• Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019
Genius Produced shop uses Blackmagic Cameras for immersive eLearning workflow
K. Rocco Shields, founder of Genius Produced
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Blackmagic Design has announced that Los Angeles based production company Genius Produced utilizes a Blackmagic workflow to produce immersive educational and instructional design content for elearning. The productions use Blackmagic Studio Camera 4K and Studio Cameras, along with ATEM Television Studio Pro HD and DaVinci Resolve for a complete Blackmagic Design production to post workflow.

Filmmaker K. Rocco Shields founded Genius Produced in 2012 off of the success of her award winning short “Love Is All You Need,” which focused on the harmful effects of bullying, homophobia and prejudice. The film became an inspiration and model for how the company would operate moving forward. Genius Produced quickly staked a claim as an industry leader in producing content for top universities and organizations around the world.

The company has a base of operations in a 15,000 square foot facility in Culver City, California that encompasses the full workflow of filmmaking, from development and pre-production through post. Shields was drawn to the Blackmagic workflow early in the company’s growth. “We used to use DSLRs for everything, but it was a terrible crunch for our post production process,” said Shields. “Filming was difficult with the ‘Frankenstein’ component of these other cameras.”

With the release of the original Blackmagic Cinema Camera 4K, the company’s entire workflow was revolutionized.

Today, the company still utilizes the original Cinema Cameras, which Shields noted, “have certainly lasted the test of time,” and now augment them with Blackmagic Studio Cameras and Micro Studio Cameras 4K. In post, the company relies on DaVinci Resolve Studio for color and finishing, appreciating the ability to shoot in film mode for maximum dynamic range.

Beyond scripted content, Genius Produced also works heavily in the area of live production, with projects that cover live performances, presentations, lectures and more. The company also uses all of their Blackmagic cameras in conjunction with their ATEM Television Studio Pro HD switcher, giving their directors the same high image quality but in a live format. The studio moves quickly, with projects moving from set to set, and the compact size allows the team to move equally fast. “We feel this combination of high quality, but compact size is a life saver,” said Shields. “It’s the only way to maintain efficiency and integrity of process during our live productions.”

Along with steadily producing quality educational content, commercials, documentaries, and other high concept projects, Genius Produced has gained a reputation for creating transcendent, socially conscious feature films, including the previously completed feature length adaptation of the viral-sensation “Love Is All You Need”, as well as an upcoming historical biopic about legendary aviator and Hollywood stunt pilot Pancho Barnes. These projects, and the remaining films in Genius’ slate of original content have proven that the Genius Produced style of filmmaking can be powerful and effective regardless of the medium. “At our core is a focus of inclusiveness, support and acceptance, which pervades every level of the company. We couldn’t justify supporting a strong message of acceptance and inclusion in our work and not do the same in our business.”

Shields has already begun an upgrade of systems, starting with the URSA Mini Pro G2 and Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K, but is pleased that even her oldest gear is still so reliable, after all these years. “With Blackmagic products we are able to attain the quality and look of traditional formats without compromising or disrupting our workflow and processes. Our entire business model is reliant on flexibility on-set and during postproduction,” said Shields. “No matter how much planning goes into a shoot, we are always going to want to test the waters in another direction.”

  • Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019
ftrack acquires Cospective, developer of the Academy Award-winning cineSync

ftrack, creator of the production tracking and media review platform for creatives, has acquired Cospective, creator of the Academy Award and Emmy-winning synchronized remote review tool cineSync.

ftrack and Cospective have enjoyed a close working relationship since 2015, and have already developed a deep integration that links ftrack with cineSync. This acquisition enables Cospective and ftrack to work even more closely in the pursuit of better, faster, and simpler workflows. Together, the companies will bring new innovations to market, strengthen the review capabilities of the ftrack ecosystem, and capitalize on the industry-leading technology that Cospective has built over the past 14 years.

Fredrik Limsäter, CEO at ftrack, commented, “Cospective shares ftrack’s aspirations in creating better workflows for creatives; together, we can complement one another’s work and build even better, more efficient products for the industry.”

