• Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014
SMPTE 2014 to delve Into UHDTV, image processing, theatrical display, audio technology
Jim DeFilippis, SMPTE 2014 Conference co-chair and SMPTE Fellow

The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) announced that the SMPTE 2014 Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (SMPTE 2014) will bring renowned experts to Hollywood, Calif., from Oct. 20-23 to offer insight into critical industry topics including the latest developments in ultra-high definition television (UHDTV) standards and systems, as well as in image processing, theatrical display, and audio technology.

“The rapid development of UHDTV, image processing, cinema projector, and immersive audio technologies over the past year will make for an exciting series of sessions at this year’s conference,” said Jim DeFilippis, SMPTE 2014 Conference Co-Chair and SMPTE Fellow. “Continued innovation in these areas promises not only to enrich storytelling itself, but also to alter and enhance the experience of moving images, both in the cinema and in the home. Experts from preeminent media technology companies around the world will present their latest work and findings in these dynamic areas of our industries.”

The session track “UHDTV: Building the Plane in Flight” will begin with a presentation by NHK’s Kenichiro Ichikawa, Seiji Mitsuhashi, Mayumi Abe, Akira Hanada, and Kohji Mitani, along with Mitsutoshi Kanetsuka of Sony, on a system capable of producing simultaneous 8K, 4K, and 2K video in real time from a single 4K camera and continue with a presentation by Belden’s Stephen H. Lampen on the challenges of transporting 4K (12 Gb/s) video over single-link coax and how they may be overcome. The series track will wrap up with a presentation by Archimedia’s Josef Marc on the implications of viewing 4K and UHD content in a largely 2K world and 2K content on UHD screens as the infrastructure for 4K evolves.

In the session entitled “Dammit, Gamut, I Love You!” NHK’s Kenichiro Masaoka, Takayuki Yamashita, Yukiko Iwasaki, Yukihiro Nishida, and Masayuki Sugawara will examine color management for wide-color-gamut UHDTV production; François Helt and Valerie La Torre of Highlands Technologies Solutions will look at a quality assessment framework for color conversions and perception; Lars Borg of Adobe will discuss improved methods for color matching between HD and UHD content, and Gary Demos of Image Essence will examine approaches to defining a high dynamic range (HDR) intermediate that can be used to help maintain the creative’s mastered intent. Presenters will discuss how these tools are being used to support development of wide-gamut displays, enable high-quality gamut mapping, and facilitate gamut conversion in which the perception of artistic intent is preserved from the initial working display to the viewer.

A session track entitled “Higher Frame Rates” asks “Is faster better?” and further examines the challenges, benefits, and solutions of working at frame rates beyond 60Hz, including both video and high frame rate (HFR) cinema formats through a series of presentations beginning with David Richards of Moving Image Technologies, who will discuss 120 frames per second (fps) capture as a universal open production standard. Paola Hobson of InSync Technology will continue with “High Frame Rate Video Conversion,” which will be followed by a presentation by Keith Slavin and Chad Fogg of ISOVIDEO on quality advancements and automation challenges in file-based conversion, with a focus on noise reduction, deinterlacing, HFR, and compression efficiency.

A session dedicated to display technologies will start with a presentation by consultant George Joblove, who will compare and contrast today’s numerous display performance measurements and what these photometric dimensions and units represent. A subsequent session by Peter H. Putman of Kramer Electronics on next-generation display interfaces will cover the latest versions of high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI), DisplayPort, and the many variations on each standard. The session will wrap up with a presentation by 3M’s Jimmy Thielen, James Hillis, John Van Derlofske, Dave Lamb, and Art Lathrop on quantum dots, a new backlighting system for achieving the wider color gamuts required for UHDTV, particularly as defined by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Recommendation BT.2020.

