• Wednesday, Mar. 2, 2022
Cooke brings DPs "In From The Cold"
Margarita Levieva in a scene from "In From The Cold"
LEICESTER, UK -- 

Cinematographers Hermes Marco AEC and Imanol Nabea worked with Cooke S7/i Full Frame Plus and vintage Cooke Speed Panchro S2/S3 sets to bring contrasting scenes to the Netflix sci fi thriller In From The Cold. The series follows a single mother exposed as an ex-Russian spy, who must juggle family life and unique shape-shifting skills in a battle against an insidious enemy. DP Marco also went with a modern Cooke Panchro/i Classic 65mm Macro lens to create a stunning contrast between different cities and time frames.   

After a halt in the start of principal photography due to the first lockdown, filming began in Spain in the midst of the pandemic back when access to gear was difficult with productions resuming all around the world. Rental teams found it challenging to put together all the required lenses. But Hermes’ and rental house Welab’s perseverance and contact with Cooke led them to get what was needed.

  • Wednesday, Mar. 2, 2022
NBC goes with Sony for Winter Games
Sony HDC-3500 camera
STAMFORD, Conn. -- 

NBC Sports selected Sony Electronics to provide cutting-edge broadcast and production equipment for its coverage of the XXIV Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.

NBC Sports utilized over 100 Sony cameras to capture footage at event venues and record athlete interviews, press conferences, and other assignments that require studio and portable recording and capture in Beijing. A selection of Sony cameras, including the HDC-3500, were used for IP-enabled transmission, while the rest operated in SDI.

NBC also incorporated more than 300 of Sony’s professional monitors, including the BVM-HX310 4K HDR master monitor for critical picture evaluation and PVM-X Series 4K HDR TRIMASTER monitors for on set and location monitoring.

  • Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022
Ergorig and AGITO Remote Dolly systems to receive SOC Technical Achievement Awards
Cinema Devices' Ergorig System will be honored with a SOC Technical Achievement Award
LOS ANGELES -- 

The Society of Camera Operators (SOC) has revealed the recipients of its Technical Achievement Awards--Motion Impossible’s AGITO Remote Dolly Systems, and Cinema Devices’ Ergorig System.

To qualify for a SOC Technical Achievement Award, the technical development and the company and/or individuals must endure a rigorous judging process and review from eight SOC members during the Award Judging Day, which was hosted on January 15, 2022.

“We are truly honored that each year the showing of technologies presented gets more and more impressive,” shared Eric Fletcher, SOC, Technical Committee chair. “The judges have a tough job of selecting the top technical development. Whether it’s completely new, important, a lasting device or technique, or even a significant improvement on an existing equipment or product, the innovation from all the companies is truly unbelievable.” 

Both recipients--AGITO Remote Dolly Systems, and the Ergorig System--will be celebrated and acknowledged during the upcoming virtual 2022 Society of Camera Operators Awards Celebration on Saturday, March 5, 2022. The virtual gathering will also celebrate the nominees and winners of the Camera Operator of the Year Awards for Film and Television.

  • Monday, Feb. 14, 2022
Buffett's firm scores big with stake in Activision Blizzard
Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, speaks following the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting in Omaha, Neb., May 5, 2019. Buffett's company placed a rare bet on a technology company late last year and it has already paid off in a big way. Berkshire Hathaway revealed in documents filed with regulators on Monday that it bought near 15 million shares in game publisher Activision Blizzard during the last three months of 2021. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- 

Warren Buffett's company placed a rare bet on a technology company late last year and it has already paid off in a big way.

Berkshire Hathaway revealed in documents filed with regulators on Monday that it bought near 15 million shares in game publisher Activision Blizzard during the last three months of 2021.

The purchase came not long before Microsoft's announcement in January that it was acquiring Activision for $68.7 billion, sending the stock soaring. Activision's shares are up 22.5% so far this year.

Berkshire estimated that its 14.7 million shares in Activision Blizzard, the maker of Candy Crush and Call of Duty, were worth roughly $975 million at the end of 2021. At the close of trading Monday, they were worth $1.19 billion.

The investment by Buffett's firm was a surprising move by the famously tech-averse investor. Buffett has long avoided investing in tech companies because he says it is too hard for him to pick the long-time winners in that sector.

The other changes to Berkshire's roughly $330 billion portfolio revealed Monday were more typical for Buffett, such as increasing an investment in oil giant Chevron, eliminating a stake in Teva Pharmaceuticals and trimming its investments in several other drugmakers.

