27 GPU accelerated Resolve FX have been added to the Fusion page, including the noise reduction and sharpening tools from the color page. New node view bookmarks make it easy to navigate large comps, the toolbar can be customized with their favorite tools, and vertical layouts are supported in the node editor.

Node tree bookmarks let customers quickly navigate to any part of the node tree in a large composition. Customizable toolbars let customers quickly switch toolbars based on the current task. Vertical node tree layouts give customers more room to view the spline and keyframe editors when creating animations, and more.

Customers will find new and improved format support on the media page, new delivery options, and a unified inspector design on the media, cut, edit and Fairlight pages. DaVinci Resolve 17 also features consistent timeline navigation across all pages, better metadata support, new image scaling algorithms, the ability to share smart bins, smart filters and optimized media across all projects on a system, and even more GPU and CPU accelerated Resolve FX.

Now anyone can build their own postproduction studio. The free version of DaVinci Resolve now includes the revolutionary multi user collaboration tools previously available in DaVinci Resolve Studio. That means customers can have multiple users all working on the same project at the same time, for free.

Support for growing files in the media pool lets customers start editing while files are still being recorded. There’s decoding support for QuickTime PNG, uncompressed RGB 8-bit and YUV 10-bit AVI, and spanned Panasonic 8K SHV clips.

DaVinci Resolve 17 support for frame based metadata from Blackmagic RAW, ARRI, RED and Sony camera files, along with decoding and rendering per frame EXR metadata.

In addition to existing Python and LUA scripting, DaVinci Resolve 17 adds a new workflow integration API and a new encoding API. These APIs allow third party developers to create integrated asset and workflow management solutions for DaVinci Resolve, as well as encoder plug-ins for custom output options.

“This is a massive update and it has amazing new technology and features for colorists, audio engineers, editors and visual effects artists,” said Grant Petty, Blackmagic Design CEO. “While the new color science, HDR grading and improvements and Fairlight usability are the most noticeable features, what I am most proud of are the thousands of small improvements that customers will notice every day!”

DaVinci Resolve 17 Features

  • Next generation HDR color correction with customizable wheels and tonal zones.
  • Mesh and grid based color warper delivers an entirely new way to transform color.
  • Magic mask automatic object isolation powered by the DaVinci Neural Engine.
  • Improved color management with tone mapping and color space aware tools.
  • Massive DaVinci wide gamut color space for higher quality image processing.
  • High speed audio editing with new keyboard and mouse context sensitive tools.
  • Fairlight Audio Core engine with auto load balancing and support for 2,000 tracks.
  • Revolutionary FlexBus architecture for audio routing without limitations.
  • Automatic transient detection for beats, words, and sound effects.
  • Support for massive audio projects with thousands of tracks on a single system.
  • Metadata based card view in media pool on cut page.
  • Precision audio trimming on the cut page timeline and graphical trimmer.
  • Smart reframe powered by the DaVinci Neural Engine on cut and edit pages.
  • Live effect, title, and transition previews on cut and edit pages.
  • Import and edit projects from ATEM Mini Pro ISO.
  • Proxy media workflows up to 1/16th resolution in H.264, H.265, ProRes or DNxHR.
  • Timeline based clip syncing to create multicam and compound clips.
  • Alpha support for keying and compositing on cut and edit pages.
  • Render in place command for effects heavy clips on cut and edit timelines.
  • Make source side adjustments before editing clips into the timeline.
  • Portable timeline and bin files for easy sharing.
  • Native interlace processing and realtime 3:2 pulldown removal.
  • Node tree bookmarks, customizable Fusion toolbar, and vertical node layouts.
  • Support for growing files in media pool.
  • Support for frame based metadata for BRAW, ARRI, RED, Sony and EXR.
  • Workflow integration API and third party encoder API.

DaVinci Resolve 17 public beta is available now for download from the Blackmagic Design website.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020
AIMS sets 2020-’21 board of directors; Holton, Starks are newly elected
Terry Holton
BOTHELL, Wash. -- 

The Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS) has announced a newly elected 2020-2021 board of directors that will lead the organization’s effort toward a standards-based IP infrastructure for professional media. AIMS chairman of the board Michael Cronk (Grass Valley), vice chair Steve Reynolds (Imagine Communications), and chief financial officer Andreas Hilmer (Lawo) were re-elected to their positions and are joined by newly elected board members Terry Holton (Yamaha) and Andrew Starks (Macnica).