The SMPTE 2014 session called “Advancements in Theatrical Display” will feature a presentation by Dolby Laboratories’ Suzanne Farrell, Scott Daly, and Timo Kunkel on study results summarizing viewer preferences for cinema screen luminance dynamic range, followed by a presentation by Rick Posch of CR Media Technologies and Peter Ludé of RealD on development of an accurate and repeatable measurement method for speckle in laser illuminated projectors. The session will conclude with a presentation by Jim Houston of Starwatcher Digital and Bill Beck of Barco, who will discuss design considerations for cinema exhibition using laser illumination.

A three-part session “Developments in Audio Technology” will begin with presentations dedicated to tools for immersive audio. A presentation by Dolby Laboratories’ Charles Robinson and Nicolas Tsingos on cinematic sound scene description and rendering control will be followed by an examination of immersive audio systems and the management of consequent sounds, presented by Technicolor’s William Redmann. Part one of the session will wrap up with a presentation that brings Robert Bleidt of Fraunhofer USA, Arne Borsum and Harald Fuchs of Fraunhofer IIS, and S. Merrill Weiss together to discuss the opportunities that object-based audio provides for improving the listening experience and increasing listener involvement.

The second part of the audio technology developments session will look at the elements required to offer new audio services. A presentation by Jeffrey Riedmiller, Sripal Mehta, Prinyar Boon, and Nicolas Tsingos of Dolby Laboratories will first examine a practical system for enabling interchange, distribution, and delivery of next-generation audio experiences in the cinema. Shifting to include broadcast, a subsequent presentation by Thomas Lund of TC Electronic A/S will explore the technical aspects of loudness normalization versus speech normalization, followed by a presentation by Jon D. Paul of Scientific Conversion, who will provide an overview of the test data and recommendations for improved standards and reference designs for digital audio transmission.

The three-part session on audio technology developments will conclude with three presentations, and the first by Dolby Laboratories’ Michael Babbitt will examine leading-edge work on audio data management and analysis. J. Patrick Waddell of Harmonic will look at issues related to the CALM Act in his presentation “Have Things Calmed Down?”. The audio session will conclude with a look back at the origins of audio and video compression by Jon D. Paul.

In the conference’s multiple-part session on image processing, Seiichi Goshi of Kogakuin University will begin with a presentation introducing super resolution technology that uses nonlinear signal processing to create naturally appearing thin edges that do not exist in the original image. Technicolor’s Pierre Routhier will follow, presenting a model for motion control that ensures true 4K detail at capture, and Klaus Weber of Grass Valley will subsequently present on potential solutions for 4K or UHD image acquisition, with a focus on live broadcast production.

The second part of the image processing session will feature Scott Daly, Ning Xu, and James Crenshaw of Dolby Laboratories, along with Vickrant J. Zunjarrao of Microsoft, who will provide an overview of a psychophysical study isolating judder using fundamental signals, as well as what the results say about the appearance and magnitude of motion distortions from the viewer’s perspective. To conclude the session, Sony Electronics’ Gary Mandle will describe the systems used to acquire, develop, transmit, and record massive detailed images recorded over five U.S. lunar orbiter missions from 1966 to 1967, as well as the story of how the tapes and video equipment were saved and refurbished so that these images could be archived and publicly distributed.

  • Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014
Vitec Videocom acquires Autocue Group Ltd
Matt Danilowicz

Following approval from the Competition & Markets Authority, Vitec Videocom, a division of the Vitec Group plc, has completed the acquisition of Autocue. This deal forms part of the company’s ongoing strategic program to bring a broader range of solutions to its customers.

“We reached a conditional agreement to acquire Autocue in April and now that the Competition & Markets Authority has cleared the deal, we can move forward with integration,” said Matt Danilowicz, CEO, Vitec Videocom.

“Our top priority is ensuring that it remains business as usual for all our Autocue and Autoscript customers, while continuing to invest in the business and maintain high levels of service and product quality,” Danilowicz added. “Richard Satchell, the current CEO of Autocue, will be joining the team at Vitec Videocom and we look forward to him working with us to make this transition.”

The acquisition will help to ensure that both Autocue and Vitec Videocom customers have access to the broadest range of teleprompting technologies and solutions in the market that address the entire spectrum of requirements across all applications in terms of size and functionality.