Buffett and other Berkshire officials don't comment on these quarterly stock filings, and the reports don't state whether either one of Berkshire's two other investment managers made the moves. Buffett typically handles all the company's larger investments worth more than $1 billion apiece such as its major stakes in Apple, Bank of America and Coca-Cola, so the size of the Activision Blizzard investment suggests Buffett made that decision.

Berkshire continued rebuilding its Chevron investment in the fourth quarter when it picked up nearly 10 million shares, but the stake of 38.2 million shares remains smaller than the 48.5 million shares it held when it first revealed the investment a year ago. Berkshire sold off a large chunk of its Chevron investment in the first half of last year.

Buffett's firm sold off the 42.8 million Teva shares it held and trimmed its holdings in other pharmaceutical companies Bristol Myers Squibb, Abbvie and Royalty Pharma.

Berkshire also eliminated a $266 million investment in Sirius XM during the quarter.

It revealed a new investment in Brazilian fintech NU Holdings that went public in December. Buffett's company held 107 million shares of NU Holdings at the end of the year.

In other moves, Berkshire cut down its investment in professional services firm Marsh & McLennan and trimmed its holdings in Mastercard, Visa and Charter Communications.

Besides investments, Berkshire owns more than 90 companies outright, including Geico insurance, BNSF railroad, and several major utilities. The conglomerate also owns manufacturing, furniture, shoe, jewelry, chocolate, underwear and brick companies.

  • Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022
Remote Games: NBC announcers ready to call Olympics from U.S.
A puck slides over the Olympic rings during a hockey practice at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Dan Hicks had a short drive from his home to NBC Sports headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut, the past two years to call the French Open and some World Cup skiing events. He didn't imagine he would be doing it for an Olympics, though.

With China's strict policy about those who test positive for COVID-19, Hicks and most of NBC's announcers for the Beijing Games are stationed stateside. Hicks was in Tokyo to call swimming for last year's Summer Games, when NBC had its announcers on site for the marquee sports.

While Hicks would like to be at the ski venue in Yanqing to call the competition, he realizes it isn't feasible.

"I was bummed. No doubt about it but I know this was the right call by our NBC folks," Hicks said. "I kind of expected this was going to be the case when I was notified. The protocols are the strictest I think we've ever seen."

NBC isn't alone in keeping its announcers home. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has almost all its analysts and announcers working out of studios in Toronto and Montreal. The British Broadcasting Corporation is also keeping announcers at studios outside London.

The only major network sending a large contingent to Beijing is Australia's Seven Network since Olympics held in Asia are the equivalent of when NBC gets to do the Games in North America.

The revised plan had NBC sending announcing crews for Alpine skiing, figure skating and snowboarding. Hicks said he was originally supposed to depart for China on Jan. 24 until NBC made its final decision. 

"It's just too much of a gamble to bring the announcers there. Let's say we test negative here and test positive there, you've got no recourse and are subjected to the protocols," Hicks said. "You're in somebody else's country, you're under the jurisdiction of their rules and how they operate. We just couldn't take a chance."

The most NBC, CBC and BBC have on the ground in Beijing is technical staff. Some reporters from NBC's sports and news divisions will be based in Beijing during the Games. 

NBC's biggest name at the Olympics is prime-time host Mike Tirico. He will anchor coverage from Beijing on Thursday through Feb. 10 before flying to Los Angeles to host the next three days and the network's coverage of the Super Bowl. NBC said it would determine over Super Bowl weekend where Tirico would be based for the final week of the Games.

Past Olympics have been done remotely. It just hasn't been done at this scale. NBC had some basketball and hockey games as well as some other sports done from either New York or Stamford in the past.

Remote coverage became common on all networks during the pandemic, especially in 2020 and early last year when fans were not allowed in many arenas and stadiums.

Tara Lipinski is no stranger to calling events from Stamford. Lipinski, Johnny Weir and Terry Gannon are used to calling Grand Prix or World Championships from there. With figure skating being the premiere event of the Games, though, they will be receiving one of the bigger studios instead of having to work from a tiny booth.

"An Olympics is an Olympics wherever you are. So you show me those rings, and I'll bring the tears," Lipinski said. "Even if we were just calling it from a small TV in our hotel rooms, we'd have the same energy and excitement."

All the announcers at Stamford will have the same video feeds and statistical monitors that they would have if they were at the venues. Lipinski said the setup shouldn't be much different from the one they are used to.