“With the pace of IP adoption and innovation accelerating, our work to educate the broadcast and pro AV markets is as — or more — important than ever,” said Cronk. “Terry and Andrew both have contributed enormously to the success of AIMS in promoting a common set of standards for IP media transport across the media and entertainment industry.”

Holton has served as AIMS audio chair, leading a number of initiatives and AIMS participation in several audio events. Holton was previously general manager of the Yamaha R&D Centre in London. He is now a consultant specializing in professional media networking solutions and represents Yamaha in AIMS.

Starks is the director of product management for Macnica, where he leads the company’s standards efforts and has been a significant contributor to the AIMS Pro AV initiative, including the development of the IPMX roadmap, and its marketing plan. His prior experience includes co-founding Tightrope Media Systems, where he collaborated to design and market multiple award-winning products in pro AV and broadcast as the company’s CMO.

AIMS board members are selected annually. Their terms start immediately.

  • Monday, Nov. 2, 2020
Nu Boyana Film Studios extends reach into U.K. with DaVinci Resolve
A color correction suite at Nu Boyana Film Studios in London
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Blackmagic Design has announced that Nu Boyana Film Studios has added two DaVinci Resolve Studio color correction suites at a new London facility.

Owned by one of the longest running independent studios in Hollywood, Nu Image, Nu Boyana has serviced hundreds of big budget blockbusters from its headquarters in Sofia, Bulgaria. They include “Hellboy,” “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” “300: The Rise of an Empire” and “The Black Dahlia.”

The first feature to be realized through the new space is an upcoming action comedy, “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” starring Salma Hayek, Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. The film was lensed by Terry Stacey and graded by colorist Vanessa Taylor.

Paula Crickard, head of postproduction at Nu Boyana UK, said, “Alongside CEO Yariv Lerner, we made the decision to expand into London as many of our projects are filmed here in the UK, and we wanted to be able to service films in a big physical space that allows directors freedom to choose their post production talent.”

She continued: “In building this new facility, we chose to reflect the workflows that have afforded solid and consistent results time and time again at our HQ in Sofia, led by head of post Jivko Chakarov. Running the same system also allows the opportunity to collaborate remotely across the two locations.”

The main grading theater features a DaVinci Resolve Advanced Panel, Eizo monitor and 4K Christie projector, and is powered by the latest generation Mac Pro hardware. A secondary online grading suite is built to the same specification but features a DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel.

Crickard added, “Our theatre is quite unique, featuring a 24ft cinema screen, 7.1 and 5.1 surround sound, with room for 16 socially distant attendees. It’s a big space with a big screen, and we find it helps when working with blockbuster action sequences.”

All grading work feeds into two super fast G-Technology G-SPEED Shuttle SSD devices. “This keeps the suites airlocked and provides us with the highest security for our clients’ IP,” explained Crickard. “The drives each hold split reels which can only be updated by one machine at a time, meaning the team never has any conflicting project files.

“Investing in DaVinci Resolve was a no brainer,” she concluded. “Great people and great technology are what matters to us as a facility, and we feel that Blackmagic Design has truly been leading the way in the DI space for many years.”

  • Monday, Oct. 26, 2020
Zellan, Howard to depart Cooke Optics; Pugh named CEO, van Oostrum non-executive chairman
Les Zellan

Cooke Optics chairman Les Zellan will be stepping down from the company, and its CEO, Robert Howard, will be retiring, both moves effective on October 31, 2020.  Tim Pugh will take over as CEO, while Kees van Oostrum, currently a Cooke Optics board member, becomes non-executive chairman.

Cooke, which is among the oldest lens brands to have continuously served the motion picture industry since the 1890s, was neglected in the latter part of the 20th century as part of Taylor-Hobson in Leicester until Zellan, then Cooke’s North American distributor, took it over in 1998. The following year, a new 20,000 sq. ft. facility was built in Leicester incorporating state-of-the-art machinery that would work alongside traditional 100-year-old equipment to resuscitate the Cooke brand that began with the novel Cooke S4 prime lens design.