  • Monday, Oct. 6, 2014
MassMarket rolls out MassMarker app
MassMarker app

MassMarket has designed MassMarker, billed as being the first device tracking app created with the detail-oriented VFX supervisor in mind, built for both iOS and Android platforms.

MassMarket has already used the app on three separate projects. Of the tailor-made functionalities, the Gesture Recording ability has been the most coveted and revolutionary.

“No other motion tracking app lets you save and record your gestures,” said Andrew Cohen, MassMarket software developer. “MassMarker will track any movement exactly, allow you to store the motion, and then play it back to assist during performance and interaction.”

The MassMarker app is free to download and is available on iTunes for iOS and on the Google Play Store for Android.

  • Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014
ALEXA’s 10th software update released
ALEXA Software Update Packet 10.0

The 10th free software update for ARRI’s ALEXA has been released following an open beta that began in August. It is available now here.

The many features in Software Update Packet (SUP) 10.0 have been chosen based on feedback from numerous set visits and a continual dialogue with cinematographers, assistants, DITs, rental and post houses, and ARRI partners.

At its launch, ALEXA was promised to be a future-proof system, so the feature set has evolved with changing shooting practices and needs. It is the re-programmable FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) processors inside ALEXA cameras that have enabled them to be updated with functionality far beyond the original specifications.

Apple ProRes 4444 XQ for ALEXA XT and XR
The new Apple ProRes 4444 XQ codec is the ideal choice for productions that are shooting for premium image quality, or are looking to take their color grading to extremes. This new 12 bit RGB codec supports HD and 2K resolutions as well as 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratios. Its data rate of 500 Mb/s (at 30 fps 1920 x 1080) is higher than ProRes 4444’s 330 Mb/s, allowing a lower compression ratio that better preserves the superior tonal range of ALEXA’s Log C signal.

Open Gate support for ALEXA XT M
The many movies that are already recording in the ARRIRAW Open Gate format with ALEXA XT, XT Plus and XT Studio cameras are now able to do the same with the compact ALEXA XT M. Open Gate records the full size of the ALEXA sensor for an easy 4K up-sample or for repositioning, resizing and stabilizing in post.

ARRIRAW 4:3 Cropped for ALEXA XT and XR
In order to reach 96 fps when shooting ARRIRAW 4:3 with anamorphic lenses, the new 2 ALEXA SUP 10.0 ‘ARRIRAW 4:3 Cropped’ mode reduces the width of the recorded image to 1.2:1, which is all that is needed to record the image produced by a 2x anamorphic lens.

180° image rotation – Allows Steadicam rigs to be flipped upside down for low mode shooting; it also rotates the image for the ARRI Ultra Wide Zoom UWZ 9.5-18/T2.9.

Support for SONY SxS PRO+ memory cards – ALEXAs now support recording ProRes or DNxHD to 64 GB and 128 GB SxS PRO+ memory cards.

REC OUT = clean MON OUT – More recording modes now support two independent HD-SDI outputs, allowing a clean Log C signal on REC OUT, while a Rec 709 signal with overlays and an optional ARRI Look File can be output on MON OUT.

Faster regular/high speed switching – The time it takes ALEXA to switch from regular (0.75-60 fps) to high speed mode (60-120 fps) has been reduced to about 20 seconds.

Dimmable status information – The status information overlay available on EVF and MON OUT can now be dimmed for low light scenes.

Monochrome status icons – The rectangular status icons to the left and right of the image are now monochrome, which is less distracting when color grading on the set.

Colored camera index letter – The camera index letter can be assigned one of six colors, making it easier to identify images from different cameras on monitors.

‘Lens Squeeze Factor’ metadata field – This allows the manual entry of a ‘Lens Squeeze Factor’ so post software can automatically de-squeeze anamorphic images.

Independent peaking setting for playback – Peaking on the MON OUT and EVF during playback can be set independently from peaking during recording.

The feedback keeps coming as digital production methods continue to evolve. Work is already underway on SUP 11.0, which will further improve the usefulness and flexibility of ALEXA cameras with features such as ProRes 3.2K and a checksum for ARRIRAW recording.

  • Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014
Imagineer Systems’ annual Halloween Video Contest gets underway

Imagineer Systems, creators of the Academy Award-winning mocha planar tracking technology, is again on the lookout for the year’s most horrifying, or most hysterical, Halloween short film. The Halloween-inspired videos will win a number of software prizes from Imagineer Systems and contest partners Boris FX, FXHome, Rampant Design, Red Giant and Digital Anarchy.

Eligible videos must include the use of mocha Pro, mocha Plus, mocha AE, or mocha HitFilm features, such as planar tracking, rotoscoping, screen inserts, 3D camera solve and object removal – the more creative the use, the better. Submissions will be judged on creativity and quality of visual effects. Enter before Halloween (by midnight, Thursday, October 30th) for a chance to take part in the frightening fun!

For more information, and for video inspiration and hints, click here.

How to Enter
   Create a short Halloween-inspired video using mocha Pro, mocha Plus, mocha AE or mocha HitFilm, no longer than five minutes. Submissions can be scary, spooky or silly!

    Upload the video to YouTube or Vimeo, and tag it with “mocha Halloween 2014.”

    Email the video link, full name and email address to mocha@imagineersystems.com.

    All submissions must be received by midnight on Thursday, October 30th, 2014.

The Prizes
mocha Pro 4: Academy Award-winning visual effects tool (Imagineer Systems; retail: $1495)

Continuum Complete 9 AE: Adobe After Effects CC and Premiere Pro CC’s most comprehensive VFX plug-in suite (Boris FX; retail: $995)

HitFilm 2 Ultimate: Essential editing package including 150+ effects and groundbreaking 3D compositing (FXHome; retail: $399)

Rampant Design Tools: Simple drag-and-drop QuickTime-based effects (Rampant Design; retail: $399)

Beauty Box: Digital makeup artist quality skin retouching video plug-in for After Effects, Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro and OpenFX (Digital Anarchy; retail: $199)

Red Giant Universe: One-year subscription. A community with access to an ever-expanding library of new FREE tools for filmmakers, editors, VFX artists, and motion designers. (Red Giant; retail $99)

  • Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014
Triangle Post becomes Canada’s 1st Forscene service provider
Matthew Bush, president of Triangle Post.

Forbidden Technologies plc, owner and developer of the cloud video platform Forscene, announced a partnership with Toronto post-production house Triangle Post. Triangle Post has incorporated Forscene into its postproduction services business, making it the first company in Canada to do so. Forscene’s cloud-based workflows will be available to Triangle’s clients and the Toronto broadcast community to complement existing Avid nonlinear editing (NLE) systems.

Matthew Bush, president of Triangle Post, first became aware of Forscene at this year’s NAB conference while exploring how people are embracing the cloud and how it could impact the Canadian broadcast industry. “At first I thought it was too simple, but then I realized that simplicity was the key,” he said. “Forscene worked, and it was easy to understand. I also saw how well it integrated with our existing Avid workflows.”

Forscene’s interface is simple enough for producers and directors but has an underlying array of sophisticated video production tools that appeal to editors. The platform integrates seamlessly with existing infrastructures to complement workflows that are already in place. Because Forscene is cloud-based and available on any computer, tablet, or smartphone with an Internet connection, production teams can use Forscene for any or all parts of the production process including logging, editing, review, and approval from anywhere in the world.

In Triangle Post’s case, Forscene offers clients the ability to prepare for their edit before postproduction officially begins. Online access enables Triangle’s clients to work with media they have stored on Triangle’s servers and to collaborate with others to log, edit, and review their project in Forscene from any location and then easily transfer the project to Avid when they are ready. It also gives members of a client’s production team who aren’t well-versed in Avid a way to start the shot selection and editing process. For example, a producer can create a rough cut in Forscene and then transfer the project to an Avid suite for further editing and finishing. With less time in Avid being spent on shot selection, more time can be spent on craft editing, resulting in a better product.