Rory McGregor, CEO at Cospective, stated, “Having collaborated with ftrack over many years, we know the company values our products, our customers, and the way we work. ftrack is committed to cineSync’s continued growth and to offering the same service that our customers have come to expect. ftrack also presents new opportunities to add features, to grow the Adelaide team, and to develop review solutions for modern workflows.”

Cospective will remain based in Adelaide, Australia and will continue to develop and support cineSync and Frankie, including maintenance of integrations with third-party software vendors. 

In the short term, this acquisition will enable Cospective to offer around-the-clock, 24-hour product support via the global ftrack organization. In the longer-term, the acquisition will supply Cospective with additional resources to further develop features and workflow solutions with a clear focus on media review and approval. For ftrack, access to the cineSync team will drive new technologies and innovation, strengthen the review capabilities within the ftrack product suite, and further develop the broader ftrack ecosystem. 

Cospective has made a name for itself as a synchronized media review solution for film studios, TV networks and VFX houses, including Disney, Warner Bros, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Sony, Technicolor, Deluxe, Netflix, HBO, MPC, Framestore, ILM, and Double Negative. cineSync’s media review platform has proven pivotal on notable projects such as Game of Thrones, Inception, Interstellar, Ready Player One, The Walking Dead, Justice League, Jurassic World, the Fast and the Furious films, multiple Bond films, and every entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

  • Monday, Nov. 4, 2019
SMPTE, IABM enter into collaborative agreement

SMPTE®, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, and IABM, the international association for broadcast and media technology suppliers, have entered into a new collaborative agreement to share knowledge and expertise across their memberships. In the first stage of the agreement, members of each organization are now able to take advantage of the other’s training courses at discounted rates.

“A knowledge exchange with IABM makes a great deal of sense for both of our organizations,” said SMPTE executive director Barbara Lange. “IABM’s strength is in business knowledge and research, while SMPTE brings expertise in standards-based technologies--a synergy that will add great value for our respective communities.”

The collaboration will also give certain SMPTE members privileged access to executive-level IABM Business Intelligence via an exclusive portal and webinars, and IABM members will be able to access SMPTE webcasts. As part of the agreement, SMPTE and IABM will continue to explore further areas of collaboration to benefit their members.

IABM’s training offering includes a wide range of on-site standard and bespoke courses as well as a number of e-learning courses covering the latest technologies. 

SMPTE’s comprehensive training offering includes both instructor-supported and self-learning virtual courses as well as webcasts and podcasts through its well-established online platform. 

“I’m delighted to be working with SMPTE to enable relevant sharing of knowledge and expertise across our combined membership,” said Peter White, IABM CEO. “Collaboration is not just the latest buzzword--it underpins the future success of both the supply and buying sides of the broadcast and media industries. We see media companies increasingly coming together to form alliances in the search for digital speed, scale, and geographical reach, and the same thing is happening on the supply side.”

White continued, “With the pace of transformation in our industry only continuing to accelerate, it makes great sense for two of the industry’s top organizations to work together in a partnership to deliver a richer experience for SMPTE and IABM members and help them stay at the leading edge of our rapidly changing business. This agreement is something of a milestone--it marks the beginning of an ongoing collaboration across a number of activities and the start of what we envision to be a long-term partnership.”

  • Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019
Directors Cut upgrades to Baselight for HDR and 4K
Andy Elliott

Independent London post house Directors Cut Films, owned and operated by its creative staff, has invested in a Baselight TWO color grading workstation with a Blackboard 2 control panel. Directors Cut works primarily in premium long-form television, as well as drama series, documentaries and feature films, with increasing interest in 4K and HDR.

“Being owned and run by ex-editors, we know what is required to meet and exceed expectations in post,” said sr. colorist Andy Elliott. “We felt it was the right time to invest and embrace HDR and 4K workflows. HDR in particular produces much more of a positive visual impact, with real benefits in the immersive experience for the viewer.”

Recent projects graded by Elliott include biographies of Cher and Elton John, an investigation of the Bauhaus for BBC4, and Sir David Attenborough’s call to action Climate Change: The Facts.