Howard joined Cooke in 2008. Under Zellan and Howard’s stewardship, Cooke was brought back to a position of technical leadership and industry recognition. The flagship Cooke S4 prime lenses, launched in 1998, won a Cinec Award that same year while the mechanical designers and optical designer of the S4 lenses earned a Technical Academy Award® in 1999. The company has added a further nine new lens ranges during the past 20 years--all featuring the distinctive Cooke Look®--as well as pioneering the /i Technology metadata open standard that has been adopted by over 40 leading industry manufacturers including Sony, RED and Panavision.

Cooke Optics Limited earned an Academy Award® of Merit--an Oscar® statuette--in 2013 in recognition of [Cooke Optics’] “continuing innovation in the design, development and manufacture of advanced camera lenses that have helped define the look of motion pictures over the last century.”

“It has been my honor to lead Cooke from relative obscurity back to its rightful place in the industry,” said Zellan. “They say ‘it takes a village,’ and I would like to thank our dedicated staff and countless industry friends and colleagues around the world who have helped to shape Cooke’s product line, giving cinematographers and directors the choices that help them tell their stories in the best possible way.”

“Both Les and Robert have achieved what some would consider miraculous during their 20 years with Cooke,” said Pugh, the incoming CEO. “They are highly respected throughout the industry and will be a tough act to follow. Cooke has an unrivalled reputation for excellence and for responding to the needs of its customers. Kees and I are excited to take the reins of this beloved company as we move into the next stage of Cooke’s evolution with the on-going support of Caledonia Private Capital.”

Pugh has a background in leadership roles across premium manufacturing and distribution businesses, providing technical products to specialist markets via strong international partner networks. Most recently he was CEO of James Briggs Ltd, a leading manufacturer of technical products for industrial and automotive markets, where he grew the business substantially through a focus on long-term customer relationships, market-leading quality and manufacturing excellence.

And van Oostrum is an award-winning cinematographer with a diverse body of work in film and television. He served as president of the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) from 2016-2020 during which time the organisation broadened its activities significantly in education and international collaboration.

  • Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020
Simian launches Version 5 to advance media sharing and collaboration
A look at Simian's Trim Feature, part of its Reel Creator, which allows users to just snip segments of videos or spots without having to re-edit them.

Simian, the video sharing and collaboration service used by advertisers, agencies, media companies, production houses, post studios and music providers, has unveiled Simian 5.

This new version of Simian’s software service features over 100 updates and new features designed to help users work faster and more efficiently. 

Simian 5 includes major upgrades to its core tools that users rely on when building showreels to win new assignments and when sharing work with clients and other team members for review, comment and approval. The Simian 5 user interface has been given a fresh new look as well, and features customizable themes, night mode and global notifications.

Of particular importance are the changes made to Simian’s Projects tool, where clients are able to upload versions of spots or videos for review and approval. “Overall, the workflow in Projects has been enhanced, with lots of small updates that add up to more than the sum of their parts,” said Simian COO and co-founder Brian Atton.

The process of collaborating with clients has been simplified, with expanded review and approval functions and file status updates. Files can be easily merged or locked, and moving them between Projects and the Media Library has been streamlined.

Project’s annotation tools have been enhanced, and Simian has introduced Time-Ranged commenting for more precise feedback. In addition, files can now be watermarked with custom graphics, allowing users to protect their content and brand them with their logo at the same time.

Simian has also created a new “Client Upload” feature for Projects that allows users to send out secure links permitting outside sources--everyone from clients to freelancers to additional team members--to upload to a Projects folder, quickly and easily via a browser interface. Changes have been made to its video player, too: a new feature called Aspect Ratio Mask that allows uses to quick and easily view their videos in a variety of screen formats, including vertical. And users can now switch back and forth between time code or frame counts to mark their progress.

Reel Creator upgrades
For sales reps, company owners, EPs and managing directors--basically anyone interested in making sure their company wins more jobs--the updates to Simian 5’s Reel Library and Reel Creator are valuable. For example, in the Reel Library, where users’ sent showreels are stored, a number of improvements have been implemented to help them sharpen their ability to get the right work in front of prospects as quickly as possible.