"Even though we were at an arena, we have about 16 screens in front of us that we're looking at. So we're not always looking at the ice," she said. "We're looking at scoreboards, different monitors that are showing the skaters up close or just the regular feed right in front of us. I think once we're sitting in that studio, it's not going to feel that much different."

The biggest challenge might be the time difference. With Beijing 13 hours ahead of Connecticut, most announcers will be up throughout the night. 

Hicks — who called 95% of a race off a monitor when he was at a ski event — noted the drawbacks to not being there are that analysts Ted Ligety and Steve Porino are not able to ski the course before competition and get perspective from some athletes and coaches. They will still be able to text with coaches before an event to get a read on conditions.

Hicks and Lipinski said that no matter where they are during the Olympics, their jobs remains the same.

"It's on me and the rest of our talent to tell the stories," Hicks said. "And we can tell those stories from a booth in Stamford, Connecticut, just as well as we can tell them from a booth overlooking the finish line in Beijing."
 

  • Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022
Facebook parent Meta creates powerful AI supercomputer
Facebook employees take a photo with the company's new name and logo outside its headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., Oct. 28, 2021. Facebook’s parent company Meta on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 said it has created what it believes is among the fastest artificial intelligence supercomputers running today. The social media giant said it hopes the machine will help lay the groundwork for its building of the metaverse, a virtual reality construct intended to supplant the internet as we know it today. Facebook said it believes the computer will be the fastest in the world once it is fully built around the middle of the year. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) -- 

Facebook's parent company Meta on Monday said it has created what it believes is among the fastest artificial intelligence supercomputers running today.

The social media giant said it hopes the machine will help lay the groundwork for its building of the metaverse, a virtual reality construct intended to supplant the internet as we know it today.

Facebook said it believes the computer will be the fastest in the world once it is fully built around the middle of the year. 

Supercomputers are extremely fast and powerful machines built to do complex calculations not possible with a regular home computer. Meta did not disclose where the computer is located or how much it is costing to build.

The computer, which is already up and running but is still being built, is called AI Research SuperCluster. Meta says it will help its AI researchers build "new and better" artificial intelligence models that can learn from "trillions" of examples and work across hundreds of different languages simultaneously and analyze text, images and video together. 

The way Meta is defining the power of its computer is different from how conventional and more technically powerful supercomputers are measured because it relies on the performance of graphics-processing chips, which are useful for running "deep learning" algorithms that can understand what's in an image, analyze text and translate between languages, said Tuomas Sandholm, a computer science professor and co-director of the AI center at Carnegie Mellon University.

"We hope RSC will help us build entirely new AI systems that can, for example, power real-time voice translations to large groups of people, each speaking a different language, so they can seamlessly collaborate on a research project or play an AR game together," Meta said in a blog post.

The company said its supercomputer will incorporate "real-world examples" from its own systems into training its AI. It says its previous efforts used only open-source and other publicly available data sets. 

"They are going to, for the first time, put their customer data on their AI research computer," Sandholm said. "That would be a really big change to give AI researchers and algorithms access to all that data."

  • Monday, Jan. 24, 2022
Autodesk acquires Moxion cloud solution for digital dailies
Moxion on a film set
SAN FRANCISCO -- 

Autodesk has acquired Moxion, a New Zealand-based developer of a powerful, cloud-based platform for digital dailies used by filmmakers on some of the most complex and challenging productions, including “The Midnight Sky,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” and “The Matrix Resurrections.” The acquisition of Moxion’s talent and technology will expand Autodesk’s own cloud platform for media and entertainment upstream, moving beyond postproduction into production, bringing new users to Autodesk while helping better integrate processes across the entire content production chain. 

Founded In 2015, Moxion has won accolades that include an Engineering Excellence Award from the Hollywood Professional Association (HPA), a Workflow Systems Medal from the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), and a Lumiere Award from the Advanced Imaging Society. 

Moxion established itself as a leader in secure digital dailies workflows. The company enables professionals to collaborate and review camera footage on-set and remotely with the efficiency and immediacy required to make creative decisions during principal photography in 4K high dynamic range (HDR) quality and with studio-grade security, reducing rework. Data protection is paramount at Moxion, ensuring security with features like MPAA compliance, multi-factor authentication, visible and invisible forensic watermarking and full digital rights management.

“As the content demand continues to boom with pressure on creators to do more for less, this acquisition helps us facilitate broader collaboration and communication, and drive greater efficiencies in the production process, saving time and money,” said Diana Colella, SVP media & entertainment, Autodesk. “Moxion accelerates our vision for production in the cloud, building on our recent acquisition of Tangent Labs.”