Elliott pointed out that such programs frequently bring together footage shot on multiple different cameras and formats, often in less than ideal circumstances. The task for the colorist is to integrate all of the footage as well as create a coherent look that reflects the story the director wishes to tell. That makes the speed and power of the upgraded Baselight suite an important asset.

“The pace at which I can get through a film has improved, so I have more time to refine the look,” stated Elliott. “And with the AAF workflow, the grade is not ‘baked in,’ so it is infinitely tweakable if needed. If there is, say, an additional interview, the grade can be lifted from another shot and dropped onto the new one, straight on the editor’s timeline. This is really useful in current affairs, where we can be right up against tight transmission deadlines.”

Directors Cut, based just outside Soho, the traditional home of the London post industry, is built around the experience and creativity of its staff. More than 30 suites in the facility are all connected through central networks with over 256 terabytes of shared storage. The company continues to invest in new technology, today focusing on the growing importance of editing and delivering in 4K--a focus that led to the investment in Baselight. 

  • Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019
Swiss pay TV network expands live sports broadcasting with Blackmagic Design
A Teranex Mini converter
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Blackmagic Design announced that Teleclub, Switzerland’s leading pay TV network, has implemented an Ultra HD video playout system, built around a Blackmagic Design 12G infrastructure, to support an increased volume of linear and pay per view (PPV) live sports channels.

The network recently expanded its output to offer more than 83 channels, including eight in Ultra HD, broadcasting in German, French and Italian, and covering a wide range of sports including top flight European and national football leagues, ice hockey and others via its IPTV platform.

“We needed to double Teleclub’s capacity to feed additional HD and UHD PPV channels, studio production facilities, as well as additional commentary and graphics elements,” said Remo Val, system and software engineer, Teleclub. “When we considered our Ultra HD requirements, it was clear that a single link 12G-SDI network would ensure we had enough capacity in our server rooms and keep cabling and signal distribution hubs as streamlined as possible.”

18 ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4Ks have been installed, with each one serving two of the HD or Ultra HD channels, with a separate M/E attributed to each channel. Each switcher is paired with a video/CG server, developed inhouse at Teleclub using DeckLink Quad 2 capture cards and Caspar CG, for live video playout. One further ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K delivers playout for an HD multiplex channel.

Val explained that the system is controlled by a bespoke control dual playlist interface.

“The operator opens an event from our database, and the client generates all the specific content into a playlist, for example live or studio input, lower thirds, sponsor logos. The software controls the ATEM, the CG server and the audio engine to provide whatever the next item is in the playlist, so an operator can deliver an entire live event with one button.”

The facility also includes a new studio and 26 commentary boxes, with 12 Smart Videohub 40x40 12Gs in place to sub-switch monitors located around the channel’s production headquarters in Volketswil, near Zurich, including VIP lounges and a spectator bar. “There must be more than 250 Blackmagic Micro Converters, as well as Teranex Mini converters, working as the production center’s digital glue,” explained Remo. “It was an important consideration to demonstrate the network’s expansion throughout the production hub itself, so wherever you are in the complex, you can see the scope and scale of Teleclub’s broadcast output.”

“Simply put, we could not have realized this project without Blackmagic Design,” concluded Val. “The open API, together with the capture cards’ price point allowed us to design a flexible and reliable playout solution, and one that could be specifically built around a powerful, futureproofed 12G infrastructure that will enable us to continue to bring the best of sports broadcasting to our viewers.”

  • Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019
Panavision to present its ecosystem, a session with DP John Bailey at Camerimage
Panavision's DXL2 camera

Panavision and its family of companies return to the EnergaCamerimage International Film Festival from November 9-16 in Torun, Poland, with an immersive, end-to-end experience for attendees. Torun’s newly renovated Karczma Damroki facility, across the street from the Jordanki Festival Center, will be transformed into an interactive festival space called PanaVillage and will showcase the integrated technologies, products, and services from Panavision, Panalux, Light Iron, LEE Filters, and Direct Digital.