“With Forscene, Triangle Post can offer its clients a lower-cost, easy-to-use, yet powerful option to supplement the Avid system. And being able to offer the convenience of the cloud and enable remote collaboration is a bonus for everyone,” said Jeff Krebs, Forbidden’s regional manager for Canada and the Eastern U.S. “Forscene’s ease of use allows anyone on the production team to be up and running in minutes. It includes familiar storytelling tools to satisfy editors and it is fast and efficient from ingest to distribution.”

“Forscene is very powerful. I can only imagine where it will be in the near future,” Bush added. “It is the elegance of the application that allows the software to take control of the edit and let the creative process simply move forward.”

  • Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014
Artel Video Systems to showcase DigiLink Media Transport capabilities at SMPTE
WESTFORD, Mass. -- 

At SMPTE 2014, booth 105, Artel Video Systems, a global provider of broadcast-quality media transport solutions, will showcase JPEG 2000 compression functionality, broadcast video-over-IP, and integrated signal routing capability on its flagship DigiLink media transport platform. Recently honored with a Technology and Engineering Emmy Award by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) for its work on the Standardization and Productization of JPEG2000 (J2K) Interoperability, the company’s JPEG 2000 solution is designed to simplify and lower the costs associated with transporting broadcast-quality media across terrestrial networks.

“With the advent of new transport and interoperability standards for transporting JPEG 2000 streams, more and more broadcasters are migrating toward using IP-based media networks for video transport,” said Richard Dellacanonica, president at Artel Video Systems. “At SMPTE 2014, we will demonstrate why DigiLink is a perfect fit for these broadcast applications. Attendees can stop by our booth for a live demo, which will showcase the DigiLink platform’s unmatched flexibility, reliability, ease of use and configuration, and cost-effectiveness.”

DigiLink is currently deployed by major telcos and broadcasters around the world.

  • Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014
Motion Picture Academy adds 4 members to Tech Council
Cinematographer John Bailey (photo by Robert Primes)

John Bailey, Gale Anne Hurd, John Knoll and Michael Tronick have accepted invitations to join the Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, bringing the Council’s 2014–2015 membership roster to 25.

Bailey is a cinematographer with more than four-and-a-half decades of experience behind the camera. His career breakthrough came in 1980, when he served as director of photography on both “American Gigolo” and the Best Picture Oscar winner “Ordinary People.” His other credits include “The Accidental Tourist,” “Groundhog Day,” “As Good as It Gets,” “Country Strong” and “The Way, Way Back.” Bailey joined the Academy in 1981 and is currently a governor representing the Cinematographers Branch. He was elected to a vice president post this year.

Hurd is a producer and CEO of her own production company, Valhalla Motion Pictures. Her credits include such films as “Aliens,” “The Terminator” trilogy, “The Abyss,” “Armageddon” and “The Incredible Hulk,” as well as the record-breaking television series “The Walking Dead.” A former Academy governor, Hurd has chaired the Academy’s Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting Committee, Investment Committee, Producers Branch Executive Committee and Festival Grants Committee. She has been a member of the Producers Branch since 1987.

Knoll is the chief creative officer at Industrial Light & Magic, where he started out as a technical assistant in 1986. In 1988, he joined forces with his brother Thomas to create the groundbreaking Photoshop image-editing software. Knoll went on to supervise the visual effects on more than 20 feature films, earning Academy Award nominations for his work on “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace,” “Star Wars Episode II Attack of the Clones” and the first three “Pirates of the Caribbean” films; he took home an Oscar® for “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.” An Academy member since 1997, Knoll is currently a governor representing the Visual Effects Branch.

Tronick is a film editor who began his career as a music editor in the late 1970s. He served both roles for the 1984 feature “Streets of Fire,” and by the end of the decade, he had turned his attention to film editing full-time. His feature credits include “Midnight Run,” “Days of Thunder,” “Scent of a Woman” “True Romance,” “Remember the Titans,” “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” “Hairspray” and “2 Guns.” Tronick currently serves as an Academy governor representing the Film Editors Branch. He has been an Academy member since 1979.