“We’ve heard from people that instead of just looking at a list of sent reels, it would be useful to know what’s actually on those reels, so they can be quickly updated and resent,” said Kellie Atton, Simian’s head of sales.

“We’ve expanded on this capability, so a user can quickly browse the contents of multiple reels simultaneously, she added. “Showreels often have similar titles and similar contents, so being able to compare them before loading into the Reel Creator is a huge time saver. We actually took this a step further, so reps can identify the reel they want and easily resend or grab a short link right from the Reel Library itself. When you get asked to send a revised or new showreel asap, this is exactly what you need.”

Also, an incredibly handy new tool called the Trim Feature has been added to the Reel Creator that allows users to just show selected segments or portions of a video or spot with no editing required.

Another upgrade was added to the Simian Dashboard that alerts users to their Most Active Reels, so they’ll know which sent reels have been getting the most activity. There’s also a new map that shows geographically where the reel activity is taking place, which lets a user know when a showreel may have been forwarded.

A year in development
Simian 5 has been in the works for just over a year, according to Jay Brooks, Simian’s chief technology officer. “We initially were aiming for a minor refresh that was going to launch early this year but as 2020 began to shape up the way it has--with so many things derailed due to the pandemic--we took the opportunity for a much deeper dive and went for something that was truly epic.”

With Simian 5 aloft, the company is moving forward on an updated version of its popular Simian Project mobile app for iOS, which lets users manage their projects via their mobile device. 

  • Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020
Intel to sell NAND business to SKorean rival for $9 billion
An employee leaves an office of SK Hynix Inc. in Seongnam, South Korea, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. Intel has agreed to a $9 billion deal to sell most of its memory business to South Korea's SK Hynix as it moves toward more diverse technologies while shedding a major Chinese factory at a time of deepening trade friction between Washington and Beijing. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- 

Intel has agreed to a $9 billion deal to sell most of its memory business to South Korea's SK Hynix as it moves toward more diverse technologies while shedding a major Chinese factory at a time of deepening trade friction between Washington and Beijing. 

Intel said it will keep its "Optane" business of more advanced memory products, which analysts say are mostly produced in the United States.

According to the plan confirmed by the companies on Tuesday, SK Hynix will acquire Intel's NAND memory chip and storage business, including a related manufacturing site in the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian. SK Hynix said the companies expect to get required governmental approvals for the deal by late 2021.

The transaction, if completed, could reportedly make SK Hynix the world's second-largest provider of NAND flash memory chips behind Samsung Electronics, another South Korean chip giant. 

Demand for flash memory has strengthened in recent months due to buying of personal computers and servers as the coronavirus pandemic forces millions to work from home. 

Intel said it plans to invest proceeds from the transaction into advancing long-growth priorities, including technologies related to artificial intelligence and fifth-generation wireless networks.

"This transaction will allow us to further prioritize our investments in differentiated technology where we can play a bigger role in the success of our customers and deliver attractive returns to our stockholders," Bob Swan, Intel's CEO, said in a statement.

  • Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020
Sony Imaging Products & Solutions acquires Nevion

Sony Imaging Products & Solutions Inc. is acquiring Nevion AS, a provider of virtualized media production solutions, providing end-to-end IP and cloud-based production solutions for broadcasting and other applications. Sony, which has been a minority shareholder in Nevion since July 2019, is purchasing the remaining shares in the company, and making it a subsidiary. 

In recent years, there’s been an increasing demand in broadcasting and other areas for remote production solutions and remote integration, as they allow resources such as equipment, facilities and even staff to be shared across locations in real-time, resulting in greater efficiency and effectiveness. COVID-19 has accelerated this trend, and the need of combining on-premise facility and cloud processing, enabling remote work and resource sharing, has become the basis of business continuity planning for the broadcast and production community. Since June 2019, Sony has had a strategic partnership with Nevion, collaborating to address those markets. This investment will enable Sony to build a much closer relationship with Nevion and lead to the delivery of more integrated solutions.

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