“We are giving filmmakers the opportunity to experience our broad array of tools in a simulated production environment,” says Kim Snyder, Panavision president and CEO. “Our global team and product experts look forward to engaging with attendees in a hands-on experience with our end-to-end offerings.”

At the PanaVillage, guests will interact with Panavision’s complete ecosystem of cameras and lenses, lighting, filters, gels, grip, and remote systems. Visitors will be able to fully control and monitor an 8K Millennium DXL2 large-format camera mounted on a SuperTechno 30 crane, using an innovative new wireless fiber technology with a range of more than a kilometer (0.6 miles). Mounted in front of a Primo 70 lens, Panavision’s LCND filter offers six stops of variable density. Guests can remotely adjust the camera, iris, and LCND filter while monitoring 4K video inside the PanaVillage on a LINK HDR Cart. Panavision and Light Iron’s LINK HDR system, which debuted at Cine Gear Expo Los Angeles earlier this year, is now being utilized on feature and episodic projects. PanaVillage guests will experience how the Panavision LINK HDR cart and Light Iron LINK HDR dailies and finishing services put the power of creating HDR images into the hands of all creatives – including cinematographers, editors, and colorists – throughout the entire imaging chain. 

While inside the PanaVillage, attendees will have the opportunity to experiment and craft unique looks using the DXL2 camera and the more compact DXL-M system. A selection of large format lenses, including the T1.4 Panaspeeds, will be available to frame the scene. Guests can illuminate the scene and control the lighting with a variety of Panalux and third-party options. LEE Filters’ full collection of lighting gels, including the expanded range of Zircon LED gels, will be available to further modify the scene. 

PanaVillage visitors will also encounter LEE Filters’ ProGlass CINE IRND range of neutral-density filters and the LEE100, a lightweight, high-performing 100mm photographic filter mount system. Experts from Direct Digital will be on hand to discuss stills and motion rental services. Guests looking to purchase consumables and merchandise can find the Panastore in the main Jordanki Festival Center. Additional micro-workshops hosted by the Panavision group will be programmed throughout the week and real-time details will be shared on Panavision’s social media accounts.

This year, Panavision is proud to sponsor a cinematic retrospective from EnergaCamerimage Lifetime Achievement Award recipient John Bailey, ASC. On November 12 at CinemaCity, Bailey will present insights from his impressive career, spanning more than 40 years with credits including Ordinary People, The Big Chill, In the Line of Fire, American Gigolo, A Walk in the Woods, Mishima, and The Accidental Tourist. Panavision’s longstanding relationship with Bailey resulted in the 2004 creation of the AWZ2, or the “Bailey Zoom,” the first modern zoom to use anamorphic elements in front of the lens.

  • Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019
Future Learning Collaborative Grows, Evaluates Technologies
Kiho Kim, PhD, executive director, Center for Teaching, Research & Learning, American University
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- 

Since November 2017, Sony Electronics has worked alongside faculty and administration from 11 forward-thinking colleges and universities in the U.S. to gain a better understanding of the role technology plays in teaching and learning. For the past two years this group of public and private schools, known as The Future Learning Collaborative, has held regular meetings, summits and trips to discuss the education landscape and ways to incorporate new technology and design insights that create a more meaningful, collaborative and engaging learning environment.

Since the Future Learning Collaborative’s launch, higher ed members have tested forthcoming and new Sony technology and helped to influence the design and development of these educational products and solutions, based on real-world input and validation. In the past year, the focus of the community was to deepen the co-creation between members and Sony, as well as to explore ways to create active learning opportunities. To meet this goal, member schools have begun implementing “sandboxes,” a learning environment equipped with Sony’s early stage technology for the purpose of testing, experimenting and validating potential new applications, use cases and user experiences. Kiho Kim, PhD, executive director, Center for Teaching, Research & Learning, American University, said the sandbox program “allows us to rigorously evaluate cutting edge technologies in authentic learning spaces and settings on site. In doing so, we are able to gather real-world assessments of how to best deploy these solutions to enhance student learning.”

Recently launched Sony solutions that have been tested in conjunction with Future Learning Collaborative schools include Vision Exchange, for interactive presentations and active learning; Edge Analytics, an AI-based video analytics solution; and the UbiCast interactive video learning solution, among others--in addition to solutions still under development.