The 2014–2015 Council co-chairs are two members of the Academy’s Visual Effects Branch: Craig Barron, an Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor and former Academy governor; and Paul Debevec, chief visual officer at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies and a lead developer of Light Stage, an image capture and rendering technology for which he received an Academy Scientific and Engineering Award in 2009.

The Council’s 19 other members are Wendy Aylsworth, Rob Bredow, Lisa Churgin, Elizabeth Cohen, Academy governor Richard Edlund, Doug Greenfield, Don Hall, John Hora, Jim Houston, Rob Hummel, Randal Kleiser, Bev Pasterczyk, Josh Pines, Rick Sayre, Milt Shefter, Dave Stump, Steve Sullivan, Academy governor Bill Taylor and Beverly Wood.

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 science and technology of motion pictures. 

  • Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014
Digital Nirvana secures pair of manufacturer reps
Digital Nirvana's Media Management Platform
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Digital Nirvana, developers of a media management platform for content creation, capture and delivery, has secured two new manufacturers’ representatives: Torrance, Calif.-based Piper Digital; and A and D Avenues out of Roanoke, VA. Digital Nirvana’s Media Management Platform enables broadcasters, media and entertainment professionals to create audio/video content, capture it from multiple sources, and publish it to multiple digital platforms, while monitoring for quality and compliance.

Piper Digital will spearhead sales in Southern California (with a focus on the Los Angeles market), Arizona, and Nevada; while A and D Avenues will represent the Washington, D.C. area; North and South Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; and Florida.

Arco Groenenberg is director of sales and marketing for broadcast products at Digital Nirvana.

A and D Avenues brings over 15 years of experience as a manufacturer’s representative for broadcast and AV products and services to the government, broadcast and A/V markets.

Piper Digital is a manufacturer’s representative for broadcast, A/V, production, digital signage, and IPTV equipment. The company specializes in acquisition, signal management, signal transport, fiber, storage, station automation, archiving and management systems. 

  • Friday, Sep. 26, 2014
Deluxe Toronto launches Canada’s 1st Dolby Atmos mixing stage

Deluxe Toronto Ltd.—a division of Deluxe Entertainment Services Group Inc., global supplier of a broad range of services and technologies to the entertainment industry—has completed a major upgrade of its mixing rooms.

Improvements include the introduction of Dolby Atmos® technology to Mix 1—Canada’s largest film mixing stage. Among other upgrades to its mixing rooms, Deluxe has added JBL M2 Master Reference monitors.

“The introduction of Dolby Atmos, complemented with speaker and amp upgrades from Harman’s  JBL Professional and Crown Audio brands, makes our new mix theaters the most technically complete in Canada for film and TV sound re-recording,” said Nick Iannelli, VP of postproduction operations at Deluxe Toronto.

The new additions “allow us to state unequivocally that you will hear a difference in fidelity and sound clarity when mixing at Deluxe,” Iannelli added.

“Dolby recognizes the importance and value of having a strong presence in Canada’s vital postproduction community,” said Curt Behlmer, senior VP of content solutions and industry relations at Dolby Laboratories.   “We couldn’t be more pleased and know that this respected Dolby Atmos mixing stage—our first in Canada—will help filmmakers realize their creative visions going forward.”

Said Peter Chaikin, director of recording and broadcast at JBL Professional: “Incorporating new patented JBL technologies, the innovative JBL M2 monitor was designed to deliver a level of sound clarity unmatched in the postproduction industry....We are delighted Deluxe Toronto has become a flagship location for the M2 in Canada.”

Deluxe is a key supplier to the Canadian post-production and media services industry. Its tech upgrades coincide with Deluxe’s recent relocation to a new, state-of-the-art facility in downtown Toronto. Recent projects at the facility include feature work on Atom Egoyan’s “The Captive” and David Cronenberg’s “Maps to the Stars,” and Deluxe soon will start postproduction on Guillermo del Toro’s “Crimson Peak.” Recent TV projects include work on “Vikings,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Penny Dreadful.”

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