“We look forward to combining the efforts of our talented team with the deep resources and wealth of engineering talent at Autodesk to give customers new Moxion features and integrations,” said Hugh Calveley, CEO, Moxion. “Bringing together industry leading on-set and postproduction workflows will help unite data and increase collaboration across the production process to improve project efficiency.”

Aaron Morton, a cinematographer who has worked on projects including “Orphan Black,” “Black Mirror,” “American Gods,” and Amazon’s new “The Lord of the Rings” series used Moxion for several projects.

“It’s never fun when decisions are being formed about your work if the dailies aren’t the way you wanted them to look,” said Morton, NZCS. “With Moxion, it’s what I see on the set, and the decisions I make with the dailies colorist always play out so that production people and producers are seeing what I want them to see. The images are very true to what we see while we’re shooting.”

The Moxion acquisition expands Autodesk’s customer base upstream, moving beyond postproduction to on-set production, a critical point in the film and television production process. This is when the bulk of raw production data is generated, and creative decisions are made that have significant impact downstream during postproduction. 

  • Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022
DP Jeremy Benning Takes Cooke Optics For A "Spin"
Jeremy Benning, CSC
LEICESTER, UK -- 

The Disney Channel’s original musical comedy movie Spin is full of the type of color palettes expected of a story that follows an Indian American 15-year-old--played by Avantika--who discovers her artistic side through the unique world of DJ culture, and learns she has a passion for creating mixes that blend the textures of her Indian heritage and the world around her. To help show off the beauty of that world, cinematographer Jeremy Benning CSC and director Manjari Makijany selected the Cooke Optics S7/i Full Frame Plus for this large format production.

Spin was shot in Toronto and other areas around Ontario, Canada, using three ARRI ALEXA Mini LF cameras.  Benning observed that the  “Cooke lenses, especially the larger S7s, have great bokeh with roll-off, smoothness and distortion that works well for faces. They’re also great at separation of foreground and background, giving a 3D type look.”

  • Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022
An Avid pursuit to promote DEI
BURLINGTON, Mass. -- 

Avid® and the customer-led Avid Community Association (ACA) debuted the Avid Learning Collective program to gift professional media creation technologies, training and certification to not-for-profit educational organizations that have proven to inspire, engage and activate creators in underrepresented communities. Avid and the ACA also introduced the six inaugural award recipients, identified for their outstanding missions and achievements: Boston Arts Academy, Ghetto Film School, Girls Make Beats, Immersive & Inclusive Audio Institute, MAMA Youth Project and The Last Mile.

Each year, the Avid Learning Collective will welcome six additional educational organizations and initiatives that demonstrate the intention and ability to influence the current state of DEI through student advancement. For three years, recipients will enjoy membership in the global Avid Learning Partner program, which brings licenses for Avid creative tools, teacher training and course materials for students as well as peer and professional networking to cultivate visibility, mentoring and job opportunities for students.

  • Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022
DaVinci "Not Going Quietly" at post house Irving Harvey
A scene from "Not Going Quietly"
NEW YORK -- 

Irving Harvey, a NYC-based post house, used Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve Studio to grade the documentary Not Going Quietly. The software’s real time collaboration tools also helped support colorist Samuel Gursky’s remote workflow for the film.

Directed by Nicholas Bruckman, Not Going Quietly follows Ady Barkan, a father and activist whose life is upended when he’s diagnosed with ALS. After a chance encounter and confrontation with a powerful senator goes viral and catapults him to national fame, Barkan embarks on a campaign for healthcare reform. Produced by Amanda Roddy and executive produced by Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass and Bradley Whitford, Not Going Quietly won a Special Jury Recognition for Humanity in Social Action at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival, earned a best feature nomination from the International Documentary Association (IDA) Awards, and garnered two noms for Critics Choice Documentary Awards. 

Gursky and the Irving Harvey team pivoted to a remote setup as they began working on the film. Leveraging DaVinci Resolve Studio’s collaboration features, Gursky continued his work from home, providing the film’s editor with a matching OLED monitor, DeckLink Mini Monitor capture and playback card, and DaVinci Resolve Studio so they could collaborate remotely in real time.

“We used DaVinci Resolve Studio’s collaboration features to screen and revise on the fly while both reviewing on the same model of monitor. It was important that we both had the same highest quality image to review, so we could make sure no detail went unnoticed,” said Gursky. “With this setup, we were able to easily go through before and afters of various grades live to finetune together, which felt very collaborative even though we were viewing them separately.”

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