Charter Collaborative members come from American University, Arizona State University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Houston Community College, Indiana University, Montclair State University, Northwestern University, San Francisco State University, University of California at San Diego, and the University of Central Florida.

  • Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019
Baselight Makes The Grade For Artjail
Clinton Homuth

Independent VFX boutique Artjail has added a Baselight grading suite in each of its locations: one in its New York studio, and one in Toronto. Bringing grading and VFX together will strengthen the studio’s workflow for complex effects projects, including ad projects and longform fare.

Since Artjail was founded in 2008, color was always a requirement for the business, but there was an opportunity to up the stakes and introduce Baselight into the pipeline. Sr. colorist Clinton Homuth explained the positive attractions of Baselight. “Being an overwhelmingly visual person, Baselight’s user interface is a real positive for me,” he said. “I find myself moving a lot faster, which means more time to explore. I’m a really big fan of using Baselight’s tools in combination with one another – using blending modes to smash a bunch of various looks together is a large part of my experimentation and look development process.”

While NY and Toronto operate largely as self-contained facilities with their own projects, Artjail is enthused over having tighter integration between grading and various VFX pipelines. The FilmLight BLG render-free workflow--based on the small and portable OpenEXR BLG file that can be used to share looks between Baselight and NUKE, Flame or Avid--allows editors and compositors to access the full grade, in real time, by exchanging the compact BLG.

  • Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019
Google touts privacy options, but still depends on your data
In this Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, photo Rick Osterloh, SVP of Google Hardware gestures while interviewed in Mountain View, Calif. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Google's latest phone and smart-home devices came packaged with a not-so-subtle message: Google cares about your privacy. Does it?

The tech company has had a complicated relationship with user information in the past. Google's latest steps offer consumers some additional protections, although it's unclear how much more secure users will feel.

Google unveiled a new Pixel smartphone and other hardware devices on Tuesday, all aimed at getting people more hooked on services powered by the company's Google Assistant and other artificial-intelligence technology.

But privacy has emerged as a bigger issue with these products thanks to the growing popularity of always-listening "smart speakers" and similar devices.  Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Apple have all recently acknowledged employing human contractors to listen to and transcribe some voice recordings captured by AI software.

Most such AI work, from interpreting voice requests to answering questions to turning on your lights, takes place in the cloud, not on your device. Users have very little control of what happens to their data in the cloud.

On Tuesday, though, Google emphasized that much of what you do on its new phones will stay there. Its new facial recognition unlock feature won't transmit details to Google servers for processing, for instance, and its Assistant can also handle many queries directly on the phone. A new recording transcription feature and radar technology that recognizes gestures are also done on the device.

"You need to know what your data is safe," Rick Osterloh, Google senior vice president of hardware, said at the company's New York launch event Tuesday. "When computing is always available, designing for computing and privacy becomes more important than ever."

Apple and Amazon have also emphasized their privacy commitments at recent product launches.

The goal is to give people more choice over privacy settings, Osterloh said. Nest speakers and cameras now come with physical switches to turn off cameras and mics, for example.

Still, Google relies heavily on customer information to build user-specific profiles it uses to target digital advertising, which produces the vast majority of its income.

The Assistant, akin in basic function to Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa , is emerging as Google's latest digital data collector. It can learn more about you from your queries and can direct you to other Google services such as maps and search, which also feed into Google's multi-billion dollar advertising business.

"Their end game is trying to collect all this data and target you with advertising," said Victoria Petrock, principle analyst at eMarketer. "The voice is a whole new way to capture people's behaviors."

The more helpful the Assistant becomes, the more likely people are to use it.

On the hardware front, Google's new Pixel 4 features a fancier camera that will recognize people who've appeared previously in your photos in order to automatically focus on them in new shots.

The new phone also comes with motion-sensing technology that allows people to skip songs or switch apps by gesturing near the phone.

The Pixel 4 will carry a starting price tag of $799 — $100 more than the entry-level iPhone 11 — and will go on sale Oct. 24. The larger XL version will cost $899, or about $200 less than the similar-sized iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Google's phones have been well reviewed, but have yet to make much of a splash in the market dominated by Apple, Huawei and Samsung. In fact, Google's hardware products have never been big moneymakers. Rather, they offer a way for Google to showcase its money-making services.

The company also unveiled true wireless earbuds, called Pixel Buds, Google's answer to Apple's AirPods. The new model, which will go on sale early next year for $179, does away with the wire that connects the two buds.

Google introduced Nest Mini, the smaller version of its smart speaker. It comes out next Tuesday for $49. Google's refreshed Wi-Fi router, Nest Wi-Fi, will be available in the coming weeks for $269. A new Pixelbook Go laptop goes on sale in January staring at $649.

Google hardware team, including many former Google Glass engineers, work from a light-filled, architecturally impressive building near the company's main campus in Mountain View, California. The building is complete with a "color lab" for finding the perfect device hues, a materials library for all sorts of elemental inspiration and a small model shop to build device prototypes on site.

"We started by defining what it feels like to hold Google in your hands," hardware design executive Ivy Ross said. "The good thing about coming a little bit late to the hardware arena is you get to stand back and look at everyone else."

One of the challenges this time around was finding a way to make the products more sustainable, a feat especially notable on the Nest Mini, which has a "fabric" casing made of yarn created from plastic water bottles.

  • Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019
Michael Cioni joins Frame.io as Global SVP of Innovation
Michael Cioni (l) and Emery Wells

Frame.io, a video review and collaboration platform used by over 1 million filmmakers and media professionals, has brought Michael Cioni on board as Global SVP of Innovation. Cioni, a prominent production and post workflow expert, joins Frame.io from international camera company Panavision where, in a similar role, he spearheaded numerous breakthrough products and workflows, including the Millennium DXL 8K large-format camera system. 

At Frame.io, Cioni will lead a new L.A.-based division focused on the continued investment into cloud-enabled workflows for motion pictures and television--specifically, automated camera-to-cutting room technology. “Frame.io is not only looking to strengthen today’s use of the cloud, we’re also driving increased creative control by reducing the time it takes for media to reach editors in offsite cutting rooms,“ said Cioni.

“The professional filmmaking process is going through the largest functional change since the shift from analog to digital,” said Frame.io CEO Emery Wells. “While cloud-based technologies are already transforming every industry, we understand moving more of the filmmaking process to the cloud presents several unique challenges: security, file sizes, and scale. Since day one, we have built Frame.io to solve the issues that we lived working in postproduction.”

When it comes to security, Frame.io has responded to Hollywood’s unique needs by making it a cornerstone of the platform. “Frame.io has invested deeply in security so that customers experience safe, documented, and trustworthy cloud accessibility of their highest-value media,” said Cioni.

Additionally, “Hollywood’s attention to image quality, archiving, and future-proofing are all core aspects of the Frame.io platform,” Cioni stated. “Emery and I both know what it means to work with large creative teams, so at Frame.io we are developing a totally new direct camera-to-cutting room collaboration experience.”

Frame.io has been 100-percent cloud based since day one. “We started seeding new workflows around dailies, collaborative review, and real-time integration with NLEs for parallel work and approvals. Now, with Michael, we’re building Frame.io for the new frontier of cloud-enabled professional workflows,” Emery said.“Frame.io will leverage machine learning and a combination of software and hardware in a way that will truly revolutionize collaboration.“

With Cioni, Frame.io’s vision for the next generation of professional cinema workflows will be completely anchored in cloud-based technologies. “A robust camera-to-cloud approach means filmmakers will have greater access to their work, greater control of their content, and greater speed with which to make key decisions,” said Cioni. “Our new roadmap will dramatically reduce the time it takes to get original camera negative into the hands of editors. Directors, cinematographers, post houses, DITs, and editors will all be able to work with recorded images in real time, regardless of location.”

As the lines between production and postproduction continue to blur, this move uniquely positions Frame.io to respond to the pervasive need for global studios and creatives to collaborate without geographic boundaries or borders.

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